Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moron of the Week: Edward Leigh MP

Via Dick Puddlecote, I find this discussion on the proposed Employment Opportunities Bill in which we see Philip Davies MP questioning the wisdom of the National Minimum Wage*.

Surely one of the most outrageous interventions ever sees some fuckwit arsehole Conservative named Edward Leigh spouting the following offensive crap.
My hon. Friend is making an important contribution and it is important that we have this debate, but let me ask him a question as a critical friend. Let us forget the fact that there is a minimum wage at the moment. Why should a disabled person work for less than £5.93 an hour? It is not a lot of money, is it?

First, no, £5.93 per hour is not a lot of money—so why the bloody hell does your government tax those earning that small amount of cash?

Second, someone has to create that job for that person—disabled or otherwise. And that "employer" (as we call them, Edward), actually has to pay 13.8% on top of the £5.93, bringing the rate of pay up to £6.75 (plus, of course, sundry other costs—most of which carry other large taxes).

Third, who the hell are you to decide what wage someone is willing to work for? If a disabled person wishes to work for less than the minimum wage (because the alternative is no work at all) then why the fuck should you be able to intervene in a mutually-agreed, private contract?

And, fourth, the real point is that a great many disabled people—and, indeed, a great many non-disabled people—do not work because of that minimum wage, and they never will.

Why?

Because their labour is worth less than £6.75 per hour: and these people will never, ever get a job (not, I'll grant you, that someone of your background will appreciate). And, as Jackart so rightly points out (in a detailed post on this subject), that means that they will never get the training or the experience that might lead to them ever earning more than a pittance.

So, with all due respect**, Edward (and with reference to your attitude on gays), why don't you take your "question as a critical friend" and shove it up your arse?

* It's national. That makes it completely fucking stupid before we even consider its other iniquities.

** Inevitably, none.

32 comments:

John Demetriou said...

Spot on.
Nuff said.

JuliaM said...

"Second, someone has to create that job for that person—disabled or otherwise. And that "employer" (as we call them, Edward), actually has to pay 13.8% on top of the £5.93, bringing the rate of pay up to £6.75 (plus, of course, sundry other costs—most of which carry other large taxes)."

Jeremy Vine's show yesterday was a total car-crash when debating this very subject. No-one mentioned it. Not one single caller.

No, it was all the fault of the greedy businessman who wanted to exploit the poor and disabled.

Suboptimal Planet said...

Well said, DK.

Xopher said...

"Third, who the hell are you to decide what wage someone is willing to work for? If a disabled person wishes to work for less than the minimum wage (because the alternative is no work at all) then why the fuck should you be able to intervene in a mutually-agreed, private contract?"

Wrong in one detail - Anyone can work for less than the minimum wage as long as they work for nothing.
As with all our bureaucracy they can't imagine a middle way involving sense, tolerance or practicalities.

Anonymous said...

It is not quite that bad because the first £5k of annual earnings do not attract that 13.8% employment tax. So a part timer on say 20 hours a week / 1,000 hours per annum would indeed cost just £5.93 per hour.

That aside, I agree with all you say.

Peter

Doubting said...

I question this argument about how much somebody's labour is "worth". It assumes that there is an intrinsic value to goods and services, beyond that decided in the market by interactions of supply and demand preferences. You could say that an hour of somebody's labour is worth X pounds if it brings the employer X pounds, but when you have many people co-operating to gain profit, it is unclear how to attribute the profit to the individual contributions.

Kevin Monk said...

A great question to ask these enemies of reason is whether they would be willing to personally obstruct someone from working for less than the minimum wage.

If you saw a man negotiating pay with - say - a shopkeeper, would you be willing to walk up to that man and tell him that you won't allow him to work for £5.50 an hour because YOU don't think it's right? Of course you wouldn't! You might reason with him. You might warn him of possible exploitation but once that's all said and he's still willing to work for less than NMW then it'd be immoral to tell him he couldnt. Why? Because forcing your will on others is a shitty thing to do.

Kevin Monk said...

@Doubting

That's not how you run a business.

When I cost a job I make an estimateof how much work needs to be done. How much I can buy that labour for and then how much profit I can make on top of that and remain competitive.

A major part of running a business is calculating wages and subcontractor costs and how much they add to the business.

Lee said...

What Mr. Davies is saying might just well work for some people; who won't actually be working for less than the hourly minimum wage, however the employer will be paying less than the minimum wage, and the shortfall will be covered by benefits. In effect, what Mr. Davies is advocating is a wages subsidy; and I agree with him.

Adam Bell said...

There's an assumption hidden in everything you say here, and in the responses of your other commenters, which is that work in itself is always enough to keep someone out of poverty. It's not. Food is not free. Housing is not free. If your labour is worth less than the total cost of those two, then you will be starving or homeless even if you're in work.

Your arguments about the minimum wage are correct - people should be allowed to work for whatever they want. However, some form of intervention is still required to ensure that they have the freedom to gain from training, because it's pretty difficult to have time to train if your labour is worth so little that you have to work all hours just to feed and house yourself. Historically, no-one has provided this service universally except the state.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Adam,

If we, as a society, feel that people are not paid enough then we, as a society, should pick up the tab for doing that—through our taxes (and thus benefits).

It is stupid to assume that if we raise the cost of employing people that employers will employ them anyway. They won't because you cannot run a company at a loss.

"However, some form of intervention is still required to ensure that they have the freedom to gain from training, because it's pretty difficult to have time to train if your labour is worth so little that you have to work all hours just to feed and house yourself."

You learn to do a job on the job—if you don't, you will be fired because you cannot do the job. All—all—of my training has occurred on the job.

DK

Adam Bell said...

Well, if you're willing to concede that benefits are fine if work doesn't pay enough to feed and house oneself, I don't think we have any disagreement.

However, on training - training doesn't exclusively refer to the raising of one's competences during working hours, but the undertaking of outside training - like night classes - which allows you to advance yourself. Skills gained on an assembly line job do not necessarily allow you to progress into management.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"If we, as a society, feel that people are not paid enough then we, as a society, should pick up the tab for doing that" - or, we could take the view that if companies are so anaemic they cannot even pay minimum wages then maybe it might be better if they turned their hand to something else?

Which types of firms are taking the piss?
According to this item an 18-year-old hairdresser in the north of Scotland was receiving just £1.38 an hour. Another firm was paying a 19-year-old nursery nurse in the west of Scotland £76 for a 40-hour week.

According to the statistics from HMRC, 174 firms were caught paying below the minimum wage, compared with 142 in 2007.
35 of the companies were in the hospitality sector, 32 were hairdressing salons and 21 were construction firms.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article5949953.ece

Curious that workers are paid a pittance in industries that are often unregulated and thus easier to push workers around - still, as long as they have their freedom to work for 50p a month all is well, eh?

ChrisM said...

"we could take the view that if companies are so anaemic they cannot even pay minimum wages then maybe it might be better if they turned their hand to something else?"

Or we could take the view its not your fucking business what other people do.

ManNotNumber said...

Most of these "exploited" people will have circumstances very different to your own. The 19 year old could be living at home, the disabled person could be living with parents etc etc.

People find it much easier to move jobs once they have a job. They gain more from work than just money - social interaction, experience, training and a feeling of self worth.

If you would rather these people rotted at home than negotiate their own pay to get into the sphere of work, just to salve your conscience about people being exploited, then you are a twat.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"If you would rather these people rotted at home than negotiate their own pay" - at £1.38 an hour it is doubtful they have negotiated anything at all.

By the way, what sort of 'social interactions' are those at the bottom of the pay ladder exposed to - I imagine it might be something along the lines of can you get me another coffee?

ManNotNumber said...

Is there something wrong with making coffee? Should all jobs and tasks be put to a council committee manned by enlightened individuals such as yourself, to see if they are fit and proper?

Devil's Kitchen said...

"By the way, what sort of 'social interactions' are those at the bottom of the pay ladder exposed to - I imagine it might be something along the lines of can you get me another coffee?"

Many of us, oddly, also interact with our workmates—you know, friendly banter, jokes, etc. (especially in a boring job)—which is, I think you'll find, also classed as "social interaction".

Perhaps A&E Charge Nurses don't talk to their fellow drones? It would explain a thing or two...

DK

the a&e charge nurse said...

Christ on a bike - it's not about making coffee - it's about a devalued role, a role worth only £51.75pw.

Hospitality, hairdressing and construction - job sectors not especially interested in "friendly banter" or "jokes".

In fact the only joke is the sucker who is willing to work for a princely £1.38 per hour - oh, how we laughed.

the a&e charge nurse said...

By the way - how would negotiations over a pay rise go?

Imagine the scene, a rather run down hair dressing salon on the Knockinlaw housing estate, perhaps?
Owner says to the worker, "from next week love I'm putting your pay up - you won't have to work for £1.38 anymore, you'll soon be getting £1.43 an hour".

Now why don't you go home 5 minutes early and celebrate - oh, but just get me a wee coffee before you leave, ken?

ManNotNumber said...

In any negotiation the buyer wants to buy and the seller wants to sell. The outcome over negotiations is primarily driven by the balance of power. If the person can move somewhere else for more money they will. If they can't then they either do not possess marketable skills or live in the wrong area. Inevitably it all comes down to what choices you can or are prepared to make.

Of course in the public sector it is easy. You gang up together and say "give us what we want or your house will burn down/trains will not run/ parents will die in their fucking hospital beds' (delete as appropriate).

the a&e charge nurse said...

"You gang up together" - I prefer to think of it as freedom of association.

You say "the outcome over negotiations is primarily driven by the balance of power" - so is it any surprise that workers group together?

If the balance of power is skewed too far in the employers favour you end up with a workforce on £50 a week.
Now some libertarians might regard this as some sort of market nirvana but I do not think the majority of people would accept that this represents any form of economic justice?

Devil's Kitchen said...

A&E,

"If the balance of power is skewed too far in the employers favour you end up with a workforce on £50 a week."

If this assertion were in any way correct, no employee would be paid more than the minimum wage.

""You gang up together" - I prefer to think of it as freedom of association."

Ah, so you are in favour of freedom of association but not the freedom to make voluntary contracts?

DK

the a&e charge nurse said...

"If this assertion were in any way correct, no employee would be paid more than the minimum wage"- the median wage average in the UK is £26k (or thereabouts) - not a king's ransom exactly but a bit better than the lowly paid hairdresser cited above.

Now the main reason pay is not much lower is because ordinary people grouped together in order to strengthen their bargaining position - without this sort of collectivism many people would be paid far less than they are now.

You know, and I know, that the UK job market has changed dramatically in the last decade due to the influx of immigrants taking on unskilled labour, and through this mechanism keeping pay barely above subsistence levels in some job sectors (see above).

I have no doubt many employers look enviously to places like India where labour costs are lower again (out sourcing whenever possible).
It was must frustrate the hell out of some bosses knowing that many Indians work for little more than a bowl of rice while the sexy hairdressing assistant in Knockinlaw rakes in a staggering £1.38 per hour?

None of this has anything to do with "negotiation" as you loftily describe it, but rather how vulnerable you are, or the robustness (or otherwise) of legislation protecting low paid workers.

It seems to me you want to push the hairdressers and rice farmers into the tender mercies of the employer - I will concede that there are honourable employers but there are at least in equal measure employers looking to exploit the very limited choices for those at the bottom of the pile.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Look on the bright side - at least the supa-rich are doing rather well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTzMqm2TwgE

Anonymous said...

At some stage, UK residents will have to stop consuming more than they produce - i.e. they will either the have to produce more or consume less, or do a bit of both. Getting those who are already producing a lot more than they are consuming to tighten their belts or to step up their output does not seem to be proving either wholly popular or particularly successful. If those who are not working at all were not prohibited from working for a similar rate of pay to that of their competitors in far flung places (while being allowed to keep enough of their existing sources of income to make entry into the workforce worthwhile for them) the gap between the goods and services that UK residents produce and what they consume might be lessened. By the way, has there been an independent enquiry into the economic and social effects of intoducing the minimum wage?

ManNotNumber said...

Define "independent"

Anonymous said...

In fact the only joke is the sucker who is willing to work for a princely £1.38 per hour - oh, how we laughed.

And why wouldn't you? You and your fellow members of the parasite sector get 10 times that by just sitting on your arses from your sickie "entitlement". Oh the contempt you "key workers" must have for anyone who wants to actually work and take responsibility for themselves instead of sponge off the rest of us.

the a&e charge nurse said...

Calm down anonymous (10:43) - yes, one or two public sector workers may have morphed into a slightly less glamorous Linda Evangalista?
http://www.forbes.com/2007/07/19/models-media-bundchen-biz-media-cz_kb_0716topmodels.html

But that still doesn't justify the rather meagre pay for floor sweepers in Connie Gorman's unisex hair salon, now does it?

kitler said...

Council Tax is the main reason people choose not to work. The moment you come off benefits you get fined aprox. £100 per month for not being dead.

MW3 said...

The minimum rage is there for a reason...

Gallovidian said...

What's the point of a minimum wage to keep wages up when there is unlimited immigration to keep wages down?

If there had never been coloured immigration into this country, and we had not joined the stupid EU, what would the average wage be now?