Useful Things £430 Million Will Buy You

Following yet another incident of Cameron folding like a deck chair and assuming the position on our behalf it is important to illustrate precisely what £430 million buys you nowadays:

- 14500 band 6 nurses salaries
- 8000 specialist doctors salaries.
- 4 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters so that those aircraft carriers we are set to buy don't look so empty and/or ridiculous when put into service.
- 2 and a half pints of beer for every person in Britain (based on beer being £3 a pint).
- A Mastiff APVfor every 12 Uk troops stationed in Afganistan.
- 12 Boeing CH-47D Chinook Helicopters to serve in Afganistan; after all, he did say in opposition it was "a scandal" there weren't enough helicopters didn't he? Sure I remember that...
- Covering the household debt repayments on UK Government Debt for 22,787 households or, to put it another way, pay our UK sovereign debt interests for 6 hours.
- Buying a Playstation 3 console pack for the lowest earners (<£6000) in Britain.
- More than enough money to propel every member of Blair and Brown's cabinet since 1997 to the moon, preferably one way.

Anyone got any other things we could use the money for?


This Week I've Mostly Been Playing...

In a change of pace from my usual vitriol I hereby present reviews in a subject and past time I have a lot of time for: gaming.

I will cover games, new & old, on the platforms I have (PC and Xbox 360, unless anyone at Nintendo and Sony are willing to bribe me with shiny toys, then them as well) and rate them only own unique system based on a free market approach; what I would willingly pay for them.

So without further ado This Week I've Mostly Been Playing...

Metro 2033

Bored as I was and unable to afford Fallout: New Vegas (Bethesda, take note), I instead bought this with another game (more of which in a separate post) as I'd wanted to try it for some time.

Based on a popular Russian SciFi novel this novel follows the story of Artyom, a survivor in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, living in the tunnels below it along with a few other thousand survivors, his already hard life is made all the harder by the arrival of his step-father's friend, Hunter, who's arrival and disappearance follows a chain of events potentially ending with the end of the human race.

A rarity in first person shooters, the game presents you with a number of difficult choices on top of the standard skilled death dealing of a plethora of enemies; for one good ammo also doubles as currency; pre-apocalypse, military grade ammo is found across the shattered remains of Moscow but it's rarity makes it valuable - you can trade it for better weapons and supplies and post-apocalyptic ammo which packs less of a punch, the technology and knowledge slowly dying out as time has passed.

Additionally weapon choice is a problem; you have a choice between pre-war and post-apocalyptic weaponry, some of it requiring different actions to keep it clean and serviceable; you have to "pump" over-engineered air rifles and crossbows to with an air-pump constantly to keep them firing, difficult when under a hail of gunfire. this is matched by the difficulty in keeping your surroundings amongst the ruins lit; your headlamp (and later night vision goggles) run on batteries that you have to charge using a hand-charging device, levying you vulnerable yet again.)

During your journey as well as seeing the impact of new, mutated, species on humanities quest for survival you also see the regular concepts of humanities own inhumanity; we see resurgent communist and nazi groups, having taken command over several metro stations, vying for control over the few remaining free ones, all the while oblivious to an encroaching darkness...

The game itself has a very good game engine with a good degree of userability and simplicity. The player is required to make difficult choices in that your carryable weapons are limited and thus push you to make choices as to how you progress through the game: do you go in guns ablazing with a pre-war AK-47 and shotgun or stealth it out with silent killers like the crossbow and silenced revolver? The spectre of low ammo and fast, deadly enemies making your choice all the more critical.

Graphically it cannot be faulted either; this is no doubt helped by the nature of your surroundings; unlike the calm pristine beauty present in the Halo games you are made aware of the palpable decay present in this world, presented in a sepia pallet of despair.

All in all this game is definitely a lot better than I had imagined; with so many FPS' out there it is easy to become blind to the innovative that occasionally pops up; games like this are a welcome change.

Rating*: £20, a few months after it has come out.

* = the rating relates to how much I'm willing to pay and how long I'm willing to wait, e.g. Fallout 3 would be "£70 spec. ed., bought immeadiately" whilst Bullet Witch would be "£3 in a charity shop when drunk"; they are not a reflection of what I paid but what I would be willing to pay with a working knowledge of what the game is like.


Natural Oligarchies & Hypocrisy

On my way home last week from work listening to Radio 4 O was caught up in the insanity that was the outcry to this story and was able to hear one of the council leaders discuss this with the presenter (I forget whom); it went something a little like this:

PRESENTER: " Right now we have the Tory (enemy of the people & they who are in receipt of the 2 minute hate each day) leader for Numpty on Sea, one of the councils who are thinking of pooling their procurement processes but for the benefit of not causing our listeners brains to bleed out their ears, we will now convince is a coup d'etat by the fascist, BNP-loving Tory lizard people who run these councils."
PRESENTER: "Now, Generic spokesperson, can you confirm or deny the rumour that your plan involves using puppies and your constituents elderly populace as kindling in the homes of rich hedgefund and bank managers?"....

I might be misremembering the interview somewhat but you get the idea.

Having worked for my own local council in the dim but recent past none of this strikes me as a bad idea; nor does this supercouncil appear particularly super (except maybe, in the minds of the loons at the BBC and the Gaurdian; you know the type - the same who keep calling the Spending Review "cuts" and believe in fairy's and homeopathy).

All they are really doing here is consolidating their buying power by streamlining procurement of services; this is a good and necessary thing as the recession begins to bite and belts are tightened all over.

One thing I would say in criticism is the call for efficiency savings is coming from the top-down; it is still repugnant and hypocritical that Councils get the majority of their income and rules handed down from Whitehall, particularly when the likes of Pickles and Clegg have been waxing lyrical about localism for months now, taking Carswell and Hannan for mugs.

However this pales in commission to the BBC and it's hypocrisy in discussing the actions of Labour strongholds like Greater Manchester in doing the exact same thing.

Dropping the BBC's licence few can't come quickly enough.


For Cretin's On The Subject of Aggregate Demand

Was incensed this evening to read this; should make better efforts not to read twitter before bedtime:

It also makes some keen observations, very relevant today; namely, private investment’s dependency on aggregate demand from public investment and public consumption. Rightly the report notes that balancing the budget in the way the coalition is – in break neck speed – will shrink aggregate demand.

Now not being an economist by training I must profess a naivety in my understanding of "aggregate demand" so here is wiki on the subject:

In macroeconomics, aggregate demand (AD) is the total demand for final goods and services in the economy (Y) at a given time and price level. It is the amount of goods and services in the economy that will be purchased at all possible price levels. This is the demand for the gross domestic product of a country when inventory levels are static. It is often called effective demand, though at other times this term is distinguished.

With me so far? So it's basically a value attached to the accumulated goods and services bought at any one time.

An aggregate demand curve is the sum of individual demand curves for different sectors of the economy. The aggregate demand is usually described as a linear sum of four separable demand sources.[3]


AD = C + I + G + NX

C is consumption (may also be known as consumer spending) = ac + bc(Y − T),
I is Investment,
G is Government spending,
NX = X - M is Net export,
is total exports, and
is total imports = am + bm(Y − T).

Y'see this is what gets me so incensed about Fabians trying to justify theft from productive part of the economy by saying if it doesn't cough up it will suffer as a result; they appear to have got the I and the G mixed up as represented by the equation above. "Public investment and public consumption" (the latter I'll take as being procurement in the public sector) are nothing of the sort; they are Spending, G, and that spending now accounts for a little under 50% when you add up all those little taxes, stealth taxes and regulatory burdens place on consumers and probably over 50% when you stencil in the "opportunity costs" of the state dwarfing personal freedom and monopolising industries like healthcare or schooling.

With Gordon's PFI debt, Byer's botched handling of Network rail and the great ponzi scheme that is Public Sector pension liabilities (compiled here) our real national debt stands at £950Bn plus (we will use that figure for the moment; the other is too scary to contemplate); were we to pay it off this year we would need to put 70% of our economic activity towards putting this debt to bed, before you pay for public services. Let's have a look at that wiki article on what it says on debt:

If debt grows or shrinks slowly as a percentage of GDP, its impact on aggregate demand is small; conversely, if debt is significant, then changes in the dynamics of debt growth can have significant impact on aggregate demand. Change in debt is tied to the level of debt:[4] if the overall debt level is 10% of GDP and 1% of loans are not repaid, this impacts GDP by 1% of 10% = 0.1% of GDP, which is statistical noise. Conversely, if the debt level is 300% of GDP and 1% of loans are not repaid, this impacts GDP by 1% of 300% = 3% of GDP, which is significant: a change of this magnitude will generally cause a recession. Similarly, changes in the repayment rate (debtors paying down their debts) impact aggregate demand in proportion to the level of debt. Thus, as the level of debt in an economy grows, the economy becomes more sensitive to debt dynamics, and credit bubbles are of macroeconomic concern. Since write-offs and savings rates both spike in recessions, both of which result in shrinkage of credit, the resulting drop in aggregate demand can worsen and perpetuate the recession in a vicious cycle.

"debts are not repaid"? Could we substitute this for "money is taken out of government spending" in this instance?

If so debt repayment is set to reach £43bn this year, which is to say 3% of GDP which is a fairly massive impact on "aggregate demand" dont'cha think?

Whether you believe Keynesian economics actually work (there is not one example that it has been successful in existence) it doesn't take a genius to work out that the jump start in the economy will not happen by burning money in the engine of government; Mises and the Austrian School on the other hand felt that recessions were the economies way of telling us where we were going wrong; I'm putting my money on it being the states hiring of one half of the public sector to dig holes whilst the other fills them in again.

With an immediate 3% loss of GDP caused by debt any attempts to stop this getting any bigger are to be welcomed; there is only one monocular cretin to blame for the sorry state we are in.


The "Cuts" Explained

"So Mr. Osbourne do you expect me to meow?" "No; I expect you to DIE!

Imagine you run a big department in a major business; the business has made it a policy of offering shares in itself to it's employees and as a result they have built up a large share through this means.

Like all good businesses it give you a CAPEX (capital expenditure), money to invest in making your department more profitable, and you the dutiful manager work out the best way you can maximise the return on your money.

In 2007 you are given £50 million, in 2008 you are given £75 million, in 2009 you are given £112.5 million and in 2010, at the height of your company suffering losses, you are given £168.75 million; overall up to this point the company board has agreed to give you year on year CAPEX increases of 50%, taken partly out of other departments budgets and partly out of issuing new shares.

Finally the stockholders get fed up of their stock value dropping as a consequence of the reckless support of your department and, back up by other departments that have been squeezed, oust the current management board; their coup however is not as effective as they would like, faced down in part by existing shareholders in your department, meaning that dissenting groups have to combine and direct the business in a productive heading.

One faction believes that cutting your CAPEX and reacting to the changing marketplace's demand for your goods is the only way forward; the other believes further investment, but in different CAPEX spends, is the way forward.

At your next review for 2011 onwards you are thus told that, instead of a CAPEX increase of 50% to £253.13 million it is having to reduce the increase to 25% so that it doesn't have to issue as many shares this year in the company; you thus only get £210.93 million.

Your department supervisors are livid, and are backed up by scathing articles in your businesses in-house magazine which slowly forces the board to recant fearing a revolt and being ousted.

And at no point does anyone question what the CAPEX is being spent on.


Osbourne- some QED

“25 percent taxation is about the limit of what is easily borne.”

- John Maynard Keynes found here

Currently? 47% if GDP.



Rumbled - Damn Your Eyes @JamesDelingpole !

How can it possibly make sense to have a system where the government steals earners’ income through taxes and then gives a tiny sliver of it back to them with a prissy label attached saying: “This is to be spent on your children?” As if, somehow, left to their own devices, salaried parents would instead blow their wodge on Albanian donkey porn and Krispy Kreme donuts?

How did Jimmay know?.

Anyone else missing Obo yet?

The Case for Transferable Tax Credits Grows Stronger

Herr Cameron was on damage control today after the special pleading got a little more clamourous with Labor becoming the defender of the richest in societies welfare cheque and everyone else's head-scratching at the bizarre incongruities of the scheme (or maybe genius of social engineering).

However, amidst the vast turd-sandwich that this is for Cameron he was occasionally doling put golden nuggets of corn:

Mr Cameron admitted he needed to convince the public the tax and benefits system was fair and suggested a transferable tax allowance between couples could make it more balanced.

The transferable tax allowance, also known as a marriage tax break, was a key Conservative election pledge.

The party announced it would allow spouses who did not claim all their taxfree personal allowance to transfer £750 of it to their working partner.

Small beer compared to what I suggested and what our cousins have been espousing across the ocean, this meagre offering of £750, or £63 a month is a fraction of the workable income the non-working parent could earn if they ditched the kids and got to the coalface.

In fact let's look at this another way:

1. If Cambo and his Bory/Soc Dem coalition are so committed to "fairness" and "equality" (of outcome; it would seem there us little difference in action to suggest of opportunity) then they would enable people to have full autonomyover their tax allowance and how and who is responsible for it's use.

2. Looked at another way this is actually an encrouchment on the minimum wage; agree with it or not, if we are to assign a state-mandated value to an hourly rate then it should be based on what the individuals time is worth to them (not what it is worth to the state) - by this estimation based on a 37.5 hour working week (to which most housewives would laugh at, wondering where the other 22.5+ hours went) this transferable tax allowance equates to a "wage" of 39 pence an hour; hardly progressive policy that to pay slave wages eh Dave?

Mrs. Rat was increasingly angst ridden and tearful ever since going back to work full time; the strain of not seeing our baby daughter is starting to fray her around the edges; with quite a few simple changes to the tax regime Cambo could allay the fears of millions of people, ease the burden on those hardworking families he says he represents and create true fairness by instituting a truly liberal transferable tax credit regime that would make him a hero to everyone.

And all without dancing a merry jig for Adam Boulton.


Tell You What George...

Despite not being a higher tax rate payer (not having 2 euros to rub together an' all') and not even coming close to it with my wife and my income, and despite you leaving me no choice but to agree with KEVIN CHUFFING MAGUIRE, that their is something asinine about punishing a family with only one working parent on £50k and leaving another with 2 on a cumulative £80k+ plus, I have a deal for you.

I'll give up my meagre psuedo-tax rebate that is the Child tax credit and benefit if you:

1.Sack the adulterer Chris Hunhe.

2. Put Labour's regulatory framework, energy acts of parliament and EU policies out the door with him.

Costs for energy have nearly doubled in 10 years since the great warming swindle came about and their has been little to show for it apart from some heavily subsidised wind farms, plans for the doubling of energy bills again and more green mouths to feed while old ladies freeze in true homes.

It's on the table Osbourne. Take it; reckon I'll come out of the deal breaking even with the ability to drive prices down for the future and guarantee energy security.

The Credit Crunch In Glorious Tomrato-vision

Suspend what you know about the credit crunch; as a recipient casualty of it's effects in my anger I blamed anyone but myself, but that's just it: at the core of the problem is man's natural tendency to mitigate the harm his actions have on himself; it is the oldest self preservation mechanism in existence and cause of our greatest triumphs and lowest, most base failures.

So consider the following allegorical concept my understanding of the credit crunch, the villains and steps taken all being related to what has happened and what is happening:

A balloon maker is trying to inflate his greatest ever invention: the ACME Ever-inflating balloon. His latest invention is actually the latest in a long line of inventions like this which, whilst occasionally falling short of spectacular over the years, or not providing balloons for all, will potentially provide a balloon so big everyone can enjoy it.

After decades of testing, trials and failures he thinks he has it based on some very simple principles:

1. The balloon has to be inflated at just the right speed: not too fast or too slow, the former running the risk that the air will leak out with the latter risking bursting the balloons.

2. The balloon manufacturer builds a dormant safety mechanism into the balloons outer skin which stops gas escaping all at once if the air is pumped in too fast: a second skin underneath attached to the outer one is connected in such a way that when the outer one is breached it falls in on the inner one sealing the breach; the outer skin can then be inspected, repaired, and re-inflated.

3. As a consequence of the need for some delicate control of the balloons expansion it is controlled by a hand pump so the rate of pumping can be varied.

4. In the event that the pumping doesn't yield enough air in a timely fashion further hand pumps can be added, with more people drafted in to help pump it up when needed.

The balloon-maker sets about working - slowly he starts the pump and the balloon begins to fill; occasionally it bursts and settles on the inner skin, he takes some time out to make adjustments and begins filling it again.

Eventually the balloon gets so big it pokes over the top of the balloon-makers wall; the villagers see it and are happy to see it, their minds imagining what they could do with a big balloon like that and the fun they could have. However, it quickly dawns on them that whilst they are enjoying smaller balloons sold in the balloon-makers shop he is not going to sell this one till he can be sure he has figured out the problems with filling it; in a moment of impatience they ask the village watchmen to go help the balloon-maker with the pumping - the watchmen are convinced when fears of the balloon "deflating" are put in their mind.

The watchmen, enamoured by their new position and honour don suits and set themselves down next to the balloon-maker; despite the balloon-makers protestations at pushing it too quickly they set about pumping.

It is not long before the villagers see the balloon expanding faster than before; they start to surmise that the actions of all that extra air being pumped in is the cause - to push things faster they hire further town watchmen to don a suit and pull up a seat and start pumping. The town watchmen are paid with the villagers smaller balloons which, having seen the size of the new balloon and the feelings that this will provide the greatest amount of fun and joy this will bring are summarily neglected and start to sag, popping and deflating altogether in a few cases.

The balloon-maker is worried; he has repaired the outer skin many more times than he though would be necessary due to the speed of inflating; he begins thinking it time to stop for a while to make more sensible repairs and rethink his strategy; the suited watchmen, sensing their new found powers and authority coming to an end balk at this, and encourage some of the less reputable villagers to set themselves up as competing balloon-makers.

So many balloon-makers appear; most fail with a few successful ones appearing: some rely on luck and others on copying the original concept - the successful ones attract the attention and "help" by more suited watchmen.

Then one day, having suffered too many deflations and been too quickly pumped up by the suited watchmen and villagers pretending to be balloon-makers the inevitable happens: the inner skin on the Ever-Inflating balloon and it's many inspired progeny rupture and they deflate en masse. The original ever-inflating balloon is the last to go - both inner skin and outer, and, in a panic, the suited watchmen press-gang the villagers into picking up pumps to keep it filled.

The villagers toil in vain; the skin slowly deflates and, with the older, smaller balloons lying flaccid and limp in their homes they try everything; they work in shifts under the watchful eye of the suited watchmen, who occasionally, in moments of fitful madness, engage them in "big pushes" to keep the balloons inflated; eventually the villagers children are press-ganged into helping on the pumps, but the big balloons remain lilting and in an increasing number of cases flaccid.

Ultimately there are no balloons left, the joy ripped out of the village and it's inhabitants exhausted; the remaining suited-watchmen disappear beyond the walls with the few small balloons given to them by the over-eager villagers.

The few villagers who turned their hand to balloon making themselves are only able to make littler balloons than before and, with trepidation, they knock on the door of the original balloon-makers house, hoping he has not left the village for good, and some modicum of joy can be returned.