Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Immigrants don't just take jobs, they also create them, as they spend their wages and fill roles in complementary lines of work. If Britain threw out its Polish workers there wouldn't suddenly be more jobs for British people—just as throwing women out of work wouldn't provide more jobs for men.(Source)Reading the comments section proves, as if we didn't already know this, that some Guardian readers don't understand economics. Slightly more surprisingly, we also learn that there are a good many people who think of themselves as progressive and liberal, and yet who are, in truth, neither.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The little letters from the TV Licensing people, arrogant, bullying and quite dishonestIt do make Oi laff.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Yeah, but no, but yeah, but…
The Old Testament prophets were "premillennial" in that they looked forward to the inauguration of the Messiah's reign, a reign which would be preceded by the arrival of the Messiah on earth, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come!
And, well, that happened, didn't it? Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Don't we sing about it?
Hail to the Lord's anointed,The Old Testament prophets were "premillennial" for precisely the reason that we must be amillennial: Christ's first coming, and specifically the events of Easter, were the inauguration of his reign.
great David's greater son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The other hurdle - how to sell inaction in popular language - is less daunting than it may seem. “Hands off” is not an implicitly unwelcome sentiment to the British. “Stop fiddling around; you can't fix it” and “Stop boasting of powers you don't possess” are perfectly capable of chiming with the public mood. Couple that (as Mr Cameron did at the LSE) with the message that the fiddling and grandstanding is being done at the voters' expense and will have to be paid for, and you have a potentially powerful pitch. I regret that the word “pissing” should be unsuitable for a Tory poster. “It's our money you're pissing into the wind, Gordon” might otherwise strike a chord.(Source)I would add to that message the case that just as you and I don't possess perfect information, neither does the Government; and therefore, any action the Government tries to take will necessarily be ill-informed, ill-judged and ill-adapted to the circumstances as they exist on the ground.To take an example, it is often said, and correctly, that the economy won't recover until the housing market does. The conclusion drawn by sloppy thinkers is that the Government should try to prop up the housing market in order to hasten the demise of the recession. But this is nonsense; the point is that the housing market's recovery is conditional upon housing reaching a level of pricing at which it becomes sustainable once again. So in fact, to hasten the demise of the recession, the Government should do precisely nothing with regard to manipulating the housing market . Propping up the housing market would merely prolong the recession and throw even more people out of work. Letting housing find its appropriate level is difficult, but necessary.Letting the recession run  also requires a Government willing to acknowledge that it doesn't know everything. Perhaps the slogan for the Opposition should encapsulate the message, "They don't know what they're doing; neither do we. The difference is, we know it." This does not preclude the Government making use of prevailing market conditions in order to construct social housing more cheaply. That would be the Government acting as a market participant and not as the market's guiding force.
 This does not preclude the Government acting to ensure that people on the margins are not left destitute.
Friday, December 12, 2008
We know, too, that some men are differently constituted from others, and have some rare and remarkable faculty of doing with their body what other men can by no effort do, and, indeed, scarcely believe when they hear of others doing. … Some have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at pleasure, so as to produce the effect of singing. … Seeing, then, that even in this mortal and miserable life the body serves some men by many remarkable movements and moods beyond the ordinary course of nature, what reason is there for doubting that, before man was involved by his sin in this weak and corruptible condition, his members might have served his will for the propagation of offspring without lust?(City of God, XIV.24. Source.)Implicitly, he's suggesting that had the fall not occurred we'd be able to form a flatulent orchestra. Bizarre.
Meanwhile a second anti-state battleground had opened up, as libertarians of right and left attacked the government for Big Brother-like interference with the privacy and freedoms of the citizen. Labour's plans to introduce identity cards, to allow police to hold terrorist suspects without trial for 42 days and the widespread use of CCTV cameras in public places were seen by conspiracy theorists as sinister encroachments on ancient civil liberties.(Source)People with concerns about civil liberties are "conspiracy theorists". "Libertarian" is a dirty word. "Government good, big government better"; and goverment intrusions on the citizen's private life go hand-in-hand with government intrusions on his economic life. In the world of La Toynbee, the government doesn't make horrendous mistakes, people can be trusted with absolute power over others, and letting people get on with their lives is plain nonsense.Although I don't think I could credibly claim to be among the liberal left, they have my respect as a group of people who share many concerns and goals, although we would differ on methods and some principles. Well, these honourable friends frequently bemoan within the general left-wing a worrying tendency towards statism, control-freakery and an utter refusal to stop meddling. Here's hoping this article gets wheeled out time and again as they attempt to argue the state out of those places where it has no right to go, and to show to the world what the statist left really thinks about citizen's rights.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
John Richardson: The evangelical 'atmosphere' depends on three essential qualitiesChristina Rees: We need to remember that the focus of early Christians was not a holy book or even a special rite or ritual, but a set of relationshipsJustin Thacker: As Jesus showed through the Sermon on the Mount, behaviour is as important as beliefJohn Richardson's article (he who is known in the blogosphere as the Ugley Vicar) is fair, but Rees is very muddled and Thacker is deeply concerning. He illustrates, as I read him, the theological drift of the EA, as orthopraxy is elevated over orthodoxy, as if belief is less important than action.God's action precedes our own, and therefore our right believing must be prior to any right acting, for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The German government yesterday denied any prior knowledge of the SS and Gestapo raids which killed 85 people on the "night of the long knives." In a statement Herr Hitler said, "This is a purely operational SS matter, and government policy remains one of non-intervention." Fieldmarshall Goering said it would be wrong to intervene in an ongoing SS investigation. Reichsminister Goebbels accused those raising the issue of "a blatant attempt to intimidate the Gestapo and prevent it from carrying out its duties," while Herr Himmler announced that there would be an internal SS enquiry into the incident, chaired by himself.(Source)
Mr. Speaker, the committee we established on Monday, in the teeth if I may say so of the valiant efforts of a combined Opposition, was called the Speaker's Committee. The matter at hand was House of Commons business and not Government business. Can the Prime Minister explain why the Government had a three-line whip out on House business, and why the Speaker's Committee in name has become the Prime Minister's Committee in effect? And can he explain why the British public should believe a word he says about the non-involvement of Her Majesty's Government in that affair, given that he has seen fit to strong-arm this House in such a manner?
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Warning: Anglo-Saxon terms employed to satirical effect.
(Thanks: hundriver at TMF.)
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): Earlier this afternoon, Mr. Speaker told us that he regretted the fact that the office of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) was searched without a warrant. Does the Prime Minister share that regret?The Prime Minister: That is a matter for the inquiry to decide, which is the right thing to happen. (Hansard)His own opinion is for a committee of inquiry to decide. Great.Incidentally, in the midst of all the hand-wringing about banks not lending to people—and ignoring the fact that, as I relayed yesterday, they're being forced to lend to the Government—has anyone started asking the simple questions? The simplest question is this: if I had £100,000 to spare, would I lend it to someone, or a number of someones, to buy a house?
Friday, December 05, 2008
I'm sure that when the businessman gets kidnapped I'll see the driver getting shot, but I doubt if we'll hear anything else about him. Yet he's the one we should think about as one of us. The one who doesn't matter.Hollywood encourages us to see ourselves as the hero, to identify with him (or her) and to see ourselves as the heroes of our own lives. It isn't simply that we support the hero, although certainly we do; it's that when the hero Biff!s and Ka-pow!s the villain, we're supposed to wish that we could be like that, and perhaps even go so far as to think of ourselves like that. We're meant to leave the cinema walking two inches taller.And by doing this, we miss the character who is really like us, the one who doesn't matter. We're being directed towards a kind of glamour which never satisfies, because we can never attain to it.James isn't a Christian, but I think he was basically groping around the theology of the cross, hence my title. You see, the cross is the polar opposite of Hollywood: Hollywood tells us that we're the heroes of our own lives; the cross tells us that we're the villains. Hollywood portrays heroism as glamour, sex and killing; the cross shows the true hero, being heroic through submission, pain and death. Hollywood's story puts me on a pedestal; the cross puts me in my place.The culture of Hollywood and the theology of the cross are utterly antithetical. Does it mean I should stop watching films? No; I watched the latest James Bond yesterday. But I watched it very differently from the way I might otherwise have done.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
- A litre of petrol cost 88p. Today, a litre of unleaded costs an average of 91p.
- A loaf of bread cost 58p. That's about what I pay, although I freely admit to buying cheap bread.
- A cinema ticket cost 21p. Blimey, I paid £4.50 last night and it was cheap night.
- Cars cost something like £12,000. The manufacturer's price for a Renault Mégane is about that now.
- Dentures cost £100. Now, they cost £194; of course, this is a centrally-driven price and not a market price.
- A camera would set you back £120. Again, you can get them more cheaply, but £120 isn't unreasonable.
- The average house cost £48,000. Hahaha. Give it eighteen months and we'll see.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Saving, in short, in the modern world, is only another form of spending. The usual difference is that the money is turned over to someone else to spend on means to increase production.So far as giving employment is concerned, spending and saving give as much as spending alone, and put as much money in circulation. The chief difference is that the employment provided by the spender can be seen by anyone with one eye; but it is necessary to look a little more carefully, and to think a moment, to recognize that every dollar of saving gives as much employment as every dollar that the spender throws around.The point, of course, is that invested and saved money is passed to someone else who spends it, mostly on capital goods. Saving is thus implicit spending, and an investment in everyone's future. I contend that it is therefore a public good and that the Government should not discourage it. The Savings Gateway, announced in the Queen's Speech, is a social engineering policy with a savings component; perhaps the Government will see its way clear to doing something more effective, such as exempting savings from income tax at least at the basic rate, thus placing savings interest on a par with share dividends.