Monday, October 12, 2009

Rubbing salt into the wounds…

Britain has worst quality of life in Europe, study says

I wonder if "the chance of being punched in the face on a night out with your family" is one of the metrics they considered using

Posted by matt_the_hat @ 09:56 AM (2298 views)
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38 thoughts on “Rubbing salt into the wounds…

  • LIFESTYLE. lol

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  • Cocooned in ones composite dream kitchen.

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  • Adamskirockski says:

    I hate these uswitch “studies”. It’s just a PR bloke manipulating some figures in an attempt to come up with something, anything, which is attention grabbing so they can get their name in the papers.

    I notice there’s no formula in the article (or the report on uswitch’s website) which shows how they came up with the quality of life factor. The report shows the data it included but no weighting coeffecients. I personally find it odd that the price of cigs is one of the top factors in calculating quality of life.

    The forumla was designed to give this *shocking* result and it annoys me that newspapers are happy to print this crap to advertise uswitch.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    From the article: “We earn substantially more than our European neighbours, but this level of income is needed just to keep a roof over our heads (1), food on the table (2) and our homes warm (3)…”

    (1) That’s Ricardo’s Law Of Rent for you – we savagely restrict the number of homes we can build, so any ‘surplus’ income that the working age population generates just goes straight into higher house prices, we’re running to keep still. So either allow more houses to be built or reduce taxation of incomes and increase taxation of property.

    I’ve heard the “oh but what about the pensioners” excuse a thousand times, but hey, the average pensioner household is getting well over £10,000 a year in pensions paid for by the working age population, as well as free healthcare, street lighting, refuse collection etc, so is it too much to ask that they pay back some of the annual increase in property values (which are also derived entirely from the efforts of the working age population) back into the pot?

    (2) and (3) we can blame fair and square on EU import restrictions, regulation and the extra £200 billion they want to spend on climate change tomfoolery, that’s easily fixed.

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  • cat and canary says:

    ..this article uses crude metrics to measure a country’s quality of life…

    my long term partner is Spanish, and I have been there many many times and am familiar with the ‘Spanish way of life.’ I think that Spanish do have a better quality of life than Brits, but its my experience is that its not direclty due to the metrics discussed in the article..

    My Spanish partner (who works in London) and I have a theory that the problem with the UK is that the society is dsyfunctional
    because of the massive inequality. Spain does not have swathes of ‘super rich’ people and ‘super poor’ people at either end of the spectrum. I don’t have any solid figures to back that up, just my experiences.

    Of all the Spanish people i’ve met, not one of them has been completely hung up on making money…even Spanish bankers! I’ve very rarely felt ‘ripped off’ in Spain, which happens regularly in London. The Spanish appear to just want to relax, enjoy their life a bit more, are more family orientated, and less concerned with profiteering, IMHO. We Brits seem to be more materialistic?

    Plenty of people on this site regularly post about how the rich and constantly shafting the poor in the UK via BTL etc. The same happens in Spain (of course) but no where near as much IMO.

    There has been lots of articles recently about how the UK will loose out if the bankers leave. Sure GDP will suffer, but I question whether it will also create a more equal society if they left….

    Yes, UK salaries are more attractive, but is it really worth it? The older I get, the more I question this. It comes down to how much you think you need.

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  • Pisspore article. The core of it is that we earn more and pay more. So what’s the net position? No answer.

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  • “In a study of ten of the largest European countries, Britain comes last followed by Ireland, with France and Spain topping the table.

    Though British households enjoy the highest income, at £35,730 a year, £10,325 higher than the European average, British families have to contend with a high cost of living, with fuel, food and alcohol all costing more than the European average.”

    Why do they even bother to launch straight into the ‘highest income’ issue when it is obviously almost entirely irrelevant to the issue of happiness? Then there’s the huge numbers who get by on a household income of less than £35k who still have to cope with the high cost of living.

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  • C&C – have you read “The Spirit Level”? If not, then you really ought to.

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  • So with an average household income of £35,730 pa – 2.5 X joint income (the old standard) we should be able to buy a home of £90K.

    I wonder how many folk out there have ‘interest only’ borrowing?

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  • cat and canary says:

    @7 fancypants,

    never read it. From the review on Amazon it looks interesting, will take a look cheers,

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  • I think the point is to make enough money to get out.

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  • In a word… Duh!

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  • Life is what you make of it to be, you get out of it what you put in to it. The sun still shines and the birds still sing.

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  • @11. smugdog said… “Life is what you make of it to be, you get out of it what you put in to it. The sun still shines and the birds still sing”

    Spot on.

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  • “Life is what you make of it to be, you get out of it what you put in to it. The sun still shines and the birds still sing.”

    And in some places the sun shines brighter and there are more birds singing.

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  • “Though British households enjoy the highest income, at £35,730 a year”

    “We earn substantially more than our European neighbours”

    Mmmm…..does one follow from the other, or do we just have more households with two workers? If this is the case, which I suspect at least accounts for some of the difference, then in fact we do not have even the income advantage in our favour.
    Of course, as already pointed out and proven many times, a richer population does not make a happier population, but more equality does.

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  • @ shipbuider – he doesn’t even say where that £35k+ figure comes from. I suspect it’s average income, which we know is strongly boosted by the few high incomes at the top, rather than median income – about £25k – which would be much more meaningful for this kind of exercise. Wiltshire’s comment that there are a lot of people (by definition, 50% if it’s median income) below this figure, all having to pay the high prices, is even more telling if we use the median figure.

    You already suspect that this article was hastily and carelessly written when you read “With a litre of unleaded petrol at £1.08 a litre…”.

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  • They must have only looked at “Queue London”, and assumed the rest of the UK was as bad.

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  • The UK seems to have got itself onto an Orwellian treadmill whereby the harder you work the further basic accommodation remains out of reach.
    But Goldstein’s book in 1984 described how an artificial scarcity of consumer goods was brought about by continually wasting potential purchasing-power on wars instead of giving it to the workers. After WW2 Keynes et al made sure that there was a lot of cheap credit about so the lack of purchasing-power was less of a problem.The trick was then to divert this cheap credit into housing based on land (what else?) which would inflate in value because it could not increase in supply.That way Brits could return to running up the down escalator -for ever (Forget about 1984’s foot stamping on the face)

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  • Yes, the income figure is meaningless without reference to the cost of living. Salaries in New Zealand are lower than here but they don’t have a poorer quality of life.

    Characteristics of UK citizens: Ambition to own a house (houses) and the most fashionable car; horror of neighbours; love of X Factor and general philistinism.

    Characteristics of French: love of long lunches and good food, art, friends and neighbours.

    All right, not entirely universal truths, but the European attitude and general belief in fairness and equality shines brightly compared to the UK’s crass anti-EU attitudes and US-style lust for money.

    Still, we do have beautiful rural landscapes (those that haven’t been despoilt) and the best beer in the world.

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  • [email protected] your recommendation of “The Spirit Level” is spot on. The book examines how social problems are directly related to inequality. Beyond a ceratin point (average income above about US$ 20,000 per person) the overall level of wealth doesnt make much difference to happyness/welbeing, but the level of inequality does. Even the welbeing of well-off people within a rich society suffers if there are big differences between rich and poor. So the obvious conclusion is that governments should be aiming to level the differences within society, rather than increase the overall level of economic performance. According to the book the countries with greatest income inequality are USA, Portugal and the UK. The most equal countrys are Japan, Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

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  • Yes..the UK is a dump..a country where the hardworking middle and working classes are being squeezed dry to pay for those below (the benefit classes and “public servants”) and those above (the bankers and even more “public servants”)…but its not all bad. I lived in Spain for 4 years and it was horrible: the Spanish are happy (as mentioned above) to merely attain a standard of living and stay there, which is nice for them, but not so nice if you are actually want to get anything done as everything moves at somebody elses pace: Spain is also stiflyingly bureaucratic ( you think its bad here…) and as a society is tremendously xenophobic…the Spaniards don’t even like eachother, let alone foreigners…dishonesty (have to disagree with previous post) is also endemic..you’re dealing with a Latin culture where the aim is always to short change as the more cheat someone the bigger your balls are. Please don’t take this as an anti-Spanish rant (my partner is Spanish and as a people they have many inspired and wonderful characteristics), I’m just using Spain as an example to try and make people see that the grass is not always greener…

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  • … thats also why the arguement that London’s financial sector is a good thing for the county as a whole doesnt ring true. The City bonuses reduce the quality of life of the rest of us because they contribute to inequality. The extra cash brought into the economyy is actually counter productive. So let the banking sector x-off to somewhere else like they always threaten to – good ridance!

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    I second what DBC says. The Inner Party (for whose benefit the whole show is run) = the landed aristocracy and the banks, the Outer Party = home-owners (who think they are on the winning team but are just running to keep still) and the Proles = tenants and the priced out generation.

    There are loads of quotes from the book that apply to Home-Owner-Ism as much as to IngSoc, for example the idea that history can be re-written so that people believe things were always like this. It’s quite simply not true. The Golden Age of the 50s and 60s was indeed a Golden Age – because we were building lots of houses (private or council) and we had Schedule A/Domestic rates that between them amounted to a Progressive Property Tax (not as good as LVT, but it did the trick). House prices did not go up, they were flat, and supply increased to meet demand. (OK, we didn;t have mass immigration either, but that only started in the late 1990s)

    The H-O Party have re-written that Chapter to say “In my day, wives didn’t go out to work, we were responsible with our money and didn’t get into debt like young people today”. But it’s the H-O Party who WANT young people to get into massive debt to buy their houses off them at vastly inflated prices etc.

    The H-O Party then decries the land value taxers as wanting to invent ” a new tax”. Nonsense, it’s the oldest tax in the book, literally. It’s income tax and VAT that are relatively recent inventions.

    And so on.

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  • Mark, your thoughts on progressive property tax as an intermediate, less provocative, step on the way to LVT?

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  • @no 20, Agreed 100%

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Moderates like me (or DBC Reed) really aren’t bothered – any tax on property values acts like a tax on land values (you can’t depress the cost/value of the bricks and mortar). LVT is best; a “bubble tax” or “sentinel tax” (a higher rate on capital values as at the date of introduction) is next best; then a progressive property tax (like Domestic Rates in Northern Ireland and dozens of other countries; or indeed Business Rates elsewhere in the UK); then Schedule A taxation of notional income/gains (which is what right wing flat taxers like Richard Teather or Patrick Minford suggest – as a quid pro quo, the income tax rate would be cut by 5% or 10%). If all else failed, we’d settle for having dozens of council tax bands, from £100 a year all the way up to £10,000.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    Oops, that should read “a “bubble tax” or “sentinel tax” (a higher rate on capital values in excess of capital values as at the date of introduction, which would be exempt, so that people can’t witter on about ‘retrospecitve taxation’)”

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  • Adamskirockski says:

    My earlier rant against this piece is untrue. The report does show how the figure is calculated, the manipulation is done by what’s included. Also household earnings are given equal importance as price of cigs. I stand by my statement that this is a piece of non-news, a PR guys advert.

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  • Regarding ‘The Spirit Level’ – I think that the inequality point it makes it a key one, yet it is very rarely discussed on here, despite it being behind everything from bonuses to land/home ownership to the NWO even. My personal opinion is that the ‘sell’ for the system we currently have – ‘ It doesn’t matter what the people at the top earn as long as everyone is doing well’, or ‘when the rich do well, everyone does well’, ‘trickle down’ etc. etc. is probably the greatest lie ever told.

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  • cat and canary says:

    @26 nice point about the “trickle down” lie. Here’s a few more old chestnuts!…

    1. Britain has a chronic housing shortage

    2. The financial sector creates wealth, without it, there would be no TV, no internet etc – innovation creates wealth, finance merely fuels it IMO (and for a profit…). Companies that don’t innovate whither, and for good reasons

    3. Footballers get excessively high pay, therefore bankers should also – yet I can choose not to buy a season ticket if i’m hard-up, but I am forced to pay for the bankers

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    @ C&C, comment 27, bullet point 1.

    If we took all physical housing and divvied it up between all households, of course there’s enough housing. But the H-O Party drew up the drawbridge twenty or thirty years ago and didn’t allow any more to be built, so the allocation is incredibly uneven.

    I’m not in favour of equality or redistribution downwards for its own sake (what land value tax does is prevent accumulation of unearned monoply wealth in teh first place, it doesn’t redistribute it as such), but I am in favour of giving the next generation (anybody under 35 is pretty stuffed as far as I can see) a fair crack of the whip and allowing them to build as many houses as they think they need (and can pay for).

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  • Mark W – In my opinion, the idea that redistribution is done ‘for it’s own sake’ and therefore is an attempt to make everyone unnaturally equal is a myth. It is done to try and address the in-built inequality of our economic systems. The fact that unnatural inequalities still exist proves this – even the perceived high levels of taxation and redistribution we have have failed to curb them, so how could we possibly hope to achieve absolute equality? What would society be like without such redistribution?
    Having said that, obviously the best course of action is to prevent the inequality from happening in the first place, rather than using taxation to cover up fundamental problems. Some believe that this might be achieved by zero tax and a free market, but I see this as as much of a utopian concept as communism. Hence I see LVT as the best of both worlds.

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  • It also should be bourne in mind that redistribution is not just about money but opportunity too. Perhaps the worst feature of the economy here and in the US, and to a much worse extent in developing countries, is that a large proportion of the population is economically sidelined. They are largely unproductive. Meanwhile the economically active share the returns very unequally; I do not believe the highly paid are intrinsically more valuable to the economy, and the example of the banks surely proves this. Progressive taxation, if we had it, would not only rebalance the economy but expand it too. In any case, the alternative, the Reagan/Thatcher model which we’ve had these last 3 decades, has been a manifest failure.

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  • cat and canary says:

    @28 mark, yes, i agree with you on “not being in favour of redistribution.”

    I support capitalism and meritocracy etc. What i dont support, is those who distort capitalism, those in power, who use that power to gain more power whilst simultaneously causing great hardship (even slavery) for others. This is where I agree with shipbuilder @29. Government has failed miserably to curb the ´greed of a few people´(for want of a better term). Greed thats in all of us in some measure, true. No government is perfect, but cmon, this government is a feckin joke!

    What do I think the 1 million 16-25 year old´s are learning right now, as they struggle to find work and face the possibility of being slave to a landlord for the next 10-20 years because of the generation currently in power? …I think they are learning from us that ´the only way to get ahead in life is to shaft others….´ I hope im wrong…

    For me the sadest moment of this crisis is the complete lack of justice for those who have manipulated the system and put 100´s millions out of work.

    Hope that didnt sound too much like a sermon!

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  • 31. cat and canary

    Welcome to the international NWO banking cartel/government. I wish it was not true. That’s the difference now.

    Most people prefered to laugh at the idea whilst they were busy planning it all. Too late now!!!!!

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  • greenmind @19 – “Even the wellbeing of rich people within a rich society suffers if there are big differences between rich and poor.” What really happens is that the rich siphon off as much as they can (in ways that are generally unproductive i.e. creaming off economic rent) so that they can get as far away from the peasants as possible. Their bubble wealth leads to a bubble existence. And their creaming off of economic rent (gouging out wealth from the economy parasitically and unproductively) necessarily makes the rest of us poorer.

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  • greenshootsandleaves says:

    icarus @ 15 ‘You already suspect that this article was hastily and carelessly written when you read “With a litre of unleaded petrol at £1.08 a litre…”.’

    Don’t forget the sloppy (or possibly tendentious) headline (in Europe, at any rate, finishing 10th – let alone 9th (ahead of Ireland) – out of 10 is not necessarily a performance worthy of the wooden spoon)! We shouldn’t read too much in the findings of a price comparison website anyway. OK (perhaps) for frozen peas, but countries?!? Incidentally, editors only ever see two possible stories in them: ‘It’s official: we’re Numero Uno!’ and ‘Finger of blame points to government as Britain sinks to its lowest ranking since …’ All right then, hands up those who have come across an article of this sort which suggests the country is just average!

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