Do we actually have any poor people any more?

Here\’s why I ask:

According to the analysis, the wealthiest fifth of Britons have a net household income averaging £48,700 and they use public services with an estimated value of £5,400 each year. The poorest fifth have an average income of £13,800 but use public services totalling £11,500.

See? I think I\’m right in saying that median household in come is around mid to high 20ks?

So if the bottom quintile have an average household consumption of mid 20 ks, then is it really true to say that there are any poor people at all?

It is, after all, consumption, not income, which is the important determinant of poverty or not, isn\’t it?

20 thoughts on “Do we actually have any poor people any more?”

  1. Was driving a foreign friend around London a year or so ago.

    They asked “why do all these homes have satellite dishes all of a sudden?”

    “Well”, I said, “these are council houses…”

    Still, there are poor out there. If we dismantled the risk of employing someone so you could take a gamble and try someone out without all the risks of being taken to court, then they might have better prospects. If SMEs were not so under attack, then again we would have more chances – big corporations and their HR are not very accommodating to unusual applicants.

  2. I live on about 6912 pounds to live off a year.
    Being checked off by the state, as its easier than excepting my rather wholesome worldy views, in other words, a fob off.
    Is That not considred poor?
    Can’t remember the last time one bought clothes, maybe ten years or so, they are given by friends, and, im all to happy to recieve the help i get, it saves me taking back whats mine, i leave that to you filthe.
    Or do you wish me to take back the land in which i own?

  3. eh? You cannot evaluate the level of consumption by looking at the nominal income (nearly half of which is in kind and presumably includes things like policing – an unusual variety of consumption good) – you have to look at prices.

    So what do the lowest quintile consume? Take a look at their diets, the quality of housing services they consume, their consumption of transportation services, leisure, clothing, household durables etc. And then if you think that consumption bundle can be described as poor, in a sense that is relevant for contemporary UK society, there’s your answer.

    Personally when I contemplate the life I’d have to leave if I found myself living on benefits* like thousands who cannot work do, or working on the minimum wage, I’m pretty comfortable thinking of that as poverty.

    * without merely saying I’d immediately get myself a job and off benefits

  4. “Was driving a foreign friend around London a year or so ago. They asked ‘Why do all these homes have satellite dishes all of a sudden?” Well, I said, these are council houses.”

    A comment that one presumes must come from a property surveyor who, in driving past with foreign chums on board, can at an instant differentiate between RTB owner-occupied dwellings and those still under council ownership on an estate.

    Assuming one is to believe this ‘anecdote’, what country, in heavens name, does the ‘foreign friend’ come from that they find satellite dishes such a novelty that they monitor the number of them (perhaps the friend needs to get out more?).

    And ah yes, UK owner-occupiers, second-home owners and affluent tax-avoiding English ex-pats living on the Costas do not, of course, have satellite dishes.

    Or, as another soon-to-be-headless chump once said of the poor – ‘let them eat cake’.

  5. Was driving a foreign friend around London a year or so ago.

    They asked “why do all these homes have satellite dishes all of a sudden?”

    “Well”, I said, “these are council houses…”

    I’m sure if you drove a Third World subsistence farmer about he’d wonder where all the mud huts are. But what is the lesson?

  6. On the other hand, consuming health services isn’t quite as much fun as consuming holidays abroad, or flash cars. Hopefully the people who consume health services are the people who are better off overall with consuming health services rather than consuming holidays abroad, but it’s consumption aimed at getting them back to a baseline able to enjoy holidays abroad, which strikes me as a fundamental difference.

  7. There are poor people still, yes. But crucially pretty much every single one of them is poor because of the choices they either have made, or are currently making. Every single person born in this country has tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of pounds per year spent on their behalf providing all sorts of services, benefits & assistance that would allow them to not be poor, IF THEY ARE WISE IN THEIR CHOICES.

    If they are not wise, they very likely will end up poor. But everyone has a free medical service, a free education system to age 18, and a system of income and housing support from cradle to grave. If they choose to not avail themselves of the free education, to abuse their bodies with drugs (both legal and illegal), and to remain on the subsistence level incomes provided by the State for free rather than trying to better themselves, then that is their lookout.

    The role of the redistributive benefit system is to provide sufficient for people to survive, not to provide the same level of income as those who provide for themselves. We have already passed that point in some areas, and look where that has got us – generations of non-working families, because they can get more by not working than working.

  8. Jim, on the other hand, some people are incapable of making better choices. The brain is a physical organ, and, thus, like all other organs, can go wrong.
    I’ve worked at a brain injury treatment unit, as a nurse’s aid, there are people who after a brain injury are physically perfectly capable of seeing the right hand side of the world, but not mentally capable, so they do things like only eat half their meal, and then complain that they’re still hungry.

    Of course how people act is affected by their environment in many complex ways, and as an empirical matter people tend to do what they are incentivised to do, so benefits can encourage people to not work and the more generous the benefits the greater the encouragement. But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean that everyone is capable of making good choices to avoid being on benefits.

    So, on this topic, I think there’s no easy solution. Easy benefits results in more bad choices and high taxes for those who do work, limited benefits hurts those who can’t make good choices. The simplicities of neither the left nor the right have an answer.

  9. “pretty much every single one of them is poor because of the choices they either have made, or are currently making”

    People choose to be disabled? People choose to have long term mental illnesses? People choose to be old?

  10. @ Pete: re disabled: what exactly do you mean by disabled? Those born disabled (not chosen obviously), those involved in accidents (not chosen again) or those who abuse themselves to such a degree they can no longer function in the labour market? By any rational definition the numbers of those in the first 2 categories are fixed – genetic abnormalities do not increase as a percentage of births, if anything due to increased abortion, they reduce. Accidents should be lower now than ever before due to better health & safety. So the massive increase in ‘disability’ over the last 30 years is IMO down to bad lifestyle choices – too much eating, drinking, smoking, drug taking, lack of exercise, poor diet etc etc. Sadly it is now the summit of many peoples ambition to ‘get on the sick’. Truely disabled people are being sold short by the greediness and laziness of the non-disabled, who nonetheless want a bit of the action. The better the level of support provided for the real disabled, the more the incentive for people to try and swing the lead to get in on the cash.

    As for the mentally ill, I have a great deal of experience of the mental health system as a friend of mine has been in and out of it for decades. The vast majority of people within it abuse drugs like they are going out of fashion, my friend included. Indeed he is a classic example – had he had not smoked industrial quantities of weed, and ingested any other drugs he could get his hands on, plus drinking enough to sink the Bismark, he might not now be a manic depressive with schizoid tendancies. Just a chance eh?

    And as for getting old, well its hardly a surprise is it? It doesn’t suddenly happen overnight to a select few. We’re all going there (hopefully) so its up to each of us to do our best to provide for ourselves, rather than expect others to do it for us.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Ld Elon – “I live on about 6912 pounds to live off a year.”

    I see school was a waste of time. 12 years of it? I don’t think that is TW’s point. His point is not just income but services. You have a council house, right? You have to look not just at what token sum you pay but what it is actually worth – what someone with a job would have to pay for that level of accommodation.

    “Being checked off by the state, as its easier than excepting my rather wholesome worldy views, in other words, a fob off.”

    Sorry but your English is so poor I am not sure what you are saying, you mean you are bitching because we don’t enable your parasitic life style in the manner you would like be accustomed?

    “im all to happy to recieve the help i get, it saves me taking back whats mine, i leave that to you filthe.”

    I like that “filthe”. Very Elizabethan. What do you think is yours exactly? Why do any of us owe you anything?

    “Or do you wish me to take back the land in which i own”

    Knock yourself out son. By all means, feel free to take back what you think you own. You really think that if it does not come down to it the people who pay through the nose for your idleness will not side with the Man? You think that people like me will ever get tired of paying for prison cells for people who try to “take back what is theirs”?

    “typos, and tiredness.”

    Sure. I can imagine how wrecked you are after a day of watching TV.

    I think that (was it?) Jim’s point has been made well. We don’t have poverty in this country. We have self inflicted misery.

  12. Pray tell Jim how you can work out how long you will live? Plus how long your spouse will live.
    How much inflation will occur in the distsant future.
    How much care and medicine will cost. Not to mention transport.
    etc etc.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    john malpas – “Pray tell Jim how you can work out how long you will live? Plus how long your spouse will live.”

    So you’re saying that we need the welfare state because some of us are so dumb we don’t realise we are going to get old? Or just that some of us need help in providing for our old age? Well the state takes about 40% of everything and from what I can see it does a piss poor job of looking after the old. So that’s not working out is it?

    “How much inflation will occur in the distsant future.”

    You mean that because the British State is too incompetent to carry out its basic functions properly (like providing a sound currency), we need it to take care of virtually all functions in British society? I am curious why you think the fuckers can be trusted with our welfare when they can’t even look after the pound.

    “How much care and medicine will cost. Not to mention transport.”

    Apart from inflation above, less. We can be pretty sure that medicine will cost a lot less. Care may or may not.

  14. Jim, more people now are surviving accidents that would have killed them in the past, particularly brain injuries, so they’re left with disabilities from things that would have left them dead before, from things like swelling in the brain or an infection acquired while immobile for a long period of time.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Tracy W – “more people now are surviving accidents that would have killed them in the past, particularly brain injuries, so they’re left with disabilities from things that would have left them dead before”

    About 1,000 people per year suffer some sort of injury to their spinal cord between C1 and C7. There are only 12 centres for treating such injuries in the whole of the UK. Not all of those are unable to ever work again.

    This is tragic for those involved, but compared to the numbers on Disability they are noise.

  16. So Much for Subtlety, I entirely agree that some of the rise in disability payments is in part down to incentives. I think it was Heinlein who said it best:

    “If the government establishes a programme to feed cats, no matter what the conditions and the rules are, it will breed kittens.”
    (But now I can’t find the quote online).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *