Category Archives: Politics

Slashing spending and cutting benefits inhuman, David Cameron

Source of quote:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/apr/18/davidcameron.politicalcolumnistsThanks Aaron JamesUnfortunately this isn’t todays news story. David Cameron said this back in 2002 in an article piece for the Guardian news paper.

See for yourself:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/apr/18/davidcameron.politicalcolumnists

After the recession of 1989 to 1992 we had to raise taxes because the budget deficit reached dangerous proportions. The alternative of slashing spending and cutting benefits would have been inhuman.

As the image says, he is damned by is own words.

Also see:

  1. The Deficit Myth  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/
  2. Government Debt and Deficits in Charts

  3. Counter the austerity myths
  4. Debt ratios http://notthetreasuryview.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/debating-debt-ratios-with-michael.html from , Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Previously, Chief Economist at the UK Cabinet Office. Regular commentator on UK macro and microeconomic policy. (The exchange he mentions in his blog entry here is pretty damning for the politician involved and shows the dirty tactics they are employing to validate their aims to remove the state.)

First response to today’s “fall in unemployment” figures

Don’t get too excited about the fall in unemployment. It is up by only 0.01%, which is statistically insignificant within the margin of error.

Also, note: Those who are engaged in the so called WorkFare work programmes are counted as being employed, although they only receive between £53 and £70 for a 40 hour week (short term) and are unpaid by the employers.

It also fails to show that part-time work and zero hour contracts have increased.

This graph from the ONS website shows the rise in part time work and economic inactivity.

Changes in number of people in the labour market between September to November 2007 and September to November 2012, seasonally adjusted.

Source: Labour Force Survey – Office for National Statistics

It’s all in the figures and footnotes:

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/january-2013/index.html

 

Think-Tank urges government to “de-nationalise the roads”

DfT plan to raise direct revenue from roads is bad enough but libertarian think-tank urges Gov’t to motorise roads even further. A ‘free market roads’ report has been published by the Institute of Economic Affairs and is co-written by Dr Richard Wellings, the IEA’s Head of Transport).

He said, “Denationalising the network would ensure British motorists had better roads to drive on.” He has also said cyclists are “low-value”, don’t pay for roads and “delay traffic” and calls them “road tax dodgers”.

He claims that cyclists should only be allowed on bike paths only as, “roads are for motor vehicles. Maybe cyclists should pay to use cycle lanes – can’t see why taxpayers should be forced to subsidise them.” He seems to forget that roads are paid for by everybody out off all general taxation.

“A free market [in roads] would mean ending the state control and ownership of roads.

“Decisions regarding the deployment of speed cameras would be the responsibility of private road owners. These individuals would have to consider customer preferences for both speed and safety. Thus private road owners would probably focus on the wants of motorists rather than the demands of the road safety lobby. There [would be] no necessary role for government in the provision of speed limits or to ensure that motorists are registered, insured and trained.”

In the current report Dr Wellings said road privatisation would be opposed by many but that, “voter-taxpayers will appreciate lower taxes, whereas voter-drivers will appreciate shorter commuting or journey times and lower-cost fuel. It’s likely that rights of way for pedestrians, bicycles and horses would be preserved without charge, even though they would impose costs on road owners and motorists.”

The de-nationalisation of roads would be a reversal of 110 years of national stewardship.

In 1903, the Roads Improvements Association – an organisation created in 1886 by CTC and the forerunner to British Cycling – successfully lobbied the Government of the day to, in effect, nationalise the roads of Great Britain. Prior to this, roads were the responsibility of hundreds of local authorities, with an appalling disparity in quality of road upkeep from parish to parish, region to region.

The creation of a central highway authority was brought about thanks to the dogged insistence of a cycling official, Williams Rees Jeffreys. In 1900 he was elected a member of the Council of the Cyclists’ Touring Club and by 1901 was CTC’s representative on the Council of the Roads Improvement Association. He wanted the RIA to push for a “a Central Highway Authority and a State grant for highway purposes.”

In the 1940s, British Prime Minister Lloyd George said William Rees Jeffreys was “the greatest authority on roads in the United Kingdom and one of the greatest in the whole world.” Rees Jeffreys became the first secretary of the Roads Board, founded in 1910. This was the first central authority for roads in Great Britain since the Romans. The Roads Board later became part of the newly-formed Ministry of Transport, which has now become the Department for Transport.

Recommended reading:

Will too much localism lead to a return to “foundrous highways”? – http://www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com/will-too-much-localism-lead-to-a-return-to-foundrous-highways/

Nationalise the m6 Toll Road, says West Midlands Transport Chief – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/nationalise-the-m6-toll-road-says-218397

How much of your income tax is spent on unemployment?

Correction: The multiplier is actually 0.375 not 0.851.*

I don’t want even more of my hard-earned money taken in tax and spent on the unemployed or work-shy. My wages aren’t a bottomless pit for the unemployed. That’s MY MONEY they’re spending.

We’ve all heard things like this being said, maybe we’ve even said something similar ourselves. So just how much of your income tax is spent on unemployment?

I set out to work out the answer.

Government Revenue, Expenditure & Borrowing

In 2012, the total revenue from all forms of taxation and incomes was £591 bn.
(Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Of this, taxation from personal income is shown in the table:

Revenue
Source
Amount
£ bn
% of total
revenue 
Income Tax 154.8 25.2
National Insurance 105.6 17.9
Total 260.4 43.1

Total government expenditure for 2012 was £695 bn.
The government borrowing  for 2012 was £103.5 bn.

Borrowing makes up 14.9% of all expenditure, leaving 85.1% of government spending coming from revenue. 37.5% of total expenditure by government is made up of revenue from personal income taxation, which means the remaining income from other revenue is 47.6%

* This produces the personal tax multiplier p of 0.375

p=(\frac{37.5}{100})

Spending on ‘unemployment’ (which includes all costs associated with unemployment) for 2012 was £8.4 bn. This is 1.2% of all expenditure.

Adjusting for spending from only personal taxation income, just 0.45% from direct tax goes on unemployment.

How much of your income tax is spent on unemployment?

I will use the average salary for this calculation. In 2012, the average salary or income for working was £26,000 per annum.

Taxable Income £17,895
Tax £3,578
National Insurance £2,208.96
Total Tax Paid £5786.96

So if 1% of the tax you pay goes on unemployment, that means that £26.04 of the average personal income tax paid to the government is spent on unemployment.

Or to put it another way: you spend 7p a day on unemployment.

Considering anyone of us could be made unemployed at any time for any reason, 7p a day for unemployment ‘insurance’ seems a very reasonable cost to pay.

In fact, one of the commenter below makes a very good point about how this also insures us against social unrest too.

Update: The Formula

I thought I would include the formula used in working out the final figures.

x=(\frac{t}{100})(sp)

t = total personal tax
s = percentage of government spending
p = government spending proportion from tax revenue multiplier = 0.375
x = tax paid that goes towards s

So, if one third of government spending is spend on all welfare,  I calculate that this is £716.13 for a person on £26,000, or £1.96 per day.

1625.15=(\frac{5786.96}{100})\times(33\times0.375)

The rise of an out-dated healthcare model in Government decision making

UPDATE: 25/12/2012

Nassir Ghaemi has replied to my email saying that he will take some time to explore these links and then pass on some thoughts. He added:

“My initial impression is that this is quite an unwarranted vulgarization [sic.] of  an already out of date and oversimplified medical theory.”

ORIGINAL POST:

I came across an editorial by Nassir Ghaemi MD MPH for BJPsych, “The rise and fall of the biopsychosocial model”, and read with great interest. [“The biopsychosocial model was valuable in its day as a reaction to biomedical reductionism, but its historical role has played out.”]

Let me try to give the background and explain my interest in the Biopsychosocial model, and why I contacted Nassir for his expert opinion on these matters. (This is an edited version of the email I sent him.)

I have been suffering with quite sever ME/CFS, together with fibromyalgia and depression, since 2005. Although it stopped my teaching career back then, it hasn’t stopped my determination to carry on living and learning.

There has been a long running saga in the UK over welfare reform, ‘work capability assessments’, the company ATOS, and welfare to work schemes. My research has turned up some interesting developments and evidence in these areas over the last 10-20 years.

Let me introduce you to the controversy surrounding the US Tennessee-based insurance company Unum, who are advocates of the Biopsychosocial (BPS) model. Due to a major class action, It admitted unfair business practices, investigations, and fines, and was called an “Outlaw Company” by the former California Insurance Commissioner, John Garamendi. [Gosselin, Peter G. (3 October 2005). “State Fines Insurer, Orders Reforms in Disability Cases”. Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 27 December 2009. “‘UnumProvident is an outlaw company. It is a company that for years has operated in an illegal fashion,’ said California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi.“]

Unum has been advising the UK government since 1994, and has been involved with the UK’s Welfare to Work Bill. [ http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=2940 ] In 2003, the government brought in Atos Origin to conduct incapacity assessments, and in 2005 they started using a computer system they call ‘LiMA’ – ‘Logic Integrated Medical Assessment’. The Full Facts website [ http://thefullfacts.com/esa/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=330 ] lucidly explains how the system works, and the issues and controversy surrounding it. It is in essence a ‘tick box’ automated assessment, and having seen the training manuals and comments from many surrounding this ‘training’, can attest to the computer programme being predominantly involved in the decision making, reducing the role of the health care professional doing the assessment merely to the status of ‘computer operator’. There is evidence that the system is fully based around the BPS model. The Black Triangle Disability Campaign have been at the forefront of the struggle against Atos and successfully lobbied  Scottish GPs  to denounce the testing regime, a move soon followed by the UK wide BMA.

The BPS model was recommended by Dame Carol Black in her report ‘Working for a Healthier Tomorrow’ (2008). [ http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/hwwb-working-for-a-healthier-tomorrow.pdf ] This report was commissioned by the DWP and used as justification for the Work Capability Assessment.  Lord Freud, the minister for state in charge of welfare to reform (who is also the Great-grandson of Sigmund Freud) made it plain that he wanted to implement this report in full, and that he fully supports the BPS model.

However, with Unum’s involvement as advisors to the government in these matters, it has concerned many that the BPS model has achieved such traction in government policy with regard to all illness, conditions and disabilities. ‘Disabled People Against Cuts’ are among many groups that believe that BPS intervention has been imported from a discredited background and become the defacto ideology behind the welfare reforms and back to work policies for disable and sick people. [ http://www.dpac.uk.net/tag/bio-psychosocial-model/ ] This constantly reaffirmed by ministers and government with a completely unqualified mantra of “work is good for you”.

With regards to my condition, I have been positively diagnosed twice by a consultant  in neurology and by a consultant in rheumatology, both saying very similar things about my condition. However, currently, the government allows psychiatrists to give the majority of advice for ME/CFS although there are more than 5000 research papers showing ME to be physical, not psychological. Advice on ME needs to be given by experts specialising in areas of the disease pathology, such as neurology and immunology.This is the subject of a petition to the government currently, calling for the government to get “Advice on ME needs to be given by experts specialising in areas of the disease pathology, such as neurology and immunology… [and not from] psychiatrists, psychologists, or anyone working in an unrelated area” [ http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37117 ].

Are we right to be worried by the prevalence of the BPS model at the heart of government decision making, what are the true motivations behind these decisions, and ultimately is the BPS model is of any value whatsoever?