Facebook appears to be on the back foot, with bad press depressing growth rates in key markets, but the appointment of Nick Clegg as Vice-President for Global Affairs and Communications may be a smart move.Continue reading “Facebook’s future battles”
Should everyone, or at least every sovereign professional, read Machiavelli’s notorious book, The Prince?
From the BBC’s Imagine series, this programme explores the history and contemporary impact of Nicolo Machiavelli’s most famous book.Continue reading “Who’s afraid of Machiavelli? – BBC”
Levies for allegedly unpaid taxes, no supporting calculations and no right of appeal. The House of Lords finds that HMRC has been acting aggressively and disproportionately to freelancers it suspects of having avoided tax.
From David Byers in The Times:
The economic affairs committee in the House of Lords this week said that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) was overusing “disproportionate” powers that allow it to demand swift payments of unpaid tax from those it suspects of tax avoidance. Those suspected have no right to appeal to a tribunal.
Members said that accelerated payment notices (APNs) and follower notices were being aimed unfairly at lower and middle-income freelancers such as IT workers and NHS nurses, rather than the promoters of tax avoidance schemes.
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, chairman of the committee, said the balance of power had “tipped too far in favour of HMRC and against the fundamental protections every taxpayer should expect”.
It summarises seven findings:
- Increasingly fluid – “What we mean is that things are more open, less set, because people do have more ways to connect, see and experience more things.”
- No turning point on trust – “Our new analysis shows no real differences in levels of trust among the young with regards to all sorts of traditional institutions.”
- Just as caring – “But this does not mean that Gen Z are a cohort of activists.
Neither are they selfish snowflakes, too busy watching YouTube videos of people eating Tide Pods. The evidence suggests they are just as active in social causes as previous generations, sometimes in different ways (using technology), but just as often in traditional ways, such as volunteering.”
- Inflection point on health – On obesity: “it’s not getting better either. A lot of this is arguably to do with the environment around young people which is shaped to make it harder to keep a healthy weight – the people they see, the shops they shop at, the food they have available, all create a social norm, and are often geared to make them fat.”
- Importance of digital skills – “In some ways, Generation Z already have an
innate advantage over other generations, just through growing up fully integrated with technology – they are much more discerning of online sources than Millennial children ever were.”
- Danger is different – “Generation Z are not the teenage rebels of ages past. Generational declines in youth crime, smoking, drinking and sexual activity reflect a significant behavioural shift.”
- And digital is double-edged – “There is a growing body of evidence of the downsides from unfettered use of technology, prompting more strident statements from politicians and officials, including the head of the NHS in the UK. Social media use has correlations with anxiety, bullying, peer pressure, lower self-esteem, alongside much more positive outcomes.
We’re only in the infancy of understanding the full impact.”
Also, some fascinating data points (in no particular order):
- In 25 EU countries, the number of young people detained by the police dropped by 42% between 2008 and 2014.
- In the US in 2015, 22% of high schoolers had been in a physical fight that year compared with 36% in 1999.
- 66% of Generation Z think of themselves as exclusively heterosexual
compared with 71% of Millennials, 85% of Gen X and 88% of Baby Boomers.
- Just 30% of teenagers feel the things they own say a lot about how well they are doing in life, compared with 42% in 2011.
- Only 39% of teens prefer to buy gender-specific shoes, compared with
57% of Millennials.
- 40% of 12-15 year olds in 2010, felt that things they saw on social media were either entirely or mostly true; just 24% of Gen Z 12-15 year olds think that now.
The full report is here.
From last week’s Economist, a thoughtful piece on the state of the Conservative party:
If it can keep its head, though, and bring off a Brexit that does not plunge the country into chaos or paupery, then its long habit of exercising power, its ruthlessness with its leaders and its ability to mix firmness with flexibility—qualities which have made the Conservative Party the democratic world’s most successful political machine—may yet see it through. And the intellectual skills of a rising generation—not something it has always been able to count on—may, if exercised to the full, allow not mere survival, but success.
Image: Getty Images
A strong resistance to mass immigration has built up in our country and the rest of Europe in recent years. You may think it unreasonable and you may think it ill informed but it’s a political fact which I doubt can be argued out of existence. “Europe”, the source of much conspicuous immigration to Britain in recent years, has become the lightning conductor but the electrical charge has other origins and they are something to do with culture, with race, with religion, with Islamist terrorism and with welfare dependency.
For those of us who are relaxed and even positive about the benefits of immigration, it’s worth a read. There is a mood about the people – the voting public – that needs to be understood. Its roots go deep and long as successive governments (of every stripe) have avoided making the case for the immigration they have enabled.
His data, taken from the Migration Advisory Committee’s recent report is interesting. I haven’t read the report to fully understand it, but:
Migration from the rest of Europe brings a big benefit to the British Exchequer. Migration from the rest of the world (which outnumbers European Economic Area migration) is a substantial cost. A small chart we printed illustrated this. The average contribution to UK public finances of migrants from the EEA in 2016/17 was £2,310. The equivalent for migrants from the rest of the world was minus £840. The equivalent for British adults overall was minus £70.
The explanation is clear. The majority of rest-of-the-world migrants come from Asia, within which the Indian subcontinent is the largest component. The great majority of them are dependants: fiancées/fiancés, parents, carers and children brought in under our “family reunion” provisions: 53,000 in 2016, or a quarter of all non-EU immigration that year. These people are not lazy but have mostly come here for family reasons rather than to work. Many will be economically inactive and many will be poor. For cultural and religious reasons they will tend to keep themselves apart from the rest of Britain but be a charge upon the state.
Which is to say that it is not the geographic source of immigrants that creates the imbalance in contribution, but rather the reason for their coming.
If, like me, you’ve sometimes struggled to join the dots between the classical liberalism of, say, John Stuart Mill and the snowflakey, leftish liberalism that seems to be growing in US, and now UK, universities, this is an essential read. It offers a history and diagnosis of what is wrong with liberalism today, the challenges that need to be addressed – immigration and refugees; the social contract; China, Trump and right wing populism in Europe – and a call to arms for radical, liberal changes.
Image: The Economist
Left-wing politicians and officials at HMRC dislike the gig economy because it doesn’t conform to their model of what work should be.
Yes, welfare and regulation need to be adapted, but changes should go with the grain of modern employment rather than against it. Not least because it’s what so many people actually want to do.
A wilful determination to see participants in the gig economy as helpless victims risks destroying the very real value that sovereign professionals both provide and enjoy.
He makes a great point:
There is an Orwellian twist to how the press hypes certain stories and then, as interest wanes, reverses course with a “Never mind, but look at this exciting new report!”
Twitter, other social media 24-hour news channels, even the “quality” daily newspapers are over-filled with breathless excitement and journalists interviewing other journalists. What you eagerly watched or read yesterday is obsolete today.
Better to devote your reading time to a considered viewpoint like the Economist, or other weekly. Better still:
If the subject is truly important, read a couple of books on the subject and scout out magazine and newspaper articles from all sides of the ideological spectrum.