Browsing the blog archives for November, 2009.

Who her?

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The other top job created by the Lisbon Treaty – foreign affairs supremo – has gone to the EU Trade Commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton from the UK.

I like to think that when it comes to current affairs and politics I am reasonably well informed, but I don’t think that I’ve ever heard of her.Looks like a typical EU fudge as the the best that could be said of her on Sky News at 10 is that she is a consensus builder.

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Cameron mauling Labour in Queen’s Speech debate

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Listening to him on the radio, he’s really good. I wish  had the telly on because Labour’s front bench must be squirming

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And Of Course This Would Never Happen To The National Identity Register

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Staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile passed on millions of records from thousands of customers, a spokesman for the firm has confirmed.

The suspected illegal trade emerged after the firm alerted the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

He said brokers bought the data and sold it on to other phone firms, who then cold-called the customers, as their contracts were due to expire.

A T-Mobile spokesman said the data was sold “without our knowledge”.

No really, because the state is going to be very clever. Why only a couple of nights ago I heard Identity Minister Meg Hillier on the radio talking about the Manchester ID card trials and when security was raised  we were told that the information on the NIR would be spread across a number of different databases. The implication being that state employees are too dumb to be able to write a database query that links relational databases.

No, its only private sector employees that can do this, and believe me that’s what they had to do because the of the way billing systems are constructed. The billing information is kept well away from admin information. And they have to write that query for a very good reason: so that people who need to know can get the information they need to do their jobs. How do you think it works when you ring the call centre and ask a question about your accunt or bill? Thats right, people who to know are given access to the information that was created using just such a database query, and they will have been vetted by the organisation as part of the recruitment process.

And just look at where we’ve go to with ID cards. They were going to save us from terrorists and identity fraud and make sure that the sun shines during the day and it rains at night, just like Camelot.:

Young people should take up identity cards as a “convenient” way of proving their age in nightclubs and bars, a Home Office minister has said.

Meg Hillier said the cards would also make it easier to prove identity at the post office when picking up parcels.

Students going it to bars to get pissed, FFS. Six billion* smakeroos so that students can get pissed and little old ladies can collect parcels. I’ve got a better idea, lets save £6bn, let students get pissed and compensate little old ladies if they ever lose a parcel.

They really have lost the plot.

*I have in mind its really £12bn but can’t be bothered chaing it down, £6bn is still more than enough to justify killing the scheme..

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Why Socialism Will Always Fail

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Whenever you point out to lefty people that socialism always fails and look at East Germany, Cuba, The Soviet Union etc they always claim that Socialism wasn’t tried because the wrong people got into power.

That argument is well and truly nailed by the Angry Economist:

Tom Slee has written a book entitled No One Makes You Shop at Wal-Mart. The introduction of the book ends with “why we need to rely on collective action rather than individual choice to take us to where we want to be”.

Poor Tom! He fantasizes that once the tools of coercive collective action are created, intellectual such as himself will be in charge of directing the action. And yet, when you point him at collective action gone wrong (e.g. Jim Crow laws, or the War in *, or the War on Drugs), he’ll just tell you that the wrong people (e.g. George Bush) are in charge.

No, it’s far more likely that when powerful tools are created, powerful people (politically and/or economically powerful — which you surely must acknowledge doesn’t include intellectuals) control them. That’s why I oppose the creation and ongoing maintenance of these tools. Not because you can’t do good things with them — you can — but it’s more likely that bad things will be done with them.

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The Piety and Nirvana Myths

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The Cato podcast of 13 November is a discussion with Jay W Richards  about his new book – Money, Greed And God: Why Capitalism Is the Soltution and Not The Problem. You can hear the discussion below or visit their website.

He discusses the difference between self interest, something Adam Smith talks about, and selfishness.  About 7 minutes in he talks about 8 myths of capitalism but two that struck me as apposite; firstly the  Piety Myth. He describes this as good intentions without regard to the outcome.

I hope this phrase takes off because it  describes perfectly what is wrong with a lot of the left wing commentariat and something I have always believed about the early days of the Labour Party. That is that they were all well intentioned people (except Crossland and Wilson*) who really wanted to help the working man and poor, its just that the outcomes of their policies were not they wanted and I’ll bet they are spinning in their graves when they see the underclass that the welfare state has created.

Longrider picks up a perfect of this example  when he fisks Rowan Williams’  latest tax wibble:

Dr Rowan Williams said that taxation should not be seen as a way of stifling business or redistributing wealth but helping to make the world a better place in which to live.

He called for new levies to be introduced on financial transactions and carbon emissions, and an end to the idea that unlimited economic growth is desirable.

As for the risible idea of a Tobin tax; who does he think will pay it? Oh, yeah, that’s right, we will – along with income tax, VAT, national insurance and the various other taxes on goods such as tobacco, alcohol, fuel, cars et al. This isn’t free money sloshing about waiting for HMRI’s greedy claws to clutch at – it is our money that we go out to earn. Already we part with over half our income in tax and when we die the state comes along to take its final cut. We already pay far more in tax than we should, so for this “self confessed hairy lefty” to suggest that we pay more is worthy of utter, utter contempt. The man is a buffoon. It would be more appropriate for him to concentrate on all that God bothering and look after his flock, leaving the real world stuff to the rest of us.

Oh, good grief! Has this man not heard of the Laffer curve? I am an example of the Laffer curve in action as I deliberately manage my workload to bring my overall profit under the marginal rate. Once I’ve reached that level, I stop working – I see no reason why I should pay more to the government than I absolutely have to.

My paying more tax merely reduces the amount of wealth I have to spend as I see fit. Letting the government have it to piss up the wall on fake charities, quangos and think tanks – or, worse, useless databases and ID cards most certainly will not make society better. A far better arrangement would be to dramatically reduce the tax intake so that government would have to concentrate on those services that matter, thereby making life better for us all by allowing us to keep more of our own money.

Do go and read the whole post, it isn’t long and worth the effort.

Anyway, dangerous though the outcomes of a Tobin Tax are,  and if you really want to know why read this Guardian  article by Tim Worstall, the Archbishop means well. Into this pile you could any any number of <strike>Labour</strike> MP’s and Guardian readers and and assorted fake charities and assorted quangocrates. Sadly, experience and the facts tend to show that they are, at worst, dangerous and at best interfering busybodies.

The second myth he  uses is the Nirvana Myth. This one is a little easier, its the way all of the above compare capitalism, and in this case they generally mean free markets as well, to Nirvana. They never compare to states where socialism failed, but always to some wonderful world that exists in their own minds.

I shall be addng this book to my reading wish list.

*Crossland and Wilson were spiteful people who did more to kill the aspirations of the working class than just about any other politicians in history by doing away with Grammar Schools

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Soldier Art: Sketches from Afghanistan

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War artists have a long and noble tradition of capturing the essence of war, sometime a lot better than photographs and films; Matthew has continued that tradition. It is more poignant because he is a serving TA soldier.  Click on the screenshot tovisit his website to see a lot more of the work.

Mathew Cook

There is also a very good interview and audio slide-show  on the BBC website where he discusses some of the images.

Finally, he also has an exhibition at the MOD which I am planning to visit on Thursday.

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Just as well we were well placed to beat the recession

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Otherwise we would be really fucked.

economy copy
Shamelessly stolen from Guido Fawkes

Maybe Gordon will stop lecturing us about how other contries are copying his policies, because they obviously arent.

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Politician admits he’s wrong

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Seriously:

I was wrong. I was. I was just…I was wrong. Come on, you know that. Lots of times we don’t know what right or wrong is but lots of times we do and come on, this is one. I may not have had sinister intent at the outset but there were plenty of opportunities for me to make it right. No one in government takes responsibility for anything anymore. We foster, we obfuscate, we rationalize. “Everybody does it.” That’s what we say. So we come to occupy a moral safe house where everyone’s to blame so no one’s guilty. I’m to blame. I was wrong.

OK, its not a real politician, its Jed Bartlett talking to Leo when they decide he has to accept a motion of censure that he lied in a deal to end the investigation into his MS.

If a politician stood up and said that in real life I reckon that they would earn respect, indeed Tony Blair did it and the first couple of times that is what happened. The problem was that he kicked the arse out of it, you only get one chance to do this and be seen as honest and gain forgiveness, by the fifth or sixth time you just look like an incompetent and arrogant twat.

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Chris Mounsey Presentaion To The Libertarian Alliance

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A good potted history of the formation of LPUK and its policies.

LAConf09, Chris Mounsey: “The UK Libertarian Party” from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

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Will we remember them for more than 2 minutes?

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Sacrifice is forever, injury for life, freedom for now.

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