Chris Dillow’s latest thought piece has some bearing on the debate still bubbling in the comments here about whether life is sh1t or not. It is about white male resentment: but could for me cover all kinds of Conservative Miserabilism, of which that is just one variety. Chris asks: “what is the relationship between stated grievances and actual, genuine hardship?” . Discussing people’s perceptions of their position getting less priveleged:
Some are unhappy about “feminazis”, the “gay rights lobby” or the “race relations industry” because they feel less privileged now than in the past – even though, objectively, they are still privileged. . . . I suspect that this mechanism helps explain white male resentment. Some are unhappy about “feminazis”, the “gay rights lobby” or the “race relations industry” because they feel less privileged now than in the past – even though, objectively, they are still privileged.
He concludes: “Unfortunately, our pseudo-democracy does just this. It gives too little weight to the quietly oppressed, and too much to the noisy but discontented privileged”.
A letter from Alastair Campbell increases the pressure on Osborne:
His weakness is a shortage of credibility among serious economic opinion, not to be confused with media opinion, which went strangely overboard in praise of his speech to the Tory party conference . . . One of the reasons for his strategic weakness is the sense that he is more interested in short-term political tactics than he is in long-term economic policy
I’m hoping that a paper I launch on Friday will add to this pressure. If anyone likes mucking around with Excel spreadsheets of the GDP, I’ve got one here. All comments welcome. I’ll be updating it with instructions, apologies, excuses for simplicity (look, I spent an hour on it, alright? etc) and so on.
Britain has an economic policy that works, one that is small but perfectly formed. It is not the £175bn that the chancellor, Alistair Darling, has hurled at banks, apparently with no effect whatsoever. It is the paltry £400m that Lord Mandelson has spent on his car scrappage scheme.
Now, I’m typing s l o w l y so that Jenkins can understand. The £400m is spending. The £175m is this year’s deficit. Money on the banking sector was not spent, it was invested. And the returns from that investment can only come if you look at the counter-factual. And the counter-factual was: all the ATM machines breaking and the whole financial system stopping. Whereas the car scrappage scheme must be compared to . . . people replacing their cars later. And as the commenters point out: a lot of this flows overseas.
I like Keynesian stimulus. Despite Jenkins’ moaning about the closure of florists, we have not had much of a retail recession, thanks in part to the VAT cut. But with defenders like this, Keynesianism needs no enemies.
But this is all far too complicated for SJ, so he tries to deduce economic decision making from the perceived snobbishness of politicians. Schoolboy stuff, without the A level in economics.
Tim Leunig has an excellent column about public sector strikes. This shocked me:
Public sector workers strike far more often than those in the private sector. Since 2000, the number of days lost to strikes, per worker, has been 30 times higher in the public than in the private sector, even though public sector earnings have risen faster.
Finally, stop worrying about Swine Flu. See amazing graphic.