Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The great charity scandal

A gentleman named David Craig has written a new book, called The Great Charity Scandal, which he summarises in an article over at the Daily Mail.
The figures are astonishing. There are more than 195,289 registered charities in the UK that raise and spend close to £80 billion a year. Together, they employ more than a million staff – more than our car, aerospace and chemical sectors – and make 13 billion ‘asks’ for money every year, the equivalent of 200 for each of us in the UK.
Indeed.
In England and Wales there are 1,939 active charities focused on children; 581 charities trying to find a cure for cancer; 354 charities for birds; 255 charities for animals, 81 charities for people with alcohol problems and 69 charities fighting leukaemia. 
All have their own executives, administrators, fundraisers, communications experts and offices, but few will admit they are doing exactly the same thing as other charities. Take the case of Ethiopia. Two decades ago there were 70 international charities operating there, today the figure is close to 5,000. 
A 2013 parliamentary inquiry into the charity sector found there were so many charities that the Charity Commission for England and Wales was struggling to ensure that most registered charities were genuine, rather than tax avoidance schemes or political campaigning groups.
Yes: it's a colossal industry.
Many other charities have also been tempted away from their main focus, into campaigning. 
Charities such as Forum for the Future, Friends of the Earth and Green Alliance have been very successful in influencing government policy. Their greatest success was probably in 2008 when the Climate Change Act was passed into law, which by the Government’s own estimate will cost £760 per household every year for four decades. 
But many of these charities are funded predominantly by the taxpayer, rather than public donations. Indeed, a number of commentators have identified that many do little in the way of good works, but are actually campaigning organisations or ‘fake charities’.
Yay! As I have said before, this phrase—indeed, this concept of "fake charities"—is my only meaningful contribution to the political conversation (other than coarsening it!).
About 27,000 British charities are dependent on the Government for three quarters or more of their funding. Without Government cash, many would collapse. Nevertheless they spend much of their time and money lobbying the Government rather than doing what most people would consider ‘charitable work’.
Indeed. And, ultimately, whose fault is this disgusting state of affairs? Yes—it's the fault of Saint Tony and his monocular Scottish idiot sidekick, the Gobblin' King.
Britain’s charities haven’t always been so politically active. Until 2004, any form of political lobbying by a charity could only be ‘incidental or ancillary to its charitable purpose’ and could not be a charity’s ‘dominant’ activity.
But it suited the NuLabour government to ensure that its place-men and women were in  position to lobby the executive to pass new and ever more draconian laws. Because people might rebel against the idea of government interfering in their private lives.

But—ah!—if charities (who, after all, only exist to do good, eh?) insist that such legislation is required, to save the people from themselves, then it must be a public good. And therefore the laws must be right.

And the charities got their reward—cash. And fuck-tons of it...
Oxfam, for example picked up almost £137 million from taxpayers in Britain and abroad during the last year – 37 per cent of its revenue. Save the Children also got close to £137 million from taxpayers and Christian Aid was given about £39 million – 41 per cent of its funds. 
Some charities refer to this money as ‘voluntary income’, though it’s not clear taxpayers would be so generous with donations if they knew how much of their money the charity was already receiving.
It is pretty clear—both from the reaction that Fake Charities got at the time, and in my conversations with people since—that people most certainly would not be so generous. In fact, they would be scandalised.

It's time that it stopped.

Women pay

Here's another one to file under "No shit, Sherlock"...
In Chile, a law requires employers to provide working mothers with child care. One result? Women are paid less.

In Spain, a policy to give parents of young children the right to work part-time has led to a decline in full-time, stable jobs available to all women — even those who are not mothers.

Elsewhere in Europe, generous maternity leaves have meant that women are much less likely than men to become managers or achieve other high-powered positions at work.

Family-friendly policies can help parents balance jobs and responsibilities at home, and go a long way toward making it possible for women with children to remain in the work force. But these policies often have unintended consequences.
Really. Well, that is a surprise.

Who'da thunk it, eh?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Universities are not the fucking police (pun intended)

Apparently, universities are not keeping records of "sexual" crimes.
Fewer than half of elite universities in Britain are monitoring the extent of sexual violence against students.
And why should they?

Universities are not the police, and we do not insist that they should keep statistics about any crimes.

As far as I am concerned, it isn't a crime until it has been reported to the police. That's certainly the attitude that insurance companies take.

And any allegation of a crime—sexual or otherwise—against a anyone (including other students) is, as far as I am concerned, a libel unless the accuser takes it to court.

If the accuser is not prepared to take their allegation to court then it is simply an accusation: and until the accuser is prepared to substantiate that allegation in court and the substance is proven beyond all reasonable doubt, in court, it is a libel.

And if the accuser continues to repeat the allegation, without doing any of those things, it is a libel. And in that case, the accused should be able to sue their accuser until the cows come home.

And since universities are not courts, I don't see why they should be keeping any records of such allegations.

We have a justice system. So, o students, if you are too much of a precious little flower to use the channels of justice that exist, then that's just tough.

UPDATE: Timmy says something similar.

Friday, May 22, 2015

From the Archives: the lobbyists fight back (2009)

Although the Filthy Smoker has moved onwards and upwards, he is responsible for some of your humble Devil's favourite posts. This little sample, from a 2009 post in which he discusses the tactics of fake charities, shows why...
The government funds these groups because they help it create a fake compromise while bypassing public opinion. Here's how it works:
  1. The government feels like giving you a good kick in the bollocks.
  2. You don't want to be kicked in the bollocks. You just want to be left alone.
  3. A fake charity turns up wielding some bogus study and demands that you be kicked in the bollocks and pelted with turds.
  4. The government conducts a bullshit consultation with some other fake charities and, in the spirit of compromise, concludes that you will be kicked in the bollocks but not pelted with turds.
Result: you get kicked in the bollocks. The government wins.

And if the charity is very good at its job, this will be quickly followed by the fake loophole:
  1. The fake charity produces a study showing that being pelted with turds is not as bad as taking one in the Jacob's. They say that the government is being inconsistent by allowing people to kick you in the plums but not pelt you with turds.
  2. The government agrees and, having set a precedent, it can't be seen to allow one and not the other.
Result: you get kicked in the bollocks and pelted with turds. Democracy has prevailed.
Although the fake charities site is no longer up (I know—I keep meaning to sort that out) nothing has fundamentally changed in the tactics employed by these organisations.

For more on these insidious lobbyists, why not have a look at Chris Snowdon's excellent (and free) IEA monographs on the subject:
As I always say, the phrase—and highlighting of—"fake charities" has been your humble Devil's sole effective contribution to public discourse—other than making it coarser...

Freeman by name; ignorant, illiberal prick by nature

George Freeman MP—who is, apparently, some kind of minister for the life sciences in this exciting new Tory government—has been spouting some ignorant bullshit at the Hay Festival.
Mr Freeman told an audience at the Hay Festival that it was clear that sugary drinks and snacks were behind the worsening obesity epidemic in Britain. “I don’t think heavy-handed legislation is the way to go,” he said.
Well, that's very kind of you, Mr Freeman. It's a great pity that the "obesity epidemic" is, by and large, a load of old bollocks—with researchers predicting some kind of lard-arse armageddon that has, consistently, failed to materialise (a bit like climate change, really).

But George thinks that it is a crisis and—perhaps whilst he was obtaining his degree in Geography—it looks like he once heard someone explain Pigou taxes.
“But I think that where there is a commercial product which confers costs on all of us as a society, as in sugar, and where we can clearly show that the use of that leads to huge pressures on social costs, then we could be looking at recouping some of that through taxation. 
“Companies should know that if you insist on selling those products, we will tax them.”
George's trouble is, of course, that we cannot "clearly show that the use of [sugar] leads to huge pressures on social costs".

What we can show, in fact, is that calorie consumption has fallen rapidly throughout the century—to the point that the average adult's intake is now below the recommended intake during war-time rationing.

The human body, as an energy machine is pretty simple: if you burn more calories through activity than you consume, then you will lose weight—and vice versa. And given what we know about these two factors (neatly summarised in this excellent IEA monograph by Chris Snowdon), there really can only be one conclusion:

  • All the evidence indicates that per capita consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been falling in Britain for decades. Per capita sugar consumption has fallen by 16 per cent since 1992 and per capita calorie consumption has fallen by 21 per cent since 1974.
  • Since 2002, the average body weight of English adults has increased by two kilograms. This has coincided with a decline in calorie consumption of 4.1 per cent and a decline in sugar consumption of 7.4 per cent.
  • The rise in obesity has been primarily caused by a decline in physical activity at home and in the workplace, not an increase in sugar, fat or calorie consumption.

So, once more we are forced to wheel out the Polly conundrum: is George Freeman MP ignorant or lying?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Left: an utter failure of personal responsibility

Over at Forbes, Timmy has written an article about the difficult decision facing Greek PM, Alex Tsipras.
The general view is that the Greek endgame is coming ever closer.
...
The troika is insisting that Greece must not lower the pension age and also must liberalise some more the labour market. Syriza, seeing itself as the sort of left wing party that just doesn’t do those sorts of things is refusing: thus that red line argument. And it is fair to point out that Syriza are the democratically elected government and they were elected on a platform of not doing those sorts of things (or, in fact, those two specific things). 
But as I’ve pointed out before what you do with the money of the citizens who voted you in is one thing. Demanding to be allowed to do the same thing with money you’re borrowing from others is rather different. And if Greece is going to make the payments it needs to in the coming months then it needs that last tranche of that loan. But the troika refuses to hand it over while Syriza is threatening to do what it was elected to do.
Certainly, it's going to be interesting to see what happens—especially as the consensus seems to be that:
  • the Greeks do not want to submit to the troika's demands;
  • the Greeks can't pay their creditors unless they do submit to the troika's demands;
  • the Greeks want to remain within the Eurozone.
Or, to put it another way:
  1. the Greeks want all of the trappings and benefits of a massive, Leftist state that will allow them to sit about doing nothing much all day;
  2. the Greeks don't want to pay for it through their taxes and, indeed, will avoid them where at all possible;
  3. the Greeks want to remain within the Eurozone.
At least one of these things will have to change. Unless, of course, some miracle comes along (very unlikely). We live, as they say, in interesting times.

Anyway, the point that I really want to make is related to #2, above, i.e. the Greeks don't want to pay taxes and, indeed, will avoid them where at all possible. Now, many people will be outraged that I might suggest such a thing—except, perhaps, when I point out that a great many Greeks simply stopped paying tax at the end of last year in anticipation of a Syriza win.

Faced, as he is, with this tension between keeping his promises or keeping the Greek state solvent (for a little while), it would not be entirely unreasonable for Alex Tsipras to say:
"Look, chaps: I did my best to stand up for the interests of the Greek people. But the trouble is that, at the first possible moment, the Greek people simply didn't bother paying tax. 
"Because of this, we have no other options: either we give in to the demands of the troika, or we exit the Euro (which won't solve much, but will get the Germans off our backs)."
He could then hold a referendum—but I doubt that the Greek state can afford it.

Anyway, the point is that the Greeks want lots of stuff, without actually reaching into their pockets to pay for any of it.

Which is, as we saw after the recent General Election, very similar to the Left in this country.

My various feeds were full of idiots wailing and gnashing their teeth, talking about how all the poor people were going to be put down and fed to the myriad urban foxes. Or something.

A great many of them were complaining about how the poor were to be denied their benefits.

So to help out these poor souls—riven by grief and guilt about the poor—I decided to point out that they could help simply by reaching into their ample pockets. I helpfully pointed out that not only can they donate their time and money to charities, but they can actually donate money to the Treasury—and specify what budget they want their monies to go to!

So, if you are a Lefty scared of what will happen to the poor, simply send your cheque to:
The Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London
Just convince all of your left-wing friends to do the same—this surely won't be difficult—and you can help out those causes that you care about. And, best of all, you won't be using the threat of imprisonment to force other people to pay towards these causes.

As an extra bonus, everyone can check online to see who has generously donated this cash to these good causes, so that we can praise you for your generosity and civic decency.

Or, of course, call you a bunch of fucking liars when you say that you'd "happily pay more tax".

This is the very definition, I think, of the phrase "put up or shut up."

Of course, many people will say that your humble Devil is being a little aggressive about this.

"Come on, DK," they might say. "You're a politics nerd—you cannot expect everybody to know about this voluntary tax thing."

To which I reply, "well, these people think that they are qualified to elect a government—shouldn't they know how that government works? They are prepared to use the law to force people to pay money to the Treasury on behalf of certain interest groups—shouldn't they show willing first?"

But, apparently, that's the thing with Lefties: they're very happy to reach into other people's pockets, and very reluctant to dig deep into their own.

Who knew, eh?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Incentives matter

This really shouldn't need to be said, honestly, but incentives really do matter.
Pizza shop worker Devin Jeran was excited about the raise that was coming his way thanks to Seattle’s new $15 an hour minimum wage law. Or at least he was until he found out that it would cost him his job. 
Jeran will only see a bigger paycheck until August when his boss has to shut down her Z Pizza location, putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work, Q13 Fox reported.
Well, isn't this a fucking surprise...?

Not.

Darren, or whatever his fucking name is, is a fucking arse. He thought he could get a massive pay hike with no consequences.

Darren, or whatever his fucking name is, is a dick.

Although not as much of a fucking dick as the politicos who brought in the law. But what the fuck do they care?—their salary is guaranteed by law and enticed through theft.

The stupid cunts.

Gunz! Shootz!

As usual, after the latest school-based mass murder , there are lots of people screaming about Americans and guns, American love of guns, an...