The slower decisions are taken, the more we need a Roosevelt to shake up Britain


We face a very uncertain future in UK unless we adopt radically new ideas. Yet we have a government without inspiration, which repeats the same worn and inadequate policies of the past.

To combat inflation, we increase interest rates, tacitly ignoring the devastation imposed on anyone with a mortgage, in debt or made redundant.  Are there alternatives? Milton Friedman taught that reducing the money supply was a better way of controlling inflation. The US did this in the 1970s and successfully reduced inflation.

A recent problem, RAAC concrete has been known as a risk for decades. In 2018 a school roof collapsed, yet our government decides only days before schools reopen that over 100 are at risk with some too dangerous to open.

Why do our ministers take so long making decisions? Because they require no training and change roles repeatedly (in five years there have been six business secretaries and four prime ministers), many fail to appreciate the complexities of chemical reactions, structural engineering, health requirements, taxation and so on.

Arrhenius in 1896 said if we continued to burn fossil fuels we would cause global warming. If we had acted on his advice then, we wouldn’t be in the state we are now. We continue pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere, causing increases in flooding, droughts, forest fires, water shortages and depletion of food crops. Instead, governments fail to act decisively because they fear losing elections.

America is subsidising US located environmental businesses. As a result, critically important businesses are moving out of Britain to benefit from these subsidies.  It is commonly thought that Britain cannot compete with this and decline faces us.

But there is an alternative, it’s called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – printing money in other ways. The Gold Standard prevented new money being produced. Since nations left the gold standard, new money is printed by governments and banks, thus the world operates MMT.    

There are many examples where money printing has been successful:

  • The American Civil War was partially financed by printed money. 
  • In 1816, desperately poor Guernsey printed currency to pay workers to build roads and public building. Islanders gladly accepted the currency and, thereby, Guernsey prospered.
  • Many European countries stopped the link to gold during the Great War to permit them to print money to fund the war. 
  • How could 1930s Germany, a broken nation grow to dominate and conquer virtually the whole of Europe in World War II? The Reichsbank president fabricated a non-existent company which printed IOUs. These were traded as currency for rearmament.
  • Britain came off the Gold Standard in 1931, making more money available and increasing demand for goods. 
  • Following the financial crisis of 2008, UK and other nations, printed money via Quantitative Easing.  The aim was for banks to invest in businesses, and boost the economy but they instead predominantly invested in assets and property, inflating prices to the extent that young people cannot now afford houses.
  • The Roosevelt New Deal of 1933 was successful because the President took the nation off the Gold Standard, allowing money printing.

The 1929 Great Depression destroyed livelihoods around the world caused partially by adherence to the gold standard, limiting the ability to grow the money supply. US manufacturing decreased by 33 per cent, prices collapsed by 20 per cent, unemployment rose from 4 to 25 per cent, with nearly 13 million out of work and 30 per cent of those who were employed finding only part-time work. Farm incomes fell by over half.

Between 1930 and 1933, an estimated 844,000 mortgages were foreclosed – banks failed, life savings were lost and lives were devastated. Political and business leaders feared revolution and anarchy.

Just as now in the UK, there were demands in US for financial stringency led by budget director Lewis Douglas. He wanted only short term assistance for the unemployed and no provision of a work programme.

Fortunately, Roosevelt ignored these demands.  His New Deal programs built the Tennessee Valley Authority, gave work to millions of unemployed, appointed 50,000 teachers. 2,500 hospitals and 45,000 schools were built.  It established 13,000 parks, 7,800 bridges, 700,000 miles of roads, 1,000 airfields and gave hope to millions who would otherwise have been destitute.

Britain needs the inspiration of a Roosevelt to overcome the moribund state we are in. Indiscriminate use of money printing can lead to explosive inflation as in the Weimar Republic after World War I. The inflation the Weimar Republic suffered can be avoided by limiting money production to investments which yield a return:

  • Provide completely free childcare. UK has one of the world’s highest childcare costs, many mothers give up work to care for their children and are lost to the workforce.
  • Inaugurate a programme advising on parenting skill for teenage students aimed at reducing child delinquency.

We are investing in new sources of food and energy but not enough. We should invest more in R & D. Examples are:

  • Algae can produce 300 times more oil than crops like rape, palm, soya, and can be harvested in 1 to 10 days, it flourishes where other crops would die. Residue from algae can enrich soil.  CO2, released in alcohol production can be absorbed by algae with each ton consuming two tons of CO2. Protein rich algae can be a food source for fisheries. Algae can extract minerals such as nickel and zinc from industrial water.
  • Sea grown kelp grows up to 2ft per day, reaching up to 150ft, needing only sunlight and nutrients in the sea and can provide fuel for vehicles.  Government website speaks of knowledge gaps, more money should be spent on filling these gaps.
  • The use of used vegetable oil for heating and transport is close to carbon neutral. The excise duty this attracts should be removed to render it more competitive with fossil fuels.
  • 70% of fresh water is trapped in polar areas and 40 percent of humans live in areas where water is not readily available. More research should be carried out into cost effective methods for safely recycling water at domestic level. 
  • Agriculture produces up to half of human caused pollution. Vertical farming grows crops in multilayers in a single building where controlled heating, circulation of CO2, precise use of water and nutrients can grow crops 24/7 close to supermarkets, minimising transport costs
  • To reverse the trend for companies going overseas, new start-ups should be encouraged by being absolved from paying tax for five years. This would increase their profitability and attractiveness to entrepreneurs.

Government wants to do anything which appears green. It had decided to stop the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, now 2035. This could scrap an industry of up to 780,000 people in UK. Only electric vehicles will be sold but lack of charging points and mileage anxiety are reducing demand. It is apparent that they were introduced prematurely and a lot more research is needed into better batteries.

The government should invest in keeping internal combustion engines, using hydrogen for fuel as has been done by JCB.  Toyota has achieved a range of over 800 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, refilling takes roughly the same time as a petrol-driven car.

Rate this post!

Average rating 3.7 / 5. Vote count: 3

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

Leave a Reply

The Author
Latest Related Work
Follow Us