DAVID Thompson nails them:
For some, professions of egalitarianism and socialist belly fire are a kind of rhetorical chaff – a way to elevate oneself as More Compassionate Than Thou, while deflecting envy from below. (“Please don’t hate me for being richer than you. Look, over there – they have even more, or almost as much – let’s all hiss at them!”) Vicarious philanthropy – giving away freely other people’s earnings – is a remarkably effective ruse, so much so it seems to encourage a certain disregard for dissonance, as demonstrated, for example, by the Guardian’s editor Alan Rusbridger in this comical exchange with Piers Morgan. And by the Guardian’s imperious class warrior Polly Toynbee, whose rhetoric was contrasted with her actual lifestyle and was promptly reduced to indignant spluttering on national television. Similar obliviousness is also displayed by the millionaire actor Jeremy Irons, who denounces consumerism and asks, “How many clothes do people need?” All while owning no fewer than seven houses, one of which is a peach-coloured castle. No, you’re not allowed to laugh. Because his wife is also very Green and “deeply socialist.”
IT has to be the Mail reporting this, doesn’t it? But here it is, the shocking news that UK cereals contain more sugar than US cereals.
Breakfast cereals sold in Britain contain as much as 30 per cent more sugar than the same products in the United States.
In [the Midde Ages], when the question of where to keep money arose, people didn’t typically have the option of a local bank. Instead, the answer oftentimes involved keeping their valuables in a vessel made of pygg.
What was pygg, exactly? Pygg, a word with Old English origins, was a type of dense orange clay, popular in Western Europe for its use in the creation of a wide variety of containers, jars, and cups. The common name for these containers was “pygg jars.” As the pygg jars were fairly ubiquitous, they were used for storing a variety of items, including money.
Pigs and banking fits, doen’t it?
THEY’RE whining again. They’re very important people doncha know, these Members of Parliament. And as they’re very important people they should be paid lots more of our money:
Seven in 10 MPs said they were underpaid on £65,738 a year, according to a survey by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa). On average, MPs said they deserved salaries of £86,250 — a 32 per cent rise.
Environmental campaigners sparked a 9pc dive in the share price of Australian miner Whitehaven Coal after issuing a fake press release regarding a multi-million dollar funding facility.
NOT that you’d need to be all that intelligent to grasp this particular point.
You’ll have heard it said that the UK has the most expensive childcare in Europe. Heck, the World, Galaxy, Milky Way. This leading inevitably to the conclusion that more money must be ripped off people without children to be spent on caring for the snotbreeders of others.
WHAT does the Guardian think of unpaid internships?
‘Join the fight against unpaid internships’ – Unless students refuse to work for free, employers will continue to exploit them, argues campaigner Libby Page
DO you compost? Do you process your own excrement? Do you want to mark down your bowel movements on a calendar? Take a gander at the Ladies of Manure:
Fertile Earth Foundation is an environmental nonprofit based in Miami mostly known for our composting initiatives. We’ve been teaching people to rethink their waste for over 4 years. For those of you who don’t know what composting is, it’s basically turning organic waste into rich fertile soil. Organic waste is stuff like kitchen scraps, newspaper, yard trimmings, manure, even your very own poop! Anything that is not plastic, metal, or glass can be composted
During a Fertile Earth Workshop last year, one of our volunteers asked, “How did we get so far removed from our poop?” And it got us thinking… How many people think about their poop as often as we do? How often do you ponder your #2? It tells us a lot about our health and what we need to eat, if we are dehydrated and so on. Plus, did you know there are safe ways to turn even our waste into Humanure? Yes, that is composted human poop! Your poop could be turned into to super rich black gold! Ok, maybe we’re grossing you out. Let’s change the subject. How often do you think about sex? Or beautiful women? This project is a tasteful synergy of those 2 things: The Ladies of Manure 2013 Calendar.
ONE of the stories you might start hearing about soon enough is the American trillion dollar (yes, trillion, that’s one thousand billion) platinum coin. It;s actually possible that they might go ahead and mint one.
Bit difficult to get change for it but….yet still, here is your handy cut out and keep guide to what is going on.
Yes, the US government has a large debt. It is also running a large deficit: so that debt is getting bigger all the time. So far so damn like every other country at present. However, in the US they also have something called the “debt ceiling”. This is the maximum amount that congress has said that the Federal Government can borrow.
Now, they can raise this number whenever they want: as they have done multiple times in the past. But there’s always a certain amount of haggling when they do so. Various Senators who might vote against it are promised new defense plants for their states, that sort of thing.
I’VE never really understood what the wowsers have been trying to do with this minimum alcohol pricing lark. If you want booze to be more expensive then put the taxes up. At least that way you’ll get some tax revenue. Why you’d want minimum pricing instead I cannot understand: all that does is increase the manufacturers’ profits.
I’m also not really sure why the price has to go up. Boozing has been falling gently for a decade or so, binge drinking is declining. There doesn’t seem to be any emergency that needs a solution.
CHINA is coming.
Frank Dikötter notes:
From the copper mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the natural gas holdings of Turkmenistan, a giant octopus extends its tentacles, trading finished products for natural resources. In South America 90 per cent of exports to China are unprocessed or barely processed natural resources. The proportion is about the same for Africa. China not only extracts, it also constructs. In what the authors call ‘stadium diplomacy’, dozens of ‘friendship stadiums’ are presented as gifts to countries around the world. Critics characterise them as Trojan horses used to conquer local markets.
WILLOUGHBY Cooke explains why celebrity chefs stop working in kitchens:
[My] career has spanned eleven years, during which I’ve worked as a prep cook, fry cook, pantry cook, grill cook, pastry chef, and baker. The least I’ve made was $7.50 per hour; the most was $13.50. To be a line cook and eventually a chef you must submit to the hell that is the professional kitchen: long hours, low pay, no breaks, no respect. As you advance up the line, the work gets harder and the responsibility increases while the pay does not. An entry level line cook job starts at as low as $8 an hour and tops out at around $15. (In 2011, the national median wage for line cooks was $10.61, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
GUIDO’S claiming an exclusive, that Jean Michel Jarre is going to be the next Frenchman fleeing from the 75% tax rate.
I’m not entirely sure about that: not all of Guido’s exclusives have turned out to be entirely and wholly true over the years.
PAUL from Clerkenwell calls Julia Hartley-Brewer on LBC to talk about benefit cards:
HOW goes the Cultural Revolution is go-ahead China? The rise of the Princelings can be traced back to Mao Zedong’s ”eight immortals”. It’s the Great Grasp Forward:
Opportunities for the princelings surged in the 1990s after Deng kick-started another wave of economic changes. They jumped into booming industries including commodities and real estate as new factories and expanding cities transformed China’s landscape.
Two of Deng’s children — Deng Rong, 62, and her brother, Deng Zhifang — were among the first to enter real estate, even before new rules in 1998 commercialized the mainland’s mass housing market. Two years after Deng Rong accompanied her father on his famous 1992 tour of southern China to showcase the success of emerging export center Shenzhen, she was in Hong Kong to promote a new development she headed in Shenzhen.
Some apartments in the 32-story complex were priced at about $240,000 each, according to a front-page story in the South China Morning Post. Corporate records show that by the late 1990s half of the company was owned by two people with the same names as Deng Rong’s sister-in-law, Liu Xiaoyuan, and the granddaughter of Wang Zhen, Wang Jingjing.
Deng Rong and Deng Zhifang didn’t respond to questions sent by fax to their respective offices in Beijing. Liu couldn’t be reached for comment through one of the companies with which she’s associated. Wang Jingjing didn’t respond to questions couriered to her office in the Chinese capital and a reporter who visited on two occasions was told she wasn’t there.
THE Mail has a piece on investment scams. The usual list of people trying to sell you over-priced opportunities to lose money. Hard pressure sales tactics, you should invest now, don’t miss out on immediate profits. Yes, we’ve all heard these sorts of things before.
SADLY, governments have numerous ways of stealing our money. The most obvious one is simply to take it: and they do that often enough these days. Get found with more than $10,000 in cash on you in the US these days and the police will just take it. You then have to prove that it’s not drug money: yes, you have to prove that it isn’t.
JULIAN Assange is still housed in the Ecuador embassy, London. The BBC reports:
In November, Mr Assange told journalists that a move by credit card companies to block the processing of donations to Wikileaks had cost the organisation more than £30m and had resulted in a 40% pay cut for staff.
THERE’S going to be the most God Almighty economic boom in a few years time. Yes, yes, I know, you think I’ve really lost it now. What with climate change, resource exhaustion and the current dismal times I’m obviously entirely barking.
However, there’s a good historical precedent for this. The 1930s.
But, as ever, the devil is in the details. And here’s the corker of a detail:
This is a defeat for environmentalist activists and the powerful renewables lobby – but they have a valuable consolation prize few have noticed. Under the proposed regulatory regime, during the fracking process any tremors that measure 0.5 or higher on the Richter scale may trigger an automatic halt to operations under a “traffic light” scheme outlined by the Lib Dem energy minister Ed Davey.
THERE’S two different ways to look at this economic growth thing. One is in the short term: all that Keynesian stuff about unemployment, fiscal stimulus and so on. And that’s fine as far as it goes, looking at the short term.
THERE is a good reason why we’ve got a tax system that hoovers the cash out before you see it. No, it’s not because it’s convenient. It’s because we don’t really notice how much it is:
Cabral and Hoxby find that when property taxes are less salient, people tend to be less aware of the amount they pay and when people are less aware, property tax rates tend to be higher.
How do they get variation in salience? By looking at the percentage of people who pay their property taxes with tax escrow, that is, bundled with their mortgage payments. Check out their Figure 7 (page 55 in the ungated version) for a striking graph. The standard deviation of the difference between the property tax reported in surveys and actual tax paid was $2215 for people who used tax escrow and only $781 for people who did not.
THIS is just great I think. FT’s Alphaville has gone through the accounts for Starbucks after this stuff we’ve had about how the dodge taxes. It’s here.
And the final conclusion? Even if we cancel all of the tax dodges they still don’t owe tax in the UK. Because they’re not making a profit in the UK.
FLASHBACK: Depositors gather outside the closed doors of the American Union Bank in New York City, Aug. 5, 1931. It is one of the smaller city banks which experienced a depreciation of their assets and were closed by order of the state superintendent of banks. (AP Photo)
ONE of these little problems this universe presents is that sometimes we want two mutually incompatible things. As in our current attitude to the banks. Firstly, we want the bastards to pay for the damage they did. But we also want them to lend much more money so we can get out of this damn recession.
Unfortunately, we can’t actually do both: the more we tax them the less capital they have which they can underwrite lending with:
The Government’s levy on banks may be sucking £15bn of credit for small and medium-sized businesses out of the UK economy, tax experts warned.
If the £2.5bn the tax is expected to bring to the Treasury’s coffers annually was left on banks’ balance sheets, that could open the door to additional lending, according to Ernst & Young’s financial services tax team.