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Samizdata quote of the day

If cutting that welfare state means that women are getting less out now then that obviously means that before the cuts to the welfare state then women were getting more out.

Tim Worstall

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • If we were to prioritize spending on the same needs as the basis of contribution (i.e. those groups who contribute more receive more) this would lead to the opposite of what the lefties want, specifically higher taxation of white males to subsidise women and ethnic minorities.

    In total, the analysis estimates that the cuts will have cost women a total of £79bn since 2010, against £13bn for men.

    It shows that, by 2020, men will have borne just 14% of the total burden of welfare cuts, compared with 86% for women.

    I think a more appropriate question is “How much of the ‘cuts’* were actually the removal of wasteful, frivolous activities (verging on malfeasance) that, if reported in the Daily Mail would be held up to ridicule”.

    I suspect that a “Gender Audit” is the last thing that the lefties would want, as it would shine a light on the massively disproportionate amount that goes towards services and welfare for women and their children.

    * – While muttering “What bloody cuts?”

  • Mr Ed

    What ‘cuts’? Afaik, there have been no cuts, just reductions in the rate of planned increases or shifting other people’s money from one pot to another.

    If there are no cuts, this should be stated and the Left’s narrative challenged.

  • Bell Curve

    Did you not follow the link, Ed?

    “Leave aside even whether there has been any austerity (spending seems to keep on going up after all)”

    Seems Worstall is aware the “cuts” are pretty much fictional, but that isn’t what he’s discussing.

  • Mr Ed


    Leave aside‘ is wrong, as you start arguing having failed to challenge an untruth. Call a lie a lie and the liar a fool and/or a liar and then proceed to discuss. That’s my approach. The reason is you should always start with the truth, then use reason. It’s particularly disappointing if someone knows that the opponent is lying, and lets it pass or just hints at it.

  • Lee Moore

    Tim W’s point is about logic not about the facts of whether there have been cuts or not.

    But as the single commentator (Richard) at Tim W’s site explains, Tim W’s logical point is not valid. It is perfectly possible for women to have done worse than men under the old system AND for women to bear the brunt on the change to the new system.

    So not a very good choice for SQOTD.

  • TomJ

    To illustrate Lee and Richard’s point, cutting one bottle of sherry here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EhyrjbvDHT8

  • Mr Ed

    Tim W’s point is about logic not about the facts of whether there have been cuts or not.

    But there is not much point in being logical if one starts with, or let’s pass, a false premise. Many people I have come across do not accept logic, they just (as it were) go ‘blah‘ and carry on. If they can see that the facts are lies, many will still go ‘blah‘ but some may at the least, have a seed of doubt sown, I would hope anyway.

  • Phil B

    I cannot be sure of the figures and statistics for the UK but here in New Zealand, this is a study that has been done. The 49 page document is HERE.

    if you don’t want to read the whole thing, then look at Appendices 1 and 2 as a minimum which shows graphs of tax paid and benefits drawn and Graph A2.6 in particular.

    I dare say that taken overall, the results for the UK will not be TOO different though likely to be distorted somewhat by immigration. Here, you must prove that you can contribute to society or you are not admitted to the country. Not so in the UK where the Government seems to be quite content to allow immigrants to jump out of the truck and immediately claim benefits, housing, health care etc. …

  • Phil B

    A more – Ahem! – controversial essay on women gaining more from taxation than they pay in:


    The pull quote:

    Men pay over 70% of income tax but the vast majority of public spending is on services for women. Women consume two-thirds of public spending, [and] there are 3 times the amount of gender specific health services for women than men despite the fact that for equal increases in health spending a man’s life expectancy rate increases nearly twice as much as a woman’s.

    Waiting for female outrage on five, four, three …

  • Lee Moore

    But there is not much point in being logical if one starts with, or let’s pass, a false premise.

    I beg to differ. On two main grounds.

    1. You can demonstrate the falsity of a false premise by showing that it leads, by a valid argument, to a false conclusion. If the conclusion is already accepted as false by your opponent, or it is very easy to show that it’s false, this technique (reductio ad absurdam) allows you to demonstrate the falsity of the premise without having to engage with it in detail at all.

    2. Often in argument you are not trying to prove your own argument, but merely trying to refute your opponent’s. Thus suppose your opponent offers :

    [Because Donald Trump is a Russian agent ….{some argument} ……therefore Chuck Schumer should be elected Pope.]

    If you don’t like the idea of Chuck Schumer being elected Pope, you have two quite separate avenues of attack. You could demonstrate the falsity of the premise. But that might take years of Senate Commissions and investigative reports, and anyway it might come to a muddy conclusion. Or you could demonstrate that the {some argument} was logically invalid. This might be achievable with a paper and pencil in twenty minutes, without leaving your own sitting room. If either avenue of attack succeeds, you have exploded your opponent’s argument for Chuck becoming Pope. Sure you haven’t proved that I should be Pope instead, but your opponent has still got egg on his face.

    So a succeessful refutation of the logic of an argument may be a labour saving way of disproving the argument – more labour saving than arguing about whether the premise is true or false.

    But I do agree with your suggestion that the capacity to appreciate logical argument is probably not one of humanity’s evolved features. It’s very much a cultural decoration, rarely used in practice.

  • Laird

    There is room to discuss both the logic of an argument and the truth or falsity of its premises. (That’s why we have a subjunctive mode.*) And Lee Moore is correct: the logic here doesn’t hold. The mere fact that “austerity” (however defined) more strongly affects women than men says precisely nothing about whether women previously benefited to an appropriate or an inappropriate degree.

    * Certain “anti-grammar” mavens around these parts notwithstanding!

  • Paul Marks

    What country is cutting back the Welfare State?


    “Women suffer from the cuts” assumes there are actually cuts in spending.

    Normally the leftist claims of cuts in government spending are lies.

  • William Newman

    “The mere fact that ‘austerity’ (however defined) more strongly affects women than men says precisely nothing about whether women previously benefited to an appropriate or an inappropriate degree.”

    Instead if “says precisely nothing” I would say something like “is only weakly related”. Consider that in a hypothetical extreme, the relationship might not even be all that weak: if an archaeologist learns that when a month of weather catastrophes interrupted 99.999% of supplies, almost all the desert outposts perished while many of the coastal outposts survived, it’s fairly useful suggestive evidence that the benefit of the supplies was greater to the desert outposts. But for modest cuts (e.g., 20%), the logical relationship is pretty weak (at least unless you know something extra, e.g., that the cuts in each subcategory of goods and services provided were very closely proportional to the initial amount provided in that subcategory).

    (In a 99.999% cut, you could know without being explicitly told that in any large subcategory the cut is closely proportional to the original amount provided in that subcategory, because in a 99.999% cut arithmetic guarantees that the amount cut from each large subcategory (perhaps food or fuel) is almost exactly equal to the original amount provided. The only logical uncertainty would be for tiny crucial deliveries in the 0.0001%, perhaps a bit of medicine or a cryptographic key or something.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    What Laird said; and i’ll add something in support of both of his arguments.

    WRT arguing about the logic of an argument independently of the validity of its premises: both Laird and Mr Ed are jurists, so they should be familiar with a concept whose label escapes me at the moment, but i’ll try to express the concept:

    My dog could not have bit the claimant because i always keep him locked up inside; and anyway, i don’t have a dog.

    WRT Tim Worstall’s logic not holding: w/o denying what William Newman said, let’s consider an extreme case: start with a situation in which men get 60% of welfare benefits; then the gov. decrees that women will not get any benefits anymore. Women lose much more than men, and yet men were getting more to start with.

  • William Newman

    And, in case it’s not clear from the way I wrote, my “only weakly related” isn’t intended to contradict something like Snorri Godhi’s example. The weak relationship doesn’t exclude possibilities like that example; roughly, it (arguably) contradicts Laird’s “precisely nothing” because for a very usefully huge class of (basically probabilistic) incomplete things that we might plausibly know about the problem, adding the information about a cut affecting one group more than another lets us sharpen our (new basically probabilistic incomplete) knowledge at least a little bit. (Often, but perhaps not necessarily, tightening it in a direction consistent with TW’s initial claim. Or, if we have reason to suspect we were given the information as a maliciously chosen technically true but misleading soundbite, mostly not worth paying attention to, but still not literally “precisely nothing”.)

    FWIW, it is fairly obviously not so easy to write concisely and also clearly enough to make things like that clear. In fact, beyond that, it is probably non-obviously difficult. Statements about our knowledge, and especially about partial knowledge, can be surprisingly slippery, enough so that it’s difficult to eliminate ambiguities like whether my statement was intended to conflict with the example. Two noteworthy examples of such slipperiness:

    1) the “Alex believes” statements in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frege%27s_Puzzle

    2) the “The foreigner has no effect” proposed solution in https://terrytao.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/the-blue-eyed-islanders-puzzle-repost/

    I have from time to time reasoned carefully about probabilities and partial knowledge (e.g., when doing a Ph. D. on Monte Carlo simulations of quantum mechanics, and later when studying books on machine learning and statistical inference) but mostly this has not taught me not how to express it concisely, more nearly taught me that it can be fairly tricky to get it right and extremely tricky to explain it carefully. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/692216-i-don-t-have-any-solution-but-i-certainly-admire-the

  • Laird

    I stand by “precisely nothing” (in the context of the SQOTD). The only thing one can glean from the fact that women are getting less after the (putative) cuts is that previously they received something. Whether ante they received too much, too little, or precisely the correct amount cannot be inferred, not even probabilistically.

  • jim jones

    Someone made a FOI request to learn how much income tax men and women pay, I believe it showed that men pay about 70% of all income tax