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November 26, 2017



«people only need a kick up the backside to get out of poverty. [ ... ] In other words – if you’re poor, stop being poor, or else. That’s it.»

That theory though, as far as the middle and higher classes have seen it, is entirely correct: many more millions of immigrants from poor countries have found jobs than there were and are unemployed people, because immigrants from poor countries are willing to off-the-book for £4-5/h and to live 8 to a room sharing bunk beds on shifts, because they have a "Thank you Sir, may I have some more" resignation.


«Maybe we economists have missed an important fact about markets. They are not just technical means for allocating resources. They are also freighted with moral meanings»

Ah, very funny, especially as our "marxist" blogger writes this. Well, political economists (as opposed to Economists like G Mankiw or L Summers) seems to have figured that out a long time ago, and our blogger mentioned an obscure scotsman from the 18th century as to that. A rediscovery of that is perhaps long overdue :-).


«shows how bosses present themselves as Hollywood-type heroes»

There is a whole industry of very well paid image consultants that works on that, at the expense of the companies for which the bosses work, and which pay then the massive "compensation" that bosses demand thanks to their manufactured "hero" status.
Self dealing can be an art form...


Kate's piece on Universal Credit is powerful. I have recent experience of claiming UC on behalf of someone who is very, very distant from the labour market. (She was on Employment Support Allowance before). We are waiting to see if UC will help her or cast her into destitution.

The attitudes towards the poor and towards benefit claimants has not been helped by the last Labour government's "No Ifs, No Buts" campaign against (imaginary?) benefit cheats. The campaign was an example (among others) of Labour's betrayal of its constituency.

Labour must revert to its historic mission and proudly and loudly start batting for the poor and for working people if it is to regain power. Blair and Brown were an aberation.

Rant over.


We are bound by capital(ism): us poor people can't do without the work of capital. So, “the rich as heroes”....got to rank as the easiest political mass marketing treadmill to jump on, ever. Hence our current bunch of charlatans, the authors of Universal Credit, and the Brexit debacle, are enabled. Kate asks “Why does government think it has a free pass on this?” I'm asking is it because they know, or they don't know, “the banality of evil” ? Or, perhaps its the fault of our msm journalists/commentators who say they must, (for the sake of 'balance') stay within the bounds of what they imagine their audience, the poor people,'think' never mind what they don't know.

Arthur Murray

Try this link. The title says it all.



«Kate asks “Why does government think it has a free pass on this?”»

The answer is very easy indeed: because a large number of affluent voters in marginal seats care most about zooming (southern) property prices. G Osborne for example is reported as:

«“Hopefully we will get a little housing boom and everyone will be happy as property values go up,” George Osborne is said to have quipped at a Cabinet meeting earlier this year.»

The «current bunch of charlatans» have gained 1m votes between 2010 and 2015, and another 2m votes between 2015 and 2017, because typical affluent voters have been gaining £10,000-£40,000 per year tax-free work-free thanks to what they admire as heroes of wealth creation, not charlatans.
Also the same affluent voters are very happy that less money is being spent on what they think of as idle undeserving frauds, also known as "claimants", another quote:

«Welfare for Osborne was just a bottomless pit of savings, and it didn’t really matter what the human consequences were, because focus groups had shown that the voters they wanted to appeal to were very anti-welfare, and therefore there was almost no limit to those anti-welfare prejudices»

It's called "class war".


And market imperfections are not to be cured but exploited as that is the fastest path to wealth.


Substitute universal work for universal income and everyone should be happy.

Everyone who wants an income must have a job , but everyone who wants a job gets one - full time. What the private sector misses is filled in with government jobs.

Set up the pay/benefit structure for the gov't-guarantee jobs so that they pay somewhat less than their private-sector counterparts , so there is always an incentive for people to move up the skill/pay ladder.

Fred Subere-Albawy

Indeed, this extends to right-wing dispassion for markets.

A strong argument for markets, from the time of Adam Smith to now, is that markets are the best form of economic organisation for giving people what they want. By the invisible hand of the market, producers react to the demands of consumers to give them what the want without any hint of charity - Smith's famous quote rings true.

And yet, when business owners operating in a market react to the tastes and desires of young people by selling them avocado toasts and sandwiches in cafes, do the Right, supposed champions of the free market, praise the market for giving people what they want? Absolutely not, they would rather accuse young people of misspending their money (a dollar spent in a cafe is, after all, a dollar not spent pumping up housing prices). Because markets, from a right-wing perspective, never were, in the Smithian sense, about best satisfying the needs of the populace, but rather about depicting the rich as morally superior to the poor.

And Tories wonder why young people turn to Corbyn, when they are the ones who condemn the young having their desires satisfied under a free market.


The concept of 'strong leader' seems to imply success however impossible the project or unfavourable the circumstances. This is unrealistic, sometimes all a leader can do is follow Churchill's dictum 'keep bu^^ering on' until circumstances change.

From literature and drama and military books we get the idea of a charismatic leader who can overcome all difficulties. But for every platoon commander who wins a victory against all odds there are nine more who ended up shot. Drawing ideas of political leadership from the military or literary playbook seems futile.

Easy enough to add to the literary twaddle regarding leadership, the bookshops are full of it and J Paxman added his 3 penn'th in the FT recently re Political Dullards.

The trouble with British government is it cannot decide whether to be like America or be like France/Germany/Japan. On the one hand it likes the go-getting, can-do attitude of America but dare not face the social consequences. On the other hand our parliamentarians regard careful deliberation and careful implementation as highly inconvenient, to be avoided at all (taxpayer's) costs.

As it is we will spend the next 20 years re-building a highly unsuitable parliament building housing a highly unsuitable parliamentary structure whilst the incumbents squabble over how to be neither America nor Europe. And the wiseacres will still be bitching about 'if only a strong leader'.


«likes the go-getting, can-do attitude of America»

A large part of the english elites like the social darwinist culture of the USA south, the "cavalier" mindset with masters and serfs; the "go-getting, can-do" is more the yankee attitude, and is not so popular here.

«but dare not face the social consequences»

Well, while a part of the middle and working class is also social darwinist, most are nordic-style socialdemocrats, so a texas-style culture is not welcome.


Hi Chris. Agree wholeheartedly with your comment about the BBC and business leaders. What makes James Dyson and Tim Witherspoon of Witherspoons Ltd so qualified? Yes they run a business and yes they are currently making profit. Any leader of a business is going to promote what benifits the business. The BBC promotes their very biased views. These celebrity business leaders are a very very small part of a very large economy. We need unbiased reasoned information and views not self promoting celebrity business leaders.

George Carty

We'll never be like America, because America is America largely thanks to its vast open spaces and natural resources.

However, the infatuation that many Brits (especially less-educated ones -- the highly educated look more to Europe) have with American culture may have gone some way to explaining the Brexit vote.


Incidentally, what could be done to cultivate a more "yankee" attitude in Britain, given that I suspect that this is better for productivity and innovation than either the "cavalier" or "Nordic" models?


«cultivate a more "yankee" attitude in Britain»

The "nordic" model has been pretty good for most people, including its less progressive german version.

But what about promoting, as to productivity and innovation, the mid and northern english and scottish spirit? A bit more Manchester or Sheffield or Glasgow spirit, but with less pollution and worker poverty?

Perhaps England could do with a bit less southern english obsession with becoming courtly Eton/Oxbridge gentlefolk living off rents from property, or trading pieces of paper, and a bit more respect and admiration for "vulgar tradesmen" engineers making stuff, providing services, and organizing business and other "common" type of work...

Sometimes I think that England is still too pagan, and a bit too unfamiliar with the christian idea that Jesus and Joseph the carpenters show that all work is worthy, which is at the basis even of right-wing christian-democrat parties (notably absent in anglo-american countries but for the methodist base of Labour).


The idea of "crony capitalism" is a huge theme on the libertarian right. They never stop droning on about it. I don't know who or what Robin is looking at, but the notion that the right ignores the "captured economy" (new book by libertarian bigwig Brink Lindsey) is way off the mark.

I think the reason it FEELS like they're not however is due to the fact that they still support a certain free market ideal, which to the left just IS defending an economy by and for the rich. And it's not wholly off the mark. There's no reason to think that if the economy were truly actually legitimately free you wouldn't have massive inequality and a system skewed toward owners of capital. You'd just have a somewhat different constellation of winners than what currently exists.

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