Elsewhere

What is it that the new millennial movement insists we should all have? Government planning the economy, government running healthcare: the two very things that we know it cannot in fact do. Simply because, as with even being able to identify children, government just doesn’t, and cannot, have the information necessary to do these tasks — and that’s before we even start to talk about the “Green New Deal,” which appears to be based upon the idea that giving Ocasio-Cortez a $93 trillion checkbook will work out well.

Reality tends to differ with these dreams, and reality is the bit that’s left over after you wake up. Government is necessary; yes, it is. It’s also really bad at doing things, so let us use it where we must and carry that load of everything else ourselves.

Boeing’s problem with the 737 Max

It’s not so much that they’ve got to – or someone does – to the families of those who died It’s that there’s also a liability to those who cannot use the panes they’ve bought.

That Boeing (NYSE:BA) has a problem with the 737 Max is obvious enough. The Lion and then Ethiopian crashes tell us that much. But there’s not necessarily a bigger problem here, merely uncertainty about how big the problem might be. Or, even, whether there is a problem to be uncertain about.

That being, well, airlines which have bought the 737 Max can’t currently use them. Or at least in many places they cannot. This implies costs for said airlines – who is responsible for those costs? That depends on how the blame for the 737 Max problems is apportioned in the end of course. But I think we all know there’s a significant risk it’s going to be Boeing itself.

That’s not the end of it, though. If blame is assigned to Boeing, then sure, the compensation bill to the families of those who died will end up in Seattle, where it may or may not be insured, but probably is. But what about those losses of airlines which cannot fly the planes they’ve bought and still must pay for? And the costs of renting replacement planes to keep the schedules going?

It could end up being the much more expensive problem,

Elsewhere

Interesting times. Despite the likelihood of a delay, I might still be holding casting calls for that celebratory marching band come March 29. The best bet is that delay will happen, but all that will enable is to delay having to reach the decision that no one can agree on. The important thing to realize being that normally in politics when there’s no agreement, nothing happens. But we’ve already got baked into the system that we leave with no deal if no changes are made. But that requires that agreement, which there isn’t one of.

For those with a clever solution, please mail it posthaste to Number 10 Downing St., SW1, London. For everyone else, there’s popcorn.

Elsewhere

There are, nevertheless, times when there is legitimate cause to restrict price discovery. I’m certainly overjoyed about one form of the Libor price fixing. Libor is a measure of what banks will lend to each other at. Back in the dark days of 2008 banks would not lend to each other. Libor was thus rather high, if it existed at all, but the banks continued to report numbers which were little out of line with the mundane and ordinary. A bit naughty perhaps, but surely preferable to the world’s reference interest rate being quoted as infinite.

Elsewhere

The alternative to this is that, as Toynbee suggests, we must all be re-educated in order to hate inequality. Then we would ask for, and would get, greater action to reduce it. Democracy would indeed produce what we want but only after we’ve elected another electorate to accord with a Guardian columnist’s ideal society. That seems rather against the spirit of democracy, even it was Brecht’s solution to the same problem.

Attitudes toward inequality do differ across societies, it’s no great surprise that their levels of inequality differ as well.

Timmy elsewhere

Brexit is about to give us a problem with this, though. Karl Marx was right: wages won’t rise when there’s spare labour available, his “reserve army” of the unemployed. The capitalist doesn’t have to increase pay to gain more workers if there’s a squad of the starving eager to labour for a crust. But if there are no unemployed, labour must be tempted away from other employers, and one’s own workers have to be pampered so they do not leave. When capitalists compete for the labour they profit from, wages rise.

Britain’s reserve army of workers now resides in Wroclaw, Vilnius, Brno, the cities of eastern Europe. The Polish plumbers of lore did flood in and when the work dried up they ebbed away again. The net effect of Brexit will be that British wages rise as the labour force shrinks and employers have to compete for the sweat of hand and brow.

Back in The Times.

On the subject of stagnant wages, the rate for these sorts of things hasn’t changed in 15 years. No wonder we hear so much about earnings – it’s journalists who are affected.

Brexit elsewhere

Back to opinion: I’m such an extremist that I insist the very existence of the European Union is a bad idea and that our leaving might be the first tumbling brick which brings the whole edifice down. Yet it is still factually true that the Brexit process is in a bit of a bind. Among those who have to decide, those parliamentarians, there is no majority in favor of any action or deal. And yet the default, without such positive decision making, is that Britain leaves without a deal at all, and reverts to WTO terms.

Myself, I’m shivering with anticipation even as I note that rather a lot of my countrymen disagree.

 

Glad they did put the link in there.

Elsewhere

All of which presumably is why Keynes himself was converted to the idea by 1942. Thus this is what we should do next recession. Forget all those grand spending plans which won’t come to fruition in time to do any good. Cut national insurance so as to leave more cash to fructify in the pockets of the populace. It’s effective, timely, possible and works. The only people who will complain being those politicians who have far too healthy an interest in spending more of ours rather than less. To whom the correct answer is “Diddums”.

Rather fun

To be able to make this point again.

It is true that I don’t – as you may well have realised – share Owen Jones’s vision of what the good society would be. But if he wants us to be more Nordic, it really does mean we should become entirely the opposite of everything Jones urges — radically free market, capitalist and near entirely fiscally devolved societies. I’d still object to the tax rates but bring on the rest, quite frankly.

The value of gradually acquiring new places to write, leaving old ones behind perhaps, is that the few greatest hits as logical or propaganda points can be rolled out again in new clothes and guises. They also develop a little. It is, for example, only recently that I found out this:

However that misses the point that underneath those taxes, the Scandinavians are more free market, even more capitalist, than we are or even the US is. Their corporations are indeed more efficient – because they are deliberately structured to not just emphasise but exalt the shareholder interest.

Isn’t it odd that the literature does indeed state that the Nordic corporate board system is “most efficient” while no one at all recommends that we should all be using it?

This is one way economists describe value

All of these are technologies and all obey the same rules as to who benefits. We have innovators, entrepreneurs, consumers, and some split of the gains between them. Nordhaus’ finding is that it’s us out here, the consumers, who gain some 97% of the value created. Sure, Ford made a fortune out of the Model T, but who gained the value of being able to court in the back seat?

And yes, at least one estimate insists that the rate of virginity upon marriage declined markedly after the car became populist.

Letters in The Times

I make something of a prediction. One that is obviously true, also one that everyone is going to ignore:

EMPLOYERS AND THE ETHNIC PAY GAP
Sir, Further to your report “Employers must reveal ethnic pay gap of staff” (Oct 12), Sir John Parker’s independent review into the ethnic diversity of UK boards found that just 1 per cent of the directors of our top companies are black Britons. The leadership of our professions and government looks little better. Not only are we ignoring the potential of many of our people, the face that we show the world is lamentably redolent of a bygone era for which many of our hoped-for post-Brexit markets in Asia, Africa and the Americas feel no nostalgia.

The government’s proposal for ethnic pay reporting stands a good chance of illuminating this waste of talent and of nudging organisations, both private and public, in the right direction. But it is vital that such reporting is mandatory, otherwise the prime minister’s words will amount to nothing more than a pointless wish list. Worse, it would be a travesty if companies that voluntarily published their data were to find themselves pilloried while other, less scrupulous organisations skulked in the shadows.

Transparency works, but only if everyone is required to be equally open.
Trevor Phillips
Chairman, Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2006–12

Sir, Theresa May’s idea that all employers should publish their ethnic pay gap is going to be expensive and misleading. Expensive because such statistics cost to collect and collate, misleading because the age structure of the population differs by formally defined race. From the 2011 census, the whole population median age was 39, that of the white population 41, Asian, black and other, 30, 30 and 29 respectively, and mixed 18. Pay rises with age, as promotions to better-paid positions are earned through experience.

Populations with higher median ages have higher median wages therefore. No one will pay attention to this simple truth when the figures are announced — thus misleading us all. Given the age structure of the varied populations, ethnic minorities should have lower median pay than whites. This won’t be the reaction to the finding of an ethnic pay gap, though, will it?
Tim Worstall
Senior fellow, Adam Smith Institute

And a decade really is quite a long time in a career and pay structure, isn’t it?

Elsewhere

So it is with fascism, which is rather more than spiffy uniforms and being beastly to everyone not of the Volk. There’s a specific set of economic policies which go along with it, followed by all who themselves claimed to be fascist. From Mussolini through Salazar and Franco to, yes, Hitler and on to such people as Stroessner in Paraguay. Uniforms and beastliness, certainly, but also an insistence that it is the national that matters, the point that an economy should, as far as is possible, be entirely self-supporting. What can be made at home should be so, and trade across borders should be kept to a minimum.

Further, government shouldn’t take over private sector business (that’s state socialism) but should most certainly direct, in detail — define what wages should be, profit margins, who makes what and even how.