Thursday, 27 January 2011

Alistair Campbell's Lies

Alistair Campbell is on Channel 4 right now citing Iraq children mortality increasing after the occupation as a great benefit of the invasion. I don't think I've ever seen anything as dishonest. The only reason the mortality rate was so high in the first place was due to the US/UK sanctions regime prior to the invasion.

Talk about doublespeak.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Ruining the NHS

"There is now consensus that if the NHS cannot afford new drugs, then top ups should be allowed"

According to a BBC Breakfast (TV) report.

The other solution, addressing why drugs cost so much money cannot even be considered. The press has been running reports on TV and in print for years about top up care but never address the main issue - the cost of the meds which could be reduced by public funding. Even when I was doing econ at school for A-level I was 'informed' that the NHS isn't viable and the private sector will eventually have to take over. The solutions are rarely addressed.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Dominic Lawson's Oped on the Hypocracy of the Oil Debate

Lawson has a good article over at the Independent. It is a bit of lulz when the government justifies high tax on fuels as 'green taxes' but then asks their brutal dictator mates to pump more oil. But there are lulz within his article, by lulz I mean hypocracy of course.

Lawson cites the chief economist of BP Christof Ruehl pointing out that the "developing world uses more than three times more energy per unit of Gross Domestic Product". However he doesn't put it into context.

The reason for such a high figure because the developing world is in a process of inudstrialisation which is very energy intensive. Take a look at China's use of cement which is literally off the charts, a very energy intensive process (China uses entirely coal in the "clinker stage" and in the blending stage electricity (80% provided by coal). When a country begins to inudstralise it uses much more energy per GDP. As a country gets wealthier it shifts its comparative advantage by careful tariff/quota policy towards the 'high tech' economy. Take say the UK for example, a lot of our GDP is in the 'bull shit' economy. That is lawyers, bankers, financial information etc. Take the US, if it didn't shift its comparative advantage it's number one export would be fur or something.

In actual fact the amount of energy used by the developing world per capita is tiny. We in the west use about ~ 88% of the worlds resources but have ~12% of the population. Accurate figures at wikipdia. The myth of overpopulation putting demand on our scarce resources is far from the truth. But then again the instituional structure of western socities mean we find it hard to look in the mirror, so people like Ruehl and the media as a group point to the third world who we have opressed for so long.

The second issue is Lawson pointing out that many in the third world subsidise fuel, which as traditional market theory would predict, increases consumption. However this is too simplistic. There is an excellent post over at the Oil Drum about it. Briefly:

  1. Oil has an inelastic demand curve.
  2. Opportunity cost issues, but in terms of energy. - "If a government does’t spend $X billion on fuel subsidies, what will it spend the money on? What is the energy intensity of that expenditure compared to the amount of demand reduced through cutting the subsidy?
  3. Cutting Subsidies Won’t Slow the “Export-Land” Effect
The only way a reduction in subsidies would reduce the energy cost would be to redirect subsidies torenewable research or adoption. An entirely sane thing to do. But of course the US Senate has blocked the debate of a bill proposing such subsidies. Again the instituional structure of our socities encourages Keynesnian lunacy, where we subsidies things (arms especially) that will bring about our distruction.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Richard Dawkins on Bodybuilding

Enthusiasts of the 'body-building' cult make use of the principle of use and
disuse to 'build' their bodies, almost like a piece of sculpture, into whatever
unatural shape is demanded by fashion in this peculiar minority culture

What a legendary quote, quite accurate. But there is no disuse principle. Every single muscle is trained relentlessly, even things like the neck and in extreme cases the jaw! Does Ronnie Coleman look like he disuses anything.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Terrorism Ltd.

Exxon (well Nigerian government) wants a new subsidiary,

The defence ministry has suggested militant attacks could be brought under control by employing the very militants conducting the attacks to police the pipelines, newspaper This Day reported.

"We will engage them to police oil pipelines, but they must first form themselves into limited liability companies for us to discuss with them," Defence Minister Yayale Ahmed told a House of Representatives committee on Tuesday.

Terrorism Ltd. or maybe they'll make a partnership. Terrorism LLP. Wonder how much equity each partner will get? What will the base be? Are they recruiting? Is Hamas and Hezbollah going to incorporate themselves next? More to the legal point what is the point of terrorists becoming Ltds? They're not gonna be taken to court and a court orders all their personal assets away, you know their Ak-47's. They'll shoot the bailiff's that come to collect!

I hope Jon Stewart picks up on this!

Monday, 19 May 2008

China's Earthquake Death Toll

The latest reports have the toll at 71,000 dead or missing. This is a tragic figure but Earthquakes are natural disasters. There is nothing anyone can do to stop them, all a nation can do is mitigate their effects by building safer buildings.

The death toll has rightly caused international solidarity. However something that is controlled by nations and can be prevented - industrial accidents and road accidents get no outpouring of sympathy. Over 100,000 Chineese die in road and industrial accidents. The 18.5% of the total caused by industrial accidents are especially entirely stoppable, they can be virtually eliminated by better regulation and compensation. There isn't much said about this.

There seems to be a human response where a single disaster attracts more sympathy than slow and entirely preventable deaths. 9/11 versus US policies in Latin America, Hiroshima and Nagasaki versus Iraqi sanctions (200,000 immediate deaths versus 2 million estimated Iraqi deaths) or any natural disaster versus a carpet bombing campaign.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Dean Baker on farming Subsidies

I'm a big fan of Baker, he's the only economist I respect because he sticks to evidence and calling out his profession for having no idea about what is going on in the economy. However his opinions on agricultural subsidies sound like a purely theoretical economist sticking to his starting assumptions. Baker has a post where he argues that farming subsidies in the west lead to cheaper food pricing in the south. Indeed this is true axiomatically, you can use the fancy models and graphs to show this.

But the issue is that incomes are reduced by lack of economic development because of these very policies (dumping). It doesn't matter if 1kg of rice costs only 3 dollars, if you're earning $2 a day. Now it's not entirely the fault of subsidies that sweat shop workers earn $2 a day. But if you cram people into cities from farms, the over supply of labour is huge so the price they command falls.

The affordability of the price is the question, not the absolute price. This is so obvious to anyone that thinks about it for more than 3 seconds.