Friday, 12 February 2010
The thirdhand smoke scam
"An extended version of my article about the thirdhand smoke study is on the Free Society website today. Quick summary: they used 14 times as much nitrous acid and 15 times as much nicotine as would be found in a normal home to produce a few nanograms of a substance that isn't a carcinogen. Apart from that, great study."
'Eweida cross case could fuel divisive cultural and racial rhetoric' declares the Times in a self-fulfilling headline, and no doubt the 'Mail' will run with this one tomorrow. The BA check-in clerk banned from wearing a crucifix with her uniform is set to be portrayed as a martyr for anti-Christian discrimination. Yet the facts don't quite support this.
Firstly, she's still employed by BA and the case, undertaken by 'Liberty', was a claim for compensation for her previous experience. Secondly, since February 2007, BA has permitted staff to wear a faith or charity symbol with their uniform. Thirdly, there has never been a requirement for Christians to display the cross as part of the faith; it was purely a personal desire on Eweida's part to do so. The court's impatience with the improbable arguments advanced by Eweida's 'Liberty' counsel, Ms Karon (sic) Monaghan QC, are apparent in Sedley LJ's comments.
If a soldier, for example, wanted to modify his uniform by the addition of a religious symbol, one not prescribed by his faith, we would have little patience with him. Being a soldier, and therefore inventive, he would doubtless have found a legitimate means of achieving the same end; a finger ring with a crucifix, or even a tattoo of a crucifix on some visible part of his body. But of course a soldier, like a policeman, always displays the crucifix on his uniform anyway. Even Sikh, Moslem and Jewish soldiers and policemen.
Rather than seek compensation, Eweida may do better to lobby the Palace for the grant of 'By Appointment' status to British Airways; there on all the company's stationery would be the Royal Arms, surmounted by the Crown, surmounted by the Cross of Christ.
And what's more, the EU has no share in any of it. And neither, ahem, have the Scots.
The first rig is due to go into commercial production this month, with more to follow - solely in the Falklands EEA.
These areas will need committed and visible protection for at least the next half-century, which means a blue-water Navy with the means to project power across the region. With royalties of 9%, if production reaches 1m barrels a day (about a sixth of the North Sea Oil peak) at a price of around $75/barrel this will earn the UK some $2.46bn a year - around 6% of the defence budget. At peak North Sea production levels, royalties would be nearly $15bn a year, plus Corporation tax at 26%, plus energy security ...
Brown's proposals to raise the NMW to £6 an hour across the country benefits those in Wales and the NE and NW, Labour's traditional strongholds, but does little to help businesses in those regions. If £6/hr were a fair rate in London, the government's own figures suggest that £4.80/hr is the right rate for the NW.
Indeed, the research was commissioned by Brown himself - when he argued that national pay grades in the NHS and public services were inappropriate, that a £40k salary goes a lot further in Gateshead than Guildford, and pledged to introduce regional differentials that recognised differences in the cost of living.
Except of course when Labour needs to buy votes.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Next comes Afrikaans South Africa, the land of Tom Sharpe's 'Riotous Assembly' and 'Indecent Exposure', of Sharpeville, of apartheid and Alan Paton. Not a nice place.
Then there is post-Mandela South Africa. A period of slow decline into tribalism and barbarism. Only one author has really captured the farce of decline; Nicholas Monserrat, in 'The tribe that lost its head' and 'Richer than all his tribe', written with real affection and a terrible sadness, both long out of print but recommended reading if you find copies.
There is little that is readable coming out of Africa now.
There's a whip-round going on to bail out the feckless Greeks, but Greece's fellow eurozone nations are unwilling to put up all the cash themselves. The EU can force the UK to contribute under existing EU legislation - and we pay 20% of the EU bill, so our contribution could be substantial.
Brown's position is that either the eurozone countries should pay - or the G20 nations. And the reason is the banks. You see, our gormless buccaneer banks have lent £250bn to the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) and if Greece goes bust, they will default on the debt, and the banks will come running to Gordon for more tax money to save them. And other G20 nations such as the Swissies are just as badly exposed.
Enough is enough. No more money for the banks; no more money to prop up the euro. It's time to split the banks, let the overexposed buccaneers fail and save the retail parts. Let them go. It's also time to let the French and Germans either crap or get off the pot - let Greece go or pay its debts. But not a penny more in my name.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Osborne has never struck me as having much of an intellect, still less as being bold enough to embrace change. Visionless, weak politicians instinctively like the big central State, and Osborne seems to be no exception.
The Tory party's most distinctive message had once been Cameron's desire to shift power from big government to localities. It gave welcome ideological substance to his rhetoric. The British people are not, like the American right, wholly averse to government and welfare. But in poll after poll, they dislike "big central government". They prefer what is local, communal, neighbourly. As they have shown in Scotland and Wales, they want local control over the raising and spending of taxes.Cameron's rejection of this programme under Osborne's influence has deprived him of his one distinctive and positive thrust. It was Tory and Tea Party at the same time. Though Cameron still talks local he refuses to free council taxes to take some of the pressure of central cuts, and even talks of freezing them. His decentralisation proposals are cosmetic and democratically empty.
If Cameron wants to gain in the polls, it's time he distanced himself from the yapping of his boyhood puppy.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
It was Heseltine who tried to prove the worth of the Urban Development Corporation during the last Conservative government; an area independent of normal local government planning controls. The success rate was mixed, primarily because the freedoms simply didn't go far enough. For an example of real success, we need to go much further back in history.
The rise of the Charter Borough during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in England created unprecedented wealth and paved the way for the establishment of a new English middle class under the Tudors. Typically, a group of merchants would petition the crown for Charter status; that in return for a direct annual payment to the crown, they would be free of feudal lordship and dues. They had rights to be tried in their own courts, to levy charges and taxes within their burghs, to govern themselves and to trade freely. The guilds and the burgesses, not the knights and their overlords, ruled.
Today, the key features of a Charter Borough would be freedom from regulatory laws. Most Criminal and Civil law could continue unchanged, but tax and duty laws, minimum wage laws, employment laws, planning and licensing laws and all the panoply of State regulation would be suspended in favour of a Civic Code devised by the Burgesses themselves with the democratic consent of the people. The Charter Borough would agree to an annual payment to central government and that would be it. Levying taxes and funding administative costs, including the Borough's own police and tax officers, would be up to the individual boroughs.
But, as BOM points out, most of our regulatory law now comes not from Westminster but from Brussels, and we're not trusted or allowed to make our own decisions on such things any more.
Such radical measures are not fantasy; given boldness, and ridding ourselves of the Leviathan of the EU, we could create unprecendented wealth and competitiveness in areas that now offer only a stunted and desperate life on Welfare and an early death to many of our fellow citizens.
Monday, 8 February 2010
He has betrayed a special trust twice over; one, his oath to serve the Law, and second the role model he should have offered to junior officers from ethnic minorities.
One guilty man remains free today; Ian Blair. For it was Blair who promoted so many unsuitable officers above their abilities for the sake of the ideology of his political masters. If there were any real justice, Blair would be sharing Dizaei's snot-laced stew tonight.
The ten highest paid London council bosses all earn over £220k.
Binmen and road-gritters, meanwhile, will get a pay increase of 0%.
I've blogged before on the increasing spread of 'differentials' in the public sector; the difference between the wage of the median admin grade and the top official grade used to be a factor of around 6x; since New Labour came to power, this has doubled to around 12x. Now, in a Boccaccio-like Danse Macabre, the snouts are having a final orgy of troughing in advance of cuts to come, and one thing you can bet your hat on - it won't be these fat piggies who go, but the binmen and road-gritters who actually provide our public services.
The February / March retail figures should give us a good clue.
For Sikhs to protest that Sikh boys are not being allowed to take their knives to school, and that this violates their religion, ignores the fact that teenage boys of whatever faith are testosterone-charged little lumps of gelignite in company, and knives present the same public well-being argument as they do in aircraft.
What next, the Ton Ton Macoute insisting on taking their machetes into Tesco?
Sunday, 7 February 2010
So either Labour are pursuing a 'be authentic, be emotional' script for media interviews, or Campbell was genuinely and suddenly weighed with the realisation of a thousand tons of suffocating guilt right in the middle of an interview ...
A valid act of faith is a choice interior to man; we can sign a contract, join a firing-squad, pronounce an oath of allegiance all without any interior consent, but unwilling belief is an impossibility. Our bodies may serve Caesar, but our souls are God's.
No Christian need be under any obligation to heed the assumptions behind Harman's Equalities Bill in so far as these violate the sanctity of individual conscience and faith; being true to one's conscience is one of the greatest duties we owe to our interior selves, and this is not a realm where Caesar has any authority.
In an analysis for the ST, Thrasher and Rallings from Plymouth
It's clear that Brown is far more concerned with distorting elections in Labour's favour than with the probity of the electoral system; our constituency boundaries support electoral quotas that would disgrace a banana republic, the electoral register is out by an estimated 7m voters (fraudulent registrations and mistakes - estimate by Michael Pinto-Duschinsky) and voting fraud in ethnic areas is rife - all factors that because they favour Labour, Brown has left well alone. He really is nothing but a chiselling little crook, who would rob the English people of a fair electoral system.
The Lib Dems, who would be the natural party of Localism were it not for their commitment to the most corrosive anti-localist full PR voting system, have also done nothing to push for the correction of these grievous anomalies in our electoral system.
Parliament is rotten, the parties are corrupt and our electoral system has been suborned. The first step for any politician serious about returning probity to UK democracy must be to tackle the electoral system itself - in three basic steps;
- A one-off re-basing of the electoral roll in January 2011 to coincide with the census, with proof of identity and nationality required for every person registered. Ending the right of Commonwealth citizens to vote in UK general elections would also assist in reducing illegal overstayers and false students.
- The rapid re-drawing by 2015 of constituency boundaries to achieve a universal electoral quota of +/- 5% of the average in each constituency, with the possible exception of the Isle of Wight and the remotest Scots islands.
- A return to the strictest tests for proxy voting that may include a declaration by a magistrate or GP, to eliminate widespread proxy voting fraud and personation.
Cameron has indicated he will tackle number 2, but that's not enough. Not nearly enough.