21 April 2013

13 Reasons Why Thatcher Did Not Incentivise Work Or Help The Skilled Working Class.

This I think is the key claim of those who support Thatcherism. That skilled workers who put in long hours (social class C2) do better with a deregulated, privatised, deunionised Thatcherite Britain than they would with a more equal socialised economy/society.

There are a number of reasons why this claim is false; here is my list.

1. Under Thatcherism more money was/is made from speculative profit than from hard work.

Only those skilled workers who poured their earnings into property & shares did well & a lot had to take on unrealistic debt. Only those already with large wealth could make a killing.

It was the speculative profit that was the real gain. And even then large parts of this might have gone in debt repayment as interest rates were high under Thatcher. And the risk of default & repossession from a boom.& bust economy & precarious insecure employment that go with that were real.

2. Any gains were short term.

Only one generation could benefit from higher house prices & quick profits from state sell offs and only at the expense of future generations. Plus the gains were very unevenly distributed. Those with large inherited wealth benefited most without having to do even a day's work.

3. Large geographic differences.

Born north of Watford? Then things were a lot harder to jump on the speculative bonanza being had down south.

4. Privatised monopolies have led to higher prices for basic essentials.

Gas, electric, water & public transport have all seen disproportionate increases in prices. Profits now go abroad ironically to foreign governments who now own our utilities.

The burden of paying for these monopoly services has moved from the taxpayer to consumers with profits now syphoned off abroad rather than re-invested in long term infrastructure.

Private companies (or in this case foreign governments) have no incentive to invest for the long term and every incentive to take short term profits for fear of future re-nationalisation. So worse service & higher costs. Same is now happening to healthcare

5. Every pound made from debt is a pound taken from the real productive economy.

Those with money to lend tend not to spend it all. In long run debts have to be paid back with considerable interest. This obviously removes demand from economy. Especially if lenders are based abroad.

6. A lot of wealth & profit went abroad.

Nearly all privatised industries are now majority owned by overseas companies/governments.

7. 'In work' welfare was cut back making work less worthwhile.

Reduce incomes of low paid "entry" level jobs and people make rational decision that financial incentive is not enough. Difficult to get people off welfare once this mindset is ingrained over long period.

Less healthcare provision & poorer quality state education, cutbacks in tax credits & other universal benefits. These all make work relatively less attractive. As do rocketing costs of housing & other basics ( see point 4).

8. De-unionisation lowered wages for all, including self employed tradesmen.

Increased downward pressure on wages of skilled workers. Best demonstrated by building workers strike. All builders got pay rise from this.

9. Lowered 'out of work' welfare, meant people had to work for less.

Higher welfare benefits mean higher wages have to be paid. The minimum wage has shown that this does not necessarily mean less jobs available. A lot of jobs have wages below their true value & most jobs here cannot easily be moved abroad. e.g. Care workers, builders etc. Besides, we can never set wages lower than developing countries, so any jobs that can be moved, already have been.

10. Skilled working class were more affected by crime, disorder & environmental degradation.

The bankers making tens of millions speculating up food prices causing hardship for billions just fled abroad when they could to escape the social chaos their financial rape of their home country had caused. Mere 'plebs' cannot do this.

11. Regressive taxation.

Moving the burden of taxation onto indirect taxes & council tax hit 90% of workers who are not in top tax bracket.

12. Skilled workers who worked hard in socially useful but what Thatcher deemed were economically unproductive trades/professions were deincentivised with lower pay.

13. Longer hours & more stressed lives.

At the end of the day, surplus possessions mean little if your whole quality of life has deteriorated. Living in a more unequal society has destroyed community & led to isolated lives with higher social problems - crime, drugs, obesity teenage pregnancies. See the Spirit Level book for more about the damage Thatcher did.

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