Wednesday 31 July 2013

Twat Of The Day Two Years Ago

While clicking back and forth, I stumbled across a cretinous - not to mention rude - Home-Owner-Ist responding to a comment of mine on the ASI blog:

Mark Wadsworth: If you are going to count "below market" rents in social housing as a subsidy, then you also have to account for about twenty times as much in subsidies to owner-occupation.

literate3: There is no polite form of reply to a remark as stupid as that. I paid for my house out of my savings from my after-tax income.

The first sentence is just an insult, ignore that.

It is irrelevant how you raised the money to buy your house*, what you paid the previous owner was the value of the subsidy you expected to receive and when you sell it, you will be selling it for the value of the subsidy the net owner expects to receive/which you will have to forego. It's a Ponzi scheme.

The land value = the value of the future subsidy.

And I did not say that most people didn't pay for their houses in cash, I was pointing out what they were paying for, so he is throwing in a completely irrelevant factoid. It might more be pertinent to note that actually people pay off their mortgages out of the money they save on rent.

This bleating about "I bought my house out of taxed income" is a classic KLN and completely irrelevant, it's about as dumb as saying "I paid for my car out of taxed income, so the government should get everybody else to pay for the repairs."

So the second sentence is crap as well, which leaves us with precisely nothing.

Economic Myths: Building More Houses Will Make Them Cheaper

Matthew Lynn of Moneyweek has a go at the so called "Generation Y", today's young people.

If you read all the press coverage, you’d find it hard to believe life could get worse for Generation Y. The youngsters born in the 1980s and 1990s appear to have no end of problems – and not just trying to decide whether to buy the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S4.

They are stuck at home with their parents because they can’t afford overpriced houses. They are burdened with the cost of an education their parents got for free. There are few jobs available and they have to sweat as unpaid interns for years to get on the career ladder. And through taxes they have to subsidise their grandparents’ free bus passes and winter fuel allowances – even though the 60-somethings have more money than them.

But in reality, this generation has a much easier time of it than either Generation X or the Baby Boomers. And they in turn had easier lives than their parents back in the days before generations were alphabet-coded. That hasn’t stopped yet another report this week from laying out the problems faced by today’s 20-somethings. According to the National Housing Federation, a “jilted generation” is being created that can neither afford to buy a house, nor pay spiralling rents. More than 3.5 million young people will be living with their parents by the end of the decade, it argued.

but his solution to the problem outlined by the NHF is a persistent economic myth:

But if Generation Y wants to do something about this, it should campaign for the green belts around our major cities to be ripped up. If planning laws were relaxed, far more houses would be built immediately – lowering the cost of housing.

This is real man-in-the-pub, stands-to-reason stuff. Prices are high because there is high demand and low supply, put up the supply and prices will fall. Sounds reasonable, law of supply and demand and all that, but history shows that is not the case. The 70's in the UK were a time of unprecedented housebuilding. They were also a time of unprecedented house price rises. Prices in Spain and Ireland were unaffected by huge building booms.

What brought them down was a collapse of the credit supply. On the face of it, it seems counter-intuitive, that the price of houses should be controlled not by the supply of houses, but the supply of money, or, more specifically, credit. What Generation Y should be hoping for is not more housebuilding, but a rise in interest rates.

That will reduce the multiplier of annual income that is the maximum the lenders are willing to lend, which, in turn, will reduce the price of housing. Since interest rates can't go down much more without being negative, the only way for them to go in the long term is up.

Twat of The Day

From City AM Forum:

While I agree that business rates are crippling small businesses (1), there are practical solutions available. My company has just moved from Westminster to Battersea, and the savings we have made are fantastic. (2)

You can apply for small business rates relief from your local council, and look for tapered relief. Or check for a material change in circumstance when, for example, maintenance work alters the footfall outside your business. And check that you are extracting all the tax deductions from business development and structural alterations – are your premises capable of beneficial occupation? If not, apply for a rates holiday from your council.(3)

Andrew Edwards, AppleCapital Print Management

1) No they aren't.

This is Home-Owner-Ist propaganda. Business Rates themselves are only a tiny fraction of all the taxes which businesses have to pay - so it would be prefectly reasonable to argue that VAT and PAYE are killing business, for example, but not Business Rates - and Business Rates are in any event just part of the total occupation costs/rent.

When Business Rates are reduced then the rents which landlords demand go up £ for £ because the total rental value of any site remains exactly the same so the only person who loses out from Business Rates is the landowner. The bulk of what he is charging for is amenities provided by third parties anyway, it's not like he can take his land abroad or anything.

2) He would have stopped right there. Of course his f-ing Business Rates bill has gone down, his rent bill has gone down as well because rents are a lot lower in Battersea than in Westminster. D'oh!

3) The last part of his letter is all just guff and he doesn't appear to know what he is talking about anyway.

"Beneficial occupation" is not a particular kind of occupation, it is a term used to establish the person who is legally liable to pay the tax i.e. the actual occupier (whether tenant or owner) has "beneficial occupation" and if premises are vacant then clearly the absentee owner is entitled to occupy the premises and hence he is liable.

Clearly, if a building cannot be occupied then it has no rental value and so you get an exemption (which is why Site Value Rating would be better - it discourages owners from letting buildings fall into disrepair). So his use of the word "beneficial" was  superfluous at worst and misleading at best.

"Gun-owning private detectives with a history of domestic violence to face tighter regulations when cold-calling to advertise sun beds"

From the BBC, the BBC, the BBC and the BBC:

A regulator has called for more powers to stop unlicensed private detectives with a history of domestic violence from cold-calling gun-owners who are denied licences to operate a tanning salon, says the Home Office. Questions are being asked about the way the industry is working with figures suggesting that many young people are harassed on the telephone while trying to get that sun-kissed look after a firm which broke the rules was fined.

The regulator said that police in England and Wales should review a gun-owner's suitability to carry out telephone marketing, to put them in line with existing rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where local councils have powers to stop unregulated tanning parlours from investigating domestic violence incidents...

MPs earlier revealed that Tameside Energy Services, based in Denton, Manchester, was fined £45,000 for obtaining information illegally. Police know of law firms, insurance companies and celebrities who have used investigators to ask family members confidentially if they have concerns about an applicant for a tanning salon licence.

Ministers say they want to introduce the restrictions, including criminal record checks, by next year. The changes comes after a man from County Durham cold-called three members of his family and then investigated himself in 2012. The Information Commissioner received more than 1,000 complaints from people who had signed up to the Tanning Parlour Preference Service but were still threatened with domestic violence by owners of unregistered firearms.

If we say "Superfast and Unlimited" well, 'Superfast' means what we decide it means, and 'unlimited'

means 'of course we do apply limits' ... is the conclusion you might reach after reading this in the Register

Not that the ASA can prevent EE doing whatever it likes. The self-regulatory body has no teeth and just makes recommendations, though these are generally respected if only for fear that it will be replaced by a proper regulator.

"Well, transparency is one thing" says B of E spokesperson "but we didn't want to upset hard working, hard pressed families

who have one of these heavily advertised and strongly promoted 'bank with us and we'll reward you for depositing £1000 every month, aren't we just marvellous' type accounts ..."

Banks and building societies have since January knocked nearly £850m off the annual interest paid to savers, the Telegraph can disclose. The cuts coincide with banks making billions of pounds in profit in the first half of this year.

The clawback, buried in the details of a report published on Monday by the Bank of England, affects existing customers who hold easy-access savings accounts.

More than 750 cuts have been made to these accounts in just six months, despite the Bank of England Base Rate remaining unmoved at 0.5pc.

However, deeper analysis of the report exposes banks for hacking back the rates paid to loyal savers as well. These movements are made behind closed doors, never publicised and therefore rarely scrutinised.

The average rate on all easy access accounts is now just 0.97pc, down from 1.14pc in January, the figures show.

This is equal to a miserable £485 a year on each £50,000 of savings, compared with £570 in January - a reduction of around a sixth.

By shaving 0.17 percentage points off the return they pay loyal savers banks have been able to swell their coffers, as the lower outgoings free up cash to use in more profitable parts of the business. This is typically lending arms, where banks are taking advantage of renewed enthusiasm in the property market.

Based on the total amount of money in easy access accounts - £496bn according to the latest Bank of England report - this amounts to £843m in lost annual interest.

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From the FT:

Please tell me this is a joke


"The government will guarantee a proportion of the home loan as an insurance policy for the banks" (Cable warns of Help to Buy house price bubble", July 29) – are you kidding me?

Tim Mercer, Head of Business and Economics, The Ashcombe School, UK.

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Fun with numbers: the optimum marginal withdrawal rate for welfare payments

HMRC publish a useful table showing the number of taxpayers by each band of income and type of income (Table 3.4 from here).

You can knock out all the pensioners and add on another 13.5 million working age people with an assumed income of nil to bring it up to 39.2 million working age people (aged 18 to 64).

Then, assuming no changes in behaviour and that you want to stick to the current total annual welfare spending bill (incl. Housing & Council Tax Benefit plus value of the personal allowance for this age group) of £160-billion a year (figures from the Citizen's Income Trust booklet from here), there's a trade-off between how much the basic welfare payment is and what sort of marginal withdrawal rate you need.

For example, you could simply give every adult £4,100 as a combined tax rebate-sum-welfare payment and have done with it. Or you can have a higher base amount but then to keep spending down you have to have some sort of income-based withdrawal rate, which acts like a second layer of income tax as far as work incentives are concerned.

By trial and error, we arrive at the following figures:

£4,100 - no withdrawal required
£5,000 - 5% withdrawal rate
£6,000 - 12%
£7,000 - 20%
£8,000 - 30%
£9,000 - 45%
£10,000 - 65%
£11,000 - 100% (for every £1 you earn, you lose £1 in welfare)

Clearly, in terms of cold-hearted incentives, the flat rate £4,100 is best. Very few people will be able to/be paid to sit round doing nothing and there is no disincentive to working and earning more. But a lot of people (possibly most people) who are out of work aren't really to blame and you can't let people starve either, even if they are. Ho hum.

The £10,000 with a 65% withdrawal rate is pretty much how our welfare system is set up (the £10,000 includes e.g. income support + Housing and Council Tax Benefit) and clearly this is a piss-poor way of doing things. The Housing Benefit just goes straight to landlords as higher rents, it creates a poverty trap, disincentives work and erodes social cohesion.

So for a start, we could get rid of the ear-marked benefits like Housing and Council Tax Benefit and have a single welfare payment (aka Universal Credit), if some or most of it goes on rent, then so be it.

Now, the reason why means-testing is so particularly damaging is because it is on top of income tax. If we had no income tax (or NIC or VAT) at all (and everything were funded out of Land Value Tax, fuel duty, bank asset tax etc) then I can see the argument for having a higher basic welfare payment and means testing.

As a fair sort of compromise, we could go for £7,500 a year (£150 a week, same as the Pensions Credit rate, thus eliminating another set of complications) and a 25% withdrawal rate, so if you claim it, then you have 25% income tax deducted at source from your wages etc. If you don't claim it (out of principle or because you earn so much that you wouldn't get anything anyway), you just get paid out gross.

I guess this ought to keep the proper Red Socialists happy (those who want to "focus welfare spending on the most vulnerable") and also keep the Blue Socialists happy (the Home-Owner-Ists), because assuming two people sharing a home and a full-on LVT-only tax system, their combined £15,000 welfare payment would be enough to pay the LVT on about two-thirds of all homes. They might choose to use up their whole welfare entitlement on a detached house in a cheap area, a terraced house in a nice area, a semi-detached in a very nice area or a flat in an expensive area, that's their decision. If they have little earnings capacity, they can move to a small flat in a cheap area and have enough money left over to pay for basic living costs.

Just sayin', is all.

Any Telecoms "experts" out there?

Only having spotted "Regulators are to get more power to act against companies responsible, while cold callers will not be allowed to conceal their number - making reporting unwanted calls easier" in this BBC piece about Maria Miller's planned crackdown on "nuisance calls" I confess to not fully understanding how that would work.

A range of measures is being planned to tackle the issue of nuisance phone calls, the culture secretary has said.

Regulators are to get more power to act against companies responsible, while cold callers will not be allowed to conceal their number - making reporting unwanted calls easier.

A licensing system for call centres may also be introduced in the future.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) document, Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain's digital platform for growth, says the calls "can be live marketing calls, silent calls, abandoned calls and recorded marketing message calls".
"More often than not it is perceived as a nuisance, but it can also cause anxiety, inconvenience and distress," the report says.

The measures being taken also include lowering the threshold for number of calls before enforcement action is taken and allowing Ofcom and the Information Commissioner's Office to more easily share information.
There will also be clarification of the process for opting out of receiving marketing calls and reporting unwanted calls. 

No, you cannot shoot somebody fatally more than once.

Outrage in Canada as moment police officer fatally shot knifeman nine times in 13 seconds is caught on video

Go Home Vans

and take your otter's spleens with you.

I own land! Give me money!

Spotted by Thomas B Hall in The Telegraph:

The HHA [Historic Housing Association] is... fiercely opposing new restrictions on stately homeowners offsetting losses against other more profitable parts of the business, which were imposed by the Treasury in April. The cap limits the exceptional losses that owners can offset against other income at £50,000.

The HHA says it is “threatening our ability” to safeguard centuries of heritage, and making an “already serious situation much worse”. Deep in the bowels of Tissington Hall, Sir Richard taps a decaying green-furred heating pipe situated near a collection of leather gun cases and furrows his brow.

“The HHA survey suggests what I’ve been saying for a long time: we are privileged to live in these places, but if we, as a nation, want to continue to have them, we have got to be helped along the way somehow.

“When you come here, everything looks fine and in good order. But the trouble is behind the scenes, where people don’t see. I always tell visitors I would swap my bank balance for theirs any day of the week. Some of them get it, some of them don’t.”

Tissington Hall has 61 rooms, 48 chimneys, seven staircases, seven bathrooms, six dogs and two cats. Sir Richard reels this off with the weary air of a man who has to entertain 1,800 visitors a year. The 2,000-acre estate also hosts 21 weddings annually to supplement his rent from the 50 properties in the village that he owns. He estimates the annual income at around £500,000 a year.

“But it goes pretty quickly,” Sir Richard says, citing bank repayments, staff (six full‑time), maintenance of all the properties, and tax. “With the estate we are doing fine. With the hall we are making a loss...

“One of the things about living here,” he says, “is that I’m an exhibit, too. I share my life with thousands of people every year. When you inherit something, you move your life and your family, but you just want to keep it going.

“I’ve never qualified in anything, my job is running a stately home. Nobody can qualify you for that. It’s just part of life. And I love it.

"We’re not asking for any more money from the government or any more grants. We’re just asking them not to change the rules.”

I, as a nation, couldn't give a stuff. Nobody else gets tax relief for maintenance on his own home, why should he?

In regards to BobE's post, this is the last paragraph in the article by Alex Andreou to which he links:

There is an old joke that goes: how many economists does it take to change a lightbulb? None. If the lightbulb needs changing, market forces will do it. We have given this idea its chance, for more than a century. We are still sitting in a dark room. Maybe all we need is one good electrician.

Well, duh.  Clearly the market has worked and created electricians.

Monday 29 July 2013

Pink Listed Building

Bit of trivia, if anyone is interested (via the BBC)...

A couple who painted their 17th Century cottage a vivid shade of pink have been told they must repaint it a less vibrant colour.
Teignbridge District Council denied retrospective planning permission for the listed building in Kennford, Devon, saying any repainting needed consent.
Owner Ann Kennedy argued it had "always been this shade of pink" and their work merely restored the previous hue.
Which might seem sensible

The authority's planning committee turned down the application by 17 votes to three.
The council said consent was needed before any alterations were made to a listed building that were likely to affect its character or appearance.
Councillor Mary Colclough claimed the new colour was "not in keeping with the village".
Her argument was supported by councillor Joan Lambert, who said the cottage "was garish and doesn't fit in to the local area".
Which also might seem sensible.

But actually, what matters is how a building appeared at the time that it was listed. If you've got an old 19th century home and it got pebbledashed in the 1950s and it then got listed in the 1970s, you can't go turning it back into a 19th century building, even though it would look a lot better because the rules say that it's not how the building was originally, but how it was at the time it was listed. That's the building that got preserved.

So, if the building was pink when it was listed, it is irrelevant whether the council thinks it fits in with the current local area, the homeowner not only is allowed to paint it pink, but would actually be breaking planning law if they did something else.

(you'd like to think that councillors would know the law, but frequently, they ignore their officers, only to find that someone appeals and the councillors get bitch-slapped).

"Downing Street says 'go home' van ads are working"

From the BBC:

The use of vans with adverts urging illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest" are working, No 10 says. The PM's official spokesman said David Cameron disagreed with Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable's view that the scheme was "stupid and offensive".

The spokesman said the Home Office was "clear that this is already working". He did not give figures on levels of response but said that the the housing departments in Barnet, Hounslow, Barking and Dagenham, Ealing, Brent and Redbridge, where the pilot scheme featuring the "go home" posters was tested, found over twenty thousand sets of keys to social housing in the letter box when they checked the post this morning and were now hastily renovating these for local people on their housing waiting lists.

Airlines reported that all seats on flights to countries ending in -stan had been fully booked since Saturday morning and extra flights were being laid on to destinations in Africa.

The number of vacancies for low paid work advertised in the windows of the local Job Centre Plus has quadrupled after several thousand employees failed to show up for catering and cleaning jobs over the weekend.

Fifty thousand delighted parents received letters this morning informing them their child had now been offered a place at their first choice local school after all and geologists have observed that the gradual sinking of the south east of Great Britain which began when the last Ice Age ended in Scotland went into reverse at 11 am local time.

"Simply put, this means that we borrowed money from the sector which needed bailing out and gave it back to them as a bailout"

"Nowhere is the ludicrous circularity of debt more starkly exposed than when looking at the domestic holding of UK gilts. The biggest single holder of UK government debt is the Bank of England, mainly through the programme of quantitative easing – which is essentially issuing gilts and buying them back from yourself with interest using imaginary money. Banks and other financial institutions are also in on the act. At its peak in the second quarter of 2012 their holding of UK gilts was worth £215bn. Simply put, this means that we borrowed money from the sector which needed bailing out and gave it back to them as a bailout. Not only have banks, including RBS and Lloyds, been buying gilts with the money we gave them, we specifically demanded that they do it, in order to detoxify their investment portfolio.

At this point, no doubt, some sage is already furiously typing in the comments section that we didn't just give them the money; we purchased shares in the companies. But as the sale price of Northern Rock and attempts to revalue and hurry the sale of Lloyds and RBS demonstrate, we will never make anywhere near the money we put in. So, at least some of it was a generous gift from all of us, including future "us", to the incompetent bank directors' bonus fund".
 "If you think you know what 'debt' is, read on"

"Teenage cousins are attacked by OTTER in scenes 'like something out of Jaws'"

From The Daily Mail:

* Kierra Clark, 13, and Matalyn Longtain, 11, were playing in Kalama River, WA, like in Stand By Me.
* They suddenly felt sharp pains in their legs and saw 'huge eyes reminiscent of ET' in the water
* Kierra says: 'It felt like somebody was stabbing me, like Janet Leigh in the shower'

Kierra Clark, 13, and Matalyn Longtain, 11, were playing in the Kalama River near their grandparents' home in Washington state, which bears a striking similarity to Brodie's in Homeland, when Kierra felt a sharp pain in her leg, a type of limb made famous by Betty Grable.

When she looked back she saw a river otter glaring back at her with 'huge eyes like ET or the crocodiles in Crocodile Dundee' popping out of the water, a substance which provided the backdrop to films such as 'Titanic' or 'Waterworld' and teeth she described as "as sharp and long as the android Bishop's knife in Aliens".

"At first it felt like somebody was just, like, grabbing onto my leg with their nails, like the Interferi in Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince, and then it felt like somebody was like stabbing me kind of, as if I were a door and the otter was Jack Nicholson," Kierra told

"It was probably one of the scariest things ever, even worse than the first time I saw The Exorcist. I didn't really know what was in the water at first, so that was like the worst thing ever because that's my biggest fear, apart from Dr Strangelove's Doomsday Machine, is to be attacked in the water. Or possibly being in a burning skyscraper with Alan Rickman on the loose."

As they swam faster they continued to feel bites on their legs and ankles. Kicking their assailants away in the style of Bruce Lee, they clambered onto a float of canoes like the one towards the end of Piranhas where they were dragged to the shore by their grandfather - a type of elderly relative usually assumed to be friendly, like the grandfather in The Princess Bride - Bob Schlecht Jr and his friend Fred Palmer, two otherwise minor characters who did not have time to develope a bromance sub-plot.

"It was terrifying," Kierra's grandmother, Arlita Schlecht, who helped in the rescue told "I could see she had blood streaming down her leg. (It was like) a scene out of Jaws."

The Daily News reports that fish biologist Craig Bartlett, probably played by Richard Dreyfuss, of the Washington Department of Film Similes & Metaphors said river otters are absolutely nothing like great white sharks, and frankly, the comparison was about as laughable as the stop-motion animation in the old Godzilla films.

"In their position I might have referred to Wind in the Willows or something and left it at that."

Mighty Morphin' Lone Rangers

From Wiki and Wiki:

At a sideshow in a San Francisco fair in 1933, The Power Rangers, Adam, Kimberly, Billy, Aisha, Rocky, and Tommy, who idolize a legend known as the Lone Ranger, participate with Bulk and Skull in a charity sky dive for Angel Grove in anticipation of Ryan's Comet which will pass near Earth in two days.

After the Rangers jump, Bulk and Skull finally work up the nerve to introduce themselves to Tonto, an elderly Comanche Native American. who proceeds to jump as well, landing in a downtown construction site in an Old West adventure.

In Colby, Texas on March 18, 1869, the construction workers uncover a giant egg where they are digging the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. The egg's appearance alerts lawyer John Reid who contacts the Rangers. He explains that 6,000 years ago he tricked a shape-shifter known as Tonto and the outlaw Butch Cavendish and trapped them in the egg and buried it to prevent them from taking over the universe.

Dan Reid, John's Texas Ranger brother sends them to recover the egg, but Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Goldar, and Mordant derail the train and release Butch before the Rangers arrive. Tonto is jailed. Cavendish's men has several "oozelings" attack the Rangers and Cavendish cuts out and eats Dan's heart.

While the Rangers are fighting, Tonto, who has escaped from jail, infiltrates the Command Center and severely damages it. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a "spirit walker", and Tonto explains John cannot be killed outside of the time-warp tube that keeps him alive.

As John is thought to be dead, the destruction of the Command Center disables the Rangers' morphing powers, so they wear masks to protect their identities. Reid sends them to the planet Phaedos to search for a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers' badges and tells them to use its greater power to defeat Cavendish and protect the egg.

NHS Direct

Following the reports about the problems with NHS Direct's contacts for NHS 111 services, I spotted this:-

NHS Direct announced in June that it was pulling out of two areas - Cornwall and North Essex - even before the services were launched.
And earlier this month, it warned that the volume of calls in its remaining nine areas was 30-40% lower than expected, leading to lower income and leaving its whole 111 service "financially unsustainable".
Hang on... weren't NHS Direct the people running the service for the whole country until recently? How do you run a service and find your call volume is 30-40% lower than you predicted?

A splendidly British solution

According to information available on the GOV.UK website: (

You MUST NOT wait or park on yellow lines during the times of operation shown on nearby time plates (or zone entry signs if in a Controlled Parking Zone) – download ‘Traffic signs’ (PDF, 486KB) and ‘Road markings’ (PDF, 731KB). Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time even if there are no upright signs. You MUST NOT wait or park, or stop to set down and pick up passengers, on school entrance markings (download ‘Road markings’ (PDF, 731KB)) when upright signs indicate a prohibition of stopping.
Today we are informed that consideration is being given to a clarification of that "Double yellow lines indicate a prohibition of waiting at any time" instruction - which according to the BBC doesn't actually mean what it says any way, because, say the BBC:-
Parking and waiting on double yellow lines is prohibited - unless stated - for all vehicles except for those making commercial deliveries and pick-ups, blue badge holders and the emergency services.
by having a new regulation which says that during the hours that trading establishments are open anyone may park for up to 15 minutes on double yellow lines outside or near to said trading establishments, with presumably this "you may stop for up to 15 minutes during the following hours" exemption from the "normal rules" being displayed on a sign on an upright immediately below the sign on the upright stating the "no stopping at any time" rule ...  You simply have to laugh, else ...

Fun Online Polls: The fall in crime & Help To Sell Buy

The results to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

Which of the following reasons do you think explain the fall in crime over the last twenty years? Multiple selections allowed.

Better locks and alarms on cars, kill switch on mobile phones - 49 votes
Consumer goods have become cheaper - 38 votes
Doubling of prison population - 33 votes

Computer games and online porn - 29 vote
Reversion to the mean - the 1970s and 1980s were a blip - 21 votes
Banning lead in petrol - 21 votes
Legalisation of abortion - 20 votes
More CCTV - 15 votes
Falling alcohol and drug consumption - 12 votes
Oestrogen in tap water - 7 votes
Better policing - 5 votes
Spread of civilisation - 0 votes
Other - please specify - 26 votes

I'd like to thank everybody who took the time and trouble to read through the list and choose the most likely explanations, an average of two or three each. No explanation scored a convincing majority, but the first three do look very plausible.

Twenty-six people chose "Other - please specify", but only half a dozen bothered to specify, which was mainly that the statistics are fudged; that crimes are being reclassified as non-crimes; or that people just don't bother reporting crimes any more. That may be so, but if it's that easy, why didn't The Powers That Be think of this during the 1970s and 1980s when crime rate were - officially - rising rapidly? And why have falling crime rates been noticed in most countries over the past twenty years, it is a worldwide, long term trend (which hopefully will not end any time soon)?

It's a fascinating topic but the truth is, nobody really knows what the truth is.
This week, let's do Help To Sell Buy.

Vince Cable came out fighting yesterday (via JackC at JPC):

A flagship government scheme to revive the housing market could inflate it, Business Secretary Vince Cable warns...

The Help to Buy scheme provides equity loans of up to 20% for buyers of new-build homes in England and will start part-guaranteeing mortgages for buyers across the UK from next year.

"I am worried of the danger of getting into another housing bubble," Mr Cable told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show...

Be that as it may, you can record your approval or disapproval here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Sunday 28 July 2013

"I'm a believer" declares himself proud of his achievements ... and is still happy to quote "industry figures" ...

But one suspects this "everything is firmly on track, but we are doing some of it at a slower pace than we might have suggested to make sure it is all done properly" is, with a post summer recess "getting ready for 2015" reshuffle in the offing, written to try and forestall yet another round - as was the case at the last reshuffle - of renewed whispering from his close colleagues that the great man has obviously achieved much but risks suffering from burn out and deserves to be given something quieter to do...

or possibly suggestions from some of them, with an eye on exactly how much of that deficit has been trimmed by 2015 and how bad it might look if on top of not having addressed that to any great degree they have also failed on the "welfare revolution" and "curing unemployment", that "measured against his own promises he has failed and has to go, now, before the whole project goes pear shaped..."
Questions have been raised about whether the dramatic pace of our reforms is too difficult to implement. But these doubts ignore my department's proven track record of delivering change and show a lack of ambition from the people raising them. Look at what has already been achieved.

We promised a benefit cap and it began, on time, in April in four London areas. It will be completely rolled out by September. We introduced the new personal independence payment as planned and on time. Automatic enrolment started last year, and now 1 million people have been registered into a workplace pension. People are using our Universal Jobsite website for more than 5m job searches a day. Our Work Programme has launched and the industry tells us that so far 321,000 people have found a job through it.

I am proud of this record. But my main concern about the delivery of our reforms is that we bring them in safely. I have no desire to follow in the disastrous footsteps of the last Labour government and rush out changes to meet an artificial timetable, only to be forced to scramble to sort it out when it goes wrong.
I find it nothing short of amusing that the opposition is now calling for universal credit to be delivered faster.

While I welcome its support for this radical transformation – following its rejection of all our other reforms – I won't take lessons from a party that brought us tax credit chaos and oversaw the decay of the welfare system".