23 comments on “Timmy elsewhere

  1. Given that we’ve tried laissez faire and that failed disastrously and is failing again in its deregulation neo liberalising disguise, we don’t have any options left but the mixed economy.
    No controls of the supply of credit to building cartels, that artificially controlled the supply of houses to keep up prices, crashed the system last time. All the superannuated hippies mumbling” I want to live in a world with no controls man!” have just put everybody in the way of control by big private sector corporations which have to be less public-spirited (there’s an old phrase) than democratic governments.

  2. Jesus DBC, I started to count the instances of bullshit in your comment and ran our of fingers and toes – are you really that divorced from reality?

  3. We tried all the way through 19th century >the clue’s in the name which came from 18th century. Joseph Chamberlain called a halt in the 1870’s when competing private enterprises kept digging up the roads in his beloved Birmingham and private water supplies gave everybody typhoid. People trying to revive it now are Economic Goths in love with No Controls Man and the dark forms of anarchy.
    Did n’t you see The Mill : child slave labour etc?

  4. That we may hypothetically want government to provide/finance/restrict the provision of certain bits of infrastructure, or provide the basic rules of the game, does not lead to a desire for the government to plan the economy or regulate the arse off businesses.

    Anyway, I’m sceptical that we had laissez faire even in the nineteenth century.

    As for slave labour – not very laissez faire is it?

  5. I can’t see what’s not laissez faire about nine year olds from workhouses engaged in slave labour on twelve hour shifts in mills working on the products of other slave labour or indentured servants on plantations of cotton, tobacco, sugar etc. (Anything big in Liverpool basically.) It aint Socialism.
    As for Birmingham ,read what Engels said about it in 1845.Average height of men just over five feet; child labourers fed on one piece of bread during the long working-day. Majority of potential recruits to services found to be unfit( the same sixty years later with Boer War.).
    We’ve learnt a lot since those days, of course. Not on here you haven’t.

  6. It’s quite hard to have a system for indenturing people, capturing them, shipping them off to Jamaica and stopping them escaping without government involvement.

    Also not really sure of the difference between forcing me to grow sugar under threat of the lash and taking most of my income and telling me what I may or may not sell/buy/smoke under threat of being caged. Socialists quite like the second part.

    I think you’re conflating laissez faire with anarchism. Most proponents of the former are vigorous defenders of people’s right to life and liberty.

  7. DBC-

    Workhouses were State institutions, not private sector. And, yes, they did indeed inflict the worst conditions on both children and adults. That’s not laissez faire.

  8. Back to the original story, does anyone know if the MPs are just talking bollocks because they’re not good at sums? I think their objection is that the ONS just do some sort of statistical sampling system to estimate the number of bods going in and out, rather than count them.

    My guess is that the chances are low that the MPs, rather than ONS, know best as to what is a suitable sample size and/or what the margin of error is.

  9. Lets hear it from somebody who was i) living in laissez faire England at the time (1845);ii) not unintelligent.
    ‘Hence free competition in every respect, hence the regime of laissez faire, laissez aller in government ,in medicine, in education and soon religion as the State Church collapses more and more . Free competition will suffer no limitation, no State supervision, the whole state is but a burden to it. It would reach its highest perfection in a wholly ungoverned anarchic society where each may exploit the others to his heart’s content.” Engels ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England’
    Apart from the tendentious rhetoric at the end, Engels depicts what those who, rich and spoiled by the mixed economy, tend to proclaim on here now. But it is in the mass of detailed observation that Engels makes his overwhelming case against laissez faire, laissez aller but which few on here have read,apparently.

    It is no use saying that workhouses were public institutions .All was imbued by laissez faire thinking : remember Boy for Sale in Oliver? Kids dragooned into the mills from private families were treated very little better , being enslaved by their parents.

    Indentured servitude was not run under government auspices: it was a means of evading the prohibition on outright slavery in British colonial territories. It created an enduring suspicion of Indian and Chinese indentured labourers among black ex-slaves and their descendants who expected, with freedom, to be paid for work in fact done for nothing by indentured labour who moved into “the lines” of shanties occupied formerly by slaves. What was the colonial government supposed to do? It was n’t slavery ; people volunteered for indentured servitude.(As they volunteer for a lifetime’s mortgage debt now.)

  10. Let’s hear from a political ideologue whose disciples have caused more human misery than any right-wing dictator in history (even if you misclassify the National Socialist German Workers Party as right-wing) …
    Workhouses were local government institutions but it seems to me that they were imbued with doctrinaire thinking of two types – one that most of the unemployed poor (as distinct from the idle rich) were lazy and secondly with a concern to minimise the cost to the ratepayers. It is noteworthy that the old pre-Blair Charity rules disqualified any which spent money to reduce the burden on the parish rate so the policy of most workhouses was *by definition* uncharitable. One of the things that they *cannot* (by any honest commentator) be accused of is “laissez faire” – they were totally interventionist. The nearest modern equivalent is the Soviet Union where everyone was required to have a job, just like the workhouse.

  11. @ Tim
    How many more houses? That depends partly on the net inflow of immigrants which we don’t know, partly on the number of kids leaving home minus the number of widows/widowers dying, partly on difference between marital break-ups and the triumph of hope over experience evidenced by re-marriage or the modern equivalent …
    That we don’t know the precise answer to any of these is not an excuse for the failure under New Labour to build enough houses for the sum of the lower estimates for each and the resultant 145% rise in house prices. A farmer does not know what the yield per acre in August will be when he plants the seeds in November but he plants enough so that the maximum yield should be enough to feed his family. That seems too sophisticated for Socialists.
    Gosplan is an example of the disadvantages of central planning. One example is that it cost more to transport crude oil from a Siberian oilfield to the nearest refinery and back again than it would have done to build a small refinery close to the oilfield (return on capital employed on each of several small refineries would have been greater than 50% pa – for an optimal network close to 80% pa). Yes, I did check the sums.
    If we scrap all planning controls there will be a frightening burst of activity that will push house prices (including mine) down below equilibrium reducing the wealth that my sons will inherit: they will put up with it.

  12. Engels may have erred in his prognosis ,but his diagnosis was sound enough and foolish for us to criticise: that laissez faire had a grip on nineteenth century England. And laissez faire revivalists now.The Liberal Party went from laissez faire to pensions, National Insurance and the “Making of the Welfare State” under Lloyd George and Churchill in one generation . People are now trying to regress.

  13. Actually I wasn’t criticising Engels because millions have already done that, so there seemed no need.
    What I *was* doing was pointing out that workhouses were the exact opposite of “laissez faire” the local arm of the state directing people as to where they should, what they should do, decreeing what they should eat and, usually, what they should wear.
    Lloyd George’s Pension and National Insurance scheme was based on, and largely absorbed, the Friendly Societies movement which had provided sickness, death and unemployment benefits and old age pensions to its members for generations prior to 1910. In fact, Lloyd George’s scheme could be considered inferior as it did not provide death benefits to families whose breadwinner died before retiring, so many Friendly Societies continued to provide death benefits for the ensuing century..

  14. @JOHN 77
    “If we scrap all planning controls” (at the behest of some right wing/laissez faire ideologues in the Coalition parties?) “we will get a frightening burst of activity”( which will send the rank and file members of the Coalition parties into paroxysms invoking controls to stop the building near them)” that will push down house prices” (so the developers are not going to do it as it will devalue not only their own houses but the entire stock of long-built houses.)

  15. Oh for Pete’s sake!
    A housing developer will forego profit because building more houses will reduce the price (not value, if one understands the difference between price and value) of houses owned by other people?
    Pull the other leg – it has bells on. Just how stupid do you think we are?
    When I was young an overall majority of paid-up members of the Conservative and Unionist Party were working class; nowadays there are far fewer, in fact a minority, designated “working class” so it is probably also a minority. But DBC Reed’s smear campaign deserves to be outed as a baseless smear campaign. For instance my wife actively campaigned (with my support when I had time) for housing, with a large component of social housing, to be built on the *nearest* vacated site rather than a supermarket

  16. So let’s get this straight; DBC Reed, the house price monomaniac, is fiercely opposed to housing development.

    You couldn’t make it up, honestly.

    But really, this is one reason I don’t support an LVT; many of the campaigners don’t really want low land prices. They want high ones, which they then can tax to pay for big government, etc.

  17. @J77
    Keep calm!
    I note you have not disputed that the Con Dem leadership may call for a “bonfire of controls” out of blind faith in laissez faire notions while their members (and electors) will cling onto controls on building like mad.
    You have also made an excursion into the class basis of Conservative party membership the relevance of which is hard to ascertain. And what smear campaign? How can a private citizen mount a campaign single handed?
    As to the point you have dealt with : I cannot see the developers flooding the market with cheap housing ,decreasing all house prices and putting the overmortgaged masses into negative equity , causing grief to the banks which have collateralised housing .
    @Ian B
    You are, when it suits you, as much of a house price maniac as myself. I am all for building more houses : I am saying you cannot rely on the private sector in housing which is a de facto cartel fulfilling its definitive role of restricting supply to keep up prices.
    You are right that some land taxers ” want high” land values so they can take more tax : I endure much grief by opposing them. My preferred form of LVT, the original( in English) JS Mill version, would set a deadline and scalp any land price rise from “here on” (in Martin Wolf’s words) This would cap land prices and provide the “automatic stabiliser” of property prices that Posen said he was looking for.

  18. @ DBC Reed
    You note no such thing. Your imagination is running away with you.
    I *have* disputed your smear “which will send the rank and file members of the Coalition parties into paroxysms invoking controls to stop the building near them”
    I haven’t noticed any blind faith in laissez faire in the leadership of either party in the Coalition but there are a handful of very noisy individuals (albeit fewer than among UKIP supporters) among the rank and file who proclaim the advantages of laissez faire. Your bait and switch of claiming that because I did not deny there are some laissez faire ideologues I do not dispute that the leadership has blind faith (which even the ideologues do not) in laissez faire is simply false.
    The people clinging to building controls are primarily council officials protecting their little empires.
    .

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