Sounds like there’re some bargains out there

A cash rich investor with balls of steel could have a go:

A family who have seen the value of their London flat slashed from £600,000 to just £90,000 because of Grenfell-style cladding will sue a government agency that helped them buy their home.

They are the second homeowners in the New Capital Quay development in Greenwich to have their flat valued at rock-bottom prices.

It’s then uncertainty over who will replace, when, and at what cost, that cladding.

The company said some flats had been valued at £0. They were unsellable, unrentable and unmortgageable.

I doubt unrentable is true.

But even so, there’s an option value to those flats. Which, if you were cash rich, might be a good little bet.

Because there’s more money in dogs than the disabled

A harsh thing to say but true all the same:

Why are there more clothing lines for dogs than disabled people?

Interestingly, there is a solution:

Toronto-based designer Izzy Camilleri is best known for her work styling celebrities such as David Bowie, Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep. But her latest collection, released this month, has one major difference: it is designed for people with disabilities.

After doing some custom work in the early 2000s for a client who was quadriplegic, Camilleri had her “eyes opened” to how existing clothing did not necessarily work for women using a wheelchair. For example, having a “seated frame” meant that many traditionally designed trousers rode down or dug into her client’s waist. At the time, “adaptive clothing” – clothes made with disabled people in mind – barely existed; when it did, it was not aimed at fashion-conscious young adults. “Most of what was out there were clothes for [older people] living in long-term care facilities,” Camilleri says. “I realised there was nothing for younger people. [I was] motivated to fill this void.”

It’s known as “the market economy.”

As society becomes richer more resources are available, some of which are devoted to those desires of the disabled perhaps. After all, we’ve stopped that exposure on the hillside thing, haven’t we, which is a useful sign of rising up above a subsistence society.

We can also take a Marxist view. Capitalism is, by its very success, collapsing profit margins so ever more frantic attempts to find a profit take place. Including making pretty clothes for the wheelchair bound.

What is interesting though is that we’ve a Guardian article insisting that a problem is being solved without government having been involved.

Won’t they shout at Elaine Page now

Elaine Paige, the singer and Radio 2 presenter, has encouraged young women to “just deal with it” if a man “puts his hand on your knee or your bum”, saying life would be dreary if they are discouraged from flirting.

Paige, 70, said she had “of course” been hit on by predatory men, joking she would be “really embarrassed” if she had managed to avoid it.

But while rape and sexual assault are “completely unacceptable”, she said, other behaviour should be treated with “perspective”.

Obviously. It’s rather how the species has reproduced down the generations, a reasonably important thing for a species to do. There has to be some socially acceptable manner of “Oi, Oi? Fancy a …?”

Whether that’s “can we have a conversation about the beneficial effects of Fairtrade” or “Would you like to come up and see my etchings” there does need to be that manner of asking the question. The problem with some of the modern complaints being that even the asking, in whatever terms, is deemed to be verboeten.

Well, I suppose so, possibly

TUI customers claim the company has left passengers ‘stranded’ as the travel provider appears to have cancelled numerous flights overnight.

Many customers have taken to Twitter overnight to reveal their anger and frustrations, claiming flights were cancelled at the last minute with no recourse in place in airports across the UK including Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester.

Passengers claim to have been left without accommodation or even water.

Many are taking to the social media platform to demand compensation.

Pictures taken at a Birmingham airport by an irritating customer shows police at the scene, but the Twitter user claims there was no TUI staff.

Tories put my achievement at risk

There are two political/economic achievements I can claim. Not that I achieved them alone, but there was very definitely a part in them for me. Suggesting, convincing people at the right points in the policy development process. And one of them is at risk:

It is understood that a freeze on tax thresholds is being considered as one option to pay for up to £10bn of the extra annual cash injection. This would, however, mean another big policy U-turn by the Tories, who are committed to raising the tax-free threshold to £12,500 and increasing the level at which people pay high-rate tax to £50,000 by April 2020.

The point I made was quite simple. The difference between the Living Wage and the minimum wage is, pretty much entirely, down to the taxation of low wages. If people received the minimum wage free of income tax (and it’s a slam dunk if it’s free of both NIs) then they would, in their hands, have what the Living Wage insists they should get. We’d also reduce the far too high marginal tax and benefit withdrawal rates, increasing labour supply, make the poor better off and so on.

Plus there’s that moral point, if minimum wage is the minimum that it’s just and righteous that people should gain for their labour then what in buggery are you doing taxing it?

So, the tax allowance should be whatever the minimum wage is. That’s why the aim is that £12,500, that’s what the full year, full time, minimum wage was when the policy was adopted.

Working against that we’ve the fact that fiscal drag is just too tempting a place to go get tax money. Which is why we ended up in this ludicrous situation in the first place, with people working part time on minimum wage playing taxes upon labour income in the first place. Several decades of such fiscal drag.

So, of course I think they’re doing the wrong thing here. But then I’m also right, they are doing the wrong thing. Because if you want the poor to be better off you have to stop taxing them.

The costs of modern living

It’s true that I live in rural Portugal. I’m not exactly starring at regular red carpet events, my clothing budget doesn’t have to carry that sort of strain.

And yet, modern life has become rather cheap, no?

And yes, there was significant use of the discount rails of older stock. But, yesterday’s insistence by the other half that a clothing upgrade was necessary led to two pairs of trousers, a hoodie, five t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, some cotton not espadrilles but of that sort of thing and a set of jammies. For a fraction under €60.

Thank the Lord for those sweatshops in Bangladesh, eh – where, yes, most of this was made. Those same sweatshops which provide 80% of export revenue, pay triple the national minimum wage, employ 4 million people and are the major cause of the country’s 6 to 8% annual GDP growth for the past two decades.

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, supported by sustained economic growth. Based on the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day, it reduced poverty from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 13.8 percent in 2016/17. In parallel, life expectancy, literacy rates and per capita food production have increased significantly. Progress was underpinned by 6 percent plus growth over the decade and reaching to 7.3 percent in 2016/2017, according to official estimates. Rapid growth enabled Bangladesh to reach the lower middle-income country status in 2015. In 2018, Bangladesh fulfilled all three eligibility criteria for graduation from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list for the first time and is on track for graduation in 2024.

Sounds like a bargain to me and the joy is that it actually works.

Yet still there are those against this. Difficult to understand, isn’t it?

So, along with freedom comes calls for censorship

Amazon criticised for selling films promoting conspiracy theories on Prime

OK, Prime video has some nutters on it.

But as concern over online misinformation mounts The Sunday Telegraph can reveal it is also propagating the bizarre fantasies of Alex Jones and David Icke.

Mr Jones is a leading figure in the so-called US alt-right, known for his paranoid anti-government rants online.

OK. And here’s the kicker:

Amazon’s dissemination of conspiracy theories as part of a service challenging traditional television is likely to stoke debate over regulation.

The BBC and Channel 4 are demanding rule to ensure their programmes – which are produced under strict rules of accuracy – are guaranteed prominence as a shift to on-demand viewing via apps instead of channel menus accelerates.

On-demand-only programming is currently subject to much more relaxed regulation, although the Government has signalled a crackdown is in the works. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

They do indeed want to censor.

And they can go boil their heads, too.

A gap in the logic here

The chart below from our Healthy Finances report shows why we’re having [a] row [about NHS funding]. If the government doesn’t announce quite a bit more cash for the NHS, average annual spending growth is on course to be lower this decade than at any other time in the NHS’s history. Real terms per capita spending is set to grow by an average of just 0.4 per cent a year between 2010-11 and 2019-20, down from an average of 5.9 per cent a year in the preceding decade.

As the chart makes clear, that’s the lowest spending increase since the 50s. No wonder the NHS is in crisis. And no wonder some of us say that’s entirely by choice.

The desired spending increase is well above economic growth or any likely level of economic growth. Thus the desired level of spending increases must, ineluctably, mean that the NHS swallow an ever greater portion of the economy. At which point does this stop?

Alternatively, what’s the problem with trying to make the NHS more efficient rather than just increasing the level of inputs?

The bit that’s getting missed – tax evasion makes people richer

The action of these suppliers has been criminal.

Amazon’s failure to address it until compelled to do so has been negligent.

But HMRC and the Treasury’s failure to act for so long when this was known has been incomprehensible. Billions of tax revenue has been lost and an untold number of UK based businesses have been harmed.

Tax evasion is not a victimless crime.

It also has benefits.

No, really, Consumers have, by the evasion of these taxes, had cheaper goods. Now, we can insist that this isn’t enough to make up for the other damages. We can, equally, insist that it is. But we do actually have to acknowledge that there’s a good part as well as a bad here.

Britons not paying VAT on imports has made those Britons richer by the amount of VAT they’ve not had to pay. Again, you can think that not worth it but it is still true.

Dame Margaret, Lady Hodge

She has been one of the fiercest critics of companies and institutions which fritter away taxpayers’ money.

But now the veteran Labour MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, is seeking a salary for a voluntary post at a university, it has emerged.

Dame Margaret, the former chair of the public accounts committee, applied to be Chair of Council at Royal Holloway, University of London, which was advertised as an unpaid position.

However, sources have claimed that the former minister said that she would only take up the post if it came with an income of £20,000 per annum.

Dame Margaret, who has served as MP for Barking since 1994, was honoured by the Queen in 2015 for her political and public services.

A source told The Sunday Telegraph said that the university role “attracted well over 100 good applicants when it was advertised. So lots of capable people wanted to volunteer to give back to support the University.

“Royal Holloway University’s statutes, or laws, forbids the University from paying their Chair of the Council a salary. The post has to be done for free. This did not deter our Labour MP who is not willing to do the job for nothing, even though it had been advertised as a voluntary job. A very socialist approach to volunteering and the public good.”

Ritchie doesn’t give evidence without cash support either. What is it?

And yes, when asked to give expert evidence to aid in jugging some criminals I did indeed do it for free.

What does this even mean?

The evidence of a downturn in commuting appears very clear. Whilst one-off rail journeys continue to rise, which is welcome given they are better environmental alternative to cars, commuter traffic is falling. And this is equally welcome: there is no joy in commuting. IT is liberating many of us (me included for much of the year) from the need to be physically present at work.

This, however, has important ramifications. Almost all businesses assume ever-rising demand for their product, and rail franchises have almost universally been granted on the basis that this is the case for rail travel. If it is not true then many of those franchises will fail.

That does not mean we no longer need railways. Or that the railway industry has failed: it will not have done so. All that will be proven is that private rail operators have limited commercial aptitude, and the model within which they work has little commercial merit.

The alternative is, of course, state ownership. Labour has to do very little, I suspect, to promote this now. Over the next few years rail franchise operators will be queueing up to hand back the keys to their trains.

The internet therefore state ownership of railways? Whut?

Telling others how to parent

A High Court judge has criticised a social worker who took a child away from his mother because she refused to give him an ice cream.

The social worker said the woman was failing to meet her son’s “emotional needs”, and also highlighted how she did not allow him to get his hair to be cut “in the way that he liked”.

Mr Justice Mostyn, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, said the social worker’s criticisms were “utterly insubstantial” and “obviously inconsequential”.

The judge said the social worker had outlined her evidence in a 44-page witness statement which was “very long on rhetoric” but “very short indeed” on “concrete examples” of “deficient” parenting.

He said it was “very hard” to pin down within the “swathes of text” what exactly was being said “against” the woman.

We’ve two problems with this idea that the State is in loco parentis.

One is the quality of the people likely to do the job. This is not just me being a gammon, those working in the front line of these sort of state services are not going to be the brightest and best of our society. The other is the beliefs they’re going to hold. Rather the point for some is that such state parenting – like state anything else, education and so on – is going to be determined by the “correct” views. You know, those they’d like to impose upon society and which no one will give the time of day to in the real world.

Our truly great problem here being that we also undoubtedly need some form of child protection because there are some truly appalling, even evil, parents out there. Thus, how do we do the protection bit that actually needs to be done without handing over the entirety of society to the ideologically driven incompetents? And that such services are run by the ideological incompetents is easily enough proven. Just look at the rules about race and adoption….

We’re governed by mice, aren’t we?

Spotted dick has long been a source of amusement for diners – but now seems to be so much so that waiters in the Houses of Parliament dare not say the name of the pudding out loud.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that staff working in Strangers’ Dining Room, the 19th-century restaurant used by MPs to entertain guests, have resorted to using the name “Spotted Richard” in order to spare the clientele their blushes.

Four staff waiting on tables in the restaurant confirmed the name change when approached last night. They were less forthcoming when asked for an explanation, stating only that “Richard” was less likely to cause a stir with guests.

However, the rebrand appears to have had the opposite of the desired effect, with Strangers’ regulars taking to social media yesterday to brand the change “very silly”.

That they’ve not risen up en masse and hanged the catering manager responsible from the clapper of Big Ben shows they are mice, not men.

You’ll recognise this argument from elsewhere

For, as I said earlier, a house costs in Seattle just what a house costs anywhere. It’s not even the price of land which drives it up in that locality. It’s the permission to put a house on a piece of land which does. Allow more housing on that set amount of land, and the price of each piece of housing will fall. This isn’t rocket science, just basic economics: Increase supply, and prices fall. And again, it’s permits to build which are in short supply, so issue more permits and the price will fall.

My preferred solution is to simply abolish zoning altogether. You own a piece of land? Build as you wish upon it. That would solve one of our modern world problems by having less government. Indeed, simply stop government from doing something (rationing house-building), and the price of housing will fall.

Even if that’s a bit radical for you, it is still true the Seattle City Council is causing the problem. Thus it’s one the Seattle City Council can solve entirely. Allow people to build more dense housing in Seattle, and the price of housing in Seattle will fall. That’s what they say is their goal, anyway, so why don’t they do it then?

No, she’s still a student

Moreover, when education becomes something we can buy, return and refund, universities become less accountable.


Micha Frazer-Carroll is the welfare and rights officer at Cambridge University Students’ Union

No, no, it’s OK. She’s a student, we know that she’s ignorant and not yet educated, that’s why she’s a student, right?

Ellie might nee to speak to a lawyer

The Audit Commission was by no means perfect, but it was not embroiled in the number of financial scandals that the big four accountancy firms have been. Questions need to be asked about why these companies have repeatedly been found not to be doing their jobs properly; whether the motive to make money has anything to do with that, and whether a publicly owned body that audits banks and big corporations may be necessary. The collapse of BHS resulted in 11,000 job losses: the negligence of these firms has real impacts on people’s livelihoods and families. Perhaps it’s time to bring them under public control.

The accusation that BHS’ auditors were negligent is a pretty important statement, isn’t it?

The thing is she’s right

Russian women should avoid sex with non-white foreign men during the football World Cup because they could become single mothers to mixed-race children, a senior lawmaker in Moscow said on Wednesday.

Even when Russian women marry foreigners the relationships often end badly, said Tamara Pletnyova, head of parliament’s committee for families, women and children. Women are often stranded abroad or in Russia but unable to get their children back, she said.

She spoke in response to a question from a radio station about the so-called “Children of the Olympics” after the Moscow Games in 1980, a time when contraception was not widely available in the country.

The term was used during the Soviet era to describe non-white children conceived at international events after relationships between Russian women and men from Africa, Latin America, or Asia. Many of the children faced discrimination.

“We must give birth to our children. These [mixed-race] kids suffer and have suffered since Soviet times,” Pletnyova told Govorit Moskva radio station.

Perhaps it would be better if she weren’t right but Russia is markedly more racist concerning such matters than the UK is. A mixed race kid isn’t going to get a fair shake of the stick in that country.

Sure, complain about why that is so but it’s true.


A parked car belonging to an imprisoned man cannot be moved whilst he is in jail because he has a blue badge, a council has said.

The vehicle, which is said to belong to David Marks, has been reportedly sat outside Croydon Crown Court for months after Mr Marks parked there to attend his own hearing.

Local residents have now raised questions over the car, asking why it has been allowed to take up the disabled bay for so long, despite no one using it.

But the council has confirmed it has no intentions of moving the vehicle as it parked there legally.

The Smart car has been sitting outside the court since Mr Marks, from Bromley, was jailed earlier this year.

He reportedly drove the car to court where he was sentenced for racially or religiously aggravated harassment. After being found guilty of one count and pleading guilty to a second he was jailed for 12 months on April 13.

How lovely.

And no, we don’t have exceptions. It’s legal, on your way then matey. That he’s in jail, on holiday, simply wants to leave his car where it’s legally parked? It’s legally parked and there’s an end to it.

Sorry, just don’t believe it

NHS is “picking up the pieces” of an epidemic of mental illness among children, fuelled by social media, the head of the service has warned.

Simon Stevens urged companies like Google and Facebook to take more responsibility for the pressures they place on children.

It follows calls for social media and online gaming firms to have a statutory “duty of care” to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said Britain’s children were hit by a “double epidemic” of mental illness and obesity.

We know the obesity line is crap. Child obesity is defined in relative terms, to the weights of the cohort. And I strongly suspect that the mental health part is scrotes too. Expansions of the definition of illness, no more.

Our problem with those who would plan life being that they believe so many untrue things about reality.

Yes, and?

Top Tory Eurosceptic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended his City firm for setting up an investment fund in Ireland after it emerged that its clients were warned about the risks of a “hard” Brexit.

Somerset Capital Management, the MP’s London-based firm, has launched a new investment vehicle in Dublin.

The news is potentially embarrassing because Mr Rees-Mogg has suggested that a hard Brexit, when the UK would walk away next year without an exit deal or trade arrangement, should not be ruled out.

Isn’t he showing how easily it can all be dealt with? How easy it is to gain passporting and thus continue to sell to Europeans?