THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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April 2009

Paid grandparenting

Grandparents may not take up full-time child care due to Budget - Telegraph.

Is it me, or is this story totally warped? "Campaigners" want parents to be able to pay taxpayer money allowed to them for child care to their parents in return for them looking after their own grandchildren? I had to read it three times. There is no direct speech in the linked text that should not make the speaker retire with a whisky and a pistol for shame at having become a craven, dependent lick spittle of the threadbare British state.

The Misses Paine tell me that there is no way they will have children. If, by chance, they change their minds I plan to be the sort of rakish granddad who drives his grandsons to the rugby in a thoroughly mad car and takes his granddaughters to plays and shows and generally spoils them rotten. I had two cool granddads (one of whom died very young) and would aim to honour their memories by doing all the stuff of which they would have approved.

And yes, there would be the routine support too. The extended family stuff that is natural to every mammal. Some of my best memories are of time spent with the Misses P as babies and toddlers. It was all too limited because a young man with no money behind him needs to get on with work. Frankly, it would be great to have young children around again, and to have the leisure to watch them grow this time.

The notion of money could never come into that. It just couldn't. It would make me sick to think the Misses P thought it necessary to raise it with me. Why does it not make the people in the article sick? Who in the name of all that's holy are these degenerates who see every human interaction in financial terms? It seems to me that most pressure groups, charities and campaigners in modern Britain are little better than pimps, looking to bring more and more of us into state dependency.

The money the "campaigners" want the grannies to be given is, after all, their own. Maybe if the wildly-out-of-control state were to be pruned back to the stem, future grannies might have the time and leisure to look after their grandchildren for love?

The wrong road

Poland 'to ban' Che Guevara image - Telegraph

Joe Of course, I understand where the Polish government is coming from. Like Germany it already bans Nazi paraphernalia. Interestingly, neither country needs to ban Mein Kampf, because the German Land of Bavaria owns the copyright and has always prevented republication. However in 2015, 70 years after the death of the book's author, the copyright will expire and new laws will be needed if it is to continue to be suppressed.

The Polish people have lived under both Nazism and Communism. They had a hard time of it under both. It is scarcely surprising that some should see it as inconsistent to ban the propaganda of one set of totalitarians, but not the other. We libertarians, of course, would ban neither. I cannot imagine why anyone would wish to sport a swastika, but I certainly would find it no more offensive than "CCCP," the hammer and sickle or Che Guevara on a T-shirt. If people want to reveal themselves as supporters of evil ideas, then that is good for public safety. It is the unseen supporters who are dangerous. Far better therefore never to set out on the treacherous path of banning.

If Adolf Hitler is too evil to feature on a T-shirt, then why not ban Che Guevara too? Or Marx, Lenin and Stalin? The problem is - as always - not where to start but where to stop. If Trotsky, then why not - for example - Mohammed? If Mein Kampf, then why not The Koran? Far better never to take that road, than to face such choices. Far better to have all ideas aired openly, the better to defend ourselves against them.

A busy chap

Saint George - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


I wish my readers a happy Saint George's Day. George is the patron saint not only of England, but also - if Wikipedia is to be believed - of Aragon, CataloniaEthiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow. As an Englishman who is a grateful guest of Russia living happily in Moscow, I therefore have much celebrate.

Have a good day all. If you are English, do try to forget for a day all those under the patronage of Saint Andrew who oppress you so sorely. That dragon too, will one day be slain.

A terrible place to grow up

Britain 'one of the worst places in Europe to grow up' - Telegraph.

No kidding. Since the "experts" quoted in the story want more of the government involvement that has been such a stunning success, it's not likely to get much better either. Britain is also one of the worst places to be an adult. Perhaps that's because the government doesn't allow citizens much practice at being adults?

"Spinning" a heart attack

Ian Tomlinson G20 protests death: police office faces manslaughter charge - Telegraph.

There are so many questions to be answered, but they are not even being asked. Who conducted the first post mortem? On what basis did he form the very convenient view that Mr Tomlinson died of a heart attack? How did he miss the evidence that he died of his injuries from the assault? Did he, in fact, miss it or did he conceal it? Was he pressured to do so by police officers, or did he decide independently to "help out" the people for whom he worked?

It seems that, depending upon the answers to those questions, there may be another crime here; conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. A conspiracy by the very people we employ to serve justice.

Mr Tomlinson's family has shown great dignity.

Paul King, Mr Tomlinson's stepson, said: "First we were told that there had been no contact with the police, then we were told that he died of a heart attack; now we know that he was violently assaulted by a police officer and died from internal bleeding. As time goes on we hope that the full truth about how Ian died will be made known".

I am sure, sir, that all of us not fed by our "caring" Labour government's corrupt state machine hope that. Sadly, it will depend upon the quality of British journalism - as to which there is no more cause for hope than for the integrity of the leaders of Britain's police.

How far has the corrupt effect of New Labour's culture of "spin" spread? How will a successor government ever clean the Augean Stables of Britain's public service? Sadly, I hardly see David Cameron in the role of Hercules.

The Telegraph as a propaganda organ

Middle-class drinkers to be targeted - Telegraph.

This week, some journalists have come clean about the cozy relationship with the government under which they betrayed their "Fourth Estate" duties in return for "access" to ministers (and not being bullied by Campbell, McBride and Whelan). Alice Miles wrote, honourably if belatedly, in the Times;

The media are all chorusing now: we knew, we called him McNasty and McPoison, we had nothing to do with him, he sent us foul messages, we didn’t like him. But the point is, we did know. We may not have known the detail of the nasty smears about senior Conservatives that Mr McBride was dreaming up, but we knew about the smears against his own side. We knew what he was up to, and we knew that he was being paid more than £100,000 a year of public money to do it – and we did nothing to stop it.

If I had decided to become a journalist, I would have aspired to be Woodward or Bernstein. I see no pleasure in doing a job to less than the best of one's ability. Not only is a jellyfish journalist no use to his readers, there can no be little or no fun in being such a creature.

Yet for all that, journalism has been discredited in Britain as much as politics in the past decade. The damage was done by an insider, Alistair Campbell, who had the precise measure of his professional colleagues. It seems he knew precisely how weak, vain and ridiculous they were. And he taught his "spin doctor" colleagues and political "clients" that they could take bullying and deceiving the media further than they had ever previously imagined. No doubt he also taught them how lazy journalists would get through their day by cutting and pasting from well-crafted press releases. He knew all about cutting and pasting.

Some journalists and commentators now seem to realise they have been "had". Even Polly Toynbee, the shrillest of government shills, has fallen eerily silent. If he has succeeded in shaming our journalists into doing their duty, Guido Fawkes should go down in our history as perhaps England's greatest Irish hero since the Iron Duke. For the failure of journalists to do their duty has been just as damaging to our political culture in the last 10 years - and to faith in democracy itself - as the shameless spinning and smearing of the politicians and their thugs.

Yet, just as faint optimism dawns in my battered heart, here is the Telegraph in a minor but indicative example, lazily taking government propaganda and republishing it uncritically. Here is the government portraying itself as "caring" about the health and welfare of the middle classes by re-announcing an old initiative in classic New Labour manner. And here is a journalist falling for it, without perceptible application of critical thought.

Are there no battered old journos to take young colleagues who have never known better to one side? Are there none to explain to them the idea of finding an expert with a different view to present two sides to an argument? Or of asking questions of the ministers and their stooges?

We have a long road ahead if we are to fix our broken society. In such small things, every single day, each of us can make a contribution. Journalists, not least.

The Squirrel and The Grasshopper

The Quarterback from Bucharest sent me the following reworking of an old fable doing the rounds on the internet in North America. Thank you, sir. 

Version One

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building and improving his house and laying up supplies for the winter. 

The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. 

Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.


Version Two
(in the US, present day)

The squirrel works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. 

The grasshopper thinks he's a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the squirrel is warm and well fed. 

A social worker finds the shivering grasshopper, calls a press conference and demands to know why the squirrel should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others less fortunate, like the grasshopper, are cold and starving. 

The ABC, NBC, CNN, and all other lefty networks show up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper; with cuts to a video of the squirrel in his comfortable warm home with a table laden with food. 

The press informs people that they should be ashamed that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty. 

Nancy Pelosi, Greenpeace, Animal Rights and The Grasshopper Housing Commission demonstrate in front of the squirrel's house. 

The ABC, NBC, CNN, and all other lefty networks, interrupting a cultural festival special from St Kilda with breaking news, broadcasts a multi cultural choir singing 'We Shall Overcome'. 

Larry King rants in an interview with Obama that the squirrel got rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the squirrel to make him pay his 'fair share' and increases the charge for squirrels to enter Washington city centre. 

In response to pressure from the media, the Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The squirrel's taxes are reassessed. He is taken to court and fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as builders for the work he was doing on his home, and an additional fine for contempt when he told the court the grasshopper did not want to work. 

The grasshopper is provided with a Housing Commission house, financial aid to furnish it and an account with a local taxi firm to ensure he can be socially mobile. The squirrel's food is seized and re-distributed to the more needy members of society - in this case the grasshopper. 

Without enough money to buy more food, to pay the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, the squirrel has to downsize and start building a new home. 

The local authority takes over his old home and utilises it as a temporary home for asylum seeking cats who had hijacked a plane to get to US as they had to share their country of origin with mice. 

On arrival they tried to blow up the airport because of US' apparent love of dogs. 

The cats had been arrested for the international offence of hijacking and attempted bombing but were immediately released because the police fed them pilchards instead of salmon whilst in custody.
Initial moves to make them return them to their own country were abandoned because it was feared they would face death by the mice. 

The cats devise and start a scam to obtain money from people's credit cards. 

A 60 Minutes special shows the grasshopper finishing up the last of the squirrel's food, though spring is still months away, while the Housing Commission house he is in, crumbles around him because he hasn't bothered to maintain it. He is shown to be taking drugs. 

Inadequate government funding is blamed for the grasshopper's drug 'Illness'. 

The cats seek recompense in the courts for their treatment since arrival in US. 

The grasshopper gets arrested for stabbing an old dog during a burglary to get money for his drugs habit. He is imprisoned but released immediately because he has been in custody for a few weeks. He is placed in the care of the probation service to monitor and supervise him. 

Within a few weeks he has killed a guinea pig in a botched robbery. 

A commission of enquiry, that will eventually cost $10 million and state the obvious, is set up.
Additional money is put into funding a drug rehabilitation scheme for grasshoppers. 

Legal aid for lawyers representing asylum seekers is increased. 

The asylum seeking cats are praised by the government for enriching US's multicultural diversity and dogs are criticised by the government for failing to befriend the cats. 

The grasshopper dies of a drug overdose. 

The usual sections of the press blame it on the obvious failure of government to address the root causes of despair arising from social inequity and his traumatic experience of prison. 

They call for the resignation of a minister.

The cats are paid $1 million each because their rights were infringed when the government failed to inform them there were mice in the US . 

The squirrel, the dogs and the victims of the hijacking, the bombing, the burglaries and robberies have to pay an additional percentage on their credit cards to cover losses, their taxes are increased to pay for law and order, and they are told that they will have to work beyond 65 because of a shortfall in government funds.


It's not us. It's you

The Melting Pot Project: Worst. Reporter. Ever.

In a proper democracy, the people will be heard. Perhaps the worst political mistake Britain ever made was to break the connection between people and their taxes by inventing "Pay as you Earn." This is a system under which employers become unpaid tax collectors and employees never see the money they work for, to give to government. In America, you fill out your forms and you file them - everyone on the same day. Then you get a bill and pay it. Just like any other bill you pay, that makes you think about what value you got for your money.

It's the same deal in Russia, by the way. My form is being readied for signature right now, and I shall soon have to make a bank transfer to the Russian government for 2008's taxes. Although I am a (heavily) paying guest, I am a guest, so I will not comment on the Russian government's performance, save to say they give me better value for money than Gordon Brown.

The liberal media in the States have been rubbishing the American people as they took to the streets in their thousands to protest the way in which two Presidents, in just 6 months, have indebted America's grandchildren yet unborn to bail out big business. Just watch the clip in the linked post of a CNN "reporter" sneering at an interviewee. it makes the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation seem subtle by comparison.

But then watch this clip of Glenn Beck, doing what I love best about Americans; telling it like it is.

Who will speak for Brown-indebted unborn Britons, as Mr Beck spoke - plainly, yet eloquently in the tradition if not the style of Thomas Paine - for their American cousins-to-be?

[This, by the way, was my 1,000th post since The Last Ditch moved to Typepad in September of 2006. Those posts were preceded by more than 500 others at the original Blogspot site, which ran for 18 months and still stands as an archive. My thanks, at this small personal milestone, to the small band of readers who have read and, particularly, those who have commented on all those spilled pixels. Thank you for the free therapy. Oh, and Mrs P. thanks you for being an alternative audience for my ranting!]