Bill Mitchell is an Australian economics prof. And he is certainly left of centre. But as he has pointed out ad nausiam, the political left cannot do much more than ape the neo-liberal, economic illiteracy of the political right.
As to the U.S., anyone with a grain of political and economic insight (and very few on the political left fall into that category) tumbled long ago to the fact that Republicans, economically illiterate as they are, have nevertheless got Democrats thinking what Republicans want them to think (at least when it comes to economics). To be more exact, whenever Democrats propose more government spending, Republicans just say “deficit” or “debt” and Democrats shut up. It’s even easier than getting a Pavlov dog to salivate.
And that brainwashing of the left by the political right is down in part to propaganda funded by billionaires like Pete Peterson.
Given this sheer brainlessness of the political left, it’s a bit of a joke for the political left to describe itself as “radical” or “progressive” (which is how the UK's political left often likes to describe itself).
As to the UK, lefties main aim in life is to appear more socially concerned than thou. In contrast, actually solving social or economic problems is often too much like hard work for them.
An example is the reaction of The Guardian (lefties’ favourite newspaper) to the Work Programme. The basic thrust of Guardian articles on this subject is to portray The Guardian as the heroic saviour of downtrodden peasants forced to take part in the wicked Tory’s Work Programme.
The Guardian of course keeps very quite about the fact that Labour has an alternative and very similar programme: to draw attention to Labour’s “Work Programme” would detract from the emotional thrill that lefties get from portraying themselves as saviours of the downtrodden masses fighting valiantly against wicked Tories.
And to bolster the impression that The Guardian as saviour of the downtrodden peasants, The Guardian resorts to a series of blatant lies in connection with the Work Programme. For example, Guardian articles have repeated over and again the phrase “unpaid work” in relation to the Work Programme.(1). Another mouthpiece of the political left, the BBC uses the same totally dishonest phrase in reference to the Work Programme.
Well, WP employees are not “unpaid”: they’re paid what they’d have got on benefits. And before someone points out that that isn’t much of a wage, we’ve all gathered that: obviously there is valid debate to be had as to exactly what the pay and hours of WP employees should be.
But its plain untrue to say that WP employees are not “unpaid”.
Moreover, there are millions of employees in the UK paid little more than they’d get on benefit: people in minimum wage jobs with two or more kids. But for some strange reason we don’t hear frequent complaints from The Guardian about this.
So if you’re looking for intelligent analysis of Britain’s economic problems, your’re probably better off gawping at the breasts and buttocks on page three of The Sun than reading anything in The Guardian.
1. E.g. see Guardian article entitled “Back-to-work schemes broke law, court rules.”, here.