Freedom, system thinking, politics, science, education, economics, pirates

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

In praise of Government incompetence

From FT's Maverecon blog:

Noting that the incompetence of government places limits on their ability to deprive us of our freedoms.

Why Capitalism Will Not Collapse

From Redstar Commando: a reproduction of a Socialst Party pamphlet from 1932. Seems to be appropriate to today.


Radical alternatives for drug controls

From the New Scientist: 

 "The damage done by prohibition is worse than from the substance itself," says Amanda Feilding, the founder of the Beckley Foundation.




He is a pretty straight kind of a guy


"It is true that we had ten years of record growth when I was prime minister. I have, unfortunately, come to the conclusion that it was luck." Anthony Aloysius St.John Blair

From the ASI blog (and everywhere else)


Anger about pubic sector pay and condtions reaches the mainstream (almost)

Daily Express today (eugh)

PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS SCANDAL - MORE PAY, CRAZY CAREERS ALL FUNDED BY THE TAXPAYER

Presumabably the DM will be there soon with a diatribe.

But seriously, this is an important issue; how long can the disparity between public  and private sector pay, terms and pensions be maintained?  


Jackboot Jackie's reading your email (and texts, and listening in on all your phone calls)

The Guardian today:
Private firm may track all email and calls

'Hellhouse' of personal data will be created, warns former DPP

"Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions  told the Guardian: "The tendency of the state to seek ever more powers of surveillance over its citizens may be driven by protective zeal. But the notion of total security is a paranoid fantasy which would destroy everything that makes living worthwhile. We must avoid surrendering our freedom as autonomous human beings to such an ugly future. We should make judgments that are compatible with our status as free people."

So not only is this authoritarian government planning on the most intrusive database on the planet, they will entrust it to a private company. The cost expected exceeds the ID Card planned billions. Perhaps they will bring it forwards as part of the stimulus project.



Saturday, 27 December 2008

Labour fears the Internets

So they should... we're out to get them.


Andy Burnham wants to shut down internet content that the Government deos not agree with. He thinks he can get Obama to help them. Hasn't he heard of the US 1st amendment?



Story in the Telegraph.


Friday, 26 December 2008

Is the Pope gay? Who cares?

Much coverage in the news recently on the pope's pontifications about homsexuality being evil, he denies that it could be genetic or epigenetic or due or hormones in the womb.

This has lead to debate about whether being gay is a choice, or is genetically etc. determined. Implied in this debate is the assumption taht it is OK to be gay if it is genetic, but it is not OK if it is a free will choice.

I think this debate is wrong headed and damaging. It shouldn't matter if it is geneitc or not. People should be free to live how they want. What goes on in their bedrooms is not my business, or the pope's or anybody else's. But by discussing a kind of homsexuality that is OK, they are widening the idea that some kind of homsexuality is not acceptable. What if they found a gene that could be tested - what could this lead to? WOuld gay people who don't test positive for the gay gene be loacked up in special mental hospitals, where the are trained and treated until they are straight?

If you aren't gay (and I'm not, but that's not relevant to this post) don't think this doesn't effect you: how our society treats those who are different effects us all - one day they might pick on the differences you have.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Have a good one.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Credit crunch? What credit crunch?


No frozen turkeys at Sainsbury's first thing this morning. Had to fight to get one of the last remaining fancy fresh ones - £35.


The Greatest Wealth Transfer Ever

Lots of very scary graphs say that Darling's "worst crisis in 60 years" looks optimistic.

I'd like to be buying gold, as suggested, but I am going to stick to building a stock of rice and tinned beans.

World faces "total" financial meltdown: Bank of Spain chief

todo el mundo está en la mierda

Monday, 22 December 2008

Adam Smith "Which fiscal policy?" my comment today

As someone facing almost certain unemployment in 2009 (I work in automotive R&D) any income the govt lets me keep now will go into paying off debt and then into building up savings. I have already cut my consumption significantly and cash from a helicopter wouldn't persuade me to spend it. I'd save it for when I have to support 3 kids (2 sons at University and one at secondary school) on jobseekers' allowance. I have also seen my pension go from DB to DC and the value of the fund has been hammered, so that is another reason to shift from spending to saving. Bad for the economy, I know, but I have to do what is best for my family. Since almost everyone in the private sector is concerned for their job security I imagine my view is pretty typical. If you work in the public sector, everything looks great: prices are dropping in the shops, salary is index-linked, so are pensions, job security is high. The only black spot is that Tuscany will be more expensive this year. So this is what the govt should do: big pay rises for public sector employees - they will actually spend it. And they vote for El Gord, too.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Special pizza

Thurrock Gazette reports on Pizza Poop Shock. 

The food was ordered by a resident from Grays, who phoned Trading Standards after opening two Pizza Hut boxes and finding faeces inside.

“After an internal investigation, it has emerged that a delivery was left unattended after it had left the restaurant and was subsequently tampered with by a member of the public."


Friday, 19 December 2008

Independent deterrent

The US company Jacobs has bought what is left of AWE, which maintains Britain's atomic warheads. 

Not announced in Parliament. There's a surprise.

HT:Justin McKeating

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

What if we needed a recession to fix the excesses of the economy?

Andrew Lilico in today's Grauniad.   Are the Austrian school right? Is spending your way out of a recession impossible. 

Monday, 15 December 2008

Demings 14 Points


The 14 points are a basis for transformation of [American] industry. Adoption and action on the 14 points are a signal that management intend to stay in business and aim to protect investors and jobs. Such a system formed the basis for lessons for top management in Japan in 1950 and in subsequent years.

The 14 points apply anywhere, to small organisations as well as to large ones, to the service industry as well as to manufacturing. They apply to a division within a company.

 

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimise total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of an overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.
    b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly paid worker of his right to pride in workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
    b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and engineering of their right to pride in workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Straw's new palace

Nice.

Baby P - could it happen in your town?

Article in the Guardian about workloads on Social Workers. It seems to be a broken system.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Polly is bonkers

She is even more deluded than I thought possible. She's not getting much support from the CiF commenters.

Best of three

Paul Stott at "I intend to escape.." points out that that if Ireland votes for the Lisbon Treaty, there should be a third vote to settle the draw.

 

Friday, 12 December 2008

Facebook for the Family of Colour Sergeant Krishnabahadur Dura

Please join the facebook group for the Family of Colour Sergeant Krishnabahadur Dura, here


It's all the Yanks' fault

Each domino is some feature of the global economy. All the dominoes have been teetering recently and it happens that the first to fall was in the US. But that does not mean that all the dominoes falling is the fault of the person who knocked the first domino down. It is the fault of the domino builders who built an unstable system. Gordon Brown installed many of these dominoes - he is as culpable as any of the domino builders.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Family of Colour Sergeant Dura


Thanks to  "The Real Machiavelli"  for alerting us to this story.

From the Kent News:
Campaigners are rallying to stop the widow and children of a Gurkha killed in action in Afghanistan from being deported.

Colour Sergeant Krishna Dura, of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, based at Shorncliffe Barracks, Folkestone, died last month in the Musa Qala district of Helmand.

The vehicle in which he was travelling was struck by a roadside bomb.

Now the soldier’s family face the threat of leaving the country which has become their home.

They live in Canterbury MP Julian Brazier’s constituency, and the Tory politician has given his backing for them to be allowed to stay in the UK.

He said: “I am appalled and outraged that anyone could think it fair or humane even to think of treating the family of a fallen hero this way.

“Krishna Dura, who has made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country, should be able to rest in the knowledge that that country will treat his dependants in a fair and honourable manner.  

“His wife has long been settled here and both his children were born here.  

“This is therefore their home and I urge the Government to treat their case with the compassion and humanity that it deserves. I have written to the Home Office minister myself, urging that they should be allowed to stay.”


Write to your MP!

Lawyers giving lawyers a bad name

Two solicitors who took millions of pounds from compensation payouts given to sick miners have been struck off.

Should have more punishment to come. I dout they'd be safe on the streets of Doncaster.

HT:Dave E, snook cocker

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Irwin gets it right

Good article today by Irwin. 

Prodicus & Friend

Spot on,  great post and so true

M.Wadsworth today

"The real point is that welfare claimants' have no strong motivation to find a job because they lose more in benefits than they can earn in net wages. Until the Powers That Be grasp this simple fact, all this tinkering achieves nothing."

I CAN'T STAND IT! WHY WHY WHY WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY GET THIS?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Jeff's crystal ball was working

But maybe it went off a little early, in May, 2006.

Climate Denial Bingo

Proud of my MP - Andrew MacKinley

He may be labour and I have never voted for him, but today I am glad to have him as my MP.


Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): I shall not be giving way, because of the time constraints. I wish to kick off with some slightly controversial comments. 
8 Dec 2008 : Column 278
First, I challenge people to reflect on the fact that if this had happened in Moscow or Minsk, there would have been one hell of a row and the British ambassadors would have been making representations. Secondly, leaks are food and drink to me as a Back-Bench Member of Parliament, and I do not want to stop them coming to me—I do not say that in a flip way, because it is very important. My only flip point is to ask people to send me this information on rice paper, so that I can eat it before the police get it. I am open all hours to leaks.

This is a serious matter. We need to support and endorse the office of Speaker, and ensure that it is properly facilitated over the next 10 or 20 years, because as part of the increasingly political role of the Speaker—it is not party political, but it is political—he or she must safeguard the rights and interests of this House and, I believe, of our democracy. I urge hon. Members to read the Speaker’s document that has been handed round, because the protocols set out new modalities for dealing with what are the ancient rights and duties of the Speaker to protect our interest. I commend it to the House. Some aspects may be new, but the principle is that the Speaker is the safeguard in respect of two things—first, the rights and independence of the House of Commons, and second, the idea that Members are not above the law. When I criticised something that a colleague—he is no longer in his place—had said earlier, he said, “Well, what about paedophilia?” I said that if an hon. Member were guilty of a serious crime, such as pushing drugs or being a member of the Mafia, the Speaker could take cognisance of a legitimate representation made to him by law enforcement officers and would say, “Yes, of course you must proceed forthwith.” The role of the Speaker is to be a safeguard, and that is what we must ensure. Let us kill the lie now: no one is asking for special privileges for Members of Parliament. We want any bad Member to be prosecuted with vigour, but we need to safeguard people from arbitrary action by the executive arm of Government.

I remember people laughing at me when I protested when we did away with Sessional Orders. That was treated with levity by Members, but those Sessional Orders reaffirmed the point that people must not interfere with this place. I hope that the House returns to the proposals made in 1999 that people who give evidence to this House and its Committees should not be influenced or leaned on by anyone else and should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as happens in the Congress of the United States.

The Bill of Rights, which too few Members have studied, makes it clear that this place has comity with the courts. That is a very important principle. What is more, the logical interpretation of article 9, which says that no court shall be able to look into the deliberations of this House, must extend to our documents. In 1689, Members of Parliament did not have the same volume of documents or technology as we have now. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson) said, we should think about putting that protection into statute.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Labour in denial

Purnell & Balls wilfully miss Cameron's point on Karen Matthews.

      Cameron: "The verdict last week on Karen Matthews and her vile accomplice is also a verdict on our broken society," and "How can Gordon Brown argue that people who talk about a broken society are wrong?"

      Purnell: "I think it is slightly insulting to the millions of people who are claiming benefits and looking to get back into work..to say that they are at risk of turning into Karen Matthews.

"So I think that there is a danger in what David Cameron is saying."

      Balls: "The idea that you can tar them with the Karen Matthews' brush is completely wrong,"


Karen Matthews's lifestyle is the problem, from which sprang the crime she committed.  Karen Mattews is not stupid; she worked out that, if she kept having babies, the government would give her more and more money. She is a creation of the system. Maybe she could have chosen a different path; many people born and grown up in difficult circumstances, as she did, manage to get themelves educated, get themselves a good job and leave the ghetto. But she didn't have to, the choices she made were rational and morally acceptable to her and her neighbours. This is the broken societey, and Balls & Purnell do the poor a disservice in not aknowleging what really happens in the cities where they govern. 





Saturday, 6 December 2008

Iain Dale's Ten New Blogs - I'm in!

Ten New Blogs

Iain Dale 7:45 PM

Derek Bennett - UKIP blog
John Moss - Right of centre view from Walthamstow (!)
Victor Meldrew's Brother - Right wing and then some
Thoughts of Mrs Smallprint - Non aligned Eurosceptic
Mark's Any Musings - Non Aligned
Mike Hobday - Labour candidate for Welwyn & Hatfield
English Question
Cllr Simon Gibson - Blog of a 20 year old town councillor in Dorset
Eyes to the Left - Blog of a confused liberal
Chanticleer - Blog of a Welsh freelance journalist

These blogs aren't necessarily newly created, but I haven't known about them before and they had not, until now, appeared in the TP Blog Directory.

Visit the Total Politics Blog Directory which contains more than 1,700 blogs. If you know of one which isn't there, please fill in the Submit a New Blog form on the left hand side of THISpage.

John Redwood today

"For those who like metaphors, a City commentator (I think it was Lombard) compared the actions of the MPC and the Bank to the person in the shower who can never get the temperature right. Tiring of the cold start to the shower, they turn the thermostat to very hot. After a pause they are surpised to be scalded. They wrench the thermostat back to cold. Sometime later they are shivering from jets of cold water. They lurch the control back to very hot…

Please can our authorities learn to get the temperature right soon?"

Friday, 5 December 2008

No Country for Young Children

Tom Paine has found an excellent article by Theodore Dalrymple about children born in order to garner benefit.

"The single most sickening aspect of modern British society is the fate of children bred to maximise state benefits."

Go and have a read: click the title of this post for the link.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Fantasy Gummint

Let's say there is an election soon - here is my Government of all the talents

Prime Minister: Jeff Randall
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Mark Wadsworth
Home Sec: Old Holborn
Foreign Sec: Boris
Leader of the house: Anti-Citizen One
Education, Health, Housing, Local Gummint: John Seddon
Communication: Iain Dale
President of the Board of Trade: Eddie Stobart
Technology & Innovation: Dizzy
Sport: Sue Barker
Food, Ag & Fish: Nigella Lawson

Addendum
Transport: Clarkson

Jeff Randal - wasted on The Telegraph

Spot on, as ever, in this article Jeff tackles the obfuscations of our politicians. The fact that the people and the markets see right through it.

Anti Cocaine Advertising

The Govt is launching a new anti-cocaine advert campaign today. Lots of footage of young people having health and lifestyle damaged by taking cocaine.

They could have saved all the writing, filming and editing costs. There's plenty of archive footage of Amy Winehouse around.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Claimants 'should be work ready'

FFS !

Claimants don't work, because work does not pay. The benefits system provides just enough money to live on. If you are living off the system and get a low paid job (as is likely, most people's first job is low paid) then you will lose 80p of benefit for every pound earned. Would you work a whole week for £40? Hence the term "poverty trap".

To get people working, change the system so withdrawal rates are smaller.

Why is this so hard for the political class to understand?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Don't blame the social workers

Blame the system, ICS.

Article by John Hemming, Allan Norman and Sue White (click title for link)

Ed Balls-up

I am told social workers refer to Balls's department, the DCSF as the Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings.

Simon Caulkin examines the Balls-driven IT project and its implication in the Baby P Tragedy. Click title for link.