Rapists Spared Jail!

I wonder if this is the reason:

Officials could give no clear explanation for the rise in rapists spared jail, but one theory is that an increase in the number of cases brought to court has led to more convictions for non-violent rapes, particularly of men having sex with girls under the age of 16.

Someone would actually have to go through every single case to work it out: somthing which no one is going to bother to do. No doubt therefore we\’ll get screams fo a change in the law without ever actually knowing what is going on.

Laffer Curve Effects

The strong version of the Laffer Curve, that all tax cuts always pay for themselves from increased revenue (over reasonable time scales) is incorrect. The weak version, that some do, is correct. Similarly, the strong version that all tax rises increase revenue is incorrect: the weak version that some tax rate rises will increase revenues and some will not is correct. Technically which is which depends upon the elasticity of this, that and the other. The more mobile the thing being taxed is (whether people or capital) the more likely it is that a rise in tax rates could actually bring about a fall in revenues collected.

We might be about to see this happen with the taxation of the non-doms.

Alistair Darling\’s tax crackdown on Britain\’s non-domiciled residents will end up costing the Treasury more than twice the sum the Chancellor expects it to raise, a new study has calculated……But the study warned that the non-dom plan will cost the Government £2.1 billion in lost tax receipts due to "capital flight", in which wealthy individuals leave the UK and take their money with them. Even the Treasury has admitted that 3,000 of the wealthiest non-doms could leave the UK as a result of the tax plans.

Other than the cry of "make the rich bastards pay" there\’s not really much to commend this plan if that is true. Now I agree, this isn\’t exactly the most impartial of all groups telling us this but what if it is actually true?

According to tax experts at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, non-doms pay £7.16 billion in tax annually. The society has calculated that the departure of the richest would cost Mr Darling more than £2.1 billion.

Isn\’t that interesting. Those supposedly non-taxed non doms actually provide well over 1% of all revenues collected annually? And if we insit they pay more, we\’ll actually get less to spend on schoolsn\’ospitals.

Might be a good idea not to go ahead with this plan then, eh?

Explaining a Little More of the Gender Pay Gap

As you all know, I\’m pretty certain that we don\’t really have a gender pay gap in the UK. That is, we don\’t have one cause by direct discrimination against women, or what is known as taste discrimination.

I\’m also absolutely certain that there is indeed a difference between the average wages earned by women and those earned by men (or if you want to be picky, those paid to each). The difference is explained by a mixture of things: choices in jobs, choices in hours put in, there\’s most certainly a huge effect from childbirth and rearing and so on.

One more to add to the list:

When it comes to short periods of sick leave, women take almost 50% more time than men. This was found in a study conducted in Finland, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine on February 5, 2008. However, when long term sick leave is evaluated, neither women nor men are dominant.

Researchers Laaksonen, Martikainen, Rahkonen, and Lahelma assessed periods of sick leave in a population of 7000 municipal workers in Helsinki, Finland between 2002 and 2005. Aged between 40 and 60 years, they were surveyed regarding their working lives and general health.

For short periods of self-certified sick leave, women were 46% more likely than men to call in. When certified by a doctor, they were also a third more likely to take a short term sick leave. However, diagnosed illnesses explained only about one third of the differences in self certified and one half of doctor certified sick leave.

But diagnosed illness explained only about a third of the difference in spells of self certified sick leave and about half of that certified by a doctor. The authors suggest in explanation that women may be better at recognizing problems and going to the doctor for treatment.

For periods longer than two weeks, the gender differences in sick leave weakened. By the time a leave is at a period of 60 days or more, men and women show few differences. This indicates that the divide between males and female sick leave is largely in short term periods of leave rather than long term.

Women commonly reported physical health problems, physical work demands, and work fatigue as reasons for leave. The psychological conditions of working and family related factors appeared to affect both genders equally, as did physical problems.

Erm, Excuse Me?

MINISTERS want to block the phone numbers of prostitutes who advertise their services in newspapers and telephone booths in an attempt to stifle the illegal sex trade.

Police forces would identify suspected prostitutes to the telephone companies, which would be required to cut off their numbers.

Have we actually had the government taken over by raving lunatics?

A telephone company is a private business. A legal one I might add. And prostitution is also a legal business.

How in fuck can ministers assume to intervene in a private contract between two entirely legal businesses in this manner?

Markets Schmarkets

Quite mindboggling:

Under pressure like that, nobody can blame supermarkets for pushing prices down and squeezing suppliers. But is the relentless pressure on price really helpful, even to consumers? Not entirely, critics say, because after increasing efficiency and economies of scale, the pressure of bargain hunters leads to the exploitation of producers…

Yes! That\’s what we want! The economy is (or should at least) be run for the benefit of the consumer. So let\’s exploit those producers all we can!

Even better though:

Molly Scott Cato is an economist and the author of the brilliantly provocative book Market, Schmarket. She argues that the economic system elevates profit to the exclusion of all else, including quality.

Really? Jeez, I bet it\’s just cider they\’re putting into those bottles of Cristal then. Bastards.

Neoclassical economics, says Scott Cato, would suggest that there is a market opportunity here for somebody who produced decent underwear: “I would certainly pay a premium price. But instead all suppliers of these items are competing on price, outsourcing production and using only the cheapest materials, so that knickers are see-through and fall apart within months.

“This is the way the best profits are made and the best knickers are no longer of any concern.”

Mercifully some persist in producing high-quality products. One such company is Howies. Browsing idly for underpants on its website last week I was astounded to find a pair selling for £35.

Right, so, neo-classical economics means that high quality high priced stuff simply won\’t be produced. At which point, in fact in the next sentence, our correspondent finds a set of wooly knickers (wool?!?) at £35.

So that\’s that theory dealt with then.

God there are idiots about.



Not  Too Bright then:

When Tom de Castella applied to become an EU observer safeguarding fair elections — and our taxes — in the Third World, he didn’t expect it to turn into a junket.

What else did he expect an EU mission to be?

Female Logic

I hate to blithely dismiss a whole swathe of scientific findings but I don’t believe a word of this. Fat gene, my foot

Gosh, what is it, what stunning secret knowledge makes India Knight capable of simply dismissing peer reviewed science?

Having written a diet book explaining how I lost my five stone, I also have a diet website that acts as a support tool.

Ah, she\’s written a diet book. Can\’t have science harming the royalty stream now, can we?



Well Done Gordon

Gordon Brown lays out his plans to deal with the challenges of globalisation.

To build a world-class teaching workforce, we will shortly announce our proposals for a new masters qualification

Wrong! As teachers themselves seem to think, postgraduate education courses are one of the problems, not one of the solutions.

And from Tim Worstall, unusually, something about education I think most teachers would agree with: we knew the \’academic\’ component of our post-grads in education was a waste of time, taught as we were by a bunch of people who could hack it neither as teachers nor academics, peddling out-dated theories that I would decline to describe as \’liberal\’*. We all knew the only thing worthwhile in the whole damn year was the actual teaching practice.

Abolish education degres entirely and simply make teacher training 6 weeks of teaching practice. You might want to say that you can only teach in a secondary school if you\’ve got a degree in something or other, you might not (would one of the new cookery teachers need a degree? Or would someone who has run a kitchen for 20 years but now getting a little creaky around the knees be a better hire?), but the year or more of theoretical education about education needs to go.

And the Justification For This Is?

All new cars are to be fitted with automatic daytime headlights within four years.

The Government previously opposed the idea on the grounds that using lights in the daytime would increase fuel consumption and emissions, but conceded it was unable to oppose European legislation.

Are there any supporters of the EU out there? Care to explain to me what is the justification for an EU wide law on such a matter? Surely this is a classic case of the principle of subsidiarity being ignored?

Well, yes….

Michelle Obama: Barack\’s powerful weapon

OK, so the headline refers to his wife being a great political asset. But you do think the wording could have been a little different, eh? It can be read (and as my inner 11 year old boy did read it at first) it\’s the man\’s wife talking about his, well, you know the playground rumours about….

There\’s no polite way to allude to it, is there, which is rather why the headline might have been better phrased.

Sharia Law

I have to admit that this whole furure over the recognition of sharia law or not in the UK has me rather bemused. Giggling even.

Senior religious leaders attack multiculturalism and sharia law today, warning that they are "disastrous", socially divisive and are destroying Britain\’s culture and values.

It\’s not just the oft used comparison with aspects of Orthodox Jewish law and the Bith Den (or is it Beth Din, I can never remember?).

There was, some years ago, a case where a certain Mrs. Cohen, who was a convert to Judaism, found out that in the eyes of that religion her (long, and fruitful) marriage ws not in fact a marriage as Mr. Cohen, as a part of the tribe of Cohanim (I think I\’m getting that word correct) was not allowed to marry a convert, only one born into the religion. This of course had no effect whatsoever on whether Mrs. Cohen was married or not in English law, nor whether the Cohenettes were legitimate children or not. They had married in a ceremony legal under English law and that was that.

Lord Carey and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O\’Connor rebut the call of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for Islamic law to be recognised in Britain.

Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said: "His acceptance of some Muslim laws within British law would be disastrous for the nation. He has overstated the case for accommodating Islamic legal codes.

"His conclusion that Britain will eventually have to concede some place in law for aspects of sharia is a view I cannot share.

"There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights."

The giggles rather come from the former Archbishop of Canterbury saying such a thing. Has he never heard of Canon Law? That is, a different and discrete system of laws within our society that applies to one group and one group only: the Church of England and its priests (and sometimes its adherents)?

Our Cormac also piles in: yet while a Catholic might legally divorce the Church will not recognise that, while a Catholic may remarry after such a divorce, the Church will not recognise that. We already have a splintered legal system.

And not just for religous matters either. To sign up as a doctor puts you voluntarily under the legal system of the General Medical Council, as a solicitor under the Law Society. Many contracts insist upon arbitration clauses.

To add another system of law which people might vountarily sign up to, namely sharia law, doesn\’t seem to me to be a breach of anything at all. Indeed, such private legal systems seem to be rather the system.

With one proviso of course: that such systems are kept in their place. A subservient one. That the Catholic Church can ignore the divorce law is fine: but not that the law insist that Catholics cannot avail themselves of it. That an arbitration clause in a contract be enforced is fine, as long as there can be appeal to the courts as well. That the religious definition of a marriage be defined by the religious courts? Not a problem: as long as those requesting the legal protections of the law of the land marry in a legal ceremony. (Worth noting here that there is no difference in law between a marriage that takes place in a church, a synagogue or a registry office. The same legal process has taken place, whatever the mummery that is dressed around it. That bit where they go off to "sign the registry": that\’s the legal process, however many hymns are sung around it.)

The idea of sharia law in England simply isn\’t a problem. As long as it is, as with these other private legal systems, subservient to the main legal system itself.

I haven\’t read Rowan Williams original remarks (the man sends me to sleep, sorry) but while he is indeed a bearded leftie, he\’s also far too clever a man to have been suggesting anything else. At least I hope so.

Is Martin Kettle a Cretin?


I have heard some risible arguments in my time, but this is one of the most pathetic of all. The idea that those who make their homes in this country should pay towards the public services from which they and their investments benefit is not exactly bolshevism.

Indeed, it isn\’t bolshevism. Indeed, it is a terribly normal thing to do. Which is why we do do it.

Non-doms pay exactly the same tax on their earnings in the UK as any other resident of the UK does. The only difference between a non-dom and a dom is that non-doms do not pay UK tax on the money they earn out of the UK and keep out of the UK. That\’s it.

Apparently Martin Kettle doesn\’t know this. Or does and deems it necessary not to reveal this.



Palley\’s Economics

This really is quite wondrous. Thomas Palley, in explaining where we\’ve all been wrong for the past 27 years, manages to avoid mentioning two very important things.

The differences between the new and old cycle are starkly revealed in attitudes toward the trade deficit. Previously, trade deficits were viewed as a serious problem, being a leakage of demand that undermined employment and output. Since 1980, trade deficits have been dismissed as the outcome of free-market choices.

This is rather missing the elephant. Pre-1980 (actually, mid-70s) we had a system of fixed exchange rates. The Bretton Woods system. Under such a system trade deficits are indeed an important matter. Have a large one and eventually you\’ll find that the currency comes under pressure and you end up having to devalue. Something which the system was at pains to dissuade you from doing.

Since then, we\’ve had (more or less) floating exchange rates. In such a system trade deficits do not matter so much because the currency can (and will, with lags and overshooting to be sure) move around to take account of deficits or surpluses.

Now whether one system or the other is better (I think freely floating exchange rates are a good thing but that isn\’t relevant here) is something that can be discussed. But to mention the different importance attatched to deficits without mentioning the different approach to exchange rates is absurd: for the different approach to exchange rates is what makes the deficits unimportant.

Manufacturing has lost 1.8m jobs. Prior to 1980, manufacturing employment increased during every expansion and always exceeded the previous peak level. Between 1980 and 2000, manufacturing employment continued to grow in expansions, but each time it failed to recover the previous peak. This time, manufacturing employment has actually fallen during the expansion, something unprecedented in American history.

Indeed, unprecedented it is. But it\’s not something unique to the US economy. The whole world is losing manufacturing jobs (no, really, it is). We\’re undergoing a decades long change, similar to the one that led from a predominantly agricultural employment scenario to a manufacturing one. Just as happened a century or so ago, when over a few decades we went from 60% or more of the workforce in agriculture to 60% of it being in manufacturing (to the extent that in the US and UK we now have less than 2% of the workforce in agriculture) we are now seeing a switch from manufacturing to services.

The reason for this switch is rising productivity in manufacturing. We\’re getting ever more efficient at making things. Thus we need to use less labour to do so. And that\’s something which is happening globally, not something unique to the US economy. Complaining about this is exactly the same as complaining that we no longer need 20 men to mow the hay meadow.

Palley\’s thus like one of the Generals: always ready to fight the last war.