Category: Uncategorized

The gorilla channel

Via @pixelatedboat on Twitter, a parody extract from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury.


Just so plausible.


Why is the UK government so keen to help money launderers?

Richard Murphy at Tax Research UK:

This is a quite extraordinary argument [made in Nicholas Soames’s reply to a constituent]. What it is suggesting is that:

a) That because Companies House is in the public sector it cannot be subject to anti-money laundering rules.

b) That Companies House has a duty to incorporate for anyone without question.

c) The prevention of money laundering is an unnecessary burden on business.

These claims are just wrong. The first claim is contradicted within the letter: it is a matter of choice that Companies House is not subject to anti-money laundering legislation.

This, then, destroys the second argument. It is also a matter of choice that Companies House must supposedly incorporate for anyone, whoever they are or are not and whatever their intentions. Clearly that could be changed if desired, and the letter admits it, so it is not true. And of course as a matter of fact it is already not true: Companies House cannot incorporate now for a person debarred from holding office as a director and so they already cannot incorporate at will.  The claim is just wrong and shows that the failure to act is deliberate choice.

Third, if it was true that anti-money laundering regulation is a burden why has the government imposed this law on the private sector already? And does it really believe crime and tax evasion worth putting up with so incorporation can take place within an hour or two? If so, what does that say about their judgement and priorities?

Soames clearly got a briefing on this letter: what is written is not in the language of a constituency MP. What that briefing confirms is what I suggested in December: the UK government really is intent on promoting opportunity for money launderers and those committing related crimes, such as tax evasion.

Why is that?

Remainers must stop sneering at Brexit stamps and blue passports

James Kirkup in The Spectator:

Anyway, why would Leave voters flock to the Remain side? Why go running to people who have shown very little interest in understanding you and your views, much less respecting and representing them? Passports, stamps and the rest are symbols, but symbols matter. They really matter. For some Leavers, the ability to have the colour of passport they want is symbolic of everything they voted for: a country they find familiar, a country where they feel listened to.

My emphasis.  Still peddling the lie that the EU stopped us from having the colour of passport we wanted.  What’s the word?  Sad.

Michael Wolff Did What Every Other White House Reporter Is Too Cowardly to Do


Thank God for that. Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they’ve exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does.

Everyone around Donald Trump is too polite to Donald Trump. Democrats, foreign dignitaries, underlings… all of them. And the White House press is perhaps the worst offender. From the media pool playing along with Sarah Sanders during press conferences—conferences where Sanders openly lies and pisses on democracy—to access merchants like Maggie Haberman doling out Trump gossip like so many bread crumbs, too many reporters have been far too deferential to an administration that is brazenly racist, dysfunctional, and corrupt. And for what purpose? It’s clear to me that Haberman and the like aren’t saving up their chits for just the EXACT right time to bring this Administration down. No, the only end goal of their access is continued access, to preserve it indefinitely so that the copy spigot never gets shut off. They are abiding by traditional wink-wink understandings that have long existed between the government and the press covering it.

But Wolff didn’t do that. He did not engage in some endless bullshit access tango. No, Wolff actually USED his access, and extended zero courtesy to Trump on the process, and it’s going to pay off for him not just from a book sales standpoint, but from a real journalistic impact. I am utterly sick to death of hearing anonymous reports about people inside the White House “concerned” about the madman currently in charge of everything. These people don’t deserve the courtesy of discretion. They don’t deserve to dictate the terms of coverage to people. They deserve to be torched.

Minimum Wages, Monopsony and Towns

Simon Wren-Lewis at mainly macro:

I suspect many labour economists regard monopsony in the labour market as something of a special case. That perception may need updating, argues Marshall Steinbaum here, drawing on recent work by him and coauthors for the US. They find “that most labor markets (as defined by occupation and geography) are very concentrated [few firms], and that this concentration has a robust negative impact on posted wages for job openings.” That is exactly what you would expect from monopsony: the fewer firms there are in a location, the less often vacancies occur, so the less these firms when suppressing wages have to worry that workers will quit.

The article considers a number of policy implications stemming from widespread monopsony that are worth reading. This could include, in the UK, improving rail communications into cities besides London. The one directly relevant to this post is that these results may help explain why minimum wages do not reduce employment. In the absence of minimum wages, relatively poorly performing firms may be able to shift the impact of poor performance from profits to wages. The minimum wage stops that happening.

If monopsony is prevalent in large towns but not big cities, I couldn’t help wondering if this might have something to do with the difference between towns and cities in the Brexit vote I mentioned in my last post. Support for Trump is also strong in the rural parts of the US, which is where Steinbaum et al find monopsony is prevalent. What this monopsony study suggests is that working conditions within firms are likely to be worse in towns than in cities. What impact might that have on voters? One response to worker exploitation in towns is for people to leave, as they do. For those who stay, an overriding concern might be the survival of firms within the town. This in turn could have an important impact on voter attitudes.

A very interesting point about the difference between cities and towns.
Later:  The paper is also covered by Slate.

‘Iconic’ blue British passport to return after Brexit


British passports will change from burgundy to blue after Britain leaves the EU, the Home Office has said.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said he was delighted to return to the “iconic” blue and gold design which came into use almost 100 years ago.

The new passports will be issued to those renewing or applying for a passport from October 2019.

Burgundy passports were first issued in 1988. The EU has never compelled the UK to change the colour of its passport.

Good observation:

passport twitter

Quoting racists

Democracy Dies in the Light

Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine:

When the nation’s representatives pass sweeping tax legislation that the majority of voters do not want and that will in the long-run harm most citizens — helping instead corporations, a small, rich elite (including donors), and the politicians themselves — there can be only one interpretation:

Our representatives no longer represent the public; they do not care to. American democracy has died.

Democracy didn’t die in darkness. It died in the light.

The full glare of journalism was turned on this legislation, its impact and motives, but that didn’t matter to those who had the power to go ahead anyway. Journalism, then, proved to be an ineffective protector of democracy, just as it is proving ineffective against every other attack on democracy’s institutions by this gang. Fox News was right to declare a coup, wrong about the source. The coup already happened. The junta is in power. In fact, Fox News led it. We have an administration and Congress that are tearing down government institutions — law enforcement, the courts, the State Department and foreign relations, safety nets, consumer protection, environmental protection — and society’s institutions, starting with the press and science, not to mention truth itself. The junta is, collaborative or independently, doing the bidding of a foreign power whose aim is to get democracy to destroy itself. Journalism, apparently, was powerless to stop any of this.