Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Fun Online Polls: Trump's travel ban & means-testing

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

Which general approach would you prefer for the UK..?

Trump-style travel ban for people from Islamist countries - 97%
Merkel-style welcoming all Arabs in, no questions asked - 3%

Even I, a trendy liberal metropolitan who dislikes everything about Trump, voted for the first option. Which just goes to show how out of the touch the most politicians and journalists are in this country.
The meddlers are at it again. The Institute for Economic Affairs - of all people - has recommended means testing of nursery subsidies, as reported by the BBC:

The Institute of Economic Affairs study says the right to 15 hours free care a week has distorted the market price.

It probably has, subsidies always do.

It also argues regulations have made it more costly, with many families on average earnings spending more than a third of their income on childcare.

Agreed, but the regulations (i.e. barriers to entry) are a completely separate topic. As to the "more than a third" figure, see below.

The government says it is investing £6bn a year on the facility.


The report argues that despite this investment, families are still paying huge sums for people to look after their children.

Yes they are, that's not really the point. Mum simply compares the net cost of a nursery place with potential earnings after tax, travel costs. Nursery costs quite possibly swallow half or two-thirds of the extra earnings, but the household is still better off overall (plus most kids like being at nursery).

By and large, the tax deducted from Mum's earnings (and the wages of the nursery staff) and the subsidies net off to plus/minus nothing either way, so the final clearing price is probably not that far off a true tax-free market price.

The way early years care is funded means that those who need help the most do not receive it, while many affluent families are generously subsidised, the report found.

This is lefty jealousy bollocks through and through. It's the "affluent families" who are paying most of the £6 bn cost. They are losing out overall. How many extra bureaucrats do we need to decide who "needs help" etc?

As explained above, when Mum is thinking about going back to work, the upper limit on she is prepared to pay for nurseries is two-thirds of her net earnings.
So let's assume that nurseries set their charges at about two-thirds of local average net earnings. Clearly, there is no point for Mum to take a low-paying job, and if that is all that she is offered, then there is simply no point taking it. Does this Mum deserve extra subsidies to bridge the gap? That would surely be economic nonsense.

All of which reminds me of the stupid Killer Argument Against Citizen's Income we looked at yesterday.

It's tempting to means-test stuff in the vague hope it leads to smaller government and lower taxes. Clearly, it does neither. You need much larger government to police these things, and the effective tax rates on those whose subsidies are tapered away becomes penal.

For example, let's take a family with three kids at state school, cost to the taxpayer about £24,000. It would be tempting to say that any household with income over £100,000 should pay the cost in full (or send them private). That is an effective tax rate of 24%, on top of normal effective tax rate on higher earners of overall 50% = 74%. If we also means test NHS access, the right to call police and fire brigade, use of subsidised public transport etc, that effective tax rate ends up close to 100% and there is simply no point earning anything more than whatever arbitrary threshold they dream up.

Therefore, if the government, in its infinite wisdom, decides that something is worth doing, everybody should have the same entitlement, end of. The real discussion is, should the government be doing it at all, yes or no. With nurseries I think very much yes, but I can see there are arguments against.

So that's this week's Fun Online Poll, which things ought to be means tested?

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.


paulc156 said...

Not so sure that politicians or media ate so out of touch.97% voted for a Trump style travel ban on here (probably you'd get a similar percentage of Sun and Daily Fail readers voting the same way)but even the US where they elected the idiot opinion is split down the middle on support/opposition for his ban. I doubt a ban would get any more popular support here.

Mike W said...

Fair conjecture Paul. I think I would have said wrongly 60%/ 40% for a Trump style ban in the UK. How about some data to play with?


The Sun - Daily Wail problem here would be the problem of keeping Saudis out of a ban. Tricky

Ralph Musgrave said...

Europeans seem to be very firmly in favor of ban on all further migration from Muslim countries. Scroll half way down to the chart here:


paulc156 said...

You pays your money you takes your choice I suppose. When specifically asked about the Trump travel ban most oppose it. http://news.sky.com/story/34-of-britons-would-back-trump-style-ban-in-uk-sky-poll-10749195

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, MW, RM, shall we just average those surveys, which asked different questions of different people and call it "about half each way"?

Lola said...

as i understand it what trump has done is to put a stay on immigration from countries already identified under obama as being risky for US security. For 90 days. Whilst his administration reviews the checking arrangements put in place under Obama. Who, let's face it, was pretty bloody useless. And this is what he told his voters he would do. I really do not see a problem with that. Making he analogy to the UK, one of the many reasons for Brexit was proper border control (one of the first priorities of government). Border control is not anti immigrant.

Bayard said...

Lola, you are making the cardinal error of letting the facts get in the way of a good story. If the liberal elite have got a stick to beat Trump with and can stir up their fellow liberals round the world into the bargain, why bother with the reality of the situation? It's not a ban on Muslims, as most Muslim countries were left out (it's not even a ban on terrorist-exporting Muslim countries, but wierdly, we don't go there either). However, as dog-whistle politics, it certainly seems to have worked a treat for both sides, as the responses on the poll demonstrate. Very few people are prepared to actually think about or look into this sort of thing; why bother when it is so much easier more satisfying just to let your prejudices rip?

paulc156 said...

MarkW. Yup. Sounds about right to me. To be honest I was basing my view tomainly on the US reaction to Trump's ban which is pretty much a even way split for/against. On reflection Europe does seem to have a more antagonistic relationship with the Muslim community more generally than the US because there is a much larger proportion of them here and far more new arrivals. Considering that, the UK [50-50-ish] ambivalence toward the Trump ban is itself a little surprising, but welcome surprise.

Ralph Musgrave said...

I don't agree with Mark and others above that it's about 50:50. The important point about the Chatham House survey (assuming it's accurate) is that OF THOSE WITH AN OPINION on the subject (i.e stripping out the don't knows), over twice as many want a ban on Muslim immigration as don't. Put another way, given a referendum, and on the not totally unreasonable assumption that the don't knows didn't vote, it would be about 66/33 in favor of a ban.

paulc156 said...

RM. You are conflating two related but different issues. Support for the travel ban is about 50:50 in the US and if anything, a bit less here. Immigration from Muslim countries is obviously considerably less popular, in Europe or I would imagine, in the US. Can both those situations (immigration unpopular, travel ban unpopular) exist simultaneously? Apparently the answer is YES.

DBC Reed said...

By British standards Trumps anti immigrant measures do not seem as toxic as Theresa May's anti-immigrant border CONTROLS to prevent Europeans doing a job of work here and paying taxes .I do not remember a question on the referendum form about increased border control.
BTW Associate Prof Pavlos Eleftheriadis from Oxford has exposed the unconstitutional basis of Loony May's Brexit proposals in The New Age .As Martin Wolf has demolished the economic case in the FT , we can be sure to face a fresh onslaught of unreality from the Brexiteers.

Bayard said...

"As Martin Wolf has demolished the economic case in the FT "

Please can you put up a non-paywalled link up so that I can go and see if it is the usual fare of speculation dressed up as fact that the Bremainers are wont to serve up. If that is not possible, perhaps you could let me know how much of his "demolition" was based on what has happened in the past and how much was based on what, in his opinion, might happen in the future. Just a rough percentage will do.

DBC Reed said...

@B I am surprised that you cannot jiggle about with Google to get free access to Martin Wolf's piece :not difficul even for someone as unworldly, modern media-wise, as me!
The "usual speculation"? You and the Beleavers are proposing to jump into a void with speculative estimates of untold trading riches all so we can have the right to be nasty to our fellow Europeans wishing to do a job of work here.The cartoon in the FT of Loony May about to launch herself, and everybody else, off a circus trapeze is quite haunting.
I am too much of a gentleman to point out as, Ms Toynbee does, that Beleaving is strongest in areas of low educational attainment and incomes.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RM and PC, these polls are tricky to read and it depends how you ask the question. If the UK had retained the stronger limits on immigration that it had until 1997 or so, would people be complaining? I doubt it very much. Have people got used to the new rules? Some accept them as normal, some don't.

But suffice to say, although the pol's and commentators are unanimously up in arms about Trump's "travel ban", there is a lot of support for it in the wider public, be that one-third, one-half or two-thirds.

B: "I am too much of a gentleman to point out as, Ms Toynbee does, that Beleaving is strongest in areas of low educational attainment and incomes."

OK. I have more 'educational attainment' and income than most people in the this country. Does that mean you think that my vote should count for more than other people's? I would sincerely hope not, that way lies ruin.