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By TheophileEscargot (Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 02:51:54 PM EST) Reading, Economics, Politics, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Grand Slave Emporium". Economics: Budget. Web.

What I'm Reading
The Grand Slave Emporium: Cape Coast Castle and the British Slave Trade by William St Clair. History of Cape Coast Castle, a coastal fort in Ghana used for slave trading from the 17th to 19th century.

It's pretty fascinating. For most of that period the British had only the most tenuous of holds on Africa: it wasn't part of the Empire. They recognized the authority of the local laws and local rulers, who cooperated with the slave trade for the enormous revenue it generated. There was no harbour, and transfers were dependent on local canoe-men, who had to be kept relatively happy.

Officers would generally take part in the local polygamous institution of marriage. Unlike the British dowry system where the bride's family pays the groom, they would pay the bride's family for a local "wench". If the arrangement was terminated, they would have to pay compensation. The "wenches" were often members of relatively important local families, and quite often their descendents would take positions in the Castle, for instance as clergymen.

This situation changed with the invention of "scientific racism" in the 19th century, and non-whites were excluded. Ironically, after the slavery era in some ways there was less tolerance for African customs, as missionaries tried to change them.

Overall, the book starts a bit slowly, with a lot of background, but St Clair's access to the castle records and letters provides a mine of useful and rare information about how the slave trade operated.

Well worth reading if you're interested in the subject.

Economics: Budget
Not disastrously bad, but worse than I expected.

First, I'm hugely impressed with the spin and the media handling. Cameron's done a great job with that. As Samuel Brittan pointed out in the Financial Times "the real argument should be on whether we need unparalleled fiscal austerity or not". But instead they've framed the debate as not whether but how: what proportion should be spending cuts and what proportion tax rises, what areas of spending should be cut. Using a mixture of media management and consultation exercises, they've manage to persuade the media and the public that their ideological decisions are somehow inevitable. Early polling suggests the budget is popular, though that may change when specific cuts take place.

The IFS has done some early analysis (PDF report, summary) There are two important points. First, the budget will "more than reverse the entire increase [in public services] that we saw under Labour". So, we can forget the "heir to Blair" line altogether: the ConDems are going straight back to a Thatcher/Major sized state in five years. Second, it's a highly regressive budget, hitting the poor a lot harder than the rich.

So, if anyone was expecting the Lib Dems to moderate Tory economic policies, that hasn't happened at all. I wondered at the time of the coalition how come the Tories had suddenly accepted constitutional reform after previous implacable opposition, but hadn't forced the Lib Debs to trade away their many cabinet posts. I think the answer has to be that the Lib Dems negotiated away any influence on economic policy whatsoever. They got Cabinet seats and AV in exchange for pure Tory economics.

The Lib Dem plan too was to cut half of the deficit in one Parliament. The Tory position was only that they would eliminate "the bulk of the deficit" in five years, which presumably meant 51% or more. The aim of the Osborne budget is now to eliminate the entire "structural" deficit in that time. I think this is generally a more aggressive deficit reduction plan than you'd expect from the campaigns, though the "structural deficit" isn't necessarily a meaningful concept.

I find it a bit worrying that so much of this budget is tied to forecasts. The "structural deficit" depends on forecasts of future GDP growth. The cost of linking pensions to earnings depends on inflation. From reading "The Chancellors Tales", former Chancellors have been repeatedly tripped up by the way economic statistics are unreliable even about the past (hence the revisions) and often hopelessly unrealistic about the future. I wonder if as a bright young thing with zero real world experience, George Osborne is over-confident in his theories.

Osborne was clearly hoping that the new Office of Budget Responsibility would raise the borrowing estimates so he could justify the budget as an emergency. In fact the estimates were lower, but fortunately the media's buying it as an emergency anyway.

What I would have liked to see was a less regressive budget. For instance, the tax rises could have been split more evenly amongst Income, VAT and Capital Gains, rather than weighting so much of it to VAT. Also, I expected Child Benefit to stop being given to the richer 50% of society, which makes little sense. But they're not willing to antagonize the middle class.

In general, it seems to me that the Con Dems have abandoned their pledges with faster than normal speed, and yet are taking almost no heat for it at all. Apart from VAT and front-line services they were going to rebuild Britain's manufacturing base. I'm a bit skeptical of the practicalities of that, but if you're going to do it, the Sheffield Forgemasters deal was a prime example of it, and also one of the first things to be cut.

So overall, this is a more hardline, Thatcherite budget than I was expecting. I thought it would be softer, either due to the kinder, gentler Tory campaign rhetoric, or due to moderate Lib Dem influence, but it isn't.

Video. Useful: Practically Stoic. Star Trek / Tik Tok mashup. Mitchell and Webb / Somegreybloke animation. RC helicopter films cyclist. Viral ad: metro slide.

Socioeconomics. Comedy as a Masculinized, Heterosexualized Space. UK Olympics tickets only available on Visa cards. Time 1956: What is homosexuality? Is it curable? (via)

Tech. Iphone app economics (median developer makes $682 per year) marketing 4-year-old plays Grand Theft Auto.

Random. Comic of Lisa Simpson the Vegetarian grotesquely reimagined. (via). Sci-Fi Airshow. Censored Beetle Bailey (NSFW).

London. Map of London institutions on Twitter. Live Tube map.

< I swear ... | i say "soccer" because i'm cool >
Space Ghost | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
on that ... by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 03:39:54 PM EST

The full-grown homosexual, as Bergler sees him, wallows in self-pity and continually provokes hostility to ensure himself more opportunities for self pity he "collects" injustices—sometimes real, often fancied; he is full of defensive malice and flippancy, covering his depression and guilt with extreme narcissism and superciliousness. He refuses to acknowledge accepted standards even in nonsexual matters, assuming that homosexuals have a right to cut moral corners as compensation for their "suffering." He is generally unreliable, in an essentially psychopathic way.

The mind reels.

he must have inner guilt feelings that can be put to use in treatment; he must accept the treatment voluntarily and actively want to change; he must give up his habit of using homosexuality as a weapon against his family, which (unconsciously) he always hates.

Well, certainly there's no point in trying to change someone who doesn't actively want to change. But ... "his family, which (unconsciously) he always hates."???

I'm glad the world has changed.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

Change by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #17 Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 04:19:55 PM EST
The amount of change is amazing when you realize that plenty of people are around today who encountered that article as adults.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
tenuous holds by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 03:42:24 PM EST
For most of that period the British had only the most tenuous of holds on Africa: it wasn't part of the Empire.

That was also generally true of the Dutch and Portuguese of their colonies in general, right up through WW2.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

Not true. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:55:40 PM EST
The Portugese had a pitbull-like grip on their African colonies well into the Seventies. Quite a cruel rep, actually.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Budget by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 04:11:29 PM EST
I fail to see how you can claim the Conservatives "lied". They openly indicated during the election that they were going to be more aggressive than the other parties about reducing the deficit, and generally tried to avoid being tied down as to how much and the methods involved. I fail to see how they could allow the Lib Dems massive input on that basic tenet. As one paper commented, it seems that the effect of the Lib Dems has been to change the split between taxes and cuts from 20:80 to 23:77. Whilst the borrowing estimates are lower, they're hardly anything to sing about.

Interesting noting Ken Clarks comments in the Chancellors Tales about gold reserves, also bearing in mind Gordon managed to sell them off at precisely the time gold was about to go up sharply in value.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Where did I say "lied"? [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 04:29:09 PM EST
Not edited.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
My quotes by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 04:46:34 PM EST
The general tenet of the article was that the Conservative budget was harsher than expected. You are correct that you didn't say the tories "lied", but your article gives an impression that the Conservatives gave an expectation of an "heir to Blair" budget instead of a "Thatcherite" budget.  You can lie without explicitly doing so.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
From the Conservative by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 05:00:01 PM EST
Manifesto :
But fiscal responsibility needs a social conscience or it is not responsible at all: so we will not allow the poorest people in the UK to pay an unfair price for the mistakes of some of the richest...

But the real prize for the UK is to create a new economic model, one founded on investment and savings not borrowing and debt. This economic vision reflects our belief in enterprise and aspiration. It is a vision of a truly modern economy: one that is greener and more local. An economy where the UK leads in science, technology and innovation. But it is founded on a determination that wealth and opportunity must be more fairly distributed.

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 05:19:19 PM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

I hate it when I play all the way by darkbrown (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 04:59:11 AM EST
through a game and miss the best bits.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 05:38:21 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth

[ Parent ]
Tories seem to be getting a bit carried away by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 04:29:09 AM EST
And I wonder how long people will stay behind them. Talk of raising the pension age to 70 isn't going to be popular with anyone.

The worst thing they announced was the cap on housing benefit. It WILL cause homelessness, and as its aimed at multi-room properties it'll be families it hits. Then as there are children involved there's a legal obligation to rehouse, often in Bed and Breakfast, which costs more. How is this going to work exactly?

It's political correctness gone mad!

Conservative aim by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 03:38:14 PM EST
Seems to be to develop a tax/benefits system that does not encourage population growth by those who cannot afford to support their "contribution" to the population increase

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
Or possibly by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #14 Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 03:16:33 AM EST
To reduce the number of tabloid headlines like "The family of nine travellers living in a ÂŁ1m home" by forcing councils to put them in B&Bs at a much greater cost than that of renting a "1m home".
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I think by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 10:35:13 AM EST really wants to prevent a family of nine on a low income in the first place.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
has anyone but china by garlic (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 09:20:32 AM EST
had any effective way of doing this?

[ Parent ]
Fiscal austerity by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 11:43:06 AM EST
"the real argument should be on whether we need unparalleled fiscal austerity or not"

Who is that guy?  How can somebody writting for the FT can write such nonsense?

Didn't this chap notice the humongous amounts of money poured to save the banks, the disastrous illegal Iraq campaign, the also very expensive Afghanistan one? The unparalleled growth of the public sector during Labour years? (no surprise there, but only now we are waking up to how Labour was actually fighting unemployment: government jobs).

It is like saying we need to discuss if the Earth is flat or not...

The deficit by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 03:18:49 AM EST
Needs to be cut to some degree. But there are several alternatives.

But firstly, it could be cut by raising taxes more than slashing benefits, which means less "austerity".

Secondly, the tax increased could be progressive taxation rather than regressive taxation, putting less suffering on the poor.

Thirdly, the deficit could be cut by a lesser degree than eliminating the entire "structural deficit.

Remember that before the depth of the crisis became apparent, the Tories pledged to stick to Labour spending. They didn't seem think it was unaffordable then. But they've now stealthily decided to roll spending back to Thatcher/Major levels. Which is conveniently what the Tory right always wanted.

What's even more worrying is that inequality increased in the Labour years, even though they took measures using the tax and benefits system to reduce it, since the pre-tax pre-benefit inequality soared by an even greater degree.

That huge new pre-tax pre-benefit inequality still exists. But benefits are to be rolled back to what they were before it happened. The tax system is to be made more regressive than back then too: Thatcher had VAT at only 15%, Cameron/Clegg have it at 20%. So inequality is likely to become even greater than under Thatcher.

Basically the Tories have stealthily turned a Blairite policy into a super-Thatcherite actual budget in 12 months.

Now on the subject of the "humongous amounts of money poured to save the banks", that's true, but what we also need to be worried about is the next bailout. This is the moral hazard issue. The banks have learned that they can take enormous risks, fail catastrophically, and the taxpayer will just bail them out.

The banking levy is so tiny they're calling it a rounding error. The regulation changes are pretty much just shuffling the same bunch of bureaucrats trying to scrutinize staggeringly complicated financial instruments from an FSA office to a Bank of England office.

Cameron and Clegg's chief response to the money poured to save the banks seems to be "it's a jolly good thing the taxpayers bailed out our City buddies, let's do it again soon."
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Star Trek / Tik Tok by duxup (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 01:05:56 PM EST
That might be funny but I couldn't handle that song for long.  Bleah.

Space Ghost | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback