Category Archives: Politics

Osborne’s spending review

So what do we all think?

My, and my wife’s, submissions on the NHS Agenda

Another day, another attempt to slow our government’s dismantling of everything of value in this country. Yesterday it was freedom of information, the day before it was the BBC; today it’s the NHS.


Turns out the Government has proposed “a new mandate to NHS England for this Parliament“, and asked for comments … but very, very quietly, in case someone hears and actually submits some.

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My comments on the Government’s call for evidence on Freedom Of Information

The UK government is presently running a call for evidence on Freedom of Information. (It closes at midnight tonight, so if you want to contribute, get your skates on! Here’s a simple way to do it.)


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How to measure the strength of the economy, redux

Last month, I argued the point (admittedly at rather more length than necessary) that GDP does not measure what we’re interested in. I’m currently reading Tim Harford’s fascinating book The Undercover Economist [,] — which, by the way I highly recommend — and I was pleased to discover that he agrees with me.

UE reissue Bpb.indd

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Is the stock market zero-sum?

Suppose I buy a share in Microsoft from you at $400. Microsoft do well, and it increases in value to $500. At that point, I don’t want to push my luck any further, and sell my share for $500. It just so happens thatyou are the buyer.

In this scenario I have made $100 by “playing the markets”. But you have lost $100: you received $400 and paid $500, and ended up holding the same share that you started with. In effect, I have taken $100 from you. (Thanks!)

That was a zero-sum transaction, because your loss exactly cancelled out my win.

My question: is the whole stock-market zero-sum?

Letter to my MP: Please vote AGAINST Osborne’s cuts to working tax credits

Just sent this. Please write to your own MP if you also feel strongly about this issue.

Dear Mark Harper,

I am writing to you as my constituency MP. As you will know well, the Forest of Dean is not a prosperous area, and your consituents will be harder hit than most if George Osborne’s proposed cuts to working tax credits go through. I am begging you, if you stand for the people who you represent, to vote against this regressive measure.

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Austerity for the rich

It’s only just occurred to me …

That when we say that in times of national economic hardship, we need to practice austerity so that we live within our means …

We always mean that the poorest must tighten their belts — in the present case, by cuts to tax credits for the working poor. Why do we never mean that the richest must tighten their belts, by tax increases? Isn’t that austerity as well?


I don’t think there is any intrinsic reason why “austerity” should mean “austerity for the poor”. We’ve just got used to it meaning that.