Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off, but there are some slightly odd assertions being made: let us take, as an example, the essay titled Immigration is key to solving the productivity crisis.
Currently the UK falls significantly behind the levels of productivity in similar countries. Between 1997-2007, average productivity grew by 2.1% each year: only 0.01% behind America. But from 2007-2017, the UK has only experienced an average of 0.2% productivity growth per year, falling behind America, Germany, France and more. The financial crash of 2007 is partly to blame for a decrease in productivity, as experienced by all countries worldwide, however the UK has not recovered as well as other countries and this can be put down to poor policies which do little to boost our productivity.
Well, there is very little to disagree with here—our governments have been spectacularly rubbish, for sure.
Immigration is a key policy area which will need to be addressed to increase productivity.
Oh, rilly? Colour me sceptical...
Many overlook the advantages of skilled migrant workers in an economy as it is argued that they “steal jobs” from UK citizens. It is also claimed that migrants are a burden on our economy and welfare system. In reality, migrants do not crowd out employment (the so-called 'lump of labour' fallacy) and many take up lower-skilled jobs that UK citizens do not want to carry out.
OK, so we have a definition problem here: skilled migrants, by definition, do not take-up "lower-skilled jobs"—and I don't think that you'll find many people objecting to skilled migrants. But, as pointed out by Alex Noble at the Continental Telegraph, we need to define our terms and understand what we want.
So far so good—we need a supply of skilled migrants for the foreseeable future. Hopefully we can all agree on that.

Do we need unskilled migrants?

Because when people with no skills come to the UK, we suffer and so do they. They are either forced into crime, fall into modern slavery, or find themselves exploited working on the black market.
To return to the ASI article, the conclusion is wrapped up as follows:
Therefore it is clear that migrant workers are a vital part of our economy.
[...]
Policies need to be put in place by our government to allow free movement to continue if our economy is to become more productive. Also we need to allow workers to come into our economy to fill occupational shortages. If we have occupational shortages and no migrants fill the places due to government policies creating a barrier to their entry, we will have failed in boosting productivity and becoming a more diverse, rich society.

The bottom line is that a boost in productivity will increase our living standards and immigration is a key factor to helping us along the way. Skilled migrants do contribute to the economy and to a much larger extent than many are willing to accept.
Skilled migrants might do—but it is not clear that all migrants do. And I am very far from convinced that becoming a "more diverse" society is necessarily what the British people want: some large proportion of them do not—there are many memes mocking the "cultural enrichment" of this country.

But leaving aside the potential damage that "diversity" does to a demos, this argument ignores the progress of the last ten years: a decade during which, apparently, our productivity has fallen off a cliff.

Has the last decade seen a notable drop-off in immigration? No, it has not: in fact, net migration has pretty consistently increased over the last decade.


So, I am confused: if immigrants are so good for productivity, then why has the last decade seen so little improvement in said productivity?

There are a number of possible answers to this question—with the idea that we are counting wrong being one of the more credible. However, let's be clear: productivity is, essentially, a function of output and the hours that go into producing said output. And whilst high-skilled migrants—your computer programmers, etc.—might well boost this measure, a great number of migrants are doing low-skilled, low productivity jobs.

Indeed, a number of skilled migrants are doing low productivity jobs—such as nursing. Yes, we need nurses but working in our health service—prone, as it is, to Baumol's Cost Disease—does not increase productivity by any significant amount. In fact, needing to recruit more nurses from abroad is a symptom of the very problem that we are examining—if productivity were increasing in the NHS, we would not need so many nurses.

Regardless, I am not convinced—on the evidence of the last decade—that immigration (skilled or unskilled) are the secret sauce to an increase in productivity.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A rubbish fairytale

Inspired by this photo, delivered to your humble Devil's Facebook timeline...


And the government of 500 million of those 8 billion people decided that they didn't like all of the rubbish being buried near them. So they imposed a colossal rubbish burial tax onto the waste disposal people, who wept and wailed.

"Fear not," said the government of the 500 million. "Just ship it off to some poorer countries with lax standards of disposal, and get them and their children to sort through and to dispose of it."

And lo! it came to pass, and everyone was happy.

But then the biggest of the poorer countries (which had now become moderately rich) said, "we do not want your rubbish anymore; and we will not take it." So, the rubbish went to countries with even laxer standards of disposal.

And, yea, a few years later, the 500 million were terribly surprised that the oceans were full of their rubbish! It was almost as though all the countries with lax standards of disposal had just chucked it all into the sea.

What was the government of the 500 million to do? Should they realise that their mining operations created holes more than big enough to take all of their rubbish, and lift the tax on chucking the rubbish into them?

But how would they then fund their exotic travel, and high salaries, and gold-plated pensions?—after all, there was barely enough money to pay for those as it was. But then, with the help of some very large environmental organisations, the government of the 500 million realised that they could have their cake and eat it...

The government of the 500 million decided that they could keep their tax on chucking rubbish into big holes—but get more money by also putting a tax on the rubbish that wasn't chucked into big holes!

And everyone lived happily ever after.*

* Apart from the poorest amongst the 500 million, who were made poorer—especially the disabled poor people who needed straws to drink through. But then these poor people didn't much like the government of the 500 million, and since the government of the 500 million wasn't elected anyway, the views of these poor people didn't really matter.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Cuban Health System

The Cuban Medical system.

Over at the ASI blog, Tim Worstall asks if the Cuban Health statistics are true.

I can't comment as to the statistical verisimilitude, but I can provide some perspective on the standard of care—via a junior doctor friend who was sent on elective in Cuba, in the first quarter of this year.

People may get treatment, but it is (to be understated) not good: my friend used phrases like "torture", "gynaecological violence", and "shocking filth".

Births are often "'induced' by violently finger-banging the mother"; she describes seeing a doctor "up to his elbow in a woman's vagina"; "c-sections performed, and sewn up, without any anaesthetic at all*"; and women "left in agony without even a paracetamol".

There are, really, no drugs at all beyond basic opiates, paracetamol, etc.—and doctors prefer to "wait and see" for days before prescribing even those: the preferred option is to see if the (literally) screaming patient has any family who will bring them painkillers first.

Many of the medical procedures and practices that we take for granted in civilised societies are dismissed as "Western propaganda" or "unproven lies".

So, having heard from someone first-hand about the Cuban medical system, I would say that the statistics are highly dubious: and, even if they are true, they hardly paint the whole picture—which would look like something painted by Hieronymus Bosch.

Incredibly, I have had arguments with stupid fucking socialists who extol the virtues of Cuba's medical system—useful idiots who uncritically cite WHO statistics whilst having no idea about the reality. These people are either ignorant or lying.

Be in no doubt that the Cuban medical system is—like everything else in that poverty-stricken shit-hole—an absolute fucking nightmare. But most enraging of all—as in the rather more recent cautionary tale of Venezuela—it is a nightmare built and maintained by precisely the kind of evil socialist shitbag who refuses to believe that hard socialism always and everywhere leads to poverty and oppression.

In other words, the kind of arsehole that supports that monkey Corbyn, and his organ-grinder McDonnell.

*EDIT: my junior doctor correspondent would like to add the following corrections and additions...
The reason the consultant had his arm inside the woman, as referenced above, was that he was scraping the placenta out.

Caesarean sections are performed with anaesthetic. What I saw was some episiotomies [essentially, cutting of the perineum to facilitate birth—Ed] without anaesthetic and no pain relief for their subsequent suturing. In this particular case, I had to hold a torch over the woman’s genitals whilst she writhed in pain and begged them to stop...

I mentioned paracetamol, not aspirin. I was told that paracetamol would give the patients liver failure. I argued that, at the prescribed dose, it would not: but they still do not use it.

The other case I found deeply disturbing was that of a woman, post Caesarean-section, who was lying prone in bed unable to move due to the agony of her surgical wound. She was the “let’s wait a day and see” patient. The doctors said that they would, after a day, “maybe consider tramadol.” She was crying and punching the wall with the pain. She had no TED stockings on and was unlikely to move due to the pain. This increased her risk of post operative blood clots! The medical students told me they were helpless and hated that they couldn’t give her anything. It was therefore up to her family to provide painkillers...

Oh, and BTW, you can have as much pain relief if you want. As long as you pay.

Finally, to quote a Cuban medical student: “we can do whatever we want. What are they going to do—sue us? It’s free heath care!”

So much for the socialist model the Cubans say is so fucking great...

I would point out that my junior doctor friend is very far from being the rabid anti-state healthcare libertarian that I am. But, after two months in Cuba, I think that I detect some slight disillusionment with the wonders of socialised medicine. This is, and particularly from a woman's perspective, the reality of healthcare in this benighted country.

Of course, if one is sent to Cuba on an elective shortly before starting a job in the UK (and one of her other options was Uganda), the NHS must seem like the best system in the entire fucking world. A fact that is, I am sure, entirely coincidental...

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Why can't the Tories PR?

Though they are not a party that your humble Devil whole-heartedly endorses, the various Tory governments since 2010 have not been entirely shit. They have, on the whole, taken actions that support their aims supporting people into work—and that allow more low-paid people to keep more of their own money.

Philip Hammond's recent article in the Telegraph spells some of this out very clearly—especially as regards income tax.
Today’s increase in the personal allowance means that everyone will pay less income tax. A basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less income tax than they did in 2010.

And the benefits aren’t just for those of working age: from today, pensioners on the full basic state pension will receive an extra £180 a year; the threshold at which young adults start paying back their student loan will increase to £25,000.

And we are taking the next step to deliver our commitment that by 2020 parents will be able to pass on a home worth up to £1 million to their children without paying any inheritance tax.

But part of the problem that the Tories have had—not least in gaining a majority in the Commons—is that they are utterly crap at PR. They simply do not seem to be able to trumpet their achievements, whilst they encourage certain media outlets to focus only on perceived failures.

The cause of this is very easily understood once you have read Hammond's full article: three of last four paragraphs (in an article of only 19—that's nearly 16%) are dedicated to bashing Labour.

What idiot decided that was a good idea?

One assumes that it is someone who has never worked in the private sector. Let me explain why this approach is so stupid...

In the private sector, you never bash your competitors by name. Why?

Because if you name your competitors you not only acknowledge that you have competitors (rather than being the absolute best), but you also give your potential customers a name to search for—to see if they have a better offer.

Yes, you can downplay concepts: I work for a company that makes proprietary software, so we happily point out the downsides of Open Source—but we never cite specific companies who are deploying those solutions.*

So, the last four offending paragraphs are as follows:
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone – but it would all be at risk under Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, have announced plans that would see debt spiral to more than 100 per cent of GDP, leaving our economy vulnerable to shocks, forcing us to waste billions more on debt interest and handing the next generation an unmanageable burden.

Taxes on families and businesses would rise to their highest level in peacetime history – with ordinary working families left to pay the price.

Contrast that with the Conservative commitment to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in a future we can be proud of.

The last paragraph is fine, but the preceding ones are terrible. So, in the spirit of Open Source, let me rewrite these sections as I would do it and give it to any Conservatives reading...
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone—but not every political party takes the same view that we do.

It is a sad fact that previous governments’ over-spending means that simply paying the interest on our National Debt costs over £40 billion per year. This is more than the entire Defence budget, and almost as much as it costs to educate every child in the country.

We know that this debt has to be paid off. But there are many ways in which we can find the money to do so.

As Conservatives, we have chosen to concentrate on our core belief that hard work should be rewarded: that is why we have targeted our tax cuts to benefit the most needy and deserving in our society.

Many argue that recent Conservative governments do not care about the poor, but the actions that we have taken at the Treasury simply do not bear this out.

The simple fact is that this Conservative government is committed to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in the type of society that you have told us you want to see.

All of the main issues are addressed: the government strategy, the emphasis on work rather than benefits, the achievements of the government in taking less money from the poor, and addressing the democratic issue—brought into sharp focus by Brexit—that it is the voters' issues that matter.

At the same time, the phrase "previous governments" allows this government to take issue not only with Labour, but also the Coalition and the Cameron/Osborne government if it wished to do so.

And, I believe, that fundamentally the article is more positive—without mentioning the Labour Party once.

But, hey—I have no professional degree or qualification in PR: I would be interested in your thoughts...

* This is not dirty tricks: if we didn't believe that our own software was better, we wouldn't bother with the expense of a development team.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A certain degree of value

A student is suing her university, alleging that the course was crap. Quelle surprise!

But here is a lovely comment on the situation...
Amatey Doku, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said the fact student complaints are becoming “increasingly common” proves the current system is not working.

“With fees now so high, and students accruing such unsustainable levels of debt, it is no wonder that some students feel they have no choice but to demand more from their courses, and to seek recourse if those standards are not met.

“This is an obvious consequence of government policy to transform Higher Education into a market, with students pushed into the role of consumers.”

Students have been "pushed into the role of consumers", eh? And they have "no choice but to demand more from their courses"?

So, what is the implication here?

It's pretty clear, I think: students were entirely happy to put up with crappy, "mickey mouse" degrees as long as someone else* was paying for it.

* i.e. the taxpayer.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Gunz! Shootz!

As usual, after the latest school-based mass murder, there are lots of people screaming about Americans and guns, American love of guns, and general gun fun.

However.

Gun ownership per capita in the USA has remained consistent over the last 45 years.


On the other hand, the frequency of mass shootings has significantly increased—especially in the last 10–15 years [information about two thirds of the way down that article: graph reproduced below].


Instead of screaming about gun ownership, perhaps we should be asking what has changed to increase the prevalence of people who want to carry out these mass shootings...?*

Crazy idea, I know.

* And no, I don't have an answer. I have a few suspicions but, in the meantime, I look forward to opprobrium and the occasional sensible comment.

UPDATE: Squander Two was saying something similar some time ago. Do go and read the whole thing...

NGOs are learning from the master

As more NGOs—including Save the Children (for later) and the Dave Milipede-fronted International Rescue Committee—are embroiled in sex and corruption scandals in the wake of the Oxfam allegations, it is worth reminding ourselves that these organisations are simply learning from the true masters of pimping and child sex—the United Nations.
And the wonderful thing about the UN, you see, if that they are a pan-global organisation so that their staff pimping, blackmailing and fucking kids is not confined to any one area; they get to run their protitution rings on every continent (from May '06).
...

So, there you go: if you are a paedophile, just go and work for the UN and you too can not only fuck kids but actually get them to bring in a bit of cash too.

It's simply a case of "everyone else is doing it, so why can't we...?"

And, thanks to our government's funding, through taxation, of fake charities such as Oxfam, we can go to bed with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with having paid for child prostitutes.

On the bright side, Oxfam has said that it will stop bidding for government funding (for a bit).
Oxfam has said it will stop bids for Government funding until ministers are satisfied it can meet the “high standards” they expect.

The charity received £176m in government support last year.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said on Friday: “Oxfam has agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK Government funding until [the Department for International Development] is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect of our partners.”*

If we defund all of these thieving, child-fucking bastards, the government would probably be able to cut the deficit to zero within months.

Stop funding fake charities with our tax money—now!

* No, not sexual partners. Stop sniggering at the back there...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Justice for Grenfell

In order to try to keep up the general hysteria around the Grenfell Tower fire, a pointless group called Justice4Grenfell has pissed away well-meaning members' donations on a great big publicity stunt.
Group Justice 4 Grenfell hired three vans with adverts which read: "71 dead. And still no arrests? How come?"

Au contraire, there have been a number of arrests—and, indeed, convictions. How about this lady...?
A woman who made fraudulent claims for support offered to people affected by the Grenfell fire, has been charged with fraud.

Joyce Msokeri, 46 (17.02.71), of Ambleside Gardens, Sutton, will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates, Court, today, Tuesday, 5 September charged with six counts of fraud.

Msokeri was arrested on 25 July after making fraudulent claims for support being provided to the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. She was charged on 4 September.

Or this gentleman...?
A serial fraudster has been jailed for 21 months after he pretended his wife and son were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in a “despicable” attempt to pocket £12,500 set aside for victims of the disaster.

I grant you that more arrests should have been made...
People who were unlawfully subletting flats in Grenfell Tower will not be prosecuted if they come forward with information about who was in their properties at the time of the deadly fire, the government has said.

The guidance has been issued amid fears that the threat of prosecution has prevented tenants coming forward to help identify people who were there on the night of the blaze but may not yet have been reported as missing.

Still, you can't have everything, eh...?
Tottenham MP David Lammy, whose friend, the artist Khadija Saye, died in the fire, has repeatedly questioned the official number of dead as “far, far too low” and said that “failure to provide updates of the true number that died is feeding suspicion of a cover-up”.

How would David Lammy know? This is a man so stupid that he can't count higher than ten without taking his socks off.

Given how much the public enquiry will inevitably cost the taxpayer, perhaps Justice4Grenfell should just shut the hell up and let the vastly overpaid panel get on with the enquiry.

Or, if they genuinely give a crap about "justice for Grenfell" use the donated monies to actually help people—rather than concocting pathetic publicity stunts.

Oh yeah? So what has happened for the last ten years, exactly?

Over at the ASI, they are posting some of the winning entries of the Young Writers on Liberty. One does not want to put such keen minds off,...