Sunday 30 September 2007

Tax Benefit Model Tables (3)

OK, it's Sunday evening, maybe I was going too fast with the last example, let's ask ourselves why single Mum became a single Mum in the first place ...

a) Before she had got pregnant, she was working 35 hours a week for the National Minimum Wage, let's call it 35 hours a week or £195 gross; she was renting privately and claiming housing benefit. Her net income, after housing costs was £102 per week (Table 1.1d, page 19 of pdf).

b) Once she's had the first baby, she gets her rent and Council Tax paid in full and ends up with a net income of £126 (Table 2.1b, page 114 of pdf). Hmmm, not much of an improvement then.

c) So time passes (about 9 months), she has another baby and whizzes to the top of the Council House waiting list, wa-hay, now she's hit the jackpot, her net income soars to £175 per week (Table 2.1a, page 114 of pdf) .

d) A bit more time passes, and along comes Shining Prince who earns £500 a week. Does she take his hand in marriage? Does she f***. Their combined income would fall from £548 (£373 for his net income, Table 1.1a, page 11 of pdf, let's ignore his housing costs + £175 for her net income, from above) down to £328 per week (Table 1.6b, page 92 of pdf).

Tax Benefit Model Tables (2)

Now that you have had a chance to limber up with Table 1.1d, which Vindico kindly picked up on, let's stretch our legs a bit by doing a like-for-like comparison between three different tables and imagine a little love story, let's inject a bit of human interest...

a) Let's imagine a single young feller, on £500 a week, who lives with his parents and has a net income of £373 per week (Table 1.1a, page 11 of pdf, let's ignore housing costs). He falls in love with ...

b) Unemployed single mum, one kid, no child care costs, local authority tenant, who has a net income after housing costs of £126 (Table 2.1a, page 114 of the pdf),

c) He moves in and makes an honest women of her, prepared to turn a blind eye to the fact it ain't his kid, and sticks with his old job. The new household's net income, after housing costs is a princely £325 per week after housing costs (Table 1.5b, page 80 of the pdf).

Oh right, let's do the maths, their combined income has fallen by ... £174 per week...£9,000 a year ... Despite his parents are letting out his old room and our Sincere Step Dad has to live with all the nappies and stuff.

Let's face it, not going to happen, is it?

Stat porn (3)

It looks like 2,000 people will have visited my site by the end of this month.

The best thing about Sitemeter is 'Referrals'. Over the past few hours, I scored place 22 on a google search for "james purnell photoshop", place 5 for "property market crash ireland", second place for "number and cost of quangoes 2007 think-tank research"* and first place for "green,white northwest strange flower". That last one particularly cheered me up, as this post led Ladythinker, who has laid into The Goblin King most mercilessly just now, to question whether I was a gardner. No, of course I'm not!

As ever, thanks to everybody who has dropped in, and especially those who have linked to here or left comments.

*I have now pushed myself down into third place, of course.

Tax Benefit Model Tables (1)

The DWP update these every year, a few months in arrears. These tables show how much tax and National Insurance people from different household types have to pay and what benefits they are entitled to. The version for 2007-08 appeared recently.

Before anybody - wherever they are in the political spectrum - talks about tax or benefits, I warmly recommend that they familiarise themselves with these tables, and try and do some like-with-like comparisons.

My choice for today, for you all to feast your eyes on, is Table 1.1d "Single earner, aged over 25, LA tenant, entitled to 30-hours WTC" (page 19 of pdf, page 17 of paper version).

a) If this chap or chappess works for 30 hours a week on the National Minimum Wage (£160.50 gross), his or her net income after housing costs is£98.53. If he or she doubles their gross income, their net income after housing costs increases to ... (wait for it) ... £127.47.

b) If this chap or chappess earns just under £175 per week, the tax and National Insurance they pay nets off exactly with the WTC they can claim (£19 each way) ... er ... why not just increase the tax-free personal allowance to £9,125 and have done with it?

So the next time a Nulab politician starts yapping on about the NMW and WTC 'making work pay' just remember that are talking out of their arses.

Or indeed some crusty Tory starts talking about time-limiting benefits to chivvy people into work, just remember that benefit claimants are economically rational - once you have got your benefits sorted there is little point in working.

Saturday 29 September 2007

"Schools to become 'world class'"

Look, Nulab have been in power for ten-and-a-half years, one of their original slogans was "Education, education, education", they have doubled annual spending on education*, yet the bulk of this extra has been wasted. Results are getting worse each year and standards are falling.

Is there any reason to believe this latest 'pledge'? Has the electorate's patience not run out yet?

Or are Nulab still blaming this on "Eighteen years of Tory underinvestment"? How much longer? When did Thatcher stop blaming stuff on Callaghan, and start taking responsibility and credit for herself? Must have been before 1989, surely?

* OK, doubled in nominal terms, increased by 48% after adjusting for inflation, and by maybe only 25% after adjusting for rises in salary levels - the bulk of education spending is salaries, after all.

Friday 28 September 2007

1984 (4) Photoshop


There was a story on BBC News 24 just now, James Purnell MP* failed to show up for a photo-opp at a hospital, so Nulab just photoshopped him into a right-hand side of a picture of the actual event. And they did it really badly, they showed the picture on the news**, he stuck out like a sore thumb, the lighting was all wrong, a kid with scissors and sticky tape could have done better.

* He got a first in PPE at Oxford, a bit like Dave, another complete waste of space.

** I have pinched this cut-out from Iain Dale, the full picture shows about five people. Thanks to RM.

NHS Fuckwittery (5): Deep Clean

The Goblin King decided this week that he was going to rehash Michael Howard's motto "Cleaner hospitals" in a desperate attempt to lose* the next election**, suggesting that hospitals all have a 'Deep Clean'. The professionals have rubbished this idea with a vengeance.

I like the bit about "regular use of hydrogen peroxide vapour generators" does this make people gradually go blonde?

*Which appears quite possible after all, according to pollsters who extrapolated yesterday's by-election results, although Vindico thinks that extrapolating like this is bollocks.

** The wheels are rapidly coming off the economy, the credit crunch and house price crash have started. Whoever is in power over the next few years will earn a reputation for economic incompetence that will see them out of power for decades. So you're better off losing the next election. The Tories seem to have twigged this ages ago - what appears to be bad management and incompetence is in fact a super-slick operation. Sir John Major has said that he sometimes wishes he hadn't won in 1992 for precisely this reason.

Goblin King's mannerisms

As well as going grey at an impressive rate, The Goblin King seems to have dropped that 'turkey' mannerism. Until a couple of months ago, he had that most irritating habit of pulling his chin in and down, opening his slobbery lips slightly and pressing his tongue against the back of his teeth, which I always found most revolting.

Altho' he has been on telly a lot recently, I haven't noticed him do it.

Has anybody else noticed this?

Thursday 27 September 2007

The Invisible Hand

My daily visits (that had reached about 80 at the height of my 'Kate McCann's tits' series, which is still reeling 'em in) had dropped to around 60 as of late.

Today's visits have doubled already (by 8.30 pm), having checked referrals in Sitemeter, it turns out that they all come via a brief mention in the Adam Smith Institute blog review #373*.

Netsmith, ta muchly!

*Bad new is, the average page views per visit was down from 3 or 4 to 1.5, those who came via the ASI didn't hang around long.

Global cooling

Brilliant. They are going to sort out C02 by chucking 134 million tubes into the ocean.

Please read in full and make up your own mind.

My only worry is, if they cool down the Gulf of Mexico, they might cut off that lovely Gulf Stream that keeps us warm in winter.

My Labour Conference Speech (excerpt)

"We will empower local communities, in partnership with voluntary organisations and businesses. We will engage in a dialogue with all stakeholders, with patients and parents and children, to ensure that people needs are being met and people are achieving their full potential. The British people's talents must not be allowed to go to waste. Our Citizen's Juries will help us reach out to the voters and show that their concerns are our concerns. Britain must have an education and a health system that is fit for the 21st century and beyond to help us meet the challenges of globalisation and climate change and enable to to integrate more fully with the dynamic economies of the European Union and beyond, not forgetting our historic ties with the Commonwealth and North America. Every member of the public must be able to feel safe in his or her own home. By ensuring local accountability and responsibility, we will ensure that victims of crime are given the reassurance they need by police officers in their own local community"

There, that only took me about 5 minutes!

Wednesday 26 September 2007

1984 (3): Junior Spies

"All [the children's] ferocity was turned outwards, against the enemies of the State, against foreigners, traitors, saboteurs, thought-criminals. It was almost normal for people to be frightened of their own children. And with good reason, for hardly a week passed by in which The Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak - 'child hero' was the phrase generally used - had overheard some compromsing remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police."*

So what, you may be thinking.

Until The Lad came home from school today with a sheet labelled "Food Diary"** in which he had to record what he had eaten for "Breakfast, Snack, Dinner, Snack, Tea and Snack" today. Given that only the daftest parents would enter "Burger, leftover chips, burger and chips, crisps, chips, crisps" or be so brave as to cross out "Dinner, Tea, Snack" and replace them with "Lunch, Dinner, Dessert", what is this really suppose to achieve?

Except to enable The State to single out the daftest parent for a visit from the Thought Police, or "Social Services" or "Health Visitors" or whatever they are called nowadays?
Update 20.07: The Lad confirmed this evening that the survey had something to do with the whole "five a day fruit and vegetable" concept, apparently some kids got stars on their chart. Right then, next time we shall include a few more apples and oranges under "snack". Bastards.
* From '1984' by George Orwell.

** c. 2001
Language Centre Publications Ltd.

NHS Fuckwittery (4)

When I hear people talking about "... markets, competition and choice ... improving our health service", my ears always prick up. Altho' the terms are fairly meaningless in themselves, I do believe that the aim must be a largely taxpayer-funded NHS with competing providers*, as in so many other countries.

The logical conclusion is that people could claim vouchers (for no more than full cost of NHS equivalent treatment) and go completely private, paying the top-up out of their own pockets or out of voluntary private insurance.

So why does trade union f***wit Dave Prentis come out with this in today's FT "We were really pleased that Alan [Johnson, current UK Health Secretary] made no mention of markets, competition and choice in improving our health service"?

Also in this article - a quango realises it is pointless and dissolves itself! Now there's a first!

* Who should own such hospitals and clinics is an interesting debate. I see no reason why they should not be owned by charities, churches, trade unions, the local authority as well as insurance companies and private operators. As long as they are competing!

Northern Rock

This saga rumbles on.

A lot of people on high horses say that it is wrong for the government (i.e. the taxpayer) to guarantee savers' deposits.

It strikes me that the simplest and best solution would be to rejig our insolvency laws so that savers* get repaid first. Even if NR have to write down their loan book by a quarter, there'd still be plenty enough to cover savers' deposits. It just means that bondholders (more sophisticated investors, hedge funds, other banks and so on) take more of the loss on the chin.

So HM Treasury would put NR into liquidation, lend it £20 bn, allow the savers move their deposits elsewhere, and then pay itself the £20 bn back with interest** and lets the bondholders squabble over what's left. Shareholders would get nothing, presumably.

This would be more-or-less risk-free from the point of view of the government, the taxpayer and the savers***.

* Banks would have to make it clear whether a particular account or corporate bond actually counts as protected savings or whether it is an unprotected corporate bond.

** Debts incurred in the course of a liquidation get paid next.

*** Interestingly, this would make deposits at banks like NR that fund most of their activities with bonds/money markets safer than at other banks.

**** I have explained how credit and house-price bubbles can be prevented elsewhere on this blog.

NHS Fuckwittery (3)

Neil Record, pensions guru, calculated that the true cost of unfunded pensions promises in the NHS* was about 35% of salary. In other words, if it were a funded scheme in the private sector, employer/employee contributions would have to be around 35% of headline salary.

The purely notional contributions are currently employer 14% and employee 6%.

Well, whoo-pee-do, the NHS has realised that this is a tad on the low side, so they have increased employee contributions by ... (wait for it) ... a whacking 0.5%.

And these are still notional contributions. So all it means is that for a headline salary of £20,000 the true gross will be £18,700. The figure £1,300 gets jotted down on the employee's contributions history, but it doesn't get paid into any sort of physical fund.

*under the old retire-at-sixty final-salary scheme, that is closed to new entrants but still applies to those already in the scheme.

1984 (2): Rewriting history

"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future", summarised Winston Smith in the book '1984'.

Trevor 'Coconut'* Phillips seems to have taken this to heart and now wants British history to be rewritten to make it more 'inclusive'.**

* This is not a term of racial abuse. It means an outwardly black person who has totally sold out.

** See also James Delingpole on the subject of Mary Seacole in 'How to be right', a book I am not ashamed to recommend.

"Gay football World Cup kicks off"

So what's new?

Most sport is totally gay anyway.

Oh ... I see ... they mean 'gay' as in homosexual. Oops.

Tuesday 25 September 2007

Three-way EU referendum - results

Despite a late surge* in votes for "In" (9 in total), there was no overall majority for any of the three options.

Once likely second-vote preferences were reallocated (i.e. the 6 votes for "Article 7a free-trade status" were reallocated to the 7 votes for "Out") the overall result is a resounding "Out", by 13-to-9 (59% majority).

Of course, having left, we'd be able to agree sensible free-trade agreements with EU (as envisaged by Article 7a), EFTA, NAFTA, China, India, ASEAN and so on.

A big thank you to everyone who took part!

*Results here. Voting closed midday 24 September 2007. If anybody wants their "Article 7a" vote reallocated to "In" instead, please advise.

Nick Drew demolishes The Goblin King

Nick Drew* tears The Goblin King's spin to shreds in a few short paragraphs here.

*Is Nick angling for one of those Tory spin doctor jobs? He certainly deserves one.

Matthew Parris

... was on the Today programme just now, commenting on The Goblin King's selective quotations from The Bible. He reminded us that 'talent' in that parable means a unit of currency, not a skill.

But best of all was Matthew Parris' comment that all the time he was listening to The Goblin King rambling on about everything-is-going-to-get-better and we-are-going-to-spend-more-on-everything, he was wondering whether The Goblin King would mentioned more tax rises or whether he'd trot out the feeding-the-five-thousand parable to explain that all these wonderful things would somehow magically pay for themselves.

Monday 24 September 2007

The Sun (2)

Having read today's edition in full, hats off to them.

Trevor Kavanagh mentions, in passing but IN CAPITALS, that besides the official national debt of £550-odd billion, The Goblin King is hiding a few tens of billions under PFI and PPP stuff, as well as ONE THOUSAND BILLION POUNDS for unfunded public sector pensions.

That's eqivalent to a liability of £30,000 for each and every taxpayer, to be paid off on an interest-only basis for all eternity.

Goblin King's golden hello

The email-o-sphere is bristling with rumours that Eastern Europeans are claiming child benefit and tax credits and sending the money back home.

This is old news, an email on this from a HM Revenue & Customs officer did the rounds a year ago*.

Basically, tax credits are based on the lower of this year's and last year's earnings, as most Eastern Europeans have annual wages lower than the income disregard (equal to the tax-free personal allowance) they automatically get full-whack tax credits for the first year, which is about £8,000 for a bloke that comes over here for a year and leaves wife and two kids at home in Poland or wherever. Which is about double the average earnings in Eastern Europe, or the 'A8' countries as they are called in Newspeak.

Which sounds a recipe for chaos to me. Oh yes, that's what we've got.

*If anybody would like me to forward it, please send an email to ...

Tax cuts

I am not Margaret Thatcher's biggest fan, but her mantra "you can't have economic stability without tax cuts" is brilliant.

"National governments largely superfluous: Shock"

Evidence here (via The Purple Scorpion).

Maybe the FT does understand economics?

Rabid EU-phile (but otherwise nice enough chap) Wolfgang Münchau hits the nail on the head here.

His article boils down to two simple facts:
1) Credit bubble = asset price bubble (in this case, house prices).
2) Once one bubble bursts, the other goes with it.

Rather than interfering in banking regulations to prevent 'reckless' lending (which never works, law of unintended consequences and all that), or telling local councils to grant more planning permission than local residents want, the simple solution to all this is an annual Land Value Tax (to replace and reduce other taxes, of course, make up your own list of priorities) that goes up when land values go up. This will act like a much higher interest rate on land values, i.e. will keep land values and house prices low and stable.

And yes, pensioners should be able to defer paying it (yawn) and it will be payable by freeholder not tenant (and unlike most taxes, very of little of it can be passed on via higher rents, this is an observable fact, yawn).

The Sun (1)

... are doing yet another on-line petition on whether we want a referendum on the EU Constitution/Treaty/Thingy.

Sign here, it only takes a minute!

Top blogging

Trixy's post here is all good stuff, but nothing new.

However, the title alone makes it worth a read.

Climate change

It looked a bit dark and grim ten minutes ago and now it is absolutely chucking it down with rain and it's really windy.


Leytonstone car free day

The street was packed with people watching The Beat, so I snuck between two stalls (that were lined up along the edge of the pavement) to be able to walk along behind them.

The lady in charge of one of the two stalls did not take kindly to this.

She started asking cretinous questions like "Did you not see that we put boxes in the way?"
"Well yes" said I "That is why I lifted my feet particularly high, so's to avoid tripping up"
"They were there to stop people sneaking between and behind stalls"
"Well they didn't work" said I

Honestly, power corrupts. Put a lady in charge of a stall and she turns into the SS. The only thing stopping me from telling her to f*** off back to Germany, the f***ing Nazi was the fact that I am far too polite, she was black and the place was teeming with PC police.

Sunday 23 September 2007

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

One of the six bullet points* under the Conservatives' hugely expensive "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" ad-campaign at the 2005 general election was 'Cleaner hospitals'.

They lost very badly.

The Goblin King now has decided to adopt exactly this pledge as the main plank of his next general election campaign.

Jesus H Christ, what goes around comes around, doesn't it?

*Those six bullet points look pretty good to me.

Goblin King going grey

Prime Ministers in this country go grey and then white, a process which continues unabated even after they have left or lost office.

Look at Thatcher in 1981 and 1997, John Major in 1984 and 2000, Jim Callaghan in 1976 and 1979.

Tony Blair managed to buck this trend by
a) becoming PM at a very young age
b) dying his hair all sorts of weird and wonderful colours (the purple dye attack was not carried out by a Fathers4Justice protestor at all, it was his hairstylist doing a last minute touch-up)
c) genuinely not giving too much of a shit about anything.

So let's look at the Goblin King a year ago and today. The rate of change is most impressive.

Great news for international shipping! (3)

The Times gave the story about the Northwest Passage yet another outing yesterday (not online yet, it seems).

John Sauven of Greenpeace gave a classic quote "The canary in the coal mine is singing very loudly now. At this rate we could see the end of summer ice in our lifetimes"

1. John, you knob, canaries don't sing when the air gets dangerous, they first show 'signs of distress' and then they keel over.

2. I have never seen the Arctic Ice, and I've never met anybody else who has. So I'm hardly going to miss it.

3. It seems fair to see melting ice-caps as evidence of 'global warming', but it's not global warming that anybody really cares about, it's rising sea levels that might muck things up.

4. As Arctic ice floats on water, if it melts it won't make any difference to sea levels.

5. Devil's Kitchen has linked to other studies that show that the amount of ice in the Antarctic is increasing. Now remember, that stuff is on land. If it were all to melt it could indeed get a tad damp in the Netherlands and East Anglia. But they never mention that, do they? I wonder why.

Human rights bullshit

One my UKIP chums had a letter in the local paper (printed version here).

The unedited version also mentioned that Lord Sedley (who called for a national DNA database recently) tutored at the 'Communist University of London' in the 1970s. Now, it turns out that this is just an occasional talking shop, not a real university, so let's give Sedley the benefit of the doubt on that one, it was 30 years ago, after all*.

But Sedley is the President of the 'British Institute of Human Rights'.

So I did a search on that, and came full circle with an article on the BBC website, in which Sedley waxes lyrical about the DNA database, but a spokesman for Liberty (formerly the 'National Council for Civil Liberties'), reknowned 'human rights' campaigners describes it as a "frightening scenario".

So if even these self-appointed guardians of 'human rights' can't agree on the DNA database, I think we can all make up our minds on it.

I'm with Liberty on this one, BTW. They did stick up for the NatWest Three, after all.

*In any event, the local paper didn't include that sentence in the published version.

Saturday 22 September 2007

EU Referendum - update

Clearly, people who visit this site tend to be intelligent and thoughtful*, as so far 9 out of 10 have voted for 'Out' or 'Article 7a free trade status' and only 1 person has voted for 'In', in my impromptu Three-way referendum on the EU.

I will let this run until Tuesday lunchtime and then announce the result.

*Or maybe, we're perfectly normal and that is how most people think. Or perhaps we're all 'Little Englanders' and 'BNP in blazers'?

"Rapeseed biofuel produces more greenhouse gas...

... than oil or petrol"

That's what The Times says, anyway.

Size zero debate and Darfur

Basically, women who don't eat enough are less likely to become pregnant.

As the good Dr Brewer says here, 'These are all part of the body's self-defence mechanism to prevent a pregnancy when you are physically unable to cope with it.'

So far so good.

So why is it, when they are showing what is happening in Darfur and so on, there seem to be loads of really young (and really sick) babies?

Cover versions

I do not generally approve of cover versions, but if you are going to do a cover, then why not choose a good song?

Why then did the 'BB twins' decide to cover the mildly irritating 'Barbie Girl'?

If you're going to do a cover version of an Aqua song, why not 'Doctor Jones'?

Chancellor calls top of housing market

The Badger successfully called the top of the credit bubble a week ago. He called for a return to responsible borrowing and lending. Two days later there was a run on the Northern Rock.

The Badger said in The Times this morning (scroll down to last paragraph):
“I take the view that the slowing of house prices and ensuring that they are based on reality is not a bad thing. It is in no one’s interests for house prices to go on rising year after year after year when that is not justified.”

Thus successfully calling the top of the housing market a week later. Expect to see a forest of 'For Sale' signs go up over the weekend.

Look chaps, I think Vince Cable is the only policitican or journo who seems to have dimly realised that there maybe is a link between NR collapse and high house prices. There's not just a link, they are TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN. You can't have a credit bubble without an asset price bubble and vice versa.

Friday 21 September 2007

Traffic lights (4)

Hats off to the Israelis and everything, but does this idea of replacing/supplementing traffic lights with 'smart' traffic lights appeal to anybody?

Please, can't we just try turning the f***ing traffic lights off, even if only from 6 0'clock Saturday afternoon until 6 o'clock Monday morning, or something?

And declare every inch of every suburban road to be a zebra crossing, with an automatic 12-month ban for every driver who doesn't stop for a pedestrian who wants to cross the road?

Just for a few weekends at least?

What's the worst that can happen?

Traffic lights (3)

Via Vindico comes this delightful animation.

I'm not sure if it supports the case for "TURNING OFF THE F***ING TRAFFIC LIGHTS" but it's well done, funny and quick to load.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Good parishioners of East Stoke, Purbeck, I salute you!

The Pedant's Apprentice

If you're on the Interweb and a bit bored (a not unlikely combination), try doing a search on 'The Pedant's Apprentice', and look up some of the comments.

I have no idea whether there is just one person or maybe thousands using this alias, but the sheer number and accuracy of comments made by the person (or people) using that alias are absolutely astounding.

Lies, damn lies and statistics (1)

"Between 500 and 600 people die every year in state custody in England and Wales, a report due out later will say" says the BBC.

Right, so out of 80,000 people in prison, 550 die each year, hmm, that's just under 7 per 1,000.

The death rate for the UK as a whole is just over 10 per 1,000*,

So it's a pretty crap headline, isn't it?

How about "Death rate in UK prisons slightly lower than national average"?

*Yes of course, we would expect death rate among prison population to be lower, as they tend to be younger, but hey.

Thursday 20 September 2007

Fingers crossed!

The MSM has not picked up on this Referendum on the EU, held in East Stoke.

Maybe more tomorrow?

The FT don't understand statistics

Per today's FT (scroll down to bottom of article).

"Mrs Spence said Cambridgeshire had 183 officers per 1,000 of the local population compared with the national average of 266"

For crying out loud, how can they print this stuff?

Don't they mean 266 per 100,000 of population? 266 police officers per 1,000 population would mean 1-in-4 of us is a copper!

Stupid 'phone conversation

My 'phone rang just now.
"Hi, Mark here" say I.
"Oh, I thought you'd be at lunch" says Her Indoors.
"Well, why did you ring me then?" ask I.

Macavity's not there (2)

We all remember the pictures of Nigel Lawson on Black Wednesday, admitting he'd fouled up (despite he hadn't actually, sterling was doomed the minute we went into the ERM).

Let's assume that this whole Northern Rock thingy is roughly on par with that for incompetence (altho' again, it must be emphasised, this is just the last ten years' chickens coming home to roost).

Having stuck His Ugly Head briefly above the parapet earlier this week, The Goblin King (who was the one who forced Mervyn King to do a U-turn*) has disappeared again and, surprisingly, hasn't even offered up his Chancellor, The Badger, as a sacrifice, nope, he's re-directing the blame onto Mervyn King, who was indeed "Only obeying orders".

Despicable, really.

*In their position, I'd have done the same.

Pedant of the week (2)

I gave my 6-year old lad his pyjamas yesterday evening and said "Here's your pyjamas".

He gave me a look and retorted "Here are your pyjamas".

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Fun online poll - results

The fun online poll is now closed (i.e. I have no idea how to turn it off, I shall just stop checking the results)

5 people voted for "I love [online polls] and always answer as honestly as I can"
4 people voted for "I think [online polls] are stupid and I never bother voting"

I admit there are problems with the methodolgy.

Emoticons celebrate 25th birthday

I think we should start using more "arsecons"
(!) = tightarse
(_!_) = lardarse
(*) = after a night on the curry
[!] = way too skinny
... etc ...

"Police chief fears migrant impact"

Stable doors*. Horses. Bolts.

*Stable doors via Woman On A Raft.

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Macavity's not there (1)*

I was just watching BBC News 24 to put myself into a bad mood, when up pops The Goblin King, yapping on about "The economy is strong, we will continue to create jobs, your money is safe with us".


Oh yes, it was in the context of the whole Northern Rock thingy. Oh God I hate and despise The Goblin King, skulking around, stabbing backs, proferring up The Badger to make inane comments like "It is, I'm afraid, yes" when asked whether his reputation was on the line. What reputation? What reputation for what? What line? What about the Northern Rock employees, what about their jobs?

The Goblin King was silent for five whole days since The Badger called the top of the credit bubble. Now that it seems to be calming down a bit, up pops His Ugly Face to spout some more lies, no doubt to retreat to His Underground Lair again until the next crisis is over ...

*It is spelled 'Macavity', it's a play on words on 'cavity', it is not a Scottish name like 'MacCavity'

One more reason to hate Dave

Dave is reported as saying that "Action to reduce the pay gap between men and women is a 'vital part' of this family agenda" in today's FT.

Dave, you complete idiot, a few facts of life:
1. The last thing businesses need is more 'action' i.e. regulation and inspection.
2. This equal pay stuff is more of less unenforceable.
3. The main driver for lower pay for women is because they take a few years off to have children. Women who never have children earn roughly the same as men.
4. This could be sorted out very easily by increasing child benefit (non-contributory, non-taxable, non-means tested) to £30 or £40 per child per week (and scrapping all the tax credit nonsense), payable directly to the mother* which would make a mother's net disposable income much the same as a man's.
5. Finally, and this is the killer logic that the Oxford-educated twat overlooks, if you forcibly increase women's pay, you'd have to drive men's down. So my wife would win and I would lose. But as we basically share all income and expenses, it'd make bugger all difference to us (as a married couple). The people who would benefit most would be working unmarried mothers. So actually this equal-pay doolally discourages marriage/cohabitation**. And I thought the Tories were 'pro-marriage'? At least they should be.

Dave, I am starting to really despise you for the vacuous knob that you are!

*Which all ties in neatly with the Citizen's Income approach to welfare reform.

** An even more hard-hearted argument is that if women earn a lot less than men, they are less likely to want to be single mothers, but a married woman is more likely to have children, because the fall in household income is not so big. But let's not go there.

EU Constitutional Treaty Art. 7a

From an article by Lee Rotherham in the European Journal (via Christina Speight).

"In a few brief words, this clause becomes the very germ of the EU’s ultimate self-destruction. Without realising it, the ‘fathers of Europe’ have acknowledged that countries can aspire to be free of the red tape, stay clear of the assaults on freedoms and national justice, and just quietly sell their goods to their neighbours. It allows politicians to legitimately consider taking back national powers by withdrawing from the EU and renegotiating as an outside partner. It not only legitimises national sovereignty and independence; it authorizes and endorses it. As sovereignty is squeezed, regulation by regulation, leaving the EU by this route will become increasingly attractive."

So sod the referendum on the Treaty, and don't let's be fooled into a 'nuclear option' referendum of straight in or out: we can have a ...

three way referendum on the EU:
Move to Article 7a 'free trade' status free polls


As far as I can make out, proposed Article 7a reads:

(1) The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring states, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.

(2) For this purpose, the Union may conclude specific agreements with the countries concerned. These agreements may contain reciprocal rights and obligations as well as the possibility of undertaking activities jointly. Their implementation shall be the subject of periodic consultation.

Great news for international shipping! (2)

Those BBC wankers are still at it, y'know.

Yesterday on the News At Ten they had a piece on the melting of the Arctic ice cap, saying that the Northwest Passage was now ice-free for the first time since records began*, and showed footage of two icebreakers laboriously smashing their way through 6' thick ice (which is not very thick by Arctic standards, but hey).

Seeing as this passage was navigated a hundred times in the last hundred years (per Sunday Times) I don't see what there is to get excited about.

This story was torn to pieces by Peter Risdon and DK (links here).

Maybe the Panamanians ought to get on with widening that Canal after all.

* in 1978.

Stat porn (2)

It appears I have passed the 1,000 visits mark. (You can knock off about 50 because obviously I log on about three times a day to post and reply to comments).

Daily visits seems to be holding up, even though I haven't done any posts about Kate McCann's tits for a while.

Thanks you to everybody who has visited and especially to those who leave comments.

Monday 17 September 2007

Dr Dolittle

I vaguely remember a scene in one of the books*, where Dr D tracks down a really rare butterfly and talks to it for thirty seconds, after which he allows it to fly off again.

His assistant asks him why he didn't try to find out more, there were so many question left to be answered.

Dr D replies that as the butterfly only lives for one day, even thirty seconds represents a huge chunk of that butterfly's life.

I wish that governments were a bit more like Dr D. We only live once, and the more time we spend doing what we want to do, and the less time we spend filling in forms, complying with regulations, waiting for trains that are delayed and being kept on hold, the better.

In fact, "Dolittle" is a pretty good name for a libertarian.

*If anybody has further and better particulars, please leave a comment. Assuming you have the time to spare, of course!

"Where are the red lines now?"

I have cheerfully cut and pasted this from the UKIP website.

"EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini has called for the relaxation of EU immigration controls in order to throw open Europe's borders to an extra 20 million workers from Asia and Africa. Is there any doubt about which EU country these people would head for?

Gerard Batten MEP, UKIP spokesman on Immigration asked: "So where does this leave Gordon Brown's much-vaunted 'red line' on this subject, which is supposed to protect the UK from the worst excesses of the revived Constitution?

"In tatters, of course – just like the other 'red lines' will be when the EU gets its Constitution."

Lib Dems to "hammer the rich"?

Look here chaps, the tax system is there to raise money!

The Lib Dems had a policy in 2005 that they'd have an extra 10% tax on people earning over £100,000 p.a., which'd raise another £5bn*, a policy they dropped in 2006** and now appear to have resurrected. Which is mathematically correct. There are 500,000 people in UK with taxable income over £100,000, average taxable income £200,000. So if 500,000 pay an average extra £10,000 in income tax, that's £5bn more in the kitty...

No it f***ing well isn't!

If one-tenth of those higher rate taxpayers bugger off, that means receipts would fall by 50,000 x average income tax £70,000 = £3.5bn. And if they are all employees, it's 50,000 x average income tax/NI £100,000 = £5bn.

So what's the point?

Ah, problem solved.

*Or about 1% of current government receipts.

** See para. 2.2.2 on page 17 of this from August 2006.

ConservativeHome (1)

They've turned on comment moderation.

Where's the fun in it now?

It's not just me then!

Alan Greenspan, whose reputation probably exceeds his forecasting powers* reckons that "Britain's housing market is heading for a painful correction" in an interview in The Daily Telegraph.

I reckon that house prices will follow the long-run pattern and fall by about half relative to average earnings over the next few years (see summary here), but like in the 1970s or early 1990s, the government will have to allow high inflation to mask this, so that nominal prices do not fall too far.

*Greenspan coined the phrase 'irrational exuberance' back in 1996; would he claim credit for predicting the Asian debt crisis of 1998 or the dot-com crash of 2000? Or the sub-prime collapse of 2007? A painted clock is right twice a day.

"Greenland sees bright side of warming"

Following my post "Great news for international shipping!" it seems I overlooked this corker "Greenland sees bright side of warming" in which they sum up all the pro's and con's and find that, on balance, they'll be a lot better off if the ice recedes.

As a resident of the British Isles, I think that on balance global warming would be good for us as well. My problem is, there are plenty of bloggers who dig up reports saying that there is no such thing as global warming, and that global cooling is just as likely.

Bugger. I hate the cold.

Sunday 16 September 2007

Fun On-line Poll - update

8 people have voted so far in my fun on-line poll:

5 people have voted for "I love them and always answer as honestly as I can"

3 people have voted for "I think they're stupid and I never bother voting"

Just to keep up the suspense a bit more, I shall not close the voting until noon on Wednesday 19th.

The problem is, I still don't know how many people saw the poll and didn't bother to vote because they think on-line polls are stupid. Maybe I should have had a third option to cover this possibility? Any thoughts how I could have worded this?

Sie können HTML-Tags verwenden ...

Weiss jemand warum das jetzt überall auf deutsch erscheint, und wie man es wieder auf englisch umstellen kann?

Update - you sign in, click customise, click dashboard and then re-set language to 'English-English' (which then shows up as just 'English'). I was just starting to get used to German as well.

"Cameron hits out over bank crisis"

"Flails arms petulantly and stamps foot on ground" more like.

Take a note of this Dave:

1 - NuLab are overspending massively, but apart from the fact that they don't include future public sector pension liabilities in official government net debt, I am afraid to say, that the official debt-to-GDP ratio is lower than ten years ago, altho' it is rising again*. I wish they'd wasted less and paid off more debts, but there you go.

2. - There is no particular correlation between government borrowing and private borrowing. If anything, you'd expect there to a negative correlation - if government borrows, then it pushes up interest rates, so you'd expect there to be less private borrowing. In any event, what does government borrowing have to do with the Northern Rock collapse?

3 - Yes, there has been a massive expansion of private debt. That's called a credit bubble. And, what's the other half of a credit bubble? An asset price bubbble. And which assets are we talking about? Residential properties. As soon as credit tightens a bit, then *pop*, there's your house-price crash. Are you, as Tory leader brave enough to point out that everybody's house if massively overvalued? Nope, I thought not.

What do they teach them on the Politics, Philosophy & Economics degrees nowadays?

What do they teach them at Eton, for that matter?

*The official figure for government debt is £600 bn-odd. The true figure for government debt would include a further few billion for PFI stuff, and approx. £1,000 billion for unfunded public sector pension liabilities, so it would be two-and-a-half times the official figure, but I do not know what the corresponding adjustments would be to the official figure of ten years ago.

Saturday 15 September 2007

1984 (1)

"Winston was writing in his diary ... For the moment it was too difficult to go on. He shut his eyes and pressed his fingers against them, trying to squeeze out the vision that kept recurring. He had an almost overwhelming desire to shout out a string of filthy words at the top of his voice. Or to bang his head against the wall, to kick over a table, and hurl the ink-pot through the window - to do any violent or noisy or painful thing that might black out the memory ...

"He pressed his fingers against his eyelids again. He had written it down at last but it made no difference. The therapy had not worked. The urge to shout filthy words at the top of his voice was as strong as ever"*

Pretty much sums up swearblogging**, actually.

*From '1984' by George Orwell.

**(TM) Devil's Kitchen.

The Cats 22 Question ...

... will The Goblin King reintroduce Claws 4 as well?

(via Christina Speight)

BBC cuts and pastes from UKIP website

There's not much I can add to this EU-referendum debate*, but what is noteworthy is that the BBC seem to have cut-and-pasted a UKIP press release straight onto their website.

Scroll down to the last bit headed "UKIP welcomes move" here and compare it with the original on UKIP's website.

Or was it the other way round?

*Click the 'EU' or 'UKIP' labels if you're interested in my view.

Great news for international shipping!

Maybe the Panamanians don't need to bother widening their canal after all, nature has re-opened a short-cut between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific.

Update. Via Devil's Kitchen, comes this valuable bit of research from Freeborn John. Follow the links, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!

Passion flower - weird or what?

Look at the thing - it's like from another planet.

The first layer is nine big green/white petals.
Then a small yellow circle with a ring of spikes that start purple, go white in the middle and are then blue-ish at the end.
Then a 3-D target on the yellow circle made up of a dotted black line and some pink/black spikes that point inwards.
Then a little green stick in the middle with five yellow things hanging downwards.
Then a little green ball on top of that.
And finally three droopy purple things on that look like antennae.

I plucked one of the flowers (it grows along my neighbour's side of the fence) and took it with me when I dropped the lad off at school, and the other parents agreed is was pretty weird.

Friday 14 September 2007

Traffic lights (2)

They have now finished the roadworks in the town centre and have turned the traffic lights back on.

The result? It's all snarled up again*.

*The author has no great personal interest in this, as he does not drive a car (altho' he does take the 'bus or a mini-cab sometimes, which are of course also affected) and further, the traffic is no longer diverted across the end of our road (which has been pedestrianised again), making my kid's life that little bit safer. I'm just saying, that's all.

"Charge drunks for treatment, say Lib Dems"

Says the Grauniad headline (via Tim W).

Besides the serious point that drinkers pay for these externalities via VAT, alcohol duties and so on, I know that the leadership hates Charles Kennedy, but talk about kicking a man when he's down.

Pedant of the week (1)

I have been awarded a "Pedant of the week" by The Remittance Man.

"Cash for councils building homes"

And, following on from my previous post, if house prices had stayed at 1995 levels (relative to income), we wouldn't need so many council houses (or have to listen to politicians bleating on about 'affordable housing'), on which the government is going to waste another half a billion of our English pounds*.

Well done Goblin King! Get in there at the top of the f***ing market!! Buy up residential land for millions of pounds an acre, and watch its value plummet again!!

Or is this just your overall investment stategy, sell low, buy high?

*Which, like most Nulab policies, is based on hope not experience, evidence shows that once a house-price boom is underway, even a massive expansion on construction won't stop it; it just makes the ensuing crash even worse.

"Northern Rock gets bank bail out"

The most relevant measure of house prices is the ratio of average house prices to average earnings. Here's a summary of a graph produced by the Nationwide available here

1953 4.0 (peak)
1960 3.0 (trough)
1973 4.8 (peak)
1982 3.4 (trough)
1990 4.9 (peak)
1995 2.8 (trough)
2007 6.0 (peak)

Conclusion: House prices go up and down in cycles of about 18 years.

Nobody really knows why, human nature I suppose. I consider it to be A Bad Thing, all-in-all, because it leads to stories like the Northern Rock bail-out (bale-out?). Won't people with savings at Northern Rock just panic* and withdraw everything? They'd be daft not to, really.

All very worrying.

And how do we prevent these house-price (actually, land-price) bubbles? By having an annual tax on land values. If values go up, the tax goes up, so values go down again.

And I'm not saying this because I want to tax people more, I think taxes are far too high, the point is that Land Value Tax does have a lot of positive knock-on effects, unlike taxes on turnover and income that only have negative knock-on effects.
*UPDATE (10.00 am) there was a huge queue outside the Northern Rock branch round the corner from where I work, TV crews and everything.

Thursday 13 September 2007

Portuguese police name further 'aguido'

In a dramatic development, Portuguese police have named a further aguido and have applied for a warrant for her extradition to Portugal. Cuddle Cat was unavailable for comment last night, as she was having a nap.

How to attract traffic

Via the ever reliable Vindico.

All I've added is the Labels

Trade winds

Don't these bloody Tories, for all their posh private education, remember the 'Trade Winds', y'know the ones that took our ships round the North Atlantic on their counter-clockwise journeys in days of yore?* The same counter-clockwise direction as the Gulf Stream?

Obviously not. Vindico highlights this passage from their much-hyped 'Blueprint For A Green Economy' nonsense:

"Half the air pollution we produce in Britain we export to the rest of Europe while, in turn, half of what we suffer comes from the Continent"

I posted a witty comment but had to make several corrections. Here's how it should have read:

"Wrong, Dave. On several counts. Over north-west Europe, the prevailing wind is south westerly so our pollution goes to Scandinavia (sorry lads!) and stuff from the continent goes nowhere near us. Finally, Dave, 'export' is when you sell goods and services abroad"

*was that history lessons or geography lessons?

The old ones are the best ones

A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the object, only to find a little old Jew at a small stand selling ties.

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"
The Jew replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."
The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need Water! I should kill you, but I must find water first."
"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need. Shalom."

Muttering, the Taliban staggered away over the hill.

Several hours later he staggered back. "Your f***ing brother won't let me in without a tie."

Reverse the ageing process!

"Cocaine users 'getting younger' " say the BBC.

That's the first time I've heard that cocaine was good for you.

Putting the cart before the horse

"This is about much more than money. This is about vision for Europe. Because before we decide how to spend money in the European Union, we need to decide on the results we want," Mr Barroso said.

Wot? They've been going for fifty years and haven't yet decided which results they want?

Can somebody tell them that the best results can be achieved at zero- or negative cost, i.e. cut EU budget, shut down all the quangos, scrap all the regulations (especially on agriculture); scrap all the barriers to free trade (esp. with non-EU countries); scrap all the harmonsation*; scrap the CAP, give us our fishing grounds back; stop this ridiculous system of taking our money and then giving 76% of it back (see 'Myth 4' here).

In fact, replace the whole thing with ... er ... a Europe-wide free trade agreement.

And "decide how to spend"?? They don't know where half the money went in the last ten years, they might try sorting that out first.

*If the Germans want to keep their beer purity laws, fine, if the Brits want to drink it in pints, no problem. And so on. If you want to sell abroad, sure, you'll have to meet that country's standards, is all.

Chancellor calls top of debt bubble

Ah, the delicious irony and hypocrisy of it all.

The Badger has told banks to start lending more cautiously, and borrowers to think harder about what they can afford to repay.

The words "IT'S A BIT LATE NOW, MATE!!" spring to mind*.

The Badger "made no suggestion government would intervene with tighter regulation of lending". Golden rule - if a politician denies that something is going to happen, then it's probably going to happen.

Full Daily Telegraph interview here.

*The collapse of Northern Rock a day or two later sort of makes this all a bit 11th hour, surely he must have known about it, horses, bolts, stable-doors and all that?

Wednesday 12 September 2007

One bottle for £2.99 or three for a fiver?

On the way home, half an hour ago, I took two bottles of Italian white wine @ £2.99 each to the checkout in the Turkish Food Centre.

The lass at the checkout rang up £5.98 and then told me that they were three for a fiver. So I took another one and saved 98p!

Go figure.

Ming Campbell is a liar. And stupid.

"Sir Menzies, a 'pro-European', told the Financial Times the new EU reform treaty was 'sufficiently different' from the original constitution to avoid the need for a plebiscite."*


1) It's not different, anybody who knows about this says so, on both sides of the fence.

2) MPs voted back in February 2005 that we ought to have a referendum. And it was in the ruling Labour Party's General Election Manifesto for 2005.

3) What does 'sufficiently different' have to do with it anyway (even if it were, which it's not - see point 1)? Does that mean, if The Goblin King signed up to a Treaty to make us a territory of Russia, that'd be OK, because it is 'sufficiently different' from the original Constitution?

So he's lying. Lying. And stupid. Because we know he's lying. And he must know that we know he's lying. And so on. And undemocratic, because of 2). And illogical because of 3).

Ah ... problem solved.

*See also Reactionary Snob

British workers getting poorer

Average wages growth to July 2007 3.5%

RPI inflation to July 2007 3.8%


Simon Clark has asked whether the 3.5% is after adjusting for inflation. Methinks not. If you go to the ONS report and scroll down to the bottom, it says:

"In the year to July 2007 consumer prices increased by 1.9 per cent, which is below the rate of earnings growth"

Fun online poll

What do you think of on-line polls...
I love them and always answer as honestly as I can
I think they're stupid and I never bother voting. free polls

Impeccable logic

From the BBC's 'Have your say' on "Is the EU right to give up on 'metric Britain'?"
"Metrication ensures prices now increase by a minimum of nine time that of sterling. If we adopt the Euro at 1.41/£ prices will increase by 35% plus 5% on food and clothing.

Robin Stowell, Bideford"
I get the point that something that costs £1 now will cost €1.40.

Does anybody have a clue what the first sentence means?

Stat Porn

I started blogging in July, and turned on Ye Olde Sitemeter on 1 September 2007.

Altho' this is a serious political blog, I couldn't resist doing a couple of posts about Kate McCann's small but perky tits.

Since then the old visits/page views have improved enormously, but I haven't had many comments.

So this has backfired horribly.

If any fellow libertarians have any idea how I unpaint myself out of this corner, please advise!

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Ramadan 1428. A ding dong.

To celebrate the start of 'Ramadan 1428' (f***, these people really do live in The Middle Ages), here's a vignette from work...

A colleague went for lunch today with a Muslim ex-colleague (a nasty back stabbing little shit, as it happens). Apparently, it had to be today, because Ramadan-a-ding-dong starts tomorrow.

I told him he should have postponed 'til tomorrow, had a slap up meal in front of the hungry ex-colleague and toasted his health with a few glasses of fine wine.

And then asked him if he wanted to split the bill.

Kate McCann's tits (5th and final)

In reply to HNL (comment on Kate McCann's tits 4), I guess in this one she is not wearing a bra, as they look decidedly unperky.

Altho' these gratuitous but (to me) enjoyable posts have boosted my number of visits a lot, I guess I am attracting the wrong sort of people, because the number of comments (and that is what counts) has fallen to one or two a day.

So for the last time, I give you ...

Trade Union pornography

From today's FT.

"Tom Lannon, Ucatt convenor on a central London building site [said] 'The prime minister's commitment to provide more apprenticeship places and increased training was particularly pleasing. It was also good to be reminded about how much life was worse under the Tories. But the response on public sector pay was disappointing.'"

Let's look at those three short sentences, shall we?

1. There is f*** all the Goblin King can do about apprenticeship places, this is largely up to the private sector, unless he's thinking about apprenticeships as a 5-a-day-advisors.

2. "It was good to be reminded about ... the Tories", that was TEN YEARS AGO. Get over it, you twat, wake up and smell the coffee. History has been rewritten so many times, it does not matter what a Conservative PM may or may not have done ten or twenty years ago, or whose fault the 'decline of British manufacturing' was*.

3. "But the response on public sector pay was disappointing". Look, the Goblin King is paying public sector workers about TWICE as much as ten years ago, there are 8 million instead of 6 million, and those 8 million are paid about 50% more than ten years ago (their pay has risen on the whole 4% faster than elsewhere, say).

They can f*** off and get jobs in the private sector, the sponging whining gits**! Oh no, not gonna do that are they? Because pay, perks and pensions in the private sector (esp. for low-skilled jobs, like being a climate-change-officer) are LOWER than in the public sector (for the first time in decades, possibly first time ever).

*Actually, it's not so much a decline in manufacturing, it's a decline in EMPLOYMENT in manufacturing, these factories are so automated and so efficient, they hardly need people any more. So there!

**Tom works on a building site, so this does not necessarily apply to him.

Neil Harding, Smoking Ban

Longrider, Cleanthes and I have been having a crack at one of Neil Harding's posts in which he directly attacks Longrider in a fairly defamatory fashion. We narrowed the debate down to the smoking ban (as a litmus test of libertarianism). If you don't have time to read our comments and Neil's evasive replies, here's my final thought on the matter:

"I looked up alcohol licences, and they appear to be only a few hundred pounds a year, depending on size of pub.

So if the council charges £10,000 a year to allow somebody a smoking licence, only a few pubs would go for it and the council rakes in a shed-load of money for no effort whatsoever, a form of Land Value Tax, if you will.

Everybody wins.

The landlord only pays the £10,000 if he thinks he can increase his net profits by at least that much. The smokers win. The local council wins.

And most pubs would remain non-smoking - if all the pubs in any area paid the £10,000 for a smoking licence, then the advantage would be competed away, and some would give up the smoking licence again.

That's that fixed."

Imperial weights and measures

Hurray! The EU buggers have seen sense and are going to allow us to stick with pints and stuff.

Boo! The fact that the BBC use the words "allow the UK to continue using pounds, miles and pints". Rather than "stop trying to force us to go metric".

Monday 10 September 2007

Kate McCann's tits (4)

Oh sod it, here's another one.

Dispatches re Olympics

Sure, the reporter was hamming it up a bit, but even knocking off 50% for exaggeration, this is absolutely nauseating, it's not just Nulab fat arses like Tessa Jowell in on the act, it's Tories like William Hague and Lord Coe.

And Ming The Charismaless whining on about his guys didn't get their snouts in the trough is hardly a consolation.

Jesus H F***ing Christ, '"We are all screwed" does not even come close.*

*When swearing doesn't help, you know it's time to lie down.

Kate McCann's tits (3)

I Googled "Kate McCann" and "tits" and came top out of 549 hits!*

Pride? Doesn't come close**

Here are the first and second posts, so that nobody is disappointed.***

*Obviously this number will only show up as long as it shows up and no doubt the link will expire in a few hours or days.

**As Tim W once said in a similar situation.

*** These two pages are ranked first and third by entry/exit pages on Ye Olde Sitemeter. Which possibly explains why I am getting more visits but fewer comments, this being a serious political blog and all. Ah well.

Kate McCann's tits (2)

I got a huge increase in the number of visits over the weekend after mentioning Kate McCann's tits. So I'll try again today. Are they beautifully perky or what?

"Banks could face £70bn debt bill"

That sounds like a frighteningly large amount of money.

To put it in perspective, the amount relates to "Leading UK and European banks". Banks are owned/run by, and for the benefit/at the risk of individuals. Seeing as there are about 459 million people in the EU, plus another 10 million in Switzerland and so on, that makes about £150 per individual, or £15 per day for the next ten days, so nothing to lose any sleep over, then.

The EU and the Euro

Having wiped the floor with Neil Harding, I would like to deal with the specific point on exchange rates. According to HM Revenue and Customs official figures, the average GBP/EUR rates for the past few years were as follows:

2004 - 1.474
2005 - 1.4626
2006 - 1.4664

hardly wild fluctuations, eh?

They're at it again

The CPRE claim that "50% of England is disturbed by noise and visual intrusion", and use this handy map as supporting evidence. What it actually illustrates is that about 10% of England is urbanised (population density in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is much lower).

So we're hardly disappearing under concrete, are we?

Their Chief Exec, Shaun Spiers, says "Countryside which is undisturbed by noise and developments is vital for our quality of life".

OK, there are those who like a walk in the countryside, but seeing as the UK has the smallest and most expensive houses and gardens in Europe, I think what'd be a damn sight more important to people's "quality of life" is having larger, cheaper homes and gardens, eh?*

And if we have to 'sacrifice' 1% of our agricultural land to build four million decent-sized homes, then so be it**.

*The author has no personal interest in this, as he bought a decent sized home in the mid-1990s when they were dirt cheap and has nearly paid off his mortgage.

**The urbanised part of Greater London (yes, there are fields there) is about half a percent of the UK by surface area, and home to seven million people, nearly 12% of the UK's total population.

Sunday 9 September 2007

Pommygranate and Praguetory. And Chad.

These chaps had blogs that I liked, and to which many others still link to them in their blogroll.

But they have all shut down. Pommy's farewell message is here, and PragueT's is here.

They cite 'pressures of work' and so on. Seeing as they used pseudonyms, is this code for 'My boss caught me at it'? Aristeides The Just, who spent a whole WEEK solid on ConservativeHome, you're next!

No idea what happened to Chad, his ukiphome site was shut down permanently, it seems. Dunno why, he seemed sensible enough to me. And his follow up site that used Aldous Huxley's fictitious 'Clockwork Orange' language.

I, being a total nutter, refuse to blog or post under anything other than my actual real name. No doubt, I'll get a more pressured job one day, or worse, my boss will call me in to his office for a brief chat...

Routemaster buses

From Christopher Booker, via The Purple Scorpion

"Boris Johnson makes the disaster of Ken Livingstone's scrapping of Routemaster buses in favour of ridiculous, Continental-style "bendies" the flagship issue of his bid to become London Mayor. Yet, as he coyly admits in The Daily Telegraph, "alas, I don't think that current legislation would permit me to reintroduce the Routemasters as they were". What he is too lily-livered to explain is that the law that would make it illegal to bring back the much-loved, user-friendly Routemaster is the EU's Bus and Coach Directive, 2001/85".

'nuff said?

Millionaire misses point

That nice young Zac Goldsmith was on telly this morning, explaining that people would get Stamp Duty Land Tax rebates if they make their home a bit 'greener' (whatever that is) before they sell it.

I agree that altho' legally the purchaser has to pay the SDLT, it is economically borne by the vendor, so far so good. The BBC website says that it'd be the purchaser claiming the rebate, comes to the same thing.

Zac probably lives in a part of London where houses are around the £1,000,000 mark, so are liable to SDLT at 4% when they are bought/sold, so there's potentially £40,000 to be saved by having a water-butt and some energy saver light bulbs (which you promptly unscrew and take with you once the inspector has been).

What he overlooks is that there is a nil rate band of £125,000. In 2006, about 40% of residential property sales were below this threshold. So it ain't going to motivate them at all. Even above the threshold, SDLT is 1%, so if you are selling an average home for £200,000, there's only £2,000 to be saved.

Tim W points out another daft mistake here.

"Eat well cash for mothers-to-be"

Jesus Jumping H Jack Fucking Flash, with knobs on, frankly.

"Pregnant women will get about £200 paid into their bank account to spend on healthy food under a government initiative, the BBC has learned ... To get the payment, however, a woman would have to meet with a health professional for tips on pregnancy health and welfare advice"

So it's not just a ridiculous bung of £200, there'll be 'health professionals', cashing in £30,000 a year salary plus pension, bonus and overtime?

"A Royal College of Midwives spokesman said: 'We are seeing a real and worrying widening of the health inequality gap [what? what fucking gap you bitch?] so any move to improve the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and their unborn child* is a positive step ... Improving the health of women and children is the work of decades ...' "

The last time I looked, a pregnancy lasts about 9 months, add on a couple for luck, it's not fucking decades is it? A year would cover it, I think, you devious crack-whore.

* I think this should be 'children' plural, but I am quoting verbatim here.

'Arctic Systems' aka Jones v Garnett

The law on this is perfectly clear. The husband's employment income is taxed at an effective rate of 47.6% (IR35 and all that). Income channelled via a limited company and paid to the wife would be taxed at an effective rate of 19%. Attempts to channel income to Her Indoors are blocked via s660A ICTA 1988 (as was).

A shit law, perhaps. I, as a radical flat taxer, would tax all income at the same flat rate of (say) 30%, but hey, that's the law.

The Special Commissioner, Dr Nuala Brice, a giant among men (or women), called it right (procedural irregularities notwithstanding). The Revenue won the taxpayers' appeal in the High Court. The taxpayers then won in the Court of Appeal, and again in the self-serving glorious bunch of fuckwittery that we call the House of Lords, Lord Hoffmann, corrupt twat presiding, decided that judges aren't there to apply the law (as harsh or as unfair as it may be), they are they to preen their massive, taxpayer-funded egos.

So His Fuckwittedness accepted the Jones' claim that Her Indoors's shares in her husband's company were not "wholly or substantially a right to income".

Right, Mr Jones, can I subscribe for one share in your fucking snivelling shit little one-man band company for £1 and receive £20,000 a year in dividends, please?

No, I thought not.

Saturday 8 September 2007

Kate McCann's tits

While the rest of the MSM and the blogoshpere speculates feverishly (and possible libellously) over whether the McCanns are witnesses or suspects, am I the only one wondering whether Kate McCann has possibly the world's smallest but perkiest tits?
And the world's thinnest ankles, for that matter?

"Spain braced for housing market crash"

See here. They (whoever 'they' are) now expect prices to fall by up to 30%, mass unemployment, recession etc. Only 250,000 Spanish properties have British owners, it says, and I'm guessing that these are small flats, not family homes?

Which illustrates the theory (scroll down to 'Ireland shows that extra supply doesn't help' here) that even a massive expansion of construction (800,000 new units per year in country with a population two-thirds that of the UK) for the last few years did little to stop prices increasing by 130% in real terms since 1996.

Well not until it goes tits up, anyway.

Shares in UK REITS*, The Goblin King's desparate last throw of the dice to try and prop up property prices by encouraging small investors to risk their savings are already down by 20% this year.

*mumble*mass immigration*mumble*

So I guess the only sensible way to avoid these booms'n'busts has to be land value tax (or site value rating, or a progressive property tax like in Northern Ireland, Denmark or Sark). If introduced at the bottom of the market and set high enough, it would act like a much higher interest rate, so prices would stay down. Of course the revenues would enable us to scrap Council Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax and maybe even make headway into really awful taxes like VAT (a turnover tax) or Employer's NI.

*Real Estate Investment Trusts - like unit trusts, but they invest in commercial property, not shares.

Lib Dems' tax policies (2)

Here's some brilliant maths.

The Lib Dems' proposals include "Cut the basic rate of income tax by 4%, financed by green taxes on pollution and by taxes on the wealthy" and "Abolish Council Tax, replacing it with a fairer Local Income Tax", which they reckon would be about 3.5% on top of normal income tax.

Of course, they know perfectly well that Local Income Tax would not be local. They admitted in the tax consultation paper of August 2005 (at 4.1.4) that funding all local authority spending with Local Income Tax "would lead either to large discrepancies in service provision, or large disparities in the tax levels required" and so proposed some woolly "equalisation" system, whereby Local Income Tax from higher income areas gets skimmed off and paid to lower income areas.

In other words, they are going to cut the basic rate of income tax by 0.5% and replace Council Tax with 'green' taxes (whatever they are) and 'taxes on the wealthy' (which are not explained in the paper).

The whole thing is a mixture of the downright sensible and the completely fuckwitted.

Lib Dems' tax policies (1)

Theyve unveiled some more tax policies.

The Lib Dems consist partly of sincere, economically clued up people, who recommend replacing Business Rates (a property tax) with Site Value Rating (a land value tax), because ...
"By being based on the value of land, Site Value Rating (SVR) captures increases in land value which result from transport and other infrastructure improvements (eg. London’s Crossrail) and provides an ongoing enhanced revenue stream for the local authority. It provides the owners of sites with an incentive to build on them rather than leave them vacant or underdeveloped."

Fine so far.

But the Lib Dems also consist partly of populist, vote-grabbing idiots. So ...
"For domestic properties, whilst retaining a long term commitment to a system of
land value taxation, we believe [in scrapping Council Tax and] the introduction of a Local Income Tax."

So, all-in-all, a classic piece of wishy washy Lib Dem'ism.