from Edward Fullbrook
A major economic policy of the United Kingdom’s new (spring 2010) coalition government is to drastically reduce government investment in higher education. As economists we sometimes forget that economic policies ultimately require political feasibility. An obvious consideration behind the UK government’s decision to target young people wanting higher education is the reputation of today’s youth – and this generally holds true worldwide – of being catatonically apathetic about social ethics and political issues. This and the facts that they have no effective lobbyists, no large campaign funds to withdraw, no money for advertising, and no media ownership makes them in politicians’ eyes easy prey for the new austerity economics. Even so, the UK government has decided to play it ultra safe. The legislation pending before its parliament – and it almost certainly will pass – exempts current university students and those beginning next year, thereby presumably eliminating them as possible resistors.
But things are not working out quite like the UK’s political establishment planned. It may turn out that in the longer run their neoclassical inspired economic policies lack the political feasibility that they – and nearly everyone left, right and centre – had presumed. Students, including large numbers of pre-university ones, have in the past two weeks mobilized for large public demonstrations in cities across the UK. A few months ago no one thought this was possible. Naturally the lobbyists and media owners, faced with what is now a seriously growing intrusion on their influence, are furious. Moreover, increasingly there are reasons to believe that this may prove to be neither a mere seasonal phenomenon nor one confined to the UK. There are signs that the generation currently coming of age is gearing up for a fight-back against plutonomy. If you ever despair about the future of democracy, then watch this four-minute video. It, rather than the Murdochs’, could be the voice of tomorrow.