Saturday, March 28, 2009
Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of this Parliament – that being to say one thing in this chamber, and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that; who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, and that you have subsidised - where you have not nationalised outright - swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks.
Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words. Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country.
The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child.
Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around, you spoke about an international recession; an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squall – but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear up their rigging – in other words, to pay off debt – but you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line, under the accumulated weight of your debt. We are now running a deficit that touches almost 10% of GDP – an unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary – countries where the IMF has already been called in.
Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising - like everyone else, I’ve long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things these things - it’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening the situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year, in the last twelve months, 125,000 private sector jobs have been lost – and yet you’ve created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit.
You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well place to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense. Everyone knows that Britain is the worst placed to go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% – and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so.
They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are a devalued Prime Minister, of a devalued Government.
The really important thing is not what was said, which is very well crafted & accurate but not new, but the reaction to it.
This has become the most watched speech ever on YouTube which, considering they have stuff like Kennedy's Moon speech, is quite something. More important than that is that it was done with no initial MSM coverage just a fair bit on blogs. Indeed later MSM coverage, which has been running to catch up, has been really rather bitchy.
I think this shows 2 things.
On the party front that it struck a very strong chord with the public. I compare it to a fully saturated chemical solution which, by adding only one drop, undergoes a phase change to a completely different structure.
Beyond that is the fact that political discussion of all sorts is no longer going to be poured through the narrow funnel of the MSM. The BBC no longer get to decide that nobody may appear who does not subscribe to the claim that our recession is a "crisis of capitalism" - in fact it is a crisis of big state socialism. They no longer get to decide that when they claim to be discussing all points of view on global warming they can exclude anybody who has any doubts.
Devil's Kitchen recently mentioned both Daniel Hannan MEP's blog & that of his co-author of their book on fixing the economy, the Plan, Douglas Carswell MP as representing his favourite politicians.
On the point about the effect of the internet taking over from the MSM as the forum for political discussion I can do no better than repost Mr Carswell's comments:
The internet will utterly transform politics in three ways:
1. Remove barriers to entry. Daniel Hannan's famous speech was ignored by the big corporate media players. So what? There are no left-wing BBC producers on YouTube to veto views they disapprove of, so over a million of us watch it anyway.
The terms of the political debate won't be set by the press lobby and party managers - it'll be decided more democratically. But removing barriers to entry isn’t simply about democratising communication and the dissemination of "news". It’ll be far more profound.
Just as the internet removed barriers to entry in business and commerce, it'll do the same for politics. Established corporate media and political parties will either have to adapt - or lose market share. Expect to see the democratising of party structures, with, for example, voters having a direct say over who the candidates are.
2. Aggregation - techie speak for bringing like-minded people together. In the past, it was difficult for people with sectional interest to work together. They were often spread around over many constituencies, and diluted. Hence the rise of the corporate political party.
Parents unhappy over the choice of schools they are offered. Residents concerned about the failures of their local criminal justice system. They’ll start to hook up in what'll amount to on-line town hall meetings. The full impact of this has yet to be felt - but it's coming.
3. Rise of the AmPros: In The Long tail, Chris Andersen notes how the internet blurs the distinction between what is a professional and what is an amateur. So, too, in politics.
Already the internet allows people who’d never previously have had access to specialised information to access it. Need information on how to fight a planning decision, or get your child the special educational needs they deserve? It’s a click away – you no longer need to defer to a professional expert to do it for you.
Politics will increasingly become something that we do for ourselves, rather than leave to a remote and unaccountable class of politicians to do for us in Westminster or the town hall.
Final thought: The single most influential development in politics last century was the rise of organised labour movements. What if the internet now allows consumerist citizens and taxpayer movements to mobilise? Could a tax strike against, say, the BBC license fee, be the 21st century equivalent of the Taff Vale railway strike?
It is really good, not to say unusual, to see some radical progressive thought from a few of our own politicians. Gives one hope.
Friday, March 27, 2009
"As one of us wrote some years ago "If the US ever succumbs to collectivism, to government control over every facet of our lives, it will not be because the socialists win any arguments. It will be through the indirect route of wage and price controls. Prices, as we noted in Chapter 1, transmit information - which Walter Wriston has quite properly translated by describing prices as a form of speech. And prices determined in a free market are a form of speech. We need here the exact counterpart of the First Amendment
Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of sellers of goods or labour to price their products or services
In some ways this has dated - back in the 1970s when governments were printing money & inflation was running rampant governments were busy blaming it on greedy workers demanding rising pay. Their answer was price & wage controls. That has gone out of favour since then, though who knows if it will come back. If so a legal restriction on government doing it would still be valuable.
The method government is now using to regulate every facet of our lives is to say that we are suffering from global warming, obesity & everything in between & that the "real" costs are not reflected in the price system thus requiring fovernment refulation. There may or may not be a case refarding obesity but it has been repetedkly shown that when the PC brifade come up with something we ought to do to save the planet it is purely tokenism & makes no numerical sense. eg trains probably produce more CO2 than most driving because trains are big & heavy; swithing off the standby light on your video saves nothing measurable; replacing plastic bags with paper ones uses considerably more material etc.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
On a more serious note I asked him about a remark he made about modern American politics being determined by who gets the money. I accept it is a major factor (here too)
" Modern technology has made money a nearly decisive factor in elections, and other factors have become nearly irrelevant."
I'd be interested in seeing an expansion of that & of possible cures. Having read "Take Back Your Government" you seem to be saying that people being willing to volunteer no longer works. I know Obama had more money than McCain but was that not an effect of his initial popularity rather than the cause of it? While a majority of Presidents were wealthy, or married to money, before they entered politics a fair number weren't. Perot who had no shortage of money foundered on the disadvantage of not being an established party.
It would still be possible for a Perot-like movement to restore political power to volunteers, if enough political volunteers could be found. It's still possible to work one's way up in the political party hierarchy through the old fashioned ground game; but this is pretty rare, and takes more time and devotion than most people are willing to put into it, and, alas, it takes a lot of people getting out there. The Perot movement was the last such effort that looked to have a chance of success. That doesn't mean that it's impossible: but it would probably take someone with the resources of Perot, and a bit more stability -- and who was devoted to a Take Back Your Government reformation.
That's not only not impossible, it will be likely if there are enough people out there showing an interest in that kind of reform. In the meantime, there are Political Action Committees; find one that seems closest to your views. Or several. Control of finances is important to both parties now.
It's not impossible for a conservative Obama to arise. It's less likely because conservatives don't have the temperament for an Obama-like campaign, but as need arises heroes often appear.
I will have a lot more on this another time; I'm late,
========== I will link & comment again. Palin seems to me to have tapped a vein of popularity similar to Obama's (though not among media controllers). Whether she has the ambition for the role (& whether that is a plus or minus point) we will see.
The book Take Back your Government by Robert Heinlein with an intro by Pournelle is a handbook for party political activism. Originally written in the 1950s from Heinlein's personal experience it has dated in some ways, mainly because so much political campaigning is now done by advertising agencies rather than people. It is out of print & excessively expensive in 2nd hand, which strongly suggests a reprint would sell well.
I'd prefer France. They appreciate engineering (83% of their electricity is nuclear, they build bridges & trains which are both functional & beautiful); they have a GNP which is marginally less than Britain's but they do this on a 35 hour week, spending more time drinking coffee & less running bureaucracies than us; they have a cheerfully cynical appreciation of their own national interests; they blow up Greenpeace boats.
They are not the ideal I would aim at - that would be Singapore or Hong Kong - but they are definitely not the incompetently run surrender monkeys who so unwisely refused to join us in bringing peace & freedom to Iraq.
He also recently mentioned the Saint Andrews University debate on AGW which the alarmists lost. Monkton was one of the speakers. An alarmist speaker's comparison of sceptics to Mengele, which he refused to retract, did not go down well.
and also the next item.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
IMPRISON CONVICTED WAR CRIMINALS "the bombing was an act in flagrant contempt of international law, and criminal under that law,” - Walter Rockler,
Nuremberg where either criminality was established or where the entire western legal profession prostituted itself & proved themselves & the western leaders no better than the Nazis
Seems fair to me.
On September 21 2000, 14 heads of leading NATO states — William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton, Madeleine Korbel Albright, William Sebastian Cohen, Anthony Charles Lynton “Tony” Blair, Robert Finlayson “Robin” Cook, George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Jacques René Chirac, Hubert Védrine, Alan Richar, Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder, Joseph Martin “Joschka” Fischer, Rudolf Albert Scharping, Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga and Wesley Kanne Clark — were tried in absentia by the Belgrade District Court and sentenced [PDF, in Serbian] to 20 years in prison each, upon the charges brought by the Serbian State Prosecutor for the crimes of
instigating and fomenting war of aggression,
violating territorial integrity and sovereignty,
assassination attempts of the highest state officials,
war crimes against the civilian population,
wanton destruction and use of impermissible means of war
They have yet to serve their prison terms.
Brits & Americans underlined since most of my readers come from there & our primary duty to bring justice to them overrides any concern we may have about justice in any foreign countries.
I don't think anybody can deny that all these creatures did this & that the legal & evidential case is overwhelming. We know they did it in the full knowledge that they were not preventing genocide but deliberately commiting war crimes for the purpose of helping a NATO armed KLA who were the ones committing genocide, in his words "responsible for more deaths than the security forces" since confirmed in the recent "trials" where no charges at all were brought for the allegedly massive number of massacres which were the excuse for these crimes. Even the British Parliament through its Foreign Affairs Cttee has now acknowledged that the war they voted for was criminal.
Since the Yugoslav court made its finding we have found out about the massacres, genocide, sexual enslavement of children & most recently the kidnap & dissection while still alive of at least 1,300 to steal body organs carried out by NATO police acting under the authority of these pro-Nazi war criminals carried out with the western leaders' full knowledge that this is what they did.
We live in a world that is getting ever smaller & we need a rule of international law just as much as we need mugging to be illegal on our streets. The danger to the entire human race caused by NATO actions likely exceeds the damage caused to the Yugoslavs & certainly far exceeds the benefit of having Kosovo as our colony. Until these animals are brought to justice no NATO politician is in a position to claim moral equality with the likes of Mugabe & more importantly no circumstances in which the leaders of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea can sanely trust to any assurances they make.
TO Scotland's Lord Advocate:
Would I be correct in thinking that Ms Angiolini QC is deliberately prostituting her office to protect the murderers it is her public duty to prosecute. (see mine of 3rd Feb 2008)
If you cannot deny that then I must formally state that I am willing to testify to her corruption in any case in which her presence is material. You should pass such information to defence council in such cases.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
A week ago today I put this on the Information Commissioner's Office site by their complaints form
SEPA's representative Mr Tilly said on a Radio Scotland phone in show about an alleged radioactive waste threat at Dalgety Bay that radioactive particles had been scientifically tested & proven to be made of paint. This was in response to my phoning in & suggesting it could be naturally occurring radioactivity.The ICO says "Your complaint will be assessed by our Case Reception Unit. If they can deal with it, they will do so. They will aim to send you a response within 14 days. If we need more information, our case reception staff will ask you to provide it. Your complaint may need to be considered by a specialist team. If so, we’ll send you a case reference number and notify the relevant public authority that we’ve received the complaint." (page 8). They have not contacted me so I assume it is a simple matter & they will decide SEPA have broken the law within a further week. At least if the laws are observed they will.
Afterwards I emailed them that say (Feb 2nd) to ask:
"This morning your representative on the BBC Radio phone in stated that radioactive particles found at Dalgety Bay had, beyond dispute, been identified, presumably by chemical or spectroscopic means, as consisting of paint. Can you please confirm where these results have been publicly published & how many of the particles, in numbers & as a proportion of total particles found, have been so positively identified. I would also be interested to know by how many mSv or portions thereof, the radiation level at Dalgety Bay has been pushed up by these particles & what it does measure compared to the adjoining stretches of coast."
When I received no reply I emailed twice more mentioning the FoI & formally asking under the Act.
Eventually I got a phone call on Feb 7th saying that a reply had been sent to me & that it must have gone missing in the net. I doubt this but asked them to send it again. It said:
Various reports on Dalgety Bay have been published on the the radioactive substances pages of the SEPA website. There has also been press releases on the news pages. In case you have problems finding them here's the links: http://www.sepa.org.uk/about_us/news/dalgety_bay_monitoring_%e2%80%93_final.aspx ;
However the report makes no mention whatsoever of either what background radiation readings at that & adjoining beaches are & even more important what actual scientific tests they made which so unquestionably proved that the sub-microscopic particles in question consisted of paint as to make him willing to say such a thing on national radio.
While I absolutely accept that the claim to have scientifically tested & proven represents the absolute pinnacle of honesty to which SEPA & their bosses aspire I must insist on some evidence that it is, in any way, truthful.
I received a further reply on Feb 10th which said absolutely nothing about either question.
On the 12th, after I had published this on my blog (all relevant articles are on http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/search?q=dalgety+bay I received this a letter advising me that SEPA have no duty to answer such questions:
"Neither SEPA nor its officers are under a duty to deny allegations made in your blog. The absence of a response to the specific points raised does not indicate that SEPA accepts the allegations made"
The relevant part of my reply was:
"the paint deposited there contained much less radium than occurred naturally & that since it was water soluble & the Scottish coast has experienced a significant amount of water over the last 60 years, it would be impossible for there to be any significant radioactivity beyond the background. SEPA have also specifically refused to answer an FoI request for figures of background radiation asserting they have no duty to obey this law."
Since then SEPA have refused to answer emails. I have obviously had no advice from them how to make an internal appeal on the decision that they have no duty to answer FoI requests about the scientific tests proving paint which they have publicly asserted were done.
I did appeal to the head of the Scottish civil service on 15th Feb at firstname.lastname@example.org
but they do not answer emails either.
I believe that if the readings of background radiation at Dalgety & adjoining bays exists & they certainly must if there been even a rudimentary scientific investigation & the scientific proof that these submicroscopic particles are paint (though radium paint should be water soluble) & it certainly must if SEPA are in the remotest degree honest then there can be no national security or other reason for preventing the public knowing about it.
I await your response.
Refs On the radio programme & my request for further information http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/scotlands-secret-radioactive-sites.html
SEPA email reply from Byron http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/sepa-deliberately-lied-on-bbc-about.html
Further technical information including the paint being soluble http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/dalgety-bay.htmlFurther response from SEPA declining to dispute the factual accuracy of everything I said http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/sepas-reaction.html http://a-place-to-stand.blogspot.com/2009/02/scottish-governmentcivil-service.html
The ICO's FAQ section says
Q: How quickly will I receive a response?Since I made the request nearly 2 month's have passed & SEPA's response from Mr Tilly was simply to say that they had no duty to answer questions so they have clearly broken the law on many points & it would be difficult to conceive of a more open & shut case.
You must be informed in writing whether the public authority holds the information requested and if so, have the information communicated to you, promptly, but not later than 20 working days after they receive the request. In some circumstances a request may be refused. If this is the case, generally a Refusal Notice should have been issued to you. This should state the exemption providing the basis for refusal within the Freedom of Information Act and why it applies to the information you requested. This notice must also be communicated to you within the 20 working day time period.
I will of course publish the reply - if the FoI law is respected there can be no doubt of the decidion though I suppose it is still possible we will find they actually had done the scientific tests they said they had ;-)
Monday, March 23, 2009
A POLL ON WHAT HOUSE YOU WANT
(penthouse, 10,000 sq ft, 6,000 ft, 3,000ft, 1,500 ft homes)
Suppose you woke up tomorrow in an alternate reality where housing was built according to free market priniciples & had been for a long enough for prices & supply to stabilise. We will assume in some inexplicable way that this did not feed through to the general growth rate so we don't all get to be much wealthier in other ways. However, since long term housing costs are 4 times what they could be you get to choose 4 times more housing. Housing would be mainly modular, unloaded off the back of a few lorries over a day or 2. Like mass production car manufacture, which it would probably resemble there would also by all sorts of hi-tech optional extras of the sort currently available in Bill Gates mansion. For Gates these are expensive because it is a one off deal. If a computer run house with its own plug in lighting, heating, cooking, security, ordering from ASDA, & if desired rubbing your back & wiping your bum (separate attachments) systems were being manufactured in the hundreds of thousands they would be affordable in the hundreds of thousands.
As pointed out yesterday 34% of average disposable, after tax, income goes on housing. So if your present approx 1500 sq ft home was only going to cost you 8.5% what would you do?
Obviously nobody is likely to take exactly any of these options but choose the closest.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
So how much does this additional regulatory cost of government burden us all?
Here is a list of some factors. Note that costs of products increased by taxation (petrol, beer, & pretty much everything) aren't such factors because their effect is already included in the +50% we are already accepted as losing:
We know that our electricity could be sold at 1/4 the present price with nuclear because that is what the French pay for theirs. This, in turn, feeds into the costs of all industry & services.
We know that houses could cost 1/4 of the present amount in a free market. This, in turn, means all rents could change, over time, proportionately. Granted that this particular cost would not end imediately but only over time as new housing stock is built.
We know that building of public projects costs 13 times what it could & I think we can reasonably suspect that private projects must incur at least half that. How much would Trump's golf course cost if he had been able to start building 3 years ago?
Assorted EU regulations said, by an EU commissioner to cost us £67 billion annually - 5% of GNP.
Accountancy charges & paperwork. Most small businesses employing 10 or more people have at least 1 full time employee doing government paperwork. It may be proportionately less for big businesses but even so I think we may assume accountancy (7.5%) adds 7.5% to general costs.
Childcare costs - est 4 times above natural rate.
Unfair dismissal regulations - no exact estimate but I am told it is a significant factor - lets say 2.5%.
Cap & trade. Meetings with government bureaucrats. Maternity leave. Food as increased by EU tariffs £60 per family of 4 ie £1 bn ie under 0.1% GNP., not being allowed to park, pubs closing & thus less competition because of smoking ban, paying fot the BBC whether you want it or not, etc etc. All minor but endless.
This is how Americans divide up their personal spending, so assuming they are like us except that they do 5% on health care which I have eliminated & corrected the other figures:
Annual Expenditures 100% Food 15% (Food at home 10% Food away from home 5%) Housing 34% Apparel and services 5% Transportation 20% Health care 0% Entertainment 5% Other expenditures 11% Personal insurance and pensions 9% Note: Details do not sum to total due to rounding.So lets do the arithmetic:
75% of housing cost is regulatory - 34% X 75% = 25.5%
(I assume this includes heating it)
The EU regulations come to another 5%
(assuming the cost is equally borne by the people as by the government sector which is an optimistic assumption)
Remaining portion of income that goes to the value of what we actually choose
100% - 25.5% - 5% =69.5%
That 69.5% is, in turn reduced proportionately by all the other factors. Take off commercial building costs (est 2.5%), electricity charges through the rest of the economy (est 2%),accountancy (7.5%), child care (est 2.5%), assorted other (est 10%)
Therefore percentage of income we nominally get to spend which we actually get in our pockets & spent on the product not the surrounding regulation
69.5% X (100% - 24.5% = 52.5%
Government spending is already above 50% of the economy & growing fast so (52.5% of 48%) we might actually be getting to spend 25%
This is obviously a fairly rough estimate but it is based on genuine figures, or at least ones given by those in charge & if anything I think I have erred on the conservative side (small c) particularly in assuming all the minor regulators only cost 10%. Remember that 20 to 1 ratio of the cost of regulators to the amount of working time they cost us. I don't think anybody arguing the figures could reasonably come out with us getting to spend more than 30% or less than 20% of GNP on actual value or less than 70% or more than 80% on government taxes + regulations.
The good side is that is it is obvious how amazingly well we could be doing if we would just fire all these parasites & busybodies. Get government spending down to the 15% which is where, according to the only poll I know on the subject, most people want it, and prune all regulations that don't unambiguously cost more than their value.