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February 24, 2007


Chris Williams

But is Gibson really on any kind of left in the way that you and me are? Seems like a classic Fabian to me.


"Much (not all) Labour policy does regard people as passive objects."

Doesn't this attitude go all the way back to the Webbs?

Marcin Tustin

Who has political thoughts worth hearing who doesn't appreciate that it rests on our conception of who we are and what the good society is?

tom s.

To suggest that bonuses are unacceptable does seem over the top. But before everybody leaps on the poor bloke, here's how bonuses look to this relative outsider (my job pays a bonus sometimes, but it is a small percentage of the total):

- Bonuses are not a strong form of incentive. Some bonus awards are arbitrary. I've had good years with no bonus and bad years with a relatively large bonus.

- Bonuses do not motivate hard work. There seems to be an idea that without bonuses people would "pretend to work". But the hardest working people I've known have worked because of being part of something they believe in - out of a sense of identity. How many academics (I know I know, not all are hard working, but some are) stop working because they don't get bonuses?

- Bonuses are a way to obfuscate payment. There is an incentive for many organizations to obscure the income of those at the top of the scale. One way to do this is through a baroque confusion of income types - options, one-time share grants, and more.

- Bonuses are a mechanism for inhibiting collective action on the part of employees. "This would be a world in which workers had no agency at all, but were merely passive objects to be manipulated.": you charge that it's either individual incentive or passive manipulation, but what about collective action?


"I don't think people should have bonuses at all."

Well, I don't think you should have the right to live.

Execute Ian Gibson!

Alex Gregory

I think Tom is onto something when he suggests that not all incentives need to be financial (WRT academics), and perhaps Gibson is driving at the thought that people might be obliged to work hard for the benefit of others, regardless of the personal payout they might get in return. There's no committment to a loss of agency there.

No doubt such a view is a little simplistic, but it's also simplistic to assume that only financial incentives matter with respect to what outcomes you achieve.

Matthew Sinclair

"This presumption illuminates the distinction between mine and Labour's leftism. Much (not all) Labour policy does regard people as passive objects. Workers need minimum wage and health and safety laws because they're incapable of fighting for decent pay and conditions themselves. They need a nanny state as they can't choose correctly how to live their lives. And workers' control of firms and public sector bodies is not even considered, because workers aren't fit to run organizations.

By contrast, my leftism rests on a view that people are capable of running their own lives."

I'm surprised you didn't have more sympathy for "What's Left"'s prevailing sense of loneliness.


Note that Gibson's working life in the "real world" consisted of 32 years at the University of East Anglia.


bang on Chris.

- I seem to remember Tessa Jowell recently saying something like "what women want most from politicians is security" - anyone got this reference?

- years ago someone said to me that Socialists are your mum, always fussing and worrying about you, and that Conservatives are your dad, encouraging you to get out there and do your best and never mind the knocks. I note that Jackie Ashley's article in the link praises 4 high profile labour women - is there a sex divide here?


Dunno whose parents you are talking about. Not mine that's for sure.

Kevin Carson


"Conservatives" (both the big-C ones in your country and the small-c ones in mine) do indeed like to use the get out there and do your best and never mind the knocks" rhetoric. They use it to everyone but the big corporations sucking at the taxpayer teat. The dominant sectors in the world economy are those Western industries most reliant on direct subsidies or strong "intellectual property" [sic] laws for their profits: aerospace, agribusiness, biotech, pharma, entertainment and software. When good ol' "Dad" gives them the boot, maybe I'll take his rhetoric seriously.

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