Seriously, at least try to get this right

Right now, the Treasury is having another go. As the Telegraph reported on Monday, the Treasury is revving up plans for an online sales tax as part of a package of measures to reform, and hopefully even reduce, business rates.

The online sellers would pay a bit more, and in return physical high street shops would have to pay a bit less. True, we can understand the arguments for that.

An online sales tax is not a tax upon online retailers. It is a tax upon online consumers.

Tax incidence is the study of who really pays a tax. The wallet of which live human being gets lighter as a result of the existence of the tax?

For business rates this is landlords. For a sales tax this is consumers.

At least try to get the basic economics right on the business pages.

Well, yes

Mr Orlowski:

In reality, much of “behavioural science” was really a collection of anecdotes and hunches, given an impressive pseudo-scientific coat of paint. Often these observations are quirky and interesting (and irresistible to some newspaper columnists), but no more than that. As a science, this was a house built on sand. The so-called behavioural experts’ incoherent Covid response must surely be the biggest blow of all.

“People are weird and they do all sorts of shit”.

“Well, yes, but that’s not particularly useful as a management technique now, is it?”

Things like oddities of behaviour only work as tools if they are consistent. So, yes, we can say that humans are subject to hyperbolic discounting. To home investment bias. Not all, all the time, but enough often enough that it’s a general feature of a society. But it ain’t true of much it is said to be true about…..

Oh, aye?

A senior member of a watchdog at one of Britain’s biggest prisons has been accused of smuggling drugs and phones into the jail.

The watchdog has been arrested and suspended from their post on the prison’s independent watchdog after a police investigation.

Prison sources said police were alerted from a tip-off which claimed the watchdog was bringing in the drugs and phones after striking up a relationship with one of the inmates in the jail.

And what sort of relationship might that be?

We might even find out the sex – or perhaps gender – of the visitor at some point…..

Pay rates that might not quite make it

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They’re looking for folks for pretty much any team. For an addict it would be quite fun. But $5 an hour?

Where’s my prize?

And where was the economics prize that might have gone to someone suggesting we might just need to change the way we manage resources if we are to survive? There wasn’t one, because the whole theme was that we definitely didn’t want to upset the status quo.

Pity The Sage has missed that they’ve already given the Big One, the Nobel, to the bloke who has already told us that. William Nordhaus and let’s have a carbon tax. And the subsidiary one, the peerage, to Nick Stern for saying the same thing.

You know, the solution that The Sage can’t bear to accept. Largely, one assumes, because the solution doesn’t emanate from The Sage.


The prime minister of Spain plans to ban prostitution, 26 years after the country decriminalised it.

Pedro Sánchez, 49, denounced the activity for “enslaving” women, and vowed to initiate a significant change in the law.

Speaking at the end of a three-day congress of his Socialist party in Valencia yesterday, he said the party would draw up legislation to ban prostitution, and punish those who profit from it — including clients and places which allow the sale of sex.

The major effect will be that profits made by intermediaries will rise.

They just can’t help themselves, can they?

He calculates that if the UK installs 100 megawatts of tidal power a year as part of a growing global market, by 2040 the industry could be contributing £4bn a year to Britain’s economy.

Up to 14,500 jobs would be created either building or maintaining offshore tidal power systems – many of them in coastal or remote areas which the Government is keen to level up.

Might be lovely stuff, might be a disaster, but those jobs are a cost, not a benefit.

Wonder how many noticed?

Scotland’s civil service agreed to delete the word “mother” from its maternity leave policy in response to pressure from transgender rights activists, it has emerged.

That maternity rather implies the existence of mother? That, with a bit of cod linguistics, we’d even say that it’s the state or process of being a mother – mater?

Bit annoying

The man arrested on suspicion of murdering David Amess had considered killing other MPs, the Telegraph understands.

The investigation into the tragic death of Amess suggests he was not specifically targeted, but picked at random as part of a plot to kill any national politician.

Imagine the annoyance of dying on the basis of eenie, meenie, miney, mo.

Of course, we all do in the end, whether random chance or weighted that this bug or that cancer takes hold. But still.

Old habits die hard, eh?

Three people have been arrested in southern Italy after a police raid on a cannabis farm led to the discovery of hundreds of dead and alive protected dormice apparently being eaten by local mafia as part of ritual peace-making dinners.

On top of 235 caracasses stuffed in a freezer, police found several cages of live dormice that were being fattened up for the kill. Three people were arrested on suspicion of capturing and slaughtering a protected species.

Despite being illegal to hunt or eat, dormice are a popular delicacy in parts of southern Italy and some restaurants serve them up in secret, keeping their fluffy tails intact so that they are distinguishable from other mice.

We have recipes from the area that are at least 2,000 years old.

And, of course, if they’re raising them for consumption then they’re hardly damaging the wild population, are they? Sorta like saying stop eating cows in order to save the aurochs.

The rhetoric needs to be a little better

There is discussion in newspapers today of MPs being fearful for their physical well-being. I think it profoundly unfortunate that they are. I also think that it is apparent that their safety must be ensured. Whilst safety can never be guaranteed it is apparent that more can be done to protect them. I think doing so would be wise.

But I want to add a discordant note. I do not in any way wish to undermine the significance of MPs’ fear. I wish to show no disrespect to the late Sir David Amess. But MPs are not the only people to know the reality of fear in the UK. Nor was his the only unnecessary, and so to be regretted, death on Friday.

The Treasury is reported to be trying to undermine planned green investment in the UK. There will be countless, especially younger people, who will be profoundly fearful as a result.

If your pensions are not spent according to my mad plan about windmills then this is exactly the same as an MP being stabbed to death while talking to his constituents.

Disagree and you’re a neoliberal!

Horrible, but

Four Russians found dead at Albanian resort

Sauna goes wrong, asphyxiation. Horrible.

And the immediate thing that popped into my mind was something entirely different. Yes, OK, Albania, Adriatic. Coastal Croatia is lovely just to the north, so is Corfu just south. Mountains and wine dark sea and all that, why not resorts?

And yet, I’m old enough to find this very jarring. All that commie and socialism stuff. Iron Curtain etc. And Albania was deranged even by the standards of that nonsense.

What, resorts in Albania? No, don’t be silly – ah, hmm, perhaps the world really has changed in this lifetime?


Our high commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, has, presumably on instructions from No 10, told the Aussies (big coal exporters) that they should be doing much more to cut their emissions; and that, if they didn’t, “that would not be acceptable”. For her pains Treadell has been described as “a sanctimonious bore” by what are described as “Australian government sources”. They went on to accuse the Queen’s representative of “repeatedly overstepping the mark on climate change by giving us lectures on what our sovereign domestic policy should be”.

High Commissioners are the reps for the government. Governors General are the reps for the Queen.


Well, yes, it is a grift

But what’s much more fun is the outrage:

Female Spanish thriller writer Carmen Mola revealed to be three men

And? Given that the entire field is about made up stories the problem is?

Beatriz Gimeno, a feminist, writer, activist – and former head of one of Spain’s national equality bodies, the Women’s Institute – attacked the men for creating a female persona in their publicity for Carmen Mola books, over several years.

“Quite apart from using a female pseudonym, these guys have spent years doing interviews. It’s not just the name – it’s the fake profile that they’ve used to take in readers and journalists. They are scammers,” she said on Twitter.

There goes the sound of a less successful writer screaming “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?”

Last year, a regional branch of the Women’s Institute recommended one of Mola’s works as part of a selection of books by female authors including Margaret Atwood that could “help us understand the reality and the experiences of women in different periods of history and contribute to raising awareness about rights and freedoms”.

Perhaps the correct reaction is to celebrate the manner in which at least some men are fully in touch with their feminine side.

Twitter might not be the problem

Social media companies ‘must do more’ to protect MPs from online hate
Matt Warman, a former digital minister, warns that more action is needed on anonymous accounts that abusers can hide behind

Knives in churches, that might be a problem. But shouting out bad names online possibly not.

Isn’t this a terror

Texas Senate passes bill requiring students to play on sports teams corresponding with biological sex

The reason we have sex based teams is because certain important to sport attributes of humans – muscle mass, lung capacity, bone structure – are sex determined. So, when determining who goes in which sex team we have to use sex as our marker.

This really isn’t one of those difficult distinctions to make now, is it?

Ah, yes

National Grid is forecasting a winter margin – the buffer between supply and peak demand – of 3.9GW, or 6.6pc, with a range of between 4.2pc and 8pc.

And what’s it going to be on a still few days with a nice high pressure area over the country?