THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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December 2011

Joining the dots

SniperThere are two key stories in the news today and my question is this. Why does no-one see the connection between one and the other?

How can a government that continues to spend a greater and greater proportion of the money it takes from the productive by force find it surprising that they then decrease their discretionary expenditure? By the time most British families have paid income tax, council tax, housing costs, utility bills and food, they just don't have enough left to provide for a comfortable retirement.

Big government and its lavish bribery of its payroll vote is at the root of this problem. People are not saving for their own pensions because their money is being taken by force to pay for those of the state's thugs and cronies.

One thing that is not surprising is the government's response; the use of force. Force is, ultimately, all the gangster state has to offer those of us outside the gang.

With only a gun in its hand to shape its self-serving ends, all of us in the private sector look like nothing more than targets. What amazes me, with the corvée in Britain now standing at 208 days for the average worker, is that no-one is shooting back.

We are not there yet, alas

It's sad to watch America take the path to perdition trodden by Britain since 1946. Money for nothing is a myth. There is always a price to pay. Britain has certainly paid a price in moral decay, as more and more of our people take no responsibility for the welfare of themselves, their family or their nation. All this, while loudly proclaiming how much more they 'care' for others than the wicked people who actually create the wealth to feed, house and 'educate' them all.


America still has some economics professors (and others) trying to reason the Entitled Ones away from the siren voices of the statist politicians of right and left. Britain's academia, however, is at the very heart of the national swamp of entitlement. We may have no (or at least very few) teachers left to tell our young people that these ideas are both wicked and wrong, but life will do it in the end. The hard way, alas.

h/t Maggie's Farm

Nationalism is nasty stuff

BBC News - Why Irish soldiers who fought Hitler hide their medals.

I hate the petty nationalisms of my home islands. It's why, though as Welsh as the next man if I choose, I prefer to call myself English. Hating the English is not an ideology; still less an honourable basis for nationhood. The BBC of course makes no mention of those Irishmen who went further; deserting the Irish Army to join the Waffen SS - for the opportunity to kill Englishmen. Shame on them and on all men who have nothing better to be proud of than imagined prehistoric tribal differences.

A glorious example of rule by fuckwits

A glorious example of rule by fuckwits.

Like he said. 

It leads one to muse optimistically; is there coded into the software of the Universe some redeeming rule that the competence of a state varies inversely with its size? In which case, might Tim's jocular cry to "hang them all" not prove counterproductive? 

It's that rare bird, the competent state employee, we must truly fear. The more fuckwits in its ranks the better, surely?

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Gentle readers, I know I have been quiet of late. This month I purchased a new home in London and brought all my worldly goods together there for the first time in 20 years. I have sold the home in Cheshire to which 'Mrs Paine' and I had planned to retire one day. As Scotland's poet put it;

The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

This week, I also said a fond farewell to Vittoria and acquired a new motorised companion, Speranza. In the past three days, I have alternated between joy at achieving a 40 year old ambition to own a Ferrari and sadness that Mrs P will never join me in the journeys we will make. It has been strange to make all these big changes without her input and to wonder, inevitably, what she would have made of them. SperanzaWhile these changes have all been going on, I have taken steps towards returning to work. I have been appointed as an expert witness in an arbitration, which will keep me occupied for the first month of the New Year. 2011 was my family's annus horribilis. That my car has an Italian girl's name speaks to her heritage. That her name means "hope" is no coincidence.

The civil liberties issues I pontificate about here are as close to my heart as ever. I hope to write more next year, as the Misses P and I settle down into our new lives. Today however we three are flying to Dubai to spend Christmas in the sun. This was Mrs P's favourite time of year and she was brilliant at making it special for us. We couldn't hope to organise it to her standards, so we are going to let our hotel take the strain.

I wish you and your families all the very best for Christmas. May we all have an excellent New Year.

So we were right about this too?

EU-sceptics who predicted the failure of the single currency have been feeling pretty smug for a while. Now, those who have long complained that our political class was being bribed into support for the EU can also start telling their EU-mug friends "I told you so". According to today's FT:

A British MEP who leads the European parliament’s most powerful committee on economics and financial regulation is facing the threat of being ousted in a post-summit backlash against Britain.

The moves against Sharon Bowles, the Liberal Democrat who chairs the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, threaten to make her one of the first casualties of UK prime minister David Cameron’s decision to wield the UK veto ... Although no formal request to change the committee chair has yet been tabled, some MEPs are openly calling for Ms Bowles to resign and are questioning whether a British MEP has the credibility to lead a committee dealing with the eurozone – a movement gathering momentum after Britain’s defiant stand at last week’s summit ... In a sign of the mounting pressure on British representatives in Brussels, Elmar Brok, a veteran German MEP, said it was time to “marginalise Britain, so that the country comes to feel its loss of influence” ...

So far so good. Our EUSSR comrades are wielding sticks and carrots to steer our political donkeys. Need we worry at all about their chosen beast? After all, the LibDems are among the EUSSR's most committed fifth columnists, so it seems a little mis-directed. Wait though, there may be some logic in their choice:

Although Ms Bowles’ views often clash with those of the UK Treasury, her position makes her the most influential British MEP and one of the diminishing points of UK leverage over a bout of Brussels rulemaking that seeks to reshape the City of London

Aha! Fortunately, the key word here is "seek." Good luck with that, comrades. And good luck with the Tobin Tax and censoring the output of the ratings agencies too. In fact, I hope you do both as soon as possible, the better to drive your investors to the City. We actually don't need the 15% of the EU's financial transactions carried out in your inferior, less trusted markets but times are tight and we wouldn't say no if you are really that stupid.

The EU is and always was a corrupt, anti-democratic farce. All that could perfect my schadenfreude as this delicious end-game unfolds would be for a British Prime Minister to have the testicular fortitude to lead us out before it collapses or we are expelled.

Not that being expelled from a collapsing edifice is such a terrible fate.

Informed Democracy?

Nobody Important: Democrasy. Is it working?.

Our regular commenter Moggsy is a blogger herself, posting at our mutual friend JMB's site, Nobody Important. Today she considers the problems of democracy. She proposes, controversially, that the votes of different categories of voters should carry different weights. Even more controversially, she suggests that voters be licensed like motorists.

One man, one vote is such an established principle that to challenge it is almost unthinkable. Yet this model of democracy seems to tend to economic collapse. Majorities or decisive minorities of financially illiterate or irresponsible voters demand ever more from the state. Governments (or more precisely politicians who want to remain in government) are forced to tax or borrow from the prudent in order to deliver. Holding down interest rates while inflating the currency with Quantitative Easing is merely one current example of the state impoverishing the prudent to bail out the feckless. If interest rates returned to their historical average (so that the prudent earned from their capital) millions of over-borrowed voters would be bankrupt and house prices would collapse to sensible levels.

So democracy requires that economic justice be denied.

Harvard Professor of Economics, Martin Feldstein, recently wrote in the FT that a mere 3% cut in Italy's public spending would solve its financial problems. I am sure he's right but will Italy's state 'payroll vote' permit it? After all our public sector workers are out on the streets in 'righteous' indignation when our feeble government is not (contrary to their claims) making any cuts at all. Government expenditure in Britain continues to rise. The hated 'cuts' are merely a reduction in the rate of increase. It's as if the massively-indebted British nation was on its way to buy a Bugatti, but 'prudently' decided to buy a mere Ferrari instead. The National Debt continues to rise apace (see the debt clock now in my sidebar). Yet such is their sense of entitlement that our cocky 'servants' demand even more.

It has been said that;

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing.

Could a reform of our democracy prevent that collapse? My own preference would be rather to scale down the state and prevent its re-expansion by an entrenched constitution permanently limiting its scope. We could then safely continue with 'one man, one vote' as, while it's a terrible way to choose a master, it's a perfectly adequate way to choose a servant. But whether you favour my approach, Moggsy's suggested electoral handicapping or some pipe dream of your own, how can any reform ever be achieved when the state payroll vote is now decisive?

Unless a truly charismatic leader emerges to explain patiently, relentlessly and - most of all - convincingly that we can't keep spending more than we earn, our model seems doomed to collapse. Every state's credit has a limit and its cheques will eventually bounce so that its dependents starve. Yes, a small state might then be built on the impoverished ruins of the old, but at what terrible human cost?

Maybe we still need a bigger navy than Belgium?

Argentina launches naval campaign to isolate Falkland Islands - Telegraph.

The three state services libertarians all support are defence of the realm, policing and provision of an independent judiciary. That's one of the things that differentiates us from anarchists. The irony is that modern governments have focussed so hard on redistributive policies designed to buy votes from the masses by providing non-jobs in non-services with stolen money, that they have become really bad at the basics.

How long do you give it before the Falkland Islands are lost? Even if the boy David was half the man that Margaret Thatcher was; even if President Obama was half the friend that Ronald Reagan was, we simply don't have the military assets to defend them. Perhaps that's why we are deploying the sainted Diana's look-alike boy? Surely no-one is so cruel as to attack the son of the Princess of Hearts?

It's a plan, though not one Nelson would have applauded. Some fully-equipped aircraft carriers might be a more reliable one. But, while we fund a bigger civil service than we had to run half the planet, we don't have the money for that, do we?

h/t The Englishman

Don't treat us as "congenital idiots", Mr Cameron. Unless, of course, we are.

"Downing Street said yesterday that a referendum is unnecessary. It is, at the very least, an odd negotiating strategy for Mr Cameron to throw away the strongest card in his hand before the game has even started." - Telegraph leader


The press are calling on Cameron not to treat us as "congenital idiots", but what if - politically and economically - we are? Let's not get into the whole 'in or out' issue of the EU. It inflames too many passions. Let's just look at one of the mooted solutions to the problems of the Euro.

The proposed EU Tobin Tax is a threat to Britain's economic future. The burden will fall, not merely disproportionately, but mainly on the City of London as the only global financial centre in the bloc. This has been reported in the quality press, as has the threat from City folk to move their businesses elsewhere, but there's no sign that the British people care.

David Cameron's political future depends, not on getting things right, but on pleasing that clueless majority. If he had the charisma of a Margaret Thatcher or a Tony Blair he might shape their opinions but he hasn't. He can't even influence the views of his coalition partners. Nor does it help that he short-sightedly joined in the scapegoating of bankers to cover for the failures of the political class at EU and national level.

Marcus Brigstocke's idiotic recent comment on Have I Got News for You to the effect that the bankers are always threatening to leave and winning political concessions, so "...maybe the public sector workers should all threaten to leave too..." probably better represents the general population's view than anything I can say. What, after all, is the City of London to a Warrington benefits claimant who is now more 'the man on the Clapham omnibus' of British politics than you or me? Well a great deal, actually, but if he doesn't understand that, a hapless, charisma-free, David Cameron can't help but listen to his ignorant views with attention.

For those of us who believe Britain would be 'Better off Out' the Tobin Tax proposal is further proof that our European 'partners' do not have our interests at heart. Yet it does not prove that the EU is rigged against us. It isn't. It's rigged, by its original French designers, against the German people. It was designed to exploit an historical guilt that no living German should now feel.

Unlike their federal government, which is as feckless as any group of politicians spending other peoples' money to buy votes, the hard-working German citizenry is largely debt-free. They produce fine goods, deliver fine services and more than pay their own way in the world. They are peaceful global citizens and no longer go in for armed evangelism. Would that we could say as much. Yet, true to the French design of the European Project, they have seen their pensions and public services cut, while they contribute more and more to bail out their feckless, massively-indebted neighbours. They are the EU's greatest victims.

Properly viewed, the EU is just a cynical game played to rules written by Frenchmen. It is a game played brilliantly by France and the other consistent net beneficiary nations. Only Britain and Germany ever naievely treat it as a serious political project. From this point of view, David Cameron is simply a bad coach of the British national team. Whether we believe Britain should play this game or not, for as long as we are in the league, we are entitled to have him try to lead the national team to victory.

The 'congenital idiocy' of British voters is something of an obstacle, perhaps. If Cameron believes in the EU and wants to see EU-scepticism decline however, then he needs to man up and do his job. Or make way for a new manager who will.