“I really don’t care anymore”. I believe there is a correlation between the use of this phrase and the success of a Government. This is because the public should care, should be engaged, should be enthused.
By not caring the public demonstrate an apathy created by failure. “I really don’t care about Brexit, I just wish they would do something to sort it out”‘, or “I really don’t care where they put the hospital, I just wish they would get on and build it (and stop wasting our money)” , are obvious examples.
In some respects, you would expect the rise of social media to make people more engaged, but I think the opposite has happened. This may be because there are so many competing views, propaganda, and sound-bites that people increasingly sit on the fence or, worse still, suppress their opinions in case they upset someone or encounter retaliatory abuse.
I’ve worked 41 years in investment management and within my industry traditional economic theory taught at university has not kept pace with the realities of modern economics. My short paper on the deleveraging effects of peer-to-peer lending on property bubbles prompted a personal response from Mark Carney (Bank of England), and a paper on how quantitative easing is actually deflationary rather than inflationary as classical economics suggests was well received by Janet Yellen (US Federal Reserve) – so I’m confident in my abilities in this area.
Without engagement from the public the politicians and public sector can operate at their own pace, without direction, oversight, or urgency. In order to address this it will be important to approach public engagement in a way that brings the majority into the political debate, without alienating those comfortable with the current system. In other words, you retain the heritage of the current system and add an overlay that will appeal to modern society. The traditional ‘political party’ would not achieve this as, like economic theory, it is a concept that has failed to evolve with the times. I have not quite worked out how to achieve this piece of political ideology, but I admit that it is something I am working on.
Two of the most important issues will be trust and confidence. Often losing faith in a Government is because these two qualities have been lost. There would be no issue with the hospital site if you trusted the government and had 100% confidence that they would deliver. Plenty of food for thought before the next election in under three years.
Written by Ben Shenton, Published in the JEP, 13th August 2019.