I’k kick off with a clarification. The last sentence of yesterday’s blog looked as though it suggested that our national prosperity would increase by the continued use of cheap and plentiful labour as an alternative to capital investment. What it should have inferred was the opposite: the continued use of that cheap and plentiful labour will drive down per capita productivity and by association, national wealth - our GDP. Alternatively, by investing in new equipment, technology and advanced manufacturing techniques we could reverse the slide in dropping productivity but at the expense of employing fewer people. Arithmetic seldom helps in deciding what is best in the socio-economic mix but the bald reality is that our competitors use labour more frugally (and as a result pay them more) and invest significantly more than Britain does in advancing technologies. This gives them a higher per capita productivity and a more dynamic growth in GDP. The downside consequence is higher unemployment as labour gets driven away from the market due to the lower numbers of jobs available. Yet another classic Catch 22 situation ???
Radio 4’s Today Programme is 60 years old. I seem to have grown old alongside it. Despite all the criticism of the BBC in recent times to me it still represents the bedrock of solid news, opinion and debate. No organisation is going to get the mix and tenor right for everyone so there will inevitably be accusations of bias, misrepresentation and an excess of journalistic licence. But on the whole, the Beeb, not just with the Today programme, is getting its news broadcasting pretty much right. You only need to take a peek at some of the overseas news channels to discover that what we have is infinitely superior and informative. And if there is a lot of opinion in that, so what ? Are we so dumb as listeners as to not be able to form our own opinions ? (I won’t pursue that thought as it is more than a little likely that a good number of the population have no opinions on anything of substance). So, for me and the Beeb, I’d say ‘Carry On Regardless’.
Spain looks as though it’s entering a new crisis as Catalonia declares its independence in political defiance of Madrid’s best efforts to thwart the move. I can’t help but feel that the European grand design is fraying at the edges somewhat as historic ‘tribal’ groupings seek autonomy and try and reject the federalist dream of Brussels. Where next ? Italy’s Lombardia and Veneto are making similar noises to those coming from Catalonia !
A final thought most likely associated with me getting older and grumpier and everyone else seemingly getting younger as I tuned in to see Graham Norton’s Friday night extravaganza. The celebrities get more obscure and trivial as the years go by and what would make a ‘star’ back when I was a lad now seem to be wholly irrelevant. For sure, the stars of yesteryear were by no means paragons, but they generally had something about them - charisma, style, charm, call it what you will - that today’s flimsy celebrities seem to lack. One appearance in a film nowadays and you’re an immediate star and celebrity, sitting on the red couch and gushing forth with the inanity of people who are so superficial it becomes painful to watch. My critics will no doubt tell me to turn the tv off if I find this too much to bear....maybe that’s not such a bad idea.