Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is this real?

Jeffrey Archer has a blog!

Hat tip: Chark Blog

Saturday, June 24, 2006

On liberty

"The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it."
From a legal case of 1569, later cited in the famous case of the black slave Somersett.

Changing the law to criminalise forced marriages could make matters worse, a public consultation on the issue has found.
The Home Office 2006.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More on property confiscation

The Englishman notes David Ireland's citing of John Stuart Mill in support of his desire to confiscate private property.
I can't help but refer to the great 19th Century British thinker John Stuart Mill who's [sic] work "On Liberty" discussed the limits of power that the state can have over the individual. His brilliant concept was the harm principle. Briefly it said that people should be free to engage in whatever behavior[sic] they wish as long as it does not harm others.

Seen through this principle the owner of the empty home of course has rights but not unlimited rights. Once it starts harming others whether that be though restricting housing to those that need it, spoiling the appearance of a street or loose slates falling onto playing children the state should and does have the right to intervene.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognise the kind of distortion of the English language so beloved of socialists. Ireland has simply redefined the meaning of "harm" ("injury" according to my dictionary) to suit his purposes. Harm now apparently means not giving someone what they need.

I do hope that David Gillies doesn't agree with this definition because he thinks (commenting on Tim Worstall's piece) that what Mr Ireland needs is stringing up from the nearest lamppost.

Blogging ettiquette and fascists

Tim Worstall points us to the blog of someone called David Ireland. This idiot appears to be the civil servant advising the the government on its programme of confiscation of private property - using something called Empty Property Management Orders. This will allow them to confiscate any property that has been empty for more than six months and let it own their own terms to anyone they favour. I guess the principle is to confiscate it from Conservative supporters and hand it over to Labour ones.

You can be absolutely assured that the policy will never affect MPs or councillors.

I'm at a loss as to how to deal with someone who is either so bigoted, malicious or plain ignorant as to support a policy which undermines private property - which as de Soto has pointed out is the very basis of western prosperity. I try really hard to be polite when talking about other bloggers, but really this man is deserving of every vile epithet flung in his direction.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Public sector output

Iain Dale notes the ongoing rumblings over David Miliband's blog, which is costing us taxpayers £40,000 a year.
But the giveaway is that two staff spent 40% of their time running it. What do they do? Well I presume they write it, because it bears all the hallmarks of being written by a committee.
Taking a quick look at the simply dire site, it's hard to disagree with this. What is really amazing is that these two public servants have managed to produce a total of 2300 words of output this month. That works out at 32 words per hour each.

In the meantime, I have just produced three hours of public sector output in ten minutes.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Must read post from Dr Crippen

Dr Crippen has had some inside information leaked about NHS cutbacks in Northallerton.

The following patients are “deemed” not to need admission from Accident & Emergency Department. (Lovely word, “deemed”. What does it mean? Why not omit if from the sentence? Why not just say “the following patients do not need admission…? But I digress.)
  • those with an upper limb fracture
  • those with back disorders
  • those with a “pelvis lower limb fracture (whatever that may be)
  • those with “complex elderly musculoskeletal” problems
  • those with fractures of the pubic rami
The following patients are “deemed” (that word again) to be “unlikely” to need admission:
  • Poisoning
  • Angina
  • arrhythmia or “other chest pain”
  • those with asthma.

This is pretty terrifying stuff.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Michael Gove on Question Time

In recent weeks I've been reading a books on logic - Jamie Whyte's brilliant Bad Thoughts - A guide to clear thinking and Madsen Pirie's How to win every argument.

I don't know if all this has sharpened the old wits up a bit, but when I heard Michael Gove claim on Question Time that people who carried knives were more likely to be victims of knife crime, and implied that it they shouldn't carry knives because of this, the potential flaw in the reasoning was obvious.

Gove appears to be repeating claims made by the police:
A Met spokesman said: "If you carry a knife you are more likely to become a victim of crime and more likely to get a criminal record. Bringing out a knife escalates the scale of violence.
We are invited to believe, then, that carrying a knife makes one more likely to become a victim of crime. This is, when you think about it, a bit unlikely since you are only less likely to be attacked if armed, and more likely to be able to defend yourself. Likewise the claim that carrying a knife makes you more likely to be a perpetrator of crime is on the face of it unlikely. A moment's thought should at least make us question this claim. Someone unarmed who gets into a violent altercation with another unarmed person is presumably just as likely to commit a crime and get a criminal record - but they would probably be guilty of a lesser offence than the person who is armed with a knife.

If the statisticians have compared probability of becoming a victim (or perpetrator) among the general public to the probability amongst those who carry knives, they may well find that the risk is higher among the knife carriers. But this doesn't prove that the increased risk is due to their knife carrying. It might equally be due to some other factor. In order to prove the causality they have to control for these other factors. From the way the police claims are made, I don't think this has been done.

The increased tendency to be a victim is more likely to be due to the fact that people who are involved in violent parts of society are more likely to be victims of crime, and that they arm themselves against that probability. In other words the heightened risk is due to their position in society rather than their carrying knives, which is a symptom of the danger rather than a cause of it.

The conclusion the police and Mr Gove reach - that you should not carry a knife because it "escalates the scale of violence" rests on very shaky foundations. All this is not to say that the apparent increase in knife crime (or its reporting) is not a worry, but a flawed argument is not going to help.