Someone really needs to tell The Guardian about history. And logic maybe

Living standards: you\’ve never had it so grim

Right, right, the economy\’s the worst it\’s ever been.

On Wednesday the Bank of England did what it has done more or less every quarter since 2008, and somewhat darkened its forecasts, while the Office for National Statistics looked backwards and relayed that pay packets are now no weightier than in 2003, indicating an entire lost decade.

Oh, so we\’re actually all living at the standard we were 10 years ago then? And as I recall it a decade ago we were all agog at how wonderful everything was, a decade into a marvelous boom.

So it\’s not actually never had it so grim really, is it? Every year before 2003 was in fact grimmer than this.

24 thoughts on “Someone really needs to tell The Guardian about history. And logic maybe”

  1. Maybe they were addressing only people under the age of ten?

    Which appears to be the comprehension level of their readers, so………….

  2. Except that back then we had hope, the promise of a bright new future. Today we have the promise of many more years of pain.

    Also, having followed the Guardian’s link to the ONS report ( ), I can see that they used CPI inflation rather than RPI. If they had used RPI (as we used to, until Europe told us to use CPI), then we’d have reached 2003 a while ago and we’d be heading downwards faster.

    But still, it’s the absence of that hope & promise and a new Jerusalem – that’s the real kicker. People are happy to work hard and keep their heads down if they believe tomorrow will be better than today. In 2013, precious few people believe that.

  3. Come on! It’s straight George Orwell.
    “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”
    Guardian seems to use 1984 as an instruction manual when it reports past events.

  4. Incomes may be at 2003 levels, but what of costs?
    If they’re behaving differently then 2003 income doesn’t equate to 2003 living standards.

  5. Tim, they’re proving one of your laws; that it isn’t the absolute level of wealth that matters to happiness but whether it’s going up or down.

  6. Well, I knew in 1997, let alone 2003, that the biggest boom of all time would end in the biggest bust of all time. So, I for one wasn’t living in hope and the promise of a bright new future.

  7. Richard, Andrew

    Except that they were talking about living standards and not happiness.


    So even if we are at the 1997 level there’s still an awful lot of years when it was much worse…

  8. I wonder if the Guardian would prefer to be in 1947 to 2013

    Of course it would. There were genuine social problems in 1947 that they could bang on about. People died of curable diseases and malnourishment rather than dying mostly of self-inflicted diseases or overnourishment because food has never been cheaper and they have no willpower. And most of all they could spend most of their time telling the upper and upper-middle classes it was all their fault for some reason, whereas now they have to spend most of their time thinking of sophist or casuist reasons why it isn’t the fault of the ‘victims’.

  9. “I wonder if the Guardian would prefer to be in 1947 to 2013”

    They would be creaming in their pants. Long queues for basic essentials? Rationing? In their dreams.

  10. Also bear in mind their constant bleating about ‘affluenza’, ‘over-consumption’ and man destroying the planet, and you have to ask: what’s their point?

    It indicates a confused state of mind to simultaneously demand a lowering of living standards and then complain about an (apparent) lowering of living standards.

  11. Geoff Taylor: “Incomes may be at 2003 levels, but what of costs?”

    The ONS report which the article must surely be based on talked about real terms incomes.

  12. “I wonder if the Guardian would prefer to be in 1947 to 2013?

    well I’ll be damned, from wikipedia


    The paper so loathed Labour’s left-wing champion Aneurin Bevan “and the hate-gospellers of his entourage” that it called for Attlee’s post-war Labour government to be voted out of office.[21] The newspaper opposed the creation of the National Health Service as it feared the state provision of healthcare would “eliminate selective”[clarification needed] and lead to an increase of congenitally deformed and feckless people”

  13. Also bear in mind their constant bleating about ‘affluenza’, ‘over-consumption’ and man destroying the planet, and you have to ask: what’s their point?

    Their point is to moan, carp and whinge. Hence why Labour were evil when they were in power, and are the Second Coming now. There was even talk of them supporting Cameron at one point when he was in Opposition.

    ‘Affluenza’, which is bad for everyone except people who don’t have it, is a classic case in point. It’s not that anything inherent is good, or bad, it’s that whatever you are currently doing is wrong and especially if you enjoy it.

  14. well I’ll be damned, from wikipedia

    So when we say that most of the Groan’s output seems to be based on a false sense of guilt for the past, what we should actually be saying is that it is based on a true sense of guilt for the past?

  15. well I’ll be damned, from wikipedia

    I think the Guardian used to be a pretty good paper at one time. Before my time, though. But I remember my parents reading the Independent in the early 90s and it being a lot different from the comic it is now. And we’ve already seen what’s happened to the Telegraph in a short few years.

  16. It’s not a big story, but I think this a pretty weak response. The whole report, right or wrong, says that “families of modest means” won’t return to their 2008 levels till 2023. No idea if that’s a reasonable guess. But 15 years of stagnation is hardly insignificant. I appreciate that most readers of this blog spent their formative years grubbing around for turnips in the aftermath of the Black Death – not Mr Newman of course – but spare some sympathy for us over optimistic youngsters.

  17. “we’ve already seen what’s happened to the Telegraph in a short few years”: aye, but it’s not stopping there. Saturday’s FT had mimsy stuff in it, including an unbearable headline referring to something or other happening “for the very first time”. Back at effing Nursery School, eh?

  18. But dearieme, you may well remember when this (whatever “this” is) really happened “for the very first time”. I assume some time in the Middle Ages. But what of us born after the reformation?

  19. It’s valid if you consider the first derivative to be the relevant measure of happiness or grimness. Western society since the industrial revolution has been characterised by a general idea that happiness is linked to things getting better, with the acceptance that things are actually crap right now. Your kids will be better off than you are, kind of thing.

    I don’t think anyone would pretend that things are, for most people, objectively good. There is such immense room for improvement. But they are better than they were, and the whole idea of working like a slave your whole life is that it contributes to the general trend of things getting better. If we have to put up with this shit just to stay where we are, we’re in a Red Queen scenario.

    That really is pretty grim, isn’t it?

    That, and most of the important prices for poor people (housing, energy, ciggies and beer) are rising much faster than official inflation statistics, so things actually are getting worse if, officially, they’re the same as ten years ago. This might not apply to international erbium entrepreneurs, but will apply to most ditch diggers and paper shufflers.

  20. I’d say the Guardian’s in the strange position of being wrong by its own standards but right by everyone else’s.
    When talking about relative incomes, Tim’s always stressing the necessity to include what’s being done to reduce disparity, when calculating disparity. So what’s different between 2003 & 2013?
    Well we certainly have a whole lot more government in ’13 than we had in ’03. We had 8 years of Brownian public spending increases & 3 years after he’s gone, the coalition still hasn’t found a way of stopping it increasing. Let alone levelling or reducing. Hence the enormous deficit. But the Graun was firmly behind that public spending increase. Hosted endless cheerleaders of it & advocated more. Is fighting against cuts now. So in Guardian World we must be much better off, thanks to it. Pay-packets might be a touch thinner but think of the rise in the ‘social wage’! You might say that you’re worse off but the Guardian should be saying you’re better off. Unless it wants to admit everything it’s been pushing for, for a decade, was a mistake.

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