Tag Archives: Europe

They’re joking, right?

There are signs around town that state ‘Nanaimo is a Nuclear Weapons free zone‘ I kid you not. As if Nuclear weapons could read. Maybe if it all goes pear shaped over the Ukraine, our one hope is that maybe the Russian targeting officers can’t pronounce the towns name and cross it off their list.
Hey Boris. what about Nana-whatever? This place here?
Ivan, if you can pronounce it we’ll nuke it.
Nanna-e. Nyet! Naimimimo. No. Nonnimio. Bugger it Boris, lets just bomb Campbell River instead.”

Seriously, there’s EU hawks getting their knickers in a twist about the Ukrainian situation. Talk of European troop deployments in a place that I always remember as part of Russia. The Crimea has decided it wants to be part of Russia, and the EU are crying “Foul! Ref!” Over the referendum. Although it’s odd that there were so few shooting incidents. In the same time frame, there were actually more reported gun related deaths in Vancouvers gangland. You’d think there would be quite a few if the situation were as bad as some of the Western media would have us believe.

I grew up during the Cold War, when Nuclear midnight was often only ‘minutes’ away. It was the reason so many of my generation went ‘off the rails’. If you’re going to fry in a nuclear fireball anyway, why not have a continual party to see the dear green Earth off with a nicer type of bang? When it all came to an end in 1989 I was left feeling rather pleased, but with a string of epic hangovers reaching back to my 18th birthday. It’s worth noting that anyone under the age of 18 does not get hangovers, strange but true. However, this is besides the point.

The western media has been busy spray painting old Vlad Putin as the cold tyrant of a gangster republic. Which he’s certainly got the eyes for. Oo, and didn’t those eeevil Roosians jail some crap girl punk band for desecrating a church? Gosh, dwahleegs, the Russki’s are so naughty. Russian ‘defence’ spend is up 18%, so yes, they’re expecting trouble. They have forces on the Eastern Ukrainian border, just in case anyone tries to get funny. There’s talk of mercenaries inside the Ukraine, but no one seems to be quite sure whose.

It is worth noting, back in the Cold War, Russia had the Warsaw Pact countries acting as a series of buffer states between it and the rest of Europe. Which is quite understandable. Russia does not trust Europe for two good historical reasons; Hitler and Napoleon. The memory of the German invasion of ‘Operation Barbarossa‘ and Napoleon in a burning Moscow are both still raw wounds in the Russian psyche. Not to mention that messy business back in the 1850s. Read Johnathan Dimblebys Russia. We have a copy. Quite the eye opener.

Yet most of the war talk is coming from within the EU. I am seriously concerned that if some of the Euro Hawks get their way, NATO will get dragged in, and with it Canada, which I’d really rather not see happen. I mean call me an old fussyboots, but seeing a shooting war blot out half of the world is not the kind of legacy I want my kids having to deal with. Over the next few years I want to travel this little planet some more, and I would be quite delighted if it wasn’t a radioactive wasteland.

As an addendum; as poignant now as when it was first released in 1985.


Update:
Good news. Putin has told Europe to pay the Gas bill, and everything will be fine. The Eurocrats appear to have backed down. Until they can work out another devious ploy to keep the political ponzi scheme that is the EU expanding.

How stuff works, a song

Oh Grandpa’s a wealthy land owner
And Uncle makes windmills that spin
My Aunty she sells Carbon Credits
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Daddy’s a Parliamentarian
Raising tax on the singlemost whim
Every night he’s out schmoozing accountants
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

Oh Brother he works out in Brussels
Saving gorgeous Hungarians from sin
He’ll save you a blonde for ten Euros
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

My Mother’s a Harley Street Doctor
Gives pills to the famed with a Gin.
She owns a renowned rehab clinic.
My God, how the money rolls in!

(Chorus:) Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in, rolls in!
Rolls in, rolls in, my God, how the money rolls in!

*Sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”

What do they do with it all?

There’s been a fair bit of whining in the UK press by various jackboot apologists complaining that various parties don’t pay ‘their fair share’ of tax. Yet as I recall, even when we lived in that beknighted part of the world, I calculated that sixty percent of all our joint outgoings went into the massively inefficient state sausage machine. Sure, we got a little back in child benefit and odds and ends, but when we had to spend it, tranches went in paying tax on those necessary purchases like stuff for school, clothing, food etc, so we were really no better off. Proportionately speaking, our overall disposable income shrank, year on year.

Let me essay an example here; say you want to send a Christmas present to friends or family to and within the UK. Base cost of purchase will invoke various taxes including VAT, yet every component on your heartfelt generosity is already stained with the patina of tax. Raw materials are taxed, the employees are taxed, employers / employees NHI, property taxes / business rates, tax on energy and energy usage, it all mounts up. despite tax breaks, there is no such thing as ‘revenue neutral’. On anything. The taxman bites everywhere. Argue all you want. Dig a little, and the levels of taxation become obvious.

Like a leech, the tax take affects everything, even indirectly by putting up a manufacturers or distributors costs. The price of gasoline (Petrol) increases, so does the proportionate tax. Therefore the cost of anything that needs to be transported or made goes up and inflation increases. This is economics kindergarten, or 101 as they say over here.

Okay, so that’s established how thoroughly the UK is taxed, both directly and indirectly. Only barter between neighbours and growing your own from your own seed remains untouched. For how long this state of affairs continues is anyone’s guess, considering the current desperation of the UK taxman.

So; my heading question remains. What does the UK Government do with your hard earned? Well, there’s the basics. The NHS, which currently employs about 1.18 million people (1.1 million of whom are classed as “Non clinical” Official figures for August 2012 from here). In 1995, the total health budget came in at 46.1 Billion. 2000 was 49.6 Billion. 2005, 82.9 Billion. 2010, 118.2 Billion. 2011, 121.3 Billion. figures from here, which are culled from official sources.

What else? Lobbying itself via certain QUANGO’s and NGO’s which are basically jobs for family and friend to pay off, or buy political favours. Spends it on unnecessary things even the most bling obsessed shopping junkie might say “Whoa, that’s a bit pricey, innit?”. Like IT projects to monitor everyone’s movements / financial transactions / Internet use. Gets the country involved in expensive wars, then lets the enemy in through the back door and can’t or won’t chuck them out because of their ‘ooman rights’. Wastes it on boondoggles. The list is almost, but not quite infinite. Not to mention having such a complex compliance culture that everything, including Nietzsche’s ‘raising of the wrist’ costs multiples of it’s base cost. Which the taxpayer has to stump up for. Even then they will rarely get it right.

Which rather answers a couple of questions; “What do they spend it all on?” and “What cuts?” The figures speak for themselves. Yet they want more? Crazy. What happened to the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos? Amongst all the other promises.

Thou shalt…not

Since we’ve been in Canada, Mrs S and I always get a shock to the system every time we skip back across the water to visit friends and family. Canada may be one of the more highly regulated places this side of the world, but there’s none of this nitpicking day to day micromanagement that goes on in the old country. Apart from the various smoking bans in restaurants and bars, which everyone fails to get too stressed about. You want to smoke? Sure buddy, over there. Just not here, okay? I’ve yet to see any of the hand waving hysteria that gets reported in the UK.

For example, no self respecting coffee shop over here would dream of not offering cream with coffee simply because it’s suddenly become ‘company policy’ for some strange and arbitrary reason (EU regulations. no doubt).

Pharmacies over here don’t refuse to sell non prescription items, even if they aren’t usually on the shelves. To be succinct, I’m on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet regime to shed a few pounds. 1) Because I like it, and 2) Because it guarantees the weight loss without the cravings. Now one of the little monitoring tools used to regulate this diet are called Ketostix, reagent strips used to measure ketones in the urine. Ketostix are not a drug, they won’t hurt you even if you chew through an entire package, and they are only used as a urine monitoring device, rather like a pregnancy test kit.

Last time we were in the UK, despite their non-prescription status, several large outlet ‘pharmacists’ (Unqualified minimum wage shop assistants in white coats) refused to sell Ketiostix to us, stating that it was ‘company policy’. “Yes, but who will you sell them to?” We asked.
“Diabetics.” The answer came back. “If they have a prescription.”
“But Ketostix don’t need a prescription, and how do you know we’re not diabetics who’ve left our documents at home?.”
“Ah, but it’s company policy not to sell them to anyone but Diabetics with a prescription.” Said the pharmacy assistant.
“Why?” I asked. “What else do you refuse to sell because it’s company policy?” I snarled as a parting shot, and did not wait for an answer before wandering round the corner to a more traditional pharmacy where the request; “I’d like to buy some Ketostix.”
Was met with a cheery. “Here you are sir.” And money changed hands for goods. Sorted. All smiles. Job done.
Yesterday I was in Wal-Mart and couldn’t find what I wanted on the shelves, so I asked one of the Pharmacy Assistants. “Sure. Have an awesome day.” She said, handing over the Ketostix. Big genuine smile, friendly eye contact. You don’t get those in the UK either.

We don’t have the silly 16 tablet pack maximum restrictions on Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen (Paracetomol) either. I could go on, but upon reflection the majority of you voted for Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and the EU, and will keep on voting for the same old, same old, so you’ll get no sympathy from me.

At this point the line from Tommy, the Who’s 1969 Rock Opera pops into my head;
“You’ve been told many times before,”
“Messiah’s pointing to the door,”
“But no one has the guts to leave the Temple………”

Charities?

Here’s a riddle for you.

When is a charity not a charity?

When it’s primarily a government (or privately) funded lobbying organisation.

This is not a joke.

As one whose real life CV contains a good deal of volunteering for various (UK and Canadian) registered charities, I’d like to think I know the difference. My charity work has always been focused on the practical; restoring, cleaning, delivering, fitting and rebuilding kind of work. From rebuilding computer networks, helping restore a near derelict local facility to full use to scrubbing some horrendous gunge off various aids for the disabled. That sort of thing.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased politicisation of the voluntary sector. Where lobbyists, disguising themselves as registered charities, do pure advocacy work for various clients, including Government agencies. Where I have no issue with citizen advocates speaking up for the less able and impoverished, what I do have an issue with is Government paying ‘charities’ to further the Governments (and their friends) own agenda.

Let’s take a classic example. Remember the Climate change kiddie snuff porn video by advocacy group 10:10? When I wrote to my UK MP to object, I was told plainly that the UK government would ‘continue to support’ such messages. 10:10 had purportedly received sponsorship from EU and UK sources to produce that obscenity (As well as Sony and O2). Now, forgive me for being as bit dogmatic here, but is that charity? Does it assist the poor or less able? No. It does help the vested financial interests who make their moolah by boosting energy prices and farming taxpayer funded subsidies. Most certainly not the poor buggers who are currently in ‘fuel poverty’.

The Devils Kitchen runs a little website called www.fakecharities.org, which lists the details of some of the UK based lobbyists posing as charitable institutions.

This stuff isn’t new. It’s been doing the rounds on the UK blogosphere for several years now. See Tim Worstall’s 2009 piece on the Adam Smith Institute website. Now the mainstream are playing catch up.

Of course there have always been scam artists who pose as registered charities or who put out collection boxes for said charity with no intention of passing on the public’s generosity to the real organisation. What really pisses me off, as a real life worker for charity, is the biggest fraud of all; Governments paying advocacy groups to lobby for Government policy using taxpayer dollar.

A sea change

There is a tide in the affairs of men… goes the quotation from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Well chums, it looks like there’s a political sea change going on right now. The anti-human agenda of the CAGW advocates may just be about to take a massive hit. Why? well, have a look at what is going on in the magical land of Oz right now in Queensland, Australia. What some people are calling an electoral backlash against the Carbon tax.

India are calling time on the EU’s airline cap and trade plans, and China has put $14 Billion worth of Airbus on hold over the same issue, threatening 2000 Airbus related jobs. The Harper Federal Government in Canada has steadfastly refused to sign up to similar legislation, and before long, the USA will find the same issues significantly affecting electoral outcomes. The Green Climate fund is likewise ‘seeking immunity’ from prosecution (Why? Are they feeling guilty about something?).

Methinks the shoe is dropping on this issue. Europe may very well find itself quite alone. Very soon. What will happen when all those bets on taxing CO2 turn into a worthless green fart? Who can say?

If I may be allowed to mix Donne and Shaespeare quotations in a single paragraph; Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee, ding dong bell.

Where I disagree with the Freeman movement

My blogroll contains a few links to people some might consider raving revolutionaries, specifically the Freemen on the land, as embodied by Captain Ranty. Now I have a deal of respect for the good Captain and cohorts, and what they are trying to do. I appreciate that the oaths sworn by those who consider themselves our rulers are, to say the least, now highly suspect. Sovereignty has been sold. Deals have been struck. The economic futures of whole countries have been mortgaged to the hilt and then refinanced, consolidated and remortgaged again then sold twice over to cover the interest on the remortgage. Like the people who make up those countries didn’t really matter. Effectively what this means is that the old oaths of office sworn in the UK are for all intents and purposes, worthless. The laws, traditions and treaties they were based upon have been conveniently tossed in the rubbish bin for future Historians to squabble over. Constitution? Oh, you mean the UK’s ‘unwritten’ constitution? That old thing? Dahleengs, Magna Carta and 1689 is sooo out of date. Look at this sparkly new EU consti-thingy we signed for you peasants. So who cares if you aren’t allowed to go your own sweet way any more. Yes, it pisses me off as well. Massively.

To the Captain and friends, this discarding of ancient law and precedent renders a good deal of modern statute law worthless. They consider the discarding of law and effective handing over of sovereign authority to a foreign power as nothing less than an act of the highest treason against the people of the UK. They have a very good point. Democratic countries and nation states are (so we are assured) based upon mutually binding promises between rulers and ruled. When those promises are not upheld, then membership of that grouping loses its authority. What this leaves you with, as Mao once pointed out, “Grows from the barrel of a gun.” At that point there is no Democracy, people have no real say in how they are governed, and the whole system begins to break down.

The problem is that whole European (and elsewhere) electorates have been bought with political promises substantial as soap bubbles. “Vote for us and we’ll make everything fair.” kind of thing. “Hey! We can get everything we want by taxing the rich!” Those who make these claims either don’t realise that ‘Fair’ and ‘Rich’ are relative terms, and don’t include the people with the smart money. The ‘Rich’ might well turn out to be the guy who is at present only ‘comfortably well off’, and the ‘Fairness’ he / she is about to find out about is the greater burden of taxation being surreptitiously lowered onto his / her brawny shoulders. Which has already happened, funnily enough. Or rather unfunnily enough. Oh and where are those ‘rich’ people? You know, the ones with the real (not fantasy) money. Like the Cheshire Cat, all that will be seen of their money is a fading fiscal grin, and the more the ‘Tax the rich’ faction clamour for the ‘rich’ to pay for their lifestyles, the higher the burden on the once only modestly well off John Q Public. Not real rich people at all. A vote for ‘Fairness’ will ultimately kill the very system that almost levels the playing field. De Toqueville was right.

All for the sake of power and privilege. That’s what has gone wrong. Too many politicians have gotten too goddamned cosy with taxpayers money.

So, how do we fix it? This system that is so broken? This bargain between individual and state that is the functioning, beating heart of a democracy? Do we rise up, or do we try to pressure the politico’s into taking the pressure off ordinary people and reach some new solution? Where I and the Captain disagree is not about what the problem is, but rather the means of solution.

For me, butting heads with authority using old rules is not an option. Challenging the courts on their home ground is not the solution. Rules can be changed, adapted, and even blatantly ignored by the Judiciary and courts under political supervision. Confrontation simply ups the temperature and the rule makers and enforcers will cheat in order to rid themselves of petty nuisances. Because cheat they will to be rid of people whose only ‘crime’ is to speak their mind or stand up for themselves. The little guy will be sidelined, ignored and sometimes imprisoned. I’ve seen this in microcosm because it’s how UK law works. It’s why a rich man who can afford fancy lawyers can literally get away with murder. Criminals can intimidate witnesses, and political types protest outside their opponents homes and get at their opponents friends and family, because the coppers can’t be everywhere. The little guy working off his own bat (Which is what most Freemen seem to be) can be abused at will because the law is changing so rapidly and applied so arbitrarily. It also helps to remember that what you get in a British court is law, not justice. The law can be bought. This is the way it’s always been. The trick is to make law work in your favour.

“Okay mister brainbox.” one might easily ask. “How would you fight the broken system? How do we get our ancient rights back? How do we get rid of the awful grinding bureaucracy that blights the land if not by fighting back?”

Well, firstly; try not to flag up on the old judicial radar. For my part I’m a law abiding sort by nature, which helps. I also understand how thinly spread the powers of Law and Order are, and try not to make their job more difficult. Because whilst the uniform confronting you may not be your friend, the person within it may be persuaded that you mean no real harm. Politeness pays. Officials are like everyone else, with a few notable exceptions, human. Often a friendly non-confrontational approach will pay off where everything else fails. It is possible to out-nice them, but don’t take the piss. Completely stupid they aren’t, no matter what that nice young radical chappie down the pub told you about “standing up for your rights”.

Understanding what an official is, and the parameters of their job is also useful. Understanding what part of the process you are in is critical. Anything legal must be done just so, or you can walk. The court or issuing authority must do things just right or their case falls apart. Procedures must be followed. JP’s and Judges are bound by very strict rules and guidelines, and whilst they may gloss over certain items for expediency’s sake, if you can clearly demonstrate someone is playing fast and loose with courtroom procedures or the rules of evidence, the case against you will probably collapse. As an aside; while ‘arresting’ JP’s for serving under an unlawful authority may look like a jolly super wheeze, don’t expect to get away with it more than a couple of times. The “Are you serving under your Oath of Office?” approach also has a limited lifespan.

It seems to me that what the Freemen are engaged in is asymmetric warfare, for ancient freedoms. A fight by peaceful means against a new, unaccountable and illegal (In the Freemens eyes) Establishment which appears to be holding all the best cards. Which to a degree they are.

Not that I am advocating any morally or legally reprehensible acts. I’m simply commenting on how the Freemen seem to want to butt heads with the establishment. Which I think will be their undoing. Unless they change their approach.

Upon reflection; the only way for the code Napoleon type laws, which puts the onus of proof on the defendant to be overturned and ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ restored is the complete collapse of the EU power bloc. Secession from the EU may be the only legal way forward. Accomplishing this salient act will require cooperation with other Freemen type organisations in other EU bloc countries. Organisations with which to form expedient alliances, build bridges, and perhaps form the foundation for a more democratically accountable alliance of European countries to replace it. A true grass roots reform, not the current dysfunctional top down, micro-manage everything culture currently in power.

To achieve this, one has to understand the limits of the State in operational terms. The law and the state are not very flexible institutions, and have a long track record of reacting in a heavy handed and inefficient manner. It’s all they really know. For example, several years ago a thrifty Welshman worked out how to use discarded chip shop oil with a touch of methanol in a diesel engined car. The reaction of the state; make it an offence to use said fuel in a vehicle without paying ‘fuel duty’ (but then had to do a climb down because it was unenforceable). This is how the current crop of politicians think. Yellow, red or blue, it makes no odds. They all studied politics in the same schools.

One of the key things to remember is that the organs of the UK’s top down state don’t work very well on evenings or weekends, which is a point worth considering. Read people like Inspector Gadget for example to understand how thinly the much vaunted blue line is spread, where all those highly trained Police Officers spend their time, and under what restrictions they work. Add to this the additional snippet that Council employees and other such state functionaries are actively discouraged from using any form of initiative, and you begin to see the cracks through which Freemen may slink unobserved with a sly grin on their faces. Traveller communities for example, regularly run rings around state employees because they play by their own set of rules. Do Travellers pay tax or road duty? Not that I’m condoning such behaviour of course.

The trick appears to be not to directly confront, don’t play their game, for game it is, on the over intrusive states terms. The odds are stacked in their favour, they play with loaded dice, and make the rules up, so don’t play.

The truth is that the top down, command driven state cannot cope with an opponent, who like McCavity the cat, isn’t there to be caught. This is why the Hunt ban never really worked. Multiple events in widely spread locations (Gosh, did our dogs kill that fox? Oops, sorry. Really.) The tactics of the Flashmob, where tens, sometimes hundreds of like minded individuals turn up at say, Victoria Station to do the zombie dance for three minutes to Michael Jacksons ‘Thriller’ then disappear in a hundred different directions before Security can intervene or the Police arrive. Both peaceful activities, but if the same principles are applied to other activities it may be enough to make other unjust laws unenforceable. In a posted video showing how scrutinised and observed the British are, Ranty asked how the powers that be could ever watch all that surveillance footage, read all those emails and eavesdrop on the texts and phone calls. The answer is they can’t or they’d need so many bored security staff the economy couldn’t stand it. And there he had a partial answer to his own question. The dots are all out there to be connected. Some assembly and creative thinking may be required.

For example; the overweening state needs increasing tax revenues to function, and here is it’s Achilles heel. Barter between Freemen and sympathetically inclined individuals cannot be taxed because it does not have monetary value. Growing for your own consumption cannot be taxed. True, this requires effort, but if you want to be free, then effort is required. As there is no such thing as a free lunch, nothing good happens without a little graft. As solutions go, it’s got to be be better than just sitting there, watching crap TV and moaning about getting shafted.

The aforementioned may not provide the answers the good Captain was asking for originally here; but they’re the only workable ones I can currently offer.