Nothing but inertia – The low wage economy

Peter Hitchens questions the so-called ‘recovery.’ Well done that man: “Newspaper coverage of the economy has now become so party political that it’s  very hard to know what to believe. Tory-supporting media claim that we are marching into sunlit uplands of prosperity. Labour supporters say nothing of the kind is happening. I am suspicious of good news at all times, and tend to think the Labour supporters are more likely to be right, not because I like them, but because they have no reason to delude themselves. And, as all readers here know, the most dangerous con-men and con-women we ever meet are ourselves.

I gaze open-mouthed at the praise some of my fellow-scribblers give to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (what is his name? I can never remember it), as the United Kingdom’s unpayably vast national debt climbs rapidly towards the Moon, and increases by about £2,000,000,000 a week. At this rate it won’t be long before it reaches 90% of Gross Domestic Product (it’s now around 75%). It has been higher, mainly as a result of the two enormous wars we fought in the middle of the 20th century, but we had been getting it back under control until the Blair-Brown splurge, in which we still wallow and flounder, because nobody has any idea how to climb out of it.  But what about the lives of the people, employment, income and standards of living.

I was very struck by the low-temperature, calm demolition of the idea of recovery in the ‘Guardian’ of Monday, 3rd February, in an article by Phillip Inman  which you can read here. http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/feb/02/living-standards-of-british-workers-analysis

Once again, it demonstrates Hitchens’s Law, that ‘All Politically Significant Statistics Are Fiddled’.

It suggests that actual manufacturing jobs are down; that many new jobs counted as ‘private sector’ are in fact contractors , employing low-skilled workers on behalf of the public sector. And it argues that a huge increase in self-employment, which is often left out of figures on wage levels,  is frequently a tale of woe and uncertainty, not a sign of a new spirit of enterprise.

We are turning into a low-wage economy, in which most people will never rise above insecure, poorly-paid, short-term jobs. I hate to think how much worse this will be after a period of hefty inflation, which I don’t think we can avoid in the next few years.

I continue to think of a visit I made some years ago in Canton, where I saw boys who in Britain would have been at school, trudging through a market carrying heavy burdens for tiny wages; of the clothes and backpack sweatshops I visited in which workers toiled for 18 hours for money nobody in today’s Britain would have accepted as a tip, and the bleak factories in which the workforce laboured beneath large signs proclaiming ‘WORK HARD TODAY, OR YOU WILL BE LOOKING HARD FOR A NEW JOB TOMORROW!’.

This was in my time, and yours, on our planet, happening to people no different from us, except that they were born in Canton. What was there now, I thought to myself, to prevent such things coming to Britain again? What trade barrier? What frontier? What vast reserve of gold and accumulated wealth? What educational advantage?

The answer is, nothing but inertia and the fact that we have grown used to what we have, and for some reason expect it to continue, because it is so.” (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/02/mr-whatsisnames-boom-is-it-real-.html)

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