Christmas competition How can we reduce inequality

Reducing inequality is something that all politicians even Conservatives say they are in favour of.

They even produce figures to try and demonstrate that government measures are having a positive effect.

The reality, of course, is that over the last forty years or so inequality has got worse particularly in economic terms.

Wealth gives access to things like better quality health and education leading on to employment opportunities that the poorer in our society can only dream of.

This is combined with a trend since the Thatcher years of a decline in access to things like relatively well-paying jobs and decent, affordable housing for the masses.

Put on top of that the cuts in welfare then you reach a stage where the United Nations commissions an investigation into poverty in the nation.

Liberals have a proud history of tackling inequality the Beveridge plan of the 1940s being just one notable example and we must now come up with a new Beveridge type plan for the 21st century.

Here are some ideas;
On Work and Welfare – A Universal Basic Income for those citizens who are unable to work because they can’t find a job, are unable to work due to disability or ill health or due to caring responsibilities.

This to be set at a level that actually enables people to live a reasonable standard of life.

As technology leads to less availability of work opportunities the UBI could be extended to all.

On Education – Reform of education so that every child gets the right start in life.

Investment is urgently needed in schools to reduce class sizes.

We should also look at ways to improve parents choice and involvement in their children’s education.

On Health – Build on our current policy of more funding for the NHS by also taking Adult Social Care under its umbrella.

We should also radically reform the NHS, so it is more patient centred by reducing layers of bureaucracy.

On Housing – Measures are needed to drastically increase the amount of social housing available through a mix of local

authority and housing association development.

We can only really tackle inequality by building a society where everyone gets a good education, a comfortable home and the chance to have a decent living.

At the same time a place where those who are unable to work for whatever reason get the support they need.
A country where the Health Service is from the cradle to the grave as it was when the NHS was founded back in 1948.

A Liberal vision for a Liberal nation.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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31 Comments

  • The WelfSoc reserch team published “Attitudes, Aspirations and Welfare
    Social Policy Directions in Uncertain Times http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/how-deliberative-forums-can-help-us-understand-uk-attitudes-to-welfare/.” The findings identified a mistrust in the capacity of the government to address the issues that most people face. It is this lack of trust that turns people against the welfare system rather than an ideological commitment to neoliberalism.

    “Immigration remains a central issue, with a large majority endorsing much stricter border controls. Spending on those of working age and especially unemployed people was perhaps the most important issue raised in relation to the future sustainability of welfare. The cost of benefits was (again mistakenly) believed to be decisive in undermining the capacity of government to fund the areas of welfare they valued highly – the NHS and pensions.
    People expressed disquiet at state activities in other areas, including foreign aid spending, general waste and inefficiency in the public sector, and the failure to curb inequality and to frame effective tax laws that made the rich pay their fair share. They saw the state as unable to regulate multi-national companies and weak in its efforts to restrict zero-hour contracts or advance social mobility. All these ideas linked together to form a framing of government as unable to direct resources to the services that people needed, prone to waste money on those who should not be getting it and incapable of organizing provision so that the services people wanted were properly funded.
    Most people were enthusiastic about social investment in training and education, particularly for those who were less academically able and excluded from the university route to a career. There was also strong support for state subsidies to childcare (not surprising since childcare in the UK is currently the most expensive in the OECD) to enable women to enter paid work, but, in line with concern about scrounging, only for those in employment.
    These attitudes fit with the overall individualist framing. The object is to enable the individual to compete fairly in an unequal labour market and to take responsibility for her or himself. Education and training are seen as primarily directed towards access to jobs. In relation to childcare there are few references to the value of nurseries in socialisation, education or child development.”

  • Jonathan Linin 15th Dec '18 - 12:00pm

    I think that the list covers what I would like to see the Liberal Democrats campaigning on.

    One major addition though. There needs to be much more direct government action on environmental issues. Currently the market tends to decide on what is environmentally acceptable, so we all applaud when a company drops plastic drinking straws !, we all think we have done our bit when we pay 5p for a plastic bag and stick a bottle in a green bin, as if that is going to change our world. Simple legislation, which I believe would get widespread support could drastically change our immediate environment. What materials can be used, recycling rules (not just voluntary targets), minimum mileage targets for vehicles, and maybe even food shipping miles, limits on aircraft miles flown, on shipping emissions per unit imported, on produce of certain meat products.

    This is something which needs to be targeted and addressed seriously and profoundly rather than being treated as salad garnish !

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '18 - 12:10pm

    However you want to dress up any greater equality polices as Liberalism, they will really only be effective if they take from the wealthy and hand over to the less wealthy. They will be socialist in nature. The Beveridge report may have been written by a Liberal but it was implemented by the postwar Labour Govt.

    There is only the Nation State that can impose those. The Pan-European entity known as the EU has no inclination to become involved in any of that, and local governments and regional governments don’t have the power. So inevitably the detractors will describe it all as State socialism.

    If you’re fine with all that then fair enough. But I suspect many Liberals won’t be. They won’t want the Lib Dems turning into a Labour Party MkII

  • Sue Sutherland 15th Dec '18 - 1:37pm

    Peter Martin, in 1909 the Liberal government introduced the first redistributive budget so you are wrong about this kind of measure being socialist in origin. At the moment Lib Dems want to achieve a fair society and, as you say, this will involve the redistribution of wealth so that no one is imprisoned by poverty. This is completely in line with Liberal thinking and doesn’t require a socialist state to implement it. Socialism concentrates on the ownership of the means of production and relies on the power of class groups to achieve its aims. Liberalism values the individual as well as the community and is therefore much more suited to achieve a fair society within a modern day economy.

  • David Warren 15th Dec '18 - 2:10pm

    Thanks for the comments.

    @PeterMartin I do not accept that my proposals add up to socialism.

    Which Lib Dem members would object to things like improving education, health care and building affordable homes.

    Socialists would want to see full scale nationalisation, along with the majority of liberals I don’t.

    Taxation wasn’t covered in my article because I believe the current party policy of lifting people on lower incomes out of income tax is right.

  • For me one of the key things is investment in education – at all stages of life – children, 16-21 and adults.

    One of the excellent things we did in coalition was the pupil premium. I would like to see us committed to doubling it. A real terms increase in the schools budget. And also free breakfast and free school dinners for all up to secondary level – certainly all primary level to start with.

    There was an interesting Radio 4 programme on the pupil premium at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000szv . And the PP is not the only thing needed and you need to back it with other policies as is outlined in the programme.

    It is a crying shame that there are some schools, I understand where no-one gets an A-C GCSE in both Maths and English.

    As I have said before we should be aiming at 75% going to university as is the case in South Korea.

    For me equality is more about equality of opportunity than material equality.

    BTW people here may be interested that the drama A Very English Scandal about Jeremy Thorpe is available as a box set on BBC iplayer for the next 25 days as of today.

  • 75% going to university is neither realistic, nor desirable IMO. Switch ‘going to university’ to being ‘involved in a structured higher/further education programme’, which could include being an apprentice, or similar, then I can get on board. In fact, I’d argue that many of those going straight into uni would be much better suited to and serviced by an appropriate college education, tailored to their skills and aspirations. Some of those might realise they are suited to university, and it would benefit their desired career, but mass university for the sake of it only serves those who want to brag about the % of young people going to university.

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '18 - 5:28pm

    @ Sue Sutherland,

    The pre- WW1 Liberal govt was the same one which took a hard line against female emancipation so you probably aren’t too impressed yourself with its overall record. Let’s just be clear about what it introduced in 1909:

    “The budget included several proposed tax increases to fund the Liberal welfare reforms. Income tax was held at nine pence in the pound (9d, or 3.75%) on incomes less than £2,000, which was equivalent to £190,000 in today’s money—but a higher rate of one shilling (12d, or 5%) was proposed on incomes greater than £2,000, and an additional surcharge or supertax of 6d (a further 2.5%) was proposed on the amount by which incomes of £5,000 (£480,000 today[5]) or more exceeded £3,000 (£290,000 today). ”

    It doesn’t sound too redistributive to our 21st century ears but it was nevertheless a useful first step. As we might expect it was also denounced as

    “the thin end of the socialist wedge”

    Both quotes from Wiki,

    So was it socialist? It probably was to a very limited extent. Just a little taste of what was to follow in the 20th century.

    @ David Warren,

    “Socialists would want to see full scale nationalisation”

    Are we talking about the SWP or the Labour Party?

    Even the Attlee government only nationalised about 20% of the postwar economy, with full compensation paid to the previous owners. The present thinking is that we do need to move back towards a more mixed economy which would mean some renationalisation but this does not mean that the local sweetshop will be seized by the proletariat!

    We won’t be forced to call each other ‘comrade’ if and when we see the next Labour government. What, exactly, are the Lib Dems concerned about?

  • Peter Martin,

    As Liam Halligan writes https://unherd.com/2018/02/unscrupulous-landowners-need-wake-call-time-land-value-tax/ “Nobody made the land. It is nature’s bequest.”

    “…there are around 60 million acres of land across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, two thirds of it is owned by fewer than 6,000 people.
    In previous centuries, landowners paid tax on their sprawling acreage. These days, thanks in part to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, the landed gentry receive huge subsidies instead.
    Ordinary homeowners cough up hefty rates of council tax each month, out of hard-earned income. After working a lifetime to pay off a mortgage, they’re then taxed heavily on any property inheritance they leave their children – who themselves, increasingly, may struggle to buy a home.
    The owners of large country estates, in contrast, are somehow allowed to use ‘family trusts’ to pass on to their gilded offspring large chunks of our green and pleasant land joyously free of tax.
    In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, as central banks engaged in so-called ‘quantitative easing’, artificially expanding their balance sheets, asset prices – particularly for land and real estate – ballooned. As more and more gains accrued to those who were already asset-rich, the UK’s distribution of wealth as a whole, not just land, began to look feudal.
    Capitalism’s richest got richer from central bank responses to 2008’s bust (as well as from the boom before it)
    …wealth inequality is getting worse. Yet we tax ‘earned income’ at a far high rate than ‘unearned income’ stemming from capital gains or broader speculation. That widens wealth inequality even more.
    With wages taxed at up to 45%, and national insurance contributions on top, almost half of all UK government revenue derives from income tax and NICs: taxes on labour. A mere 8%, in contrast, comes from taxes on capital or property. This is not only inefficient, discouraging effort and enterprise, but also immoral.
    As the tax system becomes increasingly complex, with ever more loopholes, the case for levying charges on tangible, immovable assets, as oppose to easily re-domiciled liquid cash and other financial holdings, grows stronger. And as more and more young adults strive to buy their own property, amid a chronic home shortage, the idea of using the tax system to encourage building on land otherwise left undeveloped is gathering pace. These interrelated needs – addressing wealth inequality, making the tax system fairer and more transparent and encouraging more private-sector house-building – can all be met by using some variant of a Land Value Tax.”

  • David Warren 15th Dec '18 - 6:19pm

    @PeterMartin

    The SWP would go a lot further than full scale nationalisation.

    As for Labour Corbyn he is much further to the left than Attlee ever was.

    I suspect that if you sat Jeremy down and had a private conversation with him you would find that he favoured quite a large role for the state in the running of the economy.

    The left of the party which he comes from have in the past advocated public ownership of things like the banks, the construction and telecommunications sectors.

    I know because I spent years in that world.

    It is not a question of being afraid it’s a belief that state control nearly always leads to the creation of unwieldy inefficient bureaucracies.

    That said the state running natural monopolies is a necessary evil but when it did they were far from being well run.

  • Peter Martin 15th Dec '18 - 6:44pm

    @ JoeB,

    I largely agree with you. I’m not against a Land Value Tax. It’s a matter of emphasis. In my opinion you place far too much reliance on it. It would work fine in a sensible tax structure introduced as part of a wider economic package.

    @ David Warren,

    We can argue about Nationalisation until the cows come home. I wouldn’t nationalise everything but I would nationalise some things. Starting with the railways and the utilities. The evidence is that there’s more public money going into the railways now than there was before privatisation. So what was the point of privatising? There’s only one significant source of electrical energy, there’s only one supply network feeding it into all our homes, so why the pretense that one ‘supplier’ can compete with another?

    Joe’s Land Tax is actually more socialist than a Labour Party type nationalisation. If all the land were nationalised then there would have to be 100% compensation. But if a tax is applied it will both extract a tax and reduce the value of the land. Effectively it will, every year, be a partial nationalisation without compensation.

  • @ David Warren. I seem to recall a time when a then Mr Vincent Cable advocated bank nationalisation – only, at the time – to be opposed by a Labour Government.

    @ Peter Martin. I’m afraid the issue of women’s suffrage was a bit more complicated than that. I fully concede Asquith was opposed to female suffrage until 1918, and as PM of a Liberal Government pulled most of the strings before the war, whilst others in the Cabinet such as Grey and Lloyd George supported it. The violence of the suffragettes cemented Asquith’s opposition.

  • David Warren 15th Dec '18 - 7:31pm

    @PeterMartin

    On the basis of those comments I don’t think there is much if anything between us on the issue of nationalisation.

    @DavidRaw

    I always suspected that Vince Cable was a dangerous leftie!

  • I wish he was !!

  • @Fiona

    I would agree with you that education/training post-18 and even post-16 and post-14 should be flexible and multifaceted

    One interesting development is University Technical Colleges for 14-19 year-olds.

    My brother did a very practical university degree in product design and is now a manager at a product design and development company.

    But… education up to 21 will become the norm. Just as the “school” leaving age has risen from 10 to effectively 18 in just 140 years.

    Actually making stuff will not be the future. Firstly those jobs will go to developing countries. Secondly the robots will be co-operating amongst themselves to make cars etc. without much interference from us.

    And importantly the “value added” is in intellectual property. The first manufactured item can cost millions if not billions to develop and research. Films. Software. Websites and internet platforms. Effective medicines. The second costs (almost) nothing. Streamed videos and software. The actual manufacturing cost of medicines is peanuts.

    I don’t believe there is much variation in the intellectual capabilities of humans. The AVERAGE IQ has risen quite dramatically in developed countries in the past 100 years when it shouldn’t given we are same genetically. Look up the Flynn effect. Imagine going to a completely different planet with aliens speaking a new language, different social customs etc. An immense intellectual challenge. But it is something that we are all confronted with when we are born and work out.

    Thousands upon thousands of children born today will not get to university. Not because they are not intellectually capable because they are. But because they suffer from poverty and poor schools. And part of the way to tackle that is through things like the pupil premium.

  • 2/2

    I am reminded of Neil Kinnock’s speech about why he was the first Kinnock to go to university. “Was it because all our predecessors were ‘thick’? Did they lack talent – those people who could sing, and play, and recite and write poetry; those people who could make wonderful, beautiful things with their hands; those people who could dream dreams, see visions; those people who had such a sense of perception as to know in times so brutal, so oppressive, that they could win their way out of that by coming together? Were those people not university material? Couldn’t they have knocked off all their A-levels in an afternoon?”

    And there needs to be a renaissance too in adult education. To give people who may have been let down by schools second chances and the ability to learn new skills.

    If we don’t invest more in our schools, in our universities, in our colleges, not only will we be condemning people to poverty. We will also be condemning our country to poverty too.

  • Peter Martin 16th Dec '18 - 8:39am

    “And there needs to be a renaissance too in adult education.”

    “75% going to university is neither realistic, nor desirable IMO.”

    I tend to agree with both these statements. If young people genuinely want a university education then, of course, they should be encouraged. However, even now, many wind up doing this before they are ready, very likely choosing the wrong course, and ending up with high debts, because they don’t see any other options. Increasing the numbers is likely to worsen the problem.

    There has been discussion of the relative merits of the Job Guarantee and a UBI. Offering everyone a job who wishes to work could go a long way towards avoiding these problems. The JG program wouldn’t be entirely about jobs per se. There would be also be an emphasis on education and training – especially for younger people. This would be both in-service and day or even extended period release to colleges and universities.

  • On Liberals and women’s suffrage:

    There is an interesting article on the Liberal Democrat History Group site at https://liberalhistory.org.uk/history/liberals-and-women/

    This does note Gladstone’s opposition to female suffrage. But that many prominent Liberals worked hard for it – noting: “In Parliament women’s causes won devoted support from Radical Liberals including John Stuart Mill, James Stansfeld, Henry Fawcett, Sir Charles Dilke, Jacob Bright and Duncan MacLaren.”

    A very prominent advocate for women’s suffrage and Liberal was Millicent Fawcett, President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies who was married to a Liberal MP.

    Indeed Fawcett’s biography on Wikipedia notes: “A key moment occurred when she was 19 and went to hear a speech by the radical MP, John Stuart Mill, an early advocate of universal suffrage. His speech on equal rights for women made a big impression on Millicent, and she became actively involved in his campaign. She was impressed by Mill’s practical support for women’s rights on the basis of utilitarianism – rather than abstract principles. This was the start of Fawcett’s interest in women’s rights. Millicent became an active supporter of Mill’s work.”

  • Nonconformistradical 16th Dec '18 - 9:22am

    @Peter Martin
    ” “And there needs to be a renaissance too in adult education.”

    “75% going to university is neither realistic, nor desirable IMO.”

    I tend to agree with both these statements. If young people genuinely want a university education then, of course, they should be encouraged. However, even now, many wind up doing this before they are ready, very likely choosing the wrong course, and ending up with high debts, because they don’t see any other options. Increasing the numbers is likely to worsen the problem.”

    I see our further/higher education system as being far too inflexible. It involves largely a 1-chance opportunity, primarily aimed at university education, whereas what people will need in future are multiple chances involving perhaps less in-depth courses. So people can spend, say, a year studying (perhaps apprenticeship) and get to a certain level before over-committing themselves to one particular field of work.

    Then if that works out they can spend some time learning in more depth – including perhaps some training in management (I’m not talking about MBAs – I’m referring to the need for people to have some training in project organisation, getting a diverse group of people to work together as an effective team instead of being at cross-purposes).

    If the first period of training doesn’t work out for a particular person then they should be able to try something else without serious financial hindrance. And many people in trades might benefit from learning a bit about other trades with whose practitioners they may come into regular contact at work – cross-discipline team building.

  • @Peter Martin

    “many wind up doing this before they are ready, very likely choosing the wrong course, and ending up with high debts, because they don’t see any other options. Increasing the numbers is likely to worsen the problem.”

    Firstly of course the issue of debts is resolved by the issue of abolishing them.

    But what is your evidence that “many wind up doing this before they are ready, very likely choosing the wrong course”?

    My brother’s situation is a case in point. He got two A-levels and was perhaps borderline on going to university. But ended up with a first class degree in product design and he and his firm have contributed much to the economy.

    Now my position is not that everyone should go to university or that there shouldn’t be much more diverse high-quality post-18 education other than university. One good development is that you can do a degree-level apprenticeship. But I tried to track down on the internet how many are actually doing it and I couldn’t find out – my guess is hardly anyone.

    And aiming at 75% only gradually gets there and even more gradually gets to that proportion of the workforce to that level – may be 100 or more years from now.

    And there will be few jobs left in developed countries in 100 years time that don’t require a degree. And humans manufacturing things in factories en masse will be something of a dim and distant memory.

    Throughout history have said – why do the masses need a primary education, a secondary education, O-levels or GSCEs, A-levels etc. Isn’t it a complete and utter waste filling their heads with this useless education that they are not interesting in anyway and has no practical use – send them down the mines, into factories, into service – that is after all where the jobs are.

    Well – we know firstly that isn’t where the jobs of the future are – no more today than they were in the first half of the 20th Century – large numbers of these jobs of gone and by and large it is a good thing too. Just as we had to begin to educate everyone beyond the age of 14 so we need now to educate everyone beyond the age of 18.

    The jobs of the future are in STEM, in the creative arts, in researching medicines, in programming robots, AI, software etc. etc.

    Finally as a Liberal I think it is a very good thing of itself to give people education to the highest possible level so they can appreciate the world.

  • We need to start by a recognition that trying to analyse society in terms of theories developed in the nineteenth century are highly unlikely to be successful.
    Our first challenge is to develop methods of assessing the contributions of various aspects of our society to our present situation.
    We can start with education. The system that we have is one based on competition. We teach children to compete. We impose a largely bogus system of ranking on schools. We need to replace this with developing co-operation. We need to have children working together to learn. We also need to recognise that the problems that children have cannot all, or mainly, be solved by schools. When the family are living in poverty, when they have no permanent homes, then we need solutions for the problems of poverty in a very rich society. I can understand those who say that immigration should be stopped because they are bringing down wages. However we must face the fact that the real answer is to raise the standards of management. Develop ways of producing goods and services that do not involve giving huge amounts to those who get themselves into the right place at the right time and paying the people who are producing the wealth wages that are not enough to support a family.
    There is an understanding by most people that the whole austerity theory, that is that the country ensures that the majority get poorer and the minority get richer. There is an inevitable economic cycle which goes up and down. Why should the poor pay for this?
    The answers to our problems lie in building institutions which enable people to work together to solve problems.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Dec '18 - 10:40am

    A general election manifesto may be need quickly to meet the Brexit timetable/s.
    On land taxation it is essential to understand that nowadays it would be wrong to say
    “buy land, they are not making it any more” which is simply absurd. Just look at the floorspace created in tall buildings over railway stations, or at new land being created by volcanic ash cooling. Land is also being destroyed by rising sea-levels caused by glaciers melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

  • iona 15th Dec ’18 – 4:34pm………….75% going to university is neither realistic, nor desirable IMO. Switch ‘going to university……….

    Most of the young population going to university is a great ‘wheeze’; it’s even better than getting them into, low wage jobs, zero hours contracts, on JSA or even the ‘work experience’ scam.
    What other method could one devise that would get a large swathe of the population actually paying thousands of pounds a year to keep youth unemployment down?

    As for your…”‘involved in a structured higher/further education programme’, which could include being an apprentice, or similar, then I can get on board………….”

    Now that makes sense!

  • Sue Sutherland 16th Dec '18 - 1:35pm

    One of the problems we have with regard to university education is that academic intelligence is the only intelligence that is valued with the result that everyone has to go to university rather than there being diverse options for adult education.
    The other problem is that a political career is often a good option for those who have succeeded in a highly competitive academic world. With little imagination they seek to impose this kind of education on everyone else because it suited them. This is just another aspect of a world which is organised to benefit a tiny minority rather than celebrate diversity as we Lib Dems want to do.
    I find the views of Sir Ken Robinson most enlightening and inspiring because he values creativity in education and celebrates diversity. There could be so many different opportunities for careers based around leisure activities for those who no longer need to work such long hours under a technological revolution, for example. Everyone has a contribution to make to a Lib Dem society, but we must break the stranglehold of academia first.

  • @Sue Sutherland

    You make some good points as do others in this thread.

    And it is always difficult making generalisations. But there is no doubt that there has been a big shift in jobs away from manual labour to “brain power” jobs and that will continue.

    And the academic qualifications that people get have greatly increased. Not I would venture that we are any more intelligent but because education available to the “masses” has massively improved.

    At every point people said it wasn’t necessary, people weren’t suited to it etc. etc.

    The children born today will still be working towards the end of the century and we need to lay down policies for those who will be working well into the next century. And by then a large amount of jobs will be “brain power” jobs as supposed to manual jobs.

    And by and large there is a slightly false dichotomy between the academic and practical. Medicine, finance, engineering, music, art, language, drama, computer programming, law, writing, journalism, even politics etc. are all “practical” but benefit from knowledge and theory and analytical skills.

    Just look how immensely the world of work has changed from the late 19th Century.

    I used the example of my brother and we was lucky to get a good education that was well suited to his needs but I think even he would agree that he was not outstanding academically and as I say only just got into university.

    But he might have been someone who got a poor education and not made it to university and that would have been his lost and the economy’s.

    There are some who we are letting down – not because they are not intelligent but because they are not getting the education they need.

    And for a whole host of reasons those we are letting down the most tend to be those at the bottom of society and things like the PP etc. can address that. And the reason for including it on a thread on inequality is funding those things is more important IMHO for equality and equality of opportunity than say putting up tax credits slightly.

  • David Warren 16th Dec '18 - 6:57pm

    I am delighted that this article has generated such a good debate.

    Education is something that I am really passionate about not least because I received such a poor one.

    Since leaving at 16 I have lost count at the number of people who express surprise that I haven’t been to university.

    With my background the only jobs open to me were low paid manual ones.

    My achievement came through being active in my union and eventually becoming a national officer.

    In that job I was able to move into a more white collar environment and use my brain instead of brawn.

    Still feel that the school system failed me and it is still failing millions.

  • @Richard Underhill 16th Dec ’18 – 10:40am

    With respect, you are misconstruing the meaning of “land” in economics and therefore in the idea of “land value tax”. They indeed are not making land any more, well, we aren’t. I suppose newly forming stars and planets are! It is the factor of production that is not created by the application of human labour and capital. So in your example, the increase in capacity of a piece of land by tower blocks is capital not land, though it will increase the value of the land beneath it. The sea is land, and when you drain the sea as in the Netherlands or build artificial islands as in Dubai, that is capital.

    A tax on “land” could encompass not just the ground beneath our feet and its ever changing value as communities increase and prosper, or even decline and fade away, but the electromagnetic spectrum, the airlanes and shipping lanes, the minerals beneath our feet and the natural virgin forest we had nothing to do with actually creating. Geographical locations and minerals would be the biggest elements of course.

  • Peter Hirst 17th Dec '18 - 1:48pm

    Rather than reducing inequality that raises the question of “in what?”, I’d prefer us to focus in making a similar quality of life available for all. This would then allow differences in what constitutes that. For some more free time would be a factor, for others access to beautiful countryside, for others to work hard and become a millionaire. We all have different values and so beyond a livable standard of living want different things.

  • Peter Hirst is right to turn the emphasis towards ‘quality of life’, because that is an important part, I believe, in the argument for UBI. And QoL lies behind the usual criterion for judging or gauging Poverty, as having too little income to take part to the full in the life of the community.

    As for UBI, it will have to be introduced progressively over several years, because the intended major shift in purchasing powers will fairly quickly upset all markets, as demand grows for good things while that for pointless ostentation fades — or so I hope!

  • David Warren 17th Dec '18 - 5:50pm

    Spot on Roger.

    I want us to start the debate about UBI and the level at which it should be set.

    It is all very well raising issues with Universal Credit but even when you get some money on time it is simply not enough to live on.

    Carers Allowance is even lower.

    UBI will have to be introduced progressively so let’s start with the people who need it most.

  • Peter Martin 18th Dec '18 - 12:07am

    @ Michael1,

    You ask “But what is your evidence that “many wind up doing this before they are ready, very likely choosing the wrong course”? ”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/one-in-three-university-students-wish-they-had-chosen-a-different-course-says-study-10295076.html

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnvelope2003 25th Aug - 5:44pm
    Apart from LDV everybody seems to be impressed by Boris Johnson's energy and enthusiasm, even surprisingly the local Methodist preacher. The idea of a pact...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 25th Aug - 5:32pm
    @Nonconformistradical, I am sorry that you don't like the terms left and right, but there is a common understanding of what they mean ( and...
  • User AvatarRoger Lake 25th Aug - 5:30pm
    Dear Michael BG, we do seem to have got in a tangle, but I believe we're on the same side! I will expand my two...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 25th Aug - 5:28pm
    Great Miranda - it will be even more touching when your committee sorts out maternity leave for candidates. I first raised this as a (twice)...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 25th Aug - 5:06pm
    @ John Harris "They also want to give the Scots chance of another referendum." Do you mean like we want to do on the EU,...
  • User AvatarPeter Wrigley 25th Aug - 5:01pm
    Thanks for all these comments, most from people who know far more about railways than I do, and most opposed to HS2. I'm disappointed to...