Polly and numbers don\’t play well together, do they?

Most of the poor drawing benefits are cleaners, carers, caterers – the 62% living below the poverty line, working hard yet needing benefits to survive.

62% of the country are below the poverty line?

I don\’t think so, no, really, I don\’t.

18 thoughts on “Polly and numbers don\’t play well together, do they?”

  1. I think she means that 62% of the poor are below the poverty line.

    Tomorrow she will claim that 100% of those below the poverty line are below the poverty line.

  2. She might have meant that 62% of those on benefits were below the poverty line.

    Or something…..

    Anyone any wiser as to her claim that food prices were up 300% ?

  3. I suppose that that it would be possible if the median household income were negative. Then 60% of the median income would be higher than 100% of the median income, allowing a majority of the population to live below the poverty line.

  4. Don’t even try to make sense of it. You are wasting your time.

    It is political propaganda, no more. Advertising standards do not apply here.

    It is not that Pollyanna can’t add up, she doesn’t want to add up. Her picture is more important.

  5. I think she means that 62% of those below the poverty line are in work and need benefits to top up their earnings. It could be clearer.

  6. We seem to have invented a new game called “deciphering Polly”. Winner receives a signed photograph of the cleaners Polly employs to clean her Tuscan villa.

  7. You missed:
    “Cameron’s plan to peg housing benefit to prices, not inflation, will …”
    Her claim that only 1 in 8 of those receiving housing benefit is unemployed is a quote from the Smith Institute, quoting the New Statesman, quoting Shelter, quoting a survey in 2007/8, since when unemployment has more than doubled. The New Statesman has the grace to admit that it is “not a statistic that you’ll see reported in most papers” – because it is *wrong*.

  8. She is saying that 62% of those below the poverty line, and who receive benefits for being poor, are workers, not slackers. If this is what she is saying, it’s not easy to coax the meaning from what she wrote. But, look at the very next paragraph where she goes on talking about how only one in eight of the people drawing housing benefits are out of work.

    Bad writing, very bad writing.

  9. Desconhecido has it.

    In other words, she’s making a really quite important point that I’d’ve thought even you lot could get behind (“benefits aren’t subsidising feckless dope smokers with a hundred kids, they’re topping up incomes for people who work hard at a job which is almost certainly more unpleasant than yours”), but doing so in such an inarticulate way that only people who already know the data can understand it.

    If I was a conspiracy theory type (I’m not, I’m a very fervent cock-up theory type), I’d be tempted to suggest that the prevalence of fucking Toynbee and fucking Murphy’s arse-wibbling as left wing commentators in the mainstream media was a right-wing plot…

  10. @ john b
    It is an important point and it is one that I support but those who already know the data know that (i) she’s got it wrong and that (ii) the changes to the system introduced by New Labour have made moved the system from its virtuous intent towards encouraging scrounging by making people with low incomes worse off in work than on the dole. Old-fashioned Tories have been trying to help the Deserving Poor for centuries

  11. That’s the diametric opposite of true: the tax credits policy, which was the centrepiece of Labour’s entire programme from a welfare point of view, was tailored entirely to help people who were in work. Unsurprising, the net result was that low income workers became less poor after the impact of taxes & benefits under Labour than they had been.

    Also, not sure if you stopped paying attention in 1976, but old fashioned Tories were replaced by “fuck the poor” Tories around that point.

  12. @ john b
    I didn’t stop paying attention, but maybe you did.
    When my elder son went to university my marginal tax rate was over 90% of gross revenue, and that was despite my travel costs being tax-deductible because by then I was working from home. If I had had three children with two at university my marginal rate would have been over 100%. For those having to choose between travelling to work, without the cost being tax-deductible, or living on benefits the effective tax rates are higher.
    The general result of New Labour’s policies has been an *increase* in income differentials both before and after tax. Setting a minimum effective tax rate of 71% (ignoring the travel and lunch cost) meant that guys wrre worse off working than staying at home and shopping at the Tesco “reduced to clear” counter.
    Even the trendy lefty Gini coefficient shows that New Labour increased inequality. HMRC showed that the share of national wealth owned by the bottom half decreased by TWO-THIRDS from the Thatcher-era level before Brown’s appartchiks stopped it publishing the data.
    When you want to lie, try picking on someone who doesn’t know the truth.
    You are talking leftie bullshit: over a period old-fashioned Tories got outnumbered by Whigs (aka Thatcherites) but we still exist.

  13. Wealth doesn’t equal income. Yes, the house price boom in the southeast ensured that the share of wealth attributable to the bottom half of the income distribution decreased. That’s another Thatcherite policy. Labour’s policy on in-work benefits mitigated its practical effects.

  14. @ john b
    Thatcher increased the wealth of the bottom half and decreased the wealth differential.
    Income differential did increase but by far less than the increased differential in taxable income because I remember the wide-spread schadenfreude among the youngsters working in the City when Geoffrey Howe’s reforms led to mass redundancies among tax planners. If you accept Labour’s claims, then you believe that the incomes of the top-rate taxpayers rose by more than 60% in aggregate year-on-year and that the flying pink pig is not a balloon filled with helium. Labour’s policy on in-work benefits did what *I* described. Do some bloody homework before accusing me of “diametric opposite to true”. I have lived through Labour’s in-work benefit when my income dropped by over 80% in one year, gradually built up till it had more than quadrupled from the low and then again fell by 80% before starting another recovery, so *I* know what I’m talking about whereas *you* are spouting party propaganda. I was still – just – better-off in work but if my travel expenses were not tax-deductible I should not have been in at least three years out of New Labour’s last decade.

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