University funding

The Guardian, New Statesman and their followers are restarting the argument that free University tuition is a subsidy to the middle class, again. As if progressive taxation and free tuition were exclusive. They’re not and tertiary education is an investment in Human Capital; it’s a social good. We should pay for our children’s education! After all, we expect them to pay for our pensions!

Bitcoin

This is a long diatribe at Hacker Noon about the Bitcoin bubble and the blockchain hype. I had been considering writing something similar although my focus was on the excessive use  & cost of electricity to “mine” coins and the demonstrable industrialisation and economic consolidation of the mining operations.

Bitcoin, in particular, has a shrinking use as a means of exchange, as identified by this business insider preview of a Morgan Stanley opinion. This is compounded by the fact that the transaction fees are now too high for small or micro payments, and that it is not real time, (it can take minutes to clear) and thus cannot be used for transactions that require simultaneous exchange, be it a cup of coffee or a house.

The block chain does not scale well, despite the massively distributed architecture. If its performance is matched with say Visa or other significant global payment processors, VISA is rated at 60,000 transactions/sec (TPS) where as the Bitcoin maxes out at 7 TPS. So not only is it expensive, but it can’t cope with real world volume; it’s just as well that small transactions are deserting the platform.

What started me thinking this time round, was the realisation that the amount of power required to “mine” the currency grows and is now significant. While the compensation for the miners is scrip/free, the real cost in electricity and thus carbon pollution is significant. This adds to the cost, both internal but more importantly the external cost. The planet cannot afford the electricity power and the carbon footprint to virtualise global capitalism’s money supply.

Kai Stinchcombe argues that the lack of regulation is also a disincentive to use crypto currencies and examines the Etherium/DAO hack and draws the conclusion that on the whole society needs contracts to be interpreted by people, not by software.

Money must be a means of exchange, and a store of wealth, block-chain crypto-currencies are struggling and increasingly failing  to be the former and it’s current price peaks , historic volatility and lack of regulator suggests it’s weak as the latter. Is it just a con?

Chairing of AGMs

Have I done this before? On chairing AGMs in the Labour Party

Chapter 15.I.F.iii At the annual meeting the chair shall preside until a successor is elected, except where the chair is not a duly appointed delegate to the meeting; in which case the election of chair shall be taken as the first item on the agenda. The new chair shall take over the conduct of the meeting forthwith and proceed to the election of other officers and further business.

A coach and horses through privacy rights

A coach and horses through privacy rights

I have just been approached by a Trade Union member who wanted to know how to complain about his employer’s record keeping. The short answer is to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office. It reminded me that the ORG are campaigning to change the current Data Protection Bill to allow non-profits to represent complainants; this reminds me that Trade Unions might also want to benefit from this legislative protection, but I was horrified by the Government’s proposed exemption of immigration data from the remit of the Data Protection law and thus the GDPR. 

Reconvening

More Labour Party Rules, a reconvened AGM cannot be packed.

Chapter 15.I.E.i [Both:] When an annual or special meeting is not held for any reason or is abandoned without completing the business on the agenda, such meeting must be reconvened as soon as practicable in order for any necessary outstanding business to be transacted. Only those eligible to participate in the meeting as first convened, whether or not held, shall be entitled to participate in any further reconvened meeting.

My emphasis

Indivisible

Over the weekend, Theresa May tried to square the Irish border circle, by agreeing that Northern Ireland would remain in the EU’s customs union and single market while the rest of Great Britain pursued her loony’s hard brexit project. This means that the border between the EU and Great Britain would be the Irish Sea. It was hardly surprising that the DUP torpedoed this idea, in a humiliating fashion for the Government.

It’s unsurprising that both the Scottish First Minister and the Mayor of London spoke out for me too deal; if Northern Ireland gets to stay in the single market, then why not other areas that voted remain.

Of course one answer is that the whole of the UK stays within the customs union and single market