Tim Worstall


To Neil Boorman:

And when the time came to pass that water out the other end, there were plenty of public toilets to choose from. Today, I must buy a bottle of water for £1 and, later on, plead with the manager of a coffee shop or pub to let me use the toilet.

Seems the prostate problems have kicked in rather younger than is usual.

Polly Today


US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn

I know Polly doesn\’t do finance but really….here it is in full context:

The UK is still at the top of the G7 developed countries for growth, and employment is still rising, with interest rates low and falling. Meanwhile world oil prices have tripled, US sub-prime debt has topped $100bn, and in Germany not one bank but three have had to be taken over by state banks after hitting the rocks.

Wht she means is that the acknowledged losses, the ones that banks have owned up to, are $100 billion. And even that figure is wrong (too low). Sub-Prime is well over a $ trillion. Sigh.

So Labour needs to attract deeper loyalty, better reasons why people should support it –

Anyone got any good ideas? I\’m completely out I\’m afraid.

More Long Hours Culture

Professorial twit over at CiF:

Ever got home on a Friday night and felt so knackered after a week\’s work that all you wanted to do was stay in bed for the whole weekend? Or that, with the freedom of the weekend, almost anything was possible but that by early Sunday afternoon, the weekend is over, as thoughts turn to Monday? What about feeling all of the above, week-in, week-out?

Or ever felt that, in order to get ready to go on holiday, you had to work harder to clear your desk of work? Or that going away on holiday had an even heavier price to pay – coming back to all the work that built up for you when you were away? Or that to avoid this, you took work away with you?

All these are just some examples of the way that workers experience the daily grind of work under capitalism, where the most significant part of their waking hours is spent at work.

My response in the comments:

There\’s only one problem with this article. It doesn\’t define "work" properly.
There are two forms of work. That which is done for wages, outside the home. And that done inside the home for no wages. Both are work. (Try telling any random feminist that it is not work to run a home.)
What has been happening over recent decades (for a century or more in fact) is that paid working hours for men have been declining, paid working hours for women rising. But unpaid working hours for men have also been falling and unpaid working hours for women falling faster. Both of these falls are largely to do with technology, washing machines, freezers, cars that need less maintenance etc. The net effect has been that leisure hours (ie, total hours not spent working) have been rising for both men and women.

Now if we try to do a cross-country comparison of working hours we need to take account of both the paid working hours and the unpaid in the home. For example, one study I\’ve seen shows that American women do more paid working hours than German. But Germans do more unpaid working hours in the home than American. The net effect is that German women work half an hour longer than Americans per week.
(I think I\’m remembering the results of that paper correctly.)

If you don\’t define work properly then you\’ll not be able to say anything interesting about the problem: as in the article above. Why doesn\’t the Professor come back when he\’s got some cross country comparisons of total working hours and then we\’ll talk about it?

Wonder what the responses to that will be like?

Let\’s Nationalise Pharma Research

So says Dean Baker. Yup, great idea. Best response so far:


Have the politicians hire contractors to do the research. 20 billion is a vast amount of money. What percent of the contractors will be relatives of or major contributors to politicians. The government has a wonderful track record in dealing with contractors. This is an ideal task for Halliburton.

The Long Hours Culture

The survey found the sectors with the most severe long-hours culture were transport, where 52% of managers averaged at least two hours of unpaid overtime a day, and IT, at 45%. Long hours were least prevalent in central and local government, where only 27% of managers reported working two hours or more overtime.

That\’s a real surprise, isn\’t it?

What it does show is that those in the public sector are actually doing less work than those in the private: so they should be paid less.


Seven of Michael Martin\’s predecessors as Speakers of the House met a grisly end, courtesy of an executioner. We live in different times,….

Sadly so: but could we not just hang them all?

Obama Plagiarism Row

Methinks Hillary is struggling a little:

At the Democratic Party of Wisconsin dinner on Saturday, Mr Obama was defending himself against repeated accusations by Mrs Clinton that he spouts empty rhetoric.

Arguing that words do have the power to inspire, he recited three famous American historical phrases. "I have a dream – just words? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal – just words? We have nothing to fear but fear itself – just words? Just speeches?" he said.

Mr Patrick used the same rhetorical device two years ago with two of the same questions, but in a different order.

It\’s a damn good rhetorical device that. Nicking somone else\’s good ideas is to be admired in a politician really. If the worst you can say about your opponent is that he\’s capable of spotting said good ideas then, well, I do think you\’re struggling a little.

Crock Exposure

The cost of the Northern Rock crisis has reached the equivalent of £3,500 for every taxpayer as experts warned that the nationalisation rescue of the bank was bound to fail.

Well, yes, makes a nice scare story. That\’s take the entire £110 billion at risk and divide by the number of taxpayers.

But that statement is in fact assuming that every single one of the Crock mortgages stops paying on them, there\’s no value at all in any of the properties they\’re secured on and…..well, that isn\’t the real number then, is it?

Quite what should be done next I\’m not sure. They supposedly have a decent mortgage origination department (stop sniggering at the back there) which might be worth something to someone else. Flog that off and then run it down?

But I admit I haven\’t actually thought about it very much. Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Praise Where Praise is Due

I slag off the public services something rotten so it\’s only fair to remark when they\’ve done something efficiently.

Bath (actually BANES) have been most efficient in getting me back onto the electoral register. Well done them (it might even be a Wendy Loretz responsible, so well done her).

I\’ve also joined UKIP.

So the next thing is to get the application to be a candidate in. SW Region, as that\’s where I was born, grew up and is still my UK address.

Those who might want to join to vote for me (or against me of course) can do so here.

Those who don\’t want to do that quite yet will have to wait until those who do have, I find out whether I will actually be a candidate and then you *might* be able to vote for or against.


On American Politics


What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa\’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates.

Also here.

The thought that winning the popular vote might not get you a majority of the delegates. Haven\’t we been here before? Maybe they should get an expert in to change the party rules or something.

What\’s Al Gore been doing the last 8 years?

More Bottled Water Nonsense

The environment minister, Phil Woolas, tells the programme it is also a moral issue that bottled water is being sent to Britain when many countries have no access to safe drinking water.

Some of the most expensive bottled mineral water comes from Fiji – yet one in three Fijians does not have access to safe tap water.

Excellent, so they sell stuff that comes bubbling up out of the ground for free to rich idiots on the other side of the world and then build a mains water system with the money. Pretty neat idea, hunh?

The Value of Trade

OK, OK, so these people are idiots but let\’s take their figures at face value shall we?

The United Kingdom is drastically over-populated and could support only 17 million people if it had to provide for the current 60 million from its own resources, says a study published on Monday.

That means 43 million people are alive, hale and hearty, because we trade with the rest of the world.

Good thing we do really, isn\’t it?

Northern Crock

The economic credibility of Gordon Brown\’s government has suffered a serious blow after the Chancellor was forced to announce the nationalisation of Northern Rock – the first time that a major high street bank has been taken into state ownership in modern times.

What\’s it been? 6 months of dithering?

Investors in Northern Rock, which has about 144,000 small shareholders, are likely to take legal action. Robin Ashby, from the Northern Rock Small Shareholders\’ Group, said: "I\’m shocked and appalled. Unless they come up with a fair compensation offer, the big shareholders are going to sue them."

That is to laugh. The shares aren\’t in fact worth anything. Absent the various guarantees that is. Darling is to value it thusly:

Chancellor Alistair Darling said an independent auditor would determine how much shareholders should get, but the bank would be valued as if it had not received any government support, indicating a minimal payout if anything.

Seems fair: the one group of people who really ought to lose money here are the shareholders. That\’s what the game is about, you earn the money if you investment prospers, lose it if it doesn\’t.

Whst do you reckon? 2p a share if they\’re lucky?

Insane Political Ranting of the Day

I\’m not, as one might imagine, hugely enamoured of Hillary Clinton, but there are those sending out round robin emails who are positively unhinged on the subject.

An example of the type of Clinton dysfunction that Hillary has spent 36 years trying to keep secret for 36 years is that Chelsea is probably the seed of Webb Hubbell,

As Chelsea is a) 29 years old and b) as even a cursory glance at a photograph would show, her father\’s daughter, this all sounds most unlikely.