In the UK: a never- ending series of cuts in local government funding

Between 2010 and 2020, local councils in yhe UK will have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. Councils have gone to great lengths to ensure the savings they have been forced to make have as little impact as possible on the quality of services provided to their residents. They …

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The revolving door in the Republican administration

President Trump has picked David Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, to be the Interior Department’s next secretary. Bernhardt, whose past clients include oil companies and others with business before the Interior Department, will lead an agency that oversees about 500 million acres as well as the energy production on that land. It has 70,000 employees …

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The UK signs some mega trade deals!

The UK and Switzerland have signed a deal to continue trading after Brexit as they did before it. The “continuity agreement” – based on the EU’s existing free trade deal with Switzerland – was ratified on Monday. Around £32bn of trade is done between the UK and Switzerland each year, with 15,000 British exporters involved. …

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Time to break up Google and Facebook

In today’s divided Washington there is one thing the Left and Right agree about: that some companies have grown too powerful. Even conservatives were disgusted by the way states recently showered perks on Amazon in the hope of winning the right to host its new headquarters. “The richest man in the world just got $2bn …

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Leveraged loans, the latest threat dreamed up by the banks

We all know that the 2008 financial cataclysm was caused by mortgages offered to customers with weak or no credit histories, bundled together to create “investment opportunities”, causing a chain reaction of losses. Now it is the turn of “leveraged loans”, which are offered to companies already in debt, without too many strings attached. Most …

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No.2: Is the Brexit referendum actually constitutional?

For the record: in 1689 the principle of the sovereignty of parliament was finally established, with no ifs and buts, and role of the new king and queen, William and Mary and their successors, has been to sign off on any legislation passed by Parliament, whether they liked it or not. Thus it has been …

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No. 1: Is the Brexit referendum actually constitutional?

Letter to the London Review of Books, 24 January 2019 “David Runciman is right to conclude in his analysis of the Brexit impasse that the attempt to “combine parliamentary government with plebiscitary democracy has failed. The UK is faced not merely with s constitutional crisis, but with a constitutional breakdown. Together the referendum principle introduced …

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Republicans and Big Government

President Trump has cast the shuttering of federal agencies as a standoff over his promise to build a wall on the southern border, paid for (supposedly) by Mexico. But for many White House aides and allies, the partial shutdown is advancing another long-standing priority: shrinking the government. Prominent advisers to the president have forged their …

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Save us from these superficial, amateur politicians!

Some of Britain’s biggest corporate names have dealt a blow to Theresa May by pressing the panic button and reorganising their business operations in case of a no-deal Brexit. Sir James Dyson, a Brexit-backing billionaire whose large company makes household goods like vacuum cleaners, inflicted the biggest embarrassment for the prime minister when his company …

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Brexit: my most instant, heartfelt posting ever

Britain on Tuesday: May lost by over 400 votes! The rolling, roiling disaster gets worse by the day. Lack of forethought, bullying, and downright ignorance rule the day! Epicurus would advise me to calm down, to be philosophical, to assume all will eventually settle down and rationality will be restored. It is possible that he …

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Homelessness in Britain

At least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, according to research by the housing charity “Shelter”. This amounts to a year-on-year increase of 13,000, a 4% rise, despite government pledges to tackle the crisis. The estimate suggests that nationally one in 200 people are homeless. Shelter says its figures, which include rough sleepers and people …

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The curse of American monopolies

Three quarters of all US industries became more concentrated between 1997 and 2012. Ten pharmaceutical companies control the production and sales of the world’s medicine. Three chemical companies control the supply of seeds and pesticides. One corporation controls nearly all the non-craft beer for sale on the planet. Industrial concentration has now reached the highest …

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Gerrymandering

The 2018 election results are a powerful demonstration of why American politicians want to keep control of redistricting to themselves, thus exposing one of the most blatently undemocratic aspects of elections. Successful partisan gerrymandering of constituences rests on one major concept: distributing the votes for your political party more evenly among districts than your opponent. …

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The Supreme Court … thoroughly politicised

The US Supreme Court, with the addition of two hard-right justices appointed by Trump, has now become so politicised that one could argue that a Republican Senate is almost unnecessary. The Court has five of the most conservative justices there have been for a hundred years. Although John Roberts tries to temper the extreme views …

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Time to rein in corporate power!

One of the few areas of agreement in Washington’s “bitterly divided politics” is “the need to tackle the omnipotence of the Faangs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google). Donald Trump may be a Twitter addict, but he has been “sharply critical” of the power of big tech. The Democrats taking control of the House of …

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Why is big business silent over Brexit?

Entrepreneurs and small firms on both sides of the argument have spoken out freely about Brexit. So too have bosses of foreign-owned companies. But the “Trappist silence” maintained by many of the UK’s largest firms “has become deafening” – even though surveys suggest the majority of corporate bosses would prefer to stay in the EU …

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