Saturday, 10 October 2015

"Führer as four-day OktoberFest London festival is Kanzlered"

From The Daily Mail.

Friday, 9 October 2015

"Traffic lights go out at Beverley's Grovehill junction – and flow improves"

From Hull Daily Mail:

The 42 traffic lights which control the new junction – dubbed the “red light district” – went out this morning.

Grovehill Road resident Anita Tomlinson said: “The traffic has been flowing very well since the lights went out, it’s flowing like it used to do when it was just a roundabout.

“I had wondered myself what would happen if all 42 lights went out but drivers are being very careful, they are seeing what is going on and so far it appears to be flowing well.”

This will be no surprise to anybody who's already seen what happens when traffic lights are turned off, and most of us have.

Might Want to Do Your Research, Polly

From the Guardian

A star was born as glorious Bake Off ended last night with the victory of Nadiya Hussain. Expect a million Nadiya baking books to sell before Christmas. Yet again, the BBC has surged ahead with an unexpected phenomenon that no commercial TV company would have bothered with in prime time. Until, that is, it became a hit – and that’s when BBC-haters pile in to say they shouldn’t be doing such popular stuff – leave it to the market.

So, a show with multiple contestants, baking cakes, with multiple different rounds, with a contestant eliminated after each stage, and a male and a female judge? That sounds totally original and not at all like Cupcake Wars on the Food Network:-

The show is similar to successful Chopped cooking show aired on the same network, in that it starts with four contestants who are eliminated one-by-one in three rounds

The show invites cupcake bakers from all over the United States to compete.

There are three judges in the series, with two of them serving as permanent judges:

All hail the BBC. Providing slightly stretched out versions of cable TV cookery shows, and funded by threats of violence.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

National Poetry Day

Reading a bit about this and the BBC thing. It occurs to me that we kinda dropped poetry when recorded music came along and you could have songs on demand from your gramophone/tape deck/CD player/iPod/iPhone. Leonard Cohen was a poet who became a singer/songwriter. In an earlier age, he would have been a poet.

Of modern stuff, I like John Cooper Clarke's stuff, but it's all in the delivery (Not Safe for Work)

Simon Walker: Chairman of the Institute of Rent Seeking Parasites,

From an article entitled "Entrepreneurs will reap the rewards of business rates change", Simon Walker, Top C**t at the Institute of Directors writes, "Ask a small business what bothers them most on a daily basis, and it won’t be long before they raise the dreaded spectre of business rates. For many small businesses, it’s of more concern than corporation tax (a tax on companies’ profits the rate of which depends on the amount of profit)."

This is the Poor Widows in Mansions argument, but even more pathetic as it's made in defense of businesses clinging to the security blanket of imputed rent.

Firstly Walker ignores that taxing profit IS the tax on business. The better you are at making a profit, the more you get penalised for doing so. Walker appears to think this is fair compared to paying the fixed cost of rent.

Secondly, even Walker must know his point is only relevant to owner occupiers. It makes no odds to tenants if they are sweating over paying their rent to a private landlord or the Council. Yet, Top C**t Walker chooses to gloss over that pretty important point.

Thirdly, Walker chooses to ignore the role of rent in allocating valuable location and fixed capital. Rent is the market's way of saying, that one Capitalist is prepared to pay X amount to exclude others from using those resources.

If  businesses are sweating if they can pay the rent or not, this shows the market is working as it should. Efficiently.  If they cannot turn a profit and lose that premises to someone else, that is a GOOD THING.

It's truly ironic that a Lefty like Carol Wilcox at the Labour Land Campaign is more of a hardcore capitalist than the IoD and TaxPayers Alliance.

In their joint policy document cited by Walker in the article " 2020 Tax Commission" they recommend scrapping  property taxes in favour of locally collected sales taxes.

Why? Because they do not want competition. Paying Business Rates puts owner occupiers in direct competition with renters. VAT provides a barrier to entry for small businesses.

The members of the IoD and Chambers of Commerce don't care if this shrinks GDP. It protects their shareholders interests and their place on the board.

For Walker to invoke entrepreneurism as the beneficiary for cuts to UBR is sickening. It's no good blaming the politicians. They just do whatever the fake-Capitalists tell them to.

They own land! Give them Crossrail!

From City AM:

THE ARRIVAL of Crossrail is set to bring a £2.45bn boost to the West End by 2020 as thousands more visitors pour into central London, new research shows.

The New West End Company (NWEC), which represents 600 businesses, said annual turnover for its retailers is predicted to hit £11.25bn just two years after completion of the new high-speed rail link, compared with £8.8bn today.

Oxford Street will retain the lion’s share of consumer spending at £6.15bn, followed by Regent Street at £1.88bn, and Bond Street at £1.44bn, according to research conducted by retail property consultancy Harper Dennis Hobbs for the NWEC.

Crossrail is expected to cost [the taxpayer] £15 billion.

This has lifted land prices near stations all along the route of course, but (as I have shown before), the uplift in rental values between Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street (which already has the highest location values in the whole of the UK and possibly the whole world) alone would just about enough to pay for the whole thing (assuming half of that extra turnover goes into higher rents and those extra rents were collected in tax).

For sure, there is an element of beggar-my-neighbour. In the short term, the uplift in the west end will be partly offset by declining rental values for retail premises elsewhere. However, those other retail premises can then be used for something else (offices, residential) so the effect is only short term.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

They own land, give them money

From the FT

George Osborne announced the biggest shift in financial control from Whitehall to town halls in decades, pledging that local areas will fully benefit from growth in their business rates in the latest phase of his devolution “revolution”.

The chancellor on Monday said he would overhaul the system of local government finance introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1990, vowing that he would also give councils the power to cut — but not raise — business rates, a uniform tax on the value of business premises.

It's not hard to see where the Tories are going on this one: give the local authorities the power to cut business rates and they will do it, eager to attract businesses to their "low rate area". No doubt businesses will come, lured by the promise of paying less in business rates, but wait. Almost immediately the price of commercial land will rise in these low-rate boroughs. So also will the rents on premises to let. Then rent review by rent review, the commercial rents will rise to the point where the entire saving in rates is absorbed by additional land costs. The net result will be that landlords will have more tenants and higher rents and the local authority, if it is lucky, will find that the increase in business might just about pay for the rate cut.

I think it's called "bait and switch".

"David Cameron vows 'assault on those in poverty' in conference speech"

From the BBC:

David Cameron has vowed to devote much of his time in office to "an all-out assault on those in poverty" in his speech to the Conservative Party conference.

The prime minister, who will stand down before the next election, said he wanted to combat "people with deep social problems" and boost downwards social mobility.

Mr Cameron said he wanted his time in power to be remembered as a "defining decade for our country.. the turnaround decade... one which people will look back on and say, 'that's the time when the tide turned… when people no longer felt the current was working with them but going against them'."

"Reading and writing is eroding human memory"

From the BBC, some time in the late Middle Ages:

An over-reliance on using maps and reference books is weakening people's memories, according to a study.

It showed many people jotted things down and referred to them later instead of memorising information. Many adults who could still recall their childhood friends' birthdays could not remember birthdays of people they met later in life. There is an alarming trend of people using 'shopping lists' to remind themselves what they wanted to buy.

Maria Wimber from the University of Birmingham said the trend of looking up information which people had first written down "prevents the build-up of long-term memories". The study, examining the memory habits of 6,000 adults in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, found more than a third would turn first to written sources to recall information.

The UK had the highest level, with more than half "looking in the Encyclopaedia, parish records or maps for the answer first". Ms Wimber gave the telling example of a parish priest who read out loud from The Bible instead of learning the relevant passage by rote.

Theresa may have a point,

From the BBC:

[Theresa May] also said high migration made a "cohesive society" impossible.

Fair enough, you might think. That is just simply a statement of fact. We could argue about the word 'impossible' or point out that 'cohesiveness' is not an either-or thing i.e. high immigration merely reduces cohesiveness by a few per cent on some arbitrary scale, but hey.

(And as a Home Secretary, she is probably just as useless as most of the Home Secretaries we've had before, but that is irrelevant here.)

There was the inevitable outpouring of wailing about this. But why? You might not like it, you might wish it were not so, you might say that this is only because British people are racist (they're not). I am not aware that Theresa May said she liked this state of affairs. But that doesn't stop it being true.

Taking a longer passage from the article, you can see that she even threw in a bit of the usual PC crap:

Mrs May also said refugees should not be "conflated" with economic migrants.

Why not? A refugee is somebody fleeing a war or disaster zone to the nearest safe country, not somebody who has made the decision to travel half way across the world to somewhere that's considerably wealthier than the nearest safe country.
Disclaimer: I like foreigners. I'm half German and my wife is from a distant Commonwealth country. Many of our friends are mixed-race or mixed-nationality couples/families. But I like individual foreigners, those who try and fit in, you can have all sorts of interesting conversations with them, but I do not particularly like large groups of foreigners walking round like they owned the place and trying to impose their rules on us.