Tim Worstall

The Death of Recorded Music

Interesting piece about the economics of CDs and touring: there\’s a lot more to be said on the subject, of course.

But I will admit to a certain surprise at the surprise that\’s being shown here. OK, technology changes so the way a specific product (in this case, listening to music) is delivered also changes, changing the necessary business model.

Has no one read Schumpter? This is how it\’s supposed to work, isn\’t it?

Ballotting on Grammar Schools

Something that slightly puzzles me here:

Labour is set to reignite the political row over selective education by making it easier for disaffected parents to force the closure of their local grammar schools.

Jim Knight, the schools minister, has instructed officials to look at how to simplify the balloting process by which schools can be forced to drop selection under a 1998 law.

Why is there no mention of being able to have a ballot to enforce selection? Is it simply because the article doesn\’t mention it? Or is it not actually possible to ask for such a ballot. And if the latter, why not?

That Postal Strike


More than 100,000 million letters and parcels have already been left undelivered by to the present walkout, but officials at the Communication Workers Union are planning a fresh wave of strikes that threaten to cause constant disruption beyond Christmas.

100,000 million? You mean some 2,000 for every adult in the Kingdom? Impressive, I must say.

On one day, sorting office staff will strike, a union official disclosed. The next day it will be the turn of delivery staff, with drivers walking out the following day and technical and support staff on other days.

So they\’ll cripple the service indefinitely uty only lose one day\’s pay each week each. Clever, in a sense, maximum disruption at the least short term cost to the workers. But I have to admit, I\’m really not sure what they hope to achieve in the long term. The monopoly over delivery has gone hasn\’t it? They\’ll just be building up their own competitors.

A Step Forward and Then Two Back

Amanda Marcotte:

They have figured out what feminists have been noting for a long time—that the gap between men and women economically is now more a gap between mothers and everyone else.

It\’s not just feminists who have been saying this of couse, economists have been shouting it from the rooftops as well. Why, even I have been known to make the point a time or two. The gender pay gap is an issue of childbirth and child rearing, not a result of direct discrimination against women. Still good news that this important point is gaining traction on the wilder shores of the feminist blogosphere. That\’s the step forward.

But it’s also true that this is evidence that we need federally subsidized day care, more worker protections for working mothers, better maternal leave (and maybe even mandatory paternal leave), more flex time at work, and less social stigma on motherhood.

And that\’s the two steps back. For what is the mechanism by which child birth and child rearing create the gender pay gap? Why, it\’s because mothers of children are more expensive to employ. Because maternal leave costs money, because worker protections cost money, because flex time costs money. (Mandatory paternal leave would also cost money, which would convert the current gender pay gap into a parental pay gap.)

So the solution offered to the perceived inequity of economic income and freedom is to restrict said economic freedom and depress such incomes?

Perhaps slightly more thought is required here?



Geeky Economics Request

I see in Wikipedia the following:

Ricardo became interested in economics after reading Adam Smith\’s The Wealth of Nations in 1799 on a vacation to the English resort of Bath. This was Ricardo\’s first contact with economics. He wrote his first economics article at age 37 and within another ten years he reached the height of his fame.

Ricardo\’s work with the stock exchange made him quite wealthy, which allowed him to retire from business in 1814 at the age of 42. He then purchased and moved to Gatcombe Park, an estate in Gloucestershire.

Gatcombe Park is of course where the Princess Royal lives now. But other than that, does anyone know the address in Bath where Ricardo first read Smith?

Being a Bathonian and, as is well, known, something of an economics geek, I\’d love to find out. Any ideas? Any ideas about how to even find out?

Good News: Sorta

So the Govt has indeed changed its mind:

Iraqi interpreters and other key support staff who have risked their lives to work for Britain are to be allowed to settle in the United Kingdom, The Times has learnt.

Hundreds of interpreters and their families are to be given assistance to leave Iraq, where they live under fear of death squads because they collaborated with British forces. Those wishing to remain in Iraq or relocate to neighbouring countries will be helped to resettle.

After a two-month campaign by The Times, Gordon Brown is set to announce that interpreters who have worked for the British Government for 12 months will be given the opportunity of asylum in Britain.

The offer also applies retrospectively to interpreters who worked for the Government but have ceased to do so. Government sources have disclosed that a few hundred vital support staff would also be helped, although they declined to give details.

The question is, will this cover everyone at risk? And how will it operate bureaucratically? Still need to know more of the details.

nef Report on Interdependence

Most amusing. nef has a report out today pointing out that we all have to acknowledge our interdependence. The way in which no man or nation can deal with the world entirely on their own, that there\’s a web of connections that link us all.

They then suggest that we deal with this by not trading with our fellow human beings in other nations, that we become self-sufficient in food, in energy and so on, in short, we should acknowledge our interdependence by becoming independent.

Masterly logic from nef, as always.

750,000 Get No State Pension


The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) said 754,000 women aged between 60 and 69 did not receive any state pension because they had not made enough National Insurance contributions.

And the problem with this is what? As the State pension is contributory if you don\’t pay in it\’ll not pay out.

"Around one in five older people still live below the official poverty line and whilst ministers talk of respect and dignity, there can be no dignity until all pensioners, men and women, get a decent state pension as of right that takes them out of means testing and financial insecurity."

That "taking out of means testing" is the important bit. If you didn\’t make the contributions, you don\’t get the pension. But if you\’re poor (ie, didn\’t contribute to another pension perhaps) then you do get the minimum income guarantee. Which is, I think, actually higher than the basic state pension isn\’t it?

That Mandelson Peerage

So Tony Blair is not going to have a resignation honours list. Fine, whatever. However:

Some former Blair ministers, such as Peter Mandelson, would have expected peerages. Mr Blair is hoping that Mr Brown will give him a suitable award for his role in the creation of New Labour. Mr Brown would have to bury his differences with Mr Mandelson, who criticised his party conference speech last week.

Hmm. Not sure about that at all. Can you be a Commissioner if you\’re also a member of the legislature of a member state? Kinnock would have got a peerage for having been Leader of the Oppo: but he didn\’t get it untl afterhe had been a Commissioner. Chris Patten would have got one anyway for his Ministerial career: ditto, after leaving the Commission. In fact, I think it\’s pretty much settled that a retiring Commissioner gets a peerage anyway isn\’t it?

Only a minor point, of course, but I don\’t think that Mandy would have got one even if there had been a resignation honours list.

Umm, Iain?

I\’ve written this week\’s diary for The Spectator, which you can read HERE. Due to the postal strike, I suspect the paper version won\’t land on your doormat until Saturday.

Err, doubt it. They\’re on strike on Saturday.


Quote of the Day II

Does someone who has spent his whole life waiting to be Prime Minister want to risk it so early on? I wouldn\’t. But then, I\’m not a one eyed, two faced morally perfect, economically retarded knob.

Anyway, I hope there isn\’t an election. Give us a referendum instead, you selfish fucker. Let us have a choice over something that matters, rather than the last 25% of how we\’re governed…