Monday, 21 January 2008

Some rough numbers on Northern Rock

The Government has bailed out Northern Rock by supplying them with £25bn loans. This is corporate welfare at the worst I can think of. A few rough numbers.

  • 29.5 million tax payers in 2006-07.
  • Each individual tax payer will loan £847.50 to the Rock.
  • A rough estimate is the loans value to around £1bn subsidy outright. That is £33.90 each tax payer has given the rock.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Jan 5th Economist faking stats

[1968] 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 1968 Presidential Election 56.9% of those who voted, voted for Nixon and Wallace. According to the US Census there were around 116 million eligible to vote. 41.6 million voted for Nixon and Wallace. That's near 36% of eligible Americans voting for Nixon/Wallace or 20% of Americans.

In the words of Dean Baker, it would have been useful to inform the readers of this information.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Gaza Violence

Astounding quote by Shlomo Dror today

"It's unacceptable that people in Sderot are living in fear every day and people in Gaza are living life as usual."

Life as usual, living in an open prison. Thought experiment: how about we swap the two sides?

Friday, 11 January 2008

The Pursuit of Profit

Whenever I read critique's of corporate power, I always see Ford vs. Dodge get a mention. That is the case that famously decided that a corporation has no goal but the pathological pursuit of profit for shareholders. In the case Mr. Ford wanted to give his workforce a bonus, the shareholders filed suit and won. Thus the common critique from the left is radical judicial activism has caused this psychopathic pursuit for profit. [find citations] and this is a core principle of Anglo-American corporate law.

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.