Saturday, 27 September 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining ....

..... or how government regulation helps British enterprise thrive.

From October, although my ciggie packets will still show their iconic and fashionable French health warnings, British smokers will be faced with X-rated photographs on their packs. Or not. For about 15p a pack they can buy stickers to cover up the offensive images; those currently available are not particularly brilliant, but it strikes me there's a market for pithy libertarian slogans rather than quirky humour. Together with point-of-sale displays at newsagents and tobacconists so customers can cover the image before leaving the shop. Hmm . Time to get some quotes from the printers, I think ...

Friday, 26 September 2008

In Memoriam

Craig Marshall lived with his mum Sharon and his siblings Aaron and Shanon on a council estate in Acton. A cheeky-looking lad, he had clearly not succeeded at school. I imagine a bit of low-level drug dealing on the estate - ounces of skunk rather than kilos of cocaine. I imagine he lent a couple of local blokes a small deal 'on tick', and didn't see the danger of standing on their doorstep and demanding his £20 when he really needed it. That's my reading of the report quote:
Two guys had an argument after the boy came to the door. The boy said to them to give him the £20 that he had lent, but they said they didn't want to give it to him and told him 'What do you want to do about it?'
They stabbed him dead. Craig won't skim through tomorrow's 'Sun', reach his twentieth birthday, buy his mum Sharon a Christmas present, or sit in the local dogshit park with a can of lager and a spliffy in tomorrow's sun. Before the new year dawns at least another half a dozen London teenagers will, like Craig, lie like lumps of chilled beef in their local mortuaries awaiting the pathologist's knife.

Craig probably had a pretty crap life, and I'll bet nearly all of his nineteen-year lifespan was spent on that estate in Acton. His mum's utter confusion that the Leviathan State hadn't prevented his death is apparent in her reported quote;
I've lost my baby boy. He was a good kid, he was not mixed up in any gangs. I can't cope with this right now, my mind is just a mess. You hear about these kids dying but nothing is ever done.
And this loads a tragic event with pathos; a belief that it's the council's, the police's, the welfare's or the government's job to keep her and her offspring alive, healthy and provided for, maintain her home and her family, irrespective of their own behaviour. And that's the real sadness to me of this young man's untimely death. The cruelty of the delusion fostered by Brown and Labour that the State can do these things is an evil lie; the whoreson bastards of socialism promulgate it to the weak and credulous such as Sharon Marshall, and it's killing them. The real wielders of the knife that killed Craig Marshall are not on an estate in Acton but are sat smugly grinning around Gordon Brown's cabinet table.

Brown's judgement on himself

When Hitler spoke to the Reichstag in 1941 of Churchill, saying:
He is the most bloodthirsty or amateurish strategist in history . . . For over five years this man has been chasing around Europe like a madman in search of something that he could set on fire. . . As a soldier he is a bad politician and as a politician is an equally bad soldier. . . The gift Mr. Churchill possesses is the gift to lie with a pious expression on his face and to distort the truth.
He gave to psychologists everywhere the gift of a superb example of the phenomenon of ascribing to others those things that applied in reality to himself.

I was reminded of this today in reports of Brown's speech to the UN in which he accused the banks of reckless and careless behaviour; he went on to say
This has been an era of global prosperity. It has been an era also of global turbulence and where there has been irresponsibility we must now say clearly that the age of irresponsibility must be ended
Ah yes. Recklessness, carelessness and irresponsibility. I couldn't have chosen three more appropriate words for Brown's approach to the nation's economy over the past eleven years.

Soros seems to talk sense

The discussion over the US Government's proposed $700bn bailout of the US mortgage market has left me a bit confused. The banks don't trust each other any more and won't lend to each other, and like a game of musical chairs in which not one but all the chairs are removed, the music has stopped and they're all left without a seat holding 'toxic' debt secured against over-valued property by people least able to service the debt. The US government somehow proposes to 'buy' these assets - but I don't see how this will increase interbank lending or help the struggling debtors. Now George Soros writing in the FT makes it a bit clearer;

The injection of government funds would be much less problematic if it were applied to the equity rather than the balance sheet. $700bn in preferred stock with warrants may be sufficient to make up the hole created by the bursting of the housing bubble. By contrast, the addition of $700bn on the demand side of an $11,000bn market may not be sufficient to arrest the decline of housing prices.

Something also needs to be done on the supply side. To prevent housing prices from overshooting on the downside, the number of foreclosures has to be kept to a minimum. The terms of mortgages need to be adjusted to the homeowners’ ability to pay.

That seems to make sense.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

This is your Britain, Mr Brown

As Brown frotted the morbid rump of a once substantial national party yesterday, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released its latest Viewpoint, penned by Policy Exchange's previous Director and Boris' current Policy Director Anthony Browne. The Rowntree Foundation is a wealthy body that has been looking for a purpose ever since we ceased pushing small boys up chimneys; it generally publishes rather concise but dull bits of liberal research and keeps itself to itself. So Browne's assault on Statism, Welfarism and Socialism is something of a departure for the Foundation. It's really worth reading.

Browne catalogues the plethora of ills that remove all doubt in any sane person's mind that ours is indeed a broken society. Gordon Brown's denial, as much to himself as to the nation, that there's anything wrong at all with the UK is exposed as dangerous delusion. The rise of violent crime, of family and community breakdown, the loss of morality, the bleeding away of social capital and the atomisation of our nation are all ruthlessly catalogued by Browne. One paragraph has been picked up by the papers in useful summary:
Perhaps most corrosive of all is the welfare culture, from the benefits system to social housing. It exists for a very good reason – to fight destitution – but it has unfortunately led to mass dependency, with people expecting the state to look after them, rather than state support being a last-resort safety net. This debilitating dependency mentality trickles down the generations, with children failing to learn the benefits of being financially self-sufficient from their parents.
Social housing, although very necessary, all too often becomes a trap discouraging social mobility. Incapacity benefit gives a financial reward to people for thinking of themselves, and persuading others, that they are unwell, rather than encouraging them to do their best
It's not hard to correlate this social corrosion with the inexorable rise of the central State over the last thirty years, the neutering of local and intermediate institutions, the explosion in the number of children growing up without their biological fathers, the pernicious 'rights' culture.

At the same time Direct Democracy launched Dan Hannan and Douglas Carswell's 'The Plan' (HT Conservativehome), the latest in a series of publications taking Localism forward. Direct Democracy's policy manifesto is:

I - Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect
II - Decision-makers should be directly elected
III - Citizens should be as free as possible from State coercion
IV - Local authorities should be self-financing
V - Policing should be brought under local democratic control
VI - The State should fund, rather than administer, education
VII - The State should fund, rather than administer, healthcare
VIII - Taxes should be simple, fair, transparent, efficient, competitive and low
IX - The supremacy of Parliament should be guaranteed over ministers, judges, officials and foreign treaty obligations
X - Candidates for public office should be selected from the widest possible base

In fact, the coincident publication dates could not have been more fortuitous; Browne catalogues the many problems the nation faces, Hannan and Carswell propose the solutions that would go a very long way to tackling them.

Gordon Brown's inane posturing, empty rhetoric and clumsy empathy may sound good to a few comrades, but I think the country knows in its heart that it's Direct Democracy's Local Britain, not Labour's Leviathan central State, that we need right now.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Toynbee's talking arse

Tuesday's always a good day for a laugh; it's the day the Guardian allows Polly Toynbee's arse to talk without sense or restriction. Yep, that big Lady Bountiful booty does its bit and without fail churns out a thousand words of risible bilge. Today's is a cracker. Polly reckons Labour should
  • Legislate for State funding to keep the dying Labour party alive, in lieu of members
  • Legislate to bring in PR to ameliorate Labour's coming electoral wipe-out
  • Legislate to impose State media censorship and ban Murdoch from owning more than one paper
  • Cancel defence spending and use taxes to give people nice treats instead
  • Cement the State's control of all children from birth to age eighteen
  • Tax the rich until the pips squeak
  • Legislate to impose minimum and maximum wage control on private enterprise
Polly thinks "The enemy media would proclaim it all outrageously, dangerously Soviet."

No Polly. Even the Soviets wouldn't be so ludicrously imbecilic. It takes a Toynbee to come up with this sort of crackpot guff.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Brown's viscious ideology

One of the most apparent changes to London's residential cityscape over the past decade is the proliferation of private nurseries that have sprung up everywhere. A testament to private enterprise, they have strategically located themselves adjacent to stations and parks, and I share my daily six minute walk to the station with parents dropping their offspring off before jumping on the train.

The grandparents and extended family of infants in London are likely to be at the other end of the country these days, the pressure is on both parents to earn, and so commercial nurseries that charge at a level that leaves enough of the wage of an earning half of a partnership over to make it worthwhile have been highly successful. Working single mothers earning at a high enough level will also be using them. The nursery is preferred over the at-home childminder because it offers their offspring the chance of socialisation with other infants, the building of a basic understanding of the value of social capital in sharing the play-doh.

The commercial day nursery is the visible manifestation of the coping class. A solution that allows both parents to work, but which also benefits the development of their offspring. The kids will be socialising with other kids from similar family situations. These places work. They're fine. They don't cost the taxpayer anything, they help increase national wealth, they help produce well-formed, well-socialised children who will enter primary school with a head start. For all these reasons, Brown loathes them with a simmering socialist fury.

Brown's pledge to extend central State nursery provision to all two year-olds is not a creative proposal but a destructive one. The success of the commercial day nurseries undermines Labour's dearest tenets on state Education provision; a generation of parents used to paying for day nurseries will be eager to ask why they can't do the same for schools, a developed nursery sector may move to expand into running schools, and the whole premise that it's the State's job to impose an educational system of equal awfulness on the nation's kids will be exposed as a sham.

For these reasons, at a time when the Institute of Fiscal Studies is predicting a £65bn budget shortfall by 2010-2011, Brown is pledging a £2bn scheme that will be calculated to neutralise the success of the commercial day nurseries. He will sell it to the feckless and workless who always want the benefits of anything going without having to lift a hand in toil or pay a penny in costs. He will deliberately distort the market. He will corrupt something that works with the baleful and putrescent hand of the central State.

Just another reason to be rid of this malevolent cabal intent on destroying anything good that rises in our nation.