Samir’s Selection 10/02/2015 (p.m.)

  • tags: economics macroeconomics policy publicpolicy LabourParty JeremyCorbyn MartinWolf

    • But he and his colleagues are taking on outworn shibboleths. That is a good thing even if
      I disagree with much of what he thinks.
    • Mr McDonnell is opposed to “austerity”, for example, and would tackle the deficit by raising taxes on business and the rich; and by creating an “entrepreneurial state” to boost growth. These ideas need work. But the challenge is merited.
    • This was a political choice, not an economic necessity. Labour should argue that other options on the size of the deficit and on how to close it were available. The UK has, for example, wasted a golden opportunity to fund a large one-off rise in public investment at zero long-term real interest rates. Only the Treasury could be so fixated on the debit side of the  public sector balance sheet as to ignore this once-in-a-bright-blue-moon opportunity.
    • Again, Labour should argue that the balance between spending cuts and tax increases could have been quite different. It is not entitled to argue, however, that it possesses a fiscal fountain. The idea that it might costlessly seize £93bn of “corporate welfare” is nonsense.
    • This does not mean the tax system could not be made far fairer and more efficient. Mr Corbyn suggests inheritance tax should be reformed to target the wealthy. He is right. It is at present voluntary for the wealthy and far less so for the upper-middle classes. Mr McDonnell is also right to argue that the present system of corporation tax is unacceptably leaky. Again, the UK’s taxation of property is grotesquely unjust and inefficient. Replacing it with an efficient system of land taxation would be a huge boon. So, too, would an extensive homebuilding programme. The UK should also co-operate with other states to ensure that the world’s richest cannot park themselves in tax havens while benefiting from the stability and security our taxpayers provide.
    • Labour also wishes to re-examine in­stitutions such as the Treasury and Bank of England. It is right. The former is too powerful and blinkered. Analysis and planning of public investment should go to an independent body. Government should then borrow to fund in­vestments with positive present value.
    • The idea that the BoE should focus on growth, jobs and wages is also an error. It is not equipped to solve such problems. But its mandate could be reviewed. One possibility would be to replace the inflation target with one for nominal GDP.
    • More urgent is to consider what the BoE might do if interest rates had to be pushed back towards  zero in a future recession . Direct money transfers to the public might be more  effective than asset purchases. That would require co-operation with the government. Other radical options are being considered, even scrapping cash altogether . It makes sense for Labour to commission in-depth analysis of these options. It is not good enough to argue that direct money transfers might prove addictive to politicians and dangerous to society . We have learnt that a system in which creation of money — a public good— is left to profit-seeking financial institutions under the guidance of the central bank is also addictive and dangerous.
    • If Labour were to abandon its attachment to nationalisation, it could turn to reform of corporate governance instead.
  • “For every half-hour working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes”

    tags: health cancer diabetes heart cardiovascular howto sitting standing

    • Studies have found that sedentary behavior, including sitting for extended periods, increases the risk for developing dozens of chronic conditions, from cancer and diabetes to cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
    • Some ergonomics experts warn that too much standing also can have negative effects on health, including a greater risk for varicose veins, back and foot problems, and carotid artery disease.
    • “The key is breaking up your activity throughout the day,” said <!–  –> Alan Hedge,<!–  –> a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University. “Sitting all day and standing all day are both bad for you,” he said.
    • For every half-hour working in an office, people should sit for 20 minutes, stand for eight minutes and then move around and stretch for two minutes
    • He says standing for more than 10 minutes tends to cause people to lean, which can lead to back problems and other musculoskeletal issues.
    • The panel recommends a combined two to four hours of standing and light activity spread throughout the workday.
    • research from NASA has found that standing up for two minutes 16 times a day while at work is an effective strategy for maintaining bone and muscle density
    • “The current scientific evidence shows that when people have occupations in which they are on their feet for more than two hours a day, there seems to be a reduction in the risk of developing key chronic diseases,”
    • Various studies have shown that even regular exercise won’t compensate for the negative effects from sitting too much during the day. Sitting causes physiological changes in the body, and may trigger some genetic factors that are linked to inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Buckley, of the University of Chester. In contrast, standing activates muscles so excess amounts of blood glucose don’t hang around in the bloodstream and are instead absorbed in the muscles, he said.
    • Standing burns one-half to one calorie more a minute than sitting. In four hours, that represents as many as 240 additional calories burned. Sitting more than an hour lowers the levels of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which causes calories to be sent to fat stores rather than to muscle, Dr. Hedge said.
    • how to induce people to sit less
    • Among those that worked: educating people about the benefits of less sitting time; restructuring work environments, such as adding standing or adjustable desks; setting goals for the amount of time spent sitting; recording sitting times; and creating cues or alerts for people when they need to stand
    • The majority of interventions that didn’t work were aimed at getting people to do more physical activity
    • When he has meetings with just one or two people he finds a place where they can walk together instead of sitting. And he tells his patients who are parents to use their children’s athletic events as a time to be on their feet. “There’s no reason you have to sit and watch those games,”
  • tags: lobbying Brussels EU technology SiliconValley Google Amazon Microsoft Facebook ECJ dataprotection privacy SafeHarbor transparency

    • Companies are not required to disclose their EU lobbying, but a voluntary transparency register shows that U.S. tech firms are among the biggest spenders.
    • Google (GOOGL, Tech30) shelled out about $4.5 million trying to influence EU policy making in 2014, according to the register. That’s still peanuts compared to the $17.4 million the company paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C. last year, but represents a threefold increase over its 2013 spending in Brussels.

      Lobbyists representing Google have also scored the highest number of meetings with officials from the European Commission — 29 between December 2014 and June 2015, data from Transparency International show.

    • The EU’s top court on Wednesday issued an opinion that could prevent Facebook (FB, Tech30), and others, transferring large quantities of user data to U.S. authorities.
    • Microsoft said it spent as much as $5.4 million in 2014, on a par with 2013.
    • Amazon spent up to $800,000, Apple $911,000, and Mastercard around $1.1 million last year.
    • Facebook said it spent between between $450,000 and $570,000 in 2013, but did not reveal its 2014 bill.
    • Qualcom, currently the subject of two separate antitrust investigations by the EU, spent about $500,000 in 2014.
    • Other U.S. companies are also forking out millions in Brussels. Four of the top 10 spenders are from the U.S., with Exxon Mobil (XOM) admitting to spending up to $5 million euros on lobbying, more than any other company. General Electric (GE) joins Google and Microsoft in the top 10.
    • Experts from Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels-based lobbying watchdog, say the money spent is just part of the picture. They’re just as worried about the “revolving door” of former European Commission officials crossing into the corporate world to become advisers.

      The practice is not illegal, but is regulated. Former officials have to apply for authorization for two years after they have left the Commission.

    • The head of Facebook’s Brussels office is Erika Mann, who served as a member of the European Parliament for three terms between 1994 and 2009.

      Per Hellström, a senior director of regulatory affairs at Apple, worked for the European Commission for over 17 years before joining Apple last year.

      And Tobias McKenney, currently an intellectual property adviser at Google, spent five years as a policy adviser at the European Commission, focusing on — wait for it — intellectual property.

  • tags: ConservativeParty business lobbying market broadband BT GeorgeOsborne EdVaizey Uber London BorisJohnson conservative capitalism corruption

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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