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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
5 months ago

Filling the gap with immigration, which is only a stopgap, will become more difficult as zero-sum thinking makes the society less and less accepting of mass migration
Immigration adds another “zero-sum” axis, that of the immigrants vs. the indigenous population. But while Pilkington assumes this axis will be tilted towards the indigenous, it may very well be tilted against them: just as the young may resent, sometimes intensely, their hard-earned dollars going to support what they regard as the parasitic elderly, so too may immigrants come to resent, at times likewise intensely, their hard-earned dollars going to support what they regard as the parasitic indigenous. So, by all means: let’s continue to assume the solution to an ageing white population is to import a youthful non-white population, because I’m certain absolutely no problems will arise from that.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago

Here in the US, most private sector old people don’t get pensions. We save for our retirement and thus are “parasitic” to no one. I’m 65, husband is 67, both of us are still working full-time and will likely never retire (most artists like us work right up to their last breath). The parasites are federal employees paid by the taxpayer, given health premium benefit packages, bonuses and perks, and they retire young to full pensions while going into another government job to scoop up more. It’s called double-dipping and it’s common in the parasite, er, public sector.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

The answer to the conundrum the author sets out is a return to traditional families pooling their assets. If you think of all assets as belonging to the family, it is hard to conceive of an intergenerational rift.

I just requires a change from the modern, atomised mind-set.

If your grandparents live round the corner they can help you when your own kids are young and in turn you can help them when they become infirm.

In the past the argument might have been that you need to move away from your home town to get a job, that isn’t really the case anymore.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

It may be over the medium term the zero sum nature of growth does push us this way MM, but it’d take some time and the question may be – do we have that time?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

 the zero sum nature of growth

Fatuous – most ‘growth’ nowadays consists of doing more with less.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

For that there needs to be decent local jobs and affordable local housing. Unfortunately we’re seeing employment becoming ever more concentrated in our cities (especially London) whilst making no attempt at creating affordable housing near these places of work

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

On the jobs front, I see the exact opposite BB. Remote working since Covid has led to half the country working from home which has in turn led to an exodus of people from London. On housing, this is where immigration controls need to come in – too much demand always means inflated prices.

A few common sense policies and this problem could be addressed. I am very much in favour of subsidising mortgage payments (or providing council houses) for young families, especially targeted at those with family ties to the area.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Helping young families is very good idea but subsidising mortgages pushes up/props up house prices, if you make this subsidy available to home buyers. we need to be clear this is not in their interests. Activity will recover when house prices adjust to the new conditions. sometimes (and I know this is an archaic idea) we must accept how markets work and hold our nerve as the stand off between buyers and sellers resolves (as it is is doing). Where we can help young families is to “encourage” the banks to slow the transmission of rate rises on existing mortgages, as the Canadians are doing. this is achieved by re-aging the mortgage. it is self correcting because, in the conditions in which you need to do this, wage growth will more than compensate and bring down debt /income ratios far faster than the expectation when the mortgages were first written. this matters far more for the financial health of borrowers and banks than the exact contractual end date. in this sense the squeeze on young families is both disproportionate and utterly needless. squeezing young families when their income has started to grow faster and their disposable income is set to recover even more quickly (because of leverage effects) is like engineering a gaol break the day before you are going to be paroled. it is to kill the very thing that must happen if we are to trade our way out of our debts. PS. I am retired banks analyst!

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

Good point Patrick. I was not aware of the Canadians re-aging existing mortgages. I will look into it. Thanks!

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

will send you a link shortly. kind regards Patrick

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

Ta!

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Agree completely with you on this. Geographic distribution of opportunity has created all manner of unevenness in society.

Splintering of families has a knock on effect of reducing access to child care (remembering my childhood of simple things like school holiday care shared out among the family).

The overheating of economies in cities vs the collapse in rural (but especially coastal towns). On my rare visits to London, I often wonder why there isn’t an exchange of my Northern to Southern pounds. Or I could double or even triple my salary in London, but look at a minimum of a five fold increase in mortgage.

Similarly, house prices in this part of the country are fine, there’s just so few jobs (particularly those for the higher skilled/graduates). The result of the jobmarket is a kind of internal brain drain.

It’s not necessarily that the nation has a lack or jobs or housing (I’m not arguing this can’t be improved) but their distribution is extremely poor. I do not see this changing though, as the funding model is based on a return of investment – spending ÂŁ10B on a Greater London infrastructure project will give higher returns over time than the same spent on Manchester, which in turn would be far superior than if it was spent in Northumberland (or even Cornwall, as the divide is really South East and everywhere else).

Not so long ago, I had the opportunity of transferring to the South East with a good but not enormous pay rise, vs a four to five fold increase in mortgage. It really wasn’t worth it.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

My post seems to have been blinking in and out of existence.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

It’s not just families who can benefit from co-operation. The modern left took a terrible wrong turn when intellectuals convinced themselves that the Russian revolution was the birth of Utopia and the Labour and Co-operative Party quietly abandoned mutualism in favour of ‘democratic centralism’ (ie: authoritarian statism).

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
5 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Mutualism may be our only hope.

David Shepherd
David Shepherd
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

It certainly can save the kids a lot of money if you live closeby. As retired grandparents we childmind the grand children at no cost, so the parents can both work.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago

The main issue with scrapping inheritance taxes is that in a few generations you’ll end up back in the days of the landed gentry. For an increasing number of youngsters the high house prices means they’re reliant on inheritance for a house deposit.
However for those with poor parents/grandparents or those from big families where the inheritance is split many ways then what they get may not be sufficient, so instead they’re stuck renting into retirement. Having then accrued no capital as a result of never being able to buy a home, their children then inherit nothing and so again can’t buy a home and get poorer in relation to those whose wealth simply keeps growing and getting passed down the generations.
Too much of this and you’ll end up with serious societal unrest as a result of huge inequality and those in the lower classes having no way of improving their lot

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Part of me wonders if that will be the case. Another part though also wonders about an possible housing surplus as and when the Boomer generation starts dying off. For us Millennials, that will come too late for us to benefit, but it might give generations like Alpha and perhaps Bravo (assuming that’s what the follow up one is called), a chance to benefit.

Alternatively, future governments may decide net immigration levels of 750k+ per year are great and will wipeout any potential silver lining there.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Unfortunately I think they’ll just keep the Ponzi scheme going by constantly bringing in an ever greater number of new arrivals, each new cohort becoming slightly poorer than the last. The fact the UK’s birth rate has been below replacement level for 50 years, yet in that time the population has increased from around 55 million to over 67 million today implies no government has any interest in solving the issue.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

If it helps, even the Sub-Saharan African countries have dropping fertility rates so eventually even that once seemingly unlimited supply of people will dry up. Everywhere else is below the replacement rate.

E Wyatt
E Wyatt
5 months ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

In the 70s, people talked about a forthcoming housing surplus once the wartime generation died off. That didn’t happen (and they lived a lot longer than expected, too).

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  E Wyatt

The birth rate was still at replacement levels then, so that would never have happened. I believe last year, there were circa 900K people aged 50 in the UK yet only around 600K births. This is now baked into the system. Depopulation is a bigger threat than climate change, not just in the UK but across most of the world.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Many countries do not have inheritance tax, including Australia, and this phenomenon does not occur.

You have no evidence for your assertion.

The super rich don’t pay inheritance tax and land is often inheritance tax free. Only middle classes pay inheritance tax or wealthy people who die young or fail to plan.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

Australia is a much richer country, with higher wages, stronger unions and (outside the main areas of Sydney and Melbourne) still affordable housing, with well paid jobs spread much more evenly throughout the country. They’re also much more stringent when it comes to immigration so as not to put too much downward pressure on wages so it’s still possible to get ahead.
However in New Zealand first time buyers until recent tax changes had become a record low proportion of those buying houses, and homeownership rates are at record low levels despite house building being at its highest levels since the 70’s

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

While real wages did fall 9% from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023, measured from the start of the pandemic/date we left the EU, they have in fact grown.

For comparison, this is real wages growth (wage growth minus inflation) for western European countries Q4 2019 to Q4 2022 (figures from EuroNews):

UK: +1.9%
France: +1.5%
Portugal: +1.3%
Switzerland: -2.2%
Norway: -3.2%
Germany: -3.2%
Spain: -4%
Finland: -5%
Denmark: -5.7%
Belgium: -6.8%
Sweden: -7%
Netherlands: -7.4%
Italy: -7.5%

Commentators seem to forget that we had a massive spike in wage growth between 2020 and 2022 and wages haven’t stopped growing.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

It’s the uneven distribution MM, which is why many do not ‘feel’ what you convey, esp the younger.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Sure gains are never evenly distributed. But my point is really that economists tell stories by the timeframe they select. If you look at 2022 only, inflation-adjusted incomes were down but if you look at the last three years they are up.
Same with the oft repeated statement that taxes are at an all time high. But when you look at an individual’s affairs (tax paid minus benefits received), you see that energy subsidies and Covid furlough payments means that for most tax payers have paid lower tax over the last three years than the three before them.

Stephen Barnard
Stephen Barnard
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I suspect “the younger” feel as they do because that’s what social media and MSM tell them…

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

They like choosing start and end dates to match their narratives.

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
5 months ago

“the greying savers need new places to park their savings”. The Bank of Mum and Dad has no trouble in disposing of the savings of this grey saver.

Last edited 5 months ago by Peter Kwasi-Modo
Nell Clover
Nell Clover
5 months ago

Zero sum thinking is a prerequisite of net zero policy. Net zero demands there is no further growth in material prosperity in the West because it is simply impossible to achieve net zero with rising material consumption.

Take one example: driving. It is government policy to make this more expensive than it needs to be all in the name of net zero. Legislation has made it possible to force the purchase of 3 tonne EVs, to levy parking fees based on CO2 classifications, to charge tolls for simply driving in your neighbourhood, to permanently block highways. This all makes the “driving pie” smaller, meaning it very much is a fight for resources where your income and where you live now determine whether you get a slice at all.

Another example: energy. There is no plan to significantly expand energy production in the UK. Electricity production is almost stagnant in the face of a huge rise in demand from EVs. The electricity pie is not getting bigger. Marginal pricing, made possible by “smart” meters will control how the pie is divided.

The net zero technocrats are hoping the hidden hand of marginal pricing will avoid the traditional political struggle for resources. There’ll be no one to blame, or so they think.

Last edited 5 months ago by Nell Clover
Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I don’t think the EV future will ever arrive. Sunak has rolled back the end date for the production of new ICEs. So have the Germans and the French. Trump is campaigning against the Democrat’s plans for EV mandates. My hunch is that there will never be any legal compulsion to manufacturers to phase out ICEs. And without it, because EVs are inferior to ICEs, their production will never reach the numbers needed to displace petrol and diesel.
Ditto renewables. As we saw in the recent UK auction, without unsustainable subsidies, most forms of renewable production are not viable. Unless that changes, they will never displace fossil fuels.
In short, decarbonisation will only happen at the rate that technological development allows governments to do so without losing votes.

Last edited 5 months ago by Matt M
Michael Daniele
Michael Daniele
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

My hunch is that there will never be any legal compulsion to manufacturers to phase out ICEs. 
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/04/17/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-new-private-and-public-sector-investments-for-affordable-electric-vehicles/
It doesn’t take legal compunction to ruin an industry. The weight that can be brought to bear by the administration is massive.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago

That is true but obviously there is a scale from no government involvement to legal compulsion. It is the latter that I think will never happen.
Trump has picked EVs and the Biden 50% mandate as one of his targets. I have seen him make two stump speeches on the subject including one at the AWU striking workers rally. I think it is a pretty effective campaigning message.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Ha ha, that old canard. In fact, fossil fuels and nuclear get more govt loot than renewables: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/09/fossil-fuels-more-support-uk-than-renewables-since-2015

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Do you have the link to the original report? I cannot find it.

Colin McC
Colin McC
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Something in the House of Commons Library (research for the Lib Dems)? Anyway I found an OECD stat file with full details; but no total of all categories. So downloaded XL and added summed each column; and for 2015-2021 the total subsidies, tax breaks, rebates etc are ÂŁ13.2bn, ÂŁ10.9bn, ÂŁ11.2bn, ÂŁ11.4bn, ÂŁ11.4bn, ÂŁ9.4bn, ÂŁ10.5bn. (total ÂŁ78bn) https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=FFS_GBR
(I haven’t checked this in detail but I think it’s the gist.)
Looking for details on the renewables subsidies… but it’s worth noting that government includes waste incineration and (notably) Drax as ‘renewables’; Drax being notorious for consuming non-renewable US forests: a trainload every two hours.
The (then, March 2020, Johnson) government said it doesn’t give subsidies to fossil fuels (!!): https://petition.parliament.uk/archived/petitions/263313

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Agree that EVs are not the future – ultimately. But neither are ICEs – where I live driving is a nightmare, not because of government edicts but because there are too many cars. Not sure what the answer is. But I have to say I have sympathy with many of the young who find cars a complete turn off. I fantasize how wonderful my town would be without the main thoroughfare choc-a-block with often stationary cars and their frustrated drivers.

Last edited 5 months ago by Martin Butler
Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

I have a family member who works in transport planning. All their projections predict gridlock on our local roads within the next ten years. We need mass transit but no one is willing to pay for it.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
5 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

I don’t wish to contradict your family member, but in the last 5 years BVM (billion vehicle miles per annum) has fallen. 333bvm in 2017 to 324bvm in 2022. In 2006 it was 310bvm, so barely any increase in 16 years. In that time, distribution has changed and peak time traffic has fallen significantly. Transport planners have been projecting complete gridlock in the next decade for decades yet congestion is unchanged over nearly 2 decades and their projections for BVM have been utterly wrong. There is no evidence of any surge in BVM that will create gridlock in the next decade. Transport planners forecasting the need for more transport planning… hmmm.

Last edited 5 months ago by Nell Clover
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago

We absolutely need some level of immigration in the west. The issue has been mangled because we basically have open borders. Europe and the US are being flooded with refugees, who are breaking the social safety net. Controlled, regulated immigration should benefit everyone.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Your point is obvious, but any endorsement of limited immigration will get down. ticks here.

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Define “limited immigration”.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

In the British context, 100k net immigration has been most commonly stated as the goal as it would put annual population growth in line with the 1973-2003 level. From 2003 we have averaged 400k per year.

We were promised a return to 100k limit in 2015 and 2017 Tory manifestos. (It was also implied in 2019 as “lower immigration”.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Whatever the number crunchers say is good for the economy.

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Again, how many.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

I don’t know. You’re being silly.

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

No I’m not, ever heard the law of diminishing returns?

Andy Moore
Andy Moore
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That’s like sword fighting with a young child, if you move the sword they keep hitting it and forget what the ultimate goal is, to strike the other person.
Immigration is not the only way to increase your population, yes it’s the simplest and quickest approach. You then need to ask, then what, once you believe you have the answer, you ask, then what again.
Our politicians and most certainly the so say experts, never go deeper and ask, then what.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Not from me. We absolutely need immigrants. Good ones.

Albert McGloan
Albert McGloan
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

How about policy changes that make home ownership and family formation a reasonable prospect, instead of going the Roman way of importing a slave class? You write as if “immigration” is a matter for discussion rather than something which has already happened and will make people a despised minority in their own homeland.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
5 months ago
Reply to  Albert McGloan

I didn’t say this at all. I specifically said open borders have been a disaster.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
5 months ago

40% on money that’s already been taxed has always felt too high to me, even though I don’t stand to be hit by it.

No party is talking plans plans for economic growth and it makes me think they don’t have one. All I hear is taxation talk. When money is tight first job is stop wasting it which Sunak and Kemi Badenoch are making sensible noises about recently. The second part I’m waiting for is the plan for stimulating private enterprise en mass. I don’t want to hear anything else about borrowing money for taxpayer funded projects for a decade, thanks.

j watson
j watson
5 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

On your first point SB – the 40% is a tax on those who didn’t earn it and thus have paid no tax on that windfall. Plus it’s no different than when we use our already taxed income to buy goods and then pay VAT too.
Stimulating private enterprise – problematic at the moment as they’d have to borrow more to do so, (i.e unfunded tax cuts). Regulation reductions wouldn’t necessarily help if just generate further blockages to export to Countries with those regs. Withdrawing from the World’s largest Single Market when we want to stimulate growth also not looking the greatest decision.
Essentially we’ve got ourselves ‘stuck’, hence the zero sum debates.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The U.K. still trades effectively with the countries in the (diminishing) EU Single Market. The barriers that the EU put up are also diminishing.

Stuart Bennett
Stuart Bennett
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I voted a very confident remain but I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing people tell me Brexit ruined the economy. If we were markedly worse off than the EU I’d accept it but we aren’t. In fact the most frequent complaint I hear about Brexit is from wealthy retirees complaining it complicates their access to second homes in the south of France which I couldn’t care less about. Poor you. Proper education, training and employment for as many citizens as possible should be front and centre in politics now and I’m not hearing it.

Matt M
Matt M
5 months ago
Reply to  Stuart Bennett

In fact our economy has grown more quickly than the French and German economies since we left the EU.

S D
S D
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

The money was taxed at the point of earnings, so it’s already been taxed.
There’s a continuing theme in these comments that the only way anyone has ever made money in the UK is through the housing market – Do we really believe nobody in the UK saves a penny in their lifetimes?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago
Reply to  S D

I never have. No pension either

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Someone else earned it and exercised their freedom of choice to give it to whomever they choose… only that freedom is limited because the big state helps itself to 40% of it. We only have freedom to choose where 60% of our post-taxed income goes. It is purr greed from the state and it’s why people go to such lengths to avoid it. If the rate was 20%, it’s still egregious, but maybe fewer people would avoid it and the state would get more.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Tax cuts are not unfunded. Spending is unfunded.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
5 months ago

MAID will dramatically expand in coming years and views on euthanasia will soften as “bed blocking” elders are an increasing problem.

E Wyatt
E Wyatt
5 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Good point, though I had to look that acronym up. Medical Assistance In Dying, for anyone else who didn’t recognise it.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago
Reply to  E Wyatt
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago

I thought this was an excellent article, even if I don’t agree with it all. It actually presents the stark realities facing western countries very clearly. My criticism is that the author describes the zero-sum mindset and assumes it must always occur in certain economic conditions – those of low growth.
Even though this isn’t a black and white issue, I can’t see how western countries can regain the high growth rates which he believes are necessary to escape the zero sum mindset. (Hope I have read him right here) Whether you think low growth is good or bad it is going to be a reality in the near and medium term. And in any case, I’m not sure a couple of extra points on GDP will significantly alter the realities of endemic intergenerational unfairness – for example.
So perhaps we need to learn to live with a low economic growth society and change our attitude to it. Certainly those who are against immigration, should be happy with a low growth society since it is the only way immigration can be curbed. If populations aren’t prepared to have babies then immigration is a necessary fuel for a high growth economy. (BTW there is vicious circle here because the young are less likely to have children if they can only rent, and landlords prefer childless couples)
Perhaps I’m idealistic but I would like to think we can move to a mindset which is not endlessly acquisitive and a society where aspiration doesn’t always mean an aspiration to accumulate more money.
That seems to me the only way off the treadmill. The aim should surely be for everyone to have the basics (a secure place to live and and an income that takes you out of poverty) before some get the extras. So this does mean some redistribution between generations and social classes. Once you have the basics then more families are likely to have children. It is surely possible for a society to be at peace with itself without endless high economic growth.

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Maybe I’m idealistic in believing we could have had controlled growth with general rising prosperity (and birth rates) if it hadn’t been for mass (generally low skill) immigration and ridiculously low interest rates. This simply led to the already wealthy accumulating even more assets, which has brought us to where we are now. An aging low wage, low skill, lop sided economy that politicians will find almost impossible to correct.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Think it’s a tad more complicated than you describe. If you believe in a so called ‘free market’ economy immigration is inevitable. UK firms notoriously prefer to bring in labour, whether skilled or unskilled, from abroad, than train/employ home grown talent. Unless you are going to impose regulations on this then it is their free choice. As someone who has been involved in training for years, I know the privatisation and low funding of training has been a disaster for skills in this country.

Last edited 5 months ago by Martin Butler
Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

It was New Labour that decided to increase immigration from c50k pa to 300k pa during their tenure so it’s not surprising that companies decided not to train people or pay them a decent wage.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrew R
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

Yes I agree – that was a bad decision. But more importantly they didn’t try to undo the damage that the Thatcher governments had done to training. The free market zealots argued that it was not the states job to actually train people, which of course is nonsense. (Look at Germany)There is so much fuss about universities but hardly any mention of training which traditionally took place in FE colleges. Those colleges are on their knees.

Last edited 5 months ago by Martin Butler
Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Good point

Peter B
Peter B
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

But up to the end of the 1980s, British industry had many large British companies that invested heavily in training apprentices and graduates. I was a sponsored student in engineering and benefited hugely from this (the British companies of that time weren’t all that great, but the training was).
I’d argue that industry and business has dropped the ball on training far more than government. And that industry can do parts of that training far better than educational institutions.
Perhaps the structure and nature of work has simply changed so much that the older model no longer works. There’s been so much technological change. And skills need updating far more often these days – you need to keep constantly updating.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
5 months ago

I’d be delighted if I could discern any sign of the Conservative Government doing any thinking, zero sum or otherwise.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
5 months ago

I fear for democracy as the demographic decline really starts to kick in. Democracy is like a form of sublimated warfare. All sides call their banners but instead of fighting, those with the lesser number acquiesce and accept the victory of the larger side and the new government.

This has worked well in an era of unprecedented economic growth making each generation wealthier than the last. It mitigated the cost of being on the losing side but what happens when this growth stops, as it virtually has now, and we are reduced to a zero sum game described in the article?

In a demographic decline, there is a sustained gray majority, as each generation is smaller than the last. If economic hardship raises the stakes, will the young look at the ranks opposing them, compromised of those older and less physically strong than they are, and wonder if their interests are better served no longer sublimating conflict through democracy?

P N
P N
5 months ago

We should remember that economic resources (wealth) are not distributed but earned.

Last edited 5 months ago by P N
Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

Earned by you or me and then confiscated to be redistributed in a stunningly inefficient manner

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
5 months ago

“they misunderstand the problem, thinking that the solution is to build more housing”
My first instinct is that if you build enough houses, the problem *will* be solved; demand is only so great, so if supply skyrockets, prices must fall.
But wealth inequality may be so great now that all new houses/flats could be scooped up by landlords. Whenever demand is high enough that a house is worth building at all, we may find someone other than an owner-occupier swooping in to buy it. Or they may get involved at the earliest stages (build-to-rent) so ordinary people don’t even have a chance to bid.
It won’t be your average retiree who will do this. Oldies may be sitting on a lot of wealth, but (as noted) most of it is locked up in property already. Most of them don’t have spare millions to buy up or build flats to rent.
Rather, it’s banks and corporations that seem set to become our feudal overlords.
It’s always puzzled me that banks lend people money to buy houses, rather than just buying the houses directly and renting them. Well, we now see Lloyds moving into the rental business (via Citra Living), and John Lewis and Boots are apparently at it too.
Unlike individual landlords, who may get caught out by economic downturns that cause non-payment of rent (squatting), large banks and corporations can lobby the government to redistribute just enough wealth for the tenants to keep paying. Maybe CBDC UBI will come with exactly these kinds of strings attached (ÂŁ1000 for rent; ÂŁ400 for food; ÂŁ400 for energy; ÂŁ100 for transport).
Some amount of entrepreneurial activity will still be allowed, because there has to be someone to squeeze, but rent seekers will prosper.

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
5 months ago

IHT has nothing to do with demographics. I worked, I earned, I paid tax, I saved. So did my life partner. Being somewhat cautious, I may have overdone the saving bit. What I have I own. I do not have temporary use of it courtesy of the state. I cannot complain about the imposition when it happens, because I will be dead. My children will be penalised for my modest success and through life frugality. IHT is a bad tax, but not quite as bad as the lunatic tax on mobility aka Stamp Duty.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
4 months ago

“Since older people tend not to work, this means that the remaining young people must work to feed and clothe both themselves and the retirees.”

That isn’t necessarily proving true for this generation. In fact, more often than not it’s the boomers who are supporting their progeny, to a much greater extent than the boomers’ own parents ever needed to support them. Far from relying on my daughters to feed and clothe me, my daughters and their families are in houses they couldn’t have afforded to buy without my financial help. I’m happy to supply the help–it’s no burden to me, and a good investment in the happiness and welfare of people I love; but it’s annoying to keep reading what villains boomers must be, simply for having aged out of the workforce the same way their younger critics in turn inevitably will. Most of the boomers I know had to work decades for ‘asset rich’ status and achieved it relatively late in life; they shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the contrast between ‘younger’ and ‘older’ doesn’t describe an ontological difference, just a temporal one, so there’s something artificial about speaking of an economic or any other kind of division between people’s younger and older selves. It makes no sense to privilege the interests of one’s younger self over one’s older self, or vice-versa, when in the end they’re the interests of the same individual. As for comparing generations, every generation is obliged to deal with its own challenges and play the hand history has dealt it; and nothing will ever change that.

[Edited to add:]

P.S.  By the way, financial investment is never a zero-sum game. Without doubt, Bill Gates’ or Elon Musk’s investments return more to them in a day than mine do to me in a year, but I’ve never begrudged them their dividends. Not a dollar of their earnings comes from me: my own investment portfolio still pays me exactly what I’m entitled to receive, year after year, and that’s all I care about. Every other investor is in the same boat: expand your portfolio to match mine–or Musk’s–and you’ll get equivalent returns. More investors doesn’t mean more people competing for the same-sized investment return pie; on the contrary, it means a growing economy.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mark Kennedy
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
5 months ago

We are still letting the generation grow old who built our modern economies, and that includes immigrant grandparents too.
The young should wait their turn and aspire to work and reside abroad other than in overpopulated countries such as the UK, France and Germany.

P N
P N
5 months ago

“Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.” – Milton Friedman
Now that we know the economy is not zero-sum, we can then ask why people, particularly the young and those on the left (as the author suggests), believe that it is zero-sum. For that we only need go back one generation before Friedman:
“If socialists understood economics they wouldn’t be socialists.” – Freidrich Hayek
Simples.
Anyone who uses the term “unfunded tax cuts” exposes themselves as someone who does not understand economics, for it is based on the fallacious belief that tax rates and tax takes always move in the same direction. Because the economy is not zero-sum, a tax cut can lead to economic growth and a larger pie for everyone and, subsequently, higher tax takes.

Last edited 5 months ago by P N
Peter B
Peter B
5 months ago
Reply to  P N

It’s politics itself that encourages the suspicion (sometimes true) that other people (or groups) are somehow getting a free ride at your expense. As true for the right as for the left.
That and also the obsession with “fairness” (or “equity” these days) which centres thinking on relative rather than absolute standards. And enourages zero-sum thinking.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

How does politics encourage this? Politics is just an abstract word to describe how we make collective decisions. I don’t follow how it encourages zero-sum thinking.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

The trouble with your analysis and PNs is that economies operate within societies, and societies need some level of cohesion, they have cultures and norms, and so on. Therefore relative standards are without doubt what matter. In fact absolute standards are pretty meaningless. For example, you don’t need the internet to survive, so having an internet connection is only desirable relative to modern society. If you were a Kalahari bushman you could happily live without the internet. But you try and live any kind of normal life in this society without the internet. You wouldn’t die but you’d certainly struggle – in one sense you wouldn’t be part of the society – which is what happens to some old people. It’s your deeply individualist assumptions that lead you down that path. Societies aren’t just groups of individuals who happen to occupy the same patch of land and just have ‘economic’ interactions with each other.

P N
P N
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

“The trouble with your analysis and PNs is that economies operate within societies, and societies need some level of cohesion, they have cultures and norms, and so on.”

I do not see any relationship between my “analysis” and your comment. Yours is a non-sequitur and neither comment contradicts the other.

“It’s your deeply individualist assumptions that lead you down that path.”

I haven’t made any assumptions.

My comment was specifically about the economy not being a zero-sum phenomenon. That is all. If you want to talk about societies, fine, but don’t make a strawman out of my comment.

Separately, society is made up of individuals, families, small communities around schools, churches, pubs, sports teams etc. There is no need for a confiscatory and collectivist big state in order for there to be a society. Human societies have been around for tens of thousands of years in all manners of political systems.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
5 months ago

“If you think that someone else’s slice of the pie comes at the expense of yours then you will favour both fewer people to take slices and policies that give you more in the first place.”
As a child of the terrorist community in NI, growing up, I always felt avoiding arrest was an achievement of sorts lol. My safety valve was globalisation. Our business trades globally. Our home UK and Ireland markets are not that significant to us. Of course, global trading is on the way out, as the angry and protectionist nationalists reassume centre stage everywhere.  

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago

We’ve been talking about this since the birth rate plummeted. So just about 60 years now. I’m pretty sure governments around the world were hoping for a pandemic reset. But it wasn’t big enough, course in Canada we now allow maid. Big government types will be happy how successful that has been. But, not nearly enough. Unfortunately they are just going to have to tell people who are living longer to work longer. Maybe it’s just that simple.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
5 months ago

Did you perceive how we view our young as ‘assets’?  ‘Pilkington highlights between those with children, who produce the people needed to look after them in their old age; and those without children, who must rely on everyone else.’  Having children in order to look after us in our old age! Is that really an ethically moral reason for having children? Especially when we are introducing them into an overspent environment. Shouldn’t we be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves?  We are exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet by 300%. Learn more about how we might improve our moral perspective with Ubuntu philosophy from this little animation https://poemsforparliament.uk

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
4 months ago

“Having children in order to look after us in our old age! Is that really an ethically moral reason for having children?”
Yes it is.

All the problems you bring up, about supposed over population, are obviously problems which are self fixing.