Polly’s command of statistics

There never is, was or can be a neat universal system. Besides, Beveridge planned for an all-male workforce when a man’s wage was enough: now median families need two earners.

If, as is true, the median family is two earner then the median family rather needs to be…..

It’s not that life has become more expensive. Rather, that the structure of the workforce has changed. You know, that female liberation stuff?

In which the Spectator gets it wrong

Within hours of your engagement being announced, a Spectator columnist set the tone, writing: “Obviously, 70 years ago, Meghan Markle would have been the kind of woman the prince would have had for a mistress, not a wife.”

Well, not really, actually. We went through this 80 years ago in fact. At which point the King decided upon the wife option for the American divorcee, not the mistress.

90 years ago we might have made the assumption the Speccie just has done. 70 years ago the incidence of it not working that way was all rather fresh in the memory.

Umm, what?

Junk food advertisements should be banned before the 9pm watershed to prevent manufacturers getting round rules designed to protect children, leading doctors and campaigners have said.

OK, they’re idiot wowsers but still, there’s by their standards, some logic there.

Telegraph headline:

Junk food advertisements should be banned after 9pm to protect children, top doctors demand

No, these people don’t have editors these days, do they?

What Horrors, What Horrors

Part of the problem is that during the campaign and beyond, the sources of right-wing disinformation have been diffuse. Some of it comes from Russian-backed sources, absolutely. But a lot comes from sleazy right-wing operators stateside. Many of these folks aren’t even getting paid, but are part of a volunteer army of “alt-right” propagandists.

Isn’t it just appalling when the citizenry talk among themselves? They might even be guilty of Notgoodthink, eh?

Numbers, numbers

The group behind Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the top of Labour is backing a policy to treble council tax to more than £10,000 year for people living in the largest homes.

Far left activists in Bristol are proposing to increase council tax for the largest homes by 200 per cent to stop cuts to council services.

The council tax changes could raise £25.8million if the owners of the top eight per cent of homes – around 15,266 households – paid the new charge.

It’s not an entirely terrible idea to be honest. 200% might be rather over cooking it.

But 15,266 households? 1.5 million maybe…..

The Guardian and the very concept of numbers

The number of poor rose despite the government raising the poverty line last year.

This is good too:

For single person households it is set at HK$4,000 (£388).

That’s in the top 20% of global incomes, yes, after adjusting for price differences.

“Economic growth can not help the lower classes share in the economic achievements,” said a spokesman for the Society for Community Organisation, an NGO that works with the poor.


Hong Kong’s GDP per capita is ranked among the highest of any country or territory, according to the World Bank, and exceeds the UK, Germany and Japan.

It’s amazing how twisted you’ve got to be to believe those three together.

The Guardian’s editor

“Facebook has become the richest and most powerful publisher in history by replacing editors with algorithms – shattering the public square into millions of personalised news feeds, shifting entire societies away from the open terrain of genuine debate and argument, while they make billions from our valued attention. This shift presents big challenges for liberal democracy. But it presents particular problems for journalism.”

The actual complaint is that the people are determining the conversation rather than as it used to be, when those who had climbed the greasy pole to become editor of The Guardian did. You know, the peasantry get to talk about what they want to talk about instead of being told what to think?

She would say that, wouldn’t she?

Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, said that the web giants had a responsibility to subsidise investigative reporting.

Newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic have been forced to cut budgets as advertising revenues increasingly move online. The “duopoly” of Google and Facebook will receive more than half of all money spent on digital advertising in Britain this year, according to recent forecasts. Asked if she was concerned about the future of journalism, Brown told Time magazine: “I do worry very much about the business model. I think it’s high time that Facebook and Google created a vast philanthropy fund to fund journalism. They have stolen so much that it’s high time they gave some of it back.”

It is interesting how profoundly conservative people can be, isn’t it? A little more Marx might be useful here, technology determines social relations. Ad supported investigative and long form reporting is really a transient thing, perhaps a century of it? And it happened just because that’s the way technology was then – and it ain’t now.


That hasn’t prevented Yiannopoulos from casting about for another patron. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the shirt sitting next to “It’s Okay To Be White” in Yiannopoulos’s store hawks the “Constantinople Reclamation Squad” – and features, in the latest overlap between white supremacists and Russian nationalist talking points, a Russian double-headed eagle.

The double headed eagle was part of the heraldry of the Byzantine Empire. The version the t-shirt uses, with cross and orb, is actually from the Ecumenical Patriarch.

BTW, the writer of this drivel is “with a Master’s thesis detailing PR and image-management efforts from the regimes in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan”


Well, yes Oliver

Who could possibly disagree? Well, me. Orwell’s essay is a misconceived and blundering polemic whose rules are alternately facile, foolish and destructive.

The essay’s opening sentence betrays its tendentiousness:

Tendentiousness being, I suspect, one of those words Orwell would advise against using.

What’s wrong with the word “bias” there after all?

This isn’t the way the law works Owen, just isn’t at all

Those who crow about the “legality” of tax avoidance are, of course, being disingenuous. The state has not passed laws permitting certain schemes in the same way that it has, for example, allowed the legal sale of alcohol.

Rather, the government hasn’t banned ownership of foreign assets in the same manner that it has not banned the legal ownership of Cabbage Patch dolls. Simply because our system works on the idea that everything which is not specifically illegal is legal. We do not have a law which makes it legal to be Owen Jones. We simply do not have a law which makes it illegal to be Owen Jones.

I would also note that this piece of his does not have a comments section – in common with all of the Guardian’s coverage that I’ve seen of the Paradise Papers. There’d be too many “Oi, but what about your tax arrangements, Scott Trust Ltd?” I assume.


Are the Amish right about new technology?

From our ever popular series Questions in the Guardian We Can Answer

Except, as Kevin Kelly points out in his book What Technology Wants, the Amish have never been unequivocal shunners of modernity. “Amish lives are anything but anti-technological,” he writes. Visiting Amish communities, he found battery-powered radios, computer-controlled milling machines, solar panels, chemical fertilisers and GM crops. What distinguishes the Amish stance toward any given invention isn’t that they reject it outright; it’s that they start by assuming they don’t want or need it, then adopt it only if they decide it’s in line with their values.

Until you’ve used it you don’t know, do you?

I dunno really, just dunno

Not only is Kilburn’s jobcentre due to close in the next few months, but so is the neighbouring one in Neasden. This will mean Kilburn residents will be expected to transfer to Wembley – almost 10 miles away – and others to Kentish Town.

Ms. Frances Ryan and numbers. It’s 6.1 miles from Wembley to Kilburn. 2.7 miles to Kentish Town from Kilburn.

Her numbers never really do add up, do they?

No, these people don’t have editors any more

Years back, when I first started blogging, (2004 if memory serves, Jeebus) I had something of a rallying cry. “Don’t these people have editors?”

I think it was Nick Cohen who used it to describe my blogging style – I certainly used it enough that it became a subsidiary tag line of sorts.

The answer?

It was designed to keep out the Barbarian hoards, but nearly two thousand years after Hadrian’s Wall was erected, the structure is finally succumbing to foreign invasion.

No, not these days they don’t, not at the Telegraph.

The Romans were absolutely delighted for Barbarian hoards to cross the wall, it was the hordes they were less keen upon.

Err, Polly?

Inflation springs from rising import prices, due to the plunge in sterling caused by Brexit – not from rising wages, which are stuck at little over 2%. Raising rates will hardly affect foreign prices – sterling may plunge again if the Brexit deal looks bad.

Raising interest rates does raise the value of the £, all other things considered.

We’ve told you before not to get your economics from Richard Murphy.

Just about everything done in the past seven years of taxing and spending has dug a deeper hole in the national finances and in most people’s pockets – apart from the soaring number of super-rich, beneficiaries of quantitative easing that sent mostly untaxed wealth and property sky-high.

Raising interest rates will aid in reducing those asset prices pushed up by QE.

Raise the top rate of income tax: latest research quoted by tax specialist Richard Murphy shows a top rate of 60% would aid growth.

Told you the source of this.

Deeply unsure that Willy understand the Enlightenment

The meaning he seems to believe in is that the enlightened believe as he does, that the Enlightenment means that he and his should rule:

The intensity of the attacks betrays the fragility of the Brexit position. A 52% – 48% result is not overwhelming. Few of the country’s key interest groups – business lobby organisations, trade unions, universities, the City, the security, defence and foreign policy communities, the creative industries and even the property world – supported Leave. But, more importantly, there is and was little support in Britain’s culture.

That’s corporatism there. A reversion to the pre-Enlightenment world of guilds in fact. Precisely and exactly what Adam Smith was raging against.

Then there’s this:

A significant element in western electorates, particularly among the less well-educated and unskilled members of the white working class, is so fearful about the impact of mass immigration on their sense of identity that Enlightenment values can go hang. There are fertile ground for the populist right everywhere – from eastern Europe to the American midwest, including the poorer regions of England.

But a goodly part of that rage and reaction is that what is being thrust upon them is the very opposite of that Enlightenment. It’s not difficult to see at least some (to be mild about it) insistence upon group rather than individual rights in the bleatings of the left these days, is it? Group rights, corporatism and the guilds being exactly what we’re supposed to have left behind.