Thursday, 31 January 2008

VAT and Employer's NI are the worst taxes (3)

The European Central Bank's economists* have established that sales/turnover taxes** and social security contributions are the worst taxes, and have a far more damaging effect than taxes on personal or corporate incomes, see page 19 of this.

I told you so! I told you so!

* As well as admitting that government spending is bad for economic growth, well, duh...

** The delicious irony of all this being that VAT is imposed by the ECB's Lords and Masters, the EU ...

Hat-tip, Stumbling & Mumbling

"Sarkozy sues Ryanair over advert"

For verily, the French are humourless gits of the worst kind.

NB - Carla Bruni may be Italian-born, but she grew up in France. It says so here.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The cost/value of an average plot of residential land

As I suggested here, the best way to look at house prices is to look at the ratio of house prices-to-earnings. The cost/value of a property consists of two elements, the bricks/mortar and the land/location value of the plot itself. The way that plot values have changed as a multiple of earnings since the early 1980s looks like this (click to enlarge):

NB - there are two ways of estimating the cost/value of the average residential plot:-

1. By looking at the cost of building land ("how much a builder will pay"), which can be taken from the VOA's Property Market Report (figure for E&W, excl. London), divided by a typical density of 12 homes per acre, as suggested here.

2. The residual method is subtracting the rebuild cost of an 'average' new home (say, a terraced house with 750 sq ft) using the ABI's calculator, expressing this as a multiple of average earnings (2.8, in this example) and deducting it from the chart of house-prices expressed as a multiple of earnings (see first link).

As you can see, the two methods come to pretty much the same figures.

Petition on cost-benefit analysis of EU membership

There's another petition here. We've tried this several times before, one day it might just snowball and get us somewhere. So please sign up if you have a spare minute* and pass it on.

* I guess most people who visit this blog have a spare minute!

The Labour Party is insolvent!

Via LabourHome I have found this fine article.

Maybe it's an old story, but one that will not go away any time soon!

"Expelled MP may face Met inquiry"

Let's hope so! Let's hope so!

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

"Nursery fees rise ahead of inflation"

Well of course they bloody well do! Nurseries are very labour intensive, so you'd expect prices to go up in line with wages, which usually increase faster than headline inflation - it's called 'productivity growth'.

Further, they are comparing price rises of 5% with CPI inflation, which is a meaningless measure, the price rise is barely more than proper RPI inflation.

I'm also disappointed that the FT fell for this "free nursery places for three year olds" nonsense, children of that age can choose between 2.5 hours a day free nursery (which is hardly enough to enable a Mum to go back to work) or vouchers worth about £7.50 a day.

Must try harder! 4/10.

Monday, 28 January 2008

"Market falls wipe £15bn off pensions"

Screamed the headline in last weekend's FT.

As an aside, this puts all the headlines about The Goblin King's "£5 bn-a-year raid on pension funds" into stark perspective. In today's context, this just shows up UK plc and their collective pension fund trustees for the bumbling idiots that they really are.

This is an opportunity, not a threat! "How? Why?", you may ask...

Well, let's assume that there are 15 companies with final salary schemes, each with a £1 bn deficit. With a bit of co-operation, what these 15 companies and their pension fund trustees could do is:
1. Each company borrows £1 bn from its bank (in the early morning).
2. Each company makes a £1 bn cash contribution to its pension fund, claiming corporation tax relief of £300 m.
3. Simultaneously, each company issues £1 bn worth of corporate bonds.
4. Each pension fund subscribes for £71.4 m worth of corporate bonds in each of the other 14 companies, so each pension fund invests £1 bn in total (for the pension funds, the deal is cash-neutral).
5. Each company collects the £1 bn from the corporate bond issue and repays the bank (in the late afternoon).

And the result is ...

Each company is £300 m better off in cash terms (or as soon as the corporation tax relief materialises). The latent liabilities (pension fund deficits) are replaced with proper liabilities (corporate bonds), so each company's balance sheet is not affected. However the interest on the corporate bonds is fully tax-deductible for the paying companies, but is received tax-free by their pensions funds, ergo, future contributions to the pension funds do not have to be quite as high. So shareholders can sleep easier; their company is £300 m better off in cash terms and future pension contributions have been reduced slightly.

Effective income tax rates in the UK (2)

Table updated April 2010.

For those who prefer charts to tables, here's the numbers from the previous post presented as a chart, which I think highlights the stupidity of it all so much the better ...

Effective income tax rates in the UK (1)

Table updated April 2010.

In the context of nothing in particular, here's a summary of effective tax rates (including Employee's and Employer's National Insurance and Tax Credit withdrawal) on the three main groups of working-age taxpayers (by income level) for the main types of income*:
Conclusion: a flat rate of tax would particularly benefit lower earners, especially if combined with a much higher tax-free personal allowance; £9,125 seems a good place to start - see point (b) here. Provided the flat rate were 41% or less, it wouldn't hurt basic rate employees (which is the most important and largest group by source of income).

* I didn't bother with interest income - as RPI inflation and typical bank interest rates are both about 5%, the tax/tax credit withdrawal is in most cases > 100% of the real income. Rental income assumes that the 10% wear and tear allowance is claimed and no other expenses. Dividend income assumes that the paying company has already paid 30% corporation tax.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Data Protection Act 1998

Here are some extracts from a letter that was handed out at my little girl's (private) school ...

"Dear Parents

As part of [the local council's] Early Years Funding, we have been asked to provide details of all children eligible for funding. [The local council] informs us they require this data ' ... to have a clear picture of the ethnic groups it accommodates; to identify if there are particular issues for localities/communities; to provide information for a larger date picture - London/England. It is collected and used for those and other reasons as they arise.'..."

Then at the back is a disclaimer headed up 'Data Protection Act 1998' which kicks off as follows:

"Early Years Settings, Schools, Local Authorities, the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families and the Department for Children Schools and Families ... the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Schools and the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) and the National Assessment Agency all process information on children and pupils in order to help administer education and children's services ..."

In other words, whatever data they collect is not secure in the slightest, once all these different quangoes have had their grubby fingers on it, eh?

Further, our State education system is totally f***ed already, I didn't realise how determined Nulab were to smother and stifle private schools with the same layers of quangistic crap.

"Britain facing energy shortfall"

More total and utter bollocks, of course, in particular this bit:

"More importantly, a number of older coal-fired stations may also have closed. Under the European Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCPD), aimed at curbing pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, power units built before 1987 must either be modified with modern emissions control equipment, or operate only for a total of 20,000 hours between 2008 and 2015, when they must come out of service completely.".

20,000 hours mean about one-quarter of the time, sure electricity demand is much higher at certain times of the day, but this is still a pretty stiff restriction. And what's this about "coming out of service completely"? We're facing an "energy shortfall" and the EU is forcing us to shut down perfectly good power stations?

In that case, the whole matter can be solved by leaving the EU and building more coal-fired power stations (we have plenty of coal left, as it happens).

"Village schools facing closure"

I have no idea whether small village schools are Worth Preserving, but it strikes me that offering the parents of the pupils at these schools education vouchers (worth the average spend per State sector pupil = around £7,000 in England) and telling them to get on with running the school themselves would be the best way of finding out.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

House prices (1)

A commonsense way of looking at house prices is to compare the ratio of house prices-to-earnings. Taking average UK house prices from 1952 to 2007 from here and average earnings from here (which is unfortunately an index, so let's work backwards from average weekly earnings in 2007 of £457 p.w. from here), we get this (click to enlarge):

Apart from the blip in the late 1970s, the chart pretty much illustrates Fred Harrison's 18-year-cycles, to wit peaks in 1953, 1973*, 1989 and 2007. If house prices now fall as far as in previous slumps, i.e. to a price-to-earnings ratio of four or less, then they will fall by about 50% over the next few years.

* Sure, the 1973 peak should have happened two years earlier, this is not an exact science.

** I started selling off my investment properties in 2002 because I assumed that a price-to-earnings ratio of 6 was a natural upper limit. More fool me.

Yippee! Hurray! (2)

The cable guys installed the telephone socket (we kept our old number!) and modem this morning as promised. There was a bit of a hiccup with a non-existent PIN, the call centre lady in India told me that 'sales' had forgotten to ask for one, and that their systems were down so it would take another day to generate a new one.

Sulk. Fume. Fosters and fags. Sit in garden and plan next move.

Suitably emboldened, I rang back half an hour later and repeated my tale of woe (skipping the lies with which the first call centre lady had tried to fob me off) and a nice Geordie lady called Jill had it up and running within half an hour or so. Her version of events was that they'd set me up on the old NTL broadband, which is not active where we now live and that she'd had to transfer me to the Virgin broadband system.

Jill - whoever you are - you rock!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Oliver Letwin MP

During yesterday's Question Time, Oliver stuck up for "faith schools"* (they provide better education), said he had no problem with parents 'exaggerating' their religiosity to get their kids into such schools (up to each parent to do what they think is best) and ... unless my ears deceived me, finished off by saying:

"I have no faith whatsoever. I am not a believer."

Oliver Letwin - you rock!**

* Didn't they used to be called 'church schools'?

** Well, on these particular issues at least.

Rising star? Rising star?

I've got a one word reply to that sort of nonsense*:


* I am afraid I couldn't find a link to today's articles that still refer to him as a 'rising star'.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

"Student bursaries go unclaimed"

So ... kids from families with average incomes or above are screwed because these bursaries are savagely means-tested; and kids from poor families are screwed because applying for them is so difficult.

NEETs from poor families who'd like to study something are probably doubly screwed because the temptation is to stay on out-of-work benefits which are worth much more than what they'd get as students.

The perfect Nulab clusterf***!

Like I said before, we should take a big pot, throw in all benefits currently paid to 18 - 24 year olds (income support, jobseeker's allowance, incapacity benefit, student grants, irrecoverable student loans and interest subsidy on the ones that get repaid, tax credits ...) and dish them out to everybody in that age group who is not in work (whether student, single Mum or NEET) as a non-means tested Citizen's Income of about £50 a week (which is roughly the current IS/JSA rate for that age group). As a quid pro quo, claimants wouldn't get a tax free personal allowance, to keep the cost down and make it fairer to those who don't claim.

That's that fixed.

"Peter Hain resigns from Cabinet"

... "after his deputy leader campaign donations were referred to the Met Police."

That looks vaguely promising, but no doubt he'll be chairman of some quango or other on £100,000 p.a. for doing sweet f*** all within a few weeks. Or maybe they'll ship him off to the EU?

Mortgage approvals down 37.8%!

See table included here.

Via Housepricecrash Blog. I can't see where they got 50% from?

Good household tips meme

Having been tagged by Ladythinker and spent hours yesterday evening scratching out ideas (I didn't cheat and ask Her Indoors), here are my top four tips:

1. Don't try to wipe tables, hobs etc with a damp cloth, rubbing away at dried on food or oil with a damp cloth is a waste of time. What you should do is make the cloth wringing wet, then squeeze the water over the areas you want to clean so that the stainy bits are actually standing under water. Leave for a second or two. Then wipe. You'll find that the stains come off more or less effortlessly. Water: the greatest solvent known to mankind.

2. Throw away your old potato peelers with the fixed blades and buy one with a swivel blade (mine looks a bit like this). You'll find you can peel potatoes, carrots etc in about a third of the time with one tenth of the effort.

3. Turn your mattress regularly, at least monthly (or even better weekly, as part of your Friday evening routine along with lighting the candles and opening a bottle of red wine, perhaps, makes the Saturday lie-in all the more enjoyable). Unless you have a square mattress or a new-fangled one-sided mattress, there are four possible positions. To help you remember whether it's time to turn it end-to-end or side-to-side, have a rule that says if the label is on top, turn it upside down and end-to-end, if the label is underneath, turn it upside down and side to side.

4. Having spent enough time knocking on doors as well as opening doors to salesmen, there is one killer line to which gets rid of 9 out of 10 salesmen in an instant, it's "I'm sorry, I don't live here". That shuts up all the double-glazing, npower and insurance salesmen on the spot. The really funny thing is, I've tried this with Jehovah's Witnesses as well, and it works a treat!

If anybody wants to pick up the meme, please leave a comment. Don't let me down!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Newmania has given up blogging, as he has better things to do. Maybe The Clunking Fist will be able to take his place?

Quangocracy - am I mad or are they?

My "pointless, meddling, expensive and generally sickening quango of the day" award goes to ... The National Obesity Forum. If you have time, try clicking around the site to disover list after list of other quangoes with whom they "work in partnership".


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Yippee! Hooray!

I can now tick off items one and two from my 8 for 2008 list, to wit, we have found somewhere nice to rent and have completed on the sale of our old house for original asking price*.

I am now betting on there being a house price crash over the next two or three years; I apologise in advance for the deluge of posts on falling house prices that are going to appear on this 'blog.

* I took the average of the actual selling prices of three broadly similar houses on our street that were sold in the last six months and added on £25,000 for the cost/value of the loft conversion that none of the other houses had.

"Men drink far more than women"

Jumping H F***!

That's actually considered worthy of a headline at the BBC!? Who pays for this pointless research in the first place? Oh God, I feel faint.

Said is said (4)

As a simplification campaigner, every now and then I stumble across a comment that deftly and accurately exposes the fundamental flaw in, and hence totally demolishes the basis for, a whole raft of legislation.

Today's corker comes courtesy of Longrider, on the broad topic of ID cards

"The only secure system of identity management is not to have one".

Monday, 21 January 2008

Taxpayers' Alliance gets it horribly wrong ...

While I thoroughly support the TPA overall, I do not agree with this. I dislike Council Tax (because it is regressive) but fully support the idea of Land Value Tax, it being accepted by free-market libertarians as the 'least bad tax' (to replace all other property-related taxes at the very least).

If there is a derelict house on your street it can attract anything from rats, fly tipping and vandalism all the way to squatters and drug dealers. It has been estimated that a vacant or derelict house can reduce the value of all the nearby houses by up to 18%! (Scroll about half way down the article). One of the many positive effects of LVT would be to discourage owners from letting properties fall into disrepair - it has to be paid on the site-only location value, irrespective of what is built on each site or the condition of the building.

Ergo, instead of calling for council tax reductions on such properties, I would rather see a punitive rate being charged, so that the owner is forced to renovate the property, or to sell it to somebody who will. This is a much better way of doing things than subsidising landlords who renovate.

"Doctors say no to dope"

The Times squeezed another hysterical headline out of this non-story last week.

The bald statement that "the risk of psychosis increases by roughly 40 per cent in people who have used cannabis" is totally meaningless, unless we know what the risk is among those who don't smoke dope. As a rough calculation, the risk of a dope-smoker being sectioned is anywhere between one-in-eight-hundred and one-in-three-thousand.

Further, compare and contrast these two statements:

"... cannabis was classified as a less-dangerous Class C drug in 2004..." and "...the proportion of young people using the drug has fallen in the past three years."

Who's to say that the downgrading isn't indirectly the cause of that fall? In which case why not try making it legally available. Since the de-criminalisation in The Netherlands, apparently usage has gone down slightly.

Disclaimer: I smoked dope a few times in my twenties, and to be honest I didn't like it. It stinks and makes me throw up. But each to his own ...

Friday, 18 January 2008

We exchanged contracts today ...

... to sell our old house, completion next Tuesday. Fingers crossed!

I wish you all a pleasant weekend while I desperately try and shift the last bits and pieces from our cellar ...

Another call for a referendum* ...

Federation of Small Businesses ... you rock!

* Via Christina Speight, I hadn't spotted it myself.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

"Smith targets internet extremism"

"First they came for the extremists, and I did not complain because I was not an extremist ..."

"Schools breaking admission laws"

Nulab have done their level best to destroy the State education system, but they're still not happy because some State schools are still pretty desirable.

This all reminds me of the last stanza of "The Trees" by Rush*:

"Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw

* From the 1978 album "Hemispheres"

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

"The £60,000 house that's now worth £10m"

See article in today's Metro.

House prices go up in line with earnings in the long run. If we index up £60,000 in 1972 in line with earnings to 2006 using this, we get £928,000. He's been offered ten times that amount, so he's beaten increases in average earnings by 2.8% a year, compounded. In other words, 1.028 to the power of 36 = 10.

Which is pretty good but not as spectacular as you'd first think, really.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

"Robot suit hurt TV show actor"

Ah, diddums!

The actor involved has thus sawn off the bottom rung of his future acting career, to wit, playing the back-end of a pantomime horse.

My little lass loves "In The Night Garden", and in future I shall watch it with added glee at the thought of those poor thesp's 'suffering for their art'.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Heartbreak for kayakers

After initial jubilation at being the first to kayak across the Tasman Sea, Castrission and Jones were later disqualified on the grounds that they covered the last twenty yards or so on foot.

Lies, damn lies and big numbers

According to this, Antarctic ice is melting at 192 billion tonnes a year.

One tonne of water is one cubic metre. There are 1,000 metres in a kilometre, so one cubic kilometre of water is one billion tonnes. So that's 192 cubic kilometres extra sea water. The surface area of all the oceans is 361,000,000 square kilometres.

Divide 192 cubic kilometres by 361,000,000 square kilometres and you end up with half a millimetre extra sea water*.

Half a bloody millimetre? At this rate, sea levels will rise by two inches over the next century!? Ooh! I'm really scared now! Not.

* That's assuming that 'global warming' doesn't cause more sea water to evaporate, which would reduce sea levels, of course, which may more than offset this effect. Furthermore, evaporated sea water turns into clouds, some of which trap warmth at the earth's surface, and some of which reflect sunlight back into space.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Internet connection

They will not be able to connect me until the end of the month, so blogging will be fairly light for the foreseeable. I am posting this from one of the computers in the village library.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Light blogging (6)

We are moving home today ...

... it may be a while before we get Ye Olde Interweb up and running kwaWadsworth, so output will be restricted to brief rants while I'm at work.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

"Zoo to hand rear polar bear cub"

Here's a not-particularly-interesting-story about polar bears in a German zoo.

So what's the relevance?

It has been alleged that "the polar bear is the first animal to become endangered because of global warming". Er ... given that the average temperature in a German zoo is far higher than it ever will be in the Arctic Circle (unless they keep the bears in a fridge with a glass door) and they seem to be surviving in a German zoo perfectly well, doesn't this dispel the whole myth at a stroke?

As the second article to which I have linked points out:

1. We have absolutely no idea how many polar bears there are, in other words, we have absolutely no way of telling whether numbers are increasing or decreasing.

2. Polar bears seem to live off seals. In winter they catch them through holes in the ice, in summer they catch them off beaches. In other words, even if the ice disappeared, it wouldn't make much difference.

3. The range of temperatures that polar bears can endure is collossal - from a staggering minus 90 degrees C to plus 25 degrees C. If, in future, the Arctic were to warm by five degrees, is it not likely that bears will learn to adapt to temperatures ranging between minus 85 and plus 30? Methinks yes.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Norwegian smiles ...

"Tories target long-term jobless"

The Tories are stumbling blindly in vaguely the right direction.

As regular readers may know, I am all in favour of chucking all non-housing related benefits into a pot and dishing it out as flat-rate, non-means tested, non-contributory universal benefits. Children would get £34 a week and pensioners a flat £138 a week (or £117 plus State Second Pension). Legally resident working age adults (regardless of income or marital status) would be able to choose between a "Citizen's Income" of about £60 (but no tax-free personal allowance) or a higher tax-free personal allowance of £9,000-plus.

This would all be broadly fiscally neutral and would remove the poverty trap as recently highlighted by Migrationwatch, thus getting rid of all the discentives to work, marriage, studying or saving.

This leaves us with Housing & Council Tax Benefit, of course, which average around £90 per claimant household. This could easily be replaced by Workfare schemes, run by local councils paying £90 per week tax-free. Which puts paid to Peter Hain MP's rather pathetic objection that "...the Tory plans were hugely costly and would not work".

Orange Face goes on to say "If you divert people into mandatory community activities they don't get a job at the end of it ... the way to get people back into work was through new skills and training".

This is complete crap: for many low level jobs, about the only skills required are turning up on time and being there. Which would be new skills for a lot of people currently languishing on benefits.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Winter of Discontent

As a pragmatic libertarian, I fully support people's right to strike, which is nothing more than an extension of the 'right to change jobs' or the 'right to throw a sickie'.

Similarly, I fully support the right of employers to tell employees who threaten to go on strike to piss off.

An interesting scenario is where police officers and prison officers go on strike at the same time (despite this being against the law).

Who'd arrest them, and who'd keep them locked up?

Aah .. Nulabour, they've really thought this through, haven't they? To say they couldn't run a bath is an insult to Princess Margaret (scroll down to the very end).

"Iran boats threatened US ships"

A missed opportunity?

Global cooling (3)

The EU Referendum blog brings an excellent summary of the issues.


Sunday, 6 January 2008

"Bishop warns of Islamic areas"

Said is said.

Dr Nazir-Ali, you rock!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

British workers getting poorer (2)

As mentioned a while ago, average wage increases (4%) are slightly less than the increase in the RPI (4.3%), according to yesterday's FT.

Denis MacShane MP (Lab, Rotherham) is a despicable idiot

He recently suggested that men paying women for sex should be made illegal, but it appears not men paying men, women paying men or women paying women (if such a thing exists).

He was suitably derided by the bloggertarians, but what occurs to me is, a lot of the cards in 'phone boxes advertise the services of 'pre-op transexuals'. I assume that this means 'a woman with a dick' rather than 'a man with no dick'. So on which side of the line do these people fall? Can they be paid or not?

"US worker survives 47-storey fall"


As a rough and ready calculation for how long he was in the air, divide height fallen (in metres) by five and then take the square root. This chap fell 150 metres ÷ 5 = 30, square root of which is 5.5.

To check this:
a) Acceleration due to gravity is 9.81 m/s2
b) If you fall for 5.5 seconds your terminal velocity (ignoring wind resistance) is 5.5 x 9.81 = 54 m/s,
c) So your average speed is half that = 27 m/s.
d) He fell 150 metres at an average speed of 27 m/s, 150 ÷ 27 = 5.5.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Ann Cryer MP (Lab, Keighley)

Prompted by Verity over at DK's, I have uncovered some fascinating statistics.

Another Labour MP making evidence-based-policy! Whatever next?

She doesn't always get it right though - she called for immigrants to be forced to learn English a few years ago, which is bollocks of course. Once people are here they are here, you can't deport them for failing a language test. The cheaper and better solution would be to grant residence permits only to people who can already speak reasonably good English when they apply.

* Update - a subsequent post at Vindico's has set me thinking - would such a ban be in the slightest enforceable? Hmmm...

More ecstasy statistics

At last, a sensible article on this topic in The Times!

None of this is new*, of course, but encouraging none the less.

* My posts on the topic are not particularly original either, I hasten to add.

Ron Paul for Prez!

Some heartening news over at Vindico's!

"Huckabee and Obama take Iowa win"

Jumping H F***!

If the Iowa caucuses are any guide to the eventual outcome, we are all screwed. The next US President will be either a Southern Fried Baptist or an Islamist.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Think tanks

I have deleted the 'Petitions' section from my side-bar (it didn't seem to generate many signatures) and added one for 'Think tanks' instead. Some of these produce valuable research or thought-provoking ideas, some of these are there for light entertainment purposes and at least one is there out of childish spite.

I'm still not sure what a 'think tank' is, but if you ever have something that's half-way worth publishing, try hawking it round them. They don't pay much, if anything, but it's all grist to the mill.

What goes around comes around ...

Suggestion #6 of my Bow Group Report of July 2006 was to increase Child Benefit for under-5's to £36 per week.

The first key proposal in Iain Duncan Smith MP's policy group's report of October 2007 was to increase Child Benefit for under-3's to £56 per week.

Frank Field MP has now gone even further and suggests in today's Telegraph that as a starter for five (scroll about halfway down), parents be paid a quarter of a child's overall Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in the first two years of the child's life, (claiming less later on) to enable Mum to stay at home while the child is very young.

He appears to have put his foot in it here: he reckons that the total Child Benefit plus Child Tax Credit for each child is £100,000.

Actually it's less than a third of that: total Child Benefit £10 bn, total Child & Working Tax Credits £13.5 bn in 2006-07 per HMRC Annual Report (in my 'stat's and stuff' section), divided by 13 million children aged 0 - 17 (from 'population pyramid') = £1,800 per child per annum x 17 years = £31,000 per child overall.

"Schools where 1 in 50 girls falls pregnant"

A fine set of statistics on relative pregnancy rates of girls aged under 16 in today's Metro. In short, the number of pregnancies per 1,000 girls is nearly eighteen times as high in boroughs with low incomes/high unemployment/large black and ethnic minority communities as it is in the most genteel borough of all.

Which further supports my thesis that teenage girls look at the economics when deciding whether to become pregnant or not: a girl with poor job prospects stands to gain enormously by having* a baby or two; whereas a middle class lass looking forward to doing A-levels and a reasonable career obviously stands to lose out enormously by doing so.

* amended

Me on the BBC!

Well, sort of.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008


Via Tim W, comes this. Basically, benefits are so generous and means-testing so savage that younger unskilled UK residents are better off on benefits than in work, but migrant workers can earn much more by working here than in their home countries.

Which is exactly what I said a while ago here "... if we had a less savagely means-tested welfare system, under which claimants weren't penalised for taking a low paid or menial job - in construction or agriculture - then it'd be people (who are now on the dole) in those jobs, not East Europeans".

Dave don't got no clue (3)

Apparently, Dave The Chameleon wants 'the Tories to become the party of the NHS'; has 'axed his party's previous proposal to subsidise patients to go private'; as well as calling for fines on hospitals who allow patients to become infected.

Pop quiz, which bits of this rhetoric did Blulab nick off Nulab and which ones did Nulab nick off Blulab? I don't know any more. And I don't care any more either.

FFS, there is no point fining a publicly funded body, yet another reason for having non-state owned competing providers (combined with taxpayer funded vouchers AFAIAC); only then would fines have any effect whatsoever. To the extent that fines are necessary - competing providers would not only lose business if they were to infect their patients, but would also face legal actions and higher insurance bills.

"Brunstrom drugs views dangerous"

Labour MP and all round idiot Chris Bryant comes up with some super policy-based-evidence.

Yes, agreed that drugs can cause harm to the user, as can hang-gliding, pot-holing, DIY, taking legal medication. But the vast majority of the harm is caused by the fact that certain drugs are deemed illegal, which is easily fixed.

Maybe fellow Labour MP Harry Cohen could have a word? Explain the whole concept of evidence-based-policy?

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

"Drugs legal in 10 years claim"

The Chief Constable of North Wales is an unlikely figurehead for the legalisation movement, but hey, he knows a damn' site more about evidence-based-policy than most.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Richard Brunstrom, you rock!

"Poorest children falling behind"

Yup. Not only have Nulab's education policies been a total disaster, they have had the worst effect on exactly those children on whose side Nulab claim to be.

And, as Snafu points out, this is despite the fact that Nulab-controlled councils have had spending increased by twice as much as in Tory areas.

So, once and for all, hosing money at education does not work, so how about trying something that probably will, namely education vouchers? As suggested on page 7 of this; the figure of £5,000 is understated - once you add in Teachers' Pensions and capital spending it's more like £7,000 per State school pupil.

"Paris and Berlin ban cafe smoking"

... another two bite the dust.

"EU casts doubts over Kenyan poll"

New Year, same old rubbish.