Glossary

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A

Affordable housing:
Renting: the government's definition is that affordable homes should cost no more than 80% of the average local market rent.
Ownership: it must be provided at a level at which the mortgage payments should be more than would be paid in rent on council housing, but below market levels. It must also be able to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households.
Alt-right:
Short for "alternative right". A loosely-connected group of far right-wing ideologies opposed to multiculturalism and social equality by race and sex, mostly active on the internet; often supportive of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, White Nationalism, White Supremacy, neo-Nazism, anti-Immigration.
Antitrust:
A law that protects fainess and competition in business; opposed to the establishment or existence of trusts (monopolies). Eg: The regulators used antitrust laws to block the merger, believing it would eliminate competition.
Austerity
The belief that by cutting spending and raising taxes you can eliminate government borrowing

B

Blue Book
Depending on context, "Blue Book" may refer to either:
  1. Blue Book, Office for National Statistics. Published annually; contains the estimates of the domestic and national product, income and expenditure for the UK.
  2. Any official report in the UK of Parliament or the Privy Council

C

Civil Society Organisation:
A CSO is a voluntary, non-state, not-for-profit group formed by ordinary people, and represents a wide range of interests and ties. The term "CSO" covers community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, indigenous peoples' organisation, and so on.
Closed Source Software:
"Closed source" means computer programs whose source code is not published. Only the company which developed the software can edit and change it.
Conglomerate:
One giant corporation formed from a group of smaller companies. A typical production unit in modern developed capitalism is a giant corporation which, in addition to dominating particular industries, is a conglomerate operating in many industries and multi-national, operating in many countries.[1]
Consumer Price Index:
The CPI is a statistical estimate which measures inflation of consumer prices. It does so by measuring the changes in the price level of a particular list of items (a "market basket") of consumer goods and services bought by households. It is computed monthly by the Office for National Statistics.
See also Retail Price Index and Consumer Price Index (United Kingdom)Wikipedia's W.svg.
Contestable markets:
This was a new theory of industrial organisation whose goal was to demonstrate that competition and efficiency did not require “large numbers of actively producing firms, each of whom bases its decisions on the belief that it is so small as not to affect price,” as in [perfect competition] theory. Rather, contestable markets theory posited “costlessly reversible entry” or absolutely free entry and exit to industries by potential competitors. The barriers to entry that constituted the basis of conceptions of monopoly power were abolished by fiat at the level of pure theory. In particular, economies of scale were no longer seen as an advantage for a given firm, constituting a substantial barrier to entry. Instead, what was postulated was ultra-free entry even in such cases.

D

Debate:
A debate is a discussion (in either House) on the pros and cons of a particular matter. At the end of the debate votes are often held (but not always) on whether to pass or reject a proposed new law.
The House of Commons has rules about the length of time a member can speak, although this can be shortened or lengthened with the agreement of the other members.
All debates are fully recorded in the Hansard.
Deficit:
The overspend racked up by the government when it spends more than it receives in taxes.
Domain Fronting:
Some govts censor encrypted messaging apps and social media platforms to prevent users from communicating through channels they can’t control. They usually do this by ordering Internet Service Providers to block access to IP addresses and domains associated with those services.
Basically, domain fronting hides the host name of the site or web service with which your application is communicating, behind another domain. For example, suppose you want to go to https://www.blocked-social-media.com. Using Google App Engine for domain fronting, your ISP would only see you going to https://www.google.com. To prevent people from going to https://www.blocked-social-media.com, the govt would have to block all web traffic going to https://www.google.com, which they would not do because of the many critical functions Google provides.
Moxie Marlinkspike of Signal explains very clearly how domain fronting works here. Tim Malcolm Vetter explains it a bit more technically here.

E

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F

Filibuster:
A form of obstruction used in Parliament in an effort to delay or prevent a vote on a proposed law. It employs a tactic of talking non-stop, for as long as possible, often irrelevantly, so that a parliamentary debate on a proposed law runs out of time and a vote cannot be held, thereby effectively killing it.
Filibustering is essentially talking non-stop for a long time so that a debate runs out of time and a vote cannot be held on the law, effectively killing it.
Freedom of Information request
Freedom of Information laws (FOI laws) allow access by the general public to data held by the government. The emergence of freedom of information legislation was a response to increasing dissatisfaction with the secrecy surrounding government policy development and decision making. They establish a "right-to-know" legal process by which requests may be made for government-held information, to be received freely or at minimal cost, barring standard exceptions. See also Freedom of information in the United KingdomWikipedia's W.svg

G

Gesture Politics:
An action or statement made as a symbolic gesture and having little or no practical effect. The intention is to attract public attention and sway public opinion, not to make a significant change.
GHG
Acronym for GreenHouse Gases.
GHGE
Acronym for GreenHouse Gas Emissions.
Gig Economy
A working environment that offers flexible employment hours. Instead of a regular wage, workers get paid for the "gigs" they do, such as a pizza delivery. It is estimated that 5 million people are employed in the gig economy.[2] Depending on your point of view:
  • Advocates claim that people benefit from flexible hours, with control over how much time they can work. The flexible nature offers benefits to employers, as they only pay when the work is available, and don't incur staff costs when the demand is not there.
  • A form of exploitation with very little workplace protection. Workers are classed as independent contractors. That means they have no protection against unfair dismissal, no right to redundancy payments, and no right to receive paid holiday, sickness pay, or the national minimum wage.[3] Employers often pressure people to work when they are needed, not when they wish to do so.
Government gilts
Government bonds are called "gilts". UK gilts have maturities stretching much further into the future than other European govt bonds. A govt bond is a bond issued by a national govt, generally with a promise to pay periodic interest payments and to repay the face value on the maturity date.

H

Hegemony:
The political dominance of one group over another, such that the ruling group acquires some degree of consent from the subordinate group, as opposed to dominance purely by force. Example: wealthy lender nations established hegemony over the debtor nations they lend to, in an attempt to determine political outcomes and trade decisions.
Hansard:
A publication containing a comprehensive transcript of every speech made in both Houses of Parliament, and is available online about 3 hours after a debate. Although not strictly verbatim, it does not omit any pertinent information. It is available online or in print form.
Houthis
The Houthis, officially called "Ansar Allah", are members of an Islamic religious-political-armed movement that emerged from Sa'dah in northern Yemen in the 1990s. They are of the Zaidi sect, and are predominantly Shia-led, though the movement reportedly also includes Sunnis.

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K

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L

Leverage
Leverage is the ratio of a company’s debt to the total value of its equity (assets minus liabilities such as loans or outstanding payments to a supplier). Increasing leverage means companies take on more debt despite the value of their equity remaining unchanged. A company may choose to use borrowed money to increase investment (with the aim of boosting profits) if credit is cheap and/or if the interest paid is tax deductible. Leverage can prove risky (leading to default) if investments go wrong or asset prices fall - like in the last financial crisis.[4]
Liberalism, economic
An economic approach which favours a free and open self-regulating market without government interference. Economic decisions should be made by individuals (ie. firms) and not by institutions (ie. government).
Libertarian
The central idea is that government should be as small as possible so as not to interfere with an individual's freedom. But, like ideology in general, this exists in a vacuum, as does pure democracy. In real life, things are quite different. The existence of society and governance requires that liberty be reduced to make peaceful coexistence possible and the greater good more likely. Freedom only has value as part of a larger context in which quality of life includes all of the aspects of modern society that we depend upon and want. The theory of libertarianism fails the test of reality. You can read about how it's supposed to be, but when we observe it in reality, it’s rather more complicated and less ideal. Left to its own devices, libertarianism inevitably reduces to "dog eat dog, and the devil take the hindmost".
Live shackling
Birds are hung upside down by their legs on metal shackles along a moving conveyor belt. They move along the production line to a stunning water bath; when the bird's head makes contact with the water, an electrical circuit between the water bath and shackle is completed, which stuns the bird. The conveyor belt then moves the birds to a mechanical neck cutter, which cuts the major blood vessels in the neck. Shackling the live birds causes pain, and hanging them by their legs is incredibly stressful for them. Fortunately, it is not so common nowadays.

M

Methane Clathrate:
Sediment from the world's rivers is deposited onto the ocean floors surrounding the continents. As it decomposes, it produces methane gas which can become trapped within the sediments. The US Govt has been handing out research grants into clathrate production; so have India, Japan and China.
However, clathrates are climate ecocide, because the amount of carbon locked up in clathrates is about the same as all the other fossil fuels combined. There can be no solution to the climate change issue if large-scale clathrate production begins.[5]
Monopoly:
The domination of a market by one seller (or cartel) who faces no competition, and therefore can exert powerful control over the market.

N

National debt
The national debt is the total amount of money owed by the British Government to its creditors at any given time. Govt debt can be categorized as internal debt (owed to lenders within the country) and external debt (owed to foreign lenders).
Natural Monopoly:
A monopoly that develops because of the unique nature of a business. For example, water supply is often regarded as a natural monopoly because it would be prohibitively expensive and wasteful to build competing distribution infrastructure.
Neoliberalism:
A political philosophy originating in the 1960s which adopts economic liberalsim as a means of promoting economic development and securing political liberty, ie. freedom from excessive government control. Also see [6]

O

Off-Plan Property
A property before it has been constructed. Pre-constructed properties are usually marketed to real estate developers and to early adopters as developments, so that the purchaser can secure much better finance terms from their lenders.
Property investors and/or property speculators like to purchase property in this way in the hope of making substantial capital gains. This usually occurs because developers who offer property for sale off-plan often offer financial incentives to early adopters. Usually this comes in the form of a discount in response to the sale plan. Furthermore, there may be ample opportunity for capital growth in a rising market and with a development cycle of typically 12–24 months. Off-plan propertyWikipedia's W.svg
Oligopolistic
One of a small number of sellers with undue influence over a market.
Oligopoly:
An economy where a small number of producers (sellers) control the supply of a good (eg. cars), and thereby can exert influence over prices.

P

Perfect competition:
An economic theory which describes markets in which the following conditions are met:
1. Buyers and sellers are too numerous and too small to have any degree of individual control over prices;
2. All buyers and sellers seek to maximize their profit (income);
3. Buyers and sellers can freely enter or leave the market;
4. All buyers and sellers have access to information regarding availability, prices, and quality of goods being traded;
5. All goods of a particular nature are homogeneous, hence substitutable for one another.
Aka "perfect market" or "pure competition".
Poultry Gassing
The majority of poultry in the UK are now killed using gas. There are a number of different types of gas killing systems and gas mixtures that may be used. Birds remain in their transport crates and are placed into a gas system where they are exposed to mixtures of air and gas, until dead. This method avoids the need to handle and 'shackle' live birds, so has some welfare advantages. UK law states that animals must be killed, not just stunned, using this method.[7]
Proxy Adviser firm
A proxy adviser firm provides services to shareholders (usually an institutional investor of some type) to vote their shares at company shareholder meetings. Typical services provided include provision of vote management software, voting policy development, company research, and vote administration including vote execution. Some firms simply execute client voting instructions. The votes executed are called "Proxy Votes" because the shareholder does not attend the meeting and instead sends instructions - a proxy appointment - for a third party, usually the chairman of the meeting to vote shares in accordance with the instructions given on the voting card.
Public sector borrowing requirement
Public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR) occurs when govt expenditures in the public sector of the economy are greater than govt income. The resulting deficit is then financed by borrowing funds from the public, usually by means of {{{2}}}.
Public sector net cash requirement
Public sector net cash requirement (PSNCR) is the official term for the govt budget deficit – the rate at which the govt must borrow money in order to maintain its financial commitments.

Q

Quantitative Easing: What is it?
Quantitative Easing is a monetary policy where central banks buy long-term bonds from private investors, like pension funds or insurance companies, using newly created (digital) money. The aim is to inject liquidity into financial markets and keep interest rates low. Govts hope that this will encourage borrowing and jump-start demand in the economy. However, the Bank of England has found that gains from quantitative easing have mainly benefited the wealthy.[4]
Quantitative Easing: How does it work?
The Bank of England electronically creates new money and uses it to purchase gilts from private investors (eg. pension funds and insurance companies). These investors usually do not want to hold on to this money, because it yields a low return. So they tend to use it to purchase other assets, such as corporate bonds and shares. That lowers longer-term borrowing costs and encourages the issuance of new equities and bonds. This should, in turn, stimulate spending. When demand is too weak, QE can help to keep inflation on track to meet the 2% target.
Quantitative easing does not, as is sometimes suggested, involve printing more banknotes. And QE is not about giving money to banks. Rather, the policy was designed to help businesses raise finance without needing to borrow from banks and to lower interest rates for all households and businesses.[8]

R

Rent-seeking:
The practice of an individual, company, or govt attempting to make a profit without making a product, producing wealth, or otherwise contributing to society. For example, a company may seek subsidies from the govt.
Money made from rent-seeking is neither toiling nor spinning. It is income unrelated to actual performance, bribes and corruption, money spent on political campaigns, tolls, and perhaps most detrimentally to the common good, money spent to advance the causes of businesses - to gain advantage in markets through legislation or other controls or regulations that shut competitors down. There are literally millions of types of rent-seeking transactions, engaged in by individuals, companies and govt. In highly-regulated economies, rent-seeking tends to become wide-spread, and businesses choose that way to succeed over normal business practices. The money that would be spent in transactions which would create actual value, and be returned to other members of society and therefore building the economy, is effectively lost. Rent-seeking behavior is most common when the rent seeker is also a monopoly or has sufficient economic or political power to act as one. Market Business News has an good explanation, including a video.
Retail Price Index:
Every month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) measures the change in the cost of a representative sample of retail goods and services from that of 12 months previously. The change is known as the retail price index (RPI).
In 2013, it was decided that the RIP did not meet international statistical standards; since then the ONS emphasises the Consumer Price Index instead.ref,ref Nevertheless, HM Treasury uses RPI for various tax rises. See also Retail price indexWikipedia's W.svg.
Revolving door:
The movement of high-level government officials from public sector jobs to private sector jobs and vice versa. Many MPs, Government Regulators and Civil Service people work for the industries they once regulated, and many private industry people are given government appointments that relate to their former private jobs.
People with experience in an industry are given government jobs in agencies that set policy for that industry; government employees take private-sector jobs in order to use their government connections and knowledge to favorably influence government policy for the industry.
A few half-hearted attempts have been made to close the revolving door, but most of these have simply meant a short waiting period and/or a promise not to use influence. Pros: having specialists within private lobby groups and running public departments ensures a higher quality of information when making regulatory decisions. Cons: the many, many opportunities for conflicts of interest.

S

Securities
Securities are tradable financial instruments that represent either a debt owed (such as bonds or collateralised debt obligations - CDOs) or equity implying a real or potential ownership stake in a firm or asset (such as stocks or stock options, which reserve the right to buy a stock at a certain price on a particular date). The term ‘securitisation’, however, is not typically applied to the creation of traditional stocks and bonds, but rather new types of financial instruments that convert an income stream - such as mortgage repayments or telephone bills - into a security to be bought and sold. [4]
Securitisation
Securitisation is the single most important innovation driving contemporary finance. Securitisation is the transformation of streams of future income into a financial security ready to sell straightaway. An example: rather than wait year after year for royalties on his records, David Bowie sold a financial security - a "Bowie Bond" - that investors could buy. Bowie gets the money straight away, the investor gets the royalties year on year. Securitisation can be applied to anything with a regular flow of income: mortgages, student loans, water services, road tolls, telephone bills, export earnings, wages of a sports star, tax revenues, or even ‘sustainable’ forest management. It means that rather than wait 25 years for a student loan to be repaid, for example, the loan company can sell off the rights to the repayment (at a discount) and get the money back straight away. This is what is happening with the Student Loan Book.
This has two main effects. First, securitisation means finance is forever looking for new sources of future income to transform. The game is to find assets and bundle them up in a way that (allegedly) makes their income predictable and steady. Investors in securities like these, however, are essentially speculating: nobody can be sure Bowie will remain popular, just as nobody could be sure that subprime mortgages would be repaid. Second, securitisation means there is no time to waste in issuing new loans. If a bank lends a company £1m and expects £100,000 back a year, rather than wait 10 years for its loanable funds to be replenished, it can sell a security for £900,000 straight away, and carry on lending. This means there is much more liquidity, allowing greater levels of borrowing in the economy.[4]
Shared ownership scheme
A shared ownership schemes let you buy a share in a property rather than buying all of it - so you only take out a mortgage on what you can afford in relation to your savings and salary.
You are then either given a low-interest loan by the government and housing associations to pay for the share you don't own, or you pay rent on it to a housing association, depending on which shared ownership programme you choose.[9]
Social housing
Social housing is let at low rents on a secure basis to those who are most in need or struggling with their housing costs. Normally councils and not-for-profit organisations (such as housing associations) are the ones to provide social housing. Social housing is distributed according to the local council's allocation scheme. Since the Localism Act 2011, councils can decide who is or isn’t eligible to go on the waiting list for social housing. Out of those who meet the council’s criteria, legislation requires that certain groups be given 'reasonable preference'.[10]
State monopoly capitalism:
A fusing of giant corporations with the government, resulting in a conglomerate where the prime consideration of goverment officials is to provide the social and legal framework within which the businesses can operate most effectively. This is the main Marxist-Leninist thesis.

T

Talked Out:
See Filibuster
Transparency:
Transparency – openness, accountability and honesty – is government's obligation to share information with citizens, and is the foundation of how citizens hold their public officials accountable. Information on how officials conduct the public business and spend taxpayers' money must be easily available and understood. Governments exist to serve the people, and should have no remit for secrecy.
Trickle Down Economics:
A theory where cutting taxes for Big Business and The Rich will “trickle down” and benefit the lower classes and small businesses. By the reduction of regulation and allowing more economic freedom, Big Business will then go on to use the extra revenue caused by the tax cuts to generate more jobs for the working class. In theory, excellent.
In practice, flawed on a fundamental level – the firm must be willing to invest in direct job-creating growth and expansion. However, this is not usually the most profitable course of action; for example, they may choose to source labour from the Far East, thus keeping their costs low, retaining their extra revenue, and allowing them to reinvest in safer, foreign markets, eschewing the unstable and risky domestic ones.[11]

U

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W

Whip
The Chief Whip of the governing party in the House of Commons is appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Treasury Secretary) so that s/he, who represents the whips in general, has a seat and a voice in the Cabinet. By virtue of holding the office of Treasury Secretary, the government Chief Whip has an official residence at 12 Downing Street, although the chief whip's office is currently located at 9 Downing Street. Whips report to the Prime Minister on any possible backbench revolts and the general opinion of MPs within the party, and upon the exercise of the patronage, which is used to motivate and reward loyalty.
There are three categories of whip that are issued on particular business. An expressed instruction on how to vote could constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege, so the party's wishes are expressed unequivocally but indirectly. These whips are issued to MPs in the form of a letter outlining the parliamentary schedule, with a sentence such as "Your attendance is absolutely essential" next to each debate in which there will be a vote, underlined one, two or three times according to the severity of the whip:
  • A single-line whip is a guide to what the party's policy would indicate, and notification of when the vote is expected to take place; this is non-binding for attendance or voting.
  • A two-line whip, also called a double-line whip, is an instruction to attend and vote; partially binding for voting, attendance required unless prior permission given by the whip.
  • A three-line whip is a strict instruction to attend and vote, breach of which would normally have serious consequences. Permission not to attend may be given by the whip, but a serious reason is needed. Breach of a three-line whip can lead to expulsion from the parliamentary political group in extreme circumstances and may lead to expulsion from the party. Consequently, three-line whips are generally only issued on key issues, such as votes of confidence and supply. The nature of three-line whips and the potential punishments for revolt vary dramatically among parties and legislatures. Disobeying a three-line whip is a news-worthy event, as it indicates a potential mutiny; an example was the decision on Jul.10.2012 by 91 Conservative MPs to vote against Prime Minister David Cameron on the issue of reform of the House of Lords.[12]
White Paper
In British government, it is usually the less extensive version of the so-called Blue Book, both terms being derived from the colour of the document's cover. White papers are a "... tool of participatory democracy ... not [an] unalterable policy commitment." "White papers have tried to perform the dual role of presenting firm government policies while at the same time inviting opinions upon them." White papers are a way the government can present policy preferences before it introduces legislation. Publishing a white paper tests public opinion on controversial policy issues and helps the government gauge its probable impact.
Word Salad:
Meaningless rhetoric in response to a question which the person wants to avoid answering. For example, the following response flatly ignores the question asked:
Q: Don't both the structure and administration of Universal Credit seriously exacerbate destitution?
A: Work is the best route out of poverty and our welfare reforms incentivise employment while having the right support in place for those that need it.

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Z

Zionist
A national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to the region of Palestine).
Advocates of Zionism view it as a national liberation movement for the repatriation of a persecuted people residing as minorities in a variety of nations to their ancestral homeland.
Critics view it as a colonialist, racist and exceptionalist ideology that led to violence during Mandatory Palestine, followed by the exodus of Palestinians, and the subsequent denial of their right to return to property lost during the 1948 war. See also ZionismWikipedia's W.svg on Wikipedia.

References

  1. ^ Modern Capitalism and Other Essays, Monthly Review Press, Paul M. Sweezy, p.8, 1972.
  2. ^ Self-employment and the gig economy. Thirteenth Report of Session 2016–17 Parliament.uk, Work and Pensions Committee Report, Apr.26.2017
  3. ^ What is the gig economy and why is it so controversial? Why is it called the gig economy and what does the gig economy mean for you? Wired, Nicole Kobie, Feb.07.2018
  4. ^ a b c d Financialisation: A Primer. Transnational Institute. Jan.06.2016
  5. ^ Methane clathrate. The last desperate hope of the fossil fuels industry. See also Methane_clathrate.pdf. FRAW, Paul Mobbs. Aug.04.2017
  6. ^ Theorising neoliberalism, International Socialism, Chris Harman, Dec.18.2007
  7. ^ Slaughter Factfile RSPCA. Accessed Mar.16.2018.
  8. ^ Bank of England FAQ
  9. ^ Q&A: Shared ownership schemes. The Guardian, Huma Queshi. Apr.06.2008 Accessed Mar.24.2018.
  10. ^ What is social housing? Shelter (England). Accessed Mar.24.2018.
  11. ^ Trickle Down Economics, James O. Gibson, Oct.31.2012
  12. ^ Whip, Wikipedia entry.