What the hell is this damn Ebola nurse doing?

A Maine nurse back from treating Ebola patients in West Africa followed through on her vow to defy the state’s “voluntary” quarantine on Thursday, leaving her home for a bike ride.

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend stepped out of their home Thursday morning and rode away on mountain bikes, followed by state police cruiser.

There was no immediate comment from state health officials, who were going to court in an effort to detain Hickox for the remainder of the 21-day incubation period for Ebola that ends on Nov. 10. Police were monitoring her movements but couldn’t detain her without a court order signed by a judge.

Yes, I know all about constitutional rights and fully defend them. But damn the fool we’re talking about a contagious disease with a 50% kill rate here. It’s simply not sensible. So why’s she doing it?

And related question: would Typhoid Mary these days be able to claim discrimination if people refused to hire her as a cook?

Dear God this is stupid

You’ve got to give the local council one month’s notice that you’re about to die:

Here’s how it works. Pensioners on low incomes are entitled to a range of benefits, including council tax benefit, which averages £728 a year, and housing benefit, which averages £48 a week, according to Age UK. These benefits are typically claimed by elderly folk who rely purely on the state pension for income, as they have little or no savings to their name.

If they are on full housing benefits, these pensioners have been deemed too poor to afford to pay rent. Most also receive help with bills and care costs, if they need it.

But on the day they die, these elderly people are stripped of these benefits and are no longer entitled to a penny of help from the state. In spite of this rule, however, local councils write into rental agreements that tenants living alone must give a minimum of four weeks’ notice before they “vacate” council houses and sheltered homes.

In the case of a tenant who has died, the full market-value rent is payable for these four weeks. For someone living in the average one-bedroom council flat, this means £500 (one month’s rent) will be taken from their estate and paid to the council.

Hang them all. No, seriously, no mercy at all. Someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea and the 6 million people who work for the State haven’t intervened to point out that it’s ludicrous. Therefore hang them all. Every last man Jack of ‘em.

Nice obit

Michael Sata, who has died aged 77, was a populist president of Zambia who denounced China’s role in Africa and promised to stop his country from being a “dumping ground for their human beings”.

Prickly, irascible, intolerant and notably inept at the business of administration, Sata had to wait until he was 74 before winning the presidency on his fourth attempt.

Notably inept at administration being just what an abjectly poor country needs of course.

Colin Hines is certainly an economic nationalist

Their present support for the free flow of people is undemocratic, as it ignores the wishes of the majority, increases pressure on overstretched public services and is deeply non internationalist. Look at how the rich countries of Europe have stolen a third of Romanian doctors and how the UK is scouring poorer countries for staff to prop up the underfunded NHS.

What they should be calling for is a more progressive Europe that would allow countries to limit cross border flows not just of people, but also of money goods and services. This would allow countries instead to prioritise the protection and rebuilding of local economies and so provide a secure future for its people.

This is not such a huge step since free trade critics amongst the left and the greens correctly identify the underlying cause of today’s economic, environmental and social malaise as economic globalisation.

Yet they have with no detailed ideas or programmes on how to tackle the entrenched worship of international competitiveness and export-led growth. Today’s open borders in the EU are the interconnected, joint battering rams of neoliberalism and unless all are tackled at once the powerful will continue to increase their grip on the world’s share of wealth.

Indeed it is the EU’s open market that is rarely recognised root cause of the present European crisis. It allowed for example German banks to lend to Greeks to import German cars they couldn’t afford, and then the national debts that resulted are being dealt with by taking money from pensioners and the less well-off.

Meanwhile, the flow of migration and the inability of countries to control their borders under the single market are increasing tensions across the continent.

And he’s also a socialist so that makes him a national socialist, doesn’t it?

And the thing is his actual proposals are indeed Fascist economics. As I’ve pointed out before. there’s not a fag paper between his proposals and the BNP’s election manifesto.

Isn’t this a balanced panel?

I am taking part in a debate on tax justice at the Class conference this coming Saturday at TUC Congress House in London.

This session will have a pretty lively panel made up of Margaret Hodge, Ann Pettifor, Prem Sikka and me,

Lively? Could you put a fag paper between their ideas?

There’s there’s the actual proposals:

Having dealt with my opener, what would a more redistributive system look like?

1) First, the bias against labour income that provides consistently lower tax rates on capital would be removed. That means either merging income tax and NIC – which would create enormous problems, especially relating to pensions – or instead creating an investment income surcharge of 15% to replicate the NIC charge paid by labour on income such as rents, dividends and interest. And yes we would have to give an extra allowance to pensioners but this could still raise billions and level a playground field.

2) Second, we have to charge capital gains to tax at the same rate as income and reduce the absurd allowances for so called entrepreneurs – none of whom need this incentive because entrepreneurs are born and are not created by the tax system.

3) We need wealth taxes, on land via LVT, on dealing via a financial transactions tax, and in wealth itself by a proper gifts tax – that would also eliminate for ever the abuse created by trusts and corporate tax shelters beloved of the wealthy and their advisers.

He never did pay any attention in his economics classes, did he? And thus entirely missed the entire point of optimal taxation theory: that, because of deadweight costs, taxes on returns to capital should be lower than (or non-existent in a perfect world) than taxes upon labour income.

Ritchie’s just not got the first clue about the economics of taxation.

Oh joy

Russell Brand and Michael Winterbottom will unite for the political documentary The Emperor’s New Clothes, billed as an exposé of the social inequities which led to the financial crisis.

Winterbottom will direct a film that is expected to combine comedy, archive footage and interviews to show how “the people at the bottom are paying for the luxuries of those at the top”, according to backers StudioCanal. Brand will take the role of presenter-spectator, examining the crisis at financial centres in cities such as London and New York.

I suppose
it’ll be Johan Hari writing the script…..

So what did anyone think would happen?

Cinema workers celebrating victory in a campaign to adopt the London Living Wage were today hit by news that around a quarter of the workforce is now facing the sack.

Picturehouse Cinemas said that the cost of increasing basic wages at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to £8.80 an hour would be absorbed by reducing the number of staff by at least 20, with a redundancy programme starting next month.

Seems logical really.

Timmy elsewhere

In the New York Times.

It’s always rather odd writing for a US newspaper. That short piece went back and forth 5 times I think for edits and approvals. And the point I really wanted to make (we don’t actually know whether wealth inequality is growing or not, as we don’t measure the things we do to reduce wealth inequality) wasn’t one they were interested in….

I note that Joe Stiglitz thinks differently but then that’s hardly a surprise.

Umm, you what?

What would you do to keep your baby from starving? Perhaps the same as Lucy Hill. At the start of October, the 35-year-old mother from Kidderminster was broke. After missing an interview at the jobcentre, her disability benefits had been stopped – which left her, her partner and her toddler of 18 months without anything to live on. So she went to the local Spar and stole a chicken and some soap powder.

Two weeks later, Hill was up before the magistrate. Her police interview noted that she said “sorry to the shop … but had no money … and was in a desperate situation”. She was ordered to pay compensation, a fine, costs and a surcharge: a total of over £200 to be taken off someone who’d only committed a crime because she had no money. Her solicitor John Rogers remembers that the mother’s chief worry was that the social services might  find out and take away her baby.

After running me through the details, Rogers sighs. Cases like this keep coming his way, he says: “They miss an appointment so their benefits are sanctioned [docked or stopped altogether], so they have no money, so they steal.” His local office now handles “at least half a dozen” such cases each month – up from almost nothing a year ago.

He’s just one lawyer in one post-industrial town, describing a national policy: of starving the poor into committing crime. Nothing is accidental about this regime.


But if she’d turned up for the interview then the bennies wouldn’t have been stopped, would they? This isn’t a deliberate policy of starving the poor into committing crimes: it’s a nudge to get them to turn up to interviews.

Genius economics here

We cannot continue with an economic system that is predicated on employing fewer and fewer people on lower and lower wages to increase productivity
1) We do rather want to increase productivity. For it’s exactly that which makes us all richer.
2) Increased productivity also leads to higher, not lower, wages.
Aren’t you glad there’s someone out there recommending that we shouldn’t increase productivity?


It is short book, with each fallacy generating two to four pages of discussion. Mr Worstall’s humorous style emanates, laughing the way through the dismal science. Also, these fallacies are not exclusively taken from a particular political view. Mr Worstall has written a concise and incisive book: it is pertinent since many of these fallacies drive contemporary policy.

Bollocks, complete and total bollocks

Britain would become a safe haven for rapists, murderers and child molesters if it leaves the European Arrest Warrant, senior Tories warned today.

Home Secretary Theresa May claimed opting out of the pan-European extradition deal risks Britain becoming a ‘honeypot’ for European fugitives.

It’s entirely possible to have an extradition scheme which is not this particular extradition scheme. We can prove this by noting that we have extradition agreements with non-EU countries, countries that are therefore not part of the European Arrest Warrant scheme.
This is all so obvious that I’m actually surprised that these lying shits are willing to try it on.

Well, what do you expect?

Which prompts a related thought. What most of us accepted until a few decades ago in terms of privacy and comfort is less acceptable today. And this relates not just to hotels, but to establishments such as hospitals and care homes … shouldn’t it? The quite scandalous phenomenon of mixed-sex wards may be on its way out, but even many new hospitals – designed with extravagant public spaces – have retained old-fashioned assumptions about communal sleeping, bathrooms and catering. Many patients are still admitted to wards where there are between 10 and 20 other patients, with just one or two private alcoves. Privacy is a diaphanous curtain that pulls around the bed.


If it’s the State providing it then what it provided will be what it is convenient for the State to provide, not what the consumer might actually want.

But why adopt an Italian model?

Of all the various industrial strategies that could be tried:


His debut in British public life came in 1966, when he was asked by the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson and his minister for economic affairs George Brown to become managing director of the newly announced Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

Based on an Italian model, the IRC was intended to drag British industry into the modern era by writing blueprints for industrial sectors and promoting mergers to create “national champions”.

Why in buggery adopt an Italian one?