Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Oxfam, Food, Oil and Commodity prices

Some say commodity prices reflect supply and demand. They do, but rising prices almost never reflect a shortage of the commodity but an overabundance of money.

Oxfam's latest iteration of the "we're all fucked, everything's fucked" hypothesis is just as much bollocks as every other time the end of the world has been called. The assumption that oil, food, gold prices are to keep going up is just wrong, and in calling for price controls, Oxfam essentially calls for a policy which has led directly to famine or shortages of staples almost every time it's been tried (perhaps, if am I being cynical, keeping Oxfam in a job?). It also calls for controls on futures markets, support for small farmers, and more aid. In short a complete recipe for continued third-world poverty. Notice as soon as a country, India, for example abandon this stupidity, famines happen less and less often and people start getting richer? Thus "Growing a better future, Food Justice in a resource-constrained world" can be dismissed as the work of anti-economic left-wing idealists and rejected as complete crap.

The reason for food price inflation is simple. It's not shortages, It's certainly not climate change. It's not "speculation", for futures markets allow hedging and for every long speculator, there's a short speculator. It's not drought, or crop failure, as this is poorly correlated to world food market prices. One area may have a poor harvest, another a good one (this is also a reason for diversifying your supply rather than relying on local producers - against the wishes of the more stupid element in the environmental/charity movement). Nor is population growth, or the increased demand for meat in China, or biofuel in the USA to blame. These processes have been going on for decades during which time, long periods of FALLING food prices have been observed.

The real reason Food prices are rising is the simple observation that if you increase the number of US dollars in circulation, each dollar buys less. Another way of putting this is that the price of things goes up. Now in response to the credit crunch, the USA printed money, as did the UK and other major trading powers. Is anyone surprised that this coincided with sharp increases in the price of shares, bonds, oil, grain, copper, gold, and almost anything else of value you care to mention (or in the case of house prices, prevented a much-needed collapse)? Indeed this is EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS INTENDED TO DO: prevent prices falling, a situation called 'deflation', which everyone is agreed is BAD.

So. If quantitative easing is to end, and interest rates (the price of money) are to rise around the world, we can expect commodity prices to fall. Which will lead to OXFAM's next report demanding that prices be supported to favour their favoured small farmers, as western countries are accused of dumping excess production.

What is really necessary to help African farmers is decent infrastructure to prevent 40% of their produce rotting in the fields, or supply-chain; and access to western markets. Indeed access to western markets would be the stimulus for such infrastructure development. Such a policy would involve reform of US farm subsidies, and the E.U.'s truly evil Common Agricultural Policy, which when taken together are responsible for more death and human misery than almost any other policy in the western arsenal (the war on drugs runs it close).

Make no bones about it, we rich westerners have a boot on the African face, but not in the manner that Oxfam describe.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Spanish Indignados

Some Spanish chaps – a lot of them really – have decided to invade Puerta Del Sol square and sit down in protest about the world Economy and how deeply unfair it all is. They want a “New politics” and “A new way of doing things”. Now an unemployed Spaniard lazing around in the sun in a park doing bugger all is about the same level of protest as a Brit having a sit in at the local pub and watching Sky sports but hey ho. What is it about young Mediterraneans and their belief that they can reinvent the wheel? Now our student youth are pretty dumb and have some rather strange ideas, but Greek, Spanish and Italian students win the Variety Club medal with Oak Leaves and Clusters.

See if this sounds familiar. Party A Inherits a shower of shite economy from Party B because the previous lot spunked all the voters cash on their client state and then borrowed more to spend even more on state non-jobs. Take 8 years to sort it out, by that time people have forgotten and want more money spent on government sponsored hugs and pink fluffy things that will make the world so much nicer. Say they are willing to pay extra tax to do so and elect party B again where they ruin the economy by taking lots of money to spend on government sponsored hugs and pink fluffy things (state non jobs). Because economy buggered populace vote in party A...

Party A Inherits a shower of shite economy from Party B because the previous lot spunked all the voters cash on their client state and then borrowed more to spend even more on state non-jobs. Take 8 years to sort it out, by that time people have forgotten and want more money spent on government sponsored hugs and pink fluffy things that will make the world so much nicer. Say they are willing to pay extra tax to do so and elect party B again where they ruin the economy by taking lots of money to spend on government sponsored hugs and pink fluffy things (state non-jobs). Because economy buggered populace vote in party A...

Party A Inherits a shower of shite… (Repeat Ad-infinitum)

Spain, The UK, America, Canada, Australia, Greece etc All of them do exactly the same thing. Conservative/Labour, Socialist/Peoples Party, Conservative/Liberal, Republican/Democrat, Labor/Liberal. And people wonder why politics is cyclical. It’s quite simple really, there are only two types of parties in the world, those parties that promise to steal shit off your neighbour to give to you (or in the case of Greens your ideals), and those that promise to protect you from your thieving neighbours that won't get off their ass and work (or work hard enough). Unless these Spanish protestors are unemployed Tibetan Holy Men and Nobel Prize winning geniuses who have worked out some incredible gravity defying new way of getting politics done - which is highly fucking unlikely - then its likely that they are merely bitching about the fact that the days of Party B government sponsored hugs are over for the next 8 years and Spain is about to undergo a cycle of Party A pain.

Piss pot tired of 40% unemployment? Start building a future that doesn’t involve Golf Courses.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Obama's Limo on Irish Roads

Obama's Limo is massively over-engineered, and is in theory able to operate as a Mobile life-support system and armoured cell capable of withstanding all but the most well-equipped and determined attack. (via)

the vehicle is fitted with military grade armor at least five inches thick, and the wheels are fitted with run flat tires … The doors weigh as much as a Boeing 757 airplane cabin door. The engine is equipped with a Eaton Twin Vortices Series 1900 supercharger system. The vehicle’s fuel tank is leak-proof and is invulnerable to explosions. The car is perfectly sealed against biochemical attacks and has its own oxygen supply and firefighting system built into the trunk. … two holes hidden inside the lower part of the vehicle’s front bumper … are able to emit tear gas The vehicle can also fire a salvo of multi-spectrum infrared smoke grenades as a countermeasure to an Rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) or Anti-tank missile (ATGM) attack and to act as a visual obscurant to operator guided missiles. … The limo is equipped wit
h a driver’s enhanced video system which allows the driver to operate in an infrared smoke environment. This driver’s enhanced video system also contains bumper mounted night vision cameras for operation in pitch black conditions. Kept in the trunk is a blood bank of the President’s blood type.[citation needed] Interestingly, there is no key hole in the doors. A special trick, known only to Secret Service agents, is required to gain access to the passenger area. Furthermore, the entire limo can be locked like a bank vault.
They've thought of everything? No? Millions of dollars worth of high security hardware were defeated by nothing more complicated than a speed-hump or pothole. (via)

The president's fucked when he comes to the UK then, if he hopes to drive around central London in "the Beast". If the designers of the vehicle had any sense (of course they don't, they're American & American cars are all badly-designed crap, even it seems, the President's), they'd have taken a leaf out of the Soviet book. In order to avoid such "beachings", inevitable in a long-wheelbase vehicle, some variants of the BRDM series of Scout cars in service with light motor rifle units had a pair of 'belly wheels' to aid, in this instance in trench crossing, but they'd help negotiate a speed-bump too.

BRDM-2 in service with the Peruvian Military, with chain-driven drop-down belly wheels clearly visible.

Such a simple system would help the limo get round narrow, potholed or steep European roads without beaching, and without leaving its occupant looking like a dick.

The IMF and Gordon Brown

I never thought I’d have to write about this again. I honestly thought he’d take his taxpayers money and stay in whatever Rotten Celtic Borough that elects him to do the square root of fuck all in Parliament. That he’d stay churning out his dreary books that nobody wants to read. I never thought he’d have the Chutzpah once he was found out to apply for a role with any more financial responsibility than cleaning out 1p coins from the small objects filter of the local sewage farm. But unbelievably the one eyed cunt we know and hate so well has been angling for the IMF job. And what’s worse his “friends” are upset that “Saviour of the world” Gordon Brown is being rather sensibly blocked by David Cameron as a possible future successor to the disgraced Dominic Strauss-Kahn. There have even been some Journos – and not all the usual suspects – who have said that Cameron should back a Brit (Even if the Brit in question is a nasty fucking idiot).

For Fucking Fuckety Fucks sake, “oh we need a British head, its not patriotic to back a foreigner blah blah blah”. We’re not Chinese or Brazilian for God’s sake, we don’t need constant hand jobs to our national ego to feel good about ourselves. And even if we did, having a Brit as the head of the IMF its hardly up there with the Royal wedding, lifting the World Cup or even inventing the clockwork radio. Naturally the general public haven’t got the same attention spans as the average Journalist and remember what a shower of utter shit G Brown M.P. was with their pension and their nations Gold Reserves. The nicer comments are one the lines of “Not fit to run a bath”, “is it 1st April?”, “…the man is an incompetent idiot” and “are you joking”

Seen as you Journalists obviously need reminding however, put your seatbelt on, here we go… The inhabitants of the Longleat Simian enclosure know more about finance than Gordon Brown. That tribe in the Amazonian Rain Forest that chuck spears at passing light aircraft are more friendly. His interpersonal skills are on par with a Rhino that’s just caught his balls on one of those African thorn bushes with the really long spines. Stalin was more tolerant of opposing opinions, Goebbels more accurate with his facts and figures and Pol Pot knew more about how to run a successful vibrant economy.

Be “Patriotic”? Since when the fucking fuckety fuck did that one eyed cunt ever do anything that wasn’t in his party’s interest rather than the country? Fire hosing our grandchildren’s future cash to buy more votes for his client state. Parachuting in a bunch of non-entity fuckwits who happen to wear Red Rosettes in key posts – ex Speaker of the House and EU Foreign Minister spring to mind. Fiddling with the postal vote system to give every Labour voter a couple of extra votes, fiddling with the democratic checks and balances so Labour voters in Scotland could boss the English around whilst making sure a future Tory government would have its hands tied weaning the Jocks off Welfare in Scotland. Bernie Madoff would be a better choice than that fucktard, at least Madoff would be a bit less patronising. So why the fuck should the Tories scratch his back when that chippy cunt did everything in his power to make Great Britain a one party state; even if Brown swears on his daddy’s bible that he won’t use his power to be an insufferable prick to the Conservatives.

An excellent post can be found here Bruce on politics

Monday, 23 May 2011

Publish & Be Damned

So. A footballer, whose name absolutely everyone with an Internet connection and an interest already knows, got a super injunction which prevents any media organisation reporting the fact that he had an affair with a Big Brother 7 contestant called Imogen Thomas, who to be fair to the guy, does have nice norks.

I'm not going to name him, because I am in no mood to be the blogger out of whom the law decides to make an example, but he plays for Manchester United and Wales, wears a number 11 shirt, and he's suing Twitter, like, right now.

Now, to my legally untrained mind, the issue comes down to the competing rights of freedom of speech and the right to privacy; specifically articles 8 & 10 and possibly 12 (marriage) of the European convention on Human rights. Just because the public is interested in with whom footballers and their ilk play hide the sausage, doesn't mean the newspapers have a right to publish and thereby invade peoples' privacy. But, whatever Lord Justice Eady decides, freedom of speech is, to my mind, paramount. Without a presumption of free speech, it's the rich and powerful who have the access to super-injunctions and less blessed unfortunates who come into the view of the tabloids but don't have the resources, get monstered. In freedom of speech, truth should be the defence. Readerships should be asking "why am I interested, I really must be a nasty, stupid, prurient, fuck to be paying to read this drivel, but then I like football and big brother, so duh...".

This may be a footballer, but if it's a politician, or in America, a religious hypocrite, the right of people to know the private behaviour of public individuals is stronger. Though it still says more about the prurience of the public, "celebrities" must accept that one has to be able to defend one's actions. The day of super-injunctions is past. Information is too difficult to suppress in this online world. Perhaps this is healthy - in a global village, every action has consequences. It's as if the world knows you, just as if you lived in the 10th century. It's equalising in it's own way.

Courts can ban media organisations from divulging details, whilst the Internet is awash with the facts. An injunction probably worked until about a decade ago, when a few organisations controlled information. Now any dick-head with a key-board can find out, and spread information. There may be examples made, but you cannot prosecute every twitter user and blogger. To attempt to do so makes the law ridiculous. Sorry. EVEN MORE ridiculous. In this environment, seeking such an injunction merely renders the person seeking the injunction MORE famous than if you'd just said, "

Yes. The Gigg's Up. I shagged her."
Footballers, even Welsh ones with a yoga video to sell, shagging d-list tarts is not exactly a 'man-bites-dog' story and would be soon forgotten, but for the super injunction. The footballer, who scored a goal against in the second leg of Manchester United's Champions league semi-final, would have been better advised to accept the media nonsense for a few days than expose himself to the cost and ridicule of legal action. Furthermore, the Footballer in question may be flying Ryan Air in future, as the cost of legal action, suing twitter and obtaining a super injunction may mean, that despite a long career of 875 appearances for Manchester United, he may end up bankrupt. Bankrupt and famous mainly for shagging Imogen Thomas, not the magnificent first goal in the second leg against Shalke, which ended a long goal drought for the 37 year-old forward.

Newspapers, even Britain's notoriously prurient and intrusive press should have the right to publish the truth, even at the risk of invading the privacy of people paid £100,000 a week to kick a ball. Of course when a mere schoolmistress is "exposed" as a dominatrix, as a rather despicable second prize for the Sun in its campaign against Sir Max Mosley, the high cost of such legal action means people's lives may be destroyed utterly, to no-one's benefit. But they're not famous, so who cares about THEIR privacy? A level playing field would see the truth being a defence in publishing details.

The moral of the story as far as footballers is concerned. If you didn't shag a d-list slapper, prove it and sue the papers for libel if they print. If you did shag a d-list slapper, fess up, divorce or beg for forgiveness from your wife and accept that this will be tomorrow's chip-wrapper. The Internet has rendered super-injunctions moot. This isn't new: It was the Duke of Wellington who first said "publish & be damned".

Unless this is all a clever strategy to build a media presence at the end of a football career. In which case, well done. I am sure there will be plenty of Giggs for you.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Her Maj in Ireland

My 4 pennies worth on the Royal visit to Ireland. I make no apologies in briefly skimming the history between our two nations, because this visit is all about history. Am I happy that Britain and Ireland have a good working relationship? That our head of state can visit their head of state and be friendly? That after 89 years we can be civil - yup - absolutely. I think its great and with all the common ties we have that Heads of State can be civil is the least we can expect. As Sarah Carey recently pointed out, Britain has stuck up for Ireland in the recent EU/IMF talks, maybe with our joint dislike of being bossed around by somebody else, we can work together on other aspects of keeping our fiercely fought for independence.

But what I am rather uncomfortable with is apologising for history, especially Irish history. I will freely admit that I'm a bit of a hypocrite on this as I reckon an apology from the Japanese regarding their actions during the Second World War is well overdue. But the Queen laying wreaths of the Irish Republicans sticks in the craw a bit, especially since there seems to be a larger amount of Irish Alzheimer's than usual flying around at the moment.

I will also admit that Britain's rule in Ireland wasn't exactly our finest hour. We spent more on beautifying Hyde Park than we did on Famine Relief during the Potato Blight. The Home Rule movement under Parnell was a litany of missed opportunities, that Captain Boycott wasn't the only example of unfair and oppressive land settlements.

But we're not the only side at fault here. And I worry that the whitewashing of events to the total exclusion of one side will bring problems in the future. For every Cromwell there was a 1641 Plantation Massacre. For every Croke Park massacre there was a Cairo Gang Massacre, For every Bloody Sunday there was a Warrenpoint (in that particular case this not the fault of the Republic of Ireland of course) Etc Etc. Somebody on the blog quite rightly pointed out that we were invading them, but neglected to finish the sentence by bothering to explain why we would be doing this, nor that there was more than the odd Irishman in the invasion barges of the other side.

My point is that I'd just like a bit of quid pro quo on this. If matters had truly dropped then there would be a great deal more intellectual honesty from both sides, and then there would be a bit less "about time" from certain Irish commentators and a bit more "wow, that truly took a bit of guts because we're not exactly whiter than white on this". I won't hold my breath on this as the Independence Myth is a pretty difficult thing to counter - the Americans for example still bang on about "Taxation without representation" and completely ignore the real reasons for their motivation in declaring Independence - The Treaty of Fort Stanwix, The 1763 Royal Proclamation and the "Line of Property".

But after almost a century I hope we will see a more equal evaluation of our joint history, and whilst not wiping out and ignoring where we both came from, perhaps concentrating a little more on what we achieved together - the huge numbers of Irishmen that fought bravely fighting dictatorship in Europe against both Hitler and Napoleon would be a good starting point. At the very least a "Well the Queen of England has admitted that Britain shouldn't have shot the ringleaders of the Dublin Uprising in 1916, maybe we shouldn't have taken those guns, arms or Political support from the Russians/Libyans/Hitler/the Kaiser/Napoleon/King Philipp of Spain when the Brits were fighting for their nations survival.

Once that happens I believe we can both move on a lot more sucessfully than we've managed to do so far.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

If we absolutely must must have PR...

The Liberal Democrats stand for 2 things: Anything to anyone and PR. And as a price of Getting rid of that cunt Brown and his fucking useless cronies, we are to have the stupid, filthy foreign electoral system foisted on the UK for the Election of (eurgh) a "Senate" to replace the rather wonderful House of Lords under some ghastly form of PR.

STV is a form of PR, using multi-member constituencies and I understand this is the form of disgusting perversion over which most Lib-Dem and Electoral Reform Society obsessives frot themselves to orgasm whilst fantasising about the size of Britains "progressive majority".

If you are going to introduce filthy, perverted foreign voting systems, this needs to rub WITH rather than against peoples' history and identity. There are already divisions barely represented in Westminster. The Counties (these ones, not these). Northamptonshire, to choose one at random sends 7MPs to Westminster. Yorkshire, at the other extreme contains 60 constituencies (if I've counted correctly) and London, 73 though this should fall into Middlesex, Essex, Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire. After all, cities are getting mayors. There is no doubt that cities and Counties have strong identities. So let there be a range of sizes of multi-member constituencies with the number of MPs being sent reflecting the population of the given area.

When you ask people where they come from, you either get a Town, or especially oop North, a county. Let people's votes reflect that. To the tidy minds of the electoral-reform wankers however, this will be far too organic, and "unfair" to (both remaining) liberal democrat voters in small counties who will not get an MP of "their" party. If in an election, all must have prizes, it can't be much of a choice?

To be honest, I quite like an all-appointed & hereditary second chamber. It's served us well - certainly better than the commons, at least until the fucking Labour party half smashed it and stuffed it full of dishonest spivs. However if change we must have, at least let me vote in something I recognise, rather than call it "east of England" to fit treasonously with Euro-regions or some grey, drab beige-wearing, caravan-towing bureaucrat's idea of "fairness".

The purpose of democracy is to give voters an opportunity to chuck the rotters out. PR fails in this regard, however accurately it counts the various tribes. But it won't ever stop. The losers will keep demanding to change the system until they can find one under which they can win. Constitutional reform's for losers and no-one's interested. Don't let your apathy let the losers foist a system which reflects NOTHING about your identity.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Do you like Adverts? If not, don't buy Facebook.

Microsoft paid $8bn for skype, a business which competes directly with MSN messenger and generates substantially no revenue per user (though may do so in time if the computer replaces the 'phone). And it probably helps Microsoft get into the smart-phone market where they are currently getting their arses kicked by Google's Android and RIM's blackberry and that other one, "fruit" or something... you know, the phone your coke-dealer's girlfriend has. Microsoft paid with money they sort-of had lying around and couldn't do anything with for tax-reasons, and by removing a competitor, the deal makes sense -but only to Microsoft in a perverted "not-directly financial return" way.

LinkedIn's doing an IPO now and is prospectively valued at $3.3bn or something like $33,000 per user, but at least they're selling something people might actually want to buy - jobs, networking and sales. Though I'm on LinkedIn, I have not really worked out what it is FOR. So perhaps it's not worth that much. As there is a paid subscription service, I can see revenues, but If and only If it really becomes a peer-to-peer business resource, it may be worth money. But perhaps not that much.

Facebook - average (mostly advert-generated) revenue per user $2.57, with the company being valued at $50 billion or $200 per user, the assumption is that 1) that the number of facebook users will expand to around 7 times the world's population, 2) everyone will start paying to use facebook or 3) Companies' adverts will be targeted and therefore valuable (this contains the sub-assumption that users won't find this annoying or creepy and won't find ways around it or leave). Of course I prefer 4) This is a fucking bubble and if facebook ever comes to market at anything like Goldman Sachs' investment price it's only worthwhile as a stag, but If anyone offers me shares in facebook, I will tell them to bugger off.

With valuations an order of magnitude or two out, this is the most obvious bubble since the last one. The founders of these businesses get mightily rich at the investors' expense. Users continue to get their service for free in return for being subjected to adverts. Until, of course those adverts become too intrusive and users, the high-value ones first, leave to another "exclusive" network. Anyone ever go to MySpace any more - their best users left for facebook, which initially was a graduate thing. Then the grockles started throwing sheep, and polluting one's wall with illiterate gibberish. How long before the educated abandon facebook for something new and exclusive?

History may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. Goldman Sachs may well find a bigger fool to shift their facebook stock onto before it's shares collapse to its real value of a few tens of millions, but it won't be me. The money in the web is in the businesses selling the picks and shovels - data storage/archiving/and search, back office e-commerce software and cloud server space to those business taking part in the social networking gold rush. These businesses have profits & dividends and so can be valued. It's boring. Like all good investments.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Brendan Barber, Ignorant, Stupid or Lying?

Over at Liberal Conspiracy the General Secretary of the TUC, Brendan Barber has penned an article which asks British Firms to pay higher wages in order to grow the economy. This is typical of a socialist, in that it puts the cart before the horse. Employers will only pay what someone is worth. If someone is paid more than they make the firm in productive work, the company will lose money. If this is true accross a firm (for example if the state demanded that people are paid more) then the firm will either fire people, or go bust. In order to increase wages, you must increase the value of work someone can do.

Barber starts by explaining how the fiscal multiplier works -all that guff about state spending circulating through the economy and increasing overall demand. However despite spending four paragraphs laying out a fairy story, by ignoring the negative effects of Government spending -those taxes needed to pay for it (eventually) shrink demand - he can be dissmissed by the observation of the National Bureau of Economic Research who concluded that...

(i) the output effect of an increase in government consumption is larger in industrial than in developing countries, (ii) the fiscal multiplier is relatively large in economies operating under predetermined exchange rate but zero in economies operating under flexible exchange rates; (iii) fiscal multipliers in open economies are lower than in closed economies and (iv) fiscal multipliers in high-debt countries are also zero.
In the UK, a high debt, open developed economy with a floating exchange rate, the fiscal multiplier is probably less than 1. Deficit financed state spending probably depresses aggregate demand. This is not controversial economics - except amongst the British left. Does Brendan Barber know this? If so he's lying to us, and if not, he's ignorant. Which is it? The suspicion is that high state spending leads to more state jobs. As most of these are unionised, it's clear why he ignores any evidence to suggest that state spending is too high and should be cut. He's not interested in the economy, but in the economics of the TUC, which is thnakfully still haemoraging members.

The rest of the article is left-wing boilerplate about how Britain's banking industry should be taxed to Zurich, and Business should pay more tax.
He says Over the past three decades, the share of GDP going to workers’ wages has fallen from 65% to 53%, with those in the middle and at the bottom hit hardest.
He neglects to mention that for those at the bottom, wages are irrelevant. Over the last 14 years, half of that time frame, we've enjoyed a minimum wage - and as I've argued before, those at the bottom of the heap have indeed been hit hardest. There's no jobs at all for them thanks to Government demanding business pay more than people were worth. For young men without an education (another failure of British society which 13 years of Labour did NOTHING about) the only option is welfare for life.

The share of GDP going to tax has gone UP over the last 30 years - is that not a bigger reason than corporate profits for the fall in the share going to wages? Does it necessarily follow that the share of GDP going to wages falling is a bad thing? Even the lowliest pension investor, which is eventually most of us is a capitalist benefitting from that share going to profits. Am I suggesting Brendan Barber picks his statistics to get the answer he wants - more state spending? Never!

Next, he rails against debt. Household debt, naturally. Not the lovely state stuff, which is ambrosia and nectar for the economy.
In Britain, household debt more than trebled between 1980 and 2005. As incomes are squeezed further, household debt in this country is predicted to reach over £2 trillion by 2015 – an albatross around the neck of our economic future. Unless workers see their pay packets growing, we won’t be able to build sustainable consumer demand
The main reason debt has gone up is that the cost of money, the interest rate has gone down, and the UK has a sophisticated, developed banking system which allows people to get credit. It's nothing to do with low wages - the very poor are excluded from the credit industry. If anything, this is another argument for people to pay less tax.

Demanding business pay more - making labour more expensive - means companies will hire less of it, and it is the least productive, the least able who will bear the brunt. You want youth unemployment? Then raise the Minimum wage to £8 or whatever you think is required. Whilst it is true that compaines increasing wages WILL in time boost aggregate demand, this can only happen in the context of full employment. Government demanding higher wages will depress the level of employment and have no net increase in demamd (if lucky. It's actually more likely to depress demand).

Only productivity growth will lead to higher wages, and that requires investment, which requires returns on capital. The best way to ensure return on capital is to tax less. Growth requires a tax cut (but only in the context of a balanced budget - there is no fiscal multiplier in the UK, remember?). That requires that spending be cut further faster and deeper than the coalition are planning. Which brings me to the first paragraph in Mr. Barber's post.
I was at the O2 in Greenwich yesterday, speaking to the Insitute of Directors (IoD) annual convention. I always admire the way the IoD doesn’t pussy-foot around. They’re very clear that they don’t just back the spending cuts, but want more of them – and want them more quickly.
The IoD are right, and he is wrong.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Lonely Planet on UK tourism

I see the Lonely Planet has had its annual 4 pennies' worth on the state of the UK tourism industry. Its owned now by the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, who for some reason decided a state broadcaster should get into the guidebook market with taxpayer's money. Anyhooo… It says Stonehenge is great, whereas I reckon it’s a small crappy pile of rocks that needs moving somewhere more suitable - as its blocking the expansion of the A303. Druids and assorted hippies have plenty of time on their hands – how many hours a day do you need to be manning your shop selling Placebos like bird seed and Goji berries to cater to the “Alternative” health market. As a result Stonehenge doesn’t need to be anywhere near a main road – move it.

The guide says Scotland is great – especially for food and doesn’t deserve its “Deep Fried Mars Bar” reputation any more. And yet the life expectancy for the average Jock hovers stubbornly around the Sudan level. They also fail to give credit where credit is due regarding Stoke as “a sprawl of industrial townships tied together by flyovers and bypasses” whilst failing to point out that it is those Flyovers and bypasses that enable you to drive through this undoubted shithole very quickly. They say Manchester is “truly Special” – they need to proof read their book as they missed off the word “Bus” in the sentence. Manchester is a toxic hovel. Yet at the same described Surrey as dull – I assume in a “unlike Manchester you’ll keep your hire car’s hub caps” kind of dull.

But bitching about Britain being expensive is getting a bit tired. Is Caviar from endangered Sturgeon expensive, a hand made Riva speed boat, flat beads on a trip to Australia? Its not expensive – its exclusive. This is why I buy Rough Guides; as they don’t write for unwashed students trying to eke out their last 85p in the Hair-Beading district of Bangkok. They direct me to Cultural sites, 5 star hotels and liveried barmen who can make a cocktail that doesn’t have the word “Sex” in the title.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lib Dems, Lords Reform and AV

It seems the Wooly In-betweens now want rewards and prizes despite loosing the AV vote by twelve sore bottoms to none. After a gargantuan hissy fit they are talking about wanting Lords reform and binning the NHS reforms. How very Liberal Democrat Sports day. “Don’t worry little Portia, your partner may have used your nose as a Mouldboard plough, and as a result you came dead last in the wheelbarrow race. But remember, there are no losers in a Lib Dem Land. You are all winners here, so you all get prizes. You’ve all won some Organic Peace Crisps and this Amnesty International Coffee mug.

I have to have some sympathy for Nick Clegg. He went into coalition government with the Conservatives to prove that his party could be grown ups. Yet behind him - and continuing the school analogy - Chris Huhne and Vince Cable are flicking bogies at each other and saying that each others' mums smell of poo.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Scottish Independence

Dear Scotland.

Want some more tasteful and sophisticated monuments? Something that really fits with how you want the rest of the world to see Scotland – Vote Alex and FREEEEDOM.

No Vote

Guess 67.9% of people didn’t want an Islington Thousand Year Reich then?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Burying Bin Laden

People are firstly complaining that he was shot whilst unarmed. Quite frankly I couldn’t care less whether he was caught with his pants round his ankles pleasuring himself with a Royal Agricultural Show Prize winning leek. The guy has killed thousands of people, practically all of them unarmed. What goes around comes around. It is perfectly legal to shoot unarmed people if they are controlling the actions of armed people. People with a cell phone in their hand controlling artillery or IED’s can be shot depending on the rules of engagement. So Osama counts on that score.

Secondly we understand the “Muslim world” is angry at the treatment of the body. The simple fact is that the Muslim world gets angry reading the contents of a Ketchup bottle, so we shouldn’t be too worried about this latest slight. Maybe they would have less stressful lives and fewer ulcers if they got a bit less angry about everything. Besides they would have been a great deal more angry with what I planned for the body. Parts of him in Smithsonian Museum -Head pickled in Alcohol with kids paying a buck a pop to have a look, the rest of him fed into the Boilers of the USS Cole.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Another Piece of Labour's Subtle Electoral Corruption

Sometimes the British state amazes me. Sometimes soldiers, both TA and regular get sent somewhere at short notice. The same is true of businessmen, salesmen, and a large number of individuals in the private sector. I imagine fewer people in the public sector have to travel at short notice such that they would not be able to vote.

Such short-notice travel is NOT grounds for an emergency proxy vote. The ONLY grounds for the granting of a proxy vote after the cut-off date, two weeks before the poll, is a medical emergency. This is the LAW, and boy, do public "servants" in town halls seem to enjoy telling soldiers that the democracy they are called to fight to defend is not, at this time, open to them. Unless of course they get shot, when it might be.

Not satisfied with the answer from the "head of democratic services" at my council, whom I suspected of being an officious oik, because he not only didn't see that this was something to apologise for, but who also refused to give me his name when challenged about his frankly stinking attitude, (his name can be found on the Internet: It is clear that David Miley's a right dick. I rang the electoral commission (02072710600) who were much more helpful.

It is true that a soldier or businessman called away at short notice cannot get an emergency proxy vote. It has been the Electoral Commission's advice that people in this position SHOULD be granted an emergency proxy vote, however Parliament has not seen fit to make the change to the law. There can only be one reason for this: who's been in charge of Parliament for a long time? Labour (the Coalition has had but a year to change the tsunami of horrid Labour legislation). In office, Labour saw fit to grant any turd a postal vote, whether or not they even existed. This allowed them to farm votes in ethnic "communities" where the Pater Familias could be relied upon to tick the "right" (i.e. Labour) box for all the people (and a few "people") in each family.

People who go on the sick are more likely to vote Labour than those called away to fight (or sell weapons to) the Queen's enemies at short notice. Ergo sickies could get a vote at short notice, but soldiers and businessmen couldn't.

Everything Labour does, it sees party advantage before that of the country or even basic, decent fairness. This is why I hate them so very, very much. If you are, or have ever been a member of that despicable organisation, you have my contempt.

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