THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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November 2010

Public is not realistic

Public is not realistic about terrorism, Scotland Yard chief says - Telegraph.

Isn't it odd that the police regularly tell us that our fear of crime is irrational but now also say we are not afraid enough of terrorism? If we are wimps, surely we would be overly afraid of both? If we are brave or reckless, you would think we would pour scorn on both.

I don't suppose it has anything to do with the fact that the police want us to feel they do a better job of fighting crime than our own perceptions suggest? Or that they want us to be more afraid of terrorism in order to get more powers and better toys?

Just asking.

This is what "equality" looks like...

In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year | zero hedge.

It's not just in Britain that the Welfare State has become a quagmire of perverse incentives. Consider this chart (click to enlarge);

Money Earned

Does anyone (perhaps someone on benefits) have the time and energy to do the equivalent calculations for the UK system?

h/t Zero Hedge

It was 20 years ago today

Margaret Thatcher: My tears for the iron lady - Telegraph.

The mess we are in began 20 years ago today. Margaret Thatcher had fired a large enough group of "wets" that - clinging together in their mediocrity - even they felt brave enough to take her on. I was at a City dinner in the Guildhall when the news came through and Francis Pym was the speaker. He had been the first she fired. I shall never forget the look of delight on his face.

It was her own fault. She was such a strong person that she could not conceive the petty malice that constituted the political thought of most around her. She had done nothing to prepare her exit from political life. She had not sought to train a successor, probably because - as a possessor of great natural talents - she could not conceive that one would not simply emerge. In the end she was deposed for refusing to set a timetable for Britain to join EMU (the project that led to the Euro). She has lived to see a single currency fail as she predicted it must.

There was a shocking misogyny to the celebrations of her enemies, as there has been to her treatment throughout her life. Feeble John Major is seen as a statesman, for all that - in abolishing the right to silence - he was a Conservative pioneer of Labour's assault on civil liberties, but she remains "that bloody woman."

No-one else will say it so let me. Thanks, Margaret. You did your best, but we didn't deserve you.

The state can do no wrong

The naked truth: TSA can touch my junk anytime | Comment is free |

Of course (except in the eyes of Guardian journalists) it can and often does. In some fields in fact, it does little else. But if it wants to do something that would be wrong for any of us, it has an option we don't; i.e. to change the law to make it right.

The Guardian, of course, sees any argument that there is a limit to state power as "unsafe right-wing ideology." No doubt the author of the linked piece would have argued that the girls raped by Beria as part of the infamous "flower game" were unsafe right wingers too. They were certainly unsafe. As they were too terrified of the Cheka to speak, I guess we shall never know if they would otherwise have indulged in

          ...teenage grudge-bearing and solipsistic whining...

For some time I have been avoiding German airports because that, in many ways laudable, nation rather lacks the physical reserve of the Anglo-Saxon world. Airport security searches in the country of "Freikörperkultur," are noticeably more invasive. Junk-touching was already no biggy. Now it seems that approach is spreading.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
It is ridiculous to tell us this is for our own safety. Throughout the post-9/11 era, the security hassle for passengers checking baggage has been steadily increasing. But freight has been loaded into the same holds without routine screening.  Why would even a crazed fanatic brave airport security if  he can simply courier his bomb?

Even if the freight hold was not potentially full of explosives, it is a bad joke to subject to searches every flyer (including the pilot who needs no suicide weapon beyond his plane), toddlers and regular (easily cleared in advance) travelers. Perhaps it is conceivable that some parent might be a vile enough fanatic to shove explosives into his toddler's body cavities and blow him to Allah (though I can't help feeling that's a greater slur on Muslims than any Danish cartoon). It's a lot more likely that simple risk profiling could ensure there was rarely, if ever, a need to frighten small children by having strangers touch them inappropriately.

Finally, has anyone considered the turnover rate in these low prestige, low pay jobs? Pretty soon everyone touching your junk will have been hired since the practice was legitimised. As the article said, the present security staff have no interest in groping genitalia. Give that a couple of years, during which only people with such in interest will have applied, and things will be different.

The View From….2007

The View From…Moscow at Conservatives Abroad : The View From….

The past is another country. Back in 2007, living in Moscow, I was persuaded to contribute the linked piece to the Conservatives Abroad website. I guess I had still not fully accepted at that point that I was no longer a Conservative. I had pretty much nailed where the country was going, however;

The only reason Britain’s levels of taxation (now higher than Germany’s) are not bringing the economy to a halt, is frothy unsustainable growth driven by rising consumer debt. British consumers owe more than all other Europeans combined. They owe more than the total sovereign debt of Africa and South America. Economic growth depends on them borrowing more. And this is now called “prudence”.

Given how clearly I perceived the problem, I was still foolish however. I did not have the foresight to sell my house, cash in my pension savings and buy gold. I simply did not anticipate the breathtaking effrontery with which democratic governments, egged on by a decisive bloc of voters facing well-deserved beggary, would be prepared to pillage the prudent to buy votes. Yet I should have done, for I had seen it happen before.

Years ago, when I was a hard-working young family man of limited means and many outgoings, my wife and I lived in the other half of a semi-detached house from a retired industrialist and his wife. They were a lovely old couple and charming neighbours. Labour's hyper-inflation of the Denis Healey/IMF bailiffs era had reduced them from comfortably living on the interest from their life savings to genteel poverty on devalued and dwindling capital. This was the same inflation that wiped out the mortgages of my parents' generation, allowing them to pay for good houses with bad money.

My neighbours' life of work had been plundered to pay off others' debts. It was trans-generational piracy. Little did I know, foolishly confident as I was in the (then) political success of the doctrine of monetarism, that I was looking at my own fate. Yet "quantitative easing" is nothing but a fancy name for such inflationary policies and the gods of the marketplace will not be fooled by euphemism.

As the virtual printing presses continue metaphorically to hum on both sides of the Atlantic (and as mounting government debts increase the temptation to pay the moneylenders back in bad coin) have I once more seen the future?

I'm 'Enery the Eighth I am

Concern over use of 'Henry Vlll' powers to overturn acts of parliament | The Law Gazette.

It's time for every liberty-minded blogger who has retired, jaded, after the fall of Labour to return to the fray. Why? Because, in the words of Joshua Rozenberg in the Law Society Gazette last week;

The coalition’s approach to legislation is neither conservative nor liberal. That much is clear from the new Quangos (Bonfire) Bill, or the Public Bodies Bill as it is more properly called in parliament

The Bonfire of the Quangos is a notion much to be applauded. What is emphatically NOT to be applauded is that the Coalition has slipped into the Bill a provision allowing ministers to amend Acts of Parliament. Sound familiar? That's just what Labour ventured in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. And it's just as wrong. Witterings from Witney (to whom a tip of the hat) quotes from a letter he received from William Hague, Oliver Heald and Richard Benyon (his then Conservative MP) about Labour's attempt to subvert Parliament's power;

I can assure you that the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill will receive a robust opposition from my colleagues and I in Parliament. We recognise this as a devious means by which Ministers will seek to avoid the sovereignty of Parliament. It is another example of the contempt with which this Government holds Parliament and our national institutions.

Now all three gentlemen are about to support the introduction of its equivalent. The notion that this government is in any way a greater friend of liberty than the old one has been exploded. Ladies and gentlemen, to arms!