Oct 142010
 

Guest post by Evander Diarmand

The federal government of the United States is, through a practice of perpetual borrowing, on the verge of financial collapse. This is widely decried in media and among citizens to varying degrees but little is done to waylay the rampant expenditure of borrowed funds. These loans, derived from foreign states and from the banks of the Federal Reserve Board, are currently the primary source of revenue for the federal state. The United States Constitution establishes no clear limit on the purposes for which the federal state may incur such debt nor does it limit the extent thereof. Consequently, the congress has taken advantage of the omission to further its political aims both variously and collectively. This self-perpetuating debt—both a threat to the national security and to the integrity of the federated union—has been a common feature in American politics for decades; to the extent that citizens widely accept it as typical. Despite its ubiquity and the number of people employed by debt-funded government bureaus and agencies, this practice is onerous. It is the primary threat to the republic today and must be stopped even if drastic action is required.

Financial management is widely regarded by contemporary society as drudgery—it is a necessary task but bland and thankless. Most people avoid the subject and procrastinate when they face financial difficulties. The general atmosphere of distaste for accounting is amplified enormously in the public spheres of society: several American states ignored the problem and are on the verge of bankruptcy. By many accounts, attaining solvency for these states cannot be postponed. In the federal government, even this eleventh-hour urgency is nonexistent because the federal government derives its funds in a manner all together obscure; a manner which is certainly extra-legal for any single state to attempt. The federal government did not acquire this ability accidentally. The entire history of central government in America, when examined broadly, is a series of legislation and court decisions which have gradually allowed more varied sources of revenue for the central authority and fewer restrictions thereon. The Articles of Confederation famously established the most restrictive rules for revenue generation and it is widely agreed the founders drafted the US Constitution primarily to remedy this perceived flaw. Under the Constitution, the federal apparatus has grown rapidly as court precedent has become increasingly liberal in judgments addressing federal revenue. The twentieth century has seen the greatest expansion of federal sources of revenue while the infrequent judicial impediments have been superseded either by legislation or constitutional amendment. The federal state, its appetite for money apparently insatiable, has perfected the skill of marketing even the most outrageous proposals for generating revenue—some egregiously unconstitutional—to the American populace.

What is the aim of the congress that they must constantly seek new sources of revenue? The answer is simple: Power. And they never have enough. It is likely not a conscious decision to dominate American society or undermine the republic but rather a collective understanding among federal officials that having power is preferable to sharing it. Power, for a congressman, is in controlling the purse. The more revenue they collect, the more control and popularity they can maintain throughout the various states. For instance, taxation of the states or the people never decreases. This means the federal government increasingly controls the collective income and expenditure of the American people simply because so much of our currency goes through their hands. What they collect is held until the congress finds a political motivation to redistribute it. Obviously, those who benefit from this redistribution will lend aid politicians who willing to enact it. When enough congressmen find it politically advantageous to subsidize an industry, agency, or a state, they make pacts with congressmen (often of the “opposition”) who wish to spend it to further their own careers.* Thus, the money is returned to the economy and artificially adheres to certain regions or economic sectors. This is the nature of the modern tyranny. It is a political culture of patronage, inherently plutocratic: because federal revenue is seemingly endless, begging for a share of that revenue has become a lucrative profession for the silver-tongued** and political power has gravitated to the center rather than being diffused throughout the union. Unsatisfied with controlling the money of the American states and their citizens, the federal government has in recent decades turned to borrowing as their principal monetary leverage.

This represents a terrible danger because, today, congress distributes far more than it collects to a degree unimaginable to most Americans. The imbalance is so severe that borrowing has replaced taxation as the primary source of revenue. Our current political system as it is practiced today can only continue if the government borrows endlessly. This has created a paradox: taxation’s only purpose in this system is the payment of interest on federal debt. To elaborate, the federal government has become so gluttonous for revenue that it borrows against the debt itself and struggles to pay off the interest at all. Raising taxes will only delude congressmen into believing they can maintain charade while lowering them will only deepen the debt. Their hunger for revenue has drained the Treasury, Social Security, and anywhere else money sat unused or in trust. They have borrowed from nations around the world and from the Federal Reserve so much for so long that the books would be incomprehensible to even the most talented accountant. It is dangerous because, if for no other reason, it deludes Americans into believing loans and income are the same thing.

The real danger, however, is the source of the borrowed money. Because the federal government is borrowing against debt (and therefore the American people’s money itself) it has created the possibility of catastrophic “foreclosure.” China (among many others states) and the banks of the Federal Reserve essentially own the federal government. And its net worth does not even come close to what it owes. These are some of the most powerful entities on earth and they have the potential to subjugate our federal government. Further, the economy of our nation, far from recovering after the 2007 decline, is in danger of descending into deepest stagflation. The congress’s heedless borrowing compelled the Federal Reserve to perform the greatest feat of illusion in human history: they have separated currency from any kind of value whatsoever and in so doing have been an example for power-hungry governments worldwide. Their monetary policy defies explanation and justification. When the congress needs money, the Federal Reserve quite literally creates it out of nothing and lends it to our government. These loans are borrowed against debt and must be repaid with interest despite being imaginary money. Income tax exists for no other reason than to prevent the federal government from being sucked into this monetary singularity. All the while, the Federal Reserve buys up more and more of our government with money that never existed.

This is not a clever piece of rhetoric meant to generate support for a party, and ideology, or a philosophy—the situation is truly dire. The US Constitution is consistently ignored and power no long derives from the states or the people. Powers now derives solely from money in the most direct literal sense. Our ideals and the republic created to maintain them are already gone. Elimination of the federal government’s unlimited power to collect and spend revenue is not a risk or gamble; it is a necessity if this union is to survive at all. Financial collapse is imminent—perhaps even with our lifetimes—if we continue to tinker with our tax code and limit ourselves to small spending cuts. Politicians and lobbyists caused the problem and are therefore incapable of solving it.

What is necessary for our prosperity and our security is inevitably painful: the largely idle but extremely expensive bureaucracy must be dismantled; the military empire must end; the power of congress to borrow must be severely limited; and the Constitution must be reinstated and amended to outlaw borrowing and new federal spending during a deficit. Most importantly, we must wrest control of our currency from the hands of the Federal Reserve. The downward spiral must be stopped—partisan elections, regulations, and lobbying will accomplish nothing unless we resign ourselves to the truth. Unfortunately, there is no happy ending. It is too late to solve this problem without damage to our economy and political infrastructure; this is the price of delay. We must accept that we will not always be rich, that we will not always be powerful, and that politics is poison. All we can do now is save our country.

*Believe me, none of them actually wants to prevent the spending all together.

** i.e. those who aren’t politicians.

Tom Harris MP on old parents

 indolence  Comments Off on Tom Harris MP on old parents
Jan 192010
 

Tom Harris MP writes on his blog about a 60-year-old IVF mother:

Apparently, there’s a debate taking place in Britain about whether 60 is too old to become a mum. What a depresing thought. There has to be a debate about it? Why? Are we really so stupid and shallow that we need a debate before we reach the obvious conclusion of “Yes, of course 60 is too old to become a mum”?

The only up side to this story is that Mrs Tollefsen had to go to Russia to receive this treatment because she wouldn’t have received it in the UK. I wish the same could be said for every country. There are those who are so wedded to the concept of “rights” for everyone (except the rights of infants, obviously) that they will campaign for such treatment to become available here also.

They must be opposed. That will be heartbreaking for many older childless women. But it is fairer to children, and in this equation, that’s all that matters.

As it happens, I agree with his opinion.

Of course the state should not pay for the fertilisation of old women. Of course having a child is not a ‘right.’

But any reasonable person must then speculate: perhaps the state should not pay for the fertilisation of any women, given that if having a child is not a right for old people, neither is it a right for anyone else.

Unfortunately, Tom Harris MP does not mention this. He says:

But what’s even more unfair is knowing that a child is born with the near certainty of being left motherless before it reaches its teens, or will spend their formative years as a carer.

Children are not lifestyle choices. They’re not possessions to be added to our collections of material wealth as we grow older: first car (used), first flat, first house, second car (new), baby, bigger house… Children are precious for their own sake. The happiness and fulfilment they offer to their parents is secondary.

Too true. It’s also unfair that many children in this country are born in poverty, in welfare traps, in sink estates, into single-parent households, into negligent or abusive households – all of which have been shown by countless studies to be seriously disadvantageous to children and to be primary factors in curtailing children’s chances of becoming successful, healthy, well-adjusted adults.

But while the state can refuse to fund fertilisation, it can’t stop people having children – even those people we might personally think entirely unsuitable for the job of being parents. And it seems ridiculously petty to take issue with an older woman having a child because she might die while the child is young, when there are so many people in this country who do far worse to their children day in and day out than give them as much love as they can for as long as they can.

It is terrible for a child to lose a parent, and it is sad to imagine a parent who knows full well she probably will not see her child leave school, go to university, get married, or have children of its own. But this situation is not the worst one a child can be in. It’s not even in the top ten.

And I would prefer it if Tom Harris MP and his party of Government addressed those top ten worst situations before pontificating about what a woman should and shouldn’t do with her body, and who should and shouldn’t be having children.

UPDATE: Some of the commenters on Tom Harris MP’s post seem to be complaining that, in addition to the IVF diverting NHS resources from actual sick people, it’s terribly unfair that the state should have to support the children of parents who made the irresponsible decision to get knocked up when they knew their deaths from old age might leave those children without care.

Say what? Right, because obviously the state is currently in the business of supporting only the children of parents who made responsible decisions. *boggles*

More on framing the debate

 indolence  Comments Off on More on framing the debate
Nov 142009
 

Perry de Havilland has written a post at Samizdata that reinforces what I touched on yesterday about allowing one’s political opponents to dictate the terms of debate, which he calls the meta-context:

What is audacious about conceding the choice of battleground entirely to the nominal enemy? I say ‘nominal’ because in truth the philosophical/ideological differences between New Labour and the Tory Party (BlueLabour) are not that significant.

And so Cameron’s audacious stuff is to try and do what Labour tried, just ‘do it better’. Far from being audacious, this is just more of the same heard-it-all-before by-the-numbers political droning, tailored slightly to appeal to whoever he is talking to at the moment and which way the weathervane is pointing today. Audacious would require an actual meta-contextual shift and Cameron has made it clear he represents continuity, not radical change.

The only think we need more of from government is inaction… we need less across the board, not more… Richard Reeves cannot see that because he is a regulatory statist who sees government in terms of the parties being competing ‘management teams’ rather like Soviet design bureaus… offering creative options within essentially the same ideological system and meta-contextual framework. But in truth we do not need ‘better’ government action, we need ‘less’ government action… dramatically less. We also need actual intellectual opposition, not a difference of management theories. In short we need a far less powerful and intrusive state vis a vis civil society.

This is exactly the sort of thing I mean when I say we are tacitly permitting the enemy to frame the debate. And this failure to step outside the meta-context is why libertarians tend to view the present-day Tory party as more or less indistinguishable from Labour.

Which is interesting, because of course Labour supporters still see the Tories as both diametrically opposed to their own views, and indistinguishable from their Thatcher days.

Witness the words of Ed Miliband at Comment is free:

Cameron’s argument was that the state is the cause of poverty. “The size, scope and role of government in Britain has reached a point where it is now inhibiting, not advancing, the progressive aims of reducing poverty, fighting inequality …” And indeed, ever since the late 1960s, the state has been “ineffective”. There is no evidence, historical or otherwise, for this claim, only pernicious political motive.

The difference between Thatcherism and Cameronism may be that rhetorically, one says poverty doesn’t matter, and the other says it does. But let’s not be taken in: there is no difference when it comes to prescriptions.

Ed Miliband actually thinks Cameron wants to reduce the size of the state. (This is as laughable as those disaffected Republicans who believed Obama wanted to restore civil liberties.) What he doesn’t seem to realise, which libertarians do, is that Cameron is still speaking within the framework that social democrats like Miliband himself have created: Cameron still wants to reduce poverty and inequality. His only disagreement with Labour is over the method by which that is done. He is not questioning the the desirability of those particular goals.

This is why libertarians see so little difference between the two main parties: they have both adopted as desirable ends the same ‘progressive’ ideals. What distinguishes the Tories from Labour is the means. Truly to step outside the meta-context, the Tories would need to ask whether those ends are, in fact, advisable. Is reducing relative poverty and inequality of outcome really a goal worth pursuing?

Very few people in mainstream politics appear to be asking that sort of question.

Aug 052009
 

…what all my immigration struggle is for; because having picked up yesterday’s Guardian rather lazily this evening, I appear to have forgotten in the midst of my spluttering, outraged indignation.

The story, on page 4, is headlined ‘Canvass for a political party to win points for a British passport, says immigration minister‘ (the headline on the website is sneakily different) and begins:

New migrants willing to canvass for Labour or another political party could get a British passport within a year under citizenship proposals announced today by the immigration minister, Phil Woolas.

They also face being sent on compulsory “orientation days” where they will be taught British values, social norms and customs – and be charged for the privilege.

What? What? What the fuck is this? Canvass for Labour! Pay under compulsion to learn to be British! This is the country that gave the world Locke, Mill, and its most cogent expressions of liberty. Are these ministers not listening to themselves?

A Home Office consultation paper, Earning the Right to Stay in Britain, proposes a new “points test for citizenship” and confirms that ministers are looking at ways of penalising those who demonstrate “an active disregard for UK values” when they apply for a British passport.

The Home Office refused to specify what might be covered by the phrase “active disregard”. Woolas said migrants would be expected to show their commitment to Britain. He declined to discuss refusing passports to those who protest at army homecoming parades, a policy idea attributed to Home Office sources over the weekend.

Ooh, and migrants can enjoy the pleasure of being penalised for showing ‘active disregard’ for UK values, without ever being told quite what that entails. Except that the juxtaposition of information in this article suggests that ‘active disregard’ for British values might include, oh I dunno, not canvassing for Labour.

Probationary citizens are to be given temporary residence for five years. They can accelerate or delay the process of becoming full citizens depending upon the pace of their integration into British life. The Home Office paper says a central pillar of this approach will be active citizenship. Those who take part in voluntary work such as becoming a school governor, or “contributing to the democratic life of the nation” through trade union activities, or by actively campaigning and canvassing for a political party, could get their citizenship within 12 months rather than the expected average of three years.

Voluntary organisations have protested that such voluntary work could be seen as compulsory in these circumstances. Concerns have also been voiced about the possible abuse of offering a passport in return for political canvassing.

Fucking right, there could be possible abuse. Wait – possible abuse? Surely not – the very purpose of this proposal is its abuse. Nor will it be called ‘abuse’ – because enshrining it in immigration law makes it legal.

Local authorities are to have a greater role in integrating migrants, including verifying the points accumulated by each applicant. They will also offer orientation days on British values and customs on top of the existing citizenship ceremonies.

The Home Office suggests these could be voluntary or compulsory, and that completing a course could contribute to the points total, but the cost will have to be paid by the migrant. A citizenship application this year costs £720, including £80 for a ceremony. The money is non-refundable in the event of refusal. More than 9,000 refusals were made last year, nearly a third owing to failing the “good character test” – mostly because of a criminal record. Only 610 were turned down because of lack of knowledge of English or of life in the UK.

Voluntary or compulsory, hmm? Cost to be paid by the migrant? No shit. I am astonished by my total lack of astonishment. Applications that cost buttloads, but the fee is non-refundable even if the application is refused? I am bowled over, truly I am. Let’s do the math: £720 per application, with at least 9,000 applications refused, equals £6,480,000 free and clear, for the acquisition of which the government did no work, but simply allowed desperate foreigners to donate to the revenue and operation of a country the citizenship of which they were subsequently denied.

Make that £6,480,820, actually, to include the fee from my own refused application.

Woolas said earned citizenship would give the government more control over the numbers of people permitted to settle in Britain permanently, with the bar raised or lowered according to need.

According to need? Is that some silly joke? You have to have wheelbarrows of cash sitting around just to apply for visas or citizenship in Britain, plus an earnings history the requisite size of which defies all sense, plus enough cash stored away to meet the maintenance requirement, plus fuckloads of spare time to devote to citizen orientation courses, compulsory volunteer work, and political canvassing – and they’re going to raise or lower the bar according to need? What need?

Oh, right: the need for more Labour voters.

Kill me now; I’m no longer sure I can stand the idea of living in a world like this.

UPDATE: Wow, nobody else seems to like this development either. Surprise!

Here’s Shazia Mira, commenting in the very same issue of the Guardian:

Scratch the surface even slightly, and what you find is the truth about how this government would like all its citizens – new applicant or not – to behave. Do not complain. Do not question authority. Do not protest. This government is behaving worryingly like an online predator who grooms children. It is grooming a population for unquestioning compliance. Not just migrants – everyone is being groomed.

And a Guardian editorial, again in yesterday’s issue:

“Once you’ve got a British passport you can demonstrate as much as you like. Until then, don’t.” If ever a caricature of a policy sounded designed to provoke a slap-down, then you might have thought this was it. But when a BBC interviewer yesterday described plans to overhaul the citizenship rules with these words, the immigration minister Phil Woolas signalled she had put it in a nutshell. The topsy-turvy idea of immigrants being made to respect supposedly British values, such as free speech, while being excluded from these themselves did not seem to faze Mr Woolas at all.

Of course it didn’t faze him. Guess what I’m going to say next.*

Finally, Chris Huhne, a man I never thought I’d gaze upon with anything approaching approbation, slaps down these proposals. It’s kind of a girly slap, without much power behind it, but it’s a slap nonetheless:

In this case, the good ideas are obscured by the statement from Alan Johnson in the News of the World that points could be docked for bad behaviour. This is understandable if the government is referring to people committing criminal offences, but the notion seems to go further. The home secretary seems to want to be the chief constable of the thought police. In insisting that people demonstrate a commitment to Britain, they are suggesting that people could be barred from citizenship for engaging in “unpatriotic behaviour”. This strikes me as being distinctly un-British.

Britain has a proud history of freedom of expression and of citizen protest. Despite recent government attempts to curtail such freedoms, it is precisely this tradition that attracts many people to this country in the first place. It is paradoxical to suggest that migrants could be prevented from acquiring citizenship for engaging in behaviour that British citizens take for granted. People should not be barred from becoming British citizens merely because they have the temerity to criticise government policy. If that were the case, I would have failed any citizenship test many times over. Even some members of the Labour party would find it hard to pass.

Perhaps the government will set up a House un-British Activities Committee. I’d find that fitting.

The government will find itself facing difficult decisions and inevitably making mistakes in a system that will be both subjective and bureaucratic.

Mistakes? Subjective and bureaucratic? No, no, no, my naive Lib Dem. Guess what I’m going to say next.*

*That’s not a bug, IT’S A FEATURE.

It occurs to me that if the Border Agency discover this blog, I’m fucked…

Jun 152009
 

Habeas corpus, as far as I understand it, is simply a writ that a detained individual is being held to await the judgement of a legally constituted court of the validity of charges against him:

corpus…habeas…ad subjiciendum et recipiendum ea quae curia nostra de eo adtunc et ibidem ordinare contigerit in hac parte.

It is a constitutional principle only insofar as the writ demands that proof be presented to the court that the detention of the individual is lawful; it also states that without such convincing proof, the court will release the individual. A detained individual has, therefore, the right to challenge the charge and evidence against him before he is formally tried. If the charge and evidence are found to be valid by the court, he will then be remanded to await trial.

There appears to be some debate, at the Devil’s Kitchen and at Tom Paine’s, about whether this appears in Magna Carta. It doesn’t, obviously, as Magna Carta is a charter of liberties, not a legal writ that refers to the detention of a specific individual. However, Magna Carta does protect and confirm the legal necessity for writs of habeas corpus in Article 39:

nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super cum ibimus, nec super cum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.

The necessity of providing proof that an accused individual ought to be detained, and his right to challenge that proof before a court, already existed in legem terrae; Magna Carta confirms them.

Tom Paine says: ‘For the first time in history, it limited the power of the state. It ended the rule of men and began the rule of law.’

This is not entirely accurate; what Magna Carta actually does is enumerate legal principles that already existed, but which John had routinely ignored or infringed; for the first time, Magna Carta enshrined what all men already held to be true, that the monarch was bound to observe his own laws. That Magna Carta had to be written, and John had to sign it, is merely a function of common law: it created a recorded precedent, thus overriding what had already been convention.

It is also slightly unfair to say that ‘you will be disappointed by’ the other articles.

No. 2 confirms the level of payment of relief upon inheritance – in other words, the Crown cannot demand extortionate inheritance taxes.

No. 3 confirms that underage heirs are not liable for relief/inheritance tax.

No. 4 confirms that trustees cannot plunder an underage person’s inheritance.

No. 7 confirms that widows do not have to pay relief/inheritance tax upon their husband’s death.

No. 9 confirms that only movable goods may be seized for payment of debt – not homes or land.

No. 12, 14, 15 and 16 confirm that no scutage (payment in lieu of service, i.e. tax) can be levied without the consent of those who would be paying it, and even then the Crown cannot demand more than what is reasonable and has been agreed upon.

No. 17, 18, and 19 confirm that people must be tried for crimes in the jurisdiction where they reside or in the jurisdiction where the crime took place.

No. 20 confirms that fines for offences cannot be levied arbitrarily, must be proportionate to the offence, and cannot result in the deprivation of livelihood.

No. 24 confirms that courts held by inappropriate authorities are invalid.

No. 27 confirms that if a man dies intestate, the Crown cannot seize his effects.

No. 28, 30, and 31 confirm that the Crown may not take a man’s property without payment.

No. 32 confirms that the Crown may not freeze or otherwise control a convicted felon’s assets for more than a year and a day.

No. 35 confirms standards in weights and measures.

No. 36 and 40 confirm that the Crown may not deny, delay, or sell justice.

No. 38 confirms that no man may be tried on the basis of hearsay or without the evidence of independent witnesses.

No. 42 confirms the free right of movement into and out of the country.

No. 45 confirms that only men who know and observe the law may be appointed to enforce or decide it.

Each one of these is tremendously important and not a function or product of circumstances limited to 1215. How many of them, I wonder, has the current government infringed?

May 192009
 

Independent regulation of all remuneration of MPs – that’s it?

(1) How fucking embarrassing. The governors of our nation admit they cannot be trusted to govern themselves.

(2) Is it really possible to have ‘statutory independent regulation’? I mean, who is going to choose these regulators? From what funds will they be paid? From public funds? In which case, are they really independent?

(3) If they will be paid from public funds, how much hiring and paying and funding of this new, presumably civil service, branch of the state is going to go on? When this came up in a discussion with libertarians on Saturday afternoon, a figure of £600,000pa was posited. Small change in terms of spending, but surely part of the whole scandal is that public money is being spent not only too much, but unwisely!

(4) Brown’s little press conference would have been a hell of a lot better without his autoencomium. His own Bill of Rights and Duties (ugh), and New Labour’s devolution, reform of the House of Lords, etc., etc. Nobody cares or wants to hear that sort of boasting in this situation.

(5) Someone has asked what the definition of ‘breaking the rules’ is, under which MPs will not be able to stand in the next election. Brown has no answer. I suspect that since the running excuse is that all these expenses were within the rules – and, indeed, it appears many of the most obnoxious ones were – we will see bunches of these bastards standing again, more’s the pity. (That, or Brown intends to use this ploy to neutralise his political enemies.)

(6) Brown has no response to a remark about how the public are saying that, if they did this stuff, they’d go to jail; the example given is of a shoplifter offering to return or pay for his booty. Brown’s claim: not an equivalent situation, because Hazel Blears acted within the rules. No ‘discipline’ for her then. Aha.

(7) A radio reporter-type has said Brown should call a general election. His response: it is the system at fault, not the Government, since ‘all parties must take responsibility for this.’ Never mind that the real reason for an election is the total collapse of public confidence in government. When the government cannot govern – as it appears not to have done over the past three weeks – a new democratic mandate is needed. Brown must be hugely delighted on the inside that the European elections are happening so soon, as it means the public will take out their justified rage and exercise their democratic privilege there – where it will have no effect on Labour’s continuing grasp-of-dead-hand hold on the UK. Once the voters have vented their spleen on MEPs, perhaps their disaffection will be purged! (He hopes.)

(8) A question about the Tamil protestors. Brown defends freedom of assembly. [Stopped listening; laughing too hard.]

(9) Brown keeps smiling – what the fuck has he got to smile about? He’s also leaning on the lectern in a way that, I’m sure, Obama the Orator never would. This bizarre body language actually makes him look… bored.

Speaking of which, I’m bored now too. Most of the snide questions I was droolingly anticipating have been asked, and Brown is now wittering like a madman: a maximum of words, a minimum of meaning, and enough use of the passive voice that, if this were transcribed into Latin, the page would be littered with -turs.

Make that turds. Which represent exactly what Brown, his speech, all other MPs, and the whole rotten edifice of this state are worth.

May 062009
 

It’s squillions for the price of one internet connection over on the list of bills currently before the US House Judiciary Committee. There’s some fascinatingly weird stuff in there.

However, Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) wins the biscuit with H.R. 808, the Department of Peace Act.

After a load of waffling on about the great American tradition of peace (wtf? – ed.), the bloody thing kicks off with:

We are in a new millennium, and the time has come to review age-old challenges with new thinking wherein we can conceive of peace as not simply being the absence of violence, but the active presence of the capacity for a higher evolution of the human awareness, of respect, trust, and integrity; wherein we all may tap the infinite capabilities of humanity to transform consciousness and conditions which impel or compel violence at a personal, group, or national level toward developing a new understanding of, and a commitment to, compassion and love, in order to create a ‘shining city on a hill’, the light of which is the light of nations.

Yeah, okay. This sort of cheap-pulpit rhetoric does not belong in a piece of official legislation.

And what, you ask, will this Department of Peace do?

(a) Establishment- There is hereby established a Department of Peace (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the ‘Department’), which shall–

(1) be a cabinet-level department in the executive branch of the Government; and

(2) be dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace.

If I force my brain through massive self-deception to ignore the heavy, in fact wholly unsubtle, Orwellian connotations of this bill – and even if I approach the idea of ‘peacemaking’ as a worthwhile endeavour on a federal scale – still I can see and hear nothing but (a) the laughter of the rest of the world as life imitates art, and (b) the ever-higher-licking flames of yet more piles of dollars burning on the altar of government expansion.

I mean, a new Cabinet department? Is Dennis on crack? Look what happened that last time we allowed that! Or am I wrong in thinking that the department of Homeland Security has not been a staggering success?

But allow me to suggest you read the full text for yourself. There’s some real gold in there: apparently animal welfare will fall within the Secretary of Peace’s purview, as will twinning US cities with places all over the world ‘for artistic, cultural, economic, educational, and faith-based exchanges.’

I think this bill needs renaming. It ought to be H.R. 808 The ‘Please, Jesus, Come Back and Make the World Happy’ Act of 2009.

UPDATE: Oh my… It gets even more sinister. This clause:

(7) create and establish a Peace Academy, which shall–

(A) be modeled after the military service academies; and

(B) provide a 4-year course of instruction in peace education, after which graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution

is just the creepy precursor to this insanity:

SEC. 104. OFFICE OF PEACE EDUCATION AND TRAINING.

(a) In General- There shall be in the Department an Office of Peace Education and Training, the head of which shall be the Assistant Secretary for Peace Education and Training. The Assistant Secretary for Peace Education and Training shall carry out those functions of the Department relating to the creation, encouragement, and impact of peace education and training at the elementary, secondary, university, and postgraduate levels, including the development of a Peace Academy.

(b) Peace Curriculum- The Assistant Secretary of Peace Education and Training, in cooperation with the Secretary of Education, shall support the dissemination and development of effective peace curricula and supporting materials for distribution to departments of education in each State and territory of the United States. The peace curriculum shall include the building of communicative peace skills, nonviolent conflict resolution skills, and other objectives to increase the knowledge of peace processes.

My hackles just don’t go any higher. Perhaps I have slipped into a late-night hallucinatory state, and this will all turn out to be a hideous figment of my imagination. I hope the HJC have enough sense to drown this bill like a sack of unwanted kittens.

[shivers with dread]

Sex ed for tinies

 argh, stupid-heads  Comments Off on Sex ed for tinies
Apr 282009
 

Via wh00ps, I find this story in the Times, about new curriculum guidelines for sex education. Oddly enough, the headline reads ‘Pupils aged 11 to learn about gay sex’ (a pathetic attempt to outrage and obfuscate if ever there was one), but the lead paragraph says:

Compulsory sex and relationships lessons for 11-year-old children are to include classroom discussions on gay unions and civil partnerships. Secondary pupils will learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while primary school children will learn about their bodies and friendships, a review of sex education has concluded.

So far, so good. Discussing contentious issues like same-sex relationships is something schools ought to do more of (although I have little hope that ‘discussions’ in this context means anything more than indoctrination and guilt-trips: 11-year-olds are particularly impressionable, and they will certainly absorb from authority figures simplistic ideas like ‘People who disapprove of homosexuality are eeeeeevil’) – and children should be taught about changing mores, because obviously learning about society is part of the process of maturation. Secondary pupils to be taught about STIs and contraception – fine, fine, get on with it: it’s about fucking time somebody threw contraception into the mix (see: the Fucking Stupid Initiative). And hey, why not teach little kids about friendships and bodies? It’d be pretty damned stupid to try to hide from them the fact that… they have friends and bodies.

But that first paragraph is about the sum total of sense in the whole article.

The review was ordered in October after ministers announced that sex and relationships education (SRE) lessons should be made compulsory to help primary and secondary pupils to “navigate the complexities of modern life” and to ensure that children learnt their sex education from the classroom, not the playground.

First of all, who is going to be teaching this stuff? Because if it’s people like me – and after all, I am a teacher – I could probably witter on about warm-fuzzy civil unions, the clap, and condoms as well as anybody else, but relationships? Not saying I’ve never had them, and not saying some of them haven’t been good. To use a simplistic example, however: that I have a foot (two of them, in fact) does not qualify me to teach podiatry students about feet. And believe me, a teenager is the equivalent of a podiatry student when it comes to relationships (so, at least, your average teenager will claim).

Anecdotal evidence: wildly off-topic in a class of 12-year-olds this afternoon, one pupil asked, ‘Men and women in relationships are always complaining about each other, so why don’t more of them go out with members of their own sex? It seems like it would solve a lot of problems.’

I was about to pontificate that same-sex couples do whinge about each other, all the time, when a different student butted in: ‘It’s not that men and women don’t get along. It’s that, when couples fail to compromise, they complain about each other. And because there are more heterosexual couples than not, their common complaints are more prominent.’

12-year-olds, people. They should be teaching me about relationships.

Second, whence comes this strange duality in the minds of policy-makers (and, apparently, Times reporters) that sex can be learned about from one of two places, the classroom or the playground? What in the name of bleeding Jesus do parents do in this country any more? They don’t educate their children about anything, so now the school must, in addition to taking on the fairly Herculean task of forcing academic information into the minds of youngsters, explain to the children how to be human beings, at the expense of the taxpayer. The state pays for the children’s upkeep in the form of child benefit, at the expense of the taxpayer. The state pays for and provides the child’s early learning, at the expense of the taxpayer (SureStart). Are there any parents out there reading this who would care to explain just what part of the upbringing process you did participate in?

Or perhaps this is the state’s usual practice of undermining the role of the parent in a youngster’s life. Contrary to what we might think, it is not the state that is the brainwasher of the youth, oh no, but the parents who, if left to their own devices, would raise a generation of racist, homophobic, fundamentalist-creationist-terrorist-fascist Nazi skinheads, the sheer chavvy-looniness of whom would quickly overrun the civilised world. Of course nobody learns about sex at home! All the parents are too busy urging Origen-style abstinence on the boys and showing the girls how to sew their vaginas closed because if they ever, ever, ever indulge in the natural human urge, let alone use contraception in the process, GOD WILL DESTROY THE EARTH! And then recreate it again in an instant so he can DESTROY IT A SECOND TIME! to punish humanity for its corrosive sexual immorality.

The changes to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) classes mark the culmination of decades of campaigning by sexual health organisations, who believe that the patchy nature of sex education in schools is helping to fuel a record level of teenage pregnancy and STIs in England.

I can tell you right now that these PSHE lessons are utterly useless. The pupils at my school loathe them. They are taught by middle-aged types whose knowledge of economics in particular wouldn’t fill a thimble, and whose own obvious personal, social, and health circumstances do not always inspire confidence or imitation (in the same manner as, for example, a poor stockbroker or a bent cop). So nobody listens.

However, poor sex ed is not the ‘fuel’ for Britain’s levels of teen pregnancy and STIs. The ‘fuel’ is a culture in which parents do not have to look after their children (and, therefore, do not have to think long and hard about whether or not to produce one) and healthcare is ‘free.’ Eliminate child benefit and charge people for visits to the GP (but keep funding contraception and abortion), and that teen-pregnancy-cum-disease-of-Venus level will plummet like Gordon Brown’s approval ratings.

Sexual health charities warned that allowing parents to opt out, even if it involved only a small number, was an infringement of young people’s rights. Julie Bentley, chief executive of fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said that while religion and sex education were not incompatible, schools should not be allowed to interpret the report “to mean they can tell young people, for example, that contraception isn’t a matter of choice – it is simply wrong”.

She added: “We would like further assurances that when SRE becomes statutory, all schools will teach it responsibly, ethically and factually as a core subject.”

Ponder the irony of Julie, who insists unequivocally that contraception is a matter of ‘choice’, saying so in the same breath as a reminder that, soon, sex ed will become statutory, i.e. not a matter of choice.

Some dude called Simon is a bit less dogmatic:

Simon Blake, national director of the sexual health charity Brook, said: “Young people need to understand the law – that you can get contraception, that you can have an abortion – and understand the health benefits of practising safer sex. It would not be right for anyone to tell them that this is wrong, but it is OK for them to be told that some people believe it is wrong.”

Thanks, Simon. Glad to know it’s ‘OK’ to tell children that some people disagree with the social engineers.

The Catholics are on side with my gripe about parents v. the state, as I knew they would be:

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales welcomed the opt-out. “This is a crucial right in a community where parents are the first educators of their children, because parents are responsible for bringing up their children, and not the State,” it said.

And yet, even for the Catholics, parents are only the ‘first educators of their children’ until they teach something out of line with Catholic dogma, e.g. the ability to prevent pregnancy humanely is the single most important development to enable women to progress along the path from property to personhood. (NB: dogma and doctrine are not the same thing.)

Finally:

Sir Alasdair [MacDonald] said that making PSHE compulsory would help the quality of teaching. “There is probably greater variability in teaching and learning in this subject than in most other subjects,” he said.

Wow. That has to be the first time anyone in the gravy train that passes for education administration has ever admitted that ‘greater variability in teaching and learning’ might actually ‘help the quality of teaching.’ Pity, then, that they continue to put would-be teachers through the automatonic, one-size-fits-all, routine torture of the PGCE. [UPDATE: No, just kidding. Clearly he is saying that making the subject compulsory will allow the government to standardise the teaching of it, thus decreasing that pesky ‘variability.’ Let this be a lesson to you all in reading the words of state mouthpieces optimistically. Cunts.]

Just proof that, apart from the bit contained in the decent lead paragraph, this whole ‘review’ (as well as the Times article) is a massive load of wasteful, nannying, pointless bollocks, dreamed up and lobbied for by fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association (clever re-branding there, no?) and Brook (fake charities, anyone?) to create make-work jobs advisory consultancies for their members and put a bunch of pushy lefty bastards right-on hipsters into cushy pensions teaching jobs that brainwash guide children in ‘navigating the bullshit complexities of a delusional socialist utopia modern life.’

[UPDATE 2: Brook is indeed a fake charity:

In fact, Brook has been doing rather well under New Labour. Its income from the government has doubled since 2004. Its 2008 accounts show a total income of £1,456,832, of which:

* Department of Health grant: £86,000
* ‘Other government grants': £433,517

* Total £519,517 (35.6% of all income)

It also received £534,259 in ‘other grants’. If, as is not unlikely, these grants emanated from local or central government, its total state funding would be at least 72%.

Ha!]

Mar 082009
 

Dennis, whilst ducking for metaphorical cover, accuses me in the comments of poor showing lately, and I must admit this is true. A backlog of tedious marking sapped most of my energy this week (although I did make a move into the GTD realm, which was oddly satisfying), the last of which was expended at a school charity event in which I competed for the three-legged race title with Mr Smug Git. (Yes, we won.)

As for the weekend, most of things that would have gotten my goat have been rather more ably ranted about by others, whose rage acts as a sort of catharsis, after the reading of which I feel like a boat that has passed through the rapids and now drifts lazily through shallow eddies: calm and purged of the evil humours, the recipient of successful emotional phlebotomy.

David Davis (no, not that one) at the Libertarian Alliance has flagged up a trio of AQA science GCSE papers, the questions on which make even me, with my liberal-arts mind, feel like a scientific genius. With my superior knowledge of the ins and outs of the public exam system in this day and age, I can reveal that after 12 March, the January 2009 papers will be available on the interwebs. I was fortunate enough to invigilate one of the biology papers, and thus I can provide a sneak preview of one or two of the questions therein:

Paper 1, Question 5 – Explain how agricultural activities are contributing to global warming.

Paper 2, Question 4 – Importing tomatoes may be more damaging to the environment than consuming tomatoes grown in Britain. Explain why.

I have it on good authority that even science teachers think this stuff is bollocks.

Next, Vindico has written an excellent post about Jade Goody as a bulwark against Marxism. She is indeed someone who has improved her circumstances in life, and without hypocrisy or the wibble that comes with following the state-prescribed Route Out of Poverty. Jade Goody is unapologetic and unashamed, and when people call her trashy, ugly, or unpleasant, a red haze of anger descends over my eyes. She is a human being – and no worse than most – and my regard for her includes empathetic horror, eye-watering pity, and the heart-wrenching fellow-feeling for a woman exactly my own age who is facing imminent non-existence. I cannot imagine anything worse, and I wouldn’t wish such an end on my worst enemy, let alone on a woman who has cleverly capitalised on the innate voyeurism of the British public to lift herself out of squalor and build herself and her children an enviable fortune.

Finally, the Devil levels blistering attacks upon, amongst others, Margot Wallstrom and Gordon Brown, essentially for their seeming inability to recognise that the realities inside their heads and outside them do not correspond. For all the fact that she is a woman herself, Margot has some damned funny ideas about women, and I object vociferously to her presumption to speak for us all. If I take what she says about women’s concerns at face value, I discover to my amazement that I am actually a man, caring nothing, as I do, for things like shared wealth and the preservation of the environment. She stands for all that I hate about the feminist movement: namely, this idea that women deserve some sort of special treatment to make up for the fact that they are women. Fuck that. If feminism has any legitimate goal, it should be that women are treated as human beings, with all of the attendant rights and liberties that any human being deserves. Continuing to differentiate us as a group and using that differentiation as an excuse to deprive other people of their rights and liberties is not only counter-productive, but insidiously evil.

Upon Gordon Brown’s delusions I shall not comment; the Devil has already done so, and with better invective than I could hope to produce.

On a different note, there is this theory tiptoeing around the blogosphere that the government wants us to riot this summer so that they can invoke the Civil Contingencies Act. There is some proof that the inflammatory baiting of our dear leaders is having an effect; I report a conversation witnessed on Facebook, of all places:

Status: John proposes a medieval-style riot in which we lynch the bankers (this must not, repeat not, turn into a pogrom).

Commenter: Hmph. That’s exactly what the government wants you to do.

John: By God, I’ve been programmed. I knew I should have worn the tin-foil hat. KILL THE BANKERS. KILL THE BANKERS. SPARE THE BUREAUCRATS (who do a difficult job in trying circumstances). I’m just a drone controlled by The Man. Tragic.

Yup – there’s the problem with all of us, right there: not enough love for the bureaucrats, who do a difficult job in trying circumstances. Send the love, y’all! They work their asses off, 10-4, four days a week, to fix the mess we’ve made. While you’re at it, why not pick your own bureaucrat to sponsor and send him (or, more likely, her) a nice fruit basket?

Jesus.

Mar 012009
 

An Act to make provision for and about the temporary and specific waiver of contract law, the acquisition and nationalisation of pension funds relating to Sir Fred Goodwin, the carrying out of deprivation, the use of executive power and the acquisition of the means by which Sir Fred Goodwin was to be compensated; to provide for Commissioners and a tribunal of public opinion with functions and jurisdiction in relation to those matters, to the seizure of any and all such funds and related funds as unwarranted remuneration of failure, incompetence, and general arrogance; and for connected purposes.

[2nd March 2009]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—