Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Monday, November 30, 2015

Would "QE for the people" help the economy?

George Osborne has reconsidered his proposal to slash tax credits; so far, so good, many will think. But does "austerity" harm the economy, and would its opposite help?

When those who have most get more, it seems they invest it, so that doesn't stimulate consumer demand (though it seems to inflate asset prices).

Conversely, if the poorer sort receive more, presumably they will spend it - but on what?

Almost everything extra they may buy will have been imported, so although there would be a boost to GDP and to some extent domestic middlemen would have a bit more profit, the trade balance would worsen. The total debt then increases and is recycled as loans to UK plc, or purchases of UK assets.

What can be done, in a money-shuffling way? Not much.

Tax? Business entities swell through M&A and have the resources to pay superaccountants to find ways to avoid paying UK tax. Individuals taxed too highly begin to value more personal time over potential extra earnings (unless they have massive City incomes).

Interest rates? Significant raises in interest rates would rapidly cripple the public finances and depress demand in an already stagnant economy.

Flogging the family silver? We are running out of things to sell (Birmingham has lost Rover, HP, Cadbury's and both major breweries, just to offer a touchstone of how things are developing).

Is there a way out of this trap?

Maybe the government could transfer its attention from money to real things - the making and selling of them. A review of trade agreements - fighting our corner - would be good.

Hmm.


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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wrong moves


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the crowds gathered in central London for a march against climate change that they had a message for the politicians gathering in Paris for talks next week - "Do what you are sent there to do."
Source

Decades ago I was playing a league chess match somewhere in Coventry, can’t recall exactly where, can’t even recall who I played for.

Anyhow, there came a point where my opponent took one of my pawns with his knight and at the same time threatened my rook. Chess is very psychological; players sit almost head to head and inevitably body language plays its part. My opponent took my pawn with a tiny flourish, clicked the chess clock and sat back with a look of muted but perfectly obvious satisfaction. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t actually a good move.

I ignored the threat on my rook, pushed a centre pawn onto the sixth rank and the game was effectively over. My opponent’s sense of shock was painfully obvious, even more obvious than his satisfaction had been about a minute earlier.

As in chess, so it is in life. There is no going back once a wrong move has been made. Inevitably there are consequences and although the complexities of real life always offer up new opportunities, they are never exactly the ones we had before the wrong move.

Was Jeremy Corbyn’s election a wrong move? Of course it was – the possibilities stemming from a capable Labour leader are gone. Now it is too late because he has to be ousted in some way and that problem is down to another wrong move – Ed Miliband’s changes to the Labour leadership election rules.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband is facing calls to apologise for the "disastrous" voting system being used to elect his successor.

Mr Miliband changed the system under which he was elected to "one member one vote" and allowed the public to take part for a £3 fee.

Source

There are only so many wrong moves any individual, institution or country can afford to make. The Labour party has made two in quick succession. The sense of shock is still painfully obvious but Labour has lost more than a game of chess and so have we.

It's less than three months since Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader but already newspapers address talk of a "plot" to stage a "coup" within the party.

The i and its sister publication, the Independent, report the calls of four backbenchers for Mr Corbyn to step down, with one saying the party is in a "terrible, terrible mess". Meanwhile, the Times says some senior figures have been consulting lawyers over a way to both unseat him and ensure he cannot be re-elected.

Source

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Teach everybody the Koran

Raedwald proposes regulating the content of the Koran and policing its followers; I differ and offer this approach instead, saying there:

I think the way forward is in influencing interpretation rather than Bowdlerising. The Bible has parts that should also make us squirm, e.g. Exodus 22:

"18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" - King James I had a merry time on that - and among the 613 Mitzvot commandments:

"611.Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17) (CCA76).
612.That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19) (CCN194).
613.To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19) (CCA77)."

Some say the Amalekites were indeed exterminated and so these injunctions are now redundant; others say the Armenians are Amalek-descended (see http://www.schechter.edu/AskTheRabbi.aspx?ID=530)

Fact is, most people are selective about their religious practices and if society in general is running smoothly they don't concern themselves with the bloody bits. Education and open (liberal in the best sense) discussion are needed - evil festers where the like-minded gather and develop their groupthink and ideological drift. That goes for our homegrown WBRI-classified soi-disant-patriotic Jew-and-Muslim-haters, too.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Coming up for air

Sometimes I browse the internet and I’m overwhelmed by the volume of material which is too good to miss but I don’t have the time because there is far too much of it. Yes much of it is dross, but the dross is easily avoided. The good material is radical too and that’s the point. Having it so easily available is like coming up for air after a lifetime spent underwater swimming through the murk and rubbish.

Much of it comes down to language, pointed, witty, accurate, iconoclastic language. Yet the problem with language is that we can’t have our own private version. Wittgenstein pointed this out although it is obvious enough. So we can’t possess language, can’t think in our own personal language, can’t use anything but the tools we have in common, the tools which evolved to channel our thinking to make it easy, automatic and thus efficient.

As we know, this why all totalitarian societies control language. Control language and you control thought. It might be expected that North Korean would be a ferment of covert dissatisfaction but it probably isn’t anywhere near as radical as one would suppose. Control permissible language and to a significant degree you control that covert language we call thought.

Yet things are obviously changing. To my mind, since the arrival of the internet the public domain has become far more varied, interesting, probing and amateur. Not amateur as in inferior to professional, but amateur as in unpaid, unscripted and uncontrolled by big business or big government.

Amateurs with relevant experience, abilities, nous and the ability to express themselves as if they too have come up for air and are enjoying every minute of it. Loose cannon in best, most productive, most interesting, most fascinating sense of the term.

We still see lots of professional radicalism, especially on the BBC, but the establishment radical seems to be on the wane. Amateur internet radicals are smarter, wittier and much more in tune with the causes of our many problems. They have stories to tell, know how to tell them and the establishment wilts in the face of their blunt and pithy honesty.

Look at the way Prince Charles flounders around trying to speak his mind on issues he does not understand. Too old, too hidebound, no exposure to the best of the internet – that’s my impression of him. So he sinks and sinks again, becoming a figure of fun, contempt, an icon of the old ways, a lost soul.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Quote of the day

"I have come to think, especially since my trip to Spain, that civil liberties must be protected at every stage... The trouble with an all powerful secret police in the hands of fanatics, or of anybody, is that once it gets started there's no stopping it until it has corrupted the whole body politic."

John Dos Passos


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Sunday, November 22, 2015

If...



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Thanks

We live like kings and queens.

The house is warming as we wake. The bed is soft and clean, free of lice and fleas. Touch a button and the finest musicians play in our chamber as a pink dawn brightens the cold eastern sky. We read news from around the world, gathered overnight and printed three days' ride away, while drinking tea from India and China (six months by sail). Rising, we wash in heated water, dress in freshly laundered clothes and breakfast on plentiful hot food that needs no spice to mask rottenness.

And all without a single servant to scold.


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Friday, November 20, 2015

As even the Labour Party turns its guns on Corbyn...

An extract from Wikiquote...

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A horrible hunger

The god of the aristocrats is not tradition, but fashion, which is the opposite of tradition. If you wanted to find an old-world Norwegian head-dress, would you look for it in the Scandinavian Smart Set?

No; the aristocrats never have customs; at the best they have habits, like the animals. Only the mob has customs. The real power of the English aristocrats has lain in exactly the opposite of tradition. The simple key to the power of our upper classes is this: that they have always kept carefully on the side of what is called Progress.

They have always been up to date, and this comes quite easy to an aristocracy. For the aristocracy are the supreme instances of that frame of mind of which we spoke just now. Novelty is to them a luxury verging on a necessity. They, above all, are so bored with the past and with the present, that they gape, with a horrible hunger, for the future.
G K Chesterton – What’s Wrong With the World (1910)

A curiously interesting quote. Chesterton may be stating the obvious but it isn’t something we usually account for. The rich and powerful have it all, so naturally enough they tend to be bored with the present and look to the future for their schemes, plans and entertainment.

In which case progress is substantially driven by the rich and powerful trying to keep boredom at bay. I’m not sure if I agree with the idea, but professional football, the art market and grand infrastructure projects may suggest Chesterton was at least partly right.

Is the EU a symptom of boredom among the rich and powerful?

It could be - we already know about the brats.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A change of soul

You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate.
Seneca - Epistulae morales ad Lucilium c. 65 AD

As we draw near the Paris climate circus, here are four quotes from the Working Group 1 contribution to IPCC AR5. They illustrate just a few of the uncertainties in climate physics - in case circus folk forget to mention it during the performance.

Uncertainty about the lack of warming
In summary, the observed recent warming hiatus, defined as the reduction in GMST trend during 1998–2012 as compared to the trend during 1951–2012, is attributable in roughly equal measure to a cooling contribution from internal variability and a reduced trend in external forcing (expert judgment, medium confidence). The forcing trend reduction is primarily due to a negative forcing trend from both volcanic eruptions and the downward phase of the solar cycle. However, there is low confidence in quantifying the role of forcing trend in causing the hiatus, because of uncertainty in the magnitude of the volcanic forcing trend and low confidence in the aerosol forcing trend. Almost all CMIP5 historical simulations do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus.
TS.4 Understanding the Climate System and Its Recent Changes

Uncertainty about clouds
Cloud formation processes span scales from the sub-micrometre scale of CCN, to cloud-system scales of up to thousands of kilometres. This range of scales is impossible to resolve with numerical simulations on computers, and this is not expected to change in the foreseeable future.
7.2.2 Cloud Process Modelling

Uncertainty about models
Although it is possible to write down the equations of fluid motion that determine the behaviour of the atmosphere and ocean, it is impossible to solve them without using numerical algorithms through computer model simulation, similarly to how aircraft engineering relies on numerical simulations of similar types of equations. Also, many small-scale physical, biological and chemical processes, such as cloud processes, cannot be described by those equations, either because we lack the computational ability to describe the system at a fine enough resolution to directly simulate these processes or because we still have a partial scientific understanding of the mechanisms driving these processes. Those need instead to be approximated by so-called parameterizations within the climate models, through which a mathematical relation between directly simulated and approximated quantities is established, often on the basis of observed behaviour.
FAQ 12.1 | Why Are So Many Models and Scenarios Used to Project Climate Change?

Uncertainty about uncertainty
In proposing that ‘the process of attribution requires the detection of a change in the observed variable or closely associated variables’ (Hegerl et al., 2010), the new guidance recognized that it may be possible, in some instances, to attribute a change in a particular variable to some external factor before that change could actually be detected in the variable itself, provided there is a strong body of knowledge that links  a change in that variable to some other variable in which a change can be detected and attributed. For example, it is impossible in principle to detect a trend in the frequency of 1-in-100-year events in a 100-year record, yet if the probability of occurrence of these events is physically related to large-scale temperature changes, and we detect and attribute a large-scale warming, then the new guidance allows attribution of a change in probability of occurrence before such a change can be detected in observations of these events alone. This was introduced to draw on the strength of attribution statements from, for example, time-averaged temperatures, to attribute changes in closely related variables.
10.2.1 The Context of Detection and Attribution

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Never seen a country more bent on its own destruction"



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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Moggyzilla's guide to Modi's visit


(Click to balloon the deficit)


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TPP, TISA, TTIP... - Thought for the day

The key, for the rich and powerful, is to systematise what they do, while encouraging their victims to personalise their response.





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Monday, November 09, 2015

Moggyzilla on losing personal privacy to "BOO!"


(Click to inflate the issue)

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Sunday, November 08, 2015

Moggyzilla on the UK's energy suicide


[click to see monster version]


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The triumph of trivia

A story I posted five years ago, about a kitten that followed a climbing party up the Matterhorn, has become a wakened "sleeper", topping the weekly and monthly views and now climbing - clawing - determinedly up the top ten all-time hits.

We are doomed.

I may change my byline from Sackerson to Lolcat.



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Saturday, November 07, 2015

We shall fight on the beaches...


Fraisthorpe Beach is a long sandy beach near Bridlington. Not particularly accessible but probably popular enough in summer. Not so popular on a foggy day in November but an excellent and almost deserted walking beach with miles of firm sand. The beach is littered with old tank traps, pillboxes and the remains of other concrete structures hurriedly erected during WWII. The picture above shows a line of concrete blocks disappearing into the mist.


Coastal erosion has undermined this pillbox and left it on the beach. Originally it probably stood on the low cliffs behind so erosion must be quite rapid here. The interior is littered with plastic bottles, a tribute to one of our greatest modern industries - sugared water.



These things are not an uncommon sight but Fraisthorpe Beach is very flat and vulnerable so it seems to have been quite heavily defended and consequently there is still much to see. 

Whether or not these preparations would have made much difference I don't know, but my non-military eye says not. Perhaps they were intended to promote preparedness and the reality of the threat rather than repel a determined heavy assault.

As far as I could see there was no information to tell younger people what the structures are, why they were built, what they represent . Defending a way of life is not longer politically correct, so maybe the official mind wanders off in other directions these days. 

  

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

Wildlife news: huntress bags crusty giant


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