Today dawned quite bright so after our showers, Meg and I were keen to get into the park for our daily walk. We went by car to pick up our copy of The Times and then made our way to our usual park bench. We were joined by Seasoned World Traveller and then a few minutes later by an elderly Irish couple who we know through being the friends of our other Irish friends. After all of our chats we returned home to view what has been happening with the Chancellor’s mini-budget about which more later. When I go out in the open, I have taken to wearing an Australian style black leather hat. This hat has been my constant companion for some years now and in the past, people have stopped me in the street to mention that ‘I don’t recognise you but I recognise the hat’ Actually, this hat was the second of its genre that I have owned – the first in the series was actually bought in a charity shop for about £4 whereas the second was actually replaced, after I left the first in a pub in Winchester. As part of the ordering process, I actually spoke with the suppliers who informed me that when this style of hat is inadvertently left behind somewhere it is never, never handed in – an action I can understand, even though I do not sympathise with it. To keep these hats in good condition, I give them a fairly generous polishing with black boot polish which, after it is polished up, certainly both repels and sheds the rain after a brief shower. Now to get to the point- I have actually lost my hat somewhere. Family and friends have kept infuriately saying to me ‘Where have you lost it?’ which, if I knew, would mean that the hat was no longer lost or was in a general location where I could look for it. Needless to say, I have looked at every likely place in the house where it is liable to be and even looked around our regular park bench and also in the clinic where I do my Pilates at midday every Tuesday. Yesterday afternoon as the hat was well and truly lost, I had to put into operation ‘Plan B’ which is to start to wear the identical hat which I had previously bought and placed into reserve, knowing that it could only be a matter of time before its predecessor was lost, abandoned or stolen. The replaced hat I do admit although it is the same colour, size and style of the previous one does looks newer and dare I say, somewhat smarter as well. When my son called round and remarked that I had evidently found my hat, I confessed and told him it was a brand new one. He wryly remarked that no doubt I would get round to ordering a duplicate so when my new hat was lost (hopefully many years into the future), I would still have a replacement in store. However, he knows me too well as I was able to inform him that a replacement, reserve hat was already on order (courtesy of a quick search on the internet where I found a quality replacement at what I thought was a very reasonable price).
The ‘mini-budget’ (so called rather than an ‘actual’ budget in order to avoid any scrutiny by the Office for Budget Responsibility – interesting!) has actually turned out to be anything but ‘mini’. The Chancellor has announced the biggest tax cuts for about half a century, the effect being to shovel enormous amounts of money towards the already wealthy whilst the poor who pay practically no income tax, or none, will not benefit at all. This is financed by absolutely enormous borrowing estimated to be some £45 billion. This is pure ‘supply side’ economics in which economic growth is prioritised over every other economic aim. The government argues the action being taken will help bolster economic growth and increase the tax to fund public services. But critics argue the measures are a risk when public debt is already high and the cost of borrowing is rising. What the public reaction is going to be to such an unprecedented redistribution of wealth towards the already wealthy is going to be fascinating. When commentators have remarked to government ministers that these tax reforms are not ‘fair’ then a response has already been agreed. This is to argue that as the wealthy already pay more than their fair share of taxes then it is not unfair to hand some money back to them. The consensus view appears to be that the government has engaged upon the most enormous gamble – it is not impossible that ‘trickle down’ from the very wealthy might occur but it is extremely unlikely. The reactions of the stock markets i.e. those who actually lend us the money is interesting. The pound has fallen below $1.09 for the first time in 37 years. It was down by more than 3 cents on the day after US bank Citi declared the currency was facing the prospect of a confidence crisis. Even some Tory MP’s are unhappy as the Tory’s reputation for financial prudence is called into question. One cynical view is that the Tories know they are going to lose the next election so they are enriching themselves and their rich friends whilst they can and before they may be out of power for a generation.