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March 23, 2013



Asymmetric liberalism is the norm. To be otherwise, you have to kick yourself in the shin eight times a day.

Nick Clegg stole a leg from Douglas Bader.

Richard Thomas

I think you give UKIP more credit than they are due for this. I see it as simple demagoguery against the poor, with a little spite just to add some spice to the stew. To call it asymmetric libertarianism is to add an intellectual respectability to UKIP's class prejudices.


Actually it is may be more important to say that any form of Libertarianism is impossible. If people applied Libertarian ideas consistently they would all be hippies.

Actual Libertarians and conservatives always apply these ideas in a biased way and support authoritarianism in practice. Libertarian ideas are a smokes screen to allow the oppressive state to be oppressive, and UKIP is merely a expression of culturally backward types who have no ideas and Libertarian is a convenient label to appeal to some concept of intellectual coherence which does not exist in fact.

Off course this criticism applies to all parties to some degree, as consistency is likely to lose you votes with segments of the electorate you want to appeal to.


It is of course a privilege to be a dead eyed money grubbing amoral prostitute but Ms Price should be careful not to abuse that privilege.


I wouldn't for a moment presume to speak for UKIP, but I'm not sure this article completely grasps the point of what they were saying. Of course, it's quite possible that UKIP don't grasp it either. In fact I doubt that most UKIP members could even spell "the point".

But anyway, the point as I see it is not so much the absolute amount spent on booze and fags. As you correctly say, it's negligible in the grand scheme of things. The point is that if people on out of work benefits are spending money on booze and fags, then perhaps you could make a case that out of work benefits are too generous.

Why does that matter?

If benefits are too generous, there is a risk that some people will choose to remain on benefits, rather than looking for work. That has the potential to cost us billions, not just the few million actually spent on booze and fags. Not only in all the benefits were are paying and tax we are foregoing needlessly, but also in the general drag to GDP growth of high unemployment.

So, how many of those on out of work benefits have made a conscious decision not to bother looking for work because they can have all the booze and fags they need on benefits?

I honestly don't know the answer to that. The right would have us believe that most benefits claimers are scroungers and are just too lazy to look for work, so most would come in that category. The left would have us believe that such people don't exist, and that all benefits claimants would dearly love to give up benefits and do an honest day's work if only they had the opportunity.

Frankly, I think both of those positions are not credible. It must surely be true that there exists a percentage of benefit claimants who choose to remain on benefits, and that that percentage is greater than zero and less than 100%.

To me, the whole argument hinges on what that percentage is. I would dearly love to know what it is so that I can understand this argument better. The trouble is that both sides of the political debate prefer to work with rhetoric and prejudice rather than facts, so the facts are rather hard to come by.


" The left would have us believe that such people don't exist, and that all benefits claimants would dearly love to give up benefits and do an honest day's work if only they had the opportunity"

Speaking as a member of said left, I don't think that's our position. Mine is more that there are enough people on unemployment benefits who would want to do an honest day's work if they had the opportunity that there really isn't all that much point worrying about those who don't.

Rises and falls in unemployment are not, I don't think, caused by changes in collective national laziness alone.


Hm. Once again, an argument that lacks numbers. You say there are "enough" people who want to do an honest day's work. You may well be right about that. But how many is "enough"? How many are there?

I really find it hard to assess these kinds of arguments without reliable numbers. If you could show me that, say, 90% of those on unemployment benefits would be delighted to do an honest day's work, then I think your argument would make perfect sense. But those numbers are, I think, essential to the argument.


I say merge all benefits in one universal basic income at give to everybody, rich and poor. This way rich people might stop complaining about the state givin money to the poors.

If you agree sign this european citizen initiative asking the european comision to just consider whether a universal basic income may be a good idea: http://tinyurl.com/ubi-eur


UKIP (UKBNP) are hypocritical. Who woulda thunk it?


While it's laudable how everyone's eager to pitch-in and find ways to save money so we can reduce our deficit and debt, it's nonetheless rather silly to ficus on such minuscule sums.

The problem with immigration is not the cost in benefits, but the twin challenges of cultural integration and the impact of multiple languages in the classroom environment. If UKIP are really interested in the challenges of immigration, they'd focus more on how to improve the awful Borders Agency and plan education resources better.

If, however, people really want to reduce the deficit we should instead be looking at the biggest areas of government spending: pensions and health. In other words, we need the Bay Boom generation to stop sponging on the young.


Adam – the numbers don’t affect the argument. As long as there are more unemployed people than vacant jobs it doesn't really matter how many individuals want to work or not. What’s keeping unemployment high is not laziness, it is lack of jobs. All the time there are people who want a job but cannot find one, I’m not too fussed about those who don’t want to work. In fact, I worry about those schemes designed to cajole the workshy into working if it means they are get jobs that those keener to work might otherwise have had. That's just bad utility.


As an American ...who the f&ck is Katie Price?

Luis Enrique

a person can think "people should be free to spend their money as they wish" and "I do not want to be taxed so that money can be given to people who are going to spend it on booze and fags" without any contradiction or being guilty of wanting "freedom for themselves whilst seeking to deny it to others".

Even if it were practicable, which it isn't, I would not support attempts to control how benefit recipients spend their money (unless perhaps they are harming others through their actions). But I don't think there's such a contradiction here.

George Carty

If we want to reduce the costs on the taxpayer imposed by the elderly, wouldn't it be a good idea to stop spending money on cancer and heart disease research (and anti-smoking campaigns) and instead focus everything on trying to wipe out Alzheimer's Disease (because Alzheimer's requires expensive care for a prolonged period)?


Bruce: you seem to be making an assumption there that all vacancies are interchangeable and all unemployed people are interchangeable.

You're making a further assumption that the number of vacancies in the economy is fixed.

I don't think those assumptions are sound.

What if someone who is currently choosing to sit at home on benefits is persuaded to find work as a result of some change in the benefit system, and then goes out and spends more money, and that extra money in the economy creates new jobs? (You might want to google the phrase "keynesian multiplier" if that sounds implausible to you).

Sorry, but I refused to be convinced by this argument one way or the other until someone can come up with some hard numbers.


The comments on this thread are another example of how the right and overwhelming sections of the media have almost totally skewed the key issues about 'austerity' and how 'we need to save money'The amount of money lost due to benefit fraud is minscule compared with how much the rich and big businesses have evaded in tax payments. In fact, has anyone raised the matter of how much there is in unclaimed benefits. The unnecessary waste of mass unemployment and the actual reasons for it don't get a look in.

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