Every once in a while I decide to read a book about current economics and politics. In my daily life I firmly decided to insulate myself from the news, reading it costs me too much, I become agitated, angry and bitter over things I cannot influence (I do vote, if you wondered, so I exercise my democratic rights responsibly), it’s just not worth it. I live in a bubble, yes. Is it irresponsible? Maybe, but I owe myself some kindness too. As I mentioned because of that sometimes I have to catch up, a one off deep dive into all the nastiness.
This is exactly what Peston’s book is, an immersive deep dive. He starts it as a letter to his dead father, trying to explain and make sense of everything that happened in the last years, but mostly Trump’s election and Brexit. Peston is really, really angry, so his first reaction is to vent. Then as he calms down he tries to unpick the situation and understand exactly what led to it. He diagnoses multiple reasons, all of them make sense, none of it helps to solve the situation.
Even though he tries to propose solutions in the last chapters, none of them are realistic in the current landscape. That’s why the book was so depressing, we delve deep into the problem but it feels like there is no hope, no solution that anyone would realistically apply to make the situation better in the long term. And that’s precisely the problem all of the solutions proposed by Peston would improve the situation in the long term and none of the current politicians is able to look beyond the next election, their brains just cannot deal with perspective further than this, so we’ll have to bear the consequences of that shortsightedness, every single one of us.
See, I already got carried away with all the negativity. I wanted to bring up some of the problems that Peston diagnoses, because he does it very bluntly. One of them is the lack of social mobility, our societies have never been so ossified in the history. There really is hardly any chance to move up the social ladder. More probably than ever we’ll be worse off than our parents, for the first time since WWII. This combined with faulty education system results in the feeling of hopelessness in people.
Another problem Peston calls out, specifically with regards to UK is the lack of productivity. UK’s productivity record is atrocious, which is what will cripple the economy after Brexit, when it is no longer covered by the benefits of the common market. When UK’s businesses will have to compete for the European market, but with the disadvantage of customs and duties.
It is a bitter book, angry and bitter. Peston himself does not believe in the solutions he is proposing. I’m sure there has been tens of books like this published in the last years, I happened to read this one. Did it help me? Not one bit. Is it a good book? Yes, but in my case it was preaching to the choir. I am convinced something needs to be done, I just don’t know what to do other than continue to live my life and try to stay true to myself.