Sunday, June 21, 2009

And Another Thing...

No - you listen to me for a change

As we said right at the outset, Tyler started BOM because Mrs T got fed up with him shouting at the telly. Her view was - and is - that all blokes of a certain age get grey hair and glasses (plus maybe trousers that are an inch or two short), and then start pontificating loudly and uncontrollably to the extreme annoyance of those around them.

The traditional remedy was to shoot them. But post the Human Rights Act, you can't do that (well, not without written authorisation from the Secretary of State, anyway). Instead, you have to send them down the pub. Or a day centre. Or latterly, you can start them blogging. Anything to tidy them up out the way.

The above pic illustrates her point precisely. It shows three old gents arguing on a pavement in central London. They're obviously having a whale of a time, but it's quite clear that not one of them is listening to a word the others are saying.

The pic was taken in the mid-80s*, and the pavement in question is outside a day centre called the Insitute of Economic Affairs. The three gents were (L to R) Ralph "Lord Harris of High Cross" Harris, Arthur Seldon, and Prof Friedrich "Road to Serfdom" Hayek.

And those three were among the most influential free market/anti Big Government figures of the last half century.

Which just goes to show that batty old blokes with grey hair and glasses still have their uses.

But here's another thing...

In the final ghastly days of Labour, they keep telling us that at least they've (more or less) ended poverty. In his Gruaniad interview (blogged here), Gordo himself boasted:

"Poverty has fallen, and you'll see it continue to fall over the next year or so... Removing people from poverty must be our priority."

That is complete bunkum.

On any meaningful definition, Labour has not reduced poverty. Even if you accept their ridiculous definition of poverty as being measured relative to median income, real poverty has not fallen under Labour.

True, Brown has managed to reduce the proportion of those on less than 60% of median income (which is his entirely arbitrary definition of poverty), but the proportion in real poverty has not fallen one jot.

As we can see from the following IFS table (and see this blog), the proportion on less than 40% of median income has actually increased, and more than one-tenth of households are still on less than 50% of the median:

So when you're next watching Newsnight and some government minister goes on about Labour ending poverty, please feel free to shout at the telly.


*Footnote - that outstandingly posed pic is taken from a new biography of Arthur Seldon, one of the founders of the IEA. I haven't yet read it, but as a "member in good standing" (nice to know), I've just been sent a free copy by the good folk at the Institute. And no, I don't really think the IEA is a day centre - it continues to produce some excellent papers, several of which we've blogged in the past.

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