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November 24, 2012


Ralph Musgrave

In some ways the poor already do take big risks, and offload those risks onto the taxpayer, just like banks do. For example third party insurance is compulsory for builders, but does anyone seriously think that people on benefits doing building work on the side are fully insured?


But the poor do take more risks. There are any number of dishonest poor people who take significant risks in committing crime - burgling houses, stealing copper from power stations and so on - in exchange for relatively slim rewards.

The dishonest middle-income types take the rather smaller risks of fiddling their taxes or inflating an insurance claim. People with decent steady jobs don't steal lead from church roofs, because if they get caught, they lose everything.


I wonder how the issue of tax expenditures vs transfers plays out here. The former is mostly regressive, the latter mostly progressive. I'm guessing that Lord Freud feels he can exhort the poor because they are recipients of tax transfers. But he would not feel the same about the rich, recipients of tax expenditures because somehow that isn't viewed as real money! I'm guessing that mental accounting plays a big role here.

john malpas

meddle, meddle,meddle


The Tories denial of Class allows this prejudice towards the Poor to continue today.

Great Post

John H

It seems that quote may be unfair on the Puritans. According to Kirk F. Koerner's Liberalism and its Critics (1985, found via Google Books):

'There is almost no historical warrant for [Macpherson's] sweeping generalization. Jordan's historical researches into philanthropy in England have established that there was, in fact, no hardening of contempt for poverty in the period 1480-1660. In the literature of exhortation Jordan finds what he goes so far as to call a "drumfire of exhortation" stressing the moral obligation of charity, the righteous quality of Protestant good works, and the evils of covetousness.'

In other words, it seems that, if anything, we have /regressed/ since the Puritan era in our attitudes towards poverty.

John H

However, on the substance of your post: totally agree. See also Philip Blond recently quoting a child psychologist, John Bowlby, that "life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base."

(See http://curlewriver.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/plebgate-and-the-new-snobbery/ )

John H

Oops, that was David Brooks, not Philip Blond. Can't even read my own blog posts properly. OK, will stop spamming your comments now... ;-)

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