No hope – just belief

The central tenet of the Conservative campaign seems to be a beauty contest of personalities with Jeremy Corbyn as chief ogre.

The only Tory plan is austerity, which is largely uncosted. Otherwise there is hardly any plan – and certainly none for Brexit.

Unfortunately the beauty contest has been interrupted by bombings and murders.

Yet, still Police cuts are to stand. Terrorism will be solved with (costless) new legislation. There will be no additional investment in the health service or education. And, although there are less of them than before, 15% more of us are dying in fires – yet the fire service will be cut.

Any personal care at home that was free will now have to be paid for and houses will be commandeered by insurance companies for dementia patients.

And meanwhile, under Conservative economic management and unlike almost everywhere else, we have had an average wage reduction:

 

What an alluring litany of love and hope.

Who on earth wants any of this?

A Conservative vote can only be a vote for self-flagellation.

If by some mischance the Conservatives win, it must surely be proof of rampant Stockholm Syndrome among the electorate, brought about, presumably, by an uncritical and right wing media.

No sane individual could possibly consider the Conservative plans worthy of their support, could they?

But of course it is scandalous that Jeremy Corbyn speaks to crowds and doesn’t always wear a tie.

BoM June 2017

Our June Book of the month is Debunking Economics by Steve Keen. Debunking Economics exposes what many non-economists may have suspected and a minority of economists have long known: that economic theory is not only unpalatable, but also plain wrong. When the original Debunking was published back in 2001, the market economy seemed invincible, and conventional ‘neoclassical’ economic theory basked in the limelight. Steve Keen argued that economists deserved none of the credit for the economy’s performance, and that ‘the false confidence it has engendered in the stability of the market economy has encouraged policy-makers to dismantle some of the institutions which initially evolved to try to keep its instability within limits’. That instability exploded with the devastating financial crisis of 2007, and now haunts the global economy with the prospect of another Depression. In this radically updated and greatly expanded new edition, Keen builds on his scathing critique of conventional economic theory whilst explaining what mainstream economists cannot: why the crisis occurred, why it is proving to be intractable, and what needs to be done to end it. Essential for anyone who has ever doubted the advice or reasoning of economists, Debunking Economics provides a signpost to a better future.

Theresa May – Champion of Worker’s Rights?

Theresa May has promised “the greatest expansion in workers’ rights by any Conservative government in history” if she wins on 8th June.  She claims: “There is only one leader at this election who will put rights and opportunities for ordinary working families first.”

However, a recent report by the Ministry of Justice shows a stark contradiction between those words and the actions of her government.

Continue reading “Theresa May – Champion of Worker’s Rights?”

Lower tax equals a worse life

Let’s be clear, lower tax means lower prosperity, worse public services, worse health and worse education.

The evidence is in the data. The graph below (updated 2017-06-08 following suggestions in the comments) shows outcome measured using the UN’s inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI) as a function of input measured using tax as a percentage of national income (GDP) using data collated by the Heritage Foundation. IHDI is a number that measures income, life expectancy and years in education.* The higher the score the better. Top of the IHDI league table (see here) is Norway (which despite its oil wealth also has high taxes), bottom is the Central Africa Republic. The UK (in colour) is currently 13th, better than the US, but not as good as Germany, Australia or any of the Scandinavian countries. Included are all countries where data is available which includes more than 95% of global population.

The line assumes a diminishing return with increasing tax. However the exact form of this line is a bit arbitrary as we do not know what kind of correlation to expect. We could argue that countries above the line are getting relatively good value for money whereas those below the line could do better although there is a large country-by-country variation that depends on individual circumstances, such as Norway has oil as well as high taxes.

A simple linear fit gives a Pearson correlation coefficient r = 0.77. This tells us that prosperity outcome is roughly proportional to government input – the size of the governments spend and tax circuit. The more you spend and tax, the better the quality of life, the better your life expectancy and the better your education.

The conclusion is clear. A vote for a tax party of low tax is a vote for a worse life, worse health and worse education. On Thursday, why not vote for prosperity instead?

* IHDI also includes a correction for inequality but in most cases there is not much difference between the HDI and IHDI.

Jargon Buster – a Start!

Following ideas on Progresive Pulse here and later ideas on the Tax Justice blog I’ve been grateful to Nick Koronka for creating the outlines and I’m trying to start with a new word. And also something that might be a shade controversial to get the Jargon Buster directory going.

Please do comment below and please do suggest other definitions – the most mundane ideas may, I suspect, prove the most difficult to nail…

The actual Jargon Buster page is here  (currently available only to editors and contributors until we get a core of knowledge! when it will be properly public.)

Do please add your comments and suggestions below  – regardless. They can be honed and discussed.

This is my first suggestion, which is, I think, a new word. So it suggests why, if we value our proper lives, we should view the commercial world wide web with an element of circumspection..

Technofeudalism: you’re working for the enhanced concentration of the control of knowledge and software.

In short, it is probably what you’re helping to create – if you are not giving Amazon and Google a wide berth. (Incidentally I like Duckduckgo because it doesn’t track you!)

Partisanship and the End of Politics (the coming of the neo-feudal state)

Since the US electorate (or more accurately, electoral college) put a reality TV personality and real estate mogul into the White House late last year I’ve become a committed viewer of a number of US news and current affairs programmes. Several of these – such and The Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (both on MSNBC) – have seen a significant increase in their viewing figures since Donald Trump became President. In the case of the former this has much to do with Maddow’s dogged and impressive reporting into possible relations between the Trump campaign and Russia, and in the latter case because of O’Donnell’s forensic and frequently scathing criticisms of Trump and his White House team. O’Donnell speaks from experience, having been Senior Advisor to Senator Patrick Moynihan and Chief of Staff for several Senate committees in the 1990s. He was also a writer for The West Wing. And with daily revelations of Trump/Russia links continuing unabated, Maddow, O’Donnell, and many more in the news and current affairs community in the US – that Trump insists are ‘the fake news’ – certainly have plenty to keep them busy for many months to come.

Continue reading “Partisanship and the End of Politics (the coming of the neo-feudal state)”

The Co-operative Bank is not Co-operative at all, but real Co-operative Banking is now possible in the UK

It is a fact not universally acknowledged that the Co-op Bank never has been itself a Co-op. It was a bank originally owned by the CRS as a way of providing economical banking for their own retail operations.
This was a surprise discovery made after attending a recent lecture by Tony Greenham who looks after ‘new’ banking for the RSA.

Continue reading “The Co-operative Bank is not Co-operative at all, but real Co-operative Banking is now possible in the UK”