I want a ski chalet. Somewhere with a bit of land around it, enough to park my Range Rover Sport in and fashion a landing area for my Helicopter. In the surrounding area, I’ll need a private airport for my jet. Now, I’m not precious or anything, I know it’s tough to land my PJ in the mountains — anywhere under an hour by road is grand. And I’ll only use my ‘copter when I have to.
That’s winter taken care of. Come April, I’ll want a Yacht. Dip in and out of Mediterranean ports at my leisure. Discover the odd obscure Greek Island and watch the sunset over crystal water while Pierre, my Michelin starred personal chef, prepares supper.
I’m very particular about all this. I want all of it. Not just some of it, all of it.
Now, the biggest stumbling block to these aspirations is rather a sad reality. I am a poor man. An hour on a jet ski is about as much as I could muster. Even a short go on a helicopter would necessitate the private sale of a number of vital organs, and well, it just wouldn’t be the same shorn of my retinas, liver and a kidney.
I’ve made my peace with all this, though. While it’s aspirational, sure, it’s nice to dream — it just ‘aint a runner.
I’ve had cause to consider Pierre and my helicopter of late, as I watch visceral protests pertaining to the UK Government’s desire to stop channel crossings.
I’d love to help these people, I really really would.
Can you imagine ever being desperate enough to cross the English Channel, in a dinghy?
I can’t — but then, I’ve never had cause to even entertain the notion.
These are real people. Human beings, just like you and me. They breathe, they see, they are sentient. They get cold in winter. They love and they cry. It’s easy to disassociate with the human impact of this, as really, we only ever see it on the news — but when you hear of 200 migrants drowning, they are still people. Not statistics. And by sheer accident of birth, they are not as prosperous and cosseted as we are in our very nice United Kingdom.
Do we deserve this fortune? No. It’s just happened.
Allocation of scarce resources
Now, back to Pierre. My economic aspirations are, of course, ludicrous and a reflection of our collective experience of capitalism. More, more, more.
Moving onto a more arcane and banal example, however, I receive my monthly salary. That salary enters my bank account, digitally, then magically disperses itself in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. Annoyingly, and I have always intended to investigate this ethereal magic, it often disappears faster than the previous month. Broadly, though, it is allocated to my needs and wants. First, my needs — rent, petrol, clothes and food — and once these are satiated, it fulfils some of my wants — affogatos, the bear I sponsor and that new putter.
Public sector economics at a macroeconomic level are no different to my own personal finance resource allocation.
As much as I badly want Pierre on my Yacht, it’s just not a runner. I allocate my financial resources to the arcane and banal requirements of daily existence.
Rishi Sunak is, I am quite sure, not a bad person. He would love to embrace these migrants and give them shelter and sustenance. Yet, an epidemic of ignorance is prevalent in our society; economics is, by definition, the allocation of scarce resources. That’s what Rishi must do — take the money that comes in every month, and allocate as best he can. There is a linear inverse correlation between investing in one vector over another.
Invest in CleanTech? Sure, sounds great, but that means there is less for that pay rise for nurses.
The stark reality of unchequered illegal migration is that it costs money, and a great deal of it. Now, if that is the collective will of the nation, then so be it — crack on. More money in the migration pot, means less money for sustainable rewilding. Cause and effect, linear relationship.
If the entire electorate were to understand these economic fundamentals, would they still be campaigning against the Government’s initiative to stop the crossings? In effect, they are advocating, by default, for a reduction in spend across things like schools, healthcare and public services. There is no magic money tree, resources are finite.
Now, I am not simply suggesting that migration is unaffordable and bad business. Far from it. Skilled migrants boost GDP and plug skills gaps across a wide array of sectors; Doctors from India, Engineers from the Middle East, Software Developers from Poland. Unskilled workers also; to put it bluntly, they do the work that our populace just can’t be bothered to do.
Also, Great Britain enjoys a position of relative power on the global stage. Despite our size, we hold a disproportionate sway. With power, comes responsibility. Doing our bit on migration is a part of that.
An axiom that is often forgotten, is that the Government is effectively bankrolled by the taxpayer. We fund it. The gardens of 10 Downing Street are not lined with gold gilded leaves. “Printing cash” is a misunderstood trope; it doesn’t mean flicking the switch on a printer and coming back in a day or two to bag up the Billion quid, it means selling bonds on the market. It’s not far off a loan in reality and is a monetary tool designed to stimulate the economy in times of need. And, in the process, it diminishes asset prices and makes things cost more.
What would you do?
So, to those who have branded the Government policy on uncontrolled migration cruel, callous and, in the case of Gary Lineker, reminiscent of Nazi Germany, I want you to examine your next pay slip.
You will see a PAYE section. This is your tax, with which you fund the government. Now, imagine there is a granular breakdown of that tax. There are lines for healthcare, social welfare, education, public infrastructure projects and supporting migrants.
Now, imagine you had complete agency over where that money is spent. Let’s pretend that the Government will allow you to allocate as you see fit; and remember, your decisions at a micro level, will influence Government policy at a macro level.
In all honesty, would you allocate an additional £400 to the migrant fund? Would you take it away from the education budget, or healthcare?
It’s a toughie isn’t it. If you do those things, sure, more migrants will be safe and well — but it inhibits the development of our children and increases hospital waiting lists.
Just like Pierre and my Yacht, I can’t have it all.
And the next time you consider blindly condemning the Government, remember they are mere custodians of the public purse, and they can’t have it all either.