Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment


by Paul Sagar    
10:50 am - September 10th 2010

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Last night, the heir to a multimillion pound fortune declared that it is wrong for people to get money for doing nothing. This came as part of a special announcement that £4billion more would be cut from benefits than previously planned.

This was certainly not part of a transparent and obvious ploy to get the News of the World/Met Police phone-hacking scandal off the front pages.

In turn, the irony of a party which recently appointed a big-time tax avoider to a senior role – and which has turned a blind eye to a practice costing the UK many more sums than benefit “scrounging” – was quickly lost on everybody.

But Gideon Osborne’s announcement is interesting because it heralds – or at the very least confirms – the death of an idea. And not just any old idea.

One that had an enormous impact on the 20th century, insofar as it shaped the post-war economic and social consensus and helped guarantee that liberal capitalist democracy would be a superior state form to fascism and communism.

I’m not an economist (by any means), but I have read John Maynard Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. This passage gets to the heart of things:

Obviously, however, if the classical theory is only applicable to the case of full employment, it is fallacious to apply it to the problems of involuntary unemployment — if there be such a thing (and who will deny it?). The classical theorists resemble Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who, discovering that in experience straight lines apparently parallel often meet, rebuke the lines for not keeping straight as the only remedy for the unfortunate collisions which are occurring.

Yet, in truth, there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. Something similar is required today in economics. We need to throw over the second postulate of the classical doctrine and to work out the behaviour of a system in which involuntary unemployment in the strict sense is possible.

A core part of Keynes’ subsequent analysis was that unemployment is a function of aggregate demand. Which basically means: if the economy is buggered, then there won’t be enough jobs for all those willing to work.

Fiddling around at the margins – say, by reducing unemployment benefit – will not make a significant difference. When there’s no jobs, there’s no jobs. Accordingly, the government should do something to sort that out, namely by stimulating demand until private enterprise benefits from the upward swing and expands to fill the vacuum.

Yet this idea is apparently as dead as a dodo. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stands up, and with a straight face says he’s going to cut benefits to force the able-bodied into work. At a time when there simply are no jobs to be had in many parts of the country. When public service cuts are destroying those that do exist.

40 years ago, policies aimed at securing full employment were a basic commitment expected of all governments. Now, Gideon says starving the poor will ensure they jump into jobs.

The words “neo-liberalism” and “paradigm shift” get horribly, misleadingly and unhelpfully over used. But my golly do they have some traction today.

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About the author
Paul Sagar is a post-graduate student at the University of London and blogs at Bad Conscience.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Economy ,Fight the cuts

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Reader comments


Hilarious!

“I’m not an economist, but I have read Keynes” enough said.

Paul,

This only works if you believe Keynes’ views on economics work well. But it is worth pointing out the only one major country still trying Keynsian measures has particularly high unemployment and no recovery, unlike the rest.

And if there is a recovery, there is (normally) an increasing demand for jobs, which is what you are denying. And the economy is not (yet, if at all) double-dipping remember.

Also, £4billion from £181 billion (the current budget -£11 billion already announced) will not be across the board but in specific areas, which may or may not have the effects you describe. They are also the cost of allowing the DWP to incur costs to increase welfare payments in the short term to implement Iain Duncan-Smith’s proposals.

So overall, whilst your post is passionate, it seems more partisan than accurate.

So overall, whilst your post is passionate, it seems more partisan than accurate

And ‘Gideon’ is pretty much an instant non-reader. cf. Bliar, ConDem, Zanu Liebore etc. They all make the writer sound like an angry 14 year old.

Some would argue that pushing benefits to even lower levels could work to push people into jobs because they will take up low-paid, insecure, temporary jobs that they have so far not taken up because they know it would not help them get out of poverty- they dont want to lose the security of benefits for an insecure job.

JRF has led on a lot of research about this:

http://www.jrf.org.uk/work/workarea/recurrent-poverty

5. Albert M. Bankment

Childishly referring to Osborne as ‘Gideon’ instantly devalues your commentary, in much the same way that people who (oh, so very amusingly) obsessively refer to ‘Tony Bliar’ only make themselves look silly. If you’re going to do this, would you, for strict consistency, use only the birth-names of John Wayne, Michael Caine and Boris Karloff, for example? How about Ann Clywd’s silly affectation of a political ‘stage name’?

That bombastic old twonk, Bob Piper up in Sandwell, has – for me – become a figure of ridicule because of the primary school playground nature of his invective. The defiantly unreconstructed Labour dinosaur keeps thinking that it’s cutting-edge to call the Chancellor ‘Gideon’. Please, you’re better than that!

There’s nothing wrong with robust and imaginative name-calling in politics, but this sort of smart-arse sneering seems unfortunately to be a defining characteristic of ‘the left’. It suggests that all you can do is thumb your nose and waggle your fingers at the Tories.

Who can blame Osborne for changing his name, anyway? If *I* had a silly name, I would certainly change it!

Heavens, the right-wing is out in force today…

@1 Explain? Sniping does no favours.

@2 So what’s your point Watchman? Are you trying to defend a Govt cutting benefits when there are no jobs, thus penalising the poor further? Really?

@3 It is Mr Osborne’s name though. He might not like it but it’s the case. And criticising a writer for their choice of words is a bit ad hom-y.

“Gideon Osborne”! I suppose you only every refered to our previous Prime Minister as James Brown? I know you on the left think Gideon is a silly name, but I thought we shouldn’t tease people for their silly sounding names. Not to forget the slight whiff of anti-semitism in going on about it (I’m sure you in no way intend it but Gideon is a Jewish name and so constantly highlighting it could be taken that way)

8. Sir Oswald the Austere

“it is fallacious to apply it to the problems of involuntary unemployment — if there be such a thing (and who will deny it?).” We’re applying it to voluntary unemployment, and there is such a thing as that. The trouble is, Keynes wrote all this stuff when there was no welfare state, or when it was post war and working as the intended safety net. Now it’s all f**ked.

Yes it is juvenile to insist on calling Osborne “Gideon”.

“It is Mr Osborne’s name though.”

No doubt you always refer to Elton John as Reg Dwight?

@cjcjc

Is there not a difference between a pop star and a politician? And yeah, sometimes I do refer to Elton John as Mr Dwight as it happens! And Marilyn as Ms Norma Jean etc etc. It’s hardly the most heinous of crimes… and the fact that you right-whingers are focussing on that rather than the point of the article shows you lot up for the buffoons you are.

Mr Pill. Gideon was George Osborne’s name, it no longer is as he changed it. If you changed your name should I refer to by your old one, or move with the times?

Headline quibble: it’s not that Gideon is trying to kill Keynesian economics, it’s rather that his actions show that Keynesian ideas once takn for granted are now dead in our political culture and discourse.

As for those poking fun because I admit not to being an economist: well, I do study intellectual history so the death of an enormously influential idea – that shaped large parts of the 20th century – is within my remit. Natch.

However, for those who hate me, Tim Worstall is putting the boot in on the economics over at my place.

Oh, and re Gideon, it’s just good politics to try and keep in the forefront of people’s minds that they are being ruled by a class elite that was not only born to rule but given appropriate names by their parents accordingly. Even if they do call themselves George these days.

It is Mr Osborne’s name though. He might not like it but it’s the case. And criticising a writer for their choice of words is a bit ad hom-y.

It isn’t Mr Osborne’s name though. He changed it, by deed-poll, when he was 14. So its use is just a rather juvenile sneer.

And balls to your second paragraph too – criticising a writer for his choice of words is not even remotely an ad-hominem, an ad hominem would be my criticising his arguments by calling him, say, a silly name as a way of showing that he was wrong/stupid.

Tim J is right, there’s nothing ad hom about criticising my choice of words.

And anyway, i stand by them: if the Tories are going to win the class war so easily we should at least be allowed to signal that fact loud and clear from the other side.

“I suppose you only every refered to our previous Prime Minister as James Brown? ”

Actually it really used to annoy me that his names was James and not Gordon.

But then, that was the least of our worries, wasn’t it?

@14

Wellllllll…. balls to you, with all due respect. If this article was a carefully balanced philosophical piece about language or somesuch then fine criticise the language all you want, but it ain’t, it’s a polemic, and you Tory arses going on and on about the use of the word “Gideon” makes you lot look plain daft – there is a bigger point here.
@11 – I refer you to the OP’s comment @13

Oh, and re Gideon, it’s just good politics to try and keep in the forefront of people’s minds that they are being ruled by a class elite that was not only born to rule but given appropriate names by their parents accordingly. Even if they do call themselves George these days.

Not those pesky Jews again? This is, incidentally, an almost perfectly fatuous point to make – George is by some margin a name with more ton than Gideon.

Though calling people “right-whingers” is probably ahead in the juvenile stakes!

Is Gideon an upper-class name?

George is certainly quite posh enough isn’t it?

Paul. By going on about Gideon you are unintentionally suggesting we are not run by a class elite but a Jewish one. Not the impression you want to give but the one I easily could take away.

S. Pill @6,

Paul erroneously assumes there is no demand for jobs, despite the fact we are in recovery (weakly perhaps, but apparently so). His Keynsian analysis requires there to be a recession to stop their being demand for new employees (even that is a gross over-modelling, but for the parameters of debate fine), but this is not the case. Bluntly, his piece ignores current circumstances. That was my point.

As it happens, if it can be done without harming anyone (and my interpretation of Iain Duncan-Smyth’s reforms are that they should be able to achieve this – it is the question of what gets lost in the extra £4 billion) then I am happy to cut benefits. I don’t think that it is a sensible discussion to just quote figures, as that does not address the issue of are benefits doing what they are meant to do.

And a footnote on the use of names. It is polite to use someone’s chosen name, which for a politician is the one that they run for election under, not the one they were born under (allowing for the fact that Tony Blair ran for election as Antony, but used the short form etc). So Che Guevera is accorded the respect of using his rather pretentious name, rather than his actual birth name for example (albeit I don’t think the popular fashion icon was ever elected…). Mr Osborn clearly does not like Gideon as a use name, so uses George. This is his choice, and I would respect that. It is simple courtesy. And if you cannot exercise courtesy, why should you be listened to in political debate – it means you, like the aforementioned Che, are perhaps more inclined to regard your opponents as less than you, less than human and therefore not worthy of the same rights as you. Which is plain wrong.

Oh, and calling him Gideon makes you sound like an eight-year old who has just found out a classmate’s embarassing middle name (‘Nah-nah, you’re called Lesley’ (with appologies to all Lesleys…)).

@19

Yeahhh cos I’ve never ever heard the term “loony left” thrown around at all.

There is no shortage of work for able-bodied people, even in a recession: http://super-economy.blogspot.com/2010/04/swedish-labor-market-performed.html

Ooooh, the double demon maneouvre!

Implying that because we use the word Gideon, we’re being anti-semitic.

Right, well that is fucking LOW.

I mean, fuck off. It’s when right-wingers and tories get this cynically opportunistic and underhand that I’m inclined to ask Sunny if he’ll consider banning the trolls.

I mean, really, FUCK OFF. How DARE you accuse me of anti-semitism. How dare you say that because I use a man’s name of birth I am attempting some sort of wink-wink, nudge-nudge anti-semitic code.

Look in the fucking mirror you horrible little bastards, who are prepared to smear somebody to that level and take lightly the vast legacy of anti-semitic horror so as to try and discredit an opponent.

From supporters of one of the most viciously anti-immigration parties ever to have disgraced these shores. The party of Enoch Powell and Alan Clark. The party that ran poster campaigns in 2005 with “Immigration: are you thinking waht we’re thinking” when exactly a 100 years before it was anti-semitism and Jew hatred that led to the Alien Acts specifically used to target Eastern European jews fleeing persecution.

You absolute shits, be ashamed of yourselves.

I mean, just to re-iterate, the very fact that you idiots start crowing that this is some sort of anti-semitism speaks volumes about your motivations and thoughts.

Personally, I’ll confess to not even knowing that Gideon was some sort of typically jewish name. Hell, I know “Osborne” isn’t. Is George/Gideon Osborne jewish? I have absolutely no idea. And I do not care one ounce because it is completely irrelevant.

Those, however, who think it is relevant because implications and mud-slinging can be used to drag down opponents – well you can all fuck off and die.

24 – Simmer down and perhaps think more deeply about what you’ve been saying, because there are two points to be made here. The actual real reason that people like to talk about Gideon Osborne is that it’s a silly name, like Cedric or Tarquin and that its use thereby diminishes him. Cf. Boy George.

But your justification of it is that “it’s just good politics to try and keep in the forefront of people’s minds that they are being ruled by a class elite that was not only born to rule but given appropriate names by their parents accordingly.”

Gideon is not, and has never been, a particularly posh name. Certainly not nearly as posh a name as George. What it is, and has alwasy been, is a particularly Jewish name. Hearing of a Gideon, the first thought is not likely to be ‘how posh’. It is more likely to be ‘Gideon Levy’ ‘Gideon Rachman’ ‘Gideon Hausner’ – I am unable in fact to think of any prominent Gideons who are not Jewish.

So if your declared reason for using Gideon is to ‘remind people about what sort of people are ruling over us’ you shouldn’t be too surprised what conclusions people draw.

Further to that, Gideon Rachman wrote about this in May:

There was another strange under-current in our discussions – the Gideon question. Why had Osborne junked the name, Gideon, in favour of George? This was not something I felt I could ask him directly. Perhaps it was an early sign of political ambition. It is all very well being called something exotic like “Barack Obama” in the US, but it might be a bit of a risk in British politics. Gideon is also regarded as a Jewish name (although it is also popular amongst Zulus). I guess that could have been part of Osborne’s motives? But even if it was, I’m inclined to be forgiving. Osborne isn’t Jewish, and I can see it might be odd to have a false ethnic flag pinned to your back. If my parents had decided to call me Sanjay, I might also have changed my name.

http://blogs.ft.com/rachmanblog/2010/05/memories-of-britains-new-chancellor/

Thank you Watchman @21.

“So if your declared reason for using Gideon is to ‘remind people about what sort of people are ruling over us’ you shouldn’t be too surprised what conclusions people draw.”

Er, yes I should. Because due to the fact I’m not an anti-semite, the thought that people might conclude “OOH, Jew Conspiracy!” never entered my head – and the fact that it so quickly enters yours, and that you so freely hurl the mud accordingly, speak volumes.

As for the idea that George is more posh than Gideon, maybe on the playing fields of Eton but definitely not on the streets of Britain.

FFS.

Fact is Paul, the anti-semites out there do use Gideon as a nudge, nudge wink wink code. So if you use it to expose the upper class rule you unintentionally aid them. So best stop doing it rather than get angry when people see a valid subtext, even if, and I’m very clear on this, you have no intention of making that.

If I made an unintentionally racist remark, would I be right to do so because my heart was pure, or should I have throught about it a bit more and kept my mouth closed?

31. John Meredith

I must admit I was a bit nonplussed by the ‘Gideon’ business not knowing that GO had changed his name. I did assume it was an anti-Jewish point being scored and I think that is how it will generally be received: money, conspiracy: Jew. So probably best can it, no? Gideon doesn’t usually denote poshness, after all, does it?

Let’s learn the lessons of the gay and racial liberation movements and call people by the names they choose for themselves.

32. John Meredith

“I am unable in fact to think of any prominent Gideons who are not Jewish.2

Apparently it is popular with Zulus too, but I doubt anyone will think Paul is accusing Osborne of being Zulu. It has been suggested (just look at him!) that he is Jewish though and therefore not quite to be trusted.

Ironically Miriam Shaviv of the Jewish Chronicle here implies slightly that Osbone was anti-Semitic for changing his name…

Er, yes I should. Because due to the fact I’m not an anti-semite, the thought that people might conclude “OOH, Jew Conspiracy!” never entered my head – and the fact that it so quickly enters yours, and that you so freely hurl the mud accordingly, speak volumes..

I’m not especially flinging mud. But your question is ‘what sort of a name is Gideon anyway?’ expecting the answer ‘posh’. It isn’t. It’s Jewish.

I’m surprised you chaps are so touchy about this sort of thing though. The left fling accusations of racism, sexism and so on so freely that I’d assumed they didn’t accord it much weight.

because implications and mud-slinging can be used to drag down opponents – well you can all fuck off and die

I must be on a different site to the one that said that Dan Hannan’s policies on immigration were basically the same as Enoch Powell’s. Come to that, I must be on a different site to the one that has devoted a score of posts to using implications and mud-slinging to drag down one particular opponent.

Dunno about the Jewishness thing, and George being posher than Gideon (maybe a generation thing?), but either way it makes you look childish. I say this as someone on the left who finds that stuff annoying and distracting. It’s above Nu Liebore or Fib Dems or whatever, but not by much.

36. John Meredith

“Ironically Miriam Shaviv of the Jewish Chronicle here implies slightly that Osbone was anti-Semitic for changing his name…”

He went to St Pauls, didn’t he, which is quite liberal, but antisemitsm is (or used to be ) rife in public schools so he may have felt it politic to change it for that reason. But that wouldn’t in itself be antisemitic, even if it looks a bit cowardly. He changed it when he was 13, though, and we are all pretty self-conscious at that age.

well there are two ways of trying to move toward full employment – one is by driving down wages*, the other is by driving up demand. I’m not sure the Tories are trying to kill off the idea of full employment so much as showing a preference for the former

* in theory cutting benefits might make people prepared to work for a lower wage, and lower wages ought to create (badly paid) jobs, although if we’re already up against minimum wage bound, then it won’t do anything for job creation, but it might increase employment if you believe there are min wage vacancies that are not being filled because people are choosing to live on benefits instead.

I have to say, despite being fully aware Gideon was a Jewish name in origin (but was popular in periods of British history, generally with the sort of aspiring middle classes Britain specialises in – hence partially its appearance in Africa) I had always assumed this was a cack-handed and uncourteous attempt at class warfare.

But to be fair to Paul, he writes with clear anger and passion, which does not necessarily allow for courtsey, and will therefore use language such as this. I find it off-putting and distracting, and would caution that as here it allows detraction from the forcefully key point of the post’s argument (I may not agree with Paul, but the point is worthy of proper discussion). So whilst I might like to see more courtsey myself, I am not sure that it would suit Paul’s writing style to consider every possible implication of whatever he writes.

Full employement in economist speak means 4-5% unemployement in real terms. Regardless, I think Paul Sagar is totally missing the point.

There ARE jobs in the UK. Just looking at the figures for economic migrants can give you an estimate of the jobs easy to find/hard to find index. Unfortunately many of them are low paid, and with very high marginal tax rates people on benefits are disincentivised to find work.

The welfare bill is not simply about cutting welfare spending (which at 192bn is a third of all govt spending and larger than total income tax tax at approx 150bn, and thus in my mind unsustainable) but also about making work pay, changing attitudes and hopefully weaning parts of the country off welfare dependency.

“At a time when there simply are no jobs to be had in many parts of the country.”

Just to put the boot into the economics again.

Apologies, but one of the great insights of economics is that there is no such thing as “no jobs”, just like there is no such thing as an excess of supply over demand or demand over supply.

There are “no jobs” (or supply, demand) “at a price”. Change the price and you’ll change both the quantity demanded and the quantity supplied.

Second insight from economics: the price of something is not purely the cash waved about. The true price of something is what you have to give up to get it. Thus the price of a job is only in part what you’re paid to do said job. It’s also what benefits you get if you don’t have a job.

Change said benefits and you’ve changed the price of a job….and thus both the quantity demanded and quantity supplied of jobs.

Now, whether Osborne is doping the right thing here or not is entirely another question and one I’m not going to wade into.

But “no jobs” is economically illiterate. “No jobs at current prices” is accurate…and yes, that does mean that if we want to change the number of jobs then we’ve got to change the prices.

Not a righty, per se, but agree entirely with the Gideon comments. Instant reaction on reading that headline was to worry that Liberal Conspiracy is going downhill again.

As for your arguments, there’s some validity there – but you’ve done your case no favours at all with the presentation.

I’m no economist either, but am more than aware that Keynesianism has evolved considerably over the last 70-odd years, getting heavily refined in the process. I am likewise more than aware that Keynesianism has been out of favour for most of the last 30 years, making this not so much the death of an idea as the death of a hope-for resurgence of an idea that was more or less stamped out in the UK with the triumph of monetarism (itself an offshoot of Keynesian thought) in the 1979 general election.

I know it’s only a short blog post, but unless you’re happy to preach to the gallery all the time (like the worst of the right-wing blogs) it’s better to cover as many bases as you can. Opening yourself up to cheap shots with “Gideon” and oversimplification backed up with what appears to be an open admission that you don’t know what you’re writing about really doesn’t help.

Which is a shame, because this whole benefits thing really does need to be examined very, very carefully indeed.

The use of the name Gideon in this context is absolutely nothing whatsoever but an attempt at a bit of anti-semitic dog whistling.

I didn’t read any further and I have no interest in this author’s opinions.

and yes, that does mean that if we want to change the number of jobs then we’ve got to change the prices.

It might not be obvious that this fits with saying that jobs can also be created by “increasing demand” holding wages constant. Using Tim’s opportunity cost argument, analogous to how changes in benefits change the price of working even if the wage is constant, if firms anticipate higher demand that means, holding the wage constant, the “price” of a job has fallen because the opportunity cost of “not hiring” has risen.

(I think)

can we agree that:

1. Gideon is sometimes used by people wanting to blow the jew-whistle (can i say that?)
2. People may read it that way even if it wasn’t intended
3. Paul had no anti-Semitic intent, and just meant to denote posh.

and then move on?

45. John Meredith

“The use of the name Gideon in this context is absolutely nothing whatsoever but an attempt at a bit of anti-semitic dog whistling.”

Atually, I don’t think that is the intention, although it is likely to be the result. Paul should take account of the racist subtext now that he has been made aware of it though, I don’t think his see no, hear no evil response does him much credit. Otherwise he will end up sounding like one of those oafs who insist on using ‘paki’ for ‘Pakistani’ because ‘it doesn’t mean anything, it is just a shortening of the word, they shouldn’t be so sensitive, I don’t have a racist bone in my body’.

Hold on, surely George Osbourne is the most anti-semitic of all – he literally changed his name he was so ashamed of his Jewish heritage! Or were his parents the real anti-semites by giving him a name they knew would provoke ridicule at this most Jewish of names?

I can’t read the article. In fact I literally can’t even see the article, there’s just a huge blank page with GIDEON in 100-point type smack bang in the middle.

Maybe there’s some other words around it, I couldn’t possible say. Whatever they are, they’re probably rubbish. Anyone who says Gideon out loud like that can’t be taken seriously anyway.

Therefore your argument is wrong and you are wrong. Good day, sir!

48. John Meredith

“Hold on, surely George Osbourne is the most anti-semitic of all – he literally changed his name he was so ashamed of his Jewish heritage! ”

He’s not Jewish as far as I know.

This reminds me of something Matthew Sinclair of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said recently re benefit claimants on Resonance FM [http://podcasts.resonancefm.com/archives/4421].

He, in short, implied that the disparity in incomes and the growth of inequality in this country, which now has parallels with such countries as Estonia, has to do with low skilled workers and benefit claimants making a choice not to make better of themselves.

His diagnosis is to reduce the amount in benefits a claimant can receive year by year so to curb “dependency” – once again proving that this “intellectual” organisation does little more than open up a copy of the Mail each morning.

Osborne seems to want to do the same, as Paul rightly notes: “starv[e] the poor will ensure they jump into jobs.”

If Mr Sagar wasn’t in my bad books I’d doth my cap, instead I’ll keep my bloody cap on thank ye very much.

There are “no jobs” (or supply, demand) “at a price”. Change the price and you’ll change both the quantity demanded and the quantity supplied.

Are you prepared to at least consider the possibility that there might be areas of the country where there will not be enough jobs at any price?

Are you also prepared to consider that what people actually need is not so much jobs as adequate wages, and that if you push wages down far enough, there’s no fucking point in having a job anyway?

51. astateofdenmark

This could have been an interesting discussion, but has been taken over by discussion of a name. Something to ponder for the future, do you want to discuss the topic or something else? Clearly you must have put some effort into writing the post?

On topic, Galbraith had a lot of interesting things to say about the classic model and Keynes’ response.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kenneth_Galbraith

BTW:

George Osborne is Jewish, and Paul gives his real name here: Gideon. Though Martin Bright has suggested that the name change has to do with his being posh and not down with the kids enough, rather than being ashamed of his heritage.

[http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/george-osbornes-alleged-jewish-connection]

“Last night, the heir to a multimillion pound fortune declared that it is wrong for people to get money for doing nothing.”

Brilliant!!!!

Osborne appears to be the dumbest member of the Conservative Party, and that’s quite an achievement in a government that resembles a prolonged reenactment of Monty Python’s Upper Class Twit Of The Year sketch. When questioned on TV his eyes glaze like he’s waiting for the answer to be beamed to him and there’s always a faintly creepy quality to him, like he’s just been caught playing with his balls. Of course you can look at his wide experience of work and life that qualifies him so well to dictate to others. If those tabloid allegations of a few years ago were true he was spending five times as much in an hour on a dominatrix than the unemployed get in a week and never mind the cost of the Bolivian Marching Powder that he definitely wasn’t consuming. Don’t call him Gideon, call him a despicable c*** as that’s what he has confessed to being, admittedly while being held upside down and thumped on the floor till he did so (what a mouth watering prospect)

55. John Meredith

“Are you prepared to at least consider the possibility that there might be areas of the country where there will not be enough jobs at any price?”

But we know for sure that is not true. If it were possible to manufacture in the UK for the price that it is possible to manufacture in China (say) there would be an enormous amount of manufacturing jobs coming in, wouldn’t there? More than the population could manage actually.

56. John Meredith

“George Osborne is Jewish”

Not according to Gideon Rachman in the FT. I don’t know one way or the other. It doesn’t really matter, though, the anti-Jew lot aren’t all that rational, so long as there is a whiff of Jewishness, a name, a certain look …

George Osborne is Jewish, and Paul gives his real name here: Gideon.

He’s not, and he doesn’t.

ooooooo in fact his real name is Gideon Oliver Osborne (GOO) – and as mathematician John von Neumann has written about, Goo, or Grey Goo are self-replicating robots which will consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves. Perhaps that is why Gideon wants to starve the poor, because he is a self-replicating robot who wants to make more of himself.

I didn’t know Gideon is a Jewish Name, and I have studied the migration and rerugee history of the UK from the late C19th to the present day, and that’s fairly Jew heavy.

Anti-Semitism isn’t really on the radar of people like me and Paul, it must be a generational thing.

Gideon is much posher than George in 95% of Britain, the idea that George is posh is a little weird, not these days. That he’s called Gideon has never been taken as evidence of anything other than he is a posh git who is out of touch with 95% of the population. No blood libel, no money lending, no Bar Mitzvah.

Frankly its dispicable that people are throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism, grow up you morons. Christ on a bike, what is this? Harrys Place?

With regard to full employment, I’m not sure that George is doing anything about abolishing an old settlement, full employment is a bit of a mirage anyway, I’m more Kalecki than Keynes I think. You can only boost unemployment so often before you run out of tax cuts and public works.

George is trying to boost employment in a way consistent with this flawed method. Rather than boost demand he is trying to cut benefits to make jobs more attractive at a price, of course you can only cut benefits so far. One day we might reach zero (hyperbole alert) but we might get the response we want.

If it were possible to manufacture in the UK for the price that it is possible to manufacture in China (say) there would be an enormous amount of manufacturing jobs coming in, wouldn’t there?

The cost of living is somewhat higher in the UK. If you were paying Chinese wages here, your workers would all be homeless and starving.

no it’s not, Grey Goo is an end of the world scenrio where the robots take over. I’ll stop writing now.

57. Tim J

Well he is called Gideon at least, which he changed to George when he was 13.

GIDEON – Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network

63. John Meredith

“Anti-Semitism isn’t really on the radar of people like me and Paul, it must be a generational thing.2

Yes, this is a common weakness on the left at the moment, there is an antisemitism blind spot such that a lot of leftists simply can’t recognise anti-Jewish racism any more. I would say that is a good reason to be especially sensitive, not cavalier. Best call people by the names they give themselves and avoid all of this, eh?

“Frankly its dispicable that people are throwing around accusations of anti-Semitism, grow up you morons.”

I don’ think there is much suggestion of deliberate antisemitism, but if you insist on calling a man known as George by a markedly Jewish (you will have to take our word for it) name, you are likely to give a strong impression of antisemitism. You are not, as you admit,. sensitive to these signals, but imagine a different headline like,say, ‘Paki cricketer in match fixing scandal’. Would you accept that the sub-editor had used ‘Paki ‘ innocently? It is quite possible that she did, but it would seem strange if she refused to recognise any racist connotation in it after a parade of people had explained that there is.

And would you feel different if George had changed his name from ‘Moses’?

Um. I ought to make it clear, by the way, that I don’t think Paul is being anti-semitic, or dog-whistling for anti-semites.

I think, as I said earlier, that the real reason for Gideon-ing is that it diminishes the Chancellor, like calling him Cedric or Cecil. Pretending that the real motive is actually the noble one of class realisation has the major flaw that Gideon is not a notably posh name, but is a notably Jewish name. Some people might run the Gideon line as a way of implying that he is Jewish, but I’m not suggesting that’s what Paul’s doing here.

Either way, my main point is that it is, like Bliar, Fib Dems, Zanu Liebore and the rest, pretty much an instant non-reader.

65. Chaise Guevara

“Well he is called Gideon at least, which he changed to George when he was 13.”

In which case he’s no longer called Gideon.

I’d just like to throw my oar in at this point and say that the OP evidently is not being racist, but is insisting on using the wrong name for someone to paint them as being posh and therefore is being something of a snob.

“I’m not an economist (by any means), but I have read John Maynard Keynes”

Yeah. Fail.

67. John Meredith

“Well he is called Gideon at least, which he changed to George when he was 13.”

He is called ‘George’, not Gideon. He changed his name when he was 13. Do you insist that Margaret Roberts was Prime Minister before Roy Major?

Gideon means ‘destroyer’. How very apt.

Oh, and all those moaning that he changed his name and isn;t called Gideon.

Gideon was and still is his name, legally. He ADDED George to the front of his name to make it George Gideon Oliver Osbourne. So, Gideon is his name. He never got rid of it. He simply demoted it.

69. John Meredith

“The cost of living is somewhat higher in the UK. If you were paying Chinese wages here, your workers would all be homeless and starving.”

Well yes, but that just makes Tim W’s point.

“Are you prepared to at least consider the possibility that there might be areas of the country where there will not be enough jobs at any price?”

No. A mindlessly stupid idea. Paying me £1 million a year to employ someone is a price. I would employ absolutely anyone at all, anywhere in the UK, at that price. I’d hire the Yorkshire Ripper at that price.

“Are you also prepared to consider that what people actually need is not so much jobs as adequate wages, and that if you push wages down far enough, there’s no fucking point in having a job anyway?”

Sure. Which is why we have a benefits system….which is where we came in. Benefits and wages are subsitutes for each other. Which is exactly the problem that peeps are trying to address.

71. John Meredith

“Gideon was and still is his name, legally.”

Who cares (I doubt if you really even know). We call people what they want to be called not the names we think are appropriate for them. Didn’t you learn anything from the feminist, gay and race liberation movements?

Good god, who cares about his name?! This is about a policy which is demonising the worst off in society. Talk about personality politics..

73. John Meredith

Oh come off it Rose, names matter, especially when they are being used to denigrate by race (not Paul’s intention but the result of this silly name-calling).

I’m blown away by the Tory troll’s attempt to associate the name ‘Gideon’ with anti-semitism.

Have been brought-up a Christian in a family with Jewish heritage (on both sides), it’s a name I always associate with Christianity from old testament and also in the context of the little Christian Bibles that get left in hotel rooms.

I’ve heard people use other names when they’re being anti-semitic and Gideon has never ever cropped-up.

Tim J, you’ve stooped very low but I’m sure all you Tory chums will say otherwise.

If it wasnt his intention, and barely anyone knows that his name is Jewish in origin then it isn’t about race. And I think the more important issue IS about stigmatising those on benefits. That is what is in all the press and what is dominating the agenda at the moment. Not George Osborne’s name.

The BBC is to announce and new comedy……Last of the Tory Wine.

Watch the hilarious adventures of our 3 characters…..Call me Dave, Pip Squeak, and Cleggy as they enjoy their luxury lifestyles while they bring misery to millions..

Call me Dave is a sort of leader of the 3.. He has no real talent of any merit but he ‘looks Prime Ministerial’ so that is all that matters. Pip Squeak is a short, pompous little man, who was born with a silver spoon his mouth. And then there is Cleggy, he is a sort of a village idiot character. Always being taken advantage of by the other 2 toffs. But Cleggy does not mind because he just wants to hang out with his upper class twit friends..

Watch the comical adventures of the two tofffs as they come up with ever more hilarious and embarrassing positions to put Cleggy in.. There is no end to the fun they have as they laugh at all the scrapes Cleggy is subjected to, and watch how he keeps coming back for more.

JM, @69:

Well yes, but that just makes Tim W’s point.

Ah, I see. Sorry, I hadn’t realised that Tim W’s point was that we should resort to slave labour like communist China, and drive ourselves into a deflationary spiral until UK prices are roughly equal to those in China. My mistake. You guys really do want a race to the bottom, don’t you? I don’t know how business which market to UK consumers will feel about this idea though… “We want to dramatically impoverish all your customers and drive your prices down to Third World levels” is probably not the sort of thing business leaders want to hear.

TW, @70:

No. A mindlessly stupid idea. Paying me £1 million a year to employ someone is a price. I would employ absolutely anyone at all, anywhere in the UK, at that price. I’d hire the Yorkshire Ripper at that price.

Nice switch from talking about the price of a job as the price paid to the employer rather than the wages paid to the employee. Bravo. Earlier you said “the price of a job is only in part what you’re paid to do said job. It’s also what benefits you get if you don’t have a job” – which is an entirely different matter from paying employers to employ people. Still, JM seems to have cleared up the position… Unless you’re not actually in favour of Chinese-style slave labour in the UK. Perhaps you could clarify?

78. John Meredith

“I’ve heard people use other names when they’re being anti-semitic and Gideon has never ever cropped-up.”

This is the danger of arguing from personal experience. You will just have to take our word for it that Gideon is a familiar Jewish name. Calling someone by a Jewish name that is not his own is likely to be interpreted as making an antisemitic comment, surely that is obvious? Like those arses who insist on call the US President ‘Barack Hussein Obama’. Think that is innocent too? Perhaps you personally don’t associate ‘Hussein’ with Islam?

“The true price of something is what you have to give up to get it. Thus the price of a job is only in part what you’re paid to do said job. It’s also what benefits you get if you don’t have a job.

Change said benefits and you’ve changed the price of a job”

hmmm, a lot of people including yourself on all sides of the political spectrum have been noting the stupidity of the benefits system for years, pointing out that in many cases moving from benefits to a low paid job offers no financial benefit for years. this is indeed correct, and benefits reform (provided the reform doesn’t just mean reducing or cutting benefits) is essential.

However I think there is another point here; if the benefits system really does offer the same as a low paid job, then the real story isn’t so much that some people choose benefits as a “lifestyle choice” (and I really think this is ignorant), but the real story is that millions of people work in low paid jobs which are frequently boring and repetative for extremely little financial gain whatsoever. The question isn’t “why do people stay on benefits” the question is “why do people work in low paid jobs instead of stay on benefits?”

And you can’t answer that question by exclusively looking at economics. You have to look at cultural and social expectations (i.e sociology!). Put simply having a job is a strong cultural and social expectation, its something you do because a life on benefits is still frowned upon in most communities. The problem is thus in a few areas this sociological norm has broken down.

Long term unemployment is not uniform, and not spread out through the country. It is geographically concentrated in specific areas, where for a variety of reasons unemployment becomes the norm, and you frequently see 3rd and even 4th generation unemployment. Furthermore the reasons are not the same – poverty in inner cities is different to rural poverty.

The main issue here is that debates on unemployment have now been so scewed by sociologically illiterate right wingers who exclusively focus on the stupidity of the benefits system, and exclusively focus on benefits reform as the solution. As if all you have to do is eliminate benefits and all of a sudden people who have spent years on the dole will obtain jobs. As if those people – faced with no source of income – are not going to resort to theft, begging, and criminality.

The fact is even if you reform benefits, you still have numerous issues to tackle. You have to provide adult education and make sure people have the skills for jobs. You have to train people in how to get jobs (and confidence is a key feature of how to be successful in an interview). You have to make sure that transport services to places where jobs are are frequent and reliable – at least until people can afford cars. You also need to make sure employers are willing to take on people who may have no previous experience.You have to make sure childcare is available. You have to make sure people with disabilities are not discriminated against and are encouraged into appropiate jobs. You have to ensure carers find other suitable means of caring for their relatives. In other words you need public spending (there isn’t a no spending option here – you either do the things above or you spend money on prisons, cleaning dead bodies off the streets etc). You need to turn areas where unemployment was a norm into areas where employment is a norm – and that takes time.

But then the conservative party has never shown any evidence that it understands the issues around unemployment, prefering instead to resort to prejudice and soundbites in an effort to induce hard ons in daily mail readers. It honestly gives the impression that it believes mass unemployment in the 1930s was caused by the invention of the duvet.

80. John Meredith

“f it wasnt his intention, and barely anyone knows that his name is Jewish in origin then it isn’t about race. ”

I don’t think it was the intention, but usually we try to avoid racial slurs even if our intention isn’t racist. And ‘Gideon’ will strike most people as being as Jewish as, say, ‘Noah’. Not that all Noahs are Jewish of course. So best avoid the name calling, it gets you in trouble. I remember being astonished as a boy when someone told me it was racist to say ‘dirty Arab’. I had never met an Arab or thought of the phrase as referring to any kind of person at all. It was just a phrase. But I quickly stopped when it was pointed out to me. Mind you, we were non-sectarian in our racism as boys and would just as happily call someone a ‘dirty Jew’ although for different reasons.

@ 79

That is the most sensible assessment I have heard so far. I would add though that certain areas also need investment so the actual jobs exist in the first place. And also raising the living wage and ensuring that people are not forced into insecure work which will not last, thus forcing leaving people with weeks of unemployment and getting into debt whilst their benefits are worked out again. A friend of mine in Denmark is on unemployment benefits but can remain on them whilst they work the odd day or two – just informing the benefits office and they take it off the amount they eventually receive. I think this is much more sensible. I also think what is missing from this debate is a look at the actual jobs a lot of long-term unemployed people are looking at – no job security etc…

@80 ok, fair enough, promise never to use that word. Incidentally my dad used to call me a dirty arab when I was growing up (he is Jewish) – I never realised that was a bad thing either. I obviously do now.

@79

*Applauds*

Literally the most pathetic comment thread in the history of LC.

Yes it is juvenile to insist on calling Osborne “Gideon”.

Coming from you cjcjc – this is quite funny. You went around calling Gordon Brown ‘McBroon’ for ages didn’t you?

I don’t think that was me, was it?

If it was then that was certainly juvenile too.

Quick search suggests I’m not guilty!

Paul’s a Jewish name. So’s my real one, to be honest – though I am named after an extremely ‘posh’ British actor.

I don’t think Paul was being deliberately anti-Semitic – but I do think it’s pathetic to play class war games over names – especially if you share a name with a whole bunch of popes.

I took out of it the same as Tim W that Paul was suggesting that the supply of jobs was fixed. Moreover, full employment does not mean everyone has a job. Not all, but most economists accept that there is a Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment ( NAIRU). Mr Osborne fiddling with the benefits system may be attempting to lower the price of labour which will increase the demand for labour. It actually is quite difficult to get a handle on what type of world Mr Osborne believes we are in. The idea of maintaining full employment through fiscal measures did not die with Mr Osborne. It died in the mid 1970s.

I believe most of the time we are in a monetarist world and the economy is best left to be guided by monetary policy. However, maybe every 70 years or so things swing so violently that more Keynesian measures using fiscal policy are called for. That is the type of world we currently are in. However, there is much more that could be done through monetary policy. The demand to hold money means money is far too tight. High unemployment is the result when money is tight. The US Fed are probably the most powerful institution in the world. Their decisions decide the employment fate of countless million throughout the world. Currently they are simply not doing their job and millions are suffering as a consequence. The hawks are in the ascendancy claiming they have done as much as they can. This is simply not true they could do much more to ease policy by increasing the supply of money.

We have millions who for lots of reasons have devalued labour. To be brutally frank the value of their labour to employers is below what they would receive in benefits. Actually subsidising their labour by paying employers to employ them would be a fiscal measure but a price worth paying.

I disagree with Watchman’s point @2. Germany has been quite successful over the last two years in supporting employment with a whole range of measures. Their state employment subsidies meant their unemployment levels did not significantly rise. In contrast, the US did virtually nothing to maintain existing employment and now have the worst unemployment in the G7.

79 “But then the conservative party has never shown any evidence that it understands the issues around unemployment, prefering instead to resort to prejudice and soundbites”

Very true. In 1979 the tories ran their famous ‘Labour is not working’ poster, when there was 1 million out of work, and then quickly put the unemployment rate up to 3-4 million .

84 Shorter troll, ” I’ve got nothing.”

91. Luis Enrique

Planeshift

Are you sure you like all the implications of your own argument? (btw. I agree with thrust, I just want to pick up on this point)

Put simply having a job is a strong cultural and social expectation, its something you do because a life on benefits is still frowned upon in most communities. The problem is thus in a few areas this sociological norm has broken down.

this seems to imply that long-term unemployment is partly explained by the norm: (working=good, not working=bad) having broken down. How different is “frowning” on being on benefits to “stigmatizing” people on benefits, something that nasty right wingers do?

It looks to me like one of the implications of your own argument is that strengthening or re-introducing the social (working=good, not working=bad) would help reduce unemployment … but isn’t that exactly the opposite of what left-wingers do? Don’t right-wingers try to propagate that idea and left-wingers push in the other direction, saying there’s nothing wrong with being on benefits?

Now I’m not trying to argue that this mean the right-wing attitude is the right attitude, but would you agree that there something of a conflict between the left-wing attitude towards benefits and your argument about the importance of social norms in explaining long-term unemployment?

@89
“To be brutally frank the value of their labour to employers is below what they would receive in benefits.”

Is this true? For all jobs? What are the figures to support this? I am not disagreeing necessarily, just would like to know how this is worked out and if there are statistics etc

If “Gideon”. is the name his parents gave him then the tory trolls should STFU because they are always on here telling us that parents know best. What is more family values than the name your family gave you?

94. John Meredith

“Paul’s a Jewish name. So’s my real one, to be honest – though I am named after an extremely ‘posh’ British actor.”

All traditional Christian names are really (Christianity being a Jewish cult, after all) but there are Jewish names and Jewish names, aren’t there? And we all know it.

John Meredith

Thanks for your patronising response but calling someone by their old name, the name they chose to change sounds more like taking the piss out of their old name and seems particularly appropriate when referring to Osborne because in Hebrew Gideon can mean the ‘destroyer’.

I think you’re just seeing anti-semitism where it isn’t.

Just to remind you, I think most of us in the western world associate the name Gideon with one of the largest distributors of free bibles on the planet.

You’re the one making it up from personal experience.

Anyway, got anything useful to say about Osborne’s further assault on the poorest in society?

Luis – I would say it is about stigmatising – with the right wing papers etc making anyone on benefits feel like they are a cheater and scrounger, it is hardly likely to induce confidence and high self-esteem you need to face a brutal jobs market. I have been off work for two months now because I was in an accident and had to claim benefits. Doing no work for two months has dropped my confidence enough, without knowing that there are lots of people out there who would happily argue anyone claiming benefits is workshy. You can help people into work and give them the confidence to know they can succeed without denigrating anyone who is on benefits. Hyperbolic language on either side doesnt help the debate but I guess left wing people feel forced into it as the right wing papers leading the debate in the eyes of the public are so powerful on the other side of the argument

97. John Meredith

“I think you’re just seeing anti-semitism where it isn’t.”

some people just cannot see racism even when it is pointed out to them, although their blindspot is usually not universal, I have found: it is certain racism that is invisible. But all confusion can be avoided by simply calling people by the names they choose for themselves. I will call you ‘Ben’ until you tell me you don’t mind or prefer ‘Benjamin’.

I asked someone above what they would think if insisted every time in calling the US President ‘Barack Hussein Obama’. It is his name after all, but would it REALLY not seem to be loaded with anti-Muslim intent?

98. Luis Enrique

Rose

If I read you right, you seem to be saying that stigmatizing being on benefits makes them more likely to stay there, by destroying their confidence. You might be right, but that’s diametrically opposed to Planeshift’s ideas about social norms concerning the value of work. You could argue that both things are going on at once, either one is stronger than the other or on net there is no effect either way.

I think the fact that half of the comments or more have actually not been about the issue that the article set out to discuss proves that making attacks personal really isnt a good idea and skews the debate.

The argument of Paul et al seems to be that they didn’t know Gideon was a Jewish name and therefore that calling George Osborne that could be taken as having anti-semetic undertones. Fair enough but given that has now been explained, I hope we don’t get any more articles about ‘Gideon’. Ignorance is a defence in this case, it won’t be if LibCon do this in the future.

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/george-osbornes-alleged-jewish-connection

John Meredith makes a good point, those who call the US President Barack Hussein Obama do so because they intend the use of an overtly Muslim name like Hussein as an insult, attaching a derogatory value to the very idea that he is a Muslim.

I think Paul Sagar has apologised for this unwitting anti-semitic act, so we should move on and tear a hole in his economic argument instead.

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/08/pop-keynesianism.html

Keynes is dead. It’s 2010. Just because you think the “idea” of full employment sounds nice and leftie, doesn’t mean it makes any economic sense. There’s no way that everyone in this country who is unemployed can be employed – not even everyone who wants a job will be able to find one with a wage that they find acceptable, so they’ll stay on benefits instead. Yes, Tories don’t believe in full employment, but lefties shouldn’t live in la-la land about the reality of those out of work: many don’t have to be but choose to live like that.

Luis,

I think its possible to respect the reasons as to why someone has struggled to find work – whether because the area has few jobs, they never received the skills they need for the jobs available in their area etc -; or whether they just lacked confidence, will not prevent them from finding work. Half the time people just need to feel they are being listened to and get some support if they need it and then they can move on and get work. And the rest of the time, it is just the fact there is no suitable work. Sweeping statements either way – that they are workshy etc, doesnt really help anyone.

Oh and along with dropping Gideon from the left’s playbook of childish insults that detract from real issues, can every Labour member and supporter/affiliated twat drop “ConDem”? Please? Whatever criticisms can be made of this government, you’re not exactly proving you’re serious in providing a credible critique if you call this government a name which implies it is something men slip around their cocks.

Blanco

“Keynes is dead. It’s 2010. Just because you think the “idea” of full employment sounds nice and leftie, doesn’t mean it makes any economic sense. There’s no way that everyone in this country who is unemployed can be employed – not even everyone who wants a job will be able to find one with a wage that they find acceptable, so they’ll stay on benefits instead. Yes, Tories don’t believe in full employment, but lefties shouldn’t live in la-la land about the reality of those out of work: many don’t have to be but choose to live like that.”

If full employment doesnt exist – then shouldnt those who cannot find employment be entitled to a guaranteed minimum income which they can live on? If you do not believe full employment is possible (which I do not either, not under our economy) then do you agree with the idea of a guaranteed minimum income?

“Calling someone by a Jewish name that is not his own is likely to be interpreted as making an antisemitic comment, surely that is obvious?”

Earth calling John: Once again – George Gideon Oliver Osbourne IS called Gideon. Look just to the left of the word George……there it is!

It’s not anti semitic to call someone by their name. You really need to get over this.

106. John Meredith

“Earth calling John: Once again – George Gideon Oliver Osbourne IS called Gideon.”

No, he goes by ‘George’. This is easily verified.

So, same question, KT – you always refer to Elton John as reg Dwight?

@Rose On one level, I see the moral argument for that. But why a guaranteed minimum income? What incentive is there for people to actually work if you’re going to give them everything they need? I would like to think it would be a recipe for anything other than mass voluntary unemployment (I would quit my job if I could get a minimum wage for nothing) but sadly the real world doesn’t work like that.

@103 blanco

LibCon has already been appropriated… besides, I thought the “ConDem” tag was a crap pun on “condemn” not “condom”. Hohum.

110. Luis Enrique

Rose

yes to all that @102.

But does the social norm (work=good, not-work=bad) act to reduce or increase unemployment?

When Planeshift wrote about how frowning on being on benefits makes people want to work, should he have added “but this effect is outweighed by how being frowned upon destroys confidence”, or when you write about how being stigmatized destroys confidence, should you have added “but this effect is outweighed by being frowned upon making people want to work”?

111. John Meredith

” But why a guaranteed minimum income? What incentive is there for people to actually work if you’re going to give them everything they need?”

A guaranteed wage would not give you everything you need (unless you need very little) but it would allow you to survive and to drop into the job market gradually without the distorting effects of welfare payments.

It seems pertinent to point out that those who called Muhammad Ali “Cassius Clay” even after he stopped using his Christian name, did so because they wanted to deny the man’s agency in changing his religion and own name.

Also, you often see conspiracy theory nutters refer to Blair in his full name. Why? Maybe it’s because what they’d say to him if they ever tried to citizen’s arrest him, who knows.

Blanco

Obviously it would have to be introduced with caveats so people wouldnt abuse it, people would have to prove they are unable to find decent employment etc. At the moment the system assumes someone is lying by paying them so little to survive. If not, it would pay them enough to live decently whilst they look for work.

I would not argue it is just a moral case anyway – how can anyone compete in the jobs market when they are living on the breadline – worrying about how they are going to eat, feed their families etc. If you give people the ability to live in dignity whilst they are looking they are more likely to remain employable.

I cannot find the study now but JRF did a study which found that people on benefits went off benefits for insecure employment which ended up putting them in debt time over time yet they still did it because the work ethic is so strong.

“which is an entirely different matter from paying employers to employ people.”

They’re both prices and you said “any price”. If you don’t want to get picked up on points of absurdity then don’t make absurd points.

“until UK prices are roughly equal to those in China.”

I think this would be a very good idea indeed. For it would mean that China is no longer poor, that it has reached the same level of wealth that we have.

Do remember that average wages in an economy are set by the average productivity in that economy. And as (as Paul Krugman has pointed out, who I’ve stolen this point from) and when the average Chinese worker is as productive as the average UK worker then they’ll get paid the same. Yes, really, wages will average up as productivity rises.

@79….sure, there’s more to it than just reform of the benefits system. But as Richard Layard (who, as I never tire of pointing out, is, despite being a lefty and a Labour peer, the go to economist on this whole point) repeatedly points out, reform of the benefits system is part of it, if not the whole. For example, he has written papers (which were incorporated into public policy) pointing out that the long term unemployed should indeed be trained…or placed in a job, any job….and that as part of the process of doing that we not only have to provide the training or any old job (he’s a little like Keynes in that even digging holes to be filled in again is worthwhile, for it gets people back into the habit of turning up etc) we’ve also got to provide the stick: cuts in benefits if you don’t turn up either for the make work job or the training.

And part of his very point, his driving underlying reasoning, is exactly this point of yours, about norms. Some people become so disconnected from the labour market that they see it as the norm to be so disconnected. And for a variety of reasons (efficiency, inflation and, yes, the waste to the life of the unemployed person) we want to get them connected to the labour market again.

“But then the conservative party has never shown any evidence that it understands” anything at all other than its own prejudices. Sure. This is news how?

“And also raising the living wage”

Oh dear Lord….look, saying that economics isn’t the be all and end all of everything isn’t the same as saying that economics isn’t anything at all. Raising the cost of labour to employers is not going to lead to their hiring more of it. It just ain’t: unless you want to start claiming that labour is a Giffen Good (or possibly, in certain circumstances, a Veblen Good, something it might well be actually in certain very specific circumstances…..that third, fourth and fifth security guard for B list celebs for example). A claim which if you can prove it will get you a well earned Nobel. For so far the only positively identified Gifffen Good is wheat noodles in certain parts of north China….good luck in expanding that model to cover the labour market.

“Paul’s a Jewish name.”

Err, no. It’s a Roman name. Paul was Saul, recall? Took the name of Paul from his first convert, called Paulus.

John Meredith

Well put. It is about giving people the resources they need to get back into the jobs markets and treating them like human beings. Its like the saying… treat people like children…

Also interesting that Oxford Kevin re-tweeted this article as “Gideon Osborne is a tosser” and Nathon Raine and Keith Wilson re-tweeted it without reference to the name Gideon. Wonder why?

@John and Rose

Like I said, I see the moral argument for a citizen’s income/basic income – the alternative is to have all of these people on lower benefits, i.e. in a state of relative poverty. I get that.

But if you just give this income to everyone, at a cost of £188 bn (Don Paskini worked this figure out based on the Green Party’s view of a citizen’s income, anyone want to guess at how much the cost would be?), you’re disincentivising work. And there are jobs out there, people just don’t want to do them. Not sure what the solution is.

“But if you just give this income to everyone, at a cost of £188 bn”

Given that the current welfare bill is around £190 billion this sounds like a very good idea indeed actually.

@113 I’d like to see those caveats, but I essentially agree with what you’ve said.

Addressing the interesting sideline argument in the comments thread (the one that relates to Paul’s original point…) I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with Planeshift. Problems of structural unemployment are to do with a lot more than simple economics and money (or, if you want it in economic terms, the opportunity cost of having to hold down a job in some cases is for some reason realistically unachievable – and to change opportunity costs you need to change something outside of the economic sphere). There are places or families where there is this sense of entitlement that gets the Daily Mail so excitable, but there are places where the predominant problem is dispair – many ex-mining communities still have many of the older generation at least who would work, but can’t find anything to do.

Now there is one simple answer to this which is sometimes ignored – increase mobility – but this is probably less humane than cutting benefits, as in said mining community the whole extended family may be nearby (give or take the inevitable migrants) and a whole life’s history have been lived. Furthermore, if people own a house in a place like this, moving will mean downgrading (I have seen villages where I could buy a row of quite nice if in need of a fair bit of work (and unoccupied) terraced housing for less than the cost of my current OK house). This is the sort of problem that needs practical solutions, and to be honest I have yet to see them from any party.

120. John Meredith

“Given that the current welfare bill is around £190 billion this sounds like a very good idea indeed actually.”

Does that include the costs of administration? Because citizens wage schemes lead to very low admin costs too, so maybe a net saving?.

Luis,

you’ve made a good point, but I think you’ve read too much into what I’ve written.

I don’t think recognising that the social norm of working has broken down in some areas is necessarily the same as putting the blame on poor people for their circumstances (although it isn’t mutually exclusive). In some circumstances the norm has simply arisen over decades due to structural changes and the withdrawal of public servcies. Former mining communities in rural areas are the classic example – the mine closes and hundred of people are thrown onto the scrapheap. They are faced with a hostile media and a government that treats them as the enemy. Over the years the acedemically able young people leave for jobs robbbing pension funds in the city, whilst shops close and the population declines – leaving only those who can’t escape. As the area declines the state moves away, closing police stations hospitals, GP surgeries, schools etc, leaving the only remaining services unreliable bus services and the occasional community development worker organising adult education services (before the taxpayers alliance issue a press release saying this is a waste of money). They are then further faced with a benefits system that penalises any attempt to get jobs that offer little financial benefit. In this situation can we really blame people for choosing to stay on benefits, particularly the less academically able children who have never had the experience of a job – let alone a well paid one? The state has so obviously failed to fufil its side of the social contract here, so why should the individual?

The above is pretty much a summary of what happened in the south wales valleys – and if you actually go there the really suprising thing is just how resilient the communities actually are (google Glyncorrwg ponds co-op and read the history if you want an example).

On the other hand if you are talking able bodied males living in the inner city – say inner city cardiff to stick to Wales – then my sympathy is far less. Here an individual on benefits has access to adult education, decent transport and sufficent vacancies in close proximity (albeit low paid). Childcare is also less of an issue. It is in these situations that strengthening a social norm and raising expectations would make a difference.

I don’t think its true that left wingers say there is nothing wrong with being on benefits – i think it is more the case that left wingers say there is nothing wrong with being on benefits if you are disabled, or you care for a relative. It has after all been a left wing objective to persue full employment rather than control inflation, and it has been the left that has organised marches for jobs etc.

Even in the case of the indvidual who has opportunities and chooses to remain on benefits the approach is different. The right would rather have that individual cut off into destitution and criminality. The left would view that individual as a rather sad case, and probably explore what the issues are with that individual and try to overcome them. Its quite probable that the reasons an individual chooses to do that are the result of other factors – maybe he was made unemployed and initially started to apply for every job going. But with each rejection letter and knock back that persons confidence drained until eventually being unemployed was the norm and internalised. I think it’s this that explains the long term unemployment far more than a stupid benefits system.

I think the problem is that the solution to all of this is a whole range of things – affordable housing, better wages, employment protection etc so that people have more of an incentive to go into work. People are not stupid, if they have a family to support then taking a job which is less stable than benefits is not a good idea and they wont take it.

123. John Meredith

“But if you just give this income to everyone … you’re disincentivising work.”

I don’t see why this is necessarily true except at the outer margins and in those cases employers will simply be forced to incentivise through higher wages, which is good news for the poor (and MacDonalds can afford it). Otherwise, every day’s work you do will significantly increase your income, so it should be an incentive. Of course bosses will have a workforce that is less likely to be intimidated by threat of the sack, but that is a good thing too.

Many people would simply experience the benefit as a huge tax cut, and we don’t usually think that is disincentivising.

124. John Meredith

” think the problem is that the solution to all of this is a whole range of things – affordable housing, better wages, employment protection etc ”

That is not the idea behind Citizens’ wage schemes, however. The idea there is to give everyone a reliable income and let them take care of the rest themselves. Welfare without dependency or insecurity.

There are possible problems of course, the danger that rents will just rise to soak up the benefit, but someone more technically astute will have to answer that.

John Meredith

That is why I think its important to solve a whole range of issues rather than just focusing on one… that is income. Housing is a pretty huge issue, especially with long-term unemployed who are living in over-priced accommodation because housing benefit is covering it and if they decide to move into low-paid employment their wage will barely cover it once their benefits are taken away. Subsidizing this through working tax credits is only a good idea in the short term as it has allowed this inflated housing market to continue.
I think penalizing people who buy second homes is a good start.

126. Luis Enrique

Planeshift

I quite agree with much of that, but accepting all that one can still ask what role social norms play in labour supply decisions and then what social norms are propagated by various political points of view.

You initially suggested that part of the story is that in some places the social norm that working is better than not-working (even if the income is the same) has broken down.

Do you think that today’s left-wing propagates a “work ethic”? To the extent that the left-wing has any effect on shaping the social norms that prevail, how is it shaping them?

Consider some hypothetical unemployed individual (in whatever context you like) and ask the question: what form of social norms would be most likely to help this individual? If you can vary social norms, which norms would you choose with this individual’s best interests in mind. If you have an answer to the question I posed in previous para, how do the two compare?

127. John Meredith

“Housing is a pretty huge issue, especially with long-term unemployed who are living in over-priced accommodation because housing benefit is covering it and if they decide to move into low-paid employment their wage will barely cover it once their benefits are taken away. ”

The hope is that a citizens wage would get rid of this distortion because the unemployed could shop around for accommodation in the usual way rather then having landlords gaming the welfare system and the whole bureaucracy behind deciding who should get what. You get one weekly payment, index linked, and that is it. No matter who you are. You can spend it how you want. If you work for a day, you get a day’s pay and nobody takes any benefit away. The welfare state would simply have to administer the payments (easy and cheap) and have a safety net for catastrophic problems and the NHS, of course. Massive cost savings and social advantages. Let’s do it!

It is a little bizarre how much time has been wasted on whether or not calling someone Gideon or not is anti-Semitic or if Gideon is posh or not. The only reasonable answers are of course, it depends.

If (when) someone has said Gideon to me, I assumed they were making an unsophisticated, but relevant, comment on his class. Gideon is posh. To Tim J, it smacks of anti-Semitism. The intention of it is definitely not anti-Semitic, the consequences of it depend on who is listening.

If (when) someone has said Gideon to me, I assumed they were making an unsophisticated, but relevant, comment on his class. Gideon is posh. To Tim J, it smacks of anti-Semitism

Not quite, as I’ve said twice above. Using Gideon is usually an attempt to diminish Osborne, because Gideon is a funny-sounding name. Saying that your real motivation is to alert the public to ‘the type of people’ we have ruling us strikes me as unfortunate, because Gideon is a name with one predominant heritage. As I said, I don’t think Paul is being anti-semitic.

Look, I’m posh. I went to two extremely posh schools. I know one person called Gideon, and know of two or three others. All are Jewish; none are posh. I didn’t think this was a terribly controversial point.

92. Rose

@89
“To be brutally frank the value of their labour to employers is below what they would receive in benefits.”

‘ Is this true? For all jobs? What are the figures to support this? I am not disagreeing necessarily, just would like to know how this is worked out and if there are statistics etc ‘

It is more a general point Rose rather than a specific model that could be cited. Long-term unemployment- marginal tax rates that the unemployed face- unemployment levels for specific groups like the low-skilled- unemployment rates for specific age groups like youth 16-25 is what I am getting at. In a deficient demand world there is no obvious reason why unemployment should be higher for certain groups. Yet it is and this surely must relate to the price of labour. You are quite right to point to housing as a significant factor and if we took housing completely out of the picture the marginal tax rates faced by some would significantly fall.

I often get the impression with these threads that people imagine the ‘ unemployed ‘ from month to month are the same people. And job vacancies from month to month are the same vacancies. The economy constantly creates millions of jobs each year and people move in and out of work all the time. Therefore, why do we have long-term unemployment and higher unemployment rates amongst the low-skilled? The long-term unemployed who do not take jobs below what they would receive in benefits are rational. Those who do are irrational unless they are receiving some non-monetary utility from employment. We could inhumanely slash benefits. However, it is better to raise the value of employment for the low-skilled and long-term unemployed. Therefore, the government should subsidise their employment above their actual value to employers.

This comments thread makes me sad.

Just quickly:

Cost of Green Party citizens income is about £250 billion, so roughly £60bn extra on top of the existing welfare bill.

I predict that the result of the government’s economic policies, which they say are designed to increase the number of people who work rather than being lazy and taking the lifestyle option of being on benefits, will be that unemployment will rise over the next few years.

Presumably, those of you who think that reducing benefits will incentivise people to get jobs think that unemployment will fall. Anyone prepared to make the argument that they think unemployment will be lower at the time of the next election?

132. Grimsby Fiendish

Look, can’t we just agree that while it’s reprehensible to demonize someone for their ethnic background, it’s perfectly acceptable to demonize someone for their class origins if that promotes social hatred and an uptick in the proletariat’s willingness to fight a class war?

Hope that helps.

@130

In a deficient demand world there is no obvious reason why unemployment should be higher for certain groups. Yet it is and this surely must relate to the price of labour.

Possibly but its also due to lack of skills, employer discrimination etc.

I think its necessary to be careful not to assume that people are paid low wages because they are of such little value to a company. Does this not give companies carte blanche to charge whatever they like for labour because it is deemed an acceptable wage? Surely different jobs bring different amounts of worth to companies. Companies are incentivised to pay people less and less so they can bring larger profits to their shareholders so it is in their interest to make people believe the price of their labour than it actually is. Am I missing something?

134. John Meredith

“Cost of Green Party citizens income is about £250 billion, so roughly £60bn extra on top of the existing welfare bill.”

Is that all in, I mean does it account for the money that is saved by reductions in welfare bureaucracy?

@Richard W – one reason why some groups of people face higher levels of unemployment is discrimination.

I remember a forum which some disability charities organised for employers a few years ago, where employers could ask any questions about employing disabled people. The first question that an employer asked was “How do I talk to a disabled person?” It isn’t just about subsidising employers, also need to change their attitudes and prejudices.

@Tim W – why do you think Richard Layard is the go to economist on welfare policy? There is quite a weak relationship between ‘what Layard recommended in an article which you read in the 1990s’ and ‘what actually happened as a result of Layard’s recommendations in the real world since the 1990s’. It’s another case of the real world refusing to conform to your theories.

131

does this include other social benefits it could bring? better health, reduction on reliance on NHS etc?

“Is that all in, I mean does it account for the money that is saved by reductions in welfare bureaucracy?”

Yes. They spend less on administering the system (about 1% of total cost), but overall cost is much higher because more people receive money.

138. Luis Enrique

Don

that’s daft. Lots of people (IFS etc.) do think unemployment will be lower by 2015. If that turned out to be the case, would you accept it as evidence that cutting benefits to encourage people to work did exactly that? I should hope not. So vice versa doesn’t hold either.

139. John Meredith

I am being lazy, but what does the Green scheme set the basic wage at?

Don,

I am happy unemployment will be lower at the next election. This last recession has by the standards of recessions been quite light in terms of added unemployment – it is more a case of less hiring rather than more firing as far as I can see (I am rather conscious I have no figures to back this impression up). I think this reflects the fiscal nature of the recession (yes, that’s to say to some extent it is the banks’ fault…).

This means that as recovery gathers pace (note this does not require double-dip not to happen: recovery would still most likely be in full flow by 2015 with a dip back into recession in late 2010) it is likely that there will be increased hiring, which will lower unemployment. I also believe that there will be at least marginal effects from Iain Duncan-Smith’s welfare reforms, which will have the same effect (whether these are worthwhile effects may be a different question, but your point was on unemployment, not the quality of employment).

Ok Luis, there are a few questions there – so in order.

“Do you think that today’s left-wing propagates a “work ethic”?”

I think you have to break that down into looking at what constitutions the “left wing” which is merely a broad term of convenience anyway. I certainly think the institutions of the ‘old left’ propagated a work ethic – by that I mean working men’s clubs, trade unions, genuine working class newspapers and media etc. I’d add the feminist movement to that as well as they are essentially arguing for the right to work and raising expectations for women so that their role isn’t just seen as childcare. On the other hand the crusty “anarchist” left not so much, and many of them would spend their time on the dole” But then I wouldn’t regard them as influential anyway. I can’t really think of any major part of the left that doesn’t propagate a work ethic – its just that we also don’t have a problem with disabled people and carers etc choosing not to work as they are doing other valuable things.

“to the extent that the left-wing has any effect on shaping the social norms that prevail, how is it shaping them? ”

I don’t think unfortuantely the left does have an effect on social norms here, beyond say anti-discrimination laws and campaigns against discrimination in the workplace. The right – via the media etc – has far more of an effect. There is actually a big irony here – whenever the right wing press run a dishonest story about the benefits system I’m willing to bet more than a few of its readers wonder “why the hell am I in this shit job? according to this I can get loads more on benefits” and a few may even end up trying.

“Consider some hypothetical unemployed individual (snip)”

TBH I think the strongest social norms are going to come from the community itself. If somebody sees a friend or relative in work, earning money and basically enjoying the benefits of employment – particularly if that individual also has similar disadvantages and a similar background – then that is going to be far stronger than any lecturing, threats to cut off benefits etc.I’m sceptical of the ability of government to influence social norms in the short run, and they can only do it indirectly through the long run. The biggest thing the state could do tackle long term unemployment is actually to just take the unemployed individual and give them a job for a couple of years – preferably one doing something useful and one that doesn’t completely alienate them. But the preferance in policy is to just leave things to the magical adam smith fairy dust (which is why it is surprising to see Tim W advocate the former not the latter)

watchman

his last recession has by the standards of recessions been quite light in terms of added unemployment – it is more a case of less hiring rather than more firing as far as I can see (I am rather conscious I have no figures to back this impression up).

actually this recession has involved a lot of people reducing their hours and as the economy has picked up the rate of employment has not followed suit. perhaps because some firms realise they can get away with getting their employees to do more work in compressed hours. So I wouldnt agree that employment is going to correspond directly to the increase in the economy.

143. John Meredith

Eek, as far as I can tell the Greens basic wage would only be around £65 a week, about a third of what would be required, I think.

144. John Meredith

“tually this recession has involved a lot of people reducing their hours and as the economy has picked up the rate of employment has not followed suit. ”

Yes, but it has not (yet) led to mass unemployment, has it? That must have something to do with the structural changes that Thatcher started, a more flexible labour market, surely?

John @144

“tually this recession has involved a lot of people reducing their hours and as the economy has picked up the rate of employment has not followed suit. ”

Yes, but it has not (yet) led to mass unemployment, has it? That must have something to do with the structural changes that Thatcher started, a more flexible labour market, surely”

I am sorry, I do not understand your point? I would agree that this is to do with the introduction of a flexible labour market, and that this is just a resultant effect of this… what does mass unemployment have to do with it?

Planeshift,

I get the feeling from your last response that the left consists of traditional left-wing institutions, anarchists and feminists (which I’d like to dispute – surely feminism is pretty much across the board now). It seems to miss out most of those that actually self-identify as left-wing on the internet for a start, never mind all but one or two of the Labour leadership contenders for example.

The most worrying thing though is that you think the left is only influencing society through anti-discrimination. This is indicative of the problem of the left becoming increasingly focussed on a few narrow issues around identity (not that they are not problems, but this is hardly the be all and end all) and seemingly admitting defeat in other fields. On all this thread there has been no radical left-wing solutions to the benefit budget put forward; this seems at least partially to be because there is a concern about stigmatising benefit seekers (which might actually be a motivation to find work, although I wouldn’t suggest it). In an area where the left should look to have the upper hand, the reaction seems to be to shrug and say not to rock the boat.

Oh – and if you have not noticed, most benefit claimants are looking for work, and tend to agree with the papers (and the Mirror also prints this sort of story) about those who are seemingly abusing the system, at least as reported. There is no solidarity of benefit seekers – to see them as a ‘class’ or ‘identity’ is rather pointless.

“But the preferance in policy is to just leave things to the magical adam smith fairy dust (which is why it is surprising to see Tim W advocate the former not the latter)”

Well, as Paul Sagar, the blogger at the top of the page, will be delighted to point out to you at exhaustive length, Adam Smith himself didn’t believe in the adam smith fairy dust either. As I don’t.

Yes, I certainly do believe that markets solve most (but not all) economic problems…..but there are many things in this world that are problems which are not economic problems and thus won’t be solved by markets unadorned (and to repeat, yes, even I agree that there are economic problems which markets unadorned won’t solve).

Layard justifies changes to the incentives faced by the long term unemployed and benefits recipients partially (but only partially) in economic terms, this is true. But his analysis is that it is in part a sociological problem and thus has need of a more than purely economic solution.

Which sounds fine to me.

“why do you think Richard Layard is the go to economist on welfare policy? ”

I didn’t say he was. I said he was on the analysis of long term unemployment and what might be done about it. And the reason I said he was is because he is. In the same way that you’d go to Paul Krugman on returns to scale in international trade, William Baumol on the relative prices of services and manufactures over time, Angus Maddison (although sadly now departed) on GDP per capita over the centuries and Elinor Ostrom on communal solutions to shared resource problems. Because they’re all the experts in their field.

146. Watchman

“On all this thread there has been no radical left-wing solutions to the benefit budget put forward; this seems at least partially to be because there is a concern about stigmatising benefit seekers (which might actually be a motivation to find work, although I wouldn’t suggest it). In an area where the left should look to have the upper hand, the reaction seems to be to shrug and say not to rock the boat.”

actually advocating not stigmatising people and treating them as human beings that for a whole range of reasons cannot find work, is radical (sadly, in this day and age).

“Oh – and if you have not noticed, most benefit claimants are looking for work, and tend to agree with the papers (and the Mirror also prints this sort of story) about those who are seemingly abusing the system, at least as reported. There is no solidarity of benefit seekers – to see them as a ‘class’ or ‘identity’ is rather pointless.”

This is because when you are under threat and your life is crap and the papers offer an easy scapegoat – other people on benefits- it is very tempting to agree. All different types of people do this – just because people believe something doesnt make it true. Doesnt it seem sad to you that people at the bottom of society would rather blame eachother than understand the real reasons they in insecure, low-paid, stressful work?

Rose,

As John said, there is more flexibility in the market, which means people have preserved jobs. So the lack of increased employment so far could therefore be the spare capacity of the existing jobs being filled (this does not mean exploitation, although recessions do tend to lead to efficiencies, but may not be the best way to achieve a lean economy). There is a limit to this process, and increased hiring will therefore be needed at some point during any recovery.

So many straw men in that watchman I get the impression you’ve just been cutting the hay.

“On all this thread there has been no radical left-wing solutions to the benefit budget put forward;”

Green party citizens basic income proposal? Proposal for state planning where the state just finds a job for unemployed person to do? Improving adult education?

“There is no solidarity of benefit seekers ”

I never said there was, although I may have implied there should be.

“you think the left is only influencing society through anti-discrimination”

Pretty much yes, left wing views are not infuential when it comes to economic policy at the moment. I think this is a shame, but I’m being realistic. The old instutions of the left – unions, working mens clubs, left wing papers etc no longer exist.

151. Luis Enrique

Planeshift

This is probably explained by my exposure to “the left” consisting almost entirely of The Guardian, these blogs and maybe whatever intellectuals Radio 4 interviews, but I never come across lefties promoting a strong work ethic etc., and I very frequently encounter lefties telling righties that their ideas about self reliance and hard work are fantasies that ignore the reality of life if you are one bottom of heap. (as I said, I mostly agree with that last point, but whatever it is, it isn’t propagating a work ethic)

you don’t really say what sort of social norms you think would most help the unemployed if they were to internalize them, and you seem to be saying that the only social norms you see the left shaping concern discrimination.

I can’t help thinking that some of the most helpful social norms are actually those usually associated with the right (self-reliance, hard work, patience, discipline etc.) but these are things that are helpful taking system as given, whereas the left show little interest in them because they want to change the system and want to explain why the system is responsible for things being shitty.

(I’m not suggesting the state tries to promote social norms, and I too would like to simply see more emphasis on job creation)

Rose,

actually advocating not stigmatising people and treating them as human beings that for a whole range of reasons cannot find work, is radical (sadly, in this day and age).

Sorry, but it is not radical. Perhaps unfashionable, but radical is thinking something new, not opposing something that, to the best of my knowledge, no major political party actually espouses (even if we interpret them as doing so). And I think all politicians would agree that in the main benefit claimants are honestly looking for work/unable to work for some reason. But do you agree that there are some who could work but chose not to whilst receiving benefits (not carers or the like – just people who have no excuse not to work)? Because if so, you are collating these people with the rest, which is somewhat unfair.

This is because when you are under threat and your life is crap and the papers offer an easy scapegoat – other people on benefits- it is very tempting to agree. All different types of people do this – just because people believe something doesnt make it true. Doesnt it seem sad to you that people at the bottom of society would rather blame eachother than understand the real reasons they in insecure, low-paid, stressful work?

Erm, what are the real reasons? Lack of qualifications? Bad luck? A cruel and oppressive government? A drug problem? A career path that doesn’t pay well? I think that in all honesty that those ‘at the bottom of society’ (I am not sure that is not scapegoating myself – just because they are paid less does not make anyone lower in society than me or you) will know why they are not paid more. Do not assume that those you see as less fortunate than yourself are not self-aware, or smart enough to be able to see through a false newspaper story. And remember that class-consciousness never included those who tried to take advantage of others, so that the actual benefit cheats and ‘scroungers’ (sorry, but can’t find a decent shorthand, and it is the term I have heard used by the ‘bottom of society’ enough times) are not identified with by most of those who work hard, or who want to do so.

Your view seems to be that there should be class unity amongst the poor and unemployed. My view is that this is a collection of diverse and different individuals, and that many of them have aspirations and the like. To argue they will identify with those who do not is spurious, and hides the real problems of overcoming poverty, of identifying and seizing opportunity (hard to do without practice), of breaking bonds that hold you back without breaking bonds that make you who you are, of reaching your own potential. To assume there is a single appropriate way of thinking for all those who do not earn much or do not earn at all is rather too crude.

Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment

You can’t kill an idea that is already dead. It’s a long time since any government has promised “full employment”.

Planeshift,

One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow…

Anyway, traditional ditties (if that is a ditty) aside, lets look at the issues. Starting with the radical ideas:

Green party citizens basic income proposal? Proposal for state planning where the state just finds a job for unemployed person to do? Improving adult education?

Radical? None are new, or particularly spectacular. I think all were proposed over half a century ago in one form or another. Although improving adult education (and education generally) is key to breaking the negative norms.

And wasn’t the state planning thing mentioned by Tim, who is very definitly not left-wing? Be that as it may, they are all ideas, but I doubt radicalism. It is canabalisation of the left’s past (adult education being right at the start of the Labour movement, but rather forgotten since for example). Not a bad thing per se, but there is nothing radical there.

And this leads us to the point about society. If the left has nothing new to offer, but only recourse to ideas and dialogues from the past, how will it affect society? The changes from these ideas and their reverbarations have happened, and generally been beneficial, but society has absorbed the past and needs something new. There has to be more to the left than promoting a lack of discrimination (or multiculturalism even) – what is the big idea now, what are you fighting for? Are you really the movement of anti-discrimination laws and opposition to benefit cuts, or is there still something there to actually unite and create that class consciousness you imply should exist in the poor. This thread has been conducted (if you ignore the instructive lesson in why being insulting and inaccurate in your writing can get you pawned in the comments) on pretty much liberal/right-wing terms. It seems wrong to me that Tim or I can be so comfortably in the middle ground of a debate on welfare – there is no economic passion left in the left it seems. A lot of noise and smoke perhaps, but what is burning now to make it? And more importantly, to what end?

Why unemployment has not risen as high as expected in this recession and far below what could be expected with the fall in output is unexplained. There has been considerable labour hoarding by employers and workers working shorter hours is part of this process. However, the reason why they are hoarding labour is far from obvious. A more flexible labour market can partially explain the how but not the why. The UK and Germany have had larger falls in output than the US and yet have seen smaller falls in employment compared to the US. Moreover, most people would consider the US labour market more flexible than the UK and considerably more flexible than Germany. For the future some identify this labour hoarding as meaning job creation in the next few years might disappoint.

John Meredith

‘Barack Hussein Obama’ is not loaded with anti-muslim intent unless it’s generally used by US right wingers, you know, neocons, the type of groups that the Conservative Party is close to.

The reason it’s loaded is because apparently it’s really bad to be Muslim (which is a religion not a race) if you’re part of a certain right wing.

Gideons on the other hand is a name normally associated with the evangelical CHRISTIAN organisation that distributes bibles, yes, Bibles not Torahs or even dead sea scrolls.

If someone wants a name to have some anti-Jewish inferrence then I think they need to try harder than Gideon who appears in these very same Christian bibles.

You can’t simply say that you know a Jewish bloke called Gideon so it must carry some anti-semitic inference if used in the context of George Osborne even though it was his name and also means destroyer (perfect for nihilist like Osborne).

Where do you stand on satirists, cartoonists, etc?

I guess you’d like them banned from covering the coalition altogether just so as not to offend anyone or risk referring to the so called non-existent class war.

@131

Unemployment might be lower by the time of the next General Election. But not if the Coalition adopts some of the ideas being urged on it.

If benefits were cut, as the so-called Taxpayers Alliance (Accounts? List of donors?) have suggested, that would remove purchasing power from the economy.

If the Minimum Wage were abandoned, as the TPA’s so-called “Research Fellow” Mike Denham has openly suggested, that too would remove purchasing power from the economy.

The groups from which that purchasing power would be removed are those with the highest propensity to spend: the least well off inevitably have more goods and services that they want to buy than they have money to buy them.

Hey presto – instant additional unemployment.

And if cutting overall spending is the name of the game, then that purchasing power won’t be reallocated elsewhere.

BTW My copy of Keynes also includes the comma after “Employment”. The original, for reasons best known to the Great Man, does not. Not a lot of people know that.

watchman

why does something have to be new to be radical? Name one idea that is completely new anyway. The right have been recycling the same ideas throughout history.

158. Rose

‘ why does something have to be new to be radical? Name one idea that is completely new anyway. The right have been recycling the same ideas throughout history. ‘

Indeed. Trickle-down economics was just a contemporary version of what they called the ‘ horse-and-sparrow-theory ‘ in the nineteenth century. If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.

Richard

The right wing of yore had such beautiful imagery!

“Lots of people (IFS etc.) do think unemployment will be lower by 2015″

Have you got a link for that? I know the OBR has predicted this, but the CIPD and others think their estimations are total fantasy.

p.s. one reason why unemployment has not risen so quickly in this recession is because of tax credits – much easier to agree to take a pay cut if you automatically receive extra financial support from the state.

163. Shatterface

‘Gideons on the other hand is a name normally associated with the evangelical CHRISTIAN organisation that distributes bibles, yes, Bibles not Torahs or even dead sea scrolls.’

I published an exerpt from the bible here some time ago arguing that the chapter dealing with Gideon is a perfect metaphor for Tory cuts.

“one reason why unemployment has not risen so quickly in this recession is because of tax credits”

Interesting theory. Now we need to know how important this is.

So, by how much has the tax creidt bill risen in the recession?

@158 Rose

Watchman is, I think, making a slightly pedantic/semantic point: literally, for something to be radical, it has to be different by definition.

(further to my post @165 the etymology of the word “radical” is shared with “radish” (the foul-tasting vegetable) as they are both derived from the Latin radicis meaning “root”. In case anyone is interested.)

@155 Richard W: “There has been considerable labour hoarding by employers and workers working shorter hours is part of this process. However, the reason why they are hoarding labour is far from obvious.”

A very important question. If employers are hoarding labour because they doubt the ability of the market to provide workers when demand exists in the future, we are in a pickle. On the other hand, employers may be hoarding labour for philanthropic reasons or to deny labour to a competing company. Far from obvious which applies, as you say.

I should have said fewer hours rather than ‘ shorter ‘ 30 minute hours.

@2 Watchman

[blockquote]This only works if you believe Keynes’ views on economics work well. But it is worth pointing out the only one major country still trying Keynsian measures has particularly high unemployment and no recovery, unlike the rest.[/blockquote]

Assuming you are reffering to America. In this day and age, I’m not sure that keynesian policies can work if only one country does them in isolation, unless they are done in an international coordinated way, they are just likely to cause a deterioration in a country’s trade balance, as imports get sucked in rather than perform their intended purpose.

@55 John Merideth

[blockquote]But we know for sure that is not true. If it were possible to manufacture in the UK for the price that it is possible to manufacture in China (say) there would be an enormous amount of manufacturing jobs coming in, wouldn’t there? More than the population could manage actually.[/blockquote]

Yes but average wages in China are something like (I saw the figure somewhere) 85% lower than in the UK. Are you seriously suggesting that everybody should take an 85% pay cut to make themselves competitive with thw Chinese?

Is this not the sort of dumb economic thinking which thinks it can make the country richer by paying people less money?

I’m not an economist and I haven’t read Keynes but I think you’ll find that full employment referred to men only. The welfare state was based on an idealized view of the male as the bread-winner and the population being contained in rows of houses inhabited the Oxo family.
Moreover, the welfare state was never designed to pay benefits to people who are actually in full-time employment. @169 unbelievably, people are being paid less but with tax-credits are better-off and yes it’s dumb economics and that’s why the whole system is completely unstable.
As for Gideon/George, I personally call him w..ker.

Can it be mere coincidence that the majority of those targeted by George/Gideon
cuts will be Gentiles?

Shirley @171 – yes. But not in the same way that it’s a coincidence that you collect “World War II memorabilia”.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment http://bit.ly/aytQzD

  2. Oxford Kevin

    Gideon Osborne is a tosser | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/3r9gQ9s via @libcon

  3. Ged Robinson

    RT @libcon: Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment http://bit.ly/aytQzD

  4. The Old Politics

    Gideon Osborne is trying to kill full employment | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/o3LFeA7 < Great opening 3 paragraphs. Rest ok too!

  5. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment http://bit.ly/aytQzD

  6. Nathon Raine

    Last night, the heir to a multimillion pound fortune declared that it is wrong for people to get money for doing nothing. http://goo.gl/G7m7

  7. Keith Wilson

    'Last night the heir to a multimillion pound fortune declared that it is wrong for people to get money for doing nothing' http://j.mp/8ZFsIU

  8. Micah Tillman

    What of charity? RT @keith_wilson: '[...] heir [...] declared that it is wrong for people to get money for doing nothing' http://j.mp/8ZFsIU

  9. suzybrown

    TIFF read this http://j.mp/8ZFsIU Tax small biz to keep people on benefits vs grants to biz to put ppl to work, UK-style

  10. Alex Naysmith

    Charges of anti-semitism now thrown at those who dare make fun of the posh name 'Gideon' http://tinyurl.com/38u5euk.

  11. So, just how Jewish is the name Gideon? « Bad Conscience

    [...] in Conservatives, Politics, Religion, Society at 8:00 am by Paul Sagar Last Friday I wrote a blog for Liberal Conspiracy in which I used Chancellor George Osborne’s name of birth: [...]

  12. Paul Sagar: Gideon Osborne and the Dodo of Keynes « New Politics Review

    [...] Gideon Osborne is trying to kill the idea of full employment (liberalconspiracy.org) [...]





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