Friday, 29 January 2010

A joke from HMRC?

Following an undertaking given by Ministers the draft regulations included an exemption from online filing where all directors of a company or members of an unincorporated association are members of a religious society whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications.
HMCE_PROD1_030121 - "HMRC Carter Programme – Compulsory online filing of Company Tax Returns and electronic payment of Corporation Tax – consultation on draft amendment regulations"
Now if only I could find a religion whose beliefs are incompatible with the payment of tax!

The cost of diversity

From Jeff Randal, "Quangos are a luxury we don't need, and certainly can't afford":

But what about the Film Council's head of diversity? ... How much are we paying for someone who can "make things happen" rather than just "talking the talk"? What's the price for "improving diversity", ie lavishing political correctness on a creative industry? £40k? £50k? Keep going. The answer is £70k, plus benefits.
One by one, Labour's illusions are being dispelled. We cannot incentivise idleness and expect it to diminish. We cannot spend more than we earn and expect to become richer. We cannot borrow more than is affordable and expect to remain solvent. We cannot import millions of economic migrants and expect higher wages for low-paid workers. We cannot run a non-selective state education system and expect its output to waltz into Oxbridge. We cannot dumb down academic standards and expect employers not to notice. In short, we cannot cheat our way to sustainable prosperity.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

Thanks to James Bartholomew for highlighting Dan Hannan's classic attack on Gordon Brown, which I hadn't seen:

My favourite bit comes at 2:11
In the last twelve months, a hundred thousand private sector jobs have been lost, and yet you created thirty thousand public sector jobs. Prime Minister, you cannot carry on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Equality or meritocracy?

According to a recent BBC News article, Equalities Minister Harriet Harman has stressed the importance of tackling inequality "for the sake of a strong and meritocratic economy".

She has commissioned a report entitled "An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK".

While it is true that in a meritocratic society we would expect to see smaller gaps between those from different social backgrounds, the socialist dream of equality is the antithesis of meritocracy. People are naturally unequal, both in their talents and in their industriousness. Welfare handouts and rhetoric about "disadvantaged classes" do not promote aspiration; they simply reinforce feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Comprehensive schooling, which disregards differences in ability, only serves to keep down the talented among those who cannot afford private education. If New Labour truly believed in meritocracy, we would have seen very different policies over the last 12 years.

As Tom Paine puts it:
A rational society strives for quality, not equality. It strives to give those who have talent the maximum incentive to deploy it. A vibrant society that efficiently harnesses the energies of its most talented members is a richer society overall. The creations of the creative and the output of the industrious may fill their bank accounts more than others, but their effort benefits all. The corollary of that is that the idleness of others, costs everyone. A rational society therefore incentivises effort and never rewards idleness. In pursuit of the chimera of "equality" Britain has adopted precisely the opposite approach. Now we can see that, even in its own terms, it doesn't work.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


We will have to wait until 2073 to know the truth about the death of Dr David Kelly, the UN weapons inspector who allegedly slit his wrists in the woods near his home, days after being revealed as the source for a BBC report on Blair's "dodgy dossier".

Tom Paine summed up my thoughts exactly:

I have resisted speculating about the death of Dr David Kelly. Largely because I am generally a sceptic when it comes to conspiracy theories. If I ever find myself considering one, I am usually put off by the wild-eyed company in which I find myself. So, I am still not suggesting that anyone in government ordered his murder. I have no evidence to substantiate such an accusation and, to be honest, I don't want to believe such things could happen in my country.

I am racking my brains, however, to conceive of a good alternative explanation as to why all records pertaining to Kelly's death have been sealed for 70 years. What legitimate purpose could such an order possibly serve? I really can't imagine.

If I live to see 2073, I will be in my 90s. If blogging is still allowed, I'll post an update.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Himalayan glaciers: gone by 2035?

Back in 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its Fourth Assessment Report, which contained an extraordinary claim:
Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world ... and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005)
Two years later, this doomsday scenario was questioned in a report by an Indian geologist, supported by India's environment minister. The report was met with scorn by IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri:
"We have a very clear idea of what is happening. I don't know why the minister is supporting this unsubstantiated research. It is an extremely arrogant statement."

"With the greatest of respect this guy retired years ago and I find it totally baffling that he comes out and throws out everything that has been established years ago."
According to The Guardian
Pachauri dismissed the report saying it was not "peer reviewed" and had few "scientific citations".
According to the BBC
Mr Pachauri dismissed the study as "voodoo science" and said the IPCC was a "sober body" whose work was verified by governments.
The truth about this "sober body" is now starting to emerge. According to The Register
It now turns out the 2035 claim has no scientific basis at all - but was an off-the-cuff remark by an obscure Indian scientist who now disowns the prediction. It was made not in the scientific literature, but a telephone interview with a pro-warming journalist Fred Pearce of the New Scientist for a news item in the magazine in 1999. The IPCC picked up the spurious factoid after it was cited in a propaganda publication by eco-group the World Wildlife Fund. (WWF).

And now the IPCC editor responsible for the chapter sheepishly admits he doesn't know anything about glaciers.
The BBC article highlights another possible source for the 2035 claim:
Professor Cogley has found a 1996 document by a leading hydrologist, VM Kotlyakov, that mentions 2350 as the year by which there will be massive and precipitate melting of glaciers.

"The extrapolar glaciation of the Earth will be decaying at rapid, catastrophic rates - its total area will shrink from 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometres by the year 2350," Mr Kotlyakov's report said.

Mr Cogley says it is astonishing that none of the 10 authors of the 2007 IPCC report could spot the error and "misread 2350 as 2035".

Astonishing indeed.