Tim Worstall

A Little More Evidence

This binge drinking thing, this heavy consumption of alcohol:

French doctors warned last month that the country was beginning to adopt the British taste for heavy drinking, with young people fast developing an appetite for the copious consumption of alcohol.

Brittany has always been ahead of that trend, long holding a reputation as the region with the heaviest drinkers.

Might there be something tribal to it? Celts and Anglo Saxons bein more prone to blotting out the horrors of the world with booze? Brittany is the most celtic part of France, after all….

Department of the Blindingly Obvious.

Britain is facing an infertility timebomb because the increasing use of IVF means that couples with inherited fertility problems are able to have children and pass the condition on to the next generation, scientists report today.

Well, duh!

Where the inability to have children is as a result of a genetic defect, if those genes get passed along…..

Although it also has to be pointed out that donor insemination, the largest part of the assisted conception industry, clearly doesn\’t suffer from the same problems.

Smoking in Pregnancy

Looks like it\’s not as bad as we are told:

The report uses data from the UK National Child Development Study, which provides details of mothers and their children between 1973 and 2000 — a total of 3,368 women and 6,860 children.

The information includes the mothers’ smoking habits, information about their families, and the birthweight and gestation period of the children.

Analysis of the data shows that smoking throughout pregnancy reduces birthweight by 5.6 per cent, and the gestation period by just over a day. But when the results are corrected for other factors, such as diet, lifestyle and alcohol, the effect of smoking on birthweight drops to 1.8 per cent and the reduction in gestation becomes insignificant.

A rule of thumb from many years ago: each cigarette smoked per day reduced, on average, the birth weight by 5 grammes. As a healthy baby is in the 2.5-3 kg range, 10 fags a day reduces birth weight by what, 2%?

Caroline Lucas

Talking about those numbers showing the CO2 emissions of shipping:

From a technical point of view, this means it is crucial that there be limits on the number of emission rights the shipping sector is permitted to buy from other industries – to prevent it simply carrying on with business as usual, on the back of progress made in other sectors.

She still doesn\’t get it, does she?

And, more generally, it does also ultimately mean looking at the amount and the manner in which we consume. Is it really the best use of fuel and emissions to ferry 13,000 containers of toys, food, clothes and televisions from China to Europe each month on the Emma Maersk and others like her, for example? These are issues to be explored in a hearing I will host for MEPs next month, and I look forward to seeing the same level of debate develop over shipping as we have at long last reached on aviation – hopefully, to be followed up rapidly with rather more effective action than has been generated there.

Aren\’t we lucky to have a Ph.D. in Elizabethan Literature discussing such economic matters for us?

The entire point of tradeable permits (or carbon taxes, if you prefer) is that we reduce emissions in whichever sector we can reduce them most cheaply, allowing us to go on with those emittive activities which we value more. And the determinantors of which activities we value more are we, the consumers. That\’s actually what the whole system is supposed to do: reduce emissions at the least cost to human happiness, that happiness determined by the people doing the happying.

So let us set up something of a straw man. We need to reduce emissions by 90%. Shipping currently is 4.5% of the total, aviation about the same. Call it 10% all in. OK, if we, in our actions as consumers, decide that we\’ll do away with al other emissions and keep the shippingand aviation, as those are the most valuable things to us,. that\’s just fine. Mission accomplished, eh?

Now of course, that is ridiculous, we wouldn\’t actually want to do that: but it is were the logic of permits leads: set the limit and then let the market work out for you which are the activities most valued and thus the ones which get to carry on.

Very Dodgy Logic Here

Very dodgy indeed.

But Angela Eagle, a junior Treasury minister, said: "The Government rejects the notion that there is a windfall, as any increase in VAT receipts from the retail fuel sector is not by design."

Edmund King, the president of the AA, accused the Government of being "disingenuous".

He said: "If you take into account what they are getting in Petroleum Revenue Tax from the North Sea, the Treasury has enjoyed a £4billion windfall."

There\’s three different taxes here. First, I buy the VAT argument from the government side. It\’s a consumption tax levied upon, guess what, consumption, and if relative prices in the economy change that\’s no reason to go mucking about with the rates of said consumption tax.

Second, there\’s PRT, a tax on the crude pumped up. This is a royalty in fact: oil companies are entitled to the value added they provide by exploration, pumping, drilling etc, but not to hte basic value of the oil itself: that\’s a natural resource endowment and should be taxed, in the same way as a land value tax. It\’s one of the few parts of the economy where we do in fact tax in this correct manner. Further, the rate of that tax makes no difference at all to what motorists pay at the pump. The presence or abscence of the tax makes no difference to the global price of oil and thus not to the price charged the motorist.

If anything, it\’s a transfer from shareholders to government: and rightly so.

Finally, there\’s fuel duty itself. There the govt\’s case is a great deal weaker.

However, I\’d like to ask a question. The fuel duty escalator: brought in by the Tories (?) the intention was to increase the relative price of petrol so as to take account of the climate change effects, wasn\’t it?

OK, so how much has the fuel duty escalator increased the price of a litre of petrol so far? Anyone know?

The CO2 costs of petrol would be fully covered by a 10 p tax per litre. Has the escalator already managed that?


Bungling Whitehall officials got their Newcastles mixed up and gave £2.7 million meant for the North East city to its namesake in the Potteries.

Newcastle-under-Lyme, population 74,000, was handed the cash instead of Newcastle upon Tyne, the regional capital of the North East.

After all, they made the same sort of confusion with the Dukedom.

He\’s Right You Know

In a statement, Mr Malik said: "It is a great thing to live in a country where the Lord Chief Justice takes the time from hearing important cases to see if a group of unknown students have been fairly convicted for reading the wrong kind of literature.

Although I wouldn\’t say that this case was unimportant. The Lord Chief Justice protecting our basic liberties and freedoms seems pretty important to me.

Idiot PR Email of the Day

Some book or other:

….why the sub-prime markets are effecting more than just people looking at foreclosures…

No, it\’s affecting, you sub-literate fool.

Please, fuck off.


Just a short note to boost my post over at the other blog on the subject of Pay-Ads.com.

Anyone who would care to help get out the message about said Pay-Ads.com please do so by linking with Pay-Ads.com as your anchor text and linking to the post on the other blog.


Mark Steel: Idiot

New Labour certainly keep their promises. Before they were elected, they promised to reform the loophole that enables the super-rich to avoid paying tax, by claiming "non-domicile tax status". And now, 11 years later, they\’re still promising to do it.

This ruse involves living in Britain while not being an official resident, and is one of the main ways in which the richest 54 billionaires in the country have paid on average 1 and a half per cent tax.

Erm, no.

If you are not resident in the UK you do not pay tax at all in the UK. Non-doms are resident in the UK which is why they pay full UK tax on their UK earnings and full UK tax on earnings from other countries which they bring into the UK. But because they are resident but not domiciled they do not pay UK tax on money that they earn in other countries anddo not bring into the UK. If they were not residents we would call them non-residents: the fact that we call them non-domiciles rather than non-residents might be the smallest of clues to the fact that they are not "living in Britain while not being an official resident"


And to claim that billionaires pay 1.5% tax….1.5% of what? Their wealth? We don\’t even have a wealth tax, dingbat!

Kinky Lifestyle

Our John B:

If someone had told my 15-year-old self that in the year 2008, I’d be a high-powered professional, up at twenty to one on a Tuesday night in the heart of the big city, eating fried chicken and exploring the innermost parts of models, then I’d\’ve been quite pleased about the way my life was going to turn out.

Right On!

The one redeeming feature of the place was the kids. They were anarchic, testosterone fuelled, BMX heroes who could find a way through two insurance padlocks and an engine immobiliser on a piece of site plant in 10 minutes flat. They were fit, lean, lithe, careless of any danger, disrespectful of any authority, infinitely crafty and resourceful and bored out of their skulls. The kids were at war with the whiny minging estate cunts. You can tell I liked them.

I had a visit from the local plod sergeant – a weasel faced little dickhead puffed with the stupidity of his own importance but who hadn\’t outgrown his acne scars. He wanted my help to \’trap\’ some of the kids. "We can\’t let PCSOs patrol here because the kids throw stones at them" he said. "Well, they don\’t fucking throw stones at me, mate" I said "Perhaps it\’s because I treat them like adults and have a banter and a laugh with them". He didn\’t like that.

What the place needed more than anything else was a paternal seen-it-all NCO with 20 years under his belt and a pile of attestation forms – these kids were God\’s own natural soldiers. Three months at Catterick and swapping their BMXs for GPMGs and I swear to God they would have out-soldiered, out-fought, out-thought and trounced any other foreign military force on the planet.

We have traditionally produced the finest infantry in the world from precisely those kids: mix in those NCO\’s and add a few chinless wonders to wave batons and drawl, "Come on men, I know you won\’t let The Regiment down" and you can conquer a quarter of the globe, as we did.

We might not want to do the conquering bit again but the (voluntary, of course) training might not be a bad idea, eh?