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February, 2013:

One Way or Another…

I was speechless – literally – when I heard of this cultural malfeasance. It was like some scrote had drawn a cock and balls on the “Rokeby Venus” with a magic marker and then sniggered. This is sheer musical vandalism.

The epically crap “boyband” One Direction have “covered” (under the aegis of the deranged and creepy Louis Walsh) the Blondie song, “One Way or Another” (from “Parallel Lines” – the Greatest Album Ever).

But wait there is more! It includes a wankensteinian “mash-up” with “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones. And just to make Jesus Christ himself vomit choleric stools with inchoate rage it also includes iDave.

They are doing it for “Comic Relief”. God help us! If comics want to help starving Africans then send Dawn French with a cooking pot and a bouquet-garni to the frigging Congo and be done with it! It isn’t just the music it is the sheer patronizing nature of the video. Nothing to do with helping the poor but all about looking good to naive fans. And for the rich to salve the consciences for being rich which is pathetic.

You appreciate it’s a song about stalking?

One way or another I’m gonna getcha, I’ll getcha, I’ll getcha getcha getcha getcha…

… Oh yes! If Ms Harry wants to do that down a back-alley somewhere I shall applaud and if Fergal Sharkey then decides to give those teenagers kicks “All through the night” then I shall be even better pleased!

It has nearly 20,000,000 hits on Youtube. And people seem to really like it. Dear God!

I wonder how many of those have even heard of the originals.

PS – For those fortunate enough not to have heard of these bum-fluffed troubadours the press, which is always reporting on them, call them, “1D” for short. This appeals both to the music lover in me and also to the mathematician.

A by-election which might actually change something

There is a tendency to think of the Lib-Dems as the nice party.  A bunch of ineffective but essentially harmless sandal clad dolts, out of their depth in the nasty world of Westminster politics.  It’s not true but there is that perception.  In the past, they didn’t really matter.  A protest vote in by-elections and no more.  So when Jeremy Thorpe did whatever with Norman Scott, or the fact Charlie Kennedy was a booze-hound, or what Mark Oaten got up to with male prostitutes, didn’t really matter.  Except perhaps to Mrs Oaten and various Westminster rent-boys.

But now they have their once in a half-century grab at power you have to take notice and wade in schadenfreude.  Now they aren’t the main actors in the drama.  As junior partners in government, Mr Clegg is little more than Mr Cameron’s fluffer; who has a serious senior job and yet still has time to take the kids to school in the morning?  But if it’s possible, the liberals make Labour and the Tories look competent.

Huhne was widely detested, but the dumb cover-up killed him.  So there’s a lesson confirmed, it’s not the scandal, it’s the cover-up.  So what do we have Clegg doing about Rennard the (innocent until proven guilty, alleged) serial clumsy groper? “Nothing to do with me guv, I didn’t know anything”  Later he changed tack and tried to throw Danny Alexander to the wolves saying it was his job.

And of course he has handed said Mr Alexander the dagger.  Clegg’s career ends the same day if DA gets another MP or person from Clegg’s office to confirm the following press release (which for the avoidance of libel actions is purely speculative)

—Following intense media speculation, it is now necessary in the interests of justice and the integrity of the party for me to set the record straight.  Contrary to his claims, Nick Clegg was aware of specific, detailed allegations about Lord Rennard in 2008.  I know this because I made him aware and I do not understand how claims to the contrary can be made with any integrity.

I can no longer stand by Mr Clegg’s inability to give a consistent or even accurate version of events and it is time to consider the best interests of party and country, blah blah, standing for leader? I have no ambition in that direction etc——-

If they lose Eastleigh and anyone in the Lib Dems has any balls at all, it’s game on. Ironically, if Huhne hadn’t lied about a stupid driving ticket, he could be deputy PM in a few weeks time instead of Bubba’s cell-mate.

The more the veil comes off the political class, the more you see them for the vile seething mass of incompetent scoundrels, sociopaths, liars and crooks they truly are.  The entire ruling class seems to be losing the plot; add the forthcoming financial collapse to the pot and its really starting to get very ancien regime.

Economics 101

 

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.
The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).
After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.
The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.
To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:
1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!
5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Can you think of a reason for not sharing this?
Neither could I.

Shamelessly copied from Paul Marks Facebook page via Steve Forbes.

Two Progressives on an Escalator

Short-short video lesson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GbRoDxcIz8

Epstein: Clinical Trials on Trial: How Should the FDA Do Its Job?

Given that the obvious answer, “Quit!”, won’t fly in the near future, Prof. Epstein toward the end suggests applying a strong exothermic reaction to the FDA.

Not perfect, but very good nonetheless, and provides info and reminds us of That Which is Too Often Unseen and Discounted. About an hour.

Uploaded on May 20, 2011

One of the major functions of the FDA is to check new drugs for their safety and effectiveness. The chief tool for doing this has been the double-blind clinical trial. Over the past 20 years ago, the requirements for these trials have become ever more stringent, reducing the probability that new chemical entities will be approved, delaying their onset into the market, and increasing their costs. The FDA claims that these stark measures are needed to discharge its chief function of consumer protection.

In this talk, Professor Epstein disputes that contention, to argue that many of the FDA standards are analytically unsound and socially counterproductive. The constant demand for compassionate exemptions on the one hand, and widespread off-label use of approved drugs are clear signs that the current system is out of whack and in need of serious recalibration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEhzoh86N9M

Italian Elections.

The leader of the left in Italy has made an alliance with the Economist magazine supported “free market” “techocratic” Prime Minster Mario Monti.

Anyone who is surprised by this really should not be. Remember that, by establishment logic, “free market” means tax increasing (increasing existing taxes and imposing new taxes) in order to “invest” in government education and so on.

And “technocratic” means “imposed by a de facto coup organised by the European Union”. And supported by the “international community” (and academics) of course.

“But Paul why should the Economist magazine support all this….”

Oh my dears – you really have not been paying attention to my enraged rants over the years.

I am not actually angry anymore. Things are out in the open now – with the “free market” establishment openly in bed with “ex” Communists (in the United States, Italy…….) and openly standing for the expansion of the state on both a national and an international (world “governance”) basis.

The mask is removed – there is no real deception to be angry about anymore.

All too obvious

Well it had to come; I’m a little surprised it took so long.  The Triple A credit rating was like an elderly relative that you grew up with.  Often reckless and occasionally fun, you were surprised that he had learned nothing and continued the wild-hog spending with seemingly no ill-effects.  But as the enfant terrible grew up and aged, you knew the end had to come.  Yesterday, it did.

Predictably enough the Beeboids gave Ed Balls* a primetime opportunity to shout at Osborne. Balls made the fair point that the Tories had indeed made this a bellwether for their economic competence (thereby revealing political miscalculation as well as economic ineptitude).  He didn’t quote the tory manifesto** which perhaps would have made the attack better; always use a man’s own words against him if you can.  Nonetheless it was an open goal, he could hardly miss.

Where he floundered, was when the BBC talking-head asked “What would you do?”  He covered the predictable sound-bite territory of ‘an immediate stimulus’ but wasn’t sure exactly how much this should be, or where the money would come from.  The interviewer let him off of course, but it seems to me that a few points arise, namely;

~ Why is spending £100B more than you raise in tax, not enough stimulus, why would £110B (or whatever) would be the magic number?

~ If overspending got us into this mess, won’t more over-spending just make things worse?

~ Wasn’t this whole nonsense debunked intellectually as far back as Bastiat and certainly by Von Mises?

~ Doesn’t the practical reality of countries from Japan to the PIGS show us that overspending is not the route to prosperity?

~ Doesn’t the US economic contraction in 1920 show us that if you halve government spending in two years (which they did) the economy powers back (which it did)?***

~ If government spending is so good how come Greece isn’t lending us money?

But the worst aspect of all of this slow-motion death was that had Labour won in 2010, we would be in more or less the same position.  Sure the end may have come sooner, but we would be in the same place.  Osborne as Shadow Chancellor would have been condemning Balls although he may have had a slightly tougher interview.  The reality is, all the major parties have only one plan; spend, spend, spend.  And that will lead us to the poor house and national bankruptcy.

I used to wonder, was it just real ignorance and total stupidity that made ‘em like this.  And sure enough some of the back-benchers are indeed pig-ignorant.  But if you’ve been through some serious universities as most of the front benchers have, you must at some point have encountered Austrian economics.  You would have to be criminally incurious not to know who Hayek was.

The real reason I think that none of ‘em espouse it, is that on a fundamental level it shows the irrelevance of politics.  Less government, less spending and fewer politicians is the route to prosperity and freedom.  How many amongst the current crop of sociopathic criminals would admit this?  Politics makes ‘em rich and privileged (far beyond what most would achieve in the real world) while hammering the rest of us.  The problem isn’t left or right, its major party politics as currently practised.  They are the same and voting for a change of personnel periodically will change nothing.

So it’s time to stop voting major party.  They have all had ample opportunity and their failure is manifest.

* In fairness to Balls, I find him so viscerally loathsome that if he said “let’s stop that blind toddler from wandering into traffic I would find reasons to disagree”  He’s worse than John Selwyn Gummer or Hilary Clinton in this regard, even approaching the never before scaled peaks of Leon Brittan for smug creepiness.

** “We will safeguard Britain’s credit rating with a credible plan to eliminate the bulk of the structural deficit over a Parliament.”

*** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wguOq2GyYSY  Check it here, really worth watching.


Spinny posed a really good question…

…in a comment in this post.

http://www.countingcats.com/?p=13951

He said

I’ve tried. I’ve written to my MP, I’ve commented on the blogs of councillors, I’ve told my local councillors on the rare occasions that they actually appear in public, I’ve discussed it endlessly with coleagues in work and friends in the pub, but to what effect? Nothing changes, no-one who is in a position to change anything is listening. Perhaps my only option is to start lobbing grenades at the powers that be. I can’t see any other way of getting my message across”

A very fair question and it got me thinking.  So here’s my two cents.  Violence is immoral and you can’t build a non-violent society with a gun.  Also it’s impractical as they have all the guns, so;

Recommendation one ~ Tell people the guy interested in voluntary trade with you is not your enemy.  He is not your controller.  He wants to sell you coca-cola or bananas, buy them or don’t.  Those who counterfeit your money, propagandise your kids, take your cash, murder people, kidnap you for doing stuff they don’t like, demand your fealty and lie, lie and lie again whilst taking your cash to enrich themselves, they are the problem.  It is not voluntary trade that harms you, it is coercive violence or the implied threat thereof.  Tell them it is not criticising war that is the problem, it is the almost psychotic way the media ignore this and refuse to even show footage of dead bodies because that would upset the reality TV audience.  The TV won’t show a picture of one dead kid, yet this is the day to day reality.  Talking about this, criticising this, is not the problem.  Ignoring it is the problem.

Tell ‘em “no matter how peaceful, humanitarian and tolerant you are, no matter how well-meaning and honourable your goals – if you ask for a new government law, program or plan, ultimately that program will be paid for with property taken by force from others and the law will be enforced at the point of a gun”

Get the fundamental point about the violent nature of government across at every opportunity.  Advertisers tell us it takes about seven repetitions of a message for people to get it.  Start repeating.

Recommendation two ~ Ostracise people who work for the state.  This is socially powerful.  Explain why.  Say “sorry, but whether you realise it or not, you are part of a system which relies on violence and coercion, and I cannot tolerate this, you are welcome in my house when you get a job which does not involve the threat of violence and you would probably be happier and more fulfilled”

Recommendation three ~ Minimise your contact with the state.  Not easy I know but so far as possible, ignore them.  I’m not saying don’t pay your taxes, you are just inviting violent retribution.  But ignore their edicts so far as you reasonably and practically can so long as this doesn’t hurt anyone or land you in jail.

Recommendation four ~ Don’t vote for an establishment party and don’t listen to their lies.  Accept that you have no control over the current elite and democracy as practiced in the West is a suggestion box for slaves and a little pantomime you are allowed to watch every few years.

Recommendation five ~ Explain to people why the government is going bust and when the crunch comes, they will blame all and sundry (bankers, greedy capitalists, gold hoarders, foreigners, petrol companies, big supermarkets, you name it) but the fault lays squarely at the door of the government stooge on TV that night trying to explain where the money has gone.  Tell them that merely putting a different sociopath in charge will change nothing and that’s why we debate gay marriage and other utter trivia but not whether it’s okay to take most of your cash at gunpoint.  When the end comes you will have credibility. When they can no longer borrow or effectively print and have to massively reduce spending then it begins.

Recommendation six ~ Be a peaceful parent.  If you smack your kids or scream at them, the lesson they learn is that top-down coercive authority is fine and it’s not.  If the model in your home is top-down, implied threat of violence to ensure compliance, don’t be surprised if they grow up to accept the statist model based on the same principle.  Change what you can change.

Recommendation seven ~ Get some food and precious metal.  Revolutions start and violence kicks off when people are hungry.  You might also be wise to think how to protect yourself as calling 999 won’t do it in those times.  The cops will be busy protecting the politicians; you will be left to fend for yourself.  We saw a tiny snapshot of this in the Tottenham riots.  Expect much more in the coming times.

Recommendation eight ~ You have to get your hands on the reins of power to dismantle the apparatus, so I disagree with many voluntaryists and libertarians in this one last issue.  If a libertarian stands, vote for them.  It’s the only way we will ever abolish tax and the state along with it.  Otherwise, even if the major parties are swept away, the same old faces just re-badge and resume business as usual.

Spinny, I hope that helps and know you are not alone.  When you can rouse people, a great many agree with us.  We will need them all to change things.

Long: Aristotle on Emotion, Intellect, and Reason

Very good piece by Roderick Long on Aristotle’s view that Reason is constituted of emotion and intellect working together, as both morality and practicality require.
–J.

D. H. Lawrence once wrote:

“My great religion is a belief in the blood, the flesh, as being wiser than the intellect. We can go wrong in our minds. But what our blood feels and believes and says, is always true. The intellect is only a bit and a bridle. What do I care about knowledge? All I want is to answer to my blood, direct, without fribbling intervention of mind or moral, or what not.” (Quoted in Brand Blanshard, Reason and Analysis (La Salle: Open Court, 1962), p. 47.)

At the other extreme, the Roman philosopher Seneca argued that we should never make a decision on the basis of anger—or any other emotion, for that matter. In his treatise On Anger, Seneca maintained that if anger leads us to make the decision we would have made anyway on the basis of cool reason, then anger is superfluous; and if anger leads us to make a different decision from the one we would have made on the basis of cool reason, then anger is pernicious.

This disagreement between Lawrence and Seneca conceals an underlying agreement: both writers are assuming an opposition between reason and emotion. The idea of such a bifurcation is challenged by Aristotle. For Aristotle, emotions are part of reason; the rational part of the soul is further divided into the intellectual or commanding part, and the emotional or responsive part. Both parts are rational; and both parts are needed to give us a proper sensitivity to the moral nuances of the situations that confront us. Hence the wise person will be both intellectually rational and emotionally rational. Emotional people whose intellectual side is weak tend to be reluctant to accept reasonable constraints on their behavior; they are too aggressive and self-assertive for civilized society—too “Celtic,” Aristotle thinks. They answer directly to their blood, without fribbling intervention of mind or moral, and much hewing and smiting ensues. But intellectual people whose emotional side is weak are often too willing to accept unreasonable constraints on their behavior; they lack the thumos, the spirited self-assertiveness, to stand up for themselves, and so are likely to sacrifice nobility for expediency, ending up as the passive subjects of a dictatorship like the ancient Persian Empire. According to Aristotle, feeling less anger than the situation calls for is as much a failure of moral perception as feeling more. Only a full development of both the intellectual and the emotional aspects of our reason can yield an integrated personality fit for freedom and social cooperation. (Aristotle notoriously tries to turn all this into a justification for enslaving Celts and Persians; but let us graciously focus our attention on the Maestro’s smart moments, not his dumb ones.)

To see what Aristotle is getting at (in his smart moments), recall the scene in the movie Witness where some Amish farmers, among whom Harrison Ford’s character is hiding out, are being harassed and humiliated by local bullies. The bullies are well aware that the Amish, being pacifists, will not use violence even in self-defense; as one Amish farmer explains to Harrison Ford, “it is our way”—to which Ford responds, “well, it’s not my way,” steps out of the wagon, and gives the bullies a taste of their own medicine, to the immense satisfaction of the audience.

This scene appeals to our emotions; it inclines us toward a rejection of pacifism. Seneca would object that scenes like this are manipulative and dangerous, insofar as they work on our emotional responses rather than offering us a rational argument. But Aristotle might well disagree. No one, he insists, becomes wise or virtuous through rational arguments alone; people’s emotional and affective responses need to be trained and habituated as well. Scenes like the one in Witness may serve to educate our sentiments and hone our capacity for moral judgment, by making salient the ethically relevant features of the situation and prompting a salutary exercise of thumos.

If Aristotle is right, then Seneca is wrong; emotional responses can facilitate our moral perceptions rather than either displacing or merely echoing them. But that does not mean that Lawrence is right; Aristotle is not advising us to place blind trust in our gut reactions. Emotions can be mistaken, just as intellect can; as Aristotle puts it, emotions are often like overeager servants, rushing off to carry out our orders without first making sure they’ve grasped them properly.

–From Dr. Long’s article “Thinking Our Anger,” at

http://c4ss.org/content/17334

Kevin Ayers. RIP.

Bugger! another good man gone.

I have at least 2 other posts going round in my head that I have been meaning to put up for you delectation, but I had to do this one when I heard the news.

So who was Kevin Ayers? I’m sure most of you will never have heard of him, but he was a founding member of Soft Machine, one of Britain’s first Psychedelic bands alongside Pink Floyd. The Floyd became world famous, Soft Machine didn’t. They went from being quirky avant-garde  with lots of vocals to being almost totally  instrumental  Jazz by 1970. Kevin had left by then and continued to plough his own idiosyncratic furrow. He could have been a contender, he knew and worked with all the right names, but ultimately he couldn’t be arsed. Preferring to live the life Libertarian/Libertine in Majorca, Ibiza and the South of France.

Your humble Music Correspondent saw the Floyd support Hendrix, when he was just 15 (me not Hendrix) and naturally checked out where this crazy weird music that was then mainly driven by Syd Barrett’s wacky songs was coming from, and he discovered Caravan and Soft Machine and later Gong and Hawkwind. So when Kevin Ayers Joy Of a Toy came out in 1969, I bought it and loved it. Here’s one of my favourites that set me on the road to Libertarianism, anarchy and self discovery without knowing it…

And for those of you familiar with Robert Wyatt’s singing and phrasing, um who do you think stole what from whom, considering they were in the same band?

The wall of lies – “cuts” that leave government spending HIGHER.

“Why do people not resist the endless increase of government spending? Can they not see it will lead to economic collapse? Are the people stupid? Insane? Just concentrating on internet porn? What?”

These are the sort of questions that free market people ask. But all the questions make an assumption – in fact several assumptions.

One unspoken assumption is that most people believe in “Keynesianism” – that they do not believe that increasing government spending is “good for the economy”.

Actually I think this assumption (that most ordinary people reject Keynesianism when they hear it) is actually valid. When people come home from a hard day at work and they see on the news (if they even watch the news) so obviously deluded person (such as the “Nobel” prize winners Krugman and Stiglitz) demanding more government spending on X, Y, Z, they know it is nonsense – at a gut level they reject this insanity known as “Keynesianism”. With its “monetary stimulus” and “fiscal stimulus” and other vodoo.

However, there are other assumptions which I do not think are valid.

For example, it assumes that most people know (know CLEARLY) that government spending is still increasing. And, in an American context, know that BARACK OBAMA has been the main driver in the increase in government spending in recent years.

The media reporting of this whole area is a TISSUE OF LIES.

The Economist magazine (“oh Paul not your favourate whipping post again” – it presents itself as a free market magazine, so of course I single it out) every week talks about the “cut” in government spending in Britain and United States and other countries.

Regarding the United States (week after week) it will write about the “hundred of billions” of reductions in government spending – whilst (in the real world) government spending continues to go UP. “Paul hardly anyone reads the Economist magazine”.

No – only people who are not satisfied with the ordinary media might do so. But what does the ordinary media teach?

The ordinary media teach that Mr Cameron and co have made savage cuts to government spending in Britain. That wise and noble Obama is struggleing for a “balanced approach” of “cuts” in government spending in the United States together with the “tax dodgeing” rich “paying their fair share”.

All of this is a tissue of lies (it is all false). But if people turn away from the general media to the specialist economic (and “free market”) media – they hear and see THE SAME THING.

In some corner of their minds most people have some doubts about what they are being told, but they are told it (including via the ENTERTAINMENT media – if they do not watch news or current affairs), government spending is being “cut” – Cameron and Osbourne are super “tough”, Obama is wise and noble struggleing against evil Republicans in Congress……

And on and on.

So the population (or most of them) are left confused – a WALL OF LIES keeps them from the truth.

I wish the end was rather more immediately ‘nigh’

The public debate in recent days on taxation has swerved into some hideously dangerous territory.  Margaret Hodge, with no sense of irony apparently, has called for tax avoiders to be ‘named and shamed’ Allow me to state for the record, I wish I was smart enough and rich enough to be so named.  Being ‘shamed’ by the likes of Hodge is something of a non-sequitur for me.   Trust me Maggie, what ever you may think of me, right back at ya in spades.  But I don’t demand money or fealty from you; nor in fact did I preside over child abuse in the homes I was responsible for and decline to investigate when alerted, and try to gag complainants in court, but let’s keep to tax.

Then we have the unbelievably clumsy announcement by Mr Ed of a mansion tax.  Now it’s a fair bet this was only ‘pulled-out-of-his-arse’ because Cameron mocked the potential policy-free speech the day before.  But to say it is ill-thought out is like suggesting the Titanic had a damp problem.  No-one knew for sure what level it would operate at or how the valuation would take place, or the valuation date, or would this be reviewed annually or what level the tax would be at or what level the 10p tax rate would come in or how much this would cost.  Monster-raving looney stuff.  Not to be out-done, the Lib-Dems now like wealth taxes.

God alive is there is a bigger admission of failed government?  Tax on acquisition, tax on disposal, now tax on holding?  Lesson the first chaps, we do not have taxation problem, we have an over-spending problem and futile attempts to raid a few more pennies from people won’t fix this.  Indeed, if you want to smash the central London property market and with it some banks, go right ahead.  Also I don’t enjoy the tax return as it is, imagine how much I will like having some parasite from the tax office rummaging through the draws looking at my wife’s jewellery.

People become wealthy when private property rights are respected.  This system means you no longer own stuff, you are the leaseholder and the state is the freeholder and this is a massive shift in the fundamental relationship between the two parties.  Formerly if legally acquired and duty paid, it was yours (houses not withstanding), now all bets are off.  And can anyone think of a better recipe for wealth flight?  Won’t you just convert assets to diamonds or something and bung them in a safe deposit box in Zurich?  So what then? Tax on extra-territorial global assets?  Good luck finding ‘em boys and how anyway will that stand against double-taxation treaties?  Say I own a place in Tuscany and pay local taxes, don’t double tax treaties mean I am exempt from UK taxes on said assets?

Total madness, economically destructive and futile as it won’t come close to filling the void of over-spending.  If you don’t understand or refuse to see the problem, which is over-spending, all the pointless money-grubbing schemes are futile.  I’m really starting to wish for the end of this, as the long drawn out death of the economy could do some real damage, whereas a bankruptcy and re-set at least gives pause for thought.  And it is absolutely inevitable, so let’s have it sooner.

Right over both their heads

Charles Crawford, over at the Commentator – whose comments system, based on the Hell that is Disqus, sucks – fisks the incomprehensibly influential doofus Will Hutton on the horsemeat scandal. And totally misses the point. Hutton:

“As the horsemeat saga unfolds, it becomes more obvious by the day that those Thatcherite verities – that the market is unalloyed magic, that business must always be unshackled from “wealth-destroying” regulation, that the state must be shrunk, that the EU is a needless collectivist project from which Britain must urgently declare independence – are wrong.”

How’s that, Will? As Richard North has demonstrated in his usual obsessive style, Horsemeat entered the food chain because of fraud in the EU regulation system, a compulsory system that places excessive weight on paperwork while failing to sample any actual meat. Quite what the failure of an overbearing, hubristic, supranational regulatory bureaucracy has to do with Thatcherism is completely beyond me.

Other than proving it right, that is. The truth is, this scandal is actually extremely instructive in showing almost the exact opposite of Hutton’s gleeful conclusion: that EU regulatory structures, which replaced our own local authority testing of which North was once a part, can cost a bloody fortune, get in the way of efficient trade, and still utterly fail to protect the public in any meaningful sense at all. There are plenty of regulations, and keen, enthusiastic, inspectors to enforce them; they just don’t work. As long as the Papers are in order, and the factories are ticking all the right Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points boxes, all is well. Until some unanalyzed hazard emerges at an uncritical, uncontrolled, point, such as a crook who doesn’t give a damn about HACCP switching the labels. Guys like North would have known who to suspect – the dirty premises, the slapdash staff, the shifty management – and left the honest ones relatively, well… shall we say “unshackled”? The alphabet soup of FSA/DEFRA/EU bureaucrats, who are too high and mighty to get their hands dirty on the slaughterhouse floor, don’t have a Scooby Doo. All their papers check out. Someone must have been – gasp! – lying.

So we have frantic, minute, obsessive – expensive – regulation, to absolutely no useful end whatsoever. Oh, yes: this costs money, and does destroy wealth. That’s why we now have a tiny number of “super-abbatoirs”, instead of a thriving industry of local ones. It’s the only way the meat business can afford the regulation. Hardly the the free market running riot, is it? And it’s a damning example of the uselessness of Will’s beloved EU. Indeed, as North points out, this is only beginning to be sorted out by the EU states organising their own investigations outside the Union’s institutions.

Crawford never touches on this, preferring to score cheap points by bringing up the Staffordshire NHS killings. But then, his opening statement (“Sooner or later anyone that prolific must drift from wisdom towards self-parody”) suggests that he thinks Hutton demonstrated any wisdom in the first place, which casts severe doubt on his judgement.

Update: Thanks to Your Freedom and Ours, here is what Hutton thinks doesn’t exist: “Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety”. This is particularly interesting:

Before 1 January 2005 and every six years thereafter, the Authority, in collaboration with the Commission, shall commission an independent external evaluation of its achievements on the basis of the terms of reference issued by the Management Board in agreement with the Commission. The evaluation will assess the working practices and the impact of the Authority. The evaluation will take into account the views of the stakeholders, at both Community and national level.

“Stakeholders”, eh? I don’t know if Hutton actually coined this slippery word, but he did much to popularize it, and it appears again in the article Crawford attempted to fisk. So much for the Powers That Be ignoring his ideas and going off on a neo-liberal spree of their own….

Here we go again

Do I want to offend anyone? No I don’t. Is it necessary that I do? Yes, yes it is.

toon

Why am I sticking this up you may ask? After all, no recent violence. No recent overt demands that we submit.

So why am I being deliberately offensive? Because it is my bloody right to do so, that’s why.

Well, that and this too:-

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Insanity

I have heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and again in the hope of a different outcome.

To my mind, sometimes doing it even once is sufficient qualification…..

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