Much sniggering but is it fair?

So South Australia, the whole state, without power as a result of a storm.

The federal energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, has questioned whether South Australia was too reliant on renewable energy as the state’s premier, Jay Weatherill, said no system could have coped with the major storm and cyclonic winds that lashed the state, which led to lightning strikes hitting generators, causing a surge and overloading the network’s capacity.

Obviously neither solar nor birdchoppers worked in the middle of a storm.

But was that actually the cause? At least on report states that it was lightning strikes at multiple points along the grid, tripping the whole thing into shutdown. Which isn’t, so far as I understand these things (rather little, obviously) anything to do with how the electrons are loaded into the system.

So, who wants to tell us the truth here?

Interesting language

Sure, there are different styles of parenting:

Paddy Ashdown had admitted he was a bad “Victorian” father and said his family would have suffered if his wife hadn’t carried the burden while he tried to win his seat.

But doing it as billions of people have done it for tens of thousands of years is “bad” now is it?

Yes Polly, it does

What hope for a party that threatens to be irrelevant for years to come? The best of Labour is in power, in the cities as leaders and mayors, competent and imaginative in struggling with monstrous cuts – from London’s Sadiq Khan to Nick Forbes in Newcastle. Otherwise it’s a matter of waiting until enough party members come to terms with grim electoral reality and decide to compromise with the voters. Does that really need a devastating election defeat?

Two or three actually. Because they are actually deluded.

This must be one of Chakrabortty’s

The lad never really did get the hang of economics:

A low wage economy comes with a heavy price tag. It is not only that employers have no incentive to invest in training or upgrading skills for their employees, or buying new equipment for their factories when they can increase productivity by hiring more cheap workers;

Buying new equipment replaces workers. This is exactly how the minimum wage reduces employment.


This story is wrong, anyone got the right reference?

Considering these undisputed facts, how should we think about the issue of reparations? My own view of the subject was rather tersely expressed by Muhammad Ali. After defeating George Foreman for the heavyweight title in Zaire, Muhammad Ali returned to the United States where he was asked by a reporter, “Champ, what did you think of Africa?” Ali replied, “Thank God my granddaddy got on that boat.”

It wasn’t Ali.

It was around and about that time but it was a black bloke working for, I think, ABC. Certainly, it was a reporter. He’d seen the bodies washing over some waterfall as a result of some internecine massacre or other.

Anyone got a link to the proper story?

HMRC hates Ritchie

Just three employers have been prosecuted for paying workers below the minimum wage despite HM Revenue and Customs finding 700 who have broken the law in the past two and a half years.

Because two of the three were recipients of his Fair Tax Mark, weren’t they? 10% of his entire stock in fact?

HMRC must hate him. Can’t think of any other reason for such a strike rate.

Well, this isn’t certain to say the least

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick said that Donald Trump’s suggestion to “find a country that works better for him” is “very ignorant”.

“It’s a very ignorant statement that, if you don’t agree with what’s going on, hearing that if you want justice and liberty and freedom for all, then you should leave the country,” Kaepernick said on Tuesday.

“He always says make America great again. Well, America has never been great for people of colour. And that’s something that needs to be addressed. Let’s make America great for the first time,” he said in a video shared by the Bay Area News Group.

Great compared to what? Compared to the average life in West or Central Africa over the past two centuries? Today? Compared to the average life anywhere two centuries ago?

Barring the occasional President or dictator (but I repeat myself) I’m not sure there’s anyone in West Africa currently living the lifestyle of an NFL quarterback.

Compared to how whites have been treated in the US these past two centuries yes, undoubtedly the blacks have been shafted. But what’s the correct comparison to be making about declaring somewhere “great?” There is at least an argument that a society in which even those shafted live better than almost any member of any previous human generation is doing pretty great. Even those getting shafted with nothing but the scraps of the welfare state are in the top 20% of the global income distribution (yes, after price changes across geography). Is that great or not?

No, not whether it could be greater, obviously every human construct could be that. But great or not?

Well, yes, I suppose so really

Second, whilst I continue to like Owen Smith as a person, he did not prove to be a better candidate than Jeremy. I think that in itself is telling for Labour.

Yes, it is telling, They’ve got no one better than Corbyn?


In other news a retired accountant from Wandsworth announced that he is willing to allow the newly re-elected Leader of the Opposition to work with him.

There’s a reason he’s former Shadow Chancellor

Former Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie says his successor’s £500 billion spending plan would double all taxes:

“The worry that I have is this suggestion of £500 billion. I mean, that’s an awful lot of either borrowing or extra taxation. In order to raise it you’d have to double income tax. You’d have to double National Insurance. You’d have to double council tax. And you’d have to double VAT as well.”

The £500 billion is over a decade. £500 billion is around and about annual tax revenue…..

Anyone know a good library of free wordpress designs?

Looking for something that looks a bit like the front page of a newspaper. Three column layout maybe?

OK, so let’s be a little more specific.

I’m starting up a new little project. Something akin to Huffington Post but quite obviously on a much smaller scale. And I note that Huffpo, Forbes and a number of other such sites all use WordPress, as modified by their own peeps. Thus WordPress looks like a good start.

Or, as the comments suggest, is Drupal better?

Which CMS isn’t really the point. Rather, which already has a suitable design? That design having newspaper like qualities.

There’s a front page, which then has sections, business, technology, foreign and so on. And when you click into a section you get to another “front page” the front page of that section and so on down.

That’s really the bit I’m looking for. Obviously, any of these will have comments, the ability to give a writer access to one part but not others of the CMS backend and all that jazz.

We’ve also got some interesting bits being developed separately which would be folded in when ready. Much about mapping things for example.

But that’s this initial question. Anyone know of a depositary of CMS designs which can be used? The right design, assuming that the top few CMS are roughly similar, would make the choice.

As to the economics of this, given a couple of months it’s relatively trivial to get a website running 20k, 40k page views a day. The economic barrier is to gain an order of magnitude on that. I think it’s possible. And at that size there’s the revenue to continue to expand.

So, any ideas?






The answer is in the piece you fool

If the average woman is ‘plus-sized’, why doesn’t our fashion reflect that?
Erika Nicole Kendall

Interesting question. Perhaps because fashion is not about clothing but something more complex?

America’s streets are full of what the fashion industry labels “plus-sized women” – far more than we previously thought. Thanks to a new study, we now know that the average woman is around a size 20. Not, as previously believed, a size 14. That means that the disconnect between the clothes in store windows and the bodies of women walking past them is greater than we had ever assumed.

Despite this, major fashion brands still refuse to accept the bodies of their customers. The only fashion brands that want to acknowledge the size of the newly minted “average woman” are plus-size brands, which are marginalized in the market, as if they catered to a fringe and not, in fact, everyday Americans.

Designers still opt to create artificial cut-off points in their line, sizes beyond which they refuse to accommodate. That’s because they know that size, much like a specific brand, is aspirational. It plays on the insecurity of the audience to present an ultra-thin model wearing a high-end brand. It’s not enough for the audience to say, “Wow, that looks incredible on her.” It is intended to make the audience say, “I want to be her.”

Ah, yes, fashion isn’t about clothing it’s about something more complex than that.

So, you already know the answer, so why the fuck are you asking?

The fashion industry is ignoring the needs of the average woman because they’ve operated, for far too long, on the assumption that the average woman didn’t want to be average – she wanted to be a remarkable catwalk-ing beauty.

What they didn’t expect was the number of brands who would swoop in and show the everyday woman that her average body is beautiful, even if only a different kind. Her average body is and can be remarkable. And, if the fashion industry can’t figure that out, they’ll be left in the dust.

And isn’t it just lovely how the free market and competition solves the problem anyway?

At which point the thing that really gripes my goat about so much of this “feminist” journalism shit. This isn’t to inform, it’s not to analyse, it’s simply to elicit the response “The Bastards!” before everyone goes back to handing out the pumpkin spiced muffins and agreeing what shits men and capitalists are. It’s providing a point of vehement agreement for a kaffeeklatsch, no more.

That’s a lot of jam on tarts

A City banker and a group of businessmen pulled off an elaborate £245million scam, with proceeds being spent on high class prostitutes and luxury holidays, a court has heard.

Isn’t there a point at which it’s cheaper to buy than rent?

Sadly for the toms of the nation it’s the total losses that were that sum, not the amount ripped off.

“He had embarked on a deliberate, systematic and sustained campaign of unauthorised lending of bank money to those business customers within his portfolio which were effectively forced through his influence to engage in the services of QCS.”

Quickly put, manager of loans to companies in trouble insisted that said companies hired a mate to consult on how to get out of trouble.

Mr Bancroft, who was described as Mr Mills’ “man on the ground” allegedly received around £1million in direct payments.

He and Scourfield allegedly went to Barbados to celebrate Mrs Mills’ 40th birthday and also enjoyed trips to Bancroft’s villa o the Algarve.

Mr Cartwright was said to have received £200,000 for his alleged role, while Mr Dobson, who was a colleague of Scourfield allegedly received £30,000 in corrupt payments from one of Mills’ companies as well as benefitting from “inappropriate hospitality”.

Much less interesting.

It really shouldn’t be like this, should it?

To put it another way, a narrow Trump win would not count as a major polling foul-up if the election were held today: It would be within a reasonable range of disagreement among pollsters. A clear Trump win — or for that matter, a Clinton landslide — would be more of a problem for the polls.

As I’ve said before. If you think objectively about Trump the candidate then Hillary really must be a shitty one given she hasn’t put him away yet.

On the Fair Tax Mark and the Minimum Wage

Anyone at the Labour Party Conference? Could you ask a question for us?

I am speaking at two meetings at Labour Party conference tomorrow.

The most important has been organised by the Cooperative Party and the Fair Tax Mark. It’s at 5.45 in Meeting Room 7 and has the title:

‘Fair Tax, the new Fairtrade: how can Labour lead the agenda?’

Meg Hillier, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee is, I suspect. the star attraction.

Could someone ask Ritchie how he feels about 10% of the holders of the Fair Tax Mark having been dunned for underpaying the minimum wage?

Follow up question – does he think this is a higher or power portion than companies and employers in the economy in general?

Josef would be proud

Fundamentally the neoliberal paradigm, created in 1979, failed in 2008. That has to be said time and again. There is no solution to be found to our current economic and political problems that entirely existed before that time

Repeat the big lie often enough.

The world is the richest it has ever been. The economic policies of the last 30, 40, years have led to the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species. This is therefore a failed set of economic policies?

Some background facts

There is no hope that the private sector is going to invest to create growth in the UK, or anywhere much else come to that. Modern capitalism us about wealth preservation for an elite and not investment for growth, let alone social purpose.

Does the man know how sodding easy it is to get VC money these days?

This does however mean that there is a mountain of cash in need of a home right now. This is why interest rates are low and will remain so.

Those low rates are, however, causing instability, not because the rates are low in themselves, but because low rates means very high asset prices as markets treat asset prices and low rates as the inverse of each other. This will result in an asset price crash at some time because, government bonds excepted, there is no fundamental reason why the price of the other assets with over-inflated prices (housing and shares in particular) should be as high as they are. Some day this will be realised and prices will fall. This could cause instability, but the risk of inflation (the neoliberal nightmare) is low.

The UK’s tax capacity is constrained right now. The government is not spending enough and most people are not earning enough for it to grow significantly. Tax reclaims the impact of government spending on people’s incomes: if that impact is declining because government spending is falling then tax revenue growth will also fall, and it is.

Monetary policy has failed. If interest rates are effectively nothing then there are no real options left for it.

QE has failed: it has not resulted in new spending in the real economy. It has increased inequality.

The purpose of QE is to lower interest rates (and returns) on safe assets and thus, inevitably, to raise their price. He says this has happened and yet QE has failed?

The UK will leave the EU. It will probably be a hard Brexit. We will have the freedom to set our own economic rules as a result, including direct lending from the Bank of England to the government without the need for QE.

Ah, finally an actual fact. Yes, we will be free to monetise the debt if we wish to do so.

The first thing is to be clear about economic objectives. The left is about ensuring there is an economy where everyone can meet their basic needs and have the chance to fulfil their own goals. This is basic.

So too is the fact that the way we might do this has to change: we are not now living in a world where we think we can have unlimited ‘stuff’ without consequences.

But, umm, what if it turns out that what people want is stuff?

So we will have a mixed economy, that must be firmly regulated, fairly taxed and which has as its goal the creation of well paid and sustainable work for all who want it.

Category error. Work is not the thing we desire. Consumption is, with the minimum of work required to achieve it. Human labour, just as with any other scarce resource, is something to be economised upon, not deliberately sought. Might as well issue teaspoons to those canal builders….

Of all these things the new understanding is most important. There are several parts to it. First, it has to be understood that an economy that pays people enough for the work they really do will collect enough tax to cover the current costs of running a government

Depends upon the rate at which you tax matey. If you set tax rates to 10% of GDP then you’ll not cover spending of 40% of it whatever else you do.

Second, there has to be an understanding that a service based economy is a basis for prosperity: our obsession with material goods is in any event unsustainable and has to be discouraged.

So if the goal of the people is to have more stuff then we’ll prevent them. Meaning that we’re not actually offering what the people want, are we?

Third, the fact that tax is just a fiscal tool has to be understood. I explain this in The Joy of Tax. It does not pay for government services: it reclaims the spend on them that the government makes using its power to create money.

The wilder shores of MMT again. And note what happens again, we end up in the Old Labour world again. The old way, tax lots to spends lots. The new way, spend lots then tax lots. We still end up in a high tax, high spend economy. And, of course, using that MMT stuff again, we could equally have a low spend, low tax society even if that tax later, after spending, were the way to do it.

The idea really doesn’t take us to the world Ritchie wants, does it? Not necessarily at least.

Fourth, borrowing has then to be understood in the same light: this is something that the government can do if it wants to supply markets with the savings media they need. But it need not borrow: as QE has proved, and as will be easier post-Brexit. money printing is always an alternative and unless the economy is at full employment will not produce inflation.

Err, no, ‘fraid not. Whether money printing leads to inflation depends upon the velocity of circulation, not whether there is unemployment or not. I’m really pretty sure there is unemployment in Venezuela and I’m certain there’s inflation caused by money printing….

Of course there is more to say than is mentioned here. But unless Labour really thinks big, builds new narratives and promises to deliver radical change I question what any of its recent agony has been for. But will it do these things? Time alone will tell.

Well, the current betting is that they won’t because it’s you saying them….first bit of good sense we’ve seen from them for decades.