Don’t think much of this solution, no

Julie Bindel argues convincingly that legalising prostitution is not the best way to prevent women and girls from abuse and exploitation by pimps (The case against legalising prostitution, 11 October). However, history has demonstrated that abolition does not prevent this either. The solution may be to set up state-run brothels throughout the UK.

The management could ensure that all the sex workers were over 18 and consenting; sex workers could receive help with any alcohol, drug or other problems; and counselling and advice in areas such as jobs, benefits and housing could be offered to those who wished to move away from sex work. They would be working in a supervised environment, to greatly increase safety, and any violent users could be banned and, of course, arrested and prosecuted.

It’s not actually necessary for an organisation to be state run for Plod to do his job. In fact, given that it’s already true that prostitution itself is legal in the UK sex workers do indeed call in Plod at times.

But then think of state run – rather than state licensed – brothels. The plethora of anti-ageism, anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-fat shaming, anti-lookism that will descend… say nothing of the state setting of prices.

Jamie Oliver and the effects of a sugar tax

Jamie Oliver’s 10p tax on sugary drinks sold in his Italian restaurants has resulted in a significant drop in sales, a study has found.

The Jamie’s Italian chain introduced the sugary drinks tax to set an example as part of a campaign to persuade the government to take action. In June 2015, Oliver announced that every drink containing added sugar would cost 10p extra and that the money would help pay for food education and water fountains in schools.

A study of the effects of the levy, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, has found that sales of sugar-sweetened drinks such as colas and lemonades fell by 11% in the first 12 weeks. At the end of six months, sales were 9.3% lower than they had been before the levy was introduced.


Jamie Oliver is to close six of his Italian restaurants after tough trading and the “pressures and unknowns” following the Brexit vote.

Oliver intends to close Jamie’s Italian restaurants in Aberdeen, Exeter, Cheltenham, Richmond, Tunbridge Wells and Ludgate Hill, near London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, by the end of the first quarter of the year.

It doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t damn matter

Workers in the constituency of shadow chancellor John McDonnell are at the highest risk of seeing their jobs automated in the looming workplace revolution that will affect at least one in five employees in all parliamentary seats, according to new research.

The thinktank Future Advocacy – which specialises in looking at the big 21st century policy changes – said at least one-fifth of jobs in all 650 constituencies were at high risk of being automated, rising to almost 40% in McDonnell’s west London seat of Hayes and Harlington.


Of the 92,150 employees in Hayes and Harlington in 2015, 36,170 (39.3%) were at high risk of having their jobs automated by the early 2030s.

Aha! 15 years in the future.

Jobs churn is 10% per annum for destroyed and recreated jobs, another 10% for quits and hires. There’s at least some technological movement in near all of these changes.

We expect somewhere between 150% of all jobs and 300% to change, technologically, over this same period. Just as has been happening these past 250 years.

It just doesn’t matter. It happens tomorrow then we’ve a late 20s (for the UK) early 30s (for the US) type problem. Over 15 years? Pah!

A fun example of why this economic planning is so damn hard

Palladium, a silvery metal used in catalytic converters for petrol cars, has become one of the star commodities of the year, hitting $1,000 an ounce for the first time since 2001.

The metal, mined primarily in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Russia, has risen 48pc this year, making it the best performing precious metal.

Palladium has added $70 an ounce in the last week alone, and rose 2pc in Monday morning trade in London to break the $1,000 mark.

Palladium’s strong run is linked to surging sales of petrol cars globally, in part because consumers are turning their backs on diesel vehicles.

A slew of negative publicity around diesel pollution, combined with wavering support from governments that had previously encouraged motorists to buy diesel, and the emissions data scandal that engulfed Volkswagen, has resulted in the fuel falling out of favour.

It’s not entirely cut and dried but Pt tends to be used in diesel catalysts, Pd in petrol. So, if the new car fleet is now to swing, in Europe at least, from diesel to petrol, which version of the wise and omniscient planner is going to delve down enough layers in the supply chain to tell the miners to adjust? Crack on with really optimising that extraction process for the Pd not the Pt (you do tend to be getting both from the same mineral flow)?

And another level, out into the scrap recycling chain. Catalysts are indeed collected and processed for their scrap. We want a change in prices at the collection end, to make sure that more attention is paid to those formerly less valuable petrol ones. The refiners of the catalyst material also need to be optimising their process for Pd not Pt recovery (the catalysts are processed together, for there are many mixed types as well). And from memory, although I’d not want to swear to it, the scrap feed back into the industry is somewhere between large and a majority of supply.

So let us imagine that planner, some Level III in the bowels of the Ministry of Metals. Then compare with markets that stimulate the lust for the gilt and pelf of profits, that near immediate, by comparison at least, dissemination of that information out through the economy.

Even to the silicon chip makers. Certain types will use Pd, Pt and even at times Nb to do something well beyond my ken. Each solve the problem but with varying success, the choice dependent upon two things, whether the problem really, really, needs to be solved perfectly or whether changing prices make any one of the three good enough. Without the price mechanism how does that information get to the chip designers and specifiers, that we need more Pd over here, not in chips?

Planning’s hard which is why we let markets take the strain.

This is nothing

A Florida politician hoping to be elected to Congress in next year’s election has claimed that she was abducted by aliens.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, 59, a Republican former member of Miami’s city council, said that she was taken by extra-terrestrials when she was seven.

Given what some in Congress already believe this would make the place saner. And it’s true, there’re a lot of nutters in the country who believe this very thing and they too deserve representation.

I’m from the government and I’m here to help

Will be the third to befall this unfortunate woman:

A woman survived the carnage of the Las Vegas shooting to then suffer the further trauma of seeing her home burn down with most of her possessions a week later in the California wildfires.

As to the statistical likelihood – of course, we now know that it is 1. But even a priori it’s not that far fetched.

Country music festival out West. Will draw in fans from the surrounding hundreds of miles, more, Vegas has many flights in and out. – it was a big festival. Country music is, unsurprisingly, more popular in more rural areas. Richer rural areas are more likely to have people who can afford to fly off to festivals. Woman from rich rural area goes to festival… is indeed coincidence but it’s not a totally weird one.

You know, not like a lottery winner also meeting a decent Labour MP or something.

The $1.2 million fajita heist

What a lovely crime:

Former Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department employee Gilberto Escaramillo missed work one day in August for a medical appointment, the same day a delivery driver called the kitchen about having 800 pounds of fajitas to drop off, the paper said.

A woman informed the driver that the juvenile department didn’t serve the Tex-Mex food – but the driver said he’d been delivering it for nine years, Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz told the Herald.

“When Mr. Escaramilla reports to work the next day, he is confronted with the discussion and he admits he had been stealing fajitas for nine years,” Saenz said.

Escaramilla was fired that month and arrested after investigators obtained a search warrant and found packages of the Tex-Mex food in his refrigerator, Saenz explained.

They also checked invoices and determined he would intercept county-funded food deliveries and deliver them to his own customers, according to the newspaper.

He was determined to have stolen $1,251,578 of fajitas, the report added. Escaramilla was arrested last week on a felony theft charge.

Quite how you push that through the county billing and payment system I’m not sure but fun all the same.

Well, yes Ritchie

That explanation is, he suggests, to be found in the work of the Nobel prizewinning Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal. Lakey’s argument is that Myrdal encouraged all these states to invest in the individual person as the primary resource for delivering economic growth. This idea, and the actions that result from it, is, he believes, the pillar of the Nordic economic model. At its core this idea, he observes, rejects the classical view of work – that it is a struggle to win the means of existence – and puts in its place a positive framework of incentives for economic participation.

The book explores this hypothesis in numerous ways, but at its heart a number of things stand out that, at a time when the economies of so many countries are so badly failing those who live in them, must be worthy of serious study.

The first is conceptual. As a result of these states having largely rejected the core assumptions of classical economics, profit is seen as a consequence of work and not as its goal. Banking is seen as a service and not as the focus of economic growth. Education is viewed as vital to personal growth, which just also happens to be the perfect countercyclical investment that secures long-term prosperity. And underpinning all this is an expectation that each person will work to contribute to the overall well-being of the society of which they are part: this is a perception of work as a participatory activity.

The result appears to be a Keynesian, social democratic nirvana where education, healthcare and pensions are free, the social safety net is still strong and cooperatives supply 40 per cent of housing in Norway.

Could actually be something a little different.

They’re all in the top 25 for the Index of Economic Freedom. They’re all in the top 30 of the Fraser economic freedom measurement. They’re all in the top 15 of the World Bank’s ease of doing business list. In fact, there’s a serious argument that leaving aside the tax and spend part they’re all significantly more free market than either the UK or US.

Another way to put this is that they’ve not rejected anything about classical economics at all. Quite the opposite. Let the market rip, tax it to provide some buffers against the effects. This is somewhere between neoliberalism and the Third Way that is.

Of course, you’re never going to get things right if you cannot analyse why certain places work, are you?

As ever, progressives entirely miss the point

David Laws, Consultant Anaesthetist, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 7TP

Professor Charles S. Adams, Department of Physics, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE

The unquestioned assertion that a highly developed currency-issuing nation cannot afford high quality healthcare [1] is based upon a set of inter-related and almost universally-held false assumptions:
Money is in limited supply (as there is no ‘magic money tree’).
Taxes fund government spending.
Private banks lend out pre-existing savings.
NHS spending is a burden on the economy rather than a boost to the economy.

Excellent, a physicist and an anaesthetist decide to tell us about economics and money.

So, they’ve grasped what Modern Monetary Theory is saying about money. OK. We may or may not have our issues with that but let’s just accept their points for the moment.

They’ve still missed the damn point. Economics isn’t about the allocation of money – although there is most certainly that interesting subsection, monetary economics. Economics is about the allocation of scarce resources. And as they point out, money in the sense of fiat money isn’t a scarce resource. Yes, quite obviously we can just make more – with interesting effects no doubt. But that still doesn’t solve our problem, because we still face scarce resources.

There are only so many people in the country, there’s only so much labour. We’ve some limited number of buildings, the resources to build more, labour, land, cement, they’re all scarce.

Having more pieces of paper with which we price those resources doesn’t change the fact that the resources are scarce. Which means that if you want more resources to be applied to health care then there are other things we are not doing as a result of that resource allocation. Nothing you can say about money changes this, absolutely nothing.

We’re not worried about the allocation of money, we’re worried about the allocation of resources. Thus the insistence that we’ve no shortage of money to allocate doesn’t solve the problem.

Well, no, this isn’t new

This gleefully liberal approach (in fact, simply boring and tasteless) is echoed in sexual behaviour. As far as we can pick out trends, they point to a nonchalance about sex that a few years ago would have been shocking. One such trend is “pigging”, a game that involves men sleeping with the most unattractive woman they can find before texting her later to say she’s a pig.

Used to be called a grimmy run.

The best example of which is the quite possibly apocryphal bod at Dartmouth who went on one, met a bird and etc. After which she said – you’re at Dartmouth, aren’t you? And on a grimmy run? Yep. Me too and I just won.

Yes, this is very rare

A mother who falsely accused a hero police officer of rape after a one night stand has been jailed for 27 months.
Samantha Murray-Evans, 44, told the ‘wicked lie’ in revenge at being rejected by PC Paul Morgan after they met on the dating website Plenty of Fish.

So rare that we should never think of it for it prevents victims from coming forward.

I think we know this, don’t we?

The north-south divide has been the butt of jokes in Britain for years, but research has shown the Watford Gap, which separates the country, was in fact established centuries ago when the Vikings invaded Britain.

According to the archaeologist Max Adams, who made the discovery while researching his new book, the Northamptonshire-Warwickshire boundary known as the Watford Gap is a geographic and cultural reality that can be traced back to the Viking age.

I think it would be very difficult to argue that this is a new discovery, wouldn’t it?

The Observer lies to us

The IMF’s analysis does something to redress the balance, making two important points. First, it says that tax systems should have become more progressive in recent years in order to help offset growing inequality, but have actually become less so.

Second, it finds no evidence for the argument that attempts to make the rich pay more tax would lead to lower growth. There is nothing especially surprising about either of the IMF’s conclusions: in fact, the real surprise is that it has taken so long for the penny to drop.

That isn’t what the IMF said at all. Rather, that those with less than averagely progressive tax systems could probably have more progressive tax systems without great damage. Also, that those with low end top tax rates could probably have higher.

The UK is currently neat exactly average on both counts. Thus it is not true that the IMF has said that Britain could or should have higher tax rates or more progressivity.

They’re lying.

This is also casuistry:

With a nod to the work of the French economist Thomas Piketty, the fiscal monitor also says that countries should consider wealth taxes for the rich, to be levied on land and property.

Land and property taxes are not the same thing as wealth taxes. Don’t, ever, pretend that they are.

Nonsense Jacob, nonsense

Saying he would receive far more abuse if he were female, he added: “This is something we should take really seriously. The abuse of women online for sharing their views is a disgrace.”

Saying the large internet companies like Twitter and Facebook must be held accountable, and brought under the same publishing laws as the UK press, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It is a real digrace of modern society and will discourage women policians from going into it if they are treated the way Jess is.

“It is deeply outrageous.”

The abuse, sure. But the idea that platforms should be publishers, no way. That’s a truly vile idea, like making BT responsible for what is said down a phone line, Royal Mail for the contents of a letter.

Well, no, worse

The EU must recognise the forces that drove Brexit and reform accordingly, the billionaire frontrunner to become the next Czech prime minister says.

Andrej Babiš, leader of the “anti-establishment” ANO party, told The Daily Telegraph that the EU is chasing the wrong priorities as it eyes deeper integration.

“I’m not a Eurosceptic,” the Czech Republic’s second richest man said during a campaign stop in Nachod – a small town on the Polish border, ahead of elections on Oct 20-21.

“Europe is a great project,” stressed Mr Babiš in an interview following a 10-hour stint of handshakes and book signings. “But European politicians should seriously ask why the UK is leaving. They are dealing with the wrong issues in pursuing further integration.”

Pragmatic but unpredictable, Mr Babiš is often compared to Donald Trump due to his wealth, populist agenda, and Teflon-like ability to brush off financial scandals and coarse outbursts.

Babis seems to know what he wants, more than just to be the top guy that is. Makes him much more worrying. A proper looting of the State is possible….

GBS said this to Mrs Worthington too

Singer Courtney Love warned young actresses about Harvey Weinstein in 2005, according to a video that emerged on Saturday.

The frontwoman of Hole was asked at the Pamela Anderson Comedy Central Roast if she has any advice for girls trying to break into Hollywood, TMZ reported as it published the footage.

“I’ll get libeled if I say it,” the punk singer-songwriter said.

“If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go.”

Don’t let your daughter go on the stage…..

Writing for Kindle

Some time back it was suggested that people should use Open Office (and I think it was the open office file type as well) because Word didn’t translate well into Kindle style files.

Now I see that Amazon says just upload Word into Kindle Create and she’ll be right.

Umm, any advice?

Well, yes, this probably is true

Going down with all these people and things is Hollywood itself. There’s simply no denying that the atmosphere in Hollywood is toxic for women. In an anonymously-written Guardian article, an actress details the mistreatment, objectification and vulnerability she experienced working in Los Angeles. She would meet with directors and producers, but when she rejected their sexual advances, she would never hear from them again.

“Harvey Weinstein’s alleged behaviour was not unique to him,” she wrote. “It is absolutely just the accepted way of things.” She went on to say that even though she told her manager, “no one thought it was a big deal.”
This is the harsh reality for women working in the movie industry. Men can get away with what they want if women’s careers are on the line. They know who has the advantage.

There’s a very small supply of truly gifted actors. There’s a very large supply of talented enough, pretty enough, actors. The supply of the first isn’t large enough to fill all the slots, the supply of the second vastly larger than. Those who control the bottleneck therefore take advantage.

Who wouldn’t? No, not in the sense of who wouldn’t take advantage but who wouldn’t think that some goodly proportion of them would?

And note that this applies to all actors of whatever gender and sexuality. The preponderance of it is going to be hetero men hitting on women simply because that’s how humans work, the vast majority are hetero and it does tend to be the men controlling those bottlenecks. But it’s by no means solely a male on female predation problem at all.

I wonder

A criminal gang who hijacked a supermarket in Malmö, southern Sweden, proceeded to run the shop for more than a day before police stepped in.
The gang, a group of men aged 21 to 28, entered the shop in central Malmö and threw out the staff working there.
They tricked shoppers that all was normal by telling them the till system had broken down, and that payments had to be made in cash or via a smartphone app.

Following a campaign of intimidation of the actual owners.

So we know the following. That it was an independent store, perhaps of the Spar buying cooperative type but not part of an actual chain. We also know that it took place in Malmo.

What ethnicity were the gang?