Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Some Tories ne-e-early get it.

Tim Montgomerie in The Sun:

A YOUNG person from a town or city that has seen its main industry close has two choices – if you can call them choices.

Choice one is they move to London or another prosperous part of South East England. They’ll get a job but half their earnings will be spent on commuting and on renting, in all likelihood, a small room in a shared, cramped flat. Given the house prices in Europe’s financial hub — pushed through the roof by Russian, Chinese and Middle Eastern money ­— the chances of our young person ever owning their own home is about as high as a female getting paid the same as a man at the BBC.

The alternative youngster is staying in the post-shipbuilding, post-coalmining, post-steelmaking, post-post office community of their upbringing. As post offices, libraries and other amenities close, high streets become low streets ­— filled with bookmakers, payday loan outlets and second hand clothes shops.

That ugly choice wasn’t spelt out by Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn but by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader. By winning seats in June’s election, she can claim to have kept Theresa May in Downing Street — albeit only just.

Davidson has earned the right to be heard by her party — and in an essay published on Saturday she called for a “bold”, “ctrl-alt-delete” reboot of capitalism and an end to the hardships many vulnerable Britons can see no end to.

She is not an opponent of the economic system that has produced so much prosperity across the planet over recent decades. She correctly declares that “the world is a richer, healthier, better educated and more equal place than at any time in my lifetime” because of free markets and free trade.

But if life is better for Chinese shipbuilders, it’s not better for British shipbuilders. If life is better for inventors of robots, it is not better for the workers replaced by them.

When only 19 per cent of British adults think the next generation will be better off and half think their children could be worse off, it is not surprising that a politician such as Mr Corbyn, who promises a change of direction, is more popular than a Prime Minister who promises to be “strong and stable”...

[Ruth Davidson] targets CEOs who get high pay awards but run unsuccessful companies. Also in this kickboxer’s sights are companies such as Amazon for not paying fair taxes or wages. Then there are the new monopolies who use market dominance to crush competition and cheat consumers.

Some right-wingers will complain that Davidson sounds like a Lefty, but that would make Adam Smith a Lefty, too. Smith, like Davidson, was a Scot and his writings of 250 years ago are seen as the first and best guide to the benefits of free enterprise.

But as Davidson argues, much of what he wrote is forgotten by those capitalist fundamentalists who claim to be his heirs. Smith, after all, attached words such as “mean and malignant”, “sneaking”, “vile” and “falsehood” to the behaviour of some business people of his time.

And the British people, such as Smith, Davidson and Michael Gove — who has encouraged a distinction between the “deserving and undeserving rich” — are not against all business people.

They see some wealth as merited, some not. Eight in ten, for example, happily accept that inventors of products and services deserve their money. Only 17 per cent, however, say the same of top bankers. Only three in ten see property investors and chief executives as deserving of their wealth.

And the people are largely right. Banking, property and corporate pay markets are distorted by central bank policies such as quantitative easing and by government policy such as planning controls and banking bailouts.

Ruth Davidson recognises that if Mrs May does not cut back the favours that give capitalism a bad name, voters may turn to a politician like Corbyn. If he wins power, it won’t just be the undeserving wealthy who are closed down. His taxes and regulations will produce the biggest closing-down of modern times.

The bit that neither they, nor Corbyn, nor most of the great British public understand (or do understand, but only mention en passant) is the distinction between "rent" and "monopolies" (bad) and proper free market liberalism (good). They try and tip toe round the topic, because following that line of thought would lead to the realisation that "Neo-liberalism" is just the tip of the Home-Owner-Ist iceberg; and that while taxes on output and earnings are bad, some taxes are actually good (or at least a lot less bad).


Striebs said...

MW ,

Saw your letter published in tonight's Evening Standard on my way back from the hospital .

It was a refreshing change from some of the other letters .

The front page which talked about a "Brexit wage freeze : will it ever end?" did not endear me to the paper . Don't people understand we are a high wage economy in a global market and that pay rises cost jobs ?

What really annoyed me about it was that it perpetuated the same myth that Corbyn and McDonnell propagate that the solution to ills is always more money rather than getting the cost of things like accommodation down where they should be .

Mark Wadsworth said...

S, ta. The other letters were equally scathing. The es is "edited" by G Osborne and is devoutly anti brexit, I just ignore those articles, or take the piss.

hreward2 said...

"A YOUNG person from a town or city that has seen its main industry close has two choices – if you can call them choices. "
Stay or Go . that is two options but only ONE choice . inform Tim someone please, as he is a wordsmith .

Mark Wadsworth said...

H, an excellent point well made. Either you have "a" choice or you have "no" choice.

In this case, the 'young' person has two options and "a" choice.

I suppose each option has one alternative (the other option). If there are three options, then that's three options, two alternatives and "a" choice.

Lola said...

Adam Smith also specifically warned about special privileges and bad money. And was not he also a land taxer?