IN his latest dispatch from La La Land (An economic system that works? The fact is we’ve already got one, The National, January 30), Michael Fry states that “most of us get up in the mornings and go off to our jobs, come home in the evening to a healthy and on the whole happy family, all secure in our property and freedom”. He refers to those who have “fallen outside this reassuring framework” as “few” and cites the “historically low levels” of unemployment as evidence for this.

How glibly he dismisses the hardship and suffering of millions of people, including many who are actually in work. He really ought to bone up on the issue of in-work poverty, especially the increase in this in recent years. He might learn, for example, that under the ConDem coalition government the number of people in work claiming housing benefit doubled – from 600,000 in 2010 to 1.2 million in 2015.

We have a low-wage economy in which the profits of big business are propped up by taxpayer-funded working tax credits, and a Westminster-generated housing crisis/ racket which has resulted in unaffordable housing costs for increasing numbers of people, whether in or out of work. And someone really ought to point out that the record low unemployment figures are not the “good news” story they would have been 40 years ago – because what counts as “employment” has changed so much since then. Aside from all the “hidden” unemployment, we have record levels of part-time, temporary and insecure employment, including precarious barely-scraping-by self-employment.

Our economic system works alright – for those who have gained from the redistribution of wealth in an upward direction. For the rest of us, it’s rapidly going down the toilet.

Mo Maclean

I MUST disagree with Michael Fry that a low-tax, free-market economy is the solution to our problems. The measure of economic success must not just be increasing wealth for a small minority of our citizens and uncertainty and hardship for the rest. Current low levels of unemployment are the consequences of fewer people registering for benefits as a result of benefit system changes, not a real increase in productive hours worked, hiding underemployment and low wages, resulting in workers taking two or even three jobs to pay the rent or mortgage.

There are higher levels of people in self-employment without any ability to trade at a profit, and a much increased use of casual work and low- or zero-hours contracts, all possible because of this more “liberal” regime. Lower income levels, the rise in house prices above the average income of working people, and lack of affordable housing resulting in “sofa surfing” and “outbuilding” tenancies are all increasing homelessness, resulting in uncertainty and undermining family values.

The measure of success of any economy should include the fair distribution of wealth between all members of society. Both extreme liberalism and extreme socialism will never not deliver fairness to the majority.

Peter Rowberry

SO “redistribution doesn’t work”? How, then, does one explain why the Nordics are so much less unequal than we are in terms of income and wealth? We need to take a leaf out of their book, not ape the US or Germany. Iceland jailed the bankers and protected the people back in the wake of the financial crash – we did the opposite, and guess who’s till paying for it, guess who’s still having ¨austerity¨ forced upon them, and guess who’s laughing all the way to the banks in the tax havens to stash their loot?

Edward Freeman