Friday 22 April 2011

Did the "Scrounger" tide turn?

Something quite interesting happened yesterday.

As readers will know, the Mail, Express, government ministers, the BBC and even our Prime Minister launched yet another attack on sickness benefit "scroungers" yesterday.

Somehow though, it didn't quite go as the government planned.

As campaigners, our phones started ringing before breakfast, offering us a "Right to Reply" on numerous radio shows and blogs.

I wrote a piece about it for Left Foot Forward and despite it being the top article, no-one felt the need to defend the politicians or the media and their nasty attacks.

I went back and checked the comments on the Mail and Express articles, but almost every single one was in support of the sick and disabled, with many making points about where they would rather the government focussed their fire.

A little later, Mark Easton wrote this brilliant piece for the BBC, asking where we draw the line if we start to differentiate between "self inflicted" conditions and "worthy" ones. Do we still take care of the horse-rider who's hobby "caused" their own paraplegia? Do we treat the lung cancer patient who lived with a smoker for 40 years?

David Cameron was roundly attacked for wading into this divisive debate.

Rather than being seen as "defenders of the taxpayer" the government managed to show themselves for the playground bullies they are.

Perhaps it will make them think twice the next time they choose to kick an easy target. Over 10 million people in the UK suffer from a long term illness or disability. They all have husbands or wives, children or parents, carers and friends. That's a LOT of voters.

To assume that these changes can be forced through because "sick benefit scroungers" won't vote Tory anyway might be a risk a little greater than the government had imagined.


  1. Well done Sue - and all who campaign for the disabled! You were a star on the radio yesterday, and yes, I too noticed how the tide of comments turned on the Daily Mail website... not at all what they intended I'm sure!

  2. I've rarely been so angered by a politician as I was with Cameron yesterday. To state - not even imply - that people on Incapacity Benefit because they are drug users, overweight or suffer from alcohol dependency, should not receive benefits because their disability is a result of lack of self-control, a matter of choice...So many of those people abuse drugs or alcohol or food because of mental health issues that are either heriditary or the result of trauma. In that, they are no different from someone who has an inherited physical illness, or a physical disability due to an accident, and they are EQUALLY deserving of society's support.

  3. Well done Sue for your radio appearence.I thought something had happened-the BBC original piece changed and no longer accepted comments and the Mail was unable to take comments when I looked although the comments number was in the hundreds.Maybe more people are beginning to realise they are trying to be manipulated and at least questioning the lies and distortions emanating from the Government and most of the media.

  4. Its about time the tide started to change.Its not my fault i got ill and i am sick and tired of being branded a lazy scrounging bastard by all and sundry and this is even filtering down to friends and family who just every now and again pass some comment on benefits but yet recieve tax credits for thier kids,working tax or family alowance or whatever and i dont have a problem with that but its all part of the overall welfare bill they keep banging on about and when the NHS has gone and the lifeline of benefits has gone and all the jobs have gone then they will see.I would swap places with any who are healthy who have jobs or thier own business and they can live in my skin for a month or two.They only see what they want to see they dont see the real pain.Its the bloody govt and its media whores who peddle this hate ridden drivel and we should not stand for it after all we have the discrimination legislation in this country that supposedly protects people of ethnic origin,sexual orientation etc etc so why does this not extend to people who are ill and disabled.WE are an easy target and its not just the torys who do it labour were just as bad after the Woodstock conference with Unum Provident and the reason they do it is because they think we wont bite back that we are afraid to lose what little we have .WELL we most probably will lose it anyway thanks to this vicous bunch but remebember this CAM GLEGG CONS we are VOTERS too and there are lots of us and our familys so you will be voted on and you know it which is why everything is out to tender now to you and your bloody vested interests and pals while you have the chance cos you wont get another.The nearer it gets to an election the more scaremongering and scapegoating goes on but KICK EM BACK and keep kicking .Remeber too to remind people that fraud in sickness benefits is 0.05% which is tiny compared to the tax eveasion of major companies not to mention MPs expenses and the expensive fiasco of the NSH PFI inintiatives that cost us BILLIONS and 40 million quid for a wedding come on.The bankers got us in this bloody mess and we kiss thier backsides and watch while they up thier pay and bonuses and sweet FA is done about it but yeah its ok to kick the sick and disabled.What did one Tory famously say years ago...'the homeless yes those are the ones you trip over when coming out of the opera'nothing has changed KICK BACK and keep kicking we are voters.WE ARE PEOPLE .KICK BACK, KICK OFF ,KICK EM OUT.

  5. Warren Morgan said...

    precisely warren it makes you wonder if David Cameron went to school at all >:(

  6. I myself had to deal at the age of 11 the effects of the hither green rail crash at the bottom of our garden in 1967 which left me very weak from that day onwards and althrough at the time i was ok i was clearly not in later years

    I was then involved in 1969 in a double decker bus crash where the hole roof of the bus came off as we hit at 50 miles an hour going downhill a low bridge in sheerness late at night and that to being on the top deck with my dad didn't help my health in later life

    So i have had my fair share of pain and grief that i do know and it does leave you weak thereafter and for life in my case

  7. We can hope the tide has turned, but we need to keep campaigning until all three major parties back away from supporting the attacks on disabled people, until someone who says the kind of thing Cameron, Grayling or, yes, even Labour's Stephen Timms, said yesterday isn't just looked on askance, but has the whip withdrawn and is summarily drummed out of their respective parties for actively advocating bigotry.

  8. DavidG said...

    Indeed David and a very good point made these politicians have got an awful lot to learn
    It's only in later life like in Margaret thatchers case who has got dementia and being looked after on hand and foot and at huge cost i may add that what they need to realise that one day it could be them. They wont be so keen to run us down then when there stuck inside not knowing what day it is so they need to wake up now to the realities of life and not keep talking bad things about us without knowing any of the facts

  9. Is there a way of accessing your broadcast Sue? I am sure many of us would like to hear you as well as read you.

  10. Here you go Howard:

    I sound much chavvier than I thought I did, but I think I answered the questions OK (apart from the one I forgot what she asked me......)

    Oh, I come in at about 37 minutes by the way.

  11. I've heard it now. I sound like a mangle wurzle when I hear myself on air. It really is what you have to say that's important. A man, with a far broader accent than I, became Foreign Secretary (Ernie Bevin).

    Well done, Madam. Your resistance to sounding like a fanatic was exemplary and the first lesson in broadcasting. Are the Pox problems over? (oh and the back ones)?

  12. We are pox free! Out of quarantine.
    Dave's back is back.

    Hope you have a good weekend Howard. I'm just trying to drum up support for a socialist monarchist party next week, but oddly, no-one's keen....

  13. Thought you were absolutely wonderful Sue . You really got the message across, you nailed it wonderfully x

  14. Its happening slowly but people can sense the deceipt in this govt.


  15. Steve, I think you are so right there, it is something that I have seen gradually over the last few weeks! Truth in that old adage "you can fool some people some of the time but you can't fool all people all of the time"!

    Sue I just have to say that I thought you were great on the radio, I have been on a few times and I just cannot do it justice, you on the other hand I thought were clear and concise, we have to get you on the radio more!

  16. Sue, Just listened to your radio chat have to say your an angel, Thre are lots of people out there who want to be heard and cant do it for whatever reason so its great to have a someone who is so in tune with what is happening to the disabled people of this country. I feel that the tide will turn but not soon enough they will want to keep running the programme to back up their figures first then say we told you so.


  17. Thank you Gracie for your comment


  18. Thanks guys. I will keep going until I see Purnell sitting opposite Clarkson apologising for getting it all so very very wrong.

  19. I unfortunately am not that good on the radio but one on one with my mp proves that I'm good with a very forceful tone and more then a match for David Cameron hence he'll never come round my house
    Which is fine by me as i would find it most difficult to welcome him in to my home and just saying that makes me very sad

  20. If you think this govt deserves the two ticks as disabled friendly please reply to them on the back of a postage stamp


  21. The issue is not whether those living off the production of others are genuinely deserving or not. The issue is simply how many non producing people can each productive person support?

    If there were 100 people in a community and 99 of them were disabled or sick, would they have a "right" to be supported by the 1 healthy person ? What happens to their right to be supported if the 1 healthy person decides to leave, or dies ?

    The government already taxes 50% of what a productive person earns as income tax and the total benefits bill exceeds the total income tax raised.

    50% of every penny earned by productive people already goes on supporting others.

    What about the right of a man to keep what he earns through his own efforts to improve his own life and that of his family ?

  22. Its not the scroungers who are wasting tax payers money - Its flipin cameron throwing it away!

  23. Yes, Libertarian, what about that? Since the people who are now disabled and have been putting money into that pot for years now find that there isn't any of that money there? Again...we WERE "productive people" once, and put that money in what was supposed to be a savings account for our needs. That money isn't there - even though we thought it would be.

    So yes...what about the rights of folk to improve their lives and family, indeed? The thing is that in a society there is no such thing as "me for me alone". That's not what a society is. If you want to be Me for Me, then it's best to get out of society all together, live on a mountain somewhere and be totally self-sufficient (and I've been there and done that and lived it). But the instant we acquiesce to being a part of a society and paying its taxes, voting in parties to represent us, living in a community situation, then it becomes a solidarity unit, and you cannot just pick and choose. Compromise is part of that community unit, and taking care of those who went before is also part of it.

    I have lived both ways and while I can attest the out-of-society way was very rich in some cases (and not rich in the way the 'productive' would understand), the truth of the matter is that if I tried living like that now, I'd probably have died a few years ago, and so would my son if no one had taken him in; I would have worked myself into the ground to keep going for him. And so it goes, fair enough. But here I am in society, and I have played society's rules, and I am still working myself into the ground to keep going for my son...but I am told all those years of being 'productive' just wasn't good enough.

    By all means, save some of that hard earned 'productivity' for your own family, sock it away somewhere in a bank that won't collapse if you can, or do whatever one's capitalist heart desires - but also understand when you wake up in hospital after the car accident, or the child develops a disease that came out of nowhere, you also would hope like hell that there was some payback out of everything you contributed...whether it will be there or not remains to be seen, but that is what we're fighting for.

  24. well said Oya :)

  25. The 'Libertarian' only counts those paying the 50% income tax rate as productive, so virtually any argument to the contrary is invalid. We're all unproductive leeches.

    And in a hypothetical society where 99% of people are disabled or sick, then they are normal and they are the measure by which all of the infrastructure and systems of that society are built on. They are society and will shape society to their best convenience.

    To make that happen now, in a society where the largest and strongest demographic are white non-disabled healthy males with cars and property, would be just too inconvenient for them. Scratch a 'libertarian', find a tyrant underneath.

  26. Indeed, Mason Dixon. If a higher proportion of the community was sick or disabled, there would be a better understanding of how such people could still contribute without working themselves to death.

    I wonder if Libertarian believes in the concept of compensation for the damage inflicted by criminal action, as that affects plenty of us crips too. Hang on, people that far on the political right believe that if you're attacked it's your fault. Damn.

  27. For the record, I don't believe that only those paying 50% tax are productive. Anyone who pays more in tax than they consume in hand outs is productive. However, those who pay 50% tax contribute the most to "The Pot" so are by definition the most productive.

    Productive is an economic term, not a value judgement. You can live a wonderfully fulfilled life and contribute to society in a number of ways and still not be productive in the economic sense. However it is production that produces the things we consume, the homes we live in, the cars we drive, the tv's we watch. If you want any of the things that have lifted man out of the stone age, then its production you need to thank.

    As for Jan's comment I believe 100% that people should be compensated for the damage inflicted on them by criminals. The Libertarian view is that criminals should compensate their victims through restitution, surrendering their liberty until they have worked off their debt to the victim.

    Oya's daughter makes a point that I almost agree with. Everyone has been swindled by the Government. When we pay into the pot we were encouraged to believe that this money was put aside as a sort of "National Insurance" premium which would pay for us in times of need. But the Government just spent it. There is also the issue of insurance economics, to set a fair premium that would allow the level of support that the government provides would require people to pay far, far more than they do.

    You cannot get something for nothing. You cannot get more out of an insurance system collectively than people put into it.

    Most people posting here want to paint their opponents as selfish, but their arguments are inherently selfish.

    If you genuinely believe that "society's money"
    (By which you mean my money and that earned by people like me) should be given to those in most need, then logically it follows that all our taxes should be given to those in the third world who have barely enough to eat, no decent homes, and no medical care.

    Until their lives are raised to the standard of yours what moral claim do you have for any of the money ?

    We all live on a continuum of wealth, a socialists definition of filthy rich evil capitalist pig is usually anyone who earns 5-10 times more a year than they do.

    Compared with someone living on a dollar a day or less, foraging around a rubbish tip in India for their next meal, the level of benefits provided in this country is obscene wealth.

    Why can't the Indian apply your own arguments to have your benefits cut and given to them. They are deserving and their need is greater. Sure they would start with what you call the rich, but that is not enough money to lift them all out of poverty, you would have to make significant sacrifices to.

    Of course it's much easier to demand that other people make sacrifices for you, than it is to make sacrifices yourself!

  28. I really won't be brought into a debate on this as I am well aware that nothing anyone here says will change your view. I also actually rather loathe debates as I find them counterproductive. It wastes time.

    But what I will say is that anyone dis-satisfied with the Government we have, with the society we have, with anything which has gone on at all, would be better off doing their best to actively get out there and change it. Me, I walk my talk: I don't have a car, don't have Sky TV, I raise my own vegetables and live well below poverty line. And I actually don't mind that. What I DO mind is that for whatever reason the Powers Wot Be will not allow me to carry on doing that - no, I have to have a "real job" (because of course raising a disabled child isn't a real job, or being an artist, or a writer).

    I'm baffled at the idea that productivity=high tax economy alone. If all the rubbishmen who are paid rather low wages went on strike for a month, I think we'd be aware rather quickly of how vital some folk are in society whether they are paid high wages or not. They're jolly well "productive".

    And what of all those multimillionaires who by your own definition aren't very productive at all? After all, they don't pay their share of tax - and they are one of the main targets by society at the moment because of it (though I imagine you may admire them for that more than revile them).

    I am not right wing, left wing, widdershins or whatever. But I am not going to blame the upper classes for all my ills because, to be truthful, I know a fair few, and they're the unhappiest people I've ever met. If I could change that somehow, I would - I don't think the money makes them unhappy, and I don't blame them for having it. But if they're miserable, what's the point? I know one fellow who always wanted to play the cello in an orchestra; but his big schedule won't allow it, he's too busy-busy-busy. The idea of quitting to pursue his dream even though he has more than enough money to support himself now never occurs to him, and he's miserable; his wife is a shadow of herself, and tends to be mostly silent - their love is long dead. It's a travesty. If some big-wig loathes their job and being a slave to the Corporate Man, then they too should have support to do something else.

    I am not asking for more money - I don't want it, and I don't need it. What I am asking for (indeed, what should be a right, really, as part and parcel of being part of a community) is dignity, respect, and not being dismissed because someone deems I am not "Productive enough" with their personal benchmark, and the only way to achieve that is to force me into a job I'd be able to keep for a grand total of three months before my disability put an end to it.

    I am absolutely baffled by the intellect of some of the disabled people I know - scientists, IT wizards, economic geniuses, amazing artists...the world is missing out on these people, these people who could "be productive" if only it was recognised that Contributing To Society doesn't mean commuting to a job.

    You cannot get something from nothing, indeed...and perhaps as a result if this floundering civilization wants to save itself, it should consider giving a bit in its rigid rules to those who at this point are being tarred with the brush of scrounging scum. It shouldn't be such a difficult thing, but it keeps getting twisted into sounding like we're asking for the moon, and THAT is the issue.

  29. On the contrary, I am very open to having my views changed by strong arguments. After all that is how I formed the views I currently hold.

    Exposing your views to criticism via debate will either strengthen your conviction or change your mind, neither is a waste of time.

    Let's talk about these nasty millionaires who I should revile and who don't pay their fair share of taxes.

    Firstly what kind of warped value system is it that demands we revile success and worship need and dependency as the most noble values?

    Good luck to the millionaires, for without people like Ford, Edison, Bill Gates, etc, the world we all live in would be a much less wonderful place. You generally create wealth by enriching the lives of lots of people. Even pop star wealth or footballers wealth is created by entertaining millions of people.

    So what is a fair share ?

    If everyone paid 25% of their income that would seem fair to many. The man who earns £20,000 contributes £5,000, the man who earns ten times more £200,000 pays ten times more or £50,000.

    I might argue that zero tax is fair. Let each man keep what he produces and pay market price for what he consumes.

    You might argue it is obscene for anyone to earn more than £100,000 a year so fair tax would be 100% of anything above that.

    There is no absolute benchmark for "fair". What we have instead is tax law that mandates what people must pay.

    As Lord Clyde said in 1929:

    “No man in this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so as to arrange his legal relations of his business or to his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest shovel into his stores.”

    The Millionaire pays what he must, like the rest of us. Any reference to fair shares is simply saying you think he should pay more, which is a very difficult definition of fair to justify!

    I totally agree with you that money is not the highest value in life and that your cello playing friend has made a great error. You might like to read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead, it deals with a similar situation between two architects, one who sells out for money and one who remains true to his passion and is written by one of the great libertarian thinkers of the 20th century.

  30. We were broadly Libertarian in Dickensian times.

    I'd say that was all we need to know about why it will never, ever work.

  31. I should have expected cloudy thinking here, but the same "argument" can be applied equally well in reverse:

    "They re-distributed wealth and land to the poor and needy in Zimbabwe. I'd say that was all we need to know about why it will never, ever work"

    Neither is a very compelling argument!

    We may have been broadly Libertarian in Dickensian times, but if so, the comparison for success would be a socialist state of the same time in History.

    We may look back on Dickensian England from the vantage point of the 21st century and see it as a terrible place. That has more to do with centuries of economic progress than the relative merits of political systems.

    This was in fact the period when Britain started the industrial revolution, became the worlds leading industrial power and built an empire on which the sun never set. The living standards for working people were higher than anywhere else in the world.

    If anything, I think that is a strong argument FOR Libertarianism !

  32. Also we mustn't forget that lady thatchers care costs as she is looked after at home with Dementia must be very expensive for the tax payer and she is not suffering any cuts in her service unlike everyone else who needs personal care

  33. Libertarian,

    I find it somewhat ironic that the Ayn Rand fans, the self described libertarians such as yourself always see themselves as Roark but really only resemble Keating to the letter in their statements.

    "This was in fact the period when Britain started the industrial revolution, became the worlds leading industrial power and built an empire on which the sun never set. The living standards for working people were higher than anywhere else in the world."

    This type of blather not only has a Keating type self serving false flattery inherent in it but is an ignorant and baseless historical statement.

  34. The problem Bill, is that asserting something is baseless, does not make it so. You cannot make facts go away simply by stating they are not true.

    Here is my basis:

    Charles Dickens - 1812:1870

    Industrial Revolution:

    "The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in human history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. Most notably, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. In the two centuries following 1800, the world's average per capita income increased over 10-fold"

    British Empire

    "Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century" by some historians,[80][81] around 10,000,000 square miles (25,899,881 km2) of territory and roughly 400 million people were added to the British Empire.[82] Victory over Napoleon left Britain without any serious international rival, other than Russia in central Asia.[83] Unchallenged at sea, Britain adopted the role of global policeman, a state of affairs later known as the Pax Britannica,[84] and a foreign policy of "splendid isolation".[85] Alongside the formal control it exerted over its own colonies, Britain's dominant position in world trade meant that it effectively controlled the economies of many countries, such as China, Argentina and Siam, which has been characterised by some historians as "informal empire".[86][87]
    British imperial strength was underpinned by the steamship and the telegraph, new technologies invented in the second half of the 19th century, allowing it to control and defend the Empire."

    Standard of Living:

    According to estimates by economist N. F. R. Crafts, British income per person (in 1970 U.S. dollars) rose from about $400 in 1760 to $430 in 1800, to $500 in 1830, and then jumped to $800 in 1860. (For many centuries before the industrial revolution, in contrast, periods of falling income offset periods of rising income.) Crafts’s estimates indicate slow growth lasting from 1760 to 1830 followed by higher growth beginning sometime between 1830 and 1860. For this doubling of real income per person between 1760 and 1860 not to have made the lowest-income people better off, the share of income going to the lowest 65 percent of the population would have had to fall by half for them to be worse off after all that growth. It did not. In 1760, the lowest 65 percent received about 29 percent of total income in Britain; in 1860, their share was down only four percentage points to 25 percent. So the lowest 65 percent were substantially better off, with an increase in average real income of more than 70 percent.

    I am happy to debate, where is your justification that these statements are baseless ?

  35. Libertarian,

    You cite N. F. R. Crafts to support your position.

    British income per person (in 1970 U.S. dollars) rose from about $400 in 1760 to $430 in 1800, to $500 in 1830, and then jumped to $800 in 1860. (For many centuries before the industrial revolution, in contrast, periods of falling income offset periods of rising income.) Crafts’ estimates indicate slow growth lasting from 1760 to 1830 followed by higher growth beginning sometime between 1830 and 1860. For this doubling of real income per person between 1760 and 1860 not to have made the lowest-income people better off, the share of income going to the lowest 65 percent of the population would have had to fall by half for them to be worse off after all that growth.
    This nominal level comparison assumes that the value pound must have remained constant in comparison to 1970 dollars for the gains cited to be realized. In fact, inflation implied that these wage levels would have to double to maintain the same relative spending power in 1860 compared to 1760. Thus no real gain despite a rise in wage rates.
    I refer you to the House of Commons RESEARCH PAPER 99/20 dated 23 FEBRUARY 1999 entitled “Inflation: the Value of then Pound 1750-1998” by Robert Twigger.

    Twigger’s historic comparisons notes the impact of such inflation, “Thus, for example, if prices double, any given (nominal) amount of currency will buy half the goods and services it previously did.

    Now with regard to your notion of the splendour of the days “Between 1815 and 1914, a period referred to as Britain's "imperial century", it is perhaps an inconvenient truth that the United States surpassed Britain in 1870 as the world’s largest economy. In so far as per capita figures, Britain lagged behind the US and Australia as well.

    You may wish to read these at your leisure.
    D. K. Fieldhouse, Economics and Empire, 1830-1914 (1973).
    Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson. The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain (2004)
    Roderick Floud and Deirdre McCloskey, eds. The Economic History of Britain since 1700 2 vol (1994)
    Sara Horrell; "Living Standards in Britain 1900-2000: Women's Century" National Institute Economic Review 2000, 172:62–77

  36. I am currently reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. It destroys Libertarian society so totally, I find it hard to even engage with it seriously.

  37. I just read this whole comment thread.
    WOW!! That was the best read of the year. I'm going to -post it, just telling everyone to read these comments....

  38. Libertarian says "If everyone paid 25% of their income that would seem fair to many. The man who earns £20,000 contributes £5,000, the man who earns ten times more £200,000 pays ten times more or £50,000."

    The fact is that the very wealthy may pay 25% of their "income" in tax but their income is cleverly manipulated by accountants and financial managers so that much, if not most, of the resources they utilise to fund their luxurious lifestyles are not classed as "income" so are therefore not taxable. I have worked in finance and I know that those with great wealth have many routes to avoid taxation, quite legally of course. If these legal tax loopholes for the very wealthy were closed and these people were taxed at the "fair" level Libertarian fondly believes they are, a lot of the current cuts which are financially crippling the most needy in our society could perhaps be avoided.

  39. Tax Loopholes are a logical impossibility.

    The amount of tax to be paid is determined by tax law, without tax law there would be no obligation to pay tax at all.

    A loophole that allows people to avoid paying a "fair rate" of tax assumes a divine fair level of tax outside the law which simply does not exist.

    What you mean when you cry "Tax Loophole" is that the law, as written and passed by Parliament, allows people you don't like to pay less tax than you would like.

    Let's look at some legal ways to avoid tax (By your definition Loopholes)

    1. Put your savings in an ISA. You can avoid income tax and capital gains tax.

    2. Save some of your income into a pension to provide for your old age. You can avoid income tax and capital gains tax.

    3. Give money to charity. A higher rate taxpayer can avoid the top rate element of tax on his donated money.

    4. Fill your car up with petrol on budget day morning or buy duty free booze on holiday. You can avoid duty

    When millions of ordinary people legally avoid paying the maximum amount of tax every day there is no moral outrage?

    Most people would adopt Lord Clyde's very sensible view from 1929:

    "No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"

    You have no rational argument against the principle of people paying less than the maximum possible tax, you just have an irrational hatred of "the rich".

    There is nothing inherently wrong with being successful and having a lavish lifestyle as long as it is the result of your own hard work, intelligence and enterprise.

    I find it ironic, that people posting here are outraged (and rightly so) that all people on benefits are classed by some as worthless, scrounging, parasites. However, they are more than eager to embrace the idea that all rich people are undeserving, law-breaking and to be reviled.

    Clear thinking about the issues would be more useful than unthinkingly repeating the mindless prejudices of others.

  40. A few points for Bill who said:

    "This type of blather not only has a Keating type self serving false flattery inherent in it but is an ignorant and baseless historical statement."

    I think we can clearly see that whilst you may have some contrary data for living standards you cannot argue with the facts that Britain started the Industrial Revolution, was the worlds leading industrial power until the year of Dickens death. (When it was overtaken by a more genuinely Libertarian economy the USA.) Or that 10,000,000 square miles and 400 Million people were added to the empire.

    So perhaps your claim of "ignorant and baseless historical statement" was in fact unjustified.

    To your last point about the inclusion of inflation, if you take a look here:

    and enter the dates from Dickens birth in 1812 to his death in 1870 the real average earnings (After adjusting for inflation) increased by over 50%.

    However, I don't wish to get drawn into an endless debate on the detail of the statistics as they are not critical for the point I was making. Which was not that Dickensian Britain was utopia, merely that it is not valid to blame its political system for the fact that it compares badly with our modern society which has had the benefit of over a century of technological and economic progress.

    If you can show me a redistributive, planned economy of the same period in history that outperformed the somewhat laissez faire capitalism (Certainly not libertarianism) of Dickensian Britain, that had a better standard of living for its people, that would be a paradigm shaking fact which would certainly cause me to re-examine my views.

  41. I'm afraid I can't quote Wikipedia for this as they're hardly the pinnacle of Truth, so I guess I'll just have to draw on extensive sociology research.

    How about Rome? Greece? Egypt? Not only did these civilisations create considerable advances in science and medicine (we now know Egyptians had discovered electricity, had extensive plumbing and of course their architecture is renowned). They had incredibly advanced commerce and trade and, considering how limited they were in technology, the trade and industry was long-reaching: Egyptian blue-faience beads have been found in crypts in Wiltshire, for example, and of course Roman roads are still being used today.

    "But women weren't allowed to read or write!" Keeping in mind that women had the right to own property and also to vote, which was unheard of in Dickensian Britain. Up until I believe the late 60's, women weren't even allowed to present evidence against their husbands in court as their word was not to be believed. In Rome and Egypt, women were allowed to own businesses, land, and could divorce as they saw fit, join temples and even were philosophers of considerable import.
    New evidence arises that the women were just as educated as the men of the period and was available to any woman regardless of caste, especially if one took part in the various women-only temples.

    "But they had slaves!" Yes, well so do we - we call them migrant workers here. The difference being in Rome or Egypt you were often able to rise in the ranks of caste and become a business-person in your own right, or buy your own slave contract if you so chose. You could join the military (sound familiar? we do the same here) and then work your way up the ranks to freedom. The point was that even the poorest had options if they could take them, and even if they couldn't, the Temples had enough recourse to feed even the poorest or the disabled. For the rest, housing and food and feasting - and when the temple held feasts, everyone in the vicinity partook, rich or poor. The disabled, elderly, and vulnerable were considered a part of society which should be cared for and this was referenced in the teachings of Amenemope - “Man is clay and straw, the God is his builder,” Amenemope wrote in a book of moral teachings. “The Wise Man should respect people affected by reversal of fortune.” It was considered a moral duty in Egypt - to have kicked or beaten a beggar or a deformed person in Egypt would have resulted in flogging.

    "Well, if it was so perfect, why doesn't it exist now?" The answer runs: it does. This is the system all civilisations invariably come to, and it has repeated itself time and time again, in Japan, Persia, India, China, and South America. And such civilisations also fail for the same reasons over and over again - namely, the fat-cats at the top forget the little people at the bottom; the little people however outnumber the top by hundreds to one. When they get angry, the civilisation topples. And there is plenty of cause to get irked as well - as happens over and over again, the upper echelons become lazy and corrupt: witness vomitoriums, extreme inbreeding and the abandonment of the main city of Egypt by the Heretic Pharoah the Tokugawa period of Japan, on and on, points in history where the upper folk demanded more and more, which meant the lower folk had less and less, until invariably they became fed up and revolution took over. The civilisations collapsed and nothing remains but ruins.

    The point is civilisation which doesn't take a wholistic approach fails. And, unfortunately, the human race as a species is incapable of taking a wholistic approach as the species still hasn't reached a complete state of organised relationships - we're too greedy, too in-for-ourselves. And therefore, our society will fail just as others have done before us unless we adapt a very different moral code. And I have to admit, I don't think we've evolved that far yet.

  42. (Gods, what a nightmare trying to cram several thousand years of sociology into 4000 characters...I cringe, I truly do! But I just couldn't let that one go - Britain isn't the pinnacle of civilisations FFS)

  43. Libertarian,

    The usage of CPI bundles, as does, to project back pricing equivilants is a practice which is wrought with danger and highly inaccurate. Purchasing a pound of bacon in 2010 differs greatly from a similar transaction done in 1812. The impacts of widely different means of production, market forces, etc are ignored by this approach. To illustrate both the futility and fallacy of such an approach, go to their website, enter the current price of gold, project the price back to 1812 and then try to find any historical reference that comes close to an equivalent. Your outlook on history suffers from the same short comings.

    We differ to out conception of utopia. Mine has no place for Slavery or the genocidal massacre of the indigenous populations. These and other such aspects people associate with a civilized society seem distinctly absent from your observations of utopia.

  44. God, you're all brilliant! Even the views I don't agree with are illuminating. I'm loving this thread.

  45. As I said Bill, the statistical arguments are interesting but they don't underpin my point so there is little need to debate them for their own sake. (I am sure the other readers will find them rather dull). I am sure you can see it is highly improbable that productivity and living standards fell during a period when the country moved from an essentially agricultural economy into the industrial age.

    I am not sure where you draw the conclusion that my Utopia would include Slavery or Genocide! My only reference to Utopia was to state that Dickensian Britain was NOT it.

    It is a shame that someone clearly intelligent is incapable of rational debate without attempting to insult the holder of different views.

    Firstly you claim my facts are baseless which they are not, then you try to attribute me with views that favour genocide and slavery, which I don't hold.

    Perhaps your feel, quite rightly, that your arguments are not strong enough to compete without wrapping them in insults ?

    As a Libertarian, my two highest values are non violence (Except in defence) and personal freedom.

    These are diametrically opposed to genocide and slavery.

    Here are a couple of quotes from "The Ethics of Liberty" By Murray Rothbard:

    Firstly on slavery:

    "We have indicated above that there was only one possible moral solution for the slave question: immediate and unconditional abolition, with no compensation to the slavemasters. Indeed, any compensation should have been the other way—to repay the oppressed slaves for their lifetime of slavery. A vital part of such necessary compensation would have been to grant the plantation lands not to the slavemaster, who scarcely had valid title to any property, but to the slaves themselves, whose labor, on our “homesteading” principle, was mixed with the soil to develop the plantations"

    Then on war:

    "The libertarian objective, then, should be, regardless of the specific causes of any conflict, to pressure States not to launch wars against other States and, should a war break out, to pressure them to sue for peace and negotiate a cease-fire and a peace treaty as quickly as physically possible. Suppose, however, that despite libertarian opposition, war has begun and the warring States are not negotiating a peace. What, then, should be the libertarian position? Clearly, to reduce the scope of assault against innocent civilians as much as possible."

    hardly a mandate for Slavery and genocide!

    I am not a Utopia designer, but if pushed I would probably go for Nozick's model of multiple societal structures with freedom to choose which one you occupy. Anarchy, State & Utopia Chapter 10.

    As a libertarian, I have no problem with people choosing freely to live in socialist societies, or feudal ones, or islamic fundamentalist ones, or any other type they choose, as long as they don't compel anyone against their will to live under such a system.

  46. I share Oya's daughters respect for ancient civilizations. I know little about Ancient Egypt (Although I might study the area now as it seems very interesting) Ancient Greece produced some of the greatest literature ever written, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and the plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus. The works of the mathematicians of the time, such as Euclid and Pythagoras are still studied today and we can throw in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on the Philiosophy side for good measure.

    I would certainly not hold up Britain as the pinnacle of civilizations.

  47. A while back Libertarian in his defence of state-subsidised and protected capitalist parasites claimed -
    Good luck to the millionaires, for without people like Ford, Edison, Bill Gates, etc, the world we all live in would be a much less wonderful place.

    Bill Gates is a commercial success precisely because he represents an attack on the free-market and not because he represents an example of its successful operation. He is a monopoly capitalist parasite who crushes all opp0nents with the sheer weight of his financial power. His software is universally reviled as too expensive, too faulty and too elaborate. The free-market can't rectify his crap software because he doesn't allow it to work properly.

    Further, the research and development Bill Gates exploited for his initial strangulation of the free-market, in the newly emerging IT industries, was all under-written and paid for over the previous decades by American taxpayers via military defence contracts, part of America's welfare state for the rich, which privatises profits and wealth and socialises risks and costs (much like the recent property and financial speculation bubbles, whose risks and costs have all been passed onto the public taxpayer, but whose profits have been passed onto private corporate billionaire shareholders).

    As Bill points out, American slavery and the genocide of the native population are never factored in by traditionally trained economists when considering the causes of the economic miracle known as the 'American Dream'.

    Neither is the contemporary vast taxpayer subsidies ever considered, that go to keep the vast American corporate agri-buisness and military industrial complex welfare state from disappearing almost overnight if (by some miracle the American government became democratically accountable to American voters, god-forbid) their public welfare subsidies were to be withdrawn and they were forced to rely on the free-market for survival. Such public monies could easily be spent on more socially productive and meaningful ways, such as decent public health services, public education etc etc, but that would mean re-distributing wealth from the rich to everybody else.

    The champions of 'free-market capitalism' don't approve of the state when it isn't used for its proper purpose of providing a welfare state for the rich.

    The issue is not whether those living off the production of others are genuinely deserving or not. The issue is simply how many non producing people can each productive person support?
    - Given their historical record of slavery, genocide and approaching global ecocide, the real issue is, how many more non-producing parasitic corporate multi-billionaires can the human race afford?

  48. Joe, you are very confused!

    Firstly, Libertarians do not support state subsidized capitalists. Libertarians are anti-state in all its forms. One of the Leading Libertarian thinkers Murray Rothbard was actually known as "Enemy of the State"

    You will no doubt be staggered to discover that we share a number a views. (If you bother to read and listen to my views rather than just assume you know what they are and fulminate your polemic)

    I won't comment on Bill Gates, I don't know enough about his history and it is not relevant to my point. You cannot logically show that all millionaires are bad people by one example. Its a bit like saying I know one person claiming disability benefit who plays football for his local team, therefore all disability benefit claimants are cheats. It is nonsense.

    I will say that his software is not universally reviled. I love it! I could use open source operating systems like Linux, but I would rather pay for windows. I could use open office, but I would rather pay for Microsoft Office. Just because the anti-capitalist left and a few tech anoraks don't like him or his products does not make them universally reviled. They sit on billions of PC's around the world and nobody has ever had a gun pointed at their head to make them buy a copy.

    I personally know six multi-millionaires all are decent, honest hard working people who became successful in many cases starting with nothing and risking everything they had to follow a passion. Does that mean all millionaires are great people, of course not, but it does mean that not all millionaires are bad people.

    I agree with all your comments about the military, industrial state funded capitalism. It is not free market capitalism it is taking money forcibly from taxpayers and using it to buy power. (Much like the welfare system is a means of taking money forcibly from taxpayers to buy votes)

    US Neocons are in favour of a state that takes other peoples money in taxes to fund their favoured interests. Socialists are no different, they want to take other peoples money in taxes to fund their favoured interests.

    Only Libertarians think that taxing people to pay for any interest group is wrong.

    The US actually has one of the few Libertarian politicians actually in office. Ron Paul.

    His record in congress speaks for itself:

    He has never voted to raise taxes.
    He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
    He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
    He has never taken a government-paid junket.
    He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
    He voted against the Patriot Act.
    He voted against regulating the Internet.
    He voted against the Iraq war.
    He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
    He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

    If you are going to attack views, at least take the time to understand what they are!

  49. Claiming I don't understand your arguments is neither here nor there unless you can prove it.

    You used Bill Gates as an example of your Libertarian ethics but now admit you know nothing about him.

    I suggest it is you who have no idea what you're talking about as you quite rightly admit to.

    US Neocons are in favour of a state that takes other peoples money in taxes to fund their favoured interests. Socialists are no different, they want to take other peoples money in taxes to fund their favoured interests.
    - I quite agree, the neocon neoliberals are a "special interest" group who are in favour of a big nanny state for the rich, regardless of what the rest of society think.

    There is such a thing as democracy however, and if people agree to pay taxes to pay for cheaper and decent health, education and public services then that is how it show be.

    I see you seem to be characterising such views of support for public services as being socialist. I would call them sensible as they are cheaper alternatives to privatisation and commercialistaion of such essential social services. Even many big corporate interests in the US are in favour of a more public health services and I would hardly call them 'socialist'.

    Only Libertarians think that taxing people to pay for any interest group is wrong.
    - Claiming democratic mandates are a "special interest" tells a lot about how much you actually value liberty. I can think of many states that thought the same way about their own people too, including the US where 94% of Americans in opinion polls think that their own, so-called, democratic government pays no attention to their views.

    If you are going to support views at least take the time to understand what they are!

  50. Libertarians don't view democracy as synonymous with liberty.

    Democracy is simply the legalized oppression of the minority by the majority.

    Hitler was democratically elected by the German people and proceeded to use his democratic mandate to undertake a program of genocide against several groups of them, including the Jews, Gypsies and disabled. In your view of freedom this is perfectly acceptable as the "will of the people"

    The majority of Roman citizens were in favour of feeding Christians to Lions, so I suppose that must be OK as well.

    Just because a special interest group forms a majority of the people still doesn't give it the right to violate the individual freedoms of others. (Including the right to take their property by threat of force to pay for "social good".)

    As John Stuart Mill said:

    "The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good, in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it."

  51. The majority of Roman citizens were in favour of feeding Christians to Lions, so I suppose that must be OK as well.
    - Another strange argument.
    The Roman Emperor adopted Christianity as the official state religion so, I suppose, they were also wrong to do that as well, according to your bizarre system of ethics.

    And the Roman Republic/Empire was not a democracy, so I've no idea what your argument is here, which is claiming democracy is a bad thing. Unless there are Ancient Roman democratic elections and opinion polls I'm not aware of, regarding throwing Early Christians to lions, I don't see what the relevance is at all.

    Just for the record, as you seem to be a bit vague when it comes to historical facts, Hitler was not democratically elected but appointed German Chancellor. Once he became Chancellor he set about destroying the Weimer democratic German republic because he knew that democracy posed a serious threat to his ambitions.

    John Stuart Mill - the great champion of British Imperialism and a raving racist.

    Bill Gates - the great champion of monopoly capitalism.

    Henry Ford - raving antisemite who spied on his own workers and employed thugs to beat up workers who followed their consciences instead of Ford's orders.

    Just because a special interest group forms a majority of the people still doesn't give it the right to violate the individual freedoms of others. (Including the right to take their property by threat of force to pay for "social good".)
    - I'm afraid it does if the majority are suffering oppression and enslavement at the hands of a tiny minority represented by figures such as Bill Gates, Henry Ford and John Stuart Mills in his support for despotic rule in India.

    The majority have a perfect right to resist economic and social oppression by the wealthy and powerful forces of political reaction, and re-distribute wealth for the material benefit of everyone in society.

  52. Bravo Joe Bravo.

  53. Joe, the arguments are strange because you project your own prejudices onto them instead of taking the time to understand what is being said.

    The relevance of the Roman example is that majority opinion is often oppressive to the minorities. (And democracy is the political system that sanctions the right of the majority to do whatever it wants)

    Just because a majority of Romans were in favour of throwing Christians to the lions does not make it right. (Whilst there may not have been any opinion polls, there were not many empty seats at the colosseum or any records of protesters massed outside)

    The majority of the ancient Greeks believed slavery was right, that does not make it right.

    To give you a non political example, most people believed the world was flat, that still didn't make the world flat.

    The ethical nature of oppression is not changed by how many people think its a good idea, it is simply wrong whoever is carrying it out.

    The Nazi party won the greatest share of the vote of the Federal election in March 1933. The majority of the German people voted for the Nazis, I assume that makes it acceptable to implement Nazi policies in your bizarre system of ethics ?

    It appears in your strange world view all successful people are racists, monopolists, thugs and gangsters.

    We could perhaps look at the lives of some of the great re-distributors of wealth, such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe and his policy of stealing land from the rich white farmers and giving it to the needy. What a great man to admire and a great country to live in.

    How about Pol Pot and the glorious socialist Khmer Rouge. Another genocidal maniac who turned an entire country in a disaster.

    For a whole catalogue of mass murdering socialist regimes and their leaders take a look here:

    However, reasonable people understand that the merits of an argument are not determined by who can find the most examples of terrible behaviour by holders of each point of view.

    You understand that it is wrong for one group of people to exploit another, but in your strange view this only applies if you don't like the exploiters! You hold that it is perfectly acceptable for people you like to exploit people you don't!

    My "bizarre" system of ethics is much simpler:
    It is wrong for people to exploit each other.

    Whatever your personal views may be on the exploiters or the exploitees and no matter how many people want to do the exploiting.

    I agree with you 100% that it is right to resist oppression by "wealthy and powerful forces of political reaction". I just think it is wrong to replace it with oppression by the majority.

    The socialists always talk about re-distributing the wealth as though it was found laying on the ground and we just shared it out wrongly. All that is needed is to re-distribute the communal wealth and all will be well.

    Wealth is not found laying on the ground it is produced by the efforts of people. To "re-distribute" it, you have to forcibly take it from the producers to give it to those that the "All wise political leaders" think deserve it more.

    Not surprisingly when this actually happens, the producers stop producing and after a short period there is very little wealth to re-distribute.

    This is why in truly socialist regimes you always end up with a population in poverty queuing for bread and turnips.

  54. Because Joe gets so wrapped up in personalities and history at the expense of principles here is a simple way to understand the difference between democratic freedom (What Joe Likes) and individual freedom (What I like).

    Imagine an island in the middle of nowhere and ten people ship-wrecked on it. 8 Men and 2 women.

    This simple society agrees that they want to make decisions by democratic vote with one vote each.

    This works well for some time and the community flourishes. 2 of the men become sexual partners with 2 of the women.

    The 6 other men decide that it is unfair that they have no sexual partners and it would be just if the women gave "fair shares" of their sexual favours equally to all the men

    They call for a vote giving any man the right to have sex with any woman on the island whenever he wants, using force if necessary.

    The two women and their two partners vote against it, but the 6 other men win the vote by 6-4.

    If you believe in democratic freedom it is now OK for the men to force the women to have sex, it is the democratic will of the people.

    If you believe in individual freedom, a woman's body belongs to her and forced sex is a crime, rape.

    The community continues and one year later they have no food left and they are starting to starve. The group of 6 men get together and decide that the only answer is for the fattest one of them to be killed and a "fair share" of his body given to each member of the community to eat.

    They propose a vote that Joe, should be killed and eaten. The vote is passed 6-4.

    If you believe in democratic freedom then it is OK to kill and eat Joe, it is the democratic will of the people.

    If you believe in individual freedom then a man's life belongs to him and to take it is a crime, murder.

    Over time (after eating Joe) the community settles down and people spend their time doing different things. 2 of the men start farming and start to produce lots of grain. The 2 women start fishing and catch lots of fish. These 4 trade their grain and fish with each other and enjoy a rich diet. The other 5 men lay on the beach, and talk.

    After several months of this the 5 men who lay on the beach and produced no food are fed up with eating berries and roots and call a vote to share the grain and fish in "fair shares" equally amongst the group.

    If you believe in democratic freedom it is perfectly just to take the produce of others to give it to the more needy, it is the democratic will of the people.

    If you believe in individual freedom the fruits of a man's labour belong to him and to take them from him against his will is a crime, Robbery.

    I believe in individual freedom, Joe is happy with rape, murder and robbery, so long as it gets a majority vote.

  55. Bravo Libertarian!

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