Friday, August 06, 2010

Social Justice for Britain

Absolutely bizarre discussion of welfarism and its cures.

'John McTernan v Neil O'Brien: Can Iain Duncan Smith fix Britain's welfare problem?
Two Telegraph bloggers, John McTernan and Neil O'Brien, debate whether Iain Duncan Smith is really thinking the doable.'

America did welfare reform successfully, but what they did would never work here because 'the disincentives to work - the welfare trap - was already far less severe in the US than it they are here.'

We should spend money on 'increasing the financial incentive to work, or putting it into deflection from welfare, improving welfare to work services, better case management, and more job-focused interviews.' Yeah, that should do it.

John McTernan: 'Thinking the unthinkable, as Frank Field was tasked, is epistemologically impossible. Instead you are driven to think the undoable or do the unthinkable.'

Eh? Baffle them with bullshit, indeed. Apparently, because Britain has an enormously Byzantine benefits system which now has a manual 8,370 pages long, nobody can ever reform it. Even if they try, they won't be able to. My mind immediately returns to 1980, when all the economists in the country wrote the letter to the Times saying what a catastrophe cutting taxes and public spending would be, just before the economy rebounded and the decade of growth and great business began...

Neil O'Brien: 'Might introducing "friendly" reforms which many work pay more, thereby allow politicians the space to introduce other, tougher reforms? Those "push factors" we've talked about do work. But when they are introduced they tend to be perceived as harsh. Indeed, some of Bill Clinton's own advisers resigned over his 1996 reforms – even though they helped millions of people in the long term.'

Harsh? Harsh? Believing it is your right to sit around your house while other people work hard to provide for you is evil. Correcting that situation is not harsh. It is salutary and right.

Here is my solution to this entire problem, point by point. The intent is that all the systems of the state should militate towards the best ends:

1) The national tax system would be replaced by a 15% flat tax.
2) There would be no indirect taxes at all.
3) All public housing would be privatised.
4) Every neighborhood which required it would have free restaurants funded out of local taxes.
5) One benefit still available would be for incapacity. This would be received only after claimants went before a medical/psychiatric board and were examined.
6) Another benefit would be a training bursary. This could be applied for, but only granted after a test of the applicant to make sure that the bursary was good value for money for the taxpayer.
7) The only other benefit would be part-funding of apprenticeships in any industry or business.
8) The NHS would be privatised. People would be given information about setting up Health Care savings accounts, and purchasing Catastrophic Health Insurance.
9) There would be no quangos. Any legitimate regulation or oversight function would be done directly by central government.
10) Education would be non-universal. All schools would be privatised.
11) Eliminate the minimum wage.
12) Allow only well-educated, skilled immigrants into Britain.

The main economic effect of these changes would be to reserve most capital in the private sector, and allow workers to keep a very large part of their earnings. Workers would get to choose what goods to purchase and which not. So for instance, there would almost certainly be far fewer schools, but the quality of those schools would skyrocket.

There would be no skulking around at home option. Given that the cost and ease of employing people would fall significantly, far more casual work and permanent work would be available. Also, because the overall cost of living would be greatly reduced, people would have more choice about how much time they worked.

Of course, it would mean social changes. People would have to move to find work. People like my aunt would have to forsake their fantastic lifestyles. She currently lives by herself in a three-bedroom council house, in a beautiful leafy-green Hertfordshire village. She gets more than a hundred pounds a week disability benefit, despite only having a crooked finger. She even gets money for taking 'Adult Education' classes like Yoga and Pilates. For her, these changes would be disastrous. But for the millions of hardworking poor people who just scrape by while paying the enormous (53%) tax burden to support people like my aunt, life would be immeasurably better.

You want social justice? We can have social justice.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

You guys are starting to creep me out

'Climate change: It's time to talk, and act, tough
Environmentalists have tried the compromise route. It hasn't worked.',0,7179186.story

You've spent months wooing her, sending her flowers, and making mooney eyes at her. She finally agrees to go out with you on a few dates, and you even manage to bed her a few times. But she wasn't that impressed. And soon you noticed that she had moved on to other things (people, really).

So what do you do? Most of us sigh a lot, drink more than usual, perhaps indulge in a few fantasies about revenge acts, and after a few weeks, get on with our lives. But then there is that small percentage of the population who JUST CAN'T LET GO. They become obsessed, unbalanced, vacillating between ecstatic love and murderous hate, and start stalking their paramour.

Well, I guess we know where the Global Warmmongers fall now. We toyed with their affections for a while. Many of us dutifully recycled stuff which was promptly sent to a landfill somewhere, bought Fair Trade tea and dolphin friendly Tuna chunks. We bought a tiddly little car because it got slightly better mileage. We even changed our holiday plans so our trip wasn't as humoungously CO2 producing.

But then when the Enviro-demands became ever more shrill, ever more detached from reality and ever more punitive, we started to get a bit jaded. There seemed to be nothing you could do, nothing you could buy and nothing you could eat that didn't make you some kind of enviro criminal.

And then they told us that they were going to dismantle our economies, force us to stop using power sources that work and replace them with ones which are deeply inferior, and confiscate enormous quantities of our wealth as punishment for eco-crimes and give it to people in Mozambique and Bangladesh. Or the planet would SELF-DESTRUCT!!!!??!!!

At this point, most people started thinking, mmmm- yeah I'm not on board. Sorry. Enough is enough. I'm quite happy with my carbon footprint thanks.

Wuh oh. So now we see what the response of our eco-masters is. You can't just stop loving us! We insist that you love us. We demand that you love us. Where are the old feelings? Remember how we used to chat about saving the world in the college cafeteria? Remember how idealistic we were? Make it like the old days! Or else we'll come round and blow shit up, or maybe slash your tires.

We have a stalker, people.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Ok then, Ban the Burka

'Newt’s key insight is that we are engaged not in a war against terror but a war against Sharia, i.e., Islamic law.'

I really like Roger Kimballs stuff. But very rarely does he change my mind on a major issue. That just happened with the Burka ban.

It has been my consistent position that in a free country the government does not prescribe or proscribe clothing types or styles. Got nothing to do with them what I want to wear outdoors or indoors. Except, perhaps, in the case of the Burka.

Islamism is a political enterprise whose goal is world domination. As such, a law for Britain banning the Burka would symbolise our determination that Islamism never succeed here. The Burka is a flag for Islamists, a way of promoting themselves and their difference from us. It is also a means of separating women from men in a way deeply inimical to the conduct of relationships in the way free societies do. Banning them in public deprives the Islamists of this very visible flag of membership, and strikes at the heart of Sharia- its insistence that it decrees how every aspect of your life should be run.

This was understood by the founders of Turkey, who wanted to promote the secular values of the west. Although these have been deeply undermined recently by the Erdogan government, the bans on headcoverings and other anti-sharia decrees were in place for many decades. They did symbolise the desire to overthrow the worst and most oppressive parts of sharia, and replace them with a more open, lively and free way of live.

I still don't like a government telling people what to wear and what not to wear- but I feel an exception is warranted in this particular case, because of the particular history of the Burka and its place in Islamism.

The failed Empire

“We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: Al Qaeda,” he said. “Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation-build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”
Joe Biden [Hat Tip: Instapundit]

How different is this twenty first century attitude to the one the British brought with them to south Asia in the nineteenth. While not consciously on a crusade on behalf of British culture, habits and methods of governance, the Scotsmen, Irishmen, Ulstermen, Welshmen and Englishmen who went to India were mostly fiercely proud of the British way. They were happy to impose what they believed were superior ways of doing things over what was there already.

As a consequence, over two hundredish years, India became quite British. Certainly its ruling classes did. Which is why India has a working court system, decent policing, a working democracy, government policies overtly geared to helping the poorest and least advantaged, and distinctions like the primacy of the civilian leadership over the military and the separation of powers between the branches of government. India is definitely a work in progress, but there should be immense optimism about its capacity to build on the framework gifted to them by Britain.

So, what is America taking to Afghanistan? Bashful self-loathing, American Idol and a very obvious desire to skedaddle at the first opportunity. Not much there to really take on board, is there? I can't see young Afghans really wanting to sign up to this dismal prospectus. Where the British were happy to use their supreme technological, organisational and military advantages to impose their systems on their subjects, America isn't. Far from trumpeting their Christianity, their democracy, their equality and their humanity, and unabashedly bringing them to the poor heathen of the Afghanistan, they are content to have the Afghans continue in their squalor, with a few 'western' bits glued on, like a few 'schools' and 'clinics'.

America is not even achieving these extremely low ambitions. Is America capable of being imperial at all?

Stick to your guns, Mr Cameron

'Pakistan PM hits back at David Cameron terror claim
Pakistan's prime minister has refuted David Cameron's claim his country is ''exporting terror'' as President Asif Ali Zardari presses ahead with a visit to Britain this week.'

Refute: 'to prove to be false or erroneous, as an opinion or charge'. According to Alistair Jamieson, President Zardari has not simply provided his own highly partisan opinion about whether Pakistan sponsors terrorism, but has refuted David Cameron! Very poor writing indeed. We used to expect far more from Telegraph writers, but sadly standards have dipped precipitously.

David Cameron will have seen all the voluminous proof of Pakistans duplicity, and the background briefings explaining that duplicity and aggression have been the hallmarks of the country since its invention in 1947. Whether or not it was politic or indeed diplomatic to talk about the real Pakistan, especially to an Indian audience, Mr Camerons comments are precisely correct. President Zardaris comments refute nothing. They are simply another reiteration of the longstanding Pakistani tradition of saying one thing while doing the polar opposite.

What is amazing is that it has apparently taken sixty two years for everyone besides India to notice these really nasty Pakistani habits. And just because there are a million Pakistanis living in Britain, sadly, does not mean we the British should cave in to their pathetic blackmail.