Monday, 24 July 2017

The Long March

The Marxist Antonio Gramsci famously advocated advancing the revolution by undertaking a 'long march through the institutions'.  They've been at it for decades, of course, and over the weekend there was a little snapshot of their progress.
Sixty-six of the world’s leading minds were announced as Fellows of the British Academy ... the very best of humanities and social sciences research.  This year’s new Fellows are experts in subjects ranging from feminist theory to the economic development of Africa ... The British Academy’s newest cohort of Fellows also reflects the growing diversity of research in the UK. The proportion of women elected to the Fellowship has doubled in the last five years. This year, 38% of the new Fellows are women, exceeding the 24% share of female Professors in UK universities.
Sounds exciting.  What have these folks been researching?  Here are some extracts.  For the avoidance of doubt, I haven't made up any of this.   Well, you couldn't make it up - could you? 

Young women and mass media, feminist theory, gender and popular culture, British fashion industry, creative economy, fashion start-ups and micro-enterprises in the urban environment
Theory and politics of multiculturalism, secularism, Islamophobia, racial equality; sociology of ethnic minorities in higher education and employment; with special reference to Muslims in Western Europe
Inequality in education and labour market outcomes, educational efficiency, school and teacher effectiveness, social mobility 
Fundamental rights, interdisciplinary studies of law, gender studies, critical and feminist legal theory 

Colonialism and post-colonialism; civil wars and extreme violence in Africa; political violence and political justice; decolonization of the university and higher education; war on terror 

Comparative welfare state studies; social policies and gender inequality; theorisation and measurement of contemporary poverty; family policies within a comparative perspective; social care in contemporary states and societies; European Union social policy 

Legal recognition of family ties, the consequences of relationship breakdown, and experiences of the family justice system 

Inequality, wage structures, minimum wages; peer effects; the economics of migration 

Feminism in philosophy 

Contemporary social and cultural geography; agri-food studies; moral economies and consumer practice 

Language and migration; new dialects; multicultural youth language; language and social structure; sociolinguistics of West Africa 

Global development and social change; issues of inequality, gender, environmental sustainability, health and infectious disease in Africa and beyond; interfaces between social science, science and policy

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Everyone's Favourite Topic: Trains

Well, OK probably the weather - but trains run it a close second.

This past week something quite significant happened: the government scrapped plans to electrify the tracks in areas across Wales, the West Midlands and further up the West Coast.  Cue outrage from the greenies.

Why significant?  Because electricification is the only known strategy for getting anywhere near the UK's decarbonisation "legally binding targets" of 57% by 2030, 80% by 2050.  Electrification of transport and (even more dramatically), of space-heating, see below.  Most eyes - and subsidies - have been on decarbonisation of power generation thus far, because it's the easy target.  But transport (= oil) is about a third of our energy consumption and space-heating (= gas) another third.  So, the theory goes, when you've figured out how to de-carb power generation, you shift as much as possible of transport and heating onto the leccy.  Simples.

Accepting that 2050 is a long time in the future, you'd still expect government to be plodding methodically in that direction if it had these targets as a serious policy priority.  Around these parts we all know, don't we, that GDP trumps GHG - so we're less surprised.  But hard evidence of this important political principle is always interesting to come by.

Notwithstanding what a great topic trains is (cue our good friend Kev ...), space-heating is a really juicy one for fans of irrational policy-making.  Above is a graphic from the really quite diligent Energy Technologies Institute which crunches a lot of numbers on these matters.  The dark bands at the bottom is energy capacity used in the form of electricity in this country through a particular year (it's 2010, for reference).  A bit more in winter months than in summer.  And proving very difficult to decarbonise.

Now look at the red plot - that's energy capacity required for space-heating, largely gas-fuelled.  What kind of expansion in the grid will we require to switch from gas to electricity?  How will it cope with those winter peaks?  How much will need to be spent on replacing 20 million-odd old boilers?  Paid for by whom?   etc etc etc.

In the immortal words of ISIRTA: "I'm sorry, it can't be done!"  And I think the government knows it.


Friday, 21 July 2017

Interest Only mortgages - a scam from the city?

Real non-story in the FT today.

Under their usual remoaning headline of course.

With PPI coming to an end there is an industry of ambulance chasers looking for some more victims.

Here the 'victims' are people with interest-only mortgages.

Given that property prices in the UK have followed a pattern, see graph above, why would anyone ever care about not repaying the principal?
You will always over time have a capital gain bigger than your mortgage, normally over 20 years by at least 100%.

You have to be historically unlucky, taking out a large mortgage right at a market top, to not manage to make a capital gain over 10 years, let alone 20 years.

This is just a non-issue. In fact I would consider it back to front - surely the scam is making people re-pay mortgages and forfeit their wealth for no reason when they are earning more in their property anyway? That must be the real scam, how much money the banks make on excessive interest rate charges on secured lending. All pushed even harder by the FCA since 2009!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BBC Salaries explained

Image result for bbc your

BBC reveal the salaries of their top talent.
To inevitable controversy.

A spokesperson for the BBc contacted C@W to explain.

 "We compete for those first class Remainers in a very competitive market.
Whilst it is true that many of the leading Remainers would work for the Remain supporting, EU loving, BBC for less than they might at the evil Murdochian SKY, it would be unfair not to give these Remoaners the sorts of sums they, and we, feel they should have.

A commercial environment can be very competitive, so I'm told. I have no idea as I work for the public sector BBC. 

But assuming that commercial rates do have an impact, you can see that the BBC needs to pay the very best to attract the best Remoaners out there.

I mean, we would love to have Jon Snow. Love too! Openly Anti-Tory. The very personification of the Guardian. But we just cannot match the significant package that he gets at C4.
You see, Channel 4 is a major source of Remainer, Anti-Brexit media people competition for the BBC. We have to try and keep as near as possible to the vast salaries they pay themselves, just to hang on to our own Europhiles. Like Gary Lineker. John Humphrys. David Dimbleby. Laura Kuenssberg. We simply have to pay them huge sums to keep them. Have too!

And our, ahem..I mean ..your top talent are left wing too. Which is wonderful. 

But as you must be aware, the rise of Corbyn has caused a shift in political allegiance.
It used to be axiomatic that all potential BBC 'talent,' in the arts. Comedy. Literature. Academia. News. Sport, and social affairs, were lefties. And they would be ardently pro-EU.

But since Corbyn, senior left wing media people cannot be assumed to be signed up European Federalists!
This obviously puts a premium on the totally committed, 'ignore the referendum', Remainers, we already have.

Graham Norton, Claudia Winkleman, Chris Evans. Fiona Bruce, Andrew Marr, and political editor Laura Kuenssberg.Huw Edwards. NickyCampbell. Its people like these we must retain.

And anyway, the EU does make a significant contribution to these elite virtue signalers salaries. So in a way, it doesn't cost the public anything at all.

Unless you want to bring up that old chestnut that EU money is somehow just taxpayer's money redistributed. With an admin fee taken out."

If you wish to receive BBC content contact and make an annual payment of £147.00.
If you do not wish to receive BBC content you must still make an annual payment of £147.00 anyway.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Interesting; Brexit Migration Map