Welcome to Britain

Where we\’re about to get a new law:

One cabinet member described it with relish as "socialism in one clause".

Socialism. Worked so well everywhere else it\’s been tried, eh?

The government will create a new over-arching law creating a duty on the whole public sector to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. This single legal duty will stand as the main frame from which all other equality legislation flows. Race, gender and disability injustices are all subsets of the one great inequality – class. It trumps them all. The gap between rich and poor in Britain is greater than in almost all rich nations, putting the UK with the United States among the most unequal.

Sadly there\’s an appalling mish mash of ideas in there. One of the defining things about the English (which is indeed different from the British) class system is that it isn\’t defined by either income or wealth. So to argue that we\’ll close class divisions by equalising either income or wealth is absurd.

If you want to talk about purely income or wealth, go ahead. But then you\’ve got to understand something else odd about the UK. We\’ve, compared to other countries, got huge regional variation in incomes. To pluck a couple of stats from memory, median female white collar wages in the NE are 60% lower than they are in London (might be 60% of, can\’t remember). London wages are 140% of national median.

But so also do living costs vary greatly around the country. If you use purely the national statistics you might say that someone on £14,000 is in poverty (that\’s 60% of the national median of 23k or so). But that does very much depend. What\’s the local price level? That number in London certainly doesn\’t go far. But what about Cumbria say (just an example). And can we really say that 14k in an expensive part of the country is the same poverty as that same income in a cheap one?

Well, no, we can\’t. And that\’s a problem, for the UK economy is dominated by the high wage high cost area of London (it\’s 10 million people, 15% of the entire population!) in a way that few other countries are so dominated by one city of region.

Insisting that the gap between rich and poor is closed might, to a certain mindset, be a noble aspiration. But if you\’re going to ignore the regional differences in the UK economy then you\’re going to cause disaster while you attempt to do so.

19 comments on “Welcome to Britain

  1. What is going on here, I feel, is that most British legislation comes from the EU. This leaves little but micromanagement for the Government – admitted the EU is also deep into micromanagement.

    When this dismal condition meets a bunch of natural control freaks, this sort of nonsense is what we get, and will continue to get until we leave the EU and our politicians have real work to do.

  2. Yay. Sounds like your Labour Party know their time is up and want to leave some ‘legacy’ legislation in place for the Tories to deal with. And it will probably be much easier to install than it is to get rid of.

  3. A quick and dirty way to reduce the gap between rich and poor would be to cut the wages of the public sector for all but front line staff. The management oiks are not worth the money they get. Or would that be too much like genuine equality?

    This push for equality overrides one very ingrained fact about humans – we’re all different. Different skills, different talents, different lifestyles. People can earn shedloads in a myriad of different ways, while others are just as happy and content to earn more meagre sums doing relatively boring stuff.

    Where does this strange thinking that we should all be equal come from? It’s certainly not borne out of logic or experience. Idle jealousy?

  4. It’s a great bunfight opportunity – traditional lefties can be all ‘hahaha, we’re going to soak the rich’, while traditional righties can be all ‘oh noes, the sky is falling, evil Stalinites will send us all to the gulags’.

    But if you actually look at the proposal that daft Pol is referring to, it basically involves spending a few bob on trying to make crap schools less crap, and providing kids from shitty backgrounds with better pre-schooling.

    Now, you might say that’s just a money pit unless you combine it with school reform/union-breaking/education vouchers – but the concept of ensuring that kids who have the misfortune to be born poor get the best chance possible to succeed in life is hardly Evil Socialism.

  5. “Where does this strange thinking that we should all be equal come from? It’s certainly not borne out of logic or experience. Idle jealousy?”

    From minds impaled on an ideological extreme that bears no relation to reality, and that use it as an excuse to develop legislation that acts as a Procrustean bed for us all.

  6. “A quick and dirty way to reduce the gap between rich and poor would be to cut the wages of the public sector for all but front line staff.”

    Actually that is a fabulous idea. Seeing as the public sector is now such a huge employer, there is a very good case for suggesting that this would be a superb place for such a pilot scheme. If it can be made to work in the public sector where everyone is imbued with the marvellous ethos of public service, it ain’t going to fly in the private sector.

    Can’t see the doctors and dentists taking it though…

  7. But if you actually look at the proposal that daft Pol is referring to, it basically involves spending a few bob on trying to make crap schools less crap, and providing kids from shitty backgrounds with better pre-schooling.

    Ah, the old “few bob” line gets trotted by john b again. Like the twats haven’t been pissing taxpayer money out at all sorts of noble things to no avail already.

    Intentions don’t matter, results do.

  8. On regional differences, Tim, I have noticed significant differences in food costs across East Anglia. Ipswich is cheaper than Cambridge, while Felixstowe is cheaper than Ipswich (which is just 12 miles away), but King’s Lynn is cheaper still. It is difficult to see what are the causes. Obviously, there is an element of charging what the local market will bear, which in turn is related to the demographics, and the number and size of the outlets in competition with each other. And distribution costs are relevant too.

  9. Ah, the old “few bob” line gets trotted by john b again

    Fine, let’s assume a quid a head is a lot of money – this is still about equality of opportunity not equality of outcome, which makes most of the wibbling upthread (and most of Polly’s wibbling) entirely moot.

    “Yes, equality of opportunity would be good but this will be an expensive way of failing to achieve it” is a fair response to the proposals. I’m not sure it’s the right one, but it’s clearly a fair one. “Evil socialists want to make us all the same, like Stalin did” is not.

  10. “Evil socialists want to make us all the same, like Stalin did”

    If ‘the same’ means dead. Stalin just wanted to eliminate anyone who could be a threat to him: the entire middle class and intelligentsia, as well as anyone else with more than two brain cells to rub together who didn’t have the native wit to keep their mouth shut and toe the party line. Tim and everyone else who reads/contributes here, would have been well advised to stock up on cold weather gear and energy bars.

    There’s a difference – and not just one of degree – between deluded Lefty refusal to accept that people have different abilities/talents, and a psychopath’s need to remain in control.

  11. These are the people, remember, that even by their own measures cannot ever get rid of poverty, as they regard it to be a percentage of average wages. Which means if and when (and you get the feeling it’ll be a when) Warren Buffet leaves London a bunch of kids will be slung into poverty all of a sudden. There’s no such thing as poverty in this country.

  12. Actually, equality is inherently inimical to the progress of civilization and the wealth dependent on that progress. Recognition of that truth would go far toward combatting the entire panoply of socialist panaceas and would even
    change the minds of many on the left, who see in “things as they are” only the apalling result of a history of social divisions based on race, class, etc.

    But the argument that I’d advance to make the case against egalitarian measures is in no way intended to dispute whatever may be said about the history of how we have arrived at the present point. Not only would that open a new field for interminable disagreement over exactly what facts constitute a reliable record of the past but it would miss the most important point entirely.

    The important point to consider is that, at the present time (and regardless the historical circumstances of its origin), we have a system in which, to a very great degree, the social function of each member of society, i.e., his (or her) way of “getting along” or earning a living, is subject to the choice of the individual himself as modified by his “prospects,” i.e. the chances that his fellow men will value, more or less, his contribution and reward him with some share of their own production. It is not “fair” in the sense that everyone and anyone may produce art to grace the national museums, appear regularly in motion pictures to adulation and extraordinary wealth, or be a “boss,”— telling others what to
    in the management of a major enterprise. On the otjher hand, none of these (and many other similarly favorable situations) are denied to no man on account of his origin or class. And the proof certain of this is that, indeed, men of many unfavored circumstances have actually achieved such distinctions and positions, while the vast majority of those more favored by origin have lived out their lives in merely more comfortably-furnished mediocrity.

    There are well-meaning inspirational phrases exhorting , in all endeavors, to “keep our eye on the goal.” And, in this case, we cannot fault those on the left for waywardness in that respect: despite every setback and every defeat of one or another method, their eyes have never left the goal of equality. What I suggest is a closer examination of the goal itself: what shall be the conditions on that happiest of days? When the individual, on the basis of his “unequal” allotment of inherent and self-driven characteristics and peculiarities (or even of his parents’ choices, in the case of children) is no longer entitled to choose for himself on the basis of what appears best in his own eyes, how shall that choice be made? Just how (and at what age) shall some determination divide those who shall be bus drivers from from the pool of potential physicists? And just who (and how many) are to be “trained” for roles in the “world’s oldest profession?”

    It can be argued (and, indeed, is) that gross divisions may be made at relatively early life stages via abilities testing of one or another sort, to “channel” various broad groups into similarly broad vocational pathways. It is at least noteworthy that such suggestion, formerly favored by many on the left, are now bitterly denounced by the same parties both as racist and sexist, it being their current position that such differences as are observed are, themselves, merely the product of past inequality of one or another social condition.

    But the problem cannot be made to go away under any circumstances, even were it to be learned that, at birth, all children were, indeed, exactly “as equal as Ford automobiles.” Again, the problem shall be “who shall choose?”

    The “left,” at least in public pronouncements, lays great store by the general idea of outcomes subject to “democratic” control. On that basis, it is difficult to even imagine outcomes more so subject than at present. Every man has not just one vote but many–as many as he has pennies to spend in satisfying his wants and in making known his choices among the many offered to achieve such satisfaction. It is true that a rich man may vote many more times than a poor one but his advantage is largely outweighed by the sheer numerical superiority of the rest. The rich man must spend comparatively exorbitantly to aquire the material appurtenances of great wealth. And caviar and Rolls-Royce autos, even while selling for far-higher profit margins than Big Macs and Toyotas, neither prevent the latter items from being offered to the far-greater numbers of the less well-off but, even at profit margins pared nearly to the bone, actually provide greater fortunes (in the absolute sense) to their successful enterprisers than do those catering to the wealthy. Even further, this type of “voting” (as opposed to its political counterpart) pretty fairly (though, indeed, not perfectly, especially in the case of externalities) restricts the determination of outcomes almost precisely to those with a precisely to those with
    a “stake” in such matters. The vegetarian is not bothered with whether those in the beef or the pork business shall prosper and to what degree but, with absolutely eminent fairness, is in no way forced to contribute to aggrandizement of those despised and, further, is free to spread general acceptance of such preference. No one is forced to contribute to the propagation of literature or entertainment of which he, himself, does not approve (except in the case of gov’t. control or subsidy of communications media); in those economies with any pretense of freedom, the cheap, shoddy, and even depraved seem everywhere to predominate and quite because of, rather than despite, the fact that their appeal is mostly to those on the “lower” reaches of the social divisions. That, however, seems not to interfere in the slightest with the immense number and variety of “higher” entertainments, whether literature, music, physical art, travel for education, adventure, or relaxation, etc. Someone “planning” for a “better, more equal future” might certainly conclude that the world’s stock of really great literature (both fiction and non) is so “full up” already that anyone with such tastes could satiate himself every minute of his life without exhausting the already-produced supply. What more sagacious. economic, and “fair” decision could be possible than to ban all further “waste” of valuable human effort on such pursuits; surely that would be a small price to pay for advancement of the idea of equality>

    It’s important to look more carefully at what you want. You might get it.

  13. The rich do not get richer means their money invested in the economy does not work. Which means economy stagnating and everyone gets poorer.

    Get over inequality straw men. The real goal of real socialism is to eliminate poor, not to eliminate rich.

  14. Pingback: People that Hate America, Just Leave Because it’s the Best Place to Live « Rantings of mine

  15. From the news article:

    “Harriet Harman, the head of the government’s equality office …..”

    In 1961, Vonnegut wrote a short story, “Harrison Bergeron”. One of the main antagonists was Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General. The function of that office was to make absolutely sure that everyone was equal.

    The first line of the story:

    “The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.”

    Harrison Bergeron

    Dotar Sojat understands. I’ve been calling it “Formerly Great Britain” for a few years now.

    Josh S: Churchill and Thatcher, yes, but also Nelson, Kitchener, Pitt, Disraeli, …

    The best way government can guarantee equality – of opportunity, because everyone is not, and never has been, equal – is to get out of the way, and step in only where there is abuse.

  16. I’m not a Briton, but I do wonder: Is there anywhere in the developed world not being crushed by the slow creep of statism and socio-cultural stagnation? Hop to the Continent? Uh, no. Canada? Uh, probably no (and crap weather). The US? Only a few years behind the UK. Oz or NZ? Maybe like the US. Japan? Demographic and national debt nightmare.

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