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View Diary: Some lessons for the left in the US ... London's March 26th anti-cuts demo (104 comments)

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  •  Both wealth and income disparities (0+ / 0-)

    increased under New Labour.

    The gini coefficient increased, it did not reverse at least according to all the data I have seen. Can I see a link? Tax credits certainly helped the middle class, but they were ineffectual for a lot of the lower bands. So a 50% band to hit those earning over £125,000 hits bands 7-10. However, taxes should not be paid for those earning below a certain level and the level was actually below the poverty level in the UK (that is something that should have been addressed). More bands, more progressive taxation. New Labour actually did far more for the middle income bands rather than for the lower bands and what the gini coefficient examines is the highest relative to the lowest. I have not seen evidence of a massive increase in income for the lower bands.

    Moreover, the greatest problem in the UK is wealth rather than income inequality. But the biggest problem is wealth concentration which also takes into account private pensions and housing values; while housing prices increased across the board, those of the wealthiest increased far more. Those of the middle class that were forced to private pensions lost big  while the wealthiest were essentially protected; tax loopholes, tax avoidance and tax evasion by the wealthiest remained untouched. A financial transactions tax could have been passed which would have funded the social welfare state. While Brown moved towards this at the end, he never implemented it even with much of the EU on board.

    There is no doubt that the ConDem budget will undermine all the effort that New Labour achieved for bands 4-7 and even more will undercut the lowest bands gains. But, lets not get too carried away with the accomplishments of New Labour.

    History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 08:28:58 AM PDT

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    •  There are many sources for income inequality (1+ / 0-)
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      NY brit expat

      Though I can't find the graph which showed it from 1945-2010 (which was in the Guardian)

      Here are a few more

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/...

      http://www.statistics.gov.uk/...

      http://www.poverty.org.uk/...

      Basically the gini coefficient rose massively from the 80s to the 90s - from 25% to 33% - after that it remained stable, only diverging a few percentage points. If you take the moment of the 2010 election, it was up by 1 percent since 1997. So you're technically right (overlooking the credit crunch etc) that it did rise slightly under Labour. But nothing like the massive increase under Thatcher.

      Given those facts it's fairer to say, as I said, that new Labour did nothing to reverse the gini coefficient - however it did not increase it significantly, and it 2008 is the metric (according to the OECD) it had begun to decline.

      I think this is important. New Labour, like Clinton, was badly in hock to the Reagan Thatcher regulated model. But it's an important moral and political distinction, one too often omitted in discussions on DKOS, that not rectifying income inequality is somehow the same as increasing it.

      The IFS said that the many measures from tax credits to child support did actually help to reduce poverty

      http://www.ifs.org.uk/...

      As for wealth distribution, the same model applies. The massive transfer of wealth happened under Thatcher Reagan: the modest increase in middle class wealth was wiped out by the credit crunch and the collapse of house prices.

      I think we both agree what the source of the problem was, and how Blair, Brown and Clinton did little to fundamentally alter the system. But they didn't devise it, and tried some semi effectual forms of remedy.

      The real culprit here is Reagonomics/Thatcherism, deregulation, reduction of progressive taxation and the privatisation of so many assets. At least under its new leadership Labour is beginning to recognise this.

      I am not at all starry eyed about the accomplishments of New Labour. I'm deeply disappointed. But I do object to the right wing framing that they are somehow 'just as bad as the tories'. I hear this constantly about dems and republicans too.

      There is a distinction between bad and terrible. It's not only a moral distinction, but also economically and socially measurable. Muddying those distinctions only serves, I believe, the long term interests of the right who are the only people who benefit from complete cynicism.

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin

      by Brit on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 03:42:30 PM PDT

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      •  tax credits are useful only if you pay (1+ / 0-)
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        Brit

        taxes, so that will not affect the lowest deciles, but are important for 3rd-5th deciles. certainly child support does help, but I still believe that the french have done better on this. It would be far better to put a floor above the poverty level for taxation to begin rather than tax credits to help the poorest.

        History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 07:24:08 AM PDT

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      •  dang I lost a long post which of course I hadn't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frandor55, PhilJD, In her own Voice

        saved. I am trying to reproduce it below ...

        Certainly they are better than the Tories; the problem is that they were not socialists anymore, they had abandoned that first for keynesian liberalism and then for neoliberalism. This held not only for economic policies but went through the whole of their analysis including education. Even when it became evident that privatisation reduced (and even destroyed) services, they did not abandon it and articulated the absurd public-private partnerships in which long-term investments were undertaken by the state and the private sector reaped the benefits and took the most profitable parts (and then did nothing).  I still do not understand the logic behind the post-office privatisation and of course while they backed off, the ConDems are proceeding ahead with it.

        In education, the foundation academies allowed the private sector and religious groups to take control over failing state schools in poor areas. At the university level, choices for working class students were strongly affected by the introduction of loans and tuition fees; that led to the collapse of humanities and social sciences in uni that catered to these students as they pursued degrees in which they could find work rather than knowledge. I remember the discussions about equality, which they were on the verge of abandoning by the end of their time in office in favour of equality of opportunity.

        The hubris that they thought they had defeated boom and bust and went right to neoliberal economic policies has led to the strong impact of the recession on the UK.

        History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 07:35:26 AM PDT

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        •  God I hate that when it happens... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NY brit expat

          ...but try the firefox or chrome add on called Lazarus. It saves your comments in forms automatically

          I've not much to add to your critique. My problem is with the solution. When you say Labour ceased being socialist, do you mean 'state socialism' as in the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy. If so, that did not pan out particularly well.

          "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin

          by Brit on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 12:20:20 PM PDT

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          •  the labour was a socialist party, it was (5+ / 0-)

            (and think it still is) a member of the second international. They were not liberals, they were part of a tradition of socialist parties throughout europe which still exists formally (think of socialist parties in Spain, Italy, PASOK in Greece, France's socialist party, et al); there is a socialist party in the US as well (they may be calling themselves democratic socialists in the US these days as opposed to social democratic). These are reformist socialist parties which chose that route following the split that caused the end of the second international.

            Lazarus, ok, thanks I'll look for it.  Damn, my problem is with the connection which is really unstable today for some reason and it dropped in the middle of trying to publish something ... argh! MY original comment, of course, was much better ... sorry.

            History always repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 01:06:49 PM PDT

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            •  Yes it is a member of the second international (2+ / 0-)
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              In her own Voice, NY brit expat

              And of course, as a member since the 80s, I know its long history. Part of the problem, as Orwell saw it, is that Labour was captured by the union movement and a kind of workerism expressed in free collective bargaining, and the corporatism of the European system (as you know that kind of corporatism is something very different than the US version). Initially, I disliked the Labour party's willingness to do business with capitalism and emulate it this way.

              Having lived under social democracy, and going every other week as I do to Eastern or Central Europe who experience 'actually existing socialism'. I still think the main problem is the state's monopoly power. In a mixed economy at least you get competition between different systems, and a democratic choice between different kinds of hierarchy. Though there's no pure version of either, my experience of the extremes of laissez faire and state control are almost equally as bad.

              I'd like to begin to move socialism back to some of its Pre Marx roots,  and think of other less top down forms of organisation than the state. The co-operative movement both here and abroad provides one model - so do self help credit groups, mutualised savings and loans etc.

              "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin

              by Brit on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 02:16:08 PM PDT

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