Political discourse in the modern age

Received an interesting email this morning. From a union funded editor of a major political website. It\’s an incredible insight into the standards of current political discourse in this country.

You\’re an idiot.

Laurence Durnan
Editor, Political Scrapbook
Voted #2 left wing blog 2011-12 for Total Politics magazine

Yes laydeezn\’gennlemn, the eight year olds have taken over.

Koch v. Cato

I rather like the Cato Institute. Swap emails with a couple of the guys there. I think they do good work.

However, this.

To be honest, all I can think of is laying in stores of popcorn. It\’s going to be a hell of a show.

Left Foot Dimwits

The unelected 26 clerics in the Lords can have a major impact on the way the country is run. For instance, when there was a vote in 2006 on allowing terminally ill people the right to die, they organised and voted against the reforms.


So the Bishops insisted that terminally ill people would not in fact die? Had a right not to in fact?

Don\’t these people have editors?

Those ignorant idiots at the Tax Justice Network


And lurking in the background we have the Oxford Centre for Business (Non) Taxation with their cloud cuckoo notion that businesses shouldn\’t pay tax in the first place since they simply pass the cost on to consumers or workers (but never to shareholders, oh no!).


The Incidence of Corporate Income Tax on Wages – AEAweb

It says that 49% of the incidence is upon wages. The rest is upon shareholders.

It is customers that the corporate income tax does not get passed on to.

So, ignorant, idiots or lying? Your choice.

The cost of Neets…and total bollocks in a Work Foundation report

A Work Foundation report:

Beyond the personal costs of being NEET, each young person not in employment, education or
training bears a cost to public finances (through benefit payments, lost tax revenues, and
healthcare and criminal justice costs), and a public resource cost (due to loss of economic
productivity from un- or underemployment, lost personal income and the effects of lost
• Each 16-18 year old who is NEET has been estimated by Godfrey et al to have an
average total public finance cost to society of £52,000 (in 2002 prices) over the course
of their lifetime.9 Recently this average societal unit cost of NEETs has been updated
to £56,000 per 16-18 year old NEET. The current estimated aggregate public finance
costs of 16-18 year old NEETs range from £12bn to £32bn.10
• In 2002 the average unit resource cost of 16-18 year old NEETs was estimated at
£45,000. The 2009 estimate is much increased, to £104,000, with an aggregate
resource cost range of £22bn to £77bn. This increase is largely due to lost potential
wages, resulting from growing wage differentials, and big differences in benefits and
in-work wages between 2002 and 2009.

Now immediately someone is going to start saying, well, look, there\’s a £52,000 loss to the taxpayer for each Neet so we must create jobs for them!

And maybe we ought to, this is true. But note, this is a lifetime cost. Perhaps £2,000 a year.

So, anyone got any bright ideas about how to create a job for £2,000 a year? Quite, not all that simple, is it?

As to the rest of the report I\’m afraid that it\’s total bollocks.

The second driver has been falling youth employment rates. The employment rate for 16-17 year
olds in the UK has been falling steadily since the late 1990s – and has halved over this period to
24 per cent.19 However, the employment rate for 18-24 year olds in the UK was stable until 2004,
and has since been in decline. The recession exacerbated this trend (falling from 65 per cent in
the final quarter of 2007 to 58 per cent in the last quarter of 2009).2

What\’s important in a report is often not what they do discuss but what they don\’t. We\’ve had something of a major change in the labour market for young people since the late 1990s. The National Minimum Wage. Now, if you or I were to try and unravel why there has been a rise in youth unemployment at a time of rising legally mandated minimum wages for young people we would at least raise the point. Perhaps we\’ve the evidence to reject it as the cause of anything, perhaps we\’ve not.

But we would at least mention it, wouldn\’t we? Theory predicts that the NMW will have an impact upon employment. Maybe not much of one, but it will be there. Theory also predicts that said impact will be greatest upon the young and untrained: a theory which even those who propose and support the NMW acknowledge when they agree that there should be a lower NMW for the young and untrained.

We have a disproportionate rise in unemployment for the young and untrained: worth at least testing theory against reality to see whether theory might have something to do with reality, yes? Even if to reject it?

But no, the Work Foundation does not even mention the NMW.

No, really, not even a sniff of it in the whole report.

So it\’s bollocks, innit?

NHS and those bastards at the TPA

How dare they? How damn dare they?

Tell everyone that the NHS is not very good at preventing mortality amenable to health care?

There is no evidence for this, envy of the world it is!


2003 report in the British Medical Journal. The NHS comes 18 th out of 19 systems studied in the prevention of mortality amenable to health care.

How dare those tax dodging bastards tell the truth!

NHS Scotland:

A summary of the key findings are provided below:

  • During 2000-2004, there were 34,000 deaths in Scotland (around 6,800 per annum) categorised as amenable to health care, representing approximately 10% of all deaths annually.
  • Ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, malignant neoplasm of colon and rectum, malignant neoplasm of breast, and pneumonia accounted for the largest numbers of amenable deaths, and caused 82% of all amenable deaths in Scotland during the 5-year period.
  • Greater Glasgow NHS Board has the highest age and sex standardised amenable mortality rates for both males and females, with significantly high standardised rates also observed for Argyll and Clyde and Lanarkshire.
  • The overall standardised death rate for amenable mortality in Scotland was 123.6 per 100,000 population compared to 130.0 for the UK.

Tax dodging bastards!

Stuart Hall: who is this idiot?

Having looked him up, apparently he\’s something like the Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the Open University. And entirely ignorant to boot:

Neoliberalism is grounded in the \”free, possessive individual\”, with the state cast as tyrannical and oppressive. The welfare state, in particular, is the arch enemy of freedom. The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their private property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth. State-led \”social engineering\” must never prevail over corporate and private interests. It must not intervene in the \”natural\” mechanisms of the free market, or take as its objective the amelioration of free-market capitalism\’s propensity to create inequality.

As an analysis of neoliberalism that\’s a pretty good coq au vin recipe. That is, it has entirely fuck all to do with the subject under discussion.

All good little neoliberals, myself for example, are entirely signed up to the idea that the State must intervene at times. That markets must be regulated, that profit making not only might be but should be justly and righteously limited. Yes, even that \”social engineering\” should prevail over corporate and private interests.

Our arguments with \”social democracy\” (to give one possible name to the system which neoliberalism is fighting against) come in three flavours.

1) The areas where private interests prevail over State are much larger than social democrats declare they are. To take one trivial example  from the current news: salt in HP sauce. If a company wishes to market and consumers which to purchase and consume a sauce which is higher in salt than the State thinks is wise then the State can bugger off. Nothing to do with the State at all. On yer bike matey.

2) We do not move from \”this must be regulated\” to \”the State must regulate this\” quite so easily as the social democrats. Should the freshness, taste, ingredients and general potability of Heinz Tomato Soup be regulated? Yes, most certainly: but the interesting question is by whom? We neoliberals would note that actually, it\’s become the world\’s best selling brand of the stuff (well, I assume it is anyway) because Heinz has a reputation to maintain, a brand, and consumers do very well at regulating, through their purchase or not of such a product, the quality of such repeat purchases. Heinz gained this reputation by poisoning fewer consumers than the competition back in the early days of canning.

There are areas where consumers are not so good at such producer regulation. One time purchases with long term payoffs for example: there\’s no neoliberal out there who doesn\’t think that the pensions industry needs a goodly bit of State oversight.

3) We don\’t think that the welfare state should be abolished either. Nor that there should be no redistribution, no intervention in market outcomes or market distribution of consumption. Indeed, we\’re all usually far more radical about how to do these things than the social democrats are. It\’s us, people like Uncle Milt, Charles Murray, who argue that bugger it, just give everyone enough to live on. Go on, do it, stop buggering about with 50 p a week here, a tenner there. Just send everyone £6,000 a year or whatever and leave them alone. Negative income taxes, the EITC in hte US, tax credits in the UK, these are neoliberal ideas you must recall. So is the London Congestion Charge (no, really, Alan Walters).

However, what we do argue is that much of the time you do want to let the market rip: then do the balancing and redistribution after that. Rather than cripple the market to get to your desired goal, use the market to create the wealth to get there. Further, that subtle adjustments to markets to cure their imperfections are better than bureaucratic dictats. For example, a Pigou Tax on carbon emissions is better than 3,500 pages of rules and regulations on who may emit what, when and how.

In the end though, what you\’ve really got to remember is that us neoliberals are in fact liberals. In fact, we\’re the only people in the political arena who are consistently liberals. On the conservative side there are most certainly those who would regulate which adults you can voluntarily exchange bodily fluids with. Over on the left, socialist and green, side there are most certainly those who would regulate which adults you can voluntarily exchange economic goods with.

We\’re the only people who are arguing that who you fuck and who you trade with is no damn business of the State at all. The only people arguing that you\’re an adult, you\’re a free adult living in a free country and, well, have fun, eh?

You know, liberals arguing for liberty.

Which is why we get such stick from both left and right of course: both groups being insistent that the proles have to be told what to do by the proper, edumacated, enlightened sort of people who make up said lefts and rights.

And we liberals are out there shouting, as we have been for three centuries now, shouting that aristocracies, whether by birth, self-selection or political power, can simply fuck right off out of the lives of free adults.


The Observer says:

were obtained by non-profit-making investigations company Spinwatch,

Non-profit making?

Seems so:

Spinwatch is an independent non-profit making organisation

The choice of language there shows idiot leftism at its best.

Not making a profit is actually quite easy. General Motors managed it for years.

What they mean is \”not for profit\”, that is they don\’t seek to make profits rather than they don\’t make profits.

But this linguistic trip up is illustrative of a mindset. That if you seek to make profits then you will: capitalism is just that easy, y\’kno? Just no awareness of the fact that four out of five new organisations that attempt to make profits fail to do so.

Yes Eoin, Red Labour is now making the argument for Blue Labour

Dr. Clarke again:

In 2010, Labour actually increased its vote in raw terms among those ranked as AB on the social grade [NRS]. Labour\’s vote also held up well among those at the bottom of the social grade [DE]. The real loss for Labour actually occurred among their skilled & semi skilled workers. They lost practically all their votes in the C2 category. As you can see from the graph, Labour lost a combined 1.3 million votes in the C grade.
     So what does this mean? Well the concept of chasing middle England is surely daft when you consider that  it is C2s who are most disgruntled. I think the leakage points in a party\’s support gives a clue as to why they are losing voters. If one readily accepts that a C2 is typically more likely to embrace ordinary Labour policies, then by inference you may deduce that these types of concerns must not have been heard in the Labour party manifesto. If one by inverse logic considers that the ABs stood by Labour then perhaps you can surmise that cosying up to the filthy rich pleased this group of voters. In conclusion, if Labour wishes to increase its share of the vote, reconnecting with working class voters is a greater priority than chasing Middle England.
Now\’t wrong with the analysis.
It\’s just very strange to see this being spelt out by \”Red Labour\”. For, you see, that\’s the ground that is being staked out by Blue Labour, Maurice Glasman\’s lot.
The C1 and C2 lot, they\’re, culturally at least, a very conservative (small \”c\”) lot. Their concepts of fairness seem to extend to everyone having a fair go, not whacking an 80% slice off those who make a success of their go. Immigration\’s, well, let us say that they\’re not all entirely squeakily cleanly signed up to the idea that jobless Somali\’s on every street corner are the green and pleasant Britain that they desire. The wilder shores of feminism, race mongering and welfarism leave them entirely cold.
These are absolutely the people that Maggie won over with a bit of bash the unions, buy your council house and standing up to the Argies. Europe\’s a great place for a holiday but do we actually want to be ruled by them (yes, much of UKIP\’s Midlands and Northern vote comes from this grouping)?
As I say, nothing wrong with the psephology here: it\’s the proposals to win them back that seem a bit lacking.

Glory be, Eoin Clarke gets one right!

Difficult to believe I know but:

The graph above shows the percentage increase in the number of NEETs by region from Q2 2010 to Q2 2011. The North East of England experienced a 21% increase while the North West suffered a 28% increase. The East of England also suffered a 21% increase in NEETs. We should draw breath there. These figures in themselves require sober reflection about the state of our economy. The abolition of EMA and the tripling of tuition fees are to these young men and women hammer blows to their life chances.
But the key finding of this research is that the South East of England and the South West of England have escaped a significant rise in their NEET problem. Of course, this is to be cheered. But why the regional disparity? Should we be concerned when one part of the UK excels while another languishes? At the very least one would hope that common agreement could be secured that the NE, NW and East of England require specially tragetted assistance to combat this problem.
So, what should we do about this?
The first thing of course is to recast the argument. What we have here is proof that the price of labour is roughly market clearing in the SE and SW and well above that market clearing price in the NE, NW and E. More specifically, the price of 16-24 year old labour.
This is similar to our optimal currency area problem: call it the optimal wage area problem. So, just as with our optimal currency are solution, that is, don\’t let your currency areas become too large so that they do in fact become a problem, we can see a solution to our optimal wage area problem. Don\’t let the wage area become too large.
And we do have too large a wage area. We have national wages for must public sector workers, we have a national minimum wage. Yet we have evidence that wages are above market clearing such in some areas and at or about them in others.
The solution therefore is not to have national wages nor national minimum wages. Shrink the size of the wage areas and vary the wages to suit local conditions.
Or, in short, abolish national pay bargaining and the national minimum wage.

There\’s homelessness and homelessness

In the 120-page study, co-authored by academics at the University of York and Heriot-Watt University, Crisis highlights figures released over the summer that show councils have reported 44,160 people accepted as homeless and placed in social housing, an increase of 10% on the previous year and the first increase in almost a decade.

Last year another 189,000 people were also placed in temporary accommodation – such as small hotels and B&Bs – to prevent them from becoming homeless, an increase of 14% on the previous year.

There\’s two directly contradictory ways of reading these numbers.

1) My word, homelessness is a really serious problem, we\’d better spend lots more money on it.

2) My word, aren\’t we doing well in dealing with homelessness?

Here\’s what most would think of as true homelessness:

In London, rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness, rose by 8% last year. Strikingly, more than half of the capital\’s 3,600 rough sleepers are now not British citizens: most are migrants from eastern Europe who cannot find work and, unable to get benefits or return home, are left to fend for themselves on the streets.

That\’s not, by the way, the number sleeping rough on any one night. That\’s the annual total:

3975 people slept rough at some point in London during 2010/11, an increase of 8 per cent on the previous year\’s total of 3673 and of more than a thousand since 2005/06.

Note that I\’m using the numbers that Crisis themselves report, as with the original news piece.

So, we\’ve some 225,000 people who were at risk of becoming what we would all agree is truly homeless over the year and all of those bar some few thousand (half of whom are not citizens and thus not eligible for help) are helped by the system to avoid this true homelessness.

Yes, I\’m sure we could make this system better but perhaps the first point to be made is how well the system is in fact dealing with matters. A 1% failure rate is truly miraculous for anything government run after all.

And as anyone who has ever even looked into those rough sleeping numbers knows, absent booze, drugs and mental illness there would be hardly any of that at all.

The charity says that the government needs to reverse cuts to housing benefit and invest urgently in new housing.

No, this does not follow. What does follow is that if swathes of the population cannot afford housing then the government should be trying to make housing cheaper. Making housing cheaper does not necessarily mean spending more money on housing: it implies making housing cheaper.

Which is simple enough to do, the government could just stop doing some of the things that it is already doing. Like liberalise the planning system. The right to build on a specific plot of land is the most expensive part of a house in the south after all. Reduce that cost and you\’ll reduce the cost of housing.

The usual twattery at Left Foot Forward

People in Scotland and Wales will want to know why their chances of accessing a life extending cancer drug are so much lower than their neighbours in England.

You have noted that Wales and Scotland do not charge rich bastards for their prescriptions? Whereas English rich bastards do have to pay for their prescriptions, thus increasing the funds available to pay for cancer drugs?

No, you haven\’t noted this? The idea that resources are limited, that there are opportunity costs to spending money in one manner, those costs being that you can\’t then spend the dosh again on something else nice?

No, apparently you haven\’t. How sad.

Certainly not letting you have control of the public coffers then matey.

Eoin Clarke\’s statistics

Once again our expert in Irish feminist history has managed to, well, I\’m not quite sure how he got it wrong here but wrong he got it:

More than 40,000 people sleep on our streets every night.

Hmm. When people actually go out and count it it seems that they come up with quite different numbers.

The Government\’s official figures for June 2010, based on snapshot street counts, show that 1,768 people were sleeping rough on any given night in England [5] with the vast majority being in London. Outside London, the largest concentrations of rough sleepers in England are found in Cornwall, 65; Herefordshire, 42; Bradford, 23; Maidstone, 27 and Peterborough and Exeter, both 21.

Only out by a factor of 20.

Just how tough is it to get a Ph.D. these days?

The idiocy of Eoin Clarke

Currently, 1.7 million families are on housing waiting lists. In the meantime families survive in private rental accommodation that nets landlords profits of £31 billion per year.

Oh dearie me.

Income is not net profit, net profit is not income.

No, I don\’t know what the figures is for gross private rent paid but I think we can take a stab at it.

Private rented housing is a vital and growing part of the housing market comprising almost 14 per cent of all households, or nearly three million homes in England.

So, some 3 million properties, to reach our £31 billion we\’d need the average rent to be around £10,000 a year. Seems about right to me.

So, yes, I do feel comfortable in stating that Eoin, the cheeky wag, has just declared that gross rental income is in fact net profit to landlords.

He\’s not included any costs at all: not depreciation, not renovation, not agency fees, not even financing costs.

About par for the course really, our academic specialist in feminist history not seeming to be all that good with numbers.

By building 100,000 Co-Operative homes we argue that you could switch these families from private rental accommodation that currently costs on average £8,000 p.a. to Co-Op homes costing the dwellers half that.

Yup, that is what he\’s doing, using gross income to mean gross profit. He\’s even shown that he\’s wrong in his own numbers: the Co-Op won\’t be making a profit on this but the costs are still, to the tenants, £4,000 a year….he\’s also leaving out financing costs as his plan starts off with a grant which doesn\’t need to be financed.

This is amusing too:

In Britain we have 17 billion tonnes of coal which can be used for the Carbon Capture Storage process.

Yes, we know we\’ve got lots of coal. What we don\’t have is a CCS technology that works, making the amount of coal we have something of a redundant calculation.

The ever glorious new economics foundation

The curse of nef strikes again.

That curse being that even when they do manage to get the analysis of the problem correct (a rare enough occurence) they then veer off into entirely insane proposals for the solution.

Here they manage to get correct that the major cost of housing in this country is the piece of paper that says you can build a house on a certain plot of land. Because planning permission is artificially restricted in supply it costs a lot of money.

Excellent, well done.

So, what do they propose? Granting more planning permission? You know, taking the thumb off that supply and demand scale thingie?

No, they propose taxing the granting of planning permission and the restriction to a monopoly of social landlords the ability to gain large scale planning permission.

Loons, just loons.

For the correct response to a supply shortage really isn\’t the creation of a monopoly of supply plus taxation of supply. It\’s umm, a loosening of supply restrictions which will increase supply and thus reduce prices.

Eoin Clarke\’s latest

Full of wonders it is:

There currently exists a loophole whereby businesses can offset this year\’s profits against last year\’s losses. This should stay for SMEs as they struggle through these difficult times, but the government have craftily neglected to tell us that the banks who returned to profit this year are exempt from paying taxes due to last year\’s losses. We would close this loophole for large companies.

It\’s not a loophole you ignorant tosspot. Companies are charged tax on their cumulative profits for a very good reason. For, when you start a new business adventure, either as a stand alone company or a new project within an extant one, you make losses for the first few years as you get it up and running. So, you only start paying profit taxes once you\’ve recouped the losses you made on starting the business.

Virgin Media and other telecoms businesses make rapid profits for minimum fuss. Their quick growth model gives nothing back. Too often, they make their profits from those who cannot show restraint when building up large telephone bills. Added to this they manage to avoid paying large amounts of corporation tax due to the use of various accounting practices. In GEER, we think get rich quick companies have a duty of care to the state. For this reason a telecoms tax is a good way of recouping some ill-gotten profits for the benefit of the nation at large.

What? So if you grow the company quickly, providing more jobs to people, providing services that the consumers want, thus you should pay more tax?

This GEER thing, this new \”left Labour think tank\”: is it actually any more than Eoin and his vaseline filled tube sock?

The £41,000 Comment is Free article

Anthony Giddens was paid to promote Ghaddafi.

The broadcaster was among a number of influential people in the west recruited by the US based Monitor Group to help enhance the profile of Libya between 2006 and 2009 when Muammar Gaddafi was attempting to improve international relations.

In addition to Sir David Frost, documents released by the Monitor Group, reveal that Anthony Giddens, a former director of the London School of Economics (LSE), who was ennobled by Tony Blair, was also on the payroll.

Lord Giddens was paid £41,500 after making two visits to Tripoli during which he took part in a public discussion alongside an American academic, chaired by Sir David.

Anthony Giddens wrote this piece for Comment is Free.

Will real progress be possible only when Gadafy leaves the scene? I tend to think the opposite. If he is sincere in wanting change, as I think he is, he could play a role in muting conflict that might otherwise arise as modernisation takes hold. My ideal future for Libya in two or three decades\’ time would be a Norway of North Africa: prosperous, egalitarian and forward-looking. Not easy to achieve, but not impossible.

Hard hitting, fearless, reporting as I\’m sure you will agree.

£41,500 is a bit steep to pay for it though: the normal fee for CiF is £85.00.