UK government says ‘No’ to volunteer labor


One of the many consequences of the new points-based system for UK visa distribution is the limitation imposed on non-EU student interns. The current migration regulations bar non-EU students from undertaking fulltime internships in the UK, effectively pronouncing a death sentence on thousands of UK internship programmes at universities around the world.

The objective of this new policy is simple, to protect UK jobs. The government assumes that a drastic reduction in free student labor will compel UK employers to pay EU citizens to do the work formerly done by non-EU interns. If the volunteer labor supply is depleted, organizations with internship programmes will be forced either to increase their expenses by hiring additional employees or do less work because they cannot afford to pay new staff. The points based system ensures that intern-dependent employers reduce either net profitability or productivity.

I grant that this is an oversimplification. It is possible that organizations that previously relied on non-EU interns might maintain their productivity levels by working more efficiently. It could also be argued that the time spent training interns diminishes organizational efficiency. Astute observers may even point out that intern-dependent employers represent a miniscule percentage of UK employers, so the impact on the economy will also be negligible.

Efficiency is a hallmark of free market economies, but it must be worked out in an unfettered marketplace not artificially imposed by regulation. Although the collective economy will notice little effects from the elimination of interns, market sectors containing an abundance of resource poor, intern-dependent organizations – unregistered charities in particular – will feel the effects of the points-based system most acutely.

The anti-intern policy is far from the top of the list of ill-advised policies set forth by the current regime (see capital gains tax reform, non-dom tax, et al.). Nonetheless, the policy is yet another example of regulation that obstructs free enterprise. Hopefully it will follow many of its poorly conceived counterparts to the policy graveyard.

Pirate Bay MEP


altIn Sweden the Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) have won a seat in the European Parliament. This party was formed after the increased prosecution of various online sites.

When asked, Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak: “We’ve felt the wind blow in our sails. We’ve seen the polls prior to the election. But to stand here, today, and see the figures coming up on that screen… What do you want me to say? I’ll say anything".

The party has been formed as a libertarian/civil liberty party who are particularly aggrieved, about the mass surveillance so prevalent in Europe and the increasing state of cyber-surveilance.

Rumors that upon the news of the win the gathered fans shouted "arrrr" have yet to be confirmed.

Blog Review 876


To those who would limit immigration: the problem with a bureaucratic system to do so is that it will be run by bureaucrats for bureaucrats.

What a ghastly and chilling prediction of the future.

Looks interesting: the real story behind the progression of the smoking bans.

A less likely but more amusing vision of what might happen.

Not that many seem to have noted that Tessa Jowell has her own questions to answer over mortgages.

Chicago professor seems not to have read Chicago professor on markets and racial discrimination.

And finally, how not to ask for publicity on a blog.


The election results


altSo Labour have been decimated and quite right too. Although I am no fan of Cameron’s incoherent stance on Europe, it is certainly preferable to Labour’s machinations since Blair came to power.

UKIP have done well despite the shoddy folding of many ballot papers, while the Liberal Democrats have not benefited from Labour's collapse. These moves are clearly a direct call for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and Europe.

Those across the political spectrum calling for further integration will argue that voters are in fact not voting on Europe but on National issues. Certainly given the drubbing that the Labour Party has received suggests that this is the case. Yet surely this is an even further rejection of the European project as it stands: even the elected face of this Behemoth is not a primary factor in the legitimacy for the voters of this country. This is reflected in the consistent low turnouts at European elections.

As an aside, during the BBC’s coverage the question was asked: "Why would voters choose the fascist BNP rather than the left wing Communists given the recession?" This is wrongheaded as the BNP is closer to what many in the left wing of the Labour Party would vote for. It is the failure of the Labour Party that accounts for the BNP gaining two seats.

The result is clear: it is a vote against Brown and a vote against closer ties with the European Union.

Women in politics


altAs Gordon Brown has lost most of the women from his cabinet by one means or another there has been much talk of the male cabal of Brown’s inner circle control. Most prominently former Europe minister Caroline Flint has stepped down accusing Brown of treating her as window dressing, while others have been pressured to leave for a mixture incompetence and corruption. The Blair babes are no more.

Flint is sticking the knife into the Prime Minister pretty deep, with many political commentators suggesting that the anti-female nature of politics is indicative of the necessary overhaul required of the political system. This though could be a distraction from the issue at hand. Perhaps Brown was and is anti-woman, but the real issue is not to open up the cabal but to shut it down.

The size and scope of government needs severely restricting to the point where it matters little whether the Prime Minister is a man or a woman, a time when national politics is restricted by the defense of the rights of man and woman; where the people can do anything except when it inhibits the freedom of others, while the government can only do that which ensures this freedom is upheld.

Such a state of affairs is possible. The Magna Carta was signed in this country. Perhaps it was never realized, but logic demands people to recognize that the problem is not restricted to Gordon Brown, but permeates the institution of Parliament. Rich and poor alike need protecting from the politicians and the people that believe in them.

With the fundamentals of freedom enshrined in law and protected by a watchful citizenry, we will all be free to compete and cooperate without the strictures of government intervention. This is the only freedom that women should really aspire to; outside of this we are all still stuck in the Panopticon.

Blog Review 785


An amusing point about the professional political classes.

Some journalists also seem to have an odd idea of what is normal.

Yes, they really do want to attack home schooling.

Are we all becoming more socialist? Or simply more cooperative?

A guide to doing business in Russia. No wonder it's a poor country.

Might there be a better way of choosing the chief executive of our largest company?

And finally, why alcohol is like petrol.


The Mancession


There's evidence that, entirely contrary to what people like Harriet Harman have been trying to tell us, it is men who are bearing the brunt of this recession in terms of job losses.

The jobless figures for May showed unemployment at 9.4%, a 25-year high. But while rates for men and women were roughly equal in 2007, 10.5% of men are now unemployed, compared with 8% of women. Four of every five jobs lost in the past two years had been held by men. The gender gap is the largest ever seen in US labour statistics, which go back to 1948.

“What’s happening in this recession is unprecedented," said Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan. “It’s structurally different because the job losses are so concentrated among men."

Blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and construction are haemorrhaging while white-collar work in increasingly female-dominated, often publicly funded fields, such as education and health, are holding steady or growing.

As you can see a large part of this is down to occupational segregation. Further, it's not just the types of jobs, services against manufacturing, but it's also the sector, public or private. Public sector jobs are more secure, less likely to disappear in a recession.

Which leads us to a further conclusion, similarly entirely at odds with what Harriet Harman and her ilk try to tell us. That the gender pay gap (at least, not all of it) is not due to discrimination. It's due to entirely rational sorting and the choices made by individuals.

Just as more dangerous jobs pay a wage premium to compensate for the risks of injury so do or should those more insecure jobs pay a premium. Or if you prefer, workers will, if they are risk averse, choose a lower paid but more secure job. Which means that if women are preferentially employed in the lower risk public sector then womens' wages will be lower than mens'.

No discrimination required, just individuals deciding what they prefer by their own lights.