30 March 2010

Spring of discontent

Is it 2010 or 1979 in Britain? One might be briefly excused. You see there is a Labour government in power, far from popular. Two large trade unions are holding strikes literally weeks before the general election.

UNITE representing British Airways cabin crew is now into itsr second strike and now the RMTU, led by the avowed Marxist (yet paid a healthy six figure salary) Bob Crow, is calling the first national rail strike since 1994.

Why? Well British Airways is in dire financial straits. Many of its Heathrow based cabin crew are on pay and terms and conditions that hark back to before the airline was privatised, with the average pay double that of Virgin Atlantic and reportedly higher than any other airline globally. The management is seeking to put Heathrow crew on the same pay and conditions as Gatwick crew, given the airline has had record losses. In short, this is about the survival of the airline, in a world where most recently Japan Air Lines, Olympic Airways and Alitalia have all effectively folded and either been recapitalised or bought out from the creditors.

On the railways, the issue is with Network Rail, the government guaranteed nominally private company that owns and runs the rail network. It is seeking to change maintenance practices so that trains can run more frequently at weekends and late evenings, and has endorsement from the Office of Rail Regulation for the changes. The union is claiming the strike is about safety, but has little support from that from elsewhere.

So many BA flights are not taking off (Gatwick flights will given the crew there have no reason to strike, and some cabin crew at Heathrow are refusing to go on strike), and the four days after Easter will see most trains not running. A spring of discontent is in the wind. Gordon Brown is less than impressed.

Of course the problem Labour has is that UNITE is the largest financial contributor to the Labour Party, and the RMTU is also affiliated. Some Labour MPs support the strike, although they are keeping very quiet about it. However Gordon Brown and the rest of Cabinet cannot hand on heart state opposition to those who fund them. In other words, a very clear political link can be made between Labour and the unions who have decided to go on strike close to the election.

Isn’t this suicide, you say? Surely unions WANT Labour in government? Well, this is about two things. Firstly, the belief that this pressures Labour Ministers to intervene on the side of the union, to get what they might otherwise not get if the government changes. What the unions don’t realise is that this is likely to play into the hands of the Conservatives, by showing Labour as anti-business and back in the bad old days of government intervening in industrial disputes. Secondly, as far as the RMTU is concerned, Bob Crow says that it doesn’t really matter if Labour loses, because both main parties are so similar.

What some in the union movement want is for Labour to lose, so that Gordon Brown can be replaced, and the vestiges of New Labour are purged to move it further to the left. In other words, they still believe in socialism. What they failed to note was how roundly such a Labour Party was defeated in 1983 when it had the socialist wet dream manifesto.

It is too early to tell whether it means the deathknell of the government. If only because the Conservative Party seems like it engages in the art of spin, of saying very little and criticism rather than ideas. When asked about spending cuts, the Conservatives talk about small ticket items and protecting the NHS. The simple truth is that whatever major party governs Britain, it is made up of politicians who primarily want to spend other people’s money and direct their lives. Until that trap is broken, the cycle of discontent will continue.

25 March 2010

Bribing voters with their kids future stolen money

What do you do on the eve of a general election, when your predecessor as Chancellor of the Exchequer (now Prime Minister) used most of the last 13 years of economic prosperity to grow the size of the state from 39% of GDP in 1997 to over 46% today?

When public debt, at 43% of GDP when this government was first elected in 1997, is now forecast to be 72% this year, and some say when including state sector pension and Public Finance Initiative liabilities is over 100% of GDP?

You do next to sweet bloody nothing.

You keep middle and upper class welfare, like the "Winter Fuel Allowance" which is a subsidy to home gas and electricity prices for everyone over 60 over winter. Yes David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Mohamed al-Fayed can all get this one.

You set up a couple of new financial/planning bureaucracies to "invest" in the economy.

You hike up some taxes, cut the fringes of a few others, and keep propping up the property market (can't let prices drop to market levels to let more people afford to buy can you?).

You optimistically forecast that you'll halve the deficit in five years, which simply means you'll keep borrowing from future taxpayers a bit less each year.

You announce proudly that you're borrowing, on behalf of every British household, ANOTHER £8,000 each. That is on top of the current public debt per household of around £50,000.

You DON'T announce big cuts in spending in welfare, health, education, nanny state bureaucracies, corporate welfare and the like.

You leave that to the next government, which is more likely than not going to NOT include Labour.

Then, no doubt, you'll moan and point fingers at the cruel heartless new Conservative (maybe Conservative/Liberal Democrat) government for all of the spending cuts it imposes, saying how mean they are for NOT wanting to hike up the debt of future generations of taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the 30% plus of the public dependent on taxpayers for their jobs or incomes will dutifully march to give you a tick at the next election, because you now cater for them - because if they weren't so dependent, they might just be less interested in voting for you.

The first bid in the advance auction of stolen goods has been made, and it's pretty much "keep spending and let your kids worry about Greek levels of debt per capita".

Of course one difference with Greece (the most important one is that the UK government isn't lying about the figures, generally speaking), is the pound is responsive to all of this - given UK public sector borrowing is effectively printing money (by issuing bonds).

The Pound has fallen to a two week low against the US Dollar.

You see, one of the tactics (with little concern for the effect) is to simply steal from holders of Sterling in the form of devaluing their cash savings by borrowing more.

Now it's time to call an election, shame the alternatives are as inspirational as a puddle in a tunnel.

Why Obama's health reforms are quite wrong

If you simply read and listen to many in the mainstream media talk about this story, you might ask whether any of them bothered to critically review the legislation passed by the Congress and signed by Obama on healthcare.

In the simple, binary world of so many the impression is given that health care in the US is a "privately owned fully commercial free market system where people are left to die on the streets unable to pay for ambulances or lying in hospitals not being treated because they can't pay".

This is a bold faced lie on multiple levels. How many say that half of all US healthcare is funded by government through Medicare and Medicaid, which provide healthcare for the elderly and poor families respectively? How many say that the budget for Medicare is 20% of the federal budget, with Medicaid being half that again?

How many say that the health market in the US is heavily regulated, with hospitals required to treat accident and emergency patients regardless of ability of pay? How many say that some states restrict the market to protect some health providers, so there isn't free and open competition across the country? How many talk about the burden that precedents to allow ridiculous tort law claims imposes upon the health sector? (In the last case the Republicans do, because high profile Democrats include tort lawyers).

The failure in the US is not about universality. As Libertarianz Leader Dr. Richard McGrath (himself a health professional) states:

"When the figure touted was 47 million uninsured, the breakdown was like this:

18 million earned over $50k (half of this group earn over $75k) and chose not to insure themselves;
13 million were illegal aliens;
8 million were under age 18 and had public cover available if poor;
leaving 8 million uninsured (3% of the population), many of whom were 18-20 year olds at low risk of medical problems."

So the REAL figure of those without insurance is far less than is bandied about by the press. The big issue in the US is cost, and the biggest source of cost inflation has been the public sector. Who says that? The Congressional Budget Office notes:

"total federal Medicare and Medicaid outlays will rise from 4 percent of GDP in 2007 to 12 percent in 2050 and 19 percent in 2082—which, as a share of the economy, is roughly equivalent to the total amount that the federal government spends today. The bulk of that projected increase in health care spending reflects higher costs per beneficiary"

In other words, the GOVERNMENT side of US healthcare (which is largely ignored) is growing exponentially. The legislation signed by Obama doesn't touch this at all.

The Cato Institute solution is wiser. Its proposals are:
- Eliminate tax incentives for employer bought health insurance and apply them to individually bought health insurance. This means people have a vested interest in buying health insurance that meets their needs, and puts pressure on such insurance to not provide excessive cover;
- Eliminate restrictions that prohibit people buying health insurance from providers in other states, this is an unnecessary restriction on competition;
- Eliminate state specified minimum requirements for health insurance that in some cases include cover for procedures many would not wish (e.g. in vitro fertilisation) (indeed allowing interstate competition would produce strong incentives on states to do this);
- Licensing and regulation of what medical practitioners can do, and standards for licensing should be shifted towards industry driven accredited standards.

For example, it makes sense to be able to insure against accident or disease that is not predictable. Not to insure against self injury, or the consequences of heavy drug or alcohol consumption. No bigger incentive towards healthier lifestyles would exist than for people to notice that if they smoked, they might not get any health cover for respiratory diseases.

The Obama health reforms tinker with health insurance to make it compulsory for everyone to have health insurance, and to subsidise those who can't afford it. It does not address the cost escalation in the heavily regulated market, but especially does not address cost escalation in the US's own socialised health care - Medicaid and Medicare.

Expect future years to have healthcare remain a major issue in the US, because Obama is, for now, printing money and borrowing it, to pay for his grand plans. Living for now, letting future generations bear the cost - a curious metaphor for how so many of those living at the bottom treat their own lives.

Oh and while you consider that, it is worth noting that both the UK and New Zealand are rare among developed countries in not having an insurance based model for healthcare. The result of that is a continued growth in concern about significant groups of people who live unhealthy lifestyles, and a desire to tell them what to do in order that governments ration spending on diseases of lifestyle.

A better approach is for people to pay themselves, buy insurance and face higher premiums or the inability to get insurance because no one will sell it to them if they are eating, drinking, smoking and idling themselves into chronic conditions.

However, socialists prefer to treat such people as children, and for you to pay when they don't listen.

11 March 2010

Internet scaremongering by newspaper

The Daily Mail has done one of its usual "the country is full of pedophiles" stories by having a journalist pretend to be a 14yo girl on Facebook, claiming "she" got umpteen requests from older men for sexual attention.

However, look at the comments section for the most popular, and you'll find oodles of people saying the likes of 'I'm unsure how this happened, my teenagers have been on Facebook for ages and don't have this issue as they know how to use it' or 'I used the internet since I was 11, occasionally had pervy attention and just blocked it or closed the window'.

In other words, Facebook isn't the problem. It allows you to control privacy settings, and most teenagers are smart enough to simply block unwanted attention. It's logical and rational, after all it is only words and images on a computer screen.

The bigger issue is clearly when teenagers ARE looking for this sort of attention, which is more a sign of issues with family, confidence and desperately seeking someone to listen to them and make them feel good about themselves. THAT is the issue, the seeking of self esteem from others, when it isn't effectively taught at home or school. A culture of sacrifice, altruism and belief that what matters is what you do for others, not yourself, encourages this.

Of course even with that some will be curious and daring, and make foolish mistakes. However, there are laws to prosecute people who engage in underage sex, and those who use the internet to meet young people for that purpose are leaving obvious trails to track them down and get them prosecuted. Curiously, some of the more recent cases of internet bullying have been with their peers, not adults. Will laws be created to prosecute teenagers for being mean to each other online? Or is it better to promote safe behaviour online, using defamation and harassment laws as they stand and let reason prevail?

The key point is that most teenagers most of the time look after themselves well online, and are more than competent to protect themselves and not meet strangers they find online alone in private places. The few who don't, do so for reasons that no law will fix, and those who care about them should provide means for them to be able to communicate what it is they want and why, in a non-judgmental and open manner. If they do stray, and do end up engaging in illegal behaviour offline, the criminal law remains to provide harsh penalties for those who exploit the young, and the internet is a fine tool for finding such people!

UPDATE: The Guardian reports the Daily Mail is facing the threat of a defamation suit because it initially claimed that it was Facebook that was used for this story.

Hedge fund manager puts socialists on the spot

Last night on BBC's Newsnight, a hedge fund manager, Hugh Hendry participated in a discussion about how he is speculating on Greece defaulting on its debt. He was joined by Joseph Stiglitz, a US economist, and Spanish Ambassador to the UK, Carles Casajuana.

Many on the left blame the likes of him who in speculating on Greece's public finances, when what he actually is doing is exposing the real risk. He is doing it with his own money and money of those who have chosen to trust him to manage.

That is the fundamental difference.

He has bet millions on the Euro, betting on it dropping if Greece defaults. As he says, if he is wrong, he and his investors lose. He expects nobody to bail him out. If he succeeds, it will be because he is right.

Why is he in a position to do this? Because the Greek governments, democratically elected for years, have been both lying about the public finances and been lax about getting those who elect them to pay for what they want.

However, the discussion on Newsnight last night was simply beautiful.

Stiglitz claimed there should be more borrowing and spending, and it is "absurd" to bet on a default. Hendry said simply:

"Look what happens - you get into difficulty and these guys over here [pointing at Stiglitz and Spanish Ambassador to the UK, Carles Casajuana] say, "hey we don't like it."

"Suddenly the truth hurts! Suddenly we want to abandon the truth. Suddenly speculation becomes a pejorative term!"

In other words, the politicians and some economists want reality evaded, the truth of the Greek government's inability to see that constant borrowing is unsustainable, is something they don't want to know - because what it really means is that spending must be cut, drastically.

Then he got threatened by the weasel who is the Spanish Ambassador who said "we're coming to get you".

He replied: "I see you champagne socialists when I travel business class, and the reason you're up in arms now is because you've got yourself into a crisis and cannot get out of it. So you're looking for scapegoats".

Indeed. The unaccountable reality evaders, statists both on the left and right, wont confront the truth that they are trying to defend mortgaging future taxpayers with their profligacy of today.

If the European Union decides to pillage taxpayers to save its members from default, then it will deserve the backlash that will be inevitable. Blaming entrepreneurs for betting with their own money for the failings of government is a lame attempt to cover up massive incompetence and failure by governments to spend within their means. Indeed, it would demonstrate once and for all the anti-business, anti-capitalist and pro-statist agenda of the European Union, except this time taxpayers are unlikely to stand for the machinations of those who like to spend their money for them.

Let Greece default, let Portugal, Spain and others follow.

Meanwhile, watch Hendry's excellent performance here and see the difference between someone who has made a success of his life and taken risks, compared to those who have spent their lives living off the back of others:


UPDATE: Here is Hendry again, for UK viewers only (through BBC iPlayer) pulling apart Poul Rasmussen, leader of the Party of European Socialists. The start is 22 minutes into the programme...


10 March 2010

International Women's Day is a day to celebrate the private car

No objectivist could seriously consider there is any room for debate on whether women should be treated equally under the law to men. Furthermore, it is clearly irrational for private individuals to treat the deeds, skills, experiences or opinions of women as being inferior to men, purely due to the presence of different genitalia.

Having said that, there are many cases where discrimination on the basis of sex IS rational, simple things like personal preferences as to the sex of a doctor for sensitive issues, or quite simply human sexuality. As long as such a selection is rational, there is no reason to oppose it.

However, this post isn't about that, it is about how technology and capitalism have benefited women. Of these, one of the most beneficial inventions has been the private car.

The car has allowed more women to have access to employment, as it enables access to jobs that are NOT located in central business districts (which typically are accessible by public transport), and provides flexibility to engage in part time work around tasks many mothers undertake (such as the school run and grocery shopping).

Alan Pisarski notes that in the USA, the number of women with driving licences is approaching that of men, a trend which is not the case in many other countries. This access to personal mobility has been critical in women being able to access more and better opportunities for employment and business, as well as social opportunities. The presence of a second car in homes has particularly added to this, and that has been due to the ever declining real cost of purchasing and owning a car.

In most cases, it is quicker, cheaper and more convenient for women to access employment by car. This trend is unlikely to be reversed by the wishful thinking of supporters of coercively funded collectivised transport, which obviously has a role in assisting with people's mobility, but cannot ever replicate the flexibility that the car offers. It is that flexibility that has contributed towards expanding the horizons of opportunities for women.

Small mercies from new Auckland transport body

Now I've been damning of the creation of the Auckland mega city consistently. Quite simply, making councils in Auckland merge, whilst keeping their nearly unlimited power to enter into business, welfare activities, buy what they wish, set rates for whatever they wish, is a recipe for potentially untrammeled socialism at the local level. The last Labour Government gave local authorities a "power of general competence" (led by Alliance MP and Local Government Minister, Sandra Lee), which National and ACT opposed, yet both parties are now creating the largest government agency outside direct central government control in Auckland.

Transport is clearly one of the big issues for Auckland, but it is important to note the roles and responsibilities for that activity in the city. Bear in mind I am talking about urban transport, not intercity or international passenger or freight transport. Most of that operates quite well with little involvement of local government, except with local roads.

The creation of "Auckland Transport" as the new Council Controlled Organisation responsible for local body transport duties in Auckland has caused a bit of a stir with both Brian Rudman and Bernard Orsman opposing it. Indeed, it is noted that The Treasury, Ministry of Economic Development and Department of Internal Affairs all opposed it. Whilst the Internal Affairs opposition is unsurprising, the opposition of both Treasury and MED should put paid to any belief by those on the left that either agency is dominated by a "new right neo-liberal" agenda. For removing local transport operational matters from direct political interference WOULD be embraced by those who believe in less politics, less bureaucracy and more professional approaches to providing services.

However, let's be clear about what Auckland Transport will do.

It will operate Auckland's local roads, the roads that are not state highways. It will seek ratepayers money to pay for around half of the local road costs, and bid to the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) for the rest (which gets its money from road users through fuel tax etc). It will contract out all of the maintenance and construction work (as usual). There will, in essence, be little change, except that like the state highways, they will be run at an arms length from politicians. Given New Zealand's state highways are acknowledged by the World Bank to be among the best managed in the world, this is no bad thing. The less political interference in managing the roads the better, as we have seen with telecommunications, electricity and postal services.

The second function is around public transport. Auckland Transport will contract subsidised public transport services, and regulate commercial ones. Buses, trains and ferries. It will own some infrastructure, but not the rail network (which is now Kiwirail). So it will do what ARTA does, decide what it wants to use ratepayers money to subsidise, seek funding from the NZTA for it, and contract services. Now as much as I believe that function should be phased out, it is exactly what you want to have at arms length from politicians. Why should politicians dictate bus routes, train timetables or the conditions for contracting services?

So why is Bernard Orsman upset? He doesn't like "unelected" directors making these decisions, yet this is exactly how half of Auckland's transport funds already get allocated, and how Auckland's state highways are managed - by the NZTA board. A board appointed by the Minister of Transport, but which is statutorily required to make its own decisions based on specific criteria such as economic efficiency. Other Auckland transport assets are run the same way, like the Ports of Auckland, locally owned but a company. Auckland Airport is a largely privately owned company. Kiwirail has a politically appointed board, but is a state owned enterprise. It's NORMAL for there to not be day to day political interference in the transport sector.

After all, look at the state of Auckland transport. The worst congestion is on the local road network, the network starved of investment in part because local government prevaricates about funding new capacity. In addition, it has been obsessed with introducing bus lanes, but showing no interest in allowing the capacity of those underused lanes to be shared with trucks or taxis.

A better solution would be to run the roads as a company, and give it the right to charge motorists directly (in exchange for refunding fuel tax and road user charges), and for property owners to take back the roads outside their premises in exchange for a cut in rates, but to be grateful for small mercies - at LEAST transport in Auckland will be one step less political.

Still politicians will raise rates to pay for roads and public transport. Public transport that if the roads were properly priced based on cost and demand/supply, wouldn't need to be subsidised. Roads that should be paid for mostly by road users, with property owners paying for accessways (for example).

Brian Rudman doesn't like having an arms-length organisation for Auckland transport, yet gives arguments as to why it should exist. There are plenty more. How many councils have roads fixed up to the point where a councillor lives, or a major friend of some politicians? How confident are you that YOUR needs are to be met by a local authority politician?

So there is no reason to worry, it might be slightly better than the way things are now, but not much. The left oppose Council Controlled Organisations because they see them as a step to their bogey - privatisation. It isn't that, unfortunately, but it is a step towards transport being driven by professionalism and delivering infrastructure for users, not meeting political demands first.

Those who oppose it might wonder why they seem to have no problem with it in so many other parts of the transport sector, or whenever else government provides infrastructure.

04 March 2010

Devon and Cornwall Police harass peaceful residents

The Daily Telegraph reports how the Devon and Cornwall Police raided a home that contained a S & M dungeon. Not a brothel (though I suspect they thought it was), no one was being kept against their will, but for some unidentified reason three people have been arrested.

The report shows how utterly disinterested the Police are in the individual rights of the owners or anyone who would come to visit:

"The first officer who approached the home was wearing a suit and tie and when he knocked on the door we believe they thought he had an appointment.

"They invited him in but then several officers followed him in and carried out the search and found the dungeon. While we were conducting a search one gentleman arrived.

"He walked straight passed police vans and cars and several officers and rang the bell inquiring about an appointment. We had to have a word with him."

No you didn't, he wasn't hurting anyone. Fight some real crime! It's a disgrace, with the Police attitude even more telling:

DS Gilroy said: "We are glad to have disturbed this activity and restored normality to the neighbourhood. We would also like to thank residents who reported the activity to us."

Inspector Phil Chivers, police inspector for the South Hams, added: "This incident demonstrates that we, the police, are reliant on information from the community."

WHY are you glad to have disturbed this activity? What damned right did you have to be proud of disturbing people when you have NO evidence of any real crime? What the hell is "normality", are adults not allowed to have interests that you don't think are normal? Does Britain have a Ministry of Virtue and Vice now?

It's absolutely disgusting that the Police don't think they work for everyone and to protect their rights, rather than to be the interfering Stasi style busybodies.

It's not as if there is a lack of real crime to be chasing, or is this sort of case far too interesting for the Police to not stick their beaks into?

Michael Foot, committed Marxist altruist, is dead

Michael Foot is best known for having led the British Labour Party to the greatest defeat in its history, in the 1983 election. After the 1979 defeat of James Callaghan, Foot was the choice of the far left of the Labour Party and so helped produce the “longest suicide note in history” as the 1983 Labour Manifesto was called. It openly called itself a programme of socialist reconstruction.

It offered, at the height of the Cold War, to scrap Britain’s nuclear arsenal, withdraw Britain from the EEC, nationalise more industries, raise taxes, and return to the economy being run by diktat by meetings between government, unions and business. It promised massive increases in welfare, and new bureaucracies across many aspects of life, including consumer shopping advisory centres!

Foot was unashamedly socialist, he took on Margaret Thatcher and the result was a split in the Labour Party, as moderates fled to a party that eventually merged and formed the Liberal Democrats.

Had Foot won the 1983 general election, it would have been a disaster both economically and strategically for Britain. It may have been a turning point in the Cold War, as the UK stepped to one side, and the West would have been weakened, heightening Reagan’s resolve, but isolating Britain. The withdrawal from the EEC would have further isolated Britain, as investment would have dropped away, and the long slow decline of post war Britain would have accelerated once more. The dream of so many on the left was not wanted by the majority of voters. His election would have emboldened the likes of Constantin Chernenko, and would not have provided sustenance for the Solidarity movement in Poland, but rather the intellectual pygmies that ran their criminal states east of the Iron Curtain. He would have eviscerated friendship between the US and the UK, and frightened those on the front line of the Cold War. A socialist wet dream of accelerated decline, economic deception and surrender to the Soviet threat.

The 1983 election, in the height of recession and high unemployment, saw the Conservatives pick up an additional 58 seats, Labour losing 60 and the SDP/Alliance (which would become the Liberal Democrats) picking up 12 more seats. It also saw Gordon Brown get elected to the seat of Dunfermline East, his second attempt to get elected. You may think Labour in the UK today is far removed from that of Michael Foot, but Brown still espouses much of the philosophy of Foot.

Foot, you see, once said this:

We are not here in this world to find elegant solutions, pregnant with initiative, or to serve the ways and modes of profitable progress. No, we are here to provide for all those who are weaker and hungrier, more battered and crippled than ourselves. That is our only certain good and great purpose on earth, and if you ask me about those insoluble economic problems that may arise if the top is deprived of their initiative, I would answer 'To hell with them.' The top is greedy and mean and will always find a way to take care of themselves. They always do.

He didn’t believe people existed for their own purposes, to pursue their dreams, their endeavours, but for others. He was a committed altruist. He believed good only came from helping others, he believed in redistributing wealth, he didn’t care how it was created. Therein lies the practical failings of the man.

Morally he expressed the view that people existed for the sake of others. I would condemn that, but then why pick on him? He was, at least, open and honest about his principles and convictions. The likes of Gordon Brown are not, yet they have the same philosophical approach. Conservatives do as well, as do almost all across the political spectrum. The belief not that your life is your own and your purpose is to pursue your values, but that your life has an unchosen obligation to provide for others.

Fortunately Michael Foot did not get to impose democratic Marxism on the UK. Sadly, whilst a man of principle and honesty, he still, fundamentally, held the belief that is basic to what most politicians believe in – that the individual does not primarily exist for his or her own purposes. That philosophy, as important in all major political parties across liberal democracies, has not died with Michael Foot - all he did was espouse it more openly, consistently and radically than others.

Curious, you see, that the 1983 manifesto did include a national state owned broadband network...

03 March 2010

EU screws Britain on Olympics

Reported this morning on BBC TV news.

EU law prohibits the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics from setting aside tickets for sale only to Londoners or UK citizens/residents - because it would be discriminatory.

So despite UK taxpayers forking out £6 billion for the Olympics, those paying for it aren't entitled to privileges regarding ticket sales.

Yep, another reason why the EU goes so far and beyond what is useful....

Democrats don't understand the Tea Party

Now I've seen it all, arch statist in the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi is claiming to share some of the views of the "Tea Partiers".

"that's why I've fought the special interest, whether it's on energy, whether it's on health insurance, whether it's on pharmaceuticals and the rest" she said according to the Daily Telegraph

So apparently it IS having an impact, when a party which has made the careers of hundreds of vested interest supporting, pro-protectionist, pro-subsidy, pro-government intervention politicians thinks it has to listen. In fact, the Democrats have such a disgusting filthy tradition of corrupting politics in the US that they deserve nothing but contempt, and of course many Republicans are little different.

So much which is great about the United States has been corrupted by the relentless growth of government, fueled in part by the ambitions of the vile little thieves in both houses of congress, constantly demanding other people's money for their pet projects, pet industries and pet lobbyists, and demanding protection and regulation to mollycoddle industries, unions, government agencies and the like.

Nancy Pelosi has always been part of the problem, opposing moves towards balanced budgets, supporting the endless expansion of Medicare and Medicaid and the welfare state.

What's important is that the Tea Party movement has struck a chord, with millions who are sick of politicians thinking they are spending their money, and thinking they can keep doing it.

What it lacks is a single individual to rally behind politically and to take the message consistently forward.