The terrors of fuel poverty

There are now more than 2.3 million families living in fuel poverty in England – that’s the equivalent of 10% of all households. “Fuel poverty” is in many ways a political euphemism for desperation; for worrying that your children are cold in their beds, or having to skip meals to stay warm. One in six people are cutting back on food to pay their energy bills, according to the charity Turn2Us. One in six disabled people have to wear coats inside to keep warm.

One obvious point is that perhaps we shouldn’t be making energy more expensive through greenery.

The other might be, well, when wasn’t it true that poor people were cold in winter? Actually, when weren’t rich people cold in winter? Extensive central heating really only became common in the 1980s, didn’t it? So everyone before that lived in fuel poverty, no?

This is rather good

Yes, it’s in The Guardian and it’s on economics. But it’s also rather good.

The one addition I would have made is to point out that Hayes was unimportant but bad. Sure, he fiddled Libor. But so were many others and the cumulative effect largely cancelled out.

The other fiddling, all the banks grossly under reporting in the crisis, was very important and good. Still fiddling of course, but who really would have wanted to see 14 day Libor being quoted as infinite?

Err, yes Jean, this is how it works

Thus far, we get it: the UK will be treated like any other third country – Zimbabwe, for instance. That’s clear and “clean”. But after that it gets complicated, at least for a continental mind that lacks the subtleties of reflection of a product of Oxbridge. Because May considers it possible for British companies to retain the greatest possible access to the single market, in particular to negotiate sectoral customs agreements with the union. And that’s where things get interesting. Because customs duty or no, importing goods into a market presupposes compliance with local norms and standards: to be clear, if the British want to export their cars (which are in fact German or Japanese cars) to the continent, they need to respect European laws. That means submitting (I know, what an awful word) to those laws. So in reality, the clear, “clean break” could only concern one part of UK industry – the part that manufactures for the local market.

And British cars that go to the US meet US standards, and British cars that go to South Africa meet Jaapie standards and so on and on. That’s just how local standards work you see?

Why Oxbridge is necessary to understand this remains unexplained.

Hang all councillors

Look , local government really is about making sure that the bins are collected:

In Conwy, recycling, food waste and nappy bins are collected every week, but the general waste bins are only taken once every four weeks.

This is, of course, because of EU targets about recycling. Targets which we can dump rather shortly.

But seriously folks, this is government failure on a grand scale.

Tee hee

Mr Johnson’s comments came during a visit to India, when he was asked about a reported comment from one of Mr Hollande’s aides, who said Britain should not expect a better trading relationship with Europe from outside the EU.

The Foreign Secretary responded: “If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anyone who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War Two movie, then I don’t think that’s the way forward.

“It’s not in the interests of our friends or our partners.”

The joy of such comments is that they annoy all the right people. Spudmonster, for example, has apologised to the French on behalf of us all.

The professor of political something or other doesn’t understand the political then

The net result is that May thinks she has torn up the basis on which almost all our international relations are defined; has threatened to change the entire cost structure of our economy; has utterly changed our rights to travel and reside elsewhere; has threatened the residence of three million people living peaceably in this country and that of maybe two million more living in the EU; has threatened economic warfare; and has done all this without three things.

The first is a mandate: the referendum clearly did not sanction these actions as they were not referred to.

Err, the referendum very definitely discussed whether or not we should leave the EU. And freedom of movement was most certainly mentioned, as was membership or not of the single market and so on.

The second is authority: she is herself unelected.

Going back, umm, which PMs got into office in roughly the manner that May did? You know, leave aside that we don’t actually elect them directly wanyway, let’s at least say people who weren’t running their respective party at the time of the previous election?

I’ve got May, Brown, Major, Callaghan, Hume, Macmillan, Eden and Churchill in 1940. Which is a majority of PMs since then, no, we can only add Cameron, Blair, Thatcher, Heath, Wilson and Attlee.

So, it would appear that a British PM becoming so by not leading a party triumphantly at a General Election (what I take the Spud to mean by “elected”) in in fact the modal manner of becoming PM.

And before that Chamberlain, Baldwin (first time), MacDonald (first time), Bonar Law, Lloyd George, Asquith, Balfour……and before that we get to PMs in the Lords n’stuff.

So, even in the sense that Ritchie means PMs aren’t elected.

That political in his title is looking a bit odd, no?

The third is any apparent idea as to the consequences, none of which she appears to have reasonably anticipated, let alone explained or costed.

But aren’t we supposed to be ruled by Curajus politicians who just tell us all what to do?

What has happened then? It would quite reasonably seem that a government without a mandate has taken power without the necessary authority to do so and is using that power to ensure that the politics, economy and constitution of the state are to be irrevocably (it hopes) changed. I can’t quite call that a coup, but it is about as close to one as it gets. If that gives rise to a backlash in the future when the consequences become even more apparent I really would not be surprised. Treating much of the country with the contempt that so much of her language revealed yesterday is not a basis for political stability.

And that worries me almost as much as the near coup itself.

Hmm. Maybe that international lithium shortage has found a victim?

Clever and smart aren’t quite the same thing

Britons should learn Polish and Urdu to be more welcoming to immigrants, a Cambridge University professor has said.
Wendy Ayres-Bennett, professor of French philology and linguistics at the university, said it was ‘very important to think of integration as a two-way street.’
She has backed calls for immigrants to learn English once they arrive, but wants Brits to make more of an effort to adapt.


Yes, yes, we know the touchy feely goodie stuff. But which language is it that Britons should learn? There’re what, 300 odd serious contenders for being worth half a decade’s serious study out there. Should someone in Doncaster learn Polish, or Czech, Belarussian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Sorb, Wend, Serbo Croat, just to pick a few of the Slavic languages?

So, it’s Vova who understands these things then

Speaking at a press conference with Molodovan president Igor Dodon in the Kremlin on Tuesday, Mr Putin said the dossier was “an obvious fake” and ridiculed the suggestion that the Russian secret services “chase after every American billionaire.”

He also suggested Mr Trump would not have fallen for a honey trap if one had been laid, asking: “He arrived here and immediately ran off to meet Moscow prostitutes?”

“This is an adult and, moreover, a man who for many years has organised beauty contests. He socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. I can hardly imagine he rushed to the hotel to meet our girls of lower social responsibility -even though they are the best in the world, of course.”

“We are witnessing an ongoing acute political struggle in the US, whose task is to undermine the legitimacy of the president-elect,” he said. “The people doing this are doing enormous damage to American national interests.”

And isn’t girls of lower social responsibility such a lovely way of phrasing it?

So Trump was right then?

For example, Trump wrongly stated that “the Democratic National Committee was totally open to be hacked. They did a very poor job. … And they tried to hack the Republican National Committee, and they were unable to break through.”

Baloney.FBI Director James B. Comey said there was evidence that Republican National Committee computers were also targeted. The critical difference, according to Comey, was that none of the information obtained from the RNC was leaked. Also, according to Comey, the Russians “got far deeper and wider into the [DNC] than the RNC,” adding that “similar techniques were used in both cases.”

Professors says we should all be poorer

We could leave the EU to cut trade to reduce emissions, to bolster local business, reduce trade deficits, close down tax haven activity, cut the tax gap by imposing capital controls, increase wages by favouring UK employment and leading the way in how to make the global economy local.

There’s quite a bit more nationalism to the socialism than usual, isn’t there?


the economy but the reality is that a falling pound, caused by Brexit, whilst there is rising consumption, fuelled by debt, means we will have a growing trade deficit

Trade deficits are caused by declining currencies, are they?

Solving Oxfam’s problem

Oxfam has told us all that 8 people have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of humanity and this is an outrage, Something Must Be Done. OK, so, let us think about what must be done then. The most obvious point being that we should reverse the outrage. Take all the money off the rich people and give it to the poor people. At which point that 50% of humanity would each get $100 or so.

This is not actually a solution to anything at all, is it? Thus the original problem being complained of is not a problem, is not an outrage and does not require that something be done.

Err, hello?

When you see a man looking at porn in public (and yes, I know it’s not all men but a minority of them), aside from laughing, or feeling scared, or uncomfortable, you might also experience a sense of awe. Imagine, just imagine, having such a sense of ownership of and entitlement to public space that your need to watch a naked woman being penetrated outweighs the discomfort of the women (and children) in the physical environment around you catching you watching it. The lack of respect is staggering.

I thought we were supposed to celebrate other peoples’ sexuality these days?

What motivates Oxfam?

At which point we have to ask why Oxfam is perpetrating this drivel upon the public sphere. And I’m afraid that the only answer I can come up with is a very cynical one. Drawn from the insights of that arch-cynic (although he was also right) C. Northcote Parkinson. No bureaucracy is ever ready to go into that long dark night, the aim and purpose of a bureaucracy is simply for the bureaucracy to perpetuate. And anti-poverty campaigners in my native UK back in the 1950s and 60s realised that they had a problem. Absolute poverty was essentially beaten in Britain in the 1930s. Thus they couldn’t really campaign against something that didn’t exist any more. So, some moved to campaigning about the absolute poverty that persisted in other parts of the world (and Oxfam, among others, did some very good work here) and others set about redefining poverty to mean relative poverty. Or as we can also call it, inequality. For while we did manage to prove Jesus wrong, the poor would not always be with us, inequality most certainly would be.

And the current prediction is that we’ll pretty much wipe out global absolute poverty by 2030. One of the few global targets that does in fact look achievable too. At which point, what is a bureaucracy campaigning against poverty, one perhaps called Oxfam, to do? Who will provide that indoor relief for the dimmer scions of the establishment that is a campaigning NGO when there is no poverty to campaign against?

Quite, change the problem from poverty to inequality and the grandchildren of Jocelyn and Jocasta will still have someone to fund their gap yah.

On that dribbling idiocy from Oxfam

Sam Walton’s heirs have some $100 billion between them, vast piles of cash. But that is a one off sum; they’ve got that wealth the once and the once only. Out here, we consumers are getting over $250 billion a year of value from that same creation, Walmart. Over the past couple of decades we’ve had $5 trillion and they’ve had $100 billion. Surely the bargain of the century?

I’m not talking about whether the rich deserve their spoils. We are not talking rights or morality here, just pure pragmatism. The reason we’re cool with the Walmart heirs having $100 billion is because we’ve had $5 trillion out of the arrangement. And we’d like the next person who has an idea to make us $5 trillion richer to think that their kids, or even they themselves, might be allowed to keep some fraction of it.

Poverty exists and obviously we’d prefer that it didn’t. That’s why we need more rich people not fewer: because we need someone to create value for the rest of us to consume.

Seriously, who cares if they get three per cent of what we do?

Interestingly, this isn’t true

It would be one thing if the incoming commander in chief showed any hint of humility, of realizing that his duty to the nation requires showing some respect for the strong majority of Americans who voted against him despite Russian meddling and the F.B.I.’s disinformation dump.

The majority of Americans who voted voted against him but the majority of Americans did not vote against him.

A fairly important distinction there.