Thursday, December 16, 2010

Drugged, again

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil has taken quite substantial amounts of drugs—of almost every type other than heroin. Your humble Devil also knows a number of people—the vast majority of my friends, in fact—who have regularly taken all classes of drugs.

And, generally speaking, the outcome has been hours and hours of fun, laughter, warming visions and a sense of connection. I will assert, with confidence, that the vast majority of those who take drugs have a great time. I do not know of anyone who has lost a job or a girlfriend through drug-use, nor of anyone who has harmed anyone else through drug use (other than alcohol, of course).

I will also say, from experience, that many drugs are self-limiting. Take Ecstasy regularly, for instance, and the beneficial effects reduce in intensity quite steeply—to the point that it becomes pointless.

However, the human desire to get out of one's tree occasionally is always there: in other words, demand is not going to go away. Although many people assert that the very illegality of drugs creates extra demand through the forbidden fruit factor.

On the flip side, I do know that the illegality of drugs means that the supply is entirely controlled by criminals. This criminal control leads to turf wars, shooting, robberies, and other low- and high-level violence.

Further, the criminals cut the drugs with adulterants, in order to make further profits. These adulterants cause injury to drug consumers in two ways: first, the adulterants can be actively harmful, e.g. heroin is often cut with brick dust, thus clogging capillaries in intravenous users and leading to gangrene and limb amputation.

Second, the level of adulterants in the drug vary; one of the most common causes of the occasional spates of heroin user deaths is through overdose caused by a batch of unusually pure drug on the market.

Finally, there is the economic cost of the war on drugs—which is running at something like £20 billion per annum. And that does not include the cost of criminalising and imprisoning thousands of people who have harmed no one but themselves.

So, in the context of the points made above, I find myself in the awful position of having to agree with that idiot, Bob Ainsworth.
An ex-minister who had responsibility for drugs policy has called for all drugs to be legally available.

Bob Ainsworth, a Home Office minister under Tony Blair, said successive governments' approaches had failed, leaving criminal gangs in control.

The Coventry North East MP wants to see a system of strict legal regulation, with different drugs either prescribed by doctors or sold under licence.

Well, that is entirely sensible. In fact, I seem to remember a number of Tories—when in Opposition—pointing out that the war on drugs is failing and that it was time to look at different methods. And the response when back in power?
Mr Ainsworth is the most senior politician so far to publicly call for all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, to be in any way legalised.

He said he realised while he was a minister in the Home Office in charge of drugs policy that the so-called war on drugs could not be won.

The Labour backbencher said successive governments had been frightened to raise the issue because they feared a media backlash.

Which just goes to show that politicians are not heroes, bravely making those difficult decisions that will best benefit the people of this country, but simply grubby little snake-oil salesmen—hungry for adulation—who are only out for their own benefit at the expense of everyone else.
But he predicted in the end ministers would have no option but to adopt a different approach.

The simple fact is that the case for the legalisation and regulation of drugs is absolutely irrefutable, on both a practical and moral level. And it seems that Nick Clegg and, most pertinently, David Cameron recognised this fact and, when in Opposition, wanted to change it.
David Cameron, the Tory leadership contender, believes the UN should consider legalising drugs and wants hard-core addicts to be provided with legal "shooting galleries" and state-prescribed heroin.

He also supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it shares with cocaine and heroin and said it would be "disappointing" if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at.

Well, quite. Although, it was inevitable that some would object.
Ann Widdecombe, the former Home Office minister who is supporting Kenneth Clarke for the Tory leadership, criticised Mr Cameron's views and said that legalising drugs would only encourage use.

"This is a grossly misled view that will have very damaging consequences for society," she said. "Most Conservatives would make the case that legalisation is misguided. If you legalise hard drugs you would effectively be making the state give first-time users their first experience.

"It's just not an option. And the World Health Organisation is against it."

Well, generally, if the WHO is against it, I am going to argue for it vociferously.

And the puritanical Ann Widdecombe's assertion that legalising hard drugs "would effectively be making the state give first-time users their first experience" is so stupid an assertion that one wonders what on earth Widdecombe thought that she was saying. Mind you, much as I admire her honesty in respect of the expenses scandal (she was "clean"), Ann Widdecombe's personal judgement is very ropey—if it weren't, she would never have even dreamed of going on Strictly Come Dancing.

But, I digress: in 2005, Dave thought that the ludicrously expensive and ineffective war on drugs should be abandoned in favour of a more sensible policy—and the LibDems concurred in 2006. So, why—a mere five years later—has Dave and his cronies so ready to dismiss the recommendations of Ainsworth (OK, yes; but in this case the idiot's right)?
"David Cameron deserves our utmost respect and admiration for refusing the 'war on drugs' rhetoric in calling for a discussion of legalisation with the UN body that oversees global prohibition," said Danny Kushlick, the director of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He added: "Too many politicians support the status quo because of careerism."

Ah, yes. Careerism.

I suspect that Kushlick's 2005 comment may well contain the truth about why Cameron is prepared to condemn hundreds of thousands of people to lives of misery and ill-health, to punish and condemn thousands of people who have harmed precisely nobody, and to continue to spend billions of pounds of our money on an ineffective "war" that merely promotes violent criminality—and which has had not the slightest material impact on the availability of drugs.

Unfortunately, the egregious James Brokenshire—a man whom we have met before, spouting illiberal horseshit about alcohol—has decided to take issue with Bob Ainsworth's entirely sensible (although suspiciously motivated) suggestion.
Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said: "Drugs are harmful and ruin lives - legalisation is not the answer.

Yes, James: drugs do ruin a few lives even though they are illegal and have been (entirely) since 1971. So, if prohibition works, why are drugs still ruining lives?

And what, precisely, is your prescription—more of the same, is it? You moron.
"Decriminalisation is a simplistic solution that fails to recognise the complexity of the problem and ignores the serious harm drug taking poses to the individual.

It is not the state's job to tell me what I may or may not do with my own body, you authoritarian bastard! It is my body, not yours.
"Legalisation fails to address the reasons people misuse drugs in the first place or the misery, cost and lost opportunities that dependence causes individuals, their families and the wider community."

But, as we have established above, it does address the issues of purity and crime, thus leading to far less misery than is currently the case.

I get tired of saying this—I continue to do so simply because people do not seem to have got the message—but there really is only one sensible solution and, as successful as Portugal's decriminalisation has been, legalisation is a far better option.

Why? Because, in Portugal, the supply of drugs is still in the hands of criminals (and of the criminals who grow the drugs in other countries), and so the problems of adulteration still exist. And, whilst the emphasis is on rehabilitation rather than incarceration, one can still be criminalised for harming no one but yourself.

As I have said time and time again, the only sensible answer is education, legalisation and regulation. It's nice to see that Bob Ainsworth realises this—what a pity he didn't think to do anything about it when he had the power to do so.

In the meantime, despite their earlier rhetoric, it seems that the Tories and the LibDems are going to carry on the tradition—exemplified so well by NuLabour—of talking a good game in Opposition but toeing the same, pathetic, harmful and utterly discredited line in office.

No, our politicians are not heroes making the difficult decisions on our behalf—they are spineless toadies to media such as The Daily Hate, making decisions to further their own advantage and stuffing ordinary people for a few column inches.

Friday, November 26, 2010

No promises...

... but—dear fucking god!—the rage is back with a vengeance. I leave for a few days, and the world goes batshit mad...

What are these cunts playing at...?

In the meantime, I can only recommend this article—written by someone called Jonathan David—at a site called Liberty Cabal (which seems to feature some old blogging chums of mine). It deals with the ludicrous "general wellbeing" crap that our massively fore-headed twat of a Prime Minister seems so keen on (although David does publish a correction to one point).

In the meantime, I am unlikely to return here, I think. But, frankly, you never know...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sound The Last Post...?

My last post notwithstanding, your humble Devil finds himself unable to comment on anything at present.

I simply don't have the will or inclination to write, or even care, about politics at the moment. And even if I did express myself in terms which would lead to some catharsis, I would probably find myself in court.*

In many ways, Al-Jahom has expressed my current feelings rather eloquently.
So what’s changed? Why the quiet? Wither the fury?

Well, rage, anger and fury spring from the tiny hope that things can get better.

And so these vigorous emotions have given way to abject despair. You can see for yourself in the archives that the cynic in me never really expected things to be any different under the new lot. But I had to hope that the end of the Blair/Brown era would be a watershed.

And now what hope there was, however silly it might have been, is all but extinguished.

Nothing has changed. Nor will it.

The Labour monster was cast out and the dying hydra’s heads are snapping at each other furiously. It’s an amusing sideshow, but it’s of little consequence.

I’m not expecting the burden of taxation to ever be reduced in real terms. We have already been shown what we suspected – that Cameron’s pledges on the EU are meaningless, because Lisbon trumps the need for further legislation or treaty changes. The lights will still be going out before the end of this parliament, thanks to the influence of the Lib Dems on energy policy. I don’t expect to walk into a pub where I can smoke ever again. I don’t expect the police to be reformed for the better. I don’t expect the CPS to be taken in hand. I don’t expect family justice, or the judicial and punitive bias against men to improve. I don’t expect appeasement of radical Islam to decline. I don’t expect the transport system to improve; overcrowding, no new roads, vainglorious rail projects, hellish airports, spiralling costs, penalties and delays.

And a million Prima Donnas are crying about some marginal cuts to their pet projects?

So you see, *sigh*… What’s the fucking point?

Quite.

I want to stress that I am not a Tory, not—god forbid—a LibDem. I don't agree with most of the stuff that they are doing (or not doing): and in those areas in which I agree with in principle, I disagree with the way in which they are executing them.

I started blogging almost six years ago now: it's a long time in which to keep on writing about the same frustrations. But there were a couple of things that kept me going.
  • The first was the political and philosophical journey that was developing. I started off, roughly, as a Tory who disagreed with some Tory policies and actions; sometimes, what I read—on blogs, not in the MSM—made me reassess my allegiances, and to rethink my position on a number of things. And as I became exposed to more economic and political theory, I started to understand that there was a vocabulary for the things that I believed.

    This vocabulary belonged to a philosophy called "libertarianism"; it was a philosophy of hope, of faith in human nature, and a method that outlined how an individual's great potential might be realised. And it was a philosophical and political structure that I believed—believe—in utterly.

    That journey that I made, however, has stopped. I am a libertarian, and I will be a believer in libertarianism until I die. As Steve Baker MP said at the Libertarian Alliance Conference a couple of weeks ago (and I admit, I may paraphrase slightly), "we are The Good Guys. We are the only ones who do not believe in coercing people to live their lives as we deem fit."

  • The second reason to keep blogging was that there was some hope of change in the near(ish) future. Now, we have seen that change, and it is no change at all.

    We are ruled by same loathsome, lying, corrupt, venal bastards rule over us: they are simply wearing slightly different novelty masks. Indeed, the simple fact that I must write the words "we are ruled" is sign enough that nothing has changed.

    We are in for another five years of the same "dreadful, overbearing and untrustworthy" government as we have had for the past thirteen. And then? Well, either these same awful people will be returned to power or the Other Lot of awful shit-bags—the ones that we've only just got rid of—will be brought in instead. Again.

    And no matter which bunch of bastards we are forced to elect to Parliament will make little difference: the state will continue expanding, we will continue to pay more tax, society will become more atomised and dangerous, business will become more difficult, civil liberties will be removed, everyday pleasures will be ever more circumscribed and punished and our lives will continue to be a little bit harder and more miserable with every year that passes.

There seems to be little point in railing about anything because, with the politicians in power, nothing ever changes—no matter what the colour of the government's tie.

Take the whole Climate Change thing; we, the sceptics, are winning the scientific argument. The ClimateGate exposure of the shitty code and the dirty tricks employed by climate scientists sent waves around the world; now, the IPCC is threatened and the people, in general, believe that they have been deceived.

And yet the government carries merrily on, making our lives more expensive, curtaining energy and killing poor, brown people.

So what was the point—why did we bother fighting?

So, the main point is that I simply cannot bring myself to comment on the crap that is going on around us; I want to concentrate on making enough money to ensure that myself and my wife can, at the last, escape all of this shit. When the end of our great liberal civilisation finally comes, we can leave the stinking socialist hellhole that Britain is fast becoming.

Once I would have wished to take everyone with me, but the people of this country have shown that they don't care about freedom, they don't care about liberty—they would rather have their cotton wool prison. So now my considered opinion is, "you wanted this—you can go fuck yourselves."

Now, I'll admit that I have suffered from blog fatigue before and I have even previously announced my retirement. I will even admit that I found that doing so—being released from the need to write—actually returned to me the desire to do so. And it may be the same this time too.

But, the way I am feeling at present, it is looking a little unlikely.

I won't say that I am retiring, or that The Kitchen (or The Knife) is dead—as before, I may prove myself wrong. But what I will say is that—right now, at this moment—I feel no desire to write, and cannot see that desire returning. But, as I keep saying, it might do (do keep me on your Feedreaders).

Until that time—should it come—good luck to you all.

Ave atque vale.

* To be fair to Polly Toynbee (god, how I hate to write those words), despite the many brickbats thrown her way, she has never acted in the petty, vicious, pusillanimous way that the evil Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has done. So all credit to Pol.**

** I feel dirty just writing that sentence.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Not dead...

... only I've been on holiday, and have come back to piles of work.

Your humble Devil will be back in a couple of days, when I've had a chance to catch up on the news and views...

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Tapeworms and seals

Thanks to the ghost, dressed in a shabby Greek toga, who sent me this rather amusing story...
OLYMPIA -- James Vaughn of Orting doesn't think much of state government, judging from the initiative he filed with Secretary of State Sam Reed's office this week.

Vaughn's proposal consists mainly of a few pages of complaining about the many taxes businesses and individuals here have to pay.

In honor of those taxes, he proposes to change the Seal of the State of Washington - currently an image of George Washington - to "a tapeworm dressed in a three pieced suit attached to the taxpayer's rectum."

It won't get voted on, of course, but wouldn't it be nice if we had a similar, official mechanism?
As Reed spokesman David Ammons notes in the office's blog:
"For five bucks and an idea, anyone can file an Initiative to the People - and they do. Most are very serious, while others can be kooky or simply send a message."

And no, I don't think that sending a rude letter to your MP is really quite the same...

On leadership...

The wife has a post up in which she discusses some issues around leadership, Obama, politics and the general shit we inflict on ourselves (mainly, politicians' egos).
At least back in the day, those couple of dudes were honest about it: ‘I’m the best fighter, peasant, and if you don’t do what I say, I’ll do you.’

Now, the justifications are a lot more spurious. On the one hand, you have the politician, who starts with ‘I’ve consulted and studied and learned and listened, so vote for me,’ then moves to ‘Lots of people voted for me, so STFU,’ and ends with ‘I’ve got the bombs, motherfucker.’

Do go and read the whole thing...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Will statists miss libertarian blogs? Unlikely

Via ChickenYoghurt (who used to be quite comfortable linking to libertarian blogs, once upon a time), I find this article on Comment Is Free which asks whether the decline of the angry libertarian blogosphere is something to mourn.

Inevitably, it mentions your humble Devil's less than impressive showing on The Daily Politics (to which the first blockquote refers) and, of course, the comments are a joy. When defending the libertarian blogosphere, I got increasingly carried away but also articulated a number of things which I have been vocalising for some time. As such, I thought that I would repost my comment here.
... when you knew how uncomfortable he was defending his stuff in public.

Except that I have defended my style in public a number of times.

What I was uncomfortable doing was defending my style whilst ostensibly representing other people.
That says a lot about UK libertarians because nothing affects your liberty as much as losing your job and having no money.

Um. Apart from being locked up without trial. But hey! the government's only doing that to brown people—it'll never happen to you, so who cares, eh?

Many of us were, indeed, very rude about statists—and many are still are. That is because we find ourselves simply unable to understand why they continue to advocate yet more statist intervention when it any empirical figures show that these interventions make the poor worse off; we also find it massively insulting when the Left maintain that they care about the poor when they are not only ignoring the fact that they are harming those who are worst off, but they are also just as privileged as we "fatuous old Etonian tossers".

It is also frustrating when Leftists attack us for being Tories who would bring Section 28 in again, and persecute gays or some other bunch of minority; this is based on a fundamental, blinkered and, frankly, ignorant view of what libertarianism is.

The Libertarian philosophy is very simple:
You can do whatever you like provided that you do not initiate force or fraud against someone's life, liberty or property.

And "whatever you like" includes giving to charity, helping out your local community and generally improving the lot of both yourself and your fellow human beings.

Now, some libertarians simply are not interested in doing so; they just want to live their lives in splendid isolation. Fine—they should be able to do so.

Others, like myself, have a fundamental belief in a libertarianism that is not isolationist—that does advocate voluntary collectivism. But the key word in that clause is "voluntary".

If you do not believe in voluntary actions, then you are an authoritarian: you believe in using violence in order to force others to support your aims.

And how can that be right, when there are 60 million people in this country with aims and desires that might not—indeed, probably do not—match yours? Who are you to use force to compel them to give up their dreams in order to fulfil yours?

This attitude is not only dangerous and arrogant but, to a libertarian, morally wrong.

Can you wonder that libertarians get so angry about the perpetration of violence and coercion on others? Can you not understand why we rage when those same dictators turn around and tell us that we are immoral and evil?

Fundamentally, libertarians are despised by statists—on all sides of the political spectrum—because we tell them that they cannot play with their toys any more. And we do so because those are not toys: they are real people—individuals, with individual lives and individual desires.

It is not we libertarians who are immature and immoral, for it is the statists who believe that they should be allowed to play with their toys—regardless of the actual lives that they might ruin.

Oh, but the other reason that I will miss many of the bloggers who have ceased to be is that they were funny; I suspect that the blogosphere is heading not for a more "mature" period, but a more po-faced period.

And perhaps Steven Baxter is right, and "the posts will become more nuanced and less aggressive"; but I suspect that the whole rigmarole will become far less fun.

Indeed, I suspect that it already has.

Quote of the Day...

... comes from a stirring article by James Delingpole—a piece which I heartily recommend that you read in full.
Wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere run by a notionally “conservative” administration, the malaise you will encounter is much the same: a system of governance predicated on the notion that the state’s function is not merely to uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders, but perpetually to meddle with its citizens’ lives in order supposedly to make their existence more fair, more safe, more eco-friendly, more healthy.

And always the result is the same: more taxation, more regulation, less freedom. Less “fairness” too, of course.

The reason that I pick out that section, rather than any one of the other excellent paragraphs, is because it neatly sums up what I, as a minarchist libertarian, believe are the legitimate functions of the state: to...
... uphold property rights, maintain equality before the law and defend borders

And I believe that the state should do these things not because I am ideologically a minarchist—for I am not—but because I don't believe that humanity is yet ready for an anarchist state. And, as always, I am interested not in pure ideology (although it informs my practical advocacy) but in the best possible outcome.

I believe that a state that performs those three important functions, and only those three important functions, provides the best possible balance between freedom and security.

Like Tim Worstall, I believe that (in humanity's present state) there are some things that a government can do better than a group of individuals can: national defence is one of those things.

I do not think that the state should be providing healthcare or unemployment benefits or education or Child Benefit—and I strongly object to its National Insurance system that destroyed and continues to crowd out better, freer, more efficient, voluntary community solutions.

I certainly object to—and am horrified by—the way in which the provision of these services has enabled governments to justify quite disgusting intrusions into our private matters, our lifestyles and our day-to-day activities.

I am outraged by the way in which governments have seized control of our schools in order to brainwash generations of children with state propaganda, feeding them a one-sided story of civilisation—a story that includes the Welfare State as saviour and which mentions Friendly Societies not at all.

Dellers maintains that the Tea Party are the ones who will save us, but I am not so sure; although their grass-roots origins are laudable, they have foolishly lost the propaganda war—the Tea Partiers have allowed the leftist media to paint them as backwards, religious loons and, as such, said media has destroyed the movement's value as a motivational tool outwith the US itself.

Despite the slow-down in the libertarian blogosphere, those who are still going are now moving towards carrying out actions to minimise state intrusion. But, generally, they are doing so as a "don't tread on me", movement of their own lives off the state's books. We do not seem to have a general movement calling for the removal of the state from society as a whole.

It is the latter that I am interested in—and yet I find that this movement is no further forward under Our New Coalition Overlords™ than it was under NuLabour. As Delingpole observes, this struggle is carrying on almost all Developed Countries, and there seems to be no change in sight.
Sure there’s no comparison (well not that much) between Obama’s US and Stalin’s Soviet Union; Coalition Britain and Mao’s China; Julia Gillard’s Australia and Queen Ranavalona’s Madagascar; sure the war we’re currently fighting doesn’t involve mass destruction like that of World Wars I and II. But it’s precisely because the ideological struggle we’re currently engaged in is so seemingly democratic and innocuous that it is in fact so dangerous. With Hitler and Stalin it was easy: the enemy was plain in view. Today’s encroaching tyranny is an of altogether more subtle, slippery variety. It takes the form of the steady “engrenage” – ratcheting – of EU legislation; of the stealthy removal of property rights and personal liberty under the UN’s Agenda 21; of the eco-legislation created by democratically unaccountable bodies like America’s Environmental Protection Agency; of the stealthy encroachment of the Big Government into the most intimate recesses of our daily lives – not just under barely disguised socialist administrations like Obama’s even under notionally “Centre right” ones such as Cameron’s or Sarkozy’s. When the Enemy is as sly and insidious as that, it’s much much harder for the increasingly oppressed populace to rouse itself to the appropriate state of alarm and rebellion.

And that, I think, is the problem. And as I say, unlike James, I cannot see how the Tea Party will be of help to us in this increasingly benighted isle. After all, how can we possibly fight against the kind of attitude displayed by one of Snuffy's pupils?
She proudly announces that she’s been living in France. I’m impressed and secretly pleased because maybe I had something to do with that. I ask her what she’s been doing there. She has done a stint as an au pair and has spoken lots of French. There she is, all grown-up, all of twenty-two or -three, living abroad. So far from the little girl who thought I was hyper.

I smile. “So what are you doing now?”

“I’m going back to France, man! Can’t stay here! This country is S—!”

I’m slightly stunned by the force of her condemnation. “What do you mean? What’s so awful about it?”

Trendy hops from foot to foot. “This country is going just C–P, man! With these Tories, man, no one can afford to do anything here!”

“Is it that bad?” I wince, still somewhat baffled by her genuine anger at what Britain has to offer.

She taps her forehead to suggest I’m being silly. “Yeah, man! Look, even my mum said it, you know. She said, “Put my name down on the list, but it’s ‘long ting’, you know!” She throws her arm in the air. “Nah, man! Too long! I ain’t waiting!”

We chat briefly before Trendy leaps back into the van and disappears down the road.

I look at my friend as we trundle along. “The list?”

My friend nods. “Yeah… the housing list.”

I stop us in our tracks and grab hold of my friend’s arm. I want to scream. This country is s— because it isn’t giving out free flats? Have we all lost our minds?

No, not all of us have lost our minds—but our corrupt and ineffectual political system has meant that we have lost our voices.

Of course, those of you who have not lost your minds, but have lost your faith in our political masters, should join the Libertarian Party.

Monday, November 01, 2010

These people are morons

On Friday night, your humble Devil highlighted the fact that—as Wat Tyler pointed out—we do not actually calculate household income through the tax system and, as such, enforcing the cut in Child Benefit was going to be a bit damn difficult.

It seems that, belatedly, Our New Coalition Overlords™ have realised that they might have made a bit of a boo-boo and they are taking steps to remedy the problem.

Now, which route do you think that they have taken? Is it:
  1. the government has decided to approach it in a different way, or
  2. the government has decided to use the threat of violence in order to get its own way.

If you answered "2", then give yourself a pat on the back: the super Coalition has, indeed, decided to use the threat of violence to back up their stupid policy.
Higher rate taxpayers could be fined if they fail to declare they have a partner receiving child benefit, when cuts are introduced in 2013.

The Treasury has confirmed that "penalties" would be issued in cases of non-disclosure of earnings.

It follows reports that Treasury sources have said a plan to stop child benefit payments to couples with one higher rate taxpayer is unenforceable.

What the hell...?

Look, cutting benefits is the right policy. Cutting child benefit absolutely right: why the hell should I be taxed to pay for other people's lifestyle choices—especially when those people are earning multiples of my salary? And, apparently, Child Benefit is paid out for "children" up to 19! 19! For fuck's sake.

But, equally, the law in this country quite clearly states that any citizen has the right to organise their affairs in a way that minimises their tax liability; by extension, this also means that any citizen has the right to organise their affairs in such a way that they maximise their benefits receipts.

Whether you think that the withdrawal of Child Benefit is right or wrong is irrelevant: it should be done in such a way that citizens can comply with the law—this nebulous crap is stupid and wrong.

These people are idiots.

UPDATE: your humble Devil would like to apologise for the general incoherence of this post, but I find myself literally speechless at the crass stupidity of Our New Coalition Overlords™. Everything that they touch turns to shit.

NuLabour might have been incompetent, authoritarian bastards, but this lot are not much less authoritarian but, more pertinently, seem to be attempting to win an award for being stunningly, unbelievably incompetent.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My staunchest ally bites the dummy

The rage is still there... Somewhere.

It is with a heavy heart that I report the demise of one of the finest swearbloggers—indeed, one of the finest bloggers—ever to stalk a Labour government.

Yes, it is true: Mr Eugenides is no more.
But what I don't have now is that same hate. The last administration filled me with disgust; the mere sight of my telly of a Charles Clarke, a John Reid, a—God forgive me for even typing the words!—Patricia Hewitt, sent me flying into almost uncontrollable loathing. And without fury, without rage, without spite, this blog is nothing, really—or at least, not what it was—because the way it's written, it is set up for polemic, not placid discussion.

In as far as I owe you anything, it is, I would say, not to confect outrage over things which don't really upset me, not to try and find hate where none exists. I'm in a more placid place, and I think that the country's got at least a fair chance of becoming a better place with that horrendous shower out in the cold; and that's as good a place as any to leave it.

For what it is worth, your humble Devil feels much the same. Unlike my peripatetic but impecunious Greek friend, however, I carry on because... Well, because I want to.

But it will be a less exciting, sweary and, yes, funny place without Mr Eugenides. And, take it from me, he is a funny man in real life—I have long missed those few nights when we met in Cloisters to get unbelievably, hideously pissed. But we all move on—me to London, the angry baby to places in the Far East.

But more than that—when your humble Devil first started his peculiar brand of enraged vitriol, there were a few who heartily joined in. We became almost a brotherhood—this band of swearbloggers* whose ranks have swelled over the last few years. It seems strange to contemplate that blogging was, generally, something of a geeky and, even, genteel past-time until we feckless, violent bastards invaded the political sphere.

Obviously, the rage cannot last—I am now the only one of us left, and I barely count as a swearblogger any more. All the others who were my colleagues and compatriots in the field of gratuitous insults, unnecessary death fantasies and incisive political swearing are all gone.

But Mr E also brought a professional debaters' rigour to the proceedings—much though we both enjoyed insulting Polly Toynbee, my impecunious Greek friend always, I felt, had the edge in terms of making a succinct and pertinent point (and the nailgun was genius).

I sincerely hope that you and I shall raise a glass (or many) together again in real life, Mr E. But, until that time, I shall bid farewell to my friend—impecunious and peripatetic—and one of the finest bloggers ever grace the shores of the internet.

Vale, Mr E! I hope that we—and, more specifically, I—have not seen the last of you**...

* A term coined, I'm perversely pleased to say, by your humble Devil...

** Given the progress of Our New Coalition Overlords™ so far, I give it six months...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Falling at every hurdle

David Cameron: "after I have screwed the British people, I am going to kill this puppy. And there's nothing you can do about it! Aaaaaahahahahahaha!"

I don't know about the rest of you, but your humble Devil was cautiously optimistic about Our New Coalition Overlords™. The trouble is, they seem to be as bad as NuLabour as regards civil liberties—after all, scrapping an ID card project which was technologically "challenging" and, in any case, unaffordable hardly counts—but they are exhibiting all of the stupidity of people who simply have no idea how the labyrinthine system of government works.

Take, for instance, this scrapping of Child Benefit for higher rate taxpayers—it sounds sensible, does it not? The trouble is, as Burning Our Money highlights, the tax system simply doesn't work in the way that our New Coalition Overlords™ have assumed it does.
After all, a couple's tax affairs are separate these days, and CB is paid direct to the female partner specifically so she can keep it away from the nasty beer swilling brute she's forced to live with (well, that's what Pol says anyway). And what happens if the man/woman doesn't realise he's a top rate tax payer, perhaps because of an unexpected bonus?

The basic problem is that we currently have no way of taxing couples as a unit. Tax is levied on individuals, so HMRC doesn't automatically know the overall household income.

Unless, presumably, they are sitting and tracking every single household email and phone call—which is, after all, not beyond the realms of possibility.

Indeed, much like the Boy Blunder in the USA, Our New Coalition Overlords™ have not only failed to abolish all of those intrusions upon our freedoms, they have started to introduce more—not least agreeing to let foreign powers spy on British citizens.

Inevitably, Our New Coalition Overlords'™ naivety also spreads to EU matters where, as EU Referendum points out, Dave seems to have not the slightest clue what is going on.
It's actually worse. Cameron has walked into a minefield, eyes wide shut, committing an act of quite extraordinary hubris. It amounts to almost suicidal stupidity. It really is spectacular.

His problem is, of course, that he has no power to deliver the goods. He is not even party to the negotiations. The European Council, which he has just attended, has no jurisdiction nor locus in the annual budget negotiations.

All he has managed to do is get the signatures from twelve other member states on an informal letter which simply re-affirms the Council (of Ministers) "common position. And that is simply a negotiating position, between not 13 but 27. That "position" went before the conciliation committee on 27 October, and the parties now have 21 days to agree on a joint text.

The Committee, not Cameron, now has the baton. If it can agree, the final budget can be approved in mid-November.

The procedure, however, is arcane. In the final analysis, the initiative lies with the EU parliament. Here, its position is straightforward—and powerful. Its response to the EU Commission proposal for a 5.9 percent hike – and the 5.9 percent was a Commission, not a parliament proposal – was to increase the top line amount from €142.56 bn €143.07 bn, bringing it to about six percent. That is its negotiating position.

Not only is the parliament not going to accept the Council's 2.9 percent, if by some strange—and extremely unlikely—chance the Council actually stuck to its position, the parliament has a veto. It can pull the budget and force the whole procedure to start over, causing a humungous crisis in the EU, which can be laid at the door of the member states.

That ain't going to happen. The Council negotiating team is going to compromise on a figure somewhere between 2.9 and 6.0 percent, most likely at the higher end.

Cameron claims the letter he has got is a "guarantee" the rise will not be any bigger than 2.9 percent. "What we've done is guarantee, with the support of other member states, that this is 2.9 percent," he says. "They've given their word—2.9 percent and no further. That's the word they've all given. That's the word I've given."

It is not a guarantee. The letter has no status whatsoever. His "word" is an empty promise. If Cameron thinks he has actually got a guarantee (or given one) - he is delusional. Moreover, his advisors should be fired. If he is listening to them, they are turning him into a laughing stock.

This is, of course, what his advisers planned. Those who are not actively planning Cameron's downfall are pig-ignorant PPE graduates straight out of university (they're cheap); those who are planning his destruction are known as "the Civil Service".

I have been watching a great deal of Yes Minister recently, and I have a new ambition in life; it used to be that I wished to be repeatedly slung out of Parliament for calling Labour Ministers "a bunch of corrupt cunts" (in a very un-Parliamentary way).

Now I would like to be in power for one reason and one reason only—to sack every single Civil Servant in (at least) the top three grades. Being ideologically opposed to the cuts (that aren't cuts), they need to be got rid of.

But, of course, assuming that Dave has been badly advised is mere supposition. After all, what we all really suspect is that our massively-foreheaded Prime Minister is actually a pro-EU demagogue using all of his political skill to push forward an agenda of further EU integration.

And still we wait for the revolution...

The Devil Abroad

Self-regarding? Moi...?

Your humble Devil is wandering around the country, summoning demons and spectres over the next few days.

However, if that cornucopia of evil delight doesn't appeal, both I and my lovely wife shall be attending the Libertarian Alliance Conference 2010 over the weekend.

Further, I shall be speaking at Warwick University on the 3rd of November, and at York University on the 4th of November. The theme of the former will be libertarianism over the last couple of centuries, and in the latter I shall be dwelling upon the progress of Our New Coalition Overlords&trade and how practical libertarianism might work in our wonderfully modern world.

After that, my lovely wife and I are heading up to my spiritual home city of Edinburgh, there to partake in friends, good pubs (that's Cloisters, for those not on Facebook), and general revelry.

Hopefully I shall see you in one of these places...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time for EU to see if they've lied (again)

A few weeks ago, I pointed out that the Tories' "referendum lock" on EU Treaties was a pointless piece of posturing that would be utterly ineffective, even if applied.

The whole issue has quickly become relevant because of the desire for the EU—driven by Germany—to gain control over Member States' economies. David Cameron was supposed to have won a great victory by enabling Britain to opt out of the EU's budgetary vetting, in return for supporting the three new EU QUANGOs gaining regulatory powers over the City and banking in general.

I would say that was, at best, a Pyrrhic victory and, at worst, a craven and stupid piece of negotiation which Cameron—and, more to the point, everyone else in Britain—is going to regret bitterly.

As President Sarkozy pointed out...
"Only four months ago, the words 'economic governance' were a taboo. But the idea is progressing."

Indeed. And it seems like Tough Dave Cameron is totally on board with the project. And even were he not, has Dave really managed opt out of EU oversight of the British budget?
In the words of a German diplomat, who upon reportedly hearing British claims of a victory at the summit, said, "Let's wait until October".

Well, it is now October and, sure enough, Douglas Carswell MP has found a puzzling piece of small print in the proposed Treaty.
If you read the European Commission document 11807/10 [PDF], however, it doesn’t seem quite so clear cut. Studying it, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the new rules on fiscal oversight are going to apply to all EU Member States, not just members of the Euro.

The paper – subtitled “Tools for stronger EU economic governance” – focuses on how Member States, not just Euro countries, “will act in compliance with the EU framework.” The “new structured mechanism” for vetting each countries budget will be applied to “all Member States”.

In or out of the Euro, the paper suggests Britain may indeed have her budget subject to EU Commission vetting – albeit that the time table for this “semester” process might allow officials to claim that the Commons gets to see it first.

And what if Brussels did not approve of the tax and spend policies of our democratically elected government?

If such rules only apply to Eurozone countries, why does page 5 of the document, under the heading “Corrective Action”, say that “This mechanism would apply to all Member States”. Use of that word “all”, again. If there’s a caveat saying “all” excludes Britain, I couldn’t find it.

On the next day, Douglas reminds us that "the cast iron guarantee" on the Lisbon Treaty was reneged on. And now there looks like there will be another Treaty—without any referendum.
Prepare for the government spin, which will likely say:

1. This new agreement involving France and Germany etc is not really a new treaty.

2. It doesn't involve giving the EU new powers in new areas. Just transfers in existing areas. And when we promised a referendum on any further transfer of new powers, we meant in new transfers of power within new areas. Obviously.

3. Besides, this is not a significant transfer of power. We were careful to say there'd be a referendum only when there were significant transfers. And we don't think this is significant. So there.

4. This new thingy, which isn't really a treaty, doesn't involve us, as we're not in the Euro. Despite what the small print [PDF] might say.

5. Anyhow, look how tough we've been, getting Europe to mug us for a little less with a slightly reduced budget increase!

By Friday, there's a fair chance you'll have been fed variants of all five of the above...

Of course, what the government actually seems to be doing is keeping the whole thing very quiet indeed.

This may, of course, be because there is nothing to worry about—Britain's opt-out is in an as-yet-unpublished addendum, and this isn't therefore a Treaty that transfers any powers. I'm sure that Eurogoblin, Nosemonkey (award-winning darling of the EU establishment) or Jon Worth will pop up and tell me that there is nothing to get excited about.

Unfortunately, Douglas believes this not to be the case, and another betrayal by the government is on the cards.
EU competence is to be extended into member state’s fiscal policy, with the power to make law for "all EU Member States". And it appears to have been kept hidden until today.

Not even the European Scrutiny Committee, I’m told, had sight of a paper by the “Task Force to the European Council” called “Strengthening Economic Governance in the EU” until today.

This hidden paper appears to confirm two things:

a) Despite what we were told in June, UK budgets will now become EU business. They might not be able to impose sanctions on us if they disapprove – yet. But they are involved.

b) According to the document, “The Task Force recommends a deeper macro-economic surveillance with the introduction of a new mechanism underpinned by a new legal framework .... applying to all EU Member States”.

Yep. That’s right. The EU is to legislate in a new area. In a way that could apply to all EU Member States.

And you thought there would be no further transfers of power to Brussels, eh?

Douglas's post is entitled "Have we been had?"

The answer, I'm afraid, looks to be "yes, we have been deceived by a bunch of utter bastards who are quite as unscrupulous and inimicable to the interests or desires of the British people as the previous administration."

In other words, not only will regulation of our great financial centre be controlled by Brussels but our supposedly sovereign government will still have to run its Budget through an EU vetting process. In other words, Euro or no Euro, the EU will control vast swathes of our economy.

And what can we do about it? Nothing, it seems—not whilst we are "led" (for want of a better word) by the spineless, massive-foreheaded Dave Cameron.

On my bookshelf, there is a well-thumbed copy of 2008's The Plan, signed by its two authors. Both messages, though concise, are personal—and embarrassingly flattering (I am, after all, a vain man). It is the one written by Douglas that finishes with this uplifting phrase:
Our time will come!

I certainly hope so, Douglas. But whilst I fail to lead a small party, and The Kitchen (a shadow of its former self) slides down the popularity rankings, you are in government—and yet seem almost as powerless as I.

Our time may well come—but if not now, when?

Why governments shouldn't invest

Wind turbines: still expensive, still pointless, still costing us billions of pounds.

The main reason that governments shouldn't invest is because they are utterly shit at picking winners—after all, their investments are made with magic money, which falls from the sky more of which can easily be extorted from taxpayers with the stroke of a pen—so who cares if they lose money, eh?

As another glaring example of just how utterly useless the state is at working out good investments, it's worth remembering that Our New Coalition Overlords™ are merrily spunking our cash up the wall on wind farms.

It's also worth reminding ourselves that, owing to the vagaries of the wind, these monstrosities currently are only providing some 25% of their rated power, and require 90% back-up from conventional power stations—if we rely solely on wind, the lights will go out. Fact.

Nonetheless, the government is investing in factories... Or, rather, they are pushing our money at massive corporations that are going to build factories.
... Britain celebrated more than £300m of investment in new manufacturing centres by rival manufacturers GE, Siemens and Gamesa. Following a boost from the government's Infrastructure Plan on Monday, GE said it would invest £100m in a manufacturing plant. Spanish firm Gamesa said it would spend €150m (£131m) setting up a worldwide centre for offshore wind, including a turbine factory; and Siemens said it would build an £80m wind turbine factory.

Hmmm. I'm not sure about "celebrated", but the Grauniad likes to put a positive spin on these things. Anyway, these companies are investing in new wind farms, and the government is providing "a boost", i.e. cash, in the form of capital, loans and, of course, the colossal subsidies that are the only things that make windmills in any way profitable.

How lovely.

But wait! What is this article actually about...?
Vestas, the Danish wind turbine manufacturer, said today it would close five production plants across Scandinavia and cut 3,000 jobs.

The group said the surge in demand for wind power it had hoped for in Europe had not materialised and it would have to shift production away from Denmark and Sweden towards Spain to protect profits.

It is closing four plants in Denmark and one in Sweden, including one in Viborg where it has been manufacturing since 1989. The factory moves follow Vestas' decision to move production of turbines away from the UK last year, when it closed its Isle of Wight facility.

It still employs 500 people in the UK, who are unlikely to be hit by the company's latest round of job cuts, but a spokesman could not it rule out. The company employs 250 research and development specialists on the Isle of Wight, and 250 other staff primarily at a sales centre in Warrington and a spare parts and repair plant in Bristol.

Right. So, a massive enthusiasm for building useless bloody windmills has not materialised because, presumably, everyone has realised that they are bloody useless.

So, just as Vestas is closing factories and shedding jobs, our government is providing "a boost" for other companies to set up windmill factories in this country.

Nice going, you morons.

A tip of the horns to The Englishman.

UPDATE: an interesting comment from Adam Bell...
... you've got this entirely wrong. Vestas make onshore turbines; notably 1.5MW and 3MW models. Siemens, GE and Gamesa are coming to the UK to build offshore turbines, which range from 6-10MW. Vestas doesn't yet have a player in this market, so isn't coming on board.

Demand for onshore has dropped in Denmark and Germany as all the good sites are taken up. Vestas is responding to the market by relocating its production facilities to places where onshore demand is strong, notably Spain and to a lesser extent the US. This is the market doing what it should.

Demand for wind and other renewables is still being driven less by environmental concerns than the very hard-headed realisation that it constitutes a useful hedge against rising gas prices. You know, as happens whenever Russia feels like Europe isn't paying it enough attention. As such, the economic downturn and the resultant lower commodity prices have decreased demand for renewables—but as soon as the economy picks up again that demand will return, most likely in 2013-4.

Food for thought?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Freedom Association hosts an idiot

Over at The Freedom Association website, there is an appallingly badly written article by some fool called Jonathan Jones. The commenting system over there gives no feedback and I have no idea whether my comment will be published or not, and so I replicate it below.
Wow. What a stunningly bad article...

Jonathan Jones shows very clearly that he has no idea what libertarianism is about, if only with the following line...
... affirming the inalienable right of the majority to force rules upon the minority."

Despite pointing to the Non-Aggression axoim, poor wee Jonathan obviously doesn't understand it: libertarianism does not recognise the "right of the majority to force rules upon the minority"—I think that you'll find that that is called "democracy".

The whole point of the Non-Aggression Axiom is that no one is allowed to force anything, rules or otherwise, on the minority—or, for that matter, on the majority.
"Libertarians argue that a government cannot stand without the support of the people."

Libertarians argue no such thing. Anarcho-libertarians believe that there should be no government; minarchist libertarians believe that the only thing that the government should exist for is the protection of its citizens (through the provision of national defence and, possibly, criminal justice).

I would fisk the rest of the article but I find it impossible because it makes no sense.

Read it.

It. Makes. No. Sense.

Why is Afghanistan in there? No idea. How does Afghanistan relate to libertariaism? It doesn't. How do the Americans or the Taliban relate to libertarianism? They don't. For that matter, how does George Washington relate to libertarianism? He doesn't.

What I take from this article is: the reason that Jonathan Jones is not a libertarian is because he believes that might is right. And, in this he is correct: for a libertarian, might is never right.

DK

Do go and read the article and see if you can make any sense of it.

Good luck.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How can they live with themselves taking it?

This is a great post by Charlotte Gore—and is a nice counter to those shrieking about "the cuts".
Say I steal £1 off 100 people and give you the £100. Should I do it a second time? Apparently refusing to do it a second time is a greater crime, because I’m denying you £100 that you’re now expecting. The poor suckers who are losing the £1? It’s only £1 isn’t it? Hardly worth getting in a flap over.

If they knew how much you really really needed that money, they’d be happy to cough up, right?

See, whilst many (most of them apparently on Twitter) are psychologically able to ignore, or excuse, or basically discount altogether the taking money from people bit of public spending, there are some of us that just can’t.

One day it occurs to ask the question, “What exactly gives them the right to help themselves to whatever they want?” and the answer turns out to be because they can. Then you get a bit angry and frustrated, feel almost entirely helpless then, just to make things that little bit worse, everyone else in the world comes and slaps you in the face for even daring to consider such heretical notions.

The taking from me bit doesn’t count. I don’t matter. It’s the no longer giving bit that counts. Think about how people feel! Think about all the things they could do with that money, or that job, or learn from those people or achieve with the support of those others! Don’t you understand? Have you no feelings?

Apparently not. I just keep thinking, “But it’s not your money. How can you live with yourselves taking it?”

And this is the point: if the government spends money on anything, anywhere, then they have to steal it from people first. Even if they borrow it today, it will still have to be paid back by the proceeds of extortion.

You want Sure Starts for your kids? That money has to come from somewhere—and it is taken from me, by force. You want Child Benefit?—that money must be stolen from the fruits of my labour. Ultimately, my lifestyle is curbed to the tune of about £600 every month so that someone else can live a lifestyle that they cannot afford on my money.

Are we truly nation of shopkeepers? No—Britain has become a nation of thieves and extortionists.

The problem is that most people don't think about where the money comes from: it is magic money that falls from the sky. Except it isn't. It is money that is stolen from other people so that they can live a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford.

Ultimately, the cuts are protested because people do not think about where the money came from originally, and because those in receipt of it think of the cash as their right. In far too many cases, we pay out large levels of benefits so that those living beyond their means are spared the embarrassment of begging their neighbours for a little charity.

If we want to put Britain onto a sustainable footing, these two things—understanding of where the money comes from and the shame of living on charity—need to be instilled in everyone.

Of course, one of the most succinct rebuttals to those screaming about the cuts is made by The Nameless Libertarian... [Emphasis mine.]
To all those complaining about the scale of the spending cuts, in particular those relating to welfare, here's a suggestion - if it bothers you that much, then find an applicable charity and donate money to it. That way you are doing your bit to help even though the government is no longer in a position to afford to help. And if you don't want to do that, then I'd like to politely suggest that you shut the fuck up.

To summarise, put your money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up.

Vindicated!

Your humble Devil has, for a number of years, pointed out that Nadine Dorries is a fucking liar.

How nice it is to be vindicated!

See The Appalling Strangeness for more on Mad Nad's fiction admission that 70% of her blog is fiction...

UPDATE: via Twitter, my good friend Bookdrunk reminds me of his pig-rocket...
Would Nadine Dorries now like to retract her previous claims, and apologise for calling her opponents liars? Or would you perhaps instead like to go to the moon on my pig-rocket?

Your humble Devil felt that Dorries was unlikely to apologise for any such thing and has been hassling Bookdrunk for that pig-rocket ride for some time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quote of the Day...

... comes from Mark Littlewood's assessment of what was fundamentally wrong with the Coalition's spending review.
The Coalition seems to have accepted the basic parameters they inherited from the previous administration and sought to make savings within them rather than fundamentally recasting the way the public sector works.

Quite. And we aren't going to get very far with that kind of attitude.

Mind you, with Our New Coalition Overlords™ having approved NuLabour's plan to spy on our every single piece of communication, we'll probably not dare say so—for fear of falling foul of one of the control orders (which allow house arrest without trial) that The Coalition has also decided not to scrap.

So, Our New Coalition Overlords™ are not cutting government spending and they are not restoring our civil liberties either. How incredibly depressing.

Welcome to the New Politics: same as the old politics.

Austerity hypocrites

Brendan O'Neill has a rather excellent article up at The First Post, pointing out that the Greens (and their Islington-dwelling useful idiots) are screaming hypocrites.
Liberal, left-wing and green-leaning commentators are outraged by George Osborne's spending review, claiming it will lower people's living standards and throw thousands on to the dole queue. Which is a bit rich, considering that many of the liberal intelligentsia have been agitating for austerity for years.

Time and again, liberal thinkers have told us that we must learn to live with less "stuff", for the sake of our own sanity and for the good of the people-plagued planet.

So don't be fooled by their crocodile tears today—they laid the cultural foundation stones for this age of hardship.

These austerity hypocrites have short memories. This week, the Guardian's George Monbiot wrote an angry piece about the Tory-led cuts agenda, claiming that it will help the rich and hurt the rest.

"When we stagger out of our shelters to assess the damage, we'll discover that we have emerged into a different world, run for their benefit, not ours", he said.

This is the same Monbiot who wrote a piece in 2007 titled 'Bring on the recession'.

"I hope that the recession now being forecast by some economists materialises", he said, because only a recession could give us "the time we need to prevent runaway climate change".

A recession would hurt poor people, he acknowledged—but that was a price worth paying to halt out-of-control economic growth.

Do go and read the rest—taking note of the names on the roll-call of shame...

Murdoch is not a libertarian

According to the BBC...
Rupert Murdoch is a libertarian—against too much state control, and in favour of individuals taking responsibility.

For the record, I agree with everything that The Appalling Strangeness has to say on this—Murdoch may be an economic liberal but that is not the same as being a libertarian.

Economic liberalism is, in fact, only one half of the equation: a libertarian is also socially liberal and I have yet to see The Scum, for instance, backing the legalisation of drugs.

But worse than that—Murdoch is a corporatist. His rags back whichever party Murdoch thinks will enable his News Corporation to wield the most power. Further, he deliberately backs parties in a way that makes them grateful and thus more likely to serve his agenda.

In other words, Murdoch gains legal advantage for himself and his businesses through effectively buying the legislators—he is, as I have said, a corporatist.

And there is nothing libertarian about corporatism.

Is Laurie Penny the stupidest woman on the face of the planet?

Look at it. That's Laurie Penny, that is. Fucking hell.

Timmy calls it grossly overblown rhetoric.

I call it a stupid, ugly, miserable, evil ignorant sack of weasel-vomit being paid too much to write filthy, lying, hyperbolic bullshit in order to pander to one of the world's most bigoted and moronic demographics—the bien-pensant, tofu-munching Lefty sheep-shaggers known as "the readers of The New Statesman".

I mean, how could anyone take this sentence seriously? [Emphasis mine.]
If [the Labour Party's] collective response to the greatest assault on social democracy in living memory is anything to go by, Labour has also lost sight of what it means to be a party of the left.

It might come as a bit of a surprise to Laurie Penny—who is, I assume, about thirteen years old—that there have been far greater assaults on "social democracy in living memory".

I fail to see, in any case, how cutting the amount of money that the state spends is, in any way, an attack on society—unless, of course, society revolves solely around money. I imagine that, for Laurie Penny, it probably is—after all, you'd have to pay me to spend a minute in her company.

And an attack on democracy? How is cutting government spending worse for democracy than Gordon "fucking" Brown's quite deliberate policy of extorting money and using it to buy votes?

And how is this possibly the greatest attack in living memory? This may come as a surprise to someone who probably can't remember the First Gulf War, Laurie, but there are still some people in this country who remember the Second World War.

(And, if you want to get pissy about it, the invasion of the Falkland Islands was arguably a greater assault on a social democracy by a military junta—it did, at least, involve some guns, missiles and lots of dead people.)

Still, I suppose that one should be grateful for the fact that dear old Maggie seems to be off the hook: the poor woman probably thought that she would be Laurie Penny's prime demon until she died. It seems, however, that Dave and Gideon are to be the greater hate figures for the Left.

Or that part of the Left that is represented by Laurie Penny anyway, i.e. the really fucking stupid part of it.

Luckily for Laurie, by the way, the answer to the post title is, "no, Laurie Penny is not the stupidest woman on the face of the planet": but that's only because Bevanite Ellie—surely one of the single most asinine creatures ever to grub around on this dirty ball of rock—is still around.

And mature, sophisticated and subtle though they may seem next to those of Ellie Gellard, it doesn't alter the fact that Laurie Penny's political views are slightly more black and white than footage of a Hitler rally, and about as well-meaning.

Yes, yes: I am sure that some people are going to pop up and say that I am exhibiting misogynistic tendencies—that I am only attacking this silly bitch because she is a woman. Believe me, that's not the case.

If I were a woman, I would be slitting my wrists—overcome by the way in which Laurie Penny shames my gender in general and the feminist cause in particular.

As it is, being a man (who knew?), I just feel a deep and abiding disquiet whenever I recall that I am part of the same species as the lack-witted creature that wrote this pile of cobblers... [Emphasis mine.]
They have knelt down and swallowed the Tory narrative that this recession is all Labour's fault, rather than the result of years of systematic global financial deregulation with which every major political party in Britain and America was until lately in agreement.

Er... Good fucking god—where to start? And how to put it in the kind of simple terms, Laurie, that a lackwit arse like you will understand?

Let's have a go...
  • The Labour government spent far more per year than they were able to steal from people in tax.

  • This "deficit" has been climbing steadily for the last decade—long before the recession hit.

  • Last year, Labour overspent by nearly £170 billion.

  • As a result, our declared national debt is nearly £800 billion.

  • Although, actually, our real national debt is actually somewhere nearer £8 trillion.

  • By 2016, just paying the interest on the debt is going to cost us in the region of £200 billion per year—or about £300,000 per household in Britain.

  • There is no fucking money left.

  • Despite the Coalition's "greatest assault on social democracy in living memory", they are on track to overspend by even more this year.

  • That is because there are no cuts in spending—only a cut in the increase in spending.

  • There. Is. No. Fucking. Money. Left.

It is about time that people—by which I mean commissioning editors—realised that Laurie Penny is not only a pig-ignorant self-serving nutcase, but also a bigoted, shallow fuckwit living in a fantasy world in which government spending is not the extorted product of people's hard work, but magic fucking money that falls from the sky.

Having said all of this (yes, yes: I know—very rude), the last paragraph of her pointless screed does contain some good points—more by luck than judgement. [Emphasis mine.]
That Labour does not have any answers for us is a disgusting display of the irrelevance of Westminster politics to the lives of ordinary citizens. If today's pathetic equivocation parade is a benchmark for the next four years of Labour politics, we will have to look elsewhere to find a voice in the hard, cold months ahead.

Westminster politics has long become irrelevant to the people of this country (except as an instrument of tyranny)—we know this.

But, more pertinently, Laurie, maybe (if you weren't a self-loathing sociopath) you might turn to real people, to the society that you profess to love, for comfort—rather than relying on the empty promises and meaningless platitudes of politicians to keep you warm at night.

Other than that, you'll just have to start putting some money into the meter, love...

UPDATE: removed "disappointing" link (see nwd comment below). We don't want another Gordon Brown's children debate, do we?*

UPDATE 2: if you want to know why I hold Penny Red—and others like her—in such contempt, it is because they are thieves, blackmailers and extortionists who do not even have the courage to do their thieving in person—instead contracting the state do to so on their behalf.

* An in-joke for very long-time readers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dear The Arts: get to fuck

Carpsio rants about the cuts—or, more precisely, the morons who think that there are any cuts in general, and the bastards who whinge on about cuts to the arts in particular.

After delivering a metaphorical but delightfully determined hoof to the knackers of Ken "bloody" Loach, Carps moves on...
Ditto then for Priyamvada Gopal, who says that the Government’s cuts to the arts will be akin to:
“…administering the lethal dose that will eventually wipe out humanistic disciplines”

My hackles rise every time I hear some fucking no-mark academic or artist claiming that unless they get “support” then their important work will go unnoticed and they’ll starve to death in a garret and society will revert to the dark ages. Well, firstly, that’s your look-out – not mine. Secondly, it’s fantastically, astronomically patronising to the millions of people from all classes, genders, sexualities and races who take an active interest in history, art, science and philosophy just…. because.

As if without the work these people do we’ll just become a nation of people whose horizons stretch no further than ASDA and ITV. You know what? Fuck off. It’s the reflexive snobbery of enlightened people who, because they’re enlightened, assume that no-one else is. And when they’re on that road they turn into the kind of cunt who wants to show off their erudition by “educating” the feckless masses they secretly despise.

Get fucked.

A hundred years ago, this land pulsed with clubs and societies where members did, through their own subscription, learn about and contribute to science, history and the arts. Today the internet groans with erudite, passionate, informed people sharing their love of obscure subjects with anyone who happens by. All for free and done for nothing more than love.

Beautifully delivered. Almost—dare I say it?—a work of art.

One thing's for sure: it's a fuck sight more enjoyable than a Ken Loach film, at any rate.

Quote of the Day...

... comes from Juliette's amusing discourse on lads' mags—I just thought that it was quite witty and, crucially at the moment, has absolutely fuck all to do with our political masters.
As for the ‘think of the children’ criticism of lads’ mags - whereby the fairy-like innocence of childhood will be irreversibly corrupted by glimpsing half-naked ladies on the lower shelves of WH Smith – I hate to break it to you, but you’re shutting the stable door after the horse has run off, lived a long happy life, dropped dead of old age and been sold for glue.

Very droll.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seriously, what is the point?

Lord Tebbit is rather worried about what William Hague is not telling us...
What brought the greatest cheers from the assembled Tory activists was Mr Hague’s final assurance: “A sovereignty clause on EU law will place on the statute book this eternal truth: what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign parliament can also undo”. That really does worry me. It is a general rule of life that if a man in a pub declares loudly that he is stone cold sober, the odds are that he is drunk.

A parliament which is sovereign has no more need to legislate to declare that to be so than a sober man has to announce his sobriety. Indeed, by so doing it casts doubts on whether it is or was sovereign.

Indeed. The simple fact is that our Parliament is not sovereign—it gave our powers away, and it will continue to do so.

I've given up trying to work out why, and I am currently past caring.

The Coalition is working out to be a massive pile of crap and I see nothing better on the horizon. All we can try to do is to carry on with our lives until the axe—fiscal or legal—finally falls.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Is it in their Nature to lie?

In his real life, your humble Devil is a Product Manager for a small software company. Given that it is a small software company, your humble Devil actually delves into the methods and programming of said software.

As such, I know a little about how software programming works, and what is considered acceptable and what is not—both by the programmers themselves, and by those performing the "acceptance tests".

Having established some vague credentials, I would like to draw your attention to this article in Nature—as highlighted by His Ecclesiastical Eminence—regarding the ClimateGate data releases last year.

As most people will know, most of the forensic fury was focused upon the emails exchanged between the key players in this fraud, but a few people started delving into the data that was released alongside those communications.

In fact, your humble Devil highlighted a large part of this in my collation of comments around the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file (a post that resulted in over 24,000 absolute unique visitors in one day).

What this file displayed was not what Nature dismisses as "wonky code", but an utter failure of any kind of systematic programming ability, plus a total lack of verification and testing.

As far as I—and, I am sure, most programmers—are concerned, the construction of models based upon such obviously inaccurate software is tantamount to fraud. Regardless, Nature does not agree...
When hackers leaked thousands of e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, last year, global-warming sceptics pored over the documents for signs that researchers had manipulated data. No such evidence emerged...

Where to start? The fact that there was far more data than the HARRY_READ_ME.txt file to examine, and I hadn't the time to collate the results—if anyone can donate links to those who did, please leave them in the comments.

But the HARRY_READ_ME.txt is enough: it details the lack of raw data, the rough estimates, the use of rainfall as a substitute for temperature, the use of synthetic data (i.e. "data" that was made up to fit the climatologists' prejudices) and any number of other really poor practices.

Are they fraudulent? Maybe not.

But the fact that the software programme created by Harry was used to construct the next lot of models—despite the fact that the file existed and that it is inconceivable that Harry didn't tell his employers what a fucking massive pile of shit it was—most certainly is.

These people knew that the software did not operate according to specification, but they used it anyway. FAIL.

These people knew that much of the original data was missing, corrupted or faked, but they used it anyway. FAIL.

These people knew that, together, these factors would produce results that were incorrect. FAIL.

These people knew that, regardless, the software would produce the result that they wanted. FRAUD.

But the killer comment is made by Bishop Hill...
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but none of the inquiries actually looked at the computer code, apart from there being a brief word from Tim Osborn in evidence to Muir Russell, denying that the bodges he'd mentioned affected published results. I'm pretty sure the Harry Readme was not looked at by any of the inquiries.

You are not wrong. None of the "independent" enquiries looked at the code, and this was for the same reason that none of the media rebuttals mentioned the code.

The reason that it was only the emails that were mentioned was that they had some kind of plausible deniability. Excuses were wheeled out, along the following lines...

"Oh, don't worry! Scientists are always having little spats. These were personal emails, not intended for release."

Well, we know that they weren't intended for release because the scientists in question were all urged to delete data and emails to prevent them being released under FoI.

This was to ignore the fact that the data had been examined—the code had been examined too. And from looking at those files, there were only two conclusions to draw:
  1. the climatologists were deliberately defrauding the community about their results (very likely), or

  2. the climatologists were so fucking incompetent that their data and results mean nothing at all (even more likely), or

  3. both.

Either way, there is simply no way that we should be restructuring the world economy—and, by the by, killing fuck-loads of poor people—on this evidence.

Of course, facts, logic and science are seriously unlikely to trouble the idiots at Nature—they might lose some of their share of "the money flood"...

The Blog Society

Your humble Devil doesn't know where Anna Raccoon has gone: right now her domain is showing a placeholder, and it may be that she has simply forgotten to renew it. Or something else may have happened. (Grumpy Old Twat writes a eulogy, but seems to have no more idea than I: all we know is that her online presence has been entirely obliterated.)

However, I had meant to find time to write a comment on her superb article entitled The Blog Society and, as such, it was still in my Dock—waiting for some attention. However, whilst Anna is not around (and until we find out what has happened), I have chosen to re-publish the article, because it is such an important and excellent example of how we pimply, single, cauliflower-nosed loners can help ordinary people.

Let us hope that Anna returns in short order to complain about me hijacking her work—in the meantime, however, read and enjoy...

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The Blog Society


Did you hear it? Friday night, around tea-time? The crunch of gears engaging, the whine of engines turning over. Perhaps you smelt the noxious diesel fumes as Sandwell Borough Council revved up their engines, lowered their gun turrets and reversed their tanks off the front lawn they have been parked on for the past 136 days?

Sheila Martin’s front lawn. Sandwell Borough Council have blinked. Backed down. Taken their ball and gone home.

Sheila Martin, a frail 70 year old widow, in severe ill health, who had committed the dastardly offence of nibbing her cigarette and letting the lighted end fall to the floor, whilst dutifully stowing the ‘butt’ end in her handbag, is no longer to be prosecuted.

In the eyes of the apparatchiks employed by Sandwell Borough council as ‘enforcement wardens’, that millimetre of lit and sterile cigarette ash constituted ‘the discarded end of a cigarette’ within the meaning of section 98 of the Environmental Act 1990 as amended by Section 18 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, and Sheila was to pay £75 for the crime of not putting burning cigarette ash into her handbag like a good little girl.

Adam Aspinall of the Sunday Mercury, Sheila’s local Sunday paper, was incredulous when he heard this news. He wrote a small piece for his paper that Sunday describing the subsequent events, detailing how Sheila had been threatened with a £2,500 fine for not paying the original fine.

I happened to read it; I wanted to speak to Sheila, I wanted to know more. I spent the better part of a day methodically telephoning everyone in the Oldbury area with the name of Martin. There are an awful lot of them—none of them turned out to be Sheila.

It didn’t occur to me initially to contact the paper—journalists and bloggers, they’re like oil and water aren’t they? At permanent war with each other, hurling insults with vicious abandon. I came from the ‘stench of the blogosphere’; that famed sewer; one of the pajamahadeen that journalists delight in looking down on. Some 40 phone calls later, in desperation, I thought it might be worth a call to the high moral ground of the newspaper.

I was in for a surprise. I had carefully marshalled my credentials; I had been instrumental in getting Nick Hogan out of jail when he had been an unfair victim of the anti-smoking legislation, I had a respectable readership, I was sure I could help Sheila Martin fight this iniquitous penalty; pumped up with self righteous adrenaline I was all ready for them to put me down.

They didn’t. Adam Aspinall was delighted that someone could help Sheila, he had been affected by her story too, and he was not a heartless hack thinking only of his next by-line. His problem, one shared with every other regional paper, was lack of resources. Newspaper no longer have spare lawyers sitting around their offices with nothing better to do than advise on legal technicalities; journalists are driven by deadlines, and the requirements of their advertising departments. His Editor couldn’t spare him to spend hours researching similar stories, writing letters, reading legal cases, phoning local councillors—but the Blogosphere could do all that and more!

We verbally shook hands on a deal. Adam would give me all the information he had—including the precious phone number of Sheila’s neighbour, if I would agree to publish nothing ahead of his Sunday deadline and share everything I had with him.

It was a deal that was to come under severe pressure when a major Sunday National became aware of one of the earlier stories I had written on Sheila. They contacted me; could I put them in touch with Sheila? Whyfore? Oh, you know, this was just a story in the Blogosphere and they had to check it out for themselves. My response was to say sorry, no can do. Half an hour later they phoned again. Was she Sheila Martin of ‘X’ Road. No, I said she wasn’t. Why was I being so awkward, they asked? They were intending to make a big story out of this; they might even mention my name—whoo hoo! The information simply wasn’t mine to give away, I said. Another half hour and they were back—they’d pay me, a not insignificant sum, and by the way, was she Sheila Martin of ‘Y’ Road? No she wasn’t! They were welcome to use what I had written already—I could hardly stop them, it was out there on the internet—but I wasn’t at liberty to give them any more than that.

Another half hour of that Saturday night rolled by—closer to their deadline, as I’d realised by now. The phone rang once more – they could double their offer. Wow! Why, I asked, were they so keen on gaining her phone number? Well, they had a photographer standing by in Birmingham—at 10pm at night, and thought they might just call round to this elderly lady’s house and surprise her in her nightgown and get a picture of her smoking to go with their story. They thought they might even get it on their front page. They’d ‘give me a name check’ and if I ever wanted to get into journalism it would be useful for me...

That entire exchange encapsulates why I would never want to get into journalism, why I am happy to be a ‘semi-literate blogger’—I would never want to be subjected to the pressures that see Sheila’s distress and fragility as fodder to fill a late night deadline on a slow news day. Her dignity and privacy invaded for a handful of tenners.

The following morning the Sunday Mercury and I both published our new stories on Sheila. The response of the Blogosphere was extraordinary—within a couple of hours I had more e-mails than I had comments—and the comments were at that time running around the 50 mark, a figure now way out of date. I had e-mails from Barristers and Academics, Solicitors and Local Authority Legal Advisors—all willing and able to pitch up with their specialist knowledge on Sheila’s behalf—free of charge. Detailed information on the legal technicalities behind her offence positively poured out of them. By the end of that first night we had a legal team that would not have disgraced the defence team for a major conspiracy trial at the Old Bailey.

We also had e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers for virtually everyone on the staff at Sandwell Council, home addresses, photographs of their houses for heavens sake, even, in one case, a photograph of the aluminium wheels on their BMW that were for sale on e-bay—the cuttings library at the Old Mirror building was famed for the ability with which it could come up with a cornucopia of information on any obscure subject; I would pitch the wit and wisdom of the Blogosphere against their sleuthing skills any day.

That was the network that the Sunday Mercury was able to engage with, and by putting their trust in the energy, expertise and exchange of information that the Blogosphere with its predominantly Libertarian ethos is so good at, and combining it with their on the ground knowledge, and contacts, together we have achieved a remarkable result.

Sandwell Borough Council has finally decided, after 136 days, that ‘it is not in the public interest’—decode that as you will!—to persecute Sheila Martin any longer. She was not just a frail elderly widow who would bow to their demands; behind her there was a mighty powerhouse, the combined forces of their local paper and the blogosphere that was marking their every footstep, dogging their every incompetence, detailing their every inaction, and Sheila didn’t look such an attractive ‘mark’ any longer.

Sheila is delighted; she has said:
“This whole process has been one long nightmare and my health is suffering as a result.

“The stress of everything has caused me to collapse twice and end up in hospital; I don’t know how much more I can take.

“If I was guilty it wouldn’t be a problem but I’m not so while there is breath left in me I will fight but I have to admit it is taking its toll now.

“What I cannot understand is why it is taking so long, surely it is costing the taxpayer lots of money to deal with this and it is a load of nonsense.

“It is funny how I haven’t seen one single enforcement officer since this came out and when you walk outside the council building the streets are full of cigarette butts and fag ends – where were they when that happened or do they belong to council employees?

“I am just so glad that I have had support from the Sunday Mercury and the internet bloggers because otherwise I would have felt so alone.”

I am delighted too. Not just for Sheila, but for a new era. One where the main stream media and the Internet can learn to work together. There are strengths and weaknesses on both sides, together we are more than the sum of our respective parts. Together we form the Blog Society—an Internet based version of the Big Society, which has the expertise and initiative to force back the cold, dead, hand of the State, and right the petty wrongs it imposes on decent men and women like Sheila.

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It used to be that no person could be fined or have their property seized in any way without a court order; it used to be that going to court meant being judged by a jury of one's peers. This is no longer the case.

We endure fines and confiscations at the whim of a mindless bureaucracy who then use our money to further constrict our freedoms.

And regardless of whether this is "the will of the population" (and I very much doubt that it is), this must stop.

A massive thanks must go to Anna and the others who have made a stand in this case. And I hope that Sandwell Council's officers, officials and councillors all burn in hell—along with any others who try the same.

Unfortunately, they won't, because the British people have exchanged their freedoms for security—and we all know how that ends up.

I wouldn't mind but, thanks to the wonder of the world that is democracy the tyranny of the majority, they have taken all of us with them...