Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just fuck off. Seriously.

The Coalition really are just another bunch of nanny-state wankers aren't they. I was cynical about them, but I thought we might see some small changes. But no. Now we have "nudging", because some twat has read a book and decided this is how to run a Government. So today we have this:

How much for this initiative, you may ask? 250 million pounds. £250'000'000. A drop in the ocean compared to the monumental debt mountain of a trillion (can't be arsed to write it out, it's a lot of zeroes), but still a lot of wonga.

Andrew Lansley, who is rapidly becoming the Comical Ali of the Coalition (although it actually isn't that funny), is also expected to
...announce moves to stop sales of cheap alcohol, to launch a consultation on the introduction on plain tobacco packaging, and draw up measures to encourage businesses to do more to allow women to breastfeed at work.
So, the parlous state of the UK economy will be fixed by making booze more expensive, making smoking even cooler (and these more popular) and finally making women unemployable and/or small businesses bankrupt.
A source said: “The Government's tack on public health will switch from 'nannying' under Labour to 'nudging' under the Coalition, with the idea of encouraging people to make healthy decisions on their own without lots of regulation and pressure from Whitehall.
So, it's the same, just a slightly different and arguably more pernicious method. At least Labour didn't ever really try to hide their desperation to control every part of your lives. The Coalitiamong however think people are so stupid that they can be conned into changing behaviour. They're probably right, but there is nothing remotely Conservative about this coalition, and truly nothing Libertarian, despite having an "instinctive libertarian" at its head.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Myth of Contagion

Another good article this morning from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph. He actually seems to have a reasonably good grasp of what is going on in Europe at the moment, which makes a change from most of the commentary I read.

However, I want to specifically address the idea of "contagion", which anyone that has followed the Greek and Irish bailout stories will have heard as a key reason for the bailouts. Here is a good example, I have pulled out they key quote:
The problems of Ireland's banking system pose a risk of contagion to other Eurozone countries, European Central Bank Governing Council member Yves Mersch warned in a newspaper interview released Wednesday.
To banish this contagion risk, other governments must make the reforms needed "to gain market confidence," and appropriate structures must be set up for the Eurozone as whole, Mersch said.
This "contagion" is not something that can be averted with the application of more money. In reality, the bailouts are fuelling the crisis, because now the market knows that by exerting enough pressure on the bond market, credit spreads will widen to a point where the EU/IMF will intervene, pouring liquidity into that economy via the bond market.

This is not a malicious attack on a currency or economy, but rational behaviour. The fact is that the Greek, Irish, Portuguese and Spanish economies are all in serious trouble, and while Portugal might conceivably be saveable with a third bailout, you can forget it with Spain, it is FAR too big to bail. In fact, as Evans-Pritchard points out:
Saxo Bank said the EU's €440bn (£370bn) bail-out fund would lose its AAA credit rating if Spain needed serious help.
This would require Germany & France to put more money in, which for Merkel in particular would be very hard to explain to voters. She is already rowing hard in the other direction, with her insistence that Irish bondholders must pay for the Irish collapse. Morally she is right perhaps, but it is a very damaging thing to say and suggests to me that she has already given up on actually saving the Euro area as it stands, and is positioning Germany for the future.

The "contagion" is unavoidable, it is a consequence of a single currency and single monetary policy, neither suit any of the countries in the Euro. The bailouts, just like the whole Quantitative Easing debacle, are making everything much, much worse.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No, Facebook is not the problem here

A very sad story in the Mail (yes I know, a dangerous game taking things out of the Mail, but it seems to be in quite a few other places with pretty much the same content) about a 13-yr-old boy receiving death threats from fellow pupils for posting a facebook tribute to fallen soldiers on Remembrance Day. The offenders have now been suspended and are threatened with expulsion (what exactly do you have to do in order to be immediately expelled, by the way?)

I won't dwell on the horror of what these kids wrote, it's pretty appalling and I would hope the Police do prosecute them. However, the principal of the school made an incredible statement utterly missing the point of what is happening. Here it is:
Sidney Stringer Academy’s principal, Wendy Thomas, said Facebook was an increasing concern for schools. She said the children have been told to remove the comments from the site.
She said: ‘Darius is the victim of bullying. All the students involved have told me they did not mean what they said but they will learn a hard lesson from this.
‘Facebook is a big concern for schools and we urge all parents to monitor what their children say on the site. As soon as the school was notified about the comments on Monday we interviewed the pupils.
Facebook was an increasing concern for schools? Qué? What about 6 illiterate, hate-filled children threatening another child with knives? That would be my primary concern.

Facebook did not threaten this child. I remember at school a massive older kid organising a fight with the smallest kid in my year. We didn't have mobiles, but the small kid was bricking it by the time the fight came around that afternoon, he'd got the message about what was going to happen to him loud and clear (he actually acquitted himself pretty well in the end but that's by the by).

Facebook does make it a little easier to send the message, as do mobiles, but bullying was just as pernicious and nasty 20 years ago as it is now. The difference is that no-one takes responsibility for it, neither parents nor teachers. Wendy Thomas has found an out, a way to escape facing the appalling behaviour going on at her school, and she's jumped on it. You could not send a worse message.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The worst thing is, 98% of people don't give a shit

JuliaM got there first with the first bit of my post, which was Britain needing a reboot. Yes it does, and badly, although I'm not sure she quite expressed the reasons I see for this (although I agree entirely with hers).

The stories she catalogues are just a tiny slice of the things that occur daily in the UK, and the worst and most egregious is of course the extraordinary decision to find Paul Chambers guilty.

This has been covered by people that have more closely followed the story, see here and here.

But what really fucks me off is, no-one gives a shit. No-one. It's only had any coverage at all because of the sterling work of Jack of Kent (amongst others tbf), and I know if I mention this to anyone I'll get a blank look. Because people do not understand the wider implications.

Although I have no plans to, I do understand the motivations of those bloggers that have recently quit. I do see how shouting in what feels like a massive vacuum becomes tedious.

So, what to do? Getting people to care is not easy, but this seems to be a good start. The reviewer is a bit of a twat clearly, but getting a documentary about the real scale of wasted money and UK debt might kickstart something. If people can stop seeing the Government as a cross between nanny and all-knowing uncle, and instead as a thieving, parasitical waste of space and money, maybe it will all come tumbling down and we can have some sort of a reboot, even just a political one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sarah Palin's Video

Sarah Palin has produced a campaign video on the back of Republican and Tea Party success in the recent US mid-term elections. You can see it here, it's pretty rousing stuff and short, which is always a good thing.

The BBC ran a short piece of comment on it, which was relatively balanced, such as a BBC article on Sarah Palin can be. However, one bit really struck me:
Sarah Palin's public appearances are ruthlessly controlled, consisting mainly of set-piece speeches and slickly-produced commercials.
Well, I cannot think of one single politician about whom you could not say that. Obama? Check. iDave? Check. BoJo (despite what he pretends)? Check. In fact, my impression is that Sarah Palin is more than capable of engaging with people spontaneously. This lady was very hostile, and Sarah Palin was polite and courteous throughout.
If she ever launches a formal bid for the presidency, she will probably, at some point, have to engage more seriously with what she loves to call the "lamestream media".
Well, if she calls the Mongstream Media the lamestream media then that again suggests to me that she is much smarter than people realise, because the MSM and especially the BBC is a pile of shit, as well we all know.