Sunday, May 31, 2009

Insult of the Day

Your humble Devil has been less angry of late, and so the inventive sweariness count has dropped somewhat. Luckily, there are people like Obnoxio the Clown to provide said sweariness, and bastards like the Beast of Bolsover to inspire it...
You jumped-up, overweening, self-important cuntweasel of a fuckstick.

Do go and read the rest of the diatribe...

P.S. According the that article, Denis Skinner told the Telegraph that he had "the lowest expenses in the House..." This is, of course, a lie. In 2007/08, Skinner's expenses were £66,933 (643rd out of 646). So, one of the lowest but not the lowest.

Morally bankrupt...

This is a wonderful piece of writing from Charlotte Gore, discussing Sunny Hundal's perceived wish for Liberal Conspiracy to be the UK's answer to the DailyKos. [Emphasis mine.]
Liberal Conspiracy, on the other hand, rarely has anything new to say or anything interesting to bring to political debate. It’s the same old, “The state should do this!!!” concept repeated ad-infinitum, convinced the failure of the left is due to the specific implementations or the personalities of their leaders.

Wrong. All that fretting and worrying about policy is such a complete waste of time. I’ve heard it over and over on Labour Home, I’ve heard it over and over on Labour List and it’s been done to death on Liberal Conspiracy. All of them looking for the new idea, the new brilliant policy that’s going to somehow going to reinvent the left, bringing together the benefits of redistribution and a monolithic public sector without economic stagnation, unemployment, crushing of innovation, a welfare subculture, Government enabled Monopoly corporations and all this without the authoritarianism and ‘unfortunate’ need to take as much wealth as possible from as many sources as possible to pay for all these adventures and ideas.

In short, there’s no way to ‘reinvent’ this crap. It’s a flawed, morally bankrupt premise that depends on people being willing to allow the state to decide who wins and who loses—shafting one group in order to boost another. It amazes me that people still believe it’s possible to make this hideous faith system work in the real world without experiencing exactly the same outcomes over and over again.

Absolutely right. Although how Charlotte squares the rather excellent views displayed here with being a LibDem is a question for another time...

Whither the big parties?

Via Letters From A Tory, I see that Raedwald has been speculating that the reforms engendered by the expenses scandals might lead to a serious restructuring of party politics.
Attention will now start to shift to the state of the parties. With an electorate in the UK of 45m, the combined membership of the three main parties barely exceeds 450,000, or 1% of the electorate.

So what will become of the big, central, Statist parties with their hunger for vast sums of cash?

Well, I think that I can guess. Despite Raedwald's contention that "the public mood has now turned unequivocally away from any suggestion of State funding", I am afraid that these thieving cunts still haven't realised this. Or, possibly they have realised it, and they just don't give a shit.

Because here is an article by James Purnell at CiF: can you guess what he says?
Amid the current anger at politicians and politics we must bite the bullet of state funding for political parties...

You know what, James, you thieving bastard? You go fuck yourself, why don't you? Go fuck yourself with a big, splintery stick wrapped in barbed wire, salt and lemon juice. Go on: fuck off and get fucked.

Or, as Longrider so eloquently puts it...
No, no, no! A thousand times, NO!

If a party cannot secure funding from people who want to support it because they believe in its values, then it fails, pure and simple. I do not support the core values of the three main parties, I therefore do not want a penny of my money used to fund their election campaigns. Parties survive or die because of their grass roots support. If they alienate that support, then they must pay the price. I used to be a Labour party member and happily paid my membership fees. When I realised that the Labour party did not share my standards of ethical behaviour, I withdrew that support. I’ll be damned if they should take it back by force, which is what Purnell is proposing. This is highly unethical.

Unethical? Sounds like standard Labour policy to me...

That's precisely the fucking point!

Whilst revelling in the severe discomfort of individual MPs' when their frauds are exposed, your humble Devil has consistently tried to point out that the expenses scandal—given relatively small sums of money involved—is less important than the exposure of a number of general, egregious principles.

Most important of these is the fact that our bastard fucking lawmakers specifically exempt themselves from the laws which they make for us. This is abso-fucking-lutely unacceptable.

Which brings me to Douglas Carswell's Thought for the Day...
A constituent emails me to ask "If MPs are now made to pay taxes on their income and assets like the rest of us, does this mean we might see more MPs demanding lower taxes?"

That, of course, is precisely the fucking point.

After all, our MPs are paid by the state, and the state then goes through the expense of recouping tax from them: on the face of it, this seems a bit of a waste of money.

But it is not.

Because, if MPs can see how much they lose through tax, then they have some idea of how their stupid fucking policies affect ordinary voters. That is why, for instance, it is so fucking disgusting that they should exempt themselves from the databases that they are attempting to force on the rest of us, or that they ensure that they needn't pay tax on benefits in kind.

These cunts pass laws which allows the full, coercive force of the state to be brought to bear upon us if we break them: it is thus absolutely vital that these fuckers be bound by the same laws. Instead, these bastards simply exempt themselves if they don't like the law.

Their reaction is not "I can see that this is a bad law because it is adversely affecting my life; it might be affecting my constituents the same way, so maybe we should change the law". Oh no.

Their reaction is simply to change the law so that only they themselves do not have to live by it. It's the old patrician attitude of "I'm alright, Jack, but it's tough tits for you, you fucking prole scum bastard."

That is the way in which the vast majority of our MPs view us: a prole scum bastards, fit only to be milked so that MPs might have enough money to rest their well-padded arseholes on well-padded seats.

Your humble Devil has long pointed out that MPs use our money to insulate themselves from the effects of their laws, and it is not always as blatant as the exemption from tax on benefits in kind. Oh no: sometimes it is subtler then that.

After all, if these cunts put a massive tax rise on booze*, do you seriously think that the price of a pint in the House of Commons bars will go up?

Will it fuck.

No: the only thing that will go up is the fucking subsidies—which was £5.5 million last year: 15% higher than the year before. It must be nice to use other people's money—money that you have stolen from them under the threat of force (that only you can wield)—in order to insulate yourself from the consequences of your own laws, eh?

Fucking hellski, what a bunch of fucking cunts they are...

* If you think that the Tories are going to stop this trend of taxing our pleasures to fuck, perhaps you should remember James Brokenshire, Tory MP.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Daily Referendum's righty piss-up

The Daily Referendum has organised a righty blogger piss-up this afternoon. Your humble Devil is going to wander along and expects to get a bit pissed.

There may be more posts—of a drunken nature—later on. Or not.

UPDATE: thanks to Steve (pictures on that link) for organising this. There were some good people there yesterday, most of whom I had not met before. The Dude was on fine form (and we rehearsed a number of our well-worn arguments), as was Croydonian (always good value). It was great to meet Daniel, Mark (who I appear to have converted to our cause), John Ward, Simon, A Man in a Shed, Mostly Safe, the Boiling Frog, Tory Poppins, and... er... some others.

No offence intended if I haven't listed you: I have a very poor memory for names and, frankly, with every pint disappearing as though it were a thimbleful, your humble Devil ended up being a bit pissed.

Anyway, it was all good fun and I shall most definitely go to the next one—which will probably be in September or so. But I may not bring Mater Devil this time...

Remember this?

Your humble Devil apologises for the slow posting—call it a combination of extreme busyness and blogging fatigue (I want a general election if only because there are so few ways left to insult the bloody incumbents).

Anyway, last weekend I was in Oxford for various reasons—most of which turned out to be drinking, as it happens. Now, long-term readers may remember the moderately successful yet jokey campaign that a few of us evil bloggertarians started—after he had slapped yet more tax onto booze—to get Alistair Darling banned from pubs: your humble Devil even wrote a short little fantasy about it.

Like everyone else, I suspect, I had pretty much forgotten about it; in any case, I had never actually seen, with my own eyes, one of my posters in a pub (although people sent many photos).

So, imagine my delight when I wandered into the King's Arms in Oxford last Saturday to find not only that they had one of these posters prominently displayed, but that they had also had it properly framed. Naturally, I had to get one of the staff to pose with it...

Alistair Darling banned in the King's Arms
According to this young man, the poster amused the punters no end...

UPDATE: via the Facebook Group (3,861 members), I see, somewhat belatedly, that Punch Taverns got behind the campaign...

Friday, May 29, 2009

MPs' Expenses: A Witch Hunt?

NB: I am not the Devil's Kitchen

I caught Newsnight* (ironically enough this morning) and was staggered by the reporting. Now, it seems, we are supposed to feel some sympathy for the poor MPs losing their livelihoods and lively expense accounts. Apparently some of those who are stepping down felt intolerable pressure. Awww, diddums. I'm guessing all rumbled fraudulent fucks and benefit cheats feel some sort of pressure when their ugly little schemes are made public. I feel about as much sympathy for them as I do for these sodding MPs who are being forced out. The word witch hunt is used a lot. Well, big fat hairy bollocks to that. Take the Salem witch hunts—those accused in that were innocent. You can tell because witches don't actually exist. Those accused in this sorry farago of a scandal are guilty of exploiting the taxpayer. It isn't a witch hunt; it is dragging the guilty into the public eye.

The only charge that Newsnight really made stick was that it wasn't fair that some, mainly unknown backbench MPs, were being forced from power whilst the likes of Burnham, Blears and Darling can still gorge their rampant egos and hungry bank accounts in the corridors of power. Which is true. Don't get me wrong, I think those that have said they are going to go at the next election should go. But there are worse offenders out there, and they seem to be sitting pretty.

So I'm going to make a suggestion in the interests of "fairness". Rather than scapegoating minor MPs for the sins of most MPs, how about putting all MPs in the firing line? How about making it so all MPs could lose their cushy little jobs and their cushy little lifestyles? And how about making it so the party leaders and the press aren't the ones deciding which MPs should be turfed? Newsnight talks a lot about mob justice, but the mob—or electorate, if you will, the very people these out and out cunts should be serving—hasn't had their say. Give us a General Election, and then the mob, the electorate, the fucking people will actually be able to have their say on this scandal.

Turns out an immediate General Election is actually the only way to be fair to our MPs. Who'd have thought it?

* At around 13.54, Kelvin McKenzie mentioned MP Stephen Hammond and his little expenses escapade. It isn't one of the worst ones, but it is one that got me incensed. Mainly because, in my wayward and misspent Tory youth, I campaigned for Hammond. He was going up against a dubious Nu Labour type, and was painting himself as the honourable alternative. That didn't last long, did it? Hammond—a wealthy man—has rushed straight to the taxpayer for a quick handout. His hypocrisy, sadly, is typical of that party—and of our ruling class. *CORRECTION* as a comment points out, they actually refer to Philip Hammond MP, not Stephen. My bad, my apologies. Need to have my ears syringed.

Cross-posted at The Appalling Strangeness.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guess the policy

Your humble Devil would like to do a proper deconstruction of David Cameron's series of articles in The Grauniad yesterday but I do not, at present, have enough time. However, in general, I rather approve of what the man has said.

After all, as both Hannan and Carswell have pointed out, his proposals might have come directly from The Plan—a book that I wholeheartedly endorse as being practical, informative and a very good start towards a libertarian state.

Indeed, if Cameron promised specifically, and unequivocably, to adopt The Plan in his first year of government, I would vote Conservative (barring the presence of an LPUK candidate).

There are, however, some problems. Like Wat Tyler, I notice that there is no mention of the crucial relinquishing of fiscal control.
Well, it seems there are a couple of details still to sort out.

Like, how specifically is Mr C going to downsize government? He mentions some of things we've praised before, like school vouchers and elected sheriffs, and that's good. But he says nothing about some of the even thornier issues that would make a real difference in weakening the grip of the state.

For example, there's nothing on fiscal decentralisation - ie re-energising local government by making councils responsible for raising the bulk of their own money themselves, through local taxes on local electors.

And there's nothing about breaking up the massive top-down quangocracy that is the NHS. Where's that bold initiative on social health insurance, the system that removes funding power from the hands of ministers?

In fact, come to think of it, he says pretty well nothing about the driving principle of all modern power relationships, which as BOM readers will know, is follow the money. Reform without sorting the money is no reform at all.

Quite. If local governments have no fiscal control, then there seems little point in devolving power to them.

Plus, it must be pointed out that—admirable as Dave's position is—there is a bit, fat problem. Because this particular problem makes the vast majority of our laws: it is, in fact, the greatest power in this land. And its name is "the European Union".

And, unfortunately, Dave's position on that is rather far from clear, as this video shows (a tip of the horns to Trixy). Watch Dave try to wriggle as Andrew Marr points out the flaw in Dave's Lisbon Treaty promise...

Dave may not "let things rest" if it gets to that point whereat the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by all countries, but there really is not much that he can do—unless withdrawal is on the cards. If that's the case, then great.

But one suspects that Dave has absolutely no intention of withdrawing or, indeed, of changing our relationship with the EU by one iota. (And don't forget that the Lisbon Treaty has already been ratified by our Parliament.)

Which means, I'm afraid, that all of his exciting proposals are just so much hokum or, as EUReferendum puts it, just Elastoplast over the fundamental wounds to our Parliament.
We ourselves take the view that, in response to Mr Cameron's soaring rhetoric, people are entitled to be suspicious and, after ten years of Blair, even cynical. Any politician needs to recognise that, and should not be surprised if their rhetoric is treated with a certain amount of reserve.

Not least, when Mr Cameron tells us: "I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power ... from the EU to Britain ...", we need to be conscious of the fact that, in order to deliver on this – should it ever become a firm commitment rather than rhetoric – the government would have to abrogate the EU treaties and, effectively, leave the EU.

This would be a highly desirable outcome and it may be what Mr Cameron has in mind. The problem one has with this, however, it that nothing he has said previously has ever suggested that this is his aim, or that he has any intention seriously to engage with the EU with a view to securing a "massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power." In the context, we would assert that suspicion is an entirely sensible response.

Quite so; and it appears, from PoliticsHome's latest poll, that the cynicism is not confined to we EUnihilists...
From a nationwide poll of 1,178 adults on whether a Cameron as prime minister would be as radical as he is promising on devolution of power, it finds that an overwhelming majority of the public are sceptical, predicting that he would be more cautious in office. In figures, a full 70 percent think Cameron would be more cautious and only 23 percent think he would deliver.

Cameron needs to convince people of his resolve and sincerity—something that is bound to be somewhat tricky in the current climate. And this humble Devil has yet to be convinced of either.

I'd love to be pleasantly surprised but, for the moment, we libertarians and EUnihilists should keep up the pressure on Cameron, to convince him that there really is support for both EU withdrawal and a smaller, more libertarian state.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yet more evidence...

..., as if we needed it, that the ruling elite hold all of us in contempt.
Eighteen "phantom" MEPs will be elected on full pay and perks next month despite not being able to start work for up to two years due to Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

The extra candidates will be chosen in the European Union elections on June 4 despite the agreement, which increases the number of MEPs from 736 to 754, remaining unsigned.

Amid confusion over when and how they will take up their seats, the European Parliament has decided to give the MEPs only "observer" status from next year.

The deal will mean they can draw full salaries and allowances at an annual cost of over £6 million without any legislative duties to carry out.

The 18 MEPs, from 12 EU countries, including Britain's West Midlands region, will be paid more than £76,000 a year, with staff and office allowances worth £210,000.

They will also be entitled to tax-free allowances of £255 for every day of their limbo existence in Brussels and can claim back business class travel.

Fucking hellski. I mean, it's bad enough that they are getting all of the salaries, perks and expenses—and, of course, the EU wouldn't let us see the report on the MEPs' excesses, remember—but there is a far more sinister aspect of this too, as Trixy points out. [Emphasis mine.]
Let's just set aside, for the moment, the fact that we will be having an additional 18 MEPs elected who won't be doing any fucking work but will be living off the tax payer: they are so determined and confident that they can get this treaty through that they're even altering the legal system to accommodate it.

So, despite the fact that the Lisbon Treaty (or EU Constitution, whatever you want to call it) was voted down by the people of Ireland, France and the Netherlands, the powers that be in the EU are starting to enact it into law anyway.

As a matter of fact, vast swathes of the Treaty have already been enacted and many of the bodies supposedly formed by the Treaty's adoption have been up and running for a number of years.

Their contempt for us—the peoples of Europe—is total: these fuckers have a plan and they are going to enact it whether we, the people, like it or not.

It is events like this that act as salient reminders that the reform of Westminster is a moot point: since our MPs do not control the majority of legislation that passes through the House, it little matters how they act.

And since not one of the three main parties is planning to remove us from this insanity, there seems to be nothing that we can do to stop the irresistible rise of this illiberal, totalitarian, supranational European Union.

MPs and their hangers-on have recently been whining about how our lords and masters no longer have any power; as I pointed out a couple of days ago, that is no one's fault but their own.
But, as many people have concluded, the expenses row and, especially, the resignation of Michael Martin, are simply sideshows: the real issue is the powerlessness of Parliament. Some MPs and their accolytes are now using this as an excuse: it is not.

After all, who was it who ceded the power to the EU in the first place? The politicians.

Who is it that has failed to hold the Executive to account or to curb its power? The politicians.

Oh, but that's not fair, is it? Many of these politicians were not in Parliament when these changes were enacted. No, that's true: they were not.

But they still have the power to change things. If they want their power back from the EU, for instance, they need only repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (time is running out on this though: once the Lisbon Treaty is signed, this relatively simple option will no longer exist). Sure, there would be a lot of law to unpick afterwards, and a lot of negotiating to do with the rest of the EU countries—but isn't that kind of thing precisely what we pay the fuckers to do?

But not one of these bastards has proposed that.

In fact, have you seen one single proposal from any of these cunts that would return power to Westminster? No, nor have I.

As long as the MPs were able to fill their capacious fucking boots, they were happy to turn a blind eye to the destruction of Parliament's power and the growth of unaccountable bodies. In fact, it made life far, far easier for them: they had all of the perks, but none of the responsibilities (whilst simultaneously deeming it suitable to chastise us for following their lead).

We are all fucked, and the MPs have brought us to this place of fuckage. And, as EUReferendum continues to point out, these bastards continue to wank on about "big changes" being needed when, in fact, they are actually proposing the least change that they think they can get away with.

These cunts continue to play us for fools—and it looks like they'll get away with it.

The war on drinkers continues

Thanks to Trixy, who pointed me in the direction of this piece of illiberal bollocks from Oldham Council.
Drinkers in Oldham will have to queue at bars and buy no more than two beers at a time in an attempt to curb violence and binge-drinking.

Customers will be encouraged to stand behind rope barriers similar to those used in banks and post offices as they wait to be served, while drinking in the queue will also be discouraged, under new proposals.

What the fuck? Seriously, where do these people get off?
Derek Heffernan, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: "There would have to be some form of barrier so people couldn't push past, either a rope or perhaps something stronger.

"It would be the end of buying a round but we have to do something to calm things down."

Well, fuck me, Councillor, why don't you just put fucking Valium in the water, eh? It would be just as illiberal.

But how on earth could these conditions just be put in place? [Emphasis mine.]
The new rules have been put in place by Oldham Council in all 22 pubs in the town centre. The 2003 Licensing Act allows police and trading standards to apply for variations in a pub licence if these is concern about alcohol-related violence.

Oh, this old chestnut, eh? Why am I not surprised?

Oh yes, it's because I wrote a longish piece a while back, in which I pointed out that this is how NuLabour have gone about making laws these days.
This is NuLabour's standard tactic—learned, no doubt, from the evil fuckers in the EU who are adept at this sort of thing—of proposing something ridiculous and then pretending to drop it.

What they then do is to pass a law that allows them to go far, far further because, unlike the previous incarnation, this new clause doesn't define what the law actually is.

Each one of these clauses is, in effect, an Enabling Act in that it enables any designated minister to change the law without having to argue the case through Parliament—and thus ensuring that has no right to vote on it.

Often, the media miss it entirely: after all, legalese seems to be designed to bore the living shit out of anyone brave enough to try to trawl through it, c.f. the EU Constitution. Further, one is generally looking for a particularly illiberal measure made explicit within the law itself, not an all-encompassing clause that allows a minister to decide that the law is whatever they say it is at any given time.

A couple of years ago, bloggers scored a hit when they introduced the MSM to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, known colloquially as "the Abolition of Parliament Bill". This would have allowed the government to change any piece of legislation via ministerial fiat—in other words, without having to go through Parliament. After a concerted protest from both the MSM and the blogosphere, the Bill was watered down into a slightly less terrifying form.

But the fact is—and this is another tactic that the government have learned from the EU bureaucrats—that so many Bills similar to the one described above have now passed into law that the Abolition of Parliament Bill might as well have been passed as originally mooted anyway.

This is the really terrifying thing about NuLabour: they have pushed though thousands—tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands—of new laws, many of which contain these mini-Enabling Acts. And the Civil Contingencies Act is only the most egregious of these; there are others which allow ministers to remove our liberties on a whim.

Sure, they are far smaller matters, but taken together they all add up to an Executive wielding power with no brakes upon it: statutory instruments are bad enough and would, were your humble Devil in charge, be rendered illegal—these Enabling Clauses are, quite simply, the fence-posts for a totalitarian regime.

Sure, this law is able to be changed by people other than ministers, but that is not without precedent either.

There are times when your humble Devil hates the fact that he is utterly correct so very often...

I'm not Spartacus

After the alleged Telegraph take-down of her blog, a number of people are doing the "I'm Spartacus" bit in solidarity with Nadine Dorries.

Your humble Devil is afraid that he isn't particularly sympathetic. Mad Nad is pretty much the personification of the stereotypical blogger: self-serving and self-obsessed, stupid, pointless, vacuous and prone to throwing out wild—and demonstrably false—allegations that would already have landed most people put in court.

Her behaviour throughout the last few months has been, frankly, pathetic and concisely documented by Bookdrunk, as he points out that Nadine Dorries might like to admit the fact that she has happily smeared people, that she also seems to have been economical with the truth (whilst believing that she has cleared herself), that she seems to spend little time in the country, that she has failed to answer pertinent questions, that Dorries is a massive fan of hyperbole, and that maybe she should have seen what was coming and that she seems to have no sense of proportion and that even ConservativeHome readers appear to have realised that she is a mendacious little shit. True, Bookdrunk also expresses disquiet about the take-down of her blog but, given how quick Nadine was to wheel out the lawyers over Smeargate, perhaps the poor dear might have taken a crash course in defamation?

As many have noticed, Mad Nad really is the gift that keeps on giving. Which is why Bloggerheads is able to publish a long article detailing why Nadine has broken the ACA rules. Oh, and again. Oh, and maybe Nadine should update her Register of Members' Interests entry: surely it must be kept up to date under "the system"?

Tim also asserts that Nadine Dorries is "no blogger, and no blogging hero" and I am inclined to agree.

I have written this post to show solidarity with those who believe that the libel laws in this country are a fucking joke, and that they should be reformed as soon as possible. I have written this post in order to point out that I do not agree with those who pull down blogs at the slightest provocation.

I have not written this post in order to show solidarity with Nadine Dorries. Not only is she a vacuous moron, but she brings the whole blogosphere into disrepute; and not even because of what she says—there are plenty of bloggers with whom I disagree (including Bloggerheads and Bookdrunk, much of the time).

However, there is a code of blogging—netiquette, if you like. These rules include technical aspects such as having proper permalinks, but they also include taking comments and replying to them. They also include linking to your sources when you make allegations or cite data.

So, I stand here to defend blogging, but I couldn't give two shits about Nadine Dorries or her fucking "blog". She's a fucking disgrace, frankly.

Living above the law

The MPs' expenses scandal rumbles on: just as you think that there is no more to be revealed, yet more filthy troughing is exposed.

The thing that really pisses off your humble Devil, however, is the systematic hypocrisies indulged in by our disgusting rulers—the exemption from tax on benefits in kind, for instance.

Thus, it is the news that MPs have been putting accountants on expenses that really fucks me off this morning.
The Chancellor was among nine members of the Cabinet who used publicly funded expenses to pay for an accountant to complete their personal tax returns, The Telegraph can disclose.

Alistair Darling, along with others including Hazel Blears, Geoff Hoon and Jacqui Smith, have all claimed for the costs of accountancy advice using expenses intended to fund their parliamentary and constituency offices.

A tax expert described the claims as “scandalous”, especially as the expenses are tax-free.

Under HM Revenue and Customs rules, most people are not allowed to claim the cost of employing an accountant to fill in a self-assessment tax form as a legitimate business expense.

This is pretty fucking awful: once again, MPs are exempting themselves from the laws that govern us. Or, as the Daily Mash puts it...
Chancellor Alistair Darling, Borrower Hazel Blears, pornography enthusiast Jacqui Smith and six other non-entities insisted they had acted within the rules that allow them to dodge the tax system they gleefully impose on you under threat of imprisonment.

But it is related aspect that really grips my shit...

Your humble Devil has, for some years, campaigned for simpler taxation, for a couple of reasons.
  • The first reason is that it would make it considerably easier for people to do their own tax returns, making it far cheaper for freelancers and businesses to operate.

  • The second is that people would be able to have far greater visibility of the tax burden that they carry; this would, I would hope, help people to understand just what the costs of our state are.

  • The third reason is that if you want to stop people evading tax, then you need a simpler system. The more complicated you make the system, the more loop-holes will be found.

    I like to think of it as knitting a blanket, with the wool being the laws, and the gaps inbetween the stitches being the massive fucking loopholes. The more stitches there are, the more loopholes you introduce.

Ultimately, the tax system has become rather like the MP expenses system: it is constructed as it is simply to deceive the people of this country. As Timmy points out, riffing off Nadine Dorries's ridiculous "McCarthy" assertions, the ACA was put in to give MPs a hidden salary rise.
Yes, the ACA has grown because no one was willing for MPs to have the pay rises the salary review boards suggested over the years. It was felt that MPs should not get whacking great pay rises, for the public would not wear it. Thus have expenses instead which the public won’t know about and thus won’t complain about.

She’s absolutely correct, this is indeed what has been going on.

However, the truth ain’t all that great an excuse.

For the logic of it is is that, umm "You wouldn’t give us more money so we took it without you knowing".

In other words the Nadine Dorries defence is "It’s OK because we were lying to you".

The tax system's complexity has a similar motivation at the heart of it—to attempt to conceal from the people of Britain the sheer scale of the tax that they pay.

However, the system has also been designed to allow the richest in society to take advantage of loopholes and pay less tax than they might—in this way, Labour convinced the rich to continue to donate to the party.

So, NuLabour have happily continued previous governments' policy of ensuring that the heaviest tax burden falls on the poor, rather than the rich. Because the poor sure as hell can't afford to pay millions of pounds towards Labour's lying billboard adverts.

If anyone thinks that Labour Party is a friend of the poor, then they are a fucking idiot.

Now we need to see where the rest of our money goes

Matthew Elliot of the Taxpayers' Alliance has an article in The Times today, and gives a mention to [Emphasis mine.]
We heard a lot of warm words about reform last week, but the real change that needs to come from this episode is the expansion and strengthening of the act. The legislation is still not fulfilling its potential. There are too many people and organisations, dependent on taxpayers’ money, which are not subject to freedom of information (FoI) law. There are also too many ways for organisations to avoid answering requests that might reveal embarrassing information.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance is committed to ensuring taxpayers get value for money, and we were curious about how much the Carbon Trust spent on a huge advert at Bank Underground station in London. Unfortunately, while the Carbon Trust is almost entirely funded by the taxpayer – to the tune of nearly £100m – its nominal status as an independent company means it isn’t subject to the act.

Similarly, an excellent website – – has revealed that a number of campaigning charities are now underwritten by the taxpayer. Alcohol Concern, for example, gets 57% of its funding from the Department of Health, yet FoI requests can’t be used to discover how it spends our money.

And so now we know what MPs have been doing with our money as far as their personal spending habits are concerned—they have been shamelessly lining their pockets and generally behaving as though every single pound does not represent some unit of a productive person's labour.

Given that these fucks seem to have so little respect for the fruits of our toil as regards their personal spending habits, it seems equally likely that this lax attitude is replicated across government.

We must now press for the total exposure of the entire government accounts: we need to find out who they are throwing our money at, and what those organisations are using our money for.

In many cases, the information is available but it is not conveniently accessible. After all, all charity accounts in England and Wales are online at the Charity Commission website; the trouble is that most people do not have the time or inclination to go trawling through thousands of multi-page PDFs—at heart, this is why exists.

Myself and my colleagues trawl through the accounts of these organisations so that you can search the database and find out which organisations are spending your money.

And make no mistake—as we have seen from charity-industry bloggers like Rob Permeable—these fake charities have pretty much the same attitude to our money as our MPs do: that they are totally entitled to steal the fruit of our labour and do what the fuck they like with it. Make no mistake, these "charities" have precisely the same sense of arrogant entitlement that our MPs do.

In a small way, aims to make it easier for you to find out where your money goes, and thus why your pay-cheque is so much smaller than it could be—or should be.

I know that the TPA are looking into the same area and I am sure that, with their greater resources, they will be able to make an even more comprehensive study of the murky world of charity financing.

In the meantime, thank you to those of you who have donated to my colleagues and will continue the work of trawling the accounts, and your donations help pay for servers and—dare I say it?—a beer or two. After all, it's tedious and thirsty work, so thank you...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Breathtaking arrogance

Generally speaking, even your humble Devil thinks that the MPs' expenses scandal has run its course; we have got the message—these bastards have been shamelessly and systematically ripping us off for years.

Most of those caught have at least made the effort to pretend to be sorry, but an admission of contrition was not for Anthony Steen, Tory MP.
Conservative MP Anthony Steen, who has announced he will not be standing at the next election, has said that his critics are "jealous" because he has a "very, very large house".

The long-standing MP for Totnes, in Devon, was alleged by the Daily Telegraph to have claimed more than £87,000 over four years for his country home.

Yes, yes, yet another little piggy cunt who decided that he was going to live a life of luxury at our expense, so what?

Well, I think that Anthony Steen—who is also a Member of the European Scrutiny Committee and a Member of the Regulatory Reform Committee—is a disgusting piece of shit who just doesn't get it.
"We have a wretched Government here which has completely mucked up the system and caused the resignation of me and many others, because it was this Government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act and it is this Government that insisted on the things which caught me on the wrong foot.

What the fuck? Oh yes, that's right, Tony-baby: it is the Freedom of Information Act that is the problem here and not the fact that you are a filthy, thieving bastard who has been quite happily funding your lavish lifestyle using money that you should not have taken.
"What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None."

You fucking little cunt! As long as we pay your cunting expenses, then we have a right to scrutinise every, single penny. If you do not want the public knowing about your private life, then I sincerely suggest that you stop funding it with expenses.

As I said: breathtaking fucking arrogance.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bread and circuses

His Grace the Archbishop Cramner has proposed that there is one name missing from the current list of replacements for the Speaker.
It is only because of his dogged determination, his noble tenacity, his self-sacrificial campaign for accountability and his desire to restore honour and integrity to Parliament that we have witnessed the ejection of only the second Speaker of the House of Commons in Parliament’s long history. Any who reflect upon the first occasion in 1695 will hear the name of Speaker Trevor, but those who exposed and deposed him are long-forgotten; shrouded in the remoteness of yesteryear. But Douglas Carswell will long be remembered as a true Whig who sought to restore the sovereignty of Parliament; a noble Roundhead who confronted the courtly fashions of a cavalier rump of self-serving politicians; and a radical reformer with the virtue and zeal of Josiah.

So Cranmer wonders why no-one has thought of Speaker Carswell. He is a manifest moderniser and a man of action, scrupulous in his expenses, untainted by scandal, untarnished by excess, liberated from partisan squabbles, unblemished in record, distinguished in service, and is a man of unimpeachable integrity, honesty and conviction.

It is true that Douglas is a libertarian and a thoroughly good chap, and has always found time to converse with your humble Devil—a trait that appeals to my vanity, netch'relly.

I, too, have pondered upon the name of Carswell for Speaker.

However, I discarded him. Not because I do not think that he would be a good choice, but because I think that his zeal would be wasted in what is, effectively, a neutral position.

Further, I may have read him wrong (and I am sure that he will correct me if I speak out of turn), but I suspect that Douglas would not want to take up the position. His loathing for Westminster is well-documented (not least by himself) and I don't think that the long slog required to make something of the position would necessarily appeal.

But the main reason that he would decline it, I believe, is because Carswell is not that interested in cleaning up the expenses scandal. Yes, it is an aspect that he has a great interest in, but it is the Direct Democracy agenda that is his real passion.

As Speaker, he would be unable overtly to push this agenda, whether independently or as part of the Conservative Party. This would be a great shame, not only for Douglas, but for the rest of us too.

There have been mutterings around the web about the right of constituents to recall MPs and to force them to hold a by-election—and this is just part of the wider agenda that Douglas has been pushing (and something that he could not do as Speaker).

On a wider note, the right of recall would be a far better idea than Brown's idiotic and mendacious plan to hand over control of the Commons to an unelected QUANGO—something that Dan Hannan is incensed about.
Listen to the way the various malefactors have sought to justify themselves over the past 12 days. One phrase keeps cropping up again and again: "I have acted at all times within the rules". It was precisely this attitude that caused the present crisis. The external regulation of Parliament - a process that began with the Nolan Report in the 1990s - has replaced a culture of conscience with a culture of compliance. Instead of asking "Is this the right thing to do?" MPs have been asking "Is this within the letter of the guidelines?" More external regulators will exacerbate that problem.

So what the devil is Gordon Brown playing at? The obvious answer is that he's hoping, in his lumbering way, to catch the anti-politician mood. But there's more to it than this. It suits him - suits the Executive, suits Brussels, suits the human rights courts - to diminish the independence of the House of Commons.

I completely agree—especially since the plan, as I railed about the other day, is to hand this function over to a private company which would not be subject to FoI requests. The last thing that we need is yet another unelected and unaccountable QUANGO deciding the fate of taxpayers' cash—and it is inconceivable that someone who set up could possibly be accused of supporting such a measure.

EUReferendum has also been banging this drum for a while, pointing out that the MPs' expenses exposée has damaged Parliament—and that is not a good thing.
Never more has it been more important to focus on the essential point that the "expenses" controversy is a symptom not the cause of the problem. At the heart of this stinking affair is the erosion of democracy and the very great danger is that – as Hannan points out – that the "cure" will make the disease worse.

Here, it is alarming to see the main opposition leaders rush in to endorse Brown's proposals "in principle", demonstrating that neither are true democrats. Rather, they are statists to the core. They exhibit the typical malaise of our ruling classes, seeing the answers to all problems as more and tighter regulation. In this, they share the mindset of the European Union and it is therefore no surprise that both so fully endorse the "project".

Of course they are statists—almost all of them are. Why the surpise?

The fact is that the expenses row was a long time coming and merely confirmed what people had long suspected: that our politicians were corrupt and out to feather their own nests.

Hannan has argued that, being so powerless, what else should they do?
Let me put the question again: who would want to become an MP these days? Why take on a job where you are both despised and impotent - or, rather, despised because you are impotent?

Well, cry me a fucking river, Dan. Who would want to be an MP? Well, why don't you ask the thousands of people desperately attempting to get onto the party lists, Dan? Why don't you ask those hundreds of people gearing up to stand at the next General Election?
Politicians are resented because they appear parasitical, unable to champion their constituents' interests.

Politicians are parasitical. It could be argued that, once upon a time, they were more like symbiotes—like the mitochondria that power our cells—but that is certainly no longer the case.

Incidentally, when Dan emailed me today, I objected to his stance that "we" get the politicians that we deserve. He replied...
As the greatest of all human beings observed: “Treat every man after his desert and who should ’scape whipping?”

It seemed only fair to reply with another Hamlet quote...
"This above all—to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

It is here that Dan's argument—that if one assumes all politicians are crooked, it is only natural that they should think "may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb"—falls down. If a politician is truly honest, he will take the criticism and he will remain true to himself: he will not start cheating simply because people call him a cheat. Unless, of course, he is, at heart, a cheat looking for a justification for cheating.

It is, Dan, a fundamental tenet of libertarianism that one does what one knows to be right, no matter what the provocation—as I pointed out a few days ago.
Libertarians believe that each individual is responsible for their own decisions: if you do not believe that, then you are not a libertarian. As such, given a temptation, a libertarian has two choices: give into that temptation or do the right thing.

Whichever you choose, it is your decision, and you must accept the consequences.

I don't give two shits if someone is calling you nasty names: if you give in to temptation and you cheat and you lie and you steal, then you must still accept the consequences—because it was still your decision to do so. You could have chosen the morally correct path and, even in the face of provocation, chosen to remain honest.

For fuck's sake, how many fucking times have I seen libertarians point out that—even if someone grows up in the most shitty conditions of poverty and violence—it does not excuse their turning to crime, or even just sitting on their arse doing nothing?

How many times have I seen even the less militant point out that a crappy childhood might explain someone's foetid lifestyle, but it does not excuse it?

We are human beings and the ability to think—and to make rational and moral judgements and to order our lives accordingly—is what sets us apart from the animals. The belief that every human has this capacity, no matter what their upbringing, is a fundamental libertarian precept.

And if we expect the poor and underpriviledged to exercise moral judgement, then we most certainly should expect it of those who are rich (by the ordinary working man's standard) and who consider themselves fit to dictate what that same ordinary man's morality should be.

But, as many people have concluded, the expenses row and, especially, the resignation of Michael Martin, are simply sideshows: the real issue is the powerlessness of Parliament. Some MPs and their accolytes are now using this as an excuse: it is not.

After all, who was it who ceded the power to the EU in the first place? The politicians.

Who is it that has failed to hold the Executive to account or to curb its power? The politicians.

Oh, but that's not fair, is it? Many of these politicians were not in Parliament when these changes were enacted. No, that's true: they were not.

But they still have the power to change things. If they want their power back from the EU, for instance, they need only repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (time is running out on this though: once the Lisbon Treaty is signed, this relatively simple option will no longer exist). Sure, there would be a lot of law to unpick afterwards, and a lot of negotiating to do with the rest of the EU countries—but isn't that kind of thing precisely what we pay the fuckers to do?

But not one of these bastards has proposed that.

In fact, have you seen one single proposal from any of these cunts that would return power to Westminster? No, nor have I.

At every turn, they have attempted to shirk any kind of responsibility.
  • Fraudulent expenses? "Not my fault, guv, it was the system."

  • Need to stop expenses fraud? "Oh, I can't be held responsible. We must set up a QUANGO (at your expense and controlled by me)."

  • MPs powerless? "Oh, not my fault. It was _________________ [insert bogeyman of choice here.]

And so we come to something of a chicken and egg situation: which came first? Did a rotten Parliament breed rotten MPs, or did the rotten MPs rot Parliament?

Well, since Parliament is the MPs—they are the lawmakers—it must be the latter. No, these particular MPs might not have destroyed the power of Parliament, but they have eagerly allowed the rape to continue.

As long as the MPs were able to fill their capacious fucking boots, they were happy to turn a blind eye to the destruction of Parliament's power and the growth of unaccountable bodies. In fact, it made life far, far easier for them: they had all of the perks, but none of the responsibilities (whilst simultaneously deeming it suitable to chastise us for following their lead).

In the meantime, your humble Devil finds himself split: you see, I want a powerless Parliament. I want a legislature that cannot pass knee-jerk and illiberal laws.

First, however, I want a Parliament strong enough to tear down the totalitarian state that has built up over the last century; I want a Parliament strong enough to rip it up and start to build a libertarian society—and that means a Parliament strong enough to dissolve the thousands of laws that have since accrued.

But, whatever the situation, I always want a Parliament strong enough to protect its citizens and, when dealing with foreign nations, always to put the interests of its own citizens first and foremost.

And it is in this regard that our Parliament has so signally failed us. It has utterly failed in its duty and is now so corrupt, powerless and rotten that there is little hope of its rescue. And, unfortunately, that means that we are fucked too.

And so we find ourselves gleefully welcoming scandals, such as those which have arisen over expenses. Inevitably, with nothing concrete to believe in, self-belief lacking, and no authority to fight on our behalf, we demand bread and circuses whilst Rome burns around us.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Not us, that's for sure and, alas, not our Parliament either. And so we sit about—deluding ourselves as to our worth, desperately waving a flag that once symbolised something but is now devoid of meaning—pointlessly singing that old song...
Britons never, never shall be slaves!

Don't be naive: we already are.

UPDATE: as an aside, Douglas Carswell has emailed me and, I hope, will not object to my posting this relevant bit.
You are very kind.

You are also right to say that I'd be the wrong person for the job of Speaker.

It remains my aim to be Britain's last Minister for Europe.

A sensible ambition, I think...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speak your last

So, that fat, corrupt cunt, Michael Martin, has announced that he will quit the office of Speaker on the 21st June.
Michael Martin has told MPs he intends to stand down, so becoming the first Commons Speaker to be effectively forced out of office for 300 years.

In a brief statement to a packed House of Commons he said he would step down on 21 June, with his successor set to be elected by MPs the next day.

Mr Martin, who is also expected to step down as an MP, has faced criticism over his handling of the MP expenses issue.

The Glasgow North East MP has been an MP for 30 years and Speaker for nine.

And after all of that time, the cunt has resigned in disgrace. Good. I hope that he feels that the entirety of his life has been a miserable failure.

Although I suspect that the hundreds of thousands of pounds that he has conned out of the taxpayer will, alas, give him some solace.

Still, one down: six hundred and forty five left to go...

A police state?

Via Towards Mutual Benefit, your humble Devil finds this interesting article at the Centre for a Stateless Society...
A friend and mentor of mine, the late Aaron Russo, used to open some of his talks with a question: How can you know whether or not you live in a police state?

Aaron had a theory on the subject, or rather a method for answering the question:

Imagine yourself, he said, driving down the road. Not fast, not recklessly, just driving down the road as any normal person would drive to get from Point A to Point B.

Now, Russo said, imagine that as you pass an intersection, you look in the rearview mirror and see that a police car has turned onto the street behind you. The police officer isn’t running his siren and passing you on the way to the scene of some crime. He’s just settling in behind you, driving at the same speed as you… tailing you.

Are you comforted by the knowledge that the police are out on patrol, fighting crime? Or do you start to worry—do you get that tight feeling down in your gut, expecting to be pulled over at any moment for some offense that you don’t—probably can’t—know you’ve committed?

The latter reaction, Russo said, is a sign that you’re living in a police state: A society in which you and everyone around you are subject to the arbitrary whims, and expected to obey the every command, of “law enforcement personnel.”

Your humble Devil has often been mocked for his assertion that we are, increasingly, living in a police state, but I think that the above idea is worth thinking about. The root of the problem is "preventative" laws—laws that penalise you because you might do something.

I have said before that I think that all criminal law could actually be distilled into one single law: "It is illegal to initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property."

To take the example of driving a car, if you break the speed limit (or drink and drive), you have not actually harmed another human being—your punishment is based on a law that argues that you might have an increased risk of harming a human being.

(Such laws are not even consistent: driving whilst tired can be just as dangerous as being over the drink-drive limit (which is ridiculously low), for instance, as the BBC have recently highlighted—and yet there is no law against that.)

Laws that criminalise people for what they might do are incredibly dangerous, not only because they put one's behaviour at the whim of law enforcement officers (not everyone is who speeds is caught, for instance) but also because it is difficult to justify ever stopping at any point.

Should we, for instance, criminalise those who drive whilst tired? If we go to the reductio ad absurdum, will we one day criminalise all men because of the probability that they might rape someone? Or might murder someone?

You can argue that this is a stupid argument (well, I warned you) but can you point to a moral reason why we should not do so? After all, we have no proof that the majority of men do not rape women, do we?

With my simplified law, it is very simple: one can say that the law gets involved at the point at which actual harm has been done* and not before: there is a natural stopping point. When penalising people for what they might do, there is no such point.

It is this attitude that it is right and proper to criminalise people on the basis of probabilities—coupled with the idea of the state as an entity that can be sinned against—that has led to the worst excesses of illiberal legislation over the last few decades or so.

And it is why we are slipping into a police state (assuming that we are not already there, of course—an assumption that your humble Devil is unwilling to make): because once one has passed the natural stopping point—once that taboo has been breached—there is no moral reason why on earth one should stop.

There may, indeed, be practical reasons why one should stop, but our government has seemed willing to test those limits to destruction—especially since much of that practicality is based on our right to live in freedom.

But, because this stopping point has been broached, the laws under which we live are no longer concerned with individual freedom: they are concerned only with probabilities. To take an example, what does it matter that you imprison, for weeks or months without charge, ten, twenty or a hundred individuals as long as you decrease the probability of a large crime?

What does it matter that you criminalise, for speeding, ten, twenty, or a hundred individuals as long as you decrease the probability of another death?

In other words, the absolute right of the individual has been subsumed into the probability rights of society. Someone might be killed if you go faster than such-and-such arbitrary speed and, in the society in which we currently live, this alone is sufficient justification to take away your individual freedom.

As a libertarian, I view this trend for punishing on the basis of probabilities as being completely wrong: by definition, these laws destroy the right of the individual to go about their life unmolested as long as they harm no one else.

As I have said, we do not need the thousands of laws that have been made: all we need is one law—you shall not initiate force or fraud against another person's life, liberty or property.

* We can, of course, argue about definitions of harm, e.g. mental bullying, etc., but it is not really relevant here.

Sexy beast

Our wonderful Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has apparently been watering down some laws. Or, rather, a specific law that was disgustingly wrong in the first place.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been accused of back-tracking on a pledge to criminalise men who pay for sex with women forced into prostitution.

The criticism follows the government's decision to modify new legislation aimed at protecting those who are the victims of pimps and traffickers.

The wording defining which women would be covered by the law has been changed.

Clause 13 of the Policing and Crime Bill was originally drafted to create an offence of the purchase, or attempted purchase, of sexual services from anyone "controlled for gain by a third party".

However, the home secretary now proposes to replace "controlled for gain" with "subjected to force, deception or threats".

Much as I loathe the Home Secretary and would love to take any opportunity to give her a kicking, I don't quite see what the problem is here: as far as I can see, the new wording does, in fact, cover far more women than the previous phrase. After all, if a woman is "controlled" then it will be done through "force, deception or threats", won't it? That covers pretty much every base, I think.

Of course, some people might argue that it won't then cover women who voluntarily use pimps—but then, the law definitely shouldn't be involved in that process. Now, I know that it is inconceivable to the fucking morons who make our shitty laws that someone would voluntarily use a pimp, but there are, in fact, proven economic gains—and therefore an incentive-driven rationale—in doing so (tip of the horns to Timmy).
A pimp isn't, contrary to what many believe, someone who holds a prostitute captive and steals whatever pitiful amount of cash she manages to earn by degrading herself. The relationship between the two is, rather, an economic one and a voluntary one at that. One which, like all voluntary exchanges, benefits both parties to it.

OK, so perhaps you'll not accept that statement from me but what about from Steven Levitt and Sudhir Alladi Venktash, two of the very few economists who have ever actually tried to understand [PDF] the subject?
In Roseland, there are no pimps and women solicit customers from the street. Just a few blocks away in Pullman, all women work with pimps who locate customers and set-up tricks, so that the prostitutes rarely solicit on street corners. Under the pimp model, there are fewer transactions, but the prices charged are substantially higher and the clientele is different. Prostitutes who work with pimps appear to earn more, and are less likely to be arrested. It appears that the pimps choose to pay efficiency wages. Consistent with this hypothesis, many of the women who do not work with pimps are eager to work with pimps, and indeed we observe a few switches in that direction over the course of the sample. Pimps are limited by their ability to find customers, however, so they operate on a small scale.

Higher wages for less work and a reduction in risk. Pimps are therefore beneficial for the prostitutes which is why they choose to work with them.

So I ask again, what's wrong with pimps?

It's not as if politicians don't employ agents to promote their work, is it?

If we are going to try to bring in a law of this type, we want to protect those women who are being forced into prostitiution, do we not? We do not want to criminalise those who are voluntarily working with a pimp, i.e. those who, in the eyes of our fuckwit legal minds, might come under the heading of being "controlled for gain by a third party".

So, believe it or not, Jacqui Smith might actually be doing a good thing here—well, the entire fucking law is deeply flawed and unpleasant but, given that, this is a rather better wording.

Naturally, some vested interests are really not happy.
Women's charity Eaves said the law had been diluted, but the Home Office said it still aimed to deter men.

"We want to send a clear message to force sex buyers to think twice before paying for sex," the Home Office said in a statement.

Why? If two people wish to enter a transaction, voluntarily, then what business is it of the law? Fuck all, I would suggest.

What this law actually does is to put the burden of proof onto the punter to ensure that the prostitute is not trafficked; and I am not sure how a punter is supposed to be able to prove that the woman wasn't trafficked. Or, for that matter, that she was (unless some stereotypical evil bastards are standing over her).

As with so many of NuLabour's many thousands of laws, this one is utterly unnecessary. We already have laws against slavery, and coercion, and imprisonment. Why the fuck do we need this piece-of-shit law? And make no mistake—this is a piece-of-shit law. Why?

The law should be clear and simple. If one cannot know whether or not one is breaking the law, then the law is clearly unjust.

So, if one cannot know, when one hires a prostitute, whether she is "subjected to force, deception or threats", then one cannot know if one is breaking the law—thus the law is clearly unjust. quod erat demonstrandum.

However, as usual, it's worth looking at this charity doing the lobbying—Eaves, which describes itself thusly:

Since they are busy lobbying the government for unjust laws, I am already inclined to tell Eaves to fuck off; now, I just want to know how much of our money they are sucking up. Well, they have a total funding of £5,220,603 and I can't believe that all of that comes from people shaking tins on the street so, as usual, it's time to examine the latest accounts. Shall I provide a summary? Yes, I think I shall.

First, Eaves runs its accounts under several project headings: Supported Housing, Domestic Violence, Lilith Project and POPPY Project. Proper, voluntary income for all of these was a total of £116,321.

Now, the grants—Supported Housing first...

Next up is Domestic Violence...
  • Supporting People Grants—£1,116,826

  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea—£20,000

  • London Councils Children's Project—£45,023

  • London Councils Legal Project—£14,000

  • Sure Start: Westminster—£60,661

  • Westminster City Council—£59,772

  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham—£23,116

  • Total—£1,339,398

And now the Lilith Project...
  • London Councils—£150,000

  • Criminal Justice—£30,104

  • Total—£180,104

And now the POPPY Project...
  • London Councils—£148,200

  • Total—£148,200

So, as a grand total, Eaves and its various projects receive a grand total from the taxpayer of...
  • Grand Total—£3,608,395

  • Out of the total funding of £5,220,603, the taxpayer provides 69.12%.

So, Eaves is most definitely belongs on, since it fulfills all of our criteria.
  1. Does the charity receive more than 10% of its income from the tax-payer AND/OR receive more than £1,000,000 a year from the tax-payer?

  2. Is the charity engaged in lobbying the government and/or influencing government policy?

If the answer to both of these questions is 'yes', then the charity goes on the database.

So, Eaves receives over 69% of its funding—£3.6 million—from the taxpayer; further, it is not only lobbying the government to make bad law—it is lobbying the government to make it worse.

Now, I am sure that Eaves does some good work but, nonetheless, I feel that I must deliver a message: get your fucking hands out of my pockets and stop lobbying to restrict my freedom, you terrible bunch of illiberal, theiving cunts.

Fuck me, I am so fucking sick and tired of these disgusting little bastards...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fame indeed

Your humble Devil would like to thank the commenter who ensured that this was Iain Dale's quote of the day.
"I used to think Devil's Kitchen was extreme. I now think his sentiments are getting close to mainstream."

It's a slightly ambiguous quote: I must admit that when I read it, I thought that it echoed the sentiments of View From The Solent.
I think your commenter has it the wrong way round. It is the mainstream that is closing on DK.

But perhaps I am, in fact, mellowing in my old age—perhaps I am, indeed, drifting towards the mainstream. Perhaps the lack of swearing in recent days has meant that I am, in fact, looking for the middle ground.

No, I don't think so. Your humble Devil has tired of the details of MPs' expenses: I am merely waiting for the next interesting thing to happen. And, in the meantime, there are some more considered posts brewing in The Kitchen...

Bastiat Prize

Yes, it's yet another admin post, I'm afraid. Your humble Devil is going to plug the International Policy Network's Bastiat Award for online journalism, simply because I liked the email invitation—which I reproduce verbatim—that accompanied the generic email shot... [Emphasis mine.]
Dear Devil

IPN is delighted to announce that this year's Bastiat Prize is now open—including our new $3,000 Online Journalism prize—which individual DK contributors will hopefully consider entering. We could do with some really good swearing in this year's shortlist.

It seems more important than ever to celebrate those who defend political and economic freedom. We hope you will consider participating—and help us promote both prizes with a mention on Devil's Kitchen?

Your humble Devil has ridiculed those who cannot be arsed to get their email campaigns right—it seems only fair to plug those who have made some effort to be creative.

The submission deadline for entries is 30 June, and all of the other (quite reasonable) rules seem clear enough—especially...
  • Self-published articles and blogs are eligible.

I must say, I do fancy a shot at a $3,000 prize—although having a sweary entry win it would be even more fun...

FoREST and the launch of a book

You can join FoREST on Facebook. You know, should you want to.

Your humble Devil must admit that he has sold his soul, although not for a mess of pottage. I have merely agreed to be on the organising committee for FoREST's 30th Anniversary celebrations, which are occurring this year.

To be honest, I thought that it was the least that I could do, considering how much of their money I have drunk and it is, in any case (and being the heavy smoker that I am), a cause that I support. So, that's the disclaimer out of the way.

As Simon Clark has pointed out on Taking Liberties, the next FoREST event marks a very special occasion.
I am pleased to announce that Forest supporter Ranald Macdonald will be hosting a very special reception on Monday 22 June.

The event, at Boisdale of Belgravia, is to mark Forest's 30th anniversary and the publication of Christopher Snowdon's impressive new book Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking.

Expect cocktails, canapes and live music. Chris will be signing copies of his long-awaited book and I imagine there will be one or two (short!) speeches.

Why is this special? Well, Chris Snowdon is a very good friend of both myself* and the Filthy Smoker—plus, I am proud to say, the book cover was designed by your humble Devil.

I have been reading my advance copy over the last few days, and it is not only informative and entertaining, but horribly prescient. Chris's description of the tactics undertaken by the anti-smoking lobby is actually rather chilling, and anyone with half a brain will recognise the same strategies being used against drink, drugs and anything else that The Righteous want to ban.

So, your humble Devil will be there, naturally: FoREST always throw a good bash and I haven't seen Chris for a little while now (I can't, alas, speak for the Filthy Smoker, who is rather jealous of his anonymity).

If you want to come along, do pop over to Taking Liberties to see how you can get onto the strictly invitation-only guest-list.

P.S. Last time that we were at Boisdale, Ranald asked my tasting advice on a couple of wines: I hope that I made the right choice. In any case, there is an article about Ranald and Boisdale in the Independent today...

* I should point out that I contacted him after he gave me the rather generous quote that appears at the top of my Testimonials. Chris and I did not know each other previously...

The Speaker must go

The BBC has a story up about the Speaker's imminent announcement to the House of Commons.
The Speaker of the House of Commons is to make a statement to MPs at 1530 BST, amid growing calls for him to quit over his handling of the expenses furore.

Michael Martin has been urged to stand down by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg while MPs from all parties have signed a motion of no confidence in him.

This comes after a week of damaging media revelations about MPs' expenses.

But Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell has said he expects Mr Martin to state he will remain in post until the next election.

This cannot happen. The Speaker needs to go and he needs to go now. Not only is the disgusting little shit utterly compromised by being right up to his eyeballs in some of the most outrageous expenses claims, and not only has he presided over the entire, corrupt system—he has actively blocked changes and conspired to conceal information from the public.

If the Speaker does not go now—if the MPs do not vote for Douglas Carswell's vote of no confidence—then we, the public, can only draw one conclusion: our MPs have no interest in reform, they have no interest in clearing up this mess.

We can conclude that our MPs consider this whole scandal to be a flash in the pan and that they fully expect to carry on their troughing ways once the public have been distracted by some other shiny, MSM-served bauble.

So, as far as your humble Devil is concerned, what happens this afternoon is crucial: if these greedy fuckers sack the Speaker, I shall give them the benefit of the doubt. If, however, they vote to keep the Chief Shit, then I shall conclude that they are still intent on feathering their own nests at our expense.

And that cannot be allowed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Defending the indefensible

(nb. I am not the Devil's Kitchen) continues to get a reaction, sometimes positive, sometimes not so positive. Funnily enough, all the negative reviews have come from people working in the 'third sector' (fancy that). One such chopper is a chap who blogs under the name Rob Permeable. Under the rather desperate heading 'Work with us, not against us', Mr Permeable misses the point by a country mile.
It is a mixture of incredulity and depression that I feel reading the same tired, naive, and reactionary opinion I have encountered many times working almost nine years in the third sector – in new hate-blog

If you've been hearing the same opinions for nine years, how long is it going to take before you get the fucking message?  

The site sets itself up as a name-and-shame roll call of UK and international charities (yes, bona fide Charities Commission-registered non-profits) that *shock, horror* sometimes accept grants and funding streams from Government.

Funding streams? Funding rivers, more like. £3.26 billion at the last count.

The self-styled (and predictably anonymous) judge-and-jury bloggers

Rob Permeable's your real name, is it?

– so sickenengly echoing The Daily Mail editorial line that I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if was Paul Dacre in full Guido Fawkes mode – decide that any charity that accepts Government money – or indeed lobbies for change to alleviate inequalities in society – are not *real* charities.

Well, sort of, but its not either/or. In fact, they must accept Government taxpayers' money and lobby the government to make it onto the list. It's very, very easy to stay off the fakecharities directory. Fill your boots, take our money, take the fees, provide the services. You can do all this and more, but once you start using government money to lobby the government, you are compromised. If you want to get into politics, stand for election.
Well thanks for making that clear for us. I bow to your blind optimism that the national health service and state provision is adequately taking care of everything tickedy boo like.

Your hilarious sarcasm is misplaced, Permeable. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the site and its editor will be aware that we are very fucking far from being optimistic about the capability of the state to provide anything adequately. 

Even if we were, it would have no bearing on fakecharities' hall of shame because, with a few exceptions, the NGOs featured there do not provide services. They certainly don't help people. Some are pressure groups, some are think tanks. All of them, in some way, are lobby groups and - yes - I do object to being forced to fund lobby groups, even if I agreed with their politics. And since these bastards have grown fat on 12 years' patronage from a government I despise, it will come as no surprise that I absolutely do not agree with their politics.
The second, and quite revealing, claim made on the site is that charities should all be run by volunteers and should serve only to “assist the poor, the sick, or the helpless".

Not our words, Mr Permeable. They come from the dictionary. Perhaps you should read it. Under 'charity, noun' it says:
"a foundation or institution for assisting the poor, the sick, or the helpless".

And we have never said that all charities should be run by volunteers, you straw-man building butt-monkey. What we actually say is:
People tend to assume that charities are primarily funded by voluntary donations and are primarily staffed by volunteers. Because we assume them to be essentially altruistic, we give their views more weight than we would a politician or an industrialist.

Spot the difference? Professionalism is not the issue. We have never claimed that charities should be run by volunteers (although they should certainly be funded by voluntary donations). But if you've got a charity that does nothing to help anybody, that nobody wants to volunteer for and nobody wants to donate to, then why in the name of Greek buggery should everybody be forced to fund it? 
I’m sorry to break it to you but charities literally bridge the gap between over-stretched and underfunded NHS services, and damn right they should be subsidised or contributed to by these services and central Government in order to help more people. And to affect sustainable change to make sure more people are generally better off and living as independently as possible.

Again, the provision of services isn't the issue. If a charity is best placed to provide a service then the government is wise to pay them to do so. We have never had a problem with charities being paid  for services or training, which is why Common Purpose, for example, has never made it onto the directory, despite numerous requests for us to do so.

Take it from me, your money is not being wasted by employing talent to help more people, or paying the ‘leccy bills so that details of databases or valuable donors don’t get lost.

And take it from me, you condescending cunt, that my money is most certainly being wasted on Alcohol Concern's war on drinkers, Brake's campaign to reduce speed limits, ASH's vendetta's against smokers, the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health's lobby fund to push quack medicine and by War on Want's campaign to overthrow capitalism. 

Why the fuck should I be compelled to pay for a bunch of twats to go marching against free trade? Why do I have to finance neo-prohibitionists? It's not just that we can do without these people, we would actually be much better off without the bastards. 

And before you say it, yes, I also resent having to pay the wages of politicians with whom I utterly disagree, but at least I can vote to kick them out of office. And at least you know where you stand with politicians, who are widely, and quite justifiably, viewed as the scum of the earth. Charities, on the other hand, are viewed as being - for want of a much better word - nice, which is why unelected NGOs and state-funded lobby groups revel in the halo of respectability that the word charity bestows. 

And this is the real point. These NGOs/quangos/arms of government are charities for PR purposes only. They are, as Raedwald put it, the state in disguise. If anybody should be getting upset about the corruption of the notion of charity, it should be people who work for genuine charities like Rob Permeable. So why don't you, Rob, 'work with with us, not against us'? 
Neither is it a waste to motivate grass-roots movements – within the one resounding and powerful voice of a charity – to lobby for change, groom MPs to do something altruistic with their vote for a change, or persuade heads of corporate companies to offer pro bono support or staff volunteers for a local project.

Which grass-roots movements would these be, then? Where are these people who want 20 mph speed limits and more tax on beer? Maybe I move in the wrong circles, but I haven't noticed many round my neck of the woods. 

Of course, that could all change once Alcohol Concern and Brake have finished their systematic, state-funded propaganda campaigns, using dodgy statistics, fraudulent studies, bent consultations and rigged surveys. And therein lies the problem. These so-called charities exist because there is no grass-roots support for the hare-brained schemes of the political elite. They are funded by the state to create the illusion of a grass-roots movement to raise taxes and push political agendas that most people couldn't give a flying fuck about. Good God, man, can't you see any problem with the government financing groups to "groom MPs" and "lobby for change"? 

I don’t entirely buy the argument that by accepting a stream of money from one Department or lottery-stream deems it impossible to remain a critical friend or outright lobbyist to that and other Departments – and that somehow this ‘blood money’ buys charities’ silence.

Really? You seriously believe that these people won't further the agenda of their paymasters? Then let me ask you something. If a charity that is whipping up panic over the obesity 'crisis' turned out to be almost exclusively funded by pharmaceutical companies who make weight-loss drugs - would you have misgivings about them? (Yes, National Obesity Forum, I'm talking about you.) If an anti-motoring charity turned out to be funded by bus and train companies (hello, Transport 2000) - would you say that there was a conflict of interests? 

I would, and I suspect, Rob, you would too. They are quite plainly lobbyists with a vested interest. What magic process turns evil lobby groups into friendly charities when the money comes from the state rather than from industry? Or is it just that industry is always evil and government is always benign?

It's really quite simple. If you're in a charity that receives money from the government, you keep your fucking mouth shut when it comes to politics. You are a servant of the state, you owe your job to politicians and every word you say is suspect. You've taken filthy lucre from people who have no choice but to give it, you are a thieving bunch of parasites and if you had any sense of decency you would count your lucky stars and shut the fuck up.

And then comes what Permeable obviously believes to be his killer blow: 
The final irony of is that it contains a ‘donate’ button accepting all major credit cards…..You mean the bloggers aren’t providing their services on a strictly voluntary basis?? Heavens…let’s hope they don’t accept cash from any MPs…Could screw their independence.

If anything confirms that the charity industry has become so hooked on taxpayers' money that it can no longer tell the difference between voluntary and involuntary giving, it is this idiotic comment. They just don't get it. They cannot see the difference between private donations and public funding. Still, I'll spell it out one more time:

Firstly, we are not a charity, nor do we claim to be.

Secondly, we are not trying to change the law, raise taxes or get anything banned. 

Thirdly, we think that voluntary giving is a good thing. In fact we think that voluntary donations distinguish 'a good cause' from a fake charity. 

Fourthly, unless DK is quietly stashing it away for the Christmas party, I'm not aware of anyone ever contributing anything. The fact that the donate button was added with the words 'more in hope than expectation' should give you an idea that we fully expected it to be clicked on even less often than the 'I am under 18' button on 

Fifthly, if hell freezes over and an MP decides to give us some money, we would tell them to shove it up their arse.


NHS Fail Wail

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