Solving Oxfam’s problem

Oxfam has told us all that 8 people have as much wealth as the bottom 50% of humanity and this is an outrage, Something Must Be Done. OK, so, let us think about what must be done then. The most obvious point being that we should reverse the outrage. Take all the money off the rich people and give it to the poor people. At which point that 50% of humanity would each get $100 or so.

This is not actually a solution to anything at all, is it? Thus the original problem being complained of is not a problem, is not an outrage and does not require that something be done.

What motivates Oxfam?

At which point we have to ask why Oxfam is perpetrating this drivel upon the public sphere. And I’m afraid that the only answer I can come up with is a very cynical one. Drawn from the insights of that arch-cynic (although he was also right) C. Northcote Parkinson. No bureaucracy is ever ready to go into that long dark night, the aim and purpose of a bureaucracy is simply for the bureaucracy to perpetuate. And anti-poverty campaigners in my native UK back in the 1950s and 60s realised that they had a problem. Absolute poverty was essentially beaten in Britain in the 1930s. Thus they couldn’t really campaign against something that didn’t exist any more. So, some moved to campaigning about the absolute poverty that persisted in other parts of the world (and Oxfam, among others, did some very good work here) and others set about redefining poverty to mean relative poverty. Or as we can also call it, inequality. For while we did manage to prove Jesus wrong, the poor would not always be with us, inequality most certainly would be.

And the current prediction is that we’ll pretty much wipe out global absolute poverty by 2030. One of the few global targets that does in fact look achievable too. At which point, what is a bureaucracy campaigning against poverty, one perhaps called Oxfam, to do? Who will provide that indoor relief for the dimmer scions of the establishment that is a campaigning NGO when there is no poverty to campaign against?

Quite, change the problem from poverty to inequality and the grandchildren of Jocelyn and Jocasta will still have someone to fund their gap yah.

On that dribbling idiocy from Oxfam

Sam Walton’s heirs have some $100 billion between them, vast piles of cash. But that is a one off sum; they’ve got that wealth the once and the once only. Out here, we consumers are getting over $250 billion a year of value from that same creation, Walmart. Over the past couple of decades we’ve had $5 trillion and they’ve had $100 billion. Surely the bargain of the century?

I’m not talking about whether the rich deserve their spoils. We are not talking rights or morality here, just pure pragmatism. The reason we’re cool with the Walmart heirs having $100 billion is because we’ve had $5 trillion out of the arrangement. And we’d like the next person who has an idea to make us $5 trillion richer to think that their kids, or even they themselves, might be allowed to keep some fraction of it.

Poverty exists and obviously we’d prefer that it didn’t. That’s why we need more rich people not fewer: because we need someone to create value for the rest of us to consume.

Seriously, who cares if they get three per cent of what we do?

Timmy elsewhere

To claim that anyone’s Brexit strategy is in crisis is to misunderstand what a strategy is. It is the goal that you have decided to reach.

Britain’s strategy in World War II was the unconditional surrender of Germany – everything else was tactics. Hulk’s strategy is “Smash!”. Britain’s strategy with respect to Brexit is: “Thank you, it’s been great, we’re leaving. Maybe we can do lunch some day?” Everything else is simply tactics.

Timmy’s far Asian tour

Would appear to be on. Business class flight, reasonable per diem, not exactly looking forward to 12-18 hours on a plane each way but, you know, per diem.

Hmm. Vaccinations, eh? And health insurance. Plus, looking at the list of available airlines ….biman looks a little too exciting really, but anyone flown Turkish long distance? Etihad is of course just fine. Any other tips?

Only been doing short haul for the past couple of decades so which airlines to use and which to miss tips welcomed.

Sayonara to the round pound

Fiat Money Problems – Goodbye To The Round Pound And Welcome The More Difficult To Forge One

Thus the reason for this new pound is simply that there’s an arms race going on between the coin makers and the coin forgers. And it’s central to a basic problem about fiat money. As soon as the government declares that this, this thing here, is worth money then there will be people trying to make more of that thing. It is never possible to make something which is impossible to forge. But it is possible to make something difficult to fake and that’s what is being done. Perhaps difficult enough to fake that no one will ever try or more likely so difficult that it will be a couple of decades before it becomes cheap enough to try. But a world of fiat money is just always going to end up with changes in the design of that money. Just because it’s too tempting to just go and make money rather than go earn it.

The latest for Owen Jones from Venezuela

They’re losing it, no, really:

Congratulations To Bolivarian Socialism – Now For Venezuela’s Economic Conspiracy Theories

The claim is that the US is funding the deliberate withdrawal of 100 bolivar notes from the Venezuelan economy. This is what is causing the inflation.

Venezuela is suffering high and increasing inflation. The claim here is that people are deliberately reducing the money supply in order to cause chaos. Yet if people were deliberately reducing the money supply, in sufficient amounts for the wider economy to actually note it, then the inflation rate would be falling. Because that’s simply what happens when you reduce the money supply–inflation falls. It’s not just that the Bolivarian socialists don’t know how to run an economy they’re not even capable of coming up with a conspiracy theory which is consistent with reality.

So Owen, what’s it like having supported people who are clearly batshit insane?

Timmy elsewhere

At Cap X

Pre-fab flat complexes? Sure, why not? But that isn’t the solution to our housing woes, blowing up the Town and Country Planning Act (and its successors) is.

As long as there is an artificial limitation of the supply of planning permissions, British housing will remain scarce and expensive.

As so often, the solution is not for the government to do something, it’s for the government to stop doing the things it already does.

It’s possible that John Penrose could be a tad peeved with me

He’s the MP trying to get the UK to have a sovereign wealth fund. He and I were asked for 160 words each by City AM:

The only reason to have a Sovereign Wealth Fund is to keep money out of the domestic economy. Norway’s fund is there to stop the torrent of oil money from driving up the exchange rate to the point where the rest of the economy is throttled.

So a wealth fund to invest in British infrastructure is ridiculous – quite apart from the fact that we run a trade deficit and thus aren’t about to suffer from that Dutch Disease the Norwegians are avoiding.

Timmy elsewhere

At Capx:

We must congratulate the Resolution Foundation for their startling findings about agency workers. They are reaching for the smelling salts in that most maiden auntish manner because they have discovered that there may soon be as many as one million people working in that way.

I, on the other hand, think their findings are marvellous news, especially when you see who is actually taking this work.

It is the young and uneducated. One in five agency workers is under 24 and one in four has only studied to GCSE level or below. So why all the complaining?

Timmy elsewhere

At CapX:

Nick Clegg and his friends at Open Britain have decided to treat us to another report on the horrors of Brexit and of being outside the Single Market. Mr Clegg will be joined by Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry today to detail the coming disaster.

It goes without saying, of course, that their underlying report, from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, is wrong. Or perhaps it does need to be said. Yet again they are making a grossly incorrect statement:

“If the UK ends up outside of the single market and without a free trade arrangement, importers and exporters would face tariffs.”

But, let me say again: there is no requirement whatsoever, in EU, UK, WTO or Uncle Tom Cobbleigh’s rules that the UK must impose tariffs upon imports in the event of Brexit.

There’s more over there……