Left Outside

Tom Bursnall, today’s new Worst Person in the World

Via @ByrneToff, we have an ex-Chairman of Conservative Future, ex-Conservative Party Councillor and future UKIP apparatchik who thinks people on unemployment benefits shouldn’t be able to vote.

He’s being so intensely shitty that I think I’ll do him the honour of promoting him above the entire cadre of the heartless US prison service and make him April 17th’s worst person in the world.

Tim, he’s one of yours, a UKIPer, and you really should do the honours, but I can’t help it. Mr Pro-Capitalist, pay attention this is important:

The primary goal of British political evolution has been resistance to arbitrary rule. Starting with Magna Carta the Baron’s received protection from the King, but this protection had roots going back in theory to the Norman Conquest. Many of these privileges were extended and universalised through the Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights in the seventeenth century. Later, when elites tried to use the courts to enrich themselves by seizing land these rights were reinforced by popular resistance to the Black Act by protest and in the courts. These rights were hard won, and hard fought for.

Once again, through the nineteenth century these rights and protections, chief among them the right to vote, were reinforced again  and again by Great Reform Acts, perhaps finally the Suffragettes completed this process in 1928, by getting political rights extended to all, so that everyone could protect themselves from arbitrary rule…Jesus, about a thousand years of history on one theme you seemed to have missed… politics is there to keep people safe from arbitrary rule.

To you Tom, Government may be all about redistribution, but hating poor people has completely blinded you to the main purpose of politics, protecting people from autocrats like you. What is more arbitrary than taking the vote away from people at their most vulnerable? I’m not sure I can think of one, it certainly goes against a thousand years of British history.

I’ll tell you something funny. How you’ll laugh Tom.

You are a member of UKIP, a party whose raison d’etre, if you’ll excuse my filthy French, is to maintain the hard won freedoms of one thousand years of British history from preening, authoritarians…that is…to protect this country from…

…you.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one to notice it seems.

Filed under: History, , , , ,

Inflation trends upwards

After abating in the first quarter of the year inflation has edged up to 3.5%.

Inflation was pushed up by increases in the cost of clothing and food. The uptick in inflation has been imported, but with it I worry  came a dose of timidity for the Bank of England. The Bank  has remained tolerant of inflation but has suffered because of it. I’m known for my dovishness about inflation and these numbers do little to change that.

More domestic demand, even if it results in a little more inflation is just what we need in a depressed economy. But these inflation numbers appear to be little influenced by changes in domestic demand and much of these price increases have been imported. This means they may lead us to be poorer in two ways, one direct, one indirect. Higher import costs are like a supply shock, we really are poorer because of it. The indirect effect is that higher costs still look like the Bank of England is stimulating the economy too much and can lead to the bank doing to little or being actively counterproductive. This is the problem with a central bank targeting inflation. It can be a very, very bad idea as we saw in Europe in mid-2008.

Sometimes inflation increases because that is what getting poorer looks like, things get more expensive. A monomaniacal inflation targeting central bank, for example the ECB under the impeccable Trichet, will take this sort of inflation number as a sign that the economy is overheating, that we are not getting poorer but getting rich too quickly and will act to reduce inflation, usually by throwing lots of people into unemployment. Sometimes by throwing a whole continent into chaos (slow hand clap for Trichet).

Today’s inflation numbers mean nothing in isolation. They are provisional, subject to revision and they refer to an arbitrary length of time with little macroeconomic importance. Nevertheless  they have the power, if they become politically salient, to influence the actions of the Bank of England. These numbers already signal we’re all a little poorer, were the Bank to start to tighten policy today’s numbers could help make us all poorer all over again.

Filed under: Economics, , , ,

Behold, Justice!

They have spent 23 hours of every one of the past 14,610 days locked in their single-occupancy 9ft-by-6ft cells. Each cell, Amnesty International records, has a toilet, a mattress, sheets, a blanket, pillow and a small bench attached to the wall. Their contact with the world outside the windowless room is limited to the occasional visit and telephone call, “exercise” three times a week in a caged concrete yard, and letters that are opened and read by prison guards.

America’s prison service, today’s worst people in the world.

In fact, most days worst people in the world. This kind of casual denial of humanity reminds me of this story from a few months ago.

Is the US the only country where more men are raped than women?

That’s the claim in this n+1 piece, which is well worth a read.

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

Filed under: Foreign Affairs, , , ,

When NGDP is Depressed, Employment is Depressed

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