March 2018

Hurrah! Scotland will do the experiment

In the last day I have speed read two versions of the new book by Robin McAlpine from the Scottish think tank Common Weal entitled ‘How to start a new country’.
Having addressed the transition in an appropriately robust fashion that I think soundly legally grounded the book makes four things clear. They are that Scotland must have its own currency. It must have a strong macroeconomic framework. This must work for everyone. And at the heart of making it do so there must be a robust tax system based on a proper understanding of the role of tax in a modern economy. I confess that the last issue, as addressed in the longer version of the book, appears to have been influenced by my thinking. This is a new state to be built on the understanding that MMT coupled with modern tax practice can deliver.

Super, so the Scots can do the experiment and we can all watch, right?

If the rich bugger off we’ll be better off

Well, maybe:

The rich and wealthy are also not that valuable because their low overall rates of tax compared to both income and wealth suggests that our dependency upon them is tenuous, and that their replacement by lower paid, but likely to be as ambitious and in truth equally competent people of sound judgement, might in the event that there was an exodus from the country of the current incumbents of the highest paid posts actually be for the overall best of the country by creating a considerably improved income distribution.

Didn’t we try this? Didn’t we have a brain drain? And did it make us better off?

Well, umm, 1976 was when this country was most equal……

Fun with mathematics

A new analysis of some of the world’s most popular bottled water brands says more than 90% contain tiny pieces of plastic.

Analysis of 259 bottles from 19 locations in nine countries across 11 different brands found an average of 325 plastic particles for every litre of water being sold.

The paper is here.

Looks rather like contamination from the packaging process – it’s higher than in tap water for example.

My own reaction was we’ve an average of 23 pieces per litre of water (median, I think) and pieces are divided into more than 100 nm and less than (so, perhaps 50 nm on average for the smaller group). nm is a millionth of a metre.

Me, I’m going to go with this being equal to nothing in the vernacular. But I’ll admit that I get lost in 10-6, volume and length measurements and so on. Anyone like to tell us all what this actually is as contamination in ppm, or ppb?

It would be fun if this plastics concentration was less than, say, the allowable levels of As in drinking water…..

Banks create money so Moar Tax!

The second is that the current role of private banking in money creation is wholly dependent on central bank support: by themselves they do not create this value.

Second, why aren’t we taxing the seigniorage that they enjoy now but which is very clearly not theirs?

What seigniorage profits?

No, I get the theoretical arguments, creating money ab initio is a profitable thing to do. Banks create money apparently, therefore they must profit from doing so.

So, where is that profit? How much is it?

Ah, there’s the problem. They don’t make excess profits, do they? Return on equity in banking is, I think I’m right, below the national average. Thus there aren’t such seigniorage profits. Either the process costs as much as it makes, or they’re not making money itself.

Bit of a problem for the theory really.


It’s hell for Cheltenham bookies as fans and favourites make light of wet
There was no hiding place for the layers on day one of the Festival as, despite the soggy conditions, punters cashed in and had a day to remember

Apparently the Guardian has never heard of the idea of a bookie balancing his books……

Still, congratulations to the bookie’s PR firm for placing that story……

Sigh. Just Sigh

Given that large companies are paying less tax the time has come for a corporation tax increase

The point of large companies paying less tax is so that large companies pay less tax.

Thus not something that needs correction, is it?

Caveat Emptor

A graduate is suing her university, claiming boasts in its prospectus about high quality teaching and excellent career prospects were fraudulently misleading after she ended up with a “mickey mouse” degree.

Pok Wong, 29, is seeking more than £60,000 in damages from Anglia Ruskin University for what she says was a breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

But it is a mickey mouse degree……

Do snails eat birdshit?

In one of my little wanders around the garden as an interlude I spotted a snail having a go ad some bird shit.

So, do they eat it? I’m not going to spoil speculation by trying to look it up, obviously. And given that it’s a snail I can’t quite insist that it found it to be fingerlickin’ good.

But I don’t know what snails do eat – something about their mouth being in their stomach or something – and thus whether bird poo would be on the menu. For all I know soon to be guano is sufficiently acerbic to melt them.

Numbers and journalists

If Toys R Us liquidates,10 to 15 percent of all toy sales could be lost forever


Toys R Us could soon liquidate its U.S. operations and the result will leave a lasting impact on the toy industry, Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink wrote in a note to investors Friday.

While Toys R Us accounted for 15 to 20 percent of U.S. toy sales last year, not all of that will shift to other retailers when the retailer is gone. Instead, about 10 to 15 percent of this volume will fall through the cracks and be lost for good.

15% of 15% of 100% is not the same as 15% of 100%.


Pretty good system really

Sandbu makes a fundamental error. He thinks liberal, democratic capitalism is what we have had for forty years. It isn’t. We have had anti-democratic financial capitalism that does not seek to make profit from meeting need but does instead seek to do so by exploiting weakness and arbitraging rules to extract rents where none are due. It is this that is rightly under threat, albeit the source of the threat is to be deeply regretted.

That’s the system which has just delivered, in these past 40 years, the greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species.

I dunno about you but I consider that a success for a socio-economic system.

Tech help

Printers, printers.

OK, so, in the print queue on one machine I’ve a document it says is “deleting”. I cannot get it to print anything else while that is going on. But it’s bneen going on for days now, that deleting.

Know it’s not the printer, have hooked another machine up to it and printed something.

So, how do I get shot of that thing clogging up the print queue? Have highlighted and deleted. Have “cancel all print jobs”, all the obvious things that the system allows.

But that damn file is still there, blocking the queue.

Any ideas?


The dream of nuclear fusion is on the brink of being realised, according to a major new US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years.

Well, maybe, and they do make the old joke. But this is nonsense:

The reaction also does not create greenhouse gases or produce hazardous radioactive waste of the sort made by conventional nuclear fission reactors.

You really wouldn’t want to stand around the chunks of steel which make up the reactor after it’s been on for long.