Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Art of Suppression

The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800 by Christopher Snowdon.

Your humble Devil has received his gratis copy of Christopher Snowdon's new magnum opus, The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800.

In the last few years, Chris has become an essential authority on prohibition, Righteous campaigners and fake charities—mainly because he treats his subjects with a lightness of touch and sense of humour that those same authoritarian bastards do not allow us mere taxpayers. As such, I am proud to have provided the cover for the third of his publications...

A review will appear here fairly shortly but, in the meantime, I highly recommend wandering over to his place and ordering your copy...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

An interesting development

It will come as no surprise to regular readers to know that I believe Chris Huhne to be an extremely dangerous man—if, that is, you want to keep such trappings of our civilisation as electricity and heat.

A few days ago, he spelt out just why our energy bills have risen so massively, in his remarkably up-front comment on the increase in gas-driven power stations.
The UK's "dash for gas" will be halted by the government because if unchecked it would break legally binding targets for carbon dioxide emissions, Chris Huhne, energy and climate change secretary, said on Monday evening.

"We will not consent so much gas plant so as to endanger our carbon dioxide goals," he told a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats party conference in Birmingham.

The number of gas-fuelled power plants is increasing rapidly because they are fast and cheap to build compared with alternatives. They also create about half the carbon emissions of coal-powered plants and have been seen as a "transition fuel", helping smooth the path to zero-carbon electricity.

In general, gas-fired stations are a good thing—especially if you are trying to adopt renewable energy in the form of the massively unreliable wind turbines—because the stations can be spun up and down relatively quickly.

Further, they are quicker and cheaper to build, relatively, than any other type, they emit less carbon dioxide than fuels such as coal (if you care about such things) and, as such, are the only things that are likely to keep the lights on.

And, presumably, any government would want to keep the lights on. After all, the Three Day Week didn't do much for the electoral prospects of that utter bastard Heath. And, given our far greater reliance on electricity for every aspect of our home and business lives than in the Seventies, any party who let rolling black-outs become a feature of their government would be unlikely to see power again for a very long time.

However, one of the downsides of gas—and this seems to exercise even those who do not give a shit about climate change—is the fact that we have to buy a lot of it from Russia. And that leads to otherwise sensible people starting to use phrases such as "energy security"...

So, Cuadrilla Resources's announcement (which came only two days after Huhne's "dash for gas" comments) must be seen as an amazing discovery.
A company backed by former BP chief Lord Browne claims to have found a gas field near Blackpool that could be the largest ever discovered in Britain.

Cuadrilla Resources believes there are 200 trillion cubic feet of "shale" gas in the Bowland basin, which could result in a Lancashire gas boom creating 5,600 jobs at peak production.

Shale is a type of onshore gas common in the US, which is extracted by blasting apart rock in a process called fracking.

More testing is needed, but the estimates suggest Britain could have more shale gas than Poland, which has been considered Europe's biggest holder of probable reserves.

As has been pointed out, not all of the 200 TCF will actually be recoverable but, even at 50%, this find could deal with all of our power needs—at peak usage—for 30 years.

If our supposedly sovereign government would now just turn around and tell the near-bankrupt EU to fuck off, we can keep the lights on and stick two fingers up at Russia. It's a win-win situation.

Not only that, but it is likely that Cuadrilla's find is not the only one likely.
It’s not just Blackpool you know:
Widespread in the Craven Basin, including the Lancaster, Garstang, Settle, Clitheroe and Harrogate districts, south Cumbria and the Isle of Man; also in North Wales, Staffordshire and the East Midlands.

It is, to use a technical term, friggin’ huge mate.

It's also interesting to note that most of the reserves seem to be in ex-industrial, Labour-supporting areas of the country. This could be a neat chance for the Coalition to try to pick up some support in these traditionally red-voting areas, might it not?

Of course, if the Coalition block these developments (and the lots of lovely jobs and prosperity that go with them), then they are going to find themselves really very unpopular.

And even more so when the black-outs start.

So, Chris: your move...

UPDATE: this discussion is becoming ever more urgent since the ten new nuclear power stations that Huhne was hoping for almost certainly will not materialise...
SSE pulls out of the nuclear game. Well of course they do. And it's a cert that neither E.on nor RWE will be up for it either any more, given the pounding they are getting in Germany and their well-publicised shortages of capital; Centrica have voiced their (very sensible) doubts: which just leaves EDF, and the depleted GdF/Iberdrola JV now that SSE have deserted them. I could just about imagine EDF approving one new UK nuke in the next 2-3 years, if Crapper Huhne's new Capacity Payments scheme (due to be published later this year) attracts them sufficiently.

Now Huhne was hoping for 10 new nukes. 'Perhaps one, maybe' looks a bit thin in that context. There comes a point, and it may not be long now, when the required 'run-rate' of new investment becomes plainly infeasible. Actually, it is already, but not quite obvious enough yet, it seems.

Every politicians wants to be remembered: but do Huhne and the Coalition really want to be remembered as the people who shut down the British economy...? It's time to get a grip, guys...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Staggering statistic

Whilst doing some light Sunday afternoon reading around neurotoxins, as you do, I came across this rather interesting fact... [Emphasis mine.]
[Botulinum toxin] is the most acutely toxic substance known, with a median lethal dose of about 1 ng/kg when introduced intravenously and 3 ng/kg when inhaled. This means that, depending on the method of introduction into the body, a mere 90–270 nanograms of botulinum toxin could be enough to kill an average 90 kg (200 lb) person, and four kilograms of the toxin, if evenly distributed, would be more than enough to kill the entire human population of the world.

And people volunteer to have it injected into their faces.


A discourse on the Coalition Tax strategy

I have been mulling over the general tax-raising policies of the Coalition recently, and come to the conclusion that—barring a few jarring issues—the general movement is in the right direction.

Before I move onto the specifics, however, there are a few assumptions that should be stated.
  1. Tax is theft and therefore a bad thing.
    Tax is simply legalised theft, and is therefore, at best, a necessary evil. If one is to have a state then one almost certainly needs taxes to support it. But, simply from a moral perspective, should be kept as low as possible: most importantly, the level of tax should not be levied at such a level that people are then struggling to survive.

  2. But, given the above, the best taxes are those that are, at least partially, voluntary. I have, for many years, opined that a sales tax (with VAT-style exemptions for "essential goods") as being the best tax precisely because people do not have to go out and buy shit. And the shit that they do have to buy—such as unprocessed food—is exempt.
  3. Different types of taxes have different effects on the economy.
    This should be self-evident: if you tax savings, people will save less. If you tax work, then fewer people will work. And if you tax jobs, then fewer jobs will be created. This is not rocket science.

  4. Tax incidence is important.
    With any tax, it is not necessarily those on whom it is immediately levied who actually pay the tax. Companies, for instance, do not pay tax—no, really, they don't. All taxes, everywhere, must at some point come out of the pocket of a living, breathing human being. And companies aren't.

    Companies do not pay corporation tax: the tax incidence falls on the shareholders (in lower dividends) and the workers (in the form of lower wages). Most studies find that it is the workers who bear the greater part of corporation tax.

  5. People spend their own money better than the state can.
    It is not simply that people spend their money more efficiently than the state—although they do. It is that people spend their own money on things that they themselves want: the state has to guess what many millions of people want. And, in any case, the state tends to spend money on what will get its politicians re-elected.

So, given all of the above, you are now in the Coalition government and economic growth is absolutely critical to your strategy—what do you do? Bearing in mind, of course, that you have a crippling deficit which needs to be reduced and so you cannot cut taxes across the board.

The vast majority of employment in the country is provided by companies, and the vast majority of new jobs are created by small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Quite apart from the historical significance of unemployment figures, people with jobs have money: this enables them to buy stuff, and it also reduces the benefits that the state has to pay out.

Companies generally need some capital backing to operate and grow, especially in the early stages—and especially if they are making an actual product (because, largely, the product needs to be researched, designed and made before it can be sold).

So, you want to encourage people to invest capital into companies; you want to ensure that companies produce valuable products; you want to ensure that companies can afford to employ people, and you want to ensure that companies can pay their workers a decent wage.

So, let's see what the Coalition have done.
  • Raised Capital Gains Tax:FAIL. This discourages people from investing in companies because their capital returns will be reduced.

  • Raised Employers and Employees National Insurance Contributions (NICs): FAIL. Quite simply, employers NICs are a tax on job creation.

  • Lowered Corporation Tax: MINOR WIN. For the obvious reason that, as stated above, companies do not pay taxes. This might also help to offset the NICs rise: however, this only benefits profitable companies, which many start-ups, initially, are not.

  • Raised the Personal Tax Allowance significantly: WIN. Quite simply, workers see more of their own cash—and they have the choice of how to spend it. Or, of course, to save it.

    On another note, taxing the poor and then handing them back some of their own money in benefits is colossally wasteful. And, as I've argued many times, deeply immoral. Letting them keep more of their money is a very good thing.

  • Raised VAT to 20%: MINOR WIN. In the context of other tax rises, this is a fail. However, VAT is the closest that we have to a voluntary tax and, coupled with the rise in the personal allowance, the Coalition is shifting (in however small a way) the burden of tax from earnings onto spending.

So, the general direction of the Coalition's tax policy is not too bad—not great, but not bad. And, as far as we know, the general continuing direction is as laid out above.

So, whilst the Buttered New Potato and his merry men might be fucking things up generally, in this area it is not all bad.

The Free Schools revolution

Regular readers will know that your humble Devil is a great believer in education: a good education can set anyone up for life—in the best possible sense.

Giving someone a shit education, on the other hand, should be regarded as tantamount to murder: only, in this case, it is not the murderer who suffers the life sentence, but the victim.

So, let us see what happens when the state is removed from the business of education, shall we?
Harris Academies, one of the best-known new chains of state secondaries, have today posted an extraordinary set of results. It's worth studying because it shows how a change of management can transform education for pupils in deprived areas.

Pour in money if you like, but the way a school is run is the key determinant. This is the idea behind City Academies, perhaps Labour's single best (and most rapidly-vindicated) policy. The notion is rejected by teaching unions, who loathe the idea that some teachers are better than others. Bad schools are kept bad by the idea that their performance is due to deeply-ingrained social problems, etc.

Harris has produced a table showing the results of their schools when they were last run by the council, and this year's results. It speaks best for itself:

I would most especially like you all to look at the data and compare the Final Year As An LEA School [state-run school] with the current results.

And that is why the state needs to be removed from the education of the nation's children.

And it is why anyone opposing Academies or Free Schools is not just a stupid, pig-ignorant bigot: they are actively evil people.

Many wet liberal arseholes would argue that such people "are not aware of the facts, so you cannot blame them" (as they do about murdering Greenies). Yeah? Well, my view is that ignorance is no fucking excuse—if you don't know the facts about the campaign you are participating in, then you shouldn't participate. And if you do participate, then you are responsible.

As for the bunch of shits at the NUT and the NASWT, and all those other teaching unions... Well, they know the facts. They know the results. And yet still they campaign against Free Schools and Academies.


Because they think that the jobs of piss-poor teachers are more important than the future prospects of millions of children. These people are utter scum.

Just think about it: these teachers and their fat-cat union acolytes would rather condemn millions of children to a life of missed opportunities and poverty and failure rather than risk their own fat wedge of cash.

These cunts are beneath contempt.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A stirring speech...

Can you guess who said this recently...?
Yeah, the permanent political class – they’re doing just fine. Ever notice how so many of them arrive in Washington, D.C. of modest means and then miraculously throughout the years they end up becoming very, very wealthy? Well, it’s because they derive power and their wealth from their access to our money – to taxpayer dollars. They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power.

Good stuff, eh? I bet the answer will surprise you...

Free schools

Your humble Devil is getting increasingly annoyed at the Left's attitude to Free Schools—as exemplified by this piece of shit article (written by some arse called Daniel Boffey in June this year) in the Grauniad.
Critics claim many free schools will offer little benefit to the disadvantaged as initially proposed, but have been established by "sharp-elbowed, well-off parents" in affluent areas for middle-class children. It is also feared that free schools in poorer areas will drain other schools of high-attaining children with the most advantaged backgrounds, creating two-tier education.

Yeah? That might well be true, Daniel—and do you know why? It is because the poor tend to be ruled by Labour Councils—and Labour-dominated local authorities have been fighting the Free Schools with all their might.

Some readers may know that your humble Devil has been tangentially involved with a Free School effort based in a definitely not "affluent area" of south London—in a borough most certainly not dominated by "sharp-elbowed, well-off parents" or "middle-class children" from the "the most advantaged backgrounds".

The efforts to set up a Free School in this borough—a Free School that specifically wants to cater to the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the community (even if it were not subject to precisely the same admission policies as comprehensives)—have been consistently and viciously opposed by the Labour council. Not only this, but the council has actively supported the various vested interests—such as the NUT—that oppose Free Schools in the area.

The Free School has been advised that nearby Tory Council areas—such as Westminster or Hammersmith—would welcome this organisation with open arms, that sites might be found and support given. The contrast with the attitude of this borough's Labour overlords could not be more stark.

You see, when even the egregious and idiotic Melissa Benn can (inadvertently) admit that Free Schools might actually provide a better education, you know that those who oppose them are simply evil fucks protecting their vested interests.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Free Schools will continue to be set up in more "affluent areas": because affluent people tend to vote for Tories, and the Tories are ready and willing to support Free Schools and educational choice.

Whereas the poor tend to vote for Labour: and Labour councils would prefer to keep their citizens poor and ill-educated because, were this to change, the voters realise that Labour might not have their best interests at heart.

The party of the poor

Who would have thought that she would say anything interesting at all...?

@charlotteahenry tweets a rather excellent quote from the hitherto undistinguished LibDem munchkin known as Sarah Teather...
"Labour claims to be the party of the poor, but that just gives them a reason to keep people that way."

Once has to admit that this is a pithy and rather accurate summing up...

The Patron Politician of Lost Causes

A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has pointed out that the 50p top tax rate is—from the point of view of raising money—worse than useless.
The 50p rate of income tax is costing the Treasury up to £500 million a year as high earners shelter their money abroad, a leading think tank has warned.

Yes, the Laffer Curve really does exist. Naturally, Timmy elaborates...
The argument is that this rate is increasing the use of (entirely legal) tax mitigation strategies plus some people are buggering off.

Yes, I know, there are those who insist that we should just make it illegal for people to bugger off out of the tax system but we’ve signed a number of international treaties that say we cannot do that.

But here we have it, at least some independent and non-politically partisan experts state that 50 p on income tax is over the peak of the Laffer Curve: even in this short term.

Not much point in having it then really, is there?

Quite so. The 50p tax rate decreases the amount of money that the Treasury gets and—as an extra special Fuck-up The Country bonus—it drives capital abroad rather than it being spent or invested in the British economy.

All of the above was reported on the 14th September: so, as a follow-up, what was reported today (the 17th September)? Yes, that's right...
Nick Clegg has said axing the 50p top income tax rate too early could "destroy" public support, as the Lib Dems gather for their conference.

So, despite the fact that the 50p rate of tax is costing the Treasury some half a billion quid a year, Nick Clegg supports it because he thinks the British people are entirely motivated by spite. Well, he may be right but...
The coalition agreement drawn up between the Conservatives and Mr Clegg's party says the government will work towards increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000 - a Lib Dem policy - and that would be prioritised "over other tax cuts".

Yes, fine. Except that if you abolished the 50p rate of tax, you fucking moron, you would have another half a billion quid to put towards your—admittedly, very worthy and entirely correct—policy of letting the poor keep a little more of their cash.

Casting himself more and more in the role of the Patron Politician of Lost Causes, Nick Clegg really is a silly sod, is he not...?

UPDATE: JohnB presents an alternative view (or, rather, an additional view)...
The Telegraph piece is bullshit laundering, and it's at least as bad as anything you've had a go at climate journalists for.

Here's some digging into the source of the data—the new IFS report says nothing about effects of the 50p rate at all. Rather, the Telegraph has dug up the IFS's *projections* about the effects of the 50p rate *from before it was introduced*, and presented them as if they were an assessment of what's actually happened.

Which is shoddy journalism. It'll be an interesting test of the IFS's integrity to see whether it complains to the Telegraph about being misrepresented in this way...

Friday, September 16, 2011

A bit of a surprise, to be honest

I am very happy—given my relative lack of original output this year—to have appear at all in Total Politics 2011 Top Blogs lists.

Your humble Devil has been voted in at number 9 for both Libertarian Blog and Libertarian Blogger.

I have to confess that, in previous years, I bloody well expected to be pretty high. This year, however, I was anticipating not being in there at all and so, ironically, this is the first year that I am really happy to be featured.

As is traditional, I would like to extend a sincere "thank you" to everyone who voted for me and The Kitchen; and, as always, a bigger "thank you" to everyone who continues to read, write and comment here.

I shall endeavour to carry on entertaining you all...



Ponzi schemes to the left (of the pond) and Ponzi schemes to the right (of the pond)...

In My Arrogant Opinion has a very succinct quote about US Social Security...
Really, the only way Social Security isn’t like a Ponzi scheme is that knowing it’s a scam doesn’t protect you from it.

He also links to this amusing video, in which a young man rings up the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and attempts to report this disgusting fraud—using the SEC's own definition of a Ponzi Scheme as a reference.

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil has—for many years now—repeatedly (and at length) pointed out that our own dear National Insurance is, in fact, a colossal Ponzi Scheme. Indeed, I reinforced this fact in a conversation with JohnB [Blockquotes are JohnB's points.].
Some benefits and pensions are qualified by time spent paying NI; some are not.

NI is supposed to cover health care, state pension and unemployment benefit.
All are paid out of general taxation. Some taxpayers pay NI; some don't. All the money goes into the same government pot.

Receipt is supposed to be on the basis of money paid in (which is why freelancers sometimes get shafted); it is not so long ago that you could be refused certain benefits on the basis of "not having paid your stamps".
The point about a Ponzi is that there's no underlying revenue source.

That's not entirely true: Ponzi did have a revenue source—as did Madoff. What neither of them had was a sufficient revenue source to cover the pay-outs that they were making (and advertising).

By any measure, that curently applies to the British state: it does not have the money to pay out what it advertised to "investors".

Because it is the British state, it can—and does—borrow vast amounts of money to cover the pay-outs, but it cannot do so for ever. For a long time, yes; for ever—no.

Even if the government could take the entire British economy in tax (which would, of course, destroy it), it could still promise more than it could deliver.

As it is, the government is advertising returns that are far, far in excess of its income (feasible tax) and, eventually, its ability to pay: it pays the returns to people with their own money or with that of newer investors (in the case of pensions, the next generation).

This is, quite obviously, a Ponzi Scheme.

And if you doubted that the government is unable to afford the most basic of the National Insurance payments. As from next year, we are all going to be taxed another 8% in order to pay for our pensions.
Yes, indeed—starting from next year, we are all going to have to start paying into a compulsory pension scheme.

(Well, I say "all"—but, of course, it only applies to those who have jobs. People who have never worked in their lives can continue merrily to pay fuck all.)
The Pensions Regulator has just issued a reminder (PDF) that all employers will have to provide a pension arrangement to all employees, beginning in October of 2012 on a widening basis until 2016. This requirement calls for a minimum total contribution to an approved pension scheme of 8% of salary, of which at least 3% must be contributed by the employer and the rest by the employee. Employers may choose to introduce a more generous scheme if they wish but the 8%/3% is the minimum requirement.

Alright, so I exaggerated slightly in the headline: the employee will only pay a minimum of 5% into this "approved" pension scheme. However, anyone who thinks that the 3% employers' contribution (plus the costs of administering the scheme, of course) will not adversely affect wages is a total idiot.

Of course, the whole thing seems so sensible—yes, we do need to save for our retirement and, yes, too few people save anywhere near enough (especially when they are younger). And yet...

This is, effectively, the government admitting that it is unable to meet its pension obligations despite already taking 11% from the employee and 12.8% from the employer—money that is supposed to cover these obligations.

Plus, the government is also adding 1% to each set of contributions for 2011–2012: that is, you will pay 12% of your salary and your employer 13.8%.

So, NICs is most definitely supposed to cover pensions.

We and our employers are paying a combined total of 25.8% of our salaries into National Insurance (which is supposed to cover state pensions).

Now, we and our employers are having to pay in extra, to a minimum of 8%.

This makes a grand total of 33.8% of your salary that is being paid into—what is, effectively—social security. Yes, that's your pension, health care and unemployment benefit.

For me, this means:
  • £2,852.64 employee's contribution +

  • £3,302.06 employers' contribution +

  • roughly £930 employee's new pension contribution +

  • £1550 employers extra pension contribution =

  • Total for state cover: £8,634.70 per year.

Now, since I have all of these privately (to roughly the same level), let's do a comparison:
  • Health care (top care possible): £768 +

  • Pension (to roughly the same pay out as the state pension): £2,160 +

  • Unemployment cover (better than the state provides): £264 =

  • Total for private cover: £3,192 per year

Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I think that I'm being scammed here—and not by the private sector.

The simple fact is that the government cannot pay out at the advertised rates, and it forces us to pay more and more and more in so that it can pay out the older investors.

It is a Ponzi Scheme—and that is being generous. Were I being ungenerous, I would simply state that it is massive larceny on a grand fucking scale.

It's one rule for them...

Green economics = profligacy and poverty

Matthew Sinclair has an article up at the Spectator Coffeehouse, outlining the economically insane attitude of many anti-climate change activists.
Essentially, they argue that there is too much uncertainty about the costs and we can’t quantify them, so it is better to just accept the targets for emissions cuts as a given and argue about how to achieve them, write a blank cheque for climate policy.

And what kind of size is this "blank cheque"?
William Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale, isn’t a climate sceptic. He has spent decades refining his model of the economic effects of climate change. When he applied the 2007 version of that model to the recommendations from the Stern Review produced for the last government, he found that the plan would reduce climate change harms by about $14 trillion, but at a cost of nearly $28 trillion. The cure would be worse than the disease.

Matthew's point—though it might seem crazy to your average sandal-wearing, tofu-eating Greenie wack-job—is really rather simple: he simply argues that the benefits of the action that we take should outweigh the cost.
... politicians need to be more realistic. Investment in research and development to make low carbon energy cheaper is a more realistic prospect than a global deal to make energy from fossil fuels more expensive. The best way to ensure than Britain can cope with climate change is to bet on growth, and build a country rich and free enough to survive whatever the climate throws at it.

Indeed, as your humble Devil has blogged many times, this is precisely the course recommended by the IPCC, in their Special Economic Scenarios—specifically the A1 family.

In this family of scenarios, not only are the Western nations rich enough to deal with the possible effects of catastrophic climate change, but the developing countries are too. In fact, the scenario predicts the end of any difference in general affluence between countries at all.

It seems, however, that our Greenie chums not only have little interest in ensuring that the poor of the world remain poor—they want to ensure that that everyone else lives in grinding fucking poverty too.

Which is why these Gaia-worshipping nutters are little better than common murderers...

Thursday, September 15, 2011


In an admirable act of honesty—on 13 September, Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society, citing the organisation's stance on catastrophic anthropogenic climate change (CACC).
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 3:42 PM
To: xxxx@aps.org
Cc: Robert H. Austin; 'William Happer'; 'Larry Gould'; 'S. Fred Singer'; Roger Cohen
Subject: I resign from APS

Dear Ms. Kirby

Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I can not live with the statement below:

Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this 'warming' period.

Best regards,

Ivar Giaever

As His Ecclesiastical Eminence points out, surely this cannot happen...?
It's funny, but I thought that scepticism on the global warming question was tantamount to being "anti-science". Isn't that what all the unthinking science gurus say - the Simon Singhs, the Paul Nurses, the New Scientist clique and the Scientific American gang and the Chris Mooneys and the George Monbiots?

How long before Dr Giaever is dismissed as a crank or a pretend scientist, I wonder?

In the meantime, well done that man...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Questions to which the answer is "NO"

NB: It's me, the P-G

Are the trade unions about to save Britain?

Bonus points for suggestions in the comments:
If one were the comment/features editor of the Torygraph, to what possible question (and in what parallel universe for that matter FFS) would the answer ever be "Mary Riddell"?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Toodle-oo Yahoo

Those of us in the web industry have been watching the travails of Yahoo with a bemused amusement*. For years, the one-time search pioneer has been flailing around, trying to define what it is—precisely—that it does.

Now it seems that the board has got fed up and fired CEO Carol Bartz—by telephone.
Yahoo shares jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading after news of the firing broke, indicating they would trade higher when Wall Street opened for business on Wednesday. Yahoo's stock price was up at $13.72, an increase of 81 cents.

Obviously things are worse than we thought since, according to Business Insider, the board are also letting people know that the company is up for sale.
In addition to firing CEO Carol Bartz, Yahoo's board has now put the company up for sale.

The person who briefed the Wall Street Journal on the Bartz firing also told the paper that "Yahoo is open to selling itself to the right bidder."

That's the equivalent of sticking a FOR SALE sign on the lawn.

Business Insider is also pretty harsh about Bartz—justifiably so.
The board canned Bartz, the WSJ's sources say, after studying the company's assets for two weeks and concluding that Bartz was doing a lousy job. If this is really true, one wonders what on earth the board has been doing for the past two years, while pretty much everyone else concluded the same thing.

Indeed. I think that the suggested solution falls short of the mark though...
There's no quick fix for Yahoo. The company needs to embrace the fact that it's now a media, content, and communications company—and make heavy investments in those areas. It needs to radically streamline itself. And it needs a leader with a clear product vision and the ability to execute on it.

If Yahoo is a "media, content and communications company", then it needs to find a strong revenue stream—something that online content companies often struggle to find.

It also needs to find greater acceptance for its—actually quite cool—developer applications and libraries amongst the web programming community.

I just don't think that those running Yahoo have the first clue on how to do either. And if the company has, indeed, put itself up for sale, it is going to made it even harder to find a CEO who does.

* The only more entertaining technology firm car-crash that I can currently think of is Hewlett-Packard. Take, for instance, this WSJ article which regales the management shenanigans at HP, under the subject line of "Let's say you were given a year to kill Hewlett-Packard. Here's how you do it..."

Destroy the medical profession

As regular readers will know, your humble Devil is no fan of the medical profession: sentences such as , and "when will these fucking medical types shut their fucking cakeholes and get on with their job of patching people up?" might have led viewers to conclusion that I think that doctors are a total bunch of fuckers who should be beaten to death with their own stethoscopes.

And said viewers would be correct. But it's nice to see my view validated by Sam Bowman at the Adam Smith Institute.
"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public"—Adam Smith
As usual, Adam Smith was right. Today I can think of no trade about which the above is more true than the medical profession. I don’t just mean doctors’ use of occupational licensure laws to keep their prices artificially inflated. Politically active groups of doctors are possibly the greatest single threat to personal freedom that there is in the UK today. Their motivation isn't necessarily their wallets, but their egos. Bullies like to use the state to push people around so they feel powerful.
As I outlined in my commentary on Working Class Patients And The Medial Establishment: Self-help in Britain from the mid-nineteeth century to 1948, David Green states very clearly that the medical profession are actually motivated by both "their wallets" and "their egos".
The organised medical profession had long resented the dominance of the medical consumer, and particularly resented working-class control of medical "gentlemen". The BMA were equally anxious to obtain more pay and, above all, higher status for doctors.
As regular readers will know, the combination of the BMA and the private insurance companies led directly to the destruction of the Friendly Societies—social corporations that provided primary care and unemployment benefits for the working classes—through the lobbying of MPs involved in the 1911 National Insurance Act. [Emphasis mine.]
The essence of working-class social insurance was democratic self-organisation: amendments to the Bill obtained by the BMA and the Combine [the private insurers' trade association] undermined it. Doctors' pay had been kept within limits that ordinary maual workers could afford: under pressure, the government doubled doctors' incomes and financed this transfer of wealth from insured workers to the medical profession by means of a regressive poll tax, flat-rate National Insurance Contributions.
I have said it many times, and I shall say it again—doctors are not your friends and the medical profession couldn't give two shits for anything other than big, fat pay-cheques. And, as I said back in June 2010, ...
...whilst the doctors continue to run our medical services, and continue to bribe, bully and poison our rulers—and whilst our rulers still have the power to force us to obey these bastards—we will never be free...
They medical profession are a bunch of thugs, driven by self-importance, conceit and greed, whose only motivation for existence is to bleed you dry and then present you—or someone near to you—a massive bill. But, they are also suffer from an almost incredible arrogance in that they believe their every prognostication to be gospel, every utterance to be truth and every opinion to be law. They are cunts of the very first water.

So, since we have now established this principle, let us see what has driven the ASI's Sam Bowman to attack the bastards on this occasion.
There’s a sad example of this in today’s call in the Lancet, a medical journal that is often used as a political mouthpiece by campaigning doctors, for the government to introduce a “fat tax” to curb obesity.

Of course, the proposal is utterly specious. It's pretty dubious whether the "obesity epidemic" claims are true or not. And which diet plan should be implemented? Is it bacon, sugar, bread or something else that makes us fat? Will political parties of this fat tax utopian future be divided between the Low-Carb Party and the Low-Fat Party? And what if fat people's early mortality rates mean that they actually save the government money in pension and care home bills?

The doctors err even by their own logic. As Will Wilkinson has pointed out, if fat taxers thought things through, they would favour a tax on fat people themselves, not on the food they eat. Taxing food punishes people who exercise so that they can enjoy Big Macs, but not people who are so lazy that they balloon out while eating a balanced diet.
Of course, to the average doctor—who has coddled and protected, in importance and financially, by the state for a century—corporations must automatically be evil (otherwise they wouldn't actually sell things, right? They'd do it out of charidee); not only that, but the Ordinary People, the hoi polloi, are too stupid and bovine to make their own choices.

Of course, this should be no business of the doctors': their job should be to shut the fuck up and do their job of patching people up (and charging a suitable fee, of course). And in a free society, that is precisely what would happen.

However, we do not live in a free society: we live in a Welfare State*. And in the Welfare State (and particularly this one), the health service is administered by the state and the doctors are the gate-keepers. It is the hoi polloi, who pay for this health service, of course, but—since we are given no choice about it—we are (as I have said many times) in hock to the state.
The state is the provider of a service: the National Health Service in this case. Because the state provides and "pays" (through taxes, of course) for this service, it has the power to dictate to the population.

Obesity costs money over and above a "normal" person's treatment. Even if the obese person has private medical insurance, they cannot opt out of the NHS because they are forced to contribute to the NHS through their NICs. And, in fact, because of various laws—an ambulance can only take you to a state A&E, all GPs are employed by the state—no one can opt out of the state-provided system entirely.

In this way, everyone is in debt to the state. And as long as everyone is in debt to the state, the state, fundamentally, has the right to tell the population how to behave. And this debt can never actually be discharged: you are in debt to—and thus subject to the whim of—the state from the moment that you are born until the moment that you die.

And, remember, there is no actual contract to sign (or not sign) so the government can—and does—keep on shifting the terms of this agreement as and when it likes. It's a little like Lando Calrissian's bargain with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back: "This deal just gets worse..."

As such, no one in this country owns their own body; no one in this country owns their own life. Everyone is effectively in hock to the state because you can never, ever opt out of state provision.
Once again, it seems that Sam Bowman agrees with me on this...
The justification for pushing people around like this is the NHS. Shouldn’t people have to pay for their own illnesses? Well, yes – that’s how personal responsibility works. But having an NHS removes the personal responsibility, and artificial attempts to inject it into the system are doubly illiberal and wrong.

The government (and the electorate, for that matter) forces people to be in the NHS. You have no choice in the matter, and you can’t opt out of it. Jamie Whyte put it well: "first the do-gooders conjure up the external costs by insisting that no one should have to pay for his own medical care, then they tell us that they must interfere with behavior that damages our health because it imposes costs on others." This is perverse and illiberal.
Yes, and the doctors—and their spiritual buddies, the politicians—love it: this way, they can all feel important, and all line their pockets.
The tax would only affect the poor—rich people's spending habits wouldn't be dented. How easy it must be for doctors to pontificate about the need for a fat tax, knowing that such a tax would hardly affect them at all.
Indeed, what with doctors having to take on the treatment of all of these extra obese people, surely it must be time for another contract "negotiation"**—trebles all round!
This creepy, controlling paternalism has plenty of fans in politics on both sides of the partisan divide. Doctors are the politicians' enablers, lending the weight of their “expertise” to the nanny instinct of the political class in exchange for the feeling of being important.
Which is precisely the same relationship that the government has with Fake Charities—many of which are also run by doctors and their creepy little acolytes.
No amount of expertise – medical or otherwise – should give somebody the right to interfere with another adult’s choices. Nor should democracy be used as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of the individual. If fat people are costing the NHS money, that's a mark against having an NHS, not against having fat people.
Quite. And all of this relates to the conclusion of my June 2010 post linked to above...
Most of you will have seen—in the newspapers and, in particular, on blogs written by members of the medical profession—claims that doctors should be allowed to run the NHS, because they know what they are doing. Of course they do: they want to run your lives and giving the medicos control of the NHS would give them the ultimate tool to do so. That would ensure a much "higher status for doctors" and the edict would be simple—obey us or be left to die.

If you doubt this, just take a long at some of the news stories around, especially as regards the medical profession's urgings to deny healthcare to smokers, drinkers and fat people. True, the BMA tend to side with Fake Charities more than the insurance companies these days, but the process is the same; government-funded "medical advisers"—no less effective or poisonous than Grima Wormtongue—whisper into politicians' rights ears, whilst government-funded "charities" bolster the message from the left.

Our New Coalition Overlords™ promised to take on the vested interests but, narrow-minded as they are, they seem to mean only the bankers and other huge commercial interests whose establishment status flows from the rules and regulations imposed by government.

But no mention has been made of those other vested interests: those—like the medical profession—whose power, privilege and money is propped up by the government and funded by the blood of taxpayers. There are so many of them that a stupid person might find it difficult to know where to start.

But, actually, it is really very simple: if we want decent welfare for all, affordable medical care and freedom, we need to return to "democratic self-organisation". And if we wish to do that, we have to smash and utterly destroy the organised medical profession, and grind it into the dust.

We need to return these arrogant doctors, and their associated scum (a category in which I include politicians), to beings servants of the consumer, not the masters. But whilst the doctors continue to run our medical services, and continue to bribe, bully and poison our rulers—and whilst our rulers still have the power to force us to obey these bastards—we will never be free, and we will never have a proper, functioning society.

To paraphrase P J O'Rourke, when the legislators can decide what can be bought and sold, the first thing for sale are the legislators. And the medical profession bought them a hundred years ago.

Destroy the power of the BMA and the medical profession and we can begin to struggle towards freedom. Leave them in place—poisoning public debate and raping the freedom of ordinary people in order to gain money and prestige—and we will always be slaves.
All of the above continues to be true—nothing has changed. So every time that you see a doctor warning of some dire consequence of anyone's lifestyle, don't condemn their victims—that is the precise reaction that these fuckers want from you, the better to divide and conquer.

Imagine, instead, how much you would like these bastards to stop hectoring you and bossing you about—and think, therefore, about how best to damage and destroy the entire medical profession. Think about how best to humble the arrogant, dictatorial doctors who urge the government to ban and tax your pleasures, how to put the lazy, hoity-toity nurses who starve their patients to death back into their proper place and, most important of all, how to blast apart all of their evil bloody trade unions.

And try not to laugh too much whilst you do so...

* Not for much longer, of course, because the Welfare State is utterly bankrupt across the world.

** Where the doctors tell the politicians how much cash they want and how little actual doctoring they want to do, and the politicians agree. After all, it's not their money, eh?

NHS Fail Wail

I think that we can all agree that the UK's response to coronavirus has been somewhat lacking. In fact, many people asserted that our de...