Saturday, 25 April 2009

The 'Evil Poor'.

Over the past few days, I've been watching in horror as prejudice against benefits recipients and the unemployed stacks up in the press and on the internet; as people decry even a small hike in taxation of the super-rich whilst advocating leaving the poor to stew in their own juices; as a slew of right-wing commentators have articulated their hatred of the welfare system on this blog. Like Dave Osler, I find it logically inconsistent that so many people seem 'to demand cuts in invalidity benefit and public sector pensions as a response to the financial crisis, yet explode in splenetic rage at the idea that the richest of the rich should pay tax at a rate slightly more in line with the bulk of the population.'
Dave has addressed the question of the class-war-that-isn't; what we need to talk about urgently is why, precisely, it is not okay to make even the slightest hint of a suggestion of putting the merest policyette into place that might slightly disadvantage the rich - sorry, 'wealth creators' - but it's fine to pour scorn, mistrust and hatred onto benefits recipients and the underpaid? When did it become alright to treat people on low incomes as if they were an entirely different, morally deficient species of person? When did it become alright to call the poor 'evil'?

No, really. Let's not forget that this week the Orwell prize for blogs was awarded to NightJack, a blogger who claims to be a white, middle-aged police officer posting about his experiences in the force, passing over, amongst others, the esteemed Alix Mortimer whose hyper-boots I am unfit to lick. One of his winning entries is entitled 'The Evil Poor'. Initially I assumed that the title was ironic. It isn't.

'This phenomenon of the evil poor has spread so that not a town in England does not have it’s unfair share of Kappa clad, drugged up, workshy, wasters swaggering through the town centre streets with a can of lager in the one hand and a bull mastiff on a string in the other. They aren’t out looking for a job or a chance in life let alone a wash.....They just want to get high, shag your 14 year old daughter until she is pregnant and nick your stuff. Sorry if that’s a bit bleak but it’s a lot true.'

I understand why we need to at least entertain the barely-literate frothings of the paranoid authorities, but must we give them a special prize too? Or shall we just all form a line to do a massive poo on Orwell's grave?

As John Scalzi eloquently explains, being poor is not a moral judgement. Poverty is something that the rich can choose to ignore, relying instead on lazy stereotypes churned out by a press that hates the disadvantaged. Poverty is not an identity. Poverty destroys identity, stripping you down to a struggle for life's essentials, consuming you with anxiety. Poverty is not an exclusive, alien community: poverty divides communities and fosters social alienation, aided by a government propaganda machine which encourages people of all classes to mistrust and spy on their fellow citizens. Have you seen those DWP 'we're closing in' adverts? Those ones with the voiceover by the actual Mysterons? You'd have to laugh if they weren't so deadly serious about stamping down on the 1% of benefits claimants estimated to be genuinely fraudulent - despite the fact that legal tax evasion by the top 1% of earners costs the country seventeen times as much as benefit fraud.

And poverty is the ultimate hallmark of inequality, the signpost which the struggles of all other minority groups use to rightly attest to their own marginalisation. Poverty is not restricted to minority groups; poverty can happen to anyone, without warning, especially during a recession.

I'm it all seems so very, very obvious, so fundamental to any notion of decency or political justice, that I'm forced to wind myself back to a point where I can see how some people might ever even think that leaving people who can't work, are out of work or are low-paid to be destitute and to starve is something that we can justify to ourselves, as citizens of one of the richest nations in the world in the 21st century. I can't understand how decent people could countenance such a notion. I'm trying to understand.

Poverty in this country exists. To claim otherwise is crassly ignorant and stinks of privilege. Absolute poverty exists. Nearly four million British children are growing up below the breadline, and some of them go hungry, or their parents go hungry so that they don't have to, on a very regular basis indeed. In winter, grandparents surviving on the state pension have to decide between food and heating. There are also 400,000 homeless households in this country. Four. Hundred. Thousand. That includes plenty of kids. These homeless people are either sleeping rough, leaving themselves at real daily risk of death by exposure or violence, or precariously housed in hostels and shelters, usually with little or no money for food, clothing and basic necessities. But relative poverty exists, too, and relative poverty has been shown to be equally damaging in terms of destroying social cohesion, damaging mental health and holding back progress. The real hurt of being poor goes beyond mere cold and hunger, although both are never far away in modern Britain. Stein Ringen says, in What Democracy is For (2007): 'It is about dignity, the ability to make choices and live one's own life, the risk to children, the feeling of exclusion.'

If you're wondering what a spoilt little rich kid like me is doing sounding off about what poverty is and isn't, you're right to do so. It's not done to talk about money in this country, for some reason, especially if we have it. There's an obscene fashion for whinging about how skint we are whilst conspicuously consuming. Well, I think that's crap. I think that until we can admit our own privilege, we have no business even *talking* about social justice. So I'll start with myself.

At the moment, I regularly find that I have a good deal of month left over at the end of the money, and I do not yet earn enough to pay tax. I am a twenty-something trying to make it in the big, bad world of journalism, I'm supporting a disabled partner and housemates on benefits; things I can't afford include meat to stop me getting anaemic, bedsheets without holes, a place to keep my clothes that isn't the floor, and any sort of holiday. In the years when I was really messed up, I was briefly homeless, and living on £10 a week after bus fares. I've slept in warehouses and on coaches. I've lived on porridge for weeks. However, I come from money. My parents became wealthy towards the end of my teenage years, and although I'm on a tight budget, if I ever got in real trouble I wouldn't, for example, have to sign right kidney away to a loan shark. I could call my dad, and, yknow, he would stop it all. That's privilege. I live in a nice warm houseshare with only a few mice. That's privilege.

Being rich isn't all about disposable income, either. As you will know if you follow this blog regularly, I am currently in recovery from a serious and life-threatening illness, anorexia nervosa. Because I was lucky enough to have parents who could pay for private healthcare insurance, when my illness led to physical collapse in 2004 I was able to be treated in a really decent mental institution, and that probably saved my life. If you're dying of anorexia and you have to go to the NHS, it's a very different story. All of the famous lady writers who did their time in loony bins - from Susanna Kaysen to Elizabeth Wurtzel to Sylvia Plath - they all went to private institutions, too. You don't hear back from the state-mental-healthcare graduates quite so often. In my recovery, too, money means a lot. In times when I really have been poor, not being able to afford proper food really took my mental health back down to zero. I couldn't afford to eat anything 'safe', so I just didn't eat. Now, although it might mean that I can't afford a drink in a bar or that new pair of shoes, I am able to ensure that I have enough food that I'm comfortable eating in the house. I firmly believe that if I was from a less wealthy family, and if I had been less fortunate in my choices after university, I would be much iller than I am now, presuming that I'd survived to my twenties at all. That's significant privilege. Having the chance at a second chance is privilege. My capacity to be shocked by how much privilege I enjoy is also a privilege.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sitting here every day beating myself daintily up over how terribly privileged I am. That sort of thing is self-indulgent, doesn't solve anything and is a very bad habit to get into. An even worse habit, though, is ignoring the fact altogether, and that's something that quite a lot of my middle-class friends, even the bleeding-heart liberals, have occasionally been guilty of. Refusing to believe in poverty, inequality and social injustice doesn't make it go away. Inventing some plausible reason why everyone poorer than you deserves to be poorer than you will not make it go away. Persuading yourself and anyone who cares to listen that even some poor people are 'evil' is disgusting, disingenuous and frankly cowardly, and it sickens me.

90 comments:

  1. "Nearly 4 million children in Britain are growing up below the breadline"

    I simply don`t believe you :) (or the guardian)

    There may well be 4 million children whose families fall some arbitrary distance below the median income, but I`m still not clear as to why that should matter.

    There is no reason why a person with a level of income adequate for certain agreed upon neccesities, with the same rights as every other citizen, should feel undignified, excluded or at risk, unless we accept that wealth does represent an individuals value in general.
    I honestly think that you have a twisted notion of the importance of money. Paying parents to raise their children, people unable to live their lives with dignity unless they have as much as everyone else - you`re the same as the (largely imaginary) sneering city boy lording it over others. For the rest of us, money and position aren`t *that* important (or if it is we tend to work for it).

    Also, I have a hard time accepting the argument that we should combat relative poverty so as to enable the poor more choice. Aren`t we simply taking the choices away from somebody else? I`d prefer to live amongst people who realise that their choices are limited by the dis/approval of others, rather than demanding (and forcing) payment so that they might do as they wish.

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  2. Following on from my comments on the previous posts.

    I really think it would help if you start calling a spade a spade.

    Poor = working class.
    Rich = bourgeoisie.
    Inequality = relationship of exploitation.

    The problem is not just that the rich are not helping the poor. The system of capitalism produces both at the same time, in the interests of those who control the means of production.

    An individual can be priviledged enough to have had a quality education, and relatively well-off parents. But if you don't own the means of production, then you are still working class, i.e. you are dependent on selling your labour power to live, because you can't profit off other people's work. If you can't work yourself, then you are therefore dependent upon the state and/or your social group, whereas rich (bourgeois) people on a trust fund are not!

    I just think that as a self proclaimed 'Red', it might be better to quote a bit of Marx at this point rather than a 'Liberal Conspiracy'... if not now, in the middle of the biggest economic crisis in decades, then when?

    Red Pepper is named after a paper from bolshevik russia, you know :-P

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  3. Partial quotes do make for a more impactive sort of post. I expect the first few lines passed you by in the rush to judgement. "Firstly apologies for the blatantly sensationalist and sweeping title of the post. It’s just that I could think of no better way to put it."

    There are not many of them, they are generally not poor by any material standard but I deal with them every week as do my colleagues and they are a real problem in the real world.

    In every town there are lifestyle criminals who are not victims of social injustice but rather perpetrators of social injustice on those unfortunate enough to live within their hunting ranges. If you have lived any sort of street life rather than some ersatz bohemian alternative you have probably met them. I did 30 years ago when I was living in squats around Vauxhall and Hamersmith.

    Being poor doesn't mean that you are evil. Being evil doesn't indicate that you are poor.Claiming every benefit going whilst pursuing a violent and criminal life of obligate unemployment is being evil poor. Not really poor in anything but humanity but steeped in evil. Not nastiness, not being a bit anti-social, not being hard to reach or hard to hear, no, really stamp on the head when they are down, mug grannies, abandon children, torture animals, hurt people for fun evil.

    Denying them by conflating them with the actual no safety net poor won't wash.

    Good luck with your recovery.

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  4. what really cracks me up is the idea of incapacity benefit fraud. you know, the incapacity benefit that they try to transfer you to from normal JSA if you're ill for a day over 2 weeks. they tried to put me on that recently when i had bronchitis. wtf.

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  5. The future, it seems, is the 1840s.

    At this rate, we'll be shoving children up chimneys and calling it "vocational education"!

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  6. "things I can't afford include meat to stop me getting anaemic"

    As any vegetarian will tell you, you don't need meat to stop you getting anaemic.

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  7. The article was very good and touched on a few points that reminded me of something. Also the irony of the Orwell prize being given to someone in the authorities has such a cruelness about it.

    Anyway, its kinda funny that growing up in both South Essex and Cambridge I found people there far more hostile, obnoxious and a wee bit mental than Sheffield when it came to poverty. Having the mix of ex-pat sons and land owner's daughters as well as the voluminous middle class urchins for which I belong they all seemed untied in hatred at anyone deemed 'poor'. It was weird. Out in the countryside every village has at least one council house (go progressive 60's socialism) and the city itself has a solitary council estate that generates far less of the crime than the middle class.

    And yet every other student at my old sixth form were obsessed in class, either aspiring to be pretentious and chic or slamming down chavs with the same kinda jokes that were if used against ethnic minorities not so long ago. Somehow the absolute isolation from the reality of modern life had reinforced in these people this idea that those below the breadline were all psychotic, polyester tracksuit wearing criminals instead of the majority being like everyone else working hard for a living.

    And alas a lot of these people will be very successful in life and further distance themselves in almost apartied style segregated communities like the gated communities in America and then wonder why there's vandalism on their property.

    But that is only my experience as alas another privileged disenfranchised youth born in the corrupt eighties.

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  8. You need meat to avoid anaemia? I've been a vegetarian since I was seven and haven't suffered from that once...

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  9. Lol I knew I was going to offend someone with that!
    I tried being a vegetarian for a couple of years, and I'm still mostly veggie - as much for reasons of taste as reasons of economy, I despise the sensation of eating flesh *insert innuendo here*. However, at certain times of the month I do just fall asleep all the time, no matter how many iron tablets I chow down, unless I have some meat - normally mince disguised by some acceptable sauce.

    Of course there was also that year where I only ate boiled eggs and green apples.

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  10. Nightjack - hi, thanks for commenting. Your explanation here goes a lot further than, I think, your post does. I'm sorry, but putting in an 'I'm sorry this is going to be sensationalist' note does *not* excuse hate-speech. Which is what that was.

    If you actually meant to make a distinction between the 'evil' poor and the 'deserving' poor (whoever they are), then you need to make it more explicitly and not make jokes at the expense of a large swathe of the public who are only going to be further damaged and alienated by language like yours, especially coming from someone in a position of law-enforcement.

    Some of your other posts are great, though!

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  11. Nightjack -

    With respect - genuine respect, too, not the condescending kind - if you're writing about a minority who "mug grannies, abandon children, torture animals [and] hurt people for fun" and then dub them with names like "Adibok boy"...well, I don't think it's Laurie who's guilty of conflation.

    Hearty congratulations on the award, though!

    Ben

    (This comment system's so nice; it discreetly informs me when I've buggered up the html.)

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  12. "Persuading yourself and anyone who cares to listen that even some poor people are 'evil' is disgusting, disingenuous and frankly cowardly, and it sickens me."

    The easy solution to this is, of course, to realise that those poor people aren't people after all!:

    "Darwin must be turning in his grave at some of the creatures (it’s the only word for them - i refuse to acknowledge they are human as human beings don’t behave like that) i see the state supporting."
    ~TheBinarySurfer, commenting on NightJack's post.

    Well, damn. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that anyone's been misrepresented and dehumanised, it's that they weren't human in the first place.

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  13. Reading through the backlog of NJ's blog, he does, elsewhere, make the distinction between what he calls 'the evil poor' and everyone else, and also concede that some people who are 'evil' aren't even poor at all. I know that there are some people who grow up emulating a culture of criminal behaviour. I'd still question the moniker 'evil', but the caveats make the distinction sounder.

    The trouble is that unless you draw that distinction EVERY SINGLE TIME, you are automatically feeding into a culture that believes that anyone earning less than £18 grand a year is automatically an evil knob. And that doesn't make anybody's day easier. Certainly not a police officer's!

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  14. Penny
    In terms of money and possessions people in the UK are not really poor... millions of people around the world are far worse off.

    People are unhappy with their lives and that makes them feel poor. They feel like they need money to make them happier. It'll help to a certain extent but they're going to figure out an easier way. That's why I advocate the commune. It's the way out.

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  15. Dude, I basically live in a commune. It's like real life, only with more hippies and fewer square inches of clean floor.

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  16. Well you're half way there .. only a few more square inches to go. Why don't you squat?

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  17. ...because we've got chairs?

    (because I like being able to vote)

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  18. You can still vote if you are homeless:

    http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/homeless_peoples_rights#5

    That would be the safest method for somebody squatting in an insecure location. However if you are squatting indefinitely then I think you could register that as your current address.

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  19. I reckon your partner should get his act together and find rent free accomodation. Money saved. Next he should start bin diving. More money saved. And money for Bob Hope and booze? How much is that?

    But ultimately you've got to realise that your body is crying out for a baby. And that your head realises that it can't have it where you're at. You want the best for it but you're surrounded by crap and unsupportive people. Your writing reeks of frustration.

    Take a holiday with your parents. Stop shouting and look at nature.

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  20. ."If you're dying of anorexia and you have to go to the NHS, it's a very different story. All of the famous lady writers who did their time in loony bins - from Susanna Kaysen to Elizabeth Wurtzel to Sylvia Plath - they all went to private institutions, too. You don't hear back from the state-mental-healthcare graduates quite so often."

    Your blog is fascinating.

    Not to plug myself here, but I did actually write a book about exactly this experience (and yes, the treatment was pretty awful, but it didn't kill me. On the contrary, it was so bad I decided I may as well start recovering as the alternative was living there forever).

    Your comments strike so many chords with me that I don't know how to answer. I'm a Cambridge grad that came from a local comprehensive, and whilst I intellectually deplore the depictions of the poor in the right wing press, at some twisted and bitter emotional level, I fear the images portrayed by them. Stereotyping is a powerful thing.

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  21. Divine - okay, I'm starting to find this offensive and invasive. Who the hell are you to criticise my partner (who I do not talk about on this blog)?

    Who are you to DARE to presume ANYTHING about my body, what it wants, and how much hold it has over me?

    Your writing reeks of unspent wankery. Go and toss one off and stop spewing sexist bile all over the internets.

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  22. Judith - thank you. Um, do you have any links to extracts from your book? It sounds fascinating. What are you doing with yourself now? X

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  23. Nightjack said...: "In every town there are lifestyle criminals who are not victims of social injustice but rather perpetrators of social injustice on those unfortunate enough to live within their hunting ranges."

    A lot of people fit this description who don't wear Adidas and are sometimes very middle class.

    They're also not technically criminal, since they've got the resources and education to figure out how to screw over society legally. The army of salesmen who doorstep elderly people to hard-sell things they don't need? Scientists who sell their integrity to the highest bidder? Tobacco executives?

    It's always a lot easier to see the bad people amongst a class you don't like to start with, and want an excuse for treating badly.

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  24. But you did mention your partner and that he has disability in the top of the article!
    You also mentioned your body a lot and what it has put you through.
    We can't get rid ourselves of our bodies, nor their physical demand to reproduce, the major drive of our adult lives. We are part of nature.

    Sure i've been missing my wank sessions so perhaps it's time to open a page of playboy and follow your advice. Need to get rid of all the bile ... smile.

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  25. "When did it become alright to treat people on low incomes as if they were an entirely different, morally deficient species of person? When did it become alright to call the poor 'evil'?"

    Well, I suppose that was the basis of the workhouse system and that came in in about 1834, I think.

    But since post-1979 politicians began to actively dismantle the social democratic consensus, it has been expedient to ramp up support for apparent moral explanations for the unnecessary levels of poverty and despair that are the results of their chosen policies.

    I think there's signs that some on both the centre-left and centre-right are rethinking this approach.

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  26. Um, theoretically if you click on my name you should go to my site, but my host has been being a piece of poo lately so you might have to just google 'judith's pad'. It's got the blurb on there at least.

    "Or shall we just all form a line to do a massive poo on Orwell's grave?" <--- Stellar line.

    Am I to assume Mr. Divine's baby comment was not ironic? *Scared*/

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  27. Cunt Features Mcgee26 April 2009 at 16:00

    Anonymous - back in the real world, what about those people earning more than 150,000 a year as a result of their labour?

    What about those who have built up their wealth through their own hard work?

    What about those of us (most of us) who work and have some savings?

    The expoliters are no longer the hereditary upper class or chubby top hatted capitalists, but the managerial types who seem to have proliferated under the current government. I reckon we should worry about them first.

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  28. "things I can't afford include meat to stop me getting anaemic"

    I'm a vegetarian and I'm not anemic. But if I were I would get iron pills free on the NHS.

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  29. "Lol I knew I was going to offend someone with that!"

    I don't notice any vegetarian getting offended by your comment about anaemia and vegetarianism, but I think we're all just a bit puzzled that you are blaming anaemia on a vegetarian diet. I too am a veggie (for 12 years) and I've never suffered from anaemia. There is more than enough iron in the standard veggie diet. Your tiredness at certain times of the month may be more to do with your monthly cycle than anything else - most women do experience some tiredness around then, this is to do with the plunge in estrogen levels and rarely is it iron-deficiency anemia. But if iron pills are not working and you can't attribute it to your cycle then perhaps should get it checked out.

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  30. oh why bother is anyone bothering with the ill-named divine? his body is clearly only crying out for sectioning.

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  31. neuroskeptic - do you know if the NHS will prescribe OTC hayfever pills too?

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  32. Judith
    My baby comment was not ironic. I think all female bodies between the ages of 14 and 40ish are 'designed' to make babies. We are just like any other animal. It's just that society, morals and language complicate matters. I've actually got four kids so I'm not scared. In fact I want more and my wife has agreed that I can have a second wife. I've seen your picture and ...

    Who Knows: are you discriminating against people who have been sectioned like Penny, Judith and ..... me? Another bigot.

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  33. Re : feminists in loony bins - did Kate Millett and Shulamith Firestone go private ? I got the impression they were both pretty short of cash - although in Millett's case it may have been the hospital fees that made her poor.

    re Nightjack - I think the point he tries to make - and one that you were moving towards acknowledgement of - is that the people who suffer the most at the hands of the evil poor are other poor people - and the poorest and most vulnerable suffer the most.

    If a psychopath moves next door to me I can always just about afford to up sticks elsewhere - even (at a pinch) if things were so bad that I couldn't sell the house. You travel light and would have no problem moving. But what if you've got a council house and kids ? What are your choices then ?

    In the last three years, at least six men with 'learning difficulties' who were living in local authority accommodation have been tortured to death for amusement by feral young neighbours - Mark White, Brent Martin, David Atherton, Steven Hoskin, Kevin Davis and Stephen Gale. Fiona Pilkington was driven to burning her daughter and herself to death after being "tormented by youths who mocked her child’s severe learning difficulties". In a recent case, a learning disabled couple were told that the local council (Houslow) owed no duty of care to them after they had sued following an incident where the couple were sexually tortured (nine years ago) in front of their children over a weekend.

    These things are happening now.

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  34. Penny -- have you ever considered that life is just a bit of a struggle and you have to get on with it as best you can? That maybe you cannot solve issues like poverty or wealth. And that the best you can hope for is something kind of ok. Rather than a world of milk and honey.

    A lot of people oppose the 50% tax because they know it won't work. Tax is a redirection of investment capital. And if the government are wasting that money. Which I believe they are. They are damaging the long term welfare of society. The best way to help the poor is pull them out of tax system completely.

    Also I'm fully aware that this isn't a perfect solution. But I think it would help the majority. And that is all, as far as I'm concerned, that you can hope for.

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  35. Divine, the drive to reproduce has bugger all to do with anything discussed in this post.

    Fecking New Age Lunatic

    As a university student who's never experienced any serious lack of disposable income, I can't really relate to this post beyond, Uh, Yeah, I suppose I should feel bad. But anyway.

    Felt the need to call Divine out, is all.

    John Doe

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  36. @Mr. Divine:

    There will be no justice in this world until the last politician has been strangled with the guts of the last hippie.

    Horrible yuppie larvae.

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  37. ANON
    AAAAHHHH no stop this this... I;m gonna die laughing mate.

    I've just come in from chain sawing. The chainsaw had been to the chainsaw shop and it really cuts through the wood like a knife through hot butter. Have you ever chain sawed? Nobody messes with you when you've got a chain saw going in your hands. Then you get this after glow of power. And when you''re faced with a bit of attempted third rate piss take well you have to have a shower to steady yourself.

    VROOM VROOM I'VE A GOT A HUSQUA VARNA AND I'M OK

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  38. who knows: you can get anything on the NHS, OTC or not. If you have a medical need for it.

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  39. Oh Lord, where to start? I think with a few questions:

    Was this really a tax hike for just the super rich? Sure, earning over £150,000 makes you wealthy, but not super rich. Especially if you have to give a minimum of 50% of that to the government.

    You do understand that there is a difference between wealth creators and the rich? Sure, wealth creators may also be rich. But we do need wealth creators, especially when the economy is in the toilet as it is right now.

    Do you see a difference between poverty and being poor? Because there is a big one.

    And to clarify - do you mean tax evasion or tax avoidance? Because the latter (which the left seems to be focussed on at the moment) is perfectly legal. Unlike... say... benefit fraud.

    Your whole post misses the point - that whilst police officers might feel disgust at those they have to deal with on a daily basis, what a lot of people on what you would define as the right-wing think is that the welfare state (and, in particular, dependance on it) is not the best way to fight poverty. If anything truly destroys identity, it is being dependant on the state and not working for a living. That is what needs to be addressed - not the levels of benefits in the country.

    The poor aren't evil, Penny. Nor are the rich. But you need to take those empathy skills you use so well with the poor and use them with the rich as well. And then you might understand why they resent having such a high proportion of their incomes taken by the state.

    TNL

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  40. "Was this really a tax hike for just the super rich? Sure, earning over £150,000 makes you wealthy, but not super rich. Especially if you have to give a minimum of 50% of that to the government."

    Well, it will only be the earnings over £150,000 that are taxed at 50% so no one will be paying a minimum of 50% of their income to the government.

    So it'a nothing on the first c£7,000, 20% up to c£38,000 and 40% up to £150,000.

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  41. "Well, it will only be the earnings over £150,000 that are taxed at 50% so no one will be paying a minimum of 50% of their income to the government."

    Until you factor in NI and the various indirect taxes... at which point, some people will be paying a hell of a lot more than 50%.

    And my point still stands - £150,000 is not super-rich.

    TNL

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  42. Well, now I think it's time for the clown to appear and for us all to have a good laugh:

    James Purnell: Delinquent Tenant

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  43. This was a worthy piece.

    Congratulations.

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  44. "And then you might understand why they resent having such a high proportion of their incomes taken by the state."

    Surely you mean, why they resent having such a high proportion of the incomes of the people whose work they get rich off taken by the state?

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  45. "Surely you mean, why they resent having such a high proportion of the incomes of the people whose work they get rich off taken by the state?"

    Oh yes... I forgot... on this planet people are incapable of making decisions about their spending for themselves. David Beckham isn`t a talented footballer who people want to see play... he`s an exploitative member of the upper classes who tricks(?) people into giving him their hard earned money.
    Same goes for Gordon Ramsey, Cherie Blair and anyone else who earns more than 150,000?

    And presumably the same doesn`t go for those working on the public penny (despite the fact that their payment is extracted by force) - only our benevolent government can save us from exploitation at the hands of the capitalists - of course, government does things for nice fluffy reasons whereas individuals do things for nasty reasons.

    Phhheeeeeew...

    Glad you all cleared that one up for me. There was me labouring under the illusion that people were capable of making decisions for themselves.

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  46. "on this planet people are incapable of making decisions about their spending for themselves"

    People make perfectly fine decisions but they make them against a background of uneven ownership. E.g. there's nothing necessarily irrational about choosing to take a minimum wage job, because other people own all the property (that you could work on, or that you need to survive) and without working for them you'll be forcibly excluded from it.

    The pattern of who benefits from a given business reflects who had wealth going into it, which reflects the same processes in the past, back until some act of violent acquisition.

    "presumably the same doesn`t go for those working on the public penny - only our benevolent government can save us from exploitation at the hands of the capitalists"
    No, the same applies to them.

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  47. "Oh yes... I forgot... on this planet people are incapable of making decisions about their spending for themselves. David Beckham isn`t a talented footballer who people want to see play... he`s an exploitative member of the upper classes who tricks(?) people into giving him their hard earned money.
    Same goes for Gordon Ramsey, Cherie Blair and anyone else who earns more than 150,000?"

    There's such a thing as cooptation, or call it class bribery if you want it put in more personalised terms (I would prefer to talk about this systemically but I realise that these comments have got a bit personal and I want to be understood!). Nobody's suggesting that David Beckham directly exploits anybody. Gordon Ramsey I think the case is borderline, if you have seen him on TV?!

    Occasionally people get paid so much that they can start to live off the interest from their investments, and then they move from the working class to the bourgeoisie; that's the price the latter sometimes have to pay in order to convince people to do their dirty-work in terms of the practical task of exploitation, repression etc.

    I wouldn't even deny that Cherie Blair, works hard, say. But 10 times as hard as the people who are on £15,000 a year? How would that even be possible?

    Yes tax can be exploitative if it's not spent on democratically agreed lines. But it's just naivety or wilful blindness to resent the money that is taken from you in tax, and to overlook the surplus value that is extracted at the point of production by employers taking a profit.

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  48. PS Penny have you read 'policing the crisis' by Stuart Hall et al?

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  49. The Nameless Libertarian said...

    "Well, it will only be the earnings over £150,000 that are taxed at 50% so no one will be paying a minimum of 50% of their income to the government."

    Until you factor in NI and the various indirect taxes... at which point, some people will be paying a hell of a lot more than 50%.

    And my point still stands - £150,000 is not super-rich.

    TNL

    Er, no, because National Insurance is capped at 1% in the higher tax band (as was). More than that, the lowest earning fifth of the population pay more in tax than the highest, precisely because of indirect taxes which eat up a much higher percentage of their income. That's precisely why we need to move away from them and onto progressively-graduated income-based taxes. My gripe with this move is that it doesn't go nearly far enough.

    It's rather amusing that in your attempts to critique the tax system you succeed only in demonstrating that you don't know how it works.

    Finally, less that 1.5% of the working population earn more than £150,000 a year. That counts as ultra-rich in my book.

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  50. In the 1970s top managers earned 15 times the average wage of their employees. In 2009 top managers earn 75 times the average wage of an employee. Spot the difference in the differential, ie., top managers wealth has increased by a factor of 20 compared to their workers. Tax the buggers I say and if they don't like it they can fuck off abroad. Let's see if the Americans, French or the Germans will treat these "talented" individuals any better. If you want to live in a law abiding and a civilised country you have to pay for it.

    How I'd love to be in the 50p tax bracket!

    The idea that someone like Bill Gates would work less hard or need more encouragement because his income tax increased by ten percent is absolutely bloody silly.

    And can someone please tell me why the rich need financial incentives to work hard while the poor only deserve coercion and punishments to do "encourage" them into doing same thing (a la James Purnell)?

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  51. "And can someone please tell me why the rich need financial incentives to work hard while the poor only deserve coercion and punishments to do "encourage" them into doing same thing (a la James Purnell)?"

    Because they're so rich they don't actually need to work at all :-P

    Whether the general population actually need the kind of work they are doing, in the way they are doing it, is another question :-)

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  52. Acorn (original and straight from the Quercus)28 April 2009 at 15:09

    @ TNL

    If a welfare state discourages hard work and encourages welfare dependency why was there so much poverty in Victorian England? During that epoch, so beloved of Lady Thatcher, England had virtually no welfare system beyond personal acts of charity but did have an Empire that cast its shadow over 25% of the globe. Again, during the industrial revolution when England led the world in science, engineering, commerce and military might there was plenty of work, not much welfare, enormous wealth and simultaneously hellish grinding poverty and an appallingly short life expectancy for countless millions of poor unfortunates numbered among the working class. It has only been through political will, education and legislation by socially just and enlightened governments that we enjoy our current state of semi-civilisation.

    I'll tell you what.

    Give me an example of a single nation with a less well developed welfare system than the UKs in which the general population is better off and more prosperous than any European country you care to mention, or even America which has a much less well developed welfare system than ours.

    This nonsense about "get the economy right and leave it to the market" is rubbish. Without redistribution and regulation every society will end up as a hideous mess with the poor beholden to the rich for scraps from their table.

    Let's see you sell the nineteenth century as the way to go to any country other than England in the EEC.

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  53. Oh, and I also note how little concern we see from the libertarians for the poor buggers who are about to have their Incapacity Benefit cut compared to that for the ultra-rich who are going to have to pay an extra few quid a year in tax.

    The argument though that benefits are not the best way to get people out of poverty is a good one. I wonder, though, when the right-wingers making it will start to advocate the kind of economic policies that will ensure the kind of secure, virtually-full employment we enjoyed prior to the Thatcher years and the absense of which resulted in benefit dependency in the first place. I'm guessing for the meantime they'd rather stick to the absurd fantasy that unemployment is behavoural, enabling them to blame the victim, even as it tracks the country's economic state virtually perfectly.

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  54. Manic Street Preacher28 April 2009 at 17:34

    Just out of interest can anybody give me an example of any right-wing government at any point in history voluntarily doing ANYTHING for their poor?

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  55. Actually japan between 1920 and 1943 could be considered right-wing. Their policies were very much supportive of the poor.

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  56. that wasn't me. get your own name.

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  57. Shit some dick been using my name as well tecton. This is my name so sod off and get your own. Nasty right wing thief.

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  58. Acorn (original and straight from the Quercus)29 April 2009 at 07:58

    Damn! That's true! Japan was mostly right-wing when it instituted a welfare state based on the European model; however the reason for this was mostly Japan trying to appear more advanced than other oriental countries in its neighbourhood rather than beneficence toward its poor. But still, tecton (or someone using that handle) tells no lie viz Japan's welfare system. Fiddlesticks!

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  59. Manic Street Preacher29 April 2009 at 08:59

    Fair enough Japan is one right wing state that helped out the poor but can anyone tell me any other?

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  60. Anonymous wrote...

    "Following on from my comments on the previous posts.

    I really think it would help if you start calling a spade a spade.

    Poor = working class.
    Rich = bourgeoisie.
    Inequality = relationship of exploitation.

    The problem is not just that the rich are not helping the poor. The system of capitalism produces both at the same time, in the interests of those who control the means of production.

    An individual can be privileged enough to have had a quality education, and relatively well-off parents. But if you don't own the means of production, then you are still working class, i.e. you are dependent on selling your labour power to live, because you can't profit off other people's work. If you can't work yourself, then you are therefore dependent upon the state and/or your social group, whereas rich (bourgeois) people on a trust fund are not!

    I just think that as a self proclaimed 'Red', it might be better to quote a bit of Marx at this point rather than a 'Liberal Conspiracy'... if not now, in the middle of the biggest economic crisis in decades, then when?

    Red Pepper is named after a paper from bolshevik russia, you know :-P"

    They used to call them vulgar Marxists back in the day. Class is cultural as well as material. There are lots of people who work for the average wage or less, who, in their habits, customs and ways of thinking etc, are clearly middle class, and plenty of people from working class backgrounds who've done well for themselves materially, who maintain, to all intents and purposes, the way of life they grew up with. Marx argued that your material conditions play a large part in forming your consciousness. And so, with this people's culture(s) are developed on the basis of that material foundation: that the material differences lead to cultural differences, and not only as an outward signifier of one's class but also in peoples concrete motivations. That culture then feeds back into the material world. When people organise around a defence or extension of their privileges they often do it on a cultural basis. Whether it be skilled manual workers against unskilled labour, middle class professions protecting their positions from educational reform, threatening their own jobs with wider admission to their professions. The crude view of class some so-called Marxists come out with is quite funny. And I'm not even a Marxist! What we've had in recent years is a "middle class" trying to distinguish themselves from the "working class" in a period in which their conditions are fiercely under attack and social mobility has almost ground to a halt as a social phenomenon, and with all this ‘chav’ rubbish taking off since from 2003(?) onwards, their has been a new found social acceptability of parading your class-based prejudices. But also there are power relations bound up in culture. I think that's the key point, that if you ignore the cultural component then power relations as a social paradigm are often so downplayed as to be completely irrelevant in the cruder Marxist materialist understandings of class.

    Think of base and superstructure as not just being about us and them, but a big Cornish pasty with a hearty filling that needs to be fully digested.

    Oh yeah, and Red Flag talks shite.

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  61. This is all very interesting pineapple but its a bit theoretical. Penny wrote about the poor in Britain. Does your analysis mean that nearly everyone is working class and nobody is poor?

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  62. But your unintentional 'Third Worldist' type class analysis has concluded that there are no poor in Britain or indeed anywhere in the advanced industrialised parts of the world, and all hitherto attempts, official or otherwise of measuring such a contested phenomenon are wrong. While neglecting to notice that this position of yours has been borne from that which you have supposed to have negated. You too, are seeing the relativity of poverty to not only material factors but shifting morals, only your focus is on the part of the world with great abundance in human and natural resources, but because of being integrated into the world capitalist system in a subservient position, are exploited to their severe detriment. They create wealth, but it is largely consumed elsewhere, including those who travel to this very different world, in order to "find themselves." Two sides of the same coin isn't it?

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  63. "The crude view of class some so-called Marxists come out with is quite funny. And I'm not even a Marxist! What we've had in recent years is a "middle class" trying to distinguish themselves from the "working class" in a period in which their conditions are fiercely under attack"

    Hmmm... I'm the same anon as made the comment you quote. I am very much a cultural materialist, believe it or not. Hence why I recommended the stuart hall book. I would contest the idea that the middle class are autonomously 'trying to distinguish themselves', which is how you characterise it. I dislike the term 'middle class' because it implies the alternatives of 'upper class' and 'lower class', which reduces the question to a matter of prestige rather than economic power. This is similar to why I dislike the classifications 'rich' and 'poor' because it implies that these exist in parallel rather than as a result of a direct economic and power-relation. But anyway, what you call the middle class is, like you say a differentiated formation which combines elements of the salaried working class (what some might call a 'labour aristocracy'), and the petit bourgeoisie... But the more important point is that this formation is not simply acting autonomously in it's own interests. In the long run it would be in its own interests to ally with the rest of the working class against the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, it is being actively coopted by the bourgeoisie, and in turn, tries to either coopt or villify the working class.

    This doesn't necessarily depend on any conception of 'base and superstructure' - we can accept that culture is more than just an epiphenomenon without denying that there is a fundamental difference between people who own enough property to live off the profits, and those who are compelled to work for a living. This distinction to a very real extent limits what kind of cultural activity people are able to enter into.

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  64. Pineapple

    I realise that poverty can also incorporate culture, friendship and expectation. Consequently, there can be problems with the definition of poverty. I want to just use the word 'poverty' to mean basics like clean water, adequate food and shelter. To me when people haven't got these essentials they are living in poverty. Everyone in Britain has access to these so nobody is living in poverty. Would you agree?

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  65. No, not everybody in this country has access to adequate food and shelter. I personally am living in a house where people regularly go hungry due to lack of money. Water, being that we've got a great sanitation network in the UK, is a different matter. But if you really thing that everybody in the UK has even these basic necessities, you're kidding yourself.

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  66. Anonymous...

    I haven't talked about any such thing, a striving to autonomously distinguish themselves. Hence the ambiguity hinted at by using inverted commas. There is more to it than just the correct relation to means of production = proletarian. The working class is not insulated from ruling class ideology. Whether you think they are fools or not, there are those (and there are plenty) who seek to create a line between what they fear of becoming themselves, or really are to degree, and then what they aspire to be or have attained partially. People hang onto this label "middle class." It helps them sleep a little better at night.

    "a fundamental difference between people who own enough property to live off the profits, and those who are compelled to work for a living. This distinction to a very real extent limits what kind of cultural activity people are able to enter into."

    Of course, but again these material differences between the "proletariat" are cause for serious difference. And the middle classes have never tried to protect their own positions from those poorer than themselves! Whether they don't extract surplus from others, or only act as intermediaries or administrators for those wearing penguin suits and top hats, does not deny that they too have privileges to protect, although ultimately remaining in subservience, to the detriment of other working class people.

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  67. Mr Divine. No, I don't agree with you. More later. Gotta go for now. x

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  68. Penny Red
    I don't want to upset you but in your blog about yourself you write that you drink and smoke and consume too much. I would even suggest to you that the people in your house can obtain adequate food. Part of it is changing expenditure. But you can also get good food from food bins ( I had to do this lots of times when I lived in the States) and soup kitchens. This is quite different from living in a place where there is no clean water, no medical facilities or medicine and very little food.

    You know in some places they eat about three different types of food all year round. The water has gardia in it and many people wrap themselves around the waist with clothe to ease the pain of this disease. And people are trying to tell me it's relative, it's the same as Britain, trying to twist definitions. There is no poverty in Britain.

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  69. Acorn - you can say what you like about the benefits of a welfare system, but if you`re suggesting that the major difference between the economies of Victorian England and Britain of the 21st century are our methods of redistribution, you`re barking up the wrong tree (just barking?). How about the ten fold increase in the productivity of our work and the size of our economy?
    You don`t think that might have something to do with it?

    Anon:

    "Occasionally people get paid so much that they can start to live off the interest from their investments, and then they move from the working class to the bourgeoisie; that's the price the latter sometimes have to pay in order to convince people to do their dirty-work in terms of the practical task of exploitation, repression etc."

    So, basically retired people are our enemies? I`ll be sure to tell Mater and Pater that their exploitative bastards the next time I see them - I think they might be rather suprised about that one.

    I`m not claiming that Cherie Blair works ten times harder than someone on 15,000 a year (though it probably *is* possible) - but really, that`s something that is just about impossible to judge. Is it really a good argument for equality? Blithely redistributing the wealth of society on the basis that people *probably* work as hard as each other and without any concern as to how this might act as an insentive towards laziness seems like a partcuarly bad idea. Especially when there doesn`t seem to be any clear justification for believing that a change in attitude towards wealth might achieve exactly the same result without any of the negative side effects.

    Once you achieve a certain level of wealth, it becomes a game. Obviously, most of us would like to win, but knowing that you`ve been *let* to win is completely unsatisfying.
    Cheating is more fun...

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  70. I think i missed a not somewhere there....v

    basically changing attitudes=good

    wealth redistribution = namby pamby childishness

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  71. Mr Divine,

    I think I'm missing something with your line of argument.

    This is clearly true: "But you can also get good food from food bins ( I had to do this lots of times when I lived in the States) and soup kitchens."

    but I can't really see the value of a measure of poverty that doesn't include people who have to rely on waste products and charity in order to eat - whether or not they happen to live in a rich country.

    I don't understand your point.

    Yes, people picking through the rubbish heaps in Manila are worse off that people rummaging through the bins behind Sainsbury's.

    But they're both really badly off.

    Surely you position isn't that people rummaging through the bins behind Sainbury's should be feeling lucky and grateful for their wealth.

    Is it?

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  72. Acorn (original and straight from the Quercus)29 April 2009 at 19:02

    @ Mark

    I don't know what's happening here. I think you may have a fever of the brain or similar my dear Mark. First I talk about relative poverty among contemporary UK citizens and you talk about women's suffrage. I then try to illustrate how free-market orientated societies habitually do less for the poor than in my view they should, invoking Victorian Britain as an example - an era when Britain owned an Empire won by invasion and military might and were busily fleecing a third of the world deaf, dumb and blind - an era when this country was hardly richer and more powerful internationally - seeking to contrast Victorian Britain's colossal wealth with the cruel and inhuman poverty that existed in every garret of every town and city and you ramble about industrial productivity increasing ten fold over the last one hundred years (or so) missing my point entirely!

    The point I was trying to make is this (italicised):

    Without a progressive taxation system and conscious redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor the poor are doomed to stay relatively poor forever.

    Fucking hell, Mark! The next thing you'll trundle out of your arsenal will be Ricardo's Iron Law of Wages, or similar, to argue that not only should wages be low but as low as humanly possible for reasons I won't bother to go into!

    Your hero Milton Friedman is actually right in what he says in respect to the free market and control of the money supply if men and women were only collections of atoms and molecules acting as economic entities and not sentient beings imbued with a full gamut of human faculties praised by philosophers and poets for millenia. Friedman's thesis that the market is not just one solution to economic woes but the only solution long term is WRONG in human terms. Friedman wanted everything effectively controlled by Adam Smith's "invisible hand", including welfare, health care and education, which services may or may not exist based on stochastic, ambiguous so called "market forces". It seemed to be beneath a Nobel laureate's nose that in a democracy most people would be exceedingly unhappy placing their fate and the fate of their family on what is essentially a roll of the dice to determine their foreseeable future, which might be one of famine, feast or even extinction based on the unforgiving market and carrying Friedman's theory to its dismal conclusion. A government implementing Friedman's full policy would quickly find itself voted out of office at the next election.

    It is difficult to argue with right-wing free-marketeers and their primitive muscular pseudo-virile Darwinist outlook on the world. To do so needs must appeal to human qualities like dignity, compassion, mercy, kindness, morality, decency and nobility, all the things deliberately left out of the equation in respect to how to order an economy and/or a society by Friedman and his ilk. Personally I could not rest easy in my bed knowing that I lived in a country where children starved or were malnourished or the elderly were not cared for. The market cares not one whit for the poor or for the rich either for that matter: the market is cold, unfeeling and completely impersonal. I may be on a hiding to nothing because to understand what I'm saying you necessarily have to possess a normal moral and emotional apparatus acquired in part genetically, educationally and experientially as you forge relationships with others, explore and become acquainted with the world and its many cultures and mature as a person in your own right. If this apparatus is absent my words will have no resonance whatsoever and will be unintelligible. Under these circumstances I might as well be standing on a cliff top shouting into the wind for all te good it will do me.

    But, whatever, at least I tried.

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  73. "Anon: "Occasionally people get paid so much that they can start to live off the interest from their investments, and then they move from the working class to the bourgeoisie"

    Mark: So, basically retired people are our enemies? I`ll be sure to tell Mater and Pater that their exploitative bastards the next time I see them - I think they might be rather suprised about that one."

    If your Mater and Pater genuinely live off *the interest* from their investments, yes they are bourgeois. I seriously doubt that is the case though. Far more likely they live off their savings plus a pension. Of course the pension is earning interest, but are you saying that the basic savings are completely untouched...?

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  74. "I`m not claiming that Cherie Blair works ten times harder than someone on 15,000 a year (though it probably *is* possible) - but really, that`s something that is just about impossible to judge. Is it really a good argument for equality?"

    It's not an argument for equality. The drive for equality is an ethical value.

    I adduced this particular example against the idea that people like Gordon Ramsey and Cherie Blair, who are getting paid more than £150,000 a year (so someone implied) are somehow 'earning' more than people who get paid £15,000 a year.

    Oxford English Dictionary: Earn: To render an equivalent in labour or service for (wages)

    There is obviously no 'equivalence' when they are getting paid this disproportionate amount. If the amount they were working couldn't be calculated that would actually strengthen my point, because it would make the idea of 'earning' redundant. Though to be honest I think it would be very easy to find people earning £15,000 a year who work harder than Cherie Blair and Gordon Ramsey.

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  75. "Whether they don't extract surplus from others, or only act as intermediaries or administrators for those wearing penguin suits and top hats, does not deny that they too have privileges to protect, although ultimately remaining in subservience, to the detriment of other working class people."

    Pineapple, I think we are probably in agreement as far as this post of yours goes.

    But I had one general point to make about the rhetoric around the words 'capitalist' and 'bourgeois', which has been *again* brought up by your 'penguin suits and top hats' remark.

    It seems that there is a rhetorical trope around that goes:

    - A Capitalist or a bourgeois is a fat man in a suit and top hat (cf Eisenstein films, Bolshevik propaganda, etc)
    - Rich people are no longer fat, and they don't wear suits and top hats, some of them are even female
    - Therefore there are no more capitalists

    Put that way, it seems an absurd point, which it is.

    But I think that this is actually an important verbal gambit that reactionaries make to naturalise their position and undermine genuine analysis:

    First reduce class to a question of style, rather than economics. Then point out that styles have changed. If class can only be located in terms of fashion, then it seems class has gone too. Only it hasn't.

    Associating the words 'capitalist' and 'bourgeois' with lazy stereotyping devalues the terms, when I think they are actually very useful analytical categories, as opposed to the static and misleading categories of 'rich', 'upper class' or whatever.

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  76. Fucking Hell, are you unable to see when someone is not being serious? It was a joke, a throw away remark, you pompous fool. That's twice now.

    Jesus fucking wept. I've never come across someone so dense around these parts.

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  77. I doubt you even know what Bolshevism is.

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  78. David Floyd
    I'm talking about poverty not people being better off o worse off. My excursions into the bins in the States wa due to the fact that I couldn't get social security benefit and that I ran out of money and found it difficult to obtain work without a green card. In Britain you don't really need to do this .. you've just got to manage the money you get from benefit properly. In third world countries people don't get benefits. many people don't have running water and electricity. Many are living in a small hut with no flooring and dirty water going past their front. And you're trying to say they are the same as people in Britain!

    We are all rich in the West.

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  79. "Fucking Hell, are you unable to see when someone is not being serious? It was a joke, a throw away remark, you pompous fool. That's twice now."

    A throwaway remark which directly undermined the main point I've been trying to make since the beginning of this exchange, which is what I felt was most at stake with the original article. Hence I thought it bore repeating, as it demonstrated your basic oblivion to the semiotics of 'culture' which you claim to be particularly interested in. But hey, if you want to continually reiterate bourgeois ideology with cheap cracks, there's not much I can do about it...

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  80. And by bolshevik imagery, I mean this kind of thing.

    http://www.internationalposter.com/poster-details.aspx?id=RUL07095

    But of course you will say you knew I knew what I meant and you were only making a throwaway remark!

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  81. "A throwaway remark which directly undermined the main point I've been trying to make since your basic oblivion to the semiotics of 'culture'"

    No, it didn't. And you realised it was a throw away remark only after I had to point it out to you. You were in obilivion so to speak. And what is it to 'continually reiterate bourgeois ideology?' Are you free, autonomous, without any organic link whatsoever to this present and past? Stop trying to be 'wordy.' You come across like a teenager who is trying too hard to be an intellectual. You picked that sentence out of a book, right?

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  82. "And by bolshevik imagery, I mean this kind of thing.

    http://www.internationalposter.com/poster-details.aspx?id=RUL07095

    But of course you will say you knew I knew what I meant and you were only making a throwaway remark!"

    Gosh! I never would have known. You know during the partial and attempted reform of the Stalinist political system - the Khrushchovsk​aya Ottepel - that upon releasing American film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town to Soviet audiences, and primarily in order to ensure against reiterating bourgeois ideology, they altered the title, right?

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  83. "You picked that sentence out of a book, right?"

    Wow, another commenter with bibliophobia!

    (By the way, you have quoted two of my sentences hacked together, thereby producing a single nonsensical one).

    For my part, I'd forgotten how tedious internet flamewars can get, so it's back to the library with me. Might try commenting on here again in future when there's a bit of 'revolutionary discipline', i.e content moderation.

    That said though, I think I prefer the Mr Divine's of this world to the left-wingers(?!) who think cheap humour trumps intellectual rigour... still, I'd be the first to admit that the 'bantering' and class-compromised tone of these comments was set by the original blog, which was what I weighed in to address in the first place.

    Hope my intervention was food for thought for Penny anyway, if only to show her quite how anally retentive some of her readers are (I don't make an exception for myself)!

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  84. "intellectual rigour..."Now, that was a throw away remark!

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  85. Marco Pierre Whiter-than-white30 April 2009 at 08:54

    This is a warning!If you cook meat and pineapple together the protease enzyme, bromelain, present in the pineapple's juices, will tenderise the meat by breaking down the collagen in its fibres? However, too much exposure to pineapple makes meat go mushy, floppy, anemic-looking and become unpalatable.

    Consider yourselves warned!

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  86. That looks like it was a bit of a mouthful.

    Oh, matron!

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  87. The pseud part was posed as a question. If it was spoken, it would no doubt be done in that irritating way Americans and Australians have a fondness for, emphasising the last word.

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  88. Listen - it`s not about getting what you want, it`s about wanting what you`ve got.

    Simple.

    @Acorn - try to see it from my perspective. Only time will tell if i`m right or wrong, where as if we see it your way we could all fall apart before too long.
    Is it really neccesary for me to keep on talking until I can`t go on?

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  89. Acorn (original and straight from the Quercus)30 April 2009 at 16:09

    @ Mark

    Most of the world's economies were free market up until the second world war. In all of them massive poverty existed among the many while spectacular riches were distributed among the few. As far as I can see unregulated free markets have always led to disproportionate wealth distribution; that much is borne out by history and seems, as far as I can see, inescapable. Incidentally I myself am currently in the 40p tax band salary-wise. Although I'd prefer to see more of this tax hypothicated for and spent on good causes - health, education, environment, housing, welfare etc - I don't mind paying my way to live freely as part of a tolerant secular society.

    But, OK, Mark, let's agree to disagree.

    We are doubtless different kinds of men and I pray that your views ARE wrong and will not triumph in the end. The world you advocate is not one I would personally like to live in but you're not a bad guy at heart and I wish you well.

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  90. It will ALWAYS be hard to claim you give a fuck about humanity, because you are not a liar. And you made it clear that you were, at least originally, very well off. The internet is full of self-righteous assholes. DUH big red truck. Most, and I do mean most, think that the internet has given them the opportunity to proclaim there opinions. Opinions that these, in their minds, few people MUST express.

    Idiots all. I have watched the development of the internet since it's outset. Since it's beginning.

    Putting a real opinion onto this media is at best a gamble, at worst... well you see my point.

    To love the masses was once the idea of loving humanity. Good times those were. Now it means loving those who have the brains to keep up, while ignoring the idiots who interfere. And they sure as hell do interfere.

    I am tired of carrying them. I am DONE with carrying them. There are too many idiots who live on my coat tails while I show them the truth and all they do is use it against me.

    FUCK THEM. Fuck the vultures of enlightenment.

    Honestly, I will still "carry" my family and close friends, can't help it.

    FUCK the rest of you. GET OFF MY CLOUD.

    You don't deserve it and I will no longer help you stay on it.

    Get real or get off.

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