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Saturday, 5 July 2008

An economic model of bastards

Right, down to the boat, so I don't have time to do this justice today. But for any of you who are interested, I recommend the ISER's 2006 paper 'An Economic History of Bastardy in England and Wales'.

In particular, the identity

bastards /(1000-bastards) = (U / M)(fu / fm)

is an elegant thing indeed.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Oh Boris, you prat.

Boris, dear boy.

I think everyone had presumed that CCHQ had discreetly vetted your senior appointees. There always used to be some straight-backed chap with shiny shoes and a stripey tie who would quietly arrange for such enquiries. Didn't they offer, or did you not ask? Perhaps things have changed.

Do have the others checked. Despite what Lady Bracknell said, to lose two senior staff within your 100 day honeymoon is unfortunate. Three would be carelessness.

Did Thatcher make the underclass?

In an interesting response to a post below, John B replied:
But denying that the underclass *originally arose* between 1979-97 is stark raving mad
The concept of the underclass was originally introduced by Charles Murray in the US. He published The emerging British underclass in 1990 in which he identified a nascent British underclass. Writing for Civitas in 2001 he charted the progress of the underclass in the UK. Whilst there is no doubt that an underclass has grown since the 1970s, I think we must be clear in distinguishing between the growth of an underclass and the effects of 'sticky' structural unemployment.

Murray links three factors to define the growth of the underclass; unemployment, violent crime and illegitimate births. He hypothesises that the proximate 'cause' of an underclass is the lack of socialisation resulting from absent fathers. This lack of socialisation is manifested by 'voluntary' unemployment, particularly in the under 30s, and a rise in violent crime.

Britain's 'tin bashing' industries grew largely in north Britain during the Industrial Revolution because coal, limestone, iron ore and labour were available there. By the closing decades of the 20th century, demand had declined, production had shifted abroad and the world was shifting economically. Governments could artificially prolong the life of dying industries by direct or indirect tax subsidies, or artificially maintaining low exchange rates. None of which are in the nation's long-term interests; sooner or later the bullet had to be bitten. The social costs of this adjustment will always be high - workers unemployed, the wealth of dependent communities slashed. How rapidly the structural unemployment so caused adjusts, and to what extent the social costs of transition are eased, are inter-related to some extent. Generous welfare replacement will cause structural unemployment to be 'sticky', and long-term unemployment to grow. Those unfortunate workers unable or unwilling to move to find work, or to re-skill, may become poor. But it doesn't make them part of the underclass.

We have 5m adults of working age out of work at a time when demand deficient unemployment should have been minimal, and when the adjustments of structural unemployment from the 80s, nearly 30 years ago, should have faded. The factors that determine high levels of frictional unemployment are far less prevalent now than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago. The economic causes of involuntary unemployment are not significant.

The numbers of 'NEETS' - young people not in education, employment or training, and the drop-out rate of the young from employment markets marks a significant increase in voluntary unemployment. At the same time illegitimate births have soared; 27% of white children and a startling 67% of afro-Carribbean kids are growing up without their biological father. At the same time violent crime has become endemic. This is the underclass that Murray defines.

If Murray is right, and bastardy is the proximate cause of the underclass, we need to ask if Thatcher was responsible for the rise in illegitimacy. Well, in a curious way she might have been. "The war between the family and the State is very old" wrote Robert Nisbet "when one is strong the other is generally weak". Thatcher departed from the advice of gurus such as Hayek and Ralph Harris, and the period from 1979 marks the growth of a Leviathan central State, which Nisbet contends is at the expense of the authority of the family. And bastardy has certainly grown rapidly since 1979 (from Murray):

I also think John B has a point about oil revenues; we have used them to ease the social shock of economic structural adjustment, and as a result welfare dependency has increased. But Labour have exacerbated welfare dependency since 1997. And again, not all those who are welfare dependent are members of the underclass. As the Hills Report demonstrated, living in a Council house is a greater determinant of welfare dependency than anything else.

John also comments that
... the suggestion that the Tories, who created welfare-dependent communities, have any desire, intention or plan to end them is simply hilarious.
Ah, well we'll have to wait and see, won't we?

Depressing indictment of an educational Neverland

That MPs are so out of touch with the public feeling over the depth of their trough to have voted 'More Swill!' yesterday hardly surprised me at all and isn't really worth a post.

No, what's sparked the synapses this morning is this snippet from the 'Mail':
A quarter of teenagers believe education is not important because they intend to be footballers, TV celebrities or pop stars. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which carried out a poll of 2,500 youngsters, urged them to be more realistic about their prospects of finding a job in popular sectors such as entertainment and sport. The least popular careers were in the armed forces, manufacturing and sales.
There used to be much agonised liberal bleating in the 60s and 70s that education had a 'covert curriculum' that conditioned pupils to accept discipline, obedience and the ability to perform repetitive work tasks as training for a working life in the capitalist factories. The theory ignored the reality that, if anything, this 'covert curriculum' was most pronounced in the most prestigious private schools whose alumni no-one expected to man a conveyor-belt in life. Nevertheless, a reaction of sorts set in, and a kind of woolly 'personal realisation' agenda displaced one that graded children on objective merit. No more would careers officers direct 15 year-olds to the Fire Brigade, the factory, the supermarket check-out, the local agricultural college or typing school or, for the talented few, to university.

That the armed forces, manufacturing and sales - all fields that need people to turn up, obey instructions, be bored for lengthy periods and perhaps even to smile and be polite - are least popular amongst teenagers is hardly surprising. Teenagers are teenagers, after all. And who hasn't played air-guitar or crooned into a hair-brush with a fleeting dream of a packed auditorium? Perhaps it's Simon Cowell's fault that so many talentless people believe against hope that their tuneless squeaking is exactly what the A&R men are looking for. Perhaps it's Endemol, or the red-tops, or 'value' TV that have turned what used to be a private fleeting fantasy into something for which a quarter of pupils are eschewing education.

Or perhaps if they're that out of touch with reality, what they're really suited for is a job in Parliament.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Squalor and death in Labour's welfare ghettoes

The Scots were once amongst the greatest self-improvers in Britain. When a teenager I worked as a volunteer. The Glasgow alcoholic in his fifties who was a regular at the place where I donated my services was no surprise. What was astonishing to me at the time was the depth of his erudition; quotes, many of them accurate, from the classics and the names of philosophers and political economists introduced casually and without showing-away into normal conversation. His handwriting, when he was not afflicted with the shakes, was extremely well formed and fluent. His vocabulary was highly developed. He had, in other words, all the attributes of a highly educated product of grammar school and university, yet had left school at 14. All the rest was self-improvement; Scots families such as his that could barely afford meat on the table nevertheless subscribed to the 'Everyman' library, bound in cloth and printed on Foolscap octavo, and books and learning and their great power to improve and liberate were valued above all else.

That generation has long gone.

As a one-nation conservative I have never had difficulty in subscribing to Beveridge's crusade against the great Evils of want, disease, idleness, ignorance and squalor. Beveridge offered a ladder to climb out; Labour have pulled up the ladder and imagine throwing the nation's cash into the hole is policy enough. Beveridge's crusade has long been abandoned by Labour. Fraser Nelson writing in the Speccy writes of an East Glasgow he knows well; one of Labour's welfare ghettoes where half the working age population are welfare slaves, and which has an average life expectancy of 54 years, below that of Gambia, Ghana, Pyongyang, Gaza, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sudan.

Labour's destructive welfarism has not only caused a poverty from which our fathers and grandfathers fought to liberate our people, it has robbed them of the drive and hunger for self-improvement, stalled social mobility and locked generations into painful welfare slavery. A curse on Brown and on Labour and all its dullard minions.

Not only in East Glasgow either; in the East End of London where multi-drug resistant TB, bedbugs, outrageous levels of infant mortality and a squalor born of overcrowding and ignorance thrive, our people are also dying early and living lives of desperate hopelessness.

Labour's Chardonnay socialists have not only abandoned the most disadvantaged in the realm, they have used all the mendacities of the State to hide them from shameful view. Whilst Brown stands at the dispatch box and mechanically recites yet another ream of tractor production statistics or launches yet another five year economic plan people are living in squalor and dying in poverty in dark corners.

I have no doubt that if Beveridge rose from his grave today he would dismiss Brown and his Labour fools with scorn and anger. Right now there is only one successor to Beveridge on our political horizon, and it's Iain Duncan Smith.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

David Clelland tells a bitter truth

When a constituent wrote to MP David Clelland accusing him not of representing the interests of local people but those of his party it touched a raw nerve. Sir Patrick Cormack, a much under-valued MP of the old school, is one of the few who can honestly say 'I've always taken the line it's country-constituency-party, in that order.' For most, it's party first and last. So Clelland replied petulantly 'I don't want your vote. Stick it'. Thereby revealing what most MPs really think; voters are a confounded inconvenience. Clelland, though, is clearly making a rod for his own back.

Some years ago the manager of an internationally known London hotel received a letter of complaint from a guest who claimed to have seen a cockroach during her stay. She received this reply:
'Dear Madam,

I am mortified that you should imagine you saw a cockroach in your room. Never in the 256 years that this hotel has been open has such a thing been alleged. Our standards of cleanliness, housekeeping and hygiene are second to none, our controls on the opportunities for pests and vermin to enter are superlative, our monitoring and management of room standards amongst the highest in the world. Frankly, I am incredulous. I can only suggest that you yourself brought the creature in to the premises in your clothing or luggage. As a result of which I have instructed the toxic fumigation of all the rooms on the floor on which you stayed, an exercise that has meant substantial lost revenue for the hotel.

Yours etc.'
The effect was only spoiled by the secretary who inadvertently attached the post-it note to the back of the letter that read 'Send this woman the cockroach letter'.

If Mr Clelland doesn't want to lose all his electors one by one he'd be advised to invest in some standard response letters to constituents of inoffensive and non-committal insincerity. His colleagues will be able to provide templates. Oh, and a secretary who counts post-its the same way a theatre sister counts swabs.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

It serves vulgar Vuitton right

Here in south London the Nigerian village girls drag their yams back from the street market in Vuitton and Herm├ęs shoppers; not real ones, you understand, but clones made in some Chinese sweatshop and sold for a few quid. Fake Burberry has become part of the official uniform of the white underclass. These consumers are just responding to the appeals to conspicuous consumption made by the 'designer' companies. Glossy full page lifestyle ads in Cosmo aren't just read by the ABC1s; they're devoured by the staff and customers in every backstreet hair and nail parlour.

The trick to real class is never to advertise, and never to display a label or a logo or a trademark pattern. All else is vulgar. LVMH's judgment against eBay for selling clones of its downmarket tat will be about as effective as Cnut's attempt to reverse the tide. The failure of our Sumptuary Laws here in England should be a lesson to all who seek to control or limit the puissant urge of the poor and powerless to dress and accouter themselves in the manner of the wealthy and powerful.

Blears knows the truth about lies

Hazel Blears, as with all Zanu Labour ministers, knows that the trick to lying is to make it big, and keep telling it. So when her department's propagandist website proclaims 'Target shake up delivers stronger focus on issues that matter to the public' you know what it actually means is 'Target shake up delivers stronger focus on issues that matter to the government'.

'Right', Blears said to local government, 'you can pick your favourite meal. We're giving you real choice to make your own decision about this. And here's the list from which you can choose; Spam and chips, Spam and egg, Spam and beans, Spam beans and chips, Spam tomato and egg, Spam eggs chips and Spam, Spam Spam beans and Spam ....'

'England's top local priorities revealed today' reads the sub-heading, with a blatant mendacity that would earn an advertiser a month's ban from the ASA. Do they seriously imagine there's a subject left in the realm that believes a single word of their lies any more? Lies Lies beans and Lies ...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy a quiet chuckle at Ian Blair's latest predicament. This most PC of PCs, more Harman's copper than copper's copper, the man on whose heart the message of the Macpherson Commission's 'institutional racism' was engraved, is in hot water over allegations of 'racism'. It's nothing of the kind, of course; it's opportunistic shit-stirring by three mediocre black police officers who by the accounts of their colleagues have already been over-promoted and who simply aren't up to the job.

Ali Dizaei, Tarique Ghaffur and Shabir Hussain and all their highly-paid like in every corner of the public services who owe their promotion to their ethnicity and not their ability do no favours to the legions of decent, hardworking ethnic minority public servants everywhere who have reached their potentials on their own merits, at whatever level.

Ian Blair is faced with the dilemma faced by senior public sector managers everywhere who have made such appointments. They can't go up, they can't go down. The usual solution is either an early retirement package or a change of title and a sideways shift into some administrative backwater.

The lies at the heart of Straw's white paper - Concluded

From the foregoing, an ordinary elector (rather than a member of the Political Class) may be forgiven for thinking that there is a crying need for political reform that de-centralises politics, that empowers and engages local democracy, that halts and even reverses the massive levels of State funding for the incumbent national parties. All the recommended courses of action in Straw's white paper do exactly the reverse.

Simon Jenkins quotes Hayek in his 'Big Bang Localism'; "Nowhere has democracy worked well without a great measure of local self government... it provides a school of political training for the people at large as much as for their future leaders". I think it's even more important than that; I think a strong local democracy is the fundamental guardian of the internal stability of the United Kingdom. The anger and frustration everywhere in the Kingdom with central Statist diktat and the snouts of the Political Class is building up a huge charge that is only partially being earthed when electors have a rare opportunity to give Labour a kicking. Yet if there were an election tomorrow at which the Conservatives won a majority in the Commons, they too would become the focus of the nation's opprobrium unless they made moves immediately to rebalance our democracy.

I am an enemy to civil disorder and violent change. Business, trade, economy and prosperity are flowers that blossom where there is confidence in the rule of law in a benign and stable political democracy. The internal stability of the Kingdom is the best guarantee for the welfare of the British people. Political change must come, but I would rather it came as part of a peaceful and orderly transition than through chaos, anarchy and conflict. Straw's white paper is a desperate effort from a national political party reaching the end of its natural life as it is currently constituted to cling to its historical identity; Cameron was right to end the tri-lateral talks, for whatever his actual motives the result is in the national interest.

We face the prospect of a government that retains enough of a parliamentary majority to push through a Bill based on this white paper, and under Brown's leadership I fear they may do so. An entrenched Political Class increasing subventing tax funds for its members, the lines blurred between State parties, the executive, a politicised civil service, the legislature and even parts of the judiciary and all their by-blows, liggers and cling-ons with the mass of the electorate alienated and marginalised from political democracy heralds the prospect of conflict and civil disorder.