July 2018


It’s a point I’ve made often enough:

One of the regular complaints about the effect of Walmart on small town America has been that it kills jobs when its stores turn up. Mom-and-pop retailers close down, and Walmart itself requires fewer workers than the smaller joints it replaces. This is entirely true, and it’s also entirely fine, even desirable and admirable. The aim, point, and process of economic advance is to kill jobs— to get the task done with the use of less human labor.

India is just starting to see protests against that first stage of the same process, which is unfolding as Walmart swallows Flipkart, a locally grown cross between Amazon and e-Bay. The people protesting are the millions of independent traders who currently make up India’s retail landscape. They’re entirely justified in protesting as a larger and more efficient online behemoth will indeed put many of them out of business and kill off their jobs and employment.

I do like this complaint

For most people who have a baby, it is inconceivably hard. Modern society protects us from most of the ravages of nature – serious illness, cold, discomfort and pain. But in childbirth and looking after a newborn, we experience the harsh realities of our basic existence; we get closer to our primal selves. And we’re not used to it. Coupled with this, a lack of social support structures means women often end up isolated and struggling. As a facilitator for Mothers Uncovered, a Brighton-based charity that focuses on the mother rather than the child, I see it all the time.

Those men have gone out and built a society around us that takes the pain out of near all that primal existence. But they’ve still not managed to stop that pain of childbirth.


Those social support structures like neighbours, grandparents, aunts – you know all that the modern left has insisted must be replaced by government. And that pain – pretty sure that anaesthesia helps. As does the risk of death in any one pregnancy falling from 2 % to 0.002% I’d guess (no, really, 2,000 per hundred thousand to 2 these days).

But what bastards, men, eh?

Seems fair

Hopes of building a £1.3bn “tidal lagoon” in Wales to generate energy by harnessing the power of the tide have been dashed after the Government said project does not offer value for money.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the scheme – which would have been a world first – would not receive public funding because the power it produced would be three times more expensive than than energy from Hinkley Point nuclear power station.

At today’s prices, the same amount of power from the lagoon over 60 years would cost £400m to be generated from offshore wind farms – the cost of which is expected to fall in the future.

Grossly expensive isn’t the technology to favour really, is it?

Not what he does but how he does it

Mexico’s leftist Lopez Obrador wins largest landslide in country’s history

Kill off corruption, get that economy motoring, raise the incomes of pensioners…..well, that’s all fine.

The question is, how do you do it? The Venezuela method? Or the free market one?

For example, the oil industry. Re-establish the state monopoly? That’s going to lower corruption, isn’t it? Or how about let anyone play then tax the snot out of the resource rents?

The aims – largely at least – are fine. It’s the methods which matter.

Well, he’s right of course, but..

Unfortunately he is wrong: that is exactly what the prerequisite of real independence is. Without its own currency x would not be truly independent, most especially from the y. Let me just list the things over which it will have no control if it pursues monetary union.

X would not have an effective central bank, which many see as key to economic policy. You can’t have an effective central bank without your own currency.

As a result x would have no control over the amount of money circulating in its economy, and so will not be able to use that control to influence the economy, including its inflation rate, which will be entirely beyond its ability to address.

Nor will x be in control of its own government budget, so it would not be able to stimulate the economy by running a deficit, for instance. That is because the Government would be forced to balance its books unless it borrowed in a foreign currency, which would make it hard, if not impossible, to maintain parity with the pound.

And x would not control the interest rate at which its government and the rest of the economy borrowed money and would instead have those rates (and other conditions) imposed upon it.

In other words, for all practical purposes, the xish Government would have no effective control of any of the measures used to control its economy. In fact, it would be worse off than it is now. It would have, post independence without its own currency, about as much power over the economy of x as a local council has over that in its district, which as any councillor will tell you is minimal. It’s fair to say that such a xish Government would be in office but virtually powerless. It is very hard to understand why anyone wishing for independence would wish for that.

All quite correct. Tuber is talking about Scotland and the pound of course, but it does all apply to the euro as well. In fat, it’s a rather good description of why the euro is such a bad idea, isn’t it?

We’re on the verge of the Third* English Civil War


So I have pondered on how deep that mess is, and what the appropriate comparisons might be. It’s hard to be sure what they are. The 1930s were grim. But there wasn’t, maybe, the political paralysis that we now see.

The Irish question in the last 19th century created some paralysis, but it has to be contrasted with a nation that was, overall, confident with itself.

The comings and goings of German royalty on the British throne created various stresses in the 18th century that continued until the Victorian era but not, as far as I can see, a paralysis to match that we now have.

I have to really go back to the English Civil War era to find anything to match that. That is both in the era leading to the war, and in its aftermath when stable government around any constant bar Cromwell proved to be impossible.

*The second being the American Revolution.

Erm, why?

The BBC has more than 400 transgender staff, a confidential internal survey has revealed.

The figure represents more than one in 50 of the workforce – about four times higher than the proportion in the population at large.

And it stunned the BBC executive behind the research, who described the total number of trans employees, at 417, as ‘very, very high’.

Tunde Ogungbesan, the BBC’s director of diversity, has now launched a major reform to make the Corporation more ‘trans-friendly’ following the findings.

The facts – OK. But the action, why?

Having a portion of something 4 times that in the general population would seem to indicate already being pretty friendly to that something, no?

Well, yes and no really

I think it is just as well for the City and the world of high finance that I lost all interest in matters fiscal after completing an A-level in economics.

Supply and demand, the multiplier effect, macro and micro economics, bull and bear markets. Basically understood. Fast forward from long ago last century to the present day… bond yields, derivatives, interim permissions, net FDI balances. Nope, not a clue.

Thus one goes to the wise men of economic interpretation, in hope of light being shed, and what do you find? A man I regularly turn to for elucidation last week had a fit of the nonsenses. Digesting Donald Trump’s trade threats, he came up with: “Deficits and surpluses must necessarily sum to zero.” A few paragraphs later, he was back on familiar ground: “In other words, the two effects will net to zero.” I’m not saying that this is complete tosh, but it certainly smells rather off.

Off? It’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. As Bootle says:

This isn’t exactly the justification that president Trump gives for his actions, nor indeed does it reflect what he seems to understand about international trade.

He seems to believe that the trade balance is like a company’s profit statement. Exports are good and imports are bad. Accordingly, if your exports exceed your imports then you are “winning” and if your imports exceed your exports then you are “losing”. Moreover, he seems to believe that this is true even on a bilateral basis. This is the economics of the madhouse. Since deficits and surpluses must necessarily sum to zero, the implication of Trump’s economic philosophy is that international trade brings no net benefit for the world as a whole.

Quite clearly true, no?

Isn’t this illegal?

There will be no deafening indie music, no boozed-up moshing and definitely no queues for the urinals. There, will, however, be vaginal steaming, feminist debate, and a chance for contemplation in the sacred womb tent.

Make way for Women Fest, Britain’s first ever all-women festival, billed as an event of radical participation that aims to explore the “power and magic” that happens when women gather together, and the impact it can have on the wider world.

After a year of sexual politics dominated by women’s marches and the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the festival hopes to bring together 400 women on a farm outside Frome in Somerset in August.

Women only being just as much sex discrimination as men only?