Lies, damned lies and statistics: we all know the saying, but you'd be surprised just how many of these “facts” manage to enter the national consciousness, emerging as Guardian headlines and stories on Radio 4's Today. Allow me to tiptoe through the process as to how this happens. Let's start with this lovely little chart: A …
The private sector is only taking advantage of the market by naturally finding the weak links. When interacting with the public sector who usually employ dull witted then naturally they will take advantage of the stupid. It is not just the stupid, it also includes those who are willing to spend other peoples money.
As for NHS, PO and Rail. Well I want working ones, not the basket cases that we currently have. A privately run health system who cares about profit as in people not dying and wanting to come back for more not just monetary, a mail system that is as quick as other private couriers and not controlled by a trade union that cares more about employing more than about delivering post , and a rail system that doesn't need to pay billions to the government thereby loading that cost on to ticket prices. Those are what "we" want. The point is efficient systems, not nationalised ones.
Though I agree about the executions of MPs. That will solve everything.
Disagree with "Random" it should be targeted onto those who fucked-up the most. What could be unfair about that?
Am I the only one who read the headline and wondered why people would accuse the World Health Organization of theft?
Explain this ..
Explain why our governments took on the capitalists debts and us wage payers are going to spend the next two decades paying it off. Abd why in the middle of a depression, the top executives at these corporations are paying themselves massive bonuses
The Economist has some relevent articles for thoes interested.
There was even and article in the Daily Mail.
I guess the public sector workers in receipt of this 'good deal' find the story hard to accept because they have experienced a reduction in pay, pension, etc. and increased workload. What they don't seem to realise is that, on average, the rest of us have suffered a greater reduction in pay, etc. and greater increase in workload.... with a few exceptions in the city of course!
Given the current situation maybe we should swap the term "Public Servant" for a more appropriate one.... any suggestions?
Some comments here
Some comments here:
When the evil bankers extract money from us, they do it in the form of bonuses, which for tax and reporting purposes is additional salary. Bankers bonuses are a lot lower than they used to be, which probably makes up the bulk of the explanation of why wages have gone down as a proportion of GDP.
When the government takes money off us in tax to spend on nurses and doctors, the bulk of it is spent on their salaries.
If you are looking to see where GDP is going if it isn't going on salaries, you need to look at three things. The first is imports. That is the money that leaves the country to pay Chinese Foxconn workers to make all our shiny iDevices. It isn't wages in this country. The second is benefits payments. Benefits go to people in this country, but they are not wages. The third is rent payments for our houses and commercial properties. That is money that goes to the evil capitalists that isn't wages.
This is complete rubbish.
It is a zero sum game, the point this rube misses is that corporations and the richest individuals convert resources (i.e. your productivity) into assets (real estate, stocks, bonds, derivatives) which are hardly taxed at all, yet consume the most resources (all that military and police to prevent the theft of said private property.)
Fantastic deal if your the 1% holding 80% of the assets.
Why the fuck is this shit being published on el reg? What part of this partisan fuckwittery has anything to do with IT?
I know! Absolutely fuck all. Not only that but it is blatant bollocks to boot, as has been shown by quite a few commentards so far. Both for and against.
Hopefully this is the last piece of "economic" reporting from Mr Worstall.
Pint for the remembering to close the door on yer way out.
Less disposable income
I used to be able to turn up at a train station, and take a ride, but today it is unaffordable. Economy of scale should mean that a train ride should be the cheapest form of transport, but often costs more than taking a taxi.
You used to get pay rises that slowly followed rising basic prices. Today fuel and electricity jumps by so much, that salaries are held in order to keep inflation down, so I pay proportionately more for fuel, electricity and other basics. That leaves less disposable income to do with as I please.
Re: Less disposable income
You are so lucky to have a train! Try living over fifty miles from a main-line railway station. As to the bus that gets you to the train station and the super-slab, they are badly sprung and badly driven as a rule with "digital drivers" as I call them. To avoid vomiting it is better to ignore ones bus pass and travel by car.
Tim starts his article with “lies, damned lies and statistics” and, although he did not lie, he didn’t tell the “whole truth and nothing but the truth”.
The undisputed fact is that since the mid 80s, depending where you live, the income of about 75% of the population in industrialized countries has barely kept pace with inflation. By contrast, the top 25% has seen its wealth increase well above inflation. To make things worse, the top 2% has tripled its wealth over the past 30 years. Any number of reports, official documents, scholarly research etc. will confirm this. I suggest Hacker & Pierson “Winner-take-all politics” as essential reading for anyone interested knowing the reasons for the widening wealth gap between the top 2% versus the other 98%. Suffice to say that Reaganism, the disastrous ‘trickle down economy’ concepts and greater reliance on non-progressive consumption taxes have sawn the seed of this cycle that, unless reversed, will see the collapse of current western capitalism. This form of capitalism has seen Senior Management pay explosion, even when firms they manage go to the wall (US Treasury figures reports that in 1978 the average pay of CEO was 26.5 times that of average wages, in 2011 the ratio was 209.4 times! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/ceo-pay-worker-pay_n_1471685.html).
Governments have caught up on the idea that the average person is gullible and hence have promised tax cut for all and increased services in order to be re-elected. This has resulted in ever-growing national debts which will see economies fail when the lenders, both internal and external, will demand their capital back. In the end it will always be the gullible public that will pay through unemployment, lack of services and lower standard of living.
It never ceases to surprise me how easy it is to fool people. Lowering income taxes benefits ONLY the wealthy because the flip side is an increase in consumption taxes which applies equally to all irrespective of income. Progressive countries have understood this and they apply progressive taxation even to traffic fines (http://www.poliisi.fi/poliisi/lp/home.nsf/pages/F3BCD1C2A09C374FC225759900338B68?opendocument).
Tim appears to advocate, but not in so many words, the typical Right Wing response to government debts, i.e. cut government spending! A more equitable approach is to return to pre-Reaganism tax rates where marginal tax rates of 70%+ was the norm. This would achieve 3 good outcomes: 1. it would put an end to ever growing CEO pays, 2. it would reduce government debts worldwide, and 3. re-establish some form of equity within the community.
I would like Tim to tackle these issues and tell us why they wouldn’t work.
"......I would like Tim to tackle these issues and tell us why they wouldn’t work." Simple - the whole CEO pay issue has become subject to supply and demand. As long as the companies think they need the best CEOs they will pay more for them. Increasing taxes on the top-earners will just mean they will be paid more and in more tax-avoiding methods, it will not reduce their pay one dollar. Companies will move their offices to tax havens and individuals will move to avoid high taxation - the Gerard Depardieu response. Just look at how many companies are already registered in the Isle of Man, Monaco, Lichtenstein, the Bahamas. High taxation is only a threat to those who are not mobile, and CEOs can be very mobile. The only ones trapped by higher taxes are the middle-income and lower-income earners that cannot pick up sticks and go play the tax avoidance game. To think otherwise is to be blinded by political desire. It would be a better idea to legalize the idea that a fixed portion of the CEO's pay is in company shares that have to be retained for x years after being issued, meaning the CEO then has a long term interest in securing the future of the company.
The people who have drained off my money are Cornwall Council and Colombian drug cartels! How? Simple - the council get money for rehousing "problem people". Many of these "problem people" are drug addicts, allegedly Heroin, not just "Wacky Baccy". Now Dole money doesn't run to Heroin does it? As a consequence these "problem people" that the council has imported are persistent burglars. I have been burgled repeatedly and some people that I know slightly have been assaulted and stabbed. One was in Intensive Care for a fortnight after his abdomen was slashed open; another suffered a broken jawbone as a result of being punched. Exactly what these disagreements were over one can only speculate but one case I know of was very naughty. One bedsit dweller allegedly bummed a lift to the Co-op on another bedsit dwellers motorbike. Allegedly he said "Wait here while I get my shopping". Minutes later the bloke came running out of the shop with the shop staff chasing him. He jumped on the pillion and shouted "GO GO GO!" Phew that was a close call as later the motorcyclist had the Police doing a door-to-door looking for a shoplifter on a motorbike! The bike had been parked elsewhere "just in case" but he was lucky to get away with that even though in reality he was an innocent party who had been duped. Thanks to Cornwall Council this town has become a Gulag. Don't you just LURV councils? After all apart from importing burglars and drug addicts they put speed humps everywhere to ruin your cars suspension, they also paint wall-to-wall double yellow lines and employ traffic wardens.
Would I get all this horse-sh1t in Florida I wonder? Nooooooooo! Over there when scumbags get locked-up they are Senior Citizens when they get released and that's if they are lucky!
Re: Asymmetric Warfare
Oh, talk about the grass being greener in the other guy's yard! You'd be surprised wha they are tolerating in Florida as I sit here and write this. We put up with a lot of it here in Texas. I shudder to think of what it must be liike in Chicago where only the criminals and the cops are allowed to have guns.
ALL Governments lie....
Why are here
The real problem is as plain as your face, all politicians are lying bastards and like capitalists only there to feather their own nest.
Re: Why are here
True, but then the Capitalists are obliged to give you a job and none of them are allowed to use force against you so that you must buy from them. The Politicians, on the other hand, are not quite that gray. They are basically just blackguards.
So where is the Money?
Forgive this laymans question but if http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock is somewhere near correct at listing the countries that have national debts collectively summing up to just under $50 Trillion, to whom do they owe this money? I suspect it will be Oil rich countries but would be interested in others opinions based on fact and not guess work.
Re: So where is the Money?
Governments owe the money, largely, to themselves. Governments issue bonds then print money to buy those bonds. I'm not joking either.
@The Axe: A privately run health system who cares about profit
Figures are 2010, The World Bank
Health expenditure as % of GDP:
I don't know the UK system, but Canada covers essentially everybody. The US does not, yet costs nearly twice what your NHS does, over half again more than Canada's system. Private works for who? Not for the benefit of the public.
Yet paid shills like the author of this polemic have convinced the fuckwits in the US that a single payer health system will cost too much. And you've drunk the kool-aid too.
Re: @The Axe: A privately run health system who cares about profit
"...The US does not, yet costs nearly twice what your NHS does. ...." You ignore what you get for the money. In the UK we cannot get treatments available in the US. We also usually have massive waiting lists which do not happen in the States, waiting lists so long people actually die waiting for the surgery they need! I have friends that paid taxes for decades but had to take their daughter to the States to pay again for private medicine, for a life-saving treatment the NHS told them the NHS was not willing to pay for. It wasn't the fault of the doctors here in the UK, they were just as frustrated as the parents, it was the fault of beancounter civil servants having to make decisions based on the limited budgets rather than what was actually best for the patients. If you seriously want to repeat the NHS experience in the US without understanding what that means then I would suggest you are drowning in the koolaid.
Re: @The Axe: A privately run health system who cares about profit
I have a son who'll be 24 in two weeks whose neo-natal care would have bankrupted his mother and I if we'd been Americans instead of Canadians. Yes the health care there can be very good, *if you have lots of money*. Obviously, your friends do. You failed to understand the issue I raised. Private, for profit, works for those with wealth. It's unaffordable for everyone. The issue you raised is one of management of the system. Most right-wing idealogues prattle on about private being the answer for everything, perhaps because so many right-wing politicos are incapable of managing complex systems. As are many of the lefties. But turning it all over to private industry is not the answer, though it appeals to the simple-minded. All large organizations will get bureaucratic, top-heavy and inefficient if not well-managed and if not shaken up periodically, whether public or private. Go back and read the stories of those who worked for Motorola on these very forums.
There are many ways of doing health care. Germany has mandatory purchase of health insurance, but it comes from two large *non-profit* societies. The US private for profit system is far and away the worst way to do it, unless you are wealthy.
Freedom to choose your doctor or your care, which is the issue you raised, and which the American right brings up? In Canada I can choose my doctor, although family doctors are harder to find. Most Americans with job-provided health care get it from a HMO. It will tell them who their doctor is, and what procedures will be provided, and what not provided. No difference from your story with NHS. Your fairy tale image of private health care is based on solid ignorance of the US reality. And for that they pay far more than any other first world country. Look up the figures. I did and gave you some. But don't let reality interfere with your cherished beliefs.
Re: @The Axe: A privately run health system who cares about profit
".....Obviously, your friends do....." No, they didn't, they took out a second mortgage and a lot of debt. Stop trying to insist anyone that disagrees with you or has an alternative story must be rolling in money.
".....You failed to understand the issue I raised....." You didn't raise an issue, you simply stated that having a clone of the NHS would be a far better solution for the Yanks because you said that US healthcare was massively more expensive than the NHS using percentage of GDP spent, trying to imply the NHS was twice as good on cost grounds wthout looking at the care provided. That's like saying a third-hand Yugo would be a better car than a brand-new BMW 5-series simply because the Yugo would have a lower sticker price. Your comparison is doubly invalid as it does not even consider spending per capita, it's just percentage of GDP. Indeed, seeing as you have not even bothered to link the source, it could be you've pulled those figures out of your rectrum. In short, it's just some figures you want to throw out there because you think they settle the argument for you, and woe betide anyone that might disagree.
".....Your fairy tale image of private health care is based on solid ignorance of the US reality......" I see your political bent precludes you from seeing anything but your own "story" as valid. Shame, I was going to suggest you simply try making a more valid comparison, but it seems that would be a waste of time seeing as it is obvious you have predetermined the outcome and reject all facts to the contrary. Enjoy your blinkers.
It is complicated?
Systems - people working in those systems - the desire to be effective, efficient and fair?
The problem in UK system arises from
+ too much cash flow to the Treasury (it means that cash-flow is not going anywhere else)
+ formation over a century or so of a maudlin middle class morality that does not create wealth but knows how to generate wealth by taxation for its own purposes
+ lack of an enterprise culture or any sizeable enterprise based middle class with a sense of modern Luddites emanating from state employees
I believe there are no single shot solutions only solutions for the time and the place in which case former soviet block nations have a great deal to teach the West (perhaps it is moralities and ethics rather than systems and structures? Add a dash of mutual help and ... )
So Much Assumption
There is so much assumption here. The public sector and the private sector are not two walled gardens but changes in both make such comparisons very dubious. Low paid public sector jobs have been extensively privatised in the last 20 years meaning that people cleaning hospital floors, doing home care or many other things are now private sector workers. This transfer of low pay into the private sector has been substantial.
If you look at pensions the collapse of private sector schemes and saving in general means that public sector schemes are bound to be "better". Should we be celebrating a race to reduce wages, pensions and provision.
However for the purposes of an argument lets assume it's all true and the big conspirators of the crash are public sector workers. People being made redundant by the score to save bust banks - banks who were theoretically private sector!
The analysis seems to be that if you were in the public sector with strong trade unions, rights at work, a strong culture of negotiating collectively on wages and conditions you have done well. If you work in the private sector with little or no trade union representation you do badly. So the message to all workers is surely to join trade unions and negotiate collectively with your employer.
Oh yes, lies
This "article" should be removed from The Reg due to (a), gross inaccuracies and (b) political bias on an IT site.
The public sector took all of (our) money? REALLY??! Just ONE WEEK after this "article" was posted, here is the TRUTH:
"Big companies in Britain now pay less tax than they did 12 years ago despite a big jump in profitability, a Reuters analysis of official data shows. Tax campaigners say the trend is the clearest signal yet that tax avoidance has blossomed under a more business-friendly strategy at the UK tax authority Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)."
*Less* money is going to (public) tax coffers from large corporations. That means that the only "money" coming out of (our) pockets is *personal* - that is, more burden is being put on the individual while the corporations, who have been granted the status and rights of an individual in our societies, gain access to the benefits of the system while not paying their share of the burden.
And the co-politically/economically connected people - the same people who either are gaining the benefits now or (naively) think they will benefit later ("trickle down economics"), support the imbalance.
A large percentage of the population has been...well, brainwashed...into believing that such an imbalance, in the long term, will benefit their personal needs. 30 years later...we are in debt, in a recession that came *this close* to becoming a massive depression, crumbling infrastructure, etc. And the solution? Lower taxes on Big Business and the wealthy, of course.
I find it INCREDIBLY naive for people to believe that what did not work in the 30 years prior...will begin to work NOW. They still keep believing in the Kool Aid, yet they never bother to look behind themselves to see the history that they themselves lived through. Income that has not kept up with inflation indexes, gross national debt, recessions, white collar crimes with slap-on-the-wrist penalties, massive upper management remuneration contracts...and more of the same will save us, the masses believe. And told so by ridiculous "articles" such as this with no factual proof and adequate "statistical" spin without telling you the *entire* truth.
Re: Oh yes, lies
".....Big companies in Britain now pay less tax than they did 12 years ago....." Snake, did you ever stop to think that in those last twelve years, but especially in a downturn, the UK is competing with other companies in Europe for the attentions of those "large corporations"? Whilst it would be nice to charge them a chunk of extra tax, it would not be good if the result was they jumped ship and moved to France. Well, OK, given the recent idiocy of Hollande and his 75% tax on the rich (which you probably approve of), that is unlikely, but Switzerland might be an option. Or Germany.
There is less and less unique value that the UK can offer international companies other than "we kinda speak the same lingo as the US". Having "large corporations" (and, come on, admit it, you mean large US corporations, right?) in the UK does provide more jobs than if we didn't have any here at all. And please don't forget those large corporations pay National Insurance contributions for employees, so encouraging them to base offices in the UK does have a benefit beyond the simple benefit of employing people. Making the UK an unattractive base by insisting on taxing "large corporations" more could have the opposite affect to what is desired as those corporations simply move elsewhere.
Every day in London I meet European, Asian and African professionals that have come to London for work they couldn't find in their own countries, and many of them will quite openly state one of the reasons was the chance to work for those same "large corporations". Care has to be taken that in looking for solutions to current funding problems we do not create an even bigger funding crisis.
Feeling Rather Sick...
Your point (last paragraphs) about those who know a subject well to speak up against those who don't but pontificate about it, is well judged. For years my late wife and I would comment incredulously about stories in the press, or other media, that were twisted or downright wrong in our respective areas of speciality.
Our conclusion was that if so many "facts" that we knew to be wrong were being published we could not trust the "facts" in other subject areas.
I was surprised, though, that as many as 25% of MPs knew the odds on getting two consectutive heads in a coin toss. Although perhaps this figure is also wrong......
Stick to tech
Between your ill-informed climate change denial and your Tory-loving politics you're pretty close to losing a reader here, Reg. Please stick to technology stories. You're at least passable at that.
Re: Stick to tech
No no no - lets have more like this - techies are not immune from the rest of the stuff in the world.
I don't agree with much that TW says on economics stuff but at least there is a political basis and rationale for most of it which can be discussed. Simply saying - stay away we're all lefties here is really pathetic and part of the problem of modern politics - every one gets into their entrenched position and nothing useful is ever said.
Plus - the level and standard of comment on ElReg is actually pretty good. If you think iWars are bad go and see just about any CIF discussion.
A couple of points
"As you can see, the workforce's share of the nation's economic output has been falling. Clearly a bad case of the capitalist bastards watering the workers' beer."
The author appears to be claiming that capitalists do not work and that the workforce can not be capitalists (yes I'm being literal but he started with the massive over-simplifications)
I think wage distribution might explain part of the problem too. If wages at all levels increased at the same rate then the comparisons the author makes might be worthy of a bit more scrutiny. It is quite amazing what you can do with a set of figures, a couple of charts and an agenda.
Greedy bastards will always be greedy bastards.
Like it or not, the measure of a man is not in pounds/pence, dollars/cents.
The richest "people" can be the scummiest lowlives out there. They are usually psycopaths.
Others, can be normal human beings with a sense of responsibility, but usully they are power hungry psyco's who think that being rich allows them to manipulate others for their own gain.
No amount of money could buy me! I'm worth more than money, regardless of how much I earn.
Past Party Politics
I haven't seen any comments here pointing out errors in Tim Worstall's figures and/or charts. I assume it is therefore safe to rely on the content, that they tell a true story and give a reliable picture of the real world.
In which case it is truly worrying. For the TUC to spin a story is one thing but to tell outright falsehoods aware of the impact such dishonesty will have is not just shameful, it is dangerous.
The charts reflect some fundamentals about the UK economy that are way beyond party politics.
Firstly while the numbers in the workforce have grown considerably - vastly more women, immigration, longer living etc - allowing for inflation, the national GDP hasn't grown very much.
If you divide a constant sum by a growing number you get an increasingly smaller result so that yes more people are getting a wage packet but the packet itself is smaller.
If the amount is topped off - by taxation and other government costs - then the total amount available is getting smaller even more quickly and the resulting wage packets reduced even more so.
It would be to everyone's benefit if the Office of Budget Responsibility (I notice they didn't call it the Office of Responsible Budgets - I wonder why that was?) could publish this sort of analysis on a regular basis.
The electorate is pretty much head in the sand pretty much most of the time but we do need to move these unarguables out of the political arena into the world most of us live in where 2 + 2 always equals 4.
Basically this is a “we can’t go on like this” message I suppose.