Friday, 24 January 2014

Totals, averages, and fair shares

Monday’s Western Mail carried this interesting report quoting a transport consultant as saying that it would be better on average for the Welsh economy to put all new jobs in Cardiff, rather than attempt to spread them around.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that he’s right.
But averages can hide a lot of important detail.  There’s a danger that governments which are focussed on ‘averages’ and ‘overall’ seize on this type of argument as justification for further economic centralisation, and for allowing ‘the market’ to do what it would like to do anyway.  It’s a lot easier than attempting to exercise some control. 
The question we face if we’re serious about building a better Wales is not simply about how we increase the country’s total wealth, nor even about how we increase the country’s average wealth.  Both of those can be achieved by economic centralisation and greater inequality.  It is rather about how we spread wealth more evenly.  I for one would prefer to have a less than the maximum possible total national wealth if that wealth was spread more evenly, and a less than the maximum possible average wealth if the variation around the mean was lower.  Otherwise we’re just mimicking the UK.


Anonymous said...

Centralisation: NHS; We should have only one hospital for the whole of Wales based in Cardiff (of course). Education; Let's have one junior/high school for the whole of Wales. One local council to carry out the directives of the Senedd. I've just realised we've now saved £400 million pounds plus!!

Pete said...

Since living in America I've come to completely disagree with this notion of centralization. The Wealth of the U.S. does not lie in the District of Columbia and the economic powerhouses (yes plural) of California do not lie in Sacramento. In fact I am unaware of any State where economic power and political power reside in the same place. Basically it is not a given that centralization is the best or even the most desirable option.
If I was living in North Wales I would find it hard to see the benefit of Independence if all that was done was to follow England's example of centering all the action around the capital.
It is past time that those who have the interests of Wales at heart began to look past the tired Englaish model.