Yes, quite good

The fact that the Labour Party is now getting its advice from Yanis Varoufakis and the revolutionary Marxist broadcaster Paul Mason does not suggest to me that they’ve got an answer to economic security. Presumably they chose those two because Chairman Mao was dead and Mickey Mouse was busy.

Weird political and economic theory of the day

Unless something very strange happens Donald Trump will win the Republican candidacy to run for President of the USA. It is reasonable to ask how a man with no experience of government, no apparent political sense, and with views that are considered offensive by so many achieved this.

The answer is, of course, money. In fairness, the money in question appears to be Trump’s own. Many in the USA are seduced by that fact alone: this is the supposed American Dream. But there is something much deeper than that to be said.

Well, no, in terms of Trump, money and campaigns the truly amazing thing is just how little he has actually spent.

In all, the billionaire real estate showman ― whose improbable front-running campaign for the GOP nomination is centered around the idea that his wealth makes him incorruptible ― has lent or donated $12.8 million to his campaign. That accounts for two-thirds of the $19 million that the campaign has brought in to date ― a sum that is dwarfed by those of other top-tier candidates.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, for example, has raised $112 million, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s running second to Trump in most GOP polls, has raised $47 million.

I think I’ve seen that Jeb spent $100 million to get nowhere.

So the first factual contention actually gets nowhere. what Trump hsa actually done is spouted lies and rubbish of Twatter and found that there’s a ready audience for such. Remind you of anyone?

Which brings us to this which is, if we’re honest about it, something of a stretch:

What Trump has done is use money in the way a neoclassical economist might assume appropriate. He has bought favour. He has ignored the externalities of his behaviour. He has maximised his return without consideration for the consequence. He has focussed solely on his own gain and not considered the consequence for anyone else. Trump is then the epitome of that being we thought was a fiction but which turns out to have a personification after all, which is homo economicus. The ultimately rational, frighteningly indifferent subject of the microeconomics text book now has a new form. It is homo politicus, and Donald Trump is its manifestation.

But in that case we should not be surprised at his appeal. He is after all the the living embodiment of the state to which neoclassical economics would have us all aspire. If indifference is the state that economic theory suggests we should aspire to then Trump proves that, at least in the short term, it really can work as a role model for some who have been taught that this is what success requires.

It is frightening (I use the word advisedly) that Trump is in the position he now commands.

But, and I cannot stress this enough, the fact that theory that teaches that his behaviour is not only rational but to be expected and admired is taught in almost all universities as if it is economics is just as, if not more, frightening.

It is said we reap what we sow. It looks as if the USA might.

But if change is to happen then start by sweeping away the assumptions that underpin the callousness of much economic theory. Then we might have a chance of building a better world.

Trump as the outcome of neoclassical economics. Yeah right.

He’s actually that Courageous State writ large. Sod the law, let’s do what is “right”. Remind you of anyone?

Err, no

The fact is that in 2015, Greece became the first nation ever to default on an IMF loan. And Mr Varoufakis was its finance minister at the time.

First advanced nation perhaps, first nation not being entirely crippled by war, civil or otherwise maybe, but not the first.

Well, yes, but

What is it that you actually expect?

The 24-year-old bottle blonde behind Sweden’s bikini-clad ‘grope-watch’ vigilantes has been accused of spurring fear and racism at the pool where she launched her campaign, with the manager saying staff have received a deluge of hate mail since she began last month.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has learnt that the co-founder of the group’s Stockholm spin-off last year received a suspended prison sentence for taking part in a neo-Nazi attack on anti-racist protesters, armed with a knife.

Siri Bernhardsson and friends, who refer to themselves as the “tafsvakten” or “grope-watch”, started patrolling the local swimming pool in Kalmar, southeast Sweden, last month in a bid to deter migrants from molesting female bathers.

But their campaign has sparked outrage among locals and the swimming pool’s management, who say the stunt is encouraging racism towards refugees.

!) There has been an influx of refugees.

2) There have been incidents at swimming pools. Not just the odd grope but in Germany the rape of a child.

3) Yes of course there will be a reaction.

4) Yes of course some of said reaction will be by mouth breathing racists.

But what did anyone expect would happen?

A rather large part of what we call civilisation is that social training, that control, of what young men are like in their natural state. Introduce a decent portion of those who have not been so socialised and there will be such problems. Whatever the race or religion of either group in fact.

Hmm

A “childish turf war” between senior civil servants which saw them refuse to work together may cost taxpayers over £180million, a committee of MPs has revealed.
Senior bosses in three Government departments claimed they could not get on because they “dressed differently” and “worked on different floors”, costing millions in EU fines.
The powerful Public Accounts Committee found highly paid managers were part of an “appalling Whitehall fiasco” which led to British farmers receiving late payments because a Government IT scheme ran 40% over budget.

Less Curajus State and rather more Carry On Humphrey, eh?

And there’s a thought. I wonder if The Murph has ever actually watched Yes Minister to see how his dream would actually turn out?

Dear God these people are mad

Transgender rights in Texas took another step backward last month, when public school superintendents voted 586-32 in favor of a rule that requires schools to use birth certificates to determine the gender of student-athletes.

This law is seen not only as “an attempt to handicap transgender student-athletes’ eligibility,” but it’s also believed to be a clear violation of Title IX.
“The Department of Education has stated that Title IX covers trans students and prohibits discrimination based on gender.

There is actually a reason why we have mens’ teams, womens’, boys n’gals play separately. The male musculature means that, to take one interesting historical comparison, the steroid doped up winner of the female sprints in the Olympics would have placed third or fourth in the boys’ Brooklyn high school heats for the same event in that same year.

And you can’t really claim that Title IX bans gender discrimination when the whole point of it is to make sure that equal amounts of money get spent on the separate events for boys’n’gals. For those musculature reasons.

They’re going off the deep end, aren’t they?

Ritchie and economic forecasts

So, he’s wondering about automation and the fourth industrial revolution:

Second, there is much discussion in some quarters of the impact of technology on jobs. This is from the European Trade Union Institute and is drawn from well researched sources:

(Chart showing that 40-60% of jobs are at risk of automation over next few decades)

No one was taking this into account in their forecasts.

So, third, Richard G Larsen asked, what does this do for any forecasts except suggest that extrapolation from current experience os of almost no use at all?

Well, actually, all sensible people are taking this into account in their forecasts and all sensible people are using extrapolation from current experience to do so. Meaning that this following is simply tosh:

So what of resilience? By this I mean our capacity to adapt to this change if it is to happen. I stress that adaption is both technical and social: here I am dealing with the technical aspect. By this I mean can we put in place the mechanisms to handle the consequences of change? These would include the need to tax the enormously increased returns to capital that would be earned in this country even if the legal ownership was elsewhere; the need to address the massively increased inequality in society that these changes could result in unless addressed appropriately by way of, for example, a universal income, and the need to reduce the free flow of capital to avoid taxation of capital that would otherwise undermine the capacity to reclaim tax from the economy.

The point being that all sensible people know that 10% or so of all jobs in the economy are destroyed every year. And 10% are generated again in slightly different fields or in slightly different companies. Thus, over three decades say, we expect 300% of all jobs to be destroyed and recreated.

We can also add in quits (people leaving a job for another one) which is another 10% of all jobs each year. So, actually, 600% of all jobs extant now will not be in 3 decades. And yes, most such job changes do incorporate some technological change. And that’s actually how technological change happens. Not every buggy whip maker laid off on a Friday afternoon forever more to roam the labour exchange wailing of their woes, but gradually the sector shrinks and people gradually move from buggy whip making to curing the leather for car seats.

The speed at which this happens can cause problems, sure, as Keynes noted that the mechanisation of agriculture was causing in 1930. The process itself though not so much.

And that’s why serious people aren’t paying much attention to these automation claims. Just because they’ve considered the issue and realised that it’s not actually all that important. But knowing that would require a knowledge of economics beyond the attention span of a 0.2 of a professor of international political economy. Obviously.

Paul Mason really is a knob, isn’t he?

It would take 1,500 plays a month of a track on iTunes to make the minimum wage, but 1.1m on Spotify. So, the economics of digital music are only moving in one direction.

Pretty sure he means sales on iTunes as against plays on Spotify.

For me, the beer revolution began early. It was the late 1990s – at a beachside eaterie in Santa Cruz, a gaggle of hacks specialising in the Unix operating system were being plied with sushi and chardonnay. But my friend grabbed my elbow and steered me away from all these distractions towards the deserted bar. There, cool and glinting, was a tap marked Sierra Nevada.

In a way, this is the beer world catching up with the computer operating-system world, whose tectonic plates were having a good old shudder, even as I downed my first half-litre of Sierra Nevada.

since when have the Californians been serving beer in half litres? As opposed to 16 American fluid ounce pints (473 ml)?

And more to the point about his basic economics:

The economist Paul Romer, whose work in the 1990s shaped our understanding of infocapitalism, defined information as “instructions for making things”. Because these instructions are reproducible using minute amounts of labour, energy and mass, and not used up in the process of production, Romer concluded they would end up either very cheap or free.

All that could stop the value of information declining close to zero was the construction of anti-competition mechanisms: monopolies, aggressive patent and copyright laws, walled gardens of technology designed to make using free information difficult, networks designed to be used only if you forfeit control of your information to a megacorporation. We’ve seen it all in the past 20 years – but it won’t last.

So, the edges of the corporate world are increasingly populated by entrepreneurs who – sometimes unwittingly – take a postcapitalist view of information.

This isn’t post-capitalism. It’s pre-capitalism. This basic point about the replicability of invention and innovation is made by Adam Smith. It’s exactly the same analysis of public goods that leads to (again, from Adam Smith) government subsidy of at least primary schools.

It’s also an entirely utilitarian calculation and doesn’t in fact depend upon capitalism (private ownership of the means of production) or socialism (collective ownership of such). It’s a basic economic problem in any structure of ownership. Invention and innovation are public goods in that they are non-excludable and non-rivalrous. Once the work has been done anyone can use that knowledge without diminishing the amount that another can use. Thus they’re very difficult to make money out of: and thus we invent intellectual property so as to allow people to make money out of that work. Not because it’s just, righteous or capitalist, but because we think that increases the amount of invention and innovation that happens.

We don’t by the way, think that this means that we have this system right at present. But that is the basic problem we are trying to address. And it’s entirely independent of capitalism, socialism or any other -ism.

Mason’s a knob, that is all. He’s just desperately trying to fit whatever he sees into his logical structure. People are sharing beer recipes! Postcapitalism! As if Newton publishing his equations were postcapitalism. Just knobbishness.

Boycotts are just so wonderful, aren’t they?

Of course, every consumer should actually boycott stuff. Because that’s consumer preference and that’s what controls the producers. And you can and should boycott over whatever issue enters your pretty little head: it’s your money, your consumption, you go for it.

However, it might be worth a little thought over what one boycotts and why. For example, say there’s an “illegal” factory in Israeli occupied Palestine should you boycott the production of that factory on the grounds that doing so will make the Palestinians better off?

Hundreds of Palestinian workers are now unemployed after the factory where they worked in a West Bank settlement was targeted by an international boycott movement and forced to move to Israel, the company’s chief executive said Monday.
Daniel Birnbaum said the last 74 Palestinian workers left on Monday after being denied permits to work inside Israel at the new factory.

Hmm, maybe not, eh?

These people aren’t just mad they’re fascists

There has been a “shocking” rise in the salt content of food and seemingly healthy soups contain more than a portion of takeaway pizza, a study has found.
Despite dozens of firms signing up to a voluntary deal to cut salt levels, health campaigners say too many everyday foods still contain too much salt with major brands at fault.
Research from the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (Cash) found that products such as tinned tomato soup, cheddar cheese and chilled ready meals are among the worst offenders for increasing salt in recent years.

Salt. In cheese. Yep, they’re complaining about that.

Salt acts as preservative and flavour enhancer in cheese. In addition, salt has a main role in the functional properties of the cheese. Accordingly, there is a challenge in reducing salt without affecting the cheese quality. The reduction of salt was achieved through the decrease of its content used and replacement by potassium chloride. In natural cheese, these approaches adversely affected the cheese properties, particularly the characteristic flavour.

Yep, salt, in cheese:

Salt is an essential ingredient in cheese making. This article is about salt’s function in cheese making, primarily: Moisture control, rind formation, control of production of lactic acid, texture improver, microbiological control, and flavour enhancer.

They’re complaining. And their solution?

“It’s imperative that responsibility for nutrition be handed back to an independent agency where it is not affected by changes in government, ministers, political lobbying and pressure from the food industry.”
Sonia Pombo, nutritionist and campaign manager for Cash, said: “Whilst many food manufacturers initially made a concerted effort to reduce the salt in their products, others are now failing to do so and, in turn, are putting the nation’s health at risk.
“To do this, an agency independent of political control and not run by the food industry needs to set regulated targets for salt, saturated fat and sugar to give the food industry a level playing field.”

To translate that. Give us all lovely highly paid jobs in the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy which we control, which no politician nor anyone else can touch, so that we can be the sole and inviolable controllers of what people eat.

Or, you know, that fascism of being ruled by an entirely unaccountable bureaucracy.

Not sure even the Carthage option is enough to deal with these fuckers.