Friday, 11 June 2010

Glasgow's fat cat managers get the chance to manage

Glasgow City Council needs to cut lots of jobs. By 2013 it needs to lose 4,000 staff. They asked council staff which of them might be interested in taking voluntary redundancy; 3,000 immediately volunteered to do so. So what's the problem?

Well, all those apparently 'highly skilled' managers employed by Glasgow at well over £100k each have declared themselves unable to manage without a huge surplus of workers, and are now blocking the volunteers from leaving.

I'll tell you what. Let the volunteers go, and any senior manager unable to maintain services using the wide raft of alternatives available to them should be made compulsorily redundant and follow them. Now's exactly the time we will find out just what these fat cats are really worth.

While the real criminals walk free

Ed Balls is making a decent fist of distancing himself from his government's swamping the country with legal immigrants and ignoring the vast army of illegal overstayers, all done, we are told, to piss-off and undermine traditionally minded Brits who valued their own culture and way of life. Balls and his criminal cabal have let in maybe 1m immigrants who shouldn't be here, yet not one of them faces justice.

Many MPs who lied, defrauded and stole their way to riches have now left Parliament with generous redundancy settlements; others of the guilty are still sitting. Only three Labour MPs are facing criminal charges. This was peculation on a gigantic scale, to the tune of millions, the organised robbery of the public tax chest by the pompous and privileged, puffed-up with a self-righteous sense of entitlement and still uncomprehending of the public anger.

Elsewhere, an Anglican vicar who it is alleged conspired with a Nigerian pastor / solicitor to marry African overstayers to broke EU nationals from Eastern Europe is undergoing trial in Lewes Crown Court and no doubt faces de-frocking and prison if convicted.

And an NHS manager who defrauded the taxpayer of £201,333.27 has just been jailed for two years and nine months despite having paid back some £150k of the stolen funds. She also had her £41,000 redundancy payment from the NHS blocked because of her misconduct.

Despite the squeaky rhetoric, it seems there's still one law for MPs and one law for the rest of us.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

That little oil spill in context

It has come to my attention that the dear Septics are getting in something of a kerfuffle about a little spilt oil. So today, in order to appease the dears, I'm going to pour an equivalent volume of engine oil into the tidal Thames at Westminster. How much is that?

The volume of the Gulf of Mexico is 2,424,000 cubic kilometers, or 6.43 * 1017 US gallons. The volume of oil spilt is estimated at 20m gallons to 50m US gallons; let's take the max, 5 * 107 gallons. That's one part of oil to 1.29 * 1010 parts of water.

The volume of the Thames at mid tide between Teddington and Gravesend is about 2.4 * 107 cubic metres (633 * 107 US gallons, or 127 times the total volume of the BP oil leaked). To replicate the 'environmental disaster' the Septics are claiming, I'll therefore have to empty 1.87 litres of engine oil into the river.

I sincerely hope this touchy feely gesture placates Mr Obama, and he'll now stop doing what Gordon Brown started - buggering my pension.

Netherlands election results

After an initial poll shock that suggested that Geert Wilders could be Holland's next PM, the last pre-voting poll suggested a more modest 18 seats for the PVV. In reality they achieved 21 24 - a gain of 12 15 from their previous 9 seats. Labour won 30, down from 33 and the Liberals 31, up from 22. The biggest hit was taken by the CDA Christian Democrats, down from 41 seats to just 21.

The Liberals (VVD), CDA and Wilders' PVV are all in the centre-right to right spectrum and could feasibly form a coalition government with a shared agenda, with 73 seats together. The centre-right VVD could team up with centre-left Labour (PvdA) with a total of 61 seats, but they are diametrically opposed on the need for spending cuts. I have a feeling that the first option is the most likely - and that Wilders will gain a seat in the Cabinet.

Interesting times.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Fake charity, fake figures


ASH, the fake charity, has conspired to produce a set of fake figures that 'prove' the smoking ban has cut heart attack rates. Um, to a point, Lord Copper ...


The Englishman has the low-down and links.

ASH received just £14,975 in public donations and legacies last year. Under the Fake Charities Rule (see below) its public sector grant aid would be capped at £14,974. This might even improve the quality of the rubbish they publish.

Should council leisure facilities survive?

Councils are under no legal obligation to provide leisure facilities; they are a 'discretionary' service. There is also a rule of thumb that public sector intervention in the economy is only justified to do something necessary that the private sector isn't doing.

In the case of council leisure facilities - municipal golf courses, fitness centres, gyms and swimming pools - we need to look at whether these meet the test above.

The private sector is very good at providing golf courses, fitness centres and gyms, and charges and barriers to entry are set at a level that provides various degrees of exclusivity. The only justification for paying for these out of our taxes is a social distributionist one; that poorer people can't afford David Lloyd club membership fees, but should have the right to use the same exercise bicycles or tee-off for the same hole at the taxpayer's expense.

Swimming pools are a little different. There's no money in running a commercial swimming pool, and the private sector simply doesn't do it. All private sector swimming pools are part of a larger commercial fitness / health 'offer' and cross-subsidised from profitable activities. 'Dry' leisure makes money, 'wet' leisure doesn't.

It comes down to whether you think teaching children to swim and allowing adults to practice the skill is worth paying tax for. Personally, I do. But I'd make a bonfire of the municipal golf courses and our cringe-making local 'leisure and lifestyle centres'.

Two very different questions

Matthew Taylor, Blair's former PR advisor, was quoted as saying yesterday
"Most people will say that we should devolve more decisions about cuts to the local level. But if you then ask them 'Should services depend on where you live?' and they say 'No, services should be the same everywhere'."
But the question 'Should services depend on where you live?' is a very different question to 'Should local people determine their own service levels?'. The first implies that someone else is making the decision, that Whitehall is rationing services, perhaps with a bias towards politically favoured areas. People, I suspect, read in the question the underlying question 'Is it OK for government to give more services to Barnsley than to Guildford?' and of course the answer is no.

I think Taylor suffers from that peculiar myopia whose sufferers are simply unable to conceive of an alternative to central Statism.

Try asking 'Is it OK for people in Barnsley to vote for higher local taxes and better local services than people in Guildford vote for?' and I think the conclusion will be rather different.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Fake Charities Rule

Here's a simple rule for the Treasury that should be promulgated at once to every Department of State, issued as Statutory Guidance to every Health Authority and Local Authority and instructed to every Quango;
No grants shall be made to, and no contracts entered into, whether as a Service Level Agreement or otherwise, with any registered charity the aggregate value of which would equal or exceed the value of public donations received by the charity over the same period. Public donations means donations (including subscriptions and covenants) received from individuals or firms other than registered charities, any government or public sector organisation, the European Union, the National Lottery, any non-departmental public body and any entity with a majority of public ownership.
This would kill overnight Labour's profligate spend with the Fake Charities whilst allowing discretionary funding to real charities for the time being.

The elephant in the public spending room

I have no doubt that the public will respond magnificently to Osborne's call to nominate government spending for the chop, and that high on the list will be everything we loathe about Labour's Big State. So all the prodnose non-jobs created to persuade us to eat less meat, drink less booze and walk more will go, as will all the Council propaganda rags, the social engineering quangos, the fake charities and all the detritus of interference and petty enforcement.

However, I comfortably predict that there will one area that will figure on no-one's list. My local council spends £45m a year on it; If one assumes that very roughly another 300 local authorities do the same, the annual bill comes to £13.5bn. It dwarves the cost of refuse collection, street sweeping, road repairs and lighting and parks maintenance together. It is, of course, the bill for children's social care - national conscience-money that allows us to feel complacent when a Baby P tragedy happens. It pays for children to be kept in care or fostered and for all the monitoring and social work that goes with the 'at risk' registers. And of course no local politician would dare cut this budget, no government would dare to force cuts through.

On top of this, my local council spends over £16m a year on 'Adults with Learning Disabilities'. I had thought this referred to Mongols, but a figure of 1 in 1,000 live births would give us fewer than 250 Mongols in the borough - does their care really cost us £64,000 a year each? Perhaps it does. Again, across the country this would come to something like £4.8bn annually

Adult social services for the elderly and those in hospital costs a further £25m a year with a further £5m for supported housing and care. That's another £9bn a year.

And these costs are the elephant in the public spending room. They are the costs of an atomised society, one in which the role of family, neighbourhood, community and intermediate institutions has been degraded and destroyed by the Leviathan State. Even a 10% cut across these areas would yield nearly £3bn annually, but it just won't happen, unless real power and real budgets are devolved down to their lowest level.

And a good chunk of this is also down to the 'Mail' and the very Redtops who now scream so shrilly for cuts; it was they that invented and encouraged the Paedo menace, aided and abetted by deeply stupid harridans such as Harman and her ilk who were happy to condemn all men as potential child abusers and require childrens' authors to be police vetted before speaking to their readers.

We reap as we sow, and unless we start to reverse these damaging social changes, we'll be stuck with an ever-growing bill and an ever more fragmented nation.

Monday, 7 June 2010

'Cuts will change British way of life'

Cameron's warning that the forthcoming cuts, the first swingeing tranche of which will come with the emergency budget in a couple of weeks, will 'change the British way of life' is being widely interpreted this morning as something bad, something undesirable, as though dependence on the Leviathan State were a good thing that will be missed.

For my part, I sincerely hope the cuts will change our present way of life. The vertical ties to the State have displaced for most of us the horizontal ties to family, community and intermediate institutions. We have been sold a pup, conned, duped and misled into believing this a somehow more superior model. We have given up tapping the natural spring that rises in our own garden in favour of daily deliveries of bottled water from the government truck. Labour's warnings, that without the State water truck we will all die of thirst, are specious; our own spring remains, dormant and a little overgrown, but able to provide still a source of water that makes us independent of the State.

All of us in one way or another have suckled at the State's teat. Not only as Welfare recipients or employees, but as consultants to whom billions each year are paid, as suppliers of goods or services, as constructors and and manufacturers. There will be few of you who don't owe part of your turnover to the tax pot. It's not just the Healthy Walking Co-ordinators that will be hit by the cuts, but the exemplar capitalist hi-tech unit on the University science park making sophisticated medical equipment, with half its sales being to the NHS.

With much reduced public expenditure on construction, my own sector will compete for scarcer work and inefficiencies will be driven out, firms will merge and the luxuries at the margin will disappear.

Labour presided over a giant Ponzi scheme in which they deluded themselves that the public sector was the economy. Hence their belief that reducing tax is to take money out of the economy, rather than to leave it in. Like all Ponzi schemes, it was doomed to failure. So we must export more, become more competitive, look for new domestic business opportunities and, importantly, as more and more decisions about public expenditure will be made locally rather than in Whitehall, we must rediscover that overgrown spring.