Saturday, 24 March 2012

Cameron: such a twat

From the Telegraph
When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in a pub.
There you have it folks, the neo-prohibitionist groups that are funded by government get their dishonest message repeated by government. The neo-prohibitionists have used exactly this line, despite the fact that it is completely factually incorrect.

We can now categorically state how fake charities work:-

1. Someone creates a pressure group. Calls it a charity.
2. Political party in power thinks it's an excellent idea and funds them to keep doing it.
3. Charity gets to repeatedly spread the message, throwing money at PR while enjoying the "good guy" status of being called a charity (while not being so).
4. Charity can make a load of foul-ups while remaining distant from damaging the government. If they really foul up, the government can just drop funding.
5. Once government feels they can sell the public the policy, once the fake charity lies have been repeated enough or have been tweaked enough, they do so.

That's why I'm so against fake charities. If there are things the state needs to do, they should properly be called government departments, subject to Freedom of Information act requests and people should be clearly aware that the government wants these things done.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

National Death Service

To every lazy, incompetent nurse, doctor and manager in the NHS: we've got your number and the public will soon see how your scare tactics were just to protect you, not them.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Heritage Crimes

From the Daily Mail:-
England's most precious historic buildings are being hit by more than 200 crimes a day, it was revealed.
A study by English Heritage found churches and other religious buildings were the most affected, with more than a third left damaged.
Metal theft in the face of rising global prices is the single biggest problem facing old buildings, particularly places of worship, with one in seven churches damaged by having materials such as lead stolen from them last year.
In one case reported in the survey, a church in Hampshire saw its organ ruined by water leaks after thieves repeatedly stole metal from the roof.
The trouble is that "heritage" itself is most of the cause of this. The most vandalised building I know is listed, and that's because it's empty, and it's empty because the owner can't make a business from the building, and he can't make a business from the building because he can't get planning permission to change it.

Churches get vandalised because to change to a material that isn't going to get pinched (like slate) requires planning permission.

We have more than enough "heritage" that is owned by the nation from Anne Hathaway's house to Stonehenge to the Tower of London. Having some buildings modernised would not destroy our way of life - it would improve it. We should simply end the whole Listed Buildings thing.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Let's Get More Futile Gestures

From the Sun

GEORGE Osborne has vowed to put futile gestures for working people at the heart of his Budget — and to hope that something magical occurs.

The Chancellor will make some gestures about getting rid of red tape, most of which is now imposed by the EU and which he actually can't do anything about.

Mr Osborne will make some gestures about "tearing up rules and regulations driving new businesses abroad", despite the fact that most of these also come from the EU.

But as well as making gestures about creating jobs, he also wants to make gestures about helping families on low pay.
  • Some gesture schemes that will funnel people through work agencies at a large cost into the same jobs they would have got if they'd simply looked in the small ads of the Thursday newspaper.
  • Some gesture rewards to hard working families, resulting in a pittance in their pockets.
  • A gesture about cutting the borrowing and paying off the debt, while not actually cutting it at all, but simply increasing spending less quickly.
  • A gesture to well-meaning simpletons about helping the armed forces that will be transparently nothing more than a token amount of help.
Mr Osborne said "We've got to create some good headlines for the people who think we're serious about this stuff, while doing nothing to rock the boat".

The Chancellor believes that producing these gestures can make a crucial difference. Sitting in his office in the Treasury, he went on: "What you are going to see next week is a Budget that ticks all the right boxes that I keep the Daily Telegraph and the Sun on side while making little difference to the incentives to work".

"it's very important that we keep those people on side"

"I have to at this point make some sort of gesture to show I'm in touch with the common man by talking about a fictional person that Steve Hilton imagined, to cover over the fact that I was born into wealth and have never worked more than a summer in the private sector in my life".

"My gesture is something about helping the working person more than the person living next door on benefits, despite the fact that we simply won't have the balls to deliver it".

Mr Osborne will also make some gestures about planning reform, despite the fact that his party doesn't want to do too much about that as it will piss off the homeownerists.

He also made some vague noises about cutting fuel duty which is designed to make car owners think he's on their side while having absolutely no intention of changing it.

Movie Production Subsidies

I'm generally not in favour of subsidies for trivial things. If you want to go and watch the opera (and I do*), you can pay for the theatre, set designers, sopranos, tenors and orchestras from your own money.

That said, on the subject of movie production subsidies, I think there's often a good case for them which is kinda explained by The Thought Gang over at Worstall's place:-
If we didn’t have special treatment for films, would they have been filmed here at all and, so, rather than support for the movie industry being an example of the state getting involved in things that the state should not get involved in.. is it an example of the state lessening a tax burden and, consequently, encouraging tax-positive activity which, otherwise, would have happened elsewhere.

Exactly. Want to make a film of Wuthering Heights, showing people out on windy moors? You can film it in England, Scotland, Ireland and probably a few places around the world. Kill Bill was largely filmed in China, Rumble in the Bronx in Vancouver and most bizarrely, Full Metal Jacket was filmed at Beckton Gas Works.

So, let's say you pay a million out in subsidy to a JK Rowling film to be filmed here rather than somewhere else. What's the benefits? Well, they're more likely to hire local crew, local actors, all of whom then have to stay near the shoot, get fed. Then there's the tourist angle. Lacock's always had a lot of vistors but the Harry Potter angle has brought even more people in. Tourism in New Zealand overtook agriculture after Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But, I'm not sure that subsidies are actually the solution to the problem of production companies choosing between different places. To somewhat echo The Thought Gang's point, they simply fix a problem elsewhere in the tax system that raises our costs. It's far better to get to the root of the problem. Lower the tax burden on work (perhaps by switching to LVT but also reforming the state) and you don't need a subsidy as the cost of hiring people will be less.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

CAMRA get it wrong... again

From the FT
Jon Mail, Camra’s head of public affairs, said pubs had been hit by “a triple whammy” of an increase in beer duty, competition from supermarkets and large pub companies selling beer to their tenants at above-market prices.
“We had been hoping for an improvement but the figures highlight how pubs have really struggled in the last six months,” he said. “High street pubs are still benefiting from people drinking after work but in terms of the suburbs people are going to the supermarket as a cheaper alternative.”
1. Beer duty rose by 4p last year. That's uniform - it affects both supermarkets and pubs.
2. Alcohol has been cheaper at supermarkets for decades, considerably so.
3. Pubcos have always sold beer to their tenants at above market prices.

The thing with town centre pubs is about 2 things. Partly it's a drink after work, which really can't be replaced with "let's all go back to mine". But it's also about people going out on the pull. You simply can't replace going to a pub with anything else if you want to meet a stranger whose pants you want to get into. Rural pubs have suffered because they don't offer this. Jethro and Seth can quite easily decide to go to each others houses instead of going to the pub.

What CAMRA fails to understand is that people never went to the pub to drink. They go for the service on offer, which is mostly social, and the smoking ban wrecked that. If I go to the pub with 2 of my mates, We're rarely all sat at the table - one of them is out having a smoke. It's just easier (and cheaper) to go to their house.

Almost every pub closure I've seen is down to the smoking ban. If people aren't going on the pull to your pub, you don't have a pub garden and you aren't offering food then you're probably dead, or dying.