Amanduh tackles effective demand

And the result ain’t pretty:

If the goal is to help working people do better — as opposed to helping rich people buy diamond-encrusted water bowls for their dogs — then it’s critical to keep fully funding programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.

“When you give people money to spend on food or to go out to get health care, then that money is directly being spent on the economy,” explained Kate Bahn, an economist for the Center for American Progress, in a phone conversation.

Conservatives have long argued for “trickle-down” economics, saying that hefty tax cuts for the rich will lead to more investment and more jobs. Instead, it tends to lead to more conspicuous and gratuitous consumption.

But it’s still consumption, isn’t it honey? Which affects demand the same way…..

“In reality, economic growth in the United States since World War II has tended to be greater in times with relatively high top marginal income tax rates,” policy analysts Alexandra Thornton and Harry Stein wrote in a 2015 paper for the Center for American Progress, citing multiple studies analyzing the relationship between tax rates and economic growth.

Sigh. A result that relies upon the manner in which high post-WWII growth happened to coincide both with the rest of the world’s economy having been bombed flat and high tax rates to pay the debt from said war.

Manchester happened because we cut the police force

So what can we do? And what have we got wrong? Jon Snow hit two targets entirely appropriately on Channel 4 last night when interviewing Mucahel Fallon. He laid two charges against him. The first was that that last two governments, and maybe Labour before that, had been negligent in reducing police numbers: 19,000 police officers have gone since 2010. The number of armed police has halved.

This, Jon Snow suggested, is why we have troops on the street. Government cuts have forced us to the situation where people untrained for the task are now protecting key installations from attack. This, he rightly said, represents a failure of government to undertake its most basic duty.


We appear to be back where we were in 2003 just before Brown started the splurge the wealth of the nation upon more state dependents.

Well, yes Jessica, and they should

There’s a quote from Maya Angelou that I’m fond of: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” It’s a sentiment I think about quite a lot when I’m combing through harassment or threats online. Because you do want to believe that the person who calls you a “bitch” or who says you should be raped isn’t really like this – that they’re actually good people having a bad day, or a bad life. You want to see the best in other people.

But the truth is that who we are is very much about how we treat others – whether it’s on the street, in our homes or, yes, on the internet. That’s why I was so concerned to see the broad latitude given to online abusers in Facebook’s guidelines for dealing with harassment and hate speech. Their baseline approach appears to give harassers the benefit of the doubt at every turn.

Because people are indeed at liberty to be complete assholes.

For example, it’s perfectly allowable for someone on Facebook to write: “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of her throat,” because it’s not an example of “credible” violence that is a “call to action” – just a venting of frustration, they say.

Similarly, if someone were to send the message, “unless you stop bitching I’ll have to cut your tongue out,” it would be classified as an “aspirational” or “conditional” statement. So this direct threat would be permitted on the site.

Why would Facebook believe that this kind of abuse is not a real threat to people? Well, because it’s online.

Nope, those are pretty much the restrictions which apply to real world speech to. Incitement to immediate violence? Verboten. Near everything else? People are at liberty to be complete assholes.

That’s quite a dangerous leap: just because someone might not threaten a person to their face in the same way they would online, it doesn’t mean that threat or hate is any less real.

Err, yes, yes it does dearie.

And here we get to the heart of it:

People like this do not feel “indifferent” towards the targets of their ire simply because they’re on the internet. They feel hatred, they feel rage. We have no way of knowing – not really – who will end up being a real danger to people. But we don’t need to give them space and attention, and we certainly shouldn’t give them permission to spread their bile.

It’s not our permission to give luvvie. Free speech is a right.

I agree, this is an outrage

As an example, Dr. Redman argued that a black woman with four children who goes to the gynecologist is more likely to get pushed into a long-acting form of contraception than a similarly situated white woman, who is more likely to have a chance to engage in dialogue with a doctor about whether or not she wants any more children.

That’s actually a real example being used to portray the inequalities inherent in the system.

OK, it’s Amanduh, it’s at Salon, but even so it’s really a pretty weak thing to be railing against, isn’t it?

Snippa Spuddas all over accounting standards

He’s not really got it, has he?

Third, there is intolerance to the needs of users. Take for example the recent change to UK accounting standards represented by new Financial Reporting Standards 102, now coming into widespread use for the preparation of accounts in the UK. These do, for example, embrace concept that many users of accounts, including the owners of the vast majority of SMEs will find entirely alien. As example, FRS 102 says that:

When a financial asset or financial liability, ie a receivable or payable, originates from an arrangement that is a financing transaction, that receivable or payable is measured at the present value of the future cash payments discounted at a market rate of interest for a similar debt instrument1 (paragraph 11.13 of FRS 102).

Very politely, whoever dreamt this up had never tried to explain what this meant to the director and shareholder of a company who finds the language alien, the maths of discounting incomprehensible, and considers the fact that this deems part of what they might be paid under a deferred payment arrangement to be interest is just wrong because that is not the commercial agreement that they reached with their customer. And yet despite all this an accountant is required to impose this rule on that director and prepare accounts as if they have done something they quite consciously disagree with, and tell the director in question to sign the accounts which they may well consider incorrect and mis-stated, or decline to provide them with professional services. That is the action of a profession disconnected from the reality of the interests it is meant to serve.

Firstly, it’s not deeming any part of the payment to be interest. It’s saying that the current value should be equated to a debt financing instrument. This obviously falls out of the accounts, with no interest on it, as the payment is made.

But think about this the other way around. Imagine that such future payments were not valued at net present value. I’m due £100 million in 50 years time (my new Nigerian mate promises, honest). What value should that have in my accounts today? £100 million?


And as to directors not understanding the point. It’s actually the smaller the company is the more they understand cash flow. Ask an FD of a 200 people SME whether he’d rather have money today or in 3 months. And then ask him how much – you’ll get to a high notional interest rate pretty quickly.


Bastards! How dare they apologies for saying this?

Quadrant magazine today “unreservedly apologised” to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie for an online article that suggested it would have been better off if the Manchester terrorist had bombed the public broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters.

The offending piece:

This was a moment when Jones really should have interrupted, asked Krauss if he lies about everything, not just when reality and circumstance intrude on favoured pieties.

But of course Jones was silent. It’s a monstrously absurd and obscene self-evident untruth to claim that refrigerators are more dangerous than terrorists, but it fits with the approved narrative, so not a peep from the man who is paid by the national broadcaster to promote fair, free, frank and factual debate on matters of national importance.

This morning, mere hours after Jones’ guests pocketed their ABC taxi vouchers and repaired to hotel rooms paid for with taxpayer dollars processed through the Sydney Writers Festival, mere children were torn to pieces on the other side of the world.

Life isn’t fair and death less so. What if that blast had detonated in an Ultimo TV studio? Unlike those young girls in Manchester, their lives snuffed out before they could begin, none of the panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty.

Mind you, as Krauss felt his body being penetrated by the Prophet’s shrapnel of nuts, bolts and nails, those goitered eyes might in their last glimmering have caught a glimpse of vindication.

A blast of Manchester dimensions must surely knock over the studio’s lunchroom refrigerator. Allah only knows how many innocent lives that shocking incident might claim.

Intemperate perhaps but understandable in the circumstances? The luvvies having a chat among themselves smugly does bring to mind Mencken:

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.

Ritchie on those Scottish numbers

The first attempt by the Office for National Statistics to break down the UK’s budget deficit by region has demonstrated the importance of the capital and highlighted how taxes and public spending are used to narrow the north-south divide.

Experimental data from the ONS showed that only three regions of the UK – London, the south-east and the east of England – ran a budget surplus in the 2015-16 financial year, the latest year for which figures are available.

Every Londoner provided £3,070 more in tax revenues than they received in public spending, while people living in the south-east ran a surplus of £1,670 per head. The east of England turned a small deficit in 2014-15 into a surplus of £242 per head in 2015-16.

By contrast, spending exceeded tax revenues by £5,440 per head in Northern Ireland and by £3,820 in the orth-east. Scotland, which has seen its public finances badly affected by the plunge in global oil prices, ran a deficit of £2,830 a head.

At which point Richie tells us that his early diatribes about the Scottish numbers are…..well, actually, no, he’s told us nothing that I’ve seen so far.

He’s obviously sorting out Manchester’s security problems at a conference in Holland or something.

5,000 troops on the streets?

All a bit security theatre isn’t it?

When do we get the TSA prodding our bollocks as we enter a concert hall?

As I’ve noted before I’m not all that worried about terrorist nutters killing some few of us. Yes, easy to say as it’s not me howling at the skies in rage at the theft of my children.

But what do we want, 65 million subject to pass laws and id cards and communications interception and the state, that Courageous State, still failing to protect us or the sacrifice of handfuls of us over time on that altar of secular freedom?

I’ve always worried much more about what government might do to us to stop the bearded nutters than I have about the nutters themselves.

Not being a brave man I’ll not try asking those whose faces are still shining from the tracks of their tears. But I will ask you.

All rather Adam, isn’t it?

George Monbiot on humans and the aftermath of terrorism:

This norm – cooperating with unrelated members of our own species – is, as a review article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology notes, “spectacularly unusual when compared [with] other animals.” It is a norm that is also innate. Empathy, the paper explains, appears to exist even in the earliest stages of infancy. Newborn babies become distressed by the cries of other babies. By the time they are 14 months old, children try to alleviate other people’s distress, by comforting or helping them, or by sharing possessions with them.

Unlike any other species (as far as we know), we are also able to imagine the emotional state of people we cannot talk to, or even see, and can place ourselves in their minds. This is why we enjoy novels and films: without this capacity, stories would be dead to us, as our emotions would not resonate with those of the characters.

Entirely so of course but it’s all a bit Adam Smith, isn’t it? We could get to the same point, the exact same point, by quoting a little from Theory of Moral Sentiments. And it’s one of the reasons why the market system as in Wealth of Nations works.

But the wouldn’t George be surprised to hear that Adam Smith beat him to it?

Well, yes, obviously

Facebook only limits holocaust denial to where it’s illegal to deny the holocaust.

The documents provided to moderators make quite clear that Facebook does not want to remove Holocaust denial content in any country where it is illegal. But it appears to make exceptions in four countries – those where the site is likely to face prosecution or be sued. Facebook explains it deals with ‘locally illegal content’ by ‘geo-blocking’ or ‘hiding’ offensive material in the countries where it is likely to provoke a reaction. Facebook said the figures set out in the documents were not accurate, but declined to elaborate.

What else does anyone want them to do?

An Austrian court has ruled that the local Green Party leader cannot be called a “corrupt bumpkin.” And insisted that this applies to Facebook world wide.

We would prefer that system, would we? Where 192 different jurisdictions get to decide what everyone in all 192 jurisdictions gets to read?

Amanduh talks bollocks to power

At first blush, these two stories don’t seem much alike. The first is a lurid right-wing conspiracy theory and the latter is an academic prank to spoof the sometimes abstruse discourse associated with postmodern cultural theory. But scratch the surface and it’s easy to see that these two stories are deeply rooted in misogynist fears about allowing women access to the halls of power. Both stories serve as warnings that feminism leads to decay, destruction and even death.


Both these stories were popular for a very simple reason: They resonated with the sexist desire to believe that bad things will follow if women are allowed access to power. The “conceptual penis” story speaks to the fear that letting women, especially feminists, into the halls of academia will degrade intellectual standards. The implication is that feminist academics are incapable of rigorous thought and are using “political correctness” to intimidate others into not noticing that they are imposters.

No, not really. It was an attempt, not all that good a one, to show that vast amounts of the social sciences are bollocks. As Sokal’s rather better attempt showed some years back.

Ritchie’s interesting economics

Convergence requires

Assessment of economic capacity based on GDP inclusive of the shadow economy
Assessment of deficits on the basis of tax spending including uncollected tax as if it is a budgeted tax spend
A requirement that this spend be controlled like all others
The pre-condition of accepting this goal

There has been a reluctance to tackle this issue
This is based on the widespread belief that if the tax gap is tackled the economic activity brought within the scope to tax will be lost altogether
This is not true. Microeconomic theory says that markets work best to maximise social well-being when there is a level playing field on which all market participants compete
The tax gap destroys that level playing field. The result must be that markets deliver sub-optimal results because of misinformation, distorted rates of return, misapplication of capital and reduced productivity
Closing the tax gap will overcome these market defects. Accepting this market based argument is the pre-condition for change in the convergence criteria

Government deficits under the Maastricht criteria should be measured as if government is collecting the tax it cannot collect.

Sheesh. So Greece is just fine then, eh?

The distortions of the tax gap are also fun. For that’s the wrong way around. It’s the taxation itself which is the distortion in the first place. Maybe a necessary one, of course, but still a distortion which creates misapplications and reductions.

Those education cuts

On Saturday I attended my first protest march. The weather was grey and drizzly, my banner, saying “No more cuts” was hastily made the night before and I really wished I had brought a whistle. But along with many other march virgins, I joined a crowd of about 6,000 people walking through Bristol, shouting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” at the top of my voice, in protest at cuts to the education budget.


Spending seems to be rolling back to about the levels of 2005 or so as a portion of the national budget. Or after inflation, whichever way around you want to look at it.

As a rough guide the system gets £5,000 a year per kid and £7,000 per teenager. Teaching them to read and write should be achievable within that. 4.5% of GDP, 11.5% of public expenditure.

Also, note what this woman is actually marching for. That someone else pay the bills for her children to be educated.

Interesting that this is in The Guardian

Previous work with twins has shown that genes account for about half of the difference that is seen in IQ scores across the population, with the rest being shaped by factors such as conditions in the womb, nutrition, pollution and a person’s social environment. “Genes do not determine everything for intelligence,” said Posthuma. “There are so many other factors that affect how well someone does on an IQ test.”

Because if you published in the comment pages on the implications of this – that the tabula rasa argument is wrong, that not all can do everything – then you’d be howled down.