Christian Britain? Cameron is no part of it

Cameron’s Christian Britain:

David Cameron’s constituency office has come under fire for calling the police on the Bishop of Oxford and Reverend Hebden as they attempted to present him with an open letter on food poverty.

Their letter, part of the End Hunger Fast campaign, was signed by 42 Anglican bishops and more than 600 clerics and called on the three party leaders to work with the parliamentary inquiry into food poverty to implement its recommendations.

Last month in Oxford:

A VULNERABLE man who starved to death months after his benefits were cut should not have been ruled fit to work, the Government has admitted.

Prime Minister David Cameron last night described the death of Mark Wood as “tragic” following the admission by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

And the DWP has now launched an internal review of the case.

Which explains why the Mail on Sunday attempted to start a witch hunt against food banks last Sunday, by having an undercover reporter scumbag Ross Slater con his local foodbank into giving him food, then attacking the Trussel Trust running it for being scammed. It’s about as low a piece of journalism as it’s possible to write, but luckily the British audience wasn’t fooled and donations to the trust quintupled just hours after the article appeared. A glimmer of hope in a country whose government seems determined to starve the poor.

Uncreative destruction

But it’s something else living in a working neighbourhood, which in normal times flails along with its collective head just above the water, being gradually and through the systematic application of government policy suffering a kind of collective punishment; and the organic commerce which had evolved to serve it beginning to go down with it. The top end of Cheetham Hill Road was always low-margin. Shops would come and go, but there always seemed to be somebody else ready to have a try. These days it’s looking more than a bit gap toothed. It’s an odd feeling watching economic repression imposed around you; like living in the middle of a crime in progress.

Jamie on the consequences in his own neighbourhood of the ConDems’ economic policies.

A nudge is as good as a wink to a poor man

At A Fistful of Euros, Alex Harrowell makes fun of poorly thought out social psychology and in the process manages to crystalise for me what I find wrong with “nudging”:

Similarly, fans of “nudge” tend to complain that poor people make bad decisions about money, typically by prizing cash up front above everything. To put it in econospeak, irrational discounting leads them to have extremely high liquidity preference. But liquidity is useful, and people tend to want it if they are facing a dangerously uncertain future. And typical reasons to need cash fast include things like “topping up the electricity meter”, “the kids are hungry”, “collection goons are threatening physical violence”. It’s not as if they don’t need cash on hand for very good reasons.

Nudge theory, for those not paying attention, is a theory of social conditioning currently in vogue with David Cameron’s ConDem government, vaguely leftish, cheap and supposedly offering a way to manipulate people into doing the right thing without forcing them to: libertarian paternalism. Yes, this is as condescending as it sounds and does feel vaguely uncomfortable as any theory of social control does, but Alex nailed the real wrongness there: it assumes that the people it tries to “nudge” into the right behaviour are in control of their lives and their “deviancy” is down to individual choice rather than external circumstance. It treats people as consumers choosing a lifestyle and ignores all outside forces acting on them.