Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Penny's dreadful

It will hardly be a surprise that, like The Appalling Strangeness, I had a bit of a giggle when Guido highlighted the rampant hypocrisy inherent in Laurie Penny's advert for a researcher.
The job is to “find statistics and quotes and case studies, talk over what I’m writing and hunt down sources and stories for me, and keep meticulous notes of all sources in academic format.” For this the lowly researcher will be paid the grand sum of £500 for 85 hours work. As a fearless left-wing campaigner for higher living standards for the workers surely Laurie must know that £5.88 per hour is short of the minimum wage and far from the “living wage” she publicly supports (£7.85). Apparently the job would “suit someone who is currently out of work, working part-time, or parenting”. What planet is she on that she thinks parents can afford childcare on £5.88 per hour?

Even more controversial than the flouting of minimum wage legislation is her contempt for sexual equality legislation. She clearly states: “I’m probably looking for a female researcher”. The EHRC clearly says: “Stating a preference for a man or woman in a job advertisement is unlawful sex discrimination unless the requirements of the particular job mean that it is lawful to employ only a man or a woman”. Form an orderly queue…

All jolly hilarious but, to be fair to Laurie, she does point out that the research could be done at home and, in the main, through the internet—as such, it's not as though a parent would necessarily need to get childcare.

Although, of course, if one is not working alongside the great Penny Red, then it is going to be extremely difficult for Laurie to make good on her offer to "make you tea at any hour".

What really grips my shit though, is that darling Penny says that "this will be a lump sum coming out of my own not terribly well-stuffed pocket" and that she wishes she...
... could afford to pay the living wage for this rather than just minimum wage, but that's not an option for me at the moment.

First, £500 divided by 85 hours works out at £5.88—not the minimum wage of £5.93. So, not much of a problem: you just need to work fewer hours. After all, Penny is paying a lump sum for a certain amount of work to be done, not a certain number of hours.

However, if Laurie Penny cannot afford to pay £7.85 an hour, why the living fuck does she think that anyone else can afford to? Does she think that every else's pockets are considerably more stuffed than hers? Is she, as I suspect, one of these utter morons who imagines that companies—or, indeed, individuals—have vast amounts of magic money that they can just splurge around with gay abandon?

Yes, she probably is.

Because, like most socialists, she will be unable to connect her impecuniousness with anyone else's. After all, in Laurie's world, everyone is considerably richer than her, eh?

Second, as I did with the equally delectable Kezia Dugdale, it is worth looking at this "living wage"—because it is a complete and utter nonsense.
  1. A person working a 37.5 hour week on the minimum wage earns £11,563.50 yearly. Once tax is deducted, that person takes home £9,903.02.

  2. A person working a 37.4 hour week on the "living wage" earns £15,307.50 and, after tax, takes home £12,486.38.

As Timmy has repeatedly pointed out, we could practically eliminate the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage simply by extorting less money from the poor.
Then we have the living wage enthusiasts, those who would insist that wages should come up to the £7.60 an hour which constitutes the pre-tax income needed to live not in poverty as defined by the public through the Joseph Rowntree Trust. That’s 58% of median wage.

Now, I’ve long contended that there’s a trick being missed here. The difference between £5.91 an hour and having a personal allowance for tax and NI of £12,000 and £7.60 an hour under the current tax system is, for post tax income, if I remember my calculations properly, something like 3 pence an hour. So we can achieve our (joint, yes, I desire it too) desire of taking the working poor out of poverty simply by not taxing them so damn much.

Quite. Plus, of course, we will avoid all of those unfortunate undesired consequences discussed in Timmy's post.

Do we see her backing lower government spending in order to afford lower taxes for the poor?

Do we fuck.

What we do see is Laurie campaigning for everyone else to be forced to pay a certain wage level, whilst crying crocodile tears because she, herself, cannot—or, more likely, will not.

Why doesn't she follow the example of her favourite Labour government and put it all on someone else's credit card...?


Lord Blagger said...

You've missed off employer NI.

Now why should it be included?

Well its a bit like VAT.

I've never written a personal cheque for VAT. Companies pay it for me.

So when people say the company pays their NI, its just the same as saying you don't pay VAT. Why are you worried about the VAT rise

Dick Puddlecote said...

"could afford to pay the living wage for this rather than just minimum wage, but that's not an option for me at the moment."

Says it all, that.

It may interest you to know that Will Straw talked (in relation to Left Foot Forward inc or Ltd, I dunno) about NIC being a 'tax on jobs' tonight at the IEA.

Oh how the realities of life kick in once idealistic lefties have to register businesses themselves and suffer the stifling legislation their heroes in the class war have installed.

Angry Exile said...

A point about using a percentage of median wage as a the preferred standard of poverty campaigners and the living wage brigade: if the lowest value in a set increases then so does the median, along with any arbitrarily chosen percentage of the median used for any purpose. In other words it's a moving goal which, if achieved, inches along a bit further making it necessary to go and do it all over again. I imagine this is why these folks stopped worrying about absolute poverty long ago - achieve it and the fight's over, meaning they all have to go and find something else to do. Relative poverty means a virtually endless campaign and jobs for life.

dbmaverick said...

@Angry Exile


Consider the set { 1 5 10 }

The median is 5

Now consider the set { 4 5 10 }

The median is 5, and the lowest value is 80% of the median.

Roger Thornhill said...

This should be an opportunity to talk to Ms Penny at the absurdity of the sex and employment legislation that forces people and companies into quota employment.

Encourage her to imagine that she had to employ 10 people. Then what? All women? All her same ethnic or cultural group? No chavs. No gangsta. Eh?

She has, unwittingly, helped our cause. I say don't slam her, use it to amplify the cognitive dissonace that exists out there. Reflect it back into a cacophony.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am crying into my Palistinian keffiyeh here at the student union.

How can Penny Red betray all that she stands for.

Here at the University our lecturers have taught us all there is to know about how Socialism is perfect and Capitalism/White People/Israel/Men/Wealth are the roots of all evil in the world.

I am so confused, if Penny Red cannot even pay minimum wage, what does this mean for all the tough talk about morals, values and the socialist way?

the a&e charge nurse said...

I followed the link to the original post and ensuing thread - there was no defense of the substantive points from the author re: accusations of flouting the minimum wage or sex discrimination laws.

Moderation of comments had also been activated (censorship).

Some people seem to be so caught up in their own self righteousness that they lack both insight and humility?

Kevin Monk said...

It makes you wonder if episodes like this ever make people like Penny ever reconsider their position. It must do, mustn't it?

It's about as close as you can get to political checkmate.

James said...

Presumably there'll be a plethora of complaints to HMRC's Pay and Work Rights department about Penny Red's employment practises:

Given the nature of the role and the description she gives of it, it almost definitely isn't a 'self-employed' role, which is the only way she could get away with trying to shaft her employees out of the National Minimum Wage.

NHS Fail Wail

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