Anti-cuts collective in sensurround

Barry What's with the gun?
Waj Proper replica man.
Barry It's too small man!
Waj Not too small, brother. Big hands!
- Four Lions

Lewisham is a borough stuffed with writers, broadcasters, actors, artists, designers, marketing and PR professionals...



This video follows on from the Carnival Against Cuts debate, in which we were told that the ultimate target for the campaign was actually the national government. The references to "Butcher Bullock" and the description of "the Tories made us do this" as "mumbo-jumbo gibberish" would suggest otherwise to the untrained ear. We're sure they explain it all on a pamphlet somewhere, but there's no link with the video for further reading.

155 comments:

Coney said...

Better a slightly misdirected video than riots, no?

Brockley Nick said...

Those are the only two choices are they?

Coney said...

I don't work in p.r /lobbying so I wouldn't know.

GeorgeDavis said...

Rioting is the only thing that makes them listen.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke surely?

Anonymous said...

% people at the Council make £750,000.

Barry Quirk Chief Executive £192,387
Janet Senior Executive Director for Resources £141,123
Lesley Seary Executive Director for Customer Services £141,123
Aileen Buckton Executive Director for Community Services £138,495
Frankie Sulke Executive Director for Children and Young People £141,123

Anonymous said...

Isn't the number of people rather than percentage?

Anonymous said...

I didn't realise Council's paid some employees not to their job but to be full time union officials.

Why aren't unions paying the salaries of their officials.

Is it true there are teachers employed and paid for by the council but work full time for a union?

Anonymous said...

Anyone else finding BrockleyCentrals apparant witch hunt against anyone involved in protesting against cuts a little unsavoury?

Anonymous said...

I think Nick is on record as saying the cuts are too deep and too fast. It's also clear that he thinks there message is muddled, unfocused and their tactics poor. Hardley a witch hunt. George is a savvy political operator, I'm sure he can deal with it. Indeed he uses this very blog to spread his ideas. If he has a compelling argument he'll convince people. Preaching to the converted is easy, the video weekday exercise in just that.

Of course BC can't be blamed for the numbskulls who demonise public services and workers. That's the price of an open forum.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon 0922 - yes, thanks, that about sums it up.

For the record, the video was sent to me by the campaigners.

If you are putting stuff out there, especially stuff that refers to people as butchers and criminals and ridicules alternative arguments, then you need to expect that your arguments won't be parroted uncritically.

In the last debate, I was told that I simply wasn't trying hard enough to listen to the sophisticated argument and the positive alternatives. I'm saying this underlines my point - that if the campaigners have a positive alternative and a realistic analysis, that it isn't coming through in their campaign.

Anonymous said...

George wants a deep meaningful debate to appear to have the answers rather than talking 'mumbo-jumbo gibberish'.

It appears 5m real jobs will conjured up, that there's billions of pounds of unpaid tax sloshing around, public sector salaries will be slashed and capped, many in the private sector will lose their jobs while taxes will increase so there are no cuts.

I can't see unions buying inflation, intereset rate increases and higher taxes for its members.

Anonymous said...

By the way also on the council agenda is discussion on the revised planning strategy Lewisham Centre and Ladywell.

Also included is the business plan for Catford Shopping centre which is now owned by a company run by the Council.

According to the report the council has borrowed money at 4.2% interest rate and loaned it to the Catford company at a rate of 7%.

How does that work, won't the council be collecting interest from itself or will shop owners pay through their rents?

Also...it mentions turning the Mews into a single retail unit, those that mean all the shops will go or is the proposal an additional large retail unit?

Anonymous said...

Is that Mick Fleetwood?

Anonymous said...

The only alternative the ACA are offering is for Councillors to set an illegal, no-cuts budget!

The left turning on Labour Councils is exactly what Cameron and Pickles want. Well done ACA you've achieved absolutely nothing apart from letting the government get away scot free.

Brockley Nick said...

He has the same smooth presentational style as Mick Fleetwood at the Brits

Tom said...

Calling named individuals "criminals" when they are operating within the law might be very right-on but without evidence (other than your own ideology) it is rather sad and unnecessary. Just like the whole of that dull and amateurish video.

(Did they really have to read their scripts so badly?)

Anonymous said...

The glorious full length version of 1989 Brits can now be found on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Like Sam Fox the Anti Cuts Alliance has its knockers.

Coney said...

The A.C.A's action however supposedly "amateurish" and all the other 'feedback' trumps apathy and accepting that there is no alternative to what happening to our standard of living.

Tom said...

the anti-cuts movement likes to make grandiose inaccurate claims amid gratutious insults. it seems to work among its core supporters. just like the countryside alliance, which was effective as 'securing the base' in the wake of Labour's election win in 1997. neither are exactly high points in UK political debate.

George Hallam said...

Anonymous said...

“It appears 5m real jobs will conjured up, that there's billions of pounds of unpaid tax sloshing around, public sector salaries will be slashed and capped, many in the private sector will lose their jobs while taxes will increase so there are no cuts.”

It’s important to be clear about the nature of the problems we face and to distinguish between short-term and long-term solutions these problems. Of course, all these issues are linked, but mixing them up to make a rhetorical effect (‘all good knock-about stuff’ as the saying goes) does nothing to advance the debate.

David Leal and I have identified two deficit problems: the fiscal deficit and the balance of payments deficit. We are agreed that, of the two, the balance of payments deficit is by far the most serious problem. We also agree that the only long-term solution to our chronic balance of payments difficulties is to reconstruct British manufacturing industry.

Part of the UK’s current difficulties stem from a severe and long-standing shortage of jobs. I estimate that it will require the creation of the equivalent of about five million full-time jobs (35-40 hours per week) to restore us to full employment. Obviously, it would be unsustainable to generate this number of non-productive, ‘non-job’ jobs – hence the phrase “real jobs”. Getting people to make some of the things that they consume, but are currently imported, is an obvious way to do this. I estimate that this could provide up to three million jobs.

These jobs will not be “conjured up” overnight, they will be created by a conscious effort that will have been sustained over a number of years. This policy is about tackling a long-term problem: the solution will take time.

Consider the following:
Every person that comes off benefits and enters employment (or sets up their own business) reduces the public sector’s outgoings.
At the same time the real wealth created by every new worker will provide the wealth to pay his (or her) wages.
Higher income (productive work should support a better income that substance) would create extra demand for goods and services in the rest of the economy.
A higher income for a large section of the population would mean that tax-base would be greatly enlarged.
The sound public finances that would result from such a line of action will allow us to ensure that the public services that we need are properly funded.

You know it makes sense. But it won’t happen on its own. You are going to have to make it happen.

Lou Baker said...

Badly written, badly acted, inaccurate script and probably recorded on a Wednesday afternoon when they should have been in work. All in all a Razzie winning performance from the corduroy brigade. These benefits' scroungers really have no clue.

As for the twerp who highlighted six figure council salaries ....

A council is a big budget organisation. There is lots of money, there are lots of people. To make sure it is run effectively you need the best managers. You do not attract the best managers without proper rewards. One of the biggest problems with the public sector is that too much of it is badly managed. Many public sectors workers see managers as a problem not a solution. While too many poor managers IS a problem, a few very good managers is not. Slashing executive pay costs more in the long run because you end up with monkeys in charge.

The sandal wearing pinkos don't get that. They see big numbers and envy the successful rather than applauding them.

PS: Barry Quirk may 'earn' £192K but remember he takes home nothing like that much. He'll pay £75k in income tax - helping subsidise society's failures.

George Hallam said...

Anonymous said...

“The only alternative the ACA are offering is for Councillors to set an illegal, no-cuts budget! ”


This sort of comment has been made before and it has been pointed out that this does not apply to LACA.
There has been considerable discussion about what Councillors could do short of setting an illegal no-cuts budget.

If anyone is interested in getting a flavour of what is being talked about then they should try:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/28/five-more-ways-how-the-left-should-engage-with-labour-council-cuts/

The article refers to “the left” but actually it applies to anyone thinking about alternatives to cuts.

George Hallam said...

Lou Baker said...
The sandal wearing pinkos don't get that.

Sandals? In this weather? They must be mad.
One may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but one can always tell the validity of a man’s argument by looking at his footwear.

Coney said...

"the only long-term solution to our chronic balance of payments difficulties is to reconstruct British manufacturing industry. " WORD!

That is the key to it, the idea that needs to be teased out and worked on. If I was in charge I'd massively subsidise education, those Adult Education Courses or "Night school" classes so people could learn how to make stuff and do practical things. Like being an electrician, brickie, pattern cutter, machinist. We need a mass up skilling programme so that people have the to confidence to start up their own business or go overseas with their skills. When you have a skill that = Confidence.

Anonymous said...

what is the weird quote at the top all about???

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Anyone else finding BrockleyCentrals apparant witch hunt against anyone involved in protesting against cuts a little unsavoury?"


YES!!!

Brockley Nick said...

@Coney

"Like being an electrician, brickie, pattern cutter, machinist."

Except for the last of these, none of these would typically be considered manufacturing jobs. They'd be measured as part of the construction industry or fashion / services.

@anon1524 - it's a scene from the film Four Lions, where the terrorists are making an inept video warning.

Coney said...

Well mass upskilling in all areas is needed.

I hear the government talking about innovation, but it doesn't happen within a vacuum, you have to have a lot of people with lots of skills milling about society and some sparks of genius- innovation will emerge.

Whether it's in areas like T-Shirt design, or smartphone apps or random product design or how to grow stuff.

Just skill up the country.

Anonymous said...

@Brockley Nick...doesn't explain what quote has to do with this though...

Brockley Nick said...

No argument from me there.

Brockley Nick said...

@Anon1818

It's not too much of a tangential reference surely? Have you seen the video?

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick took issue with Coney’s list...

"Like being an electrician, brickie, pattern cutter, machinist."

Except for the last of these, none of these would typically be considered manufacturing jobs. They'd be measured as part of the construction industry or fashion / services.


Yes, bricklayers are normally employed in the construction industry.
And yes, many electrician work in construction as well. However a factory has to quite small before it can dispense with a least one electrician on the staff. Rebuilding British manufacturing will require many more electricians, especially if we develop the hi-tech specialisms that you seem to favour .

As far as pattern cutters go, I would guess that if the division of labour in a fashion house has reached to level were the making of paper patterns has become a full time job, then production would have to be on such a scale that ‘manufacturing’ is not so far off the mark.

To avoid further confusion here is the list of manufacturing industries used by the ONS with their code letters

Food, drink & tobacco DA
Textiles & clothing DB
Leather & leather products DC
Wood & wood products DD
Paper, printing & publishing DE
Coke, refined petroleum & nuclear fuels DF
Chemicals & man-made fibres DG
Rubber & plastic products DH
Non-metallic mineral products DI
Basic metals & metal products DJ
Machinery & equipment DK
Electrical & optical equipment DL
Transport equipment DM
Other manufacturing DN

Is quibbling an Olympic sport? If it is then Lewisham could be in the medals.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - you're the one hung up on classifications, I'm the one arguing that we shouldn't get hung up on manufacturing v non-manufacturing, that all high-skill, high value-added jobs are the ones we shoule be cultivating and encouraging.

And yes, a factory might need an electrician. It might also need an accountant. But you agreed with me that an electrician is typically part of the construction industry (just as accountant is usually thought of as working in services). So who is the one quibbling?

Anyway, enough of this silly arguing. Do you care to tell us which of those five options aimed at protecting Council employees you've linked to you favour? Or is that too specific? Why don't you just tell us what you're in favour of? (minus points if your answer involves linking to another article).

Anonymous said...

@George

The fiscal deficit isn't a problem you say? What planet are you on. It is 'the problem'. You can forget your grandiose plans for 're-opening the shipyards' if we don't deal with this immediately.

As to the video. Woeful in every way.

Anonymous said...

@George

You sound like a Little Englander harking back to 'Buy British'.

The British consumer has shown it wants 'value' for example in clothes Primark, Matalan and Peacocks...even M&S has joined in with Outlook.

I'm not sure what will be manufactured at a competitive price to foreign imports.

-----------------

When someone points to your short plan term plan failings you bang on about a long term strategy.

How long? 5, 10, 20 years?

Meanwhile how does a council pay for services with less money?

Anonymous said...

@ George Hallam.

That Liberal Conspiracy article is a good one but aren't these the things that Labour Councils are all doing.

Doesn't the article back up what they're doing rather than back up what LACA are doing?

I'm not sure why you referred to it in support of the LACA. If LACA are supporting Councils setting a cuts budget then why are they calling them butchers and thugs?

Anonymous said...

A council that failed to pass a legal budget now would lose control over the finances of the local authority. Decision making would pass to unelected bureaucrats – or worse Eric Pickles – who wouldn’t be bound by the priorities and manifesto pledges of those who had been democratically elected. If you believe that cuts delivered by Eric Pickles would be less damaging – or equiavalent – to those which Labour councillors are forced to deal out, then you have clearly exited the realm of reality.

Anonymous said...

@Coney

Isn't the compulsarory eduction age due to rice to 18 soon, won't there voccational courses created for the less academic?

Also are we going to close our borders to foreign workers/immigrants?

Eh? said...

To the last anon.... No, no, and no.

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George - you're the one hung up on classifications, I'm the one arguing that we shouldn't get hung up on manufacturing v non-manufacturing, that all high-skill, high value-added jobs are the ones we shoule be cultivating and encouraging.

The UK has a chronic balance of payments deficit problem because all its high-skill, high value-added jobs in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing have failed to earn anywhere near enough to pay for our imports. Without North Sea oil we would have had to face this fact decades ago.

From the way you keep referring to the importance of services anyone one would think that they are really important.

Look at the figures
Export of services import of goods % of imported goods paid for by services
2008 170819 345202 49.5
2009 163248 310010 52.7
2010 163438 363278 45.0

Now look at the three most important imports and exports

Major goods imports, 2009 % of total
Oil 9.0
Road vehicles 8.4
Miscellaneous manufactures 5.7

Major goods exports, 2009 % of total
Oil 10.8
Pharmaceuticals 8.9
Road vehicles 7.5

When oil goes we have a problem

We also have a serious problem of unemployment and under-employment. What’s wrong we getting people to make things that we won’t be able to afford..
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow day, but soon and for the rest of our lives.
I don’t think I’m hung up on classifications I’m trying to address a deep-seated problem with our economy.

Anonymous said...

I thought Brockley Central was meant to be politically neutral...is it not?

Tamsin said...

Economic debate isn't really Politics with a capital "P".

Where this site is politically neutral is that it doesn't go in for the pantomimic "Oh yes, you did" "Oh, no you didn't", tediously predictable Party Political point-scoring that so often happens when you have representative career politicians on debate panels like Question Time or whatever the Radio 4 programme is which is on about 1.15pm on Wednesdays

Anonymous said...

Ah for the days when we had a tangible class structure where you could tell a man from the type of hat he wore.

These days much of the country seems to have the job of sending emails to each other in big offices.

This is all well and good, but sadly many of our young people today are handicapped by being unable to spell using vowels.

Fortunately they seem to have a natural aptitude for amateur dramatics and play acting as the video shows. So their future is assured in the new reality show industry which has a keen eye for such talent.

Mb said...

If there is one constant throughout history, it's the grownups carping about the idleness, stupidity, fecklessness and disrespect of their youth. From the Egyptians, to the Greeks, the Romans, peyps - they're all 'aving a go. The kids are all right......except in their taste in music.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - not sure what you think those stats prove.

We could equally point out that the UK BoP has a goods deficit and a services surplus. You could draw two contradictory conclusions from this: 1. We must learn to manufacture more or 2. We must concentrate on the area that we have an obvious comparative advantage and focus more on services.

I say both are right. It's not about one sector or another, it's that we consume too much and produce too little. But part of the reason for that, unfortunately, is because of the size of the public sector and the government borrowing which was used to keep the economy growing before and during the recession. So fiscal responsibility is actually a big part of the problem you say you wish to solve.

By the way, I work for a) one of the UK's largest manufacturers and b) one of London's largest manufacturers. So please stop trying to portray me as anti-manufacturing. Setting the two sectors (and there are others by the way) against one another is infantile, tribalist thinking that damages the cause of UK manufacturing.

Across all of these threads where you have been commenting, you still haven't explained how the Council should manage its budget nor how you would achieve this BoP correction you wish for. There isn't a UK policy maker alive that doesn't have the same wish. You want a devaluation, you've already got one. So now what would you do? Actual policies please.

Anonymous said...

George, Lewisham will have a 'balance of payments' problem as of April.

Apart from 'no cuts' what is the Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance proposing the council do to bridge its gap between income and spending?

Further to the Alliance Tax Gap claim...the HMRC reported

In 2009/10 PAYE processing errors increased amounting to £132m in underpayments (a 15.7% increase) and £238m in overpayments (a 148% increase).

HMRC accounts for 2009/10 show of the £436.3Bn revenue to the department 57.1% (249Bn)was from Income Tax & National Insurance.

VAT = 17.7% (£77.1Bn) and Corporation Tax = 8.7% (£37.9Bn)

The debt collection rate is said to be 78.5%.

Maybe I'm missing something but what forms the £90Bn-£120Bn tax gap claimed by the Anti-Cuts Alliance.

Is the 'tax gap' another urban myth?

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George - not sure what you think those stats prove.

We could equally point out that the UK BoP has a goods deficit and a services surplus. You could draw two contradictory conclusions from this: 1. We must learn to manufacture more or 2. We must concentrate on the area that we have an obvious comparative advantage and focus more on services.


Forty years of experience indicates that trying to make up the gap by expanding services doesn’t work. Our financial services sector is about 8 percent of GDP, which is incredibly big by international standards. We are bankers to the world already. To make it any bigger requires a bigger world. Alternatively we might persuade gullible extra-terrestrials to part with their intra-galactic currency (there must be life forms out there that don’t know what a collateralised debt obligation is).

The problem is we also have a serious problem of unemployment and under-employment. Even if we could pay our way through the export of services we would still have to deal with all the trouble caused by having to support those without a job.

What’s wrong we getting people to make things that we won’t be able to afford?

Lou Baker said...

@anon 2156

We should never close our borders to immigrants. High skilled workers from overseas are vital to give us a competitive advantage. Low skilled workers from
overseas are also vital to do jobs that people here don't want to do.

The unemployment problem has nothing to do with immigration. It's largely about an explosion in our own underclass. Uneducated and unskilled Brits who aren't prepared to do the lowest jobs, but who are able to do anything better.

Youth unemployment is an issue but otherwise unemployment is largely a lifestyle choice.

Anonymous said...

A snippet from the MRMC accounts that those with a vested interest in public services may have missed...

Non collectable debt includes...debt that is discharged, amended or cancelled as information is received which reduces the liability or confirms that it is not legally due.

The discharge, amendment and cancelled element results from liabilities being estimated by either the Department or the taxpayer and then subsequently amended once the true liability is known.

Brockley Nick said...

@George there are lots of problems with your assumptions and assertions in that last answer and if I thought you'd acknowledge or address any critique then I'd point them out, but I don't want to distract you from the key issues and we agree inasmuch as we'd both like to see more manufacturing exports (I doubt anyone disagrees with that) and that we both believe that is possible (some people may disagree with that).

So, policies please George.

Increasing manufacturing is a possible outcome of policy, not a policy in its own right - please tell us how you would achieve it.

If it involves having a lower exchange rate, please tell us how you will achieve that? For example, are you proposing to fix the exchange rate - if so, to what, how and how will you avoid other markets putting trade barriers in our way as a result?

George Hallam said...

@ Brockley Nick

I'm not being evasive, I'm just very short of time.

Will get back to you on my more detailed policies

Onther wise the web dictioanry defines policy as:
A plan or course of action, as of a government, political party, or business, intended to influence and determine decisions, actions, and other matters: American foreign policy; the company's personnel policy.

chuckles said...

"I'm not being evasive, I'm just very short of time.

Will get back to you on my more detailed policies"

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!

Once you've thought of some, you mean..

Anonymous said...

From the Liberal Conspiracy website, 'Myth busting Part 2'....

An increasing number of our products are made in developing countries, and it’s no longer viable for companies to invest in massive factories here.

George, think you need to raise your game, 5m pah....

India will create 58 million more jobs by 2012

Labour Minister Harish Rawat says the government is confident of creating 58 million additional jobs by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan in 2012 thanks to the smart recovery in the farm sector...

Anonymous said...

Let's say George creates 5m jobs over 15 years and skilled labour is required.

If there are no jobs abroad such as Ireland, Spain, Estonia with 5m jobs in this country won't there be an influx of skilled workers from abroad?

How will any new jobs be safeguarded for the local unemployed?

Brockley Nick said...

@George, you are the Fermat of political debating.

You didn't have time to rattle off a couple of policies that you surely have off the top of your head (we don't a Socratic dialogue, a few bullet points will do), but you had time to reference the dictionary definition of policies.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the definition of 'policy'. So can we have one some now?

Anonymous said...

Having seen the inside of quite a few large organisations, I have come to the conclusion that employment has a very tenuous relationship with productive work.

Employment is a social status which is often required to be economically empowered and thereby participate in society.

A great many people work for organisations that merely employ people and do not actually create wealth. Often the major wealth generating businesses do not have a particularly high headcount. Todays manufacturing is highly automated and employs a fraction of the workers it did a few decades ago. Financial services generates a great deal of wealth with a small number of highly specialised and skilled workers.

Now if we had someway of changing the tax system so that most people were paid to pursue other useful activities rather than be obliged to attend to all these jobs that are at the back end of huge lumbering private or public bureaucracies.

So many times I have seen organisations where you could really send at least half of the people home and the rest would do the work required much more effectively.

But no. We are addicted to a culture of work and the status that comes with employment.

The French had the right idea. 35 hour maximum, often Fridays off.

It needs to be combined with special attention to the wealth generating areas.

I think we need a 'City like' rewards system for engineers and innovative growing companies. Same for the suppliers of key services. The idea being that the brightest and best will be attracted to these areas.

Then a flat rate for everyone else with fewer hours and sabbaticals.

I realise that in this culture where employment is also highly politicised. This sort of reasoning is not welcome. People from across the political spectrum are wedded to the notion of a job as key status indicator.

It is, however, absurd. There are far better uses for peoples time than unproductive paper chase and meeting mania that passes for work in large organisations.

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George, you are the Fermat of political debating.

You flatter me
You are the Gorgias of economic debating.

Bullet points are too good for you.

max said...

"There are far better uses for peoples time than unproductive paper chase and meeting mania that passes for work in large organisations."

Anonymous 15:16, why stay anonymous, put your name to this, it's one of the sanest things I've read in a long time.
Start a party with this consideration as the basis of your program and I'll join.

George Hallam said...

How to control the exchange rate of a currency
The value of a currency on the international market is the rate it can be exchanged for other currencies. This exchange rate is determined by the supply and the demand of the currency.
Obviously there are a great many factors which make up the supply and the demand. However enough of them can be influenced by a government/ central bank for control of the exchange rate to be a realisable policy. From the end of World War II till the early 1970’s all developed market economies operated fixed exchange rates (the Bretton Woods system). Small economies almost invariably peg the value of their currencies to that of their largest trading partner. The Chinese government is notorious for the tirelessly way it has worked to ensure that its currency is undervalued.
How is this done? The most common method is by means of what are termed “open market operations” (this technique is also used to control the money supply, inflation and interest rates, but that need not concern us here).
To raise the exchange the Bank of England sells some of its reserves of foreign currency to buy sterling, this increases the demand for the Pound and so increases its price.
To lower the exchange rate the Bank of England sells sterling in exchange for foreign currency. This decreases the demand for the Pound and makes it cheaper relative to other currencies.
There other more direct ways of influencing the market to produce the desired rate of exchange. These range from controls on imports, the movement of capital to ending the convertibility of a currency.
In a struggle against the currency markets the Government’s the most effective weapon in its arsenal is, perhaps, its credibility. If currency dealers are convinced that a government is totally committed to a particular exchange rate then they will be wary of speculating against it.
‘Total commitment’ means a willingness to use any means to secure its end, up to and including suspending convertibility together with punitive measures against illicit traders. Obviously, most governments are not prepared to go this far and therefore they are seen as ‘easy meat’ by speculators.
As I have made clear, should I ever have that delicious opportunity, I would be extremely flexible about the means I would employ to ensure the exchange rate that was most favourable to the reconstruction of British industry and the ending of mass unemployment. I like to think that the movement which ‘People Before Profit’ is helping to build will on day lead to a Government that the currency markets will take seriously.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - right, so you'd fix the exchange rate by intervening in the currency markets and / or ending free trade arrangements and introducing currency controls.

Let's put aside the question of whether the public would like these ideas, given that it will make goods and services more expensive, holidays and international investment more difficult (not such a bad thing you might say, not sure the majority of the voting public would share that sentiment).

I suggest the big problem for a relatively small trading nation like us is that if we start to make it hard for other markets to sell to us, they are likely to do the same to us. A trade war.

On top of the immediate shock this will cause to growth and unemployment, it will push up the costs of lots of goods and raw materials, which, in turn will drive up inflation, which in turn will cancel out the temporary competitive advantage produced by devaluation. Back to square one.

With high inflation, shrinking export markets and a shrinking economy, we end up with mass unemployment.

Long term, protectionism would also likely lead to uncompetitive businesses - manufacturing may have shrunk as a percentage of GDP, but the industry that remains is extremely lean and competes on quality.

So what other policies have you got?

Brockley Nick said...

Or to put it another way, have you spoken to any leaders of any successfully exporting UK manufacturers to see whether they like your ideas?

I know manufacturers appreciate a weaker pound, but I don't think any would support your plan to get there.

Brockley Nick said...

And then there's the international companies who own most of our manufacturing base. I wonder what they'd think of currency controls, and trade barriers?

Danja said...

It seems to me that this so-called policy is just an artificial attempt to compete on price with low wage economies. If that is the policy objective, you need to adjust the exchange rate enough to compete with average Chinese wages of what, $180 a month?

Good luck with that endeavour.

Thankfully all you are in charge of is a nonsense local fringe party, rather than having any influence at all on anything.

Brockley Nick said...

@Danja - never mind the Chinese, even without the internal pressure of a democratic system they've had enough of George's low-cost, low-wage, low-value economy and are going after the high-value sectors.

It's been suggested that forcing the Chinese to let their currency appreciate could be counterproductive, since it would hasten the Chinese ascent up the value chain, so that their companies compete head-to-head with ours in many more areas.

No, George would have to devalue the currency to compete with the Philippines, Bangladesh and other low-wage economies.

Anyway, currency and trade controls are only part of the plan. George are there any other policies you want to put on the table?

max said...

Wait!
One of the policies of LPBP has just been announced by Bullock.

Barry Quirk is going part-time saving Lewisham Council £260,000 over three years.

Anonymous said...

I will remain Anonymous.

We are a band of brothers and our intention is to shower this blog with steaming corpuscules of wisdom....from time to time.

max said...

Even wiser!

Anyway, to the point, I entirely agree, automization first and then computerization have rendered scores of people completely redundant from the point of view of the economy as we know it and we can now produce all necessary goods and services to satisfy the entirety of world population with only the active input of a fraction of it.
In fact it would be much better if people here and everywhere weren't so eager on social mobility but would rather enjoy themselves in relatively idle comfort, less hustle and a different set of fulfilling experiences than a career in banking.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone alerted a Green councillor?

max said...

I think someone already has;-)

David.s said...

Anyone else finding BrockleyCentrals apparant witch hunt against anyone involved in protesting against cuts a little unsavoury?...

Yes, I agree. I love this blog but I think the last few articles on this subject have been unnecessarily scornful of the anti-cuts group. Personally I'm ambivalent and feel there has been a great deal excess in some areas of public funding but also that cuts across the board are going to do as much harm as good. George makes some good points and it's a bit harsh for nick to be demanding concrete policies when David Cameron came to office with barely any declared policies and swiftly set in motion a bunch of new ones nobody knew about!

Nick, of course you're entitled to say anything you like on the blog you operate daily for free, but can we perhaps have a bit less scorn on the lead articles as it does make the site feel more like your own political blog rather than the valuable local resource for info and debate that it generally is.

Anonymous said...

It looked like Cllr Johnson had been placed on the naughty step at the budget meeting.

Re Barry Quirk is he volunteering his services to the council the other 2 days of the week?

Mb said...

"... and feel there has been a great deal excess in some areas of public funding but also that cuts across the board are going to do as much harm as good..."

So much like nicks view. The opening articles are not written without betraying sometime betraying the authors opinion. If it was it would be a selection of "heres a pub" "some people are marching on Saturday" "look a video" dull

The intros can ocassionally be probing, the comments are where ANYONE can argue as much as they like for either side. George and Nick can go hammer and tongs, it's open and dynamic. That's what makes this blog popular, other wise it would be blandsville.

Brockley Nick said...

@david.s - I appreciate your comments, so I'd like to say a few things in response:

Firstly, with regard to the "witch-hunt" suggestion. A witch-hunt is a persecution of some individuals. The two articles concerned are not personal in any way - I'm also not hunting for stories about the protests, both were sent to me by the protestors themselves, seeking exposure for their campaign. This video was sent to me by someone for whom I have run neutral-stories in the past, without any editorial slant. If you wanted to apply the term "witch-hunt" to anything, I think it would be fairer to apply it to the video which labels our councillors as crooks and murderers. However, I think our Councillors are legitimate targets for criticism, as indeed are the protestors - who are lobbying for political action. If people put their ideas out there in an attempt to change the way in which we are goverened, then they must expect those ideas to be critically assessed. A healthy local political debate doesn't mean passively reporting any ideas, it means unpicking them.

The editorial policy here is party politically neutral but we are not afraid to have a point of view on issues - but we also try to be fair.

At election time, I kept my opinions about candidates and their policies to myself, although I resolved not to give a platform to the BNP, because I'm not THAT neutral. At other times, I will usually just report - unedited - what people are saying, occasionally adding (some of) my own views. In keeping with the tone with the blog, sometimes I will joke about politicians (and campaigners) and their views - hopefully in a pretty gentle way. I think my comments in the articles in question were pretty mild - hardly comparable with the heavy-handed "satire" we see in the video.

In the comments sections, I express my personal opinions in a more forthright way, because that is where I am just one of many commentators.

My original criticism of the campaigners was meant to be constructive - I don't think their methods are effective or persuasive and I said so. This opinion was met with some fairly hostile and patronising comments, to the effect that it was failure on my part, not theirs that I could not see or hear the alternative solutions they offered nor see that ultimate target was national government.

In my view, this video (as well as being comically inept) underlines my original criticisms, so you'll have to forgive me for saying so.

Finally, with regards to George, I simply wanted him to do what he said he could do, which is spell out what policies he actually advocated. It took him dozens of posts before he would say what one of those policies - but not before he'd found time to tell me how the ONS measures manufacturing, how the dictionary defines policy, etc, etc. Not only do I find such an evasive debating style vexatious, but when he finally said what he was for, I thought it wrong-headed and felt the need to explain why, since we had come so far to get to that point.

Although some people obviously disapprove of the way in which I have handled this issue, I hope that we can at least agree that the number and range of comments on these issues is far bigger than can be found on any other local site and that that is, on balance, a positive thing.

Brockley Economist said...

Open-market operations to reduce the exchange rate:

(1) will increase inflation as foreign goods become more expensive. Inflation is costly to the economy by creating an uncertain environment which reduces investment, increases interest rates and imposes search and menu costs.

(2) may actually reduce revenues from exports of manufactured goods. Most developed countries are competing in specific niches and global demand for our manufactured goods are not very responsive to price.

Getting fixated about a current account deficit is a bit 1960s - the debate has rather moved on. In fact, it is a hangover from the Bretton-Woods system that George (very accurately I might add) describes, as with a fixed exchange rate a current account deficit is usually not sustainable. When rates are floating as they are today, it is not at all clear it matters and is the inevitable consequence of having net inflows of investment into the UK, because the UK is regarded internationally as such a great place to invest.

Next policy please George

George Hallam said...

Many thanks.
@Brockley Nick
@George - right, so you'd fix the exchange rate by intervening in the currency markets and / or ending free trade arrangements and introducing currency controls.
Thank you, I’ll take this as an admission that I do have a policy.

@David.s
David Cameron came to office with barely any declared policies and swiftly set in motion a bunch of new ones nobody knew about!
Thank you for the comparison with Cameron (or David as I call him – we politicians are clubbable chaps). If the main parties had been subject to the same sort of scrutiny as I am getting we might have had a different result last May.

Lou Baker said...

Nick - you are clearly not involved in a witch hunt.

You do this area a genuine service by running this blog and you are nearly always fair and impartial.

Except on the East London Line - where you're not.

In any case George and the corduroy brigade have repeatedly demonstrated that they're idiots.

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
Let's put aside the question of whether the public would like these ideas, given that it will make goods and services more expensive, holidays and international investment more difficult
Let’s put this aside.
Nothing I am proposing will work, or even happen, without mass popular support.
I think the problems we face are so large that it will be impossible for people to ignore them.
What I am proposing will benefit the majority of the population. On most issues I would say a minimum 70 percent. On some it would be as high as 90 to 95 percent.
Think about the issue of youth unemployment. This is cited as a cause of the upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia. The respective figures there were 22% and 27%. In the UK it is currently 20% and rising. In Lewisham it’s 36%.
I am a very reasonable fellow: I look at the facts and you can argue with me.
Perhaps you would prefer to deal with the people who made the video you enjoyed so much.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - I said put aside that issue, because what I think we are debating is not whether the ideas will be popular, but whether they will work. There are lots of good, unpopular ideas (such as road pricing) and lots of bad popular ideas (such as the war on drugs).

I think the key issue is whether your ideas are good. I, and others, have attempted to argue that they are not.

Anonymous said...

@David.s

Witch hunt, witch hunt?

Ask Lou about what being the subject of a witch hunt is really like.

Maybe Lou & George could form an alliance.

Brockley Nick said...

@lou - I am touched.

Elephant said...

Re: Anyone else finding BrockleyCentrals apparant witch hunt against anyone involved in protesting against cuts a little unsavoury?...

Yes, I agree as well. I also find Nick's problems with this group a little dubious. The group are stating their objections to certain policies, policies which are being decided by their elected officials. This is perfectly legitimate and desirable in a democracy. It is primarily the responsibility of these officials to register these objections and formulate/consider alternatives. It is not the responsibility of non-policy-makers to formulate policies.

Lou Baker said...

@elephant

But what is the alternative? You can object all you like but it's just hot air unless you can explain what you'd do differently.

What I'd do differently is cut much much more and much much faster. We have an incredibly bloated public sector which needs to be torn down and rebuilt to include only the things it really needs to do.

Brockley Nick said...

@Elephant - of course it's not their "responsibility" to come up with alternative policies, but if they don't, and they don't acknowledge the constraints that those who do come up with policy are under, why should we listen to their views?

Reddy Green said...

I remember Nick taking issue with Cllr Harris about the News Shopper's homophobic letters page. He wrote a couple of articles about that I think. I don't remember anyone calling that a witch hunt.

When the BNP database was leaked I remember local bloggers carried out an actual witch hunt of the people found on that database. Don't think this blogspot did that.

Two slightly piss-takey articles aren't a witch hunt.

Danja said...

It's more of a what hunt than a witch hunt.

Mb said...

Nick leads the anti-anti-cuts response. Lou is the chap with a beard. http://www.artstormfineart.com/Fox/Simpsons/SG24XL.jpg

Danja said...

Or possibly a watt hunt, given that some of the lamps do not seem to be burning very brightly.

Furious Gerald said...

Nick you provide a much more balanced view of this borough's events than any of our local newspapers do.
Keep up the good work.

Elephant said...

@Nick - the point isn't really whether we listen to their views; as I said, they are representing the views of people who are very much against the cuts to the council, whose responsibility it is to listen. Not sure they would care whether we listen to their views or not! You are free to present pro-cuts support to the council by whatever legal means you chose, should that be the agenda you'd like our officials to be aware of. Not sure that snidely undermining this anti-cuts group does that...

Brockley Nick said...

@elephant - OK, so we're agreed, free debate is a good thing.

Tom said...

@Nick, that's a great response about your political views. I've always regarded your light, engaged, courteous, but bemused view on local obsessives as highly skilled and don't see any reason to change.

(And no, I'm not Nick's friend or anyway related!)

@George - that's not a policy, it's a badly-thought-through aspiration. I'd like everyone to be rich, all diseases and illness to be eradicated and for everyone for all time to be happy for evermore, but, y'know, things don't just happen like that.

That you start from a rambling aim (manufacturing), which you struggle to define or even describe, and then assume that a heavy-handed statist policy is the only way to resolve this, without examining any unintended consequences, marks you out as an intellectual on a par with UKIP. Have they got a local branch?

max said...

I think it's a series of good threads, a perfect opportunity for the anti cuts campaigners to put forward arguments and a very informative debate for everyone reading it regardeless of where they stand.

If Nick wasn't making controversial posts these debates would not even start.

mb said...

Actually I'm not sure George has any problem with the feisty debate? The blog does publish his groups stuff.I suspect he's less offended then some of the pople complaining

Lou Baker said...

You will definitely not make people rich by pursuing the socialist agenda.

You make people rich by allowing them to make themselves rich - not by giving them handouts.

That means cutting red tape for small businesses. Making it easier to start a business and to hire and fire staff. Better schools. Universities where students understand the value of getting a degree. By lowering taxes so people keep more of their own money. By investing in R&D so the next must have items are invented here and not in Taiwan.

Handups, not handouts.

Brockley Nick said...

I guess my other issues with George's thesis is that it is of the "everything is shit" variety.

Britain is not broken and certainly was not in the decade preceeding the crash. Not everything was wonderful - there was a property and consumer credit bubble and BoP deficit was too great (I don't agree with Brockley Economist's complete dismissal of the issue). But unemployment was low, growth was decent and stable, inflation was low, schools and hospitals were getting investment, etc, etc and manufacturing output grew (even though it shrank as a proportion of GDP).

I know some people think it's fun to imagine that the end is nigh, wallow in pessimism and predict revolution, but I don't.

Mb said...

One mans handout is another’s handup. labelling those on benefits as feckless losers (not you Lou, but sly language about a 'lifestyle choice' does sow that seed) is unnecessary and implies that government bear no responsibility for those who need it. Not every one who is poor (and there is such a thing) is poor because they deserve it, in fact not everyone is rich because of brilliance and hardwork. There’s an awful lot of luck involved in the cards you are dealt.

HP said...

Do you think if we waste our days on the computer blogging, we'll miss all the cuts and other people's misery?

Whilst there is no shortage of Government Policies, I'd like to remind you that somewhere here and elsewhere there is talk the current government haven't sorted out the consequences of their policies. Don't get me to quote my source.

Anonymous said...

"the current government haven't sorted out the consequences of their policies"

Thats hardly an exclusive.

Brown Source said...

Don't get me to quote my source

Go on then...

Lou Baker said...

@mb

You're right. Not everyone who is poor is lazy and not everyone who is rich is hard working. Luck is unquestionably a factor. But you can make your own luck too ....

The poor pay far too much tax. No question. If we didn't take away close to around 40% of everything they earn in taxes then they'd be far less poor. But people like George demand this 40% to pay for loads of needless crap which they insist is entirely necessary. Much of it isn't.

Too many people think the only way to solve a problem is to chuck money at it. I think they are absolutely and completely and utterly wrong. Money is just part of the equation. For example if we spent much much more on early years education, on teaching ALL kids to read and write, to ensuring everyone left school with qualifications, to making sure all kids in care go to the very very best schools ... that would cost more money now.

But it would save huge sums in the long run - there would be lower levels of unemployment, fewer demands on the NHS, less crime, fewer prisoners.

That's why I think the anti-cuts brigade are wrong. They don't understand that money is not the only issue.

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George - I said put aside that issue, because what I think we are debating is not whether the ideas will be popular, but whether they will work. There are lots of good, unpopular ideas (such as road pricing) and lots of bad popular ideas (such as the war on drugs).
I think the key issue is whether your ideas are good. I, and others, have attempted to argue that they are not.

Let me paraphrase our exchange:
BN: I will not mention [insert canard] that completely destroys George’s case.
Self: But you just mentioned it. I feel I must reply [insert answer to canard].
And now the priceless repost.
BN: George, how could you lower the tone of the discussion by dragging in [insert canard].

Brockley Nick said...

George, it's not that do address the canards, it's that you don't address the main points.

You've said you'd fix the interest rates, some people have given strong reasons why that may not be a very good idea. Would you like to concede or refute those points? Or tell us any of your other policies?

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
I suggest the big problem for a relatively small trading nation like us is that if we start to make it hard for other markets to sell to us, they are likely to do the same to us. A trade war.

I suggest that your approach is too abstract.
Try looking at the concrete situation.

Here are the figures for 2009
County exports imports
UNITED STATES 33531 28451
GERMANY 24760 39131
FRANCE 17871 20226
NETHERLANDS 17379 21201
IRISH REPUBLIC 15295 12218
BELGIUM 10456 14771
SPAIN 8949 9088
ITALY 8196 11983
CHINA 5129 22840
SWEDEN 4106 5340
SWITZERLAND 3879 5724
CANADA 3615 5270

Now look at the balances in order of importance
County balance Balance as percent of exports
CHINA -17711 -345.3
GERMANY -14371 -58.0
BELGIUM -4315 -41.3
NETHERLANDS -3822 -22.0
ITALY -3787 -46.2
FRANCE -2355 -13.2
SWITZERLAND -1845 -47.6
CANADA -1655 -45.8
SWEDEN -1234 -30.1
SPAIN -139 -1.6
IRISH REPUBLIC 3077 20.1
UNITED STATES 5080 15.2

Concretely we have big imbalance with two countries: China and Germany.
If we could sort these out we would go some way to solving our balance of payments problems.
I propose we adjust our exchange rate to deal with our deficit. This is not competitive devaluation to increase our share of the world market i.e. it is a defensive not an offensive move. We would be trying to make ourselves long-term trading partners: I am sure that many foreigners would see this. It would hardly be grounds for a full-scale trade war.
If it came to retaliation the people with most to lose would be China and Germany, hardly the most popular people in the world. I would want to introduce special measures to protect the Irish.
Alternatively we could introduce tariffs on German and Chinese goods. (I won’t mention that this would make us popular throughout the world – I’m only interested in seeing if the idea would work.)

Brockley Nick said...

"Concretely we have big imbalance with two countries: China and Germany."

"This is not competitive devaluation to increase our share of the world market."

You can't selectively devalue against two countries - you have to devalue against the whole basket of world currencies. And yes it is a devaluation to increas our share of the world market - you want to increase exports. I don't share your view that the world would happily shrug this off. And you haven't adressed any of the other arguments, about inflation, etc.

As for trade restrictions on these two markets:

Germany - not possible without withdrawing not only from the EU (I know that's a policy of yours, I'm disappointed you haven't seen fit to mention it yet) but also from all European free trade agreements. Not only would this make it harder to export to our biggest export market (and hugely antagonise the EU) but it would make it harder to import German machine tools that every manufacturing nation relies on to compete. But that's OK, because we can start exporting to the big emerging markets, like China, oh...

China - you want us to unilaterally start trade wars with what in a short time will become the world's biggest export market? Great idea for our exporters. Or perhaps, rather than going it alone, we should ask our friends in Europe to join us in collective action, let's lobby the EU, oh...

Germany has such a large surplus because it joined the Euro, meaning that its currency value was dragged down by less competitive economies, giving it an artificially competitive currency - it capitalised on this phenomena by keeping a tight lid on wages, thanks to some relatively enlightened Unions. I take it adopting the Euro and Union reform aren't high on your priority list?

China has managed to develop such a large surplus by artificially depressing its currency in the ways you would like the UK to do. But it can only do this because externally, its trading partners are a) scared of it and b)seduced by the prospect of exploiting the world's largest domestic market and c) until recently, enjoying the glut of cheap goods that it was producing, helping to keep the world's inflation rates low and meaning we've all managed to enjoy a higher standard of living at the expense of the Chinese workers. For these reasons, we also put up with state-sponsored industrial espionage and flagrant disregard for intellectual property laws.

But why have the Chinese people accepted this? Because a) it is not a democracy and they do not enjoy the same freedoms of speech that we do b) they are a developing nation and see the long-term benefits of playing catch-up with the rich west. They've also got a much higher savings rate, not least because of the lack of an adequate state welfare system and because of the one-child policy.

I'm hoping that an authoritarian state, a one-child policy or destruction of welfare systems aren't high on your list of priorities either.

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
You can't selectively devalue against two countries
Obviously, which is why I mentioned trade restrictions on these two counties. I thought you might prefer this option.
you want to increase exports
I have described my policy as one of ‘import substitution’. In other words I want the British economy to produce things that are currently imported. This takes precedence over increased exports. If it comes to a choice exports should be reduced if this will ensure a more self-sufficient national economy. If you want an example think of agriculture – food security is more important than exports.
I’ve tried to make it very clear that my aim is to restore full employment. Apart from the social benefits, this would do wonders for the public finances. Full employment is, therefore, an alternative to cutting services.
I have explained how rebuilding British manufacturing industry to produce goods for the domestic market has a vital role to play in providing of jobs for the mass of ordinary people. The old policy of prioritising the interests of a handful of very highly specialised industries that rely on exports has failed to provide anywhere near enough jobs, hence my insistence on rebuilding manufacturing.
I have also explained how it is possible to control the exchange rate (to ensure a cheaper pound) and how this would create the condition for the revival of domestic industry.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile in far flung Lewisham...

In 2007 Lewisham's Chief Executive Barry Quirk produced a report wot he wrot.

Making assets work: The Quirk Review

An independent review, which looked at Community Management and Ownership of Assets....Community organisations can realise tremendous potential by taking on the management and ownership of community assets.

The Review looks at the barriers which may be standing in the way of more communities managing and owning assets and recommends ways we can create an environment to encourage more community management and ownership of assets.


Does the closure of 5 libraries indicate this report is worthless?

Anonymous said...

These canards...are they organic?

Brockley Nick said...

@George

OK, import substitution means harming businesses in those exporting countries - and if you devalue, you won't just harm other countries, you will give our exporters an "unfair" advantage.

"I have also explained how it is possible to control the exchange rate (to ensure a cheaper pound) and how this would create the condition for the revival of domestic industry."

You haven't at all. You have cut and pasted a description of the technical means by which governments can influence currencies (stuff which can be found in most A Level economics text books), but this does not create the conditions for domestic revival. Quite the reverse.

You can't interfere with your currency without there being knock-on consequences both economic and political.

You've ignored the point about domestic inflation, dismissed the point about trade war by saying that no-one would mind (a fantasy-land assertion that suits your own worldview) and proposed illegal and suicidal tariffs on two of our biggest export markets.

drakefell debaser said...

"hence my insistence on rebuilding manufacturing."

George, as a man from the midlands you may be interested in this..

http://ow.ly/46ZAY

Or this...

http://ow.ly/46ZFl

Or this...

http://ow.ly/46ZGf

Manufacturing in the UK is in pretty good shape so what parts of it are you looking to rebuild?

Tom said...

"I am sure that many foreigners would see this. It would hardly be grounds for a full-scale trade war."

This is comedy gold. George, are you sure you aren't a member of UKIP?

You seem to confuse “policy” with “goal” and then selectively choose only the most positive consequences of your suggestions and ignore all the negatives.

Supporters of free trade don’t just support free trade because today it makes sense. No, the argument for free trade is that it makes sense over the long-term, and for all countries. We can debate whether the price that is paid for that is too high – and that debate has been going on for at least 200 years – but given the argument’s long history you can’t simply pretend that an anti-free-trade line has no negative consequences. We have centuries of evidence to prove you wrong.

Import substitution sounds great in theory but in practice what it usually means is that someone – usually the consumer or government – has to subsidise loss-making industries.

“I’ve tried to make it very clear that my aim is to restore full employment.”

Full employment in the post-industrial age (and whatever you might argue, that’s where we are), is a difficult concept to grasp. According to the latest ONS figures, there are 30.2 million UK jobs, which is in with the five-year average, and historically – long-term – very high. This is not to say unemployment is not an issue (it rose in 2008 and has not fallen (or risen) since), but we are a long way from the 1950s-era of the primary policy goal being full employment of male skilled workers. And, as pointed out above, manufacturing industry in this country is doing very well (we remain the sixth-largest manufacturing nation in the world).

I could go on, but I wanted to be clear that your arguments aren’t being rejected because of some grandiose ideological battle, but because the arguments you are presenting are poor, unresearched and often out of date.

Stats from here http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_labour/LMS_Q&A.pdf

George Hallam said...

Tom said...

You seem to confuse “policy” with “goal”

"Words are wise men's counters; they do but reckon by them:
but they are the money of fools”

Leviathan

My dog has no nose... said...

Those 'Socialist Worker' Christmas Crackers were not a great idea.

George Hallam said...

Tom said...

Full employment in the post-industrial age (and whatever you might argue, that’s where we are), is a difficult concept to grasp.
Not if you are unemployed
According to the latest ONS figures, there are 30.2 million UK jobs, which is in with the five-year average, and historically – long-term – very high.
Only in terms of the absolute numbers. Relative to participation it is not that high.
More mothers are working but less men.
http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/work-rich-and-work-poor-three-decades-change
If you look at the figures it seems that since about 1980 men over 50 seem to have become strangely prone to illnesses that prevented them from working.

This is not to say unemployment is not an issue (it rose in 2008 and has not fallen (or risen) since), .
This understatement if full of unintended irony.
“The number of employees and self-employed people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 44,000 on the quarter to reach 1.19 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.”
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=12
but we are a long way from the 1950s-era of the primary policy goal being full employment of male skilled workers.
Yes and no.
True, we are a long way from the 1950s.
False, the primary policy goal then (and up until the early 1970’s) was not full employment of male skilled workers: it was full employment for both all males of working age and all un-married females of working age.
And, as pointed out above, manufacturing industry in this country is doing very well ).
Yet we are still below the level we were in 2008 (or even 2007).
I have been told that as anorexics see their bodies waste away the really believe that they are just becoming leaner and fitter.
The cheaper pound has undoubtedly created some splendid opportunities but we lack the spare capacity to exploit them. As a result imports continue to grow faster than exports.

(we remain the sixth-largest manufacturing nation in the world).
More by luck than judgement

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George
OK, import substitution means harming businesses in those exporting countries - and if you devalue, you won't just harm other countries, you will give our exporters an "unfair" advantage.


This is one way of seeing things. However, since we have consistently failed to pay our way in the world it could be argued that by maintaining the pound at a high rate our masters have given overseas exporters an "unfair" advantage to the determent of both our domestic producers and our exporters.

But who is worried about “fairness”? As the chairman of the British Bankers’ Association said, not so very long ago: “Life isn’t fair”.

Think carefully about what the reaction of other countries might really be.

If our trading partners care to think in the longer term they will see that if they carry on exploiting our weakness then we will be ruined and cease to be a profitable market. Easing off for a few years to allow us to “balance the books” is actually a rational policy.

Alternatively, your portrayal of me as a “suicidal” maniac who is poised to lead the UK into economic chaos could be very useful. If I (or some equivalent figure) ever became a real political force, a rival party could use me as a leaver to bargain with the international community for measures that would heal the balance of payments deficit and restore something that looked something like full-employment.

“Cut us some slack, or you’ll have to deal with George Hallam”

If you could convince, say, European leaders that my policies would wreak the havoc you seem to imply, then the prospect of a Somali- like Britain on their door-step might make them amenable to all sorts of concessions.
As a true patriot I don’t mind playing the “bad cop” to your “good cop” if it will bring the right results.

Brockley Nick said...

Good lord, as buddy cop partnerships go, that makes Turner and Hooch look appealing. Maybe Red Heat...

I mean, all very entertaining virtual diplomacy, but I genuinely hope you are only saying all this for laughs.

Meanwhile, there is a serious discussion to be had about industrial policy - but that has nothing to do with trade barriers, EU withdrawal or threatening China with the prospect of having to talk to George Hallam.

Tax incentives for capital investment, investment in university research, better skills education, investment in infrastructure, government-owned start-ups in high-growth areas, etc - even "grip and grin" support, as The Economist says in this feature about UK manufacturing http://www.economist.com/node/18233635

This is the stuff that matters. If you really cared about the UK economy, you'd drop the consipiracy theories and the services bashing and concentrate on the real. But that is harder and (for some) less fun than fantasising about a Britain being run in to the ground by a conspiracy of bankers.

odd said...

Is that Brockley Nick on Question Time? nope sorry it's Liam Hallaghan.

Brockley Nick said...

He's a strict monetarist, is he not? I'm not.

Anonymous said...

I preferred it when those running BC didn't openly state their political views and tried to keep BC politically neutral.

Brockley Nick said...

There was never such a time. I've explained the BC editorial approach to David above and that has remained consistent since the blog first began.

Anonymous said...

Earlier George was saying there was no need for cuts in Lewisham and pointed us to the anti-cuts website.

But none of the 5 steps would prevent cuts in Lewisham as the 5 steps are long term asperations.

When asked for more details of the 'tax gap' figures and does it include overpayments there was no answer.

Nothing I've seen from the anti cuts alliance suggests there can be no cuts in Lewisham's spending without setting an illegal budget.

The anti cuts alliance's immediate solution appears to be a change of government to be replaced by one that will reverse the cuts.....mmmmm.

Tom said...

George, it's difficult to debate with you because again you aren't really making any points.

You highlight that unemployment is up. I said this first. We’re in a recession.
Are you saying the state should borrow more from bond investors to subsidise public sector jobs? If so, please say it. As it is, your position appears cowardly, pointing out issues but lacking the rigour to follow through on the painful consequences.
Yes, the labour market has changed its pattern (fewer older men in the workforce, more mothers), you assume this is a bad thing but fail to explain why.
Manufacturing industry in this country has declined since the UK was a colonial power with near-exclusive rights to sell to dominions and colonies. Hardly surprising is it?
And the solution is for the UK to leverage its market power again to have asymmetric trade relations with other countries? And this will succeed with rich, powerful countries? European ones? Try it with Germany and you are effectively arguing for withdrawal from the EU.
“If our trading partners care to think in the longer term they will see that if they carry on exploiting our weakness then we will be ruined and cease to be a profitable market.”
Erm. Which sector of reality are you engaging with? Your world seems to believe that countries like China are beneficent and kindly, seeking to prioritise the interests of the UK over themselves.

“the prospect of a Somali- like Britain on their door-step might make them amenable to all sorts of concessions.”

Oh please. This is just insultingly ignorant. Have you ever been to a poor country?

George Hallam said...

Apologies to Brockley Nick – I read the stuff in the Economist – very interesting - I agree with most of the measures except the on tax (our current system if far to complex as it is, we need to make it simpler).

I’ve seen things like this before any they haven’t worked yet because they have never been backed up by firm Government support. If I had the power I would use such measures in the context of a favourable exchange rate.

Other wise,
Yes you are right, one possible scenario is that my policies could all go horribly wrong and unemployment could be even worse than it is are now.

It would all depend on timing and the balance of measures that were put in place. Its called the art of economics (John Keynes’s term – not to be confused with J.M. Keynes).

Yes. I take your point about inflation but no time to answer now.

George Hallam said...

Apologies to Brockley Nick

Sorry, that should have read:

Apologies to Brockley Nick for this brief reply

Brockley Nick said...

preferred it the first time :)

Anonymous said...

Full employment. Was that not one of the central policies of the post war Labour party. A reaction to the suffering that was experienced during the Great Depression and the Hungry Thirties?

I seem to recollect that a great deal of post war political rhetoric emphasised the importance of having a job and with it the economic power that it confers. Organised labour could deliver a political powerbase.

All very well, in an industrialised economy where a large porportion of the workforce is engaged in manufacturing and industry.

But the world changed.

Yes we have a successful manufacturing sector, but it employs a small fraction of workers compared to the past.

The service sector has absorbed this workforce. I believe 1.3 Million people are employed in call centres alone in the UK. Service often means one person interacting with another. It is naturally labour intensive. Most of the population in this borough work in private or public services.

Manufacturing has been commoditised. Factories are expensive, but you can build a factory anywhere. Unpack your factory kit and recruit workers then start churning out container loads of product shipped to customers around the world.

The fact that your factory is not in your back yard does not mean you cannot make money out of it.

Many of the factories in China are owned by foreign companies, further more the products produced are made under license.

Someone is getting a percentage on every widget that comes off the production line and it sold to a customer.

The design of products is sewn up by an intricate set of patents and licenses.

This is the pattern of the modern economy. Wealth creation is very much to do with the ownership of intellectual property rights. These figure greatly in international trade negotiations.

Drug companies, Media, Manufacturing, IT and Computing, Telecommunications, Electonics. Wealth comes from licensing and patent rights. It really does not matter where stuff gets made.

That is how the developed economy is these days. There is no sense in trying to recreate a pattern of industry and employment that has passed in the UK and the rest of the developed economies.

George Hallam said...

Tom said...
George, it's difficult to debate with you because again you aren't really making any points.
By point I suppose you mean positions or arguments.
If I’m not making any points then why are you bothering to answer?
You highlight that unemployment is up. I said this first. We’re in a recession.
Yes, we’re in a recession. My point is we need to get out of it.

Are you saying the state should borrow more from bond investors to subsidise public sector jobs? If so, please say it.

If thought I had made that clear a long time ago.
We’re in a recession. In a recession, government tax receipts fall and benefit payments rise resulting in a deficit.
At the same time households and firms are cutting back spending and investment: consequently savings exceed investment. Where is this money to go: under the mattress? Abroad? Or into a safe haven like...government bonds?
The government has a choice:
either
.cut spending to match its income – thus reducing demand and sending the economy even lower?
Or
Borrowing money from people who want to save and spending it to maintain (or even expand) demand in the economy– thus stemming the slide into the abyss of economic ruin.
I’m not a Keynesian but this seems an interesting way of looking at things. I would say: if you’re in a recession then carry on spending.


As it is, your position appears cowardly, pointing out issues but lacking the rigour to follow through on the painful consequences.
Yes, the labour market has changed its pattern (fewer older men in the workforce, more mothers), you assume this is a bad thing but fail to explain why.

When you get to my age you will see my point.

George Hallam said...

Anonymous said...
Full employment. Was that not one of the central policies of the post war Labour party.
?

Yes, it was a Labour Party policy. Indeed, it was also Conservative Party policy and Liberal Party policy. Full employment was an central to the post-War Consensus. The Labour Party dropped this commitment in 1976.

A reaction to the suffering that was experienced during the Great Depression and the Hungry Thirties?

Yes. Experience keeps a dear school but fools will learn in no other.

I seem to recollect that a great deal of post war political rhetoric emphasised the importance of having a job

A nice touch. The importance “having a job”, is not just “rhetoric”, its “political rhetoric”. How could anyone have ever taken the idea seriously?

All very well, in an industrialised economy where a large proportion of the workforce is engaged in manufacturing and industry.

But the world changed.


Are you saying we don’t need jobs anymore? Or are you saying that we can’t have full employment anymore.
If the latter, are you speaking as someone who works and is happy to support those who can’t be employed in this changed world of ours.
Or are you unemployed and content with your position?
If you are unemployed have you tried spouting this line at your local job centre. I have this image of you being interviewed.

You are lounging in chair with you feet up on the employment officer’s desk telling him (or her) in an easy voice that the days of full employment are over and it is quite unrealistic to expect you the get a job.

Coney said...

I think we are going to have to think the "unthinkable" (well it's not really unthinkable cos this chap said it first http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZTzPmn-87w ) but it's certainly unpalatable and potentially a dangerous move.

George Hallam said...

Tom said...

Manufacturing industry in this country has declined since the UK was a colonial power with near-exclusive rights to sell to dominions and colonies.


Is see: post hoc ergo propter hoc.
The problem with this is that the decline of our manufacturing was a considerable way “post” of the loss of our “near-exclusive rights to sell”.
We also have the case of Germany to consider. They lost their colonies in 1918 yet somehow they have managed to hang on to a bit of manufacturing industry. Could there be other factors involved?
Some economic historians think that North Sea oil and the high value of the pound had something to do with our problems.

Hardly surprising is it?

Given the dominance of the City of London I’m not surprising at all.
And the solution is for the UK to leverage its market power again to have asymmetric trade relations with other countries?

No. our existing trade relations with other countries are asymmetric. This is manifested in our chronic balance of payments deficit (you know, the deficit that our political masters don’t talk about).
My point is that, in order to survive we need to make our trade relations with other countries sustainable, i.e. more balanced, less asymmetric. Lowering the exchange rate is an obvious way of doing this. Otherwise we should impose tariffs and/or quotas, I’m very flexible.

And this will succeed with rich, powerful countries?


Yehp, I think it’s a goer. And I’m a coward at heart (or so people say).

European ones?

Yes, especially European countries.
Try it with Germany and you are effectively arguing for withdrawal from the EU.

Not really. The EU is even more flexible than I am. Do you remember the Growth and Stability Pact? We are about the only ones not in breach of it. The EU could well cut us some slack – if there is still an EU to do that. The Euro is looking shaky. If Germany makes a fuss they we could always expel Germany from the EU: lots of counties would vote for that. Come to think of it even the Germans might vote for it.

“the prospect of a Somali- like Britain on their door-step might make them amenable to all sorts of concessions.”

Oh please. This is just insultingly ignorant.


I think you missed the point (again). The “prospect of a Somali-like Britain” was a reference to the idea, put forward by my critics, that my policies would lead to retaliation by our major trading partners would wreck the British economy.
I was hinting that, if our trading partners thought that this was the only way to stop Britain devaluing a bit in order to fix its balance of payments then they might think the dangers of doing so might outweigh the advantages.
No insult was intended, on this occasion.

Have you ever been to a poor country?

Yes, several, in fact. You might say the experience shaped my view of the world.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of jobs out there that do and mean very little except that the employee draws a wage.

They have very little relation to productive work or the generation of wealth.

Much of what I have seen in large organisations seems to be 'make work'. Strangely similarly sounding departments and job titles. Endless meeting and reports. The organisation spending vast amounts of man hours talking to itself.

In reality many of the employees are simply not needed. Organisations take them on because they would otherwise declare huge profits and be taxed accordingly.

We should re-think what it is to be employed. This great division between those snugly in a job wasting the day away sending emails to each other and the unemployed - marginalised and excluded. This, I believe, is wrong.

We live in a different world now, but we still persist in the nineteenth century notion of work. It is an artificial cultural construct.

There is little dignity in honest labour when it consists of dealing with the tosh in your company inbox.

Imagine the manhours it all takes. It represents a measure of the redundancy of employment in the modern economy.

George Hallam said...

I hope people following this thread have been reading the FT.

Here is an excerpt from Tuesday's editorial:


"While everyone pays lip-service to the need for a safer system, not everyone’s commitment runs very deep. In recent months the financial sector has been lobbying ever more fiercely against structural change or higher capital requirements, arguing that the banks are pretty much safe as they are. Institutions have warned that further regulation would simply result in defections to less onerous jurisdictions. HSBC is talking to its shareholders about whether it should move its domicile to Hong Kong. Standard Chartered has hinted that it might do the same.
Such threats should be faced down, not just because they are unreasonable but because they are of questionable credibility.
It is not clear what “moving abroad” actually means. Were a bank such as Barclays to shift its headquarters, the impact on the UK would surely be minimal as it would still do much of its business and pay taxes in the country. What is more likely anyway is that rather than upping sticks altogether, some banks may reduce their new investments in Britain. This might make the City slightly less of a hot spot, but it would not be a disaster. And were it to be the price of financial stability, this would be a price worth paying.
It is hardly as if Britain has an under-developed banking sector. This remains enormous relative to the size of the country’s economy. The only countries that beat it on this score are Ireland, Iceland and Switzerland."

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e6ba9a6-49bd-11e0-acf0-00144feab49a.html#axzz1GBbRmJWJ

Pete said...

George, how would the manufactured goods that you want the 5 million new jobs to create compete with the same products manufactured in China, India, and other emerging economies?

Would you introduce import tarriffs and provide government subsidies?

I could be wrong but I think that these are both illegal under EU law.

George Hallam said...

Pete said...
George, how would the manufactured goods that you want the 5 million new jobs to create compete with the same products manufactured in China, India, and other emerging economies?

The 5 million new jobs is for the whole economy. This is what is needed to end involuntary unemployment in the UK. I estimate that over half of these jobs could be in manufacturing i.e. 3 million new jobs. Currently there are about 2.5 million employed in manufacturing. So the revived manufacturing sector employing 5.5 would mean still be smaller than the 7 million it used to be.

Would you introduce import tarriffs and provide government subsidies?

I think it could be done, mainly, by lowering the exchange rate of the pound. If some people decided to be difficult, then, yes, tariffs and import quotas (I prefer the latter) could be used. In some ways direct controls are better as they are more precise (we have huge trade imbalances with Germany and China).

A lower exchange rate would also be accompanied by some hefty ‘nudges’ (not to say ‘shoves’) to get firms to invest.

One idea is to set up a National Recycling Board to purchase recycled materials. This would involve a degree of subsidy but not, I think, in the way you imagine (it wouldn’t be an export subsidy).


I could be wrong but I think that these are both illegal under EU law. ?


Is that so? Fortunately, the EU is quite flexible about enforcing its rules.

Remember this is not an academic exercise, it’s a political policy. It could only be implemented if very large numbers of people in this country supported the idea of a return to full employment.

By ‘support’ I mean ‘active support’, not just ticking a box on a public opinion survey. Given such support our trading partners would realise that accepting a devaluation of the pound was the least worst course.

If the EU wants to make a issue of it then which is better to be in the EU but unemployed and to have a job and be out of the EU?

Brockley Nick said...

@George - what point are you trying to make by posting that FT excerpt please?

George Hallam said...

Brockley Nick said...
@George - what point are you trying to make by posting that FT excerpt please?
In the discussion some have my critics seem to have assumed that should we wary of upsetting the City (or indeed anybody in authority). I find it interesting that the FT feels that the banks have far less room for manoeuvre than is commonly believed and that we can afford to treat them for more forcefully.

Since my approach is based on a robust attitude to the City I find this is highly relevant.

Also, I don’t think the mainstream media has given any coverage to this editorial. It would be a pity if people missed it entirely, after all the FT is quite an influential paper in some quarters.

That’s enough points for now.

Brockley Nick said...

@George - there are a few things here.

1. I think HSBC's situation has been quite widely discussed, not only in The FT.

2. I think we need to distinguish between where they nominate as their global HQ and where they do most of their work. The really important thing is where they choose to locate most of their workers. That will come down to where offers the most competitive environment - I think what most people would argue is that we need to create the right policies on tax, regulation, education, immigration, transport, etc, etc to attract and encourage businesses to locate jobs here. The FT editorial's not really relevant to any of that.

3. You seem now to be accepting that the banking is a useful source of jobs. That's a start.

George Hallam said...

@Brockley Nick I think you’re missing something.

Institutions have warned that further regulation would simply result in defections to less onerous jurisdictions.
Such threats should be faced down..


The FT wants to change a part of the business environment to make it less friendly to financial institutions.

This is the FT, which has traditionally been the house journal of the City, challenging..well, the City.

I think what most people would argue is that we need to create the right policies on tax, regulation, education, immigration, transport, etc, etc to attract and encourage businesses to locate jobs here.

I think what most people would argue is that we need to create the right policies. The question is “what is ‘right’‘?” This comes down what your interests are.

We have a clash of interests here, not just between the top and us down here in Lewisham, but between groups at the highest levels. This is significant.

Brockley Nick said...

@George

"This is the FT, which has traditionally been the house journal of the City, challenging..well, the City."

But it isn't, it's questioning whether HSBC's possible move of its HQ is a big deal, so long as most of the actual work gets done here and arguing that the City actually has a lot to offer financial institutions - in other words it's arguing that we should call HSBC's bluff, because "financial services" is a lot bigger than one bank.

It's odd that you're latching on to one (misinterpreted) quote from The FT when they would shred your ideas to pieces.

I suggest you listen to yesterday's Bottom Line.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00z5zy9/The_Bottom_Line_10_03_2011/

In it, you will hear epxerts talk about:

1. The fact that Germany's manufacturing owes its success to competing in niches where products are less price sensitive.

2. Germany's success also owes much to the collaborative approach taken by unions, not the them and us attitude you displayed in your final paragraph.

3. Aggreko, one of the UK's largest companies, which is both a manufacturer and a service company - rendering the false distinctions you try to draw irrelevant.

4. Whether services or goods are the key to our export future - the answer? Both.

Danja said...

For those without a door through the paywall, it is worth quoting the following paragraph in that FT article, to put what they are saying in more context:

Please respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2e6ba9a6-49bd-11e0-acf0-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1GHid6GE6


While it is fine to be concerned about the competitiveness of the entrepot City, there is no value to an unstable financial system. The government should not try to compete on its willingness to allow dangerous practices.

Danja said...

Oooops bang to rights

George Hallam said...

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!


And in this new age the FT isn’t challenging the City and is only talking about where HSBC's has its HQ.

I think you’ve missed the point:

In recent months the financial sector has been lobbying ever more fiercely against structural change or higher capital requirements, arguing that the banks are pretty much safe as they are.

The FT, along with Mervyn King, want a safer financial system: the banks and other financial institutions are resisting.

Danja said...

It's a much more limited point than your general disparaging of the service sector and the City as a whole, so it doesn't actually give you any real support.

Let's say they do split investment banking from retail banking, so the implicit state guarantee for the former is taken away, will you be happy for the investment banks to expand rapidly in London?

George Hallam said...

Danja said...

It's a much more limited point than your general disparaging of the service sector and the City as a whole, so it doesn't actually give you any real support.

Please don’t fall into the trap of confusing arguing for full employment, which will require a revival of our manufacturing industry, with disparaging of the service sector.


Also don’t confuse the City with the service sector as a whole.

‘Services’ is a portmanteau category that lumps together all sorts of disparate activities (such as hairdressing, running a restaurant, writing software and driving articulated lorries).

Accounting and banking are also services that have a role to play in the running of a sustainable economy. Just don’t forget that these last two are, logically, ‘secondary activities’. As such they can never be replacements for primary activities, which include many ‘service’ actions as will as agriculture and manufacturing. I think I’ve made this point before.

Don’t confuse arguing for full employment, which will require a revival of our manufacturing industry, with disparaging of the service sector.

Let's say they do split investment banking from retail banking, so the implicit state guarantee for the former is taken away, will you be happy for the investment banks to expand rapidly in London?

I like investment banks so much I want Lewisham to have one of its own.

Danja said...

I haven't confused the two, I mentioned them both as I understand you not to think much of either - may I misunderstand what a not-real job is.

As to the secondary function point, logically it is true for an economy as a whole. We (UK) are very good at those functions in the global economy. If you lift the drawbridge and go for isolationist protectionism, then yes, we would have to scale them back drastically so they were in line with our domestic economy's needs.

So you'll need to plan to create a few more of those "real jobs" to make up for the lost ones as well.

Danja said...

I guess that the "investment bank" you want in Lewisham is not modelled on the likes of BarCap.

So I'll take that as a "no".

urbansurgery said...

im still up for a pro-cuts carnival.

George Hallam said...

@Danja In economics, ‘investment’ means an increase in the capital stock.

Buying/selling shares or creating financial instruments it is about transferring ownership claims.

This sort of activity, no matter how profitable it might be to those who do it, does not, of itself, increase in the productive capacity of the economy.

The sort of bank I want would arrange the sort of financing that resulted in an increase in the productive capacity of the economy. For example, it would actually assist small and medium sized firms.

I know this is a radical idea and represents a complete break with usual banking practice in this country, but I have a feeling it might just work.

urbansurgery said...

"This sort of activity, no matter how profitable it might be to those who do it, does not, of itself, increase in the productive capacity of the economy."

Though it delivers a sizeable chunk of tax revenue at little environmental cost

max said...

Does it?
I was always of the impression that people making huge amouts of money at little environmental cost were also good at doing it in a highly tax-efficient way.

Anonymous said...

Max, you'll find the average self-employed plumber, builder or taxi driver is also very tax efficient. Tax efficiency is not exclusive to the city, which through its financial services contributes just over 10% of the UK's tax revenue.

max said...

Yes, everybody's tax efficient, but only those that can afford a premier service can set up complex structeres to channel profits into tax heavens' registered companies.
Tony Blair can, Barclays can, but I never met a plumber based on Cayman Island.
There is a difference between trying not to pay more than you need to and getting away with it altogether.
The fact that the financial sector pays 10% of the taxes of this country is surely due to its size not to the fact that there is a highly developed tax-avoidance industry.

max said...

By the way, I'm not so sure that the City has such a small environmental impact.

The provision of services and financing to operations like mining, building, transportation, energy production, logging etcetera surely involves some envirionmental impact.

They may not get dirty personally but they take a cut of all these activities, and sometimes they make them possible in the first place, therefore they do have an impact.

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