Owen Jones and the 9 Point Agenda For Hope

They’ve let the teenage trot out of his cage again. Would that they had someone who could grow whiskers opining on how to run the country:

1) A statutory living wage, with immediate effect, for large businesses and the public sector, and phased in for small and medium businesses over a five-year Parliament. This would save billions spent on social security each year by reducing subsidies to low-paying bosses, as well as stimulating the economy, creating jobs because of higher demand, stopping pay being undercut by cheap labour, and tackling the scandal of most of Britain’s poor being in work. An honest days’ pay for an honest days’ work would finally be enshrined in law.

Let us assume that what he means is the Living Wage calculated by the campaign for a living wage. The problem with this is that the current minimum wage would indeed be that living wage if only the government didn’t steal so damn much of it in tax and national insurance.

No, really, I’ve been doing these calculations ever since the living wage campaign first started. And the only difference between the two suggested numbers is the depredations into the incomes of the working poor made by the demands of the State.

So much so that I have suggested that the income tax and national insurance allowances (and yes, including employers’ national insurance) should be linked, by law, to the full time full year minimum wage. Change one and you’ve got to change the other. And the post tax net income of people on today’s minimum wage would be, in such a system, the post tax net income of people being paid the living wage under the current tax system.

For the fact is that we do not have wage poverty in the UK today. The State is taxing the poor so highly that what we actually have is tax poverty.

2) Resolve the housing crisis by regulating private rents and lifting the cap on councils to let them build hundreds of thousands of houses and in doing so, create jobs, bring in rent revenues, stimulate the economy and reduce taxpayers’ subsidies to landlords.

The general view of rent controls among economists is that they are the best method of destroying the housing stock of an urban area short of aerial bombing. The biggest part of the cost of building housing in the south of England these days (which is where the housing shortage actually is) is the scarcity value of the chitty allowing you to build the housing. So, this is easy to solve. Issue more chitties, problem over.

Without that side effect of damn near bombing the hell out of urban areas.

3) A 50 per cent tax on all earnings above £100,000 – or the top 2 per cent of earners – to fund an emergency jobs and training programme for young unemployed people, including the creation of a national scheme to insulate homes and businesses across Britain, dragging millions of out of fuel poverty, reducing fuel bills, and helping to save the environment. All such jobs will be paid the living wage, supported with paid apprenticeships rather than unpaid “workfare” schemes.

We already have 50% tax on higher earners. Employers’ national insurance is, as Ritchie would tell us, entirely bourne by the employee. Add the current 45 p rate to employers’ NI and we’re already over 50%.

Also, we’ve already got an insulation scheme4 running. And the reason it’s not working all that well is that large parts of the UK housing stock cannot in fact be insulated. Simply don’t have cavity walls into which you can put the stuff.

4) An all-out campaign to recoup the £25bn worth of tax avoided by the wealthiest each year, clamping down on all possible loopholes with a General Anti-Tax Avoidance Bill, as well as booting out the accountancy firms from the Treasury who help draw up tax laws, then advise their clients on how to get around them.

That’s a Ritchie estimate of course and therefore clearly wrong. Much of what Ritchie does count as “avoidance” is stuff that HMRC and EU law describes as entirely legal structures being used as they are supposed to be being used. There just isn’t the money to be collected here.

5) Publicly run, accountable local banks. Transform the bailed-out banks into regional public investment banks, with elected taxpayers’ representatives sitting on boards to ensure they are accountable. Give the banks a specific mandate to help small businesses and encourage the green industries of the future in each region.

Well done, you’ve just recreated the Spanish caja system. You know, the one that went entirely and totally bust and dragged the entire country down with it? Precisely and exactly because “elected representatives” doled out the cash to their muckers.

6) An industrial strategy to create the “green jobs” and renewable energy industries of the future. It would be focused on regions that have been damaged by deindustrialisation, creating secure, skilled, dignified jobs, and reducing unemployment and social security spending, based on an active state that intervenes in the economy, learning from the experiences of countries such as Germany.

Germany….the most expensive and fatuous green energy scheme ever, anywhere? The one that has coal use (and brown coal at that) rising?

And don’t you know that jobs are a cost, not a benefit, of a scheme?

7) Publicly owned rail and energy, democratically run by consumers and workers. As each rail franchise expires, bring them back into the public sector, with elected representatives of passengers and workers to sit on the new management boards, ending our fragmented, inefficient, expensive railway system. Build a publicly owned energy network by swapping shares in privately run companies for bonds, and again put elected consumers’ representatives on the boards. Democratic public ownership instead of privatisation could be a model for public services like the NHS, too.

What an excellent model for insider capture. The only people who will run for such boards and positions are the insiders who will benefit most from being able to manipulate the system.

8) A new charter of workers’ rights fit for the 21st century. End all zero-hour contracts, with new provisions for flexible working to help workers. Allow all unions access to workplaces so they can organise, levelling the playing field and giving them a chance to improve wages and living standards. Increase turnout and improve democratic legitimacy in union ballots by allowing workplace-based balloting and online voting.

More unionisation. Well, I suppose he has to say that given that he’s subsidised by one or more unions.

9) A universal childcare system that would pay for itself as parents who are unable to work are able to do so, and which would take on the inequalities between richer and poorer children that begin from day one.

We already have one of those, don’t we? Usually known as “parents”.

To be honest I’ve no beef at all with anyone proposing whatever they like as alternatives to the current system. I’ve been known to make a few suggestions myself.

But it would be nice if the people doing such proposing were to take note of the accumulated wisdom of the past few centuries. You know, have a look at what has been tried and failed before?

41 comments on “Owen Jones and the 9 Point Agenda For Hope

  1. They’ll tell you that the only reason these nostrums failed is because they weren’t tried hard enough.

  2. How exactly would nationalised railways be run by consumers AND workers? Bob Crow and his RMT want a 20% pay rise and go on strike, consumers do…what?

    The Teenage Trot knows this.

  3. It’s quite normal for people going through puberty to have irrational opinions due to raging hormones affecting their judgment.

  4. So, a grab bag of the usual economically incontinent wish list of the paternalist left then.

    I just wish that after a couple of centuries of this, they’d come up with some new ideas. It’s all so horribly old fashioned.

  5. The level of congential far left f*cktardism in the comments are a sight to behold.

    ….learned nothing and forgotten nothing as a man once said….

  6. 9) A universal childcare system that would pay for itself as parents who are unable to work are able to do so, and which would take on the inequalities between richer and poorer children that begin from day one.

    So, we have to force women who want to be home with their children into the work force, so that they can pay for another woman, probably darker and certainly poorer, to look after their children? All so that each child gets the equally sh!tty education our feckless underclass deems fit and proper for their own carelessly spawned progeny?

    Yeah. Go with that one. What could go wrong?

  7. That bit about nationalising everything in sight reminded me of an interview I heard a few years ago with, I think, Dennis Healy. If it wasn’t hem it was someone equally senior from the Labour Party after the war who survived in politics.

    After they had finally nationalised the mines said politician recounted asking the NMU leadership “what do we do with the industry now?” To which the reply was that’s not our problem, we just want more money.

    And that was a problem for the next 40 years. As has been pointed out, those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

  8. I would have thought the easiest way to stop subsidising low paying bosses was to cut the benefits/tax credits paid. Nice and simple solution and would shut up those claiming government is subsidising.
    Quite how employers, paying government each month and paying employees at least the government imposed minimum wage are also getting the government to subsidise this government imposed minimum wage is beyond me. Perhaps government is choosing to do as it is? Nothing to do with employers.

  9. there’s a fairly simple solution to this – we implement the General Anti Avoidance Bill after a referendum; any shortfall in the level of forecast receipts will then have to made up from the pockets of everyone who voted for it.

  10. >large parts of the UK housing stock cannot in fact be insulated. Simply don’t have cavity walls into which you can put the stuff.

    Solid walls are about 30% of the stock.

    External wall insulation is far better performing than cavity wall insulation, anyway. And we have already insulated something like 65% of the places that can be cavity wall insulated.

  11. Did he work all this out on his own?

    This is the blue print?

    He went to school for this?

    Did he do history as a subject?

    Oh, I forgot, he has never worked in the wealth-creating private sector and certainly not as a wealth creator.

  12. well, I reckon I could come up with some more sensible versions of some of these ideas, rather than attempt that here, I will add to the chorus of division.

    Lefties are often mock right-wingers faith in the magic free market fairy to solve all problems, Owen relies on the magic democratically elected board member fairy.

  13. “Allow all unions access to workplaces so they can organise”

    How the hell do you bring in a bloody law to do that then? What about the myriad small businesses where nobody wants to join any union?

  14. Luis has it right. Allocation of scarce resources involves hard choices; putting a fluffy delectable quangocrat in charge of making that decision doesn’t mean that the hard constraints go away. There are obvious tensions where my interests as a worker contradict my interests as a consumer, or what is good for a local can be bad at a regional or national level. These issues aren’t “solved” by the simple expedient of appointing Local And Workers’ Councils.

    Having said that, childcare is a fair point. Lots of people move away from family support to find work – more than historically. And I do not think it is equitable to assume everyone has a support network to fall back on – we know they don’t. So I might support that one, though not being a Trot, I doubt it’d pay for itself. More like it’s a cost worth paying.

    (The counter-argument is that for those people it is worth working for, private childcare is affordable, but those whose market wages are insufficient to afford childcare, are actually better off – and in some sense more “productive” – to stay at home with the kids. But for several reasons I don’t buy this. There is clearly some virtue helping poorer mothers in particular to stay engaged with the labour market, not least because they tend to have short discounting time horizons and to underinvest in long-term skills. Time out from the workforce can be a big barrier to reentry, and it’s undesirable for people to miss out on a long-term career because they lacked a support network and faced high short-run childcare costs.)

  15. I actually thought Tim was insufficiently harsh on “End
    all zero-hour contracts, with new
    provisions for flexible working to
    help workers.” Skipped over that to rib the union stuff.

    But in the small business world I have no idea how that could be made to work. Even in big business and the public sector I doubt it’s possible.

    I had a zero hour contract with a local college – if their lecturer was off sick or otherwise incapacitated, they could call me in to take the night class. An eminently sensible arrangement for all parties.

    What would be the alternative? The other guy to have one compulsory week in four off so I got guaranteed hours? To defy the ban by giving me an ad hoc two-hour contract each time I came in, thereby creating more busytime for the HR department and no particular benefit for anyone? Sod the (paying) students, just cancel the class? I would love to know the “correct” solution from one of its proponents, but fear I’d just get fobbed off by some guff about “flexibility” and “my rights”.

  16. @ MBE ‘To defy the ban by giving me an ad hoc two-hour contract each time I came in, thereby creating more busytime for the HR department’

    I think you might be on to something there.

  17. Well, to be fair, many of those policies would be considered normal in countries like France, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

    Countries with unemployment levels 150% to 350% of the UK’s, in other words.

  18. MBE: Having said that, childcare is a fair point

    but only to the extent that children are a social good.

    If you take the view that my children are my business and not the state’s then the provision I make for them is also my affair and not something with which to saddle the taxpayer.

  19. On the living wage point, here’s an interesting stat from the USA:

    “Only 11.3% of workers who will gain from an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.50 per hour live in poor households… Of those who will gain, 63.2% are second or third earners living in households with incomes three times the poverty line, well above $50,233, the income of the median household in 2007.”
    http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/01/how-well-does-a-minimum-wage-boost-target-the-poor.html

    Raising the minimum wage wouldn’t do much to alleviate poverty. Many minimum wage workers don’t work full-time, and aren’t the primary breadwinners. I expect we’d find similar stats in the UK.

  20. From just above in the article:

    ‘These Agenda for Hope policies are suggestions that draw inspiration from tax justice crusaders such as chartered accountant Richard Murphy and UKUncut; the pioneering New Economics Foundation, with its work on a new industrial policy and banks that work for people; and new union-backed think-tank Class, which is hammering away at an alternative.’

    which explains a lot. Probably the second most evil person in Britain (after Murphy), and certainly the most humorless on Twitter or any other Social medium – should be renamed – ‘agenda for hopelessness’ or ‘the Soviet Union revisited’….

  21. @ My Burning Ears

    “I doubt it’d pay for itself”

    Not even slightly.

    The problem with childcare is that it’s too expensive for people on low-medium wages. If they can’t pay for it from post-tax income, then how the fuck is the additional tax they’d pay on such an income going to pay for it?

    Especially after Owen just made it even more expensive by mandating a much higher minimum wage.

    The low paid people taking advantage of it would just put other low-paid people out of work – so that doesn’t really help all that much. The middle-higher paid people who already do pay for it from their net incomes would get a benefit they don’t ‘need’, but obviously won’t pay commensurately higher taxes.

    So yeah.. if we think it’s worth doing because it’s a good thing and everyone is happy that general taxation funds it.. then that’s one thing. But ‘self funding’ is either grand stupidity, or a flat-out lie.

  22. @The Meissen Bison

    “MBE: Having said that, childcare is a fair point”… but only to the extent that children are a social good.

    Ish, I think.

    If I wanted to make an argument that government-subsidised childcare was allocatively efficient, it might be less about whether children are a “good” (a difficult argument to make for several reasons, but it would have to turn on how [in]elastic family size is with respect to affordability of childcare – probably hard to estimate convincingly, as country comparisons may be influenced by unobserved cultural factors) and more about whether the exclusion of many mothers from the workforce was an economic “bad” (sketch argument above).

    But as I said, unlike Jones I don’t confidently expect the scheme to “pay for itself”. For me, even if it is somewhat inefficient, it would at least help address a fairly serious inequity. You may have adequate resources (familial or financial) to arrange childcare without facing severe constraints, but other people do not, and for many people those constraints include exit from the labour market and reduction in their long-run economic prospects. Maintaining their access to employment and associated skills development may be allocatively inefficient, but arguably fairer. An argument that concedes “it has an economic cost, but may be worth paying due to equity considerations” doesn’t rely on raising society’s total utility, so doesn’t hinge on whether kids are a social “good”.

    Owen’s argument that such a scheme would be self-financing might well be affected by how you account for the value or otherwise of kids, though.

  23. “Owen’s argument that such a scheme would be self-financing might well be affected by how you account for the value or otherwise of kids, though.”

    … which is very difficult to ascertain.. what with ebay and their ‘policies’.

  24. Last para was partially in response to TTG too. To elucidate: Jones may be including some sort of social value into the equation. Perhaps the extra children, future citizens and tax-payers, that the lower-middle-earners may have. If he was thinking in terms of current tax receipts only, I have difficulty seeing how it would add up. If he was thinking about the economics more generally, then I doubt the marginal product of lower-earning work returners would counterbalance the deadweight costs associated with the additional taxation required. Higher earners who leave the workforce to rear their kids are presumably doing so from preference, so I doubt that free childcare would tempt them back.

    Unlike TTG I don’t think that people returning to the labour force would simply displace other low earners – that smells like the Lump of Labour fallacy.

  25. @ MBE

    I think that if Owen thinks that the ‘self funding’ comes from a somewhat, er, ‘indirect’ route, then he should avoid using language that 99.9% of people would assume means something else.

    I’m probably more opposed to his lie/idiocy than his idea. I can see theoretical benefits from the idea.. but, practically, I probably see way too many downsides.

    ‘Lump of labour’ is probably fair comment, though. Hey, for starters, just imagine how many jobs the vast state childcare bureaucracy will create! Kerching!

  26. And the outcry when the suggestion was made to increase the number of children that could be overseen by a childcare worker… so not a cheap option at all.

  27. Childcare is expensive because we have made it expensive! With a mandated minimum wage, and ridged ratio requirements, plus the inevitable overheads, it’s always going to be the case that paid for child care for a couple of kids will cost a similar amount to the minimum wage an hour. This isn’t radical economic theory, this is basic arithmetic.
    Add in that tax is taken out of the system at just about every stage, and then you wonder why people don’t bother?

    I’m not sure we are doing our kids any favors packing them off to child care anyway. While I’m sure many nurseries are very well run, I’m deeply unconvinced that they are a fully effective substitute for loving parental care…

  28. The Prole: I’m deeply unconvinced that they are a fully effective substitute for loving parental care…

    This is the point that I was groping towards earlier: if you haven’t the time, money or energy to look after your children then perhaps the solution is not to have children at all.

  29. MyBurningEars – “Having said that, childcare is a fair point. Lots of people move away from family support to find work – more than historically. And I do not think it is equitable to assume everyone has a support network to fall back on – we know they don’t. So I might support that one, though not being a Trot, I doubt it’d pay for itself. More like it’s a cost worth paying.”

    Why is it worth paying?

    “(The counter-argument is that for those people it is worth working for, private childcare is affordable, but those whose market wages are insufficient to afford childcare, are actually better off – and in some sense more “productive” – to stay at home with the kids. But for several reasons I don’t buy this. There is clearly some virtue helping poorer mothers in particular to stay engaged with the labour market, not least because they tend to have short discounting time horizons and to underinvest in long-term skills. Time out from the workforce can be a big barrier to reentry, and it’s undesirable for people to miss out on a long-term career because they lacked a support network and faced high short-run childcare costs.)”

    Why would we want to encourage re-entry? Why is it undesirable for women to miss out on a long-term career? Most women want more children. Most women want to spend more time at home with them. Most women do not have careers. Why should we force women out of the home by taxing them so highly that a single income is not enough to support a decent life style when they don’t want to be in the work place? Why should we substitute a perfectly good Mother with some low-paid, poorly motivated possible child molester when the Mothers would prefer to remain at home?

    On top of which, what do most women do? In my experience the massive expansion in women in the work place has gone hand in hand with the massive expansion of the sort of jobs we do not need. A massive expansion in the bureaucracy. The useless end of the bureaucracy at that. If you’re in an utterly dysfunctional and useless government office, I can almost guarantee you it is female-heavy. In parts of the private sector we don’t need either – Human Resources for instance.

    A sensible one-step plan to making Britain a much better place would be to stop the trend towards women in the work force and in fact do all we can to force them back home. We would get rid of the sort of people who brought us Baby P. We could get some Army veterans into Social Services which ought to benefit everyone. We could get rid of all those Speech Codes. We could close most of the Art History Departments across the UK. It is a win-win-win policy.

    And it is fair. Because instead of paying poor women to neglect their own children back home in the Philippines for the benefits of some Upper Middle Class women in downtown Islington, every Mother would get an equal chance to care for their own damn children.

    There is no downside.

  30. Hate to burst your little right wing bubble here chaps. But are you not missing the point. The British economy has been completely screwed over by the ideological cartel, of the banking, political and business classes. Who have ran the British economy into the ground over the last 30 years (all nicely hidden by a debt bubble of gargantuan proportions) This right wing, big business, laisez faire agenda has resulted in an economy where 93% of the “money” that makes up our GDP is nothing more than fictitious numbers on a computer backed by…. “Debt”… HSBC is looking perilously close to collapse THIS WEEK, as are most banks….. Northern Rock is the precedent here. In truth we are so ludicrously overleveraged that it looks like we can no longer live in this capitalist fantasy world … Which means a change of direction. The housing market; private landlords are in truth subsidised by housing benefit/ taxes, which means; well, we need to pay a living wage for those at the bottom, and end zero hour contracts. The creation of real jobs in council house building and the new green economy, will stimulate growth outside of the banksters economy that we are held to ransom by. A move toward supporting people into employment and training, is essential to social stability and the rebirth or regional economies outside the city of London. An equitable taxation system that redistributes wealth, and does not allow for tax dodging will at least help us to make a start on paying off this debt, and protect some of our essential social services, and begin to fix the Broken Britain, you are completely divorced from. Germany has strong unions, and a strong manufacturing base (why cant we) At the end of the day it is the self interested fucktard free market flag wavers in the Business, social and political classes who have dragged the country into this abyss and 50% tax is a small price to pay compared to the jail sentences that they should be serving.
    There is a genuinely ironic element to some of the self righteous winging indignation I have been reading on here. Because for all the outrage and swivel eyed abuse, it is free market monetarist capitalists who have led the economy down this path. The left and the unions haven’t had a look in since 79….. And yet its still somehow all there fault, I’m sorry but you will have to do better than this to convince people outside of your privileged Tory boy circles… The Agenda for hope looks largely spot on to me…. Pity the Left wont be strong enough to follow it through until. The fucktards in power and the city have completely bankrupted us….

  31. Germany has strong unions, and a strong manufacturing base (why cant we)

    Because German unions hsve looked to the long-term and conspired to depress workers’ wages. Something that the far-left that run British unions will never do. British manufacturing us still there, much to the surprise of the socialist ignorami, who tried to destroy it with a combination of anti-investment and entrepreneurial fiscal policy, nationalisation and strikes.

    The left and the unions haven’t had a look in since 79…..

    Typical. “But Blair and Brown weren’t doing socialism properly!” Well, they were doing it properly enough to nearly bankrupt the country.

  32. Yes, Britain still has manufacturing. We have failed to secure a place as the 150th smallest manufacturing base in the world and still produce a lot of stuff. We produce a lot of cars too, along with smaller stuff.

  33. SMFS ” A sensible one-step plan to making Britain a much better place would be to stop the trend towards women in the work force and in fact do all we can to force them back home.”

    Can’t agree with that but the question of whether professional childcare is an adequate substitute for family childcare is a valid one. Plenty of studies report no adverse effects but I’m sure many important variables are unobservable or unquantifiable. I also agree that lots of women, and a decent number of men actually, would prefer to spend more time bringing their own kids up. I just think it’s better if mothers can make their own minds up about the merits of professional childcare and whether they want to return to work. Forcing them back to work would not be an extension of their freedom. But a situation in which many women (or single dads for that matter) are unable to return to work because it is uneconomic for them to do so, is also a powerful reduction of their dominion over their own lives.

    It is also an inequitable constraint because there is considerable moral luck in its application. Someone can lay very sensible plans for settling down, but aspects of childcare and finance can fall apart very easily if a partner walks out/gets ill/loses work or the grandparents become incapacitated. Some folk don’t have the advantage of a good support network to start with. Okay, life isn’t fair, but it isn’t an unreasonable policy objective to ameliorate some of that unfairness.

    Tim is a proponent of an unconditional Basic Income Guarantee. I know a couple of other folk who post here are too (Frances Coppola, some of the Georgists). It’s a shame Owen Jones didn’t suggest anything so radical as that. It would render the childcare issue somewhat moot – those who really wanted to return to work could afford to do so (though if they have a large family and low wages they might make a loss on the deal, at least in the short run) but judging from history, plenty of folk would go the other way and use Basic Income to fund more time at home with the kids. That policy does have the distinct advantage of giving people more control over their lives, without people dictating to them what they “really” want to do.

  34. Pingback: Owen Jones; Idiot | Longrider

  35. @ Rob
    Bob Crow and his RMT want a 20% pay rise and go on strike, consumers do…what?
    Walk home!
    In the late-70s/early -80s I was one of the skeleton crew who came into the office on strike days. Late-80s after I got married and moved out, a colleague advised me that there was (there still is) a massive car park at East Finchley which would be empty on strike days so I ran into the office from there – but I had to walk up Archway Hill on the way back.

  36. @ Frazer Gillespie
    Gordon Brown is right wing?
    Any decent right-winger (or a centre-right like myself) will tell you to wash your mouth out with soap.
    Some of us, who did not attend ILEA schools are literate and numerate and hence can read the ONS statistics. The UK economy was screwed between 1997 and 2010: the extent was hidden by firstly, the categorisation of child-minding as paid work to be included in GDP figures, secondly counting pay rises for NHS employees and civil servants as an increase in GDP when output was unchanged, thirdly a systematic error in the RPI calculation, which understated inflation and therefore the GDP deflator, introduced in 1997 and only discovered in 2010, fourthly by the headlining of GDP rather than GDP/head in a period when we had more than 3.7 million immigrants.
    “93% of the “money” that makes up our GDP is nothing more than fictitious numbers on a computer” – GDP is made up of output, except in the case of the public sector where it is valued at cost, which includes hundreds of tons of barley, thousands of tons of wheat, thousands of tons of potatoes, millions of gallons of oil, millions of cars, tens of thousands of houses (it was hundreds of thousands before 1997), millions of gallons of beer (much needed), sweat and toil but with cakes and ale instead of blood and tears.
    “An equitable taxation system that redistributes wealth” is an oxymoron. You may want an equitable taxation system or you may want to redistribute wealth or you may want both but they are two very different things.
    “HSBC is looking perilously close to collapse THIS WEEK” For pity’s sake HSBC is one of the strongest banks in the world.
    “Northern Rock is the precedent here.” I have a piece of paper from Andrew Caldwell (Darling’s poodle accountant) which admits that when Darling appropriated Northern Rock it had net assets in excess of £2.5 billion. The banks which were actuially bust where the state-owned German banks and the Spanish cajas governed by their local governments.
    “The left and the unions haven’t had a look in since 79…..” Did you go to sleep in 1997 and wake up in 2012? Wages and salaries in the unionised public sector grew so much faster in 1997-2010 that they were higher, even excluding the massive value of inflation-proofed final salary pensions, than those in the private sector, so after adjusting for pensions and the value of job security the public sector unions were at least 20% overpaid. What on earth do *you* think constitute a look-in? Lunch at the Savoy Grill every day?
    Do you ever stop to think how ridiculous you make yourself look? That’s half-a-dozen examples and I could produce more instances but this post is already nearly as long as yours.

  37. MyBurningEars – “Can’t agree with that but the question of whether professional childcare is an adequate substitute for family childcare is a valid one. Plenty of studies report no adverse effects but I’m sure many important variables are unobservable or unquantifiable.”

    And there is a massive bias towards child care. In reality, the evidence seems fairly good. Child care is not good for children. Which is hardly a surprise.

    “I just think it’s better if mothers can make their own minds up about the merits of professional childcare and whether they want to return to work. Forcing them back to work would not be an extension of their freedom.”

    By all means, we can probably agree that women should be allowed to make their own minds up. Except that the tax system, and the education system, is designed to push women into the work force. It shouldn’t.

    “Someone can lay very sensible plans for settling down, but aspects of childcare and finance can fall apart very easily if a partner walks out/gets ill/loses work or the grandparents become incapacitated.”

    But that is not a valid reason for state funded child care. After all, while such cases exist, they are small. What we are talking about is forcing the men of Britain to pay taxes so that the Left can encourage their wives to leave them. Which is the typical situation in the UK. That could be dealt with in a much better way. By giving the children to the parent with a job for instance. Denying welfare intended for widows to women who divorce without a valid cause. Denying women likely to remarry welfare on any grounds at all.

    The same with providing child care in case someone loses their job. Well intentions but it creates an unacceptable moral hazzard of someone caring less if they lose their job.

    “Some folk don’t have the advantage of a good support network to start with. Okay, life isn’t fair, but it isn’t an unreasonable policy objective to ameliorate some of that unfairness.”

    Not at the expense of much greater hardship for many more people. And while I admit some women’s husbands walk out on them, shaming the husband is probably a better solution that subsidising women to divorce their husbands, blameless or not. Child care does not do what you want it to do anyway. Women are not dumb. They rarely get divorced when the child is still young.

    “That policy does have the distinct advantage of giving people more control over their lives, without people dictating to them what they “really” want to do.”

    Given that all the social outcomes are positive for women staying at home, it ought to be government policy to encourage women to stay at home. I don’t think the Basic Income will do it. In fact I think it would be better if the government mandated people had to earn a Basic Minimum. But it is an idea. A better idea than Jones’.

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