Well, this is fun. Tim Worstall, a right-wing ‘economist’, who 9 months ago wrote a nonsense post calling me a ‘blithering idiot‘, has surfaced again. Mr Worstall takes pride in a somewhat ‘fruity’ approach to language and considers himself an exemplary ‘straight-talker’, passing off a lack of tact and insight as directness.
Well, the passage of time hasn’t mellowed his approach. Apparently, I’m now a ‘lying lefty scumbag’. Time hasn’t improved his grasp of fact and logic, either. I won’t link to his post, as I have no wish to stroke his ego by directing more traffic to his site – if you’re really keen enough to go and look, you’ll find him quickly enough via Google (other search sites are available!), but I’ll quote him directly and without editing his claims so you can make a fair judgment.
Mr Worstall attempts to go straight for the jugular:
Now, given the topics I write about, I expect a fair amount of insult and diatribe. It never troubles me overmuch, because I know that insulting language and ad hominem attacks are a common tactic for those lacking a credible counter-argument.
The second-most common tactic is to fixate on a particular detail try to cast doubt on a whole argument by finding fault with a point that’s secondary at best and often entirely irrelevant. Mr Worstall has obviously been reading the ‘Rabid Right-Wingers’ playbook’. He goes on a bit, so I can’t fit all his next passage into a single screen-capture, so excuse me for inserting it as several images – hopefully they’ll read clearly:
And then, he comes to his denouement:
Followed by (I’ll leave out what I ‘shout and scream’ in my post, since you can read that in full here)
The only small problem with Mr Worstall’s ‘demolition’ of my argument is that he’s demolishing something I haven’t said. My case, entire or otherwise, doesn’t rest on the existence or otherwise of disability claimant statistics up to 2012.
The government’s latest statistics on some aspects of disability claimants does, of course, go up to the recent past. But the government’s statistics on the drop in claimants when Incapacity Benefit (IB) was replaced by Employment Support Allowance (ESA) only goes to 2008.
It only can apply to 2008 – because that’s the only time the switch took place. Which is exactly what I said in the first place.
Of course, we often give away more than we intend when we get a little, er, irate. Mr Worstall has done so on this occasion. As you can see above, he looks at the statistics up to 2012 and confesses:
I will agree that I cannot see any mass fleeing of disability allowance in those figures.
That’s right. Of course, he can’t see any such thing – because it didn’t happen. The statistics on claimant changes because of the IB-to-ESA switch (not DLA) can’t apply to the statistics Mr Worstall ‘discovered’ – because it happened only once, in 2008.
The government and its tame media are presenting something that happened 5 years ago as if it happened now, to imply that the government’s ludicrous and callous benefit changes are not only necessary but are actually working.
The statistics don’t show anything of the sort – and in fact, because of when the period they do apply to, they show the exact opposite.
That was (and is) my ‘entire case’. If Mr Worstall is able to show that to be untrue, he should do so – and if he can’t, he’d be better keeping his mouth closed rather than ‘removing all doubt’.