söndag 4 november 2018

EU threat to YouTube.

When the new EU copyright rules kick-in, I would expect a lot of the remainers will be losing their enthusiasm. Being inside the EU, I have already come across numerous non-working links due to EU regulation. Reminder to self: sort out VPN.

Monster puzzle

I came across this project to restore these monster American locomotives which dated from the 1940s. In principle, they consist (since many survive as historic monuments) of two large locomotives with one boiler supplying the steam. What I do not understand is the rationale behind the immensely complicated design.

The same effect was achieved more simply by the Beyer-Garatt configuration, with two engine units and a boiler slung in between on a carrying frame. The space over the engine units was used for fuel and water. The boiler was set low down, giving the engines a low centre of gravity which made them suitable for high speed running. Large numbers of this type were built for use in Commonwealth countries and some narrow gauge (2ft) examples are running on the Welsh Highland Railway.

In principle, the Beyer-Garatt could be much larger than any that were every built; a double 2‑10‑2 would have been practicable, with no limitation to the size of the boiler. The puzzle is why, when faced with demands for more powerful locomotives, ALCO rejected, or did not consider, the Beyer-Garatt?

söndag 21 oktober 2018

“Asian” child grooming gangs

An article in the Observer discusses what should be done about what it describes as “Asian child grooming gangs”. It says that, “It is imperative, though, to be clear that exploring this question to inform the prevention of abuse in no way implies whole ethnic or faith communities are more likely to sexually abuse children than others.”

But then again, the question needs to be answered. Skirting round it helps to feed the rumour mill and the real racism, not the genuine concern that there is one faith group (which one could it be?) which seems to be disproportionately represented in these cases. If this is really the case, then the reasons need to be explored.

The Observer does not help by trying to promote diversionary arguments like “Asian men are more likely to work in the night-time economy, which gives them greater opportunity to exploit vulnerable children.”

And it is disingenuous to blame the authorities, as the authors of the article attempt to do. “The disgusting prejudice towards the mainly white, working-class victims in places such as Rotherham and Rochdale was not limited to the mainly Asian perpetrators, but extended to the police and social workers.” It is the attitudes fostered by the Observer and its ilk which have forced the police and social workers to look away in order to avoid accusations of racism.

torsdag 11 oktober 2018

Should employment be subsidised?

With increasing automation, it has been suggested that it will be necessary to subsidise jobs. Is there anything in this idea?

There are unlimited amounts of work waiting to be done. It can be done by people with little in the way of formal qualifications and which cannot easily be automated.

However, the suggestion of subsidy raises a key point. Real wages are the net purchasing power of take-home pay ie take-home pay minus sales taxes, in particular VAT.

Gross labour costs to employers are take-home pay, plus wage-related employer taxes, primarily NIC, plus taxes nominally payable by employees, ie employee’s NIC plus employee’s PAYE Income Tax.

The difference between the two used to be called the Tax Wedge, but the term has gone out of fashion. Another way of expressing it is to say that the incidence of all labour related taxes, including those nominally done by employees, is on the employer. Depending on pay levels, it is between 60% and 90% of net purchasing power of wages, and amounts to a huge employment surcharge falling on the employer. The UK is not the worst country in this respect, not by a long way. In Sweden, the tax surcharge on top of net real wages is more than 100%.

The consequences are that there is a substantial incentive to replace labour by capital – eg self-service checkouts – and that wages cannot fall to market-clearing levels.

Before we talk about employment subsidies, we should think about tax reforms, initially particular, through the substantial increase in tax and NI thresholds so as to take low skilled people out of tax altogether. There is no point in paying employment subsidies and then taking it back in tax.

onsdag 26 september 2018

Västlänken no longer needed

Rosa and Blå Express bus routes have now been re-routed to run direct from Järntorget to Nordstan and Centralstationen, via the Opera House. That solves the problem of the long journey time between the station and the west side of Gothenburg city centre, which is the main benefit of Västlänken.

If these buses are not sufficient, a new route could be introduced to run from the station to Järntorget via the inner ring road (past Heden).

So now Västlänken can be dropped and a few tens of billions of kronor saved.

måndag 24 september 2018

Brexit puzzle

The UK government is not proposing to restrict the flow of goods INTO the UK, nor is the EU proposing to restrict the flow of goods OUT of the the EU. That poses a set of questions, but not the ones that are being asked; there have been warnings about Britain running short of food after Brexit, due to customs delays. But there has been no threat of sanctions against the UK, so what is this all about?

More relevant was an article last week in the Guardian described the problem of reinstatement of customs at Rotterdam. EU rules will require customs checks on goods from Britain at every port. However, there does not seem to be any corresponding need to do the same thing at Harwich and Felixstowe, nor does the UK government appear to have the inclination to commit the considerable resources.

Likewise, passengers arriving at E27 destinations from the UK will theoretically have to declare goods purchased in the UK. I can envisage being made to queue for customs checks on returning home to Gothenburg after a visit to the UK. If day trippers to Dieppe are liable to be frisked by French customs, what will that do for the economy of Dieppe?

The problem is one primarily for the EU. It arises because of the way the Single Market is constructed. Why is nobody picking this up?

lördag 22 september 2018

Palestinian dream comes true

In the dream, the Jewish Israelis all pack up and go, leaving only the Christians, Muslims and Druze. The Palestinian refugees, now in their third generation and numbering five million descendants of the estimated 700,000, can now return.

To redress all the other injustices, compensation is be paid to the estates of 1948 landowners on the basis of 1948 use value, plus 70 years rent. Tenants displaced in 1948 are compensated on the basis of 70 years disturbance.

That raises a practical question. How would the restored ownership and tenancy rights be allocated seventy years later? Would there be a court to settle disputes between claimants, eg second cousins? How long would it take to settle these disputes, which would inevitably arise? What would happen in the meantime?

EU threat to YouTube.

When the new EU copyright rules kick-in, I would expect a lot of the remainers will be losing their enthusiasm. Being inside the EU, I have...