Casuistry at Unherd

Why doesn’t Britain value its farmers?

Bollocks, Britain spends £3 billion a year on subsidising farmers.

This crisis has shown we need to think very carefully about how the nation feeds itself

How might that be then?

Last week, for example, sheep prices collapsed, because the system was suddenly frozen with confusion and log jams.

Genius seems to think that a fall in the price of food is evidence of a shortage of food.

Norway has a deeply protectionist food system that supports its farmers as a matter of national strategic importance. Farmers there, for example, produce 80-90% of the national demand for beef and sheep meat. Since large areas of Norway aren’t globally competitive for agriculture, it doesn’t want to ‘outsource’ what food production it is capable of and put its rural communities — where family-run farms drive the local economy — at risk. It may turn out to be a very sensible policy. Ask yourself whether you trust Donald Trump to keep food supply lines to Britain open in a time of genuine food crisis? Or whether he might look after America’s interests first?

Given that the Americans are banging on the door asking us to buy their food we might have a clue. Another one being that when we were in crisis the Americans filled the Atlantic Ocean with ships carrying food to us.

Things are going to get a whole lot worse if, after this is all over, we continue as though nothing has changed and throw British farmers to the mercy of global free trade and systems that are big, bad and ugly. We need to protect this key national resource so it is there for us through thick and thin.

Because if another disaster strikes — and it will — then I want a significant share of my diet to be available within walking distance of where I live. I want to know where I can source food for my family, and if that means I pay a bit more for food in the good times, then so be it.

And that’s not what the correspondent, a Lake District farmer is asking. Rather, he’s asking that everyone else pay more for their food so that Lake district farmers gain more subsidy.

At which point, of course, fuck ‘im.

Groceries Prices in United Kingdom are 36.00% lower than in Norway

Him and the horse he rode in on.

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I’m all for Snippa’s idea

Tax and justice

7. Justice should be seen to be done within a tax system. Tax authorities should make available all legislation, information, support and explanations required to assist a taxpayer seeking to comply with their obligations. Appropriate, timely, affordable and independent appeal mechanisms must be available to those who believe that they have been incorrectly taxed. Penalties for those who err must be proportionate.

Quite so. Have the system simple enough, and well enough explained, that tax accountancy entirely disappears as a profession. Given the population’s average IQ this militates against anything other than a single box tax system. Your income was? Pay x% here.

Cool Beanz, no?

Perceptive as ever

Advertising is, of course, the only industry dedicated to the promotion of unhappiness, discontent, and ill-feeling. Its activities are premised on the creation of a sense of inadequacy.


According to figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research for The Daily Telegraph, the Central Office of Information, which co-ordinates government advertising, marketing and communications expenditure, has fallen from Britain’s largest advertising spender in 2009 to the fifth biggest in 2010.

Nielsen said the Government has spent £113m on advertising in 2010, down from £227m in 2009, when major campaigns included the ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’ swine flu adverts and the Change4Life anti-obesity campaign.


Seems entirely possible

Is there a safe way for me to enjoy casual sex during the coronavirus crisis?
I have always practised safe sex. Is it possible to find a way to engage in sex with strangers during the current situation?

It’ll be a little less safe, obviously, but the general mechanics will be the same.

Bugger off mateys

The largest group in the European parliament has urged the UK government to do the “responsible thing” and extend the Brexit transition period, as coronavirus plays havoc with the timetable for an EU-UK deal.

The centre-right European People’s party (EPP), which unites the parties of 11 EU leaders, including Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar, issued a statement on Monday calling on the government to extend the Brexit transition beyond the end of the year.

Christophe Hansen, a MEP from Luxembourg who sits on the European parliament’s international trade committee, said: “Under these extraordinary circumstances, I cannot see how the UK government would choose to expose itself to the double whammy of the coronavirus and the exit from the EU single market, which will inevitably add to the disruption, deal or no deal.

Once the pass is sold then there will always be another extraordinary crisis, won’t there?

Danny Dorling really is an ass

The general slowdown we are living through is advantageous. Recognising this requires us to shift our fundamental view of change, innovation and discovery as unalloyed benefits. We need to stop expecting ceaseless technological revolutions.

We’re in the middle of the digital revolution – which really is changing everything – and this ass wants us to believe that technological change is slowing?

Slightly difficult

There are times when euphemisms must be used to avoid offending maiden aunts:

We could have subsidies, bailouts, and political favors. But who gets what in such a system will depend upon the position in the political alimentary canal of the supplicant.

Can’t quite say, in a mainstream American publication, “whose lips are firmly attached to the political sphincter”, or “who gives analingus to politicians” or even “who inhabits the political colon” let alone who kisses political ass.

Fortunately English is an adaptable language.

Not quite and exactly the same thing

World Bank: Coronavirus financial shock in Asia-Pacific will condemn millions to poverty
New report warns that 11 million in the Asia Pacific region could be pushed under the poverty line

That’s actively going into poverty:

The financial shockwaves of the coronavirus crisis will prevent millions of people in the Asia-Pacific region from escaping poverty this year, a new report from the World Bank has warned.

That’s not escaping it.

Still, this concern for the garment workers is good. For when we get lefties decrying this – as indeed all should for who doesn’t want to see the poor of the world rise up – we can at least retort that in normal times we already do our bit. We buy the fruits of their labour, that fast fashion, which is what aids them in becoming richer.

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.

Books to avoid

Taking on fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, and the joys and perils of being alone, Kern maps the city from new vantage points, laying out an intersectional feminist approach to urban histories and proposes that the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping a new urban future. It is time to dismantle what we take for granted about cities and to ask how we can build more just, sustainable, and women-friendly cities together.

From the email offers of free books I’ll not bother to get sent to me…..

Quite astonishing

Yes, OK, blah, blah, but if you’re going to do an economic analysis you do actually have to be able to do an economic analysis.

Actually, as an accountant, Snippa should at least be able to do sums:

It also destroys the economics of fracking, which have always been almost incomprehensible given the massive up front costs and the remarkable fall off of yield after only a couple of years of production.

Massive costs? A fracking well costs perhaps $10 million to get up and running. A conventional oil field $10 billion perhaps these days. Which one is massive?

And as to the up front. Near all of the costs of renewables are in CapX, some of the costs of fracking are in OpeX. Which, therefore, is more upfront?

That is, in an accounting or even economic sense the joy of fracking is that it has lower upfront costs than the two major alternatives…..

Get ready to listen folks

In this context I am also now framing my thinking on what I am calling a post-coronavirus consensus (PCC). Once this crisis is over we will need a new lens through which to view the world so that we can properly understand what we need to do. Of course, millions of others will also need to be engaged in this process.

Presumably our involvement will be as listeners, recipients.

Times Subs!

We may be tiring of tales about the outraged shock and awe of us non-key workers mewed at home with family, wifi and slightly restricted shopping opportunities.

Mewed? Some derivation of, or neologism building upon, mewling and puling? Would be fun it if were but rather more likely a typo for immured, no?

(Spotter, Chris M)

Research is a rocky road

“I have some electronic equipment but really no experience or expertise in building circuits or things,” he told Guardian Australia.

“I had a part that detects magnetic fields. I thought that if I built a circuit that could detect the magnetic field, and we wore magnets on our wrists, then it could set off an alarm if you brought it too close to your face. A bit of boredom in isolation made me think of that.”

However, the academic realised the electronic part he had did the opposite – and would only complete a circuit when there was no magnetic field present.

“I accidentally invented a necklace that buzzes continuously unless you move your hand close to your face,” he said.

Well, trial and error, yo know.

Of course, then he carried on playing with the magnets and got them stuck up his nose.

But I do like inventing the opposite. He is from the counterweight continent after all.

So much for responsible adults then, eh?

Maternity services are bracing themselves for a “spike” in unplanned pregnancies which could place further strain on clinics amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, experts claim.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) is warning that the prospect of an extended lockdown combined with a lack of access to contraceptives is likely to fuel an increase in accidental pregnancies.

Bit of a surprise that the strong, educated and independent women of today haven’t worked out what causes babies yet.

This is fascinating

Truthdig (who they? – Ed) is now on “hiatus” as a result of a stroke and what looks like a lock out. Eliciting this:

In a third statement penned by the Truthdig staffers who were terminated, staff reiterated an unfortunate truth in media — namely, that the owners and managers of publications aren’t always aligned with the publication’s values.

Erm, who is it that defines the values if it isn’t the owners and or managers?

Doesn’t really work, does it?

Once the necessary support measures to start the economy going again, when that happens, are also added in I think it’s quite possible to imagine this estimate at least doubling.

It took more than a decade for UK notional national debt (without QE being taken into account) to increase by £1 trillion after 2008. It will take much less time to repeat that on this occasion. However, after QE (which cancels the debt that deficits notionally create because the government buys its own debt back when it does QE, and it cannot owe itself money) the increase in real debt may be quite modest in my prediction. QE funding, or variations on it, will run almost in parallel with the deficit in my expectation, as it did for much of the period from 2009 to 2014. As a result the supposed ‘cost’ to taxpayers will be minimal.

We need to get our heads around all this, and soon.

OK, let’s run this as Ritchie says. We don;t actually do QE as such – the ability to reverse it by selling the BoE held bonds back into the market being the important differentiator here – and instead we do the straight monetisation of fiscal policy that is MMT.

We pump another £1 trillion of base money into the system.

A good guess as to current base money is the £80 billion we started with before QE plus QE. So, call it £500 billion among friends. We now add a trillion. That’s a pretty big jump in the money supply.

OK, during depressed times that might not cause inflation. I think there’s a good chance it will but leave that aside. Accept the claim that it won’t.

Hmm. But when we’ve recovered? We’ve now got three times the base money supply? We’re going to have to cancel some of that money, aren’t we?

MMT says tax it back to cancel it. OK. So, we raise taxation in order to prevent the inflation. And so people are paying more tax – how is this not a cost to taxpayers?

Which is one of the things I keep trying to point out about MMT. If it works then it doesn’t make any difference. We print to spend instead of borrowing – cool. But once we’re back to the usual relationship between base and wide money therefore inflation we have to raise taxes. And what’s the difference between paying higher taxes to kill inflation and higher taxes to pay back borrowings?