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When money is tight, we need to value time

When money is tight, we need to value time

🕔05.Jul 2013

If you drive through Ladywood, down the Icknield Port Road, before long, you will see a large concrete wasteland. This is the site earmarked for the prestigious Icknield Port Loop development, once reputed to be the largest in Europe and planned to go as far as City Hospital and beyond and now destined, a little less ambitiously, to have bijou housing, a hotel, a swimming pool or sports hall and, maybe, even a secondary school clustered around the vestiges of Joseph Brindley’s contour-hugging canal.

The site has been like this for over five years now.  The first attempt at development was stalled due to the economic downturn. It is not clear when work is going to start as it all depends on an economic upturn and if and when some independent developer feels confident of turning a profit.  But even when that occurs, we hope sometime in the next decade, it will take at least another ten years to complete.

I mention this blighted landscape in Ladywood because I think it stands for the plight that Birmingham finds itself in and the paralysis that has ensued as we wait for the economic waters to rise, bringing us jobs, instilling confidence in investors and allowing us to dream of some future state where all shall be well. In the meantime, we wring our hands in helpless bemusement and the city, anxious to be seen to be doing something whilst we wait, organises conferences to discuss its high unemployment, lack of youth opportunity and economic stasis.

So here’s a suggestion: instead of waiting for things to pick up sometime-never, let’s work out what it is that people get from our money economy when it is firing on all cylinders and see if we can engineer those states of being by different means in what is likely to a fairly long interim

One of our culture’s most cherished and deeply held beliefs is that the solution to all our ills is full employment.  In our current system a job is what gives us meaning, purpose and hope. A job grants us the autonomy to pay our way and have self-respect. In our society it gives you status and all the things that lead to a sense of wellbeing and positive outlook towards the future. Conversely not having a job often means you are marginalised, suffer from low-self esteem and are prone to psychological and physical infirmities and more and more of our citizens are being displaced to the margins in this way.

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