August 2013

Strange country at times is Germany

Armed police in Germany launched a terrifying raid on a family’s home to seize their four children after they defied the country’s ban on home schooling.

A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools.

The youngsters were taken to unknown locations after officials allegedly ominously promised the parents that they would not be seeing them again ‘any time soon’.

Strange, strange, place.

American school lunches


Under the National School Lunch Program, participating schools must provide lunches — including free or reduced price lunches — with minimum amounts of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains. Also, in what presumably falls outside the hunger-free aspect of the act, there’s a calorie cap: 850 for high school lunches, 700 for middle schools and a mere 650 calories for kids in elementary school.


They’re trying to limit some teenage boy to 850 calories at lunch?


Have they entirely lost all of their senses?

She’s on strike because she can’t live on a part time job?

I’m sorry? What?

I’ve worked at fast-food restaurants in North Carolina for the past 15 years. I’ve spent more hours at Church’s Chicken, McDonald’s and now Burger King than I can remember. I work hard – I never miss a shift and always arrive on time. But today, I’m going on strike.

I make $7.85 at Burger King as a guest ambassador and team leader, where I train new employees on restaurant regulations and perform the manager’s duties in their absence. Before Burger King, I worked at Church’s for 12 years, starting at $6.30 and ending at just a little more than $8 an hour.

I’ve never walked off a job before. I don’t consider myself an activist, and I’ve never been involved with politics. I’m a mother with two sons, and like any mom knows, raising two teenage boys is tough. Raising them as a single mother, on less than $8 an hour, is nearly impossible, though.

My boys, Tramaine and Russell Jr are now 20 and 21 years old. When they were in middle and high school, I had to work two fast-food jobs to make ends meet. Most days, I would put them on the bus at 6:30am before working a 9 to 4 shift at one restaurant, then a 5-close shift at another. If I had a day off, I was at their schools, checking in with their teachers and making sure they were keeping up with their education. I wanted them, when they were grown-up, to not have to work two jobs.

My hours, like many of my coworkers, were cut this year, and I now work only 25 to 28 hours each week. I can’t afford to pay my bills working part time and making $7.85, and last month, I lost my house. Now, I go back and forth between staying with Russell Jr and Tramaine. I never imagined my life would be like this at this point. I successfully raised two boys, and now I’m forced to live out of their spare bedrooms. That’s why I’m on strike today.


BTW, the best bet about why her hours were cut: Obamacare.

People who work more than 30 (ish) hours a week have to be provided with health care insurance under the ACA, or the employer must pay a fine. Thus, anecdotally at least, many employers are cutting hours down to below 30.

But most seriously, look at what her complaint is. That she cannot live on the proceeds of a part time job therefore her pay should rise.

This is not, I submit, being serious about matters.

Guess who’s getting screwed by the Co Op?

Bondholders will be offered a minority shareholding in the Co-op Bank if they accept the terms of the rescue deal. But the Co-op warned yesterday that the newly-listed bank was unlikely to make a profit for several years.

Mr Taber said: “The Co-op has stated that the bank ‘will not be profitable for some years’, so presumably no prospect of a dividend on the ordinary shares they will be offering pensioners in exchange for their bonds for some years either. So how can their offer as announced to date be suitable for their pensioner investors?”

Yup, all those pensioners who held bonds in Britain’s most ethical bank, run as it was as a mutual, without any of that City trading and investment nonsense.

As Ritchie says:

The farce that the Coop was told recently that its board was not suitable to run a bank because it was not made up of bankers has to go: it’s precisely because people are not bankes that they may be suited to their new roles of making sure banks are clean, although competence will also be important too, of course.

Ethics really are more important than competence in that Courageous State

The decline of the umlaut

Many German firms have decided that the umlaut – the dotted accent added to the letters a, o, or u – is vexing for foreigners.

To make their products easier to find on search engines and pronounce on the phone, some companies have begun ditching it.

Actually, I think it’s email that is really doing it.

Working here in Bohemia and across the border in Saxony I’ve a number of people I correspond with who have umlauts in their name. But in their email addresses it’s always replaced with an e. So o-umlaut become oe and so on.

I’m not sure the exact reason: for all I know could be that the internet address system doesn’t recognise umlauts. Or could be a social thing. Dunno.

Where Jonah Goldberg goes wrong

But, of course, everyone is in favor of jobs and justice

I’m not. Justice, yes, although I’d very much prefer a tolerable administration of it to true and complete justice for each and every one of us.

But I hate jobs. Despise them, would wish that no one at all had to do them.

Because jobs are terrible, they’re a cost to us not a benefit. We know this because people have to bribe us with cash money to do them.

We all want to be able to consume, that’s entirely true. But none of us wants to have to work or do a job in order to do so. We do have to, this is true, but that job is the cost of our consumption, not a desirable thing in and of itself.

Hasn’t the Co Op done well this year?

The Co-operative Group has plunged to a £559m first-half loss as bad debts in its banking arm wiped out profits from its supermarkets.

The group said there would be no quick fixes as it embarked on a four-year turnaround plan, after reporting pre-tax losses of £709.4m in the Co-operative Bank in the six months to the end of June.

As Ritchie has said something must change:

The farce that the Coop was told recently that its board was not suitable to run a bank because it was not made up of bankers has to go: it’s precisely because people are not bankes that they may be suited to their new roles of making sure banks are clean, although competence will also be important too, of course.

Clearly we need many more of these oh so competent not bankers running the banks.

Richard Murphy Is resigning from the Tax Justice Network to spend more time with his family.

We have also now become aware that my involvement in TJN has caused some confusion between these focuses of attention and who is responsible for what work and that has not always been helpful. As such we’ve agreed that from now on I will have no formal role within the Tax Justice Network and will not speak for it in future.

That decision has also been precipitated by considerable demands on my time over the last few months that have arisen as a result of the serious illness of a close relative. As a result of those demands I have been advised that I should reduce my work commitments and have accepted that try as I might I have little choice but agree, and on reflection it is my involvement with the Tax Justice Network that has to go.

No, Greenland will not be a forest by 2100

Climate change could turn Greenland green by 2100

The world’s most sparsely populated country could be covered by swathes of forests instead of barren ice sheet, experts say

No, just no.

That ice sheet isn’t, even in the worst case scenarios, expected to go until 2500. And no, trees do not grow through ice sheets.

What the report actually says is that certain species of tree could survive is small areas of Greenland currently and if we went out and planted them there would be more by 2100.

“Greenland has .. the potential to become a lot greener,” said lead scientist Professor Jens-Christian Svenning, from Aarhus University in Denmark. “Forest like the coastal coniferous forests in today’s Alaska and western Canada will be able to thrive in fairly large parts of Greenland, for example, with trees like sitka spruce and lodgepole pine.

“It will provide new opportunities for the Greenlanders.”

The research showed that with expected levels of warming a majority of 44 species of North American and European trees and bushes will be able to thrive in Greenland.

Many species could already flourish in Greenland today, according to the analysis published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

A certain difference between headline and report there.

On the vital subject of Miley Cyrus’ twerking

I admit, I had to go and look up what twerking meant. And I just about know who Miley Cyrus is. The fictional alter ego of the daughter of that bloke who brought us Achey Breaky Heart.

There seems to be some complaint about Miley doing this sexually suggestive dancing stuff called twerking. And I’m afraid that I really, really, do not get it. The woman’s 20 years old. She’s supposed to be doing sexually suggestive dancing. That’s what human beings do at that age.


Err, no, she ain’t

A woman has furnished her £1million home for free by renovating items thrown away by other families.


Renovating means spending time doing so. Your time is worth money: thus expenditure of your time in renovation is the price you pay for such furnishings.

It ain’t free.

Might be cheap, cool, a lovely idea, self-expression, whatever, but it ain’t free.

That Michael Meacher program

It’s the Bennite program without the wit or intelligence.

The banks remain largely unreformed and still mainly invest in property, overseas speculation, tax avoidance and financial derivatives rather than in UK industry. There has been no manufacturing revival and last year imports of traded goods exceeded exports by £106bn which is simply unsustainable.

Yes, and at least part of that traded goods deficit is paid for by the services exports of The City in overseas speculation and serving the financial needs of foreigners.

This can be paid for without any increase in public spending at all. Either a new round of quantitative easing could be targeted not at the banks, but directly into industrial investment, in consultation with business leaders and service providers.

You can see the baleful ideas of Ritchie here.

Or the mega-rich – just 1,000 richest British individuals have increased their wealth in the last 4 years by a staggering £190 billions according to the Rich List – could be charged capital gains tax on the increased value of their assets, which would be enough to generate more than a million jobs in two years.

And that’s particularly good. So we’re going to tax the people who have profited from employing people in order to encourage people to employ people?

I have a feeling that incentives don’t work in quite that manner.

The basis of the British economy remains highly dysfunctional, with an over-dominant City finance sector counterpoised by a shrivelled manufacturing sector.

The City is about 4% of the UK economy. Manufacturing is 12% or so. Eh?

The control of the money supply and hence of the direction of economic development, which has been franchised to the big five private banks over the past 30 years, needs to be brought back into public policy to ensure that primacy is given to manufacturing and exports over consumption.

That’s the MMT nutters like Anne Pettifor (and Ritchie of course).

Yet the only long-term sustainable future for the British economy is through a major expansion of hi-tech manufacturing tapping into the creative skills and inventiveness at which this country excels.

But he’s been talking about creating jobs! And the one thing we know about high tech manufacturing is that it doesn’t produce many jobs. There’s another point here as well. Manufacturing what in this high tech manner? We’ve the brightest minds of our generation all sitting over in Silicon Valley and trying to work out what should be that next high tech manufacture. They become billionaires if they get it right too. Most of them still get it wrong of course. And so who is to decide what will be manufactured here? In this wondrously high tech manner? Ann, Michael and Ritchie are going to knock up a few product designs over the herbal tea are they?

The man’s acting as fly paper for every bad idea about economic planning doing the rounds.