Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Liberal Democrats and the Politics of Envy

Thanks to Yellow Peril who pots on politicalbetting.com for a link to this article in today's Observer.

Apparently Vince Cable thinks the Goldman Sachs payouts are obscene. Well, lost of things are obscene like for example the cash for peerages affair and child pornography, but high bonuses are not on my list I am afraid.

What is even more of a concern is that Vince Cable is reported to be bleating about second home and share capital gains tax after 10 years. It drops to 10 percent. Presumably he would like to scrap that rule. However there is a reason why it is there, and that is to encourage people to hold on to investments for the long term rather than speculate in the short term. Changing the rule may well lead to a return to more short termism. It does help to think things through.

14 comments:

Mark Senior said...

Interesting Benedict that you describe LibDem views on fairness as the politics of envy . The Conservatives have long been in favour of inequality to the extent that when they were in power they made every effort to give their already wealthy supporters countless opportunities to line their pockets further at the expense of the mass of voters . We can be pretty certain that DC's shiny new image would not stop that happening again if they got back to power .

Benedict White said...

In favour of inequality? What sort fo equality are you in favour of exactly? Equality of earnings? Opportunity? What?

Mark Senior said...

Equality of opportunity Benedict not dependent on getting juicy appointments in privatised industries because you supported the Conservative party .

Benedict White said...

Well, Mark firstly Mark, that has not happened in a while, secondly Goldman Sachs has never been a nationalised industry, and lastly what is wrong in a world where we have equal opportunities with some one making large amounts of cash?

Mark Senior said...

It hasn't happened in a while because wisely the electorate have kept the Conservatives out of government . The problem with a small group of people earning oodles of cash is more complex . If the total increase in GDP is say £ 500 per person and some people get £ 500,000 then clearly many will get less Unchecked it is possible that a small group could award themselves all the increase in GDP earned by everyone in the country .

Benedict White said...

Remind me, Mark, how long have the electorate kept the Liberals out of government?

You talk of people awarding themselves things. It does not quite work like that does it. Companies have to compete and not only that they have to do so in the face of consumer opinion.

Mark Senior said...

The directors of major companies at one time had the long term interests of their companies at heart often having risen through the ranks from relatively humble beginnings . Far too often these days they are on short term highly remunerative contracts if they succeed in meeting targets and lucrative pay offs if they fail . Pretty much a win win situation .
There is nothing in your article or posts that demonstrate that Conservatives will look after other than a small section of the electorate who already abuse their position in society to line their own pockets at the expense of the majority of the population .

Anonymous said...

Mark,

With respect, your argument veers between a lament at inequality and a jab at short-termism in industry.

I too blogged on this news story and my point is that these bonuses were paid by private companies to private individuals as part of a private arrangement. Whether Sachs gives a chap £10 million or simply £10 is (a) none of the government's business and (b) irrelevent to the wider public who will not get any of the £10 million even if the employee doesn't.

Government looking after its friends is a fact of life - not right, but it happens with them all and it will happen with any government of your choosing. Humans aren't whiter than white regardless of Our Dear Leader's assertions that he would be.

Don't let other people's good fortune upset you. It's only money. If you have your health and somebody to love you've got most of what you need. And I'm not being facetious - I mean it.

www.garymonro.squarespace.com

Mark Senior said...

Sorry , I beg to differ . It is IMHO the business of government to do soemthing to redress inequalities that are inherent in a free market economy to ensure that for example the pensioners and disabled share in the fortune of increased GDP of the country as a whole . They can do this in various ways taxation being the obvious example of both companies and individuals who award themselves or are awarded too large a slice of the cake through for example windfall taxes .

Benedict White said...

Forgive me Mark, but I thought you were concerned with equality of opportunity? You have not incedently answered the question about how long the electorate have kept the Liberals out of power.

As for you other point, government taxes people. The more you earn the more you pay. (40% of £1,000,000 is bigger than 40% of £100,000) and then does various things woth it. Picking on people with windfall taxes just means they go elsewhere, and take their money with them.

Mark Senior said...

Sorry Benedict , your suggestion that windfall taxes will make people go elsewhere is a myth . In 1997 GB introduced windfall taxes on privatised utilities - none of them upped and moved abroad and the same applies to individuals whose decision to move abroad would be based on many factors a windfall tax being the least of them .
You say nothing that causes me to doubt that the real desire in you for the return of a Conservative government is simply that you and your cronies can use power to line your own pockets at the expense of the majority of the electorate .
The question you keep on asking re keeping Liberals out of power is irrelevant as for many years they have not been seen by most people as a contender for a majority government .

Gary Monro said...

Mark,

Your comment

You say nothing that causes me to doubt that the real desire in you for the return of a Conservative government is simply that you and your cronies can use power to line your own pockets at the expense of the majority of the electorate .

is one of awesome prejudice.

Whilst I can hardly speak for Benedict I can safely say that I want a Conservative government - I want it very much - but it will make not one iota of difference to my income. I have no cronies - a few friends maybe but no cronies. I am a standard 9 to 5 wage slave who happens to believe centrist government and socialist social engineering is killing not only the country I love but also the people who live in it.

There's nothing greedy or sinister about it.

Benedict White said...

I see. The utilities did not move their power plants over seas on the morning because they were happy? Nothing to do with them being imovable then?

The Liberals have been out of power for so long because the electorate did not want them there for so long. Then look at you past scandels. (Lloyd George or Asquith anyone? Not to mention Thorpe)

I can't cast doubt on your view of the Conservative party because it is as imovable as, well a utility companies power station!

As for your comments on windfall taxes they do affect investment descisions. As I understand it investment in the North Sea is down.

Mark Senior said...

Gary , another overstated comment as made by so many Conservatives . I am not a Labour supporter but I can at least acknowledge that on the whole the economy has been pretty well run since 1997 and to say that this country and it's people are being killed is a gross exaggeration that destroys anything positive you may have to say .
Benedict , we do not have to go back 80 odd years to find scandals in your party . Investment in North Sea Oil is down because the oil and gas reserves there are now on the decline - nothing to do with windfall taxes .
One thing certainly clear from your posts is that the old , sick and poor can expect nothing from a Conservative government which is what they have always come to expect .