Labour’s Foundation of the NHS and the Welfare State

Every now and then the Tories try to claim that Labour did not found the welfare state. They either claim that they did, or they try to minimize Labour’s role in its foundation by concentrating instead on the fact that it was based on the proposals made by Lord Beveridge in his report of 1943. But the NHS was effectively founded by Nye Bevan, who became the minister responsible for its establishment under Clement Attlee. Furthermore, the ultimate origins of the welfare state and NHS lay with the Webb’s minority report on the state of healthcare in Britain in 1906. The Socialist Medical Association demanded a socialized system of healthcare in the 1930s, and this was taken up by the Labour party. The Fabian Society in this period also produced a series of reports arguing for the establishment of what would be known as the NHS. Francis Williams, in his biography of Ernest Bevin, another minister in that great Labour government, also describes this process. He writes of the Labour party in the 1930’s

To most of its opponents at this time the Labour party seemed to be wasting its time on producing a whole series of policy reports which stirred little public interest and which seemed unlikely to have any practical administrative significance. In fact, however, these policy reports which, beginning with ‘Currency, Banking and Finance’, went on to ‘The Land and the National Planning of Agriculture’, ‘The Reorganisation of the Electricity Supply Industry” and ‘National Planning of Transport’ (all completed within two years of the 1931 defeat) and, continuing therefore, year after year, on almost every aspect of national policy including coal, iron and steel, a National Health Service, Education, Pensions, Unemployment, Industrial Insurance, Housing and Colonial Development, provided the party with the practical programme on which it eventually secured a parliamentary majority and laid for the foundations for the packed legislative programme of 1945 to 1950. (Williams, Ernest Bevin (London: Hutchinson 1952), pp. 182-3).

Now the NHS and the welfare state is being threatened by the Tories, the Lib Dems, and the Blairites. The present Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has pledged to restore the welfare state, renationalize the NHS, as well as part of the electricity grid, water and the railways. This is all very much needed, and it’s very far from being some kind of Communist programme, as the hysterical press and BBC would like us all to believe. It’s simply a partial return to the programme of the 1945 Labour government, which gave the country over three decades of prosperity and economic growth before the election of Thatcher.

Thatcher’s policies of privatization, the decimation of the welfare state and the privatization of the NHS has resulted in mass poverty. It has increasingly been shown to be threadbare. If Britain’s working people are to be given proper jobs, proper rights at work, continuing free healthcare and a genuinely fair provision for their old age, sickness and disability, we have to go back to the old Labour programme of the ’30s and ’40s, and get May and her profiteers and murderers out, and Corbyn in.

The changing nature of work calls for enhancing the human and financial capital of children in less wealthy families

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/12/2018 - 1:00am in

The Canadian federal government should enhance the human and financial capital of children in less wealthy families, enhance market incomes of lower paid workers, and enhance the security of working incomes by adapting three existing programs to new realities: widening their scope, making them more flexible, and making them easier to obtain.

The changing world of work is also a changing world of pay, a world that will likely lean toward greater wage rate inequalities, lower or stagnating incomes for the bottom 40 percent, and greater income insecurity for the broad majority.

I suggest three changes to current public policies that take incremental, but important, steps toward fostering capital accumulation among children from less wealthy families, increasing market incomes earned from that capital for the working poor, and finally enhancing income security for the broad majority.

These policies lean toward encouraging inclusive growth, in which the benefits of the new world of work and pay are broadly shared.

In this post I discuss the first policy proposal, which is:

Enhance human and financial capital by making community colleges tuition-free, and making the Canada Learning Bond more flexible

It is often and repeatedly stressed that the changing nature of work requires a more highly skilled workforce, and continual retooling and reskilling over an individual’s working life. “Reskilling,” “second chances,” “life-long learning,” are all repeatedly used catch-words. The federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth went so far as to suggest that charting a “path to prosperity” requires making Canada a “Learning Nation.”

If this is the case, if enhanced and repeated skills development is essential to both national and individual prosperity, then public policy should recognize this necessity and remove all financial barriers to the development of core competencies.

Just as the move from an agrarian to an industrial economy was accompanied and promoted by free primary and secondary education, so now the move from an industrial to a service economy should be accompanied and promoted by free technical education. Removing financial considerations from this third tier of education recognizes the necessity of skills for prosperity, and the need to continually retool and reskill.

The Canadian federal government offers important financial incentives for parents to save for the higher education of their children, but those directed to lower-income families are not all that more generous and tend to suffer from low take-up rates.

The Registered Education Savings Plan is the linchpin of these programs, a savings account in which the returns are tax-free but which must be used for education spending.

This program has a life-time contribution limit of $50,000. It clearly offers a tax benefit to the relatively well-to-do, those who have the security of being able to save. However, the Canada Education Savings Grant adds a mildly progressive element, offering a grant of 20 percent on the first $2,500 of annual contributions regardless of family income, and an additional 10 to 20 percent to children from low and middle-income families to a lifetime limit of $7,200.

This limit amounts to somewhere between one and two years of tuition for some programs in some community colleges. The Canada Learning Bond enhances these benefits for low-income families by a maximum of $2,000: $500 for each child at birth, and $100 for each year until 15 years of age. The parents must have a Registered Education Savings Plan for the child, but need not make any contributions.

However, this money is left on the table by many, the take-up rate for the Canada Learning Bond, though growing, most recently amounting to only about one-third of eligible children, though there may be reason to question this figure.

Current government policy aims to give parents more information about approaching a financial institution in order to open an account, with some innovative policies being piloted by Budget 2018. The administrative hurdles to making this program automatic, simply opening an account on the parents’ behalf and contributing the funds in escrow, seem to be—so government officials tell me—too challenging.

Take up rates are low, in part because low-income, childbirth, and other worries are important stressors on parents … they simply have a lot of other things to worry about, and it is much easier to put off a decision about saving for a distant future.

Research has shown how we all, rich or poor, are subject to a limited “cognitive bandwidth,” and that those living in poverty are particularly prone to discounting future benefits. While policies intended to offer more information about how to apply for savings programs make sense, they are no substitute for automatic enrollment. Making community college free can be considered as amounting to auto-enrollment, removing the need to make a decision about benefits that will only be realized decades down the road.

This said, it may well be that some parents consider themselves to be making a “rational” decision from their point of view by not saving for their child’s post-secondary education. After all, there is an optimal level of schooling that varies between individuals. The design of the Canada Learning Bond does not recognize this, offering no flexibility on how the funds can be used.

The rate of return to education varies between people, but for everyone falls with more and more education. Being able to read and write and demonstrate basic numeracy will add a good deal more to your income than being able to do differential calculus and obtaining a PhD in economics. Somewhere in between these extremes the return to an extra year of schooling falls below the return to investing in financial or other physical assets, and should at that point stop. Beyond this point investments should be made in financial capital.

Perhaps parents, rightly or wrongly, sense this. But whether they do or not, their children as adults will be best placed to decide whether they should use what capital they have to further their education, or to invest in a new home, or use it for other things. The lack of flexibility in the use of the Canada Learning Bond lends a paternalistic aspect to the policy.

Remember, the federal government gives people with higher incomes a good deal more flexibility when subsidizing their savings, offering tax-based incentives not just for education, but also for a first home and retirement through Registered Retirement Savings Plans, or basically anything at all through Tax-Free Savings Accounts, which can be used by well-to-do parents to enhance the financial assets of their children.

The changing world of pay will lead to a changing world of wealth, and part of developing an inclusive society involves promoting the wealth of those from less-well-to-do families. Wealth should be understood to be based on both human and financial capital.

The Canada Learning Bond is an existing policy that can be more generous and more flexible to promote financial wealth in the manner that US Senator Cory Booker has suggested. His proposal for “opportunity accounts” embody the spirit of the Canada Learning Bond, but are more accessible in offering auto-enrollment, and more flexible in offering opportunities to invest in education or in a home or for retirement.


My arguments in this post expand a presentation called “The Changing Nature of Pay: Three Policy Proposals,” that I made to the Queen’s Institute on Social Policy at Queen’s University in August 2018.  The other proposals are the subject of future posts and include: enhancing in-work income support by growing the Canada Workers Benefit and integrating it with the Working While on Claim Provisions of Employment Insurance; and offering wage insurance by enhancing the Targeted Earnings Supplement and making it an accessible component of regular Employment Insurance benefits.

These proposals are hardly a complete public policy package for the changing world of pay, but they are feasible and can be quickly implemented since they build upon existing policies that either are not broad enough in scope or purpose, not carefully and seamlessly integrated with other policies, or are not appropriately targeted and delivered.

Download the presentation as a pdf, and watch it here:


I am grateful to officials at Employment and Social Development Canada who prepared a series of helpful background documents. You can load the document on the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond as a pdf.

The Sky At Night Looks at Britain in Space

I just managed to catch the weekday repeat a day or so ago of this month’s Sky at Night, in which presenters Maggie Aderin-Pocock and British astronaut Tim Peake looked at the history of Britain in space, and forward to the country’s future in the deep black. The programme’s changed a bit over the past few years in the case of its presenters. It was famously presented by Sir Patrick Moore from its beginning in the 1950s until he passed away a few years ago. This made the programme the longest-running show presented by the same person. Aderin-Pocock joined it before Moore’s departure. She’s a black woman scientist, with a background in programming missile trajectories. She’s obviously very intelligent, enthusiastic and very definitely deserves her place on the show. But I wish she’d done a job that didn’t involve the military use of rocket technology, however much this is needed as part of national defence.

Aderin-Pocock was speaking to one of the management officials from Orbex, a new, British company, which has developed a rocket launcher and intends to open a spaceport in one of the more deserted areas of Scotland. The rocket will stand about 17 meters tall, using propane and High Test Peroxide as fuel. High Test Peroxide is a highly concentrated version of the hydrogen peroxide used by hairdressers to bleach peoples’ hair. The use of propane is particularly important, as it’s lighter than conventional rocket fuels, meaning that the rocket doesn’t have to carry as much fuel to lift off into space. Advances in satellite design have also allowed the rocket to be smaller than other spacecraft used elsewhere. British universities have succeeded in developing microsatellites – satellites that are much, much smaller than some of the satellites put into orbit, but which can perform the same functions. As these satellites are smaller and lighter, they only need a relatively smaller, lighter rocket to launch them.

The Scottish launch complex also wasn’t going to be as big as other, larger, major launch complexes, such as those of NASA, for example. I think it would still contain a launch tower and control buildings. As well as the official from Orbex, the show also talked to a woman representing the rural community in the part of Scotland, where they were planning to build it. She admitted that there would be problems with building it in this part of the Scots countryside. However, the community was only going to lease the land, not sell it to Orbex, and care would be taken to protect the farms of the local crofters and the environment and wildlife. Like much of rural Britain, this was an area of few jobs, and the population was aging as the young people moved away in search of work. She looked forward to Orbex and its spaceport bringing work to the area, and creating apprenticeships for the local young people.

The programme went on to explain that this would be the first time for decades that a British company was going to build a British rocket to launch a British satellite. From what looked the British space museum in Manchester, Time Peake stood under the display of Britain’s Black Knight rocket and the Prospero satellite. He explained how the rocket launched the satellite into space from Australia in 1975. However, the project was then cancelled, which meant that Britain is the only country so far which has developed, and then discarded rocket technology.

But Black Knight wasn’t the only space rocket Britain developed. Peake then moved on to talk about Skylark, a massively successful sounding rocket. Developed for high altitude research, the rocket reached a maximum of altitude of 400 km in the few minutes it was in flight. At its apogee – its maximum distance from Earth – the vehicle briefly experienced a few minutes of zero gravity, during which experiments could be performed exploring this environment. The Skylark rocket was used for decades before it was finally cancelled.

Aderin-Pocock asked the official from Orbex how long it would be before the spaceport would be up and running. The manager replied that this was always an awkward question to answer, as there was always something that meant operations and flights would start later than expected. He said, however, that they were aiming at around the end of 2020 and perhaps the beginning of 2021.

Orbex are not, however, the only space company planning to open a spaceport in Britain. Virgin Galactic have their own plans to launch rockets in to space from Cornwall. Their vehicle will not, however, be launched from the ground like a conventional rocket, but will first be carried to a sufficiently high altitude by an airplane, which would then launch it. I’m not a betting man, but my guess is that of the two, Orbex is the far more likely to get off the ground, as it were, and begin launching its rocket on schedule. As I’ve blogged about previously, Branson has been telling everyone since the late 1990s at least, that Virgin Galactic are going to be flying tourists into space in just a few months from now. This fortnight’s Private Eye published a brief list of the number of times Branson had said that, with dates. It might be that Branson will at last send the first of his aspiring astronauts up in the next few months, as he claimed last week. But from his previous form, it seems far more likely that Orbex will start launches before him, as will Branson’s competitors over the pond, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

When asked about the company’s capability of perfecting their technology, Orbex’s manager not stressed the skill and competence of the scientists, technicians and engineers working on the project. This included not just conventional space scientists, but also people, who had personally tried and failed to build their own spacecraft. He said that it was extremely important to fail to build rockets. He’s obviously referring to the many non-professional, hobby rocketeers out there trying to build their own spacecraft. He didn’t mention them, but one example would be the people at Starchaser, who started out as a small group of enthusiasts in Yorkshire but have gone on to create their own space company, now based across the pond in America. I think it’s brilliant that amateurs and semi-professionals have developed skills that the professionals in the industry find valuable. And the failures are important, as they show what can go wrong, and give the experience and necessary information on how to avoid it. I don’t think the rocket will be wholly built in this country. The manager said that some of it was being constructed in Copenhagen. This sounds like Copenhagen Suborbitals, a Danish team of rocket scientists, who are trying to put a person into space. They’re ex-NASA, I believe, but it’s a small, private venture. They have a webpage and have posted videos on YouTube, some of which I’ve reblogged. They’ve also said they’re keen for people to join them, or start their own rocket projects.

I’d been looking forward to that edition of the Sky at Night for the past week, but when the time came, it slipped my mind that it was on. I’m very glad I was able to catch it. If Orbex are successful, it will be the first time that a British satellite will launch a British satellite from here in Britain. And it sounds really optimistic. Not only will Britain be returning to space rocket development, but the Scots spaceport sounds like it will, hopefully, bring work to a depressed area. I’m also confident that the local environment there will also be preserved. The launch complex around NASA is necessarily so remote from other buildings, that it’s actually become a wildlife haven. So much so that it’s now a location for birdwatching.

When it was announced that they were planning to build a new spaceport in Scotland, I assumed it would be for Skylon, the British spaceplane. There had been articles in the paper about the spacecraft, which stated that it would be launched either from Scotland or Cornwall. It seems I was wrong, and that it’s Orbex’s rocket which will be launched there instead. But nevertheless, I wish Orbex every success in their venture, and hope that sometime soon Skylon will also join them in flight out on the High Frontier.

Faculty Job Security & Academic Freedom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 12:48am in


employment, Jobs

Seventy-three percent of faculty at institutions of higher education in the United States are neither tenured nor on the tenure-track, according to a new report from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Table from “Data Snapshot: Contingent Faculty in US Higher Ed” from AAUPAs you can see in the table, above (from their report), even at R1 universities, roughly 70% of the faculty are non-tenured or non-tenure-track (approximately 27% full-time non-tenure-track. 15% part-time, and 28% graduate student employees).

The report also notes that, of the full-time non-tenure track faculty, 38 percent are on annual contracts, 20 percent are on multi-year contracts, 38 percent are on  indefinite/at-will contracts (38 percent), and 4 percent work on contracts of less than a year.

The authors of the report remind us that “tenure protects academic freedom by insulating faculty from the whims and biases of administrators, legislators, and donors, and provides the security that enables faculty to speak truth to power and contribute to the common good through teaching, research, and service activities.”

(via Inside Higher Ed)

The post Faculty Job Security & Academic Freedom appeared first on Daily Nous.

10 years after the financial crisis and its lasting effects on Americans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/10/2018 - 2:00am in

By Breshay Moore.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis. Although the crisis is remembered for foreclosures, bank failures and bailouts, many American citizens are still unaware of what caused it. Understanding this is important to prevent future crises and think about what kind of financial system we want to have: one that serves people and invests in communities, or one that enriches a handful of wealthy bankers and money managers while making our economy less fair and safe for the rest of us.

In simple terms, the financial crisis was a result of deregulation of the financial sector, and reckless and predatory practices by greedy financial players all across the board, from mortgage lenders to Wall Street traders to the largest credit rating agencies.

In the lead-up to the crisis, mortgage lenders were engaging in fraudulent and deceptive sales practices to make toxic mortgage loans to home buyers, which they knew the borrowers could not afford. Predatory lenders particularly targeted people of color, especially women of color, for these higher-rate loans. Meanwhile, these risky mortgages were packaged and sold to investors around the world, becoming implanted throughout the financial system. The economy went into a recession in late 2007, defaults on mortgage payments increased and housing prices plummeted, resulting in billions of dollars in mortgage losses. This had a chain reaction in the financial system because of the number of financial institutions that had stakes in the housing market. These string of events shook the entire economy, fueling the worst recession in the US since the Great Depression.

Millions of families lost their homes or jobs. Median wealth among households fell tremendously: From 2005 to 2009, median wealth among Hispanic households fell by 66 percent, by 53 percent among Black households, by 31 percent among Asian households, and by 16 percent among white households. Millions of people also suffered major drops in income, property values, retirement savings, and general economic well-being. The crisis produced lasting effects. Families are still struggling economically, especially in communities of color.

After all the damage was done, no one was held accountable. Financial players made billions of dollars in bonuses and profits. Instead of helping the communities that were most affected, Congress and The Federal Reserve began bailing out big banks with public money. We recently learned that 30 percent of the lawmakers and 40 percent of the top staffers involved in the congressional response to the crisis have since gone to work for Wall Street.

In 2010 President Barack Obama introduced legislation containing important reform measures in response to the crisis. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act created rules to protect consumers and regulate the financial industry. This law created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to promote transparency and fairness in the consumer-finance industry, and to holding financial institutions accountable for engaging in predatory and discriminatory practices. This independent agency has done a lot for consumers, and has returned more than $12 billion in relief to more than 29 million cheated consumers.

In return for all the money that Wall Street has poured into political campaigns and lobbying, President Trump and Congress have been working hard to undo rules that  regulate the financial sector. Countless bills have been introduced and passed in Congress to deregulate banks and lenders. One of these bills, S. 2155, which became law in May, not only increases the risk of future financial disasters and bank bailouts, but makes it easier for mortgage lenders to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity and gender. Sixteen Democrats and an Independent supported the GOP in pushing this deregulatory bill. The vote did not go unnoticed and public sentiment is not on their side.  In fact, 88 percent of all likely voters — across party  lines — support holding financial companies accountable if they discriminate against people because of their race or ethnicity. And 64 percent of voters think big banks and finance companies continue to require tough oversight to avoid another financial crisis.  

The lack of restrictions on banks and other financial institutions put consumers and the economy at risk. The 10th anniversary of the financial crisis should encourage us to redouble our efforts to push for changes to our financial system so that it works for us not just for Wall Street.


Breshay Moore is a Senior at Towson University, studying Advertising and Public Relations. She was recently a Communications and Campaign intern for Americans for Financial Reform.

The post 10 years after the financial crisis and its lasting effects on Americans appeared first on Economic Questions .

Job Prospects for Philosophy Majors: Perception and Reality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/09/2018 - 12:24am in

The number of philosophy majors in the U.S. is down 35% since its recent peak in 2007, and today, philosophy majors make up only around 0.137% of the student population.

These figures, based on data from Humanities Indicators, are among those discussed in a recent article in The Atlantic by Benjamin Schmidt, assistant professor of history at Northeastern University.

Over the past decade there has been a significant decline in the numbers of all humanities majors, as the following graph depicts.

Graph from The Atlantic, based on data from Humanities Indicators

And while the longer view (in the graph below) shows that the numbers in philosophy are less volatile than in some of the other humanities disciplines, there is the possibility that the recent steeper decline can be informative for those interested in the long term prospects of philosophy offerings in U.S. colleges and universities.

Graph from The Atlantic, based on data from Humanities Indicators

Professor Schmidt thinks that the culprit is not a general sudden decline in people being interested in the humanities, nor is it politics (“Do you think students are put off by liberal pieties in the classroom? It’s difficult to square that argument with the two decades of stability that followed the beginning of the culture wars in the late 1980s”).

Rather, he says: “In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, students seem to have shifted their view of what they should be studying—in a largely misguided effort to enhance their chances on the job market… Students fled the humanities after the financial crisis because they became more fearful of the job market.”

The students are misinformed, he argues. The “actual career prospects of humanities majors” don’t do the explanatory work:

Evidence does indicate that humanities majors are probably slightly worse off than average—maybe as much as one more point of unemployment and $5,000 to $10,000 a year in income. Finance and computer-science majors make more; biology and business majors make about the same. But most of the differences are slight—well within the margins of error of the surveys. One analysis actually found that humanities majors under the age of 35 are actually less likely to be unemployed than life-science or social-science majors. Other factors, like gender, matter more: Men with terminal humanities B.A.’s make more money than women in any field but engineering. Being the type of person inclined to view a college major in terms of return on investment will probably make a much bigger difference in your earnings than the actual major does.

In other areas of the economy, we view these kinds of differences with equanimity. The difference between humanities majors and science majors, in median income and unemployment, seems to be no more than the difference between residents of Virginia and North Carolina. If someone told to me not to move to Charlotte because no one there can make a living, I would never take them seriously. But worried relatives express the same concerns about classics majors every day, with no sounder evidence.

This suggests that efforts by philosophers, philosophy departments, and organizations such as the American Philosophical Association to provide more information about the employment prospects of philosophy majors could be an effective part of a strategy for increasing the number of students studying philosophy—especially since philosophy majors seem to do pretty well compared to other humanities majors.

The post Job Prospects for Philosophy Majors: Perception and Reality appeared first on Daily Nous.

Real US Wages Are Essentially Back At 1974 Levels, Pew Reports

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 12:00am in


Jobs, wages

On the face of it, these should be heady times for American workers. U.S. unemployment is as low as it’s been in nearly two decades (3.9% as of July) and the nation’s private-sector employers have been adding jobs for 101 straight months – 19.5 million since the Great Recession-related cuts finally abated in early 2010, and 1.5 million just since the beginning of the year. But despite the strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations. In fact, despite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago.

Imagining A World With Bo Bullshit Jobs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/08/2018 - 6:00am in


Jobs, unions

In this interview about his latest book, David Graeber discusses the role of unions, the challenges posed by automation and “the revolt of the caring classes.” Is your job pointless? Do you feel that your position could be eliminated and everything would continue on just fine? Maybe, you think, society would even be a little better off if your job never existed? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then take solace. You are not alone. As much as half the work that the working population engages in every day could be considered pointless, says David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and author of Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.

Stagnation Nation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/07/2018 - 5:00pm in

Real wages since 2006 are down - and getting much worse. But hey, look on the bright side!

‘Do What You Love’ Mantra Makes People Feel Like Failures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/10/2015 - 10:25am in