December 2011

Not the result that I would want

Sarko will lose the presidency to a socialist no one has ever heard of, who will beat Marine le Pen by less than 5% of the (low turn out) popular vote in the run off;

No. The result I would want is for Marine Le Pen to win the presidency.

No, not because I\’m some ghastly Poujadist, racist or in love with women named after military forces.

On the same grounds that I wanted Obama to become President of the US actually.

I didn\’t think he\’d be any good as President (and how right I was!) and I seriously doubt that she would be a good President of France either.

However, having a black man as President of the United States seriously pissed off a large number of people I think should be pissed off. And Marine Le Pen as President of France would seriously piss off a large, if different, group of people I think should be pissed off. Namely, every single correct thinker anywhere to the left of Genghis Khan.

I just think that it will be so amusing to watch the explodey heads of the entire political, journalistic, third sector, academic and generally right on classes.

Would it be champagne or camembert that they would agree to boycott?

The truth about Gerald Ronson\’s CBE

Gerald Ronson, the veteran tycoon jailed for his part in one of Britain\’s best-known stock market scandals as one of the \”Guinness Four\”, is among those recognised in the New Year honours list.

Ronson, who claims to have pioneered self-service petrol stations, served six months after his conviction in 1990 for involvement in a share-trading scandal. Once out of prison he embarked on a concerted campaign to clear his name, rebuilt his business empire, and devoted money and time to charity work, for which he is now awarded a CBE.

Yup, naughty boy.

Ronson\’s honour follows £30m in donations to organisations such as the NSPCC and the Prince\’s Trust as well as work with Great Ormond Street Hospital.

If it weren\’t for the conviction that C would be a K.

So it\’s not that \”Oh my, a convicted criminal has got a gong\”, it\’s that he\’s only got a CBE for what would have garnered anyone else a KBE.

That burning Russian submarine

You do have to slightly wonder about things in Russia, even now.

Fire brigades are still struggling to put out the fire which quickly engulfed the submarine\’s rubber-coated outer hull.

OK, nuclear sub, missiles, rubber coating on hull, all terribly advanced technology.

Russia\’s Defence Ministry said there has been no radiation leak from the fire, which began last night on wooden scaffolding.

Err, what? Propping up a billion or more\’s worth of technology with wooden scaffolding?

Ah, but you\’ve missed the point my lovely

She added: \”This \’sexualisation\’ process objectifies women and girls, and grooms boys and men into thinking it is acceptable to view and treat women and girls as sex objects. This portrayal of women is incompatible with a socially responsible press.\”

We do not want a socially responsible press. We want a free press.

As free of my prejudices about what makes a socially responsible press as it is from your.

Train ticket prices

Travelling in London is nearly three and a half times more expensive than Paris and 10 times dearer than in Rome, according to research by the Campaign for Better Transport.

With successive Governments in Britain allowing fares to rise faster than inflation, the gap has also been widening in recent years.

OK. Simple, factual, information, we like that in these sorts of handwaving reports.

“In many other countries, the state chooses to subsidise the railways more heavily than in Britain. In this country, the long-standing government approach to sustain investment in the railways is to cut the contribution from taxpayers and increase the share paid by passengers.”

Also true.

Now there is an argument in favour of some (note, some) taxpayer subsidy of the commuter railways in and around London. The place simply wouldn\’t work without them, there are, or would be, horrible externalities from everyone trying to get in by car etc.

There\’s also an argument against them. Without them we\’d almost certainly see a reduction in the importance of London in the national economy as some business that must be done in cities spread itself around the other cities of the country. And yes, one of the interesting structural features of the UK economy (too much to call it a \”problem\” but you will note that many do in fact call London\’s dominance a problem, one that would be reduced by reducing these subsidies) is that London looms larger in it than most other capital cities of most other European nations do.

That\’s the argument in favour of some subsidies. But what level should those subsidies be (and note, there is no argument at all, no, not even about carbon emissions, for the subsidy of intercity lines)?

More than others? Less than other European capitals? Well, actually, the argument about the right level of subsidies is sweet FA to do with what anyone else is doing. Actually, it\’s about, what level of costs are we avoiding by using rail to commute and what\’s the minimum subsidy we can get away with to avoid those costs?

For, do note, the \”subsidy\” is actually taxes paid by someone on Lewis (nearest railway some tens if not hundreds of miles), in Mousehole (still waiting for the 18 th century and trains to arrive) and Twerton (local station closed in mid-70s).

How much should all of these people be paying to make London work? No, I don\’t know the exact answer either but it\’s got bugger all to do with what the people of Messina pay to make Rome work, Marseilles to make Paris, does it?

You know those booze admissions figures?

You know, million peeps turning up at A&E each year with booze related injuries?

Well, yes, it\’s not booze related injuries, not A&E and it\’s most certainly not patients. It\’s admissions.

The number of NHS patients who have to undergo emergency readmission to hospital within a month of being discharged has increased by more than three quarters in the last decade, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Now, the NHS sending people away and then bringing them back in, this might actually be a very good idea. Hospitals are,. afer all, very dangerous places and doctors, nurses, hospital and medical treatment (so called \”iatrogenic\” causes) one of the leading causes of death.

But leave that aside and consider just the idea that we\’ve these more readmissions. That makes the number of admissions for alcohol related diseases go up. Because we are not counting \”came in glassed having got boozed up\”, we\’re counting \”came in for this, that\’s 0.3 of an alcohol related admission\”.

And note that in our booze related admission figures we are not told that the portion of all admissions has gone up. No, we\’re told that the actual number has gone up. Without being told that readmissions are up 75%, that total admissions are up 40%.

We\’re being lied to in short. The bastards.

The UK has the most progressive income tax system in the G-8

I\’m sure that this is something that will surprise many. The UK actually has the most progressive income tax system among the G-8 economies.

You can also get some interesting information about progressivity from the two charts. A rough measure of that is the difference in the (average) tax rate shown on the two charts. A bigger difference shows a more progressive tax system:

  • U.K.: 22.3%
  • Italy: 21.1%
  • America: 20.7%
  • Canada: 20.1%
  • Japan: 18.8%
  • Germany: 16.6%
  • France: 16.2%
  • Russia: 0%

Not surprisingly, England tops the list: that’s why all their rock, movie, and sports stars live in other countries.

Leave aside the Yank\’s inability to distinguish between the UK and England (although damn, this one should know better, he used to busk on the London Underground).

The difference in average tax rate between low earners and high earners is higher in the UK than in the other countries. We have a more progressive income tax system.

Doesn\’t seem to do us all that much good on the inequality front though, does it? So, err, maybe a progressive income tax isn\’t the solution to income inequality?

Natalie Solent proved right about blogging yet again

This was and is Ms. Solent\’s point about the whole thing.

Mr Sumner’s blog not only revealed his market monetarism to the world at large (“I cannot go anywhere in the world of economics…without hearing his name,” says Mr Cowen). It also drew together like-minded economists, many of them at small schools some distance from the centre of the economic universe, who did not realise there were other people thinking the same way they did. They had no institutional home, no critical mass. The blogs provided one.

Ms. Solent made the observation some 6 or 7 years ago. Nice to see that The Economist has caught up.

As an aside about the magazine itself. I used to read it religiously, cover to cover. Up until, hmm, about 2007, 2008. For before that it was an excellent wide ranging review of what was happening in odd parts of the world, often a very good guide to what was going to happen.

Since then it\’s been rather a non-interesting roundup of what I\’ve already read that week. Perhaps not of the actual pieces I\’ve already read (although you can sometimes spot exactly where an idea has come from) but of the general news I\’ve already seen online.

Just to make clear, this harrumph about the magazine is nothing to do with Ryan Avent getting Megan McArdle\’s job blogging for them even though I tried out for it (and not even never being told sweet FA by the editor about whether or why I hadn\’t got the job, very bad form that).

Nope, nothing at all……

We\’ve been doing what?

The Department for Education is lifting restrictions that force schools in England to charge the same price for the same item for every pupil, in order to allow them to offer price promotions.

I\’m sorry? What?

We\’ve had the central government in a country of 65 million people determining the school lunch pricing policies of 25,000 different schools?

No, I\’m sorry, there\’s nothing for it but this, doesn\’t matter that they\’ve now lifted this regulation at all, it\’s the fact that it ever existed which is the problem. We must hunt down whoever is responsible for this (yes, even if it was St. Maggie when she was Education Sec), stake them in the heart, cut off their head, stick a lemon between their teeth and bury the quartered body at a variety of widely separated crossroads.

Then we must comb the books for anything else so extravagantly stupid. And kill those who would defend, propose or implement such rules.

That there will be only the occasional politician or bureaucrat left is just one of those pleasures we shall have to bear in pursuit of a better world.

French politicians ignorant fuckwit froggies

That\’s not quite how Martin Feldstein puts it but it is what he means:

The French government just doesn’t seem to understand the real implications of the euro, the single currency that France shares with 16 other European Union countries.

French officials have now reacted to the prospect of a credit rating downgrade by lashing out at Britain. The head of the central bank, Christian Noyer, has argued that the rating agencies should begin by downgrading Britain. The finance minister, Francois Baroin, recently declared that, “You’d rather be French than British in economic terms.” And even the French Prime minister, Francois Fillar, noted that Britain had higher debt and larger deficits than France.

French officials apparently don’t recognize the importance of the fact that Britain is outside the eurozone, and therefore has its own currency, which means that there is no risk that Britain will default on its debt. When interest and principal on British government debt come due, the British government can always create additional pounds to meet those obligations. By contrast, the French government and the French central bank cannot create euros.

Just further proof that there hasn\’t been a Frenchman who understands economics since Frederic Bastiat and he died in 1850.

Anyone know anything about catalysts?

This is probably one of those questions so stupid that those who know what they\’re talking about will laugh.

However. CH4. Methane.

I know that it\’s possible to strip the C out using a catalyst. However, I have a feeling that it comes out as CO or CO2.

Which, if you were trying to generate energy isn\’t so bad, if you get CO you can burn that to get CO2 in a nicely exothermic reaction. And you\’ve H2 to burn, run through a fuel cell, whatever.

However, if you were trying to get rid of the CO2, not create it, you\’d much rather you got C, say as soot.

So, the question is, is there any way of stripping, reformulating, the CH4 into C plus H2s? So that you\’ve solid C which can then be disposed of?

Bleedin\’ Idiots

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act makes it a criminal offence, punishable by fines of up to £20,000, to sell London 2012 tickets on the black market.

Dear Lord, are they really that damn stupid?

Ticket touts appear because the official price of the ticket is different from the market clearing price of the same ticket.

The only way you don\’t get touts is if the bureaucrats, miraculously, have managed to set the price at the market clearing price.

And of course, we\’ve got the finest, cleverest, most courageous, bureaucrats in the world so of course they\’ve set prices at the market clearing price, haven\’t they?

Snort. The very fact that they\’ve imposed this legislation means that they know they\’ve fucked up, doesn\’t it?

Erm, Hellooo, Guardian? Knock, knock, anybody home?

Given the (apparent) largesse of the German taxpayer to the Irish in terms of the financial bailout, perhaps it\’s the least Ireland can do, to send two of its most famous sons to the Federal Republic to say thank you to the kind citizens of Stuttgart, Munich and Berlin for all those euros being repatriated to Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Ignorant twattery.

The money flow is the other way. The German banks lent too much to Ireland….even to the point of setting up a German bank under an Irish nameplate so as to lend lots to all sorts of dodgy characters all over the world.

The Irish government, in the single biggest mistake of the whole crisis, then guaranteed all of those loans from Germany to Irish banks. And are gouging the Irish citizenry to pay it all back.

The Irish are being impoverished to save the German banking system, not the other way around.