Your Tax Money At Work

California’s death penalty stats

California reinstated capital punishment in 1978. Since then 82 inmates have died from natural causes, 27 have died by suicide and 13 have been executed in the state of California. Eight people — including Franklin — have died and are awaiting a cause of death while 14 have died from other causes, according to the release.

Even in executions individual voluntary action is more efficient than the State.

How excellent

The three men leading the nation’s fight against coronavirus have all gone into self-isolation after the disease reached the heart of government.

Presumably therefore there will be less government about it and it’ll all be over sooner.

We can thank the EU for this one

Unwrapped a new laptop, updated the software and transferred documents. Three years seems to be the lifespan of these machines – not that they necessarily become outdated, so much as fall apart.

Pure tin solder grows whiskers.

No, really.

Enough of those will short a circuit somewhere and fry the machine.

The solution to tin whiskers is lead in the solder. Lead in solder is illegal at the insistence of the EU.

The EU now has a program to insist that electronic items must be made to last longer.

Kill them all.

One for BiG

I’m vaguely recalling – and therefore could obviously be wrong – that the FDA’s definition of “safe and effective” uses “effective” to mean as good as or better than whatever other drugs there are already approved to treat the same condition.

Is that true?

Specifically, I’m interested in

1) Effective means does what it says on the tin

or, to distinguish

2) Does what it says on the tin better than extant preparations


3) Does what it says on the tin as well as or better than current preparations.

Protect the NHS

Yes, yes, obviously, I know what the slogan is about. Refrain from getting infected so that the NHS isn’t overloaded.

And yet there’s still something more than a little jarring about it. For it can also be read as the NHS is some joyous creation of our civilisation that must be cared for, saved from harm, even at the expense of other things like life and, well, civilisation. That is, it’s being reified rather than treated as what it is, something we’ve created to do stuff for us.

And, you know, if it doesn’t do stuff for us well or efficiently then it should be changed, replaced or abandoned. Exactly the things that a goodly portion of the political commentariat will never allow to happen.

Fascinating, innit?

The row came as it emerged that thousands of extra ventilators ordered for patients critically ill with coronavirus are not expected to be ready for a number of months, despite the disease’s anticipated peak looming….

‘S like that delivery of the new socialist tanks that really, really, worked against the 88 mm guns. Delivery 1947.

Err, no Mr. Warner

Not quite:

Future generations will face higher taxes – but that is a price we must pay

I believe Telegraph writers now create their own headlines. For it’s not that we must pay that price, it’s that they, those future generations, must pay that price.

We’re in the third of Friedman’s ways of spending money, other peoples’ on us. Caviar all ’round, eh?

Amazingly, these people get paid

Why we need a national food parcel scheme

So, the set up. The shops are crowded at a time when there’s an infectious disease around. Booking a delivery slot, well, wait three weeks. Therefore we need a national and government scheme.

Erm, we’ve got a number of schemes that cover nationally. Ocado, Tesco, Morrisons, whatever others. The quick way to do this is to add capacity to the extant systems, no? Rather than asking Whitehall to get involved with computers again.

Given the performance on the NHS Spine we’d end up with bacon to Muslims and Jews, tampons for male to female trannies, bog roll to those without arseholes and other such efficiencies.

These people are mad

Saez and Zucman that is. Their solution to coronavirus:

The most direct way to provide this insurance is to have governments act as payers of last resort, so that hibernating businesses can keep paying their workers (known in economic terms as idle workers) instead of laying them off, and can keep paying their necessary bills such as rent, utilities and interest instead of going bankrupt.

In practice, in the US, the unemployment insurance system is already up and running, making it possible to compute and deliver compensation to idle workers. Workers should immediately start receiving special unemployment insurance benefits so they are no longer a cost to their employers – even though they stay formally employed – and no re-hiring process is needed once they can come back to work.

Self-employed individuals (such as gig workers) could report themselves as idle and be eligible for this special unemployment insurance. In case of partial idling – if someone’s working hours have been cut – unemployment insurance benefits would be prorated.

These benefits would be progressive if they replaced a higher fraction of earnings for low-paid workers. This is a desirable feature, as low-paid workers are more likely to be affected by the lockdown (ie less likely to be able to work from home) and less likely to have savings to replace a temporary loss in earnings.

In the payer-of-last-resort programme we envision, businesses on lockdown would report their monthly necessary costs of maintenance and receive payment from the government. Necessary costs are rent, utility payments, interest on debt, health insurance (in the US) and national insurance contributions (in the UK) of idle workers, and other costs that are vital for the maintenance of businesses. For partially shut down sectors, governments would pay a fraction of the maintenance costs. The amounts don’t need to be exact; verification and correction can take place once the lockdown is over. Any excess government payment could be transformed into an interest-free loan that could be recouped over several years.

Hands up everyone who thinks that the bureaucracies of the US or UK could actually do this in less than many, many, months?

Quite, so that’s not going to work then, is it?

Seriously Polly

Later come the political questions of how the country came to be left so nakedly unprepared – the NHS and social care brutally worn down by a decade of needless, ideologically driven austerity, with local government and civil service stripped of experience and capacity. We are where we are, right now. Public services will no doubt do their heroic utmost, often in appalling situations.

There is no logical or likely amount of NHS spending which would leave it capable of dealing with a once in a century pandemic. It’s not even sensible that there should be either.

This might well not be the full story

The shipyard that won the disastrous Calmac ferry contract ran out of money after starting work on the vessels before finishing their design, the quango in charge of the fiasco has told a Holyrood inquiry.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) said Ferguson Marine “deviated from normal shipbuilding practice” by failing to complete their design first, then devoted “insufficient manpower” to the £97 million contract.

What’s rather more likely is that the civil servants didn’t finalise the design before sending it out for bidding. And then never did finalise the design.

But then that’s because I’m a realist about government.

Hmm, right

San Francisco declares state of emergency over coronavirus

An emergency over something that isn’t happening:

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) declared a state of emergency for the city on Tuesday amid concerns over the international coronavirus outbreak.

While no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in San Francisco, “the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Breed said in a statement.

And tens of thousands shitting in the streets is something they don’t declare an emergency over.

Ho hum, the art of government being to find the alarums that allow you to spend the crap out of everything then, eh?

Remind me

SUSSEX: It is agreed that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to require effective security to protect them and their son. This is based on The Duke’s public profile by virtue of being born into The Royal Family, his military service, the Duchess’ own independent profile, and the shared threat and risk level documented specifically over the last few years. Neither have disclosed how this security will be paid.

I get that as a Royal Duchess she needs – and gets – tax paid security. But this independent profile bit.

OK, mid-level TV actress. Has a profile, sure. Might need security because of that. OK.

But why are UK taxpayers to cough up for that?

The point being, security required for “the Duchess’ own independent profile” is something that is to be paid for by “the Duchess’ own independent profile”.


We always do get our politics from pop songs, right?

Dave’s performance of his song Black at the Brit awards marked the moment that grime truly gave full-throated and undeniable voice to the politics of black Britain.

“Things can only get better” worked out so well.

All music is political

“Baby do me one more time” will be the theme track for Hillary’s parachute into the Democratic primaries?

As someone whose political education began with early American hip-hop it is affirming to see the strong emergence of black political voices in British music. Artists such as Public Enemy, KRS-One and Tupac were more important to my intellectual development than any academic text.

Bopping to it as a teenie has its merits, of course. But at some point “Dis is da sound of da police” does need to be replaced by a light scanning of Marx, Mill, Kant possibly, Smith, Hayek maybe? Or not?

Kehinde Andrews is professor of black studies at Birmingham City University.

Ah, no, not.

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.


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?

This is impressive

TfL insists that its land is already playing “a vital role in meeting the Mayor’s priorities to build affordable homes”, including with plans to build 1,800 homes on a 26 acre site at Earl’s Court, in west London.

Not much garden to those houses then. Or perhaps blocks of flats of course. Still that’s packing them in – 180 dwellings an acre?