The cost of living

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:11 pm

"eat out to help out"?
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:42 pm

dyqik wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:10 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:08 pm
dyqik wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 6:07 pm
"In order to save civilization, we must first destroy it"?
More like in order to save single mums we must first save restauranteurs.
Certainly that will help the single mums who own restaurants, who work in restaurants, who use restaurants, or who work in catering supply, etc.

We can support both at the same time, you know.

And bar/pub, cafe and restaurant work can* be some of the more flexible jobs available, allowing single parents to work hours that fit around child care and to do as many hours as they are available for.

*obviously they aren't always.
True.

Though a decarbonised world might well need to involve a lot less restaurant food. The whole industry wastes massive quantities of food as part of its business model. Perhaps that’s what lpm has been getting at.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Tue Aug 30, 2022 7:21 pm

What I'm getting at is we need to shift a massive amount of resources to:

1) Transformation of energy generation (incl energy reduction via insulation etc)
2) Healthcare (incl mental health)
3) Care for elderly
4) Transformation of transport
5) Higher investment in education
6) Defense repositioning/rebuild (hopefully temporary Ukraine requirement)
7) Climate adaptation, flood defences etc

Plus a few other long term investments like fibre-optic connections to every home and a functioning sewage system.

We can't have everything. It always feels to me like the rest of you also want this list, while still wanting everything else in the status quo like restaurants and cars and foreign holidays.

There's not enough resources. We're not as rich as we think we are. We have to cut back in some areas if we are to invest resources on others.

And I think nobody else has any sense of how terrible this is going to be. If I was in power I'd be trying to shift more of the pain onto the top deciles but there's no way to shield everyone else. There's simply no way through this without a huge slump in what we think of as traditional living standards where we have all the nice things we like.
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El Pollo Diablo
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Re: The cost of living

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Tue Aug 30, 2022 7:42 pm

I'd probably add (unless it comes under investment in education) free nursery childcare and better parental leave/pay policies, but hey.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Millennie Al » Wed Aug 31, 2022 2:44 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 1:09 pm
moves to e.g. decouple energy prices in general from marginal gas peakers could be sorted by the spring,
Decoupling energy prices would mean that people would pay less for energy and therefore use more. It also reduced the incentive to create more non-gas sources of energy. That is not a sensible. In fact it's just about the exact opposite of what is required.
and insulating the worst properties by next winter.
What makes you think that is possible? Insulation has been a possibility for decades. Are you assuming that there is an unused stockpile of raw material and lots of trained workers sitting around doing nothing? If not, why has the insulation of the worst properties not already been installed?

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 31, 2022 12:52 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 7:21 pm
What I'm getting at is we need to shift a massive amount of resources to:

1) Transformation of energy generation (incl energy reduction via insulation etc)
2) Healthcare (incl mental health)
3) Care for elderly
4) Transformation of transport
5) Higher investment in education
6) Defense repositioning/rebuild (hopefully temporary Ukraine requirement)
7) Climate adaptation, flood defences etc

Plus a few other long term investments like fibre-optic connections to every home and a functioning sewage system.

We can't have everything. It always feels to me like the rest of you also want this list, while still wanting everything else in the status quo like restaurants and cars and foreign holidays.

There's not enough resources. We're not as rich as we think we are. We have to cut back in some areas if we are to invest resources on others.

And I think nobody else has any sense of how terrible this is going to be. If I was in power I'd be trying to shift more of the pain onto the top deciles but there's no way to shield everyone else. There's simply no way through this without a huge slump in what we think of as traditional living standards where we have all the nice things we like.
It seems that you're arguing that as with everything there is a tradeoff. Any massive shift of resources over a short period will result in people who gain and people who loose out. The problem with the UK and similar states is that a large part, perhaps a majority, or the electorate perceives it has an interest in the status quo remaining (or at least that any negative effects should be felt by other people). The current crisis offers an opportunity. Very high energy prices cause serious hardship which will also push people to make changes themselves (spending money to insulate their homes) and to support massive government intervention and the higher taxes that entails. There's a difficult balancing act. We need to provide people with enough targeted support so that they aren't destitute. But too much support will result in the continuing dominance of conservative complacency. If that balancing act could be got right then the UK (and other European states) might make a dramatic advance in decarbonizing the economy.

In utilitarian terms that strategy might result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

But, is if feasible? In practice 'shifting resources' at that scale means that millions of workers need to be retrained or re-deployed, and they need to get hold of different materials and products. That transformation would take years.* Maybe the pain of the winter of 2022/2023 will be a distant memory by the time that the transformation happens.



*People keep mentioning WW2, but don't forget that British rearmament started in 1932 and was intensified in 1934.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:14 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 7:21 pm
What I'm getting at is we need to shift a massive amount of resources to:

1) Transformation of energy generation (incl energy reduction via insulation etc)
2) Healthcare (incl mental health)
3) Care for elderly
4) Transformation of transport
5) Higher investment in education
6) Defense repositioning/rebuild (hopefully temporary Ukraine requirement)
7) Climate adaptation, flood defences etc

Plus a few other long term investments like fibre-optic connections to every home and a functioning sewage system.

We can't have everything. It always feels to me like the rest of you also want this list, while still wanting everything else in the status quo like restaurants and cars and foreign holidays.

There's not enough resources. We're not as rich as we think we are. We have to cut back in some areas if we are to invest resources on others.

And I think nobody else has any sense of how terrible this is going to be. If I was in power I'd be trying to shift more of the pain onto the top deciles but there's no way to shield everyone else. There's simply no way through this without a huge slump in what we think of as traditional living standards where we have all the nice things we like.
And curiously over the 10 years up to the pandemic total public spending (as % of gdp) was at historically high levels, even at the end when it had fallen back after the financial crisis. I'm supposed to be an economist and I can't really make sense of where that money was going and why we seemed to have to cut back on the kinds of public expenditure we value when public expenditure was so high.

Basically, you are arguing for much higher taxes, so that these public investments replace general consumer consumption - the cars and restaurants, etc. And, guess what, those civilised countries the other side of the North Sea have much higher taxes than us. It's hardly unusual.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:55 pm

IvanV wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:14 pm
lpm wrote:
Tue Aug 30, 2022 7:21 pm
What I'm getting at is we need to shift a massive amount of resources to:

1) Transformation of energy generation (incl energy reduction via insulation etc)
2) Healthcare (incl mental health)
3) Care for elderly
4) Transformation of transport
5) Higher investment in education
6) Defense repositioning/rebuild (hopefully temporary Ukraine requirement)
7) Climate adaptation, flood defences etc

Plus a few other long term investments like fibre-optic connections to every home and a functioning sewage system.

We can't have everything. It always feels to me like the rest of you also want this list, while still wanting everything else in the status quo like restaurants and cars and foreign holidays.

There's not enough resources. We're not as rich as we think we are. We have to cut back in some areas if we are to invest resources on others.

And I think nobody else has any sense of how terrible this is going to be. If I was in power I'd be trying to shift more of the pain onto the top deciles but there's no way to shield everyone else. There's simply no way through this without a huge slump in what we think of as traditional living standards where we have all the nice things we like.
And curiously over the 10 years up to the pandemic total public spending (as % of gdp) was at historically high levels, even at the end when it had fallen back after the financial crisis. I'm supposed to be an economist and I can't really make sense of where that money was going and why we seemed to have to cut back on the kinds of public expenditure we value when public expenditure was so high.
Public expenditure just before Covid was at a similar level to the early 2000s, but yes, that was higher then it was in the 90s and as far back as the early 80s (when mass unemployment use a lot of government expenditure). Graph: https://www.statista.com/statistics/298 ... ingdom-uk/

As for what happened, my suggestion is healthcare. An ageing population means that expenditure has increased every year. In real terms its about three times as high now compared to the late 90s. However, spending hasn't been enough to cover the increase in need. So the NHS remains underfunded and Covid has left a huge increase in need.
IvanV wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:14 pm
Basically, you are arguing for much higher taxes, so that these public investments replace general consumer consumption - the cars and restaurants, etc. And, guess what, those civilised countries the other side of the North Sea have much higher taxes than us. It's hardly unusual.
Yes, if people want Scandinavian levels of services then they need to pay another 10% or so of their GDP in taxes: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/6c4 ... en#fig2-22

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Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:56 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 12:52 pm
It seems that you're arguing that as with everything there is a tradeoff. Any massive shift of resources over a short period will result in people who gain and people who loose out. The problem with the UK and similar states is that a large part, perhaps a majority, or the electorate perceives it has an interest in the status quo remaining (or at least that any negative effects should be felt by other people). The current crisis offers an opportunity. Very high energy prices cause serious hardship which will also push people to make changes themselves (spending money to insulate their homes) and to support massive government intervention and the higher taxes that entails. There's a difficult balancing act. We need to provide people with enough targeted support so that they aren't destitute. But too much support will result in the continuing dominance of conservative complacency. If that balancing act could be got right then the UK (and other European states) might make a dramatic advance in decarbonizing the economy.

In utilitarian terms that strategy might result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

But, is if feasible? In practice 'shifting resources' at that scale means that millions of workers need to be retrained or re-deployed, and they need to get hold of different materials and products. That transformation would take years.* Maybe the pain of the winter of 2022/2023 will be a distant memory by the time that the transformation happens.

*People keep mentioning WW2, but don't forget that British rearmament started in 1932 and was intensified in 1934.
The WW2 example is encouraging, only taking 13 years from start to finish. Modern economies and production are probably slower. But even so we could achieve a massive shift in just two or three decades and emerge with resilient infrastructure and a rebalanced economy.

But the lure of the status quo is so strong. The Labour Party policy is basically "The status quo is terrible... so let's spend £100 bn propping it up". This forum is packed full of "The status quo is terrible... but now is not the time to act". I don't understand it. The climate breakdown is happening around us but we seem determined to ignore the biggest opportunity we've ever had to achieve what we've been frustrated on.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Wed Aug 31, 2022 2:12 pm

IvanV wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:14 pm
Basically, you are arguing for much higher taxes, so that these public investments replace general consumer consumption - the cars and restaurants, etc. And, guess what, those civilised countries the other side of the North Sea have much higher taxes than us. It's hardly unusual.
Yes, clearly we need a much lower C, and higher I and G.

But I would challenge the conventional definition of living standards. We might have lower C in new iPhones and nights out and foreign holidays. But there's personal satisfaction to be had from knowing your parents have great social care, or that a thriving NHS is ready to treat you if you fall ill. And owning insulation or solar panels will give feelings of security, not having sewage on your beaches is always nice, and there's enjoyment from knowing your children are getting an education fit for the future. I'm not sure how we could value those living standards in £ terms but that doesn't make them meaningless.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Bird on a Fire » Wed Aug 31, 2022 2:48 pm

I'm not sure I'm too concerned about what Labour are saying at the moment, btw. Their main strategy seems to be to say barely anything about anything.

By asking for a bit more help with the immediate crisis, Labour can highlight the Tories' lack of any ideas whatsoever, and show up how callous and useless they are at a time when most voters will be scared and suffering.

But they're not going to announce a big transformative plan, with high taxes and high spending, especially not on stuff like decarbonisation and improving living standards and all that jazz. They tried that in 2019, and while voters preferred it to most of Labour's post-Blair manifestos it was pilloried in the media - including by many Labour MPs - as being idealistic, Stalinist, childish, Venezuelan, incompetent, woke, loony-left class-envy, etc. etc.

And maybe at least parts of that particular manifesto deserved the criticism. But the challenge for Labour, as opposed to for Scrutineers, isn't to come up with a good idea. It is, apparently, not to say anything that can be attacked by the Tory press and the further-right members of the party itself. Which, given those elements' propensity to lie blatantly about anything and everything, means not saying anything.

Though I'd be interested in hearing a plan that would be impervious to right-wing lies.

I like to think Labour would suddenly change tack if they get elected, and invest in the kinds of transformative stuff you're talking about, but obviously if they're any good at their current strategy I'll never have any evidence of that till it happens.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Wed Aug 31, 2022 4:41 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Wed Aug 31, 2022 2:48 pm
Though I'd be interested in hearing a plan that would be impervious to right-wing lies.
Ronald Reagan said a lot of stuff that had poor consistency with the facts in his very successful election campaign. The Democrats exposed this mercilessly, but it had very little effect. What this illustrates is that what matters for winning a campaign is not whether what these politicians say is true or not - though telling the wrong kind of lie can rebound very badly. What matters instead is the emotional connection they obtain with voters, through the kinds of ideas they express and the way they express them. A lot of Americans were simply taken by Reagan's vision for their country, and the rest was just noise.

In a way, this is kind of like populism, and explains why populism is so effective. Populism is saying what people what to hear, regardless of its consistency with reality, itself, or anything. The moral politician needs to have a sufficient connection with reality in what he says, to avoid being characterised as a populist. Though populists have suceeded regardless of being so outed.

Labour's difficulty in achieving this is that the population it has to appeal to is diverse, more diverse than the Tory's core market of "middle England". Labour today combines ts traditional working class base and better off urban liberal types. Each on its own is too small to stand up to the Tories. But these two groups have enough differences that devising messages that doesn't annoy one of them is tricky. It's a similar problem the Democrats have in the US.

The size of Labour's task in winning an election is increased by the loss of their former stronghold in Scotland to the SNP. It will be further increased if large-scale boundary changes go through before an election. The Boundary Commission is due to report in July 2023. I don't know how long it takes from there to revised boundaries in use. Though it won't be as bad for Labour as it would have been if it had happened 10 or 15 years ago, due to the changed role of Scotland and the "red wall" in elections. Then there's issues over the rejuvenation of the Lib-Dems, which means that Labour might get a bit less of the swing against the Tories.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:20 pm

The Great Kettle Miracle.

Apparently we can invest £20 in a new kettle and save £10 in the coming year.

Not sure of the science behind this genius idea. Crappy old electricals waste energy via heat. I'm no kettleologist, but as I understand it you'd want a kettle to get hot in order to raise the temperature of a liquid.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Opti » Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:38 pm

Even better idea: Spend about £300 on an induction hob and boil a cupful in a saucepan. Easy!
Time for a big fat one.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Gfamily » Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:55 pm

In
Not having watched the visit, I've no idea what he meant, but when I was looking for a new kettle, I found a few 'styled' ones that had a MIN mark at 0.7 litres, so unless you're consistently making hot drinks for two or three people, you'll be consistently boiling more water than you need.

The one we bought does .25l, so is much more economical. It also unlatches the 'on' switch when you lift it off the base, so it doesn't keep heating the element when you put it back down.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by WFJ » Thu Sep 01, 2022 1:09 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:55 pm
In
Not having watched the visit, I've no idea what he meant, but when I was looking for a new kettle, I found a few 'styled' ones that had a MIN mark at 0.7 litres, so unless you're consistently making hot drinks for two or three people, you'll be consistently boiling more water than you need.

The one we bought does .25l, so is much more economical. It also unlatches the 'on' switch when you lift it off the base, so it doesn't keep heating the element when you put it back down.
Almost all kettles have elements built into the base these days, so the stated minima are not that important. They just ensure enough steam to trip the off sensor. They will also have some tolerance built in for people who live in hard water whose sensor flues get gummed up with chalk.

If you turn the kettle off when you hear it boiling, provided you have enough liquid that it doesn't boil dry, you can boil any amount safely.
Last edited by WFJ on Thu Sep 01, 2022 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by kerrya1 » Thu Sep 01, 2022 1:11 pm

Opti wrote:
Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:38 pm
Even better idea: Spend about £300 on an induction hob and boil a cupful in a saucepan. Easy!
Someone was sharing a table the other day claiming that using a single ring on an induction hob costs £1 per hour. I was under the, possibly mistaken, impression that induction hobs were more energy efficient that gas or standard electric - now I'm going to have to go look it up.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Opti » Thu Sep 01, 2022 1:49 pm

Induction hobs are a much more efficient use of energy.
Did your table-sharer give an equivalent cost for a radiant ring?
Anything that draws ~ 2kw is going to cost money, but an induction hob uses that energy more efficiently.

BTW, mine cost a good deal more than £300 but it does loads of useful things and I didn't have to buy any new pans. It's noticeably cheaper to run than the ceramic hob that was here when we moved in. I love it.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Thu Sep 01, 2022 5:06 pm

A helpful chart showing the benefit of the Great Kettle Miracle:

Image
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Fishnut » Thu Sep 01, 2022 9:17 pm

Care homes are at risk of closure over cost of energy bills. And the 'warm banks' plan for using museums and libraries as places for people to stay warm if they can't afford to heat their homes is at risk as they may have to reduce hours due to unaffordable bills. And while I don't have any recent stories, I've heard from good authority that council-run swimming pools may face reduced hours or even closure due to rising costs.
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Re: The cost of living

Post by Millennie Al » Fri Sep 02, 2022 2:28 am

kerrya1 wrote:
Thu Sep 01, 2022 1:11 pm
Someone was sharing a table the other day claiming that using a single ring on an induction hob costs £1 per hour. I was under the, possibly mistaken, impression that induction hobs were more energy efficient that gas or standard electric - now I'm going to have to go look it up.
I found this: https://chefspick.co.uk/how-much-electr ... n-hob-use/ while checking the exact figures. It seems to cover most of it. The true cost being more like 50p. But one thing it doesn't cover very well is that induction hobs transfer the energy to the pan much more efficiently, so you don't normally run them at full power. It does say that they are 84% efficient compared to 74% for gas and ceramic hobs, but I suspect that's not accurate as if you use a gas cooker, it's quickly very obvious that a lot of heat is escaping around the pan unless you have a very big pan or turn the gas down very low.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Nickynockynoonoo » Fri Sep 02, 2022 10:37 am

Opti wrote:
Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:38 pm
Even better idea: Spend about £300 on an induction hob and boil a cupful in a saucepan. Easy!
When we first got our induction hob we raced it against our kettle. Both with 1L water. The large ring on boost is 3kW so is our kettle. Guess what? They both boiled at exactly the same time. :lol: I'd say our kettle is pretty efficient.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by Gfamily » Fri Sep 02, 2022 11:17 am

Nickynockynoonoo wrote:
Fri Sep 02, 2022 10:37 am
Opti wrote:
Thu Sep 01, 2022 12:38 pm
Even better idea: Spend about £300 on an induction hob and boil a cupful in a saucepan. Easy!
When we first got our induction hob we raced it against our kettle. Both with 1L water. The large ring on boost is 3kW so is our kettle. Guess what? They both boiled at exactly the same time. :lol: I'd say our kettle is pretty efficient.
Would be interesting to compare with 1 or 2 cups, as that (for us anyway) is the more usual amount for a kettle boil.

I thought I read somewhere that using a microwave is more efficient than using an electric kettle (but leads to higher humidity than they're designed for, so could reduce lifespan of the microwave oven)
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Re: The cost of living

Post by dyqik » Fri Sep 02, 2022 11:26 am

There's also the risk of superheating water in a microwave, and scalds from that.

Or burns from overheated mug handles, etc.

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Re: The cost of living

Post by insignificant » Fri Sep 02, 2022 2:18 pm

The energy saving is probably trivial, but I've been filling my tea or coffee cups with water > pour in to kettle > boil ever since I got a kettle with a concealed element (RH Buckingham quiet boil)

People I live with always fill the kettle from the tap and boil more water than they need to

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