Venal Penality

November 27, 2010

Glad to see that Biffo and his mates have finally capitulated and realised that to better survive a spell in the financial penitentiary requires a delicate receptivity to the probing tumescence of one’s burly financial overlord cellmates. But Fianna Fail may not have realised that putting out for Bubba would be quite as circumferentially painful as a possible interest rate as large as 6.7 per cent. Lubeless love courtesy of the IMF.

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Another hijacking by the global markets

May 11, 2010

Whew! The markets posted their biggest one-day gains in a year thanks to a trillion-dollar bailout by the EU and IMF. Having induced a global recession and fleeced taxpayers, the hostage takers are back with more ransom demands. But surely paying EUR750 billion to rescue Greece is worth staving off the panic for a while until another EU country realises its bankruptcy. Then the markets can take financial stability hostage again and we can have another ‘please, don’t hurt her, we have the money’ moment, while we toss the bulging briefcase to a sweaty and clearly volatile suited man with a gun. And there I went thinking that you were never meant to give a ransom to a hijacker.


Yet another climate sceptic lie

February 15, 2010

Since Saturday the Phil Jones’ Q&A on the BBC news website has been studiously analysed by the mental bloggers and inept hacks, with predictable results.

The Express trumphally heralds a great retreat:

No it’s not.

.

The Daily Mail describes a U-turn with this headline:

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

No he didn’t.

They also had a Mail on Sunday Commentary with this heading:

The professor’s amazing climate change retreat

No it’s not.

.

This is the original Q&A exchange:

B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

And this is what the climate change sceptic/mendacious newspaper sees:

B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

Yes, hje pldw klsl. O lwps clsoapedw bws aqlds ops hew skowie 1854 yu 2900. Hisd zmlxo (x.xx lew cnise) pa lowsipre, ncv mls qpvndkrie as pld xx% ampowus&sa wopol. Mne ghe£nmw powsl ml clpsaw nc re lkplodesi&w lposw. Cpxoews dioewjnf almpsideeve os clpoesfd nmnwa os micdj poer lmoes dsa lmode werop, nds ct£q wpls nvb lpoaud nmcds.


This is a very big lie. Professor Jones clearly describes a warming trend but calls it statistically insignificant because it doesn’t meet the rigorous criteria of scientific methodology. It’s depressing that the media aren’t similarly scrupulous.

And just this evening, FOX News described the no-warming trend and wheeled on a baulking head from the Cato institute for support; Cato is a pro-free-market spawning ground for fabulously tendentious ideas on how to erode government and fill the void with capitalist alternatives, it is not a scientific body but has been called upon by FOX to vomit its sceptical bile onto the climate ‘debate’.

This really is the reengineering of reality.


Glenn Beck finds no hypocrisy in warning about the dangers of authoritarianism

January 24, 2010

Glenn Beck’s ‘The Revolutionary Holocaust: Live Free or Die‘ aired on Friday on the FOX News channel. I’m not sure whether it’s a WTF or a LOL. But it is a slickly produced documentary full of talking heads and archive footage narrated by Beck in that inimitable rhetorical style which has become his hallmark.

Most agree, including the loony left, that socialism, communism and nazism were bad ideas. Some still assert that it was the people who misappropriated the ideologies, not the ideologies themselves, that caused death and suffering on such imponderable scales. Whatever the view held, it’s difficult to find anyone who looks back with a wistful eye on the golden age of totalitarianism that blighted so many people in the twentieth century. Communism has been in a terminal decline for some decades now. The two greatest Communist states, Russia and China, have been modernizing slowly and clumsily but nevertheless inexorably. But despite this the McCarthyist paranoia of the cold war is emerging again.

So why now, Mr Beck? Why does the FOX News viewership need reminding that “allowing this to happen one more time would be unforgivable”?

It’s the progressives, stupid. According to Beck, “Progressives realized victory required changing history. To defeat them, we have to correct that.” Beck’s greatest enemies, and apparently America’s, are the progressives in Washington with their socialist/communist agenda. The healthcare reform proposed by the current government has engendered an unprecedented panic in the conservatives. The conservative punditocracy is happy to contend that any form of egalitarian healthcare is the first waypoint on the road to totalitarianism. FOX and the angry blogs have spent the year happily promulgating this fallacy, thereby intensifying the panic, because that’s what they do best, and populism pays.

To really see the picture clearly, one must temporarily dispense with the political science, taking a beaviourist view instead. The study of authoritarianism became prevalent after WWII when, for obvious reasons, academics strived to explain why a population could unquestioningly support a brutal regime [A free online book by professor of psychology Bob Altemeyer called The Authoritarians is available here]. Fast forward to 2010. Not a brutal regime, but a conservative movement which has begun to drift towards authoritarianism. It’s all there: submission to traditional authorities, aggression in the name of these authorities, and conventionalism–that everyone should submit to the norms that these authorities support.

Glenn Beck’s relentless sermonizing is profoundly hypocritical and that’s another aspect of authoritarianism. He doesn’t comprehend this at all. Rather, he inculcates the fallacy in his viewership that it’s the President himself who is the authoritarian that intends to destroy freedom.

During the programme Beck ponders:

We live in a time that seems to move faster than time — a place that seems to have no place for the truth, a reality that seems to have no connection to reality. So to get our feet on solid ground in the future, we must first walk through the past with our eyes wide open

A reality that seems to have no connection to reality. Indeed.


Gross Domestic Products #3: Caffeine Eye Roll-on

January 12, 2010

Another extravagantly stupid product

Courtesy of Garnier, an eye roll-on laced with caffeine. It ‘hydrates and refreshes’, apparently.

You realise, don’t you, that someone had to pitch this idea. Someone had to go into a meeting room, perspiring and nervous, and pitch this madness to a superior. “It’s like a deodorant except it’s not; you stick it in your eye–I mean around your eye–and it’s refreshing. And the best thing is the caffeine in it, which is fuck all good for skin, but great for sales if the muppets get addicted…”

The fathomless gullibility of consumers.


The Telegraph’s blatant humping of the bankers’ leg

December 8, 2009

Labour have been recently accused of exhuming class politics in order to win votes so it’s hardly surprising that they are intent on increasing higher tax rates. How strange, we thought they were in politics to lose elections. The Telegraph is on hand to administer a good leathering.

They claim that Alistair Darling will be signing a ‘electoral suicide note’ by taxing the rich instead of heeding the advice of The Centre For Policy Studies and reducing taxation and public spending. The Centre for Policy Studies which, in researching economics, has yet to come up with a single original idea. Lower taxes, cut spending. That’s avant-garde economics for you. The Telegraph exclaims:

We do not trust this Government to regulate bonuses without damaging the dynamism of the City of London. Moreover, a windfall tax can easily become a smokescreen for a broader raid on the salaries of Britain’s wealth creators.

The City of London has been very dynamic in recent years. Oh yes. It’s been dynamically imprudent with the finances of the private sector to the consequence of the worst recession in a generation. We’ll have another few helpings of that dynamism, please Mr Banker.

And then the egregious human rights violation of taxing ‘Britain’s wealth creators’. Oh, a raid on the salaries of Britain’s wealth creators, how terrible. You mean if the yacht has to go, Mr benevolent banker will not be able to face another day playing pension roulette for a pittance? Mr Darling, how could you! But the Telegraph doesn’t stop there. The Telegraph has divined and knows what will happen if the rich are unfairly taxed. Darling’s plans would:

wreck the finances of those aspiring professionals and young entrepreneurs who are essential to Britain’s recovery from recession, driving many more abroad

Did you see it? That’s the locus of the argument right there. We’ve seen it before, this sophism. Many more abroad. How we can dream of a utopian future when many more will be abroad. This sounds like a threat and it’s meant to be. We are supposed to quiver at the thought of our exiled wealth creators. The rest of us coolies left behind, utterly devoid of talent, in a languishing economy because our munificent wealth creators have fled, no longer capable of enduring the privations of their dented salaries.

And where might they fly? I hear that the Jovian moons are very attractive tax havens. Back on Earth, though, we are in an economic quagmire. If these skittish wealth creators, on whom we all seem to depend on so much, flee abroad they might find that they were better off in London. This is nothing more than a form of blackmail and it’s been used many times before. The public is duped into believing that exorbitant salaries are justified when they clearly are not. But the economic elite don’t stop there. They think they can foist their guilt trips on the taxpayer in the wake of a staggering economic fuck-up that many of these wealth creators were directly or indirectly responsible for. It’s time to stop bullshitting a dupable public.


Lords and vassals, revisited

April 24, 2009

Forget about the budget. You may never find out whether it’s good or bad. By the time the government has finished defending it and the opposition attacking it, by the time the hacks and columnists and boorish bloggers have finished fighting over it, you will be none the wiser as to whether it’s good or bad. So relax and enjoy unemployment.

What is worrying about the mental health of the nation is the reaction to the increase in taxation affecting the top two percent or so of earners. The logic goes like this: If you tax the rich they’ll leave for Ireland or Switzerland where taxes are lower and we’ll have a so-called brain-drain and then there’ll be no entrepreneurs to create wealth. The times reports:

Alex Henderson, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said today’s tax hike could see the City’s high-earners flee to lower tax locations such as Ireland and Switzerland.

Would this include the reckless self-serving wankers who are partly culpable of plunging Britain into recession? We’ll see them off at the airport, thanks.

This attitude is revealing. First, it assumes that the low-income serfs are all thick and unskilled and incapable of dressing themselves without the help of a fabulous economic elite who so gallantly make themselves stupidly rich in order to create employment. It is a fatuous and patronising assertion. Legions of ambitious and ‘talented’ people in Britain would pee themselves at the idea of replacing the sulking £150K+ earners who might find the tax system a bit too unfair. Which raises the next question.

Why on earth would anyone lament the migration of  a herd of disgruntled and very well paid workers? It could be argued that Britain would be better off if we had fewer of them. The Mail was likening it to the brain-drain of the seventies when the top rate was 83%. Now it’ll be 50%–a bit different to be fair.

Capitalism, as it has been practiced in recent decades, is inherently flawed. Its idolators must accept that it needs some degree of reform. Taxing the wealthiest isn’t much to ask when a lot of low and middle income earners continue to lose their jobs, and we should not allow ourselves to be emotionally blackmailed by representatives of the business community into believing that we cannot survive without a flighty cabal of ‘high-earners’.