Monday, April 30, 2007

Sinclair: C-

Poor old Matt Sinclair! Much like Jackart, he is a man who thinks that the Tories are our saviours, the people who are going to deliver us from our purgatory and bring us into the light. In an effort to disparage those who might attack them, Matt misses a fundamental point in his own argument; I shall not slap him for this. After all, we all do it from time to time.

But that doesn't alter the fact that his party tribalism has actually obscured his rationality. He attempts to answer your humble Devil's post...
Firstly, in his title he asserts his is the principled position. It isn't. A person with principles will make the decision most likely to lead to actual results as close to those principles as possible.

No, they won't. A person with principles votes with the party nearest their principles.

You can make the politics of the possible argument as much as you like, but this is not a principled decision; why pretend? And why is it that the Tories have so much dofficulty understanding the position of UKIP supporters such as myself? In this post I laid out why I support UKIP not the Tories; for those who cannot be bothered to click, I lay out those principles below.
Because UKIP definitely stand for precisely the same things as the Tories, don't they? Let's just cast our gaze over a few of these policies and see how very little difference there is between them, eh?
  1. The Tories are pro-EU, as their Chairman stated quite categorically a while back.

    Some people have accused UKIP of acting in a "lemming-like" way by opposing the Tories because the Tories have the same attitude, i.e. they are EUsceptic. Let's just pop that little bubble, shall we?

    In the words of the Conservative Party Chairman:
    It is not the Conservative Party's view that we should be out of the European Union.

    Now, if that is too complicated for some of the fuckwits who continue to argue that the Tories are EUsceptics, let me spell this out for you again: THE TORIES DO NOT WISH TO WITHDRAW FROM THE EU. If you still can't grasp the concept, you may like to remember which party took us into the EEC (without a referendum) and which party signed the Maastricht Treaty (without a referendum and using a three-line whip to ensure that their MPs voted for it); a clue: it was the Tories.

    Therefore, to argue that UKIP are shooting their cause in the foot by opposing the Tories—even if UKIP had no other policies—is just totally fucking stupid, OK? If you don't like the EU, if you think that its unelected bureaucracy controls too much of our lives, then there is only one party that can do anything about it and that party is not the Tories.

    And anyone who thinks that the EU can be reformed is an idiot: why not check out the Serf's post to find out why?

    The EU has been estimated to cost Britain's economy nearly £100 billion every, single fucking year, and about 70% of our laws are initiated by EU Directives that we have no control over. Plus, of course, we have a trade deficit with our wonderful EU partners.

  2. The Tories believe that government spending is at the right level. There have been, despite some claims, no firm moves over tax cuts or public service reform. All we have had from the Tories is some meaningless blather about "sharing the proceeds of growth". This is horseshit: whilst taxes are so high, growth is going to be fucking pitiful anyway. More importantly, the Tories do not seem to believe in tax simplification (which would allow for tax cuts anyway through the cutting down of the administrative burden).

    UKIP have a detailed Flat tax policy (which the Tories seem to have shelved) which, briefly, runs like this.
    • Income Tax and National Insurance merge into one income tax, rated at 33% across the board,

    • Personal Tax Allowance raised to £9,000 to take thousands of low earners out of tax completely,

    • The shortfall of £34 billion to be recouped from growth, lower administration costs and a freeze (and eventual drop) in the rate of government spending.

    The Tax Policy can be found here [PDF] and my detailed assessment can be found here.

    UKIP also support the abolition of Inheritance Tax (which brings in a pathetic £3 billion) and Capital Gains Tax (£2 billion).

  3. The Tories support the state funding of political parties, a policy which even ConservativeHome opposes.

    UKIP utterly oppose the state funding of political parties.

  4. The Tories have not published any detailed Education Policy, but we do know that the Tories are opposed to grammar schools and selection generally.

    UKIP's Education Policy document can be found here [PDF] and my assessment can be found here.

    The most important points are that UKIP support the privatisation of schools and funding through vouchers, a system similar to that which has been so successful in Sweden. They actively support selection and grammar schools.

  5. The Tories support Green Taxes supported by extremely dodgy science [DK passim ad nauseam, but have a look at Junk Science for some rather more robust science.]. Furthermore, these green taxes will allow the EU far more power over our economic policy since the Environment is a wholly EU competence.

    UKIP think that the whole climate change malarkey is so much hysterical bollocks and so don't support Green Taxes but support the funding of new technologies to wean us off the burning of hydrocarbons.

  6. The Tories don't support free trade (since they are pro-EU, they cannot).

    UKIP believe that free trade enriches us all, and so support entirely free trade with everyone (including Europe).

  7. The Tories oppose electoral reform and seem unsure about an English Parliament.

    UKIP support limited reform and support an English Parliament.

Need I go on? Would you like to tell me, precisely, to what degree UKIP are simply "vote-splitters"? I would call them a distinct party with a distinct agenda, wouldn't you?

By the way, the correct answer here is "yes".

But apart from all of this, Matthew misses the single most important point that I made. And I made it because he pointed it out, and it is only because of his blinkered tribalism that he has decided to ignore it: please remember that.

You see, Matt Sinclair has decided that the best way to change Tory policy is to do so from within the Tory Party.
As such, the only reason to leave the Conservative party is if you think its members aren't those who will be easiest to convince of your position (they're easily the most Eurosceptic portion of the population so that seems unlikely) or if you think your cause is hopeless but would rather be screaming at the wind than be dirtied by the compromise of contact with the Conservatives. If you can't convince the Conservative membership you're never going to be able to convince the public at large and the problem is in the case rather than the party.

The trouble is that the internal Tory party workings are simply not open to that kind of suggestion, as The Nameless One (a former Tory activist) pointed out.
Yeah, um, think you are over-estimating the impact one Tory party member can have. I spent a lot of my time trying to persuade other members of the validity of my positions but it did not stop the party from electing the ideological vacuum that is David Cameron as party leader. Sure, you could argue that, as a Davis supporter at the last leadership election there is an element of sour grapes seeping into my thinking. But I find the assertion that a member can influence the vast array of people in the party enough to influence the outcome of a leadership election staggeringly naïve.

Quite, and that last was in response to one of Matt's posts; one can only assume that Matt doesn't beother to read the critiques. But let us take Matt Sinclair's idea and run with it. How is one to convince the Tory leadership of the rightness of the position that many Tories, including The Nameless One, take, i.e. that we should be out of the EU, that we should have a smaller government, that we should embrace free trade?

Should we petition the Conservative leader, or deliver a drubbing at the polls; which do you think he will take more notice of? If you are a Tory and you think that NuLabour taking a kicking at the election office will send them a stark warning, then surely the most effective way that you can tell the Conservative Party that they don't represent you if to vote for a party that do.

If you vote for UKIP in a council election, you are not destroying the Tories chance to be our central government. You are not denying them victory at the General Election and nor are you ensuring a continued Labour government. As I said:
However, if you would like Dave to take a more EUsceptic line; if you would like him to embrace the concepts of free trade; if you would like him to stop crapping on about the environment and instead make taxes both lower and simpler; in short, if you want a conservative (small "c") party to vote for at the next General Election (which does matter) then you need to show Dave that this is what you want.

The best way to do this is to vote for a party, minor though it may be, that espouses these principles. Then maybe, just maybe, Dave will sit up and listen to what you have to say. Maybe he will find his balls and form a EUsceptic policy. Use your protest vote to show Dave the direction that you would like the Tory party to go.

That is why, for a proper EUsceptic conservative who wants to see a properly conservative party up for election at the next GE, voting for UKIP is the only sensible tactical vote.

On the other hand, if you are merely a Matt Sinclair style tribalist moron, you'll just keep on voting for Dave—spurred on by the Gordon Brown fear—and effectively endorse Cameron's Green, pro-EU, stuff-the-fucking-party, all-spin-and-no-substance agenda.

In which case, you can fuck off as far as I am concerned: you stand for everything that I loathe. There is toss-all point arguing policy with those, like Matt Sinclair, who are voting purely on tribalistic principles. Because if Matt was really interested in debate, he would have addressed those last three paragraphs quoted above; alas, he couldn't do it, and so automatically relegates himself to your humble Devil's list of people who's opinion is not even worth the half-penny that we no longer have.

Lame, Matt; fucking lame.

For god's sake, don't vote with your principles!

As I simply can't resist throwing back his gibe, does anyone else think that Jackart is sounding a little bit... well... shrill on the subject of UKIP? Although he has been very effectively fisked, in detail, by Trixy, I thought I stick my two pence worth in.
I am bored of commentators and bloggers lazily trotting out the line that "the boy Dave is just another Tony Blair and we might as well go and vote UKIP", just because he refuses to promise Tax-cuts, and has worked out that making people like you makes them more likely to vote for you.

Yes, but people are even more likely to vote for you when they like both you and your policies. As it happens, I don't like Dave; I think he's a fucking fake and a spiv at that. He'll say anything to anyone: less Blair and more LibDem really.
The Line that "Europe makes most of our laws ERGO westminster is irrelevant therefore we must vote UKIP" is just as dull.

Unfortunately, this does not make it any less true.
There is more to policy than tax-cuts and Europe, and no-one can get everything they want out of a Party, if they're prepared make the compromises nessesary to be part of a Governing movement.

You are quite right, Jackart, there is more to policy than these two things. However, both of these things are pretty fucking big. Now, I accept Letwin's point that the money has run out and—although I think that the British people, having seen that simply throwing money at public services does not make them substantially better, are now ready to hear the argument that cutting money does not necessarily make them worse—I am willing to accept that we may have to wait a few years for tax cuts.

However, the EU is another matter. If Dave is EUsceptic, why has he said that there is no place on his front bench for EUscpetics?

Why did he break his promise to withdraw from the EPP? After all, if he was really anti- the EU project he wouldn't need to form a new grouping: he could simply instruct the Conservative MEPs to join the Independence and Democracy Group (which would, coincidentally, mean splitting that group's resources between the Tories and UKIP, which would be a blow to the latter).

Why has he rigged the selection of Tory MEPs in favour of the sitting, Europhile representatives?

Why has he been in discussions with Barroso about ceding more environmental powers to the EU?

Why has he consistantly lied about repatriating the Social Chapter?

Why, despite urging their campaigners to highlight the plight of regional Post Offices, do the Tories fail to tell the truth about why they are closing?

Dave Cameron, EUsceptic? Don't make me fucking laugh.
If you're prepared to look like ridiculous lefties (revolutionary Trotskyite alliance, Socialist Peoples' party, Communist Party of Great Britain, Socialist Workers party etc... ad infinitum) each with their own religious belief in their solution to societies ills, then go ahead. Stick to your principles to the letter. Or you can grow up.

Well, I have grown up and I am sick of voting for a bunch of bastards whose policies—where we have any inkling of what they actually are—are not mine. It would not be a matter of compromising some of my principles: it means compromising them all, and why the fuck would I want to do that?

What, precisely, is Cameron's problem? The vast majority of the people in this country are, at the very least, EUsceptic (can anyone point me to that recent poll showing 69% or something?); why, if he is EUsceptic, does he not adopt this obviously vote-winning position?

Answer: because he's not EUsceptic.
If you're right of centre, and you want a new government, vote Conservative on Thursday.

If you're a swivel-eyed monomaniac with adolescent fantasies of self-importance, vote UKIP especially if you want 5 years of Gordon Brown (hey, at least he's Eurosceptic).

Trixy points out that this is a fairly stupid thing to say (not to mention insulting to people like myself).
I am sure that Timothy Congdon, former 'Wise Man' in the Treasury in the 1980s would be delighted at you calling him such names. As would Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who was given a life peerage by the Conservatives, and is chairman of the Pearson Webb Springbett (PWS) Group of reinsurance brokers, which he founded in 1964. Or, indeed, Lord Willoughby de Broke. Since 1992, Lord Willoughby de Broke has been governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and since 2002 president of the Warwickshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).

Further, as he points out in her comments, Jackart agrees with UKIP's policies.
That's not to say I don't agree with UKIPs policies. I do. No-one else cares.

Is he calling himself a "swivel-eyed monomaniac with adolescent fantasies of self-importance"? Presumably, yes.

OK, let me tell you why, tactically, you should vote UKIP in these local elections, especially if you are a Tory unhappy with Dave's policies. Because it's pretty simple.

The local elections are not going to control who runs the country; it isn't even really going to determine what your local council does: your council depends on the generosity of this NuLabour government for 75% of their funding.

However, if you would like Dave to take a more EUsceptic line; if you would like him to embrace the concepts of free trade; if you would like him to stop crapping on about the environment and instead make taxes both lower and simpler; in short, if you want a conservative (small "c") party to vote for at the next General Election (which does matter) then you need to show Dave that this is what you want.

The best way to do this is to vote for a party, minor though it may be, that espouses these principles. Then maybe, just maybe, Dave will sit up and listen to what you have to say. Maybe he will find his balls and form a EUsceptic policy. Use your protest vote to show Dave the direction that you would like the Tory party to go.

That is why, for a proper EUsceptic conservative who wants to see a properly conservative party up for election at the next GE, voting for UKIP is the only sensible tactical vote.
This amused your humble Devil.
Oh, and before I forget - Feel Good Drinks can fuck off. And so can Innocent Smoothies. And all the other examples of cloying corporate cute that are taking over the world.

Just die. Just fucking die.

Sorry, it sounds petty I know. But I'm genuinely worried that if it doesn't stop, in a generation or two we're all going to have turned in to super-healthy mongs unable to understand labels unless they talk to us like five year olds. Do not exceed the stated dosey-wosey or your tummy might get hurty.


Worth visiting just to see the comment by one of the Innocent guys...
Via ChickenYoghurt, there's a petition to sign if you think it'll do any good. Basically, it goes like this:
We, the undersigned, call on the government to initiate another vastly expensive whitewash which will waste enormous amounts of public money whilst exonerating the current government and security services of any wrongdoing whatsoever. It may or may not cost less than the £500 million, or whatever the fuck it is, that the massively fruitless (and yet-to-report) Bloody Sunday enquiry has paid to lawyers so far but I simply cannnot imagine a better way to spend the cash. Certainly, giving it to the Security Services and thus allowing them more resources to ensure that another 7/7 never happens is definitely not the best use of that money. Really.

Can you tell that I'm a wee bit sceptical?

And the Welsh...

Having had a little stab at the Scots for being a bunch of statist lunatics, it gives me a great5 deal of pleasure to point out that the Welsh aren't really a whole lot better.
But later on, the campaign trail leads to a Baptist church hall where all the candidates have their first public debate. They are not an inspiring bunch.

As far as I can work out, Sir Dai [Llewellyn] is the only one who is not paid for by the taxpayer. The Tory candidate, Jonathan Morgan, a regional Assembly Member (as opposed to a constituency one), is the slickest - articulate, local and full of facts.

The Labour candidate, Sophie Howe, a legal services manager for the Equal Opportunities Commission, bleats the party line about improvements under Labour.

Why, she is asked, have hospital waiting times got longer? 'Because we have been focussing on well-being rather than illness,' she says. Yes, that is what she says.

The Liberal, Ed Bridges, is doing a PhD on public library provision, and the Plaid Cymru candidate, Wyn Jones, hasn't turned up but is represented by a woman who calls herself a political theory researcher.

The Old Etonian party animal no longer seems quite so detached from the real world after all. In fact, he must be the only net contributor to the public purse.

Really, who the hell wants to be ruled by people who have worked for the state for all of their lives? Wat Tyler constantly highlights the problem of the state as "simple shopper" and it is hardly surprising that our various waste-of-space assemblies and governments are unable to negotiate tight contracts and decent deals: they have never had any experience of anything other than the state's standard incompetance.

In the name of all that's unholy, when you vote, vote for someone who has some actual, real-world experience and then maybe we won't see quite so much of our hard-earned money being flushed down the fucking toilet.

The wrong way down a one-way street

A Scottish client phoned me today to ask my opinion of the SNP. I replied that whilst they were making some of the right noises—especially in the matter of slicing into the huge Scottish state sector—they were actually slight fantasists. I now regret this statement.

I regret my use of the word "slight" as, via the Snob, I see that Wee 'Eck Salmond thinks that independence would not be a one-way street.
SNP leader Alex Salmond said independence was "not a one-way street" and a Scotland which went its own way could later re-join the United Kingdom.

When asked if an independent Scotland could in the future go back to being part of the UK, Mr Salmond told the GMTV Sunday Programme: "Any nation can do whatever it pleases.

"It can vote to become independent and it can vote if it so chooses to become un-independent, that's the prerogative of a nation and Scotland, of course, is a nation.

"It's a country - it has the right of self-determination. So no, it's not a one-way street, theoretically a country could do that."

Has he lost his fucking mind? Yes, Scotland could vote to rejoin the Union and the countries of the Union could equally well tell it to piss right off.

A lot of people increasingly feel that Scotland is something of a burden—both economically and spiritually, the constant, dissatified buzzing of whingeing Scots irritating all of us. People look at the vast amounts of extra money that go to the Scots in what are, essentially, electoral bribes; they then look at the increasingly ropey public services in the rest of the Union and wonder why the Scots should get the best of it based on stolen cash.

If Scotland were to go independent and became as economically successful as Wee 'Eck maintains it will, then why on earth would it want to rejoin the Union.

The only reason that Scotland would want to rejoin the Union was because independence hadn't worked and the Scottish was still the moribund, basketcase that it is today (and probably more so); why on earth does Salmond think that the rest of the Union would want to take back a near-bankrupt, under-performing, bunch of whining bastards?

So, Eckie-Thump, your "nation" can vote for what the fuck it likes, sunshine; but if you goes independent and bollocks it up, you are going to have to come up with some pretty irrefuteable reasons as to why on earth the rest of us should start subsidising the "best small country in the world" again, otherwise there's no fucking way that Scotland can become "un-independent".

Once you leave, matey, you're on your own: you can't rely on England to bail you out again.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Technology helps nations develop and become richer shock!

Admin at The Kitchen

Just to let you all know, I shall be doing a bit of a revamp of the blog over the next couple of weeks. The three-column template was originally implemented to allow me to put Adsense in the "sweet spot" but, since they will no longer serve to me and the others bring in nothing significant, they may as well be excised.

All round, I shall be going for a sleeker and, hopefully, more swiftly loading template (this one has become very bloated). I shall also be trimming my blogrolls. If anyone else has any suggestions for what they'd like to see on here, please let me know, Anonoymously if you want, in the Blogger Comments (the Haloscan ones will be leaving. Finally).

UPDATE: could I also get your views on the level of swearing? Is it amusing? Is it tiresome and off-putting? I ask because, when I started this blog, I was seriously angry: hence the swearing. I have calmed down a bit—or, rather, I've become more grimly focused—over the last few years (although certain things still piss me off); indeed, you may have realised that the amount of Anglo-Saxon has dropped. Views on this?

Should I try not to swear at all, or just simply go with what feels right for any one piece? (I will probably go with that last anyway, as I always have; still, it's good to get some views).
Thanks to Tim Almond, who pointed me towards this little nugget.
An English pub is trying to beat the imminent ban on smoking in public places by asking for consulate status from the Peruvian embassy in London, the landlady said Friday.

She pledged that staff would learn Spanish, celebrate Peru's national holiday and may even get a pet llama if they secure consulate status.

As Squander Two pointed out, in an entirely different context, "ingenuity is infinite"...

Smack my bitch up

Pootergeek took part in a little drugs questionnaire and then sprung a surprise.
What was most surprising to me was that, when she ended by asking me what possible solution I would suggest to drug-related problems, I shocked her.

“License drugs,” I said.

She, a woman half my age, responded with a horrified (and non-scripted) “What? All of them?!”

“Yes,” I said, “especially the hard ones.”

Then I pointed out that almost all of her questions had had nothing at all to do with the effects of drugs themselves, but with the illegal activities of drug users and dealers, and that the only negative effects I had experienced had been the result of drunk people trying to pick a fight with me on their way from being kicked out of places serving booze, and that most of the drugs we had been talking about did not promote aggression in those who consumed them.

I should add that I don’t believe that the licensing of drugs would “solve our drugs problems”. I just think that its a possible solution to the worst of them.

Plus, of course, whatever I put into my body is none of the state's business. By all means, tax them to pay for the inevitable externalities but, like Alcohol Prohibition, it is the illegality of drugs that does the most harm.

Scotland: the best wee country in the world. Not

It seems that a report commissioned by the Adam Smith Institute has concluded that an independent Scotland could do very well.
The economy of an independent Scotland could significantly outstrip the performance of the UK, a free market economic think-tank has claimed.

The Adam Smith Institute predicted that Scotland's economy could grow by up to 7%, imitating Ireland's recent success.

The report also said after 10 years of independence, household incomes in Scotland could out perform the UK average by as much as £6,000.

Author Gabriel Stein, director and chief international economist of Lombard Street Research, said: "If an independent Scotland chose to follow the Republic of Ireland's low-tax route, as SNP leader Alex Salmond has indicated it would, Scotland's growth rate might be expected, over a five-year period, to move closer to Ireland's trend growth rate of 7%.

The trouble is that this is all rather dependent on those leading Scotland having a fucking clue about the economy. And, as our Scotland-resident, poor little Greek boy highlighted, a certain Professor Midwinter does not view the SNP as being tremendously resposible custodians; in fact, he described the...
... creative accounting and rosy assumptions in the policy statements of the other major opposition party, the SNP.

Oh dear, oh dear.

There is another problem, and it's a biggie. Ireland funded their low-tax economy with extremely generous regeneration grants from the European Union. These grants will not be on offer to Scotland; at least, not in the same quantities. For pathetic though the economy of Scotland is, it's still vastly larger and more robust than that of Romania, Poland or any of the other Eastern European countries.

The SNP are, of course, hoping that the North Sea oil revenues will help out but the fact is that these simply aren't as lucrative as they once were. Plus, of course, whatever the truth of the sea assent carve-up (see the comments for discussion), the major gas fields are in English waters. If Scotland were to take swift action, it is possible that the oil would hold out long enough to fund some of the tax-cutting but if independence were to take ten years, for instance, I doubt that this would be the case.

It is certainly true that if an independent Scotland were to continue with its current economic policies and failed to boost private enterprise, it is likely that it would become, not another Ireland, but a total fucking basketcase.

And I have yet to see any real will to make that change.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More fusion

Via Strange Stuff and Peter Risdon, there has been another breakthrough in nuclear fusion (separate from Dr Bussard's hot fusion breakthrough last year).
This achievement has been described as "amazing" and "the biggest breakthrough in energy generation in decades". It seems to indicate that no scientific hurdle stands in the way of nuclear fusion. Just 5-7 years of engineering and configuring about 60 next generation linear transformer drivers. Then refining the system for commercial use starting in 20 years or less. All the pieces are now ready and proven, we just need to put them together for commercial nuclear fusion.

As regular readers of The Kitchen will know, your humble Devil is a firm believer that technology will save us from any global catastrophe that may or may not be threatened. As it happens, I don't believe in the apocalytic vision that is being painted by the global warming scientists, but I do think that we should work to stop burning hydrocarbons—for both supply and political reasons.

Apart from anything else, the effect of our not needing to buy massive oil supplies will be a severe depletion of the influence of the Middle East. And, as I discussed some time ago in a Wanabehuman article, hopefully that will lead to a serious amount of liberalisation in that benighted area. And, coincidentally, easing the problem of the funding of radical Islam.

So, frankly, the day that we crack viable fusion power—the Holy Grail of power generation—the better.

Of course, another thing that is worth noticing is that none of the really exciting, radical breakthroughs are happening because of the EU. The zinc oxide power stations are tested in Israel and funded and researched by Swiss companies; the Fusor breakthrough in December was funded by the US government and this latest breakthrough has happened as a result of a collaboration between Russia and the US based Sandia Institute.

So, what price the EU's Lisbon Agenda?

Bartholomew, Murray, Worstall and the CBI

It seems that James Bartholomew recently went to a lecture by Charles Murray, author of In Our Hands.
His idea, briefly, is this: that the government should give every person US$10,000 a year in place of all welfare benefits, retirement payments and healthcare. Of this, US$3,000 would have to be used to buy health insurance.

He said he was not primarily concerned that the welfare state costs too much "though it does", nor that it tends to make things worse "though it does" but that it "drains" the life out of people - particularly the spiritual life and sense of meaning.

He believed that people derive a sense of meaning in their lives in one or more of the following four ways: vocation, community, family and faith. For these things to retain their meaning, it was vital that government should leave them alone.

I do suggest that you read James' whole precis, because it is very much worth it. Why? Well, Charles Murray is, essentially, on eof the more famous exponenets of what we would call the Citizen's Basic Income (CBI). Although Murray's specifics, naturally, apply to the USA, his philosophical points apply equally to our own fair isle.

Your humble Devil has constantly harped on about how the state's extortion of money from the poor—and then using such mechanisms as the Tax Credits to make them beg for some of it back—is a disgusting thing; indeed, the Gobblin' King's adherence to these tactics is one of his most egregious aspects (and, let's face it, there's an awful lot to choose from). However, we all know why he does it: to build a client state and thus to perpetuate a Labour government.

But, you see, some of we disgusting right-wing libertarians are not interested in power: we just want to be left alone to live our lives. And this applies as much to the poorest in society as it does to the richest.

The concept of the CBI would allow this to happen, by removing means-testing; not only would this remove the necessity for a massive state bureaucracy invading and prying into people's lives, but it would also restore pride to people by ensuring that they are not penalised for working. Whatever the noble principles of the Welfare State, its implementation in terms of societal health has been a dismal fucking failure. The disgusting marginal deduction rates now present in our benefits system—in some cases, well over 90%—are just one example of this.

As Tim Worstall wrote over at Tech Central Station (in his first article on Murray's ideas):
I'll stick with my basic thought that the reason to oppose statism isn't that redistribution is immoral (although it may be, to your taste) it's rather that the actual way it is done is so hopelessly complicated that it manages not to achieve its stated aims. The Plan, to my mind, neatly sidesteps almost all of these problems. Instead of a web of grants, tax breaks, allowances, subsidies for this or that, there is simply one payment to all. It's not enough to live comfortably on, but it will provide for the basics.

This is really the beauty of the CBI: it's simplicity and (a crucial point) you do not lose the benefit if you get a job. And one would hope that most people would be forced to find employment but, no matter how badly paid that employment, will boost their earnings.

In plain words, people will not be financially punished for going to work.

There is, of course, one or two bonus corollaries (apart from the releasing of thousands of parasitic civil servants so that they can generate money in the private sector); as Timmy wrote in his second TCS article, the CBI will not lead to lower wages, as some have argued, but rather the opposite.
Those who seek education, an improvement in life can do so, those happy to laze on the porch can, as well. But what the Plan might do is to make it possible for all to unlock their potential, if they should so wish.

There is also a more Marxian (that is, using some of the insights of Marx without swallowing the entire pitcher of kool-aid) analysis possible. That economy, especially political economy, is about the analysis of power structures. In Marx's original analysis, still fervently believed by some today, capital will ever conspire against labor and attempt to engender a situation where there is a large reserve army of the unemployed. These unfortunates will have no option but to sell their labor at whatever miniscule price the oppressors are willing to offer, leading to ever fatter profits and the ever increasing immiseration of the proletariat.

If that is, indeed, the view of the world people really believe in, then The Plan is actually the answer. By providing an unconditional grant sufficient to survive upon, this "power structure" is subverted. The unemployed cannot be forced to accept lower wages for they can survive with none.

The second is, of course, that we can expose people such as the Gobblin' King for the power-mad fiends that they are.
It won't come as any surprise to regular viewers of the political scene that there are those who play the game for what they can get out of it. Yes, it happens on all sides, in all parties. You might be slightly more surprised to find that there are those -- yes, again, on all sides and in all parties, however strange this might sound -- who are doing it all out of conviction. They really do want to change the world for the better.

To me the genius of The Plan is that we'll be able to see, on the liberal side, who is who. Those who really are in it to make the world better will support it, for it achieves two desired goals: increases equality of opportunity and inverts the perceived power imbalance between labor and capital.

Those who oppose it we must assume are in one of two other groups. Those in the political system simply for the joy of the power they get to exercise and those in that very same system simply so they can suck at the teat of the public money cash cow.

So, let us all agitate for the CBI and see just how dedicated Gordon fucking Brown is to genuinely helping the poor.

Life in a gilded cage

The Longrider, upon finding himself in a new environment and surrounded by younger people, has written a superb post lamenting the lack of critical faculties of this generation.
I find myself working with a generation who accept without question the unproven concept that we cause global warming (sun? What sun?). Come to that, this is a generation that is woefully ignorant of geography, history, language and maths. When I find myself having to explain to colleagues how to work out something as basic as percentages or simple spelling, I despair. If I try to engage anyone on English history or global politics, I quickly find that they are quite literally, lost. And this is not unusual, I am the one who is unusual because I can spell, string a sentence together and add up… Oh, and I know where the Dardanelles are. And I am the one who failed my eleven plus on maths…

This same generation has grown up with the expectation that bad things shouldn’t happen to them and if they do, then the government had better do something about it pretty sharpish. The state is mother, the state is father, the state does not lie, the state will look after us.

Do go and read the whole thing...

Friday, April 27, 2007

James rock

I went to see the reformed James play at the Brixton Academy last night and they absolutely fucking rocked! They played four new and excellent songs; they also played one of my all time favourite tracks—extraordinary because it is a little-known album track from Laid—called Five-0 [MP3]

Are you open for trade
Your salvation, for something, for some thrills
Is a body of work for your inspection
You can trace, trace my concern
My concern

I've been looking for truth
At the cost of living
I've been afraid
Of what's before mine eyes
Every answer found
Begs another question
The further you go, the less you know
The less I know

I can feel your face
Gonna make it mine
I can be the man
I see in your eyes
Can you take my weight
Are we both too small
Know each other well
We've met before

Will we grow together
Will it be a lie
If it lasts forever, hope I'm the first to die
Will you marry me, Can we meet the cost
Is the power of love worth the pain of loss
Can you pay the bill, will you keep the change
Are you here for the party, or are you here for the pain

I can feel your face
Gonna make it mine
I can be the man
I see in your eyes
Will we grow together
Will it be a lie
If it lasts forever, hope I'm the first to die
Hope I'm the first to die

I am seriously wandering down into Brixton and buying a ticket off one of the many touts for tonight too...

UPDATE: yes, I went and saw them again, down in the standing bit this time. I danced my little heart out to a set that was substantially different to Thursday's. The four new songs that they played on both nights absolutely rock and I cannot wait for the forthcoming album! It seems that the band are enjoying it too.

Hooray—James are back and they're better than ever!

Drinking at home

Now what the fucking fuck is this fucking shit?
Parents who give alcohol to children aged under 15 should be prosecuted, a charity has said.

The call comes in an Alcohol Concern report on the government's Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy.

The study highlights figures that suggest a large increase in the amount of alcohol being drunk by 11 to 13-year-olds.

Go fuck yourselves, you fucking charity fucks? What the fucking hell is wrong with this damn country? Following on closely from the news that the government already has 266 ways to enter our homes, these bastards will be encouraging the state to burst down our doors with Drink Enforcement Officers.

What the... I... I'm just fucking speechless. I'm absolutely astonished that anyone could even suggest such a massively illiberal idea.

And why the fuck do Alcohol Concern think that they—or the state—can bring up other people's children better than their own parents? What amazing affrontery!
Public health minister Caroline Flint told the BBC she did not think the proposals would be enforceable.

And that's your only fucking objection?—that you don't think it would be enforceable? For fuck's sake, woman, how about coming out and saying, "What do you think we are, you Alcohol Concern bastards? The fucking Nazis?"
Alcohol Concern also wants a 16% rise in alcohol taxes...

What the bastard fuck is going on? Seriously, why is it that these puritan cunts insists on punishing everyone for the abusive habits of a fucking minority?
... a ban on brewers selling to retailers at a loss...

And who the fuck are these Alcohol Concern people to tell two private entities how they conduct their own private bloody business? Get out of the market, you cunts.
... and a crackdown on under-age alcohol sales.

Oh, finally, some fucking sense. Yes, if you think that there is a massive problem with under-age drinking, by all means enforce the laws that we already have! Yes, that is what you should do.

What you shouldn't do is to bring in yet more unbelievably illiberal and unenforceable laws. And Spam wants to give these bastard charities more power!

Personally, I shall be sending a letter to Alcohol Concern, expressing my concern at their authoritarian tendencies. Oh, and I'll probably call them a pack of cunts as well.

Oh, while we are about it, we do I keep seeing these signs saying:
If you are fortunate enough to look under 21, please ensure that you have ID.

What? Why 21? Last time I looked, the legal age for buying alcohol was 18, not 21: did I miss a meeting? Many pubs are also enforcing a 21 age limit now too.

I object to this. What we should be doing is encouraging responsible drinking by allowing parents to buy their children a drink in pubs (and by all means, get them to show ID that confirms that they are the parents). This helps the children get a feel for both the drink and the environment in which it is consumed.

As we are finding, the more that you try to prohibit a product, the more people misuse it.

UPDATE: some more from the Snob, the Greek and the Sharpener.

UPDATE 2: via Jackart, this is superb.
So you will understand why the news this morning that an organisation calling itself Alcohol Concern, no doubt comprised of characters formed from the rancid grey scum that rises from the bubbling cauldron of joyless interference in other people's lives, declares that parents who allow under 15s to taste life's nectar should be jailed, I am less than enthusiastic. The French would snort, the Spanish giggle and the Italians shrug. Even the Germans would blow a little Teutonic toot through pursed lips.

And now another thought has flicked through my mind. If the meddling witch from Alcohol Concern who spoke on R4's 'Today' earlier was mashed, fermented and distilled, aged in an oak cask with wormwood and scorpion tails, and bottled, what would the taste be? Bitter, no doubt. A hidden spiteful sting, perhaps not unpleasant if well diluted. A few drops then, in a Paris goblet, well swilled round to coat the glass, before half a gill of good Plymouth Gin is added. That would be perfect.

Go read the whole thing.
During a conversation at Friday Cities, somebody pointed me to

Libertarian communism? How the fuck does that work? Actually, looking at it, it doesn't: libertarianism is not synonymous with anarchism.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Was Heath gay?

I tend to think not: after all, would anyone of either sex fuck that failure? The Appalling Strangeness points out that, really, who gives a shit and then gives a brilliant precis of what we should care about.
I would describe Ted Heath as a miserable failure as Tory Leader, Prime Minister and Elder Statesman. As Tory leader he lost all bar one General Election that he led the party into. As Prime Minister, his greatest achievement was taking the country into Europe which will always be a controversial and deeply subjective definition of achievement*. Aside from that, he had to implement the three day week, did nothing to stop the mounting problems in Ireland, did nothing to halt the decline of Britain into the unenviable condition of being the "sick man of Europe" and ultimately had his ample butt kicked by the miners. In his career (if such a word can be used) after his time in Number 10, he proved himself to be a boring, bitter old fart who constantly carped and bitched at his successors as Tory leaders, undermining them often at times when they needed support rather than criticisms. He hung around in the Commons for far too long and, according to one rumour I heard back in my days in the Tory party, only stood down when his constituency threatened to de-select him. When you sit down and review his record, his only real triumph was beating Wilson in the 1970 General Election and thus giving the UK a brief respite from having a vacant, pseudo-socialist, spineless arsehole of a man with an affected Yorkshire accent as Prime Minister.

Yup, that pretty much sums him up, the fat old cunt. Oh, and I agree with this footnote too.
*I remember a conversation I had with one Tory activist who stated Heath was a traitor, and should be hanged. I pointed out that Heath was already dead, and therefore hanging him would probably be a total waste of time. But no, this activist wanted Heath's corpse digging up and then hung, a little like Mussolini. I pointed out that this sounded all a little counter-productive and more than a tad distasteful, but he was having none of it. Just goes to show that Heath is hated by members of his own party for selling out. And, God willing, one day the same will happen to young "Hug A Husky" Cameron.

Dig him up and dismember him, Cromwell style. The man was not simply a traitor to his party, he was a traitor to this country, deliberately lying about the aims of the EEC—he knew all along that a federal superstate was the end point—and giving away our sovereignty in a breathtakingly bad deal.

Ted Heath was the man that the phrase "total fucking cunt" was invented for. I hope he died in pain; and I mean that.

Opting out is not an option

Via the good Doctor Crippen, I have found this lovely little Q & A session with Andy "spiv" Burnham (whose "truthiness" one of my colleagues discussed at length).

I particularly liked this little exchange.
John*, Hull asked
I remember who [sic] bad the NHS was 10 years ago, and I've seen real improvements. What do you think would happen if cameron got in?

Andy Burnham MP, Minister of State for Health answered

Cameron was the man behind the patient passport, which would have helped wealthy people opt out of the NHS...

How dare you try to opt out of the NHS! We shall abolish all private hospitals immediately!

Fucking hell, what a cunt. For fuck's sake, Andy, we want as many people as possible to opt out of the NHS (and not only so that they actually get a better service). I explained why some time back, when I refused to sign Richard Solomon's Our Petition.
... I believe that those who can pay for their own medical treatment should do so: as far as I am concerned—with a salary of nearly £60,000 and "expenses" which are often twice that—our politicians are more than capable of paying for their health care.

The NHS was set up to help the very poor who were unable to pay for treatment and this is the only basis on which today's NHS can even have a hope of surviving. If Doc Crippen wants the NHS to improve, then those who can pay must do so.

Everyone is starting to accept that care on the NHS is going to have to be rationed. Thus, it makes sense that those who can afford to opt out, get insurance, go private, should be heavily encouraged to do so.

The NHS—and the Welfare State in general—was set up to help those who were unable to help themselves, not those who were merely unwilling to do so. Most of us will happily go for a free lunch if we can, and so we shouldn't be surprised that the general populace opted to do so (especially since they were taxed specifically to cover their care through National Insurance).

National Insurance was supposed to cover your pension: it won't. Let's not pretend that there will be a state pension of any significance, if at all, by the time that those of us under 30 retire.

National Insurance was supposed to cover your healthcare: it won't. There are already predictions that the NHS will become, even partially, a paid for service in a decade.

National Insurance was supposed to cover your unemployment benefit: it might. Provided that you fill in your forms regularly (in triplicate) don't resign from your job, aren't the Director of an unsuccessful company, don't have any other assets, etc.

It is time for those fat cunts in Westminster to stop deluding people. Just call NI what it is, i.e. another income tax. Abolish it and roll it into income tax; stop trying to con people that it is an insurance scheme because it isn't. And then give tax breaks to people who buy private insurance.

There are tax breaks for private pensions—the government gives you your income tax back on contributions. Fine, let's do the same for health insurance and unemployment insurance.

But, for fuck's sake, will people stop deluding themselves and get some private fucking insurance. You have been warned: when the crunch comes, I will have no sympathy for anyone of my age who turns around and moans about not being able to afford their health treatment in thirty years' time.

Tough shit: you were warned.

* Presumably not Prescott. Definitely not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Frederick Forsyth admits getting "lost in world of fiction"

Frederick Forsyth is probably the only really famous old boy that my prep school has ever produced (sorry, Ed, I don't know if you're famous enough yet) but that was a long time ago and one must now conclude that poor old Freddie has lost his mind. Or, perhaps it is was the writing of all of those fictitious novels that has addled his senses?
One of the Conservative Party's highest profile celebrity supporters has urged David Cameron to "kill Ukip stone dead" by committing the party to a policy of seizing back key policies from Brussells [sic], can reveal.

Frederick Forsyth, the best-selling author, set out his plan in a major speech at a "Better Off Out" meeting of the Campaign for an Independent Britain at the week-end.

Ah, yes; Freddie is a patron of the Better Off Out campaign (which, incidentally, I emailed to add my name to after Lance-Watkins's comment but, alas, my name has yet to appear) and I am sure that he yields to no one in his determination to take us out of the EU.
Mr Forsyth urged Mr Cameron to "talk softly but carry a big stick" when dealing with Britain's future as a member of the European Union.

The author of the 'Dogs of War' and 'Day of the Jackal' said the Tories could neutralise the threat from the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) by announcing plans to regain key powers which have been ceded to Brussels.

Repatriating powers would please the Right of the Tory party "and it would kill Ukip stone dead".

The problem is, Freddie, is that the reason UKIP exists is because the Tories have never shown any urge to be EUsceptic. And even when they have talked the EUsceptic talk, they have significantly failed to walk the EUsceptic walk. Given Letwin's reponses to me, do you think that this is going to change?

Wake up, Forsyth! Wake up and smell the fucking coffee, you fuckwit! We aren't in happy, happy fiction-land here.
He continued: "That's a million votes - and most of them are ex-Tories, disgruntled, disillusioned. If you can call back a million missing Tories who vote Ukip, you are in Downing Street."

Mr Cameron's recent speech in Brussels last month sounded like he was "musing aloud about regaining powers given to the EU".

Well, Spam has been musing over a lot of things, he just hasn't committed to any of them.
Mr Forsyth continued: "I don't think David is a brave man. He is frightened, nervous, timid. He goes over to Brussels and says all these things. He did say he wanted to cherry pick.

"Was he musing aloud, making a serious proposition? If he was, was he making a serious proposition? If he was, did he realise the seriousness of what he was saying?"

More importantly, did he realise the impossibility of what he was saying? Remain within the EU and cherry pick the bits that we wanted to adhere to?

First, why on earth would the other countries let us do it? And, second, in that case what is the point of remaining in the EU in the first place? Why not adopt UKIP's policy of leaving completely and then negotiating a trade deal?
If the Brussels refused to re-negotiate on the basis of a complete reform of the relationship, then Mr Cameron should not hesitate to take Britain out of the EU, Mr Forsyth said.

If I can whistle O Flower Of Scotland twice then, as far as I am concerned, Bill Gates should give me £10,000,000,000 but it isn't going to happen, Freddie, you silly sod.
"If you said 'we would like to propose the repatriation of six sovereign powers; we want the British to control our borders, our courts, our fisheries, our agriculture, our human rights and our trading policies, 80pc of Brits would agree," he said.

Yes, Freddie, they would. Unfortunately, most of them, owing to the conspiracy of silence by our politicians and the laziness and venality of our press, don't realise that we don't realise that we do not control these areas anyway.

But much of this is simply not up for renegotiation; borders, control, fisheries, agriculture and trade are enshrined in the Treaty of Rome, the founding Treaty of the EU. Human rights (that part under EU control) resides in the Treaty of Amsterdam. Courts?—I don't know, off hand but they'll be in the Constitution next treaty, I imagine.

And what, precisely, would that leave in the EU's control anyway?
"I want the Conservatives to sit down and think what powers would we like to be repatriated. Just name them.

"Then say 'if we are not taken seriously we would be required to withdraw subsidies'. Before doing it, we would ask for the British people for their opinion."

Yes, well, all of this would be very nice, but I fear that many of the British poeple are just as timid as you say Cameron is, Freddie-baby. What they need is reassurance that we can survive outwith the EU—indeed, that we can prosper as we have not done in 35 years.
The cross-party Campaign for an Independent Britain believes that Britain should withdraw from the EU and seeks to create informed debate on this issue, based upon accurate analysis of the very real costs of the UK's continued membership.

Fuck me, who wrote that last sentence? Are they hiring management consultants instead of journalists now? It may be that the Campaign for an Independent Brtiain are indeed doing so, but so are UKIP, Civitas, the ASI and about a million other institutions. Those of us who have read their reports have generally concluded that, economically, we lose out massively.

So, can we leave yet?

UPDATE: it has been suggested that I have not been entirely fair to Freddie, and that the pro-Tory Telegraph might actually have been twisting his words. So I think that it's only fair to highlight some of the comments made.

David B. Wildgoose:
This time you're not actually being fair DK. You need to read his article in the Jan/Feb 2007 issue of Freedom Today, (the Freedom Association magazine).

In it he points out that the next election will be very close, and that individuals should declare openly that they will only vote for a candidate who will give them a referendum on the EU. If enough people make that declaration then the party machinery will make the calculations and realise that whoever guarantees such a referendum will win, and whoever refuses it will give the election away.

I presume that this speech is following the same logic but aimed directly at the Tories.

From what I heard from those present at his speech, the Telegraph completely twisted his words for their own purposes.

These kind of unchecked attacks on BOO patrons are really not helpful, particularly from those who seek to get their names added as supporters!

An apology is due to Freddie I'd say.

This sounds similar to FF's address to the Bruges Group, which can be read—and listened to—here.

Actually it seemed to me to be a constructive suggestion and doable.

He starts from the surely reasonable premise that we can only be taken out of the EU by a government in power. THis will not be UKIP but could be the Tories.

His attitude towards Cameron and the COnservative Party is basically grab them by the short and curlies and their hearts and minds may follow.

As many potential conservatice voters should declare that they will abstain (or vote UKIP) unless the Tories promise a referendum on repatriating one or two key powers.

If they don't promise this, then they don't get into power. Simple as that. No Red Boxes and ministerial Rolls. We just have to put up with Brown for a few years.

He also warns against the referendum question being the nuclear option, "In or Out?". With the BBC and much of the MSM spinning for all they're worth, that might be risky.

If the referendum question was, say, "Should we repatriate our fishing, immigration policy, and courts" and it got an emphatic yes, then that would increase the leverage of the EU-sceptics.

Of course these things are enshrined in treaties and we could not expect all the EU-states to agree to a renegotiation. There would have to be essentially unilateral action backed by sufficient political will.

Whether that would be forthcoming is another matter, but a good referendum result would surely be worth getting?

Alternative practical suggestons?

I will have a read of his speech when I get a second, and see what I think. The point still stands about the Tories, I am afraid. They are not fucking EUsceptics, and my conversation with Letwin, who is Tory head of policy, shows that really quite clearly.

The Tories have stuff all intention of leaving the EU and as long as our "partners" know this, we have no leverage. I would love it if Cameron grew a spine—wouldn't we all—but I just don't believe that it's going to happen. Look at the regulations that Cameron has introduced about electing MEPs, where the sitting—and overwhelmingly pro-EU (bar Roger Helmer)—MEPs get priority on the lists.

How about we get a petition together to persuade him to at least hold a referendum? And what do you want to bet that Cameron will ignore that just as he has ignored the protests about his move to the middle ground?

And, in the name of FUCK, if Cameron is so EUsceptic, why doesn't he just announce a fucking referendum? Oh, that'll be because he's a fucking federalist, keen to give away even more of our powers in the Environmental arena. The man's a fucking prick and a EUfederalist prick at that.

But, believe me, I'd love to be proven wrong.
Simon Heffer lays into NuLabour splendidly...
The past decade has seen a sustained assault on public probity, economic responsibility, constitutional efficiency, the rule of law, administrative competence, liberty of the subject, and our international reputation of a sort unknown in living memory. I defer to no one in my disdain for the Major government: but, with the notable exceptions of its economic buffoonery and its toadying to pro-Europeanism, it could not hold a candle to the present crew for sheer destructiveness of our values, our way of life and our money.

That doesn't cover the half of it. Luckily, the whole article is a lot longer: go and read it all.
Stupid fucking quote of the day...
The invisible hand of the market is supposed to provide us with all the services we could ever want but it seems as if all it does is sell us stuff we don't need.

No, the invisible hand was never "supposed" to do that, it just does. Second, no one is making you buy tat: you choose to do so. You really are going to have to get used to the concept of personal responsibility, you know.

Fucking hellski.

Andrew Marr: stupid bastard

Andrew Marr is, I am sure, a very nice man. Unfortunately, he is also pigshit ignorant and stupid to boot. Admittedly, he is a journalist, so one shouldn't be surprised. Today, he's wittering on about recycling, bemoaning the fact that when electronic equipment—specifically, in his case, a printer—breaks down, we throw it away.
But to discard a hugely sophisticated article of silicon, wiring, glass and plastic, whose computing power would have filled a room at a Sixties university, because I cannot mend it, is surely terrible. Go to any big waste tip and you'll see glinting, glittering mounds of computers, laptops, printers, never mind mobile phones and digital cameras, chucked because they're out of date, or because some comparatively tiny thing has gone wrong, and no normal person can mend them.

No previous generation could have imagined doing this. It's the equivalent of finding a seatbelt snagging on your Ford Cortina, so throwing the car away; or discarding a typewriter when the ribbon runs out; or an expensive, gleaming lawnmower with blunt blades.

Er, no it's not, Andrew. If you threw the printer away when the ink cartridge ran out, then you might have a point but I'm afraid that most of us don't. The breakdown of your printer was far more like a car being totalled in a crash than having a snagged seatbelt. You twat.
If you ever need to explain socialist idealism in action to a young person, don't despair. You don't need to trek off to a small town in Cuba, or try to describe life in Czechoslovakia in the early Fifties.

Just go to a successful council recycling dump. There you'll find the bright re-education posters, the self-certain officials and the apologetic middle classes waiting in line. Here, the workers really are in control. Presumably, fortnightly rubbish collections are meant to produce more of that.

I'm as self-flagellating as the next man, but isn't the bigger issue the packaging used by supermarkets? And shouldn't politicians target them, not old ladies worried about the smell from bins?

Well, just possibly, you lkazy fucking journo cunt, you might like to mention why that packaging is there? Maybe you'd like to inform us that it is, in fact, an EU regulation that stipulates the wrapping of food?

No, of course you wouldn't, because you a piss-fuck piece of journo shit; a fucking dilatente cunt who doesn't give two shits about reporting anything other than the most superficial facts. It is because of pricks like you that the true extent of EU influence goes unreported and thus unacknowledged by both populace and politicians. I hate you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Your humble Devil has a letter in the Evening Standard today [not online].
Anthony Hilton interestingly compares the social inequalities generated by the City's current boom and that of the Victorian age, but misses a fundamental point: in the 19th century there was no welfare state.

While some Victorians invested only in fine living, a great many used their assets to finance orphanages, schools and hospitals, returning their wealth to the communities that helped enrich them in the first place.

The resentment felt by those of us on relatively modest incomes is not that bankers earn so much, but that their millions appear to be selfishly hoarded. Because people have abdicated all sense of social responsibility to the state, today's multimillionaires feel no obligation to help those who most need it.

It is admirable David Cameron should be talking about fulfilling a duty to society and seeking to reinvolve charities to achieve this. But if we are to persuade today's young bankers to emulate Victorian philanthropists, the state must take several steps back and allow people to reconnect with their fellow man.

Chris Mounsey,

They've edited it a bit (and made it, frankly, a bit less prolix and a bit more hippy sounding), but the point is an important one, I think.

The fact is that these wealthy bankers can do whatever they like with their cash, and the government should certainly not be talking about imposing pay caps on private fucking companies, if only because the government's system of pay schemes is not exactly a blueprint for success, is it?

But it is nevertheless true that all of those things that are now serviced by the state are things that were, once, done through the philanthropy of the very wealthy.

A quick note on authors

I just want to clarify a couple of things, as people seem to be getting a little confused.

The Devil's Kitchen is not a group blog as such, not in the way that Samizdata is; we don't all have the same views. Indeed, the people that I initially invited were invited precisely because they were emphatically not of the same views as I. They were people who wrote well and who might provide a dissenting voice so that The Kitchen's readers could get a different viewpoint from time to time.

As such, although I am a libertarian, that does not necessarily apply to any of the other contributors. Although the vast bulk of this site is written by myself, others do occasionally chip in and so you will see surprising views hosted here.

The key is to look to see who the author is!
Here's a very entertaining website detailing some of the... er... less authorised announcements by driver on the Tube. One of my personal favourites was this one.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do apologise for the delay to your service. I know you're all dying to get home, unless, of couse, you happen to be married to my ex-wife, in which case you'll want to cross over to the Westbound and go in the opposite direction".


The British Disease

The Great GMTV Phone Line Fraud might result in job losses.
Only in the United Kingdom would the first reaction of a company which has allowed itself to be used as the vehicle for a fraud perpetrated by a third party contractor be to consider sacking its staff, when the fraud would not have happened had the company's senior managers properly supervised that contractor.
This is one case where it would better for the board of GMTV to accept collective responsibility and sack itself rather than have one tea lady lose her job as a result of a decision taken way over her head and over which she had no control; and if that were not possible, where it would be better for all to go than just some.
But you can get away with anything in this country, even get away with murder, if you say you run a business.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boris Yeltsin is dead.
Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin has died, the Kremlin says.

Mr Yeltsin was 76. The cause of death has not yet been announced.

Vodka shares plummet.

I'll huff and I'll puff and fine you five grand!

A number of people have highlighted the fact that there are any number of ways—well, 266 ways—in which the scum by whom we are ruled can enter our homes. Jackart puts it rather nicely, I think.
But what is needed is a return to the principles of private property. Without privacy there is no point to property. Without property rights, there is no freedom. An over mighty bureaucracy is there fore inimical to this freedom we cherish. Property does not flow from the state, we subcontract the state to do things we cannot do ourselves, like defence from external threat; exactly the opposite to the way socialists think. State apparatchiks need to realise therefore that they are servants, not masters. We should have the right to tell the state to fuck off. With less power to intrude against our will, state agents would have to be more polite to get their work done, making the country a better place to live, work and do business.

Legislate with that in mind and everyone should be happier, except fat unionised public sector jobsworths in hi-vis vests who delight in the exercise of petty and arbitrary power. They should be boiled down and turned into soap - the only use I can think of for such people.

Private property rights are an absolute fundamental of a civilised society; that there are so many excuses under which the state—our servant—can come into our homes (and, in many cases, simply carry off our property) is deeply worrying. And fucking annoying.

But then these bastards have been building their totalitarian state for decades. A plague on all their houses, fucking politico cunts.
Happy St. George's Day and may that day come soon that we actually have something to celebrate, as the EU lies in a burning wreckage and Britain is great once more!

In the meantime, I still fucking hate all politicians...

Miliband's bribe?

It seems that David Miliband has not only said that he will not run for leader, but that he is actively voting for The Gobblin' King.
Environment Secretary David Miliband has announced that he will vote for Gordon Brown as Labour leader.

His declaration will be seen as giving a boost to the chancellor, the favourite to succeed Tony Blair.

When Mr Miliband told the BBC on Tuesday that he did not intend to run for the top job, critics said he had left himself room to change his mind.

But he tries to remove any uncertainty when he writes in The Observer: "I will vote for Gordon Brown".

Upon receiving a tip-off from my mole at DEFRA a couple of days ago, I speculated that the DTI would be abolished and that Batshit would get, amongst other things, the Energy portfolio; this would allow him to really get to grips with making us all poorer, ensuring that the lights go out and all for a delusion his Green Crusade.

Interestingly, on Friday I was speaking to an acquaintance who works at the DTI: he too had heard the rumours that it was going to be dissolved; he too thought it likely that Energy would go to DEFRA.

So, has Batshit been given a sweetener?

Paying for the NHS

The NHS continues to be a massive fuck-up.
More patients will have to pay 'top-up' fees for private care because of budget cuts in the NHS and long waiting times, a group of doctors say in a report.

Well, let us remind ourselves of what the situation actually is. Yes, operations have been delayed—hospitals have even been fined for working through their waiting lists too swiftly—in order to avoid the budget deficits which would lose Commissar Hewitt her job.

However, let us also remind outselves that funding of the NHS is at about £90 billion this year, up from £37 billion ten years ago. And yet productivity is down; as Wat Tyler points out, we now pay consultants double what we used to and we have seen a 15% drop in productivity.

So when these doctors say that there are budget cuts, this is true in relation to the last year, but it is not true over the last ten years; the budget is actually two and a half times what it was a decade ago.
Doctors for Reform says the idea that health care is free across the UK is now a "political mirage".

It always was: free at the point of use does not mean free.
The group has written to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt calling for a debate on NHS funding.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said patients had always had the choice of paying for private healthcare.

Yes, this is true. But unlike almost every country in the world, we have discouraged people from taking out health insurance, always assuring the poor bastards that the government-funded NHS would provide for them. Had we said twenty years ago that the NHS might not be free at the point of use (FATPoU) in 30 years' time, we would be in a considerably better position now.

Still, private treatment is becoming more affordable. [Emphasis mine.]
Its report says patients are developing sophisticated approaches to 'topping up' NHS care with private treatments, including in key areas like cancer and heart disease.

It blames patchy provision of NHS services across the UK, long waiting times and varied quality.

The report also pointed to the falling cost of private treatments due to advances in technology and increased competition between firms.

Which brings us neatly onto Dr Rant's plan to save the NHS and, more importantly, Timmy's take on it.
Dr. Rant Saves the NHS

Or at least that's what he wants to do.
I think we need to realise that market mechanisms are anathema to any health service, and increase transaction costs rather than health gain.

Ooops, fallen at the first fence there. Better luck next time, eh?

So, on the one hand, we have incontrovertiable evidence that a state-run NHS has lead to higher costs for lower productivity, "patchy provision", "long waiting times" and "varied quality".

On the other, we have a report by Doctors For Reform that explains that "advances in technology and increased competition between firms"—which are, in fact, exactly the "market mechanisms" that Dr Rant decries—has led to "the falling cost of private treatments".

So, with a state-run NHS we have increasing costs, and then we have, in companies subject to market mechanisms, we have falling costs. And Dr Rant thinks that market mechanisms have failed. Er...

Of course, the NHS isn't merely failing its patients; it's also failing the employees. We have thousands of junior doctors and nurses who cannot find a job—despite the fact that we are, apparently, constantly short-staffed. Many of these workers also cannot really afford to live in the areas where they work. This is what happens, of course, when you have top-down, centrist management of an entity as huge as the NHS.

It's technically known as "a fuck-up".

My dear Dr Rant, the way to save the NHS is to introduce precisely those market forces that you so deplore.

Very long-term readers (are there any left?) might remember that, in late 2005, I put together The DK Party Blogger Cabinet, allocating to the jobs various bloggers whom I respected at the time.

Andrew, of the now-defunt Non-Trivial Solutions, was awarded the Health Portfolio (do read the whole post, as there was an exchange of ideas that I'm not going to post here).
On health, we're going to privatise the NHS, but we're going to do it in such a way that people who have most at stake end up with some ownership. Basically, every NHS trust will be spun off as a Ltd company, with 20% of the shares going to the present employees (to be split according to length of service, I'd imagine...). The other 80% will go to taxpayers living in the local catchment area (to be defined) in proportion to the amount of national insurance they have paid over their working lives.

This will mean that the elderly in particular, end up with a hefty share of the new companies, which they can sell to subsidise their own private healthcare. The idea is that no-one gets too screwed over in the transition, plus it buys up the elderly vote quite nicely. Anyone under retirement age should be able to get health insurance anyway, as we're going to provide a tapered subsidy according to age and means, reducing over time, to 'encourage' the market and keep voters quiet. The new companies will be encouraged to do a certain amount of work pro bono, and the government will pay for all emergency healthcare (A&E, mainly) through general taxation.

We're also going to make unions in healthcare illegal, just for kicks.

My views have developed a little since then, and I think that we should be looking at a multi-payer system, like that of France. In that country's system, the government pays for 70% of medical costs (100% for cancer) and the remaining 30% is paid for by the patient (usually by taking out some kind of insurance).

The important point is that hospitals should be private entities, thus encouraging competition between them. Absolutely essential to this is that all hospitals must provide accurate, publically-available breakdowns of success rates for various operations, etc. that both patients and their GPs can examine (publishing them online would be easiest)*. This means that hospitals can also recruit the best staff and pay them accordingly (instead of through a central pay deal).

The two-payer system ensures that neither the government nor the insurance companies have a monopoly on funding, and I would like to see the proportion altered to more like 50:50. On the whole, I would prefer to see the government involved as little as possible; otherwise, the government will try to politicise the health service for short-term electoral gain.

The fact that people have to pay for at least part of their treatment should ensure that they take more responsibility for their own health. If you are overweight, then you pay more. If you smoke (as I do), then you pay more. In other words, the corollary of people paying for at least part of their treatment is a healthier society: people respond to incentives.

Further, I think that the constrainsts of private capital borrowing will see more, smaller, hospitals springing up in response to need (as used to happen), rather than the unwieldy, hard to clean behemoths that we see today.

There you go, Dr Rant; we provide a decent health service (modelled, essentially, on the consistantly best-rated system in the world) using those very market mechanisms that you despise. We can see that it works in France, there is no reason for it not to work here.

UPDATE: there's a very succinct post from Timmy on this topic.

UPDATE 2: some more excellent thoughts, based on following the Swiss system, from Roger Thornhill here.

* UPDATE 3: I suppose that it shouldn't surprise me, but every time I think, "should I embellish that with a caveat" and don't, someone picks it up.
Absolutely essential to this is that all hospitals must provide accurate, publically-available breakdowns of success rates for various operations, etc. that both patients and their GPs can examine (publishing them online would be easiest).

Some newspapers have been known to publish just such information. However, this information was not risk stratified. Thus a surgeon who operates on 80 year old alcholic, diabetic smokers would appaear to be far less competant than one who operates on twenty one year old fitness fanatics. And a hospital that specialised in same would appear to be a bad hospital. This is the sort of thing that will lead to very defensive surgery possibly with surgeons refusing to work on any patients with a grim outlook, for fear of ending up "on gardening leave".

Just to declare an interest, I work for a company that (amongst other things) does statistical analysis of operations across the UK in various specialties. Naturally, I think the publishing of risk stratified, appropriately weighted data sets for every hospital is a fantastic idea ;-). But publishing the raw data (by itself at least) would do more harm than good.

This is one of those times. Having been an avid reader of Private Eye's medical column for years, I was aware of this issue. However, I didn't really think it worth mentioning, mainly because of the reply here: with the kind of computing power that we have and the statistical and engineering capabilities of various companies, producing properly weighted figures should not be a problem. Hence my not mentioning it.

David wants responsibility

Yes, yes, Cammy-babes; this is all very well but how, precisely, does one achieve it?
Conservative leader David Cameron is calling for a "revolution in responsibility" to counter a rising tide of anti-social behaviour.

He will use a speech in London to accuse Labour of encouraging irresponsibility by promoting individual rights ahead of civic duty.

Less state intervention will be part of his "manifesto" for a better society.

Well, I think that's just dandy, ain't it?
The Conservative leader will say measures like anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) have been counter-productive, because they allow people to abdicate responsibility for their actions.

Instead, Conservatives would encourage parents, neighbours, business people and teachers to take responsibility for bringing up children to behave properly and keeping their own communities in order.

A combination of less state interference, more support for families and trusting people more would create a "framework of incentives that encourages civility and pro-social behaviour", he will say.

This is more or less what Oliver Letwin was talking about when we saw him speak at the Bow Group. As it happens, I pretty much share Jackart's view of Letwin's speech.
Oliver Letwin talked at length about the a future Conservative administration providing an "Enabling state" rather than an activist state. Basically this means getting people to take responsibility for their lives and where necessary others'. The involvement of charity, even at the risk of religious evangelism, is to be encouraged. People, rather than the bureaucracy is to be the driver behind improvements. The professionals working in the public sector should be trusted to run things and not be endlessly striving to arbitrary targets set by Whitehall.

Unfortunately, I also wholeheartedly agree with The Nameless One's conclusion.
However a Conservative government would extend the Thatcherite aspiration to end poverty by enabling people to help each other.

And, to all intents and purposes, that was it. Because when it came to detailing exactly how the Conservative would increase social responsibility within this country, Letwin was found utterly wanting.

Whilst one may think that all of this is entirely laudable, there are a number of severe problems. The first (and simplest to deal with) is that between 50% and 80% of all of our laws originate with an unelected bureaucracy whose philosophical views are not the same as those that Cameron's stating. The EU has no interest in giving people responsibility and has absolutely no intention of relinquishing any of its power, locally or supranationally. This wouldn't, of course, be a problem if the Conservatives had the balls to take us out of the EU but, for reasons that even they cannot explain, this is not the case.

The second issue is that politicians do not like to let power go easily either (well, not to the electorate; they seem to be more than happy to cede it to the EU); further, they are constantly being badgered by interested parties. If the Tories really were to led the reins go in this way, whenever there was a clamour for some special action on an issue, they would be unable to do anything about it.

Because, you see, politicians are involved in politics; and it is all very well saying that charities, etc. should become involved in the society, but the problem is that these organisations will simply become more politicised, not less.

As the Tories try to rely more on local charities, they will start to divert funds to those charities; gradually, the charities start to become more reliant on government funds. The government, under pressure to get results, starts to dictate terms and policy to the charity. And suddenly, it is no longer that nice, responsive organisation that used to be so flexible; it is yet another department of the state.

No, I'm sorry, Messrs Letwin and Cameron: you are going to have to explain how all of this works, or else I will never be convinced.

NHS Fail Wail

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