Elsewhere

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.

Ha, great headline

Warren Buffett’s Dealmaking Ketchup Giant Kraft Heinz Heads Abroad In The Age Of Donald Trump

So, Kraft made a bid for Unilever, so that’s what the story is about. Donald Trump these days in a headline always gets more traffic. Warren Buffett has been driving search engine traffic for as long as I’ve been on this here internet. The only wondrous buzzword that’s missing there is Apple which can’t quite be shoehorned into this story.

Nor, actually, the 100 character limit on headlines at that gig.

A masterpiece….

Hans Rosling

The essential lesson on offer being, and one without which we simply have no hope at all of deciding what to do next, that the good old days are right now. Further, that as long as we don’t mess up there is no reason why they shouldn’t keep getting better off into the future.

That is, roughly and imprecisely to be sure, with backsliding here and there, we’re on the right track with this economic development thing, with that just passed greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species.

Rosling wasn’t feted and awarded in the same manner that Paul Ehrlich, who has been wrong on every point concerning the same matter, has been but then that’s just how society seems to work. Gloom sells better than optimism.

All (all!) that Rosling did was stand up and tell us the truth about our world. A worthwhile thing to do with a life, don’t you think?

That housing paper

Likewise its insistence that, “Up-to-date plans are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications,” is little different to Nicolas Maduro insisting he knows what the correct price of rice in Caracas is.

Finally, I make the Mail! Woo Hoo!

At least one journalist thinks the claim is ‘ludicrous’ and picks apart the charitable organization’s numbers.

Using the start date Oxfam uses for calculating Gates’ wealth growth rate, 2006, when he left Microsoft, the organization notes that the computer whiz’s wealth rose 50 percent or by $25billion in 2016.
That’s a four percent rate of return, compounded, not 11 percent, says Tim Worstall, a Forbes contributor.
Using the same rate of return, and assuming Gates doesn’t do something like suddenly give away most of his fortune, and using the same start date of 2006 when Gates was worth a mere $50billion, that means in 25 years, he would be worth $133billion.

I’m so proud…..

Sigh

They’re never going to believe this but it is true all the same:

The existence of Walmart is positive sum for Americans. That’s why so many of us go shop there. The existence of imports is positive sum for Americans. That’s why so many of us buy them. And just as insisting, as some areas of the country do, that Walmart will never be allowed to sell nice cheap stuff there makes those areas poorer so too does insisting that imports will never sully our purple mountains make all the inhabitants of the fruited plains poorer.