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Showing posts from March, 2012

Against State Funding of Political Parties

Another party funding scandal inevitably means that the call would go up from somewhere for state funding of political parties. And, lo and behold, it arrives – in the form of The New Statesman’s. Mehdi Hasan. He starts as he means to go on (i.e. idiotically):

Would you be willing to fork out 50p a year to help clean up British politics? I don't know about you but I would. Happily. So, too, would the Independent's Mary Ann Sieghart
To answer your question, Mehdi, no I would not be willing to spend a single fucking penny on funding British parties which – given it keeps the same old shit in power – would not “clean up politics” but merely perpetuate the status quo. And the fact that a journalist for The New Statesman and The Independent proves precisely nothing.

The article then rambles on, presenting a largely tedious case for state funding that life is too short to really engage with. The real meat of this article, though, come when Hasan attempts to rebut the objections peop…

The problem with healthcare

Some of you might have noticed that there is a lively debate going on in the US Supreme Court over the so-called Obama-care Programme. Whilst the wife has been avidly reading the transcripts—with some interest, outrage and amusement—we have been debating the more general point of how healthcare is delivered.

It's a tricky subject—not least because it is emotive and, as such, tends to give rise to bad headlines for politicians when the inevitable rationing happens. Because the really big problem with all healthcare systems is that there simply isn't enough money to pay for what is desired (if not absolutely required).

All of these debates about the actual delivery and payment of healthcare—both here and in the US—simply doesn't address the basic problem of healthcare being massively expensive. I would like to posit some reasons, and put forward some hopes of solutions.

The first pressing problem is that healthcare services are extremely prone to Baumol's cost disease.
In li…

A modest proposal

The Quote of the Day comes from The Commentator (although, admittedly, it's actually from Friday), where Simon Miller echoes my long-standing contempt for most parts of the electorate.
And you know what? It is our fault. We constantly demand that the government should do something about a situation. Instead of common sense, instead of saying to our leaders “listen we’re adults, give us our money back, give us our freedoms back and we’ll sort ourselves out” we and the fast food media demand that nanny helps us.

Well nanny has spent all our money, taxed us to high heaven and is gradually removing all aspects of the rule of law through retrospective actions and interfering dogma. Instead of shrilling about this and that, we should give a simple message to these politicians, this is our country and it is our money you are spending. We are permanent; it is you that is temporary.
Quite. He actually uses another example that has pissed me off too—that of "low tax" aficionados who …

A open letter to David Cameron

I have just sent the following email to the office of the Buttered New Potato...

I have attempted to send said email: alas, the only way to contact the Buttered New Potato electronically is to use the Number 10 submission form—which limits you to 1000 characters. So, do I break it up into several emails, just send him the link or shall I print it out and post it in the old-fashioned way?

Or, since all the Tory grandees seem to be reading him at present, perhaps Guido would be kind enough to ask on your humble Devil's behalf...?

Answers on a postcard or, preferably, in the comments below.

Anyway, on with the fun...
Dear Mr Cameron,

I am writing to ask you—as politely as I can—what you think you are playing at as regards the minimum pricing of alcohol?

Since you are Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I assume that you have a great many researchers and advisors (who will, no doubt, be the only ones who read this); as such, I am forced to assume that you also know that:

Minimum price for alcohol

So, David "buttered new potato" Cameron—the man who once said "The era of big, bossy, state interference, top-down lever pulling is coming to an end."—has announced that he intends to pass a law setting a minimum price per unit for booze.
The Prime Minister is to say: “Binge drinking isn’t some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country.
What? How the fuck can he possibly determine that? I call "bollocks" on that one.
“The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear.
Sure, alcohol-fuelled crimes are deeply unpleasant. So, the solution is to stop accepting drunkenness as mitigation when convicting people.
“When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in a pub."
Oh, this old canard lie again. As my colleague, the Filthy Smoker, pointed out in his Five Myths About Alcohol post (b…

Can anyone tell me what comes next...?

So, the Tory Party Treasurer has resigned after being caught promising to get donors into "the Cameron/Osborne dinners" for £250,000.
Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised the party's former treasurer for boasting that a big enough donation could lead to high-level access.

He said Peter Cruddas' claims, filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters, were "completely unacceptable". Mr Cruddas quit hours after publication.

The PM pledged a "party inquiry" into the claims that £250,000 would get donors a private dinner with him.
And quite right.

Because anyone who is willing to pay a penny to have dinner with that massively-foreheaded shit or his rat-nibbled-nosed Chancellor needs their head examined.

Besides, anyone who thinks that Cameron would keep any promise made at that time also needs to get a fucking grip. The man is a shifty, dishonest little bastard.
Mr Cruddas had been secretly filmed saying that a donation of £250,000 gave "premier leag…

Healthy people are expensive

Anyone follows politics in even the most cursory manner (or, indeed, reads the letters page of the Metro) will, I assume, be thoroughly pissed off with self-righteous fucknuts bollocksing on about how drinkers, smokers and obese people should be taxed to buggery because they cost our brilliant NHS buckets of cash.

For many years, those of us who indulge ourselves in our pleasures have pointed out that we pay a fuck-load of tax for the pleasure of doing so—not just in the ludicrously high National Insurance payments, but also duty on the fags and booze. We pay far more in tax, in fact, than the cost to the NHS.

"Nonsense!" cry the prodnose temperance loons.

Well, now a nice little report has come out which points out that "healthy" people really do cost, as Timmy reports.
The question is, are the costs of treating the illnesses and deaths brought on by those three indulgences higher or lower than the costs of treating those who live healthily but still inevitably die? W…

This is a work of non-fiction

In case you don't know, a certain gentleman named Mike Daisey caused something of a stir with his one-man monologue called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. In it, he tells of visiting the Foxconn factory in China, and of the appalling working conditions there which he heard about, first-hand, from the workers that he met (many of them horrifically crippled from their work in the factory).

Mr Daisey has actually been hawking his play around the smaller theatres of America for some time now, but his big break came when a radio station called This American Life broadcast the show in one of their episodes. Now, I bet that they wish they hadn't: for, whilst it was their most listened-to show, it turns out that it was a pack of lies—and they had to publish an embarrassing retraction.

Over at Forbes, Timmy published an excellent article that took a far more balanced view of the working conditions at the Foxconn factory (which, by the way, assembles just about every computer bra…

Great minds, and all that...

Back in December, the wife wrote the following in a short post musing on the Welfare State...
Seriously? No, seriously?

Just cut out the middleman and let rich people sponsor a poor person. There would be less waste in the long run, jobs for council workers (the OKCupids of wealth patronage!), and a powerful social impact.

After all, why give your money to charity when you can give it to your own impecunious client?
... and today, Blue Eyes posts one of his increasingly infrequent missives.
I’ve got an idea.

Instead of running an entitlement-based welfare system where Parliament decides the rules and then makes up taxes to pay for it, how about a sponsorship system. The system should match up contributors and recipients in, say, a local area and provide information for the sponsor. The sponsor would get to see how the people he/she is funding are getting on and the sponsored might be encouraged to persuade the sponsor that he/she is getting value for money. Sponsors might even want to give …

The Ron Paul Solution

Please note: I am not the Devil

Ok, let’s start with a couple of points that, while to most people are clearly true, will be upsetting for some; firstly, Ron Paul is not going to be the Republican nominee for President. Secondly, he is never going to be President. That is not to say that he isn’t the best of a bad bunch, and clearly the best (and arguably only) libertarian option in the 2012 race. And that is not to say that of all the candidates he’d be the one I’d back if I had any sort of influence or vote in the primaries or the general election in the US. But we have to face reality here, my good people; Paul may have performed consistently in the primaries, but he has not done well enough to get the prize he seeks.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about why Paul hasn’t done as well as perhaps he should have done. The first (and increasingly tired) excuse that a Ron Paul supporter might come up with is media bias; that Ron Paul simply does not get the same level of attention as …

The Mitt Romney Problem

Please note: I am not the Devil.

For those of us who keep an eye on such things, there is a perverse joy to be had in watching Mitt Romney limp towards the Republican nomination over in the US. The primary results seem to be taking on an oddly predictable pattern; Romney wins a contest, and then the next time the vote heads in the direction of Gingrich or Santorum. It is as if the Republican party faithful realise that there is an inevitability to Romney's nomination, but at the same time they resent it; so half the time they accept what is inevitable, and the other half they want to kick against Romney and go for someone - hell, anyone - else.

So what is the Romney problem then? The first thing to acknowledge is that he is being (relatively) successful simply because he is faced with a bunch of the incompetent, idiotic and unlucky; he is running against those who for whatever the reason are quite simply not destined to be the nominee, let alone in the White House. Herman Cain wa…

"Are we coming or going?", asks Cable

Via the deeply scornful Capitalists@Work, I see that Grandad Cable—the Sage of Twickenham—has decided that the Coalition is going to adopt a "proper industrial policy" and "support the oil and gas industry".
In a move that represents a shift from last year's controversial tax raid on North Sea oil, the Business Secretary said the Government wanted to help the sector "re-energise" its supply chains, which include thousands of small businesses.

In a speech in London, Mr Cable said targeted Government support was needed to create a "different kind of economy" based on manufacturing and trade. Britain could not "just hope it happens naturally", he said. He and Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, will chair meetings to "see how together we can support this important industry".
Well, Vince, one way of supporting "this important industry" might be not opportunistically taxing it whenever you fucking feel like it. But, th…