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Woo Watch

Further to the subject of Duncan Weldon at Newsnight

Some Tory Tosspot or other:

Newsnight were clearly so enamoured with Duncan’s politics that they turned a blind eye to the proper processes. Let’s hope they’ll distance themselves from his biased claims and scaremongering about the government’s economic policy as well as his fascist past.’

Jeebus. If we were all judged by the political ideas we had when we were 16 then we’d all be in a certain amount of trouble, wouldn’t we?

Back of the guy. Let’s find out how good he is at the journalism shtick, eh?

Erm, but why?

There is still a long way to go before the British public stops judging people by their looks, the broadcaster Fiona Bruce has said, as she unveils a new portrait of war veteran Simon Weston.

Humans are a visual species, stereoscopic and colour vision etc. Why should we stop thinking about things on hte basis of what they look like? It’s rather what we’re built to do…..

Jeez, so they really were incompetent

MtGox said on Friday it found 200,000 “forgotten” Bitcoins on March 7, a week after the Tokyo-based digital currency exchange filed for bankruptcy protection saying it had lost about $500 million worth of Bitcoin, nearly all its holdings.

Kiddies playing rather than a sound business I think?

This is a bit of a surprise

The number of families saying they are going hungry has fallen over the past five years – as the number of food banks has risen.

Britons were among the least likely in the developed world to say there were times when they could not afford food, an international report found.

Only 8.1 per cent reported this in 2012, down from 9.8 per cent in 2007 – before the economic crisis and when Labour was in power.

The study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which represents industrialised nations, flies in the face of Left-wing claims that cuts in public spending are leaving thousands of families going hungry.

OK, so that’s real numbers there. OECD survey results.

The number of people going hungry has fallen over the past five years. We might be able to suggest a reason why too: the number of food banks has risen. That is, giving people free food via charity reduces the number of hungry people. Quite amazing how that works really.

Don’t tell me they’ve made this mistake, please!

The scale of Britain’s growing inequality is revealed today by a report from a leading charity showing that the country’s five richest families now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.

I’m looking around for a copy of the report itself but I’m finding it very hard indeed to believe that they’ve been as stupid as they appear to have been so far.

Richard Seymour applies to join the Sorbonne faculty

In a very general sense, militarisation could be seen as an integral aspect of capitalism.


That would explain why the Socialist states spent so much more of their paltry wealth on the military than the capitalist states did then?

As a matter of mild interest, when does reality ever get a look in with these people?

I didn’t realise these people were still out there

Razmig Keucheyan is an assistant professor in sociology at the University of Paris-Sorbonne and the author of The Left Hemisphere

But I live and learn:

Like financialisation, militarisation is about reducing risk and creating a physical and social environment favourable to capitalist accumulation. They are a kind of “antibody” that the system secretes when a menace looms. This doesn’t necessarily take the form of shocks of the sort described by Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine: it is a more gradual process that slowly takes hold of every aspect of social life.

Nothing in the system’s logic will make it go away. A world of environmental desolation and conflict will work for capitalism, as long as the conditions for investment and profit are guaranteed. And, for this, good old finance and the military are ready to serve. Building a revolutionary movement that will put a stop to this insane logic is therefore not optional. Because, if the system can survive, it doesn’t mean that lives worth living will.

Seriously looking at the world through the wrong end of the telescope. Stil, Still!, believing that capitalism (and a lot of what he’s actually complaining about is markets, not capitalism) is something imposed in order to exploit scarcity. When it’s actually a response to scarcity. We don’t have a capitalism or market for seawater because there is no scarcity of it. It’s scarcity which is the original problem and that doesn’t go away simply because we use private property and voluntary collective action as a way of trying to deal with it.

Christian Aid sure is a funny organisation

In their new report on tax and inequality in Africa they say this:

In Kenya’s case, this move is aggravated by the implementation of the new money transfer tax, an additional tax burden for the poor.

This is, of course, the same Christian Aid which insists there should be a financial transaction tax here in the EU which would be an additional tax burden for the poor.

Consistency, this is nothing like it.

Fairtrade Foundation wants to screw consumers

Ho hum:

The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on the government to intervene in a banana price war in supermarkets that is putting pressure on suppliers and ,it claims, could lead to shortages.

The foundation, which aims to protect farmers in developing countries, says the price of bananas in UK supermarkets has nearly halved in the past 10 years to just 11p, while farmers at the same time have seen costs double.

As ever they’re failing to see that this economy thing is all about making the consumer the very bestest off that we possibly can.

Or as Adam Smith put it:

Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.

And as to what is actually happening in this market:

Gidney said some supermarkets may also be losing “hundreds of thousands of pounds per week” by selling bananas at a loss and called on the government to investigate what he called a “dysfunctional market”, which was not good for farmers, retailers or consumers in the long term.

But the British Retail Consortium denied that farmers were being squeezed.

“The fact that supermarkets are choosing to sell bananas at below margin cost has no relationship to what they are paying producers. Producers are getting a good price and customers are getting a good price as well. Supermarkets sell such an enormous range of products that they can choose to sell particular products at a loss.”

That is, sales of bananas are higher than they would otherwise be without the supermarket subsidies to the retail price. And this bonehead is complaining that banana farmers are losing out because they get higher sales without any decline in price as a result of said subsidy?

And here’s the story of food banks

Volunteers have sounded the alarm over a growing reliance on food banks in one of the richest areas in Britain.

Weekly earnings in Hart in Hampshire, recently named as the most desirable district in the country for quality of life, are a third higher than the national average. But the district also has three food banks, which have given out more than 1,000 emergency food parcels in the past six months.

Anti-poverty campaigners say that, even in wealthy areas such as Hart, benefit changes and low wages are creating growing pockets of desperate need.

“When we opened in 2011, people said, ‘Surely there’s no hardship in Hart?’, but a surprising number of people in this area are in clear need,” said Graham Bunch, the food banks administrator. He said most people who use the service are families and single people aged between 25 and 45. Benefit delays (33%), benefit changes (14%) and low income (20%) are cited as the main reasons. “Each voucher covers three days’ emergency crisis relief food, by which time we hope that the benefit system has caught up and the situation has improved, but it is taking longer for the benefit system to move.”

As you can see, it’s not the level of benefits that is the major problem. It’s the fact that the State is appallingly bad at administering the benefits system.

All of which makes the complaints that people are relying upon private charity rather than the State rather odd really. Assuming we want to actually solve the problem that is….

Perhaps inequality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

The poor neighbourhood of Petare in western Caracas is not an obvious hotbed of anti-government sentiment. In the past, its residents have been among the major beneficiaries of Venezuela’s public health and education campaigns, and an economic policy that resulted in one of the sharpest falls in inequality in the world.

But as demonstrations sweep several major cities, even the people of Petare have taken to the streets to protest again surging inflation, alarming murder rates and shortages of essential commodities.

Perhaps, just maybe, said poor would prefer a sufficiency of the basics than equality?

Which does rather lead us to the idea that places should strive to have a market based system, one that provides those basics, rather than a command and control economy which strives to provide that equality.

But then I’ve made this point about Venezuela before. The basic idea, to make the lives of the poor better (if we are to believe the rhetoric) is just fine. It’s the appallingly stupid manner they’ve gone about doing it that is the problem.

So we have to explain Heidi Moore one more time

Here’s why: that 500,000 is an estimate of the number of jobs the country might lose if the minimum wage gets raised to $10.10 an hour, according to a controversial analysis released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office. Now that cut may or may not actually happen, depending on whether Congress torpedoes the administration’s effort to raise the minimum wage. But the left is already ready for war, as AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka complained about conservatives who will brandish the prospect of 500,000 lost jobs as an excuse to avoid raising the minimum wage and create “subservient, scared workers whose suffering will expand their stock portfolios”. (Less well-publicized is the CBO’s conclusion that a higher minimum wage would raise 16.5 million people out of poverty. Families of four with incomes between $24,000 a year and $71,500 a year would see their collective incomes rise by $3 billion.)

What about those 2m jobs? That’s how much the economy will lose by 2019 because of federal budget cuts, as estimated by the Center for American Progress. And, well, I hate to break it to you, but Congress already voted on those last year, and it didn’t spur one fired shot.

The CBO is a non-partisan, impartial, government funded, neither left nor right, analysis house. The CAP is a highly partisan leftoid group devoted to every increasing Government.

One is not like the other and their analyses should not be given the same weight.

I’m becoming very amused by Jack Monroe

For as far as I can see what has actually happened to her is entirely the opposite of what she thinks happened to her. She is now earning well (cookbook on the way, regular columns in the papers, been on TV a few times (yes, you do get appearance money) and I have absolutely no doubt at all that she’s on considerably more than the median wage.

And yes, there was indeed a time when things were very bleak indeed:

I wanted to say that poverty is almost indescribable to Edwina and co with their blinkered, self-righteous attitudes. That turning off the fridge because it’s empty anyway, that sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast, having freezing cold showers and putting your child to bed in god knows how many layers of clothes in the evening – it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising.

Imagine living for 11 weeks with no housing benefit, because of “delays”. Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent that you can’t pay, ignoring the phone, ignoring the door, drawing the curtains so the bailiffs can’t see that you’re home, cradling your son to your chest and sobbing that this is where it’s all ended up. It feels endless. Hopeless. Cold. Wet. Day after day of “no”. No we aren’t looking for staff. No there isn’t anything else to eat. No I can’t put the heating on. No I haven’t got any money to pay my rent arrears. No, no, no.

She got screwed over by an uncaring, unfeeling and inefficient state. That there should be benefits for those who need them I entirely support. But perhaps we shouldn’t have the system being managed by the sort of cockknobblers who take 11 weeks to work out whether someone deserves to have heat, food or a roof over their heads. What Monroe is complaining about here is not that there is no benefit system to aid with poverty, it’s that we’ve got the usual incompetents working for the State.

The rhetoric of ‘work hard and get on’ can fall apart very quickly and you can find yourself in a pit of joblessness, benefit delays and depression

But that’s exactly what did happen to Monroe. She got screwed over by that incompetent State and then worked hard and got on. I realise that no one is actually taking it this way but this is a profoundly anti-State story, what happened to her. The bad things that happened came about as a result of bureaucratic incompetence. The good things came from the market recognising her talents.

The final lesson being that we don’t need to change the market, we need to fire the cocknobblers.

Slavery reparations again

Caribbean slave descendants, some of whose ancestors worked for David Cameron’s distant family, are calling for an apology and billions of pounds in reparations


The group is ready to sue in the courts and has hired Leigh Day, the London law firm that last year won £20 million for Kenyans tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.

This month it will unveil a list of 10 demands for Britain, France and Holland, including funds likely to total billions, an apology, and assurances slavery will never be repeated, The Telegraph can disclose.

This isn’t going to get anywhere in law.

“You can’t have it both ways,” said Prof Shepherd. “Your society was developed. You are enjoying a lifestyle because of the blood, sweat and tears of people in the past.”

“It is a question of priorities,” said Lord Gifford. “And this needs to be added to the list of priorities.” He called on Mr Cameron to be inspired by his ancestry to “take a lead” on making amends.

And that’s why, because you cannot have it both ways.

If you have indeed done something bad then you can indeed be made to pay restitution. But the amount of that is determined by what would have been the situation if you had not done that bad thing. You’ve got to make people whole again.

And in the absence of the slave trade those Jamaicans would be in Ghana (for example), and be rather poorer than they are. However vile the slave trade was, however appalling the treatment of their forbears, they themselves are better off than if it had not happened.

What reparation?


Because there’s a limited amount of space in each block, such that the entire worldwide Bitcoin network can only handle seven transactions each second, people can tag on an additional fee on their transactions to entice miners to put their transaction in the next available block and avoid possibly having to wait.

How in buggery are we going to have a global currency if it can only process 7 transactions a second?

Yes, you’re right, Will Hutton is a tosser

The public sector isn’t perfect but at least it doesn’t fleece us

The pensioners of the Work Foundation would like a word Mr. Hutton. But here’s his conclusion:

Regulation, derided as a burden on business, is, rather, what society deploys to keep business honest, whether it emanates from London or Brussels.

No, it isn’t. Competition is what society deploys to keep business on the straight and narrow. That’s why we use markets, you see? And that’s also why we want to use markets in the provision of public services. Because we get that competition that keeps the system honest….

Only a particularly demented Marxist could have written this

No courses at Yale troubled Yellen or myself with any analyses of how exploitation lies at the core of capitalist production. We were never taught that the majority of industrial workers produce more value for employers than what employers pay them.

The difference between the value created and what is paid to the workers is called “profit”.

You might need to be a Marxist to whine about it but you certainly don’t need to have studied any Marxist economics to know of its existence.