Cower Ye Peasants!

Second Rees-Mogg was wrong to say that beating the tax gap meant more tax had to be paid. It might, of course. But I strongly suggest that since tax is primarily a tool of fiscal policy designed to beat inflation above all other goals then revenue maximisation is not the goal of any government. Rather the aim should always be to raise the required amount of tax as equitably as possible to achieve that fiscal goal in ways that achieve the secondary (but vital) goals of redistribution, repricing market failure, reorganising the economy and reinforcing the relationship between the citizen and the state.

That being, I suggest, what the Senior Lecturer thinks is the correct relationship which should be reinforced?

Astonishingly, official and other research data on tax is frequently inaccurate.

So too often is GDP data, which makes tax gap estimation hard.

And even the number of taxpayers is frequently subject to misreporting between data sources.

At its most basic level understanding tax is hard because official statistics seem to be perversely dedicated to ensuring that we cannot know the truth.

And when it comes to tax gaps, there is too little research and even too much denial that the issue is of consequence.

There’s the pitch for the next series of grants.

But it’s an amusing confirmation of Hayek, isn’t it? Which leads to an interesting question. How can the State be Curajus if no bugger knows what is going on?

Cool

Amongst the many things I do not claim to be is a fashion aficionado. If style is your thing then this is probably not the place to be. However, I have been aware since being a teenager that there are some who suggest that the national economic mood can be assessed by the mean skirt length of those who choose to wear them. The shorter the length, the more optimistic the mood is the unsurprising theory.

Sitting in the Eurostar departure area this morning with a sample of hundreds to observe I could not help but notice how much closer to the ankle many hem lengths are when compared to those of recent years. There were exceptions, of course, and I accept the sample is biased. But the portent is not good if the theory holds true.

The federasts – for that is who will be getting onto a train to Brussels early in the morning – are depressed.

Good.

Eh?

What’s next for Brett Kavanaugh? The US supreme court nominee’s path to the bench has been stalled by accusations that he tried to rape a girl when they were both in high school; that girl, now a professor in her 50s, initially tried to tell her story anonymously, but put her name to the charges when it became clear she was going to be outed anyway.

Drunken teenage fumbles – the allegation itself – are now rape?

Well, why not?

An Iranian couple who asked a GP to carry out a virginity test on their 18-year-old daughter after discovering she had a secret boyfriend, have gone on trial charged for subjecting her to coercive or controlling behaviour.

Mitra Eidiani, 42, and husband Ali Safaraei, 56, are thought to be the first parents to be charged under the law that was brought in three years ago to clamp down on people who subject their partners to psychological abuse.

Well, why not? This isn’t something we normally do, to be sure. But now be in a culture where virginity determines the possibility of a good marriage or not.

And is that really controlling behaviour?

So why doesn’t anyone do this?

Harris’ augment is simple: it is that British politics is not listening to what people really want. And to hear it you have to go – as he does – to the places where it is being said. It is doing what the economist Danny Blanchflower calls ‘going walkabouts’ to ignore the formulas, assumptions and preconceptions and actually observe what is really happening in life.

I have long argued that what people really want in life is enough to live on, to live in community, to have the support of family and friends and to feel that they have a purpose as a result. That’s what my whole book ‘The Courageous State’ is really all about, in a sentence.

And no one is offering these things in British politics right now. There is simply too much flag waving on left and right for most people.

Both Rotherham and Brexit would have been rather different if people had been listening earlier, no?

A focus on housing, education, health, jobs, local services and invetsment in communities is what the British want of their politics. The rest they will tolerate because the political classes want it. But politics has forgotten it is about people’s ordinary lives first.

And possibly not mass immigration and the European Union?

Managed democracy

Even by Russian election standards – the kind that has given us 146 percent voter turnouts – this was a magical turnaround.

With 95 per cent of the votes counted in the gubernatorial elections in Russia’s Far East Primorsky Krai, the Kremlin’s candidate, Andrei Tarasenko was a full five points behind his challenger, Communist Andrei Ishchenko.

But in a sensational final sprint, Mr Tarasenko added an improbable 13,000 votes, equating to nearly 100 percent of the vote in the last one percent of precincts. Even more miraculous was the fact his challenger Mr Ishchenko lost five votes in the process.

There’s a certain richness to the story, given their own electoral habits when they had power, that it happened to a communist.

So the EU won’t be passing any new laws then?

The European Union is insisting on cast iron guarantees that Britain will not attempt to reopen the terms of any Brexit deal after it has been signed, confidential diplomatic notes reveal.

The Times has learnt that, in a rebuff to Michael Gove, Brussels is preparing to demand that Theresa May makes “credible” assurances that any deal will not be unpicked by her successor.

Because new laws and regulations which apply to Britain as a result of a deal would indeed by unpicking it, wouldn’t they?

The things DNA can tell us

‘Your father’s not your father’: when DNA tests reveal more than you bargained for

It does, for obvious reasons, tend to be fathers too.

Sure, intellectually we’ve known that there’s a lot of it about. But society has rather blind eyed it – certainly the law on such things as maintenance etc has. Especially the American system in places.

The thing is, now that we’ve this proof ability, is that legal system going to change? Logically it should of course but will logic make it through he accumulated special interests?

Regulator looking for expanded powers

Such a surprise that a bureaucracy looks for this, eh?

Twelve million people in Britain have been harmed by social media and the internet because online firms escape regulation, the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom will warn on Tuesday.

Sharon White, the regulator’s chief executive, will reveal research showing that one in five people in the UK have experienced harmful content or conduct ranging from bullying and harassment to fraud and violence.

“Harmful content” eh?

Oh dear, accountant cannot add

How much have we paid? Any figure will be an estimate but there’s an easy way to guess. In the years 1998 to March 2008 the Labour Government borrowed a total of £186bn to keep the government and economy going. They prevented a recession after the dot.com crash of 2000 by doing so. In the ten years from April 2008 to March 2018 the government borrowed £990 billion – or more than five times as much. That almost certainly would not have happened without the crash. It’s a very crude measure but the difference – or about £800 billion is one way of estimating the cost of the crash. Roughly speaking that’s £25,000 a household.

No, that’s not the way to do it. Especially for someone who insists that QE will never be unwound and therefore doesn’t exist….

In the meantime public spending has been slashed.

That’s not actually true. I mean, the man can add up can’t he? Number of pounds being spent is higher or lower than then?

This actually is interesting

But a senior staffer for a Republican on the judiciary committee told the Guardian that as long as Kavanaugh categorically denies the allegation, there is no way to overcome the “innocent until proven guilty” threshold and justify altering the vote.

The source acknowledged that adding a name and a face changed the calculus to a degree but said a number of Republicans feel there is not enough to investigate, with the accuser understandably forgetting details and with no corroborating witnesses.

Well, no, here is a witness, the third person in the room.

According to her account, she escaped when Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Preparatory School friend, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, “sending all three tumbling”. She said she ran, locked herself in a bathroom, then fled the house.

Judge told the Weekly Standard he had “no recollection of any of the events described in today’s Post article or attributed to her letter”.

But who does it corroborate?

Well, yes, maybe so, but…..

The next downturn could rival the Great Depression and wipe $10 trillion off US household assets

The but being, US household assets are about $100 trillion. A 10% decline is rather less scary really. Further, $10 trillion is about how much they’ve gone up in value in 18 months or so (about $2 trillion a quarter recently).

Such a decline ain’t nice but…..

The world’s major economies are skating on dangerously thin ice and lack the fiscal, monetary, and emergency tools to fight the next downturn.

A roster of top crisis veterans fear an even more intractable slump than the Lehman recession when the current ageing expansion rolls over. The implications for liberal democracy are sobering.

“We have no ability to turn the economy around,” said Martin Feldstein, President of the US National Bureau of Economic Research.

“When the next recession comes, it is going to be deeper and last longer than in the past. We don’t have any strategy to deal with it,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Well, according to the best research (Milton Friedman) what caused the Depression was bad government policy. So, as long as we don’t repeat FDR’s mistakes we’ll not have another one. Sure, we might not have the stuff to fight the next recession but that’s a different matter, that being why we call one thing a recession, the other a depression.

Oh, and yes, a $10 trillion hit to household assets would cause a recession, the wealth effect would take care of that.But then the business cycle will always be with us.

Sounds entirely plausible

Soot particles have been discovered in the placentas of pregnant women for the first time, leading scientists to warn that pollution may directly harm unborn babies.

Researchers discovered small black areas in the organ that surrounds the foetus in five mothers-to-be who were living in London.

Until now there has only been limited evidence that inhaled pollution particles can access the bloodstream via the lungs.

But the discovery of carbon particles in an organ so crucial for pregnancy helps explain data suggesting that women living in polluted areas are more prone to premature birth and having low-birthweight babies.

Assume that the particles can get into the blood. The placenta is where we’d rather hope that some such would get caught, that being what it is, a blood filter. And yes, OK, assume all of that and maybe we have found one of the reasons why air pollution causes low birth weights.

Now, I’ve no specialist knowledge at all so don’t know whether the basic assumption is sensible or not. BiG will know.

OK. Then there’s the joy of Telegraph reporting, the placenta surrounds the foetus, does it?

And then there’s the big point. Lucky we’ve reduced air pollution in recent decades then, isn’t it? Which presumable is why babies are bigger these days?

All a bit minority report but…..

Councils are said to be using hundreds of thousands of people’s data to try and predict child abuse, it has emerged.

Five local authorities, Thurrock, Brent, Bristol, Hackney and Newham are accused of using 377,000 people’s data to create an algorithm which would allow social workers to intervene with families perceived of as needing attention from child services.

Among the information gathered are school attendance and exclusion records, housing association repairs and arrears information, and police records on antisocial behaviour and domestic violence, according to The Guardian.

But the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) told The Telegraph it was looking into the practice.

A spokesman said: “All organisations have a duty to look after personal information in their care but records involving children – often sensitive personal data – require particularly robust measures.

“The use of predictive analytics to for child safeguarding is clearly an activity that is likely to have a significant impact on the privacy of individuals.

“We would therefore expect any council using such technology to have fully considered the privacy risks, including conducting a thorough Data Protection Impact Assessment,and to have taken steps to address those risks.

“We will be making further enquiries to ensure that the use of this technology is compliant with data protection law.”

It’s an obvious enough area to be trying to use AI to predict problems. What are the common factors etc? Any warning signs etc?

We could even aid in writing the decision tree.

Has Mummy got a new scrote boyfriend?

Well, why not?

Ten years after Lehman Brothers collapsed, high-octane products like those which led to the destruction of the American banking giant are making a comeback.

A decade ago Lehman heavily pursued subprime mortgage-backed loans, which were put into complex bundles obscuring their risk and value. This left the firm highly exposed to movements in the housing market and eventually triggered the biggest bankruptcy in US history.

These mortgage-backed securities which have become the most identifiable trigger for the financial crisis are now attracting fresh interest among investors. This is despite some market experts describing the housing market as a “bubble on a bubble”.

Nowt wrong with sub prime mortgages as long as they’re priced right. And as long as the holders aren’t leveraged banks.

What’s the problem?

Well, yes, but the thing is, you see…..

Senior Labour figures and the family of former party leader Michael Foot have reacted with anger over the re-emergence of the explosive claim that he was a paid Soviet informant.

Neil Kinnock, who succeeded Foot as Labour leader, said his predecessor had been a “passionate and continual critic of the Soviet Union” in response to the allegation that MI6 believed Foot had been a paid informant.

We do know that some were indeed actual Soviet agents within the Labour Party. In a manner in which we really didn’t have any of Hitler’s, nor Mussolini’s, in the Tories (Moseley was an offshoot of Labour of course). And if we widen our look to a bit more of the left the Morning Star was funded by Moscow gold or decades. And Richard Gott at The Guardian – he’s occasionally back in the fold, isn’t he?

That is, our question isn’t whether there were such paid agents and informants around. It’s only over who they were. Too many, obviously, but how many too many?

So, have I understood the idea of “adserver” technology correctly?

Just a bit of technical background if someone can help me out. This.

In November, Timehop instructed some of its product engineers to begin building an ad server that focused on its own inventory, mobile-only. Leviev said they also wanted to maximize CPM and fill rate, not just choose one or the other. Currently, the system integrates with about 15 SSPs and DSP, the exact number depending on the day.

So, the mental image I’ve got is this.

Starting position, they’re signed up to, say, Google. Which just fills their space with whatever Google decides at whatever rate (and thus Google profit margin) it thinks it can get away with.

So, they take control of their own ad space. Their “adserver” now talks to 15 or more other pieces of software.

Might be Google, and Amazon, and Advertising.com – say – forcing them to compete for access to the space and thereby gaining better pricing. Or perhaps it goes up a level and connects into the Ogilvy and Mather, WPP etc ad buying operations to do the same thing? Leaps over that step of the ad networks themselves?

Presumably, the adserver then takes the best offers on space. Perhaps with some fill from the networks to cover space that doesn’t sell directly?

Have I got this roughly right? Not technically, because that’s beyond me. But as a general idea of the logical structure here?

That at some point of volume it’s worth bypassing the ad networks? That is, to do what the internet does so well, disintermediate?