Today we have the news that the government is approving a third runway at Heathrow. The existing two runways ran out of capacity in 1977, so the new runway will be almost instantly up against its maximum usage. Immediately we will need a fourth runway and a fifth. Otherwise we still won’t be able to fly to Heathrow from UK regional airports, so as to transfer to world flights. Amsterdam (with 6 runways) will continue to steal trillions in trade from us. And we will be paying at least £20bn to finance this stupidity.
Then there is the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. Another £20bn. Plus at least an extra £30bn to subsidise the electricity it produces. By the time it is built, 2025 at the earliest, it will be an obsolete white elephant. We can very easily and increasingly cheaply make all the electricity we want from renewable. And with huge advances in energy storage technology we can handle windless nights. Then there is fracking, if just a tenth of the UK’s shale reserves were used we would be powered for the next half century.
And the biggest folly in wasting taxpayer’s money is HS2. The government say this will cost £56bn just to get as far as Leeds (bad luck Newcastle and the Jocks). Which, if you look at their previous project management record, means at least £100bn. And we just don’t need it, at all. Here are 15 reasons why HS2 is utter stupidity (click highlight to open).
Now the government is not stupid and it knows it is making stupid decisions, so why is it doing this? The answer is that they think just spending money, on anything, will help the British economy. They think that wasting money like this is more efficient than people being taxed less and choosing to spend their own money on what they want.
Our problem is that the Treasury is obviously dominated by followers of the discredited Keynsian cult. They think that government is the answer when usually, as in the above cases, it is the problem. Keynes said that digging ditches then filling them in was economically productive. The Treasury believe him. They genuinely believe that deliberately wasting taxpayer money on this epic scale is a good thing.
Of course we need government to provide some infrastructure, so here is what they should do:
- Fully privatise the railways (and the Tube), stop subsidising them and stop micromanaging them, let the market work. If building HS2 really is a good idea them capitalism will build it, just as it built virtually all our existing railways.
- Spend tens of billions on roads, so as to reduce journey times. Productive workers stuck in traffic are costing us many time more and it is a national disgrace. With electric cars and autonomous transport the roads are our future, yet we are investing hardly anything in them.
- Build a six runway airport (plus river crossing, plus tidal energy) in the Thames Estuary and build new towns where Heathrow and Gatwick now are. If you look at the facts (here) this is the only rational solution to our huge air transport problem.
- Plan for an energy future based 100% on renewables and fracking. The technology is there, the resources are there. It would be the cheapest and cleanest solution.
- Make everyone at the Treasury read The Road to Serfdom and The Fatal Conceit. They definitely need the education.
The best thing would be for voters to get the government under control. But the Conservatives are going to win every general election for the foreseeable future, so they have zero democratic accountability.