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Thread: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

  1. #1
    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    In defence of baby bonds: a totemic policy for an age of spiralling inequality
    The Government always keeps its left-wing side hidden in case it scares the Middle England horses

    Whenever one of the Government's (rare) left-wing policies stumbles slightly, the British press and politicians invariably inflate and hyperbolise the problem into a crisis, a disaster, a humiliation - and nobody answers back. Sure, the government mumbles something in response, but they basically want to keep their decent, left-wing side hidden from public view in case they scare the Middle England horses. The rest of the left is so angry with the government on other issues that it says nothing. Is it any wonder most people know nothing about the good things the government is doing?

    This week provides us with a juicy example. The right is gleefully claiming that the Government's policy of baby bonds has suffered a cot death. The policy is simple: over the past year, the government has given each newborn baby a voucher to open a trust fund with. If the baby is born to a poor family, she gets £500; the rest get £250. Parents can add to the fund throughout childhood, and the government will match them pound-for-pound. The result? When the kid turns 18, the account will contain thousands of pounds. They can use the money to pay their way through expensive work experience, start a business, backpack around the world, or just blow it on a wild month of drink and drugs. It won't only be the children of the rich who get this opportunity on their eighteenth birthdays - everybody will.

    If this sounds like a gimmick, you have to look at the wider context to see why it is so important. We all know that income inequality in Britain stands at shocking levels - but how many of us know that asset inequality is twice as bad? In this country, the bottom 50 per cent of the population own just 6 per cent of the country's assets. A majority of single parents, immigrants and working-class people have no savings and own no assets at all.

    Owning next-to-nothing changes your whole life in subtle and unpredictable ways. The Institute for Public Policy Research conducted a long-term study that found that people who owned assets at the age of 23 were far less likely to be broke, depressed or divorced at the age of 33. Researcher Dominic Maxwell explains, "At first the results seemed odd. Why would owning assets affect the stability of your marriage? But then we realised they give you a stable base to stand on. Assets mean you are far better equipped to withstand the shocks life throws at you."

    I remember seeing this at University: the kids from rich families with assets in the bank were far more confident, and they were in a far better position to make themselves rich in turn. Those of us who lived on the edge of our overdrafts were more neurotic, less adventurous, and always aware we were only one job-loss or one screw-up away from disaster. The baby bonds approach - of spreading assets across British society, and giving everyone a buffer-zone of savings - is a brave, long-term attempt to begin to turn this around. Politicians are very rarely this far-sighted: the first beneficiaries of this policy will emerge in 18 years, and will probably have never heard of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

    So why are the policy's critics trying to toss dirt on to its premature grave? Of the 1.7 million vouchers that have been sent out so far, only 499,000 have been cashed in. This prompted the ugly Thatcherite wing of the Liberal Democrats to crow, "Gordon Brown's flagship policy has been a flop with parents. Our fear is that young people will blow the proceeds of their fund at 18 anyway". The Tories echoed this acidic sentiment. But is this true? The baby bond vouchers are sent out to mums just after they give birth, when they have a screaming, howling, helpless small person to deal with. Given that the funds won't be available for 18 years, it's hardly surprising if they let this slip to the bottom of their to-do list. But if the policy is not sold by the government - and sold hard enough to build up broad public awareness and support - then baby bonds will be abolished, as an easy cost-cutting measure, when Labour one day loses power.

    Letting baby bonds die would be particularly sad because they are an important philosophical weathervane, a sign of where progressive politics should be heading. For most of the 20th century, the left - and particularly the Labour party - believed the problems thrown up by raw markets should be dealt with through collectivism. Their solutions were clear: take institutions out of private hands and transfer them to the ultimate collective institution, the state. But for ordinary people (and especially the poor), this often simply transferred their problems from one remote institution to another. Collectivism turned out to be unpopular and inefficient, and its death was seen - disastrously - as a victory for the Thatcherite claim that the state should do little or nothing and leave everything to raw market forces.

    But there was always a better alternative to either collectivism or Thatcherism. This "third way" (I know, I know, try to pretend I didn't say that) is usually given the ugly label of "distributionism". Distributionists have always believed that the job of government is to actively - as a matter of policy - spread wealth and property as widely as possible throughout society. For them, the problem is not the existence of private property, as much of the left had assumed; it is the grossly unfair distribution of property. In the early 20th century, there was a strong distributionist movement, headed by men such as G K Chesterton. He declared: "If property is good for Man, it is good for Everyman." Baby bonds are a classic distributionist policy: they spread property and assets to every citizen.

    Of course, Thatcherites have claimed for decades they want this too. They have talked about a "property-owning democracy" where everybody has a portfolio of shares. But the market does not spontaneously spread wealth down to people at the bottom: during the years of Tory government, the number of people with no assets and no savings doubled. The right's commitment to small government, low taxes and no interference with markets means they can never deliver this promise. They are left with a glib Marie Antoinette capitalism, declaring "Let them buy shares" to people who can barely afford a holiday.

    This opens up serious political space for the Labour Party. Yes, the old-style state-collectivist dream is pretty dead - but the distributionist dream still has incredible power in an age of spiralling inequalities. Only big government, prepared to raise taxes and intervene in existing property relations, can spread wealth across a society and make sure everybody can participate in markets.

    A century ago, distributionism was trampled to death. But today, in small, revealing policies like baby bonds, it is being reborn. It offers us a hint - just a hint - of a persuasive future for the centre-left.

    j.hari@independent.co.uk
    This is the form of the left which I see as being the future of the left and it is one I strongly, strongly support. I don't believe collectivism is as dead as Johann does, there is other forms of collectivism,. mainly in society and the community, but in government I share his thoughts. I don't know why the third way option of governing the economy is so hated by so many on the left and it is thought of as a terrible betrayal. It is not. It relies on a regulated market which produces fairer results along with redistributive measures. That surely is brilliant sounding for all those on the left?

    Anyway, this policy and policies like it - such as the EMA which give money to those poor students who stay on in full time education past the age of 16 - are significantly helping so many and should be welcomed by everyone.

    And it is these policies which makes Labour so important to stay in power and why they really are a party of the left. Brilliant article.
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  2. #2
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    All babies in Aus get 4k now not in 18 years

    And uni fees can be deferred as an additional tax at high enough earnings later on... earn too little and pay less or even nothing.
    Last edited by Papewaio; 08-04-2005 at 16:55.
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    Master of Few Words Senior Member KukriKhan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Q: Why was 18 picked, vs 16 or 25?

    and

    Q: Who shepherds the funds until maturity?
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    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    18 was picked because at 18 you are legally an adult here and you gain pretty much most of the major rights an adult has at that age.

    The policy is in partnership with banks, so the banks deal with the accounts and the government sorts the rest. So to answer your question, it would be the banks shepherding the accounts.

    All babies in Aus get 4k now not in 18 years
    I never realised that, when was that introduced?
    GARCIN: I "dreamt," you say. It was no dream. When I chose the hardest path, I made my choice deliberately. A man is what he wills himself to be.
    INEZ: Prove it. Prove it was no dream. It's what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff one's made of.
    GARCIN: I died too soon. I wasn't allowed time to - to do my deeds.
    INEZ: One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Why the conservative insitutions shepard the money and help it grow by investing in Oil, Weapons, GM food, seal clubbing, third world debt reclaimation, school, prison and health privatisation.
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by JAG
    I never realised that, when was that introduced?
    The baby bonus was introduced by our Liberal government (conservative for the Americans).

    Baby bonus helps birth rate jump
    05:56 AEST Sun Jun 12 2005
    AAP
    The federal government's $3000 baby bonus has helped to reverse the nation's declining birth rate, with new statistics revealing an increase for the first time in a decade.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of babies per woman rose to 1.77 last year, breaking a forty year decline, News Limited reported.

    The birth rate is the highest it has reached in seven years and is the first time it has increased significantly since 1961 when it peaked at 3.55, it was reported.

    The Howard Government's $3000 baby bonus for every baby born in 2004 played a significant role in halting the nation's declining fertility rate, the Australian National University's head of demography, professor Peter McDonald said.

    Prof McDonald predicted the fertility rate would rise to 1.8 in 2005 as the baby bonus starts having an effect.

    The bonus will increase to $4000 from July 1 next year.
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Great idea, get the kids sucking on government tit as early as possible! Oh and the 500 for poor, 250 for "rich" is real fair, real equal..

    In any event, dont you think this can be abused. If I had a child in England I would make that baby bond my savings account, because at age 18 the government will double whatevers in there!

    Hell, I could probably put over a million in over the course of 18 years, that makes a million pound profit for the family - unless your kid hates you.

    Really though, government handouts should only be in the form of tax cuts in my opinion..

  8. #8
    Needs more flowers Moderator drone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by Papewaio
    Why the conservative insitutions shepard the money and help it grow by investing in Oil, Weapons, GM food, seal clubbing, third world debt reclaimation, school, prison and health privatisation.
    Being a cynic who will probably never see a penny of my Social Security money, I'm thinking this is not too far off. I don't know the specifics of this policy, but this could be a good way for the government to "borrow" money. Parents get a seed to start the account, then start adding into the fund. Since the money is untouchable for 18 years, contributions to the funds can be siphoned off for use. When the bill comes due in 18 years, it's somebody elses problem. Are there safeguards in place to prevent this? What control does the family have over the account? And is the money taxable when withdrawn?

    It's an interesting idea, but there are a lot of ways a government can exploit this.
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    I wouldn't call it crap. I would call it "reprocessed and packaged fecal delight".
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  10. #10
    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by Divinus Arma
    I wouldn't call it crap. I would call it "reprocessed and packaged fecal delight".
    Let us hear why then, I am sure you have brilliant responses to the article rather than simplistic statements, much like Panzers.

    In any event, dont you think this can be abused. If I had a child in England I would make that baby bond my savings account, because at age 18 the government will double whatevers in there!
    The whole point is that it is a form of savings account. Money goes in and cannot be touched until the child is 18, and all money which goes in is doubled by Govt. You may come from a background and family where that kind of thing and the kind of money available to put aside in an account such as this is easy - this is aimed at precisely the people in which it isn't. That is why it is such a good policy. On top of this it creates a saving culture, to try and get us out of our spiraling and uncontrollable debt we are racketing up.

    It clearly shows that you have no idea about the situations of the families the policy is there to help when you make statements such as this -

    Hell, I could probably put over a million in over the course of 18 years, that makes a million pound profit for the family - unless your kid hates you.
    If you believe a single mother on the minimum wage can set aside £500,000 while bringing her child up then you are living on another world. It really does seem you have no idea, but then again that is probably why you hold the opinions you do. A bit more experience of what people go through and we might save you yet.
    GARCIN: I "dreamt," you say. It was no dream. When I chose the hardest path, I made my choice deliberately. A man is what he wills himself to be.
    INEZ: Prove it. Prove it was no dream. It's what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff one's made of.
    GARCIN: I died too soon. I wasn't allowed time to - to do my deeds.
    INEZ: One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

    Jean Paul Sartre - No Exit 1944

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    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Does the government put in one for one with the savings of the parent? Is there a maximum amount... if not then the poor are going to be able to add 10 pounds a year while the rich will add 1 million pounds per year and their kid will have an extra million from the government... really good profit margin...
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    lol, of course there is a limit to the amount you can amass or a limit on those who are actually able to get the 1 for 1 deal from the government.

    I just can't remember it at the moment. :p

    I have a feeling the 1 for 1 deal only applies to those near the bottom of the social ladder though.
    GARCIN: I "dreamt," you say. It was no dream. When I chose the hardest path, I made my choice deliberately. A man is what he wills himself to be.
    INEZ: Prove it. Prove it was no dream. It's what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff one's made of.
    GARCIN: I died too soon. I wasn't allowed time to - to do my deeds.
    INEZ: One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

    Jean Paul Sartre - No Exit 1944

  13. #13
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by JAG
    I have a feeling the 1 for 1 deal only applies to those near the bottom of the social ladder though.
    Bottom of the social ladder... so as long as you were crass, boorish and otherwise socially inept you would get a bigger bonus.

    Because there is no way that any of us would assume that ones social position is absolutely the same as ones economic position.
    Our genes maybe in the basement but it does not stop us chosing our point of view from the top.
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  14. #14
    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Pft, you know what I mean. :p
    GARCIN: I "dreamt," you say. It was no dream. When I chose the hardest path, I made my choice deliberately. A man is what he wills himself to be.
    INEZ: Prove it. Prove it was no dream. It's what one does, and nothing else, that shows the stuff one's made of.
    GARCIN: I died too soon. I wasn't allowed time to - to do my deeds.
    INEZ: One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

    Jean Paul Sartre - No Exit 1944

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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Wow, another way for the gov't to just give money to people who haven't earned it, and this time with absolutely no controls on how it's spent!

    Crazed Rabbit
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by JAG
    Let us hear why then, I am sure you have brilliant responses to the article rather than simplistic statements, much like Panzers.



    The whole point is that it is a form of savings account. Money goes in and cannot be touched until the child is 18, and all money which goes in is doubled by Govt. You may come from a background and family where that kind of thing and the kind of money available to put aside in an account such as this is easy - this is aimed at precisely the people in which it isn't. That is why it is such a good policy. On top of this it creates a saving culture, to try and get us out of our spiraling and uncontrollable debt we are racketing up.

    It clearly shows that you have no idea about the situations of the families the policy is there to help when you make statements such as this -



    If you believe a single mother on the minimum wage can set aside £500,000 while bringing her child up then you are living on another world. It really does seem you have no idea, but then again that is probably why you hold the opinions you do. A bit more experience of what people go through and we might save you yet.
    I will be happy to enlighten you, my jagged toothed nemesis.

    Ready?



    Here it comes....



    Brilliance awaits....






    STOP HAVING CHILDREN BEFORE YOU ARE READY TO SUPPORT THEM!!!!!!!


    Hmm. Let's see. That would make a huge permanent dent in many of civilized society's ills would it not?

    Hmmm. Poverty? Check.

    Crime? Check.

    Welfare? Check.

    Medical costs...? Well, I'll be. Check again.

    Environmental devastation....? Check.

    Yawn.
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    Arena Senior Member Crazed Rabbit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    What, you mean you want people to have 'responsibilities', in this enlightened age of glorious economic and social progress in the progressive countries, like Fra-, er, nevermind that example.

    Back to the subject at hand; You're a madman!



    Crazed Rabbit
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazed Rabbit
    What, you mean you want people to have 'responsibilities', in this enlightened age of glorious economic and social progress in the progressive countries, like Fra-, er, nevermind that example.

    Back to the subject at hand; You're a madman!



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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by Divinus Arma
    I will be happy to enlighten you, my jagged toothed nemesis.

    Ready?



    Here it comes....



    Brilliance awaits....






    STOP HAVING CHILDREN BEFORE YOU ARE READY TO SUPPORT THEM!!!!!!!


    Hmm. Let's see. That would make a huge permanent dent in many of civilized society's ills would it not?

    Hmmm. Poverty? Check.

    Crime? Check.

    Welfare? Check.

    Medical costs...? Well, I'll be. Check again.

    Environmental devastation....? Check.

    Yawn.

    We actually agree!

    I completely hate the fact that youth (though I am one) believe that everything should be handed to them because they screwed up. "I'm going to drink" and the parents get in trouble. "I'm going to have sex" and the grandparents raise the child. If people need responsibilities that badly, tell them they need to grow and/or kill their own food and build their own shelters. Most of my peers are the "entitlement generation" where they believe they're entitled to the fruits of their parents' labors. Damn lazy, irresponsible people.
    "If I were a man I could do so much - travel the stars, learn to play the harp, conquer a foreign country and become a frustrated cartoonist."

  20. #20

    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Quote Originally Posted by swirly_the_toilet_fish
    We actually agree!

    I completely hate the fact that youth (though I am one) believe that everything should be handed to them because they screwed up. "I'm going to drink" and the parents get in trouble. "I'm going to have sex" and the grandparents raise the child. If people need responsibilities that badly, tell them they need to grow and/or kill their own food and build their own shelters. Most of my peers are the "entitlement generation" where they believe they're entitled to the fruits of their parents' labors. Damn lazy, irresponsible people.
    You will feel the irresistable lure of my power in no time. Soon you will see the truth! I recommend that you go check out the political persuasion poll and read it top to bottom. You may find a few other things we agree on, my wet and scaly friend.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    I don't think this is a brilliant idea, for one thing why should taxpayers money go towards 18 years olds pissing it against a wall, really well thought out. I see this as along the same lines as no children should fail at school, we will end up raising a whole generation of emotional cripples. If you want to travel round the world at 18 then get a job and save the money, if you want to go to uni then you can get loans to do so. "But then there is student debts" So what, if you want a degree to help you get a better job and earn more money then you should be prepared to put a bit of effort into it.

    I'm not suprised you would support this though JAG, you seem to advocate that it is societies fault everytime someone fails. I've said it before and I'll say it again, stand up and take responsibility. At the very least the options of what you can do with the money, our money, should be limited to helping with a job or education.

    And before anyone asks, no I don't come from a wealthy family, I come from a single parent family that would've been classed as poor.

    If you want an incentive to halt the falling birth rate then give the money to parents to help raise kids, even better supply things like baby food and nappies free.

  22. #22
    Viceroy of the Indian Empire Member Duke Malcolm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    I have to agree with JAG that baby bonds are one of Labour's few good policies, but there should be certain strings attached, such as it can only be used for further education and training, or a house, or some such thing, so that it cannot be wasted away. The EMA, however, is not such a good idea.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    All this does is create dependency on the goverment and the kids will expect everything form the goverment not a good way to go at all
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Baby Bonds - New way of the left

    Let us hear why then, I am sure you have brilliant responses to the article rather than simplistic statements, much like Panzers.
    Simplistic policies call for simplistic criticisms.

    The whole point is that it is a form of savings account. Money goes in and cannot be touched until the child is 18, and all money which goes in is doubled by Govt. You may come from a background and family where that kind of thing and the kind of money available to put aside in an account such as this is easy - this is aimed at precisely the people in which it isn't. That is why it is such a good policy. On top of this it creates a saving culture, to try and get us out of our spiraling and uncontrollable debt we are racketing up.
    Neither the article nor you - until responding to paps post - said that there was a limit on the government doubling. Why shouldnt I take advantage of such an offer?

    It clearly shows that you have no idea about the situations of the families the policy is there to help when you make statements such as this -


    Quote:
    Hell, I could probably put over a million in over the course of 18 years, that makes a million pound profit for the family - unless your kid hates you.
    Its the truth, and Im trying to show you the fallacy in this policy. The more money you have, the more money the government will double.

    If you believe a single mother on the minimum wage can set aside £500,000 while bringing her child up then you are living on another world. It really does seem you have no idea, but then again that is probably why you hold the opinions you do. A bit more experience of what people go through and we might save you yet.
    Im not ashamed that I live well and have plenty of money - that would make me a liberal.

    You seem to be acting like my criticisms dont count because I dont understand poverty. What you dont seem to understand is that this policy leans toward the wealthy. More money in the account means more money doubled by the government. That would mean kids from wealthy families start off richer than kids from poorer families.

    Now the article doesnt say anything about caps on the money, but if you claim there are then thats a different story. You cant expect to post an article and assume that people know theres a limit when it doesnt say that.

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