Charging For Visas

The basic principle here seems sound enough:

Foreigners coming to Britain are to face a new "immigrant tax" under Government plans to try to make them help pay for the schools and hospitals they use, ministers are to announce.

Why not charge people who want to come here? However:

Sources indicate that the additional levy could be set at 10 per cent of the visa fee – an additional £20 for the usual £200 visa granted to those wishing to stay in Britain longer than six months.

That\’s not actually what they\’re doing. The amount is so inconsequential, almost certain to be swallowed up in the costs of administrating the scheme, that it\’s simply a political gesture, look, see, we\’re doing something about all these appalling foreigners. Dog whistle stuff.

Oh Dear

Good grief, are students nowadays really like this?

On Saturday I stood at Warwick University\’s union bar. I had been speaking at a rather excellent student conference and the organisers had invited me to join the students for the evening. Large numbers of the 400 students present were standing without anything to drink, unable to afford the highly-taxed lagers that were on sale. As a result, students stood in straight lines listening quietly to the live band. No one was smoking, which of course would have been illegal.

George Today

Hmm, I seem to be making long comments at CiF today. Sort of taking it to the moonbats rather than just preaching to the converted here perhaps.

"I can accept that a unit of measurement that allows us to compare the human costs of different spending decisions is a useful tool."

Good, because that\’s the only way it can be done. NICE looks at the cost of drugs by valuing QUALY (quality of life adjusted years) and says that if the use of a treatment gives a year of good quality life for less than £50 k or so then the NHS will pay for it. If it costs more than that then they won\’t (although there are exceptions) as Polly told us recently.
The rail system says that spending upon safety matters should go ahead is one life per year is saved per £1.4 million spent. More than that and we don\’t spend on the safety.
Local councils (I think this is true at least, these numbers are from memory) change road layouts if the cost is less than £100,000 per life saved per year.

There are, as you continually point out George, limited resources in the world (your mistake is in thinking they are fixed over time: they are not, but at any moment they are) and thus decisions must be made about what use to apply them to.
Claiming that human life is invalauable is all very noble but it\’s extremely childish. Should we spend a £ billion to cure one person of cancer (that is, in fact, the sort of sum we do spend in certain pollution reducing regulations)? Or would that £ billion be better spent eradicating malaria in a few countries? Which contributes more to human welfare?
You might argue that we should spend £2 billion: but pretty soon we do come up against the constraint of everything we have and thus need to make decisions and prioritise.
And yes, just as we have to do this with the NHS, with safety spending upon roads, upon railways, we have to do this with climate change.

It isn\’t, you should note, about profits: it\’s about the social benefit of emitting carbon as against the social cost of emitting carbon (or methane, NOX etc). This is exactly the sort of calculation we have to make if we are to even conceptually arrive at a rational decision. What is the cost of a Bangladeshi farmer losing his fields to floods in 2080? What is the cost of Bangladesh either developing to American living standards (as one of the models underlying the IPCC report assumes) or not doing so (as another model does)? What is the cost to us in lowered living standards of reducing carbon emissions?

Now what you can do is argue about the values placed upon all of these things: that\’s how we get the differences that we do in the social cost of carbon. Nordhaus seems to think, in one paper at least, that it\’s $2.50 a tonne CO2-e. Stern came out with $85 per tonne. If you want to say that human life is more valuable than Stern does, fine, argue for a higher social cost of emissions. That\’s a valid and logical thing to do (even if most will disagree with you, there\’s nothing conceptually wrong with the logic).

But to insist that no price can be put upon human life is insane. We do it all the time, we have to do it all the time, for, sadly, we do indeed have limited resources at any one time.



To Neil Boorman:

And when the time came to pass that water out the other end, there were plenty of public toilets to choose from. Today, I must buy a bottle of water for £1 and, later on, plead with the manager of a coffee shop or pub to let me use the toilet.

Seems the prostate problems have kicked in rather younger than is usual.

Polly Today


US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn

I know Polly doesn\’t do finance but really….here it is in full context:

The UK is still at the top of the G7 developed countries for growth, and employment is still rising, with interest rates low and falling. Meanwhile world oil prices have tripled, US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn, and in Germany not one bank but three have had to be taken over by state banks after hitting the rocks.

Wht she means is that the acknowledged losses, the ones that banks have owned up to, are $100 billion. And even that figure is wrong (too low). Sub-Prime is well over a $ trillion. Sigh.

So Labour needs to attract deeper loyalty, better reasons why people should support it –

Anyone got any good ideas? I\’m completely out I\’m afraid.

More Long Hours Culture

Professorial twit over at CiF:

Ever got home on a Friday night and felt so knackered after a week\’s work that all you wanted to do was stay in bed for the whole weekend? Or that, with the freedom of the weekend, almost anything was possible but that by early Sunday afternoon, the weekend is over, as thoughts turn to Monday? What about feeling all of the above, week-in, week-out?

Or ever felt that, in order to get ready to go on holiday, you had to work harder to clear your desk of work? Or that going away on holiday had an even heavier price to pay – coming back to all the work that built up for you when you were away? Or that to avoid this, you took work away with you?

All these are just some examples of the way that workers experience the daily grind of work under capitalism, where the most significant part of their waking hours is spent at work.

My response in the comments:

There\’s only one problem with this article. It doesn\’t define "work" properly.
There are two forms of work. That which is done for wages, outside the home. And that done inside the home for no wages. Both are work. (Try telling any random feminist that it is not work to run a home.)
What has been happening over recent decades (for a century or more in fact) is that paid working hours for men have been declining, paid working hours for women rising. But unpaid working hours for men have also been falling and unpaid working hours for women falling faster. Both of these falls are largely to do with technology, washing machines, freezers, cars that need less maintenance etc. The net effect has been that leisure hours (ie, total hours not spent working) have been rising for both men and women.

Now if we try to do a cross-country comparison of working hours we need to take account of both the paid working hours and the unpaid in the home. For example, one study I\’ve seen shows that American women do more paid working hours than German. But Germans do more unpaid working hours in the home than American. The net effect is that German women work half an hour longer than Americans per week.
(I think I\’m remembering the results of that paper correctly.)

If you don\’t define work properly then you\’ll not be able to say anything interesting about the problem: as in the article above. Why doesn\’t the Professor come back when he\’s got some cross country comparisons of total working hours and then we\’ll talk about it?

Wonder what the responses to that will be like?

Let\’s Nationalise Pharma Research

So says Dean Baker. Yup, great idea. Best response so far:


Have the politicians hire contractors to do the research. 20 billion is a vast amount of money. What percent of the contractors will be relatives of or major contributors to politicians. The government has a wonderful track record in dealing with contractors. This is an ideal task for Halliburton.

The Long Hours Culture

The survey found the sectors with the most severe long-hours culture were transport, where 52% of managers averaged at least two hours of unpaid overtime a day, and IT, at 45%. Long hours were least prevalent in central and local government, where only 27% of managers reported working two hours or more overtime.

That\’s a real surprise, isn\’t it?

What it does show is that those in the public sector are actually doing less work than those in the private: so they should be paid less.


Seven of Michael Martin\’s predecessors as Speakers of the House met a grisly end, courtesy of an executioner. We live in different times,….

Sadly so: but could we not just hang them all?

Obama Plagiarism Row

Methinks Hillary is struggling a little:

At the Democratic Party of Wisconsin dinner on Saturday, Mr Obama was defending himself against repeated accusations by Mrs Clinton that he spouts empty rhetoric.

Arguing that words do have the power to inspire, he recited three famous American historical phrases. "I have a dream – just words? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal – just words? We have nothing to fear but fear itself – just words? Just speeches?" he said.

Mr Patrick used the same rhetorical device two years ago with two of the same questions, but in a different order.

It\’s a damn good rhetorical device that. Nicking somone else\’s good ideas is to be admired in a politician really. If the worst you can say about your opponent is that he\’s capable of spotting said good ideas then, well, I do think you\’re struggling a little.

Crock Exposure

The cost of the Northern Rock crisis has reached the equivalent of £3,500 for every taxpayer as experts warned that the nationalisation rescue of the bank was bound to fail.

Well, yes, makes a nice scare story. That\’s take the entire £110 billion at risk and divide by the number of taxpayers.

But that statement is in fact assuming that every single one of the Crock mortgages stops paying on them, there\’s no value at all in any of the properties they\’re secured on and…..well, that isn\’t the real number then, is it?

Quite what should be done next I\’m not sure. They supposedly have a decent mortgage origination department (stop sniggering at the back there) which might be worth something to someone else. Flog that off and then run it down?

But I admit I haven\’t actually thought about it very much. Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Praise Where Praise is Due

I slag off the public services something rotten so it\’s only fair to remark when they\’ve done something efficiently.

Bath (actually BANES) have been most efficient in getting me back onto the electoral register. Well done them (it might even be a Wendy Loretz responsible, so well done her).

I\’ve also joined UKIP.

So the next thing is to get the application to be a candidate in. SW Region, as that\’s where I was born, grew up and is still my UK address.

Those who might want to join to vote for me (or against me of course) can do so here.

Those who don\’t want to do that quite yet will have to wait until those who do have, I find out whether I will actually be a candidate and then you *might* be able to vote for or against.


On American Politics


What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa\’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates.

Also here.

The thought that winning the popular vote might not get you a majority of the delegates. Haven\’t we been here before? Maybe they should get an expert in to change the party rules or something.

What\’s Al Gore been doing the last 8 years?

Ashley Seager: Moron

Please, please, can we get this right?

A properly designed FIT rewards early adaptors, helps kick-start a new industry and creates jobs. The German PV industry added 10,000 jobs last year.

"Creating jobs" is a cost of such schemes, not a benefit. Jebus, why are all the writers on this subject such morons? Have they not learned the very basics yet?

More Bottled Water Nonsense

The environment minister, Phil Woolas, tells the programme it is also a moral issue that bottled water is being sent to Britain when many countries have no access to safe drinking water.

Some of the most expensive bottled mineral water comes from Fiji – yet one in three Fijians does not have access to safe tap water.

Excellent, so they sell stuff that comes bubbling up out of the ground for free to rich idiots on the other side of the world and then build a mains water system with the money. Pretty neat idea, hunh?