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Home / Tim Worstall /We’re afraid we just don’t trust the Fabian Society

We’re afraid we just don’t trust the Fabian Society

Summary:
That the Fabian Society is always going to insist that Tories bad and spending more - much, much more - of other peoples’ money good is just obvious. To have a report that says that not spending more - much, much, more - of other peoples’ money is going to cause civilisation to collapse in a heap is thus just part for the course. We can argue against such claims, of course we all can. That special measures introduced for the pandemic get un-introduced at the end of it seems sensible to us, just as the one example. That the special welfare provisions put in place end seems to us no more remarkable than that the pubs are allowed to - eventually - reopen. Special times do indeed lead to special measures and normality is accompanied by the reversal of them.This is not the Fabian way:

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That the Fabian Society is always going to insist that Tories bad and spending more - much, much more - of other peoples’ money good is just obvious. To have a report that says that not spending more - much, much, more - of other peoples’ money is going to cause civilisation to collapse in a heap is thus just part for the course.

We can argue against such claims, of course we all can. That special measures introduced for the pandemic get un-introduced at the end of it seems sensible to us, just as the one example. That the special welfare provisions put in place end seems to us no more remarkable than that the pubs are allowed to - eventually - reopen. Special times do indeed lead to special measures and normality is accompanied by the reversal of them.

This is not the Fabian way:

Government failure to maintain the £20 a week Covid top-up payment for universal credit will overwhelmingly hit the incomes of working and disabled people, and put more than 700,000 into poverty, according to a study by the Fabian Society.

That Fabian way being that any increase in spending must become permanent because more spending of other peoples’ money is good, d’ye see?

The thing is we just don’t trust them. From their actual report:

Poverty is measured as 60 percent of median contemporary income, after adjusting for housing costs and size of family. Note this is a different measure than we used in our previous report Double Trouble (for that study we used a fixed-line measure of poverty rather than a poverty line based on changes in median income, to avoid the perverse situation where rising unemployment leads to a fall in the cash value of the poverty line).

The reason we don’t trust them? They change their definition of poverty according to what best suits the insistence that more must be spent. Always.

When it is convenient, as in this report, to use a measure of relative poverty to argue for more tax and spend then they do that. When a relative measure would lead to less tax and spend - this being their complaining above about perversity, that when median incomes fall this means that fewer are in relative poverty, or that the relative poverty line falls - then they switch to an absolute measure of income.

This is intellectual casuistry and no, we shouldn’t trust people who do this. Humpty Dumpty is meant to be a joke in a children’s book, not a blueprint for the design of national policy. Sadly, so too is the Queen of Hearts and her efficient manner of dealing with such behaviour only a joke.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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