Monday, 24 June 2013

Fun Online Polls: Syria & Indian Bicycle Marketing

The responses to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

Is arming the Syrian 'rebels' a good idea or a bad idea? Multiple selections allowed.

Bad idea - it will only benefit our arms manufacturers - 20 votes
Good idea - it will be good for our arms manufacturers - 18 votes

Bad idea - Arabs will just end up killing each other - 42 votes
Good idea - violent Arabs will be killing each other - 36 votes

Good idea - they will overthrow a dictator - 5 votes
Bad idea - the weapons will end up with Al Qaeda - 74 votes

Opinions on whether the first two likely outcomes - that this will (only) benefit our arms manufacturers and Arabs will just end up killing each other even more - are in themselves A Good Thing or A Bad Thing appear to be evenly split and thus both sides cancel out and can be ignored.

Which leaves us with the tie-breaker question of whether arming the Syrian 'rebels' will lead to the overthrow of a dictator (good) or just fall into the hands of Islamists (bad) and on this one the answer is crystal clear.

There you go, that's how you formulate pragmatic foreign policy. Sorted.

Total number of people taking part = 120, total number of options chosen 195, average 1.6 each. Thank you everybody who took part.
Today marks another high point for the Indian Bicycle Marketing practised by the three main UK political parties.

They have now all timidly suggested that some universal pensioner benefits be "looked at" or means-tested or that wealthier pensioners simply waive their entitlement, and been duly lambasted by the other parties for their callousness. Bonus points to the Tories - IDS suggested it, his leader dismissed it, and two months later the Chancellor proposed it again, e.g.

September 2012 Nick Clegg: wealthy elderly should lose winter fuel allowance and other benefits

April 2013 Iain Duncan Smith calls for wealthy pensioners to hand back benefits

Later the same day in April 2013: Cameron dismisses Duncan Smith's idea that well-off pensioners should hand back bus passes, winter fuel payments and TV licences

Early June 2013: Labour would cut winter fuel payments for rich, says Ed Balls

Late June 2013: George Osborne to review winter fuel allowances for the elderly

The whole thing is a joke of course.

Universal benefits are the best kind of benefits as they are the cheapest to administer, and the Winter Fuel payments (known as Christmas Bonus in less PC days of yore) only amounts to £2 billion a year, so if we take them away from the top tenth of pensioners (ranked by current income? Total wealth? Value of home?) that would "save" £0.2 billion a year at the cost of making twelve million pensioners fill in yet another form at huge expense, so the net "saving" will end up at something like 0.1% of the annual government over-spend, but hey.

But it's a good illustration of how Indian Bicycle Marketing works, even though all three parties have a similar policy on x, y or z, they all:

a) Slag off the other parties for having such a policy, and

b) Defend their identical policy on a different but inherently flawed basis. Broadly speaking, the Lib Dems want to do it on the grounds of "fairness", Labour wants to "focus spending on the most vulnerable" and the Tories want to try and "reduce the size of the state".

Anyway sod it, vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.


Bob E said...

Interesting piece gone up at the Indie site this very evening :-

New poll suggests most over-65s are ready to absorb some of the pain in the age of austerity

according to a ComRes survey "The general public agrees by a margin of 49 per cent to 46 per cent with the statement that pensioners should “be no more immune to the impact of Government spending cuts than other members of society.” Surprisingly, 56 per cent of those aged 65 and over agree with this statement, more than any other age group, while 36 per cent disagree.

In contrast, the strongest support for protecting pensioners was among younger people. Some 42 per cent of 18-24 year-olds agree that pensioners should be no more immune from cuts than others, while 52 per cent disagree. Men (53 per cent) are more likely than women (46 per cent) to think that pensioners should not be more immune to cuts than other groups.

View from the Solent said...

".. that would "save" £200 billion a year at the cost of making twelve million pensioners fill in yet another form.."

200 billion? Typo?

Mark Wadsworth said...

BE, very interesting indeed.

VFTS, thanks, I have amended.

Bob E said...

25th June evening update - it is being reported that :

The Liberal Democrats have rounded on Labour over their plans to include the state pension in the welfare cap.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said their proposal would have meant that the basic state pension would have been frozen this year.

His comments follow Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls's interview on the Sunday Politics this month, in which he said pensions would be included in a three-year cap on welfare spending because benefits have to be considered "across the piece".

"The Shadow Chancellor wishes to include the basic state pension in his short-term cap of welfare spending. Let me tell the Labour party what that might mean," he said at Treasury Questions today.

"Last year, the welfare forecast increased by £2.3 billion; if the pension had been included in the welfare cap, as the Shadow Chancellor suggests, it would have meant freezing the basic state pension this year, not increasing it as planned."

He also said he was was "certainly willing" to examine the payment of the winter fuel allowance to wealthy pensioners.

Later, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson called on the opposition party to clarify whether they would freeze the basic state pension.

"In difficult times, Liberal Democrats have stood up for pensioners and guaranteed them decent rises in the basic state pension every year with the pensions triple lock – a policy that we designed in opposition and have delivered in Government," the spokesperson said.

"In office Labour insulted pensioners with the measly 75p rise, now they need to come clean about whether they would freeze their pensions."

This is considered so important that the Liberal Democrat "have" the reports also suggest issued a press release to draw everyone's attention to what Danny said, but as yet, there is no evidence of said alleged Press Release on the Lib Dems website ..

Mark Wadsworth said...

BE, that's splendid stuff, we have done exactly 360 degrees round the IBM clock (or should that be 12 hours round it?) and back to exactly where we started with every party having proposed, and been slagged off for proposing, exactly the same, er, proposal.

L fairfax said...

If it means testing winter fuel saves £200 million and 12 million pensioners have to fill in forms.
Then surely if it costs more than £16 per form it would lose money?
Who thinks that it will save money?

Mark Wadsworth said...

LF, rational people like you or me would see that 12 million x £16 as an expense, it is a cost without benefit.

Unfortunately, the form printers, website designers and bureaucrats who'll process it all see that as INCOME, and ignore the time costs of the poor sods filling in the supid forms.