Irrational debate and a misinformed public: “Red Ed” – is it really “back to the future?” (video)


To any sensible person that has bothered to study a little modern world history, socialism in the sense of the Marxist philosophy, was a great idea but not a practical one.  In the UK, especially in the 1970’s, we had a half-hearted quasi-socialism which was the worst of all possible worlds. There was industrial action on a grand scale with wildcat strikes, flying pickets, energy blackouts, dead bodies literally piled up on the streets and no sensible Briton would want to return to that sorry state of affairs.

And of course no one has suggested that we might do; no one that is except the right-wing media including the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and the BBC’s Sunday and Daily Politics!

Does anyone at the Daily Mail own a dictionary?

Does anyone at the Daily Mail own a dictionary?

This week Ed Miliband seems to have rattled a few right-wing media cages with his statement that the Labour party is a “Democratic Socialist” party. Of course the media, and former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil in particular, decided to focus solely on the word “socialist” and then to view the entire week’s proceedings at the Labour party conference through that red tinted prism. Thus every day this week The Sunday and then the Daily Politics have shouted the word socialist from the rafters and it has been clear that they had an agenda. Several times, starting with Rachel Reeves on Sunday, Andrew Neil & Co have asked various conference attendees if they or their party are “socialist”? But when the answer  has come back “Yes, democratic socialist” Neil and his associates have appeared to ignore the answer and claim that, if the speaker was a member of the shadow cabinet, they were resisting mentioning the word.

Andrew Neil and the rest of the right-wing media should familiarise themselves with some basic economics texts. Successful implementation of free market economics relies on a multiplicity of competing businesses to be successful and to generate the best outcome for society as a whole. Where a few companies dominate a market prices are higher, innovation is lower and, as we have seen, to our great cost, the excessive economic power of the dominant companies translates into cronyism and undue political influence. Hence we have regulatory regimes that entrench the position of the dominant corporations, tax regimes that allow them to pay no or little tax, poverty wages and politicians that take the corporate pound in return for legislating to support, or even improve, the companies market position.

Because the UK, like the US, has been engaged in a neo-liberal economics experiment for the last 30 years, both countries are amongst the lowest ranked in the OECD in terms of the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest in society (see the table below – rankings by CIA GINI).  For similar reasons, both countries also exhibit relatively low levels of social mobility – a situation that continues to deteriorate each year. However anyone that argues that society as a whole would benefit by narrowing this gulf in wealth and opportunity is accused by the right-wing press of being a socialist. As I explained in a recent post:

Any suggestion of a narrative that sees a better quality of life for all through less extreme income and wealth inequality (as convincingly demonstrated in The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett) for example is shut down with the accusation that the proposer must be a “socialist” engaged in “class warfare” – even when the proposer happens to be stock market investor and Forbes’ 4th richest billionaire in the world (net worth US$54bn) Warren Buffett!

If a party proposes to restrict the dominance of global companies and promote smaller businesses, that is NOT socialism, that’s capitalism being made to work in the interest of the many and not the few. It is the best way yet conceived to resolve both the massive wealth inequality and lack of social mobility that we are faced with today.

Reference:

Related articles

Wealth Inequality by Country Sorted By Level of Inequality (Ascending CIA Gini %):
*US & UK HIGHLIGHTED IN RED

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality

Country

UN R/P 10%[3]

UN R/P 20%[4]

World Bank Gini (%)[5]

WB Gini (year)

CIA R/P 10%[6]

Year

CIA Gini (%)[7]

CIA Gini (year)

 Sweden 6.2 4.0 25.0 2000 6.2 2000 23.0 2005
 Slovenia 5.9 3.9 31.2 2004 5.9 1998 23.8 2011
 Montenegro 30.0 2008 24.3 2010
 Hungary 5.5 3.8 31.2 2007 5.6 2002 24.7 2009
 Denmark 8.1 4.3 24.0 2005 12.0 2000 est. 24.8 2011 est.
 Norway 6.1 3.9 25.8 2000 6.0 2000 25.0 2008
 Austria 6.9 4.4 26.0 2007 6.8 2004 26.0 2007
 Luxembourg 30.8 2000 6.8 2000 26.0 2005
 Slovakia 6.7 4.0 26.0 2009 6.7 1996 26.0 2005
 Finland 5.6 3.8 26.9 2000 5.7 2000 26.8 2008
 Germany 6.9 4.3 28.3 2000 6.9 2000 27.0 2006
 Belarus 6.9 4.5 27.2 2008 6.9 2002 27.2 2008
 Malta 27.4 2011
 Belgium 8.2 4.9 33.0 2000 8.3 2000 28.0 2005
 Iceland 28.0 2006
 Serbia 27.8 2009 28.2 2008
 Ukraine 5.9 4.1 26.4 2009 7.6 2006 28.2 2009
 Kazakhstan 8.5 5.6 29.0 2009 8.0 2004 est. 28.9 2011
 Cyprus 29.0 2005
 Afghanistan 27.8 2008 29.4 2008
  Switzerland 9.0 5.5 33.7 2000 8.9 2000 29.6 2010
 Ethiopia 6.6 4.3 29.8 2005 6.5 2000 30.0 2000
 Australia 12.5 7.0 30.5 2006 12.7 1994 30.3 2008
 European Union 30.4 2009 est.
 Pakistan 6.5 4.3 30.0 2008 6.6 2002 30.6 2007–2008
 Armenia 8.0 5.0 30.9 2008 25.8 2004 30.9 2008
 Netherlands 9.2 5.1 30.9 2007 9.2 1999 30.9 2007
 Czech Republic 5.2 3.5 26.0 2005 5.2 1996 31.0 2009
 Estonia 10.8 6.4 36.0 2004 11.0 2003 31.3 2010
 Italy 11.6 6.5 36.0 2000 11.7 2000 31.9 2011
 Timor-Leste 31.9 2007 31.9 2007 est.
 Croatia 7.3 4.8 33.7 2008 7.2 2003 est. 32 2010
 Spain 10.3 6.0 34.7 2000 10.2 2000 32.0 2005
 Canada 9.4 5.5 32.6 2000 9.5 2000 32.1 2005
 Tajikistan 7.8 5.2 30.8 2009 7.8 2003 32.6 2006
 France 9.1 5.6 32.7 2008 8.3 2004 32.7 2008
   Nepal 15.8 9.1 32.8 2010 15.6 2004 32.8 2010
 Greece 10.2 6.2 34.3 2000 10.4 2000 est. 33.0 2005
 Bangladesh 7.5 4.9 32.1 2010 7.5 2000 est. 33.2 2005
 Romania 7.5 4.9 30.0 2009 7.4 2003 33.2 2011
 Kyrgyzstan 6.4 4.4 36.2 2009 6.4 2003 33.4 2007
 Azerbaijan 9.7 6.0 33.7 2008 9.5 2001 33.7 2008
 Ireland 9.4 5.6 34.3 2000 9.4 2000 33.9 2010
 Niger 46.0 20.7 34.6 2008 44.3 1995 34.0 2007
 Poland 8.8 5.6 34.1 2009 8.7 2002 34.1 2009
 Taiwan 6.1 2002 est. 34.2 2011
 Egypt 8.0 5.1 30.8 2008 8.0 2000 34.4 2001
 Albania 7.2 4.8 34.5 2008 7.2 2004 34.5 2008
 Latvia 11.6 6.8 36.6 2008 11.6 2003 35.2 2010
 Algeria 9.6 6.1 35.3 1995 9.6 1995 35.3 1995
 Lithuania 10.4 6.3 37.6 2008 10.3 2003 35.5 2009
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.4 3.8 36.2 2007 5.5 2001 36.2 2007
 New Zealand 12.4 6.8 36.2 1997 36.2 1997
 Benin 9.4 6.0 38.6 2003 9.4 2003 36.5 2003
 Mongolia 8.2 5.4 36.5 2008 8.2 2002 36.5 2008
 Laos 8.3 5.4 36.7 2008 8.4 2002 36.7 2008
 India 8.6 5.6 33.4 2005 8.6 2004 36.8 2004
 Indonesia 7.8 5.2 34.0 2005 7.9 2002 36.8 2009
 Uzbekistan 10.6 6.2 36.7 2003 10.6 2003 36.8 2003
 Japan 4.5 3.4 38.1 2002 4.5 1993 37.6 2008
 Tanzania 9.2 5.8 37.6 2007 9.3 2000 37.6 2007
 Vietnam 6.9 4.9 35.6 2008 10.0 2004 37.6 2008
 Yemen 8.6 5.6 37.7 2005 8.6 2003 37.7 2005
 Cambodia 12.2 7.3 37.9 2008 12.0 2004 37.9 2008 est.
 Moldova 8.2 5.3 33.0 2010 8.3 2003 38.0 2008
 Liberia 12.8 38.2 2007 38.2 2007
 Portugal 15.0 8.0 38.5 2007 9.2 1995 est. 38.5 2007
 Malawi 10.9 6.7 39.0 2004 11.0 2004 39.0 2004
 Mauritania 12.0 7.4 40.5 2008 11.8 2000 39.0 2000
 Mauritius 39.0 2006 est.
 Venezuela 18.8 16.0 44.8 2006 50.3 2003 39.0 2011
 World 12.0 2002 est. 39 2007
 Israel 13.4 7.9 39.2 2001 11.8 2005 39.2 2008
 Ghana 14.1 8.4 42.8 2006 13.7 1999 39.4 2005–2006
 Guinea 10.5 6.6 39.4 2007 21.6 2006 39.4 2007
 Burkina Faso 11.6 6.9 39.8 2009 11.5 2003 39.5 2007
 Jordan 11.3 6.9 35.4 2010 11.3 2003 39.7 2007
 Tunisia 13.4 7.9 41.4 2005 13.7 2000 40.0 2005 est.
 United Kingdom 13.8 7.2 34.0 2005 13.6 1999 40 2008-2009
 Mali 12.5 7.6 33.0 2010 12.6 2001 40.1 2001
 Turkey 6.6 4.6 39.0 2008 17.1 2003 40.2 2010
 Nicaragua 31.0 8.8 40.5 2005 15.4 2001 40.5 2010
 Turkmenistan 12.3 7.7 40.8 1998 12.2 1998 40.8 1998
 Morocco 11.7 7.2 40.9 2007 11.9 1999 40.9 2007 est.
 Senegal 12.3 7.4 39.2 2005 12.4 2001 41.3 2001
 Côte d’Ivoire 16.6 9.7 41.5 2008 17.0 2002 41.5 2008
 Russia 12.7 7.6 40.1 2009 12.8 2002 41.7 2011
 South Korea 7.8 4.7 31.3 2007 8.6 2005 est. 41.9 2011
 Burundi 19.3 9.5 33.3 2006 19.3 1998 42.4 1998
 Kenya 13.6 8.2 47.7 2005 18.6 2000 42.5 2008 est.
 Macedonia 12.5 7.5 43.2 2009 12.3 2003 43.2 2009
 Nigeria 17.8 9.7 48.8 2010 17.5 2003 43.7 2003
 Uganda 16.6 9.2 44.3 2009 16.4 2002 44.3 2009
 Iran 17.2 9.7 38.3 2005 16.9 1998 44.5 2006
 Cameroon 15.7 9.1 38.9 2007 15.4 2001 44.6 2001
 Guyana 44.5 1998 26.0 1999 44.6 2007
 Philippines 15.5 9.3 43.0 2009 15.5 2003 44.8 2009
 United States 15.9 8.4 45 2007 15.0 2007 est. 45.0 2007
 Bulgaria 7.0 4.4 28.2 2007 8.8 2005 45.3 2007
 Uruguay 20.1 10.2 45.3 2010 17.9 2003 45.3 2010
 Jamaica 17.3 9.8 45.5 2004 17.0 2004 45.5 2004
 Mozambique 18.8 9.9 45.7 2008 18.8 2002 45.6 2008
 Argentina 31.6 17.8 36.4 2012 35.0 2007 Jan.-Mar. 45.8 2009
 Georgia 15.4 8.3 41.3 2008 15.2 2003 46 2011
 Peru 26.1 15.2 48.1 2010 31.5 2003 46.0 2010
 Malaysia 22.1 12.4 46.2 2009 28.0 2003 est. 46.2 2009
 Rwanda 18.6 9.9 50.8 2011 18.2 2000 46.8 2000
 El Salvador 38.6 20.9 48.3 2009 55.4 2002 46.9 2007
 Dominican Republic 25.3 14.3 47.2 2010 29.4 2005 47.2 2010 est.
 China, People’s Republic of 21.6 12.2 47.0 2007 21.8 2004 47.4 2012
 Madagascar 19.2 11.0 44.1 2010 19.3 2001 47.5 2001
 Ecuador 35.2 17.3 49.3 2010 17.5 2006 Oct.[10] 47.7 2012 Dec.[11]
 Singapore 17.7 9.7 48.1 2008 17.3 1998 47.8 2012
 Sri Lanka 11.1 6.9 40.3 2007 36.1 2003/04 fiscal year 49.0 2010
 Zimbabwe 50.1 1995 50.1 2006
 The Gambia 20.2 11.2 47.3 2003 20.6 1998 50.2 1998
 Costa Rica 23.4 15.6 50.7 2009 37.4 2003 50.3 2009
 Swaziland 25.1 13.0 51.5 2010 25.4 2001 50.4 2001
 Brazil 40.6 21.8 54.7 2009 37.1 2007 50.8 2012
 Zambia 54.6 2006 50.8 2004
 Papua New Guinea 23.8 12.6 50.9 1996 23.8 1996 50.9 1996
 Mexico 21.6 12.8 48.3 2008 24.6 2004 51.7 2008
 Panama 49.9 23.9 51.9 2010 61.4 2003 51.9 2010 est.
 Chile 26.2 15.7 52.1 2009 32.1 2003 52.1 2009
 Bolivia 93.9 42.3 56.3 2008 157.3 2002 53 2010
 Paraguay 38.8 25.7 52.4 2010 65.9 2003 53.2 2009
 Thailand 12.6 7.7 40.0 2009 12.4 2002 53.6 2009
 Hong Kong 17.8 9.7 53.3 2007 53.7 2011
 Guatemala 33.9 20.3 55.9 2006 48.2 2002 55.1 2007
 Honduras 59.4 17.2 57.0 2009 35.2 2003 57.7 2007
 Colombia 60.4 25.3 55.9 2010 56.3 2008 58.5 2011
 Haiti 54.4 26.6 59.2 2001 68.1 2001 59.2 2001
 Namibia 12.8 56.1 63.9 2004 129.0 2003 59.7 2010
 Central African Republic 69.2 32.7 56.3 2008 68.1 1993 61.3 1993
 Sierra Leone 87.2 57.6 42.5 2003 87.2 1989 62.9 1989
 Botswana 43.0 20.4 61.0 1994 63 1993
 Lesotho 10.5 44.2 52.5 2003 48.2 2002 est. 63.2 1995
 South Africa 33.1 17.9 63.1 2009 31.9 2000 65.0 2005

 

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