Timmy Elsewhere


One such is the recent story of the marriage registrar, or more accurately the woman who wished to be a marriage registrar.

She was refused the job because at times — during menstruation say — she would not be able to enter the mosque and therefore would not be able to work.

My own answer to this would be to appoint her along with the instruction that she should give warning, in advance, of her period.

Those who would use that mosque, or those mosques, for their marriages, would then have to wait and much good it will do them to face their prejudices.

But then I am not noted for the delicacy with which I approach religious questions.


The second is that ease of doing business ranking that comes out around this time each year. Where Bangladesh is normally some small fraction above the bottom of the listing. The problem is bureaucracy often enough. People have to stand around, or in line, to gain a permit or permission to do something. This is the opposite of productivity as the people standing in line can’t be off somewhere doing something, making or producing something.

That is, we can increase productivity — as above make ourselves richer, enjoy pure economic growth — simply by abolishing large parts of the “Babu” Empire.

That is, if we reduce the number of permits, permissions, and applications for them required to do something then more will get done — we’ll have more of that pure and joyous economic growth. Plus, it will be fun turning the bureaucrats out of their offices and seeing if they themselves are capable of doing something productive.

Being mawkish elsewhere

Don’t worry about the Puritans, we English didn’t like them much either. The Native Americans have a point. What you have turned Thanksgiving into, that celebration of family, is not so unusual across human societies. There are many analogues out there. What sets Thanksgiving apart is that you don’t just bend over backward to ensure, you positively insist, that no one break bread alone that day.

It is the most sweet, even glorious, aspect of your society. Please don’t ever lose it. To the matriarch near Lincoln, Nebraska: My apologies for not understanding before. Now I do, and from afar, I raise that slice of pumpkin pie to you and 330 million other Americans. That sharing of the cloak is always something to give thanks for.

So, this stock tip works then

Written two days back, published today:

My view
I think that the vaccine will be rolling out between the New Year and the spring. Not based upon any grand knowledge of pharma, rather that the entire global industry is focused on this and I don’t expect them to fail. Also, don’t forget, the European drug regulators are – amazingly – a little more relaxed than the FDA about approval of something valuable but not wholly and entirely proven as yet.

I also think that Easyjet has the finances to be able to survive until then in this cash is king world.

The investor view
It’s necessary to believe both of those pieces to think this is worthwhile. Only some months to a vaccine and also that the airline will survive until then. But with that then Easyjet is a leveraged punt on that vaccine arrival.

Oh, right:


The sugars that the plants produce are traded with the fungi that inhabit the root systems. The return trade being the phosphorous necessary for the pant functioning and that sugar production. This is not a simple trade either, we see a price system in action. The phosphorous is preferentially moved and then traded to where it is in shortest supply, and so gains the trade of more sugar in return.

Observations of this wider world of life really do give us examples of the economic activity that we ourselves engage in. More than that, we see things which are regarded as controversial in human economic affairs, things that are still argued about. For there are those who insist that trade is something that must be limited — but if apes can grasp the concept then why can’t we?

We even have, in those plant roots, evidence of supply and demand curves in operation yet there are all too many who deride the price system among us humans. Or, as we might put it, if the bugs in the ground under our feet can grasp the basic elements of the Economics 101 class and the diagrams on the first page of the textbook, shouldn’t we demand that our politicians at least attempt to do the same?

Whinge, whinge, moan, moan

So, I do a bit of piecework at a place. And obviously what I write about and how is optimised – lightly you understand – to the structure of the piecework payment system. The piecework payment system changing as of the end of next week.

Sigh. Which means working out how to optimise for that.

Yes, I know, things have changed (and they really have online about ad rates and traffic and all that) which means market system, adaptability to change and all that. Optimal system etc.

But still, moan, whinge, whine.

Sadly, I can’t actually respond to this one

I have a feeling that [email protected] might not be a wholly accurate return address. But here’s the message in full:

First Name

Last Name

Email Address

[email protected]
Comments / Questions

Fuck u Tim. Ur comment at Forbes on justifying Bangladeshi workers getting low wages is completely vague. Bd is a devoloping country u ass, and the fastest growing economy in south Asia. get u facts right u dickhead. U moron don’t split ur selfmade stat anywhere u want. Asshole.

Boy, has he got the wrong end of the stick there.

Over at Quora

What is a K-shaped economic recovery?

Tim Worstall

A political invention.

No, quite seriously, that’s all it is. There are those who want to get their priorities to the top of the societal list of things that are going to be solved. Hey, that’s just what politics is, the argument over which thing gets done next.
So, when stuff happens you invent (yes, just make up) some description of events which means that your wishes are important and must move up that list.*

Of course, sometimes there are real new problems and we’ve got to have some method of distinguishing between the new and these inventions. The correct method here is to look at the proposed solutions and who is proposing them.

If the solutions are the same things the proposers have been saying for years, if what we need to do about it is just the same old thing, then this is a made up, invented, reason just to do the same old things. Not, actually, a new problem at all.

So, the solutions proposed to the K-shaped economic recovery are the usual list of stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution and so on. These solutions coming from the people who have been proposing stronger unions, higher taxes, more redistribution, for decades now. That is, the K-shaped recovery isn’t an actual thing, it’s just a made up, invented, justification for stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution.

As such we can ignore it.

*The archetype here is Cato.

“***Ceterum autem censeo Carthaginem esse delendam*** (“Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed”), often abbreviated to ***Carthago delenda est*** (“Carthage  must be destroyed”) or ***Ceterum censeo***, is a Latin oratorical phrase  pronounced by Cato the Censor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cato_the_Elder), a politician of the Roman Republic . The phrase originates from debates held in the Roman Senate prior to the Third Punic War between Rome and Carthage , where Cato is said to have used it as the conclusion to all his speeches in order to push for the war.”

His speeches really did run along the lines of “And so we should dig the drainage ditch and therefore I conclude that Carthage must be destroyed” “The price of olive oil is too high and thus Carthage must be destroyed” and so on. Eventually the Romans got so bored of this they went and destroyed Carthage.

Want stronger unions, higher taxes and more redistribution? This week it’s the K-shaped recovery, last month it was the recession, 3 months back Black Lives Matter, 6 months ago rising inequality and so on and on. If the policy never changes, only the justification, then the justification is the invention.


This is, though writ small, the basic politico-economic problem that afflicts all detailed plans for the management of the economy and society. It kills all such plans, from the new paternalistic Right of Oren Cass through to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Marxist Left. Those in the political center, the government, the political class, and even the bureaucracy just never have the information necessary to be able to make such plans. Here, we think there are 30 million people unemployed and at least 5 million, but probably closer to 10 million of them, are on the lam. That’s just not a valid base of evidence upon which to make plans about stimulating the economy to reduce unemployment.

Therefore, the best we can do is set basic and simple rules — rules of law, of property, and so on. For we never do have enough valid information to be able to do anything else. They even gave Friedrich Hayek the Nobel Prize for pointing this out. It’s just science, and we all always follow the science, right?


It’s also such a strange thing for an environmentalist to get caught up in. The entire point of ecology is to note that everything in nature is interdependent. Take away the apex predator, the wolf, and Scotland’s red deer starve as they outbreed the food supply. Knock out the moa from New Zealand’s fauna and that condemns the specialist predator, Haast’s eagle, to extinction.

That one part of the system depends upon the others is the very lesson of ecology itself. How did California and Oregon ever get to the position that a fire-dependent ecology shouldn’t ever have fires? That’s the single issue fanatic all over. Grasping onto the one point, burnt birds are bad, to the exclusion of that rounded and mature view that it’s the total environment that matters, not any one constituent part of it.

Feeding street children in Bangladesh

As most of you will know I write a column in a Bangladeshi newspaper. The fee for which gets spent upon this:

‘Ek Takay Ahar’, which refers to ‘food for a single penny’. Under this program hundreds of street dwelling children get their fundamental need of regular meals in exchange of one taka.

Of course, my column is paid at Bangladeshi rates so it’s not the sole support, nor even main or significant, of the program. I also have nothing at all to do with it other than scribbling the words for the newspaper.

I didn’t even direct the fee to it. When I got the column I knew one working bloke in the country – well, only the one who didn’t actually work for the newspaper. Not much point with me fighting the FX bureaucracy to try to get £80 a month out of the country. So, give it to this bloke, why not?

And this is what he spends it upon. He and his mates are the organisers, it’s grown from their providing a few Ramadan lunches for children each year.

Burke was right about those little platoons you know.

Elsewhere in the gender pay gap

We must take our silver linings where we find them, and here is one to gladden feminist hearts everywhere: The gender pay gap has fallen during the lockdown-induced recession. Look at median weekly earnings, and the gender pay gap has narrowed from some 81% to 84%. In the first quarter, men averaged $1,054 a week, in the second $1,092. Women moved from $852 to $914. We normally measure the gender pay gap as the average female wage as a percentage of average male wages, so that gap has closed substantially in just three months.

So, time to do the Happy Dance, right?

Those patriotic millionaires

Standard economics tells us that higher taxes now are a bad idea. Standard economics also tells us that wealth taxation is a really bad idea, as is taxing the income from investments. Perhaps that’s an argument for the wonks requiring specialized knowledge of the subject, so how about a simple argument?

When those millionaires and billionaires voluntarily pay higher taxes, they can bring us their thank you letters — yes you do get one, I checked — and then we’ll talk. Until then, they’re all talk and no action, or as the English say, “Fur coat and no knickers.”

Not sure the subeditor quite translated that right but still….

I write blogs to influence debate. It’s always worth noting when they do*.

The SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon have reignited the debate around Scottish independence which culminated in a defeat for the Yes campaign in 2014. But after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 – despite most in Scotland opting for Remain – Ms Sturgeon believes she has a mandate to take Scotland into the EU via independence. But this has led to debate surrounding the ease with which Scotland could join the bloc, and the economic repercussions of independence. Tim Worstall – a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute – argued in his article for Forbes in 2016 that the issue could hurt the SNP.

He claimed “there is no easy way for Scotland to get in. It cannot slide through by saying it was already in thus should have an easy time of it or anything”.

He added: “What this means is that Scotland will need to have that second referendum.

“And I think I speak for many if not most English when I say that if they want to leave well, goodbye and good luck.

“Also that they’re going to need that good luck. For the next stage would obviously be to join the European Union, as they say they want to.”

Mr Worstall said from a legal perspective, Scotland could integrate easily, but it wouldn’t be so seamless from an economic perspective.

He continued: “In order to join the EU you’ve got to have a budget deficit of three percent of GDP or less or be obviously (which allows for some fudging) moving in that direction.

“And Scotland, now that oil has plummeted, simply is not there. It’s difficult, given the intertwining of British and Scottish accounts to get it exactly right but reasonable estimates have the Scottish alone budget deficit at 8 to 10 percent of GDP.

“At which point the EU won’t let Scotland in. Not unless they do some fiscal contraction amounting to a good five percent or so of GDP.

“And that’s why the SNP don’t actually want what they’re claiming to want, independence and then EU entry.

“Because imposing that sort of austerity on their own nation, when they are obviously in charge and responsible, would kill them as a political party.”

* That headline might be a quote from someone else.


As anyone who has ever dealt with the welfare or tax systems knows, there is a potential joy in asking them to do something simple rather than administer the current unwieldy structure. Surely even they would be able to hand out free money? Sadly, though, we are left with the truth that the most important part of the phrase “universal basic income” is “basic”. We can afford it if it is set at a near-trivial level, not if it’s any more than that.