Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Polly: poisoning the well

Polly Toynbee: staring nobly into the distance, yesterday, at a bright future in which her salary—and those of all journalists and commentators, no matter how worthless (naming no names, hem-hem)—are paid for by your hard-earned money—taken from you at the barrel of a gun.

I see that poor little Polly Toynbee is making an impassioned plea on behalf of her employer—the hypocritical, tax-haven company-generating, general tax-avoiding Guardian Media Group.

It is, of course, the usual load of insufferable bollocks, but it is rather lovely to see Polly hoist by her own petard
But the cover price accounts for only 10% of costs and GMG says advertising revenue has "fallen off a cliff".

You see, Polly has been bitching and moaning about mega-rich companies—many of whom prop up these newspapers by, y'know, buying advertising (mainly because they are the only ones that can afford the rates)—and the damage that they are doing to society. She has whined about the high pay of executives, and the increasing wealth gap, and corporate tax avoidance...

... and now the corporates are avoiding spending their money with GMG. Now, I know that Polly is not tremendously au fait with the oh-so-complicated concept of cause and effect, but do you think it just slightly possible that her attitude, and that of her fellow commentators, might possibly have led to these companies feeling—during these turbulent times, when costs need to be cut—that GMG, whose employees constantly attack said companies, can just fucking whistle for their business?

But newspapers are in trouble, and what is Polly's solution? Can you guess, children?
To protect share prices the depth of this disaster must not be admitted.

So real progress may only be possible when many of them go undeniably bust. In truth, while some local papers are excellent, some are dross, not worth saving with a penny of public money.

Public money? Not a fucking single one of them is worth pouring public money into, Polly, you disgusting, rent-seeking harpy. That is our money and if we do not wish to spend it on your fucking rags—which, quite patently—people do not, then why the fuck should you be able to tear the fruit of people's labour from them, by force?
But creating worthwhile local news is under discussion, using various funds. Bring in the money available from awful ITV local news.

What? GMG's advertising revenues have "fallen off a cliff" and so you think that you can just wade in and cannabalise another company's cash? Fucking hellski...
Add in some BBC money: their local news is shamingly bad too, partly because the area covered is too wide.

Which rather implies that using traditional media to cover small areas is just not cost-effective (although, of course, were the minimum wage not in force, and taxes not so high, perhaps these locals rags could still be going concerns. How ironic, eh?). And, once again, Pol, you are stealing money from the pockets of everyone—but most especially the poor.
Then oblige local councils to stop wasting money on their own Pravda sheets, and to buy space in clearly defined zones in their local news trusts. It might need a small subvention from council tax, too.

I thought that you were on the side of the poor, Polly, and yet now you wish to use their hard-earned cash to prop up your peculiar profession. Two words, Pol: "fuck" and "off".

Instead of picking the pockets of workers, Polly, there is something that the newspaper industry itself could do to solve the problem. In fact, there is something that you can do...
But this is an emergency. Battalions of journalists with local knowledge are being sacked and newspaper expertise lost.

Might I suggest, Pol, that you take a great, big pay-cut? You are paid roughly £120,000 per year to write two factually-inaccurate, ill-informed, history-defying, self-contradictory, pig-ignorant columns a week for GMG—is that justice?

GMG could hire five full-time junior reporters on £24,000 per year for the money that you are paid for those two columns per week. If you are really worried about regional reporters, they could hire six at £20,000 per year. Actually, given the general desperation of those wishing to enter the journalism profession, GMG could probably easily fill seven posts at £17,150—or even ten posts at £12,000 per annum.

So, sack yourself, Polly, or take a colossal pay cut and you can make a very real difference—you can halt those "battalions of journalists with local knowledge" from "being sacked"; you can ensure that there is considerably less "newspaper expertise lost".

Wouldn't that make you happy? After all, last week you wrote...
Has the horror of it all struck Westminster with full force? Two million people have no job, with a million more to follow soon. Never before have so many lost jobs at such a rate. Of those frantically sending out sackloads of CVs, many will never work again.

Worse still, how many of the 600,000 leaving school this summer will never get an interview, let alone a job? When things pick up, those much younger will emerge as better prospects, untainted by years adrift. As in the 1980s recession, another generation is at risk of being washed up, never being connected to working life, watching children growing up as lost as them. Professor David Blanchflower, the one man on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee who called this recession right, spelled out on these pages all we know about the dire social consequences.

Your chance has come, Pol; this is your shining hour, your chance to make a real sacrifice in order to assist these unfortunates. You could help a few, just a few, of those poor people who have lost their jobs, or who might never get one: but every little helps, eh?

You, Pol, could quit your job and allow GMG to hire up to ten reporters—eager people who will go and find actual news rather than sententiously regurgitating their worthless opinions in a newspaper column as though their outmoded, inaccurate, authoritarian views had any value whatsoever.

You could even sell your Tuscan villa and donate the proceeds to these poor unfortunates; who needs a second home, Pol? Sell it, and help close the equality gap. What do you think?

Polly? Pol? Bueller...?

No, Polly's tactic is to appeal to our better natures and our charitable instincts (and not, strangely, to our self-regard).
Meanwhile, the national press risks following American newspapers to the great spike in the sky. Britain without the Mail or the Sun would be a happier place, less biliously nihilist, less miserable, angry and afraid. But democracy without the scrutiny of good journalism is unthinkable. In the end, it's up to you. If you always read this on the web, go out and buy a copy, skinflint. Use it or lose it.

Lose it? Jeepers! Just think what would happen if GMG went bust; just imagine the desolation facing mankind if The Grauniad went down the toilet!

Luckily, you don't need to imagine, and it's best if you don't: making shit up is Polly's job. Instead, as a service to us all, the poor little Greek boy has spelt out the full horror of this publishing Armageddon...
Don't say you haven't been warned, friend. You'll wake up one morning, maybe not too long from now, and they'll be gone; no Polly Toynbee, no George Monbiot, no Seumas Milne; no Joseph Harker, no Richard Gott, no Jonathan Steele. They'll all be gone, and it'll be your fault.

Do you really want that on your conscience?

Um... Fucking hellski. That really would be a world-changing event.

So, tell me: where do I sign up to hasten the end of this piece-of-shit newspaper and its ludicrous comment-whores?

UPDATE: someone has set up the near-inevitable Facebook Group: Don't tell me, show me, Pol—you can join up and urge Polly to quit and create, quite literally, some jobs.

60 comments:

Angry Exile said...

Another quality fisking of Toynbee's hypocritical dronings. I'm going to go and get a cap and find out how to doff it.

But creating worthwhile local news is under discussion...
I thought their job was to report it, not create it.

North Northwester said...

Here is the Mainstream Media news:

Capitalism causes global warming.
Capitalism causes poverty.
Capitalism causes Israel.
Capitalism causes cancer.
Capitalism causes Muslim anger.
Capitalism causes sterility in rats.
" Rats still beating humanity in breding race," says famous scientist.

Local news:
"Mayor says he will not stand for racism as he opens a new community centre."

Redate and repeat as necessary.

Anonymous said...

The Gaurdian in a nutshell.
Middle class Fascists and Stalinlists posing as Libertarian.
As simple as that.
The should rename it Izvestia.
Or perhaps "Der Adler".

Anonymous said...

On our conscience... let's have a party to celebrate. Better still lets hold it in Polly's Tuscan vila, and trash the place.

Old Holborn said...

She wants official state funding for the Grauniad, simple as that.

The civil service "job" section is the only thing the Grauniad has that actually "earns" any money.

She wants to write for a proper Pravda

Roger Thornhill said...

Makes you want to activate Logan's Run just for her.

Dan said...

Hmmm. First, three things.
1. I like this blog and agree with 90% of it.
2. I absolutely loathe Polly Toynbee, I loathe big government and I believe in personal responsibility and the market, despite all that's occurring now.
3. I was a local (and national) newspaper journalist for 15 years. I'm no longer in journalism, so have no personal axe to grind in favour of keeping these papers going - I don't derive my income from them, and nor does anyone I am close to.

National newspapers can take care of themselves for now.

However, I find myself asking this question (which does also apply to nationals): if local newspapers close down, who will report to local people on the activities of their councils, courts and police?

Bloggers are not going to do it, realistically. Covering your local magistrates' court, for instance, is a full-time job. Ditto for covering local council meetings, police calls and general news.

Personally, I would be prepared to give taxpayers' money to newspapers to keep them going, because I fear the alternative - the total lack of scrutiny - that would accompany their final demise.

However, there would be several caveats to this.

1. The money would come from local council taxes and paid out of savings made elsewhere (we could lose a few outreach workers, smoking cessation co-ordinators and climate change impact managers). All the nonsense which currently gets put through my door by the local authority - glossy leaflets boasting about how great they are - would cease and would have to be included in the local newspaper on a page making clear that it was advertising and not editorial.

2. The newspapers would be required to cover all council meetings, courts and other 'official' bodies (in the way that we did when I started in journalism in the mid 1980s, but which few (in any) local newspapers now do or can afford to).

3. Some mechanism would be put in place to avoid the funding compromising impartiality.

Not everything can be left to the market - otherwise we'd have a privatised Army, for instance (I can't see very many people thinking that would be a good thing).

Some things are worth paying for out of tax, I think, and one of them is the scrutiny of the executive at local and national level.

I don't say that this is an ideal answer - I just think a world with no plodding old soaks covering the courts and councils is genuinely terrifying.

Anonymous said...

It might be worth doing an FOI request to find out what percentage of Public sector jobs (local and national) are advertised with the Guardian and what income this generates for the Guardian over competitors.

Is this value for money considering the small readership???

Faux Cu said...

Is this the same Guardian which pays no tax, I think even just received a repayment, in this country thanks to the use of offshore tax havens?

Garotte her.

Budgie said...

Dan said: "... if local newspapers close down, who will report to local people on the activities of their councils, courts and police?"

and "newspapers would be required to cover all council meetings, courts and other 'official' bodies ... but which few ... local newspapers now do or can afford to."

So local newspapers must be taxpayer funded despite the fact they don't actually do the job that you cite is the sole reason for their existence?

And how exactly can such subsidised newspapers be protected from political meddling? Like the BBC no doubt?

FlipC said...

Ah come on surely you can all agree on "But democracy without the scrutiny of good journalism is unthinkable". Though I'm at a loss as to how that can be used as a defence for the MSM.

The Penguin said...

Funny how little coverage in any mainstream media on Mr Hannan's ripping Gordon a fresh arsehole.

Maybe they need a subsidy for that?

The Penguin

Rob said...

"Has the horror of it all struck Westminster with full force? Two million people have no job, with a million more to follow soon."

Hmmm, I have a vague recollection of a Toynbee article which went something along the lines of "mass unemployment isn't that important, save Gordon" sort of thing. Also, isn't it funny how mass unemployment in the 80s was the Tories' fault, but mass unemployment now isn't Labour's fault?

I'm sure DK covered it at the time.

Rob said...

Regarding my local paper, I lost a fair amount of confidence in its impartiality and crusading journalism when it kept on having entire front-page adverts for car dealerships masquerading as news reports.

Hardly anyone reads them, so what does it matter if they report the courts, etc? Any public subsidy would mean they were in the pocket of local councillors and they would be completely compromised. They would become the Pravda sheet of the local Labour group, and YOU would be paying for the privilege.

Anonymous said...

Dan - I was in Hartlepool during the by-election campaign when Mandleson was sent off to trough as an EU Commissioner.

In the middle of that campaign the local newspaper's headline was "Local Girl Stung by Wasp" - and you want my hard earned to subsise that? Get real.

If they fail, they fail - and I very much suspect that local blogs would arise to watch and report on local matters anyway.

Joe said...

sorry to go O/T but crapita being useful again

http://tinyurl.com/cb55ky

Joe

John B said...

"Some things are worth paying for out of tax, I think, and one of them is the scrutiny of the executive at local and national level."

I'd agree with this. But don't write cheques to local newspapers - simply make it compulsory for, and provide funding for, all court proceedings (redacted in line with existing reporting restrictions) and for all council minutes to be published online.

neil craig said...

Interesting that the reader only pays 10% of GMG's money, the rest being adverts. The most noticeable difference between the Guardian & real newspapers is their afvertising. Most ads in the rest are for ASDA, Primark etc. The Cuardians are overwhelmingly for jobs in government depts, quangos & fakecharities - ie most of their 90% is government money, making the Grauniad a fakenewspaper.

If their revenue really has "fallen off a cliff" perhaps government really is tightening some of its purse strings. Best news of the day.

The Filthy Smoker said...

"Britain without the Mail or the Sun would be a happier place."

In your worthless opinion, Toynbee, maybe. But these are the country's two best-selling newspapers and are under no threat. Unlike the Guardian which, as others have pointed out, will be fucked the moment Cameron diverts all public sector recruitment advertising to the Telegraph.

"But democracy without the scrutiny of good journalism is unthinkable."

Firstly, what you know about 'good journalism' could be written on a gnat's cock.

Secondly, name one country where fearless investigative journalism has ever been served by closing down the competition and nationalising the press.

Stupid bitch.

Rob said...

I had to post a comment there:

"I've had an idea! What about forcing everyone who can read to pay for a license to support the Media Class?

Every sixteen year old will be tested when they leave school or enter the sixth form. If they can read, their details are entered on a huge government database. Each person on this database would have to purchase a "Celebrating journalism" license. We could set the cost at, oh, about £139.50. Once you have this, you can read as many newspapers as you want - for free! For those who can read but are visually impaired, we can offer a generous discount of 10%. There's plenty of exciting content in newspapers, don't let being blind put you off!

We would require a large and aggressive state organisation to manage this database and ensure all of the happy citizens pay their fair share. We would need aggressive advertising, and intrusive surveillance to catch those enemies of the people who refuse to pay for spurious reasons, e.g. political bias, omission or shoddy journalism.

The benefits would be enormous - never again would the Media Class have to worry about losing their jobs, so they could instead fully concentrate on providing a really first-class service. As for licensees - no more hunting around for change, or queueing up in the newsagents - just pick up a copy and off you go!

Comrades, if we implement this progressive gesture, no cat stuck in a tree will ever again go unreported; you will always be able to find out that your local pub side lost 14-1 again. Comrades, it is the future."

Dan said...

Thanks for responses.

Budgie said: “So local newspapers must be taxpayer funded despite the fact they don't actually do the job that you cite is the sole reason for their existence?”

No, I didn’t say ‘they don't actually do the job’ (of scrutinising local powers), I said few do.
More used to in days gone by, fewer do now.
Soon, none will.
The question, I think, is whether or not you think it's a good thing for local officials to be under scrutiny?
If you do accept that local officials should be scrutinised, or at least should work with that threat of exposure at the back of their minds, then I wonder what better system of scrutiny you can suggest than a group of full-time paid professionals* with a platform to deliver the results of that scrutiny to local people – a platform which is widely available for a small price in local shops?

Anon said: “Dan - I was in Hartlepool during the by-election campaign when Mandleson was sent off to trough as an EU Commissioner. In the middle of that campaign the local newspaper's headline was "Local Girl Stung by Wasp" - and you want my hard earned to subsise that? Get real.”

I find it hard to believe that that was the local paper’s headline, anon. Certainly, if you search the Hartlepool Mail website, there’s no such story.
But anyway, no, I don’t want your 'hard-earned' (or mine) to subsidise that kind of 'news' and have not suggested that I do.
I am simply saying that if the choice is between cutting some other local authority spending to fund a Hartlepool Mail which covers local politics and criminal justice (for starters) – a Hartlepool Mail which as part of its funding agreement has to concentrate less on trivia, perhaps - and there being no Hartlepool Mail at all, I prefer the former.
Obviously, I would really prefer a Hartlepool Mail which can stand on its own two feet, but that seems unlikely to happen.

Rob said: Regarding my local paper, I lost a fair amount of confidence in its impartiality and crusading journalism when it kept on having entire front-page adverts for car dealerships masquerading as news reports.
I haven’t seen that piece, obviously. It’s probably trash, and (I’m speculating) may have been arranged as part of a deal on advertising. Currently, papers have to survive on advertising.
I don’t personally think that a newspaper industry whose existence is dependent on the ups and downs of estate agency (or car dealerships)is a good thing.

Rob also said: “Hardly anyone reads them, so what does it matter if they report the courts, etc?”
I worked on the Coventry Evening Telegraph in the late 1980s (I stress again, I no longer work in newspapers and have no financial interest in them whatsoever).
The CET has seen its circulation decline from 90,000 in 1990(ish) to 45,000(ish) today.
Partly this is because successive owners have cut expenditure and staff, partly it’s because the content is not as good as it was (partly, again, because of the cuts in staff), and, sure, partly it’s because there’s a general drift away from newspapers.
But truly terrible as it now is, the CET still sells 45,000 copies a day. It is still read by local people and it still holds some vestigial power over the local authority, police and so on.
When it goes, as it will, that is gone, probably for ever.
What does that matter? I think it’s clear that scrutiny of public bodies matters.

Rob also said: “Any public subsidy would mean they were in the pocket of local councillors and they would be completely compromised. They would become the Pravda sheet of the local Labour group, and YOU would be paying for the privilege.”
As I said, there would need to be some system of maintaining independence.
It wouldn’t be easy, and it wouldn’t be foolproof, but the instinct of most journalists – particularly on local papers – is to attack power. This is hard to do, particularly when the job of a journalist has become little more than to fill in the spaces around the ads with re-written press releases (because there are only two reporters on the paper), of course.

Anon also said: “If they fail, they fail - and I very much suspect that local blogs would arise to watch and report on local matters anyway.”
I don’t think this would happen, for reasons stated above.

*I used the word 'professionals' advisedly; there are lots of no-marks in local (and national) journalism. But there are plenty of intelligent and diligent people, too.

Dan said...

Filthy Smoker said: Secondly, name one country where fearless investigative journalism has ever been served by closing down the competition and nationalising the press.

Fair point. But then 'fearless investigative journalism' isn't served by the disappearance of the press, either.

Speaking for myself, as an avowed hater in general of all nationalisation:

a) I would only advocate any nationalisation when it's impractical to operate privately (eg the army, the police)

b)While private is almost always better, there is no specific reason why nationalised bodies cannot work well; the US Army isn't private, but it's the best at what it does in the world.

c) I personally am not talking about nationalising the press anyway - specifically why I suggested local funding.

d) Polly Toynbee is a cretin.

Dan said...

John Band said: I'd agree with this (that some things are worth paying for out of tax, and one of them is the scrutiny of the executive at local and national level). But don't write cheques to local newspapers - simply make it compulsory for, and provide funding for, all court proceedings (redacted in line with existing reporting restrictions) and for all council minutes to be published online.

Call me paranoid, but I think it would be far better to have the courts and councils scrutinised by outside parties.
Additionally, an awful lot of people are not online, or have jobs which don't involve computers.
Of course, many local papers used to print every cough and spit from council meetings and courts anyway; I remember labouring over the magistrates' court printouts, dictating the reams of TV licence non-payers, burglars and occasional heavyweight criminals for reprint in the paper the following day.

Ian B said...

My argument here is that it's looking at the wrong end of the problem. By talking about public scrutiny, we accept that political bodies need scrutiny. That implies that left to their own devices, they are untrustworthy. They are.

No "scrutiny" can do an effective job. It will never have the resources, it will concentrate on the wrong things, and it will be coopted and subverted. Whatever scrutinisers you appoint, ultimately you've just appointed another bastion of the Enemy. The problem is elsewhere.

The problem is the public bodies themselves. The problem is that they are appointed as masters without restraint, rather than as underlings. Until they are so eviscerated and restrained that they cannot do any harm because they have no power to do so, they will do harm, scrutiny or not. The occasional punch and judy show where some asshat gets into trouble for buying his mistress presents with public funds might titillate the public, but makes no difference to the fundamentally corrupt nature of all public bodies. The existence of the Little Poggington Advertiser And Mail makes fuck all difference to that. Neither will greater democracy or more democracy or posting everything online. The problem is allowing these shits to have arbitrary power.

Bastiat said it two centuries ago; the masses were clamouring for the franchise only because their masters had power to harm them. Take that away, and the problem is solved.

gordon-bennett said...

Point 1. I'll be glad to see the the demise of my local paper - the East Kent fucking Mercury.

A snivelling, cowardly nulabia supporting collection of drivel edited and compiled by socialist morons barely out of their teens.

Wankers.

Point 2. To polly toynbee: what's changed to bring on this hissy fit all of a sudden? The grauniad has been losing money for years and has had to be supported by cross subsidy from AutoCar. Why start whining now?

WV: panit (a message to toynbee.)

Anonymous said...

If we get to a situation where public bodies are 'eviscerated and restrained that they cannot do any harm because they have no power to do so' then, ipso facto, they will be able to do no good, either.

Unless it is your argument that public bodies can never do any good?

In which case, you presumably don't require a police force, an army, any system of civil or criminal law etc?

Good luck with that.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"The grauniad has been losing money for years and has had to be supported by cross subsidy from AutoCar. Why start whining now?"

GMG does not own AutoTrader any more; it is now technically owned by the Trader Media Group (of which GMG is one partner).

Anon,

"Unless it is your argument that public bodies can never do any good?"

They very rarely do good, and they never do anything without unintended consequences.

"In which case, you presumably don't require a police force, an army, any system of civil or criminal law etc?"

No, you arse: but once the law is in place, you do not need to change it. You only actually need one law: "No person may initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property."

The police only have one purpose: to act as the arm of the law.

The courts only have one purpose: the uphold the law.

Once this is set up, what, precisely, do you need to change?

DK

Bill Sticker said...

No more Monbiot or Toynbee? Oh dear (Evil snigger). I say let the useless fools and the GMG go. Maybe they could be re trained to do my old job (Huge uproarious guffaw).

FlipC said...

Ian B: "By talking about public scrutiny, we accept that political bodies need scrutiny.
...
Whatever scrutinisers you appoint, ultimately you've just appointed another bastion of the Enemy.
...
The problem is allowing these shits to have arbitrary power."

DK: "The police only have one purpose: to act as the arm of the law.

The courts only have one purpose: the uphold the law.

Once this is set up, what, precisely, do you need to change?"

So if the police and courts are given limited power to do this, who is going to ensure that they don't breach those conditions and start abusing their positions?

Ian B said...

FlipC-

In a libertarian polity, the few organs of the state (courts, police) don't have any "power". They do a job, and that's it.

It's a fundamental matter of philosophy; whether they have "power" or whether they are servants. If they have the capacity to hold power over people, you've set your system up wrong. Tear it down, start again.

The problem with government is it evolved out of monarchy, and we still attribute it, unthinkingly, the same attributes. We elect an absolute monarch in Britain, every five years or so. It's that thing we have to change. If we can get our heads around the idea of appointing an administrator rather than acclaiming a leader, we've won most of the battle.

Anonymous said...

DK: Public bodies very rarely do good, and they never do anything without unintended consequences."

Unlike private bodies, I suppose? No human being has ever done anything without unintended consequences.

DK: "No, you arse: but once the law is in place, you do not need to change it. You only actually need one law: "No person may initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property."
The police only have one purpose: to act as the arm of the law.
The courts only have one purpose: the uphold the law."

Er, right. So you sell widgets. I buy a widget from you. I get it home and it breaks.
I say this is down to faulty manufacture, you say it's down to me handling it like a cunt.
The purpose of the courts in this case is to decide which of us is lying, or mistaken, or incompetent, or whether we share the blame for what happened 50-50, or 70-30, or 62-48 (unless you're going to hold your hands up to faulty workmanship, assuming you even know it's faulty).
Already, it's not the case that the courts have 'only one purpose', that of 'upholding the law' - because what does the law have to say about this?
Nothing, unless 'the law' knows something no-one else does.
So under your syste, the same happens and happens now: there's a court case, with witnesses and arbitrators, and it's a matter of hearing evidence, deciding the facts, reaching a judgment, deciding on punishment or compensation - which then has to be enforced, of course.
I mean, I love the simplicity of your 'one law' but for what it's worth you might as well have one - even simpler - law which says 'Everyone must be nice to everyone else.' That would be great, no?

Ian B: "In a libertarian polity, the few organs of the state (courts, police) don't have any "power". They do a job"

I call the police locking people up against their will a 'power' you just call it a 'job'? That's a 'libertarian polity', is it? Sounds like a grand way of saying nothing to me.

Anonymous said...

Oops:

So under your system, the same happens as happens now:

Polly Poisons The Air said...

Poison Toynbee writes: 'Then oblige local councils to stop wasting money on their own Pravda sheets'


What the fuck?? Your disgusting government has spent billions inventing non-jobs to advertise in the Guardian. It is also in process of spending so much on advertising it's 'Real Help Now' slogan on 'independent television' that real advertisers are being squeezed out on price.

Jesus fucking Christ on a bloody bike!! You are absolutely fucking priceless! You really are.

Polly, please stop sucking the life's blood out of the workers and soldiers you hypocritical, avaricious, pathetic bag of shite.

PS: Thanks DK for the nod about the Arsebook Group.

FlipC said...

DK "No person may initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property."

So you live in a libertarian system and I decide to beat you up that is initiate force against another your life. The police are called in and... do what exactly? They can't hold me that'd be initiating force against my liberty, the courts can't imprison me for the same reason. They could try to fine me, but I won't pay; pfft what are they going to do?

The point is that to do their "job" the police need to be able to initiate force against your liberty as do the courts.

So if they can't do this they serve no purpose, but if they can then they require scrutiny.

Unless you can detail a system whereby the police and courts can detain someone against their will and not be placed in a position of power over them?

Devil's Kitchen said...

FlipC,

"DK "No person may initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property."

So you live in a libertarian system and I decide to beat you up that is initiate force against another your life. The police are called in and... do what exactly? They can't hold me that'd be initiating force against my liberty, the courts can't imprison me for the same reason."


If we are going to get purely philosophical about this...

Under libertarian philosophy, I am allowed to defend myself against an initiation of force. I am also allowed to ask people to help defend me against said initiation of force -- that is what the police and the courts do.

Alternatively, of course, I could just shoot the person who tries to beat me up.

On a practical basis, of course, we actually allow the state to initiate force -- we grant it an exception. This is the only reason that the state is allowed to raise any tax at all.

DK

DK

David Gillies said...

Ian B: stripping government of most of its authority over us would also have the salutary effect of curbing rent-seeking and regulatory capture. The bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. "Because that's where the money is," quoth Willie. Why do big business and fake charity shysters buzz round politicians like bluebottles round a turd? Because that's where the power (mainly the power to confiscate and redistribute) is. If you want to get money out of politics, get politics out of money first.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

"Er, right. So you sell widgets. I buy a widget from you. I get it home and it breaks.
I say this is down to faulty manufacture, you say it's down to me handling it like a cunt.
The purpose of the courts in this case is to decide which of us is lying, or mistaken, or incompetent, or whether we share the blame for what happened 50-50, or 70-30, or 62-48 (unless you're going to hold your hands up to faulty workmanship, assuming you even know it's faulty).
Already, it's not the case that the courts have 'only one purpose', that of 'upholding the law' - because what does the law have to say about this?
Nothing, unless 'the law' knows something no-one else does."


What are you -- twelve?

In your example, said court upholds the law by deciding whether I have broken the law -- by selling you something that was not fit for purpose (fraud) -- or whether you have have broken the law by trying to claim something off me (the price of the widget) unjustly because you, in fact, broke it (also fraud).

The court decides which one of us has broken the law: that is what the people that make up the court are for. The court then decides the extent of the blame and applies suitable sanction.

Ultimately though, the only reason that they are having to make that decision is because the job of said court is to uphold said law.

DK

FlipC said...

DK,

However that leads me back to my first point regarding Ian B's stating that scrutiny is required only when these bodies are given arbitrary power in that they require scrutiny if they're given any sort of power.

Which then leads to as he stated "Whatever scrutinisers you appoint, ultimately you've just appointed another bastion of the Enemy."

The conclusion to which is you don't appoint any scrutinisers at all you simply have, as part of a free market system, those who make money from watching them.

Except of course then we're trapped in a lovely little situation that those who make money from such tattle will always manage to find it in order to keep the money flowing or they end up turning to other tattle and letting their 'primary' function slip as it shows up as less profitable on the time/effort front.

Oh wait that'd be the MSM as it is now; which, in a way, is where this discussion started.

Kev said...

"On a practical basis, of course, we actually allow the state to initiate force -- we grant it an exception."

So who watches the state when it 'initiates force' on our behalf? Not the media, obviously. So... er... bloggers? Bloggers who do fuck all except link to newspaper websites and make pithy remarks about the stories thereupon? Yep, can see how that's gonna work :-)

Meanwhile, Ian B said that if 'they' have 'the capacity to hold power over people' the 'system' needs 'tearing down'.

If 'they' includes the police, and the police are out there 'initiating force' left, right and centre, there's going to be a fucking lot of tearing down systems and starting new ones.

That's if daft cunts like you two are put in charge which, thank fuckety fuck, you're never going to be.

Anonymous said...

"In your example, said court upholds the law by deciding whether I have broken the law -- by selling you something that was not fit for purpose (fraud) -- or whether you have have broken the law by trying to claim something off me (the price of the widget) unjustly because you, in fact, broke it (also fraud).

The court decides which one of us has broken the law: that is what the people that make up the court are for. The court then decides the extent of the blame and applies suitable sanction."

So what are you? Six?

In what way does the situation you describe above differ from the system we have now?

The point is, your simple 'one law' isn't one law at all - every single word of it opens a dozen doors to arguments about what has actually happened.

Anonymous said...

Buy my product.

Buy my product or I'll get the government to steal your money, under threat of violence, and give it to me.

All hail the brave new socialist dawn.

Apparently not only are you no longer capable of deciding whether and how to smoke, drink, eat, exercise or spend your own money. Now you need the government to decree which newspapers you should read.

Oceania is here. 1984 is now.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

So what are you -- three?

"In what way does the situation you describe above differ from the system we have now?"

NuLabour have, in the last twelve years, created something like 3,000 new crinimal offences. Many people have no idea what's legal or not these days.

One law is quite easily understandable.

If you cannot see the difference between one law and many thousands, then you are beyond help.

"The point is, your simple 'one law' isn't one law at all - every single word of it opens a dozen doors to arguments about what has actually happened."

However, the courts are there – as they should be – to decide which party is in the wrong according to the evidence.

DK

Anonymous said...

DK - so what are you? One and a half? I hate Labour, believe me, and their poxy laws. Yes, they’ve brought in too many - guess what, you don’t have to be a 'libertarian' to see that.
But it's not as simple as one law which says 'play nice, or else'. Sadly.
All that does is create Jarndyce and fucking Jarndyce for ever and a day, as the courts try every case from first principles, according to your precious single law.
Unless you’re allowing precedent… which means more laws, just ones created by judges.
I prefer that, personally, because precedent seeks to apply common principles to common facts and thereby tries to ensure fairness, consistency, equality, that sort of thing.
If 1,000 different fucking broken widget cases with broadly the same facts come before the courts, the courts can look back at previous cases to assist in deciding the instant one.
But wait.
Even trying 1,000 cases with precedent to assist will take forever and put fucking millions in the pockets of lawyers.
What about drawing up a statute to cover these common issues?
One that covers widget cases and says, say, ‘you're the manufacturer, it's up to you to make sure these fucking widgets can't break under anything less than 1000psi’.
Oooh, but that’s two laws. Fuck me, we can’t have that, can we? Yes, it would shorten the fucking time involved in otherwise trying every single widget case from first fucking principles along the lines of your playschool 'one law' system, but no, one law good, two laws bad.
Thank fuck you're only in charge of a blog, eh?

Ian B said...

Kev, who is a twat, said-

Meanwhile, Ian B said that if 'they' have 'the capacity to hold power over people' the 'system' needs 'tearing down'.

If 'they' includes the police, and the police are out there 'initiating force' left, right and centre, there's going to be a fucking lot of tearing down systems and starting new ones.

That's if daft cunts like you two are put in charge which, thank fuckety fuck, you're never going to be.


It's tiresome. I mean, it's really fucking tedious. Having to explain this same basic shit over and over again to saloon bar philosophers who are too busy trying to sound clever that they never have time to think about anything.

It's simple stuff. And first off, I wasn't addressing the fucking police, I was talking about fucking councils and governments. But let's go with the police, eh?

How do we stop the police having power over us? We don't give them "power" over us. We hire them to do a job, set the parameters of that job. That's it. Not difficult.

Like, it's your job to catch burglars and murderers. That isn't giving them power over us, since non-burglars and non-murderers don't interact with the police. Not difficult, is it?

Okay, how do we prevent them overstepping the mark? Rules. We say, you aren't allowed to hold people without charge. You aren't allowed to punish people unless they've had a full trial. You're not allowed to demand fines or other arbitrary levies without a trial.

You make laws simple without arbitrary judgement by police officers, such that it is possible for any person to know if they are breaking the law, rather than it being in the gift of an officer to decide either way.

It's not fucking difficult, really. It's not even fucking radical. It's basically the same cunting legal system England has always had, without the recent "innovations". It sets the police as people doing a job at the request of the citizenry, not as masters with power.

And you may say, well, what if they just ignore the rules and lock people up without trial? Well, then you've got a different problem; you've got a private army operating outside the law, and if that happens your system has seriously failed and, yes, you tear it down, and start again.

Hiring people to do a job is not the same as giving them power, and Kev, you need to get your fucking head around that, instead of wanking around the internet calling other people cunts. You cunt.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Anon,

I should have made it clear (as I did in a post some time ago) that my "one law" really applies to criminal law. But, since I did not, let's engage further with your example...

"Even trying 1,000 cases with precedent to assist will take forever and put fucking millions in the pockets of lawyers."

What are you -- nine months old?

The reasons that lawyers currently cost so much are:

1) Lawyers have to spend a lot of time (and money) becoming lawyers, so they recoup those costs through high fees.

2) They spend so much time and money because the law is complicated (and gets more so every year).

3) Because it gets so complicated, you have to hire a lawyer: few laymen would be able to defend themselves.

4) Thus, there is always demand for lawyers and, especially, barristers.

5) The Law Society deliberately constricts the number of barristers available so that their fees remain high through the economics of supply and demand.

So, the very complexity of the law actually leads directly to the cost of being able to resort to it; the original idea was that any man could have recourse to the law, but the high price now limits that severely.

"What about drawing up a statute to cover these common issues?"

How about not doing so?

"One that covers widget cases and says, say, ‘you're the manufacturer, it's up to you to make sure these fucking widgets can't break under anything less than 1000psi’."

How about not doing that? How about one manufacturer getting sued, and other manufacturers either

1) voluntarily improving their product in order not to get sued, or

2) voluntarily stating clearly the product's limitations.

But... but... that would mean that businessmen would act rationally. That would never happen, eh?

"Oooh, but that’s two laws. Fuck me, we can’t have that, can we? Yes, it would shorten the fucking time involved in otherwise trying every single widget case from first fucking principles along the lines of your playschool 'one law' system, but no, one law good, two laws bad."

So, in your view, convenience takes precedence over justice? Glad that you've got your priorities straight.

DK

North Northwester said...

Ian B get a blog, for gossakes!


Dan said:
"Personally, I would be prepared to give taxpayers' money to newspapers to keep them going, because I fear the alternative - the total lack of scrutiny - that would accompany their final demise."

Could be done by amateurs or advertising-based websites such as:
http://www.pendletoday.co.uk/

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/pendle/

http://www.burnleycitizen.co.uk/news/pendle/


"However, there would be several caveats to this.

1. The money would come from local council taxes and paid out of savings made elsewhere (we could lose a few outreach workers, smoking cessation co-ordinators and climate change impact managers)."

Love to see the political party with the will to do that Dan. I hope it happens.

"All the nonsense which currently gets put through my door by the local authority - glossy leaflets boasting about how great they are - would cease and would have to be included in the local newspaper on a page making clear that it was advertising and not editorial."

And here's the problem - local council have jobs. To advertise. They place them with friends, ie. "Local councillor starts duck race for charity," rather than with enemies who publish, eg, "Local councillor places £130,000 refurbishment contract with undicharged bankrupt brother-in-law."

Your theory needs some more polish and some integrity enforcement, I think.
And I'd go for on-line papers, not dead tree: the 18th Century, this is not - unless you share the theory hearabouts about Mr. Mandleson, cake, and let us eat it...?

Devil's Kitchen said...

"Ian B get a blog, for gossakes!"

Hear, hear! Or write for this one...

DK

http://www.cctvstar.blogspot.com said...

I was relatively at peace this evening until I read your article. Now my blood is boiling and I'm having to wipe the flecks of spittle from my monitor. How I loathe that bulldog-faced bitch. How I would love to bludgeon her to death with a brick

gordon-bennett said...

Get in line behind the rest of us.

Budgie said...

Dan said: "No, I didn’t say ‘they don't actually do the job’ (of scrutinising local powers), I said few do."

No, you said "... but which few (in any) local newspapers now do ...". I assumed that "in any" was a typo for "if any". Maybe this interpretation is wrong but I sure would appreciate an explanation for "in any" if that's the case.

In any case if "few" do then the majority don't. So what I said is true in the majority of cases.

Dan also said: "If you do accept that local officials should be scrutinised, ..."

What a weasel word is "scrutinised" redolent of the europhiles' view that Westminster is there to "scrutinise" EU laws: ie do nothing. Actually the police are there to ensure that law breaking local officials are stopped (not "scrutinised") and the opposition is there to hold the local officials to political account.

A local paper should report this activity, but as you so eloquently didn't say, the majority of them don't.

Local papers should not have taxpayer subsidy: if they were less boring and more competent they would sell more so not needing such a subsidy.

FlipC said...

Ian B - You're not answering the question just re-iterating your point in a different way.

So the police are given a job and a set of rules. Make the rules obvious so anyone can tell if they're breaking the law.

Oh yes that'll work - the police lock someone up without charge, said person complains, and the police tell them to shut the fuck up or they'll beat nine shades of shit out of them.

Take it to court and the police produce the fabricated evidence that they had charged you before holding and that you subsequently fell down the stairs/attacked an officer sustaining said injuries.

So once again - who makes sure that the police are following the rules?

Anonymous said...

OH is right. The only reason that the Grauniad can still afford to exist is that it is subsidised by the public sector job advertisements i carriers.

I sincerely hope that the Tories' first action in office is to ban the press advertisement of public jobs, not least because there should be far fewer of them

Dan said...

Apologies in adavcne for the length and tedium of this reply! Work beckons, so my last word on the subject you may be glad to hear.

North Northwester said: "And here's the problem - local council have jobs. To advertise. They place them with friends, ie. "Local councillor starts duck race for charity," rather than with enemies who publish, eg, "Local councillor places £130,000 refurbishment contract with undischarged bankrupt brother-in-law."
Your theory needs some more polish and some integrity enforcement, I think.
And I'd go for on-line papers, not dead tree: the 18th Century, this is not - unless you share the theory hearabouts about Mr. Mandleson, cake, and let us eat it...?"


Re recruitment, I'd suggest that if there was local tax funding (although I suspect it would work more like a guarantee) it would also be required of the local authority that it advertised in the local paper and nowhere else (except online, obviously) to allow advertising spend to defray tax costs.

Re integrity, yes, it would need working on. I'm not saying this is an ideal proposal, far from it, just that a world without local papers ever sitting in council meetings etc is quite scary - not because the local papers perform particularly well but because of how the authorities might act if there was no-one there at all. (In courts, for instance, even at a regional newspapwer level, court orders prohibiting naming defendants, or imposing other restrictions, are regularly and successfully challenged by newspapers; this would not be likely to happen if the papers went away. The judges would, I suspect, impose far more restrictions on reporting, close more courts etc - though maybe I have them wrong and they're all slaves to openness!)

I'd keep paper newspapers going, as well as online, for reasons stated above - many people don't have online access.

Budgie said: "No, you said "... but which few (in any) local newspapers now do ...". I assumed that "in any" was a typo for "if any".

Yes, sorry, it was a typo for 'if any'; to be honest, I don't read all the country's regional papers and I don't know what number of them cover local authorities and to what extent. I do know that it is in decline; I suppose should have said that I SUSPECT few - if any - COVER IT AS WELL AS ONCE THEY DID. Apologies for that. However, my main point remains this: "The question, I think, is whether or not you think it's a good thing for local officials to be under scrutiny?"

Budgie also said: "In any case if "few" do then the majority don't. So what I said is true in the majority of cases."

Yes, but I don't see that as a good thing. The fact that something is not currently being done well is not necessarily an argument for not doing it at all, it may also be - as I think in this case it is - an argument for doing it better (though a lot relies on the answer to my question above, of course).

Budgie also said: "What a weasel word is "scrutinised" redolent of the europhiles' view that Westminster is there to "scrutinise" EU laws: ie do nothing. Actually the police are there to ensure that law breaking local officials are stopped (not "scrutinised") and the opposition is there to hold the local officials to political account.

Yes, I agree it is a bit of a weasel word; I wrote in haste and couldn't immediately think of a better one. How about 'exposed' or 'watched'?
I agree that the police are there to deal with transgressions of the law, but it's a fact that many, many arrests have started out with journalistic exposure.
And what about those where the police decline to get involved? Where it's perhaps not criminal, but just something voters ought to know about?

Budgie said: "A local paper should report this activity, but as you so eloquently didn't say, the majority of them don't.

Yes, but as I say above, they used to, assiduously in many cases, and one of the main reasons they no longer do (to a greater or lesser extent) is because they have no reporters - in some cases, almost literally.
Plus - again - because something is not currently being done well is not an argument for not doing it at all, it may also be an argument for doing it better.

Budgie also said: "Local papers should not have taxpayer subsidy: if they were less boring and more competent they would sell more so not needing such a subsidy.

I agree - this would happen in a perfect world. But in a perfect world there would be no cause for concern at council meetings going uncovered, magistrates and crown courts likewise being ignored, the police not being questioned by local hacks and so on and so forth.
I repeat - the idea of subsidising papers is awful; but it could be done at very little cost, with some checks and balances to ensure impartiality and, awful as it would be, it would be better than no local coverage at all.

In national terms, as they progress in the same way, we will end up with the BBC, OK Magazine and nothing else, a thought which fills me with dread.
Do I want the taxpayer to subsidise the national press? No.
Do I want the government to go about its business unmolested by anyone except Robert Peston and Andrew Marr? Hell, no.

Vicola said...

"Good journalism"? Polly wouldn't know good journalism if it came up and walloped her in her wobbly jowls with an oversized mackerel. That can be easily spotted by reading any of the badly research tripe she churns out on a regualr basis, shite that most people would be ashamed to put their name to. I'd rather see my tax money spent on crack for the homeless than propping up a private company just so Polly can keep her overpaid job.

The Amazing Toad said...

Hmmm...DK,

Something is most definately "up". Your piece reminded me of something I heard on R4 the other week whilst I was in the car. That creature Dennis McShane (former pres. of the NUJ)was waffling on about the plight of local newspapers. He initially said that "something should be done....I don't quite know what.." and then later in the program suggested that central government could give aid in the form of advertising. Christ, that made me sit up - Labour's client base spreading into local news!

I just Googled McShane and relevant keywords and came up with this; http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2009/mar/03/denis-macshane-newspapers

McShane: "whereas it is possible to have politicians without democracy, I do not believe that it is possible to have democracy without independent journalism, and print media are essential"

..and...

"I do not see how local councils, regional authorities, let alone Whitehall and Westminster can be held to account without print journalism."

In the light of the MSM's abject failure earlier this week re Brown/Hannan, this looks especially specious.

Prepare for some astroturfing on this matter!

Robin said...

Well I`m worried that Polly might leave the country if the Guardian goes down. Why dont we catch her and put her in a vat of liquid, like in Carry on Screaming, and then keep her in a museum of relics or an asylum centre ?

The Remittance Man said...

It amuses me to think of Polly setting up a blog to carry her drivel. I wonder how many readers she would collect without the support of GMG.

Less than my own paltry readership I suspect.

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

I'd really like to shag Polly

newsprint said...

There is a case for local newspapers to survive as a way of recording events (despite their tendency to carry trivial stories) but having worked on a local newspaper and seen its decline first hand, I can assure you their days are numbered by the simple expedient of readers getting too old.

Most local newspapers are losing sales as the readers literally die off. Younger people see no need for paying for something they don't want to read - or maybe can't read. Advertising will always depend on a healthy economy and things ain't looking too bright right now.

Of course our old Polly wants to fly a flag for the lesser of her trade. If nothing else it deflects criticism from young people, especially those who want to peddle their left-wing opinions in newspapers. The old bag doesn't want anyone to claim she's taking too much money for what she does.

The Grauniad has long relied on civil service/state jobs advertising to claw money in to pay inflated wages for ho-hum journos, but how good of them to be the flag-bearers for the brave new world of subsidised (and therefore controllable) opinion and engineered news.

If you are a lefty it makes real sense to be paid directly by the people you want to elevate and tell lies for.

Independent? We aren't. Guardian? We wouldn't do that.

Barry Tebb said...

Polly Toynbee is silly and sensible by turns,even the Sun got it right over Sharon Shoesmith.The real betrayers of truth are the local weeklies-in particular the Camden New Journal and the Ham n'High who fell for Andrew Way's sob story about IT problems losing him his job when he lost it quite spectaculary for himself by his colossal vanity, ignorance and arrogance.These bottom of the hill hacks wouldn't know truth if it came up and buggered them in broad daylight,to quote my favourite gay poet,Allen Ginsberg.Way was notorious for promoting managers whose management style was as bad as his own and I hope they share his fate and depart to the former colonies. As for the local journalists even they did not get the story as wrong as the Evening Standard,whose health correspondent let Way manipulate her ino believing that the NHS couldnt keep its best managers-sacking six of its worst in as many weeks is a huge advance and lives will be saved as a result.The sacked six deserve all they got and that the press have been so hoodwinked shows only too well how easily press officers get their bosses version into print while the only place the truth can any longer be found is here on the Devil's Kitchen.