Saturday, 17 March 2012

Why Put Out A Fire, When You Can Set More Shit Ablaze?

I'm still very new to this "economics" stuff - maybe we'll get some more intelligent comments if Tomsk happens by - but it's not clear to me how this makes sense.  Obviously, I have dog in this fight (or rather, there are a lot of my friends who do), but one would think that if the Tories are working on the principle that tax cuts for the rich are stimulative (and to think just two days ago I was saying Cameron had more in common with Obama than Mitt Romney), then surely the same would apply to keeping wages comparatively high in economically depressed areas?

I mean, to an inexpert mind like mine, it's almost as though Tory fiscal policy is thinly-veiled ideological bullshit untethered entirely from reality.

Like I said, though, I could be wrong on the impact, economically.  I mean, culturally, it's an obvious clusterfuck. It's strange how often the Conservative response to life being shit for some people is to try and make life shitter for others.  "Some people in the North are actually as well off as those in the South East, and we're going to do something about that" doesn't particularly sound very "Big Society" to me, unless of course one uses the actual definition of that term, which is "sort out your own problems, I have to make sure my mates can by more bigger yachts".

In short, Cameron and his pet vampire (the only one known to transmute blood into oil) continue to be pure, pudgy evil.   I just can't be sure yet that the numbers don't add up.


BigHead said...

In one sense it is a fair idea: why should one person paid by the state doing basically the same job as another end up with less purchasing power than another? In another sense, it's not very fair, because poorer areas tend to be less fun to live in, and hence you deserve more money to work there.

If public sector workers are fairly mobile then it would also be a bad idea, since first of all people are going to try to move to the nicer areas, so the worse areas are going to be left with the lesser workers, which isn't going to help them. Also if you have been working in a poor area for a long time and then move somewhere better-off you're going to be pretty poor, which isn't really fair.

So I can see where they're coming from, but overall it doesn't seem like a very good idea to me. It's a good example of why trying to be "fair" is a bit of a waste of time, because you will always fail.

SpaceSquid said...

In general, I'd agree entirely, though I might put it slightly differently and say the problem is that equality of treatment and equality of outcome are not the same thing (frequently clashes between conservatives and progressives seem to come down to which of those two are more important).

In this case, though, I think the criticism can be stronger - this isn't just an example of equality of treatment being over-valued, it's also a case of "equality" being defined far too narrowly, as though two jobs can be considered the same because their title and description are identical nationwide.

Tomsk said...

Fairness is the last thing on the Tories' minds. Their real reason for doing this is to ensure that private firms in areas such as the north east are not outbid for labour by the public sector so they can continue to force wages down. In the Tory view this makes these areas more "competitive". As usual with Osbornomics this theory completely fails to take into account knock-on effects such as lower total purchasing power in the area and the incentive already mentioned for talented people to leave in search of better-paid work. Not to mention that the basic idea that the public sector somehow crowds out the private sector is itself perverse (especially at a time of high unemployment).