01 February 2010

Buy Bicycles to Help the Economy

Screen grab from DRs 21 Søndag news programme.

The Danish Finance Minister, Lene Espersen, was on the national news last night in another attempt to sell the tax cuts the party she leads - The Conservatives - have advocated for.

She did so in a photo op at a bicycle shop with the angle: "this is how I'm spending my extra cash... I'm buying a new bicycle."

The bottom line is that it's great she was using a bicycle purchase to illustrate her point and she repeated the Conservative mantra of 'buy, consume, repeat' in the interview to underline how the economy can be boosted. She encouraged us to buy, for example, a new bicycle and create a chain of good reactions in the economy.

Hang on.... what's that underneath the bottom line? Ah... it's the small print. It tells a different story. Firstly, the Conservatives and the Liberal Party, who both govern Denmark at the moment, are not exactly legendary bicycle advocates. Secondly, the tax cuts are frightfully uneven. In the piece on the news it was revealed that the Minister will recieve tax cuts enough to buy a new bicycle every month this year whereas a cleaning lady only gets about 100 kroner a month [$20].

As one of my friends wrote on his Facebook status; "I just got a 5% payrise without having done anything to deserve and at the expense of others. Can we please have a new government?"

A protest campaign has been launched, in Danish only, about how the Prime Minister and the wealthy get loads of cash but at the other end of the scale it's just a few coins. www.skaevt.dk

At the end of the day, however, buying a new bicycle is not a bad thing. Danes buy 500,000 of them each year. I read that last year, during the brunt of the global financial crisis, three goods were most popular and enjoyed large increases in sales.

Fish [for eating]. Pets [not for eating]. Bicycles. The latter saw an 11% increase in sales.