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Saturday, March 14, 2009


The Scottish Liberal Democrats are holding their spring conference. According to the BBC their "theme" is the economy. Back when I was a member & indeed since, I expressed regret that in the years (2 conferences a year) since devolution they hadn't had a single debate on the economy. Not even when their "Enterprise" minister was in charge of it. It would be good to see that they were taking my advice but unfortunately it is, as normal, spin.…

I will parse the policy motions later but more interesting is the list of exhibitors, ie following the money trail and see exactly who they serve (missing out ones that are internal party organisations)

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport - Government quango

Action for Children - Fakecharity (a fakecharity is one which gets a large proportion or all of its money from government, whether by direct grants or them buying training or publications or reports from them. Though reported by the state media as charities they are obviously extensions of the state).

Pharmacy in Scotland - "is a joint venture between the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Community Pharmacy Scotland". The latter being a government quango they are a fakecharity

Electoral Commission "is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament" ie quango

Association for Public Sector Excellence "is the fastest growing local government networking organisation with a dynamic portfolio of services working with over 300 local authorities throughout the UK. Specialising in supporting front line service delivery, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference is an ideal opportunity for local government practitioners to acquaint themselves with APSE and our services to local authorities". According to its own site it "is a not for profit local government body" ie quango.

EIS is Scotland’s largest teaching trade union" - union of government workers. If "the purpose of government spending is to pay government employees & their allies & only secondarily to do their official job" (Pournelle) then the purpose of government unions is, quite properly, to maximise the amount that goes to the primary role. The proper role of politicians is to resist such pork barreling not to take money from them & promise to give extra taxpayers money to them. Adam Smiths admonition "Whenever 2 businessmen get together they conspire against the public." obviously applies even more to politicians & people they pay.

League Against Cruel Sports - Probably genuine charity

WWF Scotland - website doesn't ask for donations or say where the money comes from but works "with other organisations, Government and Parliament to inform the development of these Bills ...we work closely with organisations in the environmental network Scottish Environment LINK so it looks like a fakecharity

UNISON - "is Scotland's largest public service union" like EIS but moreso

Equality & Human Rights Commission Scotland - is the independent advocate for equality and human rights across Scotland - site says "Section 17 of the Equality Act 2006 allows the Equality and Human Rights Commission to give ..." so quango.

Bernardos Scotland - "is a national voluntary organisation" - Once it was but now it is a fakecharity.

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association - list income of £7i.9 million, £60 m from donations, £3.2 million from property sales, rest not listed so probably government. Probably can't quite be classed as fakecharity but give them time.

Scottish Environment Link - "is the voice of Scotland's environment
movement" i.e. lobbyists for "businesses" wholly dependent on government subsidy

Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland - "An estimated 10,500 people in
Scotland have MS, a higher prevalence than anywhere else in the world" - charity says "We receive no government funding" but also " It produces numerous publications on MS" which often means they sell publications to government, the paying market elsewhere being limited nonetheless probably a genuine charity. Almost certainly the easiest way to reduce MS would be making vitamin D free to everybody as part of a public health programme.

Electoral Reform Society - Almost a wholly owned subsidiary of the party.

Digital UK - "is the independent, non-profit organisation leading the process of digital TV switchover in the UK. Digital UK provides impartial information on what people need to do to prepare for the move to digital, and when they need to do it" - quango.

Children in Scotland - "is the national agency for voluntary, statutory and professional organisations" i.e. government quango

RNIB - "is the leading charity helping blind and partially sighted people to live as fully and independently as possible" declared income of £98.7 million & while no specific denial of government money is made it looks like this is largely from investment income from legacies.

SAMH - "We provide direct services, including accommodation, support, employment and rehabilitation, and actively campaign to influence
policy" - "Our principal income streams are from Local Authorities, Social Work Departments and the NHS". Donations are listed at £93,000 while costs of staff alone are £16.8 million so clearly a fakecharity. An unusually honest admission of being a state funded organisation lobbying & promoting for the purpose of increasing state power.

RNID - As RNIB but for deaf rather than blind - Doesn't give any specific figures for government money but say it got £1.972 million from "operating activities" & later says "grant income is included." Looks like a fakecharity.

Vattenfall - "Vattenfall’s vision is to be a leading European energy
company and is today the fifth largest electricity generator and the largest heat generator in Europe. Our target is 49 TWh from wind power by 2030" - a "business" which depends on government subsidy for its existence & hope of expansion - in the pork barrel with both hands.

Advocates for Animals - "campaigns to improve the lives of animals" - Used to be the anti-Vivisection League. Its site doesn't explain where its money comes from but has only a very token request for donations. If it isn't a fakecharity I would like to know how it is funded but unfortunately they don't list that as an FAQ.

Friends of the Earth, Scotland - FoI Europe is certainly a fakecharity paid by the EU states to lobby for more bureaucracy.

Alliance of Sector Skills Councils Scotland - "is tasked with representing, promoting and supporting the work of the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) in Scotland" i.e. PR dept of government quangos.

Aberlour Child Care Trust - "is Scotland's Children’s charity. Today we are working with over 6000 children, young people and their families across Scotland, providing a broad range of service" charity, paymaster undisclosed but "In 1978 a new constitution was drawn up to allow the newly formed Aberlour Child Care Trust greater flexibility" but since it says it has 800 employees I very much doubt if it can be funded without being a fakecharity

RSPB - "is the charity specialising in the conservation of birds and biodiversity". Well known for raising lots of money, spending it on advertising & getting in the papers & not actually able to show having done a single thing for charity. Say without giving numbers "our numerous supporters, including corporate partners, grant-making bodies such as Heritage Lottery Fund, charitable trusts and our members" so fakecharity.

So looking at the list of exhibitors sponsoring the conference. Of 26 such 7 are openly government depts. or quangos (Strathclyde Transport, Association for Public Sector Excellence, Electoral Commission, Equality & Human Rights Commission Scotland, Digital UK, Children in Scotland, Alliance of Sectors Skills Scotland); 9 are what are known in the blogsphere as "fakecharities" i.e. getting between 10% & all of their money from government (Action for Children, Pharmacy in Scotland, WWF, Bernardos, SAMH, RNID, Friends of the Earth, Aberlour Trust, RSPB); 2 are unions of government employees (EIS, UNISON) & 2 are lobbying for an "industry" (windmills) whose existence depends entirely on the fact that they get more money from government subsidy than from selling electricity, their nominal product (Scottish Environment Link, Vattenfall). There are only 6 charities which are real or of unknown provenance (League Against Cruel Sports, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Electoral Reform Society, RNIB, Advocates for Animals).

Taken all in all the LibDems Conference get their funding overwhelmingly from the state, some via middlemen. This perhaps explains why all of the motions under discussion involve more regulation, government spending &/or taxes & none of them endorse anything the founders of liberalism would have recognised as such.

The motions being:

1 - Tobacco Vending Machines
They want to ban them

2 - An Economic Recovery Package for Scotland
Conference blames Labour & SNP
They are already committed to have more devolution; spend more on public works; find which jobs need more subsidy.
In addition they want to woffle; borrow from Europe; pay government invoices on time (OK); spend money on broadband (OK but why can't the market do it); more money for apprentices & students (apprentices probably a good idea); lots of Green subsidy.
Raise taxes on above average incomes & have matching reductions in the below average; tell the banks who they have to loan too; give the banks more money; "compel" energy companies to cut prices;
End the 2.5% VAT cut & put even more money into Green subsidies & reopening loss masking railways; have government spending properly audited (really)
Call on the EU to "help" business by having more regulation on business "impact"; make sure the aforementioned money we borrow from Europe is invested in Luddite stuff; ditto research: make EU immigration easier; more of more subsidies for windmills.

3 Minimum Income Guarantee
"students ..£7,000 per annum, to be met through varying combinations of grants,
loans and parental contributions"

4 Financial Inclusion for Low Income Borrowers
Introduce an "anti-usury’ law to give people more access to money lending (not explained how); more regulations; government to pay for giving financial advice; government to pay for the politically connected to set up financial services; government to set up a quango to think of more things to do.

5 More Powers for the Scottish Parliament
Holyrood to have control over guns, human rights; transport & eco-fascism; broadcasting; undisclosed tax raising powers; government to be able to borrow extra money; to produce more taxes; councils to be able to raise more taxes; more quangos; more tax money from the UK to go to Scotland including part of oil revenues;

Good stuff eh? more government, more taxes, more government borrowing, more eco-payola, more nannying & absolutely nothing to actually help the economy. The other thing is that during the main conference of the year they only have 4 policies debated & cannot find anything else more important than banning cigarette machines.

Of more actual interest is the exhibitors i.e. where the party gets its money & calls its tune. This explains why a nominally liberal party produces absolutely no policies consistent with traditional liberalism.

You were a Lib Dem?
Yep. The whole sorry tale starts with them sending me this letter
& runs through my archive to April 2006.

They expelled me for calling for lower Corporation Tax, less regulation & the need for nuclear power. All of this is traditional liberalism as I showed, in abundant detail, in my defence. There were other less spoken reasons - opposition to the illegal yugoslav wars, being the only member to speak directly against the smoking ban, & being the only person to speak consecutively against 2 motions - one damning free trade 7 the other for PC inspectors across industry.

By their standards they were perfectly right to get rid of me but not to still call themselves "Liberals".
I realized the obvious a few weeks ago: your blog proposes that we adopt technology that has in most cases been in existence for about 40 years like the current generation of nuclear power plants. You blog could have a slogan such as Yesterdays Technology Tomorrow, since the tech has already been invented all that is lacking is the will. And since we lack the will what we have falls farther and farther behind what we have invented.

In fact, the lack of adoption of current inventions means that future researchers may see what we have and decide to extend it with new research, not knowing that a previous generation looked at the same equipment and did the same research.
Exactly. The reason China & co can catch up with us is that we are refusing to progress. In my Big Engineering series the only things which were not old technology were the filters that prevent passage of salt in sea water thus purifying it, which does exist in laboratories & the buckytubes needed to build a space elevator which cannot currently be built long enough to create it but clearly that is only a matter of time.

If we had a spacegoing civilisation we would certainly discover many materials that cannot be built in a gravity field. We would also be able to build space telescopes many orders of magnitude better than Hubble which would tell us far more about the laws of physics. Both of these would greatly expand our capabilities but I am like the people in 1900 forecasting the future & missing aircraft, TV & nuclear. I don't know what answers we will find but I do know that we can find them but if we look.
What caused me to realize that most of what you post is old tech was your post where you mentioned research that looked into the possibility of using neutron beams to burn up nuclear waste. I thought of that one night while stocking shelves at work. If me and the leading edge of academia are on the same page then we are traveling in circles.

Besides, there is no reason to burn up nuclear waste. It can be reprocessed and the waste can be used industrially. I hope that before I die we finally make the nuclear jump.
Indeed the "waste" is valuable. Disposing of it is a political not a real problem.

I am fairly sure we will go nuclear. Without it & without a massive increase in coal power, which is also a political problem because of CO2, we are going to have massive blackouts & deaths. At which point the masses will demand nuclear & start stringing up Greens. The MSM will also metaphorically string up some engineers who tell them that, even without regulators, it will take 3 1/2 years to build a reactor & they are going to spend that long in the dark.
I am fairly sure we will go nuclear.

I wouldn't be so sure of that. Both the US and the EU are both becoming very quickly police states. Since at least the time of the Club of Rome the declared goal of our elite has been to reduce the population of the Earth, which in their plans seems to begin with the White race. Until we live under a free government, I wouldn't trust our gov to actually take any action to build reactors.

Second, if we increase coal power then we could easily run out soon. Coal should only be used to make liquid fuels, not electricity. If we attempt to do both then we could deplete our coal reserves.
I wasn't really exagerating about the mob stringing up Greens. Maybe the police state will be established first. But the longer we see other countries economies rising to more the pressure builds - it is like daming a stream - in the end it gets overtopped.
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