We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – lazy lump edition

“Almost unbelievably, nearly a quarter of our working age population is reported to have some form of long-term illness or disability that in most cases prevents them from working. The numbers are more alarming still among younger cohorts, which theoretically should be the healthiest and most able to work. Among 16 to 24-year-olds, one in eight are being signed off with long term health conditions.”

Jeremy Warner, talking about the state of the UK economy. Let’s be blunt: a large chunk of the population in the UK are lazy, stupid and with all the ambition and zest for life of a lump of concrete. In the 21st Century, it seems frankly absurd that a quarter of the work-age population are ill or incapable of doing anything. It is a disgrace.

51 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – lazy lump edition

  • Sean

    Is there a difference between the sexes I wonder?

  • Mark

    Can’t means won’t as I was always told at school (cough) years ago.

  • Lee Moore

    a large chunk of the population in the UK are lazy, stupid and with all the ambition and zest for life of a lump of concrete

    I’m sure twas ever thus. The difference between then and now is that in t’olden days, lazy stupid folk had the stick of starvation and the carrot of, well, carrot, to stir them into action.

  • The numbers are more alarming still among younger cohorts, which theoretically should be the healthiest and most able to work.

    What is the phrase “theoretically should be” doing in that sentence?

    – Either there are a lot of medical stories in UK media, going back years, about the astonishing expectation-inverting health trends of the young – stories which I’ve somehow missed – and also some follow-on stories expressing great surprise at how much better we’ve nevertheless being doing in the olympics in recent times.

    – Or else the single word “are” would fully suffice.

  • WindyPants

    I have a long term medical condition. I’m in my mid-forties and have ran my own business successfully for the last 15 years or so and have never claimed any disability benefits. I found out recently that I need a pretty substantial operation – an operation that will take around 6 months to fully recover from.

    I assumed that this was the sort of scenario that the various benefits were designed for and, as I’ve been compelled to pay in for years, I have no compunction about claiming what I’m entitled to. Unfortunately, Mrs. Pants also works and, as our mortgage is mostly paid off, the government’s largesse runs to a mere £70 per week.

    To claim the sorts of money that you read about in the tabloids requires an almost professional approach to ordering your affairs. Firstly, don’t ever try to buy a house or accumulate assets. Secondly, your spouse must give up their job. Thirdly, never set aside money for a rainy day. Follow these golden rules and you’ll be sorted. Show any independence or self sufficiency and you are only fooling yourself.

  • Steven R

    I read an article a decade back about a Swede who got on the dole for his addiction to, get this, Heavy Metal concerts. He claimed he couldn’t hold a job because going to work interfered with going to concerts and it worked. The people in charge for Sweden’s disability system said it was a legitimate illness and he gets a nice fat check every month and doesn’t need to work, just rock on.

    I was more mad that I didn’t think of it first than anything.

  • Exasperated

    Over what time period has this increase in disability been occurring?

  • Jim

    “In the 21st Century, it seems frankly absurd that a quarter of the work-age population are ill or incapable of doing anything. It is a disgrace.”

    One has to wonder how many of the incapacitated 25% are in the state they are due to the incompetence of the sainted NHS.

  • Yet Another Chris

    I sort of agree with Lee Moore, 7.06 pm. I started as an engineering apprentice in 1967 in a factory making trucks. It was hard graft, what with 7.30 am starts after a long walk across the acres of the site. ‘Skiving’, as it was euphemistically called back then, was pretty common, as were the queues outside doctors’ surgeries of worker wanting sick notes – especially on Monday mornings.
    Now? Well I’m still working 55 years later, albeit on a project by project basis, a couple of hundred hours per annum to stop me going nuts. Has anything changed? No. There is the same lack of diligence. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. So this looks like a non-story about the human condition.

  • GregWA

    Yet Another Chris, yes, the human condition hasn’t changed but the general willingness to indulge it’s worst vices, sloth in this case, has increased enormously. Or at least enough to win a solid majority in most elections!

    And at the risk of sounding Puritanical, in some quarters, it’s not just indulging vices in others, but embracing them for all!

  • bobby b

    In the US, it hasn’t gotten any easier in theory to qualify for disability. You still need to hit the same thresholds for inability to work. But there’s now a cottage industry of docs willing to sign off for you. Every disability lawyer has his own list of docs to whom he sends his client for an exam and a written report, just like personal injury lawyers have their own tame docs.

    The biggest difference, though, lies in how we’ve expanded the list of qualifying disabilities over the past two decades. Drug/alc addiction now qualifies, as does mental angst. That’s been a huge expander.

  • Should the psychological and physical damage to human beings done by lockdowns, vaccine mandates, social distancing and mask mandates be underestimated when regarding Mr. Warner’s words? o_O

    It does seem to me unsurprising if one in eight people ended up that badly messed up by such things in one form or another. 🙁

  • bobby b

    Towering Barbarian
    November 15, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    “Should the psychological and physical damage to human beings done by lockdowns, vaccine mandates, social distancing and mask mandates be underestimated when regarding Mr. Warner’s words?”

    Interestingly, there have been efforts to introduce vaccine injury as a cause of disability in that system. They get shot down quickly, told to go through the NVICP (U.S. vax court.) But the lawyers have learned that if you couch the same claim as “long Covid”, your chances increase greatly.

  • Kirk

    Freeloaders have always been with us, and only last as long as the ones they are parasitizing are willing to put up with them.

    I suspect that there were as many of them back in “ye olde dayes” as there are now; they were just concealed in the woodwork from modern sensibilities. After all, how many useless mouths were concealed among the upper classes, disguised as lowly Church of England curates and what-not? That wasn’t exactly something you only found in the UK, either… Look at the Continent and elsewhere.

    You only really find people objecting to these sorts of behaviors when things are closer to the bone than they are at the present moment. I don’t doubt that things will change, though, once things tighten up.

  • Lee Moore

    Kirk : I suspect that there were as many of them back in “ye olde dayes” as there are now;

    In absolute terms, obviously not. But in relative terms ? I doubt that too. In Ye Olden Days there was just not that big a surplus to freeload off. Also consider the growth of population and its effect on the population mix – who gets to survive when the fruits of the earth are bounteous enough to allow the population to grow ? Presumably when the winnowing gets less tough, more also rans make it into the next generation. The lazy bum percentage rises in good times, and falls when the four horsemen are trotting about.

    how many useless mouths were concealed among the upper classes,

    Not many. The upper classes were small numbers (and occasionally had to do stuff like fighting.) Moreover many would also have played an active role in the management of their lands.

    disguised as lowly Church of England curates and what-not?

    Again not many. If you want serious numbers then you have to go to the monasteries, abbeys, nunneries etc. But they worked, and not just on manuscripts either. They worked in the fields too.

    Compare that with the current hordes :
    – in school up to 16 or 18
    – studying for worthless degrees up to 26 or so
    – parked in pointless government / quango “jobs”
    – doing “HR” and government subsidised “arts’n kultur” jobs
    – on t’dole or on disability
    – having taken early retirement
    – having taken normal retirement

    And even considering people who are actually working in real jobs – up until 200 years ago, almost everybody was in agriculture which was 12 hours a day hard slog. Who works 12 hours a day 6 days a week now ? 1% of the population ?

    Don’t get me wrong. Lazy bums are MY people. I am a card carrying member. But we lazy bums have survived to the present day because the harsh environment in t’olden days forced our lazy bum ancestors to suppress their natural insticts.

  • Phil B

    It is one way for the Government to fiddle the unemployment figures. if you are “disabled” or cannot work doe to some kind of illness, you are therefore not “unemployed”.

    It is an old trick, just recycled to cover the unemployable with zero qualifications or those with Degrees in Underwater Lesbian Basket Weaving that cannot get a job in HR or the civil service.

  • rhoda klapp

    Among 16 to 24-year-olds, one in eight are being signed off with long term health conditions.”

    That’s a strange cohort to use. Aren’t they in school until 18? Aren’t a lot of 18+ ones at university, or what passes for it nowadays? I just don’t believe this figure is anything but intended to deceive. In fact the whole thing SLBTM.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Bobby writes: “The biggest difference, though, lies in how we’ve expanded the list of qualifying disabilities over the past two decades. Drug/alc addiction now qualifies, as does mental angst. That’s been a huge expander.”

    ^^This. I may catch some flak for saying this, but this is why I am a sceptic and even a bit cynical about the constant focus I see on mental illness. I understand that there is a genuine issue here, but I worry that the term gets thrown around a lot. If you were to base your view of humanity on media coverage, you’d think that almost everyone is not playing with a full deck of cards. And I suspect that the lockdowns and even the angst of the Green doomongerers is adding to this among younger people. We could end up with a situation where about a third or more of adults will be deemed mentally unwell in a few years, and hence unable to work, or work very much.

    Lest people think my OP was harsh, I know several people who have depression and who have been addicted to alcohol and other substances, who are in the prime of their adult lives, unable/unwilling to work, and I suspect that has got much worse in recent years. There are many forces in play, but this in my view explains a lot of why our taxes are so high, and our economic growth and productivity is so poor.

    It makes me reflect on what happened more than a century ago: a lot of such ill/non-functioning adults would have been forced to work in workhouses, transported to various territories, or just died.

  • Michael Taylor

    Why the surprise? Outside the Southeast, we’ve had decades of government quite prepared to tolerate a genuine Depression in parts of the country which is not 40yrs old and rising. IN these places there is little infrastructure, and the ability to escape the Depression is scuppered first by the lack of transport infrastructure and then, if you can hitch-hike your way down to London, by a quite impossible cost of housing. Lazy? Who knows: but profoundly demoralized, certainly, which would seem to be an indicator for bad health outcomes.

    And lets remember, this neglect didn’t happen by accident, it was the result of decades of applying the Treasury’s Green Book rules for public investment (spoiler alert/five second precis: Southeast only).

    It is only now, when the Southeast is also about to get clobbered, that the opinion formers are waking up to the colossal expense (to the taxpayer, yes, but to Britain’s humanity and society mostly) of the failed policy of hollowing out Britain’s economy except for the South East. So unless you’ve been raising a stink about the decades-long widening of regional inequalities, I feel you’ve got little to complain about.

    Still, I daresay there’ll be a review of ‘London weighting’ pay which will help, getting taxpayers from Hartlepool to subsidise costs of living in a part of Britain they can’t even afford to visit, even to find a job.

    Burning disgrace. Generational failure. Not merely ethical myopia, but fiscal and economic myopia too.

    PS. Go on, tell me the Invisible Hand will fix it. Tell me that people in Hartlepool just need to be set free etc.

  • Alexander Tertius Harvey

    And I for one would rather live in Hartlepool than London.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Michael Taylor writes: Outside the Southeast, we’ve had decades of government quite prepared to tolerate a genuine Depression in parts of the country which is not 40yrs old and rising.

    Here is a definition of a depression that I came across:

    A depression is characterized as a dramatic downturn in economic activity in conjunction with a sharp fall in growth, employment, and production. Depressions are often identified as recessions lasting longer than three years or resulting in a drop in annual GDP of at least 10%.

    You claim that everywhere outside the Southeast of the UK has been in this position for four decades, but that seems absurd. It is untrue. Let’s take a look at this graph of the UK regions’ economic performance in recent decades. Has there been a gap in growth rates and performance? You bet there has. Has London/SE been so much stronger that everywhere else is a sort of desolate moonscape? No. Should actions be taken to improve the situation? Yes – preferably ones that go beyond the lazy assumption of taxing big old evil London to pay for everything else. Better infrastructure and so on. But if it means pouring subsidies into areas without any real thought for measuring the effects, then no. Ask yourself how effective has regional policy been, either in the UK or in other parts of the developed world (southern Italy, some of the US “rust belt”, etc).

    Funnily enough, when people from the Southeast and other more prosperous parts of the UK do buy up cheaper properties in other areas, or invest in the area, they get hammered for buying second homes, or, horrors, gentrification.

    I’d also add that the North of the UK is not quite the bleak, dystopian place that those who write as you do claim. There is a lot of enterprise and business in Manchester, Leeds and other places. One of the reasons for those “Red Wall” seats falling to the Tories was precisely because these constituencies contain a lot of folk running businesses who were scared of Corbyn. Alas, the Tories seem hellbent on taxing them into oblivion.

    The opinion-formers of the UK, you will find, are not quite as keen on tax cuts and better reforms as you claim. Down here in Westminster, most “sensible” opinion seems to be for even more Welfare, even more Big Government. Be careful what you wish for.

  • Kirk

    I’ve got a friend of mine, who has always been a bit of an iconoclast and contrarian. I mentioned something like the point of this post to him, once upon a time, and he, in turn, pointed something out to me:

    There’s a lot of “excess productivity” in the current world. The best use some of these people have (speaking of those on welfare and some on the “disabilities list”) is actually “market”. They’re consumers; that’s how they’re defined. But, what everyone forgets is that for there to be consumers, there have to be producers. Without the consumption, there’s no point to producing. Soooooo… In order for the producers to be kept busy, they need a market, yes?

    Now, same guy would rail onandonandon about his high taxes, but that’s another argument entirely. The point he was getting at is that there really is a rather significant fraction of the body politic which ain’t doing much at all productive, and without which, the rest of the working world would have far less to do.

    I think at least a part of all this is what the WEF types are getting at, and the real question is, how do you identify the “necessary productive” types from the “unnecessary parasite” ones? And, what are you going to do about them?

  • Steven R

    Kirk’s post does bring up an interesting point to consider: fewer people are needed in the production end, period. between mechanization and better methods of production and the movement from bespoke to factory produced, fewer people are simply needed to keep the market full of things to buy, whether it is food or the latest widget or an essential thing like cars. Even backbreaking labor like construction has seen the need for fewer people.

    So what do you do with the surplus population?

    One of the generally understated realities of the dystopian futures science fiction introduces is the overgrown cities with mile high skyscrapers blotting out the sun. Millions live in those cities, butt here surely aren’t jobs for them all, so you end up with most of the population having little to nothing to actually do all day except collect a check and stay out of trouble. The people at the top want that because that many people who are unhappy will invariably lead to heads on pikes. The poor allow it because their basic needs are met (housing, food, medical) leaving them time to do whatever, be it self-improvement or petty crime or just waste their lives playing video games or doing drugs. And the producer class are all for it because it gives them a virtually unlimited market to sell stuff to.

    I daresay we’re seeing the beginnings of that brave new world in real time.

  • bobby b

    Johnathan Pearce (London)
    November 16, 2022 at 11:28 am

    “We could end up with a situation where about a third or more of adults will be deemed mentally unwell in a few years, and hence unable to work, or work very much.”

    No surprise. Status in many Western societies now depends on victimhood. If you can’t point to one of the immutable characteristics – race, age, preferences – then you need to get creative with your victim vectors. A rather staggering percentage of Western “influencers” – cause leaders, social media people, basic “public intellectuals” – now openly brag about their various mental illnesses.

    It makes them real, or something. But if you’re not at least depressed, you’re vanilla. Ignorable. It’s your pain that makes you valuable.

  • bobby b

    Michael Taylor
    November 16, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    “Go on, tell me the Invisible Hand will fix it. Tell me that people in Hartlepool just need to be set free etc.”

    The long-term effects of our Covid policies – specifically, work from home – may ultimately give you the relief you’re seeking. What value lies in a city center if no one goes there?

    (A quick drive for me into downtown Minneapolis – a large Midwestern city by all rights – leaves me a bit shocked. Used to be a thriving, bustling place. Now, like most city centers, it’s empty, quiet, looking always like Sunday afternoon. It cannot survive long in this condition. More to the point, it ought not survive in this condition. There are many people willing to work outside the cities.)

  • Martin

    I am more charitable towards the shirking youth now than I was when I was in my teens/20s. Today’s youth haven’t known anything but a BS education system, a BS economic and financial system, and a BS society. The welfare state is bloated, excessive, and unsustainable but I think I’m more angry about the welfare state for the well off and connected we have now, such as the 15 years of QE that has rewarded banks, pension funds, the housing industry, many zombie firms, big tech, ‘green’ energy companies, the military-industrial complex, etc.

  • Steven R

    Martin’s post nails why I don’t feel bad about any hypothetical student loan relief. Im a Gen Xer and was told my whole childhood that I had to go to college, college was my old hope of a good life, only losers go into the trades, I can get a degree in anything I want and I’ll be successful, and college was the end-all-be-all of education. I heard it from every teacher, guidance counsellor, principle, my parents (who were only saying what they had been told by my teachers, etc., so I went to college and had to take loans.

    Imagine my surprise when I graduated and couldn’t get a good job because graduates were a dime a dozen.

    I did everything right. I got the education, stayed off of drugs, didn’t commit crimes, didn’t make kids I couldn’t afford, and still ended up jockeying a register for a living with no hope of paying that loan off, a loan with interest rates that added up.

    And it’s worse for Millennials and Gen Zers because tuition and fees and whatnot have skyrocketed for decades because colleges know students can always get loans, so who cares how much the school charges? The sky’s the limit. And for so many of them, there is no way to pay those loans off. Yes, we’ve all heard the stories about the gal in NYC that ended up with a cool 250,000 bucks in debt and ended up with a MFA in Puppetry not being able to pay it off, but most of the people we’re talking about got the BA and are trying to find an entry level job that requires a MA and 5 years of experience for not much more than minimum wage. So they get the masters, which means even more debt that they can’t pay off. Meanwhile the schools are laughing all the way to the bank.

    Obviously the student picks the major, but when they have been told their entire lives they will find a job in their field, and told by everyone in authority, is it any wonder most graduates don’t end up with STEM degrees?

    So the government says they’re going to eliminate some of the student loan debt? Good. It’s a problem the government created in the first place. And I’m sure the taxpayers will end up taking it in the shorts like they always do, it’s better that than someone who is 23 being saddled with a debt that acts as a millstone around the neck of someone just starting out.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Martin: I am more charitable towards the shirking youth now than I was when I was in my teens/20s. Today’s youth haven’t known anything but a BS education system, a BS economic and financial system, and a BS society

    It would be nice to think that these “quiet quitting” folk choosing to lounge about were John Galt figures doing an “Atlas Shrugged” routine and letting “it all burn down”, but I haven’t seen much sign of that. In fact to the extent I come across any evidence of protest or complaint, it is that such folk want more State power, not less.

    Stephen R: Imagine my surprise when I graduated and couldn’t get a good job because graduates were a dime a dozen.

    Why were you surprised? Did you fully buy the idea that having a ticket from university was going to be a ticket to the middle class?

    So the government says they’re going to eliminate some of the student loan debt? Good. It’s a problem the government created in the first place. And I’m sure the taxpayers will end up taking it in the shorts like they always do, it’s better that than someone who is 23 being saddled with a debt that acts as a millstone around the neck of someone just starting out.

    That’s a lousy comment. The taxpayers who “end up taking it in the shorts” aren’t just rich people, they are those who left school and did not swallow the line about how university was the Greatest Thing Ever, but went into a job. Plumbers, welders, truckers, electricians, lab technicians, etc, etc. They are “taking it in the shorts” so that college educated folk with loads of debt get some of that debt written off.

    Also, it is worth noting that these days, a majority of college grads are women, so the recent Biden debt “forgiveness” move was in many ways a play for the votes of college-educated women and a nice example of how we live in an increasingly feminized political order.

    “Taking it the shorts”. For fuck’s sake.

  • Michael Taylor

    JonAthan Pearce, please take a look at The Long March Substack to track how the Southeast hegemony has widened continuously for four decades. Also check it for the real taxation position for London vs the rest of the UK. I’d settle for London paying the same rate as the rest of the country. The benefit to the treasury runs to a couple of billion a year . I love everyone, but I long for Londoners to recognise what had happened, is happening, outside their gated community. They should, because the sheer cost of this failure is backbreaking. 6

  • I’m very much with Johnathan Pearce on this.

  • Martin

    It would be nice to think that these “quiet quitting” folk choosing to lounge about were John Galt figures doing an “Atlas Shrugged” routine and letting “it all burn down”, but I haven’t seen much sign of that. In fact to the extent I come across any evidence of protest or complaint, it is that such folk want more State power, not less.

    They are not leaning libertarian. But anyone who is 24 or under was ten years old or younger when the banking bailouts took place and QE was initiated. They didn’t create the current environment. For these people ‘actually existing capitalism’ is the current shabby chimera system where many rich failures get bailed out and ‘fail upwards’. Fortunes are often made via state favour and asset bubbles created by central banks (but cheered on by the ‘private sector’ banks). If I’d have grown up solely under this I’d probably have less scruples about bumming off welfare.

  • bobby b

    Steven R
    November 16, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    “So the government says they’re going to eliminate some of the student loan debt? Good.”

    I’d go for that, but only if academia had to foot the bill. That’s where all of that bubble-tuition money went. We encouraged our kids to go to college, on the basis that real people have a college degree, and the college people saw how that was developing, and so they raised their rates enough to take all of that “higher college pay” money off the top for themselves. By the time our kids would graduate, their student loans had already priced in the income bump, plus some. And if you didn’t make it all the way to a useful degree, you had the debt but none of the income.

    I got my BA degree totally on current income plus scholarships. No debt when I graduated. I think my highest yearly cost – tuition, books, dorm, food – was about $12k. (Yes, we rode dinosaurs to class.) But when my kids started looking, the price had exploded. My same school – a good one – wanted $60k per year for tuition. Far beyond any cost of living increase. And that was because the schools decided that they could capture that college income bump for themselves.

    Not a bad scheme for a profit-making business. Immoral for educational institutions. Those are the people who should take it in the shorts.

  • bobby b

    Johnathan Pearce (London)
    November 16, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    “Did you fully buy the idea that having a ticket from university was going to be a ticket to the middle class?”

    You say that with an implied “what an idiot” following it. But that was partially what drove me to college, and it worked for me and my generation. And I raised my kids with that idea in mind – and only (luckily for them) discovered it was no longer workable when they started looking.

    My generation – I think I’m older than you – pushed that idea, hard, for a long time. Kids who are now 25 to 38 (roughly) are paying for that mistake of ours. And I’d like a refund from the concerned educational system members who milked it dry for their own enrichment.

  • Steven R

    @Johnathan Pearce

    Why wouldn’t I have believed that getting a degree was the ticket to the middle class? It’s what I had been told my entire life by everyone. Every teacher, every principal, every guidance counsellor, every admissions officer, they all said the same thing: college, college, college.

    Not to mention the factories and mills that could have provided a descent middle class existence were dying in the 80s. And I don’t know how it was done in the UK, but in the US schools made it known that shop classes and the military were were stupid kids. Those classes were the safety net for kids without the grades to go to college and weren’t treated as anything but. Obviously I could have made a great living in the trades, but they certainly didn’t tell us that in the 80s.

    As far as the taxpayers, meh, they had decades to fix the problem by voting in people who would restrict loans and force colleges to be less expensive but couldn’t be bothered.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Michael Taylor:

    the Southeast hegemony has widened continuously for four decades. Also check it for the real taxation position for London vs the rest of the UK. I’d settle for London paying the same rate as the rest of the country. The benefit to the treasury runs to a couple of billion a year . I love everyone, but I long for Londoners to recognise what had happened, is happening, outside their gated community. They should, because the sheer cost of this failure is backbreaking.

    That there has been a gap between London/SE and the rest of the nation is not in dispute. I disputed that there has been a 40-year “depression” outside the M25 and put up data to point that out. If we are going to have a decent conversation, please don’t just push past such rebuttals.

    As London is home to much of the wealth created in the UK, it pays a disproportionate amount of the total tax take. Your original comment, remember, seemed to be a very sour attack on the wealth of London and the state of the rest of the country. Perhaps you might want to explain what you would do about it beyond just spending money. Regional policy over the years in a number of countries has been very spotty. Things can be done with infrastructure like airports, better road connections, and so on, if one can take on the NIMBY factor.

    Martin:

    “But anyone who is 24 or under was ten years old or younger when the banking bailouts took place and QE was initiated. They didn’t create the current environment. For these people ‘actually existing capitalism’ is the current shabby chimera system where many rich failures get bailed out and ‘fail upwards’. Fortunes are often made via state favour and asset bubbles created by central banks (but cheered on by the ‘private sector’ banks). If I’d have grown up solely under this I’d probably have less scruples about bumming off welfare.”

    But “bumming off welfare” means “bumming off” people who are often no better off than you are. The self-employed builder or IT worker is picking up the tab. And as the rich pay a disproportionate amount of income tax, for example, I’d say much of the impact of that QE money printing on wealth has already been recycled. I find it hard to imagine that anyone refusing to try and work is somehow giving the World Economic Forum a poke in the eye. Sounds like a lame position to me. A person who gets a job and develops skills is doing this, presumably, for the long haul, and hopefully, when the tax burden is lower.

    Bobby B: going to college may have worked for your generation, but then the market scarcity value of college degrees was far higher, tuition fees and the rest less bloated. I am not suggesting it is up to youngsters to track these things in detail, but it has been known for some time that college degrees aren’t the ticket they used to be. People such as Mike Rowe have been pointing out the problem for a decade or more.

    As far as the taxpayers, meh, they had decades to fix the problem by voting in people who would restrict loans and force colleges to be less expensive but couldn’t be bothered.

    StephenR: So you are defending a Democrat President’s shameless cancellation of debt of the sort of people most likely to vote for him, knowing that the debt burden will ultimately fall on many people who did not vote for him? That’s some great logic there. Many of those paying the burden will not be even voters today, so they cannot be blamed for the situation.

    The entitlement mentality, it seems, is not purely a quality of the Left.

  • Michael Taylor

    Jonathan Pearce,
    I’m sorry if I sound very sour about the wealth of London. You fail to acknowledge – probably because you don’t know – that London in facts pays taxes on production at a lower rate than the rest of the country. This does seem very unfair. Please take a look at https://mjtcoldwater.substack.com/p/we-need-to-talk-about-london where I lay out the evidence for this. You are, of course, invited to do the same checks with the ONS data as went into the piece. The fact is London doesn’t ‘pay a disproportionate amount of the total tax take’, it pays rather less than would be proportionate.

    Now, about that ’40-year depression’ claim, which you so dislike. Yes, of course I grant you that the entire country outside the SouthEast has seen some growth. However, I would absolutely challenge you to go through the data for a reasonably identifiable series of towns, cities and regions where the last 40 years has seen a steady and essentially uninterrupted decline in wealth and opportunity of all sorts, including infrastructure, social provision, employment opportunities, educational attainment, health outcomes etc. Now you are quite at liberty to cavil about whether this is ‘Depression’. But if you use those cavils to justify ignoring the deep-seated problems which have been allowed to fester for decades, then I wonder whether your use of language is more irresponsible than mine.

    As I wrote before, I love everyone and don’t mean to cause offence to anyone. But I’m in my 60s now, and having seen this deterioration being – at best – tolerated for 40 years, I’ve got to the stage of saying ‘enough is enough’. My hope is that at some stage even people like you will begin to realize the sheer economic and financial cost of this neglect, even if you are not instinctively sympathetic to the generations of human damage that has been done. Sorry if you don’t like that. But the classic small-state ‘libertarian’ response is inadequate and, for me, complicit.

  • The fact is London doesn’t ‘pay a disproportionate amount of the total tax take’, it pays rather less than would be proportionate.

    That is an argument for less tax elsewhere rather than more tax in London.

    Ask yourself “why is London a financial centre?” – anywhere in the first world can theoretically be a financial centre, it’s not like they need to be close to coal mines or ports. And it is far easier to move money than to move factories or shops.

    But the classic small-state ‘libertarian’ response is inadequate and, for me, complicit.

    Think UK economy would be better off without the City of London? Sometimes I really do see the attraction of Mencken’s more nihilistic observations on democracy. But then I am in the lucky position of being economically mobile enough to be able to watch from afar as you big state advocates get what you voted for good and hard.

  • Michael Taylor

    Perry.
    1. Yes, I’m quite with you on lowering taxes in the UK. As for why London is a financial centre: do you really want an answer to that? If so, then you need to familiarize yourself with financial flows in the second half of the 17th century. You’ll find the answer there, but it’s not necessarily the one you want (hint: look up Navigation Acts).

    2. Nowhere have I said that the UK economy would be better off without the City of London. Why would you imagine that was my position? (Although I’d be prepared to argue it if necessary, on a discounted basis of the repeated bailouts it has received. Again, reference the 17th and 18th centuries. . .)

    3. Ironically, I share that lucky position with you. Where I am currently located, the income tax rate is 5%. But for honesty’s sake I’ve remained tax-domiciled in the UK. I must be mad.

    4. It seems to me that to protect your perception of the virtu of a libertarian position, you (and Jonathan) tend to construct strawmen to rail against. I’m not a ‘big state’ fan. But I’m very aware of the shocking expense of bad policy. I’d have thought we’d have been at one on that. But apparently not.

  • The bell curve strikes again! the bottom quintile is pretty worthless and everyone knows this. Doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs for them. When you’re down there, you’re either hopeless or just starting out.

  • […] As I noted earlier this week, there is a problem with a lot of people not bothering to get a job, and there are issues there. Some of you have argued that young people, weighed by debt and alarmed by where things are going, are giving up on work and ambition. I think this is a bit glib – gaining work skills and character is still important, for all economic and political weathers. There’s no doubt though that the sort of message coming out of today’s autumn statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is that if you are ambitious and fortunate enough to be earning a lot of money, even more of that is going to the State, and in many cases, to support the older generation. We are seeing, I think, the politics of ageing right in front of our eyes. […]

  • 1. I am well versed in the history of the City, Michael, but the issue is why is London still a financial centre in 2022. Not the Navigation Acts.

    2. My point is making the City less competitive is how to make the City a things of the past. Oh and I have always been totally against bailouts, given I’m a free marketeer.

    3. If you are non-dom, be non-dom.

    4. And you are wrong, because quite apart from the moral argument for a small state (which we don’t have by any reasonable definition), bad policy has consisted of ever more regulation and consequent friction, with vast sums extracted from the economy and dumped into assorted big ticket idiocy. And of course, all manner of perverse incentives, often green ones, driving up costs & sucking funds away from actual productive innovative endeavours.

  • Michael Taylor

    Perry,
    You claim you are a) for the City’s current prosperity and b) totally against bailouts. Given the epic, history-busting bailout after the GFC who’s epicentre was the CDS trades made in London, I’m confused. I can’t see how you can hold both these thoughts in your head at the same time. Still, consistency isn’t the most important virtue.

  • You claim you are a) for the City’s current prosperity

    I am for the City’s continued existence as a financial centre, you should read what I write more carefully. It would be a lot more prosperous if it was a less manipulated by the state & the Bank.

    b) totally against bailouts.

    I like the idea of companies going bust when they do stupid things, even if they are doing them due to perverse incentives. It is actually the only way in the long run to have a viable financial system, because we won’t have one for much longer at this rate. If you want to keep the profits, you need to eat the losses

    I’m confused.

    I noticed.

  • Paul Marks

    Partly the Welfare State, but also cultural decline – deliberately engineered cultural decline.

    And it should be remembered that the Fabians (H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and so on) and the Bloomsbury Set (those friends of Lord Keynes) were working out how to undermine society – long before the Frankfurt School of Marxism thinkers (Herbert Marcuse and the rest) were doing so.

    When one sees such things as the collapse of the family, and the collapse of the work ethnic – one is not seeing accidents, one is seeing the deliberate (planned) result of a lot of hard work (yes hard work – they have kept their work ethnic – when working hard doing evil) by leftists.

    The “Social Revolution” did not appear from nowhere – it was deliberately created. In the United States the husband and wife team of Cloward and Piven (and many others) openly talked about how to make future generations as degenerate as possible, destroying the family and all other “capitalist” institutions. Yet they were considered respectable academics and were advisers to the Federal Government in the 1960s.

    It was much the same here, Marxist and other far left academics, have been advisers to successive British governments for many decades – the decline of society is not an accident, it was a deliberate (intended) consequence of the policies these academics helped design – in everything from easy divorce with the wife being able to take much of the money and property and, thanks to the family courts, cut off access to the children (one of the reasons that men are reluctant to get married) to health and benefit policies that help increase dependence on the state.

    Cloward and Piven knew that their policies would undermine traditional society and lead to economic collapse – to them (and to the legion of other leftist academics around the world) this was not a bug, it was a feature.

    After all one cannot get to the wonderful new society without destroying the old society.

    And if you think the new society “you will own nothing and you will be happy” is not wonderful – well it is tough to be you.

    One of the great mistakes I made as a young man was to defend the corporations – I was even offended by science fiction television shows and role-playing games that showed great commercial enterprises (which is what I thought the corporations were) in a bad light.

    I just did not grasp that, in their own Saint-Simonist (not Marxist) way, the corporations were very much part of the left – culturally and economically. Supporting top-down control of a new society – and the destruction of the old society.

  • Kirk

    @Paul Marks,

    You’re making an error, here:

    I just did not grasp that, in their own Saint-Simonist (not Marxist) way, the corporations were very much part of the left – culturally and economically. Supporting top-down control of a new society – and the destruction of the old society.

    The “corporations” as a concept are not what is at fault; the fault lies in the people administering those corporations and who make up the staff of them.

    There is no inherent “evil” to the corporate concept; the evil lies in the men running them. You can blame corporations and corporatism all you like, but the raw fact is that corporations run by the virtuous remain virtuous; those run by the corrupt and crooked? Nothing about the idea of a corporation does anything to deal with that issue of humanity’s flawed nature.

  • Kirk

    Steven R said:

    Why wouldn’t I have believed that getting a degree was the ticket to the middle class? It’s what I had been told my entire life by everyone. Every teacher, every principal, every guidance counsellor, every admissions officer, they all said the same thing: college, college, college.

    Not to mention the factories and mills that could have provided a descent middle class existence were dying in the 80s. And I don’t know how it was done in the UK, but in the US schools made it known that shop classes and the military were were stupid kids. Those classes were the safety net for kids without the grades to go to college and weren’t treated as anything but. Obviously I could have made a great living in the trades, but they certainly didn’t tell us that in the 80s.

    I hear what you’re saying, here, but… I was told the same things, by the same sort of people. Nothing they said to me at the time gave me any confidence whatsoever in the wisdom of what they were saying, because most of them were the sort of people I instinctively distrust. There’s an essential and ineradicable sense of falsity to most of them; an outward appearance and expression of their inherently fake postures of competence and authority.

    I never, ever trusted my teachers and “counselors”, TBH. Most of them reminded me of the same sort of self-delusional self-service you get with a lot of religious figures within the hierarchy of the churches. They know they’re full of it, but they keep right on telling you the approved line of BS because they want to keep the Ponzi scheme they fell into perpetuated in order so as not to lose the value of their own credentials.

    Meanwhile, they’re demonstrating all the intellectual rigor and passion of month-old asparagus that you’ve found in the back of the vegetable drawer in the fridge.

    I never trusted any of those bastards, and whenever they told me something, I found that doing the exact diametric opposite was often what was actually in my best interest. Which is why I didn’t follow the path of going to school, saddling myself with debt galore.

    I find it criminal that I’m now to be made to pay for other’s having credulously fallen for the scam. People who took out loans to pay for worthless “educations” should be the ones paying those back, or it ought to be clawed back from the institutions themselves. The taxpayer should not be paying this crap off, at all.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – in a corporation ownership and control are normally separated, that is a problem. A structural problem.

    But I agree with you Kirk – there has been a change. The corporations did not use to be as they are now

    The obsession with “Diversity and Inclusion” as part of the international “Environment and Social Governance Agenda”.

    Back in the 1980s none of this was taking place – so what happened?

    The vast flow of Credit Money happened – Cantillon Effect.

    Ownership got concentrated – by tax policy, but also by monetary policy.

    BlackRock is one (horrible) example of this – some ten trillion Dollars of the investments of various institutions are managed by them.

    But there were also the international agreements – starting with Agenda 21 at the start of the 1990s. Now Agenda 2030.

    “Legally nonbinding” agreements get treated as binding, by officials – and corporate managers. The Central Banks and the pet Credit Bubble commercial banks and payment processors make sure of that.

    But these are all “educated” people – their minds filled with the lies and distortions of the education system.

    Free enterprise depends on more than physical things – it depends on a certain sort of state-of-mind, on beliefs.

    The managers now in control have very different beliefs to the managers who were once in charge.

  • Paul Marks

    In the end humans are still beings – persons not just objects.

    we have (we are) free will – human personhood (the “I”) exists.

    So, we have to hope that people, at least some people, can free themselves from the Collectivist conditioning – and do the right thing (choose the right-hand path – steep and difficult though it is), rather than continue pushing the world to Hell.

  • bobby b

    Kirk
    November 18, 2022 at 8:42 pm

    “I hear what you’re saying, here, but… I was told the same things, by the same sort of people.”

    I think it depends on your age.

    I’m 65. I was told to go to college – it was expected – and I did, and it worked well for me. Got that middle-class ticket and money and everything.

    But the difference was, back then, the entire message was “go to college if you can get in.” That last clause was important, because not everyone could get in. You were competing for spots in a smaller system, and getting in was half the battle.

    Now, everyone gets in. There’s no more exclusivity – it’s merely high school 2.0. Once that happened, the real economic value of the facial degree plummeted. But the social value remained high, leading to lots of people sinking huge costs into a devalued asset.

    And still, even with my advanced age, I rode the very end of that wave into money and middle class. Very shortly after I graduated, the mantra became “go to grad school” for that next ticket, because even in the late 70’s, the BA/BS route was overcommon and quickly devaluing. If you wanted to set yourself apart, you needed that next credential.

  • Kirk

    Credentialism is just an ever-ratcheting fraud. There’s no end point; where they demanded a high-school diploma a few generations back, they now want a damn graduate degree. A generation ago, it was a bachelor’s degree.

    And, the sad fact is that human talent and competence is still just as much a factor in things as it always was; it’s just that the credential mills have interposed themselves in order to monetize those credentials they curiously happen to have on offer. The actual presence of virtue, in the form of either talent or competence is not at all a thing they provide along with the paper.

    The end of it all boils down to one question and one question only: Are you competent? Do you provide value, wherever you might be? Those are things that are entirely unanswered by the credential crew, and the entire system is decaying around us because of it.

    Can’t get a job in a field where you’ve got decades of experience and practical knowledge? The lack of the proper academy-provided credential is the problem, for you… For the institution, it’s the fact that you’ve been replaced by someone who does have the paperwork, but lacks the basic competence and experience that you do.

    I question the entire premise of this sort of rote-work, lockstep thinking. The credential is valueless if the person who has it doesn’t have the actual abilities and skills it is supposed to verify.

    Give you an idea of why I think this whole mentality is valueless… Once upon a time, I was a Staff Sergeant in the US Army. I had a good deal more experience than average at that level due to my essential inability to keep my mouth shut about the arrant stupidity going on around me, and some rather unfortunate administrative breaks particular to my career.

    Key task for an NCO in my field was the ability to run a qualification range on our assigned weapons. As a Staff Sergeant, every time I went to do that, I had to go through a massive range briefing with my superiors; had to have everything, down to the smallest detail, locked in and answered. I got very used to having my basic competence questioned by these assholes, every time I was tasked with running a range–Despite the fact that they knew I’d done dozens of them, and had never had a problem. It was the rank, you see… Staff Sergeants are not considered senior NCOs, and their authority/professional competence can thus be questioned. Never mind that I had more time in grade as a Staff Sergeant than some of my theoretically superior leaders had in the Army, but… Yeah.

    Anyhoo, in the course of things, I was eventually promoted to Sergeant First Class. Bit of shocker, that–Where I’d been used to being sharpshot by all and sundry, all of a sudden I was this font of wisdom and knowledge, not to be questioned. Simply because I had that second rocker on my rank, see?

    I’m sitting there, going through all this, and the only thing I can think is this: These people are ‘effing nuts. I haven’t changed; this is the same range tasking I had last month, and got endless grief over, and now they’re just letting me run with it because I’ve pinned on? WTF?

    Later on, ran into a bit of an issue with another Sergeant First Class, who was tasked with a range for the .50 caliber M2HB. Which he proceeded to f*ck up by the numbers, but over which he’d had absolutely zero oversight from higher. They hadn’t even checked to see if he knew what he was doing. Which he did not; despite his rank and combat arms occupational specialty, this guy had never once, in his entire career to that point, run a range of any sort whatsoever.

    They literally just looked at the rank on his collar, and his paper qualifications, and then said “Oh, he’s good…”

    Which was utter bullshit, and a perfect example of the credentialist creed: Ya wear the rank and flash the paper, that’s all that matters.

    Reality has a different opinion. You either walk the walk, or you don’t. If you can’t do it, no amount of paper on your wall can compensate or prevent your failure.

    It’s like that all through the system; there’s too much reliance on the false information provided by the credentials, so society is eventually going to route around that minor little problem. In the Army, they used to use little green felt things to go under your rank, if you were a combat arms leader. That was to denote that when things hit the fan, you could automatically be trusted. They had to do that once they started handing out real rank to everyone, even those without any sort of real military training, who were basically civilians in uniform. This kind of thing is a real problem, even to this day. If anything, it’s all gotten a lot worse, particularly since they started having the officers stop wearing their branch insignia. Which I was told was partially because the admin types didn’t like being considered second-class citizens whenever they were around actual combat-arms officers.

    Idiocy. Sheer, ‘effing idiocy. Try taking charge of a mixed convoy under fire, where you don’t know and can’t tell at a glance who might know one end of a rifle from another…

    But, credentials, see…? One officer of the same grade is as good as another… Right?

  • Kirk

    @Bobby b,

    The flaw in the whole thing is that the credentials are meaningless in the face of things like grade inflation and the general dumbening-down of it all.

    My grandmother on my mother’s side was a Phi Beta Kappa, back when that meant something. Her high school transcript showed the things that she’d had to do in order to graduate, and I’m here to tell you, most of today’s crop of cretins-with-bachelor’s-degrees couldn’t even manage the first chapter of her textbooks, which she still had copies of. I went through those, once, and it was intimidating as hell to realize that they were written on a college-level comprehension level, and that she’d gotten all the way through them during her courses of instruction in those subjects. I can’t think of a single high-school course where any of my teachers managed to get more than a third or so through the book, even skipping whole chapters of things.

    I grew up among educated people. I know what an education is supposed to be, and what “educated” should look like. I’ve yet to meet more than a scattered few of today’s academic product who measure up to the standards I was taught. I myself am mostly an auto-didact, with all that implies. I don’t feel at much intellectual disadvantage because of that, either, except when I encounter the very occasional exception to the academic rule. There ain’t all that many of those, these days.

    I don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t think the current chaotic system can last the course. There will either be a reformation, or there will be destruction. I don’t see any other possibilities, because muddling through things is how we got to where we are, constantly making compromise with standards and consequences.

    I would say that that was probably the biggest thing that’s changed: There used to be consequence, accountability. Now? Nobody wants to be the bad guy; even in routine disciplinary matters. Someone did something wrong? Well, they say, I don’t want to be the one punishing them; it’s all relative, anyway…

    The thing is, it’s emphatically not relative; actions have consequences and those play out in places and times where we don’t expect them. Teach a kid that it’s OK to lie about little things, and that kid finds it all too easy to lie all the way through life, to his own detriment. Yet, because mommy and daddy didn’t want to be the bad guys, and call that kid out on his bullshit? They taught him that the lie was inconsequential… Until it wasn’t.

    I’ve seen that one play out too often, in real life. It’s not the lying kid turned grown man that I blame, either–It was clearly his parents and the rest of the adults who raised him, judgment-free.

    There’s no such thing, I am afraid: Consequence always follows cause.

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