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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And we're back. Sort of.

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 10:25:00 pm

Your humble Devil is most gratified by the messages of support that he received when comtemplating retirement, and is pleased to assure his readers that he is back.

It is as though taking the hiatus—the very act of actively taking a few days off—has allowed me to take stock and find pleasure in writing again. I'm sure that it won't be the last occasion that I take some time off—I'm pretty sure that it isn't the first—but your humble Devil is back in the driving seat.

Having said that, I had intended to spend this evening doing a sweary round-up of the latest vicious assaults by the Righteous on the pleasurable activity known as "drinking"; however, I am afraid that it will have to wait.

I decided, for 'tis the season, to watch Wimbledon: I do love films in which the self-effacing, rather posh Englishman comes out on top. I can't imagine why. Hem-hem.

This therapy—for therapy it is—was induced by reading this A List Apart article on "burnout" last night: after ticking five of the six signs that one may be "flirting with burnout" without hesitation, I have realised that I have been working, almost non-stop (including most evenings and weekends), since April last year.

As the article points out, it is all too easy to let work consume your life—especially as a web designer and when one is always attached to one's email, IM, phone, or whatever. Bouts of severe insomnia combined a constant background feeling of anxiety, are just two of the symptoms—I was so tired this morning that I fell over twice through dizziness before I'd got out of the flat. In short, I'm making myself ill.

So, I have decided that it's time to "stop, decompress, communicate, and focus": the blogging hiatus was a part of that process that I had unwittingly started. I have a little more work on my work-life balance to sort out, but part of that readjustment will be making more room for that weird "life" bit—and blogging is very much more "life" than "work".

Anyway, this has turned from the intended short apology notice into a small, confessional novella but the single point with which I started remains: you'll just have to wait until tomorrow for your humble Devil's attack on the Righteous of the Temperance Movement—but I shall endeavour to make it worth the wait...

Regards,

DK

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 10:25:00 pm


Madoff gets silly prison sentence

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 12:50:00 am

This cartoon comes from the December 2008 issue of the US magazine, Liberty. It might just as well have appeared in a British publication—had any of our MSM the balls to publish the truth.

The aptly-named Bernie Madoff has been sentenced.
Bernard Madoff has been given the maximum prison sentence of 150 years for masterminding a massive fraud that robbed investors of $65bn (£40bn).
...

Madoff's firm was investigated eight times by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the past 16 years, because it made exceptional returns.

The greedy buggers investors who piled into Madoff's firm seem not to have heard of the maxim "if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is". Although, to be fair to said investors, it is obvious that Madoff was, in fact, an exceptional con-man and that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was, in fact, quite spectacularly useless.

Madoff's crime, you will remember, was to run a Ponzi Scheme—in effect, a fraud in which investors' returns are paid purely from the money flowing in from new investors, rather than from any profit earned.

£40 billion pounds is, of course, an awful lot of money to have swindled over the course of nearly twenty years.

However, as I have consistently pointed out, Madoff's fraud is nowhere near the scale of the British governments' National Insurance—which has been running since 1911 and will defraud "investors" of some £104 billion this year alone [PDF].

The only major difference between NICs and Madoff's scam is that the latter's investors could choose whether or not they wished to invest in Madoff's scheme, and at what level.

Under NICs, not only must we pay 11% of our salary—under threat of fines and prison (whether we recognise that the wholescheme is a big, fat fraud or not)—but our employers must pay another 12.8% too.

And whilst Madoff—when faced with the prospect of being unable to repay the money—gave himself up, what is the response of our government? It is to press the gun to our heads once again, and insist that we not only up our investment into the scam but also that we make up the shortfall in delivery with yet more of our money—even though anyone on the median wage could source the services elsewhere for about half the money.

Yes, Madoff has committed a massive fraud. But it is absolutely fucking nothing compared to the colossal—and compulsory—Ponzi Scheme forced on the British people for nearly a century.

And whilst a weekend at Bernie's* will not be nearly so fun from now on, our politicians continue to live high on the hog (on money extorted from us) and suffer no legal consequences whatsoever.

Justice is a funny thing, eh?

* I couldn't resist it.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 12:50:00 am


Norwich North by-election

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 12:24:00 am

So, the anticipated date for the Norwich North by-election—triggered by the deselection and subsequent resignation of unrepentant, troughing Labour bastard Dr Ian Gibson—has been announced, and it is expected to be on the 23rd July.

On the day that ConHome announce that 18 year old Oliver Johnstone has become the youngest Conservative Association Chairman in history (a tip of the horns to Iain Dale), the Libertarian Party has announced that it is fielding the youngest candidate ever to stand for Parliament—18 year old Thomas Burridge.
Brown and Cameron and Clegg have all given their support to the involvement of younger people in the parliamentary system, now let's see what the voters think.

Thomas agrees and has this to say:
"Most sensible people will be saying 'what the hell does he know about anything?' Well this is what I do know: the last twelve years of Labour has left my generation in massive debt; my generation will be paying off the excesses of the last twelve years for the rest of our lives; not only my generation, but our as yet unborn children.

"Did we have any say in spending the rest of our lives in debt? No we did not.

"I am from the Debt Generation, and only LPUK has fresh answers from a new Generation."

At 18 Thomas is very mature, despite his very youthful looks, so don't be fooled, and don't be put off by the already mounting voices who are saying that he cannot know anything at 18.

Thomas recognises the debts, knows where the faults lie, and has answers and policies that can make a real difference to the way in which we are governed.

This is LPUK's first Parliamentary election and we are likely to be out-gunned and out-spent. However, we intend to adopt the same tactic that gained us 7% of the vote in the recent council election—we intend to go knocking on doors.

If you would like to help out—either financially or, just as importantly, on the ground—then we would love to have your support: I shall let you know in a wee bit how you can most effectively do that.

In the meantime, and via the Daily (Maybe), Ladbrokes' odds on LPUK winning in Norwich North are 500/1. Perhaps I'll shove a few quid on, just for a bit of a giggle...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/30/2009 12:24:00 am


Monday, June 29, 2009

Gordon Brown + Ed Balls = bankruptcy

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 04:20:00 am

Ed Balls: "I'm gonna get mediaeval on yo' ass. Oh no, wait.. That's wrong. What I meant to say was: 'by the time that we've finished with the economy, you'll know what it was like to live in mediaeval times'."

Seriously, is Gordon Brown living in some kind of fucking fantasy world?
Gordon Brown is to reject warnings about the scale of the public debt and press on with high levels of spending through the recession, according to the Prime Minister's closest [surely that should be "only"?—Ed.] ally Ed Balls.

What the hell? For fuck's sake, can't some Civil Servant go over there with a bloody abacus and do some simple sums for the Gobblin' King? Y'know, and illustrate that we cannot fucking afford this!
Mr Brown's determination to boost spending on frontline services will be underlined with the launch of his much vaunted national plan for public services on Monday.

His Building Britain's Future document includes a number of proposals which will require significant Government spending.

Fucking hellski...
This will include the announcements of new funding for social housing and the recruitment of 100,000 personal tutors as part of an education White Paper.

Personal fucking tutors? I though that the education system under NuLabour was the best in the known world—what the hell do you need personal tutors for? Unless, of course, you have bollocksed up the education system which then begs the question—why the bloody hell do you think you'll be able to run a system of personal tutors, using yet more money that we don't have?
Mr Balls, the Children's Secretary, has defied suggestions from Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, that immediate action was required to check the levels of public borrowing.

Because, obviously, journo-turned-wonk Ed Balls—a creepy and undistinguished minister in the most financially profligate government in British history—is in a far better position to judge economic policy than the Governor of the Bank of England, eh?
He indicated increased spending on front line services such as schools and hospitals, and hinted for the first time that the police may also be protected from the cuts.

Yeah, well, once the people of this country wake up to the enormity of the fuck-up that you have delivered to them and their children (and probably their grandchildren), you are going to need the police on your side, aren't you?
The disclosure that ministers have little intention of reigning back on spending in the short term came as the Centre for Economics and Business Research warned that public spending was set to rise to 50 per cent of gross domestic product by the end of the next financial year.

How many different ways can I possibly say this: we cannot sustain this level of spending! No country can operate for any length of time when the government is spending more than half of the economic output!

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck fuck-fuck.
Alistair Darling, who narrowly avoided being replaced as Chancellor by Mr Balls in this month's reshuffle, was said to be planning to shield the true condition of the economy from the public in the run-up to the election by cancelling the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Treasury's biennial economic report card.

The last CSR was in 2007, but Mr Darling is said to feel that detailed forward-planning on the economy was impossible while the full impact and extent of the recession remained unclear. It is expected this will be after the next general election.

Oh. My. God. I... I... Just what the bloody hell is going on? How can these people possibly carry on spending at this rate when they know that they—we—don't have the money to pay for it?

Fucking hellski: we really are totally bastard screwed. Because Gordon Brown is living in a fucking fantasy world where al of this is somehow possible.

Fuck.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 04:20:00 am


Velvet Glove, Iron Fist—earn your favourite sweary bloggers some cash

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 03:54:00 am

Buy Velvet Glove, Iron Fist through The Kitchen and help pay for your favourite sweary bloggers...

As some will know, I attended the launch of Christopher Snowdon's new book—Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History Of Anti-Smoking—last week. The event was very kindly sponsored by FoREST (which was also celebrating its 30th Anniversary) and hosted at Boisdales: a very good time was had by all. Well, as far as I remember, anyway...

Anyway, as I have also said before, I have read the book and it is thoroughly excellent—not bee-in-your-bonnet preachy, just a very interesting history of the anti-smoking movements, the sometimes eccentrically charismatic or just plain barking people leading some of them, and a good deal of the research carried out on both sides.

Here are a selection of reviews:
  • "Magnificent...I can't speak highly enough of this extraordinary labour of love. I've read many books on smoking and this is best by far. It's a superb read."—Taking Liberties

  • "Really very good...a damn good read"—Devil's Kitchen

  • "Solidly researched, interesting and only occasionally strident"—The Economist

  • "The book is a feast. Prepare to learn a lot, and much in the nature of revelations, from a dedicated researcher and lucid prose stylist."—Forces

  • "I am proud to go on record in giving this book a fully deserved five stars."—Michael J. McFadden

  • "Fascinating. Extensive research, and extremely well-written...Excellent, excellent book. Would recommend it to anyone because it's such an eye-opener from a number of angles."—Amazon reviwer

  • "This is a great example of what history should be. It's thoroughly researched but doesn't get bogged down in the details, and it's so well written that it keeps your interest to the end."—Amazon reviewer

Now you can buy Velvet Glove, Iron Fist through The Kitchen and not only get free postage and packing but also earn money for both your humble Devil and the Filthy Smoker—for both of us contributed to Chris's book in our own small ways.

What more could you ask for...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 03:54:00 am


Not content with bringing our Parliament into disrepute, now—through ignorance—they would destroy it

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 02:48:00 am

So, the dust has settled on the expenses affair and our elected representatives have been found sorely lacking. MPs have raped and pillaged the expenses system, using our money not only to fund their lavish lifestyles but also to exempt themselves from the laws that they impose on us—most notably ensuring that they need pay no tax on benefits-in-kind (for many of these claims were not expenses at all, but benefits that, for anyone else, would have been taxable).

However, with truly astonishing stupidity, these venal idiots have come up with a set of solutions that are worse than the original problem. After all, fixing the expenses system would not have been difficult: forcing the annual publishing of all (unredacted) receipts, removing the benefits-in-kind tax exemption and allowing the recall of any MP by his or her constituents would have gone a long way to sort out even the perception of wrong-doing—let alone the ability to get away with it.

But no: the government has decided that they need yet another stupid, expensive and unaccountable QUANGO to ensure that our lords and masters can keep their pudgy, grasping little hands out of the cookie jar.

Your humble Devil opposed this from the outset—if only because it would potentially stop us being able to obtain the details of the expenses under FoI. Besides, if our 646 MPs are unable to manage themselves, then what possible moral (or practical) justification can they put forward for attempting to manage 60 million of us?

None.

However, it gets worse, as Raedwald pointed out, having examined the text of the proposed Bill.
Make no mistake. This is an anti-democratic, pernicious and malign little Bill. Consider this provision;
  • An order under this section may provide .. for specified property, rights and liabilities which subsist wholly or mainly for the purposes of the House of Commons to be transferred to the IPSA by a scheme

You see, Brown's new Quango doesn't merely check MPs' claims—it pays them. Rather than Parliament owning its own pay chest and being its own master, MPs will now be employed by the government. Brown has taken Parliament's resources from them. And who decides just how much of Parliament's property, rights and liabilities are to be transferred to the government? Why, a government minister, of course! With the complicity of Brown's Speaker, Mr Bercow;
  • A scheme made by virtue of subsection (8) is to be made by a Minister of the Crown with the consent of the person who chairs the House of Commons Commission.

The last thing this nation needs is an Act that would pack the chamber with vile apparatchiks and 'professional' politicians, rob the Commons of its authority, turn our parliament into just a department of government and treat our MPs—returned by us to Parliament to exercise the thunderous powers and sovereignty of that body—as mere hirelings, irrelevant juniors.

As distasteful as we may find the corrupt and venal behaviour of the 646 bastards within the House of Commons, we should not confuse or conflate these odious people with Parliament itself. And what this Bill proposes to do is to make Parliament the servant of the government—to make the entirety of Parliament subservient to the Executive.

This is incredibly dangerous; part of the problem with governments over the last few decades is that they have increasingly come to see themselves as the masters of this country—the supreme power over you and I.

What many bloggers have campaigned for is a return to the situation wherein we, the people, wield the power in this country, and wherein MPs acknowledge that we only lend them our power for a short term. And, yes, we were gleeful at the expenses scandals because we thought that the power of the people might be reasserted over a chastened Parliament.

This Bill proposes the very opposite.

Ineffective though the House has been at holding the Executive to account, it was at least able to do it in small respects—especially as the power of this government has waned.

This Bill would remove even that check on an over-weaning Executive, and it most certainly returns no power to us. Indeed, as EUReferendum notes in a comment on Raedwald's post, it does the very opposite.
Such is the sagging morale of our MPs, and their slender grasp of constitutional and democratic principles, that they look to approving this with minimal debate and scrutiny, intent only on "restoring public confidence" in Parliament. Not for them the lesson of the Dangerous Dogs Act, the classic illustration of the principle that rushed law is always bad law.

As to The Telegraph's concerns about inhibiting high-quality people from standing for Parliament, the main deterrent is the singular fact that, progressively, this institution has been robbed of its powers (with the willing assent of its incumbents). Yet this Bill seeks to neuter Parliament even further, continuing its march towards irrelevance.

What is lost here is the very rationale for having Parliament in the first place. It does not belong to the MPs, or government. It is—or should be—our Parliament, there as a bastion against an over-powerful and oppressive executive. Anything that diminishes Parliament diminishes us.

Having lost the plot so long ago, however, our MPs are now conspiring in destroying what little authority they have left. But while they act in haste, we will be the ones to repent at leisure.

I have argued for sometime that Parliament has been giving away powers—to the European Union—that it has no entitlement to: the power is, I repeated many times, lent to them for a period no longer than five years—at the end of which, it must be returned.

Once again, it seems that MPs simply do not get it: yes, they have behaved disgracefully, and they should feel suitably ashamed. Yes, many of them should resign—and some already have.

However, this Bill will not make amends—this Bill will not fix the system. Indeed, it is more akin to them—having been found with their hands in the till—murdering the shopkeeper and burning down the store.

All is not lost, however: as The Sunday Times reports, some MPs seem to have realised the enormity of this desecration and strapped on some testicles.
GORDON BROWN’S plans to create a legally enforceable “code of conduct” for MPs are in turmoil as MPs and peers prepare to reject the scheme.

At least four senior MPs are to table amendments to water down or remove the proposals from the Parliamentary Standards Bill, which is going through the Commons this week.

They include Sir Stuart Bell, the Labour MP on the Commons Commission; Sir George Young, who chairs the committee on standards and privileges; and Alan Duncan, the shadow leader of the Commons. The House of Lords has also threatened to throw out the scheme.

It has emerged that neither Jack Straw, the justice secretary, who is charged with pushing through the legislation, nor Harriet Harman, the leader of the Commons,who unveiled the bill last week, knew about the plans for a code of conduct until they were announced by No 10 in The Sunday Times. Whitehall officials drew up new clauses to “fit the press release”.

The wording of the proposed law leaves it open to individuals to take parliament, or MPs, to court. Malcolm Jack, the most senior Commons official, has warned of “litigants trying to make a point”.

Another key section of the bill raises the prospect that the words of MPs, evidence given by witnesses to select committees and other Commons business, could be used as evidence in criminal proceedings, which would undermine the tradition of free speech under “parliamentary privilege”.

Again, via EUReferendum, it seems that the danger is so severe that Mystic Mogg has been coaxed out of his box to bend his great mind to producing a stern warning.
The House of Commons is in danger of cutting its own constitutional throat, but the Clerk of the House is trying to stop them. The clerk is Malcolm Jack, a man of scholarship and courage who is the ultimate referee on all constitutional questions which affect the Commons. His core duty is to advise the House, its Speaker, the committees and MPs on the practice and procedure of the House, and its rights.

Last Friday Dr Jack sent a memorandum to the Standards Committee on the “Privilege Aspects of the Parliamentary Standards Bill”. He gives a serious warning about particular aspects of the Bill, which is expected to be rushed through both Houses of Parliament before the summer recess. The Lords is due to rise on July 21, so time would be very limited. Rushed legislation is usually a disaster, and this would be legislation in a panic.

No shit. The article is well worth reading in full, as Mystic outlines the main concerns with the Bill, and Dr Jack's pedigree and position. But his conclusion is spot on.
The morale of the Commons has of course been shaken by the expenses scandal. I have never seen a comparable loss of confidence. Any healthy institution wants to extend its own authority. The Parliamentary Standards Bill is seeking to deal with a problem which is only too real. Yet the remedy which has been proposed is to reduce the existing rights and functions of the House of Commons, including self-regulation. This is a move in the wrong direction. If the Commons cannot restore its reputation by doing its job better, it will certainly not do so by demonstrating its lack of confidence in its own authority.

The new Bill proposes to create a regulator — the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority — to be called “Ipsa”, which will act as an independent authority for disciplining Parliament. No one in his or her right mind would contemplate joining such a preposterous body, which will start with no authority and is likely to be abolished as soon as anyone finds out that it has been built on sand. Quangos are always vulnerable: they have too many enemies and hardly any friends. They are appointed by politicians to suit their self-interest.

The Clerk of the House should be trusted, partly because he is the 50th in his line, of whom the first was appointed in 1363. If Ipsa is now appointed by Gordon Brown in 2009, it will be lucky to survive through 2010. Britain needs a strong and independent and new House of Commons, which would mean an early election; no one needs an ipsy-dipsy quango.

Quite so. Not only are QUANGOs subject to cronyism and manipulation by higher powers—in this case, the government—but they are democratically unaccountable and that is precisely what is not required in this case.

We need more information published on the internet—with scrutiny being driven by bloggers, if necessary. And, crucially, we need a channel to be able to do something about any abuses that we find—such as the ability to recall MPs.

After all, have politicians not bemoaned the lack of public engagement? This apathy is caused—I, and others like me, believe—by the sense that we can never find out what these bastards are up to and, even if we could, there is nothing that we can do about it.

The publication of documents—such as department spending and MPs' expenses—would give people the opportunity to find out precisely where their money is going; the ability to recall MPs would give the people of this country the sense that they are able to ensure that our politicians are made accountable for their actions.

With a few simple strokes, we can go some way to making our politicians more honest, less proligate and less wasteful and we can re-engage the voters in the politics of this country.

Instead what they have presented us with is something that Raedwald quite rightly terms a Bill that...
... treats us all like fools and is as insulting as a gob of spittle in the face for the voters of Britain.

Well, seriously: what did you expect from the Cyclopean Gobblin' King?

The man has got to go, and so has this government; most of the rest of the MPs have proven themselves untrustworthy and stupid—at best. The only solution is an immediate General Election.

And how shall we force that...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/29/2009 02:48:00 am


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hate and anonymity

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 07:17:00 pm

Via Dizzy, I see that NuLabour is resorting to the desperate tactics of hatred, as reported by The Sunday Times.
“We don’t care if the commentators or the economists turn against us,” said one minister. “This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heart-lands, which we lost in the European elections. We don’t want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.”

Nice.

It strikes me that the Left always talk about "community" and "social justice" but, strangely, don't seem to apply it to their own. After all, if their supporters in the north really thought about these cuts then they might say to themselves, "do you know what? Maybe it is wrong that we keep voting in a government that steals the bread from the table of those in the south, to pay us feckless fuckers in the north."

No such fucking luck—because humans are fundamentally selfish creatures, and Lefties more than most.

But, on a tangential point, I can't actually judge the truth of this quote, because it is anonymous: what if this "one minister" isn't actually a minister? Or is actually Sir Ian Blair or something. Eh?

Come on, Fink, you cunt—give us a name. Where's the fucking name, Fink, you shitbag. Go on, give us the name. It's your duty to expose people, isn't it? You know, so that we can all judge whether they are who they say they are?

Come on, Fink, pull your finger out of your arsehole and go off, on your big white charger, to bring us the name of this so-called "minister". Ain't that what you do, Fink?

Or is it that you are just a hypocritical shitbag, Fink, still spending your weekends attempting to wash the oily taste of Rupert Murdoch's cock out of your filthy, fink mouth?

Come on, Fink: give us an answer—do...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 07:17:00 pm


LVT is not a good tax

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 02:38:00 pm

There are a good number of people wandering about this here blogosphere who advocate a Land Value Tax (LVT): often citing Adam Smith, they claim that it is the "least worst" tax.

Over at Samizdata, Johnathan Pearce delivers a pretty comprehensive smack-down of LVT—inspired by regular commenter (here and there) Ian B.
However, I wanted to post this by the regular commentator, IanB, as it was too good to leave at the bottom of a very long thread about the flawed idea that land, qua land, is special, and must be singled out for tax because of its supposed uniqueness, as distinct from say, income or consumption:
"Liberty is based on a different presumption which has the virtue of making sense, which is that people should own property and do with it as they wish, because it is their property. And, honestly, if I save up and buy some land and plant a big garden on it for my retirement, I don't care whether you think it would be better used for a glue factory because that would return you some externality that you can double charge for via your tax."

"This is why liberty and georgism are incompatible; you keep making claims on behalf of the community. Screw this "community" of yours. It has no rights or claims on me beyond the right to freely interact with me. The LVT is a crude social engineering plan. It attempts to maximise productivity of land. Liberty is not about maximising any statistical value- it is simply the principle that the person may do with themself and what is theirs what they wish. So long as they produce enough by whatever means to survive, there are no other demands upon their economic activity."

Exactly. Suffice to say, I doubt the LVT enthusiasts will give up (they are persistent, a bit like cockroaches that can apparently survive a nuclear blast). Question: why does this issue come up a lot on this site? Are we masochists? Well, libertarians obviously are against taxation, period, but there are grounds for debate on the least-worst form of tax; for what it is worth, some form of consumption tax is probably best in my view, not least because they tend to be fairly easy to collect, although there are still issues here.

Indeed, it is consumption taxes (preferably on luxuries) that I favour since they are as close to a voluntary tax as you can get—you don't have to buy things and thus you don't have to pay the tax.

And, of course, if the levels of tax are set, and the tax collected, locally, e.g. a Local Sales Tax, you can keep the levels of tax low through competition between different areas.

Further, consumption taxes, quite obviously, do take account of ability to pay: if you cannot afford to buy lots of nice shiny things, then you do not pay tax. If you are a multi-millionaire and you love nice shiny things, then you pay lots of tax. Very progressive, you see, but it doesn't disproportionately penalise people for the amount of money they earn.

Anyway, Johnathan continues to explain why LVT doesn't even work on its own terms, the first being the idea that LVT somehow stops property bubbles.
I don't know why Georgists should, for some reason, not give more weight to foolish central bank policy in causing asset price bubbles, or assume that property bubbles are bad, but other bubbles - like say, the dotcom one of the 1990s, are less so. One Georgist likes to raise the example of Hong Kong, which has a LVT. But that example won't fly as there have been big gyrations in the price of accomodation, which hardly suggests LVT did much to alleviate the situation, or by much. In fact I would say that proves pretty conclusively that LVT, on its own, cannot fix this sort of problem if monetary policy is deranged by Keynesian demand-management or other economic quackery.

Ah, yes, but at least land is fixed, is it not? Um...
There is another, even more fundamental problem with the Georgist position about land. The problem is that it does not distinguish between the fact that while land is, by definition, fixed, available land is not. This is why the likes of John Bates Clark, an economist of the late 19th Century, demolished the land value tax movement's arguments as did Murray Rothbard half a century later. Both men pointed out that the LVT argument ignores the fact that the price of land is driven by its marginal productivity, and in that sense is no different from labour or physical or human capital. To single out land for special tax treatment will lead to a misallocation of resources, encouraging more building density than is rational, etc. The total amount of land is fixed—obviously–but the total amount of sellable land is determined by the amount of marginal buyers and sellers, a very different thing. If demand is heavy enough, new land comes onstream. Just ask the Dutch.

Quite. Do go and read the rest of the post which, amongst other things, lays out Rothbard's case against Georgist taxes.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 02:38:00 pm


Big fucking numbers

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 01:32:00 pm

There's an illuminating article in The Telegraph today, pointing out that... well... pointing out that the government is spending our future at an alarming rate.
Treasury figures show that welfare payments will exceed income tax receipts by almost £25 billion. Normally, income tax receipts comfortably cover the benefits bill.

In 2008/09, gross income tax receipts were £152.5 billion. In the same year, social security benefits cost the Exchequer £150.1 billion.

In 2009/10, the Treasury is expecting to take in £140.5 billion in gross income tax receipts. Social security benefits are projected to be £164.7 billion.

The disparity between tax revenue and welfare costs was identified by Andrew Brough, a fund manager at Schroder Investment Management, who suggested that the amount of money spent on social protection could soon exceed that raised from both income tax and national insurance.

According to an official Treasury forecast, benefits will cost £170.9 billion in 2010/11. That is equal to what the Government will spend on the NHS, schools and universities combined.

Fucking hell. Seriously, what the fuck is going on? Oh, hang on: let Charlotte Gore tell you...
It’s this ignorance of the ‘opportunity cost’ of money taken from the private sector and individuals by the Government that continues to baffle and amaze me. I’ve said before myself, the Government now spends more in a year than the entire wage earners of Britain earn combined. If you think about it, that sort of figure—over 700 billion—is the equivalent of 28 million private sector jobs. That’s 700,000,000,000 divided into the average wage of £25k. 28 million jobs. More new jobs than there’s people in the country to do them.

Yet it actually buys us a mere 5 million public sector jobs. And the biggest reason given for protecting Government spending? It’ll cost jobs. Ha. Good one. What… wait? You’re serious? This is really happening?

Yes, I am afraid so. And I'm afraid, my dear Charlotte, that your lovely LibDemmy type people are not going to curtail this madness by even one iota. But that is another (fairly fucking short) discussion.

Anyway, it isn't jobs that we are generating here: it is free money for poor people. Oh, and people who decide to have children that they can't afford to pay for, and people who can't be arsed to work, and piss-poor plays that no one wants to watch, and crappy artists that no one wants to fund, and the fucking rest.

Your humble Devil pays just under £600 per month in income tax and NICs and gets... what? Oh yes, I get to be dictated to by a bunch of morons and party lapdogs. Thank fuck: I thought that I was being milked into penury for no good fucking reason whatso-fucking-ever.

I pay over £200 a month in petrol, of which about £160 is tax. Fan-fucking-tastic!

I pay another £138 a year—£11.50 per month—in car tax. Bonus!

I pay another £80 per month in Council Tax. I love it!

I pay 15% on just about everything that I buy. Whoopee!

Not including VAT, tax on cigarettes and tax on booze, I am being taxed at 35.5%: seriously, which is a fair old chunk. And I am not a high earner—I am only just above the median wage level.
This year, motorists will pay £26.6 billion in fuel duty. At the same time, the Government will pay out £27.2 billion debt interest to the investors who hold Treasury bonds.

Debt interest payments are growing rapidly. Grant Thornton, an accountancy firm has estimated that by 2013, debt interest will cost £58 billion, exceeding Government spending on education in England and almost as much as the Treasury raises from VAT.

The rising cost of welfare payments and debt interest represent a political embarrassment for Gordon Brown, who has described such spending as the "costs of failure."

Delivering his 2000 Budget speech, Mr Brown made clear that money spent on debt and welfare was money lost to the public services. He said: "Our promise was to reduce the costs of failure - the bills for unemployment and debt interest - in order to reallocate money to the key public services."

Well, it is the cost of failure, yes—except that it is not money lost to public services, it is money lost to the people who have earned it. It is a lost opportunity cost—what might those people have done with their money had they kept it?

They might have invested it, they might have spent it, they might have started businesses with it; they might not have got into so much debt, they might have been able to put down a decent deposit for a house, they might have sailed round the world. They might have used it to build wells in African shitholes, or donated it to those less fortunate in their own country. All of these things—and more—might have been done, and will now not be.

Some will, of course, say, "well, the government might have done these things too"—but that is to miss the point. The point is not simply that the government would have done these things inefficiently, but also that it is not the government's money—the government has no money except what it extorts from us at the barrel of a gun.

To return to the example of my own finances, once you throw in VAT and everything else, I am probably handing over half of everything that I earn to the government so that they can piss it away on people who decide that they want to have children, or decide that they want to get so fucked up on booze that they end up bothering A&E Charge Nurse on a Friday night.

The state is spending some £150 billion on benefits: if we accept the face figure of about 2.2 million unemployed, then each one of those people should be receiving about £68,000 per year.

Except that there are another 2.5 million on incapacity benefit. OK, well, even so, each one of those people should be receiving some £31,900 per year.

What's that? Of course they don't because there are other benefits? Well, yes: but why? Benefits should provide a safety net for when someone is out of work—or absolutely cannot work. Now, I'm pretty sure that they are not receiving £32k a year, so where the fuck is the rest of my money going?

Actually, most of the money is probably going to pay Civil Servants £40k a year in order to administer a system that doles out £3k a year to those who are out of work.

This really has to stop. And no, I am not in any way impressed by the main parties' squabbling over a billion here or a billion there—it is small change frankly. After all, the Tories aren't even proposing to cut government spending in real terms: they are only proposing to cut the rate of spending.

We simply cannot afford such footling crap from our politicians, and most people in this country understand that. As Eamonn Butler wrote at the ASI some time ago...
If the government sector had grown only in line with inflation, rather than far above it, taxpayers would be £200 billion better off—enough to abolish income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Eamonn reiterated this in the Telegraph this week...
If spending since 1997 had risen no faster than inflation, we would be spending a third less than we do now, and could abolish income tax, VAT, and council tax entirely.

The entire article makes depressing reading, laying out the full scale of the government's plofligacy—and the terrifying way in which NuLabour seem unable to grasp that they cannot simply carry on spending more than they take in tax: it's utterly unsustainable.

Eamonn does have a few sugestions as to how we can stop this insane spending spree, and try to bring the state books back into some semblance of order.
The task is to reduce public expenditure without it showing. A freeze on spending and recruitment for a couple of years, then pegging it to inflation, would be surprisingly effective at re-balancing the books. (If spending since 1997 had risen no faster than inflation, we would be spending a third less than we do now, and could abolish income tax, VAT, and council tax entirely.)

Another useful move would be to publish online every cheque the Government signs, so we can see what it is spending and where. Private firms would be able to show what they could do more cheaply. And citizens could point out where they think their money is being scandalously wasted, as with the £300 million on departments’ service contracts, wasted through bad management, or the £200 million lost through bad procurement of hospital buildings.

Then there are the IT projects, such as the NHS records system, that are billions over budget and months or years late (the Department of Employment alone spent £59 million on a computer system that did not work). Exposing such wasteful incompetence would help eliminate it. And do we really need to spend tens of billions on ID cards?

Along with the Royal Mail, we can privatise the Tote, Channel 4, BBC Worldwide, air traffic control and various utilities, which would bring in a handy £20 billion. And we can get rid of central bureaucracy by measures like simply handing head teachers their bit of the budget and telling them to get on and spend it as they see fit, rather than as Whitehall bureaucrats think they should. The same could go for health – give the budget to patients or their doctors, not to layers of bureaucracy such as the strategic health authorities. And the quangos need to be culled again: they have grown in number, cost and power under Brown. For what gain?

Meanwhile, dozens of local government officers are now paid more than £100,000 and retire on generous index-linked pensions – something now almost unknown among the private-sector employees that work to support them. As this newspaper reported yesterday, PricewaterhouseCoopers claims that 96 per cent of companies regard final salary schemes as unsustainable.

About a third of Child Benefit is little more than pin-money for the middle classes. It should be given to the poorest. By taking everyone on the minimum wage out of tax entirely, we would see a stampede into work by those who we presently make better off on benefits.

Another huge saving would be to speed up the plans to raise the pension age, reflecting improvements in health and longevity. This is by far the largest spending change one could make. Yes, many people would not like it – though others would be delighted to avoid forced retirement at 65. But it would be hugely symbolic – a return to honesty in the public finances, and an end of the idea that we can all live at someone else’s expense. If this recession has taught us anything, it should have taught the politicians that.

But this is only trying to fix the economic damage that NuLabour has wrought—the damage to Civil Liberties has been almost as egregious and just a frightening.

Make no mistake: this country is in a very fragile state, and I do not see any of the main three parties advocating the tough measures needed to right it.

The best that my Tory supporting friends can say about Cameron and his merry men is that the country will (probably) be slightly less fucked if the Tories get in. It's not an assertion that fills me with confidence.

When will the politicians wake up and smell the bankruptcy?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 01:32:00 pm


Statement of the fucking obvious

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 01:13:00 pm

In terms of quotes, this one from the trap-mouthed Vince Cable has to rank as one of those moments in which an MP seems to get it.
"We have to be much more honest with people than we have been in the past."

Oh really, Vince—ya think?

Still, it's nice to see a politician admitting that he and his colleagues have been lying through their teeth for the last god-knows-how-many years...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/28/2009 01:13:00 pm


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miscellaneous meanderings

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/27/2009 07:13:00 pm

In my day job, I deal with web development projects that require us to achieve very high levels of Web Accessibility*.

More and more of our clients are wanting to be able to put videos on their websites and want to know what is involved in doing so whilst still maintaining Accessibility. One of the things that you need to do is to provide a transcript, so that those who cannot see can understand what is actually in said video.

However, some things are extremely difficult to describe. Let's take the song Daniel, by Bat For Lashes—simply because I discovered it a couple of days ago and really like it. I particularly like the video, which features some rather beautiful, if dark, imagery.


Watched it? Excellent. Now, here's the Wikipedia write-up of this video...
Directed by Johan Renck, the music video was shot in January 2009. The music video starts with Khan in a room, alone, singing the song; and when the chorus sets in, black-clad "shadow" figures come from out of the dark and start to dance with her. Later in the video, Khan appears driving a car, and while she's crying, the shadows start to get into the car and touch her and she tries to fight them off. When she almost gives up, a boy (Daniel) appears in the middle of the street, and so she stops the car, runs up to him and embraces him.

I can't help thinking that it doesn't quite do the video justice. I mean, this paragraph does kind of describe what's going on—although I think that the writer has rather missed the violence in the "dance"—but it just seems a bit... well... limp.

Of course, it doesn't help that the written word has to be Accessible too; any copy on your website should be comprehensible to someone with eleven years of formal state education—so you cannot use sentences of more than fifteen words, or words of more than three syllables. Meaning that, ironically, the word "accessible" is not actually Accessible (and neither is "comprehensible").

Presumably this point would not be quite so restrictive were the state not so absolutely fucking incapable of teaching people to read and write their own bloody language.

As a case in point, the word "despotic"—although of only three syllables—is presumably not Accessible since, apparently, A-level History students are unaware of its meaning, as Deogolwulf points out...
Some of our country’s “advanced”-level students of history have been complaining about a question which appeared in an examination: “How far do you agree that Hitler’s role 1933-45 was one of despotic tyranny?”. The phrase “despotic tyranny” has caused some upset...
...

Doubtless it is sometimes difficult to determine the meaning of the various usages of words and phrases. I, for instance, have trouble understanding what “advanced” means.

What is so distressing about this is not that A-level students might be ignorant of the word—although that is, frankly, pretty fucking pathetic—but that they are cheerfully whining like little bitches with a skinned knee—and simultaneously proclaiming their fucking ignorance from the rooftops. And Laban Tall agrees...
What's at once impressive, pathetic and sad are the self-righteous complaints of the students. Look and despair. These are next year's university intake. And I'm sure they have worked hard, and are no less bright than previous generations. I seem to remember that the Brave New educational world was going to be skills-based, not facts-based - that students would be 'taught to learn' and then they'd be self-powered, self-motivated learners, 'accessing and evaluating a range of sources' etc etc, instead of all that dull rote stuff, those dates and Kings and Queens. Yet here they are shouting 'it wasn't in the book'. Don't tell me that it was all a load of leftie cobblers dreamed up by the Institute of Education the month after some particularly good Colombian arrived ?

As Laban also points out, it was all of five years ago that Batshit Miliband was making grand claims for NuLabour's education strategy.
The "Blair generation" will be the best educated in history, the school standards minister, David Miliband, promised yesterday as he backed a drive to engage parents more in their children's education.

Like every other NuLabour initiative, it seems that the education promises were fruitless, PR-soundbite icing, layered on top of a cake made of bollocks, shit and empty spin.

Because here we are, five years later, with fucking A-Level students pig-ignorant of quite basic vocabulary—and feeling entitled to moan about it—when really they should shut the fuck up and accept that it was their lack of knowledge of a pretty basic word in their own language that has tripped them up. At the same time, these students' teachers should hang their heads—or themselves—in shame.

Having said all of that, I suppose that it is no coincidence that NuLabour is not keen on teaching students words like "despotic" and "tyranny": after all, as is proposed in 1984, if you remove the vocabulary to describe certain things then you remove the ability to think them...

* I know The Kitchen isn't very accessible—it's through lack of time rather than a lack of knowledge. The next template will be as Accessible as I can make it.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/27/2009 07:13:00 pm


Change you can believe in...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/27/2009 12:31:00 am

I picked this up on Twitter, and it seems to be pretty fresh—here's the Washington Post.
White House Is Drafting Executive Order to Allow Indefinite Detention of Terror Suspects

The Obama administration, fearing a battle with Congress that could stall plans to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, is drafting an executive order that would reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely, according to three senior government officials with knowledge of White House deliberations.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war.

Now, ain't that change you can believe in, eh?

Fucking hellski: I knew this clown was going to be a fucking disaster, but Obama really is exceeding my expectations in terms of total, uncompromising fuck-wittery...


Yep: that's how you save the world, Barack: by imprisoning people without trial for just as long as you fucking please.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: fuck. Ing. Hell. Ski.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/27/2009 12:31:00 am


Friday, June 26, 2009

It's getting chilli

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/26/2009 11:11:00 pm

The Devil cooks up a strange brew...

Next weekend, your humble Devil will be heading down to Wiltshire next weekend in order to partake, once again, of The Englishman's hospitality and the Grand Annual Chilli Cook-off.

Last year, I sped down to the Devizes area on the spur of the moment; as such, I had prepared nothing and merely helped to prepare The Englishman's entry.

This year, however, your humble Devil and Bella will be entering the competition—with The Devil's Brew...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/26/2009 11:11:00 pm


Will we ever trust doctors again?

Posted by The Filthy Smoker at 6/26/2009 09:10:00 pm

Professor Ian Gilmore: cuntIan Gilmore: His guitar playing on Shine on You Crazy Diamond was sublime but these days he's a proper cunt.

(nb. I am not DK)

The Lancet has decided to dedicate a whole issue to pushing the fuck-me-I-never-saw-that-coming anti-booze crusade that all us paranoid libertarians said would inevitably follow the war on tabs as a result of the slippery slope that apparently doesn't fucking exist.

Parading it to the blinkered morons of the Fourth Estate is ubiquitous arsehole Ian Gilmore, who makes the connection between smoking and drinking explicit:
"We need an international framework convention for alcohol control, similar to that on tobacco, as soon as possible, to put into practice the evidence-based measures needed to reduce alcohol-related harm.

"These include increasing the price of alcohol, reducing its availability and banning advertising, and the action needs to start now."

Translation:
"We've been fucking smokers up the arse for a number of years now and, frankly, we're in the mood for some fresh meat. Obviously we'll be using the same bullshit statistics to soften the British pleblic up for a good roasting. 

"But before we begin, I'd just like to thank all the docile pricks who pathed the way by supporting the smoking ban just because it meant they wouldn't have to wash their clothes or hair anymore. 

"Believe me, you dirty, smelly, gullible set of twats, a trip to the washing machine is going to seem like a fucking birthday party by the time we've finished with you."

Step One is a 50p per unit 'minimum price' on alcohol. In an attempt to whore this policy to the public, Gilmore came up with a 'fact' which, even by the standards of puritanical, lying, fake charity, quack bastard, burn-in-hell fuck-nuggets like him, is an egregious travesty. Not that the fucking Telegraph bothered to question it:
Minimum alcohol price 'could halve hospital admissions for drinking'

Prof Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the move could reduce the numbers admitted for alcohol problems by around 100,000.

In 2007, just over 207,000 people were taken into hospital because of the effects of drinking.

Really? Upon what research is this based, Gilmore, you say-anything, do-anything, prohibitionist fucking little worm? Are you prepared to stand by this prediction if we introduce this piece-of-shit law and hospital admissions don't fall by half? Can we expect you to do the decent thing, ie. resign, stick an orange in your mouth and kill yourself? Or will you and your band of hateful motherfuckers simply demand a higher 'minimum price' and yet more vindictive bullshit?

The hopeless bastard reveals what a nonsense this is as he tries to suck up to middle England:
Writing in The Lancet, however, Prof Gilmore says that the price hike would cost the average person only 23p more per week.

Only 23p? So it'll be so small that no one notices and yet big enough to save 100,000 lives? Give me three bottles of your snake-oil, Dr Gilmore. Fuck it, let's make it 46p and eliminate alcohol-related admissions altogether.

Lying, evil little shyster. That's all he is.

If that little statistic sounds like bollocks—and by Christ, it is—it is entirely in keeping with The Lancet's special edition, of which the highlight is this study:
One in 25 deaths across the world are linked to alcohol consumption, Canadian experts have suggested.

And if 1 in 25 deaths seems a bit high, wait till you hear about the supposed rate in Europe:
Europe had the highest proportion of deaths related to alcohol, with 1 in 10 deaths directly attributable.

10% of all deaths? Let's do a quick bag-of-an-envelope calculation, shall we?

According to the ONS, there were 509,090 deaths in England and Wales in 2008 and there were 6,541 deaths related to alcohol in England. That last figure doesn't include Wales so let's be generous and add a further 500 deaths for the sheep-worriers.

Which gives us a total number of about 7,000, or 1.38% of all deaths.

Of course, that doesn't give us the percentage for the whole of Europe, but seeing as we're supposedly some of the worst drinkers in Europe (another fucking lie), that should be considered a conservative estimate. Still nowhere near 10% though, is it? It's not even close to the 1 in 25—or 4%—claimed for the whole world, and for that global total you need to factor in a billion muslims who don't drink at all, plus God knows how many people who haven't got a pot to piss in, let alone a pub to get pissed in.

So the only conclusion can be that, yet again, we're being lied to on a massive scale. And what does the prick who conducted the study have to say for himself?
"The big message is treat alcohol like tobacco..."

Yeah, alright, we get it...
... not as a substance that is relatively benign except for those bad alcoholics. That is not true."

And that, too, is a bare-faced lie. Being a tee-totaller is not good for you and moderate drinking is very certainly 'benign', as has been shown many times, for example:
Women who drank alcohol on at least one day a week had a lower risk of coronary heart disease than women who drank alcohol on less than one day a week...

For men an inverse association was found between drinking frequency and risk of coronary heart disease across the entire range of drinking frequencies. The lowest risk was observed among men who drank daily (0.59, 0.48 to 0.71) compared with men who drank alcohol on less than one day a week.

They lie and lie and lie. Do these fuckers really think that a few bullshit anti-drinking laws are worth dragging their profession into the gutter? One day these quack bastards will tell the truth about something important. Will anyone believe them?

UPDATE (by DK): Professor Ian Gilmore is, of course, not just "president of the Royal College of Physicians", oh no. He is also the Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance which is, of course, a fake charity of some magnitude.
Now, a quick search of fakecharities.org for "Alcohol Health Alliance" throws up such definitely fake charities as Sustain, the Institute for Alcohol Studies and the Alliance House Foundation (formerly the UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in All Intoxicating Liquors); all of these organisations are heavily funded by the state which means, of course, that the Alcohol Health Alliance is also heavily funded by the state.

As such, Professor Ian Gilmore is a mouthpiece for the government and should probably have his tongue ripped from his lying head before being hanged by his testicles in a tank full of ravenous piranas. The cunt.

It is worth pointing out that nowhere in the Telegraph article is this information pointed out.

Now me—I'd say that taking the word of a man who is the Chair of an organisation, the members of which include the formerly-named "UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in All Intoxicating Liquors", without mentioning this little nugget of information—or massive fucking conflict of interest—is the act of a deeply stupid, tit-head, biased cub reporter.

I would view said nugget as something that a professional journalist might like to mention to his readers. You know—for balance, and that kind of thing. Not, apparently, in the increasingly bizarre and amateurish world of the fucking Daily fucking Telegraph.

Professor Ian Gilmore really is a fucking cunt of the very first water who first featured on The Kitchen in December 2007. Needless to say, he has made a couple of appearances since then.

And I fully expect him to become a regular hate figure in the future too.

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Posted by The Filthy Smoker at 6/26/2009 09:10:00 pm


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Slow Blogging

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/25/2009 12:15:00 am

Once again, your humble Devil apologises for the lack of posting.

The truth is, I am feeling totally unenergised; I don't have as much time that I would like to be able to sit down and absorb the news and views of the day. Plus, my real-life work is leaving me totally exhausted at the end of every day.

As a result, your humble Devil's posts are feeling a little formulaic—to myself as much as to anyone else. The combination of these factors has meant that I am suffering from the longest spell of blogging fatigue that I have encountered in four and a half years of swearing at politicians, journos, other bloggers and assorted ne'er-do-wells.

Over the last few days, I have considered seriously—for the first time—whether it this might be the moment to retire The Kitchen.

Fear not, gentle reader: I don't think that it will happen—I am far too attached to this name, this place, and you people. Besides, I still need to vent my spleen somewhere...!

I do, however, need to take a little time to catch up—maybe even take a couple of days off work—and to reacquaint myself with the news stories, and to find some energy to write about them in a half-way satisfying manner. Even if I only take the time to fisk thoroughly—and gratuitously insult—the egregious Toynbee*.

I am going to try to do all that needs to be done at some point this weekend, but I cannot guarantee anything. Until then, I severely doubt that there will be any posts—at least by me—at The Kitchen**.

* On which subject, Juliette is most lyrical.

** Having said that, last time I announced a hiatus, I found something the very next day that utterly enraged me. It must have been one of the shortest hiatuses ever.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/25/2009 12:15:00 am


Nuclear Fusion update

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/25/2009 12:04:00 am

A Polywell in operation: built as a summer project (cost: $3,000) by students at Pennisula College in the US.

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil has been following the Polywell Fusor project for some years now.

The last lot of testing was done on WB-7, but the results have been somewhat shrouded in secrecy, due to the involvement of the US Navy in funding the project.

However, IEC Fusion Technology finally has some news on this front: essentially, the WB-8 has been commissioned.

To gain the full significance, it is worth reading the whole post; however, the main conclusions are reasonably clear.
All in all the new contract has a lot of good news. To sum up:
  • What it means about past work: it went well.

  • What it means for the future: verifying engineering rules

  • More: there is a plan to test the Hydrogen/Boron 11 fuel combination

  • More: They must be confident of results since they are planning a WB-9

It is also worth reminding ourselves that the Fusor project is costing a few million dollars, whereas the so-far utterly unsuccessful tokamak ITER project—which involves such delightful regimes as China—is costing tens of billions and is already severely over-budget and behind schedule.

Guess which one our government is backing and funding...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/25/2009 12:04:00 am


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Change? We spunk on change. And fuck improvement.

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/23/2009 12:05:00 pm

Once upon a time there was a tedious, corrupt little cunt called John "Socialist Shitbag Masquerading As A Tory" Bercow.

Mister Bercow had some unfortunate experiences with some "expenses": essentially, he quite happily, and with malice aforethought, took the taxpayer to the cleaners and ran away laughing. Because he's a corrupt cunt.
Last month, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Mr Bercow “flipped” the designation of his second home between London and his constituency when he sold two houses in the space of a year, enabling him to avoid paying capital gains tax (CGT) on the profits from either sale.

He denied any wrongdoing but said he would pay £6,508 plus VAT to HM Revenue & Customs to cover the tax he could have been asked to pay on the sale of one of the homes.

The Tory MP for Buckingham also claimed almost £1,000 for the cost of hiring an accountant to fill in tax returns. Members of the Government were criticised for submitting similar claims because it was rare for members of the public to be allowed to reclaim accountants’ bills as a legitimate expense.

Not only did John Bercow use "the rules" to avoid tax that any of the rest of us would have to pay but, as Guido so helpfully points out, he also maxed out his allowances in previous years.


In other words, John Bercow is a filthy fucking trougher who is never happier than when spending our hard-earned cash on... well, whatever he fucking fancies, frankly. He is a disgustingly corrupt, unpleasant little cock-weasel with dumplings for testicles.

I just want to make this absolutely fucking clear, because it has a bearing on what follows: John Bercow is a corrupt little fuck who has not only maxed out his expenses account with our money, but he has also bent the rules to within breaking point in order to avoid the taxes that he is happy to impose on us—the taxes, in fact, that fund his lavish lifestyle through his fat fucking salary and his ludicrously high expenses claims.

I would also like to point out that the Speaker of the House of Commons resigned because not only had he happily presided over the raiding of the public purse by MPs, and not only because he did his level best to stop any of the details coming out (using lawyers paid for with our money), but also because he himself was incredibly corrupt—bending the rules to within breaking point (sounding familiar?) and maxing out his expenses claims.

So, the Speaker has resigned.

At this point in time, the reputation of our Parliament is at an all-time low; rarely has the entire institution been held in so much contempt. This is because those who occupy the House—those who plonk their well-padded arseholes on the well-padded seats—have abused our trust, lived above the laws that they make to control us, raped our wallets and bankrupted the country.

And now this institution needs a new Speaker—the previous Speaker having resigned for being, basically, a corrupt, Glaswegian fucknuts.

So, what MPs should do is to elect a reasonably uncorrupt person to be Speaker, don't you think? Especially since it is the Speaker who oversees the MPs and ensures that they stick to the rules (such as they are).

After all, these very same MPs have been telling us how ashamed they are, how they realise that their actions were wrong, how they understand the people's anger. As such, they surely must want to elect an untainted Speaker who will be able to summon some moral authority when bringing reform to the system of allowances benefits-in-kind.

No. These corrupt little bastards have elected another corrupt little bastard as Speaker.

The only good thing about this whole sorry episode is... at least they didn't elect that fucking horse-faced cunt, Margaret Beckett.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/23/2009 12:05:00 pm


Saturday, June 20, 2009

An eruption

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/20/2009 11:49:00 pm

Via Bishop Hill, with more details at the Volcanism Blog, this stunning picture of a volcano erupting was taken from the International Space Station on 12 July 2009.


Very cool.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/20/2009 11:49:00 pm


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Amazing Jack Night and the Mystery of Danny Finkelstein's Cock

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/18/2009 08:22:00 pm

I'm sorry: that title should read "The Amazing Jack Night and the Mystery of why Danny Finkelstein's such a cock"...

There has been considerable comment around the blogs of The Times's exposure of Night Jack's real identity: A Very British Dude has a pretty comprehensive roundup of those views, and his comment is pretty spot on.
Nightjack's blog was as successful as it was because he was an insider saying what the public already know: That the police have been given too much power and have been corrupted by the culture of targets. Every time a new-Labour home secretary suggested that the fall in crime was a success rather than an artifact of statistics, you could point to Nightjack's blog and say "you're talking rot, Home Secretary". There is clearly a public interest in allowing him to have his say, and the public interest is most definitely not being served by the Times' campaign to out prominent bloggers, nor is it by the deletion of an excellent blog, and it is increasingly looking like a dying industry destroying its competition.

Suffice to say, your humble Devil realises that we bloggers have no legal entitlement to anonymity and, indeed, I have not been particularly anonymous for some time now. However, in blogging circles, I prefer to be referred to as "DK" or "The Devil" or "Devil's Kitchen" rather than my real name because the manner in which this blog is written—and the selection of views covered therein—is hardly the complete version of me. It is, if you like, merely one aspect.

In any case, your humble Devil reveals enough to allow readers to judge whether or not I know what I am talking about, as did Jack Night—that blog could never have been written by someone who was not what he said he was.

But that is not enough for Times lapdog Danny fucking Finkelstein.
What, say, if it turned out that NightJack wasn't actually a detective at all? Or that he was Sir Ian Blair? Are we really saying that his identity isn't a public matter?

Look, Danny fucking Finkelstein—Jack Night was not Sir Ian Blair was he? And he was a detective, wasn't he? So, given that you found out that Jack Night was who he said he was, what possible justification could you have for publishing that information?

None.

Danny is often known as "The Fink"; the name is pretty apt for, when your humble Devil was knee-high to a fire-breathing demon of Hell, "a fink" was a tattle-tale—someone dishonourable, disagreeable and generally slimy and unpleasant.

This dictionary defines "fink" as:
  • A contemptible person.

  • An informer.

  • A hired strikebreaker.

This Fink is most definitely a contemptible person.
In fact, I have to confess to surprise at the attitude of some other bloggers. Most of the time, we promote the fearless revelation of truth and expose hypocrisy.

I'm sorry, Fink, but what is this "we", you fucking Johnny-Come-Lately? You're no blogger—you're a fucking MSM shill. You regurgitate whatever crap your employer wants you to post and, unlike most of us, your agenda is entirely hidden.

It's twats like you, Fink, who clog up the blogosphere, with your Establishment-sanctioned news-bites and your irritating "I'm a real journo" smugness.

You aren't a blogger—you are simply publishing pieces that would otherwise be published were it not for the fact that you employer doesn't value your snippet of writing or this particular piece of facile opinion enough to put them into the print edition.

And what "hypocrisy", exactly, was Jack Night indulging in that you and your odious colleagues saw fit to "expose" him? What "truth" has been revealed by publishing his name?

None.

Tell me, Fink: when you get home at night and you look at yourself in the mirror—having just washed the taste of Rupert Murdoch's cum out of your mouth (but you can never quite eradicate it, can you, Fink?)—does a single little tear roll down your face? It should do.

Fink by name and fink by nature—that's our Danny.

Needless to say, your humble Devil is boycotting Times Comment Central (not that that's much of a hardship, frankly).

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/18/2009 08:22:00 pm


It's the way she tells 'em

Posted by The Filthy Smoker at 6/18/2009 01:53:00 pm

Deborah Arnott: She might have a face like a rentboy's ringpiece but she's got a marvellous sense of humour



(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)



Honestly, you wait weeks for a barking mad quote from Action on Smoking and Health and then two come along at once. 


"Cars are small tin boxes, with not much air in them. Smoking just one cigarette, even with the window open, creates a greater concentration of second-hand smoke than a whole evening's smoking in a pub or a bar."

Really? That sounds rather, erm, implausible. Is there any evidence for this, or is it a case of - as The Daily Mash might put it:
"What study? Fuck you, that's what study."

On a roll, Arnott then responded to a survey showing that a large majority of shopkeepers feared that having to piss two grand away on pointlessly hiding their tobacco products was a threat to their business:

“All this survey shows is that the Tobacco Retailers Alliance, a tobacco industry-funded body, has managed to frighten small shopkeepers into thinking that putting tobacco out of sight will kill their businesses.

“Yet again the tobacco industry is crying wolf, just as it did with smoke free legislation, which it said would destroy our pubs.”

You fucking what?!?!

Weekly pub closures in the UK

2005: 2

2006: 4

2007: 27

2008: 39

2009: 52

See if you can guess which year the smoking ban came in...

Incidentally, the whole 'let's ban smoking in cars' debate was entirely engineered by the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation, who not only invited some authoritarian quack to hold forth on the issue but gave the bugger his own webpage and then invited two fake charities - ASH and Brake - to support it. They then ran the "story" under the headline:

Call to ban child-in-car smoking

Nice lobbying, Auntie. Within hours, thanks to heavy coverage across radios 2, 4 and 5, the Beeb had turned an issue about which no normal person had ever given a moment's thought into something that the type of pitchfork-wielding mouth-breather who calls up Jeremy Vine thinks requires drastic action. 

And just in case the 'debate' wasn't unbalanced enough, the Beeb then cancelled an interview with the Forest spokesman - the only person invited to provide a counter-argument. 

Beneath the 'think of the chiiiildren' window-dressing is a more serious purpose: to redefine cars, and then homes, as 'public places'. It also paths the way for banning smoking around adults, an aim which, as Dick Puddlecote has spotted, Arnott didn't even bother to conceal:
It must have caught the fake charities as cold as it caught Forest though, as they were all wibbling at cross purposes.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said the charity was in favour of a ban on smoking in cars.

The risks were not just to children but to adults suffering from conditions like heart disease, she said.

That's the problem with being caught off-guard, Debs wasn't able to tailor her junk science quickly enough to the nonsense in hand so had to just grab what she was working on at the time - the total ban on smoking in cars, with or without children present. An interesting view into the future, I thought.

There's not much to add to Dick's analysis. Go have a ganders at the whole thing.


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Posted by The Filthy Smoker at 6/18/2009 01:53:00 pm


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quote of the Day...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/16/2009 11:26:00 pm

... comes from a commenter at LabourList as a counter to a stupid twatmonkey called Alex Gilmore who—amidst accusations of trolling—pointed out that the LabourListers "don’t go onto right of centre head bashing websites and complain at the posts and articles".

Mike Thomas's reply was rather poetic, I think you'll agree.
You don't go onto centre-right websites because they would hand you back your 'intellectual' argument after they had torn it a new one and called it 'Mary'.

Nice.

Incidentally, the article under which those (unpermalinked) comments appear is one of the most authoritarian, undemocratic pieces of shit that I have ever encountered. I shall fisk it, at length and with extreme prejudice, tomorrow evening...

UPDATE: a technical emergency—trying to sort out my stepsister's new iPhone—interrupted my flow. I'm afraid that I shall have to undertake the fisking this evening...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 6/16/2009 11:26:00 pm


Two problems, one solution

Posted by Mark Wallace at 6/16/2009 10:04:00 am

NB I am not DK, I'm Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Politics is replete with problems. Not just this year, but every year there are massive, costly failings in government that hurt ordinary people by depriving them of their freedom, their money or even their lives.

It's always nice, then, when solutions are put forward that are sufficiently elegant and simple to solve several problems at once.

Problem One: the current crisis over MPs' second home expenses. As well as insisting they live by the same tax laws as anyone else, and stopping the claiming of absurd luxuries like massage chairs, home cinemas and duck houses, it is necessary to put a stop to the opportunity for making a capital gain with taxpayers' money. Anyone working away from home in other industries gets accommodation provided to them - but no-one other than MPs get to keep the flat for themselves after the job. That needs to stop. So, how best to provide accommodation for MPs but avoid excessive cost to taxpayers or personal profit for MPs?

Problem Two: The Olympic Village has been effectively nationalised, and has an uncertain future. Whilst many homes are committed to social housing, taxpayers are currently picking up a bill for a property portfolio that they have been rushed into buying. What to do with it?

Solution: House MPs in the Olympic Village.

The estimated sale value of flats for the 572 non-London MPs would be £110 million. In 2007/08 the Additional Costs Allowance totalled £11.5 million, so it would take under a decade to pay for itself. As the Village has already been effectively nationalised with a taxpayer-funded bailout there would be no need for any extra capital spending, whilst the largest cost of the ACA, rent and mortgages, would be stopped in perpetuity.

The flats would be provided with the basic part-furnishing (standard bed, sofa and so forth) of most flats on the rental market, and if MPs wanted flat screen TVs, love seats or any other paraphernalia for themselves, they could pay for it themselves, too.

The proposal has other benefits, too. For a start, 1,400 other homes in the Olympic Village are set aside for social housing, which means MPs would be living alongside real people from the real world.

Furthermore, the Olympic complex is already being designed with security in mind, so it make s perfect site for housing MPs en masse. The argument that it is dangerous to have MPs all in one place conveniently ignores the fact that they all work in one place during the day, and thus it is a security challenge that is already being met successfully in Westminster.

In the words of Hannibal from the A Team, "I love it when a plan comes together." You can find more information on the proposal here.

Posted by Mark Wallace at 6/16/2009 10:04:00 am


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