Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Yemen Terror Plot

As more and more information is revealed, it is looking like this Yemen scare yesterday was some really serious stuff.  Initially it was perceived as a dry run, but now it is looking like there was some explosive devices on board these jets.

Therefore it is difficult to say that the attack "failed" in the traditional sense of the word - because when terrorists get explosives on to a plane, they have essentially succeeded in one sense.  They may not have succeeded in their ultimate motives, which was to blow up Jewish centres of worship, but they have succeeded to get explosives on jets, which is a real problem.

My intention in making this point is not to criticise intelligence, quite the opposite - they did a great job.  But it shows once again how important Anglo-American relations are.  The Chicago bound jet was stopped in London, plus an additional jet was stopped at East Midlands Airport in England.  Many flights from these extremist areas stop in some part of England to refuel and then move on to America.  If both British and American intelligence organisations are working together, then they can stop a great many of these attempts before they cause a problem.

Therefore, as voters prepare to enter the voting booth on Tuesday evening, they shouldn't discount the role that Anglo-American relations play in keeping both Britain and America safe.  They should therefore remember which party it is that has been putting Anglo-American relations on ice since they gained the Presidency in 2009.

The only way we can prevent a great deal of these attacks is by international collaboration.  While Obama et al may (rightly) be focusing to a large degree on keeping relations good with the government of Yemen, and the Pakistani authorities etc, he should also look closer to home, to the ally who he has been constantly rejecting since he became President.  His country's security depends on it.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Britain is Losing its Nerve

I told you this wouldn't last long.....

I predicted last week that the announced spending cuts would very quickly be challenged, and soon the government would fall to pieces over it.  In fairness to David Cameron, a week later he is still staying strong, but there are members of his party who are trickling off.  One of the more "controversial" announcements is that housing benefit is to be capped at £400 a week for a family of four.

Despite the fact that this amounts to over £20,000 a year of untaxed housing benefits, the left are still bitching.  Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee said last week that this amounts to nothing less than "a final solution" for the poor, stating that poor people will be "driven out" of nice areas, into squalor and poverty where there are no jobs.  The association with the Holocaust is obvious, and disgusting.

It is also complete nonsense.  £20+K in housing benefits (approx $30K) is a high figure.  It is more than a great deal of people who aren't on housing benefits can afford.  Why should taxpayers pay poor people to live in houses that they themselves cannot afford?  It is nonsense, and the facts get in the way of the leftists fear-mongering, and that is why they scream all the louder to drown out the facts.  All that was necessary was for the government to stand behind their decision, wait for the screaming to die out, and explain just why this was an unfair system, and why it was necessary for it to be reformed.  That was, unless a particular mayor is up for re-election and is a complete coward.

Enter London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is up for re-election very soon.  If you are not familiar with Mr Johnson, he is an extremely popular Conservative MP, who is popular mainly because he occasionally says outrageous things, or appears on a comedy show and makes jokes.  His policies and beliefs however change with whatever the new of the day is.  Occasionally he will look like a hard-right Tory, other days like a socialist nut job.

Today it is the latter, and he has thrown the government under the bus, claiming that he would make sure that "Kosovo style social cleansing" would not happen in London.  Since then he has backtracked and claimed he had been quoted out of context, claiming that he actually does accept the cuts.  I don't believe him, and even if I do, his statement is still insensitive as well as idiotic.  I have listened to what he has said, and he is going along 100% with the line that these cuts are brutal and therefore needs extra interference from him so it doesn't result in social cleansing.

The problem with Boris is that, whether he does believe in the cuts or not, he has gone along with the left-wing narrative.  That narrative is that these cuts will be brutal and unfair, and if we don't do something, the result will be horrific.  Johnson may argue that they are necessary, but he is trying to be a moderate, and accepts that these cuts are unjust and harsh.  What he should have done was hold the line and say that spending a stunning £400 a week on a family on housing benefits is outrageous and needs altering immediately, whether there is a deficit or not.  The debt only makes them more urgent.

He has not done this, and has instead put the government on the defensive, he has given momentum to the opposition.  We should be arguing not that "well, we have to do it", but "this is the just thing to do as it is unfair to the taxpayer, and not good for society to be handing out enormous benefits."  By wussing out of this, Johnson has put conservatives into great difficulty.  He should focus less on his own career, and more on the good of the country.

Conservatives need to stay strong, but at the moment we are crumbling.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Less than a week to go - Remember November

It's all getting very exciting in America.  Less than a week to go until the Republicans storm the House and Senate.  I'm not sure whether the GOP will gain the Senate, but I don't believe that the House is really in doubt.  It will be a massive rebuke to the Obama agenda, and will hopefully cripple it permanently.

But now is not the time to get soft.  We need to keep going, not getting complacent, not doing anything stupid.  This goes for the next week.  Those seats in a toss up can still be won and lost.  This will be a hammering, the only question is how much of a hammering will it be?

If you need some inspiration - take a look at this video, got to love American politics!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

In Stockport, England - Liberal Democrats Bow to Islam.....Again!

Let's get this out of the way first.  This story has very little do with Muslims and a LOT to do with the left.

In my hometown of Stockport, England, there is a small business - a sandwich shop called "Beverley's Snack Shack."  The place has been there in one way or another since 2002, but now it is under attack.

There is no doubt that living near a sandwich shop that serves hot food can be unpleasant at times.  Anywhere that cooks food will have some sort of smell coming out of it, and that smell will not always be a pleasant one!  These factors are always considered whenever planning permission is given for a place of business such as this, and when any extensions are made to the business.  Conversely, it is also taken into account when house prices are considered - so someone buying a residence near a place where food is professionally cooked will almost certainly pay a lower price for the property than they would if the restaurant or shop did not exist.  Therefore, the free market allows prospective buyers to place a value on the inconvenience and work out whether the asking price matches compensates enough for that inconvenience and/or discomfort.  So a £160,000 home may sell for $120,000 if there is a strong smell coming from next door.  The prospective buyer has to work out if that added inconvenience of the smell is worth £40,000.  If it is, they buy the house, if not they go elsewhere.

This is what has happened in Shaw Heath in Stockport.  Yet, with the basic replacement of an extractor fan, the next door neighbours to the "Snack Shack" have complained about the smell.  This case would of course not be a case - they knew the risks, they knew the smell, and the replacement of a fan does not alter that.

However, the next door neighbours have been sneaky, and made a political statement that would set alarm bells ringing in the heads of the Stockport Council - a Council which is dominated by the hard-left Liberal Democrats.   The neighbours wisely stated that the smell of bacon was offending Muslim visitors to the house.

Of course, this pushed the panic button in the Chambers of Stockport Borough Council, who immediately retroactively denied the restaurant permission for the fan (can you even do that?) meaning that the store has had to remove the fan.  I am not sure how the business is now operating, but Stockport is an area that was hard hit by the recession, sandwich shops are not exactly corporations and I wouldn't be at all surprised if this decision is not making it extremely difficult for them to stay in business.  Over-sensitive lefties have attacked a hard-working business just on the basis that they might have inconvenienced the most protected group in our society.

Once again it shows that the Left always respond whenever Muslims are seen to be offended - even those who might only be a visitor to somewhere once every blue moon.  We have seen it in the last week with the firing of Juan Williams at NPR, and we see it on a daily basis all over the world - the Left are absolutely terrified of offending Islam in even the most minor way.  The left have no problem putting Christians and other groups through the mill and making all sorts of hateful comments about them, but offend a Muslim even accidentally, and it is as if the world is going to cave in.

This isn't just political correctness, it is cowardice.  These people are sensitive to Islam because they are scared of its radical elements getting angry.  The whole left-wing approach to radical Islam has been to lay down and surrender until they are no longer angry with us, and this has been extended to all Islam.  It is time for this to stop!  It is not Islam that is the problem, it is the left who mollycoddle Muslims as perpetual victims that are the problem.  Do they really believe that this will lead to greater integration in our society?  Do they not see that it will lead to anger, intolerance and divided communities, as it has done already?

Everyone must be treated equally under the law in a civilised democracy - special exceptions made to so-called "persecuted" groups is not the answer.  It also sends a message to radical Islam that there methods are working, as our politicians are bending over backwards to meet their every need, all out of fear.

So, if you live in Stockport - go to Beverley's Snack Shack and buy 10 bacon butties......EACH!!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Time for Britain to Stand Up Against Wikileaks

So, Wikileaks have done it again!  The hard-left, anti-war, terror-loving lunatics have somehow managed to unearth over 400,000 classified US documents, and as their name suggests, they have leaked them.  The security implications of these leaks for the US are huge.

The fact that the left-wing media in America and Britain isn't united in disgust at these leaks tells us a lot about their own attitude to the war and to their national security.  If left-wing media outlets such as The Guardian and The New York Times didn't publish these leaks, then there wouldn't be much of a story.  It would still be a danger, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as bad.  This isn't a First Amendment thing, this is a personal responsibility issue.  NYT etc have not shown any responsibility.

Yes, the Iraq war is over, but there is a lot that still should not be being released.  This isn't like revealing stuff about the Korean War or whatever, the situation in Iraq is still current, and those at Wikileaks have endangered people just to advance their petty political agenda.

These points are not unique and will be repeated ad nauseam over the next few days.  The point I wish to make is that we Brits should be offended by this as well.  Britain was a central figure in the War in Iraq, and a security breach against America very quickly becomes a security breach against Britain as well.

As a result, Britain shouldn't let America fight these loons on their own.  David Cameron or William Hague should be out first thing tomorrow condemning this outright.  They should state that this put lives at risk, both Iraqi lives and British lives as well as American lives.  Finally, they should tell the public just how damaging security breaches are, and make it clear that this sort of childish, but dangerous behaviour will not be accepted, and that the British government will seek prosecution of these morons.

Wikileaks are beginning to turn this sort of dangerous tactic into a regular occurrence, and both Britain and America have to stop it as soon as possible. The security of Iraq, Britain and America depends on it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Obama and Clinton's Betrayal of an Ally

My latest article is out in The American Thinker today.  It focuses again on Anglo-American affairs, this time on the spending cuts going on in Great Britain, and how the defence cuts have been made worse by the anti-British attitudes of Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration.

It aims to show how the Obama Administration has sidelined Great Britain, labelling us a second rate power and nothing special, and that as a result, Britain has started acting like a second rate power.  So, when Hillary Clinton starts moaning that our defence cuts are going to damage our contributions to NATO, she has only herself and her administration to blame.

Britain should not have cut their defence spending by 8%, but the Coalition have only been able to do that because the conservative right in Great Britain have lost the argument when it comes to Britain being a first-rate power.  Part of this defeat has come down to the fact that we are no longer able to display our relationship with America.  How can we claim a Special Relationship with America, when the Obama Administration is denying that the relationship ever existed?

Anyway, the article can be found here.

The Only Word We Should Hear From Labour is "Sorry".

Jeff Randall leads The Daily Telegraph today with a scathing criticism of the Labour Party - a party that is currently trying to hurl blame onto the Coalition for the current spending cuts, despite Labour being responsible for putting us into ridiculous levels of debt in the first place.  Randall points to the incredible hypocrisy of Labour who, having spent and spent and spent the country into near oblivion, now turn around and criticise the spending cuts as "harsh" and moan about how it is going to affect the poor, and limit services etc.

Now apart from the fact that the cuts cannot significantly hurt the poor and drag us down into a Dickensian nightmare, because we will still be spending hundreds and hundreds and billions of pounds (well over a trillion dollars for my American friends) on services and welfare etc, it is also a bit rich for Labour to moan about it, even if that was the case.  Why? 

Well, as Randall's article shows, public spending grew by a stunning 50% in real terms under the Labout government!  This rise in spending is Obama-like in both its scale and its destructiveness.  It left us wide open to get nailed by a recession, and sure enough that is exactly what happened in 2008.  They can try and blame "the bankers" all they want, but the fact still remains that Britain was ridiculously unhealthy economically when the recession hit, which then only made things much worse.

As I have said in my previous post, I do not fully agree with the distribution of the spending cuts, but there is no argument that spending cuts were absolutely 100% necessary.  Britain could still double-dip, it could still go bankrupt.  Britain is not out of this crisis yet, and yet Labour still argue that the Coalition is doing too much!!  It really is quite incredible.  They have destroyed business, wrecked the economy, seen our unemployment rate soar and made Britain the sick man of Europe once again - and yet they still don't seem to acknowledge that there is a problem, or that they are the primary figures responsible.

If there was any justification in the world, the only thing we would have heard yesterday from the Labour benches would have been "Sorry about the mess we have caused."  Of course, that didn't happen - all we heard was a mix of mockery of the Tories, and hand-wringing about the "poor and the vulnerable." 

Well, Mr Miliband and Mr Johnson, if government spending is so damn good, and your government was such a great bloody success, would you care to inform me why, after a 50% rise in public spending in real terms, that we even have any poor people?  With all that spending on "poverty" and welfare, shouldn't we have abolished poverty?  Shouldn't we all be living in some sort of healthcare/housing/public services paradise?  Wasn't that the whole reason for all these stupid programmes and schemes that drove us into economic suicide in the first place?!

Of course, we are not living in a welfare paradise, because government spending wrecks economies and lives, it does not fix them.  That is exactly what Britain has discovered in the last 13 years of a Labour government, and it is now time to make it right.  However, it needs the current Coalition to put forward the case for low tax, low spending, small government, or the chance will be wasted, and Labour will capitalise on this ridiculous situation.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Britain's Spending Cuts - Inconsistent!

With France having exploded into rioting over the last week over the extension of the retirement age from 60 to 62, we have seen similar outrage today in Britain as Chancellor George Osborne has announced what are, for the most part, pretty meagre cuts.

Do not be mistaken by the Left's rhetoric, these spending cuts are not strong enough, but they are a start.  The Financial Times for instance is trying to paint these as some sort of mega cuts, but 4.5% cut over 5 years isn't exactly earth-shattering  But, with a strong left-wing movement in Britain, as well as the hard left Liberal Democrats having significant influence in the new government, the current cuts are really all that are politically feasible.  And I believe that on the whole, these cuts will work out well for the Coalition.  It will restore at least some confidence to the markets, and possibly to job creators too, in spite of the tax increases that will hit over the next few years.  Personally, I would have liked to see more cuts to welfare, cuts and reform to the NHS (which has remained untouched), less cuts to the military and less tax increases (which will only prevent growth).

I have an article coming out over the next few days which specifically cover the military cuts, but in the mean time I would like to focus on something that caught my eye that not many media outlets have picked up on.  We have seen that NHS spending has been ring fenced, and this has been debated by many.  But, today it was announced that International Aid has been increased by a stunning 33% and Climate Change funding (whatever the hell that consists of) has been increased by a hefty 18% - you can find an easy to read graph of all the cuts etc here.

Now, I'd be pretty annoyed had they not been cut, but for the budgets to be increased!?  It is quite clear that this is a total fop to the Liberal Democrats.  No conservative with any understanding of immigration would support a massive international aid budget.  The only way to get countries out of poverty is to encourage market growth, not to support big government programs and fund state sponsored dictatorships.  There is no country that has been lifted out of poverty by international aid, not one.  In addition, when you are giving some of that aid to India - a nation that has its very own nuclear weapons program - you know your policy is broken.  Yet this is not being tackled.

Climate Change - well, unfortunately, whether or not you believe in Climate Change or not, this is nothing more than economic stimulus for supposed "green jobs".  As we have seen in both America and Britain, this doesn't work.  True green jobs, like almost every job, is created by the private sector, not by tax and spend policies subsidising pointless industries.  Again, conservatives know this, left-wingers don't, so why on Earth have we increased the budget?

The spending cuts tell us a lot about the strength of this coalition.  It shows that they have managed to get spending cuts through, but they have had a hell of a lot of compromises to make to the left in order to get them through.  Increases in Climate Change budgets and International aid are enormous concessions, as are enormous cuts to the military budget.  In addition, even with these moderate spending cuts, we are beginning to see a massive backlash from vested interests in the unions and public sector - it is not going to be easy

If the Coalition wants to try and push forward a conservative agenda that is going to put Britain back on the right track (so to speak), it is going to have to fight tooth and nail for it, and with the gaggle of "centrist" Tories and hard-left Liberal Democrats, I just can't see how they are going to do that.  

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Milton Friedman - still relevant today!

I love the work of Milton Friedman, and think he has become more relevant in the Obama years in America than perhaps he ever was during his lifetime.  The Nobel Prize winning economist was a continual advocate for smaller government, lower taxes and freer markets - and would put his arguments forth in a way that could rarely be combated by his opponents.  I have yet to see anyone take on Milton Friedman in a debate and win.

As a result, I have found some of his work on LibertyPen, a great YouTube site, full of conservative and libertarian videos.  This one is a great example of the work of Friedman, where he goes into a University, and answers the many questions that the (often) left-wing students have about his work.  The crowd is quite rowdy but it is clear that many are gobsmacked by his arguments, and a greater number are entirely convinced.  An example can be found below.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Falkland Wars - part II

So, the Argentinians are at it again.  Corrupt socialist Evita wannabe - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - has been eyeing up the Falkland Islands to prop up her general unpopularity amongst everyone except American left-wingers.  Just like Galtieri invaded the Falklands in the 1980's as the popularity of his military junta was at a low, it is no coincidence that Kirchner has picked now as her time to start aggressive posturing.

The Falkland Islands debate is one that is entirely false.  The lands are British, and have always been British, with a brief period of Spanish occupation - Argentina has never owned the Falklands, and their only claim to it is that they are near to it, and therefore deserve them.  A nonsensical argument - imagine if every country did this!  Would America try and claim Canada?  Would Britain try and claim France again?  Well, Britain discovered the Falkland Islands in 1690, and has owned them constantly since 1833, so Argentina will have to come up with a lot better than that.

What the incident does do, amongst other things, is show exactly why Britain needs a good Navy.  The Falklands are ours, and despite the squeals of the left-wing, we must defend them - not just because they are sovereign British lands, but also because the citizens of the Falklands overwhelmingly want to remain British.

In this era of cuts, when there is a lot of pressure from the Left for us to focus on defence cuts instead of welfare and social program cuts, this should be a reminder as to why we need a Navy, and an Army etc.  It isn't there just to deal with pockets of radical Islam - it is there to defend our territories against hostile nations if and when we need them.

The Argentina situation is one to keep an eye on.  America has backed down from supporting us in this with the Obama administration coming to power, and we may have to fight this one on our own if it ever comes to it.  But if it does come to it, then we need to guts, and the resources to defend our territory, and the people who live on them.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Claire Berlinski - "There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters"

About a year ago, I picked up a book on one of my favourite politicians - Margaret Thatcher.  The author - Claire Berlinski - was not a name I had heard of, and yet the book intrigued me enough to purchase it.  What is so intriguing about the book, which is called "There is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters", is that it is not simply another dry biography of the Iron Lady.

Thatcher is not treated as "just" another Prime Minister by Berlinski, but instead as someone whose life and philosophy had far-reaching consequences, consequences that should still challenge us today, especially in Britain.  It examines Thatcher's philosophy, her achievements, as well as the context in which such decisions are made as well as the background of her enemies such as Arthur Scargill.  The book is very readable - I read it in two sittings in which I wrote and highlighted all through it - and extremely exciting, as well as being well-researched and fair (don't be mistaken - this is not hagiography by any stretch).

I would recommend it highly, and if anyone who wanted a good book on Margaret Thatcher, this would be number one on my recommendation list without a shadow of a doubt.  It is for this reason that you will find it in the Amazon store linked to on the side-bar of this blog!

In addition to this, Berlinski was recently a guest on one of my favourite shows - Uncommon Knowledge - which frequently invites important conservative thinkers for a detailed interview about the authors knowledge of a certain subject.  So Berlinski is asked not only about Thatcher, but also about the role of Turkey in the modern world, and also the question of radical Islam.  I would therefore recommend this latest episode of Uncommon Knowledge and therefore I link to it on this post.  If it inspires you to buy the book, then please do so - you will not regret it!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Left's Terror Folly

My latest article in the American Thinker was out yesterday.  It focuses on the myth that Islamic anger is somehow isolated to American foreign policy.  This myth infects the policies of the Obama Administration and various European governments.  However it has been blown to pieces by the latest attempted terrorist attacks in Europe, which  targeted countries that did not follow Bush's foreign policy.  This has significance for the left's understanding of the future of foreign policy.

The article can be found here.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The New Christine O'Donnell Ad - Perfection!

A number of people have drawn attention to the latest Christine O'Donnell ad, and I thought I'd throw out my thoughts on the issue.

If you are one of the British readers on this blog, you might not know who Christine O'Donnell is.  Basically, she is the Republican Party Senate candidate for Delaware in the upcoming November elections.  By nominating the very conservative O'Donnell in the primaries (backed as the Tea Party candidate), the Republican voters overthrew so-called 'moderate' Republican Mike Castle in the biggest upset of the primary season.  Castle was seen as a dead cert to win if he had received the nomination, and because she is so conservative, O'Donnell is perceived to be less likely to win in what is a relatively liberal state, but if she wins, she is going to make more of a difference than a Mike Castle ever would.  With the Senate race being so tight, O'Donnell's defeat or victory may make or break the Republican chances of winning a majority in the Senate this November.  It has therefore received huge amounts of media coverage, mostly negative from left-wing sources trying to perform a hatchet job.

Since her nomination, O'Donnell has been subject to some outrageous smears.  The typical ones are obvious - she is an "extreme" right-wing nutjob (cut spending??  How dare she?), she is stupid, an idiot, etc etc.  Her enemies have also focused on a few videos of her in her younger days when she talks about her Christian faith - she mentions in one that she thinks masturbation is a sin, and in another one she talks about how when much younger she had flirted with witchcraft, before she converted to Christianity.  As a result she is being labelled a sexually repressed witch!  The witch smear seems especially amusing as they are trying to say that she is both a witch and a right-wing Christian!  Note to the left: She can't be both!

I don't know a great deal about her personality, but whenever I have seen her she always seems like a very pleasant young woman who is genuinely in the race to make a difference, not to be a careerist, and someone who will stick to her principles - exactly the sort of person we need in Washington.  With all the attempts to brand her an extremist nutjob with weird beliefs, her policies are simple - cutting spending and taxes are the big two, but also a focus on cutting out corruption, and a strong stance on illegal immigration.

So now we come to her latest video

Some people have claimed that acknowledging the "witch" accusation gives the accusation credence, and that the ad is too simple, but I think it is brilliant, and I confidently predict a surge in the polls over the next few weeks.

Why?  First, because just by showing O'Donnell's face (albeit with some slightly goofy music), it instantly makes it seem unlikely that she is some sort of lunatic frothing at the mouth - she is obviously just a normal woman seeking political office and trying to do a good thing.  But also it summarises perfectly what has gone wrong with politics in recent years, and that is that many voters don't feel like politicians are "us".  They are careerists, or people with weird beliefs, or corrupt criminals.  But they are "other people", not us.

The popularity of the Tea Party movement comes from the fact that it is just normal people calling for what normal people want.  Most normal people want to keep most of what they earn, they don't want the country spent into trillions of debt, they don't want to bend over backwards to politically correct groups, they don't believe that children should have pornographic sex ed lessons forced on them, they don't believe in apologising and grovelling to our international enemies, and they don't want illegal immigration rewarded with citizenship - and they want that reflected in their political candidates.

So when O'Donnell says "I'm you", she is perfectly tapping into that concern which could be said to be the central theme of this election.  As a result, she doesn't need to say exactly what it is she will do, because she says that she will do what we would do - and we know what we would do!

In conclusion, despite many in the Republican camp getting nervous about this candidate, I am not saying she will definitely win, but I do think that she will make a damn good fight of it!  She overcame the odds once, she can do it again!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Rush Limbaugh on Family Guy

I am presently writing a rather lengthy piece on the recent revelations about the potential terrorist attacks on Great Britain and Continental Europe.  However, I wanted to give a quick shout out to the latest episode of Family Guy!

Despite its highly left-wing tendencies, I really enjoy an episode or two of Family Guy, and in the latest episode, they have one of my favourite conservative figures - Rush Limbaugh - as a guest!  Whatever you think about MacFarlane's political beliefs, fair play to him for having the guts to let Limbaugh on - and it seems like they have painted him in a positive light!  If you missed it, I'm sure it will be on Hulu in a day or two, but here is a preview for the episode.  Enjoy!

Friday, 1 October 2010

New York Times: To cut or not to cut in Britain?

Apologies for the lack of updates - it was my birthday last week, so the updates have been infrequent.  Back now though!

The New York Times has a peculiar article, where it can't seem to make its mind up on the subject of spending cuts in Britain, but it doesn't prevent the article from being an interesting one in fairness to Hell's Bible.  The title, "Amid Austerity, Britain Keeps Welfare for Well Off."  You smell an agenda?  Me too!

Lets take a look at the article - my comments in red.

LONDON — Every week without fail Lucy Elkin, a comfortably middle-class mother [boo hiss!] of two small children, receives a £33.20 child benefit payment, or about $52, from the debt-plagued British government. [Would they use that term to describe the Obama government?]
“It’s useful and it helps pay the bills, but it is not as if we are struggling to put food on the table,” [Give it back then!!  Don't take it, then bitch about it!] Ms. Elkin said as she led her children from the park to their house on the leafy fringe of Hampstead Heath, one of London’s most desirable neighborhoods.
Ms. Elkin, 40, is a freelance writer. Her husband is a computer programmer. Along with more than three million middle- to upper-income British families, they are among the recipients of £11 billion ($17.2 billion) a year paid to mothers with children here. It is a universal benefit that not only costs taxpayers about twice as much as the total for unemployment payments but also represents the largest chunk of the estimated £30 billion ($47 billion) the government pays each year to Britons with above-average incomes.
“It is one of those things that is quite hard to justify,” Ms. Elkin said. [Agreed, but don't take the benefit.  Also, can you imagine the fuss that lefty papers like the NYT would make if the Tories revoked such a benefit?  Also, I get the impression that people like Ms Elkin would then start moaning about how hard it is, now she doesn't have the "valuable benefit."  Such people moan whatever you do!]
She is not alone in thinking that Britain can no longer afford such generosities. [She is not alone, I agree with her, but then I am not collecting benefits!] But even as civil servants and ministers are preparing to drastically cut most categories of government spending to help close Britain’s budget deficit, the government is so worried about alienating middle-class voters that it is proceeding very cautiously in limiting the subsidy for having children.
“There is a long history of universal welfare schemes here,” [and they have pretty much all failed, just as they are doing in America] said Patrick Nolan, an economist for Reform, a free-market-oriented research organization that has issued a report claiming that as much as 16 percent of total welfare benefits go to those who do not need them. “But it has become a very expensive luxury when hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs.” [Exactly, and lengthy welfare payments cost jobs due to the launch of taxes that such payments require - and taxes costs jobs.]
The debate in Britain highlights an issue that other advanced industrial countries are also beginning to grapple with: Who should bear the burden of the coming wave of austerity? 
Unless politicians are prepared to dig into the pockets of middle- and upper-income families [Excuse me, but I think you will find that that is going on quite enough as it is.], experts say [who?  This is pretty poor reporting], the demands from bond market investors to get government finances under control can be satisfied only by cutting back even further on benefits for the poor and needy [This is silly, what benefits under what circumstances to what people?  "Poor and needy" is vague and political, a weasel word to sneak socialism in most of the time.] But any serious effort to curb long-established middle-class entitlements risks setting off a public reaction that few political leaders are eager to face. [This is true, once you put a benefit in, it is difficult to get it out again.  This is one of the dangers of Obamacare.]
In Britain, the quandary is particularly stark. The social safety net that has been an essential feature of British life [Wrong!  It has been more than a safety net, it is a suffocating duvet, and it only benefits certain groups, AND it not an essential feature - we could live without a great deal of it.  There are many in the middle classes who do NOT get any benefits, but pay through the nose in taxes.] since World War II ended has been built largely on providing similar benefits to all, like health care [Which has been an absolute disaster.  And it does not "provide benefits to all", it forces people to pay for a low standard of healthcare for themselves and for everyone else, if they are lucky to earn anything more than scraps.] and home heating allowances for the elderly, regardless of income. 
Those earning up to £37,400 a year pay income tax of 20 percent per year. [That does not remotely begin to cover it.  As you do and earn more in England, there are so many stealth taxes that nail you. Plus we have a 20% sales tax - wow!  Even New York doesn't have it that high!]
All told, about a third of Britain’s 61 million people claim either a child subsidy or winter heating allowance. [That does not surprise me.]  Together they represent a formidable political bloc of families and senior citizens that Prime Minister David Cameron was loath to alienate during last spring’s election. [Yeah, being soft didn't exactly work out did it?  Now we are in an alliance with the commie Lib Dems]
That helps explain why Mr. Cameron promised not to “means test” the child benefit by limiting it to the poor. He said that payments to the elderly to subsidize television license fees, along with bus fare and heating allowances, would not be touched, either.
Lately, though, the government has begun to signal a harder line.
At the Liberal Democrat’s party conference in September, Mr. Cameron’s coalition partner, Nick Clegg, made the strongest call yet for cutting middle-class benefits, telling delegates that he would be willing to give up the £2,450 ($3,850) in annual child benefits that he and his wife, who is a corporate lawyer, receive for their three children. [Isn't that brave of him?  The problem with Clegg is that he is always looking at a way to punish the middle class - he is the classic socialist.  Now, I don't support giving benefits to anyone but those who actually need it, but I can see Clegg's move as part of a wider attack on the middle class - I have written about Clegg before...]
It remains unclear whether the government will follow through on that suggestion. But there is little question that social protection [or redistribution of wealth], as it is labelled in government accounts, has been the locomotive behind the 53 percent increase in overall outlays, adjusted for inflation, over the last eight years. [Thanks Labour and Gordon Brown!]
This spending spike was driven by previous Labour governments supplying the extra padding to make the British welfare state one of the most accommodating in Europe. [Accommodating isn't the word I'd use.  Bloated, exaggerated, socialist, job-killing, poverty-inducing - use any of those.]
Cuts for the middle class are now on the table throughout Europe, as governments struggle to close budget deficits and reduce debt levels [All while the Bamster keeps increasing deficits and debt levels] that now average 84 percent of gross domestic product. In France, the government is planning to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62; in Greece, public-sector pensions have been sharply cut, and in Ireland government wages have been reduced by more than 10 percent.
But with protests mounting, most governments have said that any further cuts in benefits to the middle class were unlikely. And in the United States, where demands are rising from the right to cut government outlays, none of the advocates have proposed reducing such sacrosanct middle-class benefits as the tax deduction for interest on home mortgages or the tax breaks for pensions and retirement savings. [Scummy.  Tax deductions and breaks aren't spending.  The problem is not how much the governments are bringing in, it is how much they are spending.  To see cuts and breaks in taxes as "spending" assumes that the government has a "right" to how much they normally collect - they have no such right.]
As for Britain, while universal child benefits are common in Europe, total payments to families here — including child tax credits and maternity allowances — are the third-highest among the 33 affluent countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, trailing France and Luxembourg. [Not exactly countries we want to be modelling ourselves on, are they?]
The child benefit pays £20 a week to the oldest child and £13.20 for each additional child until they reach the age of 20. The only requirement is that they continue to attend school. [Yes Americans - we bribe our kids to stay in school!  That's how bad it is!]
Research [What research?] shows that, although payments are promoted as a direct and simple means to allay child poverty by putting money into the hands of needy mothers, nearly half of the payments go to families with above-average incomes.
According to a soon-to-be-published study by Ian Walker, an economist at Lancaster University, well-to-do families that received the benefit were more inclined to spend it on themselves, not their children — with alcohol and tobacco among the most notorious substitutes. [Explains why it hasn't worked.]
These findings make a “good case for means-testing the benefit,” Mr. Walker said. “It’s clear that a number of universal benefits look vulnerable.” [All while Obama is trying to increase universal benefits - he really is a bit backward!  NYT fails to notice this glaring conclusion.]
But many poverty experts [which poverty experts are these?] strongly defend universal payments, arguing that, despite the excesses, the largest portion of the money goes to those who really need it and that paying benefits across the board is the best way to preserve political support for such programs. [Yeh - thats a GREAT reason to keep it up!  Who are these whacko 'experts'?  Do they even exist, or is this the NYT going "Trust us!  These are experts!"]
The British government, apart from pensions, pays large sums to the elderly, much of which ends up in the pockets of more affluent citizens. The government spends £2.7 billion ($4.24 billion) a year to provide a winter heating allowance to everyone over the age of 60. It provides £1 billion for free bus passes for those senior citizens and devotes £575 million for complimentary TV licenses for people 75 and older. [Hmm, these aren't exactly the schemes that have been breaking the bank - funny that they focus on these instead of the welfare handouts, the bloated public sector, and the stimulus]
Opposition to spending cuts is already building, and unions [who are full of socialists and communists, and who nearly destroyed the country in the 70's and 80's] across the country are banding together, promising a series of strikes.  They are expected to culminate in a mass protest on Oct. 19, the day before the government makes public its spending review.
Still, while the fear and anger about the coming cuts are certainly palpable here, there are signs that many Britons are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the fairest way to deal with the need for austerity may be to bring the era of universal largess to an end. [Yes most people can see that the whole thing is, and has been, entirely unsustainable for years.  Unfortunately, a lot of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic can't see that.]
“It would be nice to give everyone a nice slice of the cake,” [Would it?  Wouldn't it be better to allow everyone to provide their own cake for themselves, and just give cake to those who couldn't afford it?  Why do we have to have these pointless universal benefits that make people pay more for less - as is always the case with government spending] said Clare Drew, an unemployed mother of two, who has just moved back to London from Ireland and is staying at her mother’s until her housing and child benefits come through.
“But with the economy this way, you just can’t do that,” she continued. “The benefits are going to be decreased.” [Good!]

As I said above, the bias is clear, but the article is interesting.  Its main point - that we are paying a hell of a lot of money out to people who do not need it, is certainly true.  It is also the case in America, and a Republican House in November will need to start working on that.  As for Britain, it is time to get rid of the Liberal Democrats, and make sure we have a government with the balls to implement the cuts to their full extent, without hiking already high taxes through the ceiling.