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It is easy to be generous with other people’s money

The Labour Party continues its retreat from being ‘New’ Labour by offering to force companies to give new mothers more maternity pay. Quite apart from the folly of making British business ever less competitive since they took office (making Blair a true ‘European’ it must be said), it is morally revolting the way the state interposes itself into contractual relationships and forces one group of people to give money to another in the hope of getting a net increase in votes for itself (not that the Tories are much better, it must be said).

Speaking as a British businessman myself, it is exactly things like this that make me never even consider employing people directly in Britain. It is also one of the reasons why the company in which I am a partner outsources our web production overseas as it simply madness to employ people in this country if you are a small business. But of course Mr. Blair could not really care less about that as all he cares about is short term political advantage because by the time true costs of his policies are felt, he will be long out of office.

29 comments to It is easy to be generous with other people’s money

  • GCooper

    On a similar theme, the LibDems fantasy budget today played equally fast and loose with other peoples’ money..

    According to Newsnight, the proposal to levy a 50 per cent top rate of tax on “high earners” would affect something like 400,000 people.

    So why wouldn’t the masses vote for that? They’d probably vote for the automatic right to sleep with the “plutocrats’” daughters too, if they thought they could get away with it.

    The tyranny of the majority grows ever more tyrannical as the whole scam unravels.

  • Of much enjoyment is the phrase, “offering to force”. That pretty well sums up the mental disease of Labour and hardlineocracy in general.

  • Paul Marks

    Do not forget that the LibDems want local income taxes on top of that 50% tax (and both Labour and teh LibDems will raise or abolish the ceiling on “National Insurance” tax).

    However, there has been no retreat on “New Labour” – this was and remains a clever P.R. ploy. It allows Labour party folk to talk endlessly about “enterprise” and “business” and even “private enterprise” and (if they are Mr Brown) “the American way” – whilst increasing taxes, spending and regulations.

    The only interesting thing about the whole “project” was that quite a few libertarians (or semi libertarians) fell for it. No doubt this is because they (quite unstandably) hated the statist John Major and the rest of the ruling Tories.

    Tories statist so New Labour must be nonstatist – after all they say they are non statist.

    No, the universe is not like that. No matter how bad a government is, there is normally a worse government waiting to take power – normally in the name of “freedom”. Sometimes that is not true (I admit that), but what is true is that people do not tend to join the Labour party in order to roll back the state. Someone may join the Conservative party for this purpose (and then become utterly corrupted), but people who join the Labour party tend to start off as statists – that is why they joined the organization.

    With a few rare exceptions the fact that someone is a member of the Labour party is all a free market person needs to know about him – what this person then SAYS is not relevant.

    Of course the media do not help. Every day the Conservatives were in power the broadcast media (both B.B.C. and the rest) talked about “cuts” (and I mean EVERY DAY) – whereas (in reality) spending went up and up.

    A similar story about the cost of employing someone. That silly U.K.I.P. man makes a joke about “not employing a women of child bareing age” BECAUSE OF THE REGULATIONS – and it is just presented (by the media) as wicked “sexism” (the point about the taxes and regulations is not even mentioned).

  • Verity

    If the Tories gave an iron-fenced promise to abolish the currently obscene council taxes and replace them with a local sales tax (whereupon choice is introduced into mind-bogglin diktat the Brits live under) they could sweep the election. The only people who would vote against them would be the hundreds of thousands who have their gums clenched firmly round the local public teat.

    But there are millions who don’t. And don’t want to pay for salaries, benefits, vacations, maternity leave and pensions for their local verbally challenged outreach counsellors, real nappy counsellors, Urdu interpreters, Bangladeshi translators, AIDS awareness liaison officers, breastfeeding counsellors, street football coaches and the rest of the heavy armour of the socialists.

    Promise to slash council tax to zero within two years and watch the votes roll in.

  • Verity

    PS – G Cooper is right, and his comments illuminate what Perry has been saying all along – democracy is essentially a melée in which a majority will always find a way of bludgeoning the producers of wealth into supporting them.

    In Britain today, we have the vast public sector which, under Toneboy, has grown to rival France’s – around 1/3 of the workforce – who demand via the ballot box to be supported on comfortable terms by the people who create the wealth.

    And all this time, Britain’s economy is being shovelled into the giant maw of socialist/communist Eu-u-u-rup.

  • If the Tories had any sense and guts, they would point out that it’s exactly this sort of legislation that is sending Germany on the road to ruin.

  • Julian Taylor

    The British Chambers of Commerce claimed that many small firms could be “crippled” by extending maternity pay from six to nine months and possibly make part of it transferable to fathers

    Unfortunately for most employed mothers-to-be it would seem that all that dear little Phoney has done is to ensure that employers will now find any excuse to ensure that expectant mothers will be forced to resign their job. I fail to see how it can be feasible to continue to employ someone for 9 months in any occupation at all while not expecting them to do any work, bearing in mind the horrendous levels of both direct and indirect taxation that employers in the UK endure as the burden of employing someone anyway.

  • frank

    It’s ridiculous. On Saturday my barber was saying that he would never take employ/train anyone even though there are plenty of people willing to learn (as it is a good trade); even though he has plenty of buisiness so could easily accomodate extra staff and even though the craft is dying out (according to him, no new people are learning it).

    The reason being that small buisiness such as himself cannot be bothered with all the regulation, inspections and official hassle they get if they take someone on to train. I don’t blame him, but it’s a tragedy, not for him and not for the government, but he earns good money, others could do that job and also earn good money, but the regulations are denying them that opportunity.

    If I had a choice between receiving training in a “sub-standard” environment that would enable me to later earn good money, and a life on the dole/low paid employment; I’d take the training any day, if it was truely unbearable, I would leave, but at least I’m making a free choice and have a chance to do something. With these regulations and training regimes people with little academic inclination are condemned to modern serfdom.

  • Johnathan

    Another joke: The Child Trust Fund. CTFs can be opened by parents who want to save for their kids by getting a 250-quid “voucher” from, what for it: the State, ie, the self-same taxpaying parents. A more perfect example of robbing citizen A in order to pay A could not be imagined.

    The truth of course is that Blair, Brown and even, god help us, the LibDems and the thicker Tories know this. But of course as Perry said, bribing people with their own money is an addictive political habit, as it has been for centuries.

    And yet we fall for it.

  • rollo

    It’s ironic that Britian is slowly being turned into a restrictive and uncompetitive environment for business in many ways, at the very time when it needs a healthy dose of the opposite. Where will we be in 5 years time, at the current rate of legislative frenzy?

  • Euan Gray

    even though the craft is dying out (according to him, no new people are learning it)

    Doubtless this explains the ever-proliferating barber and hairdressing establishments here in Edinburgh, notably manned by young people, not to mention the increasing popularity of vocational courses in hairdressing …

    Where will we be in 5 years time, at the current rate of legislative frenzy?

    Possibly the same place we are now – one of the most competitive and fastest growing economies in Europe (admittedly, against some fairly dismal competition).

    EG

  • Slowjoe

    I saw these proposals a while back and thought “Am I the only one who thinks this is insane?” This is a goldmine of “law of unintended consequences” nuggets.

    Now, I wait for the establishment of a new bureaucracy to ensure that fertile young women have to be employed, complete with “enforcement powers”.

    What would these enforcement powers be? Well, I’d imagine that there will be monitoring of hiring practices. I’d imagine that there might be monitoring of budgeting practices.

    After all, if I’m a department manager with a project to deliver, and a budget to adhere to, I’m going to want a bigger bang for my buck. You don’t need much to make a bigger bang than 9 months holiday. If I’m in a project based environment, with bonuses at stake, I’ll need a lot of convincing to hire a woman, any woman. To get around this, some idiot will suggest that this money comes from a central budget rather than a department budget.

    This is going to depress wages for women in general. If the average employment period for women in the 25-35 age range is n years, and on average, a British woman has k kids in that 10 year period, you have a k/n probability of losing them for 9 months. That is merely bad when a woman is 25, but a 33-year-old, married, no kids will face huge difficulties getting employed.

    Of course, to get around this, some career women will get themselves sterilized. Then a new law will be required to stop employers being informed of this.
    Our new bureaucracy will take a keen interest.

    Finally, what on Earth happens when redundancies approach? Are we going to see a rash of “beat the boot babies”?

    All hail Uncle Tony’s new glass ceiling.

  • Euan Gray

    The reason being that small buisiness such as himself cannot be bothered with all the regulation, inspections and official hassle they get if they take someone on to train

    That is really your barber’s problem. Others don’t seem to see it that way. After all, people will always need their hair cut, so the market is hardly shrinking – in fact, the service sector in general is growing, regulation or not. Regulation will increase the cost and hence price, but this does not in any way seem to be reducing the number of suppliers in the marketplace, nor does it reduce the demand for their services. I suspect your barber just doesn’t want to change the way he has always done things. This is fine, and the market has long established methods of dealing with it – he will eventually go out of business and someone less resistant to change will capture his share of the market.

    I suppose all of this reinforces the idea of moving away from the traditional employment model and towards contracting for (only) a specific task with a given individual. ISTR this sort of thing being lauded hereabouts before.

    The type of jobs where longer term “traditional” employment is needed are increasingly done overseas – manufacturing and heavy industry, for example – because that type of labour is cheaper there. Western economies seem to be moving towards a more service- and information-oriented model, and this type of work can more readily be done from home, or at least in a distributed manner. The spread of high-speed internet access and of course globalisation both encourage this trend.

    Given that, it would appear that this type of legislation will affect steadily fewer people and hence companies, & so is probably not the falling in of the sky.

    EG

  • Verity

    Julian Taylor: “Unfortunately for most employed mothers-to-be it would seem that all that dear little Phoney has done is to ensure that employers will now find any excuse to ensure that expectant mothers will be forced to resign their job.”

    Julian, Julian, Julian … Do you really think this bolt hole for employers has not been nailed up? It will be against the law to dismiss a pregnant woman, or there will be a harsh new tribunal system whereby employers attempting to sack a pregnant will be hauled up and court martialled – plus forced to pay punitive damages to said pregnant employee. It will be against the law to ask whether an aspirant employee is pregnant, or whether she intends to become pregnant. Believe me, this vote-buying scam will be ring fenced with land mines planted on the other side. And snipers.

    The only hope is, the other employees. Regular employees already resent colleagues who are constantly having time off to take their children to the doctor’s and leave early to pick them up from school and so on. In other words, they don’t like people having a job and performing their maternal duties while they, the colleagues, constantly take up the slack.

    OTOH, employers won’t be able to count on nine months’ worth of goodwill from their other employees and will be forced to take on someone, with all the ancillary costs, for that nine months, thus paying twice for this woman’s pregnancy.

    The only hope is, there are more non-pregnant people at any given time, than pregnant people and this may not be the little vote bon-bon that Tone ‘n’ Cherie think it is. As neither one of them has ever held a real job, they may have misread this situation to comical effect …

  • I think that the other main objection to increasing maternity leave and pay is the effect it’ll have on demographics.

    The better the pay and leave options, the more incentive women have to delay having children. Maternity Pay and the right to return to the job have a low value for entry level positions but are highly valuable when you have a well paid professional position. Ergo women delay child birth till they’re in their 30”s by which time its harder to have a decent sized family. The result is the fertility collapse seen in “child friendly policy” Europe.

    Secondly, for the reason that it has greater value to a well paid woman than a sweat sho chav, its also a highly regressive benefit.

    But that’s new labor through and through – tax the hard working middle to pay the well off and ignore the poor.

  • frank

    Euan.

    You seem to be confusing a barber and a hairdresser, I cannot speak of the situation in Edinburgh, but where I live there are plenty of hairdressing salons, catering for either or both sexes, but very few barbers.

    You are correct when you say “Regulation will increase the cost and hence price”, but why should I pay for regulation when all I want is a haircut? I am contracting with a barber for a haircut not with the state to regulate it. If people want regulation let it be optional, let us have regulated and un-regulated and let us see which businesses proseper in the market and which do not.

    You are quite wrong to say it is my barber’s problem because he has a good buisiness, with low overheads. As regards him going out of business that will be when he retires. There is no way a high overhead high cost hairdressing salon could capture his market.

    You write of overseas labour and point out that it is cheaper, but you do not point out the lack of regulation overseas especially all that unnecessary regulation that interferes with everyday tasks such as getting a haircut.

    You conclude with “Given that, it would appear that this type of legislation will affect steadily fewer people and hence companies, & so is probably not the falling in of the sky.” well all I have to say is that if this type of regulation is so unimportant let’s abolish the lot of it, and presumably you wont mind as it’s not the falling in of the sky.

  • Euan Gray

    I cannot speak of the situation in Edinburgh, but where I live there are plenty of hairdressing salons, catering for either or both sexes, but very few barbers

    Here we have plenty of both. We have old hairdressers and young barbers, and vice versa. If anything, barber shops seem to be springing up faster than hairdressers, due to the increasing popularity of and demand for the “hot shave” type of barber outfit.

    There is no way a high overhead high cost hairdressing salon could capture his market.

    But a less conservative and more adaptable barber could. And probably will. In any case, the money you pay for a simple haircut in a hairdresser’s shop is often not much different than that you pay for the same from a barber.

    Naming no names, but with 200 yards of each other not far from my home there is a barber (proper) and a unisex hairdresser/barber. I’d point out that there are at least two other hairdressers I could name between these two shops, and I think others whose names I can’t recall.

    Sometimes you need an appointment for the hairdresser/barber, whereas you just walk in to the barber’s shop and join the queue. The hairdresser barber is actually cheaper than the barber proper, albeit only by 50p. Of course, in your situation the barber may be cheaper than the hairdresser.

    As for the trade disappearing, it is arguable that a hairdresser can be a barber but a barber cannot necessarily be a hairdresser. If there is sufficient demand for no-frills barber shops, it will likely be met even if the people meeting it are in fact trained as hairdressers.

    if this type of regulation is so unimportant let’s abolish the lot of it, and presumably you wont mind as it’s not the falling in of the sky

    Of course I wouldn’t mind. I object to unnecessary petty regulation.

    However, I am also pragmatic enough to realise there are ways around pretty much any regulatory hindrance. In this case, don’t employ women likely to have children (but be subtle about your methods of doing this) and/or employ people only on fixed term contracts with no guarantee of renewal, and change them often.

    EG

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Can we please stop using local anecdotal evidence to prop up our cases? It’s kind of lame. Surely there are greater principles that need defending.

  • Euan Gray

    Can we please stop using local anecdotal evidence to prop up our cases?

    To crib shamelessly from the title of a post a little bit south of here, what do you mean “we?”

    EG

  • Verity

    I’m with Suffering. My interest in the number of hairdressing salons and barbers in Edinburgh is severely limited to zero.

  • J

    “With a few rare exceptions the fact that someone is a member of the Labour party is all a free market person needs to know about him – what this person then SAYS is not relevant.”

    That’s what I most like about blogs. The tolerant open minded attitude.

    J

  • Julian Taylor

    Verity, haha.

    I am visiting Edinburgh in a few weeks and I shall certainly look out for heavily pregnant barbers.

    “Mr. Kinnock was entirely a product of the modern Labour Party — leftwing, close to the unions, skillful at party management and political manipulation, basically convinced that Labour’s past defeats resulted from weakness of presentation rather than errors of policy. He regarded words — whether speeches of the texts of manifestos and policy documents — as a means of concealing his and the Labour Party’s socialism rather than of convincing others to it.” ~ Margaret Thatcher.

    Now who does THAT sound like?

  • Johnathan

    Of course it goes without saying that this proposal comes from a government staffed by people who, with few exceptions, have ever set up a business and had to meet a payroll. They come from a class of society totally unaware of the pressures and demands of running a business.

  • Johnathan

    aaaarggggh, I meant “never”, not ever. I really must drink more coffee before typing.

  • Verity

    It’s OK, Johnathan. We knew what you meant. I think I’ve asked this before, but has anyone in the cabinet, including Tony and Imelda, ever had what a job in the wealth creation sector?

  • Julian Taylor

    In the Cabinet? Only two of them have apparently ever held down what we might term a ‘real’ job, Alan Johnson – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – who used to be a postman before, I presume, becoming a senior union member and helping to destroy Royal Mail. The other is of course Mr 2Jags himself, John Prescott, who’s claim to fame as a steward to first class passengers on Cunard liners was that he was once Anthony Eden’s personal steward … and then went on to eventually bring Cunard’s workers out on strike. The only other member of the cabinet with any worthy credentials would seem to be Margaret Beckett who was an engineering apprentice before going on to become a Metallurgist at Manchester University.

    The rest of them are just your fairly common garden variety of failed Bolshevik lawyers and ex Militant local councillors.

  • Verity

    Thanks, Julian. Re Margaret Beckett, I don’t think working in a lefty university counts as working in the wealth creation sector. I’m not clear about Royal Mail, but isn’t it a government arm or a quango or something? How does working for this catapult Alan Johnson, of whom I have never heard, into the wealth creation sector?

    I think John Prescott is the only member of this cabinet of refugees from the Student Union who ever had a job in the private sector. He deserves credit for at least having had the experience of working for a company with a bottom line, although obviously he hated it. Knock, knock. “Good evening, sir. Here’s your very dry martini over exactly two rocks, gin well chilled, the bartender waved an open bottle of dry Martini over the glass, with exactly two green olives – Spanish, not Italian – with the pimiento stuffing removed, impaled on a tiny little toothpick and I hope it friggin chokes you, you capitalistic pig.”

    Out of all the grotesques currently in government, Prescott’s the only one I’ve ever had any time for. No one can accuse him of aspiring to false charm.

  • Duncan

    Regulations that make it more difficult and more expensive to employ people do nothing but give an advantage to larger already established businesses, which is distinctly un-capitalistic and goes a long way to creating the monopolistic situations that the govt. seems to think is so awful.

  • GCooper

    My thanks to Julian Taylor for that fasacinating information. I had long suspected that few (if any) of the ruling junta had ever held down a proper job. But I have to admit, I’d never realised it was so completely true.