Wednesday, Oct 25, 2006

Is Britain really booming?

The Guardian: Cloistered metropolitan elite in denial about Britain

At the risk of sounding hopelessly pious, it's worth repeating some statistics: not just the fact that 12 million Britons live on or below the poverty line, defined in the case of a two-adult household at 180 per week, but some rather less-quoted numbers. In August unemployment hit a six-year peak of 1.68 million, spurred on by a big fall in the number of manufacturing jobs, now at an all-time low. Contrary to the idea that buying in and trading up are within everyone's reach, one in three of us still live in rented accommodation; according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a third of all working households containing people under 40 "cannot afford to buy even at the low end of local housing markets"

Thanks to crash-and-burn in the forums for this link

Posted by little professor @ 01:13 AM (560 views)
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1. geed said...

The large collection of comments at the end of the article are a facinating read. It will get even worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 04:37AM Report Comment

2. japanese uncle said...

"Charge the bill to future me." When the day of reckoning comes, I will pay with my own soul.
Welcome to the millennium!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 08:30AM Report Comment

3. Tom said...

The economy has boomed on borrowing-to-spend. It's a pyramid scheme that's now on the verge of falling apart. It won't be long before the truth about Brown's pillaging and gross mismanagement of the economy becomes plain for all to see.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 08:35AM Report Comment

4. japanese uncle said...

During the days of wine and roses in the late 80's Tokyo, the poorer half of society were effectively muffled to speak out freely of their distress, as they felt they were an isolated minority being poor only because of their own hopeless incompetence or else. The same is happening in the UK at the moment. Now that nearly everyone seems wealthy and can afford 42 inch LCD TV (illusion created by the criminal mainstream media and of course by cheap credit), how can you speak of the daily distress in buying bread and butter, without admitting that you are an exceptionally unsuccessful, incapable and worthless individual in this affluent 21 century New Labour Britain.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 09:00AM Report Comment

5. tyrellcorporation said...

Some inspired and lucid rants in the comments section of that article!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 09:13AM Report Comment

6. monty said...

I've never been able to bring myself to watch a full episode of any the property shows. Something about keeping dinner down. They really suck.

[rant] But I refuse to believe "the fact that 12 million Britons live on or below the poverty line". This relative poverty rubbish was dreamt up in the 60s and needs to be consigned to the bin. If you want to see real poverty then go to Africa and pick a country, any country. You don't even have to travel far from the airport to see real poverty, where people live below a real poverty line, not some concocted definition of "below 60 per cent of contemporary median net disposable income in 2000/01" - Oxfam.

But that definition, if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett immigrated to the UK (unlikely, I know) we'd find another 5, 10 or 20% of us suddenly living "below the poverty line"? Bunkum. [/rant]

As for "one in three of us still live in rented accomodation." So what? Does that make me poor? Just who is pandering to the property bubble now Jack? Of the 8 Western European countries in the Deutsche Bank report posted here on the weekend the UK has the third highest level of home ownership, topped only by Ireland and Spain.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:19AM Report Comment

7. indiablue19 said...

I don't think your reference about Africa is at all to the point. What we are discussing here isn't starvation, at least I hope not. It is the immorality of degrees of poverty and wealth. When, for instance, banks can not provide a decent return for savers and yet post untold billions in profits for investors who have done nothing to earn the money in the till; when utility prices go up and up for those struggling to pay their bills and keep the heat on yet gas and oil companies post billions in profits to investors and laugh up their sleeves; when property markets are purposely escalated to capture more and more capital gains and other taxes so that workers can't afford a roof that they own; when children wanting an education are left with a lifetime of debt; when farmers can't make a living wage because of food chain monopolies by Tesco; when all of us are photographed, carded and monitored like so many sheep; then there is something about "democracy" and "freedom" that isn't working either. What you suggest is just another version of "at least we're not so bad at them," which I hear time and again in the UK. Merely a way to explain away failures and inequities that we should have the intelligence and foresight to correct before the UK does resemble Nigeria or Darfur. You know, not everyone in those places is impoverished; some are the leaders who confiscate the aid, investment and support coming into the country and keep it at their mansion. Sounds a lot like London if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:44AM Report Comment

8. Nohpc said...

Indiablue that is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever heard in my life. Investors have done nothing to earn their money. It's in the name "INVESTOR" . they invested their money you should have done it to rather than save. People may struggle to pay their heating bills but nobody is without heat. And with regards to farmers... sorry but I'd rather have cheap food from tescoes than the farmers make more money. Children wanting an education are left with a lifetime of debt? I hardly think the student loans are a lifetime of debt! Get a life and stop moaning so much jebus!! Can't believe you would compare London to Darfur you complete ignoramus!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:55AM Report Comment

9. little professor said...

Indiablue, I salute you. There should have been some stirring music in the background while I was reading your comment.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 11:07AM Report Comment

10. monty said...

India, what a dismal picture you paint. Dude, you've spent far too much time north of the border. Come south and get a little sunshine. :-)

I am not talking about starvation in Africa, though that too is indicative of their real poverty versus our relative poverty. Real poverty is having to live in a shack constructed from refuse rather than live on a council estate. According to yet another ridiculous quango metric my children live in poverty because we haven't been on a family holiday this year!

The investors you speak of are not anonymous fat men sitting on piles of coins. By far the largest percentage of investment in listed companies, both here and across the pond, is by institutions and pension funds. Unless you are planning on a government pension, then you rely on the banks, utilities and supermarkets providing a decent return to their shareholders which could include you.

I dislike the cameras and id cards as much as you do but I don't see what that has to do with real poverty.

The only music I heard in the background was the Red Flag - a pretty dismal song by any measure. I much prefer the Christmas carol.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:01PM Report Comment

11. ontheotherhand said...

Indiablue. I won't launch that company I was thinking of creating just in case it became successful and then was added to your list of evil. Personally I am happy with the transformation of Tesco from a dingy dirty shelf stacker 15 years ago to how it performs today for customers and for shareholders. I am also happy that oil companies can make huge profits if that encourages more new venture oil companies to take large risks to explore ever more difficult areas of the North Sea to increase future supply and maintain some alternative to Russian oil. If the reward for all that effort for them is public hatred if they do well and "windfall taxes" from Brown then I don't think they'll bother. Perhaps all those filthy investors you write about (including pension funds of course) "who have done nothing to earn the money in the till" should sell their shares in shame - only if nobody is willing to invest in banking then the banks will close down and we will have to have one single state bank bloated with government workers.

A poor member of our society can get free housing, free schooling and free health and a little dole money to spend to just about get by. It has to be a little RELATIVELY unpleasant otherwise we would all stop working and striving to educate and improve ourselves. Those with a little enterprise seem to have got on incapacity benefit instead, or illegally work on the side for cash so they appear on the poor statistics but their take home incomes plus free benefits are really quite good.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:44PM Report Comment

12. indiablue19 said...


In relation to bankers and greed, savers get 3% if they're lucky [and that IS an investment I believe, or at least it used to be considered one]; meanwhile if I should need to borrow from what the bankers hold, I can expect to pay 16% or more. There was a time when that was called usury and there were laws against it.

To the contrary, I believe the Red Flag should be playing in the background for all those relegated to council housing. A socialist prop if ever there was one. The monitoring and photographing of human beings as though they were objects is part and parcel of the treatment of "the masses" versus the privileged few in my mind. Just a further physical representation of an economic fact and a governmental paranoia.

No, I don't inhabit the "black and white" world you describe, but notice different shades of grey and inherent insults within the economic mechanism at work to the average person who deserves just as much for his efforts as though who sit, whether anonymously in piles of coins or any other way, and do nothing for their profits. I wouldn't only differentiate these forms of discrimination and greed if the victims were residing in a shack of refuse. And I don't think I would differentiate them either if their suffering amounted to never having a holiday anyplace. But I have no trouble whatever believing that 12 million Brits, or even more, live below a poverty level and have no comfort nor peace. Once these "investors" so-called have monopolised the profits there is little left for anyone else.

Regardless of what you propose, I AM an investor, a big one at Barclay's and RBS, with little to show for my confidence in this country. I have even less confidence in the stock market and its mercurial ways. Just notice additionally, the currency markets zooming up and down.

You should noticed several of us passing comments back and forth recent months on the absolute instability of the banking system and their criminal ideas of loan criteria to know this first hand. All built on nonsense, mumbo jumbo and derivative markets. Sounds like a third world country to me.

The mess you refer to in Africa, and it's uninhabitable conditions were brought about, if you remember, by the imperialist Europeans, including Britain, who took all the resources they had and left them nothing but refuse to construct their shacks. Well get in line, the bankers are in charge now, and we're next.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:49PM Report Comment

13. indiablue19 said...


It's not success that anyone would object to, but monopoly, greed, economic immorality. If you can do what Tesco's has done to farmers, and you are motivated in this way, I would indeed consider you wrongly inspired and detrimental to the country.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:53PM Report Comment

14. paul said...

Two adult in a household earning less than 180 per week is pretty poor if you ask me.

monty, I hope you give up at least 80% of your salary in donations for those peope. I think though, you believe in capitalism, and you believe it is the only system to provide an optimal distribution of resources (in other words a true Thatcherite). I beg to differ. I like your simplified view of investor institutions, but actually there are plenty of fatcats working under the auspices of "managing your money". Performance-wise they have been shown to barely outperform the stock market year-on-year too.

I think that the trickle down effect has always been the rich's excuse for inequality. Working on the same logic, why shouldn't I enjoy my new gas-guzzling off-road SUV and champagne lifestyle - eventually it'll trickle down to those people scratching around in Darfur, right!?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:53PM Report Comment

15. Cstanhope707 said...

70% of us own a home, REALLY????? If that was the case then nobody would be renting and the BTL'rs would be selling in droves...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 01:04PM Report Comment

16. monty said...


Last time I looked (over lunch) savers could get 5.38% (at A&L) and borrowers can get a 3 year fixed mortgage at 4.99% (at A&L). Savers can also get 0.2% and borrowers can also get rates of 29%. Call it usury if you like but it all comes down to how much of mug you are. If you don't like being ripped off, go elsewhere, you have the choice. Don't get me wrong, bankers are greedy for your money but there's no need to hand it to them the same way no-one forces you to shop at or invest in Tescos.

I don't understand your distinction between the evil investor, doing nothing for their money, and the angelic saver who also does nothing for their money and instead relies on the institution to lend it out to create a return.

Concerns over the stability of the banking system are something I share with you. I'm gobsmacked that Barclaycard and RBS could write off 1bn and 400m (?) in bad debts respectively and still stay afloat but then I guess there's got to be some spare change if you're lending it out at 20%.

Despite all those years of colonial plunder Africa it largely retains it's mineral and agricultural wealth and trades them today. Opinions vary on what keeps Africa from catching up with the rest of the planet wealth-wise but what isn't helping is EU and US government subsidized farm exports killing off Africa's local producers. Shame on us.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 03:12PM Report Comment

17. monty said...

No Paul,

183 pw after housing costs (according to the DWP stats) for a couple is not poor. It is relatively poor. This couple is able to eat three meals a day (not cat food) from Tescos, is dressed in warm, cheap clothing from China and has a dry roof over their heads. Sure, no holidays in Spain, no plasma telly or SUV but they're still better off than the majority of the planet.

If I wished to donate 80% of my income to this couple, I'd go live in Sweden and let the government do it for me. I don't believe I'm a trickle down Thatcherite but rather that I am a better manager of my wealth than the government. I get to choose the charities and social programmes I support. If I don't like what they're doing I stop contributing. It's a fair and free model. What every government will try and convince you is that they are the better wealth managers. Gosh, haven't we seen the evidence of that time and time again?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 03:15PM Report Comment

18. monty said...

Dammit, dammit, typo - the sentence starting "I don't understand your distinction" should read;

I don't understand your distinction between the evil investor, doing nothing for their investment return, and the angelic saver who also does nothing for their interest and instead relies on the institution to lend out the capital to create a return.

As an investor, you are placing your capital at risk and expecting a dividend and possibly capital appreciation. As a saver you are performing the function of a creditor. Your capital is legally protected and will only depreciate under extreme circumstances (ask any Enron creditor.)

Under Islamic banking law the former is legal and the latter is considered usury. Not my view but an interesting perspective nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 04:14PM Report Comment

19. indiablue19 said...


There will be consequences to making bank savings an unsavoury bet. Those who invest in speculative ventures must be putting up money they have to lose. If they aren't they are foolish. Those who place monies in the bank are most likely putting aside the money they know they will need in future. When a country only rewards those who are able to lose they are only economically appreciating the few who have more than they need. And, in this scenario in the UK, bankers are making most of the country into economic slaves.

Because of unequal distribution of wealth and benefits I watch people here, and nearly everywhere else, fall farther and farther behind in being able to care for themselves. You can only make life impossible for so long and then there is a predictable backlash. The middle class, as I've posted in various articles recently on this site, is completely disappearing. The rich aren't going to pay for benefits for the poor, they've got it figured how to spend their time in Monaco to avoid taxes. And the poor aren't just going to endlessly live in despair. But then, I bet Marie Antoinette would have agreed with you completely.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 05:36PM Report Comment

20. Boarder said...


Well said. It's funny that the coerced collectivist answers to greed is to extort money from the financially succesful.

I think it's just jealousy and envy.

Why is the UK poor? It's because we are taxed FAR FAR too much. i.e. We are slaves of the inneficient state for over half our working time, and then wealth is extorted from us at every opportunity.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 06:02PM Report Comment

21. Nohpc said...

indiablue.. i posted a comment on here in response to what you said but it was not posted as it was too critical as I was very angry when I wrote it. Now I have calmed down I would just like to say that you are a very naive person. Especially the comment about London and Dafur. Twit.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 09:46PM Report Comment

22. Nohpc said...

Indiablue your comments are so naive I can't even think how to respond to them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 10:37PM Report Comment

23. geed said...

Nohpc said; "Indiablue your comments are so naive I can't even think how to respond to them." Well then you have lost the debate.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 03:00AM Report Comment

24. Nohpc said...

No i thought my earlier comment didn't get posted but it did so there's my debate right there I just thought if I repeated it might not get posted.
I am currently on a mission to factually disprove anything indiablue says after the the complete nonsense he or she has spouted here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 06:37AM Report Comment

25. indiablue19 said...


You misread. My half-sarcastic metaphor was to emphasise the idea that the conglomeration or confiscation of wealth by a few at the expense of the rest of the rest of the country, as in stolen aid, is reminiscent of London's track record of wealth taken in but held unaccountable to the general good. If you will notice a lot of the foreign super rich invest there tax free because the autocrats who hold this vast wealth reside a significant portion of the year in Monaco, or similar places, and invest here only for their own purposes, not for the benefit of the UK at all. This is in some ways congruent to the confiscation of aid by the leaders of impoverished countries that should be for the relief of the commonweal. In both cases, significant amounts of money come into the country, but never benefits the nation in general. That I believe this should matter to citizens of the UK, or its government, because it is unethical and exploitive of the economic trust inherent in a national strategy may be "naive" but this manipulation is still wrong. It constitutes a form of stealing from the country's treasury in both cases.

Perhaps the webmaster hesitated in printing your rant since the rest of us had agreed earlier on that our discussions would be held above name-calling. In this stilted scenario of typing a few brief comments and trying to explain complex thoughts on the economy there is always the chance of misunderstanding a reference, just as you have done.

Further, we don't all always agree, I'm not sure it would be interesting that we did, and we have generally realized that anger really isn't going to change that or assist clarity in any way. So despite our human foibles, quite a few on this site have maintained a longterm conversation and enough respect for each other to continue listening, despite our own biases that may set us off from now and again. We've all had a spout from time to time and you aren't unique in that respect. This is the reason for the agreement not to make personal assaults; they are regrettable.

Whether I am naive or not, only time will tell. I am afraid though that the story will be told, first at the expense of the middles class who is being pushed beyond endurance by the rich, and later at the expense of everyone the middles classes economically supported in the world, not just in the UK.

So far as Tesco's goes, they are forming a monopoly of the food stuffs of the UK and other places, including creating mostly their own brands and excluding competitors one after the other. When they are the only source in town they can do as they please with these prices everyone seems to be enjoying at the moment, and you will have no recourse as any competition will have been long ago killed off. I see billboards over the countryside put up by farmers pleading for help. No Tescos aren't a typical "success story" as so many want to believe for current convenience; they are a parasitic megopoly. Beware, beware.

Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:33PM Report Comment

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