So we’re told about Victorian poverty

In The Guardian, of course, a reply to which being:

“The solution he proposed was what he called a “universal pension for life”, or what we now call a universal basic income.”

Excellent, we now have this. It’s called the welfare state. Wages for an unskilled worker in Dublin in 1900 were some 20 shillings a week. That’s, accounting for inflation, some £350 a week today. Obviously, a rough number. The benefits cap is some £390 a week currently.

Note that our unskilled labourer isn’t quite what Shaw was denouncing as that poverty, that destitution. But still, we’ve a guide there. Society today is so vastly richer that what, back then, was considered a basic working wage is today what people do get, around and about, as a universal income. No, I don’t say that everyone gets near the benefits cap today but there’s certainly no one at all living in Shaw’s poverty.

So, we’ve done it.

What’s left is relative poverty, not absolute poverty. Note that even Barbara Castle agreed, 40 years ago, that true penury had already been abolished back then.

People really do, as here, forget quite how poor the past was, quite how different their definition of poverty to our.

27 thoughts on “So we’re told about Victorian poverty”

  1. I heard on radio that “inflation” today takes into account the cost of computer games. Some poverty.

  2. The Unused Testicle

    I see the BBC were wailing about the huge leap in inflation (from 2.9% to 3%).

    Someone could have told them this was no problem at all.

    But if wailing turns out to be popular, I’m sure that person will be telling us all it’s a disaster.

  3. @Alan Douglas: See also the BBC interview with the woman campaigning for free sanitary towels for ‘poor women’, most of whom had tattoos, manicured nails & freshly-cut hair.

  4. Off topic but I’m wondering.

    Would there have been as many complaints as are now emerging about Harvey Weinstein if he hadn’t been a fat slob?

    If he’d had a great body and looked like Paul Newman but had done just the same things?

    Just wondering.

    On the poverty thing. I went on the Guardian website but I just couldn’t be bothered to post.

    Fighting the left intellectually is like fighting a mile high pile of cold custard.

  5. Andrew C

    ‘Fighting the left intellectually is like fighting a mile high pile of cold custard.’

    With merely the aid of a soggy lettuce.

    A losing battle:
    – They ignore data
    – Change tack as soon as they don’t understand or realise they are losing
    – insult you and look down on you as a immoral, baby-eating bastard of monumental proportions and as the cause of everything bad.

    and then say something along the lines of..
    What about Pinochet then?

    I have a woman friend who claimed she was really worried for me with my drift to the right, she didn’t want to have to withdraw her friendship. You can imagine my answer..

  6. I heard on radio that “inflation” today takes into account the cost of computer games. Some poverty.

    Inflation isn’t a measure of poverty though, it is a measure of the rate of change of prices.

  7. If he’d had a great body and looked like Paul Newman but had done just the same things?

    Oh, thanks, I’m flattered…oh, wait. Paul. Always f*ckin’ Paul. 🙁

  8. Rob – The point is we now consider the price of computer games as something that we are concerned with so much, that we deem it worthy of being included in a measure of general prices. That suggests we are doing rather well on the cutting poverty point, if we have time to worry about computer game prices

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    Off topic but I am looking at the Guardian site and there is a story about a piece of modern Art by some Token British artists from South Asia in Versailles that they are calling the Queen’s Vagina. Queen’s ar$ehole more like.

    Someone has sprayed it with anti-Semitic graffiti.

    So they have *NINE* articles on that site talking about it.

    Good to see that the Guardian maintains a sense of perspective. But I wonder how many people here had heard of this artist and his butthole before today?

  10. On the examples given the the usual suspects as ‘proof’ of poverty etc, there was a good one on the BBC the other day, ‘We earn £50k/yr but can’t buy a house in Cambridge!’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/41639836/buying-a-house-made-impossible-by-rental-costs)

    A combined income of £50k should net a couple £40k/yr (assuming they both earn £25k each), say £1000/pcm for rent, that leaves £28k to live on and save out of. £300/week for bills and spends, leaves £13k a year to save. 4-5 years should have a 20% deposit for £250k (which will buy you somewhere in Cambridge, maybe not a mansion, but a start. They of course want to buy in the dearer end of town…) If you were prepared to slum it in house shares you could probably nearly halve the rent cost and reduce the saving years to 3.

    I bet if you went through their income and expenditure it would be stuffed with holidays, two cars, and all manner of unnecessary spending. But of course its now everyone’s human rights to spend like a sailor on shore leave AND be able to buy a big house too.

  11. Modern definition of poverty : Having an iPhone 7 rather than an iPhone 8.

    Seriously ; never ceases to amaze me the correlation between owning iPhones (or other v. expensive smartphones) and claimed poverty.

    I think it’s because they’re stupid with money and think the phone is “free”

  12. @Jim ; I remember a few weeks ago listening to a young teacher complaining on LBC that she couldn’t save the deposit on a house and how unfair it was etc etc

    The thing was, on her own admission she lived with and off her parents and paid some rent etc. “when she could afford it”.

    A starting teacher earns £25,000 a year roughly (possibly more with allowances and the increments the public sector keeps quiet about), and apart from travel to work, what did she spend it on ?

    My daughter is in the same position, except she earns about half that, and she’s stacking away money like there’s no tomorrow.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Worstall – “Skeletally thin I hear.”

    The sad thing is he might have problems paying for his round these days but he would still be pulling the best birds.

    Fame is a b!tch innit?

  14. Some creep called “mobman” posted this shite after Tim’s comment over on the Gladrag:

    “Children living in bed and breakfast (so called ) with their parents in one room , no cooking facilities , shared bathrooms.”

    How many? And how did they get there? Do the parents work and if not what made them think they could support a child(ren) without doing so? How long have and will they be in digs? For ever? If they have had bad luck but are looking for work and a better life they would get there quicker without the socialist economics and state meddling/control that blight society and are advocated by the well-off middle-class left.

    ” Homeless people living on the street and numbers growing.”

    Most of whom are mentally ill and/or alcoholics ( and men btw) and have been offered places but won’t take them or won’t stay in them. With a smaller number of recent teenaged runaways from bad homes. Hardly society’s fault or a permanent condition unless the economic stagnation and ossification of society caused by socialism makes it so.

    “Food banks and debt to buy essentials or pay for clothing.”

    Food banks mostly cover the state’s incompetence in payouts and the foodbank caper is just deceitful socialist bullshit. If this society was full of people only a few food handoffs away from death-by-starvation the streets would be full of thin, skeletal souls with lean, gaunt, livid faces and desperate eyes. In fact and reality the streets are full of fucking fat whales and most you see are carrying a spare tire of some sort. Regardless of their “poverty”.

    ” Payday loan and with hellish interest rates.”

    Caused by what? Low wages? Then how come everybody on low wages isn’t using them? A few may be genuine emergencies but most will be the feckless on the job. And the huge interest rates are because of a high probability that the said feckless won’t be repaying the money any time soon.

    “Universal credit where it is ok for those with no savings to wait six weeks and get into more debt or worse lose their homes.”

    Tim’s point–the endless and inevitable bungling of the state-and you want them to have whatever more power they want–because you are sure it won’t ever be used against middle-class leftists like yourself.

    ” Overcrowded prisons with high numbers of people who grew up in ‘care’ , the most vulnerable.”

    More state bungling then. The state’s “care” being a notorious breeding ground for sex abuse and a college of crime.

    “All sounds like absolute poverty to me Tim.”

    And it sounds like ordinary human vices mixed in with the evil power and bungling of the state to me.

  15. On homelessness, I was gobsmacked when the British Red Cross accidentally put up numbers showing 35% or so of the people they helped in London were here illegally. It seems that failed asylum claimants are not deported as it costs, we just hope they’ll go voluntarily ( unlike Germany which pays them to go ).
    And with the increasing support of mosques and other charities the homeless foreigner can stay longer.
    I like our way over the German approach, but the reasons for the rise in rough sleeping needs better explaining.

  16. “And it sounds like ordinary human vices mixed in with the evil power and bungling of the state to me.”

    And the fact the the BBC et al can’t find any real ‘it wasn’t my fault I did everything I could but still have ended up with jack shit’ cases, and have to resort to a constant parade of people who have ended up in the shit by their own bad choices tells one everything one needs to know about ‘poverty’ in the UK, namely it doesn’t exist, other than the consequence of being an idiot. Try looking for hard cases in really poor countries, and you’ll not have difficulty finding them.

    Vast swathes of the public now have what I term ‘learned helplessness’. That is to say, they have learned from an early age that if you act helplessly you will get assistance from someone else. However stupid you behave, however little thought for the future you make, someone somewhere will pick up the pieces for you. Hence its ingrained in their nature, you can no more change it than their way of walking.

  17. Off topic but I am looking at the Guardian site and there is a story about a piece of modern Art by some Token British artists from South Asia in Versailles

    That’s typical of the sort of shite they put in Versailles. I’ve been there twice, it’s completely overrated. Fontainebleau or one of the other chateaux are much nicer.

  18. Seriously ; never ceases to amaze me the correlation between owning iPhones (or other v. expensive smartphones) and claimed poverty.

    Last year I spent a couple of weeks in Harlem. This is a place full of housing projects with half the population on food stamps, but every second person had an iPhone.

  19. @Paul – I do have sympathy for youngsters trying to get on the housing ladder, even those who seem to have it fairly easy.

    If you assume LBC girl spends five years at home and saves £50k, while her salary goes up to £30k, that leaves her with about £150k spending power. Not a lot in London and the SE.

    The other thing that makes me sympathise with this girl, even if she’s lucky to have her family, even if she’s moaning unduly, is that she’s got a job, she’s being a citizen.

    London is full of people who don’t and won’t work, housed and funded by the state. It’s full of people who rock up from the other side of the world, who are housed and funded by the state. Sometimes both these groups of people are living on very valuable land.

    We can house the native wasters more cheaply in the provinces. We can stop behaving as if we owe the dregs of the bazaar a living.

    Young teachers might then be able to rationally aspire to home ownership.

  20. @Alan Douglas: See also the BBC interview with the woman campaigning for free sanitary towels for ‘poor women’, most of whom had tattoos, manicured nails & freshly-cut hair.

    A fairly accurate proxy for the ‘poverty’ level in a British town is the number of nail bars and tattoo parlours to be found on the high street.

  21. Bloke in North Dorset

    Jim,

    “I bet if you went through their income and expenditure it would be stuffed with holidays, two cars, and all manner of unnecessary spending. But of course its now everyone’s human rights to spend like a sailor on shore leave AND be able to buy a big house too.”

    Its more basic than that.

    My wife sometimes watches a program where families are trying to economise and the presenters highlight their shopping habits, starting by secretly filming them shopping. It’s staggering how much people spend on food without even thinking, throwing all sorts of high priced brand stuff in to their shopping baskets with gay abandon.

    By the end of the program, when they’ve had to live on blind cooked supermarket brands they’re saving a fortune and can’t tell the difference.

  22. @MC “If you assume LBC girl spends five years at home and saves £50k, while her salary goes up to £30k, that leaves her with about £150k spending power. Not a lot in London and the SE.”

    Perhaps not. But she was arguing she couldn’t save anything for her deposit.

  23. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “That’s typical of the sort of shite they put in Versailles. I’ve been there twice, it’s completely overrated. Fontainebleau or one of the other chateaux are much nicer.”

    My theory is that they know they are baboons capering around the monuments built by giants. They know they cannot hope to aspire to do that well. So they feel a need to put their faeces-smearing art works in a place that will deliberately vandalise great art sites in order to still their unquiet conscience. If they stepped back and let people look at these sort of sites as they were built, people might start to think.

    Tim Newman – “Last year I spent a couple of weeks in Harlem. This is a place full of housing projects with half the population on food stamps, but every second person had an iPhone.”

    Obama had a special welfare programme so that people like you could pay for the feral underclass’s mobile phones.

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