November 2017

If you start from here you’re never going to get it right

Note: the UK has massively de-industrialised since 1979 (manufacturing is now only 10% of GDP). The White paper gives little acknowledgement of this, but why would it, this de-industrialisation is the product of successive neoliberal (Tory/Tory-lite) governments.

Manufacturing and industrial (roughly, manufacturing plus minerals and energy) output is significantly up since 1979.

What fucking deindustrialisation?

The Senior Lecturer tells us that the pound sterling is a con trick

If the value of a single unit of a supposed currency varies between $9,000 and $11,000 in a day then it is not a currency because it lacks one of the essential characteristics: it is not a store of value.

Let’s call it a con trick instead.


Sterling’s fall following the ERM exit did trigger an export recovery, says Kit Juckes at Société Générale. It plunged nearly 35 per cent against the dollar in the six months after Black Wednesday, driving up export volumes and wiping out the trade deficit. Its decline “sowed the seeds of a better economy”.


Value of the pound in your pocket declines by over 90% since 1973

Unless we want to place entirely too much weight upon “day” we’d have to conclude that fiat money is a con trick, wouldn’t we?

And there’s the other way of looking at this too. The value of the $ has varied by some 20% in a day. Thus it’s not a store of value, is it?

Remember, this man teaches economics in a British university.

Scandal! Scandal!

Large numbers of employers are it seems now in the habit of shortchanging their staff as a deliberate strategy to increase profits. At least 2 million workers a year in the UK are being cheated of pay they are owed. This estimate of the scale of wages theft comes from a new report from researchers at Middlesex University, which puts the value of the lost pay at over £3bn a year.

Clearly, this should not happen. But, as ever, how important is it?

There’re some 30 million in work, average wage is £25,000 (both rough estimates). Total UK wages are some £750 billion a year. £3 billion is fiddled.

0.4% then.

Is this higher or lower than the rate of benefits fiddles which we must not, under any circumstances, worry about?

This isn’t going to work, is it?

Native French speakers comprise little more than 1 per cent of the world’s population, leaving it 18th in the global league table beside Korean and the Indian language Marathi.

But President Macron, well known for his ceaseless political ambition, has turned his attention to making French the first language of Africa and even the most spoken tongue in the world.

As it happens a cousin is a translator at The Hague. French being one of his languages. And he will wax lyrical about exactly why this will not happen. Academie Francaise. For the French spoken not in France is, as with Singlish and all the rest, diverging from that on the Mainland. To the point that trials are translated by people who have proven competence in, say, Congolese French, or CAF etc, rather than “French.”

His point being that the AF is trying to nail the language to one version, something that just doesn’t happen with dispersed languages.

This isn’t quite how I’d describe it, no

Another one bites the dust.

Today Show host Matt Lauer was fired from NBC over sexual misconduct allegations that the company says were probably not an isolated incident (Lauer’s alleged bad behavior has not been publicly described in any detail). He is only the latest in a string of high-profile men brought down by accusations of handsiness or inappropriate behavior toward female colleagues.

What’s stunning about the Lauer firing, though, is how decisively NBC acted – especially considering that Lauer is one of their marquee names, and has anchored one of their most-watched and profitable shows for two decades. The evidence for his misbehavior must be pretty solid (a video? A hot mic?), but so too must be NBC’s conviction that keeping a harasser or assailant on staff would be financial and reputational suicide.

This is new. And it’s a feminist victory.

Today Show co-host Savannah Guthrie captured what so many women feel when men we like, admire, or love commit harassment or assault.

D’ye see that little leap? From allegation to commit. And this is a victory? Denunciations lead to the loss of job and career?

That’s really not a societal victory because we’re not going to enjoy a society where denunciation alone does lead to that.

Do stop being an idiot, please

A few years ago, I interviewed Nicola Roberts, the best member of Girls Aloud, to talk about her underrated debut solo album Cinderella’s Eyes. She discussed what it was like to be on Popstars: The Rivals, the TV singing competition that predated The X Factor and gave birth to the band. What stood out most to me was how it felt for her to ricochet between two worlds. She was 16 and split her time between TV studios in London, and hanging out at the chippie in her home town of Runcorn. She remembered being taken to a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant where none of the girls could understand the menu. She had to ask the head of Universal Records: “What the fuck’s coriander?”

It doesn’t take much to get me on to Girls Aloud, but I thought of that particular anecdote when I saw the State of the Nation report by the Social Mobility Commission this week. Its findings are a sobering confirmation of what is apparent to anyone whose world is not centred on London or the slim area surrounding it. Social divisions are deeply entrenched in British society, and social mobility, this notion that you can be born “disadvantaged” and step outside of such circumstances given the right opportunities, increasingly looks about as achievable as the UK’s chances of walking away from the EU without self-destructing in the process. Alienation and resentment are growing, and for rural, coastal and formerly industrial areas in particular, the outlook is grim.

Good grief, you’re never going to get anywhere if you keep insisting that class in the UK is an economic matter.

We regard plumbers as working class (rightly or wrongly) and lawyers as very middle class indeed. Provincial plumbers make rather more than provincial lawyers. Coriander or not is a social matter, income an economic one. Not grasping this but then wanting to talk about class in Britain just ain’t ever gonna work.

Seriously honey, chill out

Women like me have been keeping a secret. It’s a secret so shameful that it’s hidden from friends and lovers, so dark that vast amounts of time and money are spent hiding it. It’s not a crime we have committed, it’s a curse: facial hair.

What can be dismissed as trivial is a source of deep anxiety for many women, but that’s what female facial hair is; a series of contradictions. It’s something that’s common yet considered abnormal, natural for one gender and freakish for another. The reality isn’t quite so clear cut. Merran Toerien, who wrote her PhD on the removal of female body hair, explained “biologically the boundary lines on body hair between masculinity and femininity are much more blurred than we make them seem”.

The removal of facial hair is just as paradoxical – the pressure to do it is recognized by many women as a stupid social norm and yet they strictly follow it. Because these little whiskers represent the most basic rules of the patriarchy – to ignore them is to jeopardize your reputation, even your dignity.

It’s not the damn patriarchy. All humans have facial hair. Thicker facial hair – it’s that, not more generally – is a male secondary sexual characteristic. All humans (well, you know, as with alopecia and hair but….) have nipples and tits are a female secondary sexual characteristic. Some men have boobs, many have moobs and you know, that’s just how it works, secondary sexual characteristics don’t map exactly over primary ones.

And? You’re stupid enough to think that this is a product of a social set up?


Why is this surprising in the slightest?

The notion of a bucolic past where our ancestors toiled contentedly in the fields may need to be revised after a new study showed just how hard prehistoric women worked.

Researchers at Cambridge University looked at bones belonging to European women who lived during the Neolithic around 7,000 years ago.

They found they had upper arms that were far stronger than even than the female Cambridge University rowing squad today.

Experts believe such physical prowess was probably obtained through tilling the soil and spending hours a day grinding grain to make flour.

“This is the first study to actually compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women,” said Dr Alison Macintosh, lead author of the study published today in the journal Science Advances.

Peasant agricultural life is one of unremitting toil. Doesn’t everyone know that?

And it is too – Malthus. Sure, there are periods when there’s a new technology, or new land, to exploit. But it pretty rapidly fills up as more children survive and then all are back to permanent labour in order to feed the kiddies. The stable situation is when the population equals the carrying capacity of the land at that technological stage. Which is also when everyone’s got to work, permanently.

There’s also an easy way to test this. Get out there to sub-Saharan Africa where the women are tilling the land. Then go measure their upper body strength.

We’ve already done the test of men of course. Those cuirasses the Household Cavalry wear. Century or two old they are and modern men rattle around inside them, need padding to stop them slipping all over the place. As opposed to the vast chest measurements of the Victorian farm boys – built up by bailing hay etc – that they were made for.

Aren’t the icons falling?

Garrison Keillor, creator of the hugely popular American radio show A Prairie Home Companion, was sacked on Wednesday over an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour”.

Keillor, 75, started his show featuring tales of the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon – “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average” – in 1974.

It featured musical acts, folksy humour, parody adverts for fake products like Powdermilk Biscuits, and Keillor’s signature monologue “The News From Lake Wobegon”.

There were also books including Lake Wobegon Days. The show became the most listened to entertainment programme on US public radio with four million weekly listeners on 500 stations.

This often isn’t a notably successful strategy

British theatres push up ticket prices to pay for audiences dropping by more than 168,000 last year

Or, as the actual facts seem to be:

British theatres have increased ticket prices as audience figures dropped by more than 168,000 last year, latest figures show.

Pushing prices up because custom has fallen is one of those things which can work – depends upon elasticity of demand – but isn’t known as a great strategy normally.

The second statement, that rising prices has curbed demand, is bog obvious normal. That the Telegraph’s subs seem to think the two are the same is something of a problem.

Seriously glorious

I do think this is quite lovely. Writing college essays. There’s someone out there doing a media/journalism course. Who has to do a short piece as coursework. Model piece of simple journalism in fact.

Which they’ve decided to get someone else to write through an essay service*.

Hmm, maybe they want to be an editor?

*They’re offering a rate higher than such pieces normally get paid too…..this sort of stuff normally getting $0.

Economics lesson of the day

Independent Bookstores Stage a Comeback. While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the American Bookseller Association reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.

Borders was a direct competitor to the Indie bookstore. Amazon is a substitute for.

The removal of some 700 (approx, Borders plus other brands) direct competitors has a different effect than the continued expansion of a substitute.

Gee, ya think?

Ford and GM sell cars in Austin TX (only they two). Austin builds a metro. GM remained bankrupt. Does Ford sell more or fewer cars in Austin TX?

Agreed, could go either way but we’d not be surprised if more, would we?

Isn’t this an interesting thought?

The claim that Corbyn threatens business is nonsense. He plans a government that will spend to invest. That is unambiguously good for business, and it pays for itself by delivering productivity growth, higher wages and so more taxes. Only a banker could fail to understand that.

Or anyone who notes that 300 years of government investment hasn’t managed to pay off the national debt……

” Just as current wealth inequality is unambiguously harmful,”

Proof please? Swedish wealth inequality is higher than our. Is that harmful?

Well done to the Senior Lecturer here

A chapter in a book based upon this:

All are extraordinary suggestions for extraordinary times. Economic, policy and intellectual elites of a variety of stripes are deeply concerned and troubled.
The common thread is demand deficiency. As Yanis Varoufakis has noted there is a shortfall in investment, particularly in the things we need most such as environmentally friendly sustainable new technologies, infrastructure projects and research and development, all of which suffer from progressively shortening financial time horizons. The consequence is that investment in the very things that do most to generate productivity, growth and meaningful long term work, are at risk in an age of asset management.

Too little investment is a demand deficiency now, is it?

We must elect a new people

At my suggestion, the school invited the charity Living Streets to come in and enthuse the children about walking or cycling to school. I attended the first assembly, at which one of their organisers spoke. She was lively, funny and captivating. With the help of a giant puppet, and the promise of badges if they joined in, the children went wild for her and for the cause. The school, led by its committed headteacher, has done everything it can to support the scheme.

For a few weeks, it worked. Everyone noticed the difference. No longer were cars mounting the pavement – and almost mounting each other – outside the gates. The children were using their legs, and families were talking to each other on the way. But the cars have crept back in, and now, though the clever and catchy programme continues, we’re almost back where we started: school begins and ends under a cloud.

Humans, eh?

So all men aren’t rapists then, eh, Jessica?

One of the many myths about feminists is that we believe all men are potential rapists – that men are inherently dangerous, their sexuality naturally predatory. It’s an absurd stereotype that runs counter to decades of feminist activism. After all, if you believe men’s natural instinct is to harass or rape, what you are really arguing is that harassment and rape are normal.

There are those who would disagree there.

Well, no, it’s known as being a Trot

Hide your kids: those dastardly undemocratic reds are coming again! The front page of one Murdoch outlet today carries wild reports of “Moderates forced out by hard left in Labour purge”.

What has actually happened is this: Labour is choosing candidates to stand as councillors in next year’s local elections. In some cases, members have democratically decided that some sitting councillors should face an open contest. This happened automatically until a rule change last year. Calculating that they will lose to a leftwing alternative, some have stood down. Others have lost. This is not a “purge”. This is what is known as “democracy”.

It’s a classic piece of the Trot methods.

Some half a dozen of the committed meet first to decide the agenda for a meeting, decide upon who the candidate is going to be. Only then does the wider interest group get presented with a hoice. In that manner the small group manages to control the process.