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Bursting a tyre in a pothole, yards from my home, I wondered why Keynesians might feel the need to pay people to dig holes and fill them in again. There are tons of things that need doing in this country. And tons of people doing jobs that add absolutely nothing to the sum of human wellbeing.
But, since the Great Depression, there has been a perception that it doesn’t matter what people do, so long as they have money to spend. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what they buy, so long as someone gets paid for making it. So millions of people have mind-numbing and soul-destroying jobs manufacturing crap we don’t need, and the only objection to that fact is that so many of them are now Chinese rather than British.
And the only reason mainstream politicians are now berating a boom that was fuelled by credit and property values is the fact that it ended. The Tories now profess a love of British manufacturing but until 2008 they were as much in love with the City as Gordon Brown was. Indeed, by the time John Major left power, this country was making nothing but Kendal Mint Cake and instruments of torture, and Conservatives were quite happy for our consumer goods to be sweated out of people in hot countries, while we just sold them to one another.
And despite being divided about exactly how to provoke a ‘recovery’, both main parties have junked any real concern about the fact that we are rapidly using up our planet and heading for an environmental disaster that will make pensions largely unnecessary. There has never been a stronger case for a planned economy, and one with a great big heart.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns