I object to this

We can agree that heavy-handed price controls are poor economic policy, but even free market commentator Tim Worstall of Forbes conceded that this only indicts non-market forms of socialism, since we can “conceive of a socialist economy that does work, it just needs to be a market and prices based economy among socialist organisations like cooperatives.”

How is a free market commentator conceding anything when he insists that markets work, non-markets don’t?


Alternatively, researchers have shown that health spending is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy, so the government could opt against tax increases in the short term and instead let healthcare spending act as a fiscal stimulus, at least until purchasing power had increased.

Seriously? Who the hell has claimed that?

Isn’t this a little problem

Richard Brooks is the bloke who gets tax wrong for Private Eye. He now says this about accounting:

The demise of sound accounting became a critical cause of the early 21st-century financial crisis. Auditing limited companies, made mandatory in Britain around a hundred years earlier, was intended as a check on the so-called “principal/agent problem” inherent in the corporate form of business. As Adam Smith once pointed out, “managers of other people’s money” could not be trusted to be as prudent with it as they were with their own.

Audits are for shareholders.

Rather kills Ritchie’s ideas about stakeholders, doesn’t it?

Oh aye?

Theresa May ‘must prove she is a feminist by imposing abortion reform on Northern Ireland’

Theresa May has been accused of betraying the legacy of the suffragists by failing to impose abortion law reform on Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has insisted that Ulster’s strict abortion laws can only be relaxed by the power-sharing government at Stormont, as abortion is a devolved issue.

But with the Northern Ireland Assembly suspended for the past 16 months, Mrs May is under pressure to pass laws in Westminster to bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK, following a landslide vote in the Republic of Ireland to liberalise abortion laws.

Err, we’ve already said this is something for the people of Northern Ireland to decide. So, we must let the people of Northern Ireland decide, no? Instead of being all colonialist about it?

Isn’t this just appalling about the tax law?

Owners are liable for UK tax on the rents they collect from students, but can receive the money before tax and reduce the amount they have to pay by offsetting expenses and debt repayments.

And isn’t this an indictment of the higher education system?

The National Union of Students vice-president for welfare, Izzy Lenga, said UK students were seen as a cash cow by overseas investors, and often had no choice but to take rooms in “overpriced glass towers”.

Lenga said: “Overseas investors make billions of pounds building luxury apartments and charging sky-high rents for students. There is a cost of living crisis and finding good-quality affordable accommodation is a huge barrier for low- and middle-income students attending our world-leading institutions.”

Building more student housing does rather reduce the cost of all student housing, doesn’t it?

Will you look at this casuistry?

Second we have the perpetuation of an economic creed that says that money is made by individuals as result of their own effort, when this is palpably untrue. Money is made available by government and the income it is used to measure and distribute is without exception ( even if the degree varies) result of communal effort.

Second, it is promoted to encourage the belief that it is the genius of the owner of capital that makes money, when in fact government does.

Money, the physical cash stuff, is made by government. Fair enough, although do note that societies without such government created money have also had methods of keeping account, of working out who owes what, who commands which resources. Try taking part in a round in a pub without standing one for too long and you’ll fin out we’ve very effective social methods of enforcing such too.

But money is made by government. Therefore, people who accumulate it do not do so by their own effort?

Rilly? ‘Coz the Mint makes the money, JK Rowling didn’t write nor sell all those books?

What the heck is salmonetta?

Our local little prix fixe restaurant is a bit of a bargain. 19 euros for lunch for two – in total that is. Olives, cenoura salad, mixed such, bread, bottle of wine (vino plonko obviously, but entirely fine) water, amuse guele for dessert, coffee, plate of grilled fish, plate of the best chicken piri piri for 50 km, chips – the last being made from real potatoes, our shorthand for somewhere doing something right. Portion size on the chicken is half a bantam, the Portuguese still eat properly.

And chicken piri piri comes from these parts. It’s “estilio da Guia” more formally, Guia being a village just outside Albufeira. That Nandos is exactly that filtered through colonial Mozambique then South Africa.

There is always the chicken and then whatever fish seems decent that day. Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Golden Bream, sardines, mackerel, horse mackerel, all have been on offer – but usually only one on any particular day.

Saturday there was “salmonetta” and I am struggling to find out what it is. Google gives me a couple of pictures of it from Spain but nothing else. No English name for it. It might be small red mullet – it’s got the pinkish tinge to the skin.

Anyone actually know? That it’s most yummy might not aid all that much in identification….

Brave statement

The first question does not require a “strategic welfare review” as Field suggests. It demands that bigger macroeconomic questions be answered, including what the cost of not supplying this care might be. But I already know the answer: it will be politically impossible for any elected government not to supply the healthcare people in this country want and need.

People are denied treatment they desire all the time.

Ever heard of NICE? Waiting lists?

Sigh. So, public services are free are they? Over time that is:

Second, spending creates the capacity to pay more tax. The reasons should be obvious and yet apparently they are not. New government spending is, of course, someone’s income. It is not poured into a black hole to be lost forever more. That means that some comes straight back in tax. And yet more comes back because the recipient of the extra income also spends, and so tax is paid, and so on. It is quite likely that over time new spending pays for itself. Field should learn some basic economics.

Amazingly, no, it doesn’t work that way.

Have a drink Nick

If I were to describe secretive organisations that make millions from mafia states, you would imagine – what? Mercenaries? Conspiracies with Blofeld at their head? Nothing so thrilling, I’m afraid. Picture instead respectable lawyers of high status and higher income, whose love of money is now, in the words of the Commons foreign affairs committee, a matter of “national security”. Others should judge whether they were so “entwined in the corruption of the Kremlin and its supporters that they are no longer able to meet the standards expected of a UK regulated law firm”.

The lawyers who worried MPs worked at the “magic circle” London firm Linklaters, whose 40 highest-paid partners received £1.57m on average last year. Linklaters decided that the attempted murder of the Skripals, Russia’s shooting down of the MH17, its complicity in crimes against humanity in Syria, the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of Ukraine, support for the far right, the interference in democratic elections in the west and the suppression of democracy at home in no way obliged it to answer questions about its dealings with Moscow. It had nothing to say about its role in floating a Russian company last year.

The argument seems to be that bad guys shouldn’t be allowed to have lawyers.

I’m really pretty sure that’s not the way we want the system to work actually.

Good point Rod, good point

The English Defence League founder, Tommy Robinson, turned up in Leeds on Friday to film people going into the trial of several Asian men accused of “grooming” white girls. He did not speak, chant, accost anyone or do anything but point his phone at attendees from a distance. Still, several coppers bundled him into a police van, accusing him of a breach of the peace.

I’m not remotely a fan of the unpleasant Robinson. But wouldn’t it have been lovely if West Yorkshire police had acted with as much rigour and alacrity when, in an earlier case, they were told of the horrific sexual assaults taking place on their patch?

So here’s an idiot idea

Retailers are currently closing stores at a faster rate than during the recession, but despite the underlying issues being well rehearsed, no coherent plan has emerged to tackle high-street decline. Some 50,000 stores are deemed surplus to requirements and MPs have recently launched a fresh inquiry, with the goal of drawing up a vision of what high streets and town centres could look like by 2030. There is no shortage of brain power being devoted to this emotive subject; retail guru Bill Grimsey is currently leading a taskforce that is revisiting his influential 2013 review. But while MPs and retail experts bang their heads together, the pace of decline only accelerates.

Why not just liberalise the planning laws and see what happens?

No doubt they’ll be prosecuted, eh?

The official campaign to keep Britain in the EU is facing fresh questions over whether it breached spending rules during the Brexit referendum.

Britain Stronger in Europe published a video on its website and Facebook page which formed part of a celebrity advertising campaign in the final days before the vote in 2016.

The clip, featuring Keira Knightley, a Remain supporter, urging people to vote, was produced by an advertising agency – along with a series also featuring Dame Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer and Lily Cole, the model – at a total cost of more than £76,000.

Given the precedent in the manner they’ve been crawling all over the Leave accounts?

Interesting assertion

What it implies is an attitude that Scotland should not tax companies, capital and wealth too heavily for fear it will relocate. That there is almost no evidence that real wealth does relocate for tax reasons does not matter to those who promote these arguments.

That it’s a basic assumption in all economics about taxation seems to escape the Murphmonster. All those very bright people filling libraries over the centuries, they’re all just wrong. Because.

Gordon Brown actually proved it for us as well. North Sea taxes were raised above the level where companies said they would invest. Companies didn’t invest, North Sea tax revenues fell.

But, you know, reality and the Great Tuber.

In particular, there is a worrying suggestion that the so-called ‘Laffer Curve’ might be relevant in a Scottish context and that there are limits to the tax rates that it might wish to consider. I suggest that this is wrong. The work of economists working with Thomas Piketty has made clear that there is no tax rate that Scotland might reasonably consider where an increase in tax rate would reduce tax yield.

There’s reasonable – not conclusive I agree, but reasonable – evidence to suggest that current UK top income tax and capital gains rates are at the peak of the Laffer Curve. It’s even true that the major theoretical paper of recent years, Diamond and Saez, concurs. Taxes upon income – note taxes upon income, not income taxes, therefore add in NI – peak at 54% in a system with allowances. The ability to leave the country and remove oneself from the tax system by changing residence is an allowance in this definition.

Err, Saez works with Piketty, no?


These mid-career actresses do all look the same, don’t they?

Actors and actresses are used to being recognised and approached by fans who feel they know them.

But as Victoria Beckham knows only too well, a case of mistaken identity can prove more than a little embarrassing.

Thandie Newton, who stars in Line of Duty and Westworld, has revealed that the former Spice Girl was “mortified” when she engaged her in conversation after confusing her with Zoe Saldana.

There began an awkward exchange that left Newton baffled before it dawned on her that Beckham thought was talking to someone else.

Although both women are actresses, one is British and the other American.

That annoyance at finding out that what they were renting out all those years were the fading youth and beauty, not actual talent.