Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story

Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. The film explains the full extent of the financial mess this country is in – an estimated £4.8 trillion of national debt and counting. It argues that the recent spending review hasn’t gone far enough, and to put Britain back on track we need to radically rethink the role of the state, stop politicians spending money in our name, and lower taxes to make Britain’s economy boom again.

Various IEA staff and fellows were interviewed for the documentary which also includes interviews with academics, economic experts, entrepreneurs and four ex-Chancellors of the Exchequer.

With its prescient message and offer of a bold solution to get the nation’s finances back on track, the film is stimulating and informative viewing.

Read more about the size of the debt in A Bankruptcy Foretold 2010: Post-Financial-Crisis Update.

10 thoughts on “Britain’s Trillion Pound Horror Story”

  1. Posted 11/11/2010 at 22:47 | Permalink

    Half way through the broadcast and I have seldom seen anything so misconceived.

    Where does the Government get its money from? It gets it from us.

    Where did we get it from? We earned it from people who had money to spend.

    Where did they get it from?

    Come to that, where does money ultimately come from?

    Somebody get me out of this infinite regress!

  2. Posted 11/11/2010 at 22:50 | Permalink

    Here’s another one.

    Mr Durkin says state spending doesn’t stimulate the economy, and shows us Newcastle to prove it.

    Of course state spending stimulates the economy.

    In China.

  3. Posted 11/11/2010 at 22:55 | Permalink

    Here’s some questions about the nation’s debt.

    Who in particular owes it?

    When does it fall due for payment?

    Who do we owe it to?

    In which currencies?

    If we have borrowed money which our children have to pay back, who is to say that we’ve been having children we couldn’t afford?

    If we stopped having children, there’s no one in the future to repay our debts, so our creditors will get shafted.

  4. Posted 12/11/2010 at 03:40 | Permalink

    The doc stated th UK decline was due to the big state and its started after www1. durkin failed to mention, the rise of germany and the usa in 1870 it started uks decline, failed to mention the final bankers cost us over 1.3tril pounds failed to mention the private sector refuse to modoernise, uk econ revolution was stimulated by empire/ conquest, once these markets close or decline industy declined, he fail to mentin hong knog was a speial case, there was no china econ investment, no ussr openess, once china opened up hong kong was handed back, He never mesntions ww2 impact, breifly includes ww1, gloss over mass povoerty in uk cities in vicotrian UK and mass deaths due to poor sanitation

  5. Posted 12/11/2010 at 03:47 | Permalink

    He also fails to mention thatcher diliberately closed industry down, sold it off to china for mass profits etc, no mention of private selling of utilities etc, no mention of the impact of poverty on crime and law and order. The reason the victorians started mass education and sanitation programe and reforming the workhouse/ prision system is they knew the status quo could not go on. Failed to menton what free markets with no state help can do to a society, ie, irish famine millions died. It can cauase revolutions, ie american revolution and charists movement in the 1830s uk. read mary barton – eliabeth gaskell, engels conditions of the working 1846 and newspapers from the time

  6. Posted 12/11/2010 at 11:04 | Permalink

    What a great program. Britain’s private businesses are squeezed to the limits, I own my own business with eight staff, my business rates on two of my premises have increased by 88% within the last five years, along with the the other taxes makes it very difficult to re-invest in different projects and investments, to expand and further grow. I resent the benefit system, especially the housing benefit and housing associations where people that do not work, can live in a brand new luxury home, I resent the bone idol workers and useless jobs in the Public sector (not front line) but behind the scenes. I’m pleased this program has brought the problems we have to light.

  7. Posted 12/11/2010 at 14:53 | Permalink

    James, this program hasn’t brought anything to light save that Mr Durkin thinks that money is the same as wealth. It isn’t.

    Consider the pension funds as owners of Government debt. Pension rights are life interests, not hereditaments. I should know, because I didn’t inherit my father’s pension when he died.

    So what happens to these pension rights when the beneficiaries die, and what would happen to the national debt if they reverted on death to the Crown?

  8. Posted 12/11/2010 at 22:05 | Permalink

    Michael – I am completely bamboozled by your comments. It is a matter of debate whether government spending can stimulate the economy in very specific situations: though I think the theory and evidence points strongly in one direction. But few debate that all government spending involves an opportunity cost at least in the medium term. The figures for who owes what to whom are easy enough to find but are irrelevant. The debt is owed by future taxpayers in general to those who own government securities. Yes, have more children and the burden will be less but it is hardly moral (an issue brought up) to rely on future offspring to pay for government consumption today – to benefit me.

  9. Posted 12/11/2010 at 22:12 | Permalink

    Darren, I think all you say is completely misconceived. No doubt it would be impossible for me to persuade you of that in 700 pages, never mind 700 characters. I’ll just take one example. I am not an expert on the Irish famine but the idea that there was a free market in basic foodstuffs before the Corn Laws were repealed is not true. More generally can it be said that post Cromwell – or indeed at any time in Irish history until recently – that there was a genuine free market in Ireland? I find that assertion astonishing, but if you can demonstrate it was a bastion of freedom under the law I would be interested. The North declined for many reasons but it has not revived.

  10. Posted 13/11/2010 at 07:09 | Permalink

    Philip, all spending whether public or private has an opportunity cost. As for who owns government debt, “those who own government securities” is no answer. Are they foreigners or British? How many of them are pension funds? If we assume that pension rights revert to the State (as land does when there is no one to inherit), by how much would this reduce the public debt?

    By the way, if you have children someone has to pay for them in salary, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit, and resources have to be devoted to educating them until they’re ready for work. How can a nation in debt to 4.8 trillion afford more children anyway. No sensible girl would marry a man in that much debt.

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