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Unemployment - a potted version

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barbados
902218.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:28 am Reply with quote

I have had a little question worm running around my head, and has been for a short while. And I can't seem to get my head round the logic of it. So I was hoping that someone here might be able to shed some light on the matter.

The Labour party are, apparently, noted as the party of job creation. And the Tories are the party that kill off all the jobs and industry. Yet, if we look at what really happens it seems to be the opposite.

It would seem that up until 1973 we had virtually full employment in the UK, then in 1974 the Labour Party took over in 1974, and by the time the next change occurred we had nigh on a million unemployed. Then come the next change in 1997 the figure was at around 1.1million. Come 2010 when we had the next change in government it was hovering around the 2.1 million mark.

If you ask people why they think that unemployment is so high - and the answer is simple, it's Tory Policy to kick people out of their jobs, when if you look back over history - it all seems to come good in the end under the Tory side with all of their job decimation policies - yet under the job creating Labour quite the opposite happens. So how does a party get such an apparent conflicting reputation?

 
Moosh
902224.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:03 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
It would seem that up until 1973 we had virtually full employment in the UK,

In 1972, under a Conservative government, the unemployment rate hit 1 million for the first time since the 1930s.

Quote:
Then in 1974 the Labour Party took over in 1974, and by the time the next change occurred we had nigh on a million unemployed.

Between 1974 and 1979 the figure went up from about 1 million to about 1.5 million.

Quote:
Then come the next change in 1997 the figure was at around 1.1million.

So we're ignoring the two large spikes in the early 80s and the early 90s, both of which went over 3 million?

Quote:
Come 2010 when we had the next change in government it was hovering around the 2.1 million mark.

During this time it also went under 1.5 million (in 2001 and 2004-5) for the first time since the 70s.

Ooh look, I can selectively use numbers too.

 
barbados
902231.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:29 am Reply with quote

Yes we can all be selective with numbers, but that isn't the question. The response people have when unemployment is on the way up is nothing to do with the spike, it is well what do expect with a Tory government, but when you judge by the end of the term and when the change in government takes place the opposite seems to be the case.

Maybe the end of the term of power is not a fair time to look back and see how x has performed - it just appears a little odd

 
Moosh
902232.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:40 am Reply with quote

I think the answer is that people don't judge by the end of term numbers, people think about what it was like during the administration. Now yes, there's a certain element of that being unfair, since in fact the numbers will still have a lot to do with the policies of the previous government, and those of the current government won't really have come into force yet. But that's still what people do.

Here's a graph that I took off the BBC site (I'd give a link but I've lost it) and then coloured in to show who was in power.

The higher bits on the graph are in general when the axis is blue, and that's why people think the Tories create unemployment.

 
Neotenic
902238.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:48 am Reply with quote

Of course, it is palpably absurd to explicitly tie unemployment figures to specific administrations. A superficially cogent case could be built to either blame or congratulate either side for the peaks and troughs.

If nothing else, whilst governments may change overnight, legislation does not, and the effects of that legislation take time to percolate through.

The big spike of unemployment in the 80s was simply part of a wider rebalance of the economy from the post-war era into what is now modern Britain, and given the cold, hard economics of it, particularly in the coal industry, that would probably have happened even if Thatcher had lost in '79.

Sure, we could probably argue about it happening to a greater or lesser extent - but additional investment in coal to placate the likes of Scargill would probably have resulted in similar job losses in other industries instead, as the money would have had to come from somewhere. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that could well have been the military or arms industry. So, I suppose it would then boil down to whether out-of-work miners or out-of-work squaddies is more politically palatable.

I think it is also fair to say that this rebalance is what laid the groundwork for the relatively benign conditions that prevailed from the mid-nineties - but whether this happened because of, or despite of, the more detailed policy changes of the sitting government is open to question, as is whether this period of calm was artificially extended by an increasing reliance on public spending towards the end of the last decade.

 
barbados
902291.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:31 am Reply with quote

Whilst I can see the viewpoint of when to judge, but a lot of policies are a long term plan, and the overnight judgement is surely less fair?

Take for instance the current Bombadier complaint that by moving to Seimens the jobs are going to a foreign company hence the decision is bad. But the news at the time was that Seimens ( A German company) will as a result create around 160,000 jobs in the UK when Bombadier (a Canadian company) has to shed 100,000. So where is the loss? one foreign company takes over from another foreign company and employs 60% more people as a result. Yes the people of Derby might be a bit put out, but as a nation it is surely a benefit to have Seimens build trains isn't it?

 
nitwit02
902508.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:57 pm Reply with quote

In the meantime, Bombardier are building trains in China.

 
bobwilson
902509.  Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:15 pm Reply with quote

Isn’t this a bit of a daft question?

Barbados says in the OP that

Quote:
The Labour party are, apparently, noted as the party of job creation.


Well, I can create jobs – get one set of people to go around tipping up dustbins and then we’ll need another set of people to pick up the litter. Sorted. All those rioters last year – they all created jobs for window repairers, locksmiths, firefighters, police (not to menton the knock on effects on the employment prospects for media pundits, pseudo-socioliogists etc).

Isn’t it the fundamental principle of society to reduce the need for labour? We’ve spent the past few hundred years diligently inventing machines to carry out work for us – why do we still have this hang up about everyone being employed?

The basic problem isn’t with how many people are unemployed – it’s with how many people are not yet unemployed. In an ideal world, we’d all be unemployed and enjoying our leisure.

Even with the paradigm of current society – what do you count as “unemployed”? I’m acquainted with individuals who collect unemployment benefit but who do voluntary work – I’d describe them as gainfully employed. I’m also acquainted with individuals who spend their days shuffling notional sums from one company to another – I hesitate to say how I’d describe them (and you’d shudder to learn how they describe the rest of you).

Fundamentally, the idea of distinguishing between two groups of people who both share the common idea that “work” means “that for which you are paid” rather than “that which is useful” is about as helpful as deciding whether it’s better to open a boiled egg at the big end or the little end (apologies to Jonathan Swift – who pointed this out about 250 years ago although it doesn’t seem to have penetrated yet – I blame the public schools).

More specifically,

Quote:
Take for instance the current Bombadier complaint that by moving to Seimens the jobs are going to a foreign company hence the decision is bad. But the news at the time was that Seimens ( A German company) will as a result create around 160,000 jobs in the UK when Bombadier (a Canadian company) has to shed 100,000. So where is the loss? one foreign company takes over from another foreign company and employs 60% more people as a result. Yes the people of Derby might be a bit put out, but as a nation it is surely a benefit to have Seimens build trains isn't it?


The important question is whether or not an appropriate number of trains are built – not how many people are engaged in building those trains, where they’re built, or the nationality of either the workers or the owners of the company. (A legitimate additional question would be concerning the quality of the trains).

Surely the people of Derby should be rejoicing if somebody else is going to do the work for them? Wahey – we can stop doing the vacuum cleaning, washing, other mundane work.

It isn’t the loss of work that is lamented – it’s the loss of income. Still, a new opportunity has arisen – spellchecker for barbados. First correction – Siemens is spelt “ie” not “ei” – I trust my cheque is in the post?

 
barbados
902510.  Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:50 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
Isn’t this a bit of a daft question?

Well I suppose the chances are, if you're asking then the answer would be yes, but do continue..........................
bobwilson wrote:

Barbados says in the OP that

Quote:
The Labour party are, apparently, noted as the party of job creation.


Well, I can create jobs – get one set of people to go around tipping up dustbins and then we’ll need another set of people to pick up the litter. Sorted. All those rioters last year – they all created jobs for window repairers, locksmiths, firefighters, police (not to menton the knock on effects on the employment prospects for media pundits, pseudo-socioliogists etc).

We can all create jobs simply by asking someone else to do something we don't like - we just have to not like doing something enough to pay someone else to do it. Then all we need to do is find someone who needs the money more than they dislike doing the thing you don't want to. But there two flaws with the point you are making.
1)neither of us claim to create jobs
2)neither of us are political parties with given reputations regarding employment policies are we

bobwilson wrote:

Isn’t it the fundamental principle of society to reduce the need for labour? We’ve spent the past few hundred years diligently inventing machines to carry out work for us – why do we still have this hang up about everyone being employed?


It is a question sure , however it isn't the question being asked here. It doesn't even have any connection with the question raised initial, which isn't about unemployment it is about reputation. Still you've never let the point get in the way before so I suppose we should expect such tangents.
bobwilson wrote:

The basic problem isn’t with how many people are unemployed – it’s with how many people are not yet unemployed. In an ideal world, we’d all be unemployed and enjoying our leisure.

Even with the paradigm of current society – what do you count as “unemployed”? I’m acquainted with individuals who collect unemployment benefit but who do voluntary work – I’d describe them as gainfully employed. I’m also acquainted with individuals who spend their days shuffling notional sums from one company to another – I hesitate to say how I’d describe them (and you’d shudder to learn how they describe the rest of you).

Fundamentally, the idea of distinguishing between two groups of people who both share the common idea that “work” means “that for which you are paid” rather than “that which is useful” is about as helpful as deciding whether it’s better to open a boiled egg at the big end or the little end (apologies to Jonathan Swift – who pointed this out about 250 years ago although it doesn’t seem to have penetrated yet – I blame the public schools).


That may well be a basic problem, however it has no relation to the point being raised. If we were to be the ones that devised the formula for recording the number of unemployed then fine, don't count those that have more than the average number of arms who lie in on a Tuesday if you want. However the figures are collected by the statistics people (are they still the ONS?) and presented in a such way that ensures uniformity so that comparisons can be made. If you have the figures over the last 40 years for the criteria you set out then please, feel free to share. I'm sure they would be very very interesting indeed.
bobwilson wrote:

More specifically,

Quote:
Take for instance the current Bombadier complaint that by moving to Seimens the jobs are going to a foreign company hence the decision is bad. But the news at the time was that Seimens ( A German company) will as a result create around 160,000 jobs in the UK when Bombadier (a Canadian company) has to shed 100,000. So where is the loss? one foreign company takes over from another foreign company and employs 60% more people as a result. Yes the people of Derby might be a bit put out, but as a nation it is surely a benefit to have Seimens build trains isn't it?


The important question is whether or not an appropriate number of trains are built – not how many people are engaged in building those trains, where they’re built, or the nationality of either the workers or the owners of the company. (A legitimate additional question would be concerning the quality of the trains).

Surely the people of Derby should be rejoicing if somebody else is going to do the work for them? Wahey – we can stop doing the vacuum cleaning, washing, other mundane work.

There you go again, with your ignore the point and making it up as you go along kind of lifestyle. Now if only you would put a little more effort into reading the thread and working out what it is all about before you join in. Rather than opening a tin of alphabetti spaghetti empty it onto the table and copying the contents onto a page you may get taken more seriously, because surprisingly when you do make the effort to join in a conversation rather than interrupt one, you do make valid points - not necessarily agreeable to most people, but valid all the same.
bobwilson wrote:

It isn’t the loss of work that is lamented – it’s the loss of income. Still, a new opportunity has arisen – spellchecker for barbados. First correction – Siemens is spelt “ie” not “ei” – I trust my cheque is in the post?

I would agree about the spellchecker position, however the position is not the first to become available, that honour goes to the lucky person who directs bobwilson towards the point of a conversation. Might I suggest we contra the payments and settle with a simple journal entry?

 
Moosh
902517.  Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:11 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
Whilst I can see the viewpoint of when to judge, but a lot of policies are a long term plan, and the overnight judgement is surely less fair?

Yes.

But the media push the short-sighted view because they think no one has more than a 10-second attention span, so the politicians follow suit, and the public place the blame for whatever's happening at the moment on whoever's in power at the moment.

How to fix this? Make it mandatory that journalists may only report on topics where they know what they're talking about.

 
Jenny
902632.  Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:07 am Reply with quote

Definition of a journalist - somebody who can be expert on something for an afternoon.

 
Neotenic
902650.  Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:36 am Reply with quote

Of course the problem with this idea of people 'knowing what they're talking about' is that it is virtually impossible to measure objectively.

After all, it would be hard to argue that Friedrich Hayek or Maynard Keynes didn't know what they were talking about, but they would most certainly offer quite radically different interpretations of events, and solutions to issues, from each other.

 
suze
902683.  Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:52 am Reply with quote

nitwit02 wrote:
In the meantime, Bombardier are building trains in China.


And lots of other places too, it has to be said!

Yes, Calgary and Edmonton get their lightweight trains from Siemens and the Canada Line in Vancouver gets its trains from Hyundai. But I think that every other rail system in Canada (including the rest of SkyTrain) by now gets its trains from Bombardier.

 
bobwilson
904095.  Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:46 pm Reply with quote

Well, I've left this alone for a week now and the interest seems to have pretty much died off.

So, to answer barbados's post post 902510

I'd say I got it pretty well nailed in the first sentence of my post

Quote:
Isn’t this a bit of a daft question?


You wanted to make the point that Labour wasn't as good as the Conservatives at creating jobs (a point which Moosh and Neo between them have queried).

You criticise me thus

Quote:
But there two flaws with the point you are making.
1)neither of us claim to create jobs
2)neither of us are political parties with given reputations regarding employment policies are we


This doesn't demonstrate anything of value about the qualities of either Labour or Conservative administrations.

The Labour and Conservative parties can each claim to be the best at creating dancing fairies at the bottom of Peter Sutcliffe's garden for all I care; and you can drag out statistics to demonstrate that one or other is better.

It's utterly irrelevant.

No political parties claim to "create jobs".

 
barbados
904101.  Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:24 am Reply with quote

bob, again with the reading thing.

I never made a claim at all, I asked a question, thus.
Quote:
So how does a party get such an apparent conflicting reputation?


It isn't one party does better than another, it was why do people associate the reputation with a particular party. Reputations are all based on perception, people here for instance think you are a bit of a trolling idiot. Now one thing I am sure of is you aren't an idiot, but you still have the reputation. You look back over your posts and a lot of them are insightful, not stupid. But people only actually remember the bad ones. Do you see what I mean? you have a reputation, which is not a true representation of you as a person.

In the same way Labour have a reputation of being the party to create jobs, and the Tories have the reputation of being a party that does the opposite. It doesn't matter if the parties make the claim, it is what people think of the parties, and the logic behind that thought that is at question

 

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