Daily Archives: December 6, 2015

How George Osborne exploited our psychological biases to secure his cuts

151206economicpain

The Chancellor still gets virtually all his previously targeted savings from the welfare bill by 2020.

How? Because the working age welfare system will still become much less generous in five years’ time. As research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Resolution Foundation has shown, the typical low-income working family in 2020 will be hit just as hard as they were going to be before the Autumn Statement U-turn. The Chancellor seems to be calculating that the pain of future forgone gains will be less politically toxic than immediate cash losses.

He’s probably correct in his calculation. Mr Osborne’s July Budget proposed to save £4bn a year by 2020 by freezing all working age benefits in cash terms for the next four years, meaning a deep cut after inflation for recipients. And that was actually a bigger saving than the one generated from the cuts to tax credits. But unlike the tax credit cuts, the benefit freeze prompted no outcry. Why? Because the immediate cash losses loomed far larger than the forgone gains of benefits rising in line with inflation.

Experiments by Daniel Kahneman, Jack Knetsch and Richard Thaler also suggest that this stealth approach fits with people’s sense of fairness. They found that in a time of recession and high unemployment most people they surveyed thought a hypothetical company that cut pay in cash terms was acting unfairly, while one that merely raised it by less than inflation was behaving fairly.

Source: How George Osborne exploited our psychological biases to secure his cuts | Voices | The Independent

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The Young Turks on French Journalist’s Statement on ISIS and Bombing of Syria | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

Here the Turks’ main anchor, Cenk Uygur, talks about Nicholas Henin, the French journalist, who was held captive by the mad butchers for over a year. He saw Mohamed ‘Jihadi John’ Emwazi murder six of his friends for their wretched propaganda videos, and still wonders about how many Syrians were butchered by him and who cares for them?

Henin states that bombing won’t work, as it will only lead to further radicalisation. ISIS want to alienate Muslims and create division between them and the West, so that they can win them over by posing as the religion’s true defenders.

In stark opposition to their dreams of creating hatred for the West amongst Muslims is the mass exodus of Syrian refugees to the West. It’s a slap in their face to their claim that they have created an Islamic ‘dreamland’, and they are mightily dismayed when the refugees are welcomed, rather than received with hatred.

Source: The Young Turks on French Journalist’s Statement on ISIS and Bombing of Syria | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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The ‘unintended consequences’ of the Tory Welfare Reform and Work Bill – are they really unintended?

Brierfield in Lancashire where nearly 35% of children live in poverty and just over 50% are classed as poor according to reach by the End Child Poverty Campaign.

Brierfield in Lancashire where nearly 35% of children live in poverty and just over 50% are classed as poor according to reach by the End Child Poverty Campaign.

First up is the disgraceful proposal to limit most tax credits and Universal Credit to the first two children in any family.

The ways in which the Conservatives justify this policy seems to imply that poorer families have lots of kids that their hard working counterparts could not afford. The reality, however, is that the latter make up almost two thirds of those currently entitled to these credits.

Moreover, statistics show low income families are no more likely to have large families than the rich in our country. And of course, if people only had children where they knew at the point of conception that they could support them for the next 18 years, who would ever do it? The best laid plans can be knocked aside by illness, bereavement or redundancy.

The only exemptions Ministers are allowing to the proposals are for multiple births, as well as cases of rape. Although to date, they have not been forthcoming on how a woman is meant to prove to the DWP that her pregnancy is as a result of such an attack. It really doesn’t bear thinking about. But what also about those fleeing domestic violence?

What, too, about third children already alive and kicking who won’t be covered in some brand new Universal Credit claims? And then there are all of the unintended consequences, for example deterring the formation of stepfamilies or putting off kinship carers and adopters.

This is a vicious policy that will increase child poverty – the second issue taking up much of the opening day of Committee, and something that is already 35% higher in larger families.

Its real victims will be those kids who didn’t choose to be born as younger siblings into larger families but whose life chances will damaged because the Conservatives want to punish their parents.

And if parents stop having children, who is going to pay our pensions when we need them? Whose taxes will fund our NHS and social care in our ageing society?

With approximately 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK, it is shocking to find that hidden in the detail of the Bill is an attempt by the government to effectively repeal the 2010 Child Poverty Act introduced by Labour.

In particular, they want to remove the duty on Ministers to set targets and draft strategies, and erase any mention of poverty.

Instead, they want to re-brand the legislation, the policy area, and even the Social Mobility Commission to include the shiny new title of ‘life chances’.

Read more: Unintended consequences? – Labour Lords

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The Young Turks on the Need for Gun Control in America | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

This is another excellent piece from The Young Turks, which I thought needed reblogging after the latest terrorist outrage in San Bernardino in Los Angeles.

This happened a few days ago when Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, went on a rampage killing 14 and wounding at least 14 others at the Inland Regional Centre.

It’s been reported in the I today that Malik may have pledged allegiance to ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on Facebook.

In this video the Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uygur, puts this atrocity into its proper context, as one of the long line of mass shootings in America committed by Muslim and Christian religious extremists, like Dear, who blew away several people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, just plain loonies, and others, including shootings of unarmed suspects by American police.

And the stats are shocking. He points out that in the same week that Farook and Malik murdered their co-workers and the cops sent to take them down, there were three other mass shootings in the US. This is according to the FBI’s definition, which considers a mass shooting an incident where four people or more have been shot.

So far this year there have been 315 such mass shootings. He also quotes the stats from an organisation campaigning for some gun control laws, showing the thousands of people, who have been killed individually by guns.

Source: The Young Turks on the Need for Gun Control in America | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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See how people react when they are read Bible passages they think are from the Quran | Pride’s Purge

Here’s an interesting video:

Source: See how people react when they are read Bible passages they think are from the Quran | Pride’s Purge

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Completely Tasteless Chinese View of ISIS Vs. Al-Qaeda | Beastrabban\’s Weblog


This is worth watching, if only for the image of David Cameron – with attached pig.

I found this piece of computer generated mayhem on a website that’s perhaps best not mentioned.

It’s a Chinese language news report of the rivalry and fighting between ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Middle East, and the international attempts to bomb them both.

The core of the report seems to be the news that a suicide bomber from the al-Nusra front infiltrated ISIS, blowing himself and them to kingdom come.

I think they’ve got that part of the story wrong. I don’t think al-Nusra are al-Qaeda. From what I’ve heard, they’re anti-Assad Syrian Nationalists, who beat up anybody from outside Syria trying to enter the country to fight.

The whole bloody conflict over ISIS is presented as knock-about slapstick farce, with the two sides laughing as the press each other’s suicide belts, blowing themselves up.

Putin is described as ‘rootin’ tootin’, and riding a horse shirtless, while Dave Cameron is shown with a pig attached to his crotch.

As for the animation, it’s tasteless, but I’m including it here as it makes ISIS look stupid, which is a righteous cause in itself, as well as sending up our own Prime Minister.

Source: Completely Tasteless Chinese View of ISIS Vs. Al-Qaeda | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Conservatives Want Primary Schoolchildren to Be Taught To Work Not Live on Benefits | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

This is how desperate the Tories are to try to stop people claiming unemployment benefit. According to a couple of pieces in today’s I, the Tories want children in primary schools to be taught about work and careers in order to stop them claiming benefits. It says in the article on page two, Primary Children ‘to Attend Career Talks’ that

Ministers are considering proposals that would oblige children to attend careers talks before they finish primary school to help discourage them from claiming benefits in the future. The initiative will be particularly relevant in communities with high adult unemployment, but teaching unions feel careers talks at 11 could be “too much too soon”.

This was all outlined in a speech given by Sam Gyimah, the education and childcare minister, to the Westminster Employment Forum.

Source: Conservatives Want Primary Schoolchildren to Be Taught To Work Not Live on Benefits | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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UK flood defences cut – while millions spent on bombing Syria and Iraq | Pride’s Purge

Consider these three facts:

Cameron has consistently cut UK flood defences since he came to power:

England’s flood defence funding faces £600m shortfall

While at the same time spending hundreds of millions on bombing Syria and Iraq:

What’s the price to the UK of bombing Daesh in Syria? Clue – a lot

And now we have large parts of the country being hit by devastating floods:

Storm Desmond: major incident declared as police urge people to evacuate homes

No connection at all of course.

Source: UK flood defences cut – while millions spent on bombing Syria and Iraq | Pride’s Purge

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Blaming Leytonstone stabbing on Syria vote would be ‘dangerous’ warns senior Labour MP

John Cryer MP.

John Cryer MP.


Does anyone think he’s right?

John Cryer, who represents the east London seat and leads backbench MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party, said he wasn’t convinced the ‘appalling’ attack and airstrikes were linked.

Police have launched a terror investigation into last night’s incident which left three injured amid claims the alleged knifeman shouted: “This is for Syria” .

Standing outside the crime scene Mr Cryer – who voted against airstrikes – told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “I’m not convinced that this will be connected to the airstrikes on Syria.

“We just don’t know at the moment. But there doesn’t seem to be immediate evidence that there is a direct link.

The allegation that the knifeman shouted “This is for Syria” seems pretty direct!

Source: Blaming Leytonstone stabbing on Syria vote would be ‘dangerous’ warns senior Labour MP

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Liberal Democrats in turmoil over Farron’s decision to support air strikes

Tim-Farron-Getty The Liberal Democrats destroyed themselves by going into coalition with the Conservative Party, and now the party is tearing itself further apart. Good.

One question remains to be answered, though: Why did so many formerly Liberal Democrat constituencies go to Conservatives in the 2015 general election? If people were disgusted with the LDs’ betrayal, why did they vote for the people this betrayal helped?

Tim Farron is facing the first crisis of his leadership of the Liberal Democrats, as senior activists consider quitting the party over his decision to vote for air strikes in Syria.

Former MPs have also made it clear that they would have voted against the action, while members of the party’s powerful Federal Policy Committee (FPC) are angry that Mr Farron did not consult it about voting with the Government.

Many activists joined the Lib Dems because of the late Charles Kennedy’s opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 and were stunned when Mr Farron  did not oppose air strikes against Isis in Syria. Mr Farron was one of the six Lib Dems who backed the attacks; only his former leadership rival, Norman Lamb, and Ceredigion MP Mark Williams voted against.

Source: Syria air strikes: Lib Dem activists may quit after Tim Farron backs RAF attacks | UK Politics | News | The Independent

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