Moron

I\’ve just had an email asking me for money to support some federasts. Yes, I know, laugh. It was some French intellectual as well. Who says this:

Franck Biancheri expressed his deep belief that the European construction has now reached a crucial stage of its history and that the main challenge of this decade consists of being able to reconcile democracy and European unity; for otherwise the course of history will lead to a united but undemocratic Europe embodied by the emerging populist trends.

Look, Frankie, I hate to have to break this to you, but democracy is in fact populism. That\’s err, the point. What the mob wants, the mob gets. That\’s actually what democracy, the rule of the Demos, the mob, actually means.

A more reasonable campaign would be to protect democracy from European Unity: but that\’s something that Franck seems unable to understand. A more subtle approach might be to try and protect freedom and liberty from all three of the EU, democracy and the mob…..but then that\’s a very lonely furrow ploughed only by the most committed liberals,

 

 

Heeeeeee\’s Baaaaaack!

Just when you thought it was safe to get that interesting boil seen to, thought that embarassing purple patch in a very private place might benefit from some treatment, you find that there\’s no one at the surgery.

Yes, the NHS Blog Doctor is back.

Drugs, Drugs, Drugs!

The Government\’s consultation on drugs is coming to an end. If you haven\’t already told them what you think then do so here.

Of course, this bloke doesn\’t go far enough. All drugs should be legal.

It\’s your body, your\’s to ruin or not as you wish. So go tell the Statists that.

Lord Falconer\’s Pension

There\’s a simple enough solution to this:

Falconer, who gave up a lucrative career in the legal profession to give 10 years’ service as a Labour minister, is said to feel that he has a con-tractual entitlement.

According to the Cabinet Office, however, he is entitled to only £52,193. He is also permitted to receive a lump sum, which is yet to be decided, because of his special position as head of the judiciary for the past four years.

As lord chancellor he was entitled to an annual salary and a pension higher than any other cabinet minister, including the prime minister. However, he opted to take the standard salary of a cabinet minister based in the Lords – worth £104,386 last year – rather than his full salary entitlement of £232,900. When he became lord chancellor and constitutional affairs secretary in 2003, after Blair’s “botched” reshuffle, the historic post of lord chancellor was supposed to be abolished. However, a U-turn by the government led to the title being retained.

Those close to him say Falconer does not regard himself as a rich man. “Unlike some of his contemporaries he did not spend years earning a fortune at the bar,” said one source.

A spokesman said: “The payments are now being made to him in line with the PM’s statement of June 19, 2003.” That was the date when it was agreed that Falconer would take the reduced salary of a regular secretary of state.

What pension is Derry Irvine taking?

Vimto!

Being a southern shandy drinking type I have of course never allowed Vimto to pass my lips. But it does seem to be something of a hit in the Arab world.

A BIZARRE series of advertisements has resulted in record sales of a humble British fruit cordial that has become the Arab world’s most popular drink during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Vimto, a blend of fruit juices, herbs and spices, has long been regarded in the Middle East as an energy-boosting accompaniment to the evening meal after a day of fasting. This year, 11 commercials broadcast on Arab satellite television featuring the British brand have become cult viewing on the YouTube video-sharing website and its equivalent in the region, Ikbis.com.

I think they do in fact have an extremely good marketing department. In the early 90s the canned, fizzy, version was a huge hit in Russia. Lord alone knows why, but there it is.

Alisher Usmanov

A profile in The Times.

Personally, that he was indeed the son of privilege and then survived 6 years in a standard penal colony (and I\’ve met others, even traded with some, with similar backgrounds) would be grounds for being extremely suspicious of the man.

Soviet camps were not survived by such without contacts being made, favours offered and taken.

Authoritarian Russia

Nick Cohen has a nice piece on the rise of authoritarianism in Russia. Most especially, on the way in which big business doesn\’t seem to mind:

Just before Tony Blair resigned, a telling scene illuminated the new world. At the June G8 summit, Blair warned Putin that unless Russia shared Western democratic values and tolerated dissent, there would be a business backlash. No, there won\’t, replied appalled business leaders. Hans-Jorg Rudloff, the chairman of Barclays Capital, said Blair\’s approach was \’unbalanced\’. Peter Hambro, executive chairman of Peter Hambro Mining, an Aim-listed company with extensive interests in Russia, said that Blair\’s comments \’ran the risk of being damaging\’ for British business interests in Russia. The outgoing PM\’s position was \’very different to that business\’.

And so it went on and few noticed that a regime filled with ex-KGB men was now being defended by the beneficiaries of global capitalism.

He also gets in a marvellous series of digs at the founders of the university I went to, the LSE.

There is one point I\’d like to make though. I\’ve not been particularly worried by morals in my business life (I\’ve done a deal with North Korea for example, I\’ve paid douceurs as another) but I have been concerned over the ease of doing business. A lot of that business life has taken place in Russia so I\’m well aware of the trends which Cohen is talking about: but I\’d like to insist that it is Big Business that thinks this way, not the small fry like me. Not, as above, for any moral reasons, but because that imposition of State power is making it ever more difficult to actually conduct business. Our last three shipments have all been delayed for weeks at customs, as those running the system attempt to extract their rents (we do in fact pay all of the applicable export taxes, as we have done for more than a decade). So much so that I spent part of this week thousands of miles away looking into the possibility of recreating the extraction and purification system outside the borders of Russia. Not because it would be cheaper (it wouldn\’t) but because it would be more reliable, less subject to the exercise of the power of the Russian State.

Big business might make peace with authoritarians, but small business never will: because we can\’t. We never have enough power to infuence the decisions, we are the prey that is picked over. The tragedy for Russia, indeed for all those who suffer such political systems, is that small business is the future, the driver of economic growth and the creator of the golden uplands of the future.

I know that as a good liberal I\’m supposed to be concerned about freedom of the press in Russia (which I used to write for actually and there\’s no way that the same house would publish those pieces now, owned as it is by Usmanov) and indeed I am. This is from the other side of the mind, from my self-interest, not my enlightened one.

Another way of putting this is that if someone as unscrupulous as myself is ready to give up on the place as a place to make money then they\’re right royally screwed.

Err, Will?

So:

Forget the general election that wasn\’t – the biggest political event of this autumn is about to take place. The 17th congress of the Chinese Communist party starts tomorrow in Beijing.

Ah so. Will you be launching Operation Commie County then? That the ChiComs allow no voting on their internal affairs should not be an impediment to the Great and the Good of British Liberalism making known their preferences now should it?

Hope I Die Before I get Old

Mary Riddell doesn\’t seem to quite grasp the point here:

In an era of wonders, 90 people in the care of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust died from Clostridium difficile between 2004 and last year.

Many of the elderly victims were forced to lie, ignored and stripped of dignity, in diarrhoea-soiled sheets on wards that would shame a Crimean battlefield, let alone a country whose health service is fancifully supposed to be the envy of the world.

Here\’s another everyday story of how lives end. It\’s about a woman I know who is approaching her 100th birthday in this annus mirabilis. Her daughters, who live far away, discover she is being drugged at her care home to keep her quiet. It takes them six months of bureaucracy and rage before a place in another home is promised, in due course. In the meantime, their fragile and demented mother is threatened with eviction. Two weeks from now, she could be on the streets.

This is because we have handed these important tasks over to the State, which, as ever, organises such responsibilities for the benefit of said State, not the individual entrusted, however stupidly, to its care.

Her solution however is worse: euthanasia. And there was I thinking that The Observer was a liberal newspaper.

It appears that the correct solution to caring for the sick, the elderly, the mad and the demented, is to kill them.

Most liberal.

Well, Quite….

*

Here\’s a flavour: "It\’s not a constitution – there is no anthem, no ancient Greek mottos. And although the EU\’s pooling of some powers to give Europe greater weight in the world will always be objected to by British diehards, we need to remember that for the little bit of influence over our own actions that we grant others, we get an equivalent measure of influence over theirs."

Speaking as someone who has zero interest in gaining a measure of influence over anything the Greeks, or Portuguese or Poles want to do with their justice systems, or much else beyond ensuring they guarantee free trade, I cannot see what there is for us in this ever-closer union,

 

Err, Really?

This should lead to some interesting articles:

Apax, the private equity firm, has teamed up with the publisher of The Guardian newspaper to mount a joint £1.2bn bid for Emap\’s business publishing division.

It is, of course, The Guardian, which has been leading the mob against the iniquities of private equity, of the way in which companies that remove themselves from the public capital markets no longer feel the requirement to treat their employees fairly. As, indeed, The Guardian is not a publicly quoted company.

BANES

True, true:

A front-runner for the worst-run council in Britain must be Bath and North East Somerset, if only because of the scarcely believable mess it has made of its flagship "Spa project".

All supported, of course, by the odious Don Foster.

England 14, France 9

I agree, obviously, that all of creation should celebrate this, that plants should spurt with growth, that the very heavens should reflect that God is indeed there and that all is right with his creation.

Might I ask a small favour though? (And I do not believe that I am the only one who will be doing so this morning….)

Could we just change the volume and pitch controls on that very creation?

The sun is that tad too bright and the birdsong just a little too loud this morning. Yes, yes, Hosannas are all very well, justified, but can they not be sung quietly?

 

Now Here\’s an Interesting Argument

OK, so we want to talk about inequality and possible responses to it. Sure, OK:

I might add that serious egalitarian-oriented health care reform — if indeed it succeeded — would significantly lower the case for greater progressivity of taxation.

Aha! So, if we\’re really interested in equality of outcome (which is what at least part of the argument about redistributive or progressive taxation is about) and we move 10% of the economy into an egalitarian form (bear with me, 10% is roughly right for that part of the economy in the UK which is the health sector) then we have to worry less about the equality of the other 90%. If we move another 5 or 10% (whatever it is for education, say) into such a state funded egalitarian form then we need to worry less about the inequity in what remains.

In fact, as we move anything from a grossly inegalitarian distribution into a more egalitarian one, we need to worry less about the inequitable distribution of those parts of life which are left distributed so.

So, over the past couple of hundred of years, we have seen a huge decrease in the inequality of many things. Of caloric intake, of height, of protein intake, of leisure time, of length of life, of the survival of children, of housing, of clothing, literacy, numeracy: in fact, in just about everything that is actually important to a human life well lived.

We may well have Victorian levels of inequality in income distribution (we don\’t, but people like to say so) or of wealth (ditto) but we absolutely and most certainly do not have such inequalities in all of the things which actually matter.

Which really rather leads me to the conclusion that we shouldn\’t worry about income inequality as much as we do. Because it\’s simply a trivial vestige of the much greater inequalities of the past.

Investment? Pah!

Grr, Grr. This really does annoy me, the pabulum we are feed about "investment" in the arts:

Government investment in the arts is to be boosted over the next three years, with the announcement yesterday of an extra £50 millon for Arts Council England by 2011. The funding body’s grant will rise from £417 million this year to £467 million in 2010-11.

It\’s not bloody investment, it\’s current spending. Furthermore, it\’s not sensible current spending. It\’s the bribe that the Statists pay to the luvvies and artsy types to keep such opinion formers onside, keep them supporting the State that feeds them.

This though is even more wankeriffic:

Simon Thurley, its chief executive, said: “What they seem to have said is that the Government’s priority is museums and the Arts Council.

“Yet we know that heritage is virtually the nation’s favourite hobby. Many more people visit heritage sites than museums and galleries or football matches, yet it’s starved of funds.”

If you get more people than visit football matches, why not try charging these people for what they obviously want to see? Like, err, football matches do?

The argument that you get lots of punters isn\’t an argument in favour of more subsidy: it\’s an argument in favour of less, moron!