Sunday, January 13, 2013

Will Hutton- Doesn't Get Rent Seeking

Will Hutton writes about football in the UK. It is pretty much all nonsense but consider this passage in particular:
Britain is a rent-seeker's paradise, as many more football clubs other than Birmingham City can testify. We have created a looters' charter, with football as a playpen, within which the super-rich can do what they want. A recent flash point is the price visiting fans are charged for their tickets. (Manchester City fans protested at the £62 they were asked to pay for today's game at Arsenal.) If the price of admission, along with travel, is prohibitive, then the game is played to only one set of supporters in the stadium with one set of chants. The experience of a game shrivels.
 The idea that football attracts rent seekers is preposterous. Three days ago Chelsea FC reported their first profit since Roman Abramovich took over, but in reality it was just an accounting quirk. Overall the Russian oligarch has spent around a billion pounds on Chelsea football club. Manchester City's owners have also spent an amount they will never claw back. Promotion and relegation ensure that clubs continually have to spend almost all their surplus cash on higher wages just to keep up with their rivals.

Owning a football club is not an opportunity to seek rent but rather a rich man's hobby which he may enjoy but won't profit from.

It is different in league systems with no promotion and relegation such as the major American leagues, because there the pay roll can be capped and the scarcity value of a place in the league can be leveraged to encourage extravagant subsidies from tax payers.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is That A Communist Manifesto In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me.

Disputes among the far left are tedious to outsiders at the best of times so I largely ignored the story about the Socialist Workers Party's infighting over allegations that senior members used their positions to sexually exploit women in the party.

Until I realised that one of the men accused of doing so is Martin Smith, who also leads the Unite Against Fascism front group. So can I just point out this post by myself from 2009 pointing out the uncanny resemblance between Martin Smith and a younger "anti fascist" activist.

I was joking at the time but who knows, maybe I was right.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quote Of The Day

I saw a copy of the Sun today and this is what page 3 girl Sylvia had to say about the forthcoming Destiny's Child reunion:
Seeing the girls sing on stage again will be amazing. In the words of the American theologian Tyron Edwards "Every parting is a form of death, and each reunion a type of heaven".

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Failing To Understand The Concept Of "History".

Lester Holloway isn't happy that Michael Gove wants school history to have more Cromwell and less Seacole*:
The 2012 Olympics were surely evidence that he cannot turn back the clock to a bygone age.
Er, that is kind of the point of history.

* Mary Seacole seems to have been a remarkable woman but the apparent role she has in school history is out of proportion to her importance as a historical figure. Also school history needs to give a rough grounding in the development of the nation rather than projecting current obsessions with race and sex backwards.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Lead In Your Pencil.

The theory that the fall in crime over the last generation has been due to the phasing out of lead additives in petrol has received another airing recently.

The last time I mentioned the idea on this blog it was to ridicule the idea, but over the last few years it seems to have stood up fairly well- to the point where it is perhaps the biggest underlying global cause of long term fluctuations in crime trends. (When I'm admitting I was partly wrong I tend to waffle).

However there is a danger of neglecting cultural and policy impacts on crime levels in affecting crime levels even if they aren't the only factors. For example there has been a major difference in the homicide rate of the northern and souther United States going back to before the country was actually formed- and long predating the use of lead in petrol. Even today the much vaunted fall in crime experienced by New York cannot really be explained by lead alone, because the rate in New York fell in relative terms compared to other cities (to the point where the much small city of Chicago has more murders in total than New York). So there still is a significant role for effective policing and sentencing in cutting crime.

If the theory continues to hold water then it is a significant victory for environmentalists- at least the saner ones- because it seems that pollution caused side effects far more severe than could have been predicted based upon the best evidence available at the time. The precautionary principle has in this case at least been vindicated.