Monday, 24 April 2017

Snap General Election

I thought it best to write a short post about the snap General Election, given I won't be able to write that many posts throughout it. I've got some Open Uni work on the go plus working 4 days a week plus a toddler to bring up so I generally don't have that much time anymore for reading blog posts, let alone writing them!
Anyway, five things I would like to see from this election.
1. Jeremy Corbyn's removal as Labour leader post the loss of seats for Labour. I feel the single most important thing that could happen in the Brexit process is genuine opposition
2. A Lib Dem MP (Lisa Smart) in my home seat of Hazel Grove
3. Many more Lib Dem MPs to add to the excellent 9 we already have
4. More women MPs for the Lib Dems and in general
5. Good returns to vote levels for Lib Dems to pre-coalition levels at least
Good luck to all Lib Dem candidates on 8th June!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Brexit - Free Movement of People Extended - BINO?


I’m wary of putting too much hope in this government, but post Article 50 being triggered, the government seems to be executing a pivot towards policies which seem sensible.
Theresa May has indicated that for an “implementation period” the free movement of EU citizens could continue, and hasn’t said much recently about her immigration in the “tens of thousands” policy. Now, I obviously don’t want to Brexit, but this is sensible, whilst businesses and government turn around the tanker of the UK economy towards slower progress….. or of course, don’t do that.

As it seems to me a great deal of normal citizens who don’t pay that much attention to politics aren’t paying a great deal of attention to Brexit, if the trade deal that was struck looked a lot like being in the EU (Brexit In Name Only) but without the MEPs (sorry MEPs – it does appear nobody seems to have your interests in mind!) and included an “emergency brake” on immigration which is probably politically possible if we continue to pay into the EU budget, well, then things go on like before, mostly, only Liam Fox doesn’t have a job.
What’s not to like?

I realise this is very rose-tinted view, but it’s nice to have something positive to write about in this mess!

Monday, 3 April 2017

I pay for journalism. Here's what I want in return....

I don’t want to link to any of the stuff, but there was a kerfuffle over the weekend on Twitter about journalism and ethics. One senior journalist decided to lay into a political party’s press operation, and a more junior journalist criticised this in public, whereupon they were put down by a third (senior) journalist that they hadn’t had any scoops so weren’t worth listening to.
 
Now, I don’t really want to comment on that particular situation, but all these comments flying about reminded me of two things, and as I keep thinking about it, I’m getting it all down here so as to perhaps stop thinking about it for a while.
 
I don’t really interact with the big columnist’s Twitter accounts that much anymore because I’m not online when they are as I am at work, and if I do interact with them, in the past I seem to have annoyed them with comments that go against the angle of their article. I think what’s happened is I misunderstood who “should” really be replying to them. I’m not actually “supposed” to reply to these accounts, especially not with criticism, but I think the medium of Twitter lends itself to thinking one is equal with these accounts. I’ve fundamentally misunderstood who they are “talking” to, at some level.
This led me on to considering do I value “scoops” as much as journalists do themselves? I’m not sure I give as much weight to it as they do, perhaps because I’m not a journalist. I value new information of course, but at least on a level with forensic analysis of the subject at hand, plus being able to write and interview a subject well and with sensitivity and a sense of the most important things to discover. I would give equal weight to all of those. To illustrate this, Rachel Sylvester may have changed the course of history with her Andrea Leadsom interview, Janan Ganesh is a must-read about Brexit and Britain’s role in the world, Dan Hodges can get to the heart of a matter very quickly (even when I disagree with him) and Eddie Mair always asks exactly the right question at exactly the right time, elevating him head and shoulders above the rest.  Of course, Eddie Mair is a broadcast journalist rather than a print one, but the point still applies.
 
I do pay for my journalism, I subscribe to the Guardian and use Blendle to access a lot of content that will let me pay a proportionate amount to read one article, rather than pay for a  whole newspaper that I won’t have the chance to read properly (marginal utility matching marginal revenue). I don’t want to be advertised too unless it matches my preferences and I think we can achieve that – I think a large amount of advertising falls into an area of lifestyle policing (“Beach Body Ready”) that I am really not here  for – but you can advertise Kindle novels and non-fiction books about economics to me all day long…. this really shouldn’t be that hard to achieve.
 
So, in total, all this leads me to think there is a little bit of a bubble, and some of us who might count as filters between it and the wider population who aren’t on Twitter, might be turned off by a negative approach towards us.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

On Only Retweeting Women Of Colour in Black History Month

After seeing a tweet which I now cannot find urging me to only retweet Women of Colour for Black History Month, I tried it out.
 
I learnt:
 
  •  I do not follow enough Women of Colour, so I asked for recommendations and now follow some superb women, examples being Sunny Singh and Tressie Mc
 
  • Most people posting content on Twitter are white men. It was an active task to not RT white men when I saw something I agreed with and wanted people to know I supported.
 
  • White Men tend to tweet a lot
 
  • There's a lot of insight and interest that I was just missing out on.
 
Totally recommend doing this, for Black History month or at any other time.
 
 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Did a failure of social democracy cause Brexit?

I'm wary of criticising other strands of political thought, because generally they all interest me and have upsides and downsides. However, a number of people seem to have convinced themselves that either an over-reach of liberalism or "neo-liberalism" or woolly centrism is to blame for Brexit, I feel honour bound to mount a defence of liberalism, through the time honoured means of attacking something else.
 
As nativists and nationalists erect barriers to trade around the world, I am pondering why they achieved so much support from people who felt left behind. It's an interesting phenomenon, because as us globalists congratulated ourselves on the laudable aims of raising so much of the world out of poverty and bringing the benefits of commerce and trade to an ever wider audience, some people felt left behind.
 
Now leaving worries like how easily it is to focus on the outgroup and blame them, as one for sociologists and psychologists, I wonder if it isn't time for a new economic paradigm - that of every person being important and valuable, and long term productivity to be the most important goal. Having been studying economics as part of my Open Uni course, I feel better versed the last two movement, that of Keynes trying to banish unemployment, and monetary policy trying to restrain inflation to a manageable level like 2%.
 
How about a third leg to this stool - that of a high degree of focus on productivity? What helps make a society productive is education, focus on what works, and investment in research and development.
I would also add, as fricitionless as possible.
 
I'm very interested in the fact that early economic theory was lifted straight from physics, because not only does that explain the structure of a lot of the equations, it also makes me wonder how it was updated - Nash equilibrium and all.
 
Did economic thinking drift behind politics? Did social democrats rely too much on old theory and redistribution when perhaps the aims of mankind are less about distributing resources and more about (hippy alert) mechanisms to help everyone reach their full potential?
 
Many questions remain... answering them, or at least trying to, could lead to some exciting work in economic theory.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Brexit positive.....

One positive thing about Brexit is we are actually having a debate about our place in the world and what type of immigration we want which I'm not sure many other countries are doing. We will find this comes to the fore as we want to have trade deals with the US, China and India and find that a number or even all of those countries demand increased levels of immigration to the UK
 
On the day the Supreme Court have decided that Parliament must have a vote on Article 50, it is at least the case that there will be a debate in Parliament, however I do think most MPs will vote for Article 50, a bit like the Iraq War, in that on the basis of the evidence available and conjecture made by the Government (about what the people intended), they will feel that that is their role.
I’m glad my own party, Liberal Democrats will demand a 2nd referendum, but from the polling in general I think most people will think given the result of the referendum, we should proceed with Brexit. I still think we shouldn’t really, not without information on how much it’s going to cost us.
 
I do hope Kier Starmer gets his own way and  a White Paper is produced – I also hope in tandem the IFS do some financial projections of Brexit. We do have quite a biased press but outlets like the BBC should faithfully report facts, and the British public tends to go to the BBC for their facts.
All of this this should inform the debate more. Although I still don’t want Brexit to happen, I think having the information available that we should have had before the referendum, and a long overdue debate about our place in the world and where we want to take the U.K. post the British Empire, it’s more likely that a better decision will be made.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Surviving Brexit : For Generation X and Millennials

As Brexit looks ever more inevitable, it's pretty imperative that as a member of GenX and almost a millennial - I was born in 1979. I have to make sure I'm in the best position to deal with the next twenty years. Hopefully we will avoid a recession but most analysts understand our growth will not be what it could have been. Some of the things I have done, considered or been suggested to me are below. Not all of it is relevant to me, and may not be to you, but still thought worth noting it all down in one place.

Some of this might look a little simple, and I'm happy to take any other advice in the comments.

BASIC

Reduce fixed costs: Switch energy accounts, pay off credit card debt or if you can't, switch to 0% credit cards.

Renegotiate what you can : Out of fixed rate on your mortgage? Think about re-mortgaging with as long a fix as you can tolerate - ask about terms such as whether you can port the mortgage (move it to another house) or add to it if you want to move to a bigger house - which may be important for growing families.

Renting - what about housesharing if you aren't already?

Reduce variable costs: Downshift your grocery bill, take sandwiches to work. Yes, forgo the posh coffee, but the odd lipstick is OK if that's your thing.

INTERMEDIATE

Pension: Increase contributions to your pension - it appears with flat-lining growth, the boomers may have pulled another fast one on the generations behind them. Not only do we have defined contributions in the main, but seems we may not get as much out of these pensions due to 2 decades of lost growth that we thought we were going to have. The answer : put more in your pension.

God knows what will happen to the state pension. Another post, another day.

Invest in a Stocks and Shares ISA and think about investing in funds aboard. There are quite a few good ones with low dealing fees - more details here

Brush up on your GCSE maths : You will be able to check what you will actually pay for your car finance or determine the best mortgage i.e. interest rate and fee.


ADVANCED

Keep your money in $. May be more difficult than it looks, tho I am informed some banks offer accounts in USD for net creditors. I haven't tried this yet but looking into it.

More as I come across it.....