Saturday, 18 February 2012

Payday Loans

I was thinking about what we had before Payday Loans, and what we had was local shops cashing cheques for a fee.

My local shop used to cash a £50 cheque for a £1 fee.

So, let's consider the math of that:-

Borrowing for 2-3 days (clearing period), or let's say 1/122 of a year. 1/50th is a 2% interest rate, so, the annual interest rate is:-


= 1120%

Now, that's cheaper than payday loans (although if you change it to 2 days, you get a higher figure). But it doesn't make 4000% interest rates look quite so bad, does it?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Curious Report About Council Prayer Meetings

From the Littlehampton Gazette:-
Christians and community figures have vowed that a High Court decision to outlaw the centuries-old tradition of formal prayers being said at the start of local council meetings is not be the end of the matter.
Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting in London, ruled local councils lacked power under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 to hold prayers "as part of a formal local authority meeting".
However it was lawful for prayers to be said "in a local authority chamber before a formal meeting", provided councillors were not "formally summoned to attend".
John Breeds, mayor of Rye in East Sussex, said he expects councillors at Rye Town Council will now just say prayers ahead of their meetings.
He said: "We will try to find a way around it. It doesn't actually have to be part of the meeting. Presumably if we can't say prayers at the beginning of the meeting proper, then we will just have to say them beforehand.
So, your "way around it" is to follow the law? Oh.. kay...
The mayor of Folkestone in Kent, Sue Wallace, said she was "astounded" by the decision.
She said: "I think it should be down to the individual to decide. Soon we won't be able to decide anything.
"I'm sure there are lots of other councils all over the country that will feel the same way as I do."
Uh yes, that was the point. That the individual could decide because until this ruling, the individual couldn't decide. If they were a councillor, they either had to attend prayers or to be marked as late.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

It's a Queer Moment For All Of Us

From Tim Worstall's Blog

And as to neoliberalism laid bare. Yes, the industrial revolution is the only way we humans have found of improving the living standards of the average guy in the street. I, as a liberal (even if neo) would like the living standards of the average guy to increase. Thus I support the industrial revolution. Yes, in all its mess and clamour: for it is making things better.
I’m out and I’m proud. As a neoliberal I buy things made by poor people in poor countries. For that’s how poor people and poor countries get rich. Which is, I hope at least, what we all agree we’d like to see happen? So, do tell, what are you doing to make the poor richer?
This reminds me of the moment when the gay community reappropriated the word queer, turning it from an insult into a term of identification. Before I did so, I decided to check Wikipedia's definition of Neoliberalism. Here's Williamson's 10 points of the Washington Consensus (agreed by the likes of the IMF and the World Bank):-

  • Fiscal policy Governments should not run large deficits that have to be paid back by future citizens, and such deficits can only have a short term effect on the level of employment in the economy. Constant deficits will lead to higher inflation and lower productivity, and should be avoided. Deficits should only be used for occasional stabilization purposes.
  • Redirection of public spending from subsidies (especially what neoliberals call "indiscriminate subsidies") and other spending neoliberals deem wasteful toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment
  • Tax reform– broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates to encourage innovation and efficiency;
  • Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
  • Floating exchange rates;
  • Trade liberalization – liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs; thus encouraging competition and long term growth
  • Liberalization of the "capital account" of the balance of payments, that is, allowing people the opportunity to invest funds overseas and allowing foreign funds to be invested in the home country
  • Privatization of state enterprises; Promoting market provision of goods and services which the government cannot provide as effectively or efficiently, such as telecommunications, where having many service providers promotes choice and competition.
  • Deregulation – abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudent oversight of financial institutions;
  • Legal security for property rights; and,
  • Financialisation of capital.
That's all just fine and dandy as far as I'm concerned. I'd go further and say that if you don't agree with that list then you'd better explain yourself.

So, yes, I'm joining Timmy here and publicly declaring myself as a neoliberal. Do likewise, friends, do likewise.