* Posts by Jim99

24 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Dec 2013

Get 'em out for the... readers: The Sun scraps its online paywall


Re: I've never understood why Murdoch is so hated

"Does it?

There may be quite a few with varying degrees of right wing neo-con views, but all viewpoints left are much less than 'lots'. I'm having difficulty getting the count of left wing, mainstream newspapers above one, maybe two if I count the Morning Star."

I can think of no country of Britain's size with anywhere near as many daily national newspapers. The Mirror, Guardian and Independent are generally left-of-centre. Several others are politically very balanced: the Financial Times publishes a range of opinion and can be surprisingly left-wing in its editorials (Noam Chomsky himself has said you are best advised to go to the business press for proper unbiased reporting). Metro is very balanced indeed in its opinion sections like the letters pages. There are lefty weeklies (e.g. New Statesman). And behind it all sits the scrupulously-unbiased BBC which keeps everyone else honest.

There seems plenty of choice to me.


Re: I've never understood why Murdoch is so hated

I am not defending phone hacking. I think evesdropping on celebrity tittle tattle is pathetic, and those who infringe those people's privacy should be prepared to face punishment. But there must be some situations where journos listening to voicemail messages, whilst illegal, would have been in the public interest, and where that would be a legitimate defence in any prosection? Lets say it revealed a government minister or general took a £1m bung in a defence procurement? Or lets say it meant Savile had been put in prison fifteen years ago. Clearly any journalist using a public interest defence would have to have behaved responsibly; they can't start messing round in crimes that the police are investigating. But that the British tabloids could not find the truth about Savile while he was alive, despite all the evidence out there, does not indicate to me a press that is out of control.


I've never understood why Murdoch is so hated

Okay, so many people disagree with his politics, as do I on the whole, but Britain has lots of newspapers, representing a range of viewpoints, so there is something for all tastes. Many people do agree with the Sun's political stance (unless you really believe the public are so daft that they let newspapers tell them what to think) and voluntarily spend their hard-earned money on buying it. I find it difficult to object to that.

Murdoch has kept lossmaking papers going (I heard the Times was losing £30m a year not so long ago) that might have otherwise shut (or been taken over by another yet-sleazier billionaire, equally as unlikely to be sympathetic to lefty causes, and maybe, God forbid, Russian). Many of the worst behaviour the Murdoch papers are accused of (e.g. listening to people's voicemail) were also done by Mirror Group papers, and the absolute worst offences (deleting messages on Milly Dowler's phone after she disappeared) turned out not actually to have happened. If News International phone hacking had revealed Jimmy Savile's crimes back in 2001, would we all feel so aggreived about it now?

Bosch, you suck! Dyson says VW pal cheated in vacuum cleaner tests


Re: I bought a Sebo

Why is it good that you don't need to change the bag? Doesn't that mean the thing is not sucking anything up?

It's the white heat of the tech revolution, again!


Would Tim have rescued Rolls Royce in the seventies?

I agree with the broad thrust of this article, but sometimes Whitehall DOES know best. For example, the government rescued Rolls Royce's aeroengines business in 1971, secured its new fanjet tech which forms the basis of most airliner engines today, and kept a big mainstay of British industry going. Was this wrong? Should we avoid rescuing future Rolls Royces (a gold mine) for fear we are actually rescuing future British Leylands (a money pit)?

UK.gov mobile not-spot coverage project set to be completed in the year 2155AD


You must hate the Frenchman as you hate the Devil himself.

Dear The Government,

Please make 4G masts get installed every 200 yds down Britain's railways. I have been told the barrier to this is that British Rail's old telecoms network down the side of lines was flogged off after privatisation to THE FRENCH (ie. Thales) and they aren't interested in mobile masts attached to their cables. They must be bullied and threatened until they relent.

Yours, etc.


Typewriters suck. Yet we're infinitely richer for those irritating machines


Computers double in power every eighteen months, BUT...

my company PC took five minutes to boot-up in 1995, AND in 2015.

Which figure should the productivity statisticians take into account? An 8000-fold increase in power? Or a 0% reduction in time spent looking out the window first thing in the morning?

Clueless do-gooders make Africa's conflict mineral mines even more dangerous


Re: Bandit theory

The governments of Singapore and Hong Kong both levy big taxes indirectly by being the main owners of freehold land and the principle landlords. This works in a land-constrained city state in a way that is not true more widely. Finding an example of a big (both physically and by population) country with European living standards and taxes less than 20% of GDP is pretty hard.


Bandit theory

It is right to be wary of governments' excesses. But proponents of the "bandit" theory need to explain why all the richest countries have public sectors between a third and a half of GDP, and somehow remain rich, while poor countries have a smaller share of the economy taken up by public sector, as did now-rich nations back when they were themselves poor. Government adds something (I'd hesitate to suggest what) that makes being rich possible. Given a free choice, the countries most people would most like to live in also have big government. It is an odd type of bandit that takes your stuff but somehow leaves you better off.

It looks like there is a balance here; a private/public Laffer curve if you will: 0% government (ie anarchy) makes you poor. A 100% public-sector economy under state-socialism makes you poor. There will be big debates where its best to be in the middle.

Being common is tragic, but the tragedy of the commons is still true



I hope London's financiers dig deep for the RNLI: I bet a big number of call-outs are clueless City-types crashing flash new yachts into pointy bits of the Isle of Wight.

Smart Meter biz case still there, insists tragically optimistic UK govt


Re: Question for you

The policy is the policy because it's the policy. That's how government works.

Why is that idiot Osbo continuing with austerity when we know it doesn't work?


Re: Tim: Article on the "Economic Cycle"?

From what I remember of undergraduate economics, nobody really knows why business cycles happen, but what is clear is that human beings have not worked out how to stop them.

Config file wipe blunder caused deadly Airbus A400M crash – claim


Re: @Ledswinger - The investigation should center on...

Actually, the aviation industry has a pretty mature attitude to this: the priority is learning lessons, not assiging blame. The Civil Aviation Authority's "Mandatory Occurrence Reporting Scheme" is a document many industries (e.g. banks, food manufacturers) could learn from.

So why the hell didn't quantitative easing produce HUGE inflation?


Re: Tons of inflation

"In a well functioning market, more houses would have been built a long time ago to meet demand (i.e. houses cost a lot less than £300K to build, so why is no one building more of them)."

Try this experiment:

1) Buy a field from a farmer;

2) Write to the local council's planning department asking for permission to build a house on it;

3) See what happens next...

So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?


Who thinks companies are "people". Where has this idea come from? Lawyers talk of companies (and cooperatives, friendly societies, trusts, etc for that matter) as having legal personality, simply for want of a better word.

Quantum computers have failed. So now for the science


human brains

If quantum computers are physically possible, wouldn't the human brain be a quantum computer? If it isn't, then maybe they can't exist?

C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts


Re: Yes

If I recall from undergraduate economics, other features that will help a currency union work:

- free movement of labour allowing migration from poorer to richer areas. The US scores well here, but Britain less so (for several reasons such as regional disparities in house prices and a lack of social housing down south making it hard to up sticks); free movement is possible in the EU, but language and cultural barriers greatly lessen its incidence compared to America.

- a financial system (whether banks, bond markets, stock markets) able to transfer people's savings to investors across the system as a whole: the $ and £ areas do well on this, but the eurozone lacks continent-wide banks and makes less use of shares and bonds to raise money for businesses than in the US.

- a common legal system so contracts, bankruptcies, etc. dealt with in a predictable way in the event of a "shock": US and UK have this: Eurozone less so.

- free trade in goods - US, UK and EU all have this within the currency areas.

- free trade in services - EU still has barriers in place here: e.g. different legal arrangements, regulatory arrangements for the professions. So does the US to a degree with State-level regulation of some services.

There were probably other factors I forgot. I am pleased to read an article that mentions optimum currency areas: anyone looking at the problem without using this lens will probably make the same mistake the Euro's architects did, i.e. look at the currency as a political project, rather than an economic one.

Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties


Re: Tim, get real.

Worstall is using his voice to argue that UK companies pay 0% tax, but income from dividends is taxed at normal income tax rates. And I completely agree with him. Otherwise the same stream of money is being taxed twice: first when it is company profit, and then when it is dispersed to the company's owners.


Re: TAX shouldn't be taxing

Tax avoidance is going to the sandwich shop and taking-out rather than eating-in because take-out means not paying VAT.

Tax evasion is doing that, and sneakily eating in anyway.

Free WiFi coming to UK trains ... in two years



The government (via state-owned National Rail) owns all the track and the land the track is on. If it offered cheap leases to mobile phone companies for masts and cables along all of the UK's rail routes, then 3G/4G masts every 300 yds (including in cuttings, tunnels, etc) would mean mobile broadband for passengers under their existing phone packages and back-up comms for the rail operators. No public money needed.

Manchester festival marketers fined £70,000 over spam ‘mum’ texts


Spelling "you are" wrong twice in a two sentence message is quite impressive.

Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then


Re: yeah..

There, their and they're.

What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?


Re: Why have a license at all?

I think many people ARE afraid of their fellow citizens...politicians who seek to limit our freedom are only pandering to a sizeable chunk of public opinion. There are not many people I'd trust to own a hand gun responsibly. But it goes far wider...the public don't even trust their neighbours to trim their hedges properly; they don't trust them not to blot the landscape with ugly new buildings, or chop down native trees...hence local councils are given the job of policing all this. The bureaucracy interfering with all aspects of our lives goes on and on, but we asked for it because we distrust other people more than we value our own freedom.

Cheap 3D printer works with steel


Post scarcity

Much of the scarcity we face is artificial, created by government to meet wider social goals.

Housing expensive? It's cos we don't let people build on fields so as to preserve the countryside.

Power bills high? That's because people are scared of radioactive accidents at nuke stations, and cheap coal power creates CO2.

Food expensive? It would be much less so if we let third world farmers export their goods to us, but we protect the incomes of domestic agriculture instead.

I am not saying all of these wider goals are wrong (although I think two of them are), but I think it is important to be aware of the costs we pay to achieve them, particularly when those costs fall heaviest on they poorest.