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A Tap on the shoulder…

… Is now “assault“, when it suits the bureaucrats. If you can avoid it, never, ever let yourself or anyone you care about, into their power. For they do not release it willingly.

What Power do Diversity Outreach Co-ordinators Have?

The Heresiarch, who is usually subtle in his analysis, left a comment on my last post.

“The cuts are going to make diversity outreach co-ordinators miserable by making them unemployed.”

Well, I’d like to think so. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Meanwhile, the left is arguing that there’s no significant waste, and any cut to expenditure will result in Nurses being thrown onto the dole, Policemen being fired and the decimation of “front-line services”. They don’t believe the DORCs will be fired either.

So.

Much as I distrust bureaucracy, there are some people working in the public services who care about those services which are delivered by local Government. Surely they can see that, when the choice between firing a DORC and, say, a bin-man or teacher, who is going to survive the cut? Left and right seem to agree that it’s Miss Jones who will be saying goodbye to class 2b, and the DORC who will continue to collect her pay-cheque. Am I totally naive to believe that to not be the case?

What is it about DORCs which makes them so difficult to fire? Surely they can’t ALL be in possession of pictures of their boss up to his nuts in an 8-year old?

Take the medicine like a man.

Yes… yes… yes. Now the “cuts” are made concrete even good people who are losing their bondoogles are screaming. The fact is the poor benefit disproportionatley from “public services” and when these are cut, they are going to feel the brunt. The middle classes are feeling the pinch too, but they CAN absorb the discomfort of losing things like child benefit. This may seem unfair, but it is inevitable. Fairness which simply looking at income deciles and concluding that “THE POOR ARE LOSING OUT” without looking at the services CONSUMED is facile, and dishonest.. The process of adjustment to the new reality is going to be more uncomfortable for someone whose whole livlihood is comprised of state benefits, but a transition is happening, it is nessesary and it cannot be achieved without there being winners and losers.

But let’s not beat about the bush here, it is the fact that someone’s entire livlihood CAN be comprised of state benefits IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. And the people who benefit from the state must realise that the process of getting to the state where 1 in 6 of the British population is disabled, and a quarter of the population are out of work is profoundly uncomfortable for the people who pay for it. It is unsustainable. And insofar as the benefits system facilitates idleness it creates misery amonst the very people it is supposed to help.

The working population has endured since 1997 the greatest peace-time rise in taxation in British history. That means the tax bill, whether it is paid in stamp-duty, VAT, Income tax, National Insurance, corporation tax, CGT, IHT or income tax, vehicle excise duty or fuel duty is borne by a small portion of the population, and though the left rarely admit it, the burden rarely falls on the people expected – all tax, is in final analysis, income tax. Fewer than half of us pay for the rest of us to consume day-time TV. The left may like to have the debate about taxation based around Marginal income tax rates, but just because someone is taxed at a marginal rate of 40% on his income, doesn’t change the fact that when you add NI the marginal rate rises to over 60%. 50% income tax isn’t “fair” because it wouldn’t be 50%, it would be a marginal rate of nearly 75%.

Much as I love Bendy Girl’s writing (and I wouldn’t invite her to contribute to this blog if I didn’t find her insights interesting and her story compelling) it does not mean I agree with all her analysis. ‘Benefit Scrounging Scum’ does give an insight into the trials and tribulations of negotiating a freocious bureacuracy in persuit of benefits, those of us paying for those benefits would like some acknowlegement once in a while from the recipients of the benefits of the hard work those of us who pay taxes endure. Frankly the problem is that the Benefits are seen to come from a magical money tree called “the Government” and too many people forget that it is people like me, struggling to build a business, and build a family who have to write cheques to the government for sums of money we can ill afford, the benefit of which we will NEVER see.

Shot through Bendy Girl’s post CSR posts is the idea that the poor, supported from taxation can NEVER have any of that largesse taken away. Well we tax-payers are struggling. I’m abroad for the first time in 18 months (to see my Parents, as it happens). I haven’t had a full week’s holiday in 5 years, because I’m working hard, and thanks to the vagiaries of the benefits system, I’m responsible for the financial upkeep of 2 women and one child, on top of the state taxation which I think borders on the rapacious. I see NO benefit from the state (NHS dosn’t count: 15% of my tax bill would pay for a very comprehansive insurance policy, and leave some left over to pay a mediacal charity, and in any case, for someone like me, the NHS is shit; Roads let’s take fuel duty and call it quits etc…). That’s unfair. We tax-payers a feeling a bit put upon, and the majority of the population who benefit from our largesse had better start hoping that grumbling doesn’t turn into something more concrete than voting Tory. Like a full-scale tax-payer revolt.

Without the “selfish, sharp-elbowed” middle classes, you’re all fucked.

So, I find it difficult to get worked up abouthigher rate mobility allowance being taken away from people in care homes. Sorry. I find it difficult to get worked up about ANYONE enjoying a life of idleness at my expence. What I DO get worked up about is when the benefit system PREVENTS people who genuinely want to get work, getting work, and preventing work paying even when a job is offered. And I think the coalition policies will work towards an end which changes that injustice. So it isn’t “shame” on David Cameron for taking a modest pair of pruning shears to the thicket of the benefits system (a process which is ALWAYS going to produce a parade of bleeding stumps). It’s the start of a process which will produce a fairer, more productive and happier population.

But I wouldn’t mind so much about the welfare state, if, instead of being demonised as “middle class” endlessly in the media, the beneficiaries of my taxation said “thank you” once in a while, and took the odd pruning of the money-tree on the chin, as we have taken the tax rises on the chin for most of the last decade when we were paying ever more for the fucking thing.

Guest Post from Bendy Girl

If you’ve ever wondered why I hate bureaucracy, this post by BendyGirl, cross-posted from her blog Benefit Scrounging Scum illustrates what happens when the Broken NHS bureaucracy and the even more broken Welfare state bureaucracy collide: People who are desperately trying to do the right thing fall into inconvenient boxes, and don’t get what they need.

Today I deathwalked a longer distance than I’ve been able to manage in 12 months. To say I was jubilant when I arrived home is understating the case, ecstacy would be closer to the truth after a year of injury after injury, hideous Oxycontin withdrawal and many other setbacks, just to get back to a distance I could acheive without as much difficulty 18 months ago is incredible. I’ve only been home half an hour and that sense of excitement has been whipped from underneath me by a phone call from wheelchair services. I’ve written about this dilemma in the past, the rules governing wheelchair provision on the NHS are so surreal Dali would have shaken his head in bewilderment and wandered off to find something not in the ‘too hard to think about’ box.
My Occupational Therapist at the Wheelchair Centre is a lovely lady and excellent OT. She’s known me since I was in nappies and is very saddened by the situation I’m facing, but her hands are tied by the national rules governing wheelchair provision.The rules state that no-one will be supplied a power chair on the NHS which is capable of being used outdoors until they have used a powerchair indoors for a minimum of six months. A rule, which might just possibly seem sensible in abstract to politicians with no understanding of disability or it’s reluctance to be shoehorned into bureaucratic boxes but not to anyone else, particularly not the people falling outside of those boxes and missing out on vital services and equipment. Living in a very small one bedroom flat with standard sized doorways I could maybe just about get a power wheelchair into my home, but it would only be possible because I’m physically so petite. Given that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome affects the entire body, the demands of getting into and out of a powerchair everytime I needed to move to another part of the flat would be equal to, if not worse than the demands of staggering around the flat, I’d just be trading one set of dislocations for another, equally painful and degenerative set. The additional downside of using a wheelchair indoors would of course be a further, rapid deterioration in my overall condition, leading to more dislocations, more pain and more disability. Remaining a part time wheelchair user is optimum for my physical and mental health, the overall cost to the NHS and the benefits bill, but does not fit within the rules of the system.

BendyGirl sitting in her attendant wheelchair

I have an attendant wheelchair, the kind that can only be used if you have someone to push you. It’s great, but means I can’t go anywhere to use it unless I can find someone who’s not busy and is both willing and able to push me around. It’s also difficult socially as typically people walk or wheel side by side, and being in an attendant chair prevents that. I suspect it’s one reason why small children get so fractious in pushchairs, being unable to see or properly speak to the person pushing you is conducive only to tantrums.
I am not entitled to a standard manual wheelchair as the system recognises that it would be dangerous for me to use one. I could attempt to persuade my GP to risk his professional reputation and a future negligence action by getting him to sign me as fit to use a self propelled wheelchair, but he should no more be put in that position than I should be put in the position of having to lie and say I would use a wheelchair full time indoors. If my GP were willing to claim that I’m capable of using a wheelchair I’m very obviously not, then I could obtain an NHS voucher and purchase a power assisted lightweight wheelchair myself, making up the rest of the cost out of my benefits. That is unlikely to happen, partly because my GP wouldn’t deem me fit to use a self propel wheelchair and partly because the kind of lightweight, power assisted wheelchair I would need would be cost prohibitive.
It is possible to use High Rate Mobility Allowance to purchase a powered wheelchair…but not if you’re already using that HRM to fund a car. I am currently not using my HRM for either, it goes into general living/travel expenses as I already had a car, but as I need to change my car to a more accessible vehicle, assuming there are no problems with my DLA reapplication the HRM will be committed fully to a vehicle leaving no money for a wheelchair.
So, once again I’m back at square one. There is absolutely no doubt that an appropriate wheelchair would make it more likely for me to obtain paid work. Access to work is the scheme set up to provide specialist equipment to disabled people to enable them to work. Unfortunately one needs an actual job, or concrete job offer to use access to work, and I have neither. The 8 hours a week I’ll be doing from my sofa on a voluntary basis absolutely won’t count.
I have three options. One; the situation remains as it is now, hopefully improved if BendyBus ever gets it’s act together enough to leave the care of mechanics. Two; I lie. To my GP, to my consultants, to the wheelchair centre and claim I will use a power wheelchair full time indoors for six months so that they eventually consider me for a powerchair which works both outdoors and indoors. Three; I try to navigate the maze of charities and beg for funding, unlikely to be secured as EDS is not important enough a condition to have rich and powerful charitable representation.
The years of not being diagnosed and accused of being a liar have left me with a stubborn determination to cling to the truth at all costs. I am just not willing to put myself in a position where I have to lie to the clinicians caring for me, even if that lie weren’t completely detrimental to all concerned. I don’t have the energy or the mental strength I’d need to go cap in hand to a round of charities, which leaves option one as the only choice.More than three years on…I’m still missing out.

Gaol works?

Obviously Gaol works in so far as an offender is off the streets for the duration of the sentence. That is why dramatically increasing incarceration drops crime rates in the short term. This is the approach the US takes and we are heading to. Incarcerating about a third of the cohort from problem groups (white trash and black inner-city boys) during their peak offending years 17-28 keeps that cohort off the streets. It works, but at enormous cost to the individuals AND to the state, who has to spend £40,000 a year keeping them inside. Prison works, but it’s not ideal, and it would be far better to address the underlying social problems which lead to crime.

Jim Brown’s On Probation Blog is worth reading to leaven the Daily Mail-tastic tone of much of the Blogosphere’s crime reportage.

I cannot overstate the dramatic effect a girlfriend can sometimes have on a young man’s offending pattern. She often replaces the control previously exercised by mum and says ‘you’re not going out’

I wonder how much of our feral underclass’ bad behaviour is made worse by the disgusting, perverse incentives in the welfare state which force couples to live apart or lose benefits especially in the event one or other of them get a job? Until this changes, we will continue to bear the burden of an incarceration rate approaching that of the USA.

Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms may cost £3bn to pay more in-work benefits to the low-paid, whilst cutting out of work benefits to the feckless, but how much will they save?

To be, or not to be, (on the birth certificate)

In matters of relationships, I’m a strict libertarian. I don’t care with whom you shack up, and what you do behind closed doors with consenting adults. Marriage should not concern the state one jot, as it is a public declaration to family and friends, and as far as the tax advantages of “marriage” go, that’s what the civil partnership’s for, gay or straight. The state is not interested in the wedding vows, but the signing of the register.

Now the issue of children is a different matter. Deliberate single motherhood, without asking the father’s permission is evil, as is abandoning a woman during pregnancy when you’d promised to help support her. The problem comes when the issue of child support creates an incentive to trap a man into fatherhood, and the issue of benefits forces a potentially loving nuclear family apart. The state has regulated too deep, and intrusively and created perverse incentives in doing so.

However, there is no legal requirement for Milliband minor to be on his spawn’s brat’s child’s birth certificate, though it could in theory (but probably not in practice) affect his legal rights as a parent, but neither of the above cases apply to him she neither entrapped him, nor he abandon her. I’ve no doubt that he’s an admirable father, if slightly awkward and bug-eyed, with an anoying nasal whine, which he will no doubt pass on to the unfortunate offspring. Though I suspect anyone trying to make political hay out of the Millisprog’s bastardy or anything else related the new Leader of the opposition’s unwedded state to be a Daily Mail-reading git, Milliband minor did vote for laws which intrude into the bedroom, in which case, the nastiness is just deserts. Reap what ye sow, interfering socialists.

Bureacracy Ruins Everything.

I am in the process of registering probate for someone who owns shares registered in Hong Kong. This rather wry post from the White Sun of the Desert talks about registering as a Guest in Russia, and this rather moving post from the delectible Bendy Girl on registering for Disabilty Living Allowance show what bureaucracy does.

Try as I might, I cannot see any benefit to anyone of some of the forms which need to be filled in, the permissions sought, and the time consumed. It is because we have miserably acquiessed to the bureaucrat’s convenience that we meekly tick the boxes and give them the information they want (but often have no need or use for) out of lethargy and habit. The form has become law, almost by accident. Obsessive collecting of data are the mark of the Totalitarian, separating him from the mere despot.

This informs all my dealings with bureaucracy. I am dealing with people who would do ANYTHING if the order came down on the correct form, without thinking of the consequences.

If you have ever sent anything back for being on the wrong form, or demanded that the same information be put on a different piece of paper, then you are evil. It is people like you who saw to it that the Nazi atrocities were carried out, and I despise you.

Labour and the Fall of Man.

I have long argued that the most destructive thing ever to happen to human happiness was the discovery and development of agriculture. In return for much larger populations on any given piece of land, we lost freedom, heath and happiness. The evidence is there in the fossil record. Healthy hunter-gatherers had teeth until they died around 60 years of age. They suffered breaks and injury, but were nursed back to health. It was not, as Hobbes suggested, “Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” life. It was relaxed, happy, lazy and healthy. With natural abundance and a low population, there was nothing to fight over – people simply moved into unpopulated areas in search of game. Subsistence farmers on the other hand were (and still are) lucky to make it to 40, and rarely had any teeth when they died. Disease from living with animals, malnutrition from over dependence on a small number of food sources and an inability to move in response to local shortages were (and still are) part of the lot of settled subsistence agriculturalists. Famines, war, death and disease were (and still are) the lot of peasants.

Humans evolved in bands of relatives, perhaps numbering 30 individuals. Everyone knew everyone else and co-operated naturally. Because agriculture, especially its early iterations was a tenuous activity it benefited from top-down organisation – the management of grain storage, the defense of land and the building of irrigation required the co-option of humans natural ability to co-operate into a system where power flowed down a hierarchy. Religions ceased to be polytheistic and nature-worshipping, and became monotheistic and restrictive, especially in relation to women, who became chattels. Castes of warriors, priests and bureaucrats were able to lord it over the peasantry who toiled in the fields.

Our Hunter-Gatherer forebears were able and willing to care for a sick or injured friend without the need for a potentate to tell them to do so, even though such a friend might be a burden on the community for many years. On the other hand, the atrocities settled agricultural societies have heaped upon each other in war, conquest and the imposition of ridiculous ideas is a monstrous litany of misery, torture, suffering and death imposed from above by the actions of demagogues seeking power and manipulating the natural co-operation of people for base and ignoble ends. Top-down government with a bureaucracy facilitates horrors more than anarchy, where people form their own order spontaneously.

Despite the small, weedy, bow-legged and diseased populations of spirit-broken people, their much greater density allowed agricultural populations to easily shift hunter-gatherers off land and co-opt the passing waves of nomadic pastoralists which occasionally swept over them. Despite the misery, agriculture, and the top-down organisation inevitable in these societies, survived.

The happy time – a folk memory of a hunter-gatherer past – survives in religious myths of the Garden of Eden which has analogues in many other cults and religions around the world. The serpent tempts man into knowledge which causes his expulsion from paradise. Power over nature, in the form of agriculture, did not bring happiness. It is this move from natural self-organisation to authoritarian tyranny which removed most peoples’ opportunity for self-actualisation and it is this tyranny which has created the misery which has been the human lot ever since.

This misery of most of the human species, occurred despite gradually increasing material plenty. Over the past 10,000 years, improving farming methods have delivered increasing yields: New crops and livestock species, ploughs, beasts of burden, crop-rotation but until the industrial revolution, and even more importantly the subsequent green revolution of high-technology, high-yield agriculture, the vast majority of human kind have been stuck in this hell of subsistence agriculture. What changed in response to a better harvest is the increasing number of thugs the local potentate can feed from the surplus, or the extravagance of the priestly castes in their temple building programs. Occasional wars and destruction caused by waves of disease did the destruction before the inevitable Malthusian catastrophe.

The industrial revolution changed everything, and did so as fundamentally as the development of agriculture in the Indus, Yellow River and Mesopotamia all those thousands of years ago. For the first time since then, the majority of people on the planet are not subsistence agriculturalists, they do something else.

The trick society has to pull off is use this ‘once in a 10,000 year’ shake-up of civilisation to create something that runs with human nature rather than build yet another society which needs invent savage religions and tyrannical impositions of state control to try and force people to go channel their naturally co-operative nature against their own interests. Agriculture and the societies it created were a response to periodic shortages. We, in the affluent west at least have solved the shortages and now have abundant plenty, as our hunter-gatherer forefathers did for 250,000 years before they were expelled from the Garden. It’s now crucial to work out what created this plenty, and even more crucial to work out what did NOT create this plenty. Human ingenuity which allowed the scattering of seeds to ensure a crop would grow in the same place next year, through irrigation, the plough, the saddle and harness, crop rotation and so on to the steam engine and Internet, it is the endless seeking of a better way of doing things by people which created the plenty. Whilst top down societies were necessary in the early phase of agricultural development because of the need to ensure the surplus is kept and the need to organise the defense of scarse resources; since the industrial revolution, the LEAST authoritarian societies have become the richest. Free market capitalism channels humans innate potential for co-operation from the bottom up. Companies making things and providing services, have driven progress; not, emphatically not, kings, governments and states directing things from the top down.

The Industrial revolution flourished in the 18th century United Kingdom, which believed that that state should only exist to defend its borders. Its ideas spread, not least because the vast surplus wealth it created allowed for the creation of the largest Empire the world has ever seen. And that empire was mostly bought, not conquered. The technology of the industrial revolution came from people, not states. The same is true of the Internet and communications revolutions. Of course states have had a role in facilitating, but without the self-organisation of companies of people motivated by curiosity and profit (let’s call them ‘businesses’, shall we?) there would be no Rail road, no television, no cheap bread and no car.

Now modern government evolved from the people who brought you such advances of civilisation as the Motte and Bailey Castle and the Harrying of the North. Government’s aim is the extraction of as much from the economy as possible. In medieval terms, this was then used for self-aggrandising projects like securing the throne of France for the English king or Vice Versa. However in England, the Barons, and later the Commons realised that the tyrannical imposition of royal vanity must be held in check, first for the good of the barons, and then for the good of the people. Government, insofar as it affected day to day life, withered away in the UK and the country prospered as a result.

Britain’s decline can be traced to the moment that the income tax was retained after the Napoleonic wars. After WW1, the state got involved with education and pensions, after WW2 the state destroyed the highly effective health and welfare systems which relied on mutual assistance. Similar narratives can be constructed for most countries. Government, who have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence has used technological advance and bureaucracy to make money flow to that power. The technology and habit of bureaucracy has allowed states around the world to take between 1/3 and 1/2 of all the productive energy of its citizens in the form of tax.

Now I am not here to argue that there should not be a state. Nor will I argue that some things aren’t best financed out of taxation. But what I will argue for is a new sort of Government. One that respects its role as protector and facilitator – deliverer of the public goods of law & order, secure borders and a sound currency and DELIVERING little else. Funding health and education out of taxation too MAY make sense, but allow people to DELIVER it themselves. The state is emphatically not there to ensure its citizens behave themselves, or be “productive”. People self-organising will do that. Nor is it to ensure that the goods and services available to the people are equally distributed. No government has achieved that, and any attempt to do so leads to economic collapse or a nomenclature who live in opulence amongst a slave population of miserable serfs. Government should not, as Elizabeth I observed “seek to reach into men’s souls”. Nor should it seek conformity to an arbitrary set of societal norms, be that conformity to an established church or a ‘productive’ set of economic behaviours. It should instead seek to reduce the stress of life, by removing burdens of taxation and the layers of obstusificating bureaucracy. Instead the state should be providing a protected space allowing people to self-organise as they will according to a simple, easily understood set of Laws.

Government, in seeking to be the King who provides, seeks to act in the same way as the aristocratic and priestly castes did in Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago and with the same result in term of human misery. People are not ‘people’ they are economic units to be fought over, controlled and taxed. Because ‘the state’ provides whether you want it or not, the state will see to it that you work, whether you want to or not. Top down bureaucracy seeks to influence behaviour – for our good maybe, but who ever thinks they’re evil? So smoking bans, drug prohibition and laws saying when you can and cannot go and have a pint in the pub all limit the possibility of human happiness. Sure, in some stressed societies of marginal people who exist on state handouts, getting off one’s face is all they have. The desire therefore to see that no-one starves perversly sees to it that everyone starves morally.

The state’s charity crowds out the private charity, to the detriment of the welfare recipient’s self-actualisation and the good feeling that altruistic good work generates in the giver. In seeking to alleviate poverty, the government then feels it has an economic stake in everyones’ good behaviour and seeks to alter it, by force if necessary.

Supporters of the cradle to grave welfare state have visions of Victorian England’s workhouses as what would happen if there were no welfare state to support people. But that was a society crushed not only by a state bureaucracy as much as a stultifying state morality which achieved the same ends. The work-house was not the Dickensian horror, Dickens exaggerated, but the foundling hospitals were. And both were state run. They replaced a much more satisfactory system the poor being in receipt of benefit from their neighbours, being ‘on the parish’ which did not tolerate free loaders, but also supported those who could not support themselves – a self-organised, local system. “Wouldn’t work today”, I hear you cry? Switzerland operates a similar system, and that’s not exactly a hell-hole is it?

And what of the costs of the system? Not just economic costs engendered by a state which allows, nay encourages the poor to engage in destructive and misery making behaviour, but also in the costs imposed by the state having a stake in everyones’ private behaviour. Every time you get chucked out of a full pub at “closing time” the state has impinged on your life. Can’t hear yourself think in the pub with the late license? That’s because the late license comes with an obligation to provide “entertainment” lest you just stay and drink. The state is emphatically imposing its will upon you. And that was because the Government wanted to influence the productivity (and these being purse-lipped late-Victorians, morality too) of munitions workers during WW1. The law has stuck, because the dam of allowing the Government to look into men’s souls had been broken. The bureaucratic state comes with regulations about who can live where, with whom and to what end. Whether you’re shagging your tennant matters in terms of what benefits you recieve, and do you think the state should have any rights in your bedroom of your own home? The need to finance the welfare state comes with a need for the majority of the population to tithe 50% of everything we produce to the government. The most tyrannical king in ancient history would have baulked at that. That is a cost not just in economic terms, but in spiritual ones too. For the majority of that money goes in financing a bureaucracy whose ends are control of the population leading to stress, thwarted ambition and misery.

How has the Labour party, once the party of workers’ co-operatives become the party of the state bureaucratic leviathan, with all the coercive violence that entails? How has the global left been so completely co-opted by the successors to the kings and potentates they once resisted? How can the hypocrisy of leftist moralising be accepted by a sane brain without spitting it out? The labour party in seeking to control every facet of peoples lives (for our own good) via a massive and intrusive surveillance infrastructure controlled by a bureaucracy accountable only to itself. The Labour party is therefore the representative of everything which has made people miserable, diseased, powerless and poor since the fall of man 10,000 years ago.

Freedom to self-organise. The smallest bureaucracy you can get away with. State funding a bit of desirable stuff, but emphatically NOT providing. By not providing for people, it has no incentive to control the rest of us. We, not the Government will provide for the poor, as we used to before the work house, before the bureaucratic tyranny of the state got involved in herding them into workhouses, slums and council estates. John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee…

I just want the state to leave me alone. That does not mean I want to sit in a cave eschewing company and hoarding baked bean tins awaiting the revolution. It means I don’t want to have anyone control my moral and economic choices, which include my moral and economic choice to serve my fellow man, which I would do were there any money and energy left over once I’ve paid my tax bill. That is why I hate the Labour party – for they are seekers of control, just like and for the same reasons as the first kings of the first city states. Labour are therefore the intellectual descendants of the architects of man’s fall from grace and the bringers of misery, hate, envy and thwarted ambition and wasted human potential, for the last 10,000 years. Human freedom is the paradise of the Garden of Eden was all about, Labour: the agents of the devil, offering fake sustenance which merely brings doom. Which makes Gordon Brown the serpent. Which makes Ed Balls, a skin louse on that serpent. Which is a metaphor I like. That is why I am a libertarian.

How Housing benefit has harmed us all

I’ve been having a debate with BendyGirl on Twitter, which I think is worth a more substantive answer than can be given in 140 characters.

The base-line cost of housing in the private sector is set by the Government: Benefit recipients whose rent is paid from Housing Benefit to private landlords. These people occupy the worst housing, and pay therefore the lowest rents. Landlords are revenue maximising rational agents, and the Government is a stupid customer. Therefore they charge the maximum the Government will pay for their shittiest flats.

If you have a better flat, you rent it out to non-housing benefit tenants for MORE than you could receive off the Government.

The purchase price of the least desirable flats is set by value of the rental stream that the Government will pay. Any better accommodation is priced at a premium to this, grossly inflated level, all the way up to 3-bed family homes.

Basically it boils down to this: There is no shortage of housing – most people have a roof over their heads. It may not be as nice as you’d like; this is because, as anyone who watches ‘Grand Designs’ will be able to tell you, planning laws are absurdly restrictive. This limits the amount of housing, and also limits the ability of people to make houses to suit their needs. For example, where I live a man built a house with a ‘tower’ on one corner. This became and still is, the most complained about building in the town, even though the centre of the town contains a 60’s concrete monstrosity. The “tower” contains the wheelchair-using owner’s lift – He’d had the house build around his needs, and his travails with the planning authorities were legendary. He was rich enough to win his legal battles and build a big, nice house suitable for a disabled person.

Everyone else has to make do with an identikit ‘executive’ house on a Barratt estate, and even these are expensive. The affordability of housing is the problem because the Government acting as a stupid customer on behalf of the poorest distorts the entire market. If you cut housing benefit, the same flats will be occupied by the same people because no-one else wants them. The cost of this is borne by slum landlords, who get less rent for the same flat.

Anyone going to weep for them?

Thought not. The answer to Britain’s housing problems is to phase out Housing benefit entirely, (and 71 other benefits too) and replace it with a smaller number of payments to individuals, replacing direct payment to Landlords. True, some people will spend it on smack, not rent, but that’s their fault as individuals, eh? What’s true of private tenants is also true of council tenants. The Government should get out of housing provision entirely. Instead of subsidising slum landlords’ jetskis on the Costa Del Sol, and making everyone else pay through the nose for shitty little breeding hutches, we’d actually be helping the poorest. Second we need to relax (not remove, relax) planning regulations, and assume that people building houses on a plot of land are rational. That way, there might be a few more desirable individual houses on the market and one or two fewer shitty estates of endless Barratt breeding hutches.

Who loses?

Slum landlords. Who wins?

Everyone else. What’s not to like?

Update: Burning our money has a more thorough post.