Two fun stories that illustrate the art of politics. And showing that Bernie Sanders has a better grasp of it than Boris Johnson. Or perhaps is playing the game with even less shame.
Aditya Chakrabortty tells us that recent education announcements are all about buying votes:
over the course of this decade by the Conservatives. To do that, calculates the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies, Johnson will need to stump up £3.8bn every year. And the majority of schools won’t see an extra penny, since the briefing makes clear that cash will be directed at “areas of the country that have been historically underfunded”, such as the south-west, Essex, Kent and the shires
The funny thing about those regions is that they just happen to be full of Conservative target seats. Think Canterbury, think Stroud … think Crewe and Nantwich.
This isn’t sorting out our schools crisis – it is neutralising an electoral image problem. It is retrofitting policy to suit the polling objectives.
Well, yes, it is. Because that’s the way politics works. You take money off one group of people through taxation then spend it on people to persuade them to vote for you. That’s simply what the system is.
Just as it was when Blair and Brown decided to take more money off the richer shires and southern cities and send it off to the Labour voting fiefs of the Northern cities. That’s just what the system is, here’s some of other peoples’ money now vote for me!
BTW, a change in government reversing the last set of bribery isn’t some appalling violation of democracy, it is democracy.
Then we get Bernie Sanders who has rather upped the stakes. He tells us of how American journalism is being gutted by – well gutted. He manages to entirely miss the actual evisceration going on which comes in two parts.
The first is that a newspaper was a bundle. US papers gaining, historically, some one third of revenues from display advertising, one third from classifieds, one third from subscriptions and cover price. The internet has stolen classifieds. That’s the hole in newspaper revenues. And one that simply won’t be filled either.
Secondly American newspapers were largely local monopolies. The size of the place militated against the long distance transport of printed newspapers. The UK was a national market from around WWI time as a result of bundling the first printings onto the overnight trains that spanned the kingdom. America’s too big for that. Therefore we’d get one newspaper towns. The economics of classifieds – note above about revenue and boy, are classifieds profitable if you’ve got the whole market – meant that one paper would dominate the potential newsprint delivery area.
The internet has killed distance in this sense. A useful prediction, one I’ve been making for 15 years or so now, is that the American market will end up largely like the British. A handful (say, anything from 5 to a dozen) of papers competing on ideological grounds for the market, not geographic.
Bernie of course has a different solution:
We must also explore new ways to empower media organizations to collectively bargain with these tech monopolies, and we should consider taxing targeted ads and using the revenue to fund not-for-profit civic-minded media. That will be part of an overall effort to substantially increase funding for programs that support public media’s news-gathering operations at the local level – in much the same way many other countries already fund independent public media.
Hmm, taxing targeted ads?
Under one Free Press proposal, a 2 percent ad tax on all online enterprises that in 2018 earned more than $200 million in annual digital-ad revenues would yield more than $1.8 billion a year for a new and independent Public Interest Media Endowment that would hand out grants to news and information projects.
That is, tax one group of people to benefit another and thereby buy their votes. It’s just that Bernie has gone for full leverage there. Let’s buy the journalists.
Well done to Bernie upping his game there but it’s no different in moral turpitude than Boris’ decision, is it?