Build more or cut immigration – @MattwRidley

Matt Ridley’s Times column on the UK’s infrastructure challenges.

As ever, it’s an objective and data-driven argument:

Of the 1,447 people that Britain added every day in the 12 months to the end of June last year, roughly 529 were births minus deaths, 518 were net arrivals from the European Union, and 537 net arrivals from elsewhere, minus 137 departing British citizens. Given such a flow, our unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent and employment rate of 75.1 per cent are remarkable, if not miraculous. We are one of the world’s great workplaces, which, of course, is why people come.

and …

Though a densely populated country, Britain is not in any sense running out of land. Only about 7 per cent of the land area is classified as urban, rising to almost 11 per cent in England. But of that 11 per cent a great deal is still not concrete: gardens, parks, water and so forth. So the actual paved-over percentage, even just in England, is about 2.27 per cent according to the National Ecosystem Assessment in 2012, and more like 1 per cent for Britain as a whole. This is why a flight over southern England, let alone the Pennines, gives a very different impression from a car journey through the ribbon development along the roads: there is vastly more farmland and woodland (13 per cent of Britain and rising) than concrete.

As so often these days, we suffer from a long-standing failure to have made the case.

Here is the column in the Times.

Here is the same column from Ridley’s own blog, which includes links back to the data sources.

Over decades, we have failed to make the case for development.

We had the Brexit vote (at least partly) because we failed to make the case for immigration.

People deify that nice Uncle Jeremy Corbyn because we failed to make the case for free markets.

Is the shrill intolerance of no-platforming, safe-spacing, snowflake students the result of past failure to make the case for free speech?

 

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash

Philip Hammond eyes £1bn budget raid on freelancers – @TheSundayTimes

The Sunday Times reports that the Chancellor is considering another attack on sovereign professionals. The concern seems to be, as before, “disguised employment” and the Sunday Times’ coverage is couched in terms of “levelling the playing field” and “significant tax advantages”.

The reality of course is different.

When running properly, individuals operating through personal services companies are each individual businesses carrying all the risks of business and not enjoying the corporate comfort blanket benefits of traditional employment. If the cost to the client company is higher than employing a traditional employee (and often the fully loaded costs are not as far apart as crude comparisons of “day rates” suggest), then the client business benefits from flexibility and agility that no commitment, on-demand services provide.

A tax raid risks damaging the supply of this important flexibility while also increasing the cost to client firms. This has already been seen in the public sector where restrictions similar to those imagined here have already been implemented. It’s a short-sighted and ill-considered move.

Does “disguised employment” actually exist? I’m sure it does. A number of recent court cases suggest that there has been a trend for some employers to seek the cost benefits of using freelance contractors whilst retaining all of the control traditionally associated with  “permanent” employment. Those cases should rightly be pursued, but not by painting the self-employed as either downtrodden, abused workers or system-abusing fat cats.

Being a sovereign professional is a choice. It has real benefits – not least in flexibility – but it comes with risks, costs and responsibilities. A suitable test of employment would investigate the extent to which those risks are real, rather than simply punishing providers of needed skills through a flexible model.

 

Photo by Lily Lvnatikk on Unsplash

Songs for Sovereign Professionals: Running on Empty

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on.

I love this song. It opens full of a 17-year old’s drive and hope and energy, but quickly turns to melancholy and a just a tinge of desperation …

I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through

Looking into their eyes I see them running too

Sometimes, we all feel that we’re running on empty.

Here’s Jackson Browne at the 2004 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductions…

And, more youthfully, on the BBC in 197. David Lindley’s lap steel here is superb…

Running on Empty is the opening (and title) track of Jackson Browne’s 1977 album. Maybe the ultimate road album, the album was recorded on stage, on the tour bus and in hotel rooms.

Sophocles, Cialdini and reciprocity

Execupundit Michael Wade reminds us of a quote from Sophocles:

Kindness begets kindness.

…which maybe sounds a little platitudinous, until you realise it is at the heart of Robert Cialdini’s first Principle of Influence: Reciprocity.

Too often, we think of reciprocity as something transactional but, in reality, it needs to be a longer term, less expectant behaviour. “Kindness” is not far off.

I was reminded of this listening to Jason Sibley (@JasonCreation) of The Creation Agency at Marketo’s Marketing Nation event, last week.

Here’s a useful reminder of all six principles from Cialdini’s site:

 

Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash

 

Echoes through time: the quality of the men he has around him

“The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men he has around him.  When they are competent and loyal he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognise their competence and to keep them loyal.”

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527), The Prince