12:48

The future - and it's not pretty

I saw a graph today that is not for the faint of heart. It showed where the
UK, and almost certainly much of Europe  will be in thirty years time with
a horrible clarity. It showed the current levels of sovereign debt and on
top of that the unfunded government commitments going forward - pensions,
old age care and  health.

With the demographic profile that we know is our destiny, it is  clear that
the sort of welfare state that we have been used to now for two generations
is over. There is no way that any government will be able to pay the
pensions it has promised nor deliver the services that it still does
reasonably well. With the patent failure of our education system it looks
unlikely, to say the least, that we will be able to pull a competitive
rabbit out of the hat.

The stark reality is that we will move from being a rich nation to, if not
a poor one, then one where the contrasts between rich and poor become
shocking and where the look and feel will be that of Latvia rather than
Singapore. As in many things, America may be showing us our dystopian
future: think of the contrast between mid-town Manhattan and Detroit. This
is a contrast that you can glimpse now when you travel from London to the North
West of England: not many skinny lattes there.
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