Tim Worstall

Possibly not enough

Paula Vennells, the former chief executive of the Post Office, could be stripped of her CBE under Government plans to launch a review into honours awarded to people embroiled in the Horizon subpostmasters scandal.

The Telegraph has been told that ministers are looking at launching a review into the scandal, which is expected to involve a list of names of figures involved being compiled, along with an assessment of the level of their involvement.

Sources said Mr Johnson and Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, were “very exercised” about the scandal, which is considered the most widespread miscarriage of justice in British history.

Possibly we might run with the idea of substantial jail time. To, you know, encourage other civil servants – or even corporate executives – to exercise their duty of care in the future?


Simon S Shaw says:
July 23 2021 at 10:27 am
“Tax is the mechanism used to prevent inflation”

Who gets taxed if inflation starts to rise?

And when? Interest rates have been used previously and can be raised every month if necessary. Are you suggesting we should move to a system under which income tax rates could be raised or lowered on a monthly basis? I’d have thought this unwieldy and politically difficult. Do you have an answer to those potential problems?

Richard Murphy says:
July 23 2021 at 11:06 am
As the IMF now agrees, an interest rate rise will nikt deliver the desired change in the economy: multinational corporations are interest rate and price immune to change. So tax is all we have

VAT can be changed at will

But more importantly, we need a financial transaction tax charged on bank accounts for precisely this reason: that would fairly mute or stimulate the economy as required and could be progressive too

It could also include negative tax rates

Just marvellous.

Certain, some few, corporations are sufficiently well – internally – funded that external interest rates don;t make much difference to their investment decisions. Apparently.

This does fail as a concept because of course a change in interest rates changes the return they can make on their cash piles. If they can earn 30% – just to have a number – on their $300 billion of Scrooge McDuck then why would they build factories to gain a 10% return?

That is, they still face the same incentives and investment hurdles even though they’re not limited by requiring access to outside finance.

But OK, leave that aside.

Inflation isn’t driven by the actions of some few dozen megacorps anyway. They’re such a trivial fraction of the entire economy that they simply could not be the cause. Apple might be – at the wildest estimation – 1% of the US economy or 0.2% of the global (a company share of GDP will be its profits plus wage bill, not turnover). That’s not going to be the root of inflation.

But because of this we must tax each and every movement in and out of an individual’s bank account?

Just a thought

In Lebanon, mismanagement of fuel supplies has contributed to the water crisis. The central bank has subsidised imports but has now run out of dollars, leading to widespread shortages.

Mains electricity is running at a maximum of two hours a day. Operators of the private generators which make up the difference may have to turn them off in the next few days for lack of diesel — raising the extraordinary prospect of a modern country almost entirely without electricity.

How long is it going to remain a modern country without electricity?

Because this has been happening for a couple of centuries now

While there’s British interference, there’s going to be action’: why a hardcore of dissident Irish republicans are not giving up

It’s been happening since Wolfe Tone and Young Ireland and all the rest. Probably before that back to the Vikings in Dublin.

Get up enough head of steam to revolt against the oppressors and carry enough of the population with you. So, concessions are made. Repeal the Anti-Catholic Laws, or legalise Erse, or partition, or whichever of those concessions over time you want to think about.

This peels off some large portion of the rebellious who go back to some sort of acceptance of this new status quo. And leaves the radical fringe still shouting. Who then gain, grain by grain, support for their more radical demands and we get to a large enough portion of the population that another set of concessions are made.

Thus the IRA, The Official IRA, the Provisional IRA, the INLA, the Continuity IRA, the 32 County lads and on and on.

Been happening for centuries. It’ll also continue if as and when there’s the one state on the island of Ireland, there will be those out there with the Armalites shooting for a properly socialist state, or for the Pol Pot solution, or invading England in search of reparations. Because there are always those sufficiently disatisfied enough with the society around them to take up arms. This not being a specifically Irish problem, you can round up a few nutters in any society.

Had to happen, eh?

But the reality, experts and workers say, is more complicated. Switching en masse to lab-made gems may have environmental upsides, and relieve companies of reputational risks. But it could disfranchise the same communities that consumers are concerned for – and it comes at a moment when traceable, ethically mined gems are more accessible than ever.

‘Something is wrong’
“If you start to grow diamonds in a lab, you’re not only taking away a job, but you’re also closing down communities and closing down countries,” says Urica Primus. “How will [miners] survive, how will they sustain themselves, their livelihoods, their families?”

Artisanal mining is terrible because it’s shitty work for little money. So, let’s stop it.

But, if we do stop it, then where will people be able to get their shitty work for little money?

Entirely terrible, obviously

The air is toxic’: how an idyllic California lake became a nightmare
The shrinking Salton Sea was once a tourist destination. Now it’s home to dangerous algal blooms, endless dust and noxious air

But here’s the thing:

The current lake was created by inflow of water from the Colorado River in 1905. Beginning in 1900, an irrigation canal was dug from the Colorado River to the old Alamo River channel to provide water to the Imperial Valley for farming. The headgates and canals sustained a buildup of silt, so a series of cuts was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. Water from spring floods broke through a canal head-gate diverting a portion of the river flow into the Salton Basin for two years before repairs were completed. The water in the formerly dry lake bed created the modern lake that is about 15 by 35 miles (24 by 56 km).

The Salton Sea is a cock up, it’s a man made flood.

Its disappearance is to be welcomed, no, as the clean up of the destruction of the environment?

An interesting point I’d not realised

As and when it’s possible that we might be allowed to trade freely with the EU because we’re good little boys there’s an incentive to be good little boys. Sign up to their rules because, well, incentives, see?

But if, whatever we do, ew don;t get the sweeties then why in buggery play by their rules? Why not just let rip?

Now that we are out of the EU, and with no realistic prospect of the UK ever being granted access to the single market in financial services, the best move we could make would be to repeal all of it in one clean sweep.

They’re talking about MIFID II there but this applies to everything.

You’re going to continue pissing about with sausages into Ulster? Fine, OK, fuck you. We’re repealing MIFID II, Reach, COP thisnthat, CE markings, restrictions on vacuum cleaner engine size and all the rest of the 40 year accretions of nonsense.



You’re free to say “And don’t talk about inflation. That risk only exists if we overspend – and a pay rise for the NHS isn’t that. That also only happens if we have a non-functioning tax system to claim the spend back – and we have one. So, inflation is not a risk from this.”


Lesson two is to understand where tax fits into all this, which it does. It is true that making money without limit will result in inflation. Tax is the mechanism used to prevent inflation. It takes the money the government creates back out of the economy.

Odd how a pay rise for the NHS does in fact mean higher taxation, isn’t it? Even when we’re told it doesn’t.

Quite, Genius³, quite

John S Warren says:
July 22 2021 at 7:53 pm
“These entities are not subject to market constraints. They are not even in the market, as such. They do, instead, run their own economies that co-exist with those of countries but are at least in part removed from them.”

I was not sure what conclusions you were drawing from this.

Richard Murphy says:
July 22 2021 at 8:27 pm
That they are macroeconomic agents outside microeconomic influences

Companies get so big that prices, supply and demand, they just don’t affect them.

Economics³ perhaps?

OK, and?

First death from mining Bitcoin
Danai Makmek, 26, in Thailand is the latest in a string of industrial accidents caused by unregulated Bitcoin mining

You can see what comes next after “unregulated”. That there should be regulation.

In what is believed to be the industry’s first fatality, a bit-coin “miner” has died after his computer exploded during an attempt to increase its power and allow him to mine more Bitcoins.

The death of Danai Makmek, 26, in Thailand is the latest in a string of industrial accidents caused by unregulated Bitcoin mining, in which practitioners often rig up dozens of computers that then cause power overloads.

Any regulation wouldn’t be about stopping people putting computers in tandem, would it? For that cannot be regulated. Instead it would be something about having to register who owns bitcoin or summat – entirely tangential to the issue but desired by the Swamp anyway.


The argument is that, in effect, monetary policy is premised on the idea that all companies are small enough to be subject to market pressures, and that interest rate policies can impose changes on markets that will, because of those market pressures, be transmitted into both corporate and personal behaviour.

However, the assumptions does not hold true, they suggest, when there are companies of exceptional size.

The argument is that some companies are too large to be influenced by monetary policy.

Hmm, well, maybe, but let’s run with it.

So, the man who says that monetary policy is over, that fiscal policy is the only tool we can or should use. Now he says that we’ve got to use fiscal policy to tax companies back to the size where monetary policy works on them. That monetary policy that we shouldn’t and cannot effectively use anyway.

Welcome to Genius³

Dear Mr. Sanders


You say about the United States that “when working families cannot afford childcare or higher education for their kids,”.

Given your examples here I assume that means that working families can afford food, shelter, clothing, transport, leisure, electronic gadgetry and the Netflix subscription. Sounds like a rich place to me, a population living as high on the hog as any large group of humans ever have done. Sounds, in fact, like that economy thing is pretty much done, properly baked.

yours etc

Tim Worstall


Smart meters will be useless in hydrogen-powered homes
Chemical differences between gasses mean the devices will need to be replaced, admits Business Secretary

Measuring something different requires different methods of measurement.


Although I will admit to confusion. I thought smart meters were on the electricity supply, not the gas?

Everything gets tested, asshole

“The experience of a few hyper-wealthy amateurs paying $28 million to vomit for 15 minutes probably won’t bring many average people closer to spaceflight or change their impression of it,” Matthew Hersch, a historian of technology at Harvard, told Recode in an email. “Compared to NASA’s space vehicles, they are clever amusement park rides with minimal utility, intended to support a tourism business that has never been part of NASA’s charter.”


The 1890s Hresch was complaining that this automobile things were slower and more expensive than a horse. Which they were of course…..

Actually, it’s because government is shit at doing things

I know I shouldn’t but I’m going to let the P³ in on a little secret:

Why do we need a balanced budget more than we need education, healthcare, social care, justice services, environmental protection, new social housing, transport infrastructure reform and so much else? I doubt that anyone who proposes a balanced budget can explain that. But because it is assumed that a balanced budget must be the goal all those things that we need – as well as the vital support that so many in the UK are dependent upon to just let them have the most basic of standards of living – are to be denied to us.

The debt paranoia is killing us. There is a whole chapter in my book ‘Money for nothing and my tweets for free’ on this issue. But let me reiterate how absurd this claim is.

The logic of the balanced budget fetishists is that government debt is akin to any other debt, and must be repaid.

No, not really. We have noticed that the national debt has never been repaid, also that it has rarely been diminished by even partial repayment. We’re also away that seigniorage profits have been racking up over the centuries. We have noted these things.

However, we’re also aware of the truth about government. It’s entirely true that there’s a class of things that both must be done and can only be done by government. Say, executing traitors. OK, we’re fine with the idea that something that must be done and can only be done by government is done by government – the only people who can do that necessary thing.

However, we’re also aware that government is always an inefficient method of doing the thing. This must be true otherwise we cannot explain the distressing lack of Remainers occupying gibbets across the country.

Therefore we wish to restrict government to only those things which both must be done and which can only be done by government. Things that do not need to be done – The Arts Council, diversity training – should not be done at all, not unless they gain voluntary funding from consenting adults. Those things which do not need to be done by government – health care provision rather than financing say – should not be done by government.

At which point one of the reasons why we say government doesn’t have an inexhaustible chequebook is simply because we don’t want government to think that it has an inexhaustible chequebook. On the grounds that the more money they think they’ve got the more they’ll try to do and therefore the more they’ll thereby turn to shit.

That is, the reason for constraints upon government spending is because governments are shit at spending money.