Friday, 31 August 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum

Is abject twaddle.

This has been reviewed before on this site. Travelgal did not like it because Bourne is not as good as Bond, and feels bad about killing people. I would add that Bourne is weak. I cannot imagine Bond being bullied into executing someone in cold blood. But paling in comparison to the other fantasy secret agent hero is not the only reason this movie sucks.

It's the fantasy of the all-knowing, all seeing CIA. The grand conspiracy that goes "right to the top". The paranoid delusion parodied by "Grassy Knollington" in Viz is that the CIA and other illuminati can see and hear everything anyone does and always stand ready to execute anyone who stumbles on the truth. The truth is more mundane. Intelligence agencies are manned by civil servants, with all the lazy, time-serving incompetence for which that is a byword.

The idea that some CIA outstation in London is eavesdropping on all communications just in case certain buzz words are heard is absurd. If that were not incredible enough There are then dozens of analysts on hand to shout "code 42" or some such rubbish and zoom CCTV (British CCTV, apparently without metroplod's consent or knowledge) and covert surveillance immediately onto the source. They then vector a locally recruited, ultra-hard, immediately ready assassin "asset", one of several apparently in capitals world-wide, onto the scene in minutes.

The "Asset" found parking for a BMW right outside Waterloo station, and it wasn't clamped when he got back, nor had its radio been nicked. That is the moment I lost my suspension of disbelief.

I did enjoy watching the northern Guardianista monkey get slotted, though I was hoping he would have received a bit more torture before he met his maker. Highlights of lefties dying aside, the plot winds its way, via tedious flashbacks as Bourne recovers his memory of what a total cunt he is, to the inevitable rooftop showdown. Sure the chases are fun, the explosions and fights are well choreographed, but the movie lacks anything like credibility, the plot relying as it does on Government computer equipment working first time, and analysts immediately deciphering coded messages correctly. The local plods in New York and London ignore the chaos and violence in their midsts. Whilst I could believe this of UK plod in Waterloo, some of this involved speeding, which is the one "crime" they prosecute with any alacrity.

Despite all the traffic offences, technology and sharp-suited spooks working their magic, Bourne, wanted by interpol and the subject of a 3 part newspaper story (I know, in the Guardian, which no-one reads) is able to travel freely around Europe, Russia and North Africa, with no-one batting an eyelid. Because I just don't buy the conspiracy theory of an ultra competent, malign CIA, I couldn't cope with this movie's absurdities. And I thought Bourne to be a drip.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

That lurch to the right, and Oh some BBC Bias too...

Read this over at Iain's blog.

To cut a long story short, David Cameron was interviewed on Newsnight yesterday by 4 Labour sympathisers BBC Journalists. During a 45 minute interview, he covered a range of topics, including immigration. Read Dizzy on the subject, but in brief he mentioned that the Conservatives would limit the number of immigrants from outside the EU and try to bring in the best qualified amongst applicants using a points system. This is unremarkable.

The BBC line on the Today programme this morning was that David Cameron was a panicked "lurch to the right" following poll reversals and such talk represented an "appeal to the core vote". This is pure labour spin; the exact line of attack being used by the Labour party, now that policies are being announced left right and centre, the "all spin an no substance" line no longer works. Basically Labour are saying that the Tories are unchanged and "right-wing" policies like tax-cuts and mentioning immigration and Europe indicate that should the Tories get in, they'll immediately kill your first-born.

Iain was asked whether David Cameron's comments on Immigration are part of such a Lurch to the right, and when he said "no", they found a Tory commentator who would follow the Labour BBC editorial line and spout it on the Today programme.

I really wish that the BBC would try... Just try to be impartial. You know: analyse Labour spin and come up with your own narrative rather than sucking the number ten press officer's cock quite so brazenly.

Cameron on Newsnight

I was going to deal with the Impressive performance of Cameron on Newsnight, but DK has already dealt with it.

In other news, a friend used the phrase "breather-ring"* in a conversation, so I thought I'd share that with you instead.

*An example can be found here

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Of Bulls and Bears

The longer term chart of the stock-market you pull out, the greater the likelihood that it runs from bottom left to top right. That is to say "the long-term trend is positive". Take for example Black Monday in 1987, when stocks fell 30% in 2 weeks, now appears as a barely noticeable spike in an uptrend which lasted from the big-bang in 1982 to 2000. 9/11 appears as a big down spike which had absolutely no medium-term effect on the 3-year downtrend which was already in place.

In short, big daily moves mean little in the grand scheme of things. And bears, those who predict that the market will go down are usually wrong. Eventually (1929 and 1999 being the exceptions). This doesn't stop them making a lot more noise than bulls. And they are so tiresomely insufferable when they're right for a while.

At the moment your average bear is predicting financial Armageddon. His analysis:

"There's something going on in the credit markets that I don't really understand, there's too much debt about and The bull market is 4 years old. Ergo: there will be a recession and a bear market"
Pretty thin, I think you'll agree. Now if the fed cuts rates it will be "Panic" if they don't it will be "inaction" or something. But the bulls can counter:
"What about lowish inflation, GDP growth in all major economies rapidly industrialising emerging giants with 2 billion people... not to mention lowish company valuations and solid corporate profits and healthy dividends? Aren't they all pretty good at the moment?"
Yes they are! especially after a nice healthy bull-market correction, which has purged the credit markets of absurdly cheap debt used to finance risky private equity deals.
"what, you mean like the last month?"
Why yes! But since when has a historically unexceptional PE, low inflation and solid if unspectacular corporate profits, widespread director buying and reasonable dividend yields (about 3% on the FTSE) ever stopped a bear from saying his thing? Over and Over and Over again....

Never! But finance seems to attract people who in a more credulous age would spend their days proclaiming the end of the world with a sandwich board.

Most stale bulls do their selling quietly. They then take advantage of the bears and pick panic sold stock up cheap, when the crash comes. I've become quite good at catching the falling knife. In the end, the market is always a "buy the dips bull market" the only thing you have to work out is how deep are the dips. My advice: If the BBC (the modern equivalent of the shoeshine boy) are predicting chaos following big falls, buy. If anyone mentions goldilocks, sell. Buy at the point of maximum pain, sell when it has never looked so good. On that basis, you're better off buying than selling right now.

You see it is traditional to sell at the top, not at the bottom. You make more money that way than selling low and buying high. What do you think most people do, however? It's not the wisdom of crowds, its herd mentality. Traders call it "sentiment", politicians call it "The mood on the street" and it's almost always wrong.

This article doesn't constitute investment advice, circumstances might change etc etc ... investments might fall yada yada yada

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Guns don't kill people, People kill people.

Even though few legally held firearms were ever used in crime (for the good reason that they are easily traceable) and Thomas Hamilton should have been denied a licence if the guidelines had been properly enforced, the Dunblane Massacre led to the banning of all legally held handguns above .22 callibre (with exceptions for historic pieces). No murder has ever been committed in the UK by a .22 hand-gun. Nevertheless, the Labour party vindictively (effectively) banned them too, and everything else, as soon as it came into power. Headlines, it seems are more important than good laws.

Here are the stats for UK gun crime before and since then:

The only firearm statistic to have gone down recently is (the only class still legally available,) shotgun crime. "Other" includes Semi-automatic rifles and machine guns. Legislation following the 1987 Hungerford massacre doesn't seem to have worked either.

At the moment, the SNP are making hay with their promise to ban air-guns following the only recorded death as a result of one of these weapons. Yes, that's right. Less lethal than say... Trousers. Still, banning stuff is easy if you're a politco. It won't do any good. Gun ownership is not very well correlated to gun crime or murder rate: both Canada and Switzerland are more heavily armed than Texas. Canucks don't kill each other much more often than Brits, and Cuckoo clock miserableists considerably less often. It's something other than "guns on the streets" at work here. What varies is the willingness to pull the trigger whilst pointed at a fellow human being, not the availability of fire-arms. Gun laws, like drug laws do not work by themselves. The economic interests are too great for mere legislation to have an effect on supply. In the UK, Getting a gun is as easy as getting a line of coke, which are both easier than finding a decent plumber. Banning legally held firearms therefore doesn't cut their use in crime because criminals do not obey the law, it is, well... you know... kinda in the job description.

Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

You gotta laugh

Even the policy that Zanu-Labour's supporters point to as this "Government's" towering success, Sure Start, is a total waste of money*, with no measurable effect.

*£3,000,000,000, if you're counting....

The Boiler Room

One of the sadder aspects of my job is dealing with people who have lost considerable sums (sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds) often representing their life savings following boiler room scams. In case you aren't aware of this scam, a plausible sounding young man cold-calls you saying he got your name from a marketing list, such as a share register or professional body, and suggests that you invest in a company with stellar prospects. He will demand you make a decision immediately "as they are Floating/About to take off/about to be taken over". It sounds good, so you think "all investing's a bit of a gamble, what the hell"

You then receive a share certificate. If you're lucky it has the name of a registrar in (usually) Nevada and the legend "Rule 144K restricted Stock". This can be sold after one year (if you're lucky) and but more likely after two years, probably at a fraction of what you paid for them - the broker will have taken a massive spread and probably dealt as principle. The buyer will not usually be able to check the price and will therefore be taken for a ride. If you're unlucky, there will be no such legend. The shares are worthless, the "broker" you dealt with will disappear, pocketing your money and you have no comeback.

Rule 144k, intended to protect investors in the US in fact makes it very difficult for small and medium companies to access the US capital markets, and this hurts the US economy - who wants to invest in shares you might not be able to sell for 2 years? How are these companies to grow? US investors are over zealously protected by the SEC, which is why companies use the services of brokers outside the USA, often nominally based in Switzerland, to raise money. These firms will target punters outside their home jurisdiction - the UK and Europe in order to bypass all laws relating to financial advice.

In the case of rule 144k stock you've invested in companies that actually exist, some even have businesses which turn a profit. But the restriction means you cannot sell the shares. This gives the unscrupulous boiler rooms more ways to prise money out of people. They'll tell you that they've found a buyer, but he will only deal in a minimum size, and you must buy more to qualify generating more commission and spread. They will say that there's a take-over, and the purchasing company will pay over the odds for stock, but only if you put up a bond or buy more stock. Neither of these excuses will fool a financial professional, but people are scared into going for it by hard sell. They are embarrassed at being taken and they are clutching at straws. Their life savings are at stake.

In short, if the company you're talking to ain't registered with the FSA (check here), don't do business with them. Ever. It's a scam.

Much as I'm a libertarian loon, I'm not an anarchist. Financial services rely on trust and that requires regulation. The FSA is excellent, policing with a light touch, would that all law were so, allowing risk to those that want it but giving protection against malpractice by regulated firms to less experienced clients. Companies have sometimes abused this, but they've abused the ludicrously complex and onerous US GAAP in the past too.

This is why the city is booming, and why we're crushing the over-regulated US capital markets for new issues. Rule 144k is a case in point of what happens when markets over-regulate. Contrast rule 144k with the success of AIM. Sure there's an awful lot of shit on AIM and some total disasters. But there's some great little companies too. It's all about a healthy attitude to risk. Some want it, some don't. The role of the financial professional is to give people the right amount of risk. The Americans have tried to make hard rules which clever people bypass. The UK and the IFRS is principle based, which is much more satisfactory.

There's no need to do business outside the regulatory framework in the UK, and that is because the rules are sensible and policed with tact. This is under threat from MiFID. The EU doesn't like the city, makes the UK too independent, you see. It also acts as a home for "Locusts", as the Germans call hedge-funds and Private equity houses. That however, is a subject for another post.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

The Police, Makin' it up as they go along.

Watch this simian thug and the slack-jawed chavette of a sidekick with her hands in her pockets, and tell me the police are the servants of the people.

Copper: "It's an offence to film the police"
DP: "No it isn't... Under what section?"
Copper: "It's an offence"
DP: "Under what section, mate?"

The Copper gets egg on his face when he is told by a grown-up that it isn't in fact an offence to film the police from one's own garden. Watch them attempt to intimidate the film-maker. Watch them try to provoke him into unwise words. Watch then refuse to give their names to a member of the public.

Give me anarchy any day over a police state, where this pair of petty morons would have won this encounter. I really want to know if, and how much the officer in this film was disciplined for attempting to intimidate a member of the public, abusing his powers and invading a man's private proprty without permission or warrant, making up the law and refusing to give his number when asked.

Not at all, I'll wager.

I'm sure there are some good police. I know some pigs socially, but I've never been impressed with any I've come accross in uniform. Tell me. Have you ever come accross a policeman doing his job (personally, rather than abstract, daily mail fantasy land) and been impressed? Satisfied? or are you dissapointed or angered?

Have you, or anyone you know ever had a burglary cleared up, had a person who mugged you charged and convicted? On the other hand, have you been caught speeding?

We may have the best police force in the world, but it doesn't stop them being worse than useless. Other country's police are just worse. Face it. Unless the filth are brought under the direct control of the people they serve, then incidents like this will proliferate, but next time, Darren Pollard will be arrested. For filming from his own garden.

Hat tip to the Tampon teabag

That Non-Deportation

As a young man, He killed a head teacher. By accident, he was an Italian citizen at the time. He speaks no Italian, has no friends or family in Italy, except an equally revolting father with whom he has had almost no contact, who currently is in an Italian gaol for throwing acid in a woman's face. Learco Chindamo is a product of Britain and of our "education" system, having lived here since he was four. Our shitty society made him, and we now have to help him back into that society, if and when he is released. Deportation is excessive.

You might claim that it is EU rules preventing deportation, or the Human rights legislation (in fact, both prevent deportation), but in this case, I think the courts have it right, wherever the rules come from. The home office is being vindictive in order to score decent headlines in the daily Hate. They are crushing one man for political reasons after he has served his time for a murder for which, if his lawyer is to be believed, he has genuine remorse.

You might claim that 12 years for a murder is too little. You may be right, but that is not what is being debated here, nor is the EU or the human rights act. All but the most evil Murderers get released eventually and their recidivism rate is low. This murderer need not be any different because of an admirable victim with an articulate widow, just because he is dusky and "foreign". If the parole board decide he poses no further threat to society, then there is no reason to deport him, and the libertarian right should know better than to foam at the mouth at his non-deportation becauase as a 15 year-old, he failed to get his paperwork in order.

Politicians should avoid commenting on individual cases - the whole point of separation of powers is to prevent politically motivated persecution, which is what Learco Chindamo is enduring at the moment.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Rich and Poor? Not any more

Hat tip to Samizdata

Only in Britain

Would a man who reached #4 in the world in 2002, and spend over a decade in the top 30, reaching the semi-finals of Grand-Slams on no fewer than 7 occasions, including Wimbledon in four out of five years between 98 and 2002; one who in 9 years, 96-2004 failed to reach the quarter finals of Wimbledon only once; only in Britain would he be described as a "loser". Sure, the press were routinely apologetic, but I've heard some invective in the pub that makes that levelled at Christian Ronaldo* look like a vicar's tea party small-talk.

Though "tiger" Tim really is a bit much, I still salute Britain's most successful tennis player for decades, and wish him well for his retirement following his upcoming Davis cup defeat tie against Croatia.

Let's hope Andy Murray does even better.

*certainly the world's most punchable "man"

Friday, 17 August 2007

The Computer says "no"

Read this post by Raedwald.

It explains why everthing in Britain, from aiports to banks are just a bit, well shit, really. It also explains why most people's jobs are so miserable and dull. I've been goping for reasons why life is rubbish. This is why The Computer says "no".

Market Shorthand

Black Monday - 1987
ERM Crash - 1992
Russian Debt Default/LCTM - 1998
Dot.Com boom - 1999/2000

Today: Fed Friday? Bernanke Bounce?

Other suggestions in the comments please...

Venezuela: Swirling Down the Pan Ever Faster

Hugo Chavez yesterday announced plans (subject to a referendum, for what it's worth) to remove the bar on Presidents serving 2 terms, and increasing the term to 7 years from 6.

Whilst I hold no candle for two term limits - why can't an electorate chose to keep a guy there if he's done a good job? - This is part of Chavez's centralising agenda. Given that he's already passed an enabling law this year, do you really think that he has much time for democracy?

His rhetoric suggests clearly that he doesn't. His closest political ally is Castro's cuba, rapidly becoming a family fiefdom. He talks of "progressing towards socialism in the 21st century" and of having "broken the chains of exploitative capitalism". In yesterday's speech he boasted of the "death of capitalism in venezuela" This isn't the rhetoric of a socialist, it's the rhetoric of communism. The rhetoric is being backed up by policy. As part of his "transfer of power" he is redrawing the provincial structure of Venezuela into federal districts headed by a communal council allied to (ffs) worker's cooperatives.

A six hour working day ain't exactly going to propel Venezuela up the international competitiveness tables, especially as the government has already nationalised industries, and expropriated private property. All these populist boodongles are paid for by a central bank unable to prevent the Government turning on the printing presses as required, and by petrodollars. What happens when they run out?

If you're venezuelan, sell everything now, and get out if you can.

Bourne Vs Bond

"The Bond character will always be anchored in the 1960s and in the values of the 1960s. Bond is an imperialist and a misogynist who kills people and laughs about it, and drinks Martinis and cracks jokes,"
Matt Damon told reporters. He added that Bourne
"doesn't have the support of gadgets, and he feels guilty for what he's done".
Robert Ludlum's character is the pinnacle of left wing paranoia (which is why Matt Damon, Matt Damon, Matt Damon - see Team America) is willing to play him. The Left laps up Bourne, a troubled soul who was right wing but now sees the light - in the latest film he's trying to contact a Guardian reporter to tell them of the CIA's evil deeds - The Guardian, says it all really!

With the CIA keeping people down, and brainwashing the young and foolish (Patriotic is considered idiotic by the left wing unless you're a Palestinian Suicide Bomber on an Israeli school bus in which case patriotism is super duper) to kill people who just had a difficult life and need kindness & understanding to cure them of their errant ways. This is unless they're in the CIA in which case they are the spawn of Satan.

Bond kills for his country, enjoys it and has a good laugh and has much better taste in clothing than you - you ghastly oik. The good laugh bit of course being something else the Left dislikes as much as cigar smoke, unless its jokes about George Bush. I challenge you to find a less humourous nob block than some "Earnest" socialist discussing the world's problems. Bond doesn't have gadgets, he has the Aston Martin DB9 which is pornography on wheels.

This film is sponsored by the UN, the Berkley Lesbians in solidarity with the Venezuelan peoples' collective, ANSWER, NAMBLA and those hippies that are sitting outside Heathrow disrupting decent people's holidays in the Virgin Islands. In short Jason Bourne is a pussy with "Ginger Beer" tendencies; instead of drinking Vodka Martinis he probably drinks Babycham or an Appletini. If you watch this film, you are a Communist or member of Amnesty Insufferable. Of course being a member of Amnesty Insufferable is worse than being a Communist because at least Communists invented the T-94 and AGS-17 Grenade Launcher. I'm sorry Damon, but "Nobody does it better, makes me feel sad for the rest"...

This film review was brought to you by guest commentator Christopher Gallagher

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

The Sage of Renfrewshire speaks once more.

This gem is from the fat socialist oxygen-thief's comments

People moved between West and East Berlin before, during and after the period 1961 to 1989 - people do not move anywhere that I know of without restrictions and security, the Berlin Wall was a very obvious example of that.

It was built to protect the interests of the Soviets who were entitled to their share of said influence.

Do you think that they should have said 'now that we have made this sacrifice and saved the world from Facism we will just toddle off home and you guys can dominate the world at your leisure' ?
It's clear which political system he prefers and it ain't the one with freedom of speech and of association at its core. You know, the one not mass-murdering its population as they try desperately to leave. Another Commenter quoted JFK:
Whatever the faults of our society, We never had to build a wall to keep our people in
Enough said, really.

Investing Maxims

"The Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent"

John Maynard Keynes

Paragon group of companies (PAG) currently around 404p yields 6% despite it's 3 times covered dividend being expected to grow by 20% or so a year for the several years.

The Mortgage backed securites it issues were recently upgraded to AAA by S&P, reflecting the exceptional quality of its loanbook with the lowest default rate in the market. Does the fact the fucking thing has dropped more than 30% in 3 months piss me off?

You bet! Not investment advice or anything, just saying is all by way of explaining the terse nature of my posts recently - the markets are bonkers and I've been busy.


Socialist Medicine

No-one else in the world has copied our top-down, process driven, impersonal health system. Why? because it dehumanises patients and lobotomises professionals, who are in thrall to tractor production targets from Whitehall instead of the well-being of the patients. If you think the NHS is anything other than an abortion of a system, you're an idiot, or a socialist. Which is the same thing, really.

Monday, 13 August 2007

I didn't realise the season has started

Can't hunt foxes, might as well hunt the underclass. Tally-Ho.

I'm Back

But the international stockmarkets were clearly unable to cope with my enjoying myself in Spain*. I would like to reassure all investors that I am back at my desk. You can stop panicking now. Calm down.

*As I write this, the FTSE 100 is up over 150 points or 2.5%, having plunged a similar amount during my holiday, as short-term credit markets got the screaming ab-dabs.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Courage, My Friends

The right is suffering from collective ennui, if hissy-fits from Devil and Tom Paine are anything to go by. I too have felt like stamping my feet and shouting

"It's not Faaaiaiiiiar"
Sure. The British people are saying they'll vote for the one-eyed thief. The innate sense of fair play means they'll give him a chance. Sure they're giving the Tories a bit of a kicking of late, despite agreeing with most policies for the last decade. Sure they hate the EU, but still refuse to vote for UKIP. They're a capricious bunch of bastards, the electorate. But they usually get it right in the end.

What can we do in the face of Labour's destructive spite?

The answer is simply get your head down and plough on. Keep blogging. Keep repeating the message that low tax is best, that perhaps our surveillance society has gone a bit far, that the EU is a fucking disaster for this country, that the Environmental doom mongers are overstating their case a bit. Keep suggesting policies like flat tax and school vouchers which will one day become mainstream. It may seem like we're shouting in the wilderness, but we're not.

Having exhausted all alternatives - the British public will be forced to try some libertarian solutions, because they work. School vouchers are in the post. The NHS is on its last legs. Even civil liberties are starting to resonate with more and more of the public. People are noticing that they are no longer free. We need to keep making the case. After all, anything can be undone. There is one part of the unwritten constitution that will never change:
One Government cannot bind the hands of its successor.
Back to your posts, Gentlemen. The enemy is to your left.

Chris Dillow talks Bollocks.

Over at Stumbling and Mumbling, the normally sound Chris Dillow is suggesting that the Tax credit system is a not a disaster

[The Labour Government has failed to] make the case for the high marginal tax rates faced by those on low wages. In truth, there's a good case for these.
There is never a good case for high marginal tax rates. Ever.
Start from the perspective that there's a case for boosting the incomes of the low-paid.
I don't suggest otherwise
Doing so combines egalitarianism with efficiency. It's egalitarian, because it compensates people for the bad luck of having low skill. And it's efficient because it gives people an incentive to work rather than stay on the dole.
I agree, so far... Except high marginal tax rates are a disincentive to self-improvement, and other bits of the benefit system positively discourage work.
When New Labour came to power, almost one-in-five children were growing up in households where no-one worked. This meant a generation were growing up to think it normal to be out of work. And social norms formed ealy in life can affect lifetime work incentives. Thanks partly to tax credits, the number of such children has fallen.
A fall in unemployment generally, thanks to a booming global economy might just conceivably have something to do with this fall too perhaps. Tax credits may not have helped as much as you suggest.
Now, given that in-work benefits are a good idea, the question is: how fast to withdraw them? Before 1997, Family Credit was withdrawn quickly, with the result that over a million workers faced marginal deduction rates of over 70% (table 3.4 of this pdf). Tax credits are now withdrawn more slowly over a longer range of income.
Unless you don't have children...
This means fewer face deduction rates over 70%, but more people face deduction rates of 50-70%, though some still face massive rates; the IFS have got the numbers (pdf).
So some people still enjoy almost no benefits from increased wages - any single people working 36 hours a week on the minimum wage for example...
This has two things to be said for it. First, it's the counterpart of giving help to the median voter. This has the practical advantage of entrenching support for redistributive policies.
Or as it's otherwise known - bribing the electorate.
Second, the disincentive effect of higher deduction rates is tiny.
This is because many of the low-paid just don't have the skills to earn more anyway. This paper by Mark Stewart shows that "low wage jobs typically do not lead onto better things." They are a stepping stone - but towards unemployment rather than a good job.
High marginal tax rates are a disincentive to even try to get a better job - if unemployment offers no big change in income, then there's no stick to complement the non-existent (because of obscene marginal rates) carrot of higher wages. This therefore fails to even incentivise staying in a job already held. The tax credit system, because of its skewed incentives is part of the poverty trap. Working conditions on the dole are rather more relaxed, you see.
And this provides another argument for in-work support. They provide a way of insuring people against unemployment without jeopardizing incentives to stay on [off, surely?] the dole, because people can use their temporary in-work incomes to self-insure (ie save) against future unemployment.
The low waged can't and don't save, because savings affect your entitlement to some benefits. In any case they don't have enough spare to make any meaningful "insurance". I don't know if you've ever been on a really low wage Chris. I have. I didn't save.
So, there's much to be said for the principle of tax credits, if not the administration.
The administration is the problem. It's like saying "Communism's great in principle". Demanding money with menaces from very poor people once they have spent it is Evil.

Why has Labour been so bad at defending it, Chris? Because its a bad policy, badly implemented with obvious consequences. Indefensible. You should know better.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Barak's Blown it.

It just beggars belief that a credible contender for the job of the leader of the free world can have a foreign policy that makes GW Bush's look subtle and intelligent and Hillary Clinton's look consistent.

Unless the Republicans do something psephologically miraculous, that means Hillary gets the white house.


Double standards

Over at the Tampon Teabag - who's become rather more earnest and less sweary of late - points out the hypocricy of the Spanish anti defamation law - you're not allowed to insult the Royal Family on pain of a 2-year gaol sentence - whilst enthusiastically endorsing the publication of the Mohammed Cartoons.

Bloggers are noticeable by their non hysteria.

Well I for one deplore any blocks on the freedom of speech. But then Spanish are not known for their consistency. It's also worth pointing out that they're a bit new to this democracy game. The Dagos lived in a facist dictatorship in my lifetime. So you can forgive them being a bit, well, excitable in defence of their institutions.

Prague Spring

Yet again the British are in the news for pissing in the streets, loud and anti-social behaviour and generally being retards in foreign climes. There is an acceptable forum for this behaviour overseas - it's called the Parachute Regiment. I'm affected in as much as I love going to these places, love the people of Eastern Europe (having lived under it they all hate Communism). I get tarred with the same brush...Why do all British people have to be associated with ghastly chavs? Why aren't we banning these people from travelling in the same way we ban football hooligans? People who own a replica football shirt, hooded top or Argos jewellery shouldn't be allowed to own a passport.

We need some sort of test: if you can name and give the basic plotline of 8 classic books; explain the crossing rule in Polo and give a five minute talk on the history of the country you are visiting, then you get to go. If not you and your Kappa tracksuit stays at home.

Guest Contributor, TravelGal on some sensible policies for a happy Britain.

The Tyranny of 'Elf n' Safety

Never, ever, ever work with children. Ever.

If anything happens on your watch, you will be blamed. Especially if you're a man. In which case you're probably a paedophile too.

Don't let them run free. Never let a child explore its environment. Keep them on a leash at all times (unless you're a man, in which case that would be you indulging your sick bondage fantasies). It is unacceptable to introduce children to anything involving a modicum of risk. Canoeing is out. Rugby is unacceptably violent. The little darlings might get hurt. They might even lose the game, and that too is unacceptable. Camping is unacceptable. There's fire. And paedophiles behind every bush. Any danger, injury, discomfort or distress is to be eliminated from their little lives.

No wonder we're a selfish, violent, drunken society. Children are not allowed to explore boundaries whilst young - and it is the fear of litigation driving this mollycoddling, which amounts to child abuse. This is a greater assault upon freedom than any law the Labour party could ever enact. It's fear of laws that cannot be obeyed that keeps people in line, you see. Hitler and Stalin worked that out.

I love big brother.

H/T to Samizdata.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Camp for Climate Action

I have been listening aghast to PM on Radio 4 and the interview with a man of interstellar smugness who goes by the name of Craig Logan from a bunch of ludicrous crusties called "the camp for climate action" who have just been the subject of an injunction preventing their disrupting Heathrow airport.

"It's madness"
he sniggered
"BAA should be in the dock, they're the climate criminals... millions of deaths... catastrophic climate change..."
The rest of his tirade collapsed under the weight of it's own bullshit. Apparently disrupting peoples' holidays is OK because people who fly are from "Social groups ABC1" and "the people" are on his side. What a cunt!

Mr Logan. Here is a message from the editorial team* here at A Very British Dude.
Wherever you are, you are not in enough pain. I hope you die soon.
Though, no doubt you are a litigious little turd. I hasten to add that I do not intend to risk my enjoyment of life by speeding up that process by anything other than wishful thinking, nor would I urge anyone else to do so.

*Consisting of me and... Um... That's it really.

Operation Banner

I was going to post about the end of Operation Banner. (A British Army's thankless job well done) As I know little about the troubles and all I do find out, I realise how deeply different interpretations of the same facts are held and it just bewilders me, I thought I would leave the ignorance to someone who does it so much better.


An admin point that will be of interest to other blogspot bloggers:

I have turned off the anti spam thingy now for a couple of months, and I have received no comment spam. Perhaps you chaps could consider conducting a similar experiment - you know make it easier for our readers to tell us we are either the Messiah or a bloody idiot.

Just thought you might like to know

Is all.

There was an error in this gadget