The disaster capitalism of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng leaves the UK cold and alone

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When Britain’s new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng rose to the stage at the Conservative Party conference yesterday, he was a lone figure.

Only a few days earlier, his French counterpart had announced a budget that included major spending increases for the ministries of labor, health, ecological transition and education.

Meanwhile, the German federal government is “invest in the future”, pouring billions of euros into “climate protection, digitalisation, education and research as well as the necessary infrastructure”. Over the summer, in a bid to get the economy back on track after the pandemic, Germany’s state-owned rail company slashed the price of rail fares – offering unlimited local and regional journeys for just nine euros a month.

In Spain, anyone turning 18 this year is given €400 to spend on books, concerts, theater tickets or other cultural activities to boost the arts after the pandemic, while train travel across large parts of the national rail network is currently free.

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Looking further, in the United States, the Cut Inflation Act will inject hundreds of billions of public money into the transition and low-carbon health care, including reducing the cost of prescriptions and by canceling $10,000 in student loans for millions of graduates. It’s part of an attempt, as the White House dubbed the proposals behind the legislation, to “build back better” – with President Joe Biden having told Congress, “the trickle-down economy has never It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle”.

In Brazil, the day before Kwarteng’s speech, former left-wing president Lula De Silva, who ran on promises of removing the government spending cap and investing in infrastructure, pushed ahead of far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the first round of the country’s presidential election, the most important vote of 2022. Although Lula did not again crossed the line, he is the clear favourite.

Across the Western world, state-led investment is back. Limping out of a pandemic and into a European war, anticipating mounting climate chaos and returning to a decade of stagnant wages and skyrocketing billionaire wealth, most governments, most citizens, can see that an experiment 40 years with radically free markets was a grim one. Most can see the need to pull themselves together, that collective action is needed to navigate the current omnicrisis.

But in Britain we have a return to tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the rest. Rather than putting money in the pockets of ordinary people, Kwarteng is cutting corporation tax by £19billion, promoting free-for-all on bankers’ bonuses and launching what Gordon Brown has called a ” charter of tax avoiders”, considerably reducing taxes for employees. who can declare themselves independent.

Two decades ago, Kwarteng’s ideas were wrong, but they were at least fashionable. Now Brexit Britain stands alone.

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