New ideas for Labour

Hmm:

2. Eco wealth fund
The National Trust is a huge, respected membership organisation which looks after physical assets, often donated by the wealthy, for the benefit of the nation. We should create a forward looking sister organisation, the National Trust Wealth Fund, which could for example invest in green economy solutions such as combined heat and power systems. It could be financed in part by drawing on some of the “dead money” being hoarded in cash by corporations; through contributions from “non doms” who want to show they are committed to the country and augmented by crowdfunding. The National Trust Wealth Fund would be a sovereign social development fund, with a combined social and commercial purpose, like Khazanah, the highly effective and innovative Malaysian fund.

Don’t you just love this line?

It could be financed in part by drawing on some of the “dead money” being hoarded in cash by corporations;

So we’re going to start off simply by stealing other peoples’ money, are we?

7. Sixty not-out: time for your second career
The Encore movement was started by Marc Friedman, a remarkable US social entrepreneur, to help people over 60 to start second, third and fourth careers doing work that matters to them and offers social good.

We’re not going to let you retire.

9. Making Sundays special
Shopping absorbs more of our time and energy than ever, spreading much happiness in its wake. Yet is it also true that many people yearn for something more, beyond the meagre measure of money, which perhaps lifts their horizons, bringing people together: friends, families, lovers, fans and believers. Over the summer we trek to fields all over Britain to be caught up in festivals that offer something bigger than ourselves. Labour should give voice and form to this search for something more without being dull and dour. The Conservatives have just extended retail opening hours on a Sunday; Labour should show more imagination by reinventing Sunday as a day for culture that brings people together, reinvesting it with meaning.

Yes, we’ve still got more than a few Puritans in the Labour Party.

11. Better-business campaign
Business is one of Labour’s blind spots. Ed Miliband had a 1970s academic’s distaste for virtually all forms of business. The post-Ed rush to embrace all “wealth creators” is equally simplistic. It should not be hard for Labour to find ways to support better ways to do business. An obvious step would be to endorse the Benefit Corporation standard, the good business equivalent of a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification, which companies get by delivering higher standards of transparency, accountability and social responsibility, to act for the good of the wider community as well as their shareholders. By declaring themselves a legal entity, a Benefit Corporation, these companies signal to investors that they have to organise their financial returns for the sake of social purpose. It creates a legal vehicle to give executives a degree of protection from over-greedy shareholders.

As if the principal/agent problem wasn’t already large enough.

If this is the best they can do…..

88 thoughts on “New ideas for Labour”

  1. ““dead money” being hoarded in cash by corporations”

    What, all your business cash reserves are belong to us?

    Seriously?

    They haven’t learned, have they?

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    through contributions from “non doms” who want to show they are committed to the country and augmented by crowdfunding.

    So shaking down tax exiles? Nice. I am all for the crowd funding. Fools and their money and all that.

    The National Trust Wealth Fund would be a sovereign social development fund, with a combined social and commercial purpose, like Khazanah, the highly effective and innovative Malaysian fund.

    Why not like 1MDB?

  3. >It could be financed in part by drawing on some of the “dead money” being hoarded in cash by corporations;

    Last time I checked, few companies (except in Greece) were hording significant amounts of cash in the form of £50 notes in the safe. It’s conventional to keep ones cash reserves in the bank – which they then lend out to fund things like mortgages and government debt.

    What exactly does he think would happen if you took at that money out of the banking system to give away to whatever special interest group is deemed flavor of the month…?!

  4. It’s the tone-deafness that is priceless: “we want to be less unfriendly to businesses. But we want to purloin their cash reserves. But no, we’re not business unfriendly”.

  5. Why the surprise about “stealing other people’s money” Tim? Their ideology is dressed-up envy and their programme is dressed-up theft. That’s what the Labour Party has always been.

  6. “That’s what the Labour Party has always been.”

    True. And they have dragged the rest their way. You can be sure some BluLabour twat will be perusing the rubbish above looking for some more “good ideas” they can use.

  7. This so reminds me of a conversation I had with a stomach acid socialist.

    His logic went like this: ‘Rich people spend their money on unnecessary things, things for which there is no social need. Therefore it is right to take money from the rich as then the government can spend it properly.’

    I responded with ‘Fuck off you arsehole!’

    His response: ‘Don’t you swear at me! If you swear at me again, I will make sure you get into trouble!’

  8. That is basically a list of 14 reasons to say ‘WTF!?’

    A number of the ideas are basically “this is something that someone did of his/her/their own back and was successful without any intervention from government, so let’s see how much better is would be if the courageous state did it instead!” Nope, they haven’t learned.

  9. @salamander, don’t stomach acid socialists realise that government is just made up of people. Useless people at that. Politicians who can’t get a proper job and so do PPE at uni and then play about making up laws and thinking they are doing a good job. And civil servants hired because they can’t get a proper job and the gov likes to keep up diversity and equality levels and ignores merit and ability to actually do a job.

    It also true that socialists are #ThinSkinnedTwats and can’t take any criticism because they are so indoctrinated that their way is the truth and no other opinion is valid.

  10. “It should not be hard for Labour to find ways to support better ways to do business.”

    See, Nike can make you shoes, and sell them to you for X pounds. Or, Nike can make you shoes and be sociable, and sell them to you for X + Y pounds.

    Your choice.

  11. @Gamecock

    This happens already. Fairtrade et al.

    But I like your example; it’s succinct and unambiguous.

  12. IanB:

    “Within months, people could be told by ministers to ensure that no more than 5 per cent of their energy comes from sugars, down from 10 per cent, including those naturally present in honey, fruit juice and other foods.”

    Hah–come round to my house mini-steer-ial twat and try and tell me what to eat. You will have all your tooth decay problems solved for you on the spot.

    The sickeningly servile tone of the paper is the worse bit. In only months MINISTERS will be telling me what I should eat. If the Almighty put in a personal appearance I might listen. A bunch of toffee-nosed losers and twats? Whose the minister–Eric Pickles?

  13. Aye. The government telling me whether I can have sugar in my tea. Welcome to the Society Of The Insane.

  14. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Aye. The government telling me whether I can have sugar in my tea. Welcome to the Society Of The Insane.”

    It is not insane. You just think they are your servants. Imagine how it looks to them. Doesn’t a good farmer make sure his cattle eat right?

    Hmmm. Maybe David Ickes was on to something.

  15. Voters in Scotland are highly aspirational, but for an anti-austerity, social democratic nationalism

    Like the Greeks.

    In London, [Labour] appeals to cosmopolitan voters, who might flirt with the Greens

    “The Wanker’s Choice since 1972”

    Ideas that will work will have to appeal to left, right and the non-aligned; those who embrace modern ideas of bottom-up, digitally enabled networks of power as well as those who favour traditional social democratic measures of social justice

    This guy is basically Stewart Pearson from “The Thick of It”.

    The stage-managed, underwhelming and increasingly anachronistic annual party conference should be cut back to two days, and subsumed within a much larger Festival of Ideas for Better Living, providing a mixture of talks, debate, innovation, culture, music and food for anyone interested in how to live well for less in a cooperative spirit.

    Why not just merge it with Glastonbury? It’d be fun to see Kanye sing The Red Flag, then segue into Gold Digger.

    The Daily Mail is famous for the Ideal Home exhibition; why doesn’t Labour find partners to do the Ideal Community festival?

    They could hold it in Rotherham.

    A very high proportion of older people in the UK regard the television as their main contact with the world. The Labour party should become an anti-loneliness movement, proving itself by making a direct contribution to society rather than self-obsessing about re-election.

    “Hello sir! I’m from the Labour Party and I’m here to patronise you.”

    Countdown just started. Clear off!”

    The Conservatives have just extended retail opening hours on a Sunday; Labour should show more imagination by reinventing Sunday as a day for culture

    Forward… to the early 1980’s!

    ♩Every day is like Sunday… everything is silent and grey..♪

    Universal basic income

    Is one of those ideas that works great in theory, but – and pace Tim’s writings on this subject – I’m not so sure about the reality.

    For one thing, we’d need to secure our borders and aggressively police immigration or else the universal basic income + immigration would completely bankrupt us within a generation. Is there any political will – particularly in the Labour Party – to keep out freeloading foreigners? To send hordes of immigration officials in to “diverse” neighbourhoods and drag illegals and their crying children into the backs of police vans? Nope.

    For another thing, a basic income only makes sense if we sack millions of civil servants who will no longer be needed to administer the complex potpourri of benefits it will replace. Anybody see Labour doing that? Or even the Tories?

    And a basic income would have to be set at more or less subsistence level to be affordable and so as not to encourage millions of people currently doing productive jobs to simply quit and live on the dole. It’s true that we can set up a basic income where every recipient’s financial self-interest is best served by also working. But everybody’s calculation of their total self-interest is different – plenty of folks are quite happy to never work if it’s an option open to them. Less – but guaranteed – money and plenty of free time to spend on the couch is the wet dream of every student.

    And as soon as we establish a universal basic income, it’ll be a political football, with Labour in particular strongly incentivised to promise rises at every opportunity. Every election will become an auction of the taxpayers’ money. Like now, but worse.

  16. “The Labour Party is just one of the numerous nests of this verminous infestation.”

    Very true. Not seeing this blatant fact is the reason that politics continues to exert its grip over our lives. They are all, with very few exceptions, exactly the same. They think they need to rule over us for our own good. They think they own our lives.

  17. I always thought the Labour Party always has been primarily a way for lonely weirdos to meet other people.

  18. And a basic income would have to be set at more or less subsistence level to be affordable and so as not to encourage millions of people currently doing productive jobs to simply quit and live on the dole

    plenty of folks are quite happy to never work if it’s an option open to them. Less – but guaranteed – money and plenty of free time to spend on the couch is the wet dream of every student.

    Millions? Showing true sociopathy there in nearly every sentence.

    And what would you propose is a “more or less subsistence level” for a basic income?

    And can you point me who or where are these “freeloading foreigners”? Do you know they exist? In what way, specifically, do they ‘freeload’?

    Ooh you’re so funny Steve, why don’t you do your own blog Steve? Yeah Steve. you’re so great Steve, I’d pay money to read you Steve. I spat my guts up on my keyboard Steve. Forinners yeah Steve! woop woop

  19. Sunday – cultural? So rather than forcing health workers, utility workers, retail staff etc to work we’ll just force cultural staff? Presumably more than currently as at the moment people can choose.

  20. Honestly, if the government gave me a modest but liveable stipend I’d happily never work again. Neither would I volunteer and all that nonsense beloved of the middle class social justice mob. I would gladly sit on my arse all day doing nothing productive whatsoever. This is indeed the normal preference of human beings, which is why work has to be imposed on us by the need for production to survive.

    It’s not insulting people to say that they wouldn’t work if they didn’t have to. It’s just how people are. All those moralists who bang on about the glory of work are people who don’t have to stand in a big shed making sandwiches all day, or run around a warehouse doing 700 picks per hour or you’re sacked. The idea that most people will work without the need to do so is total arse.

  21. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “It’s not insulting people to say that they wouldn’t work if they didn’t have to. It’s just how people are.”

    Indeed. It is just obvious actually.

    “All those moralists who bang on about the glory of work are people who don’t have to stand in a big shed making sandwiches all day”

    I have had my share of crap jobs. I still think work is a necessary precondition for men to live a decent life. Idle aristocrats are not much better than the feckless underclass. A bit more colourful and socially useful.

    But I still think we are going about this the wrong way. Instead of offering people a minimum income, we ought to be demanding a minimum contribution. People ought to be told they have to pay so much in tax due to earning a decent income or we will exile them somewhere horrible like Glasgow. People will either rise to our expectations or sink to them.

  22. Arnald,
    Steve can stick up for himself, even if he did like Spandau Ballet*, but the “freeloading foreigner” point is pretty obvious isn’t it? Dumbass?

    Maybe “would-rather-have-a-universal-basic-income-than-walk-5-miles-for-water-while-being-shot-at-by-ISIS-or-similar” would be more accurate, but it’s a bit of a mouthful.

  23. Ian B

    And which surely is utterly self evident. There are far too many interesting things to do in our limited life spans not to pursue activities that we desire, if we are provided freely with the opportunity.

    Sure, there will be some, and even many, for whom those wishes may well coincide with a desire to work, and most likely in more interesting jobs, but that doesn’t invalidate one jot what Steve said in any way.

    Arnald, ignoring your ‘issues’ with ‘spitting guts’ and similar, I am curious as to why do you doubt this?

  24. SMFS,

    “But I still think we are going about this the wrong way. Instead of offering people a minimum income, we ought to be demanding a minimum contribution. People ought to be told they have to pay so much in tax due to earning a decent income or we will exile them somewhere horrible like Glasgow. People will either rise to our expectations or sink to them.”

    But that’s part of the “basic income” idea. You get to live. Doesn’t mean you get to live in London, or even Northampton. Housing benefit payments are bigger than JSA + Income Support. And half of that is going on people living in London.

    But it would be a basic income. It would be at a level that SJWs would disapprove of: subsistence + the means to get back to work.

  25. Universal basic income: the important word there is “basic”. The usual number bandied about is something like the pension guarantee: £130 a week. Most would work as well as that. For do note that it replaces the entirety of the rest of the welfare system.

  26. SMFS-

    I still think work is a necessary precondition for men to live a decent life.

    It may well be. What I was attacking there was the idea that people should prefer work to leisure, an idea propagated by people whose careers coincide with what they most enjoy doing anyway (hectoring everyone else and feeling self-important).

  27. It creates a legal vehicle to give executives a degree of protection from over-greedy shareholders.

    For the larger corporations, major shareholders are pension funds. This is just an excuse to raid them for ideological reasons.

  28. Does that £130 per week include or exclude housing costs. Hardly anyone could live on that if rent has to be paid out of it. If rents were paid separately OTOH, I could happily live on that, I think. It would be frugal, but in that context comfortable.

    So it looks to me either too high or too low, one or the other.

  29. And by my calculation, that’s going to cost about £350 billion per year. Which is quite a lot.

  30. Tim,

    Yes, in addition to the basic income, people might work (partially), or rely on savings income (partially), etc.

    But without that basic income, a lot of those same people would likely work more than they would without it.

    Not the people who might normally claim benefit, but some percentage of the millions who otherwise never claim anything?

    That’s the bit that doesn’t add up for me (in terms of national output)?

  31. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “But that’s part of the “basic income” idea. You get to live.”

    You mistake my intention. Instead of saying “Here is some money so you can live a basic life” we ought to be saying “You must earn a minimum amount of money”. We should not be providing people with anything. We ought to be saying, clearly and up front, that earning a basic living is not merely expected of every adult male, it is a legal requirement. Instead of a minimum welfare payment, we ought to have something like a poll tax.

    It is not as if there is any lack of work that could be done. It is not as if people have trouble finding work if they want it. It is not as if the idle in British society are unable to work. They just don’t want to – and we are happy to pay them not to. We need to change that cultural expectation.

  32. UBI

    Would lead to thousands of ‘creatives’ living off it to pursue their ‘art’.

    For every Billy Bragg (I pay to see him and buy his records) and Russell Brand (who I wouldn’t pay a penny for his output) who are on record for going on the dole to pursue their dreams and have been successful and more than paid back what they took.

    We would be inundated with tumblr sjw writers, niche musicians and crap artists all waiting for the market to pay them a living, which of course it doesn’t and won’t. And instead of what we have now where people take a risk, fail and either accept they need to work and their creative output is more of a hobby we will prolong a large amount of pretentious, sanctimonious and precious people carrying on thinking the world owes them a living.

    Is that a good thing to trade off against a simpler welfare system?

  33. Arnald – Showing true sociopathy there in nearly every sentence.

    Ha! Maybe. Doesn’t mean I’m wrong though.

    So… what Ian B and SMFS and PF said. And I’m not really one to extol the benefits of the Protestant Work Ethic. If I won the Euromillions, I’d spend the rest of my life drunk on a yacht.

    It’d be great if we could generate enough excess wealth that we could make working for a living optional: some sort of Star Trek society where scarcity has been abolished and everybody’s wonderfully enlightened and follows their passion for art, music or space exploration.

    But we’re not in the post-scarcity age and our population is a lot more like Jeremy Kyle’s guests than the United Federation of Planets.

    So we need people to work and pay taxes to support a universal basic income. If the income:

    A) shrinks our tax base through people saying “thanks for the free money” and dropping out of the labour force

    B) creates additional incentive for the billions of people who would be better off migrating here to do so

    And

    C) Creates a powerful political incentive for every election to be a referendum on awarding ourselves a pay rise – after all, we deserve it, don’t we?

    Then it won’t be sustainable. A universal basic income could work, in a society with effective immigration controls, strong shaming mechanisms to deal with free riders, and a disciplined and educated electorate able to resist Brownite calls for ever more welfare spending – I’m just not convinced it would work in Britain, because we don’t have those things.

    And can you point me who or where are these “freeloading foreigners”? Do you know they exist? In what way, specifically, do they ‘freeload’?

    What Jack C said, and also bear in mind that most immigrants are net recipients of the welfare state’s budgets, not net contributors to it.

    So the bearded guys hanging around mosques, carrying signs saying “behead those who insult Islam”, the headscarf-wearing Big Issue vendors, the Romanian shelf stackers and the lovely Polish baristas all have one thing in common: they’re taking more out of the British public purse than they’re likely to ever put back in.

    For they do indeed need and get “free” NHS treatment for them and their families, “free” education for their children, and “free” so on and “free” so forth. Except it’s not free. It’s costing the British people as a whole, soaking up every penny in tax paid by high earning net contributors and adding to the tab our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay.

    We can have a generous welfare system or we can have mass immigration. We cannot have both – not for very long anyway. That applies to a universal basic income and to our present welfare arrangements.

    Ooh you’re so funny Steve, why don’t you do your own blog Steve? Yeah Steve. you’re so great Steve, I’d pay money to read you Steve. I spat my guts up on my keyboard Steve. Forinners yeah Steve! woop woop

    I’ll put you down on the list of potential subscribers to my newsletter as a “maybe”.

  34. SMFS,

    “We should not be providing people with anything. We ought to be saying, clearly and up front, that earning a basic living is not merely expected of every adult male, it is a legal requirement. Instead of a minimum welfare payment, we ought to have something like a poll tax.”

    And if they can’t, for legitimate reasons, work for a few months? We’d still want them to eat, wouldn’t we?

    So, you then have two ways to deal with that. Either you just make sure everyone can eat via a simple flat income, or you create a huge politicized state bureaucracy with a gazillion complex rules and benefits which tries to distinguish between “good beneficiaries” and “bad beneficiaries”, and mostly fails at that because the idle game the system and do things to pass the rules. In the process, we create a load of terrible incentives leading the benefit trap and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.

    I agree with you that there is generally plenty of work to be done. I once walked down Newbury’s main shopping street and 1 in 3 shops had vacancies. Meanwhile, the Job Centre had no shortage of takers. But you can have people legitimately out of work for a few months (especially if say, a large employer leaves a town) and I still believe you need a safety net. But 2m people unemployed? Uh, no.

  35. I agree with you that there is generally plenty of work to be done.

    Not at all times – there wasn’t a jump of 3% in unemployment in 2008/10 because all those people suddenly couldn’t be arsed.

  36. basic income: anything you earn you can add on top (subject to tax) so there is always a financial incentive to work.

    means-tested benefits, tax credits etc: in some circumstances there is no financial incentive to work, indeed it can even cost you (e.g. commute and childcare), and the administration will cock up from time to time if you have varying hours, which makes it even more hard to budget and life more stressful.

    what was that about work disincentives?

  37. Steve,

    “It’d be great if we could generate enough excess wealth that we could make working for a living optional: some sort of Star Trek society where scarcity has been abolished and everybody’s wonderfully enlightened and follows their passion for art, music or space exploration.”

    The trouble is that most of us aren’t actually much good at art or music. I’ve tried writing music, and it’s not as good as I Say A Little Prayer, or Wonderful World, or any of 50 things that either Burt Bacharach or Sam Cooke wrote. I’d just spend all day in the holodeck with Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard.

  38. ukliberty,

    “Not at all times – there wasn’t a jump of 3% in unemployment in 2008/10 because all those people suddenly couldn’t be arsed.”

    That’s why I said “generally”. And even then, a lot of that was people exiting white collar jobs who still could have gotten a job pulling pints in a pub but chose not to.

  39. Obviously the pubs failed because of the lack of unemployed Lehman Brothers staff prepared to work for them.

  40. Ian B,

    “Were there a lot of pubs short of bar staff then, at the time?”

    Pubs are frequently short of bar staff. The cafes near me always have ads up for staff, even in the recession. It’s why cafes got overrun by Poles in the mid-2000s – they were the people taking the jobs in cafes while a lot of our youth were sitting around and not applying for those jobs.

    Thing is, people’s job hunting is pretty variable. I’ve seen how different people are. A mate of mine spent years doing shitty jobs after his highly skilled job got made redundant, but I don’t think he was ever out of work for more than a week, and that was during the Major recession. Other people will only apply for the plum jobs doing what they want to be doing and spend months out of work.

  41. Sadly, in a feat of reverse evolution, we’re moving away from being able to do less work.

    Thatcher’s vision was pretty simple:

    1) Everyone should be able to buy their own house
    2) Everyone should have a private pension
    3) Roll on to 55 / 60, then (if you wish), be in a position to tell your boss goodbye and the government to go screw itself,

    Major understood this aspiration as well. Something to do with their relatively insecure backgrounds?

  42. Here’s a new idea for Labour that’s guaranteed to win them power at the next election:

    Jump off the green/CAGW band wagon and start setting the Tories up as being to blame for destroying the UK energy supply system. Then, when the power cuts start happening in a few year’s time you’ll be ideally positioned to grab the lion’s share of the vote.

    There are enough Tories with their snouts in the ‘renewables’ trough, (If the cap fits, Lord Deben.) to easily blame them for the coming disaster and the opportunities for corporation bashing will be endless.

    The only fly in the ointment will be that UKIP has been banging that drum for a while now, but your friends in the media can soon take care of that little problem.

    Do the same north of the border since the SNP will be even easier to blame for the mess, and you could even win back Scotland.

    What do you mean, Ed Miliband brought in the Climate Change Act and nearly every labour MP voted for it? What is this hypocrisy word you keep saying? These are politicians we’re talking about. And Labour politicians to boot. Honesty? Consistency? Forget it.

  43. “And if they can’t, for legitimate reasons, work for a few months? We’d still want them to eat, wouldn’t we?”

    Up until a hundred years ago, this wasn’t governments’ job. It still shouldn’t be.

    “Charity is not a function of government.” – GC

  44. Gamecock,

    “Up until a hundred years ago, this wasn’t governments’ job. It still shouldn’t be.”

    And if charities don’t do it, what happens next? Some guy is just going to what, shrivel up and die? Or do you think he’ll maybe put a rock through your window and rob from you in order to feed himself? What’s that now going to cost you?

  45. “And if charities don’t do it, what happens next? ”

    Maybe you could take out YOUR wallet and help them.

  46. Steve nails the UBI. To put it a little differently…If UBI is high enough to compensate folk for the abolished welfare safety net, it will encourage free-riding and idleness. And if it’s low enough to discourage free-riding and incentivise work, it won’t compensate people for the loss of the welfare safety net. Either way, there’ll be upward pressure on the UBI, with dire consequences as the electorate votes itself a pay rise at every election.

  47. Either way, there’ll be upward pressure on the UBI, with dire consequences as the electorate votes itself a pay rise at every election.

    The party that promised cuts to welfare spending is currently in government, cutting away at benefits and tax credits that I think over half of the households in this country receive. So I’m not sure you’re correct.

  48. Thing is, people’s job hunting is pretty variable. I’ve seen how different people are. A mate of mine spent years doing shitty jobs after his highly skilled job got made redundant, but I don’t think he was ever out of work for more than a week, and that was during the Major recession. Other people will only apply for the plum jobs doing what they want to be doing and spend months out of work.

    And others will do everything they are supposed to, including applying for shitty jobs, but to no avail – because sometimes there simply isn’t enough work for all those who want it, there is lots of competitio for the pint-pulling or cafe job. And some employers are not interested in overqualified applicants.

    Incidentally, “exiting” is an interesting euphemism for losing a job because the employer struggled or became insolvent during a financial crisis.

  49. The Stigler – I’d just spend all day in the holodeck with Anne Hathaway

    As long as the software knows to edit her pointy elbows.

    Theophrastus – thanks.

    Ukliberty – it’s a political problem, not just an economic one. I don’t think many folks doubt that a UBI makes good sense in theory.

    It’s whether we could make it work in practice given the political dynamics of the UK. I’ve mentioned immigration controls and my scepticism over whether we would ever achieve the mass public sector sackings that a UBI would permit and possibly require.

    You quite rightly bring up the last general election as a counter example to the problem of the electorate being bribed with taxpayer cash post-UBI. But I think there’s an important psychological and political difference.

    Most voters don’t consider themselves to be welfare cases. Even those receiving child benefits and tax credits. The Tories promised welfare cuts, but they were vague, unspecified cuts.

    UBI would be different, for similar reasons to why libertarians sometimes argue that NI should be clearly listed as a tax on wage slips and that shops should make the cost of VAT more obvious to consumers.

    UBI would make every voter a welfare recipient, with no caveat or strings attached. No room to pretend otherwise. The State would be handing us all our pocket money, and we’d take it willingly. Gordon Brown would have loved it. And the simplicity and transparency of the scheme would itself be a potential problem. Because the common man or woman would be presented with a simple, clear and unambiguous choice at every election: do you want your UBI to go up?

    So instead of the average voter hearing “welfare cuts” and thinking “good, bout time those scroungers worked for a living”, they’d be thinking “MY basic income hasn’t risen in a while, I DESERVE a pay rise!”

    And who’s going to argue against that? Not any ambitious politician. It could put all welfare payments in the same basket as the NHS and the state pension – increasingly unaffordable, but electoral kryptonite for anybody wanting to rein in the costs.

    Granted, the present welfare system is also shite, and less rational than a UBI. I’m just not sure there’s a magic bullet to get us out of the mess we’re in with welfare.

  50. Don’t forget that the flip side of a UBI is fairly hefty taxation on the money that people do earn from employment, possibly as high as 50%, in order to fund the UBI. Thus any party suggesting raising the UBI would have to raise tax rates on all workers, which would be a majority of voters, so its not going to get any more shrift that suggesting raising tax rates to pay higher welfare payments would now. In fact I’d say facing a marginal tax rate of 50% and rising would be a hefty incentive for workers to not vote for higher UBI payments.

    My argument against a UBI is based on the fact that vast swathes of the UK underclass get far more than a UBI today, plus housing, but are unemployable, and incapable of running their own lives. Giving them £130/wk and saying ‘Get on with it’ would undoubtedly result in starving people (and kids) in the gutters. A UBI would never survive the social disruption it would cause. I have always said you can reform welfare in many ways (UBIs, lifetime limited welfare payments etc etc) but at the end of the day whatever reforms you decide upon you have to be prepared to let people die because of their own failure to manage, or the reform fails. Once you have a system that effectively allows people exhibiting poor behaviour/decision making to not only survive but also flourish, then any reforms worth their salt will undoubtedly result in Darwinian deaths. If you are not prepared to countenance such deaths, then you might as well not bother trying to change things at all.

  51. When was the last time jobs exceeded unemployed? Have never figured out the unemployed.
    Took me a month, with 2 disabilities, to get a job once. Wife managed it in 2 weeks, in her mid 40s and claimed benefits for a whole 14 days in a 29 year working life.

  52. Steve,

    “As long as the software knows to edit her pointy elbows.”

    Seriously, how is that what you’re getting from that photograph?

    On the UBI points, I think it probably will benefit the economy, but you raise some valid points about the potential downsides. My biggest concern with the left’s perspective on it is that they don’t see it from the perspective of getting rid of benefit traps but just that it’s more clients and more free money for their clients. That’s the game that Labour are in: increasing the size of the state to create more state employees, leading to more union members. Until someone can find another way to fund Labour, that’s what they’ll keep doing.

  53. steve, those are fair points. But I don’t think anyone has suggested basic income is a magic bullet. Everything has trade-offs.

    We’ve tried different things to tackle worklessness. I think we’ve tried all the things mentioned in this thread. In ye olden times we had no welfare state. Over the centuries we tried punishing the able-bodied jobless with the stocks, whipping them out of town, branding, burning them through the ear and two years of slavery if caught able-bodied without work. I don’t know what effect those had on the unemployment rate but many remained unemployed.

    We tried charity, mandatory charity, houses of corrections, workhouses, public works and the Speenhamland system (a kind of parish-specific basic income – Frances Coppola has written about that).

    We’ve tried contributory benefits, non-contributory benefits, a “hodge-podge” (Mirrlees) of taxes, reliefs, allowances, benefits, credits etc, with work disincentives arising from the variety of marginal withdrawal rates not just because it’s ‘money-for-nothing’. We’ve tried making that more simple but screwed up the IT.

    I’m inclined in favour of the Citizen’s Income Trust’s outline proposal: £72 a week for 25-65 year olds (<25s get less, 65+ get more), replacing about ten taxes, reliefs, allowances, benefits, credits, perhaps phased in to mitigate effects on losers (although Osborne may have taken care of that problem with his recent budget, in that there might be rather fewer losers if UBI were deployed from today). It doesn't replace housing benefit because that needs some special attention – partly because the benefit is paid to households not individuals. The Trust's scheme was designed to be revenue neutral so it would cost no more in taxes than the system at the time.

    Basic income and similar things like negative income tax have been experimented with in a few different places in the past few decades – in third world countries and the USA. We could consider the results of those experiments and do more experiments, perhaps in Britain somewhere, and consider the results of them. We could consider UBI, the two tax-and-benefits systems we currently have, the systems around the world and realistic ones that have been proposed, and try to determine which is the least bad and deploy it.

  54. I just want to make a couple of points about unemployment, rather than the UBI.

    Firstly, it is that unemployment tends to manifest at the bottom, and the moreso the more rational people are. If somebody was doing a £50k job but there are no £50k jobs available, they downgrade (or whatever the term should be) to a less qualified, £40k job. (Yes I am oversimplifying here but I hope the point is clear). Now there’s oversupply at £40k, so some downgrade to £30k and so on… leading to the people who in better times did the minimum wage jobs being shuffled off the bottom rung by competition from people who are more competitive. So, the unemployed (and in bad economic times, unemployable) tend to be the least able.

    Now there is a tendency to tell them to upskill, but we need to be honest and admit that some people just aren’t ever going to be much skilled at anything, and they need broom-pushing jobs. People with learning disabilities as we call it now. And yes, people with other health problems and disabilities.

    The problem I see here is that people talk about getting jobs, and miss the point that (lump of labour and all that), all persons in the workforce are not equal. Most people particularly the said lower skilled cohort are not capable of creating jobs. They can only compete for the jobs that others create. They don’t have the skills, the capital, the network connections, etc (particularly the capital). Creating and running a successful business is hard. It’s a real skill. So, they are reliant on the “provision” of jobs by others- those who can and do create jobs. Which in fact is more likely to be the redundant £50k worker than the redundant £10k worker.

    This is why the whole rhetoric of forcing people off the dole doesn’t really make much sense. Sure, some scroungers can be pushed into jobs, but they aren’t creating one by your doing so- they are just displacing some other jobseeker. This is not to deny that there are good reasons for avoiding anyone being a longterm dole scrounger. But it does illustrate that bullying people at the bottom of the ladder on the dole isn’t going to improve the unemployment figures.

    I don’t think there has been a point since the 1970s when there has been an undersupply of labour. The oversupply expands and contracts with the economy. But one only has to look at the fierce competition to get a job (I was helping a “learning difficulties” woman fill in an application form for a shelf stacking job longer than the Book of Isaiah just the other day, FFS) compared to the “we’ll try you for a week” of the good old days to realise that this is not an economy suffering a worker shortage.

    It’s my view as previously stated that the new “living wage” will remove another couple of rungs from the bottom of the ladder.

  55. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Now there is a tendency to tell them to upskill, but we need to be honest and admit that some people just aren’t ever going to be much skilled at anything, and they need broom-pushing jobs.”

    That is true. But it is not as if there is ever likely to be a shortage of broom-pushing jobs – and at this level it is not intelligence that makes a good worker but reliability.

    “Most people particularly the said lower skilled cohort are not capable of creating jobs. They can only compete for the jobs that others create. They don’t have the skills, the capital, the network connections, etc (particularly the capital).”

    Immigrants from South and East Asia don’t seem to be having a big problem as long as their parents were not cousins. Britain has a long tradition of the working class starting out as barrow boys. There have always been markets run by people of very limited education. I doubt most pubs were started by former Lehmans workers.

    “Which in fact is more likely to be the redundant £50k worker than the redundant £10k worker.”

    I am not sure. I think that Institutionalisation is a problem for the institutionalised. A lot of middle management, I would guess, could not survive outside their safe corporate world.

    “This is why the whole rhetoric of forcing people off the dole doesn’t really make much sense. Sure, some scroungers can be pushed into jobs, but they aren’t creating one by your doing so- they are just displacing some other jobseeker.”

    They may or may not create a job. But someone will. Forcing people off the dole makes perfect sense. There is no reason why an able bodied adult male should be getting any money from the rest of us at all.

    “But it does illustrate that bullying people at the bottom of the ladder on the dole isn’t going to improve the unemployment figures.”

    There is now a lot of evidence to the contrary.

  56. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “And if they can’t, for legitimate reasons, work for a few months? We’d still want them to eat, wouldn’t we?”

    Would we? In China people get nothing from the government at all. And yet since they stopped playing with Marxism, people still eat. More to the point, because the government does not give them anything, they have to save a great deal for unexpected contingencies like health problems. For a still poor country, the Chinese save a lot.

    British people do not.

    “So, you then have two ways to deal with that. Either you just make sure everyone can eat via a simple flat income, or you create a huge politicized state bureaucracy with a gazillion complex rules and benefits which tries to distinguish between “good beneficiaries” and “bad beneficiaries”, and mostly fails at that because the idle game the system and do things to pass the rules. In the process, we create a load of terrible incentives leading the benefit trap and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.”

    Or we don’t do either. There weren’t a lot of people starving in Britain in the 1950s. They had jobs. They had husbands. They cleaned their front steps. How is modern Britain going by these standards?

    I am fine with a genuine insurance scheme for the unemployed. Workers can contribute some of their own money and get a few months salary if they get laid off. As long as it is private, fully funded by said workers and does not cause a drain on the rest of us. This is one of the many cases where false compassion has made a bad situation worse. People need to accept, from the start, that they need to make a living. They owe it to their families and even society. There are no valid excuses for failure. If you want to spend your thirties as an experimental poet, fine. But people should despise you.

  57. Ian B,

    “I don’t think there has been a point since the 1970s when there has been an undersupply of labour. The oversupply expands and contracts with the economy. But one only has to look at the fierce competition to get a job (I was helping a “learning difficulties” woman fill in an application form for a shelf stacking job longer than the Book of Isaiah just the other day, FFS) compared to the “we’ll try you for a week” of the good old days to realise that this is not an economy suffering a worker shortage.”

    Large application forms are more about big companies. I worked in a small software house and we brought in a clerk/dogsbody and they didn’t even have an application form. It was send in a CV for the ad and when we chose someone she just had to fill in a form with her details which was a standard form from the HR woman (which was pretty straightforward).

  58. So Much for Subtlety

    Anne Hathaway’s Pointy Elbows – “Large application forms are more about big companies.”

    And the government. Try getting a civil service job these days. The government makes it harder to fire people, so it becomes harder to hire them too. You have to ask about a lot more. Because, you know, civilisation will end if we don’t know how many South Asian pansexuals are working in Slough.

    The solution to the government making bad things worse is rarely even more government.

  59. SMFS-

    But it is not as if there is ever likely to be a shortage of broom-pushing jobs – and at this level it is not intelligence that makes a good worker but reliability.

    Except that the minimum wage makes low productivity jobs like simple broom pushing illegal, since it prohibits the hiring of anyone whose productivity is less than £9.00/hr, as it will be.

    Immigrants from South and East Asia don’t seem to be having a big problem as long as their parents were not cousins. Britain has a long tradition of the working class starting out as barrow boys. There have always been markets run by people of very limited education. I doubt most pubs were started by former Lehmans workers.

    Many of those immigrants have higher productivity than the bottom end of the native bell curve, which is the point I’m trying to address.

    Victorian pubs were not founded under current conditions. No minimum wage for a start, or COSSSH or whatever.

    They may or may not create a job. But someone will. Forcing people off the dole makes perfect sense. There is no reason why an able bodied adult male should be getting any money from the rest of us at all.

    I admire your boundless optimism, however economically illiterate it is. You’re doing that thing of “this will happen because I think it ought to happen”. As I explained, pushing from the bottom doesn’t create jobs. It wasn’t hard to understand. “Somebody will create a job” is no better than the socialists’ “somebody will pay”.

    There is now a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    I’d like to see it. (That was rhetorical). Falling unemployment after a crash, as the economy tries to recover, is to be expected (you have to be as shit stupid as Roosevelt to prevent it). So, Dimwit Smith’s reforms correlating to falling unemployment doesn’t amount to causation. Falling unemployment due to entrepreneurs setting up new businesses in the wake of the crash is the default explanation, and none of that would be affected by harsh treatment of the unemployed since, as I said, those prone to sanctioning aren’t the type to set up a business.

  60. There weren’t a lot of people starving in Britain in the 1950s. They had jobs. They had husbands.

    What, even the men?

    They also had the Welfare State (1945) by the way. And huge nationalised industries. I can never quite understand why the Right idealise the 1950s; it was the most (economically) socialist period in British history.

  61. There weren’t a lot of people starving in Britain in the 1950s.

    No indeed. Thanks to the National Insurance Act and National Assistance Act everyone was entitled to welfare payments if they needed them.

    Before that there was the Poor Law and workhouses.

    Even without being threatened with starvation unless they work, I’m sceptical that there are many people who would choose to live on a UBI set at the level of JSA if they could earn significantly more by getting a job. What the UBI would achieve is to abolish the withdrawals trap. What Osborne has just done by increasing the taper on tax benefits is to make the trap worse.

  62. So Much for Subtlety

    Ian B – “Except that the minimum wage makes low productivity jobs like simple broom pushing illegal, since it prohibits the hiring of anyone whose productivity is less than £9.00/hr, as it will be.”

    So we are back to the idea that because government policy has screwed things up, the solution is more government policy. I think the sensible thing is for the government to step back and stop meddling. No minimum wage laws. No welfare.

    “Many of those immigrants have higher productivity than the bottom end of the native bell curve, which is the point I’m trying to address.”

    Do they? Why is a peasant from rural Bangladesh more productive than a Cockney yoof?

    “Victorian pubs were not founded under current conditions. No minimum wage for a start, or COSSSH or whatever.”

    Indeed. Good old days. The middle class is not such a good job creator. I expect that most jobs are the work of the poorly educated – not just pubs but cafes, hair dressers, restaurants and so on.

    “I admire your boundless optimism, however economically illiterate it is. You’re doing that thing of “this will happen because I think it ought to happen”. As I explained, pushing from the bottom doesn’t create jobs.”

    I disagree. Pushing the bottom does create jobs. There is a clearing price for labour like everything else. If we have unemployment it is because wages are too high.

    “I’d like to see it. (That was rhetorical).”

    States that were granted waivers from AFDC program rules to run mandatory welfare-to-work programs were also required to rigorously evaluate the success of their programs. As a result, many types of mandatory welfare-to-work programs were evaluated in the early 1990s. While reviews of such programs found that almost all programs led to significant increases in employment and reductions in welfare rolls, there was little evidence that income among former welfare recipients had increased.
    ….
    Discussions about the effectiveness of TANF by policymakers and proponents of welfare reform has centered on the rapid decline in the number of families on welfare since TANF went into effect. Indeed, if measured by the reduction in welfare caseloads, TANF has been a success. Between 1996 and 2000, the number of welfare recipients plunged by 6.5 million, or 53% nationally. Furthermore, the number of caseloads was lower in 2000 than at any time since 1969, and the percentages of persons receiving public assistance income (less than 3%) was the lowest on record.
    ….
    One of the major goals of TANF was to increase work among welfare recipients. During the post-welfare reform period, employment did increase among single mothers. Single mothers with children showed little changes in their labor force participation rates throughout the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, but between 1994-1999, their labor force participation rose by 10%.[6] Among welfare recipients, the percentage that reported earnings from employment increased from 6.7% in 1990 to 28.1% by 1999.

    During the 1990s, poverty among single-mother and their families declined rapidly from 35.4% in 1992 to 24.7% in 2000, a new historic low.

    “and none of that would be affected by harsh treatment of the unemployed since, as I said, those prone to sanctioning aren’t the type to set up a business.”

    And yet if workers are cheaper more will be hired.

    Ian B – “What, even the men?”

    Britain was always surprisingly progressive.

    Social Justice Warrior – “Before that there was the Poor Law and workhouses.”

    Good old days.

    “Even without being threatened with starvation unless they work, I’m sceptical that there are many people who would choose to live on a UBI set at the level of JSA if they could earn significantly more by getting a job.”

    Ahh, the old “I don’t see how a human could emerge from pond slime so therefore evolution is a lie” argument. Or more likely Pauline Kael’s “No one I know would be content to sit around all day smoking weed”.

    You need to get out more.

  63. SMFS-

    Since the implementation of TANF occurred during a period of strong economic growth, there are questions about how much of the decline in caseloads is attributable to TANF program requirements. First, the number of caseloads began declining after 1994, the year with the highest number of caseloads, well before the enactment of TANF, suggesting that TANF was not solely responsible for the caseload decline. Research suggests that both changes in welfare policy and economic growth played a substantial role in this decline, and that no larger than one-third of the decline in caseloads is attributable to TANF

    Same Wiki article, that. As I said earlier, if you’re in a boom, unemployment naturally falls. Correlation does not equal causation, and all that.

  64. But it is not as if there is ever likely to be a shortage of broom-pushing jobs – and at this level it is not intelligence that makes a good worker but reliability.

    There’s a huge shortage: nowadays a broom-pushing job would require the employer to stump up for lots of safety clothing and equipment plus hours of training, and the employee to have the ability to absorb this training and probably have some sort of certificate in differentiating between bleach, paint, and water. Just handing Trigger a broom doesn’t work these days, and so these jobs are fast fading.

  65. Do they? Why is a peasant from rural Bangladesh more productive than a Cockney yoof?

    For starters, if the Cockney yoof went to an inner-city state school then the Bangladeshi peasant is probably better educated.

  66. Have done broom pushing and wiped shitty bottoms for low wages.
    Everyone starts somewhere.

    Just some want to start as CEo without the skills, experience or ability…..

  67. You need to get out more.
    There speaks the man who never allows facts to get in the way of his prejudices. In reality, only a small fraction of unemployed people are long-term unemployed. If it’s important to reduce that fraction, we should not be increasing the effective marginal tax rate for the low paid.

  68. SJW

    I’m sceptical that there are many people who would choose to live on a UBI set at the level of JSA if they could earn significantly more by getting a job

    Even if it could be made to work, I’m very confident that national output would fall with a UBI, and for the simple reason that there are millions of people for whom UBI would be looked at with some curiosity, the response would be “OK, that’s nice”, and then the total output of those people would fall.

    Count me (potentially) as one of those. It would not occur to me (and probably most people I know) ever to claim any benefit, and yet, now I am being given free money (not a relief against money earned), for doing absolutely nothing. And ally that with the very high marginal tax rates that must inevitably follow for doing work, and which may discourage marginal levels of “additional effort”..??

    This would be “encouraging” a fundamental (and highly adverse) change in culture amongst many millions of people, and which is completely unnecessary, and which would undoubtedly result in a material fall in national output.

    If you could apply the concept of UBI simply to those who might otherwise take benefits, and leave the remaining millions of us to carry on as before? In some way? Perhaps UBI comes with a proviso of some sort that when you choose to go off UBI there is some real advantage? Yes, I know that takes the Universal out of it but…

  69. Paul / Tim

    Vicious marginal tax rates / UBI would make it better for those on benefits – I agree, but not “in respect of” the rest of us.

    Hence, perhaps try removing the U?

  70. I wouldn’t be happy to live on £72 a week, even with housing benefit on top – my jobs have all been above the median wage, I like frequent nights out in London and holidays overseas.
    You people who would be happy on £72 a week, why don’t you go on benefits and let someone else have your spot at work? You’d only have to visit the JobCentre fortnightly with a list of what jobs you claim to have applied for.

  71. On the mincome and NIT experiments in Canada and the USA in the 20th century:
    … the fear that a negative income tax would cause some segment of the population to completely withdraw from the labour force was not confirmed by the experiments. None of the experiments found evidence of such behaviour; the lower work effort of the treatment group relative to the control group took the form of increased weeks of unemployment between jobs, or fewer hours worked per week, but not the wholesale labour market withdrawal critics feared. The distinction between these two different types of work disincentive effects has not been well understood and opponents of the basic income guarantee continue to voice this fear despite the lack of experimental evidence for it.

    … the cost of the programme was not so great as to make necessarily make the programme technically untenable. Critics of the guaranteed income have feared that work effort reductions would greatly increase the cost of the programme, requiring a large increase in taxes, which would further discourage work, and ultimately lead to the collapse of the programme. Certainly, whether this would happen depends on the level of the guarantee. It would inevitably happen if the minimum income was set near per capita national income, leaving a negligible work incentive, and certainly it would not happen with a guarantee level of $1 a year which would have a negligible work disincentive, but the results implied that a guarantee level between 50 per cent and 150 per cent of the official poverty level would be financially tenable.

    … there was a statistically significant work disincentive effect and that work disincentive increased the cost of the programme over what it would have been if work hours were unaffected by the NIT. Although these results were completely expected, they were reported in the press (see part 5) as if they were the critical findings of the experiments, and they largely shaped political and media perceptions that the experiments proved the failure of the guaranteed income.
    Because the work disincentive effects of the NIT were greater than negligible but not so large as to make the programme unaffordable, the meaning of the figures depends on how large is large and how small is small. The work-disincentive effect seems to have been just enough that supporters can claim it to be small and opponents can claim it to be large. …

    – Widerquist 2002.
    There’s more in the paper.

  72. “Quite so: as my recent report for the ASI pointed out.”

    UKLiberty

    I wouldn’t be happy to live on £72 a week, even with housing benefit on top – my jobs have all been above the median wage, I like frequent nights out in London and holidays overseas. You people who would be happy on £72 a week, why don’t you go on benefits and let someone else have your spot at work? You’d only have to visit the JobCentre fortnightly with a list of what jobs you claim to have applied for

    This. Anyone who says to the contrary haven’t experienced real life.

  73. “Quite so: as my recent report for the ASI pointed out.”

    forgot my lines

    Narcissistic twaddle, and as per, I haven’t even read it.

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