Monday, 19 March 2018

US taxpayer funded health spending vs NHS

I stumbled across this somewhere or other recently, and it is quite chucklesome.

US taxpayer funded healthcare spending per capita $5,078 (about £3,600).

UK taxpayer funded spending (i.e. NHS), about £2,000 per capita.

Talk about shit value for money!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Round the M25 on a Sunday afternoon.

Two years after having bought myself my 50th birthday present(s), I finally got round to doing the M25 (clockwise) this afternoon to see what it's like.

It was very pleasant all in, ignoring a few arsehole BMW drivers who were weaving through traffic in a thoroughly dangerous fashion, two of them clearly racing.

There was a 60/50/40 mph variable limit out west somewhere, so I hooked in behind a Rover driver who'd set their speed limiter and coasted along behind them for ten or fifteen minutes, with somebody in a white Japanese MPV doing the same behind me (thanks both!), after that, we went our separate ways again. The poor buggers going anti-clockwise were stuck in a jam.

Sub two-hour time no problem.

Faux Libertarianism in a nut shell

The core false assumption underpinning Faux Libertarianism is the assumption that 'land ownership' and 'governments' are two completely separate and unrelated concepts, or even that 'land ownership' is an older concept that pre-existed 'governments'.

It is quite clear to anybody with a vague grasp of history that land ownership in any meaningful sense is impossible outside an (1) organised society, (2) which is at peace, (3) which has a dispute resolution system with popular support that it enforces, and (4) which is capable of defending its external borders. Historically, the whole point of 'governments' was to enable 'land ownership' within its borders, not the other way round.

Take away any of (1) to (4) and land ownership is impossible. The starting position is of course that the land is just there, and was there long before humankind evolved. Nobody 'owned' it. That only happened once items (1) to (4) were in place, and where we are right now, we would call something that exhibits all four characteristics a 'government'.

The Faux Libs will come up with all sorts of supposed counter examples which superficially might not fit the pattern, but they refuse to address the underlying pattern. One Faux Lib tactic is to sub-divide each of (1) to (4) into ever smaller slices, pointing out (for example) that you can't compare governments in modern developed countries with a few thousand Vikings settling on Iceland. You have to judge them by the standards of the time.

Here endeth.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

One has no need for slug pellets...

For a while now I've considered Price Charles the ultimate homeownerist.  Not content with vigorously opposing anyone building anything in London tall enough to peer into one of his many back gardens, or simply objecting to tall buildings in general, he actually heads a homeownerist front organisation with the raison d'ĂȘtre of reverting other people's farms back into worthless medieval swamps.  

So this morning over coffee I read the serialisation of Tom Bower's hatchet job in the Mail Online.  I don't know if they are true.  But if they are, I think these two quote sum up the wasteful, economic madness of homeownerism nicely:

"With a personal income of millions from the Duchy of Cornwall (£16.3 million in 2007 alone) he could afford to indulge his slightest whim — yet even that didn’t satisfy him."

"He was also unusually particular about his gardens at Highgrove. Because he refused to use pesticides, he employed four gardeners who would lie, nose-down, on a trailer pulled by a slow-moving Land Rover to pluck out weeds.  In addition, retired Indian servicemen were deployed to prowl through the undergrowth at night with torches and handpick slugs from the leaves of plants."

How can we rid ourselves of these people?

Friday, 16 March 2018

Spring (well, in rural Suffolk anyway)

"The Three Stooges Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

From Wiki and Wiki:

In the town of Ebbing, Missouri, Mildred Hayes is grieving the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela, seven months earlier.

Angry over the lack of progress in the investigation, Mildred hires three slapstick comedians, called: "MOE", "HOWARD", and "LARRY". The veteran comics upset the townspeople, including Chief Bill Willoughby and Officer Jason Dixon, the latter being a racist and a violent alcoholic with no sense of humour.

The open secret that Willoughby suffers from terminal pancreatic cancer adds to everyone's disapproval. Moe, Howard and Larry are harassed and threatened, but to her son's chagrin, she stays firm about keeping the physical farce going.

I'd ask the sign writer to try again

Two spelling mistakes, one punctuation mistake, and three style inconsistencies. Either capitalise the second word or don't; either write "and" or "&" and either use plural or singular (they sell "soft drink"?) - don't mix and match:

Thursday, 15 March 2018

"How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming"

I have stumbled across the Warmenists' equivalent of the the KLN blog.

I read a few just for fun, and the rebuttals of the rebuttals appear as unconvincing and self-referential as ever. I haven't found the catch all diatribe thrown at me on Facebook a couple of days ago, but it's probably in there somewhere for the Warmenists to cut and paste:

I recommend that you give up basing your opinions on this topic from a perusal of propaganda website funded by fossil fuels interests, which assumes the physical chemistry of the global carbon cycle is a hoax and then engages in complex subterfuge to keep scientifically illiterate suckers conned and supportive of the carbon profits agenda, and pick up a climate physics textbook or take a physics MOOC instead.

Repeating those memes like those of the Wattsupwiththat black propaganda site generates embarassment in the eyes of your friends, and harms their perception of your capacity for astute judgement."

That saves them the bother of addressing my actual point, I suppose.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

"Help to Buy 'timebomb' as five-year anniversary looms"

Emailed in by Lola a week ago, from FT Adviser:

Thousands of those who used the government's Help to Buy mortgage scheme could be hit with expensive fees on their loans, as they come to the end of their five-year interest free period in the next few months.

The equity loan scheme, which is just about to reach its five-year anniversary, allowed buyers to make use of a five-year interest-free loan from the government of up to 20 per cent of the value of a property [or 40 per cent in London] so that they could get on the housing ladder.

Now as these loans mature, customers will need to start paying rising fees on these equity loans or come up with another plan. After five years is up, borrowers must pay a fee of 1.75 per cent of the value of their loan, increasing each year by RPI plus 1 per cent, unless they can pay the loan off, usually by remortgaging.

Just for clarity, they refer to interest as "fees" for some reason. So the interest starts off at 1.75%, very low even by today's standard. If inflation next year is 3%, then next year's interest is 1.75 x 1.03 = 1.8% and so on. Even if inflation is 3% for twenty years in a row, the interest rate will only tick up to 3.2%. Given the internal logic of Help To Sell, that actually sort of makes sense. Also, it's not "Thousands of" it's "All the" but never mind.

And how bad will the "time bomb" be? Give us the gory details!

Think tank the Resolution Foundation said the loans were “a ticking time bomb”.

The group calculated those who used Help to Buy back in 2013 will pay an average of £652 this year on their loan if they live outside London or £927 if they live in the capital.

That's not going to kill anybody, is it? And what's the alternative for our hard-pressed home buyers?

... there are some signs of movement, with Ipswich Building Society introducing a new ex-Help to Buy remortgage offering late last month.

The society said that all of its products will be available to Help to Buy applicants, at up to 95 per cent LTV, and its standard mortgage assessment and affordability calculation, through its manual underwriting process, will apply.

“We are pleased that we can help borrowers moving away from a Help to Buy mortgage and through our expert manual underwriting we’ll continue to specialise in real mortgages for real people, who have unusual or complex occupations and find themselves categorised as ‘mortgage misfits’, otherwise ignored by other high-street lenders,” Richard Norrington, CEO, Ipswich Building Society, said.

I know that this was the government's plan all along, pump up house prices and then panic people into remortgaging, which is all gravy for banks and building societies (as long as house prices keep ticking up) but which bank or building society would be daft enough to offer 95% mortgages for 1.75% or less?

If and when house prices fall a bit, the government will no doubt introduce "Help To Remortgage Your Help To Buy Loan" and so on and so forth.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Royal Mail's Guaranteed Next Day Taking The Piss Service

Yet again, I have fallen victim to this scam, which will no doubt befall thousands of other people today.

It was a low value item (rear Mazda badge for a fiver) which I need sharpish, and as I have to take today off work anyway, I paid the £7.45 for "Guaranteed next day delivery" i.e. today.

It is a small parcel, so it would have fitted through the letter box, and just in case it doesn't, there's a big sign at the side of our front porch that is not visible from the pavement saying "Please leave parcels here", which other delivery services take literally.

Not the fucking Royal Mail, oh no, they wait until your back is turned for two seconds, sprint up to the front door and instead of knocking or ringing, shove a card through saying "Sorry we missed you, hope you don't mind taking another hour off tomorrow morning to drive to the sorting office and pick it up yourself!"

Apparently they wanted me to sign for it. So this is the Trade Misdescription from Hell. I didn't pay extra to be messed about like this, I paid extra for "next day delivery", which in the ordinary meaning of the words means, er, today.

If you compare the Royal Mail's shitty behaviour with the competing private delivery companies who apply common sense, you can only assume this arrogance is a hangover from the days when there was a state monopoly on parcel delivery and they could pretty much do what they wanted.

They did this to our neighbours recently. Even more bizarrely, their postcard said that the parcel was at house number 99. There is no house number 99 on our road.