Is Libertarianism “Unfair”?


by D.J Webb

I have umm’d and aah’d for a long time over how to approach this issue, because it often seems that libertarianism is an ideological reflex of personal interests. For example, Allister Heath at City AM, generally fairly free-market in his approach, called recently for tax reform, but a “reform” that would retain taxes on income and profits and avoid imposing any levies on the occupation of land. On this very LA blog, many people otherwise libertarian in their general views have seemed vituperatively to oppose shifting taxation from income and profits onto property. Such people are often vocal in decrying any attempt to talk about the “fairness” of the free market, while happy to accept state intervention to skew economic opportunities in the interests of those who already have wealth and property. It is likely that most people who are “free-market” in their view of economics are simply expressing their own interests in the economy.

However, Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance has indicated, for example, in his views on limited liability, that libertarianism should not be a ginger-bread group for corporate interests or the interests of the well-heeled alone. We have to be able to talk to the broad mass of people today and explain why libertarianism would work for them. We cannot only talk to people who are economically successful, but need to forge arguments around why things could be better for everyone. If libertarianism would not be a better approach for most people, then there would be no cogent argument in its favour. Consequently, fairness in society and the economy is a valid issue for most people to raise, and it would be foolish of libertarians who have money, don’t need the state and don’t want to pay more in taxes to argue the case for their views purely along the lines of their own self-interest.

Unfairness is natural

Fairness is central to economic and political discussion nowadays, usually in the context of demands for compensation for some allegedly unfair (or often a blatantly unfair) economic outcome. The “fairness” agenda holds back the entire economy by making it difficult for companies to sack staff who underperform or who don’t fit in, and also imposes costs on all consumers of services, in the form of higher charges across the board to pay for the shakedowns being successfully achieved by others. Libertarians clearly are aiming for a free society, not an equal society, and so, to that extent, the outcomes we would favour would be classed by others as “unfair”, because not all members of society would have equal life opportunities in a libertarian economy.

However, this is also the case today, and has to be the case in every possible configuration of society. A truly equal society is a society that is on the verge of starvation, where the economy produces no more than is needed to barely sustain life. This was probably the case in Stone Age society, before a greater economic surplus allowed the emergence of a class of priests and rulers who did not have to occupy themselves with tilling the soil or herding animals. Since that time, every attempt to create an equal society, including the glaring example of the Soviet Union, has, by necessity, produced a society with a clearcut division between the rulers and the ruled. Therefore, it is difficult to deny that society has to be unfair in the modern age. We can’t all be chiefs; some of us have to be Indians. There are only so many positions in the economy for executives and senior managers.

This generally then leads into a discussion of equality of opportunity where there can be no equality of outcome. This line of approach holds that unfair social outcomes are acceptable, as long as we all have an equal chance at becoming managers or executives, or taking other top positions. But equality of opportunity amounts to the same thing as equality of outcome, given the left-wing fondness for claiming that unequal outcomes are the key means of determining whether opportunity is being unfairly distributed or not. For example, women today do have equal opportunity, or better than equal opportunity given the rise of political correctness, to become board directors, but it is held by many that the fact that most directors are male is in itself proof that women are being held back. So it seems that equality of opportunity is just an abuse of the English language, a rephrasing of the goal of equality of outcome in more acceptable terms. When it comes down to it, the left are still demanding equality.

People are different: women have different average personalities, for instance, and there is an increasing body of evidence that people of different races have differing average IQ levels. Once we add cultural background into the mix, there is no reason to expect people to have equal starting points in life, let along equal socioeconomic outcomes. “Unfairness” therefore is, to a large extent, just the way the market sorts out who is to get the senior positions in a society that produces a social product well beyond the needs of bare subsistence for all, and therefore capable of supporting a wealthier ruling class (and indeed, a prosperous stratum of middle-class hangers-on).

Generally speaking, people do deserve their socioeconomic outcomes in a free market. And to the extent this is not true, it is just tough luck. It is indeed “unfair” that some people are more beautiful—I myself consider it to be unfair that some people are born with blue eyes—but that is life. And no intervention by the state will make things otherwise.

State intervention produces unfairness

State intervention claims to even up social outcomes. To some extent, this goal is supported by most people, not least because of its role in fostering social stability and keeping a lid on crime. Extremely unequal societies often incur additional costs in the form of security and policing, and where some social spending can maintain stability, it is in the interests of the wealthy elite to allow this. For example, the French queen, Marie Antoinette, may have in later life regretted the fact that nugatory sums were not made available before the French Revolution for the distribution of bread to the poor of Paris. This is also probably why charitable donations were considerable in nineteenth-century England, as the wealthy sought to keep society functioning.

However, massive state intervention on the level that is practised in the UK is entirely counterproductive. When 50% of GDP is spent by the state, it becomes clear that a large part of this is being captured by a public-sector elite, and where the money does go directly to the indigent, it fosters in them habits that prevent the normally functioning of the economy, reducing economic growth and the creation of job opportunities, which would have had positive effects on social welfare in the absence of state intervention.

While disparity in earning power should be accepted in the private sector—footballers, for example, earn far more than most people can earn, but are not embezzling our taxes—the same phenomenon in the public sector is much more repugnant. And this is a form of unfairness that libertarians should be prepared to decry. I was surprised to read, during the recent scandal over the removal of Slovak children in Rotherham from a family that supported the political party UKIP, that the “director of children’s services” in a dead-end northern town was earning more than £130,000 a year, plus expenses and pension contributions. This put her in the same earnings bracket as the prime minister—and in Rotherham, it would be a salary that very, very few in the private sector could hope to command. While this is not legally classed as theft, morally, in my view, paying a bureaucrat doing a job that if it does need to be done by the state at all could be done just as well by an operative earning a quarter of that amount does amount to stealing public funds.

It is idle for libertarians to deride calls for more “fairness” when some people have access directly to the public purse and can lift such sums therefrom. Claims that the main fraudsters in society are “welfare queens” and “benefit scroungers”—i.e., by and large, single mothers who are not working, but hardly living in luxury—are wide of the mark indeed. I want to cashier the state bureaucrats as a matter of much greater urgency.

Then there is the issue of pensions. Local government pension contributions account for one-quarter of monies received as council tax. Shockingly, people who have no other pension provision—other than reliance on the state retirement pension (of around £5,000 a year)—are being forced to pay council tax so that council workers do not have to rely on the state retirement pension themselves, and do not have to take out their own self-invested personal pensions either. It seems difficult to deny that we have a grossly unfair system—not, in fact, the natural unfairness of the free market, something that has to be permitted in a competitive labour market—but the overt defrauding of working people by bureaucrats who claim they need to be employed in order to combat the unfair economic outcomes produced by the free market!

We can also see those who benefit from state scams to address “inequality” as helping to produce additional forms of state-created unfairness. Some people can sue for discrimination if they lose their jobs, on the basis of their race or sex. I have never been able to argue that being an white Englishman is a source of discrimination, but I have been aghast at the trivial compensation suits that are often settled out of court where an obviously disruptive member of staff has been able to insist on a payout on racial grounds. Far from evening things up, this makes things more unfair—for people like me! Compensation payouts are another creation of the state. Many of these run into telephone-number-like sums, including the nurse who won nearly £500,000 for pricking her own finger with a needle: apparently she was “traumatised for life”, but why the need for any payment at all? Much of what the state and the courts are doing nowadays has little to do with fairness, but is producing a lottery-style outcome, where certain talentless individuals are able to walk away with large sums for nothing.

State encouragement of novel family arrangements and broken homes also fosters social inequality, in that children are much more likely to be brought up in poverty by single mothers. The statistical correlations with juvenile crime and violence are also quite high. It seems odd that we seem obsessed with equality of social outcomes while trying to make it possible for unmarried mothers to bring up children without the support of the fathers and without any sources of income other than state welfare. While preventing inequality is not a libertarian goal, state policies that heighten inequality are repugnant in every sense, in that they tax incomes and profits, prevent the creation of jobs, foster crime, and fail to achieve the ostensible goals of state intervention in terms of creating more equal social outcomes.

It seems clear to me that state intervention does not prevent unfairness, but in fact produces its own types of unfairness. Unfairness is impossible to eradicate without stifling economic growth altogether. And other negative effects are also produced, including the destruction of the education system in order to allow those who attend bad schools (or who are lacking in intelligence, or who come from broken homes, which are themselves encouraged by the state) an equal chance in life.

Unfairness in wages

Libertarians ought to accept unfairness in earnings in the private sector as a natural phenomenon. Theoretically speaking, the free setting of wages in contracts between employers and employees should not prevent workers from receiving a living wage. No minimum wages set by the state are required. This is because workers need to survive; the workforce needs to be reproduced; and workers need to be able to take part in a normal level of consumption in society. In a free economy, there would be no tax credits to top up wages and no benefits: employers would not be able to pay wages that were so low that they imposed social costs.

It is important to see this issue from a whole-society perspective. Clearly, there are employers who relish the chance to employ people from Eastern Europe on the minimum wage, which amounts to around £13,000 a year. But this is not enough to live on in the UK, and certainly not enough to raise a family. The fact that people do take up positions offering such wages reflects the availability of tax credits and benefits for people in work that makes such salaries, while paltry, just about survivable. For the company concerned, it is good economics; for the economy as a whole, it is a bad deal, as someone has to pay the taxes that cover the social costs. Magazines like The Economist that tirelessly propagandise for immigration do so, no doubt, out of recognition of the fact that vested interests in the economy support cheap labour, but it is economically illiterate to support mass immigration of unskilled labour, when we have millions and millions of idle unskilled people of our own. The assumption must be that the state is picking up much of the tab, but as the state has no money of its own, the outcome for the economy as a whole is pretty dire, as the current economic slump shows, with so many millions having been allowed to become dependent on state handouts, which makes it difficult to cut spending at a time when a reduction in the state is desperately needed.

The UK doesn’t save anything by allowing free immigration of unskilled labour, because what is gained in higher profits by the freeriding companies concerned is more than compensated for by losses imposed on the tax base as a whole. Furthermore, free immigration, far from being a libertarian concept, is a form of intervention in the labour market that prevents wages from finding their appropriate level. Low-end jobs would attract higher salaries in the absence of immigration, simply because the labour market would tighten, and workers would be able to demand wages that allowed them to keep themselves healthy, to raise a family, and to rent or buy property in regions like London without state subventions. Clearly, markets for durable goods need customers, and so allowing the free market to operate naturally would allow wages to rise to a level that enabled workers to participate as consumers in the market.

Once again, we see that the British economy today is unfair—and it is not the natural disparity of incomes produced by the free market that is the culprit—but the way immigration has been used to support property prices and hold down low-end wages. There is nothing free-market about the ability of employers to offer work for £13,000 a year and find workers willing to take up such places. That such low-end workers probably support the state and its payments and tax credits reveals the fact that they do not realise how the labour market is being distorted against them by the state and its schemes, including the immigration scam, which aims to allow companies to privatise profits and nationalise costs at the expense of the general taxpayer.

Finally, we come to the unfairness of executive pay. Executive pay has soared out of all connection with average salaries in the UK, and while libertarians would support wages finding their own level in the free market, it is worth asking whether remuneration committees of listed companies are doing their jobs effectively. An unlisted company, owned by the family founders, is not a legitimate subject for libertarian scrutiny: an entrepreneur who founds a company and retains 100% ownership of it can pay himself what he likes. A listed company has millions of shareholders, and the large sums bandied about by remuneration committees are the shareholders’ money. Just as the Libertarian Alliance has supported abolishing limited liability, I think the LA could also consider the issue of minority shareholders’ rights in the face of boards of directors and remuneration committees who behave as if they are the sole owners of the companies concerned. Companies do need to be able to pay the going rate for their talented managers, but votes on pay packages by shareholders at annual general meetings should be binding, and be considered in law to fully unpick any contracts signed on their behalf between AGMs. Some kind of reining in of “share options” is also appropriate. If executives want to purchase shares in their companies, they should do so on the open market at the market price, taking their fair share of risk as they do so.

Property fraud

Finally, we come to the essential issue of landed property, which is the fundamental form of social scrounging in the UK today. Land is not the result of anyone’s activity; it is the gift of nature. No one has absolute title to land, because there was no one who originally owned it to buy it from. There can be no question that levying a land value tax is an attack on “property rights”, because no one has allodial title to land in the UK, as “freehold title” is just tenancy in fee simple held of the Crown, in whom allodial title is vested along with the common-law right to levy an assessment on land. Contrary to claims by some on the LA blog, this has nothing to do with David Ricardo or Karl Marx. It has everything to do with the fact that land is a common social resource that is not the product of anyone’s labour.

Clearly, there is unfairness in property in the UK. A whole generation of young people are growing up knowing that they can either sit on benefits or take a job paying £13,000 a year, with the likelihood of never being able to afford to buy a property, as government policy has over decades boosted the property market and it cannot retreat on this policy without a large impact on the banking system, most of which has foolishly been taken into public ownership. This “unfairness” is not the natural result of a free economy; John Stuart Mill himself supported a land value tax, which would prevent the passive capturing of socially-created values by a rentier class, reduce taxes on labour and capital, and ward off cycles of boom and bust that have made life in the UK so expensive, as property values have diverged from wages so sharply over decades.

A home is not an investment. It is a place to live. And someone who has “invested” in a property by building an extension might reasonably expect the increase in the building value—when calculated separately—to be capitalised in his estate, but cannot expect the increase in the land location value as the result of infrastructure developments paid out of public taxes to be capitalised in his estate. This is middle-class land fraud, where the wealthy and not-so-wealthy have thrown in their lot with the financial services sector and the banks by sinking their entire savings into freehold property in the hope of capturing site value increases paid for by others.

The implications are considerable. Not only do parents who own their own houses now see their children growing up in a world where they could never expect to buy property, but the astonishing rise in property prices in the South-East in particular has pushed up executive pay and public-sector pay to allow executives and the self-entitled public-sector bureaucrats the lifestyles they feel they need. The taxpayer has to stump up colossal sums in housing benefit to pay the mortgages of buy-to-let landlords, where much smaller sums would have been sufficient without the land value boom of the past few decades. Many on benefits have effectively been priced out of the labour market, as they could not hope to earn enough to pay rents/mortgages on the properties they live in if they did not have housing benefit. The rise in the cost of living necessitates tax credits that could simply be eliminated if property were much cheaper.

Many private businesses are extremely land-value-sensitive. Nursing home fees include a large contribution towards property rentals, often drawn up on overtly fraudulent rental agreements providing for “upwards-only” rent reviews. The workers in the nursing homes are themselves on the minimum wage, and it would be difficult for average fees to be as high as five-star hotel bills without high land values. We can add the state’s willingness to pay nursing home care bills into the mix, but in truth the state has been forced into this by its other policies designed to boost the property market and the banking sector.

The fact that people who have no assets have their full care bills covered by the local government, whereas those with assets are asked to pay towards their care, strikes many people as “unfair”. It is of course unfair. But the whole setup of society as currently constituted, with massive tax burdens, state intervention in property and state encouragement of unskilled immigration, is also unfair. Many of those who have reached retirement without putting any savings aside have achieved this purely because of the low-wage, high-taxation, mass-immigration and high-property-price economy that has been created—laughably—in the name of “Thatcherite” free-market economics. Those who are in nursing care having their bills paid never really had the chance to earn a living wage in the first place, and, where they were on benefits for much of their lives, their participation in the labour force would have been deterred by the low wages, high taxes and high property prices beloved of successive governments.

Weep when you read it—the government has imposed a £75,000 “cap” on nursing home fees, so that the heirs of those who own property can inherit the capitalised increments in land value passively gained by their parents or other relatives simply by managing to buy property at the right time. This ought to be known as property heirs’ benefit, because it is a form of social scrounging in its own right. Why should the taxpayer be paying purely to prevent a nonagenarian who will never be able to return to his former property from having to sell the house?

Vested interests and libertarianism

Consequently, I reach the conclusion that libertarians, while supporting a free economy, do not need to support the vested interests that lie behind massive state spending, huge tax bills, wages repressed by free immigration, and a raft of policies to support the banking sector and the property market. There is nothing free-market about any of this. And yet, apparently, most libertarians seem to believe that the various intertwined levels of unfairness produced by all of this are just the natural product of market forces.

Nothing can make any society truly equal, and we shouldn’t even try. It is another thing entirely to be constantly intervening to help those who already have money maintain their position in society at the expense of labour and capital. Young people entering the labour market now face an economy dreadfully skewed towards the interests of older generations, public-sector mandarins and the banking sector. “Let them eat cake!” cannot be the libertarian response. After all, if libertarianism means anything at all, it means that labour and capital must be set free. That way leads to employment creation, an end to welfarism, higher living standards, and the self-respect of people who are masters of their destiny in a free market. This form of libertarianism could be supported by people of all levels of income, as they would all benefit from a free economy. Such a free economy would not be fully equal, but inequality would not be being fostered by the state, and such inequality as existed would be natural, earned and deserved—and therefore, by and large, “fair”!

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36 responses to “Is Libertarianism “Unfair”?

  1. Life is indeed “not fair”. Some people are born with rich parents – some people are born with parents who are too poor to even even or clothe them.

    Some people are born with rich but uncaring parents. And some people are born with parents who dedicate themselves to teaching their children the lessons of life.

    And on and on……

    People who demand “equality of opportunity” are indeed like wolves howling at the Moon. Some people will always have more opportunities that other people – starting with who their parents are.

    As for the tax system.

    One can argue all day about whether taxing property (for example the grandmother who owns some land that she has allowed to become a nature reserve) is less bad than taxing income and profits.

    In truth ALL taxes are bad. And the higher taxation it is the worse it is.

    Never mind the details – look at the overall numbers.

    And the source of high taxation is HIGH GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

    The Western world is not going de facto bankrupt because Western governments tax income and profits but not land – the West is going bust because government spending is out of control, i..e the WELFARE STATES are out of control.

    Lastly on equality……..

    If someone really wants to reduce inequalities and, at the same time, help (not hurt) the economy in the long term, then end the flow of credit money from the Central Banks.

    It has been known for a rather a long time that “cheap money” (a policy of low interest rate monetary expansion) helps the rich at the expense of the poor. Indeed the process was explained by Richard Cantillon (John Law’s partner in “legal” crime) back in the 1700s.

    If someone is really offended by “exterme inequality” then turn off the credit money tap.

    “But the financial system will crash Paul”.

    Of course it will crash – but that is going to happen anyway.

    The policy of “cheap money” (low, or no, interest monetary expansion) is prolonging the process – but also making it worse.

  2. “We cannot only talk to people who are economically successful, but need to forge arguments around why things could be better for everyone. If libertarianism would not be a better approach for most people, then there would be no cogent argument in its favour”

    Not so. There are two fundamental errors here.
    Firstly, in a capitalist economy, even the lowest labourer is “economically successful” compared to the slaves in North Korea or even the working masses back in Russia back in the Soviet days. So capitalism, or what’s left of it, works tor them too.

    Secondly, the second part is false. There WOULD be a cogent argument. If some part of the population works hard and is wealthy, EVEN IF it would be practical to “redistribute” their earnings to the rest, it would be DEEPLY IMMORAL. The fact that the productive class might cut back on production under such a scheme is secondary.

    Which brings me an essay I about this. I have expressed this many times, but here comes a summary:

    FAIRNESS AND NATURAL RIGHTS

    Two concepts that are often used in debates about society. They are actually fraternal twins. The Cosmos – and your typical dictator – cares naught about either.

    Both have strong adherents, arguing about what is needed for a good society.

    However, there are also serious differences, hence “fraternal”.

    Natural law, while hard to define exactly, is strongly influenced by the some of the Ten Commandments, most importantly the one that commands “Thou shalt not steal”. Thus that people should be secure in their persons and their property. The US Constitution reverberates with this thinking, most clearly expressed in the third amendment.

    The interesting thing about the Natural Law is that if you take to proponents of Natural Law, you will likely find vast areas of agreement, and disagreement only on minor points.

    Fairness, on the other hand, is largely subjective. Most people’s (and indeed most peoples’) ideas about Fairness diverge massively, even among what would loosely be called conservatives, as the article describes. In fact, it is useful to think of Fairness as the ugly twin sister of Natural Law, fairness tries to please everybody, but if they compare notes they will realise that Fairness pleases nobody.

  3. One of the most insightful articles I’ve read for a long time.

    Me and many other Brits without child dependants have been living on £13,000 for years without tax credits. Fortunately, a few of us managed to buy property before the prices went up. I feel sorry for some of my colleagues who spend half their income on rent for a town house.

    The work is hard and unrewarding. No automatic pension provision, no sick-pay and no sit-down tea breaks. Yet, council workers in our city get a ‘living wage’ guarantee and all the benefits.

  4. Thanks, Nick. While I support a free market, I don’t support a skewed or distorted market – which is what many Thatcherites and rightwingers actually are really supporting. Immigration is a key part of how opportunity is removed from working-class Englishmen. Did you notice in the Stafford hospital scandal how many of the nurses weren’t English – including Romanian nurses screaming “I hate you” at old age pensioners in the ward. This is what we’ve come down to – and the worse thing of all – we are not allowed to comment on it! Immigration, the EU (with its free migration, massive regulation, its £11bn bill for the UK, the giving of our fish away to the Spanish its insistence on ‘climate change’ nonsense, and the way the agricultural policies push our food prices up by 20%), taxation and the constant intervention to prevent house prices from falling to their logical level – they all form part of a combined approach that has made this an unpleasant country to live in.

  5. Its the same here in Norfolk, Since becomming sick I have had to live on on
    £5,000 per year and pay rates as everyting else, I tried for tax credit and they
    refused. Nick the system is unfair, it’s double standards, in the NHS they
    get full pay for first year, reduction for second and third, if they have to go
    on wealfare they are allowed to keep pension not countered as income, I
    lost mine as a result of being private sector, the whole system put in place
    by the government is legal theft, it’s the same with the new wealfare law,
    the government has inserted provisions where X council and government
    workers are subject to a different law to everybody else, on transfer to
    ESA they don’t become means tested on the basis of a new decision for
    12 months where everybody else does, and their pensions remain intact.
    It is really just the injustice of none democratic governments, there is nothing
    more you can say on the subject.They won’t change the system, they would
    Bank Robbery legal, if they were ones who were committing the act. It’s
    a North Korean type regime, they falsely claim to be a democracy!

  6. Yes – what we have is not socialism, but it is not a free market either.

    It is not even what T. Parsons called a “Functional” society (1950s America which, in spite of its many faults, worked) as it is radically “dysfunctional”.

    In most Western countries about half the entire population depend on government (either as employees of it – or on benfits) and about half of the economy is, therefore, government spending.

    Anyone who thinks that government spending at anywhere near 50% of GDP is sustainable is barking mad.

    And the rest of the economy is controlled by thousands of pages of regulations – with banking and financial services being the most (not the least) regulated part of the economy. Bankers (and other such) are highly paid – but they are essentially government servants (dependent on the flow of credit money from the Central Banks and govened by government commands – the same governments that then denounce the bankers for the very policies that the Central Banks, and other such, pushed).

    The present system (both the fiscal side and the monetary side) is a mess – and it is going to fall apart.

    This is not 1950s America (“functional” although horribly flawed) – the status que is not a sustainable option.

    Radical reform is needed – and it is NOT going to happen.

  7. One historical footnote…..

    I was reminded yesterday that silver stopped being used in normal British coins in the 1940s, in the 1960s the United States followed (and its coins became fiat tokens just as ours already were). The United States had once been much further from collapse than ourselves – but it caught up (those fleet footed Americans!).

    Which of our two nations will collapse first?

    My guess is that they will both collapse together – at the same time that many others do.

  8. djw, they have an employment agency in Norwich now that only want’s immigrant workers, on he basis of this is what compaines request, person I now who is englsh, tried to register there last week and was told at the moment being english there was nothing available.Of course the new economy is not just effecting the working class, it is effecting the middle class as well, as the economy continues to melt away, so will their power base coninue to disappear, at the moment many are going bust or selling assets to stay afloat, I remain convinced, there is a secret agenda to bring about he destruction of he English, It’s the same with the CRB laws, they are being used as a loophole to employ migrant workers on the cheap, immigrants and the English within in the NHS are geting away with very serious criminal group activities, simply in order to keep costs down, the verbal assaults you have witnessed are nothing to compared to what I have witnessed and experienced, you can no longer call a health service, it’s become part of the state police and a convevoyor belt of abuse we are learning to accept as being the new normal british way of life.

    • Oh yes. Unlebenswertiges Leben coming to a hospital near you.
      But there is a grand scheme here, in almost all the Western World, to destroy the middle class. In large parts of Europe, the goal is pretty much achieved. In the UK, nearly so. In the US, the process was slower until Obama. Middle class, more than anything, is a mindset, which includes self-reliance. But taxation, Nationalised medical care and mostly nationionlised pensions make this self-reliance impossible for most.

      Once the middle class is broken, and fells (mainly because it will be true) that they live at the pleasure of the government, they are supplicants, not applicants. Thus, with the middle class neutralised, only very few will want to reduce government and the millenum can begin,..

      Thor

  9. Paul, point of fact, we will collaspe before he US, it all tied into natural wealth assets, the US ave more than us, so will las longer, towards the
    end of the second world war, you could establish who would win victory
    in the sky on the basis of loss, production figures alone, which of course
    proved correct conclusion.

  10. Karl – well unemploment is higher in the United States than here (and the Americans also have vast numbers of people on “disability”, indeed more than we do).

    On the other hand British manufacturing output is back in decline again – and American is not (formally – at least not yet).

    And British semi “prosperity” – is tied to “The City”.

    I.E. to magic pixie dust, and fairy castles in the air.

    So you may well be right.

  11. They have dietary problems in some cases, that have caused an explosiion
    in diabetes heart conditions, much the same in Germany, of course they
    had fried fast food earlier than we did, hence the higher numbers of diabetes
    and linked conditions, i have done some reseach on this, there is a link to
    food, as established by some german doctors I have met.

  12. Firstly, paul, what you describe about the unfairness of the english socio economic senario is correct, life is indeed unfair, Britian is indeed a better example of this analogy, where people who have access to wealth do better in life, of course the bastards I have the most are the people who one might of known for decades, they suddenly inherit lager amounts of money, and overnight they drop all their previous moral and political beliefs and become yuk people discovering the indepence their inheritance has provided, from maxist, to conservative slave baron overnight, their previous social circles melt away, as they rise above man it’s self, unfrotunately for me my family reversed it’s wealth during the 19th century, from riches to rag’s as they say, dropping to level of self sustained existance to say the least ! History shows us, that wealth status changes through the centuries, and in the current climate this will proceed at an even faster pace, we must try at least to make society fair, and provide opportunity for all, however with the legacy of the Blair government, and the creation of the new economy as Dian Abbott called it, this may become a much more difficult task, firstly the new middle class Blair creation, relies much on the priciples of nepotisim, where we see whole famlies taking more than the lions share, not forgetting the corruption weapons they use to retain this new found powerbase, which, on the face of facts, they won’t to give up without fight. I fair in reality and reflective analysation, true equality or equal opportunites may never return to the UK, think the new power base, will become more oppressive to retain their new found wealth, as fragmentation continues, only an idoit paul. gives up a gold mine without a fight.

    • If you are interested in upward mobility, you might try learning English. I very rarely make personal comments, but you ask for it.

      And ” true equality or equal opportunites may never return to the UK,” is a counterfactual statement, there never was what you might call “true equality” in the UK or likely anywhere else, despite protestations of égalité here and there. Upward mobility is only for those who work at it. And yes, the British government spent about a 100 years starting circa 1880 at demolishing the upper class (mostly landowners). In the end, starting around WWII, the government – under various parties – largely destroyed the middle class. Thatcher reversed that trend, but only for a while.

      Thor

  13. Paul, don’t forget the new breed of “Socialists” with 29 milliom pound bank balances and assets. Equality they say, fairness. (Bollocks I Say)

  14. Yes Karl – let the banks crash.

    No more bailouts.

  15. There are no jobs at the moment, so I think the argument upward mobility
    will be achieved by this mechanisim is rediculous, rember Norman Tebbit
    on that one, most of those who got on their bikes are still living in poverty,
    get in the ral world at least.

  16. Come, come, now, learn english indeed, I am not a migrant and I don’t right in the time of 1066, firstly your arguments are outdated and more importantly totally unworkable, many people in full time employemnt are unable to even consider buying a house, the governments have created and built in economic “Berlin Wall” that no one can pass through, what do you suggest? They dematerialize like some specter in the night and pass through into the world of mobility that does not exist. You may have learned to write english; you’re main problem appears to be the fact, you are unable to understand or comprehend the situation as it is. (Very Big Problem Indeed)

  17. PS sorry for not having spell check and auto tab like some ha…ha…. if I wanted a computor that could type a document for me I’d join the “Woodentops”!

  18. Personally, I feel a few minutes on the keyboard is wasted on some people!
    But at least some consolation, you did manage to reply, if abeit from a past
    time zone of political and economic yesteryear! Seance reply!

  19. People like you are worth tree taps of the key pad… seem to live in your own
    world and belief system, with no perception of other peoples economic plight, there are a certain minority of people I detest, the kind who by
    some freak lottery chance get the top, and tell everyone else to get on
    their bikes and do the same, when all intelligent people know it is impossible,
    Norman Tebbit and friends I bid you farewell!

  20. @thorodinfrey “Firstly, in a capitalist economy, even the lowest labourer is “economically successful” compared to the slaves in North Korea or even the working masses back in Russia back in the Soviet days.”

    But at least in poorer countries, poverty is a shared experience and you can still have a family. In the UK, in-work poverty makes you a social outcast, and as an added punishment you pay taxes to support women and children who don’t even notice your existence.

  21. It was indeed the government who created the baby income society, particularly the Blair Govenment, hence why so much of the wealfare buget
    goes abroad now, people found that having babies is a viable profession that
    pay’s well, I don’t just blame the poor, the middle classes now think they
    should have free child care at everybody elses expense as well. (Cheek)

  22. Anyway, slowly but surely a form of modern slavery is cancering it’s self
    across the UK as the second recession starts to bite, a recession, within a
    recession, that is comming.

  23. T. Don’t take it the wrong way, I am mearly trying to relay the situation as it,
    point of fact, a “Steam Engine” would no longer be an acceptable means of
    public trasport, what may have been possible historically is no longer possible today, those gates are now well and truely closed! People no longer
    get to the top by those methods today. England has changed.

  24. Sorrey mi spellick is littla bade, I jusb got my A livles A+, I leoking for a
    blod now as a tournalist, wile tri and imbrove my spellick, if it is a prodlem
    for youuuu.

  25. There are still American industrialists alive who were born poor – Jon Huntsman (senior) is a classic example. Born in a house made of cardboard, knew what it was to go hungry – became a billionaire industrialist and has devoted his fortune to offering research and medical care against cancer (superior to anythikng any govenrment on Earth provides).

    However, the ranks of such people are getting thin – for a modern company relations with the government are vital, as a single regulation or court judgement can destroy years (indeed decades) of work,

  26. It’s a funny thing, the other night I was talking to an old farmer, the name Bernard Mathews, cane up, we just reflecting on his success, but then alas, the farmer quite rightly pointed out, with all the red tape and law’s today, Mr Mathews simply would not be able to start his business , he would not succeed in today’s business environment, the laws today would not allow a start up business to run that way, hence the demise of the self made man , the westminister police, have locked these gates! The North Korean dictators at westminister hold our destiny, while they enjoy the former lifestyles of these self made men!

  27. Don’t think i was getting at you T, just a bit banter.

  28. Most people think the market is fair enough. They think the welfare state is unfair.

    This is in stark contrast to the outlook of the colleges or of journalists or the House of Commons but having now left college the journalists and politicians are a bit more like the general public than they were in their college days. They rightly consider themselves that bit more realistic than they were in college.

    I have yet to read John Bates Clarke, who famously equated justice with the market, but note that Marx never held that the market system was unjust, but rather that it was just on its own terms. On this, he was way ahead of the silly socialists that say that capitalism is unjust, as they usually have silly things to say on that head, and what they propose in terms of fairness is not so good.

    On the market we earn our wealth by serving others. John Rawls was confused on many things, as was Robert Nozick, but he, at least, saw, more or less, that on the market, the rich make the poorest class better off. Hence his Difference Principle that holds that inequality is justified if it aids the lowest or poorest group. That is exactly what the division of labour institutionally does. Rawls was right to explicitly put liberty before equality.

    The rich do play the role of allowing capital accumulation. All wages tend to be higher in the UK than in India because there is more capital accumulation but in the USA they are higher still, higher than in the UK, owing to greater still capital accumulation. Taxation is the thing that tends to lower wages, as it tends to hit capital accumulation.

    Capital accumulation is why we get mass immigration, of course. Had investment flowed out around the world, as it seemed to be doing before 1914, we might have a more evenly developed world by now with no mass alien immigration that gives rise to a lot of strife in the host areas or nations.

    There is nothing unfair in sacking a worker just as there is nothing unfair in a worker leaving a firm.

    It is not likely that people felt equal in the Stone Age. Equality is a modern fetish. Who are the others who see liberty as unfair, I mean people outside the Politically Correct colleges or schools?

    The USSR was not an attempt to create an equal society.

    Yes, the ideal of Political Correctness [PC] is the ideal of equality in action but it is alien to the outlook of the general public, who see it as perverse. They understand Dr Johnson when he held that all society requires subordination but the libertarian or pristine liberal has it that modern society is a class not a caste system so we can move up or down. The college student who works at Tescos might well return as the managing director of the firm. No one is confined to one job. And all jobs serve the customers, who usually later serve the consumers; many of which are mere children.

    What is called “the left” are the pristine right. It is noteworthy that only just lately the Labourite leader has adopted the one nation jargon of the celebrated leader of the Tory Party, Disraeli.

    Yes, the Tory/Labourite demand is for the equality of outcome.

    Why is it unfair that some girls are beautiful? Why is it unfair that some have blue eyes? Do you equate fairness with equality? Not everyone does. Most people have most likely never done that.

    It is not likely that many philanthropists thought in terms of maintaining the social order when they did charity work in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. That is merely the crass Romantic paradigm that nearly every historian is wedded to. There is way less in the world than in their outlook as well as more to it too.

    Yes, the state not only has a nominal dole but also semi-sinecures where it pretends to employ people, which is a de facto glorified dole. Both are very wasteful.

    It is not only D.J. Webb that thinks the welfare state introduces unfairness for nearly everyone thinks that. Politicians respond by saying the public are mistaken, and maybe they sometimes are, but very few do think they are.

    What unfairness is there to eradicate? The market, as Adam Smith rightly held, makes for long run equality but we can expect fresh short run phenomena to emerge to maintain current equality like changes of fashion, new inventions changes of demand fresh entrepreneurial innovation and the like but most of those short run inequalities ensure that the long run equality is a levelling up on the market. The state cannot rival it as an institution that puts all people near enough equal. We are way more equal today than they were 500 years ago but that is owing to the market, not the state, So if the so called left do value equality then they need to get rid of the state and allow the market to get on with it.

    DJ Webb tends to get evermore Tory as he writes on. Of course we can live on £13 000 a year and bring up a family too. Society is not a whole. Anyway, wage levels relate to output, not to money units. If we can get more output then all wages will tend to rise. Cutting taxes will cut the funds the state has which might lead them to cut the dole that will get more into jobs or the state may even the civil service pay that will also tend to more to leave it to get to work on increasing output.

    The Economist likes to be PC. That is why it advocates mass immigration but the effect of immigration on wages would tend to push real wages up, as they push output up. That would be the case as more workers tends to boost output, the sole cause of higher wages. That is what capital accumulation tends to boost also. However, alien phenotypes will tend to increase strife in society too.

    There is a perennial shortage of “unskilled” labour in the UK; and also in the rest of the world. Read The Ultimate Resource (1981; II 1996) J.L. Simon.

    The reason workers are on the dole is because they are paid to be on it, not because there are enough or more than enough of unskilled workers. Most jobs are going to be unskilled in the future, as they were in the past. Most jobs will always be unskilled. The crass over rating of education is a recipe for mass unemployment. It promotes fools to be above the work to be done, as with the graduate nurses in the NHS, which now needs a few unskilled girls to do the work that is below the status of the graduates, as well as other students with a big debt that now need to go on the dole to dodge ever having to pay it off. Education, by being abused as a barrier to entry, has become part of the problem in the UK rather than part of the solution, as Richard Cobden had hoped. He erred badly on state education.

    The tax base is a wasteful zone anyway. Cut taxes then firms will pay their own way. To say that I do not admire this exceedingly silly “case” against large firms is an understatement.

    Higher salaries tend to be lower real wages. Even daft Keynes saw that.

    D.J. Webb gets things the wrong way round when he writes: “Clearly, markets for durable goods need customers, and so allowing the free market to operate naturally would allow wages to rise to a level that enabled workers to participate as consumers in the market” Goods are aimed at customers rather than being made then finding customers anyway, by either advertising or by giving wage rises. Has D.J. Webb been reading J.K. Galbraith? Anyway, immigration cannot hold down real wages unless it is immigration to go onto the dole or into state employment.

    I suppose that the high level of top pay might be owing to a lack of competition but anyway the state or taxation system makes more problems that it can ever aid.

    The arguments against limited liability look silly to me. The spread of risk it introduces looks fair enough tome.

    D.J. Webb seems to over estimate labour as well as land. It simply is of no relevance that land is a gift of nature, so are human beings for the most part.

    D.J. Webb sees a political system of subsidy that locks out the market but he wants to say that land is behind it rather than the state protecting people from market prices. The land, too, can be allocated socially according to market prices but never by the state.

  29. I reply to some of the ideas I see above below. It is a perennial fact that there will always be a shortage of labour in the mass urban society but even most economists overlook that fact.

    It is not clear what you are referring to when you say that life is not fair above, Paul.

    What does it matter that some are born to rich parents?

    Not many in the twentieth century UK have had parents who cannot afford to clothe them, but I suppose there are some around the world like that.

    We all have a superabundant of options, even if some of us are way richer than others.

    Money does need to be denationalised, as Hayek rightly said. Only then can we cut out taxation by inflation.

    The market has no rival in equalling up society, but it will never reach any sort of complete equality.

    Yes, D.J. Webb, the NHS does have foreigners who hate the English working for it. I was regularly sworn at in the 1870s, but the nurses who shore at me knew only that I was male and white, as I never saw them either before or after they changed my dressing on my right arm; and did not bother to be rude back to them.

    Yes, Political Correctness attempts to ban free speech on that.

    The EU is attempting to become a giant nation.

    50% dependent on the state is sustainable, Paul. It is what there has been! The late USSR maybe had even more dependent on the state and clearly it could have continued indefinitely. Gorbachev decided to change it but any other would not have done so.

    It was always the case in the 1960s, prior to the rise of the million unemployed in the early 1970s, that firm did not want workers who were on the dole. So none ever went to the dole back then, but then they did not need to, for the jobs were clearly superabundant. The wages levels asked were realistic. Since 1971, they have been pitched that bit above clearing rate. Potential jobs in the mass urban society will always be infinite, Karl. But if you hang out for higher wages when there is a pool of unemployed then that pool never need clear.

    The Poles show that fact that there are jobs in the UK to be the case, as do the illegal immigrants. But all this talk of low wages displays that we are now demanding just that bit too much to clear the market. Once that is done, then wages can be bid up way higher that the initial clearing rate.

    Tebbit was futile, as he was sending people to ask for wages above the clearing rate. There are never any jobs at a higher rate of pay than the going rate for the job. If one is unemployed, he needs to take a lower wage/salary to begin with.

    Firms clearly think that Poles want to work but that the English do not.

    Not many collapses will ever happen. That idea is not very realistic. The USSR could have gone on indefinitely.

    Intelligent people do no know there are no jobs in the UK, Karl. The idea that you have is false, and anyone can see that, as anyone, intelligent or not, can see illegal immigrants from India or EU immigrants from Poland get jobs often in the UK.

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