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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Of referenda and briefing papers...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/20/2011 10:49:00 pm

So despite the LibDems campaigning at the last election on a In/Out referendum, it appears that Clegg has decided to whip his MPs to vote against it. Adenoidal Ed has followed suit—either because he can't think for himself, or because he is as much of a mendacious shit as Cameron and Clegg.

What are they so scared of?

Well, thanks to Mark Wallace, I see that the briefing paper sent to Tory MPs has been posted—so let's have a look at the justifications, shall we?
The national interest is for Britain to be in Europe, not run by Europe.

That is just your opinion. But I am sure, if it really is in the national interest, I am sure that you would have no problem convincing the British people of your position. Right...?
That is why Conservatives want to get powers back from Brussels to Britain, particularly over social and employment legislation.

So, how's that working out for us? Let's have a look at the Conservatives' record in this short government...
  1. They have signed up for an extension of the European Arrest Warrant, and brought in new powers for foreign police to operate on British soil through the European Investigation Order.

  2. Oliver Letwin apparently became immensely frustrated at how the EU ties the hands of British ministers.

  3. The Tories implemented the Agency Worker Regulations—which gives temporary workers the same rights as permanent ones—which is, by the government's own estimates, going to cost £1.9 billion. And, almost certainly, all but destroy the agency workers' market.

  4. Call Me Dave asks for plaudits for holding the EU's budget increase down to a mere 2.9%, whilst simultaneously signing over control of both our finances and our financial institutions to the EU.

  5. Ian Duncan Smith writes that EU laws that demand we give lots of benefits to anyone who turns up will, in fact, screw his reform plans.

I think that, given that the above is a far from exhaustive list, that we could summarise the Tories' efforts to "get powers back from Brussels" as being... well... a bit shit.

In fact, they have signed over more powers to Brussels. Which brings us to...
We also need to make sure that there is no further transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels without the say of the British people. That’s why for the first time ever this Government has introduced a referendum lock which means that any transfer of powers from Britain to Brussels would require the approval of the British people in a referendum.

And, as a number of us pointed out at the time, this referendum is not worth the paper it's printed on. There are innumerable ways around this "referendum lock", including bare-faced deceit.
An in/out referendum or a confusing and unclear three way referendum does nothing to advance these objectives.

As illustrated above, this Tory-led government has brought in more EU laws, costing us yet more money. And I haven't even bothered to mention the bail-out cash that has wiped out any savings that the Coalition was claiming to make this year.

So, if nothing else, a referendum will clarify whether the British people—you know, the ones who supposedly have the power in a democracy—agree with you or not. I'm guessing—as I wrote yesterday—that the answer will be that they don't.

That's evidently what Call Me Dave thinks anyway.

So, what other stonkingly good reasons have Tory central office got for remaining within the EU...?
The value of the EU Single Market to the UK.
The Single Market is vital to the UK’s prosperity:
  • The EU gives UK business access to the world’s largest market.

So? We could still leave the EU and access the Single Market: you have you heard of EFTA, I take it?
  • European markets account for half of the UK’s trade and foreign investments, providingaround 3.5 million jobs.

  • In the year to July 2011 the total value of the UK’s trade in goods exported tothe EU was £92.7 billion. (HMRC, UK trade info, 1 July 2011, link), compared to £77.4 billion for exports to countries outside the EU (HMRC, UK trade info, 9 September 2011, link).

  • Around 3.5 million jobs in theUK are linked to the export of goods and services to the EU (BIS, The UK and the Single Market: Trade and Investment Analytical Papers 4, 2011).

Once again, I say "so what?" There are other ways of accessing this market: ways that do not require all of us to submit to EU regulations.

And that is a big point: yes, should we leave, companies that trade with the EU would have to abide by EU Regulations. But companies that do not would not have to.

And 80% of our trade is internal. In other words, we unnecessarily load 100% of our businesses with oodles of bureaucratic red tape for the sake of 10% of our trade.

That's insane. And massively expensive.

It's difficult to tell quite how expensive, but an Open Europe report [PDF] estimated that complying with EU regulations cost some £124 billion between 1998 and 2009—with the cost being £32.8 billion in 2009 alone. A 2004 Civitas report [PDF] put the cost at somewhere between £5 billion and £20 billion every year.

The same report attempted to assess the cost of EU membership to Britain in toto and concluded that...
Overall, the net cost of remaining in the EU ranges from the rock-bottom estimate of £15 billion to the ‘most likely’ of £40 billion.

And that cost is for every, single year that we remain a part of this nightmarish and undemocratic institution. Furthermore [emphasis mine]...
The author questions whether it is wise to link our fortunes to a region of the world with a poor record of economic growth and whose share of both world markets and GDP is destined to fall. Even the European Commission takes a gloomy view of the EU’s prospects.17 In its December 2002 review it forecast a 44 per cent decline in the EU-15 share of global GDP from 18 per cent in 2000 to ten per cent in 2050. In 2050, as in 1950 and 2000, the three most populous countries in the world are likely to be India (1.6 billion), China (1.5 billion) and the USA (0.4 billion). The working-age population of the EU, even after its current enlargement to 25 members, is projected to decline by 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2050; whereas the working-age popula- tion of the USA is expected to increase by nearly one-third.

In 2006, the Bruges Group came up with a cost (for that year) of some £52 billion, and a total of £200 billion since 1973—simple maths will show that the costs over the years have increased at an alarming rate.

The economist Patrick Minford, also in 2006, concluded leaving the EU would give a boost to the British economy of some 2.5% (roughly £45 billion at that time).

And Strange Stuff pulled together a number of different sources when he wrote this pithy little number (also in 2006).
However the EU also prevents the UK from many potentially good opportunities. Such as in 2003 when
a Bill was introduced in the Senate that would have created a free-trade agreement between the two countries. Alas, Blair had to decline this, shamefacedly (I’d like to think) having to point out that this country had no right to negotiate international trade agreements.

Free trade with the USA is not the only area that Britain could have been trying for, free trade agreements with fast growing Brazil, India, or China might have been possible where we not in the EU. Or Africa, allowing us cheaper food, and the African nations a way to build up their economies. But instead Britain is shackling to the slowly sinking states of old Europe and is impoverishing Africa thanks to the EU's CAP.

Estimating the costs of these lost opportunities can lead to total figures such for the cost of being in the EU that are truly horrendous.
when one adds on the costs described earlier to the opportunity costs, the current recurring annual net cost to the UK of EU membership is ten percent of GDP, or approximately £100 billion per year at present levels of UK GDP.

this from a newsletter in 2004 [PDF], so the numbers will probably have gone up since then. That rather makes the 20 billion that Mr Hague claims that the UK gets from the common market seem rather insignificant.

Really ramping up the stakes, in 2009, was a TPA-endorsed book—The Great European Rip-off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU is Taking Control of Our Lives.
In the book, the authors estimate that the total cost of the EU to European taxpayers [PDF] is...
... around €2,460 (£1,968) per citizen, €1,219 (£975) billion per year.

That is a staggering amount of money (almost enough to bail the continent out of the current crisis!).

Significantly, no government has ever published—or, as far as we are aware, even undertaken—a cost-benefit analysis of Britain's membership of the EU: one has to wonder why not if, as they claim, the benefits are so evident...?

The conclusion can only be that, in fact, the costs far outweigh the benefits.

Yes: we all know that leaving the EU will not automatically reduce these costs significantly—a great deal of legislation would have to be unpicked, etc. However, what is absolutely the case is that these costs cannot be reduced whilst we remain within the European Union.

Anyway, the rest of the briefing paper expands on the previous wank so I won't fisk all 12 pages. What is very clear, however, is that if the famous referendum lock is shown to be ineffective, smoke and mirrors bullshit then CCHQ's entire defence comes crashing down.

The only vaguely interesting things are a couple of selections from the Hostile Questions section.
Q: Why are you imposing a three line whip?
The 2010 manifesto, on which Conservative MPs were elected, did not advocate withdrawal from Europeor an in/out referendum. It is not Conservative Party policy.

Similarly, the Conservatives are clear that we should bring back powers from Brussels to Britain so what we need is a Conservative majority government, not an in out referendum or a confusing three way referendum.

This is, of course, the expected bollocks—bolstered by an entire section on how evil Labour are on this matter (hardly relevant since all three main parties seem to be aligned on this issue).
Q: Why won’t you let the British people have their say?
The British people should have their say on any further transfers of power from Britain to Brussels. That’s why this Government has introduced a referendum lock that guarantees for the first time ever the British people a referendum in these circumstances.

See?—I told you: this referendum lock is the crux of all answers on this topic. It features even more prominently than the economic reasons for, I'd suggest, the very reasons that I outlined above.
An in/out referendum would be a false choice: it wouldn’t give a choice to the mainstream of British opinion who want to be in Europe, not run by Europe and want to see powers brought back. We all agree on that and, to be fair, the motion tries to deal with that.

Riiight. So, an in/out referendum wouldn't cut it but this one would.

An in/out referendum wouldn't give a choice to "the mainstream"; but this isn't a plain in/out referendum—there is a third option. And option, in fact, that would allow "the mainstream" to make their choice known.
But a three-way referendum would be so confusing and unclear three way choice it’s very hard to see how it would resolve anything.

Translation: you, the British people, are so stupid that you cannot understand the three simple options open to you. I see.

So, whilst the British people are, apparently, clever enough to vote for the Conservatives—and for the result to be, er, legitimate enough for those same Conservatives to deny us a say—on a whole raft of issues, they cannot deal with picking one of three clear choices.

Riiiight.

Oh! Oh, though! I bet you can't guess what the solution would be...
If we want tosee powers brought back from Brussels the answer is a majority Conservative Government.

Gosh, that was a surprise, eh? Were you surprised?—I know I was.

Not.

Oh, and there is one outright lie in the document: can you spot it...?
Q: What concessions do you think we should seek from Europe in return for the closer integrationthat will occur as a result of the Eurozone crisis?
We want to see a prosperous Eurozone. Forty per cent of our trade is with the Eurozone so it is strongly in our own national interest to support Eurozone countries in dealing with their problems.

Did you spot it? Yes, that's right: 40% of our trade is not done with the Eurozone at all. The figure is—and I cannot stress this strongly enough—no more than 10%. In fact, here is your humble Devil's quick breakdown of trade facts...
  • Britain's internal trade: 80%

  • Britain's trade externally: 100%-80% = 20%

  • Britain's trade with the world, excluding the EU: 10%

  • Britain's trade with the EU: 10%

  • Britain's trade with the Eurozone: 40% of 20% = 8%

  • 10% of current GDP is somewhere in the region of £120 billion

I hope that's clear enough for everyone. Perhaps even a Conservative MP might actually be able to get them into what passes for a brain—though I doubt it.

The whole briefing document makes one thing abundantly clear (just in case you hadn't got it already): these fuckers hold us in total contempt. And nothing will change until we rise up and hang them all from the lamp-posts...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/20/2011 10:49:00 pm


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Tory Taliban

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/19/2011 10:56:00 pm

A conversation at a book launch, back in March, took place between your humble Devil and the oleaginous (and rather short) Brooks Newmark MP—a government whip who will, no doubt, be shortly bullying our elected representatives into voting against our interests...

This lovely little chap was describing, with some relish, how he has to keep MPs in line—describing them as "the Tory Taliban". Your humble Devil is not a sensitive fellow, but I thought that "the Tory Taliban" was a little harsh: after all, said MPs only vote against the government, not cut the noses and ears off teenagers.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of gathering amusing data, your humble Devil suggested a couple of names of MPs who might qualify as "the Tory Taliban"—names such as Douglas Carswell and Steve Baker.

It will not surprise any of my readers to hear that the two names were confirmed: nor that the immensely self-satisfied Brooks Newmark told a terribly amusing story about having to remind Steve Baker that "he was elected as a Tory MP" and that he had better play ball or else face deselection.

Don't you love the way that party politics works...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/19/2011 10:56:00 pm


Cameron reveals his true colours

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/19/2011 09:56:00 pm

So, it seems that there will be a debate in the House of Commons on whether we should have a referendum on our membership of the European Union.
So here it is. On Thursday October 27th [Monday 24th October—DK], the House of Commons will vote on the following motion:
"This house calls upon the government to introduce a bill in the next session of parliament to provide for the holding of a national referendum on whether the united kingdom:
  1. should remain a member of the European Union on the current terms;

  2. leave the european union; or

  3. re-negotiate the terms of its membership in order to create a new relationship based on trade and co-operation"

Of course there might be some spolier amendments tabled to try to confuse the issue. Perhaps the whips might try a few tricks. But regardless, we know that there will be a division of the House of Commons on the motion above.

Well, let joy be unconfined! Not.

In some ways, this motion is welcome: for starters, by the time of the proposed referendum Bill (sometime in the next session), the EU should be even more of a basket-case than it is now. And, as regular readers will know, your humble Devil has argued against a referendum until the full damaging horror of our membership this institution has been properly realised by the British people.

However, there are many things about this supposed triumph that very much fail to register on my "whoops—that's fucking amazing"-ometer.

First, the third option simply isn't an option: as EUReferendum puts it...
... we can no more have a relationship with the EU than can Tim Montgomerie have a relationship with his left foot – or vice-versa.

And our EU colleagues are most certainly not going to allow a "renegotiation"—for which read "the UK contributes less cash" (just for starters)—at a point when they need all of the piggy-banks that they can get their hands on.

Second, however, the whole issue has revealed Cameron to be the lying fucking shitbag that your humble Devil has always maintained him to be. That's right: Dave "cast-iron" Cameron has issued a three-line whip to his MPs—to vote against the motion!
Even as MPs agreed to hold a Commons vote on a referendum, government sources made clear that the Tories would be whipped to vote against a poll.

Mr Cameron's decision to impose a three-line whip has angered many MPs, since the vote was called under rules the Coalition promised would give backbenchers more freedom.

The back-bench business committee yesterday voted to hold a debate on the issue on Oct 27 after more than 100,000 people signed a petition demanding a choice.

The Prime Minister, who has expressed his desire to take back some powers from Brussels, is publicly opposed to a referendum and will order his MPs to vote against it.

But why?

The Buttered New Potato has always maintained that he wants to "repatriate powers from the EU": well, what better mandate could he possibly have if he could persuade the majority of people to vote for the (non-existent) third option?

And if everyone voted to maintain our relationship with the EU, then Dave could happily restate his intention to "repatriate powers" but actually do—as has been the case so far—less than fuck all.

For two out of the three possible answers, Dave hits a winner.

So why on earth would he oppose such a referendum—especially when he claims himself to be such a believer in the power of democracy?

Could it be...? No! No, surely not!

Could it really be that Call Me Dave believes that the British people would vote for withdrawal? And could it be that Big Dave believes that, even if they did, that he should ignore the result?

No. It can't be.

It must be because... Um. Well...

But, even if the above motion were passed, the decision would not be binding on the government: they wouldn't even have to hold a referendum—let alone abide by its result. So what is Dave so scared of...?

Can it be that our massively-foreheaded, "cast-iron promise" Prime Minister is, in fact, a ravening EUphile who has been attempting to quell the ever-increasing contempt in which the EU is held by promising a tough stance that he has no intention of delivering?

Yes—I think it can.

The EUsceptic Conservative Party leadership is now exposed for the myth that it always was.

The only question now is... How many of the Conservative Party MPs actually have the belief and balls to defy the whips and vote in the right way—on the side of decency, of sovereignty and of democracy—and how many will betray this country in favour of their own, selfish careers? Cameron has revealed his true colours—how many of our MPs will now have the courage to back theirs?*

This will be a referendum on more than our membership of the EU: the vote on the motion itself will decide the intrinsic value—or, as I suspect, lack of it—of our entire system of "representative" democracy...

* Yes, Douglas, Steve and John—I am looking at you in particular...

UPDATE: Hmmm. Thanks to Katabasis in the comments, it seems that our Lords and Masters might be rather more scared than we thought...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/19/2011 09:56:00 pm


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just a reminder...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/11/2011 12:28:00 am

With regard to my post about special laws for certain communities below, I would like to remind readers of an article that I wrote some time ago called Divide et impera.
It's one of the oldest strategies in the book: divide and rule. And few governments in living memory have been so adept at it as NuLabour: it has been at the heart of many of their policies. They have divided the peoples of the Union; they have divided, through QUANGOs and censuses emphasising differences, black, brown and white peoples of the Union. Through jealousy they have divided rich and poor.

"Fear not," says the government, "for the state—and only the state—can save you!" And then they proceed to divide some more. Devolved governments (but with little power), harsher sentences for "racist" crimes, and the stealing of more money from "the rich" to hand out as gifts to the poor.

The brilliant bit about this tactic, as applied by NuLabour, is that it encourages people to think of each other group not as fellow human beings, but as people below or different from them. "They aren't a person like I am, they are just a toff/darkie/Muslim/Scot/Sassenach/Taff/idiot, etc."

And so people get angry and demand solutions, they demand concessions for their own particular group and guess what?—the state can help you, friend, for the state is the friend of everyone. The state is the righter of all wrongs, the great arbiter, the generous donor of largesse. And as each group is appeased so the jealousy and resentment of the others are inflamed and they demand special treatment for themselves and more shoddy treatment for "those others".

And so it is that the government have been able to put through some disgusting laws, by aiming them at groups that the other groups dislike. 42 days detention without trial?—well, it'll only apply to terrorists, and they're all Muslims or at the very least darkies, eh?

The scrapping of double jeopardy, habeas corpus and trial by jury?—well, that'll only apply to the eeevil criminals (no matter that they have yet to be proven such). Oh, and the darkies, of course. And the poor.

The confiscation of your assets before you are even found guilty, or reversing the burden of proof for the confiscation of assets? Well, that'll only apply to drugdealers and the like.

And none of these people are really human, are they? Not like me.

And that's how they get us; that's how they pass those laws. And, they say that they won't use them except in the most exceptional circumstances, and only against those people who aren't really human.

It's nice to see that "the heir to Blair" has trod close in his master's footsteps...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/11/2011 12:28:00 am


Monday, October 10, 2011

Why state sector budgets rise every year

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/10/2011 09:16:00 pm

John Redwood gives us this handy cut-out-and-keep guide—from when he was a County Councillor—as to why public sector budgets rise year on year.
When I first entered the public sector as a County Councillor I was amazed at the extraordinary way the finances of a large public body were organised. It seemed designed to prevent sensible controls being placed on spending.

I joined the Finance Committee. I was working as a finance professional in my main job. I found the very long papers we were sent for each meeting also impossible to understand. They used all sorts of funny numbers to prevent you working out how much cash was being spent. They changed the year base for the budgets, they used inflation adjusted numbers without explaining properly how the inflation adjustment was judged, or where the future forecasts of inflation came from. They assumed that once an item had made it into a budget it would be rolled forward and augmented every year as an inescapable commitment. Figures were in “real terms” rather than cash.

Each year’s budget was an exercise in officer lobbying for more spending. Instead of showing you what was being spent and leaving you to decide what to delete and what to increase, they added all sorts of figures into the previous year’s budget to give you a “New base budget” for the following year. This added in sums for inflation, for “unavoidable commitments”, for “new functions required by Statute”, for “consequences of past decisions”, for “responsibility and age related pay allowances”, for “pension commitments” and the rest. By the time they has finished they normally reckoned that anything less than say a 7% increase would require “cuts”, as you were invited to assume the adjusted budget and then apply the knife at your peril if you were someone who clearly did not understand the remorseless arithmetic of more public spending. If you insisted on a lower budget they would then oblige with the parade of bleeding stumps, offering up a list of cuts that no sane person let alone a politician could possibly approve.

And a shorter guide on how to curb these sly and dishonest measures...
I asked for shorter cash budgets, with clear figures for the main spending heads so we could have an informed debate over what worked, what needed improving, and what could be removed. The officers called that “zero base budgets”, because we refused to accept that anything in the previous year’s budget automatically qualified for the following year. We also wanted to analyse all the so called unavoidable commitments, as these were often judgements or concealed “growth items” which otherwise appeared as a smaller different list for Councillor decision.

"You gotta ask yourself one question..."

Where I ever in such a position, I would announce that any civil servant bringing a first draft budget that was higher than the previous year's would be sacked instantly.

Said civil servant might, of course, calculate that no one would go through all of the trouble of fighting the inevitable union bollocks, and employment tribunals and suchlike.

On the other hand, perhaps they'd like to ask themselves one question...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/10/2011 09:16:00 pm


With this manacle, I thee wed

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/10/2011 08:53:00 pm

Over at the Commentator, Hannah Stuart has lauded Dave Cameron's plans to make forced marriage illegal.
In a speech on immigration today, Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to criminalise forced marriage, a move that is likely to have a strong impact on tackling the wider issue of honour-based violence in this country.

Forced marriage should not be conflated with arranged marriage: individuals enter into arranged marriages voluntarily; whereas people forced into marriage are usually tricked into going abroad, physically threatened and/or emotionally blackmailed to do so.

No, Hannah—no, no, no!

One of the tendencies that we all used to excoriate NuLabour for was their mania for making law after law after law.

"Don't make more laws," we cried. "Just bloody well enforce the ones that we already have!"

The same is precisely true for this case. Much as I deplore forced marriages, the laws to tackle such things are already on the statute books: both kidnapping and slavery are illegal already (as defined in a number of different offences)—simply enforce the laws that we already have!

And I don't care whether this will help tackle the "wider issue of honour-based violence in this country": assault, rape and murder are already illegal—once again, simply enforce the laws that we already have!

Further, it will more shame the perpetrators of these, frankly, fucking horrible crimes to be tried as common criminals—seen to be no different from any other rapist or killer—rather than as martyrs to their own special law.

If you want to send a strong message to certain people that their barbaric cultures are not special, that their actions are not somehow exempt because it is part of their "traditions", then prosecute them to the full extent of the criminal law as it currently exists.

Prosecute them as rapists; prosecute them as women beaters; prosecute them as murders. But, for fuck's sake, don't introduce yet more special laws: charge and convict these scum under the existing laws, so that they understand that they are not exempt from the law of this land.

And, in the name of all that's unholy, Cameron, fulfil your own promises and start cutting some laws—not imposing more!

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/10/2011 08:53:00 pm


Sunday, October 09, 2011

It's in our their DNA

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/09/2011 04:16:00 am

Over at Orphans of Liberty, Longrider lists a good number of ways in which this government—supposedly devoted to civil liberties—has utterly failed to curb the state's intrusion into the most personal aspects of our lives.

There's one particular part that I want to touch on, and that is the retention of DNA.
The retention of the DNA of innocent people is illegal. It took the European court to tell the previous shower that it is illegal. I was not surprised when Labour chose to ignore the ruling. I cannot say I am over surprised that the current lot are doing likewise. Forget all that stuff about the Human Rights legislation, it is a basic violation of the individual to take something by force and to keep it on record when they are innocent of any crime.

I would go further—the police should not take DNA unless they are dealing with suspects of a crime. And, once the perpetrator of the crime has been established, they should destroy said DNA records.

When your humble Devil was done for drink-driving, back in February, the police took a DNA swab. Why?

They lifted me from my car, and breathalysed me. I was bang to rights, no doubt about that.

So why take a DNA sample? What possible motivation could they have for taking a DNA sample of a drink-driver whose guilt was beyond doubt—and who had entered a guilty plea at the station?

At this point, no doubt, someone will pop up and shout something about "nothing to hide, nothing to fear".

Except, of course, that there is. DNA is very far from being the unique identifier that people think it is—especially when the routine analyses are so imprecise. The amount of DNA that separates us from pigs is remarkably small (which is why they used to take insulin from pigs for diabetics); in actual fact, we are—genetically—not so far away from bananas.

When taking the whole of the human genome, the differences between individual humans is something like 0.1%.

Longrider is exercised by the idea that innocent people's DNA should be retained; I argue that, even if found guilty (especially if the suspect pleads guilty to the crime for which they have been arrested), the police should have no mandate to retain an individual's DNA.

I was arrested for a very specific crime. I pleaded guilty to that crime, both at the police station and in court. It was not a crime of violence, nor any one where it might be thought that I had committed others. That crime is the only one that I have admitted to in a court of law, or been accused of.

Why then should my DNA be held?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/09/2011 04:16:00 am


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs 1955–2011

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 02:10:00 am

Steve Jobs: genius and inspiration.

Steve Jobs, the man who has inspired me—from a love of technology and, from that starting point, in so many other ways (up to and including my current career)—since before I bought my first Apple Mac (in 1997), has lost his fight against pancreatic cancer.

Though I have been expecting this news ever since he resigned as CEO, there is little more that I can say about Steve Jobs's death, at the age of 56, that Apple's brief statement has not already articulated.
Steve Jobs

1955-2011

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of use who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

Your humble Devil is utterly gutted. One of my regrets will always be that—despite (because of...?) his irascible temper and demand for perfection—I never worked for Steve Jobs.

Jobs was a great man and, as when he resigned, I salute his vision and his talent. Steve has left the world a little less exciting for his passing.

Vale, et requiescat in pace.

UPDATE: more at the Beeb.
"Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve," Apple said.

UPDATE 2: Tim Cook's email to Apple employees.
Team,

I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email rememberingsteve@apple.com.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

Tim

Steve Jobs is dead: long live Apple.

UPDATE 3: from an obituary at CNN.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do," he told the Stanford grads in 2005.

"If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."

As a product designer, I have found what I love doing: now I just need to do it as well as Steve Jobs did.

UPDATE 4: here's a video of Steve Jobs's speech to Stanford—it's really interesting, features personal anecdotes and is full of great quotes and thoughts.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 02:10:00 am


Chris Keates: still an evil old baggage

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 01:44:00 am

Chris Keates: still looking like a Roald Dahl villian, drawn by Quentin Blake...

Some years ago, Chris Keates—or, rather, what I wrote about her (this is an edited version)—got me into some trouble with Andrew "Brillo Pad" Neill.

The essence of my point—crudely made but, I think, getting the point across—was that her defence of her union members was actually destroying (or "fucking") the life chances of the children that her members pretend to teach.

Your humble Devil has discussed (and, yes, caveats acknowledged) just how well the Free Schools and Academies are going in educating children—usually in very poor areas (such as those in which I live).

Despite these results—via Prodicus—it is hardly surprising that Chris Keates is now attacking the Academies (and other state independent schools) on behalf of her members (I use that word in a number of different senses).
But the NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates attacked his education policy as being motivated by "ideological fervour".

She said the coalition government's education plans were "driven more by the desire to create a free market and lining the pockets of business than ensuring that all children have the highest standards of education".

Who gives a fuck who delivers education, as long as it is the best possible education that we, as a society, can afford to give these children? Because—and I've said this a million times—if you give a child a good education, they have the tools to succeed in life. True, this isn't always enough—but if you fuck up children's education, then you almost always fuck up their lives.
The teachers' union also announced that it would be holding a strike ballot of members between 4 to 17 November - under the campaign of Standing up for Standards.

"Standing up for Standards?" What kind of standards? Oh, yes, these kinds of standards...
Government-funded research claims 20% of 16- to 19-year-olds lack basic skills

Around a fifth of pupils leave school functionally illiterate and functionally innumerate, despite average achievement in the three Rs improving over the past decade, a new Government-funded study has found.
...

Teaching union the NUT said the study, funded by the Government’s Skills for Life strategy unit, confirmed the “long tail of underachievement” already highlighted by the Pisa international comparative study.

The Sheffield report—The levels of attainment in literacy and numeracy of 13- to 19-year-olds in England, 1948-2009—says the latest evidence shows that 22 per cent of 16– to 19–year-olds are functionally innumerate. Professor Greg Brooks, one of the study’s authors, said this had remained at around the same level for at least 20 years.

His report says this means people have “very basic competence in maths, mainly limited to arithmetical computations and some ability to comprehend and use other forms of mathematical information”.

“While this is valuable, it is clearly not enough to deal confidently with many of the mathematical challenges of contemporary life,” the report adds.

Levels of functional innumeracy are higher still among older age groups and even the 22 per cent is “higher than in many other industrialised countries”.

Ah, those kinds of standards.

Look, teachers: I can understand why you might support truly evil people like Chris Keates—because she gets you pay rises, and pensions and all those other perks.

That's fine.

But don't you ever—EVER—try to tell us that you have the kiddies' interests at heart. You don't.

You and your unions—led by Chris Keates and her highly paid colleagues—are interested only in what you can get for yourselves, and screw the kids that you are supposed to teach.

But what makes the whole situation truly unforgivable is that you are willing to destroy the life chances of many thousands of pupils because your pension is more important than the jobs, and the children, that you profess to care about.

Y'know, it's the hypocrisy and cant that I cannot stand.

Seriously, teachers, you are almost as bad as doctors.

And Chris Keates is just about as bad as you can get...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 01:44:00 am


Herman Cain

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 12:26:00 am

Counting Cats—who's brief assessment is pretty good—has alerted me to the existence of GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain.

Whilst I don't agree with everything he says (the god-bothering in particular)—and nor am I sure that he can deliver what he promises (the President has, in fact, very little power)—I think that it would be incredible if one of our politicians came out with something like this...
Vision for Economic Growth
  • The natural state of our economy is prosperity. Freedom ensures that.
  • We must get the government off our backs, out of our pockets and out of our way in order to return to prosperity.
  • Policy uncertainty is killing the economy.
Economic Guiding Principles
  1. Production drives the economy, not spending.
    • We can not spend our way to prosperity.
    • Government spending IS taxation.
    • Government spending is like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of the pool, pouring it in the shallow end. Then they HOPE that the water level will CHANGE.
  2. Risk taking drives growth.
    • Business formation and job creation are dependent on entrepreneurs taking risks.
    • Investors who fund those entrepreneurs likewise take risks.
  3. Measurements must be dependable.
    • A dollar must always be a dollar just as an hour is always 60 minutes.
    • Sound money is crucial for prosperity.
We Must Unite Not Divide
  • When one party seeks to spend so that the other party must focus on cutting, we must unite around economic growth.
  • Unite all tax payers, don’t divide them into “income” tax payers vs. “payroll” tax payers.
  • Unite those wanting to eliminate deductions with those seeking lower rates.
  • As a first step, unite the “Flat-Taxers” with the “Fair-Taxers”
Economic Growth is the Key
  • This is the worst recovery since the Depression.
  • If the President’s goal was to tie for last place with the previous worst recovery, he failed by 6 million jobs.
  • If we had a typical recovery, 13 million more Americans would be employed today.
  • That means more tax revenue, less government spending and 13 million less people opposed to reasonable spending cuts.
  • The Super Committee must deliver a robust growth solution.
  • America can’t wait for 2012, we need growth NOW
Phase 1—9-9-9
  • Current circumstances call for bolder action.
  • The Phase 1 Enhanced Plan incorporates the features of Phase One and gets us a step closer to Phase two.
  • I call on the Super Committee to pass the Phase 1 Enhanced Plan along with their spending cut package.
  • The Phase 1 Enhanced Plan unites Flat Tax supporters with Fair tax supporters.
  • Achieves the broadest possible tax base along with the lowest possible rate of 9%.
  • It ends the Payroll Tax completely – a permanent holiday!
  • Zero capital gains tax
  • Ends the Death Tax.
  • Eliminates double taxation of dividends
  • Business Flat Tax—9%
    • Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses and all dividends paid to shareholders.
    • Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for payroll employed in the zone.
  • Individual Flat Tax—9%.
    • Gross income less charitable deductions.
    • Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for those living and/or working in the zone.

  • National Sales Tax—9%.
    • This gets the Fair Tax off the sidelines and into the game.
Phase 2—The Fair Tax
  • Amidst a backdrop of the economic boom created by the Phase 1 Enhanced Plan, I will begin the process of educating the American people on the benefits of continuing the next step to the Fair Tax.
  • The Fair Tax would ultimately replace individual and corporate income taxes.
  • It would make it possible to end the IRS as we know it.
  • The Fair Tax makes our exported goods and services the most competitively internationally than any other tax system.

Can you imagine Potato Cameron or any of his merry men coming out with anything like that? No—because they just had their chance at the Conservative Party Conference and they absolutely failed to do so.

Instead, Cameron pushed the virtues of the nationalised monopoly NHS and other centrist—or outright socialist—shit. And, whilst they promised new jobs, they absolutely failed to point out that the state cannot generate wealth or valuable jobs.

It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic—and serious.

So fuck the Conservatives—and good luck to Herman Cain...!

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/06/2011 12:26:00 am


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Trading in 2011

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/05/2011 10:52:00 pm

CityUnslicker has had a shocking trading year as, like me, he had large amounts of money in commodities—an area which has been absolutely hammered over the last year. Luckily, I deal in smaller sums than he does, and since I only started relatively recently, my stocks were higher to start with.

However, just to emphasise the downturn, here are some of my stats and stocks for you...


Obviously, I am massively down on the beginning of this year. On the other hand, I have been ramping up my investments in the last six months: as such, I am taking advantage of prices that I consider to be extraordinarily low.

As always, the Very British Dude is my trader: I should point out, given my current portfolio, that he only performs my trades—in my case, he does not offer any official advice and nor is he responsible for my decisions or stock choices. The Dude is, however, very prompt and responsive and I'd recommend his services.

In other news, the only shares that have consistently climbed are those I hold in the business that I work for: add those in and I massively in profit...!

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/05/2011 10:52:00 pm


Treat kids as money boxes...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/05/2011 10:10:00 pm

Regular readers will know that some of the benefits that your humble Devil gets most angry about are those surrounding children.

There are two strands to this ire. The first is a simple indignation that I—a childless man whose lifestyle is not only unsubsidised but heavily taxed (and sometimes illegal!)—should be forced to subsidise the lifestyles of those who choose to have children.

The second is based not on petulance but on a real concern for the kind of mentality that child benefits induce. Let me elaborate...

This year, it was reported that some GCSE students were visited by Michelle Obama, and one of them found herself inspired.
... before meeting Mrs Obama, Talitha didn’t see the point in school. She hung out with kids who didn’t take work seriously and was ready to throw her life away—to become a "stereotypical baby-mum", as she told the Times.

Why? Why would you saddle yourself with an expensive, time-consuming, helpless human being? Yes, all your friends may be doing it—but why are they saddling themselves with an expensive, time-consuming, helpless human being?

Because they will be paid for doing so.

More importantly, why should a visit from a strong woman convince Talitha that her hitherto chosen route may not be, y'know, entirely fulfilling.

Because using another human being simply as a way to gain money and a council flat is a pretty low ambition. And not just "low" as in morally suspect, but "low" as in "a pathetic way to waste your potential".

No, I'm not doing down those who choose to be mothers because they want to care for a child: I am condemning those who want to have a child because they cannot think of any other way to fulfil themselves—or, in too many cases, to make a living.

And of course critics tell me that no one would actually have a child simply for the money—that would be awful. Well, yes—yes, it would.
The 36-year-old woman is accused of shaving her son’s head and eyebrows and forcing him to wear a bandana to school to make it look like he was receiving chemotherapy.
It is alleged she then swindled the authorities by claiming a carer’s allowance, tax exemptions and a disability allowance for the boy, who is now aged nine.
Gloucester magistrates’ court was told how the mother allegedly forged doctors’ notes and prevented the boy and his seven-year-old sister from taking part in school activities by leading them to believe they were too unwell.

Of course I object to the £100,000 scammed out of our taxes by this pathetic excuse for a human being. But more, I object to the way in which she treated her poor children—she made them suffer simply so that she could get more money.

But what do you expect when our entire benefits system is set up to encourage people to pimp their children?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/05/2011 10:10:00 pm


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Credit easing" explained...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/04/2011 11:45:00 pm

... by The Daily Mash.
Osborne's offer of credit to thousands of small businesses will make Britain the first conservative-led communist state when the loans are inevitably defaulted and the government ends up owning and running everything.

Here's a tip, business peeps: if you absolutely need a loan, then you aren't a viable business.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/04/2011 11:45:00 pm


Monday, October 03, 2011

Statement of the bleeding' obvious

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 03:14:00 am

Today's statement of the bleedin' obvious comes from the Low Pay Commission...
The minimum wage may be pricing young people out of work because employers are finding it too expensive to give them their first job, Government pay advisers have said.

Firms may be reluctant to create jobs by recruiting inexperienced staff because they are put off by the increased wage bill, the Low Pay Commission has suggested.

No, really? You surprise me.

You mean, if you make employing people more expensive, then you will have fewer employees? Tell me, o sages of the Low Pay Commission, what are your views on increasing employers' NICs?

Oh, they might slightly contribute to unemployment too? Genius! Who'da thunk it...?

FFS.

UPDATE: Timmy elaborates on why the Low Pay Commission might be understanding this now.
What is so annoying about all this is that we told you so you fucking fools. We said that if you bring a min wage, one which continually rises above general wage inflation, then you will get to a point where it does severely crimp employment prospects. And it will be first evident among the young, untrained and untried.

So, happy now that it’s happened?

The truth is, the minimum wage is almost certainly too high already. Worthwhile Canadian (search for it yourself!) did some work a couple of years back showing that as long as the min wage was below 40% of average (I assume, from memory, mean) earnings, then the unemployment effect was minimal. When it goes over 50%, then the effects become more substantial.

Mean hourly earnings for men are now 16.25 an hour. For women 13.73 an hour (ASHE 2010).

Part time they’re 12.06 and 10.64 an hour.

The minimum wage at 6.08 an hour (the 2011 number) isn’t affecting full time employment all that much and it’s just getting into the range where it might start having substantial effects on part time employment. So far so good.

But, the youth rate is £4.98 an hour. And what are mean wage rates for this group? Again from ASHE: for 16-18 year olds, £4.84 and for 18-21 year olds, £7.62 (both male).

So, in that 18-21 year group, we’ve a minimum wage which is 65% of the mean wage. Well into our territory where we expect to see substantial employment effects. For 16-18 year olds, it’s 3.68……76%.

Are we seeing substantial emplouyment effects? Well, certainly, all the awailin’ about NEETS seems to show that we are.

And you know what kiddies? We fucking told you so.
Official figures last month showed that almost 1 million of the 2.5 million people officially counted as unemployed in Britain are aged between 16 and 24.

As the man said, we did tell you so.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 03:14:00 am


Yet more fantasy...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 02:48:00 am

George Osborne: prat. [Yes, yes, I know—but he's not even worth a decent swearword.]

Yesterday, it was reported that little Georgie Osborne was pledging to "inject unspent money into capital projects".
The chancellor of the exchequer is working on pooling unspent money from across Whitehall to inject into extra capital projects to kickstart the economy, the Guardian has learned.

George Osborne has earmarked spending that Whitehall departments have failed to meet—further to a £500m pot already created by his Lib Dem colleagues—which will be redirected to "really useful projects, capital R, capital U," one Conservative cabinet minister told the Guardian.

Really? Well, tonight, the BBC has a rather different story to tell...
A council tax freeze in England will be extended to 2012/13 under plans to be unveiled by the chancellor on Monday.

The £805m move will be paid for by a Whitehall "underspend", aides said.

The government cannot force councils to freeze bills—but it is offering to give those which limit spending rises to 2.5% the money they need.

Wow. Thank goodness for that "underspend", eh?

But I thought that it was going to be spent on "capital projects"? Funnelling more money to councils in order to shore up their expenditure is not, by any definition, "capital projects".

In any case, as I pointed out somewhat vociferously yesterday, there is no fucking "underspend".
What "unspent money", George? Your Coalition has borrowed more money in the last year than any government in history; the structural deficit is bigger than ever, and you have reduced this country's debt by precisely bugger all.

Approximately £180 billion of the cash that you are burning through this year is money that you didn't have in the first place, you fucking cock.

Repeat after me, George: there is no "underspend", because you are overspending by about £500 million every damn day.

As it happens, I would rather that Georgie used the money to avert tax rises than squander it on a pointless high-speed rail link or a fucking statue of a giant ice-cream or something, but even so...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 02:48:00 am


It's only a matter of time

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 02:23:00 am

On the 25th of September, Dr Eamonn Butler wrote the following over at the ASI blog...
So, the eurozone and the IMF are putting together a £1.7 trillion fund to save Greece (and for that matter Portugal and Ireland) and stave off a default. Right?

Wrong. The whole purpose of the £1.7 trillion is not to give aid and comfort to Greece. It is designed to give aid and comfort to the European banks who are stupid enough to be still holding Greek debt when Greece is obviously bust. It is intended to allow—and indeed it will hasten—the inevitable default of a country [Greece] that is overspent, over borrowed, that cannot pay its way and shows no sign of putting its house in order—not one single member of its bloated and lazy bureaucracy has been let go, not one single item in the Greek government's bizarre portfolio of nationalised firms has been privatised.

And yesterday morning, I wrote...
... throughout the Western world, both states and the banks that have bought their bonds are, effectively, bankrupt.

Not only this, but the various governments do not even seem to understand that they are bankrupt, and are continuing to spend far more than their income; their one concession to the problem being to mutter futilely about cutting a few billion—out of structural deficits of many tens of billions—at some point in the next decade.

Even in Greece, public sector workers strike and riot as though their government had any alternative to the—frankly risible—cuts to public spending.

And tonight, I am greeted by this wonderful little nugget on the BBC website...
Greece has said its budget deficit will be cut in 2011 and 2012 but will still miss targets set by the EU and IMF.
...

The figures come as inspectors from the IMF, EU and European Central Bank are in Athens to decide whether Greece should get a key bail-out instalment.

Greece needs the 8bn euros (£6.9bn; $10.9bn) instalment to avoid going bankrupt next month.

Bankruptcy would put severe pressure on the eurozone, damage European bank finances and possibly have a serious knock-on effect on the world economy.

These politicians simply aren't taking this seriously, are they?

There is, I think, not one single Western economy that is not up to its eyeballs in debt: the vast majority of them are still running colossal, unaffordable deficits that are adding—every minute of every day—to that eye-wateringly massive pile.

And yet these politicos and technocrats keep throwing these vast sums of money about with the air of a millionaire lending a tenner to his mate—as though these vast sums of money were peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Not only are they not peanuts, they are largely illusory—there is no value behind the paper anymore.

In the meantime, the banks keep on buying the government debt hoping that—when the inevitable crash comes—the governments will not allow their buddies, the banks, to fail. In the end, there will be little choice.

Ultimately, the European Central Bank can print as much money as it needs: but, when it does so, the amounts required will be so mind-bendly massive that hyper-inflation will be the inevitable result.

The Western governments—and, just as importantly, their peoples—need to open their eyes and realise that this cannot continue: they need to understand a very simple, blindingly obvious fact...

The social democratic model—funded, as it is, on ever-increasing state spending on special interest groups using fantasy money—is bust. Kaput. Gone. Fucked beyond all measure.

And they need to realise it quickly. Because the impending crash is going to be bad enough: but the longer it goes on, the worse it will be...

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/03/2011 02:23:00 am


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Of cabbages and kings...

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 03:20:00 pm

As is so often the case, an EUReferendum post sums up a great deal of the problem in this country (indeed, with the whole social democratic system).
It goes without saying, though, that it is not safe to give local councils more power until we have more power over those councils. And that means money. We must control the purse strings … the essence of the Referism concept. As long as we have "masters" who can decide year-year-on-year how much we will pay them, and our choice is only how we pay them, there can be no democracy.

As long-time readers will know, your humble Devil is not a fan of democracy as an endgame: liberty is the point—democracy is simply the best way that we have so far found to maintain freedom for the longest possible time. However, a proper democratic process—where the people actually have the power—is a half-decent goal.

And, as Richard has pointed out repeatedly, the only way that we can gain power is, in fact, to control the cash. Because as long as our lords and masters control the money, they control us: not simply because they demand said monies, but because it gives them limitless recourse to the law.

(As I am coming to believe, one of the biggest stumbling block to any kind of proper libertarian society is the lack of access to the law. But that is a post for later.)

When I endorsed EUReferendum's Referism concept, a great many commenters envinced a belief that people would simply got themselves more and more money—that, in effect, no savings would be made and we would end up in a situation just as bad (or worse) then the current one.

It is perhaps instructive, then, to find the time to link to a post that EUReferendum published a few days afterwards—pointing out that such referenda on taxation have been tried before.
From the school of nothing new under the sun, a reader points out that, in February 2001, Labour-controlled Bristol City Council held a referendum on its Council Tax, asking voters whether they preferred to increase it by two, four or six percent, or to freeze it at then current levels.

Much to the chagrin of the Council, which had expected otherwise, more than half of the voters opted for a freeze. Sentiment was such that, had a reduction been on offer, the indications are that this would have been the preferred choice.

And it was also tried by Croydon...
Nor was Bristol on its own. The Council was just beaten to the punch by the London Borough of Croydon, which on 14 February 2001 asked its 235,000 registered electors to decide whether Council Tax should be increased by two percent (in real terms, an effective freeze), 3.5 percent, or five percent. Council tenants also voted on whether their rents should be increased.

Again to the chagrin of the Council, 56 percent of the voters opted for the lowest possible rise in Council Tax. A total of 80,383 voted, a 34.2 percent turnout. Thirty-two percent voted for the 3.5 percent increase and a mere five percent went for the five percent hike.
...

Croydon was to repeat the experiment the following year, with 74 percent of the taxpayers who voted opting for the lowest rise on offer, at 3.65 percent, on a 35 percent turnout.

Although it was Milton Keynes that had started this trend...
Interestingly, this experiment in direct democracy had started in 1999, when Milton Keynes had put to its voters the choice of three levels of increase, ranging from five percent, 9.8 percent and 15 percent.

Residents were able to vote by post or by phone for their chosen option. A 9.8 percent rise would keep core spending at the same level, while the five percent increase would have meant cuts in the core budget and a 15 percent increase would have provided extra revenue). Forty-six percent of those who voted opted for the 9.8 percent rise, thirty percent for the five percent increase and twenty-four percent for the 15 percent hike. The turnout was 45 percent.

Council leader Kevin Wilson told the BBC he was "delighted" by the result. "The referendum gave the people an opportunity to be masters rather than servants," he added, declaring that the referendum had succeeded in its aim of reconnecting people with local government and gave public backing for council tax rises.

Buoyed by the result the following year, Bristol announced that the public would get a chance to vote on their council tax levels, "under plans drawn up to tackle voter apathy". The scheme had the backing of government ministers and, if the public had responded "positively", the plan was to repeat referendums across the country. Clearly, the response was not "positive" enough.

Clearly.

Although, clearly (for your humble Devil, at least), when people are given the choice, they vote to pay less money. And they do so at turn-out levels that are more respectable than the vast majority of elections in this country.

Despite (or, possibly, because of) the carping of the left-wing media.
At the time, The Independent was to lament that, "in a victory for the maxim that people vote with their wallets, the results showed few people in favour of extra spending". "Voters of Bristol pick school cuts over taxes", it headlined. The Bristol experiment was not repeated by Labour.

But did the Coalition not promise something similar...?
As of July last year Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has declared that by 2012, he wants people to be able to reject Council Tax levels "if they exceed a ceiling agreed annually by MPs", by voting on them in referendums.

This is based on a promise made in 2007. Pickles calls the plan a "radical extension of direct democracy". It is not. Instead, it is a considerably watered-down version of the earlier referendums – which themselves did not allow for an outright veto. And, needless to say, there is absolutely no suggestion that referendums should apply to central government spending.

The simple fact is that when people are given the chance to vote solely on the levels of taxation—rather than a whole collection of other policies and tribal dog-whistles—they vote to pay less.

As such, putting the Finance Bill to the electorate every year—not just Parliament—would be likely to drive taxes down considerably. Coupled with a legally binding restrictions on borrowing levels, this policy would force the government to form its spending plans depending on how much taxpayers let it raise.

Such fiscal restraint would force governments to spend less money more wisely. And lower taxes would lead to higher growth.

What's not to like...?

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 03:20:00 pm


Fiddling whilst Rome burns

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:54:00 pm

Dave Cameron: twat.

We have on our hands one of the biggest economic crises ever seen: throughout the Western world, both states and the banks that have bought their bonds are, effectively, bankrupt.

Not only this, but the various governments do not even seem to understand that they are bankrupt, and are continuing to spend far more than their income; their one concession to the problem being to mutter futilely about cutting a few billion—out of structural deficits of many tens of billions—at some point in the next decade.

Even in Greece, public sector workers strike and riot as though their government had any alternative to the—frankly risible—cuts to public spending.

In Britain—aided by the government overspending by almost half a billion pounds every, single day—the debt pile is fast approaching one trillion pounds, with the Coalition seemingly helpless to reduce its overspend, let alone start paying down the debt. And the interest payments alone on said debt eclipsing the Defence Budget and growing swiftly towards the size of the Education Budget (of some £80 billion).

The Coalition's strategy of attempting to shrink the problem by reducing the debt as a percentage of GDP is failing since, rather than cutting government spending, the morons have implemented tax rises that seriously slow economic growth (totally ignoring the rather more successful policy of growth pursued by Sweden).

And what is our Prime Minister's response? That's right: the Buttered New Potato has decided that plastic bags are a real fucking problem.
Britain’s biggest supermarkets are today given an ultimatum by the Prime Minister: Radically reduce the number of plastic bags you hand out by choice, or I will force you to by law.

David Cameron warns that unless stores deliver ‘significant falls’ over the next 12 months, they could either be banned outright from giving out single-use bags or be legally required to charge customers for them.

The Prime Minister says it is ‘unacceptable’ that the number of single-use carrier bags rose last year by...

No: wait. Let me stop you there, Dave. Let me tell you want is "totally unacceptable".
  • Failing to get to grips with the state's colossal level of debt is totally unacceptable.

  • Failing to cut the deficit is totally unacceptable.

  • Getting elected on a platform of restoration of freedom and then doing precisely fuck all to increase liberty in this country is totally unacceptable.

  • The continued existence of "control orders" is totally unacceptable.

  • Failing to reign in those sent abroad under the European Arrest warrant is totally unacceptable.

  • Promising to "repatriate powers from the EU" and then allowing those bastards to continue to rape our wallets and destroy our businesses is totally unacceptable.

  • Fucking about with fucking plastic fucking bags whilst all of the above remains unaddressed is totally fucking unacceptable.

Do you get it yet, you massively-foreheaded cunt? Do you?

Now why don't you fuck off and actually address some of the real problems, rather than threatening more laws, more repression and more fucking about in the economy?

Alternatively, why not put an orange in your mouth, a plastic bag over your head, and fiddle with yourself whilst Rome burns. And don't bother not suffocating.

You facile cunt.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:54:00 pm


What "unspent money"?

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:43:00 pm

Apparently, George Osborne has a spiffing idea for kickstarting the economy.
George Osborne to inject unspent money into capital projects

What "unspent money", George? Your Coalition has borrowed more money in the last year than any government in history; the structural deficit is bigger than ever, and you have reduced this country's debt by precisely bugger all.

Approximately £180 billion of the cash that you are burning through this year is money that you didn't have in the first place, you fucking cock.
The chancellor is not spending extra money and so not deviating from his deficit reduction programme but he is to continue an emphasis on capital investment as a major part of attempts to right the economy.

What deficit reduction plan? You haven't reduced the deficit, Georgey-boy—you've increased it. How is increasing the amount of money that the government is borrowing a fucking deficit reduction plan?

Fuck me, I've been saying this for years, and it's still true: there's no fucking money left, you arsehole. And just to ram it home, here's Detlev Schlichter making the point in more measured tones...
And one final word to my English friends. No gloating please about the clever decision to stay out of the euro-mess. You have the same thing coning your way without the euro. The coalition’s consolidation course is apparently so ruthless that every month the state has to borrow MORE, not less. Even official inflation is already 5% but pressure is growing on the Bank of England to print more money. See the comical Vince Cable yesterday, or Martin Wolf, the man with the bazooka, in the FT today. Since 1971 the paper money system has been global. Its endgame will be global, too.

If Osborne seriously thinks that there is any "unspent money", then he's a bigger fucking idiot than I thought.

Unless, of course, George, you have manage to cut spending by roughly £180 billion? No, I didn't think so.

Twat.

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:43:00 pm


Equality for some

Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:30:00 pm

A few weeks back, the LibDems stated that they would provide a compromise on plans to raise the pensionable age for women.
Changes in retirement rules will not unfairly penalise women in their fifties, Steve Webb, the pensions minister, said yesterday.

Mr Webb told the Liberal Democrat conference that he would compromise on changes in the retirement rules to equalise the pension age for men and women.

Campaigners say the proposals for a universal state pension age of 66 by 2020—six years earlier than was planned—mean many women face an unfairly sharp rise in their retirement age.

Currently, women can claim their state pension at 60, whilst men must wait until 65.

What possible justification—given the plethora of equality laws now in the workplace—can the government have for this situation still existing?

It's very simple: if women want to take their pension five years before men, they should get a reduced payout (since they have paid less in). Or the pension ages should be equalised now.

Oh, and before anyone starts up with "but, Devil, but you can't break contract law", please remember that there is no contract with the state—did you sign anything? No. Were you given a mandatory "cooling-off" period? No—which is why the bastard government can keep changing the tax rates.

If draconian equality laws is the way that we are going to go, I demand total equality of pension rights: raise the pension age for women right now, or pay them less.

We will then be one step closer to A Fair And Just Society*.

* A.K.A. "Utopia", "The Progressive's Dream", or "Hell".

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Posted by Devil's Kitchen at 10/02/2011 01:30:00 pm


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