How polite are we then?

A baby could become the first person without a legal mother if a transgender man wins a historic court battle.

Lawyers representing the parent told a judge that he had been biologically able to get pregnant and give birth but had legally become a man when the child was born.

The man wants to be identified as the child’s “father” or “parent” on a birth certificate, however a birth registrar told the man the law requires people who give birth to children to be registered as mothers.

I had a quick – and incomplete – think through this. And couldn’t come up with any reason why it is important that the state, or just the public register, records “mother” rather than parent.

Lots of tradition, but not really a current reason.


BTW, anyone who gives birth is a woman. But still can’t think of why “mother” must appear on the document.


The government is now running so small a deficit that it is hardly creating enough money to meet the demand for new money to match inflation.


The reason to create more money is – as Milton Friedman pointed out, not that Ritchie would ever use anything from that source – that a growing economy requires more money. It ain’t inflation, it’s GDP.

Which economics is this then?

And I agree: that might be necessary if Scotland did, as the archly neoliberal thinks appropriate, fix its currency against sterling. Of course in that case Scotland would have no choice but spend all its earnings trying to maintain parity with the pound, crushing economic growth in the process.

But if Scotland had its own currency and let it float, as it would have to, Scotland could concentrate on delivering full employment instead.

Entirely true, an independent Scotland with its own currency could print as much as it likes in order to stimulate the economy. There might be the odd side effect or two of course:

Jimmy says:
June 7 2018 at 11:45 am
Correct me if I’m wrong Richard, but if Scotland had a free floating currency, but a huge budget deficit, would that currency likely lose value quickly?

And if the currency starts losing it’s value quickly that will make us Scots poorer, as inflation goes up and our imports cost more.

Richard Murphy says:
June 7 2018 at 12:32 pm
Do you know it will have a huge budget deficit?


A trade deficit is a threat: but is a budget deficit really a cause when the reality is that these need never be funded with foreign currency borrowing?

In other words I do not agree with your hypothesises

A currency in greater supply does not fall in value. That’s just so neoliberal to insist that it does.


Well, it’s an interesting idea

Hatherley’s theory, which this book not so much tests as pummels furiously for signs of weakness, is that for all its evident problems, belonging to Europe means – or meant – committing to an idea that everyday life can be made better for the vast majority of people with planning, humility and a good measure of collective provision. Europe, he reckons at the outset, reminds him of fast, comprehensive public transport, generous and affordable rented housing and public spaces that you want to spend hours in rather than hurry through.

It’s also bollocks. There’s no need to be ruled from Brussels to have those things.

In fact Brussels has entirely scrotum all to do with any of them. Thus staying in the EU is irrelevant to whether we have them or not. Apparently Canada is a nice enough social democracy having those things. It’s also not in the EU. QED.

Nihilist punks not all that bright

Then in April 1988, Bertin and some band members – mostly drug addicts, and several infected with the HIV virus – mounted a major armed robbery with the aim of spending the cash before they died.

They successfully pulled off the heist, stealing 12 million francs (almost €2 million) from a Brinks deposit in Toulouse, western France. No-one was injured in the robbery.

In jeans and a grey shirt, Bertin told the Toulouse court that the heist had taken two years to prepare in order to avoid violence. Despite their anarchist ways, the court was told that the band carried out a “quasi-military” operation to such an extent that police first through they were dealing with hardened gangsters.

However, the group then gave the game away somewhat by ringing the local newspaper to boast of their feat.



It was Paul Krugman who said that productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it’s pretty much everything. Yes, we all know, he’s a very irritating parti pris columnist at the New York Times. He’s also a Nobel Laureate economist whose expertise is trade. On this point he’s right.

Tariffs are a bad idea because they negate the very function of trade itself, protecting us from the competition that makes us richer.

It’s the failure of logic….

But I also say other things too.

Thank heaven for regulation: the driver made a mistake but they were driving at less than the speed limit.

Therefore the regulation is irrelevant, isn’t it, as they were already driving at less than that regulated speed.

And you say thanks for the NHS.

Well, no. For accident victims were helped off the road before we had an NHS. Accident victims are aided in places which don’t have an NHS. You know, everywhere else in the world? Around my way the ambulances (and the firemen) are volunteers. Seems to work just fine. What is meant is thanks we’ve got a health care system, an emergency response system. But that we’ve got the NHS as those doesn’t mean the NHS is the only way to organise those.

And other public services.

Ditto. There are other ways to organise services to the public.

And you note why it is that we live in a community.

And note that it matters.

Indeed we do and it does. Which is why other places do manage to organise such things communally without the use of the State’s power to command and insist.

And that all pay their part in it by paying tax so we can all enjoy the benefit of living in that society which can function because we do.

If we do it communally but not through the State then it’s possible to do it without using tax, isn’t it?

Because, yes I know tax does not pay for public services, but without tax to control the inflation that their supply would otherwise create, much of this would not be possible.

Tax is not necessary to do any of the above things. As plenty of places around the world show by doing them but not using tax to do so.

Now, back to work.

Perhaps, at least we can hope, to work on the idea that just because Britain does something in a particular manner it is not necessary to use that particular manner to do that thing?

Which worries you more here?

Judge Owens said the woman was a qualified nurse, but had an ‘extremely low range’ of intellectual inability.

She said an independent social worker had prepared a report after observing mother and son.

‘The independent social worker highlighted some of the concerns around [the woman’s] ability to meet the needs of [the boy],’ said the judge in her ruling.

‘These include … not feeding [the boy] in an appropriate position, not changing [his] nappy appropriately, and placing [his] nappy changing mat very close to a metal table leg when [he] was moving around on the mat.’

Judge Owens said the social worker watched the woman, ‘spend about an hour holding [the boy] who was sitting in the Bob The Builder car’.

The social worker had told how the woman ‘maintained limited eye contact and communication’ and said the Bob The Builder toy car was ‘inappropriate’ for his age because there was ‘a potential risk of [the boy] falling if [the woman] lost control of him’.

To qualify as a nurse a student usually takes a degree course for which they generally need an A Level in biology or another science.

Courses are made up of work placements, lectures, exams and practical tests.

So, what worries?

That the state decides to take children from dim bulbs? Or that dim bulbs can and do qualify as nurses?

But all men are rapists!

The charity “sex for aid” scandal has been overblown, former International Development secretary Clare Short has said.

Ms Short said that the “hysterical response” to the coverage was “as though everyone working in development was morally disgusting, and everyone was sexually abusing everyone was way exaggerated and disproportionate”.

The – correct – statement than some men are, too many, is brushed away by he insistence that it’s all men who are dangerous to all women. That, if not actively, all men are at least potential rapists and society must be entirely changed.

When this is applied to one of their own they don’t like it, do they? It’s almost as if the corporal was right, they don’t like it up ’em.

Quite, quite, stunning – if only Ritchie knew that he was following Friedman

And that the government has no money of its own when by a stroke of a key it can however much it needs to deliver all the economic activity the economy is capable of sustaining.

We have known that for more than a century. And still we suffer from the myths. It’s time they were laid to rest.

Milton Friedman:

In 1948, in “A Monetary and Fiscal Framework for Economic Stability,”
he proposed that the government run a countercyclical budget policy with
monetization of deficits and demonetization of surpluses with budget balance
over the cycle.

Yes, they are talking about the same thing.


The latest enviro project

Pioneering ‘liquid air’ project can help store excess electricity
Scheme in north-west England could aid grids as wind and solar power grows

OK, sounds interesting. Use of peak ‘leccie to liquefy and compress air, releasing it at peak demand times to drive a turbine. Worth trying, why not?

Brett admitted the liquid air process is less efficient than storing electricity in batteries

Ah, that’s why not, because it’s a crap method.

No, really, he’s a bloody professor!

But neoliberalism and austerity have downsides. One is that, as Andy notes, people don’t have enough to spend. And, second, they don’t have enough to save. The deregulation of pensions was exacerbating this. The sole reason for enforcing new pension contribution payments in the UK was, in my opinion, to defeat this trend for the gain of capital markets, again in my opinion. Pension provision has nothing to do with it.

Real disposable household income for the UK is rising still, as it has been – absent the occasional blip to be sure – since forever.

Dear God and this man is a professor

So far, so good then: they recognise that almost all economics has got banking wrong and they realise the way the world really is. But then they ask this:

In which circumstances do the money-creation and loanable-funds approaches yield the same outcomes? In our paper, we establish a simple benchmark result. In the absence of uncertainty and thus of any bank default, both processes yield the same allocation. Hence, in such cases, using the loanable-funds model as a shortcut does not imply any loss of generality.

So, having recognised that economics has got banking wrong these two authors then expend considerable effort in trying to prove that they can ignore what they know to be right and can instead persist in using a model that they know to be wrong. What is more, they claim to have shown that this is possible, because what else can the word ‘establish’ mean? All they asked their fellow economists believe is that there is a world in which there is no uncertainty and that banks cannot, as a result, ever default. Or to put it another way, they say ‘let’s just assume that 2008 did not happen and carry on as we did before’.

No, that’s not what they said. Rather, they said that which model of banking we’re going to use does not change allocation. Jeez, someone who is unable to grasp that sort of qualification of a statement really shouldn’t be an academic, should they?

There are those who would like to suggest that Howard Reed was wrong to say that economics needs reconstruction. You do, however, only need to see a paper like this, which is designed solely to maintain the economic status quo based upon an absurd set of assumptions to support the claimed existence of a market that cannot, and does not, exist in reality, to see why that reconstruction is essential. We can no longer live with this sort of crap. Or to put it another way, we can no longer live with this sort of completely rubbish approximation to the truth.

I’d need to be rather more secure in my own academic credentials before I made statements like that.

Really quite stunning

…and the top 20% of the country earn 15 times more than the bottom 20%, before tax and benefits, and about four times after that readjustment.

The complaint being that that’s not enough tax and redistribution.

And ain’t this great?

There were also critics – dismissed by Wilkinson and Pickett as “ideological” – who questioned either the validity of their statistics or the conclusions they drew from them. What struck me, reading the book, was that if the homicide rate was a major sign of inequality then it was noticeable that since 1980, the year that inequality really started to grow in the US after 50 years of flatlining, murders also began to fall. There is now a lower murder rate in America than there was in 1950. What accounted for that apparent anomaly?

“It means there must be other things involved,” says Wilkinson confidently. “But we can say that if those same changes, whatever they are, had happened without the increase in inequality, homicides would have fallen even more.”

That’s religion. We didn’t sacrifice the virgin, the Moon was still disgorged by the Eclipse Dragon, but God decided to do it that way to test your faith.

In any case, he maintains that it’s the general consistency of the data showing the relationship between inequality and mental health, rather than the anomalies, that is most notable.

Snigger. Facts that disprove my theory are just anomalies of no import. That’s not science, is it?

Yet leaving aside whether it’s desirable, there is no such thing as complete equality, and attempts to bring it about have inevitably led to the worst kinds of repression. Still, that’s not an argument for unconstrained inequality. Where, though, to start on narrowing the distance between rich and poor? If they could impose one piece of legislation tomorrow what would it be?

“I would want companies to have to put some of their profits each year into an employee-controlled trust which would then have voting rights on the board,” says Wilkinson.

“I’d go for a Finland-style educational system, completely comprehensive,” says Pickett.

Sigh. Before tax and benefits inequality is higher in Finland than it is in the UK. Comprehensive schooling doesn’t do it therefore.

This is going to cause ructions, isn’t it?

Schools with 20 per cent or more of pupils from poor backgrounds see lower attainment for all children, a global study has found.

Research by Lancaster University found that attainment for all pupils in a UK school falls if as few as one in five students are classed as disadvantaged.

The study, which compared educational attainment across nine countries, concluded that pupils in the UK are more affected by the social background they come from than any other factor.

Researchers said the figures showed that the “tipping point” at which a school became a “sink school” which holds its pupils back was based on “quite a low proportion of disadvantaged students going to that school”.

“As soon as you’ve got a lot of disadvantaged students in a school, that is going to cause a drop-off in the performance of a randomly picked student from that schools,” said Geraint Johnes, a professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, and co-author of the study, published in the European Journal of Operational Research.

Letting the chavs in degrades outcomes for everyone.

What’s really going to be amusing is watching them sorting out what the party line should be on this? Do we insist upon chavs in every school so all are equal? I’m sure someone will use that argument. But what is going to emerge as that party line interpretation of this research?

Nope, he’s still not getting it, is he?

Money has no value of its own, and it never has. Both physical cash and ancient and modern intangible forms of money (to cover all forms of ledger based monetary creation – which are in essence identical however the record has been maintained) get their value from recording debt. A currency achieves that by being issued into existence by a government that accepts it back in settlement of legally due tax obligations.

It’s the last sentence which is wrong.

A currency might achieve value through government action. But it is not necessary for there to be the government bit for money to achieve value. There have indeed been private currencies around. Sometimes accorded greater value than the government backed ones too.

The Senior Lecturer is making one of his usual mistakes, taking something that can, does but might happen to be a necessary thing that must happen. It is neither true that money only gains value from government issuance or acceptance (that’s “legal tender”, not “money”) nor is it necessarily true that government issuance and acceptance creates value – you could pay your taxes in $Z for example.

This is fun too:

….no country where two currencies are in widespread common usage can ever be subject to effective macroeconomic management in my opinion.

This from the man who insists that monetary policy not longer has any value and that only fiscal policy works?

There is no currency that exists independently of the fact that a sovereign state will accept it in settlement of tax owing. The looser the connection, the weaker the currency, by and large. It is literally this fact that gives money its value in use: nothing else does because nothing else requires that it be used in exchange in a location.

It’s simply not a true statement.

This is the correct attitude to most politicians, not just Italian ones

But the other response is qualunquismo (“common man-ism”). The term was coined in the immediate postwar era, but it reemerged as a form of furious, coarse populism in the early 1990s when Umberto Bossi shouted from the podium that “the Northern League has a hard-on”. He wanted to screw the patrician establishment. One of the shoutiest slogans of the Five Star Movement (M5S) a few years ago was simply “fuck off”.