FOAD

By DeusExMacintosh

Cameron's message to the Nation

David Cameron has said “your country needs you” as he urged Britons to “pull together” in the national interest. Seeking to outline a brighter vision amid the row over child benefit and spending cuts, he called for people to “step up” and play their part…

The prime minister said he knew people were anxious about spending cuts – due to be outlined in the comprehensive spending review in a few weeks’ time.

“I wish there was an easier way but I tell you: There is no other responsible way,” he said.

“I promise you that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country.”

The conference in Birmingham has been dominated by the backlash over plans to cut child benefit for higher earners from 2013. Mr Cameron said it showed the spending cuts would not be easy – but repeated his argument that it was fair to ask “those with broader shoulders” to “bear a greater load”.

However he said fairness also meant getting more people into work and warned that those “living a life on benefits” when they could work, would not be able to continue to do so.

BBC News

33 Comments

  1. Posted October 7, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    DEM Funny and pithy 🙂

  2. mel
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    According to nutty old Hayek, you better get used to the idea that you’ll soon be living in a concentration camp 😉

  3. Posted October 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Question DEM: would you say there is a lot of un-means-tested welfare/pork over there? There was a bit of a storm here when some of the welfare means to support families was cut away from those with 6 figure incomes. Our tories bleated how unjust this was (showing they have more objections to redistribution than government spending).

  4. Posted October 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Did you even look at the references I gave of Hayek at his best? As I said in that comment, a certain apocalyptic trend in his and von Mises thinking is understandable in the circumstances.

  5. mel
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    “As I said in that comment, a certain apocalyptic trend in his and von Mises thinking is understandable in the circumstances.”

    Umm, no, Lorenzo, Hayek showed that he is an immoral creep by engaging in holocaust pron in order to score a cheap political point.

    Hayek effectively spat in the eye of holocaust victims and consequently I bare my buttocks and pass wind in his general direction.

  6. Peter Patton
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Hayek effectively spat in the eye of holocaust victims and consequently I bare my buttocks and pass wind in his general direction.

    I’ve got my copy of TRTS right here. I don’t recall reading that in my copy. Which edition do you have and on what page does this spitting take place?

  7. Posted October 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Mel, I know you like to play advocatus diabolo, but for such a short thread this is already getting a trifle heated and DEM is in bed with flu, so isn’t around to supervise as much as she usually does.

    Play nicely, please!

  8. mel
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Sorry. Playing advocatus diabolo has on this occasion had me running around the study laughing and gesticulating. Even the wife is complaining about my histrionics 🙂

  9. Posted October 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    “As I said in that comment, a certain apocalyptic trend in his and von Mises thinking is understandable in the circumstances.”

    It is understandable because that is how we are built, we cannot escape our history. (Another reason to mock the concept “rationality”.) However it is raises the question as to what other aspects of his thinking and themes were the result of that experience. It puts a question mark over many of his ideas because you are asserting that in thinking through his ideas he was letting his personal history dictate his view of history writ large.

    I’ve read TRTS and knowing his heritage that influence became very obvious. If I were to read scientific papers where an author’s claims were clearly a result of his personal experience, I would probably stop reading that scientist.

  10. Posted October 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Not all his thinking has the apocalyptic tendency. See the two pieces I linked to.

    Yes, I agree that Hayek’s historical experience influence TRTS — I found it obvious when I read it — but that does not necessarily invalidate the points he is making. It is not, after all, a critique of the welfare state but of the command economy and pervasive centralised planning.

    [email protected] That’s crap. It was not the Holocaust which was informing his comment. He wrote TRTS in 1940-3, it was published in 1944, when the extent of Nazi death camps were not common knowledge (indeed, the Holocaust had not actually started when he started writing TRTS). It was the descent of Germany into totalitarianism he was wrestling with.

  11. Posted October 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Not all his thinking has the apocalyptic tendency. See the two pieces I linked to.

    But the central premise of many of his arguments, the danger of the State, could very much be a reflection of his personal history.

    His views are not automatically invalidated but then again neither are views of greenies automatically invalidated because green meetings are composed of “social workers and teachers”. Nor can it then be argued, as many do, that climate change advocates are simply rent seeking.

    It is a damned difficult issue to address, which perhaps explains why I prefer thinking about molecules rather than politics! What we see in the above cases – Hayek, greenies, and climate change, is that we are often compelled to invoke personal history as an explanation for one’s position. This can be useful for heuristic purposes but essentially is a shoot the messenger strategy. This is somewhat contradictory of me because my behaviorist orientation demands that one cannot think about how one thinks without giving due consideration to one’s personal history. For me at least “thinking” is a behavior, not a logical operation.

  12. Posted October 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Question DEM: would you say there is a lot of un-means-tested welfare/pork over there? There was a bit of a storm here when some of the welfare means to support families was cut away from those with 6 figure incomes. Our tories bleated how unjust this was (showing they have more objections to redistribution than government spending).

    Sorry to take so long to answer, I have been SERIOUSLY crook this week.

    To answer: no, actually there are very few universal benefits left, and having abolished Incapacity Benefit the last contributions-based benefit is now the old-age pension. Means-testing is the standard these days thanks to 13 years of Labour. People are attached to their reciprocal altruism, no matter how much that emotional satisfaction of sitting in judgement on their fellows actually costs.

    Personally I think a proper system of National Insurance (which is actually run as insurance scheme that invests premiums for the future rather than handing them straight out now) with a few Universal Benefits which people can top-up with their own private arrangements is the way to go.

    I did what I was supposed to do: I worked full-time and paid my contributions so I was lucky to be eligible for Incapacity Benefit when I was unexpectedly disabled (as I wasn’t high enough echelon to take out private disability insurance). It has good incentives built-in: there is no means-testing but it is taxable so you could theoretically use income from a one-off compensation payout to raise your income or there is the possibility of part-time “therapeutic work” to encourage you to remain engaged with the workforce. So having ‘paid my dues’ Labour and subsequently the Con-Dems decided to move the goal posts. It’s why pensioners aren’t buying it when Cameron says he’ll always take care of the elderly. He’s not doing well with ‘the sick’ so far.

  13. Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]

    For me at least “thinking” is a behavior, not a logical operation.

    A bit awkward for science, then.

    But you raise a very complex question. Patterns of belief can fairly clearly be traced to sociological factors. To take an obvious example, the prime way religions propagate is by breeding: religions run in families.

    But it is easy to give too much weight to this. We live in very complex societies which operate because of a stunning amount of overlapping understanding.

    In Hayek’s case, it is obvious that State power is a potential problem: the horrific history of C20th Europe demonstrates this particularly vividly, especially to Hayek. So, one may wish to put some discount factor on Hayek’s level of concern: but the general issue is a serious one.

    Similarly, if Green perspectives are concentrated in people who do not have to wrestle with various social realities, one may wish to put a discount factor on areas one has reason to think their perspective suffers from significant ignorance, or other distortions. This does not mean that environmental concerns and environmental degradation is not an interest worthy of serious thought.

    Alas, there are reasons to think our cognitive processes are prone to certain flaws when our moral attention is engaged. But, being aware of that, is the first step to compensating for it.

    It is a balancing act.

  14. Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    My second comment @10 was actually directed to Mel’s @5, not @8.

  15. mel
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Should have picked the Amazing Lorenzo up on this earlier:

    [email protected] That’s crap. It was not the Holocaust which was informing his comment. He wrote TRTS in 1940-3, it was published in 1944, when the extent of Nazi death camps were not common knowledge (indeed, the Holocaust had not actually started when he started writing TRTS). It was the descent of Germany into totalitarianism he was wrestling with.”

    Hayek made the tasteless holocaust jape I quoted in 1960, as you would know if you looked at the link.

    It was incredibly tasteless of him to be suggesting that holocaust survivors now on pensions could look forward to being returned to the concentration camps.

    Hayek was a moral pygmy, period.

  16. Posted October 10, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] The term ‘concentration camp’ is not a specific Holocaust term. The British used ‘concentration camps’ (that’s what they called them) to sequester Boer civilians to isolate Boer commandos from their civilian support. Nazi leaders such as Goring used to claim they were merely following the British example. (Indeed, I take it that why they used the term in the first place.)

    If Hayek had meant death camps, he would have said so. His remarks certainly made no specific reference to the Holocaust (or Holocaust survivors).

    I think Hayek’s comment was silly, and his rhetoric on this matter over-heated, but it hardly makes him a “moral pygmy”. His concern was, after all, to preserve people’s freedoms.

    Just to confuse matters, the rising interest in euthanasia has been seen in some quarters as following the logic of an over-extended welfare state.

  17. mel
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “Just to confuse matters, the rising interest in euthanasia has been seen in some quarters as following the logic of an over-extended welfare state.”

    You haven’t confused anything, all you’ve done is again demonstrate the unhinged hysteria that passes for intelligent comment in libertarian circles. I must say I find the spectacle entirely entertaining 🙂

    “The British used ‘concentration camps’ … If Hayek had meant death camps … I think Hayek’s comment was silly”

    ROFL.

  18. Patrick
    Posted October 11, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Not sure what is so funny about that, mel, I presume you can distinguish between the concentration camps invented by the British in South Africa and copied by the Nazis, with the death camps also developed by the Nazis?

  19. Posted October 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I do not remember seeing libertarian criticism of the push for euthanasia as being a manifestation of an over-extended welfare state (though it might exist somewhere). It is more the sort of thing that Catholics and other right-to-lifers go on about. But it is an interesting question about why euthanasia is on the agenda — and was adopted early as an option by one of the more highly developed welfare states (the Netherlands). I suspect changes in concepts of the moral grounding are probably more important, but it seems a reasonable question to ask.

    As for ROFLing, the “knowing” sneer is not an argument.

  20. Posted October 11, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    A bit awkward for science, then.

    Why do you think so much social science, including economics and psychology, are regarded as wishful thinking by so many? Our moral attention is always engaged when dealing with issues pertaining to society, wealth, and power. I find it laughable that the big arguments in economics appear to be the same arguments that have been going on for over a century. That is not a sign of progress but of stagnation.

    The big problem with regulating the financial industry is that it is unrealistic to expect regulators to be able to keep track of all that trading activity. Even the people buying and selling were not aware of what was going on. Worse still, if they were, dozens of them should be spending very long periods in the big house.

    The moral hazard issue relates as much to perceived income potential as it does to anything else. We will quite happily acknowledge that prohibition invites criminality because of the huge sums of money to be made, we are reluctant to acknowledge that the prospect of making multi-million incomes (up 10 million plus) can also induce people to take reckless risks with other peoples’ money. Why is that Wall Street makes more multi- millionaires than any other street yet the primary function is to provide capital to enable people who make things to become multi-millionaires?

    The problem is not going to be solved through regulation or better regulation or lesser regulation. It is essentially a problem that always happens with human beings: present them with the prospect of obtaining incredible wealth and status induces recklessness and criminality. Under our current financial structures we have to accept that bad behavior will arise because of the culture and incentives that permeate the financial sector.

  21. mel
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    “But it is an interesting question about why euthanasia is on the agenda — and was adopted early as an option by one of the more highly developed welfare states (the Netherlands).”

    Why? Anybody with a reasonably functional brain stem can work out that a country with a liberal agenda on things like gay marriage, smoking dope and prostitution is also likely to be a front runner on other liberal issues, like euthanasia.

    Besides, a society without a welfare net would probably be more inclined to want to liquidate the impoverished elderly in one way or another. It is illustrative that non-welfare states in southern and central America, the Phillipines etc often have business sponsored death squads to solve the problem posed by the underclass.

    “The government does not run a single youth shelter in Guatemala… Although the police still figure in many of the atrocities, Godinez attributes a new wave of violence against street children to private security guards, hired by business owners who see the kids as a menace.

    Even the Guatemalan government concedes that police officers and private guards are seldom prosecuted for crimes against children. ”

    http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/9802/14/guatemala.street.kids/

    We already know exactly what the libertarian anti-welfare state looks like. It looks like death.

  22. Posted October 12, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    [email protected] says “Why is that Wall Street makes more multi- millionaires than any other street yet the primary function is to provide capital to enable people who make things to become multi-millionaires?”

    To give full weight to John’s question, I remember reading in the Economist a year or two back that the proportion of US profits going to the finance industry climbed from about 10% in the 1970s to 40% in the year before the GFC hit. While a 10% hit /might/ be a justifiable slice of the pie deserved by creating efficiencies elsewhere, 40% is hardly an enabler of productive activity! How much efficiency elsewhere in the economy is required to justify a 40% cost?

    The protection rackets of the mafiosi were more reasonable.

  23. Posted October 12, 2010 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    [email protected] The big arguments in macro-economics have been going back and forth for a long time. Micro-economics has been doing rather better.

    But yes, social science does have a problem. Which is why, for example, I prefer quantitative sociology to the non-quantitative variety. And I have very little time for a lot of educational/pedagogical theory, which seems to be very little grounded in anything resembling decent empirics.

    As for the finance industry, I am actually more hopeful about the possibilities of correct regulation than you are, mainly because I only want it to do a few things. Combat fraud, require a certain transparency, insist on appropriate prudential standards, that sort of thing. I guess because I don’t “worship” markets: I just hold that they are human creations which are very useful if you keep in mind what makes them work.

  24. Posted October 12, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Your comments are “worse than wrong”. To describe ANY Latin American society as “libertarian” shows a level of wilful ignorance that is truly astonishing. The problem with Latin America is a form of social mercantilism, whereby regulations and approvals are used to advantage the elite and block everyone else. Folk such as Hernando de Soto have written very revealingly on this.

    If you want a more libertarian example, try Hong Kong, where the elderly are quite well looked after — mainly by their families of course, who are prosperous enough to do so.

    I am not sure I would want to claim euthanasia as a “natural outcome” of a liberal agenda. Particularly not active euthanasia (almost everyone support passive euthanasia in some form or other).

  25. Posted October 12, 2010 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Yes, well the US finance industry is not a shining example of anything much, except just how much of a mess a noxious interaction of bad ideas — from the worship of computer models, to undermining financial prudence, to overestimating the inherent stability of financial systems (did these people read NO history?), to creating massive one-way bets, to pushing home ownership in disastrous ways, to mismanaging money supply due to an aversion to inflation which had become positively phobic — can create. With lots of profits to wave around to encourage the entire process (or want to get a slice of it).

    Not helped by the fact that monetary economics is just hard. (Milton Friedman used to say in 200 years monetary economics had managed to go one step/derivation beyond David Hume — now it also looks at rates of change.) You still get perfectly sensible economists writing as if low interest rates are a sign of loose money and high interest rates are a sign of tight money when the reverse is generally the case (alas, one can only say “generally” because there are some circumstances …). Money is interactive and cross-temporal: it is just plain hard to think about. Worse, as with all social science, one is studying agents who can react to what you conclude — talk about observer effects!

  26. mel
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Oh yes, good ol’ Hong Kong:

    “The number of people living below Hong Kong’s poverty line has reached a record number, a study published Monday claimed.

    Around 1.23 million – or 17.9 per cent – of the population of the city of 7 million are considered poor, with the elderly and teenagers being the worst hit… The study, which analysed government statistics, found 32 per cent of those aged over 65 fell below the poverty line. ”

    http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/asiapacific/news/article_1503501.php/Record-number-living-below-Hong-Kong-s-poverty-line-study-shows

    Still, the thousands of old folk in caged homes look gorgeous: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_iq2vQY1Jeaw/SzURn2W-MCI/AAAAAAAARFs/roNRs8EQjEQ/s1600-h/Hong-Kong-Cage.jpg

  27. mel
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Another point Lorenzo. We know elder abuse by relatives is a serious issue. Prima facie it would be a much greater issue in non-welfare states as (a) old folk without independent means would have no chance to escape and (b) poor old folk are a financial burden on the family.

    And lo and behold, this study confirms my suspicion:

    “Physical abuse was best predicted by caregivers” nondependence on the participants as well as participants” dependence on the caregivers. ”

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/g0101756737nq27q/

  28. Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “The number of people living below Hong Kong’s poverty line has reached a record number, a study published Monday claimed.

    Around 1.23 million – or 17.9 per cent – of the population of the city of 7 million are considered poor, with the elderly and teenagers being the worst hit… The study, which analysed government statistics, found 32 per cent of those aged over 65 fell below the poverty line. ”

    Come on Mel, you don’t understand the imperative of economics. Wealth, it doesn’t matter how that wealth is distributed, it just has to be wealth. That is why we have “GDP” instead of a decile breakdown of production and wealth.

    It all trickles down Mel, like shite running down your leg. That was the grand vision. Now think about distribution of wealth shifts in the last 30 years. From a free market perspective wealth concentration is not a problem.

  29. Posted October 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I am confident that being poor in Hong Kong is a lot better than being poor in Guatemala, noting that

    The study defined poverty as earning half or less than half of the average monthly income.

    What the study found is that Hong Kong was becoming more unequal, which is not the same as falling income. Hong Kong has some odd difficulties, such as highly constrained land supply and a history of refugees from China turning up with not much, or otherwise disrupted family connections. It still manages to be a much better place to live than the mainland China alternative, though obviously its shift to more market-oriented policies has greatly increased the average standard of living.

    But, there is fairly robust cross-country data that economic freedom is good for poverty reduction.

  30. Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Again, what you are pointing to is the problems of poverty. Yes, dependence makes you vulnerable. Which is why prosperity is good, because it makes you less vulnerable in all sorts of ways. A well-run welfare state can reduce vulnerability: but a poorly-run one can just create new sorts of vulnerabilities.

    If and when (I suspect it is a case of when rather than if) the first welfare state goes bankrupt, that will change the politics, and not in good ways.

  31. Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] I refer you also to the literature on the positive connection between economic freedom, economic growth and poverty reduction, such as this paper.

    The wider issue of inequality is, as they say, complicated. There is good reason to think concentrated land ownership in agrarian societies has unfortunate consequences (see the updates of the Domar model I link to in this post). So, land reform which evens out ownership — provided it also allows clear title and secure rights — can be socially beneficial.

    The evidence on inequality regarding other sorts of capital is not nearly so clear cut, probably because it is much more fluid and because increasing the level of capital generally increases incomes, life expectancy etc, and so swamps any negative effects. Hence societies which are good at creating and using capital are better societies to live in. (See previous comments about economic freedom being positively connected to economic growth and poverty reduction.)

  32. Posted October 17, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    [email protected] If you really want to be depressed by the lack of the accretion of knowledge in macro-economics, try this post drawing parallels between policy responses in the 1930s and now.

  33. Posted October 17, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Hey Lorenzo,

    I imagine micro-economics is a fascinating area to delve into. I also imagine that the micro economists are working away in the back room and keeping telling the macro economists to shut up so they can concentrate on generating some good data.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Hacking, Legal Eagle. Legal Eagle said: FOAD: David Cameron has said “your country needs you” as he urged Britons to “pull together” in the national inter… http://bit.ly/91LA0H […]

  2. […] http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2010/10/07/foad/ […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*