Well, yes, but

Perhaps it’s Piketty’s mild manner that disconcerts; or perhaps it’s the matter-of-fact way that he points out that the most prosperous period in US history – 1950-70 – coincided with a top marginal rate of inheritance tax of 80% and of income tax that was even higher.

No one actually paid it. Which does sorta argue the other way, doesn’t it?

As societies distribute income, wealth and education more widely, so they become more prosperous.

OK, fun theory. So, we’ll have to measure the distribution of the output of that education then, won’t we? The human capital that results? And what is it that is not included in any of the calculations of the wealth distribution? Human capital…..

Evidence on these postwar regimes confirms that very high marginal tax rates are both reasonable and effective. But they had a lurking weakness, which Piketty views as fatal: they accommodated highly unequal access to education. Not only is educational equality the biggest factor in economic development (more so than property rights, he argues), the sharp division between graduates and non-graduates produced political schisms that, by the 1990s, had left the working class electorally homeless.

So, yes, human capital is important then. Better start measuring the distribution then, yes?

There seems an obvious answer here

Rodger and Minassian brought mainstream attention to incel culture; most people who follow the news have heard of incels. Far fewer people know that a woman coined the term. Even fewer realise there are thousands of women who identify as incels, or “femcels”. While male incel culture has been exhaustively analysed, femcels have largely been ignored. (There have been a handful of articles about the phenomenon, the latest of which appeared in Mel magazine.)

We could introduce the one set to the other. If only we could think of a way to do this.

Complete and total idiocy

Washington has taken a major step toward becoming the first US state to restrict companies looking to extract, bottle and sell local water supplies.

On Monday night the state senate passed a bill that would ban new permits for water bottling operations. SB 6278 states “any use of water for the commercial production of bottled water is deemed to be detrimental to the public welfare and the public interest” and would apply retroactively to new permits filed after 1 January 2019.

The move was hailed by water campaigners, who declared it a breakthrough moment in the fight against the privatization of such a valuable public asset.

What sodding value? Washington State gets 38.15 inches of rain a year. There’s so much water it quite literally falls from the damn skies. For free.

Meghan’s Lament

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex face being banned from using their self-anointed ‘Sussex Royal’ label after stepping down as senior royals, it emerged last night.

It is no longer appropriate for the couple, who have relocated to North America with their son Archie, to continue using the term ‘royal’ in their branding, the Queen and senior officials are expected to conclude.

Those carefully laid plans seem to be unravelling.

As I’ve said before I’m not sure that they understood quite how much actual cash is needed to live as they did before. It’s not just the £60,000 a year for Frogmore Cottage. They laid off 15 staff – how much do 15 staff cost a year then if they want to replicate that outside? And so on.

I think their earning capacity won’t replace the physical lifestyle they gave up. Sure, they might not care, independence and all that having a value. Although that’s not quite what I think is motivating La Dame.

I have significant suspicion that the end game is going to be talks about how ‘coz I is black I’m no longer royal and while there’s definitely a market for that it’s not hugely high paying I would have thought.

What horrors!

We do not live in an ideal world, however, but one in which profit and consumerism are rampant.

A world in which the proles get what they want, when they want it, and people benefit from providing it to them.

No wonder the Guardian’s against it all. What point in being elite if it doesn’t mean anything any more?

I’ve not the knowledge to evaluate this

Nonsense, like that electricity from raindrops? Or a potentially useful source of power?

Here we show that thin-film devices made from nanometre-scale protein wires harvested from the microbe Geobacter sulfurreducens can generate continuous electric power in the ambient environment. The devices produce a sustained voltage of around 0.5 volts across a 7-micrometre-thick film, with a current density of around 17 microamperes per square centimetre. We find the driving force behind this energy generation to be a self-maintained moisture gradient that forms within the film when the film is exposed to the humidity that is naturally present in air. Connecting several devices linearly scales up the voltage and current to power electronics.

What’s 17 microamps at 0.5 volts when it’s at home? 8.5 microwatts is, umm ?? A million cm 2/8.5 to get one watt? 12 sq metres a watt?

I’ve got these numbers wrong, haven’t I?

Spudda on politics

I am aware that the image is not the best: the point is that the red line shows that concern about the EU was entirely manufactured since the beginning of 2016: it was simply not an issue for the vast majority before then,

Umm, odd, that.

How was there the pressure to have a referendum (the bill was in 2015) if no one gave a toss. How come, when people voted actually about Europe then Ukip, the peeps shouting about the EU, did so well every time?

Snippa’s knowledge of economics to the fore once again

Peter Bofinger is professor of economics at Würzburg University and a former member of the German Council of Economic Experts. He has written an excellent, and accessible, article on Social Europe in which he explains why Keynesian thinking explains the world as it is, and neoclassical economics explains a world that does not exist.

Hmm, neoclassical economics manages to explain an awful lot of the world but still, let’s see what is being said:

[T]he laws of motion of the classical and the Keynesian world view differ…. In the classical model saving generates investment. In the Keynesian model investment generates saving. In the classical model saving and investment determine the interest rate. In the Keynesian model saving and investment determine aggregate output.

Ah. The classical model is different from the neoclassical model. Markedly so.

Something that Snippa seems not to know. And Snippa used to be a professor of economics at a British university.

Ho Hum.

And it is why neoclassical economics continues to help destroy us, our economies and our planet. And it has to go.

Just to remind everyone what the three major tenets of neoclassical economics are:

People have rational preferences between outcomes that can be identified and associated with values.
Individuals maximize utility and firms maximize profits.
People act independently on the basis of full and relevant information.

Which of these does Ritchie want to junk? No, not which should people not do but which don’t they?

Ahhh, more on race

The claim that there is a link between race and intelligence is the main tenet of what is known as “race science” or, in many cases, “scientific racism”. Race scientists claim there are evolutionary bases for disparities in social outcomes – such as life expectancy, educational attainment, wealth, and incarceration rates – between racial groups. In particular, many of them argue that black people fare worse than white people because they tend to be less naturally intelligent.

Although race science has been repeatedly debunked by scholarly research, in recent years it has made a comeback. Many of the keenest promoters of race science today are stars of the “alt-right”, who like to use pseudoscience to lend intellectual justification to ethno-nationalist politics. If you believe that poor people are poor because they are inherently less intelligent, then it is easy to leap to the conclusion that liberal remedies, such as affirmative action or foreign aid, are doomed to fail.

That’s a lovely non sequiter, isn’t it?

For it’s entirely possible to believe that poor people are poor because of something about poor people – say, something rather common within economics, that poorer people have shorter time horizons, or perhaps that having a shorter time horizon is likely to make you poorer – without using race to define that. It’s even possible to insist upon a genetic disposition to such differences without using race as the demarcation line.

This though I would agree is comprehensively wrong:

One of the people behind the revival of race science was, not long ago, a mainstream figure. In 2014, Nicholas Wade, a former New York Times science correspondent, wrote what must rank as the most toxic book on race science to appear in the last 20 years. In A Troublesome Inheritance, he repeated three race-science shibboleths: that the notion of “race” corresponds to profound biological differences among groups of humans; that human brains evolved differently from race to race; and that this is supported by different racial averages in IQ scores.

It’s the middle contention that has to be. Whatever we think of “races” today they long post-date the evolution of the human brain.

Here’s my problem with this

Watson apologised for his remarks, but later appeared to reassert them when he told a 2019 PBS documentary that differences in IQ scores between blacks and whites were driven by genetics. When asked to comment on the furore, Francis Collins, a leading geneticist and director of the US National Institutes of Health, said he was unaware of any credible research that backed up Watson’s view. He expressed his dismay that a prominent scientist was perpetuating “such scientifically unsupported and hurtful beliefs”.

It’s that use of the word “credible”.

I don’t know what is true either way here. The idea that populations have different average IQs doesn’t worry me, whether true or not. That variation within the population is greater than across them is all we need to know that each individual should be treated as an individual – pretty much the basis of any reasonable form of civil liberty anyway.

I’m also not entirely sure about the value of IQ tests, whether that point that they are culturally specific is true or not. We know that from within economics such things can be true – the results of the ultimatum game vary wildly dependent upon the culture of the players.

So, in terms of nailing down who is right here I’m all at sea and perfectly happy to stay there.

It’s just that use of the word “credible”. It is used, in my experience, to mean “everyone who disagrees is politically unacceptable.” Which isn’t how science works at all. And the thing is, when I see people using it in that meaning – as above – then I simply don’t believe the proposition they are advancing.

It really is in the genes

People who persistently lie, steal and bully have smaller brains, a major study suggests. Scientists said young children who kept being naughty should be targeted with far more help, and parenting classes, to save them from a life of crime.

Researchers said that going “off the rails” as a teenager was fairly normal.

But they said far more attention should be paid to toddlers and young children who were persistently badly behaved, and could be at risk of a life of antisocial behaviour, because of the way their brains were formed.

Don’t think we’re talking about stunting here, this is design, nature not nurture.

As ever we’re going to have that grand old sight. The left will tell us that we must do summat, be cause the left always does. It’s also the left that insists that evolution is right – in which they are of course correct for perhaps their only moment, And the left’s solution will determinedly ignore the implications of evolution being right. That, you know, some peeps are just made that way.

Interesting economics here

I also think that the editorial missed a killer punch. That was, first of all, because they kept referring to Keynes, and not his motives, and yet it is his motives, and their contrast with those of monetarism that is critical. Keynes was motivated by social concern: monetarism was motivated by the desire for private profit. Keynes was about creating fairer societies, and monetarism was about creating inequality.

Really? And here’s every economist in the world thinking that they’re just two proposed methods of dealing with the business cycle.

And not all that different either, Keynes himself runs with the idea that fiscal policy is what you do in that special case when monetary no longer works. Oh, and QE is derived from Keynes’ insistence that the velocity of circulation of money does indeed vary….

This is correct, and yet it needs contextualisation. We have just seen an election where policies in the shadow of Keynes did not prevail. Whilst nationalisation, social housebuilding, the welfare state and much else that might be associated with Keynesian policy all poll well with focus groups they did not deliver election success for Labour.

Keynes of course being a pre-war Liberal. Not notably in favour of all of those things.

Nor, come to that, did the Green New Deal in the way that Labour presented it. And that is because Keynes did not just want these things, as if they in themselves mattered. What he was particularly interested in, I suggest, was what they could deliver for people. In other words, what he wanted to address was not just an economic crisis, but the oppression of people’s hopes and aspirations and their replacement by fear. He knew he was fighting fascism, and he played a key role in achieving that goal.

Rilly? Il Musso saw Keynes’ economics as being at worst “not incompatible with fascism” and the Nazis were probably the first to put them into action. Building infrastructure to stimulate the economy? Heard about the autobahns?

Keynesian spending is about transforming relationships in society.

And that’s not something you’ll find in Keynes.

Cliche spotting

He collected ceramics and for many years had a house in Tangiers.

Oh aye?

Although West never stopped indulging in what he called the “rough trade” and had a fondness for S&M and threesomes,

North Africa was, for a time, something of a cliche among that set.

Ah, Tax Justice are being economical with the actualite again, aren’t they?

The report released on Monday suggested any action by the government to close loopholes at the budget would be positively received. That includes remedying the situation where someone who lives purely off dividends from shares pays a lower rate of income tax than someone who is working.

The tax rate on dividends is the income tax rate plus the corporation tax already charged at the level of the company.

But then Tax Justice is run by Alex Cobham who has been known to get complicated matters like adding up wildly wrong.

Amazingly, the report doesn’t actually mention the idea nor question.

And now here’s what’s vile:

In our next report, we will explore what ways
of communicating on tax and wealth resonate
the most with the public and how to shift
people’s views.

This is a propaganda project. How do we get people to agree to higher taxes?

This report was prepared with funding from the
Friends Provident Foundation and the ESRC Impact
Acceleration Awards via The University of Sheffield’s
Internal Knowledge Exchange Scheme.

Yep, via the ESRC we’re paying tax to be persuaded to pay higher tax.

Fuck ’em, eh?

How weird

The Labour party has formally adopted a definition of Islamophobia, arguing that it is vital to tackling the rise of far-right racism.

A party spokesperson said its national executive committee had adopted the working definition produced by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims “to help tackle Islamophobia, build a common understanding of its causes and consequences, and express solidarity with Muslim communities”.

The definition reads: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Islam is a belief system, one open to humans of all races, tribes and nations, closed to none. It’s exactly the opposite of any form of race or racism. So too therefore must be any criticism of it.

This is amusing

He has also deleted a number of his previous posts on Twitter, including one which dismissed three female Labour politicians as “dim”, and another which claimed “women’s sport is more comparable to the Paralympics than it is to men’s.”

This is true:

in a 2016 interview argued that “intelligence is largely inherited”.

This is true but incendiary:

Responding, Mr Sabisky wrote: “If the mean black American IQ is (best estimate based on a century’s worth of data) around 85, as compared to a mean white American IQ of 100, then if IQ is normally distributed (which it is), you will see a far greater percentage of blacks than whites in the range of IQs 75 or below, at which point we are close to the typical boundary for mild mental retardation.”

Note the If at the beginning there. If that is so then the rest does follow.

Boris Johnson has been told to “immediately” sack a controversial new adviser

It’s so difficult to get the help these days.

That will all also explain why I’ll not be working in SW1 any time soon.

‘Ang on…..

£1 billion’s real money:

A new supercomputer providing more accurate forecasts of severe weather is to receive £1.2 billion from the Government towards its development.

Seriously?

The supercomputer itself is expected to cost £854 million

I thought we’d got to the point where a supercomputer was simply lashing thousands of PC boards together? Is there really a computer out there that will cost £800 million? And if there is, won’t it still cost £80 million in 3 years time?

Perhaps the NHS is the solution

Snippa tells us:

The simple facts stand out. After five years most people who have cancer in the USA are alive. In fact, overall it looks like there might be a near nine in ten chance of that.

And the associated cost is a 40% chance of bankruptcy.

That is no way to run a health service.

And yet this is the model those in office in the UK aspire to.

So, 90% 5 year survival rate.

In the NHS?

The UK government said other data showed that one-year survival rates in England, for all types of cancer, were at a record high.

One-year survival has increased from 62% in 2001 to 72.8% in 2016.

The one year NHS survival rate is nearly 20 percentage points lower than the American 5 year one?

Might we not say that the NHS isn’t the health care model to aspire to?