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Posted by Caron Lindsay

Well, I think so.

A great way of illustrating that the Lib Dems are standing up for EU nationals’ right to stay in this country:

Huge applause to the amazing Lisa Maria Bornemann and Adam Bernard from Harrow Lib Dems for coming up with this.

I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview of this in York last weekend and I have a feeling that there may be more of this sort of thing. Watch this space.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

Today, Tim Farron, Nick Clegg and Alex Cole-Hamilton have done us proud. Their passionate messages of defiance were very different. Clegg’s anger, Farron’s optimism and Cole-Hamilton’s emotion were exactly what we need right now.

Here are their speeches. Sit back, enjoy, and tomorrow get out there and help them by persuading others to oppose the stark, extreme Brexit that will hurt so many people.

Farron said that the future has not been written yet and we can change the country’s course:

Nick’s focus was young people and holding this awful government to account:

And Alex told Theresa what she’d have to do to deprive him of his EU citizenship:


Having watched this back, my first thought was “Oh god…..” I can hear that the audio is fine, but I see that getting Alex in the frame at all times was not my strong point. In my defence, I was looking straight into the sun,  but clearly I shouldn’t give up the day job…

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

On Killfies and Campaign Photos

Mar. 25th, 2017 08:16 pm
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Posted by Robert

Via @Documentally’s excellent weekly newsletter, here’s a short Observer article by Eva Wiseman on the phenomenon of ‘killfies’. This is where a person’s attempt to take a selfie of themselves gets them killed.

Which led me to think, maybe we’ve been getting our fears wrong all along? What if the way technology destroys humanity is not with an uprising of robots, of toasters turning against their masters, of self-driving cars choosing a road trip less travelled, but with something as simple as a reflection? There is something so unashamedly ancient in these deaths that it almost seems gauche to point it out. The sirens singing on the rock, beckoning sailors towards their comprehensive display of filters. The boys drowning in their own image. The recording of a risk, the risk itself. …

And once you’ve learned about killfies, it’s very hard to unsee them. Every Instagram post suddenly reads a little like a suicide note.

Or, as a candidate for ‘the photo of you the media will when they report on your untimely death’, the darker side to selfies that I wrote about a few years ago. In bygone eras, these images were usually school photos or wedding day pictures. Now they tend to be self-portaits.

A related concept is the single image that is used to campaign for a political prisoner. I have actually taken one such image myself: my photos of the Turkish journalist Ahmet Şık (taken at he launch of his report Journalism Under Seige this time last year) are now being used by English PEN to illustrate the campaign for his release from prison.

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

But overall most of those sampled continue to be against

Keiran Pedley looks at new poll numbers from the Polling Matters / Opinium series ahead of the Prime Minister invoking Article 50 this week.

Listeners to this week’s (revamped) PB/Polling Matters podcast (see below) will know that we have a new survey out this week. Our most recent poll tracks public opinion on last year’s Brexit vote. In December, we asked a nationally representative sample of the British public whether they thought there should be another vote on EU membership once the terms of divorce are known and we asked the same question again last weekend.

In some ways the results offer something for everyone. At a headline level, a majority are opposed to another referendum, with exactly the same number in opposition now as were opposed in December (52%). This is primarily because Leave voters continue to be committed to the decision they made last year. However, there has been a 5 point increase in the overall number in favour of another vote. This appears to be driven by those that said ‘don’t know’ in December now saying that they support another referendum with Remainers particularly consolidating behind such a position.

Q. Once we know what terms the government has negotiated, should there be a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, where voters can choose between leaving under the terms negotiated or remaining in the EU after all?

Now for a number of reasons we shouldn’t get too exercised by these findings. These results could be a one-off and there is little sign of consistent Brexit regret in opinion polls. Theresa May certainly has no interest in holding another referendum and the Labour Party is not calling for one (despite some 60% of their voters in favour). However, we should still keep an eye on these numbers. If this trend is real and continues then expect someone of signifance in the Labour Party to come out in support in the future. In any case, if the opinion of the Remain vote is hardening on this subject, the potential for that group of people being a significant organised political force in the longer term only grows.

Incidentally, a fascinating subplot in Britain’s political future will be how the opinion of Millennials evolves on this issue. 53% of 18-34s support another vote with just 34% opposing. Now this shouldn’t surprise given what we know about the composition of the Remain vote in 2016. The question is whether such attitudes will change as these voters get older or are they set in stone (as they are on certain cultural issues)? If they are, expect the issue of Britain’s position in Europe be a live one long beyond we have officially left the EU.

Article 50 brings sky-high expectations

Turning our attention to this week, our poll also asked how confident the British public is on the type of Brexit deal May and the government will deliver:

How confident are you that Theresa May and the British government will be able to negotiate a Brexit deal that is good for the UK?

49% Confident

41% Not confident

 10% Don’t know

Expectations here are split in ways you would expect that I won’t therefore dwell on e.g. Remain vs Leave, Labour vs Conservative, young vs old and so on. However, what is striking is the confidence of Leave voters. Some 72% are confident a ‘good deal’ can be delivered. Now what a ‘good deal’ tangibly means to them and whether May can meet those expectations is going to be critical for her political survival. Meanwhile, we should also pay attention to the one area of the UK with the lowest confidence in any Brexit deal. That is Scotland where 62% are pessimistic that a ‘good deal’ can be reached. Ominous signs.

Much is made of the apparent finality of the 2016 vote in terms of the European question. It may very well be so given the state of the Labour Party right now. But I can’t help but feel that things could change and change quickly should Brexit negotiations go badly. You need tunnel vision not to see that there is a path for a ‘second referendum’ becoming a major political issue. In any case, we are now approaching the ‘business end’ of Brexit. The time for words is nearly over. Now Theresa May has to deliver.

Keiran Pedley presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast (latest episode below) and tweets about politics and public opinion at @keiranpedley


Check out the latest podcast below:

Notes on the poll: Opinium surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,003 GB adults online between 17-21 March, 2017. Tables will be available on their website in due course.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Back 18 months the team of Anne Case and Angus Deaton (who has since gained the economics Nobel) released a famous paper pointing out that white rural Americans were killing themselves. So much so that expected lifespans were in fact falling such was the rise in middle aged morbidity. That original paper found that the effect was geographically concentrated. And as I remarked at the time that’s a bit of a problem for the causality of that rise in morbidity. For we’ve got rather a lot of migration out of those rural areas. And it’s the better educated doing the leaving.

Thus it is possible (no, no one has studied this in enough detail as yet for anyone to know) that the effect found is entirely down to those migration effects. We know very well that poorer and less educated people are more likely to die in middle age than richer and better educated. So, if all the better educated and thus, in our current society, higher income people move away we will observe a rise in the death rate among the remnant population.

Case and Deaton have returned to this subject with a new paper. And they agree that there is some of this compositional effect in their earlier findings:

It is important not to focus
on those with less than a high school degree, a group that has grown markedly
smaller over time, and is likely to be increasingly negatively selected on health.


we note that for age-groups younger than 45, there has been a decline in the fraction of
WNHs with only a high school degree, so that selection may be playing some role for the
younger groups.

Excellent, so that intuition of mine about those compositional effects was indeed correct at least in part. However, this new paper then drives a steamroller through my explanation by showing that this rise in morbidity is country-wide among that class and age group, middle aged and less educated whites. Except, well, I’m not quite sure it does. Fortunately, as I said last time, this is such an important result coming from such a well known name that it will be fully investigated. It’s not just going to be either ignored nor accepted at face value either. People will keep picking away at this until the definitive answer is understood.

And I still think there’s more than just a hint of compositional effects here. Others don’t of course:

The problem of dying whites can’t only be blamed on rising rates of drug overdoses, suicides and chronic alcoholism, they say. More and more, middle-aged white Americans are dying for all kinds of reasons — and the underlying issue may have less to do with opioids and more to do with how society has left behind the working class.

“Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white, high school educated, working class after its heyday in the 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany that decline,” they write.

It’s not really possible to take this as being purely about the economy:

For example, black families have had more economic struggles (and have had more out-of-wedlock births) than white families, yet for years their death rate fell while the white rate rose.

We’re really not about to start insisting that black Americans are economically privileged over white ones which is what we would have to do to explain that rise in the while morbidity as being based upon economics alone.

At which point a prediction from me. I think that at least some of the answer here is going to come from compositional effects. We’re talking about death rates here, how many per hundred thousand die young. And when we talk about rates if the make up of the group has changed then that can be the explanation for that change in the rate. Imagine, for example, that college attendance rates expanded massively at some point. That gives us something akin to those migration rates from the first paper. The people who always would have been richer and lived longer are now in our college educated group, rather than the non-college educated one. Thus our measurement of lifespan in the uneducated group has changed because of the different composition of the group, not because there has been any change in lifespan.

As I remember it, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, the big expansion of college attendance in the US was in the 60s and 70s. Meaning that those under discussion in this paper are that very group left behind by that change–those in their 40s and 50s in the late 1990s to today. At one point a comparison is made to UK morbidity in the same age group. But the big expansion of university there was in the 1990s and 2000s, rather later. Which could be why the effects aren’t being seen as yet.

It’s obviously true that Case and Deaton are both brighter and better informed than I am. But I would still say that this is where I expect to find some of the explanation. There’s a change in the group being measured even if that’s not the whole story.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

As usual when discussing a project the political world has got the relationship between jobs and costs entirely the wrong way around. Donald Trump, and others, are waving around job creation numbers like a toddler showing Mommy how the toilet training is going along. Proud pointing to all the good work being done here. Which is to entirely miss the point about jobs and projects–the number of jobs created by a project is a cost of that project, not a benefit of it. We would thus very much prefer to minimise job creation, not maximise it. That is, we should hope that the people saying Keystone XL will produce 35 jobs are correct, not the people touting 20 and 30 thousand.

But, you know, it’s traditional to get this wrong:

And Trump’s touting of the number of jobs to be created by the project – hyperbolic by most estimates – could also draw increased scrutiny to its economic benefits, particularly for the blue-collar tradesmen whose lot the president has promised to improve….(…)…Trump claims the number would be 28,000, and TransCanada promises 13,000 in construction alone, while the Obama-era State Department slims that estimate down to about 3,900 – and just 35 permanent ones. Opponents of the project have pointed out that drastic difference between permanent and temporary work in accusing advocates of inflating job-creation numbers…

My colleague Ellen Wald has a good review of how many jobs will be created where. But it is still true that we must consider those construction jobs to be a cost, not a benefit, of the pipeline project. On the useful logical grounds that they are a cost.

At one level this is entirely obvious. The pipeline builders are going to have to pay the workers to come and do those jobs. If you’ve got money going out that’s a cost. Jobs are therefore a cost, obviously so. But there’s another economic level to this as well. The true price of something is what you must give up to get it. If we’ve 35, or 28,000, jobs on the pipeline then that’s 35, or 28,000, people not doing something else. The price to us, the cost to us, of the pipeline is thus the loss of the other things those 35, or 28,000, would produce in the absence of their working on the pipeline.

Given that pretty much all of them are going to be construction workers that means something else that doesn’t get built. Say, just for the lolz, that without the pipeline we’d have a project to turn Route 66 into the Chuck Berry Memorial Highway. If we don’t have the pipeline those construction workers can build the highway. If we do have the pipeline we can’t have the highway. The cost of Keystone to us is therefore the absence of the Chuck Berry Memorial Highway.

That is, all this chest beating about how many jobs Keystone XL will create is entirely the wrong way around. For jobs are a cost of the project, not a benefit.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Given that health care reform didn’t even manage to make it to a full vote, let alone actually get passed, it seems a pretty obvious call that tax reform will work better. But we can go further than that, as Steven Mnuchin, the Trump Administration’s Treasury Secretary does here, and point out that it’s going to work much better than that stalled health care reform effort. For there’s a general agreement that certain aspects of the American tax system really do need reform. Most especially aspects of the corporate income tax system which is so distorting that it’s beginning to affect the workings of the larger economy.

True, not all the ideas out there about what to do makes as much sense as some of the others–I’m particularly unimpressed by the border adjustment issue–but the general idea that we need to have a general clean up of the policy area is widely shared.

Mnuchin, speaking at an event in Washington hosted by the news site Axios, also said that overhauling the tax code – which hasn’t been done since 1986 – should prove easier than the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Health care and tax reform are two very different things,” Mnuchin said. “Health care is a very, very complicated issue. In a way, [tax changes are] a lot simpler. It really is.”

Apart from anything else we’ve not got any significant grouping defiantly wedded to the current system that needs to be overcome. Obamacare had a lot of very vocal supporters. Pretty much everyone wants some or other aspect of the tax system to be changed:

Mnuchin said the White House wants to significantly lower the corporate tax rate and cut taxes for the middle class. He said that it remains Trump’s goal to tax the carried interest that hedge-fund managers receive as ordinary income rather than capital gains but that the administration is looking at making sure that the tax code doesn’t disincentivize investments by other types of investors.

I can see the point about carried interest but I’d be wary too. It’s difficult to see how you can change that carried interest provision without affecting sweat equity in start ups for example.

However, onto weightier things. If I were writing the plan I’d concentrate just on one area, that of corporate taxation. And I’d do something big about it too. What I would in fact do is abolish the corporate income tax altogether. And to largely make up the revenue loss I’d tax dividends at normal income tax rates, and capital gains–with an inflation adjustment–also at normal income tax rates. I’d then sell it as a substantial tax increase upon the rich.

Of course, it wouldn’t actually be one of those. The economic concept would be pretty much the same as it is now. There’s a stream of corporate profit and that gets taxed–it doesn’t in fact make much economic difference whether some of that is taxed at the corporate level and some at the individual or all of it taxed only once at either end of the process. It’s still tax being raised from corporate profit streams.

However, much the the cost and distortion of the economy caused by such taxation is the bit of taxing it within the corporation itself. That’s why so many companies are holding foreign profits offshore for example. So, we can get rid of much of this cost simply by abolishing the tax itself. If you like it’s akin to converting all C corporations into S corporations. And there would be significant cost reduction in the whole economy as a result. Megan McArdle has been known to muse that the costs of trying to organise around and dodge the corporate income tax is around and about the annual revenue gained from it.

But the other thing that this would do is actually lower the tax rate on such corporate income. That would be a good thing too, as the US rate on that is woefully high to the detriment of economic growth. The current income tax applied to dividends, plus the corporate income tax rate itself, are higher than the normal full rate of income tax. Thus the abolition of the corporate income tax and replacement would be three things in one. Removing costs and inefficiencies from the economy and a tax cut which could actually be sold as a tax rise on the rich.

Trident voting figures: now and then

Mar. 25th, 2017 03:25 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Here are the voting figures for the four big set piece debates over nuclear weapons policy at Liberal Democrat conferences in recent years.

In each case the winning side was the multilateralist one, the losing side a unilateralist one.

2017 York spring conference: 428-244 (64%-36%, 672 votes)
2015 Bournemouth autumn conference: 579-447 (56%-44%, 1,026 votes)
2013 Glasgow autumn conference: 322-228 (59%-41%, 550 votes)
2007 Harrogate spring conference: 454-414 (52%-48%, 868 votes)

Election timetable 2017

Mar. 25th, 2017 02:45 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

This timetable is based on the one published by the Electoral Commission, but as ever make sure you double-check any crucial dates before relying on them. Even if there are no errors in this post or in the Electoral Commission’s timetable, a Returning Officer who has got their timetable calculations wrong can throw a spanner in the works. You want to field that spanner in good time.

Event Elections applicable to Number of working days* before poll for deadline (along with time if it is not midnight) Date
Publication of notice of election All Not later than 25 days (England, Wales)

Not earlier than thirty-five days and not later than twenty-eight days (Scotland)

Not later than Monday 27 March

Between Monday 13 March and Wednesday 22 March

Delivery of nomination papers All, excluding combined authority mayoral elections From the date stated on the notice of election up to 4pm on the nineteenth working day before the election (England and Wales)

Not later than 4pm on any working day from the day after the publication of notice of election until 4pm on the twenty-third day (Scotland)

From the date stated on the notice of election up to 4pm on Tuesday 4 April

Not later than 4pm on any working day after the publication of the notice of election until 4pm on Wednesday 29 March (Scotland)

Delivery of nomination papers Combined authority mayoral elections From the day after the publication of notice of election until 4pm on the nineteenth working day before the election (10am to 4pm) Between 10am and 4pm on any working day after publication of the notice of election until 4pm on Tuesday 4 April
Deadline for withdrawals of nomination All 19 days (4pm) (England and Wales)

23 days (4pm) (Scotland)

4pm on Tuesday 4 April

4pm on Wednesday 29 March

Deadline for the notification of appointment of election agent All 19 days (4pm) (England and Wales)

23 days (4pm) (Scotland)

4pm on Tuesday 4 April

4pm on Wednesday 29 March

Making objections to nomination papers Combined authority mayoral elections On 19 days (10am to 5pm), subject to the following:

Between 10am and 12noon objections can be made to all delivered nominations

Between 12 noon and 5pm objections can only be made to nominations delivered after 4pm, 20 days before the poll

Between 10am and 12 noon on Tuesday 4 April objections can be made to all delivered nominations

Between 12 noon and 5pm on Tuesday 4 April objections can only be made to nominations delivered after 4pm on Monday 3 April

Publication of first interim election notice of alteration All 19 days (England and Wales)

23 days (Scotland)

Tuesday 4 April

Wednesday 29 March

Publication of statement of persons nominated All Not later than 18 days (4pm) (England and Wales)
As soon as practicable after the deadline for withdrawals (Scotland; this is deadline for publication of notice of poll, including situation of polling stations)
Not later than 4pm on Wednesday 5 April

As soon as practicable after 4pm on Wednesday 29 March

Deadline for receiving applications for registration All 12 days (England and Wales)

12 days (Scotland)**

Thursday 13 April

Monday 17 April

Deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications, and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes All 11 days (5pm) 5pm on Tuesday 18 April
Deadline for receiving new applications to vote by proxy (not postal proxy or emergency proxies) All 6 days (5pm) 5pm on Tuesday 25 April
Publication of second interim election notice of alteration All Between 18 days and 6 days (England and Wales)
Between 22 days and 6 days (Scotland)
Between Wednesday 5 April and Tuesday 25 April (inclusive)

Between Thursday 30 March and Tuesday 25 April (inclusive)

Publication of notice of poll England and Wales

(For Scotland see Publication of statement of persons nominated above)

Not later than 6 days Not later than Tuesday 25 April
Publication of final election notice of alteration All 5 days Wednesday 26 April
Deadline for notification of appointment of polling and counting agents All 5 days Wednesday 26 April
Deadline for notification of appointment of sub agents Combined authority mayoral elections 5 days Wednesday 26 April
First date that electors can apply for a replacement for lost postal votes England and Wales 4 days Thursday 27 April
Polling day All 0 (7am to 10pm) Thursday 4 May
Last time that electors can apply for a replacement for spoilt or lost postal votes All 0 (5pm) 5pm on Thursday 4 May
Deadline for emergency proxy applications All 0 (5pm) 5pm on Thursday 4 May
Last time to alter the register due to clerical error or court appeal All 0 (9pm) 9pm on Thursday 4 May
Sending postal vote identifier rejection notices All Within 3 months beginning with the date of the poll By Thursday 3 August

* The days which are disregarded in calculating the number of working days are Saturday, Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, bank holidays (i.e. Monday 1 May) and any day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning.

** 12 days before polling day comes out at a different date in Scotland from England and Wales due to the different bank holidays.

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Jeremy Corbyn’s 25% strategy

Mar. 25th, 2017 02:27 pm
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

When he was Labour leader, Ed Miliband was often criticised for following a (supposed) 35% strategy, i.e. one which looked to appeal only to those who already liked Labour rather than to win over new support, particular in Labour / Conservative marginal seats.

As with much else about Ed Miliband, his strategy gains a relative glow when set against which his successor is doing, especially Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to oppose Brexit:

By contrast, Tim Farron is still very much about appealing to Remain voters:

[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson

In happier times – Farage with his CON defector in 2014

But no by-election, he’ll remain in Commons as an independent

This lunchtime’s announcement from Douglas Carswell, the MP for Clacton, that he’s to leave UKIP is hardly a surprise. He had been largely detached from the party for months and and it really became a question of not if he would leave the purples but when.

He always appeared uncomfortable with UKIP’s emphasis on immigration and campaigned in the referendum with Vote Leave.

But he is not as some had expected re-joining the Conservatives. He said that he will remain as an MP as an independent. I guess is that he might well join the blues again possibly before the general election.

Given that he resigned and fought a by-election two and a half years ago after he defected to UKIP he would have found it difficult to go directly to the Conservatives and not do the same. Becoming an independent is less of an issue.

    All of this highlights what has become Ukip’s bugbear – its abject failure to be able to secure seats under first past the post. Almost the only elections where it has been successful have been there’s does a proportional element – for the European Parliament and, of course, the list seats for the Welsh Assembly.

The UK leaving the EU in 2019 will put an end to its MEP representation and the next Welsh elections are not till 2021. That’s a long time for the party to go through.

So Britain’s most dysfunctional party becomes even more dysfunctional.

Mike Smithson

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

This is quite remarkable even by the standards of left wing economic punditry. Harold Myerson, over at The American Prospect, wants to tell us all that the media is biased against the idea of decent wages for all.

Despite abundant empirical evidence that raising the minimum wage doesn’t lead to job loss, the idea that it does is an article of faith among right-wing economists, and all too often the media report their theological musings as fact. The latest example of such folly popped up in an article in the March 22 Financial Times, a paper that usually knows better than to publish this bushwah.

There is not, in fact, such abundant empirical evidence. What we do have is that the job loss effects of a modest minimum wage are modest but are still there. However, let that slide for a moment for we know that that’s an issue of faith for Myerson, not one amenable to factual correction. It gets better, I assure you:

Thus ends the article’s discussion of Seattle’s woes. The only actual empirical data that appear in the piece, please note, show that the unemployment rate there is 3 percent, which most economists, as well as people themselves, view as full employment. The story line, however, is that undocumented job loss is causing an undocumented flight from the city. In place of documentation, we have the opinions of Professor Vigdor, who is a fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute, where it is a truth universally acknowledged that a raise in the minimum wage must lead to job loss, all data showing otherwise—like, say, a 3 percent unemployment rate—to the contrary notwithstanding. The FT’s mistake is that Vigdor’s biases are reported as kinda-sorta fact, while the one actual fact in the piece, the 3 percent unemployment rate, gets a glancing notice at best.

Vigdor’s a horrible righty merely spouting prejudice and propaganda about the effects of the minimum wage. Instead of listening to him the FT, and indeed us all, should rather go and look up the real facts on the issue.

The article’s author might have taken time to consider a survey from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, which documented a rise in employment in the Seattle restaurant sector even after the wage was raised, and a survey by University of Washington academics, including some of Vigdor’s colleagues, that also documented an increase in low- as well as high-wage jobs in Seattle in the year following the minimum-wage hike.

That report by Vigdor’s colleagues is this one. The full paper is here. It says:

The minimum wage appears to have slightly reduced the employment rate of
low-wage workers by about one percentage point. It appears that the Minimum
Wage Ordinance modestly held back Seattle’s employment of low-wage workers
relative to the level we could have expected.

That is, the paper Myerson tells us to read to get the full facts shows that there were–modest to be sure–job loss effects from a rise in the minimum wage. Which leads Myerson to say:

The FT is normally sharper than this. Sadly, in this instance, it reverts to the norm of most economic reporting, in which the gospel of trickle-down is so internalized that the opinions of right-wing academics are given more weight than empirically verified fact. Come on, FT—you can do better.

And yes, it does get even better once again:

Suggested Citation:
The Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team. 2016. Report on the Impact of Seattle’s Minimum Wage
Ordinance on Wages, Workers, Jobs, and Establishments Through 2015. Seattle. University of

1The team investigators are Jacob Vigdor, Mark C. Long, Jennifer Romich, Scott W. Allard, Heather D. Hill,
Jennifer Otten, Robert Plotnick, Scott Bailey, and Anneliese Vance-Sherman. This report was principally
authored by Long, Plotnick, Ekaterina Roshchina, Vigdor, and Hilary Wething, and had major intellectual
and editing contributions from other members of the Seattle Minimum Wage Study Team.

The paper isn’t by Vigdor’s colleagues. It’s actually by Vigdor. And isn’t that just so much better? At which point let’s lay out the logical structure Meyerson has used here.

Minimum wage rises don’t cause job losses. Jacob Vigdor is just a blue meanie spouting the usual propaganda when he says that Seattle’s minimum wage rise has had job loss effects. As proof of this, to refute his baseless assertion, we should read this paper, by Jacob Vigdor, on the job loss effects of Seattle’s minimum wage, which found that there are some. Anyone who disputes this finding is merely a right wing academic propagandising rather than relying upon empirical evidence. This violates the norms of most economic reporting.

Signed, H. Myerson.

Isn’t that just so cute?

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

There’s an interesting and useful sense in which the story about high frequency trading is done, it’s over. The most interesting part of it to me being that the entire cycle has happened so quickly that no politician was able to pass a law to stop it. The point being that HFT has gone from invention, though something many opposed, to it now being a boring and unprofitable part of the basic infrastructure of the markets. We’ve had the entire cycle, the entire economic technology cycle, in only a couple of decades.

The underlying point here derives from Adam Smith. We assume that capitalists are greedy, obviously enough, and thus they’d like to be making more than normal profits. Normal profit here is just the regular rate of profit that people are making by employing capital. Everyone would like to be making more than that, to be making super profits, and that requires having some edge on everyone else. So, people look for those opportunities to make super profits. And when someone finds one they make out like bandits. At which point the other greedy capitalists all pile in to get themselves some of that lovely super profit. Their doing so brings in competition, the profit rate falls and after some time our new area is just making regular, normal, profits. And everyone tries to think up the next method of making super profits.

There’s just nothing very odd to this, it’s just how the economics of the technological cycle work. And it has happened to HFT, as Craig Pirrong points out:

In fact, HFT has followed the trajectory of any technological innovation in a highly competitive environment. At its inception, it was a dramatically innovative way of performing longstanding functions undertaken by intermediaries in financial markets: market making and arbitrage. It did so much more efficiently than incumbents did, and so rapidly it displaced the old-style intermediaries. During this transitional period, the first-movers earned supernormal profits because of cost and speed advantages over the old school intermediaries. HFT market share expanded dramatically, and the profits attracted expansion in the capital and capacity of the first-movers, and the entry of new firms. And as day follows night, this entry of new HFT capacity and the intensification of competition dissipated these profits. This is basic economics in action.

Back a few years there were all sorts of shouts that Something Must Be Done. HFT was disturbing the markets, someone was losing and thus politicians must act! Fortunately, it takes politicians time to get their act together and this technological cycle was faster than their ability to do that. The people who have lost out are the old market makers, the people who have won are us regular investors. We pay very much less to invest today than we used to. The people actually doing HFT now are no longer making those super profits:

Alex’s story repeats Tabb Group data documenting a roughly 85 percent drop in HFT revenues in US equity trading. The Virtu-KCG proposed tie-up and the Quantlabs-Teza consummated one are indications of consolidation that is typical of maturing industries, and a shift it the business model of these firms.

In terms of economic change therefore the HFT story is over. And as I say, the joy of this particular technological and economic cycle is that it all happened too fast for politics and politicians to intervene in it. There was a head of steam building up over it, most certainly:

And the more you read about the new game in town, the more nervous you should get about high-frequency trading (HFT).

Rich, elite traders are making millions of dollars in bonuses by using super-fast computers to swoop into the stock market and conduct trades in milliseconds, faster than even most professionals and certainly faster than any Average Joe. The HFT industry – a collection of stock exchanges, hedge funds, banks and others that has actually been around for six years – collects billions of dollars in profits: the kind of money you just can’t earn unless you elbow someone else out of the way. Numerous studies show that Flash Boys-style trades affect stock prices and increase fees for long-term investors. The New York state attorney general even has a nickname for it – “Insider Trading 2.0” – and now would-be investors are starting to realize, once again, just how much the decks are stacked against them.

Heidi Moore was horribly wrong there so again it’s fortunate that this all happened so swiftly. No one was in fact able to mess it up. Note what I’m not saying here, I’m not saying that HFT is going away, or that no one will do it in the future. Rather, I mean the story about it is done. It’s a mature industry now, as much an embedded feature of our society as mutual funds or the income tax.


Mar. 25th, 2017 12:28 pm
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The paper isn’t by Vigdor’s colleagues. It’s actually by Vigdor. And isn’t that just so much better? At which point let’s lay out the logical structure Meyerson has used here.

Minimum wage rises don’t cause job losses. Jacob Vigdor is just a blue meanie spouting the usual propaganda when he says that Seattle’s minimum wage rise has had job loss effects. As proof of this, to refute his baseless assertion, we should read this paper, by Jacob Vigdor, on the job loss effects of Seattle’s minimum wage, which found that there are some. Anyone who disputes this finding is merely a right wing academic propagandising rather than relying upon empirical evidence. This violates the norms of most economic reporting.

Signed, H. Myerson.

Isn’t that just so cute?

Keep on keeping on

Mar. 25th, 2017 10:55 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Ruth Bright

The talk of the Blitz spirit in London can become a bit mawkish at a time like this. A family member of mine went through the real Blitz in 1940 and 1941 and she told me that all was far from the myth. Class still pervaded all – for example, many looked down on those without a shelter who hid from bombs in the tube. Not everyone sang “Roll out the barrel”; not everyone cooed with gratitude as Queen Elizabeth wafted by in chiffon. Looting was a common occurrence. Horrible things were covered up by the authorities.

And yet it was also a time of extraordinary solidarity. The resilience of the East Londoner was not made up. Grandma talked matter-of-factly about being bombed out, of losing home and possessions – not once but twice, as if it were a minor inconvenience.

When I was a child in the seventies I was taken to see the Christmas windows at Selfridges. Not far from where my Grandma worked throughout the Blitz. Selfridges was bombed later that day (the IRA gave a warning and there was enormous damage but no loss of life). Twenty five years later the office where I worked received damage when a nail bomb was left in Brixton market. My colleagues and I were lucky. It was a weekend and none of us were in the building but many Saturday shoppers suffered horrible injuries.

London is a magnet for the brightest and the best but also for the very worst. There will always be those who want to erase their own futility by making a depraved little mark in one of the greatest of capitals.

Many Londoners, commuters and visitors will have a “near miss” or a “what if” in their minds today but perhaps a tiny crumb of comfort can be drawn from the history and the very fabric of London itself. A city that has seen it all.

* Ruth Bright has been a councillor in Southwark and Parliamentary Candidate for Hampshire East

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

More educative enlightenment from Tom Scott’s YouTube channel:

The Hyatt Regency Hotel collapse was a disaster that changed engineering. It’s taught in colleges and universities as a way to make it clear: you check and double-check everything. Something that seems like a subtle change can cause a catastrophic failure if it’s not thoroughly checked first.

Lib Dems gather for March for Europe

Mar. 25th, 2017 09:45 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Caron Lindsay

My Twitter and Facebook timelines are full of people heading to march for Europe today. Tim Farron and Nick Clegg are speaking at the march in London. Tim Farron is on second and the Cleggster is on last. Alex Cole-Hamilton is speaking for us, as he has done so movingly on so many occasions, in Edinburgh.

It’s such a poignant, emotional day. It’s 60 years since the Treaty of Rome was signed. It’s the Diamond Jubilee of a real diamond of international co-operation and collaboration and partnership. In just four days, Theresa May will set in train the process of us leaving it. That absolutely breaks my heart. And, in time, it will cause real hardship for everyone in this country, but most of all, the poorest, who mainly voted Leave.

In London, Lib Dems will be meeting at 10 am at Marble Arch. In Edinburgh, meet at Waterloo Place at 1pm.

Tim Farron will touch on the tragic events of Wednesday before going on to talk about Brexit.

“The unspeakable outrage that happened in this city on Wednesday will not defeat us, or silence us or divide us. Democracy continues, free speech continues, our way of life continues. Terrorism will not win.”

He will then move onto Brexit and will say:

“We respectfully say that Parliament is not enacting the will of the people, it is interpreting the will of the people.

“Theresa May could have chosen a consensual Brexit… she’s chosen the most extreme version… divided the country.

“Departure not destination. The choice is who should decide the final deal. Should it be politicians or the people? The Liberal Democrats say the people.

“We can turn the tide of populism and we can change the direction of our nation – liberals and progressives can and will win again.

“I am not prepared to accept that our country is inevitably to become meaner, smaller, poorer. If you believe in democracy then you accept defeat with good grace… and you keep on campaigning for a better Britain.

“Our job is to win hearts and minds over these coming months, to win support for a referendum on the deal, to change the direction of the debate and to change the direction of our country.

“If you love your country, then you do not meekly sit by while it turns a dangerous corner. Instead you keep fighting, you keep believing.

“With the triggering of Article 50 this week, some will despair, this week of all weeks they will despair. We are here to say defiantly, we are up to here with despair, the future is yet to be written, we stand together to say that we are determined to write it.”

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

A safe haven for Labour migrants

Mar. 25th, 2017 08:55 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Dan Hunt

If politics is a numbers game then evidence is gathering which shows how misguided the Labour party’s attempts to straddle the electoral fence truly are.

A Labour party intent on waving Brexit bills through parliament in a misguided attempt to preserve the notional ‘will of the people’ at the expense of principled opposition is now leaking members. The dramatic surge of Corbynista enthusiasm which saw party membership top 500,000 last year is now looking more like a freak high water mark than a prolonged shift in progressive politics as has been claimed.

A report in the Guardian details how Labour party membership is on the decline as record numbers of members fall into arrears whilst others simple don’t renew when the time comes.

For the Liberal Democrats, these internal fluctuations of a rival’s fortunes matter enormously. Those people who are leaving Labour in disillusionment are the people who will help us continue our fightback. These former Labour members either are, or were, politically engaged and likely to hold views that can be broadly defined as progressive. While accepting that these are wide generalisations, the trends of the last 2 years which saw the surge in Labour party membership would seem to support them. You have to be engaged to sign up to any political party and the Corbyn revolution was publicised as a progressive one, no matter what one’s views on the validity of such statements. 

These people, maybe as many as 80,000 of them, represent an opportunity for the Lib Dems. Engage them and a new core of engaged members are available to help us win votes at the next general election. And bear in mind that may not be too far away.

The Lib Dems can offer genuine leadership on the biggest topic of our generation. Our position on Brexit is clear and our experience of coalition government has shown what a difference a liberal party in power can make. As Theresa May lurches further right in her bid to appease Dacre and her restive Brexit-loving backbenchers, the clear benefits of the liberal softening of Tory policies becomes ever clearer.

So, it is up to us, existing party members, to capture this moment. As support ebbs away from Labour we must be ready to reach out to these people and offer them a home. We can offer them  a place where decency, common sense and genuinely progressive views are valued. We can give them a space where talk of holding the government to account is not dismissed blithely with the catch all ‘will of the people’ nonsense, but recognised as the duty and right of every person in this country who values our future prosperity.

It’s time for us to reach out clearly and confidently. The best place to fight for a decent future is here.

* Dan Hunt is a member of the Liberal Democrats

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The economic horror in Venezuela continues to unfold–the Bolivarian socialists have achieved the entirely remarkable feat of making Cubans flee the country in search of a better life. Seriously, Cubans, from a poverty stricken socialist dictatorship are now leaving an oil rich nation in search of a better life. It takes a serious level of economic mismanagement to achieve that. That serious level being exactly the one thing that Venezuela has lots of, of course. So much so that Nicolas Maduro has just appealed to the United Nations to come and organise the supply of medicines for the country. This being something that normal places can manage on their own and usually rather well too.

The cause of all of this is that Maduro, and his predecessor Chavez, decided that the way to run an economy was to do everything that the textbooks say you shouldn’t do to an economy:

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked for help from the United Nations to boost supplies of medicine.
Mr Maduro said the UN had the expertise to normalise the supply and distribution of drugs in the country.
Venezuela’s Medical Federation said recently that hospitals had less than 5% of the medicines they needed.
The president blames the problems on an economic war against his government and the sharp fall in oil prices.

There is indeed an economic war going on here. And it’s one being waged by the Bolivarian socialists against the Venezuelan population. The tactic is simply to destroy the price system and thus the market. Given that non-market economies do not work this ensures the destruction of Venezuela’s economy.

Since Hugo Chavez first took over in 1999, Venezuela has mostly relied on workers from Cuba (which at some point numbered 100,000 in-country, including doctors and nurses) to manage its health-care system. However, that decades-long experiment has largely failed — so much so that the government needs to ask the U.N. for help. More than half of the Cuba-manned CDI first-response centers, located mostly in Venezuela’s worst “barrios” (slums) have been closed and the Cuban doctors fled Venezuela for better lives in other countries.

Yes, even the Cubans have left.

But just acknowledging that Venezuela needs outside help is a telling sign of how far the nation sitting atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves has fallen under Maduro.

To give an example of the economic lunacy under way:

A gasoline shortage in OPEC member Venezuela was exacerbated by an increase in fuel exports to foreign allies such as Cuba and Nicaragua and an exodus of crucial personnel from state-run energy company PDVSA, according to internal PDVSA documents and sources familiar with its operations.

You’ll not be surprised to hear that Cuba and Nicaragua do not pay market prices for that fuel. Even when there’s a domestic shortage and Venezuela is itself desperate for cash.

Long time readers will note that I continually harp on about this Venezuelan disaster. And there’s a reason for this. It is purely and solely because the economic policy in that country is so absurdly bad. This hasn’t been caused by the oil price decline, not by the Gringos attacking the revolution, it has all happened simply because of the actions of that domestic government. And yet there are all too many people who were cheering them on. Like David Sirota:

No, Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results.

Or Mark Weisbrot:

There are a number of distortions and problems with Venezuela’s economy – including recurrent shortages – and some of them have to do with the management of the exchange rate system. But none of these problems presents a systemic threat to the economy, in the way that – for example – real estate bubbles in the US, UK, Spain and other countries did in 2006. Those were truly unsustainable imbalances that made an economic collapse inevitable.

Despite the wishful thinking that is over-represented in the media, Venezuela’s economy will most likely grow for many years to come, so long as the government continues to support growth and employment.

There are many others who have cheered them on too, Owen Jones comes to mind for example. The reason for the cheering being that Chavez and then Maduro were indeed violating all the tenets of that hated neoliberalism. And the reason we’ve got to keep reminding people of all this is because those neoliberal tenets are such for a reason. They’re the rules by which an economy works. Economies which do not follow those rules do not work. Thus the available space for political or economic reform is limited. And that’s the thing that we’ve got to keep pounding into people like Sirota, Weisbrot and Jones. We must have a market economy because non-market economies do not work. Sure, we can then have a near laissez faire market economy like Hong Kong, or a more tax and redistribution heavy market like the Nordics, but we do have to have a market economy otherwise we’ll end up with no economy at all, like Venezuela.

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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