It's kinda sad when political gridlock is the best you can hope for!
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In one of the least surprising pieces of news about the Liberal Democrat candidate selections for a possible early general election, the party’s newly appointed EU spokesperson, Nick Clegg, has been reselected in Sheffield Hallam:
I am really proud to have been selected again to run as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Sheffield Hallam.
Nationally the country is in crisis. Both the Conservatives and Labour are focused entirely on in-fighting while the economy worsens, threatening jobs, public services and our efforts to build the houses Britain so badly needs.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to protecting Britain’s role in the heart of Europe and have committed to fighting a future General Election on that platform.
The Conservatives have destroyed their reputation for economic competence with this reckless EU referendum. Labour has given up even trying to speak to the British people, and is engaged in a vicious fight with itself. We, meanwhile, are selecting candidates in key seats.
Only the Liberal Democrats are an open, optimistic and united party committed to spreading opportunity for the next generation and focus on re-building the British economy to protect jobs and services.
If you’d like to be notified by email when further posts about Liberal Democrat selections appear on this blog, just sign up here. (Note: if you’re already signed up for a daily email alert with all my new blog posts, then there’s no need to sign up for these alerts too as the stories will also be in the full daily digest.)
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A transwoman has been caught trying to take photos of a woman in a Target dressing room, leading to a lot of handwringing over whether or not Target was right to institute trans-friendly policies in the past year, and whether or not the entire population of transgender people should be blamed.
But as usual, let’s look at the facts because they’re way more interesting than losing our minds and grabbing our pitchforks. Also I don’t even own a pitchfork because it’s 2016 and I live in a city without easy access to hay bales.
Target has been in the news for instituting a trans-friendly policy for their bathrooms, basically just saying, “look, you don’t need to show your long-form birth certificate to pee in a Target bathroom,” which I think is a quite sensible policy.
But this crime occurred in a dressing room, and a unisex dressing room at that. Target has had unisex dressing rooms for about the last decade. Unisex dressing rooms, by definition, allow people of any gender to use them. So this clearly isn’t a case of a man pretending to be trans in order to take creep shots of women, since in this dressing room even men pretending to be men could do that.
It’s also not evidence that transwomen are in any way creepier than the population at large. Cis-men invented creep shots, for god’s sake, and then they invented subreddits to collect them on for easier sharing, and then when those got banned they invented new subreddits that were poorly concealed versions of the old creepshot subreddits.
Does that mean we should ban unisex dressing rooms and bathrooms? No! It means we should, as a society, make a stand for all people’s right to privacy and not celebrate creepshot subreddits or leaked celebrity nudes whether they’re male, female, or other. And it means that people who are caught violating people’s privacy should be prosecuted whether they’re trans or not.
Finally I’d just like to add that I am 100% against gender segregated dressing rooms. Not only does it make it more difficult for transgender people to perform the simple act of making sure their damn clothes are going to fit, but it also means I can no longer go to department store dressing rooms located in the men’s section on weekends where there’s almost guaranteed to be less of a line. This has been my habit for the past 20 years and I’m not about to change it because one asshole doesn’t respect personal boundaries.
This is an interesting little tale which illustrates the other side of the minimum wage story. Around here at least the standard side is that when you raise the price of something people buy less of it. Increase the minimum wage and employers will economise on minimum wage labour. This is a terribly simple point and yet people will twist themselves into ever more improbable positions to try to deny it. However, today’s part is about the other side of the story. Raise the price of something through legislation and more people will be willing to supply it. If we pass a law that apples are $2 each and no kidding then apple trees will spring up in every suburban garden and we’ll be buried under a glut of fruit that no one wants to buy at that price but people are absolutely delighted to sell if only they could find a buyer. The same really does happen with labour too as California is showing us:
Defying critics of new state regulations, California continued to pad its hefty payrolls in June. Employers added a net 40,300 jobs over the month, the state reported Friday.
But unemployment in California increased to 5.4%, from 5.2% in May. The national unemployment rate also ticked up, to 4.9% in June from 4.7% in May.
More Californians entered the job market in June, which probably explains why the jobless rate increased even though the state added a healthy number of new positions.
“The improvement in the labor market is pulling more people in,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. June is generally a volatile month, said Vitner, because schools let out and some younger workers begin looking for summer jobs.
Well, no, not really, the school let out is not the cause here. Because these are the numbers adjusted for seasonal factors. And yes, school letting out is a seasonal factor, it has been happening at about the same time each and every year for some time now. As is laid out here:
In California, the estimated number of people with jobs in June was 18,078,000, down 4,000 from May but up 308,000 from June of last year. The number of unemployed Californians was 1,022,000 in June, up 27,000 from May, but down 160,000 from June of last year. Last June, the state unemployment rate was 6.2 percent.
All these numbers are seasonally adjusted to smooth out hiring binges and busts such as a decline in construction employment during the winter and an increase in holiday hiring.
On a non-adjusted basis, the state unemployment rate jumped a full percentage point — to 5.7 percent in June from 4.7 percent in May.
So, let us add one more thing:
On July 1, 14 U.S. cities, states and counties, plus the District of Columbia, will raise their minimum wage in a mid-year burst that reflects the legislative momentum to boost pay floors across the country while federal legislation stalls.
In total, the minimum wage will rise in 15 places: two states – Maryland and Oregon, plus Washington, D.C., Los Angeles County, Calif., and 11 cities. That includes Chicago, eight cities in California and two in Kentucky, according to a new analysis by the right-leaning Employment Policies Institute.
Both the earlier pieces are stating that the higher wages have called more labour supply into the market. Which is fine, no problems with that at all. Yet unemployment is defined those looking for a job but cannot find one. Thus an increased labour supply at this higher labour rate leads to more unemployment.
As we’ve been saying all along an increase in the minimum wage does lead to an increase in unemployment.
One of the great arguments going on within economics currently is the extent to which occupational licensure is basically screwing up the American economy. There’s people like me who simply hate it anyway and so will blame it for anything. There’s more considered economists who think that with 30% of all jobs in the US economy now requiring a licence then this is obviously going to limit both geographical and occupational mobility of labour. Then there’s those who don’t think so. There’s even those like Jaron Lanier who think that we should have even more such licensing in order to “protect the middle class” which is an absurdity of course. It’s that middle class which loses out by not being able to switch jobs or switch the location in which they perform them as a result of that licensure.
So, what we’d like is some lovely empirical studies which look at exactly this problem. And I have to say that I wouldn’t use nursing as my example. But that’s what has been done here:
Mr. Stange and his co-author, an Emory University economics professor, used data covering over 1.8 million nurses and other healthcare workers to see how they were impacted by their state’s joining the Nurse Licensure Compact. The NLC launched in 2000, gradually adding 25 member states in subsequent years, allowing the researchers to compare outcomes between states and over time. By comparing nurses with other healthcare workers, they controlled for other dynamics in a given state’s healthcare system or job market.
So, to set this up. We think that having state by state licensure means that people can’t or won’t move across state lines. Or not as much as a free market would allow that is. And that would be bad – that lack of geographic mobility is a reduction in the flexibility of the labour market due to the licensure. So, nursing is (rightly or wrongly) subject to a state licence. We would expect this to reduce cross state mobility of nurses. But when 25 (so far) states got together and decided to mutually recognise nursing qualifications what happened?
“We just don’t find a very big effect of eliminating these cross-state barriers on those kinds of outcomes,” said Mr. Stange.
Not a lot happened. So, collapse of the case that occupational licensure causes problems then?
Well, no, not really, I don’t think so. Because the nursing exam has long been conducted to a national standard. Switching state licences for a nurse is very much more (even if not entirely so) about getting the fact that the exam has been taken and passed in one state recognised in another. This is a difference in kind, not just degree, from much other licensure between states. There’s one state where to be a hairbraider requires some 2,500 hours of cosmetology training for example. Having qualified as a hair braider (the absurdity being that one should need to qualify to do such a thing in the first place) by, say demonstrating that one can in fact braid hair does not then provide you with that 2,500 hours of training in cosmetology as you cross the state line. But a nurse will have been trained roughly the same way to roughly the same exam whichever state he trained in.
Thus, yes, nursing does have state by state licensure. But it’s of a rather different kind than that which is really being complained about. Thus I wouldn’t have used it as the basis of an investigation into the effects of licensure.
As to what we actually do about this pernicious practice my own solution is simply to get Congress to invoke the Commerce Clause. Whether people can carry their qualifications across state lines is clearly an aspect of interstate commerce so Congress does have this power in my view. And simply state that all licences from any state to do anything are now valid in every state by definition. We could thus expect one or another state to “do a Delaware*” and churn out licences for hair braiding at $25 a pop and that would be an end to the problem. Nursing could still be better regulated but the plethora of trade protecting rather than consumer protecting regulation would be swept away by a fair old bit of freemarketry among the licensing bodies.
Works for me I have to say.
*As they do with corporations, give us some nominal sum and you can have a corporation.
The OECD has a new report out about how best to run a taxation system. This is a follow up to an earlier one which looked at the other aspect of how tax systems should be built. That “other” being of course that we have to look at two different things in the economics of a tax system. We want to look at the efficiency of it, how much do we have to give up in order to gain the tax revenue if we do it this or that way, and the equity of it, how fair or socially desirable is this method of doing it?
That earlier report from a few years ago told us that we should definitely be lowering corporate taxation and the taxation of returns from investment. Because such taxes have higher deadweight costs than other taxes – we lose more economic activity that doesn’t happen per unit of tax revenue than we do if we raise our revenue through labour or consumption taxes. Thus efficiency says minimise corporate and capital taxes. However, equity, which is discussed in this new report, is more equivocal. Because it might we be efficient that the billionaire plutocrats don’t pay taxes on the results of their rent seeking investments but tax systems which really operated that way would lead to bloody revolution soon enough. There’s a limit to how much economic efficiency in tax raising that people will put up with.
However, what the OECD does say isn’t quite what the Wall Street Journal says it does:
The Group of 20 has spouted the importance of “inclusive growth” for years without spelling out what it really means or how to generate it. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, at least, will be telling G-20 finance ministers in Chengdu, China, this weekend what it thinks it should mean for taxation: less of it on low-income workers and more on high-income shareholders.
The Paris-based think tank has just junked the conventional economic wisdom on tax it had been promoting for years. That old view said income from capital that individuals receive–such as interest, rents, and dividends–should be taxed much more lightly than wages and salaries.
“For the past 30 years we’ve been saying don’t try to tax capital more because you’ll lose it, you’ll lose investment. Well this argument is dead, so it’s worth revisiting the whole story,” Pascal Saint-Amans, the OECD’s tax chief, said in an interview.
Well, no, not quite. The report is here. And what it does say about taxing capital incomes is really very odd. For it insists that the major reason for lower rates is people evading tax by stashing money offshore. With the new arrangements coming into place to deal with such evasion then thus we can and should tax capital incomes more.
But the argument against capital taxation isn’t evasion – it’s avoidance. People avoiding capital taxation in a jurisdiction simply by dint of not investing there (or, perhaps, not investing at all and simply consuming the cash). And as international investment as a portion of all investment becomes an ever more important part of the global economy the argument is actually swinging around back the other way. We should be reducing capital taxation to reduce avoidance, not increase it because evasion is getting harder.
However, despite that error they are still insisting that US capital taxation needs to fall. Because:
As the return on equity is taxed at the corporate level, comprehensive tax
systems would have to provide relief for the CIT already paid through a dividend or full imputation
system. Imputation systems, however, typically only provide relief for the domestic CIT paid and not for
the CIT paid abroad – for these reasons, they may no longer be compatible with EU legislation – thereby
distorting investment patterns. Comprehensive taxation may also result in high overall tax rates on capital
income, which would lower savings and investment and may induce richer households to move to a lower tax
It might be, as they argue and I disagree, that capital income should be taxed at the same rate as labour income. But it most certainly shouldn’t be taxed at a higher rate. And yet in the US it is taxed at a higher rate. As they say, there should be in the tax system somewhere where the corporate income tax already paid by the company is taken into account when taxing the dividend or capital gains income of the investor. The British tax system does this albeit in a complicated manner. The US 15% dividend taxation brought in under George Bush attempts to do this, as does the long term capital gains tax rate. However, the addition together (you don’t quite just add the two tax rates but still…) of the current mixture of tax rates in the US means that capital income pays significantly higher top tax rates than labour income.
This is easiest to see when comparing the tax bills of equivalent streams of income from an S and a C corporation. It’s only the latter which pays the corporate income tax and then the investors pay the dividend tax. For the former everything is just under the personal income tax code. And the total tax bill on the C corporation revenue stream is significantly higher than it is on the S corporation one.
Agreed that the OECD is indeed arguing that (at least one of) the reasons for lower capital taxation no longer works in their estimation. I disagree with that. But what’s really interesting here is that even given that they’re still arguing that the US capital taxation is too high. Essentially, we should stop the double taxation of investor incomes from investment. My own suggestion for how to do that would be to simply ban altogether the corporate income tax then tax all incomes simply as incomes. That’s not efficient but is perhaps the best mixture of both efficiency and equity that we’re ever going to get.
The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners is this party’s foremost authority on local campaigning. They know how to win council seats and run councils like nobody else. A chance to work for them is a brilliant opportunity.
They run an internship scheme and are currently advertising for a campaigns and communications intern to work for them for a year from 1st September. Details are as follows:
This is a full-time role, paid at the UK National Minimum/Living Wage (currently £7.20 per hour for 25 year olds and over, and the applicable rate for under 25s) based at our offices in Manchester city centre.
ALDC is the national organisation for Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners. This is an exciting opportunity to be involved in the work of the organisation as we continue to build on the gains in this year’s local elections and by-elections.
The post is based at ALDC’s Manchester HQ, helping with our national campaigns output, our communications and social media, and also helping campaign ‘on the ground’ with two of our partner local parties in Greater Manchester (Oldham and Bury).
Successful candidates must have sympathy with the aims and values of the Liberal Democrats.
The deadline for applications is 10am on Wednesday 27th July 2016.
Interviews will take place in our offices on Wednesday 3rd August 2016 (travel expenses to attend the interview will be paid).
Applications by email, including a CV and a covering letter/email explaining why you think you would be suitable for the role to:
Campaigns & HQ Team Manager
by 10am on 27th July 2016.
You only have until Wednesday at 10am to apply so if this appeals, you’ll need to work fast. You won’t regret it.
Corbyn’s battle to hang onto his job, as we all know, will be decided by party members and others who’ve managed to become part of the “selectorate” for this crucial election.
What member polling there’s been suggests that he’s doing OK and has a clear lead over the contender, Owen Smith. The YouGov survey took place before Angela Eagle withdrew from the race and before 180k people signed up to vote on the £25 scheme.
It is also true to say that Owen Smith, an MP since only 2010, is relatively unknown and has a very low level of recognition amongst the general public and to a less extent those who will vote. That will change over the next seven or eight weeks but looking at the numbers we have Smith appears to have a big challenge on his hand. Corbyn loyalists are great enthusiasts and are desperately keen for their guy to continue.
But Corbyn’s backing is from the selectorate which is not representative of those who cote fore the party.
The pie chart shows the breakdown of 2015 LAB voters when asked if they were “satisfied or dissatisfied with way Corbyn is doing as LAB leader?”. That fewer than two in five of those who supported EdM’s party were ready to give him a positive rating speaks volumes. These are not the own party ratings of a man who is going to win a general election.
I’ve now come to the view that at 17/18% Smith is the value bet.
Latest Betfair LAB leadership has Owen Smith at a 17% chance which is now becoming a value bet. pic.twitter.com/FUuHUjKRpC
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) July 23, 2016
Alistair Carmichael writes for STV News about the Tories sneaking out the announcement about the closure of the Cedars facility:
It is the oldest trick in the parliamentary book. Slip out all the bad news on the last day when MPs are already looking out the Ambre Solaire and the flip flops. By the time the Commons returns in September the moment for protest will have passed and the pressure will be off.
Thursday’s clutch brought the usual mix of the good, the bad and the indifferent. And one more — the shameful. Buried in amongst announcements about schools funding, Ecofin and Armed Forces Pay Review Body appointments, there is one entitled “Cedars pre-departure accommodation”. It is a cosy-sounding title that betrays its true nature.
Cedars was the accommodation set up under the coalition government when implementing the commitment in the coalition agreement to end the detention of children for immigration purposes. It meant that children in families awaiting removal from the UK would no longer have to spend time in lock-down institutions.
Why should we treat children of asylum seekers less well than we would want our own to be treated, he asks.
The reference to the best interests of the children is significant. It is the test that our courts apply to any case involving the welfare of our own children. The message of this decision is a difficult to mistake: Children in our immigration system are somehow less worthy of protection than our own.
I recall visiting the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in Lanarkshire about ten years ago and seeing the facilities for families there. The education and health facilities were of a good standard and the staff running them were obviously dedicated and professional.
For all that, however, it was still a lock-down institution with razor wire on top of high walls. It was not a place where we would place our own children and I was proud to be a minister in the government that ended the practice.
He notes how vulnerable the people accommodated at Cedars were and has a message for all of us – we should be out there protesting its closure.
Those accommodated had health issues, including women whose mental health issues were exacerbated by female genital mutilation (FGM), risks to their children and domestic violence.
The Shaw Report also noted that up to half of those accommodated in Cedars were released rather than removed.
So yes, the numbers accommodated were low and the cost was high. The cost to these vulnerable children of putting them back in a lock-down institution is more difficult to quantify. There may well be some better, more cost-efficient way of achieving the same end but working that out, it would appear, is not worth the trouble.
Visiting the sins of the parent onto the child belongs in the Old Testament. It is no way for a civilised, developed, Western country to treat some of the most vulnerable children and families in our care. I suspect that the closure of Cedars will not bring out the protesters in their droves onto our streets.
That is a shame. A shame on us all.
You can read the whole article here.
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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.
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