About that modern slavery

Nearly 200 migrant workers who were ‘rescued’ by anti-slavery police yesterday were back at work on the farm today.

It comes after at least 100 of the workers descended on Camborne Police Station, Cornwall, last night to protest their boss’ arrest at RH Scrimshaw and Sons at Bosahan Farm.

The huge crowd of workers gathered in anger stating they were not victims of slavery and worked in good conditions — and could earn up to £250 a day.

They were part of a group of around 200 people found when police swooped on the site yesterday morning.

Right

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed that the three arrested men were aged 68, 49 and 41 – and one was not 61 as earlier released.

Now, about those 100,000 Vietnamese tarts in the nail bars…..

This might be the only prosecution but do we think it’s the only case?

A serial fraudster has been jailed for 21 months after he pretended his wife and son were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in a “despicable” attempt to pocket £12,500 set aside for victims of the disaster.

Anh Nhu Nguyen was pictured beside Prince Charles and gave TV interviews posing as a survivor of the disaster, in which 71 people died. He did not live there but at an address in south-east London.

Well, boo hoo, eh?

Fruit and vegetable farms across the UK were left short of thousands of migrant workers in 2017, leaving some produce to rot in the fields and farmers suffering big losses.

More than 4,300 vacancies went unfilled, according to new survey data from the National Farmers Union (NFU), which covers about half the horticultural labour market. The survey, seen exclusively by the Guardian, shows more than 99% of the seasonal workers recruited came from eastern Europe, with just 0.6% from the UK.

Since the vote to leave the European Union in 2016, growers have warned repeatedly of damaging labour shortages, with recruiters reporting that Brexit has created the perception among foreign workers that the UK is xenophobic and racist.

The government, which has pledged to reduce immigration, has so far rejected calls to reinstate a seasonal agricultural workers scheme (Saws). Facing uncertainty over labour, some farmers have begun moving their production overseas.

The NFU labour survey found that an average of 12.5% of vacancies went unfilled in 2017, the first time there has been a shortfall since the survey began in 2014. The proportion of workers returning to work in the UK after previous years is also dropping fast, from 41% in 2016 to 29% in 2017. The fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote has also helped make the UK less attractive.

It’s the last sentence there which is important.

So farmers will have to raise the wages they offer. So sad, eh?

Where has this woman been this past five decades?

In this moment of brave truth telling and female empowerment, it’s time to address one topic that’s been missing far too long from our conversations around sex: female pleasure.

There is a large and thriving industry – has been for decades – talking about female sexual pleasure.

Shannon Bledsoe is the executive director of global non-profit organization WCG, which is partnering with actress and activist Jessica Biel to launch Trystnetwork.org, a sex positive online resource.

Just another competitor trying to get on the bandwagon then.

Really, not a surprise at all

I’m a little shocked that this hasn’t been happening more:

Engineers at Russia’s top nuclear research facility have reportedly been detained after they attempted to mine bitcoin on its computers.

Several employees at Russia’s nuclear centre in the city of Sarov have been detained after making “an attempt to use the work computing facilities for personal ends, including for so-called mining”, a spokeswoman for the centre, Tatiana Zalesskaya, told Interfax news agency.

Various governments have huge chunks of computing power. I would expect (recall, I spent some time in Russia, I have a view of the use of govt assets driven by experience) more of this to have been happening.

Not much longer and he’ll die

A gangster has gone three weeks without a bowel movement in an alleged attempt to stop police finding drugs he swallowed.

Not from exploding though.

As a recent case explained- assuming he’s still eating that is – it will all end up coming back up the neck. For the poor unfortunate who was supposedly in “care” this meant aspirating it and dying.

Yes, it is actually possible to drown in your own shit.

Idiot business idea

I’m just finishing off my first draft of a trade book (ie, here’s a small flat fee Tim, give us 50,000 words) on business models.

An idea arises.

So, lots of amputees out there.

Drop shipping is becoming more of a thing. Internet sales are becoming more of a thing.

So, combine the two.

You, the customer, go around these drop shipping sites (or you, the business, sign up to every drop shipping site in the country). Order is paid for, drop shipped to business site.

Seamstress adjusts the clothing according to the specific needs of the amputee. Properly done, well sewn. The amputee having sent in pictures of the state of the limb so that proper measurements are known. Instead of trouser legs being pinned up and the like.

Then adjusted clothing is sent on to customer. Margin charged for seamstress. This should be (note, should be) lower than the cost of taking to a seamstress out in meat world, search costs lower and so on. Margin is gained on the original drop ship plus on the adjustments.

Original marketing to start at least would be pretty simple. There are various organisations aiding amputees after all.

If this actually works you can send me some money.

And my real point

This is the great argument against state or similar control of technological experimentation. Not that the state or similar body will be more or less efficient at producing an output. But that it will constrict the paths taken, and thus leave us poorer. Political direction leaves every maniac with a grudge the power to prohibit. While the market, on the other hand, lets the maniacs get on with seeing what works.

Stealing a point made here one again

That Elon Musk has stuck a used car up in the Van Allen belt is seen by those mature in the ways of business as a blindingly good piece of advertising.

The rocket had to be tested and no one’s going to put anything valuable on the first shot of a new lifting platform, so why not add $50,000 of old banger to gain worldwide exposure? Seriously, why not? Other such tests of other rockets have been, in the past, simply festooned with scrap metal – and no one watched a live stream of them.

To the sort of people who produce The Guardian, however, this is an outrage. They seem to see it as an argument that individuals, even rich ones, simply shouldn’t be the people off exploring space. That it is something that should be done by “states, communities and united peoples”, in common:

FFS. now it’s the dictionary he’s not getting!

The second half of their argument I have a lot of time for: deflation is a danger to be avoided at just about all costs, in my opinion. That a fall in the value of the currency might destroy real opportunity in the economy is unforgivable in my opinion, and it’s right that the Bank should steer clear of it.

Deflation is a rise in the value of the currency.

But equally, I see no reason at all why we should keep inflation to 2% so that the owners of debt (and debt ownership is the basis of wealth) should have their asset values preserved, which is the only reason why I can see the current target is so low.

Would the world end if the target was 3%? Or 4%? Or even 5%? I’m not suggesting any more than that, and might only go for doubling to 4% to be honest. The obvious answer is it would not.

No, that’s not why the target is where it is. The biggest damage caused by inflation is that it screws the price system. It’s the changing relative prices of goods and services which are the useful signals in an economy. Consistent and large inflation masks those. We all just lose track if you like. Deflation is also bad, worse even. Thus, the target is set where we get the least of the distortion of the price system while still avoiding the deflation.

And that rate of inflation would allow for wage growth in proportion to asset prices – and most specifically house prices – which is vital.

Everyone recall how wages kept up with house prices in the 1970s when we had higher inflation?

Such a rate may also allow real wage rises – which has to be good.

4% inflation will increase the likelihood of real wage rises?

Critically, this inflation target would also mean that interest rates need not rise – rate rises that will tip millions into unmanageable debt scenarios and which might precipitate a new banking crisis as a result.

Higher inflation will not increase market determined interest rates? Jeebus, which planet is Ritchie phoning this in from?

There are reasonable – maybe not good but reasonable – arguments for a rise in the inflation target. Amazing that the Senior Lecturer has managed to stumble across absolutely none of them.

Nope, not even understanding MMT

What this also means is that the capacity to tax, and indeed to borrow, cannot constrain government spending. Tautologically this has to be true: since neither payment of tax or lending to the government would be possible unless government created money was put into circulation as a result of government spending that spending cannot be constrained by either of them.

But what this means is that there is no requirement per se to balance the government’s books. Indeed it is not just illogical but completely economically perverse to seek to do. A government with a balanced budget necessarily denies an economy the funds it needs to function.

Nope, not at all.

Assume the steps leading up to this are correct. Govt can just print money, they spend then tax, there aren’t those constraints. This does not then mean that a balanced budget is denying society the money it needs to function. MMT doesn’t say that at all. Taking it all again as true, imagine a society at full employment. True, entirely full, employment and capacity utilisation. Any further money emission will turn up as inflation, only inflation. Which MMT types say must be taxed back to prevent the inflation.

That is, even MMT says that at full capacity therefore there should be a balanced budget. To prevent inflation.

Welcome to governance by the anal retentives

Facebook was yesterday accused of being in an ‘abusive relationship’ with its users, as MPs called for web giants to be regulated.

The culture, media and sport select committee told executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google that they have opened a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of social problems and have become so powerful, it is ‘time for rules’ to keep them in check.

Lots of people are doing something they like doing. Without being guided. By, you know, the Illuminati who ought to guide all. Therefore regulation.

There is nothing else here.

Try this thought experiment. If social media did not exist would these very same people be promoting its use – as properly conceived and managed by themselves – in order to something something?

Given they dropped however much it was on Lily Cole’s thing, yes, they would.

It’s about control by those who should righteously* control, nothing else.

*Definitions of righteously have been known to differ.

Contrary to reports, masturbation does not kill Germans

Masturbation kills up to 100 Germans a year, according to a study which has also uncovered the bizarre ways people have died pleasuring themselves.

One man – wearing pantyhose, a raincoat and a diving suit as well as a plastic bag over his head – died in Hamburg after sitting next to a heater and trying to melt slices of cheese on his body.

No, that’s not masturbation killing him.

Mozzarellaphilia perhaps…..

Another man in Halle was found dead with Christmas tree lights clamped to his nipples having apparently tried to stimulate himself by electrocution.

Teslaphilia?

Forensic examiner Harald Voß said the most common reason for autoerotic deaths was the desire for the ultimate orgasm through depriving oneself of oxygen.

That’s just INXS.

Doesn’t this just kill an argument

But to hear Linda Bellos, the veteran feminist campaigner, arguing on the radio this week against allowing trans candidates to join Labour’s all-women shortlists because she didn’t feel a trans woman could “represent me” was as depressing as reading Bergdorf’s tweet. There are men in parliament now, never mind trans politicians, who represent my feelings about stamping out sexual harassment at Westminster better than older women insisting that a hand on the knee doesn’t matter.

Thus dies the line that it matters more who represents rather than what they represent. The race, gender, orientation, of our representatives doesn’t matter, only their policies.

Well, OK, I’m fine with that myself. But it does rather kill about 90% of today’s left wing politics, doesn’t it?

State funding of political parties

A political group linked to Ukip has lost a legal attempt to restore EU funds that were suspended over fraud allegations, adding to financial pressure on Eurosceptic parties.

The European court of justice rejected an appeal by the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe for the release of €670,655 (£587,389) in EU funds, which the organisation had been denied, pending an investigation by Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office.

I know precisely nothing about the details here.

However, look at what happens when the state, and only the state, funds political parties. Here it’s fraud allegations – again, I know nothing – but think of the power that this gives the authorities. Allege fraud, delay grants, party/organisation falls apart and, well, what does truth or reality matter?

But of course this never would happen, would it, the establishment would never be so brazen as to kill off, say, a populist party in this manner.

No, never.

By the way, how’s Vlaams Block doing these days?

Tell ’em to bugger off

UK negotiators have been warned that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that Northern Ireland will, in effect, remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit to avoid a hard border.

The uncompromising legal language of the draft agreement is likely to provoke a major row, something all parties to the negotiations have been trying to avoid.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is still, just, a sovereign nation.

In which case bugger off mateys.

The correct answer here is, as I’ve been saying, to lie.

“And sure enough, this is a border, can’t you see it? We’ve road signs and all saying it’s the border.”

And then carry on much as we do right now. Anything less than an artic going through is just local people doing local things*. Larger cargos get “randomly” checked. And we’re done.

*Adjust according to local intelligence.

What a weird thing to fire people for

One of Britain’s biggest charities last night denied claims it had covered up the reasons behind the departure of senior aid workers, some of whom were accused of using prostitutes in Haiti during relief efforts.

​Oxfam is facing calls to review reports that it let three men resign while four men were sacked over allegations which have emerged about their time in the country in the aftermath of a major earthquake, according to an investigation by The Times.

Sure, they say they’ll pay and they don’t, that would be bad. They’ve taken pledges not to have sex except with those they’re married to, might be a moral case there but employment? Kiddie fiddlers, criminal offence under UK law – even in Haiti.

But willing and paid sex between two consenting adults?

Paying for sex is against Oxfam’s staff code of conduct and in breach of United Nations statements on the behaviour of aid workers, which the charity supported. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti.

Why are they all against private enterprise as a manner of alleviating poverty?

Dear God, he even gets this wrong

This new work breaks ground by emphasising more than financial capital, and that is important because many forms of capital drive growth. In the process it also emphasises vulnerabilities: mineral resources don’t last forever for example, whereas high human capital is associated with high growth.

No it isn’t. The currently rich countries have high human capital. The currently poor countries have low. The poor countries grow faster than the rich.

The association is that high human capital is correlated with past economic growth, not high future such.

It gets worse of course:

Measures are useful for three reasons. The first is comparison. The second is comprehension. The third is as the basis for decision making. What this says is that the best investment in the world is in people. And questions immediately follow, not least as to why so many barriers to education now exist in the UK in the form of student debt, and why have we been so opposed to student migration?

The World Bank’s measure explicitly excludes years of schooling as a measure. Instead:

Human capital wealth is measured for the first time as the present value
of the future earnings of the labor force using household surveys for 141
countries. Human capital is often interpreted to include, among other factors,
the years of schooling of the population, the actual learning taking
place in school and after leaving school, and health investments. In this
book the measure of human capital is based on the present value of the
expected earnings of the labor force, a measure that is consistent with the
concept of capital used for other assets. This measure factors in not only
the number of years of schooling completed by workers, but also the earnings
gains associated with schooling (which implicitly factors in the quality
of the learning taking place in school) and how long workers can work
(which implicitly accounts for health conditions through life expectancy,
among others).

The capitalisation of the extra income stream from the education, not the years of it. And given that an arts degree for a male in the UK, on average of course, is a net loser in income for the student that means that a healthy chunk of university education in the UK subtracts from national wealth.

Which is why we have a loan system to fund it. In the hope that the 18 year olds will have enough nous not to do degrees which lower their lifetime income.