1. Full Employment
The first pledge on Corbyn’s list is the promise of full employment. It is stated that this promise comes with a £500 billion stimulus package to create a million new jobs. No one disagrees with having more people being employed, so what’s wrong here? The problem is that the whole idea of employment has been misunderstood by Labour. The goal of our nation should be to get as much stuff as we can with as little effort as possible. Employment is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Full employment is actually relatively easy if you get the government to pay for it, we had very low unemployment during both World Wars, but rationed food. Other countries with relatively low unemployment due to government expenditure include Belarus, Cambodia and Bangladesh. In reality, maximising production is the key to full employment and rising standards of living. Let’s compare those countries with some other countries that also have a low unemployment rate: Singapore, Lichtenstein and Hong Kong. The difference in these countries is that employment is maximised with low taxes, low regulation and free trade. I’m sure I don’t have to mention which countries have the higher standards of living.
2. A Secure Homes Guarantee
The second pledge, possibly the most worrying, is the secure homes guarantee. Not only is building a million homes a fiscal calamity for a country that’s already running huge deficits, but rent controls, if they do anything, will only serve to disincentivise private businesses from building more accommodation. The vague mention of affordable housing should also be feared, considering that the last time governments started subsidising mortgages and encouraging home ownership we ended up with the Great Recession.
3. Security At Work
The third pledge acts to knock some more rungs off the bottom of the employment ladder for the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us. As someone who worked at a resourcing agency on a zero hours contract as a way to earn money and gain valuable skills while looking for jobs, I appreciate that it’s extremely important to have low skilled, low paid jobs as a springboard to higher earning employment.
The zero hours issue is in essence a moral one: why should the government have a say in who employs me and when I work? I agreed voluntarily to work at a job where hours were not guaranteed, and that’s my responsibility. This pledge also mentions immigration, it may surprise the reader but I am generally pro immigration, and I believe immigration to jobs and competition for labour is a good thing. Labour fails to grasp the fact that immigrants don’t take jobs, they give labour, and the fact that immigrants can undercut our workers in terms of pay and conditions makes everyone better off. People will find that goods and services are generally more plentiful and less expensive when immigrants can compete for labour.
4. A Secure NHS and Social Care
The fourth pledge I have unpopular thoughts about. Perhaps I would need a full column explaining my opinion, but I truly believe that the route of total privatisation and an insurance based system would make everyone better off. It would deliver a higher standard of healthcare for everyone, and stop the tyranny of forcing people who live healthy lifestyles subsidising people who are unhealthy.
5. A National Education Service
Could there be anything better than raising a child by removing them from their mother and sticking them in a room with a government employee and a bunch of other rug rats? Not for the Labour Party!
Combine that with free university tuition and you have yourself a recipe for rising prices and falling quality. Of course you won’t have to pay directly, but that doesn’t make it “free”, either your money will be stolen through tax or inflation, or your kids will pay the debt later on. You should be skeptical of a government that wants to coddle you from cradle to grave.
6. Action to Secure our Environment
The environment is very important, and I don’t deny that there is climate change. Though regulation and environment policy as it has been carried out in the west has very little effect on carbon emissions, fossil fuel development has in fact led to a cleaner environment, as laid out in Alex Epstein’s book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
7. Put the Public Back into our Economy
This one is similar to the first, big spending and the retardation of private sector growth. If you aren’t worried about how much all these programs will cost, you need your head examined.
I really want to see a spending plan from the Labour Party with actual numbers, but I expect it just to be a moralistic rant about no cost being too large for public services.
8. Cut Inequality in Income and Wealth & 9. Action to Secure and Equal Society
This is an area that really highlights the economic illiteracy of the left. Basic economics teaches us that when you subsidise something you get more of it, and when you tax it you get less. Hence taxing cigarettes disincentivises the consumption of tobacco, and milk subsidies create milk surpluses. What baffles me is how the same economic rules are never applied to labour, this is the problem with a progressive tax and welfare system.
In essence, we are subsidising unemployment and taxing the most productive members of society at higher rates the more productive they are. You can sit and complain about how they didn’t earn that money but the bottom line is that Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates have done more to make your life better than your average worker. Another fallacy that the left has bought into is that of the fixed pie, the idea that because someone is rich then they are depriving others of that wealth, when in reality these people grow the economy and allow everyone to become richer. Why would we want to disincentivise that? This whole idea of equality is not only unattainable, but policies that try to make outcomes more equitable almost invariably hurt those that they are trying to help.
For example, equal pay for equal work laws were loved by early labour unions because they benefited experienced and skilled workers at the expense of unskilled workers. The early trade unions in South Africa were more explicit in revealing their intent, openly expressing that equal pay for equal work laws benefited privileged white workers at the expense of unskilled blacks. If for whatever reason your productivity is below the productivity of another person, you should have the right to undercut them, the government should not be forcing the employer to pay you more.
10. Peace and Justice at the Heart of Foreign Policy
I couldn’t agree more about not intervening in the Middle East, and this is by far the best policy Labour has. However, I couldn’t help but notice the trade policy here is vague, and difficult to pin down online.
I don’t expect to convince dogmatic ideologues of anything, but if you are on the fence I truly advise that you distrust any politician who promises everything at the expense of the rich, and look into the effects of policies that sound good on the surface.
Read this accompaniment giving the flip side to Labours ten pledges found here.