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Just a bit of dismality

and something to mull over whilst supping your pot of tea.

terry  Male  West Yorkshire
5-Nov-2019 16:28 Message #4761588
Very valid points, as always Boydel, and the population increase is and will continue to be an issue: population increases, technology advances, the numbers of those in poverty will increase. However, does that, should that, lead to 'the inability of an individual to support himself'?

Whilst the figures you've given are excellent guides to how the benefit systems of this country work, and the lot of the working person, they don't give an idea of whether we've moved forward in our thinking of wealth, poverty and pauperism...I don't know if I'm right to seperate the three in that way, because I'm also trying to understand better what I'm actually talking about and will concede to others understanding more, perhaps what I'm trying to understand is, although the world of Colqhoun at that time was different to the world we are in now, the ideas of wealth, poverty and pauperism haven't really changed? in fact, I would argue they are more prevalent now than in Colqhoun's time, there will be 'no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth'.

My apologies if I seem to be moving the goalposts frequently, but I do find his comment about poverty being a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society a very telling statement about society today, just as it was in Colqhoun's time.
BOYDEL  Male  Surrey
5-Nov-2019 18:01 Message #4761593
Not every country has a welfare system in any way similar to the UK - so of course in much of Asia etc people either work or starve or rely on charity. Hence why so many businesses have been offshored to such places where labour can be bought at a tiny fraction of UK wage rates.

That in turn continues to impact on prospects for UK workers as even at min wage levels it is often unprofitable for any labour intensive business to be based in UK.

As to whether the really wealthy remain reliant on a degree of poverty to motivate others to work for them in 21stC - that remains true to a degree - but less so in somewhere like UK where welfare at least provides for a basic existence - though benefit levels remain set at a level such as to provide encouragement to do paid work for those who aspire to more than a mere subsistence level. For low skilled workers as I said there is in many cases little real incentive to work - though DWP make it increasingly challenging to claim JSA for lengthy periods without being sanctioned.

For many yrs places like London have relied in part on a series of cram sharing economic migrants to do many of the drudge jobs - though if Brexit ever happens in any meaningful way immigration controls may mean that source of cheap labour dries up - so pay rates may then rise.

As to poverty/pauperism there has been much debate around the definition of poverty - most western nations define it on a relative basis eg household income below 60% of average in UK etc -whereas absolute poverty would apply to eg rough sleepers or others who literally have no means of buying food/shelter. Hence rough sleepers on average live only half as long as UK average - with male/female survival being 47/43 yrs respectively.

Overall the whole world remains in a major readjustment phase since the Industrial Revolution - prior to which most of the world's population worked 7 days a week in agriculture - ie work/eat/sleep with little else for a diversion. At least those redundant agricultural workers had jobs in the many new factories - but today when industries go in to decline there are far fewer new opportunities for the masses - especially the poorly educated/low skilled.
terry  Male  West Yorkshire
5-Nov-2019 21:42 Message #4761613
Excellent read, as always. I particularly like your mention of the world still being in a readjustment phase since the industrial revolution, not sure I agree with it but what that statement does is give some positivity, some hope that we as a species might at some point find an alternative to Colqhoun's comment.
Whilst I accept that welfare provides for a basic existence, welfare in itself doesn't answer the question of whether the wealthy rely on poverty to sustain their wealth. I think though that your point about household income below 60% in some small way tells us wealth is more spread out amongst the population than previously, though I wonder if that is a blip in time and our grandchildrens generation will experience levels lower than that 60%?
BOYDEL  Male  Surrey
5-Nov-2019 23:47 Message #4761627
If you check the ONS definition of wealth it includes property and pension funds.

Looking at which group has most of each it is probably the baby boomer generation - who in most cases acquired property when the price to wage ratio was around 25% of current ratio - and who were the first and only generation so far to enjoy throughout most of their working life a final salary (defined benefit) pension as part of their remuneration package.

100 yrs ago home ownership was just 22% but post WW2 it began from 1953 to climb rapidly from 35% to the 50% milestone by 1971 - then 58% in 1981 and peaked at 71% in 2003 before falling back to current 63%.

Along the way in the 1930s there was a major boom in house building with around 2 million new homes built - aided by mortgages becoming readily available and the lack of planning controls which came in to force via 1947's Town and Country Planning Act whose aim was to avoid urban sprawl by defining a green belt around major towns/cities.

In 1938 a new build 3 bed semi in the outer London borough of Bexley cost just £395 - with land cost being just 2% or £8 ! With average wage at £165 that was less then 2.4 times av wage.

By 1960 land prices were around 25% of a typical house price and today around 2/3rds in SE - and with Bexley semi being around £450k today the land is now around £300k - or say £6 million an acre.

Take the jobs away though and the homes become almost worthless - near Sunderland you can buy a 3 bed house for less than £20k.

As for adjustment post Ind Rev - the core challenge is finding paid work for those who need it - when the world population has increased 8 fold over past 200 yrs - whilst automation is rapidly removing jobs.

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