Thursday, July 19, 2018

A rubbish fairytale

Inspired by this photo, delivered to your humble Devil's Facebook timeline...


And the government of 500 million of those 8 billion people decided that they didn't like all of the rubbish being buried near them. So they imposed a colossal rubbish burial tax onto the waste disposal people, who wept and wailed.

"Fear not," said the government of the 500 million. "Just ship it off to some poorer countries with lax standards of disposal, and get them and their children to sort through and to dispose of it."

And lo! it came to pass, and everyone was happy.

But then the biggest of the poorer countries (which had now become moderately rich) said, "we do not want your rubbish anymore; and we will not take it." So, the rubbish went to countries with even laxer standards of disposal.

And, yea, a few years later, the 500 million were terribly surprised that the oceans were full of their rubbish! It was almost as though all the countries with lax standards of disposal had just chucked it all into the sea.

What was the government of the 500 million to do? Should they realise that their mining operations created holes more than big enough to take all of their rubbish, and lift the tax on chucking the rubbish into them?

But how would they then fund their exotic travel, and high salaries, and gold-plated pensions?—after all, there was barely enough money to pay for those as it was. But then, with the help of some very large environmental organisations, the government of the 500 million realised that they could have their cake and eat it...

The government of the 500 million decided that they could keep their tax on chucking rubbish into big holes—but get more money by also putting a tax on the rubbish that wasn't chucked into big holes!

And everyone lived happily ever after.*

* Apart from the poorest amongst the 500 million, who were made poorer—especially the disabled poor people who needed straws to drink through. But then these poor people didn't much like the government of the 500 million, and since the government of the 500 million wasn't elected anyway, the views of these poor people didn't really matter.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Cuban Health System

The Cuban Medical system.

Over at the ASI blog, Tim Worstall asks if the Cuban Health statistics are true.

I can't comment as to the statistical verisimilitude, but I can provide some perspective on the standard of care—via a junior doctor friend who was sent on elective in Cuba, in the first quarter of this year.

People may get treatment, but it is (to be understated) not good: my friend used phrases like "torture", "gynaecological violence", and "shocking filth".

Births are often "'induced' by violently finger-banging the mother"; she describes seeing a doctor "up to his elbow in a woman's vagina"; "c-sections performed, and sewn up, without any anaesthetic at all*"; and women "left in agony without even a paracetamol".

There are, really, no drugs at all beyond basic opiates, paracetamol, etc.—and doctors prefer to "wait and see" for days before prescribing even those: the preferred option is to see if the (literally) screaming patient has any family who will bring them painkillers first.

Many of the medical procedures and practices that we take for granted in civilised societies are dismissed as "Western propaganda" or "unproven lies".

So, having heard from someone first-hand about the Cuban medical system, I would say that the statistics are highly dubious: and, even if they are true, they hardly paint the whole picture—which would look like something painted by Hieronymus Bosch.

Incredibly, I have had arguments with stupid fucking socialists who extol the virtues of Cuba's medical system—useful idiots who uncritically cite WHO statistics whilst having no idea about the reality. These people are either ignorant or lying.

Be in no doubt that the Cuban medical system is—like everything else in that poverty-stricken shit-hole—an absolute fucking nightmare. But most enraging of all—as in the rather more recent cautionary tale of Venezuela—it is a nightmare built and maintained by precisely the kind of evil socialist shitbag who refuses to believe that hard socialism always and everywhere leads to poverty and oppression.

In other words, the kind of arsehole that supports that monkey Corbyn, and his organ-grinder McDonnell.

*EDIT: my junior doctor correspondent would like to add the following corrections and additions...
The reason the consultant had his arm inside the woman, as referenced above, was that he was scraping the placenta out.

Caesarean sections are performed with anaesthetic. What I saw was some episiotomies [essentially, cutting of the perineum to facilitate birth—Ed] without anaesthetic and no pain relief for their subsequent suturing. In this particular case, I had to hold a torch over the woman’s genitals whilst she writhed in pain and begged them to stop...

I mentioned paracetamol, not aspirin. I was told that paracetamol would give the patients liver failure. I argued that, at the prescribed dose, it would not: but they still do not use it.

The other case I found deeply disturbing was that of a woman, post Caesarean-section, who was lying prone in bed unable to move due to the agony of her surgical wound. She was the “let’s wait a day and see” patient. The doctors said that they would, after a day, “maybe consider tramadol.” She was crying and punching the wall with the pain. She had no TED stockings on and was unlikely to move due to the pain. This increased her risk of post operative blood clots! The medical students told me they were helpless and hated that they couldn’t give her anything. It was therefore up to her family to provide painkillers...

Oh, and BTW, you can have as much pain relief if you want. As long as you pay.

Finally, to quote a Cuban medical student: “we can do whatever we want. What are they going to do—sue us? It’s free heath care!”

So much for the socialist model the Cubans say is so fucking great...

I would point out that my junior doctor friend is very far from being the rabid anti-state healthcare libertarian that I am. But, after two months in Cuba, I think that I detect some slight disillusionment with the wonders of socialised medicine. This is, and particularly from a woman's perspective, the reality of healthcare in this benighted country.

Of course, if one is sent to Cuba on an elective shortly before starting a job in the UK (and one of her other options was Uganda), the NHS must seem like the best system in the entire fucking world. A fact that is, I am sure, entirely coincidental...

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Why can't the Tories PR?

Though they are not a party that your humble Devil whole-heartedly endorses, the various Tory governments since 2010 have not been entirely shit. They have, on the whole, taken actions that support their aims supporting people into work—and that allow more low-paid people to keep more of their own money.

Philip Hammond's recent article in the Telegraph spells some of this out very clearly—especially as regards income tax.
Today’s increase in the personal allowance means that everyone will pay less income tax. A basic rate taxpayer will pay £1,075 less income tax than they did in 2010.

And the benefits aren’t just for those of working age: from today, pensioners on the full basic state pension will receive an extra £180 a year; the threshold at which young adults start paying back their student loan will increase to £25,000.

And we are taking the next step to deliver our commitment that by 2020 parents will be able to pass on a home worth up to £1 million to their children without paying any inheritance tax.

But part of the problem that the Tories have had—not least in gaining a majority in the Commons—is that they are utterly crap at PR. They simply do not seem to be able to trumpet their achievements, whilst they encourage certain media outlets to focus only on perceived failures.

The cause of this is very easily understood once you have read Hammond's full article: three of last four paragraphs (in an article of only 19—that's nearly 16%) are dedicated to bashing Labour.

What idiot decided that was a good idea?

One assumes that it is someone who has never worked in the private sector. Let me explain why this approach is so stupid...

In the private sector, you never bash your competitors by name. Why?

Because if you name your competitors you not only acknowledge that you have competitors (rather than being the absolute best), but you also give your potential customers a name to search for—to see if they have a better offer.

Yes, you can downplay concepts: I work for a company that makes proprietary software, so we happily point out the downsides of Open Source—but we never cite specific companies who are deploying those solutions.*

So, the last four offending paragraphs are as follows:
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone – but it would all be at risk under Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, have announced plans that would see debt spiral to more than 100 per cent of GDP, leaving our economy vulnerable to shocks, forcing us to waste billions more on debt interest and handing the next generation an unmanageable burden.

Taxes on families and businesses would rise to their highest level in peacetime history – with ordinary working families left to pay the price.

Contrast that with the Conservative commitment to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in a future we can be proud of.

The last paragraph is fine, but the preceding ones are terrible. So, in the spirit of Open Source, let me rewrite these sections as I would do it and give it to any Conservatives reading...
In this way, we will build an economy that works for everyone—but not every political party takes the same view that we do.

It is a sad fact that previous governments’ over-spending means that simply paying the interest on our National Debt costs over £40 billion per year. This is more than the entire Defence budget, and almost as much as it costs to educate every child in the country.

We know that this debt has to be paid off. But there are many ways in which we can find the money to do so.

As Conservatives, we have chosen to concentrate on our core belief that hard work should be rewarded: that is why we have targeted our tax cuts to benefit the most needy and deserving in our society.

Many argue that recent Conservative governments do not care about the poor, but the actions that we have taken at the Treasury simply do not bear this out.

The simple fact is that this Conservative government is committed to building an economy fit for the future based on sustainably rising living standards, low taxes, falling debt and investment in the type of society that you have told us you want to see.

All of the main issues are addressed: the government strategy, the emphasis on work rather than benefits, the achievements of the government in taking less money from the poor, and addressing the democratic issue—brought into sharp focus by Brexit—that it is the voters' issues that matter.

At the same time, the phrase "previous governments" allows this government to take issue not only with Labour, but also the Coalition and the Cameron/Osborne government if it wished to do so.

And, I believe, that fundamentally the article is more positive—without mentioning the Labour Party once.

But, hey—I have no professional degree or qualification in PR: I would be interested in your thoughts...

* This is not dirty tricks: if we didn't believe that our own software was better, we wouldn't bother with the expense of a development team.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A certain degree of value

A student is suing her university, alleging that the course was crap. Quelle surprise!

But here is a lovely comment on the situation...
Amatey Doku, National Union of Students vice president for higher education, said the fact student complaints are becoming “increasingly common” proves the current system is not working.

“With fees now so high, and students accruing such unsustainable levels of debt, it is no wonder that some students feel they have no choice but to demand more from their courses, and to seek recourse if those standards are not met.

“This is an obvious consequence of government policy to transform Higher Education into a market, with students pushed into the role of consumers.”

Students have been "pushed into the role of consumers", eh? And they have "no choice but to demand more from their courses"?

So, what is the implication here?

It's pretty clear, I think: students were entirely happy to put up with crappy, "mickey mouse" degrees as long as someone else* was paying for it.

* i.e. the taxpayer.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Gunz! Shootz!

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

However.

Gun ownership per capita in the USA has remained consistent over the last 45 years.


On the other hand, the frequency of mass shootings has significantly increased—especially in the last 10–15 years [information about two thirds of the way down that article: graph reproduced below].


Instead of screaming about gun ownership, perhaps we should be asking what has changed to increase the prevalence of people who want to carry out these mass shootings...?*

Crazy idea, I know.

* And no, I don't have an answer. I have a few suspicions but, in the meantime, I look forward to opprobrium and the occasional sensible comment.

UPDATE: Squander Two was saying something similar some time ago. Do go and read the whole thing...

NGOs are learning from the master

As more NGOs—including Save the Children (for later) and the Dave Milipede-fronted International Rescue Committee—are embroiled in sex and corruption scandals in the wake of the Oxfam allegations, it is worth reminding ourselves that these organisations are simply learning from the true masters of pimping and child sex—the United Nations.
And the wonderful thing about the UN, you see, if that they are a pan-global organisation so that their staff pimping, blackmailing and fucking kids is not confined to any one area; they get to run their protitution rings on every continent (from May '06).
...

So, there you go: if you are a paedophile, just go and work for the UN and you too can not only fuck kids but actually get them to bring in a bit of cash too.

It's simply a case of "everyone else is doing it, so why can't we...?"

And, thanks to our government's funding, through taxation, of fake charities such as Oxfam, we can go to bed with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with having paid for child prostitutes.

On the bright side, Oxfam has said that it will stop bidding for government funding (for a bit).
Oxfam has said it will stop bids for Government funding until ministers are satisfied it can meet the “high standards” they expect.

The charity received £176m in government support last year.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said on Friday: “Oxfam has agreed to withdraw from bidding for any new UK Government funding until [the Department for International Development] is satisfied that they can meet the high standards we expect of our partners.”*

If we defund all of these thieving, child-fucking bastards, the government would probably be able to cut the deficit to zero within months.

Stop funding fake charities with our tax money—now!

* No, not sexual partners. Stop sniggering at the back there...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Justice for Grenfell

In order to try to keep up the general hysteria around the Grenfell Tower fire, a pointless group called Justice4Grenfell has pissed away well-meaning members' donations on a great big publicity stunt.
Group Justice 4 Grenfell hired three vans with adverts which read: "71 dead. And still no arrests? How come?"

Au contraire, there have been a number of arrests—and, indeed, convictions. How about this lady...?
A woman who made fraudulent claims for support offered to people affected by the Grenfell fire, has been charged with fraud.

Joyce Msokeri, 46 (17.02.71), of Ambleside Gardens, Sutton, will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates, Court, today, Tuesday, 5 September charged with six counts of fraud.

Msokeri was arrested on 25 July after making fraudulent claims for support being provided to the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire. She was charged on 4 September.

Or this gentleman...?
A serial fraudster has been jailed for 21 months after he pretended his wife and son were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in a “despicable” attempt to pocket £12,500 set aside for victims of the disaster.

I grant you that more arrests should have been made...
People who were unlawfully subletting flats in Grenfell Tower will not be prosecuted if they come forward with information about who was in their properties at the time of the deadly fire, the government has said.

The guidance has been issued amid fears that the threat of prosecution has prevented tenants coming forward to help identify people who were there on the night of the blaze but may not yet have been reported as missing.

Still, you can't have everything, eh...?
Tottenham MP David Lammy, whose friend, the artist Khadija Saye, died in the fire, has repeatedly questioned the official number of dead as “far, far too low” and said that “failure to provide updates of the true number that died is feeding suspicion of a cover-up”.

How would David Lammy know? This is a man so stupid that he can't count higher than ten without taking his socks off.

Given how much the public enquiry will inevitably cost the taxpayer, perhaps Justice4Grenfell should just shut the hell up and let the vastly overpaid panel get on with the enquiry.

Or, if they genuinely give a crap about "justice for Grenfell" use the donated monies to actually help people—rather than concocting pathetic publicity stunts.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The art of being wrong: Alison Saunders edition

Alison Saunders—Director of Public Prosecutions and unpleasant, incompetent fool.

After a string of collapsed rape trials caused by the police failing to properly examine the evidence, it is hardly surprising that the DPP and CPS are coming under a bit of pressure.

As such, it is only right that the DPP should pop out from under her rock, and reassure the public that the criminal justice system isn't completely fucked. Unfortunately, this is Alison Saunders that we're talking about so [for it is she—Ed], naturally, she completely screwed it up in a January 18th interview.
Britain’s most senior prosecutor has claimed that no innocent people are in prison because of failures to disclose vital evidence, despite admitting there is a “systemic issue”.
As the article points out in the very next paragraph, there was at least one innocent person in prison because of these failures.
One man had his rape conviction overturned last month after serving four years in prison. Judges said Danny Kay would not have been found guilty if previously unseen Facebook conversations were shown to jurors.
But let's be generous to Saunders and assume that she meant, since this chap has been released, there are no innocent people in prison because of these failures right at this very moment.
Critics dismissed Alison Saunders’ assurance as “impossible” as they follow the collapse of several high-profile rape cases which were undermined by phone messages and pictures uncovered by lawyers.
Well, indeed—as yesterday's Daily Mail highlighted.
A teenager suspected of rape spent three months in custody because police did not disclose text messages that proved his innocence, he has claimed.

BT engineer Connor Fitzgerald, 19, was arrested last year after a complaint was made against him.

But charges were dropped only last week when it emerged that the complainant, who is entitled to lifelong anonymity, had sent texts threatening to destroy him.
But what can Alison say in her defence?
Samson Makele's legal team said police had downloaded the entire contents of the 28-year-old's phone but failed to fully examine it.

Ms Saunders appeared to lay part of the blame on his defence team.

"The suspect must have known he took photographs, that could have been raised very early," she said.

She added: "How would anyone have known there were photographs there until the defence told us that they were there?”
How indeed, Alison. And, of course, this being such an important point, it does seem really very unlikely that the defendant wouldn't have raised this with the arresting police force. So one is led to wonder what the police force did with this information. Well, we know the answer: they did bugger all.

The trouble is that Alison has form on this issue, issuing guidelines—and publishing opinion pieces—which are aimed (as far as is practicable in a civilised country) at reversing the burden of proof in rape cases. And we are now seeing the disastrous fruits of her labour—women making false or malicious rape claims with, in the vast majority of cases, absolutely no repercussions.

One of the few legitimate roles of the state is to provide a functioning criminal justice system. It is becoming rather obvious that these unsafe rape trials are severely undermining public confidence in said justice system.

So, here is your humble Devil's recipe to rectify the problem:
  1. in every single case (such as the one below), where the accusation is malicious or obviously false, the accuser must be prosecuted for perjury and, if convicted, given the maximum appropriate sentence (but a minimum of imprisonment);
  2. the head of the CPS, Alison Saunders, must be summarily sacked (and preferably prosecuted for Misconduct in Public Office);
  3. every police officer who has failed to disclose evidence should be named, publicly sacked, and prosecuted;
  4. the lawyers who failed their clients in not insisting on full evidential disclosure should be severely, and publicly, censured;
  5. for a limited period, and where perjury has been proven, provide Legal Aid for civil cases of slander, so that the accused can take the accuser to the fucking cleaners;
  6. the current imbalance in anonymity policy in rape cases must be removed: justice must be done, and be seen to be done.
Do this urgently, so that we can restore faith in the criminal justice system.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

John Sentamu: a bit of an embarrassment to an omniscient god, frankly

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York: the kind of man who illustrates why a god might rain death and destruction upon the Earth.

The main problem with the Church of England—other than the fact that no one actually attends the services, donates money, or gives a fuck about whatever say-fairy bollocks it is wittering on about today—is that its representatives are so fucking stupid and pig-ignorant that they make the Middle Ages look like the Enlightenment. I mean, what institution could possibly preserve its reputation when chiefly represented by arch-beta Justin Welby...?

However, prat though Welby might be, he has been eclipsed this week by the barn-storming ignorance of John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. Now, generally, if one is completely ignorant, one might avoid the press in general: unfortunately, there are none so blind to their own stupidity as the truly ignorant, as evidenced by Sentamu indulging in a Grauniad interview (via Longrider).
“Income inequality is the cause of all our trouble. Inequality leads to huge social problems,” he said.
...

Referring to a 2009 book, The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, Sentamu said: “You can only build a wall if the spirit level is absolutely straight. At the moment, our spirit level is going the other way, so our walls aren’t straight, and all our attitudes, our behaviours, our cultures are warped. The book says we should not concentrate too much on growth at the expense of equality. More equal societies are happier societies.”
There is absolutely no evidence for this assertion at all. This book, that purported to "prove" this kind of assertion, has been comprehensively debunked—not least by Christopher Snowdon in The Spirit Level Delusion.

People were pretty equal under Communism: so tell me, Archbishop, were people frolicking and dancing in the sunlit fields of the USSR, Communist China, and Cambodia? No. I mean, lots of people were in fields under those regimes: there were plenty of people above, enslaved in a subsistence lifestyle on collective farms; the others were mainly below ground, in mass graves.

Leaving aside the evils of Communism for a second, part of the problem is that, in surveys, most people don't really care about inequality: well, they might say that they do, but they don't care enough to actually do anything about it.

Which is a bit of a problem for the dear Archbishop's next nugget.
People who are willing to pay more tax towards health, education and social care should be able to do so through voluntary, hypothecated payments, John Sentamu told the Guardian.
...

Sentamu also pointed to a 2017 British Social Attitudes survey, which found 48% of respondents favoured higher taxes to pay for more spending on health, education and social benefits. Only 4% said they wanted taxes to be cut, and 44% said tax rates should stay the same.

“If citizens are willing to pay more, there needs to be a mechanism to do so. I call it top-up,” said Sentamu.

People were worried that higher taxes would be absorbed into general government spending. “The government should say it would guarantee that these tax increases will go towards health, education and social care. There’s no reason why it can’t be done.”
Here's the thing, Johnnie-boy: there already is a mechanism for doing this. You simply write a cheque to HMRC, and post it to: The Treasury, 1 Horseguard's Road, London. And yes: you can specify what you wish your donation to be spent on.

And via Tim Worstall, the government's Debt Management Office even publish a report on how many people actually donate every year. Despite the many thousands of people clamouring for more tax—and assuring us sceptics that they themselves would just luuuurve to hand over more to the state—the numbers are not very impressive.

It's almost as though Revealed Preference was a real thing, eh...?

On other topics, it is implied that Sentamu also praises Oxfam's recent click-bait wealth report.
An Oxfam report showed that 42 individuals in the world hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of the global population. Nearly three-quarters of people in the UK want the government to urgently address the income gap, a survey for the charity found.
It's a pity, then, that this report contains such basic—or mendacious—definitions as to render it wrong at best (and both wrong and deeply dishonest at worst). After all, Oxfam is the fake charity that declared, in a 2010 blog post, that:
"... Venezuela certainly seems to be getting something right on inequality."
Yes, indeed. Venezuela is, indeed, far more equal than it used to be (although it's not ideal if you are a pet rabbit—although eating nothing but rabbit carries its own problems)—and for the same reasons as in Communist Russia, China's Great Leap Forward, etc. See above.

Sentamu is doing pretty badly here; but wait—he has some medical wisdom to dispense!
A resurgence in cases of scarlet fever, which recently hit a 50-year high, illustrated growing inequality and malnutrition. The disease, which was a common cause of death in children in Victorian times, “had been wiped out and is now re-emerging in poor communities. Hello, what is going on here?”
Well, let's ask the NHS, shall we?—by referencing their summary of the relevant report:
The researchers conclude: “England is experiencing an unprecedented rise in scarlet fever with the highest incidence for nearly 50 years. Reasons for this escalation are unclear and identifying these remains a public health priority.”
...

Therefore, though this is a definite rise in cases we don't currently know the reasons.
The reason that scarlet fever was "a common cause of death in children in Victorian times"—although far less common than a very great number of other things—is quite simple: the Victorians did not have antibiotics.

Now look: I have to assume that John Sentamu believes in a sky-fairy (although this is not actually a given with religious officers these days—especially in the Church of England) so I am not expecting great powers of reasoning from him. However, I think that he has really excelled himself here: the blinkered worldview, philosophical and economic ineptitude, rank stupidity, and screaming ignorance displayed in this interview are almost supernatural—perhaps, indeed, he has been possessed by a three-day-old cowpat.

Your humble Devil is sure that we must all be in hell—because having to endure the witterings of this fucking fool are, truly, torturous.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Trump tax

So, Trump and the Republicans enacted the "most drastic changes to US tax code in 30 years". Inevitably, some Leftard protesters made themselves look completely loopy through the use of ludicrous hyperbole.
As the vote occurred, activists in the press gallery shouted “Kill the bill, don’t kill us”.
Idiots.

Anyway, so what has actually happened? Well, it's a big and complicated law but one of the main features is the reduction of Federal Corporation Tax—from around 35% to 21%. So, some companies have already started offering pay awards to their workers a a result.

Further, Apple is now repatriating a massive amount of their overseas cash, leading to the largest tax bill payment ever—a cool $38 billion. In reporting this, The Grauniad makes a very bold assertion... [Emphasis mine—DK]
The company, which has faced international criticism for its tax evasion policies, also said it would spend $30bn in the US over the next five years, creating 20,000 new jobs.
Tax evasion? Apple is deliberately and illegally evading paying tax?

As Sir Humphrey might say, that's a very brave assertion.

Anyway, so far, I think that we can chalk up these tax reforms as a win for Trump.

A rubbish fairytale

Inspired by this photo, delivered to your humble Devil's Facebook timeline... And the government of 500 million of those 8 billion pe...