Nancy MacLean seems a little overwrought

The Koch network and their allies claim they want “liberty.” They actually call themselves “the liberty movement” or sometimes “the freedom movement,” and speak in this very anodyne language about how they want to have limited government and freedom and lower taxes. For older white conservatives this language is very appealing. But what really bothered me in writing “Democracy in Chains” is that they’re not being honest. As libertarians they believe that there are only three functions for a legitimate government: To provide for the national defense, to ensure the rule of law and to maintain social order. Other than that, everything is illegitimate because other functions of government depend on taxing people — and particularly better-off people in a system with progressive taxation. For this type of libertarian thinking, taxing people to provide for programs, services and resources with which they may not agree is illegitimate coercion and therefore must stop.

In this Koch-donor dream, we are all responsible for ourselves from the cradle to the grave, unless there is a charity that happens to take an interest in us. We do not have federal laws to outlaw pollution or to prevent discrimination. Instead we trust everything to the free market and private property. This cause has pitted itself against the whole American model of 20th-century government. Regulation of food and drugs, the New Deal’s federal support for workers to organize and hold corporations accountable, the Civil Rights Movement, the women’s and the environmental movements, all of these things are illegitimate in the eyes of these people on the right.

Outside a few Ayn Rand devotees I can’t think of anyone who does actually believe that.

As the basic theory predicts

Economists tend to think that the corporate tax burden is shared between labour and capital, but even among researchers in the field there is substantial disagreement over how much of the burden is shifted to workers. This column exploits variations in local business tax rates in Germany to identify the corporate tax incidence on wages. On average, more than half of the corporate tax burden is passed onto workers, implying a reduced overall progressivity of the German tax system.

The smaller the economy relative to the world economy, the more mobile capital is, the more the burden of corporate taxation will fall upon labour.

Germany’s smaller than the US, capital is more mobile (think EU Single Market), the burden on labour is heavier than in the US.

One for Rocco

Doesn’t Ron Jeremy look a bit like Harvey Weinstein?

There will be a number of look alike actresses out there.

Hmm, thinking about it, they’ve probably already wrapped on the shooting of that one, haven’t they?

It’s an interesting calculation, isn’t it? What price fame and fortune?

As she apparently attempted to escape from Harvey Weinstein’s suite at the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel in the Nineties, the actress Ashley Judd claims she told the mogul she would not touch him until she had won an Oscar in one of his films.

It was a joke, she said, but one that referred to Weinstein’s track record for propelling actresses to stardom. Fifteen have won the best actress Oscar for their role in one of his films and many more have won nominations that helped to launch their careers.

What’s the right price for sex? Fame and fortune?

I’m sure there are sellers at that price. Actually, we know there are sellers at much lower prices.

Not really sure what there is to be done about it really. Youth and beauty are indeed a currency. People do tend to spend on what they desire.

Honeybuns, you’re just not supposed to say this

A lawyer from Sweden has claimed the majority of rape cases she deals with are being committed by people of ‘a foreign background’.
Elizabeth Massi Fritz, a legal expert from Stockholm, has now called on the government to ‘lift the lid’ on the problem.
Ms Fritz claims she tried to get hold of statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention to back up her observations, but was told those numbers are not kept.

Well, we can actually explain this

Humanity would fare just as well without its elders as it does with them, according to scientists.
The claims come as part of a study which found no obvious evolutionary need to live beyond the age of 50 in humans.
The discovery disputes the ‘grandmother hypothesis’, which suggests humans live long beyond their reproductive age because they care for grandchildren.
The theory also suggests that older members of our communities pass down important cultural knowledge that helps us survive.

They’re studying communities which have much longer lifespans than those which applied over our evolutionary history.

In their study, the researchers analysed detailed family records of people born in Utah from 1860-1899.

That’s well past the first bit of the demographic transition. For example, someone born at the end of that period would have been into the antibiotic age by the time they were 50. Actually, 1950 is probably just about when medical care could do something more than just be a palliative for the first time (yeah, OK, extreme argument but I’m an extremist, me).

Rather, to test the idea we need to look at lifespans over a more representative period of our development. Also, at ages of menarche, primagravida and so on. Married off and probably pregnant by 16 or 17 sounds about right. Maybe a little later in places and times. Granny at 35 or 40, looking at people past 50 doesn’t really illuminate this, does it?

Yes, I know the English had later marriage historically and so on but that’s not over evolutionary periods and it’s also something noted because it was notable.

Yes, I also know about lifespans being shorter back then because of the skew of child deaths but again over evolutionary periods we’re also talking about much shorter at age 16 or 20 as well.

My own theory, with zero evidence of course, is that in order to survive life in earlier times one had to be pretty robust. As life became easier with better nutrition, shelter, clothing, then finally medicine, that robustness leads to these longer lifespans. Around and about and given the environment in which we found ourselves, we were good enough to get to menopause/soon after it and not much more just given the plethora of things which would and could kill us. Some beat the odds and lived to great ages. Very few though, what has changed now is the odds.

Trots do as Trots do

Nick Dearden is one of the Trot Boys over at Global Justice Now (Used to be World Development Movement until people realised how nutty it was). Here we have him on antibiotics:

First, take pharmaceuticals – the most profitable sector in the world. The so-called big pharma companies maintain their profit margins through very long monopolies on new (or newly adapted) drugs, as well as all manner of financial shenanigans. Far from requiring these decades-long patents to allow them to research new drugs, these companies actually spend far more on advertising than they do on research. They also spend more on stock buybacks to keep their share price high in the money markets.

This is to miss, entirely, why we have patents in the first place. Which is that the regulatory structure leads to it costing $1 to $2 billion to get a new drug approved. But that cost is a public good. Once it’s been done it’s easy to copy, so, how do we make it so that people can profit from spending the $2 billion so that people spend the next $2 billion.

Note that this is nothing at all about how they ought to, or it is righteous that, they make a profit. It’s about how do we get the next drug discovered for the next $2 billion?

Our answer is, and it might not even be the right one, that we give a 20 year exclusivity to the production of the approved drug. This actually works out as a decade or so, as the patent runs from the entry into the system, not the approval, that approval taking perhaps a decade.

I, and just about everyone else, am willing to consider whether this is the right solution. But it is necessary to understand the problem that we’re trying to solve.

As to advertising spend and so on – well, yes, if you’ve got only 10 years to make back your $2 billion wouldn’t you want to tell people and quickly?

Big pharma is the epitome of monopoly capitalism. It’s not going to waste its time developing new, fallback antibiotics that will only be used as a “medicine of last resort” – because by the time their use becomes widespread, the patents will have expired and the profits will be gone.

Now, that is actually a problem, yes. One that many people are working upon, up to and including direct subsidy of drug producers to create new antibiotics so as to overcome that very financing problem.

Clamping down on antibiotic prescriptions might be important, but we also need to transform the corporate model that brought us here. Big pharma and agribusiness requires heavy regulation.

Ah, no, Trot Boy has the answer, just let me play Fat Controller and she’ll be fine.

Well, yes, that is a business plan

An industry-wide business model understands that as long as female beauty has greater cultural value than female achievement, it doesn’t matter how gruesome, barbaric, cruel or painful the new treatment to improve “beauty” may be. It doesn’t matter to which part of the body it’s targeted or what it does. You just need to convince a viable market share of women that they’ll be deficient without it, and as a sense of deficiency is admitted and shared among women, it will spread like aesthetic contagion. The size of your empire surely will double in a year.

And so what do we do about it, if anything?

The obvious answer being that we make the procedures illegal on the grounds that the little dears just can’t control themselves. That clash with feminist strength we’ll just ignore, shall we?

They’re not really thinking about this, are they?

EU scrutiny comes as the Government attempts to maintain and capitalise on Britain’s lead in Europe as a digital economy through Brexit. Ministers view improving the country’s broadband networks as vital. While more business is done online in Britain than anywhere else in the EU, its digital infrastructure lags behind France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

If we do more business on a worse network then it’s not the network determining the amount of business, is it?

The thing is, all of this is true

Tony Abbott, the former Australian prime minister, has drawn criticism for suggesting climate change “is probably doing good” and claiming that “far more people die in cold snaps”.

Addressing the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a climate sceptic thinktank, on Monday evening, Mr Abbott said policies to tackle climate change was like primitive people trying to “appease the volcano gods”.

“There’s the evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide (which is a plant food after all) are actually greening the planet and helping to lift agricultural yields. In most countries, far more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it’s accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change, might even be beneficial.

It’s actually what the science says too.

The science goes on to say that it doesn’t stay like this as emissions and temperatures rise which is what the problem is. It’s not that unusual for a bit to be a good thing, a lot not so much, any drinker can tell you that.

“At least so far, it’s climate change policy that’s doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good; or at least, more good than harm.

That’s also true, although the influence of what is being done on that future when the effects, in aggregate, are predicted to be bad is probably good.

Reacting to the speech on Twitter, Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said: “I know Donald Trump has lowered the bar for idiocy but…..”

But Ed, he’s actually right here.

He manages to contradict himself in his introduction!

Interest in analyses of spillover effects, (the direct impact of one country’s tax policy on
another country’s tax base, tax policy and economic activity), has been growing since the
IMF sought to define the term, and proposed econometric methods for evaluation (IMF,
2014.) The basic proposition justifying spillover analysis, is that countries’ tax regimes can
produce profit shifting and tax base erosion, as well as other forms of tax competition that
erode the revenue raising capacity of governments, while detrimentally effecting levels of
real economic activity in other jurisdictions through various forms of capital flight

Remember how money never moves around because of tax? Now we’ve got capital flight because of tax.


Life can be a bit odd at times

I was just asked to do a piece for an Iranian newspaper. Hmm, well, I do that weekly already so that’s not that odd. But it was about the subject of newspaper subsidies in Iran. My response being obvious, free market firebreathing stuff, if subsidies are needed then there should in fact be fewer Iranian newspapers.

But it is still just odd writing about free markets in a country that has such obvious state control of the press. They might well not use it for that very reason.

And the know nothing speaks out!

As the FT notes this morning:

Wolfgang Schäuble has warned that spiralling levels of global debt and liquidity present a major risk to the world economy, in his parting shot as Germany’s finance minister. In an interview with the FT … said there was a danger of “new bubbles” forming due to the trillions of dollars that central banks have pumped into markets.

It took him a long time to form that conclusion. And if as a result there are bubbles now then the blame can be firmly laid at his door.

If that could be seen in 2010 – and I did see it – the question for Schäuble is why has it taken him quite so long to state what is seemingly obvious when all the conditions for another bust have been laid on his watch?

The lack of knowledge is really quite startling. Schauble and the Bundesbank have always been tyhe loudest voices in the eurozone against QE. Precisely because they didn’t think it would work, it would only create a bubble.

The Sage of Ely is at least nominally a professor in international political economy. Shouldn’t we expect at least a passing knowledge of the scene of international political economy?

Slightly odd analysis here

South America’s macho culture, combined with the strong influence of the Catholic church, means it is a particularly difficult place to be a transgender woman like Salamanca. In the past eight years, 74% of all reported murders of trans people were in Central and South America, according to a 2016 report from Transgender Europe (TGEU). Due to violence, poverty and the risk of HIV, the life expectancy for trans women in Latin America is estimated at between 35 and 41 years.

Is it actually the trans bit that matters here?

But prejudices are hard to overcome. When she was attacked, Salamanca was working in the sex industry, where trans people are particularly vulnerable (65% of those murdered worldwide were sex workers, according to the TGEU report). Yet prostitution is one of only two jobs – along with hairdressing – available to most trans women in Colombia. Those who end up in sex work are mostly in Santa Fe, the notorious barrio on the eastern edge of Bogotá.

There’s rather a lot of weight on that idea that they can only get this job, isn’t there?

For streetwalker prostitution in one of the already most violent slums/barrios in the world is going to be a dangerous thing to be doing.

Thus being presented with the murder rate for trans-prossies doesn’t tell us much unless we also know the murder rate for prossies more generally.

There’s a seriously wondrous kicker to this story

This summer I got to see how Illinois government works from the inside when I accepted a high-level position at the governor’s office.

A lot of people have asked why I took the role, considering I have spent the bulk of my career railing against the government.

It came down to this: If I declined the job, I’d watch Illinois’ problems go unfixed and wonder if I could have made a difference. Or, I could enter the nucleus of state government and attempt to change the system from within.

The experience was eye-opening, but after six weeks I decided to leave the position. It was a dysfunctional workplace in a flailing administration. The bad I saw far outweighed any good I could do.

State government, lollygagging, inefficiency etc etc etc.


I was asked to bring four departments under one umbrella to streamline operations and increase effectiveness. Across these four departments, several jobs seemed duplicative or unnecessary, and there were some employees who weren’t productive.

I started by asking human resources for job descriptions and performance reviews for all staffers under my supervision, but was told none existed. Then I learned how it really worked.

Underperformers aren’t fired; they’re simply transferred to different positions, shuffled elsewhere on the payroll or tucked away at state agencies.

OK, yes, that’s how a union led bureaucracy works. Fine.

And the kicker?

Diana Sroka Rickert formerly worked for the libertarian-to-conservative Illinois Policy Institute and recently headed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s communications team.

There’re two in fact.

One, someone who writes this, ahem, well, was running a comms team? Secondly, that anyone vaguely libertarian or conservative thinks that a politician needs a comms team? Ain’t those two wondrous problems in and of themselves?

And yes, I’ve been paid to do political PR myself, incumbents don’t need it…..

The Sage is having a little problem with the issue of supply

Graeme says:
October 7 2017 at 8:33 pm
I have just invested money in a REIT that builds and manages social housing. That’s a good idea isn’t it? I know that your replies to me often look very rude but they help me to learn

Richard Murphy says:
October 8 2017 at 10:44 am
Is it a good idea?

Not if the property is run solely for your gain and without consideration for the tenants and their needs it may not be

I do not believe that market driven solutions per se are the answer here

I think local authorities and maybe co-ops, but not the now discredited housing associations, are the answer here

I supply because it benefits me, that’s the point. You demand because it benefits you, also the point.

Interesting how this works

Wiki on transexual tells that much of the debate is about how we can find male brains in female bodies and vice versa. This is because spectrum of brain types, hormones in development etc, you’re a cis and sexist and no doubt even white, patriarchal capitalist to deny this.

Baron Cohen tells us that much of his debate is about how we can find male brains in female bodies and vice versa. This is because spectrum of brain types, hormones in development etc.

You’re a cis and sexist and no doubt even white, patriarchal capitalist to say this.

Fun how that works, isn’t it?

What wondrous obfuscation

According to a new report from Quartz, Facebook plans to sign conservative magazine Weekly Standard as a fact checking partner. Several outlets currently work as fact checkers for the platform, though all the outlets Facebook has signed thus far have been approved by the Poynter Institute.

Poynter does not include any right-wing news outlets on its list of media that follow its code of principles, but according to one person briefed on Facebook’s plan to strike a deal with Weekly Standard, the partnership is part of Facebook’s attempts to to “appease all sides.”

No one has applied long enough ago to go through the process that is. Several have applied and are in the process.


The Weekly Standard has a history of publishing far-right talking points, including saying the Iraq war was a “war to be proud of” in 2005 and calling medical marijuana a “charade” in 2010.

The conservative magazine also has a history of denying the reality of climate change, and recently ran an article it called “Dadaist Science.”

“Look under the hood on climate change ‘science’ and what you see isn’t pretty,” Nathan Cofnas wrote for the magazine in July.

In 2009, ThinkProgress reported that the magazine misrepresented an MIT professor’s study estimating the costs of cap-and-trade. At the time, the professor told ThinkProgress’ Joe Romm that “the Weekly Standard reporter ‘feigned stupidity’ in an effort to elicit answers that could be taken out of context and misrepresented.”

In order for the Weekly Standard deal to go forward, Poynter would have to approve the Weekly Standard as following its code of principles, a process that could take several weeks.

The obfuscation being that the code of principles means following the code when fact checking, not when publishing opinion pieces in your own magazine.

What a lovely financing technique

Amid a battle for orders between Boeing and Airbus, Monarch secured a cut-price deal for 30 new planes — which later rose to 45. The market value of the aircraft was greater than Monarch’s agreed price, so creating a paper profit.

Greybull was able to persuade Boeing to release more than £100m of this trapped equity as cash, pumping it into the airline through Petrol Jersey.

Buy something you can’t afford at a discount, claim the discount as capital. Actually, they managed to go up one notch, manage to persuade the seller to give you the discount as capital.

That really is innovative.