Politricks encompasses a vast range of topics. I’ll cover some topics which are universal in politics and then focus on development in politics in certain countries and parties that are worth keeping an eye on.
Feel free to use this as a source of references (graphs, articles, etc) when you are debating with someone about politics, or just simply send the page to someone if you can’t be bothered to explain things. Right-click and ‘copy image URL’ to link an image.
The most important thing to realise when analysing politics, is not to listen to what politicians (or the media) say, but to read their policies (such that the performance of their speech doesn’t effect your judgement) and to look at the results of their policies via statistics. It is therefore important that you are looking at the relevant statistics, as it is very easy to pull out statistics that make it seem like things are going well, when in fact things are going terribly.
1. The political spectrum
2. Economic system
9. Election Tactics
10. Diversion Tactics
11. Language and Propaganda
12. Statistics (Growth, Inflation, Unemployment, Poverty, Debt)
15. UK Politics
16. Conservative Party
18. New Labour
20. EU politics
21. Greek politics
22. US politics
1. The Political Spectrum
The political spectrum is often filled with misinformation, dogma and ideologies. It is important to critically examine what is on offer throughout this spectrum, as global politics (and the media) has largely become dominated by the authoritarian right-wing.
A simple representation of the political spectrum:
These terms are very poorly understood (left right and libertarian authoritarian) in the mainstream.
For instance in the left-right paradigm, it is common that as the centreground of politics moves to the right (such as in the UK where labour, which is considered left wing, is essentially a very right wing party thanks to Margaret Thatcher) things that were previously centre-right ideologies are now referred to as ‘radical left’ policies. This is commonly known as The Overton Window. This is very damaging to political debate as it makes extreme right wing policies seem more acceptable/normal, and left wing politics more extreme.
Redefining the Political Spectrum – The Rational Spectrum
The authoritarians (pdf) – Psychology study of authoritarians
In the following definitions banks and media can be assumed to fall under corporation’s nametag.
- Fascism – merging of identity of corporations and workers into state, private ownership
- Socialism – merging of identity of corporations into workers, oversight of state
- Classical – partial merging of identity of workers, corporations and state (theoretical)
- Mixed – small chance of being truly mixed, most likely will turn into neo-liberal (realistic)
- Neo-classical – merging of identity of corporations into workers, no state (theoretical)
- Neo-liberal – merging of identity of state and workers into corporations (realistic)
- Authoritarian – merging of identity of workers and corporations into the state, public ownership
- Libertarian – merging of identity of corporations and state into workers, public ownership (theoretical)
- Anarchism – no merging of identities, hence no state or corporations.
Workers’ identities are merged into corporations via brands/advertising, and into states by propaganda.
An interesting comparison may be between fascism and neo-liberal capitalism. In fascism the state is the lead identity of everything else, whereas in neo-liberal capitalism corporations are the lead identity. Under neo-liberal capitalism, corporations use advertising and brands to convince the workers to consume in order to advance profits (and indirectly this forces the workers to work to earn money in order to consume). Whereas under fascism, the state uses propaganda to convince workers to work in order to advance the power of the state. It is very difficult to draw a distinction between the two as it is essentially the state/corporations (which have merged identities, though one leads the other) trying to convince workers to advance their own aims. The only main difference is that, under neo-liberalism, corporations can claim that they are just providing the workers with what they want (goods), hence keeping the workers superficially satisfied. This would give the workers the illusion of being free (if you have enough money), whereas under fascism this is less disguised.
First of all it is important to define:
Deficit – the difference between the government’s spending, and what it receives. The deficit exists where the government spends more than it receives, and a surplus exists when the government receives more than it spends
National Debt – The amount of money owed by the UK government, or the summation of deficits and surpluses since the beginning of time plus interest
Austerity – a set of policies which ‘aims’ to reduce government budget deficits and (in its general definition) includes spending cuts and tax increases
The reality of austerity in the UK is rather different. First of all, in practice, it usually consists of huge spending cuts with a relatively small decrease in taxes. And the majority of these tax cuts apply firstly to corporations, and secondly a blanket tax cut for the population with the biggest effects on the highest income brackets. It has to be blanket of course otherwise it would attract suspicion from the public if only the rich had tax cuts, but this doesn’t mean the blanket isn’t skewed in one sides favor (e.g. 1% tax cut for a poor person is a lot less money than a 1% tax cut for an extremely wealthy person).
While it is necessary to increase the efficiency of spending during these times to reduce spending which isn’t being converted into useful products/services, the severity of austerity being applied in practice is completely crippling an economy (e.g. Greece, Spain, Italy, UK).
- So irrespective of anything else, is the deficit a relevant statistic to economics?The deficit isn’t the real measure of progress, the national debt is. Austerity is merely a method of reducing the deficit, and reducing the deficit reduces the rate at which the national debt increases. Up until the point where you get a surplus, from where the national debt decreases. In the past, there has rarely been a surplus and it has only ever been small in size and lasted for a short amount of time. Surely if surpluses were the way governments performed well, the government would have already failed now as an institution?The national debt only has any significance when measured as: national debt divided GDP (debt must be expressed as a proportion to the size of the economy), to reduce this figure you can either reduce national debt (reduce deficit then maintain a surplus) or increase GDP faster than debt. Throughout history, the UK has reached up to 250% debt/GDP yet the money generated through surplus dwarfs the deficits generated. The historical record shows the best thing to do is to fuel growth with government spending (a deficit), and if spent wisely, could also provide a return on investment, reducing the debt. There are also other ways that can be used in conjunction with this one to reduce the real value of the debt, such as inflation, QE and currency devaluations. This is a much better method of reducing the deficit in the long term than huge cuts. To take an example compare the national debt and the deficit over the period of 1950-1970 in the image below. This period is clearly mostly undertaken with a deficit, yet the national debt drops from 240% to 40%. This reduction in national debt must therefore be mostly due to an increase in GDP which was not generated by a surplus.
- Still not convinced? Well let’s assume that the deficit is very relevant to economics (even though it isn’t). Is a deficit a bad thing and a surplus a good thing?
In economic theory, GDP is a function of aggregate demand.
Aggregate Demand = Government Spending + Private Spending + Investment Spending – Trade Deficit
Trade Deficit = Imports – Exports
Government Spending = Taxes + Deficit
Deficit = – Surplus
Surplus = Taxes – Government Spending (given Taxes > Government Spending)Therefore creating a surplus by cutting government spending, actually sucks money from the population via unnecessary taxes and puts it into government coffers, lowering Aggregate Demand and shrinking GDP. Therefore, assuming all the other variables are constant, austerity destroys the growth of an economy as exampled by Bill Clinton in the US.You can verify this with a simple explanation given here: Why you should love government deficits.However, in the UK (and in the Clinton example) the Trade Deficit increased, meaning that this sucked even more growth out of the economy, and Investment stagnated. So where did the very small amount of growth that the UK received come from? It came from an increase in private (household) spending. But in a time where benefits are being slashed, and work is no longer bringing people out of poverty due to declines in real wages, where is the household’s money coming from? It is coming from normal people taking out private debt from private banks at much higher interest rates than the government would be able to borrow at. It is essentially putting the population of the UK into debt slavery by taking their savings and plunging them into debt. Austerity is enslaving the population of the UK to their employers and banks, which is coincidentally where the Conservative party get the majority of their funding from.
The trade-off between these deficits can be seen below:
- Don’t believe me? What is the opinion of top economists?
Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist) summarises the austerity position in the UK perfectly:
“A return to growth after austerity has been put on hold is not at all surprising. As I pointed out recently, if this counts as a policy success, why not try repeatedly hitting yourself in the face for a few minutes? After all, it will feel great when you stop.”Here are some interviews with some prominent economists:
Ha-Joon Chang: ‘Living within our means’ makes no economic sense
Stiglitz (Nobel prize winning economist): Why austerity won’t solve the crisis (video)
Keen (economist that predicted financial crisis) explains austerity (video)
Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist) tries to explain austerity to Conservatives (video)
OBR rebukes Cameron for claiming that austerity has not hit growth
- Ok, let’s assume that the deficit is a relevant statistic, is a bad thing and that all the economists are wrong. What does the data of previously implemented austerity measures in the real world show us?
Scatter plots that show a strong correlation between austerity and negative growth from empirical (real) data.
There is no sign anywhere that austerity is good for an economy, in fact the consensus is that austerity is a severely damaging policy. The reason the Conservatives are pushing such a flawed policy, is because it has given them an excuse to reduce the size of the government by spending less and placing the public assets into private hands. Whether you like it or not, private interests care for profit and not about you at all, whereas it is the role of the government to care for its citizens. Austerity is destroying British society in front of our eyes; we will become more and more like the US.
Unfortunately I fear that the British public will only see the true extent of what austerity has done to the economy when the next economic recession/depression occurs in the next few years. What will be the solution to the economy then from the Conservatives? Even more austerity? Or will they admit they have gotten this wrong?
The reason it is so easy to fall for the trick of austerity, is that we compare the way a government’s finances are managed to the way our family budgets are managed. But surely you must realise that the way a government for an entire nation is run, is infinitely more complex than your household budget? This is why there are hundreds of thousands of economists that still don’t understand how economies work, and why there is maybe 1 unqualified guy (you) trying to figure out how your family budget works.
AAV: National economies are not the same as family budgets
If all this does not convince you that austerity is extremely damaging to an economy, read the Conservative section on this page to see how austerity has affected the UK economy and consider seeing a medical professional.
AAV: Austerity and Economic Illiteracy
Studebaker: Exposing the myth of austerity
Historical UK national debt – historical maximum is 250%, current is under 100% and interest rates for borrowing are at historic lows.
Keen: Are surpluses normal?
How Austerity Destroyed the British Empire
Privatisation is the selling off of national (public) assets to private interests. It is usually done under the pretense that private enterprises will run services more effectively than the government as they are motivated by profit and must compete with other firms to offer the best price.
This is the theory anyway, in practice it is a very different story. In reality it is essentially the government trusting people who are motivated purely by profit, to provide an essential service to the running of the country e.g. healthcare, energy supply, transport etc. These areas tend to have very inelastic demand as they are essentially necessities, hence private interests can get away with charging high prices. Competition is not much of an issue as either monopolies or oligopolies are formed. A good example to contrast public and private interests in these areas is the NHS in the UK and the healthcare system in the US. The NHS is run efficiently and cheaply; free at the point of use, whereas the private healthcare system in the US has enormous costs and tends to oversubscribe pills/operations in order to increase revenue. However the NHS is covertly being privatised and hence is losing its edge.
It is common privatisation tactics to cut or stagnate the funding to cause the targeted public service to show failings, it is then announced that privatisation would enhance the running of the service which gathers the support of unsatisfied users. There are even some cases where (such as in the NHS) a subset of the service which has been privatised shows failings, but then in the media is represented as “NHS fails”. This leaves readers under the impression that the public service of the NHS is the reason for the failure. Couple of examples: NHS1, NHS2.
The cut to funding, revealing a supposedly failing service, also allows the government to sell off the service at a much lower price than it is worth, giving the private interests (usually a party donor) an extremely profitable deal. Not only that, but then the governments occasionally continues to covertly subsidise the service, being completely hypocritical in that private enterprises are better than state run ones.
Underpriced RBS Share Sell-off – to hedgefunds
Underpriced Royal Mail Sell-off – to hedgefunds
List of Conservative party donors
Fullfact: Britain’s privatised rail is 40% too expensive (and requires government subsidy)
A commonly used measure of inequality within a country and globally is the Gini Coefficient. It is very important to note that Gini is a measure of income distribution, not wealth distribution.
Global Gini – As can be seen, the world Gini rises rapidly during the emergence of neo-liberal economics in the Western world, and then begins to drop as developing nations such as India and China begin to grow very rapidly.
Gini of each country 2014
UK Gini – As can be seen in the graph, under the conservative government of Margaret Thatcher inequality rose an enormous amount.
US Gini – This sort of rapid rise occurs in the US at the same time as Reagan also embraced neo-liberal economics (he was close acquaintances with Thatcher).
The most extensive study done on inequality is done by Thomas Piketty in his 700 page book: Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
As it’s a bit long for most people, a reasonable summary is given here.
It may be important to note that in a society based on monetary competition, a system of absolute equality would fail as no one would be motivated to do anything as getting rich is used as the primary motivation today. However, a severe reduction in inequality is needed from both a moral and long-term economic/political perspective. It doesn’t need to be reduced to zero, but it does need to be reduced. Not just for the benefit of the people that are the lower end of the income spectrum, but for everyone in society.
Obesity is more common in more unequal rich countries:
(holy shit look at the UK):
Incarceration rates are higher in more unequal rich countries:
Arguments for (some level of) inequality:
Paul Graham: Inequality and Risk
Paul Graham: Mind the Gap
In addition, the inequality we talk about today is inequality of income, which is generally associated with material possessions. Why is it this type of inequality we use to motivate ourselves? If you made everyone absolutely equal in terms of wealth (so they could live reasonably comfortably), could you motivate them with other non-materialistic inequalities, that have no impact on the planet, such as popularity/rank which are other motivators commonly found today?
While the distribution of income is the major concern for most families on the planet as it is what puts food on the table, the distribution of wealth is probably far more important. Wealth is power; income is not power. Whoever controls the wealth controls society.
Rich people are often called wealth creators, but this is becoming decreasingly the case as time passes on. Being rich is becoming less about being rewarded for your skill/effort (meritocracy), and more about how rich your parents were or how psychopathic you are (lack empathy).
There are 3 ways not to pay tax:
- Tax evasion. This is where through lying or deceit you pay less tax than you should. It is against the law and often punishable by a prison sentence.
- Tax avoidance. This is where you manipulate the tax system to find loopholes and techniques to pay less tax than you ordinarily would, and less than you’re supposed to – but within the law.
- Tax planning. Here you organise your finances in such a way as to take advantage of state-encouraged schemes which are designed to encourage you to act a certain way, with the incentive of paying less tax e.g. ISAs.
It is notable that lesser forms of not paying tax are only available to people with savings (middle class and above), while the major forms of tax avoidance are only available to the upper class and corporations who can afford lawyers and accountants to set up complex financial management.
Krugman: Inherited wealth (video)
CEO hikes price of life saving drug by 5500% for profit (interview video)
Huge fossil fuel company CEO pay contributes to climate change (9% more than average CEO)
TYT: CEO pay relative to workers (video)
Bankers do not create wealth, they siphon it off other people. It is essentially the generation of money from moving it from one place to another, it is pure bureaucracy. Why do you think growth is so much slower than it used to be? Because the manufacturing base was ignored for a finance based economy, which just acts as a parasite to real wealth creators and creates fake growth through speculation which eventually collapses in a bubble causing a recession.
33% of UK GDP is based upon the financial sector, this means that the economy is based on something that only exists because people believe it exists. As soon as that belief disappears, a significant amount of that 33% of GDP will disappear. It is important that an economy is significantly diversified (especially in real products/services) to mitigate the risk of a severe shock to the economy. The UK economy is not well poised to survive such a shock.
0.001% represents 73,600 people. Those 73,600 people, on average, each own $227 million. It should also be noted that a significant amount of people are not included in global wealth calculations and are not present on rich lists. This would include royalty and families such as the Rockefellers and Rothschilds.
There seems to be a severe hypocrisy in the treatment of the poor compared to the rich amongst certain people.
The rich are considered ‘job/wealth creators’, they contribute the most in taxes, their money trickles down to others, and their enormous wealth provides benefits to everyone and the economy.
The poor/immigrants are considered scroungers, job stealers, they depreciate wages, they contribute the least in taxes and their lack of wealth is a burden on everyone else and the economy.
How can a group of people with huge amounts of power be responsible for all the good things that happen, and none of the bad things; yet a group of people with absolutely no power is not responsible for anything good, and all of the bad.
It is most likely that the group with all the power, is responsible for majority of the good things and majority of the bad things as they have the most influence.
Lately I have been noticing more frequently that people are claiming ‘well if you can’t afford kids you shouldn’t have them’. While this makes sense to a certain degree, there is another way of looking at this. This means wealth is becoming a deciding factor as to whether or not you have the ‘right’ to have children, particularly in an age where wealth is becoming less about earning it and more about inheriting it. While appearing logical on the surface, this seems to advocate for a form of social cleansing.
If this point is being made from the point of reducing benefits, it is important to note that it is not the children’s fault for being born, they do not get a say, so taking benefits from them is affecting the innocent children themselves, not the parents.
If this point is being made from a reducing overpopulation perspective, then any measures taken should apply across the income distribution, not just to the poorest in society.
I have also noticed a rise of comments along the tune of ‘be grateful, at least you are not living in a continent like Africa’. Why are you setting the comparative benchmark of how your country, one of the wealthiest in the word, is relative to one in absolute destitution? I don’t see people who complain about immigrants taking their jobs or wages saying, “well it could be worse, in Africa they have unemployment rates of 85% and work for 50p an hour”. The only people who are saying ‘it could be worse’ are the ones who are not affected (or if they are affected they are using it as a coping mechanism and denying reality).
Yes things could be worse, but the idea of progress is to move things forward, so you should really be saying ‘things could be better’. But i have a feeling most people will be saying ‘things could be worse’ right up until the point they are thrust into absolute poverty by their government.
AAV: Scrounger Narrative
Poor people pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rich
Teenager kills herself after being teased for being poor
Poverty premium: why it costs so much more to be poor
Remarkable study accidentally reveals what really happens when we help the poorest
Quote from US Whitehouse website: “In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts between countries.”
Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
TTIP sounds boring and harmless on the front of it, but the name is merely doublespeak to give corporations far more power over the public, and allow additional methods of transfer of wealth from the public to private interests. You will not see it advertised this way by most politicians. Aspects of TTIP:
- Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). See below
- Corporations have a large influence over the legislation of TTIP. 92% of meetings are with corporations, the rest with public interest groups
- The negotiations for it are conducted in secret from the public
- Privatisation of public assets is part of the agreement in order to avoid, so called, ‘state monopolies’. It also makes it more expensive/difficult to nationalise assets
- It will undermine employee rights, food standards, environmental standards etc.
- It will make all of these changes irreversible
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)
Quote from US Whitehouse website: “In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts between countries.”
ISDS is an integral part of TTIP that gives corporations the right to sue governments in secret courts (no public scrutiny) with corporate lawyers if their actions affect their profits. It is essentially an additional method of transferring public funds (paid by the tax payer) to private corporate interests. Governments rarely win the cases.
Real examples of misuse of ISDS:
- Swedish polluter Vattenfall is seeking over US$3.7 billion from Germany following a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy
- Canadian company Lone Pine is suing Canada via a US-subsidiary for CAN$250 million after the Canadian province of Quebec imposed a moratorium on shale gas extraction (fracking) over environmental concerns
- Tobacco giant Philip Morris is demanding US$2 billion from Uruguay over health warnings on cigarette packets
- In El Salvador, an Australian company is suing the government before a closed tribunal of corporate lawyers for $300m (nearly half the country’s annual budget) in potential profits foregone. Why? Because El Salvador refused permission for a gold mine that would poison people’s drinking water.
- Find more real examples here
Potential examples of what ISDS could block:
- New legislation designed to protect public health – such as new measures to curb tobacco consumption, or sugar or alcohol consumption
- New moratoriums or bans on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
- New legislation to label GMOs in both fresh and processed foods;
- New legislation designed to address climate change and promote renewable energy over fossil fuel energy
- New regulations to restrict the use of harmful pesticides within both commercial and residential markets
There are many other types of trade deals that have happened, for instance TPP was passed recently.
9. Election Tactics
It is important to know what election tactics political parties tend to use in order to gain votes.
Choosing the narrative – Take the UK Conservatives. They picked the economy as their narrative. They put all the blame for the economic recession on Labour even though it was a widespread recession, i’m not saying Labour were any good with the econom, but to blame the state of the British economy on Labour and claim that the country is ‘bankrupt’ is false. Having gotten elected post-economic collapse, they then make it seem as if they are responsible for a booming recovery. Even though it is the slowest recovery in UK history and one of the slowest recoveries in Europe (along with other countries where heavy austerity was applied). Any growth is in spite of the austerity of the government, not because of it.
Targeted Advertising – See Political Advertising
Media – The media obviously have a gigantic role to play. For example in the UK 2015 election, the Sun demonised the SNP and invoked fears of a coalition with Labour in England where the Conservatives have a significant chance of gaining seats. But in Scotland, where the conservatives have a low chance of getting seats and Labour has a higher chance, the Sun promoted the SNP. This ensured Labour lost votes in Scotland, and the Conservatives gained votes in England.
Economic statistics – Statistics are usually manipulated for instance by applying heavy austerity at the beginning of the election term, and then increasing government spending as the election comes about which gives rise to larger growth statistics and lower unemployment etc. Of course positive statistics are cherry picked, even if the government is not necessarily responsible for contributing towards them (such as low inflation in the UK which the government has little control over). They tend to assume any beneficial statistic that appears is due to their efforts, and any negative statistics are due to Labour mismanaging finances 8 years ago.
Policies – Policies that are unpopular with the public are often implemented at the start of the parliament, and some of the good ones are left until the end. By the time the election comes around most people have forgotten about the bad policies (assuming the media reported on them in the first place) and have the good ones fresh in their minds.
10. Diversion Tactics
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” – Noam Chomsky
Blaming the current economic conditions on immigration and ‘benefit scroungers’ is a typical diversion technique to focus attention away from the political, economic and financial system that has caused it and onto the most vulnerable in society. If you look at actual studies and statistics on The effects of immigration and The effects of welfare, then it is clear that public and political dogma is completely out of touch with reality. The concept that the poorest in society could have the largest effect on the economy is severely unlikely even in theory.
In addition, given that the British government has contributed significantly to the creation of the immigration crisis (Iraq and hence ISIS and hence Syria, Libya), the British people’s reluctance to accept any more immigrants is harsh on other countries who have to take all the immigrants and had little to do with the reason for them migrating.
Another common tactic is to release data that will be viewed negatively by the public on the day something else is going to happen in the media (example), such that the bad news receives less attention that it would normally.
You will often hear that when some kind of scandal goes on in politics, finance etc that there were ‘just a few bad apples’, implying that the problem is a few rogue people. Whereas in reality it is, more often than not, a problem of the culture within the sector, or even more likely a problem of the system/regulation that oversees that sector.
For a detailed analysis of propaganda techniques read this.
The deterioration of language may be one of the most serious crimes of recent history. Language is a tool you use to think, therefore if someone is able to control the language you use, they are able to control the scope of your thinking to a certain extent. For instance, there are some tribes still around which can only count up to a limited number such as 5, and they can not understand any quantity larger than that. George Orwell articulates an extreme example of how language could be manipulated in his novel 1984. It details a language called Newspeak which is used by the government to control the populace.
Doublespeak (e.g. euphemisms) is language that deliberately disguises, distorts or reverses the meaning of words. Even people who think of themselves as being direct and plainspoken, rarely can get through a day without using euphemisms unconsciously.
Euphemisms, more specifically, can be used: to be polite, to withhold information, to be more persuasive, to modify behaviour, to hide negative meaning etc.
Enchanced interrogation techniques – torture
Pacification – Coercive force including warfare
Presence – Occupation of a country
National living wage – previously called the minimum wage (this undermines the movement towards getting workers a living wage that they can actually live on, now they have a living wage that they can’t live on)
Life chances act – Child poverty act
Political correctness is a very powerful method of controlling debate and thoughts.
Zizek: Political correctness is a more dangerous form of totalitarianism
Saad: Political correctness and atheism (video)
5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think
George Carlin: Soft Language (Video)
George Orwell: 6 rules of writing
Doublespeak Award – ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered
Orwell Award – Opposite of doublespeak award
George Monbiot: Doublespeak
Euphemisms in food
AAV: Push polling (loaded questions)
Statistics are essentially another form of language that a lot of people don’t really understand unless they have had significant education in mathematics.
You can find examples of misuse of statistics everywhere e.g. climate change, smoking, economics etc.
A few basic common ones include:
- Small sample size which doesn’t represent the population at large
- Cherry picking the good statistics, ignoring the ones that are bad
- Picking a beneficial baseline of comparison – This can occur with stating a single statistic and also with graphs
- Giving the statistics in form that cannot be compared (or are very difficult to compare) with previous issuings of the statistic e.g. a change in definition of poverty.
- Correlation does not imply causation – many governments claim they have improved something because it is due to their policies. Just because something gets better while one of their policies exist, does not necessarily mean their policy contributed towards the statistic.
Darren Huff: How to Lie with Statistics (Book)
Joel Best: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activisits, Updated Edition (Book)
Types of misuse of statistics
Correlations do not imply causation examples
“The unelected Tory peer John Nash tried to deflect criticism by saying that food bank usage “went up 10 times under the previous government” a look at the actual figures shows how misleading this particular statistical soundbyte is. Food Bank usage increased from 2,814 in 2005-06 to 40,898 in 2009-10, an overall increase of 38,000 people per year using food banks. Under the Tory led government it has soared to 913,138 people per year – an increase of 872,240 people. Only in the world of tribablistic political excuses does an increase of 40,000 counterbalance an increase of 870,000.” – AAV
UK Gov Poverty figures: “Poverty statistics fall in number of children in workless poor families” – note this is the number of children in poverty in workless families. It makes no reference to the number of children in poverty in working families. It actually turns out that 63% of children in poverty are in working families.
Statistics commonly misused by politicians:
Growth is measured as the % change in GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
If we look external to the political, economic, financial and monetary system we have set up, it is rather clear that in the real word – as opposed to the fake system we have set up in order to organise ourselves – you cannot grow forever on a finite planet. Thus growth, at this point in human development where we have pretty much saturated the planet, is a destructive force and jeopardizes humanity’s future. Growth once you have saturated your resources is the reason for the fall of many types of empire (and usually it also coincides with fiat currency devaluation).
But even within our current system is the growth we experience real? To be able to tell this, we need to define what GDP is. It is a measure of economic activity which captures the value of goods and services that the UK produces during a given period. It can be measured in 3 ways, by measuring production, expenditure or income (averaging techniques are usually used to get a single value). It does not make any attempt to measure how equally distribution the growth is over the wealth spectrum. This means that things like: rising stock markets, rising house prices (things whose value can be wiped out instantaneously) can contribute towards growth in GDP, things that do not benefit the majority of people who do not own stocks or houses. So when an economy is growing you must ask, who is it growing for?
It is also worth nothing that growth can be revised years after the growth was first measured via ‘Blue Book’.
CPI is the commonly used measure of inflation globally by governments. However the way CPI is calculated has varied significantly since its implementation:
- CPI no longer measures the cost of maintaining a constant standard of living
- CPI no longer measures full inflation for out-of-pocket expenditures
- With the misused cover of academic theory, politicians forced significant underreporting of official inflation, so as to cut annual cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security, etc.
- Politicians look to expand further the concept of artificially-suppressed cost-of-living adjustments in current budget-deficit negotiations, through the use of the Chained-CPI
- Use of the CPI to adjust retirement benefits, private income or to set investment goals impairs the ability of retirees, income earners and investors to stay ahead of inflation
- Understated inflation used in estimating inflation-adjusted growth has created the illusion of recovery in reported GDP
CPI doesn’t include things like house prices, mortgages or council tax, but does include things like the prices of apps, and dating agency fees… How useful.
In the UK there are 2 measures of inflation, CPI and RPI. CPI is usually (if not always) lower than RPI. The government therefore tends to use CPI if it benefits them (e.g. if they say they will keep benefits and payouts in pension schemes in line with inflation, they will pick the lower CPI value so that they pay less), and RPI if it benefits them (e.g. social housing rent increases so they gain more).
Unemployment as a goal for a society is becoming completely at odds with our technological advancement. There have even been cases in China where, to create jobs, the government has subsidised a load of people digging a hole with spades instead of with a digger (hence less people). Despite this, there is still a huge amount of demonisation of the unemployed, even though there are just less jobs required to achieve a particular task. One could argue that as our knowledge expands, there are more tasks available. But these would probably be jobs that require a very high level of education which is not accessible to the people, who will have lost their labour intensive jobs due to the machines, given the current condition of society. One could argue that as the population increases, more jobs are needed. This is true, but for every additional person added to the population, the number of additional jobs required to provide a proportional increase in goods/services to them is probably 0.01-0.1 per person (randomly made up figure). So what do the rest do? Luckily humans are interested in consuming all sorts of bullshit, otherwise unemployment would be far higher (lucky in the case of jobs, not in the case of long term survival of human race due to wasting resources).
So, anyway, assuming it is a useful statistic, how can it manipulated?
- Redefining Unemployment: originally defined as those ‘registered’ unemployed, changed to only count ‘claimants’ – this obviously reduced the number greatly as many unemployed people do not, for various reasons, claim benefits.
- Cutting Benefit Entitlements: By making changes to the benefit system (who is eligible and not) the government can magic away unemployment numbers by simply removing eligibility for benefits. If the person cannot claim, they are not classed as unemployed.
- Training Schemes & Work Programmes: the conservative government of the 80’s began to double count those in training & work programmes. First, they excluded them from the unemployed figures, then they added them to the total workforce figures – this means that simply by recruiting people into a work programme, the government has reduced the unemployment figures. Prior to Thatcher, these schemes were not counted as employment.
- Zero-hours contracts
One million jobless left out of UK government employment figures
This has actually gotten so bad that goals are set for the number of sanctions handed out in order to reduce the unemployment figures. You know it is bad when the closing of a benefit claim for any reason, including death, is classed as a “positive benefit outcome”.
A truly monumental abuse of unemployment figures can be found in these US statistics, where the labour force participation rate provides a means of assessing unemployment without government manipulation.
But how useful are employment figures when, even if you are classified as employed, you are still in poverty?
Absolute poverty is defined as the lack of sufficient resources with which to meet basic needs.
Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. It is concerned with the absence of the material needs to participate fully in accepted daily life.
Child poverty, which is used as the main measure of poverty in the UK, is defined as where a child lives in a household with below 60 percent of median income.
There are often claims that relative poverty is not important at all whereas absolute poverty is the figure of merit. This is probably most likely championed by people who have not experienced it themselves and lack scientific knowledge or empathy. Many studies have been carried out showing that feeling poorer than those around you is always more or equally a factor than actually being poor not just from a mental health perspective, but also with regards to physical health.
If you want a little insight into the research of the effects of feeling/being poor please read this extract from “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” by Professor Robert Sapolsky who is a human behavioural biologist. Or better yet watch his lectures and read his book found on the ‘Human Behaviour’ part of this website.
Absolute poverty was defined globally in 2005 as someone living on less than $1.25 per day. It was recently updated in 2015 to $1.90 dollars a day. It is important to note that this isn’t updated regularly, and inflation occurs over time which will reduce how much of something a unit of money is able to buy. Therefore someone will have to pay more to buy the same unit of food. If inflation is not accounted for regularly in this poverty statistic it will appear as if people are being taken out of poverty when in fact, although they are living on more than $1.25 dollars a day, they may not necessarily be any better off than they were before. As the currency of the measure is in dollars (i.e. not the local currency), it also also necessary to account for the purchasing-power parity (PPP) of each country which is difficult to measure in itself.
Debt is the most abused statistic of them all. First we must define the 3 major types:
- National Debt – This is short term public debt that is attributed to the government (and hence the tax payer) and is the statistic that is generally referred to when referring to debt.
- Long-term National Debt – The official National Debt statistic excludes certain liabilities such as state and public sector pensions, whereas this statistic includes them. This is a hard statistic to find.
- Private debt – This is debt that an individual company or citizen will accumulate and is not associated with any country’s statistics.
UK National Debt (2015) – 81.6% of GDP – £1.6 trillion – £25,640 per person
UK Long-term National Debt (Unknown) – 244.8% of GDP – £4.8 trillion – £78,000 per person
UK Private debt (2010) – 240% of GDP – £5.1 trillion.
Therefore the total debt in the UK was approximately 485% of GDP – £9.5 trillion – £160,900 per person.
The US national debt of $18.112975 trillion is frozen and will remain frozen as long as the US does not increase its debt ceiling of $18.113 trillion which is where the official debt number tops out. What the US is doing is merely burning through the emergency measures of cash, which will be soon if a new debt ceiling deal isn’t reached.
Long-term national debt is estimated at 1175% of GDP – $210 trillion – $654,200 per person.
If you include private debt its 1375% of GDP – $246 trillion.
Simple narratives are a great way of explaining complex ideas to an ordinary member of the public. However, whether you like it or not, the real world is very complicated and hence making short simplifications will mislead them as to how the world actually works.
“Live within our means” – This is a vast simplification and is given significant weighting in the public arena as people draw the parallel with how they manage their own budget and hence can relate to it. But the economy of a country is vastly more complex than your average household budget. Governments have many tools to deal with debt that are much better than those available to a household (growth, low borrowing rates, control over the currency, quantitative easing, tax collection etc). Hence this statement, which is used in support of austerity, is completely nonsensical.
AAV: National economies are not the same as family budgets
“Labour bankrupted Britain” – when the Conservatives entered office in 2010 the public sector debt was just below 60% of GDP. In the past the debt has been as high as 240% in the 1940s and 260% in the 1810s. So to claim Britain is bankrupt is false.
“Minimum wage causes inflation” – Empirical evidence does not support this
“Long-term economic plan” – With the except of China, most politicians only consider the plan for the next 5 years while they are in office, so it is worth checking if their economic predictions and policies represent this
“One Nation” – The behaviour of Westminister politicians in the ‘English Vote for English Laws’ debate doesn’t really seem to advocate this message
Fear is a great way to prevent critical thinking (by bypassing the pre-frontal cortex which is responsible for assessing, in detail, incoming information) and cause instinctive responses. The part of the brain that is associated with fear, the amygdala, is also associated with aggression. Hence why it is common for one to lead to the other.
15. UK Politics
The 2015 UK election political party spectrum:
It may be worth noting that the majority of major parties are right wing authoritarians.
16. Conservative Party 2010-2020
Really I just want to educate people with the basics of how the world works and let people come to conclusions themselves, but you may have noticed that I use many examples involving the UK Conservative party. This is because they have lied to get into power again and again (even more than the average politician). People are putting their faith in them to fix the economy so that it will benefit them, and yet in reality they are doing the exact opposite and just making it appear as if they are doing well, by lying and misleading. I am not saying there aren’t good policies from them, but the majority of their policies are extremely harmful to the majority of the British public and the future of British society. I fear that the British public will only see the true extent of the damage that has been done the next time a recession hits.
Studebaker: Britain, for the love of god please stop David Cameron
Studebaker: 13 Terrible Tory counter-arguments
Studebaker: Misinformation, How the Tories won
Things Lib-Dems prevented the Conservatives from doing
Threat to the Economy
Slowest UK recovery from a recession
Real wages have severely declined
Slow recovery relative to other countries, only countries that were slower than the UK were ones where heavier austerity was applied
As soon as austerity was applied by the conservatives, growth trend dropped drastically, deviating from the US
Shortly after austerity is lessened in 2012, the economy actually begins to grow just in time for voters in the election; but due to the initial slow growth still trails behind other economies.
UK GDP per person has only very recently reached its pre-crisis levels, and the gradient of the recovery is much slower when compares with previous dips.
Current account deficit (balance of trade deficit) increased
Productivity relative to other countries
When the conservatives discuss the gains from the national living wage, they state the gains for a very specific type of family structure (e.g. single parents 2 kids), but do not mention the gains/losses of other types. This is due to the fact that they are cherry-picking the statistics as other types of family suffer severely from the combination of rise in wage + loss of tax credits. A predicted representation of the effects of the Conservative’s policies are shown in the figure below. As can be seen they are highly skewed to a loss of % of income for the poorest in society (the blue line is the useful statistic). It appears as if inflation has not even been accounted for, resulting in an even lower real income.
Tax credits were planned cut now whereas the national living wage only fully implemented in 2020. This means the decrease in income for the poorest will be even worse than those shown in the graph above. Young people on tax credits are not affected by national living wage, so the loss of tax credits will screw them hard.
Poor management and predictions of Universal Credit implementation:
Iain Duncan Smith Forced To Backtrack On ‘Completely Wrong’ Universal Credit Claims
Universal Credit set to cost working single mums with two children £3,000 a year, new research claims
Universal Credit: £15.8 billion for a computer system that isn’t needed
Osborne loses AAA credit rating for the UK
UK national debt clock – Real national debt stated at bottom (excludes private debt)
The slowest recovery in modern history
Wren-Lewis: How Osborne and Cameron turned a crisis into a disaster
Fullfact: Poor productivity in Britain
Using apprenticeships to lower wages and reduce unemployment statistics
744,000 zero-hours contracts
Use of Black Economy in GDP statistics (prostitution, drugs, etc)
Extremely poor predictions from George Osborne
George Osborne’s highest qualification in an economics related subject is maths at O-levels (his degree was a 2:1 in history), yet he is in charge of the economics of the entire country and refuses to listen to experts.
AAV: George Osborne is not a genius
UK’s macroeconomic index is 108th out of 140, behind: Haiti, Liberia, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar
Two thirds of economists say austerity harmed the economy
EU Commission confirms the UK Government could have saved Redcar steelworks
Threat to your family
Every 20 minutes social security takes a child away from their parents in the UK (Video)
Children can be taken away by social services over ‘secret MI5 allegations they cannot rebut’
Fury in Parliament as Tory minister kills off law to give cancer patients cheap life-saving drugs
England has highest university tuition fees in industrialised world, survey finds
For the rich, corporations and banks, but not normal people
According to Oxfam, the government’s austerity policies have devastated Britain’s middle and working classes in a variety of ways:
- As a result of austerity, an additional 800,000 British children will live in poverty over the next decade.
- Over the same period, 1.5 million working age adults will fall into poverty.
- By 2018, 900,000 public sector workers will have lost their jobs.
- The bottom 10% of British earners will have seen their incomes fall 38% over this government’s five year term.
Corporation tax is the lowest in the G7 and soon to be the lowest in the G20. It is claimed that this is to offer ‘better competition’ but countries are very unlikely to give up their market over an entire country just because they make slightly less profit.
Tories quietly ban scheme which offers poor residents a council house for life
Raising personal tax allowance is a great giveaway to the rich, masquerading as help for the poor
Right to Buy – Third of ex-council homes now owned by rich landlords
AAV: Conservative party are funded by private donors, who are they and how are they benefiting?
UK is biggest tax haven in EU, says global tax expert
AAV: Bedroom Tax
One point not brought up in the thorough article, is that housing is a very inelastic good for most people, especially the middle-aged. This is because their job, children’s school, friends, community etc is all located relative to their house, and they may have to move extremely far away in order to find a suitably sized house.
You can find many cases of individual’s lives being ruined because of this tax throughout the news.
£93bn Subsidies and tax breaks for corporations
Poorest working households will lose an average £460 a year by 2020, whereas the richest gain £670 a year
Homelessness much worse than headline figures show
Trade Union Bill: Assault on the rights of working people
Tories axe child poverty targets claiming it is arbitrary and unachievable
Who funds the Conservatives 2015
Contracts established where cancelling the contract costs 10 years of profits
Corporatism in the UK
Food bank usage in the UK is drastically on the rise from 61k to 913k vouchers used (1300% increase) over 2010-2014
Poverty figures 2015
Homelessness rises 55% from 2010-2014
Britain’s wealthiest double net worth since crisis
Poor people pay a much higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rich
Assessing the government’s new child poverty focus and future trends
UK government waters down financial regulation regime
Philip Davies: ‘fit for human habitation’ law is ‘unnecessary burden’ on landlords
Number of London households becoming homeless has soared under Mayor Boris Johnson
Osborne gives political adviser 42% rise amid public sector pay freeze
Homelessness Services and Women’s Refuges Face Wipe Out
Gag law – prevents charities, voluntary organisations, trade unions, protest groups and religions from criticising Conservative policy – but corporate lobbyists are not included.
This Gag law is in direct conflict with Cameron’s “Big Society” message which essentially seems to be doublespeak for dumping any obligation the state has to protect its citizens onto the public via charities, food banks etc in order to reduce the size of the state.
Hip hop artist banned from UK for offensive lyrics
Tories to closely monitor BBC for left wing bias ahead of party conference season
Young people who question Government or media may be extremists, officials tell parents
Assault on freedom
Snooper’s Charter – invasion of privacy
Cameron wants to ‘put rocket boosters’ on TTIP
List of sex acts banned in UK-produced porn (e.g. female ejaculation)
UN privacy chief: UK Surveillance worse than in Orwell’s 1984
Conservatives put fundamental freedoms at risk but House of Lords rejects bill
Fees for Freedom of Information appeals
10 things we found out because of FOI requests
Cameron criticised for attacks on FOI act
AAV: Who are the real extremists? – Thoughtcrime and human rights
Anti-fracking protesters to be labelled ‘extremists’ by police thanks to Government terror strategy
Tories planning to ban boycotts on unethical companies
Investigatory powers bill not fit for purpose, say 200 senior lawyers
George Osborne slashes funding for opposition parties while bill for Government advisors goes up
Conservatives to change the boundaries of borders to cut the number of MPs by 50, most of whom would be from Labour
Conservatives overspend past the legal limit in the 2014 by-elections
Changes in public spending over 2010-2015, over 2010-2020 (planned):
Rises in spending are noted in red, figures are from IFS.
- Total: -2.9%, -3.74%
- Gross debt interest: -19.5%, 11.72%
- Social security and tax credits: 2.8%, 3.6%
- Departmental spending: -9.2%, -16.2%
- Other non-departmental spending: 15.7%, 21.3%
- State pension spending: 15.3%, 23.6%
- International development spending: 22%, 34%
I can understand increasing pensions spending as the Conservatives are pretty much abandoning the young and focusing on their older voter base, but the other increases absolutely baffle me currently. What are these spending increases being spent on and why? Because all the British public government departments have been cut to hell.
UK budget deficit could be £40bn in 2020, academics warn
David Cameron hasn’t the faintest idea how deep his cuts go. This letter proves it
The cost of replacing Trident is really £167bn, new figures suggest – The new estimate is double previous calculations
David Cameron’s £100,000 trip to honour dead Saudi king
How the NHS is being dismantled
AAV: 12 things you should know about Tory NHS ‘reforms’
£2bn in stealth cuts hit NHS
Junior doctors could have pay cut by up to 40%
100 ways the Tories have failed the NHS
Tory MP claims half of NHS beds are being cut
Tory MP Philip Davies speaks for 90 minutes to stop carers getting free hospital parking
NHS Contract Awarded To Private Firm Despite Rival Bid Being “£7 Million Cheaper”
More than 50 magistrates have resigned due to new court charges which encourage innocent people to plead guilty
UK justice system withdraws choice of legal aid undermining equality of justice
Secret Courts – “As it now stands, defendants (or claimants in civil cases) can be excluded from the hearings where their fates are decided; they will not be allowed to know what the case against them is; they will not be allowed to enter the courtroom; they will not be allowed to know or challenge the details of the case; and they will not be allowed representation from their own lawyer, but will instead be represented (in their absence) by a security-cleared ‘special advocate’.”
Retrospective laws: Applying laws in the present and then prosecuting people based on the fact that they broke the law in the past
The conservative party is attempting to ditch the European bill of human rights for one that they are going to make themselves under the pretense that a few immigrants and criminals are abusing it. Given all of the links in this section, do you trust them with your human rights? Yes maybe they can fix it for 1000 criminals, but what changes could they make that would effect millions of British people without us knowing it?
Why are the conservatives interested in getting rid of EU human rights bill?
UK justice system encourages the innocent to plead guilty – Thanks to this new justice system a woman (Louisa Sewell) was fined £330 for stealing a £0.75 packet of Mars Bars because she faces benefits sanctions that meant she couldn’t afford to eat. This is a fine which is 438 times the value of the item she stole.
In contrast, in this example, the UK banks were fined a total of £2.6 billion in a market worth $5.3 trillion a day, and this rigging was going on from 2008 to 2013 according to the FCA. With a quick approximate calculation, during that entire time $24.5 quadrillion ($24504 trillion) passed through that market. Do you think they made more or less than $2.6 billion? And do you think amount they were fined is 438 times the amount they gained from the crime they committed like in Sewell’s case?
At the time of the fine some of the banks were owned by the British public due to the bank bailout in 2008, therefore effectively the British taxpayer had to pay the fine.
London is now the global money-laundering centre for drug trade
The question of UK government killing British citizens in Syria
UN to investigate British government over human rights abuses caused by the Conservative’s welfare reforms
UK first country to face a UN inquiry into disability rights violations
Government unlawfully sells off medical data to private firms
Cameron under pressure to explain £100,000 funding linked to Lebanese former arms dealer
British strikes in Syria illegal
Note the proportion spent on unemployment benefits below (of which an even smaller proportion is fraudulent).
Department for Work and Pensions benefit deaths
Fullfact: The benefit cap didn’t cause 30,000 to get back into work
Study shows benefits cuts don’t force people into work
Volunteer law project wins 95% of ‘fit for work’ test appeal cases – average is 59% success and 44% of appeals receive no legal representation
DWP bases benefits decisions on allegations about the assessee’s character rather than evidence
Fit for work assessment was trigger for suicide says Coroner
Social cleansing of poor from London due to benefits changes
Families are charged 45p a minute to talk about benefits
Vital support for the disabled slashed by 20% as Iain Duncan Smith approves town hall cuts
Young people seeking help with debt issues increase by over 20% in the last year – Cuts to benefits, increase in tuition fees, removal of maintenance grant etc are hitting young people very hard. Rather than relying on the state which is able to borrow at extremely low rates, they must then take out their own loans at much higher interest rates. This is very beneficial to the profits of private banks. It also keeps debt off the national debt measure, and onto the private debt measure which is less acknowledged by economists and the population, despite its importance.
Monbiot: Tories lobbying against air pollution laws
Cameron gives top environment policy job to a man that used to work for oil companies
Second solar firm in two days goes bust, blaming Tory policy
Wind power is now the UK’s cheapest source of electricity, but government resists
UK becomes only G7 country to increase fossil fuel subsidies
UN Scientist Chides U.K. Government For Renewable Energy Failure
Workers working excessively long hours
Report written by Conservative donor undermining employee rights
Workers Forced To Go In Sick As Tory Austerity Cuts Bite
Worse than the worst case scenario, £300 Million workfare scheme is a disaster
Fullfact: Britain’s privatised rail is 40% too expensive
NHS Privatisation (video)
Osborne plans to raise £31bn through selling off public assets in 2015-2016
Britain’s privatised rail makes millions for foreign state-owned companies
Osborne sells some RBS shares for a loss of £1bn to largely hedgefunds, advised by Rothschilds
Channel 4 privatization being considered as part of TTIP
AAV: 12 things you should know about Tory nuclear price-fixing subsidies
The Government announces decision to privatise all state schools in England
Cameron’s speech of lies
Does ANYONE believe David Cameron’s pledges? Look at his record!
Osborne’s Tory conference speech: What he said and what’s the truth
21 broken promises by the Tories – 1 for every week in government
Cameron endorsed even less regulation of banks than labour in 2007
Osborne said he would match Labour’s projected public spending in 2007
AAV: UK intelligence hypocrisies
AAV: Broken pre-election promises 2010-2015
Cameron breaks promise to not cut child tax credits (video)
Avoiding the question (video)
AAV: Cleaning up Labour’s mess myth
Overspending myth debunked by IMF, OECD, treasure, ONS, OBR and IFS
Fake rally assembled to distort number of apparent supporters
Tax cut lie
Ian Duncan Smith lies about his qualifications on his CV – gets top position anyway
Some measures appear as austerity, but in reality are nothing of the sort
Osborne ridicules fiscal charter in 2010 when Labour proposes it, yet proposes it in 2015 and it passes
Ex-Cameron aide Patrick Rock charged over abuse images
No 10 spin doctor Andy Coulson jailed for 18 months for conspiracy to hack phones
Junior Doctor Smashes Jeremy Hunt’s Media Lies
UK fueling the war in Yemen (video)
Britain supplies £6bn worth of arms to middle-east, most likely end up in hands of ISIS
UK axes support for Mediterranean refugee rescue operation
AAV: Cameron and Syria
Cameron to double UK drone fleet for fight against ISIS BEFORE parliamentary approval to take action in Syria – cost is hundreds of millions
Government steps up role as global arms dealer
UK arms deals escape scrutiny after committee ‘disappears’ under Tory government
Conservative’s party history under Thatcher
UK Gini: Inequality rises dramatically under Thatcher policy (1979-1990)
Britain under Thatcher
Examples of conservative doublespeak:
AAV: Hidden Meanings
Big Society = smaller government
Life chances act = child poverty act
National living wage = Minimum wage (for age 25+)
Flexible-hours contracts = zero-hours contracts
Wealth creators = rich people
Labour market flexibility = Power of employer over worker
Incentivising/encouraging = bullying, threatening with destitution, punishing
Reforms = cuts, punishment
Make work pay = cutting benefits to working people
Stock = people who need support and social security
Osborne’s Forecast: £6.4bn deficit in 2018-2019, surplus of £10bn in 2019-2020. Keep an eye on that.
Quotes from Conservative members:
“There’s a pretty difficult question that we have to answer which is essentially: are we going to be a country that is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard?” – Jeremy Hunt. (These two nations not only have some of the worst working conditions among advanced nations, but the lowest productivity too)
When describing pension cuts:
“The first of which will sound a little bit morbid – some of the people… won’t be around to vote against you in the next election. So that’s just a practical point, and the other point is they might have forgotten by then. If you did it now, chances are that in 2020 someone who has had their winter fuel cut might be thinking, ‘Oh I can’t remember, was it this government or was it the last one? I’m not quite sure. So on a purely practical basis I would say do it immediately. That might be one of those things I regret saying in later life but that would be my practical advice to the government.” – Alex Wild, during a fringe meeting at a Conservative Party conference
“People who are poorer should be prepared to take the biggest risks; they’ve got the least to lose” – David Freud, Conservative politician
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’” – David Cameron
“It is also a paradox, isn’t it, that we have this issue with food banks at a time when obesity is one of the biggest threats to the future.
It is a strange situation around the world that we have both a problem with obesity and an issue with nutrition as well.” – Lord Prior of Brampton, Conservative minister
It is difficult to analyse Corbyn’s policies as they are not concrete yet due to ongoing discussions within the Labour party (i.e. democracy).
Notable economists, such as Stiglitz and Piketty, appointed on Corbyn’s economic advisory panel
Economists back Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies
Studebaker: Corbyn’s economic plan is not crazy
People’s Quantitative Easing (PQE)
PQE is sound economics, but is not in the QE family
Paul Mason: PQE is not crazy (video)
Positive Money: Failure of QE to banks, explanation of how PQE works (video) – In this video PQE is referred to as ‘Sovereign money’
Fullfact: Britain’s privatised rail is 40% too expensive
These two studies are consistent with Bertrand’s quote:
YouGov: It’s right-wingers, not lefties, that think they’re morally superior
Study: Left wingers more intelligent than right wingers
“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”
– Bertrand Russell
What did people in the wars die for? To save the lives of people of their country. Jeremy wants to negotiate peaceful solutions to conflicts, and help people who are on the verge of suicide/starvation preventing more people from dying in the future. He fulfills their wishes more than anyone who superficially sings a song. That is true respect for Britain and its past.
I have only really started paying attention to politics once the Conservatives came into power, so I am not aware of many of the things New Labour did. However given that their economic policies are the same as the conservatives – just slightly less intense – it is doubtful that they were significantly better.
I personally find it very difficult to tell the difference between UKIP and the conservatives except on a few points:
- Instead of blaming the poor (via benefits) like the Conservatives, UKIP blames immigrants (via benefits and an imaginary strain on public services which is far more due to cuts than more people)
- UKIP is genuinely nationalistic, whereas the Conservatives seem to just try to pretend they are nationalistic
- UKIP MEPs have shown an admirable opposition to TTIP, whereas the Conservatives want to put ‘rocket boosters’ on it
- UKIP opposes the idea of the EU, whereas the Conservatives are split on the issue
The EU is rather complicated.
“I do not take my mandate from the European people.” – Cecilia Malmström, EU Trade Commissioner (oversees TTIP)
British referendum on EU membership
It may be worth noting that if the vote goes in favour of leaving the EU, the Conservatives will be in the position to re-write all the laws that were currently upheld by being part of the EU. While you may not trust the EU, are the Conservatives more or less trustworthy than the EU? In addition, it is possible that TTIP may be legislated to only apply to countries within the EU, so if TTIP passed then we could later leave the EU to get rid of it. If we leave in the referendum however, the Conservatives will most likely seek a trade agreement with the US independently and then we will be screwed. If a new government is elected in 2020 (very likely due to incoming recession/depression), it is possible that the Conservatives would not have enough time to come up with a new trade deal in time. It is unknown whether this is a possible route to take as TTIP legislation is a tightly guarded secret.
The situation in Greece is an important point in the history of the Eurozone. Generally, such as in the US, a monetary union (using the same currency [Euro]), capital markets union and fiscal union (implementation of a treasury to distribution funds as necessary) are implemented simultaneously. However the Eurozone only consists of a monetary union, meaning that the members lose the benefits of having control over their currency making them far more susceptible to shocks such as the mother-load of all shocks, the Great Recession.
Many influential economists (Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Thomas Piketty, Steve Keen etc) and bodies such as the IMF have all said that Greece desperately needs debt relief and the current programme of austerity is just not working, yet the German ECB persists (Germany essentially controls the Eurozone as it has the most prosperous economy, the ECB is in Germany). Most people suspect it is because Germany wants to set an example to other Eurozone countries to discourage them from wanting debt relief upon their own debts.
Greece had a choice to either leave the Eurozone and re-establish its old currency, or do bow down before the demands of the Troika; both of which would result in quite horrible times for the Greek people. Its population voted in a referendum saying no to austerity, but unfortunately the prime minister (Tsipras) struck a deal with Germany anyway, establishing more austerity and loans that will not be able to be repaid and most of which goes directly to bailing out the private banks.
It makes you wonder why the UK is applying such a harsh austerity programme (still nothing compared to Greece’s though) even though our economy is in a much better state.
Keiser Report: Keen on austerity, debt and Greece
Why don’t we have a universal currency?
Krugman: Effects of currency union
The burden of risk of default is not just on the debtors, but also the lenders
Even the IMF calls for Greek debt relief
Greece being used to set an example to other EU countries by Germany
Thomas Piketty: Germany has never repaid its debts. It has no right to lecture Greece
90% of Greece’s IMF loan went directly to bail out Private Banks
Who’s population is ‘lazier’, Germany or Greece?
Jeffrey Sachs: Death by debt, and similarities between the rise of Hitler and situation in Greece
German company wins privatisation bid for 14 Greek regional airports
Weimar Greece – The Effects Of A Currency Collapse