Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Quote of the Day...

... comes from an anonymous Labour advisor on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn.
“We’ve had shit leaders before and we’ve survived,” a longstanding adviser said. “This is politics; anything can happen and we’ve got to do the best we can.”

Labour's fixed that for you

According to the Daily Wail, George Osborne (amongst others) lobbied hard against the Tories' EU referendum pledge.
George Osborne pleaded with David Cameron not to hold an in/out referendum on the European Union, it emerged last night.
Senior Tory sources revealed the Chancellor had repeatedly warned against the move in the run-up to the Prime Minister’s referendum pledge in 2013.

He is said to have warned Mr Cameron that a referendum would not resolve the tensions within the Tory party over the issue, and risked an accidental British exit from the EU.
If we exit the EU, Georgie-boy, it won't be "accidental": it will be the quite deliberate will of the British people—a people who would rather make their own laws and articulate their own priorities (for better or for worse).

But why, George? Why would you do this thing: why campaign against an EU referendum...?
[Osborne] also warned that holding an in/out vote risked putting the Conservatives on the wrong side of mainstream business opinion…
Well, if by "mainstream business" you mean big corporates, yes: if, on the other hand, you mean "the vast majority of British businesses that have to implement a bunch of regulations even though they don't actually trade abroad"—the ones that make up 80% of our trade and commerce—then not so much.

But Georgie is a sneaky little tyke: surely he can just be cuddling up to businesses? Is there, perhaps, some kind of political side to this?
... handing a political gift to Labour.
Ah. I did wonder.

Still, that shouldn't be a problem after September 12.

The Tories will have to worry far less about the opinion of businesses (or, indeed, voters) when the main opposition party is about to elect a terrorist-appeasing Communist, pushing a generally fascist manifesto—the financials of which are cobbled together by an economic illiterate.

George & Co. must be delighted.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bee calm

Obviously, we are all going to die because... Noooo beeeeeees.

Or not.
Activists insist wild bees are being killed by neonicotinoid insecticides. But as the research paper notes: “[T]he species that are the dominant crop pollinators are the most widespread and abundant species in agricultural landscapes in general.” The variety of wild species that forage on commercial crops is limited, but in terms of population, those species are everywhere. They are by far the most commonly encountered type of wild bee. The study found that, in 99.7 percent of the cases, the wild bees that come into contact with crops (and neonics) are not in decline.
File under "scare stories to sell peer-reviewed journals to naive reporters".

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trading lies

Now, one could be charitable and say that it's an editing issue. However, I choose to believe that Lucy Thomas is, in fact, telling a deliberate untruth in today's City AM debate. [Emphasis mine—DK]
Nearly half of our trade is with other EU countries, and the “outers” cannot say how British businesses would be affected by any of their scenarios for exit.
No, Lucy: "nearly half of our trade" is not with other EU countries, actually.

At any time, around 80% of "our trade" is internal. Our actual trade with EU countries is, in fact, about 10%—very far from "half" (and it is more like 8% when the Rotterdam effect is taken into account).

This might seem like nit-picking, but Lucy Thomas is the campaign director of pro-EU Business for New Europe organisation: we can expect organisations like this to step up the peddling of these subtle lies as the EU referendum approaches.

We need to be aware of them, call out those asserting them, and debunk them on a regular basis.


It appears that we are suffering the night of the living dead! For lo! as The Kitchen rises, slowly, from the grave, it seems that Bella Gerens has also uttered started to mutter about "brains"...

Monday, June 22, 2015

BBC armageddon bollocks

Apparently, the Buttered New Potato told Nick Robinson that he was going to close down the BBC.
Mr Robinson said that while travelling on the bus, Mr Cameron dismissed a BBC story claiming that he had told Nick Clegg that the Tories would not win a majority as "rubbish" before adding: "I’m going to close them down after the election."

Mr Robinson yesterday told The Guardian: "What really matters is the impact it has on other people. Some people on the bus regarded it as funny but they generally didn’t work for the BBC. The people who did [work for the BBC] regarded it as yet another bit of pressure...
Oh, diddums.
... and a sort of sense of 'don’t forget who’s boss here'."
Hey, Nick—you know how you could really ensure that Dave couldn't say 'don’t forget who’s boss here'?

Yeah, that's right—by not using the law to force people to pay the Licence Fee. In this way, the government need not be your boss at all. Do you see?

So, unless you're going to do the decent thing and stop stealing people's money by force, might I recommend that you shut your hole?


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Actually, the poor did cause it

It is raining hard right now, and this makes me happy.


Because it will hopefully ensure that the "tens of thousands" of people marching against "austerity" have a thoroughly miserable time.
The protest is expected to draw 75,000 people according to its organisers who are a broad coalition of left-wing political groups.

It began outside the Bank of England at noon followed by a march to Parliament Square where a rally is expected to take place from 2:30pm until 5:30pm.
Damn. It looks like all of these brave Social Justice Warriors will have already been in the pub, drinking expensive cider before the rain really hit. So, it seems that your humble Devil will have to derive his satisfaction by sitting here (armchair warrior that I am) and mocking them instead.

So, no doubt a number of publicity-seeking slebs will be there—who has deigned to walk with the great unwashed, I wonder?
Among those better known faces attending are comedian and activist Russell Brand, Guardian journalist Owen Jones, singer Charlotte Church, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn.
Charlotte Church? Marching with an estimated 75,000 people? Gosh.

A couple of weeks back, on Facebook, I urged Charlotte to heed her own advice and pay more tax.
Dear Charlotte Church,

I think that it's lovely that you would be happy to pay 70% tax (albeit with provisos). However, I suggest that you make the first move, and send all of the extra tax to:

The Treasury,
1 Horseguards Road,

You can tell those nice mandarins what budget you'd like the money to go to, and we can see how generous you've been.

Further, I am very much looking forward to the Treasury's coffers being boosted by the similarly generous contributions of all of the people who will be joining you on the anti-austerity march.

If they all follow your example and pay tax at 70% for the rest of their lives, I am sure that the government will be able to support poor people much more generously.

Thank you in advance—you are a true philanthropist.


Alas, Ms Church back-tracked somewhat—she said that, even if she did pay extra, it really wouldn't sort anything out. Rich though she might be, her donation would be barely enough to keep the government running for more than 5 minutes.

But, just think, Charlotte: if only you were to stand up at this march and urge these kind socialist souls to join you in paying more—perhaps you and the 75,000 could raise meaningful amounts of money, year after year. A few days later, the Spectator embraced the suggestion—even being considerate enough to urge the Treasury to make it easier for these rich people to donate their cash.
At the end of our tax returns, we declare how much tax we owe. Osborne can introduce a new line in the tax return saying: if you think this isn’t enough, how much extra would you like to pay? People like Ms Toynbee and Ms Church can then fill in the extra so they can pay 50 per cent, or even 70 per cent, if they like.

This ‘nudge’ tax reform would be consistent with the liberal principles of a Conservative government while allowing left-wingers to act along with their conscience and hand over more of their income to the government.

So next time, rather than complain that they would be happy to pay 70 per cent tax, such people can proudly claim that they do pay 70 per cent tax. And they will have the tax return to prove it.
The Speccie even has the decency to address Charlotte's complaint that paying more tax would make little difference.
Those saying that this voluntary tax would not make much difference are mistaken. The US runs this a similar (here) and under Osborne a huge share of the tax is drawn from tiny number of people. The best-paid 1pc now contribute 27pc of all income tax. The top 0.01pc pay 4.7pc (an average £2.6m each). The Charlotte Churches of our country – the 1 per cent, if you will – have never shouldered a greater share of the burden. So if she volunteered to shoulder an even larger share, it really would help bring an earlier end to austerity.
This change, alongside Charlotte Church's fine example, really could make a difference—at least 75,000 people putting their money where their mouth is, and actually paying more tax. How heart-warming.

Of course, all of this does rather assume that these protesters are paying any tax at all. I would bet that a pretty hefty chunk of them are, in fact, nett beneficiaries of the state. Apart from anything else, a great many of them are almost certainly students, complaining that "austerity" is restricting the frequency of their ski holidays or something...

But hist! Who is this grinning loon, her evil shark-like eyes darting amongst the crowd? Why!—it is that bastion of barminess, Dr Caroline Lucas MP! Hooray for the good doctor (of Elizabethan literature)—lang may her lum reek, as they say in Scotland (apparently). I wonder what words of wisdom will drop from her lips...
Green MP Ms Lucas, who held onto her Brighton seat at the last general election, has spoken to packed crowds in Parliament Sqaure: "This Government is continuing to punish the poor for an economic crisis they didn't cause.”
Well, this is a bit of a problem, isn't it? I mean, I don't want to be indelicate, but it is precisely the poor who have caused this "economic crisis".

After all, the trigger for the banking crisis was people who walked away from mortgages that they couldn't afford to pay. A great many of these people were... well... "the poor". (Especially at the point that they couldn't afford to pay their mortgage.)

For sure, this was exacerbated by over-leveraged banks trading mixed assets and, yes, in the UK we did bail out the banks. But we did, at least, bail them out by buying shares: and selling these shares (and sundry others charges to the state) will, in fact, make an estimated £14 billion profit for the British taxpayer. In fact, the government has been profitably selling Lloyds Bank shares for some months now.

But the "economic crisis" was exacerbated in the UK by the fact that the government was already running a pretty hefty structural deficit all through the boom years. And what was the largest part of this spending? Why—supporting "the poor", of course.

And, of course, the Coalition and, now, Tory government has also been massively over-spending too. And who are the main recipients of this money? I'll give you a clue, Caro—it's not "the rich" because they don't need it.

What? Yes, that's right, the main recipient's of this cash are "the poor"—'cos that's how redistributive welfare works, y'see.

When looked at it that way, Caroline, the poor are, in fact, the primary cause of this particular economic crisis. I know it sounds harsh but it is, from this perspective, actually true.

So, I'm sorry, Caroline: on this—as on every other topic on which you offer your utterly valueless opinions—you are wrong.

Bad show—better luck next time, old girl.

Now don't let the door hit your scrawny arse on the way out, will you?

UPDATE: Obo the Clown highlights some more rampant stupidity from "doctor" Lucas.
76% didn't vote for this Govt - Osborne has no mandate for austerity. He wants to shrink state not cut deficit #EndAusterityNow #JuneDemo - Caroline Mucus
That's lovely, Cazza, but as was immediately pointed out to her, 71% of the people in Brighton Pavilion didn't vote for her, so is she going to resign out of principle?
She really isn't very bright, is she?

UPDATE AGAIN: Longrider's final comment might be the most pithily offensive I've seen today.
Hundreds have gathered with placards reading “No cuts” and “Stop Union Busting” and celebrities such as Russell Brand and Charlotte Church have joined protesters on the street.

Oh, right, Britain’s finest brains, then.

Lindsey Stirling: Take Flight

I love this video—it's beautiful and inventive. The music's not too shabby either...

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep...?

The above is the title of the Philip K Dick novella from which Blade Runner took inspiration and, finally, we can now answer the question that it posed.

No, they don't.

Apparently, they dream of dog-fish, camel-birds and pig-snails...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

On the other hand...

Well, this makes sense...
For many years, I was confounded by my blackouts, but the mechanics are quite simple. The blood reaches a certain alcohol saturation point and shuts down the hippocampus, part of the brain responsible for making long-term memories. You drink enough, and that’s it. Shutdown. No more memories.
On the bright side, I may be 37 but my memory tells me that I'm still about 24...

The SNP: timely as ever

One might almost believe that the SNP were eagerly monitoring the Kitchen, alert for any sign of the guidance that your humble Devil (as a former resident) might offer these benighted politicians.

Just a few hours ago, I pointed out that the Scottish Parliament had the opportunity to test the Scots' social conscience by means of access to their wallets...
The supposed driver for this is that Scotland is a "more socialist" country, willing to pay more tax in order to stave off the tyranny of austerity. This narrative is, of course, bollocks: were it not, the SNP (also the dominant party in Holyrood) would already have used the tax-raising powers that the Parliament has—up to 3p in the pound extra in income tax, if I recall correctly.
And now, in the face of further cuts from Westminster, it seems that the SNP—now dominant in both Westminster and Holyrood—are flinging up their kilts and showing everyone what big balls they have.
John Swinney has admitted he is “considering” increasing income tax in Scotland next year to fill the gap in public spending from cuts by the Tory UK government.

ollowing a summit in Whitehall with Chancellor George Osborne, the deputy first minister said that he could be prepared to use powers handed to Holyrood from the 2012 Scotland Bill to set a Scottish income tax rate above that of the rest of the UK.

An increase of 1p in income tax north of the Border would, according to the Scotland Office, raise £330 million for the Scottish Government.
How exciting—let us see how keen the Scots are, indeed, to show how they are different to the UK. Oh, wait...
The move has echoes of the SNP’s “penny for Scotland” in the first Holyrood election in 1999, where they lost heavily to Labour after proposing to raise income tax.
Not so keen then.

But, given their earlier failure, what has driven the SNP to contemplate this dreadful message (apart from the fact that, politically, they have the people of Scotland in a double headlock)?
[Swinney] went on: “The cut of £107m is substantially lower than the UK government’s original estimate but is still too bitter a pill to swallow.
“This comes on top of an overall budget cut of 9 per cent since 2010, including a 25 per cent cut to the capital budget.

“It is completely unacceptable for reductions to be imposed in this financial year to the budget that has already been agreed by the Scottish Parliament.”
Ah, no: this is what happens when you have relied on an overly generous relative for many years—and that relative runs out of money. It doesn't matter what plans you may have made: said relative simply cannot pay for them.

So, unless you are going to get off your fat arse and fund those plans yourself, you must alter said plans.
Mr Swinney also made it clear he told Mr Osborne that he “does not have a mandate in Scotland”, with the Conservatives winning just one seat and suffering the lowest proportion of votes since 1865.
Yes, Mr Swinney: but, equally, that means that Mr Osborne has precisely nothing to lose by slashing Scotland's budget to ribbons, and sending the savings to places where the Tories might actually win more voters, e.g. almost anywhere in England (or even Wales or Ireland).
But the threat of an increase in tax was condemned by the Scottish Conservatives, whose leader Ruth Davidson has made a pledge that her party would try to block tax rises in the next parliament after the Holyrood elections.

A spokesman for Ms Davidson said: “The new tax powers for the Scottish Parliament should not mean higher taxes for the Scottish people.
Why not? If the Scots want increased public services and less austerity, why should they not pay for it?
“The Scottish Conservatives have pledged to ensure that taxes will not be higher as a result of the devolution of these powers.

“There is no reason why John Swinney should not be able to issue the same assurance to families and businesses in Scotland.”
Well, apart from him actually being in power—and having to make some derisory effort to balance the books. Apart from that, Ruth.

But what about the oil, eh? Well, as chokkablog points out, this is not really going to help that much.
Three times in the last 15 years the oil tide has risen high enough to submerge the underlying £1,700 per capita deficit difference and give Scotland a lower deficit than the rest of the UK. When the oil tide flows out we can see more of that underlying £1,700/person deficit difference, we see more of the £9.1bn.

So let's take a closer look at the oil figures.

For Scotland to cover the underlying £9.1bn deficit gap we need total North Sea oil revenues of £10.1bn (because c.90% of North Sea oil revenues are attributable to Scotland).
And the projections for the next few years are nothing like £10.1bn: in fact, for 2015–16 oil is likely to raise just £600 million—short by £9.5 billion. That's rather more than 10% of Scotland's GDP.
John Swinney must be pretty desperate to even consider increasing income tax in Scotland.

If the SNP do get full fiscal economy, the man will probably shit himself.

And with good reason...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

FFA or and bust

Following their remarkable win, the SNP is now pushing for Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) for Scotland. Broadly speaking, this means that Scotland runs its own economy—being able to spend cash and raise money as they please.

The supposed driver for this is that Scotland is a "more socialist" country, willing to pay more tax in order to stave off the tyranny of austerity. This narrative is, of course, bollocks: were it not, the SNP (also the dominant party in Holyrood) would already have used the tax-raising powers that the Parliament has—up to 3p in the pound extra in income tax, if I recall correctly.

Instead, when these powers were granted at devolution, the proposal to use them was attacked as "a Tartan tax". Indeed it may be but one that, if the SNP and other Scottish commentators are to be believed, one that would be welcomed by the austerity-loathing Scottish people.

The fact that the extra tax has not, actually, ever been levied leads one to re-examine that old economics truth of "revealed preferences", i.e. watch what people do, not what they say.

Of course, raising income tax by an extra 3% probably would do little to help the Scottish budget—the projected deficit under FFA is nearly £8 billion (around 10% of Scotland's GDP). In fact, most commentators think that Scotland's Full Fiscal Autonomy would be as disastrous as HP's adoption of Autonomy (yeah—that was a tech world joke (if an old one)).

So, why on earth are the SNP lobbying for FFA—a policy that will, as Alex Massie points out, surely lead to cuts in Scottish public spending that make "austerity" look like the most extravagant fiscal splurges of the more insane Roman emperors?

A clue to what the SNP might be thinking comes from SNP MP George Kerevan, in an article for The National [Emphasis mine—DK].
It is now inconceivable that David Cameron can reject Scottish demands for greater home rule, given that all three mainstream Westminster parties – Tory, Labour and Lib Dem alike – have minimal legitimate authority in Scotland in the wake of May 7. The general election was not a mandate for a second referendum – a point reiterated time after time by Nicola Sturgeon, whatever contrary hares are set running by the battered and bruised Westminster establishment. Nevertheless, the SNP’s electoral success is undoubtedly a mandate for going far beyond the hastily conceived ragbag of new powers contained in the Smith Commission documents.
The SNP maintains that the Smith Commission does not actually give Scotland enough powers (although many English people might argue that the Smith Commission gives the Scottish Parliament a great many powers, with very little responsibility). The Grauniad has summed up the main points, which I reproduce below.
  • The Scottish parliament will have complete power to set income tax rates and bands.
  • Holyrood will receive a proportion of the VAT raised in Scotland, amounting to the first 10 percentage points of the standard rate (ie with the current standard VAT rate of 20%, Scotland will 50% of the receipts), but cannot influence the UK’s overall UK rate.
  • It will have increased borrowing powers, to be agreed with the UK government, to support capital investment and ensure budgetary stability.
  • UK legislation will state that the Scottish parliament and Scottish government are permanent institutions. The parliament will also be given powers over how it is elected and run.
  • Holyrood will have power to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year-olds, allowing them to vote in the 2016 Scottish parliamentary election.
  • It will have control over a number of benefits including disability living allowance, the personal independence payment, winter fuel payments and the housing elements of universal credit, including the under-occupancy charge (bedroom tax).
  • The Scottish parliament will also have new powers to make discretionary payments in any area of welfare without the need to obtain prior permission from department for work and pensions.
  • It will have all powers of support for unemployed people through employment programmes, mainly delivered at present through the Work Programme.
  • It will have control over air passenger duty charged on people flying from Scottish airports.
  • Responsibility for the management of the crown estate’s economic assets in Scotland, including the crown estates’s seabed and mineral and fishing rights, and the revenue generated from these assets, will be transferred to the Scottish parliament.
  • The licensing of onshore oil and gas extraction underlying Scotland will be devolved to the Scottish parliament.
  • The Scottish government will have power to allow public sector operators to bid for rail franchises funded and specified by Scottish ministers.
  • The block grant from the UK government to Scotland will continue to be determined via the operation of the Barnett formula. New rules to define how it will be adjusted at the point when powers are transferred and thereafter will be agreed by the Scottish and UK governments and put in place prior to the powers coming into force. These rules will ensure that neither the Scottish nor UK governments will lose or gain financially from the act of transferring a power.
  • MPs representing constituencies across the whole of the UK will continue to decide the UK’s budget, including income tax.
  • The Scottish and UK governments will draw up and agree a memorandum of understanding to ensure that devolution is not detrimental to UK-wide critical national infrastructure in relation to matters such as defence and security, oil and gas and energy.
Your humble Devil submits that this is very close to FFA, whilst admitting that there are some constraints on how the Scottish Parliament may act. One might argue that a great many of these constraints are there to stop the Scottish Parliament bankrupting its country. Your mileage may vary.

However, the SNP is arguing for Full Fiscal Autonomy. That means that Scotland is entirely responsible for its own economy, right?

Well, you might think that: and now we'll return to George Kerevan's comment [Emphasis mine, again—DK]...
The constitutional ball is well and truly in David Cameron’s end of the field. Cameron’s opening gambit may well be to offer Scotland fiscal autonomy, in return for termination of the Barnett Formula (a mechanism that matches per capita spending changes across the UK constituent nations). We all know that in present UK economic circumstances a fiscally autonomous Scotland would face a significant budget deficit.

For Scotland to accept fiscal autonomy without inbuilt UK-wide fiscal balancing would be tantamount to economic suicide. However, all federal systems have mechanisms for cross subsidising regions in economic need by regions in surplus. To deny that to Scotland suggests a disingenuous Mr Cameron is hoping to derail any move to Scottish Hole Rule within the UK.
Wow. Yes, that's right: George Kerevan—and, we must assume, he is a proxy for the SNP—is seriously suggesting that Scotland be given Full Fiscal Autonomy except when it doesn't have the money to afford it.

Just sit back and admire the chutzpah—George is saying that the Scottish Parliament should be given free rein to run things as it likes. Except that when the Scots overspend, rack up debts, or just go batshit wild with the cheque book, the rest of England should have to bail them out. Kerevan is proposing that English taxpayers chuck another £7 billion a year at the Scots before they've even started turning on the spending taps (because who, genuinely, thinks that they won't?).

What the SNP are holding up—as an expectation—is a total lack of any responsibility. Kerevan is proposing is that no matter how much the Scottish government screws up—no matter how fecklessly Holyrood runs the national finances, or shamelessly its parties bribe their voters—the people of England should be expected to bail out the Scottish nation regardless.

There really is only one answer to this, and its very simple: fuck off.

David Cameron, in concert with Miliband and Clegg, has already betrayed England by his shameless capitulation—a.ka. "the promise"—to the Scots after the Independence Referendum: it is entirely possible that this spineless Buttered New Potato will sell us down the river by agreeing to this shit too.

If he does, we might finally see the anger of the English people burn hot enough to march down Whitehall—parading Cameron's massive, shiny head on a fucking stick.

And not before time, frankly.

UPDATE: have the SNP been monitoring the Kitchen for suggestions...?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

No—I'm Squander Two!

Squander Two has penned a superb post outlining the reticence (or, rather, politeness) of many non-Lefties on Facebook. Often in the face of considerable provocation from the Lefty "echo chamber".
Some of my friends agree with me about lots of things, and we can have a good old eye-roll together about how people genuinely thought Ed Miliband was Prime Minister material. (No, really, they did.) Some of them agree with me about almost nothing but are perfectly happy to have a good-natured argument with no hurt feelings. And some live in the Lefty Echo Chamber, in which case I do the sensible thing and don't talk about politics, because disagreement confuses and upsets them, and — and this is the crucial bit — they're my friends. I don't particularly want to confuse and upset my friends. As the old proverb says, better to offer another slice of cake than to laugh about Ed Balls. (Though I understand Yvette does both.)
Facebook, Squander Two maintains, should be treated like your living room. However, many people are unable to do so.
But even most of my friends who are willing to have an argument still have one foot in the Lefty Echo Chamber. What else could explain their reaction to the election result? Not just disappointment or upset but sheer uncomprehending bafflement. They have almost no experience of the existence of Tories, yet it turns out loads of people voted for them. Who are these people?

These people are the ones nodding and smiling. You know lots of them — statistically, unless you're in Scotland, it is highly likely that around half your friends voted Tory. Hey, some of your friends probably voted UKIP. Yes, even though you've been calling them "evil stupid Nazis" for years, to their faces. They still did it. They just didn't tell you. Because they knew, with absolute certainty, that you'd be an arsehole about it.
Yes—we know at least one young lady who might fit that bill, eh?

Anyway, the whole thing is long and so damn right. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read the whole thing...

Coddling Cosslett

The election result threw up an awful lot of self-righteous fury from the Left. But even those angry, war memorial-defacing arseholes are preferable to the kind of whiney, tedious bollocks spouted by Rhiannon Lucy Cosset [who she?—Ed] in a Grauniad article entitled "Why it's OK to cry about this election".

It's not just that what she says is so pig-ignorant—although it is. Let's take this gem, for instance...
I keep remembering and then forgetting; a welcome pleasant thought will be interrupted by the terrifying reminder of what they are going to do to the Human Rights Act.
The Human Rights Act is not human rights, Rhiannon. In this country, we've been quite good at human rights. For hundreds of years, in fact. And restoring the power of British courts as the final arbiters of our laws does not mean that we are going to suddenly abolish human rights.

But I digress. The real kicker is this particular section [Emphasis mine—DK]...
I finally broke down properly at around 6pm on Friday, when I allowed myself, finally, to think about my little brother, who is severely disabled, and what might happen to him. Whether I should grab him and run for the hills so that we could camp down together under warm, soft blankets and not come down again until the bad people have gone.
Well, that's not going to happen, is it, Rhiannon? Because that would mean that you would have to take care of your "severely disabled" little brother.

And the reason that you are worried about what this government might do to changes in state provision for the disabled is because you want the state to take care of him—because you don't want to.

(Although, of course, you will happily use his condition as an token anecdote to shore up your credibility in a woefully fact-free opinion piece for a national media outlet.)

And if you don't want to take care of him within the rather opulent confines of this society, with all of its attendant services, you certainly are not going to do so up on a poxy hill with a few mouldy, old blankets for protection from the elements, are you?

So, Rhiannon, let me just clarify what I'm saying here: I am pointing out that you are a massive hypocrite, and your hypocrisy is the entire basis of your argument.

Now, why don't you go and have a cry about that?

In the meantime, just let the rest of us get on with our lives without having to risk stumbling across your self-serving, shroud-waving drivel.

Monday, June 01, 2015

They're all centrists now: and we are but piggy-banks

Stephen Pollard's article in the Daily Mail is not the first to sound the death knell for the Labour Party—but it is one of the more scary ones for those of us who are libertarians.
One by one, Labour's leadership candidates are rapidly disowning every element of Miliband's manifesto, and pretending that they never really had anything to do with it. 
They realise – and you'd have to be spectacularly blinkered not to see it – that Labour's programme was comprehensively trounced on May 7.
True enough—and good news for those of us who despise socialism as a mechanism of destruction, powered by spite. But are the alternatives better?
It was, after all, the new deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Robert Halfon, who suggested immediately after the Election that his party's name should be changed to the Workers' Party. The suggestion was entirely serious and shows Labour's fundamental problem. 
With the Queen's Speech promoting a series of measures designed to help people who work hard – such as removing tax for anyone working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage, and doubling childcare – and David Cameron talking all the time about working people and One Nation Conservatism, it's clear the Tories are fully focused on keeping control of that space. 
It's the Tories who speak for Mr and Ms Average Brit, who know what they want and offer it to them.
And what are these centrist parties offering? They are offering to increase the size of the state, to take more money from those people who are not part of their favoured cliques, and to continue the expansion of welfare for "hard-working families".

And what of those of us who are not "families"—merely hardworking? What of those of us who don't believe that the state is the answer to every question?

The answer is clear: we are to knuckle down, to submit, and to fucking well thank the centrist parties for the opportunity to fund their ambitions.

In other words, the Conservative Party has simply reinforced the idea that only those whom they favour—whether that be economically or socially—should be rewarded. Those of us who do not subscribe to their ideology should be ignored and brutalised—our dreams treated as nothing, our work nothing more than an income stream, and our aspirations to be harnessed to the ambitions of their voters.

Fuck me, but the Labour Party were a terrible bunch of bastards—but what are we now left with?
  • Conservatives—believe in increasing state power by rewarding "better" behaviour;
  • Labour—believe in increasing state power by rewarding "better" behaviour;
  • LibDems—believe in increasing state power by rewarding "better" behaviour;
  • UKIP—believe in increasing state power by rewarding "better" behaviour;
  • Greens—believe in increasing state power by rewarding "better" behaviour.
Not one of these parties believes that people should be able to live their lives as they themselves wish; and not one of them really believes that people should have to stand by their own decisions.

This is why, for instance, small business-people are so turned off by their politics. Those of us who run businesses are responsible for our mistakes—because our mistakes might lead to penury for others.

Politicians have no such qualms—their mistakes punish people they don't know and, fundamentally, don't care about. If they need more money, they need only pass another law.

Truly, we are faced with a stark choice, my libertarian friends. We cannot now pretend that any mainstream party—despite the proliferation in recent years—might represent our views.

We are now nothing more than milch cows for our political and social masters. Despite, in many cases, being the brightest thinkers and the most profitable risk-takers in society, our voice does not matter anymore.

And libertarians? We are piggy-banks to pay for mistakes that are not our own.

The battle-lines are drawn: it is libertarians vs. everyone else. And I fear that we have lost even before we have begun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The great charity scandal

A gentleman named David Craig has written a new book, called The Great Charity Scandal, which he summarises in an article over at the Daily Mail.
The figures are astonishing. There are more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion a year. Together, they employ more than a million staff – more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors – and make 13 billion ‘asks’ for money every year, the equivalent of 200 for each of us in the UK.
In England and Wales there are 1,939 active charities focused on children; 581 charities trying to find a cure for cancer; 354 charities for birds; 255 charities for animals, 81 charities for people with alcohol problems and 69 charities fighting leukaemia. 
All have their own executives, administrators, fundraisers, communications experts and offices, but few will admit they are doing exactly the same thing as other charities. Take the case of Ethiopia. Two decades ago there were 70 international charities operating there, today the figure is close to 5,000. 
A 2013 parliamentary inquiry into the charity sector found there were so many charities that the Charity Commission for England and Wales was struggling to ensure that most registered charities were genuine, rather than tax avoidance schemes or political campaigning groups.
Yes: it's a colossal industry.
Many other charities have also been tempted away from their main focus, into campaigning. 
Charities such as Forum for the Future, Friends of the Earth and Green Alliance have been very successful in influencing government policy. Their greatest success was probably in 2008 when the Climate Change Act was passed into law, which by the Government’s own estimate will cost £760 per household every year for four decades. 
But many of these charities are funded predominantly by the taxpayer, rather than public donations. Indeed, a number of commentators have identified that many do little in the way of good works, but are actually campaigning organisations or ‘fake charities’.
Yay! As I have said before, this phrase—indeed, this concept of "fake charities"—is my only meaningful contribution to the political conversation (other than coarsening it!).
About 27,000 British charities are dependent on the Government for three quarters or more of their funding. Without Government cash, many would collapse. Nevertheless they spend much of their time and money lobbying the Government rather than doing what most people would consider ‘charitable work’.
Indeed. And, ultimately, whose fault is this disgusting state of affairs? Yes—it's the fault of Saint Tony and his monocular Scottish idiot sidekick, the Gobblin' King.
Britain’s charities haven’t always been so politically active. Until 2004, any form of political lobbying by a charity could only be ‘incidental or ancillary to its charitable purpose’ and could not be a charity’s ‘dominant’ activity.
But it suited the NuLabour government to ensure that its place-men and women were in  position to lobby the executive to pass new and ever more draconian laws. Because people might rebel against the idea of government interfering in their private lives.

But—ah!—if charities (who, after all, only exist to do good, eh?) insist that such legislation is required, to save the people from themselves, then it must be a public good. And therefore the laws must be right.

And the charities got their reward—cash. And fuck-tons of it...
Oxfam, for example picked up almost £137 million from taxpayers in Britain and abroad during the last year – 37 per cent of its revenue. Save the Children also got close to £137 million from taxpayers and Christian Aid was given about £39 million – 41 per cent of its funds. 
Some charities refer to this money as ‘voluntary income’, though it’s not clear taxpayers would be so generous with donations if they knew how much of their money the charity was already receiving.
It is pretty clear—both from the reaction that Fake Charities got at the time, and in my conversations with people since—that people most certainly would not be so generous. In fact, they would be scandalised.

It's time that it stopped.

Women pay

Here's another one to file under "No shit, Sherlock"...
In Chile, a law requires employers to provide working mothers with child care. One result? Women are paid less.

In Spain, a policy to give parents of young children the right to work part-time has led to a decline in full-time, stable jobs available to all women — even those who are not mothers.

Elsewhere in Europe, generous maternity leaves have meant that women are much less likely than men to become managers or achieve other high-powered positions at work.

Family-friendly policies can help parents balance jobs and responsibilities at home, and go a long way toward making it possible for women with children to remain in the work force. But these policies often have unintended consequences.
Really. Well, that is a surprise.

Who'da thunk it, eh?