Cyril Northcote Parkinson’s Law from back in 1955 states that work expands to fill the time available and nowhere has this Law been more noticeable than in the US these past few weeks and months. The lawmakers have known for some time that their debt ceiling of a dizzying £14.3trn would have to increase to ensure default is avoided on August 2nd (rumoured to be closer to August 10th in some quarters) but, here we are, days to go and Republicans aren’t returning the President’s phone calls, Democrats are squeezing in last minute amendments and there’s £350bn gaps being found in the proposed solutions. The hard work clearly didn’t get done soon enough and Parkinson’s 56 year old dictum strikes again.

So the great American dream is something of a nightmare right now but how can you enforce tax increases on a flabby country that largely aspires to be rich in the future and is a few falafel sandwiches short of a Socialist picnic? The creaking structures of a nation long past its best are coming apart and the refrain that no entity is too big to fail may well be getting put to the ultimate test sooner rather than later. My personal preference is that economic disaster can be stalled long enough, while looming real enough, for a democratic and political consensus to come through at the ballot box agreeing to tax the rich, fix social welfare, move away from oil and lead towards a more sustainable future under the stewardship of Barack Obama, all the while maintaining the broadly beneficial global might that the US of A has historically enjoyed (giant foam fingers optional).

The irony is, this could have been Europe’s moment right here to supplant the US as a leading superpower if it didn’t have its own problems going on right now with Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal etc falling like dominoes. We Scots are regularly told that we are stronger together and weaker apart but that European strength does not seem to be in abundance right now and nor does there seem to be the enthusiasm from our current member state to drive that strength in numbers and economies of scale forwards. This is a shame. Greater European integration brings progress quicker for greater numbers and for all that the Euro is facing touch problems right now, Britain would still be better off inside it than out. Growth figures of 0.2% and an exchange rate that is weaker against the troubled Euro today than it was a year ago do not give much confidence in the shaky, stuttering Sterling. Yes, having one’s own currency provides a necessary agility when times are tough and what Ireland and Greece would give to go back to punts and drachmas we all know, but refusing to trade with most of the rest of the Continent in their shared currency because you like the Queen on your coins and notes is an odd decision. We shall remain the Continent’s distant cousin while we remain so pointedly on the outside, at our choosing.

The most worrying aspect of the European and American troubles and the impact on the UK are the yo-yoing share prices, primarily in the banking sector. Someone, somewhere is creaming large profits from these share prices by selling at the peaks and buying at the troughs and you can be sure that it isn’t Mr and Mrs MacShoogle down the road that are making these gains. There are investment banks and equity houses that are straddling the globe right now, unable to believe their luck at the prolonged bout of opportunities for speculation and arbitration that a fluctuating stock market provides.

What does it all mean? For me, it all means that inheritance tax has to increase drastically. I’m talking punitive levels that ensure that individuals make their own luck in this world, as it should be. The current capitalist system is unlikely to change but there exists a structural imbalance that rules that, if you are born into the right family or get into the right fast-track career stream at JP Morgan, you will enjoy a life of luxury that will make your eyes pop and that wealth will stay with you, stay with your children and stay with your children’s children and beyond unless a colossal error is made somewhere down the lineage. It’s a rot that has set in America, a rot that has set in the UK and is creeping all over the new world as wealth spreads across an elite few.

Global economics is all about supply and demand and if the supply is being hoarded by the few, is compounded by taking advantage of disarray for the many and the demand is squeezed by food shortages, energy uncertainty and the need to print more money, something is not right. Inheritance tax is one of the largest levers available to flatten out the inequality that we see grow each day before our very eyes and in all corners of the world and, regardless of whether the US defaults or not over the next week or so, that lever needs to be pulled.

Or we can stick with Parkinson’s Law and put the problem off for another day, week, month, year,…..