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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kill the old

... is a slogan I saw on the back of an upper deck bus seat in the 1980s. Shocking, but perhaps only just: after all, we have killed the young unborn in their millions, especially since 1967.

Now we face a demographic imbalance that will ravage the Welfare State and cripple us with taxes, as this article explains.

Or to put it visually:



Same story as in Japan, except there they still make something other than City bonuses:




Why does the Government encourage us to eat healthily? We should all do like Ken Clarke.


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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Focus groups and voter disaffection



In Stroud today, we passed a Labour Party election poster for David Drew:

"Local, Trustworthy, Hardworking."

(on the website: "local, honest and public-spirited.")

This may well be true of Mr Drew. But it also has the scent of focus groups and marketing, and sadly it reveals that they know the strong public impressions about MPs (not all, but of all main parties) that they have to address, namely:
  • Parachuted in by Head Office as a reward for being loyal party bunnies
  • Shifty, weaselly, expense-claiming, domicile-flipping double-talkers
  • Lazy b*st*rds who attend Parliament for some small proportion of the average 150 days a year it's been open since 2010, delegate much of their constituency duties to local staff and focus on writing books, acquiring directorships and planning how to cash in their influence and notoriety post-public service
There's a lot of repair work to be done.


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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Modern Regime

Hippolyte Taine
source

During the past three hundred years we have more and more lost sight of the exact and direct meaning of things. Subject to the constraints of a conservative, complex, and extended educational system we study

* the symbols of objects rather than on the objects themselves;
* instead of the ground itself, a map of it;
* instead of animals struggling for existence, nomenclatures and classifications, or, at best, stuffed specimens displayed in a museum;
* instead of persons who feel and act, statistics, codes, histories, literatures, and philosophies; in short, printed words. Even worse, abstract terms, which from century to century have become more abstract and therefore further removed from experience, more difficult to understand, less adaptable and more deceptive, especially in all that relates to human life and society.

Here, due to the growth of government, to the multiplication of services, to the entanglement of interests, the object, indefinitely enlarged and complex, now eludes our grasp. Our vague, incomplete, incorrect idea of it badly corresponds with it, or does not correspond at all. 

Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1893)

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Bluesnake Letters

source

David Cameron keeps sending letters to my wife.

On the face of it they are pretty innocent if socially gauche. Even though he is sending letters to ladies to whom he hasn’t been introduced, I’m sure Mrs Cameron doesn’t actually mind and I’m sure that says something about the times we live in.

The trouble is, it’s all me, me, me with Cameron. The letters are all about his “achievements” and plans for the future if we “elect” him to be our Prime Minister again.

Which is all very well, but he never asks about my wife’s new walking boots, the yoga classes or the weather here in Derbyshire. I’m not so sure we “elected” him the last time anyway, not in any meaningful sense.

I know the poor chap has some mitigating circumstances to deal with. Being Prime Minister must be quite time consuming especially with all those letters to write. He has his “advisers”, but trying to write up his “achievements” for the past five years and smear them out over two sides of A4 paper must be a strain. Disheartening too when he sits back to survey the end result of his labours. 

Every time the poor chap wakes up in the middle of the night trying to rack his brains for another line or two it must all seem pretty depressing even after he fortifies the inner man with a nocturnal glass of milk and a sandwich.

Still he’s done it and has seen fit to send the results of his efforts to my wife and no doubt many other innocent people listed on his database of people who might conceivably read unsolicited and uninteresting letters.

Fortunately my wife takes a relaxed view of Cameron’s epistolary politics which must be costing him a fortune in stamps. She never actually replies to the letters which I think is wise because it would only encourage him and I’m not sure that’s a good idea. We might end up on numerous other mailing lists such as Saga and Reader's Digest.

Mr Miliband hasn’t written a word and neither has Mr Clegg, although I don’t think Clegg actually cares how people vote. Perhaps he thinks it makes no difference so he decided to save the stamps. Perhaps he's right.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A gathering of imbeciles


The ease of modern communication is often seen as a good thing, socially, politically and economically. But what if there is a dark side to it?

One attraction of reading early writers in any field is often their unassuming nature. They write as they see, before the academic barnacles had a chance to encrust and obscure the original structure. In modern terms that structure may be somewhat lacking of course, but that doesn’t always matter.

One such is Gustave Le Bon. Politically incorrect and not the most profound writer, but some of what he wrote is worth a second thought. For example, he believed that a crowd wipes out the intellectual faculties of its members. Not a new idea even then and many others have expressed similar views, but take this quote as an example.

The substitution of the unconscious action of crowds for the conscious activity of individuals is one of the principal characteristics of the present age.

This very fact that crowds possess in common ordinary qualities explains why they can never accomplish acts demanding a high degree of intelligence. The decisions affecting matters of general interest come to by an assembly of men of distinction, but specialists in different walks of life, are not sensibly superior to the decisions that would be adopted by a gathering of imbeciles.
Gustave Le Bon - The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895)

This is more than cynical rhetoric. Le Bon is saying that crowds or assemblies have their own psychology which is not the sum of component individuals. It is something else, something sentimental, conservative, easily swayed by images and not intelligent in the sense that an individual is intelligent.

Okay, one could pile on the caveats and exceptions to this, but in the modern world when crowds become assemblies and when assemblies can be virtual assemblies on the web, then what if Le Bon was right? How much intellectual resource is the internet liable to suck out of our collective heads?

An implication of Le Bon’s point, whatever its limitations, is that many kinds of association constitute an intellectual loss for its members. By adopting a group belief, we don’t put our intellect on hold, we lose it wherever the belief system holds sway. Our critical faculties disappear like smoke on a windy day.

To know the art of impressing the imagination of crowds is to know at the same time the art of governing them.
Gustave Le Bon - The Crowd; study of the popular mind

The internet as the ultimate virtual assembly may damage or even destroy our collective critical faculties. The web may become a conservative, sentimental and unintelligent virtual crowd.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Monday, March 23, 2015

De-Generation Y

I am saddened when I look at the state of my country these days. Riddled with ignorance, division and intolerance - not the type we are supposed to hate if we are enlightened right-on progressives but the officially sanctioned intolerance kind of intolerance, the kind we are supposed to cheer on.

Here is a screen-shot of this evening's Telegraph front-page (online) to illustrate :



Further reading reveals that these miscreants believe that ...
“UKIP are a con. They pretend to be anti-establishment but this couldn't be further from the truth. By wrongfully shifting the blame for the economic crisis onto immigrants they have let the bankers off the hook,” Mr Glass said, justifying the group’s actions."
Eh? I don't recall anyone blaming immigrants for the financial crisis, fiscal drag, diminishing productivity and crime maybe but the financial crisis is a long shot - now wasn't it Labour that bailed-out the banks and borrowed more than we could ever repay now? Oh yes...



Turkeys against Christmas party - that explains it. They do seem to like the establishment though, like it or not - they are the establishment.

So why is my title about generation Y you ask?

Well I went out for a drink last weekend with my neighbour, a gen-Y dude with 5 children. Nice guy, University Graduate. Pile of student debt, pay crushed by immigration/out-sourcing, priced out of housing market etc, that is - totally f*cked over by the establishment. Yet when I mentioned that I would be voting UKiP he became incandescent with indignation; exclaiming his hatred for Farage - a man who has never entered Parliament nor had any impact on his life whatsoever. I doubt he'll ever speak to me again.

Now that's Turkeys voting for Christmas.

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How Britain Is Governed

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/60641/cabinet-manual.pdf


Via a link from Full Fact, here is the 2011 Cabinet Manual, the first (it seems) comprehensive overview of how we are governed.

Eurosceptics can read Chapter 9 and fulminate; those questioning the legality of surrender of sovereignty might be interested to see the comment on judicial review:

"Judicial review

"6.10   Ministers’ decisions, and the process by which they exercise (or fail to exercise) their powers, can be reviewed by the High Court, although the courts will usually hesitate to intervene in cases where they accept that, because of the subject matter (entering into treaties, the defence of the
realm, the grant of honours, etc.), the decision-maker is better qualified than the courts to make a judgment."


It also gives links (with at least one typo - letter "j" is sometimes given for "i" in this online version) to other documents, including how the Government is prepared to respond to emergencies.

The Cabinet Manual was commissioned by Gordon Brown. Maybe this is one of his best legacies.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/60641/cabinet-manual.pdf

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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.