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"Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice" - Adam Smith

Down the sewers

Written by Steve Bettison | Sunday 06 December 2009

Crammed into carriages on a daily basis, forced to share personal space with strangers and made to endure a service that is regularly poor. It's no wonder the public behaves as the latest London Assembly Transport Committee report, "Too Close for Comfort" shows. Each of us reacts differently to our journeys on the Tube, but undoubtedly all of us find it stressful. Coupled with an almost sensory deprivation lack of information, frustrations only rise.

There is nothing more annoying than arriving at a Tube station during rush hour to see that there is a 5 or 6 minute gap between trains. This means that it could be anything up to 15 minutes before you can board a train (as regularly occurs on the District Line) due to overcrowding. In this era we, as customers, should not be forced to accept such a poor service. The system is creaking under the sheer weight of numbers, the lack of proper investment and it is also held over a barrel by the unions. All of which compounds the stresses that we, the users, have to suffer.

Traveling by Tube won't improve any time in the near future (or indeed the long-term) until the customers are treated with some respect by TFL. The lack of respect we show each other is only amplified by the contempt we are shown regularly when we use the Underground. Still at least it's slightly better below ground than it is above. Life on buses is more akin to the state of nature described by Locke, as evidenced here.

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Generations of benefits

Written by Steve Bettison | Sunday 29 November 2009

In the Centre for Market and Public Organisation's Research in Public Policy Winter 2009 edition there is an article concerning research that was conducted which examined the link between fathers and sons and worklessness. Lindsey Macmillan analysed the rates from two data sets, one from 1958 and the other from 1970 (the former being the National Child Development Study and the latter was the British Cohort Study) and found the probability of a son being out of work for a year or more between leaving full time education and the age of 30.

For the first data set the probability of the son being unemployed for a year or more was 20% if their father had been out of work during the latter part of their sons childhood years. For the second set the rate increased to 25%. The results compare to a probability of only 14% for sons whose father was in work for the duration of their childhood. This increase could be used as an indicator as to who may need the most assistance in the future. Ms Macmillan also looked at data from the recession of the 1980s, and hard hit industries and found that unless the period of joblessness was long then the effect on the child was lessened.

The conclusion is that there is a 'correlation between workless experiences between fathers and sons in the UK.' How then do policy makers break this bond? Perhaps one way would be to make benefits generational within a family: if your parents were in receipt of benefits then you can't claim, you must work and you must purchase employment insurance while also paying back your parents debt via national insurance. Or benefits could actually be made to last only for a limited period. Our current system of benefits does little more than addict people to the political teat which of course is what politicians want: a supplicant mass that votes solely based on who awards them the most benefits. This bond is one that needs to be broken.

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The Canutes

Written by Steve Bettison | Thursday 26 November 2009

Following the 'hack' of the Climate Research Unit, at UEA last week David Aaranovitch and George Monbiot have written quite different pieces that attempt to answer the questions it raises. The former continues in the vein of a fervent climate change supporter by sweeping the questions under the rug, the latter is contrite yet still needs more evidence to prove that perhaps the climate change science is partly flawed. (For an excellent round up of discovered flaws see Bishop Hill, more here). The accusations of foul play will continue to pour onto the net over the coming weeks, but they won't have any effect.

The self-proclaimed gods of climate change abatement meet in Copenhagen next month in an attempt to thrash out a Kyoto II type deal. To the assembled there is no questioning of the science: the climate is indeed warming. We have seen rulers like this before attempting to stop the tide from coming in: we know they get their feet wet. Within climate science currently there are many different arguments over what may cause the earth to warm: solar cycles, carbon dioxide emissions, clouds, the affect of the oceans trapped heat, even volcanoes. All contribute to the global climate, some more so than others e.g. water vapour. Yet politicians are solely concerned with one thing: CO2.

Consider the effect that sulphur dioxide has when it reaches the stratosphere following a massive volcanic eruption. It is well documented that afterwards the climate is changed both globally and locally. In the short term. Surely if politicians want to have an effect be it long or short term then putting sulphur dioxide in the stratosphere is a cheaper and more efficient way to go. Politicians have become blinded by the media spotlight and are failing to consider all sides of the argument. As we shall see in Copenhagen next month, when the Canutes will attempt to stop the sea from rising, the ice from melting, the rain from falling etc. They are doomed to failure and with it, they will drag others into poverty, and further hinder our progress.

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MPs: always on the take

Written by Steve Bettison | Wednesday 25 November 2009

Chris Mullin is right when he states that £64,000 isn't peanuts. It's not. It's 253% more than the national median wage, or roughly double if you include a London weighting figure of 20%. (The Family Spending 2008 figures conclude that London living is 20% more expensive). So it's fair to conclude that politicians have an easier life than the majority of us on their 'basic' salary. Let's also not forget that they can expense much of their everyday spending whilst also eating subsidized food and drink, and should they garner a ministerial position then they're really raking it in.

Yes, their expenses should be published, down to the last nut and bolt. Yes, their other jobs should also be listed along with how much they earn for those positions. But neither of these solves the question of their pay. The Senior Salaries Review Board will continue to 'advise' the prime minister, meaning that the MPs will still set their own pay. A solution to this problem needs to be found as many in this country don't trust politicians (historically trust in politicians was declining before the expenses scandal) and therefore feel they are paid too much as of now.

MPs have achieved little for the reward they receive. Their remuneration isn't a reflection of the overbearing, unproductive and stultifying effects that their actions have on the rest of us. The UK's political class is in fact acting as a successful glass ceiling to the growth that we all could profit from without their interference. Their pay is purely a reflection of their self-centred and self-aggrandizing nature. A suitable pay cut would be sufficient to drag them back to earth and reveal the hardships that they have brought upon us. Connecting their pay to the median wage, as a base, would firmly ground them. Further linking that with growth and removing their ability to vote on their own pay rises would act as fair punishment for the years of theft they engaged in.

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Wasteful competition

Written by Steve Bettison | Tuesday 24 November 2009

altLondon to Birmingham: who can get there the fastest? Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are racing to see who can build a high speed railway between these two cities before the other; on paper. The Labour party are pulling out of the station with the announcement that it is to be a key manifesto pledge. The Conservative party have made promises that they will also look to build a high speed rail link in the UK, connecting London to Birmingham and on to Manchester and Leeds. Not since the mid 19th Century has this country seen such competition between two 'rail companies'.

This government has just spent £8.8bn upgrading a railway line between London and Glasgow. Upgrading it so it can run at the same speeds as before, but with better signalling. Then there is the Channel Tunnel rail link that took over 11 years to build. From its Parliamentary act in1996, to fully opening in 2007. It cost £5.2bn and covers 68 miles or £85.138m per mile. Labour claim that to get to Birmingham it will take them 8 years, but work wouldn't start until 2017. Birmingham is about 112 miles and if similar costs occurred then the total cost to us to build the railway would be £9.5bn. But of course as with everything a politician touches, the cost to us keeps on rising.

Political parties should not be promising to build railways; high speed or otherwise. Any party that promises to spend other people's money will do so without due care. What they should be promising in their manifestos is that if a private party (or parties) wish to build a high speed rail line then they would ensure it gained royal assent. The cost to us all is negligible, even more so if it fails.

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Properly subsidized education

Written by Steve Bettison | Monday 23 November 2009

Flicking through a copy of the Evening Standard last week an advert proclaimed, simply: "If your child can pass our exams, we can help you with the sums." In a move that is highly praiseworthy, eighteen London schools (listed here) have joined forces to advertise the educational opportunities to the low earning families of the capital.

Though each school may vary slightly in what they offer, the idea is one that has been at the core of quality education since time immemorial and continues in many countries. In private schools throughout the world, parents of those who can not afford to pay are not asked to. Nothing is as fair, nor simple as that. This simplistic approach gives all equal access to a good standard of education. Yet for some strange reason this model for education is seen as being grossly unfair by many.

Education in the UK is, and will remain, in need of a complete overhaul for many decades to come. The best and brightest will continue to have their minds negatively impacted upon by a poor state education system until schools and parents are released. Either politicians realise they have no right to the children, or the parents have to revolt and disavow the state, either through homeschooling or schools outside of the state system. Until then, hopefully independent schools will be able to offer subsidized places and free some children from the clutches of the politician.

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Life is dole

Written by Steve Bettison | Saturday 21 November 2009

£64.30 a week to live off. Or £278.63 a month. And you don't pay any tax on your take home pay at the end of the month. Now most of us would rather not attempt to live off that amount of money a week, especially if you live in London. Yet those without a job and family have to. That's a single person's allowance a week or month if they are job seeking. An indebted Daily Mail journalist attempted to do this recently. She's in debt to the tune of £150 000, and managed to spend £330 per week when attempting to spend £64.30. (I think this gives an insight into why she's in that much debt).

The article raises the question as to whether you can live off that small amount. Ultimately the question would be: is it difficult to go without? Do you have the self control to limit your spending? Using DirectGov to input a fictitious 25 year old who lived alone it's fairly easy to find out that living on benefits should be pretty straight forward when 'all' entitled benefits are taken into account. Presuming they live on their own, in an average single bed flat, in an average Band D property, in an average part of the world (rent £400 per month, council tax c.£1200 per year) the results are surprising. On top of the Jobseeker's allowance, there is housing benefit of £92.06 and council tax benefit of £23.02 per week. A total of £179.38 per week.

So you don't have to worry about who's paying your council tax and rent? Fuel and food are the next essentials. Life in a single bed flat or studio shouldn't consume much of either of those and it's quite feasible to eek out a sustainable life on the remainder. You could even stretch to purchasing the internet/phone for £6.73 a week and a TV Licence costs £2.74 a week. You may have to kiss your rollies and beer goodbye, but you can live quite easily without them.

So to those who say it's not enough. Oh it is. It's more than enough.

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Modern socialism's unintended consequence

Written by Steve Bettison | Wednesday 04 November 2009

The rise of the BNP can be charted from the depths of the 1980s through to the present. Wherever there has been a gain by the BNP the politicians have quizzically scratched their heads and wondered how it happened. If only they held a mirror in their other hand they would then be able to see who is to blame for turning voters into the arms of the BNP. These voters are the forgotten masses, in the 1980s it was those that felt rejected and let down by Thatcher's closing down of the mines and the general decay of inner cities. Now we see the indigenous population cast aside as the tsunami of New Labour's multiculturalism washes through the streets elevating others above them on a crest of the left's moral wave.

The third way socialism of this century is founded upon the proceeding thirty year's righteous moral competition: the smaller or more insignificant the minority the greater the sense of do-goodery to those championing the cause. If only the left could accept that the greatest way to elevate all from poverty is to accept the spontaneous and natural marketplace. The public space needs few rules to govern it as long as those meeting there respect and are spatially aware of those around them. Ironically Labour are merely reaping the unintended consequences of what they have sown over the past 12 years in power and the previous 40 years in the socialist nirvana of academe.

The rejection of the Labour Party by the British working class is a qualification of the failings of Labour's economic and social policy. They have forced people to become second class citizens in their own country and the bribery of increased benefits has been insufficient compensation. The majority of these new BNP voters aren't racist they are merely disaffected. They support the BNP because the BNP claims to put their wants above others. To solve this crisis the Labour Party have to reject all that they have accepted as gospel over the past 12 years. They have to cease their multicultural pursuits and end the lunacies of both the minimum wage and excessive benefits.

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EU're bang wrong: A history of lies!

Written by Steve Bettison | Tuesday 03 November 2009

Nothing is set in stone, especially when it comes to the world of politicians. Their mission is to govern, and to govern down to the minutiae of each of us. A prime example of this is the ever expanding wasteline of EU law and regulations. The European Union will never be a simple single market place where people can freely trade due entirely to the nature of the politicians and civil servants in Europe. It will become a federalist state with extremely high barriers to trade: where people are licensed to trade, outside goods are allowed only under exorbitant tariffs and exports are heavily subsidized.

Reading the original Treaty of Rome and comparing it to what it has become clearly defines the natural advancements of a relatively simple idea corrupted by the poisoned hands of politicians. But then a politician's idea of a market place is radically different from a rational person's. What was it that we were signed up for? In the Conservative Party manifesto of 1970 Europe was only mentioned three times and then in respect to negotiations. Yet Heath signed us up to the Treaty Rome without asking. Wilson's referendum of 1975 was built on the renegotiations of entry that had taken place over the previous year. Yet reading a Labour Party pamphlet of that time exposes the fabrications and limited knowledge of trade that politicians had (and continue to have).

The modern era is tainted with lies and obfuscation from all sides. A Labour party that reneged on its manifesto pledge for a referendum and a Conservative party leader purposively muddying the waters via convoluted English. Conservative Home's analysis suggests that the Tories are unlikely to offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The party will instead seek renegotiations. Since Chamberlain returned from continental Europe with a piece of paper in his hand, that is all the politicians of this country ever come back with. Unfortunately for us that piece of paper is regularly stamped with, "WE HAVE GLADLY SURRENDERED TO EU".

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Green is the colour of climate jealousy

Written by Steve Bettison | Sunday 01 November 2009

There are still some people out there who do not share in the belief that the world's climate is changing. A plan was required to stimulate them into marching along to the same drum, and it was of course required yesterday. Its urgency was predicated on the rising tides, scorching heat of winter and the choking fug of poisoned skies. Obviously the children are the key to all the left foists upon us and what better way getting the little angels into spying on their parents than by blaming them for the drowning of their cherished pets. If you can't get people to join you in your quest for simple living then why not fall back on blackmail.

The radical environmentalism of this age is one that could be construed as being fundamentally driven by jealousy. Imagine a world where a majority of people, resist the call for restrictions on business and forge onwards embracing new technologies in an almost 'Randian Fountainhead' type way. Leaving the pulse and lentil brigade to self-flagellate in their humble wattle and daub dwellings and occasionally drowning their pets as a warning to their children about leaving the candle burning for too long. Why should they force themselves to live in that manner based on their requirements to not leave a footprint on Mother Gaia while the rest of us carry on with our natural desire to improve our lives. The environmentalists continue to call in the heavyweight violence of governments to impose restrictions on progress: the upcoming meeting in Copenhagen is just another example of how hard they are trying.

Unfortunately for us, and the nature of taxes in the UK, the output of the symphorphilia film department in DEFRA will continue. Expect more children to be tugging on the sleeves of their parents. "Why didn't you turn the lights off daddy?" "Because I don't want you living in a cave, wearing a sack and gnawing on pulses." Try explaining that to a scared child.

NB: The author is not a 'climate change denier'. He's simply proposes that we do nothing. We got this far by doing nothing and simply relying on our distinctly natural instincts of adaptability. Let's adapt not infringe.

It was Climate Fools Day on the 28th October, read about it here.

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