Sunday, 29 September 2019

"That has ignored the evidence..."

Howard Flight, at Conservative Home:

Finally, under George Osborne’s period as Chancellor, the Treasury persuaded him that increasing the tax burden on smaller buy-to-let operators would reduce buy-to-let activity and so make available more properties for owner occupiers to buy.

This has ignored the evidence that there is very little competition for the same properties between buy-to-let and owner-occupier purchasers.


I'm not sure what evidence he has that everybody else is ignoring. But he's clearly ignoring things like this:

From Finder.com - number of FTBs going up year by year:



From the Financial Times number of BTLs going down year by year:



I am perfectly aware that it is a bit sloppy to compare absolute numbers of FTBs with relative numbers of buy-to-let landlords, but the total number of homes bought and sold has been fairly constant, and that's the best I can track down.

The smoking gun is 2015 - shortly before the new higher rates on BTL purchases came in, there was a spike in BTL purchases with a corresponding dip in FTB purchases.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Don't just book it...

From The Torygraph:

As many as 150,000 Thomas Cook passengers have been left stranded abroad awaiting repatriation after the travel giant ceased trading.

The company was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a full day of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors on Sunday, leaving thousands of travel plans in chaos.

This morning, the last Thomas Cook flights landed in the UK, with staff in tears and passengers coordinating a 'whip round' of donations. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said dozens of charter planes, from as far afield as Malaysia, had been hired to fly customers home free of charge and hundreds of people were working in call centres and at airports.


I really don't get it.

Thomas Cook (not sure which bits, the corporate structure is unclear to me) went bankrupt and the administrators pulled down the shutters. Sacked their staff, cancelled future flights etc.

This leaves lots of people who have to get home somehow. A lot of them ended up paying extortionate ticket prices to get home. This illustrates my point that a large part of airline ticket prices is pure rent. They could get away with it because of temporary scarcity. Thomas Cook's jets were parked somewhere, their slots left unused with all their pilots and crew out of work - while planes and crews "from as far afield as Malaysia" were being hired at huge cost. Why not use what's nearest to hand?

'Somebody' has to pay for the stranded passengers to get home. For the purposes of this discussion, it does not matter whether that is the passengers themselves, their holiday insurance companies, ATOL, the UK government. And that cost should be kept as low as possible.

My question is, why didn't the UK CAA or ATOL simply chip in for one or two week's operating costs, long enough to get everybody home? That would be a lot less hassle than sorting out a hundred thousand individual insurance/compensation claims (and "hundreds of [extra] people... working in call centres and at airports"). It would work out far cheaper for the 'somebody' who ends up footing the bill, that saving being equal and opposite to the super-profits/rents which surviving airlines have just collected, plus the reduction in admin and hassle for all concerned.

Friday, 27 September 2019

We are considerably greener than you!

From the BBC:

The Scottish government's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions have been strengthened, as MSPs voted to put down a "net-zero" target in law.

The Climate Change Bill - which aims to have all emissions offset by 2045 - was passed by 113 votes to 0 at Holyrood. Ministers agreed to a Labour amendment to up the interim target, with members agreeing to target a 75% reduction by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. However, a Green bid to increase this goal to 80% was heavily defeated.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the government was "putting in place the most stringent framework of statutory targets of any country in the world". The Greens abstained in the final vote, and said members should "not pretend this bill is anywhere near meaningful action to address the climate emergency".


If they really meant it, they could make a start by shutting down the oil wells and leave the fossil fuels in the ground.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Killer Arguments Against Citizen's Income, Not (23)

Summary of thread started by James Medlock on Twitter.

JM: One of the most underrated parts of a universal welfare state is the income-smoothing effect. Even if you pay in just as much as you take out, there’s an efficiency gain in redistributing from yourself at peak earning years to yourself when you’re sick, old, young, or unemployed.

Steven Hart (first half of KCN): Only if you suppose the utility of income is relatively flat across an individual's lifetime, which is a massive assumption.

Me (with my Citizen's Basic Income Trust hat on): Is marginal utility the same across a lifetime? For most yes, for some they'd prefer it earlier, others later, it all averages out. It's safe to assume that the marginal value of income is highest when your fixed costs take up most of our income. So smoothing income, assuming fixed costs are fixed, must increase overall utility.

SH: In theory perhaps, but in practice absolutely not. For example, the marginal value of income increases significantly when you have a family. This is not merely an issue of discounting.

JM: The whole point of a comprehensive welfare state is to redistribute to you during periods where marginal value of income increases. So you have a Child Allowance to increase your income at that point, paid during your childless years.

SH: But there is no way of determining the marginal value of income. In such a system, a bureaucrat decides for you*. Such a system *may* benefit citizens, but it is by no means a guarantee, even under a great number of simplifying assumptions.

JM: It's a safe bet that marginal value increases when you're a parent. You just said so yourself. And peak earning years don't match up with peak child rearing years. A child allowance is clearly beneficial here.


* I didn't respond to this, which is clearly nonsense. Marginal value of income just is whatever it is. No bureaucrat decides it. Any income smoothing must, by definition, increase overall marginal utility of spending.
---------------------------------------------------
SH (second half of KCN): The less taxation, the more an individual has the ability to distribute income according to his or her own preferences.

Me: Citizens income is a tax rebate. It's negative taxation, not taxation. Total income the same, as the original tweet said.

SH: That's irrelevant to the critique. If it helps you, replace "taxation" with "incoming smoothing" in my Tweet. I'm saying that the same income redistributed equally throughout a lifetime is not necessarily superior to non-redistributed, even absent any consideration of incentives.


That's not a practical example. There is no thought experiment you can run to prove or disprove this. It's a simple fact that people can cope very well with sudden large increases in income (or falls in fixed costs) but can't cope so well with sudden falls in income (or increases in fixed costs).

A welfare state shouldn't flatten income too much because that would be a disincentive to working (and that would be bad for society/the economy), but just leaving people to their fates and allowing massive and increasing inequality is bad for society/the economy as well. Pitch it somewhere in the middle and you won't be far wrong.
---------------------------------------------------
Anyway, it's a good argument FOR a Citizen's Income, I'll expand on this in future posts.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

"Trump plans ban on sale of flavoured handguns"

From the BBC:

US President Donald Trump has announced that his administration will ban flavoured handguns, after a spate of shooting-related deaths.

Mr Trump told reporters shooting at people was a "new problem", especially for children.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Firearm and Drug Administration (FDA) would finalise a plan to take all non-lead flavours off the market.

There have been six deaths and 450 reported cases of chest injuries tied to shootings involving flavoured handguns across 33 states. Many of the 450 reported cases are young people, with an average age of 19.

Lead-related deaths are holding steady at around 40,000 per annum.

And Thomas Cook's main asset is...

From City AM:

Meanwhile, assets like its combined 560 take-off and landing slots at Gatwick and Manchester are likely to be snapped up by other airlines over the coming months.

In late 2017, British Airways bought 20 prime take-off and landing slots from collapsed airline Monarch at Gatwick and Luton. That deal was worth an estimated £60m.

Monday, 23 September 2019

I don't think that the Alarmists believe the horror scenarios

Most people who have jumped on the Alarmist band-wagon are arguing for things that they would have argued for anyway, which have little to do with reducing CO2 emissions, for example Ed Miliband calls for 'wartime' mobilisation to tackle climate crisis. The militant vegans say we should stop eating meat. The NIMBYs say we should stop fracking. The 'climate scientists' are holding out for more government grants. Authors can get on the best-seller lists with titles like Life After Warming. You're not going to sell many books saying that everything will sort itself out just fine. The solar panel people want subsidies for solar panels. Large landowners want subsidies for windmills. Etcetera.

They also jumble in a lot of common sense stuff that has little to do with CO2 levels in the narrow sense, like reducing air pollution in town centres; plastic waste in the oceans; deforestation etc.

Then there are the Useful Idiots who probably do believe it and really enjoy the attention, but that's a group think thing, to paraphrase Harry Enfield, "I am considerably more Alarmist than you." I'm sure it's the same in any sub-culture, be that followers of a particular football club; fans of a particular pop group; racists, vegans, even Georgists. You want to attend every away game and own every replica kit; own every CD and attend every concert; be more racist than the others; wear plastic shoes; decry corporation tax or higher rate income tax (which are largely taxes on 'rents', so fit in with general Georgist principles IMHO).

If any of these Alarmists seriously believed a fraction of their own propaganda, you'd expect them to buy a log cabin in the wilds of Canada or Scandinavia, become self-sufficient and arm themselves with a shotgun. You wouldn't expect them to be buying beach front villas or cheerfully flying from one international climate change conference to another.

And if they don't really believe it, I don't see why I should.

"Berserk herd of cattle trampled a woman, 87, to death while she was ..."

You guessed it, from The Daily Mail, "... walking her dog".

I'd also assume that from an evolutionary point of view, the cows' behaviour was entirely rational, shaped as it is by millions of years of wolves snatching their calves.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

"Downton"

Her Indoors and I went to see this yesterday.

As I expected, there is no real plot, just a few sketchy sub-plots with tenuous links to each other; the characters are one-dimensional to the point of being caricatures (yet still inconsistent); the film barely questions the underlying social injustices - a couple of the characters claim to be 'republicans' i.e. anti-monarchy without realising that their employer, a large landowner, is a beneficiary of the exploitative monarchical system.

The filming is 'sumptuous', nice camera angles and lighting, beautiful interiors and costumes etc. There was only one crass anachronism, when a self-employed plumber who worked late said "I want to make a success of my business, so I don't just do nine-to-five", and apart from that it all looked historically accurate to me.

It's basically three episodes of the TV series shown back-to-back without advertising breaks.

Yet somehow it grinds you down and I left the cinema in a good mood with a big dumb grin on my face. Strange.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Fun With Numbers

The Lass and I were brainstorming yesterday, and between us, came up with this sequence/pattern, where x,y are positive integers.

I am using the European convention of using a full stop to denote 'multiply', so "x^3.y" means "x-cubed times y" (to avoid confusion with "x^3y" which could mean "x to the power of three y").

x^1 - y^1 = (x - y)
x^2 - y^2 = (x - y)(x + y)
x^3 - y^3 = (x - y)(x^2 + x.y + y^2)
x^4 - y^4 = (x - y)(x^3 + x^.2y + x.y^2 + y^3)

We didn't work out x^5 - y^5 the long way, but my initial assumption is...
x^5 - y^5 =(x - y)(x^4 + x^3.y + x^2.y^2 + x.y^3 + y^4).

Update 1, PJH in the comments confirms this with link.
------------------------------------------------------
Update 2, Bayard and Derek discuss negative powers in the comments. The pattern is fairly straightforward.

For example, assuming x > y, and we want to break down (y^-2) - (x^-2), which can also be expressed as (1/y^2) - (1/x^2).

The answer is a fraction.

The bottom bit is to the power 2, so the top part of the fraction (numerator) is the same as for "x^2 - y^2" in the above list, i.e. "(x - y)(x + y)".

The bottom bit of the fraction (denominator) is just x^2.y^2

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (469)

From Letting Agent Today:

An influential think tank [the Institute for Public Policy Research] says Capital Gains Tax on buy to let properties and second homes should be levied at the higher rate of the income tax of the owner. Meanwhile the annual exempt allowance of £12,000 on CGT should be slashed to £1,000...

CGT has traditionally been lower on investment properties and other activities because they involve risk-taking, while heavier taxed income from employment and savings interest reflect their much lower risk.


That doesn't make sense and is wrong on the facts. "Traditionally", CGT rates are graded so that gains arising from effort and risk taking (and a fair bit of good luck), in other words building up and selling an actual business, are taxed at the lowest rate (10%) and pure windfall/unearned gains, in other words, buying and selling housing are taxed at a higher rate (28%, was 40% until 2008 or so). And savings income is taxed at much lower rates than employment income. Home-Owner-Ists have little grasp of reality.

Landlords buy housing to collect rental income (or exploit the difference between rental yields and mortgage interest rates) and capital gains are a bonus. Even if we knew that house prices would never go up or down, it would still be worth doing if you can collect more rent than you pay in interest.

This is the most messed up comment:

Paul Barrett:
They just hate the idea of anyone struggling and striving to achieve asset purchases.
They want everyone on slave wages so they can be better controlled..
Asset income gives the owner financial freedom which they hate.


Imagine a slave owner arguing against abolition on this basis. The landlord's easy life style can only be supported if there are wage, tax and rent slaves. Just because slavery is abolished does not mean that everybody is now a slave; it means that everybody is free, or given that there is no absolute total freedom, everybody is equally free, which maximises total freedom.

The only struggling and striving which landlords have ever done is getting the deposit together for their first BTL, after that, they are coasting. From then on, their tenants struggle and strive, pay off the landlord's mortgage for him and contribute the funds for the deposit for his next purchase.

Even more messed up is the fact that if our Paul is happy being a landlord, he'd have no intention of selling up; if he does sell up, he would only have to pay tax if he's made windfall/unearned gain.
------------------------------------
Then, from The Sun:

LABOUR plans to clobber buy-to-let landlords despite a quarter of its Shadow Cabinet having second homes, a Sun on Sunday investigation reveals. It wants to give private ­tenants the same right-to-buy deal as council tenants...

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “The Sun on Sunday’s findings once again expose the vile hypocrisy of the Left. On one hand they are plotting policies to target landlords while at the same time sitting on valuable second homes themselves.”


That's simply not an argument for or against any policy proposal, it's called shooting the messenger. The Sun might as well have said "LABOUR plans to clobber buy-to-let landlords because three quarters of its Shadow Cabinet don't own a second homes, a Sun on Sunday investigation reveals."

As Russell Brand said, “When I was poor and complained about inequality they said I was bitter; now that I'm rich and I complain about inequality they say I'm a hypocrite. I'm beginning to think they just don't want to talk about inequality.”.

Monday, 16 September 2019

Shocked I tell you, shocked!

From The Daily Mail:

Bull-runner, 26, gets gored in the leg twice before being flipped into the air and dragged along the street in front of shocked onlookers

How do they work that out? It's like saying people were 'shocked' to see a man knocked unconscious at a boxing match, or a crash in a stock car race.

First day at university

The Lad moved into student halls of residence at the weekend. (Rather ironically, his uni is within half an hour of our home, but he dug his heels in and insisted he was moving out, whole 'nother story.)

Mrs W had offered to drive him and his stuff down there. I assumed that kids would want to appear cool and independent, and ask their parents to park discreetly round the corner so that they could rock up with a rucksack and a couple of heavy bags, so I was going to leave them to it, but Mrs W said I should at least offer to accompany them. So I did and to my surprise, The Lad accepted and The Lass tagged along as well for good measure.

It appears he called it correctly - the car park was full of shiny 4x4s and SUVs, most students had turned up with both parents and even younger siblings.

Trolleys were provided to get stuff from the car park to the halls, and many of them had managed to fill them to the brim. One lass had six large matching suitcases and a brand new flat screen TV on hers. And I don't mean shopping trolleys, I mean the big industrial 'roll cages' that supermarkets shelf stackers use, as depicted here.

Mrs W was channelling her inner Beverley Goldberg and brought some cleaning wipes and started wiping his shelves. I did my best to be Murray Goldberg, but funnily enough it was a bit of a wrench. Even bombing round in the Toyota MR2 for forty minutes couldn't cheer me up.

Friday, 13 September 2019

"Taxing Robots Is a Great Way to Make People Poor"

Excellent article by Noah Smith at Bloomberg, h/t the Resolution Foundation email round up.

No point in paraphrasing or summarising, the article is fairly short and to the point.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Project Fear, Part the Manieth?

This appeared in Facebook:


On the face of it, it seems logical. Our oil refineries are going to be clobbered on the petrol they export to the EU, at the same time as they are going to be undercut by tariff free foreign imports. This will lead to the closure of oil refineries, strike action, fuel shortages, riots, famine, pestilence and the usual End Of Life As We Know It.

However, no mention is made of the following:

All the crude oil we import is from outside the EU, although just under half is from Norway, which is quasi-EU. Just over half of this at least will become significantly cheaper. (That is assuming that the crude oil from Norway is already significantly cheaper than that from non-EU countries, which is not necessarily the case. Market economics suggest that the Norwegians would charge just slightly less than what we pay for oil from non-EU countries.) This would make it more economical to continue to refine our own fuel rather than to import it ready refined.

We import more petrol than we export and we export more than we consume domestically. (From Google: UK fuel consumption is 1.475 Bn litres a month, which translates to 1.062 M tonnes a month. UK fuel exports are 30 M tonnes a year). So it appears that 100% of those petrol exports that are going to become uncompetitive are actually imported, so the margin on the exported fuel cannot be great or the EU countries that currently import from us could simply buy direct from our suppliers and cut out the middleman.

I may be wrong about this, but this, and, by extension, the entire Yellowhammer report, looks like just another manifestation of Project Fear.

"Woman fighting for her life and dog killed after cows trample on them"

From The Mirror, via @ambushpredator:

Woman fighting for her life and dog killed after cows trample on then

They really ought to put warnings on tins of dog food, include this in a leaflet when you buy a puppy and every dog training manual and explain it again in the ad breaks during broadcasts of Crufts.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

"Houses are assets not goods: taking the theory to the UK data"

From Bank Underground:

In yesterday’s post* we argued that housing is an asset, whose value should be determined by the expected future value of rents, rather than a textbook demand and supply for physical dwellings. 

In this post we develop a simple asset-pricing model, and combine it with data for England and Wales. We find that the rise in real house prices since 2000 can be explained almost entirely by lower interest rates.

Increasing scarcity of housing, evidenced by real rental prices and their expected growth, has played a negligible role at the national level.


Includes lots of lovely charts, tables and calculations.

As I have said many a time, all you need to know is
(1) local average wages in each area of the country, which tell you what local rents will be, and
(2) prevailing interest rates. You multiply local rents by the inverse of interest rates (or divide local rents by interest rates, same thing) and that tells you what house prices will be in each area to within a tolerable margin of error.

There is no need to factor in 'scarcity' to the equation, being impossible to measure once you have done the two-stage calculation.

This also explains why there is a larger variation in very local house prices within larger cities/conurbations. This is because there will also be a larger variation in wages in larger cities. Office cleaners earn the same everywhere, but the higher paid jobs are in the larger cities/conurbations, so there will be a wider range of wages in larger cities/conurbations, hence a higher range of rents and a higher range of house prices.

* "Yesterday's post" is also well worth a read, that also boils it down to the two-step calculation. They also include a section headed "Higher property taxes needn’t mean higher rents…".

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

"The world's first floating nuclear reactor"

From The Daily Mail:

The world's first floating nuclear reactor dubbed 'Chernobyl on ice' has arrived at its permanent location in the Arctic after a perilous sea voyage of almost 3,000 miles.

The Russian-made power station is due to start providing power to the most northerly settlement in Asia by December.

Named the Akademik Lomonosov, the 472ft vessel carries two 35-megawatt nuclear reactors, and has been under construction since 2006.


The world's first?

Have they not heard of nuclear submarines or nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, all of which float? Admittedly, Russian nuclear submarines are better at catastrophically failing and then sinking than they are at floating, but I don't think that's what they meant.

"Protests as five-week Parliament suspension begins"

From the BBC:

Parliament has officially been suspended for five weeks, with MPs not due back until 14 October.

Amid unprecedented scenes in the Commons, some MPs protested against the suspension with signs saying "silenced" while shouting: "Shame on you..."


Zero sympathies from me.

Rumours - well-founded as it turns out - that Johnson would suspend Parliament if he couldn't get his own way started circulating three months ago, before he'd even won his party leadership contest and thus by default (or by tradition or by custom, but with no particular legal force) become Prime Minister.

MPs have therefore had plenty of time to organise a vote of no confidence. It appears that they were incapable of agreeing on who would be the replacement PM. By default, it would have to be a moderate Conservative MP who is a Remainer (of which there are plenty) or at least in favour of a soft-ish Brexit (of which there are also plenty).

The template for this is the Chamberlain-Churchill handover. Technically, the Norway Debate was not a vote of no confidence, but it is accepted as having had the same effect. A majority of MPs from all parties had more or less agreed beforehand that Churchill - who was a Conservative MP, just like Chamberlain - would replace Chamberlain as PM. The whole thing took three days start to finish.

Today's MPs have been fannying around for three months and achieved precisely nothing. Corbyn had the mad idea that he might be PM; Lucas thought there should be an all-woman government and heck knows what Swinson wanted. Not exactly serious grown-up debate, in other words.

Monday, 9 September 2019

"The Haywain" by John Constable

I had always assumed that the hay wagon in the famous painting was fording a shallow river that flows off between the trees in middle of the painting.

Mrs W and I visited National Trust, Flatford on Sunday, and took the obligatory 'gate crashing The Hay Wain' photo in front of the cottage, which still looks exactly the same.

Two things struck me:

1. That is not actually a river, it is a pond (or non-flowing side-arm of the actual river, or however you wish to describe it), which ends roughly where the trees in the middle of the painting are. Nobody would be daft enough to ford it, they'd just go round it, which would take about one minute. So the event he painted never happened.

UPDATE: Sobers' explains in the comments why the wagon is in the pond.

UPDATE: NT map:


2. While the cottage looks exactly as it did, the National Trust haven't bothered to install a hay wagon in the middle of the pond, which would enhance the overall visitor experience and make those photos all the more enjoyable. Especially if you could wade out and pose on it, like on the zebra crossing in Abbey Road.

Lest ye think this is some sort of sacrilege, there are precedents for this, i.e. statues commemorating something that never happened or somebody who never existed, which become visitor attractions in their own right, for example The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour, Manneken Pis in Brussels or various Swords in the Stone dotted around anywhere with a vague connection to King Arthur. See also Waverley Station in Edinburgh.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Awkward conversations of our time...

From the BBC:

Sophie - not her real name - told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme she had been on a day out with her family 18 months ago when she had checked her phone to find missed calls and messages.

Her sister's partner had found videos of her on Pornhub - the world's largest porn website. One was in a top 10 chart and had had hundreds of thousands of views.


How does that work?

"Oh darling, I was browsing for porn and I stumbled across this one with your sister in it. It's really filthy, especially the ending where she [content removed]."

Thursday, 5 September 2019

James James' chapter on LVT

Reader James James writes: "I've just finished a draft chapter on Location Value Tax for a forthcoming book and would welcome your readers' comments and suggestions. Links will stay live for a few months. Ask people to leave comments on your blog. Thanks! (Warning: 20,000 words)"

You can download from DropBox or Mega.NZ. No need to create a user account.

"Why is the "Cost of Living" in Cities so High?"

Spotted by Lola at Mises.org.

Most of the article is the author discussing the correct interpretation of The Gospel according to St Mises, the interesting bit is near the end:

This raises the question, then, of why do workers move to a big city where the rent is so high? As I’ve exhaustively argued above, this isn’t a mere matter of units. Dollars are the same in San Francisco, but most of the prices are higher. Why do people put up with this?

The obvious answer is, “Because wages and salaries tend to be higher.”

... The brief explanation is that the productivity of many types of labor is much higher in urban areas than elsewhere. Historically the development of the big cities in the United States was tied to water transport: New York, Los Angeles, and Houston are still major port cities, while Chicago’s access to the Great Lakes and key rivers played an important role in its growth.

So it wasn’t a coincidence that America’s largest cities developed where they did. However, once people start living in close proximity because of some external factor (such as access to the water), there is a separate effect: Their productivity is amplified in other areas too, simply because of their proximity. The “economic approach to cities” is an entire subfield, so I won’t dwell on it here. Suffice it to say, people don’t spread out uniformly across the land, the way electrons repel each other on the surface of an object to distribute the electric charge uniformly.

Rather, more than half of the people in the world currently live in urban areas or cities, with projections that that figure will rise to two-thirds by 2050. There must be some reason for this attraction. On the consumer side, it might be the ability to eat at the finest restaurants and go to a Broadway show (if we’re talking about Manhattan). On the producer side, it might be because cities offer the highest salaries, and are worth moving to, despite the higher price for an apartment of a certain size.

Yet contrary to Cochrane, these high wages aren’t due to a difference in currency; they are supported by the fact that the productivity of workers is genuinely higher. The worker who is paid $100,000 in San Francisco is producing twice as much for his employer as the worker who is paid $50,000 in Cleveland. This isn’t because the units are different, it’s because the first worker is genuinely more productive.


Yes and amen to all that, that's Von ThĂĽnen's-Ricardo's law of Rent. The author does not just trot out the Faux Lib argument about lack of supply. Whether he draws the obvious conclusion on what should and what shouldn't be taxed is unknown.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

"Why the Amazon doesn’t really produce 20% of the world’s oxygen"

I was about to do a post debunking the clearly inaccurate claim that More than 20 percent of the world oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest, but those nice people at National Geographic have saved me the bother:

“The net [oxygen] effect of the Amazon, or really any other biome, is around zero,” he explains.

No point me summarising such a neat article, you might as well read it in full, if you're interested.

Monday, 2 September 2019

"Cows pay early-morning visit to startled Ribble Valley families"

From The Lancashire Telegraph:

COWS were seen grazing in people’s gardens in the Ribble Valley over the weekend.

Witness Richard Bowie appears to be the world's most sensible man:

“Also as they were by my car I did not want to startle them and damage my car. I then found it hilarious as, when I looked out of the upstairs window, they were in everyone’s garden. We fed the baby and went back to sleep.”

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Wowzers! Who would have expected that?

From The Sun:

THE Government’s Help to Buy scheme has benefited more rich than poor households, a new report found amid claims that the scheme is a “major failure”...

Shockingly, around one in 20 households who use the scheme earn over £100,000.

The flagship scheme has also boosted profits of the country’s three largest developers – Persimmon, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey.

According to Shelter, all three have managed to more than double their reported profits in under six years, with Barratt seeing the greatest profit rise of 325 per cent.