Best of luck to all for the New Year, we'll need it!
A special 'Hi' to the poor sods blogging from work today.
Monday, 31 December 2007
Best of luck to all for the New Year, we'll need it!
This actually nearly made me cry. The poor lasses. You can't do things like that as an experiment.
Sunday, 30 December 2007
Targets are pointless and are there to be missed.
Let's just look at the numbers. Total births to under-18s in E&W according to this are about 23,000 a year. There are about 680,000 females aged 16 or 17. That means about one-in-thirty 16 or 17 year old girls have a baby every year, which seems pretty horrific to me.
What's the government doing to discourage teenagers from having babies? Well, setting up targets and spending £100 millions a year on quangos and advertising no doubt.
And, more pertinently, what's the government doing to encourage them?
Er ... offering them £175 a week guaranteed net income (plus other bits and pieces) plus priority in allocation of council housing? OK, under-18s get slightly less than that, but they only have to wait a year or two for the full amount to kick in.
And once you in the lone parent trap, the welfare system is designed to keep you there.
Which is why, if we are to have a welfare state at all (different debate), the least-worst system has to be a universal Citizen's Income system. If an unemployed 16 or 17 year old knows that they are entitled to a modest CI of (following the CIT's suggestion) £34 per week, whether they have kids or not; whether they stay on at school, are unemployed or in low paid/part time work; and if there were no means-testing so that they keep 67p for every £1 that they earn (CI claimants wouldn't get a tax-free personal allowance as a quid pro quo), then getting a job or staying on at school will become a much more attractive alternatives to lone parenthood.
In the Netherlands there are no extra benefits for teenage mothers, no first dibs on council housing, and the child benefit for the baby and the mother are paid to the mother's parents. Little wonder that their teenage pregnancy rate is only one-sixth of ours.
I rest my case.
Saturday, 29 December 2007
A reader's letter in The Times explained how the US Constitution deals with the problem of politicians voting themselves huge pay rises.
"Sir, Pay rises for MPs (letters, Dec 27) would be more publicly acceptable if Parliament were to follow the procedure enjoined in the 27th Amendment to the US Constitution, which simply states that “No law varying the compensation for the services of Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened”. MPs who voted a pay rise for the succeeding Parliament and personally benefited would then be answerable to the electorate, John Kentleton, School of History, University of Liverpool"
I don't actually have anything to add to this, I just thought it was a brilliant headline.
The venerable Institute for Economic Affairs did a super pamphlet called "Global Warming False Alarms" back in March*, which I have added to my "stat's and stuff" section for future reference.
It's 48 pages long and pretty detailed, but a gripping read nonetheless.
Russell Lewis, you rock!
* Brought to my attention via a UKIP e-mail friend, who added "I once expressed doubts over man made global warming to an employee of the Environment Agency and was told I was 'no better than a holocaust denier'. Nice to have a bit of perspective isnt it?"
Why on earth is it any of our business to go meddling in another country's affairs?
And if it's not our business, why does our PM believe it should be? And even it were our business, I don't see that there's much that we can do. And even if there were something we could do, it would probably backfire horribly, why bother?
Ah ... pragmatism. Like libertarianism but easier to explain.
Via Simon Clark.
Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 12:18
Friday, 28 December 2007
Our Man In Africa, The Remittance Man, posted this a week ago.
If you follow the link near the end to the article in The Telegraph, you'll notice that it is dated only two days ago.
Either way, RM was right ... I hope that the SA prosecutors have better luck than we Europeans had with Berlusconi, Kohl, Blair, Chirac, Ahern, the entire EU Commission, etc etc.
For some reason, politicians always harp on about cutting corporation tax (raises about £45 bn annually, Tab C4). Let's go back to basics and look at a supply-demand chart in absence of any taxes. It's easiest, for the purpose of this post to assume that the 'supply' line = the costs that producers face, the more efficient ones having low costs; and the 'demand' line is the price that consumers will pay (the price falls as quantity increases). So those producers whose income exceeds costs remain in business, and the equilibrium price is where price = costs, and the quantity produced results from that. This basic position is assumed to be the optimum allocation of resources.
Now, let's look at what happens if producers have to pay corporation tax or income tax. Yes, of course these discourage enterprise and employment, but the tax is only a slice of producers' net profits, i.e. income (price) less costs (the supply line).
Very efficient producers (those at the left hand of the chart) pay a lot of tax, but they are still profitable so remain in business (and in any event, in the grander scheme of things, reinvested profits are not taxed - it is only unreinvested profits, whether retained or paid out as dividends that are taxed) and the tax does not affect marginal producers (whose costs are more or less equal to their income) as they are simply not making profits. So I'm not disputing that corporation tax slows down the rate of growth of businesses a bit, but it certainly doesn't drive anybody out of business, so it doesn't affect the total output very much.
Now let's look at the impact of VAT (raises nearly £80 bn per annum, see Tab C4, link as above, considerably more than corporation tax). It raises prices paid by consumers, reduces income of producers, drives marginal/low profit producers out of business, reduces the value of output and hence employment, and reduces corporation/income tax receipts, as well as adding another layer of bureaucracy and scope for fraud etc. and, apparently, is regressive (poor people are said to pay a slightly higher percentage of their income in VAT than rich people). I'm afraid the grey line for "Supply (tax-free)" is not visible, but it's in the same place as in the first chart.
The next worst tax is Employer's NI, for similar reasons - it reduces wages received by workers while raising the cost to employers, thus reducing employment levels and adding an extra layer of bureaucracy and crap.
I rest my case.
This news cheered up Harry Haddock no end.
What puzzles me is the assumption that only Peter Watt is in the frame. Schedule 20 to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 makes it quite clear that there are criminal penalties under s61(1) for facilitating making impermissible donations, s61(2)(a) knowingly giving treasurer false information, s61(2)(b) withholding information from treasurer with intent to deceive, (in other words, just about everybody even vaguely involved) as well as under s66(5), in cases where the treasurer knowingly or recklessly makes a false donations report.
Definitely Brendan Barber, who is on record as saying:
'Low pay for public sector workers could also cause "simmering resentment"'
Er, Brendan, firstly, average pay for public sector workers is now around 14% higher than in the private sector, and secondly, if there weren't so bloody many of them* we'd be able to pay a bit more to those that are left, wouldn't we?
If you're wondering why the TUC emphasises the public sector, it's because Trade Unions and the public sector are virtually synonymous - 59% of public sector workers are in a union, as opposed to only 16% of private sector employees.
* New Year's Resolution No. 1.
They tried blowing her up at the very first rally she held after returning to Pakistan in October, '... back with a bang' was my rather lighthearted comment. This time they got her. Ah well. She must have been a brave woman. Here's a picture of her giving a cheery salute for old times' sake.
Thursday, 27 December 2007
The Tories are making quite good points here, but they are being a tad disingenuous with the ol' statistics.
The 250,000 figure is probably correct, the Tories took it straight from one of the appendices listed here. But let's look at the 100,000 who left teaching between 2000 and 2005, that's 20,000 a year, there are about 540,000 teachers in primary and secondary education in the UK (439,300 in England, 50,517 in Scotland plus another 50,000 for Wales and NI).
Hmm. That looks like 1-in-27 packing it in every year. I'd have guessed the turnover in the teaching profession to be far higher than that, so there you go.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
2. Replace entire tax, welfare and pensions system with a single-rate income/corporation tax, a single-rate land value tax and a citizen's income/pension, sufficient to cover an absolute bare minimum of national and local spending. And maybe 'sin taxes' for things with external costs, like fossil fuels, gambling, drinking etc.
3. Introduce health and education vouchers. End bans on fox hunting and smoking in pubs.
4. Get police officers back on the beat instead of form-filling, ensure longer prison sentences for violent criminals and make most drugs legally available, suitably regulated and taxed. Ditto prostitution.
5. Take the UK out of the EU and the United Nations, introduce full devolution for all four parts of the UK, and further devolution of all but a few residual central powers to local councils, including powers to have an extra local income tax or land value tax, subject to local voter approval.
6. Introduce proportional representation at all elections.
7. Ask the Crown Prosecution Service to look very closely at certain larger donations to the Labour Party. Declare the Labour Party morally, intellectually and financially bankrupt and disband it
8. Dissolve Parliament, resign as PM.
9. Come out as gay and apologise profusely for disservices to homosexuality to braver men such as Peter Tatchell, Alan Duncan, Brian Paddick - heck, even to Peter Mandelson.
10. [Amended]. My original suggestion "commit suicide" has stirred up most controversy, so I am hereby amending it to "waives typical ex-PM goodies (pension, knighthood etc), goes into self-imposed exile, and is never heard of again".
Whoever visits this blog next is making the milestone 10,000th visit since I turned on Sitemeter.
Good luck to them, is all I can say.
Seeing as this country hasn't been overrun by foxes since the ban, we can only assume that either hunts weren't killing that many foxes anyway, or else that farmers have been killing many more foxes to make up the slack.
So, from the foxes' point of view, either hunting wasn't a big risk, or instead of being torn apart by dogs, they are now being shot, trapped, gassed or poisoned instead. Big deal.
I don't understand what point they are trying to make.
Yes, there would be less violent crime if there were more police officers on the streets, higher detection rates and much longer sentences for violent offenders. Oh yes, and if drugs were made legally available, suitably taxed and regulated, of course.
But why would the simple fact that more police officers are armed make the slightest difference to a criminal who is prepared to use a gun (or any other weapon, for that matter)? If there are no police officers in the area at the time, then criminals are not deterred from committing crimes, whether they involve weapons or not.
Of course the BMA are against anything that might disturb the cosy relationship they have whereby GP's get handsome pay rises every year* in exchange for not doing much more work.
The gimmick is that GP's surgeries are privately-owned businesses anyway!
* If the figures are to be believed, average GP income has risen from £56,000 in 2001 to £110,000 in 2007.
Tuesday, 25 December 2007
The Lad got the DVD of this as an Xmas present. We slapped it straight on and we've just finished watching it, and I must say, it was nowhere near as bad as I expected.
Parts of it were actually moderately funny and the bit towards the end where Mikaela Banes (the heroine) says 'I'm glad I got in that car with you' to Sam Witwicky (the hero) was almost quite moving (but I'm easily moved if I have a hangover)*.
But can anybody explain to me how the co-ordinates of The Cube's hiding place came to etched on Captain Witwicky's spectacles? I really didn't get that bit.
* This refers back to the beginning of the film where Mikaela nearly walks off and Sam asks her how she'll feel in fifty years' time if she doesn't get back in the car and continue the adventure.
Monday, 24 December 2007
On the topic of charges for refuse collection, I posted this at the Adam Smith blog recently, and it seems to fit in well with Xmas theme (all that wrapping and packaging!) so I'll repeat it here.
There are costs associated with disposing of stuff, let's take fridges, for example. Let us assume that it costs £20 to dispose of a fridge properly (siphon off CFC's, separate out steel parts for re-use, if that is economically rational etc). Rather than charging people £20 to dispose of a fridge, they should put a £20 tax on new fridges (most new fridges are replacements for old fridges) rather than try and charge for getting rid of old fridges (which just leads to fly-tipping).
There is no reason why the same shouldn't apply to everything else. If it costs £10 to collect a ton of rubbish and the waste incineration plant is happy to pay £5 for it to use as fuel for generating electricity, then there should be a £5 per ton tax on plastic, paper, polystyrene etc.
There is then no need for an additional charge on disposal - it's been paid for!
This doesn't quite work for garden waste of course, but that would be covered by land value tax (bigger garden = more grass cuttings and so on).
Simple is good, good is simple.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
I took it out of the box twenty minutes ago, and now I'm up an posting again.
The screen looks a bit fuzzy; you have to type in SHIFT+2 to get the @ symbol; and I haven't plugged in my external hard drive yet (heck knows what will happen then), but hey, it would appear to p*** all over that Microsoft-based PC rubbish.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
As a devout atheist*, who has absolutely no objection to the use of Christian symbols etc in a largely and historically Christian country, may I take this opportunity to tell The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan to keep his mouth shut until he knows what he's talking about?
* That means I totally 100% genuinely believe in absolutely nothing whatsoever, apart from a few private and personal superstitions.
Friday, 21 December 2007
I have often light-heartedly referred to global cooling in my posts, which, if it were a realistic possibility, would scare me a heck of a lot more than the opposite.
Life has a nasty habit of copying art*.
*To the extent that my blog can be considered 'art', of course.
Some bastard got a letter printed in today's Metro as follows:
"In response to why not many Britons support being in Europe - it has more to do with the nasty national trait of xenophobia and the tabloids playing off this than any analysis of benefits ... the EU treaty is not about signing our freedoms away - and what would be the point of holding a referendum that will only prove how gullible tabloid readers really are? We already know this, Simon Foster, Birmingham"
The Metro always publish a fair cross-section of views, so if you have a couple of minutes, try sending your rebuttal of the above crap to email@example.com, not forgetting your name, address and daytime 'phone number!
I don't get it.
Why would the Lib Dem's need spokesmen/women on garden furniture?
Thursday, 20 December 2007
This is just stupid.
I am a tax, welfare and pensions simplification campaigner. Let's just skip the arguments, the morals, the economics and the politics and look at the maths:
a) Planned total spending on age-related benefits* (GB only) in 2007-08 per the Department for Work & Pensions: £68 billion per annum.
b) Number of people living in UK aged 65 or over, minus 2/60 for GB figure: 9,467,500
Divide (a) by (b) and you get £138 per week, or £276 for a couple. That would make a handsome Citizen's Pension**. Non-contributory, non-means tested, non-taxable.
* Excl. Housing/Council Tax Benefit - different topic.
** Sure, there is a trade-off between restricting the amount for people who haven't always lived here with continuing to pay it to UK residents who move abroad in retirement. I can also see the political argument to say that SERPS/S2P should not go in the pot, in which case the amount would be £117 per week plus your existing SERPS/S2P. I can also see an argument to say that the taxpayer should only fund the bare minimum to keep pensioners from starving, which may be a few quid less than £138 per week. But those are all tweaks and complications, which is how we got to the sorry position that we are now.
*** I refuse to entertain the arguments that women should retire earlier (they tend to live longer so there is an equal and opposite argument to say that they should retire later) or the argument that married couples should get less than twice a single person (that just rewards cohabitees or home-sharers at the expense of married people).
h/t Remittance Man
Whoo-hoo! Sounds like there's a judge with his head screwed on!
Of course the reason why our government refuses to contemplate recognising pre-nup's is because messy divorces earn their colleagues in the legal profession a fortune and give Family Courts and all manner of social workers the opportunity to stick their noses into people's lives and mess them about.
Let's not forget that in many civilised countries there are default statutory pre-nups, where the couple can choose from a few basic options, ranging between a) everything to be split 50/50 on a divorce and b) complete segregation of all assets and income from day 1, no sharing on divorce. Or you can do a customised one.
I'd also recommend
- adding another box to say whether maintenance will be payable or not post-divorce;
- making the couple agree how it will be decided who gets the kids (e.g. automatically the lower earner, or automatically the mother, or automatically the father once kids have reached a certain age. I prefer 'toss-of-the coin', myself, on this one - reduces moral hazard aspect); and
- having a default statutory rate of child maintenance of say £40 per child per week up to age 18 (which couple can vary if they wish to be a % of non-caring parent's income, for example).
That's that fixed.
She reckons that the "UK should outlaw paying for sex" because this "would counter international human trafficking which sees girls bought and sold by criminals in the UK".
Er ... aren't "international human trafficking", kidnapping and rape already illegal? Can't these Nulab idiots concentrate on enforcing existing laws before they invent new unenforceable ones?
I've read the article and it doesn't say anywhere that there'd be an exemption for legally resident prostitutes, so why ruin things for them, because of a crime in which they are not the slightest bit involved (and from which they do not even benefit - more competition = lower prices)?
There are some cracking comments from UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom in the last few paragraphs - well worth scrolling down!
Update, Vindico and Remittance Man reached pretty much the same conclusion.
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
According to this evening's London Lite, "The Lib-Dem leader also announced plans to raise the amount spent on educating the poorest 15 per cent of pupils to the same level as that spent on children in private schools".
That's bollocks on so many levels ...
1) Average state spending per pupil is around £7,000 per annum*, which is as much as the tuition fees at the cheapest private schools in most parts of the country**. Or does he want to send them all to Winchester?
2) There is little (or possibly no) correlation between the amount spent and the quality of education. Nulab have proved that to death. What matters is selection***, streaming/setting, discipline**** ...
3) ... and competition between schools! In which education vouchers would help enormously.
4) Why the random figure of "the poorest 15 per cent"? Does he mean "families who live off benefits"? Even if it were true that by chucking another £3,000 at those pupils did make a big difference (which it wouldn't) and that the parents really cared (which they probably don't, in which case it's the parents dragging the kids down, not the school) then wouldn't that be a massive disincentive to get a job? And don't get me started on means-testing, that is disguised taxation.
5) Lib-Dems control plenty of councils around the country. If this is such a f***ing great idea, why don't they just do it ... and prove that it works (which it wouldn't).
6) And last but not least, Brian Eno is only about seven years younger than Ming the Merciless, so how the f*** is that going to help the Lib-Dems appeal to "young people"?
* Once you include teachers' pensions @ £10 billion-plus and £5 billion capital spending.
** As an aside, how come nobody minds that many State schools are single-sex? If that's not selective then I don't know what is.
*** The Fabian f***ers of course always refer to 'average spending' in the private sector. F*** that. What matters is how much the cheapest private schools cost, which by definition must be a heck of a lot better than most State schools, else parents wouldn't spend all that money, natch.
**** As an atheist, the fact that religious schools do so much better is irksome, but hey, both my kids go to private Catholic schools.
I received an email from the people who run one of the websites to which I link(ed), telling me (very politely) that they did not share my views and asking me to remove the link, which I did (despite it being a very useful site).
Am I really that offensive? I thought I was pretty middle-of-the-road, really.
Harry Haddock takes a good look at this intra-EU healthcare idea.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Following on from my earlier post...
"Joanne Segars of the National Association of Pension Funds said that the [£2.9 billion bail out of insolvent schemes] would "start the process of rebuilding confidence in the security and value of workplace pensions" (scroll down to penultimate paragraph)
A bit like "automatically reimbursing purchasers of cut'n'shut cars would rebuild confidence in the second-hand car trade" or "replacing knock-off Burberry or LVMH gear with the real article at taxpayers' expense would restore confidence in designer handbags".
Apart from the fact that such a ban is in practice unenforceable (I am sure that you could buy it on-line or something), this reminds me of a visit to Virgin (or was it HMV?) a couple of years ago:
Me "My son wants 'Half Life 2' for his 14th birthday."
Shop assistant "I should point out that this has an 18 certificate"
Me "Is it the nasty sort of violent game that will horrify his mother and grandmother, with whom he has lived since his mother left me ten years ago?"
Shop assistant "Yes, very much so."
Me "Good. I'll take one then, please."
Monday, 17 December 2007
I've been meaning to come up with one for ages, but Nick Drew has saved me the bother.
At the risk of sounding hard-hearted, why is the government spending taxpayer's money on this?
"The head of the UK's biggest education authority says some children should have the option to leave the classroom at 14 to learn a trade".
Tony Howell, you rock!
Sunday, 16 December 2007
Just caught Band Aid's fine song on telly, for the hundredth time this year.
Paula Yates appeared for a few seconds in the background, and all of a sudden it occurred to me that everybody else in that whole video, the cream of British pop music of the 1980s is still alive!
Did they never hear about drugs or unprotected sex or drink driving or anything?
Saturday, 15 December 2007
I have managed to banish some winter-blues and general post-wild-goose-chase-malaise by finally putting up Xmas tree and about 400 fairy lights. Then I slapped on the Official Wadsworth Xmas CD*. As we all know, Xmas music is basically awful, but it's so bad that it's good. Anybody who has followed my "Humour" links may have stumbled across the toe curlingly awful musical device known as The (Truck Driver's) Gear Change.
Put two and two together, and what do you get as the non-plus-ultra in true awfulness? Counting down from 6 to 1 ...
6. "Rockin' around the Christmas" by Mel Smith & Kim Wilde (text-book gratuitous and pointless gear changes to try and keep a desperately boring song alive)
5. "Mary's boy child" by Boney M (in your face!)
4. "Never had a dream come true" by S Club 7 (rather poetically, it's a semi-tone gear change, right after the "No no no no..."
3. "Mull of Kintyre" by Wings (difficult to spot, but it's there)
2. "Christmas time" by The Darkness (gear change during solo, but it's there)
... and, because it's so well done ...
1. "Sleigh ride" by Andy Williams. This song eschews the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure - it's basically the same couple of lines over and over again with a gear change after every few repetitions, about half-a-dozen in total - but he doesn't even break a sweat. Truly masterful.
* You can fit up to 200 songs in MP3 format on one CD, if you get a special player, they're only £10 or £20 more expensive than yer usual all-in-one CD player/radio. The Official Wadsworth Xmas CD has 65 Xmas-themed hits on it.
There was some wanker from Greenpeace in the studio on BBC News 24 yesterday evening being interviewed about all this Bali bollocks, who said (basically), "If the USA refuse to cut emissions then we should refuse to trade with them".
You could see the bastard's eyes gleaming and he was wriggling in his chair in barely controlled excitement at the thought of triggering a global depression and trade war on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.
Friday, 14 December 2007
Thursday, 13 December 2007
... right, now I'm angry enough to post again!
1. Social housing, the way I understood it, is for people with lower earnings capacity - postmen, hairdressers, shelf stackers etc (and the disabled and elderly). Fair enough.
2. It is quite probably true that blacks and Muslims have, on the whole, a lower earnings capacity (whether this is due to racism on part of employers, counter-productive anti-discrimination legislation or lousy work ethic is a different debate).
3. There is a widespread perception that recent immigrants are given priority in the allocation of social housing (again, whether this is true or not is a different debate).
Given 1. and 2. it would be hardly surprising if UK-born blacks and Muslims are over-represented in social housing, that is neither here nor there - the question is 3. "Do recent immigrants get priority?", bearing in mind that most recent immigrants are East Europeans, i.e. white*.
The government recently asked the LGA to look into whether recent immigrants really do get priority. But how does Clever Trevor spin it? "And one area where this idea of unfairness is most frequently alleged - is in housing allocation. Specifically that white families are cheated out of their right to social housing by newly arrived migrants."
Trevor, you smug shit, the question was and is "Do recent immigrants - most of whom are white - get priority over UK-born people - of whatever colour?"
* I subscribe to the libertarian/pragmatic idea that immigrants are broadly welcome, provided they can support themselves and play by our rules.
... or is everything really depressing at the moment?
It's difficult to summon the energy to post on the freezing weather, Bali 'climate change' bollocks, police going on strike, EU Con-stitution being signed, ever increasing taxes and spending and a Tory opposition that isn't going to do anything about either, education system worsening by the year, Hillary Clinton or Obama-bin-Laden possible next US President ...
... having to think about it all makes it seem even worse.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
So many opportunistic twats ... so little time ... from today's London Lite "Inter Milan faces legal action over a 'Crusader-style' red cross kit amid claims it offends Muslims. Turkish lawyer Baris Kaska said he filed a complaint with UEFA and was seeking damages and to overturn Fenerbache's 3-0 defeat by Inter Milan last month at the San Siro stadium".
I am not in the slightest nationalist and only mildly patriotic, but to me that looks like the English flag .... as I have said before, Turkey is welcome to take our place in the EU ...
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
"They'll be blaming Robert Peel next", as Dave the Chameleon famously said.
That treacherous socialist bastard Ed Balls* finally came out with the Neil Hardinq-esque line "Over about 30 or 40 years, in my view, we did not invest in education enough" on GMTV this morning.
Ah yes, I remember when Toe-Knee Blair came to power in 1997, saying "We haven't spent enough in education for the last 20 or 30 years, and although we will massively increase spending over the next 10 years, standards will actually fall under the first 10 years of a Nulab government, but don't worry, at some mythical stage in the future, things will get better"
* Husband of Housing Minister and all-round Useless Fuckwit, Yvette Cooper.
Lunatic gunman walks into church, firing wildly, member of congregation draws gun and kills him. Seems fair enough and hardly newsworthy.
But as Simon Clarke has uncovered, the MSM in this country seem determined to categorise her as a security guard, not as a member of the church who happened to have a weapons licence and was prepared to use it.
Jeanne Assam, you rock!
First Innkeeper: Yes, of course there's room at my inn.
Audience: Oh no, there's not!
Second Innkeeper: Did you book on line? Because the computer says no.
Third Innkeeper: I'm afraid we've had to shut down, we have been losing money since the smoking ban, and now that my husband disappeared in a canoeing accident, I'm afraid I can't help you.
Monday, 10 December 2007
Tablets taken per weekend - 2 million, deaths per annum around 20 (according to stat's used in a House of Commons debate back in 2000 - scroll down to para. 123).
Cost of a tablet, about £3.
Assuming these could be sold legally (in chemists, one at a time, together with safety instructions) for £2 (a few pence production costs, plus mark-up, plus £1 tax), that'd lead to annual tax receipts of £100 million, deaths would no doubt be halved, and illegal activities would be reduced etc etc.
The value of one life saved in official cost-benefit analyses is around £1 million (scroll down to page 5 of this), so d'you see what we could achieve here? We could save ten lives per year and earn the government £100 million, while taking £300 million gross income away from criminals.
... being drunk here. The fun bit is trying to recognise fellow bloggers.
There was a fascinating article in the Saturday Times magazine about these faddy cloth bags with "I am not a plastic bag" written on the side.
Apparently, people in the UK get through about 290 plastic bags a year each. Further, it takes "430,000 gallons of oil to make 100 million plastic bags". Horrifically large figures, eh? What it means it, one gallon of oil makes 233 plastic bags, so each of us consumes one-and-a-quarter gallons of oil a year to feed his plastic bag addiction.
Seeing as the alternative use for that oil is driving twenty or thirty miles in a car, that seems like a pretty good swap to me.
The current estimate/budget is already three or four times higher than the original, but despite this no heads have rolled. The final bill won't come in until this present shower of shit are back in opposition, so is there any to reason to assume that the government and their chums won't be filling their boots for the next couple of years, to tide them over the next ten or twenty years in opposition?
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Left-wing Labour MP Harry Cohen was pilloried in my local UKIP newsletter for having made a speech in Parliament (scroll down to 1.55 pm) saying, he has read up on the "war on drugs", thought about it long and hard, and come to the sensible conclusion that the way forward is to legalise, regulate and tax them (like alcohol or tobacco).
The newsletter (unfortunately) agrees with right-wing Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, who came out with the predictable pack of lies that "drugs like cannbis are at the very heart of a huge percentage of mental health problems and decriminalisation is not the answer".
Er, Mr Duncan Smith, please do a bit of background reading first, like wot I did. Even if it is true that smoking cannabis drives hundreds - or even thousands - of people mad each year, then seeing as society bears the cost anyway (cost of NHS and cost of crime), then legalising, regulating and TAXING cannabis (say at the same rates as tobacco?) would mean tax receipts of a billion or two pounds a year, more than enough to pay for any additional NHS costs.
Legalising it would also mean that the stuff would become cheaper, so there'd be less crimes committed to fund habits (to the extent this is the case with cannabis) and there'd be no criminals involved in supplying the drug (with associated turf wars) and so coppers would be freed up to deal with other more serious crimes.
There's also the environmental point. If we can buy the stuff from countries where it grows naturally, then we won't have the ridiculous situation where huge amounts of electricity are wasted to grow it indoors in the UK.
And so on.
Saturday, 8 December 2007
Via The Remittance Man.
Friday, 7 December 2007
"For the murder, Judge Richard Hawkins sentenced Ekaette to youth detention for life, with a minimum of 14 years."
Nope. Life should mean life. No early release, no parole, no nothing.
The BBC solemnly tell us that "Half of Britain's children have a TV in their bedrooms, and two-thirds have a games console".
As Simon Clarke points out, "One has to wonder whether the BBC use shitty [statistics] or whether there's a few million kids with games consoles they can't use for lack of a television..."
(Or, perhaps some of the kids have the games console in the sitting room, rather than in their bedrooms?)
"Shane Frith, director of liberal think-tank Progressive Vision, said Tesco 'deserved thanks' for selling cheap alcohol in the run-up to Christmas. He added: 'Responsible adults should raise three cheers for Tesco and two fingers to the nanny state'."
According to today's Metro (article not available online), Dave The Chameleon has surpassed himself in the f***wittery stakes:
"All homes should have meters which measure how much electricity they are using, he said. Similar systems worked well in countries such as Germany and Holland, the Tory leader added"
Jumping H F***! Doesn't he know that we already have electricity meters?! And he wants to be Prime Minister?
Thursday, 6 December 2007
It turns out - despite the fact that they have to wear caps - that my lad's school is not Jewish after all, it's Catholic (oops!). He brought home a note saying he has to bring in a large orange, a candle and a ribbon. "That's nice" say I "Add a pair of fishnet stockings and they can teach you about the sad death of Stephen Milligan MP."
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Having kicked off the palindrome* season last week, another more topical one springs to mind:
"A man, a plan, a canal, Panama"**
* Palindrome, not pantomime, FFS.
** In this case 'Life insurance scam' seems more appropriate than 'canal'.
Totally sick in the head.
Nice hot bath, scented candles, bottle or two of Vodka, a few sleeping tablets if really necessary, that's how normal people top themselves. If you want to be considerate, don't lock the bloody bathroom door but, obviously, leave a warning note Sellotaped to the outside handle along the lines of "Do not disturb! I am dead!" .
Oh bugger, here's something that's got me really worried.
Right at the end of an article on page 1 of today's FT, headed "Mortgage lenders warned by watchdog":
"Gerald Corrigan, a Goldman Sachs partner and former head of the New York Federal Reserve told a parliamentary committe that 'mistakes were made' during the credit boom".
No, you stupid f***s, the credit boom was the mistake, all the other mistakes are secondary.
Excellent news indeed!
El Comm appear to have finally read PPERA 2000 s65(6), which says basically, if the failure to comply with the rules on how donations should be reported (in this case, no anonymous/proxy donors) was attributable to intention on the part of anybody in the chain, then El Comm can make application to the Court to order the party forfeit the donation.
So, trebles all round!
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
This blog's discerning readers suspect that we have a Government Of All The Thieves.
Via Snafu, an article from earlier this year detailing some of the most obvious excesses of the kleptocracy. A scandal that seems to have got lost among all the other scandals - John Prescott's affair? Seems like a lifetime ago.
As if we didn't know this already.
Nulab's f***witted response? Not, as you might expect, "Oh dear, our ideas have failed miserably, let's go back to doing whatever it was that we were doing ten years ago." Oh no, far too obvious, too cheap and too simple, the solution must be More Of The Same! More Meddling! More 'Investment'! More Targets!
Schools Minister Jim Knight: "We are putting a relentless focus on the progress of every individual through programmes such as Every Child Counts and personalised learning so that we know exactly where progress is made and where children are falling behind."
Monday, 3 December 2007
The London free-sheet "London Lite*" did a juxtaposition worthy of Snafu today: the first headline on page 2 was "£370m overhaul for NHS cancer care" and the next one was "Labour spends £338m a year on spin doctor army"**.
* Which is owned by The Daily Mail, ergo it is evil Thatcherite propaganda (cont. page 94...)
** I can't track this down online, but take my word for it.
Sunday, 2 December 2007
Does anybody up in Carlisle know how this experiment in turning off the traffic lights at the town's busiest roundabout*, Hardwick Circus, panned out?
* Traffic lights at a roundabout!? Go figure.
Saturday, 1 December 2007
To round off the series, I will look briefly at six issues (that being the format so far) that David Bergland didn't cover and/or which are UK specific.
Gender pay gap
Pragmatic: It is not a "gender" pay gap, it's a "mothers-vs-everyone else" pay gap, I fixed that here, a solution which Sam supported far more eloquently than I ever could over here.
Pragmatic: If you offer parents up to £10,000-extra p.a. in benefits if they pretend to live apart; and if you pay unemployed single women an extra £116 p.w. if they have two babies, but you offer married/cohabiting women only £24 p.w. benefits (not to mention the loss of her net wages), is it any surprise that over 40% of children are born 'out of wedlock'? Well, no, it's not.
Pragmatic: I agree that we should be husbanding our fossil fuels, which we will desperately need if and when global cooling kicks in. I would seriously consider increasing taxes on fossil fuels (demand is quite price inelastic) and dishing this out to all UK residents as a part of the 'Citizen's Income/Citizen's Pension' system. Those who use less than average will gain, those who use more will lose, but the overall pressure will be that people use less (and spend a bit more on insulation, warm clothes etc); our oil, gas and coal will last that much longer and it will hopefully help our balance of payments a bit.
Of course all this Kyoto nonsense, "binding legal targets" and trading of "carbon credits" is a load of crap and will no longer be necessary. This idea went down a storm over at LabourHome.
European Union & United Kingdom
Pragmatic: Both of these are excuses for yet more layers of regulation; corrupt and unaccountable politicans and lobbyists; and shifting decision making as far as possible from local councils, which AFAIAC are the basic unit of government. My views summed up here.
Pragmatic: They won't prevent a single crime (especially as our government does not have the bottle to deport foreign crim's); they will be hugely expensive; the government doesn't care whether they "work" or not - they just want the crumbs that fall off the table; and the potential fraud and error that might be perpetrated were criminals to get their hands on the database does not bear thinking about. So that's a no-no to ID-cards.
...and just to draw a full circle and get back to Gregg Beaman's original article that sparked off this series...
Smoking ban & fox-hunting ban
Pragmatic: For some reason, Neil Harding did a post laying into Longrider. Longrider, Cleanthes and I chose the smoking ban as a largely non-political example of illiberal Statism, and came up with the idea that each town or village should have an open auction of a restricted number of smoking licences for local pubs, so that we end up with a mix of smoking and non-smoking pubs. This particularly appealed to me as a Land-Value-Taxer; the licence would be a form of voluntary and self-financing tax, with no damage to the economy (the tax would always be less than the extra profits generated by having the smoking licence) and a mild positive impact in terms of freedom-of-choice.
Pragmatic: Fox hunting is vaguely silly and rather barbaric. So what? So is eating meat, if you think about it. Seeing as this country has not been overrun by foxes, either farmers are killing more (making it a bit of a Hobson's Choice from the foxes' point of view) or the hunters weren't killing that many anyway. This has caused genuine job losses and reduced the gaiety of the nation. Plus what do the hunt-saboteurs do on a Sunday afternoon? Again, as a Land-Value-Taxer, I'd have no problem with saying that hunts should pay a tax of £x00 per fox they kill, just to cover farmers for damage to hedges etc.
Well, I hope that you have all enjoyed the series, next week I will revert to the usual format of high sarcasm, low wit and turning statistics on their head.