Friday, May 27, 2011

Could These Stories By Any Chance Be Related ?

Karl Marx, 1847 :

“The main purpose of the bourgeois in relation to the worker is, of course, to have the commodity labour as cheaply as possible, which is only possible when the supply of this commodity is as large as possible in relation to the demand for it”

Story 1:

Net migration in to the UK soared by almost half last year and is now close to the record levels of 2005. It is the fifth quarter in a row that net immigration has risen signalling a worrying upward trend. And two of the main drivers were a slump in emigration and a sharp rise in Eastern Europeans coming to the UK for work – two areas that will not be affected by the Government’s annual cap or other immigration measures.

: The number of foreign workers increased by 1.7 million in the last decade and accounted for all the increase in employment levels over the period.

: Work visas increased by six per cent in the year to March 2011

: Asylum claims increased by 11 per cent

: Migrants granted settlement in the UK increased by four per cent

Strange. I seem to remember being told that it was the booming UK economy which was the lure, that we should think of mass immigration as a tribute to our economic success, and that anyway, they'd all go home if there should be a slowdown. Most odd.

Story 2 :

The average wage taken home by 11 million British workers will remain 'roughly the same' until at least 2015, experts have warned. Think-tank Resolution Foundation said low and middle-income earners were not likely to benefit from the expected economic recovery. It predicted workers' pay in four years time would be the same as in 2001.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Contradictions Inherent In One Sentence

At Comment Is Free :

"The likely indictment of John Edwards for misuse of campaign funds is the final blow for a rare champion of economic justice"

Against The Odds

Anna Davis, the Standard's Education correspondent (who describes an undergraduate as a a schoolgirl), reports :

A London schoolgirl praised by Michelle Obama during her visit to Oxford told today of the First Lady's "unbelievable presence". Clarissa Pabi, 20, who grew up in Islington and is now president of the Oxford Poetry Society, was hailed by Mrs Obama for succeeding against the odds.

During her speech at Oxford University, the US President's wife told pupils from Miss Pabi's old school: "If you start to doubt yourselves, I want you to remember Clarissa. Remember her story if mine does not resonate. Success is not about our background - Clarissa knows that."

Miss Pabi, educated at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington and now studying English at Oxford, said: "It was unbelievable being in her presence and hearing her talk."
What an inspiring story. I presume Clarissa's parents, only semi-literate, raised her in dire poverty - but the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School brought out her full potential.

Yes ?

Miss Pabi was inspired to go to university by her mother, who has a doctorate in chemistry. Her father and grandparents were educated at university and her younger brother is at the University of East London.

Hmm. I don't know if Mrs Obama was just badly briefed, but if you could draw any moral at all from the story (to date) of Clarissa Pabi, it would surely be that success is about your background.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Those Dreadful Tory Cuts

"Spending in April was 5 per cent higher than a year ago at £54.1 billion. This was mainly caused by a 26 per cent rise in interest payments to £1 billion as the Government services its growing debts and interest rates rise along with inflation.

The Government's deficit reduction plans were dealt a blow today after official figures revealed that last month's borrowing figures were the highest ever recorded for the month of April.

Public borrowing, excluding financial interventions such as bank bail-outs, hit £10 billion, compared with £7.3 billion the previous year, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS)."

I don't understand. Gilt rates don't seem to have risen - where's this extra 5% spending coming from ? And anyway, 'Daily Mail Reporter' can't do maths - if interest payments rose 26% to £1bn that means they rose by £206 million. If spending rose by 5% to £54.1bn then it was £51.5bn a year ago - a rise of £2.6bn, of which less than 10% is attributable to increased interest payments.

So where's the extra spending going ?

Daily Mail really are no good. Page 4 of this pdf shows :

Central government account
April Financial year
2011 2010 2010 /11

Current expenditure
Interest 4.6 3.6 43.2
Net social benefits 14.7 14.0 173.2
Other curr expndture 34.8 34.0 387.1
Total curr expndture 54.1 51.5 603.5

So interest is £1bn more, social benefits £0.7bn more, other £0.8bn more, total £2.5bn extra of which 40% is down to increased interest - presumably not because of increased rates but because of increased gilt issuance.

You expect most journalists, as Arts grads, to be functionally innumerate. But they could have found someone who could add up for this story.

(sorry the formatting's no good. And H/T Brian for the pdf)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Grooming ... on a Sunday afternoon

They had picked up the girl – whom they had never met before – after seeing her in a drunken state outside the care home as they drove around the city.

The girl fell unconscious inside the car due to her intoxicated state, but when she awoke she found herself in a state of undress.

OK, maybe this one shouldn't be under grooming but a more serious offence - although the two are often related.

"Just because a child does not live with their parents, it does not mean no one cares"
Unfortunately it all too often does. Care homes have always been a target-rich environment for predatory males both inside and outside the institutions.

In other Lancastrian news, this week's prize for politically convenient ignorance goes to Detective Inspector Dave Massay of Oldham CID :

A 27-year-old woman was walking along Cooper Street in Oldham when a small white van pulled up. The passenger grabbed her arm and swore at her, telling her to get in the car. The woman managed to escape from his grip and ran off. The incident happened between 10.10pm and 10.20pm on Wednesday, May 18.

Hmm. Two young men attempting to abduct a young woman at ten o'clock at night. What could possibly be their motivation?

Detective Inspector Dave Massay, based at Oldham CID, said: "The intentions of these men are not clear: they might have been playing a prank and trying to frighten people for their amusement and, in this case, they have succeeded in terrifying this woman.
I guess he'd rather be thought stupid than suggest the most likely possibility.

(I wouldn't want to give you the impression that every groomer, abductor or rapist in Greater Manchester is Asian. Far from it. The native Brits have a fair bit of form - especially those evil knife-carriers - what ever happened to the mandatory jail sentence? But there is a tendency, no more than that, although I'm sure a statistically significant one, for the varieties of Mancunian crime to reflect the diversity of the area.)

Up To A Point, Mr Allison

Lincoln Allison at the SAU blog is touring that fascinating country, India :

So there are two Indias, as there have always been two versions of Italy. One bristles with enterprise, the other with Soviet stupor. There are the hotels which cannot do enough for you and the tailor who will do a perfect alteration in ten minutes flat. And there is (or was) the guy who sold me my first Indian railway ticket. I slowly and dismally became aware that there was nothing in it for him if I reached Pune, but a certain amount of power, satisfaction and schadenfreude if he could stop me. Of course, he probably just wanted a bribe; the more complicated the form or procedure, the more likely you are to make a mistake which you will have to pay for as atonement or rectification. And seen in its broad context corruption is not a redistributive mechanism because the big guys do it big, the little guys do it little and the poor don't get to do it at all.

I think Indian enterprise will triumph in the end, but I'm an optimist.
He certainly is :

I don't buy the idea that India has put the Raj behind it, an idea which is dutifully trotted out by many western writers... I'd have liked them to sit with me on the Shatabadi Express last week, Delhi to Amritsar, first class compartment, with four English-language newspapers to choose from, all stuffed with IPL cricket reports, all to be digested with the free Indian Railways Morning Tea biscuits as you listen to the English conversations going on between Punjabi and Hindi speakers.

It may not be the India that the post-1858 full imperialists imagined? I don't know. But it is surely a world that more Liberal or earlier, less racist, imperialists would have happily conceived. It involves the greatest cultural exchange in history because they got cricket and we got curry, without any of us losing what we had in the first place. Globalisation at its best and anybody who tells me that curry is un-English should get as short shrift as anyone who says that cricket is un-Indian.
Globalisation at its best, eh ? A 50-50 swap from which we all benefit and no one loses?

Well, none of us have lost what we had in the first place - except the former native inhabitants of large parts of London, Birmingham, Manchester and larger parts of Leicester, Bradford, the Black Country and the former mill towns of the Pennines. Over the last 30 years I've been able to observe first-hand massive demographic change in Bradford and Birmingham.

During the Raj there were doubtless similar demographic changes to a few very small areas of India and Pakistan - I have a 1902 Guide to Simla with maps showing large areas of housing which could, from the names, be in suburban Surrey. But these involved very small numbers of people in a very large country - and were substantially reversed after independence. The demographic changes in England (and a few towns in Wales and Scotland) involve the movement of very large numbers into a very small country, and not only is reversal very unlikely, but the process, with its accompanying loss of native habitat, shows no sign of abating.