Monday, 13 December 2010

Britblog Roundup #289

Welcome one and all to the 289th Britblog roundup in which are contained, or 'kettled' (depending upon your political persuasion) the best blogposts of the week.

We'll kick off with the student demonstrations, which... um kicked off this week. HarpyMarx gives her perspective of the protests, and her spelling & grammar deteriorate as her anger rises.

Eventually Carl and me [sic] got out the kettle by Whitehall. As I write protesters are still being kettled, attacks on the Supreme Court and the Treasury. But what do the cops expect when you kettle, contain, correll [sic] people? Treat people like they are nothing, kettling provokes anger and distress. It’s an attack on democracy, freedom of movement and civil liberties.
So where were the riots about Labour's savage attacks on civil Liberties? No enemies on the left eh?
Vive le [sic] resistance!
Of course all the trouble was from a "tiny minority". It wasn't just highly priveleged Cambridge students who happen to be the adopted sons of Pink Floyd guitarist, Charlie Gilmour causing trouble. It was also, as Richard Osley pointed out highly priveleged pupils at the kind of London state school which require a million pounds to buy a house in the catchment area, who were also were demanding that the people who clean those schools pay taxes to ensure their higher education remains "free". Them, a few actual students, the Socialist "Worker" and anarchist group, Class War who are the kind of protest tarts who'll protest the "Cutting" of someone's hair.

There is plenty of talk about "access to higher education". Better Nation gives a round-up of "attacks" on the same. Obviously, it's the Tories who started it. On the other hand, people's opinions change once they're earning. Charles Crawford sums up the "tax payer" position.
Bottom line. I have to pay for three Crawfs to get through school and university. I don't want to pay as well for Charlie Gilmour and the massed student left-fascists swarming round the streets of London yesterday.
Of course a question the left has to ask itself (when they're not masturbating about the thought of "revolution" against "Tory Scum" or engaging in a circle-jerk of indignation about police "brutality") is to what extent will the coalition's policy be to blame for a drop in student numbers from poor backgrounds, vs the grotesque misrepresentation of that policy by the left? On BBC Question Time, the left-wingers refrain was "the details aren't important" because, presumably they reveal a policy which would see the low paid pay less than now, and the wealthy graduates pay more. Meanwhile, nothing is paid up-front. I fail to see how this is wildly different from a time-limited graduate tax. No-one is offering mass, "free" higher education, so why is the Left (and the Labour party) pretending that the Labour party is?

Of course the real loser in this are the Liberal Democrats for whom the reality of coalition Government (something they've long desired) means they cannot make absolute pledges on anything (and nor can anyone else). Peter Cranie brings some sobering by-election results for the yellow team. Maybe that's why Lib Dem voice reckons returning officers aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Still on education, Natalie Bennett reviews Wendy Wallace’s Oranges and Lemons: Life in an Inner City Primary School, and draws some conclusions about why British students do so poorly in international league tables.

The rum business of Julian Assange's rape case generated a lot of comment. Is it rape, or a strange, Swedish law. Is it trumped up for the convenience of the US in the wake of Wikileaks or is it coincidence? The left, on the basis that anyone who pisses the USA off that much is a fellow-traveler, decided that Assange was a Hero. The left, who also believe that all men are rapists, and no accusation is ever malicious, were therefore tying itself in knots, as they played many hands of victim poker. Cath Elliot and Sunny Hundal's spat is detailed here, and here. Chris Dillow sums up the cognitive biases of those involved. This blog's take on the issue, by Mara MacSeoinin, is here. Of course all left-wing support for Assange will evaporate once they work out that he's a libertarian.

Brian Barder welcomes Keneth Clarke's policy on sentencing. As do I and campaigner and inmate Ben points out that the characterisation of the Tories as "hang 'em & flog 'em" types is unfair. A softer line on prison, especially for low-level offences is generally well received by the thoughtful from across the political spectrum. It's the knee-jerk unthinkers who read the Daily Mail tend towards authoritarianism.

Charles Crawford wonders why the FCO can't be excellent, and wonders whether an "excellent" organisation would need a "reputation manager".

Andreas at London cyclist asks the ever-fraught question where cyclists wait at traffic lights. The correct answer is "Are you quite mad? I don't wait unless I have to". Of course there's a vocal, self-righteous minority of cyclists who obey the law and like to tell everyone about it. Towards the end of the thread, the vast majority of people who go through when it is safe to do so in order to avoid getting crushed, start commenting.

Environmental issues got a lot of airing, with many on the right reviewing Britblog founder Tim Worstall's book. Here's one from Samizdata. Jonny Porritt calls for no nuclear subsidy, Tim calls him on double standards. Climate resistance goes into a great deal of detail about Prof. Brian Cox on the BBC. Barkingside 21 calls on people to reuse and reduce, being more important than recycling.

The 'F-word deals with the fraught process of comment moderation. This is not something I have to deal with on this blog - free speech and all that. But some people think that words can hurt, and feel the need to censor others' opinions, and it can become a lengthy and time-consuming process. Which is another reason I don't bother. A third reason to not bother is that as I understand it, if you moderate you ARE responsible for comments which are potentially libellous. If you don't, you're not. If someone complains, I have the opportunity to take the comment or the post down. If I don't like a comment I ignore it. If I think it's spam, I delete it. I think the hyper-sensitive feminists at the f-word would do well to publish and ignore anything they find hurtful. Anonymongs & trolls trouble all blogs. Let them be, they haven't the wit to generate their own readership. Though the staggering hypocrisy of that last comment will not be lost on those who write the left-wing blogs where I make a nuisance of myself...

Can I urge everyone to send in just one or two of the best posts they come across to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com. The same people every week are sending in nominations, which means the same blogs get nominated. This is not to denigrate those regular contributors at all, the Britblog wouldn't work without Natalie Bennett and the Chameleon & co. who submit something every week, and I certainly cannot hold myself up as a paragon with my erratic nomination. Set an alert on your calendar to send an e-mail every Friday with the best posts you've seen in the week. Use the star button on your rss reader to go back over the best of the week's posts. I just feel this process could be brilliant if there were more and varied contributors - the more the merrier. Note to self: Must. Do. Better.

Next week we're at the Chameleon's place.



4 comments:

startledcod said...

The claim that protestors 'were demanding that the people who clean those schools pay taxes to ensure their higher education remains "free"' is a convenient construct but not really born out by the true state of affairs. The top 1% of tax payers pay 24.1% of all income tax, the top 10% pay 53.3%, the top 50% pay 88.4% leaving just 11.6% paid by the bottom 50%. As usual it is the rich and not so rich who pick up the bill.

Jackart said...

Tax is not just about income tax. The overall situation is a lot less progressive when other taxes are taken into account.

startledcod said...

It isn't just about Income Tax, you are correct, but the 'rich' pay a disproportionate amount of consumer tax like VAT because they simply have more disposable.

My understanding of what progressive means is essentially squeezing the rich (maybe not until the pips squeak) to help out elsewhere. And yet as the Laffer Curve and George Bush's tax cuts show, if you want the rich to pay more lower the top rate. Squeeze too hard and the very richest bugger off as they, like corporations, are much more mobile than us worker bees. If the top 0.5% of tax payers were to leave we would probably lose 15%+ of our income tax take and a significant reduction in VAT, Stamp Duty etc.

On the general subject of paying for tertiary education I have very recent experience of the alternative as my son will shortly start University in the US. When visiting different colleges one of the pitches they make is their value for money. Value matters in education as in most other things. As an overseas student he didn't qualify for any aid so he knew that he had to get into the State Uni of New York at US$11.7k pa because we couldn't afford the US$37.5k pa private alternative. Talented kids from poor backgrounds would get in to either. Guess which is more competitive.

Funding tertiary education: set all Universities/ex-Polys free and devise a raft of alternative funding options that ensure that anyone who has the requisite talent can get a great Uni education, lose the flat rate, why should a Nurse pay the same per annum as a Doctor?

weggis said...

Ha ha! "Blogs by Idiots" in the side bar - love it! But Molly?

I will try to submit something on Friday.

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