Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Another one of those "cow attacks dog-walker" incidents

From Cornwall Live:

A mum-of-two said she thought she was going to die as a cow charged at and then repeatedly stamped on her.

Sharyn Partridge is now urging people to be on their guard after she was “battered” by the animal in Clearbrook, near Yelverton, on Saturday afternoon. Sharyn was left with significant bruising and said that a stranger called Dave, who scared the animal away when he pulled up in his van, saved her life..

And what triggered the attack..?

Tesco worker Miss Partridge, from Barne Barton, was returning to her car after taking her 12-year-old Jack Russell Suki for a walk when the drama unfolded...

“On the other side of the road I could see this black and white cow and a baby black cow coming up. They were trailing behind the others. She was making a noise and then a brown cow turned up. She was obviously calling the other cows. I thought I should just stand still with the dog.”

A few seconds later, the cow charged towards the helpless mum...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Daily Mail on top form

From The Daily Mail:

Man, 25, charged with murder after brutally stabbing his MOTHER, 50, to death in supermodel Gemma Ward's Sydney house - as police investigate whether Ice was involved
* Lanell Latta's body was discovered at a home on Sydney's Northern Beaches
* Police were called to the home owned by supermodel Gemma Ward at 10.45am
* Neighbours of the woman recall hearing screams coming from the house
* Ms Latta's son, Joel Woszatka, 25, was arrested by police in a nearby street
* He has been charged with his mother's murder and assault causing bodily harm
* Home was purchased by Ms Ward for $1.6m last year and has been rented out

Fun Online Polls: Man-made climate change & Have you turned on the central heating yet?

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

Are this year's strong hurricanes and Indian monsoon evidence of man-made climate change?

Yes - 10%
No - 90%

Thanks to all 114 who took part and 8 who re-Tweeted. I'm with the majority on this. It'd be bloody embarrassing if it turned out to be true.

Rapscallion in the comments linked to this fine article.
Sticking with the weather, the Daily Mash republished their article on central heating, as it seems to do this time every year*.

So that's this week's Fun Online Poll:

"Have you turned on the central heating yet?"

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

* One recurring article we haven't seen this year is Ryanair switching to its winter schedule and blaming the reduction in the number of flights on high airport taxes. They've got themselves in to a whole different mess this year.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hard Cheese

More from Project Fear here: now it's cheese that is threatened by Brexit.

...the British Retail Consortium ... has just issued a report warning that, whatever the settlement, food shortages should be expected, and prices will rise across the board. Little wonder: four fifths of food imported to UK shops comes from Europe. There's good reason to believe that cheese will be a chief casualty during Brexit

Well, it's over a year since the pound plummeted after the Brexit vote, so any cost increases due to that should already have happened. In any case, the weaker pound should help our exports, but no, there can be no advantages to Brexit, when you are part of Project Fear.

But if exports have seen short-term benefits owing to a weaker pound, says buyer Bronwen Percival, this won’t last.

In fact, the true culprit is not Brexit at all. As the strapline points out, "Amid ongoing uncertainty, London’s cheesemongers fear the worst", the problem lies in the increasingly botched implementation of it. However "incompetent politicians make life hard for small businesses" is hardly news, is it?

Friday, 15 September 2017

"A short distance away"

From The Guardian:

The discrepancy was condemned by the Booksellers Association’s Giles Clifton, head of corporate affairs. “The BA has already highlighted the unequal treatment meted out by the business-rates system to British booksellers, the staggering 17 times differential between what the Waterstones on Bedford High Street pays in comparison with the Amazon business unit a short distance away,” said Clifton.

A short distance away?

Waterstone's have got a prime site in the middle of the shopping district in Bedford. The nearest Amazon warehouse I can find is five miles out of town in the middle of some fields, near Junction 13 of the M1 (rather conveniently). In location value terms, those are opposite ends of the spectrum.

On a per square foot basis, we'd expect the ratio to be something like 17 to 1, ergo the Business Rates should be about 17 times as much. (If he means that the total rates for the bookshop is 17 times as much as the total rates for Amazon's huge warehouse, then that is slightly more worrying).

Of course, if Waterstone's in Bedford thought that they could sell more profit by relocating to a large warehouse near Junction 13 of the M1, they'd do it. Fact is they can't, that's why they are where they are. They make more money by simply being where they are, and that extra money is what the Business Rates is a tax on (albeit in a very crude fashion).

This bit is a hoot as well:

CEBR director Oliver Hogan said that bricks-and-mortar bookshops had a range of advantages that Amazon did not offer, from involvement “with more reluctant readers, helping them to find books they might enjoy”, to the events they put on and the “physical interface” that “can trigger different and unpredictable exploration of themes and topics beyond what was intended”.

No disrespect to bookshops and the people who work there, but you stumble across a load more random stuff by mucking about on the internet than by browsing in a bookshop.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

YPP (London) meet-up, tomorrow Friday 15 September

We'll be at The Brewmaster nr Leicester Square tube station from 5.20 or so onwards - if you think you'll turn up later than 6.30, please get in touch gmwadsworth@gmail.com or 07954 59 07 44.

Leicester Square Tube Exit 1, turn left and left again into the alleyway (St Martin's Court). We put a yellow YPP leaflet on the table so that you can find us.

Reader's Letter Of The Day

From today's Evening Standard:

You have recently highlighted the issue of 'modern slavery' but this is only the tip of the iceberg.

In economic and historic terms, a slave owner is usually a landowner who takes the bulk of the value which slaves create, leaving them just enough to live on. In those terms, there are tens of millions of economic slaves in this country - all those whose rent or mortgage bills leaves them just enough to live on.

Although nominally free, if tenants or mortgage borrowers move to a higher wage area to get a better paying job, they will find that the bulk of their extra wages is taken in higher rents or mortgage repayments. So landlords and banks act are scarcely better than slave owners - they contribute nothing to the process of wealth creation but collect a large chunk of it anyway.

Mark Wadsworth
Young People's Party

Read it and weep

From The Daily Mail:

Last orders for the traditional boozer? A third of British pubs have now closed since the 1970s thanks to rising business rates and beer taxes...

Yes, it is very sad, but it was the smoking ban wot dunnit, as a pub landlord tries to explain in the comments (and is roundly shouted down).

It's not the beer duty (42p per pint) it is the VAT - one-sixth of the average price of pint £3.60 is 60p. That's more than the beer duty FFS. If a pint of canned in the supermarket costs £1, the beer duty is also 42p but the VAT is only 17p. That's what makes the difference.

It's not the business rates either, here's some total fuckwittery from The Daily Star:

A massive 19% rise in business rates is set to hit 17,000 pubs across the UK – forcing them to whack a 5p price rise on each beer.

A pub can't pass on a property tax or rent anyway but what are the numbers..?

From The British Beer & Pub Association:

Pubs and bars pay 2.8 per cent of total business rates, yet account for just 0.5 per cent of total business turnover.

OK, that means about £800 million in Business Rates each year. But what's their total turnover..? The Morning Advertiser says it's £22 billion.

So the 0.5% is complete shite, multiply £22 billion by 200 and that means UK "total business turnover" is £4.4 trillion, two or three times total GDP.

Divide £800 million rates by £22 billion turnover, that's 3.6% of turnover, about 13p per pint. A quarter of the VAT and one third of the beer duty. Pretty much naff all in other words.

If Rates bills increase by 19% (no reason to assume this is true, but let's run with it), that means 2.5p more per pint, not 5p. But nice try.

As ever, you wonder, are these people corrupt or stupid? At least Tim Martin bangs on about VAT and troubles himself less with beer duty and Business Rates.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

"Pay outpaces house prices in many areas". Or not, as the case may be

From the BBC:

More than half of Britain has seen wages rise faster than house prices in the last 10 years, research by a mortgage lender has suggested...

"While some northern cities, such as Manchester, are less affordable than they were in 2007, in much of the north of England, Scotland and Wales, the gap between earnings and house prices is around a third of the average for London..."

In Scotland, wages rose faster - with the current house price five times the size of typical average earnings in Scotland, compared with 6.2 times in 2007. The same was true in Wales where the ratio has changed from 6.9 times earnings in 2007 to 5.7 times now.

This looks like good news for most of the country if you look at it this way round. Actually it's nothing of the sort.

You have to understand the Law(s) of Rent. The amount that people are prepared to pay in rent is their net wages minus the basic cost of living. The basic cost of living is the same everywhere in the country, but (average) wages differ markedly. The amount people are prepared to pay in mortgage repayments is broadly similar to local rents; you just multiply the rent by thirty-two (the inverse of just under 3% interest rates).

Let's take a baseline of net wages = £20,000, basic cost of living = £15,000, so rent is £5,000. Houses cost 32 x £5,000 = £160,000 = a price-earnings ratio of 8, which the article says is typical for England.

In London (upper extreme) average net wages are £35,000, living costs are the same so rent is £20,000. Times that by 32, houses cost £640,000, a ratio of 18 (like it says in the article).

That's why Scotland and Wales are more 'affordable'. Stick net wages of £17,800 for Scotland into the formula and hey presto, the ratio comes out at 5.0.

Further, the main reason why Scotland and Wales have become more 'affordable' since 2007 is because the basic cost of living has increased faster than net wages in those areas, so the amount going to rent has also fallen, ditto house prices and hence the ratio. That's not good news, it's bad news (especially for landlords, but that's another topic).

"It's different this time"

From City AM:

British banking is an “accident waiting to happen”, according to a new report from think tank the Adam Smith Institute marking the 10-year anniversary of the Northern Rock crash.

Today’s paper, authored by Durham University finance and economics professor Kevin Dowd, also claims the Bank of England’s stress tests are “seriously flawed” and that banks are still too highly leveraged...

“It is disturbing that 10 years on from Northern Rock, the best measures of leverage – those based on market values – indicate that UK banks are even more leveraged than they were then. The biggest risk facing the UK banking system now is the Bank of England’s own complacency...”

The findings of the report have drawn criticism from a number of figures, including Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money, which now owns the “good” assets of Northern Rock.

“My experience, and the objective data, say to me that the interventions that have been made since Northern Rock crashed mean that a crash of that type, in my view, could not happen again,” she told City A.M.


There's a credit crunch/land price bust every eighteen years, no amount of banking regulation will prevent that, you've got to change the tax system (or adopt other measures to depress land prices).

Even if that were fixed, banks are run by criminals. There's another scandal every couple of years. There's a good list here. Libor fixing, PPI mis-selling, totally unnecessary interest rate swaps, money laundering/assisting with tax evasion, and rigging exchange rates. Not to mention the usual background insider trading, market rigging, overcharging etc. And that's just UK banks. I once found a longer list going back decades and all of it seemed rather familiar.