Friday, July 07, 2006

What Does She Know About Poverty?

Polly returns on another crusade to make sure that none of us would be stupid enough to vote Tory next time round. Today she’s on the subject of child poverty. What the woman knows about poverty I have no idea.

"However his reign ends, whatever his legacy may be, one moment will always stand out as a monument to Tony Blair. It was that remarkable, utterly unexpected pledge back in 1999 that Labour would abolish child poverty by 2020."

Yup Polly… we remember it, we remember sitting there and thinking he’s mad. Given that poverty is measured as the bottom percentage of society you’re never going to abolish it, and there are only 2 ways to reduce it:

- Decrease the population (unlikely given Labour’s penchant for immigration)
- Redefine the word poverty to mean anyone living in a household earning less than nothing (I think that’s the route they’re more likely to take.

"That sunny morning he sprung it on an astounded assembly of economists and poverty experts. The hall rippled with people turning to one another to ask if they had perhaps misheard? Did he really mean it? And if so, did he fully understand how radical it was?"

No, I think you might find that the ripple was probably caused by people stifling their laughter and spraying the person in front of them with coffee. He had no idea how radical it was, as with all New Labour’s big fecking announcements he only had a good grasp of how radical it sounded. There was never any intention of reducing poverty, unless it was their own.

"The answer was yes, he meant it, even if he is seized with spasmodic regret. It is one of his more admirable traits to nail himself to targets that matter, and work out afterwards how to do things that seem near impossible."

And then just not do them…

" (Abolishing hospital waiting lists by next year is another example.) "

Yeah good luck with that one too….

"But his poverty promise is by far the toughest social pledge any British politician has ever made, harder even than the founding of the NHS. And yes, he probably well understood the Herculean scale of the task.
Certainly the chancellor did and he has pursued it as a highest priority, through thick and thin. It has needed his fierce protection from ministers, and sometimes from his neighbour, clamouring to spend money on more popular vote-winners: the poor don't vote, they show no gratitude and the well-off don't know or don't care."

Yup here we go… she was in danger of sounding like she liked Blair then wasn’t she? Now she’s back on form drooling over (as DK would put it) her pet ‘useless cyclopean fuckwit’.

"The first quarter-way target was missed as 700,000, and not a million children, were lifted out of poverty. Instead of celebrating success, the headlines called it "failure", so why stick to an impossible target?"

Instead of celebrating success? Success? Polly, THEY FAILED. In fact they failed so brilliantly that Save The Children commented:

“Save the Children blamed the Government's lack of a clear strategy for failure to meet the child poverty target set by the Prime Minister in 1999. The charity commented: "The Government needs to sort out the absurd mess of 11 different departments working on child poverty without a joined-up strategy."”

Put yourself in the fearful picture of actually working to targets will you? You know, like they do in the private sector where making money is essential to keeping your job and paying your mortgage.

Ask any salesman, they have targets. If they get to the end of the year and have only achieved 70% of their target this is known as a failure. You are called into the manager’s office told to hand back your company car and enjoy your new career involving a moped and an application form for Domino’s pizza.

Labour failed Polly, I’m surprised that you haven’t got used to this by now.

"Because this is emblematic, the unshakable moral underpinning of this government (which Labour defectors would do well to remember). "

If by unshakeable moral underpinning of this government you mean “saying something then not delivering it then you’re right on the mark here Polly. Unfortunately the rest of us would refer to unshakeable moral underpinning as:

- Not selling peerages
- Not selling your whitewash reports into the deaths of people who spoke out against you.
- Not calling for people to be imprisoned without charge
- Not sexually harassing your staff and boning your diary secretary

"It stands as a constant rebuke to the Tories that they doubled child poverty during their 18 years, leaving appalling social wreckage. It is such an effective moral back-stop that David Cameron has been obliged to sign up to it too. That is how seismic New Labour's effect has been on the political landscape, marking 1997 as just as decisive a shift in political geography as 1979 or even 1945."

Ah yes…. Under the Tories children would be forced down the pits and up chimneys wouldn’t they? Then they’d wring their caps in gratitude as they are paid a penny a year. Shouting “gawd bless ya squire” as they skipped off home to be beaten by their parents. Actually I doubt the
9th Earl of Carlisle lived like that did he?

Polly… shut the fuck up for 5 minutes and have a look at this article, it’s got a nice picture of Gordon on it that you can get all hormonal over:

"Relative poverty in the UK may have risen since 1997, rather than fallen, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The usual measure is the proportion of households whose income is less than 60% of the median household income.
That suggests that the poverty rate fell from 25% to 22% of households between 1996/97 and 2002/03.
But the IFS says that if household spending is measured instead, then over the same period of time the poverty rate rose from 20% to 22%. "

Yup…. Poverty actually gets worse under Labour, but don’t worry we’re only measuring it in ways that make us look good just like we do with crime.

"Those who say there's no difference should look at how the Tories are being hauled from the blue to the red side, with poverty a prime marker in the ideological tug of war. "

Nope… there’s a difference, the Thatcher years rewarded people who wanted to move up in the world, hence we got the age of the yuppie who had an idea, put the work in and socially climbed. You don’t hear the words ‘upwardly mobile’ that often these days do you?

No… you can throw state money at the poor and they will remain poor. Sooner or later you have to stop giving them free money, their status will not have changed, it’s just not being financed any more.
The way to decrease this sort of thing is to make people free of the state. Yes Polly to get the state the feck out of their lives and generate responsibility, hard work, effort and a desire to be something better rather than a constant desire to be just given more money.

She continues to bang on about the costs etc and I’ll not bore you with the details as I’m sure Mr. Worstall and FactCheckingPollyanna will keep you up to date on this.

"The cost of poverty in cash and social dislocation is far higher than the cost of making sure all families thrive. Even so, the price of abolishing it is very, very high. What will it take? Notionally, another £28bn a year if it were to be done entirely through direct redistribution in cash through tax credits. How much is that? It is the cost of buying, perhaps, a new Trident replacement every single year forever. Or look at it another way, it would still only be 2.5% of GDP, not at all unaffordable. "

Not at all unaffordable is it? This is why we cannot afford to bail out the NHS with the £ it needs. I’m sure we could scrap the Trident project Polly but we’re not going to deter North Korea from nuclear war by offering him a tax credit are we?

"But of course it's all more difficult than that. To pour so much cash into credits and benefits would be politically impossible: it would wreck work incentives to pay out-of-work parents more than they could earn. And anyway, cash alone does not solve everything.
It will take vastly more spending on social programmes, on education and skills in perpetuity. Consider that Sure Start children's centres are multiplying by seven with only double the cash, at risk of spreading their effect too thinly. "

And not working either…

"What's to be done? Dreaming Swedish dreams on near US tax levels leads to this impossibilism. Sooner or later, it has to be spelled out in public. Does Britain really want to be more Scandinavian and if so, will we pay the price?"

Hang on I thought you worshipped the Scandinavian dream or have you changed your mind since Mr. Worstall kept pointing out that they have no minimum wage of state health service? I thought you dreamed of shacking up their to be gobbled by your king?

Either I have you all wrong or you’re now just changing your stance to suit whatever you’re writing. I think the latter.

Of course Polly you can do your bit… if £28bn is going to get 300,000 children out of poverty why not make a £140,000 start?

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