Thursday, 29 January 2009

"It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future" (various attributions)

What now? Who knows?

Have you read the newspapers or heard the news over the last couple of days? If you have managed to avoid this then the Reuters report cited below offers some of its grim flavour.

We are now in the deepest economic recession since the Second World War, the United Kingdom where I live is going be the the worst place in the devoted world to live through this and, if I live so long, then I can look forward to twenty years of austerity to pay for the greed and stupidity of those who made so merry over my last twenty austere years.

It might of course not be anything like as bad as all that. On the other hand runaway deflation might drag weak populist governments into printing money and then we’ll all end up living in Zimbabwean-style penury.

What do I know? What in fact do any of the worthies of the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organisation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies etc. etc, really know, and why should I trust anything that they choose to tell me anyway? And that goes for the World Economic Forum currently meeting at Davos, too. If they were only half as clever and sincere as they try to sound then we would never be in this situation in the first place.

Not predictions, implications

These following are not ‘predictions’, just obvious implications. To ‘predict’ would to specify precisely how, in what order and over what time-scale such implications might be worked out in reality.

Services for the disabled

Services and other sources of help for disabled children and adults, and their families, are in for a hard time. There’s no need to invoke that old slogan, ‘the most vulnerable members of society’: even if the disabled do no worse than anyone else during the ‘austere years’, things are going to stretch too thin to maintain existing ways of providing.

That goes for all three potential sources of their funding:
  • the state: first hints are already being made about freezing budgets at present levels, from which it is but a tiny stem to beginning to reduce them;
  • non-profits/charities: in the United Kingdom the charitable sector is already begging Government for a financial bail-out, hardly realistic from what is just a troublesome cash-cow there to patch up some of the problems that the states prefers to let go by;
  • their own families' personal resources: this is the rock-bottom, the last resort, the long-stop where the ball always ends up, where financial resources may be shortest of all but at least there is love.
The is little purpose against this background to speak of the possible effects of all this upon Conductive Education, its future availability and the jobs that it currently provides. As surely as at the micro-level, so in the microcosm of Conductive Education: to ‘predict’ would to specify precisely how, in what order and over what time-scale these implications will be worked out in reality. That will be achieved differently in different places, with differing outcomes depending how hard people fight, how well-suited their strategies and tactics, and how lucky they are. That will go for CE as it goes for everyone.


Sure as eggs is eggs, economic events bring political events, and economic changes bring political changes. You can insert the word ‘significant’ in that sentence four times, should you wish.

Today the French went out on strike, as they do. There was unpleasantness in the Baltic and in Greece, so nothing new there. And there was a riot in Iceland: now that’s news!

Early days yet.

Notes and references

The title (variously attributed)
Who originated this cheery pearl of wisdom. Niels Bohrs, Albert Einstein, Yogi Berra, somebody ancient and Chinese, or any of umpteen others? Take your pick:

Today’s big economic news
Wroughton, L. (2009) IMF sees world economy at near standstill in 2009, Reuters, 28 January

Footnote: it has been a lot worse!
Bridge, M. (2008) Britain’s 10 worst recessions ever, Times Online: Money Central, 22 July
And that’s mainly British/European experience. Lots of other places where Conductive World is read have their own stories to tell! At least is shows that even long tunnels have light at the end of them.

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