What is Ritchie smoking?

Economists and Tories who argue against inrtervention in the economy say that this is OK becasue recessions indicate people do not want to work.


I know of people who claim that structural unemployment is in part because some people don\’t want to work.

I know of people who claim that the incentives on offer (things like 90% marginal tax and benefit withdrawal rates) mean that some people don\’t want to work: I\’m one of them.

I know of people who claim that high and not time limited out of work benefits lead to some not wanting to work: Richard Layard is one of them.

I even know of people who claim that everyone wants not to work (pretty much everyone in fact: it would be better if we could all do as we wished rather than having to clock in and labour for our daily bread, no?).

But I know of absolutely no one who claims that recessions are caused by people not wanting to work.

Not one single person in the whole gamut of opinions from anarcho-capitalists all the way through to North Korean style the State is everything, taking in the Austrians, Keyensians, Real Business Cycle folks, New Keynesians, saltwater and freshwater schools, Chicago, socialists, Marxists and Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

It\’s simply an absurd statement, a complete strawman.

11 thoughts on “What is Ritchie smoking?”

  1. Richie is the king of the strawmen; he knocks them out at a rate of one an hour.

    He should export them, bring in some much needed foreign currency.

  2. In fairness to Ritchie I don’t think you have quoted him accurately. There is a sentence that follows on from you exerpt (which I’ve bolded) which explains it:

    “Economists and Tories who argue against inrtervention in the economy say that this is OK becasue recessions indicate people do not want to work. This is a lie.

    So you see he explains that he’s lying immediately after he lies.

  3. Certainly a novel argument, but now we only need to have people wanting to work and, bingo, no recessions ever again. And Dickie’s the man to do it. He is, after all, the Man of Action. Go, Dickie, go.

  4. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    The economic collapse portrayed in ‘Atlas Shrugged’ was caused by people not wanting to work. And that was certainly caused by high marginal tax rates.

    On a personal level, I’d sooner not work, either. But the fact I’d sooner not sponge off my fellow citizens means I have to.

  5. If you think that ultimately a recession is caused by supply and not demand then a sort of global laziness is to blame .I see the UK and much of the West at the mo as like a Company with more people in personnel than doing a hands turn at the money pumps

  6. This argument has seriously been put forward by New Classical economists and Real-business cycle economists for the Great Depression.

  7. “recessions indicate people do not want to work”

    True in my case. After years of slog, I mercifully found that there was no work available.

    Now, I make my living on the stock market. No bos, no hassle – all from the comfort of my home.


    The taxman gets less of my income and I’m not beholden to anyone.

  8. I think we can propound a new Iron Law of economics, to take its place up there with Ricardo’s Law of Comparative Advantage, Coase’s Theorem, the Black-Scholes formula, etc.: the Richard Murphy Bollocks Criterion.

    THE RICHARD MURPHY BOLLOCKS CRITERION: given that Richard Murphy is such an incorrigible fuckwit (technical term; WGCE), all utterances from his oh-so-punchable gob fall into certain categories, viz.: a) utter shite on their face and demonstrably so after a moment’s reflection b) grotesque mis-statements of mainstream thought c) wishful thinking as viewed from a planet where Murphy were not a WGCE but had a modicum of power d) straw men large enough to barbecue a battalion of Edward Woodwards.

    Capsule version: if there exists a stick, Murphy will grasp the wrong end of it and swing it about his head like the retarded kid at a party until someone takes him down with a flying tackle.

    It is left as an exercise for the reader to decide into which category this current spectacular display of mulish inanity falls.

  9. i think we are heading for a new golden age of thought…with a stream of discoveries made by Richard Murphy…

    week 1 – he invents a perpetual motion machine
    week 2 – he invents the ham sandwich
    week 3 – he reveals that gravity doesn’t exist and that the Sun goes round the Earth

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