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The Labour Conference

Despite almost universally glum economic projections, infinitesimal economic growth, inflation, unemployment, falling wages and terrible outlook, only You Gov, who weight Mirror/Daily Record readers double their responses in their online panel, now have Labour showing a significant lead. The rest show Labour at best neck and neck with the Conservatives. Labour have lost their Scottish Fastnesses to the Scottish Nationalists. The Tories are making headway in Wales, and Labour no-longer exists at all south of the Severn/Wash line save for a couple of pockets in London.

Labour represents almost no-one in this country who pay the taxes that keep the country afloat. They’re mistrusted by the elctorate on the economy and are seen as the party of benefit recipients, immigrants and the Public sector unions. Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband is risible, even less popular than Gordon Brown at the height of his unpopularity. Only the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls is more universally disliked.

At the conference, Miliband said “I am not Tony Blair” He paused, waiting for the cheers. What happened was that the assorted brothers in the hall hissed and booed at the name of Labour’s most successful ever leader. This is not a party which wants power. They want to enjoy the economic equivalent of smearing themselves in faeces, in opposition by opposing economic sanity at each turn.

Just about the only thing which could possibly save Labour now is a complete collapse of the Coalition’s economic policy. That is possible, but unlikely. (If you vote Labour, and want to take issue with this assessment, please, bugger off. I’m not interested in your economic brain-fart, any more than I would be interested in Halle Berry’s views on the importance of a decent forward defensive stroke). Even if we get a double dip recession, the economy will in all likelihood be recovering nicely by the time the next election hoves into view. In any case, global financial events are behind the slow-down. Just as Gordon Brown was not blamed (rightly) for the recession which Brown is judged to have handled deftly, the electorate do blame Labour for the cuts. The charge that Labour spent too much in the good times, leaving us vulnerable when the crunch came, has stuck. The electorate have surprisingly long memories.

Coming out of the Labour conference was no real, honest admission that they overspent and left the country unprepared for the recession when it came. Indeed whilst Shadow Cabinet members mouthed the need for deficit reduction, no-one really did so with the enthusiasm necessary to achieve so hard a political end, and the talk from the stage was all about the “savagery” or the “callousness” of the coalition’s economic plans. With this attitude, Labour are just not, and will not be trusted on the economy before the election.

Then there is the Boundary review, which I reckon will go through, which removes much of Labour’s inbuilt (unfair) advantage, as will individual voter registration which removes the opportunity for Labour to farm votes in ethnic minority communities. Finally the incumbency advantage will be behind the Tories.


The fact is Labour’s polling is boosted by the fact that saying something to a pollster when times are tough, as now, is a cheap way of telling the Government “I’m unhappy”. Mike Smithson of Political Betting.com believes that Leader approval ratings are a better guide to the future electoral success of parties than the standard “if there was an election tomorrow…” question, as voters in an election are looking for Prime-Ministers. If he’s right, Labour’s toast.

On the Today program, Jim Naughtie asked Ed Miliband “Why do people find you weird?” There is just no way Labour can win an election with such an implausible twat at the helm. Ed Miliband: My favourite Labour leader since Gordon Brown.

Is “Employment” the problem?

By far the most important economic metric, as far as politicians around the world are concerned, is “Unemployment”. If this rises – particularly amongst the middle-class, who can be relied upon to vote – governments tend to fall. This is as true in the democratic nations as in tyrannies. Youth unemployment of over 45% in many Arab nations may have changed the micro-economic risk-reward pay-off of protest. If there are no jobs with which to bribe/blackmail the young, there’s less to lose by being part of a demonstration.

When you take on a job, you take on severe constraints upon your time. Usually you’re expected to present yourself at a time and place 5 days a week and subject yourself to monitoring and surveillance which would be unacceptable in any other circumstance and a gross invasion of privacy. In return your employer pays you a regular wage, whether or not you’ve earned it. The employer is also expected to pay significant levels of taxation as a result of each job, and incurs other burdens such as contractual redundancy pay, insurance and so-on.

The result of this is an economic conflict. It’s in the employees interest to do as little as possible to earn his pay without getting fired. Every office has shirkers who are carried by the rest of the business, or people who exploit management systems’ loopholes to engage in rent-seeking behaviour. On the other hand, it is in the employers’ interest to sweat the labour and earn as much as possible from each employee. This is not to suggest that there aren’t good employers in some sectors where it is both possible and practical to remunerate according to delivery, and see it in their interests to look after their employees. There are, however, employers who exploit the weak bargaining position of their employees to improve productivity through coercive means, and employees who exploit employers (to death: this is why there are few unionised workers in the private sector). The public sector, without real cash constraints, is easily bullied by organised Labour & rent-seeking professionals.

Let’s put some numbers on this. For a private-sector employee to achieve £30k in his bank account at the end of the year (once taxes are taken into account) s/he needs to generate at least £100k of top-line value. If this employee is in a “cost centre” instead of a “revenue-centre”, HR, for example as opposed to sales or the shop-floor, his/her remuneration comes from the excess profit of the productive work-force.

As a result of the sheer cost of guaranteeing a wage month to month, the temptation is to seek revenue from employment which doesn’t add to customers’ utility. The most egregious example of this is perhaps the financial services industry, which sells “products” larded with hidden fees, or insurance to people who don’t need it or who could almost never claim on it. A legislation-protected cartel operates to keep bank deposit interest low and lending rates high. Branches no longer serve their customers, whom they know only from computer records, but instead serve sales targets for corporate markets. Evidence: people don’t change banks because they’re all the same.

Another examples of this “crapitalism” is the McDonalds happy-meal toy, whose negative externalities in the inevitable disposal, manufacture, transport and packaging vastly outweigh the utility gained by the customer. It is a product whose only purpose is pester-power-marketing. You can think of any number of other examples. The disgusting excesses of some of our consumer culture are partially as a result of the drive to manipulate people into purchases they don’t need at any cost. Does anyone think ‘planned obsolescence’ is good for the consumer? Are the people selling this crap, in call-centres, shops; or indeed those making crap in factories around the world really happy with their lot serving this avaricious machine? Should this almost feudal relationship between employer and employee, which could be at the root of it, really be the dominant economic relationship in a supposedly free society?

The crucial thing, above and beyond the crap needlessly produced, is the self-actualisation of the people making and selling it. It is this crucial happiness-delivering facet of the human experience which is missing from much employment in service of crapitalism. Would it not be better if people were able to choose to how much to work, the margins at which they work and their working hours and conditions, and deliver a product or service of which they were proud? I’ll declare an interest: I’m self-employed. The freedom to have more, or indeed less than state-mandated holiday allowances and working hours as necessary, is a huge bonus. As is the sense that no-one is looking over my shoulder, telling me I should be working. My time, even in the office, is my own. I am, in a huge number of senses, free. Even if I didn’t take a holiday for four years, when starting my practice, and building my client-base, the sense I was building something for ME was hugely motivating.

Many of my clients are likewise self-employed: plumbers, builders, property-developers & businessmen. It is risky and certainly tough at the outset for all people who slip the bonds of formal employment, but because the products of your labour aren’t shared with an employer, you get nearer the full benefit of our labour. If more people were self-employed, there would be less work of negative utility: HR, Accounts, Compliance, Health & Safety officers, who serve to enforce legislation which exists only in the EMPLOYED market place would wither. More self-employment would then free these people from their parasitic jobs to do something productive. An ancillary benefit is the state would lose an enormous class of people in the private sector from its control.

But it’s also about more than productivity. The self-actualisation and self-reliance that self-employment engenders are benefits in themselves. The fact that the self-employed have to hand their income tax over in a cheque every six months means they actually think about the dead-weight cost of taxation each and every time they do so. (I’ve never met a self-employed Labour voter…)

At the moment, society, politics and the economy is structured around formal employment, and the resulting drive to squeeze ‘human resources’ (I call them ‘people’) at whatever cost. Employees feel the temptation to rent-seek. Neither of these are good: though these activities may help GDP, they aren’t productive. Perhaps an economy shaken up by de-industrialisation is an ideal opportunity to have another look at the structures of the job market and consider if legislation unfairly supports one form of labour-market organisation. Self-employment works for me. I am not suggesting it works for everyone, but merely asking the question: Isn’t it better to work for yourself, rather than allowing someone to be your boss?

I started this post with the Arab Spring, at the root of which is unemployment. The Tunisian revolution which saw dictator Ben Ali flee to Saudi Arabia started when an unemployed man called Mohammed Bouazizi started selling vegetables in the street without a permit, and the subsequent harassment (he wasn’t making enough to bribe the police) led him to self-immolate. Such is the effect of denying people the right to earn what they can. Whilst a secure job may be preferable in many economies, for many people the guaranteed wage just costs too much. For many marginally productive workers, Spain, for example, has youth unemployment comparable to Tunisia’s, they just aren’t productive enough. What prevents Spain from imploding, apart from the pressure valve of democracy, is a black economy which allows the poor to subsist in the manner attempted by Mr Bouazizi – without the interference of a rent-seeking police force.

Instead of harassing the black economy Western governments also suppress it using an over-generous welfare state, at vast dead-weight cost: people paid to do NOTHING. There’s no need to scrape a living: the state will take from the rich and give it to you, gratis. Is this just? Maybe. But it also comes at a cost; the self-reliance, independence and integrity of the recipients of the tax-payers’ largess, who lose any habit of independence and will never work as a result of their handouts. Would it not be better to deal with our welfare rolls by cutting the hand-out (a CBI could ensure everyone’s basic needs were met), and encouraging people to find something, anything, they can do for other people for whatever they can earn?

An employment market which rewarded self-employment, independent trading, if allied to a tax and benefits system which didn’t act as a massive barrier to entry to marginally productive workers, would cut welfare rolls and could eventually end the concept of unemployment. Perhaps we could also reduce much of the nonsense economy of crapitalism? After all, self-employed people don’t eat unless their product or service is actually valued, instead of being ‘bundled’ with something that is. (Would you pay for the happy-meal toy or the mobile phone insurance which comes with your bank account, unless it were”free”?) Above all, freeing people from employment they know to be useless would improve people’s sense of self-worth. By removing the totalitarian oversight of the feudal lord – your employer – you achieve freedom.

So far, so Marxist. He wasn’t all bad, you know. The temptation in current politics is to play the masters – state & business off against each other. The electorate’s choice is their proxies: Labour & Tories. We libertarians marginally favour the latter, but regard both, or indeed any master, as abhorrent.

Another Piece of Labour’s Subtle Electoral Corruption

Sometimes the British state amazes me. Sometimes soldiers, both TA and regular get sent somewhere at short notice. The same is true of businessmen, salesmen, and a large number of individuals in the private sector. I imagine fewer people in the public sector have to travel at short notice such that they would not be able to vote.

Such short-notice travel is NOT grounds for an emergency proxy vote. The ONLY grounds for the granting of a proxy vote after the cut-off date, two weeks before the poll, is a medical emergency. This is the LAW, and boy, do public “servants” in town halls seem to enjoy telling soldiers that the democracy they are called to fight to defend is not, at this time, open to them. Unless of course they get shot, when it might be.

Not satisfied with the answer from the “head of democratic services” at my council, whom I suspected of being an officious oik, because he not only didn’t see that this was something to apologise for, but who also refused to give me his name when challenged about his frankly stinking attitude, (his name can be found on the Internet: It is clear that David Miley’s a right dick. I rang the electoral commission (02072710600) who were much more helpful.

It is true that a soldier or businessman called away at short notice cannot get an emergency proxy vote. It has been the Electoral Commission’s advice that people in this position SHOULD be granted an emergency proxy vote, however Parliament has not seen fit to make the change to the law. There can only be one reason for this: who’s been in charge of Parliament for a long time? Labour (the Coalition has had but a year to change the tsunami of horrid Labour legislation). In office, Labour saw fit to grant any turd a postal vote, whether or not they even existed. This allowed them to farm votes in ethnic “communities” where the Pater Familias could be relied upon to tick the “right” (i.e. Labour) box for all the people (and a few “people”) in each family.

People who go on the sick are more likely to vote Labour than those called away to fight (or sell weapons to) the Queen’s enemies at short notice. Ergo sickies could get a vote at short notice, but soldiers and businessmen couldn’t.

Everything Labour does, it sees party advantage before that of the country or even basic, decent fairness. This is why I hate them so very, very much. If you are, or have ever been a member of that despicable organisation, you have my contempt.

Osborne’s Budget

Of all the announcements, the merging of NI and Income tax is potentially the most significant. Other than that, the budget contained mostly steady-as-she-goes measures, with the political necessity of meeting a stupid election promise – the fuel price stabiliser.

Let’s deal with the Brownian crap first. Rating benefits and tax allowances to CPI instead of RPI is a stealth tax of some import. In time that will significantly erode their real-terms value. As far as the UK is concerned, CPI has NO basis in most people’s cost of living. You might as well index such things to Rick Astley’s download statistics.

The Fuel price stabiliser: no duty escalator if the Oil price is over $75 (subject to consultation) paid for by a really good, hard dry fisting of the North Sea Oil companies is politically sensible, though economically less so. For those holding stocks in North sea oil co’s, though, it just seemed vindictive. For a practical, micro-level demonstration of how the Laffer curve works, read this post from Capitalists at Work. Politically, Osborne needed to do something to meet the truly daft idea from the election (which when they thought about it for 5 minutes I’m sure they hoped would just go away…) and did so with as little damage as possible. Though why they couldn’t have just cut a meaningful amount from duty to AT LEAST cover the recent VAT rise is beyond me, but the manifesto commitment was met and the papers appeased. Or most of them at least.

Osborne boasted of removing 100 pages from the tax code, which is a start, it’s a sticking plaster on the gunshot wound which is Gordon Brown’s near quadrupling of its length. Why no action on tax credits for example?

But that’s carping, the cut in corporation taxes are welcome – signalling that the Government doesn’t HATE businesses like Gordon Brown did, but I don’t understand the point of corporate taxes: People end up paying it; either the Owners of capital get lower returns, employees lower wages or customers higher prices, some cuts in corporation taxes will be regained by taxes on these: most evidence suggests that with returns on capital being pretty level across countries, corporation taxes fall mainly on customers and workers.

The best news, though is the imminent end to NI, which has long been a fiction to enable what became under Gordon Brown the most complicated and confiscatory tax regime in the world. Thanks to misalignments between the rates of NI and Income Tax, there are two narrow bands where the marginal rate of tax is an eye-watering 62%, and even those on low incomes are taxed at a disgusting 32%. The only remaining function of NI is to hide from the British People the tax they pay. This should have been done decades ago, along with ending the capricious contributory requirement for pensions: it’s tough on women especially, forces people onto means-tested benefits and ends up saving the country very little, if anything. And what is the point of the Employers’ contribution? Why split payroll taxes except to hide from the people how hard they’re being raped by the government?

If Britain’s eye-watering taxes are to be cut, the British People, especially those who are net contributors but believe they aren’t, must have their noses rubbed in how much they actually pay so they start focusing on that rather than the rather spurious “benefits” of most of that money. Put it like this. If you had a 30% pay-rise, you could go on holiday somewhere better than Skegness, save a bit AND save up for Junior to be educated properly. If it weren’t for the complete bureaucratic capture of the Labour party and the public sector, a 30% cost cut could be achieved without affecting “front-line” services, by firing 00’s of ‘000’s of the unnecessary extra whitehall pen-pushers hired since 1997 (a forlorn hope).

A small mention in the budget, though is bigger news. It’s the beginning of the end for Labour’s ’47 settlement. The doctors are getting the health service back, in effect destroying the disastrous and soon to be unlamented NHS (though the name will live on, as it’s the British religion). On welfare, NI, long a fiction is on the way out, and benefits will be simplified. Taxes will become flatter, and lower. Capital and profit will be taxed less and as a result the country will be richer as a result. The budget goes nowhere near far enough in cutting the thicket of allowances and gimmicks, nor does it reduce the enormous burden in any meaningful way, but it sets out a plan which MIGHT lead to these things. As such it’s probably as good as we’re going to get, given the disastrous state in which Labour left the country.

A Handy 3-minute guide to the Budget can be found here.

NEETS

Not in Employment, Education or Training – describing the young, long-term unemployed. Some bloke from a Blairite think-tank, Demos was brought on to Radio 4’s ‘Today’ to discuss the idea that Youth unemployment was growing, had been growing for some time and young people are finding it hard to get the first jobs.

“Entry level work has dried up for the last 10 years…”

…he said, though he did not make the connection, the national minimum wage act was introduced in 1998, at a low level at first, where it had little immediate effect. However the populist ratchet – steady increases in the minimum wage (often clawed back by Gollum Brown in tax-rises) has slowly done what we savage right-wing nut-jobs said it would: make the unskilled totally uneconomic to employ.

NVQs have their place – when earned on the job they can demonstrate skills learned, but the statist idea that Government training schemes and a bit of paper can make someone attractive to an employer must be challenged for the idiocy it is. The only skill most unemployed lack is the regular habit of work, and this can ONLY be addressed by a job – a first job is going to be easy, boring, possibly unpleasant and probably low-paid. That’s why they demonstrate willing. An NVQ from a government mandated training scheme suggests you aren’t willing to take shitty work, and aren’t very bright either.

The halting, stilted interview with a NEET reinforced an impression of a state “education” system which fails to prepare people for any form of work – her speech peppered with

“…like… um…”

I thought she was a teenager. She was 24. Her NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) had not, as she thought, helped her into a career in journalism, but had instead signalled (clearly and accurately) that she was, as the unkind acronym suggested, ‘Not Very Quick’.

The demos interviewee suggested removing employer contributions from NI for the under 25s. Of course that writes off those children of Blair who are 25 now, but have never worked and risks having young people sacked once they hit the line that suddenly makes them a bit more expensive to employ, but he is thinking along the right lines. But why not slash all taxes on the low-waged (I find it disgusting we take any tax at all off someone earning £10,000 a year), and scrap the policy which caused this human misery in the first place: The minimum wage. Let people get a job – as they gain skills their wage will go up, instead of throwing a generation on the permanent scrap-heap of unemployment.

That army of listless hoodies outside the local job-centre is not a result of the credit crunch – though some of it may be, most have been there for many years. It is mainly the result of policies introduced many years ago. The 25 year-olds, educated under Labour to expect well-paying jobs straight out of school, or conned into believing that a 2:1 in “media studies & Gardening” from Northampton university is in any way equivalent to a proper degree, now find the world of work to be not what they were promised. 50% of people getting degrees and demanding employers pay uneconomic wages does not change the economy. These kids’ expectations were raised, then cruelly dashed.

Once again, the Labour party used legislation to try to make water flow uphill, and ended up destroying lives.

A headline you will not see on the BBC

More than half of Labour Donors “from The Unions”
Almost all donations to the Labour Party last year came from the Trades Unions, it was revealed last night. Trades Unions, shadowy organisation responsible for decades of industrial unrest in the 80’s and 90’s, were accused of not only buying policy, but also of influencing the choice of Labour leader. Union donations to Labour, which is bankrupt, buys them a say in elections to decide who leads the party. Union Barons strongly urged their members, who have a vote in the election of the Labour leader to back the younger Milliband against his Brother, a choice which was against the wishes of the Party’s MPs. Mr. Milliband, known as ‘Red Ed’ because of his strong links to the Unions and left-wing views, has moved Labour sharply to the left since taking over from Gordon Brown last year, leading to suggestions that the unions have undue influence in Labour’s adgenda. But Mr Milliband denied suggestions that the Unions were buying policy.

“it is ludicrous to suggest that Labour’s almost pathalogical aversion to public sector cuts, even in the face of catastrophic fiscal circumstances, (which we caused) is anything other than insane adherence to outdated marxist economic dogma. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the fact most of our funding coming from the public sector unions has any influence on our policy of spending ever more on unionised public-sector workers”

he lisped unconvincingly, before being firmly ushered away from our correspondent by two large men in UNITE-branded high-viz vests.

Real Wages, After Tax.

Politicians need to be measured on their performance. Typically Labour ones like to be measured by how much they spend (they use the word “investment”) on public services, because they think the NHS is a proxy for morality. (The established church concurs). Both Tory and Labour ones like to be measured by GDP growth. Tories like tax rates. Liberal Democrats are motivated mainly by facial hair and sandals.

All like to be measured by unemployment, which is reasonable. But the cause/effect loop is much, much slower than media and politicians seem to believe. A government’s action has it’s effect 12-18 months into the future – unemployment is steady and high, and it’s still labour’s fault and will be for a while, in so far as the effects of Government action can be separated from the vastly larger effects of the business cycle. Most of the fall in unemployment expected in 2011 will not be down to George Osborne’s budget, but to the brute effects of the business cycle.

Most of these measures of politicians’ performance are deeply flawed because they measure things that don’t, in themselves matter, or are only marginally affected by politicians. GDP is only part of what makes people feel richer. In addition to employment, what actually matters to people is disposable income after tax and housing costs (so long as the housing costs aren’t reduced by house prices going down). On this measure, Labour is one of the worst governments in history. Real wages (adjusted for inflation) are lower than they were in 2005, and the tax-burden is higher. Housing costs may have dropped for the 20% of households on floating rate mortgages, but remain stubbornly high for everyone else. Only in the great depression did real income stagnate for so long. When you take the effects of Labour’s lunatic rise in the tax burden, people’s disposable incomes have fallen steadily since 2005 and were stagnant even before the crash. That is the Labour legacy.

How does this compare with our competitors?


Well if you look at 2000-2008, the UK under Labour was towards the bottom of the OECD’s table. Of the major economies only Germany (whom Labour now exhort us to emulate – despite their lamentable record on youth unemployment and economic growth) and Italy fared worse. Britain’s Post-tax disposable household income rose only 14% in those 8 years, and 2008-2010 were much, much worse. Labour’s economic record, as felt by the population as opposed to that reported by the press, was dire. I can’t find the data, but if the Bank of England Governor reckons the situation’s got worse since 2008, then who am I to argue. Gordon Brown’s lunatic tax-binge, no private sector growth, all helped cause it. A devaluation of the pound may help keep exports flowing out, but the people pay for it in much higher fuel and food costs – over and above the rise in their dollar price on world markets. Once again, the people pay for the politician’s focus on GDP. If Mervyn King is right, the result of 13 years of Labour is almost NO improvement in real wages after tax. None, in 13 years.

This is why the people are sullen and angry – they were told that a boom was happening prior to 2008, but because the flawed measure GDP was being used, they couldn’t work out why the boom wasn’t happening to THEM as they had to struggle harder and harder to make ends meet. The blame has been successfully laid at the door of the banks because of the credit crunch, but a lot of the leg work in screwing the economy was done by Labour prior to the crash in stagnating private sector employment and increasing the tax-burden. There was no Net Growth in private sector employment under labour’s watch, and despite the “booming” economy youth unemployment rose. I blame the minimum wage for pricing the young out of the labour market for starter jobs, which have been taken by immigrants instead. But that opinion marks me out as a savage right-wing nut-job who would bring back slavery, because the left tell me all the time that the minimum wage has had NO effect on unemployment.

On top of a rising tax-burden and the pricing of young unskilled people out of jobs, the burdens of council snoopers, intrusive government and ever poorer services meant the people who paid for the whole shooting-match couldn’t see the benefits of their sacrifice either. Labour forgot that tax is money taken from the people who earned it, in final analysis, by the threat of violence. Pay or the police will eventually kick down your door and take you to gaol. Politicians have to deliver something to the people who pay it, instead of feather-bedding a client state of ever more generously funded welfare claimants and public sector prod-noses. These prod-noses take resources FROM the public services – money which could be spent mending roads or supplying a heart-transplant is instead deployed on a Labour-voting fuck wit with a clip-board saying “no” to people. Would you rather have your pot-holed road re-surfaced occasionally, or a Diversity outreach co-ordinator for one year? Me too.

Now, with the deficit running at 10% of GDP as a result of over-generous benefits and a vast client state, the Government is borrowing £1 in every £4 it spends. Spending cuts (making services EVEN WORSE, as bureaucrats don’t cut their own preferring to slash the “front-line”) and tax-rises are set to remove even more of people’s money. Furthermore rampant inflation, not captured by Gordon Brown’s fudged CPI measure, serves to further reduce people’s standards of living. The sins of a decade of Labour’s criminal mismanagement of the economy are going to be felt in materially lower standards of living for the next couple of years. All of the rises in living standards under the early years of Labour (themselves nothing to crow about) are going to be proved to be illusory in the next few years.

Labour’s solution in office: Pay people in the public sector to do unnecessary jobs. Their “growth policy” opposition: Continue to pay people to do unnecessary jobs. Whilst it MAY support GDP numbers in the short term, because of the debt burden it creates merely delayed the day of reckoning with reality. However much Labour bleat, the cuts are Labour cuts, they are the result of a decade of criminally wasteful overspend across the whole public sector. We might as well have been paying men to dig holes and fill them in again. In fact, that might have been better, because those men would not be getting in the way of the productive elements of society by standing there with a clip-board saying “you don’t want to do it like that…. “

In truth, Labour admit that the deficit needs to be cut. In private, they will agree that 2011 was the year that LABOUR CUTS would have started. The Tories may be going a little further and a little faster, but CUTS! are the only show in town. However Labour choose to present it, they know it’s their fault. And deep down, so to the British people.

What is necessary to prevent this insanity recurring is a measure of Government performance which takes into account the tax-burden as well as growth. That takes into account the benefits of state spending but reflects the actual prosperity of the broad mass of the British population: Disposable income after tax which should be compared to disposable income after tax and healthcare costs in other countries. If people get richer, the Government should be praised, if they get poorer, the Government should be punished. Steadily rising income makes people happy. Having to struggle makes them sad. This simple economic measure, if more widely reported than the illusory GDP would render moot Cameron’s Gross National Happiness. It would reveal the lie at the heart of the Brownite plan of the Noughties to shovel ever more state spending at unreformed public services, and instead reward Governments for tax-cuts.

My guess is that cutting taxes (starting with corporation tax) and slashing spending whilst simplifying the welfare state and marketising both health and education in the pursuit of economies in the public services, is exactly the medicine the economy needs to improve household disposable income after tax. I don’t say this because I am a Tory. I support the Tories because I think they have the right plan.

Why NetrootsUK is Doomed to Fail

Netroots UK is the project by centre-left bloggers to “build the progressive grassroots online” in order to…

…make better links between campaigners from the worlds of politics, environment, development, civil liberties, unions, community groups…

…to share ideas for using social media to campaign against fiscal sanity the cuts. It all sounds terribly worthy, and I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than attend an event sponsored by the TUC where the key-note speakers include the likes of Sunny Hundal of liberal conspiracy, Sunder Katwala of the Fabians and Brendan Barber Current occupant of the Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov memorial chairmanship of the All-Union Central Council of Trades Unions.

Of course this is all new to the Lefties. For the last 13 years as the social media cranked up, a broadly sympathetic Labour party was in power. Online activism consisted of emotional blackmail of Labour members and persuasion of more or less influential MPs to sign early day motions. Once the Party lost power, their activism returned to type – violent protest, with the people smashing things and chucking bricks broadly condoned by the more moderate elements because it’s a symptom of “the anger we all feel”.

This “anger” is not directed at the policies for most of the “activists” at the rallies and demonstrations. It is tribal. The Labour party is not in power, so they’re now free to indulge their adolescent angst. It doesn’t work. The students had broad support, until they started disrespecting the cenotaph and pissing on the Statue of Sir Winston Churchill. Now the Government has a sympathetic ear from the tax-payer as they explain how their policy isn’t the herodic horror it’s been painted by the NUS.

So in order to “fight the cuts” the TUC is organising a day of speeches, and (FFS, they are parodies of themselves) ‘workshops’ in order to thrash out the unified message they’ll try to sell the rest of us. No enemies to the left, don’t split on the Labour brothers, don’t wash the movement’s dirty linen in public. Self-proclaimed “voice of a Generation” and New Statesman hack, Laurie Penny put it nicely

We’re listening politely whilst appointed arbiters of the centre-left mow the grassroots into a neat, acceptable bourgeois lawn .

Compare with the Right, Tory and Libertarian blogosphere which united to oppose the savagely illiberal and fiscally incompetent Labour government. I write about what interests me, for no-ones’s benefit but myself. If anyone’s persuaded or wants to argue, great! If someone thinks it’s useful, even better. Otherwise, I don’t care. Because there was no attempt at all from CCHQ to manage or control the message, or in anyway organise the message (I know – the Pre-Election bloggers’ forums organised for sympathetic bloggers by Eric Pickles which I attended were more by way of “thank-you” piss-ups), it was more credible. Guido, Conhome and Iain Dale built their readership BECAUSE they aren’t mere salesmen for the party. The bloggers who railed against the Labour government are now taking David Cameron to task, perhaps without the rage, but remaining independent of the Party and true to whatever grinds their axe. Even Conservative Home is often highly critical of the Leadership, whereas Guido often mocks the lefties for their complete refusal to cover stories damaging to the Left.

The result of this partisan hackery is that,under the pretext of getting rid of the Trolls (in practice this means ‘people who disagree’) and using the “network” the left-wing twitterati and blogosphere will build up at Netroots UK, they will end up speaking only to themselves. Enjoy your earnest, but deeply boring discussions about how to build a “progressive consensus” in the hermetically sealed echo-chamber of tedious student-union Marxists who never grew up. You can guarantee you’ll persuade no-one who doesn’t already agree that Red Ed’s problem is that he’s just not Left-wing enough.

Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics. And Asian Rapists.

Whilst I don’t always agree with Chris Dillow of ‘Stumbling & Mumbling’ he is excellent at challenging the cognitive biases which infest everyone’s political discourse, including mine. Just as Dubner & Levitt attempt to eke out the counter intuitive truth by the careful use of the data, it is important to challenge your own thinking, even if you don’t agree with where the logic takes you. You may think something is true, and a data point in the media confirms it. Money quote:

when we are discussing low-probability events – crime, risk, whatever – we are prone to all sorts of cognitive biases. The way to correct such biases is to use statistics. In not doing this, Mr Straw is inviting his audience to draw some inferences which might not be warranted.

Quite. If you got your information from the news, only pretty blond young women ever go missing & get murdered. So, you think Britons of Pakistani descent are rapists? That Islamic traditions lead them to be particularly prone to be abusive abusive of white girls? In Egypt maybe, but the statistics certainly don’t back that up in the UK. If a Tory had alleged what Jack Straw (albeit heavily caveatted) alleged this week, the left would have have been jumping up and down with hyperventilating accusations of racism. Jack Straw gets a by, perhaps because he’s not a racist, though that would not be a valid defence for a right-winger. But he does put people in groups first, and thinks of people as individuals second, if at all. You aren’t an individual, you’re a member of your collective. From there it’s a short intellectual step to shooting people in ditches for the good of the party. That’s why I loathe the collectivist left, but that’s a subject for another post. Much of the “libertarian” blogosphere is going to be collectivist this weekend.

I don’t like Islam, any more than I like any other religion, and I especially abhor the ‘Islamic’ attitude to women. I don’t like the idea of large, closed unintegrated communities in the UK. But the truth is Pakistanis are LESS criminal on average than ‘whites’. Practicing Muslims are amongst the LEAST criminal demographics, and the same is true of the devout of all faiths, and I know I’m going to see a lot of anti-Islamic stuff connected to the Derby case on blogs I normally agree with. Recent immigrants live in poor towns. When Pakistanis see “white British culture” they don’t see an am-dram production of ‘Pirates of Penzance’ at the local theatre or a cricket match on a village green, they see blood and vomit on the street every Friday night, the result of another aspect of British culture, whilst they’ve been at the Mosque. Under those circumstances, would YOU want to integrate?

So. There are bad apples in EVERY community. The two men convicted are vile racist rapists, who have received long gaol terms. The Pakistani “community” wasn’t on trial for these rapes, and nor should it be. Those two men were.

Unemployment. Not caused by what you think it is.

In another post inspired by the chaps at Hagley Road to Ladywood, I take issue with Claude’s characterisation of the Tories as heartlessly stoking unemployment for political gain. This annoys me for several reasons, not least the idea that Tories enjoy causing misery, but also because it demonstrates so many levels of misunderstanding about the economy in such a short post that I could barely contain myself.


What the keynsian head-banging left is trying to achieve is to “stimulate” the economy by deficit spending. This can take the form of tax cuts or spending. They both have the effect of increasing the deficit. The aim is to borrow demand from the future to boost the economy now. I don’t believe it works: look at Japan 30 years of “stimulus” and all they have to show for it is 40% of Tax receipts going in debt service and debt at 200% of GDP. This punk keynsian approach hasn’t worked anywhere. Ever.

So. The first premise against the cuts is wrong. It won’t tip the economy into recession any more than spending will stimulate it.

The next premise is that the Tories are going to increase unemployment by firing hundreds of thousands of local government workers. Unemployment is the last economic indicator to turn. It usually turns about 18 months after the economy starts to recover from it’s bottom, and polices to influence it are noticed, if at all after a similar delay. It is therefore to blame the Tories for the direction Unemployment is travelling about Summer-Autumn 2011. Unemployment is rising: That’s still the Labour party’s fault.

It may seem foolish to increase the rate of job losses. This looks stronger than the rather stupid idea that cuts will tip the country into recession, but it too is wrong, because as I’ve argued many times, cutting the deficit is vital to prevent a catastrophic collapse in the economy, and that can’t be done without a smaller public sector payroll. And it’s wrong mainly because this level of job-losses can be absorbed by a recpovering private sector even without boom-level growth. Don’t believe me? The UK workforce of 30,000,000 from 1988-2008 lost around 2.2m jobs a year, so an extra 300,000 is neither here nor there. Except that it isn’t 300,000 as there are nearly a million jobs CREATED in the public sector each year. This 300,000 is just those jobs lost which will not be refilled. In fact, the rate of job destruction is remarkably constant during the economic cycle. The most important thing influencing unemployment is the rate of job creation. In the context of an economy which creates around 150-200,000 jobs a month, even now during what is regarded as a pretty horrible economic time, the idea that the private sector will take up the slack, although derided by leftists, is easily believable, if you’re prepared to look at the facts.

Some people on the left don’t think anyone should be fired, ever. That’s just naive. If you want to have a grown-up debate, it is important to accept that jobs have to go from time to time. If you accept that, you need to ensure that there are jobs to go to, and of course for all the reasons mentioned, it is important to look at what increases the rate of job creation.

The government, insofar as it is able must make it less risky for employers to hire. If you cannot fire a worker once hired, this increases the risk of hiring him in the first place. This means that if you make it easier to fire, there will be MORE jobs created, and unemployment will fall. This single piece of counter-intuitive logic effectively negates everything the left believes about employment.

So attempts to stimulate the economy by spending fail, because they destroy the economy. Attempts to mitigate by preventing people getting fired fail because they cause MORE companies in trouble to go bust, and they make it riskier to hire, reducing job creation and resulting in HIGHER unemployment.

In attempting to reduce a small evil – being fired in a dynamic economy, the left condemns millions to a life on benefits without the hope of work. Leftist policy is to the benefit of insiders – those with full-time public sector jobs (especially unionised insiders) but that is the detriment of everyone else, tax-payers, the crowded out private-sector. But most catastrophically the unemployed.

The Tories want the same as Labour. Low unemployment. The fact is the Tories have a MUCH better track record in delivering it. Every labour government since the war has left more people languishing on the dole than when they took office. They also usually left a weaker pound, currency and fiscal crises.

The state is the wrong tool for the job of reducing unemployment, and state spending or fiscal stimulus vies with job protection polices for the most catastrophically counterproductive policy to reduce unemployment. In fact the best thing the state can do to create jobs is build infrastructure (that basically means roads) and bugger off, leaving the people to use it as they see fit without interference by Government. People’s natural desire to solve problems and get rich will see to it that anyone who wants a job can have one. Once you sort out the over-generous welfare state to see to it that everyone actually wants one, then you have full employment.

The less the state does, the better. Every solution the Labour party regards as axiomatic PREVENTS full employment. You might even think that they WANT an enormous client state of servile benefits recipients to reliably vote for the (Labour) hand that feeds. But even I’m not that cynical. Never attribute to malice what could be attributed to mere incompetence.