31 October 2010

US elections

Janet Daley, with whom I seldom agree entirely, has hit the nail squarely on the head about what the Tea Parties phenomenon really means in today's Sunday Telegraph.
The Republicans are, if anything, as much in revolt against the establishment within their own party as they are against the Democrats. And this is what the Tea Parties (which should always be referred to in the plural, because they are not a monolithic movement) are all about: they are not just a reaction against a left-liberal president but a repudiation of the official opposition as well.
The ascendancy of the Tea Parties has meant that fiscal conservatism can replace social conservatism as the raison d'être of the Republican cause. So rather than being a threat to Republicanism, the election of Tea Party candidates might be its salvation. It represents a rank-and-file rejection of what many Americans see as a conspiracy of the governing elite against ordinary working people.
 All of which makes clearer the appeal of even the naivety and inexperience of some of the Tea Party contenders who have challenged incumbent Republican candidates. If what you are rebelling against is a generation of smug, out-of-touch professional politicians, then a little dose of amateurishness or innocence might strike you as positively refreshing.

US Education Secretary on school reform

Since the Brit education establishment slavishly modelled "comprehensive" education on the US model, maybe it should notice some comments by Arne Duncan, The One's Education Secretary, as reported in the Guardian:
I just have tremendous respect for the educational work and the leadership that I've seen coming from the UK and we're all working on the same issues and have the same challenges. . . . I think one-size-fits-all is part of what hasn't worked in education, frankly. The more we can create a series of great choices, the better, and let students figure out what the best one for them is.
Duncan enthusiastically backed Michael Gove's vision of schools funded by the taxpayer but able to adopt their own teaching methods and vary the curriculum. He accused critics who said these schools would flourish at the expense of existing state schools of indulging in "phoney debates". He explained:
There are lots of different ways to get at equality of education but just perpetuating a status quo that's broken is not going to help children, not going to change their families' future, and does a grave disservice to our country. These are all public schools, these are all our children, these are our dollars and they're all accountable to us.
Who is "us", though? The sole success registered by the education bureaucracy in England over the past 30-odd years has been in defeating all attempts at reform. The news that Gove may let Grammar Schools expand and open satellite establishments simply underlines how hopeless it is to expect anything positive to emerge from the existing "comprehensive" system.

30 October 2010

The child protection racket

I had to gulp back vomit as I read Christopher Booker's latest exposé of the disgustingly corrupt cancer of statist child abuse that has metastasized from the 1989 Children's Act. It is structured so that social workers who make a personal profit from it enjoy total immunity no matter how gross their abuses of the most basic human rights of their victims. And to cap it all:
The system is hidden behind an almost impenetrable veil of secrecy. The nominal reason for this is to protect the identity and interests of the children, but secrecy has been so extended that its real aim is to protect the system itself and all those who do so well out of it. Parents are forbidden to talk to the media or even to their MPs about the injustice they are suffering. Several times in recent months, councils have sought injunctions to prohibit me reporting anything at all about a case, even though no person or even the council itself would be identified. More than once, parents have been threatened with contempt of court and prison if they talk to me or anyone else about how they are being treated.
It is totalitarian in intent, in practice and in effect. It is a stench in the nostrils of civilization and a total disgrace to the British state and the society that consents to it by looking the other way. 

Mr Eugenides bows out

Won't mean much to any except libertarian blog-readers, but although I have not followed him recently I drew a great deal of solace from Mr Eugenides over the past few years and I'm sorry he's burned out.
The last administration filled me with disgust; the mere sight on my telly of a Charles Clarke, a John Reid, a - God forgive me for even typing the words! - Patricia Hewitt, sent me flying into almost uncontrollable loathing. And without fury, without rage, without spite, this blog is nothing, really - or at least, not what it was - because the way it's written, it is set up for polemic, not placid discussion.

In as far as I owe you anything, it is, I would say, not to confect outrage over things which don't really upset me, not to try and find hate where none exists. I'm in a more placid place, and I think that the country's got at least a fair chance of becoming a better place with that horrendous shower out in the cold; and that's as good a place as any to leave it.
Fair enough. All I would say is that the last administration managed our expectations down to such a nadir that we now barely comment on things that would have produced rage five years ago.

It is ALWAYS a mistake to think that things cannot get worse, and I very much fear the present lot will fumble away their chances and let the shit-heads back in with their reserves of envy and nation-killing spite restored.

Which one is a "ginger rodent"?

Harriet Harperson (left) called Danny Alexander (right) a "ginger rodent".

The thirteenth Mr Cohen

Profoundly historically ignorant comments by Nick Cohen in Standpoint. More than bit strong from one who is the product of a race-based, patriarchal culture reaching back to Pharoah Akhnaton's priest Moses.
Britain, the only country in Europe with an electorate that would tolerate a return of the old ruling class to power . . . I know the dangers of falling for the allure of aristocratic style. Its superficially attractive manner hides many injustices and hypocrisies. But it is a sign of how we are conditioned by the national culture that although I have tried to dislike the coalition, and will doubtless try harder, I cannot wholly despise it.
The old ruling class may not have been destroyed, but it is far from loved . . . Our rulers know it. David Cameron, a descendant of William IV, calls himself Dave.
Well, let's see how that last bit might run if one were not conditioned by the national culture:
The Jews may not have been destroyed, but they are far from loved . . . Our elitist leftists know it. Nicholas Cohen, the grandson of Russian Jews who found sanctuary in this country when it was run by that old ruling class, calls himself Nick. 
There are many reasons to dislike Cameron, but the circumstances of his birth are not one of them - unless, of course, you are a chippy little arsehole unable to transcend a communist upbringing.

SDSR - the other shoe drops

The Financial Times (£) reports:
David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will next week sign a formal defence treaty between Britain and France that ensures a new drive for military co-operation between the two nations cannot be reversed by their successors. As the two leaders prepare for the most important declaration of Franco-British defence co-operation in more than a decade, a deal to co-ordinate deployments of the countries’ aircraft carriers and ground troops looks set to be the centrepiece of their summit in London.
No surprise to anyone who has followed EU Referendum, where Richard North posted a well-earned "You read it here first" yesterday. It is safe to say the carriers will now be equipped with Rafales.

Since it is now confirmed that this was the reason for the absurd decision to go ahead with the carriers while not funding the air groups without which they are useless, why the hell incur the political costs of presenting it back-to-front? I can only assume that, as usual, Brit negotiators were out-maneouvred by their French peers.

Can't blame the Frogs wanting to see the Brit blow up their bridges before committing to a treaty. There is more historical truth behind the sobriquet perfide Albion than Brits like to admit - although I think it more a product of chronic indecisiveness than deliberate deception. 

Ted Heath revivivus

When I started writing this web log, it was to keep track of the daily observations that would otherwise be forgotten or misremembered. One of my earliest posts (21 February 2010) was "The Price of Cowardice", followed on the 28th by "Let's Skip the Heath Interlude", and on 26 March I posted "The Stupid Party".

I am not at all happy that Cameron has fully lived down to my expectations. I prayed, nay ached for the Coalition government to transcend the evident moral weakness of the prime minister, but in my heart I knew it was a vain hope. Above all, he has not had the wit to avoid repeating the most catastrophic mistake he made as leader of the opposition, when he talked the talk about the Lisbon Treaty and then conspicuously failed to walk the walk. Now he's done it again. As Simon Heffer writes in the Telegraph:
It is not just that he reminds us more of Ted Heath every day. It is that he is a natural appeaser, a man born to take the line of least resistance. He is also in bed with serious leftists and federalists posing as Liberal Democrats, whose enthusiasm for the European project, and indeed for the disastrous notion of a single currency, remains undimmed. And it is part of Dave’s own project to realign his party on the centre-left, which means, in the end, he will always do what he is told by Brussels.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has an apposite photo-montage of Cameron as Neville Chamberlain. Worth bearing in mind that it was not Chamberlain's selling out of Czechoslovakia that has rightly condemned him in the judgment of history - it was his attempt to portray it as an act of statesmanship .

The One - the perils of catching a wave

John Podhoretz writes a "what oft was thought" paragraph about the strange disappearance of Obama's once all-conquering charisma, which zeroes in on what I most liked about The One - the fact that he is an unusually articulate (as opposed to glib) person, rare enough in everyday life and almost unheard-of in a politician.
It has become axiomatic to many of Obama’s well-wishers and passionate supporters that something has gone wrong with his "communications skills". That misses the point. His communications skills are just fine; terrific, in fact. Any of us would kill to have his communications skills. You really have to hate him as a precondition to finding him charmless, or uninteresting, or turgid. He’s none of those things. He’s an interesting shaper of sentences. He says things in unexpected ways.
He can communicate. What he seems unable to do any longer is persuade . . .
Pause for thought. I suppose the nearest comparison over here - in terms of charisma - has been Blair. But he was glibness personified, an exemplar of the profoundly shallow paradox. Blair's lack of substance was his principal political strength, if you measure that in terms of gaining and remaining in power, helped by an opposition that was - and remains - mesmerized by him. But he changed nobody's mind about anything.

Obama's situation is exactly the reverse. He is a conviction politician who has used his charisma to achieve concrete political objectives. By doing so, he went from being a screen onto which people could project their yearnings to being a defined target/scapegoat for their dissatisfactions. And he has violently changed people's minds, mainly to a point of view hostile to his own.     

Were I a politician, I know what conclusions I would draw from that.

Tocqueville - quote of the day

From the second volume (1840) of Democracy in America, Chapter Six: “What Kind of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear”:
Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills but it softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which government is the shepherd.

Germany - a well run country

Christopher Caldwell's piece "The Germany that said No" in the latest Weekly Standard has some important insights about why that nation is coming out of the recession so powerfully. The key point is that the German political DNA rejects Keynesianism as leading inevitably to inflation. 
Germany has been scolded, even browbeaten, by Obama administration officials, from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on down, for saving too much and spending too little. It has refused to stimulate its economy as the United States has done, on the grounds that the resulting budget deficits would not be sustainable and the policies themselves would not work. 

Administration officials have not been the only ones to warn the Germans about the path they’re on. On the eve of last summer’s G‑20 summit in Toronto, in an interview with the German business paper Handelsblatt, economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said that, while Germany might think its deficits are big, they are peanuts "from an American viewpoint." Germany cannot say it wasn’t warned.

And now the consequences of Germany’s waywardness are clear. Germany’s growth in this year’s second quarter was 2.2 percent on a quarter-to-quarter basis. That means it is growing at almost 9 percent a year. Its unemployment rate has fallen to 7.5 percent, below what it was at the start of the global financial crisis - indeed, the lowest in 18 years. The second-biggest Western economy appears to be handling this deep recession much more effectively than the biggest - and emerging from it much earlier.
And Brits think Americans don't "do" irony.

29 October 2010

Sowell - A Crossroads Election

On Human Events, Thomas Sowell has put his finger squarely on the reason why the Obama administration has aroused such passionate opposition. It's not because of runaway "stimulus" spending, high unemployment and ObamaCare, important though they all are.

For all its sweeping and scary provisions, ObamaCare is not nearly as important as the way it was passed. If legislation can become laws passed without either the public or the Congress knowing what is in those laws, then the fundamental principle of a free, self-governing people is completely undermined.

The very reason for holding hearings on pending legislation, listening to witnesses on all sides of the issue, and having Congressional debates that will be reported and commented on in the media, is so that problems can be explored and alternatives considered before the legislation is voted into law.

Rushing ObamaCare into law too fast for anyone to have read it served no other purpose than to prevent this very process from taking place. The rush to pass this law that would not take effect until after the next two elections simply cut the voters out of the loop - and that is painfully close to ruling by decree.

Well, that's the way we are governed, so what's he on about? So long as we have our entitlements, who cares how our laws are passed? Silly Americans, with their naive concerns about freedom.

Big Society - let's hear it for localism

Following from the Independent.
Local councils are to get extra funding if they give the go-ahead to new wind farms, under plans to stop local communities sabotaging (sic) renewable energy projects.

There are now 233 separate local campaign groups against wind farms. As a result ministers have agreed that local councils should be given incentives to help persuade them to approve more wind farms. Under the plans councils will be allowed to keep the business rates generated by wind farms – which currently have to be passed to central government.

28 October 2010

'Liberal' neurological condition discovered by scientists

Researchers have discovered that people of left-wing views are born with a connection between their optic nerve and their anal sphincter, and that if they attend Harvard or Berkeley the connection will become hyper-activate and will dominate the rest of their lives.

Well, that isn't quite what the latest imbecility to be printed by the Telegraph says. What they printed was even funnier. It seems some lefty nerds at the above institutions have come up with a genetic explanation for why lefties are the way they are. It seems those possessed of the DRD4 gene seek out people and lifestyles different to the ones they are used to. This, say the nerds, leads them to have more liberal political opinions.

Really? In my experience - in five countries, and across a variety of ethnic groups and social classes - lefties are generally lowmid whites who clump together and are extremely hostile to anyone with a different point of view.

Kirchner - another Perón

For the last seven years Argentina has been run by a very good impersonation of the old fascist Perón, either in person or through his chemically enhanced wife. During that time he ran rough-shod over Congress and the Supreme Court, picked fights with the press, the church, with farmers, with international credit institutions and with Argentina's nearest neighbours.

He denounced any opposition to his totally corrupt populism as evidence of the eternal international conspiracy that explains why Argentina has consistently under-performed for the last century. But thanks to high demand from China for soya and in Brazil for vehicles, the country has enjoyed a prolonged economic boom.

His death will change nothing because the majority of the Argentine people who elected him and his wife not only approve but demand the sort of government he gave them.

Remember when they called it the "Torygraph"?

There is no "right wing" in this country. Indeed, if one can take the struggling dead tree media as a guide, there is no "right" at all. A vignette: reporting on yesterday's Prime Minster's question time in the Commons, the Telegraph commented on Miliband's so far faltering attempts to pin down Cameron:
[Cameron] then hit the ball very hard back at Miliband, asking him whether it was fair for their constituents to work hard “to give benefits so people can live in homes” costing £30,000, £40,000, £50,000 a year, of which those constituents “couldn’t even dream”. 

Never mind, for the moment, that Mr Cameron also has homes of which the constituents could not even dream.
WTF has that got to do with it? Were Cameron's homes paid for out of taxation? It is not the stridency of the envious lefties that has made this country such a hopeless place, it is the snivelling cowardice of the rest.

27 October 2010

Hersh on cyber-war

Did you notice that the Strategic Defence and Security Review allotted £650 million over the next four years for a "transformative National Cyber Security Programme"? Well, that's a drop in the ocean. Seymour Hersh has published one of his epic in-depth reports on "The Online Threat" in the New Yorker

Not going to try to summarise it. The following paragraph sums up what it is all likely to involve.
In May, after years of planning, the US Cyber Command was officially activated, and took operational control of disparate cyber-security and attack units that had been scattered among the four military services. Its commander, Army General Keith Alexander, a career intelligence officer, has made it clear that he wants more access to e-mail, social networks, and the Internet to protect America and fight in what he sees as a new warfare domain - cyberspace. In the next few months, President Obama, who has publicly pledged that his Administration will protect openness and privacy on the Internet, will have to make choices that will have enormous consequences for the future of an ever-growing maze of new communication techniques: Will America’s networks be entrusted to civilians or to the military? Will cyber security be treated as a kind of war?

Merkel tells it like it is

Addressing the Bundestag this afternoon, German Chancellor Merkel counter-attacked critics of the Germano-French agreement to change the EU treaty:
The Franco-German union is not everything in the EU, but, without a German and French union, it is not much.
Way to go, Angela. 

The One rallies the opposition

A serious lapse, I think. The NYT reports that in an interview taped last Friday for Univisión, a station popular with California latinos, The One uttered the following (audio here):
If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2nd.
Well, the demographics make that a smart move in, say, 2050 on current projections. But by then Mexico will have reclaimed the lands it lost in 1848 so it will be a whole different country. Right now, I can think of nothing more likely to bring out every white American who can crawl to the polling stations.

BBC still dancing to the Kremlin's tune

I knew that the BBC had cravenly followed the Moscow line on the Litvinenko assassination, but until I read this article by Masha Karp I had not appreciated that in fact the BBC knowingly employs journalists from the FSB school of objective truth.

I know it's a hobby-horse, but that is hardly a fault measured against the institutional depravity that we all sustain through the BBC's regressive tax. 

Prosperity, corruption and freedom

The 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index site is well worth bookmarking.

Compare and contrast with the likewise bookmarkable Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International and the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom.

The top five on the prosperity list: Norway, Denmark, Finland, Australia, New Zealand
UK is 13th
The five with lowest perceived corruption: Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Sweden
UK is 20th
The five with greatest economic freedom: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland
UK is 11th

Well, it's obvious why Britain had nothing to learn from New Zealand's rolling back of the state, isn't it? It has been extremely successful, and the morbidly obese British body politic can only handle degrees of failure.

Ireland is an interesting anomaly. I'm not going to argue with the Heritage criteria on economic freedom, but 11th in the Prosperity index and 14th in Corruption does not even come close to matching what I have read about the current situation in the Emerald Isle, still less what I hear from people living there.

The kleptocratic state

Millions of workers will be automatically enrolled in their company pension scheme after ministers gave the go-ahead to a radical new system drawn up by Labour. Rosa Prince in the Telegraph.
New stealth tax NEST will force 10m to contribute to pensions. Ian Cowie, also in the Telegraph.
Why not state  the obvious?
Kleptocratic state seeks to refill looted pensions pot so that it can steal it in the future. 

26 October 2010


The MSM are yapping that the publication of the previously secret reports of the Baby P case reveals the incompetence of all involved.

First of all, none of it is news. All the details were known previously. The only "news", therefore, is that the reports containing the details have been published. Big fucking deal.

Secondly, incompetence does not begin to describe it. Everybody involved appears to have been negligent. Why are state employees forever shielded from personal liability?   

Cameron's pre-emptive surrender

Open Europe comments on Cameron's announcement that he will trade opposition to the new EU treaty cooked up between France and Germany in exchange for a mere one-year freeze on the EU budget.
The prospect of a new treaty is rightly seen as a once in a generation opportunity to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the EU and actually repatriate some of the powers the Conservatives promised they would less than a year ago, or pursue a number of other reforms - for example giving real powers over EU policy to national parliaments.
Cameron's public promise on 3 November 2009 included the following undertaking:
Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the say of the British people. If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum. And that will cover not just any future treaties like Lisbon, but any future attempt to take Britain into the euro. We will give the British people a referendum lock to which only they should hold the key - a commitment very similar to that in Ireland.
Prior to which he said this:
The decision to promise, and then deny, a referendum was taken by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The betrayal was backed and matched by the Liberal Democrats. And I believe it ranks alongside the expenses scandal as one of the reasons that trust in politics has broken down.
Whether they intended to do it or not, Merkel and Sarkozy have forced Cameron to fight or surrender. No surprise that he has chosen the latter - the only question now is whether his bad faith will split his own party.

A tenner here, a tenner there

No great surprise to learn that Cherie Blair has been trying to flog a bookplate page on eBay signed by her husband that can be slipped into his autobiography. Offered at £25, reduced to £10 - how pathetic.

The woman has always exhibited the classic symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, and it is remarkable that none of Tony Blair's biographers have explored the link between the pathological insecurity revealed by her shameless money-grubbing and his behaviour in power and subsequently.

Or, for that matter, the obvious link between OCD and the ultra-bureaucratic control-freakery of the Blair regime.

25 October 2010

Where was "Europe"?

Companies that made the rescue of the Chilean miners possible.
  • Schramm Inc. of Pennsylvania built the drills and equipment used to reach the trapped miners.
  • Center Rock Company, also from Pennsylvania, built the drill bits used to reach the miners. 
  • UPS delivered the 13-ton drilling equipment from Pennsylvania to Chile in less than 48 hours. 
  • Crews from Layne Christensen Company and its subsidiary Geotec Boyles Bros. of Wichita, Kansas  worked the machinery to locate and reach the miners and then enlarge the holes to rescue them.
  • Jeff Hart of Denver, Colorado was recalled from drilling water wells for the US Army's forward operating bases in Afghanistan to lead the drilling crew that reached the miners.
  • Atlas Copco Construction Mining Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin provided consulting on how to make drilling equipment from different sources work together under differing pressure specifications.
  • Aries Central California Video of Fresno, California designed the special cameras that were lowered nearly a mile into the ground to send back video of the miners. 
  • Zephyr Technologies of Annapolis, Maryland, made the remote monitors of vital signs that the miners wore during their ascent. 
  • NASA Engineers designed the capsule that brought the miners to the surface and provided medical consulting, special diets and spandex suits to maintain their blood pressure during the ascent.
  • Drilling Supply Co., of Houston, Texas also involved.
  • Canadian-based Precision Drilling Corp. and the South African company Murray & Roberts drilled backup rescue shafts in case the American rig failed.

Thirteen worse than wasted years

Ian Duncan-Smith's wholesale reform of the welfare system, Gove's first step in the reform of the educational system and now Vince Cable's trailing of a "very radical" reform of the state pension system - all of these could have been, and should have been carried out by the Blair government. There is not one thing about the new policies that Blair did not identify as "progressive" alternatives to a dysfunctional status quo.

So why, possessed of a repeated electoral mandate such as few prime ministers have ever enjoyed, did he not carry them out? Because he lacked the courage to get rid of the malevolent Gordon Brown, who sabotaged every such initiative, and inflicted him on the nation when he departed to cash in his international IOUs.

If posterity even bothers to do so, it may record - as the Massachusetts polemicist Sam Adams predicted it would in 1772 - that 1997-2010 marked the point of no return in Britain's journey to "obscurity and contempt".

24 October 2010


Prolix Australian economist John Quiggin has posted a full-on old lefty polemic on Foreign Policy against five ideas he says "form a package that may be called 'market liberalism,' or, more pejoratively 'neoliberalism', [which] dominated public policy for more than three decades, from the 1970s to the global financial crisis".

Quinn looks back to "the postwar economic golden age [during which] massive reductions in inequality brought about by strong unions and progressive taxes coexisted with full employment and sustained economic growth." He dishonestly fails to connect this to the stagflation of the 1970s, which he presents as the bad faith excuse used by academic economists to bury his beloved Keynesianism. Taking its place (boo, hiss) came:
  1. The idea that the period beginning in 1985 was one of unparalleled macroeconomic stability that could be expected to endure indefinitely. This one seems most self-evidently refuted by double-digit unemployment rates and the deepest recession since the 1930. [That the second part of the opening statement has been comprehensively disproved does not make the first part false]
  2. The idea that the prices generated by financial markets represent the best possible estimate of the value of any investment, most evident in the attention paid to ratings agencies and bond markets in discussion of the 'sovereign debt crisis' in Europe, despite the fact that it was the failure of these very institutions, as well as the speculative bubble they helped generate, that created the crisis in the first place. [Share apples and bond oranges, and anyway what's the alternative to the stock market?]
  3. Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DGSE) - the academically influential concept that macroeconomic analysis should not be concerned with observable realities like booms and slumps, but with the theoretical consequences of optimizing behavior by perfectly rational (or almost perfectly rational) consumers, firms, and workers. [Academics like to think they lead, but they follow. That's why they are academics]
  4. Trickle-Down - policies that benefit the wealthy will ultimately help everybody. The rising tide of wealth has conspicuously failed to lift all boats. Median household income has actually declined in the United States over the last decade and has been stagnant since the 1970s. Wages for males with a high school education have fallen substantially over the same period. [Every one of those statements is over-simplified to the point of outright falsehood; doesn't mean he's wrong to skewer the concept, only that his argument is knowingly dishonest]
  5. The idea that nearly any function now undertaken by government could be done better by private firms. Privatization failed to deliver on its promises. Public enterprises were sold at prices that failed to recompense governments for the loss of their earnings. Rather than introducing a new era of competition, privatization commonly replaced public monopolies with private monopolies, which have sought all kinds of regulatory arbitrage to maximize their profits.
Oh dear. When privatizations failed, it was because governments turned a public into a private monopoly; and they did that precisely so that they should gain more from taxing the spun-off corporations than they ever managed to from running them. Not to mention the pay-offs to the politicians and officials who managed the privatizations. The basic idea - to attract greater investment while getting out of the way of endless disputes with rent-seeking trades unions - was and remains self-evidently sound. 
Three decades in which market liberals have pushed policies based on ideas of efficiency and claims about the efficiency of financial markets have not produced much in the way of improved economic performance, but they have led to drastic increases in inequality, particularly in the English-speaking world. Economists need to return their attention to policies that will generate a more equitable distribution of income.
Wow. Not much improvement in economic performance since 1980 - this guy teaches economics? He sure as hell could not teach mathematics, logic - or ethics.

Guardian has to go

Have to drop the Guardian from my RSS and put it with most of its columnists and the BBC among the Cūli Emeritus Causa. It's too much like hard work to wade through all the boilerplate lefty crap for the occasional bit of quality writing that gets through the filters set to select for lowmid mediocrity.

A A Gill in good form

I have been quite enjoying - while forcibly suspending historical and artistic judgment - the C4 mini-series based on Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth - but not as much as I enjoy Gill's review in the Sunday Times (£):
It was a thatch of illogical unbelievability, wrapped in cliché and incomprehension. The dialogue was sparse, but what there was was memorable, inspiring great splutters of mocking laughter. This is a really grand flaming pile of hysterically heraldic dung. You have to see it. It's a collectors item.
"A really grand flaming pile of hysterically heraldic dung". Straight into any anthology of quotations.

SDSR - as others see us

Here's a jaw-dropper. Headline from the the respected US mag Foreign Policy:

Why the U.S. needs to be more like Britain

What makes it all the more remarkable is that the author's focus is entirely on defence, the most cocked-up part of the spending review. If in the opinion of a well-informed US journopuke the Americans have much to learn from Liam Fox and the "British defense establishment", then they are many, many miles up shit creek.
Britain's reductions are substantial, and one wishes they had not been necessary. But the Cameron government deserves an awful lot of credit for facing Britain's debt crisis and making hard choices that accept risk in the near term to put their country on stronger strategic footing. The British set sensible priorities and programmed to them, making cuts that do not damage their ability to protect and advance their interests. Lots of other countries are set to make reductions in defense spending, including the United States; probably none - including us - will do as proficient a job as Defense Minister Liam Fox and the British defense establishment have done.

Wood for the trees

Faced with losing around 30 percent of its annual £2.9 billion budget by 2015, the woeful, deeply unloved and superfluous Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission.

The Forestry Commission was set up in 1919 because of a perceived need to keep Britain's coal-mines supplied with pit-props. Consequently it planted vast areas with pine trees. It has totally outlived its usefulness and most of the forests it manages are species-poor. 

The National Trust said: "Potentially this is an opportunity. It would depend on which 50 per cent of land they sold off, if it is valuable in terms of nature, conservation and landscape, or of high commercial value in terms of logging." The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "We would look very carefully at what was planned. It would be possible to sell 50 per cent if it was done in the right way."

The Forestry Commission trade union said: "We will oppose any land sale. Once we've sold it, it never comes back." With matching stupidity the Telegraph says: "Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain's forests."

That's the state's forests, you arseholes. The majority of Britain's woodlands are privately managed, including the overwhelming majority of the broadleaf acres that are the most biodiverse and recreationally attractive.

23 October 2010

Sólo en Inglaterra

The Mail reports the case of 46 year-old Nizar Ahmed, judged by the General Teaching Council to be incapable of ever improving his work, who has become the first teacher to be banned for life due to incompetence.

Ahmed was head of business studies at the John O'Gaunt Community Technology College in Hungerford, Berkshire, from September 2007 to January 2009, when the governors of the school agreed to consider him for a "formal capability process". The process involves setting teachers targets for improvement, but Ahmed resigned.

Despite what would appear to be a tacit admission that he was irredeemable, Ahmed will appeal the decision. "They have made a scapegoat out of me", he said. "I'm deeply unhappy about it and don't deserve to be the first to be struck off for life."

The head of the school said "you can't have pupils disadvantaged by inadequate teaching. They only have one chance at this."

Unlike Nizar Ahmed, who appears to have had an almost unlimited number of chances.

Sue, Grabbit and Run

Private Eye's apocryphal firm of solicitors has a rival in the Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), one of whom gives us the benefit of his fine legal mind in a Guardian article today.
My firm is acting for many Iraqi civilians killed or tortured by UK forces. Some died from indiscriminate attacks on civilians or from the unjustified use of lethal force. Others have been killed in custody – the most notable being Baha Mousa who died after sustaining 93 separate injuries.
So far so good. The treatment of Baha Mousa was a stench in the nostrils of humanity and those involved should have gone down for it. Paying off the family was not enough, although it is understandable that a public interest firm should wish to cover its costs.
There is a huge body of evidence about killings, ill-treatment and torture of Iraqis while in custody with UK forces. We act for hundreds of Iraqis who complain of being subjected to deeply disturbing coercive interrogation techniques at the hands of a secret squad of UK interrogators. Insofar as the logs add to this body of evidence, it will help us to gain a single public inquiry into the UK's detention policy.
Aha. Now we're talking serious money. I look forward to learning what a non-disturbing, non-coercive interrogation technique might be. "Insofar" as the logs relate to the actions of US troops, is this fine legal mind talking about guilt by association? Yup.
We also act for families in Falluja, where there has been an alarming increase in the rate of birth defects since the attacks [by US forces] on the city in November 2004. Such is the concern from the medical profession that parents are being warned not to have children because of the risks. It is suggested by many professionals that the health problems plaguing the population have been caused by the weapons systems used by coalition forces during the attacks. The UK provided material assistance to the US [that's a laugh] and bears a heavy responsibility to answer and address this emerging public health crisis. A case on behalf of those parents will be lodged at the high court in London shortly.
By the same token, it might be suggested by many professionals that PIL are international ambulance-chasers seeking maximum publicity for their claims in the hope that the British government will settle out of court to avoid the expense and embarrassment of defending the actions not only of their own but of their allies' troops.

Human Rights used to be a noble cause. It has been shamefully devalued by the political selectivity of the main international human rights organisations and by the naked opportunism of allegedly public interest lawyers who somehow only find it in the public interest to take on high profile, "deep pocket" cases.

PIL, no doubt, is an exception to the general rule. But it should perhaps be more careful not to seem like a money-grubbing organization making tenuous accusations in the hope that some of them will prove profitable.

Redistribution at work

In the light of my immediately previous post about the mantra that equality = happiness, Wat Tyler's review of the delightfully named Warwick Lightfoot's newly published book Sorry, We Have No Money is very apposite. I was particularly struck by the following:
We must abolish national pay rates and welfare scales pdq. And we should also note that shipping all those heavily unionised public sector jobs into the depressed regions hasn't done the local work culture any good at all. Consider Lightfoot's very striking chart on strikes:
So, the very areas where jobs are most difficult to find - Scotland, Wales, the North East - are the very areas where those lucky enough to be in work are most likely to strike. A strike record like that can only exist where the biggest employer is the public sector. And if you were a private employer looking for a new base, would you want to enter a maelstrom like that?

22 October 2010

Tower Hamlets - a Labour party cluster-fuck

If it were not for the consequences it will have for the miserable inhabitants of one of Britain's poorest boroughs (previously Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney) who will have to live with the Islamic Forum of Europe/Respect party candidate Lutfur Rahman as their new mayor, one would have to laugh at this Guardian report.

P.S. It just keeps getting better - see the BBC interview linked to this post.

Equality and happiness

It never stops. On his now-tired quiz show QI, everybody's favourite bi-polar Jewish homosexual luvvie pronounced that "the evidence shows" the fundamental source of happiness to be equality of income.

There is no, repeat no empirical evidence whatever to support that blithe statement of faith.

Envy and resentment are undoubtedly key components in unhappiness, but to argue the opposite is the classic logical fallacy of denying the antecedent. Even if you eliminate inequality of income, the envious will still resent those more intelligent, better looking and more talented than they.

In other words the poor in spirit will always be with us, no matter how much money they have.

For evidence, look no further than the mean-spirited, intellect-free diatribes published by well-paid journopukes in the Guardian every day, or the drip-drip of dishonest socialist agitprop across the entire range of programmes broadcast by the extraordinarily privileged Bitchy Boys.

As Fry, given his condition, certainly should know, what "the evidence shows" is that a sense of well-being comes from serotonin production and uptake. About half of it comes from your basic genetic endowment, and much of the rest relates to personal or vicarious hope and achievement.

Not all addicts are born serotonin-deficient, but the repetition of artificial highs causes the brain to increase the number of serotonin receptors, so the effect is the same and becomes cumulatively worse.    

There does seem to be a very close correlation between being naturally dysthymic (chronic, low-level depression) and professing a belief in socialism. I wonder if the hypothesis could be tested scientifically?

Václav Klaus on climate catastrophism

The following are the opening paragraphs of the President of the Czech Republic's Spectator review of Professor Robert Carter's book, Climate: the Counter-Consensus. The review is well worth reading in full.

It makes me sad to think that the newly liberated countries of the old Soviet bloc will soon be led by people who do not remember how vile it was to be ruled by an unelected oligarchy of corrupt bureaucrats claiming to be socialists. Although they will, of course, have learned how wonderful it is to be ruled by an unelected oligarchy of corrupt bureaucrats claiming to be social-democrats . . . 
Let me declare from the outset that I consider global warming dogma (and its widespread acceptance) to be one of the most costly and undemocratic mistakes in generations, and try, therefore, to contribute to its demolition.

As someone who spent most of his life under a repressive and highly inefficient regime, I can hopefully afford to say that the previous most costly and undemocratic ‘experiment’ was Communism. That too started quite innocently, and its supporters - probably - also believed that they fought for a noble cause. When I listen to the views and arguments of the global warming alarmists, they sound very similar to the arguments of the former politicians, journalists and public intellectuals in Communist Czechoslovakia.

Of course, the polemic about global warming has a very respectable scientific dimension. But in its substance and consequences, the debate is not part of the scientific discourse about factors influencing swings in global temperature. It is part of the public policy debate about man and society, about our political, economic and social systems, about our freedom or its possible loss. This difference should be made explicit.

You couldn't make it up

HMS Astute, the Royal Navy's latest nuclear attack sub, has run aground off the Isle of Skye. The Bitchy Boys gloatingly quote from an interview with her commander last month:
We have a brand new method of controlling the submarine, which is by platform management system, rather than the old conventional way of doing everything of using your hands.This is all fly-by-wire technology including only an auto pilot rather than a steering column.
Just to rub it in a bit more, as they do whenever the armed forces depart from their principal peacetime function of providing rough trade:
HMS Trafalgar sustained millions of pounds worth of damage when it ran aground off Skye in 2002. Two senior commanders were reprimanded after admitting that their negligence caused the incident.

Prince Harry mockumentary

I wish I had written David Bowden's acute article "The masturbatory world of the mockumentary". I'm wondering if there is not some way of setting up a perma-link to Spiked, as it is firing on all twelve cylinders right now and highlights the intellectual poverty of the MSM commentariat. Some highlights:
‘Mockumentary’ because, of course, none of these events have happened nor are particularly likely to, but by making it look like a documentary makes it a more effective masturbatory aid for Channel 4-loving liberals. . . . Far from being a sober interrogation of the issues that weighted up the merits of either side, we got a medieval morality play - with the comforting liberal message that people are essentially savages who need a strong and enlightened elite to protect them - played out in modern dress. . . .Yet the argument that it is ‘irresponsible’ to have made this film on the basis it might inspire real-life enactments and jeopardise the lives of British troops in the middle of fighting a war seem equally absurd. It is as if the Taliban sit around all day watching the backwards, anti-Enlightenment and medieval Channel 4.

Eating crow - the Treasury won the big one

"Britain’s borrowing costs have dropped to the lowest in a generation, falling below those of Germany, Europe’s biggest and strongest economy, reflecting in part investor confidence that the government can bring the deficit under control", reports the pay-walled FT. "George Osborne, the chancellor, vowed on Thursday that he would not retreat on his plans to rein in the deficit, the most ambitious effort to cut public spending announced by any major economy."
"The spending cuts outlined by George Osborne have won international backing and leading global economists said the plans were 'tough, necessary and courageous'," reports the Daily Mail. "The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) praised the Coalition for producing a 'concrete and far-reaching plan' to tackle the £155billion annual deficit left by Labour."

Peter Murray - arsehole of the week

In an interview with The Journalist (page 25 of this annoying site), the Glaswegian Peter Murray, President of the National Union of Journalists - and senior broadcast journalist with the Bitchy Boys of Scotland - announces that his biggest heroes are his Mum and Dad and that his villains are, roll of drums:
Margaret Thatcher and all her successors who have sent millions of people to the dole queues, smashed working class communities and taken Britain to war to try and rescue their political fortunes.
Hmm. Tony Blair, fresh from winning two resounding victories at general elections, embarked on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to rescue his political fortunes?

On the madness of voting against The One

The One had discovered why his approval ratings have nose-dived, reports Charles Krauthammer in a droll NRO article. It seems the president has been unwise enough to speak his highly-educated mind. "Facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day", he said, "because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared."
Dr. Obama diagnoses a heretofore undiscovered psychological derangement: anxiety-induced Obama Underappreciation Syndrome, wherein an entire population is so addled by its economic anxieties as to be neurologically incapable of appreciating the “facts and science” undergirding Obamacare and the other blessings their president has bestowed upon them from on high.
Krauthammer suggests there is a simpler explanation: Gallup findings that 42 percent of Americans describe themselves as conservative, 35 percent as moderate and only 20 percent as "liberal". He also suggests - and here I believe he overestimates how much people know or care what is happening in other countries - that the example of Europe is the strongest possible argument against The One's political agenda.
Even as we speak, the social-democratic model Obama is openly and boldly trying to move America toward is unraveling in Europe. It’s not just the real prospect of financial collapse in Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, with even the relatively more stable major countries in severe distress. It is the visible moral collapse of a system that, after two generations of increasing cradle-to-grave infantilisation, turns millions of citizens into the streets of France in furious and often violent protest - over what? Over raising the retirement age from 60 to 62!

21 October 2010

Will Heaven - good question wrong answer

"Why do so many Indians put up with mediocrity?" Heaven asks in one article, only to reply in his next article that "Indians are the most patient people on the planet. And it will be their downfall."

OK, let's run those again, only substituting "Britons" for Indians. Still an important Q & A, n'est ce pas?

The answer to the first question may be that Indians know things will get better, while the answer to the second is that Britons suspect they can only get worse.

Victimhood v. empowerment

Ah, the poor, sad little lefties. They don't know how to handle this story of a couple of 14-year old black kids who killed a drink and drug addict who had molested the girl's younger sister because the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to proceed on a complaint of molestation lodged by her and another girl.

Leaving aside the background awfulness of a family whose father is in prison in England and whose mother is in prison in Grenada, surely the lefties should celebrate these young rebels, determined to obtain for themselves the justice denied to them by "the system". Is that not what they are encouraging state employees to do?

I would not hesitate to do the same if some sleaze molested anyone I love, so why should I not applaud them?

Many a true word . . .

From the Daily Mash today:
And as half a million public sector workers were set to lose the argument about the vitally important contribution they make to society, there were warnings of violent protests and mass rioting with millions taking to the streets to demand random amounts of other people's money.

Tom Logan, professor of politics at Reading University, said: "Luckily the warnings do seem to be coming exclusively from
Guardian columnists who are wrong about everything, all the time."
Hat-tip Shaun

Expenses scandal - the whitewash continues

First Nadine Dorries was cleared of wrongdoing by John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, now Julie Kirkbride. Montgomerie's piece on the Dorries white-wash suffices to explain why he now takes his rightful place among the Cūli emeritus causa.

Of course "parliamentary standards" is an oxymoron, and anyone in the real world who did half the shit these women perpetrated might have legal problems, but I suppose Lyons was influenced by some kind of misplaced gentlemanliness. Dorries remains in parliament, whereas Kirkbride at least had the grace to stand down at the last election. Hubby Andrew Mackay does not do so well:
We are very disappointed that, even after seeing the Commissioner's full report, Mr Mackay maintains that he did not break the rules, when it is quite clear that he did. Mr Mackay has already paid a high price for making such a serious misjudgment. The very fact that Mr Mackay is no longer a Member of Parliament shows what a heavy political price he has paid. He has also repaid a considerable sum of money. Nonetheless, we expect Mr Mackay, having read our Report, to apologise for the breach in writing. Had Mr Mackay still been a Member of this House, we would have recommended that he apologise on the floor of the House by means of a personal statement and we would have recommended a period of suspension from the service of the House.
Oooh! An apology to the House and a period of suspension! No wonder he took his fat pension, resettlement allowance and all the rest and stood down along with his virtuous wife.

Those "cuts" - much ado about nothing

On page 17, paragraph 1.15 of the full Treasury report we find:
Total public spending (Total Managed Expenditure) in 2014-15 will be higher in real terms than in 2008-09. At 41 per cent of GDP, this will be around the same level of public spending as in 2006-07. Spending on public services in 2014-15 will be higher than 2006-07 levels in real terms.
There is an assortment of other PDFs available for download at the Spending Review Documents site, but take my word for it - the above paragraph almost says it all. Richard North says the rest:
To disguise the fact that, in most of the public sector spending is to increase (mainly to service debt and unfunded pensions), officials – elected and appointed – are now going through the elaborate charade of cutting back highly visible public services, including schools, libraries and police patrols.

With the connivance of the media and the unions, the public is thus gulled into believing that expenditure is being cut. By this means, they hope to divert complaints about the progressive deterioration in public services, as the unproductive "tail" gradually eats up a greater and greater share of the funds.

Why the Royal Navy will have so few ships

Arleigh Burke class destroyer (built in S. Korea for own navy)
Cost: £582.6 million
Displacement: 9,350 tonnes
Length: 509.5 ft (155.3 m)
Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
Draught: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 4 x gas turbines, 2 shafts,75 MW
Speed: 30+ knots
Complement: 380
96 cell vertical launch system (VLS) for RIM-66 SM-2 anti air missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles and RUM-139 anti submarine missiles
1 x 5 inch gun, 2 x 25 mm, 2 x .50 cal (single), 2 x .50 cal. (dual), 2 x 7.62mm
2 x 20 mm Phalanx close-in weapons system
2 x Mk 46 triple torpedo tubes
Aircraft carried: 2 x Sea Hawk helicopters

Daring (Type 45) class destroyer (built in Britain for own navy)
Cost: £1.1 billion (will increase when fully equipped)
Displacement: 8,100 tonnes (will increase when fully equipped)
Length: 500 ft (152.4 m)
Beam: 69.5 ft (21.2  m)
Draught: 24.3 ft (7.4 m)
Propulsion: 2 x gas turbines, 2 x electric, 2 shafts, 63 MW
Speed: 29+ knots
Complement: 190 (accommodation for 235)
48 cell vertical launch system (VLS) for anti-air Aster missiles that are not functional.
1 x 4.5 inch gun, 2 x 30 mm guns, 2 x Miniguns, 6 x 7.62mm
Provision for but not fitted with:
2 x Quadruple Harpoon launchers, 2 x 20mm Phalanx and, if VLS upgraded, Tomahawk cruise missiles .
Aircraft carried: 1 x Lynx or 1 x Merlin

20 October 2010

Prison Reform Trust lies

The cynical toad Ken Clarke has pretty much become the mouthpiece for the PRT: "Prison should be reserved for those whose
 offending is so serious that they cannot serve
 their sentence in the community" is straight from the PRT website, which also states "The United Kingdom has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe at 151 per 100,000 of the population". There follows a quick blow-job for fatty:
The last time Ken Clarke was in charge of prison and penal policy, as Home Secretary, the average prison population (1992-93) was 44,628. Figures just released by the Prison Service show that prison numbers for England and Wales have now exceeded 85,000. In France, with the same population as Britain, prison numbers are 59,655.
Well now, let's see. The Civitas website asks "Do we have too many people in prison?" and seeks to answer it in terms of prisoners per 1,000 recorded crimes, the only sane comparative statistic. The following chart shows that England and Wales in fact have a lower imprisonment rate than France, and considerably lower than the Western European average.

The third column shows what would be the prison population of England and Wales (given as 80,000) if we imprisoned criminals at the same rate as other countries. At the French rate, the prison population would be 91,113, at the EU average rate it would be 113,150. 


Prisoners per 1,000 recorded crimes

% difference from England and Wales

'What if'?


















EU Average












England and Wales









Northern Ireland
















So, the Prison Reform Trust lies, Ken Clarke lies, and the Coalition government's new penal policy is a lie. We have a much higher rate of crimes per 1,000 population - that is the problem. 

Countries with low rates of criminality have the following in common: if you commit a crime, there is a high probability that you will be arrested; if arrested there is as high probability that you will be convicted; if convicted you will receive meaningful punishment; and if you re-offend, the punishment will be more severe.

None of these applies in England and Wales. QED. All the rest is bollocks.