Having earlier tried to demonstrate that the economy is a construct to enable greater overall prosperity, and that money within it usually serves to derail this value, there is no avoiding the most recurring misinterpretation – that the economy works like any old household. Unless Project Airbus can be seen as a household the economy definitely isn’t one.
But interlocutors insist – Thatcher’s handbag was such a powerful image that the idea is well engrained. As these days this easy comparison is pretty much cultural it has to be taken on. I suggest that in order to neutralise it, the analogy has, not to be destroyed, but built upon, differentiated and distinguished.
A UK household famously consists of parents and 2 and a bit children – who seriously considers that the UK state of 60 million odd people should be run on the same basis? Thatcher may have been Mum, but she’s died, and who anyhow is Dad? Famously, household members are supposed to be always there for us…
Yet, if the economy is like a household, it is a household of some continuing longevity; the economy has been around since human specialisation and a more modern economy since soon after the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694.
So it is a household of remarkable and perpetual endurance which clearly sets it apart from any other household anywhere.
Further, making it ultimately unique amoung households is that it is one which creates its own money and owns its own bank. It issues licences to print money backed by its own legal system, whose laws have the ability to deprive household members of their liberty. It is a pretty special household and not a household families would recognise as such.
So, consider it a household, if you must, but it is the ultimate household, one which is full of power and wealth. It even has a monarch as its titular head. It is as if, indeed, the household itself were ‘by appointment’.
The economy is a household in the sense that it is ‘by appointment’ to every UK citizen everywhere.
And it should be always there for us.