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November, 2011:

Quote of the day

If there is another extinction event coming, rest assured that the only reason to blame mankind is because someone, somewhere needs a study funded.

How do you tell a moderate from an extremist?

Tawfiq Okasha, Egyptian Presidential candidate:

Not all the Jews in the world are evil. You may ask: Tawfiq, what is the ratio? The ratio is 60-40. Sixty percent are evil to varying degrees, all the way to a level that words cannot describe, while 40% are not evil.

So that’s ok then, 40% of Jews are not evil. Man must be a real moderate.

And you thought Krypto was fiction……

H/T SDA

Hip-Hop Diplomacy and the War on Cameras.

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time:”Send an American rap crew on a tour of Pakistan to help build bridges between two countries whose relations have plumbed new depths this year”.

But after being detained by security officials in Rawalpindi and then seeing a major concert cancelled by a venue in Lahore at the last moment, the FEW Collective’s attempt at cultural diplomacy has backfired, emphasising the frosty feelings between two awkward allies.

Well, let’s call a spade a manual earth-removal tool. The most absurdly obvious derangement in international relations is the idea that Pakistan is an ally of the USA. Bridges perhaps need to be built but from Pakistan and not the USA.

On Wednesday, the hip hop troupe from Chicago, was in Karachi preparing for a concert after being forced to abandon its Lahore gig amid allegations the venue had come under pressure to cancel the event.

Only the Telegraph could refer to rappers as “a troupe”.

The Al-Hamra Arts Council claimed US officials had not produced a No Objection Certificate from the Pakistani government.

A what?

However, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Islamabad insisted that the paperwork was in order.

Paperwork from the embassy for a rap gig? How very rebel!

“We don’t know whether there was pressure or not to hold it or if they just felt uncomfortable,” she said.

While America’s image through much of the Muslim world has been dominated by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the music that sprang from its inner city black populations in the 1980s is popular everywhere from the West Bank to Kabul.

You got to love the Telegraph for feeling the need to explain what rap is. I mean it’s not like it’s the most dominent form of popular music for the last 30 years.

Rappers such as El General in Tunisia have even helped spread the message of democracy during the Arab Spring this year.

Hip hop diplomacy has become an increasingly important plank of American foreign policy during the past decade as officials try to tap in to the worldwide popularity of rap – just like the jazz tours of the Cold War when Dizzie Gillespie and Benny Goodman were dispatched to counter Soviet propaganda in Africa and the Middle East.
Nowhere is the effort needed more than in Pakistan.

Or more wasted.

In January, a CIA contractor shot dead two men in Lahore.

Then a secret mission to kill Osama bin Laden on Pakistani territory sparked a fresh wave of anti-US anger in May.

Meanwhile, CIA drones continue to pound targets in the country’s lawless tribal belt.
The result is that only 12 per cent of Pakistanis have a favourable opinion of the United States, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.

Is that really cause and effect? I mean let’s face facts the USA has indulged Pakistan for various reasons over decades and all they got was… Well bin Laden got safe refuge for a decade in Pakistan walking distance from that country’s top military academy. I mean really. It is taking the piss. I am no great fan of Obama but he had to send the SEALS in because the USA’s “key ally in the war on terror” was doing less than nothing. He also has to have the drones prowling over Pakistan’s tribal areas. Basically if Pakistan can’t be arsed to keep it’s house in order then somebody has to. Or perhaps more to the point if they can’t (for whatever reason) deal with their own gaff then they shouldn’t bitch about violations of their sovereignty should they? They can’t have it both ways can they?

In response, the US embassy has hosted a string of touring musicians in order to show a different side of America.

And this worked out…

But within days of their arrival the FEW Collective fell foul of the country’s beady-eyed security services last week when a band member was spotted taking photographs from a US embassy vehicle in Rawalpindi, home to Pakistan’s military headquarters and Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

Yeah, the police state that can’t find in a decade the World’s most wanted man when he’s spitting distance from their foremost military academy but can nick a rapper for taking photos.

They were released only after deleting images from their cameras.

I would argue that the litmus test of freedom is the attitude to cameras. Objections to them are the stock in trade of pecksniff jobsworths. In this respect the UK is going south. The dibble a few years ago caused a German tourist hell for photographing a tube station. The man had an interest in LRT architecture. OK, a minority pursuit but so what? Minority pursuits are what makes our species so magnificent. They are also something despised by the gits that be. They hate everything they don’t understand (and that could fill a Zeppelin Hanger) because they don’t have the understanding to understand that we are all individuals.

Then there is Greece. Recall the plane-spotters a few years back? You know what got me about that one? They were scrobbled on espionage charges (aren’t we both NATO?) for photographing F-16s. Now who might want to know about Greek F-16s… Turkey might. But the Turks oddly enough also fly almost identical F-16s. Turkey also builds F-16s. If there is one thing the Turkish air force know it’s F-16s.

One thing that I hate (no, I despair about) this country is we are heading down the Greek road of anyone with a camera being suspected of something. Anyone with a camera in the vicinity of children is clearly a pervert. But what really bugs me is there is no rhyme nor reason to it – it’s just arbitrary because they can and they need no reason because they are the state. It’s like enforcing a law that bans the wearing of purple hats on Tuesdays. Trust me you would get the likes of PCSOs to hand-out fifty quid fixed penalties without questioning. They might even walk past someone being murdered or raped to do it.

And it isn’t just state-sanctioned. It is pervasive. Ten years ago I could trot around with a camera and nobody would care. Now I get “looks”. I get looks because I use a DSLT (if you don’t know cameras the same as a DSLR which means it looks like a “proper” camera) to take piccies so I am clearly up to no good. Only spies, terrorists, peadophiles and the paparazzi who so cruelly hunted down Diana need a lens that size. We should all make do with the much more discreet camera on our phones. I love that Sony because it’s a cracking camera and I take photos to look at and not upload to Facebook LOL! Anyway, phone cameras are shite. I mean they’re OK for what they are but…

What they are ain’t much.

Of course what has also happened over those years where the private individual has come under increasing suspicion for even carrying an obvious camera the state has rolled out CCTV to an unprecedented level. Odd isn’t it? The private individual is an automatic suspect for having a camera but the state can video you with full impunity from the law. And yes, I meant that carefully. A rational and just polity would not put the state above the law it imposes on the rest of us. It might even obey it’s own laws.

I am no terrorist or spy. I’m just a bloke who is a bit of an f/stop philosopher (a minority hobby like golf or angling but a common enough one – anyway if it was an utterly peculiar one then so fucking what) . I like taking piccies. And I ought to post more. But…

I stood in my front room and wept…

“I stood in my front room and wept.” From Sharron Davies MBE, that’s something: she is more a doer than a weeper. But the former Olympic swimmer, and now BBC sports personality, has not even moved into her new house, a Grade II listed pile in Wiltshire, yet the dream is in danger of turning sour.

And why pray tell?

In her mind’s eye, the view from the early Victorian French windows is already blocked by the walls of a care home for the elderly that is arising on the other side of her garden fence. And that fence is only a few yards away. I could throw a javelin or put a shot further than that myself. It’s not the care home per se that upsets her. She knew that one had received planning permission when she exchanged contracts. But the original plans were to have created a stripling of 42 bedrooms: its profile lower, its bulk less.

Because the developers have decided to build 63 bedrooms, not 42 and (the vile things) this is a mere modification of the initial planning application not a complete new application. Seems fair enough to me. I mean it’s not like they decided to modify their proposal in terms of “there will be a care home with a bit of an airport too!”

Now the reason I posted this, the reason I clicked through was the Telegraph headline was, “Toughest challenge yet for Olympic hero Sharron Davies”. So I clicked because I thought she had cancer or something and not a planning issue.

This is Ms Davies and her house…

Looks OK to me. Looks bloody brilliant. Yeah I can see myself having a BBQ there. I can see Timmy (the cat) having a rare old time in those gardens. Indeed 99+% of the entire population doesn’t have a gaff that nice. I don’t and I bet neither do you. So why does Ms Davies have a face like a slapped arse? Might I suggest because she’s being a moo about it. She is doing the archetypical home-ownerist bullshit act of claiming her right to the property (which is all well and good – she paid for it) whilst depriving others the enjoyment of their own property which they bought as fair and square as Ms Davies. The fact that the thing in question is an old folks home just puts mustard on the sandwich. I mean really Ms Davies! You paid good money for that pile and the folks next door presumably didn’t get that land by trading beads with the natives so they have rights too you know. I guess if you really wanted to exert your BBC salary and “Olympic Hero” status – sorry Sharron but heroes are folks like Sailor Malan or Noel Chavasse .

Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, M.C., M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuing night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy’s lines for four hours.
Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of twenty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty-five yards from the enemy’s trench, buried the bodies of two Officers, and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns.

Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice, were beyond praise.

And that is merely the citation for his first Victoria Cross. He won two. He won his second VC at Passchendaele. Only three men have won a bar to a VC.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Victoria Cross to Capt. Noel Godfrey Chavasse, V.C., M.C., late K.A.M.C., attd. L’pool R.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in action.
Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the Dressing Station, Capt. Chavasse refused to leave his post, and for two days not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out.

During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry in a number of badly wounded men, over heavy and difficult ground.

By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example, he was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions.

This devoted and gallant officer subsequently died of his wounds.

That’s the full deal Sharron. You were merely very good at swimming. Captain Chavasse was a hero. I can’t imagine (and neither can you) the hell he went through. It certainly wasn’t the hell of buying a very nice house (due to the unique way the BBC is extorted) and discovering a somewhat larger old-folks home will be at the end of your garden. No, Captain Chavasse carried wounded soldiers through a mud-pit under a heavy metal tirade from the Wehrmacht that you or me Sharron could not believe or even understand. And he died doing it. He didn’t have his view (arguably) spoilt. Captain Chavasse’s view was of horror I can’t begin to imagine and not of “luxury homes and healthcare developments of character and distinction”. Now I know that’s developer nonsense but still it ain’t the Western Front in 1917 is it?

But there is something else. I feel odd saying it for it nauseated me at the time. But it is relevant. During her swimming career Ms Davies admitted to urinating in the pool to deter competitors. I do not mention this merely because it is vile (though it is) but because there is not only the Dame Judy of urine (bad though that might be) but hypocrisy here. She pissed in her competitor’s swimming lanes and now she wants our sympathy because an old-folks home is being built next to her new gaff! I mean if you’re prepared to piss over somebody else’s fence then don’t come crying to me because they return the favour. Especially not if it is merely building a 50% larger care-home. I mean you knew something was going to be built. Get over yourself Sharon!

This is the property Captain Noel Chavasse now occupies.

Fractional Reserve Banking is not what most people think it is.

This is not a technical post. This is a basic post intended to clear up an important point of confusion that, I believe, exists in the minds of many people.

When people hear the term “fractional reserve banking” they think (if they think about the term at all) something like the following……

“I see – a bank takes in savings and lends out a proportion of them (perhaps as high as 90% of them) for interest, and keeps the rest as a reserve (a “fractional” reserve of, say, 10% if it is lending out 90% of the savings) to deal with people comming for the money they entrusted to the bank”.

A risky line of business (if a lot of people, all at once, want the money they have entrusted to the bank), but an understandable line of business. Certainly it would be absurd to suggest that such “fractional reserve banks” created massive credit money bubbles [please note that I say "credit" money bubbles - I am NOT claiming that banks create real money], totally distorted the capital structure of an economy, and created boom-busts. Only a silly person could suggest any such thing.

The trouble is that the above is not a description of how “fractional reserve banking” really works.

If you want the historical and legal background (as well as economic theory) then read de Soto’s “Money, Bank Credit and Economic Cycles”, and if you want what is happening (in some depth) right now then read “Paper Money Collapse” by Detlev Schlihter – but there is something basic that many writers from Ludwig Von Mises (“Theory of Money and Credit” – 1912) to Murry Rothbard (“The Mystery of Banking” – 1983, if my memory is correct) have tried to get to the public – but the public, for the most part, has still not got the message. The following is, again, not a technical account – it is an effort to get a basic truth in a form that people can understand it.

Banks do not lend out a “fraction” of savings, they lend out far more than real savings. That is how real savings can be very low – but lending (borrowing) very high. For example, a bank may have 100 Pounds (in real savings) put in it – so a 10% franctional reserve means that 90 Pounds will be lent out? NO – it means that 1000 Pounds will be lend out.

How can this be possible?

It is possible because a bank (and other such) does not treat a “loan” as a transfer of money between real saver and borrower.

Please think about that. The fundemental principles of basic economics (such as time preference determining interest rates) depend on loans being a transfer of money from savers to borrowers (either directly – or via a bank or other such). Yet that is NOT how the “finance economy” defines a “loan” (or other such).

So what do they think a loan is? They think a loan is the creation of NEW MONEY (from NOTHING). One  way of doing this is to “credit to the account of borrower” the amount of the loan.  [People have objected to this on the grounds that banks prefer such book keeping tricks as treating cheques, from other banks, as if they were deposites (without waiting for notes and coins to be physically moved from the other banks) - and crediting this "deposit money" to the account of the borrower. I could not care less what form of book keeping tricks are most popular with the credit bubble bankers at the moment, what I care about is that the bankers create credit bubble boom/bust events - but people have complained so here you are].

“And that means that money is transfered to his or her account” NO it NEED NOT.

No notes or coins will be moved to the account of the borrower (unless they specifically ask for notes and coins) – no account of any saver will be held to be any less because of the loan. The loan is considered “new money”.

This is why “broad money” – bank credit (loans and other such) can and does become much bigger than “the monetary base”. And this (NOT the banks lending out most savings and keeping a “fraction” in reserve) is the cause of boom-bust events.

OF COURSE (in reply to possible objections) I know that banks can NOT create a long term increase in the money supply on their own (I have known that for DECADES) – but banks can (and do) create increases in the credit money supply (they create credit bubble boom/bust events) thus giving governments a choice of allowing the “bust” to run its course (i.e.  for bank credit to fall back down towards the monetary base), or increasing the REAL money supply to back up the credit money. Thus creating the vast inflation (the increse in the real money supply, not just temporary credit bubbles in boom/bust events) that we have seen in the 20th an 21st centuries.

It is why, for example, there can be boom-bust events without any Central Bank – for example the United States had no Central Bank before 1913 (had not had one since the early 19th century) – yet it still had, terrible, boom-bust events which brought “captialism” into disrepute and led to demands for various forms of government interventionism (just as boom-bust events do now).

Canada had no Central Bank till after 1935 – yet it still had a credit money “boom” in the late 1920s and a terrible “bust” at the end.

Was this just due to trade with the United States suddenly collapsing? No – it was due to a credit money expansion in Canada itself.

Defenders of Canadian banking, quite rightly, point out that no Canadian banks went bankrupt in the Great Depression (unlike American banks – and unlike Canada itself only a few years before when there had been the real bankruptcies) – but this misses the basic point.

Why were Canadian banks so unpopular in the 1930s? Why was there a vast political movement for “Social Credit” (and other crackbrained monetary crank ideas)?

This was because Canadian banks had called in a lot of their loans (and they were right to do so – otherwise the banks would have collapsed) – indivduals and business enterprises found themselves having to pay lots of money, or lose their home or their business.

This is the answer to the question that so many people ask during a bust. “Where did the money go?” (people confuse money and real wealth – in spite of the efforts of the Classical Economists to deal with this fallacy – both the fallacy that money is real wealth, and the related fallacy that increasing the money supply leads to a long term increase in real wealth).

When people cry out “where did the money go” (and then go on to blame “the Jews” or whoever is the local hate target – and, yes, antisemitism did greatly increase, even though very few of the leading bankers were Jews) they never ask themselves DID IT EVER EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Because, of course, IT DID NOT EXIST.

It was an ILLUSION of prosperty – based on a credit bubble (“crediting to the account” and other book keeping tricks) which was bound to collapse.

This does NOT mean that the Great Depression was inevitable – the Great Depression was mostly not a credit money bubble collapse (such as the one that happened in the United States in 1921 and many other times) it was mostly the POLICY RESPONSE to the credit money collapse – preventing markets (particularly labour markets) clearing by preventing the free movement of prices and wage rates.

For example, if someone says “nominal incomes must never be allowed to fall” because “demand” (or some such thing) will be damaged. What they are really saying in the conditions of a credit money bust is “mass unemployment must be maintained – markets must not be allowed to clear”. People such as Herbert, The Forgotten Progressive, Hoover (who, contrary to the myth, was an interventionist – indeed a fanatical one) may not know that what they are doing will create and maintain mass unemployment – but that is the effect their actions will have. Whether it is done by pro union laws (see W.H. Hutt “The Strike Threat System” for how this system is really the result of the undermining of the Common Law), or by direct government interventionism (as with Herbert Hoover) if wages are MADE “sticky downwards” then, in a time of a credit money bust, mass unemployment will be the result.

And the credit money bust is INEVITABLE once the credit money “boom” has been created – the false prosperity can not last (it is based on book keeping tricks – smoke and mirrors) it is an illusion (a fairy castle in the air) and must come crashing down.

The “broad money” (the book keeping trick created bank credit) must come back down towards the “monetary base” – with a massive liquidation of the “malinvestments” generated by the credit money bubble. And efforts to prevent such a correction (including the correction of wage rates) turn a bust into a catastrophe. No quick recovery (as with the bust of 1921) – but a prolonged period of MASS UNEMPLOYMENT.

It is much the same with goods as it is with human services. Preventing prices going down (dramatically down) means that one has such terrible things as hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments standing empty (neither sold or rented) whilst (at the same time) great numbers of people are homeless (even sleeping in the streets).

Markets only clear, a price system only works – if it is ALLOWED to do so. Otherwise you get houses standing empty (and decaying), goods (including food) rotting unsold – and, at the same time, vast numbers of people without work and without shelter (and so on).

All of this is driectly related to fractional reserve banking (in the real sense of the term – not what people think the term means). The panic response to the bust is due to people NOT UNDERTANDING WHAT IS HAPPENING.

They do not know that there was an inflationary increase in the money supply (especially if prices were not “going up in the shops” – as they were not, much, in the late 1920s and in the 1990s and 2000s the basic truth that the word “inflation” does NOT mean “price rises”, as the false books claim, is unknown to most people). So when the, inevitable, bust comes they scream “where has the money gone?” – not understanding that it was a credit money bubble (the money did not exist). And then they panic – as do politicians and so on.

Prices should FALL in a period of real prosperity (i.e. if people really are finding better ways of doing things). If prices are NOT falling, and yet everyone is saying it is a period of prosperity……. Then something is very, very wrong. There is an inflation of the money supply – and people saying “but prices are not going up in the shops” is to miss the point.

The Role of Central Banking.

Whilst the true cause of credit bubble boom-busts is fractional reserve banking itself – Central Banking does indeed have a very important role. It MAGNIFIES and EXTENDS the size and scope of the credit mony bubble.

For example, J.P. Morgan (back in the early 20th century) is said to have lent out about three Dollars for every one Dollar in real savings he had (entrusted to banks he controlled) – and the other New York based “National Banks” (so named because of the national banking Acts of the Civil War era). This lending out of more money than he really had caused Morgan sleepless nights – he knew he was riding a tiger and sometimes has to resort to desperate methods to prevent everything collapsing around his ears.

There days J.P. Morgan would be considered a wimp. Two to one? Three to one? How about ten to one or a hundred to one? Of course no one really knows – because trying to follow the insanely complicated modern banking system (with all the “credit default swaps” and on and on) would drive anyone insane. For example, modern “capital requirements” are largely meaningless – because very clever (but very unwise) bankers have found lots of complicated ways round them.

And modern bankers do not know that their basic principles are in any way unsound. Things have got so extended and complex that they have lost sight of simple things. They understand complex things (that would make the head of an ordinary person explode). But simple basic principles (things that J.P. Morgan privately understood – i.e. he understood he was playing a “shell game”) modern bankers have not got a clue about such things. So everything comes as a surprise to them – everthing apart from their vast incomes (agreed by friendly “remuneration committees”) of course. When things come crashing down bankers follow anyone who promises (privately) to save them – for example Barack Obama (see the book “Bought and Paid For” for how much financial support financial industy people gave Comrade Barack).

Indeed bankers develop relationships with friendly politicians in order to keep things running smoothly even in good times. And they actually concentrate their attentions on policitians who might be “anti business” (in the United States Senate not just Comrade Barack – but also former Senator Chris Dodd, and in the House the fairly open socialist Congressman Barney Frank).  Such a policy of subsidy does mean that very bad people (“Progressives” – as Americans call them) gain great political power (leading to orgies of regulations – such as Barney Frank’s support both for the Community Reinvestment Acts and for the government controlled “private” entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, all of which pushed money into the housing bubble), but bankers do not see that far ahead. As long as the subsides (the “Discount Window” and the friendly loaning out of [freshly created] money and borrowing the money back again (at a higher rate of interest)  continue , they do not look further (why should they?). And so they are totally astonished when someone like Comrade Barack Obama (and his political associates) organizes mobs to shout for their blood. “But he is our friend – he talked so nicely to us (in private) and we gave him so much money……” Perhaps they will continue the bankers will continue to be astonished till Comrade Barack has them (and their families) hacked to pieces, or perhaps they will switch their support to Mitt Romney (the Republican candidate who is most flexible when it comes to ethical matters), who knows?  I have to get back to what I am trying to explain.

Every step of the way in the late 1990s and 2000s (indeed in 1987 also) Alan Greenspan PREVENTED the credit money bubble antics comming to an end. Every time there looked like there might be a serious “correction” he came in with extra credit money to “save the world” – i.e. to make the credit money bubble BIGGER, to delay the bust but also to make it WORSE.

This is why modern fractional reserve bankers are able to do things that J.P. Morgan would neve even have considered. Indeed if someone working for him had done them, Morgan would most likely have killed them – with his own hands (like most of his generation – Morgan was no stranger to physical violence). Yet modern bankers do not even know they are doing anything wrong (and have not got a clue of how violent human beings can be) – because Central Banks encourage them (every step of the way). Including the European Central Bank – which people demand should be buying debt (with money it creates from NOTHING) – as if the “ECB” has not already been doing that (and it has been).

All this is not understood. For example,politicians demand that the Central Bank do something to prevent “bubbles”, not understanding that the basic point of Central Banks (why they were created in the first place – not just the Federal Reserve in 1913 with the meeting on the island, but also the Bank of England in 1694, and all the other Central Banks) is to INCREASE lending (for example – to governments) – to make credit money bubbles BIGGER than they would be otherwise.

A related absurdity is to demand that “regulations” prevent money going into a certain “bubble” area (such as housing) – this ignores both the fact that regulations tend to push the credit money INTO the bubble area, and that even if the extra money did not go into that area, it would go somewhere else. Another area of the economy would be hit by malinvestments – the capital structure would still be twisted.

If you want to prevent the bust you must prevent the credit money boom. A basic truth – but one that is totally ignored. People love the “boom” – and they do not see that it (not “the Jews”, one third of Europeans are said to believe “the Jews” are at least partly to blame, or “deregulation” the endless claim of the British and American left – even though regulations, as Peter Schiff and others have pointed out, have never been worse) is the cause of the bust.

I hope the above (which, yet again, I repeat is not a techical account) has cleared up some confusion, but I must make a final point.

One must be careful not to say any of the above is “fraud” – as court judgements and statutes clearly mean that none of the above is legal “fraud”. Which is why I have not used the term.

What a catch!

A so-cal Brooklyn transplant who believes in grammar, manners, music, and humor. I’m nice to my mother, always smile at dogs and babies, and am in the process of pleading that statutory rape charge down to a misdemeanor.

From here. H/T to Infidel753.

Taking the Piss, Bigtime…

The other day I dropped in to Longrider’s site. He had a post up about the pretentious piece of crap calling itself Art, that is one of the most boring photos the world has ever seen, but which sold for over two million sponds (there’s a sucker born every minute), when someone called Voyager turned up telling him that he didn’t understand, and launched into the usual Artobabble. Well you don’t want to be doing that with Longrider, he understands perfectly well what is and isn’t crap, and put the boot in.

Well that was just the usual elitist Art snobbery at work, but this folks, well it reaches new heights of fuckwittery previously thought unattainable in the annuls of utter claptrap.

Graffiti daubed on the walls of a flat by the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten could be as important as the discovery of early Beatles recordings – or even the prehistoric Lascaux cave paintings.

Oh my giddy fuckin pogoing Aunt!

Though they admit it could be considered offensive, they argue that its presence confirms the Denmark Street flat as an important historical and archaeological site.

No it friggin doesn’t! Look here’s a definition of Archaeology, you’re an Archaeology Department, you must know what your own discipline is about, surely??

“Archaeology is our way of reading that message and understanding how these peoples lived. Archaeologists take the clues left behind by the people of the past, and, like detectives, work to reconstruct how long ago they lived, what they ate, what their tools and homes were like, and what became of them.”

No guesswork needed here, all you have to do is get on a plane to LA and knock on John’s door, be greeted with a wide grin, a plate of crumpets and a lot of beer, and fuckin ask him about this “Historic” find. He will then proceed to wind you up something Rotten, then kick you out when he gets bored, laughing his arse off!

The “historic” artwork is plain Beano circa 1970, not Picasso’s Blue period. And to even dare to compare it to the Lascaux cave paintings is ludicrous.

They are 17,000 years old and were done flat on their backs with torchlight by our ancestors using the most primitive implements imaginable, and they are among the most beautiful works of Art the world has ever produced. John probably did these cartoons after a long night down the pub, with a felt tip.

How these academic loonies cash their paycheques every month with a straight face is beyond me.

Western Governments are not evil or insane – but they are trapped in false ideology.

Mr David Cameron,Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has some new policy suggestions.

For example, (I will deal with the other policy suggestions at the end of this post) some 400 million extra Pounds of government spending is to be used to try and get extra housing developments built.

At this point free market people (not just libertarians, but others also) will reply “has the man not read Bastiat, does he not know that such schemes have costs greater than their benefits?”

Sadly there is a direct and simply reply to that – of course Mr Cameron has not read Bastiat, Frederick Bastiat is not required reading for an Oxford degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (or required reading in any of the elite universties of the Western world), Keynesian economics (i.e. what Bastiat would have rightly described by such terms as “the fallacy of the broken window”) is required reading – and if one comes out against government “support” (either in terms of “monetary expansion”, i.e. creating new money and using it to prop up the banks and so on, or “fiscal expansion” – government backing of housing schemes and so on) in a time of economic slump, then one simply fails the degree (whether at Oxford or other elite universites) and people who fail their degrees do not tend to become Prime Ministers or Presidents.

Even if someone who has not been to a university, such as John Major, or has studied a natural science at one, such as Mrs Thatcher, becomes Prime Minister they are surrounded by civil servants and professional economists who, whether they call themselves “Keyneisans” or “monetarists” (the Chicago School that is, falsely, considered the opposite of the Keynesians) suggest the same policies in time of economic slump. It is very hard for such a person to see, and fight, their way past these people – and even Mrs Thatcher did so to a far lesser degree than most people think.

There is no real examination of what caused the credit money bust (the slump) – just vague talk about “animal spirits”, “confidence” (when a politician says that “confidence” is vital in an economy it is the doctrines he was taught at school and university talking – an economy as a “confidence”, i.e. a CON, game). And, of course, blaming things on “deregulation” (at a time when the financial industy in the United States and Britian was more regulated than at any time in history – but, again, reality does not matter. Only the ideology (really the fashion) of the elite matters.

And the policies suggested are always the same – support the banks (they must never be allowed to really go bankrupt – close their doors), create (from NOTHING) any amount of money to keep the “finance economy” going (the very policy that created the credit money bubble in the first place). And, on the “fiscal” side, support housing estates, road projects and …….

There will be disputes between political parties (with one party denouncing another for “savage cuts” – by which they mean INCREASING government spending by less than they would), but fundementally they are the same – because they have been taught the same ideology.

And it really is international….

After all the massive dispute in Europe (and internationally) is not over whether the banks are to be bailed out (“everyone” agrees on that), but over the method to be used. With the German government wanting a different method, for bailing out the banks, than the method other people want. And the British government is united with all other Western governments (Germany included) in flinging more money at the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) at a time when it is pretending to “cut” government spending and…. (on and on). Even the so called “war over the European Central Bank” is, partly, an illusion, for the “ECB” is ALREADY producing money (from NOTHING) and using this money to buy government bonds of Italy, Spain…….

Remember the Labour Party Prime Minister of Australia (the one who could speak several languages – and not a word of sense in any of them), he  flung money at Australian banks even though they were NOT in trouble. All the big boys had given “their” banks money so………

Why are Guernsey and Jersey introducing “deposit insurance” – do they not see the terrible effects this demented idea has had in so many other countries?

No the governments do NOT see that – because of the ideology they are trapped in (not because they are evil or insane).

The finance minister of Guernsey (supposedly one of the most conservative places on the planet) even stated that to cut government spending would “harm the economy” – showing that he is fully signed up (whether he knows it or not) to the fashionable, but utterly false, ideology that has taken a stranglehold on education in the Western world.

Why did Ireland bankrupt itself by standing behind the liabilities of the (supposedly private enterprise) Anglo Irish bank? Partly it was indeed German pressue – but the real reason is the basic ideology that all the people involved (of whatever political party) would have been saturated in all their lives. Major banks must never be allowed to close their doors with the creditors losing their money, the “finance economy” must be supported AT ALL COSTS (even bankrupting the entire country).

Not wickedness, not insanity – just following ideas that have been banged into their heads every day, their whole lives. If they had rejected these ideas they would have seemed like freaks – and they would not be working as university economists, or Prime Ministers, or top bankers or….

They would be working as security guards, or car park attendants – and such people do not tend to make major decisions of economic policy.

It was a similar story with the rise of the Welfare State – i.e. the rise of the doctrine that a primary role of government is the education, health care, old age and disability provision and income support of the majority of the population.

It started with education – as E.G. West (and others) pointed out long ago, the standard of education in England and Wales was not really inferior to countries with state education systems in the 19rh century. But that is not how politicians (and other “opinion formers”) understood the matter – blinded by false ideology they went, step by step down the interventionist road.

Take one small (but important) verbal example. The main rival to J.S. Mill in 19th century liberal philosophy circles was Sir William Hamilton (supposedly a man of the Scots “Common Sense” School – against the more Germanic influenced J.S. Mill). Yet long ago I happened to come upon how Hamilton defined the term “university” (alas I can not remember the source) – to Hamilton the word “university” meant an institution endowed by the STATE with…… collectivism (perhaps without him even knowing it) had entered his thinking (basically from Germanic sources) in his very definitions of words.

Of course when Sir William Hamilton was writing there were plenty of universities in the world (for example in the United States) that had not been created by governments (but had been created by churches and so on) and had nothing to do with governments. But this reality was not as strong as ideology – so the very defintion of the word (in Hamilton’s mind) automatically involved the state.

When Edwin Chadwick (very much part of the same tradition as J.S. Mill) went around pressing for government police, government provision of street lighting, water, gas (and on and on) he was not really interested in reality (it has been an open secret for many years that Chadwick’s famous reports were full of made up numbers and so on) it was a matter of basic ideology to Chadwick that governments (by definition) should do X, Y, Z, – as J.S. Mill says in his “Principles of Political Economy” (1848) “everyone agrees” that local govenments should…….

Of course it was not true that “everyone” agreed – but the intellectual elite agreed, and that is what Mill meant by “everyone”.

And in health and old age provision?

Why did Britian copy Germany – was the Prussian way (government schemes) really better than the British way (the mutual aid “Friendly Societies”)? Of course it was not – but the ideology that government must (by definition) provide the basic services of life to most people had a stranglehold by the early 20th century. British Conservative party leaders (such as Balfour) believed in “social reform” as much as Liberal party leaders did (their conflicts were really shadow boxing – all sound and fury, signfying nothing). And, in the United States, the “Progressive” movement had arrived – although held up by that pesky “Constitution” thing (which it took them a long time to destroy – I mean to “interpret”) such Republicans as “Teddy” Roosevelt were just as collectivist as Democrats such as Woodrow Wilson (indeed the mentor of both these politicians happened to be the same individual – Richard Ely).

Out in the country the ordinary Republicans (like rank and file Conservative party people in Britain) might have some doubts about collectivist ideas. But such small businessmen and other such were easy to attack as ignorant “Babbits” (to cite a leftist novel of the 1920s).

Nor is any of this confined to the English speaking world…..

Why did little Andorra adopt a social security system in the 1960s – no one could serious claim that old people were dying in the snow (or stuff like that). No, Andorra adopted the Welfare State – because EVERONE ELSE HAD ONE. Fashion (pushed by the intellectual elite) – nothing more.

Why did Switzerland adopt government unemployment “insurance” in the 1970s? At a time when THERE WAS NO UNEMPLOYMENT IN SWITZERLAND.

For the same reason that  Switzerland got rid of the last links between its currency and gold in the Consitution of 1999 (the document that reads like a P.C. editioral – “we celebrate our diversity…..”). Fashion – the ideology of an intellectual elite, stuff they were taught in their schools and universities.

One can see this ideology (that the government must obviously provide…….) in such things as the Economist magazine (a publication that gives an insight into the mind of elite undergraduates – for no matter how old the writers of the magazine get, they maintain the beliefs they were taught in their college days). Even countries like India (which had not adopted the Welfare State) must to copy the bankruptcy of the West (and the Indian government is copying the bankrupt modern princples of the West) because…. well because they must. Providing education, health care and income support for the majority of the population (as if the Roman Empire had decided to expand the policies applied to the city of Rome and a few other cities – to the entire population of the Roman World) is simply what “modern governments” do.

Just as one can also see the credit bubble finance ideology in the Economist magazine (and in almost all the schools and universities) also. All the policies I started this post with.

And it goes on, and by now it should not be a surprise.

Press banks to give 95% mortgages (just like the “affordable housing policy” in the United States) – of course!

Offer to take on the risk of defaulting mortgages (just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) – also of course!

Desperatly try to KEEP UP house prices – ignoring the reality that if you really wanted the poor to be able to buy or rent housing, then a “house price collapse” is exactly what one would want.

No – let house prices (both for sale and for rent) be kept up to as high as possible! Let vast numbers of empty houses stand, whilst homeless people sleep in the streets and under them (as in Las Vegas).

Markets MUST NOT be allowed to clear, the price system MUST NOT be allowed to work.

Remember the frustration of Herbert “The Forgotten Progressive” Hoover when the American economy recovered from the credit money bubble bust of 1921 before he had managed to convince President Warren Harding to really let him (Herbert) indulge in his interventionist dreams.

In 1929 there would be no delay,  instant intervention (to prevent markets clearing) was the oder of the day – hence the Great Depression. President Herbert Hoover used every power he could find (or invent) to PREVENT prices and wages adjusting to the bust – i.e. to PREVENT markets clearing. And, yes, he went in for lots of government spending schemes as well (and higher taxes – especially on the rich). All policies that were continued (under new names – and with bigger budgets) by President Roosevelt – even though “FDR” had campaigned to CUT government spending and denounced Hoover as a “socialist” (remember the ordinary people were not collectivist – the elite were).

Herbert Hoover was not evil and he was not insane – and getting rid of him (and replacing him with President Roosevelt) did not help. What was wrong was PROGRESSIVE IDEOLOGY. The ideology of President Roosevelt as much as that of President Hoover.

And the ideology that, in Britain, looks at errors in American policy (95% mortgages, wild government “stimulus” spending to back housing projects and so on, government underwriting of loans Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac style, and underwriting it all, endless “monetary expansion” by the Central Bank) and COPIES the policies (all of them).

I repeat – it is not evil and it is not insanity. It is just international elite fashion (ideology).

And it is international – many of these ideas (going back to “collective salvation” and the-State-is-God) may have their origin in the German speaking world, but there is nothing really “German” about them now.

Indeed modern Germany itself may be slightly less controlled by these ideas than Britain and the United States are.

Although, I suspect, these ideas (the idea that the State is responsible for everything) will destroy all of the West – with no exceptions.

Captain Carrot!

I guess I have written loads of stuff here on a whole variety of subjects ranging from war and peace to aviation and buses. I have written on religion and politics, on culture both contemporary and esoteric. I have even dabbled in the dismal science of economics and yet something was always missing…

Well it was until Friday night when I made carrot and coriander soup and I saw this in the bag…

dsc04104

No blog can ever be complete without a post about an amusingly shaped vegetable. Certainly not when a clearly circumcised vegetable quite literally falls into my lap. Certainly not whilst I’m peeling it back [just stop - Ed].

PS. If anyone wants my recipe for “Carry and Cozzer” let me know. It’s bloody good. The “recipe” is somewhat Nanny Ogg because I have done too many hours in the physics lab with tediously exact measurements to treat cooking the same painstaking way.

PPS. At no point hitherto has the WordPress phrase “insert into post” caused such hilarity. Well for me anyway. I shall now get my coat.

Chief Rabbi for the iJump

It comes to a pretty pass when one of our normally saner religious leaders spouts drivel like this. It is almost unfiskable nonsense but once more unto the breach!

Lord Sacks said that advertising only made shoppers aware of what they did not own, rather than feeling grateful for what they have.

Yeah, now I think about it that’s the attitude that caused my career in advertising copy-writing to fail dismally! I think it was the strap-line, “Do you really need any more crap in your house?” that resulted in me being asked to clear my desk.

But advertising goes back millennia. Lord Sacks (a highly educated man*) is falling into the disturbingly common-place bear-trap that “consumerism” is both bad and new. I mean I like having a fast PC in much the same way chaps in Assyria three thousand years ago showed off their chariots. “What you drivin’ mate?” “Finest Babylonian, my friend! Just feel those sandalwood inserts” or “Well, we’re looking at a bit of a Core i5 Sandybridge jacked to 4.8GHz”.

I said falling. Let’s see how far he goes. I must warn you it’s a long way down…

He insisted that a culture in which people cared solely about themselves and their possessions could not last long, and that only faith and spending time with family could bring true happiness.

Well, I guess it depends on your family! If it’s the Manson “family” then I’d say “No!” but that’s a cheap shot from me and it’s Lord Sacks’s cheap shots I’m concerned with here. In that spirit I shall gloss-over his boiler-plate conception that atheists can’t really be happy and indeed rather than seek “true” faith-based joy waste themselves “merely having fun”. Anyway, who the hell is Lord Sacks to lecture us on the meaning of happiness? That is very personal. My co-conspirator here RAB is a keen golfer. I have no interest in the game. To paraphrase ‘Life of Brian’, We’re all individuals. Another co-conspirator, Paul, likes coffee and I can’t stand the beverage. These may seem “trivial” tastes but these are the things that truly grant us the greatest dignity – individuality. At a more “serious” level what does he mean by “family”? I don’t have kids (Mr William Gruff is queer) and feel no need to sprog so am I lesser because I’ve never, “Been to crying for unborn children who might have made me complete”. And yes, I do have a weakness for such torch songs. Changing shitty nappies and paying for a college education – less so.

The Chief Rabbi’s comments are likely to raise eyebrows because he singled out for blame Jobs – the co-founder of Apple who died last month – by likening his iPad tablet computers to the tablets of stone bearing the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses.

You what! I’m trying to figure out who might find that offensive and keep coming-up with the phrase, “almost everyone”. I mean, apart from anything else, it’s generally considered unsporting to kick a man when he’s down but to kick a man who died recently and to do that in the context of a moral homily is… Well, what’s the Yiddish for chutzpah?**

Speaking at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen this week, Lord Sacks said: “People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren’t ones you can live by for terribly long.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. An “Interfaith” anything is patronizing drivel. It is the belief that unless it was for the likes of Lord (note the “Lord” there) Sacks it would all be burning Catholics (or Protestants) or Pogroms or Crusades or Jihads all the bloody time. I have honestly never seen a kick-off over “faith issues” though I have seen some Barnabus Rubbles over absolutely bugger all. It is the belief that without the likes of Lord Sacks to tell us to play nice we couldn’t just get on. That nonsense was the gravy, now the meat. As I hinted before “consumerism” goes way back and despite Lord Sacks’ prognostication of doom we’re still here. Indeed even if we just go back to the industrial revolution you’d think it would all be over by now if Sacks’ analysis was correct. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s creeping-up towards Crimble (there is a reason in the context I’m not using the word “Christmas”) and I abhor the financial splatter-fest of manic crap-buying of the season of goodwill and dubious credit but Lord Sacks seems to be going a lot further than that…

“The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i.”“When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i’, you don’t do terribly well.”

“When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i’, you don’t do terribly well.”

That’s just like wow!

Not for the first (and depressingly I suspect not for the last) time one of the “great and good” completely misunderstands libertarianism. But let’s stick to tech and not political philosophy. What exactly do folks do with iWhatevers? Now I’m a computer tech, a geek, a nerd (I also have an MSc in Astrophysics for my sins) so I kind of interest myself in coding and stuff but most people use this stuff (hey so do I – what do you think I’m doing now?) to remain in contact with folks. These machines (and especially Apple’s recent kit – I mean an iPad is nice but you wouldn’t want to use it for writing a load of C++ would you?) are for communicating with people. This netbook that I’m typing on was bought partly so my wife could Skype her sister who lives in Poland. It has a camera in the lid for that purpose. The sheer extent to which modern IT is based upon connecting people with people and the tech is a mere intermediary as opposed to a means in itself vaguely horrifies the geek in me. Well comparing the default options in modern versions of Windows for controlling the machine as opposed to tweeting your mates or whatever is depressing to the geek in me. Come back AmigaDos! And the meditating Guru is forgiven.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that whilst Lord Sacks’ might be a whizz on the Torah he clearly knows nothing about technology, economics or society. It’s distressingly common. The number of people in positions of authority who think the internet is “socially alienating” or some such is staggeringly depressing. Even Facebook is primarily designed for people to keep in touch with people they already know in the old-fashioned sense and not for God knows what the likes of Lord Sacks suspect in terms of arranging dogging sessions or whatever.

I think it was Richard Feynman who once remarked (I paraphrase) that even the smartest people can make asses of themselves outside their field.

He went on: “What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don’t have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have.”

For starters an “ethic” doesn’t do anything. That’s a linguistic cock-up.

“If in a consumer society, through all the advertising and subtly seductive approaches to it, you’ve got an iPhone but you haven’t got a fourth generation one, the consumer society is in fact the most efficient mechanism ever devised for the creation and distribution of unhappiness.

I thought that was communism but then I’m not Chief Rabbi. Having recently spent some time in rural Poland I feel the general consensus was that whilst the new Tesco wasn’t ideal (too pricey) but was vastly preferred to a secret police office.

It continues to a sort of Father Jack-ish Craggy Island, “That would be an ecumenical matter” anti-climax which I can’t be bothered to even cut and paste let alone fisk.

But I can’t help myself including a comment from the Telegraph which shows that Sacksenheimer’s Disease is spreading…

Tao Te Ching- “A good businessman gives the market what it wants”. Chicken and egg situation. Humans are by nature selfish but I agree that advertising and consumerism cause a great deal of unhappiness. Poor children in Africa often seem so much happier than children in first world countries. Consumerist paradox?

-witchywoo

And that comment was recommended by two people and that was in the Telegraph!

The Telegraph!

Oy vey!

*Sacks was educated at St Mary’s Primary School and Christ’s College Finchley, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (MA), New College, Oxford, King’s College London (PhD), Jews’ College London and Etz Chaim Yeshiva (London). ([Wikipedia]

Interview of the Week

The great French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote: “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.” By that token, I suggest to Michael O’Leary, he is one of the world’s most evil men, enticing millions of hitherto stay-at-home Brits and other Europeans to jet around their continent, befouling its air with carbon emissions and defacing its landscape with excrescent airports.

“For fuck’s sake,” says O’Leary. “For a start, the French have never produced a great philosopher. Great wine maybe, but no great philosophers. Ryanair is responsible for the integration of Europe by bringing lots of different cultures to the beaches of Spain, Greece and Italy, where they couple and copulate in the interests of pan-European peace.”

Just read the whole thing.

Michael O’Leary pwns The Guardian’s Stuart Jeffries. Utterly.

It happened on the back-seat of the car…

There’s an old joke…

Q. Why will the second-coming never happen in Stockport*?
A. Because you’d never be able to find three wise men and a virgin.

Now I don’t know about virgins in the Kingdom of Shoddy Absurdia but there would appear to be a significant wise men deficit…

A report this week by Kamal Subhi, a former professor at King Fahd University, warned that allowing women to drive would provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce. Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, it warned, there would be “no more virgins” in the kingdom.

Women are also banned from riding bicycles.

As I type this my wife is currently in the motor getting provisions from Sainsburys. This is naturally causing me to think things like, “Actually, I quite like musical theatre”.

Saudi society endeavours to keep men and women separate, but sexual harassment — leers, jeers and even being followed — is depressingly common. Raising a ruckus or simply loudly asking the harasser anta Muslim? (“are you Muslim?”) will usually suffice to scare them off.

Large, well maintained air-conditioned malls and grocery stores (i.e. Safeway, Geant, Carrefour) are scattered throughout the kingdom. Note that all shops, even those selling women’s clothing and lingerie, are staffed exclusively by men and have no dressing rooms. You may be offered use of a back storeroom for trying on clothes, but it is best to not accept the offer — a number of women have been raped this way.

From wikitravel.

Now whilst all of this does happen in the decadent West it is not “depressingly common”. Now call me a cultural snob but is this not because we don’t regard every potential encounter with the other sex as a divinely sanctioned (or divinely dis-sanctioned) opportunity for sexual intercourse? The thing is as this story shows it’s all very relative anyway. Now I don’t know to what extent the Victorians really found a glimpse of ankle shockingly arousing (I get the distinct impression that tales of Victorian prudery are somewhat distorted – as possibly shown by the birth-rate) but the whole veiled woman thing has history as being specifically arousing. Certainly to in “orientalist” tales of harems and Fry’s Turkish Delight and such. Whether that works for the Middle East – I don’t know but a brief glimpse at the lingerie industry shows that less is not always more. In any case eye contact is core to flirting and such activities. Psychologists certainly have studied it to death.

Of course this is all politics because the (glacially) reformist King Abdullah is getting on a bit and his heir apparent Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz is “Old Skool”. Saudi Arabia is certainly a country to watch. Things could get very interesting there.

*Insert (oh, er, missus…) wherever you want.

Hard Boiled Tolkien.

Two of my favourite writers are JRR Tolkien and Raymond Chandler. Let’s see how they get on together…

Well, I guess Peter Jackson did a better job of it but Peter Lorre as Gollum would have been inspired casting for Jackson’s movies if Lorre hadn’t alas been sleeping the big sleep. I can almost see Marlene Dietrich as Galadriel though Cate Blanchett did a fine job. I once had a stand-up and drag-down fight over Blanchett over at some Tolkien forum. Some nerk said she wasn’t good-looking enough to play Galadriel and suggested Nicole Kidman! No Noldorin queen of my imagining has ever had er lady garden tended by a midget scientologist. “Goose, Goose! Speak to me!” Sorry ‘Maverick’ you have a crisis of confidence in the middle of a dogfight and start talking to your dead RIO (rather than the guy who is actually sitting behind you) then you’re ridin’ the nylon into the drink if you’re lucky.

Industry Against An Evil Tax. BBC readers not sure…

I have mentioned the iniquity of APD (air passenger duty) before

This is excellent news and long overdue.

But the BBC comments are a cracker…

No one forces you to fly, so stop moaning and pay up, stay in the Uk or travel by road, rail or ferry.

I’ve choosen to stay in the UK for holidays for the last 2 years and forgo the ‘being treated like cattle’ on the plane or like a ‘terrorist’ at the airport and I’ve enjoyed every minute of every holiday, whether it be to Derbyshire, Manchester or Scotland.

- Anthony Rat

Sounds a barrel of laughs! Maybe it’s just me living in the vicinity of Manchester (and within very easy access of the Derbyshire peaks) but it doesn’t exactly seem a holiday as such. And quite frankly my last two foreign jaunts were to Turkey and Poland so please, please explain to me how they could have been easily accessible by road or rail (not to mention that Polish railways are dreadful and haunted by the spirit of Uncle Joe). I might be reading too much into that comment but it does seem to suggest that Mr Rat seems to think air travel is in principle worse in some sense than surface travel. Now far be it from me to point out the bleeding obvious but the airline game runs on very tight margins and every plane I’ve been on in recent years has been pretty (or entirely) full so in terms of the dreaded CO2 and all I very much doubt my wife and I could have driven (plus a ferry or the tunnel) to Istanbul more efficiently. Anyway seeing as I live in the North West of England where it rains all the time I can’t see a trip to Scotland being much of a morale boost!

keep the taxes! really cheap air fare is environmentally irresponsible anyway!

family of six? why not try a nice two week holiday to Orkney (i know a gorgeous self catered house up there which sleeps 9 for significantly less than £400 a week!)

or if the Scottish Isles don’t appeal there are always the classic options of Brighton, Blackpool and Wales. Plus, this way you support the UK economy!

- MayaGold

Two weeks in the Orkneys. There is the cube-root of bugger-all up there. My uncle once lived there in a futile attempt to evade justice. Oddly enough his nemesis in the shape of DS Donnelly of the Liverpool Serious Fraud Office arrived there by plane because surface is a pain. I mention this because APD is particularly severe for UK internal flights (essentially they tax you for each landing and take-off in the UK). So APD really doesn’t help the UK economy. Now you might be thinking internal flights in this country are silly and this is often the case apart from when they aren’t. If my co-conspirator RAB decided on “a nice two week holiday to Orkney” he’d undoubtedly fly because it’s a hell of a drive from Bristol where he lives. Or what about a Londoner who fancies a break in Belfast? But knowing RAB he’s much more likely to go to Sri Lanka or Cyprus because he’s a very bad man. As to the suggestion of Blackpool… Have you seen Blackpool recently? It’s like Dante’s Inferno. It is a dreadful place full of pissed Scousers having fights. Or you can see various variety acts at the end of the pier who you thought were dead. Like The Krankies.

So the airlines are against the tax – bearing in mind we do not levy VAT on air travel where should the government get their money out of this industry.

As ever the airlines think it is a god given right for people to fly no it is a luxury and as such we should remove APD and levy 20% VAT on the flights.

- quicksesh

That is a vile comment. It starts by assuming there is a God given right for government to get money out of flying. It goes on to suggest nearly 108 years after Kill Devil Hills that flying is a luxury! Not on WizzAir from Liverpool to Katowice it isn’t! If civilization has taught us anything (and quicksesh was clearly not at this lesson) it is that ordinary people can now live in ways that great sultans or emperors or generalized potentates of yore could not even dream of. That is the point. It’s a sort of diffuse version of the Nietzschean will to power. quicksesh’s vision (if I may call it so) is pathetic. Anyway of course the airlines are against this! They’d be failing their share-holders if they weren’t. I mean when was the last time you saw a turkey carrying home a Christmas tree?

It is fortunate that Orv and Will are dead because that comment would have killed them. They saw a brighter future as did so many others whose memory we betray by this new cult miserableness.

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