[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Mary Reid


The Guardian has an interview with Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor.  After disclaiming any responsibility for the cold that has afflicted all the candidates, she says this about her campaign:

Overall, it’s gone well. Ordinary people are saying they like what I’m saying on childcare and cheaper fares that are affordable. And that’s not just in places where we are strong, like Sutton, or in Bermondsey, where I’m known.

She says this of her two main rivals, Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan and the dirty campaign they have been running:

I think both of them, but particularly Zac, will wish they hadn’t done it. It’s damaged their reputations. Zac has always been seen by most people as a decent kind of guy.

On the doorstep voters are still confused about the voting processes for the London elections – and that is not surprising because they will be presented with three ballot papers, each using a different voting system.

Every household in London has been sent a booklet from London Elects – running to 32 pages – which carries profiles of the Mayoral candidates and explains how to cast votes in the Assembly elections.

The first (pink) ballot paper is for London Mayor, and has two columns, one for the voter’s first choice and one for the second choice. This uses the supplementary vote system, which although appearing very similar to the alternative vote method (which we all know everything about, don’t we?) actually has a sting in the tail. The second preference only kicks in if no candidate achieves more than 50% in the first round. The second round eliminates all candidates apart from the top two, so second preferences for anyone other than the top two will be discarded.

Of course, we are encouraging people to vote for Caroline Pidgeon as their first preference. But if she is not elected then voters’ second preferences are quite crucial in determining whether, say, Sadiq Khan or Zac Goldsmith.

The second (yellow) ballot paper is for the London constituency member. London has been divided into 14 rather large constituencies, each covering several parliamentary constituencies. Each of these will return an Assembly member using First Past the Post.

The Assembly is then topped up with 11 more London-wide members. They are elected through a list system which aims at getting proportional representation across the whole Assembly. The third (orange) ballot paper, gives a choice between party lists and a few independents. The Lib Dem list has been labelled ‘Caroline Pidgeon’s London Liberal Democrats’.

The London list is very significant for our party because all of our Assembly members in the past have been elected from this list. Last year London Lib Dems were able to vote for the list candidates – under STV, of course – and at the top of the list we find Caroline Pidgeon, Emily Davey, Merlene Emerson and Rob Blackie.

London Lib Dems are trying to get across the simple message ‘Vote orange on orange’, but even that is not straightforward because the so-called orange ballot paper has turned out to be more of a shade of peach.


* Mary Reid is the Monday Editor on Lib Dem Voice.

[personal profile] rmc28
Sooner or later, everything leaks out and animals get to hear what others think about them.

(Apologies for missing two weekends in a row; today is technically still a weekend for me.)

[This post is part of my Watership Down read through. You are welcome to join in at any time; please read my introduction post first.]

birguslatro: Birgus Latro III icon (Default)

Made In Australia

May. 2nd, 2016 11:43 pm
[personal profile] birguslatro
It looks pretty certain the bitcoin creator has been found...


And like Wikileaks, it's not all that surprising it's come out of Australia. Bunch of larrikins!

How to knock up voters on Facebook*

May. 2nd, 2016 10:55 am
[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

Facebook voting Lib Dem event

It’s polling week. So what better time to remind Lib Dem-leaning friends and relatives to vote?

Here’s a super simple way to do that: just share this Facebook event with them. Facebook will then sort all the details about notifying them and reminding them on the day.



* No jokes about Americans and the English language please.

[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Yes, OK, it’s election season and so we’re going to be treated to political rhetoric and a startling absence of decent economics. But Donald Trump’s claim that China is raping America is simply absurd and the claim must be treated as the nonsense that it is. China happens to be producing things that American consumers desire to have. That’s as unlike the vile and foul crime of rape as it is possible to get. Being offered what you want at a price you wish to pay simply is not comparable to forced penetration: no, not even in the wilder reaches of election season political rhetoric and the wider economic nonsenses so often spouted in this season.

But that is the comparison that Donald Trump offers us:

Donald Trump on Sunday compared the U.S.’s trade deficit with China, which he regularly laments and vows to tackle as president, to rape.

No, I’m sorry, this is just nonsense. But this really is what he’s saying as this clip shows:

The greatest theft in the world?

He upped the ante on Sunday at a rally in Indiana.

“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he told a crowd in Fort Wayne. “That’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”

It’s just very difficult indeed to think of people doing exactly as you desire them to do as being theft. Nor is he correct on this point either:

Trump has repeatedly attacked China’s trade policy, claiming the country’s currency devaluation would “suck the blood out” of America.

And Trump prefaces those remarks with an insistence that something must be done about all of this:

“We’re going to turn it around. And we have the cards, don’t forget it. We’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We have the cards. We have a lot of power with China,” CNN quoted Trump as saying at his second rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Sunday.

To deal with the first misunderstanding: China as a currency manipulator. Well, yes, yes it is. Currently the country works very hard to keep the value of the yuan up. Yes: up. It does this by insisting that Chinese citizens may not freely transfer their own personal wealth out of the country. If there was a proper free market in the yuan or renminbi then the standard calculations from the likes of the World Bank are that the value would fall against the US dollar. The actions of the Chinese government thus make exports from China into the US more expensive than they would be, make US exports to China cheaper than they otherwise would be. Exactly the opposite of what The Donald is claiming. If China stopped manipulating then the trade deficit would likely widen.

Which brings us to the second and much more important misunderstanding. Which is that imports are the point and purpose of trade. We are not being attacked, raped, made poorer in any manner, by buying more goods from China than we sell to them. Quite the contrary: we are made richer by what we import.

Yes, it’s true, imports are recorded as a subtraction from GDP, exports as an addition to them. But this is simply a trick of national accounting, not a reflection of the underlying economic reality. Both Adam Smith and Frederic Bastiat tell us that the purpose of an economy is consumption. What we get to eat, wear, play with, travel in, is what determines how rich we are. Not how much we produce at all, but how much we can consume. Imports are an addition to what we can consume thus they make us richer.

Another way to approach the same point is to point out that exports are the result of our hard work that then go off to be enjoyed by foreigners. Imports are the result of the hard work of those Johnny Foreigners which we then get to enjoy. So, again, it’s the imports that make us richer. Because it’s the imports that we get to consume.

[personal profile] azurelunatic
* You do not do a smol summon to all the trickster gods you can dig up sigils for simultaneously and go "HAAAYYYY I'M A SEEKER" for similar reasons to why you do not post publicly to facebook, twitter, and 4chan simultaneously going "HAAAYYYY PARTY AT MY PLACE HERE'S THE ADDRESS" while @-ing a few choice contacts. That is how you get more infosec d00ds than you know what to do with on your lawn and hacking your launderizer; similarly, you don't necessarily want a certain redhead and a certain fan of well-targeted fruit to take up camp in your pineal gland without that you thought things through very, very carefully beforehand.

* I can, in fact, still use coffee as a divination aid.

* Does anyone know a deity or two who might be associated with shit sandwiches and/or lemonade? No, seriously. The deity who is your boon companion when you go "Well, this is certainly a shit sandwich that I have here!" and/or also the entity for "Welp, these are some lemons; I guess it's time to find a big pot and some sugar." Asking for a friend.

* Tumblr is great for creating new mythology. However, anything that tumblr says are true historical fax, double-check that with other sources.

* 90s web design is not an immediate disqualification for a pagan informational website. Presence of information which can be easily debunked via actually qualified historical sources, however...

* Libraries are a thing.

* Divination can be super helpful at some things, but when you're doing it for yourself, you're going to get a lot of internal noise from what you're wanting to happen. Thus, divination is a reasonable way to explore what you personally in fact actually want...

* For fuck's sake, do not get a tattoo on your actual body honoring Bacchus without thinking things through super carefully.

or, in other words...
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Jonathan Ferguson

Not long ago, I wrote a piece on how pacifists and non-interventionists might respond to the recent decision on foreign intervention.

Although, on balance, I don’t regret writing it, I am deeply dissatisfied with some aspects of my article. The feedback from a large number of people has been very helpful not only in helping me clarify my own views to myself, but also to think very carefully about matters of presentation and framing.

If I am reading them correctly, some commenters felt that my stance was not robust enough. My problematic reference to ‘maintain(ing) unity’ and worse still, to the purported risks of ‘irresponsible criticism’ (sic) could easily be read as conformist, condescending, authoritarian, or any combination of these things. Certainly, there were some poor choices of words.

I will acknowledge that as I only recently joined the Liberal Democrats, it is possible that I have a distorted view of the boundaries of criticism. Certainly, I would not wish to indulge in tone policing. I am as outraged at anyone else at the recent decision to go along with David Cameron and the self-styled ‘International Community’s’ self-serving crusade in the Middle East; the latest in a long line of cynical interventions.

I must confess I find it very hard to understand how people such as Tim Farron, who seem to be of generally good character, can support a policy; a policy foreordained to be yet another in the long line of ‘honest forerunners’ of ‘honest mistakes’ in UK foreign policy. (Perhaps I shall take the liberty of leaving to the reader’s discretion who gets to make honest mistakes, and who can only, by definition, make mass atrocities…)

But it is not enough to say that I feel uncomfortable with that aspect of my article. Perhaps the bigger question is: what am I going to do about it? How will I take a stance which is not merely whimsically contrarian, but is hard as nails; harder than the hobnailed leather and steel toe-caps of what the morally indifferent so callously name our ‘boots on the ground?’

Well, tomorrow I am going to speak in rather hard-headed (even hard-hearted!) terms about a central contradiction going on in the Liberal Democrats at the moment: the incompatible melange of pro-asylum seeker and pro-interventionist rhetoric and ideology.

* Jonathan Ferguson is a PhD student. His socio-economic views are progressive/left liberal, with strongly libertarian leanings on non-interventionism, privacy and freedom of speech.

supergee: (football)


May. 2nd, 2016 06:21 am
[personal profile] supergee
Back in the 60s, education radicals said that the school system was merely a matter of teachers telling the kids Revealed Truths and then grading them on how correctly they regurgitated those doctrines on an exam. Oversimplified, of course, but yesterday’s satire is today’s news, and we now have a perfect example.

The NFL draft has just concluded. Alleged experts told us who should draft whom, and now they are grading the teams. But of course, no one knows anything about how well the teams drafted until actual games are played. After the season, a preliminary evaluation can be made, but it’s probably best to wait several years. So the experts are grading the teams on how correctly they regurgitated what the experts told them.
[personal profile] tajasel
I received Dreamwidth points because I was using the domain forwarding feature and it's, for perfectly good reason, no longer available - and because I have a seed account, they couldn't just extend my subscription. But I don't think I have ever used points except to gift them to people either, so that's what I'm doing with these ones too.

If you are in need of DW points, or you know someone who is, please leave a (screened) comment here telling me who and as much as you feel comfortable saying about why ("I'm broke and really value DW's paid features" is a perfectly good reason!), and next Monday, I'll divide up the points between people who can use them better than me. I can't promise to give points to everyone, as I want to give enough to each person that they'll be useful, but I will do my best.
miss_s_b: (Default)

The Blood is the Life for 02-05-2016

May. 2nd, 2016 11:00 am
[personal profile] miss_s_b
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

It is time to congratulate President Maduro and his team in Venezuela once again. That startling success of Bolivarian socialism has meant that they are able to bring aid and succour to the poor of that country. Something to be welcomed of course and they have done this by being able to raise the minimum wage to $13.50. However, there is one small fly in this ointment, which is that this is not the hourly minimum wage. It is not even the daily minimum wage. This is, instead, a rise to $13.50 in the monthly minimum wage when we use the black market exchange rate which determines much to most of the consumption possibilities of the average Venezuelan.

Yes, we really should congratulate the team on the success of Bolivarian socialism. There are of course those who do not agree. One post here from a year ago received a comment insisting that really the minimum wage wasn’t the $20 I stated it was then but more like $150 today. But sadly this isn’t true.

We have the report of what this new minimum wage is in bolivars:

Minimum wage advocates here in the US have a long way to go before they match Venezuela President’s “generosity” to the working class.

On Saturday, President Nicolas Maduro announced a 30 percent hike in the minimum wage. That’s the 12th increase since Mr. Maduro became President.

That rise was timed to match up with International Labour Day of course, 1 May. You can see the consecutive rises in that minimum wage here. And the latest rise brings it to about 15,000 bolivars a month.

The official exchange rate is now (there are several in fact but this is the relevant one) 10 bolivars per $1 US. Which would make this new minimum wage a very healthy $1,500 US a month. Yes, I know, that doesn’t look all that great by US standards, not far above the poverty line for a single person and below it for a family, but the rest of the world is markedly poorer than the US in general. But that’s not the rate which determines actual living standards. The one that does that is the free market exchange rate, or the black market one if you prefer. We can get that from Dolartoday and as I write that’s about 1,115 bolivars to $1 US. Meaning that this calculation by AP is correct:

The new increase is effective Sunday, which is International Labor Day, and will push the minimum wage to 15,051 bolivars a month. That is about $1,500 at the official exchange rate, but is around $13.50 at the current black market rate, which largely sets prices of goods for Venezuelans.

True, these numbers are all rather confusing and also changing rather rapidly. Which is why AP had to issue a correction to their earlier report:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – In a story April 30 about (topic), The Associated Press reported erroneously that the black market value of the new wage is about $50. The black market value is about $13.50.

Even locally based journalists are having trouble wrapping their minds around that stunning success of Bolivarian socialism. Raising the minimum wage to as much as $13.50 a month.

As to how this happened it’s a simple story. Idiot economic policy is to blame. That idiocy coming in two parts, one in theory and the second in reaction to that theoretical mistake. The oil price crash hasn’t helped, to be sure, but that’s not the cause of this disaster. The theoretical mistake is to misunderstand how prices and markets work. To think that prices are just near random numbers applied to things which can be changed at will.

There’s nothing wrong or ignoble about desiring that the poor get a better shake of the stick. We may or may not agree that we should tax the rich a bit more to give more to the poor: but it’s not, up to quite significant levels, something that destroys an economy. The Nordics do quite eyewatering amounts of this and they’re entirely pleasant places to live. There’s not even anything very wrong with socialism itself, the collective ownership of productive assets. Law firms (owned by the partners), credit unions (owned by the depositors, called Building Societies in my native UK) and farmers co-ops (owned, obviously, by the farmers) are all socialist organisations and they don’t do any harm and work rather well in fact. It might be that a steel works, with its massive demand for capital, isn’t suited to a socialist ownership structure but there’s nothing wrong with the idea in and of itself.

However, markets and prices really do work. They’re not, those prices, just random numbers to be changed as we wish. They’re indications of the resources that have to go into producing whatever it is and also indications of how many people want how much of it. Thus we get to the concept of a market clearing price. Which is, by definition, the price at which enough people are willing to produce whatever it is to meet the demand at that very price. Arbitrarily trying to change prices might change the legal price but it does not change the market clearing one. Thus any move away from that market price produces shortages or gluts. Make the price of toilet paper less than the market clearing price and there’s nothing to wipe with. Make the price of labour higher than that market clearing one and some people can’t get a job. There simply are no exceptions to this. Price fixing causes shortages or gluts.

Seems logical

May. 2nd, 2016 08:11 am
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Previous EU law cases have established that prostitution constitutes self-employment.

So therefore you can’t do this:

A policy aimed at deporting “high-harm” EU-national criminals and those not entitled to remain in Britain is to be challenged by Romanian sex workers who maintain they are self-employed.

Although freedom of movement is guaranteed within the European Union, the right to stay – after the first three months – is dependent on new arrivals “exercising their treaty rights”, for example, by working or studying.

Operation Nexus, a combined police and immigration initiative involving sharing intelligence, has been targeting foreign offenders and those suspected of breaking the law since 2012.

Among those detained and served with deportation papers are an increasing number of women from eastern Europe who have been working on the streets and in premises across London and Manchester. Many do not have convictions.

Blogging Against Disablism Day

May. 2nd, 2016 07:29 am
[syndicated profile] lib_dem_voice_feed

Posted by Holly Matthies


As well a day for dancing around maypoles or celebrating workers and labour, the first of May is Blogging Against Disablism Day.

As explained on the blog of the person who started it, “This is the day where all around the world, disabled and non-disabled people blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination (known as disablism or ableism).  In this way, we hope to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we’ve made.”

There’s an example of disablism in a recent Lib Dem Voice article by Henry Foulds. He says he was told “by a senior activist that I should crop my cane from campaign photos or somehow hide it, I was horrified. I stumbled over my response and changed the subject. I’ve since explained to them that disability is nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of.”

It might seem like such a small thing compared to, say, the hazardous effect of Department of Work and Pensions cuts to benefits and services for disabled people. But both big and small injustices are based on the same problems at the core of our thinking, and we call those problems disablism.

In a funny way, I think this kind of disablism is trying to save us from another kind of disablism: we still live in a world where plenty of people think disability is either a tragedy to be pitied or a weakness to be wary of. And faced with a world where disability makes people think less of you, pretending not to be disabled can seem a lot easier than dismantling the structures of society that unfairly disadvantages disabled people.

I know people mean well but we need to think about why anyone would advise a candidate that they would do better with the white cane (or wheelchair, or any sign of disability) cropped out of their photos. We need to think about why disabled people are an easy target for government cuts and public animosity. We need to think about why disabled people have trouble finding, staying in and progressing at work … it’s not that we’re all lazy scroungers.

We need to think about why I worry when using my white cane that people will notice I have some sight and think me a faker. Wheelchair users who can so much as stand up face sarcasm, threats and even physical assaults because they’re thought to be “faking,” when instead a disablist society refuses to understand that many wheelchair users can stand or walk for short periods in certain circumstances, just as 85% of blind people can see something, even if it’s just the difference between light and dark.

I think we’ve all been guilty of disablism of one form or another. I know I have, not just about other conditions I know nothing about but even towards myself and others with vision impairments. I cringe when I think of how willingly I subscribed to disablism when I thought it benefited me because I was “pretty sighted for a blind person.”

But my sight hasn’t changed at all: just my attitude to it. But I try not to be too hard on my younger self, I try instead to resist disablism wherever I find it, and that’s all I ask of my fellow Lib Dems: in your local party meetings, in the policies you write, in your campaigning, in work with your constituents.

Including disabled people won’t just give you a warm fuzzy feeling or a few brownie points: I’m constantly saying things about my experiences navigating the world that make the friends I’m telling them to say “oh, yeah, I never thought of that.” Of course they didn’t; there’s no way they could if they don’t “see” the world like I do. Diversity brings perspectives that you can’t get any other way.

* Holly Matthes is a Liberal Democrat activist in Manchester who has both worked in and used mental health services.

[syndicated profile] crooked_timber_feed

Posted by John Quiggin

Making the case against militarism is very reminiscent of climate denial whack-a-mole. Demolish one spurious argument, and you’re immediately presented with another. For example, my post showing that the economic benefits of “keeping sea lanes open” could not justify more than a trivial proportion of current naval expenditure, got hardly any substantive responses (apart from tiger-repelling rocks), but a great many saying “what about the pirates?”.

I’ve done the numbers on this one, and they look pretty clear-cut. There are a bunch of estimates on the web of the annual cost of piracy ranging from $1 billion to $16 billion a year.

This seems implausibly high. The amount actually stolen by pirates or paid as ransoms is far smaller, less than a billion a year at its peak, AFAICT. Looking in detail, there’s a fair bit of double counting here (both actual losses and the insurance premiums which offset them are counted, for example), and the high-end numbers typically include some estimate of the cost of naval deployments on anti-piracy patrols. In particular. Still, in the spirit of fair play, I’ll go with $15 billion a year as an upper bound.

Turning to the US Navy* budget, it’s currently just shy of $400 billion a year. That supports a fleet of 272 “deployable battle force” ships, implying an annual cost of $1.5 billion per ship. So, the annual cost of piracy is the same as the cost of about 10 ships. To put it another way, reducing the fleet by one ship, and scaling down anti-piracy operations accordingly would have to increase global piracy by 10 per cent to yield a loss to the global shipping industry greater than the savings to the US (I leave aside the question of why the global shipping industry is such an important recipient of US foreign aid).

Having played military whack-a-mole many times before I can anticipate the responses in my sleep. So, I’ll open the comments threads, resist the temptation to take part, and whack the inevitable moles in a later post.

  • The US spends more than other developed countries, but I don’t think the others get any more ship for their shilling, capability-adjusted.
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

Restaurants could be stopped from adding a discretionary service charge to bills under Government plans to remind consumers that they do not have to tip when eating out.

Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, is today launching a consultation on tipping amid concerns that restaurants are confusing customers by not being transparent about the charges and who actually receives any tips.

One option under consideration is to prevent restaurants “from suggesting any specific discretionary payments” to make it an “opt-in decision” for customers.

Many restaurants add a 10 or 15 per cent service charge to their bills. Ministers are concerned that this often leads to “double tipping” because customers do not notice that they have already paid a service charge before leaving cash for their waiter.

A service charge is not a tip: a tip is not a service charge.

A service charge (“10% has been added to your bill”) is the property of the business, the company. It is subject to VAT, can be distributed absolutely however the management want and if it goes to staff pays income tax and both sets of NI.

A tip is a tip. It belongs to the waiting staff and to them only. It is not subject to VAT, it pays income tax and neither set of NI.

They are very different things. They are legally distinct as shown by the difference in taxation. So if people are going to discuss this issue then they need to understand what the fuck they’re talking about.

The “suggested service charge” you sometimes see on a bill is, legally, a tip. Because you can say that you don’t want to pay it. And so, you don’t. That puts it into that tip legal category, not the service charge one.

synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)

An absolute shitpot of pots

May. 1st, 2016 11:31 pm
[personal profile] synecdochic
So, a week or so ago, there was massive confusion over our stuff that was put on the shelf to be glaze fired at Clayworks -- I won't recap it here, but it basically involved us being taught wrong in the winter class without being told that we shouldn't do it that way in the future and as a result we put our pieces on the shelf for cone 6 firing instead of ^10 firing -- but thankfully, the kiln tech caught it and moved things to the right shelf. We collected the results tonight, and it all looks great! (Except for one of my mugs, but that was not firing error, it was glazer error. Heh.)

The whole shebang:

Closeup of each of the pots + glazing notes )
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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