"There is now consensus that if the NHS cannot afford new drugs, then top ups should be allowed"
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
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:
- Oil has an inelastic demand curve.
- 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?
- Cutting Subsidies Won’t Slow the “Export-Land” Effect
Tuesday, 3 June 2008
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
Thursday, 22 May 2008
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!
Geplaatst door Dush op 10:28
Monday, 19 May 2008
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.
Geplaatst door Dush op 10:10
Friday, 16 May 2008
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.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Of course this is ridlcouos. Gordon Brown and Darling are more at fault. But Applegarth is still getting £760k + £475k from the public purse. This works out as 15.8 years in jail, if the laws applied equally to all.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
Natural selection is not just a scientifically respsectable alternative to divine creation. It is the only alternative that can explain the evolution of a complex organ like the eye. The reason that the choice is so stark - God or natural selection - is that structures that can do what the eye does are extremely low-probabilty arrangements of matter" p360
However if there is a rich language organ there are also other mental 'organs'. As Chomsky states:
The language faculty is one of [the] cognitive systems. There are others. For example, our capacity to organize visual space, or to deal with abstract properties of the number system, or to comprehend and appreciate certain kinds of musical creation
On the other hand perhaps that is why mathematics is so hard to grasp for so many. It isn't a result of natural selection and isn't properly a mental organ. Every healthy person can converse in a complex rich way. Not everyone can handle even linear equations.
Edit: Dawkins just said something relevant:
there is still controversy over the theory that natural selection is the dominant driving force. I think no body would doubt it is the dominant driving force of adaptive evolution but many people, including me, doubt it's the dominant driving force behind all evolution at the molecular level
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
The revelation came as experts said the former chief executive, whose cavalier business strategy nearly destroyed the bank last year, can expect a pension worth nearly £475,000 a year from the age of 60. Adam Applegarth's "reward for failure" is on top of the £760,000 "termination payment" he currently enjoys.
This money, equal to his basic salary, is being paid on a monthly basis for a year or until he gets another job - which seems unlikely given his epic failure. Meanwhile about a third of Northern Rock's workforce - roughly 2,000 employees - will lose their jobs by 2011, according to the new management team.
The man who ran the bank into the ground is being paid £760,000 + £475,000, this all while homes are increasingly being repossessed. Absolutely disgusting.
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
- Northern Rock alone took £100,000,000,000. Benefit fraud in comparison costs 0.8% of that figure.
- In total the government has spent £150,000,000,000 bailing out private banks. Benefit fraud in comparison costs 0.53%
Thursday, 1 May 2008
I think it was only after writing the encyclopaedia entry that I learned how far Chomsky had been getting into bed with the Neo-Nazi movement
An anarchist in bed with neo-Nazi's! Is that yet another type of anarchism? like you know anarco-capitalism, socialism, communism, gayism, feminism and now anarcho-neo-nazism?!
The other business is is the racism article. Sampson was a councilor for the Conservative Party so it caused a stir in the press. I read it carefully and it struck me as written by someone who is very unfamiliar with evolutionary science. Now I'm no expert, infact my 'expertise' in Darwinian evolution derives from a bunch of Christmas lectures targeted at children that Richard Dawkins gave, however that article is awful. The hypothesis is that there is a biological urge towards racism, it is a completely natural feeling much like wanting to get laid. The reason there is that urge towards racism is our minds equate those that look different from us as have different genes. Sampson points out this of course is irrational, our DNA is remarkably similar even across species but our instincts don't know that.
Sampson goes onto point out how we have a natural inclination to care for our children: we pay for expensive schools, leave them inheritance etc. at the expense of other children not related to us. This leads Sampson to the conclusion that racism is as natural as sexual urges or caring for children, they are all to spread our genes.
But this really misses the point. We don't prefer people who share more of our genes over people who share fewer because the latter have particular outward features that we dislike. We prefer the former because they share more of our genes, and we all want our own genes to become numerous. Biology forces us to want that, which is why it forces us to want to get our bodies entangled with the opposite sex.
This hypothesis would be valid on the assumption that racism only ever applied to the opposite sex. Why is it natural under Sampson's rationale to have a racist inclination towards the same sex? It's impossible to have children with them. If it was about propagating genes racism would only apply in the narrow area of mate selection, which I think it does. I, personally, wouldn't call that racism - it's just taste. Nonetheless, Sampson's Darwnian explanation of racism, if I've understod it correctly, seems to be junk socio-biology. The only perceivable worthy hypothesis one can glean from the article is that humans during mate selection chose those similar to themselves. That is uncontroversial, and I think entirely correct. I think he was trying to work Kin Selection into it, but if so he shouldn't mention sexual selection because it gives the mis-impression that they are both as powerful. Furthermore the theory of Kin Selection can't explain why we know who we are related to. There's evidence to show that the marker of 'this is my sister' goes off in a subjects brain when they are brought up together, the classic example being Israeli kibbutzim children who though not genetically related all married outside the kibbutz. This also all applies to actual kin, sisters, brothers members of the same family. Not some white guy down the road. Dawkins has tackled this head on before,
"The National Front was saying something like this, "kin selection provides the basis for favoring your own race as distinct from other races, as a kind of generalization of favoring your own close family as opposed to other individuals." Kin selection doesn't do that! Kin selection favors nepotism towards your own immediate close family. It does not favor a generalization of nepotism towards millions of other people who happen to be the same color as you. Even if it did, and this is a stronger point, I would oppose any suggestion from any group such as the National Front, that whatever occurs in natural selection is therefore morally good or desirable. We come back to this point over and over again. I'm definitely not one who thinks that "is" is the same as "ought."
Further on Sampson even talks about immigration to the UK being this big bad awful thing that has ruined the natural harmony we had in a Utopian Britan, which was full of British people, all related to each other (no jokes pls!)
When I was a child, England and other European nations were racially very homogeneous. Except for a small Jewish community (who don't look much different from the indigenous English anyway), virtually everyone living in England was related to everyone elseIn actual fact, however, there are more Britain's living abroad than immigrants living here. Before you begin complaining about immigration, recall all your own people. Class issues before mass migration were also tense.
I haven't read Sampson's book yet but if someone who has apparently ripped apart the Universal Grammar hypothesis, which uses evolutionary arguments, is this bad at biology, I'm not sure I'll be expecting much.
Edit: apparantly mentinoing Chomsky, holocaust and Faurisson triggers spam bots to post holocaust denial articles!
David Blanchflower, a member of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee which sets interest rates, said in a speech on Tuesday that house prices could fall by 30% over the next few years if interest rates were not cut.
He added: "I am not suggesting that such a drop will necessarily occur, but it may. Cutting interest rates now may help to prevent such a dramatic fall."
A regular cheerleader for lower rates, Mr Blanchflower said "aggressive action" was needed to stop a downturn in the economy.
Monday, 28 April 2008
If governments were serious about helping home owners it would just cut out the middle man, the banks. Rather than give massive loans and underwriting hundreds of billions of pounds of risk they could easily setup a tax free mortgage payments system with loans issued directly by socially owned banks. There is already a system in place like this with The Student Loans company which has lent out £15.5bn in loans since its inception.
This would instantly lower interest rates on mortgages, as with the Student Loan Company which offers lower interest rates than the free market can possibly provide. Furthermore all payments into this social mortgage scheme should be tax exempt, both VAT and income. This would instantly reduce payments by 39.5% (17.5+22%) for those who truly need it. I can hear the free market fanatic already, 'how can this be paid for?'.
Well, we could perhaps stop pumping liquidity into private markets, pump it into social ones. Further we could save £150bn in bailing out banks and issue mortgages with those savings. Total loans for house purchasing in 2007 was £154.9bn (source: CML). The proposed scheme could have been funded purely by the bank bailouts for one year even if every single mortgagee defaulted. More realistically not everyone will default, actually default rates would be far lower than on private market due to mortgages being more affordable. This means the asset the government has isn't junk like subprime bonds which have high default rates.
All articles assert that central banks have to pump liquidity into the market, they have to bail out banks all so we can afford our mortgages. That is indeed one way of doing it, to be sure it is a very inefficient method of doing it. The rough scheme proposed here isn't workable in isolation. House prices would, of course, soar with buyers swimming in government supplied liquidity*; supply side issues would need addressing, perhaps by social house building schemes if we are to avoid this. Nonetheless, this took me about 5 minutes of googline to find the stats, why doesn't the press talk about it?
*: if these social mortgages were only offered to first time buyers on a property they wish to live in (as opposed to buy-to-let) demand would be reduced as only those who actually need to live in a house would buy. The situation currently has all the usual elements of bubble speculation which artificially inflate prices.
Monday, 3 March 2008
Protectionist pressures are increasing across Europe, even among political forces traditionally committed to free markets, according to José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president... Mr Barroso, [is] a committed advocate of free trade
Yet Barroso, the great "advocate of free trade",
saw some progress in China’s position on the defence of intellectual property rights – a key concern for European companies. “The Commission doesn’t want to, but it might be hard to resist the protectionist calls,” he warned.
The Democrats do not say, in any detail, how they would slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid or what they think about the main policy options: rationing care, raising taxes, cutting payments to providers or requiring beneficiaries to pay more.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Conversation on biodiversity from a forum, I raised the point that why do we care about rare wolves when there is suffering live stock around? A reply:
do you understand the value of variety, understand that a concrete desert cannot produce the kind of human stock a mountain full of wildlife & massive variety of life can ? The wolf is a teacher for strong humans & a hunter of weak humans. This is something to be respected & valued more than any gold or possession.
These are value terms, everyone can have opinions and everyone's opinion is equally valid. When opinions on what to do in an area collide we fall back on political philosophy where I personally favour true democratic principles. Usually it boils down to the majority wanting to preserve biodiversity, say not mining an area. And an elite minority (corporations) that want to exploit the social environment for private profit.
But I would like a more concrete answer to justify preservation of biodiversity. The keystone species being wiped out causing massive effects to our planet is a good argument. Arguments that appeal to value terms, inheritantly subjective, are not. Why should one preserve the endangered Panda? I think they're beautiful and majestic creatures. But this is a subjective opinion. Why do we spend so many resources targeting preservation of, what seems to me entirely arbitrary animals, when those resources could be used to resolve suffering of live stock? I feel the same about these campaigns against Whale trolling. Whales are free range meat, they only suffer during capture. They indeed suffer absolutely horribly for the hours it takes these huge creates to die.
However, this pales in comparison to live stock. I just don't understand what the difference is. A cow or a chicken or a sheep, to me, is just as wonderful as a whale. I don't justify an animals worth by its rarity, otherwise there should be no such things as human rights because we are so numerous. Who cares if millions die? We bread well, there's plenty of us. I judge them by a formation of a nervous system. And to me it seems quite absurd that we care about wolves, tigers and panadas when other animals with equally well formed nervous systems are suffering. It just doesn't even compare.
Friday, 22 February 2008
As I see it, it's a pissing match between Russia and the US. EU will remain more docile worried about the gas from Russia, although the UK will probably stick harder with the US for i) traditonal reasons 'strong relatinoship' ii) The Livthinkenyo murder and the associated expulsions of Russian diplomats.
Putin doesn't care about Serb/Slav protection or historical links. The slav brothers have been used as a pretext to get involved in foreign conflict since WW1. What he most cares about is pwning Bush and establishing firmly that he can challenge US hegemony and reversing the embarrassment of having the Russian brokered peace agreement, after 1999 bombing, being largely walked over by NATO. He wants to send hte diplomatic message that you cannot treat Russia like that, when we agree to contractal terms, you must stick by them. Furthermore, there's the minor stuff of Russia being hypocrtical of Checnia if it supported independence and Spain for the same reason, they have their own independent movement.
I read this article by an international lawyer, was quite interesting saying that the only legal method of independence is partition. The UN holds Kosovo on Trust, this does not entitle it legally to give it away to a new soverign. Holding a country on Trust is not a legal method of annexation of terrirtory so no good title passes. The only legal way, is a 85% 15% split, where Serbia retains control of the majority Serb areas (15%) and Kosovo the rest. I also read in other aticles, that de facto, Serbia is already in control of the Serb areas of Kosvo where Kosovo does not try and exercise authority.
In sum, main obstacales to independence
- Increasing tension between US and Russia.
- Dosile EU, effectively hooked on Russian gas.
- Concern for Kosovar-serbs (10%, 200,000)
- Lack of strong economy or muscular legal institutions (corruption, lack of energy)
- Serbian insecurity that an independent Kosovo will lead to a rise in ultra-nationalist elements.
- Political mis-mangement in Serbia, should be telling the public they want to keep 10-15% of Kosovo that is full of Serbs.
- Minor concerns about multi-ethnicity being compromised
- Jurisprudential questions of the legality of Kosovian independence.
Monday, 21 January 2008
Saturday, 19 January 2008
 ended with almost 60% of Americans voting for either Richard Nixon or George Wallace, a Southern segregationist [40 year itch, p39 in pdf edition]
In the words of Dean Baker, it would have been useful to inform the readers of this information.
Friday, 18 January 2008
Friday, 11 January 2008
Indeed it is a core principle, however there are also plenty of other legal obligations a corporation has. The genesis of the Tort of negligence is an example of that. Companies have a duty of care to make sure their products do not harm consumers (Donohogue v Stevenson), they also have innumerable obligations under environmental law. However these are less often followed, despite them having the same normative force as the decision in Ford vs. US. The main reason why the normative force does not result in substantive changes is due to the lack of enforcement, which is a structural problem of capitalist societies. i.e. powerful groups can enforce their legal rights, the right to exploit the environment for profit. They have white shoe and magic circle law firms for that. However, the majority cannot enforce their environmental rights due to lack of either standing in court lack of funds or under staffed and overworked enforcement bodies. However, it does also seem to be as Friedman said, a core of human nature - to profit. Well, human nature of elites and power centers.
Ford vs Dodge is not the reason we live under corporations pathological pursuit of power, that argument seems to me to reverse the chronology and ignore the rest of the innumerable legal obligations corporations are under and hugely overstate the importance of a single case. Corporations are required by law to peruse profit, but that's irrelevant, they're also required to follow environmental regulations and they rarely do. The problem is not Ford, the problem is formal equality necessarily leading to substantive inequality. A critique that usually holds accurate for all of law.