4 thoughts on “Poverty in Britain, past and present”

  1. Posted 02/09/2009 at 10:46 | Permalink

    There seem to be three different kinds of ‘relative’ poverty:
    a. compared with other people in the same country
    b. compared with other people in different countries
    c. compared with people in the past (’a foreign country’, according to L.P. Hartley).

    Given that economic resources are scarce by definition, I wonder if it might be more productive to think about relative well-offness (I could say ‘wealth’, but that is perhaps too narrow a concept).

    I like the definition of ‘marketing’ that says it tries to make people feel dissatisfied. I tend to resist this; though possibly other people with the same level of incomes are more amenable. Are they really ‘worse off’ than me?

  2. Posted 02/09/2009 at 10:46 | Permalink

    There seem to be three different kinds of ‘relative’ poverty:
    a. compared with other people in the same country
    b. compared with other people in different countries
    c. compared with people in the past (’a foreign country’, according to L.P. Hartley).

    Given that economic resources are scarce by definition, I wonder if it might be more productive to think about relative well-offness (I could say ‘wealth’, but that is perhaps too narrow a concept).

    I like the definition of ‘marketing’ that says it tries to make people feel dissatisfied. I tend to resist this; though possibly other people with the same level of incomes are more amenable. Are they really ‘worse off’ than me?

  3. Posted 02/09/2009 at 10:52 | Permalink

    I suppose what I’m getting at is that the very concept of measuring different people’s subjective state of satisfaction is extremely tricky.

    Pandering to envy doesn’t sound very attractive; and the assumption that people have ‘rights’ (’entitlements’) to charity (such as transfer payments from the general body of taxpayers) is not one I have much sympathy for. I prefer voluntary charity to ‘coercive’ charity!

    I tend to detect ‘national socialism’ underlying many arguments for government interference. Perhaps Cowperthwaite in Hong Kong was right to resist the compilation of national income statistics in the first place.

  4. Posted 02/09/2009 at 10:52 | Permalink

    I suppose what I’m getting at is that the very concept of measuring different people’s subjective state of satisfaction is extremely tricky.

    Pandering to envy doesn’t sound very attractive; and the assumption that people have ‘rights’ (’entitlements’) to charity (such as transfer payments from the general body of taxpayers) is not one I have much sympathy for. I prefer voluntary charity to ‘coercive’ charity!

    I tend to detect ‘national socialism’ underlying many arguments for government interference. Perhaps Cowperthwaite in Hong Kong was right to resist the compilation of national income statistics in the first place.

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