back to article Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

When cruising The Guardian for a fix of poverty porn, as I tend to do from time to time, I'm frequently amused by what some people will believe about the subject. This time I have to admit to having been amazed. For we've the flat-out assertion that we're about to be back in the 1930s. In some ways this might even be true: …

  1. Nathan 13

    Spot on

    No one is poor in the UK, We are all the so called 1%, compared to the world's population.

    We dont know how good we have it, really we dont!!

    1. Streaker

      Re: Spot on

      In Total Agreement.

      However why flip between Dollars and Pounds? Does it make the statistics better when £1.00 = $4.90 as in 1935 or £1.00=$1.60 in 2014.

      And we all wonder why we don't trust statistics.

      S

      1. Ossi

        Re: Spot on

        Well if there was any sleight of hand there (and there wasn't) it would mean that the increase in income was understated as it would make the dollar number look larger in 1935. That wouldn't really serve the purposes of the writer.

      2. Tim Worstal

        Re: Spot on

        The different sets of numbers come from different sources but I stuck with what the one source used. So when looking at GDP figures stick with $ so that they are internally consistent, Same with UK earnings numbers, start in £ and stick with £. So we're in the same currency with each separate set of numbers but not over all of them.

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: Spot on

      Just about. Top 1% is really around UK median wage (say, £24k a year). UK minimum wage or, including all benefits like housing benefit etc the general level of benefits still gets you, just, into world top 10%.

    3. Syntax Error

      Re: Spot on

      Poor quality of life in the UK. Destroying the welfare state is not going to make it any better and probably a lot worse.

      This article is rubbish.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Spot on

        Oh no Mr Syntax in a delicious case of irony the error is yours

      2. fruitoftheloon
        FAIL

        Re: Spot on

        Mr syntax,

        so you presumably don't have a problem with some families historically having received more in benefits than Mr Average would receive in salary for working full time?

        Disclosure: I am currently in receipt of ESA benefit and my mum is disabled, so my father gets carers allowance etc, I am quite familiar with the price of a single tomato and can tell you down to the nearest penny what my sons school lunch costs.

        We eat modestly and COOK our own dinners, hence our family food budget is a fraction of many people we know.

        I do not believe the world owes me a living or that the state should be responsible for looking after my family, I do however appreciate the [significant to us] help that we do get at the moment, I look forward to when my health fully returns and I will be paying tax again rather than drawing upon it...

        But I believe the bedroom tax is flawed in every way possible.

        J

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Nathan 13 Re: Spot on

      ".....We dont know how good we have it....." Those of us who have travelled to less fortunate lands certainly do. The problem is there is a large number of people in the West that make a very good living off feeding others the idea that "it's so unfair", etc. Just like Al Gores did with 'global warming' (http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/11/02/nyt-admits-gore-making-fortune-global-warming, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/al-gores-net-worth-green-energy_n_1961299.html), they hypocritically use the fears of "the poor" to feather their own nests.

  2. Jim 59

    1930s

    My father was a kid in the 30s, and he said the poor children came to school with no shoes on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1930s

      My mother was a poor kid born in the 1930's. She did go to school with no shoes on. But not before she was 14. Before then she rarely went to school because she had to look after her brothers and sisters (all 10 of them - she was the eleventh and the eldest). Mind you, after she ran away from home, she met my father, they set-up their own business, worked very hard and didn't remain poor.

      She was taken into care after she ran away from home; very different to care today - it was the Salvation Army, and she doesn't have much good to say about them, yes they housed her but doing so came with the condition of absolute abeyance. There was however one army sister who helped her greatly and who mum speaks of warmly, that sister helped her with her reading and writing and wrote a reference for her so she could became a nurse. That helped her get into nursing college which was an incredible achievement for her in itself.

      To hear her speak, you would never guess she couldn't read and write for so much of her youth or that she had to any extent a deprived background. She is fiercely intelligent and could easily have been a top scientist or academic had she had different family circumstances. Her one luxury when she was young was a transistor radio she managed to get hold of and she would listen to it in her bedroom at night, copying the voices of the posh people. That might sound funny to most people and to today's ears might even sound false, but it was actually the complete opposite. She knew there had to be a better world out there than the loveless brutal and abusive family life she was surrounded by and she clung on to the radio where she could hear people talking who didn't seem to be living with violence and abuse, thinking if she could just learn from it, it might save her.

      She had a pain in her back and it was fairly recently diagnosed being from an old injury; a cracked spine. That reminded her of one time when her father kicked her down the stairs; as that was probably when the injury occurred. Really her childhood story, untold and private, is sad but quite incredible.

      And her radio listening worked. It was how she educated herself and by doing what she did, didn't come across to others as a useless vagabond. She was able to get out of the gutter.

      I once read a book about poverty in childhood. It was called Tuppence to Cross the Mersey. It wasn't nice. My mother read it and knowing she had not had a good childhood (but not at the time knowing quite how bad it was), I asked her (probably distastefully) how her's compared. She looked sad and distant. "Worse" she replied. "...much worse."

      Every now an again, she comes across the political activist type that says something like "it's alright for you" and "you can't understand poverty."

      Understandably she has some strong views, but she doesn't really talk about her background in front of such people. Firstly because it's private, secondly because I think she finds the disparity in experience she has with the people who say stuff like that too difficult to handle. There is such a thing as being able to win an argument too comprehensively, and it's bad taste to voice up about how deprived your childhood was, so she just sits there and says nothing. But when people measure other people's circumstances and use phrases like "It's alright for you" its worth reflecting how little they may know.

      She's an incredible woman and now, when she's surrounded by family and grandchildren, she has a look of deep contentment and satisfaction on her face that is really quite lovely to see. Those that do know about her childhood are always surprised because she is so articulate, knowledgeable about the world and is so, well,... normal.

      She would wholeheartedly agree with this article.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: 1930s

        Every now an again, she comes across the political activist type that says something like "it's alright for you" and "you can't understand poverty."

        I get this, from time to time, by some soap dodging dog stringer, on my way to work in the City. To say it's annoying would be an understatement.

        I never knew the sort of poverty you describe, and I came from a loving family. A loving blue collar family in a council house, going to the local failing comp, while dad came home with one redundancy slip after the next. My folks eventually managed to buy their own place, then lived hand to mouth to keep it due to rate rises and recession, while working up to 16 hours a day when work or overtime was available. My parents were poor, never earning todays "living wage", and often a lot less. They saw education as a route to a better life for their kids, and pushed us all into it.

        Fast forward a couple of degrees then 20 years hard bloody work, and yes, I now have it easy. It's nothing anyone of my school class mates couldn't do. Some of them did. I had no opportunities the dog on a string brigade didn't have, and I had no particular academic aptitude. Anyone can choose to work hard.

        I understand being poor better than literally every single person that's ever told me I didn't understand it, and I work harder than those that now tell me I have it easy. The only poverty we have in Britain is poverty of aspiration. It has been such since at least the late seventies / early eighties. Taxing the successfull harder to gift "the poor" shinnier toys won't change that one bit.

        1. BenR

          @LucreLout Re: 1930s

          I'm mostly there with you.

          I too never knew that sort of poverty - I came from a single-parent family, and although my father was not one of the type the CSA would have had us believe all absentee fathers are and always paid his child support to my mother without fail, my mother still worked TWO jobs in local education (as a nursery nurse and a part-time youth worker), as well as a weekend job with one of our neighbours on a sandwich fan at football matches, in order to support us and to put me through university. I never went hungry in the manner described by some of the older generation, but I am *FULLY* aware of just how much my mother sacrificed for me to have a better life. The only reason she could even contemplate affording her own home was through Right To Buy.

          But even then, while attending university, to make ends meet I lived at home, and was fortunate that my hometown university (Sheffield) was ranked third in the country for my course at the time, so i didn't class that as a disbenefit. I also took a part-time job myself, where I worked stacking shelves at a local supermarket for 20 hours a week after lectures. I graduated, got myself a good job with good prospects, got myself my professional qualifications, and am now fortunate to be living in the sort of financial comfort that my mother could have only dreamed of at my age.

          I too had no more opportunity - due to either my background, home life, upbringing or through my failing (and since closed and reopened at least twice) local comp than anyone else in my peer group. I worked hard to get where I am, and to be in a position where when I have kids they will have some of the advantages that i did not.

          This is how the world *SHOULD* work - each generation building on that which came before them.

          Quite why I should be expected to feel guilty that some feckless imbeciles have been unable to take a system that worked perfectly well for me I shall never know. Even more so when I see parents walking round during the day, drinking cheap lager and smoking endless fags while failing to maintain control of the three or four children running round only to hear the refrains of "It's not fair the government cut our benefits! How can we feed our kids now?"

          Work hard. Have aspirations. And most of all, if you truly believe the situation to be so bad that you consider hope for your own self-betterment to be lost forever, be willing to sacrifice and forgo things for yourself in order to provide better for your children.

      2. Angol

        Re: 1930s

        Something wrong here. We're told she was born in the 1930s and when young had a transistor radio. But the first British transistor radio was produced in 1956.

        1. Bob Wheeler

          Re: 1930s

          I believe that they were known then as crystal radio's or cat's whisker radio's.

          1. Uffish

            Re: crystal radios in the 1930's

            ... and cost quite a lot at the time.

        2. Nigel 11

          Re: 1930s

          Feast your eyes on some vacuum-tube portable radios here: http://www.antiqueradio.org/tubeportables.htm

          They're a bit larger than a modern DAB radio, and when loaded with LT and HT batteries, considerably heavier. But in essence ... pre-transistor "transistor" radios.

        3. David Roberts Silver badge

          Re: 1930s

          So if she was born in 1936 the radio would have been available in 1956 when she was 20.

        4. fruitoftheloon

          Re: 1930s

          It could have been a crystal set

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1930s @AC

        Have an upvote, very commendable story of determination and self reliance. Too bad half the population would rather laze about on the dole and bemoan the fact instead of showing the same persevereance your grandparents did. The funny thing is she seems to be embarrassed to mention it.

        We need educators that can instill that kind of gumption in the present millenial generation. Their parents sure didn't.

        Both my parents were from that long gone generation, both born in the late 1920's. Both have passed on but they worked very hard to make something of themselves instead of finding excuses to stay in the breadline or soupkitchen. At the time, I was not appreciative of being told to get a part time job when I was 14 but I sure understand the importance now at 59. Funny how you change as you get older.

    2. Snorlax
      Facepalm

      Re: 1930s

      My father was a kid in the 30s, and he said the poor children came to school with no shoes on.

      And eighty-something years later, kids are going to school hungry. Teachers are buying cereal for them with their own money.

      Fuck yeah, we've come a long way baby.

      1. Jim 59

        Re: 1930s

        F*** yeah, we've come a long way baby.

        Well, here's how far 6 year old children have come in Britain, anyway:

        1830's - 6 year olds down mines, operating trap doors etc.

        1930's - 6 years olds in school, poor ones without shoes.

        2030s - ?

      2. SysDBA

        Re: 1930s

        Yes, but is that poverty or child neglect. Too many so-called parents are more concerned with alcohol, tobacco and their own lifestyle and pay too little attention to the needs of their children. The problems just ain't that simple!

      3. Nigel 11

        Re: 1930s

        And eighty-something years later, kids are going to school hungry.

        Unless you're going to successfully argue that the statistics in the article are wrong, that is because their parents have a poor set of priorities, and are spending their income on something other than properly feeding their children.

        Throwing more money at such parents is not the answer. Indeed, it may be part of the problem (for example, if a parent has an addiction). No, I do not know what the answer is.

        1. Uffish

          Re: ' what the answer is'

          No, I don't know what the answer is either, but I think that the teachers that feed them are onto something.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 1930s @snorlax

        Mostly because their parents (if there are two) are lazy goodfornothing drug addicts and alcoholics Snorlax. Ones that can't even keep it together for their kids sake.

        Too many people that make excuses for how or why they are poor and not enough that have the guts to fix their own problems. If you tell me otherwise you are just lying.

    3. JP19

      Re: 1930s

      In the late 50's I, my parents, 3 brothers and sister lived in a rented two bedroom cottage with no running water and an outside elsan toilet my father had to dig a hole for in the garden and bury once a week. I don't really remember but my mother tells me we were often hungry. My father was a travelling salesman (on a motorbike with sidecar) my mother worked part time as a cleaner and used to keep the contents of the ash trays for my father to make roll-ups from the dog-ends. A woman living across the street had running water - a sink with a tap was a novelty for me and I remember playing washing and ironing (with flat irons heated on a stove) her dish cloths.

      My parents worked hard and slowly prospered. Nowadays deprivation seems to be not having a 50" flat screen and SKY.

    4. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      Re: 1930s

      Jim,

      likewise my grandfather was one of nine (most of them died very young), they lived in one of two rooms in a slum in East London with no heating, running water, toilet or electricity, he was born almost exactly a hundred years ago.

      I think things have moved on a bit since then for the working class...

  3. Tim Worstal

    Slight edit error

    "(ie, taking inflation into account although it's actually $1,992)."

    Should read "(ie, taking inflation into account although it's actually 1992 $)."

    As in, inflation adjusted to the dollars of 1992, not to 1,992 dollars.

    My bad.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Slight edit error

      Although I have to ask, how reliable is the inflation series? Is it one of those typical Government constructions where it's actually total bollocks and doesn't reflect changes in costs whatsoever but suits them nicely for their index linked stuff?

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: Slight edit error

        Fair to say that it's not very good. But also that it's the best we've got. The Maddison figures should be thought of as being accurate in the first digit and the number of digits but probably not much more than that.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Slight edit error

        Mark 65,

        Any long-term measure of inflation is by definition bollocks. it's not their fault, it's just the job is impossible. If you've ever studied any kind of economic or social history, these kind of calculations are a nightmare.

        The things you're comparing are just too hard. As an example, craftsmanship matters so much less, due to mass production. A hand-made pair of boots is now a luxury, even though it might actually cost a similar amount in inflation terms to the 1930s or the 1830s. Say it costs around a week's wages for a skilled worker then and now (which is probably reasonable for many periods). The difference is I don't need to spend £500 on handmade shoes, I can get cheap ones for £30 or pay £100 for something that'll last years. Those last two options weren't available, except that you could get second-hand stuff. Obviously no-one in the 1930s had iPads, or the option to pop to the supermarket for strawberries in December, or Australian wine.

        So you're actually dealing with too many moving targets. Wage inflation is different to price inflation is different to the amount of new things appearing on the market. And they all move at different speeds. My parents bought a fridge when they got married in the 60s. It cost £80. They replaced it when it died in the late 80s for about the same price. The difference was that £80 had gone from being several months salary to only a few days pay.

        My personal take is to compare things that are as obvious as possible, like the price of a loaf of bread, or the wage of a skilled worker. Or to look at contemporary documents. Sherlock Holmes is a great guide for example. Conan Doyle talks about incomes a lot in those books. So someone with an income of £1,000 a year in the late 19th C could probably have a home in London plus maybe a place in the country, with a couple of servants in each. Where £50 would get you a decent life. You wouldn't be able to buy an iPad with it - but then neither would the rich bugger with two houses.

        When you look at ancient history, it gets even harder. And the income disparities become unimaginable. The Romans had this brief fashion in the late republic / early principate period for going slave-tastic. So to prove just how stinkingly rich you were, you'd have a slave just to hold the towels for your guests. Another just to open the door, several to fan your guests, more to take coats. Just so you could brag to your mates about how loaded you were. This was partly because the price of slaves went down due to all the military victories (hence the captives), but also because they were just getting so immensely rich.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Slight edit error

          I have to agree with your rough take, though personally I have a personal, almost utterly unscientific yet disturbingly accurate way of looking at wage costs for the "middle classes". The cost of transport.

          If you look at the cost of a low end car, a middle range car and a high end car then they tend to hold prices relatively well with the range of what the range of salaries were actually out there as opposed to how the average is being calculated or fiddled that year.

          Going further back? Look at the relative cost of horses. It tends to hold true and be acceptably accurate.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    Statistics and all that

    An interesting read, as always. Yes, I think the real issue is inequality and the fact that a significant number of people are getting poorer. If you've ever had your fortunes fluctuate in life, you notice things like that.

    Economic growth data show that we've become wealthier as a nation, and everyone benefits from that to some degree, but an average GDP per capita clouds the deeper truth on how the cake is divided up. There are plenty of graphs around that show the profound divergence of the income of "most folk" and a tiny elite since the late 1970s. Some people contribute to growth more than others, of course , but the exclusion of the majority of workers from this growth in recent times is in my view a bad thing. Dammit, it's just not fair.

    Couple this with a feeling of our democracy being dismantled and it's easier to understand people's growing unease with the situation.

    Of course, a quick trip through history will show that this is nothing new (plus ça change and all that). and I hope things stabilise without the dislocations that have occurred in previous times (e.g. the 1930s).

    Keep 'em coming Tim, I always enjoy your stuff even if I don't agree with all of it.

    Plus, if you still harbour any concerns over "black footie bags" keep clear of all things Cable (Vince, Street etc.). CAT5 should be OK though.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Statistics and all that

      inequality and the fact that a significant number of people are getting poorer.

      Well, more accurately, not getting wealthier as fast...

      I have to wonder, though, if that isn't a consequence of more opportunity, rather than less?

      With no opportunity to improve oneself, things won't change, but the more opportunities there are, the more people will be able to take advantage of them. Since people aren't equal in abiliity it is inevitable that some will be better at that than others. It seems likely, therefore, that the more opportunities there are, it is inevitable that the bigger the inequality will get. Provided that all levels of society are going up, as is demonstrably the case, the fact that some levels are going up faster than others must be a good thing.

      An increasing wealth gap isn't necessarily a problem, it's a sign of more opportunities being available in general. It would only be a problem if it were being fuelled by a feudal-style aristocracy trampling on the backs of peasants, and despite the claims of some on the left that is not the case nowadays.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Statistics and all that

        No, they are getting poorer. Even the government says wages for many are down - not static (which would still be done unless deflation or zero inflation occurs) - down. Meanwhile prices for energy (as paid by households), transport and most foods are up. So, people are getting poorer, even not considering fees for tertiary education that I did not have to pay, along with my peers, nor the real cuts in benefits and the use of sanctions to meet targets and pay for government and banking failures.

        Of course, if you belong to senior management of some financial firm or outsourced hospital service, yes, you are probably richer. I am well enough paid. But my rate is a little less than in 1996. I know many who are relatively less well paid.

  5. Duffy Moon

    Difficult calculation

    These sorts of calculations are complicated and frought with difficulties. I think what needs to be taken into consideration such necessary expenses as food, clothing, heating and housing costs. I would guess that the first two are much cheaper compared to the 1930's and the second two higher.

    To take one example, my father was a child then and he paid the entire rent of the family house out of his paper round (!) with money to spare. Being in south Wales, heating wasn't a problem as they could just collect coal from spoil tips. Food was in short supply, but they also grew some and no doubt knew how to make the most of what they had. The same with clothing - make do and mend.

    It could be argued that there were fewer consumer goods to spend (waste?) money on on those days. No huge TVs (although his family had a rented wireless) and not many people had cars.

    Perception of poverty has a lot to do with people's expectations. People expect a better standard these days and rightly so. There's a greater awareness of inequality, although given the fact that the Conservative Party is in government, presumably most people are not upset enough about it to actually do anything.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Difficult calculation

      Don't forget even in the seemingly easy comparisons it's all different. I can feed 10 people (or one person for a week) for a couple of quid with veggie curry. It'll taste nice, and be nutritious. Up that a tenner, and it'll have identifiable bits of meat in it too. Somewhere in between determines whether it's mystery meat, and how much there is. Make that £30 and there'll be several glasses of beer/wine and pudding. Even the expensive option is well under 1 day of the minimum wage.

      I suspect the cheap option hasn't changed in price massively over the years. Although there was a period of the industrial revolution when lots of people were now livinig in towns, so didn't have the option to just grow stuff themselves, if there was no work. But the variety available has, and the posh grub at the top end has plummeted in price. For £50 a week (1 day at the minimum wage), I can eat meat twice a day, have wine with every meal, pudding, biscuits, crisps - and basically gorge myself silly. On produce from all over the world, ignoring the seasons.

      I believe the rule-of-thumb in the Victorian era was you could have 1 pineapple per month per horse you owned. At least if you were prepared to collect all the horse poo, and use it to keep a mini-greenhouse toasty and fertilised. And that doesn't take into account the salary of the gardener. But if you could afford horses and greenhouses, gardeners were cheap. Hence serving pineapple with Christmas dinner was apparently a huge late 19th C status symbol.

  6. TheOtherHobbes

    From Barnardos:

    There are currently 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK. That’s almost a third of all children. 1.6 million of these children live in severe poverty .

    In the UK 63% of children living in poverty are in a family where someone works.

    Families living in poverty can have as little as £12 per day per person to buy everything they need such as food, heating, toys, clothes, electricity and transport.

    1.6 million children are growing up in homes which are too cold.

    Infant mortality is 10% higher for infants in the lower social group than the average.

    See also interesting numbers about food banks from the Trussel Trust.

    So keep up the good fight. The children and working adults of the UK thank you for it.

    1. Tim Worstal

      quite true

      "There are currently 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK. That’s almost a third of all children. 1.6 million of these children live in severe poverty ."

      That is though, relative poverty. By the definitions Barnardos is using "poverty" is less than 60% of median equivalised household income after housing costs (the equivalised is to take care of different sized families).

      Severe poverty, in the same sense that they use it, sorry, can never remember whether it's less than 50% of median ehiahc or less than 40%.

      But it is absolutely a measure of relative poverty, not of living standards over time.

      "Families living in poverty can have as little as £12 per day per person to buy everything they need such as food, heating, toys, clothes, electricity and transport."

      Indeed. And if you do the maths on that 1930s public assistance level you'll see that back then they had £1.50 per day per person. And that's after the inflation adjustment. That's £1.50 a day of today's money at today's prices per person per day.

      All of which rather makes the point of the piece. Poverty just ain't like it were when Gramps were a lad.

      1. JP19

        Re: quite true

        "That is though, relative poverty"

        Yes we can completely eradicate such poverty in this county by taking lots of money from the rich and burning it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: quite true

        Amazing that so many upvoters can be so wrong. Poverty is not absolute. It has a material, a spiritual and a social dimension. So, those poor children (and adults) today are still less well fed, in poorer health, occupying worse heated, more expensive to heat and keep dry housing, dong worse in education and not able to contemplate educatiion loans for tertiary education. Every statistic demonstrates the consequences and they are not good.

        Contrary the confident assertions in other comments, the widening wealth gap is bad all round: it is now recognised that it is a drag on the economy and it fuels social discontent and disaffection of your fellow voters and citizens. We have got no reason to believe that 21st century Europe is any more immune to the violent results in the end. Indeed, Great Britain, France and Germany have all experienced social breakdown to a greater or lesser extent in recent years, localised but still nasty. It will get worse.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re:TheOtherHobbes

      "From Barnardos....." No disrespect to Barnardos' staff and supporters (I have worked with them on charity projects), but there are a core number of people in the charity business that make sure they paint things in as bad a light as possible. They do so for the simple reason that it is a business and, just like all other businesses, it must continue to generate more money than it spends or it will cease to exist. Now, some of that core are happy to 'massage the stats' because they are caring people that are deeply committed to their cause and even volunteer their time and services for free, but some make a very handsome living as employees of such charities, and for that latter group to declare "yup, we won that war on being poor" would not be good for business. In some cases the level of renumeration may make you question their motives:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/212345/rolling-greenpeace/iain-murray

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10232004/72-per-cent-increase-in-executives-paid-over-100k-a-year-at-best-known-charities.html

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/salarysurvey/table/0,12406,1042677,00.html

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Amnesty_International#Excessive_payouts_to_senior_staff

      In FY2012, Amnesty International USA's Exec Director, Suzanne Nossel, had a declared salary of $249,189 (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3294#.VI3HZxuCOrU), which IMHO probably goes a long way to explaining why AI are so hot on 'exposing injustices'.

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Re:TheOtherHobbes

        @Matt Bryant - when giving to charity now, I am influenced by how much the chief executive is paid. Cafod had the lowest paid boss among overseas charities when I checked a few months back (about 55k IIRC).

        Just checked again now, charities that operate in the UK:

        Head of Save the Children - 247,000

        Head of Salvation Army - 10,500

        People might take the p*** out if the S.A., but good on 'em.

        1. Marcus Aurelius
          Boffin

          Re: Re:TheOtherHobbes

          This raises the question of whether a charity is an activity to gather money to fully pay professionals to do the job, or whether the professionals being paid to do the work by the charity should also work for a charitable wage?

          I do think the salary level of Save the Children is taking the p**s though.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Go

          Re: Jim 59 Re: Re:TheOtherHobbes

          ".....I am influenced by how much the chief executive is paid...." Good idea, but you have to be careful as the charities are getting very good at hiding their employees and execs as "non-employees". The classic case is the rights group Liberty and The Civil Liberties Trust. The latter is the charity and as such makes a big noise about how little it spends directly on staff compared to how much it spends on "activities". But, they "outsource" their actual activities and campaigns to Liberty, which are an unincorporated "non-profit" association. Indeed, Liberty's sole means of income is the money paid to them by The Civil Liberties Trust (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_(advocacy_group)#Organisation). This means The Civil Liberties Trust do not have to declare Shami Chakrabarti's wages as Liberty's director as an employee, nor do they have to list her income from her tours, paid-for TV appearances (taxpayers' money in the case of "Have I Got News For You"), etc. In essence, Chakrabarti's wages (and those of Liberty's marketing people, lawyers, lobbyists, etc.) are declared by The CLT as "charitable operations activities" rather than employee costs.

          Liberty and The CLT is (IMHO) the most blatant example I've seen of this dodge, but I'm told it also happens with other charities in a "you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-outsource-my-activities-to-you" manner.

          1. JustNiz

            Re: Jim 59 Re:TheOtherHobbes

            @Matt Bryant:

            I totally agree with the eseence of what you are saying, however what rich people like Chakrabarti do, even though immoral, is technically not illegal.

            Until we fix that, it gets called a "Tax Mitigation strategy" rather than Tax Evasion, and there are expensive tax advisors that other rich people like Chakrabarti pay a lot of money to just to come up with them, all quite legally. Apparently when you have a lot of money you gain access to a completely different world and set of rules, which also makes it easier to make and keep even more money. THAT double-standard is the actual root of the problem that most needs eliminating, however all the people that have the power to do anything about it are exactly all the ones that are (ab)using it themselves.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Families living in poverty can have as little as £12 per day per person to buy everything they need such as food, heating, toys, clothes, electricity and transport."

      FX: <sound of violin playing sad, sad music>

      Taking that at face value, it would seem that after sixty years or so the welfare state has failed most miserably, wouldn't you agree? Which seems rather odd when they have had to introduce new rules to limit the maximum "benefits" to something around £35k untaxed cash a year.

      It also seems odd that so many people are "living in poverty" when half of eastern Europe, a goodly chunk of southern Europe, and hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa are busting a bollock to get here for the opportunities.

      Perhaps, OtherHobbes, you could give us a diagnosis of this problem?

      1. Charles Manning

        Indeed. We get the same crap about "poverty" here in NZ too.

        Having grown up in rural Africa, this notion of Western poverty riles me no end.

        I'd love to load a bunch of beneficiaries on a plane and send them to live in Africa for a week. Or, perhaps, to give them the full experience, send them by small ship in steerage.

        The worst off 10% of people in UK, NZ etc still live easier lives - with more material wealth ans social support - than 90% of the people in the rest of the world.

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Charles Manning

          ".....Having grown up in rural Africa, this notion of Western poverty riles me no end......" When I was a spoilt kid and grumbled about my lot, my old man used to take me into the kitchen and point at the tap - "That alone makes your lot better than most of the kids on the World", he'd say. Took me a few trips abroad to actually realise it was a lot, lot more than 'most'.

    4. MJI Silver badge

      So I am in poverty?

      Take out mortgage, loans ect

      food heating clothes electric gas transport

      Will leave out toys.

      £7 per person per day

      Includes fuel for my car. Gas electic shopping for food.

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      TheOtherHobbes,

      Those numbers are meaningless without context. For example a quick Google gives UK infant mortality being 4 per 1,000 live births. So if it's really 10% more (and assuming my quick Google gave comparable figures) - that would be 4.4 per thousand for those in relative poverty. Which is a difference, but a much smaller one that the weasely use of 10% would suggest.

      A bit like so many health-scare bollocks stories in the press. Where a 10% rise in a tiny risk, leaving it as still a tiny risk, is played up as a hugely significant thing.

      Families living in poverty can have as little as £12 per day per person to buy everything they need such as food, heating, toys, clothes, electricity and transport.

      So that's £336 per week for a family of 4 (£17,500 per year). And that's apparently not including housing costs. I can feed 4 for £100 a week well and easily. So let's add in £30 for bog-roll/cleaning/sundries. Say £7k + £2k per year for heating, another £1k for phones/internet/water - that's £10k - leaving another £7,500 for clothes, travel, sundries, and a cheap holiday. That looks pretty doable to me.

    6. Sosman

      You've picked up a few down votes here; mainly I think due to the word 'poverty'. Its commonly assumed that unqualified use of 'poverty' refers to the commonly quoted definition of relative poverty - which is much derided as a measure of inequality rather than poverty. I suspect that 'almost a third of all children' [live in poverty] is thus lacking in credibility.

    7. fruitoftheloon

      @ TheOtherHobbes

      £12 per day per person in total? That would be nice.

      Three of us (two adults, one strapping six year old) and a cat, weekly grocery/shopping budge [ONLY] t: £60.

      I am not whinging, I am doing stuff to improve our situation, for our budget we eat VERY WELL, we don't have meat often and virtually everything in our freezer has a 'reduced' label on it - probably still will when I can return to work.

      J

  7. captain veg

    hay man

    I think it worth mentioning that the article was not written by any Guardian staff member. This was an invitation piece.

    And in an article of over 700 words, Tim concentrates entirely on just ten. Yes, I understand that they are not literally true, but it's still a bit of a straw man. What about the rest? Do you deny that "[t]he Office for Budget Responsibility just reported that the level of public spending will be at second world war levels once this government has finished with its cuts."?

    -A.

    1. Splodger

      Re: hay man

      What cuts?

      THERE HAVE BEEN *NO* CUTS.

      Public spending (and borrowing) are increasing nicely/terrifyingly. Check out our national debt and prepare to be extraordinarily worried.

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: hay man

      "Do you deny that "[t]he Office for Budget Responsibility just reported that the level of public spending will be at second world war levels once this government has finished with its cuts."?"

      Yes, I do deny that. For that's not actually what the OBR said. They said that government consumption would be at pre-war levels, not public spending.

      The difference is that consumption is what the government spends on stuff, public spending is what it spends on stuff plus all the redistribution that is done through the welfare state.

      We're about to go back to 35% of GDP as total public spending. 20s and 30s (before rearmament) were more like 25-30%. Last time were were near 35% was in, well, it was in 1999, 2000, when Brown was Chancellor actually. Wasn't actually 35% but it was darn close.

      Oh, and yes, sure, that was just one line I picked up on from that piece. Because I was just looking for a specific example of this specific argument that I wanted to argue against.

      I'm not here to argue that Osborne's doing the right thing, or that he's not. The editor's hope is that I will be able to illuminate economic questions, arguments and or statistics here. So the line was just a springboard for be to be able to make the longer argument.

      1. captain veg

        Re: hay man

        You might then have a legitimate complaint against the Graun. In one of the linked articles it is clearly stated "public spending as a percentage of GDP [will] fall to its lowest level since the 1930s", and that was written by proper journalists that often write on economic matters.

        http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/03/autumn-statement-2014-george-osborne-spending-cuts

        I'm not sure, though, how many people would make this distinction between spending and consumption. The fact that Osbourne is having to stump up an additional pile of cash for (largely in-work) benefits may well be unwelcome and unexpected (to him), but it is a consequence of the same set of policies.

        -A.

        1. The Axe

          Re: hay man

          "written by proper journalists that often write on economic matters" Not at the Guardian, it doesn't employ any proper journalists. Just people who continue the memes of the group think of the left. Though to be honest, none of the other papers employ proper journalists either, just churnalists.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hay man@ Tim Worstal

        "The difference is that consumption is what the government spends on stuff, public spending is what it spends on stuff plus all the redistribution that is done through the welfare state."

        Don't forget arm-twisting expense on private companies that funnily enough doesn't appears as public spending - like the £1.5 bn a year that energy companies have to add to energy bills, and then spend in ways mandated by government. And there's plenty of other forms of obligated expense where government are addicted to spending other people's money.

    3. silent_count

      Re: hay man

      "Not literally true"

      That's the kind of thing they told me when I was a kid in a catholic school pointing out inconsistencies in the bible.

      That phrase tweaked my interest so I looked up the guardian article in question... and immediately spotted where Mr Worstall went wrong. It's in the very first line.

      "I have been an activist for 70 years. I’ve organised unions, rent strikes, [etc]"

      Which roughly translates as, "any resemblance between the following and reality is purely coincidental."

      An activist acts. They don't question the wisdom of their actions*. They've chosen their cause and are more than willing to toss the truth overboard in pursuit of 'the greater good'.

      * When was the last time someone introduced themselves as an introspectionist? Perhaps the world would be a better place if we had more of those.

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: hay man

      Do you deny that "[t]he Office for Budget Responsibility just reported that the level of public spending will be at second world war levels once this government has finished with its cuts."?

      Were that true we could all break out the bunting. Quite why you see the state wasting a smaller percentage of our cash as a bad thing I'll never understand.

      There haven't been any cuts. There are no cuts planned. We're just spending more at a slower rate than we used to. The only honest statement the last government ever made was "Sorry, there is no money" - I'm unsure which part of that you can't grasp?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hay man

        There have been no cuts? Really? Where have you been? Even the government say, boast even, that there have been cuts. They promise more because, they say, it is necessary.

        I tell you what, do what I have done: leave the country for a while (a couple of years or more), then go back and try not to notice the increase in rather ill looking beggars on Britain's streets, the shabbiness of towns, the closed shops and worse.

        I had the good fortune to grow up in a Britain where food banks and the need for them was unheard of; where education at all levels was freely available (and taken full advantage of by most of the better off, politicians or business, in post today). Flaunting wealth in the face of poverty and ignorance or displaying the sort of arrogance, inexperience and ignorance in these comments was not admired.

        Now, I have seen young, ill-looking women with babies begging on the underground in London - no, none of the ones I saw was East European unless they learn English with a local accent. I recall visiting Dublin in the 1990s and seeing begging children, white, skinny, cold and being told that they were "tinkers". I found it depressing and incredible. Well, now parts of mainland Britain display the same. Awful. You should get out of your cars and walk around the streets of the towns and cities, not just in the more salubrious parts. By the way, in earlier times I had a job that involved very close, daily contact with the rougher side of British life on the streets. So I do have some context that I guarantee most of you as adults will not have had.

        I know the purblind will race to tell me that it is their own fault, that everything is lovely, that foreigners are queueing to enter Britain …. Those foreigners have an out-of-date view of the place and anyway, most are heading for Germany or even Italy. The fact that Britain seems a better choice than N. Africa or Syria or rural Romania is hardly surprising. But the bogey-man numbers and claims are just political propaganda now. Germany, for instance, takes twice the numbers of Britain. In fact almost every old EU member does. Even Romanians are keener on Germany and Italy than Britain. I've just been there and the big talk was of Germany.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: hay man

          There have been no cuts? Really? Where have you been? Even the government say, boast even, that there have been cuts.

          Yes, well Gordon Brown said he'd abolished boom & bust, and that wasn't true either. Public spending has risen every single year. There have been no cuts.

          leave the country for a while (a couple of years or more), then go back and try not to notice the increase in rather ill looking beggars on Britain's streets, the shabbiness of towns, the closed shops and worse.

          Beggars are most often junkies and were never in robust health. The closed shops are due to the recession - they were closed before Brown was dragged kicking and screaming from Downing street.

          Now, I have seen young, ill-looking women with babies begging on the underground in London - no, none of the ones I saw was East European unless they learn English with a local accent.

          And yet I use the Tube every day and the last beggar I saw on it was a Scottish junkie who did a fantastic rendition of Flower Of Scotland through a warning cone. That was very nearly 10 years ago now and I've seen none since.

          But the bogey-man numbers and claims are just political propaganda now.

          Are you actually just making this up as you go along or have you done any research at all to inform this wildly inaccurate view point? Net inward migration is roughly equivalanet to adding a city the size of Aberdeen to the UK every year since 1997. That is very much not sustainable - even if we could integrate that many people per year, and all evidence suggests that we cannot, and even if they did not have children, when most research suggests children born to two UK born parents are in the minority, we simply cannot cope with that level of population increase and the demands it creates on our infrastructure and services.

          Do we need immigration? Absolutely yes. Do we need open door immigration? Absolutely not. What we need is a sensible policy similar to Australia or Canada where people are admitted at the pace at which they can be integrated, and who bring with them the skill set the country needs at the time of admission.

          Living in Islington hasn't done your world view any good at all. It's not like that in the real world so you'll need to move house, then open your eyes and your mind.

  8. BongoJoe
    Childcatcher

    What about those people who have actually starved to death because they were disabled and were found "fit to work"?

    Or are we saying that now that they've been culled they're no longer poor?

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Link please?

      1. BongoJoe

        Link 1 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mark-wood-death-government-admits-3298472

        Link 2 http://samedifference1.com/2014/10/24/ian-mulholland-sanctioned-starved-jailed

        Link 3 http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/05/28/linda-wootton-dies-after-being-judged-fit-for-work_n_3346582.html

        Link 4 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2513284/Half-blind-woman-crippled-pain-killed-benefits-bosses-stopped-disability-payments--following-TWO-MINUTE-assessment.html

        ...plus countless of other suicides caused by benefits being withdrawn.

        That I am able to show one link is one link too many.

        Now how many more downvotes will this attract? It's a sad indictment that even one person downvotes these messages. I have no idea why unless its an unwillingness to accept what is actually happening to those deemed 'fit to work' by the Government's agents.

        Yes, I have a personal interest in this because if something happens to me then my wife, for whom I care for 24 hours a day, who has a crippling and incurable disease and who spends most of each day in agony and is most unable to function is 'fit to work'. We both know that if something happens to me then she will be left to starve as she has no family other than myself.

        I do wish that I were wrong and I would prefer that I was lying through my back teeth about all of this but, sadly, I am not. I feel ashamed at what this country has become and I am saddened to see that people see fit to downvote comments such as this.

        Not AC because I am standing up for those like my wife who may be left to starve if things go wrong.

        1. DragonLord

          I'm assuming that this was an atos special, if so then I would recommend appealing or re-applying as something like 80% of appeals succeed.

          Source lots of reading because my wife is also on benefits and has her atos appointment coming up soon.

          1. BongoJoe

            I wish your wife well for the up and coming interview.

            However, please be prepared for her to be passed 'fit for work'. When we went some time ago I had to help my wife into the room as she wasn't able to walk unaided that day and she had her arm in a sling due to an operation that she just had.

            The retired GP didn't examine her once, she didn't even look at the paperwork from her consultants that she offered him. In fact it would be correct to say that my wife, who was a nurse until her disease struck, was ignored by the ex-GP except when he wanted one word answers.

            "Can you walk unaided?"

            "Sometimes. But as you can see not today."

            "Can you lift both arms above your head?"

            "No"

            "Can you lift one arm above your head?"

            "Just, with great difficulty and a lot of pain"

            Passed as fit to work. It seems that my wife is able to work holding a small empty cardboard box. Some days and for only a few minutes an hour. That is, without any trace of irony or exaggeration, what they are looking for. If your wife is able to sit or stand and move an empty box from a surface to her lap or to another surface then she's fit for work.

            We got the score back saying how she's fit for work. We looked over the tick box list and we found that it was impossible for my wife to have entered that room and be certified as unfit for work. Well, there was one possibility and that my wife would have had to be double incontinent on the spot to fail the tests and that is assuming that the ex-GP would have reported it.

            I am not lying about that previous statement. We've gone over her results and that was the only possible way for her to have got the required points. In short, these tests are designed to determine that everyone who enters that room passes fit.

            I wrote a letter outlining the process and my wife's circumstances to the DWP complaining about the inhumanity of it all and how the results were flawed. Months later I received a very poorly photocopied reply from their 'Communications Team' no less saying that they refuse to accept any communications on this matter.

            That was perhaps the largest insult of them all. I understand that there is now something starting up in the broadsheets about this whole business and I really hope that more people would learn what is going on.

            My earlier post has received a number of downvotes. I have no idea why; whether that they are just trolling, employees of the DWP, have a political axe to grind or refuse to accept what is going on. Hopefully, soon everyone will learn that what happened to us could happen to anyone: before the disease my wife was a hard working senior nurse and was certainly not a dole-scrounger as portrayed by the press and the politcal parties. During the course of her career she looked after thousands of people, helped the dying, looked after the sick, had been attacked a number of times including being stabbed by a patient and when it came to her turn to ask for help no-one was there to help.

            What happened to my wife could happen to anyone's. Four years ago she was healthy, fit and able to walk anywhere. Now she can't walk twenty yards and lives each day in pain.

            Best of luck with the appointment. As I say, be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.

            Regards.

            1. DragonLord

              They cancelled her first appointment because we turned up with her in a wheel chair, and their health and safety policies wouldn't allow them to see someone in a wheelchair at that location unless they could guarantee being able to get down the stairs in the event of a fire alarm.

              Her second appointment was cancelled because they didn't have recording facilities at the site at the time they gave us, and we had requested the appointment be recorded. We're still waiting for the next appointment.

              Also everything that I've read says that the mistake your partner made is in answering as if good days exist. All the advice I've read says to answer the questions as if a bad day is your normal day. So if you can't walk 100 yards on a bad day (or normal depending on how frequent your bad days are) then you say no, not sometimes.

              Edit: while I remember, atos has lost the contract for all new appointments

              1. BongoJoe

                This beggers belief. The first is inexcusable on a number of levels: they, firstly, may have staff there who are 'fit to work' only in wheelchairs and, secondly, expecting disabled people to turn up all without wheelchairs is inexplicable.

                I take your point about my wife's comments. Her real mistake was to initially think that it was going to be fair and proper. If we'd have known then we'd have said what you suggest.

                Best of luck with interview number three.

                1. DragonLord

                  That's until you find out why that's their policy. The reason is that a fire drill happened in one of their buildings and everyone left except the man in a wheelchair that was there for his assessment, who was left by all of the staff except a security guard, who stayed with him. No one tried to carry him downstairs, or waited until the rush had gone past to do so, he was just sacrificed to the fire. The fire safety officer wasn't best pleased, and they changed their policies so that no one that needs a wheelchair is allowed to go to a facility that not on the ground floor. However their document just says that if you need additional assistance getting up and down stairs, call this number. Which as I was going with her, we didn't feel we needed additional assistance. You can google to verify this story :)

                  Also to note that the questionnaire that they use has been ruled illegal in the USA because it is discriminatory against disabled people.

                  So I say again, get your wife to appeal if it's not too late or reapply, and she should be back on benefits soon

    2. Addanc

      References?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. BongoJoe

        What about the Mark Wood case? That made national news.

  9. SVV Silver badge

    Poverty Porn?

    Did you go over to the Guardian and enjoy the story of the guy with mental health problems who starved to death because his benefits had been sanctioned?

    Well, the UKIP association at least now makes a bit of sense, go and check out the story today of their candidate for Basildon who's been recorded making racist comments and jokes about "shooting peasants".

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Poverty Porn?

      "Shooting peasants", at least I damn well hope it was, is a reference to a rather good and rather old joke.

      In the frontispiece to "1066 And All That" (originally articles in Punch in the 1930s I think) it says that there's been a printing error and so for all references to "peasants" read "pheasants" and vice versa, for all to "hostages" read "sausages" and vice versa. I may not have that quote exactly correct but that is the gist of it.

      Thus we have kings "taking sausages", "roasting hostages", "hunting peasants" and I think at one point "freeing pheasants" from feudalism.

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: Poverty Porn?

        Hmm, might have to reconsider that actually seeing the story this morning. Good riddance to him.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've always said that as long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table and a shirt on your back you're not poor. You may not consider yourself wealthy, but you are NOT poor.

    The problem is that what is in reality a luxury is now considered an essential. Earlier in the year, there was some woman on tv banging on about how poor she was and how she couldn't afford to take her kids to the cinema... How sad, my heart bleeds for you - not.

    Now if she'd said she had to sell all her furniture, the TV and everything else just to put food on her children's table, I would have agreed that she was poor. But have to go to Poundland or buy supermarket own brand instead of your favorite brand of baked beans? No, that is not being poor.

    And before anyone suggests I'm pontificating from a position of wealth, I have spent time on the dole and have taken crappy jobs to survive. And how did I survive? By tightening the belt and cutting back on all non-essentials. And that's something today's generation seem completely unable to do.

    As with Jim 59, my father too was around in the 30s, so I have a good idea from him of what being poor *really* is.

    1. captain veg

      How about "go to a food bank for your baked beans", does that qualify?

      -A.

      1. MrWibble

        Yes.

        And your point is?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        How about "go to a food bank for your baked beans", does that qualify?

        Nobody has to go to a food bank. Some people choose to do so that they may reallocate spending from food onto fags, booze, and the horses.

        I recently had some reading to do, and nowhere quiet to do it. As an experiment, I parked outside our local food bank and sat in the car reading. Not one single person walked to the food bank. All drove themselves there, and many in newer cars than I own.

        Food banks aren't what you seem to think they are.

        1. Merchman
          FAIL

          Re: foodbanks

          You do understand how foodbanks work, don't you? It appears not. You can't just turn up and expect to be given food. You have to be referred by another organisation, such as the DWP or CAB. Only then are you given food, and then only 3-days worth.

          Try learning about what you are talking about, before spouting your right-wing Daily Mail misinformation all over the place.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: foodbanks

            You can't just turn up and expect to be given food. You have to be referred by another organisation, such as the DWP or CAB. Only then are you given food, and then only 3-days worth.

            It appears that you don't understand there is no mandate to walk there to collect. Seemingly you can't comprehend why others may take the view that people arriving at a food bank in a BMW or 4x4 perhaps aren't quite suffering the inescapable, grinding poverty you emotive types ascribe to the use of food banks.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: foodbanks

              The cars could belong to volunteers making deliveries to the needy.

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: foodbanks

                The cars could belong to volunteers making deliveries to the needy

                They could have done, and on the information I supplied it's not an unreasonable hypothesis. They didn't belong to the volunteers though, or they would have been loading up more than one or two shopping bags before setting off delivering.

            2. Orv Silver badge

              Re: Foodbanks

              Perhaps. Or perhaps they've borrowed a car to get there, or are upside-down and can't sell the one they have without having the money to make up the balance. Things get complicated rather suddenly when people lose their employment.

              1. PJI

                Re: Foodbanks

                Ever occurred to you that sinking into poverty and unemployment do not require that your car vanishes nor that it takes a long time? I suspect that some of these people are hanging on to their cars as a means of transport (most of UK transport is rubbish and expensive, making a car a cheaper option in a society where cheap supermarkets and housing require transport to reach them) and perhaps in the hope that they will find some work before having to, USA style, sell off all their possessions along with their dignity.

                Trading in a good car for a cheap, small, second hand one is usually a bad move as the replacement will be less reliable and cost more to maintain. However, let's punish them when they are down. They must be criminals or incompetent, which is more or less the same.

                1. LucreLout Silver badge

                  Re: Foodbanks

                  Ever occurred to you that sinking into poverty and unemployment do not require that your car vanishes nor that it takes a long time?

                  Yes, but it's irrelevant to the point I made and to your line of argument.

                  I suspect that some of these people are hanging on to their cars as a means of transport

                  Agreed, completely.

                  Trading in a good car for a cheap, small, second hand one is usually a bad move as the replacement will be less reliable and cost more to maintain

                  Not so. There's no reason at all that a 2.x litre 3 series cannot be traded for a better quality 1.4 litre Fiesta saving money on fuel, insurance, tax and putting money in your pocket on the deal.

                  All of that pales into insignificance when you consider that owning a car does not mandate you to drive it to a food bank. If you truly can't afford to buy your own baked beans, then you certainly can't afford to buy petrol for your car. One or two lazy people might be overlooked, were most people walking, but literally nobody was. Not one single person.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, the deliberate (for profit of the rich) cult of consumerism, debt slavery by pay day and other extortion loans (funded by BoE loans direct to banks, not street level humans), state welfare for corporations (theft from taxed workers and consumers), and the resulting increased prices are what causes increasing income inequality and some real poverty. Even the adequately funded can get buried in debt if they waste too much income, but that is stupidity, scarcity blindness and greed, not poverty!

      Poverty should only be defined as struggling to pay for basic survival and employment enabling essentials by comparing total income against current and extrapolated total local living costs, not from fictional inflation adjusted income or for wasteful consumerist desires!

      Living with little money is less fun, but it can be done (I've been there!), so the Guardian Champagne Socialists should STFU, because too much emphasis on scarcity can turn financially competent humans into financial morons, so just make things worse!

      When the fraudulent West's, QE and bubble propped up, mega-leveraged financial system finally collapses after decades of financial repression we will get the Greater Depression, then you will see real poverty! Just like the Great Depression, it will have been caused by central bank and government interference in financial markets because the morons allow routine financial negligence and fraud, and refuse to allow far less damaging Recessions to complete and write off enough toxic debt to restore confidence!

  11. A Long Fellow

    Perception and reality

    I suspect that a large portion of the disaffection is founded on the schism between expectation and reality. We are constantly told of the opportunity and the golden futures awaiting us -- yet the reality falls far short for a number (an increasing number?) of people.

    From teachers to entertainment to politicians... all promising a brighter tomorrow. "You can be anything you want to be!" "Follow your passion!" "The land of opportunity!"

    Right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perception and reality

      I think there's a huge variance in how people handle being poor. I have a friend who went through some really lean times. He reckons being able to I) prepare meals from the raw ingredients up and II) do without telly and booze, pretty much saved his bacon*. Of course, anyone trying to bring up children has a different set of problems. I think a lot boils down to education (and in some cases, the fear of education). Back in the day, school taught you how to put together a basic meal.

      As for those who seem to be getting all the down votes today, I do think it is valid to point out it's wrong that people are having to go to food banks (for whatever reason) at all. This is especially true when a significant contributing factor is a flagship government IT project going tits up (at six hundred million and counting, with all the usual suspects in attendance).

      * Bad pun; poor fellow's a vegetarian.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        I) prepare meals from the raw ingredients up

        Got it in one.

        What you buy from a supermarket is not food; it's convenience. And it's astonishing how much you pay for that convenience.

        1. fruitoftheloon
          Thumb Up

          @Neil Barnes: Re: I) prepare meals from the raw ingredients up

          Neil,

          you got that right, I am amazed how many people do not realise the mark-up there is on vegetables that are in some nice placcy wrapping, as opposed to those that you put in a bag yourself, it is ENORMOUS!

          Cheers,

          j

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Perception and reality

      I suspect that a large portion of the disaffection is founded on the schism between expectation and reality. We are constantly told of the opportunity and the golden futures awaiting us -- yet the reality falls far short for a number ... of people.

      This point is illustrated in simplistic beauty at the link below:

      http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/09/why-generation-y-yuppies-are-unhappy.html

      1. Bob Wheeler

        A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn

        Can this be a QoTW?

        1. BongoJoe

          Re: A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn

          It shirely has to be a 70s prog rock album...

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: LucreLout Re: Perception and reality

        Love it!

  12. MD Rackham

    An oldie and a (not so) goodie

    It's just the old "Hey! Someone is poorer than you so shut up" argument.

    Crab bucket morality at its finest.

  13. jonathan keith

    I'm not going to argue about relative or absolute poverty here. What I am going to say is that it is inequality that is the pernicious evil in society. People may not actually *be* poor, according to some arbitrary chart, but if they see that those at the top of the ladder are vastly wealthier than they are, and that those people are getting more and more of the pie each day, as inequality grows, then those people *feel* poor, and angry to boot.

    I'm talking here about the behaviour of CEOs, bankers, the city "wealth creators" who are seemingly only creating wealth for themselves these days, shipping their profits offshore, avoiding tax and therefore placing a larger burden on everyone else. Philip Green and his Monaco-resident wife are splendid examples.

    Societies that are more equal are entirely happier and more pleasant places to live. A multitude of studies demonstrate this. Growing social inequality tends to result in civil unpleasantness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You say "wealth creators" are only creating wealth for themselves... and to some extent, rightly so! I have a reasonable job, not raking in millions or anything (~£45k), but I work damned hard for that. Just over the weekend at a Christmas party I was discussing with a friend that actually I'd quite like a simple job - gardener, barman, actually thought Park Ranger would be ideal for me (I like being outdoors). Basically, any job where I can go home, forget totally about work, and when I go in the next day I start fresh with an empty in-tray rather than coming back stressed at the mountain of work that my employer doesn't have enough people to address. It's Sunday night and rather than turning on X Factor or whatever I'm about to turn on my laptop to catch up on work.

      What's my point? That the "bankers" and similar I'm sure all work bloody hard as well, as simply whinging that "they get more than me" doesn't show any understanding of what a lot of those people have to sacrifice (in terms of home life, work-life balance, etc) to get there. Everyone makes choices and trade-offs - even politicians or footballers, with all of the complaints about how much they get paid, have to put up with an awful lot of rubbish and abuse from the public and press. Would I want their life; absolutely not!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well now...

      The banking crisis really was a blow for a friend who is a decorator. You see there are lots of people round here who commute in to work in the City, and it was traditional for them to have to whole house redecorated every year. When they stopped getting those obscene bonuses, my friend stopped getting work.

      The thing with the rich is, they don't buy much mass-produced crap. They consume services rather than stuff. The builders, flunkies, assistants, party organisers, restaurants, plane and boat maintainers have to be sourced locally so it could be that a greater proportion of the expenditure of the rich is recycled in the local economy than is the case for us who buy at Argos.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well now...

        I was in Canary Wharf when all the staff at Lehman brothers were leaving the building with their little cardboard boxes clutched to their chests.

        At the time the Jubilee line was undergoing some work so there were a lot of 'builders' sitting around.

        The saddest thing was that the builders were jeering at all these people who had lost their jobs, not stopping to think that they were just like them and almost certainly not the fat-cats and dodgy traders who had bought all that toxic risk.

        They also didn't stop to think about all those ancillary jobs that were now likely not going to be needed anymore - people who might have cleaned house for some of these workers, people who worked in local shops who were now going to see several hundred less customers.

        It made me feel sick, and I couldn't wish poverty on a nicer bunch of arseholes as those builders.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      What I am going to say is that it is inequality that is the pernicious evil in society

      Then you've never seen evil before.

      People may not actually *be* poor, according to some arbitrary chart, but if they see that those at the top of the ladder are vastly wealthier than they are, and that those people are getting more and more of the pie each day, as inequality grows, then those people *feel* poor, and angry to boot.

      Those at the top of the ladder are vastly wealthier than I will ever be. I care not a jot. It's simply not relevant. What does it matter to me if Bill Gates outbids Warren Buffet at a charity auction, or for another mansion or yacht? I was never going to buy whatever they hosed their money on. It makes no difference at all to my ability to provide for my family.

      I'm talking here about the behaviour of CEOs, bankers, the city "wealth creators" who are seemingly only creating wealth for themselves these days

      For whom should they create wealth? Just how much of the produce of my efforts do you feel entitled to claim, and why?

      Societies that are more equal are entirely happier and more pleasant places to live.

      I must be missing something here.... all this shows is that being envious of others success makes envy ridden people unhappy. Who cares? If your envy makes you unhappy, stop being envious and start improving your own situation for yourself.

      Growing social inequality tends to result in civil unpleasantness.

      Civil unpleasantness tends to result in longer jail terms and a free'r deployment of police. It'll not get you a bigger house, faster car, or a weekend on Mr Greens biggest yacht.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And where does this "wealth" come from? Do you imagine that the extraordinary income of some top bankers is their genuine value? These are the people who led us into the current situation, with their political friends assuring us that the vast salaries and bonuses are necessary to get the best bankers. If these are the best, Lord help us.

        Nobody, absolutely nobody is worth the salaries of some of these people. If they were so brilliant and useful, what are they doing just in finance? However shall we manage if they take a day off, fall ill or even, hard to imagine with all that money, die?

        No, this gap is a drag on our country and this is now being measured and reported. I regret I have got no reference to hand. But as you are so well informed I am sure you have seen the same, serious reports (I assume that even the Daily Mail and Sun may have reported them).

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          These are the people who led us into the current situation

          You keep posting this rot, for that is what it is, yet still have not explained how anyone forced Gordon Brown and Ed Balls to borrow up to £40Bn a year during the economic boom and waste that money on public sector non-jobs the country did nto need and does not want.

          Nobody, absolutely nobody is worth the salaries of some of these people.

          If you make me £100 Million in profit, I'll pay you £20 million with a smile upon my face, and I'll do that trade for as long as you're williing to do it. Then I'll pay you even more to keep you.

          Do you not see that it is envy which blinds you? Naked envy, and your own rapacious greed.

          this gap is a drag on our country and this is now being measured and reported

          Yes, but no serious newspaper views it as a problem. Sure, you have the frothy mouthed lefty rags like the Guardian (Wrong about everything, all the time) making a song and dance, but nobody outside the islington bubble or the public sector reads it these days.

          I regret I have got no reference to hand.

          You have no references or citations because you're being led by your emotions and not by facts. Its a trait all of the left seem to share.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      jonathan keith,

      You have to argue about relative or absolute poverty, for any of this discussion to be meaningful. The two can mean totally different things.

      <blockquote.People may not actually *be* poor, according to some arbitrary chart, but if they see that those at the top of the ladder are vastly wealthier than they are, and that those people are getting more and more of the pie each day, as inequality grows, then those people *feel* poor, and angry to boot.</blockquote>

      Actually inequality has gone down in the UK in this recession. Or at least had from the last figures I checked. This is becasue a lot of the rich lost quite a lot and the proportion of taxes being paid by the rich has gone up. Also because of benefits and a minimum wage, the poorest haven't got poorer - a possible exception here possibly being incapacity benefit. The people who've suffered most in this recession are probably the skilled working class / lower middle class types (in as much as those terms still have meaning).

      Also if your problem is inequality, it'll never be solved. There's always been inequality in society, and there always will be. So what arbitrary chart are you planning to use to measure this?

      I wasn't happy with the analysis from The Spirit Level. I'm not sure it ever sorted out what was correlation, and what was causation. It rather looked like it was cherry-picking it's figures in a lot of cases to make the graphs look better. And it ought to be easier to have lower inequality in small countries with relatively homogenous populations than bigger (more mixed) ones.

      Whilst inequality can be truly toxic (see Russia for example) it can also be good. Take Google for example. That's made a small number of people vastly wealthy, because they've created a company that they own a large chunk of that's gone from nothing to global behemoth in just 15 years. Google may have it's problems (privacy, monopolistic behaviour), but it's also generated loads of wealth and helped improve society. Now it might have happened in Scandinavia too, but it didn't. Most of these huge tech companies have come from the less equal USA. But The Spirit Level doesn't seem to discuss that. Like all social questions, it's horribly complicated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        did not happen in Scandinavia?

        Well, firstly, Scandinavia is not one country in any sense.

        Secondly, several advances, including those used by Google, did happen there, e.g. Linux to take just one. Python came out of Holland, also not America. Google has found these tools useful. Skype came from Norway, or was it Sweden? Anyway - quite a significant development for communications. Even Britain's big contributions, such as ARM, came from a less avaricious time.

        So, you may be right about the money sticking to a few in the USA versions. But the basis of the developments often came from places where society was more equal. And whether Linux or Angry Birds, the producers seemed to do well enough.

  14. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    "an outbreak of black footie bags"

    I think you might be confusing Spode's Blackshorts from PG Wodehouse's stories with Moseley's Blackshirts from a far less funny occasion.

    The book that brought home just how different the mid 20th C was from today is Raymond Briggs' "Ethel and Ernest", a cartoon biography of his parents. Worth reading for perspective.

  15. arrbee

    Well poverty can't be that serious because those nice coalition people are reducing universal benefit payments next year to compensate for the cost of removing air passenger duty for children flying off on jolly foreign holidays ( £100+ million ).

    Luckily the ( £30 billion) benefits for low-pay employers are not affected.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I have had to listen to someone moaning on about this regularly.

      Says you have to pay it if you go on holiday,wel I never have, I just holday in the south west.

      Doesn't think that we pay more on our road fuel taxes.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reality

    Part of my job as a debt caseworker in an advice agency involves providing qualifying clients with food vouchers. I can assure everyone hereabouts that I encounter absolute poverty in my work. I have an ever increasing number of clients who don't just have extremely low incomes but no income.

    I know of no stats which reveal this. The reason? This is a recent phonomen and stats are a lagging indicator, usually at least two years behind the curve.

    I've worked in advice for over twelve years and I'd never made a referal to a food bank till this last year. The complexity and rate of change in the benefit system means that even I am unable to keep up with all the changes. I have to rely upon colleagues who's primary focus is welfare benefits to keep me relatively informed.

    If commenters are interested they can volunteer at either a CAB or a food bank because that is the only way you will see what is actually happening.

    Excluding the debts they have been refered to me for a typical single client presents with the following:

    Income

    Job seekers allowance £72.40pw

    Expenditure

    Bedroom tax £11

    Energy £20

    Water rates £5.20

    Council tax £2.90

    Leaving £33.30 per week or £4.75 per day for travel, food, clothing and mobile phone. The phone is now the only way to connect to almost all government services. Without it you may be unable to prove you have been job searching which will, and does, result in a benefit sanction. This means you lose entitlement to JSA for a period of time

    For those aged between 18 to 25 they are only entitled to JSA at the rate of £57.40 per week leaving £18.30 per week or £3.66 per day for everything else.

    This link http://stupidsanctions.tumblr.com/ shows the kind of casual cruelty we see on a daily basis.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. The Axe

      Re: The reality

      Foodbanks are a new phenomenon because they are the result of marketing by the Trussel Trust.

      As for your example. The spare room subsidy (your use of the term Bedroom Tax shows your political leanings) can be alleviated by asking the council for a new home or getting the council to help from the fund that allows for exceptions. A mobile phone can be cheap, and cost next to nothing to use if they only use it when really necessary.

      And how do many of your cases build up their debts? Have they spent more than they earned? I suspect a majority are in that boat. Should the tax payer support all these people who can't balance their bank accounts and get into problems or should such people be allowed to learn from their mistakes.

      1. Graham Marsden

        @The Axe - Re: The reality

        > your use of the term Bedroom Tax shows your political leanings

        And your use of the term Spare Room Subsidy reveals yours, as does your claim that the Trussel Trust is "marketing" food banks. Why not go the whole hog and repeat the claim that more people are using food banks simply because they've heard from them and they're available, not out of desperation because they can't afford to buy food?

        And, if we needed any more evidence, you go for a lovely bit of victim blaming by claiming that people's own fault that they get in debt for spending more than they earn because clearly it's much better for people to be forced out of their homes into unavailable and non-existent smaller properies by this pernicious piece of legislation since it means they can no longer pay the rent on the place they live and private landlords are not interested in cutting the rents to a fair market rate.

        Bravo!

        1. Tim Worstal

          Re: @The Axe - The reality

          I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Trussell Trust is "marketing" food banks. But there has very definitely been an increase in the number of them in recent years. It's right there on their own pages, in the "about us" section. Their involvement started back in 2000, when they were involved in Romanian charity efforts. One of their bods was castigated for not caring about charity closer to home. It was from a woman whose benefits had been (can't recall whether stopped or just screwed up) who had no food for her children that night.

          By 2004 they were involved with two food banks, by 2010 there were 100 in the network etc. I'm perfectly willing to believe that there is an increase in need for food banks as a result of the current government's actions. But I would also insist, as the Trussell Trust itself does, that there was an extant need as well. And that part of the expanson of the food bank network is as a result of people working out (essentially, importing the American idea of a food bank) how to deal with that extant unmet need.

          Fine to argue about the portion of increased supply/demand in it, but necessary to acknowledge that part of it is increase in supply.

          I even recall incidents in the wider network of friends and acquaintances in the 80s and 90s of benefits being stopped/screwed up leaving people with no income at all for weeks. Food banks are in part (and as above, perfectly willing to believe that there's an increase in demand as well) an institutionalisation of what was done back then: a whip round to buy some groceries.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Facepalm

            @Tim Worstall - Re: @The Axe - The reality

            > Fine to argue about the portion of increased supply/demand in it, but necessary to acknowledge that part of it is increase in supply.

            Well, duh! Yes, more people are using food banks because more food banks are now available. They couldn't use them if they weren't there, could they?!

            However you appear to be implying that it is the food banks themselves which are driving that demand, rather than the actions of Iain Duncan Smith and his merry (expenses paid) men and women who are forcing Job Centres to deny people benefits (which they are perfectly entitled to) to a level *well* above even that of the Thatcherite era.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: @The Axe - The reality

          not interested in cutting the rents to a fair market rate.

          By definition "market rate" is what people are willing to pay. If you ask more than the market rate, you don't sell your product or service. In that sense the market rate is arguably always "fair", by definition. It matches supply to demand.

          I suspect that what you want is for landlords to adjust their rates based on some unrelated index such as RPI. That is not a "market rate" but a socially managed one. There is no reason that a private landlord should follow it.

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Phil O'Sophical - Re: @The Axe - The reality

            > By definition "market rate" is what people are willing to pay.

            There is a difference between charging a fair rent and charging all the traffic will bear, especially when, as the Bedroom Tax has done, it puts people in a position where they have to choose between eating, heating and keeping a roof over their heads.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

              There is a difference between charging a fair rent and charging all the traffic will bear,

              You persist in using the word "fair". Please be honest, what you mean is "low". It isn't a fair rent as far as the landlord is concerned, merely one that is beneficial to a tenant, which suggests that you're uninterested in actually being "fair" since that would imply equal treatment.

              puts people in a position where they have to choose between eating, heating and keeping a roof over their heads.

              Helping such people is the responsibility of government-provided social housing, not private landlords. One way to help, of course, is to make it easier for such people to move to accommodation more suited to their needs. If they insist on consuming more accommodation than they need, and cannot afford to pay for it, why should they expect taxpayer help to do so?

              1. Graham Marsden
                Boffin

                Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                > You persist in using the word "fair". Please be honest, what you mean is "low".

                No, I mean "fair". If I had meant "low" I would have said "low".

                What you see are private landlords effectively arranging their own little cartel where they don't actually bother to try to compete with each other because nobody wants to rock the boat.

                > Helping such people is the responsibility of government-provided social housing

                What a brilliant idea! What a shame that most government provided social housing that people are supposed to move into has been flogged off by the Tories to the afore-mentioned private landlords...

                Cui bono...?

                1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                  Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                  What you see are private landlords effectively arranging their own little cartel where they don't actually bother to try to compete with each other because nobody wants to rock the boat.

                  A predictable response, and one that doesn't hold water. In order for a landlord cartel to work they would need to control the supply, and they don't. The existing landlords have no way to prevent new entrants to the market. If they were somehow to manipulate prices to keep them artificially high it would simply attract more private landlords into the business, increasing supply and reducing prices.

                  And if you really think there's no competition I can only assume you've never actually looked into the market.

                  1. Graham Marsden

                    Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                    Unless you suddenly have someone with a massive property portfolio entering the system flooding the market with cheap housing AND people in existing properties were willing to up-sticks, any new entrants would make very little difference if they decided to charge half the going rent for a few rooms or even houses.

                    But, of course, what actually happens is that majority new entrants will look at the "going rate" (ie what is being charged elsewhere) and think "well if they can charge that, so can I". Sure, if they don't get any takers they may drop their prices a bit, but they're still going to charge as much as the traffic will bear.

                    And, FYI, I have looked into the market, some years ago I was considering getting into buy-to-let properties, but decided that it wasn't a good option.

                    PS But also, FYI, if I had, I was looking at what the *minimum* I could charge for rent to service the costs involved, rather than the *maximum* would be that I could get away with to make as much profit as possible.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                      I was looking at what the *minimum* I could charge for rent to service the costs involved, rather than the *maximum* would be that I could get away with to make as much profit as possible.

                      That's not running a business, that's running a charity. Good for you, but it's not the same situation.

                      1. Graham Marsden

                        @AC - Re: @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                        > That's not running a business, that's running a charity.

                        No, it's just not being stupidly greedy.

                        I also run my own business, called Affordable Leather Products. I started it over 20 years ago because of the stupidly greedy prices that some people were charging for BDSM gear at the time, eg £30 for a plain 3" wide leather collar, and that's £30 in early 1990's money, making around 500% mark-up.

                        I still make a profit on my prices, but I don't gouge my customers for every possible penny. Oddly enough, they keep coming back and buying from me...

                        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                          Facepalm

                          Re: Marsbarbrain Re: @AC - @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                          ".....I also run my own business.....BDSM gear....." That does explain a lot!

                          ".....but I don't gouge my customers for every possible penny....." 'Scuse my ignorance on the matter, and bowing to what I assume is your years of experience of self-abuse, but Shirley, in the BDSM biz, you want to be charging for gouging as well as the whipping?

                          1. Graham Marsden
                            FAIL

                            Re: Marsbarbrain @AC - @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                            Don't worry, Matt, I always excuse your ignorance.

                            I would explain, but I doubt you'd bother to take the time to understand.

                            1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                              Facepalm

                              Re: Marsbarbrain @AC - @Phil O'Sophical - @The Axe - The reality

                              "Don't worry, Matt, I always excuse your ignorance....." So, would you like me to use my 'ignorance' to explain your business? What you did was use your market knowledge (pfnaar) to identify a market gap ('quality' bondage gear for cheap-ass doms) and you exploited that market with all the zeal of a good capitalist! Hopefully that shock to your socialist pretensions will have you choking on your ball-gag.

                              ".....I would explain...." No thanks. Don't get me wrong, I support your right to whatever consensual adult sexual activity you like as long as it occurs in a legal manner in your home and has zero impact on me, but I have no interest in learning the details of your 'alternate lifestyle', thanks. It also has nothing to do with the topic of the thread. Seriously, get over yourself, you're not the centre of the World, mmmkay?

      2. BongoJoe

        Re: The reality

        "he spare room subsidy (your use of the term Bedroom Tax shows your political leanings) can be alleviated by asking the council for a new home"

        There are problems here. The first is that in a lot of areas there are no smaller houses available. Secondly, if a spare house does become available and you're on benefits just how are they, who have no transport of their own, going to afford to actually move house?

        1. Marcus Aurelius
          Holmes

          Re: The reality

          In actual fact if the council are unable to offer you a smaller home, then you are allowed to use that as a legitimate reason not to pay the bedroom tax.

          Incidentally, you can rent out your spare room and earn up to about £5k a year tax free. Obviously some of this will be subject to benefits clawback, but the net effect will be positive.

          As for moving home, there are discretionary grants available to assist in this sort of activity.

          1. Graham Marsden

            @Marcus Aurelius - Re: The reality

            Yes, there are, supposedly, measures in place. However they are difficult to access, long winded, slow to operate and don't help much when you're still trying to pay rent and may have had your benefits sanctioned too.

            And would *you* want to have to have a stranger move into your home?

    3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: The reality

      "Excluding the debts they have been refered to me for a typical single client presents with the following: Income: Job seekers allowance £72.40pw"

      Surely as a typical single person on JSA they'd also get housing benefit and council tax benefit? A typical single-person on-the-dole income is around £130-£140 a week (it was when I was on the dole in the 1990s).

      And I notice he doesn't appear to have any housing costs. How does he manage to wrangle that?

  17. Uncle Ron

    Thank You

    This is a nice piece of work. Thanks. On this side of the pond, I'm saddened to know that 14 percent of American households (17.5 million households) are food insecure. If you don't know the definition of what that means, look it up. The income gap may be wider and growing faster here than in Britain.

    I hope to the lord god that many in the UK, and in America, believe what I feel is a truly important idea in the article: "I'm very much a believer in the idea that rather the point of this whole having an economy thing is to make poor people better off." I firmly agree that you can be a capitalist and a greater democrat at the same time. It's been a few thousand years, but one "enlightened" philosopher knew this a long time ago, "An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." ...Plutarch

    1. kwhitefoot

      Re: Thank You

      I think the Plutarch quote makes a good point; but did Plutarch actually say it? See https://codeandculture.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/fake-plutarch/

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: Thank You

      "14 percent of American households (17.5 million households) are food insecure. If you don't know the definition of what that means, look it up. The income gap may be wider and growing faster here than in Britain."

      The income gap in the US probably is larger than in the UK. And food insecure means that, at some point in the previous month/12 months (depends upon the measurement method) the household was not sure where the next few meals were going to come from. It really is a measure of the security of food supply, not of gaps in that food supply. Very useful at measuring what it says it measures.

  18. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Ah right...

    * A bit of disclosure, I've worked for Ukip, know Farage, been an MEP candidate. At no time were perfect perishers nor black footie bags in evidence.

    SAY NO MORE

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah right...

      Re: the "SAY NO MORE" point.

      A bit of disclosure of my own: one of my closest friends is from Eastern Europe, came over here, earned their degree in a second language, putting themselves through uni in a variety of jobs, working hard for years. Another good friend is from a different part of Eastern Europe, building a career here in the arts & while building that doing whatever jobs are around to pay bills. I have less than NO time for Mr Farage.

      However, at least he has had a job in his life, contributed something in some way. Unlike the other high profile "gentleman" on the TV with him last week, who it seems has never had a "real world" (ie non-showbusiness, non-politics) job and couldn't even manage to do the second year of a tax-payer funded arts school because he'd been thrown out for non-attendance and drug use, and yet gets airtime and is taken equally seriously?

      The author of this piece has not penned a Farage-praising, UKIP-supporting diatribe deserving a shouty "SAY NO MORE", he has written a thought-provoking article. I'd rather think "I agree with him on that, but this bit i don't" than "this guy worked with someone i don't like very much so I will SHOUT AT HIM". I'm sure you didn't mean to imply thinking is bad., but attacking the author for his affiliations rather than his views ? Really?

      1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        Re: Ah right...

        Some of your best friends are from eastern Europe?

      2. a_pile_of_shit

        Re: Ah right...

        From Wikipedia:

        "Worstall is a supporter of the UK Independence Party (UKIP),[13] stood as a candidate for London in the European Parliament election, 2009,[13][14] and acted as the party's press officer."

        So pretty much a mouth-piece for UKIP don't you think?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Ah right...

          And what do you stand for? As it would be nice to know your biases, so I can assess your contribution to the discussion. Oh no, that's right, you haven't made any.

          You've attacked the author for the party he's affiliated with, but not any of the arguments he's made. So you've contributed fuck-all of value. Please come back when you've a problem to point out with the argument that he's actually bothered to make.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: Ah right...

            You've attacked the author for the party he's affiliated with, but not any of the arguments he's made. So you've contributed fuck-all of value.

            Sometimes, just sometimes, those gold badges are so very well deserved. It's a good point beautifully made.

        2. fruitoftheloon
          Thumb Down

          @a pile of shit: Re: Ah right...

          Is what you are talking, how you can join up those dots and come to your conclusion is so sad I genuinely find it to be rib tickling...

          J

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Ah right...

      J.R. Hartley,

      Perhaps you'd like to contribute constructively to the discussion, perhaps even with some actual arguments. As opposed to chucking random, unfunny, catty comments at other people, while adding fuck-all of actual use?

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Ah right...

        Perhaps you'd like to contribute constructively to the discussion, perhaps even with some actual arguments. As opposed to chucking random, unfunny, catty comments at other people, while adding fuck-all of actual use?

        I ain't Spartacus

        You're new round here then. Wait, wat?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ah right...

        Actually, I agree with Hartley. That is how I read the comment too. Much the same vein as saying, "Nothing against xzy, why, some of my best friends are xyz. But …."

        I have to say, I always find it incredible how one-eyed so many comments here tend to be. Still, I suppose IT types have a bit of a reputation.

        Memo to self: wipe this site from my bookmarks.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Ah right...

          I have to say, I always find it incredible how one-eyed so many comments here tend to be. Still, I suppose IT types have a bit of a reputation.

          Memo to self: wipe this site from my bookmarks.

          Try not to let the door hit you on the arse on your way out.

  19. Graham Marsden

    Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

    Rather than address the actual issue, TW decides it's much easier to engage in another round of his favourite hobby of Leftie-Bashing instead because that allows him to aim at a set of goalposts which are more to his liking as he triumphantly proves the Grauniad wrong.

    Well, bravo, Tim! Congratulations! You've managed to completely ignore the problem, but you can pat yourself on the back secure in the knowledge that you've done good according to your (and Nigel's) political lights whilst carefully avoiding mentioning how, for instance, Nigel's plans would actually mean a whole lot of people would end up worse off whilst those at the top of the income pile would get even richer.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Marsbarbrian Re: Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

      Rather than address the actual issue, GM decides it's much easier to engage in another round of his favourite hobby of Leftie denial.....

      TFTFY

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: Marsbarbrian Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

        Matt Bryant BINGO!!!

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Marsbarbrian Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

          "Matt Bryant BINGO!!!" And your point? Oh, you were just making mine.

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: Marsbarbrian Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

            No, Matt, I just don't have the time and the inclination to play Chase the Goalposts with you right now...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bryant

        As opposed to Righty denial.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Oh, well *that's* alright, then...

      Graham Marsden,

      This wasn't an article about UKIP. It was an article on the meaning of the figures that get thrown around in the discussions. Hence it's a useful attempt to be informative.

      Mostly the author is also quite clear where he's reporting on the facts, and what the stats mean. As opposed to where he's making comment about his personal opinion. Although there's always the risk that he's cherry-picking data. And he does tend to chuck in a bit of anti-Guardian snark.

      It's certainly not a comment on Nige's policies. Have UKIP even got any policies that don't get junked after the first contact with the enemy journalists?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I agree with Tim Worstall

    People were poorer in real terms (and the poorest were very poor) back in the 1930's.

    In the modern era people in general are much better off and the poorest are still better off.

    What I find interesting is the coincidence between Government spending as a percentage of GDP and the whole of the country (poor and rich alike) getting better off.

    'Public spending in the United Kingdom has steadily increased from 12 percent of GDP in 1900 to 47 percent today. '

    http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/past_spending

    Now if we reduce public spending as a percentage of GDP back to 1930's levels (25 - 30%), would it be a coincidence that we all (rich and poor alike) collectively get poorer.

    I wonder if it isn't coincidence but correlation after all.

    1. sed gawk

      Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

      One's life chances are measurably less dynamic then once was possible.

      Yes, the poor are in relative terms richer than historically the poor have ever been, but it's harder now to change one's life by dint of honest effort.

      Education used to be the primary social ladder, it's now very difficult to educate oneself out of a subsistence level to a more comfortable existence.

      Life expectancy is indeed better, but good, cheap food requires knowledge and time to prepare, time is something which is in short supply, as the less you earn, the more likely you'll spend some of your time in traveling to allow for cheaper rent.

      It's this double effect of watered down education and housing insecurity that makes people feel poor.

      It's as much a mental issue as a lack of funds, not to blame someone for how they feel.

      To earn enough to make a significant change to one's life is out of reach for most "poor" people.

      To put that in perspective, you're less likely to risk being in debt from a poor background, less likely to risk being out of work while you retrain, less likely to be able to afford childcare and risk falling behind on bills.

      Yes, there are feckless people, but frankly we are a rich enough society that the small number of people, who are determined not to work are not worth fighting over.

      Poor is not about money, it's about opportunity, it's about expectation, it's about the consequences of risking failure while trying to improve one's life.

      Less people are prepared to suffer the consequences of failure than once were, and that makes us all poorer.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

        Education used to be the primary social ladder, it's now very difficult to educate oneself out of a subsistence level to a more comfortable existence.

        No it isn't, and I challenge you to provide a single meaningful citation to show that it is.

        For my own part, I'll cite the completely free courses available on the internet, the wealth of practical "how to" movies on You Tube, much of the worlds knowledge being accessible by internet, and the open availability of finance for further education.

        time is something which is in short supply, as the less you earn, the more likely you'll spend some of your time in traveling to allow for cheaper rent.

        Not true. I commute more than 16 hours a week and have time to prepare home cooked nutritious food for my family. Laziness may explain it, but time or distance travelled for work does not.

        To earn enough to make a significant change to one's life is out of reach for most "poor" people.

        Citation required. I grew up in a "poor" household, as did my siblings. We all have degrees. We all have high incomes. None of us are clever, pretty, or talented. So I know from personal experience you're talking rubbish.

        Poor is not about money, it's about opportunity, it's about expectation, it's about the consequences of risking failure while trying to improve one's life.

        Poor is definately partly about money. Its certainly initiated by it, however, being poor doesn't prevent you from working harder, educating yourself more today than you were yesterday, and doing something different.

        The internet provides opportunity for all. Literally anyone can setup a business, learn the basics of a trade (to a standard sufficient to gain additional income), study academic subjects, or learn to code.

        Only you can manage your expectations. Allowing them to exceed your abilities requires that you be dissapointed or that you increase your abilities.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

          "For my own part, I'll cite the completely free courses available on the internet, the wealth of practical "how to" movies on You Tube, much of the worlds knowledge being accessible by internet, and the open availability of finance for further education."

          I challenge you to find an employer who will accept such "knowledge" as equivalent to a qualification from a recognised institution that costs money.

          Depending upon the business, setting one up requires money for basics such as legal advice, financial advice, any government registrations, equipment (telephone, computer, desk, transport, paper, perhaps specialised machinery or software, smart clothes for visiting possible clients, advertising ...). It also requires customers, ideas .... One does not just "set up a business", as the vast majority of readers must admit.

          As for "hard work": I work in a warm office. I work very long hours, get exhausted, sacrifice much of my family and leisure life. Nevertheless, I do not denigrate those in "simple" jobs such as tradesmen, gardeners, brick layers. I know that they are often without income because of bad weather, injury, recession and so on. I know that most physical jobs wear the body out at an age when my sort of worker is just getting into his stride and earning real money.

          I also know that, the higher one gets towards "senior" management, the more one relies on those "below" and the less onerous the work, added to which with today's morals, most do not even have the grace to take the responsibility and the self-sacrifice that their extraordinry salary is meant to reward when things go wrong. I work in a finance branch where senior managers get fixed expense allowances fo $40,000 a month plus pay, plus pension, plus bonus - and these are not in jobs requiring travelling. This is normal in the large finance branch employing me (but in IT, so no cut for me),

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

            I challenge you to find an employer who will accept such "knowledge" as equivalent to a qualification from a recognised institution that costs money.

            Nobody, in the history of my employment (save one) ever checked my educational qualifications with the issuing institution. That informs how much esteem they are actually held. I have, however, had to demonstrate my capability at every interview with a technical test, precisely because employers don't feel that formal qualifications are sufficient proof of anything.

            Taking your point, however, it is now cheaper to gain a formal qualification that at almost any other time in history. An MSc can be had for less than the price of the cheapest new car on the market - it may not be from a top flight institution, but then a Dacia Sandero isn't exactly a top flight car.

            Depending upon the business, setting one up requires money for basics such as ...

            Yes, some do. Many don't. Thanks to sole trader status, you don't even need a Ltd Company. I could set up as a decorator with minimal equipment based upon information already online. Or an app developer using completely free software and equipment available at the local library using their PC, for free - it doesn't have to make a lot of money, just enough to reinvest in better equipment or opportunities.

            You can become a certified locksmith for little over £1200 including a basic toolset. This may be enough to get started if you're coming from nothing. It won't make you a master locksmith with top flight earnings, but it should provide another income stream on top of whatever minimum wage job is used to fund the training. It'll not be the greatest of training nor will it be the greatest of qualifications, but it's a start (and one based upon a friend who's business started this way and is now in its fifth year of trading).

            Nevertheless, I do not denigrate those in "simple" jobs such as tradesmen, gardeners, brick layers.

            Nor do I, and I can't for the life of me think why you would suggest I might. I've done many jobs in many places before landing in an office. And I certainly don't consider most trades as "simple", it's just a different type of skill.

            I know that most physical jobs wear the body out at an age when my sort of worker is just getting into his stride and earning real money.

            Which is why many move into the tuition side of things at that time, or seek a different type of work once the kids leave home and the mortgage is paid off.

            I work in a finance branch where senior managers get fixed expense allowances fo $40,000 a month plus pay, plus pension, plus bonus - and these are not in jobs requiring travelling. This is normal in the large finance branch employing me (but in IT, so no cut for me)

            Why do you feel that their pay has any relevance to your own? Would you feel happier about it if you did get a cut? Sorry, but it sounds like envy rather than a constructive objection. If they have 40k a month expenses, then they're not competing with you for the things you'd be buying, so have zero impact upon your ability to provide for yourself or your family.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

              1. if you can find a library still open, I doubt they will be happy if you hog their machines and try to install your development tools so you can develop your app., nor grant you an email account and probably no way to get your app uploaded to somewhere else.

              2. You underestimate the training and skills of a locksmith and just how much £1200 pounds is to someone with no money. You also seem to assume that success is guaranteed.

              3. I work in places where they do look at your qualifications. I move around and most countries will not take a punt on somebody without formal, verifiable qualifications, if only because they have plenty of such people already and are looking to fill the gap that those people can not fill. I am sure that most people in IT, for instance, will not get a job on the strength of some self-taught, no-experience course unless they are prepared to lie convincingly and hope no one takes up the references.

              4. Tell me how many brick layers or roofers can go into teaching and teaching what.

              5. My quip about getting a cut was meant to emphasise the corruption of the system, not my desire to be part of it. But at this stage (near retirement) I need the (rather decent) income and at least am not involved in the worst parts of the business. And, of course pay across one's field of work is relevant. If you have got neither the imagination nor experience to see that then I waste not time trying to explain it to you. Suffice to say that I doubt you would be content to see a colleague getting twice your salary. I am sure you would have some feelings about it and not just, "Ooh, if I work harder I shall get more than him".

              6. I got my degrees in the 70s and 80s. My first degree was fully covered by a grant, for both fees and living expenses as was that of most people then. I did have to pay for my MSc (I had been abroad for few years and fees had come in). They were less than one third of the cost of the first year of an undergraduate course today. My daughter did a Master's course a couple of years ago. I forget the exact cost but it was considerably more. Education today is expensive with less chance of a job paying enough to pay off the loan afterwards, as the government lender is finding out.

              One thing is clear, you have never been in a bad enough position to have to follow your own theories and have no idea about public computing facilities or actual costs in real life.

              1. LucreLout Silver badge

                Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

                if you can find a library still open, I doubt they will be happy if you hog their machines and try to install your development tools so you can develop your app., nor grant you an email account

                Google will give you an account for free. Laptops can be bought for just £30 on ebay, which is only one days pay even at minimum wage. Assuming you can't use the library computer or any other free PC that is.

                You underestimate the training and skills of a locksmith and just how much £1200 pounds is to someone with no money. You also seem to assume that success is guaranteed.

                I doubt that very much since one of my best mates runs his own locksmithing business fromt he midlands. Like I said, its how he got started and he's 5 years into it. Its an additional part time job for 16 weeks once tax is paid.

                I am sure that most people in IT, for instance, will not get a job on the strength of some self-taught, no-experience course unless they are prepared to lie convincingly

                I'm the oldest person on my desk with a degree. None of the three people older than me have any formal qualifications and several of the younger ones don't.

                Tell me how many brick layers or roofers can go into teaching and teaching what

                The best teacher I ever had was a former plumber. Alternatively they can train the next generation of roofers, brickies etc, or simply hobbyists who want to build a small wall in the garden. Such courses exist: I have attended some, all were taught by older ex-tradesmen.

                Suffice to say that I doubt you would be content to see a colleague getting twice your salary. I am sure you would have some feelings about it

                Several of the contractors do get twice my salary once taxes are factored in. It makes zero difference to me. Of the permies, I have the best technical skills, most experience, and I'm the best negotiator. I'd be impressed if any at my level earned twice what I do.

                They were less than one third of the cost of the first year of an undergraduate course today

                An under graduate BSc can be had for as little as £12k, without shopping around. See my earlier link which I picked only because it was the first google hit - cheaper options may abound.

                £12k is overtime money or seasonal job money. At just £4k per year, I refuse to believe that any working person can't finance that by working a few years first and saving up.

                One thing is clear

                That you're argument was founded upon fiction and lacks any credible evidence? Yes, I'd agree.

                you have never been in a bad enough position to have to follow your own theories

                It's how I learned to code. The library computer, the school computer, friends computers... anyt hat weren't being used. Eventually, I got my own.

                have no idea about public computing facilities

                I use public free wifi all the time. Every week, in fact. There is lots to be had and it's fast enough to use for study. Laptops are so cheap on ebay that the cost is negligible.

                actual costs in real life

                Yes, because the shops nearme all take monopoly money instead of actual cash. FFS.

        2. sed gawk

          Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

          @ Matt Byrant - do fuck off, you're a blight on this forum and the personification of the need for killfiles.

          @ Lurelout, Just to get this out of the way, I started from fuck all and, I don't in point of fact hold a degree, I do run a business, and I'm doing very well ta very much, so less of the class warrior guff thanks, I don't really need to give you the full flannel nor do I intend to get into who had a more difficult start, it's beneath me and beneath you.

          I'm very glad that you managed to make a difference to your circumstances, as did I, I still think it's harder now and I don't fancy my chances if I was doing it now, hence my original post.

          Just to clarify a point, "difficult" doesn't mean "impossible", which seems to be the general theme of your post, the clue is in the different spelling.

          (1) I got an education thanks to a scheme which was shut down in 1997 by the incoming New Labor government, nothing has since replaced it to my knowledge (happy to be corrected) In essence, it paid for smart kids from poor backgrounds to go to private schools, hence I got access to the likes of the Acorn Archimedes and a decent grounding in maths and science.

          So, the early start in computing which formed the bedrock of my career wouldn't have been available to me had I been born some twenty years later.

          (2) I choose not to do a degree as I was already working in industry by the time I was eighteen, had I chosen to do a degree, it would have cost me the princely sum of zero pounds on a grant.

          Today that degree would be both less likely to be as rigorous and would involve acquiring a debt of at least twenty-seven thousand pounds (9k per year, three years for undergrad) http://www.city.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/computer-science

          These two things alone make educating oneself more "difficult", not "impossible" but more "difficult", and if being nearly 30k in the hole before you start doesn't give you pause, your benchmark for being poor is out of kilter.

          (3) The internet (I think you mean the web), and you're right, no-one trusts a degree now, as they've been watered down to homeopathic levels, hence coding tests and basic complexity questions in interviews for senior staff. A deluge of data, and very little information, without a guide, who will steer you away from schild thttp://www.seebs.net/c/c_tcn4e.html and towards K&R ? YouTube videos, really, had you name checked MIT's open courseware, I'd have given you a pass but YouTube by his noodly fucking appendages.

          (4) Just to follow up, so you're poor right, your access to the net is likely on a prepay dongle, which is charging you some 15 quid a Gig http://www.vodafone.co.uk/shop/dongles-and-mobile-wi-fi/, and you want to learn by watching videos, how about reading, in a library if you can find one, is that too "last gen" for you.

          (5) Libraries were a feature of my childhood, adolescence and early career, they are a hollow fucking joke now.

          So to recap, education more expensive, more data of indeterminate quality until you are clued up enough to filter the bull for yourself, "learn to code" http://decoded.com/uk/code-in-a-day/ seriously, learn to be a proper programmer, in one short lifetime.

          "Not true. I commute more than 16 hours a week and have time to prepare home cooked nutritious food for my family. Laziness may explain it, but time or distance travelled for work does not."

          (6) woopdy fucking doo da, try working three jobs in every fast food shithole known to man as they don't pay a living wage, and they won't let you work enough hours to turn a poverty wage into provision for oneself, see how much you feel like cooking once you've had your three showers to rinse the stench of grease from your skin - then lecture people on proper food preparation.

          I commuted from the UK to main land Europe, it's a piece of piss, taxi to the airport, breakfast in the sky, taxi to my desk, taxi to the airport, dinner in the sky, taxi home, much more than sixteen hours a week, not the same hours, not by a country mile, my son.

          (7) To earn enough to make a significant change to one's life is out of reach for most "poor" people.

          This is fairly simple, most people derive their income from work, if their work never pays them enough money to allow them to "upskill" (fucking americanisms, it's however apropos), they'll at best stay where they are or more realistically go down (inflation rearing its ugly head). Hat's off to McDonalds here as being the only employer paying poverty wages willing to let someone work a twenty-three hour shift, no sarcasm here, if they pay you fuck all an hour, the least someone can do is allow you the *option* of working until you drop.

          (8) You say your not "clever, pretty, talented", neither am I, but I grafted my arse off, I worked and studied and worked, the effort required to change my life, was *non-trivial* most people can't work like that and frankly neither could I now days, I was lucky to be young and stubborn, scratch that I was lucky full stop, don't turn your back on the lady, she's a fickle mistress.

          (9) The s/internet/web/ provides a way for porn to become free, programmers to bitch to one another, and for the great unwashed, a way to see what bulletin boards would have been like with more pictures of cats.

          It's a network and an application layer protocol, not the second fucking coming, with extra cherries.

          The web is a library without the benefit of indexing or peer review, where the "wisdom of crowds" prevail, not to say there nothing of value online, there about the same amount of useful information as was always there, just many orders of magnitude more dross, still without curated content, it's not really that useful for the uninitiated, hence the booming success of IRC as a service ( twitter), Html with css as a service (facebook).

          (10) It's educational value is great if you understand what you are looking for and looking at, if you are starting to teach yourself a subject you know nothing about, not so much. Don't believe me, find a functional recipe for black powder online, report back with all your fingers.

          (11) In summary, get off your high horse, and off my lawn.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

            'It's a network and an application layer protocol, not the second fucking coming, with extra cherries.'

            I gave you an upvote for that line alone

            > have one on me for the rest.

            1. sed gawk
              Pint

              Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

              cheers, I get a bit ranty after a long day, have one with me

          2. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

            I'm very glad that you managed to make a difference to your circumstances, as did I, I still think it's harder now and I don't fancy my chances if I was doing it now, hence my original post.

            I think I'd find it easier now. Information is cheaper and more accessible. Tuition is cheaper (not all subjects may be mastered within the state education system, even when grants were avilable for uni). Prospective employers are more accessible. The internet means I can produce and sell software 24x7.

            it paid for smart kids from poor backgrounds to go to private schools

            Good for you, and shame it got shut down. I was never one of the smartest kids but I've always believed opportunities like that should exist. Why waste our brightest minds simply because they;re working class?

            Today that degree would be both less likely to be as rigorous and would involve acquiring a debt of at least twenty-seven thousand pounds (9k per year, three years for undergrad)

            Or, you could always do a distance learning dgree for about £12k

            http://www.herts.ac.uk/uhonline/online-courses/information-technology-online-degree-bsc-hons

            The best bit is that you'll be able to work while funding it. Had this been an option when I was young, I would be a very rich man by now, because I'd have bought a nice house back when they were cheap and would have had no university debt (grants didn't cover books, food, rent etc by the time I went).

            YouTube videos, really, had you name checked MIT's open courseware, I'd have given you a pass but YouTube by his noodly fucking appendages.

            It does, but it also has more practical content than MIT, if you wish to persue a trade or even just repair your own home without having to stump up for a tradesman to visit. I've done a couple of crypto courses online myself and to say they were of a very high calibre would be an understatement.

            so you're poor right, your access to the net is likely on a prepay dongle, which is charging you some 15 quid a Gig and you want to learn by watching videos, how about reading, in a library if you can find one, is that too "last gen" for you.

            Books are excellent. I'm reading several just now. You missed free wifi off your list though. I frequently used to use it at service stations, shopping malls, coffee shops etc when on call and its certainly fast enough to use the internet for research and learning.

            Libraries were a feature of my childhood, adolescence and early career, they are a hollow fucking joke now. So to recap, education more expensive, more data of indeterminate quality until you are clued up enough to filter the bull for yourself...

            Libraries still exist, or at least my local one does, though I accept they are a shadow of their former selves... if only people had used them... like say those persuing knowledge to better their situation while on a low income?

            Education is not more expensive. £12k for a full BSc degree. It means you can do a BSc and an MSc cheaper than what I ran up in rent while doing my first degree. I see where you're going regarding quality of tuition, but even allowing some falling standards, an MSc has to be equivalent tot he BSc when I did mine, and it was well worth having.

            most people derive their income from work, if their work never pays them enough money to allow them to "upskill" they'll at best stay where they are

            Even taking minimum wage, you'd only need an additional part time job of 17 hours per week in order to fund the 4k fees while keeping everything you earn today. So work overtime for three years then study for three and you have your BSc. The income increase from that will be enough to fund the MSc and now you're made. Oh, I already deducted taxes from the minimum wage and assumed no assitance at all.

            I grafted my arse off, I worked and studied and worked, the effort required to change my life, was *non-trivial* most people can't work like that

            I think you're doing most peopel a disservice, or you worked considerably harder than I. I believe most people capable of doing what I did because I've seen so many others do the same.

            It's a network and an application layer protocol, not the second fucking coming, with extra cherries.

            ROFL. Best description I've heard of it to date. The internet is a vast opportunity and open market for those that wish to use it. I wish I had the motivation to use it properly rather than mostly browsing... I could be getting paid for content (Give me a Guardian OpEd piece and watch the page hits fly while they go into meltdown seeing who can disagree with me the most), or writing and retailing software to do things.

            find a functional recipe for black powder online, report back with all your fingers.

            In the days before the web I had a small library of these culled from Gopher and FTP. In these post 9/11 times, I'm not even going tot hink about looking for that, sorry. And yes, I destroyed my small library many moons ago before it was verbotten to have such.

            In summary, get off your high horse

            Yeah... I'm not the one pretending what we did was beyond most people, or that most people are incapable of learning unguided. Anyone can better their situation in the UK, literally anyone without sever disability, if only they're motivated to try.

            1. sed gawk
              Pint

              Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

              I think I'd find it easier now. Information is cheaper and more accessible.

              *Data* requires processing to turn it into *information*, there is *more data*, not *more information*, again you need a guide to help you tell the difference.

              Just a small example, I think someone really did fly a plane into the twin towers, I also think man walked on the moon, there is huge amounts of data on the web which appears to contradict these viewpoints,

              without some basic knowledge, it's quite hard to make educated judgements of the quality of a data source.

              Tuition is cheaper (not all subjects may be mastered within the state education system, even when grants were avilable for uni). Prospective employers are more accessible. The internet means I can produce and sell software 24x7

              A logistics operation allow one to trade twenty-four hours a day, three people on eight hour shifts let you keep a phone answered around the clock, I'm not sure how you make the leap from your web server being on all the time, to a logistics operation, I've set a few up for customers, they take quite a bit of effort and cash.

              I get that customers can look at products all the time, like the Littlewoods catalog and telephone shopping, perhaps? The web basically changed the cost of distribution for certain things e.g. product catalogs, it reduced the marginal cost for other things, e.g. spam, but basically it has had a less profound effect than it's credited with, I'm open to being convinced but other than search which is a new business if you ignore the phone directories, advertising (that disruptive new business model) is what makes money online.

              Good for you, and shame it got shut down. I was never one of the smartest kids but I've always believed opportunities like that should exist. Why waste our brightest minds simply because they;re working class?

              I was lucky enough to have a wonderful primary school teacher who gave a shit about the kids under her care, my only contribution was passing the entrance exam, it's her achievement as much if not more than it was mine, more so as my parents wouldn't have known about it without her.

              Or, you could always do a distance learning dgree for about £12k

              Firstly unless you get a degree from a Russell group uni, now days I'd say don't bother, it doesn't confer the advantage it used to, which it also my secondary point about it being more difficult to "level up", all you had to do before was get a desmond or better degree and you had a better than average chance, now it just means you're in debt, and it's not a point of differentiation, as everyone has one.

              The best bit is that you'll be able to work while funding it. Had this been an option when I was young, I would be a very rich man by now, because I'd have bought a nice house back when they were cheap and would have had no university debt (grants didn't cover books, food, rent etc by the time I went).

              The OU started taking students in 1971 and nowadays most degrees count for nothing, with certain exceptions.

              It does, but it also has more practical content than MIT, if you wish to persue a trade or even just repair your own home without having to stump up for a tradesman to visit. I've done a couple of crypto courses online myself and to say they were of a very high calibre would be an understatement.

              YouTube may well be a good source of data for something visual, but I can't really take it seriously as a teaching tool, nor recommend it in good conscience.

              Books are excellent. I'm reading several just now. You missed free wifi off your list though. I frequently used to use it at service stations, shopping malls, coffee shops etc when on call and its certainly fast enough to use the internet for research and learning.

              You need portable computing equipment, at a few hundred quid, or a smartphone which is really more of a consumption device then a creation platform, so not sure how free wifi somewhere where your presence costs money really counts as free, I'm fairly sure if you rock up to starbucks and sit without buying anything for long enough, they'll turf you out on your ear, I suppose you could go from shop to shop but it not sure that's that conducive to learning, it would be cheap.

              Libraries still exist, or at least my local one does, though I accept they are a shadow of their former selves... if only people had used them... like say those persuing knowledge to better their situation while on a low income?

              Libraries are being shut down, for several reasons, it's discussion all of its own, suffice it to say that its a happy coincidence that a less educated population is easier to control.

              Education is not more expensive. £12k for a full BSc degree. It means you can do a BSc and an MSc cheaper than what I ran up in rent while doing my first degree. I see where you're going regarding quality of tuition, but even allowing some falling standards, an MSc has to be equivalent tot he BSc when I did mine, and it was well worth having. 12K is a lot of money, not for me, and not for you, but 12k is more than some people earn in a year. If you are on the dole, you'll get about 65 quid a week of actual cash (leaving aside benefits in kind, like housing benefit and council tax benefit, as you basically don't see them) that's (52 * 65) = 3,380.0 per year of actual money, for food, and bills, it might as well be twelve million.

              most people derive their income from work, if their work never pays them enough money to allow them to "upskill" they'll at best stay where they are

              Even taking minimum wage, you'd only need an additional part time job of 17 hours per week in order to fund the 4k fees while keeping everything you earn today. So work overtime for three years then study for three and you have your BSc. The income increase from that will be enough to fund the MSc and now you're made. Oh, I already deducted taxes from the minimum wage and assumed no assitance at all.

              In our country, you can legally pay a nineteen year old worker £2.73 an hour https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates, which assuming fifty weeks per year, forty hours per week, is 5,460.0.

              By the way, this means your 2,000 hours of labor earns you 1.04 over sitting at home on JSA (5460 - 3380.0) / 2000.0 = 1.04 oh and you'd lose council tax/housing benefits.

              I think you're doing most peopel a disservice, or you worked considerably harder than I. I believe most people capable of doing what I did because I've seen so many others do the same.

              I can't speak to your experience, perhaps it would have been easier for me had I known then what I know now, but I genuinely feel that both education confers less advantage than it once did, and the kind of jobs I did are both harder to come by and worse paid, while housing and all other costs of living are higher.

              It's a network and an application layer protocol, not the second fucking coming, with extra cherries.

              ROFL. Best description I've heard of it to date. The internet is a vast opportunity and open market for those that wish to use it. I wish I had the motivation to use it properly rather than mostly browsing... I could be getting paid for content (Give me a Guardian OpEd piece and watch the page hits fly while they go into meltdown seeing who can disagree with me the most), or writing and retailing software to do things.

              find a functional recipe for black powder online, report back with all your fingers.

              In the days before the web I had a small library of these culled from Gopher and FTP. In these post 9/11 times, I'm not even going tot hink about looking for that, sorry. And yes, I destroyed my small library many moons ago before it was verbotten to have such.

              Gopher that made me smile. You have no intention of using that knowledge for evil purpose, yet you fear even the taint of its association and that in and of itself is not an issue, not a barrier in your educational path?

              So no teaching yourself chemistry then, really read that again and please tell me that is not acceptable, I liked making things go bang as a kid, science is fun, fuck anyone who wants to paint a box around knowledge, my actions are what should count, frankly it won't keep me out of prison if the .gov really wants to push the point, but fuck em anyway.

              Yeah... I'm not the one pretending what we did was beyond most people, or that most people are incapable of learning unguided. Anyone can better their situation in the UK, literally anyone without sever disability, if only they're motivated to try.

              The high horse is in response to the blatant assumption that I'm saying "don't bother" from a position of ignorance and the frankly patronizing tone of your first response, a tone which is *markedly* absent from this response.

              But, I don't say it's beyond most people, I just don't think the social ladders are as numerous as they were, I don't think the degree helps like it used to, I don't think that its easy and just getting by has got harder, it takes a lot of work to make it, and I think it's harder in almost every way, you clearly disagree and that's your right.

              I admit that my view is coloured by my experience, I genuinely hope that it's less bleak than it appears to this cynical old sod.

              I can't really find it in me to blame you for your optimism, even if I think you are misguided.

              Have a drink with me.

              1. LucreLout Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

                Just a small example, I think someone really did fly a plane into the twin towers, I also think man walked on the moon, there is huge amounts of data on the web which appears to contradict these viewpoints,

                Just what kind of swivvel-eyed loon are you?! Coming on here with these rational views ;-)

                I'd agree the web is full of guff, but genuinely believe all you need to filter it is to keep an eye on the quality of the source - are the points backed with citations and evidence, or just steam?

                A logistics operation allow one to trade twenty-four hours a day, three people on eight hour shifts let you keep a phone answered around the clock, I'm not sure how you make the leap from your web server being on all the time, to a logistics operation, I've set a few up for customers, they take quite a bit of effort and cash.

                The webserver allows me to market the product, gather potential cutomer queries, and take orders. Then, during my normal day, I can respond to the queries and dispatch the orders. Its a good opportunity and one that wasn't available 20 years ago. In the event that I get to needing my own logistics platform, vs using Amazon for example, I have probably enough profit coming in to no longer class myself as poor?

                I get that customers can look at products all the time, like the Littlewoods catalog and telephone shopping, perhaps

                Answering the phone and shipping catalogs has a cost applied to it that a poor starup may not be able to afford. A webserver is within reach for all (my webhosting charges less than a days minimum wage for a basic hosting with a few databases).

                Firstly unless you get a degree from a Russell group uni, now days I'd say don't bother, it doesn't confer the advantage it used to

                I can see why you say this, but neither of my degrees is from a Russell Group establishment, and I don't feel like that has been a problem. The RG didn't actually exist until mid-way through my first degree. In the not wholly unlikely event that I ever do a third, I will ensure it is from RG.

                all you had to do before was get a desmond or better degree and you had a better than average chance, now it just means you're in debt, and it's not a point of differentiation, as everyone has one.

                *cough* There's nowt wrong with a Desmond, it's a fine drinking mans degree, and simply confers the fact that you prioritised chasing women over actual study.

                Much as I might malign post millenium degrees myself, a BSc would at least differentiate you over hlaf the populace, which should get you to an average income, whereby you would no longer be poor. It's not the ticket to ride that it once was, but it will help you escape the poor trap.

                you have no intention of using that knowledge for evil purpose, yet you fear even the taint of its association and that in and of itself is not an issue, not a barrier in your educational path?

                Oh it's a barrier, just less of a barrier than four walls, some bars, and a cell mate with a penchant for the ones who struggle.

                So no teaching yourself chemistry then, really read that again and please tell me that is not acceptable, I liked making things go bang as a kid, science is fun, fuck anyone who wants to paint a box around knowledge, my actions are what should count, frankly it won't keep me out of prison if the .gov really wants to push the point, but fuck em anyway.

                Totally agree with you, but just not strongly enough that I'm willing to be the guy making a stand.

                The high horse is in response to the blatant assumption that I'm saying "don't bother" from a position of ignorance and the frankly patronizing tone of your first response, a tone which is *markedly* absent from this response.

                Yeah, the way I write has long been an issue, and it is something I'm working on. I often come across as an asshat where it's not my intention; you'll know beyond any doubt what-so-ever when I intend to do so.

                I don't think the degree helps like it used to

                I don't either, for what it's worth, but I do believe they're still worthwhile, provided the subject of study is chosen well. Art history might get you a job at the tate moderns coffee shop, but it'll not likely get you into Sothebys or the British Museum. Engineering, maths (I actually wrote meths here, which may still apply), computing, or the sciences should still all see you make at least the national average income, which for the poor is a genuine step up.

                I can't really find it in me to blame you for your optimism, even if I think you are misguided.

                I'm genuinely shocked by this. Nobody has ever called me an optimist before! Have a pint.

          3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: sed gawk Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

            "@ Matt Byrant - do fuck off, you're a blight on this forum and the personification of the need for killfiles....." LOL, I take it that charming response is an admission that you can't argue the facts. TBH, cry more.

            ".....hence I got access to the likes of the Acorn Archimedes and a decent grounding in maths and science.....wouldn't have been available to me had I been born some twenty years later....." Rubbish! Throughout the Eighties and Nineties there was a massive investment in state school equipment, especially computers. One of my mates had the fun of running around Devon putting BBC Micros (and later PCs) into secondary schools and colleges. By the Nineties, PCs were becoming common in homes as the price of acquisition had dropped, and most schools had plenty of IT kit.

            ".....it would have cost me the princely sum of zero pounds on a grant....." Actually, the majority of students, even in the days of full grants, graduated with large debts. It was the introduction of Student Loans that helped fill the gap, making it easier for people from poorer backgrounds to afford a degree.

            ".....most people derive their income from work, if their work never pays them enough money to allow them to "upskill"....." What, never asked your bank for a loan? Apart from the many schemes for adult education, many banks have specific loans for career improvement.

            "....but I grafted my arse off....." So you did it, but you somehow think you're so exceptional and modern youth so fragile that they can't?

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

        Education used to be the primary social ladder, it's now very difficult to educate oneself out of a subsistence level to a more comfortable existence.

        That simply is not true. People have more and freer access, to more information, today than ever before. Those who take advantage of it can go almost anywhere they want.

        Sadly there are always those who will trot out the old "there's no point in trying to learn, it'll never do you any good" argument. That attitude is far more of a problem than any imagined lack of educational opportunity.

        1. sed gawk

          Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

          @Phil O'Sophical

          Difficult != Impossible.

          Can't be arsed to paste this in from the last reply, in short there is an opportunity cost to spending time educating oneself, a person who is poor feels it may not be worth it, a person who is not poor feels it's own reward.

          The cost of getting that decision wrong is now around 30k in the UK, that's a big ask even if you'll never be asked to pay it back, as most people who were/are really poor are terrified of falling further behind, I certainly was, and I know a few from the old days who still are.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

            The cost of getting that decision wrong is now around 30k in the UK

            No it's not, it's 12k if you see it through to the final year. You don't have to attend a physical uni to gain a degree from one.

      3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: sed gawk Re: The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

        ".....but it's harder now to change one's life by dint of honest effort....." Complete, unmitigated bollocks! It's simply more the fact that far too many people are not willing to put in the effort. I have a Polish graduate on my team, he is always asking for overtime, never says 'no' to being given a hard task, and produces work that is both consistently and reliably good. His father was a coal miner and worked sixty hours every week which probably explains a lot. He is surprised when he is praised for his approach, but then he's still got the work ethic most UK graduates (and non-grads) seem to think is not required. And even without a top-notch education, sheer hard work and smarts can get you ahead, just ask Sir Alan Sugar.

        "....Education used to be the primary social ladder, it's now very difficult to educate oneself out of a subsistence level to a more comfortable existence....." Double bollocks! Modern education is the great leveler, it means I work with a multinational team of people with very diverse backgrounds that would have been impossible in the Thirties. Indeed, the chances of someone poor getting a degree in the Thirties was virtually non-existant, but now even kids from the poorest UK areas have the opportunity to get a degree. It seems some people are busier thinking up excuses than actually making an effort, either in school or in employment. Companies in the UK are screaming out for educated people.

        ".....Poor is not about money, it's about opportunity, it's about expectation....." Then stop expecting a Lear jet just because you got a GCSE. If your expectations are constantly not being met then don't you think maybe you need to reset your expectations and stop expecting the World to be handed to you on a plate?

        1. LucreLout Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: sed gawk The per captia figures may be better but that's not the point.

          Then stop expecting a Lear jet just because you got a GCSE.

          ROFL. Upvoted just for this absolute gem.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: I agree with Tim Worstall

      What I find interesting is the coincidence between Government spending as a percentage of GDP and the whole of the country (poor and rich alike) getting better off.

      ST7,

      Could be an interesting piece for a book. Well enormous academic economic tome I guess... Bloody hard to get good figures for.

      Remember that national income and standards of living also rocketed during the 19th Century, and yet government spending didn't. Although given we spend lots on benefits for the very poorest in society, there's bound to be a strong causation for them doing better the higher government spending is.

      There's bound to be a point where extra government spending makes everyone poorer, for example the Soviet Union. And there's also probably a large time lag effect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I agree with Tim Worstall

        I don't know whether increased Government spending leads to increasing overall prosperity or an increase in prosperity allows a Government to increase spending as a percentage of the overall pie.

        It could be entirely independent.

        Some think that the invention of the seed drill by Jethro Tull started a massive increase in wealth (that almost everyone benefitted from) and everyone (Government and Populace alike) has been reaping what was sown ever since.

        http://andreswhy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/paradigm-of-plenty.html

        As you say, their is probably an epic tome (and possibly a Nobel) in there somewhere.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I agree with a lot of this. Even though my income over the last 15 years or so has rarely topped the £11,000 you quote. to be poor 1930s style I'd have to rip out my central heating, my double glazing, my insulated roof, my carpets, my fridge, my cooker, my bath, my indoor toilet, most of my furniture, most of my books, have another three people move in with me, have no free-at-provision healthcare, certainly not have any computer equipment. Because of the infrastructure built up over the last 60 years due to society pooling together I can afford to live frugrally in a level of comfort that that frugrality would not have given in the 1930s.

  22. a_pile_of_shit
    Joke

    Relative poverty of thought

    Q: Why does The Register UK mothership promote so many neocon cranks?

    A: Because those with relative poverty of thought need a handout.

    (or is it just click-bait?)

    1. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: Relative poverty of thought

      Tims article has generally been analytical rather than pushing forward UKIP policies. I don't agree with the conclusions that Tim has reached, but nevertheless the content is thought-provoking rather than just click bait, as you put it

      1. Amorphous
        IT Angle

        Re: Relative poverty of thought

        I agree he is though provoking, in the same way as Hilter or Marx is thought provoking. As for "relative poverty of thought", I'm saying he is a bit more thoughtful than the thinkers of the 1930s (e.g. Ayn Rand, Hilter), but much less thoughtful (not to mention less generous) than most thinkers of today (e.g Thomas Piketty, et al).

        Just because it is well researched and though-provoking, doesn't mean it isn't UKIP propaganda (which it is - obviously). TW doesn't bother to write anything unless it promotes his party. If I was him I wouldn't bother either. All those facts and figures take time to research and must be motivated from something more than an online Grauniad article.

        So, why would this article be published on the Register at all? Where is the tech angle? ... ah! got it! The Guardian is online == IT and it makes for juicy Click-bait (i.e.'Though provoking').

        So I'm obviously being facetious. The real reason for this article is because The UK-Register is a Neocon outfit.

    2. fruitoftheloon

      @a p o s: Re: Relative poverty of thought

      No it isn't

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real problem is how people are left to fend for themselves when there's a gap between getting their unemployment benefits and their past pay-cheque.

    This is why people end up at foodbanks, people aren't permanently so poor they can't afford to eat. The changes to the benefits system has made them hard to claim.

    You can argue that those who are said to be in poverty are disadvantaged even though they aren't going hungry, by not having exposure to technology their skills are reduced. So while the children of such families aren't stupid or going hungry, they don't have as much experience in the modern world.

  24. Frosted Flake

    Wake up and smell the bullshit.

    The point of this article is not quite unspoken. Go back and count the number of times inflation was mentioned. Think about saving for retirement while the Dollar (Pound) is constantly slipping.

    Can we say treadmill?

  25. Sand

    "Let them eat cake"

    "Let them eat cake" appears to summarise your argument, which did not work out well for those in power the first time round...

    Might I suggest that an appropriate response to people in the UK going hungry and cold is *not* to treat it as a categorisation problem (poverty versus inequality). People, human beings like you and me, not having enough money to eat is something rather more fundamental and serious than a debate over semantics, or a cosy arm wrestle about statistics...

    Since you have some influence, how are you going to use it to reduce hunger in the UK (as one issue among many than you might choose to help your fellow human beings who have less than you, through no fault of their own)?

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: "Let them eat cake"

      I think you might be rather overestimating the influence that I have.

      But the most obvious thing to do is applaud and support those devoting their energies to providing food to the hungry. Which is what food banks do and I do donate to my local one.

      1. Amorphous

        Re: "Let them eat cake"

        Best save our energies for innovation and production, and let rationing take care of education, health, food and housing. Those are things everyone needs a minimum amount of, so may as well do that efficiently (i.e. not run for profit or by donations).

        For the merits and pitfalls of r@tioning see http://www.sliceit.org/

  26. Benjol

    @Tim, I'd be interested in an article about your thoughts on the things that the market is NOT good at.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But

    Looking back to our grandparents and great grandparents is not a valid comparison, just as comparing a tramp in Oxford is no comparison to a villager in Somalia or Sudan or Syria. Our whole cost and social structure is different.

    To me, it is unbelievable that in modern Britain anyone should even know what a foodbank is. It is unbelievable that, in modern Britain anyone, at all should be worrying about food or warm, dry accommodation, basic health care and education. A modern, 1st world state that can not provide those things for each and every inhabitant is a failed state.

    The state is there for the people, not vice versa. If the state can afford tax breaks for the extremely wealthy, troops and weapons for foreign ventures at the behest of an ally, first class or private travel and houses for the elected representatives (who surely rate below the electors who put them there and pay their salaries and expenses), it must be able to provide for all its people in good and bad times.

    The idea that people get income support is incredible. Why not mandate a mimimum wage, for all employers, that is genuinely liveable and do away with subsidies in the form o income support?

    This "spare room" business": so if one is not able to own a capacious house, one is not allowed to have a room for visiting family or friends; the moment the grown child goes to university or leaves home for any reason, one is liable for tax or must move; children almost up to puberty (variable as that is) must share a bedroom. But, if (like me) you are reasonably well off, no such strictures apply. Well-off retired parents can continue to live in their house with two or three spare rooms, separate living and dining rooms while the family must squeeze into the minimum space or pay extra tax. Sounds fair to me.

    I am not against people becoming rich. I am against the obscene extremes, such that our chancellor and our prime minister put more effort into protecting bonuses for a certain group than into protecting the poorest and most vulnerable people.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: But

      Looking back to our grandparents and great grandparents is not a valid comparison, just as comparing a tramp in Oxford is no comparison to a villager in Somalia or Sudan or Syria

      That's not a valid comparison. The valid comparison is to a tramp in Oxford now and in the 30s. My own limited experience of tramps suggests that little has changed for them save greater access to fresh food courtesy of certain Pet-a-Minger type outlets.

      The state is there for the people, not vice versa. If the state can afford tax breaks for the extremely wealthy, troops and weapons for foreign ventures at the behest of an ally, first class or private travel and houses for the elected representatives (who surely rate below the electors who put them there and pay their salaries and expenses), it must be able to provide for all its people in good and bad times.

      So you'd rather we just deployed the troops with colourful language for protection and a few hand gestures for offensive capability? Erm, no. The primary duty of care the state owes to anyone is to properly train and equpi those that it sends to their potential deaths such that they have the greatest opportunity to survive. Those that are willing to die to protect us must be first in line for our consideration.

      so if one is not able to own a capacious house, one is not allowed to have a room for visiting family or friends; the moment the grown child goes to university or leaves home for any reason, one is liable for tax or must move

      You do not pay the hotel bill of my visiting relatives nor do you refund the tax paid on my salary that fund my spare rooms. Why then should my taxes be used to equip you with spare rooms such that relatives hotel bills may be saved? It's madness.

      such that our chancellor and our prime minister put more effort into protecting bonuses for a certain group

      Those two clowns take 42 percent of my bonus. If that's what you call protection, then I can see why you have difficulty comprehending the military covenant.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Time: inequality

    to me, putting aside povery, whatever that means in any society, the extreme inequality is a great danger and an evil. It separates the inhabitants of a country more effectively, viciously and dangerously than any number of borders, climates, cultures etc..

    But what I should like an explanation of is this: recent reports have stated that growing inequality in Britain and New Zealand, has cost each country some large percentage of growth and productivity.

    Is this because the wealth is concentrated in the hands of too few, so that the many have not got the spending power, the health and the education to support society or what?

    Alternatively, how does extremely high payment to, for example financiers who have at the very least sleepwalked the system to disaster, help the economy and the country?

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: @Time: inequality

      But what I should like an explanation of is this: recent reports have stated that growing inequality in Britain and New Zealand, has cost each country some large percentage of growth and productivity.

      The report is a work of politicised fiction (theirs, not yours).

      Alternatively, how does extremely high payment to, for example financiers who have at the very least sleepwalked the system to disaster, help the economy and the country?

      Nobody forced Gordon Brown to borrow billions we didn't have to waste on public sector staff we didn't need and now can't get shot of. How taxation of incomes and bonuses helps the economy should be obvious to you, and if it's not, then please pick up any GCSE level economics textbook.... just make sure you don't start with Picketty or he'll just confirm all your prejudices and you'll not learn anything.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Time: inequality

        you missed the point. These recipients of high salaries and bonuses got us into the financial problems used as the reason to reduce the state's responsibilities.

        As for your 42%, lucky you to be able to afford it. Why do you need a bonus in addition to your salary to do your job? Rather a lot of people are paying not so far short on lower salaries and with no bonus. As a bonus recipient myself I am absolutely against the bonus system. If I am paid a salary I should earn it. If I need a bonus, in addition, to do the job to the best of my ability, especially if it is a high salary, I should not be in that job. The system seems to have produced rather bad results in recent years.

        As for the comment above about the army: how does helping the USA to destabilise the Middle East protect us? The Empire is long gone. Like Austria or Germany we should accept that and learn to flourish on our own merits. The best protection for our forces would be not to misuse them in places and for causes where we are providing a fig leaf for others. Now tell me just how we have improved matters in the Middle East. Better, go and tell Syria and Iraq about it.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: @Time: inequality

          These recipients of high salaries and bonuses got us into the financial problems used as the reason to reduce the state's responsibilities.

          No, you miss the point. Gordon Brown got us into this mess, not the banks, not the borrowers. Gordon. And Ed.

          Why do you need a bonus in addition to your salary to do your job? Rather a lot of people are paying not so far short on lower salaries and with no bonus.

          Rather a lot of people are paid overtime rather than working an average 20 hours per week on top of their contract for free. Rather a lot of people like to clock off at 6pm and go home undisturbed, while expecting their employer to train them and keep their skills current. Rather a lot of people have considerably greater job security. The bonus saves my employer an absolute fortune in overtime pay.

          how does helping the USA to destabilise the Middle East protect us? The Empire is long gone. Like Austria or Germany we should accept that and learn to flourish on our own merits. The best protection for our forces would be not to misuse them in places and for causes where we are providing a fig leaf for others.

          I quite agree that the deployments made by the labour government were attorcious, and Tony Blair has questions to answer with the appropriate place of questioning being The Hague. He might be innocent, he might not, but that is what a trial exists to determine. That, however, is irrelevant. If you have a military it is societies primary duty to train and equip them to the best of its ability prior to sending them into battle to die - be it as an invading force or defending one.

          Now tell me just how we have improved matters in the Middle East

          Well.... Bin Laden is dead. That is a very good thing. Other than that.... I got nothing. We should never have been there. Unfortunately our soldiers don't only step on IEDs in conflicts I feel are just.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Time: inequality

        Of course growing inequality contributes to lowered GDP, Duh!

        If we, collectively, rich and poor alike produce a pie of X size this arbitrary year, it is distributed amongst us at a given rate.

        Come the next year, if the collective pie is distributed at a rate that disproportionately favours a select few, do you think that those that contributed but got a lessor slice will contribute anything like the productivity they did previously ?

        That is the productivity gap.

        'Billions we didn't have' ?

        The BoE (the bank that is owned by our Government that we own) can print money at will, how can we not have enough sterling ?

        (what, we own a bank that can print interest free money but we insist on borrowing credit from the private banking system at interest. Who provides the private banking system with the money to lend to the Government ? That would be our bank (the BoE) and we lend it at nearly ZIrp yet we borrow that liquidity at >2%)

        The fact is (and you will not like this) The Deficit is the difference between what the economy should be producing and what Private Enterprise is actually producing.

        The National Debt is all the infrastructure in the UK that we collectively own, it is an asset of the people and a debt of the Government.

        When Cameron says he will reduce the deficit, he can either match what private enterprise is producing (which is less than the potential) or he can invest the deficit differently to stimulate private enterprise to come up to productive speed. (it is hard to tell what he wants as they said they would clear the deficit by 2015 and it is bigger than ever)

        When he says he will reduce the National Debt, he means he will liquidate the Nations assets. (increasing the National Debt means new roads, power stations etc. that we collectively pay for, reducing it means selling it off for £ sterling that we can print at will for free)

        Nothing works like anybody thinks it does (or should), simply we account for the wrong things and this distorts everything.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: @Time: inequality

          The BoE (the bank that is owned by our Government that we own) can print money at will, how can we not have enough sterling ?

          Because money != wealth. Printing money devalues the money already held, but does not increase the wealth. It is theft, in essence.

          The fact is (and you will not like this) The Deficit is the difference between what the economy should be producing and what Private Enterprise is actually producing.

          Wrong. You will not like this, but the deficit is the difference between what we can afford to spend on public services and what we are actually spending. What needs to happen is that we cut back spending substantially to eliminate the deficit and begin repayment of the debt. There have been no cuts, but they will have to come next parliament.

          The National Debt is all the infrastructure in the UK that we collectively own

          Only it isn't. It's mostly excessive wages in the public sector and solid gold pensions. The actual infrastructure we own costs a fraction of the debt, yet represents thousands of years of toil.

          increasing the National Debt means new roads, power stations etc.

          But it doesn't. It means public sector workers can have still more pay and perks, but we've not built a single road or a single power station for several hundred billion of debt.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Time: inequality

            Obviously I'm not going to change your view, only you can do that but here is something to think about.

            25% of the National Debt is owned by the Bank of England.

            The BoE is wholly owned by the Government.

            The BoE got the money to buy this debt by printing it.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              Re: @Time: inequality

              25% of the National Debt is owned by the Bank of England.

              The BoE is wholly owned by the Government.

              The BoE got the money to buy this debt by printing it.

              QE may look like printing money, it may even feel like printing money, but there is a very important difference, hence the segregation between national debt (government) and the current holder of the bonds (BoE).

              Printed money never has to be unqound. QE is wholly expected to be unwound, and the bond market will be quite ruthless if it is not. As soon as you see base rate rises, you will begin to see movement towards QE being unwound.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Time: inequality

                'hence the segregation between national debt (government) and the current holder of the bonds (BoE).'

                Can you not see the circularity of this, if the Government pays off these bonds (loans) to the BoE, the BoE passes these funds right back to the owners (the Government).

                The Government of a Sovereign Nation does not have to borrow the Nations currency from any market because as the sole issuer of this currency it can produce an unlimited supply.

                The value of a Sovereign Nations currency is detemined by the demand for that currency and surprise surprise, that demand is from the Government of that Nation alone (in the form of tax demand)

                Foreign entities have no need or demand for Sterling, if they require aircraft parts that are made here they will pay in coffee beans or sugar.

                The money has no value except as a satisfier of a tax demand.

                Nothing at all works like you think it does. (we all go along with the pretence, but that is all it is)

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: ST7 Re: @Time: inequality

                  ".....The Government of a Sovereign Nation does not have to borrow the Nations currency from any market because as the sole issuer of this currency it can produce an unlimited supply....." Yeah, like economy-crippling hyperinflation just never happens if you just print money like crazy, right?

                  http://www.cnbc.com/id/102082864

                  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_Zimbabwe#Causes

                  http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation_in_the_Weimar_Republic#Hyperinflation

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: ST7 @Time: inequality

                    There is nothing stopping the Government spending money into existence and then taxing it all back out again, as the overall amount of money in circulation has not changed, this is not inflationary.

                    This is the equivalent of the private banking system creating a loan and then destroying the loan as it is repaid.

                    The difference is that the private bank charges interest on the money it creates whereas Government created money doesn't.

                    If a Government doesn't tax all the money it spends then it creates inflation.

                    If a bank doesn't collect all the debts it has created (writes off some debts as uncollectable) then this is also inflationary.

                    Inflation will cause all goods to rise in price equally.

                    Do not confuse the rise in price of some goods (oil in the 70's) as inflation because that rise will be compensated by a fall in the price of other goods (anything not oil related in the 70's)

                    Governments, because they choose to borrow from the markets, are sensitive to supply shocks disrupting the economy (because the economy determines the interest rate they must pay) are likely to try to ameliorate commodity price rises, this is the wrong thing to do.

                    A Government should impose higher taxes on goods that are rising in price to reduce demand and stimulate alternatives, they should reduce taxes on goods that are experiencing price contraction to stimulate demand.

                    This seems counter intuitive but only because nothing works like you think it does.

  29. strum Silver badge

    Not the economy, stupid.

    Part of the problem is the confusion between economics and finance. Just because they use the same metrics (dosh), some people think they're interchangeable (including many economists).

    Yes 'the economy' is growing, unsteadily - but people's (& businesses') finances aren't reflecting that.

    Yes, modern poverty doesn't compare with poverty in the 30s - but the financial shock of the Great Crash is comparable with the market crash of 2008, in the sense that the finances of individuals and families were sandbagged (and that is why populist/simplistic/'right-wing' politics gains purchase, in both periods). People who assumed that they'd be better off, forever, found that they were worse off - probably forever.

    My parents were certain I would be better off than they were (I am). Today's parents can have no such certainty.

    The same applies to businesses; they're plodding along OK, but they can't get the finances to become what they should be - even though 'the economy' should be able to generate enough dosh to supply them.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Not the economy, stupid.

      The difference is that in the 1930s there wasn't very much of a social safety-net. And now there is. Inequality went down slightly during this present crash, because the poorest have a minimum wage, and (as long as it doesn't get cocked up) have a bunch of benefits available to stop them starving. So there's a basic minimum income that everyone can get. Obviously you can argue about what that should be. So yes, the drop in the size of the economy was the same in percentage terms, but the economy is so vastly bigger that this has had less effect, as there's still loads left to go round. But also we have a whole bunch of government schemes that funnel money to the poorest. Which weren't there in the 1930s.

  30. Stretch

    "We may not be doing all that well but we're a damn sight richer than our grandparents were. "

    Bullshit. They could buy a fucking house.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "We may not be doing all that well but we're a damn sight richer than our grandparents were. "

      Most of them rented, and also slept several to a bed, let alone a bedroom. As well as outdoor toilets, no bathrooms and no central heating. Not to mention rickets, TB, polio, no antibiotics, limited healthcare...

  31. Jamiet

    I'm not saying everything is hunky dory today, but for a reality check just do an image search for '1930s poverty UK'.

  32. Paul Smith

    When I were a lad...

    "3YM: Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to 'ave to get up out of shoebox at twelve o'clock at night and lick road clean wit' tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two wit' bread knife.

    4YM: Right. I had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad and our mother would kill us and dance about on our graves singing Hallelujah.

    1YM: And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you."

    (Monty Python, Four Yokshiremen, circa 1974)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: When I were a lad...

      Pah! You've got it easy! In my day we had it much tougher. You couldn't just go online and copy Pytho scripts of t'interwebs. You had to type them in manually. From memory.

      Also, I don't hold with all this sex on television. I keep falling off...

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: When I were a lad...

        Easy! In my day we had to punch it onto cards, then post it off to t'data centre to be run on t'central computer.

        etc. etc. etc.

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: I ain't Spartacus Re: When I were a lad...

        ".....all this sex on television. I keep falling off..." Well, it is quite tricky with modern flatscreens. With the old cathode tube sets you had a bigger surface area, big enough even for the average Northern lass to park her backside on, though it did interfere with watching the football.

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: When I were a lad...

      It was inevitable that some would post thus, but I've upvoted you anyway.

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