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

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

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That's the best £10 I have spent in a while

Richard Timney spent £10 on some dodgy videos and charged them to his wife's business expenses. Unfortunately his wife is the Home Secretary already in difficulties over expense claims for living at her sister's house, or something.

That's £10 of my tax money and well spent:

1) I saw Timney on TV this morning appearing all pathetic and reading out an apology. I haven't laughed so hard in ages. Poor bloke.

2) Jackboot Jacqui, the two homes secretary is now in real political difficulties and may have to resign.

3) More sleaze for Gorgon to deal with, distracting him and us from the glory that is G20.

4) Another nail in Labour's coffin, and a very cheap one, compared to the billions the other have cost.

Monday, 30 March 2009


is Andrew Mackinley. His constituency, Thurrock is 22 miles from Westminster. My son commutes from here to Pimlico every day on the train. We pay Mr. Mackinley £15,761 so he doesn't have to. Lucky Mr. Mackinley.

I would pay a higher salary and leave them to it. I'd provide civil servant staff at the HoC to do admin.

If I had my way there'd be fewer of them, too. We can't need more MPs than America as congressmen.

Living on benefits

Most of us, who have a job, lead a life where we choose what to do based on what we can afford from our fixed income. Our income does not change because our circumstances do and we don't make life choices because they will increase our income. If we want to do X, then we know we can't afford Y because our income is fixed, so we make choices. If you want to do more things, you need to get a better paying job or work more hours or work harder and get more commission or bonuses. 

There are two classes of people who aren't living in this world: the poor and MPs.

If your earning capability is limited to minimum wage jobs, then you are also dependent on the state to pay you various benefits so you can have a decent standard of living. If you work harder or get a better paying job, your benefits are reduced almost £ for £.  So what do you do? You have more kids, or a couple splits up.  See here:

If you are an MP, your work provides a certain level of pay, but if you want more money you have to change your living arrangements, employ your children, buy things you can claim for that you can sell later and keep the money.

If our masters get the idea of living on an income that depends on the non-work choices you make, you can see why they have no problem making their clients live the same way.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Removing discrimination

Currently the monarchy suffers from the following discriminatory laws:

Males are considered for the top job ahead of females (sex discrimination)
Being or marrying a Catholic bars you from the top job (religous discrimination)

A private member's bill is now going through parliament to change the law to remove these discriminatory rules.

It seems very odd to me to point out that there is discrimination in the monarch selection rules and address only some of them. There is no proposal to address these other discriminatory rules:

Older candidates are considered ahead of younger ones (age discrimination)
Some grandchildren of the current monarch are ahead of children of the monarch (generational discimination)
Only relatives of the current monarch qualify for the top job (nepotism, racism)

It is ludicrous to suggest that a hereditary system is unfair and to increase its fiarness, while keping the most monsterous element of its unfariness in place, the hereditary principal. By making it fairer, while not addressing this issue, it points out even more what an out of date undemocratic system this is.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Pickles second home - no support.

Eric Pickles on his second home on Question time, followig questions about McNutty. Pickles lives 37 miles from Westminster in Brentwood and has a flat in central London.  He tried his best to justify it to his audience, but the audience is united in its opposition to MP's second homes, at least those in outer London. He tried to explain that he has to be at work bang on time and would leave home at 5:30am to be able to do so. Since the majority of Brentwood's residents work in London, in jobs that they have to be on time for, he is in the same boat as most of his constituents, surely?

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

My comment at "Oh what now!"

Excellent post by the Filthy Engineer here:

My comment reproduced below.

I always like a rant about the non-workers and your is a good one.

However, I like to dig a bit deeper into the causes and the Chawners are not the cause of their lifestyle. Ranting at them is missing your target - the system.

Deming taught us that environment drives behaviour and it is the management who set the environment. In this case for management read government, and I don't just mean this one; Maggie and Major were at it too.

There is now a welfare state that pays people not to work. If they are of low skill, their earning ability is low - picking corn as you say. Benefits are set at a level such that the low paid can make almost the same not working as working, and if you include costs of working, such as travel, not working may pay more. 

You can moan about the Chawners' lack of morals or criminal laziness, but how little would you get out of bed for? 50p an hour, 25p an hour? That is what we are asking the Chawners to do. For that is the difference in take home pay that minimum wage work can be worth, thanks to the design of the benefit system. Add in the fact that low paid work is often seasonal, part-time, short-term or of unpredictable availability, which the benefit system handles poorly, it is no wonder millions chose life on the dole. Once there, of course, we pay them extra to have more children, like Karen Matthews. And to top that, to massage the figures many are moved to incapacity so they aren't "unemployed" and they get more money! 

If they want to raise their std of living; a little participation in the black economy goes much farther than being a good, legal worker.

Its all here: in the DWP Tax and benefit tables. 

Yup, a govt publication which outlines the take home worth of working. 85% withdrawal rate is common (you keep 15% of what you earn) sometimes it is in excess of 100%, especially when you add in other benefits like free school meals, free prescriptions etc.

You aren't going to get the Chawners off their sofa by pointing out the moral status of their lifestyle. Let them keep more of their income and they might think it is worth it.

Oh and immigrants - simple. They can't sign on, so their withdrawal rate is zero. They keep all the money they earn, so they are motivated to work for it.

MY answer to this is a citizen's income, set at a rate that is too low to live on comfortably, but enough to ensure a basic std of living. Anybody could then improve their lot by doing a little work, for a little pay, which they would get to keep.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Daniel Hannan skewers Gordo

Daniel Hannan had the chance to tell Gordon Brown exactly what he thinks of him.


Monday, 23 March 2009

BBC supresses 1990

Watching Edward Woodward on Eastenders tonight got me looking up the great man's history on Wikipedia. Which reminded me of Wilfred Greatorex's 1990 - a dystopian future where the Home Office takes over the country following financial collapse, cancelling the general election.

I remember the series well, but I was surprised to learn that a) it has never been repeated and b) it has never been issued on DVD.

So we can't see a warning of what may soon be happening, or what has already started, because the BBC has supressed this important work.

Frank Field: reform the expenses and more

Frank today on his blog:

On MP's second home allowances:
"I cannot now see any alternative other than for the House of Commons to own these second homes and to service them."

Is there another Labour MP who understands where the economy now is ? - Frank here is closer to Redwood than Brown:
"We are now into a period when taxes will need to go up and public expenditure cut."

Is he going to cross the floor soon?

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Are MPs.. or are they ...

So now we know, MPs are out to line their own pockets.

Tony McNutty (left) has claimed buckets of cash, tax free, to live in his mum's spare room in his Harrow constituency, 7 miles away from is own home in Hammersmith, 3 miles form the HoP.  Or somethiung like that.

I don't care if this in within the rules - they made the rules, they can change the rule! Who else would be allowed to claim living expenese on their employer and be able to use them to pay off a mortgage and be the owner of the property? Anybody else has to provide receipts for every penny claimed or pay income tax on it. MP's, uniquely among all employees, do not have to. 

If the Tories want a few more votes at the next election, a little reform of MPs' expenses couldn't hurt as a policy.

Gurkha good news

I've blogged before about the Gurkha soldier, Colour Sergeant Krishna Dura. He was killed on duty in Afghanistan. His family faced an immigration tribunal to see if they would be allowed to stay in the country. How there can be any question that the family of a man who gave his life for Britian might not be allowed to live here?

Good news at the Tele, and others.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Guthrum today

Guthrum has hit a rich seam of pith recently, here's today's quote, of call me Dave:

"Different bloke waving at the traffic, same car crash."

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Frank Field twitter

Frank Field is now on Twitter (or his staff are) here

Guthrum @ Old Holborn today

"The Government has all the hallmarks of a business going bust, 'debtors' no longer able to pay their bills on time,or are going out of business, the list of 'creditors' is growing, and cashflow is getting worse by the week, yet you have a management still taking on staff and spending like there is no tomorrow on current items, whilst putting capital projects on hold. The Managing Director is in denial, cannot see that he has done anything wrong, and the Board of Directors are too scared to remove him."

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bank shares malarky

Looks like executives aren't expecting an upturn in bank shares any time soon according to

BUt, the RBS executives offered me, as an exisiting shareholder, some more shares at 31.75p, when they are trading at 23.10p. Do they expect me to buy something they are not prepared to buy and at a higher price.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tory logo fun

My entry at

Sunday, 15 March 2009

“Who is John Galt?”

I have to get a copy

The Guardian interviews Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of "The spirit level" which argues that ills of societey are all caused by inequality.

They appear to offer no causes of the inequlity they complain about and offer no solutions, except to cut the pay of high earner like bankers. 

I think I'll wait until I see it in the library, not beause it sounds like a bad book, but because I don't think I'll be surprised by it. 

Still if you want to buy it then amazon has it

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rank hypocrisy

According to the DM (so it must be true)

There will be a smoking lounge at the G20 summit, in direct contravetion of the new smoking laws. No I'm not a smoker, but really who the heck do these people think we are?

Monday, 9 March 2009

What a story

Today's Telegraph has this story about Clarkson's idiot. I'm guessing the guy who types in the URLs feels strongly about this story.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


Oh, I feel soo optimistic - that the idots will be gone soon.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Green custard

What's this an attack by Dr.Seuss terrorists.

I do not like it, Gord-I-am. I do not like it on my face. I do not like it in the street, I do not like it on sky news, I do not like it on my feet. I do not like green custard, Gord-I-am.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Targets, bloody targets

Deming taught us that targets promote the wrong behaviours. Here is a nice example, by James Bartholomew

Schools have targets for abscences. If a school is closed, no abscences. If a school stays open, but lots of kids bunk off to play in the snow, your target is hammered. What is a head, who is ruled by targets to do? You do the math, as they say.

set our policemen free

PC Copperfield has moved to Canada and he is now blogging about policing in Canada, compared to the UK. Seems the Canadians still trust their coppers and don't make them spend hours on paperwork. I like Canada.

Somali pirates save the planet

Mark Wadsworth asked for more pirate posts. I must admit I haven't posted on pirates recently, so here's an update:

Pirates are connected to global warming. The data in ben fry's article  is a little old now. There has been a reduction in temperature recently, but as we all know; Somali pirate activity has increased.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

What a smash

Driving up the M6 today I saw the aftermath of the most amazing crash. Seven trucks had collided. 5 of them were in a straight line, nose to tail ech with the cab crushed into the back of the next. 

We were stuck for 1 1/2 hours on the M^ while the road was closed with Police & Fire dealing with it. I hope they all get nicked for carelss or dangerous driving.


Monday, 2 March 2009

lotteries for school places

Lotteries, an unfair system, or the least unfair? Most school admissions schemes are lotteries, just not explicitly so.

The man in the arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Wtaching the news, FTSE falls some more

IT amazes me that there are any invetors eft to take flight, given that it is clear there are a lot more stones to be turned over yet. We are nowhere near the bottom, according to Fiona Bruce.

It's all worse than we thought it'd be, even when you know its worse, it's worse than that.

And then when you realise how bad it might be, you hear it's worse elsewhere, like Hungary and they all want to come here.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Goodwin's pension - smoke screen for the real culprits.

Jeff Randall has another excellent article. There are some lovely one-liners in there, e.g.:

The Chancellor is not an evil man, but is so far out of his depth that sonar systems can no longer track him.

Like Mr O'Reilly, the Irish builder in Fawlty Towers, with each attempt at fixing the previous botched job, he creates a new, more threatening, set of problems. In the end, the roof falls in. Where's Mr Stubbs when we need him?