Poppy Noor and statistics

Well, yes, this is The Guardian but still. On wages:

This year, prices in the private rental market dropped for the first time in six years, with the UK average rent falling to £921 a month. ONS data puts the average UK wage at around £27,000. This figure is skewed upwards by the small number of people who earn disproportionately more than the average,

She links here to show us those wages:

In April 2015 median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £528,

Just in case any Guardian writers should stumble upon this the median is where 50% of the population (here, the population being defined as full time employees) get less and 50% more. This number is not subject to distortion by those who earn disproportionately more than the average. That form of average would be the mean, which can indeed suffer from such distortion.

Our Cambridge graduate in politics and sociology doesn’t understand this. To the point that when she tries to explain it she gets it the wrong way around. Note further that the Guardian’s subs and editors are equally clueless for allowing this to go to print.

but if even you are lucky enough to earn that, you’re still spending around 50% of your wages on rent every month.

That’s a slightly different little statistical trick. The average rent is, at least I think it is (altho it doesn’t in fact matter that much for this point, it still stands if it’s the median) the mean rent across the country. And it’s the mean rent for all types of households. Four bed houses in Chelsea, bedsits in Hull.

And how many one earner households (which are in a minority note) are occupying the average amount of dwelling space for the country?

I don’t actually know, this is a guess, but I would suspect that the average (mean or median) British dwelling is a 2 or even 3 bed house. We should be comparing the rent of that against a single wage earner why?

There’s also this:

I currently live in a three-bedroom house with four other people (luckily, I live with couples) in order to bring my rent down. Far from being fancy, it was one of the cheapest places I could get – on the top floor of a council estate. Even so, I need to work at four jobs in order to afford the rent and still eat each month.

Umm, yeah. Average rent in London is higher, yes, £1,200 perhaps. Note again that’s per dwelling, not person. That rent would be split 3 ways perhaps, normal enough to split by bedroom not number of people, so £400 a month? Hell, let’s call it £600 a month for Poppy alone.

Four jobs? Umm:

Currently a Policy Officer in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Soon to be a Frontline Social Worker (July 2015 Cohort). Previously managed the QA Review for Challenge Partners. Co-founder of the Letsspeakclearly blog. Contributions to The Guardian Newspaper, Channel 4 News, The Evening Standard the ‘Yet We Still Rise’ UpRising Blog and the MyPersonality Wiki. Features in The Mirror and Varsity. London Board Member for UpRising. Pro-bono tutor for The Access Project, occassional runner for the GoodGym and an alumni of the Future First Network. Founding member and ex Vice-Captain of Trinity College Women’s Football Team and the Trinity College Politics Society. Ex-Access Officer for Trinity College.

OK, maybe she’s not updated Linked In.

Poppy Noor is a London-based freelance journalist. She writes about class, politics, inequality and education, and has provided social commentary for Channel 4 News and Newsnight.

Err, what’s her definition of a job? Freelance? Or is she counting doing a piece or two for The G as a job, doing bits for Newsnight as a job, Channel 4 another? She does get the concept of freelance, does she? By her seeming definition I’ve got 7 jobs as regular gigs……

We’re used to numeracy not being a requirement at The G but surely they still demand at least a tad of logic?

Umm, what is this poverty that we’re talking of?

Perhaps most shocking is the fact that Kensington and Chelsea actually has the highest life expectancy at birth for males, and second highest for females in the UK. There is a stark contrast within the borough – the area around Grenfell is among the top 10% most deprived in the country, and the inequalities in healthy life expectancy between those living in the tower blocks and the multimillion dollar mansions next door are the widest in the country.

I grew up in west London and spent time working as a junior psychiatrist in Kensington and Chelsea. On home visits to see patients in their council housing, I saw the destructive effects of poverty daily. Trying to make the best of their circumstances while exposed to crime and violence, struggling to feed themselves and their families, suffering from mental (and often physical) illness and sometimes using drugs and alcohol to cope. The outcomes in terms of life expectancy seemed dishearteningly predictable, but unnecessary.

Someone whose paid for by other people flat is renovated at a cost of £70,000 is not in what most of the world knows of as poverty.

That’s actually more than the lifetime income of around and about half of humanity…..

What horrors, eh?

Cheap housing is cheap:

She lives in one of 10 social housing flats in a development of 60 properties. They have a separate front door – known colloquially as a “poor door” – by the other residents’ bins.

They don’t have a lift or access to any parking.

But the bit that really stopped James in his tracks was that they have no access to the development’s garden. Other residents can take their dogs in it, but Jabeen’s children are banned.

Afterwards, James admitted he didn’t realise this was happening, saying: “Their dogs are allowed in the garden, but her children aren’t.

“Sometimes I get calls when you can feel your world view shifting slightly, feel your attitude to society changing.

“Jabeen’s on that list for me now.”

Shocker, eh?

They also don’t get access to the gym, the swimming pool or the under the volcano secret submarine lair.


You Don’t Want to Buy Groceries From a Robot

Well, maybe I do and maybe I don’t. Wonder how we could work out whether I do?

What’s good for business is not always good for people. We need to consider the trade-offs of increasing automation and use our dollars to push for the kind of shopping experience we want and the kind of communities we want to live in.

Ah, yes, that’s right, consumer sovereignty in the marketplace. Those who want robots can use them, those that don’t need not.

Is realisation beginning to dawn?

So money is not an issue. Let me be absolutely clear about that.

A shortage of building materials may be.

A shortage of skills might be as well.

And both will be constrained by our desperately conventional view of how houses must be built.

But let’s be clear: if you asked me for the money to build these houses and if I was in the Treasury I promise I could deliver it.

So, err, printing the money doesn’t solve the problem, does it?

So, not the law either then

In other words, when it has been decided that a devolved nation has the right to decide on an issue then its consent is sought to Westminster legislation if it relates to that area of activity. There is, of course, a corollary. Because we now have EVEL – English Votes on English Law – Scottish MPs cannot vote on English legislation. So, Scotland is ring fenced from English decision making. Legal Consent Motions might be seen as ring fencing English MPs from Scottish decisions.

And in that case, and because Brexit very clearly does impact Scotland in ways Scotland may not want then of course it is right that Scotland must have the right of veto in this issue. Without EVEL I would find that vey hard to justify. But Cameron demanded EVEL. And his party has to live with the consequences. Whether or not we leave the EU may be down to Scotland. And it’s all Cameron’s fault.

Note the leap there. From “has a right to decide upon” to “should have the right to decide.”

The Scottish P gets to vote on things which we have already decided the Scottish P should get a vote on, even if the legislation is going through Westminster. Is Brexit already a devolved issue?


Not going to work

The Queen was reported to police for not wearing a seatbelt as she travelled to the State Opening of Parliament in her official call.

West Yorkshire Police said they received a 999 call about the royal journey.

You never really know these days, good joke or just some twat.

Under UK law, civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Queen.

Quite, R. v R. would be a bit of a problem.


Little moments like that kept adding up, incrementally nudging me away from leftism but not yet to full conversion. In 1988, watching a John Pilger documentary with lefty friends, another such moment occurred.

Pilger, as usual, was complaining about colonialism and racism and Aboriginal injustice, so naturally we—uniformly white, urban and privileged—were lapping it up. The documentary then shifted to the former nuclear testing site at Maralinga in South Australia, where seven British bombs were detonated in the 1950s and 1960s. Pointing to a sign warning of radiation danger, Pilger observed mournfully that it was written in several languages—“but not in the Aboriginal language”.

Startled by this claim, I looked around the room. Everyone was silent, including a few who had studied Aboriginal history in considerable depth, and so must have known that Pilger’s line was completely wrong. So I just said it: “There is no single Aboriginal language. And no Aboriginal language has a written form.”

Don’t think this works really, does it?

Quito: Julian Assange’s lawyer accused Britain on Thursday of breaking international law by denying the WikiLeaks founder safe passage out of the country if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy in London.

“Britain is… violating all the norms of international law, human rights and humanitarian law,” said Baltasar Garzon, a Spanish ex-judge who leads Assange’s defense team.

He’s wanted for breaching his bail terms. There is no right of free passage in such circumstances.

From memory Garzon was the magistrate who wanted Pinochet so he’s been inventive in legal theory for some time.

This will be a surprise to Spudda

He’s entirely insistent that only the Magic Money Tree can aid us, for exports just aren’t going to change at all:

Britain’s factories are experiencing their strongest performance in nearly three decades as the fall in the pound gives exporters an advantage abroad.

The CBI said order books in June had climbed to their highest level since August 1988, while export demand hit a 22-year high. Economists said the findings raised hopes that a manufacturing boom might offset the slowdown in consumer spending and steady the economy.

They’re not very expensive

Passwords belonging to British cabinet ministers, ambassadors and senior police officers have been traded online by Russian hackers, an investigation by The Times has found.

Email addresses and passwords used by Justine Greening, the education secretary, and Greg Clark, the business secretary, are among stolen credentials of tens of thousands of government officials that were sold or bartered on Russian-speaking hacking sites. They were later made freely available.

Two huge lists of stolen data reveal private log-in details of 1,000 British MPs and parliamentary staff, 7,000 police employees and more than 1,000 Foreign Office officials, an analysis shows — including the department’s own head of IT.

Apparently they’re £2 each. But then that’s probably about what they’re worth. Both in the sense of well, what’s going to be so exciting about their accounts and also in the sense of how tough is it going to be to guess?

Don’t forget that Harriet Harman’s log in to her WordPress site was “Harriet” “Harman”

Ah, yes, the vast right wing conspiracy

Clegg identified the leading players of the Brexit elite as “the hedge-fund managers for whom EU-wide regulations are an overburdensome hindrance to their financial aspirations”.

He added: “[They are also] the owners and editors of the rightwing press, whose visceral loathing of the EU has shaped their respective papers’ tone and coverage for decades; the Tory backbenchers, many of whom still inhabit a preposterous past in which Britannia still rules the waves and diplomacy is best conducted from the royal yacht; a handful of multi-millionaire businessmen who have, in some cases over 30 years or more, bankrolled whichever party, or politician, stands on the most aggressive EU-bashing platform.”

Hillary has infected Cleggie…….

They can’t even hand out free money

Nicola Sturgeon’s government has been forced to issue a last-ditch appeal for more time to make thousands of delayed farm subsidy payments in the hope of avoiding up to £60 million of EU fines.

For the second year running, the Scottish Government has approached the European Commission asking for the June 30 payment deadline to be extended following the catastrophic failure of a £178 million computer system that was supposed to hand out the money.

Yet, fifthly and candidly, government must rule more of our lives.

Teens are still having sex

We might file that under the least surprising headline in all of history. Even better than “things have not moved necessarily to Japan’s advantage” and certainly competing with that one from A Hitler, “But what are these Russian tanks doing here?”

One of Spudda’s problems is that he’s got absolutely no economic hinterland

He just doesn’t get that other people have chewed over these problems before him and that they also had some useful insights. This isn’t written by Snippa but he endorses it:

The first thing to understand is that land is not like other forms of capital in the economy: it has unique qualities which have to be understood. Land is finite – there is a limited supply of it – and it is permanent – it does not depreciate.

This means it is a uniquely desirable type of capital; as long as populations continue to rise it is likely to rise in value too. As Mark Twain said over a century ago, “buy land, they aren’t making it anymore”.

Land therefore plays a very different role in market economies to capital: whereas Apple will produce more iPhone’s to meet demand, more land cannot be produced to meet housing demand.

This gives land and property owners special power in the economy: their monopolisation of the fixed supply of land can mean they extract the surplus value produced by growth in the economy through charging rent on use of their land.

Sigh, this is just Ricardo on rent. Everything just ends up as land rent in the end. Something which we now know to be empirically wrong. Because we do make more land, by trading with it. The steamship, the railway and the opening up of the prairies and steppes did more to destroy the great aristocratic fortunes than anything else, certainly more than any tax or government intervention. It’s even in the Saez and Zucman work on the subject.

Remarkably, the unique role of land in the economy is ignored in mainstream economics:

Bollocks, it has been endlessly chewed over.

From the late 1970s and early 1980s to today, a great transformation has taken place in housing – land and property values have gone through the roof. The rise in property value has significantly outstripped rises in incomes and growth.

This has created a surge in wealth inequality between property owners and renters, and is the central finding of Thomas Piketty’s globally renowned book, Capital, which used historical data to show that asset price inflation now outstripped profit, making capital investment in the real economy a loser for any business man or woman compared to rentier exploitation.

Twattery. One of the great failures of Piketty’s thesis is that he doesn’t account for the rise in property wealth at the household level.

This transformation has been driven by financialisation – the turning of social goods into financial assets. UK banks’ main role used to be as lenders to businesses. While lending to non-financial corporations has remained fairly static, mortgage lending directly to workers has surged, from 20 to 60 per cent of GDP.

Mortgage lending is now the main function of British banking. Once again, mainstream economics is unequipped to understand the role of financialisation in the modern economy.

Banks’ role is seen as recycling savers’ money to borrowers as credit for productive investment, oiling the wheels of the economy. But what the banks do with mortgage loans has little to do with investment, and even less to do with existing money in circulation.

Idiocy. The “Anglo Saxon” financial system uses public markets, equity, to fund business, not bank loans as with the Continental system. Sure, we can argue about which is better but not to note this is just idiotic.

First, it’s important to understand not all of the world is like Britain. While rising house prices has been a global trend, in countries like Japan and Germany house prices to earnings have been in decline since the 1970s, the reverse trend of the UK.

Germany is a society where most people still rent in a well-regulated sector, the mortgage market has more strict limits on it and most banks are public or co-operative owned and do not engage in land speculation.

The point is that there is different ways to do things, and if we want things to change we have to be open to thinking fundamentally differently about how we do things in Britain. Tweaks will be insufficient.

Fuckwittery. Germany and Japan have “can build” planning systems. Want to build a house on your land? Go ahead. Make the British system like that and we’d be settled. What’s the one thing they don’t advocate? Freer planning permission. Fuckwittery.

Which universe was this phoned in from?

Fourth, some shibboleths need to be faced. Grenfell Tower is already symbolic, but it also represents a reality in UK housing policy. This now subsidises private landlords and not tenants. It is biased towards home owners and not those who aspire to a secure home for their families. It promotes the myth of property as wealth, and not as homes. It does, therefore, divide society. The best indictation of change will, then, be the willingness of people to not only become involved but to also demand that these divisions be removed. So the question is whether or not politics can move from being about reinforcing the power of particular interest groups to an alternative based upon the promotion of broader communal values.

There will be very obvious indicators that will suggest if this is happening. So, for example, will funding for social housing be made available?

A tenant managed block of council flats went up in flames. After said council had spent £70,000 per flat tarting it up. Within a fortnight a local council (The City Corporation) had bought replacement flats in the locality to offer, as social or council flats, to all those displaced.

This shows subsidy to private landlords, does it?

UN population predictions

The world’s population is projected to
increase by slightly more than one billion people over the next 13 years, reaching 8.6 billion in 2030, and
to increase further to 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100


….as well as a slight increase in fertility in countries where women have fewer than two live births per lifetime.

Ah, no, so I don’t believe a word of it. There ain’t a single rich country above the replacement rate. And there’s nothing in any human history to suggest that any ever will be either. And we do know that poor places are getting richer at a very encouraging rate…..

Rilly Polly?

This government staggers on, still trying to strike a costly and disreputable DUP deal, blackmailed by a party of Christian fundamentalists whose laws enforce childbirth on raped underage girls.

They do? Do we know the number of rapes of underage girls in NI? The number who go on to give birth as a result? And do the DUP come around to ensure pregnancy if the rape doesn’t take?


Amazingly Polly, this is a democracy, one in which even religious bigots both have the vote and the right to representation. We are not in an ideological state, where only those with GoodThink are allowed to speak up.

Was ever a government in such chaos? Was ever a party less fit to govern? Was ever the country brought to such a state, by the wanton fanaticism of Tory ideologues, with their toxic combination of state-shrinkers and Europhobes?

Err, yes actually. ’76 to ’79 was worse, The Brown Terror as well……