Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Government housing plans have dodged the real issue - Green Belt!

Compared to most other countries the UK has lots of green and pleasant bits you could build houses on and lots of other bits that are neither green nor pleasant but similarly lacking houses.  A great deal of this land without houses on is called "green belt".
In Swindon, for example a big chunk of greenbelt is bog land you can't even walk a dog over.  it certainly isn't suitable for growing crops or any kind of farming.  However, any plans to build on it are met with massive protests.  This position is mirrored country wide. 
The Adam Smith institute estimated 1,400,000 families could be housed if the UK lost 1.5% of the greenbelt. 
Yesterday's white paper was disappointing because the greenbelt issue was dodged.  The one chance for the government to insist that serious amounts of land were made available for new build wasn't taken.
Until we tackle the green belt issue we are never going to have enough houses.

Friday, 3 February 2017

can numbers tell you if someone is racist?

I was looking at some numbers last night (l am always looking at numbers I find them easier than people).  As you might guess I don't like the emotion in politics and like to stick to the numbers - even with all this fake news l trust my skill in making sense from the numbers more.
I came up with some figures on US foreign policy, that I can't make a lot of sense of.
According to the Guardian, (and it isn't very often that l quote the Guardian - I generally stick to the Financial Times), a total of 26,731 bombs were dropped by America on a certain 7 countries in 2016.  This was an increase of 3,000 on the 24,000 bombs dropped by Obama the year before.   (In fact former president Obama is the only Nobel peace prize winner to drop more than 100,000 bombs in a career.)  Taken as a whole president Obama 'achieved' an eye watering level of bombing in 8 years - equivalent to dropping one bomb every 20 minutes every hour of the day for the whole of his presidency.
In the context of what is being said about Trump at the moment l find it odd that President Obama dropped so many bombs killing so many people in Muslim countries and yet no one is calling him a racist when this charge is being levelled at Trump. 
A certain other president just imposes a 60 day TEMPORARY travel restriction on seven counties  Obama bombed extensively, while he reviews US security arrangements and there are people rioting in the streets about Trump's racist behavior and he faces world wide condemnation.  
How exactly does this work? drop bombs on people (Obama), no comment!  Delay their holidays for two months (Trump) - absolutely outrageous attack on human rights and rioting on US streets!  (Personally, to tell the truth l would prefer to have travel restrictions placed on me to being bombed).
I find the security argument for the directive made by Trump plausible because places like Somalia and Yemen refuse to provide information about their citizens to enable proper US security checks.  I note that Pakistan does provide this information.  Hence, Pakistan does not face travel restrictions from the US.  So next time someone says the US travel restrictions are racially driven against Muslims and not to do with security ask them why there is no ban on people coming to the US from Pakistan?
To me anyway, all the rhetoric at the moment sounds like playing to the crowd that does not seem too well thought out.  Perhaps it is the Democrat controlled media in the US trying to undemocratically dethrone a president?
The proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating.  Trump has said he would have never got involved in Syria, Iran or Iraq had he been in charge.  We will have to see how many bombs Trump drops over the next four years and how many people get killed compared to Obama's track record.  The cruel hard numbers will cut through all the emotion.  Then we can decide which of the two has a better track record of reducing global strife.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

lies damm lies and methodological problems

There always used to be two inflation measures RPI and CPI.  Basically RPI is calculated differently, represents more of what inflation really feels like to ordinary people and generally comes out higher. 
It was always the quoted number on TV news and in the papers.  Public sector pensions were based on it and it was generally accepted as reality. 
CPI was a bit more obscure calculated differently and underestimated real inflation.  (I could bore you with the statistical theory because l studied this at University but I'd rather not.  It has to do with the CPI being based on geometric rather than arithmetical means and the difference between Paasche and Lasperes price indices).
At the moment CPI is 1.6% but RPI is 2.5%.  You generally expect around a 1% difference so a world without RPI is one with unions negotiating 1% smaller inflation proofing pay rises and the government paying out 1% less on pension increases.
Although drawing paralells with George Orwell's 1984 is going a bit far I now find that the RPI is no longer an official quoted statistic.  In statistical terms this is a bit like it has been 'rubbed out' in a mafia style hit.  It has been 'withdrawn' due to 'methodological problems'.
If you believed in conspiracies you would say the hatchet job on the RPI is now complete, the real rate of inflation is an inconvenient truth that has been eliminated.