Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bravo!! for 42 Members of the Australian Senate

Clameur de Haro salutes the 42 members of the Australian Senate who yesterday brought some much-needed legislative sanity to the Great Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change Scam by voting to reject the leftist Rudd Government's potentially ambitious tax-hiking (in the midst of a recession), economy-damaging, and over-regulating Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
And Chapeau! especially to Sen. Steve Fielding, who rather than just succumbing to the Green alarmists’ propaganda and all the usual hysterical “denier” / “you are killing our children” / “you must be in the pay of big mineral” insults from the shrills, actually talked to as many scientists as possible, came to the realisation that the science is very far from settled and there is very much not total consensus, and then presented impeccable, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence to the effect that man-made CO2 emissions are small compared with natural ones, and The Inconvenient Truth that despite rising CO2 levels, global temperatures have not in fact risen for more than a decade.
And what a delightful irony that 5 Green Party senators, furious that the Scheme didn’t go far enough for their tastes in the direction of hobbling business and the economy in the name of saving the planet, voted against it and thereby helped to bring it down. The words “hoist” and “petard” come unaccountably to mind.
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Two More Nails in the Coffin of Legitimate Financial Freedom

Clameur de Haro regrets to see that two more blows were struck this week against the freedom of the law-abiding to deploy their legally-acquired assets in entirely lawful ways.
On Tuesday, as part of a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with Lichtenstein, HM Revenue & Customs cut a deal with the Principality’s authorities under which HMRC will “offer” limited penalties on unpaid UK tax liabilities originating from Lichtenstein bank deposits, but the Lichtenstein authorities will arbitrarily close the accounts of depositors who decline to volunteer details to HMRC.
It’s disturbing to note that the intensification of pressure on the Principality arose largely from the German Government being prepared to trade in stolen property, i.e. buying customer data stolen from a Lichtenstein bank by a former employee.
Then on Wednesday, the HMRC Special Commissioners delivered a ruling which means that some 308 national and international banks with operations in the UK will be forced to hand over details of customers with bank accounts offshore, in defiance of banking confidentiality.
If both of these initiatives are targeted solely at illegal tax evasion, then Clameur de Haro has no objection whatsoever. As he posted some time last Autumn –
Neither the slightest degree of opprobrium, nor the slightest taint of immorality, should attach to any private citizen, whether an individual or a corporation, who so arranges his financial affairs, by lawful means, as to minimise or avoid the appropriation of his wealth by the state. [Note the words “by lawful means” and “avoid” – and the latter’s important distinction from “evade” – for CdeH does not defend or attempt to justify in any way, and roundly condemns, the illegal evasion of obligations in contravention of the law of the land].
So CdeH welcome theses initiatives if they only counter illegal evasion and incidentally detect illegal money-laundering - the transgressors deserve what they get, because for freedom to function, it must mean freedom under the law.
But HMRC has recently started to adopt a much more aggressive, authoritarian approach to its remit, one not always in accordance with the settled law of the land. Two things in particular should be of concern: it has been deliberately trying to blur the distinction between legal avoidance and illegal evasion in the direction of treating any and all legitimate avoidance as being, by definition, evasion: and it has been increasingly adopting the position that actual tax law is not what is laid out in statute, as interpreted by the judicial process, but what HMRC consider the intentions of the framers of legislation to have been, irrespective of the actual wording.
In this context, even the law-abiding with legally-held accounts, with no connotations of evading UK tax liabilities, have reason to fear. When government purports to arrogate to itself the power to decide what the law is, we all have reason to fear.
In such ways do viscerally high-taxing states seek to eliminate, by threats and intimidation, the alternatives available to their citizens, rather than lowering their profligate spending, decreasing the tax burdens they impose to fund it, and so reducing the incentives for taxpayers to shelter themselves from it.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Maybe The Kids Are Not Quite So All Right……

Is there a cultural left bias in Jersey’s Health and Social Services towards subverting parental authority and undermining the role of the family by condoning under-age sex?
Tracking at random through a few recent back editions of the Jersey Evening [sic] Post, Clameur de Haro’s eye was caught by one of the facts given by Brook Jersey executive director Bronia Lever on the numbers of teenagers and young adults said to be seeking contraception advice and emergency contraception, “…some as young as 12….”.
For the record, and in case anyone should allege otherwise, CdeH thinks that Brook generally, and its Jersey clinic in particular, fulfils a vital function in the community, and that the advice and contraception sensitively dispensed by the Brook counsellors contribute significantly to reduced incidences of, particularly, early to mid-teen pregnancy – and also that it obviously discharges its functions in a very caring and empathetic way, the very numbers seeking Brook Jersey’s services being, apart from any other implications, a visible testament to its success.
But what we were not told by Ms Lever, however, is how many of those recipients or requestors of contraception advice or emergency contraception were under 16.
Now CdeH is no prude, and recalls with a contradictory mixture of wistful fondness and acute embarrassment his own adolescent fumblings, undertaken, on one or two occasions, while hoping to heaven that his co-fumbler’s assurances that she was 16, yes really, might just be truthful. But at the risk of appearing antediluvian, let’s not forget that 16 remains (until it’s changed by the legislature) the legal age of consent: so it follows, surely, that in the case of a sub-16 female client requesting post-coital emergency contraception, there is prima facie evidence before the clinic and its counsellors of the statutory offence of unlawful sex with a minor having been committed.
CdeH’s original intention, when the idea for this post was taking shape, was to pose the question – “Given that the law of the land has clearly been broken in such a case, to what extent is any judicial process invoked?” – because the idea of a public authority turning a blind eye to a serious breach of law isn’t an easy one to feel comfortable with. But recalling that Jersey seems to be considering the creation of a Sexual Offenders’ Register (of which subject more on another occasion), and then reading in this special briefing in the current issue of The Economist the often appalling consequences for people who can be placed on such a register for comparatively minor “technical” misdemeanours, it strikes CdeH that our local Brook counsellors are probably better using their discretion in mostly declining to get PC Plod involved.
But possibly even more importantly, when and to what extent, in the case of the very sub-16 clients, are the parents brought into the process?
CdeH of course acknowledges the confidentiality argument, and the reality that many of Brook’s clients would probably not consult it at all – with adverse consequences in some cases - if they thought their parents would be informed. But on the other hand, and writing as an erstwhile parent of daughters, it’s also not easy to feel entirely comfortable with the idea of a public authority concealing from loving, concerned, and would-be responsible parents its condoning, to the point of even facilitating, their offspring’s under-age sex.
What also disturbs Clameur de Haro here is the danger that all this isn’t just about sexual health advice and preventing unwanted teenage pregnancy – that it’s also, more insidiously, about furthering, even unwittingly, the cultural left’s agenda for the state to undermine parental authority and the position of the family as the principal societal unit, and to eventually supplant it as the prime nurturer of future generations.
Cultural marxism frequently seeks, whether via economic or social policy means, to weaken the position and authority of the unitary family as a discrete social unit, and to undermine parental rights and responsibilities to this end: it does this because the strong individual family unit, secure against the depredations of the state, is one of the bedrocks of a free society and therefore an inherent threat to the belief that only state activism can guarantee desired social outcomes.
Given the prevalence of cultural left attitudes in the UK social services, and the extent of recruitment and secondment from the UK that Jersey practises, it would be surprising if some of those attitudes had not found their way, either openly or covertly, into our social services locally. Indeed, there have been grounds in recent years for believing that this is so.
Should we therefore be worried that our justified focus on the numbers and youthfulness of some of Brook Jersey’s clients may in fact be masking the less apparent, the less immediate, but the no less significant danger that the role of parents is surreptitiously being diminished?
Clameur de Haro recalls Ms Lever’s, and Brook’s, endorsement a couple of years ago for the initiative launched by the Jersey Police to encourage parents to take greater responsibility for their children. Would it not be unfortunate, to say the least, if a misplaced sociological view of a vulnerable minor’s absolute right to confidentiality contributed to putting obstacles in the way of parents who want to do exactly that?
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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Pikeys, Tessa and Toby

A fine example of uptight bien–pensant political correctness’ continuing assault on legitimate freedom of expression in this righteous indignation offering from Guardianista Jodie Matthews last week.
Ms Matthews, it seems, found the epithet “pikey” (in this case by Richard Hammond on Top Gear) deeply offensive and inappropriate (ah, that wonderful catch-all adjective of the thought police), and professed it to have been used (naturally) solely as a racist slur.
For the record, Clameur de Haro has no truck with racism, and neither commits it nor condones it: certain people, or certain ideas, or certain values, may be offensive, but whole races and religions are not offensive per se (although that does not mean they should be exempt from legitimate criticism).
Ms Matthews however seems to have deliberately ignored the overwhelmingly modern usage of the term “pikey” not as an epithet of racist abuse or presumed ethic origin, but as a convenient shorthand for a disparaging value judgment on the target’s lifestyle, ethics and behaviour. In this modern usage it’s equivalent to “chav” – the connotations it conveys are those of disapproval, not of race or even socio-economic group, but of coarseness and vulgarity, cavalier law-breaking, aggression and inconsiderateness toward others, and cynical manipulation of the welfare system.
But that, of course, is precisely the point of Ms Matthews’ article. Like any right-thinking social commentator on the Grauniad, she presumably recoils in horror at anyone making a value judgement about anyone or anything (unless of course it’s a value judgment she agrees with) as being an infringement of enlightened and progressive non-judgmental attitudes.
No doubt then, she will be suitably castigating the producers of the latest UK DCSF storybook for children for making a value judgment of their own that Tess and Toby the Pikeys Travellers are really just nice, misunderstood, and fun people.
Or possibly, bearing in mind they should tick quite a few of her boxes, she won’t be.........
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Global Warming Nonsense No 94 – Will Climate Change Lead to Stronger Regional Accents?

Just when Clameur de Haro thinks it can't possibly get any sillier - it does.
According to this farrago of sub-intellectual fill-space - well, it is August, after all - from one John-Paul (might he, CdeH wonders, be harbouring delusions of quasi-papal infallibility?) Flintoff of the more verdant parts of The Murdoch Empire, global warming and climate change are going to force us all to live more locally, with the consequence that regional accents will become stronger.
So, thanks to the impending climate catastrophe (er……not), we can doubtless all look forward to the Weighbridge air on a Friday and Saturday night resounding to the dulcet tones of Philloche La Clotte (although at least it’ll be a change from guttural Glaswegian and faux Estuary English……..).
CdeH is indebted to his co-sceptics at the All-Seeing Eye for drawing his attention to this latest example of blatant eco-nonsense – but now finds himself fearful that his inclination to join his brother-in-blogging Jersey 24/7 in refusing to pay in future for online access to the Dirty Digger’s offerings may in fact restrict the chances of further amusement at Mr Flintoff’s drivel.
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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Deconstructing the Financial Crises

On his way back from the Far East, Clameur de Haro passed a good deal of time reading arguably one of the best books yet to be published on the causes of the 2007-08 credit crunch and the subsequent banking crisis, Gillan Tett's book "Fool's Gold".
In an excellent read, Tett comprehensively charts the genesis and development of the ever more exotic, opaque, and risky off-balance-sheet financial instruments and structures that played such a pivotal part in creating the 2007 credit and liquidity crunches, and the ensuing banking meltdown.
Refreshingly however, she also shows that the anti-capitalist left who gleefully parrot the unthinking, intellectually lazy, but - for them - politically expedient mantra of "blame the bankers and blame free markets", disregard the myriad other relevant contributing factors, including those to be laid at the door of governments.
Prominent among these was the 1990’s Clinton administrations’ forcing mortgage providers, on the threat of prosecution and legal sanction under their own misconceived, mal-administered, political correctness-driven equality legislation, to lend to fundamentally uncreditworthy borrowers, with the consequent ratcheting up of the risk of defaults.
Equally significant were the inadequacy of government-conceived regulatory structures whose mandates explicitly excluded the credit derivatives markets and the parallel banking sector, and the lax monetary and interest-rate policies pursued for too long by central banks, at the behest of governments more concerned with creating a short-term feel-good factor for base political purposes, rather than pursuing policies ensuring medium-term financial stability.
Definitely a must-read for those who want to know, and for those who wrongly just assume that they do.
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A Clear Case of Black (Ian) and White (Wash)

It's not often that Clameur de Haro finds himself agreeing with Geoff Southern about anything, but CdeH stands four-square with Mr Southern in his condemnation of the glossing-over by a clearly embarrassed and defensive Establishment of the incompetence and dereliction of fiduciary duty to the taxpayer exhibited by States' Treasurer Ian Black (who, CdeH notes, reportedly attempted to deflect the blame on to the former TTS CEO) in failing to ensure that the incinerator contract was hedged against an adverse exchange rate movement.
This is such a basic requirement - in CdeH's private sector worlds, both past and present, even comparatively junior mid-level finance executives are aware of the need to hedge a substantial currency risk exposure - that its omission virtually defies belief.
Are we to assume that no-one at all, in either the Treasury or TTS, realised the need? Because if that really is the case, then the implications for the management of Jersey's public finances, politely describable as sub-optimal at the best of times, are truly frightening. And the proposal to place Treasury accountants in all departments suddenly looks like not a very good idea at all.
Catching up on the last couple of weeks' Jersey Evening [sic] Post's back numbers since returning to the fold, Clameur de Haro spied Christine Herbert's Business Focus of 28 July, revealing that the Treasury is to deploy more public funds into the markets: presumably this will involve Mr Black's professional oversight of the investment strategy and the investment advisers.
Time for Under The Mattress as a safer option, maybe?
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Friday, August 07, 2009

Back to Jersey – and Back to the Blogosphere

Clameur de Haro found it a stimulating and rewarding experience living and working again in the Far East for the past few months: but with his last-ever overseas assignment having come to an end, and now lately arrived back on the Blessed Rock for good, he feels it’s time to pick up once again the reins of rightwards-inclined posting, to balance a little the local blogosphere’s majority leftward slant.
So, catching up, to what extent have the numerous undesirable features of the Island’s politico-economic landscape which CdeH hitherto railed against improved in his absence? And despite keeping intermittently in touch with events from afar, what does CdeH find on his return the land of his birthright?
Many of the answers, sadly, are not encouraging.
A still-bloated public sector, where spending appears predominantly out of control, where budgetary discipline seems lax or non-existent, and where sufficient determination to tackle either to the large extent actually necessary (as opposed to some cosmetic tinkering at the margins) looks less likely than snowdrifts in August.
Terry the Taxer and Ozo the Bozo purporting to direct an economic strategy which announced an appallingly cynical curtailment of front-line patient services and public facilities, but retracted immediately when objections were made – if cuts were (wrongly) thought necessary in the first place, why were they not defended robustly, however unjustifiable they were? And their cohorts and satraps already musing about raising indirect tax rates.
A government which almost certainly will have neither the vision nor the courage to go through with implementing much-needed staffing cuts, an absolute pay freeze, and pensions reform in public sector employment, nor any inclination to contemplate shrinking the size of the state by withdrawing from activities better undertaken by private enterprise.
A policing function with an effectiveness reportedly all but paralysed by internal strife, but still retaining the ability to commit the unbelievably ham-fisted bungling of what ought to have been a low-key routine investigation, thereby giving that malignant pipsqueak Syvret a golden opportunity to revel in his much-loved but self-proclaimed martyr status.
How depressing too, to see that the vast majority of the local politics blogs remain firmly anchored at the left-green end of the spectrum: some still obsessing, ostrich-like, with conspiracy theories about cover-ups or justice-denial to the exclusion of all else (and goodness knows, there’s no shortage of other things to get worked up about in this mis-governed island), while others continue to proselytize pernicious eco-authoritarian greenery.
At least Ratleskutle, Tony’s Musings, and Jersey 24/7 are still out there, providing a bit of much-needed wider variety of subject-matter.
So Clameur de Haro looks forward to a resumption of both promoting the alternative free-market and liberal prescriptions of a smaller state, reduced public spending, lower taxes and enhanced individual freedoms, and rebutting the authoritarian collectivist fallacies peddled by the pink leftists and their green fascist allies of convenience. Just as a taster for the latter, CdeH spied, on his pre-departure sojourn in a certain Far East airport, this entertaining piece in the Jakarta Globe about a ceiling collapse in a virtually new school building in Cirebon, West Java. Do, please, note the last sentence –
“Dedi Windiagiri, the head of the Cirebon school board, denied that the contractor was to blame. Climate change, he said, was the true cause of the accident.”
Really, you couldn’t make it up, could you? Ridiculous? Of course. But as an example of the fundamental dishonesty of so many genuflectors before the altar of the green religion, and their desire desperation to attribute any misfortune at all, whatever its cause, to the great holy mantra of climate change, regrettably not untypical.
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