And he calls himself an economist

But, second, and much more importantly, they are not admitting this because very large numbers of jobs will be threatened by scrapping tariffs. The fact is that whilst we might have free trade with the EU we do not with many other nations on earth for very good reason. The tariffs we impose protect UK jobs. Remove the tariffs and those jobs disappear. The biggest gainer will be China, of course.

The government is, unsurprisingly reluctant to admit that this is what free trade means.

As every economist knows trade as no effect upon the number of jobs at all.

It’s entirely monetary and fiscal policy which does – the state of aggregate demand that is.

Trade affects which jobs, not the number of them.

This man teaches economics at a British university. Lucky us.

63 comments on “And he calls himself an economist

  1. I still don’t quite understand why huge numbers of people who can (correctly) spot that Donald Trump is misguided with his trade policy are seemingly incapable of realising that their tariffs are just as damaging

  2. I’m happy to accept that removing tarriffs may cause short term job losses and that for individuals they may even be long term (look at the miners). However what people seem to not even consider how many jobs are lost from having tariffs from those industries which would rather use those cheaper inputs – I think you published an analysis on steel in the US on this.

  3. I feel sorry for the orange growers in Dorset and Somerset – they will be decimated by the removal of tarriffs on citrus.

    On a related subject, let’s speak up for those valiant Spanish fishermen who are prepared to travel the distance to British waters in order to curate the fish that British fishermen are to idle to bother with.

  4. “As every economist knows trade as no effect upon the number of jobs at all.”

    Well every economist is a moron then.

    It may have no effect on jobs ‘in the long run’, in the here and now (where we all live) it has quite a big effect, if the industry you used to work in is destroyed by cheaper imports.

    This sort of ivory castle pronouncement is why people hate ‘experts’ – they make all sorts of statements that ordinary people can see are bollocks. Yet they’re the ‘clever ones’ of course………..

    Why the fuck are there towns in the UK where virtually everyone is on benefits? Because ‘free trade’ destroyed the work they used to do, and there’s nothing else left for them to do, except buy Greggs pasties and go to the betting shop. And people like you ignore them and tell them its all for their own good. Which is why if the powers that be aren’t careful there’s going to be a violent revolution in this country, because people have had enough of it.

  5. “The People” want protectionism. In my town we’ve just had a change-of-use application for a restaurant, resulting in more than 500 objections almost all along the lines of: we don’t want another chip shop, we don’t need another chip ship, a big-chain chip shop will put small locals out of business.

    “The People” *want* the state to control and direct the economy – of course, as long as it protects their little bit of the economy.

  6. @jim…. Well why don’t those people start new companies of their own? They have nothing but time available to them… Maybe they lack the ambition to go and do? maybe they have been told that they can’t do it? I don’t know but I know there are jobs people want doing and these people could learn to do them…

  7. Or they could move to somewhere with plenty of jobs. People have to be brought in from Romania to fill jobs in the SE because people in towns with virtually everyone on benefits refuse to.

  8. Jim–As jobs go because some things can be done cheaper elsewhere the idea is we move up to do other things. The problems are:

    * Socialism fucked economy–taxes/local & Nat’l & Internat’l gov thieves and tyrants/regulations/ inflation/permission to breathe Mr Gubmint Prick etc.
    * Shitty state schools/welfareism / poor mind sets caused by thinking you will be paid for by others
    * Poisonous culture that no longer honours old virtues–thrift, energy, character/enterprise. A poisonous socialistic mindset.

    Those things can be overcome but not with the shite at the top we have.

  9. Surprised at you Jim (if you’re the regular Jim).

    The ‘number’ of jobs is not the same as any given set of jobs. There are plenty of people doing fuck all in northern towns because decades of socialist welfare policies have made them able to do it. It’s not a consequence of free trade, it’s a consequence of government.

  10. Perhaps Noel Scopercan help with this: is this the same Professor Richard Murphy who once asked on his blog “Who pays Donald Trump’s tariffs?”

    The answer to that if I remember correctly was “ordinary U. S. citizens”

  11. Is this the same Professor Richard Murphy who insists we must be in the EU Custons Union because ‘trade’?

  12. All those having a pop at Jim and telling him that, in effect, those who lose out because of tariff removal should ‘get on their bikes’, should consider a few things before they sit back and congratulate themselves.

    – People, as Jim said, live in the here and now. Tomorrow is tomorrow and that applies in spades when you are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Telling them there will be other opportunities tomorrow, butters no parsnips today.

    – If you live in council housing – a majority in a lot of these one industry towns – your ability to up sticks and move to something vaguely similar is effectively zero. Fine, give it a go if you’re a single young man, but no one with a family is going to take that punt.
    – Sometimes pure free traders are as bad as pure communists: “Comrades, these sacrifices are what is necessary to build real existing communism/free markets”. That didn’t seem to work out so well for the millions who died and sacrificed their one life for the hypothetical happy future of others.

  13. Recusant–Things don’t happen overnight agreed. But they DO happen. Otherwise we would be stuck with much lower economic conditions of 200 years ago or 400 years ago or 5000 years ago. The problems you and Jim rightly put forward are bad but the alternative of shitty socialism and EU globo-elite cocksucking for ever are far,far worse.

    Movement and change will be slow. But getting back our own nation AND starting to take an interest in the future–OUR future– will take us forward. Brexit is only the beginning–we will have to put all the scum–the deep state, the left, authoritarian shite of all kinds–down. With our own hands.

    The problem is that

  14. An idea:

    30 March Gov’t announces free trade and explains Trade better than Aid, thus DfID closed and Gift Aid abolished

  15. “People, as Jim said, live in the here and now. Tomorrow is tomorrow and that applies in spades when you are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Telling them there will be other opportunities tomorrow, butters no parsnips today.”

    The poor would not be able to afford a luxury like butter for their parsnips (and would be able to afford very few parsnips) if it wasn’t for the agricultural revolution that introduced tractors and processing machinery that destroyed millions of jobs as agricultural labourers, and thereby dropped prices into the range the poor could afford. Up until 1500 more than 55% of the English worked in agriculture. Today it’s about 1%.

    The destruction of those millions of jobs by introducing cheaper alternatives is precisely what butters parsnips today. The argument here is saying it would have been better for the peasants if we never introduced machinery. They might not have butter, but they’d still have all their jobs!

  16. It can sometimes seem very cold hearted to champion free exchange, but as Mssr Ecks points out it’s at least acknowledgement of the lesser of two evils.

    People are rightfully suspicious of experts, but someone championing free exchange is not likely to be some egghead professor, but rather more likely someone who attempts a logical approach to problems while recognizing tradeoffs. Anyone who ignores tradeoffs deserves scorn, regardless of ideology.

    For example, using the logic of protectionism the problem is native consumers purchasing foreign goods. If the govt puts disincentives on imports then native production benefits, allowing local industry to survive despite the higher costs imposed by environmental and labor regulation among many other factors. So, using layman logic here, why wouldn’t you simply ban ALL imports? Then anything native consumers want would HAVE to be produced locally with exports to foreigners being a bonus. Right? If not, why not?

    Usually the compromise between free marketeers and protectionists is some kind of govt welfare for those displaced by consumer choices. But then of course you end up with

    “towns in the UK where virtually everyone is on benefits”

  17. Jim,

    You appear to accept that free trade doesn’t affect the number of jobs ‘in the long run’ (and a quick google confirms this and, if anything, shows that free trade actually reduces structural unemployment,) instead your criticism concerns the short-term affects on individuals who lose their jobs because of it.

    Fair enough. But as your evidence you cite ‘towns in the UK where virtually everyone is on benefits.’

    Not only is that false (there are no such towns), but it doesn’t support your argument. You are sort of falling back to an implication of permanent mass unemployment, when you have already agreed that’s not the case.

  18. “The destruction of those millions of jobs by introducing cheaper alternatives is precisely what butters parsnips today. The argument here is saying it would have been better for the peasants if we never introduced machinery. They might not have butter, but they’d still have all their jobs!”

    The new jobs were in the same country though. The people the steam engine put out of business could get jobs on the railways. When cars took over from the trains, there were car factories to work in. Thats not what we’re talking about here. Its taking industries and exporting them overnight to the other side of the world. There is no new technology that the former textile workers of the north west can go to, someone is still making the cloth they used to, probably on the same machines, its just they’re doing it in Bangladesh for fractions of a penny in wages instead.

    What is the point of fracturing societies like this? Can’t all you free trade zealots see that one of the reasons western societies are so polarised nowadays is that a decent sized chunk of them has been chucked on the scrap heap and abandoned? And its always the ones at the bottom, the factory workers, the machinists, the labourers, who are dumped like this. You don’t see middle class office jobs being outsourced to China. Economists aren’t facing a Vietnamese bloke prepared to produce ‘economic forecasts’ (that are about as accurate as chucking darts in a board, I could produce forecasts that were as accurate as any economists) for tuppence ha’ppenny do you? If they were I’ll bet free trade might suddenly be not so popular with economists.

    Free trade is a middle class ramp (as is unlimited immigration). They get cheap stuff, a low wage nanny from Hungary, Ryanair flights to Perugia for a few quid and a Polish plumber, while poor sods in Bolton and Stoke lose their decent jobs in factories and the only jobs that are available are shitty minimum wage ones on a zero hours contract because there’s a million immigrants prepared to work for whatever they can get.

    I don’t want ever cheaper stuff. I hate the throw away society that cheap stuff engenders. It makes people lazy, and wasteful. It would be better if stuff cost more so that people had to look after it, and be careful, because that makes for a better society all round, rather than one where everything is disposable.

    Free trade and unlimited immigration are what big business wants. The ability to make lots of cash by making stuff somewhere where the peasants will do anything for a a few pence and you can throw the toxic waste in the nearest river, and mass immigration in the West forces wages down there so big business doesn’t lose out there either.

    We’re reaching the point like where we were 100 years ago – the landed and titled elites had everything sown up, and couldn’t understand what the masses were complaining about, and suddenly you had a Socialist Revolution in Russia. And then oddly enough the big estates were broken up in the West, and the monopolist industrial companies were split up, and something was done, but it took a bloody revolution to bring some action. If something isn’t done in the West to stop these mega-corporations (in conjunction with the State, the two go hand in hand) then there’s going to be another Revolution somewhere, because things can’t go on like this much longer. Especially when there’s people shouting ‘More of the same!’ like on here. Its Marie Antoinette all over again, only this time its ‘Let them learn to code!’

  19. Incidentally the free trade zealots are making the exact same mistake that the mass immigration zealots are – namely that just because a bit of something is A Good Thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that lots of it will be better. To use some of our our hosts economic principles, the Law of Diminishing Returns applies, and there are Dis-economies of Scale to things like immigration and Free Trade.

  20. It does amuse me when a farmland owner tells us about how efficient his farm is as he shows the camera the tech in his barns. And then a minute later say that farmland owner subsidies are necessary because without them the sense of rural community is jeopardised.
    It doesn’t occur to them that the subsidies are part of the reason that there’s so few countryside jobs. Agriculture has mechanised and shed labour faster than if it had all been left to market forces.
    I’m with Tim on this. Let the farmland owners go bust and/or sell up. Release the land for pony trekking or getting grants from the woodland trust or whatever else the free market and philanthropy thinks can come in to fill the void. You can’t ship jobs in those activities off to China.
    But consider this: the farmland owner worst affected by nil subsidies and free trade is supposed to be ones producing sheep. Delingpole pulled up the numbers on this. 64% of production is eaten by the home market, 3% non-EU and the rest to the EU. So in a worst case scenario the whole industry survives if people who eat lamb have it half as often on top. And if a bit of marketing can’t persuade the public to do that, then cheerio to the least efficient. Imv, of course.

  21. @Jim

    Nostalgia, eh. It’s not what it used to be.

    If only workers could get back the mines chewing coal off the coalface with their teeth or carrying handfuls of molten steel about in the foundries in their bare hands to make bobbynobbits for wangling machines. Proper jobs they were. For men who supped beer and took whippets for walks before joining together round a barrel fire to discuss anarcho communism and sing folk songs.

    My grandfather used to bang on about the jobs lost because people stopped wearing hats. Senile idiot.

  22. Oh well, you’ll all be wondering why the masses have voted for socialism (of the proper nasty sort) again in the not too distant future (or maybe even had a violent revolution), but it’ll happen, because the likes of you lot have given them no alternative to more of the same.

    Everything goes in cycles, and if you push things too far one way (even if it is long term the right way to push) then the pendulum will swing hard back the other way.

  23. Though I think Jim brings up valid points, what’s laughable about this whole debate is the notion that we are currently enjoying a free market. The US and especially the UK have collectivist and protectionist policies affecting the whole of society. Hard to pin the blame on an ideology when you have to parse the policy effects from decades of influence from various actors with wide ranging agendas.

  24. ‘towns in the UK where virtually everyone is on benefits.’

    Plenty of ghost towns in the US and Canada, people can and do move on over time

  25. “Though I think Jim brings up valid points, what’s laughable about this whole debate is the notion that we are currently enjoying a free market.”

    Which is half the problem. We give the corporations free rein, but control everything else to the nth degree. Its fine for Global Megacorp Inc to close its factories in the West down and shift production to whatever shithole is the cheapest this month, but the bloke trying to run his own little business in Nowheresville is subject to a million and one State employees trying to close him down with ever increasing regulations.

    There’s an unholy alliance of large corporate entities and Big State politicians at the moment, and just because free trade is (currently) advantageous to both does not mean the rest of their activities are not incredibly destructive to societies. And anyone promoting free trade is effectively promoting this alliance of corporate interests and Big State government as well, and the baneful effect they are having on society. And when the pendulum swings, as it will, free trade will be chucked out with them.

  26. Jim,

    The necessary corollary of the fact that opening up to free trade causes short-term job losses is that the reverse – shifting from an open economy to a protected one – would *also* cause short-term jobs losses.

    In the longer term, both conditions can achieve full employment (though the standard of living would be significantly higher in the free-trade scenario), but to be logically and morally consistent you must care just as much about the victims of the latter as the former. In which case all you’re really defending is the status quo.

    So, out of interest, if Britain were already a broadly low/no-tariff economy, would you here be arguing against any proposals to introduce significant import tariffs? If not, why don’t you care about all those people who will lose their jobs when tariffs are introduced?

    – “I don’t want ever cheaper stuff.

    You are fortunate to be wealthy enough to make such a statement, which really amounts to ‘let them eat cake.’ As a Capitalist, I care more about the less fortunate. More precisely, because I care about the less fortunate I am a Capitalist.

    – “It would be better if stuff cost more so that people had to look after it, and be careful, because that makes for a better society all round, rather than one where everything is disposable.

    Said the Guardian reader.

    – “We’re reaching the point like where we were 100 years ago – the landed and titled elites had everything sown up

    You’re quite wrong.

    There’s that famous Schumpeter quotation about capitalism:’The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.’

    You imagine yourself defending the workers but in fact you’re throwing them under the bus and arguing instead for the middle-class, the rich and the politically influential.

  27. Jim,

    Also, it’s only you conflating free-trade with mass immigration.

    They are not the same thing at all.

  28. “The new jobs were in the same country though.”

    I didn’t say anything about new jobs. Automation doesn’t just move jobs abroad, it destroys them entirely.

    The point of the argument is that society (and especially the poor part of society) doesn’t get rich through wages going up, it gets rich through prices going down. And this is the fundamental misconception that all protectionists make. They think wealth is about jobs and wages, and all their thinking is centred around promoting and protecting those. But wealth is really about goods and services produced – the stuff you’re earning the money to buy. It’s about the butter. The more goods and services produced per capita, the richer society is. The poor get richer through food and other essentials getting cheaper, because we can produce more stuff for less effort, and “less effort” is the same thing as destroying jobs.

    “The people the steam engine put out of business could get jobs on the railways. When cars took over from the trains, there were car factories to work in.”

    There are always more jobs than there are people to do them. As wealth and capability rises, our expectations rise with them. Any job that pays more than minimum wage is a certain sign that there is more demand for that job than there are people capable of doing it. The problem is not, and never has been, a shortage of jobs. The problem is a shortage of people capable of doing them.

    If you move the basic jobs abroad, that gives you more people in the rich and well-educated country to do the difficult jobs – the ones that need more skills and education, and tools and infrastructure to do. That brings the price of what they produce down, making everone richer.

    Society progresses as new technology is developed. You can’t keep up with it by standing still. You’ve got to keep moving. Learning, Changing. Just as those foreigners did, when they figured out how to do *your* job for cheaper.

    Twenty years ago they wouldn’t have known how. They had to learn, and change. So can you.

    “Can’t all you free trade zealots see that one of the reasons western societies are so polarised nowadays is that a decent sized chunk of them has been chucked on the scrap heap and abandoned?”

    Agreed. We need to do a much better job of reallocating those resources to more productive use. Anyone who can figure out a way to retrain the unskilled to make them skilled can make a fortune. Anyone who can progress from unskilled to skilled can improve their lot. The entire purpose of paying more is to motivate people to do that. We need to figure out what the blockers are, and get rid of them.

    “And its always the ones at the bottom, the factory workers, the machinists, the labourers, who are dumped like this. You don’t see middle class office jobs being outsourced to China.”

    All jobs are affected, top to bottom. Everyone climbs the ladder one step. Everyone is displaced by those immediately below them. Society is moving. You have to move too to keep up.

    “I don’t want ever cheaper stuff. I hate the throw away society that cheap stuff engenders. It makes people lazy, and wasteful. It would be better if stuff cost more so that people had to look after it, and be careful, because that makes for a better society all round, rather than one where everything is disposable.”

    Bastiat lampooned this as the ‘Theory of Scarcity’.

    Which is preferable for man and for society, abundance or scarcity?

    “What!” people may exclaim. “How can there be any question about it? Has anyone ever suggested, or is it possible to maintain, that scarcity is the basis of man’s well-being?”

    Yes, this has been suggested; yes, this has been maintained and is maintained every day, and I do not hesitate to say that the theory of scarcity is by far the most popular of all theories. It is the burden of conversations, newspaper articles, books, and political speeches; and, strange as it may seem, it is certain that political economy will not have a completed its task and performed its practical function until it has popularized and established as indisputable this very simple proposition: “Wealth consists in an abundance of commodities.”

    However, if you want a society where people can barely afford stuff so they have to look after what they’ve got, then why complain when jobs are lost and wages drop? Isn’t that what you say happens when people lose their jobs?

    “We’re reaching the point like where we were 100 years ago – the landed and titled elites had everything sown up, and couldn’t understand what the masses were complaining about, and suddenly you had a Socialist Revolution in Russia.”

    Yes. Socialism is protectionist thinking. It’s protectionism applied to the labour market.

    “Incidentally the free trade zealots are making the exact same mistake that the mass immigration zealots are – namely that just because a bit of something is A Good Thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that lots of it will be better.”

    If a little wealth is A Good Thing, then what is a lot of wealth?

    “Oh well, you’ll all be wondering why the masses have voted for socialism (of the proper nasty sort) again in the not too distant future (or maybe even had a violent revolution), but it’ll happen, because the likes of you lot have given them no alternative to more of the same.”

    Yes. And they’ll find out once again exactly how wrong their protectionist thinking is, when the economy collapse again and everyone starves.

    Protecting jobs doesn’t work. You lose more as a result of every other industry protecting their jobs at your expense than you can ever gain from protecting your job at their expense. Prices skyrocket, wages spiral in pursuit, but because less is being produced for more effort, they lag ever further behind. Eventually, everyone earns trillions and starves. Jobs and wages have certainly prospered, but there’s no butter. The parsnips are bare.

    “but the bloke trying to run his own little business in Nowheresville is subject to a million and one State employees trying to close him down with ever increasing regulations.”

    I’m totally with you on that!

    Big businesses introduce regulation to protect their jobs and their trade from smaller competitors. It’s the exact same thing that every protectionist does – guilds protecting their trade, nationalists protecting their countrymen, socialists protecting their union members. You’re just seeing yourselves from the outside.

  29. wat: it’s fairly standard knowledge that a non-contributory welfare system is incompatible with mass immigration, a voice at the back of my mind is saying that free trade and mass immigration might also be incompatible. I don’t have anything other than a hunch, but it might be worth investigating.

    (Where do I get the grant? 🙂

  30. I absolutely hate to agree with NiV–and I mean hate–but he is right this time and you are wrong Jim.

    People can vote for socialism if they like but that will just make everything much worse. It is statism/socialism and its poisonous effects that are preventing self-righting mechanisms of the market boosting up the poor. You have the cart before the horse. It is the masses love of kissing the state’s arse and wanting things done for them that is causing the problems.

    No mortgages affordable/available for 1st time buyers? Look at massive state borrowing and zero interest rates to facilitate that state borrowing. Look at local council corruption and Tim’s favourite Planning Permission. The list is endless. The things you think will help are the very substance of the problem and more of them makes matters worse. And socialist bullshit has been helped by infiltrating govt institutions everywhere. Something the left would not have been able to do without those institutions being there and widely approved of in the first place.

  31. NiV is bang on. S/he may talk a lot of bollocks in other areas but the economics is sound.

  32. You’ve read enough of my stuff to have seen my explain this:

    “The new jobs were in the same country though. The people the steam engine put out of business could get jobs on the railways. When cars took over from the trains, there were car factories to work in. Thats not what we’re talking about here. Its taking industries and exporting them overnight to the other side of the world. There is no new technology that the former textile workers of the north west can go to,”

    That’s not what happens. The newly unemployed go and do “something else”. It isn’t this new technology that now employs them. If it were the new technology wouldn’t be making us richer.

    Say, we’ve 1 million growing food. We mechanise agriculture. The 1 million work in making machines for agriculture. We’re no richer – we’ve still 1 million people producing food.

    If 100,000 make tractors and 900,000 staff the NHS then we are richer. Because we’ve now got the NHS, we’re richer.

    The machines in the fields give us the labour to be able to sate some other human desire. It’s that which makes us richer.

    What’s the next one going to be? Dunno. No one will until we see what people do with that labour.

  33. Oh, and as to the past. The living standards of the average bloke only started to rise in the 1840s. After the Engels Pause. Right around the time we started to have free trade in 1986…..

  34. Fascinating. This debate needs to be held more widely and as explicitly rather than the carefully worded coded crap we have now.

    Also… is that really NiV?

  35. NiV is sound enough on economic matters. His brain has been warped by SJW bullshit elsewhere tho’.

    Even one supremely convinced of his own rightness is occasionally right.

  36. “it’s fairly standard knowledge that a non-contributory welfare system is incompatible with mass immigration, a voice at the back of my mind is saying that free trade and mass immigration might also be incompatible. I don’t have anything other than a hunch, but it might be worth investigating.”

    ‘Mass immigration’ is free trade applied to the market in labour. Just as mass immigration is incompatible with welfare, so free trade is incompatible with subsidies. If we paid out government money to keep unprofitable businesses going, and we allowed companies anywhere to trade here and thus collect subsidies, then we’d get the same effect.

    Welfare is a protectionist barrier, like tariffs and subsidies in the trade for goods and services. It’s just another subsidy. And like I said, socialism is protectionism applied to the labour market.

    “Also… is that really NiV?”

    Of course! Why do you think I always laugh when someone accuses me of being a lefty or SJW?

    If you consider this Nolan Chart, SJWs are in the top-left quadrant, most of you lot seem to be in the top-right quadrant, and I’m in the bottom-right quadrant. We differ along one axis, but are on the same side with the same sort of views on the other.

  37. “People can vote for socialism if they like but that will just make everything much worse. It is statism/socialism and its poisonous effects that are preventing self-righting mechanisms of the market boosting up the poor. You have the cart before the horse. It is the masses love of kissing the state’s arse and wanting things done for them that is causing the problems.”

    Of course thats right. But the free trade zealots are driving people to vote for that, because they won’t accept that their ideas are causing great harm in the here and now, and just keep telling people ‘Its for your own good! The fact you no longer have a job is a good thing, and everyone is wealthier as a result!’ is not going to defend free trade as a concept, it will destroy it.

    What the free trade zealots can’t seem to see is that the gains from more free trade are increasingly small, and the losses increasingly big. Thus the amount it benefits society at large is tiny, but more and more people are having their lives ruined. The overall net effect might be very slightly positive, but no one lives their life in the aggregate, they live their own particular existence. So if they happen to fall in the negative side of the free trade equation, they lose everything. While those who fall on the positive side gain a fraction of a pence each. One does not notice their gain, the other is traumatised.

    And if you free trade zealots can’t see that I hope someone invents a way of importing your output for pence and see how you like it.

  38. My wages on here are already zero Jim. And worth every penny.

    It isn’t “free market zealots” behind all the problems. Are FMZ setting interest rates at nigh zero? Are FMZ behind minimum wages/ bullshit regulations/ shite schools and “services”/banking antics etc?

    I was a full on Libertarian but now realise migrant importation must halt. Because vast amounts of imported negatives ruins rather than helps. So some things need to be done–no more cheap labour to undercut in-UK wages. And a business instead of bureaucrat friendly environment.

    The main cause of all the flying socialist shit about are schools/Uni and media which are rotten with redscum agit-prop. The FFC and BluLab seem A-OK with that. But it needs stopping.

    There are measure that could be taken in the short (but not long) term to ease matters. Perhaps you can suggest some?

  39. Zealots of every type always eventually destroy the thing they love, because they can’t see or accept any of its flaws and do anything to ameliorate the negative of it, even if the overall effect is good. Look at the EU (tho I’m not saying the overall effect of the EU is good!) – if the pro-EU zealots had been prepared to give just a bit on their ever closer march to a USE and give the UK a bit of leeway on its worries about EU membership, then they wouldn’t be facing losing one of its largest members, and potentially the first domino to fall in its demise. They’d probably have gotten what they wanted eventually, just a bit slower, if they’d compromised a bit. But no, they had to have ideological purity now, and look where its got them.

    The free trade crowd will get the same result – they’d happily throw 100k people out of work in the UK so that everyone else can have 1 penny off the price of a sandwich (or whatever). They ignore the human cost and look entirely at the financial, and won’t accept any compromise. Which is why they’ll lose everything eventually in a shitstorm of protectionism and nationalistic socialism.

  40. “What the free trade zealots can’t seem to see is that the gains from more free trade are increasingly small, and the losses increasingly big.”

    That’s wrong. The gains from free trade are huge and increasing, the losses small and decreasing. The problem is that the gains are via indirect and less obvious mechanisms, while the losses are direct and obvious. Bastiat talked about it in the essay “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen”. People don’t see the indirect consequences. They leave them out of their model of the world.

    If you look only at the direct consequences, socialism seems to make sense. These people over here are rich, and have far more than they need to survive. Those people over there are poor, and are struggling. We feel sympathy for the poor, and want to fix the problem. So we take wealth from the rich and give it to the poor. That obviously solves the problem, right?

    Except that it doesn’t, because of all the indirect consequences this picture leaves out. The rich got rich by producing lots of stuff that lots of other people want/need. Get rid of the rich, and you get rid of the production. Everyone gets poorer. You destroy the motivation to work. You destroy the motivation to make things better, to help others by producing stuff they need, to learn the skills to produce. You destroy the source of funds for investment in innovation and development. It’s like setting fire to your own house to keep warm. It’s killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    Likewise with protectionism. We both buy things from other people for a price, and sell things to other people for a price. The latter is called ‘jobs’ and ‘wages’. We fail to see that the two are the same thing, seen from different perspectives. We want more stuff, so we all demand higher wages to buy it. But that the same thing as saying we propose to raise the prices of everything through the roof in order to make everyone richer! That’s crazy! But we don’t see that *our* wages are *everybody else’s* prices. There’s a disconnect between the two in our understanding. We’re pushing ever harder on a lever that leads behind the wall, around behind us, and operates the boot kicking us up the arse. And the harder we push, the harder we get kicked. But because we can’t *see* the hidden mechanism, we don’t stop doing it.

    ‘Free market zealots’ are basically shouting at you to stop setting fire to bits of your own house, even if you do feel cold. The problem is not that they’re uncaring, or unaware, or putting their grand idealism ahead of people. It’s that they find it really, really difficult to explain to people why the indirect, unseen consequences mean that the direct approaches people consider ‘obvious’ will fail. We find it really difficult to explain so people understand why protectionism makes them poorer.

    For which we can only apologise.

  41. @Jim – my job can be done elsewhere for a lot less… I used to be a website developer but that became automated or outsourced to india so i moved onto mobile apps which people paid good money for… that then got easier / outsourced so i again learnt new languages and technologies and moved into another part of programming… That’s how it works, keep learning to keep earning…

    There are Zero barriers to entry in software development and it’s producing lots of improvements to peoples lives, one day my job will be long gone but that’s a good thing – when i was at school there was no such job as “website developer” when i change roles next time who knows what i’ll become…

    Do i dislike free trade? no, do i want barriers to entry to software development? no… long may new jobs become available….

  42. Jim’s 100% right about one thing. When it comes to:

    (A) Free Market Zealots (band tryouts next Tuesday) offering solutions based on historical review, evidence, and logic that attempts to account for ALL effects seen and unseen

    vs

    (B) Impassioned pleas to do…well, things that aren’t specifically articulated to address bombastic claims of ever-increasing suffering that are peculiarly not supported by evidence but sound really, really bad. And, not caring for the FMZ’s solutions simply threatening said zealots with even more state intervention.

    Many people will choose option “(B)”. As NiV said, this is a failure of us zealots to argue persuasively, as interventionists have succeeded in tipping the scales then blaming the result on OUR ideology.

  43. “this is a failure of us zealots to argue persuasively, as interventionists have succeeded in tipping the scales then blaming the result on OUR ideology.”

    No, you’ve allowed your ideology to be expropriated by a group of people for their own interests, and implemented by them as well, in a way that is pretty much designed to make it unpopular in the long term.

    The group thats expropriated it are the Big Corporations and a certain brand of globalist politician (the sort that turn up in Davos) – free trade in the way they’ve implemented it works very well for them, but not so well for the people in the wider society. Its a bit like allowing Brexit to be implemented by a bunch of Remainers – who’s surprised its a clusterfuck?

    So every time you call for ‘more free trade’ all people hear is ‘More Tony Blair raking in millions for being a psychopathic cunt and more faceless mega corporations doing exactly what they want all the time’.

    Not exactly very popular.

  44. @Jim (the farmer) March 7, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    The new jobs were in the same country though.

    Corn Laws abolition – ring a bell?

    btw have you stopped/started something? Lent?

  45. @NiV March 8, 2019 at 2:24 am

    +1 well said

    Re: Nolan – I’m on intersection of Cap/Con/Prog and

    as a biker freedom is my priority
    or is it
    freedom is my priority and I’m a biker?

  46. ” have you stopped/started something? Lent?”

    No, I’ve just had a realisation that zealots exist on all sides of an argument, and that even if you are fundamentally right does not mean you will prevail if you insist on ideological purity over acknowledging human frailty. And that you will not convince people of anything if you refuse to listen to their concerns, and will ultimately lose, because they will find someone else who will listen, who may be charlatans, but because they are prepared to listen when you are not will get more traction for their ideas than yours.

    And thats where the free trade crowd are going – refusal to accept the downsides, refusal to listen to the people whose lives are destroyed by free trade, and refusal to do anything about it other than say ‘Get on your bike you lazy arseholes’.

  47. “even if you are fundamentally right does not mean you will prevail if you insist on ideological purity over acknowledging human frailty.”

    Who said we don’t acknowledge it? I’ve said repeatedly that people are vulnerable to protectionist thinking.

    “And that you will not convince people of anything if you refuse to listen to their concerns”

    We understand their concerns. We share them. The problem is not with the goal, but with their proposed solutions, which will not work. We offer solutions that will work.

    But if you refuse to listen to anything we say unless we also agree with your suicidal policy proposals, what are we supposed to do? How do you help a socialist who doesn’t listen to anyone but another socialist? How do you say “Socialism won’t work” in a way they can find acceptable?

    “And thats where the free trade crowd are going – refusal to accept the downsides, refusal to listen to the people whose lives are destroyed by free trade, and refusal to do anything about it other than say ‘Get on your bike you lazy arseholes’.”

    We recognise there is a problem, and we sympathise, but it’s not the result of free trade. Until you see the problem for what it is, you’ll never solve it.

    The problem is that we have a shortage of people with the skills and experience to do the jobs we need doing, and we have millions of people without any useful skills and who seem for whatever reason totally unable to acquire them. We’ve got people who can’t learn to do a new job. Why? Until you understand what’s stopping them, you’ve got no chance of solving the problem.

    If you had a classroom full of kids, and observed that a handful passed their exams but most of them failed, you’ve certainly got a problem. It might be the teacher’s fault. Or the curriculum. Or the textbook. Or the parents. Or the kids. We don’t deny the problem exists. We want to solve it. We’ll pay big money to solve it! But it’s not solved by getting rid of the exams, or making them easier, or redistributing points from the clever kids to the thick ones! That doesn’t solve the problem, it only hides it. The aim of school isn’t to pass exams, it’s to learn the skills we need to prosper. Anything that does not do something improve those skills is not a solution!

    And that’s not necessarily to say they’re lazy. I know some of the unskilled, and they’re anything but! But if you see a failing student in your class, and your response is to let them off all the tests, tell them they’re doing fine, give them a passing grade even when they evidently have none of the skills for it, you’re not helping! You’re destroying them. Making them dependent on charity.

    Something’s wrong. You need to find it and fix it. Giving them a pass is to abandon them. And that, sadly, is what peddlers of protectionist solutions have done for all too long.

    Free markets are the best way we have to help the poor, despite the existence of the problem. And free markets motivate us most strongly to find solutions. But free markets are not the problem. Getting rid of them isn’t a solution.

    And until people understand that, we’re going to continue to have disasters like socialism.

  48. “We recognise there is a problem, and we sympathise, but it’s not the result of free trade. Until you see the problem for what it is, you’ll never solve it.”

    And there it is, exactly the attitude I described……….look its not rocket science. Not everyone can be computer coders. Or HR managers, or whatever office job is considered ‘clever’ these days [which incidentally is a very typical middle class attitude to skills and cleverness – take the average graduate working in a dead end office job and ask them to build a brick wall that doesn’t fall down, or lay drainage pipe with minimum fall, or operate a lathe and you’ll have nothing of value at all, yet they are the clever one, and the blokes (and it is blokes) who can do the latter are the dim stupid ones]. Society needs well paid jobs that are not just staring at a computer screen, and shuffling bits of paper around and writing endless (and pointless) reports about things that actually add no value to society at all (but are very ‘clever’ of course). And free trade deprives a society of those jobs. It leaves the people who used to do them without any way of making a decent living that can support partners and families. They’re left with either benefits (with all the corrosive effect they have on a community,) or a series of shitty minimum wage jobs with zero long term prospects.

    Allied to the other middle class invention, credentialism, there are a significant swathe of the population that are excluded from the world of a decent job, either because they don’t have the brain power for it, or they are excluded from it by not having the right bits of paper, and no aptitude/taste for learning. All you free trade people say is ‘Learn something else!’ because learning is easy for you, thats the sort of people you are. But if you aren’t its not going to happen.

    And thats what you can’t see – your solution is about as much use as telling the man who needs water in the middle of a desert to drill a borehole, there’s water 100 feet down……..so many people who espouse these ideas are of above average intelligence, but don’t realise it, and think everyone else is the same and can emulate them. They aren’t and can’t.

    Free trade zealots need to come up with a solution to the problem that not all people are equal, brain power-wise, and for a society to function smoothly everyone needs to have a chance of making a positive and satisfactorily well remunerated contribution to society via their job. You can’t send all the ‘strong in the arm thick in the head jobs’ overseas and expect the displaced workers to become more office drones. They need a real job that society wants done, that they can do, and that pays at least the average wage. Not some sort of social welfare makework job, an actual job that everyone else is glad they are doing and adds to the overall wealth of the nation. If they can’t do that (and saying ‘Learn new stuff!’ is not good enough) then free trade is doomed, because eventually there will be enough disenfranchised masses to bring the whole thing down, probably via socialism.

  49. “Jim would prefer if we still drove cars made by British Leyland and subsidised by the taxpayer…”

    No I fucking wouldn’t. But if you want free trade to survive you’ve got to design a society around it in a way that everyone can be involved, not just the ‘clever’ people. If you’re system doesn’t do that then it won’t survive, and doesn’t deserve to IMO.

  50. “[which incidentally is a very typical middle class attitude to skills and cleverness – take the average graduate working in a dead end office job and ask them to build a brick wall that doesn’t fall down, or lay drainage pipe with minimum fall, or operate a lathe and you’ll have nothing of value at all, yet they are the clever one, and the blokes (and it is blokes) who can do the latter are the dim stupid ones]”

    Mmm. You seem to be contradicting yourself. It was you who introduced the idea of blokes not being clever enough to do skilled jobs. But clearly they are ‘clever’ and capable of learning skills like building a brick wall. So why can’t they learn an office job?

    “Society needs well paid jobs that are not just staring at a computer screen”

    No. Society doesn’t need certain types of jobs. It needs certain types of products and services. The jobs are designed to fit the needs, not vice versa.

    Anyone can design a job requiring no skills and lots of manual labour. The classic example is that you employ half the people to dig holes, and the other half to fill them in again. Jobs are easy to generate. But they need to provide something that people actually *need* if you’re going to be able to sell it and fund their wages.

    You *start* with what people need, and are willing to buy. You design the jobs around that. You don’t start with the job, producing whatever you are able to produce, and then demand people buy the result. That doesn’t create wealth.

    “And free trade deprives a society of those jobs. It leaves the people who used to do them without any way of making a decent living that can support partners and families.”

    The phrase “making a decent living” implies making stuff that other people actually want. So to do so, you have to learn how to make something people actually want. Why is this something they don’t have any way to do?

    “They’re left with either benefits (with all the corrosive effect they have on a community,) or a series of shitty minimum wage jobs with zero long term prospects.”

    I agree totally about the effects of benefits on a community.

    Minimum wage is the market’s way of saying: “We’ve got too many people doing this, we don’t need any more. Do something else.”

    “Allied to the other middle class invention, credentialism, there are a significant swathe of the population that are excluded from the world of a decent job, either because they don’t have the brain power for it, or they are excluded from it by not having the right bits of paper, and no aptitude/taste for learning.”

    There are certainly some people with learning disabilities – the autistic and brain-damaged, for example – who can truly be said to not have the brain power for it. But most people have plenty of brain power. As you pointed out above, the ability to build a wall that doesn’t fall down indicates plenty of ability to learn.

    I think very often kids are taught badly, get lost, lose confidence and hope, and come to believe they’re stupid and incapable. I think it’s very often not true.

    There’s a story I read in the intro to one of the “speed maths” books I got as a kid. It was about the Trachtenberg method, which was invented by a Russian mathematician trapped in the Nazi death camps during the war. After the war, he set up a school in Switzerland to teach it, and initially they exclusively recruited kids who had repeatedly failed at maths, some who had been classified as ‘retarded’, until their parents in desperation sent them to learn his method. After a few months of teaching, they were able to do things like multiply 5132437201 by 452736502785 in 70 seconds! They’d gone from ‘retarded’ to what many would consider ‘maths genius’.

    The implication of course is that any of us could learn to do that, if we were taught right. And it’s known that the attitude of parents has a huge influence on how well kids do at school. ‘Cleverness’ is not innate. It’s the result of culture and upbringing. And that, too, can be learnt. So I think that at least to a large degree it’s a solvable problem. We just have to figure out what it is about a person’s upbringing that determines whether they develop the “aptitude/taste” for learning.

    As for bits of paper, it depends on whether you are given the opportunity to get those bits of paper. If protectionists raise barriers to keep out the competition by demanding expensive accreditation to work in the industry, and limiting the supply, that’s bad. Free marketeers are all in favour of stopping that.

    But “aptitude/taste”?! Taste?!!! Oh, la-di-da, I don’t have a ‘taste’ for learning, so I’m not going to, and you can’t make me. So you have to support me and give me the benefits of *your* learning, and get nothing worthwhile back, because I’m ‘special’, I’m meee, and I neeeed it.

    Learning is hard work, and hard work is often unpleasant. That’s why other people’s skills cost money – to motivate them to learn the skills needed to be able to help you. I don’t have the skill to build a wall that stands up. You do. But I can’t whine that I need a wall and “don’t have the aptitude/taste” for learning how, so you’ll have to help me for free. If I want you’re help, I’m going to have to give you some of the products of *my* learning to induce you to do it.

    You have to learn a skill other people need and don’t have in order to earn your pay.

    “And thats what you can’t see – your solution is about as much use as telling the man who needs water in the middle of a desert to drill a borehole, there’s water 100 feet down…”

    Excellent example. You’re in a desert, but if you know how to drill a borehole you can get it. You don’t know how to drill a borehole? The universe doesn’t care. You die. And the same is true for everyone. We all live in the same universe. If we don’t have the skills we need to survive, we die.

    Now it so happens that we can collectively achieve a lot more if we trade skills. You know how to catch dune lizards. I know how to drill a borehole. We can trade lizards for water. But if the tribe discovers a new oasis and no longer needs a borehole-driller, I don’t get to say “You’ve got to use my boreholes anyway.” We don’t *need* boreholes. We’re not going to employ you to go round uselessly digging holes and then filling them in again. We need more dune lizard hunters, or tent-makers or whatever. Go learn how to do something new, and then everyone will be richer.

    We need to generate more wealth for less effort to get rid of poverty. ‘More wealth’ means we get richer. ‘Less effort’ means jobs disappearing. Society needs to change the way it does things if life is to get better, and that means we all need to learn.

    “They need a real job that society wants done, that they can do, and that pays at least the average wage. Not some sort of social welfare makework job, an actual job that everyone else is glad they are doing and adds to the overall wealth of the nation.”

    Apart from the “pays at least the average wage” bit (which is mathematically implausible), I agree.

    But it’s impossible if you also posit that these people don’t have the ability to do such a job, and don’t have the ability to learn how.

  51. No I fucking wouldn’t. But if you want free trade to survive you’ve got to design a society around it in a way that everyone can be involved, not just the ‘clever’ people. If you’re system doesn’t do that then it won’t survive, and doesn’t deserve to IMO.

    Yes you do, you want society to provide well paid jobs for the workers instead of importing better/cheaper products from abroad. That is exactly what BL was about, pouring cash into a business that should have died to prevent people losing their jobs.

  52. Lol. Its like the Communists – it’ll work if only we can change the people!!!!

    Is that the best the collective brains of Free Trade can come up with?

  53. “Lol. Its like the Communists – it’ll work if only we can change the people!!!!”

    It’s your choice. You don’t have to change. You don’t *have* to get work. But then these are the consequences.

    If you see someone hurting themselves because they’re unaware of the less obvious consequences of what they’re doing, the best you can do is to tell them, and to advise them to stop. If they absolutely refuse to change what they’re doing, they’ll continue to get hurt.

    We might bear some responsibility if we fail in our duty to warn you. But if we’ve warned you and you carry on, well that’s not *our* fault. You have the freedom to choose your own course of action, your own fate.

    But don’t bother blaming *us* for it if you do. What we do helps alleviate poverty. What you do perpetuates it. It’s your choice.

  54. @Jim March 9, 2019 at 11:36 am

    They need a real job that society wants done, that they can do

    I agree.

    Unfortunately the Labour Party don’t and their attitude towards “demeaning” and/or “exploitive” jobs such as hair dresser, hospitality, gardener, military etc results in teens rejecting them.

    The Left want to keep the poor and the uneducated as they are.

  55. “Unfortunately the Labour Party don’t and their attitude towards “demeaning” and/or “exploitive” jobs such as hair dresser, hospitality, gardener, military etc results in teens rejecting them.”

    Personally I’d say that while your point is correct, that there is a sneering at such jobs, the biggest problem with them is that mass immigration has meant that low grade ‘service’ type jobs have maintained a very low level of wages (minimum wage everywhere). In the absence of millions of immigrants wages for those type of jobs would have risen significantly, which would have gone a long way to increase their status. If being a carer in a nursing home paid £12/hr instead of £8 then a lot more people would be happy to do the work.

  56. “In the absence of millions of immigrants wages for those type of jobs would have risen significantly, which would have gone a long way to increase their status.”

    Yup. And it would have increased the price of everything produced and sold by those same people by the same amount. There would be fewer people doing those jobs (as prices rise, demand drops) and less of the stuff they produce. There would be less stuff produced and fewer services to go around.

    Everyone would be poorer, as prices rise faster than wages. But at least they’d have their higher wages and status. And that’s more important, right?

    It’s the same thing as the union closed shop that was tried back in the 1970s. Wages are low. So you form a union, and then insist that the employers can only employ union members. With a monopoly on the supply of labour, you can raise prices. The employer has to pay what the union demands, so pay and status rise all round, right?

    Except that every other industry was doing the same, and the higher wages translated to higher prices in the shops, with less and less stuff produced to go round, and the inflation rate hit 25%. It’s entirely predictable and obvious if you’re aware that wages are the same thing as prices, but was a total surprise to those who aren’t. (Given the way they keep on harking back to the good old days, I think many of the union supporters never did figure out what went wrong or who caused it.) The workers were so pleased with the way things were going that they voted Maggie Thatcher in.

    Replace ‘union’ with ‘nation’, and the socialist ‘closed shop’ becomes nationalism. Immigrants are ‘scabs’ crossing the union picket line. Protectionists never learn.

  57. “And it would have increased the price of everything produced and sold by those same people by the same amount. There would be fewer people doing those jobs (as prices rise, demand drops) and less of the stuff they produce. There would be less stuff produced and fewer services to go around.”

    Thats exactly the point. It would rebalance the economy. Yes, it would be more expensive to go and stay in a ‘nice boutique hotel in the New Forest’ for the middle classes who are doing very nicely thank you. But the workers in the hotel would be better paid.

    As we have it the middle classes are getting on lovely, a lot of them due to the way they’ve captured the political process to ensure they have nice well paid middle class jobs via increased regulations and closed shops (I notice you’re not complaining about the middle class professional closed shops, just the working class factory ones). They are also not so affected by mass immigration, as their jobs can’t be offshored in the same way a factory can.

    Whereas the working classes jobs can be sent abroad, and the ones that have to stay in the UK (in services) suffer depressed wages from mass immigration. If there were no mass immigration, the middle class wages would stay static, and the working class ones rise, and thus rebalance the economy.

    But of course you don’t want that as you’d not be able to afford so many chai lattes, and cheap Ryanair flights abroad. But someone living in Doncaster might have a decent paid full time job instead of being on a zero hours contract and benefits. How terrible eh?

  58. How old are you Jim…?

    I ask because I was born in 1960. Mum had several ‘zero hours’ contracts as a cleaner so she could fit in with school times and be there when we came home. Dad had to work overtime on Saturday – it was compulsory.

    We had no central heating, ice on the inside of the windows in winter and we couldn’t afford steak until I was about 12 – I remember telling everybody at school about it! Fruit and veg were seasonal, eating out impossible.

    We lived next door to Heathrow Airport but air travel was an impossible dream – we had two weeks in Hayling Island in a caravan every year.

    Anybody that thinks the workers have it tough now – even those on minimum wage – have no idea what they are talking about quite frankly…

  59. Hmm. You think only the middle classes buy stuff produced by minimum wage workers? I’m no longer sure if this is pure wind-up or not.

    “(I notice you’re not complaining about the middle class professional closed shops, just the working class factory ones)”

    Wrong. I was complaining about all of them.

    “But of course you don’t want that as you’d not be able to afford so many chai lattes, and cheap Ryanair flights abroad. But someone living in Doncaster might have a decent paid full time job instead of being on a zero hours contract and benefits. How terrible eh?”

    I never buy lattes. I never fly abroad – Ryanair or otherwise. And I am, in fact, currently working on a zero-hours contract, after having been made redundant this year.

    You sure do assume a lot, don’t you?

    BiC,

    I remember most of that, too!

    More particularly, I remember the 1970s. I think it’s hard for anyone born after that to really understand the damage that socialism can do.

  60. @Bloke in Cyprus March 10, 2019 at 11:40 am

    +1 similar year, similar life. Parents’ first car was when I was 7; we had a phone as dad’s brother worked for GPO (Phones)

    @NiV

    +1

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