“The parable of 100 dogs and 92 bones”
Why the Work Programme can’t work
Posted on June 19, 2013 by alittleecon
Today’s Billy Blog is another must read, on the state of austerity-age Britain. In it he includes his ‘parable of 100 dogs and 92 bones’. I’ve used this before on this blog, but this is a better version of it, so it’s worth recounting, as it’s a perfect allusion to Governments’ obsession with ‘back-to-work’ schemes and why they can never succeed on their own. The Coalition’s failing Work Programme is a perfect example of this.
“Case study: the parable of 100 dogs and 92 bones
Imagine a small community comprising 100 dogs. Each morning they set off into the field to dig for bones. If there enough bones for all buried in the field then all the dogs would succeed in their search no matter how fast or dexterous they were.
Now imagine that one day the 100 dogs set off for the field as usual but this time they find there are only 92 bones buried.
Some dogs who were always very sharp dig up two bones as usual and others dig up the usual one bone. But, as a matter of accounting, at least 8 dogs will return home bone-less.
Now imagine that the government decides that this is unsustainable and decides that it is the skills and motivation of the bone-less dogs that is the problem. They are not skilled enough. They are idlers, bludgers and “bone-shy”.
So a range of dog psychologists and dog-trainers are called into to work on the attitudes and skills of the bone-less dogs. The dogs undergo assessment and are assigned case managers. They are told that unless they train they will miss out on their nightly bowl of food that the government provides to them while bone-less. They feel despondent.
Anyway, after running and digging skills are imparted to the bone-less dogs things start to change. Each day as the 100 dogs go in search of 92 bones, we start to observe different dogs coming back bone-less. The bone-less queue seems to become shuffled by the training programs.
However, on any particular day, there are still 100 dogs running into the field and only 92 bones are buried there!”
Bill concludes with:
“In the UK there are about 92 bones for every 100 dogs and in Spain 72 bones for every 100 dogs!
The point is that fallacies of composition* are rife in mainstream macroeconomics reasoning and have led to very poor policy decisions in the past.
There are simply not enough jobs.”
* Fallacies of composition are very common in discussions of economics. It basically means – what’s true for an individual isn’t always true for a whole group of individuals. An example of this would be the argument that cutting the minimum wage will increase the number of jobs available. While for a single firm, if wages could be cut, that might enable the firm to hire more people, if they are cut across all firms, then workers will be able to buy less stuff, so less will be produced, meaning less workers are needed. David Cameron saying everyone should pay off their credit card bills is another example. Good for the individual, bad if everyone does it at the same time.
Dead Darlington woman asked why she has not attended DWP appointments
From Vox Political
THE partner of a woman who died in April has slammed officials for repeatedly asking to explain why she has not shown up for appointments with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Darlington woman Patricia Howe, 48, died after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage in April.
Despite her partner immediately informing them of her death, the DWP continued to send Ms Howe letters.
Since her death, Ms Howe has been invited to attend appointments to discuss her claim for Employment and Support Allowance.
When she failed to attend, she received more letters demanding to know why she had not been present.
Malcolm Pearse, her partner of 14 years, slammed the actions of the DWP and said he had been left devastated by their incompetence
He said: “I told them the day after she died and they stopped her money straight away but they are still sending letters.
“I’ve told them, if they need Trish to attend, they need to stop sending letters and get in touch with a psychic.
They are total idiots and it is like banging my head against a brick wall.
“Their paperwork must be all over the place. When they want money off you, they are quick enough to act.
“I got up on Friday and was going to do all sorts of things but got their latest letter and it knocked me right back. You think you are just starting to get somewhere and then it comes up again and again. It is hard enough as it is.
“They are a law unto themselves. I just want them to leave me to grieve but there’s more chance of Paul Gascoigne getting fog on the Tyne than getting them to sort anything out.”
A spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions said: “This was an unfortunate administrative error which we are very sorry about. We will be writing to Mr Pearse to apologise for any distress caused”
The number of disabled people in “absolute” poverty rose by 100,000 during the coalition’s second year in office, according to new figures obtained by Disability News Service (DNS).
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published figures two weeks ago that showed the number of disabled people in “relative” poverty – those who are poor in comparison with the general population – fell by 100,000 in 2011-12.
This fall only occurred because the real value of benefits dropped by less than real wages, with disabled people likely to receive a larger proportion of their income in benefits than non-disabled people.
But the government declined to publish figures for disabled people in absolute poverty. Now the DWP response to a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request by DNS may have revealed why.
The DWP response shows that the number of disabled people in absolute poverty – those who do not have enough income to meet their basic needs – rose by 100,000 in 2011-12.
In 2010-11, there were 3.6 million disabled people in absolute poverty. By 2011-12, this had risen to 3.7 million.
DWP defines disability poverty as an individual living in low income in a family where at least one member is disabled.
DWP said, in its response to the FoIA request: “The number of disabled people in absolute poverty has increased.
“This was due to incomes not increasing as fast as inflation, which was very high and is now coming down.”
The DWP report did admit that, because the impact of disability-related costs is still not taken into account, there are likely to be even more disabled people in poverty than shown by the official figures.