johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
The news that a senior serving general has opined to the Sunday Times that if Jeremy Corbyn gets elected the army would mutiny does rather give the impression that we in the UK are living in a banana republic rather than a first-world democracy.

Now, given that my ancestors have fought for this country since Waterloo, I should have an opinion on this. So I have.

The thing about democracy is that we accept the will of the electorate. When our present government was elected, I didn't take to the streets and hurl petrol bombs at those I consider to be culpable in electing the present arseholes. Instead I complained in print and in person, and have tried to stop the present crew being re-elected. I did much the same during Bliar's government, though I complained rather less under Brown. But I must reiterate: I did not strike, I did not mutiny, and especially I did not break or forsake an oath to Her Majesty the Queen.

If the army, or any portion of it, should do these things after a general election, I hope the folk concerned are charged with treason. Because that is what it is. If it comes down to parliament, representing the will of the people, and the army, representing certain interests outside the democratic process, like money for example, then the army is positioning itself as the British equivalent of some South American Junta funded by CIA drug dealing. (Also, I think many of the Scots and Welsh regiments may well side with parliament...so that means civil war: the army against the people and the Celtic regiments.)

Bizarre that the Chiefs-of-Staff should let the bounder get away with saying this sort of hogswash. Early retirement, I reckon.
johnny9fingers: (Sri Yantra)
http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-defense-of-reinhart-and-rogoffs-flawed-debt-study-2013-4

From the Business Insider, a short piece by joe-weisenthal.
Where he quotes Paul Krugman

"As Paul Krugman states in one of his (several) posts on the Reinhart/Rogoff issue: "the larger story is the evident urge of Very Serious People to find excuses for inflicting pain."

This impulse, to show your seriousness by promoting pain, is the real overriding drive behind austerity, not an academic study.

For example after Obama publicly embraced a "chained CPI" (a form of Social Security cut). Economist Dean Baker told Business Insider: "You piss on the people who care about Social Security, then you're serious."



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-defense-of-reinhart-and-rogoffs-flawed-debt-study-2013-4#ixzz2QuhME9cL
johnny9fingers: (Default)
...and I shall not recapitulate for the inattentive.

To continue, yesterday, chillaxing Dave got on the case and stated something along the lines of, "Well, even though events have proven me wrong, I was right to put pro-Murdoch crony Jeremy BerkHunt in charge of the bid that Murdoch's proxies were making to buy the remaining portion of BSkyB."

Jeremy Hunt's email has been published by Leveson, wherein he shows at least as much positive bias towards Murdoch as Vince Cable showed negative.

Now what I want to know is of these two, BerkHunt and Cable, which would the ordinary informed person think of as the most likely to follow the proper process of examining the bid, and the fitness of the folk who were making it, and referring it to the proper agencies of oversight?

As we now all know (as though we hadn't before) that Murdoch's organisation has more than a few dodgy folk therein, and some of its ways are not like the ways of other law-abiding citizens; perhaps because, as article of faith, it always has to test and thereby prove the limits of legal jurisdiction, whilst remaining within the law; even when that law interferes with what Murdoch regards as the natural fulfilment of his stage of media-empire building. Laws can be changed, after all. Processes can be evaded avoided.

Given this, I should find it surprising, and an actual dereliction of political duty from all sides of the political spectrum, for a politician to give Murdoch's organisation or any cross-media organisation an easy ride. Even those sympathetic to Murdoch's modus operandi, fellow travellers of the libertarian/new right/newconservative inclination, even they should be naturally wary of the media-mogul/newspaper-baron, given the media baron's nature.

I mean to say, look at some of the modern list:

Robert Maxwell

Conrad Black

Silvio Berlusconi
Actually Silvio deserves a couple of pages to him: so I'll throw in another link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trials_and_allegations_involving_Silvio_Berlusconi

and

Rupert Murdoch

Now, in the general population one wouldn't expect to find as many criminals* per capita, and I doubt there are anything more than a hundred actual media moguls of the stature of the above named quartet in the modern era, so I should find it unsurprising if any media mogul was ever given an easy ride. Call it profiling, I suppose. We have to remember, in the era of the Nietzschean man, companies are people too.

I'm just surprised that these folk companies don't get stop-and-searched a bit more, just on sus. I mean, if there were a gang as obviously dodgy as this crew outside, waiting to be let in, we'd have our border guards give 'em an intensive body-frisk or two before we allowed 'em into civilisation. And even then, some of us would be trying to get 'em all deported.



*Not, of course, that Murdoch is a deliberate criminal - in such cases it takes a noble journalist to step up to the plate, rather than a proprietor.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
Over the past couple of years I've called for the rich to be taxed more.

I still feel this. And to a great extent this is about my opinion of social cohesion in Britain. But I also feel that those who invest in the culture and the traditions of England should be given some tax advantages which may offset tax.

For example: there are some 2500 Grade I listed houses in England and Wales which are homes to people. These houses cost a prohibitive amount to maintain, but are part of the warp and weft of English and Welsh culture: they are part of the heritage of Britain, and often, so are the families that occupy them.

When something goes wrong with a Grade I listed building you can't just call in your local handyman to fix things. If a stone falls from an arch, a master mason must replace it like for like, and then the repair must be passed by an inspector from the relevant authority. This costs money. Upgrades in heating systems must first have permission, and then approval of work done. Glazing must comply to listed building regulations and be approved. Even changing the furnishings can require a committee to accept the changes wrought. These houses are a huge drain on the resources of even the richest of individuals. Ergo, if someone buys or inherits a great house then it is quite likely that they will spend most of their time and a whole heap of money just in its upkeep.

If a company or organisation owns a listed building, it has to pass the same stringent requirements as the individuals who own listed houses.

Of course, for Grade II  listed buildings the regulations aren't quite as severe, but they are still so far removed from the ordinary experience of building owners as to make buying or investing in a listed building fraught with inconvenience and cost.

This is as it should be: these buildings are part of our heritage, and more often than not of great architectural importance and beauty.

I'm in favour of tax breaks for those folk or organisations who own these money pits. In some cases, considerable tax breaks, especially for individuals or families who may own or inherit such 'piles'. I'd rather see a family who have owned a house for umpteen generations retain ownership of a stately home, than see some faceless organisation turn the thing into a golf course or business conference centre: but also, if that's not possible I'd rather the organisation which owns it to be held to some standards of upkeep and maintenance, given that such an organisation is now caretaker of a piece of British heritage. But I think that acknowledging  the expense of the upkeep of our heritage should be reflected in our tax system.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
So this morning I wake up to this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12132341

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/07/mps-committee-bonfire-quangos-botched

And I realised that the people of this country get the government they deserve. This criticism of the Government comes from a Tory-led Commons public administration select committee. And just to go into details....

I quote from Paul Odtaa who comments on the Guardian story:

"One stupid decision was the scrapping of the small quango, Sitpro, Simplification International Trade. This organisation very quietly became the world leader in getting all countries in agreeing standards in processing the paperwork to allow international trade.

They were able to get say Russia, during the Cold War, and China, during the conflict over Hong Kong, to agree to sign treaties.

With the advent of terrorism the Sitpro expertise would help draw up procedures to recognise cargo from safe sources, eg a container loaded directly in a factory, and those cargoes that may need further scrutiny.

By absorbing the quango into the Board of Trade we would have already lost many of its staff to industry.

The decision would have seriously damaged the image of Britain within the world trade community.

The training Sitpro used to do will be lost. This will be made up by commercial organisations which will be very variable.

Whatever happens British industry will lose tens of millions of pounds as trade is slowed due to security considerations."

As an aside, I have read that Barnet Council, so beloved of the Tories, has spent £1.5M on saving £1.4M. Well, that's all right then.

Thank the gods that the British people en masse are a bunch of stupid imbeciles when it comes to voting for governments. Simple prejudices are definitely the way to exploit a sense of unease and worry, and simple solutions to complicated problems are always vote-winning, even if they don't work, are inefficient, and return us to a Dickensian society of abject poverty for the majority. Never mind, the stupid folk have only themselves to blame: the clever ones will no doubt find a way to exploit the idiots.

I was going to find me some snake-oil to sell to the British voters....but then I realised that Rupert had got there first.


johnny9fingers: (Default)
It does rather seem that Little Gideon has got something almost right:

www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/04/child-benefit-scrapped-high-earners 

Some maths still to do re one partner earning over the tax threshold, and the other not coming close. Combined incomes in two parent households might be a better starting point, but what the hell: it's a beginning.
johnny9fingers: (Default)
It has been well over two weeks since my last post and ennui still leaves me with little to say.
Cameron, Clegg, Brown....bored.

Nevertheless, the degree of hatred that Brown seems to inspire in some folk is beyond my understanding, but leaves me with the feeling that if British folk can't actually determine facts and context from the last few years they deserve what they get: it won't really bother me much, as I'm all right, thank you very much. My income is private and determined by London rental prices, and SWMBO is....in the very top percent of earners. I don't have to waste my time arguing for even limited social justice if it means spending all of my time arguing with either idiots, the delusional, or those blinded by what appears to be an unjustified hatred. It no longer amuses me, and I will admit to having little time as I'm writing again.

Anyway, back to the boring election. John_Sergeant's analysis after the first 'debate' was that Clegg had won the personality prize, and Brown had won the political debate, and poor old Cameron hadn't actually done too well. The polls done immediately after the event however don't reflect this.

I'm sure I'll be personally much better off under Dave's incoming government for the wealthy: how much guilt about this I'll feel all rather depends on the electorate. I love the idea of some impoverished right-wing folk voting to keep me and mine in a luxury which they will hardly manage to reward themselves with after a lifetime's hard labour. It's too too wonderful, my dears. Another crate of Bollinger, please garçon. And please send someone with a taper to light my cigar. Thanks.
johnny9fingers: (Default)

So in preparation for my descent into rhetoric I've been searching out my old Auberon Waugh compendia. Most of Waugh's insults are so politically incorrect that they are almost impossible to repeat in this day and age. "....resembling a typical plumber with a cleft palate who has lost his dentures down the u-bend...." etc is offensive to so many people, be they plumbers or folk with cleft palates, or merely the parents or relatives of plumbers or the craniofacially challenged. Or even those with dentures, I suppose.
Gearing up to be offensive on purpose is not my regular modus operandi: so I've taken it upon myself to refresh my memory with the works of the masters.

Rheinhold Aman is yer man, of course. Normally, only the right-of-centre descend to obloquy, even of an heightened form. Both Waugh and Aman are/were pretty right-wing, but if folk mess with my stuff....my culture....well, I'd hope for the odd bit of support from the rest of the folk who are in some way beholden to the BBC for many of their media pleasures. If they think Radio 3 or 4 (or even Radio 6) could be replaced by commercial stations, then I think them living in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.

I'm also of the opinion that if any individual wants to be able to stand for Parliament, he or she should be resident in the UK for tax purposes. We may not be governed by absentee non-taxpayers who will not have to conform with laws they draft or assist in passing.

Ashcroft (or as another example, Lord Paul on the Labour side) can give whatever monies he likes to charities, political parties, or political advertising: if he is not resident in the UK for tax purposes, then he should not be eligible for any public office, let alone any office of state. And this tax-residency should not be contingent upon office, rather the other way around: a candidate should not be considered unless he or she has a minimal qualifying period of paying tax. Perhaps five years would mean they have actually paid their way and have a proven stake in UK PLC. I might also agree to a five year residency period before any welfare qualification. The newspapers go on and on about scroungers coming over here to get welfare: I'm just as worried about tax-exiles instructing the rest of us about how much tax we should pay, and for what.

Cameron has to get his act together rather better if he wants to present himself as both rescuer of the UK from Brown's 'mismanagement', and some sort of patriot spanning the classes: Dave should have got on Ashcroft's case much earlier. As is, now he may have to get mediæval on Ashcroft's ass, as the saying is: well either that, or appear that he condones the sort of feathering of nests that Ashcroft's non-dom circumstances have allowed.

The upper classes, don't you just love the way they manage to find ways around paying the same taxes as the rest of us ordinary folk? (Though it must be said, by birth and some attitudes I suppose I am vulnerable to at least an oblique accusation of being a member of the upper classes.)
 

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