Monday, 29 September 2008

On the attack at last...

At long last, we have it - an open attack on Brown's running of the economy by Cameron.

I'd like to add (yet) another front. In short, we are were we are because too much money has been borrowed and not enough has been earned. After all, why work hard when your house appreciates enough to cover what you want to spend, interest rates are so low, and so many banks are willing to lend it to you?

It strikes me that house prices were being inflated because interest rates were so low. It doesn't take much knowledge to realise that if the stock of stuff for sale stays the same and the ability of the buyers to pay for it increases dramatically, the price will go up. So the root cause of the price inflation was the low rates, which Brown still sounded extremely pleased about last week.

And why are rates low? Because the Bank of England is keeping them there. Why? Because they act under instructions from Brown to keep inflation within certain limits.

And who defines inflation? Brown. As is now common knowledge, Brown's definition of inflation excludes such unnecesary items as fuel and Council Tax, which happen to be rising quite quickly, and grossly underestimates the price rises of "essential" items such as personal computers. It also automatically excludes anything whose price is rising inconveniently quickly. (As an aside, I'm tempted to experiment by explaining to my local Council that Mr Brown says that Council Tax is inessential, so I'm going to try going without it for a year or two...)

So the official CPI inflation rate consistently underestimates what is actually happening in the economy, and the Bank is required to track that. So, inevitably, its rates will be consistently too low.

All very good news for the headlines, which say that inflation is low and interest rates are low. Except that it's all lies.

And what single common thread runs through all of these mistakes and lies? Brown.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Don't try this at home

I'm reading the Bumper Book of Government Waste at the moment. It reaches the conclusion that this Government has so far managed to waste about £100bn.

Now, figures like that are always hard to put in context. Inevitably, some money will always be wasted - I wouldn't be so arrogant as to suggest that I have never wasted any, for example. So we can't expect HMG to get every spending decision spot on. So I wondered how I could make that figure meaningful.

Then I realised - I know roughly what I pay in tax each year. I know the total tax revenue is of the order of £500bn, so if I divide one into the other, I get the proportion of tax revenue that comes from me. Reassuringly, it is quite a small percentage. However, when I multiplied that by £100bn, I was left with a number that was roughly equal to my total pension savings to date. That, I will admit, made me stop and think.

In short, if Gordon was not such of a wasteful taxgrabbing inefficient narrowminded unfair (yes, unfair) apology for a leader, my pension would be twice its current level. Or I could have a new car; a very very nice new car.

That is theft; I want it back.

Anyway, I'm now very angry, which is not good for the body or for the soul. So I don't recommend that you try this exercise.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Gordon Doesn't Get it ... part 2

So .... to save his political skin, in the face of a widespread feeling amongst voters that they are (or soon will be) short of cash, that the problems the country faces are urgent, and the the fault lies with years of excessive taxation that funded wasteful spending...

Gordon promises that at some point over the next ten years he will spend more on nursery education.

It really is beyond satire.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Wizard idea, Gordon

So JK Rowling is going to give loads of cash to New Labour, because they're more likely to help poor impoverished single Mums ... like her.

What? Did I miss the moment in her life story when a social worker dropped by to suggest a plotline to her? And when Gordon Brown as Chancellor provided the publishing advance for her first book? And when the official Government printing presses rolled to produce her books and lift her (and her children) from poverty?

No .... it was private enterprise that took her from poverty to a £500M+ net worth. Individual endeavor. Capitalism, in short. Her own hard work, her own inspiration, combined with the seed funding of other private enterprise. Wake up, girl.

Maybe this reveals Gordon's last hope - that just as the backbench rebels close in, just as Lord Milli... err .. Voldemort arives for the kill, good old Dumbledore will appear and save Gordon's skin.

Some hope, I suspect....

Friday, 19 September 2008

Blair Goes to Yale

Ah! Zis iz yust ze newz I hav bin vating vor all zeez yearz...


Oh ... hang on, you mean the University? Oh well.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A Quick Dose of Realism

...courtesy of indexed


With friends like these....

So, at last, Labour's heavyweights have been persuaded to wade in to support Gordon. To show that the Cabinet is united behind him. To show that we do actually have a Government. Heavyweights in the form of .....

John Prescott

Oh please. Is that really the best Gordon can muster? An ex-Cabinet Minister renowned for his inability to construct a coherent sentence, let alone a coherent argument. Frankly, his performance on the Today programme was pathetic - riddled with assumptions, factual inaccuracies, and non-sequitors covered with a thin veneer of arrogance and naked irritation. A typical Prescott interview, in fact.

Tick, tick ...

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Wow.

The Spectator has surprising news, if it checks out:
UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells is reporting a rumour that the Tories could have broken the 50 percent mark in tomorrow's MORI poll. The (very much unconfirmed) figures have the Tories at 52 percent, Labour at 24 percent...

It used to be that the difference between the winning party and the losing party lay in which was above and which was below 30%. To have a party actualy above 50% is unheard of, at least in my recollection.

So much for the "Brown bounce" ....


UPDATE: Results now confirmed...

Fun as it is...

...to watch Gordon suffer, I do wonder if it is the best use of our resources. Put simply:

  • There does, for once, seem to be a genuine crisis in the international economy which could affect us all, not just a few (formerly) rich bankers.
  • We are, effectively, at war - on two fronts at the same time.
  • There is apparently a terrorist threat from within our own borders that could place us (or some of us) in mortal danger.
  • Food and fuel prices are rising to a point that raises concerns about the ability of some to meet the (truly) basic elements of living.
And what preoccupies our Government? We don't have a PM's Special Envoy for Forestry any more. We don't have a Minister for Second Guessing the Scottish Parliament any more. Oh dear. How terrible.

This has to stop. Now. And, like it or not, it is his responsibility as PM to stop it. If that takes a leadership election, so be it.

But honestly; who really thinks Brown will have the balls to do what Major did?


UPDATE - Gordon is busy - he's found the time to mull over old injuries. FFS, Gordon, is that the best you can do?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Is a futile effort worth making?

There's an interesting post over at the Policeman's Blog, in which a young officer reports on his satisfaction after catching a significant group of burglars, only to realise the lightness of the sentence that would probably be handed down. He (naturally) wonders "what is the point?".

I will shortly be replying with my thoughts on the subject, i.e. that we as members of the public would rather that they continue making the effort, as otherwise the system is doomed. Only if officers keep on arresting burglars (etc) and highlighting the leniency of the sentences can we address the problem. If they stop bringing the burglars to the Courts, then how will anyone be able to notice that the sentences are too lenient?

I was also going to comment, in sympathy, that I had previously considered applying to be a Magistrate but decided not to - I felt that my views on sentencing were so at variance with the official line that I could not be part of such a system. That made me wonder; if I felt that the police should be bringing burglars to Court hearings despite feeling that it was pointless, surely I should apply to be a Magistrate in order to be in a position to change the system?


So: should I? Would the dissenting views of one junior Magistrate on a bench make a difference? Would there be any point at all, given that Magistrates are heavily constrained by sentencing guidelines - and that any departure from these would trigger an appeal?

Is it right to take part in and support a system that you believe is flawed?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Meaningless arguments over meaningless jobs

Gosh. The PM's special envoy for forestry has resigned! Hold the front page!

Someone please tell me. What, exactly, were his duties as the "PM's special envoy for forestry"? How did that help the smooth running of the Government and the country? More seriously, are our national forests safe during the interregnum until a new PM's special envoy for forestry can be appointed?

And, of course, how much extra was he paid in his capacity as the PM's special envoy for forestry? Is there an office for him? Any staff?

Has anyone compared the great benefits that we as a nation obtained from our PM's special envoy for forestry as compared to the cost of retaining a PM's special envoy for forestry? Or is it just a trinket that Gordon tossed out at our expense in his desperate attempt to hold together the bunch of rabid ferrets in a sack commonly known as "Labour MPs"?

In which case, just how many PM's "special envoys" are there?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

If the CBI called for a reduction in the age of consent, we would ask why it was any business of theirs.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed concern as to the workings of the Companies Act, we would wonder if there was something amiss at Lambeth Palace.

If FIFA said that Formula One races should be run to 75 laps not 50 then we would tell them to stick to football.

So why, when the TUC starts calling for a windfall tax, do we not tell them to shut up and get on with their job of thinking about worker's rights instead? Provided that employers do not mistreat their staff in the process, the fact that they have had a good year is no business of the unions whatsoever. It is, indeed, startling that unions are calling for the people who pay their members' wages to be left with less money with which to do so.

It is almost as if the union movement did not care two hoot about the workers, but merely saw itself as part of a national socialist* movement. It is almost as if we did not have a proper or effective Government in Westminster; as if the TUC sees itself as the puppetmaster.

But that can't possibly be the case, else all "New" Labour's proclamations since Blair appeared will have been duplicitous doublespeak.....


------------------------------------------------
*in view of numerous Labour attacks on civil liberties, I will not be editing that appelation to remove the ambiguity.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Not quite there yet..

Oooh... Gordon is rethinking lots of stuff in the light of popular opinion...

Apparently, Gordon says
"it is time to adapt and rethink New Labour"
policy. Presumably, that doesn't include the policy of retaining him as PM, sadly. Or, indeed, the policy of New Labour remaining in Government and not standing aside to make way for a party that has popular support.

Gordon said there was a
"need to forge a new kind of government... to rise to conquer these challenges".
Would that be a kind of government that ... doesn't include him?

Sadly, that looks unlikely, as he also said:
"We need to be honest with ourselves: while poverty has been reduced and the rise in inequality halted, social mobility has not improved in Britain as we would have wanted"

... which just goes to prove that the "new" ideas will just be more of the same. New Labour cannot understand that social mobility comes from equal access to opportunity. It does not come from confiscatory policies designed to take from those who suceed in upward mobility in order to fund a prescriptive nannying state aimed at trapping the less mobile in their poor, wretched, Labour-voting sink estates (sorry, I don't mean sink estates, I mean thriving publicly-provided local social communities).

And how can you possibly claim that "poverty has been reduced" and "the rise in inequality halted" in the same sentence that you admit "social mobility has not improved"?? Social mobility is the means by which poverty is reduced, the process through which inequality is alleviated. Admit it Gordon, you are either stupid or mendacious. Or, I suppose, both.

Now, as the son of a single parent who grew up on the top floor of a Midlands council high-rise, only to pass the 11+, get a decent education, go to Cambridge, qualify in a profession, work up to partnership level and run the firm, it has been blindingly obvious to me since about the age of 14 that if you want people to rise above the station of their birth, you do so by a meritocratic system in which you reward sucess, offer a good education to anyone willing to receive it, and provide compassion (& a basic level of financial support) to those who are not currently able to support themselves. Otherwise, you (i.e. HMG) leave well alone.

It therefore depresses me, frankly, that we still have to debate this. It is 2008; the Berlin Wall fell over a decade ago. In 1979, I was the age that my son is now - i.e. Thatcherism was literally a generation ago. All the evidence has shown, again and again, that redistributive socialism is an abject failure. Yet here we are, debating this basic, trivial, schoolboy politics.

And we will have to continue doing so until May 2010. If ever there was a thought that makes revolution seem a tempting prospect, it's that one.

Friday, 5 September 2008

No thank you, Ms Mikko

This post from Raedwald is essential reading. It seems that the EU is discussing whether to regulate blogs; apparently even blogs as little-read as this one constitute part of the media, which is regulated, so therefore blogs should be too.

I just cannot improve on Raedwald's summary:
I just cannot begin to comprehend the utter, barking and howling, screaming at the moon, carpet-chewing insanity of these morons.
Yes, that pretty well sums it up.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Tolerance

I've recently become a fan of the xkcd site; it does a good line in geek humour. The current strip is, to my mind, interesting enough to merit wider attention. Here it is:



This, to me, highlights exactly what "tolerance" should be. The long-haired character obviously doesn't particularly like "furries", and I have to say I find the idea a little odd too. However, she is content to let someone else pursue their inexplicable desire to dress up as an animal without seeing the need to criticise them or ostracise them. Equally, she expects the furry to tolerate her disinclination to join in.

We have, I think, lost this concept of tolerance. Tolerance today is not only about letting any approved group (defined as those who can plausibly claim a history of discrimination) do whatever they wish; it has also lost the concept of reciprocity, i.e. the expectation that such groups will respect our desire not to join them. This is not really tolerance, merely collective guilt.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into a cartoon.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Gordon Doesn't Get It.

So, the centrepiece of Gordon's personal recovery plan and his plan to revive the housing market is to introduce government loans to help first-time buyers. He really doesn't understand the problem, clearly.

Over the last eleven years during which he has been running the UK economy (no, Darling, you don't) taxation has quietly but inexorably increased. No-one seriously disputes this now. This has meant that the State has steadily taken more and more of a controlling stake in the conduct of the country; it takes money from all and gives it to those of whom it approves. From now on, the housing market will be able to move forward, provided that those involved have the State's approval.

Of course, if Gordon rolled back the tax increases of the last eleven years, cut official spending back to 1997 levels, and (even better) gave back all the additional money taken from us over those years, we wouldn't need this oh-so-generous help from the State. But I don't see that happening. Instead, we have more State spending, which will be funded by more taxation, which will be administered by more civil servants, who will all have to be paid, sheltered and supplied with paper to shuffle and desks to shuffle them on. And so we will descend further into New Labour's endless death spiral of taxation, spending and waste.

Until 1 May 2009, that is (I sincerely hope...).