January 2016

Not something I’d really thought about

The University of California has acknowledged that its negligence was a substantial factor in the death of former California football player Ted Agu.

The 21-year-old defensive lineman from Bakersfield died nearly two years ago after a strenuous team workout. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing that Agu had sickle cell trait and should not have been put through an exercise in which players sprinted up and down a hill while holding a rope together.

Given the degree to which African American descent is from West Africa and the subsequent mixing of genes all over the place the US must be one of the few wealthy countries where sickle cell is a significant (as opposed to a distinctly minority, it’s always significant for those who have it) health danger in this manner.

Just never really thought about it before.

I mean we could write this story the other way around, parts of America are still driving unpaid young black men to their deaths through overwork. But that would be unkind.

Corey Robin sure is strange

But for me, it’s as vivid as yesterday. I still remember Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg’s American Prospect article (reposted in 2005), which claimed that the Democrats were “too identified with minorities and special interests to speak for average Americans.” Black people not being average Americans, you see.


African Americans are the largest racial minority, amounting to 13.2% of the population.

No, maybe not average then.

Ritchie on corporation tax

First, let me be clear that corporation tax is charged on profits. I am well aware that there are those get this wrong. And there are also those who like to say that the charge is passed on to the customers or the employees of companies. I think the evidence for that is remarkably weak: if the tax charge could be got rid of so easily then I have no doubt at all that much less effort would be put into avoiding it.

Sigh. No one says that the tax charge is “got rid of” nor passed on. We say that the effect of the changed behaviour that the tax induces leads to the economic burden of the tax being split in some manner between capital and labour. The capital in the firms being taxed, the labour in the economy taxing the economy.

What portion is a matter for (vigorous) debate. That it is so divided is not something disproven by the vague musings of 0.2 of a professor.

And of course if his assertion is true, that corporate taxation really is paid only by capital, then we can abolish corporate taxation and just tax investors’ incomes instead. Job done.

Odd that he won’t support that either.

So, I was right then

But HMRC and Google’s lawyers were unsure whether the diverted profits tax would apply to its UK operations. In the end, they decided it did not. The company also did not have to concede that Google’s Irish business had a “permanent establishment” — a taxable presence — in the UK. After its lengthy audit, HMRC ran its numbers and found Google owed just £130m.

That’s what it owes under the law as it is. No sweetheart deal.

Do Mail journos read the Mail?

It’s been dubbed the ‘pink tax’: an inexplicable mark-up in pricing which sees women paying a premium on the same products as men, whether it’s plain cotton T-shirts, pens, razors, designer perfume or even just shower gel.
After a recent investigation found that the average price difference between men and women’s products is around 36 per cent, the debate has been thrust into public spotlight once more.
And now a petition has been launched, urging the executive vice president of Boots, Simon Roberts, to ‘charge women fairly’ when it comes to like-for-like products.

OK. And why do women get charged more?

One is a luxury brand that costs a hair-raising £119 and boasts the ability to ‘transform’ women’s locks, ordaining them with the glamour of Russian royalty.
The other is a bargain product sold at a budget supermarket for just 75p and simply promises to leave you with shiny, supple hair.
But when Britain’s most expensive shampoo and conditioner went head to head with the cheapest in a blind test – which came out on top?
In an experiment conducted by The Mail on Sunday, ten women were asked to replace their usual haircare products with alternative brands. Half of the group were given Cien Provitamin 300ml shampoo and conditioner from Lidl.
The other half were given the ultra-chic Philip B Russian Amber Imperial brand, which at £119 for a single pot of shampoo and the same price for the conditioner is the costliest haircare product on the British High Street.
The testers didn’t know which they were using.

After three weeks, our volunteers were asked to rate the shampoo out of five on the product’s appearance and consistency, how much they liked the scent, how it lathered when applied to the hair, and its efficacy at cleaning the hair. Conditioner was scored on appearance, consistency, scent, and how well it detangled hair.
The results showed that the cheaper shampoo outclassed its more expensive rival, scoring 88 out of a possible 125 compared to Philip B’s 66. Out of 25, Lidl scored 16 for lather while Philip B scored just seven; 18 for appearance to Philip B’s 13; and 18 on consistency compared to Philip B’s eight.
Philip B scored marginally better on scent and efficacy, with 19 in both categories compared to Lidl’s 18.
For the conditioner, Lidl proved the winner again, scoring 72 out of 100 overall compared to 69 for Philip B.

Because women will pay more.

Case closed.

And Andrew Rawnsley is an idiot

The anti-avoidance measures agreed last year by the OECD need to be strengthened and implemented with more urgency. At the heart of tax avoidance by mega companies is the continued exploitation of tax havens. Apple has $200bn salted away offshore. Google has more than $40bn, the bulk of it stuffed in its Bermudan piggy bank.

The point being that this isn’t a feature of the European tax systems, nor even of the tax havens. This is purely a feature of the American tax system. The American corporate income tax is only applied on the repatriation of those profits. If the US even had something like the CFC rules then it just wouldn’t be happening.

This isn’t about our law, it’s about their, something we have no control over.

And which language is this in?

No peeking now:

“That funny moment when your walking into the servo and a unidentifiable car shows up, they broke into oportos, while they were in there I stole the keys to the car. Waited for them to run out. The passenger jumped into the car so I punched the **** out of the junkie and they ran off. I chased them but because I’m fat they got away haha.”

Stubbies and singlets party? That sort of gives it away really.

I’m sure he will end up with a “real” Messi shirt

And yet there’s something rather more lovely about his one made from a plastic bag.

“I love Messi, he plays well, the shirt was made by my brother and I liked it very much,” he said after being tracked down by the AFP news agency.

If this really is Sir Pterry’s universe then an ageing Messi will, in one of his last games for Argentina, face a young Murtaza Ahmadi playing for Afghanistan. But alas it is not that world at all, we may well be Pan Narrans but it does not run on narrativium. Million to one shots are not sure things in our version.

Who’s going to be on the fucking profit committee?

From the comments:

I happen to do a little work for a company started by a South African (now a billionaire, but had fuck all but brains when he started). He bought a British company and pitched up at a board meeting (chaired by a peer) where they were discussing which particular knob should be on the ethics committee or the audit committee. His contribution was “who’s going to be on the fucking profit committee?”

Important question that one really.

What a stunning surprise, eh?

Of all the voters who might be expected to resist the charms of Donald J. Trump, the two million members of the Service Employees International Union would most likely be near the top of the list.

The union, which endorsed Hillary Clinton in November, is widely regarded as one of the more progressive in the labor movement. It skews female and racially diverse — roughly the opposite of a Trump rally, in other words.

But the union’s president, Mary Kay Henry, acknowledged that Mr. Trump holds appeal even for some of her members. “There is deep economic anxiety among our members and the people we’re trying to organize that I believe Donald Trump’s message is tapping into,” Ms. Henry said.

In expressing her concern, Ms. Henry reflected a different form of anxiety that is weighing on some union leaders and Democratic operatives: their fear that Mr. Trump, if not effectively countered, may draw an unusually large number of union voters in a possible general election matchup. This could, in turn, bolster Republicans in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which President Obama won twice.

Astonishing. Union leaders and union members may not actually have the same political views.

Who would have thought it?

Genius thinks his time is worth £1 an hour



‘They were debating me! It was crazy. Everyone was clapping,’ he says, all pink and pleased. The reason? He’d posted a blog on a savings advice website in which he explained how he had made a journey from Sheffield (where he’d been advising members of a local WI group how to save money on their supermarket bill) to his home town, Shenfield in Essex.
Rather than go direct, he took a 1,017-mile detour via Berlin. It meant a day’s more travel — but it cost him £7.72 less than the train equivalent.

And here’s an ignorant tosser then

I’m sure your readers will have picked up that the 3% tax that Google has apparently paid is the usual extractive industries rate paid to developing countries for their exploitation of those countries’ natural resources. That pretty well sums up Osborne’s vision for Britain: a developing country with low-paid wage serfs – how else do you describe someone on a zero hours, minimum wage contract; and with all the profits flowing to multinationals or a tiny, self-perpetuating elite. Have we really got to wait five years to throw the scoundrels out?
Simon Diggins
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

The 3% is not a portion of profits: it’s a portion of sales. But over and above that the average pay to Google’s UK employees is apparently £160k a year.

Low-paid wage serfs, eh?

Well, no actually Jonathan

For if Google gets the right to decide how much tax it wants to pay and when, that’s partly because it enjoys an extraordinarily close relationship with government.

That’s Freedland getting the wrong end of the stick again.

What determines how much tax Google pays is the law. As enacted by Parliament and those they have delegated that power to (both international tax treaties and the EU being relevant here). And that law says that sales from an Irish company into Britain are taxable in Ireland. And that’s that, the end.

State investment funds, such a good idea

For the state employees who run them of course:

Swiss prosecutors on Friday requested assistance from Malaysian authorities in investigating massive theft from a state-owned firm at the centre of a graft scandal.

Swiss investigators said they believed around US$4bn had been stolen from Malaysian state-owned companies, funding that was earmarked for economic and social development projects in Malaysia.

That’s following on from the news that the $600 million which popped up in the Prime Minister’s accounts were in fact a gift from people in the Gulf.


State backed investment funds, just such a good idea.

God, the Guardian just doesn’t understand money, does it?

Bowie sold 140m records during a career spanning more than half a century, and also made an estimated $55m from selling so-called “Bowie bonds” – basically turning his royalties into financial instruments.

You don’t “make money” by issuing bonds. You’re borrowing money. That statement is akin to saying that taking out an overdraft is you making money. Just nonsense.

It’s worrying when one of the major newspapers in the country is so ignorant, isn’t it?