The ignorance of the British public is a failure of the media


2:16 pm - July 11th 2013

by Robert Sharp    


      Share on Tumblr

Over at the Spectator, Alex Massie analyses an Ipsos-Mori poll on some of the beliefs the British people hold about our country and the way the Government operates.

To pick just one statistic:

Then there’s this doozy: 29% of respondents think the government spends more on unemployment benefits – the Job Seekers’ Allowance – than on pensions. In fact, pensions cost 15 times as much (rightly so!).

Apparently the British public is similarly misinformed about the propoertion of Muslims in the country, the number of immigrants, the budget of the Department for International Development, the rate of teenaged pregancies, and the crime rate.

Massie shies away from calling the British people stupid, though the headline to his post ‘Abandon All Hope’ suggests this is what he thinks. And clearly this poll shows that we are, indeed, a highly ignorant bunch.

But I think it would be wrong for we the public to take the blame. To my mind, this poll shows that we are being failed by our media. Their primary purpose is surely to keep us informed about what is going on in our democracy, and clearly they are not doing that job effectively. That’s not something that Alex Massie cares to consider in his article.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I think the media can be rightly criticised for its coverage of a very wide variety of topics, but I also think that there is an element of truth to the notion that we get the media we deserve. People should take some responsibility for applying critical filters (like checking the orders of magnitude on Daily Mail figures) to the news they are fed, particularly when many quoted figures are publicly available and therefore easily verified or refuted.

Failure? Er, this is a success of the Right’s grip on the media. The ‘media’ have been hammering these lies for decades now and have been completely unchallenged.

The ‘failure’ has been with the decent people who have allowed these vile statements to go unchallenged.

3. the a&e charge nurse

Manufacturing consent
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LVsiP0s33A

More importantly how did the public fare on the question about political parties being reduced to 2 cheeks of the same arse?

4. Paul peter Smith

Anyone educated at state school will have been extremely lucky to have encountered the concept of critical thinking, by design of both right and left. Whichever side of the fence they get their news from, the same mis-information and propaganda is on show, just spun in a different way. Whoever we vote for only the excuses occasionally change, rarely the direction of the ship. So while I generally agree with the sentiment that people get the government/media they deserve can you really be sure they’re ignorant or just not interested anymore?

Massie shies away from calling the British people stupid, though the headline to his post ‘Abandon All Hope’ suggests this is what he thinks. And clearly this poll shows that we are, indeed, a highly ignorant bunch.

Stupid is different from ignorant, a 21 year old studying postgraduate quantum physics should probably not be expected to be well abreast in the latest developments in immigration figures, what with them being a bit busy with studying quantum physics. This is not stupidity, this is limited time in which to live your life.
This is, of course as Jim rightly points out, easily taken advantage of by the media, who know full well that the people are divided roughly into two groups – people with money but no time, and people with time but no money – and both states of being pretty much rule out parsing absolutely every piece of tripe that the news media serves up. Especially when the rest of the media can also distract them with Big Brother, Game of Thrones and Skyrim.
Fact check the Daily Mail, or watch House on the telly. I know which I’d rather spend time doing.

On austerity economics, I’ve had educated grown adults seriously quote Dickens’s Mr Micawber to me as the way to go having never heard – let alone understood – the Paradox of Thrift. Who is to blame for that?

Try this from John Kay in the FT, which goes some way towards explaining how so few saw the financial crisis coming:

“The macroeconomics taught in advanced economics today is largely based on analysis labelled dynamic stochastic general equilibrium. The unappealing title gives the game away: the theorists are mostly talking to themselves. Their theories proved virtually useless in anticipating the crisis, analysing its development and recommending measures to deal with it.

“Recent economic policy debates have not only largely ignored DSGE, but have also been remarkably similar to the economic policy debates of the 1930s, although they have been resolved differently. The economists quoted most often are John Maynard Keynes and Hyman Minsky, both of whom are dead.”

Some policy issues, such as the conditions needed to sustain a monetary union, are inherently challenging to understand, which is why clusters of politicians and public policy gurus seriously believed that the European monetary union was an idea whose time had come. For an insight as to how they didn’t understand the economics, try this in last Saturday’s The Economist:

A trio of trilemmas: The gold standard holds worrying lessons for the single currency
http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21580452-gold-standard-holds-worrying-lessons-single-currency-trio

7. Shatterface

I don’t see ‘public gullibility’ being invoked when the public support the views of LibCon.

7.
The poll was about facts.
Why are you posting about opinions?

More reason we need decent regulation of the press

10. Charlieman

@5. Cylux: “Stupid is different from ignorant, a 21 year old studying postgraduate quantum physics should probably not be expected to be well abreast in the latest developments in immigration figures, what with them being a bit busy with studying quantum physics. This is not stupidity, this is limited time in which to live your life.”

If you study a science or engineering degree, spending some time in student politics, you may find that your free time exploits have no value to employers. They may be valuable to you in an holistic way.

C’mon. With our fearless, investigative media ever active in the unending search for public interest issues, how come some banks are in course of paying out billions to their depositors in compensation for mis-selling Payment Protection Insurance?

When Warren Buffett warned in 2003 about the risks of the growing trade in derivatives what did the media do about that?

What did the media do about the failing regulation of the Financial Services Authority?

Well, we can all blame the Beeb for its manifold and manifest failings. After all, the BBC is responsible for more than two thirds of the news we take in.
http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/OfcomPITReport_NewsCorp-BSkyB_31DEC2010.pdf

“Their primary purpose is surely to keep us informed about what is going on in our democracy,”

It is? And there I thought the prime purpose of private companies was to make money for their shareholders.

And you think this is a failure of the media. If you were less naive you would realise how successful they have been.

12

“Well, we can all blame the Beeb for its manifold and manifest failings”

The BBC quoted Warren Buffett’s warning in 2003 about the potentially catastrophic risks to financial markets created by the growing trade in derivatives. The BBC is a news and public entertainment provider – it has no remit to regulate financial markets.

In March 2002, The Economist warned of a house-price bubble: “Over the 12 months to February average house prices in America rose by 9%, and those in Britain by 15%. Adjusting for inflation, this is the biggest real increase on record in America and the biggest in Britain since 1988.”
http://www.economist.com/node/1057057

And what did the government or the financial market regulators do about either of those threats to our security?

As for the economic consequences of Mr Osborne’s austerity policy, last Saturday’s The Economist assessed the results so far:

On a wing a credit card
http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21580478-britain-growing-againbut-perplexing-and-unsustainable-ways-wing-and-credit-card

18. john tollan

a poorly informed and poorly educated public is compliant and easily manipulated. This is no accident and some thing that has just happened by chance.

The public is reassured by calming and motivating speeches by government ministers, such as this by Danny Alexander, financial secretary to the Treasury, at the recent LibDem conference in June:

When we entered Government in May 2010, we inherited from Labour an economy that was on the brink. We set out a plan to get our economy on the road to recovery by dealing with the largest deficit of our peacetime history. Three years on and the deficit is down by a third, 1.3m private sector jobs have been created, and by keeping interest rates low we have helped businesses and homeowners across the country. Over those past three years it is the Liberal Democrats who have worked in Government to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society.
http://www.libdemvoice.org/danny-alexander-mp-writes-spending-where-it-matters-35087.html

As is well known, Michael Heseltine, who finally did for Mrs T in December 1990, passionately believed that Britain should sign up to join the Euro.

What is less well knowm is that Walter Eltis, Heseltine’s personal economic adviser when he was DTI minister in the early 1990s, had advised him that it was a bad idea for Britain to adopt the Euro – see Walter Eltis’s book: Britain, Europe and the EMU (Palgrave Macmillan 2000).

I mention all this to show that leading politicians often have limited comprehension capacities, especially when what they read in the media conflicts with political positions they have taken. When situations like that arise, their devoted fans have problems in knowing whom to believe. This confusion is not the fault of the media but, surely, the media does have some responsibility to correct popular misconceptions.

‘The class which has the means of material production at its disposal has control at the same time over the means of mental production’.
The German Ideology, Marx & Engels.

And News International didn’t exist in the 19th century.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
George Orwell in: 1984.

OTOH

“Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous, and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph.”
Same source.

Alex Massie may not say so but I dare.

Many people are either ignorant, stupid or both. Thirty per cent seems about right.

Raising the school leaving age to eighteen will make little difference.

This thirty per cent are over represented in Parliament.

Try the HoC Public Accounts Committee in 2009:

A cross-party group said as many as 17.8 million over-18s had poor literacy and 23.8m had numeracy skills below the level needed to get a good GCSE.

In a report, the Commons public accounts select committee said the country still had an “unacceptably high number of people who cannot read, write and count adequately” – despite some £5bn being spent on training between 2001 and 2007.

It means Britain is still lagging far behind other developed nations for standards in the basics, the study said.

According to the latest available figures, Britain was ranked 14th in a global skills league table.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4372738/Almost-24-million-adults-with-poor-numeracy-skills-say-MPs.html

But that doesn’t mean those with poor literacy skills should be misled and lied to. And compare the report in the FT in January: London schoolchildren perform the best: “London schools have improved so rapidly over the past 10 years that even children in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods can expect to do better than the average pupil living outside the capital.”

Recap: According to the last census in 2011, 37pc of London residents were born abroad.

24. the a&e charge nurse

[8] ‘The poll was about facts – Why are you posting about opinions?’
because the facts themselves are of little interest once divorced from the drivers that lead to such perceptions, as well as the implied assumptions that go hand in hand with them.

For example, over-estimating expenditure on unemployment benefit in relation to outlay on pensions is simply another way of illustrating how people are buying into the scroungers narrative.

Similar sentiments surfaced when politicos did not know the cost of milk – the cost of milk itself (the ‘fact’ if you like) was irrelevant.
The implied message was that politicos are out of touch with problems that preoccupy large swathes of the population, in this case trying to budget sometimes with very limit means.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17826509

Nick Clegg got in trouble for not knowing the basic state pension a couple of years ago.
Anyway what is the point of such polls – our patricians already know the answers so are unlikely to be troubled by the herd, unless politically expedient.

There is no escaping “the fact” that Britain has needed a better educated electorate for a very long time.

When Mrs T became PM in 1979, the Conservatives and Labour had spent almost equal times in government since WW2 and half Britain’s adult population had no educational qualifications at all. By the mid 1990s, that had shrunk to a quarter but the observations of the HoC Public Accounts Committee in 2009 about the extent of poor to failing adult literacy – as quoted @19 – suggest that any complacency is entirely premature.

Btw regarding the class which has the means of material production at its disposal hardly accounts for the continuing criticism in the FT, Britain’s premier business broadsheet, of Britain’s banking system and Mr Osborne’s austerity policy. Alan Greenspan, the previous chairman of the Governors of the US Fedral Reserve Bank, reminded us in 2008 that bankers have been ripping off their shareholders.

24.
In my comment 8 I was responding to comment 7.

25

Having the means of production at their disposal, the FT does no harm to the over-riding ideological message of capitalism by blaming individuals for the current ills. And including a chancellor, who is actually ‘acting’ against the good of capitalism with his particular policies, sends the message that it is not the system but those who seek to mismanage it.

27

“Having the means of production at their disposal, the FT does no harm to the over-riding ideological message of capitalism by blaming individuals for the current ills.”

But the FT has been saying that Britain’s banking system is deeply flawed and remains a danger to Britain’s economy – hence, Chris Giles, the economics editor, on Britain’s banks are still a danger to the economy

Also, Martin Wolf, the FT’s leading economics commentator, on: Reform of British banking needs to go further

As for bankers ripping off their shareholders, we had this:

“The Financial Times has examined what has happened since the crisis to the payrolls of 13 glocal financial institutions – expressed as a proportion of pay plus net profits (including those distributed as dividends). This approach allows you to see how the ‘cake’ has been shared out between employees and shareholders.

“What the analysis shows is that the lion’s share has been taken home by the bankers in the form of pay and bonuses, rather than paid out to investors or left in the business to support lending activity. The part represented by payroll has on average gone up from 58 per cent in 2006 to 84 per cent last year. Meanwhile, the share accounted for by dividends has slumped by two-thirds – from 15 per cent to just 5 per cent. . . Banks’ return on assets – an unleveraged measure of performance – has barely changed in decades.” [Financial Times 5 June 2012]

28

The banking system is merely one facet of capitalism, note that the emphasis has been on ‘bankers,’ that’s a reference to individuals. The ‘deeply flawed’ argument is the pre-cursor to addressing individual action, which means state intervention to somehow temper the behaviour of individuals. We can then extrapolate that this will make the system work perfectly, or at least better than has been. This does not directly or indirectly infer that the system might be the problem, just that one more intervention will correct the problems. State interventions in industrial capitalism are as old as the system but it will be the next one that works.

29

“The banking system is merely one facet of capitalism, note that the emphasis has been on ‘bankers,’ that’s a reference to individuals.”

‘Bankers’ collectively have been ripping off their employers contrary to the hoary old theory of exploitation in which employers exploit employees. In this context, principal-agent theory is more relevant to reality than Marxism:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal%E2%80%93agent_problem

Unfortunately for us, a well functioning financial system is absolutely fundamental to a well functioning system of market capitalism. When the financial system becomes dysfunctional because of crises, market capitalism becomes prone to recessions. Try the entry for Minsky Crisis in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics:

“Minsky famously developed an ‘investment theory of the cycle and a financial theory of investment’. His thesis was that, over the course of the cycle, behaviour changes in such a way that financial fragility develops. This makes a financial crisis more likely. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, many commentators returned to the theories of Minsky, calling it a ‘Minsky crisis’ or a ‘Minsky moment’. This entry agrees that Minsky deserves credit for identifying the processes that led up to the crisis.”

30

Bankers may have collectively been ripping-off their employers, however, we are talking about the media and the over-riding ideological message of capitalism. I would, however, suggest that those bankers who ‘ripped-off’ their employers, were doing it with the implied consent of same employers. When it goes wrong, said employers can blame the employees, ‘those nasty, greedy, immoral bankers’, not the system which promoted the behaviour in the first instance.

31

“Bankers may have collectively been ripping-off their employers, however, we are talking about the media and the over-riding ideological message of capitalism. I would, however, suggest that those bankers who ‘ripped-off’ their employers, were doing it with the implied consent of same employers.”

Several sources, including, for example, Robert Peston in his book: “How Do We Fix This Mess”, say that the boards of several renown investment banks didn’t understand the growing trade in new derivatives, which eventually generated multi-million losses for the trading banks and became one of the factors leading to the financial crisis.

If that’s true, it is reasonable to assume much of the press, including many financial journalists didn’t either and were therefore not placed to warn readers of the looming perils ahead. The challenging question for them and us is why didn’t the journalists take heed of Warren Buffett’s timely warning back in 2003 and engage in a bit of investigative activity to dig out the truth about toxic derivatives like those: Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) under-pinned by subprime mortgages?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2817995.stm

Recall that in the the run up to the crisis, many ideologues were extolling the benefits of “Free Market Capitalism” and Conservatives were urging more and more deregulation upon the New Labour government. As I recall, subject to correction, Tony Blair even set up a working party to cut Red Tape.

The effective epitaph for Free Market Capitalism is Osborne’s Banking Reform Bill now before Parliament, which informed critics in the FT are saying isn’t enough. So much for Free Market Capitalism.

33. Churm Rincewind

“…clearly this poll shows that we are, indeed, a highly ignorant bunch”

It shows nothing of the sort. It shows that most people aren’t up to speed with some specific statistical information, as selected by YouGov. I would guess that most people aren’t up to speed with (say) the constituents of the top ten in November 1972, the birthdate of Charles Dickens, the timetable of trains between Norwich and Cromer, and so on. And it’s as unreasonable to blame the media for the public’s ignorance of Dickens’ exact birthday as it is to blame them for the fact that most people don’t have at their fingertips the details of the DFID’s current budget.

What this poll does show is that the UK public seems to exaggerate the evidence connected with various widely-held concerns. This should come as no surprise to anyone. It’s hoary old tale that fear of crime is only weakly related to the statistical probability of being a victim of crime. That doesn’t mean that fear of crime isn’t a legitimate concern, which can and should be taken seriously.

In my view, what this poll clearly shows is that the public is concerned about such issues as the number of immigrants, the rate of teenage pregnancies, the proportion of Muslims in this country, and so on.

These concerns may be misplaced, but here’s clear evidence that these concerns exist, and it’s not helpful to take a patrician and disdainful view of what most people think and believe simply by dismissing them all as ignorant and stupid.

34. Derek Hattons Tailor

I would question the extent to which widely held attitudes can be blamed on the media. Most of the popular media are small C conservative and mildly reactionary because most of the population are. This ignorance has more to do with the standard of general education than anything else. Most of the public don’t understand what the public sector does because no one has ever told them the connection between tax and services, hence they think the services they use are “free” and “their taxes” are paying for freeloaders, migrants etc. Even though for most of them “their taxes” don’t even cover their own costs. It is this absence of knowledge that creates a space the media might fill (although anti-migrant, anti-poor etc views predate modern media by centuries) with drip drip misinformation.
The bigger problem is that most people under 35 appear to me to have very little (unfashionable term comin up) general knowledge. I blame this on an education system that has made facts unfashionable and the memorising of anything as akin to psychological abuse. The result is a generation who are expert at assembling information but who don’t know anything which is not explainable in vague, abstract statements.

My guess is that press circulation figures tell us something about the news priorities of the general population:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_the_United_Kingdom_by_circulation

As best I can tell, interest in news of football and celebrities rates higher priority than current affairs news but I don’t think that exonerates the press for failing to take heed of the warnings about the house-price bubble and the growing trade in derivatives.

34

I would also question whether widely held attitudes can be blamed on the media, instead, the media generates the dominant ideologies of society, which have been learned via other institutions including schools.

I would suggest that an ability to critically analyse data, information, news reports ect is a much more useful skill than learning a list of facts. Lets face it, a large proportion of commenters on LC appear to have received a higher education and there are wildly different interpretations of the facts, that’s what generates debate.

37. Just Visiting

Steveb

> I would suggest that an ability to critically analyse data, information, news reports ect is a much more useful skill than learning a list of facts

Actually, modern cognitive science would disagree with you.

Critical thinking cannot be done without in general knowing in-depth the background facts. Not that rote learning is the way: but it is important to build your long-term-memory banks of knowledge.

It’s worth reading ‘why don’t Students like school’ by Willingham.

38. Derek Hattons Tailor

First you learn facts, then you learn to analyse them, then you learn to build arguments based upon that analysis. This is the basis of education. Progressives always put the cart before the horse and pretend that you can somehow miss out the first step and still be “educated”. You can’t. You cannot analyse something you do not understand. Memory is a function of understanding, hence an exam is not a memory test it is an understanding test.

39. Just Visiting

we shouldn’t be surprised that the media don’t do a great job of educating the public.

Their aim is to sell papers, so they re-use ‘tricks’ that are counter=productive to the way the brain learns.

Eg the ‘shock horror’ headline will trigger an instantaneous response and sell a few % more papers – but when the real facts in the article below undermine the very title – it also undermines the readers ability to learn/remember the important core issues at the heart of whatever the story was.

Talking of mis-leading titles – LC has been sliding down into such tricks of late and IMHO the level of debate has gone down too.

I don’t see so often the well informed, well debated input of folks like Chaise Guevara, Pagar and so on.

And even some of the links to other bloggers, seem to go to old or dead pages now (Paul Sagar – badconscience.com –

Hey guys – have you moved on to another forum now? Am I missing out ? :<)

37, 38

I did not suggest that knowing facts was unimportant only that critical analysis was more important than just learning a list of facts. Analysis and interpretation is not generated from the facts themselves and is influenced by other factors such as experience, which is subjective learning.

I would also challenge the notion that exams are not memory tests, otherwise, why would it be necessary to place a student in a position of being unable look-up references and answer questions in situations which in no way reflects reality.

40

“I did not suggest that knowing facts was unimportant only that critical analysis was more important than just learning a list of facts. Analysis and interpretation is not generated from the facts themselves and is influenced by other factors such as experience, which is subjective learning. ”

Exactly – which is how Galileo and Newton developed certain heretical theories about how the universe worked. Even the selection of which facts to pay attention to presupposes some prior theory about what is “significant” and what isn’t.

42. Charlieman

@40. steveb: “I would also challenge the notion that exams are not memory tests, otherwise, why would it be necessary to place a student in a position of being unable look-up references and answer questions in situations which in no way reflects reality.”

Exams are memory tests, and then they are not. Engineering students are not required to memorise steam tables (they are on the examination desk) or to remember every equation. Engineering and science students are expected to derive proofs on the basis of a bit of maths. The proof requires memory and comprehension; smart arses work stuff out that they have never seen before.

For GCSE history students, it is unimportant whether they know the precise dates of WW1; it matters that they understand the Great War preceded and contributed to a greater conflict.

Exams which solely test recollection of facts are pretty useless. Exams should assess analysis of recalled and given facts. Which is pretty much what examiners try to achieve.

Tim Worstall: “It is? And there I thought the prime purpose of private companies was to make money for their shareholders.”

Indeed it is, which is a large part of the problem.

I think it’s undeniably the case that a public who are massively misinformed (and encouraged to hate/blame each other for the various scams perpetrated on them by the ruling class) are much more profitable than a well-informed public.

44. Robin Levett

What’s quite interesting about the figures for immigration is that the mean perceived figure for immigrants in the respondents’ local area is significantly lower (q11) than that for the country as a whole; so all those immigrants are out there in someone else’s back yard. Yet when explaining why they had overestimated numbers, the highest proportion of those not in denial explained themselevs by saying they’d judged by their local area…(q13).

Almost every week, my local press reports sad cases of pensioners being swindled or robbed thereby losing money or valuables often amounting to thousands of pounds.

Also, telephones have been taken out of service for days at a time in order to replace cable lengths stolen for scrap value – this has happened to me and it is unnerving to suddenly find the telephone has been cut off.

Every so many weeks I’m wakened at night by the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead, sometimes for an hour or more: this is almost certainly a police helicopter attempting to spot a night robber at work.

I seriously doubt that any of this has been instigated by a ruling class conspiracy and am puzzled as to why London school children are outperforming the rest of the country if poor standards of schooling outside London are an attempt to render school leavers ripe for exploitation.

45

There is no conspiracy, those who own the media can quite openly state that private ownership, competition and accumulation of wealth is good and collectivism, unions and public ownership is bad. They can call the unemployed parasites, scroungers and freeloaders, and infer that immigrants are all health tourists, who and what is going to challenge them?

46

“There is no conspiracy, those who own the media can quite openly state that private ownership, competition and accumulation of wealth is good and collectivism, unions and public ownership is bad.”

The trouble with that claim is that FT writers have persistently criticised Osborne’s austerity policy and also said that Osborne’s Banking Reform Bill doesn’t go far enough. But I have to confess to being not up to speed on just why we should oppose “private ownership, competition and accumulation of wealth”.

The lead news report on the frontpage of Monday’s FT is about this: Vince Cable proposes tougher rules for directors – Vince Cable wants greater corporate transparency and responsibility

Fraudulent or negligent directors of UK companies may have to pay compensation to creditors under new proposals.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23314924

That would move fraudulent or negligent company directors from the ruling class to the criminal class and properly so.

The main troubles with theories about the “ruling class” is that the interests of its members diverge when companies compete and because employed bankers have been ripping off the shareholders of banks, which are often pension funds.

In the public sector, just who is ripping off whom?

“Hundreds of council chiefs paid more than Prime Minister

“The number of town hall officials paid more than the Prime Minister has increased by a quarter in the last three years, according to new figures.” [Telegraph 10 May 2013]

“More than 9,000 public sector employees are earning a higher wage than the prime minister, who has previously questioned pay levels in top jobs. New research conducted for BBC Panorama found that there were more than 38,000 public employees earning above £100,000 and 1,000 people on more than £200,000.” [BBC website 20 September 2010]

News update from today’s The Guardian:

Regulator’s statistics on €1m-plus earners show many banks are paying too much given meagre returns to shareholders
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2013/jul/15/uk-bankers-pay-bonuses-shareholders

49. Derek Hattons Tailor

@ 47 The argument goes something like this:

The free marketeers “The public sector should operate more like the efficient private sector”

The public sector “Ok, in the private sector bosses pay is determined by the market for talent and you have to pay top dollar to attract and keep the best people, therefore we should also pay top dollar”

The free marketeers “Er….”

Most bankers would be insulted to be paid the same as the prime minister, never understood why it is seen as a benchmark. The fact is the public sector went downhill when it started trying to be like the private sector.

47

I am unclear how the FT’s criticism of Osborne’s austerity policies has anything to do with the privately owned media transmitting positive messages about capitalism. I would suggest that blaming Osborne for the failure of capitalism to deliver an efficient economic outcome does nothing to harm capitalism.

The ‘criminal class’ is an open system which is accessible to all, the unemployed, the Lord of the manor and the local bank manager, unlike the ‘ruling class’ which is an elitist club. Strangely enough, the criminal class also has its critics from all classes.

Criticizing pubic sector pay does capitalism no harm either – look at what happens when socialism is introduced, but, you and I both know that a public sector in a capitalist economy is not socialism.

50

“I am unclear how the FT’s criticism of Osborne’s austerity policies has anything to do with the privately owned media transmitting positive messages about capitalism. ”

The FT is Britain’s premier business broardsheet and it circulates internationally. It is privately owned by the Pearson Group – which is also, incidentally, a leading publisher of economics texts. The FT often carries contributions from Lawrence Summers and other high-profile American academics such as Kenneth Rogoff. Summers, now at Harvard, was Clinton’s last Treasury Secretary. Rogoff, now also at Harvard, was a past chief economist at the IMF.

For those reasons, I tend to take what FT writers say about Osborne’s austerity policy and about banks and bankers very seriously.

“Criticizing pubic sector pay does capitalism no harm either – look at what happens when socialism is introduced, but, you and I both know that a public sector in a capitalist economy is not socialism.”

There are 57 varieties of socialism, many of which have turned out to be very unpleasant when implemented.

51

Blaming individuals does not reflect upon the system itself, pilot error is a commonly used excuse which, more often than not, is simplistic and sometimes a downright lie. You still haven’t shown how the media, whether it be the FT or otherwise, damages capitalism, indeed all of your comments relate to individuals.

Perhaps you can give me two or three examples of the 57 varieties of socialism, I’m always open to enlightenment.

53. Churm Rincewind

@ Just Visiting (39): Yes indeed. Come back Chaise Guevara and Pagar (not to mention Sally) – we need you.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy: The ignorance of the British public is a failure of the media | moonblogsfromsyb

    […] via Robert Sharp Liberal Conspiracy http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/07/11/the-ignorance-of-the-british-public-is-a-failure-of-the-medi… […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.