October 2015

So, a thing about Bevin Boys

As regular readers will know I’ve long been of the opinion that conscription is slavery. And if a society can’t find enough volunteers to fight for it then that society doesn’t have much of a right to exist.

Which brings me to Bevin Boys. For some years (I think, maybe 4) those who were conscripted could be sent off to the coal mines. Bevin himself, I’m told, would pluck a number from a hat. And thus, weekly, those whose number ended in 08, 02, 03, dependent upon the number plucked, would, as part of that week’s conscription intake be sent off to the mines, not to the Army (the only armed service where conscription was a major feature of intake, at least in peacetime years).

And so there’s a bit I want to try and get my head around. Given that it’s conscription, and those plucked from the hat have to go off to some mine somewhere, how were they allocated? And how housed? And were they paid normal miners’ wages?

If it really was that lottery, so how was some 18 year old from Dorset set up with a mine job in Durham? And fed, lodged, trained and so on?

And the really important bit I’d like to know is what happened when someone said “Fuck You!”?

Sure, the Army’s got sergeants, jankers, jail cells. Coal mines don’t. So, no one could not turn up, because the police would arrest them, but how did they make sure that conscripts actually do anything? No, not going down the shaft. Or, if forced, not shovelling coal? What was the enforcement mechanism?

Anyone know?

So, this Title III

Here’s the rough guide to the SEC’s rules. The important bit from my point of view:

Certain companies would not be eligible to use the crowdfunding exemption. Ineligible companies include non-U.S. companies, companies that already are SEC reporting companies, certain investment companies, companies that are disqualified under the proposed disqualification rules, companies that have failed to comply with the annual reporting requirements in the proposed rules, and companies that have no specific business plan or have indicated their business plan is to engage in a merger or acquisition with an unidentified company or companies.

A US company that raises money to invest in European software start ups. Allowable or not? Or is that an investment company or one not providing a detailed enough plan?

Valenti again

In the new (and pretty fantastic) book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there’s a whole lot to love about the supreme court justice turned cultural icon. The dissents. The collar. The push-ups. For me, though, what was truly wonderful was learning about RBG’s husband Marty, who has famously said: “I think that the most important thing I have done is enable Ruth to do what she has done.”

And feminist hearts the world over swooned.

Declaring your most important achievement as what you have done for your partner or children is common enough among women. How many times have we listened as a woman says her most valued role is that of mother, or that raising children or being a housewife is the most important job in the world?

But for men, who are taught that personal and professional successes trump achievements within the home, attaching your self-worth to family life is something much rarer. (And much more needed.)

Hmm, so what did Marty Ginsburg then?

After graduating from law school in 1958, Ginsburg joined the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges. He was subsequently admitted to the bar in New York in 1959 and in the District of Columbia in 1980.[2]

Ginsburg taught at New York University Law School throughout the 1960s,[3] and was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School (1977–1978),[1] Harvard Law School (1985–1986), University of Chicago Law School (1989–1990), and at NYU (1992–1993).[8] He was a tenured professor at Columbia Law School (Beekman Professor of Law) from 1979 to 1980, and at Georgetown from 1980 until his death in 2010.[1][9]

In 1971, Ginsburg’s firm represented H. Ross Perot in a business matter, and the two men became close friends. After President Jimmy Carter nominated his wife to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980, Ginsburg reached out to Perot and other influential friends to assure her Senate confirmation.[1] In 1984, Ginsburg resolved complex tax questions that threatened General Motors’s acquisition of Perot’s Electronic Data Systems. In 1986, Perot endowed the Martin Ginsburg chair in taxation at Georgetown Law Center, although Ginsburg never filled this appointment

That’s not exactly someone who put their life on hold for their partner now, is it?

Men who stay at home to take care of children may be admired in ways that women never are, but they’re also derided for not being traditional breadwinners. Men who care for their children are asked if they’re “babysitting” rather than parenting, and men who put their wives’ careers first are given the side eye and asked if they’re “whipped”.

So to those men who buck tradition – to men like my husband – I say: thank you. Not just from the women in your life who you are helping, but to the women and men you don’t know – you’re helping them too. Because the more we see men taking on supportive domestic roles, the more the culture will accept it. The more common it will become, and the less thanks like this we’ll have to give.

And if you’re one of these men and feeling unsure about your decision or feeling attacked by a society that would rather see you bring home the bacon than help your wife cook hers, remember Marty Ginsburg, husband of Ruth.

But it doesn’t look like Marty actually did, does it?

It’s entirely true that he moved to DC when she was appointed to the Court of Appeals. But moving to a tenured professorship at Georgetown isn’t all that much of a sacrifice.


Richard Murphy says:
October 30 2015 at 6:40 pm
I can see no reason at all why tax encourages entrepreneurship

So the entire relief in my view is wasted


Head banging keyboard.

Richard Murphy says:
October 30 2015 at 1:39 pm
To pretend this has something to do with risk is absurd

Because most entrepreneurial risks actually lose money? Because we like people innovating? Because that’s the way technology advances, as with productivity, new entrants to the marketplace?

Hell, optimal taxation theory says the correct CGT rate is 0%.

Hoorah for Kevin Farnsworth!

The basic strategy for most corporate tax avoidance is simple: TNCs seek to design their businesses so that they pay as much income as possible in countries where taxes are low and as many costs as possible in jurisdictions where the statutory tax rate is high.

I think that’s probably collect as much income just to give a slight hint to our sociologist who is trying to understand economics and accountancy.

And is is just great:

The ability of firms to interpret tax rules creatively also reflects the imbalance of resources between accountancy firms and tax authorities. In 2009, the four major accountancy firms alone employed nearly 9,000 people and earned £2 billion in the UK and as much as US$25 billion globally from their tax work; an estimated 50% of their fees now come from “commercial tax planning” and “artificial avoidance schemes”. In 2012, HMRC reported that it had 1,200 staff overseeing 783 large businesses, in respect of which £25 billion in tax was potentially outstanding. There are now around four times as many staff working for the accountancy firms on transfer pricing alone. And even where companies have been accused by HMRC of having underpaid taxes, the outcome has tended to be a negotiated settlement – an unequal process given the different resources available to the two sides and governments’ need to create a pro-business environment.

HMRC still has 50k people and the British government has some £700 billion a year at its command. What imbalance of power was that? Including the fact that the government has all of the people with all of the guns?

Oh well done Ritchie!

And how was that money stolen? In part as a consequence of using the anonymity provided by the UK’s unaccountable system of corporate law and company registration.

No, Moldova’s money was not stolen using a UK company.

One of the companies registered at the address is Fortuna United LP, the UK partnership

You know, like Tax Research UK is a partnership?


The important part being the retweet:

George Soros Retweeted
360WiseCountry ‏@360WiseCountry 1h1 hour ago
#360WiseNews : India Aims To Reform The Most Important Part Of A Capitalist Economy: Bankruptcy http://ow.ly/36vvQA

Well, that’s the ego done for the day.

Why do deaf people need a sign language version of a document?

EHRC report out today:

What formats are available?
The full report is available in PDF and
Microsoft Word formats in English. An
executive summary of the report is available
in English (PDF and Word), Welsh (PDF
and Word), Easy Read (PDF) and British
Sign Language (digital video) formats.
All of the above may be found at

Well, OK, speaking only Welsh is a disability so why not. And easy read for those having problems with eyesight. And I could imagine a spoken version for the blind if you want to go that far (although there’s plenty of programs that can do that automatically, aren’t there?).

But why in buggery do deaf people need a sign language version of a written document?

Unless, of course, someone’s niece is a sign language interpreter.

I get a one star review!

Thanks to David S for flagging this up:

By Graeme P Maxton
This review is from: The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of minerals and metals (Kindle Edition)
Nice idea, and good attention seeking. But also wrong, and not just because it falsely claims that ‘every generation runs out of mineral reserves’. The central premise is also flawed. The Club of Rome did not say we would run out of resources in The Limits to Growth (it is only the internet conspiracy theories that say this). The Club of Rome did not say we will run out of anything. It said, and says, that we are using SOME of the world’s resources too quickly for this to be sustainable for future generations and that the quality of what remains will gradually decline while the price (and energy required) to access them will rise. We will have to spend progressively more on some raw materials, in other words, leaving us less to spend on consumption. (I write this as the Secretary General of the Club of Rome).

He doesn’t seem to have read the book very closely really.

Err, yes, you are female

One Twitter user told me that “you have a working reproductive system so you are a woman”.

Umm, yes, I’d say that working ovaries, womb, fallopian tubes, they’re a pretty good indication of being a woman.

That you wish to be socially regarded as male is no problem at all. As a matter of politesse we might even run with it. But it’s not changing that underlying reality at all.

Just as calling a politician the Hon. is politesse, not a reflection of the underlying reality.

The trolls and naysayers can’t have it both ways. The bigoted arguments for denying Jenner a women’s award – namely that she was assigned male at birth

Anyone can give anyone they want to an award. But someone whose balls have created 5 (or is it 6?) children is male. Again, politesse, but that underlying reality ain’t changed.

Calling for a new species

The Guardian:

Instead of constantly putting manhood under perceived threat, we must rethink the concept entirely, and maybe – to be so daring – throw it out. Because we have centuries of war, of pillaging, of violence that show us that manhood was never in crisis, but always was central to this mayhem. So we may need to just rebuild everything with the whole concept of manhood excluded.


The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Seriously worrying this

Russians are an entrepreneurial lot. They’ve had to be over the decades.

People seeking asylum in Norway have taken to using bicycles to cross the border from Russia because pedestrian traffic is banned and drivers of vehicles are fined if they carry passengers across without the proper documents.

The numbers making that journey, many of them Syrians fleeing civil war, have increased dramatically in the last few weeks after governments in southern Europe cracked down on people trying to enter by that route.

More than 500 would-be asylum seekers have gathered in the Russian town of Nickel, the nearest big settlement to the border post, now they cannot cross into Norway.

“There are more than 500 of the Syrians here. They are continuing to flow into Nickel,” said a Reuters source in the town.

“The local shops are empty of bicycles. No bus or taxi will take the Syrians to Norway because they do not have valid visas and the drivers would be fined by the Norwegians and stripped of their permits to work on international routes.”

Seriously, there should be someone:

“Sergei, go steal 300 bicycles”

“What? Vova, have you lost your mind?”

“Da, go steal 300, 500 kiddie’s bikes. Get them up here, I can sell each one for 60,000 roubles”.

“OK, I’ll tell the boys. Alexi has a truck….”.

And why isn’t someone collecting those discarded rubber boats on Lesbos and reselling them in Turkey?

Guardian headlines we don’t understand

The threat to the Margaret Pyke Centre is a threat to women’s equality

We tend to think that the absence of a Geoffrey Pyke Centre tells us rather a lot about women’s equality.

And as for equality more generally:

She was also a member of the British Eugenics Society. Among other publications and articles, she wrote “Crypto Eugenics in The Empire” and “Family Planning: An Assessment” (extracted from The Eugenics Review, Vol 55 No 2, July 1963, Publication Date: 1963).


Telegraph’s SEO

Another winner:

When is the Autumn Statement?
Chancellor George Osborne will announce the Autumn Statement on November 25

So, “autumn statement” is twice in the URL itself.

Then in the headline and the sub-headline.

“Autumn statement” also appears in the photo caption.

And then, in the piece: The Autumn Statement ….The Autumn Statement’s…The Autumn Statement…..the Autumn Statement….the Autumn Statement….the Autumn Statement…The Autumn Statement….the Autumn Statement….the Autumn Statement….the Autumn Statement

We might think that’s overdoing the SEO a bit but it’s on the front page of google.co.uk results. Two positions below their extremely similar piece, written by the same economics correspondent, of autumn 2014.

My, isn’t Peter Spence living an exciting life writing about economics for the Telegraph?

Car security

Many cars use radio frequency identification chips which are designed to verify the identity of the ignition key being used to start the car engine. If thieves get into the vehicle without the right key, the engine should refuse to start.
However, it is possible electronically to listen to signals sent between the security system and the key fob via a computer programme to analyse and emulate it. Once this is done, it is possible to unmask the vehicle’s secret code very quickly and start the engine.
According to Traqueur, French leader in detecting and recovering stolen cars, some 74 per cent of the cars stolen in the first four months of this year were swiped electronically.

Did the manufacturers seriously do that?

Set the system up so that the car itself actually broadcasts its own secret signal?