Your Tax Money At Work

Oh well

One of the most glaring aspects of the Covid-19 era is yet another Westminster-centred crisis of political leadership, if not politics itself. This may be a polarised age in which the idea of millions being helped through dark times by the people at the top is laughably old-fashioned. Trust in power has hardly been a feature of recent British history. But it has been clear from the start of this crisis that Boris Johnson has neither the gravitas nor the basic administrative talents to offer us any convincing kind of inspiration or comfort, and the surreally poor quality of the cabinet only makes things worse.

Given that the Tories are – marginally perhaps – the competent ones that means that Britain just can’t have an intrusive nor embracing government then. Simply because the ruling class can’t cope with being so.

Minarchy it is then.

Whatever we think of Rishi and Gavin who does think that Anneliese and David Lammy are more competent?


Putting policy on autopilot is not new. For the U.S. government, it began in 1935 when, with the guidance of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, our first female cabinet secretary, the Roosevelt administration introduced unemployment insurance as part of the New Deal. Employers pay into the system, so that laid-off workers can receive benefits. More workers are laid off in recessions, so more money is spent on benefits. Then in expansions, much less is spent.

Food stamps and progressive income taxes are also, in their own ways, automatic stabilizers.


In light of the pandemic, it was both humane and economically astute when, this past March, Congress made jobless benefits more generous through the CARES Act: The $600 a week federal supplement to state unemployment checks; the expanded eligibility for benefits; the increased number of weeks the unemployed could get support; the $1,200 direct checks to the vast majority of adults. It was all a strong start.

Then, political will eroded. The extra $600 expired on July 31, leaving millions with much less to make ends meet. In the meantime, a zombie debate over whether to renew that extra money — along with a bucket of other crucial economic benefits — dragged on for months.

The surest sign that automatic stabilizers stand a fighting chance of being included in the stimulus is that Ms. Yellen may be on board, too. She endorsed using automatic triggers this summer, explaining her reasoning that struggling Americans “need relief and support for as long as the job market remains weak.”

Those aren’t automatic stabilisers then because they’re not automatic, are they?

We must do more of what doesn’t work!

Pharmaceutical companies should do more to transfer vaccine technology to prevent the poorest countries falling behind in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, according to an expert.

The warning came from Dag-Inge Ulstein, the co-chair of the global council trying to speed up access to Covid vaccines for the world’s poor, known as the Act (Access to Covid-19 Tools) Accelerator. Ulstein, Norway’s international development minister, oversees the drive to ensure vaccines reach the poor – the Covax programme.

His remarks were amplified by his global health ambassador, John-Arne Røttingen, who told the Guardian that the battle to create equal access to vaccines was “at a very important turning point”. Other diplomats fear that if the issue of vaccine distribution is not resolved, it will result in years of resentment between rich and poor nations.

Samantha Power, the new USAid director, has also admitted the scheme is not on track, and the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointed out that only 25 people had been vaccinated in Africa compared with 39 million in rich countries, and said the world was on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure”.

The Act Accelerator is aiming to distribute 2bn doses of vaccines by the end of 2021 to world’s 92 poorer countries. Those countries can buy from elsewhere if they wish, but are unlikely to have the cash, and outside the scheme the price is likely to be higher.

It is now forecast that only 27% of those living in poor and medium income countries will be vaccinated this year, but there are fears that something deeper may be going wrong. Detailed forecasts issued by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, this week show Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, will only receive 140m doses by June through Covax.

So the task is badly handled by an international bureaucracy of tosspots. At which point we must give more power to, more money to, the international tosspots so they can handle matters more badly more.

Doesn’t sound like one of those reinforcing success plans, does it?

Enough to strike terror into the heart

‘California is America, only sooner’: how the progressive state could shape Biden’s policies

Grossly expensive, grossly incompetent, government that also manages to be broke.

Weather’s nice though.

A not completely formed thought is that California never would have got into this governance state if the weather wasn’t nice there. It’s the overall package that matters to the decision of where to live and a congenial climate makes up for an awful lot of other shit. Says the bloke living in southern Portugal which is the European equivalent of that climate (about, roughly, the San Diego part of it I would think).

If California had the current government and weather like North Dakota then everyone would have fucked off already.

Now isn’t this a surprise

The government has launched an investigation into reports that laptops it distributed to support vulnerable children during lockdown had been infected with malware connected to Russian servers.

No doubt this will be used to justify a £5 billion Crapita contract if free laptops for all is rolled out.

Kill the quangos

We haven’t actually got a Tory government:

Natural England head Tony Juniper

Natural England is indeed part of the government. And what the hell are Tories doing having someone like Juniper in it?

No, we never will kill off the appointment of such idiots to run those bodies. So, we need to kill the bodies…..

Guess what this is about?

While these flagship pieces of legislation relied on components of a capitalist market supply and demand model to produce innovation, they ultimately fostered a climate of toxic competitiveness and anxiety.

Yep, got it. School exams.

In the meantime, there are pedagogies that utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to solving human-centered problems with empathy—something our age cries out for. One of the most exciting is known as Design Thinking, and it has moved into educational spaces as a modern form of pedagogy that can build critical thinking skills organically, naturally capitalizing on the power of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Design Thinking challenges students to address problems in a creative, empathic, and cooperative manner. Along the way, they can develop the practical and intellectual skills to act effectively in a complex world.

There’s also the pedagogy of “democratic schools,” which give power to students in the form of self-directed learning and participation in school governance. This method prepares students for engagement in the democratic process, as adults, and is very different from the testing-focused culture perpetuated by NCLB, RTTT, and ESSA. Schools such as Summerhill in the U.K. have been operating as a democracy for over a century. In the U.S., the Sudbury Valley School, which took inspiration from Summerhill, was launched in 1968 in Framingham, MA. Others like it have followed.

In 2014-15, I experimented with both of these pedagogies and applied it in a community-based school setting. Students cultivated their gifts and talents, while learning about history, art, science, math, literature, social studies, and developing critical thinking.

Just don’t test anyone on any of that.

So, err, why bother?

A substantial pay rise for NHS staff in England battling the coronavirus pandemic would cost the exchequer only a fifth of the headline price tag and boost Britain’s struggling economy, according to a report.

Setting out the economic case for raising the wages of England’s 1 million nurses, midwives, health professionals and NHS support staff, researchers from the London Economics consultancy said 81% of the cost of a 5% or 10% pay rise would be recovered by the government.

The study argues that if pay was increased, the Treasury would receive more in taxes paid by these workers and their employers,

Oh Lord, again?

Then, after the pandemic, he wants a review that could lead to every child in England being given a free laptop as standard state-school kit. The campaign is backed by 2,000 head teachers in the WorthLess? network as well as cross-party MPs including the Conservative chairman of the education select committee, Robert Halfon.

Itoje, whose father is a special needs teacher, says he is inspired by the Manchester United striker’s successful campaign for free meals for children in the school holidays. Rashford, like Itoje, is represented by Roc Nation, the talent agency founded by the hip hop billionaire Jay-Z, which has backed social improvements in America. Both black British sports stars are using their social media platforms to influence change. Itoje has about 260,000 followers on Instagram and 90,000 on Twitter, and has started to post messages using the hashtag #digitaldivide.

Can you imagine how shit a government laptop is going to be?

Well, yes, and?

On the fiscal front, Republican members of Congress appear content to let transit and other COVID-ravaged sectors languish. The perennial inability of Congress to act indicates that states and local communities increasingly will have to find their own way to pay for transit, though they will never have the sums at their disposal that the federal government can muster.

There is a reasonable sorta argument that if the people of an area want buses then the people of that area can pay for buses, right?


A marketing quango for the West Midlands spent almost £50,000 of public money hiring a private jet to fly to the Mipim property conference in Cannes.

The West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) – which exists to support business in the region – spent £44,495 on chartering the aircraft for a flight from Birmingham to Nice in March 2019, according to a newly published contract.

A WMCG spokesman said they hired the plane because there were no direct passenger flights from Birmingham, meaning the delegation would have been forced to change in Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam or else take a “long drive to Luton or Heathrow”.

Wonder if we can get “long drive to Luton” to enter the language in the same way that “discussing Uganda” has?


Physical and sexual abuse was the most common type of abuse reported to the commission, but abuse also included the use of medication and medical acts [electro-convulsive therapy] as punishment, unjustified solitary confinement and isolation, improper strip searches and vaginal examinations, verbal abuse, racial slurs and “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”, as well as widespread neglect.


A quarter of a million New Zealanders held in state care suffered some form of abuse, a landmark inquiry has found, with the true number believed to be higher.

Presumably the people who argue for larger government, for it to have more power over us all, are those who think they’ll get to be the abusers, right?

They’ve screwed the pooch

The Government has revised plans for its controversial “mutant” planning algorithm, which will now prioritise building in urban areas most in need of development.

The original proposals were heavily criticised by dozens of Conservative backbenchers, including the former prime minister Theresa May, amid fears that it would lead to a surge of house building in their greenbelt constituencies.

An updated formula will be weighted to focus on developing family homes in 20 of England’s largest cities and making the most of vacant buildings and underused land.

The point wasn’t to concentrate attention on certain areas of land. Not at all. It was to entirely free planning on near all land.

They’ve screwed it.

T. Dan Smith and John Poulson Are A Warning, Not a Guide

Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool, has been arrested on suspicion of witness intimidation and conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a long-running police investigation into fraud in the city.

Mr Anderson, 62, has been suspended from the Labour Party pending the outcome of the police inquiries.

In a statement, Merseyside Police said five men had been arrested on Friday as part of an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool. Multiple sources have confirmed that Mr Anderson, who has been Mayor for a decade, was one of them.

This being one of the arguments against that power in municipal government. Any concentration of such power to make money attracts those who wish to make money.

You friggin what?

An egregious freeze on pay for more than 2 million public sector workers should be reversed, not least because the cliched picture of the feather-bedded civil servant is exposed as being even less accurate than usual when a pandemic hits.

There are very few corners of the public sector that have not worked hard over the past eight months. To hold up nurses as more deserving than the police, social workers, teachers and firefighters is something only a blinkered chancellor could do.

Near all teachers were on at least part time furlough. That’s working hard is it?

Quite so Mr. Harris, quite so

A vaccine will start to ease our collective anxiety, but the reasons why Covid-19 hit the UK hard will not be going away

The gross incompetence of the State – the actual state, not just the politicians on the top of it – isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Public Health England has been worrying about the size of Mars bars – worrying to the point of legislation I think? – rather than anything to do with contagious, epi- or pan- demic diseases.

That being just the one example of the need for the piano wire solution, no?