Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THE Daily Mail tells us that the gays are taking more drugs than the rest of us:
Gay people are seven times more likely to take illegal drugs than the general population, a new study conducted over two years has found. And one in five show signs of dependency on drugs or alcohol. The report, conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) and the University of Central Lancashire, sampled more than 4,000 people over two years.
SO, yesterday I pointed out that no scientists worth their salt were prepared to back the research paper that claimed that GM corn produces cancer in lab rats.
Given that the “research” was very shoddily done by a known crank on the subject, one who had already been told off for his “research methods” this isn’t all that much of a surprise.
GM foods give you breast cancer. That’s the takeaway message from a new scientific paper just released. That GM corn from Monsanto and the Roundup herbicide that it is meant to be resistant to will kill us all in our beds by giving us breast and liver cancers. Oh, and rot our pituitary glands. Expect to see this paper accepted as gospel truth by every environmentalist on the planet for the next few years.
WHY is George Osborne screwing with your benefits? Because he can, basically. But the how is more interesting:
If the move is implemented, many benefits would be frozen for two years, then rising only in line with average pay.
Leave aside the freeze for a moment. Concentrate on the average pay instead. The “only” part.
SHOULD female doctors get paid less than male ones? No, this isn;’t some tired variation on the standard patriarchal nonsense. It’s actually quite an important question. You see, many female doctors, many more than male, go part time for some portion of their career. This has possible implications for how they should be paid. Dr Andrew Goddard, the Royal College of Physicians’ director of medical workforce, said:
“We know that 38 per cent of female consultants work part-time compared to 5 per cent of male consultant physicians.
The numbers for GPS are even higher.
WE hear often enough that the oil sands extraction plants in Canada are destroying vast areas of the countryside. The usual shout is that they’re destroying an area the size of Wales (something which usually has us English wondering whether they wouldn’t like to come and deal with the real thing).
You may or may not be surprised to find out that there’s ever so little, just a tad, a touch, of hysteria about this. A spot of exaggeration you might say even. Here’s a little report of a trip up there to see the oil sands projects. Note picture 8: that’s the one after all the devastation that’s done by the mining.
TO Valencia, where students at Trabajo Ya!can, for a fee of €100, undergo a one-week “basic course in professional prostitution with maximum discretion”. Men and women lean how to use sex toys properly, what positions are best and the Karma Sutra.
Not everyone likes it. In May, the Valencian regional government’s Department of Justice and Social Welfare got all legal, claiming that school broke the lay by encouraging prostitution.
The matter reached court. The government lost.
So we’ve finally actually punished a banker for the mess that they created. Peter Cummings from HBOS:
Peter Cummings, the HBOS banker whose division lent billions of pounds to property developers, has been given a lifetime ban by the Financial Services Authority for his role in the banking crisis.
Cummings, who has also been fined £500,000, is the only former HBOS banker to be penalised by the City regulator as a result of the near-collapse of the bank which was rescued by Lloyds in September 2008 – and the highest profile banker to be punished since the financial crisis.
THIS might come as something of a surprise but reducing the power of unions can indeed raise the workers’ wages. This isn’t the point that Hopi Sen was intending to make here at all but it is indeed a useful interpretation of the facts.
This seems to suggest that over the last decade and a half, non-union members have seen a greater proportional increase in their income which has eroded the wage premium enjoyed by union members in both the public and private sectors.
The explanation of this is that there are two possible models about what unions do for wages.
It’s the weight of money argument: more money being played with then obviously prices must go up.
Of course, every economist who has actually looked at the question has insisted they’re spouting garbage. More speculation can mean higher, lower or the same prices: depends which way people are betting, not how much is being bet.
YES, it’s the TUC meeting again so obviously we’re going to have a report out or two that spout bollocks about what’s been happening to the economy. This year’s entry is a doozy though: the most charitable interpretation of it is that the TUC employs economists who really, really do not understand economics.
And no, I don’t mean all this neoliberal stuff about no regulation, or letting banking rip. Nor all tyhis social democracy stuff about redistribution and the value of free childcare. No, I mean as in not even understanding the basic numbers.
HOW unfair is it being a freelancer? Very. Especially if you have to deal with a crap editor. You want a column? You’ll be lucky get a fiver. Now hand your work into the intern on the door and stay in touch…
DAMN, I do get pissed off with people trying to lie to us so that they can change the law. We’re supposed to be the people who decide how we’re ruled so they really do have to tell us the truth so we can decide.
The latest piece of bollocks is this:
Introducing a minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit will prevent 50,000 pensioners dying of related health problems over the next decade, according to research commissioned by BBC Panorama.
So, 50,000 over a decade is 5,000 oldies a year not popping their clogs because someone’s raised the booze price and they can’t afford to get pissed any more.
DEMOCRATS who wants to ban profits:
I FIND it to be actually physically painful when I see some ghastly lefty nonsense being picked up as the obvious truth across the political divide. We expect the comies to say that we should wipe out the bourgeoisie but it would be odd to see the Mail or Telegraph agreeing with them. I feel the same pain when obvious nonsense moves the other way, don’t worry. Seeing the vile racism of the right being reflected in the supposedly internationalist left’s sometimes attitudes to immigration for example.
Today’s example is this from the Torygraph:
Finally, there is the pernicious effect of speculation. About 80 per cent of the global food trade is now speculative, and firms such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank have spent billions gambling on the price of food, artificially driving up prices.
BRIBES are no longer tax deductible. This is a bit of a change:
“Expenses incurred while committing legal violations, including providing bribes or kickbacks, are not recognized for the purposes of tax assessment,” the Ministry said in a statement posted on its website. Any official paying bribes will therefore have to pay the standard 20pc income tax, according to Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper. The clarification is relevant for for Russian arms exporters and commodity companies that have assets in the Third World, the paper cited tax officials as saying.
This may or may not be true but what pisses me off is the numbers used to justify this. Larry Elliott in The Guardian this morning for example:
Meat consumption is rising in China, India and Brazil, and since it takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef (and 4kg to produce 1kg of pork), this is adding to global demand.
WE’VE only just had the news that Apple has won big by suing Samsung over certain patents on mobile phones. What seems to have been missed is that there’s another case coming through the system. Yes, Apple v Samsung again. But over a different set of patents:
Last week’s resounding victory over Samsung in a patent trial in California mostly centered on hardware developed by the South Korean electronics maker, while including some features related to Google’s Android mobile software.
Another Apple suit, which the company filed in February, contends that all eight of the patents it is asserting are being infringed by features related to Android. They include features found in Android versions of popular Google apps like YouTube, Google Maps and Gmail as well as Google’s Quick Search Box that lets users search multiple types of data at the same time.
WHO knew that they had it in them? The Lib Dems that is, being capable of offering up a good idea?
Replace inheritance tax with an “accessions tax” on beneficiaries of estates. A section on wealth taxes in a party consultation paper talks of “an accessions tax, where the tax liability would fall on the person receiving the income rather than the estate of the deceased. This would simplify the settling of the estate, making inheritance income more like employment and investment income.”
IF we’re going to try and decide how badly the economy is doing there are a number of ways we can try it. We could, for example, listen to out political Lords and Masters and get lied to. Not all that well, to be sure, but we know they’re lying because their lips are moving.
We could try and read all of the different numbers from all of the different sources and try to work it out that way. That would work, but is difficult.
HOW surprising to see in The Guardian the usual moan about how flogging off the NHS is a very bad idea indeed. Which it might actually be but the really interesting question is how would we find out?
As for public accountability, there is none. Commercial contracts are redacted so that crucial financial information is not in the public domain. Government departments and companies refuse to release the necessary information on the grounds of commercial confidentiality and allow companies to sequester their profits in offshore tax havens. NHS staff transferred from the public to the private sector see their wages and benefits eroded. But all this is nothing compared with what is in store for patients.
In the new world it will no longer be possible to measure coverage or fairness. Former NHS hospitals, free to generate half their income from private patients, will dedicate their staff and facilities to that end, making it impossible to monitor what is public and what people are paying for.
LEGAL news: Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger are suing Continental Airlines. The couple claim they were humiliated when the dildo they’d packed into their luggage was removed by persons unknown, covered in a greasy substance and taped to the outside of their bag.
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Read the rest of this entry »
THERE’S a point that the subject of economics really tries very hard to get across. There’s no such thing as a solution: there are only tradeoffs. These tradeoffs come in a series or more or less acceptable ones, true, but tradeoffs there always are.
Stepping entirely outside economics for a moment here’s an interesting example:
The production of France’s Roquefort cheese is being threatened by the return of the wolf to the country’s southern mountains.
BOTH Apple and Samsung Guilty! Probably the best result possible in the ongoing patent wars between the two companies. They’re both very naughty little boys. Unfortunately this is the verdict in the South Korean case, not in the girt big one in California.
A South Korean court has fined both Apple and Samsung, ruling that each infringed the other’s patents in building their mobile devices and banning some of their products from sale in the country.
The Seoul central district court ordered Apple to remove the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2 from shelves in South Korea, citing they infringed two of Samsung’s telecommunications patents. The court also ruled that Samsung infringed one of Apple’s patents related to the screen’s bouncing back ability and banned sales of the Galaxy S2 and other products in South Korea.
Sales of devices recently released by Samsung and Apple including the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy S3 smartphones were not affected.
The basic problem is that so many damn patents are being issued on so many damn stupid things (Apple appears to have one on a rectangular shape with rounded corners for God’s Sake!) that it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to do anything in the high tech space without falling afoul of one patent or another.
The best hope of cutting through this mess is that more of the cases are decided as this court has. You’re all fucking up so you’ll all have to sit down and sort it out properly. Given that the politicians have no real clue about what is happening here it will have to be either that or the courts themselves imposing some sort of solution.
What is really annoying though is that government is for sorting out these sorts of things. And, as above, they’re clueless and can’t/won’t do anything. So we in hell do we have to pay for all this government which isn’t sorting out the problems which government is there to sort out?