Long term labour subsidies. Letter to FT (1991) | Brussels Blog

Long term labour subsidies. Letter to FT (1991)

posted by on 3rd Aug 2016

Give the unemployed long-term subsidies


Richard Layard and John Philpott repeat the conventional wisdom that “unemployment is the price we pay a for controlling inflation” (“A 12-month turnaround for the unemployed”, September 1.1).

More accurately, it is the price the poor (now renamed the underclasses) pay.

Layard and Philpott’s answer relies heavily on “high-quality training leading to recognised qualifications”.

Before we all jump on the training bandwagon, perhaps we should ask to what extent training independent of the workplace actually increases an individual’s ability to do a job. I remain highly sceptical of the trainers’ claims.

Their suggestion for a subsidy to employers for taking on an unemployed person has some merit: it does oil the friction in the labour market. But some employers are already using similar schemes as long-term labour subsidies by sacking employees after the subsidised period has ceased and taking ‘on new employees and new subsidies,

Why not confront the problem head on? At a given time, there will be people who cannot legally earn enough to have a civilised life. Instead of giving them life skills classes or paying them not to work, subsidise them into a job and, if subsidies need to be long-term, let them be long-term.

Geoff Beacon, 13th September 1991

Greening the greenbelt (February 2003)

posted by on 16th Jul 2016

This is a reposting of

www.greeningthegreenbelt.org (2003)


Welcome to www.greeningthegreenbelt.org, started 01 February 2003. This is a protest against the unfairness and environmental damage caused by green belt policy.

The problem

Green belts are mechanisms for restricting the supply of planning permission. Green belt policy is usually regarded as the one strong weapon planners have against developers who would destroy our environment; our environment which is free for us all, rich and poor, to enjoy. But, in reality, it

— Increases in the value of land with planning permission

— Gives massive rewards to the affluent (owners of property and land)

— Penalises the poor and the young

— Rewards those that pollute the most – the affluent

— Protects green fields of monoculture with little biodiversity

Our suggestion

Open up the greenbelt to settlements that will

— Have dwellings and shops and public transport

— Use local horticulture – growing more food than conventional agriculture

— Cut food miles to 10% of the National average.

— Create more biodiversity than the farmer

— Have greenfootprints that are a quarter of the National average

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Jobs, training and video games (1993)

posted by on 13th Jul 2016

I was asked to write a note for the Fabian Society’s newsletter in 1993.

They decided not to publish this note.

Headings have been added.

The OECD solution to unemployment

The current economic orthodoxy is ubiquitous. We may be drowning in it. As an example, here is the FT’s precis of the OECD’s latest position:

“The organisation warns that the new and severe deterioration of the employment performance of its 24 member-states since the late 1980s is serious in its own right. It brings individual hardship, economic loss and treat to the social and political fabric …”

So we are screwing up lives, throwing lunches in the bin, creating a criminal society and risking another Hitler(ski?). But what about the OECD’s solutions?

They advocate big reductions in structural budget deficits to allow lower interest rates, which encourage higher consumption and investment. In Europe, the OECD believes, the way forward lies in high productivity jobs filled with workers with high skills and “low productivity jobs warrent the payment of only a low wage”. To achieve high productivity they emphasise two approaches: education and training for the workers and the encouragement of enterprise in high-tech, high-productivity industry at the level of the firm.

Labour Party policy and a reality gap

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Does this site use cookies?

posted by on 10th Jul 2016

The European Commission has asked if this site uses cookies.

My answer: I’ve no idea.

Please advise.

P.S. Since the EU chickened out on banning cookies altogether and really protecting our privacy, we are left with the nonsense of clicking boxes to use essential services.

Can Richard Layard really be following Percy Bridgman?

posted by on 21st Jun 2016

Professor Richard Layard, London School of Economics,
Programme Director – Wellbeing

Percy Bridgman’s operationalism

Operationalism became influential in social science, particularly psychology, through the work of Percy Bridgman. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says

Operationalism is based on the intuition that we do not know the meaning of a concept unless we have a method of measurement for it. …

In 1932, Lionel Robbins applied this to “satisfaction” claiming its use was unscientific because satisfaction could not be directly measured. He gave this example:

If we tested the state of their blood-streams, that would be a test of blood, not satisfaction. Introspection does not enable A to discover what is going on in B’s mind, nor B to discover what is going on in A’s.

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Lifestyles, Quality of Life and Sustainability (1997)

posted by on 14th Jun 2016

A Contribution to “Developing an Integrated Transport Policy” (DETR 1997)

Lifestyle research is an essential addition to the factual background in the development of an integrated transport policy. The average behaviour of the whole population is not detailed enough to understand the behaviour of the different lifestyles that comprise to the whole population.

Consider some example households in or near York (these are illustrative pending further research):

A. Flat in central York: Young couple, no children

B. Terraced house in inner suburbs: two parents and two children

C. Semi detached in outer suburbs: two parents and three children

D. Rented house on peripheral council estate: divorced mother of four

E: Cottage in country park: two parents and two children

The transport system affects their lifestyles in different ways…

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Carbon budgets: A straightforward answer from DECC

posted by on 30th Apr 2016

Below there is a reply about how the IPCC’s “remaining carbon budgets” should be modified: There are climate feedbacks missing from the CMIP5 models used in calculating the original budgets . Parliamentary POSTnote 454, “Risks from Climate Feedbacks” (Jan 2014) also acknowledges this. The reply is remarkably straightforward answer for a government department. Thanks to all concerned.

Update1: Carbon budgets without taking missing feedbacks into account: 4 years for 1.5°C.

Update2: Climate sensitivity increased by missing feedbacks.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change, Whitehall

Dear Geoff,

You spoke to Pete Betts at the LSE, and subsequently via email, during which you raised several thoughtful points on the science of feedbacks, and their potential policy implications. With thanks to several of my colleagues, I’ve tried to answer your questions to Pete below.

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Green growth or degrowth ?

posted by on 28th Apr 2016

Green growth or degrowth ?

A note for the new All-Party Parliamentary Group
on the Limits to Growth

In the inaugural paper for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Limits to Growth is “A review of the limits to growth debate” by Tim Jackson and Robin Webster. They discuss many of the concerns of the original “Limits to Growth” from the Club of Rome.

Speakers at the inaugural meeting

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Thomas Piketty or Robin Hood?

posted by on 18th Apr 2016

A modern Robin Hood would be
more fundamental than Piketty

The future of inequality

In The future of inequality Thomas Piketty suggests that future growth will be no larger than 1.0% to 1.5% a year. He points out that the rate of return on capital has typically been 4% to 5% per year. This causes a very large concentration of wealth.

This stirs discontent and radically undermines our democratic values and institutions. The ideal solution to this would be a global progressive tax on individual net worth. Those who are trying to enter the game and start accumulating new wealth would pay little, and those who already have billions would pay a lot. This would foster mobility and keep inequality under control.

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The Sustainable Plotlands Association – a proposal

posted by on 13th Apr 2016

The aim of the association is to promote sustainable lifestyles
which also address Britain’s housing crisis.


1. There are few (if any) examples of lifestyles in Britain which are sustainable. For example at the new “sustainable” development at Derwenthorpe, York, the carbon footprints of the residents are several times that which is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. The Sustainable Plotlands Association will promote action research into achieving lifestyles that are sustainable.

2. Housing is much more expensive than the cost of building and the land it occupies. At agricultural prices a plot of land big enough for a house and garden costs £500. Once planning permission has been granted this can easily inflate to over £100,000. This increase is because planning permission is limited in supply. Additionally, many plots with planning permission remain in land banks, until they can be developed at a premium, when home buyers end up paying inflated prices. Windfall rewards go to land owners and developers holding land banks.

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