Sep 08, 2021
2 mins read
There's been so much in the news about levelling up recent times. I've seen it in various adverts, heard in more every day use and, obvoiusly, it's been the the UK government's slogan of choice for some time now. I think it's a weak and unhelpful phrase to use.
On the political front most people have become deaf to it, it's been so overused by the Conservative party. And for a long time, no-one really questioned it. It all sounded so logical. The South is rich and the North is poor, we must redress the balance!
In recent months, probably due to a complete lack of any apparent common sense coming out of Whitehall or number 10, people are starting to question the whole agenda. If we level up the North, that will mean the South loses out, some have proclaimed (usually on quiet-news-story days).
This is a foolish notion. Life is not zero-sum. One man's loss is never another's direct gain, and if it is, it's always transient. Even if you are held at gun-point, both loss and gain is soon regained or lost, distributed in the vast networks of life.
And the networks of life are indeed vast. Far vaster than any of us, even the experts, can hold in their tiny 4GB minds. This is the extended order of Hayek, floating over society, unseen and always way ahead of everyone.
In the noughties it was de-rigueur for large corporations to look like they were maximising shareholder profits by outsourcing production facilities to remote developing/third-world places. A company I worked for decided that they would move a production line from the UK to Tijuana. It was a high-value production line that produced one of the company’s marquee products. It took operatives six months to be fully trained how to make these items. One year later, it was being shipped back to the UK at great expense, and under the cloud of a considerable back-order. No-one had stopped to think that the average worker in TJ moves into the city, works for three or four months and retires back to their small towns and villages veritable millionaires. No-one hung around long enough to be fully trained.
In all, the more I think about it, the more I realise levelling up is pure emperor's new clothes. It makes a great soundbite, but is flawed in so many ways. What level are we levelling up to? What specifically are we levelling up? Is it even possible to level these things up? The answers are almost certainly, "we're not sure", "we're don't really know", and "not easily, without messing something else up".