Oh, the Joy of Ritchie!

One of his budget submissions:

Plan for nationalisation of the bank clearing system and inter-bank trading systems with banks being granted licences to use such infrastructure in exchange for a fee in future.

This on the very day that we hear this:

I mean, flippin\’ heck. That\’s going to be 4 months of downtime. Just what is BT and the PCT playing at? How could you spent £300K building a surgery only to find that the telecomms required for the surgery to operate at all simply don\’t work? Isn\’t this one of the first things you\’d check before putting a new NHS site in a village? Can we assume then that the NHS requires dedicated fiber to all connected establishments? If so, this sounds like a terribly bad and expensive idea; the patient information services like EMIS shouldn\’t require more than a few Mbps of bandwidth, if that; consider the amount of information the GP refers to in a typical 10 minute patient consultation, multiply by two doctors and you\’re still looking at a tiny amount of bandwidth.

He wants to put the entire digital infrastructure of the banking system into the hands of the one group of people in the country who have proven entirely incapable of managing or deploying a digital infrastructure.

Banks operating like BT did 40 years ago? Is the crack cocaine in Norfolk especially strong or something?

39 thoughts on “Oh, the Joy of Ritchie!”

  1. I suspect the delays for laying a new fibre are to do with wayleaves – the permissions from the landowners and councils to dig the trench.
    I’m ex-BT, and it was a constant nightmare when clients rolled up to a new office and casually advised they’d need multi gigabit connections in the next 30 days. Except the ducts were full. and the local exchange was on the other side of the motorway, which meant dealing with three farmers, two councils and the Highways Agency.

    It wasn’t unknown for landowners to forbid BT to dig, and simultaneously complain that their telephone line was taking too long to install.

  2. Well, considering we’re already at the stage where you’re only really allowed to transact with State permission (i.e. you’re not “laundering”) and we’ve already had cases where the State simply confiscates money if they think a person’s explanation of why they have it is inadequate, I suppose this would just be the next logical step. With nationalisation of clearing, effectively to pass money from A to B it would have to go through the government to get there, every time.

    It’s undoubtedly a very “courageous” idea.

  3. Tim

    The entire submission contains more gems than a De Beers catalogue – anyone with sufficient time on their hands really ought to do a comparison between it and some of the old Soviet Five Year Plans – do you have any interns at the ASI who have time for such a project?

    You may want to look at Ritchie’s entry on Cyprus: ‘that Cypriot haircut is better than what happened in the UK’ – when you’ve picked yourself up after falling off your chair, as I did when reading it, I’d be interested to see what you think!

  4. Tim
    Is it me or would the unitary tax system he supports render country-by-country reporting utterly redundent?

    Tim adds: I keep on pointing this out but he just won’t listen.

  5. a persons explanation of why they have it is inadequate*.

    POCA proceedings (for instance) are not easy to get through, and they are heard by judges (one of the checks and balances on the State) and often appealed, sometimes all the way up to the Supreme Court (with, I might add, their lawyers usually paid for handsomely out of legal aid – which is fair enough, but is hardly evidence of gross State unfairness).

    They are mostly applied to gangsters who have hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds tucked away, the proceeds of real crimes with real victims, and who are unable to show where they got the cash from.

    This is because it is the proceeds of real crimes etc etc

  6. If Dodgy Dave has a million quid in his bank account and is looking at an extra five years inside if he doesn’t reveal its origins, then if it came from his legitimate fruit and veg business he will do just that.

    If he doesn’t, it’s because it’s come from violence, extortion, and the usual.

    What other explanation could there be?

    While I have some sympathy with the view that it is none of their fucking business where I got my money from, we live in a world full of really nasty people and I’m personally prepared for some of them to get fucked over by the courts; not to mention, if I was one of them, looking at a five stretch, with an innocent explanation, I would reluctantly tell all.

    Actually, it wouldn’t be reluctant: I’d be yelling it from the top of the Bailey.

    Tim’s point is valid, of course – these people are all idiots.

  7. Anyhoo, the point is that in such proceedings (copied from the Americans and their crazy love of the G-Man raiding and smashing and stuff) the burden of proof- as with increasing amounts of the Progressive State- is reversed. You have to prove your entitlement to the money and, as we’ve often discussed here, the process is the punishment anyway.

    I can call to mind a specific recent example that upset us paranoiac libertarian types in which police, called by a householder, noticed he had a stash of cash and promptly confiscated it. He went to court to get it back but was refused. And that was that.

    Y’see, there’s the crazy old thing called the Common Law which has this crazy presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It’s a fundamental paradigmatic thing. And we’ve thrown it away. Or, had it taken away.

    Still, not to worry. You and your pals can be trusted to run things for the rest of us, right? And, the State keeps the money flowing into the banks, and the bankers scratch the State’s back in return by wisely monitoring their customers on its behalf and, hey, move along, nothing to see here.

    Because you know who the “really nasty people are” and, common law rights are just loopholes they exploit, right, and…

    Oh really, just fuck off or say something useful for once.

  8. I’m not a banker, no.

    The process is not the punishment with POCA – you’re usually banged up already, and yes, I know all about the burden of proof… the point is it’s not much of a burden.

    Q: Abdul Heroin, did you make this money via your network of takeaways?

    A(i): Yes, and here are my books.

    A(ii): Er…

    In most cases, the alternative would be to let very unpleasant people* serve a relatively short period in prison before coming out to enjoy the proceeds of their crimes. I’m happy that it’s harder for them to do that.

    Re your householder and his cash, I really think we need a little more detail on that – and I don’t mean a link to the Daily Mail – before you try to use it to critique the system.

    *No, I don’t make that decision, it’s made by the courts. Pay attention.

    You’ve spent so long drawing tits, you’ve become one! 🙂

  9. Ian B –

    Because you know who the “really nasty people are” and, common law rights are just loopholes they exploit, right, and…

    I hate to intrude on a private breakdown, but I thought you were the one who tends to claim to know who the nasty people are (when it comes to the bankers) and what loopholes they’re exploiting… just saying!

  10. James, there’s a difference. For instance, we can probably all agree that rapists, as a class, are nasty people. That’s different to claiming to know which specific individuals are rapists, without proper common law due process.

    My criticisms of banking as it stands are not criticisms of banking as a profession or of specific individual bankers, but of the system as it stands, because it is a state supported cartel which is economically damaging. ONe can then step one further step forward and criticise the participants in that industry for using and supporting its current form. This pretty normal in political debate. See also “rentiers”, “welfare scroungers” etc.

    As to the “private breakdown”, anyone concerned for civil liberties ought to be concerned about their loss. It hardly counts as a “breakdown” to be unhappy with the reversal of the burden of proof which used to be an important safeguard in our justice system. Does it?

  11. No, I don’t make that decision, it’s made by the courts. Pay attention.

    You have no idea, do you? It’s useless saying “due process has been observed” when the process itself is in question, as with this issue. Look, this is a cliched example but-

    Up until a few years ago, gays were routinely arrested and punished. This was all done by proper procedure, by the courts. The problem was that the law was an ass, not that it wasn’t being followed properly or something like that. I mean, I can tell from your various posts here that you’re a little hard of thinking, but can you grasp the issue now, or do we need Big Bird to come here and do a Sesame Street version for the under fives?

  12. Just to make this even clearer for Interested, here’s HL Mencken describing the situation in his usual pithy manner-

    “The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”

    You see?

  13. I’m not surprised Ritchie loves the Cyprus solution. Confiscating private savings? I bet he’s had a ‘semi’ all weekend thinking about it.

  14. I’m not sure you’ve understood my point, Ian.

    You seem to think I mean that I can identify nasty criminals by some sort of sixth sense; I don’t. I said that this identification was a matter for the courts.

    That is – and read this slowly, out loud, if it helps – they’re nasty people after the fact of conviction.

    (Leaving aside the fact of some rate of wrongful conviction; I take it as read for these purposes that all convictions are sound, because where they are not then there are more important issues to worry about than POCA.)

    Colin Gunn, for example – he was a very nasty chap indeed, and I can say this [not least] because it was proven in court.

    It is not “oppressive”, whatever Mencken says in your Oxford Dictionary of Quotes That Porn Cartoonists Think Win Arguments, to say to someone like Colin Gunn, ‘Sorry Colin, but you won’t be keeping the money you robbed and extorted from people.’

    I can explain it to you, as they say, but I can’t understand it for you. You, your fevered little grey cell, and your mucky sketch pad are on your own there 🙂

  15. Not true, I’m afraid, Ian. Just as there are civil recovery orders (no conviction necessary) to go alongside confiscation orders in the crown court, a non convicted rapist can still be sued by his victim in the high court and subject to severe financial penalties.

    The only conclusion I can draw from your comments is that you don’t believe in civil justice (or much criminal justice).

    Your banking comments are confused, I think, and suggestive to me of a conspiracist mindset. But I’m not qualified, either as a psychiatrist or a financier, to comment further.

  16. (Leaving aside the fact of some rate of wrongful conviction; I take it as read for these purposes that all convictions are sound, because where they are not then there are more important issues to worry about than POCA.)

    Oh, I am at a loss for words. Nearly. It doesn’t matter having a presumption of guilt, because we’re just going to add in the presumption that “all convictions are sound”.

    You couldn’t make it up, really you couldn’t.

    So really, you’re just deploying the usual progressive left method; there is a Bad Thing, and nothing should restrain the State preventing that Bad Thing, and you know, omelettes, eggs, and all that.

    And, I’ll just add that whether as an imaginary plumber or a “porn cartoonist”, my working life has been characterised by providing goods and services desired by consumers on the free market. If you find that something to sneer at- as you appear to- then I pity you. If you don’t approve of those goods and services, screw you. It’s the customers that matter.

    See, that’s the point really. I believe in free market capitalism. You don’t. What do you want? Some kind of State-managed economy, just “right” rather than “left” wing, it seems. Less welfare for the poor, more for the rich. And, you’re so thrilled with the idea that you can play your part stopping the Bad Things, it apparently has never occurred to you that the Big Crime you’re so excited about is enabled and created by that same system.

    Want to stop drug dealers? Fucking end prohibition then, isntead of chasing their bank acounts around to stop them supplying goods that the market wants. How about that?

    Criminals are bad people? Yeah, we knew that already. Thanks for the insight, Interested. And let’s hope the states never make an “unsound” conviction of your good self. We wouldn’t want to presume they might now, would we?

  17. Your banking comments are confused, I think, and suggestive to me of a conspiracist mindset. But I’m not qualified, either as a psychiatrist or a financier, to comment further.

    “I don’t know enough about the subject under discussion to dispute what you say, so I’m just going to say you’re wrong and call you a nutter”.

    Thanks for that, James. I mean, really, it’s enormously constructive.

  18. IanB words fail you, do they? Well there’s a first time for everything. Do keep it up.

    Look, you simpleton, I’m not adding in any presumption that all convictions are sound. I made it very clear to anyone but a wanking halfwit that the *whole reason* I mentioned wrongful conviction is because I know it happens and As. I. Even. Said. In. The. Bit. You. Quoted, in the event of a wrongful conviction we have bigger problems (eg jail time) to worry about.

    But I assumed that even you could see that it is not possible to make policy prescriptions on the basis that convictions are unsound – because otherwise, how would you ever send anyone to prison?

    Clearly, I overestimated you.

    So I’m – very, very obviously – talking about cases where the conviction is sound, and we must assume there are a few. (In POCA cases the evidence gets tested twice, of course.)

    I would also legalise most drugs tomorrow, though I must confess I’m not sure about (say) crack and PCP. Doubtless you have an opinion, and will be very certain of it; if you can share it I will know which side of the fence to fall on.

    Re your reply to James, I can’t speak for him but he pointed out several glaring errors of fact in your spiel, which I note you don’t address despite your claims to be the grand debater of fact, and then admitted to no great knowledge of the banking sector so bowed out after making a general remark about your clear, barking insanity.

    I don’t think that that allows you – a grown man who doodles naked women for a living – to criticise him.

    In fact, I think you should take a leaf out of his book and confine yourself to subjects where you have more than a Brodies Notes understanding. That would limit you to tits and fannies, of course. And airbrushing?

    Unless paying in your cheque from Wank Monthly over the counter at Lloyds TSB once a month qualifies you as the expert you seem to think you are.

  19. Interested, this is getting us nowhere. You’ve made it patently clear that you’re not the least interested in rights or legal restraints etc, which is a common position, but since I am a libertarian and fundamentally believe in those things, we are not going to find common ground. I will only remind you that, to use another quote, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and, much of what this blog complains about is caused by a century of our governments abandoning former restraints on their own actions in pursuit of a common good. If you’re for that, you’re with most of the population (including Richard “courageous State” Murphy) but I’m not with you.

    As to your continued obsession with my current profession, it only reveals you to be a bit pathetic, frankly. No, sorry, that wasn’t fair. Much more than a bit.

    Christine Lagard just stormed into a sovereign nation and ordered its government to impose an arbitrary levy on its citizens to keep the gravy flowing. You’re no doubt happy with that because (so far as I can tell) you’re one of those slurping at the gravy. But to declare that anyone who disagrees is “insane” (let alone, god forbid “a plumber”) really just reveals your own insecurity on the matter.

    I’m a grown man who runs a small business that supplies goods on the free market, without an ounce of State backing. You should try that some time, if you ever get tired of being on welfare.

  20. That list of Murphy’s is really quite something!

    I know his proposals are simply not in any way feasible but, if – as some here believe – he may in any way be influential in a future UK socialist government, I suspect there could be a decent sized queue for the exit, with associated capital etc.

  21. Um, there ain’t just one type of PoCA proceedings. Some commence post-conviction, some pre-conviction. And some have nothing atall to do with convictions. They are, as Ian says, merely the state seizing money then demanding an explanation of its origins. If the magistrates or the district judge are dissatisfied with this explanation, then the dough is forfeited without more.

  22. I just came back to address the POCa thing but I see Edward Lud has already done that. What James was addressing (somebody criminally innocent found “guilty” in another court) was not what I was referring to.

  23. Tim, you have missed multiple gems such as “Nationalisation to be paid for in gilts with restricted trading rights until certain economic performance criteria (less than 1 million unemployed, for example, are met).” which means these are non-tradeable securities for the indefinite future so their valuation for the same yield is much lower (we’re talking a 6-7% yield instead of 2% for a 10-year gilt) so he wants HMG to treble the interest they have to pay the banks.
    “By default new pension scheme contributions to be invested in low risk infrastructure based projects” – except that “low-risk infrastructure based projects” is an oxymoron as anyone who has heard of the Channel Tunnel or Cable TV or the Olympics (*any* Olympics, not just London) or Canary Wharf or the Jubilee Line or ….
    “Specifically permit and encourage local authorities to raise borrowed funds (including from pension funds) to invest in new social housing.” Except social housing is, and always has been, a cost centre not a profit centre for local authorities, so they cannot provide a positive return to pension funds (and most local authorities no longer own any social housing, having passed it over to Social Landlord Housing Associations). I suppose it is too much to expect Murphy to notice this.
    ” All pension funds to be required to invest not less than 1/4 of all new funds invested each year for the next five years in projects resulting in the creation of new employment in the UK” – so if you or I pay

  24. Philip Scott Thomas


    You apppear to think that appending a smiley face onto the end of your comments makes everthing light-hearted and lovely.

    You are mistaken. Despite the smiley face you remain a fuckwit. And Ian B is mostly correct.

  25. People, people! We’re missing the important part of the debate! What on earth is wrong with porn cartoons? The highlight of my Sunday is when the new Oglaf comes out.

  26. Philip Scott Thomas, the smiley face is employed as a wind up. It seems to work 🙂

    He’s not right and you’re a jackass.

    (Any relation to Kristen by the way?)

    Edward, yes I am very well aware of the various provisions for both criminal and civil action under POCA.

    What I’m saying is that IanB’s froth-mouthed original comment that, in terms, confiscations etc are just the evil State taking what it wants is wrong.

    Courts are not part of the ‘State’ in that sense – they are independent and there are routes of appeal.

    I suppose it could be better phrased as a question, or series of.

    Are there very serious criminals who make a lot of money by preying on other people?

    Where convicted, is it right that they should be able to retain money that, on the balance of probabilities, comes from their crime?

    Are there others against whom – usually because of witness intimidation – it is not possible to proceed criminally but who have large amounts of money which, on the balance of probabilities, is the proceeds of crime?

    If they are unable to explain the origin of this money – which in the real world, not a cartoon one, should be relatively easy – should they be allowed to retain it?

    I argue no, they shouldn’t, though I’d be happy to listen to cogent and rational arguments against me (which rules out our man with the crayons).

    I don’t think any if this makes me Richard Murphy or a big state enthusiast (which I am not), any more than thinking the courts should have the right, after due process, to fine or jail criminals.

  27. Interested, I’ve done a few of these cash seizure cases in my professional capacity. I agree that if the origins are kosher then most of the time this will be easy to demonstrate, yet I consider the process itself an abomination of uniquely modern invention: in the abstract, the idea that a group of people can take something from somebody then require him to demonstrate his title to it is the ne plus ultra of the protection racket business.

    As to the post-conviction provisions, I’m more ambivalent. In particular, the concept of hidden assets can lead to severe injustice, as can the so-called lifestyle provisions of PoCA. But as a general proposition, I see nothing wrong with a court divesting a criminal of his identified proceeds of crime.

  28. Philip Scott Thomas, the smiley face is employed as a wind up. It seems to work

    Then you’re not very perceptive either. I’m not wound up. I just think you’re a fool.

    Heck, I’m a libertarian. I’m used to authoritarian statists. The arguments deployed by your kind are nothing new to me.

    As I intimated before, I hope you, Ritchie and your courageous state will be very happy together.

  29. Edward – so have I.

    The process may be modern, and I agree that in the abstract it’s undesirable (this should go without saying, though a certain ‘gentleman’s illustrator’ is apt to misunderstand), but we don’t live in the abstract and the modernity of legislation is not in my view an argument against it.

    VAT carousel frauds are fairly modern, as is the existence in the UK of Turkish heroin gangs and their innovative methods of gaining silence and compliance from ‘the community’, and we need to adapt.

    As I said, and you agree, it’s usually pretty easy to show where the funds came from if they are legit, so our man with the crayons is worrying his tiny head about a Daily Mail headline, not a real problem (outwith the agreed philsophical realm).

    IanB – I think you’re rather closer to Richard Murphy than I am, given your ranting about how many ‘banksters’ you’re going to hang. I imagine it’s the result of a late payment from Stylish Masturbator magazine, and a resulting bank overdraft fee of

  30. Ah no, Interested, you’re still not getting it. I’m the capitalist free market bloke. You and Murph and your benign powerful state, you’re the ones in bed together. How does it feel?

    I think it’s quite “interesting” how blissfully unaware of just how your sneery tone makes you look. It is very typical of your type though; the “men of system” as Tim’s Adam Smith quote a few posts ago described you. It’s just a bit sad really; deep down, you know that you benefit from parasitism, and us people out here in the free market thus make you uneasy.

    Still, feel free to carry on with your childish barbs. They are not amusing, but you are.

  31. Surreptitious Evil

    Hmm, that wasn-t a single quote. Might it be a Unicode thing? Anyway, this is what I was going to say …

    If they are unable to explain the origin of this money – which in the real world, not a cartoon one, should be relatively easy

  32. Surreptitious Evil

    Third time lucky?

    If they are unable to explain the origin of this money – which in the real world, not a cartoon one, should be relatively easy – should they be allowed to retain it?

    Actually, I believe there is a significant difference between being involved in the non-formal economy and being sufficiently obviously a criminal (i.e. post conviction for a relevant offence – not for, say, a punch-up in a pub) that it is clear that you should have cash and assets seized.

    But Ian and Edward have a point – never mind examples such as the Maxwell brothers on Legal Aid. The court system is not quick and, frankly, these cases can be complicated. Just because it is easy for ‘most people’ doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t consider the edge cases. And the particular law isn’t, unsurprisingly, well written ..

  33. SE-

    The problem as I intimated above is that Interested is, like Ritchie and so many others today, a “man of system”. He just sits there imagining a ruleset functioning like a machine, and can’t really comprehend what we’re talking about or why anyone would object. It’s similar to the old “you’ve nothing to fear if you’ve nothing to hide” mentality. A very typical statist of the new managerialist class.

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