Who is who in Syria

Young Democrats like @BernieSanders & socialism but oppose income redistribution as much as their parents do


The War on Poverty Accomplished Nothing

The Modern Libertarian

In his 1964 State of the Union, President Lyndon Johnson declared the “War on Poverty” and launched numerous government initiatives to combat the supposed rampant poverty in the United States. Of course, at the time, poverty rates were well on the decline. As with any government program, however, we must evaluate it based on results rather than intent.

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Liora Lazarus: Is the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Decision on Assange ‘So Wrong’?

This entire analysis does not mention that he jumped bail.

UK Constitutional Law Association

Liora LazarusThe United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention handed down its decision on Julian Assange on Friday 5 February 2015 (A/HRC/WGAD/2015/54). It has been met with almost universal ridicule from a line of British officials, legal academics and the press. The decision has been described as ‘ridiculous’ by the UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond, and former Director of Public Prosecution Ken MacDonald argues that describing Assange’s conditions as ‘arbitrary detention’ is ‘ludicrous’. The press is equally incredulous. The Washington Post has published only the dissenting opinion of the decision, which views Assange’s conditions as ‘self-confinement’ (A/HRC/WGAD/2015/54, see Individual dissenting opinion of WGAD member, Mr. Vladimir Tochilovsky, paragraph 3, page 18). The Political Editor of Die Zeitargues in the New York Times, that Julian Assange is destroying Wikileaks. Joshua Rozenberg of The Guardianhas asked ‘how did the UN get it so wrong on Assange?’. Similarly…

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The Hilarious Censor Negotiation Letter From Monty Python

Source: The Hilarious Censor Negotiation Letter From Monty Python…

@LivingWageUK documents the Achilles heel of the #livingwage

Research publicised by a Living Wage UK highlighted the Achilles heel of any living wage proposal. This Achilles heel applies to the voluntary adoption of the living wage and a living wage mandated through minimum wage laws.

The critique to follow accepts pretty much everything claimed by the living wage movement about the benefits of the living wage but simply traces out the consequence of this one promised benefit.

Source: New evidence of business case for adopting Living Wage   Living Wage Foundation.

The living wage is substantially above the minimum wage. Offering the living wage will change the composition of the recruitment pool of low-wage employers. This is the Achilles heel of the living wage which Living Wage UK documents in its study it tweeted about and from which I have taken the above snapshot.

Jobseekers would not have considered vacancies by these employers will now apply because of the living wage increase. These better calibre applicants will win those jobs ahead of the jobseekers whose current productivity levels are less than that to justify the cost of the living wage.

Central to the living wage rhetoric is that somehow employees will be more productive because of the adoption of the living wage.

The simplest way of doing that for an employer is to hire more qualified, more productive employers are no longer a hire the type of people you currently hire. They will be unemployed or pushed into the non-living wage sector of the low-wage market.

A living wage is an exclusionary policy where ordinary workers, often with families who are not productive enough to produce $19.25 per hour living wage plus overheads will never be interviewed.

The workers with the type of skills that currently win those jobs covered by a living wage increase will not be shortlisted because the quality of the recruitment pool will increase because of the living wage.

There will be an influx of more skilled workers attracted by the higher wages for living wage jobs. They will go to the head of the queue and displaced workers who currently apply for and win these jobs before the adoption of the living wage.

Any extra labour productivity from paying a living wage increase is in doubt because low skilled service sectors are notorious for their low potential for productivity gains. They are the bread-and-butter of Baumol’s disease.

The modern theories of the firm focus, in part or in full on reducing opportunistic behaviour, cheating and fraud in employment relationships. The cost of discovering prices and making and enforcing contracts and getting what you pay for are central to Coase’s theory of the firm put forward in 1937.

The profits of entrepreneurs for running a firm is directly linked from their successful policing of the efforts of employees and sub-contractors to ensure the team and each member perform as promised and individual rewards matched individual contributions (Alchian and Demsetz 1972; Barzel 1987). Alchian and Demsetz’s (1972) theory of the firm focused on moral hazard in team production. As they explain:

Two key demands are placed on an economic organization-metering input productivity and metering rewards.

The main rationale in personnel economics from everything ranging from employer funding of retirement pensions to the structure of promotions and executive pay including stock options is around better rewarding self-motivating employees who strive harder and reducing the costs of monitoring employee effort.

At bottom, the efficiency wage hypothesis is entrepreneurs are unaware of the higher quality and greater self-motivation of better paid recruits for vacancies but wise bureaucrats and farsighted politicians notice these gaps in the market. Bureaucrats and politicians notice these gaps in the market before those who gain from superior entrepreneur alertness to hitherto untapped opportunities for profit do so and instead leave that money on the table.

It’s kicking the living wage movement when it is down to mention that low paid workers with families will lose a considerable part of the living wage increase because of reductions in family tax credits and in-kind assistance from the government that are linked to their pay.

Their jobs are put at risk because of a large increase in the cost of employing them to their employers. Their take-home pay after taxes, family tax credits and other government assistance increases by much less. This is a pointless gamble with job security because of the much small increase in the take-home pay of many breadwinners on the living wage.

@philquin My experience with UN junkets

Back in the day, MFAT got around to reviewing its contributions to various UN organisations. They discovered they were contributing $250,000 to some obscure committee that was part of the UN Food and Agricultural organisation.

When this particular committee heard that their contribution was under review, they immediately dispatched 6 bureaucrats from Rome to Wellington to make their case.

These flying UN diplomats could have been so stupid as to not notice that 6 UN bureaucrats showing up out of nowhere after years of silence as soon as their budget contribution was under review might not improve what little goodwill they had left in the Wellington bureaucracy. No one could remember why we were contributing. Their willingness to spend so freely in airfares certainly did not help.

The same goes for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This bank was formed shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. New Zealand joined for reasons now forgotten.

I happen to call upon the Australian Executive Director representing New Zealand at that Bank while passing through London representing the New Zealand Treasury. Naturally, he felt the need to call upon his New Zealand masters in Wellington shortly after. MFAT did not know what to do with them because they could not remember why New Zealand was still a member of that bank.

This London based Australian international diplomat did better than the Australian Executive Director representing New Zealand on the World Bank. He managed to visit all 12 Pacific islands but never visited New Zealand in his entire 4 years of office. This included after the establishment of the New Zealand Agency for International Development.

What more, this Australian Executive Director flew to Canberra for consultations with his Australian authorities just before Christmas every year. He felt rather put upon when his New Zealand deputy insisted that he take personal days while attending his grandson’s christening.

I visited the World Bank once or twice. It was like visiting a brothel. Absolutely everyone propositioned me from money.

The first people I spoke to try to sell New Zealand some oil debts that Mozambique are defaulted on to Angola. The last person I spoke to tried to interest New Zealand and investing in Latin American trade research.

They are all hopeless is give me directions to the Cato Institute. They seemed to know very little about American politics and Washington DC think tanks.

One of my first jobs at the New Zealand Treasury was to form a position on what the OECD Secretariat should do about its seriously underfunded pension plan. It provided for a 50% life pension after 10 years of service.

I suggested what was done with underfunded superannuation funds in Australia, which was to close them to new members.

An OECD official called upon me in Wellington at my desk a few weeks later. I do not think he made a special trip to Wellington just to put me right, but he made sure I was included on his itinerary.

@TransportBlog @JulieAnneGenter If you love nature, stay away from it – Ed Glaeser

It is hard to imagine any merchant who harmed the environment as much as Henry David Thoreau…

We are a destructive species, and if you love nature, stay away from it. The best means of protecting the environment is to live in the heart of a city.

Ed Glaeser

Source: If you love nature, move to the city – The Boston Globe.

Creative destruction in smart phone market shares


The US presidential tax plans compared

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