I’ve been trying to think back to the old days. Were those of us who were enthused by Gene McCarthy’s ‘Children’s Crusade’ as ill-informed as the youth of today? Did we really think, back in 1968, that you could have everything for free?
Do you know, I don’t think we did. We did tend to remark that we’d rather be red than dead, which still chimes with Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude today, but in those days the Keynesian idea was that you really could restart economic growth by deficit financing.
Around 1976, as I recall, Jim Callaghan announced to the Labour Party Conference that spending your way out of recession only led in the long run to inflation. There are limits. You cannot indefinitely borrow money from your children to finance the living standards of today.
In the last twelve months we’ve seen Bernie Sanders in the USA, Jean-Luc Melenchon in France and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK each enunciate their conviction that these issues have not really been resolved conclusively, and we’ve seen a new generation of enthusiastic youth convinced they have found a new answer rather than a recycled intellectual blind alley.
I do hope I’m wrong, but I have a nasty feeling the dragon of inflation is not slain but only sleeping.