Sunday, 23 October 2011

There should be no laws on party funding

Cameron's fury at plan to curb rich backers. Independent.  Andrew Grice. Saturday 22 Oct 2011

 The Committee on Standards in Public Life are currently holding an inquiry into public finance.

  Reform Proposals

 A £10,000 cap on donations to parties by individuals and organisations.

 A range of options for increased taxpayer funding, which could be based on between £1 and £3 for every vote received.

 One-off trade union donations subject to the cap, but affiliation fees paid by members treated differently.

 Unions would have to make clear members have right to opt out of paying political levy and ensure those doing so pay a lower membership fee; unions could not "over-affiliate" by saying they have more members paying the levy than they do. 

A number of public hearings have taken place across the UK at which the Committee heard from a wide range of witnesses.  They can be seen here.  I trust the Taxpayers alliance proposals (PDF) to ensure the best deal for the taxpayer. 

We shouldn't assume that if we make it easier for progressive partys to get in power that it will result in more happiness for the average person.  Often, as in the case of Labour, in means taking more of our liberties away and more tax and spend. As Liberals we should realise that happiness is not dependent on what the government does to us or for us.  We make our own happiness.  It isn't really dependent on money.  Often the impression that government can actually make us happy in itself leads to unhappiness.  During Labour's 13 years in power, anti-depressant SSRI drug prescriptions rose to 23 million.

Ricky gervais calls people mong

Seems we'll use any word today except a word of kindness. Indepedent. Janet Street-Porter, Sunday 23 Oct 2011

What to make of Ricky Gervais using the word mong in general conversation as an insult?
I think the problem arises when the government tries to legislate for this kind of thing.  Once you do that, you almost feel like saying something discriminatory just out of frustration and a 'nobody tells me what to do, I'll show them' attitude.  I suspect this is thew case with Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle
If there were no legislation to rebel against, people wouldn't say the nasty things.  They are trying to upset the authority figure telling them what to do, rather than upset Katie Price's son or people with Downs Sydnrome. 
If you were to abolish legislation; there would be less people choosing to become offended rather than discussing the issue in a reasonable way.  There would also be less fear and anxiety in general conversation.  We shouldn't underestimate the damage this fear and anxiety of being punished or sued for saying the wrong thing has on our mental health.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Government drive to cut obesity

Department calls for action on obesity

England has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe, with more than 60% of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds overweight or obese.  National Child measurement programme
Obesity, which is a major risk factor for diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease, costs the NHS £5bn each year, and costs the wider economy billions more. 

Should government be doing anything about obesity?  What should it do?   In 2007, the Labour government produced Foresight Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project report (PDF)

Andrew Landsley says:

The Government is committed to giving a lead in
our efforts to prevent and reduce excess weight.
We look to the full range of partners at national
and local level to encourage and support
individuals to eat a healthy diet and become
more physically active. And we ask the public
to work with us by taking responsibility for their
own lifestyle choices.  See:  Healthy Lives, Healthy People. A call to action on obesity in England, 13 October 2011. (PDF)
Labour created 'Change for Life'  (Change For Life Website ).  The new Conservative/Lib Dem government has chosen to continue with this scheme.  (Change For Life 3 year marketing strategy (PDF)

To me, this seems like a lot of bureaucracy and meddling.  It isn't that difficult.  There are things I would do. 
Make sure there are good houses.  The right kind of houses.  Detached houses with big gardens.  And make sure there are green spaces within a walking distance of every house. 
There should be space to grow your own vegetables - which is another reason why new homes need to have large gardens.  Making space for allotments will also mean people are more likely to eat healthily.
Make sure the new planning system doesn't lead to building on areas used to exercise, like parks and playing fields.
More time allocated to exercise in schools
More intensive work outs in schools such as long distance running and exercise bikes.  Often, a lot of kids just stand about during games and PE.
The knowledge that the government is taking responsibility for your health, is going to lead to unhealthiness.  It would be better if the government would be seen to be doing nothing.  That way people would take responsibility for their health. 
So, abolish Change 4 life.  Save the money and plow it into improving sports facilities in schools.   Make sure every schools has a playing field next door.  Make sure every school has a sports hall filled with exercise equipment so that kids have continuous exercise.  You do not need a great design.  Just have one design and apply it to all schools.  So, a sports hall that has 2 stories.  Downstairs, just a regular sports hall.  Upstairs it would be filled with gym equipment and workout areas.  Intensive prolonged exercise on exercise bikes or doing aerobics will have the weight falling off.
Tennis courts would also be a good addition.
Another thing you could do is to make sure there are more than just 1st and 2nd teams in football, rugby and cricket.  Make sure all kids are involved in competitions against other schools by creating 3rd,4th and 5th teams.
I would also make sure every school has cookery on the curriculum.  There should facilities in every school to teach cookery.
You may need to create space to accommodate these things.  If this means compulsory purchase orders on houses to make way for new buildings I would do it.   If these means changing the roads network around the school, I would do it.  This may be expensive but if you get the foundations right you will save a lot of money in the future.  A lot of schools just don't have good sports facilities nor devote enough time to exercise.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The BBC, before Christ, and political correctness

Dr Giles Fraser, a Canon Chancellor at St Pauls Cathedral asks:
When did respect turn into political correctness? Giles Fraser,Guardian,28 Sept 2011

This is in regards to the BBC's decision to replace BC (as in Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domino) with BCE (before common era) and CE (common era).

Giles Fraser seems to like established institutions.  He supported the royal wedding in a previous article and now here he has interpreted the outrage at the BBC's decision as an attack on the BBC, not an attack on political correctness.  So he seems to be a fan of the BBC.

His most recent article is on liberalism.  But how can you be a liberal (meaning "freedom" not "toleration") if you support established institutions like the BBC and the monarchy?

The monarchy takes away our freedom to choose our representative.  It creates a social hierarchy based on accent and background that we cannot change.  If you are working class you stay working class.  It restricts our ability to express emotion particularly, positive emotion, due to social pressure not to get above your station.
As for the BBC; we have to pay the government, whether we like it or not, to watch TV.  Very illiberal.

I don't know if Giles is claiming to be a liberal (in the British sense, not the American sense); I just assumed he was since he wrote an article on the subject.  But because the monarchy and the BBC has such a profound negative impact on British society, I don't think he can champion liberalism as a concept while being pro-monarchy and pro-BBC.

A good article on what Liberalism actually is

Isaiah Berlin, part 1: what is liberalism?. Giles Fraser. Guardian.Monday 3 October 2011

Also :
Why I am not a Conservative. FA Hayek. From "The Constitution of Liberty".

Friday, 7 October 2011

Response to Cath Elliott regarding health and safety laws

Cath Eliott disagrees with David Cameron about abolishing Health and safety laws:
Cath Elliott Blog
This is my response to her:
Cath is wrong.  Cameron is right.  Why do we have to feel like we have to consult the government to know if something is OK?  Does that not make people anxious that if they do something wrong then the government will take them away and punish them?  Who wants to live under that strain?  You want people to live in fear do you?  Why do we all have to conform to what a group of (often not very intelligent) people say is right?  What happened to personal responsibility?  It is far better to live in a society where we forgive people if we think they have done wrong, rather than jumping to punish them.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Rape and Johnny Depp

Fox News

Johnny Depp has compared being photographed to being raped, saying “Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped ... It feels like a kind of weird – just weird,”

This has caused an outcry in the USA:
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, Depp ought to know there is a marked distinction between posing for a photographer and being raped.

"While photos may feel at times intrusive, being photographed in no way compares to rape — a violent crime which affects another American every two minutes,” the organization’s spokesperson Katherine Hull told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column on Tuesday. "RAINN welcomes the opportunity to speak with Mr. Depp and educate him about the real life experiences faced by survivors every day, and ways that he can work with RAINN to help." 

Yes we all have sympathy for women who are raped.  But I don't like the idea that you can't say certain things.  Nor do I believe that all women who say they have been raped are traumatised beyond belief.  You choose to be a victim.  It is a state of mind.  Say for instance a man is having sex with a woman and half way through she says stop, but the man doesn't; instead he carries on for another minute until he ejaculates.  A lot of women would say that that is rape.  If you define rape as sex without consent, it is rape.  I am not going to defend the man for carrying on.  I think it is wrong for him to do something that is likely to upset the woman.  But if afterwards he says sorry and is especially nice to her and sucks up to her, I don't think it is right for the state to intervene and send the man to jail for 5 years.  Also, I think 99% of men would stop, because 99% of men don't get any enjoyment out of sex with a woman who isn't enjoying it.  Part of the enjoyment of sex is pleasing the woman.  Why do you think men are so worried about their performance?

I don't see why there should be a law against what happened in the example I gave above, especially if the couple are married.  I don't see how it helps either the man or the woman.  Surely it is better that you don't feel fearful that the state is waiting to pounce on you as soon as a woman says you have done something wrong?  How is that bringing couples closer together?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Not clear women dislike coalition

Apparently, according to The Guardian, women dislike the coalition more than men.  This had led to a consultation of feminist groups who surprise, surprise are complaining that they are being treated badly by the government.

First off, I look at the graph and it isn't obvious that the female vote is falling comparatively worse to males. 

Feminist women are looking for special treatment.  They want to feel like someone is looking after them.  This may make the individual feminist or female Labour politician (or Lynn Featherstone) feel better that they are having their wishes fulfilled, but what is the psychological effect on society?  Remember that it is our taxes that are being used for politicians to spend as they wish.   It is our freedom to say and do what we want, and social norms, that are being affected by this kind of feminist legislation.  They do not have a right to do this in my opinion. 

By government taking action in the name of women, it makes men feel like there is a problem and that they are being forced to work harder to cope with this 'women problem'.  This causes anxiety and makes them feel they have lost control.  It is also at odds with their experience, because they are quite capable of making the women in their lives happier.  Women's happiness isn't dependent on money.  It is to a large degree dependent on how their man (or significant other) treats them.  Women live with men.  Women want the men in their lives to be happy too - otherwise women become anxious and unhappy..  Men naturally take care of women.  They prefer to be the ones to make the women in their lives feel better, and enjoy doing so.  But instead of this happening, we are told from above that 'we have a problem'. But men cannot solve this problem; the government has to solve it.  So you are making men feel bad, but are saying there is nothing we can do to solve it.  Men just want women to be happy.

Why make men feel like they have a burden on their shoulders?   That is not fair.
Also, it isn't ordinary working class women who are calling for special treatment, it is middle class women MP's and women in feminist societies, a lot of whom it seems have a psychological need for emotional support, that are calling for things to be done 'for women' (and not men). Obviously, this feels good for the individual feminist MP to have so much power and to feel like someone is looking out for them and fulfilling their every request, but real working class women aren't benefiting from this.  In other words, the feminist MP's and societies are calling for women to become a burden on men.  This makes men unhappy.  Living with these unhappy men makes ordinary women unhappy.   So it may be a surprise to the individual middle class feminist MP, but most working class women don't want you to do anything specifically for them (and not men).  Unlike the emotionally needy feminists, most women are naturally quite happy.  They have the potential to be happy and independent, or happy and in a relationship.

For most working class men, they prefer seeing a happy woman to an unhappy one. They would go out of their way to make an unhappy woman happy. But of course, because of the feminist legislation, it is socially unacceptable for men to seem nice and do nice things for women.  By doing nice things for women you challenge the consensus , laid down by the government, that all men want to rape and beat up women.  Which individual man is going to challenge that consensus?  It would seem odd.  It would cause anxiety that you were going against what society expects of a man.  Far easier for men o go along with what the government's low expectations of them.  Hence the rise in rape and domestic violence since the introduction of feminist legislation regarding sexual harassment, equality, rape in marriage, and domestic violence.

So, I am against devising policy on the basis of gender.