Interesting argument here

On Tuesday, Donald J. Trump said he wanted Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act right away and replace it with a new plan “very shortly thereafter.” But before they abandon all the work that has gone into the health care law since 2010, President-elect Trump and Republicans in Congress owe Americans a detailed explanation of how they plan to replace it. They should not repeal the law until they have submitted their replacement proposal for analysis by nonpartisan authorities like the Congressional Budget Office and the Tax Policy Center to determine how it will affect health insurance coverage, state and federal finances and individual tax burdens.

Vague promises are not enough when we are considering enormous changes in this country’s $3 trillion medical economy.

Vague promises aren’t enough, just as they weren’t when we had to pass the law to find out what’s in it?

Integrate or no citizenship

A left-wing Dutch vegan who campaigned against cowbells in the Swiss village where she lives has had a request for a Swiss passport thrown out after annoying the locals.
Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland at the age of eight, is a fluent speaker of Swiss German and has children who are Swiss nationals.
And she wanted a Swiss passport herself, but was refused after locals who were consulted about her request said they were ‘fed up’ of her challenging Swiss traditions by campaigning against the use of cow bells.

The campaign against cow bells by the 42-year-old vegan and animal-rights activist has made her unpopular in the Alpine confederation.

Sensible people the Swiss.

Seems entirely fair if I’m honest about it

Disturbing moment a bull MOUNTS a stricken female bullfighter after knocking her to the ground in the middle of a fight
As the fighter goads the bull with her cape he suddenly charges at her
She falls to the ground and he instantly climbs on top of her and starts thrusting
The crowd shriek in horror as two others drag the bull away and help her up

So you’re trying to kill me are you? You can’t complain about a little bit of rape before you do then, can you?

Fun currency

The scudo (plural scudi) is the official currency of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and was the currency of Malta during the rule of the Order over Malta, which ended in 1798. It is subdivided into 12 tarì, each of 20 grani with 6 piccioli to the grano. It is pegged to the euro (at a rate of 1 scudo : €0.24)

So there’s 17,280 piccioli to the scudo. Or, each piccioli is worth 0.0000013889 of a euro.

Useful then.

Well Ritchie makes the papers

In a second major policy u-turn the Labour leader announced his support for a “maximum earnings” limit on Tuesday morning only to abandon the policy just hours after proposing it.

He backtracked on the plans just hours later after they were dismissed by his own former economic adviser as a “lunatic idea” and “completely unworkable”.

That peerage ain’t getting any closer though.

The Czechs do value their free speech

Just as they should of course. Just walking back from getting lunch (Kung Pao since you ask) And there was a demo going on. Perhaps a dozen people chanting something half heartedly in the snow as they walked through the middle of town.

One cop car in front of them, two behind plus a paddy wagon. Plus a couple of armed cops walking in front and behind them. The demonstrators outnumbered the cops, just.

This wasn’t to make sure that they didn’t break off to go beat up the Jews, Germans, Gypsies, Socialists, whoever the hell it was they were complaining about. Rather, the cops were there to ensure they could use their right to peaceful free speech uninterrupted.

I supposed when you were denied free speech for 51 years you become rather interested in making sure that it is a right that an be exercised.

Erm, hello?

Free speech has limits. You aren’t allowed to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre because someone’s probably going to get hurt. Your right to say what you like is trumped by your responsibility to stop me being trampled to death by a stampede of panicked theatre-goers. Death threats; rape threats; bomb threats; online abuse that drives someone to suicide – these are all things that free speech doesn’t cover – and which aren’t appropriate to defend in its name.

Erm, those things are indeed covered by free speech. Or at least should be. They might all be very bad things, they might even fall foul of other laws, but they are indeed things that people should be free to say–even if they then suffer the punishment of those other laws.

Yes, yes, we know this

Putting together official figures and the Bank of England’s own calculations, it looked at regional GDP per head from the capital up to Scotland. And it showed that only two regions of the total 12 were actually richer than they were before the credit crunch. Those two regions were London and the south-east. Nearly everywhere else was poorer than in 2007 – sometimes, as in Northern Ireland, a lot poorer.

It’s also true that the UK has one of the greatest (second largest I think) differences in regional GDP in the EU. That’s because we’ve got London, which is a global city, part of the global economy and rich because of it, then we’ve got the rest which is pretty much a mid level European economy and all rather Meh.

However, there’s another way to look at the same figures. If you map GDP per capita across those regions, then public sector as a percentage of GDP by region, you’ll see that the poorer areas have more public spending.

That is, government makes you poor.

Perhaps we should send for some of these? Perhaps a supermarket might like to try?

Tunisian farmers have warned that thousands of tonnes of oranges might have to be destroyed if more buyers cannot be found for the country’s bumper harvest.

According to Mohamed Ali Jandoubi, who heads the Groupement Interprofessionel des Fruits (GIF), an association of citrus fruit growers, farmers have harvested 550,000 tonnes of oranges so far this year.

“Over the past five years we reached a ceiling of 400,000 tonnes. This year we’ve harvested 550,000 tonnes. It’s huge,” said Jandoubi.

The specific varietal they grow is the Maltese blood orange:

It is, however, very tender and rag-free (like a Shamouti), extremely juicy and virtually seedless. The Tunisian Maltaise has outstanding flavour which is regarded by many, including myself, as being the finest quality of any non-navel orange; in France it is spoken of as the ‘Queen of Oranges’. It is very sweet but with adequate acidity and has a particularly delicate flavour which, when combined with it tenderness, seedlessness and high juice content, forms the near ideal desert fruit.

Apparently good and going cheap…..

The truth about the British Midlands

Residents of Wolverhampton claim they have had close to 50 sexual partners in their lives making it the most promiscuous city in the UK, a survey found.
The average person in the West Midlands city, which lies 17 miles from Birmingham and has a population of just over 250,000, claims to have had a staggering 48 lovers.

Difficult to find a decent date up there, got to keep looking…..

A bit of proper economics

Gravity modelling is Newtonian physics adapted for economic forecasting. Just as the attraction between two heavenly bodies is directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them, so the volume of trade and the amount of foreign direct investment between two countries depends on how big and how geographically close they are.

Using this approach, the Treasury says there would be a 43% loss of trade with the EU were the UK to revert to WTO rules, and because almost half the UK’s trade is with the EU this would result in a 24% loss in total trade. The assumption is that there has been a 76% increase in UK trade as a result of membership of the EU and that all of these gains would be lost. There would be no gains in trade with non-EU countries to compensate for the loss.

The gravity model is the standard trade model. And I don’t think it’s right. As in an email I’ve just sent:

Small thought about the gravity model of trade.

Historically geographic closeness might have made sense as a measure. At some time that is. But if we cast further back not so much. Say, just to invent an example, trade over the Pennines was at one time much smaller than trade over the Irish Sea. Ship and river transport was much more important than road (there were no roads).

Or coal from Newcastle to London by ship but near nothing from Newcastle to Carlisle.

The gravity model should thus be tweaked to measure economic geography, which methods of transport are in use? Or, how close is somewhere in travel days, not miles? Travel cost perhaps not miles.

At which point much more makes sense. The container network will move 30 tonnes of anything anywhere for under $5,000 these days. Geographic proximity, what that gravity model assumes, is rather less important.

In fact, transport costs between Birmingham and Barcelona, Birmingham and Birmingham AL and Birmingham and Brisbane are not notably different these days.

Gravity as measured by trade costs rather than geography would make much, much, more sense.

There’s a great deal of truth here

Almost a decade later, the Queen might be tempted to lob another grenade at the economics fraternity: why did you get it wrong again about Brexit?

In fairness, the economics profession had its Cassandras in the run-up to the financial crisis and not all economists thought a vote to leave on 23 June meant instant Armageddon. Even so, it is a valid question. How can it be that the Bank of England, the Treasury, the IMF, the OECD, not to mention the vast majority of academic economists, all predicted so confidently and yet so wrongly that the UK economy would plunge straight into a stonking great recession after a Brexit vote?

On both occasions, economists have been guilty of groupthink. On both occasions they pretend to have forecasting powers that don’t really exist. As the economist Paul Ormerod points out, in the short term it is nigh-on impossible to sort out genuine information from noise.

But is everyone going to learn the right lesson from this?

If we cannot forecast what is about to happen then how in fuck can we plan the economy?

Well, quite, at this macro level we simply cannot, can we, because we simply do not know what is about to happen nor can we accurately model the effects of whatever we might do about it.

So much for the Curajus State then, eh?

And, of course, that kills off absolutely everyone further left who wants a properly planned economy, doesn’t it?

Isn’t this lovely

That last point dovetails with the perception of insincerity. There is a problem with selection, a sense that politics is a career for insiders, people heavily invested in the status quo, who see their job as protecting it from the demands of the people. In 2012 a team of Italian physicists, economists and political scientists modelled a parliament in which some members had been chosen at random, like juries, and found the resultant system to be both more efficient and better at pursuing broad social welfare – as well as more diverse and thus more representative.

Party discipline perverts constructive action, while monolithic structures alienate voters with their tribalism and internecine wrangling. To choose all MPs at random would be to disconnect voters entirely from the process I prefer a significant element of deliberated choice, achieved through open primaries either within or across parties, in which voters rather than a party machine choose a candidate, based on open debate. The idea is gaining ground with Crowdpac, which, although the brainchild of Steve Hilton (whom I did not expect to namecheck in any utopian vision of anything), has a progressive pioneer in its chief international officer, Paul Hilder, co-founder of 38 Degrees and Open Democracy.

Ok, so add a bit of sortition to the system. More representative that way, results in a better system.

Well, could be, sure. Next line:

Once candidates are in place, progressives need to build an alliance,

I want to change the system because my peeps will dominate the new one. Yes, very democratic that one.