THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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April 2013

March 2013

Speranza is on her way

SperanzaHere is Speranza today with Adam, who booked her in at Joe Macari's workshops in London. She is being fettled for shipment to the USA and fitted with a new set of tyres (tires, if you prefer).

The shippers will collect her directly from Adam, so this is the last I will see of her until I collect her in New Jersey on April 29.

Speranza is on her way. I shall join her in the States one month from today.

I am looking forward to the trip of a lifetime - and to getting to know the real America.

I started logging the trip today. You can follow it as it progresses here: 

Click here to TrackMyTour!

US Tour 2013 - It's a "go"

The last piece of preparation just fell into place. With the shippers pressing me, I have just received an offer of motor insurance for the good old US of A. I was beginning to doubt it could be done, but it has - with moments to spare.

Once my service team have done their stuff on Monday (new tyres, a premature service to give me the full 12,500 mile interval and headlights redirected for driving on the wrong side of the road) the shippers will collect her. I will next see her in New Jersey on 29th April, when the great adventure begins.

The end approaches?

It has been a terrible week politically. I have nothing to add on the subject of the press "regulation" omnishambles. My views have been well-represented around the blogosphere and even - for once - in the mainstream media. I have already offered my views on the EU/Cyprus bank deposits grab.

Our lords and masters have revenged themselves on the few independent journalists who don't always fully promote the statist consensus. Oligarch-financed celebs have exploited the idolatory of the moronic masses to destroy another key freedom for their own selfish ends. Innocents have had their bank accounts frozen in Cyprus while the national and supranational political classes debate precisely how much to steal from them. There's some novelty in all this, but the trend is no surprise. 

What is surprising for me is the total public indifference. Cypriots still seem to have some fight in them and I wish them well, but the British public frankly deserves servitude because it does not value freedom. I am now bitterly convinced that nothing but the crushing misery of totalitarianism will wake them. Provided that their freedoms continue to be removed slowly, slice by salami slice, they will probably claim even then that the state is their friend. 

Schadenfreude is not my bag, but I would find it hard not to smile at the thought of them in some future gulag, were I not likely to be sharing their cell. They are a sad shaming remnant of a once great nation.

When I started this blog from Russia, I was angry with British politicians and felt sorry for the British people, thinking them ill-served. Now that I live amongst them again, my views have reversed. The British masses are a shiftless, ignorant, nastily-envious bunch who believe above all in the arboricultural nature of money, the desirability of the free lunch and the infallibility of the state. I now feel sorry for those few politicians who would like to do right, but are restrained by their electorate's vile inclinations.

I will need to review the future of this blog in the light of the new regulatory regime when it has been finalised. It has been interesting and I thank you for your contributions, but it may now be time to accept that our regular commenter Mark, indefatigable state toady and political submissive, has won the argument. Eight years of hoping against hope as our freedoms are worn away has been a huge effort. This is a democracy, after all. If most of our fellow-citizens get a frisson from the firm smack of strong government, they had better get on their bondage gear and have at it.

Perhaps the French have always been right about le vice anglais?

Tell me again how governments differ from gangsters?

The Cyprus bail-out: Unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating | The Economist.

When I compare government to organised crime, people seem to think I am being extreme. But the parallels are exact. They extort protection money (tax) some of which is deployed to punishing lesser criminals, but never very effectively or consistently. Far more is spent on payments to the members of the gang and its "soldiers". They have heavies to enforce their rule. They pretend to be there to preserve order and protect us, but in fact they are parasites upon us. They accept no boundaries to their right to interfere in our lives and do not hesitate to use force to do so. Every so often, they take over our businesses to use them for their own nefarious purposes.

A friend of mine has had money seized from his (perfectly legitimate) Cyprus bank account this morning. It represented some of his (earned and taxed) life savings. Yes, some of the victims of this "one off" tax will be Russian oligarchs and other undesirables, but many will be like my friend and many more will simply be people who chose to retire to Cyprus. For that matter, if oligarch money has been stolen from the Russian people or state, how does that give EU governments the right to steal it in turn?

My friend has instructed his investment advisor to get all of his assets out of "this ****ing continent." He reasons that if the EU can force Cyprus to steal from depositors, they can force other member states and perhaps even countries under EU influence like Monaco and Switzerland to do so. Indeed, if this raid on innocents is tolerated, other governments will probably want to emulate it. Another ethical boundary has been crossed. I wonder how many other investors instructed their advisors to get them out of Europe this morning? 

When I heard his news, I checked my RSS feed of bloggers and other thinkers. Everyone was writing about something else. A "respectable" Western government was behaving like wicked King John in seizing citizens' wealth. No-one thought it important.

Those who are prudent and have savings are despised in Europe. Even "Conservatives" seem to think they are just there to be milked of the proceeds of their life's work in order to cover political arses, prop up failed institutions and protect feckless, reckless individuals from the consequences of their own stupidity. The average European's idea of where wealth comes from is about as accurate as believing that storks deliver babies.

Don't think this is confined to a few high net worth individuals with offshore bank accounts. They said income tax was for the very rich, but now you all pay it. They said inheritance tax would only affect the wealthiest aristocratic estates, but now your children will probably pay it when you die. In demanding ever greater benefits from government at the expense of everyone but themselves, the West's voters have unleashed a beast that will devour them too.

Three questions about a dancing ray


I am taking a rest from my usual civil liberties / current affairs concerns to ponder the following questions provoked (after the consumption of much good French drink) by this remarkable film.

  1. What would Sigmund Freud make of it?
  2. For what evolutionary purpose did such a weird, apparently empty, creature arise (the Manta Ray, not the photographer who conceived the project)?
  3. Did this lady become an underwater dancer because all the tobogganist positions were filled?

Please don't answer the first question as I suspect I can't handle the truth. However, I am interested in any other thoughts you might have on the subject.

h/t PetaPixel

En route

Blogging will be light to non-existent as I am off to France for a week. I drive from London to Dijon today and then on to the Cote d'Azur tomorrow. I am attending the MIPIM property event in Cannes (as I have every year since 1991). It will not all be business though. I am looking forward to catching up with lots of friends - many of whom are former clients and colleagues. 

Of course there is also the pleasure of about twenty-four hours in the company of Speranza to look forward to on the autoroutes there and back. I do love to be on the road!

Compare and contrast

Sir David Nicholson admits failings over Mid Staffs but refuses to resign - Telegraph.
Sir David Nicholson, were our society organised as the defunct British Communist Party to which he once belonged might desire, would now be put up against a wall and shot. In our wet British version of Soviet Healthcare, however, he avoids all responsibility for the NHS's lethal failures. After all, there are plenty more patients where those came from.

Compare and contrast with one Andrew Mason, who wrote to his staff before leaving;
After four-and-a-half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding, I was fired today ... As CEO I'm accountable.
I rather suspect that Mason has put more efficient and vigorous effort into the success of Groupon than Nicholson has to that of the NHS. Yet he was held accountable by his board on behalf of his shareholders and accepted it with grace. Good for him. He failed this time, but with an attitude like that, I am sure he will yet do great things. I would hire him, if I owned a suitable company. I wouldn't employ Nicholson to clean my boots.

So is the success or failure of a company that organises online discounts more important than that of a whole nation's healthcare system? Should the bosses of an internet start-up be stricter with their CEO than Parliament is with the head of the NHS? What other conclusion, exactly, could a man from Mars infer from these two items of news?

Incidentally, Nicholson claimed expenses of over £50,000 a year on top of a basic salary of £200,000 and benefits in kind of £37,600 at a time when he was in charge of health service "cuts". His current wife, twenty years his junior and a former graduate intern in his office, is the £155,000 a year chief executive of Birmingham Children's Hospital. He wrote references for her during her meteoric rise through the NHS management ranks. Ain't life grand in the public service?

The NHS may not have adopted the iron discipline of the Soviet system, but it seems to have all the other elements. Generally, I prefer gentler market systems of accountability, but for aparatchiks like Nicholson, I could make an exception.

The people who should be our puppets use their puppets to make puppets of us

Euro Puppets: The European Commission’s remaking of civil society | Institute of Economic Affairs.

Tell a statist that the government spends too much of GDP; that the state should be scaled down and taxes reduced and the response is highly predictable. He will start talking about doctors and nurses, teachers and policemen. Within minutes, unless we are battle-hardened by many years of political debate, he will have established an apparent moral ascendency. Onlookers will wonder how we could be so cruel.

But that's not just, or even mainly, how tax money gets spent. For example, I was horrified to learn from Chris Snowden's linked report for the Institute of Economic Affairs that an estimated €1 billion of the EU's budget is handed over to "sock puppet" charities, NGOs and other fake "civil society" actors in order to promote the political objectives of the EU Commission.

Most of these "civil society" organisations would not exist at all if it were not for EU funding. So far from being genuine expressions of voluntary, non-governmental and non-corporate opinion, they are mere political creatures. It is astro-turfing on a massive scale. The table below (from Chris's report) takes the list of the EU Civil Society Contact Group's members from its own site and shows both the income each receives from the European taxpayer and the percentage of its funding that represents. 

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 08.50.43
Nota bene that much of the remaining funding for supposedly independent "civil society" groups is received from taxpayers at the national level! For example
Women in Europe for a Common Future received an EC grant of €1,219,213 in 2011, with a further €135,247 coming from national governments. This statutory funding made up 93 per cent of its total income while private donations contributed €2,441 (0.2 per cent) and member contributions just €825 (0.06 per cent). 
In what universe can even the most dewy-eyed believer in the essential goodness of the state justify such a monstrous lie? If an organisation raises just 0.06% of its funding from its membership dues, it is not independent. If it gets 93% of its money from the state, it is the state's creature. This is taking money by force from the masses to tell them what to think - most notably about money being taken from them by force!

This is not about being pro- or anti-EU. It is not even on this occasion about being pro- or anti-state. Democracy is supposed to be about the people agreeing what they want done by state bodies and appointing public servants to get on with it. The servants are not supposed to steal their masters' money in order to promote their own objectives. That they do so is corruption, pure and simple.

Come on, statist readers. Justify this gangsterism if you can. And spare us the "doctors and nurses" bullshit for once.