August 2017

Ahaha, Ahaha, Aha, Aha, AHAHAHAHAHA

The latest Guardian poverty porn:

It makes me think back to the many times my children have gone without in order for us to put money on the electric; haven’t moaned (too loudly) at the thought of having fusilli twists with tomato and herb sauce for their dinner (again). I try to hide how bad things can be. All parents do.

But the children have seen me and my husband working, and working hard – struggling to scrape together enough money to keep going for another month. They’ve seen me crying down the phone to my mum, even though I try to hide in the bathroom, begging for £20 to put on the gas card, because it’s all been used again, and this week I’ve already put £25 on the damned thing, and my God, it has a mind of its own and it’s trying to bleed me dry!

They’ve seen me trying to make a meal out of three spring onions and a cup of rice. They’ve heard me talking to their dad, trying to work out a way to get through the next seven days with only £8.90 in my purse. (Spoiler alert – it can’t be done, however much I try. It won’t even cover the bus fare to school for my youngest daughter.)

OK. Terrible in fact. Shocking.

So, what is the job this woman does which leaves her children so destitute?

Kathleen Kerridge is an author of LGBT fantasy fiction, including the Searching for Eden series

Umm. Err:

Eden has never fit in. He hears words that have not been spoken, and can see flashes of futures that may never come to pass. Out of his time, place and comfort zone, Eden lives inside his head, constantly haunted by the idea that there is something else. Something more. Running from those who would harm him, Eden breaks through a Divide believed only in myth and stories, and finds himself in another realm—a place, he soon discovers, he should have been in all along. Finding friends, love and completion for the first time in his life, Eden starts to wake up to who he is and sets his feet firmly on a path he can never turn away from, with his tall beautiful warrior-elf lover always at his side Hunted by those who would have his power, trying to hide from evil, Eden finds himself running through the realms in the hope he can escape his fate, lead the future down a path that will not see the worlds destroyed, and will keep Khari safe from a past that is raising its head once more.

Fifteen quid in the self published paperback version.

And four pulps in 3 years isn’t exactly nose to the grindstone either.

Once again with The Guardian examples

Universal credit this time:

Until last summer, Mike was a paramedic: 12 years of NHS service in a job he loved. But a freak back injury caused by helping a patient in the middle of a cardiac arrest meant he was forced to take medical retirement. His consultant calls his injury “severe lumbar disc and facet degenerative change”. For Mike, it means shooting pain, weakness, and legs that give out without warning. “Sometimes even lifting a part-filled kettle is too much,” he explains from the family home in Lowestoft.

Money is tight since he had to stop working and his wife’s wage as a teaching assistant has to stretch for them and their two teenage girls. But because they live in what’s already a universal credit area, Mike and his wife aren’t eligible for the family element of working tax credits – a bureaucratic reform that’s the difference between being able to pay the mortgage or not. If they were less than 30 miles down the road in Norwich, the family would be £550 a month better off. Instead, they’re maxing out the credit cards and reaching the bank’s overdraft.

Mike is frantic about finding money to pay for his multiple medications,

How much does someone unemployed and on benefits pay for his prescriptions?

The modern snowflake is quite wondrous

Capitalism has been described as “creative destruction.” In the worst case scenario it is human beings who are destroyed. The market does not care. Profits over people is the true “golden rule” and the “invisible hand” at work in its most cruel form.

Hurricane Harvey and its horrific aftermath will be an exercise in disaster capitalism. (Yes, it’s a tropical storm now, but made landfall as a severe hurricane.)

Harvey and its aftermath offer an opportunity for gangster capitalists to further undermine the commons and the public square. Harvey has created a stage on which the profiteers and price-gougers will take advantage of a desperate public.

OK, standard boilerplate.

There is an another troubling dimension to the Harvey disaster that few observers have considered. The rebuilding of Houston and surrounding community will provide an opportunity for Donald Trump to appear “presidential” by funneling hundreds of billions of dollars into the cleanup and construction effort. This could be an opening Trump to leverage the “economic populism” he promised to his angry racist voters during the 2016 campaign. Such a move would only further cement his cult-like hold on his base of supporters.

Eh? But state spending, government spending, will also be bad?

Democratic control of the economy

There are those who argue for democratic control of the economy – it’s often used as a synonym for socialism. It’s just occurred to me that they are in fact arguing for the decision process over which cars are to be made, by whom, in what quantity and at whichever price be subject to the same process which made Donald Trump President. This does not strike me as a good idea and it surprises me that it doesn’t strike them the same way.


As this report argues, government spending creates new money for circulation in the economy, at literally no cost. What it also argues is that an independent Scotland with its own currency should use this ability to generate economic activity, and so jobs, until such time as there is full employment in Scotland. At that point tax has to be used to cancel all the new money created by government spending. Until that point is reached then that is not necessary: creating more employment is the higher priority because the more employment there is the more Scotland uses its most valuable non-renewable resource for creating value, which is its people’s time. And by doing that Scotland will boost its income to the highest possible degree, which is good for well-being, the supply of public services, demand, and the creation of vibrant businesses that not only meet Scottish need but also create products for export markets. Indeed, there is no better way to ensure Scotland has a strong currency than by stimulating the domestic economy in ways that in turn maximise export potential.

We’ll stimulate the economy and this will reduce the trade deficit – that’s what that boost the economy and thereby boost exports to strengthen the economy is.


A faster GDP growth than trade partners’ ones usually results in trade deficit, since imports are elastic to GDP (they rise more than proportionally).


I am now suggesting that Scotland should, when it is independent have equity capital.

Unlike debt, equity capital is usually issued without a repayment date, indicates ownership of a stake in the concern, and maybe a vote, and is considered to be the foundation on which the company is built. Indeed, it’s usually said that a company is run for its shareholders, who are the people who own its equity capital.

In my opinion the idea that equity capital only exists in companies but that debt can exist in both companies and countries is absurd. After all, countries do have people they are run for. And those who run countries do have people they are accountable to, who have a vote. And those people do, as a matter of fact, have a stake invested in the success of their country. Now suppose that the money a country can create costlessly if it wants to do so, as happened, for example, when the UK created £435 billion of money to fund its quantitative easing programme, or which it can create to fund its money supply by spending that necessary money into the economy (as Scotland will need to do to create enough of its own currency to keep the economy going if it becomes an independent country) was not treated as debt reduction (as happened in that case) but was instead treated as being the equity capital of country held in trust for all time for the benefit of the people of that country.

A special body, or court, elected by the people of Scotland, or alternatively drawn from a second parliamentary chamber, could become trustees for this capital. The capital in question would not need to be repaid. Why should it? After all, it was created out of nothing. And nor would it carry interest. Again, why should it? It cost nothing to create. But it would, nonetheless, be the core funding that would keep the Scottish money supply under control, increasing over time if economic expansion demanded it, and maybe being reduced if the risk of inflation demanded that as well.

But what it would not be is debt. It would be Scottish equity capital: the money created by the nation for the people of Scotland to be held on their behalf by trustees but with the politicians of Scotland responsible to the electorate for its careful management in the interests of all. Debt be damned in that case: the balance sheet credit created by the spending Scotland would need to create the prosperity that investment and full employment would deliver would not pass into the hands of a few as private debt but would instead be held in trust for everybody in the country. This is entirely technically possible, at least if created when outside the EU (as Scotland would be bound to be for a period). And what this represents is money, economy, tax, politics and nationhood being combined into a new concept of capital that transforms opportunity for all.

We already do this. It’s called the money supply.


Well, how about that then, eh?

Most governments in the world, including the United States, prohibit sex work.Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing sex work is largely conjectural. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor sex work to provide causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, reported rape offenses, and sexually transmit-ted infections. While decriminalization increases the size of the indoor sex market, reported rape offenses fall by 30 percent and female gonorrhea incidence declines by over 40 percent.

The EU’s financial demands

Sources for quantifying the obligations at the date of withdrawal:
The amounts for items (1), (3) and (4) should be extracted from the consolidated accounts of the
Union established at the time of withdrawal and audited by the Court of Auditors.

How many decades is it since the Court signed off on the audit?

Tee hee

Jess resents having to make the choice at all so soon after giving birth. As a retail employee of the country’s most profitable coffee chain, she is entitled to six weeks of parental leave at partial pay after Roman is born. (Her leave will probably be unpaid, since she has worked at Starbucks for less than one year.) But starting on 1 October, employees at Starbucks’ Seattle headquarters – just an hour’s drive from Jess’s home – and its other corporate offices will be entitled to 16 weeks of fully paid leave upon giving birth, and fathers or adoptive parents will get 12.

Announcing the new policy in January, Starbucks called it “reflective of our mission and commitment to be a different kind of company and put our people first”.

But the new policy doesn’t increase the length of leave for in-store workers who give birth, or for new fathers and adoptive parents, who will continue to get none.

Paid maternity leave is part of the total compensation on offer for the job being done.

The management bods get higher total compensation than the baristas. What is so hard about this to understand?

Do note that this is absolutely nothing at all to do with whether there should be tax paid maternity leave in the US, as there is in the UK. Rather, this whining is “why do those other people get more than I do.” Well, because of the job you do.

As the company’s announcement received laudatory headlines, Jess joined a group of Starbucks baristas and store managers in asking the company: why are we treated differently?

“It is in no way fair to the average worker,” Jess says. “You can’t have corporate without us. So why would one have a better benefit than the other?”

Why should they be getting higher compensation at all?

Diplomacy is like honour

Brexit talks are unlikely to move ahead as planned in October because the British government is seen as weak, divided and unwilling to accept the full consequences of the decision to leave the EU, according to European ambassadors.

“It was the plan to advance to a new phase of negotiations in October,” Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Germany’s ambassador to France and previously chief European affairs adviser to the chancellor, Angela Merkel, told an audience in Paris on Tuesday.

“Honestly, from what we see of the UK’s positions today we will not be moving to the next phase in October. To be clear: the crisis in these talks is not behind us but ahead of us. I don’t know when it will come, or what its outcome will be.”

Speaking at France’s annual ambassadors’ week, Meyer-Landrut said London appeared to be having “real difficulty in positioning itself collectively, as a government and a parliament, with regard to the substance of certain questions”.

A third round of Brexit talks began in Brussels this week with the UK eager to move quickly on to discussing its future relationship with the bloc but the EU27 are insisting sufficient progress must first be made on three key divorce issues.

Pierre Sellal, France’s ambassador to the EU, said that seen from Brussels, the picture the UK gave was one of “confusion and hesitation”, while the remaining member states showed “clarity, unity … a certain degree of serenity”.

As with talking of honour and counting the spoons. Translated into vernacular this means that the Brits are reasonably united and the rest are fighting like cats in a sack.

We should remember that a diplomat is someone sent abroad to lie for his country.

Some people, eh?

It’s cool to hate Taylor Swift. She’s a social media pariah, the punchline of every meme, a living snake emoji. Her new single Look What You Made Me Do was jeered into the charts , making it to number one and breaking records on its way. Her new album is to be a treatise on reputation, and boy could Swift deliver a TED talk on that subject. She’s become universally despised to the point where it’s taboo even to admit to feeling sorry for her. One is allowed to concede that 1989 had a few bangers but that’s the limit.

Swift became synonymous with the snake emoji thanks to one fateful subtweet by Kim K. Her spat with the Kardashian-Wests is what has earned her most of her bad reputation – she’s a liar who got what she deserved, right? Case closed. But it’s naive to think good old-fashioned karma is all that’s at play in the Swift saga.

Swift is not the first snake woman. Since the Old Testament, society has sought to discredit and vilify women by associating them with the scaly and the slithering. It’s the oldest trope in the book – from Eve to Medusa, the snake has always been a faithful misogynist device, used to destroy female reputation.

Good looking young woman becomes at least decamillionaire through popular beat combo.
That’s misogyny.

They’re damn right to be affronted

EU Brexit negotiators were left “flabbergasted” after their British counterparts launched a legal deconstruction of the so-called “Brexit bill” Wednesday as the Brussels talks headed for an increasingly acrimonious impasse, EU sources have told The Telegraph.

British negotiators spent three hours launching a painstaking, line-by-line rebuttal of the EU’s demands for €100bn divorce settlement to the barely concealed fury of EU negotiators.

“There was total amazement,” the EU source said, “Everyone was completely flabbergasted that this young man from Whitehall was saying that the EU’s preparation on the financial settlement was ‘inadequate’. It did not go down well.”

Given that the EU doesn’t in fact operate on the rule of law then how impertinent of someone to start to insist upon it.

From Soapy Joe

On Twatter, so I can ‘t reproduce it exactly, I’m blocked. But:

Let’s be clear. Staying in the Single Market and Customs Union are key steps in avoiding an economic breakdown that could deliver fascism.

Almost makes you wonder how we managed in 1940 without being part of the European superstate of the day, doesn’t it?

It’s all footnotes to Smith or wrong

A proposal for the Scottish tax system:

This relationship of mutual trust requires that a tax system be based on sound
principles that are clearly stated so that all can understand them. Scotland has a long
tradition in this area. In 1776 pioneering Scottish economist Adam Smith argued
that tax systems need to be equitable, certain, convenient and efficient. Whilst
these may have been a sufficient basis on which to establish a tax system at the time
that he wrote our understanding of rights and obligations in society has advanced
considerably since then and the principles on which a Scottish tax system must
be based have to reflect the world we now live in. The result is that Adam Smith’s
suggestions are no longer a sufficient basis on which to build a Scottish tax system.

Is this going to be footnotes or wrong?

All that being said, the reality is, of course, that no government would want to pay
for all government services out of new money being continually pumped, without
limit, into the economy. That is because doing so would undoubtedly result in
rampant inflation. This fact does not, however, change the principle: that principle
is that all government services can be paid for without taxation. This, then, also
answers the proverbial ‘chicken and egg’ question of which comes first: is it ‘tax and
spend’, or ‘spend and tax’? By now it should be obvious that the correct answer is
that there can be no such thing as tax and spend; the only obvious answer to this
question is that there is always spend and tax. In other words, governments can
always spend to create the public services they think appropriate using new money
created for the purpose and it is the role of tax to reclaim that money from the
economy to prevent inflation.

It’s not footnotes, is it?

And as ever, he completely misses he end point of his scheme. Politicians get to spend all they want for every scheme, out of new money. Tax mops up the resultant inflation. We’re back in a high tax, high spend economy, aren’t we? Old Labour once again.

This understanding is critical to the design of a Scottish tax system. What it
demands is that Scotland must have its own currency from the day it becomes
independent. This is, of course, the sovereign right of any state. But it is not just
a right: it is only by exercising this right that Scotland can be truly independent
of any other country. This is because of another critical consequence of the
understanding of tax and money already outlined, which is that a country with its
own central bank and currency cannot go bankrupt. So long as it issues its debt in
its own currency this must always be true. That is because if it does issue its debt
in its own currency then it can always repay it by having its central bank create
the money required to do so. In that case it can, quite literally, never run out of
money. What that means is that if it had its own currency Scotland could not be
beholden to anyone, including the bond markets. There is no greater expression of
independence than that.

No, really not footnotes. Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Hungarian pengo.

Secondly, this understanding means that the Scottish Government does not need
to think itself beholden to bond markets or their interest rate whims. When the
relationship between government, money and tax is properly understood then what
is clear is that a government need never borrow from anyone but its central bank
(which effectively happens in the USA but which is illegal in the EU except for the
quantitative easing ‘work around’ that achieves the same result). If the Scottish
Government did then decide to issue bonds it would be because it wanted to, at an
interest rate it wants to set, and solely to provide people with opportunity to save in
the safest way possible.

That fantasy of being free of the markets really is very strong, isn’t it?

To be clear, this is not an argument against proper monitoring and accounting for
the velocity of money in the national economy. This should be rigorously accounted
for to protect the economy against dangerous levels of inflation. But it should be
done on the basis of accurate accountancy treatment which understands government
created money as national equity capital created with no cost and no repayment date,
akin to equity (or ‘share’) capital for a company. Accounted for as equity capital,
money creation can be created and monitored to ensure it meets the government’s
monetary policy goals. This, alongside a strategy to ensure the national economy
remains competitive with the rest of the world so as to prevent inflation driven
by exchange rate devaluation, should ensure an independent Scotland is uniquely
equipped for prudent and competent monetary policy and controlling inflation. See
the Appendix at the bottom of this report for a full explanation of this.

And he himself refutes his own theory. For that exchange rate is just another manifestation of that market. And if the effect doesn’t come from the interest rate, or inflation, or the deficit, then it will come through that exchange rate. Which, as Spudda is telling us, must be monitored, meaning that we’re not free from the markets through MMT at all. We’re all just subject to a different manifestation of it.

Parliamentary enquiries,
particularly by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, have exposed
cosy relationships and deal making with big business. As a matter of fact the
external directors of HMRC are only drawn from the ranks of big business and the
largest firms of accountants. Revolving doors between HMRC and tax advisers have
caused disquiet. There is no doubt that the rate of prosecution of big business and
the wealthy is tiny (even when tax evasion is apparent, as has been the case when
investigating those whose affairs have been disclosed by offshore leaks). It is a matter
of record that HMRC have more staff investigating relatively insignificant benefit
fraud than they do tax avoidance and evasion. The available evidence does then
suggest an organisation captured by particular interest groups that results in bias
towards those best off in society. Revenue Scotland must not replicate this mistake.
A belief that a tax authority acts impartially on behalf of all in a society is now
considered key to tax agency effectiveness and to high tax compliance rates (and so
small tax gaps) amongst the population at large.

The author of the Courageous State discovers regulatory capture.


Ain’t this great too?

Income tax

High starting threshold leaves many with no relationship with the tax system

People making minimum wage should be paying income tax.

– The UK does not have a wealth tax
– There is no tax aimed at reducing excessive consumption in the UK

Things that must be done:

Income tax
– The personal allowance has to be reduced: the more people are engaged with
the income tax system the more they engage with the political process. There
is a danger that those who do not pay income tax ‘do not count’ and it is a risk
that must not be taken;

Yep, the poor must pay income tax. Even those part time on minimum wage.

There is no evidence that a fifty per cent income tax rate is a disincentive to
work or to living in a country: the rate should be in use;

Err, yes, there is.

Investment income should be subject to a surcharged income tax rate when
it exceeds £3,000 per annum. The surcharge should start at fifteen per cent.
A higher rate should be considered in the event of there being significant
investment income. An age allowance should be made for pensioners but this
should not apply to all income levels. This charge is to compensate for the
absence of national insurance on this source of income.

Entirely standard economics says that investment income should be taxed at lower rates than labour income.

To discourage the cash economy all notes of more than £10 in value should
be withdrawn from circulation and no payment of more than £200 in cash
should be considered legally permissible.

Curajus or what?

This is simply wondrous:

No company should be incorporated without the proof of identity of all
shareholders owning more than ten percent of the capital and of all directors
(one of whom must be domestically resident) being made available to tax
authorities. This data should be updated annually. If it is not the company
should lose its limited liability and this fact should be recorded at Companies
– House and all its directors and all shareholders owning more than ten per cent
of its shares should become jointly personally liable for its debts, including on

Let’s abolish limited liability, the third great human invention after agriculture and the scientific method.

The rate of corporation tax for large companies should be at least ten per
cent higher than the basic rate of income tax to ensure that the corporation
tax system is suitably progressive. As compensation one hundred per cent tax
relief should be available on the cost of all sums invested in Scottish business
(as opposed to renting and financial services) activity. This would significantly
increase the incentive for Scottish business to reinvest in the Scottish economy

Umm, haven’t we just said that we should reduce the incentives to saving?

Capital gains should be taxed as if they are income and be added to the top
part of a person’s income. There is no economic logic to treating income from
capital gains differently to that from other sources.

There are libraries full of books explaining that economic logic of different rates.

A financial transaction tax (FTT)

We’ve been over this so many damn times but this is a new bit:

The FTT should include a facility to rapidly increase rates in the event of large
swings in asset prices or in the case of currency volatility. At such times there
tends to be panic that can remove all market liquidity as people try to sell,
whether it is rational to do so or not. A rate escalator can reduce volatility and
calm markets in this situation.

As and when liquidity disappears we should tax all liquidity entirely out of the market?

A Carbon Usage Tax
– The UK’s indirect taxes (VAT and excise duties) plus its system of specific
tax charges (BBC licence fee, road fund licences, etc.) are regressive in their
impact. The UK needs a progressive indirect tax to rebalance the tax system in
addition to the changes already noted under direct taxation. The Carbon Usage
– Tax (CUT) is intended to achieve that goal and to eventually replace national
insurance charges.
– The CUT will be charged on the flow of funds through a person’s bank
account. The charge will be levied by the bank and will be progressive. For
most people the rate will be set at zero per cent and it is expected that this
will remain true even when the CUT replaces national insurance. The rate will,
however, be progressive and be applied to all flows into and out of accounts
excluding those that are transfers between accounts a person has (e.g. their
loan, savings, current and mortgage accounts, including in different banks).
Initially charged monthly the CUT would be adjusted to an annual charge at
each year end.
– Resident people who do not appear to have a bank account for CUT purposes
or who cannot explain their low rate of bank account usage will be assessed to
the tax based on their income.
– The tax is intended to tax higher levels of consumption, as indicated by higher
levels of spending, at higher rates. It is intended to reduce that consumption as
a result and act as a green tax as well as an eventual replacement for national
insurance that discourages job creation, when what should be discouraged is
excessive use of the world’s resources.

Why not just have a carbon tax instead of a bank account usage tax?

Scottish tax law should be principles based
– Scottish tax law should say what its intention is as well as specifying the
specific ways in which it is to achieve that goal: this way ambiguity in the
meaning of tax law should be reduced.
– Tax abuse should then be defined as seeking to circumvent the intention as
well as the letter of the law.
– In this way Scottish tax law will build on the Roman Law concept of the
abuse of law.

We’re to abandon Common Law now, are we?

The burden of proof should be
on the taxpayer

Yes, apparently so.

This actually made me laugh out loud:

There are three answers. The first is that if there has been no general shift in the
productivity of labour in Scotland compared to that in the rest of the world and
nor if there is a shift in commodity prices then any exchange rate shift in that case
indicates speculation and will probably be short term. Long term exchange rate
moves are usually linked either to commodity prices (where Scotland is, overall,
well protected because of its energy resources) or labour productivity.

An oil exporter is protected from currency swings as a result of commodity price changes? My word, that is amazing. Just that one claim obviates all of his even potential claims to knowledge about economics.

Yes, I know, this would be very mean indeed to many blameless people in Scotland. But it would be fun to see all of this applied, as long as it’s not to us, wouldn’t it?

Snippa Spuddas

He just never does think through his arguments, does he?

And then in very many parts of GERS Scotland is simply attributed with a part of total UK spending. In many cases, however, such as defence, foreign affairs, and quite possibly many other policy areas where this attribution arises, Scottish public pinion clearly indicates that if it had the chance Scotland would make very different spending decisions to those for which it is currently charged. GERS, however, does not allow for that: as the Fraser of Allender Institute have acknowledged, GERS assumes Scotland is a mini-part of the U.K. and no compensation for its higher levels of spending in some areas is reflected in other costs apportioned from the rest of the U.K., meaning that the supposed Scottish deficit may be seriously overstated as a result. It is also possible that the tax revenue generated by the spend outside Scotland deemed in GERS to be for Scottish benefit should also be, but is not, credited to the GERS revenue account. If that’s the case then there is a serious accounting flaw in the whole GERS process that undermines all the data it supplies.

Scotland might well make different spending decisions. Sure, it might well. That’s actually the point which is being made, that given the deficit Scotland will have to make different spending decisions.


The second argument is that there’s a multiplier to government spending. Hmm, well, OK, arguendo. Snippa says that some of that extra tax received as a function of spending isn’t being attributed to Scottish revenues.


At which point we can do a simple little test. OK, there is a multiplier, spending in Scotland per head is higher than r-UK. Therefore we are already including in Scottish figures the revenue from that spending being financed by the r-UK. Which will disappear on exit from the UK of course.

So, which is larger? The revenues from spending we’re not attributing to Scottish revenue? Or that revenue from r-UK spending which we are? Given that spending per head is higher in Scotland then the second, no?

Snippa’s own argument shows that the deficit is larger than the current claim.

Whooo, Boy, Well Done Senior Lecturer

What might this mean in practice? Scotland should start with a sensible, but higher rare of income tax. Then it would be necessary to close down most tax reliefs given to boost savings. After that it would be appropriate to tax capital gains as income whilst reform of inheritance tax and its replacement by a wealth tax is long overdue and now possible given the cooperation on tax data that’s now beginning with tax havens. VAT would need to stay, but no one can deny that it is regressive and hits those on low pay hard. In that case a new progressive consumption tax that would be charged on flows through bank accounts, and so charge the wealthiest at the highest rates, would be needed to redress the balance

We actually have a tax system being discussed called a “progressive consumption tax.” The basics of which are a 100% tax relief upon savings.

Effectively, all additions to savings, and earnings from savings reinvested, are tax free. All withdrawals from savings and all earnings from savings which are not reinvested pay whatever the normal income tax is at progressive rates.

I think that a pretty good system as does Bill Gates and so do a very large number of economists. It’s also fine if the Senior Lecturer doesn’t.

But what should leave us gape-jawed in amazement is that the Senior Lecturer doesn’t know of this proposal, is so ignorant of what all those other people who ponder such matters are talking about. What a recommendation for a university teacher, for a reformer of tax systems, eh?

Looks like it works then, doesn’t it?

Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, has collected $89.6m as part of a 10-year deal that he signed as an incentive to keep the iPhone maker at the forefront of the technology industry after he took over the reins in 2011 from company co-founder Steve Jobs.

Mucho dinero.

The stock package awarded to Cook in 2011 was originally valued at $376m, but is now worth much more because Apple shares have increased by six-fold since he signed the deal.

Seems to have aligned his interests with those of the shareholders quite nicely, overcoming that principal/agent problem.

Ain’t democracy a bitch, eh?

Please, Theresa May, for the sake of our country’s future, sack Boris Johnson. His continued presence as foreign secretary is a national humiliation. The influence of a leftwing Guardian columnist over the prime minister is, to put it mildly, rather limited. It is up to Conservative members and supporters to come to the conclusion that Johnson’s continued tenure as Britain’s representative to the wider world is a risk to the future of this country.

Owen doesn’t like him.

May knew the score and only appointed him as foreign secretary to manage the internal schism of her chronically divided party.

Ah, some number of other people do. Democracy sure is a bitch. And do note that this is the Owen Jones who thinks that the economy should be more democratised. Although perhaps he’s got some plan to make sure that people only get to vote for people or policies which he approves of?

That engineer Darwin got in to do evolution has some explaining to do

It is the section on breasts that has drawn criticism, after writer and blogger Simon Ragoonanan, who blogs about fatherhood at Man vs Pink, posted a page from the book on Facebook. “What are breasts for?” writes Frith in the extract. “Girls have breasts for two reasons. One is to make milk for babies. The other is to make the girl look grown-up and attractive. Virtually all breasts, no matter what size or shape they end up when a girl finishes puberty, can do both things.”

Breasts are indeed a secondary sexual characteristic of post-pubertal women. They thus do signify having grown up. They are also a sexual attraction. So, the complaints must be about the milk, right? Because our close cousins, the apes, have their milk glands in the same place, obviously, but not breasts. Thus the function of the breasts is not milk but perhaps the age marker, perhaps the sexual attraction.

Or maybe something else entirely.

“This just seemed awful and completely unjustifiable,” Ragnoonanan told the Guardian. “Usborne are serial offenders in peddling gender stereotypes to kids.”

Oh, no, look, the complaints aren’t about that at all.

But Nicholls said that describing the “other” purpose of breasts – “to make the girl look grown-up and attractive” – was “extremely problematic”, because it “reinforces the sexualisation of breasts which makes girls and women self-conscious”.


Look, the underlying question here is why do human women have breasts and our close cousins not? No, it’s not the milk functionality. So, what is it? The apes do get swellings when the mlik glands are in use, but not normally. So, why?

It’s like trying to understand human sexuality without grasping the difference between oestrus and the menstrual cycle. You’re just not going to get to the right answer until you explain these differences.


I have the next 5 weeks free and clear from my usual work. I’m sure we can guess why.

So, what should I do? Anyone want a book written? Should I perhaps drag out that idea of a little novel that’s lying around and have a go at that? Any other ideas?