May 31, 2006


An interesting blog from even further into the realms of Anarcho-Capitalism than me. This was a nice article on poverty:
What is it that characterises poverty in the west? We have seen that it is not a shortage of calories. Food is available at a wide range of prices. Nor is it a shortage of transport. Cars are available at many prices, and there is a flourishing second hand market. In some urban areas such as London and New York people choose not to have cars, because the roads are congested and there are alternative ways to travel. But that is not a symptom of poverty – rich people make that choice too. There are low cost airline tickets and cheap cell phones. Poor people have televisions and washing machines.

What is it that they don’t have? They don’t have good schools. They don’t have police protection. They don’t have decent housing. They don’t have proper healthcare. In fact, while they have everything that the private sector provides, they entirely lack the things that government has either taken over completely or seeks to provide to poor people.

knife crime

There has been quite a bit on the news recently about crimes involving knives. including the nationwide knife amnesty, an eye catching initiative in the New Labour style. And completely useless, which even the police admitted after the most recent stabbing
"[The amnesty] was a waste of time because at the end of the day if you want to stab someone you only have to go into a kitchen and get a knife out of the drawer."
There is a reason for the increasing number of people arming themselves with knives, it is very simple and illustrated by Wat Tyler.
# Serious wounding- offences have quadrupled since 1980, but conviction rate has slumped from 30% to less than 10%
# Robbery- offences have quadrupled since 1980, but conviction rate has slumped from 23% to 9%
Kinfe carriers are afraid of being attacked, and know full well that if they are they are on their own there will be no police around to protect them.

I hate saying this but 50 years ago if you saw a bunch of kids openly walking around with knives then you would probably not feel any fear of them, as they would probably have been the local Boy Scouts. Today they certainly wouldn't be in any organised group to stop them getting bored, and will probably be carrying for their own protection, a few might even be out to hurt you. Either way there is nothing that will protect you except for arming yourself, and hence the cycle grows.

The solution is simple, and it isn't tough sentences or banning knives. Simply get more police onto the streets so that people don't feel that the only thing protecting them is them and whatever they are carrying. Unless we get the police to do their job and protect us then people will protect themselves, and that will mean getting increasingly tooled up. However where the police doing what they where founded to do and protecting the public then there would be no need to carry a knife or any other kind of weapon.

Tax credits are failing ... again

Tax credits have been overpaid ... again. To the tune of about £2 billion ... again. Meaning that the poorest people in the country are going to have to find thousands of pounds to pay back the tax man ... again. And as always this is just coming from the people that have claimed them, not the people that could claim but are scared off by the prospect of overpayment and being forced to hand the money back to the treasury, or the people that simply could not get though the massive forms to try and get them.

They don't work, they are over complicated, they end up hurting the people they should be helping, they create disincentives for people to try and help themselves. Tax credits need to be scrapped. Bring in a personal allowance large enough so that people in (relative) poverty are not paying income tax.

summer carbecues

The sun is shining so what could be better for a pleasant summer than a few carbecues? Well unless it's your car. Once again the french sink estates are going up in flames. No mention that most of them will be Muslim north africans. Just as there is no mention that the people that forced a couple into hiding for the terrible crime of marrying for love, rather than entering into a loveless marriage for duty are being persecuted by Muslims. Enough hints, but no actual mention. Either Islamic violence is now so understood it doesn't have to be explicitly mentioned, or the journalists and their organisation are afraid of the inevitable death threats that come from pointing out the inadequacies of Islam. Probably the later. Even the EU is bowing to them and has set forth plans to stop free speach on religious matters, a move triggered by the Islamic violence fermented by Imams in Demark over the Motoons.

May 30, 2006

With outsiders eyes

Living in the UK it could be that I cannot clearly see the society that I am part of. So it is nice that to be able to get an outsiders view. Over the weekend I was at the house of a friend who helps teach English, and amougst his pupils are Polish immigrants. For one pupil he asked that she write an essay on how her views on the UK have changed while working here as an excercise in writing English. Here is an extract:
English young people don’t have good examples and the swaps a relationship for TV, computers and playstations. The majority of them don’t want to learn. The level of common knowledge is dreadful. How is it possible that they don’t know where Poland is? A possible cause is that nothing is required from them when everything they want is given to them on a plate, they need make no effort at all to get anything.

A ‘social duvet’ where people get money for nothing makes them lazy. They don’t respect work because life in this country is possible without it. It’s amazing that such a big economically powerful country which has the power to change the face of the world, can let itself waste so big a part of the national budget for people who have chosen an easy comfortable existence without anything themselves.

May 26, 2006

hostage to fortune

A good politician does not leave hostages to fortune, so it is rather odd that John Reid has claimed that he can fix the Home Office in 100 days. Either he knows that the number of stories is going to fall dramatically (unlikely) or that he really can get the all-consuming monster under control in that time (impossible, unless he plans to demolish it). Or he has just made a major political mistake.

Religion is stupid

Now backed up by numbers. There is a strong negitive corolation between Religiosity and intelegence, and between Religiosity and wealth.

May 25, 2006

dirty sneeks

Apparently some people don't want you to be allowed to decide for yourself what you wear in your own garden. Pathetic. There is this story in the Telegraph. Morien Jones a dirty voyeur neighbour of 55 year old Lynett Burgess became so distressed about watching Miss Burgess choosing to sunbath naked though the zoom lens of his video camera that he called the police about her, and they prosecuted! But I guess it must be much easier to go after a naked old woman peacefully sunbathing in her own garden than a burgler or mugger. H/T The Englishman

Peter Tatchell on human rights in Russia

Peter Tachell has an interesting article in the Gaurdian about Russian capitulation to threats of violence from religious groups about a gay pride march in celebration of the legalisation of homosexuality. He uses this to highlight the way that country is sliding back into autocracy and away from the rule of law and respect for human rights. The excuse used by the Russians is that they might not be able to protect the march
This, of course, begs the question: if the Russian authorities cannot ensure the security of a few hundred gay rights protesters, how on earth are they going to ensure the security of the G8 leaders who will soon be meeting in St Petersburg?
exactly, so then the real reason comes out.
He argued that gays and lesbians are regarded very negatively by the Russian population, especially by religious believers.

"Therefore," Kulikov said, "all public expressions (by gays and lesbians) must be banned ... They violate our rights. We have our traditions, lots of religious groups told us that they were against this gay pride."
Obviously he read any Russian translations of Orwell yet.

In many countries religious minorities where traditionally forced to wear distinctive badges, live in segregated ghettos, banned from practicing their faiths, or even killed. That does not make these actions right. Freedom means that you are able to be, do, think, and say what you like so long as it does not cause harm to anyone else.

Also interesting is the explosion of homophobia from the commenters who seem to want Mr Tachell to stop campaigning for universal human rights (luckily there is no chance of that happening), and would prefer gay people to just creep back into the closet.

May 24, 2006

Why do we need big government?

Since it isn't really possible to argue that a big government is good for economic performance, at least not without getting laughed at, but what about non-economic performance? Does a big government help peoples general well-being? Well actually it isn't that great at that either according to some research.
First, a group of Swiss and Danish researchers from the WIF Institute of Economic Research in Zurich looked at whether government involvement in the economy is conducive to life satisfaction across 74 countries. The results show that life satisfaction actually decreases with higher government spending. This negative impact of the government is stronger in countries with a left-leaning median voter. It is alleviated by government effectiveness - but, crucially, only in countries where the state sector is already small. In general, a one standard deviation increase in government spending yields a median decrease of 4.42 percent in self-reported satisfaction by the voters, a drop in the degree of economic competition of 4.17 percent and a shift in voter preferences in rightward ideological direction of 4.15-9 percent.
OK so it might not be bad for general economic growth, and not exactly great for general happiness and wellbeing. How about social issues that is the particualar bug bear of the authoritarian right. Are a set of government sanctioned moral guard-rails needed? The 90's saw what the authoritarian right often saw as a wave of unexceptable liberalism, such as on gay rights, and an explosion in access to what they would consider the most harmful information most in need of censorship thanks to the unregulated nature of the internet. This invention has allowed a massive explosion in access to everything that the moral authoritarians consider harmful. So obviously if a set of government sanctioned moral guidelines are needed then we should see something happening, and happening especially in countries where there is the most access to the corrupting influance of the internet. And there have been some definite trends, just not the ones that a moral authoritarian would expect.
Teen pregnancy is down. Juvenile crime is down. Crimes against children are down. Incidence of rape is down. Overall crime is down. Divorce is down. Teens are waiting longer to have sex. High school dropouts are down. There are fewer abortions. Life expectancy in America continues to reach all-time highs. Unemployment remains low.

Pick a statistic. Odds are, it’s moving in the correct direction.

Oddly enough, all of these trends have been improving since at least the early-to-mid-1990s, the very period over which the family values crowd has been decrying the “coarsening of American culture.” ...

So what gives? Seems to me that technology, relaxed public attitudes, and consumer choice have given Americans more lifestyle freedom over the last 15 years than we’ve ever had before. Yet not only is our national moral fabric not unraveling, it appears to be as durable and fibrous as it’s ever been.

So why exactly do we need more moral guardrails from the government aimed at restricting behavior?

(Interestingly, the one trend that hasn’t significantly declined over the last 15 years — or at least hasn’t receded as quickly as the others — is drug use. And that’s the one vice the government has been most aggressive about policing.)

Religion is stupid

If you are attempting a pagan religious ritual that involves burning an aweful lot of stuff won't it be stupid to do it inside your flat where it is likely to get a bit out of control and could end up endangering yourself and everybody else in the block? Well yes it would, and could get you three years in jail.

permanent vegetative state

An insomnia drug is able to help people in a permanent vegetative state, which is really good news even if the effect is only temporary. It is beleived to work because it would normally effect the areas of the brain that are now dead, but since they are no longer there it triggers other areas into action that are capable of replicating the dead areas for short periods of time (4 hours or so). Hopefully in time as what is happening is better understood the time will be extended. Clock up another result for the evil drugs companies.

ID Cards and idenity theift

If anybody out there even considers that the ID Card database will not become an one-stop-shop for idenity thieft, one of the very things that is being used as an excuse for it's creation, have a look here:
Personal data on 26.5 million veterans fell into the hands of criminals when a laptop and computer disks were stolen from a government official who had taken the information home without permission. The data contains the name, date of birth and social security number of everyone discharged from the American Armed Forces since 1975.
People are falible so things like this will happen, but when they do the best way to minimise the effect is to have effect the records of as few people as possible. Which means many seperate databases with only the data that they really need for their specific purpose. Not a single giant database of everything on everybody.

May 23, 2006

Utterly nuts conspiracy

For the conspiracy theorists out there, this has got everything. World wide conspiracy, check. Strange religious overtones, check (and it's the Catholic Church as well, an added bonus if you want some no risk controversy to help hype things up). Way off the mainstream radar, check. Likely to be ridiculed if it gets onto the mainstream radar (proving, of course, that the 'establishment' is scared of the truth coming out), check. Utterly, utterly nuts, check.

What is not to like about a conspiracy where the Catholic Church makes up three centuries of history? Other than it's barking. But who cares about that, incorporate it into a page turning puzzle novel and you should be able to make a fortune.


The computer says no. That is if these centuries where made up then they would not fit with records of astronomical observations. Or it could be that the astronomical observations are forgeries and a part of the conspiracy along with everything else.

Alternatives in the NHS

A GROUP of Britain’s leading doctors has urged every NHS trust to stop paying for alternative medicine and to use the money for conventional treatments.
depending on your level of cynicism there are several reason as to why the NHS would pay for them in the first place.

level 1: Naivety
They really do beleive that there is something too alternative therapy. It's like in tune with nature, bring out the crystals and hug a tree man.

level 2: Publicity
Well all that touchy feely stuff gives us a good photo op, and the patients seem to like it (until they stop coming for appointments for some reason).

level 3: Stinginess
Tap water costs less than actual medicine, and the NHS is underfunded so this is a great way to cut costs so we can pay for more managers.

level 4: Malevolence
So some of them die off, well that will shorten the waiting lists. Can't have all those sick people cluttering up a nice new hospital can we?

To give New Labour it's due it (and the Prince of Wales) are probably at level 1: Naivety. For example Cherie (despite being a highly paid Barrister and probably smarter than her husband) is known to consult her new age guru. If this was an insurance based system and people where choosing to pay for these treatments themselves directly out of their own money then it would be fine. But with the NHS structured as it is providing alternative treatments means that it does not have as many resources to provide treatments that actually work. And remember that is the deinition of alternative therapy, a treatment that is not known to work. When something is proven scientifically to work it stops being alternative medicine and becomes simply medicine.

political realignment

I have posted many times that there is a realignment of politics going on, and has been going on since the fall of the Berlin Wall made large chunks of what was the Left uninhabitable. Today David Aaronovitch covers this in the Times and attempts to try and define this emerging split
Progressives, who exist in most parties, tend to believe that there are no walls that can keep the rest of the world out, and that it is counterproductive — immoral even — to try. We tend to believe in interdependence, and that what happens on the other side of the globe is our affair. We tend to believe in the open exchange of capital, ideas and people. We tend to believe — as India proves — that liberal democracy is not some kind of Western model that cannot be exported, but the best way of allowing human beings a say in their own government. We tend to believe in progress towards a fulfilling and equal existence for men and women, without arbitrary barriers. We tend to believe that scientific and technical progress can usually be harnessed for the benefit of humankind.
I don't say the new split as it is rather old an old one. Since this is really just a re-emergence of the old liberal/conservative split from before the century where socialism, in all it's forms, dominated the political debate.

May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Conspiracy

Despite being critically panned as two and a haft hours of dross The Da Vinci Code has made $224 million worldwide in one weekend, which it would certainly have not made had it not been hyped so much by the Catholic Church. So perhaps the real conspiracy behind it is, does the Vatican own shares in Sony Pictures?

Death Threats

Noted Open Source advocate Eric Raymond has recieved a death threat from an Islamist,

who could have at least run it through a spell checker first.

May 19, 2006


Imagine a country with frequent public executions for moral crimes. Where everybody has to, by law, wear a uniform. A country where certain religious groups, Jews, have to wear special badges. A country that is trying to get nuclear weapons, and has pledged to wipe one of it's neighbours off the map. A nightmare isn't it? Couldn't possibly happen? It is all happening, in Iran.


I'll put this here as well as on Mat's blog. I was feed a line (along with what seems like most of the internet), the requirement to wear a badges denoting religion seems to have been a hoax. My bad.

RIPA awakes

One of the first pieces of legislation where New Labour really got into it's authoritarian stride was the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act enacted in early 2000 after heated debate in 1999. This terrible piece of legislation gave the State the right to secretly intercept all peoples communications, it forced ISPs into being their unwilling informants, it meant that if anyone telling you that your communications where being tapped was a criminal offense. It meant that you telling anyone that your communications where being tapped was a criminal offense. One of it's most controversial elements was to do with cryptography.

This mean that if you had any encrypted material on your hard disk you had to hand over all the keys if they where demanded. It was up to you to prove that you where unable to if that was the case, reversing the normal burden of proof. An example of what problems this could cause; if I sent you an encrypted file containing some secret data, Polly Toynbee's salary for example, but forget to send you the password then you will have some encrypted data on your hard disk. Since it is useless without the password you delete it and forget the incident. Now here is the rub, it is still on your hard disk. In windows, many Linux distros, or the standard Mac OS X delete function[1] when a file is deleted the data is not removed just the index of where it is held. So now you are liable to a five year prison sentence for something completely innocent, and it is up to you to prove that you are innocent. This part of the Act was not activated strait away but has laid dormant for six years. Until now.

These powers will of course be used only against the most heinous of criminals such or so we where assured back when they where being created, so it is rather disconcerting that New Labour also chooses today as the day to release some more eye catching initiatives such as
Police intelligence records could be opened to frontline council workers under a draft plan being considered by Downing Street.
So the extremely heinous crimes that needed the extensive violations of privacy and a reversal of the burden of proof incorporated in RIPA would include littering then?

Spyblog has a more detailed account of this terrible legislation, as well as New Labour's latest piece of authoritarian horror as it grinds its way towards the statute books.

[1]Use the Secure Delete option, it's slower but this really does delete the data so as to make it unrecoverable.

EU censorship

Remember the twat Blair trying to use the EU as a democracy bypass mechanism to get his ID Cards scheme? Well they are perfectly capable of producing crappy, authoritarian, free speech attacking regulations of their own. They want to censor the internet, hasn't anyone told the fuckers that it won't work? Of course according to them it is not trying to shaft free speech, it is for our protection. Think of the children!

There is one, small, concession whether something is acceptable or not will be judged by the country that it is produced in. Not much of a concession with New Labour around and itching to attack some more liberties. Since Parliament cannot stop EU legislation once it has been decided, even if they wanted to (which they won't), you can expect New Labour to take this as a golden opportunity to get all in as much censorship as they can, while shifting the blame onto Brussels. When this comes out of Whitehall the bureaucunts will have more lead plating on it than the roof of a fucking cathedral.

So I just thought I should get all my swearing in now before the badger banging shit munchers try to ban it.


An interesting article by Bruce Schneier on privacy in Wired. Mr Schneier is the creator of the Two Fish encryption algorythm that got into the final five short list for what was to become the Advanced Encryption Standard, the replacement for the Data Encryption Standard. He knows his stuff, and he says:
Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.
He also makes a point similar to that of Whitfield Diffie, one of the co-inventors of Public Key Cryptography, all the way back in 1993:
No right of private conversation was enumerated in the constitution. I don't suppose it occurred to anyone at the time that it could be prevented.
At the time privacy was protected by the laws of physics, if you wanted a private conversation you would just go away from where people might be listening and talk quietly. Being able to talk and act privately is just as important to free speach as to be able to talk publicly.
Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

life permits

Can this be real, a US city requires people to get a permit in order to live there? What a truely horrible thought. That this statist nonsense is being used to penalise people that do not conform to the stereotype of the happy family is not exactly a surprise, in all authoritarian regimes the different cannot be tolerated.

Policing the Raj

Samizdata commenter guy herbert has discovered a list of the New Labour Nine Principals of Policing can't have anything from before Day Zero in New Britian
* Police must make people show respec', so messy activities won't be permitted.

* The degree of co-operation of the public depends on the arbitrary availability of physical force.

* Police seek and preserve public favour by pandering to noisy public opinion, and cultivating press contacts to ensure celebrity suspects have their names blackened in the papers and a proper fearfulness is promoted.

* Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of powers of summary search and seizure do not meet with immediate submission.

* Police, at all times, should be sure the public is aware of their special status as guardians; they are, after all, a privileged arm of the state, with unusual immunity from petty laws such as motoring regulations.

* Police should always endeavour to comment on cases before and after any judicial conclusion; their opinions ought to have special consideration in determining what the law should be.

* The test of police effectiveness is the adherence to Home Office activity targets and prime-time documentary footage, not any absence of crime and disorder thet might call into doubt the need to increase police numbers and powers.
But on a more serious note The Englishman points out a strange difference between England and Scotland. In England the forces are being merged, with a loss of 25000 officers, and to sustained protests from the police forces themselves. North of the border they are being split as they are currently too big to be efficient at preventing crime, but if the same policy was followed in Scotland as England they would all be merged into a single force.

May 18, 2006

Religion is stupid

They where so close. They didn't like the Turkish head scarf ban, so a court case was brought the arguments where put forward and a judgement given on the merits of the case. Then they shot up the judge as they didn't like the judgement.
The attacker chanted, “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) and Islamist slogans as he sprayed bullets across the courtroom, wounding five of the six people present before he was arrested by police guards.
So close, just drop that last stage and I think they might finally gain entry to the twentieth century.

EU constitution

After a year to think about it appears that public sentiment against the EU constitution has hardened. Yet the zombie treaty still rolls on being ratified in the countries where it will not be put to the people.

blame the Tories

New Labour has a massive immigration problem. Their solution? Blame it on the Tories. In power for nine years and that is the best they can come up with, they had better realise that they cannot simply continue to try and shift the blame to anyone else but themselves.

blair gets a clue

Blair has finally done something right. Or at least he is thinking of doing something right. He appears to want nuclear power as part of the supply to the national grid. Good, nukes are the best way of providing sustainable sustained power to the grid, if there are going to be renewables at all on the grid then there has to be something there to pick up the slack when the wind doesn't blown, the surf isn't up, or the sun isn't shining. Which is a lot of the time. Most of the renewables have this problem, they are intermittent and unreliable as a power source:

Windmills are very intermittent, I go to Cornwall quite often and the windmills there seem to be idle far more than they are working. Wind power is so intermittent that you have a reserve of capacity equivalent to 80% of what they generate. Which means a set of fossil fuel plants running constantly, but not always putting any of that power into the grid.

  • Wave power, better than wind but still intermittent. This can be seen by a stroll along the footpaths around Torbay where you will find that on many days the entire bay is flat as a pancake.
  • Geothermal. It's great, if you live over a plate boundry. Which we don't.
  • Solar furnaces. Requires direct sunlight, any cloud cover at all and the power output falls though the floor.
  • Photovoltic cells will take any photons that you care to fire at them, but that still doesn't change the fact that peak demand is between 5 and 7 pm during winter. When it is dark.
  • Biomass can not scale up to be a major contributor.

This just leaves hydroelectric, tidal, and nucleur fission as able to currently provide the kind of continous power that is needed for an industrial society if you exclude fossil fuels. Renewables cannot supply reliable power, like Peter Glover I wonder how long they will continue to praise them if they where the only power source:
The environmentalists would soon go quiet once the blackouts, failure of cold water, cold houses and aged deaths started to occur under their crackpot schemes.
Some of them, the ones that are more anti-people than pro-enviroment, quite a while. But if you actually don't like mass death then pure renewables simply isn't an option and nukes must be part of the mix. Enviromentalists such as James Lovelock put forward the pro-people view with a summary of his arguements here.

The anti-nuke people will also always bring up the bogey man of Chernobyl, ignoring that it was caused by the way it was run and modern reactors can be intrinsically safe. They always claim that there where tens of thousands of deaths when actually there where:
fewer than 50 deaths directly attributable to radiation, most of them among emergency workers who died in the first months after the accident.

The next line of defence is the waste, which they claim will be radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Actually it will take only 3,000 years for any waste is no more radioactive than the ore it came from. We know that humans can build structures capable of lasting that long, or longer, as we have already built some.

AFter this the fall back position is subsidies and to claim that nuclear power will need them when they don't need massive subsidies just a properly constucted carbon market. For this argument they will always fail to mention that all non-fossil fuel power currently needs subsidy, including their windmills, because of how cheap fossil fuel power is.

May 17, 2006

Religion is stupid

I blogged a couple of days ago about Indian Christians staging a peaceful (if stupid) protest against the fictional Da Vinci Code being fiction. At least they only wanted to kill themselves, not anybody else. However Jesus is also a prophet of Islam, and so some Muslims have stated that they are prepared to undertake violent protests to get it banned.

Minister smoked pot

Apparently the new minister for drugs policy has admitted smoking cannabis, I guess that I should be upset by the hypocracy of his having dabbled in drugs and now running the British end of the stupid war on drugs. But I'm not. Having Smoked pot does not make him a degenerate, it makes him like most of the people that he represents. So can we now get rid of this stupid drugs policy and legalise the damn stuff?

New Labour isn't working

The thing that New Labour always mentions when it harps on about is how good it is is how it has reduced relative poverty, however actually it hasn't. Relative poverty has risen under New Labour according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
the IFS says that if household spending is measured instead, then over the same period of time the poverty rate rose from 20% to 22%.

Using spending as a measure, the IFS also finds that the poverty rate among children increased by 11% during that time, compared to the government's assessment that child poverty, measured by income, fell by 15%.
They haven't done anything about that other Labour touchstone income equality either
Official figures (table 27 of this pdf) show that in 2004-05, the Gini coefficient for post-tax incomes was 36%, and the 90th percentile of people had disposable incomes 4.1 times those of the 10th percentile. Though both numbers are slightly lower than in 1996-97 (38% and 4.4), they are exactly the same as those in 1987.
Or how about the NHS, New Labour have blasted it with money and yet waiting times are still so long that people are willing to go to a different country to get treated (and now have the legal right to recoupe the money, which is good as they did pay for treatment from the NHS even if it was unable to deliver). Other countries being completely without waiting lists as they use a multi-payer multi-provider system and teh market to ration services rather than the centralised Socialist edifice that is the NHS. However throwing money at a bad system was never going to make it better, as is illustrated by Scotland. Scotland recieves far more from taxpayers than England and yet the outcomes are hardly different at all, because the systems are wrong.

May 16, 2006

The Euro collapse

Back before the introduction of the Euro sceptics argued that it could never survive without political integration. Many of the Euro proponents said that this wasn't true, that it was just a way of reducing transaction costs and increasing free trade. Turns out they where wrong according to Paul de Grauwe, professor of economics at the University of Leuven in Belgium and an adviser to EU Commission President Mr Barroso
"I think that in the long run, without a political union, the eurozone just will not hold; there will be too much conflict, too much tension between the different member states and in the end, some countries will want to pull out," he says.

"In fact, I can be even more explicit: if we do not move forward at a political level, then it's quite sure the euro will collapse."
The pro-Euro argument was exactly the same as was used to get the UK into the EEC as it was then in the first place. That it was just a free trade agreement. That turned out to be false as well since "40 per cent of new regulation comes from Europe" (at least) there is definantly a large political element to the EU.

May 15, 2006


It appears that the Islamist Mullah who fermented the Motoons riots (in which several people died) with a faked up dosier has scuttled off out of Demark. The Danes obviously didn't understand their Dhimmi status and how they must bow to the wishes of the Islamist minority that they host (at great expense).

May 14, 2006

Help the poor, abolish the Welfare State

A very good post on the Welfare State by A Very British Dude showing up the perverse incentives that it brings due to being based on the doctrine of 'to each according to his need'. He then gives an example of housing where the unfairness created by the creed of 'to each according to his need' comes sharply into focus.
In housing the situation where the more catastrophically you mess your life up, the higher up the housing list you go should be seen as the perverse incentive it is. It is also manifestly unfair to the hard working families who are pushed aside, creating a sense of indignation amongst the people who are trying to better themselves, often in desperate circumstances who see people with no personal responsibility jumping ahead of them in the queue for adequate housing.
The Welfare State is hugely expensive way of trapping people into lives so much less than their potential:
In 2001, the police and Judiciary cost £20 billion, defence £25 Billion, Education £44 billion, health £53 billion. Social Security cost a staggering £101 billion - and the grasping presbyterian bastard in no.11 has subsequently increased welfare spending.

this was 11% of GDP and something like 40% of government managed expenditure.
Or to put it another way, at the start of the twentieth century the government ate roughly 10% of UK GDP in total, and had the largest fleet in the world. Larger than the next two put together. Today social security alone eats 11% of GDP, and our fleet is barely strong enough to defend the home islands. And for this enforced generosity what do we get?
after 3 generations of welfare, there is a section of society - the underclass - who have never worked, know no-one who works and more than likely will never work.

May 13, 2006

Google Trends

Well Google Trends can certainly show up what some people's new years resolutions were.

Bad Boy King! Go to your room!

The Boy King of the Conservative Party has called for the repeal of the Human Rights Act, which would be a bad thing.

Yes the act is flawed, and yes the way that it has been used by the Human Rights Industry has brought the whole thing into disrepute. But it is still needed.

Human Rights, and this flawed act, are there to protect us from the predation of an over-mighty state New Labour having removed most of the previous protections we must try to hang onto what is left, such as the Human Rights Act, as it is better to have legislation as protection, even if it is flawed and being used badly, than no protection at all.


Just had a look at Not Little England and New Labour is at it as well. Apparently they no longer like the legislation that they introduced (well perhaps they should have drafted it better, like most of the other legislation they have introduced). So now that it's publicity value has faded they want to get rid of it. This is hardly surprising, it would be extremely unlike them not to jump in with both jackboots to any authoritarianism going. But repeal is not the answer, as MatGB says:
[Perhaps there should be] proper training to make sure people don't get carried away with erroneous concerns? That's good. New legislation? What is it with you lot and new legislation? Why not fully make use of the laws we've already got first? A new law should be the last resort, not the first. Your staff, and other State employees charged with protecting us, etc are failing in their duty out of erroneous concerns.

Tax credits, everybody loses

Bishop Hill has an example of the way that the current tax credits system is failing, a company needs to make up some shortfalls and is so asking it's employees to work overtime (at twice the normal rate of pay) to do this. The employees are refusing because it will mess up their tax credits.

The employees lose, as they cannot get the extra money that is being offered for extra work now as it will endanger their tax credits later. The government loses as it would have gained extra revenue though tax rather than giving out though the credits. The company loses as it cannot complete it's order. The companies client loses as they do not get their supplies when they wanted, likewise their clients, all the way down the line to the final customer. Who, if they are in this country, lose twice as it is their money that is being cycled through government, with the subsequent losses that any money flowing though government experiences, to pay for the credits that are making the product that they want harder to get hold of.

Everybody loses.

Except possibly the legion of bureaucrats needed to administer this hopelessly over complicated system. A system so complex it requires each claimant to
to fill out a ****ing 500-page form (I exaggerate only slightly) EVERY ****ING YEAR. And it's a pig of a form, they want to know absolutely everything whether relevant or not. We're bright people and it takes us hours to fill it all in and puzzle out what they're asking. Most people must find it completely perplexing and completely frustrating, so it's no wonder if so many of them are done wrong.

according to Tom di Giovanni.

May 12, 2006

Religion is stupid

Some Indian Christians have decided to starve themselves to death (a mortal sin according to their religous code) as a protest that a work of fiction is a work of fiction. Well at least they aren't out to kill anyone else.

May 09, 2006

China syndrome

For the past 50 years the various parts of China have formed what is probably the best controlled experiment into comparing Socialism with Capitalism that there is likely to ever be. All have similar ethnic groups (due to it's size there the People's Republic contains many ethnic groups, including those present in Taiwan and Hong Kong). All have the same cultural and religious base, even if the traditional religions have been suppressed in the People's Republic. All have spent most, or all, of that time as dictatorships. The principal differences are economic:
  • The People's Republic is still principally a Socialist republic, despite it moving towards Capitalism (because it works) since the rule of Deng Xiaoping.
  • Taiwan is Capitalist, having been ruled between 1949 and 2000 by the Chinese Nationalists driven out of the mainland by the Socialists under Moa Zedong.
  • Hong Kong is Capitalist of the laissez-faire variety being ruled by the British with an attitude that can be described as benign neglect between 1841 and 1997.

The following data is from the CIA World Factbook:
 Hong KongTiawanPeople's Republic
median age40.734.632.7
life expectancy81.5977.4372.58
GDP - per capita (PPP)37,40026,7006,300
net migration4.89/10000/1000-0.39/1000

So from the data it is easy to see that the more laissez-faire a country the higher it's GDP per capita, no suprise there. But also there isn't a strong corelation between general education levels (which literacy provides a good way of measuring) and GDP per capita, you can have a fairly high level of literacy and yet still have a poor GDP per Capita if the rest of the system is wrong. Median age and Life Expectancy correlate with the level of laissez-faire, the freer the system the longer people seem to live. But perhaps they are happier despite being poorer and living shorter under a Socialist system? Well there is a way to look at that, do people want to live there or would they rather move somewhere else? Again the numbers are fairly clear, people want to move to the laissez-faire Capitalist society and away from the Socialist one.

Or to put it simply; Socialism sucks.

May 08, 2006

The instabilities in the Euro

Scanning the papers yesterday and I saw this peice in The Business. There is a massive house price bubble infalting in Spain, with the Euro base rate at 2.5% and Spanish inflation at 3.9% it makes sense to take out as much debt as you can get your hands on, since the ECB is effectively giving you free money to do it with.

So people are, and since mortgages are the easiest way of getting a really large pile of debt there is a huge housing boom fueled by having the wrong interest rate. The house price bubble itself stokes up more inflationary preasure, which makes debt even more attractive. If spanish interest rates where set for spain then this could be offset by a rate rise. But they are not, so an inflationary spiral has started with no tools to control it.
The consequence of faster-rising costs in Spain is that it is steadily losing competitiveness against other euro-zone members such as Germany and France. Angus McCrone, author of the report and an economist at the Centre, said: “Since they are all locked into the same fixed exchange-rate regime, Spain has no chance to address a loss of competitiveness in the traditional way, by allowing its currency to fall. The recent Spanish economic performance is unsustainable.”
But the bubble can probably continue until either Spanish inflation reduces, or the Euro interest rates increase, neither of which are likely in the short term, and the longer the bubble lasts the more painful when it bursts.

There is another way of regaining competitiveness that may kick in eventually, relative deflation. However, as Italy is discovering, this is a very painful process that could last a long time. Not that Italy can realistically leave the Euro due to it's Euro denominated debts.

From a report last year HSBC thinks that there are three ways out of the Euro's problems:
First, significant economic and institutional reform is delivered which dramatically improves the functioning of the single currency. One problem here could be agreeing on the nature of the reform that is required. Second, European governments may attempt to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, although we suspect this would prove highly counter-productive. Finally, the economic situation may become so intolerable that the political commitment to the single currency is tested to the limit.
Since last year we have seen that the first option is seen as the last resort, especially in France, as it would mean disturbing the European Social model which is for some reason highly valued. So the second is the most probable.

Protectionism is also one of the EU's current policies and the one that eats the most cash, as CAP is principally about protecting European (and of them principally French) farmers from external competition. It is fraud ridden (no surprise there, this is the EU afterall), increases costs for consumers, and their taxes, hurts the third world, and yet still does not particually help European farmers. Even if they are somewhere other than England and actually get to see any of the money. This is already beginning as can be seen by the destruction of the Services Directive and reluctance of most of the major EU countries to not allow workers in from the 10 new EU countries. Protectionism is the most likely path. But since it does not tackle the underling problems they will not go away, and will create problems of it's own further increasing the internal preasures for breakup or reform. From there again it is not reform that will be the option of choice, especially with the current state of popular opinion towards the EU.

I expect the Euro to disintergrate within a decade, and probably sooner rather than later.

May 05, 2006


A good peice about the unfairness of centralised rationing like the NHS and schools.
What makes the NHS so fair? You already know the official answer. The NHS is fair because it conforms to the Marxist principle: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. NHS services are free, and funded from general taxation.

Of course, this is precisely what makes the NHS such a shambles.
So everybody gets the same, poor, service despite putting in very different amounts. Fair would be you get out in proportion to what you put in, if you don't want something why should you be forced to buy it for somebody else?

genocide in Sudan

Comment is Free is doing it again, this time a article by Brendan O'Neill about the genocide in Darfur. You see it is not actually a genocide but actually a cunning plot by eeeeevil America.
It worked, at least for a while. Eyes were diverted to Sudan.
Really? It didn't work then since Iraq still gets far more coverage than the genocide of Black Muslims by Arab Muslims in Sudan.
Doubts about whether it was wise to invade Iraq gave way to cries for action against the 'evil' rebels in Darfur.
Actually the genocide is mainly being carried out by the goverment sponsered Islamist militias. But don't let a little fact get in the way of a Guardian editorial.
Demands that America stop interfering in other states' affairs were replaced with pleas for it selflessly and bravely to "do something" about Sudan.
Not exactly a new phenomina, just like the tsunnami. If there is a problem anywhere the US is called on to sort it out being the most powerful country in the world, and just like the tsunnami it normally does a good job when it decides to do something. Not that they get any acknowlegement for it. The problems come when it does not plan for what happens next. For example Iraq and Afganistan where invaded easily, but they had no idea of how to put them back together again afterwards.
This turnaround is personified in George Clooney. Not long ago he was the pin-up boy for the "Bring Our Boys Home From Iraq" lobby; now he is the pin-up leader of the "Save Darfur" campaign. He is pretty much the pretty-boy mouthpiece for US imperialism,
That will be because of his vocal opposition to the Iraq war will it?
for the idea that it is up to the likes of America and the "international community" to resolve Africa's crises.
Well America and the "international community" might not be able to solve all the problems, but by cutting of the aid flows to the kleptocratic regimes in Africa they could stop proping up the problem. But somehow I don't think that is what he is surgesting.

I think I'll stop there, but if you want further evisceration the comments takes him apart quite well.

May 04, 2006

Abolision of Parliament

It looks like New Labour is going to have to wait a little longer before it can abolish parliament, it is apparently set to back down and allow some amendments to this terrible peice of legislation:
The public administration committee, a powerful panel of MPs, had said the powers were "entirely disproportionate" and demanded "real restrictions" to be included.

Mr Murphy, tabling the changes, said: "We have tabled amendments that put beyond doubt that this bill will deliver our better regulation agenda and nothing else.
However this wasn't the first time New Labour have shown themselves tired of that nasty little thing called Democracy (see the Civil Contingencies Act) and it won't be the last, their authoritarian instincts are just to strong. Take the recent Home Office fiasco. Instead of dealing with the problem at source, that is finding a solution for the Home Office and it's unaccountable civil servants, they decided that the best thing was to distract people by proposing to remove trials and turn the police officers into judge jury and executioner, litterally if you look a bit foreign.

May 03, 2006

EU Tax

The EU may be hobbling since the rejection of the Constitution Treaty, but integration still continues. The EU Serf has the latest on Tax Harmonisation, this has been chugging along for a while with several companies trying to use EU rules to mean that they can offset losses in offshore subsidiaries against profits at home to lower their overal tax bill. Not unexpectedly the ECJ has found against the government as it always tends to rule in such a way as to transfer the maximum amount of power to the EU. Many companies are going to use this to reduce their tax burden and so this is going to blow a hole in Gordon Browns expected tax receipts. Since there is no way that he would reduce, or ever just slow the rate of increase, the amount spent by the state we can expect more tax rises to cover it.

May 02, 2006

Living in the thick of it, again

Devils Kitchen has agreed to host (and make it look good) my Javascript version of the Actually Existing political self test. This is because Blogger does not like embedded Javascript for some reason, so I wasn't able to post it here. You can find the Living in the thick of it test here. I hope I got the decision tree correct!

May 01, 2006

Living in the thick of it

Actually Existing has a new political self test thingy, it is a set of questions rather than a javascript form (and blogger won't let me publish a javascript version myself for it) . I come out as a Hippie Reformer ... man.