Tim Worstall


Poland abortion: Top court backs almost all terminations

Err, no:

Poland’s top court has ruled that abortions in cases of foetal defects are unconstitutional.

Poland’s abortion laws were already among the strictest in Europe but the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling will mean an almost total ban.

“Backs” should read “blocks”.

The BBC gets £3.8 billion a year of taxdayers’ money.


What MMT says: a chance for the critics to take a pop

So someone does take a pop. Detailed and valid critiques – critiques, not disproofs nor criticisms.

Richard Murphy says:
October 21 2020 at 3:32 pm
Let’s conclude you’re pout of your depth here and haven’t tread MMT, as is very apparent to those who have

I have no more time to waste on your nonsense

Marc says:
October 21 2020 at 4:14 pm
I have critiqued MMT, which I thought was the purpose of this post, having read the title.

The questions I have asked are relevant and important, assuming MMT is to be taken seriously. Even more so if you think it should be used to manage fiscal and monetary policy. One would have thought that if MMT was an accurate description of “how the world actually works” as some have claimed, it would actually…..have a description?

It turns out that you can’t answer some of the questions, won’t answer others and the answers you do give are pretty much entirely incorrect. That is when you are not just answering a question with rhetoric or another question.

Then at the end of it all, you resort to being obnoxious, making a claim that I’m out of my depth (pretty bold, given the obvious and basic mistakes you make here and in some of the other posts of yours I have read) and then shutting down debate.

So I take it this post is not a place for critics to take a pop at MMT?

MMT can’t (and isn’t) be taken seriously because it can’t or won’t answer some basic questions. I thought that by asking those questions again you would be able to set the record straight and provide some of the answers. The closest you got was admitting that MMT doesn’t actually have a model as to how tax would be used to control inflation.

Richard Murphy says:
October 21 2020 at 4:32 pm
I’m delighted if [eople can critique MMT

You didn’t

You haven’t read it

And the claims you made were not true of MMT

That’s not a critique

You won’t get posted again



Richard Murphy says:
October 21 2020 at 12:09 pm
1. Trillions of QE around the world has not created inflation. Your claim is wrong.

So that deflation we’ve avoided through QE is summat else than inflation then, is it?

Well, yes, quite

King thinks otherwise. He says:

Far from it. Giving elected representatives the keys to the printing press is the equivalent of giving a gambling addict the keys to the casino.

In other words, democracy cannot be trusted and politicians, without the wise paternalist constraint if the banking community exercised through their club in Threadneedle Street, would run amok. The little faith he has in democracy is all too apparent.

Give Jezza, Snippa or Hancock, any of them, unlimited never running out chequebooks and the result will be?

Fascinating stuff

Also, if it were true that non-whites suffer from systemic racism throughout their lives — adversely affecting their health, education, income, housing, employment (the key determinants of health) — this would be reflected in life expectancy and overall mortality figures that are the best measures of overall health.

However, data from England and Scotland has shown that most ethnic minority groups have both better overall health and lower rates of all-cause mortality than white groups. Even over the course of the pandemic, despite the higher Covid death rates, overall mortality in ethnic minorities has not been higher than for whites.


Foreign rough sleepers face deportation from UK post-Brexit

Ms. Patel has just gained herself some millions of votes. Whether she should or not depends but I think that will be the general reaction.

Amazingly no, this isn’t how it works

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the mining company Anglo American over its alleged failure to prevent widespread toxic lead pollution in the Zambian town of Kabwe. The town hosted one of the world’s biggest lead mines for many decades and scientists have reported “alarming” levels of lead in people’s blood.

“The public environmental health disaster left behind by Anglo means there are more than 100,000 children and women of childbearing age in Kabwe who are likely to have suffered lead poisoning as a result of pollution caused by Anglo,” according to the filed legal documents.

Well, yes, lead mining might well do that. Especially when it started around the turn of the last century. You’re still advised not to eat the cabbages (which selectively absorb lead and cadmium) in Chilcompton for the same reason.


The lawyers argue that Anglo American’s South African subsidiary is liable as it was responsible for the mine from 1925 to 1974 and that this was when the majority of the pollution was caused. Anglo had “a duty of care to protect existing and future generations of residents of Kabwe”, according to the legal documents.

Well, not wholly and entirely. The mine came before the people. But that’s not the major issue here:

The class action alleges that Anglo America is liable for substantial emissions of lead into the local environment due to deficiencies in the operation of the mine and for failing to ensure the clean-up of contaminated land. The mine was transferred to a Zambian state-owned company in 1974 and closed in 1994.

Transferred is a delicate word. It was nationalised. And that’s one of them things. You take over another company and sure, you get the benefits. You also get the costs. As vast numbers of companies have found out with, say, asbestos. You buy – just as a theoretical example you understand – some company in the 1980s which used asbestos in the 1950s and you’re responsible now laddie. You end up paying now for the damage caused by the pollution then.

That inheritance of liabilities doesn’t go away just because you’re a government….

Go buy some cheap t-shirts

When Hla, 19, tried to go back to work seven months ago after having a baby, there were no jobs. Hundreds of garment factories in Myanmar had closed after western fashion brands cancelled orders due to the pandemic, leaving thousands of women jobless.

As lockdown gripped Yangon, her marriage broke down, her husband left, and her father had to sell his trishaw – no longer able to take passengers in the city. Her parents and baby were hungry. Five months ago, she became a sex worker.

No, go on. Go buy a handful of £1 t-shirts. Increase the business at garment sweatshops so as to buy Hla out of sexual exploitation.

And then, when some upper middle class bint at The Guardian clucks and tsks at you about your rape of the natural environment through your fast fashion addiction you can punch her in the mouth.

So, one of them calculation things

Vis a vis something I saw this morning.

So, how much human labour would be required to handspin the current global output of machine spun yarn?

Weird question I know. But interesting all the same for a certain level of interest.

I see one modern number which is 40 metres per second of yarn from a modern machine.

I see a re-enactor number (which is probably longer than actual pre-modern wimmins who did this a lot) of one metre a minute.

After much practice since this past spring, I now can spin an arm’s length of highly twisted fine thread, using the long draw, with naturally colored cotton whose fiber length is less than an inch, with my brass Indian takhli support spindle, in less than one minute.

Those are good enough numbers.

At which point I get stuck. Can’t see any numbers for global production of yarn in metres (70 million tonnes for manmade, but that’s not quite the same thing) and 70 billion sq metres of cloth made in India alone a year. But what’s length of yarn to sq m of cloth? Yes, obviously, depends upon the yarn and the cloth. But some rough idea?

The aim is to work backwards. The machines are 2,400 times faster at the spinning than humans alone (although the hand spin is still using a machine we’ll overlook that). So, how many human labour hours do we need to produce the current global production of yarn?

A guess here is that there’s not enough female labour hours among the 7 billion of us to produce that amount. But it would be fun to check that.

Aha. Global yarn (cotton, and cotton alone) production is perhaps 20 million tonnes. Not an accurate number but useful as to magnitude.

Hmm. T-shirts seem to be made from cloth that is 200 grammes per square metre. Ish-ish.

But that’s still not getting to metres of yearn per fabric produced which is what we need for hours of labour…..

OK, and yes, the $3,500 shirt in the comments. 2,000 metres of thread/yarn to 1 sq m of cloth. We have 70 billion sq m of cloth. And so 140 trillion metres of thread. Or, 140 trillion womanminutes of handspinning. Divide by 60 and 2,000 (minutes per hour and hours of a working year) to give us 1166666666 hours. Or, 1,166,666,666 woman years of labour.

Hmm, surprises. It would actually be possible to do this by hand. If one third of all women, of all ages, did nothing but hand spinning we could produce the world’s current consumption of cloth.

Anyone got any different calculations to offer?

Tee hee

The only vaguely coherent motive I have seen from anyone comes from Richard Murphy, the self-styled father of Corbynomics, and it is nuts. Murphy reckons that “herd immunity” (which he wrongly thinks is a veterinary term) is “the economics of neoliberalism running riot” and that the end goal is a “cull of the elderly”. Aside from the fact that the explicit aim of “Focused Protection“ is to protect the elderly, it is a mystery why Charles Koch, aged 84, would support such a diabolical plan.

Basics Here, Basics, They Do Matter

I have heard it said that only the mad and economists think that perpetual growth is possible in a finite world.

Kenneth Boulding but still.

(Chart of rise in GDP per capita.)

Is that growth mad?

Is it unreal?

Is it unsustainable?

Is it time economics realised that this cannot continue and ask, in stead, what else is possible?

The answer to all four is yes.

At which point we need some basics. What is GDP? It is the value added in the economy over a set period of time.

Is adding more value mad?

Is adding more value unreal?

Is adding more value unsustainable?

Does economics need to realise that this cannot continue and instead ask what else is possible?

The answer to all four is no.

Consider this for a moment. The next argument – we can see this one coming down the pike from a mile away – is that instead of increasing GDP we should be trying to increase security, or love, or community because these add real value to our lives. Sure, so, we’re increasing value then, right?

But then Spud never has bothered to find out what economics is trying to tell him, has he?

Odd this

The UK government always said it could not legislate for Jersey.

Can’t think of any UK government who would ever say something so stupid.

The 1973 Kilbrandon Report stated that “In international law the United Kingdom Government is responsible for the Islands’ international relations” and “also responsible for the defence of the Islands”.[37] The United Kingdom is responsible for Jersey’s international relations as an aspect of the island’s status as a Crown dependency. It is now normal practice for the UK to consult the Jersey government and seek their consent before entering into treaty obligations affecting the island.


The truth is, of course, that it could always have legislated to stop tax abuse and corruption, but it chose not to.

That it now thinks it can legislate on fish proves that.

And shows that it never had any intention of beating tax abuse and corruption.

Which does, of course, show how corrupt it is.

Who gets to fish what, where, being one of those international relations things. That’s why the UK and rEU are discussing it right now, see?

Las Ramblas

Not to be missed from Baron Jackfield:

One of my friends recently had his pocket picked there… Nothing out of the ordinary really, except that he’s a Spanish plain-clothes policeman and a member of the team targeting pickpockets on Las Ramblas! 🙂

My own experience of the street goes back 30 years or so. The once, 30 years ago that is.

A major memory is that the further down toward the Chris Columbus thing you got the less likely it was the whores were female. All presenting as such but the ability to do so declined markedly.

The observation coming not from being a likely customer you understand, it was just rather obvious. Presumably it becomes species that is called into question right by the statue.

Well, yes, but……

Davis might have fared better if he had not rejected a young hopeful named Reg Dwight, who auditioned to replace Winwood.

The impression I get is that Reg auditioned for everyone and everything back then. Undoubted skill and talent etc but no one was really quite sure where it was going to fit in….

Err, yes?

Donald Trump maintains a bank account in China where he pursued licensing deals for years, according to a report that could undermine the president’s election campaign claim that he is tough on Beijing.

Tax records reviewed by the New York Times showed a previously unreported bank account in China controlled by Trump International Hotels Management. The account paid $188,561 in taxes in China between 2013 and 2015 in connection to potential licensing deals, according the newspaper.

Earlier reporting by the Times showed he paid just $750 in US taxes in 2016 and 2017.

If the NYT actually thought about this they’d realise that the taxes Trump paid in China come off his US tax bill…..

14% eh?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection has found that 300,000 excess deaths were recorded in the US this year – 66% of which are accounted for by the official coronavirus death toll of around 220,000. Excess deaths refer to how many more deaths have been reported in total this year compared with the same period last year. Usually, between the beginning of February and the end of September, about 1.9 million deaths are reported. This year, it is closer to 2.2 million – a 14.5% increase. The remaining deaths, the CDC wrote, “provide information about the degree to which Covid-19 deaths might be underascertained”.

So, is that more or less than the normal variabilty seen over time?

Follow the logic here

La Rambla: plans to transform Barcelona’s tourist rat run into a cultural hub

An ambitious project is under way to turn one of the world’s most overrun streets into an the ‘immersive art centre of southern Europe’

So, logically, they’re saying that more arts means less people. That art itself repels?

Well, of modern art that probably is true, yes.