Monday, December 30, 2013

Dogs That Don't Bark.

The horrendous terrorist attacks in Russia this weekend are probably best ignored- given that media attention is what the perpetrators want.

Whenever there are terror attacks, there are usually conspiracy theories. 9/11 trutherism is the most notorious variety but other forms exist.

However there don't seem to be many nutcase fantasies about attacks on Russian targets. This hasn't always been the case- a lot of people were suspicious about the apartment bombings in the 1990s for example. However none of the Chechen black widow attacks over the last decade have caused the "just asking questions" brigade to ask questions.

Could it be that Alex Jones and other leading lights in the conspiracy industry have pretty much sold themselves to the leading buyer of inane fantasies, Russia Today? It is the pretty much the only professional media outlet that will put these idiots on air and pay them so it isn't a surprise that they don't bite the hand that feeds them.

Things To Worry Less About

  1. Romanians & Bulgarians coming over here. The migration from those two countries won't be anything like the scale of that which came with the entry of the central European states because they are a lot smaller in total and it isn't just the UK & Ireland to which they can migrate. Roma from Romania may cause problems but I doubt they are waiting until January the 1st so they can work here legally.
  2. Food banks. There is no crisis of malnutrition among Britain's poor, food banks should be considered as melodramatic street theatre rather than a symptom of a real problem.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Putin Gay Update- Other People Are Noticing Now!

There's a joke going round this week:
People seem shocked that

1. Nelson Mandela died aged 95.
2. Tom Daley is gay.
3. England probably won't win the World Cup.

I'm thinking of becoming a fortune teller.
If anything Vladimir Putin's sexuality is more obvious than Tom Daley's was, but a biographer of the Russian president has noticed what I pointed out several years ago:
Author Stanislav Belkovsky claims Putin’s macho man image is a PR invention and his alleged affair with the gymnast Alina Kabaeva was made up.
In the book, Putin, Belkovsky adds: “Sex and a sex life to him are alien.”
He also speculates that Putin, famed for his topless wilderness shots, is “latently gay”.
I wouldn't go on about it, except for the obvious links with his anti-gay policies.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Quote Of The Day/Year/Century

Why don't people take the identity politics brigade seriously?

So what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features? With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority. Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist. What is the difference here?
You really have to read the whole article to get the full effect of the article.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anti-Roma Prejudice And Noticing Group Differences

The Roma people have endured awful persecution for generations- most famously they were one of the groups targeted for extermination by Hitler in the Holocaust. Even today they are met with hostility and prejudice by many people in Europe. I wouldn't claim to be wholly immune to that prejudice even though I find them an interesting group.

This article denouncing Nick Clegg and David Blunkett for worrying about Sheffield's new gypsy population is the standard liberal reaction to fraught relationships with the Roma.

When prejudices are based on nonsense they are easy enough to erode but the problem is that many of the prejudices about the Roma are not based on misinformation but come from people noticing patterns that exist. This doesn't mean that discrimination against blameless individuals is wrong but the existence of cultural traits that are destructive and unpleasant to the majority population. These include Romany attitudes to things like stealing from outsiders and violence. This article- by an almost cluelessly right on liberal offers many examples:

The following day, while chatting with a group of Gypsies in the small Transylvanian village of Dealu Frumos, I get an insight into a side of the Roma that I have been constantly warned about but have not yet encountered. A young man and his friends are telling me about tsigani de casatsi—house Gypsies—"bad ones, who don't work on the land like us but just steal for a living." Without warning, he wrenches my notebook from my hands and shoves me against the car. I am punched in the kidneys, and my arm is twisted behind me. A blade is held to the side of my neck, and suddenly I am surrounded by roaring Gypsies, maybe 30 of them, more appearing every few seconds from the surrounding houses. My translator, Mihai, is punched in the head. "Money! Money! Money!" his tormentors bellow. I am allowed into the car to retrieve my bag, but Mihai is kept outside, a hostage to my ransom. I offer all the money from my wallet, and Mihai pulls free and throws himself into the back seat. As we drive off, we do an inventory of our injuries. Apart from bruises and shock, my main injury is to my hitherto benign image of the Roma as a wronged and misunderstood people.
That reporter went to Eastern Europe had clearly intended to write an article about how gypsies are persecuted by bigoted Slovakians and Romanians- but when behaviour like that is widespread in a community then someone who refused to prejudge Roma might be admirable but would also put themselves at unnecessary danger.

In other words the only way prejudice against the group will stop is if there is a clamp down on anti-social behaviour within the group.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Denis Macshane's False Claims

Denis Macshane's guilty plea to the charges of false accounting mean that he is destined for prison. I can't say I'm unhappy about this.

It is not his political beliefs that made him poisonous but his modus operandi- which was spreading repulsive smears about his opponents for the most minute political gains. Macshane neglected his constituency in favour of stealing public funds to swan around in Europe yet had the nerve to blame the rise of the BNP in his backyard on..... Conservative euroscepticism. He lied non stop about the supposed Nazi sympathies of the Tories' allies in Europe even suggesting that the Conservatives supported the Holocaust.

He  is a genuinely terrible human being.

The most hilarious aspect of all this is that he is apparently in a relationship with Vicki Price, the ex wife of Chris Huhne.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blairite Chutzpah

In the Independent John Rentoul attacks John Major's record on social mobility in comparison to St Tony. There is much in the article that strikes me as nonsense but this is particularly disingenuous:
But what did Major do to work to change the system while he was Prime Minister? He sneered at Tony Blair as “another public school-educated Socialist” in his 1995 Tory conference speech. That would be the Tony Blair who sent all his children to state schools, the first prime minister to do so. The Tony Blair who raised standards in state schools especially in London, under Major an under-invested disaster area for the education of working-class children. The Tony Blair who introduced academy schools to replace schools that had failed their disadvantaged pupils.
The state schools that Blair sent his children to were hardly "bog standard comprehensives", but the what is really incredible is praising academy schools.

Academy schools are a great idea but when Labour introduced they weren't exactly an entirely new idea. They are almost identical to the Grant Maintained Schools introduced by the Conservatives which flourished under John Major and were then abolished by Tony Blair. To compare Blair to Major favourably by pointing to Academies is simply ludicrous.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities

New York has just elected a mayor whose politics make Ken Livingstone look like Norman Tebbit and it is the first time in twenty years that this heavily Democratic city has elected a Democratic mayor.

The main reason for this is that New York used to have a horrendous crime problem until Rudolph Guliani took office and reduced it massively and Bloomberg continued the process. Under the two Republicans (very nominally so in Bloomberg's case) the Big Apple became a liveable city once more.

Washington has undergone a similar transition lately, with crime falling considerably. It used to be one of the USA's most violent cities, ranking alongside Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans but since 2008 the homicide rate has fallen by half from 31 per 100,000 to 14 per 100000. This is still a very high rate by most standards but it is a massive turnaround for a city that had seen rates over 80 per 100000 in the recent past.

New York rewarded the leaders who slashed the crime rate by re-electing them repeatedly over two decades. Washington has taken a different approach- with the mayor who presided over this unprecedented turnaround being unceremoniously turfed out of office.

Monday, November 04, 2013

National Treasures

I was going to do a post about how "national treasure" seems to be a code for overrated idiot.

However while preparing to take pot shots at smug celebrities like David Attenborough and Stephen Fucking Fry I came across a piece by Nick Cohen on rather more sinister national treasures, Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile.

Well worth reading.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Keep Women Drivers Off The Roads Says Guadian Columnist

The Guardian publishes an article by a Saudi Arabian man about women drivers. As you will be aware women can't drive.... and in Saudi Arabia it's illegal too.

 [pause for laughter].

Anyway the Guardian has published this article about by a Saudi man about how women in the kingdom don't really want to be allowed to drive because... well I didn't really follow the line of reasoning. I'm just too flabbergasted that a mainstream paper that has been publishing countless articles suggesting that western society is insanely misogynistic recently would actually publish something like this.

Sample quote after surveying female students:

I offered them anonymity in their answers, but even so, some wanted to be recognized.
Exactly how they could be recognised while wearing sacks over their heads wasn't explained.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Shooting Nazis- Not A Good Idea.

Greece's Golden Dawn party is a neo-Nazi organisation that has apparent ties to political violence. Even so the people responsible for murdering two of their activists are as bad themselves.

They are also idiots. Assuming that the killers are far left activists- which seems reasonable given Greece's historic problem with murderous Marxists- the aim is presumably to curtail Golden Dawn's electoral appeal. We have seen this before.

Pim Fortuyn of the Netherlands was not in any way a Nazi but he was libeled as such by the media, so his killing provides a good example of what happens when the fight against supposed extremists is carried out by murder.

In the subsequent elections his party they gained so many votes that they won a place in the Dutch government, while this didn't last long (because Fortuyn wasn't a good party organiser and without him there was no real institution to act in a coherent manner) government is not where Golden Dawn should end up.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Diverse Influences

I was just reading the Wikipedia entry for Steven Pinker earlier today and see that among the "influences" listed in the article it names Noam Chomsky and Thomas Sowell.

There can't be many public intellectuals who are familiar with the work of two such diametrically opposed thinkers as Chomsky and Sowell.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Was Labour 1997-2010 The Worst Government Ever?

Over on the Telegraph blogs Sean Thomas outlines the case and it is hard to argue with.

I suppose worst ever might be pushing it- the governments that presided over the Irish potato famine or appeasement might be worse- but Blair and Brown surely led the most incompetent administrations in British post war history.

It's not that other governments didn't do worse in particular areas than Labour in this era- it's that there was full spectrum failure in pretty much every department- the economy, defence, foreign policy, education, welfare, immigration, race relations, inequality and health care were all disaster areas when Labour left office.

Can anyone think of any substantive successes associated with the last government>

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is John Whittingdale Looking For A Job In The Media Industry By Any Chance?

I only ask because of this:

A report said that the UK music industry is a bright spot, but is affected by so-called 'pirates'. It accused Google of "notable" failures to suppress filesharing websites.
Committee chair John Whittingdale MP said that delays in the implementation of the Digital Economy Act were a drain on industry revenues. He said that if a voluntary agreement between the music industry and internet service providers is not reached, the only solution will be government enforcement.

....

The MP said that there is no reason why the web firms cannot demote or remove websites, adding that they already work with law enforcement on the removal of child abuse images.
This is not all the government wants, and also on its agenda is an increase in the maximum penalty for serious online "intellectual property theft". The committee thinks that this should be 10 years, or a penalty similar to that for real world crimes.

 Without wishing to deny the existence of intellectual property it is hard to believe that file sharing is a crime that merits 10 years inside or government control of search engines. However they are potentially lucrative industries to get a post political job.

It is actually speculative as to whether piracy does effect industry revenues in any case.

Speaking for myself, I sometimes download TV shows and music illegally and sometimes buy or rent it. However what often happens is that I initially watch something illegally then decide that I like it and buy it. Had the downloaded version not existed then the producers of Game of Thrones for example would never have had any money from me at all whereas now I've already spent £60 or more on Blu Ray box sets.

Also the defence of intellectual property seems somewhat selective- for example it's fairly obvious that Samsung ripped off Apple when launching the Android system (and Apple have ripped of smaller companies for years)- yet there disputes would never be considered a criminal matter.

If the Parliamentary Culture Committee thinks that who ever provided me with that deserves to spend more time in prison than some killers then it is hard to credit them with honourable motives.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Lessons Of Iraq

One of the main reasons that Western governments have had difficulty getting support for military strikes against Syria over the use of chemical weapons is that the public don't trust claims about WMDs made by our leaders. This is because the claims made about WMDs in Iraq turned out to be complete bullshit.

It should have been known in advance that Iraq could not possibly have the resources to have a viable WMD programme that posed a threat to anyone- their wealth and technical know how was simply not enough.

However this principle when applied to Syria makes it abundantly clear to me that the Sarin gas attack on a Damascas suburb must have been carried out by the Syrian regime not the rebels as various people are claiming- including the Russian government.

Weaponising sarin effectively is clearly very hard to do. Consider the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995- despite the gas being released in a very confined space and thousands of people being exposed only 13 people were killed. This was after an attack that had been prepared by scientists belonging to the cult. Yet supposedly it's a toss up as to whether an incredibly effective open air attack that killed hundreds was carried out by a ragtag assortment of rebels or by the regime that has been running a chemical weapons programme for forty years. It isn't.

That is not to say that we should intervene in Syria- the rebels contain elements that are very dangerous- but there is no serious doubt that the Assad regime fired Sarin into a civilian suburb to massacre hundreds of innocent people.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Syria

It looks as though the USA and France will bomb Syria due to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. Given the public memory of the Iraq war this is a brave move by Obama and Hollande but there are a number of things to be apprehensive of:

  • A lot of the Syrian rebels are bastards themselves who would make life intolerable for the country's religious minorities (Alawites and Christians).
  • Bombing chemical weapons plants can have unforeseen circumstances- with the potential to leak gas much more widely than would have happened otherwise.
Still if those dangers can be averted and it punishes Assad's regime for gassing hundreds of people then I support their decision.

I've Always Wondered What This "Rape Culture" Is.

The principal's "no buns, bellies, breasts" rule had stoked the destructive flames of rape culture. 

Hmm ok then. Apparently it's "rape culture" for schools to tell female pupils not to expose their breasts in class while not giving similar warnings to the males.

When I went to school I can't recall ever seeing boys deliberately dressing to expose their bodies but maybe that's just my sexist memory.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hate Crime Hoaxes

I've written before about the phenomenon of hate crime hoaxes, in which people fake attacks on themselves or their favoured group in order to drum up sympathy for themselves and hatred for their ideological enemies.

Yet another high profile example in the United States has occurs. The interesting thing about this case is that people in internetland have been pointing out for months that it was an obvious hoax, while the established media was still cluelessly citing it as an example of right wing hate.

When they keep falling for the same trick you have to wonder whether there is some kind of agenda.....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sometimes It's Hard To Be A Woman.

Take a look at the Guardian's page of columnists, which features all the regular writers along with their latest columns.

If you break down the demographics there are 12 males and 8 females.

Of the dozen males the topics covered varies from sport to conspiracy theories to the economy. There is quite a substantial range of topics. In contrast the eight female writers cover a slightly different range of subjects:

  • Hadley Freeman complains about the unfair burdens women in show business have to put up with.
  • Barbara Ellen says about the sexist treatment of Andy Murray's mum and the unfair burdens that women in sport endure.
  •  Zoe Williams writes about the royal family- while noting that "that squeamishness around discussing the female pudenda is rooted in a deeper hatred of women"
So three of the eight writing about how hard it is to be a woman.

On the front page of the Guardian's Comment Is Free section there are ten articles by women, including the one by Hadley Freeman. Others include:
  •  Rhiannon Cosslett on the unfair burdens of a female royal.
  • Ellie Cosgrave on sexual assault (an admittedly more serious issue than the other).
  •  Nancy Cohen on women voters and the "Tsunami of anti-woman legislation".
Two of the other pieces are by ethnic minority women talking about the unfair burdens of being black.

So out of 17 different female writers, 6 are writing about sexism and 2 about racism. It seems that almost half the output of female columnists is self obsessed identity politics.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Go Away, 'Batin.

A few years ago I parodied the last government's determination to ban things with a proposal to ban masturbation. David Cameron is trying to make this a reality- with moves to make people apply with their full name and contact details as they ask their ISP if the can watch pornography. Not child porn, but consensual adult porn.

Forcing people to make details of their private sexual behaviour known to their broadband providers is intrusive to an extent that is hard to overstate.

Cameron says it's about protecting the children, but his obsession with stopping teenage boys having a wank looks positively Victorian and is downright creepy. At least the Victorians turned their anti-masturbation zealotry to invent good stuff like Cornflakes.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Justice In A Tribal Society.

The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case fascinates me because it shows how fragile the rule of law is even in an advanced democracy.

 There was quite clearly no evidence that George Zimmerman was guilty of a crime and he was found not guilty, but even so the fact that he was tried at all and the US government is still investigating him is an affront to justice.

The fact that so many people are willing to publicly denounce the verdict despite not actually being able to explain what evidence the prosecutors presented that showed that Zimmerman was a murderer is also shocking. It seems that the US Department of Justice is still trying to lynch Zimmerman by making it a civil rights case, despite a complete lack of evidence for any racial bias on the shooter's part.

What makes so many people lose their minds, lie shamelessly and dispose of the rule of law?

Tribalism.

By turning a tragic event into a racial issue- despite the fact that there is a lot of evidence that Zimmerman is no racist- the media have ensured that the question wasn't "did Zimmerman kill Martin" but " are you on the side of Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks or are you a KKK sympathiser".

It's not an approach that is likely to uncover truth but is sells papers and enables idiots to preen self righteously and pretend to care about a dead kid (although not enough to actually look at what actually happened).

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Liberalism Versus Democracy

The protests in Egypt as well as Turkey are a symptom of a wider struggle between the modernism and reactionary Islamism. Both Morsi and Erdogan are pushing an authoritarian Islamic agenda despite the objections of more liberal factions in society.

However both of them won free and contested elections in order to obtain power. They have democratic mandates. There is a similar clash between authoritarian populists and a liberal middle class in other countries in Thailand and Russia.

In other words liberalism and democracy are in direct opposition rather than being bedfellows as is widely assumed. In the west we have developed a system of more or less pluralistic, liberal democracy but we only got here hundreds of years of a slowly widening franchise-. If we had enjoyed full democracy from the 17th Century onwards when the country was populated by superstitious peasants then we probably would not have that.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"A 19th Century Barbara Cartland."

A couple of articles by feminist writers have criticised the likely appearance of Jane Austen on Bank of England notes in the near future and the general lack of women on the notes.

Austen is apparently not radical enough, a 19th century Barbara Cartland, whose place should be taken by someone more radical like George Elliot or Mary Wollstoncraft.

They've got a point, we need a more radical female on the £10 note than Austen. Someone who upset the apple cart, tore down gender barriers and accomplished more than most men in her position. We do of course need Margaret Thatcher on the tenner.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Unite Against Fascism- Inciting Murder Since....

This is an interesting turn up:
ITV News has uncovered a video showing Woolwich suspect Michael Adebolajo speaking at a demonstration at Harrow Central Mosque in 2009. The event was organised as a counter-rally against a planned protest by the English Defence League. 
We already know that Unite Against Fascism is a front group for the far left rape cult, the Socialist Workers Party, but their links with Adebolajo are new to me.

UAF were endorsed by various mainstream politicians including the prime minister even though their whole method is to illegally and violently stop people they oppose exercising their freedom of speech. They represent lawlessness and taking matters into your own hands. It's hard to be surprised that some of their friends have similar ideas.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Murderous Lunatics Will Always Find Motives To Kill.

There is nothing unethical about considering whether our foreign policy was responsible for motivating the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby. However it is complete bollocks as a theory. One of the killers* was filmed taking part in the infamous Islamist demonstration in London back in 2007 in which placards declaring "Behead those who insult Islam", "Freedom Go To Hell" and "Europe- Prepare for the real Holocaust". What foreign policy actions had offended them to the point where there were on the streets of London lost in a vicious mood calling for murder and genocide? Was it civilian deaths in Afghanistan? The unauthorised use of force in Iraq? No, it was some fucking cartoons. Foreign policy may matter at the margins of terrorism, but the underlying cause is an insane, ignorant and chauvinistic death cult which needs to be eradicated. * They haven't been convicted but seeing as they were filmed with bloody weapons telling everyone why they did it, it seems silly to say "alleged" killers.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Another Sex Gang.

Yet another "Asian" gang has been convicted of grooming and raping white girls. Most people outside Guardian towers now accept that political correctness and fear of being branded racist played a part in the decision to abandon the victims to the crimes. Personally I wonder whether the police would have let Asian paedophile gangs run wild before they were MacPhersoned. Two other points are worth making. Among a subset of British Pakistani men there is a deeply unpleasant attitude to women and to non-Pakistanis. I do not wish to imply that all British Asians are like this- no doubt Nazir Afzal, the prosecutor who did so much to expose these cases is far more typical of British Asian men than the convicted child molesters. However it is clear that a significant minority do basically look on white females as slags. The other cultural issue is among the majority population, that is to say white British people. How have we got to a situation where in such a varied array of towns- Oxford, Rochdale, Derby... there are significant numbers of young children who are wondering the streets on their own without any adult care? Perhaps family breakdown plays a part, although I've heard from someone who works with the CPS that in the Derby case at least, the parents of some of the girls had tried desperately to stop their daughters going out at all hours of the day and night but were powerless to do anything.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Romanian Immigration & Crime

Romanians and Bulgarians will soon be allowed to travel freely throughout the EU, including to the UK. A few years ago most of the rest of Eastern Europe was allowed to join the EU resulting in large scale immigration to the UK, especially from Poland.

A few years ago I worked out the incarceration rates by nationality in the UK, these are the figures for the number of people in prison in England per 100000 people, for various nationalities of Eastern Europe:

  1. Romania- 829
  2. Lithuania- 366
  3. Czech- 185
  4. Hungary- 183
  5. Poland- 113
  6. Bulgaria- 64
  7. Slovakia- 48
Whether it is good or bad, Romanian immigration will be very different from that which we have already experienced.

Update: There is an interesting observation in the comments from Stelucia (who I assume is Romanian):

Romanians have already the right to travel freely without a visa in all EU countries. What they don't have yet are full workings rights within EU, which is something completely different.
This policy of restricting workings rights produced a negative selection: honest, hard working people remained in Romania.
If you imagined a country where they selected British emigrants in such a way as to mostly get criminals you'd end up with a situation where the emigrants were not typical of Britain as a whole. Come to think of it, I think that I have just described Australia.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Israel Bombs Syria

So what is going on?

Are the Israelis intervening on one side of the conflict? Although Syria does back Hamas and Hezbollah the regime surely poses less threat to Israel than a potential Islamist run Syria.

Perhaps they just want to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in order that the rebels don't get control of them or so the regime doesn't try to give any of the weapons to one of it's terrorist clients.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Votes Are In

The results of the voting should be taken very seriously by the government.

Despite being ridiculed in the media and generally being treated as nothing more than a set of overexposed tits with no real substance, the country has shown a real appetite to support the outsider with backing being won in the North, the South and the Midlands.

So congratulations to Helen Flanagan on being voted the sexiest woman in the UK.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Politics Of The Street

Six Asian Muslim men have pleaded guilty to charges of planning a terrorist attack on an English Defence League* march in Dewsbury.

However violently attacking the EDL when they exercise the right to protest is tacitly supported or at least tolerated by many in the mainstream society. The organisation "Unite Against Fascism" has repeatedly launched violent attacks on the EDL yet that didn't stop the likes of David Cameron lending his support to this Socialist Workers Party front group.

Once people start romanticising street brawling as a means of opposing movements that you oppose it seems harsh to jail people for taking the idea half a step further.


* I'm not under any illusions about the EDL, which does include many out and out fascists. Fun EDL anecdote- I was in Penzance a few months ago for work reasons and briefly spoke to someone managing a pub.

He asked where I was from and when I replied "Northampton" his follow up question was "what do you think of all the blacks?", I mumbled a polite reply.

He then told me that his mate Chris, who was a shopfitter from Weston Super Mare, had founded the EDL before being marginalised by someone called Tommy from Luton who spent all the EDL's money on cocaine. Chris had now launched a secret breakaway group called the "English Volunteer Force".

Monday, April 29, 2013

Time To Cut VAT?

Keynesian theory suggests that public spending ought to be counter cyclical- so during a recession we should run deficits to keep up public spending whereas when the economy grows we should run a surplus.

Most self proclaimed Keynesians only support the first part of that equation and also favoured ever rising public spending during the boom years. When Gordon Brown during the first four years as Chancellor, ran a surplus he berated by pundits and politicians in his own party for being stingy (after 2001 he turned into the spendthrift idiot we know and love).

However despite the political difficulty of running a surplus during a boom the basic theory makes sense. Which is why I am beginning to wonder whether it is time for a cut in VAT* to pump up the economy.

A cut in VAT would not undermine the ongoing project of reducing the rate at which government grows- but it would have an immediate effect in terms of boosting consumer spending.

* Of all the proposed stimulus methods, only a tax cut makes sense to me- as Barack Obama found during his stimulus programme- there are no "shovel ready" government programmes that can be started quickly enough to boost growth.

New Meme- Immigration Reduces Crime.

In an otherwise very interesting article about declining crime rates in the UK and the West more generally the Observer's Andrew Rawnsley discusses possible explanations:

More immigrants. (Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than the indigenous population.). 

This is in fact the opposite of what actually occurs. Foreign nationals make up about one seventh of the UK prison population which is far greater than their percentage in the population. That doesn't even take into account those immigrants who are now UK citizens. In some European countries foreign nationals make up an even higher percentage of the prison population. So unless our justice system is racist on a scale that makes Apartheid South Africa look like paradise his claim cannot be true.

What I suspect Andrew Rawnsley has done is either import a meme from the USA (because in the States immigrants do have a lower crime rate than the population at large.) or he has swallowed misleading propaganda from the likes of ACPO.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tweet Cops

The police are investigating more tweet crimes, including those of a blogger and those of a former youth crime commissioner. Tweet crimes are like normal crimes except they occur on Twitter, don't cause any harm to anyone and the police don't need to get off their arses to investigate them.

The commissioner is Paris Brown who wrote some tweets that "could be considered offensive" when she was 14 or so. One would have thought if there were likely to be incite crime then that would be evident in the years since she wrote them. The blogger is "Old Holborn" who was trolling Liverpudlians with comments about the Hillsborough disaster. They took it very badly- no one thought to tell them to "calm down, calm down!". However no one was harmed by his tweets.

The police have no business regulating petty insults and drunken boasts and it is worrying that they are unable to realise this.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Criminalising Terrorism- A Thought

The death of Margaret Thatcher has brought the IRA hunger strikes back into the news, with a lot on the far left of British politics and the far right of Irish politics blaming her for their deaths.

What the hunger strikers wanted was to be granted political status- not to be treated simply as common criminals.

Yet when after 9/11 the United States refused to treat captured terrorists as criminals but instead granted them a special status- in Guantanamo Bay- many people were outraged, and that includes almost all those on the far left who blamed Thatcher for letting the hunger strikers do the decent thing.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Oddballs & Misfits.

It is worth remembering that despite the disproportionate attention given to a collection of misfits and oddballs who are celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher- it really is a tiny number of people.

They have a lot in common with Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church who protest at the funerals of soldiers and gays. Like Phelps they represent no wider movement.

The agenda of the press in giving them such coverage is worth considering- the left is probably trying to make her appear more hated than she was, the likes of the Daily Mail are trying to hype something up so they can be outraged at it.

90% of prominent left wing figures that I have heard of have been respectful, 90% of lefties I know personally have been respectful. That isn't to say that they liked her but normal people can tell the difference between an opponent and someone to hate.

Secondly it is worth remembering that while politicians are inherently divisive, Lady Thatcher is not unpopular as this poll in the Guardian from September demonstrates:

Out of 20 national figures, Thatcher was the second most respected, only Boris Johnson beat her.

The least respected figure on the list, George Galloway, is one of the oddballs and misfits I mentioned earlier (as well as being an antisemitic totalitarian crook) . Galloway isn't divisive of course, everyone is united in thinking he's a twat.

These "celebrations" are about thuggery and intimidation- trying to dominate the public space for one fringe outlook.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ugh! She's Naked!

Vladimir Putin, is still gay:

Hat tip to Mark Wadsworth for the latest addition to the "Putin is in the closet" file.