Polly Today

Apparently it\’s inequality that has caused this crisis. To modify that comment about Uncle Milt and the money supply, everything reminds Polly of inequality, doesn\’t it?

….so the government needs to turn to other advisers to clean up the City and end performance-related pay. Who needs extra just to do their job?

Hhhmmm. I wonder. Does that include her boss, Alan Rusbridger? Further, does it include the workers at John Lewis, who get an annual 20% or so wedge as their share of the profit?

19 thoughts on “Polly Today”

  1. I haven’t read her article, but I think deep down that probably is the cause of the crisis. People whose incomes haven’t risen very much wish (for whatever reason you want to say) wish to have a higher standard of living than their incomes allow, and the only way to do that is through borrowing.

  2. ‘Inequality’ now means ‘My working neighbour has a 42in flat screen telly with inbuilt DVD recorder and I should have one too, so I don’t miss ‘Tricia’ while I’m out signing on’…?

  3. I agree with @Matthew. Polly isn’t entirely wrong here as regards the causes of the crisis.

    It doesn’t make her any less of a hypocrite, of course, but being a hypocrite and being wrong are not always coincidental.

  4. Lovely. See how the narrative is emerging: the feckless masses are blaming the banks for lending them money.

    “Wah, wah, they MADE me buy a 42″ plasma TV I couldn’t afford! Greedy swine deliberately lent me money I couldn’t pay back”

  5. Julia inequality means when someone’s income is very unequal to someone else’s. I think in your haste to pour scorn on the idea you misread it for ‘poverty’.

  6. No Kaytie, the 42inch Plasma TV and the poor story has been introduced on Tim Worstall’s blog by JuliaM about 15 minutes ago. I think it might be premature to declare this an ’emerging narrative’.

  7. Inequality is not the problem. Jealousy is. I don’t earn anywhere near what some of these people do and I couldn’t care less. So long as they haven’t taken is from someone elses pocket, then any complaining about it is jealousy. It can be an understandable emotion, but its hardly something to make a principle.

  8. “Julia inequality means when someone’s income is very unequal to someone else’s.”

    And the fact that there may be very sound reasons for that difference…?

  9. ChrisM:

    You’re dead wrong about that: envy is, specifically, the clear cut dividing-line between the Right (who don’t recognize envy as an organizing political principle) and the Left (who recognize envy as the fundamental and only political organizing principle). Of course, I gather that that’s basically what you’d meant to express.

    To others, I’d merely reiterate that inequality is a naturally determined fact and, moreover, the single one upon which civilization is based: the Law of Comparative Advantage as applied to
    men. If anything, civilization has reached the advanced state which we currently enjoy by consciously sharpening and exploiting such innate differences to the very great benefit of nearly all, regardless of relative position.

    Inequality is even more important politically than economically, though the two are hardly separable. The more alike are men and the more alike are their productive capabilities seen to be by their fellow men, the less reason can be justified for differences in outcome based on some different value of their performance: there is no reason whatever that “equal” men should be free to do as they wish, penalized only by miscalculation of their chances of success and every reason to concur in that each should be directed to serve the greater good in a function assigned to them by authority. (It is further the distillation of human experience that, when men are assigned tasks for whose performance they have been deemed competent yet fail to perform as directed and expected, in the absence of the motivating stimulus of inequality of outcome, the only stimuli remaining even somewhat effective are found in punishments: humiliation, reduction in either privileges or necessities, ostracism, but, most usually, direct corporal punishments (or worse).

    One of the chief and fundamental insights of the “Austrian School” consists in the theoretically-derived but consistently (and never refuted) empirically-observed principle that each and every change is a definite step in the direction of either freedom or totalitarianism (“serfdom,” in Hayek’s book).

    What men need to recognize, above all else, is that the road they’ll travel`is always of their own choosing, as will be its destination.

  10. A few facts( c/o Yahoo News 23.ix.08): 15% of American Mortgage holders spend at least 50% of their income on housing;38% spend 30% or more of their income on housing.In San Francisco 20% spend 50% despite the Prophet of San Francisco, Henry George,telling them to get busy with the Land Value Tax in, not the last century, but the one before. Polly Toynbee calls for LVT in this article. (Other facts from ,in this case, Michael Hudson describing the USA where the credit crunch started: 70% of bank lending is on real estate; 50% of real estate valuation is for the land.)

  11. We have always had jealousy. We have always had income inequality.

    Fact is, many people seem to have had their common sense deactivated, most of all Polly:

    “If the poor had more money, this would not have happened”.

    How can she type such unmitigated TWADDLE into her computer? Or does she recline, Dame Babs Cartland style on a day bed, while a beleaguered scribe scratches away…

  12. “Who needs extra just to do their job?” betrays the exact problem with people like Polly – they don’t understand incentives or economics, so by extension they don’t understand how the world really works.

  13. “No Kaytie, the 42inch Plasma TV and the poor story has been introduced on Tim Worstall’s blog by JuliaM about 15 minutes ago. I think it might be premature to declare this an ‘emerging narrative’.”

    Much as I’d like to state that Tim’s blog is the “emerging narrative”, I think you’ll find that a narrative can only emerge through all media outlets to become the accepted “truth” (you know, everyone thought the world was flat until Columbus, Al Qaeda planned 9/11 from Iraq, etc.)

    What we’re seeing is stupid people flailing around (calling Jeremy Vine, typing on BBC HYS) to blame anyone but their own greed and stupidity. The monkey-see-monkey-do TV viewer that became a BTL landlord with a second home in Latvia can’t possibly look into his own heart to see that it was fucking insane stupid greed that made him do it. In normal times the bank would have put the kibosh on such a stupid plan, but this time they were fucking insane and stupidly greedy too. And the Government? Well, they had a nice incentive to keep the machine going (all that tasty stamp duty certainly focused Gordon’s mind).

  14. the theoretically-derived but consistently (and never refuted) empirically-observed principle that each and every change is a definite step in the direction of either freedom or totalitarianism

    And (e.g.) universal primary education would count as which direction exactly?

  15. “And (e.g.) universal primary education would count as which direction exactly?”

    Oh, come come. Let’s not leave out secondary education.

    The indoctrination, the forced attendance (with court appearances for parents), the social engineering. Let’s chalk them up as a step towards totalitarianism, shall we?

  16. In answer to john b’s question:

    Universal primary education per se – freedom.
    Universal state primary education – totalitarianism.

    Britain got surprisingly near the former before the latter was imposed.

  17. john b:

    Two others, Natalie and Kay Tie, have answered your query accurately. But, in case you’re interested (and haven’t already noted it), I have a much lengthier discussion below, at the first of two “Timmy Elsewhere” entries.

    I have no complaints against the public education I’ve received, K through 12. Probably a fair bit more than I deserved, truth be known, for all my lack of interest during that process. (They were able to save a couple years expense by “skipping” me but I don’t remember anybody being offered or getting a “refund.”) And, as late as 20 years ago, I heard a somewhat “right-wing” radio talk show host (with knowledge of “then” and “now”) comment that the same quality of education was still on offer at the very same places (suburban Philly). And, truth be known (though it might not seem to jibe well with my expressed opinion), many of those responsible for that uniformly fine product were “liberals” in the modern sense of “Left,” including “Progressive” activists and collectivizers of various stripe, including some who actually looked to the USSR as a source of moral inspiration. And, mind you, I’m speaking of the general tenor in a relatively affluent suburb, not some hotbed of proletarian angst.
    Yet I was fully 14 years old before I ever met anyone who admitted to being a Republican, a group everyone simply knew to be depraved predators on the plight of the less fortunate among us, whose only possible excuse was, perhaps, of being a somewhat lower life-form and incapable of otherwise acting. In that regard, nothing much has changed–the same imprecations, etc.

    But that degree of falsity and the clinging to wishful, make-believe fairy tales have consequences beyond the power of their originators to recall, even were they to wish to do so. False beliefs about men and society cannot counteract human nature nor should it so be wished, for the very same nature possesses the power for great good when properly recognized–as witness the progress made almost exclusively by western civilization and bestowed with some inadvertance on others–and embodied in more appropriate social relationships.

    What I will tell you is that the current malaise which has affected education nearly throughout the developed world was initially seen and appreciated by me as a developing and irreversible trend fully 52 years ago, while a student. I predicted the left-led riots and “takeovers” on college campuses and the eventual extension of recognition to their demands and the further accession of some to positions of academic authority—all years before any of it had occurred. But, even then, I could not have explained, at least in any cogent fashion, why these things must “come to pass.” I was, as yet, completely apolitical, somewhat left-leaning by cultural immersion, and totally uninterested in Economics; both interests were some 15 to 20 years in my future but the predictions made then all materialized–in spades. Even before my interest in Economics (and one of the reasons for trying to learn anything of it in the first place) was my conviction (end of 1962) that the US would be unable to maintain either the controlled price of silver, the convertibility of “silver certificates,” or the international gold price. In retrospect, my predictions were stunningly accurate as to the years concerned (1964 and 1974) and even to my guess that a convertibility window of 6 months would be voted by Congress upon the reneg bill. Mind you–that was all in ’62, before my interest and without the slightest acquaintance with any writers upon such subjects or the WSJ. All of that was foreign to me. It wasn’t until 1971 that a new friend where I’d moved heard me say such things to other friends and said “You sound something like Harry Browne,” whose book (“How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation”) had come out a couple years previously. I read the book, concluding principal ideas had come from elsewhere and so devoured the bibliography (Actually it was the new friend who suggested that and was familiar enough with many of the authors that “Ludwig von Mises” stood out like a sore thumb. The rest is history.) I could introduce you to a millionnaire who wanted to play one of my “hunches” and years later, when the Euro was issued at about $1.18 was ready to bet on my advice to sell it down to 92 cents before covering—but got “cold feet” and didn’t buy UNTIL it had hit 95 cents and then stayed on it until he’d lost a bit of money. He still blames me for not being more forceful! Myself–I’ve never made a penny from any of my hunches, either. I’m a thinker, not a doer. Anybody who’d have invested in firms whose TV ADVERTISING I liked, likewise would have made a fortune. And, I’m so commonplace in my tastes that I could have been a one-man “consumer preference survey” and either made money for those who spent millions on actual consumer research or for anyone who bought stock in the companies whose products I preferred.

    Now you know me, John–and “where I’m coming from.” The big difference is that I actually know far more than I used to: I understand why some events are inevitable even though they actually depend on what people do. The only dimension about which an economist with proper theoretical understanding can possibly be unclear is: “when?”

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    DBC Reeed- “Polly Toynbee calls for LVT in this article.”

    I heard a lecturer say once that with the end of Communism you got the political parties that existed before Communism became powerful and that it took a great effort by the West to fund more Western liberal alternatives. I have been following the LVT meme on CiF off and on. With the death of Marxism, both Hard and Soft more or less, it seems that people are reaching out for an alternative. And the Left is adopting memes from the fringe right over fiat money being a Freemason plot etc etc. Nice to see Polly doing it.

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