Monday, June 24, 2019

Home Economics, by JD

After last week's televised 'pantomime' in which five potential 'future Prime Ministers' demonstrated why they should never be allowed anywhere near the job, along comes another one today if this report is correct-

One of the bright ideas is -

"The proposal to scrap the Capital Gains Tax exemption on main homes would force owners to pay income tax on the profits when they move home." 

They never learn, do they? When politicians interfere in the 'housing market' they always, always cause problems.

The Heath Government of 1970-1974 was a chaotic diaster for many reasons: the first 'oil shock' when prices rose sharply, the miners' strike, petrol rationing, power cuts etc and worst of all, joining the Common Market.

What will have escaped the notice of most people studying that period was the introduction of 70% grants for home owners to improve their property and specifically for kitchen and bathroom improvements. 70%? That was and is madness! When the government hands out 'free' money there is bound to be a scramble to get a share of it. It didn't take long for the cost of materials to skyrocket and it didn't take long for £300 of building work to cost £1000. For the home owner the cost remained the same - £300 - but the price paid to the builder was £1000 thanks to a generous government.

The many local Councils up and down the land decided to take advantage of these grants, and there was no reason why they should not benefit. So in the early seventies there was a boom in council house improvement works. I am told there was a building workers' strike in 1972. My response to that was and still is, strike? What stike? At the time I did not know of any tradesman who was unemployed. And I knew a lot of tradesmen, I employed more than a few. I met them all the time in the local Working Mens Club. And all of these tradesmen were earning money. It was in many ways a sort of mini 'golden age' of full employment and money to spend. There was a knock-on effect in the housing market generally and this was when the phrase 'gazumping' entered into public consciousness.

Fast forward to 1979 and more government interference with the sale of council houses to their tenants. A good idea in principle, in theory but........ They were sold at a discount but they had also been improved during the earlier reforbishment programmes thanks to the aforementioned government grants. So, in a way, the buyers were receiving a double discount on their price. (House tenants living in privately rented homes were not so lucky and so continued to save for the deposit for a home.)

The council houses sold were not replaced with a further building programme. The revenue from the sales was, as far as I can ascertain, never spent on anything and was 'ring fenced' for some unspecified future use. As far as I know it is still unspent.

How do I know all that? I know it because I worked in house building in the sixties and seventies, on sites as well as in offices.

And then I moved onto other, larger building projects in various parts of the world so lost track somewhat of the UK's mismanagement of home ownership. Looking at that story in the Mail, our politicans are as clueless as ever. I also know that interference, in the form of new building regulations, suggests that politicians and their academic 'experts' are never going to learn anything about house building.

I know that new houses are badly designed and badly built. I can see that for myself and it is not just houses. Every new building I have seen or visited is, for want of a better description, rubbish. Ask any Estate Agent.

Just another tale from Broken Britain. Broken by our dysfunctional political class.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Crazy Christians in America, by Paddington

Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets in two sentences - without dinosaurs - and yet, as Paddington shows, some American churches have added and altered until unrecognisable...

As a sequel to my piece on US evangelism last week, I offer some tidbits.

1. In the last few years, the Texas School Board has held hearings on textbooks and curricula, with a great deal of pressure from fundamentalists. This is very important, as Texas buys the books for the whole state, which in turn affects the offerings of publishers. Among the proposals was the watering down or elimination of evolution (replacing it with 'change over time') and any Science which indicates an old Earth (most of it). Then there was the rewrite of History, marking Moses as one of the most significant people ever (he is a composite of several, including Sargon), and claiming that US law was based on the Ten Commandments and Leviticus, rather than Old English Law. Then, there was the cheery description of the slave trade, describing Africans as climbing on boats to come and work in the New World (technically true, I suppose).

2. The fundamentalists have this bizarre concept of 'interpreting the Bible literally', and the assumption that it is totally inerrant, which leads to a significant level of doublethink. So much so, that adherents are forced to ignore most of Science and much of History. It can lead to some significant absurdities, such as the Smithsonian museum survey some years ago, in which 60% of respondents replied that the Earth was less than 10,000 years old, and 60% replied that dinosaurs lived on the Earth millions of years ago.

3. Last week, we had the latest end-of-the-world prophecy. The 'literal' reading of the Bible, especially Revelation, makes this a fun game. I have talked with adherents who can't wait for the Rapture and End of Days.

4. This week in Alabama, the buckle of the Bible belt, Roy Moore announced that he is once again trying for a seat in the US Senate. He was narrowly defeated the last time, when it came out that as a city prosecutor in his 30's, he was banned from a local shopping mall for trying to pick up girls as young as 14, and was accused of assaulting some. He became famous for planting a 10-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments in his court building, when he was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He refused to remove this blatantly unconstitutional decoration, and was removed from his post. He was elected again as Chief Justice, then suspended for ignoring US Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage. After leaving office, he set up a religious charity, of which the primary beneficiaries appeared to be him and his wife.

5. Also in Alabama this week, we have the news that the governor has authorized one of the most racist churches in the state (quite a high bar) to have their own armed police force, with full arrest powers. And Americans worry about Sharia law!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Boris and Brexit: What Is To Be Done?

Well, now we know who won’t be doing it. The day of the Ascot Gold Cup opened with Rory Stewart the media fascinator barred from the enclosure, as it were; then it was out with Sajid Javid, about whom I have had serious doubts since he threw dumb teenager Shamima Begum and a culpably mistreated Julian Assange to the wolves.

And finally Michael Gove, who shot himself in the foot (again) with his comments on forestalling No Deal, by far the strongest card in our hand provided the player can credibly threaten to use it.

We’re left with perky Hunt, the Debating Chamber face-puller, and BoJo the runaway steamroller. Hunt is making noises about having been a Remainer but now being pragmatic about Leave. Boris has the energy, bullishness, skill and experience to lead a team of colleagues rather than just civil servants, but we still can’t be sure to what destination.

Of concern are the rumours I’m getting that Boris is hoping to manoeuvre the EU into dropping the Irish backstop but is otherwise prepared to countenance the gist of May’s WA. That, I think, will be the end of the Conservative Party, sooner rather than later, and no amount of hand-clapping will revive Tinkerbell. It will also be the end of the country, not with a bang but with a whimper, after its four decades of forced decline. Plus the end of hope for what’s left of the British working class. We will become what Ken Clarke has always wanted, merely a minor, fog-prone arrondissement of the European superstate.

If I might make a suggestion, Mister Johnson?

Work feverishly, now, on the assumption of winning the leadership. Call in your campaign manager and liaise with Farage’s team, wrap wet towels round foreheads and burn the midnight oil to draft our very own Withdrawal Agreement. Make it such a reasonable one that if Barnier and co. turn it down the world will know whom to blame.

You’ll need to do this ASAP in any case, since you’ll be answering questions on this when the membership hustings begin. Get the detail people in, just brief them that, have no doubt, we are going that way.

Don’t fly over to Europe as UK leader, like a whey-faced supplicant. They’ve manipulated, mocked and abused us when we did that. Send the draft with an emissary who can look the EU’s team full in the face and tell them it’s their last chance, not ours. Dangle the £39 billion carrot.

And tell them that if they can’t get it together to agree WA 2.0, then hello to WTO Section 24 for an interim working arrangement – maybe, just maybe, with a sweetener, but how much that might be is conditional on their showing signs of sincere effort to conclude a mutually acceptable deal.

Parallel with that, instruct our team/s to make detailed plans for the No Deal scenario. The better this is prepared, the less likely it will have to be used; but like the nuclear deterrent, everything depends on credibility.

Be ready, be strong.

Or give up, now, and watch the nation dissolve into lasting disorder.

FRIDAY MUSIC: Midsummer Medley, by JD

Today, 21st June, is 'the longest day' and officially the start of summer. We know when it is summer because the nights are lighter and the rain is warmer!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Leaders' Digest

Well, despite the media's suspiciously sudden fascination with Rory Stewart, he wasn't in the running today. Coincidentally, Ascot Ladies' Day has banned fascinators this year.

I'm glad Javid is out. I see him as someone who is prepared to throw third parties to the wolves - the dumbish teenager Shamima Begum, the heavily oppressed Julian Assange.

As in the last leadership contest, Gove outsmarted himself. He was making noises about preventing the possibility of a No Deal Brexit, when that is the strongest card in our negotiation with the intransigent EU. I think the Remainers' star is waning as we get closer to the deadline: the WA is completely unacceptable and there is neither time nor the slightest sign of willingness on the EU's part to refurb it; my suggestion to our side would be to prepare a fresh trading-focused agreement from scratch and offer it to them as a last chance.

My objection to Hunt is visceral - he's so cocky (even in the Debating Chamber) that one clenches one's fists. But the noises he is making are about having been for Remain and now being prepared to accept Leave, as a pragmatist.

Johnson? I think he has the energy and bullishness to get what he wants, and the skill and experience to build and lead a team. Goodness knows where he'll lead it, though.

I wonder what (should he win) his Cabinet lineup will be? Surely Eeeyore Hammond and some other blockers will have to go.

Perhaps you can tell me.

Rory Stewart, the stopped clock that's right only once

Here on The Conservative Woman:

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Brits have ***no idea*** about US-style Christianity! - by Paddington

My observation, based on the 40 years that I have lived in the US, is that the average Briton does not grasp what religion means to so many people here.

If the subject comes up, people might tell you that they are Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Methodist and so on. But, if they answer with “I am a (Bible-believing) Christian”, they are almost certainly Evangelical Protestants, and very likely Southern Baptists, or the more extreme Pentecostalists, Seventh Day Adventists or one of their offshoots.

The short explanation that I can give as to the significance of these identifications is to imagine that 10% of the British population were following clones of Northern Ireland's Ian Paisley, but a little more aggressive. This is not an accidental comparison, as he was educated at the Fundamentalist Bob Jones University.

For the longer version, we need a little history.

The precursors of the Evangelicals were the Pilgrims who arrived in 1620. They had been thrown out of the liberal Netherlands for being intolerant, and encouraged to leave England, after they tried to tell King James how his church should be run. They came with beads to trade, and guns to steal with, but no skill in construction or farming. Had it not been for a few skilled sailors who landed with them, and the help of some local native tribes, they would have starved, and nearly did. A few generations later they had almost exterminated the local native tribes, and were starting to persecute and kill fellow Christians, like Quakers.

Their descendants were quite happy with the idea of slavery. So much so that the Southern Baptists were formed to support that very issue. Racism and exclusion have been a hallmark of the sect ever since. As late as 1916, there were Church picnics in Southern towns, centred around lynchings of African-Americans (

Just as Voodoo and Santeria took African animism and combined it with Catholicism, the Southern states took Christianity and made it American. Take generous helpings of Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus, plus the nastier writings of Paul, throw in the miracles of the New Testament, but ignore the Beatitudes, and you have some of the flavour of the typical teachings, delivered with the energy of a used-car salesman in a bad hairpiece.

I did not understand the adherents and their views of a hateful God until it was explained to me that all of the vengeful ideas and proscriptions were for other people. Members of these churches believe in the idea of faith over deeds, which is expressed as “Once saved, always saved”. In theory, it is supposed to mean that followers of Jesus will be good thereafter. However, followers will tell you that once you are saved, you are going to Heaven, no matter what you do. Hell is gleefully reserved for everyone else, especially Catholics and Jews. While there are current alliances with both, the former are used to get their way with the government, the latter because Revelation describes a massive genocide of the Jews in Armageddon, and they need to be kept around for that.

In short, the whole belief system was a shock to me, having been raised nominally in the Church of England, complete with required Religious Education and church services 5 days a week.

Friday, June 14, 2019

FRIDAY MUSIC: Golden Olden, by JD

Thought I would offer some more by the mostly anonymous composers of olden times. Good music is timeless!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Give It To Me Now, by Wiggiaatlarge

Tim Worstall found a piece in the DT which provoked a sledge of similar comments…..

Not surprisingly they all came down one way or another on the side of the father who was “squandering” the son's inheritance. I can’t add anything to the comments as I agree with nearly all of them, yet there is a theme that runs through all this and it was not mentioned as all commenting assumed that what they said was the norm. It isn’t.

In recent years I have met many people and have family members and friends who somehow believe their offspring should receive everything and often before the parents die.

I could give various examples and not anecdotal, but I will for detail regale you with one in the not so distant past concerning a friend and neighbour who herself had been the beneficiary of as her father said “a good divorce” - not the first, either.

The father did more than his bit in the RAF as a pilot and then was successful in business. From all I gleaned over time he and his wife when alive had done everything to help their children and grandchildren.

His rather splendid house in need of serious updating took second place to financing the grandchildren and that was after he cashed in a large part of his personal private pension to help buy a house for one of them who married - that went well, as a quick divorce followed .Gifts of cash when needed went out on demand and the house was subjected to equity release to carry on funding all and sundry.

Was he helped when he became frail and ill? Only to a degree as help had to be on hand and this cost money, “their inheritance” and of course the longer he held on to this wonderful world the more the equity release ate into their remaining inheritance - it was spoken about in those terms. He did fortunately get put in a very good nursing home for his last days, some sort of solace I suppose and the daughter did really care about him but in the same breath would talk of this entitlement. There was a lot more that is not for these pages, still I think you can get the drift.

Isolated case? Hardly. I have found this attitude to be quite common. Another I know has a daughter who speaks to him like sh*t in front of strangers, me, and yet they do way over the top in helping her. It's not their fault she and her husband have over-reached themselves with a ladder-climbing house; and the demands on them which they never refuse means that (despite their limited means) all their spare time when they should be having a holiday on their own is spent taking the children's kids on holiday - and they do not live round the corner. Every time they return the stress is etched on their faces. Part of being a parent? There are degrees of of commitment in everything. I can assure you they go way beyond what is required and yet are treated as though that is the way it should be.

Another was a lovely lady we got to know years ago who after a divorce that devastated her returned to Kenya where she and her husband because of his work at the time had lived for twenty years. Her children still lived there and persuaded her to come back and make a new life there; big mistake.

I knew it was going to be a disaster after meeting them a few times in England. Nice enough to talk to, yet as anyone who has spent time in places like Kenya with ‘colonials’ knows the lifestyle is such that everyday things like chores are for someone else and a form of idling one's life away with the least effort is quite normal. My wife and I spent two long holidays out there with her and we had a marvellous time, with the exception of anything to do with the children and the extended family who were milking her dry.

The lady ran an upmarket safari business and the youngest daughter (who if she ever got her finger out of her backside would have been an asset as she spoke Swahili and local dialects, but no) just used the business for her own purposes, appropriating food and drink purchased for the safaris for parties and taking the Range Rover on a regular basis to go to Tanzania to see her boyfriend - she had her own car but preferred to use the gas-guzzler on company petrol.

The other daughter and her husband actually had the cheek at dinner one night to present a bill for milk used by the family. They had a smallholding, the mother was paying for the private schooling of their two offspring and when she said something about the bill and the school fees were mentioned the reply was ‘It is what mothers are for'; we left, as I would have said something.

I have a cousin who has a small legacy but has refused to touch it despite only scraping by for some years. When I asked him one day why this was, he said he was saving it for the children. Not one of them gives the proverbial about him and they all have good jobs and homes of their own, he hasn’t, so why this almost masochistic attitude with parents who even when abused by their offspring and milked for the majority of their lives still believe they should be a money box to be dipped into at will?

Me, I am of the bugger-off variety, but many are not. My oldest friend in Australia is not rich but they gave their son, who at best can be described as morose, their last 10k of cash after the son divorced. He for reasons only he knows has not spoken to or seen them since, an utter little sh*t as he has been all his life.

So why does this being a parent trump all common sense? The belief that parents are duty bound to hand over when they go - or before, in many cases on demand - anything they have is a growing trend. I hear older parents speaking more of this in the last couple of decades. pressure is being put upon many to pay for things the children won't save for or work harder for. Somehow it is seen as a divine right that it should all go to them and the sooner the better.

Ah but blood is thicker than water, the call of duty, the ties that children have to their parents and all the other clarion calls for one to be seen and do the right thing even when the parent knows it is not the right thing. Times have changed: there is little deference to the old. The young today, openly in many cases, call it their right, their inheritance. The modern child who is raised in many middle class families never goes without, has only to say ‘I want’ and it is delivered; no "thank you", no appreciation of any work or effort on the part of the parent to supply the goodies, just a simple expectancy it will happen and it does. When they are raised like that it is hardly surprising that the calls for more go beyond childhood.

I had a wonderful example of that in a customer of mine whom I got to know quite well over the years. The only son was lavished on: as a young child he had for example every single piece of Action Man, when he played football with his friends in the garden he would continually stop to go inside and change into the endless football tops his father had got for him, signed shirts from Brazil and Italy through his business collections; he even had his own fully-stocked fridge with lollies and ice creams. He was spoilt to the point of smothering. He also turned out in his latter teens to be a little sh*t, but the parents were blind to it. Private school, private sports coach in various sports in an attempt to find something he was good at, failed. They even got him a girlfriend as he was so obnoxious no normal girl wanted to know. How can anyone brought up this way ever appreciate what the parent did to reach this level of wealth? It is always there to be cashed in on demand.

If this sounds like a down on the modern younger generation, it is. But the parents are the ones who have create this mind set: it is they that believe giving all will make them more loved, more complete as a family. How wrong they are.