Tuesday 2 April 2013

What happened to the COE and are they right?

Once up on a time, the Church of England was considered the Tory Party at prayer. No longer, now instead we have a whole Easter weekend given over to hand-wringing by the COE about potential welfare cuts and harming the poorest in society.

The leftie take-over of the church is complete, even if it is run by an Etonian.

I don't know how this came to pass, less do I care how it has happened,  except to note that the Catholic leader was more concerned with the meaning of Easter and the Jewish and Islamic leaders have chosen not to get engaged in this level of political involvement. It makes me remember a very good old story and TV series. The Church of England's investment portfolio is £8 billion and this is before donations are taken in any current year.

Having said the above though, the rise of technology is indeed imposing a great burden on society and it increases its capital demands. Fewer people can do more work than ever before and lever the benefits - however, for the whole population this leaves a lack of work above the manual level and a sharp digression in the spread of wealth. Those who do good jobs have to work hard and are well rewarded, those who do not struggle on and are recipients of welfare.

In an odd way, the leisure time that was supposed to be the gift of technology to humanity, has gone to the welfare recipients not the workers. The workers though have the higher standard of living but are required to subsidise those who cannot/do not work. It's a tough position and with an ageing population and over-promised pension commitments, something the State is not going to cope with very well.

At the ballot box too the situation will become strained, with more votes in wanting higher welfare than votes in wanting to reduce taxes on jobs and work and parties may well split even more along socio-economic lines. In this world, a first past the post system may well prove a poor system of Government.

So we will need to have extensive welfare as the price of capital intensive and successful businesses, it is the modern price we will pay to keep stability. however, the current welfare reforms seek to reduce the dependency which is the crucial aspect - more people can work than do and with more entrepreneurial spirit there is potential for more jobs and job creation that we have - but the limit is finite and certainly likely to be well short of full employment.


Clive said...

Hi CU, you make all the right points but you do leave out one important thing: the sources of income for welfare spending are, as you say, the taxpayer BUT also as you didn't say the corporation.

Historically, corporations shared their wealth with their workers, who in turn had more wealth to share with the government.

Now, increasingly global and international capital doesn't think it has to share with anyone except some vague concept of "shareholders" who are never quite identified. In practice, the top management gets whatever percentage of the wealth as its cut before shareholder interests are taken into account, so there's several hundred if not several thousand c-suite execs in the world taking high tens to low hundreds of millions of dollars out of these businesses as their compensation.

If corporations won't share their earnings with labour (little L), then labour can't share them with the government.

Aren't out of control, unaccountable big global enterprises part of this problem (and so part of the solution) ? Or is it just as you say, individual voters and the political parties seeking to be in government ?

Sir Watkin said...

It may be worth pointing that the four churches doing the "hand wringing" didn't include the Church of England: they were the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and the Church of Scotland.

Also, they didn't do it over the Easter weekend. They did it in a report published some weeks ago but the B.B.C. decided to rehash the report for the Easter weekend (having previously ignored it).

CityUnslicker said...

Sir Watkin - that is a point well made. Welby is stilla fellow traveller though....


CityUnslicker said...

Clive - I don't think this is the route cause of the problem. Yes, owners of capital are making more, that I agree with. But to say execs deny shareholders (who are mainly pension funds, they are the good people you know?) is not really a new one or that significant.

Most UK FTSE CEO's struggle to get into the low millions. Yes, the US is different, but Europe is not, nor is China. You assertion that many people lift hundreds of millions a year from companies is just that - an assertion.

Anyway, a few hundered million here or there does not fix our welfare state problem, which is in the hundreds of billions. This is where the likes of Richard Murphy are just so wrong - willing there to be a bandage to cure a mortal wound.

Sir Watkin said...

Welby's position is a bit more nuanced than that.

In his own comments he criticises the present system: "shot full of holes, wrong incentives, and incredible complexity [...] For lots of people in the parishes where I worked, taking some extra hours of work could actually lower income; that is exactly the kind of thing that the move to universal credit aims to change."

And he praises Duncan Smith and what the government is doing: "the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has spent hard years turning himself into a leading and principled expert on welfare, its effects and shortcomings. [...] a programme which in general is incredibly brave."


But "Archbishop criticises welfare system and largely agrees with what a Conservative-led administration is doing about it" isn't a story that would interest the media (whether their inclinations are to the Right or the Left). The Guardian wants to rage about how evil the government is, the Telegraph wants to harrumph about how the C. of E. is run by a bunch of lefties.

Blue Eyes said...

CU you are right, there is a long-term trend as we move away from manual industries to robot (or outsourced) production and jobs which require the limited resources of intelligence and education.

"Tories" would say that a small government and regulations that allow businesses to be nimble at exploiting changing circumstances will end up producing the kind of vibrant conditions that allow more people to end up with jobs.

The assorted "Left" say that it is inevitable that all the money will end up in the hands of a tiny elite and that nobody else will have anything (Marx's theory). The Left concludes that the elite must have some of their wealth redistributed.

"Christians" say that we should help ourselves first then help others as much as we can. This seems to naturally chime with the "Tory" view. The CoE does seem to have gone mad though, maybe they are annoyed that the "Tories" seem too socially liberal these days?

If Sir Watkin is right (I haven't actually seen the source material from Goldhat) then this is a media flurry over nothing. The BBC seems to have a weird thing going where everything to do with the Catholic church is wonderful and exciting news and does everything it can to embarrass the CoE.

Anonymous said...

The present Tory-led Government seems to be going out of its way to annoy the Church of England -- whether it be through "gay marriage" or allowing Roman Catholics to succeed to the throne (and hence leadership of the Anglican church). There is even a proposal to change the Chapel underneath the House of Commons to some kind of multi-faith arena.

Perhaps the current Tory leadership should try and remember that the common ground of British life does not lie somewhere between Notting Hill and Islington.

Bill Quango MP said...

Very, very interesting. Where are the low skilled going to end up?
I remind usall that from the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 companies controlling more than 1,400 shops went into administration.

And its got worse since this Feb report. Add another 500.

That's around 10,000 direct jobs lost the first 3 months of 2013. And at least 3,000 associated.

Mostly unskilled or semi skilled jobs that have been lost and probably not coming back anytime soon.

CU is right to ask what will happen to the people who used to be bricklayers and drivers and postmen and shop workers and labourers. Even market traders are having a torrid time with the rise of the £1 shop.

Where are the mining/agricultural/factory/building/sales jobs of tomorrow coming from?

They can't all be care assistants, beauticians and coffee shop servers.

Sir Watkin said...

"allowing Roman Catholics to succeed to the throne (and hence leadership of the Anglican church)"

Please get your facts right. The Succession to the Crown Bill currently before Parliament removes the prohibition on marrying a Roman Catholic, which is quite a different thing and a change that has been welcomed by the Church of England. It does not affect the current statutory requirement that the Sovereign join in communion with the Church of England.

The proposal concerning the chapel of S. Mary Undercroft was made by Chris Bryant, a Labour M.P. This seems to be an entirely private initiative on his part, and as much a publicity stunt as a serious proposal.

Diogenes Sinope said...

@Bill Quango

The (current) loss of jobs is no different from miners and steelworkers in the 80's. Some retrain; some "retire"; some start up businesses.

The first and last options can be helped by training / education but even there there was the almighty cock-up with outsourcing to "skills" companies some of which folded after taking the cash. Some folded after being exposed for fraud.

You can see the same pattern being repeated with the dole-to-work companies that have sprung up recently.

I'd also draw a parallel between education and our current Energy policy. Both require some long term thinking and planning. But the current attention span of this cohort of politicians is less than 24-hours.

I can't for the life of me understand why a) if we need higher skilled people we make the young saddle themselves with debt and b) if we need an green energy policy we leave it to useful idiots like Greg Barker.

But (tin foil hat on) there may just be a long term plan in place!

Electro-Kevin said...

I used to be an active member of the CofE. I recall many of the vicars virtually preaching from the pages of the Guardian and scornful of the congregation and much of the country as being 'endemically racist' for expressing concern about unlimited immigration.

The same vicar at one evening event declined to help stack the chairs "It's my day off."

Of course, it was EVERYONE's day off. All of us unpaid volunteers except him.

Typical leftist.

Electro-Kevin said...

Of course the quid pro quo for 'forcing' people to work is to free up the jobs available for them by limiting mass immigration.

The controlling upper middle classes in this country tend to think it's only those beneath them who should work for depressed wages.

Wages would have been quite good had we not undercut them here.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, most "skilled" jobs are full of unskilled people anyway, especially in IT.

On a similar note, I'm always surprised at how many accounts departments don't know the difference between Europe and the EU. (Richard North says politicians mix them up on purpose but I've seen enough confusion to believe that most people simply don't know.)

There's little things that I run into every week that really make me wonder how many people are qualified for their jobs. Usually it's small things like mixing up their terminology that makes me wonder how deep their misunderstanding goes.

Who cares about the churches? Just a bunch of bleeding hearts like the rest.

Anonymous said...

6:14 again.

I think the problem is that knowledge workers are skilled workers, but not all skilled workers are knowledge workers. But when we talk of skilled workers we usually mean knowledge workers.

There's probably actually less entry restrictions to a crappy desk job than a brick layer or shop worker. Most people can type pretty well these days and it'd only take a week or so of additional training to get your average teenager properly touchtyping at 75-100wpm.

andrew said...

the unemployed could write spam.

more seriously, the fixed lump of labour fallacy indicates that there will not be an ever increasing number of 100% leisured people

however, there is a floor on the salaries that can be offered of the min wage

there is also the fact that most things people are willing to pay for are either created by skilled craftsmen or complex manufacturing processes

in other words the lump of labour is shrinking.

so the fixed lump of labour fallacy is itself, a fallacy.

in the medium term expect a growth in the number of painters, teachers etc.

the long term I leave to human ingenuity as I am sure educated middle class people sat and wondered what all those spare people working on the land are for shortly before the industrial revolution.

Bill Quango MP said...

Andrew. The landowning Tories did indeed wonder what the agricultural labourers would do if they went to the city. The sad truth was, not very much. All manner of pittance paying, sickness inducing, long houred, dangerous jobs in factories, mills and on the streets of Victorian Britain.

Something the greens don't seem to reflect on much is that people actually chose to work 16 hours, 6 days a week in a toxic, noisy, dangerous cotton mill, often with meals sitting at the machinery, without rest breaks of any sort.

Or domestic servitude, even worse hours, worse pay, usually better food, but no security at all.

That, rather than work on the land.

{And yes, it was the famines and food price depressions that drove them off the land in the first place, but they didn't go back.}

Bill Quango MP said...

Diogenes Sinope

The difference is that shop work, for some 70% of those working in it, is a first job. A school leavers job before moving up or moving on.

They can't retire at 20. They can start a business but few will.
They can definitely retrain. And most will do that. I'm not bemoaning the end of civilisation. Just pointing out that a lot of the jobs lost .. public sector and private, are youth jobs.

Its partly why youth unemployment is rising. There are less youth jobs and more skilled workers available.

Blue Eyes said...

Yes, but a lot of the "young" will get a different first job. That is, the ones who end up on the "Tory" end of the scale. None of the first jobs I had were advertised on the pin board of a JobCentrePlusShopThing. Indeed I've never been in one.

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