Inequality

All the main parties believe in equality of opportunity. There are various policies pursued to try to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds a decent chance in life. There is no disagreement about the aim.
All the main parties also agree that the tax and benefit system should narrow inequalities of outturn. All believe in taxing the rich more, and giving more benefits to the worse off. The political argument again is not about aim, but about the means and extent of the transfers.
The left like to portray the UK as a uniquely unequal society. The traditional method of measuring it, the Gini coefficient, shows the UK within the typical European range for inequality. We are more equal than Italy, Spain or Greece, but less equal than the Scandinavian countries. Our rating is almost the same as Switzerland’s, the richest European country.
If a country is too unequal or becomes more unequal because the poor are getting poorer, then it has a serious social issue which it needs to address. In the decade up to the financial crash under Labour there was a serious problem, with the lowest 10% of incomes not joining in the general advance in living standards enjoyed by all other income groups. If a country becomes less equal because it attracts some very rich people at the top, that is less of a worry. Compare the following two models:

In Group A the 9 people with an average income of £25,000 and an income range of £10,000 to £50,000 are joined by a tenth person with an income of £1 million. Income inequality has risen from a multiple of 5 to a multiple of 100, a huge rise in inequality. Average incomes have also increased, and no-one is worse off.Indeed, the nine can look forward to increasing their incomes by offering goods and services to the rich new comer.

In group B with 9 people on an average income of £25,000 with a range of £10,000 to £50,000, the poorest member of the group experiences an income fall to £8000. Income inequality goes up from 5 times to over 6 times. This does matter because the poorest has just got poorer. Average incomes fall.

Tackling inequality should be mainly about trying to get more people into jobs and once in a job into better paid jobs. The position in 2012-13 in the UK was far from satisfactory for the bottom tenth of income earners. This bottom decile earned on average just £3875 a year in income, and received £5868 in benefits to top up. This group of course included many people unable to work or unable to find a job, or on a pension. The importance of welfare reform is to get more into jobs, and I trust then to be more generous to those who are unable to work. All should participate in the general advance of real wages in the country through the tax and benefit system. Many more people are now in jobs, and wages are now moving up a bit. As the economy grows and as productivity rises, so real wages can improve more, and there will be more opportunities for people to move into better paid jobs. Both right and left should be able to agree on this.

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97 Comments

  1. Mark B
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    All the main parties believe in equality of opportunity.

    I tend to disagree with that statement.

    There to me had always been a fundamental difference between the right and left of politics. The Right have always believed the, ‘equality of opportunity’ and have always sought to removed restrictions and barriers to advancement. The Liberals once also held those views, but has long since vacated that ground.

    The Left of the political spectrum, have always believed in the ‘equality of outcome’. To them, they must engineer things that everyone is equally represented. The, “all must come first” mentality rules here.

    It is sad therefore, that the Conservative Party, and its desire to be seen a progressive and modern has pandered to the whim of the Left, and has promoted ideas, policies and people, based on gender, race, religion and the desire to maintain and celebrate mediocrity.

    Thatcherism to me was about choice and being able to make reasoned and informed decisions for ones self. It was about being able to pursue those choices without unnecessary restriction and regulation, and to either benefit from the fruits of your labours or, to take the consequences if wrong.

    The Left have never believed in any of those things. They believe that is is the duty of the state to intervene and ‘guide’ the citizen to what it thinks is the best solution and to be coerced into ‘sharing’ the spoils.

    Today we have a Conservative Party that has no shame in intervening in markets and using State Funds (Taxes and / or borrowed money) to game the system. eg subsidies to renewable’s.

    As all the other Political Parties support State intervention in both markets and the private. or now, not so private citizen, it is fair to assume that they now represent something of a political, Push-me-Pull-you ! A single creature with two heads facing the opposite direction, but heavily reliant on the other.

    The antithesis of choice and true equality !

  2. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    You cannot manage the poor into prosperity by managing the wealthy out of prosperity and what one person receives without working, another person must work without receiving.
    The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else, and you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
    When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, a nation will decline, morally and economically.
    Protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual should be the aim of all government, at all levels. People should have the freedom to earn, freedom to learn, freedom to own and to make contracts in whatever way they deem in their best interests within the rule of law.

    • Bert Young
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Dr.JR’s blog attracts many sensible responses . PrangWizard – yours is one of the best .

      • Bob
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        Hear hear!

      • Hope
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Good blog and good points made. Equality is a word politicians do not understand but try to manipulate. What is there pay rise compared to nurses? £8.4 million is the cost of SPADs after Cameron told us he was going to reduce them, he has 27 according to Guido. Let me repeat that 27. Some of these allowed to be paid for by the taxpayer and (would be wrong if ed)used for party political purposes for the Rochester by-election. Disgraceful. It sums up this waster completely. And today we have the story he broke off negotiations in Ireland to fly home for fortieth birthday preparations at Chequers. Yes, Chequers (why not his own home address?) which, we, the taxpayer pay for. What has he done to the armed services and police. Equality, please you need to have a word in Cameron’s ear and tell Osborne that giving his SPAD a 19 percent pay rise when hard working people have had a pay freeze or pay cut to finance the increase to his SPAD is outrageous. The country’s finances are in a mess and it is Osborne’s job to do some thing about it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Exactly it is immoral for the government to pay health people not to work. It damages the recipient above all, often they then never even learn to work and often pass that on through the generations.

      I do not blame the claimants much as they are reacting to the daft system. I blame the politicians and the BBC who push the evil politics of envy and then try to buy votes using other people’s money.

    • Mark B
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Perfect !

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      @prangwizard

      Indisputable post but those of us who would like more equality are hoping it is achieved through the rich and connected receiving few boosts that are not open to all.

      To quote another poster “I do not ask for more or less than others only the same.”

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        Fewer boosts – apologies

      • libertarian
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        Narrow Shoulders

        And if your imagined rich peoples boosts were completely withdrawn that would help poorer people how exactly? As JR pointed out it would massage the statistics but won’t improve a poor persons life one iota. Its the socialist policy of jealousy, not nice and counter productive.

        There is one way and one way only for people to improve their living standards and thats to work, learn, grow and achieve more. If they did that then as a society would have more social funds available to pay for the thankfully small number of people who are through no fault of their own unable to work or to find work that pays a living wage.

        By the way what is the boost that I get that others don’t, because I may be missing out on something as I don’t get anything but I pay an awful lot in.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted December 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          @libertaian

          I can not comment on your specific circumstances, I would hope you get no boosts that are not available to all. However their are many wealthy and connected people able to play the system, buy influence, use old boy networks, cronyism, nepotism and enjoy other advantages that are not open to all. These are the people and institutions I rail against not the able, hardworking, risk takers for whom I have much admiration.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

            Narrow Shoulders

            Yeh and the same goes for trade unions, charities, common purpose, single issue pressure groups and loads of others too.

            The problem is your railing against those who game the system normally ends up with policies that hurt those of us who don’t.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Great post Prang Wizard Hear Hear

    • petermartin2001
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      what one person receives without working, another person must work without receiving.

      Just on a point of information: Many on the left would agree with this statement too. Except for them, those who don’t work for their living don’t have to. They collect dividends, rents, interest payments etc. These payments are ultimately funded by those who do work.

      I would agree, to some extent, with the same sentiment, in both ways. Both in the way you mean it and the way the left take it to mean too.

      We should require that everyone do something tangible. That means we do need to think about better ways of managing our economy to ensure that everyone who genuinely wants a job can find one. If they can’t find one then we need to consider finding one for them. I’d agree that it doesn’t do anyone any good, rich or poor, to receive money for doing nothing.

      • libertarian
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Petermartin

        Yet more of your drivel

        I get dividends. I have risked everything, worked 12 hour days 6 days a week for more than 20 years to earn my dividends and whilst doing that have employed many many other people. I pay vast amounts of tax on those dividends too. You clearly have no idea about what constitutes work any more than you know how money works. That my friend is the reason you are where you are.

        As you are completely unaware of IP, copyright, intellectual capital and risk I’m assuming you’re stuck in a 19th century marxist fantasy where all capital is purely as a result of land ownership. Try waking up and looking at the world in the 21st century

        • petermartin2001
          Posted December 24, 2014 at 12:26 am | Permalink

          @libertarian,

          Drivel? Well, if so, Thomas Piketty had an recently international best seller by writing drivel. Have you read that? His point was that if the return on Capital rises faster than the growth rate of the economy, inevitably inequality will increase too. Quite why his book had to be so thick to tell us that I’m not sure. He is merely stating the obvious.

          His doesn’t seem to have any real solutions for reducing inequality, though. His ideas seem to be failed neo-classical rather than Keynesian which would impose a severe limitation on his analysis. IMO.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      And if most of the population are being oppressed by a financial aristocracy with their rights to freedom to earn, freedom to learn, freedom to own being oppressed, how do you square that off. They are all lazy and it it is not happening?

      • libertarian
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Bazman

        What are you on now? Give one piece of evidence with regard to your statement “withdrawing the right to freedom to earn ” what ever that means.

        You make it up as you go along

        • Bazman
          Posted December 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          If you are in an area with no work then you have had this right taken from you. A 50 year old man with a family cannot reasonably be expected to just up sticks and move to another area and certainly not in substantial numbers. Should they move to an area and live in a bedsit sending money home competing with East Europeans living five room/ car on minimum wage? They should? Then they are absent fathers neglecting their families you would say.
          Lets not even get started on blacklists of workers prevented from working by complaining of safety issues. Their fault or/and do not exist is you predictably wrong and deluded answer.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            Bazman

            You make it up as you go along.

            1) There is no area of the country where there is no work at all

            2) Any one is entitled to start their own business and create employment

            3) There is no such thing and never has been a “right to work” personally I think it should be mandatory that people should work

            The vanishingly small number of people blacklisted from temporary work due to rule infringements is completely immaterial as they are only prevented from working in that company and why would you want to? Are they stupid? Why not work for someone else?

            You really do talk total drivel, people like you should be ashamed of the damage you inflict on the working class of this country. etc ed

    • Terry
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Those are the 5 basic rules of Economics though it would appear that not so many of our politicians stick to them. Their priority is to be re-elected and these rules are thrown out of their Whitehall windows because they are perceived to be unpopular with most of the electorate.

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    We can clearly never get anywhere near to “equality of opportunity” (unless you are going to give everyone similar parents or take children away from their parents at birth). How can a child of two alcoholics or drug addicts ever be given equality of opportunity with someone from a middle class happy family. It is not remotely realistic. If for example someone in my family wanted to borrow say £200K to start a business or cope with some emergency then I could give it to them. How are you going to replicate that for all, nor should you even try to?

    Taking money off those who earn/use/invest it well and giving it to those who tend to waste it/spend it on drugs/alcohol etc. clearly decreases GDP and average wealth. On the other hand very serious wealth inequality can cause problems with crime. As you rightly say it can cause serious social problems. But then one of the main causes of social problems and the perpetuation of inequality is government paying healthy people (who could easily work) to remain idol and thus they never even learn how to work. Other barriers are the high cost of (hugely over taxed) transport and the daft restrictive employments laws. It is immoral for governments to perpetuation the problem in this way. No one healthy and fit should be paid to do nothing it is immoral.

    The only real poverty in the UK is among people with mental, addiction or other serious problems who simply cannot cope (or their parents are in this position). These people need help and not others money. Money tends just to make thing worse in these circumstances.

    As usual the government interventions, the daft Bishops, BBC think, daft books like the Spirit Level and Happiness “economists” are some of the main causes of the problem not the solution. Removing

    Also lefties like Cameron with his pathetic and childish happiness index (what happened to that I wonder?) How many millions wasted on it so far that could have perhaps addressed addiction and mental health problems, got people back into work or given them some job training.

    Removing the moral hazard (as governments often do) can be a very damaging thing – both for people’s development and for the economy in general. Passing daft gender insurance and pension law is similarly damaging.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Cameron’s “well being” index for those who want to see the sort of drivel governments endlessly waste money on.

      http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_377460.pdf

      Even some MP on the Daily politics yesterday supporting the vast sums the NHS spend on quack medicine in the NHS (about 5% of the budget I think they said). I would not even pay for quack/non working medicine for myself – why should I be forced to for someone else.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        As you say JR:- “There are various policies pursued to try to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds a decent chance in life.”

        Grammar Schools were perhaps the best of these policies but lefty “moderniser” Cameron does not like them of course. The aim should have been to get all those suited to Grammar Schools to go to them and all those suited to more practical skills to get a good training in these skills. With some regular interchange as would often be needed. There is certainly nothing inferior about being a good electrician, joiner, mechanic, roofer or plumber to having a degree in PPE, Divinity, Greats, Feminist studies, Humanities, Global Warming (the exaggeration of) etc. Especially one from the many second/third rate Universities we now fund.

        Quite the reverse in most situations.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        Also Cameron’s “in three letters” sound bite priority “the NHS” again fails its A&E targets and by more than ever last month.

        Worse still reported in the Mail today:

        NHS managers are reported to be ‘delaying cancer test to meet waiting targets’
        Thus putting lives at serious risk so they can tick a waiting target box – entirely typical – and a complete outrage. Up to 25 weeks following an “urgent” GP referral it seems.

        Just the stress thus caused by the delay and uncertainty is a total outrage.

        Free at the point of rationing and death it seems and that was Cast Iron’s highest priority or so he claimed.

        Probably to cost the NHS more in the end too (in extra treatment and doubless more litigation) not to mention all the lives clearly put at risk.

      • Mike Wilson
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Why should you be forced to pay for knee and hip replacements for fat people who have brought the damage to their joints on themselves? Why should you be forced to pay for treatment for lung cancer sufferers who have smoked all their lives?

        • Qubus
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I can see your point, but haven’t these obese people and smokers also paid their NI contributions? And what about the large tax on tobacco? Doesn’t that also go to the Exchequer?

    • Bazman
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Being a recipient of the middle class social security system helps and in many cases due to a lack of opportunities in life become dependant on drugs and alcohol.
      Yet again you cannot say what the restrictive employment laws are. How do you square of low wages and no rights with mass immigration and cost to the state of subsidising these no jobs to industry. The simple answer in you do not as you are not able to hold two thoughts at once only right wing reactionary nonsense such as what you spout above one assumes from you imaginary tax haven believing that poverty only exists due to mental, drug and relationship problems and not through other circumstances such as low wages, high rent and prices and the inability to move to other areas. Furthering desperation by giving less financial support will even in some ways solve these problems especially if they are ‘healthy!
      What you would expect though from someone who believes that riding a bike is unhealthy, causes more congestion and pollution and uses more energy than a car.
      Just deluded nonsense.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I am all for helping those through the tax and Benefits system who for good reasons are unfortunate enough not to be able to help themselves.
    This could be called good citizenship.

    What I am absolutely not in favour of doing, is helping those through the same system who can help themselves, but choose not to do so, and thus make little or no contribution to society.

    For too long we seem to have this dogma that all people should be equal, no matter what the cost or effort put in.
    The result is that the willing are often taxed too high.
    Those who really deserve help do not get enough, simply because these who choose not to help themselves often get too much for too long.

    Our over complicated Social Security Tax and Benefits System should not be about financial equality for all, but fairness to all.

    Certainly agree that equality of education should be the aim, and fully support a State funded education system of high quality for all, what you make of your life after that is really down to the individual.
    If people want to pay for their own eduction then let them, as these people are in effect paying twice, because they pay for a system they choose not to use, as indeed is the case with Private medical treatment.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      The way to help them (unless they are unable to work) is to train them and find them a job. Giving them benefits without training or a job, for any length of time is profoundly damaging to the recipient.

      • Bazman
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Sound expensive. Cheaper to let them rot is the most ‘sensible’ option and one you support by no taxes, minimum wage or employment rights and self funded training and education. Lets just roll a fat one huh!?

        • libertarian
          Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Bazzy……………….. According to Bazsocialism its too expensive to provide job training ( something that is ALREADY being done) but its not too expensive to raise taxes, raise borrowing, raise the minimum wage. Oh and Bazman it was your beloved Labour party that introduced self funded education with the introduction of tuition fees.

          Why not get Santa or the tooth fairy to write your next manifesto

          • Bazman
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            Making large companies pay the correct tolls would be better than trying to blame the poor and working poor for the deficit.
            Raising the minimum wage would enable working tax credits to be reduced and help the state stop spending money on subsiding poverty wages that due to oversupply of labour that is being exploited by many large companies.
            Would you agree with that manifesto or should we stop subsidising wages or raise the minimum wage? Abolishing the minimum wage and stopping tax credits is also an option. You support this? Which is it?
            You just stop the money and there would be no consequences? As if.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

            Bazman

            I agree that large corporations should pay their full tax. Sadly the EU which enables then to avoid this and which you support allows them to do this.

            The minimum wage should be scrapped. It holds DOWN wages by setting too low a benchmark

            The VAST majority and growing aren’t employed by large companies. 65% of private sector works for companies with less than 50 employees

            We should STOP subsidising wages with taxpayers money AND we should reduce taxes on the income of the lowest paid AND we should scrap National Insurance as a separate tax.

            Workers should earn more and keep more of their own money

            As I’ve proved to you many times there is a massive shortage of Labour ( thats why overseas workers are imported) so in fact if it wasn’t for NMW guidelines wages would be rising faster than they are. If my manifesto where implemented workers would be far better off than under your Labour Party nonsense, you know the Labour Party that you support that implemented the EU workers rights package which includes the right to work zero hour and part time contracts, so as you claim to not like that how come you support the EU that introduced it? I expect you are also in favour of the EU rule to destroy 1,000’s of micro and SME’s with VATMOSS whilst allowing big multinationals to avoid paying their full tax.

            Socialism don’t you love it a 100 years of failure and still the turkeys vote for Christmas

    • Hope
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      It does not pay to work under the Tories. Look at the stories in the papers this week. Look around you. It is still a question of the more children you have the more money you get and the bigger house you will receive. Additional money should not be a reason to have children or expect others to pay for them when those who pay have to limit their families because they cannot afford more!

      • Bazman
        Posted December 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        It does not pay to work when minimum wage is now a maximum wage for a large number of employers. No job no money and no children? How do you square this off with people who had children when in full employment? They should have thought of this before they had a family?
        No charity No faith No Hope. No Hope you are wrong.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

          Baz

          As I’ve told you and I know you struggle with facts and data (etc ed) 1.6 million workers in the UK are on Minimum wage. 29 TWENTY NINE million earn MORE than a living wage.

          The average UK wage is £26k The average UK wage for someone with 5 years experience is £ 31k

          So you’re wrong, it does pay to work, the more experience you get the more your wage improves. What we need is to stop the government taking 60% of it as they currently do in all the taxes, duties and levies

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted December 23, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

            That 26 and 31k fact if true is genuinely fascinating

          • libertarian
            Posted December 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            Narrow Shoulders

            Of course its true. Unlike official ONS stats which are only collected at best once a year , my surveys are done on a monthly rolling basis from live data and the survey sample is 60,000 +

            The average wage in UK is now heading towards £27 k

            For someone with 10 years plus expedience the average is even higher.

  5. Richard1
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    A surprising fact is that one of Europe’s most unequal societies measured by wealth is Germany. Sweden is another, contrary to common perceptions. This is due to tax. Germany has special exemptions from inheritance tax for business owners, Sweden has abolished inheritance tax and has special tax concessions for large shareholdings. Given the industrial structures of both countries are widely and rightly admired, perhaps we should think less about inequality and more about how to create incentives to create wealth and prosperity.

  6. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Your two models do not look so equitable when the top earner represents 0.1% rather than 10% and the disparity is much greater than 100 times Mr Redwood.

    The rich are indeed getting richer while the remainder fester

    • libertarian
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      Narrow Shoulders

      Again I’ll ask, so what? How does 0.1% having a billion pounds have any affect on the poor? We don’t have a zero sum economy. Did you not understand JR’s post?

  7. Mick Anderson
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    The whole thing becomes rather skewed when people win court cases claiming to be disabled by their own choice to be obese, such as the report yesterday.

    There was also the recent case where a wheelchair user sued a bus company (and initially won) when they refused to force a woman to move a baby buggy. Have you seen the aurora of entitlement around some new parents now?

    Everybody who has a claim to be a “special case” believes that their legally-created “rights” have to trump those of everybody else. There seems to be a complete loss of reason, consideration, and plain good manners.

    All these equality laws are causing more problems, not solving existing ones. As ever the political classes have been listening to the lobbyists with the loudest voices and deepest pockets, rather than actually bothering to think about what is sensible and reasonable.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Mick,

      David Cameron is on record as saying lobbying is the next big scandal waiting to happen. I live in hope!

      Certain aspects of lobbying should be fully exposed for the corruption it truly is. (See Peter Oborne’s excellent documentary on lobbying in the Dispatches series, freely available on YouTube.) People need to see the programme then join the dots.

      We really don’t need to follow the USA’s corrupt example, and it’s time we put ethical standards back into British politics, if they ever truly existed in the first place. It’s not just those lobbyists with the loudest voices, but those who are prepared to fund campaigns.

      Tad

      • Lifelogic
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Indeed on lobbying and “consultancies” the interests of the legal profession (which are usually the opposite of the publics), quack medicines that do not work on the NHS, the evil EU, the green energy nonsense, many large vested interest industries and many other areas seem to be very well represented by MPs as so called “consultants”.

        Government is so often largely about diverting other people cash into various friends pockets under some ruse or other.

  8. DaveM
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Almost totally OT (except for the reference to inequality!) but inevitable:

    Paul Usher’s letter in today’s Times – has anyone dealing with EVEL even considered that option?

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      I watched William Hague answering questions on EVEL. Some interesting points raised by MPs. In spite of his answers, I came to the conclusion that the best thing would be to abolish the various devolved assemblies and go back to being a United Kingdom.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Even if that would be the best thing it isn’t going to happen; even if the Scots voted for complete independence the Welsh and Northern Irish would not vote to abolish their devolved institutions.

        So realistically we have to look for the next best thing; which would not be some fudge involving the UK institutions sometimes pretending to be just English institutions, but a straightforward clearly comprehensible proper federal structure, with a federal Parliament and government for the whole of the UK dealing with UK-wide matters and four, not just three, separate and separately elected devolved Parliaments and governments for the four components to deal with devolved matters.

        • libertarian
          Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

          I really don’t see what the difficulty is here. Scrap the corrupt crony unelected undemocratic useless House of Lords, set up an English Parliament & treat the 4 parliaments/assemblies as second chambers with a UK govt in House of Commons

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            But the four devolved parliaments/assemblies would be there just to deal with devolved matters, not to act as second chambers of the UK Parliament dealing with the UK-wide reserved/federal matters. If, for example, UK foreign policy is reserved to the UK authorities, as now, then the devolved parliaments should not have any involvement in that.

          • libertarian
            Posted December 21, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

            Denis,

            You’re saying its not possible to change the remit? To reinvent our democracy? To make it all work better? Oh dear that is a problem.

      • Sandra Cox
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        As ideal as it might be, I fear there is no going back. It is the latest in a long list of inequalities.

        Well, they’ve all had 15 years plus to sort it out, and I’ve just about had enough! Apart from John and a few others, I don’t want MPs deciding what is good for England, because I don’t trust them to put England before their own, their parties’, or the EU’s interests. I want the English to decide by referendum, just like the Scottish referendum – all worded to come up with YES!:

        1) Should the Balkanisation of England be halted immediately?
        2) Should the English have their own parliament – the same as the Scots?
        3) If the English don’t get what they want, should England apply for independence from the rest of the UK?

        We could call the campaign “Yes England” and those opposing could campaign under “Better Keep England Quiet”. A couple more things – only people over the age of 60, with passports issued by the UK government, and residing in England at the time of the referendum, will be eligible to vote, and our state broadcaster, broadcasting under BBC England, will push propaganda for the “Yes England” campaign!! 🙂

        Is that light enough for a Friday evening? I don’t want to spoil the “start of the weekend” mood!

  9. Ian wragg
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Your opening statement says it all. The main parties agree
    Not a fag paper between you. Tax borrow, spend and waste
    Last night I felt sick listening to CMD praising the military which he and his stupid sidekick have positively trashed.
    I see your latest cock up is to ensure no new gas fired generation is built due to the low strike price. By 2018 we will be like North Korea. Why dont you just scrap your useless windmills and then the market will functions properly.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

      I heard Dave on that programme, it made we feel sick. The army, of course, deserve praise but the politicians who sent them on these pointless and counter productive wars (and without proper equipment) then trying to jump on the sympathy/popularity band wagon is really nauseous.

      How is Libya looking now Dave?

  10. Old Albion
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    All the main parties in the (dis)UK believe in equality, when it suits.
    None of them believe in equality for England. All of them deny equality, fairness and democracy for England.

  11. agricola
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    If UK politicians really believed in equality of opportunity then without hesitation they would bring back grammar schools with entry at eleven plus a second chance at thirteen. In parallel they would increase markedly technical colleges to scoop up all those with a practical talent. Then learn to accept that there will always be an inequality of outcome in life for a thousand different reasons, not all of which you can do much about.

    To achieve the above, the quality of primary education needs to be improved dramatically to the age of ten. Additionally you will need to remove politics and religion from the training of teachers.

    I cannot think of any successful nation where education is not the primary driving force.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      I went to a Grammar School and I feel they generally offered the best chances overall (although I don’t attribute my own accomplishments to any of the schools I attended). It would be nice to do away with Labour’s failed system and go back to Grammar Schools, but I absolutely agree there would need to be a better selection process. Just one exam at age eleven that effectively determines the entire course of a child’s future, is not the best way to go.

      It shouldn’t be so difficult to change that damaging aspect of it. Meanwhile, the need to produce a skilled and educated workforce that industry can make the best use of, is one of the most important issues we as a nation presently face. Work is still one of the best ways to ensure a decent standard of living for the individual.

      Tad

  12. Hope
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    JR how about equality in the EU and the ability of the UK to influence the “top table” refereed to by the LibLabCon on so many occasions. Is it correct that on 55 occasions since 1996 has Britain objected to new EU laws and on each occasion has been overruled?. The ability to influence at the “top table” in the power houses of the EU has deminsihed not increased since the UK joined some 40 years ago : from 17 per cent to 8 per cent in the
    Council of Ministers; from 20 per cent to 9.5 per cent in the European
    Parliament; from 15 per cent to 4 per cent in the European Commission. Is this correct? My concern is growing that Cameron is becoming more deluded or increasing the deceit to the public about the influence the UK can have in the EU. At his level he has been told many times this year that any renegotiation is not possible, from Merkel to Holland to the unelected EU Chiefs of Borosso, Van Rompouy and Junker. As we now see with Scotland, he cannot influence a drink up in a brewery.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely! And that makes a nonsense of the ‘IN’ brigade’s claim that to change the EU, we have to be a full member of it, not on the periphery, or out of it altogether. It, as an entity, is beyond redemption. It is a house built on sand.

      Tad

  13. Anonymous
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    We have to be careful not to make people too equal.

    There has to be tangible reward for:

    – working harder

    – taking on more responsibilities

    – learning more skills

    – putting one’s self in danger and discomfort

    As it is there is often little discernable difference in lifestyle up to the £50k bracket – various tax/benefit equalisers narrow the real wealth gap immensely and this is done in the interests of equality.

    Yesterday it was reported that an unemployed mum of 8 takes home £2,200 a month. To achieve this working in the private sector takes some doing, and probably requires years of training and exams.

    In fact a person who has started their training at university will be taxed at a huge rate and will find themselves worse off than many unemployed.

    ‘Equality’ is a socialist word. Why are the Tories even using it ?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 21, 2014 at 1:31 am | Permalink

      Exactly why accept the absurd language.

  14. Edward2
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Your two examples show the statistical method for calculating inequality is odd, can be skewed quite easlily and is currently being used by the Labour Party as a political stick.
    I have no data to back up my thoughts but I wonder if the recent arrival of several million people, who, in the main, I would guess are earning below average wages and the recent arrival of many non dom millionaires and billionaires, especially into London, has led to the headline figure looking worse.

  15. Ariep Adam
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Except this nice fable is untrue. The high income person buys up shares and property increasingly costs for everyone else and giving them a passive income. They pay for a great education and give a hefty deposits to their children. They lobby government for tax breaks and subsidies and demand reductions in welfare and regulation.

    Keep your fairy stories for the children and start being honest.

    • Handbags
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t inequality the result of nature weeding out the weak?

      Isn’t it evolution’s way of stopping the ‘tosser’ gene from getting into the gene pool?

      Surely inequality is a good thing – it ultimately strengthens the species.

      Helping people who fall on hard times is ok; helping good people who fall sick or have accidents is fine too – but carrying people who are inherently useless is more of a problem.

      And what if, eventually, the majority of the population are useless – what happens then?

      At some point we’re going to have to face the truth – and let nature take its course.

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Ariep

      Many medium income earners do exactly the same as you outline as well.

      What is wrong with people spending their money where they like, they have after all paid tax on it.

      If they pay for private education, then they have still contributed to the State system in Full through the tax system, and at the same time they have reduced the number of pupils reliant on that State system.

      If they have purchased shares or invested in a business, what is wrong with that, investments can go up as well as down, all Private Pension funds invest in shares and all pay a tax when a portfolio is changed or modified.
      You pays in your money and take the risk, you then pay tax on it again if you make so called excessive profits.

      What is wrong with passing on money onto your children if you want to, and trust them to use it rather more sensibly than the Government ?

      Just for info. I went to a Secondary Modern School, do not have any buy to let properties, invested my own money in my own business after being made redundant three times, contributed to a Private Pension scheme, and did not give my children any money for large deposits on their own houses, which they worked hard and saved for themselves..

      What is wrong with the concept working hard and attempting to be successful that you do not like.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Ariep

      Total drivel most shares are owned by you and the workers via pension and investment funds . 76% of people in the UK own their own property. They pay twice for education then? The wealthy don’t employ anyone then? The high income person generated their income from where? Paid how much income tax and national insurance on it?

  16. Kenneth
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    There is a structural problem with left wing policies which tend to produce extremes of rich and poor.

    In my view the more intervention there is in markets, the more this produces perversions that allow a super rich class to emerge not through hard work, good skills, inheritance or luck, but by playing the system.

    Whether these winners are large corporations or professions benefitting from over regulation that keeps out competitors or somebody fiddling taxes or benefits, it doesn’t take long before socialism delivers a class that are only well-off because of excessive government intervention.

    Add to this the prospect of council office palaces surrounded by boarded shops and businesses, you see that those in the court of the government, whether local or national, enjoy a protected status and the elites in these organisations are cushioned against the real world.

    Free markets on the other hand will not allow anyone to build up excess capital or to fiddle the system

    Look at Spain, look at France and many South American countries. Look at the last years of the Brown administration. The losers are always the poorest who are discarded and thrown out of a job.

    In my view right wing politicians should not accept the corner that they have been painted into by the media and, rather than be on the defensive, should speak out for the poor.

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    You seem to be stuck in the old way of thinking about poverty in absolute terms, JR, when of course the modern approach is to discuss it in terms of relative poverty.

    That is to say:

    “Yes, we may all be better off, but that is irrelevant because the position of that person has improved more than my position has, so relatively I am poorer even though I am in reality better off than before, and that is wrong and immoral and the government should do something about it, so I will be voting Labour.”

    Of course the consequence of this is that the old adage “The poor will always be with us” is made an eternal truth simply the chosen definition of “poor”, unless society is made completely equal; and back in 1942 when Beveridge identified “want” as one of the five Giant Evils besetting our society he should have realised that it could never be defeated without perfect equality, otherwise in relative terms there will always be some who are suffering from the “want” he deplored.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I am old enough to remember true poverty Denis. The slums, no food on the table, hand-me-down clothes, social deprivation, and the lack of social mobility where advancement was severely restricted by artificial class barriers regardless of one’s ability.

      Thankfully, that situation has largely been eradicated, so you are right to describe poverty now in relative terms. My fear is though, that in some cases, we might be slipping back towards it.

      I do truly believe there is a level beyond which no man must sink, but I also believe a hand up is far better than a hand out. Education is the key to it all, and our young people have been given a raw deal by being denied the best possible start in life.

      Investment in future generations is the very thing that will ensure the nation survives in an even and equitable way. I wince when I think how badly educated our kids are these days, and we are doing them no favours by putting them at an immediate disadvantage as soon as they leave school without the necessary skills to make their own lives better. Not to have a properly educated workforce is to set in train further inequality down the line.

      Tad

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        Well, I don’t go along with the “relative poverty” idea; although obviously even with free schooling there are levels above basic survival for a family which are not high enough for the children to have a fair opportunity to advance unless they are given more help with extras than their parents can afford, so there is some element of relativity that comes into it.

    • libertarian
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Denis you are right the its not fair brigade have no answer when you point out the fact that the population of the UK IS in the top 5% of the worlds wealthiest people

  18. Max Dunbar
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    ‘The left like to portray the UK as a uniquely unequal society’.
    If virtually full tax raising powers are devolved to Scotland in addition to the tuition fees, stamp duty, free prescriptions, drink drive rules and many other laws then they will certainly have created a nation state with unequalled inequality.

  19. Javelin
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The biggest problem in the system is tax evasion and government waste.

    First by business people who use off shore accounts. These could be caught. We know who they are. Literally a hand full of accountants have set up tens of thousands of companies to move money abroad. It’s easy to find the directors but there are laws stopping targeting. The tax system needs to be searchable by intelligent robots – so if people buy houses for over a million but declare income of 100k they need investigating. The tax office needs to hold a competition for private firms to search their records for tax evaders. But politicians use these schemes. It’s only a matter of time – as the working population shrinks then there will be a call for investigations – the problem will explode.

    The second theft cones from the bottom where people work and claim benefits. Again computers should be used more widely.

    The other part of the system is tax waste. Councillors need to be liable. Look at what happened with the corrupt sake of properties by the head of the council in East London. Wi there be prosecutions? Will people go to jail and the cheap land taken back? No.

    So the problems of Government are born of fear and lack of creativity.

  20. Robert Taggart
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Equality be all well and good – no discrimination on the basis of Age, Health, Faith, Gender, Race…
    But, what about ability ? ‘affordability’ ?? suitability ???
    Life will always have its winners and losers – both will have ‘beefs’ about some aspect of life – but neither should ‘roast’ the other !

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Off-topic:

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/north-sea-oil-industry-close-to-collapse-1-3637971

    “North Sea oil industry ‘close to collapse’”

    “Hundreds of jobs have been axed in recent months and thousands more are on the line, as firms desperately cut costs deal with tumbling prices.

    Mr Allan said yesterday that almost no new projects in the North Sea are profitable with oil below $60 a barrel.

    “It’s a huge crisis,” said Mr Allan, who is a director of Premier Oil.

    “This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs wherever possible, and that’s painful for our staff, painful for companies and painful for the country.

    “It’s close to collapse. In terms of new investments – there will be none, everyone is retreating, people are being laid off at most companies this week and in the coming weeks. Budgets for 2015 are being cut by everyone.””

    • Tad Davison
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Spot on. But I wonder what we can do to make OPEC respond in a positive way and cut production, thereby raising the oil price?

      It could be, as some commentators say, that Saudi Arabia wants to put the Fracking industry out of business. Others say it is a conspiracy intended to cripple the Russian economy. Whatever the truth of the above, lots of countries’ economies are now under threat because of the low oil price, and to me, no one entity should be able to exercise that much power.

      Tad

  22. Leslie Singleton
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    More of a distinction should be made between looking after people who need help and equality. Given that some people are more inventive, more willing to take risks and work harder and are more intelligent even stronger than others, not to mention have families that have been such and in this country for perhaps centuries whereas others fail on all of these counts I do not see equality as making much sense, least of all for the people who need help, for it is not equality that drives a country. As an aspiration maybe but not something to be forced upon us.

  23. Iain Gill
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    In this country there are several problems.
    For one the way schools are allocated. By postcode and religion. Parents supposedly given a choice of 2 or 3 local schools but in practise all but one school will demand a priests signature (or equivalent for other religions) “proving” that you are a believer (widely open to corruption). So in practise no choice of school at all. Once in a school it’s practically impossible to change school without moving house. The schools and the administrators have all the power and the parents have no buying power whatsoever. There is an appeals process which by the admission of the people running it (off the record of course) is little better than tossing a coin. If you live on a sink estate you will be allocated a sink school. If your parents are pushy middle class parents they will move house (and artificially inflate house prices locally) to be in the catchment area of a better school. All the chips are in the hands of those playing the system or with the funds for more expensive housing. Neither the parents nor the school are allowed to select on merit. It’s badly broken.
    Then let’s take other stuff, the exams needed to get into university. Almost everyone that appeals an exam result ends up getting their grade uplifted after appeal. The “better” schools almost always appeal large percentages of exam results, the “sink” schools hardly any. This little dynamic artificially inflates the grades of some schools relative to others.
    Or let’s take “dyslexia”, any parent can pay to have a diagnosis of this confirmed. I have never heard of anyone paying to see a consultant actually told their child does not have dyslexia. Once given a nice bit of paper confirming dyslexia the school and exam board are forced to make allowances for this “disability” including allowing longer to sit exam papers and so on. Again this little trick of the system is used in massive numbers to artificially inflate the exam performance of some demographics over others. The exam certificates do not show “allowed X hours extra to sit this paper due to dyslexia”. The exam certificates do not show “this pupil was best at maths in their school of 2000 pupils despite only getting a low grade”. And other such.
    Then we have “equality” a whole industry running supposedly anti-discrimination practises is in fact promoting discrimination against men in so many ways. We also have massive discrimination against working class accents, in ways which would be in court every single day if it was race discrimination. I don’t see why folk with working class accents should not have protection in law against discrimination.
    Then we have the way “social” housing is allocated, folk are forced to live in houses well away from a modern jobs market, and with rubbish schools. Again the tenants have next to no buying power to make market forces allow them to follow the jobs market. You trying getting a job in one of the old mining or shipbuilding estates setup to serve those industries, the chances are stacked against you. Nothing IDS or any of the political parties are saying is going to remotely fix this.
    And so very much more
    Merry Christmas

  24. Eddie Hill
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Robert Taggart above: “Life will always have its winners and losers – both will have ‘beefs’ about some aspect of life – but neither should ‘roast’ the other!”

    There is also an old saying, which annoyingly I can’t find the source of: “The poor are always with us.”

    If you continue trying to make the poor wealthier and practice positive discrimination with the disadvantaged, all you are doing is raising the bar for the definition of poverty and inequality, rather like trying to get 99% of people into work above the average wage. It can’t be done.

    People aren’t equal, and the best you can do is treat them equally before the law. You can’t make idle people productive, or stupid people clever, and please don’t do the liberal thing and tell me that there is no such thing as idle or stupid people.

    If the convoy moves at the speed of the slowest ship, it stands much more chance of being torpedoed.

  25. Matt
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Only the £1m is in the hands of the extra person in Group A has that £1m because he/she has taken more than their fair share of the money pie. They have essentially committed a crime and their £1m should immediately be seized and divided “fairly” between the whole of group A. This is obvious because as we all know there is a specific finite amount of money which is to shared between everybody according to their worthiness as determined by the state.
    Anything else would make us all wicked and greedy people, and we should be willing to say or do whatever it takes to make sure that such wicked people are not in government.

    Yeah right.

  26. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Theoretically I can understand that dynamic variability is the key to financial movement,yet if all the money went into the mixing bowl and diffusion -like, high concentrations (i.e large amounts of money) were continually diffusing to equalise the lower concentrations then all would indeed be richer .Surely this though cannot be a solitary event like quantitive easing as once everything levels, problems are compounded. I can also see that if small amounts were added to the already modest amounts then those who were slightly better off would find themselves poorer.
    Equality is perceptual and linked to value.Can you imagine a single parent on a low income having to manage an 8 bedroomed house, she/he would not think it was a blessing( especially if it would not sell) yet a well off family would show off in the splendour of bigger and better.

  27. Terry
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    “to try to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds a decent chance in life”

    What better way than to re-create the Grammar School? In every town. Then all poor kids with ability can have that chance.

    However, Mr Cameron does not want ordinary folk to have an education to match his own at Eton so these schools, despite their increasing popularity, are off of his agenda. No, he is more interested in borrowing more money to send out in the laughably entitled “Oversea Aid” programme . It’s more a subsidy for Dictators, despots and Nuclear Powers. It is a joke.

    Pull the plug on that and with the savings, provide special funds to British Children so that they can have a better chance in life. We do not owe the rest of the world anything, so why can’t he stop pretending to be a messiah. It is not just wasteful and irritating, it is embarrassing to our country.

  28. Vanessa
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Many years ago there was a sense of cohesion in communities and those who had made a great deal of money (Mr Peabody, Mr Cadbury) gave back to their communities.

    Now with the government stealing as much money as they can from these people there is no incentive to give back to society as they perceive they are hated by governments.

    Also most of the rich are foreigners who buy everything British as an investment – houses which rise in value, and they have no feeling for the country or how well its people will do, they just buy / sell up and take their money elsewhere when the time is right for them.

    So much for the “big society” – it means nothing if you do not treat people as people but as cash cows.

    • Vanessa
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      P.S. I forgot to say the rich do often start companies and businesses, thus taking a great risk, which employ those not so lucky or brave as they are and put back by that method.

  29. Tad Davison
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Whilst discussing inequality, can anyone tell me why the BBC News Channel never talks about the big demonstration that regularly take place in Europe against the European Union?

    There’s one in Brussels as I type, but I have to go to other channels like RT to get real news. Could it have something to do with the BBC getting funding from the EU and not wanting to bite the hand that feeds them?

    How about the DG coming onto these pages and telling us the truth for once?

    Tad

  30. StevenL
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    If the man with the £1m income simply trades with his poorer neighbours, this is all well and good. But how do we prevent him from buying undue influence in the local town council and other institutions, and acting against his neighbours interests?

    There’s also the question of how he earns his £1m a year. If he made it though a complicated fraud whereby he stole his 9 neighbours pensions, this isn’t good either is it?

  31. JoolsB
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    What about the gross inequality amongst our young which has deliberately been created by the main two and a half parties? Tuition fees are free in Scotland, heavily capped in Wales, even insultingly for Welsh students studying in England alongside £9,000 fee paying English students. English kids however can now expect to come out of university with crippling debts hanging over them for the next thirty years. An inequality and blatant discrimination started by Labour and which you and your party voted to make three times worse John. An act which this ex-lifelong Conservative voter will never forgive.

    It seems my taxes must go to subsidise Scots, Welsh & NI’s students through the skewed Barnett Formula which your leader has heartily endorsed, and then when English students graduate, the extra tax they will be required to pay over and above their Celtic peers, can also go straight towards the funding of Scots, Welsh, & NI students of the future.

    It has become obvious to me that there will never be equality or fairness in this so called union as long as the anti-English Con/Lab/Lib parties are in charge.

  32. Mike Wilson
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    In the decade up to the financial crash under Labour there was a serious problem, with the lowest 10% of incomes not joining in the general advance in living standards enjoyed by all other income groups.

    But that is not true. The lowest 10% of incomes did join in the ‘general advance’ because of Gordon Brown and his tax credits. I repeat what I said the other day – according to Andrew Neill’s program last Sunday – someone working 24 hours a week on minimum wage has their income topped up to an effect 30k by tax credits and housing benefits.

    Why do any of us bother working long hours in demanding jobs?

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      That thirty k becomes 36 k when universal credit kicks in.

      Big issue sellers rejoice

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted December 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      @Mickc

      Have you tried to get off the jobs treadmill and onto these benefits? They are not for the workers they are for those who can play tbe system. Once government grasps you as a taxpayer it doesn’t let go. PAYE serfdom is harder to extricate yourself from than organised crime. Which if you think about it is quite apt.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted December 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Correction @ mike wilson

  33. Terry
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    “to try to give people from disadvantaged backgrounds a decent chance in life”

    What better way than to re-create the Grammar School? In every town. Then all poor kids with ability can have that chance.

    However, Mr Cameron does not want ordinary folk to have an education to match his own at Eton so these schools, despite their increasing popularity, are off of his agenda. No, he is more interested in borrowing more money to send out in the laughably entitled “Oversea Aid” programme . It’s more a subsidy for Dictators, despots and Nuclear Powers. It is a joke.

    Pull the plug on that and with the savings, provide special funds to British Children so that they can have a better chance in life. We do not owe the rest of the world anything, so why can’t he stop pretending to be a messiah. It is not just wasteful and irritating, it is embarrassing to our country.

  34. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    On Christmas Day, 25 December 1989 President Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania and his wife Elena were executed by firing squad. Amongst other things they possibly miscalculated, in their application of the Gini coefficient.

    Soon after, I as on the spot in Bucharest. The reforms to their post-administration meant the public transport system was privatized. Some Romanian professionals in my immediate circle told me their bus journey costs to and from work had gone from virtual zero to a third or half of their salaries.

    A writer in ancient Rome, despite the application of mathematical calculations in regard to the Roman military wrote “…. mathematicians and other evil doers..”. Sometimes figures make it hard to figure.
    Hard to understand why capitalism in the new Romania for the last quarter of a century where the mantra of “Growth” must have wearied the ears of the populace, has not been sufficient in any regard whatsoever to dissuade them from flitting to England, University Degrees in hand and pushing waste-bins and brooms along the corridors of power and other places for minimum wages.
    It always has been time Parliamentarians or rather “The Government” of all countries realized the world isn’t always measurable by whatever yardstick, metrestick or indeed meterstick you use. Mr and Mrs Ceaușescu found out too late.

  35. Jon
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I agree with that except for the last line “both Right and Left should be able to agree with this”.

    In the early Naughties I went onto a Labour favourite website to see what they were talking about, frustrated at the spending and lack of reforms promised. Amongst the contributors to the discussion, open to all, were prominent Labour people, ones the public would recognise today. The main debate was about new and old labour, Blairites vs Brownites. The Brownites, in the majority, were horrified at the idea of the poor getting better off and aspiration. They couldn’t see how they would get re elected if that were to happen. The poor needed to be kept there in order to vote them back into their constituency job. That has long since been deleted and they are more savy about what they post, they were using domain names then. You know who they were because they would get compliments about a speech they made or their take in a news article.

    Most people today don’t think about the class divisions, Labour push it to the fore because they want to retain it. Some Labour MPs according to the newspapers say the Party doesn’t understand aspiration. I disagree, I think they do but are frightened of the poorer or the working class getting aspirational. In those comment posts on that website of theirs they hated Harry Enfield’s “loads a money” plasterer for his aspiration. They rounded on that as a threat to their existence, not thinking they should adapt with your constituency!

    Labour moved their core vote to minorities and public service. Do they understand the working class and who they are even? I think they may even despise them, they certainly despise the employers who they depend on for a job. Labour are relevant whilst they keep voting for them on past perceived values, will that continue though.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      This all rings very true; the fact is that if we did ever completely eliminate poverty in this country then the Labour party would lose most of its raison d’etre, hence their need to keep importing poverty.

  36. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Since 1997, we have had 4 million immigrants. What do you expect to happen to bottom decile incomes given this oversupply of labour?

  37. benj
    Posted December 19, 2014 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    You cannot have equality of opportunity if land is occupied without compensation paid to those who are excluded.

    Or did god make this Earth to be monopolised by the few, so they could make economic slaves of the many?

    Try answering that one Mr Redwood.

    Or is taxing work and enterprise preferable to sharing the value that god or nature provide for free?

    The Tories aren’t Capitalists, or the party of meritocracy. It’s all about protecting the free lunch of the very wealthiest.

    Lucky for them socialists and the great British public are so easily brainwashed.

    Reply Governments have been instituted to protect the weak and assist those in need. Protecting property rights seems to be the best method of allowing commerce and prosperity to flourish for the benefit of all. Would you rather than live in a state where property rights have broken down – the strongest then grab – or in a world like the USSR where the strong dominate the key political positions which control most property through the state.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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