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Five points about employment regulation everyone should know


10:20 am - December 26th 2011

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1. Employment protection legislation tends to discourage employers from hiring during the growth phase of the economic cycle but it also discourages layoffs during the recessionary phase.

Over the cycle as a whole, the effect is neutral, but EPL tends to promote greater overall stability, with smaller employment swings from boom to bust.

This isn’t an eccentric lefty position; here’s John Philpott, chief economist for the professional body for HR managers saying there is “little significant impact one way or the other on structural rates of employment or unemployment”.

2. The UK is not heavily regulated by international standards. The OECD’s ranking for strength of employment protection legislation rates us the second-lowest, only after the USA.

3. Employers are not crying out for de-regulation. The latest edition of the BIS Small Business Barometer asked 500 SMEs about their main obstacle to success. ‘The state of the economy’ was the biggest obstacle, listed by 45 per cent and ‘obtaining finance’ was next, mentioned by 12 per cent. After this came taxation, cash flow, competition and regulations – just 6% listed regulations as their main obstacle.

4. It is always worth pointing out that employment rose after the UK introduced the minimum wage, new trade union rights, guaranteed holidays and so on. The recent increase in unemployment is clearly due to the global economic crisis, not any change in employment regulation.

The global crisis is by far the biggest problem facing businesses around the world and it was not caused by over-regulation. Withdrawing some forms of regulation would probably make the economic crisis worse: abolition of the minimum wage, for instance, would have a detrimental effect on consumer spending and thus reduce economic output.

5. The Institute for Economic Affairs publishes a report on the Economic Freedom of the World based on an index that is made up of such items as ‘size of government’, ‘sound money’ and ‘business regulations’. One component is ‘labour market regulation’.

The UK ranks 21st on this index – presumably this is what neo-liberals are thinking of when they insist that this country is ‘falling behind’ on de-regulation. The countries that we need to catch up with include Bahrain , Montenegro, Fiji, Burundi and Jordan.

The ‘freest country’ in the world in this table according to the IEA? Haiti.


This is an edited down version of ‘ten points on regulation‘ published by the TUC last week

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Reader comments


I would tighten up the first “point”. Regulation doesn’t stop hiring during a growth phase, as growth is happening and companies need to hire staff.

However, it can slow hiring at the very earliest hints of growth as the risk that the growth will cease and you are stuck with an employee you can’t afford to pay a salary to, but also can’t sack.

Fortunately, the UK does offer the ability to lay off someone within a year of hiring them without penalty – so that risk is mitigated.

You need a regulatory system that lets employers take the gamble on hiring staff when there is uncertainty in the economy – but also protects staff from unscrupulous employers when the economy is doing well.

A sensible balance of both needs is best for everyone – and maybe loosening the regulations a bit in recessions and tightening them in good times would be something to consider.

2. So Much For Subtlety

Over the cycle as a whole, the effect is neutral, but EPL tends to promote greater overall stability, with smaller employment swings from boom to bust.

But that is not really the issue is it? The problem with EPL is that it makes it harder for people to break into the work force. It creates a pool of people outside the labour market for extended periods of time. Especially young people. The fact that it helps those with jobs at the expense of those without is not really a selling point.

This isn’t an eccentric lefty position; here’s John Philpott, chief economist for the professional body for HR managers saying there is “little significant impact one way or the other on structural rates of employment or unemployment”.

I see. Structural rates of employment. Not exactly fair to ignore that word is it?

Point 1 is a statement of faith. Of course, if its costs more then employers will not employ as often. I would speculate that this sort of statement suffers from the perennial problem with the left of having no understanding of the dynamic and moving small scale parts of an economy whilst allowing competitive parameters to move as required
It may well be true for the bulk employers over time if they do not lose competitiveness ( which they do) it is however a sever disincentive to small firms whose success true supply aside change depends on. In periods of growth they will be growing fast ideally and they will also face much more punitive effects form any anti employment legislation and be tempted into satisficing at low levels
Hard to measure but all of us in business know it to be true . SMEs will not see it this way because that covers quite large firms who benefit as much as they lose by preventing market entry and to whom regulation is not a problem if it affects their competitors equally .
The global re alignment may not have been caused only by employment legislation but it has been caused by a failure of productivity on the developed Economies which borrowing and asset inflation covered. It is certainly part of the problem
The other problem is that many of these rights are inly enforceable in static Employers with powerful unions , ie the Public Sector . This is not the whole but is part of the reason for our huge borrowing and inefficient use of tax payers money. Every pound taken away increases tax which, clearly has a negative effect
On the tables of rankings that was rather interesting and there is a point although given the source one would like to see some other view. Anything published by the Unions may be regarded as lies unless proved otherwise

I have come across an employer who, when the year’s period of contract when sacking without Employment Protection intervening approached, invited an employee into the basement, beat the young man up, and said: I can sack you whenever I want. Go to the police if you want but or you’ll get is a bad reference. Extreme – yes. But certain bad employers seek new ways of circumventing any legislation, and weaker rules are not required by anyone. The law protects workers from the small but appalling and dangerous minority.

5. So Much For Subtlety

4. Rentergirl

I have come across an employer who, when the year’s period of contract when sacking without Employment Protection intervening approached, invited an employee into the basement, beat the young man up, and said: I can sack you whenever I want. Go to the police if you want but or you’ll get is a bad reference. Extreme – yes. But certain bad employers seek new ways of circumventing any legislation, and weaker rules are not required by anyone. The law protects workers from the small but appalling and dangerous minority.

How precisely is the legislation protecting anyone against this kind of thing? It looks to me as if it is the legislation that is precisely causing this kind of thing. This is a good example of a crime that would not exist if it were not for the law that makes it possible. Abolish the law, and you abolish the beatings. Just as reforming rent control did not make all landlords nice people, but abolished at a stroke an entire sub-class of criminals. This is just the Labour legislation equivalent of Rachman.

“It is always worth pointing out that employment rose after the UK introduced the minimum wage, new trade union rights, guaranteed holidays and so on”.

Why is it worth pointing that out? Surely it would be impossible to prove any causation there. Looking at the employment graph over a long period, it shows a reasonably steady upward trend from around 1992 to 2000 followed by a plateau until 2008 when it started falling. So, an argument could be made that these ‘benefits’ you cite stopped the rate of employment from rising, once they’d kicked in.

@4 He wasn’t a bar manager by any chance? I know a Bar manager myself who engaged in similar behaviour toward his staff, though in his case he let his bouncers do the beatings. Presumably the bouncers got different treatment from the bar staff.

8. lowpaidasdaworker

Once again under the tory government it’s us low paid workers who get it in the neck when times are hard. Why, well it’s simple, when we can actually be bothered to join in the circle jerk that is UK politics we are more than likely not going to vote Tory, sure you get a few turkeys amongst us , but only a few. So it’s no great loss to the Torys and their fucking dicks who come on websites to bemoan anything vaguely centre left, that a lot of low paid easily sackable workers dont vote tory cause they never where going to in the first place.

SMFS – BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! Seriously, I do hope you are some sort of Sunny glove puppet that is used to enflame debate, cause if you are for real, then I’ll apologies to you mother, she must hate every single day since she blew you out of her chuff.

9. So Much For Subtlety

8. lowpaidasdaworker

Once again under the tory government it’s us low paid workers who get it in the neck when times are hard.

Well that is only semi-true at best. Legislation cannot protect jobs. It can only reward members of a Union at the expense of everyone else – in particular the poorest sections of society who have no jobs at all. People get paid in line with their productivity and the number of other people who want to work. So cutting immigration would help. Nothing else will.

Why, well it’s simple, when we can actually be bothered to join in the circle jerk that is UK politics we are more than likely not going to vote Tory, sure you get a few turkeys amongst us , but only a few. So it’s no great loss to the Torys and their fucking dicks who come on websites to bemoan anything vaguely centre left, that a lot of low paid easily sackable workers dont vote tory cause they never where going to in the first place.

Except they do. The Tories have been the “natural party of government” in Britain for most of the 20th century. They did so because of working class votes. Not a majority by any means, but enough to make a difference. It is not a few. It is enough to keep the Labour Party more or less out of office except for brief periods, until that is, the Labour Party decided to copy the Tories and become Thatcher-lite.

Employment legislation helps to maintain standards and in a civilised society everyone should have a right to be treated fairly at work. Those primitives on the right will have none of it though in their quest for unfettered “freedom” In the USA these same primitives are calling for laws specifically designed to outlaw child labour to be repealed so that child can be “free” to work.

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/475205/missouri_gop_wants_to_repeal_child_labor_laws/

How sick is this?

In Britain, 19th century Parliaments passed a long succession of factory acts to curb the gross exploitation of women and children in recognition of the compounding evidence that markets are insufficiently self-regulating to prevent socially unacceptable outcomes. For a recap on the factory acts 1802-1878, try this link:
http://www.historyhome.co.uk/peel/factmine/factleg.htm

What drives the employment of child labour, prostitution and human trafficking in developing countries in present times is most often poverty.

SMFS@5:

“This is a good example of a crime that would not exist if it were not for the law that makes it possible. Abolish the law, and you abolish the beatings.”

OK, let’s abolish all the laws against, say, rape. Or murder. After all, it’s quite clear in SMFS-world that you can’t have crime if there is no law on the books to say that something is a crime. Hey presto! A crime-free society! (Except for ‘crimes’ which involve The Feral Underclass(TM) doing things the owning classes don’t like – like existing).

If the ‘unfettered’ (meaning, in the real world, ‘skewed in favour of the most rapacious and thuggish’) market operated with the sort of near-perfection that you claim, then laws against lousy behaviour by employers wouldn’t be necessary, would they?

Except they do. The Tories have been the “natural party of government” in Britain for most of the 20th century. They did so because of working class votes. Not a majority by any means, but enough to make a difference. It is not a few. It is enough to keep the Labour Party more or less out of office except for brief periods, until that is, the Labour Party decided to copy the Tories and become Thatcher-lite.
True
Most working class voters don’t vote. Kept them happy by the X factor, promise of a big win on the lottery and tits in the Sun.
Sad, because it leaves greedy, unprincipled dicks like your self to run the country. Labour and Tory.

Also talking of employment SFMS.
You make an awful lot of posts. Please tell me what you do for living. You have so much time to continuosly post on an obscure lefty site.
With your lack of workload, you maybe able to give the unemployed some tips

The Tories have been the “natural party of government” in Britain for most of the 20th century. They did so because of working class votes. Not a majority by any means, but enough to make a difference.

Well, Thatchers pork barrel politics of flogging council homes off cheaply will have convinced a few working class voters to vote Tory, for a little while at least.

Really Bob? I must tell the Paper boy to give his money back.You are assuming today`s paper boy looks like Something out of Dickens”. Why, nothing else does?
I think the underlying factor is Labour mobility. In this country the extreme immobility of Labour caused by a cocktail of Council housing lists, house prices and de factor regional Policy which artificially inflates wages in areas where there is little real work, like the North East.( I know for a fact this is a real problem for employers )
Employment legislation is adding to an inherently inefficient Labour supply further compounded by National pay bargaining in the Public Sector.
Btw Bob You mention the Factory Acts, the iconic example of the Victorian Conscience .This, and much more was driven by a religious revival participated in by the same non conformists who were driving capitalism. It is a mistake, in my view to abstract capitalism from the culture which gave birth to it.

Do you know the best advert for employment protection? If you are not sure as to how the cards stack up, then ask yourself this. Who campaigns against employment rights? Is it decent people?

Or is it the typical Tory vermin who campaign against anything that helps the low paid? Looking around it apears that that the sub human vermin are caimpaigning against employment rights.

Is it the same people that think disabled people should be further punished by being forced into labour programmes? Is it the same peole who find the minimum wage at six quid an hour repugnant? Is it the same people who find maternity leave shocking?

Yes it is. The same people who want to grind the poor into the dirt ans back into service of the wealthy.

Why? Why bother so much about our paltry employment rights if they don’t actually work?

@17 Jim

“Is it the same peole who find the minimum wage at six quid an hour repugnant?”

Tell me, is there any upward limit on the national minimum wage that beyond which would, you think, cause unemployment or other unwanted results? Would you support increasing it to £20 per hour, for instance? If not, why not?

@12 The Judge,

I don’t wish to intrude into your argument with SMFS, but it is certainly not the case that those who take the view that the economy works best when it is unfettered by regulations believe that the law should be abolished alongside the regulations.

I would be very surprised if you could find a prominent exponent of free trade, such as one of the famous economists or politicians of the last two centuries, calling for any such thing.

Economic liberty is concerned with removing interference in voluntary actions. The main argument around this is the more elastic interpretation of the term ‘coercion’ which proponents of regulation apply.

Trooper Thompson @ 17

Tell me, is there any upward limit on the national minimum wage that beyond which would, you think, cause unemployment or other unwanted results?

To be honest, I have thought about this ever since I was aware of the principle of the minimum wage, which I remember being discussed during the eighties. I am sure ‘Question time’ have archives were Hesiltine and Prescott go at it as does Michael Howard takes a bite of the cherry as well.

Ever since the principle of the minimum wage has been discussed, we have had the same people tell us that Western Civilisation would crumble beneath or very feet and we would witness the collapse of the service sector as a direct result.

Of course since the minimum wage none of that has happened. In fact, employment has gone up. All the dire warnings have turned out to be the bleatings of a few vested interests, who are reluctant to pay a decent, living wage to their employees

So, do I see anything in principle to object to a minimum wage of twenty quid an hour? No, I do not. Not in one go of course, not a fourteen quid rise in January. That would be too much of a shock in one go that may cause highly unpredictable results, but say a target of £20 by say, 2020? Why not? So far, the Tories and millionaires who objected so vociferously to a minimum wage at two, three, four, five or even six quid an hour, have been confounded, so is their a single piece of evidence to suggest that they are right today?

People like you have been crying wolf for so long and you predictions have been blown out of the water so far, I genuinely wonder if those predictions made twenty years ago were driven by cold logic or perhaps a bit more visceral? A natural instinct to drive people down, perhaps?

@19 Jim,

“People like you have been crying wolf for so long and you predictions have been blown out of the water so far”

It’s not a case of prediction, but deduction. If you fix the cost of employing someone higher than the benefit their labour brings, they will remain unemployed. If I were going to make a prediction, I’d say something like: with a NMA, you’re likely to have high unemployment amongst young people, who lack skills and experience. Would you like to blow that out of the water?

“So, do I see anything in principle to object to a minimum wage of twenty quid an hour? No, I do not. Not in one go of course, not a fourteen quid rise in January. That would be too much of a shock in one go that may cause highly unpredictable results, but say a target of £20 by say, 2020? Why not? ”

What do you mean by ‘a shock’? What ‘highly unpredictable results’ do you think it may cause? As to why not, don’t you think that the cost of living would likely increase, thereby negating the increase in money wages?

TT @ 20

If you fix the cost of employing someone higher than the benefit their labour brings, they will remain unemployed.

But how likely is that, in the overall scheme of things? What kind of jobs are likely to be unviable at seven quid an hour?

Your local supermarkets are always going to need their shelves stacked, unless the minimum wage really gets out of all sense of proportion. Tesco are not simply going to give up stacking shelves, nor are ASDA for that matter. Same with most of the labour intensive service industries for that matter.

I have long since gave up getting my haircut at the barbers, but that is not because the price, it is because I tend to get what is left of my hair rumped of at home with clippers. These clippers cost about twenty quid or something and it is a ten minute job. Now, I would never even consider using a hairdresser because I cannot be bothered with the hassle.

My mother still uses a hairdresser because she loves the personal touch that a hairdresser gives, but her hair grows at the same rate as it would no matter the minimum wage. She willingly pays for the service she gets and despite the minimum wage, she has not stopped going to hairdressers.

Surely, as the minimum wage has increased, year on year we would expect to see sections of the service industry become unviable en masse. That hasn’t happened though has it?

I am being totally honest here, but I cannot think of a service that has ceased to exist because of the minimum wage.

@20

What do you mean by ‘a shock’? What ‘highly unpredictable results’ do you think it may cause? As to why not, don’t you think that the cost of living would likely increase, thereby negating the increase in money wages?

That would certainly be the case if wages significantly increased in say China or India, or in any nation that we rely upon for their imported food & goods.

“Your local supermarkets are always going to need their shelves stacked, unless the minimum wage really gets out of all sense of proportion. Tesco are not simply going to give up stacking shelves, nor are ASDA for that matter”

This imaginary static state Economy existed, they say, in Ancient China . The High Street are always going to need their delivery men, the Press will always need delivering by hand. Little is “always ” and supply side driven growth ( the only real kind) only happens with change. Labour immobility is already a major drag on our Economy and a minimum wage is obviously going to deter market entrants,employment entrants and innovation.
An answer to this might be to increase mobility in other ways, education , reduced welfare reduced regional support and a reduced state sector. Its rather a shame that the NUT have stifled every attempt to reform education at secondary level as well.I suspect we will need all the above

@21 Jim,

we were talking about £20 per hour a moment ago, now you’ve switched to £7. Is that because you accept that £20 per hour minimum wage would cause unemployment?

In any case, the point I make is a general one: if the price of anything is set higher than the market will bear, it will not be sold. If I put my car on the market at three times its list price, I may find a mug willing to buy it, but the chances are I’d not sell it, or at best would have a long wait.

“Your local supermarkets are always going to need their shelves stacked, unless the minimum wage really gets out of all sense of proportion.”

Aha! So you do accept the argument I am making. Besides it is not the case that supermarkets will always need their shelves stacked by human labour. Look what is happening at the check-outs – the customers are using the machines and filling their own bags. I expect if the NMW went to £20 per hour, this would accelerate the process. Something similar could happen with shelf-stacking, if it became economically worth doing. Also, there is not a finite amount of work, it is infinite this side of paradise, as there will always be unmet needs. There are jobs which never get done, because of the cost and fact that other jobs are more pressing. It is these potential jobs that can get overlooked.

“Surely, as the minimum wage has increased, year on year we would expect to see sections of the service industry become unviable en masse. That hasn’t happened though has it?”

I don’t know that we should expect to see that. The NMW is only one factor among many. That there are so many different forces pulling in all directions, is why theory and rational deduction are needed in economics, rather than empiricism. There’s no laboratory, such as there in with chemistry.

I am not, by the way, obsessed with getting rid of the NMW. If the public wants it, then the public shall have it, but the public should understand the cost, which falls on those who can’t get any job at all. A more politically expedient way to improve matters would be to reduce or abolish employer NI on low level workers.

TT @ 25

we were talking about £20 per hour a moment ago, now you’ve switched to £7. Is that because you accept that £20 per hour minimum wage would cause unemployment?

I have already said that moving from six to twenty pound an hour in one fell swoop is unlikely and may cause a countrywide shock. I have also said that it is perfectly feasible to move towards a twenty quid minimum wage in incremental steps.

Aha! So you do accept the argument I am making.

I was refering to a sudden move to something like twenty quid an hour. Even then Tesco would either have to choke up and pay up or completely change their business model.

Something similar could happen with shelf-stacking, if it became economically worth doing

There is simply no way of stopping automation of labour. It is inevitable part of modernisation and progress. This process has been going on since, well, since the first animals and plants were domesticated? Could we define that as automation? A technological advance? Whatever the answer is we would both agree that our entire culture is dominated by old technologies and the jobs they supported being replaced by newer ones.

It has been argued that we could somehow slow or even stop this process by driving the wages of the poor down further. Now, the truth is that Tim W is no more interested in halting progress than you or I are, but he was attempting and failing to justify his position. Everyone would see that attempting to keep industries free from the onslaught of technology is a futile exercise, we both know that we both that too.

The issue is, when people currently in the labour force become obsolete through technology, how do we deal with that as humanely as possible?

Also, there is not a finite amount of work, it is infinite this side of paradise, as there will always be unmet needs.

Where are these unmet needs? Why are they unmet? What kind of jobs are we missing?

All over Europe there are economies teetering on the brink with unemployment spiraling out of control in some places. Places that have no minimum wage and little in the way of welfare, so what jobs are being done in Lisbon that are missing in London? Madrid and Manchester? What have they got in Budapest that we could be doing? What are you able to get in Estonia that you cannot get in Edinburgh?

Surely we are not going to shoe shine our way out of a deficit?

What we see is quite the opposite, though, eh? Low wage economies are not generating jobs, precisely because low wage economies lack the spending power. No one is innovating in Lisbon because there is no incentive to invent a new service as no one can afford to use it. You want to start up a franchise? Go to London because high wage London creates jobs that low wage regions do not.

If the public wants it, then the public shall have it, but the public should understand the cost, which falls on those who can’t get any job at all.

Come on, the minimum wage is not a cause of unemployment, there are places all over the World that have neither a minimum wage or a welfare state where huge surpluses of labour exist. You must know that.

@15: “It is a mistake, in my view to abstract capitalism from the culture which gave birth to it.”

Quite so – I go along with the theses of Max Weber and of Tawney about religion and the rise of capitalism, but then I’m not inhibited about attributing the Opium Wars to that same “cultural” appetite for unrestrained avarice, the very avarice which impelled Parliament to legislate the factory acts to curb the exploitation of women and children and why Parliament finally passed the Education Act of 1870 to provide for universal primary schooling because the churches and charities weren’t up to the task so education standards in Britain were lagging those in mainland European countries.

In case you don’t recall much of the history of the Opium Wars, try this entry in Wikipedia about the “right” to sell opium to the citizens of China to facilitate their addiction – btw Britain acquired Milton Friedman’s favourite market place, the Crown colony of Hong Kong, in settlement of the first of the Opium Wars:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars

Latter day bankers seem to be following those same cultural imperatives except that in their case it’s a matter of bankers ripping off their stockholders as well as their customers and the public at large. Clever stuff – which is why we need more legislation to constrain the bankers from practices which can so easily hazard the systemic stability of the financial system.

@ 25 Jim,

Where are these unmet needs? All around us. At my work, there is plenty of things which don”t get done, because something is more pressing. If the cost of taking on staff is lowered, then more staff could be taken on. Why are they unmet? Because resources and goods are limited, and must be economised. If we ever run out of unmet needs on earth, there’s always the moon base we sadly lack. What kind of jobs are we missing? The jobs we are missing are not usually different to the jobs that exist (moon colonists etc. excepted), it’s just we would have more of them.”

“It has been argued that we could somehow slow or even stop this process by driving the wages of the poor down further.”

This is not the argument. The process is a good one. We could certainly have full employment if we took away some of the technological advantages of the industrial era, but this would not be a good idea. Labour is a means to an end. The point being made is that if wages are increased due to government intervention, then the benefit that some will gain from this will be off-set by losses felt by others, and that it is not the case that some jobs need to be done, however high the government declares wages are to be. Technological progress will continue come what may, but if a particular process is not mechanised because the cost of making the change makes it unviable, it is not a good thing for government legislation to force up other costs so that it becomes viable.

“What we see is quite the opposite, though, eh? Low wage economies are not generating jobs, precisely because low wage economies lack the spending power. ”

I do not believe that the economic situation in Lisbon etc will improve if wages are increased across the board. As for the other examples, I refer you back to the point I made above about the necessity of theory and rational deduction in economics, rather than casting around for empirical examples to back up any particular position.

“Come on, the minimum wage is not a cause of unemployment, there are places all over the World that have neither a minimum wage or a welfare state where huge surpluses of labour exist. You must know that.”

It causes unemployment to the extent that it fixes the cost of employing someone above the value of employing that person. I don’t know where you are referring to. The main barriers to economic development is a lack of capital accumulation, and a lack of a stable legal system in which business can flourish, I would think.

Try Raymond Vernon on: The Product Cycle Hypothesis in a New International Environment (1979)
http://teaching.ust.hk/~mgto650p/meyer/readings/2/08_Vernon1979.pdf

TT @ 25

At my work, there is plenty of things which don”t get done,

The reason they don’t get done is because it is simply not important enough for them to get done. Your company are able to turn a profit without doing these jobs, whatever they are. Lower the minimum wage and/or cost of employing staff will not make those jobs more attractive, all that will do is provide higher expectations of profit, leaving unprofitable tasks just as lower priority as before.

What kind of jobs are we missing? The jobs we are missing are not usually different to the jobs that exist it’s just we would have more of them.”

No, that is optimistic at best. Think about it for a second. The only thing that creates barmen is people with disposable incomes and a reason to go into the pub. The price of barmen doesn’t really come into it. Cut the minimum wage and you cut disposable incomes of your potential clients. The number of bars changes as people go into and out of pubs, not the fluctuation of the cost to employ bar staff. My local will be full tomorrow because there is a sporting event on the TV, and the bar manager will act accordingly by employing more staff, because he knows that he recoup his outlay. There is an optimal amount bar staff to cover the number of people in the pub. He will NEVER employ too many people because they would just get in the way and he cannot employ too few because he will lose money if people are watching football, but not buying drink.

If the toilets pack up, he will employ a plumber at a considerable higher rate than his bar staff. That’s because he has to pay it to stay in business, it is not an optional extra. The toilets do not bung up more or less depending on the price of employing a plumber changes. It is not like we would have better plumbing in pubs if only those nasty plumbers lowered their prices.

TT @ 27

I do not believe that the economic situation in Lisbon etc will improve if wages are increased across the board.

Why don’t you believe it? Is it because your political ideology would suffer if it happened? Okay, leave the wages aside for a second. Imagine that we see a sudden influx of European ex pats from France, Germany and the UK bringing wealthy pensions/income with them. I would suggest that a rise in the disposible income around the town may create jobs? Lets say we had more people wanting pizzas and kebabs on a Friday night than before. Is it possible that might create a few more pizza and kebab shops? What about taxis? Let us say that we saw an increase in drunken idiots leaving bars at midnight? Could that lead to an increase taxi journeys and therefor, taxis?

It must be demand that creates jobs, or else the Countries with the highest wages would have the highest unemployment and the lowest waged Countries would have full employment, yet for reason, the poorest Countries in Europe have low wages and lower employment.

Same goes for British regions.

@ 29,

“The reason they don’t get done is because it is simply not important enough for them to get done.”

It is not that they are unimportant it is that there are other things higher in rank of importance. If the company could afford to employ someone to deal with them it would be a benefit to the company.

“Lower the minimum wage and/or cost of employing staff will not make those jobs more attractive, all that will do is provide higher expectations of profit, leaving unprofitable tasks just as lower priority as before.”

Not at all. The means by which something is judged unprofitable is by considering the cost and the benefit. If the cost is reduced, and the benefit stays the same, it is quite conceivable that it becomes profitable. In the same way, you may decide to buy a coat because it is £50, but would not buy the same coat if it was £100.

“The only thing that creates barmen is people with disposable incomes and a reason to go into the pub. The price of barmen doesn’t really come into it. Cut the minimum wage and you cut disposable incomes of your potential clients.”

Insofar as the employment costs are represented in the bar prices, then it is indeed the case that the price of barmen comes into it. The amount of beer someone buys from their disposable income depends, amongst other things, on the price of that beer.

What exactly is your argument? That we can print money and make everyone rich? That seems to be the underlying fallacy. You’re happy to see the minimum wage pushed up to £20 per hour over a few years. And then what? What if by that stage £20 buys the same as £5 today?

@30

“Why don’t you believe it? Is it because your political ideology would suffer if it happened?”

No. I just expect that a general increase in wages, driven by a political decision, rather than economic conditions, would go hand in hand with a general increase in prices, so the increase would be eaten up by the price rises, leaving everyone much as they were before.

“Imagine that we see a sudden influx of European ex pats from France, Germany and the UK bringing wealthy pensions/income with them. I would suggest that a rise in the disposible income around the town may create jobs?”

It may well do, but this is is additional money to the economy. Enforcing higher wages by law does not bring any additional money to the economy, it merely displaces it. The extra money spent on wages will not be spent on, say, new office equipment. One worker’s gain is another worker’s loss.

32. So Much For Subtlety

10. Robert Anderson

Employment legislation helps to maintain standards and in a civilised society everyone should have a right to be treated fairly at work. Those primitives on the right will have none of it though in their quest for unfettered “freedom” In the USA these same primitives are calling for laws specifically designed to outlaw child labour to be repealed so that child can be “free” to work.

We have already repealed a lot of those Victorian laws so that women could work. Children do work, in their spare time and on the weekends. So why not?

Employment legislation does not maintain standards. It is window dressing to allow middle class liberals to think they are living in a civilised society. No more. I am not sure what a right to being treated fairly would look like, but as these laws are causing employers to beat the crap out of their workers, I would politely suggest these laws are not helping to that end.

11. Bob B

In Britain, 19th century Parliaments passed a long succession of factory acts to curb the gross exploitation of women and children in recognition of the compounding evidence that markets are insufficiently self-regulating to prevent socially unacceptable outcomes.

Indeed. Middle class white males were concerned about the economic freedom of women and so legislated them back into the kitchen. That suggests to me that perhaps legislation is not such a good solution. Perhaps Bob thinks that women belong in the kitchen. Who knows? But we have to consider what those socially unacceptable outcomes are before we even begin to approve of getting between two consenting adults.

12. The Judge

OK, let’s abolish all the laws against, say, rape. Or murder. After all, it’s quite clear in SMFS-world that you can’t have crime if there is no law on the books to say that something is a crime. Hey presto! A crime-free society! (Except for ‘crimes’ which involve The Feral Underclass(TM) doing things the owning classes don’t like – like existing).

Well by definition you cannot have crime without law. However if this is the best argument you can come up with, it is pretty lame. No doubt you would have opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality or abortion because, of course, that too is about as equivalent to abolishing the law on rape as abolishing these laws is. Pathetic.

If the ‘unfettered’ (meaning, in the real world, ‘skewed in favour of the most rapacious and thuggish’) market operated with the sort of near-perfection that you claim, then laws against lousy behaviour by employers wouldn’t be necessary, would they?

They aren’t. Even now with a less than perfect market.

13. Angry dad

With your lack of workload, you maybe able to give the unemployed some tips

I would. They should give me a contract to mentor the unemployed.

14. Cylux

Well, Thatchers pork barrel politics of flogging council homes off cheaply will have convinced a few working class voters to vote Tory, for a little while at least.

Just as the massive pork barrelling of the welfare state convinces many to vote for the Labour Party. In a way the selling of council houses was a return to an older style of elections – where you bought individuals, not entire classes. Either way, working class voters have been voting for the Tories since they got the vote. Well before council housing was even thought up.

26. Bob B

why Parliament finally passed the Education Act of 1870 to provide for universal primary schooling because the churches and charities weren’t up to the task so education standards in Britain were lagging those in mainland European countries.

Actually that is getting it precisely backwards. The Education Act was passed because schooling was too good in Britain – and it was mainly in the hands of the Dissenters. So it had to be legislated back into the hands of the State and of the Church of England. Literacy grew more slowly after the Act than before it. The same is true of Higher Education. Charities produced Universities with a strong interest in the Sciences. The State gradually brought them back into the fold and they became weak copies of the Arts-bias of Oxford. A good example being Goldsmiths’ which was founded to teach useful science and is now best known for its obsession with French literary theory.

In case you don’t recall much of the history of the Opium Wars, try this entry in Wikipedia about the “right” to sell opium to the citizens of China to facilitate their addiction – btw Britain acquired Milton Friedman’s favourite market place, the Crown colony of Hong Kong, in settlement of the first of the Opium Wars

If you can find a single British government document that even hints the Opium War was about opium I would be happy to see it. Whatever the war was “really” about, the British government never once said it was about opium.

TT @ 31

If the company could afford to employ someone to deal with them it would be a benefit to the company.

You can say that they cannot afford to pay someone to do these jobs, but who is to say that is true? My bet is that they could quite easily afford to pay to have theses jobs done, but choose not to because there is simply no incentive to do so. I bet they do all the things they are legally required to do, like risk assessments etc. I bet they do things that directly impact on sales and company image and everything else is left undone because no one can see the value of the work.

I see the same thing were I work. Jobs that could be done, but no one can squeeze any value from it so it never gets done.

Insofar as the employment costs are represented in the bar prices, then it is indeed the case that the price of barmen comes into it.

Yeah, but how much does the price of labour impact on the price of a drink in a bar? There are lots of overheads that the bar manager has to juggle and the minimum wage is pretty far down that list as far as I can see. There must be jobs that are mostly about staff costs, but the local pub? Your franchised burger joint?

What exactly is your argument?

My argument is this;

Whenever we get into a debate about unemployment, employment rights etc, we keep getting into these types of debates that end up blaming the poorest people in society for the World’s problems.

We could employ more people of only those greedy bastards on six quid an hour could take a three quid an hour pay cut. The people who advocate that the poor be raped for what little wage packet they have are exactly the type of people who wouldn’t piss in a cup for six quid, far less do an hours work for it. We see the same people getting hammering the poor, the sick the unemployed, public servants, the weak and the vulnerable.

On another thread, I was castigated for hating a person who I have judged to have caused untold misery to millions of people. Yet it seems that the same people find it perfectly legitimate to carry so much hate for millions of people up and down the Country, without even knowing their names.

The entire banking sector’s problems do not stem the fact that the cleaners and security guards take too much out of the system, it is because the whole system is designed around unadulterated greed by people who earn millions of quid, safe in the knowledge that they will never suffer the consequences if they fuck up.

It appears that guys like you can happily ignore the greed, the grasping, the double dealing and ruthlessness and people who enrich their lives at the expense of millions of others, walk by them, walk by all of that and get your size eleven boots into the ribcages of people who earn six fucking measly quid an hour. Never mind those who make huge profits while gas customers are gouged, let us go after the real villains of the peace, the cleaner who makes less money a year than your average banker’s lap dancing bill.

You are right in so far as there is greed in the system, but you are wrong in thinking we could improve society by kicking the lungs out of a six quid an hour char lady.

@33 Either that or they lose sight of what the actual point of earning a wage is. You work to live, not live to work. If you make it so that the absolute minimum you can be paid in wages does not provide enough to survive on, what incentive is there for people to work?

@33 Jim,

“You can say that they cannot afford to pay someone to do these jobs, but who is to say that is true? My bet is that they could quite easily afford to pay to have theses jobs done, but choose not to because there is simply no incentive to do so.”

No, the company really can’t afford it. It’s a small company, and I know its limits.

“Whenever we get into a debate about unemployment, employment rights etc, we keep getting into these types of debates that end up blaming the poorest people in society for the World’s problems. ”

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with blaming poor people. It’s simply a matter of economic science, which is value free. As I said above, if the people want a minimum wage law, fine, but they should understand how it causes some people, especially the young and unskilled, to be kept out of the jobs market.

Such minimum wage laws are indicative of state intervention in the economy, which are counter-productive to what they are intended to achieve, which leads us on to:

“The entire banking sector’s problems do not stem the fact that the cleaners and security guards take too much out of the system, it is because the whole system is designed around unadulterated greed by people who earn millions of quid, safe in the knowledge that they will never suffer the consequences if they fuck up.”

Apart from the bit about greed, which I think is somewhat overboiled, I agree. But yet again, look at the causes and you will find it is the state intervention, which screws up the monetary system through central banking, fixing interest rates and allowing fractional reserve banking. The free trade system requires sound money, which is why its strongest advocates have been warning for decades that inflationist policies and cheap credit causes the cycle of booms and busts, and it is this inflation and the debasement of the currency which screws ordinary people to the benefit of the banking aristocracy, and as for never suffering the consequences when they fuck up, again look at the cause: government bailouts. Naturally, if the players at the casino know they keeep what they win and get a bailout when they lose, they will be encouraged to act rashly.

From what I can see, most of the top dogs in the banking world should be cooling their heels in Rikers Island, but unfortunately these people seem to control the governments of the Western world – quite openly in the case of Greece and Italy now. This bigger issue of the monetary system is impossible to avoid, when considering the state of the economy,

The rest of what you say is just an emotional rant against me, based on the premise that I like kicking poor people, which I don’t. Presumably you think I am a wealthy person, who can relax in insulation from the economic crisis which we are in. This is not at all the case. Even if it was, it would not change whether what I said was correct or not, it’s just ad hominem.

TT @ 35

It’s got absolutely nothing to do with blaming poor people. It’s simply a matter of economic science, which is value free.

It just seems a rather odd coincidence that every policy consistent with the economic ‘Right’ has the same effect; ending up spreading the political and economic gap between the very rich against the very poor. Seriously, trust me on this, I would actually love for someone on the Right of the political economic system to propose something, anything that would have the effect of instantly rebalancing the power dynamic from the rich in society and the poor. But everything you people advocate will end up having a negative impact on the poor.

It’s simply a matter of economic science, which is value free.

I have said before and I will say it again, I have never believed in economics as a ‘science’ because economics is NEVER value free.

Economics is the Siamese twin of politics. The two are inextricably linked and based entirely on the perceptions and prejudices of the observer. These prejudices are based on the political beliefs of that observer.

It may be possible that a completely empirical understanding of economics could exist and it is entirely possible that does exist, but how would we recognise it? Unless we happen to have preformed our prejudices around these alleged immutable laws, we would automatically assume bias, wouldn’t we?

Take the laws of physics as an analogy. By any stretch of the imagination these are value free, but apparently otherwise sane, rational people believe that these immutable laws have been either deliberately falsified or carelessly mis-interpreted to create a bogus theory that every credible has been scientist fooled into believing or been seduced into a willing conspiracy.

It just so happens that for some strange reason that the Ven-diagram of people who believe that the Laws of Psychics are wrong and the Laws of Economics are cast in iron seems to have a pretty large overlap.

The rest of what you say is just an emotional rant against me, based on the premise that I like kicking poor people, which I don’t.

No, it not an emotional rant against ‘you’ but the system as it stands.

I can see with my own eyes what is happening, I can see what has happened before, here and in other Countries.

I can see mass unemployment, both here and in other Countries, long before we had unemployment benefit and or minimum wages. Yet I am told that unemployment is caused by both. I am told that high wages cause unemployment, but when I look around, I see the areas of the Country where high wages are a product of low unemployment and the Parts of the Country with high unemployment have the lowest living standards. I see that in Europe and I see the same throughout the World. I see cities where no welfare states exist, yet I see young men standing by the road in the hope that they might get work (a few dollars, pesos or Rand) that day? I hear of places were child prostitution are commonplace and areas of the World where unemployment is endemic.

I am told that a deregulated free market and a non welfare State is the key to create jobs, yet I see millions of East Europeans fleeing these conditions to come here. Why are they travelling hundreds of miles, to stack shelves or deliver fast food? How can a highly productive person in Poland make more money hawking pizzas here than is counterpart? We are this taxed to death, highly regulated, enterprise stifling Country and yet the best of Polish labour force leave there to come here? Why is there no profit in delivering Pizzas in Warsaw? We must be doing something right. Yet despite all those advantages, Polish unemployment is still as high as it is here.

Every time I am told something about economics, I look and see something at odds with I am being told.

@32 SMFS: “Actually that is getting it precisely backwards. The [1870] Education Act was passed because schooling was too good in Britain”

Not so according to these researchers:

“We have noted a substantial body of original research . . . which found that stagnant or declining literacy underlay the ‘revolution’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. . . Britain in 1850 was the wealthiest country in the world but only in the second rank as regards literacy levels. [Nick] Crafts has shown that in 1870 when Britain was world economic leader, its school enrolment ratio was only 0.168 compared with the European norm of 0.514 and ‘Britain persistently had a relatively low rate of accumulation of human capital’.”
Sanderson: Education, economic change and society in 1780-1870 (Cambridge UP, 1995) p.61

SMFS – evidently you are unable to resist displaying your profound ignorance once more.

@ 36 Jim,

“Every time I am told something about economics, I look and see something at odds with I am being told.”

You are confusing economic theory with empirically-gathered data.

“It may be possible that a completely empirical understanding of economics could exist and it is entirely possible that does exist, but how would we recognise it?”

No, it is not possible, so stop looking. We have to turn to logic and reason, not compiling statistics, which only tell us about the past.

“Every time I am told something about economics, I look and see something at odds with I am being told.”

These things are not at odds with economic theory, it is because you keep looking for simplistic causal relationships in complex matters.

“I have said before and I will say it again, I have never believed in economics as a ‘science’ because economics is NEVER value free.”

Then you deny that there is any benefit to rationalism and logical deduction. To say that economic science is value free means this: that it does not look at the ends that are to be attained, but at the means proposed or implemented to attain them. An artificially- low fixed price for a commodity will cause a shortage. If you want to cause a shortage, then that is a good policy. If you do not want to cause a shortage then it’s a bad policy. All the economist can say is what the likely effect will be.

Also the job of an economist is to look at the bigger picture, not just the immediate short-term effect to a section of the population. A high tariff on steel imports makes sense to domestic steel manufacturers. If you only look at the interests of the latter, you will surmise that a high steel tariff is good. But the economist must look past this to the general effect. As above, the judgement of whether a high steel tariff is good or bad depends on what the intention is. If the intention is to benefit the steel companies at the expense of everyone else, then it’s a good policy. If it’s supposed to help the domestic economy in general, it is a bad policy. All an economist can do is point out what the effects will be. In this way it is value-free.

@36 Jim: “I am told that a deregulated free market and a non welfare State is the key to create jobs,”

I’m not saying that. West European economies are not deregulated and many have more generous welfare state benefits than in Britain. In 2007, before the financial crisis broke, general government expenditure in Britain as a percentage of national GDG was a little higher than in Germany but lower than in Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and France – according to OECD figures.

Credit for first introducing state pensions and a social insurance scheme to cover personal healthcare costs goes to Bismarck, first chancellor of the German empire – he was not renown for being “leftist”. That created the foundations of what evolved into the European model for a Social Market Economy. Try Andre Sapir: Globalisation and the Reform of European Social Models:
http://www.ulb.ac.be/cours/delaet/econ076/docs/sapir.pdf

All the stuff about the supposed benefits of “free market capitalism” is bunk. The real political issues are about how to regulate market economies so as to improve their economic performance – which is why the coalition government set up the Independent Commission on Banking to make recommendations for the reform of the banking system so as to avert – or at minimise the possibility of – a repeat financial crisis. Not many are saying we need less regulation of banking. The Turner Review of the Financial Services Authority (2009) admitted a series of failings to fulfill the FSA’s statutory task of regulating the banks and financial markets to maintain systemic stability – google on Turner Review to retrieve the report.

Arguments about the methodology of economics are deeply boring and generally fruitless. IME it’s much better to get stuck into debates about the analysis of real policy issues than to go on about whether or not economics is a “value free” science. In general, economists are much better at picking apart their subject than amateurs.

Bob you do tend to talk as if no-one had ever suggested a Planned Economy or that many of them were not members of the Labour Party, or that Marxism and derived analysis did not grip this countries educational establishment until recently and …I could go on.
This country paid for creeping socialism by borrowing which could be afforded as it was during a long hot boom. It is unreasonable for you to take a snap shot just prior to the down turn , the shape of borrowing and expenditure is only seen over a cycle and at the moment we are out spending Sweden. By ignoring the landscape Yvette Copper and many others have claimed that Labour reduced borrowing …well kind of, mathematically speaking, but not true.
Jim – To say things would be better if we could be solvent prosperous free and reasonably equal is banal. Certainly we have tested gross redistribution via the tax system to destruction
Some of the coalition have been looking at aspects of Australia and Sweden, Swedish schools for example. Why do the left oppose anything that is not buying votes with other people’s money? Who do tyou think was going to suffer most from fiscal incontinence ?

“Bob you do tend to talk as if no-one had ever suggested a Planned Economy or that many of them were not members of the Labour Party, or that Marxism and derived analysis did not grip this countries educational establishment until recently and …I could go on.”

In another thread, I’ve recently credited Harold Macmillan as PM with that great leap forward in promoting the corporatist economy by announcing in 1961 the creation of the National Economic Development Office and the National Economic Development Council. During the time of the Conservative government of the 1950s, the press tagged the government’s policy of fiscal demand management as Butskellism, an elision of the names Butler, the Conservative chancellor, and Gaitskell the Labour leader, previously shadow chancellor, to reflect the consensus about maintaining demand management to ensure a high and stable level of employment, as promised in the 1944 White Paper. Governments and opposition did not take Hayek seriously.

“This country paid for creeping socialism by borrowing which could be afforded as it was during a long hot boom. It is unreasonable for you to take a snap shot just prior to the down turn , the shape of borrowing and expenditure is only seen over a cycle and at the moment we are out spending Sweden.

C’mon. Denmark regularly tops the OECD annual charts for tax burden and general government spending as percentages of national GDP and France is usually ahead of Britain on both scores. All that stuff about “creeping socialism” in Britain is just guff.

In the FT, Bob Diamond, head of Barclays Bank, was reported as saying in a BBC Today interview on 4 November that the Banks must accept responsibility for what went wrong. In the interview – which I listened to – he repeatedly said that banks must work towards a situation where banks could be allowed to fail without taxpayer support and without causing systemic instability if they did fail:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/292c4e48-0658-11e1-8a16-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1cmIopk8y

I agree with his assessment.

As for planning, as I understand it the big (and valid) complaint directed at the ministry of defence is that it is incompetent at planning defence procurement. The troops sent out to Iraq for that invasion in March 2003 went out without protection for WMD, the supposed very reason why Britain was engaging in a war with Iraq. Another planning failure?

IME Marxism did not “grip” Britain’s educational establishment until recently. IME most teachers would have been hard pressed to explain what Marx was on about – his seminal tomes: Capital, are hardly easy reading and few, very few, can explain the fundamental transformation problem in the labour theory of value. Btw I’ve posted that Marx thought that he was on to something really significant when he realised that the interests of buyers and sellers conflict – buyers want to pay a low price while suppliers want to get the highest price they can. He thought the way to resolve this conflict of interests was for people to work as they wanted to and take what they reckoned they needed. I regard all that as just laughable.

@40. Paul Newman: “Bob you do tend to talk as if no-one had ever suggested a Planned Economy or that many of them were not members of the Labour Party, or that Marxism and derived analysis did not grip this countries educational establishment until recently…”

I am not Bob.

Thankfully many of us come from a country that rejects central control (so contrary in the AV vote?). Planned economy? In the last thirty years, was that mentioned in any party manifesto? Trots only — the Eurocommunists wrote New Labour years ago.

Charlieman: “Thankfully many of us come from a country that rejects central control ”

Even after devolution, government is highly centralised. The fundamental concept of Britain’s constitution is that Parliament is sovereign. We rightly complain about diversity of public services due to post code lotteries in healthcare and schooling. A strong central government was and is necessary to deal with the financial crisis and its aftermath as well as to introduce the essential reforms of the banking system and financial markets. Control over defence capability has ro be centralised.

44. Frances_coppola

Employment protection legislation is driven more by political ideology than anything else. Right-wing governments want to water down EPL: left-wing ones want to build it up. Neither has much economic justification for their stance, since in practice the minor adjustments to EPL that are so bitterly fought over make little difference. The major protections are not in dispute – such as the right of workers not to be abused or assaulted at work, to have a proper legal contract of employment, to be paid on time and in accordance with their employment contract (deductions from wages are unlawful), to be given appropriate notice of dismissal, to be compensated for redundancy. The prohibition on children working goes back to the Factories Acts, and SMFS is completely wrong (as usual) – there are still severe limits on the amount and type of work that children under 16 can do, and no-one in the UK is seriously suggesting that these restrictions should be lifted. Yes, that nutter Steve Hilton did suggest that maternity leave should be abolished, but so far no-one’s taken him seriously either.

The minimum wage has one very useful characteristic of which right-wingers should approve. Our society has a system of in-work benefits for people on low to middle incomes. These benefits act as a hidden subsidy to employers. The minimum wage acts as a brake on the natural tendency of employers, where a system of in-work benefits exist, to pay well below a living wage and expect the state to top up their workers’ wages. I don’t accept the free-marketeers argument that the minimum wage forces employers to pay above the “natural” wage level for the job. Where in-work benefits exist, there is no “natural” pay level, because employers will inevitably take expected benefits into account in setting pay levels and therefore will tend to pay below the amount the employee actually needs to live on – and the employee, equally, will accept lower pay in the expectation that it will be topped up by benefits. In other words there is rent-seeking on both sides. Therefore maintaining the minimum wage is essential to avoid employers setting ever-lower pay levels and the state’s benefits bill ballooning.

45. So Much For Subtlety

37. Bob B

Not so according to these researchers:

I do not deny that others disagree. However you ought to think a little bit about those figures:

“[Nick] Crafts has shown that in 1870 when Britain was world economic leader, its school enrolment ratio was only 0.168 compared with the European norm of 0.514 and ‘Britain persistently had a relatively low rate of accumulation of human capital’.”

This is a European norm that includes, say, Portugal? Spain? Italy? Really? Their 1850 figures were so much higher?

If Britain had such a low rate of accumulation of human capital, meaning education, why is it that so much of the modern world was invented in Britain? Britain and Germany more or less exhaust scientific discovery from 1850 to the rise of America. And yet someone is seriously claiming Britain was doing badly?

SMFS – evidently you are unable to resist displaying your profound ignorance once more.

Bob misses the point – an opinion is an opinion. Not a fact.

It is also a pity that you failed to address the University issue.

46. Trooper Thompson

@ Frances Coppola,

What free-marketeers are these? Ones that have never heard of the Working Family Tax Credit, I suppose. Those who have will naturally apply the same logic to the latter as to any other intervention by the state. “Business” may indeed rejoice in the hidden subsidy it provides them, but it all comes out of the same pot, from a government that can’t tax as much as it spends and runs up debts it can never pay, .

@ Bob B

.”Arguments about the methodology of economics are deeply boring and generally fruitless. IME it’s much better to get stuck into debates about the analysis of real policy issues than to go on about whether or not economics is a “value free” science.”

The reason I brought up the point that economic theory is, or should be, value free was to defend it from being denounced as a crude mask worn by misanthropic rentiers seeking to drive the poor and the weak into the gutter..

“All the stuff about the supposed benefits of “free market capitalism” is bunk. The real political issues are about how to regulate market economies so as to improve their economic performance ”

Those free traders are crazy, huh? Look at the state of the economy. It’s a mess, and it;’s not due to a lack of meddling by government actions, rather this meddling and messing around is very close to the cause of problems. The reason you don’t like discussing theory is because the theory shows that economic performance will not be improved by the regulations you cherish.

47. So Much For Subtlety

44. Frances_coppola

Employment protection legislation is driven more by political ideology than anything else. Right-wing governments want to water down EPL: left-wing ones want to build it up. Neither has much economic justification for their stance, since in practice the minor adjustments to EPL that are so bitterly fought over make little difference.

Really? Spain has what? 40% unemployment among young people. You think that has nothing to do with their EPL at all? I am intrigued.

The prohibition on children working goes back to the Factories Acts, and SMFS is completely wrong (as usual) – there are still severe limits on the amount and type of work that children under 16 can do, and no-one in the UK is seriously suggesting that these restrictions should be lifted.

I am sorry Francis, you may be suffering from some imagined slight that makes you see a chance to put the boot in, but precisely where have you shown I was wrong? Where have you even said anything even remotely related to what I said? Don’t suffer from Bob’s disease. I have not even hinted that there are no limits on what children can do. Although I did, I suppose, suggest those be lifted.

The minimum wage has one very useful characteristic of which right-wingers should approve. Our society has a system of in-work benefits for people on low to middle incomes. These benefits act as a hidden subsidy to employers. The minimum wage acts as a brake on the natural tendency of employers, where a system of in-work benefits exist, to pay well below a living wage and expect the state to top up their workers’ wages.

Sorry but how is that useful? All the minimum wage does is keep people out of work. And on the dole. So we will be paying them anyway. So why not ask for them to work? This is a lose-lose situation – we pay for them to be idle and we get crime. In-work benefits is a lose-win situation – we pay for them to work and they acquire skills, work experience and start moving up the wage scale. We ought to have *only* in work benefits.

I don’t accept the free-marketeers argument that the minimum wage forces employers to pay above the “natural” wage level for the job.

Why not?

Where in-work benefits exist, there is no “natural” pay level, because employers will inevitably take expected benefits into account in setting pay levels and therefore will tend to pay below the amount the employee actually needs to live on – and the employee, equally, will accept lower pay in the expectation that it will be topped up by benefits. In other words there is rent-seeking on both sides. Therefore maintaining the minimum wage is essential to avoid employers setting ever-lower pay levels and the state’s benefits bill ballooning.

I agree with that entirely. So everyone moves off the dole and into work. The economy grows. Demand for labour grows. Pretty soon employers have to pay more than the minimum because of a lack of available workers. A few years down the track the problem has vanished. How is this a bad thing?

Especially given we will be paying anyway. At least we get something useful done and they are mostly likely to be too tired after work to steal our DVD players or blow up the Tube.

Bob – Guff eh? Thats a bit un-Bob – like. I don`t see why making comparisons with Denmark is any more relevant than with the Soviet Union…Come on ( you might have said ) compared to old East Germany this is a Libertarian heaven. Compared to this we are this, compared to that we are that, compared to our own past we have creeping socialism which, in the words of Polly Toynbee,was achieved by stealth without ever winning the argument.
What do we make of the fact that if spending had remained at “adjusted” 97 levels we could stop paying income tax? Spending went up 55% between 97/ to 2007. Tax revenue went up from £293bn. to £529bn. At the same time earnings went up only 29% in the private sector(35% in the Public Sector )
By “International Comparison” of tax and spending, we look a lot like Australia .In fact people are leaving to go there from here precisely because for the middling skilled worker it offers far more retained income, after housing costs. Australia is not especially right wing, its different.

Incidentally , you are aware of the historical echoes of this hatred for International money ? I only wonder, no-one else seems to be, its always the money lenders fault, always has been.

49. Frances_coppola

SMFS

“Children do work, in their spare time and on the weekends.”

Under-13s legally cannot be employed at all. 13-16 year olds have severe limits on the hours they can do and the types of work they can do. This is why.

The Factories Act eliminated the employment of children as young as 4 or 5 at starvation wages (they were paid much less than adults) to do dangerous jobs such as cleaning under the mill looms while they were in operation – a job which frequently caused serious injuries, loss of fingers and worse. Do you want to see that situation return? Perhaps you would also like parents to have the right to withdraw children from school so they can send them out to work to supplement the family income? Because that’s what poor parents did, before child employment was prohibited and schooling made compulsory. And employers liked employing children because they could pay them less than adults, could abuse them (the records of child cruelty are considerable) and could get them to do jobs that adults couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

No way should we be eliminating the protection of children from exploitation. Child labour laws are restrictive and need to remain so. Perhaps you believe that no modern employer would treat children like that, and no parent would deny their child essential education. I am not so confident. We really aren’t any more civilised than the people of the 18th Century.

50. Frances_coppola

Trooper Thompson

If you read SMFS’s response to my comment you will see a classic example of someone who thinks the minimum wage is a bad thing, in-work benefits are a good thing and the expansion of the government’s benefits bill because of the incentive to employers to pay low wages is irrelevant. He thinks there is potentially infinite employment and the only limitation is wage levels, so driving wages down by removing the minimum wage while maintaining in-work benefits and eliminating out-of-work benefits will force people into work who (in his view) currently are choosing not to. The fallacy in this is, of course, the “infinite employment” myth. Enabling employers to reduce wages won’t necessarily encourage them to employ any more people. It may simply give them more profits – which they can put in the bank, or distribute to their shareholders, instead of investing in the business. At the moment businesses are sitting on huge amounts of cash that they are not investing, and we have 8% unemployment and rising. I really don’t think the minimum wage has much to do with this. I’d blame the awful economic prospects for 2012 and the imminent breakup of the Eurozone, personally.

@48

If “creeping socialism” is what really worries you, presumably you opposed Ted Heath’s Conservative government from nationalising Rolls Royce in 1971 to save the company from collapse – much better to have let the company go bankrupt. As for Alistair Darling getting Parliament to nationalise North Rock and bail out RBS and HBOS, those banks should have been allowed to go to the wall even if that meant the systemic collapse of the banking system and the impoverishment or ruin of the depositors in those banks. What a brave new world that would have been.

In Thursday’s FT, there’s a piece by Jesse Norman MP which (which sensibly IMO) complains that the banks were allowed to ramp up their borrowing from 20 times their capital to 50 times in just 7 years. There was too little regulation of the banks, not too much.

Frankly, those great sweeping abstractions like “creeping socialism”, “more free market capitalism”, “down with economic planning” are just tosh for pea-brained political illiterates. The important issues are about what kind of regulations we need to have to improve economic performance – and btw I don’t think Marxism has anything useful to contribute to analysing what went wrong with the banks or the housing market etc.

52. So Much For Subtlety

49. Frances_coppola

Under-13s legally cannot be employed at all. 13-16 year olds have severe limits on the hours they can do and the types of work they can do. This is why.

That is interesting. Irrelevant but interesting. You have taken a tiny comment of mine and blown it up by projecting what you want me to say on what I said. It is irrelevant because I have not disputed any of these facts. I barely mentioned children working except to point out that children do, in fact, sometimes work.

No way should we be eliminating the protection of children from exploitation. Child labour laws are restrictive and need to remain so. Perhaps you believe that no modern employer would treat children like that, and no parent would deny their child essential education. I am not so confident. We really aren’t any more civilised than the people of the 18th Century.

It is still irrelevant because I have no suggested anything to the contrary, but if we are not more civilised – and of course we are – ask yourself when bear baiting or some other form of animal torture was abolished – we are richer. That is what makes all the difference. Although perhaps any parent who is so indifferent to their children they would send them out to work is doing the child a favour by reducing his influence on said child.

The last people to be hung drawn and quartered were so in 1821.

50. Frances_coppola

If you read SMFS’s response to my comment you will see a classic example of someone who thinks the minimum wage is a bad thing, in-work benefits are a good thing and the expansion of the government’s benefits bill because of the incentive to employers to pay low wages is irrelevant.

Sorry but you think there would be an expansion of the government’s benefit bill. Why? What possible reason do you have to think that? As TW has pointed out, America and Europe have the same amount of short-term unemployment at about 4%, but America does not pay the long-term unemployed and so does not have the extra long-term unemployed. If they were in work, they would be in work.

He thinks there is potentially infinite employment and the only limitation is wage levels

This is not an opinion, it is a fact. Well the last bit isn’t, but it is likely.

so driving wages down by removing the minimum wage while maintaining in-work benefits and eliminating out-of-work benefits will force people into work who (in his view) currently are choosing not to. The fallacy in this is, of course, the “infinite employment” myth. Enabling employers to reduce wages won’t necessarily encourage them to employ any more people. It may simply give them more profits – which they can put in the bank, or distribute to their shareholders, instead of investing in the business.

Profits which will be saved and invested in other businesses who will in turn employ more people. The idea of infinite employment is not a myth. Although can we assume you opposed all immigration as each immigrant takes one job from the limited pool of jobs and so throws a Brit out of work?

At the moment businesses are sitting on huge amounts of cash that they are not investing, and we have 8% unemployment and rising. I really don’t think the minimum wage has much to do with this. I’d blame the awful economic prospects for 2012 and the imminent breakup of the Eurozone, personally.

That may be true, but it is at worst a short term temporary state of affairs. The benefits bill would be rising now. But when economic growth returned, the bill would start to drop. We should be able to grow at 3% a year without too much trouble. Once we do so, in a few years everyone will be paid more than the minimum paid by in-work benefits and the benefits bill will disappear.

53. Frances_coppola

SMFS,

Well, if you make a statement that is factually incorrect you can expect to have it demolished. Which is what I did. If you don’t like that, don’t make factually incorrect statements.

Abolishing animal torture doesn’t stop it happening, as the RSPCA could tell you – read their reports about dog fighting, for example. Similarly, abolishing child cruelty doesn’t stop it happening. We are not “intrinsically” more civilised than our forebears. We still have to police these things to enforce the legislation – and now and then we fail, as the Baby P story that you cited elsewhere shows. Your solution would seem to be to eliminate the legislation on the spurious grounds that people will behave better now. The evidence is against you.

Hanging, drawing and quartering – you are comparing apples and oranges. It was not something forbidden by law that went on anyway. Nor was it an unregulated activity. It was a punishment IMPOSED by the law. I’m certainly not disputing that our laws are more humane than they were in past centuries. But the behaviour of a minority of our society is not, and the rest of us – particularly the vulnerable – need protection from their behaviour.

54. Frances_coppola

SMFS

Oh dear. More problems with facts and logic.

1) American unemployment is currently at 8.6% (November 2011).

2) Excluding a group of people from benefits means they don’t exist, does it? No it doesn’t. It just means you aren’t paying them. America also chooses not to collect data on long-term unemployed. That also doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means the US government likes to massage the unemployment figures. As does our Government.

3) Infinite employment is a myth, not a fact. Facts can be proved. You cannot prove that employment is infinite. You cannot even prove that removing the minimum wage and watering down EPL would increase employment at all, let alone infinitely. You could produce some lovely mathematical models to demonstrate that it MIGHT happen, cet. par. But econometric models are only as good as the data that goes into them. If the data is wrong, or incomplete, or the assumptions you make are wrong, the model will give the wrong result.

You do not know all the reasons for our current unemployment – any more than I do – and therefore you cannot “know” what to do about it. You are making assumptions based upon your ideological belief system and stating them as facts. Beliefs are fine, but please don’t state them as facts. They aren’t.

Oh, and no you can’t assume that I would stop all immigration. I don’t subscribe to the “lump of labour” fallacy. Labour is not uniform. Among other things immigrant labour helps to meet skills shortages.

4) You ask why the benefits bill would increase if the minimum wage were abolished. I ask you why it wouldn’t, if both employers and employees act rationally? And further, why would it necessarily decrease as business became more profitable? There is little or no incentive to employers to raise wages or employees to ask for increases if the increase virtually disappears because of benefit withdrawal. One way of eliminating this problem would be to make all in-work benefits universal. If this were the case then wage levels would indeed have no effect on the total benefits bill, but it would be much larger than it is today. The other way would be to eliminate in-work benefits, of course, which would force employers actually to pay wages that employees can live on.

5) Profits definitely can be sat on instead of being invested in businesses – as current corporate cash balance figures show. So you blithely assume that businesses’ current tendency to hoard is a short-term problem. You may be right. But it is how people and businesses CURRENTLY behave that we have to deal with, not how they might behave if things were different. How are you going to stop them hoarding and invest those funds for future employment, if the reason they are hoarding is uncertainty about the future? They are, after all, acting rationally in sitting on the money and waiting for better times to return.

6) There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that we can return to, and sustain, growth of 3% per annum. There is a lot of wishful thinking, not least by the OBR. I don’t believe it, and neither do many other people. We only sustained growth during the 2000’s by ramping up private and to some extent public debt. We haven’t sustained growth like that without indebtedness for a long time.

Getting ever shriller aren`t we Bob, it really is most unlike you, I am happy to take your facts and arguments seriously but your abuse is amateur stuff and I would drop it, honestly.
Anyway speaking (sigh…) as a pea brain, you have already pointed out ( with unnnecesarry exposition ) all the post war governments occupied a left centre position known as Butskellism and the peculiar loathing for Edward Heath rests on his special attachment to that style of Conservatism and his betrayal over Europe. So not a good example .
No idea why or how on Rolls Royce. If no-one else thought it was worth buying ( as you infer) then presumably it was in effect subsidised by tax payers and thereby was held aloft by sucking resources from healthy Companies and private individuals
Perhaps there are times when this is good thing but a large dollop of scepticism when Governments , who know nothing about anything , suggest spending our money on dead ducks is entirely warranted.

There has been endless regulation of bank and New Labour proved that they knew nothing like enough about it when they designed the FSA which so conspicuously failed to notice the dumb model Northern ( Miners friend) Rock was trading with that could not have withstood any perturbation let alone a global freeze.

I agree with you that vastly too much credit was let lose via the Banks and the US and UK governments bear the responsibility for ditching the Money supply as an objective and allowing a speculative property bubble to grow. In this crazy hubristic act of suicide they were, of course supported by the Economics establishment from whom you now wish to take your medicine like child , whilst every government in the world ignores them, thank god.

I do not hold the Banks primarily to blame for all this. Capitalism is never smooth , nor does it ” do” anything in the sense the conspiracy theorists of this site believe. There are, as you say, ample resources in Conservatsim for intervention ( You might have mentioned their out building Labour on Council houses , an oft quoted example )

The ups ans downs of markets were only felt to have ended by Gordon Brown , another technocrat you no doubt admire, they are the see on which the government paddles its canoe. I do not blame the sea , I blame the Labour government for setting sale in canoe with a hole in it, no compass and blind idiot in charge of getting us safely home.

I have never quite worked out where you are coming from. Sound a bit German at the moment . Are you?

“Over the cycle as a whole, the effect is neutral, but EPL tends to promote greater overall stability, with smaller employment swings from boom to bust.”

Your link to the OECD measure of EPL completely disproves this point. Some of the countries with the highest level of EPL are Greece (with unemployment of almost 20%) and Spain (with unemployment of OVER 20%). Moreover it is not simply due to the Eurozone crisis, it is long-term. France also has one of the highest level of EPL. It’s unemployment rate hasn’t been below 7% in over 30 years (the sort of unemployment we only have after a recession).

57. So Much For Subtlety

53. Frances_coppola

Well, if you make a statement that is factually incorrect you can expect to have it demolished. Which is what I did. If you don’t like that, don’t make factually incorrect statements.

I have not made a factually incorrect comment. You have not been able to point out any such comment. You are simply asserting that I said things I did not. I am not quite sure what you think this is going to get you.

Abolishing animal torture doesn’t stop it happening, as the RSPCA could tell you – read their reports about dog fighting, for example.

Sure but the fact that it is not common or legal sort of suggests we are a little bit more civilised than we were in the 18th century, no?

Similarly, abolishing child cruelty doesn’t stop it happening. We are not “intrinsically” more civilised than our forebears.

Come on Francis, adding that “intrinsically” changes the whole meaning of what you claimed. I am not disputing that. Stop changing your claims as you go.

We still have to police these things to enforce the legislation – and now and then we fail, as the Baby P story that you cited elsewhere shows. Your solution would seem to be to eliminate the legislation on the spurious grounds that people will behave better now. The evidence is against you.

How exactly you get from Baby P to my comment about child labour escapes me. Well no it doesn’t. You’re getting desperate. We do need to enforce Child Cruelty laws. Which are a separate set of laws from Child Labour laws. So far you have not been able to point to a single objectionable thing I said. You just keep making stuff up. Why?

Hanging, drawing and quartering – you are comparing apples and oranges.

Civilisation? Hanging, drawing and quartering have nothing to do with civilisation? Do tell Francis. Can you explain that?

It was not something forbidden by law that went on anyway.

Which makes it even worse doesn’t it?

I’m certainly not disputing that our laws are more humane than they were in past centuries. But the behaviour of a minority of our society is not, and the rest of us – particularly the vulnerable – need protection from their behaviour.

Minority? They weren’t a minority back then in all likelihood. But you keep on changing what you said. Since when did you use that minority qualification?

Come on Francis, you’re wasting my time. You screwed up by jumping in before you bothered to find out what was being discussed, under a false assumption about what I did say, and your pride forbids you to admit a mistake. Just walk away. It is really your only option.

Frances_coppola

1) American unemployment is currently at 8.6% (November 2011).

Really? As low as that?

2) Excluding a group of people from benefits means they don’t exist, does it? No it doesn’t. It just means you aren’t paying them. America also chooses not to collect data on long-term unemployed. That also doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means the US government likes to massage the unemployment figures. As does our Government.

It means they get jobs. That’s what it means. Of course they collect all the data in the world. The US has much less chance to massage figures, but to claim the lack of long term unemployment is due to massaged figures, which you’re not quite brave enough to do, is absurd.

3) Infinite employment is a myth, not a fact. Facts can be proved. You cannot prove that employment is infinite. You cannot even prove that removing the minimum wage and watering down EPL would increase employment at all, let alone infinitely.

I probably could prove both. If only they let me abolish EPL and benefits. It is not a myth. We have a larger population. We have more jobs. We let in some 3 million immigrants in the Blair years. They all got jobs. The economy expanded. We would have to considerably re-think reality if it was not true.

You do not know all the reasons for our current unemployment – any more than I do – and therefore you cannot “know” what to do about it. You are making assumptions based upon your ideological belief system and stating them as facts. Beliefs are fine, but please don’t state them as facts. They aren’t.

We can compare with other countries and we can see what effect changes in policy have. We can be sure that if there were no benefits or EPL we would have full employment in weeks.

Oh, and no you can’t assume that I would stop all immigration. I don’t subscribe to the “lump of labour” fallacy. Labour is not uniform. Among other things immigrant labour helps to meet skills shortages.

I don’t assume any such thing. I notice you dodging the subject once more. Those Romanian fruit pickers were not skilled were they? Irish construction workers are not skilled. Nor are African cleaners.

4) You ask why the benefits bill would increase if the minimum wage were abolished.

And you did not answer.

I ask you why it wouldn’t, if both employers and employees act rationally? And further, why would it necessarily decrease as business became more profitable?

Because as they become profitable some of them will take on more workers. Which will push up wages and hence move people out of in-work benefits.

There is little or no incentive to employers to raise wages or employees to ask for increases if the increase virtually disappears because of benefit withdrawal.

If you design benefits badly you may be true. But if they want to expand, they will have to employ more people.

One way of eliminating this problem would be to make all in-work benefits universal. If this were the case then wage levels would indeed have no effect on the total benefits bill, but it would be much larger than it is today.

Milton Freidman said everyone should be sent a wad of cash and everyone taxed on their first dollar earnt. That would act as a minimum wage and would be somewhat revenue neutral. Not much harder to collect either. Not sure that over all it needs to be higher than today.

5) Profits definitely can be sat on instead of being invested in businesses

Or they could be turned into a big pile of cash and set on fire too. Be sensible.

6) There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that we can return to, and sustain, growth of 3% per annum.

Why not? Leaving the EU would provide about that much in the first year. God knows what a radical reform of benefits would do.

58. Leon Wolfeson

@3 – No, “it’s your fault for being poor”, your guiding principle, is a statement of faith. Something which is agreed across a very wide range of economists is far stronger. As usual, you’re just rejecting any reality which makes it harder for you to hurt people.

And of course, yes, you want people to pay for secondary education. We know.

@5 – Ah yes, abolishing rent control. No, it’s lead to the situation where living in this country as a poor person illegal. When you can’t afford shelter, you’re breaking the law. But only a job which you’ll never get in a decade can let you afford shelter.

We need rent control back, with harsh penalties.

59. Frances_coppola

SMFS

I have noted that the longer your replies to me, both here and elsewhere, the less logical they are and the fewer actual facts they contain. And your dismal understanding of basic economics becomes ever more apparent. Stop clutching at straws. You haven’t come up with a single convincing argument. Haven’t you noticed that no-one actually agrees with you?

60. Leon Wolfeson

@59 – He’s here to disrupt the conversation. It works. Sunny’s a wimp and allows him here for some reason. (Heck, I’d probably be politer in general if he wasn’t posting drivel and annoying me, but he’s given up trying to reply to me since I kept on dissecting his answers).

@55 – Of course you can’t blame the banks, it would require you consider the issue objectively. Oh, they’re only partly to blame, but to blame they are. The moment to punish individuals is gone, but structurally change is needed.

61. Frances_coppola

SMFS

Here are some facts for you. Sorry they don’t support your beliefs.

1) US long-term unemployment (27 weeks and over) is 5.7 million (43% of total unemployed). Figures from BIS http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

2) You asked if you could assume that I would stop all immigration. Here is the quotation from your comment in 52: “Although can we assume you opposed all immigration as each immigrant takes one job from the limited pool of jobs and so throws a Brit out of work?” I have answered your question. No, you can’t make that assumption. And in my answer, I did not suggest that all immigrants were skilled labour. I said “AMONG OTHER THINGS, immigrant labour helps to meet skills shortages”. That is factually correct, but qualified – skills shortages are not the only reason employers might use immigrant labour. I could give you chapter and verse on other reasons, but a) it would be very long and very boring b) you aren’t going to listen anyway so I’d be wasting my time.

3) Top 20 US firms had $635bn in cash balances in June 2010. That is money being SAT ON – not invested. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/07/corporate-cash-top-20-firms-635-billion/ . This is only one of many reports on cash hoarding, for both US and Europe (including the UK). Both the BoE and the Fed have reported historically high corporate cash balances despite the very low interest rates. So we have profits NOT being reinvested and high unemployment.

Now, turning to this little matter of child labour. I did read what you originally wrote, actually. Here are the relevant quotations:

Robert Anderson: “Employment legislation helps to maintain standards and in a civilised society everyone should have a right to be treated fairly at work. Those primitives on the right will have none of it though in their quest for unfettered “freedom” In the USA these same primitives are calling for laws specifically designed to outlaw child labour to be repealed so that child can be “free” to work.”

Your response: “We have already repealed a lot of those Victorian laws so that women could work. Children do work, in their spare time and on the weekends. So why not?”

I don’t know whether you actually know what has been suggested in the US, so here’s a link for your information. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10767946.

I have never disputed that older children work in their spare time. However, it is factually incorrect to state that “children do work”, and it is that inaccuracy that I was addressing. The majority of UK children don’t do paid work. UK under-13s cannot legally be employed at all and over-13s have serious restrictions on the hours and nature of work they can do. Those restrictions were put in place in the UK Factories Acts to protect children from being employed in dangerous jobs that could not easily be done by adults. Your response to Anderson’s comments suggests that you think employment legislation preventing employment of children should be repealed. You seem to think exploitation of the kind the Factories Acts were designed to prevent is now a thing of the past. That is your belief – not a fact. I don’t share your confidence.

Gingrich’s suggestions far exceed what children in the US (or UK) are currently allowed to do by law. I work with children aged 11-16, and believe me I don’t want to see them having to take on 20 hours’ paid work a week in addition to their school work. They have quite enough on their plates already.

I gave examples of laws that are designed to protect against the behaviour of a minority. Funnily enough, you don’t have a monopoly on giving examples. No, you didn’t mention dog fighting, or Baby P (on this thread, though you have mentioned it elsewhere). I introduced them as examples to support my point that legally abolishing something doesn’t stop it happening, which in turn supports my earlier point that it is not safe to repeal protective legislation on the assumption that people are too civilised to behave like that any more.

And about your logic failure…..

You argue that the solution to employers beating up employees to force them to accept unlawful dismissal is to abolish employment protection so that they won’t need to beat them up because dismissal would be lawful. So your solution to an employer committing two criminal offences is to make one of those criminal offences lawful so that the other isn’t necessary? Extraordinary. I suppose you also think that making it lawful for landlords to evict tenants without notice would solve the problem of unscrupulous landlords using heavies with baseball bats to force people out of their homes?

Then there is the little matter of you objecting to my comment that a minority of people behave in an anti-social manner. I don’t think I ever suggested that it was a majority….but since you don’t like me qualifying my remarks, I think I can reasonably complain about your use of the word “sometimes” about children working. That wasn’t what you said originally – you added that later. Pot, kettle.

And finally. Since I use my real name to comment on this site and in other places, I expect people to spell it correctly. You don’t, so either you can’t read, or you think I don’t know how to spell my own name, or you simply can’t be bothered. Whatever the reason, it’s not ok to keep using a mis-spelling of my name when the correct spelling is on every comment I make. Get it right, or don’t comment.


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