Ritchie’s Evidence

Two things stand out from his evidence to Parliament:

Work on this submission has been supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727145.

Yup, he’s taking money from foreigners to influence our law. Nice, eh?

Explanatory note re terms used in this submission

In this report tax evasion is defined as an act involving dishonesty that results in less tax being paid than was legally due. As example, income, gains or transactions are not declared as required by law or they are deliberately incorrectly declared so that less tax appears to be due than is actually the case.

In contrast, tax avoidance is considered to be an action believed by the taxpayer (or their accountant or lawyer) to be within the scope of tax law but which uses loopholes, allowances and reliefs in ways that the law never intended. This abuse can be within a country. So, for example, it remains unclear whether it not the habit of many contractors within the UK of forming limited companies and paying themselves by way of dividends and not salary to avoid national insurance charges that would otherwise be due on their income is exploitation of a loophole or a scheme of which the government tacitly approves although a steady range of measures to attack it from the government in recent years suggests the latter. Sometimes tax avoidance exploits differences between types of law e.g. exploiting company law to incorporate to reduce or defer a tax bill. And some is exploitation of the differences between different countries legal systems that rarely interact with each other neatly, meaning that myriad opportunities for not paying tax are available. It is these international loopholes that tech companies, for example, have exploited to reduce their effective tax rates to next to nothing whilst still adamantly claiming that they pay all the taxes that are due by them in each country in which they are operating. Technically that is true, but it is also disingenuous because they all know that the structures that they have put in place are intended to reduce those liabilities.

Precisely because the boundaries between tax evasion and tax avoidance are often hard to identify tax justice campaigners now choose to ignore the distinction between the two, suggesting it is not useful. They instead suggest that both should be called tax abuse because the motivation is similar in that both invariably ensures that tax is not paid at the right rate, by the right person, in the right place and at the right time.

I entirely ignore the legality of anything because the law doesn’t say what I think it should.

Pretty good when talking to the people who make the law, eh?

No doubt there’s more there to be found but I’m afraid I have something important to go and do. Arses don’t wipe themselves you know.

No doubt this grates terribly

The regulator hired to investigate the near-collapse of Co-op Bank will be paid £1,500 a day plus expenses, it has emerged.

Mark Zelmer, a former Bank of Canada boss, will probe what led to the Co-op Bank flirting with failure in 2013 when it uncovered a £1.5bn accounting black hole. The lender limped on before eventually being rescued by US hedge funds last year.

The investigator’s pay package was confirmed by the Bank of England today. If he works a normal five-day working week, he stands to earn almost £33,000 a month. He has been given up to a year to complete the investigation, meaning he could be paid around £400,000.

Just look at that paycheque there! That would beat teaching political economy one day a week, wouldn’t it?

But then there would be a certain problem with Ritchie getting the job. He’s the one who complained loudly about the regulator insisting that people who know nothing about banking shouldn’t, perhaps, be running the Co Op Bank, isn’t he? Even, that having unqualified incompetents in charge was an essential part of the democratic revolution necessary in the economy.

Hmm, yes.

So rare, so rare these false claims

The father of three spent six hours in custody and faced possible sex assault charges as part of the “devastating impact” of claims made by Claire Morgan.

Morgan, 35, alleged she was sexually assaulted three days after she took a five-minute fare from the driver in Bridgend, south Wales in May last year.

She lied the man had taken her to an adventure playground, grabbed her breast and put his hand down her underwear.

The victim, a treasurer at his local mosque, was the sole source of income for his family but was forced to hand over his badge during a six-week investigation, the court heard. Police spent 60 hours investigating Morgan’s allegations as well as £450 on forensics.

A judge said the man avoided charges because of “diligence” from investigators while CCTV also proved inconsistencies in her account.

After reporting the fake offences, Morgan later set up a fake Facebook profile under the name Sarah Jenkins to answer a police appeal in which she claimed she witnessed the attack. She also made an anonymous call to Crimestoppers to provide further bogus details.

We must, but must, simply believe the claimant, always, eh?

Tempus Fugit etc etc

Holly Meyer The Tennessean
Published 3:32 p.m. UTC Jun 12, 2018
DALLAS — A Georgia church was expelled from the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday over charges of racism.

Er, no, for being racist.

Still, how times change, eh? It’s taken only 80 years or so to go from compulsory to forbidden.

Well done to the LGA

If you want to have a look at the details of their new report:

The government’s right-to-buy scheme risks running out of homes unless councils are given funding to build more, a report has warned.

Research by the Local Government Association found local authorities only have enough money to replace less than one-third of the number of homes sold over the past six years.

You go here to find:

The full report by Savills, commissioned by the LGA, is available on request.

So:

Media office contact
Mike Tighe
020 7664 3333
mike.tighe@local.gov.uk

To get:

Address not found
Your message wasn’t delivered to mike.tighe@local.gov.uk because the address couldn’t be found or is unable to receive email.

And people say there’s nothing wrong with local government in the UK, eh?

This isn’t new

Senior Ukip figures including Nigel Farage have expressed disquiet at the hard-right direction chosen for the party by its leader, Gerard Batten, and his open support for the jailed anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson.

To my certain knowledge that gap in desired direction has been going on for at least a decade.

But then why wouldn’t there be differences within a political party as well as between them? A political party that contains both Sarah Wollaston and Jacob Rees Mogg has a wider gap, no?

And that’s why poetry of course

Gupta leads a group of 20 female “change agents” in Purabgaon. Each of the 360 villages in Amethi covered by the scheme has a team of 20 agents – local women trained to educate other women.

Gupta sometimes changes the lyrics of romantic folk songs to refer to iron supplements, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and breastfeeding. “They find it easier to remember what I’ve told them if they sing it,” she said.

Things are indeed easier to remember if there’s a structure to what you’re trying to recall. Songs work. So does poetry. Indeed, that’s rather the point of rhyme and rhythm in those long pieces like Homer and Beowulf. To aid the teller of the story in recalling it. The need for the two acting as a prompt to memory.

Making the song part of this education not a new thing at all, but rather the very thing which has preserved ancient, pre-literacy, culture for us.

Saying it all again

There may well be a limited number of ways to keep saying the same thing but I’ve not quite found that limit yet:

So, free trade in the G-7 is a great idea. And the benefits of trade go to the importers. So, therefore, it’s possible to gain all the benefits of that free trade even if we’re the only people in the G-7 doing it. If the U.S. is the only country that abolishes tariffs and barriers, then the U.S. is the place (more accurately, Americans are the people) benefiting from that free trade. Which means that it doesn’t matter what everyone else does. Unilateral free trade is something we can do without anyone else’s agreement and it also makes us richer. So, obviously, we should do it.

This has in fact already been tried. Friedrich Engels (Karl Marx’s buddy) noted that the Industrial Revolution hadn’t benefited the British working classes much. So much that the way in which wages didn’t rise very much for the first hundred years of that industrialization is called the “Engels Pause.” All the money went to the capitalists — the 1 percent, the landlords, the rich bastards. Then in 1846, Britain declared unilateral free trade. No tariffs, no barriers, on anything. Real wages started their rise, the working class — you, me, and Joe Sixpack today — were the people who made out like bandits from it. It’s also you, me, and Joe Sixpack that the economy ought to be run for.

The idiocy, the idiocy

This is ridiculous. The world is queueing up to give the government money at the lowest possible interest rates. Every government bond issue is over-subscribed. There is then no shortage of funds to build this hospital with much cheaper funds than those the government is seeking. It is purely dogma in that case that is preventing this hospital being built. But whilst the FT recognises the possibility that the government could fund this project directly, it does not point out that this would, very obviously, be the cheapest option available.

Nor does it point out that if things are so dire but this hospital is really needed then People’s QE could be used to fund it. People’s QE was always intended as a backstop for the time that the market failed. The market has failed here. In that case it is just time to get on and use the viable alternatives to get this hospital built. That is the message that needs to be sent to politicians. The time for fighting around with incredibly expensive market alternatives has come to an end. It is public and not private finance that has to build our infrastructure now.

The problem isn’t in gaining debt finance to finish the hospital. It’s in having an equity investor who will carry the risk of over runs.

You know, the over runs on this particular project which so wondrously contributed to Carillion’s demise? The risks of which are why People’s QE isn’t a solution. Because QE doesn’t produce that equity investor carrying the risk, does it?

Jeebus, how can a damn accountant wibble on about this without getting equity and risk?

In case you missed it….

I know precisely nothing about Banks’ business dealings, don’t even know how he made his pot. But meeting people to discuss whether to do a deal with them is how he will now be spending his business life. Actually running a business isn’t what he does any more. Trying to work out which business to do next – and more importantly, which not to – is what he does do.

We can translate this into Guardian/Observer terms if we wish. Cadwallader and her work will be managed by whoever it is that edits the Observer these days. There’s also a managing director there who manages things like print runs, distribution and so on – that’s how newspapers work, two management sets, one for content, the other for practical stuff. Up at the parent company level there’s GMG. The CEO of which doesn’t spend any time at all “managing” the newspapers. Their job (umm, used to be the bird who went off to run Easyjet I think?) is to think through which deals the group should be doing. Which radio stations/car magazines should the group buy via offshore tax havens, which should it sell and when?

At a certain level business is about what do we do next, what do we stop doing? And meeting all the chancers and grifters out there to find those few one wishes to consummate a cash relationship with.

Banks talked with Russians? That’s the job, as with Eric and Donald Jr.

Now here’s remarkable

Long piece in The Guardian about the cock ups on the new railway schedules. About which I say:

Ah, they tried to change the whole system, at once, as a central planner would, instead of a bit or organic tweaking here and there as a proper market system would.

We’re then to use the failure of that centrally planned approach, that convulse the system into the one big change, as a justification to have a centrally planned system subject to convulsive heaves into change, are we? We just can’t see the logic there ourselves.

And about which John Harris says:

To recap: new timetables were meant to be introduced as part of a big drive to improve services. But, as with Govia Thameslink in the south-east, Northern – a franchise operated by Arriva, the multinational transport giant that is a subsidiary of Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Bahn – had not trained enough drivers. At the same time, Network Rail compounded the mess by allowing electrification work to overrun. An overlooked factor in the chaos is the legacy of something that happened six years ago, when Network Rail centralised its timetabling operations in Milton Keynes, and created a system that had far too little connection with realities on the ground. Such is yet another example of one of the great ironies of recent history: that Thatcherite believers in the liberating wonders of markets have proved to be very good at creating byzantine, top-down, endlessly failing systems rather suggestive of the worst aspects of the old Soviet Union.

That we agree on the basic analysis here is fun, no? Or possibly, given that it’s us agreeing, a sign of the impending apocalypse.

If only Murphy knew some economics

He’s off on the MMT tear today and, as ever, his lack of a grounding in the basics of the subject lets him down:

So money has value because the government endows it with that quality. And then, and only then, is the supposed left-wing quality added to this whole issue, because modern monetary theory then notes that when markets do not create full employment (and they usually do not, as Keynes first pointed out 80 years ago) then the government can create its own money to just to indirectly boost economic activity (which is exactly what QE was supposed to do, but was not very good at, to put it kindly), but to do it directly by investing itself.

And modern monetary theory says that this can be done until we reach full employment. Then, and only then, will we have inflation because of money creation (although we could have it for other reasons, such as a Brexit devaluation, but that’s something quite different). Because we have not had effective full employment for a long time (bogus stats on self-employment levels do not indicate full employment really exists) we have also not had this type of inflation for a long time.

The bit he’s missing here is the definition of full employment. The way he’s put it – we only get inflation if we go above full employment – is just another way of stating the NAIRU, non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. Which is something that changes. According to the microeconomic structure of the economy.

We have, for example, in the UK economy in the past had inflation when unemployment was higher than it is today. It’s also true that other countries have inflation when unemployment is higher than our own. And places where they still have less inflation when unemployment is less than our own. That is, there’s something about the structure of the economy that changes that definition of full employment. A useful definition of full employment being when we get inflation – the same statement a Murphy’s own we’ll only get inflation at full employment.

What really provides the joy here is that if you went along to him and said, so Friedman’s NAIRU then, or maybe even, so, this Phillips Curve then, he’d not know what you were talking about. As you explained it he’d insist that it was, or they were, entirely wrong. Because. Despite their both being (NAIRU really only says that we can shift the Phillips Curve, not just move along it) exactly what he is saying. Without his having read the libraries of work on the implications of either or both.

Bleedin’ idiocy

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, is by most accounts a mild mannered sort of guy with classic West Coast liberal views. There is one thing, however, that makes him as ballistic as one of his Blue Origin space rockets – and that’s any mention of subjecting Amazon to a break-up.

He may, on the other hand, have to get used to it. On both sides of the Atlantic, the invasive market power of his business creation is the object of ever closer political and regulatory scrutiny.

Amazon is successfully bankrupting old retail models. Therefore we must break it up.

Sodding idiocy. If we’ve a new and better way of doing something then we want to have more of it. We want it to bankrupt the old and less better way because that’s how that works, that’s how we get more better. And whether it is better is defined by how much of the old way it bankrupts.

Sigh.

Why not just allow smoking in pubs?

Providing line dancing classes for the lonely and elderly can cut unnecessary admissions to A&E by a fifth, officials have said.

The Local Government Association is also calling on councils to lay on pub sessions, choirs and communal lunches in a bid to keep people out of hospital.

It is part of a drive to crack down on loneliness, which deteriorates health and ends up costing the NHS millions.

The LGA said the health service can save £6 for every £1 spent on schemes that maintain people’s social lives.

Smoking reduces the cost to the NHS. Plus, if we want to be able to have pub sessions then we need to still have pubs. Instead of closing them down by preventing people from doing as they like to do in pubs – have a tab.

Traces of meat in vegetarian products

Bit of a surprise, as there’s rarely much in the normal stuff.

Would be interesting – the results haven’t been released as far as I know – to know what the levels are. Modern testing is perhaps accurate enough to find traces of one of the workers having had a bacon buttie – I exaggerate, but not much.

And is there anyone who know this answer? What levels are allowable under the varied religious laws?

Judaism is far too practical to start to insist that 1 ppb pork in something makes in non-kosher. Yes, I know, all the different saucepans to ensure non-cross contamination and so on but still.

And there is that story about vegans/vegetarians moving from poorer countries to the UK and then suffering from anaemia and the like. Modern packaging of lentils, beans being remarkably free of the bugs and insects that had previously been nourishing them.

What are the cut offs for kosher, halal and the varied Hindu rules? Any idea?

Elsewhere, again

Is America an unequal country? It most certainly is, as every country is. The U.S. is rather more unequal than most rich countries, and quite a bit less unequal than poorer places like China and Brazil. But inequality is not poverty, whatever the current fashion is for describing it so. And that’s really all this U.N. report does manage to show, that the U.S. contains inequality. So what?

For if Alston, or the U.N., or the others who complain about it, really thought we all cared very much about inequality then they’d say they were talking about inequality, not poverty, wouldn’t they? The very fact that they obfuscate and use odd definitions shows that they know we don’t agree. Sure we’ll help the poor, indeed we do so, to the tune of that trillion dollars. That some have more than others isn’t something that worries us very much.

Robert Reich is losing his mind

Imagine that an impeachment resolution against Trump passes the House. Trump claims it’s the work of the “deep state.” Fox News’s Sean Hannity demands every honest patriot take to the streets. Rightwing social media call for war. As insurrection spreads, Trump commands the armed forces to side with the “patriots.”

Or it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down. Demonstrations and riots ensue. Trump commands the armed forces to put them down.

If these sound far-fetched, consider Trump’s torrent of lies, his admiration for foreign dictators, his off-hand jokes about being “president for life” (Xi Xinping “was able to do that,” he told admirers in March. “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day.’), and his increasing invocation of a “deep state” plot against him.

Sigh.

Nice story

Of Peter Stringfellow:

Even as he came to rely on hearing aids and cosmetic surgery to hold the advancing years at bay, he continued to date girls less than half his age. When he was in his sixties one of his girlfriends asked him to send flowers to her mother on her 40th birthday.