There’s a solution to this

Westminster city council’s deputy leader has emerged as a contender for the title of the most schmoozed politician in Britain, receiving entertainment, meals and gifts more than 500 times in the last three years.

From tickets to the hottest West End shows to exclusive dinners in London’s finest restaurants and trips to the south of France, the official declarations reveal an extraordinary lifestyle that included one day in Mallorca, when Robert Davis managed two lunches, the first at the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the second at the home of the Earl of Chichester.

Davis, the Conservative deputy leader of the central London borough and until last year the chairman of its powerful planning committee, was entertained by and received gifts from property industry figures at least 150 times since the start of 2015 – a rate of almost once a week.

If such a politician didn’t have so much economic power then rather fewer people would attempt to suck up to him. So, reduce the power of the politicians.

The Germans just can’t do it

The problems came after KFC switched its deliveries from Bidvest Logistics to DHL in a deal struck last year.

DHL said “operational issues” meant several KFC deliveries over recent days had been incomplete or delayed.

It added: “We are working with KFC and our partners to rectify the situation as a priority and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

But business is just so easy, isn’t it? Open the doors and the profits just roll in. Or so half the Guardian would have you believe.

The other half are so deluded they think the State can do it……not realising it doesn’t take all that much to cock it up.

Dawn Foster still doesn’t get it

Poverty is a trap: it should be eradicated. It’s no real answer just lifting a few children from families stuck on low wages into a different social milieu.

We have eradicated poverty. It simply does not exist in Britain. Barbara Castle pointed this out back in 1959.

We have inequality, sure we do. A great deal less than many suppose – consumption is the only form that matters, not income or wealth – but sure, we’ve got it.

But inequality and poverty are not the same thing.

Rhiannon Lucy is all growed up now

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t feel grateful for the fact that I am no longer embedded tit-deep in the feminist movement. Though I remain a feminist – my commitment to the cause is unaltered – it is a relief, not to mention immeasurably better for my mental health, to find myself no longer overly concerned with putting a step wrong somewhere and facing the wrath of, well, everyone. “Did you see the fallout from so-and-so’s column?” a friend who is very much still involved in the feminist media circus asked me the other day. “Nope, don’t care,” I replied. She looked at me with wonder in her eyes.

Women are so frequently pitted against each other that it feels somewhat disloyal to admit that some of the worst tearing downs to which we can be subject are often from other women – so much for sisterhood.

All of which makes one wonder why we pay so much attention to those not yet growed up?

Peeps still aren’t understanding Iceland’s equal pay law

On the face of it, Iceland is a good place to be a woman. For nearly a decade, it has been rated the world’s most gender-equal country. It was the first to directly elect a female president, nearly half its MPs and company directors are women, and first-class daycare and parental leave help ensure almost four in five women have jobs.

So it came as a shock for Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir to learn, when she was managing a key team of 10 home carers at Reykjavik council a few years ago, that male colleagues in other departments, with far fewer responsibilities than her, were being paid a great deal more.

“It has been illegal for decades, for jobs that are worth the same, to pay people differently because of gender, but still it happens – it’s simply been allowed,” says Valdimarsdóttir, who is now the chair of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association, in her bright offices in the country’s capital.

Despite an equal pay act that dates back to 1961, Icelandic women still earn, on average, between 14% and 20% less than men. So Valdimarsdóttir and her association were one of many campaign groups to back a plan that finally resulted, last month, in the island becoming the first country in the world to legally enforce equal pay.

They’re not enforcing equal pay. They’re enforcing equal pay for the same – or very similar, to be fair – job.

It is still true that different life choices, different commitments to career, different deployments of talent, will lead to different pay outcomes.

Within four years from January 2018, any public or private body in Iceland employing more than 25 people that has not been independently certified as paying equal wages for work of equal value will face daily fines.

Be fun to see the lawyers arguing as follows.

“My client pays different amounts because they regard the work as being of different value. The proof that the work is of different value is that it is paid differently. QED.”

At which point, my prediction. The country will still have a gender pay gap even after this is all bedded in. And people will still complain.

Charles McKay was right

Sure, he concentrated upon financial markets but delusions and madness of crowds aren’t limited to those:

Measles cases rose by 300 per cent in Europe last year as parents across the Continent shunned vaccines.

More than 20,000 people were infected as the disease rebounded from a record low to cause 35 deaths, according to World Health Organisation figures that reveal the damaging after-effects of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine scare.

Young people in Britain who are part of the unprotected “Wakefield cohort” — named after the disgraced former doctor Andrew Wakefield, who raised fears that the triple vaccine caused autism — have been urged to get vaccinated before trips to countries such as Italy.

Sigh.

Elsewhere

So, they strengthened the headline a bit:

The BBC, not its presenters, is the real tax dodger

A bit stronger than me:

Some 100 or so of the BBC’s highly paid presenters and talent are said to have used such a scheme, on the grounds that the BBC encouraged them to do so. It’s employers’ NI which goes unpaid here, so who is the tax dodger? Possibly the employer, the BBC itself?

Sadly, they took out the reference to Richard Murphy, the man who recommended such schemes for nannies in The Observer.

Quelle Surprise

Alex Cobham at the Tax Justice Network published this blog late last week and I think it worth sharing because it shows that whilst some in business now recognise that tax responsibility is an issue that they must address they are still a long way from being willing to address the issues in the way that commitment to the Fair Tax Mark would, for example, require. I share Alex’s disappointment that yet another PR exercise is distracting from what is really required:

The B Team, [who describe themselves] as the leading global group for responsible business, has released a report: ‘A New Bar for Responsible Tax‘. To our great sadness, it moves the bar in one direction – towards the bottom.

When the B Team first got in touch to discuss their plan to work with major multinationals to establish a new standard of tax transparency, we were excited. The one thing lacking so far in the process towards public country-by-country reporting has been a champion among the major multinationals – and that’s exactly who the B Team work with. Moreover, they have made some genuine progress towards beneficial ownership transparency for their own group structures. We felt their staff were on the right track, and we hoped that they would be able to take the business members with them.

It soon became clear that the members were less keen. But even so, the report which has now been released is desperately disappointing.

Competition for the Fair Tax Mark.

such a pity, eh?

Rilly?

Four things worry me.

First, that the whole of the first page fails to address any question asked.

Why not just refer them to other pieces on the blog which can be found through Google?

Works for some people apparently.

Well, yes, sorta, maybe

The “right to keep and bear arms” was included as the second amendment to the US constitution in 1791 (Report, 17 February). Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols? Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.
Elaine Yeo
Enfield, Middlesex

The logical restriction would be to what you can make at home. On the very simple grounds that you’ll never really be able to regulate that anyway.

It’s amazing what you can make with a hobby CNC machine these days. There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).

The Guardian on Russian Trolls

It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

Quite so:

To maximise the likelihood of your efforts making a difference, we’ve zeroed in on one of the places where this year’s election truly will be decided: Clark County, Ohio, which is balanced on a razor’s edge between Republicans and Democrats. In the 2000 election, Al Gore won Clark County by 1% – equivalent to 324 votes – but George Bush won the state as a whole by just four percentage points. This time round, Ohio is one of the most crucial swing states: Kerry and Bush have been campaigning there tire lessly – they’ve visited Clark County itself – and the most recent Ohio poll shows, once again, a 1% difference between the two of them. The voters we will target in our letter-writing initiative are all Clark County residents, and they are all registered independents, which somewhat increases the chances of their being persuadable.

Wibble

Most UK employers believe a woman should have to disclose if she is pregnant during a recruitment process, according to “depressing” statistics from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The EHRC warned that many businesses were “decades behind the law” after a YouGov survey of 1,106 senior decision-makers revealed that a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children in the future during the recruitment process, 59% said she should have to disclose if she is pregnant and almost half (46%) said it was also reasonable to ask a woman if she had small children.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the EHRC, said the findings were “depressing” and accused many British companies of “living in the dark ages”.

“We should all know very well that it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant. Yet we also know women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews,” she said. “It’s clear that many employers need more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.”

EHRC is talking about what the law is. The companies are talking about what they think the law should be. These are not the same thing.

As the Senior Lecturer keeps telling us about tax…..

We should await Chris Snowdon’s take on this

Keep an eye on here.

The average Briton consumes 50 per cent more calories than they think they do, according to the first estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The new data show that men are the worst at kidding themselves – typically consuming 1,000 more calories than they estimate every day – while women eat about 800 calories more than they account for.

My first take is:

The new PHE advice, in the One You nutrition campaign, will say adults should limit lunches and dinners to 600 calories each, with 400 calories for breakfast.

Those behind the campaign say overall recommended daily consumption levels are unchanged- at 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men – but that the guidance is a “rule of thumb” to help people cut back.

This is still markedly (like, 20%) lower than wartime minimum ration.

It still ain’t that we’re all eating more.

Hmmm

The husband of the murdered MP Jo Cox has resigned from the two charities he set up in her memory after being publicly accused of sexual assault.

Technically I think he’s her widower.

But I think I must be evil. Ungracious at the very least. For my immediate supposition on hearing about two charities is that this means two CEO salaries.

Some failure

The ideas of the modern left were primarily born out of a new kind of practice and some undeniable facts. Neoliberalism had failed. In the survival strategies adopted by governments it has become, as the economist William Davies writes, “literally unjustified”.

The socio-economic system which has caused the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species has failed?

Witness intimidation now?

Having briefed the staff in the office in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that an investigation was under way, the main part of the investigation commenced. During the investigation 40 witnesses were interviewed. While the investigation was still in progress, the line manager of one of the suspects leaked an investigation report to an unconnected member of staff.

This resulted in three of the suspects physically threatening and intimidating one of the witnesses who had been referred to in the report. This incident led to further charges of bullying and intimidation against these three members of staff.

Idiot damn stupidity

There is legitimate fear that GDPR will threaten the data-profiling gravy train. It’s a direct assault on the surveillance economy, enforced by government regulators and an army of class-action lawyers. “It will require such a rethinking of the way Facebook and Google work, I don’t know what they will do,” says Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, a book that’s critical of the platform economy. Companies could still serve ads, but they would not be able to use data to target someone’s specific preferences without their consent. “I saw a study that talked about the difference in value of an ad if platforms track information versus do not track,” says Reback. “If you just honor that, it would cut the value Google could charge for an ad by 80 percent.”

That is, the value to the advertiser is cut by 80%.

He’s arguing in favour of a reduction in economic efficiency……