Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joy Of Joys

Today is the day I had rather hoped would be some time yet in coming.
I had to use a walking stick.

The So-Called 'British' Broadcasting Corporation Is A Nest Of British-Hating, 'Globalist', Gaia-Worshipping Fascists

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

Unfortunately, I Think My E-Mail Address Has Been Hijacked...

so if anyone receives dud e-mail from the address quoted under 'Contact Me', my apologies.
Please let me know.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nothing More To Say...

Leastwise for free, and without insurance; probably talk too much anyway. Empty vessels and all that...
Might be back next year. We'll see.
Adieu.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How The New Model Scotland Works

If you buck what the grandees want, you get sacked.

Edward Lucas, Lord Bell Of Belgravia And 'The Daily Telegraph': An Apology

On this forum, I posted remarks concerning Edward Lucas, Lord Bell and 'The Daily Telegraph' which should have not been made.
My apologies to them all for any misunderstanding and distress my remarks may have caused.
As far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed.

Fisking Irwin

Irwin Stelzer has an absolutely dumb article in today's 'Telegraph' entitled "Everyone benefits from home ownership".
He kicks off,
"The Government, the banks and millions of home-owners are about to find out what happens when mortgage rates rise at a time when incomes didn't. "
And why haven't incomes been rising? Because of the policy, not a process, known as 'globalisation'; the process of wage reduction through globalisation is described by, er, Irwin Stelzer here-
"In recent years over one billion unskilled, low-paid workers have entered the international work force. Meanwhile, globalisation has opened an international market for talented managers, driving up the demand for such executives. Result: downward pressure on wages of the unskilled, upward pressure on executive compensation, and a widening income gap."
He goes on,
"Indeed, at a time when rising food, heating, and petrol costs add so much to an already-increased tax burden, little is left over to meet rising mortgage payments. A large number of home-owners will be unable to meet their commitments, and will stand in danger of losing their homes."
Er, no, possibly not as large a number as The Sage Of The Hudson Institute might think, his conclusions having been drawn in ignorance of local laws; of which more a little later.

"After all, when the banks got themselves into trouble by breaking new records for reckless lending, the Bank of England decided last week to ease their lot by lowering interest rates - never mind that that might encourage inflation and make life even more difficult for the man on the Clapham omnibus."
A point of view: nothing more. He continues,
"Or that government from time to time bails out stricken manufacturers, or lays on expensive state dinners for Saudi princes bearing contracts for British firms."
Our business, not his. He continues,
"Why does solicitude for banks and big business not justify solicitude for home-owners who find themselves in difficulty? In fact, it does, as even the Bush Administration has discovered. "
This is going to be good. He continues,
"Those who rely on the BBC and other such for news about the doings of George W. Bush will not have noticed that there is indeed a compassionate aspect to his conservatism, and one that provides a guide for British housing policy in 2008 and beyond. "
Shall we just hand over the keys now?
"Urged on by Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, the Administration persuaded lenders to freeze interest rates on millions of mortgages that were about to re-set at levels as high as 11 per cent."
OK. Anyone convinced that Paulson, Satan's Purser, is an altruist should read this post by The Sage of Santa Rosa.
Undaunted, Stelzer keeps going -
"British authorities will have to decide whether to take some steps to ease the burden on borrowers, a policy David Cameron hints he follows, or allow lenders to take over thousands of homes. "
They don't have to do anything, no matter what Witney Wonka 'hints'.
"The standard argument against intervention is that it creates "moral hazard", the danger that irresponsible behaviour, unpunished, will be repeated. But moral hazard seems less of a worry when the Government assists borrowers such as hard-pressed mortgagors."
The 'moral hazard' involved in letting foreigners buy everything in your country but your underwear and the bathroom taps is today outlined, once again, by the redoubtable Paul Craig Roberts.
Stelzer goes on,
"Even if these borrowers are again tempted to take on more debt than they can handle, they will have to find someone to lend them the money. And lenders, who are not being bailed out, will not soon forget the difficulties in which they now find themselves. "
And? This is news? This man is a scholar?
"So borrowers might be tempted to think that they will be bailed out in the future, but no matter: lenders will keep their pens capped when it comes to signing loan agreements of the sort that have so harmed the American and now British and other markets."
Ah, now I get it! You think that banks should lend responsibly!
Right! I'm with you now! Now we get to the meat -
"But there is something more fundamental about the housing market that should inform policy. Housing markets are different from lots of other markets in that actions by individuals affect not only the actors, but neighbourhoods and even society as a whole. "
At last, a neo who acknowledges the concept of 'community', that we are not all atomised little economic homunculi all running around pursuing our self-interest! You'd think neoconservatism was a doctrine based in socialism! Oh dear, it is! Shhhh... don't tell the libertarians...
"Allow your personal appearance to deteriorate, and you pay the price in lost job opportunities and a reduction in the number of people willing to be seen with you. The cost is yours."
Dude, if you're a misanthrope who wants to avoid call-centre work then that is one opportunity cost well worth bearing.
"Allow your house to deteriorate, and your neighbours pay the price. Innocent bystanders get hurt when things go wrong in the housing markets."
Dog mess on the pavement! Fire in the hold!
"First, the value of all homes declines as the neighbourhood becomes dotted with vacant houses and takes on a less attractive appearance."
Which is why the market has developed a caste of labourers known as 'estate agents'. OK, so they are held in the same degree of esteem as bargees; but they sure know how to spot a good development opportunity...
"My own studies in America show that increased home ownership is associated with lower crime rates, higher levels of educational attainment and greater civic involvement, and I see no reason to believe the same is not true in Britain. "
Spit them out, Irwin. Let's see the references and the PDF's, because you've just taken a dump on the last remnants of the respectable British working class.
Stelzer's theories are garbage. It is not who owns a property, nor indeed who lives in it, that makes a difference to a district; it is how they live that counts.
The concept of 'how' seems to be very, very difficult for economists such as Stelzer to grasp. I'll give you another example.
At Page 54 of the paperback edition of 'Globalisation and its discontents', Joe Stiglitz wrote,
"Governments, by and large, have little business running steel mills, and typically make a mess of it. (Although the most efficient steel mills in the world are those established and run by the Korean and Taiwanese governments, they are an exception).
Now Stiglitz, fair play to him, has won both the Nobel prize and the John Bates Clark Medal; and even he doesn't get it. This is the core of 'The Smart Guys' Theory of History'; in the pursuit of any endeavour, it is the how, not the who or the why, that makes the difference.
Stelzer continues,
"Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that Margaret Thatcher's transfer of houses from local councils to private ownership resulted in a substantial upgrading of many of those properties. As the economist Larry Summers put it: "No one ever washed a rented car."
Larry Summers has said lots of things; of which possibly the most socially and economically destructive has been, "Let's devalue the Mexican peso! Woo-Hoo!"
And, er, Irwin? It is hardly surprising that property owners should seek to upgrade their properties; which may be one reason why so many unsellable flats in peripheral housing schemes are decorated like Buckingham Palace.
He goes on,
"Banks may be good at many things, but they are not good home-owners. They are generally unable to maintain any homes they repossess in sparkling order."
This assumes that all home owners keep their homes in sterile, Ann-Maurice style kerb appeal sparkling order; anecdotal evidence suggests they do not. But he's on a roll -
"That causes problems for entire neighbourhoods - the same sort of problems that anti-social neighbours cause. "
Not being able to sell your house is most certainly not the same type of normative problem as being stabbed by a droog on an ASBO.
"So it is good policy to minimise the number of property-owners who are forced out of their homes, not only because of the humanitarian need to minimise their suffering, but also because of the innocent bystanders affected by foreclosures."
It is indeed good policy, Dr. Stelzer - which is why the laws of both England and Scotland contain provisions enabling mortgage borrowers to go to court to request that their lenders' collection rights be suspended while they get back on their feet.
In Scotland, such an order can be obtained under The Mortgage Rights (Scotland) Act 2001; not being as familiar with English law, I believe that jursdiction's term is a "suspended order".
Stelzer continues,
"Which tells you something about long-run policy. Because the advantages of home ownership accrue not only to the owner and his family, but to society as a whole, housing minister Yvette Cooper is right when she argues: "Homes are the building blocks of our communities."
It is dispiriting to see that Mrs. Ed Balls appears to adhere to the progressive philosophy acidly described by Correlli Barnett as 'Parlours Before Plant'. It would also be of great interest to know how Mrs. Balls defines "homes". For sure, a loving and married mum and dad and the four kids that they've had with each other could make a home for themselves in a dustbin if they wanted to; they don't really need four gyproc walls and an inside loo, although they're obviously better than the alternative.
If Mrs. Balls is referring to the dwellings of such people as these as 'homes', then she's correct.
If, however, she is referring to the hutches in which we warehouse those irresponsible sluts who have her four kids by four men as 'homes', then she's wrong. These erections are 'houses', not 'homes'. Mrs. Balls, the daughter of a union grandee, is, by training, an economist; another one who has a problem with the 'how'.
Stelzer continues,
"Therefore, it is worth something to society to encourage home ownership so as to generate these positive externalities. "
Rubbish. It is worth something to society to teach people a measure of appreciation and consideration for others. If that is done, then the 'positive externalities' once called 'values' and 'morality' will fall into place, and the name on the deeds be damned.
He continues,
"Which suggests that any government resources devoted to the housing market should not be spent on expanding the stock of government-owned houses."
Groan! See "How, Economists, Ignorance Of" above.
"Rather, government can quite justifiably encourage home ownership, and the benefits flowing from it, by subsidising mortgage rates. "
Hmm...not quite. Subsidised mortgage rates are just corporate welfare for banks. Oops, was that the wrong thing to say?
"In America, the government participates in the mortgage markets through a variety of agencies designed to keep interest rates on mortgages as low as possible."
I rest my case.
"These agencies are worth studying by policy-makers here, whose search for new policies should begin with four very basic ideas.

First, home ownership is good for society, not only for the owner."
So is going to church. Next!
"Second, the presence of such externalities justifies government intervention in markets to encourage home ownership. "
It is weird indeed to see economists urge subsidy for a commodity (housing) which must be financed, while at the same time instinctively shying away from subsidising the means (jobs) by which this finance is obtained. Next!
"Third, that intervention is self-defeating if it takes the form of government-owned housing rather than the encouragement of private ownership. "
Again, back to the problem of 'how'. Next!
"Fourth, government has a responsibility to make certain that a few "neighbours from hell" cannot bring down an entire neighbourhood; these miscreants are as responsible for stealing value from their neighbours' homes as any burglar, and should be punished as severely - well, punished as any burglar would be were it still the custom to punish burglars."
The thought of British police forces being compelled to set up a House Price Squad - like 'The Sweeney' but with measuring tapes and fabric samples instead of guns - is just too absurd to contemplate.
Stelzer's article is rubbish, and says more about him than it does the situation he seeks to describe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Could The Individual Who Lives In Boyd Street, Govanhill...

near the corner of Aikenhead Road and who has accessed this blog at least three times today through IP addresses 81.106.238.120 and 193.62.251.11 just stop now?
You're making me nervous.

Speak For Yourself

For The Children

For the record, I have never received a satisfactory reply to my query as to why, when he was a politically appointed civil servant but a civil servant nonetheless, Ed Balls MP, now the holder of the sinister title of "Children, Schools and Families Secretary", had been reported as being a three-time attendee at an ultra-secretive, international non-governmental forum to which the United Kingdom is bound by neither law nor treaty nor protocol.
So that's all right then - although I hope both he and George Osborne enjoyed their trips to Ottawa in 2006 and Istanbul in 2007.
That's five times and counting, Ed...sooner or later somebody's going to ask questions...
Ed has unveiled a "plan for children"; given the rather neoliberal economic worldview shared by the people with whom he seems to spend so much time, it's a bit like putting The Child Catcher in charge of Barnardo's.
But it shouldn't be surprising; EdWorld is a place where the labour market is wonderfully flexible, so it doesn't really matter to him whether children leave school able to read or write at all.
It's just a natural progression of policy; after all, the only logical reason British children are tested so heavily and yet perform so poorly is that the international political cosmopolitan class amongst whom Balls is so at ease think that childhood education should be training for adult work - which is we we treat going to school as being a job in itself.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Caledonia Delenda Est!

The soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' believes that celebrating the birth of Our Lord and Saviour is less important than celebrating the election of Alex Salmond as First Minister.
The BBC report of the news that the Scottish Parliament's carol service is to be dumped in favour of a 'festive evening' which will have "mince pies and mulled wine and fruit juice" advises that,
"An ecumenical blessing by Action of Churches Together in Scotland has yet to be confirmed".
The website of "Action of Churches Together in Scotland" indicates that it should really be called 'Jocks for Jesus', so foggy is its outlook; and although Jack McConnell was The GrinchWho Stole Scotland, not even he ever went this far.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Some Thoughts On What Some Conservatives Call 'The Productive Sector Of The Economy'

In this morning's 'Telegraph', Simon Heffer complains bitterly about Gordon Brown that,
"...he allowed the supply of money here to grow in advance of the combined rates of inflation and growth, and therefore stoked up prices by creating the availability of easy money."
English Bob, The Wrath of God, thunders on that,
"He did this to give the impression of a booming economy at a time when his obsession with regulation, and his determination to drain the productive sectors of our economy by high taxation, were actually depressing genuine economic activity."
Quite clearly, Bob is a true believer in the allegedly conservative idea that government is sterile and utterly unproductive.
Oh dear. He needs an economics lesson.
In 'The Affluent Society', a book that Bob has possibly omitted from his reading list, the late John Kenneth Galbraith didn't just disembowel that belief; he eviscerated it, burnt its corpse and threw its ashes to the winds.
At Page 116 of my 1963 Pelican edition, Professor Galbraith wrote of Bob's mindset that,
"At best public services are a necessary evil; at worst they are a malign tendency against which an alert community must exercise eternal vigilance. Even when they serve the most important ends, such services are sterile".
He goes on to quote a passage from 'The American Business Creed', by Sutton, Harris, Kaysen and Tobin -
"Government is powerless to create anything in the sense in which business produces wealth..."
Professor Galbraith, may God rest his soul now that his long and distinguished life's work is over, then wields the knife with a grace and elan one will never find in 1,000 years of reading Simon Heffer, toying with his prey like a cat with a mouse, and probably doing it with a smile; well, it made me laugh out loud -
"Such attitudes lead to some interesting contradictions. Cars have an importance greater than the roads on which they are driven. We welcome expansion of telephone services as improving the general well-being but accept curtailment of postal services as signifying necessary economy. We set great store by the increase in private wealth but regret the added outlay for the police force by which it is protected. Vacuum cleaners to ensure clean houses re praiseworthy and essential in our standard of living. Street cleaners to ensure clean streets are an unfortunate expense. Partly as a result, our houses are generally clean and our streets generally filthy".
You tell them, Professor.
John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908-2006.
RIP.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A National Scandal

Could Gordon Brown please ask Peter Hain to explain the following -
1. Why the policy of centralising (more properly described as 'delocalising') benefit centres has resulted in applications for Incapacity Benefit being unduly delayed in some parts of the country?
2. Why those applicants for Incapacity Benefit whose applications are being delayed aren't being put onto Income Support instead, even on an interim basis? It could be done, because an Incapacity Benefit applicant has to apply for Income Support as part of the Incap application.
3. Why applicants for Incapacity Benefit whose applications are being delayed, and who aren't being awarded Income Support, and who go into JobCentres for help in the form of crisis loans, are being directed to phone a helpline, instead of being able to receive help on the spot?
4. Why can't they get through to this helpline? The Scottish one apparently being based in Inverness?
5. Are these helplines' service level agreements being adhered to?
5. Is it the government's intention to still insist that so-called 'crisis loans' disbursed in these circumstances be repaid from later benefits by people who are, by the very fact they have successfully been awarded Incapacity Benefit, unable to work? 'Loans' which have only required to be made because of government's delocalisation of the benefit system?
I mean, this wouldn't be some weird bastard child of Public Choice Economics - would it? Making the applicants show they're determined to make claims? Would it?

Some Thoughts On The Act Of Settlement And The National Anthem

As a British Catholic, I am, in the same way, intensely relaxed about the Act of Settlement; and can't understand those who aren't.
Does it really matter? Not to me. Life's too short.
In the same way, as a Scot I am intensely relaxed about the fourth verse of the National Anthem; and can't understand those who aren't.
If the behaviour of the soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' has been anything to go by, its composer showed remarkable prescience.
The only reason the government can be attacking the National Anthem is as some sort of softening up to its eventual abolition and replacement with 'Ode to Joy', a joyous work hijacked by a joyless entity; a bit like Al Qa'eda adopting 'White Christmas'.
So let's hear that fourth verse! Sing out loud! Sing it long! Sing it proud! -
"Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King. "
And Amen to that!

Justice Is Done

A submission of No Case To Answer has been upheld.
It is doubtful whether any police officer or prosecutor will join the dole for this absurdity. They should, you know - they really should.
We should enjoy the spectacle of such submissions while we can.
Welcome to Scotland - where the lairds still stand aye ready, to stamp on your face.

Says It All

"The irony of the Serbian predicament is that they still imagine they are talking to the Westerners of another era, the era that had produced Nixon and Reagan, de Gaulle and Mitterand, Adenauer and Schmidt, Rebecca West and Alfred Sherman . . . and others of the generation born between, roughly, in the quarter-century before 1920, with whom such arguments could be reasonably expected to resonate.

The problem is that they are all dead, and have been replaced in the positions of political and cultural influence by the new, post-modern breed of Westerner. He is distinguished from his predecessor exactly by rejecting the value and importance of the historical, cultural, spiritual, and civilizational legacy of our common civilization...
The problem is that they are all dead, and have been replaced in the positions of political and cultural influence by the new, post-modern breed of Westerner. He is distinguished from his predecessor exactly by rejecting the value and importance of the historical, cultural, spiritual, and civilizational legacy of our common civilization.

These new ruling elites of Western Europe and North America have nurtured a number of fatal weaknesses in their own societies, including both the primary cause—which is the loss of Christian faith—and a number of secondary ones, including hostility to all forms of solidarity of the ethnically European and traditionally Christian communities based on their common ancestry and culture; the loss of a sense of place and history; rapid demographic decline, probably irreversible and unparalleled in history; rampant Third World immigration, especially from the Islamic world; imposition of “diversity,” “multiculturalism” and “sensitivity” that promotes alien cultures and lifestyles to the detriment of traditional European, Christian models; and last but by no means least, demonization and criminalization of any opposition to the above.
Even if the Serbs are robbed of Kosovo, Islam will not thank the West. There will be no synthesis, no civilizational cross-fertilization, between Europe and Islam. It’s kto-kogo. As things stand now the outcome appears almost fatally preordained. The tradition of a peasantry ruled by its “betters” has been turned on its head: in Europe most nations want to defend themselves—even the ultra-tolerant Dutch have seen the light after Theo van Gogh’s murder—but cannot do so because they are hamstrung by a ruling class composed of guilt-ridden self-haters and appeasers. Their hold on the political power, the media, and the academe is undemocratic, unnatural, obscene. If Europe is to survive they need to be unmasked for what they are: traitors to their nations and their culture. If Europe is to survive, they must be replaced by people ready and willing to subject the issues of immigration and identity to the test of democracy, unhindered by administrative or judicial fiat."
Trifkovic on Kosovo. Read it all.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Devil's Lieutenant

Those of us old enough to remember the days when Channel 4 broadcast material worth watching might remember a drama from the early 1980's entitled 'The Devil's Lieutenant'.
It told the story of how, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the days just before The Great War, an older officer (played by the late Helmut Griem) investigated a brilliant junior officer (played by the late Ian Charleson) suspected of complicity in a murder by poisoning.
The charges are denied; and the older officer struggles with the conflict between his feelings for a brother officer in trouble and the weight of evidence until, as the last man at the court-martial to give his verdict, he stands up and pronounces:"Guilty".
The younger man is assured he will be freed the minute war breaks out; but it doesn't happen.
The drama ended with the two men meeting in the street after the war; with the younger officer, who before his trial had vehemently protested his innocence, asking what was the point of all that trouble...over a few grains of poison...
The show was brought back to mind by Alan Cochrane's piece in today's 'Daily Telegraph'. Apparently, he got a phone call at the weekend from a journalist friend of Wendy Alexander's, angered by his suggestion that she should resign over an illegal donation of just £950.
Donorgate will kill The Scottish Labour Party.
Yes, folks, as hard as it may seem to believe, they're going the way of the Whigs.
And good riddance to them all.

Scotland The Land Of Brainwashed Children

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gotterdammerung

It looks like poor wee Wendy Alexander's well and truly gubbed, doesn't it? After this episode, she may be able to cling on as Leader of Scottish Labour for a while; but she'll never possess a shred of credibility ever again.
Wendy is so desperately, achingly, blindingly intelligent and brilliantly capable that there is no doubt that both she and her wee brother would have risen to the very top of the Labour Party even if their dad hadn't been a bosom pal of Donald Dewar's.
Yet in a very short period of time, both their careers have met their respective Trafalgars; Wendy's sunk, and Douglas is badly holed beneath the waterline.
There is a lesson in all this for those who believe themselves to have a destiny; the Alexander siblings seem to believe theirs is to rule other people.
The lesson is this; you might indeed have a destiny. Just not the one you think.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Wisdom Of Alex Salmond

One can't help but wonder whether Alex Salmond intended his effusion that '(an) English parliament would be a good step' to mirror Gandhi's quip on being asked his thoughts on Western civilisation, that it would be a good idea.
If so, he should also note that Gandhi thought that if the Japanese invaded India, they would soon succumb to the enlightenment of satyagraha.
O....K....

A Jurisdiction, Not A Country

They are separate jurisdictions within the same country - that country being the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In practical terms, there is as little difference between living in 'Scotland' and 'England' as there is between living in Liverpool or Truro, or between living in Aberdeen or Melrose.
Get the idea?

Why I Am Not A Member Of The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, Part I

In a jurisdiction where officers of the law have gone mad with power; where mentally defective exhibitionists roam the streets (one of these days, a Scottish court is going to order that Gough be welded into a pair of steel underpants before being put on the first plane to Bournemouth) and public life seems to have no standards, the Tartanissimo is seeking to turn the Scottish Conservatives into Shortbreadistas.
That the Scottish Tories are a dead loss is well known; but even I didn't think that their desire to wield power was so strong that they would consider getting into bed with constitutional sectarians.
Looks like it's up to me.

Why I Am Not A Member Of The Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party, Part II

Hat tip - Neil Clark, whose description of Witney Wonka as a 'neocon warmonger' does him too much credit. There's no way 'Dave' could monger a war, when he can't even monger a pulse amongst his electorate.
For a slightly fuller view of why the globalists hate Russia so much, and Putin in particular, I can recommend Joe Stiglitz's 'Globalisation and its discontents' (apparently written after the distinguished Nobel Laureate had taken a brief course in Economic History), Peter Truscott's 'Putin's Progress' (riddled with minor but still extremely irritating factual errors, but still worthwhile as a whole), and this article by Pat Buchanan (Whom God Preserve).
Read these, and it will become very clear just how much so-called 'globalisation', that gypsy in leprechaun's clothes, is a policy, not a process; and not one to which the British people have ever given their mandate, yet one to which our leaders have committed us. One of these days, I'd like one of them to tell us why.
If you do read these materials, you'll know more about globalisation than The Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.