Guess who?

Other than that, there are bad points about them both.

With Le Pen it is undoubtedly the very ugly undercurrent of racism and anti-semitism. Yet with Melenchon, the problem is economic stupidity of a Venezuelan level of ghastliness.

A 100 per cent tax rate gains no revenue whatsoever, but that is proposed. In an ageing country, he proposes lowering the pensions age. He would kill off the nuclear industry which supplies 75 per cent of current electricity, and in general appears about as well informed as Chavez himself.

Not an appealing choice, but as your parents should have, but probably didn’t, tell you about choosing a mate: ugly beats stupid every time.

Timmy elsewhere

Fortunately, we have a cure for all of this: education and experience. As Trump himself has just shown. And, in fact, as Twain pointed out in a story of his involving a young man who is permanently arguing with his parents, so leaves home at 18 and doesn’t see Pops again until he is 25. At which point, he is amazed at how much his father has learned in only seven years.

Or as we might put it, the reason that people become less utopian and more liberally conservative as they age, is education and experience.

Leaving only the final question: when is Owen Jones going to start?

Today’s report on CEO pay

But even more frustrating than this theoretical misunderstanding is that the LPIT method has proved so popular because it has encouraged more long-term thinking, not less.

The committee has managed to grasp the wrong end of the pay package stick here. Their recommendations would set us back several decades to a pay model that we abandoned precisely because the new one was better at the MPs’ stated goals. Perhaps it is MPs’ pay that needs changing. If we offered the market rate, we might get some who knew what they were talking about.

Anyone want to offer a little tech help?

I am having problems with the Forbes site. Wondering whether anyone can help me walk through this.

I think, I think, that there’s something wrong with their certificates…although my knowledge of what those are is pretty sketchy. But bear with me.

My assumption is that you register the site somewhere, someone issues a certificate saying “these are OK people”. Your browser, when loading a site, asks to see the certificate and then concludes, well, probably this is safe content. No, don’t explain it more technically than that, that’s roughly it?

And if it’s a safe site, with a reasonable certificate, then it loads nicely. And if the certificate is out of date or whatever, then it doesn’t?

So, when I’m inside the site if I’m in chrome the wordpress backend doesn’t load properly. I get something that looks like this:

“Skip to main content Skip to toolbar

My Sites

All Posts
Add New

Add New

All Links”

Instead of that normal wordpress appearance. It looks like everything is there, just that the code isn’t being translated by the browser into the normal look.

When I go in in Explorer, much the same happens. But it also asks me do I want to show unsafe content (not the right phrase, but). When I say yes then it resolves into the normal looking wordpress backend. Thus my assumption that it’s something to do with whether the site is considered safe or not, and thus about certificates. Also, on one mobile, it tells me that there’s a problem with the certificate.

That’s as far as my analysis skills can take me. But does this all sound logical?

And then there’s one more part. Traffic is slow at present. That would seem to me to be consistent with many people being told by their browser that there are certificate problems and thus not clicking through.

So, anyone know enough about these things to be able to tell me whether that all makes some sort of sense?

Coffee cups

A new report from Cardiff University tells us that we’d have to be blithering idiots to insist that people stop using disposable coffee cups.

The environmental cost to society of disposable coffee cups is thus £3 million a year. The benefits to the population are north of £625 million a year. The method we’ve used to get here is identical to the one used to show that we really must do something about climate change.

Which we should – just as we shouldn’t about coffee cups. Because the analysis shows that we’d give up at least £625 million of consumer utility to gain £3 million in environmental savings. Why would we want to make ourselves £622 million poorer?


Which is where the real problem is in this demand that women’s household work be included in GDP.
No, not that it violates economic principles, rather, that your mother, who conceived, carried, bore, suckled, trained you and even now drops hints wondering when the grandchildren will arrive, you’ve now got to go and tell her that all those years of her labour are valued at about what a rickshaw driver gets a month.
It’s easier just to say that including household labour in GDP violates some economic principle or other, isn’t it?


The paper isn’t by Vigdor’s colleagues. It’s actually by Vigdor. And isn’t that just so much better? At which point let’s lay out the logical structure Meyerson has used here.

Minimum wage rises don’t cause job losses. Jacob Vigdor is just a blue meanie spouting the usual propaganda when he says that Seattle’s minimum wage rise has had job loss effects. As proof of this, to refute his baseless assertion, we should read this paper, by Jacob Vigdor, on the job loss effects of Seattle’s minimum wage, which found that there are some. Anyone who disputes this finding is merely a right wing academic propagandising rather than relying upon empirical evidence. This violates the norms of most economic reporting.

Signed, H. Myerson.

Isn’t that just so cute?

Timmy recolonises Bangladesh

Bangladesh being the country of 700 rivers I asked to be taken to see a river. That’s dry season there, during the Monsoon the river rises a bit. A wee bit. Like to the level of the road and electricity poles a hundred yards behind me. The other bank of the river is some 300 yards to my front when in full spate. Err, the river in spate, not me.

Timmy elsewhere

The truth is that if the lycra-clad superjocks want to have a jamboree that’s their right and privilege, of course it is. But there’s absolutely no reason why we should pay for it – we being the taxpayers of whichever urb is mad enough to agree upon hosting.

The Olympics: Just Say No.

There’s a Paul Krugman line about Bangladesh

In a piece of his talking about how sweatshops ain’t great but they’re better than what poor places have to offer as an alternative Krugman says something like “even Bangladesh”. On the basis that 120 million people on the flood plains of the Himalayan rivers, with little other than the people and the flood plains, has always been one of those places where the development specialists and planners go “Well, what the fuck do we do here?”

Which rather speaks to this comment on the blog here:

I’ve become more optimistic since taking the time to read Tim’s Register and Forbes articles. I like that the world is getting richer. I didn’t realise how much and how quickly.

They’re having an industrial revolution, something that’s not pretty nor nice up close but it is happening. And like most other places that have had one they’re starting in textiles. Here it’s making up the garments, not the weaving or spinning. But that industry employs 4 million and produces 82% of exports.

It’s the old thing. The options are staring at the south end of a north moving water buffalo or the factory. And the water buffalo option produces an income (including domestic production of rice etc) of perhaps 2,000, maybe 3,000 takka a month. 20 to 30 quid. Rickshaw drivers get about the same. One thing I noted was that they’re direct drive, no gears on them. Asked around and gears are considered too expensive…..that’s a certain level of poverty, no? A short rickshaw ride is 10 takka. Got to do a lot of 10 p rides to make a living….

Minimum wage in the factories is 5,000 takka. Time and a half for overtime etc (not included in that number and min wage goes to the new entrants, no training etc). As ever in these sorts of industries the “names” pay better, offer free school for the kiddies, health care etc. The penumbra of subcontractors don’t. A typical career path is off the paddy into the subcontractor factory, a year or two later, with some experience and training under the belt, into one of the main contractors.

Yes, these are shitty wages and neither you nor I would want to try to live like that (note they’re at market exchange rates, not PPP, they understate the standard of living quite a bit, at UK prices think more like £150 a month). But the change wanted, the change desired, is happening.

I was talking to one of the industrialists, and at another time to an Oxford Prof who studies these things (household surveys on stress and mental health of those in and out of the industry for example, being in it raises stress for the worker, lowers it for the extended family…economic security is valuable it seems), and both said much the same thing. The biggest problem for the factories is access to labour. They’ve pretty much swept up that reserve army and are now, to their consternation, competing with each other for access to the desired labour.

As even Marx pointed out, that’s when wages start to rise, seriously and substantially.

The people who invited me out there are the mill owners. Not even Victorian yet, this is still a Georgian economy and some are taking the high road, some the low. Some are training and developing their staff, some are squeezing them. It ain’t, as at the top, pretty nor nice up close.

But the big question in development economics has been, over these past 5 or 6 decades, well, we think we know quite a lot about various places. But what the fuck do we do about Bangladesh? No, really, that’s been the general conclusion all along. And the answer seems to be, as it always has been everywhere, to have a free market driven industrial revolution.

And it is free market too. The creation myth of the industry is that back in 197x, a bloke (I was told his name, cannot recall it) corralled a few dozen sewing machines into a couple of apartments and started. Exports in year one were $20,000. He shipped a dozen likely lads off to Korea for 6 months training, the understanding being that they would then work for him for 5 years, a non-compete clause. None of them kept to that for even 12 months, having seen that this was a bit of alright this business. Absolutely no planning, no legislation, no government help, nowt. Just the lust for profits and market experimentation.

Exports will be $28 billion this year, there’s those 4 million in employment making that double the normal wage (a teacher in a government school might make 8,000 takka a month, with free accommodation, a high school teacher in the private sector would be thoroughly middle class on 15,000 takka. 5,000 takka plus overtime straight out of the fields doesn’t look so bad).

The great economic question in all of history is how do we move on from us all standing around in muddy fields. “So, Rasel, you know how this rice stuff works?” “Fucked if I know Faruqe.” “Mohan, Mohammad, know how we stop the buffalo eating the stuff? “Not a scoobie, sorry.” The answer being that all go off and work in factories.

And it’s happening. Even in that arse end of the development universe, Bangladesh. 5 and 6% GDP growth per year from a Stone Age starting point doesn’t sound like much but they’ve been doing that for two decades now. I spent 22 hours of yesterday traveling, I should be feeling like shit. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite this generally cheerful about the world. Sure, of course, I’ve been personally more excited (that realisation that the bird with the Big Tits is about to put out always generates a certain joy for example) but in that agape instead of eros sense I am indeed that cheerful.

We’d all like this to have happened 250 years ago, when it happened to our forefathers. But it’s true, the poor are getting rich. Life for great vast multitudes of people is getting better.

Time for the Happy Dance, no?

It’s only the dawn but there’s a certain bliss to being alive and knowing it is happening. Now what I’ve got to do is work out if there is some manner in which I can get involved, help prod it along. Probably not, for it has all happened without the intervention of the western upper middle classes in how it works. It’s been everyone else voting with their dollars, buying the stuff produced, which has made it work.

But bugger me, it is working. Ain’t that fucking grand?

So, this Bangladesh place then.

First impressions (from the 30 minute ride from the airport, hey, more than most journalists ever study a place).

The stndnrad of spoken English is high here, higher than in London often is. Among Bangladeshis in London that is. But then tour guides and porters at top end hotels are very desirable jobs in poor places.

Yes, teeming Asia, people, people, people, a la Paul Ehrlich (and this is 6 am on a Friday in a Muslim country).

Something good has happened here this past 30 years or so. OK, yes, many poor. Obviously. Couple of blokes working as porters (not hotel kind, carrying loads outside). They’re poor, obviously, rich people are not barefoot in the middle of town and carrying 40 lbs on their heads.

They’re also 6 foot and more tall.

That would be a hell of a surprise to anyone who had come to Bengal at any time in the past four millennia or so.

There are much more formal studies than my quick glance out there but there’s a definite difference in heights among generations. Think back to that WWI with the British soldiers and officers thing. When the 50 year old hotel porter is 5 ft, the 20 year old porter porter out there 6 then something’s happened. That something being a significant reduction in mal- and under-nutrition between the generations.

Hell, not saying it’s perfect, not at all, but the direction of travel has been in the right direction. Tall poor people is a hell of a sign of that.

They use British 3 pin plugs.

Important travel information

If you were to drive from Usti nad Labem to Tegel airport you just get on the motorway and stay there. It does help if you join it going north.

At some point you’ll insist that you’ve missed it. Bugger, and just how bloody big is Berlin anyway?

It’s at exactly that point on the road that the Germans start putting up the little signs saying “This Way to Tegel”.

Clever people the Huns.

Oop North

This is not, however, a complete answer. We cannot leave the North of England with a 19th-century economy of whippet flanges and barm cake production purely because it’s more lucrative to upgrade southern commuter lines. And IPPR North are quite correct that at a more basic level, it is supply-side reform that we need.

Fake News Scandal!

One of Britain’s most successful orchestras is moving to Belgium amid fears that its musicians may be among the victims of a post-Brexit crackdown on immigration.

The European Union Baroque Orchestra has been based in Oxfordshire since 1985, but will give its last UK concert in its current form at St John’s Smith Square, London, on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp.