Throughout this week we've compiled a special Jury to answer five questions:
- How alarmed should we be at the growth in the total debt burden?
- It may not be unprecedented by historical standards but isn't today's UK borrowing significant by international standards?
- Is there a danger that the most talented young Britons will leave high taxed Britain in future years for less indebted nations?
- What can and should still be done now to reduce the danger of a future debt burden?
- How long can Britain continue to borrow at the current low interest rates?
Here are two answers to the third question — from Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute and Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affairs:
Eamonn Butler: “Politicians have
discovered that they can fund spending and benefits for this generation by
passing the cost onto future generations through borrowing. But why should
future generations sign up for this one-sided contract? I was one of those who,
in the mid-1970s, joined the 'brain drain' rather than take the same sort of
deal then. So I know that young people in particular are mobile, and once you
have lost their talents, you have usually lost them for good. I am unusual
in that I came back and helped Margaret Thatcher tackle these problems.”
Philip Booth: “Yes, though there are
not a great many safe havens that young people might find attractive! Most
countries have either similar demographic problems to our own or a similar
debt position or a slightly better situation in one respect and a much worse
situation in the other. The outcome is grim across OECD countries, though the
problems are not always the same.”
> Tomorrow: What can and should still be done now to reduce the danger of a future debt burden?