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Libertarianism is “the Marxism of the Right”

By Julian Harris
July 29th, 2009 at 12:30 pm | 35 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

At least according to a post on a strange conservative website from several years ago.

My attention, since you’re wondering, was drawn to this by a friend of a friend, who I had the pleasure of having a friendly disagreement with at the pub the other week (regarding passports and the ID database – he supports both, combined).

On the article, he said:  “Personally I think that there is a lot of junk and assumptions in this article, but it does highlight a few ‘minor’ flaws in your ideological system…”

Personally, I don’t even know where to start with this, viscerally disagreeing as I do with virtually every sentence in the piece; so with “real work” impingeing on my day, I thought I’d throw it out here to create a stir.

Over to you, readers.

Stir.

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Giving away the family silver

By Tom Papworth
July 27th, 2009 at 12:38 pm | 5 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

northernrockWhen the Thatcher Government began privatising the nationalised industries, the former prime minister Harold MacMillan is erroneously alleged to have likened the policy to selling the family silver. Whether or not one believes that the commanding heights of the economy should be in public or private ownership, however, one would hope that a decision by a government to dispose of something would at least see them receiving a return on their investment.

So a recent story in The Mirror leaves me at a bit of a loss. Apparently,

Gordon Brown could turn Britain’s nationalised banks back into building societies.

The Government wants to offload the two banks it wholly owns – Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley – once the market conditions are right.

But ministers may insist any sale is conditional on them being turned into mutually-owned societies.

The plan has the backing of Labour MP John McFall, chairman of the Treasury select committee and a close Brown ally, and 29 more who are also Cooperative Party members.

They cite mutually owned societies as a “safer business model” who have been the main survivors of the credit crunch as they are owned by customers and so took fewer risks.

Now a mutual like the Nationwide could be given first refusal if and when Northern Rock goes on sale.

Forgive me if I am missing something, but are not building societies owned by investors, with their deposits and withdrawals technically being purchases and sales of shares in a company that inter alia provides a free share-dealing service in its own equity?

If this is true, I am not clear how the government can “turn Britain’s nationalised banks back into building societies” without giving them away. Shares would have to be given to all the depositors in proportion to their deposits. Nationwide could not buy Bradford & Bingley unless they effectively turned the B&B deposits/shares into Nationwide deposits/shares.

In theory, the Government could also hold an IPO in which further shares were sold, but who would buy into this IPO when all they were getting was a building society account?

This suggestion has all the marks of a daft idea cobbled together by mutualists who have not thought through what they are proposing. Either that or the Labour government is so sure that it is doomed that it is planning to rob its successor of any assets to privatise, thus exacerbating the crisis in the public finances to the point where it destroys the next government.

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NORWICH RESULT – LIB DEMS THIRD

By Julian Harris
July 24th, 2009 at 12:56 pm | 10 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Disappointing, perhaps. This fits in with the current narrative on the Tories – a decent result, but still under 40%. Minor parties continue enjoying post-expenses boom.

Numbers:

Conservatives 13,591
Labour 6,243
LDs 4,803
UKIP 4,068
Greens 3,350
Murray (Ind) 953

Percentages:

Conservatives – 39.5%
Labour – 18.2%
LDs – 14.0%
Greens – 9.7%
UKIP – 11.8%

And the swings:

Labour to Conservatives: 16.49%
LD to Conservatives: 4.25%
Labour to LDs: 12.24%

Conservative majority:

7,348




In other news – both Stevie Gerrard and Amy Winehouse have been found not guilty.

Ros Scott replies…

By Sara Scarlett
July 23rd, 2009 at 8:06 pm | 9 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

The reply to the email I sent to Ros Scott earlier in the week is as follows:

The expense claims of all Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers have been checked out by teams from the Whips offices. The Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords has given an assurance that all claims are within the Parliamentary rules for the House of Lords. Whilst you haven’t mentioned MPs, I can report that the Chief Whip in the Commons has reported that no Liberal Democrat MPs have been found to have phantom mortgages, manipulated their claims for council tax or capital gains purposes, or to have “flipped” the designation of their properties.

I am sure you will find this reassuring,

Ros Scott

Thus, the Whips have decided there is no wrongdoing by any LD Lords or MPs and they consider the matter closed.

I don’t find it reassuring as it happens especially considering other factors. And I’m inclined to agree with Agent Orange on this one (jesus lorraine, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write…).

At the risk of sounding melodramatic this whole “it was all within the rules” spiel reminds me of the Nuremberg defence: “I’m just following orders,” they would say as they slammed the train doors shut!!

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The social Darwinism of Mickey Mouse

By Mark Littlewood
July 22nd, 2009 at 10:06 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in Culture

mickey-mouse1Gone are the old egalitarian days of queueing up on a first come, first served basis. The amusement parks of the 21st century reward those who are agile of both body and mind – and preferably have fatter than average wallets.

A vacation in Orlando doesn’t come cheap and if you’re spending the bulk of your time visiting amusement parks, you want to be sure you’re wasting as little of it as possible in sweltering queues. At the two Universal Studios theme parks, this is simplicity itself. You pay for it. You can buy an Express pass which allows you to jump to the front of the line. Or – as we have done – you can pay premium rates to stay at an on-site hotel and just flash your room key to be waved passed the masses.

Things are different at the Walt Disney World resort. Here visitors can register for Fastpass tickets to avoid lengthy queues and return to their favourite attraction later, within a stipulated one hour long window.  Fastpass tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis.  For the most popular rides, you might face a two hour queue at 11am – or the option of collecting a Fastpass ticket and returning to jump the queue at around 4pm.

But here’s the rub – you can only be in possession of one Fastpass ticket per guest at any given time. So, if you choose to collect a Fastpass ticket for the hugely popular Mount Everest rollercoaster at 11am – with a 4pm return time – you will have to spend the intervening five hours in the regular lines for other rides with everyone else.

The discerning, theme park connoisseur therefore needs a pre-planned but flexible strategy. They need to use the limited tools available to them to maximise time-efficiency. The determination and physical strength to criss-cross acres upon acres of land in the unforgiving Florida heat is also a prerequisite.

So, even in the the magical corner of America that is Mickey Mouse’s cartoon kingdom, the rule of the survival of the fittest prevails. What an amazing country.

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