It looks like Kate Hoey will avoid getting the Labour Whip withdrawn when she said she would give Boris non-partisan advice on Sport. If not liking Ken Livingstone is a crime she wouldn’t be the only one who would get the whip withdrawn. Despite the recent public love in between Ken and Gordon they both hate each other.
I can’t wait to vote tomorrow to see the back of one; and to send the message that the other one will be gone shortly as well.
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
It looks like Kate Hoey will avoid getting the Labour Whip withdrawn when she said she would give Boris non-partisan advice on Sport. If not liking Ken Livingstone is a crime she wouldn’t be the only one who would get the whip withdrawn. Despite the recent public love in between Ken and Gordon they both hate each other.
Still there is a reason for being a one man Photo op for the world’s terrorists and dictators. As Jimmy says "In a democracy, I realize you don't need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels," "When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people." There’s a stroke of luck, perhaps we should all become dictatorships so you only speak to one man and can get a round of fucking golf in during your egotistical trips round the world in the name of “Peace”.
Now I can’t stand Obama, I think the guys both a phoney and incredibly annoying. I.e. The usual left wing elitist the Democratic activists perpetually select a la “I’m reporting for duty” Kerry to be their Presidential candidate. I also know when he spoke about in his Closed Door fundraiser about “Guns and god because they’re bitter” he meant it. He’ll take “What’s the matter with Kansas” to bed every night. Carter is an ideal fit for Obama; Jimmy once said he "was ashamed to be an American.” - should get on well with Obama’s wife then. However I also think Democracy needs a contest off ideas and wouldn’t wish a Carter endorsement on my worse enemy.
* P J O’rourke
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Monday, 28 April 2008
SFAP = √N x ΣDD/P - C
Where SFAP = Sweet Fuck all new pension.
N = Previous nothing to live on.
DD = Charlize Theron films where she "Uglies up" to be taken seriously as an actress. Stick to the face cream ads love, not the political commentary.
P = Worthless "Convertible Peso" banknotes printed. Tragic waste of bog roll if you ask me; the printing of Fidel's face that they add to the paper cause severe rashes when applied to your Chocolate Starfish.
C = Dinner party Cunts who say the Potemkin Resort they stayed in reflected the real Cuba.
As you can see kids, I have hereby proved that the Cuban pension system increase is inherently worthless, a rise of something worthless is still fucking nothing. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Michael Moore. Of course you think their health system is great, the Locals can't use the ones that you took the film crew to.
SFA x Y²/BSSC -R/W³ = PB ≈ U
SFA = Cuban pension
BSSC = Vapid bullshit from Oliver Stone & Naomi Campbell on Cuba’s political system.
R = Number of Rubber Inner Tubes left on Cuba as Buoyancy aids to swim to Miami.
Y = Number of Copies of George Galloway’s cocksucking extravaganza on Fidel sold.
W = % of Wankers with Che Guevara shirts whose families Mean income is over £60K / $100K
PB = Poor Bastards having to risk a 90 mile swim because they're boiling lychen off rocks for soup.
U = Chances of being offered a Mojito on Ocean Drive instead of a proper drink.
For those of you that have managed to avoid the abomination known as the Mojito; it is a drink with more Topiary in it that Viscount Slim encountered on his drive to recapture Burma. They are for Tracy (Spelt with an "i") from Essex. Mojitos are not cool. Even the coolest director working in film (Michael Mann) managed to make the coolest Actor in the world (Colin Farrell - cool because I'm positive he'd tell Tom Cruise where exactly he could stick his space aliens) look like a tit when he ordered one in Miami Vice. God I hate that drink, hate it, hate it hate it! And its all the fault of Fidel Q.E.D. An astounding cause and effect between Cubas pension system and the chance of being stuck with a drink that makes you look like a tit on South Beach, with enough sugar to keep Nestle in business for good.
A state? What is that? Well! open now your ears unto me, for now will I say unto you my word concerning the death of peoples.Since the rest of the posts will not be on the intellectual side I'd though I'd start with something highbrow.
A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: "I, the state, am the people."
It is a lie! Creators were they who created peoples, and hung a faith and a love over them: thus they served life.
Destroyers, are they who lay snares for many, and call it the state: they hang a sword and a hundred cravings over them.
Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs.
This sign I give unto you: every people speaketh its language of good and evil: this its neighbour understandeth not. Its language hath it devised for itself in laws and customs.
But the state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
When the Tories lost the plot, their one big mistake - Sterling's membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, in preparation for joining the Euro was what destroyed their reputation for economic competence. The recession of the early '90s was deepened and extended by the high interest rates required to keep the pound in at an unrealistically high level. Once liberated from this federast straitjacket, the British economy soared as the reforms of the Thatcher years yielded fruit.
New Labour, desperate for power for the first couple of years stuck to Tory spending plans, knowing that the tax and spend would spell disaster for the British economy. However they soon reverted to type, unable to constrain the excesses of the Socialist soul, Gordon Brown opened the money taps and the public sector grew fat.
Fat and unfit.
He was able to get away with this for so long because the World economy has not stopped growing for the last 16 years. The stellar, pig-headed incompetence of the Brownian stewardship of the economy was masked by the steady growth in tax receipts from the private sector, for whom business was easy enough to cope. However the other side of Brownian economics is meddling. The endless diktats from Whitehall, the labyrinthine complexity of the tax code, the unbelievably petty legislation surrounding each and every transaction meant that spare resources were not being put aside by business. The apparent health of 2006 was a mirage.
For the business, so too the individual. Tax credits are an expensive failure. The working poor are taxed mercilessly, in order that their neighbours, ether pensioners or parents can beg for some of the cash from the state. It's a wasteful, expensive, bureaucratic solution to a problem which could be better solved by simply raising thresholds.
So now the economy is not looking in such good shape, tax reciepts from business are drying up and are instead going to the banks in the form of increased interest payments. And denied the spiggot of money the public sector unions are on strike over pay. Gordon's incompetence is now evident. He borrowed during the boom, and is now struggling to meet is unfunded spending commitments. With the country apparently sinking into another winter of discontent, the old adage "empty heads vote Labour in, empty wallets vote them out" has never been truer. The country is coming apart at the seams, and it is the fault of everyone who voted for this bunch of clowns in 1997.
This Government has tested to destruction the idea of generous, state funded services. It has been shown to not work. Neither has direct redistribution via endless tinkering with the tax and benefits system ended poverty. The much maligned 10p tax con was in essence probably a device to meet the government's ridiculous target to end "child poverty", which given the way it is measured, pretty much demands taking from non breeders and paying parents. Without these policies, which will surely be abandoned in the party's decade in the wilderness, what is the Labour party for?
We need a new contract. Just as Tony Blair was unwilling to indicate in 1997 just how far down the Old Labour road of Tax 'n spend he would eventually go, I think Cameron is merely afraid to spell out to a fearful electorate just how radical the Conservatives would be. Or at least I hope this is the reason for the timorousness on Tax. That said, there really is no room for a tax cut without spending cuts right now, and I fundamentally agree with his growth rule, which will in the end give enough headroom for proper red-blooded tax cuts.
The difference between Labour and the Tories is not what they say when in opposition. There you just say what is necessary to gain power and part of that is not frightening the horses - the British are not a radical people. But the difference is in the way the Government will be pulled in a crisis. Tories will agitate for a tax cut, for fiscal stimulus and free market solutions. The Labour back benchers and activists are barely unreconstructed trots agitating for more union power, higher minimum wages, more regulation and more tax (on the rich in theory, on everyone in practice).
That is why the Tory party only makes a hash of things, like the ERM debacle, when it goes against its activists core beliefs.
Less Europe, less tax, less regulation, fewer nose-poker-inners on the public payroll. These things aren't radical, but they will happen quietly and without fanfare under a Tory Government, who will just do things a bit better. This is because, corrupt arseholes that they are, they are just better people than Labour. (a bit, not much, they are after all politicians, so we are in fact talking about a cooler part of hell)
I am off to Canada for 2 weeks' snow. I hope, if he gets his arse in Gear and sets himself up a Blogger account, Travelgal will be entertaining you in my absence.
Toodle pip, and don't forget to vote Tory on Mayday.
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Via Free Born John, I found this post on Terrorism at Heresy Corner. I have long argued that religious loons; you know... the hairy ones keen on marital discipline... do not pose an existential threat sufficient to justify the curtailment of our basic liberties to go unmolested by the police about our business. Nevertheless, there is an all pervasive climate of fear, stoked by police masturbating to the prospect of more power, but generated by the media, which is causing the security-political structure to become hyperactive. In order that something appears to be done, the police engage in Security theatre to reassure the public. Very little of what happens to you in an airport for example is, from a security point of view, strictly necessary. Do you remember the tanks (Armoured recce vehicles if you're a pedant like me) at Heathrow? What possible use is a hand-cranked 30mm rarden cannon under those circumstances, but if you're inconvenienced, they must be doing something, right?
This in turn creates the perception that we are enduring something unprecedented but
...what about the IRA? Ah, says Commissioner Blair, they didn't have mobile phones or the Internet back then, did they? And they usually phoned in warnings. And they weren't into suicide bombing. Altogether a better class of terrorist.and, as free born John points out, did so without executing plumbers on the tube. We have short memories. There is no justification for banging people up for 42 days without trial.
Such nice, friendly, unthreatening terrorists were the IRA that they managed to kill an estimated 1800 people during a thirty year campaign. Which is an average of 60 per year. This contrasts with the 52 victims of the London tube bombings. If we say that their "campaign" has been going since 2001, then in all but one of those eight years there have been no deaths at all in Britain. The IRA were so gentlemanly that they came within an ace of murdering the entire cabinet in 1984 (and, as I recall, there was no warning). They were a real threat, and we got through it....
The police have got too big for their boots. They are in effect asking for and wielding political power. They are asking for the suspension of Habeas Corpus. This will not be restricted to terrorist cases. It will be extended to drug dealers, fraud and murder... all areas where the complexity of cases lead to lots of evidence and long trials. The end of Trial by Jury here is also mooted for the reason that moronic juries are now incapable of understanding evidence (yet educational standards are improving, or so the Government's tractor production targets would have you believe). The police want to make it easier for them to arrest, hold and secure convictions against anyone they feel like.
This is nothing more than an assault on the tradition of English Liberty. We are no longer a free people, and this is so because the people have been denied education in that tradition of freedom. People have been scared into accepting gross intrusion into our lives. Fear of crime is driving acceptance of and even clamour for ever more CCTV, 50% of the world's cameras are in the UK. People have been bullied by a government into accepting high taxes for "vital public services" which they have also been persuaded that cannot be provided by anything other than the state. Because of widespread abuse of the benefits system, people are forced to give vast amounts of information to the government. Because benefits are so widely abused, taxes are high. Because taxes are so high, people are dependant on the state for their financial security. They are scared of not getting any return on the money they've been forced to pay to the government. This is the sunk cost argument, and it is being used aggressively by the labour party.
So it's not just terrorism legislation. That is just part of the destruction of English liberty which is the New (no different to Old) Labour project. It began with the first regulation of schools after WW1 accelerated with the expropriation of Doctors' private businesses in 1947 and is becoming complete with the removal of basic freedoms in 2008. In a little over a century, the British people have gone from the freest people in the world to the most highly taxed and spied upon. Our Government already reaches further into our lives than in any other supposedly free society.
George Orwell only got the Date wrong. It has to stop.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
I was going to deal with the RBS rights issue today, (just the kind of bad news that turns sectors round, in case you're interested...) but I stumbled across this, which is a much more profitable use of your time. Check out the one where the Dad shows the boys how it's done. Enjoy the Sunday Drinker.
Monday, 21 April 2008
When the Ex-Chancellor abolished the 10p band, and cut the basic rate to 20p, the sheep behind him cheered, thinking it an awfully clever piece of political triangualtion - after all, so the thinking went, the Tories couldn't oppose a Tax cut, could they? Anyone with a spreadsheet and a mind capable of rational thought, however could see that this was a kick in the bollocks to anyone working on the minimum wage, who does not have children - about 5 million people. Indeed I pointed this out at the time. Parents were indeed given some of this tax raid back in the form of Working Families Tax Credit, but non breeding working poor were deemed sufficiently electorally unimportant to stab on the altar of electoral success; they are less likely to vote than almost any other demographic. This shows how the Labour political mind works. Labour MPs barely uttered a peep then, but the party was 10% up in the polls. Forget principles, this proves Labour is not, and never has been, a friend of the working poor. All this begs the question: why tax people only to swill it round the bureaucracy and give it back; why not raise the thresholds and not tax them in the first place instead?
Now they're 10% behind, the bastards, fearing for their place at the trough, rediscover the "principles" they should have exercised this time last year if they'd had even a modicum of guts. Frank Field has tabled a motion demanding something should be given to the non-breeding working poor. They didn't then because they were scared of the soon-to-be-PM Goblin King, of course. I hope this amendment succeeds, for the huge embarrassment it will deliver to the Government may turn out to be fatal. If Gordon loses on a measure which he put in at his last budget as Chancellor, this will embolden the Labour 42-day rebels. If snot gobbler loses two important votes, then the parliamentary Labour party may just find the cojones to get rid of him once and for all, and he will go down in history as a mere trivial pursuit question: "Who was the shortest-serving PM to have a workable majority?" Then we're into Labour melt-down, as the people of the UK do not like to be Governed by ferrets in a sack, which is what the factional infighting of a Labour leadership election will resemble.
Only once in the 20th century has a Government with a working majority been replaced with another such government. This could be one landslide replacing another, the biggest swing since 1906. I hope that is an effective judgement on the efficacy of Gordon Brown's premiership. He's not unlucky and overtaken by events: He is psychologically flawed: he is calculating and places a low weight on the good of the people in those calculations. At least Blair believed what he said, however delusional. Now that the people have seen the measure of the man, they're giving their opinion loud and clear: Gordon Brown is a cunt, again something I've been saying since 2005, and pointing this out remains the raison d'etre of this blog.
If this last decade has taught us anything it is that the Labour party is only electable when it lies to you. The closer it gets to its principles, the worse off the poorest in our society get. However much they make the poor into supplicants of the state by giving them benefits to cover up the ruined economy and punishing taxes, you're still taxing those least able to pay for the tax credits some of them receive. It's simple: either the Labour party doesn't fuck things up, in which case they are being unprincipled, or they act on their principles and lay waste the economy. Not a great choice really is it? Which is why they've only ever had 3 Governments with working majorities (1945, 1966 and 1997, in case you're interested). The people only vote for them when the Tories go mad. But then I said this in 1997, and no-one listened.
Frank field is giving an opportunity for the Labour party to kill-off their leader, go to the country and lose with a bit of dignity. Hanging on for 2 more years will be like the Tories winning the '92 election: ultimately disastrous for them, leading to a decade or more in the wilderness. The Tories have no opposition on the centre right, which is why they survived their wilderness years more or less intact. The Labour party in contrast has competition on the smug, statist, federast, left for the votes of the economically illiterate. For the Liberals to fail to replace the Labour party as the main opposition to the Tories in their next decade of power, they would have to be spectacularly, heroically incompetent...
It's cheap. It demeans me. I know I shouldn't laugh at a man's psychological disorder, but Fatty Prescott, Bulimic? You're shitting me, right?
Now when someone has severe body image issues, and throws up because of a terror of being fat, then that's bulimia: the fear that food is bad for you because it makes you fat and must be purged out. I suspect Prescott was just making room for more pies, the fat cunt, and now he's lost his job to Harridan Harperson, fatso wants everyone to feel sorry for him because he's got a book coming out.
I've no sympathy for the well-nourished bastard. In fact, I think I'm going to have to have therapy to remove the image which Travel Gal put in my head this morning of a Naked Fatty Fatty Pukey Prescott traipsing to the toilet in the middle of the night for a tactical chunder.
Update: There is an unintentionally hilarious post of unimaginable humourlessness over at the blog of ernest "Liberal" "Democrat" councillor, Richard Baum. Check it out for perfectly distilled humbug
Friday, 18 April 2008
Guest Post from TravelGal:
Ever keen to help the oppressed of the world, the West is debating what it can do to help Zimbabwe. The East has beaten us to the mark however, with China shipping 70 tonnes of aid that is sitting in Durban Harbour as we speak. Of course "Aid" is a relative term, and it's on its way to Comrade Bob rather than the poor and unfortunate. 3 million rounds of Ammo, 3,500 mortars and 1,500 RPG's to be precise have arrived in Seth Efrica on its way to Zimbabwe. One suspects that quiet diplomacy is going to get a great deal more noisy over the coming weeks. Thabo Mbeki is doing his usual impression of a Potted Palm, ignoring any and all blatant cheating, torture , violence in his neighbouring state; going "Lalalalalalala" with his fingers in his ears any time somebody criticises Comrade Bob.
It’s a distinct possibility he's really that retarded ( look at his nation's HIV policy) and thinks that this will all blow over. The other option is Robert "Idi" Mugabe has some serious photos on the President of the Republic of Seth Efrica in his possession, we're talking Max Mosley strength kinky shit. The image of Thabo involved in gay masochistic sex with a fellow Freedom fighter (Che Guevara for example) and the regimental mascot with Bob having proof is a good rumour, and if you believe in democracy it is your duty to spread it.
It is a tribute to Chinese industry that they can find excess capacity to ship to other dictators when their own use of ammunition in Tibet must be prodigious. However, to paraphrase Al Murray, if we ever want to go to war with China over their piss poor Human Rights record we still are going to have to buy our bullets from China.
"Hello Mr Ping, its Carlton-Browne of the F.O. We need to buy some more bullets"
"How many you want?"
"Errr, about Two Billion".
"Too Birrion, what you need arr those for"
"Mind your own business"
Thursday, 17 April 2008
I am being read in high places indeed! I've just received my second link from a blogging MP. The first was Harridan Harperson (though I suspect she might not actually author her happy blog...). So Welcome David Amess, (Con, Southend W) and I hope you can excuse my rhetorical excesses and enjoy my analysis. I think perhaps your blog however would have a far higher profile if you updated more than once every 18 months...
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
There have been a couple of excellent posts recently on the latest whinge of the anti-trade lefties: High food prices. First Mr Eugenides contrasts the Independent's tub-thumping for biofuels in 2005 on the grounds of Climate Change with its present whining about food prices, driven upwards in part because of Biofuels taking land out of food production. Matthew Sinclair then notes the fungible nature of global food production, and therefore the route to food security is to have as many sources of food as possible, whilst maintaining an economy wealthy enough to pay for it. He notes that pressures on world food prices are unlikely to be as great as WWI or WWII, during which the UK actually had little difficulty in feeding the population, even whilst gearing production towards war and despite the U-boat threat. We now produce a greater proportion of food in the UK than ever before. The UK therefore enjoys almost total food security.
So, it's not really about security. The word "security" is only included because the "food security" lobby think they can break right-wingers' attachment to free trade if they invoke spurious security concerns.Yup.
Now what is the golden thread running through this problem? You guessed it! Where ever there is a monumental screw-up with people dying of starvation, you'll inevitably find a well intentioned politician or NGO as a route cause. A few days ago, a Politician obeying the maxim in Brussels that there is no problem to which "more Europe" is not the answer, the French Agriculture minister (whose role is to suckle at the teat of the Common agricultural Policy) said
We cannot, and we must not leave food for people... to the mercy of the rule of the market alone and to international speculation.In the case of high world food prices, these measures to tame the market include the (politically motivated) dash to biofuels to combat global warming, and the system of farm subsidies to support a politically powerful farming lobby that ensures that European farming runs at sub-optimal levels of production. US farm subsidies see to it that cotton is grown at a loss in the USA, denying the third world access to that market, by which they could buy grain if they had the money. Ditto, European production of Tobacco and sugarbeet. Europe is subsidising inefficient peasant agriculture in the south of France whilst introducing perverse incentives for agribusiness to take land out of production in the north, whilst simultaneously denying the poorer regions of the world their comparative advantage - being able to grow things fast (warm, sunny, wet climate) and cheaply (poor people).
The people bleating most noisily about high world food prices are the same ones who most enthusiastically endorse Organic production, condemn "food miles" and buy Fairtrade. The Fairtrade foundation endorses a model of farm ownership - the collective - which has not historically been coincident with efficiency or development. Indeed the very system by which the fair trade price is set, starts with the cost of production. If someone else can produce the good in question cheaper, (more efficiently, better) but is not so structured, then they will be denied the fair trade premium. Fairtrade is therefore a communist stalking horse. The very simple incentive built into the market economy - that of comparative advantage, is lost as a direct result of "fairtrade". This does not just prevent development in agricultural techniques, it also has the effect of preventing the redeployment of labour into other industries: so it hinders economic development. It is as if the do-gooders who buy their consciences with their "ethical" morning coffee want to see the (picturesque, brown, far away) people of the third world condemned to the meanest and most miserable existence that mankind has ever conceived for himself - that of the self-sufficient small-holder farmer.
Do not romanticise the plight of the rural poor, if anything its shittier than being in a city slum, as it comes with the constant risk of starvation if the weather's bad. This is why, where possible I never buy fairtrade - it is evillest form of lefty smug, patronising cruelty. Don't believe me? Why are Chinese and Indian peasants fleeing the land to be "exploited" in factories? They're voting with their feet. The sooner every country supports its population with 0.9% of the population on the land as the USA or Britain does, the better.
It is free trade, in contrast to "fair trade" or regulation which will prevent the world starving. Free trade is a system by which everyone grows that product which their climate and geography best suit them, which will lead to food security, by maximising production everywhere. Futile attempts to ensure self-sufficiency by rich world trade blocks and misguided African leaders, will keep people poor, increase food prices worldwide, and cause starvation. Self Sufficiency in food leaves your population vulnerable to the failure of harvests in only one region - yours, meaning you suffer on both supply and demand side should your crops fail. Contrast this with well-developed trade routes. It is for this reason alone that democracies do not have famines. Instead of attempting to guess what the market will do, grow what you can most efficiently and buy what you don't on the world market using your surplus. Using your land efficiently means using technological advances such as Inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to maximise yields. To minimize the use of these potentially damaging chemicals, Genetic modification could see crops staying ahead of the diseases which destroy them. If technology and trade is embraced, then there is no reason why the peak global population - 9 billion or so expected in the middle of this century cannot be supported comfortably without despoiling the environment. Indeed it is only by using the land most efficiently that such a population can be supported in any sustainable way.
Of course the biggest benefit of free trade to human happiness is that it prevents war. Wars prevent agricultural production, by despoiling crops, killing labourours and causing local surpluses to rot as trade becomes too dangerous. Thus famine and pestilence follow war. If goods cannot cross borders then armies do.
So.... What needs to be done? First western subsidies to farmers need to go, yesterday if possible, next Tuesday at the latest. Land, like capital needs to be allocated to its most efficient user, which means the end of peasant farming worldwide (which in itself would be a huge gain for human happiness), allowing reallocation of Labour other non-agricultural production. The mechanism by which this should be achieved is the freeing up of the market in agricultural land so that peasants are not tied to their plots by unrealistically low land prices. To achieve this, Africa needs to have access to western markets, for both goods and food. The Green revolution should be exported and yields worldwide will go up. We've not had free trade for a century. Let's try it again shall we?
In short, the current price spike is because of attempts by politicians to regulate a global market, and pick technological winners to the (non-existent) green energy problem, causing shortages as a result of distorted, unresponsive markets as farmers chase subsidies rather than plant according to market prices and yields. Markets are better than regulation because they give signals as to supply and demand rather than political pressures from unrepresentative lobby groups. If prices are low, then production will fall, raising the medium term price. If prices are high, farmers will switch to that crop increasing supply. This search for equilibrium will work, but only of the idiot politicians get out of the way. In any business area, political regulation is a process always entered into with the best of intentions, by people who are trying to do good for some defined group or other (rarely for all).
Politicians, however always end up hurting those they claim they are trying to help - the western poor, and the third world. The latter should be developing their economies by feeding the former cheaply. Our evil trade policies see to it that they're not.
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
Do you want to boycott China? What's stopping you? TravelGal has some simple solutions:
I buy my Groceries from Fortnum & Mason or Borough Market, my casual wear from Gieves & Hawkes and Hackett; and formal wear from Turnbull & Asser. My suits are made by a lovely company in Yorkshire. Have to admit underwear and a telly is a problem but I generally find that if you find something with a Royal Warrant in it will be made in England - France at an absolute push for the Bubbles. I'm boycotting China with remarkably little effort; I simply don't understand the fuss. Obviously some necessities like Polo Mallets have to be made in Argentina, and I'd find it difficult to get Chillies if the Mexicans started executing their priests; and Bacon if the Danes started torturing and beating those pesky Zealanders to death.There you go. The simple way to reduce food miles and show political solidarity with oppressed people everywhere. (If you're a Structured Products trader and live in London)
The Chinese make nothing I would need to buy; I went there once; the entire place seemed to be selling Binoculars, a plastic golden cat whose paw waved like Sir Douglas Bader’s Legs and dried animal sexual organs to cure Leukaemia. I understand that in a store called "Matalan" Chinese products are terribly popular, but they don't seem to have a store on Saville Row or Old Bond Street. I you want to help the people of Tibet and promote the Human rights of this benighted nation the message is very simple - don’t be a bloody Chav.
Monday, 14 April 2008
Yet again we see the British "Government" attempting to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days from 28 days. This extension is not necessary as the full 28 days has been used by the police only 11 times, and judicial extensions were secured in these cases, so no terrorist got off because of insufficient time in detention, indeed many were eventually released without charge. The police, being police, naturally want more powers to bang people up with out having to go through all that tedious legal nonsense, but should be made aware that they're servants and society is not run for their convenience*. Political triangulation seems to be therefore the most likely explanation for the Government's desire to turn Britain into a police state. The Conservatives have to oppose a grossly disproportionate measure, allowing Snot-Gobbler and his minions to paint them as weak on terror. That is the altar on which the ancient freedom of habeas corpus is being sacrificed.
Whilst this goose-stepping illiberality may please The Sun, whose knuckle-dragging readership believe the measure to only affect brown people, it is profoundly dangerous. We already have the longest pre-charge detention period of any western democracy. There is precedent: Internment acted as a recruiting sergeant for the IRA, and likewise this measure will further alienate young Muslim men, at whom it is currently aimed. But Sun readers should not feel so confident that, being white, they're safe from the powers this measure contains. Before long, we'll be banged up for "drunk and disorderly" for 42 days before the courts can get round to hearing the case.
The "Government" has form in introducing excessive new powers for use in extremis and then applying them with a broad brush to the general public. The Regulation of investigative powers act, which is supposed to govern MI5's wire-tapping is now being used by councils to investigate fraudulent .....
.... applications for school places.....
We're already through the looking glass, people.
*in case you're wondering, society is in fact run for the convenience of the legal profession
Friday, 11 April 2008
I think this has the makings of a meme...
Mac the knife pointed out that, when really pissed off with our new labour masters, we in the right-wing blogosphere expend huge amounts of rhetorical energy in thinking up entertaining ways to publicly dispose of politicos compliance officers, health 'n safety inspectors and assorted quangocrats. Hanging is, whilst regularly recommended, far to good for them. He notes DK's use of insects - sharpened cockroaches and candiru fish. I favour ants of the Genus solenopsis. These punishments are rightly dismissed on grounds of animal cruelty. Mr Eugenides has suggested the feeding of Patsy Hewitt into the whirring aero engine, which is too dismissed as potentially damaging to a valuable machine. Mr The Knife himself favours the public use of Trebuchets and Mangonels to launch treasonous turds towards France.
None of these really do it for me. If I'm honest they don't really satisfy the rage. They're too impersonal, too mechanical. And the trebuchet is too damn quick and painless. Shame on you, Mr. the Knife. I want to get primal. I want to feel their bones break and hear the crepitus as the broken bones scrape together. I want to these cunts who are busy destroying our liberty and selling our ancient and hard won freedoms to the lowest bidder, and demanding that we pay for the privilege, to know that they are being killed, whilst they are being killed.
Now having read some history, I know that there is nothing new under the sun, I also know that the further east you go, the more imaginative are the ways that miscreants are put to death. The Chinese used to stake people to the ground and allow fast-growing bamboo to grow through the unfortunate traitor. This is quality work, but it lacks the visceral violence I am going for. Impalement is good, and you'll be able to look the dying nu-labour apparatchik in the eyes for days as the death agonies stretch out. Breaking on the wheel, as practised by the French is satisfying and highly public. But this is all too much foreign flummery. We like our food plain and hearty, and our murdered politicos should reflect this.
Meat and two veg may not be suitable for high-falutin' foreign tables, but it is tasty and good. Thus, I think we should look to our own senior service for inspiration. Because something is simple, doesn't make it bad. Flogging is mighty painful and will flay a man alive, whilst giving the flogger a workout, helping to end the UK's obesity epidemic. But there is room for only one person to work their frustration out at a time. There could be a system by which a date is set, and each person turning up gets to administer one lash. No-one turns up to the politicians punishment, politico gets off scott free. If a thousand turn up, he's dead. But this is artificial, and delivering one lash would arouse the anger, without really satisfying it.
So we come to the Dude's favoured punishment: Running the gauntlet, a navy punishment for thieves (how apt), in which a man was forced at swordpoint through two lines of his fellows who would beat him with rope braids. The length could be varied and the criminal's fellows could decide the severity of the beating. It could be, and often was fatal. As I suggested with the flogging, if enough people turn up, then the long gauntlet of thousands is almost certain to result in the death of the Politician in question. This would be efficient too, as queues of Gender outreach co-ordinators for example could be fed through the lines of angry British subjects, who get to beat more than one interfering cunt to death in quick sucession. Being forced to step over the still twitching corpses of their fellows as the blows rain down means they'll go to their maker knowing that the country is disgusted with them.
Naturally, this would be televised on all channels. The bodies could be used for petfood or fertilizer.
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Lord Acton's aphorism
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men"is as true today as when it was first said in 1887. Which is why successful countries are the ones with checks and balances in the constitution preventing abuse of power by those who achieve it. This may be constraints on the power of a monarch by baronial interests and later parliament, or of the President by the legislature and courts. Rarely is such a system designed and usually has to develop organically over a long period of time in order to strike the right balance between effectiveness and balances. Indeed many attempts to design a stable system fail because the checks and balances are too effective, meaning that nothing can be done by Government in response to crises. So the system gets swept away by a big event - the Weimar republic is an example, the post-war "Governments" of Italy are another.
So from history, I draw two lessons concerning constitutional reform: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if you must fix it, make those changes evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.
We in the UK are heading in a direction which runs counter to these principles. The power of the crown (wielded by the PM) are growing, and parliament is becoming ever more supine. In the few remaining areas where parliament is sovereign, the executive rides roughshod over peoples' liberties, unchecked by parliament. Where Parliament is not sovereign, and by this, I mean most areas of political policy where our politicians do what they are told by the EU bureaucracy, our legislators are impotent in the face of a tsunami of regulation washing over the UK from Brussels.
Which brings us to the point of Democracy. A view on the left, which neatly fits their fetish for identity politics, is that if you get everyone accurately represented, then you can thrash out a solution acceptable to all. If not, then any problems are solved by an appeal to the utilitarian principle of majoritarianism. Any policy, however absurd or illiberal is sanctified by this appeal to "democratic legitimacy". Democracy, then becomes a mere tribal headcount - which is why PR is a bad idea. I like to think the UK is beyond this: the people look to coalitions created within rather than between parties - that between Conservatives and liberals in the Tories, between Socialists and fascists in the Labour Party and between smug, sandal-wearing, vegetarian closet homosexuals and federast fifth columnists in the "Liberal" "Democrats". That way, the people get what they voted for. Instead of a mathematical exercise in anthropology, democracy exists to see that a variety of views are represented and that reasonable people can see that the legislature is at least attempting to govern in the interests of the people. Strict tribal headcounts are neither necessary nor desirable, so long as the gist of the people's will is followed. Democracy is simply the power to kick the rotters out. And we have that well enough in the UK. That system is not broken yet.
So reform of the voting system is not necessary. What is necessary is that parliament starts to reflect the will of the people. The non-referendum is just the start. It is clear that ID cards, tax rises, the ceding of ever more power to the EU and much of what can only just be called with a straight face the "agenda" of this government is so counter to what most people voted for that really, if snot-gobbler had any decency, he'd see an election is necessary, yesterday if possible but next Thursday at the latest. But he does not have a shred of decency. There has never been a government as dishonest and self-seeking as this one, whose only remaining motive is the retention of power. We see this and come the time the Labour party will be punished.
In this they are like the disaster unfolding between the Limpopo and the Zambezi. A man and party, who came to power in a wave of optimism, even from their opponents, eventually knew not when it was time to go, and did immense damage to their country before they did so. Finally the electoral system itself is abused to further the interests of the ruling party.
In personality, Gordon has much in common with comrade Bob. Both are steeped in their parties' struggle. Both started with much fanfare as a good and solid and dependable pairs of hands. But the trajectory of Tyranny is clear: You arrive in power, full of energy with a well-thought out* policy platform which you need to implement (in Gordon's case, I'm including his time in No. 11). You enjoy the support of the people. But as you inevitably piss vested interests off, you lose support. You close ranks and hide behind an increasingly small band of Loyalists who are reluctant to tell the unvarnished truth, as they owe their positions to the Leader's favour. As a result you develop paranoia, thinking that all people who disagree, outside the bunker are bad - how can they not see the glorious work you're doing on their behalf. After a decade or more of obsequiousness from lickspittles like Ed Balls, you lose the ability to tell the difference between the truth and flattery, and that is why power corrupts.
Governments therefore cannot renew in office as close underlings are prone to the same effects in their departments. John Major, for example was a mere interregnum. True, he won an election but only because of the bald, ginger twat the Labour party had the gall, the audacity and the sheer effrontery to present to the electorate as leader on two separate occasions was too ridiculous to contemplate as Prime Minister, so that even John Major - a fundamentally decent man, even if he was shagging Edwina Currie, was a better bet. Nevertheless a decade in power is about the most a human or party can take without going mad. Which is why many countries with strong executives opt for term limits. Now that New Labour has run out of Ideas, it is losing the support of the country and in its attempts to cling on to power, will do immense damage, especially if they try to gerrymander the electoral system to their advantage.
So my advice to Gordon is "have the self-respect to see you're not the man for the job". Just accept that trust in politics will be regained when politicians start to keep their promises, and govern with objectives other than the maintenance of power. The non-referendum is not in itself important, but crystalises the view that parliament is not to be trusted - it was after all promised by all parties. Alas, Gordon's already gone mad, infected with delusional beliefs in his judgement. Just because Tony could lie unpunished, doesn't mean you'll get away with it too. History, however will judge the Goblin King a lousy chancellor - that much is inevitable. Please don't go down in history as the PM who broke British democracy too.
*new labour stretches this. Tax Credits and Sure Start are a pathetic legacy for a decade of Landslides
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Say what you will about his left-footed Tonyness, at least he had the self respect to keep his ridiculous beliefs in Sky-faeries to himself until after he
fled the scene delivered a hospital pass to Gordon left office. Since when he's really let his beliefs hang out. Possibly because most Brits find anything other than Anglican wooliness where faith is optional, slightly scary - we don't do god*, and wouldn't have elected Tony so enthusiastically if he had.
Not so in our Nation's Adolescent offspring where religious enthusiasm has become de rigeur for politicians, who can openly prostrate themselves or pretend to have epileptic fits to the sound of the applause of an electorate opening their wallets. Indeed the feeling is so strong that it is considered political suicide to profess doubts about the existence of
faeries orbiting teapots demons god: Obama has even managed to escape censure for supporting a "pastor" who says "God Damn America". Some go even further than this. The Democratic (yes Democratic, they're just as loony as the moral majority) Member of the Illinois house of representatives (a sort of Seppo local Government, but they can actually change stuff) suggested to an Atheist, Rob Sherman that
*as a non-existent entity, it is not a proper noun, and therefore gets a lower case
Kevin "Tony Blair's MiniMe" Rudd wants Australia to be a republic, ditching the Queen as head of state in favour of some Politician. I don't see why not: many members of the Commonwealth have become republics…. Fiji, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, - winners all! It's done them the world of good, beacons of stability in this otherwise ever changing world. And every time they see their President on the News, they can feel proud, safe and secure in the knowledge that it is their own countryman that they themselves voted in. As Gordon Brown has proved so successfully with the Scottish & Welsh Parliaments, radical changes to your constitution have absolutely no effect on the cohesion of your nation.
Gordon handled the changes to our constitution with the deftness off a Chimpanzee with a Sevres vase, can you imagine how well a bloke called "Kevin" will manage this change.
Guest Post by TravelGal
Mr Eugenides opines that a boycott of the Olympics is not on the cards, nor is it desirable and it would be unlikely to change anything. What is needed is for our glorious leaders to stop kowtowing to Beijing and call them out over their human rights abuses, not just in Tibet.
Furthermore, the entire question of sporting boycotts is a complex and nuanced one. If you exclude China from international competition, critics argue, why not Russia? Most countries in the world would immediately vote to exclude Israel, of course, and so the Americans would pull out straight afterwards. And then what would the fucking Olympics amount to? Some Kenyans and Ethiopians running round a track. Presumably they're beacons of civil liberty, at least? What? Oh.It really is a very good article and rather than picking a quote, I really urge you to go and read the whole thing...
Monday, 7 April 2008
China has a nasty, totalitarian regime. People don't want a totalitarian regime to be supported by their government, especially when they invade a country, then ethnically cleanse it, even if that country was a theocratic mediaeval toilet. Therefore the people, through protesting about the PRC's treatment of Tibet and Tibetans made a farce of the London Olympic torch relay, as they will do throughout Europe. This protest was not just a 'fuck-you' to the grey men in Beijing, but a one fingered salute to our new Labour masters too.
Point well made.
That said, I don't think the police over-reacted. If you're going to disrupt the event by attempting to take the torch, or put it out with a fire extinguisher, then Plod are well within their rights to knock you over and nick you for "public order" offences. Let's face it, a good kicking is cathartic and does no-one any harm. No doubt there will be bloggers wailing the death of democracy because of an end of the right to protest. I don't like the laws which say you have to ask permission to protest any more than you do, but in this case, I think both parties acted their respective parts in this piece of political theatre. The only people I feel sorry for are the athletes and token ethnic fit bird c-list celebrities (how fucking tawdry and nu-lab is that?), who have probably dreamed of running with the torch their entire lives, but were made to feel like twats while they did so. Bad luck, Redgrave et al. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong governments.
If you want to see police over-reaction, the French do it properly. So prepare for broken heads as our gaze moves over the channel to Paris...
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
As a libertarian, I believe it is beholden upon the individual to provide for themselves. This means, where possible building a nest-egg for retirement and saving for that rainy day. Of course being taxed to penury, this laudable aim is impossible for anyone except politicians. For the rest of us Serfs, that means putting money away after tax and having it taxed again when you spend it. Sucks, doesn't it? You still gotta do it. The question is what is the best way to invest?
Every pub bore in the known universe is willing to opine that "bricks and mortar are a safe investment" and also will take evidence from the last 20 years that "they are safer than the stock market". They're wrong on both counts, for 2 reasons. First; few people can buy an asset as large as a house with cash. Therefore you must gear up, which massively increases risk. Most people, at least at first buy a house with a small deposit - 10% or so. This means a small fall in house prices will cause a 100% capital loss. This is a common enough occurrence for it to have a name understandable in the vernacular: negative equity, which is a trap which means you may not be able to move in order to take advantage of a new job, for example. Of course, you're in your home for the long run and you hope that these things even themselves out, as they have consistently since the war. However you've not bought an index of national house prices. You've bought a house in a fixed location: you're a potential victim of bureaucracy. The town hall can plan eyesores in your woodland view, increase your tax band, fail to maintain your road or install "social housing" on your street. They can take money for you in a myriad of ways, without ever consulting you. Furthermore, The local economy could collapse with a major employer going bust, reducing local demand for housing. You can suffer a flood, rendering your property uninsurable. With all your eggs in one basket, your house is not a safe investment, and it is illiquid. Your house may not sell at any price if you put it on the market, especially if you're a DIY nut, or you have teenage children.
The second reason is that you don't get a cash return on your home. You pay more in cash terms for a mortgage than you would in rent, and you have to make repairs pay bills and taxes as a result of ownership. Let's do the maths. Since 1952, the average UK property has Grown from a base of £1,891 to £183,959. This is an annualised return of 8.68%. Over the same period, the FTSE all share total return index has gone from 40.17 to 3,219.05, an annualised return of 8.3%: about the same. Depending on the time frame you chose, the returns are broadly the same. Over the 20th Century however, shares outperformed property by some margin and these numbers ending at the end of 2007, are after a decade of flat returns in the stockmarket, and what looks like the top of the 30-year property bull run. I suspect equity will be the asset of choice over the next decade, by the end of which I expect it to have regained the lead.
Obviously buying the home in which you live makes more sense, because instead of pissing all your rent away, some of that money is going to build equity in your home. My point is about property as an investment. You can sell a share and have the money in 3 days. You can't do that with a flat. When highly geared property goes wrong, you're fucked, especially if you're on an interest-only mortgage. Secondly, if you're investing in liquid securities, it is possible to ensure that you keep your taxable gains below the Capital Gains tax threshold, currently £9,200 a year. If you're selling a property in which you don't live, and you're a higher rate tax payer, you can wave goodbye to a large chunk of your profit if and when you do sell up: the real returns from investments after tax are what is important.
The main reason that property investment is perceived to be a good thing is that it forces you to save. I reckon that it costs me roughly £150-350 a month more to buy than rent, and some of that goes into the property as equity. If you rented, and saved this difference instead you'd have a good lump sum at the end of a 20-year period. Of course, if you rented, in reality you wouldn't do this, because a new car or a good pissup is more attractive. So it's academic. The real reason that houses are perceived to be a better investment than the stockmarket are mainly psychological. People extrapolate what makes sense for their own home and think that property is risk-free.
So is buy-to-let "Britain's sub-prime". No. Because of the risks outlined above, most Buy-to-let mortgages are unlikely ever to go to negative equity as 20% or greater deposits are usually required. Thus lenders have not been as irresponsible as they have in the 'States, where sub-prime is a 110% negative amortization loan at 8 times salary. A collapse in the market is likely to hit certain types of property like 2-bed flats (like chez dude... bugger), as investors sell up to lock in profits, but not cause a wider property crash, which requires sky high interest rates and mass unemployment, which isn't likely in what is, by historical standards likely to be a mild slowdown: You need forced sellers to create a property crash. Secondly, places like the US and Spain where property crashes are predicted have seen massive building booms recently. The UK is building houses slower than at any time since the first world war, while our population is growing and number of households is growing faster. The lack of supply will support house prices.
The slowdown in mortgage approvals is not resulting in unsold property on the market, but in property not coming onto the market in the first place as sellers just sit tight - further constricting supply. It is a buyer's market at the moment, and offers are being accepted well below the asking price, but this has not resulted in rapidly falling prices, which remain above where they were last year. If, and this is a big if, confidence returns to the banking sector, which will free up mortgage finance, the UK property market could easily achieve what it has failed to do ever before. Have a soft landing.
Is anyone predicting 8% a year capital growth from the UK property market? You could have got that a few days ago dividend yield alone in some UK banks' shares. And will everyone predicting a new depression please just fuck off. The US economy will be OK once Bernanke's inflation sees off the national debt, and we'll be ok too, despite Gordon and co, who make us poorer, but have failed to derail the free market economics he resisted as a youth. What ever the level of Tax (within reason), UK PLC is actually doing OK.
Apparently online book piracy will stop people writing, because Authors will not get paid. The Society of Authors cite what's happened to the music industry where the loss of revenue from CD sales has resulted in the end of pre-packaged and managed boy and girl bands. Less money for music executives at EMI and more for bands who can hold an audience in a live venue. In the 1970's tours promoted records. Now records promote tours. Live music is king.
I think this is a good thing, and is pretty far from the death of the music industry which Tracy Chevalier suggests resulted from widespread file sharing.
There’s a lot of ‘wait and see what the technology brings’ but the trouble is if you wait and see too long then it’s gone. That’s what happened to the music industry. I disagree, Tracy. Music is now being made by people whose first love is music. People who without a recording contract and publicity would probably be playing guitar in a pub in front of dozens rather than on stage in a stadium in front of thousands. The marketing men are losing control. This means more people with real talent, like Duffy, currently at the top of the Album charts despite being Welsh, and fewer manufactured non-entities like Girls Aloud. Please don't excoriate me for my lack of knowledge of the current music scene. My tastes ossified before I was born - I like 60's folk and 70's rock and I'm not up on modern popular beat combos.
Now the literati of the Society of Authors are fighting to defend the Advance/Royalty method of payment, but realise that it is a model doomed to fail, especially for cookbook authors. Timmy highlights one spectacularly stupid suggestion: the state paying authors. I don't think, however that people will stop buying books. People like books and a Library is part of every well fitted out home. Reference books: cookbooks, haynes manuals and encyclopedias will and have lost out to the internet, but that will not stop novelists and writers who may be able to use the internet to gain an audience before appealing to publishers. Just in time publication means that very short print runs are now possible, meaning publishers no longer risk unsold inventory. Amazon just takes a bit longer to deliver such titles. What is going to suffer is the mega-advance book deal. But as this affects half a dozen people globally, who gives a shit? It will be easier to get a book deal for people who want to write, less risky for publishers to give one, which means more choice for the reading public.
There is no point trying to force people to move away from books to propriatory hardware like the Kindle, because the Codex form book is one of mankind's perfect inventions. Like the Bicycle. People like the feel, weight and look of a book. The kindle may have have its uses, especially for commuters, but it will never replace a well stocked library.
So the society of Authors should be reminded that there is no problem yet concieved that politicians cannot make worse by legislation. And this is especially true of managing disruptive technological change. "Wait and see what the Technology brings" is exactly what you should do.