Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"We were only following orders..."

That notorious phrase was made specifically infamous during the Nuremberg war crime trials following WW2 when various "paid agents of the state" did their political masters' bidding.

The UK is presently being filling up with numerous paid agents of the state, who are imposing (by crude fiscal force) a range of policies that interfere with the status quo of "normal" people and business, and that are dreamed up by anything but "majority opinion". Normal people (viz the majority) find these increasingly unpleasant, obtrusive, and above all, completely unnecessary in a society that once prided itself on regulation with a degree of common sense.

One characteristic of these impositions is that they provide cosy if pointless employment schemes and fat sinecures for the otherwise unemployable - from the foot soldiers to the QUANGO chairpeople with their questionable peerages, yet another (generally socialist) gravy train will be along soon, where you are paying for these pointless people to ride.

Ken Livingstone's Congestion TAX employs lots of people, adds yet more "furniture" to our already over cluttered streets, extorts lots of money, and barely pays its running costs. And there is little discernible benefit to the traffic inside the zone; and London's public transport remains as unpleasant as any major city in the Eu. So in reality, it is an employment creation scheme and little else.

The even more sinister road pricing proposals that were accidentally put to a popular vote on the No 10 website are a very handy reminder that the "silent majority" will react when given a chance. The irritated response of worn-out career politicians like the awful Gwyneth Dunwoody was that it was a stupid idea to let the ignorant populace contribute to policy decisions. So then, can the people be trusted to make such important decisions or not?

Hmmm... maybe she has a point if the people's decision to elect Gwyneth and the rest of her band of discredited gerrymandering chancers for another 5 years of torment and bad government is anything to go by.

Just as the 3rd Reich was underpinned by the zealots with the "instruments of the state" at their disposal, so by "only following orders" Labour's swollen army of petty officialdom is well on the way to exterminating the last vestige of common sense and personal liberty in the UK.

The thin end of the wedge just got thicker

According to those usual suspects trying to scare their way into the media with hyperbole, using a mobile phone in a car is equivalent to being drunk is it? TMP wonders how the generations of plod who have driven police cars at high speed while conducting frenzied conversations over their (not hands free) personal radios haven't all managed to wipe out the entire population of the country.

Yes, the escalation of the law on the use of hands-on mobile phones while driving is another one of those "what have you got to hide?" moments where the tireless ratchet of creeping authoritarianism clicks up yet another notch in its unceasing battle with common sense.

The biggest nonsense of all is that many so-called "hands-free" mobile kits are by far the most dangerous ways for a driver to fumble with the interface - especially when so many of us have become perfectly adept at manipulating a mobile phone with a single hand, including text messaging.

Those clots that cannot perform the task safely are perfectly well covered by the statue books stuffed with existing laws on driving behaviour, so why another? What's the difference between a phone neophyte and a driver fumbling to light a cigarette?

Perhaps we should add a section to the driving test to see if the driver is capable of holding a phone and a conversation without endangering other road users?

Now then, if holding a phone conversation is dangerous, then what about listening to an interesting radio programme - who was it that once said "radio has the best pictures"..? Banning car radios must be a logical next step.

And if it is "driver concentration" that we are legislating to isolate from distractions, how about the effects of arguing with a back seat driver? This must surely be sooo illegal that Doctor Obergruppenfuhrer Reid and his unfit-for-purpose Home Office colleagues must be planning a chain of new prisons to hold the convicts when that one makes it to the statue book.

And how about the distracting effects of keeping one eye on the speedo, and one eye looking out for gatsos? TMP fervently hopes that the next time a lorry driver mows down a bus queue, he tries that on as the excuse.

Where will this all stop?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The pimps of the insurance racket

TMP has wondered for a while why the Tories of all parties oversaw the introduction of speed cameras to the UK; but I think we have uncovered the answer.

It seems that car insurers have agreed amongst themselves (of course it's another City cartel - they even have recorded messages telling their customers that they collude) to arbitrarily add ~£100-200 to a premium for an isolated SP30 (£60/3 points) offence on a policy with over 7 years NCB and no previous convictions of any sort in 36 years of motoring.

"Oh no they don't" came one response from a company that pointed out the "penalty" was only £44 for the year. But "Oh yes they do" for that cunningly overlooks the fact that the £30-50 "penalty" is added for EACH YEAR the ticket is "live".

TMP would like to point out that this means these companies now make VASTLY more from the much-reviled speed cameras than the "safety partnerships" that operate them - considering the partnerships also have to pay for the operation of them.

And so, presumably it would be very much in their interests to see more of them installed. Can anyone confirm that no motor insurer is involved in any of the so-called "safety camera partnerships" in the UK..?

Best of all is the term for one who lives off the earnings of another, where those earnings arise from an illegal act (viz the heinous crime of speeding). Motor insurers are all apparently "pimps".

And before any insurer prepares a sanctimonious response, please ascertain which of your directors/employees has never exceeded the speed limit, and is prepared to swear to that fact in court.

How do they all plead?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's been an unusual ten years

The Blair era draws inexorably to a close. At this time, it's anyone's guess if it will be via Blair's own promised discreet retirement exit - or the maelstrom of sleaze being whipped up by the lizards of journalism, who have never bothered about the Giant Redwoods in their own eyes when there was a mote to be found in the eye of a target under the microscope of the "free press".

This is a "free press" that is not averse to breaking the law and invading the most personal of privacy to get a scoop, as the convicted phone tappers of the news of the World are now contemplating as they languish at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Although they're probably taking the opportunity to chill and write books that will earn them a of of money when they are released in a few weeks time. Perhaps that much overdue prosecution of the naughty NotW hacks sums up better than anything the type of "moral climate change" that the country, indeed the world, has been through since Blair and New Labour beamed in after the election of May 1997.

Although Blair's "project" is increasingly being recognised as a moral and practical disaster of massive proportions, it would be wrong to associate everything that has soured the state of the nation in the past years with the Labour government, which has coincided with the most astonishing period of technology development and mass deployment.

Personal communication has become endemic and affordable to almost anyone on the planet, and the cost of storing unimaginable amounts of data has plummeted The combination of these factors has enabled the internet (which barely existed in 1997) to expose everything and everyone to close examination, by anyone and anything.

Many things that "the establishment" once took for granted under cover of the all-seeing, all-knowing "blind eye" have been rudely hustled from their state of moral quiescence and become the subject of great indignation through selective media manipulation by numerous shrill minority pressure groups. The list is vast: motorists who barely exceed the 30mph speed limit now play in a lottery of cash and points the moment they venture into an unfamiliar area, politicians have sold honours for centuries; journalists - the ultimate crusaders of "the means justify the ends" when it suits them - have broken laws; doctors managing terminal illnesses risk being shopped by fanatical staff who describe this as "assisted suicide"; teachers who try and control unruly brats are treated like the guards at Buchenwald by the legal process. And so on...

Because technology can record the speed and location of every car and human on the planet, we will almost certainly now feel obliged to do it and use the information to tax/fine/manipulate and control. And those who object will be asked by the mealy manipulators of this process "so what have you got to hide?" and the totalitarian ratchet will click onwards once more.

Someone needs to call a general halt to process this before it goes any further. Britain's world lead in surveillance, data gathering and sanctimonious jobsworths is becoming a considerable impediment in a world where "real politik" is starting to re-emerge as a necessary part of life. We need a period of reflection and realisation that the digital age has ensured that everything exists in a state of of "right" or "wrong" and that there is no longer any way to accommodate the shades of grey. Try telling that to the Russians in charge of our energy, or the Chinese in (effective) charge of our economy.

Along with the moral issues raised, this amazing capacity of technology has created manipulative monsters throughout commerce and industry. In the name of sanity, never mind basic economic theory of monopoly malpractise and competitive opportunity, no companies should ever, ever be allowed to be as influential and risk-free in their sector they dominate as Microsoft, Tesco, Sky, Intel, and maybe even Camelot.

One step down we find equally frustrating examples of business cartels that offer no creativity or competitive differentiation. The retail banks, utilities and transport companies all pretty much do as they please, and the consumer is left with the distinct impression that they are all as bad as each other.

As previously observed in this blog, such a state of affairs suits government very well. It reduces the number of points of influence to a very manageable handful, and there now exists an entirely new and more sinister form of "blind eye" where the aforementioned unlovely businesses coexist with government in an understanding that allows them to get away with market manipulation amounting to grand larceny, just as they long as they don't rock the government's boat. The government loves the idea that there are a handful of predictable dullard companies with "so much to lose" and all happy to be as bad as each other, as opposed to a rich diversity of industry, where independent companies will come up with surprises that constantly innovate and raise the bar for customer service and satisfaction.

However, all is far from lost. One of the original strengths of the internet was its ability to survive attacks and empower the masses. The first wave of dotcom mania fizzled out in 2001 with a bunch of dreadful ideas chased by greedy bankers, plus a handful of obvious winners in the shape of eBay, Amazon, and Google who have all succeeded by doing things that were simply not possible before the internet came along.

TMP would cut all UK innovators in technology free from the shackles of the likes of Microsoft by dumping every last item of Microsoft software, and demanding open-source alternatives in all public applications. TMP would stop any TV monopoly from charging people money for any channels that include advertising of any sort, including "in vision" commercials such as billboards at football grounds.

TMP would arrange for the chairman of public utilities personal homes to reflect the service their customers received - for example, the chairman of EDF energy would not be able to switch on the lights as long as a single EDF customer was cut off for more than 24 hours.

TMP would make it simple to switch bank accounts, including all direct debits, standing orders etc., in 10 minutes.

TMP would require all cellphone service operators to show the cost of a call as it is being made, and would hang entire marketing departments whose sole purpose in life is confuse the hell out of consumers with banal and completely unproductive efforts to prevent customers from making straight service/price comparisons.

Now, you all know this make consummate sense, don't you? And you are all equally frustrated that it just ain't going to happen. Or is it? But you don't have to desert your lifelong party affiliations and vote for a no hoper like the SDP was, and UKIP is in order to make this happen, you just need to persuade your chosen leaders to adopt TMP as is policy at the next election.

We have no problem with Labour, Conservative, LibDem, Green, or Monster Raving Loony stealing TMP's finest bespoke tailored policies. In fact, we'd be flattered - and you'd all be a a whole world better off if they did.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Banging up the PM?

The feeding frenzy on the remains of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair's once glittering political career is gathering pace. And with every day the torment drags on, the possibility that the eventual shambles will also suck the pompous and improbably egregious Gordon Brown under, grows significantly.

Goodness me, but these are interesting times. Try as they might, even the most loyal toadies at the BBC (will those resignation honours still seem appropriate if Blair is charged with flogging peerages to Labour Party cronies?) are finding it tricky to dredge up sufficient supporters to keep the New Labour boat afloat while the seacocks are open, and the many rats are lining up for the flotation devices.

Yet the Conservative Party seems shell shocked and unprepared for the possibility it could win a general election. Maybe they are too busy shredding their share of the evidence of cash for honours over the years, for just as bungs to Arabs when doing business in the Middle East are a fact of life, so the purchase of honours by party donors has been "understood" by all sides of the establishment since the Middle Ages. Except no one has managed to take Insp Knacker of the Yard to one side and enlighten him, as he presses on with his embarrassing enquiries in Downing Street.

One must wonder if this fearless investigator is driven by a fiercely sanctimonious streak like so many of his brain-washed colleagues, or if he is a secretly old-school copper that hates what Blair's New Labour has done to the country, and realises he's got a heaven-sent opportunity to derail it before it's all too late.

Some good might come from this if the piously sanctimonious and unworldly folk that have been allowed to take charge and railroad the catastrophic programme of political correctness during ten years of New Labour's "project" at last realise that life is an analogue process, where subtle judgements involving many shades of grey are an essential part of the process of coping with reality.

Although recent experience suggests that is more likely that there will be a period of puritanical zeal as all trace of "compromised probity" is expunged from public service, where motorists are banged up for doing 31 mph in 30 mph zones, and shopkeepers transported to the colonies for selling a loaf of bread that's 1 hour past its sell-by date.