Friday, April 26, 2013

Can we extend this a little?

Margaret "Only I'm allowed to dodge tax" Hodge and some of her flying monkeys claim:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was in a "battle it cannot win" against the accountancy firms who have thousands of people giving advice ...

the practice represented a "ridiculous conflict of interest".

The large accountancy firms are in a powerful position in the tax world and have an unhealthily cosy relationship with government.

Okay, they may even have a point. Let's now ban lawyers, trades unionists and civil servants from Parliament? Oh, no, okay. Hypocrisy is us, yes?

Monday, April 22, 2013

What a lot of lefty whining

I was pointed at this post by a Facebook contact, who described it as "a thoughtful article about poverty & inequality". I disagree.

I think it is load of old-left hard-left whining that not only have they lost the arguments, they've lost the war. Of course, being Glasgow, there is also a whole load of unjustifiable Scottish exceptionalism - how the Scots are so much better than the evil English (Tory, baby-eating, bankster) bastards.

But let's start this fisk at the end, shall we?

David Donnison was for five years chair of the Supplementary Benefits Commission (abolished by Margaret Thatcher) which had a general responsibility for our means-test social benefits.

Ah, an organisation so essential that neither the populist Blair nor the socialist Brown brought it back. Okay, so as we can start from a position "Maggie snatched my comfortable sinecure", we can see the thought that is likely to go in to the rest of this.

The Westminster government and the media have renamed them 'welfare', a word reeking with an American accent of contempt for those who receive these payments.

Is it? Really? More contemptuous than "social security benefits"? Oh, okay ...

The Westminster government and their friends in the media try to shape those changes by contrasting 'strivers' with 'shirkers', and constantly repeating that many families 'in which no-one has worked for generations' are 'trapped on benefits' – a myth for which I have been unable to find any supporting evidence.

I don't, somehow, think you've looked very hard. There are certainly families near me in Scotland that are on their 2nd generation of benefit recipients. And I've not looked at all. There is also an appalling attitude I've seen on behalf of some of the families of my son's friends that even attending school isn't really important. That merely coming of age will be sufficient because somebody else will provide you with the income you clearly deserve.

Now the disgusting George Osborne has seized on the case of Mick Philpott – the man given a life sentence for the appalling manslaughter of six children – to suggest that his crime is the kind of thing that happens when we hand out over-generous social benefits to immoral people.
Did he? According to Sky, Osborne was asked:
Are the Philpotts vile products of welfare UK?

He replied:
There’s a question about the welfare state, and taxpayers who pay, subsidising lifestyles like that.

So, actually, no he didn't. He didn't suggest any causal link between the Welfare State and the murder - his comment would have applied, just as relevantly or not, if Philpott had been in the news for any reason. Say, as a lottery winner, or because of his appearance on some god-awful morning tv schedule filler.

We heard from the lone mother who got her children to school, ran for a bus, and reached the job centre just in time for her appointment – only to be told that, according to their computer, she was a few minutes late, and would therefore lose her benefits. Her appeal, if she made one, would be heard in a few months' time.

Okay - what's this actually a problem with? The UK public service ethos - proverbially capable neither of civility nor of service? Crap computer systems? Piss-poor organisation on the part of the 'lone mother'. (Ed notes: so, is 'single mother' now one of these discriminatory terms we are banned from using?) Easier just to blame it on those evil bastard Tories rather than actually working out what the problem was.

Another mother took a bus for seven miles to renew her benefit payments, and was told to go home for a document she had not been asked for – the 14-mile trip costing her the price of her children's supper. 

How many times has she renewed her benefit? Where was this bus? How much was it? Of course, as we've gone away from handing benefits over in cash at the Job Centre, how was she going to pay for the kiddies' supper even if she had her benefits renewed?

And, frankly, where is Dad? Why can't she get a job? Etc, etc. This sort of anecdata isn't sufficient to make an argument.

And there was the frail, elderly lady who can just manage to look after herself at home with the help of her son who comes to stay for a night or two each week. She has been told that she will have to move to a one-bedroom flat because she will not be entitled to her present housing benefit for a home with two bedrooms. And there are no one-bedroom flats available in her neighbourhood.

Yet the council has a statutory duty to house her. And to provide her, free of charge, with personal care. And, of course, she will only have to move if the housing benefit reduction means she can no longer afford her current house. And the lack of one-bedroom flats? Clearly the fault of these evil Tory bastards who've been running the local councils in Scotland for far too long.

If we are to have governments in Westminster who see poverty not as a problem but as a solution – driving people into work of whatever kinds and at whatever wages may be available.

Do I hear the refrain "Can work, won't work"? Hmm, but the magic jobs tree exists in the same place as the magic money tree - in fantasy land. Every private sector job needs to pay its way. And every public sector job needs to be supported by at least two private sector jobs at the same sort of level.

There's more of it. But it is just lefty whining. They'll cripple the ability of the private sector to make any money and then strike, march and even riot about our inability to pay for what they consider necessary public services.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Most hated Yank in America?

Well, will this be enough for Nate Bell?

I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning. As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.

I dunno, and being somewhat far removed from the Arkansas state legislature having any real significance to my life, I don't really care. But, let's look at what caused the problem, the moron's original tweet:

I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?

Okay. Now, we're seeing vaguely where he is coming from. Boston is, as far as the US goes, quite 'liberal'* (it's on the coast. Which is actually, until you get to Alaska or the Cuban bits of Florida, a pretty reasonable marker). And they're not particularly keen on expansive interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. But is an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine (variously, this seems to mean more than 10 rounds, in the lapsed federal legislation, or 15 rounds in some states' legislation) really the weapon of choice to defend your home in a crowded suburban environment?

No, it's not. In fact, it is so far from it, it was an utterly silly thing to say. You don't have the long lines of sight or the ability to set yourself in a proper firing position. The round is high-penetrating (high velocity, small calibre and Geneva convention compatible), so your chance of collateral damage - to your family or your neighbours - is far too high, but also does relatively little damage (small calibre and that pesky convention, again!) And if you are a crap enough shot that you need 10 rounds to hit man-size target at the short distance of a residential house or lot, then, frankly, you've no business owning a rifle. Go to a gun club and get some training.

Ideally, I'd have an auto weapon with expanding or hollow point ammo. But, as most places don't like people owning their own sub-machine guns, and I was recommending a weapon, I'd go with a decent semi-auto pistol in a medium calibre - and those low penetration, high energy dispersal rounds. Haven't had a play with the Glock 17 yet - but that's popular. A reasonable Sig-Sauer (eg a P226) would be an alternative.

So, even if you are in favour of guns and despise US 'liberals', the man is still a moron.

Update: Also, as I have just realised, if there are a whole load of rather nervous armed police and similar agencies running around (plus a whole load of {National Guard?} soldiers), 'cowering' in your home holding a readily identifiable 'military style long weapon' is probably not the sanest thing to do.


* This word is used, in the US, in a strange way. But not in as strange a way as it is used by Clegg, Cable and the rest of that egregious gang.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Panorama on North Korea

Well, interesting - even if they didn't actually show us anything we didn't already know from news reports or other visits to the country. This series, on the other hand is excellent:

  
So, how did the BBC do? Just some musings ...

  • The endless repetition of "thermonuclear war"? Apart from the German estimate of 40 kilotons, all the other estimates for the third nuclear test put it well within fission bomb levels.
  • Prof Brian Meyers - big military equals 'far right' equals 'ultra-nationalist'. Okay, if you insist. But the Sovs had a big army, were definitely left-ish and were really quite keen on "Mother Russia".
    • But he's also the guy who insists that the Norks wouldn't start a (thermo)nuclear war.
  • North Koreans are racially prejudiced. Okay, didn't see any evidence of this when I was in South Korea (except from 'white people can't hold their drink. Ed notes: That's largely because they largely equate 'white' and 'American'. So it is evidence-based to some extent.) But so is still-really-communist China and really-quite-capitalist Japan.
  • Anti-aircraft guns? Just because they were pointing up? Yes, people still use anti-aircraft cannon - small and rapid firing. Long distance stuff is missiles everywhere. I'm not sure whether this is North Korean backwardness or BBC ignorance.
  • The defector brave enough to go on camera? Okay, but they'd only just shown the interview with the guy who had fallen under the train. Only the lady doctor was hidden.
All in all, not great journalism.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Things that are currently pissing me off - 10

Arseholes who offer stuff for sale on eBay, only willing to accept a fixed price. But instead of using the "buy it now" facility, instead set a low start price and bury that critical detail deep in the description.

It's a right pain in the fundament if you are searching using one of the mobile eBay apps.

A better Bieber joke than the boy himself.

Via young Master S-E:

Would Anne Frank have been a Belieber? No, millions of people following an idiot was the reason she was in that attic.

Apologies to the original author for the lack of credits.

(Ed notes: Of course, Hitler wasn't an idiot. He was a lot of unpleasant things but merely stupid wasn't one of them. And, in Bieber's case, idiocy is a common and often temporary affliction of the young adult male. We'll have to see how he turns out.)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

Err, well, um. Why? Boston?

My thoughts go out to the dead and their families, the injured and the others affected.

We'll wonder about who. Although C4 News was full of hunger strikes at a prison in Cuba. This may, or may not, be linked.

Update: Oh, dear. Seems to be Chechens (although US resident for some time.) Which probably means they are Sunni Muslims. Possibly, of course, a false flag. Doesn't look hopeful for avoidance of more nastiness.


Monday, April 08, 2013

RIP

Lady Thatcher LG OM PC FRS.

Britain, today, would be a very different and a much poorer place without her.

We'll wait to see if the left can avoid a tsunami of triumphalism. Somehow I doubt it.
 
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