Monthly Archives: October 2010

Goodbye, Mr E!

Michael Winning

I spot today courtesy of Legiron that Mr Eugenides is closing his blog-nissen hut (as our mr-D down the road calls them) and making his typewriting chimps redundant. Mr D says we have those too, nevver seem to have seen them myself but there you are…..

I’m sure Mr E though wont mind if I reprint his valedictory bit in full as I share his feelings about the bloody politicos:-

This post marks a couple of milestones in the life of this blog. It’s the fifth anniversary of this collection of enraging musings from your average potty-mouthed Greek baby; five years of abuse, vitriol, incoherent fury and the occasional, very occasional, gem of a gag. It’s been A Journey – if that doesn’t make me sound too much like il cunto di tutti cunti – and I couldn’t have done it without you. Well, obviously, I could; but it would have been at least 13% less fun.

It’s also the last post I’ll be writing.

Regular readers will have noticed a drop-off in posting these past few weeks and months, and those that have appeared have often been one-liners, links to other sites; lazy blogging. After a bit of soul-searching, I’ve decided to discontinue the blog.

Partly this is due to busy-ness in the real world, but that’s only half the story. The other half is a noticeable dropping off in my levels of rage since the prime raison d’etre for that fury were ejected from office in May. I share the scepticism of some readers towards many aspects of the new government’s platform, and worry that their reforms will be too timid, their policies wrong-headed, their instincts far from libertarian. I worry, in short, that they will disappoint us, as I know you do too.

But what I don’t have now is that same hate. The last administration filled me with disgust; the mere sight on my telly of a Charles Clarke, a John Reid, a – God forgive me for even typing the words! – Patricia Hewitt, sent me flying into almost uncontrollable loathing. And without fury, without rage, without spite, this blog is nothing, really – or at least, not what it was – because the way it’s written, it is set up for polemic, not placid discussion.

In as far as I owe you anything, it is, I would say, not to confect outrage over things which don’t really upset me, not to try and find hate where none exists. I’m in a more placid place, and I think that the country’s got at least a fair chance of becoming a better place with that horrendous shower out in the cold; and that’s as good a place as any to leave it.

I don’t entirely rule out resurrecting this blog at some future point, maybe in something like its current form, or a different incarnation; under the pen name I chose all those years ago, or under my real name. If that happens, I hope you’ll come and find me, and we can start calling a new generation of political leaders dickheads together… because something tells me they always will be.

I’ve been Mr Eugenides, and you’ve been a wonderful audience. Good night, and good luck.

I enjoyed reading his bits, from time to time. Is it just me, or are some liberal and libertarian bloggers just, well, getitng tired?

The Libertarian Alliance Conference is Doing Well

Sean Gabb

We’re now into the afternoon session of day one, and all the speeches so far have been of high quality. Certainly, my new camera lights have given the video footage an almost televisual glow.

I will upload the video footage late next week.

If you view a spiral staircase along its axis, does perspective make it describe an equiangular spiral?

David Davis

I just spotted this stuff at David Thompson’s place, and I just wondered. Here’s a suspiciously equiangular one:-

All equiangular or logarithmic spirals follow the general formula

r = ae^(θ*cot k)

where r = radius of spiral at any cumulative angle from zero (radians), a is a coefficient, e is what “e” is, θ = the total of radians turned from r=0, and k is the “characteristic angle”, being the angle between the radius at any point and the tanget at that same point.

Such spirals describe the shape of galaxies, the flare rate of nautilus and mollusc shells, the patterning of sunflower seeds, and the flow of water out of a rotating sprinkler.

Entertaining table-talk for the LA dinner tomorrow!

How soon will the Euro be toilet-paper?

David Davis

I remember way back when, in the heady days of the launch of the Europe in, oh, about 1998: some Eurofella said “We have now placed the roof on the House of Europe. The task now is to build the foundations.”

That sums it up, pretty much. Now they’re discussing how fast, and to what extent, to defraud Euro Bond holders. The selling by Gordon Brown of 400 tons of our gold, at about the time the Euro went public and into circulation, at a pre-announced and shortable price, also comes to mind.

Poor People Were Libertarians, Once – Counting Cats in Zanzibar


Poor People Were Libertarians, Once – Counting Cats in Zanzibar

FLC198, The Coalition and the Economy: A Fanning of Stale Air, Sean Gabb, 28th October 2010

FLC198, The Coalition and the Economy: A Fanning of Stale Air, Sean Gabb, 28th October 2010.

David Webb on Pension Reform

Doh – I sent this directly via e-mail. It was stripped out. Apologies to all, and here is the post as it should have been.

Dear Dr Gabb,

I am on holiday in China, but want to send you some comments on pension reform, but I couldn’t find a thread on the LA site to post it in. Would you consider opening a thread on this topic?

I am totally opposed to the government’s decision to force all companies with more than 50 employees to have a pension scheme and to auto-enroll all employees in it. While it is good for everyone to have a pension account, a scheme run by your company is not yours to manage and control – and in times of economic downturn it can leave companies nursing large pension deficits for people who no longer even  work for the company, requiring extra money to be put in just at the wrong time.

In Hong Kong, all employees contribute to their Mandatory Provident Funds, and I think their employers either can or have to contribute too. I would like to see a system whereby national insurance was totally scrapped, and everyone on PAYE (as long as it lasts, as libertarians would scrap income tax altogether) be required to contribute 10% of their monthly salary into their own SIPP, self-administered personal pensions. The company could also contribute more (but not be forced to), and all these SIPPs would be up to you yourself to manage. You could make the decision to invest in commodities, emerging markets or whatever yourself, and your pension scheme would be your own – and also your own problem. There would be no pension debts in company accounts (or only for already retired employees as the existing arrangements are phased out), and no public sector pension deficits either. Quite simply, all public servants would also pay 10% of their salaries into their SiPPs too.

There would be no 200k pension for ex-police chiefs – quite simply police chiefs would pay 10% of their existing salaries into their SIPPs and manage the assets themselves thereafter. For most people, the abolition of NI would largely cover this scheme, and it would eventually free up the population from total reliance on the state in their autumn years. I would not increase civil service pensions to cover the fact that they were now having to pay into their own SiPPs – the abolition of NI (which would require cuts elsewhere) would cover that – and existing pension monies, where they existed would be distributed to the pension members as contributions to their SIPPs. Quite simply there would be no pension assets other than the SiPPs, which everyone would hold.

I would then abolish the state retirement pension as an entitlement. Those after 65 whose SIPPs had not earned enough could apply for income support (a benefit, not an entitlement). Clearly we have to think about getting out of the whole social security arena, but that would be easier to do in the future when everyone had saved up a bit in their SIPPs.

I would also make pension assets fully inheritable with no inheritance tax. Currently that is only the case between spouses. I would also totally remove the requirement ever to buy an annuity, which is just one way of making sure there is nothing left of pension assets when you die. I would also look again at the 25% lump sum that can be taken out of your pension at 55. As long as the pension assets remaining after a lump sum was taken out were enough to finance a retirement, there would be no need to restrict the lump sums to 25%. Eg if you had 1 million in your pension, why should you only take out 250K as a lump sum? As 750k is more than is required to finance your retirement, assuming a 400K pension paid a 28K pension at a 7% annuity rate. In other words, I am saying anything over 400K should be available as a lump sum free of any tax. And some access to pension monies earlier than 55 years of age, eg to buy houses, should be facilitated, as long as there was enough left in the pension fund to reasonably expect to fund your retirement.

I know libertarians want to get the state out completely, but I think what I outlined above would be a good stepping stone. It would make it easier to fully get the state out later on, as people would have assets. The point about abolishing the trillion-plus public sector implicit pension debt at a stroke would be a huge improvement in our country’s finances.

Regards, DJW