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Saturday 29 February 2020

Graduates still good for the economy shock

When I looked at the evidence back in the 1990s, the value of the 'graduate premium', the average lifetime earnings advantage that graduates have over non-graduates, was about £250,000. The supposition since Blair expanded the HE sector has been that this is now about zero, but a new study by the IFS apparently shows it's still there - though shrunken to £130,000 for men and £100,000 for women. This is good news for a number of reasons.

I say apparently because the study is not, at time of writing, on the IFS website, and I must rely on newspaper reports of their advance copies. 

The research I did for my Masters back in the '90s looked at the lifetime earnings of a non-graduate occupation, a second fix joiner, with a level 3 - 5 BTEC. Hanging solid-core doors of 30kg - 35kg each, on piecework, from age 18, our chippie would progress from 4 or fewer doors a day to an average of 8, peaking at times at 10, and would maintain a level of about 6-8 until his early 50s, when the number would start to decline, at age 60 to the same level as the new entrant. Peak piecework earnings in their 20s and 30s could fund an extravagant lifestyle and consumerist consumption, but would decline rapidly as physical strength and stamina decreased.

Graduates on the other hand, from 1990s data, suffered low earnings in their teens and 20s but enjoyed sharply increasing incomes from their 30s onwards which did not plateau but continued to increase incrementally until well into their sixties, then tail off only slowly, unlike the sharp drop-off for manual occupations. The shape of the graphs seems to have stayed the same, with some useful additional refinements.

The new study shows differences between the sexes. Women's earnings grow more slowly than men's in their 30s and tend to plateau, whilst male earnings continue to climb. This is almost certainly due to childbirth and childcare effects - again, as I have reported previously, this also accounts for much of the 18% average overall earnings gap in the economy, only around 4% of which is attributable to taste discrimination.

The study also points out the benefits to the economy of the graduate premium -
Overall, the IFS found the government benefited from extra tax revenue and national insurance contributions of £110,000 per man and £30,000 per woman, over and above the costs of study to the government.
And importantly, whilst the top 10% of male graduates enjoy a lifetime premium of £500,000 or more, the bottom 20% can actually lose money, their lifetime graduate premium being lower than the cost of their university maintenance and tuition costs.

This is all very bad news for Labour leadership candidate Kier Starmer standing right now on a platform of abolishing tuition fees - at a annual cost to the economy of £7.2bn - which would just make the rich richer, and even the incapable and mediocre in the bottom 20% come out evens. It would discriminate hugely against manual and non-graduate occupations, Labour's traditional voting base, and favour Labour's metropolitan elites of arts and media graduates. It is a suggestion that would fill the 'B' arks with graphic designers and telephone marketeers. And lose the next two elections.

Covid Update
Whilst there is a sort of mild hysteria in the media (metropolitan based and therefore liable to contract the virus themselves) about government unpreparedness and lack of special measures to protect journalists and BBC staffers, in Germany there is a sort of despair at the dreadful state of their own health readiness - and, as Der Spiegel writes


Thursday 27 February 2020

Sajid Javid's uninspired whine

Sajid Javid is not a man who can craft words well. His sad little litany of complaint in the Commons yesterday demonstrated not only his unpolished am-dram rhetoric, but more importantly his utter lack of understanding of the central task of this government. It really is just as well he's no longer in office.

The clue is in Allister Heath's piece in the 'graph today -
Brexit isn’t enough: politicians need to take back control, to renew our democratic culture, reintroduce accountability and improve the quality of the state. They need to be forced to take responsibility even when they don’t want it. They must become their own masters, working on behalf of their electorate, not spokespersons for out-of-control departments. They need to relearn to be managers, moulding the system to their commands. They should hire their own people, not inherit hostile teams.

If politicians cannot make their minds up on an issue, they ought to call referenda, not abdicate decision-making to mandarins or judges. Our system of government is no longer fit for purpose: the old Yes, Minister civil service and its jobs for life and gongs for failure has run out of time; but so has the more recent technocratic and juristocratic experiment.
Javid's exhibition was not so much that of an extinct Ovine as that of a newly castrated goat realising he's missing something but not quite realising what. Ministers who gain their stature from a powerful and unelected undemocratic nomenklatura propelling them into cabinet should not be surprised that their bass has turned to treble, their rumble to a pitiable whine, when their civil service bollocks have been lopped off.

In this period of transition, in winning back the organs of the State for democracy from the unaccountable establishment that has captured them, the powers exercised by Number 10 are a necessary discomfort for ministers. And an opportunity to learn to grow a pair of their own. As Miss Patel is so competently demonstrating.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

The corruption at the heart of Europe's courts

I'll post on the Trade Agreement negotiating positions when we publish the UK's position paper, but for now, a little nugget for you all. It's hugely satisfying when some independent academic evidence comes along to validate a point one has been making for many years - in this case, the inherent corruption and mal-judice embodied in both the ECR and ECHR. The European Centre for Law and Justice, normally a body that campaigns on social justice issues, has just issued a research study.
The study has found that, out of the 100 judges who have served on the bench of the European Court of Human Rights in the period 2009-2019, nearly a quarter (22) have strong links to George Soros’ Open Society Foundation or to NGOs like Amnesty International and others which are funded by it. Human Rights Watch, for instance, has received $100 million from the Open Society Foundation since 2010.

Some of the NGOs receive so much of their budget from Soros that they are in effect wholly owned subsidiaries of his foundation.

The links between the judges and the NGOs are substantial. They include working for years as members of the board of directors or executive council of these NGOs; having teaching posts at institutes funded by them; being a salaried director of programs for the Open Society Foundation or associated NGOs; and undertaking other forms of paid work for them. The full list of these links can be found on pages seven and eight of the report.
And that from a decent piece from RT

Monday 24 February 2020

Covid-19: Living with the threat

Up here in my high Alpine valley the sound of helicopters is not unusual. Air ambulances here ferry skiers with broken legs and fallen climbers rather than the UK's stabbing victims, and the power company Kelag use them constantly for checking the web of power cables. Helicopters at night, however are something else, but last night at about 9pm came the throb and bass beat. The origin and direction of the Bundesheer's Bell Hueys was in no doubt - from the Gebirgsjäger base over the Villacher Alpe to the Italian border crossings. Hey ho, I thought, they're closing the borders. Last Summer they ran an extensive exercise to airlift troops to the Alpine passes in the event of another migrant surge, so the sound and path of the helos was quite familiar. In reality this time, it's a Chinese virus rather than Iraqi economic migrants that they're tasked with stopping.

In the event the borders haven't yet been closed. There is intense pressure from the EU - backed up with a generous dispensing of millions in cash - to keep the EU economy going at all costs. In Brussels, the security of their federation may outweigh the fate of 1% of the EU's 460m subject peoples in the minds of the apparatchiks.

The Mayor of Villach is concerned about the legal brothel at Hohenthurn. Up to 120 prostitutes, mostly from eastern Europe, work there and at weekends floods of Italians - 400 to 500 every weekend - cross the border to buy their favours, reports ORF. He tells the press he is powerless to close the brothel, and the Italians are unlikely to restrain themselves.

I suspect the authorities, including our own government, now accept that Covid-19 cannot be contained, as I wrote a week ago, on Monday 17th. It's all moving very quickly now. The actions by the Italian authorities are likely to be a mix of panic-reduction measures and blame avoidance. Realistically, they have no chance of halting the pandemic.

Sunday 23 February 2020

Shutters start to come down on internet freedoms

We are now, as an advanced culture, moving into a phase of the most pernicious and regressive restrictions on free speech since we fought battles in the 1960s and 1970s to establish those freedoms. Oh I know that's been the cry ever since when, mostly from those with extremes of views that no-one missed very much. 'Spiked', which hides under our spoof Guardian offers, has long advocated a pure freedom that would allow anyone from kiddie fiddlers to murderous Islamists to post anything, but most of us want some restrictions. And that's the problem. First, we're a European nation but there's no homogeneity in the law - 
In most of Europe, defamation is a criminal offence, and in the dark-red nations it's an offence for which citizens can be imprisoned. The UK, Ireland and Norway (in the fringe blue nations defamation tends to be dealt with by a midnight visit from men with guns) are alone in upholding the freedom to risk only one's wealth from defaming someone. However, as we've seen, the Online Harms (how loathsome is that title!) White Paper proposes making a number of non-criminal statements into statements to be censored, under the pretence of protecting children but clearly aimed at protecting politicians and wealthy figures in public life.

In France, the release of a video made by M Macron's chum Benjamin Griveaux of an act of masturbation has angered the énarque elites; it should be the right of all French politicians to send Onanistic videos to vulnerable young women. Or maybe to their grandmothers. What has annoyed them in particular is the extent of internet anonymity that allowed the spread of the material; they want to include measures to identify wanking-video re-posters in a proposed raft of anti hate-speech legislation currently going through parliament. However, as Politico EU has reported, the draft French legislation is already in trouble with the EU, who consider it incompatible with EU law.

In Germany, legislators are set to pass laws requiring internet companies to report offending posts to the police. As the FT reports
Under the planned new law, which is the toughest of its kind in the world, social media platforms will not only have to delete certain kinds of hate speech but also flag the content to the Office of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA). Posts that companies will be required to report include those indicating preparations for a terrorist attack and the “formation of criminal and terrorist groups”, as well as those featuring instances of racial incitement and the distribution of child pornography. The networks would also have to give the BKA “the last IP address and port number most recently assigned to the user profile”.
However, given that defamation is also an imprisonable offence in German law, it is easy to imagine a tweak or two to include insults aimed at politicians and public officials - the law stands as

However, one major issue remains. The national location of servers on which the offending material is posted. Facebook, Google and Twitter are already rolling out systems architectures that avoid a physical EU data presence. The effects of GDPR and swingeing fines to date have already made them cautious.

If US servers (and, less likely, UK servers - our civil servants love the German defamation laws) are immune to the new rafts of Euro Censorship legislation, what option does that leave for French and German governments except to restrict access to social media in the same way that China does? Are Euro versions of Weibo, WeChat and YouKu the future?