Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Monsters Our Politicians Created

In typically irreverent style, Jackart has poured appropriate scorn on the latest effluence to escape from Westminster, this time on the apparent urgent need for "compulsory body image and self-esteem lessons" for kids.
The bigger problem is that the kind of levers Government can pull simply aren't appropriate for the problem they're trying to solve. MPs should have seen the report they're discussing and concluded there's little, if anything they can do. Body-image classes are at best a useless waste of time and teaching resources, and at worst appallingly counterproductive.

Indeed, if politicians and the state-paid fuckwits they listen to hadn't been droning on incessantly about the model, toned, healthy citizen for the past decade or more, there likely wouldn't be a 'problem' to solve.

There was a time when how others lived their lives was irrelevant to us. Apart from teasing the school Roland when we were still immature and stupid, the vast majority of us grew out of it in adulthood. How other people lived was entirely a matter for them.

Now, however, it's open season on those who have been accused of being 'different', undeserving or reckless by irresponsible MPs and money-grubbing civil servants and lobbyists. As a result, although we're pretty crap at song contests these days, our public contains world leaders in bigotry and sweeping discrimination.

Perhaps having noticed how anti-fat rhetoric has perverted the perception of overweight people, today the BBC floated the silly idea of language modification with predictable results in the comments. They may as well have written "leave your disgusting abuse here".
"Let's make a law against obesity."

"It is not fair that those who are overweight (There, I said it) will be granted a transplant ahead of somebody who is otherwise healthy, when they clearly neglect themselves."

"I think more should be done to reduce those who are overweight by introducing a fat tax or be refused entry to fast food rests. They not only cost the tax payer Billions but are laziness and greed personified"

"The parents slowly killing their children are not generally stick-thin themselves."

"It is against the law to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk. How about making it illegal to sell certain foods to obese customers?"

"Society has a role to play: smokers have been banned from public places, so should the obese."

"Why not call them 'drain on the health service', 'FB's', 'Lardies', 'Pigs', 'Heart attack on legs'."

"Stop having sex with them. That should do the trick."

"If people want to die early by not eating sensibly, then thats their affair. God knows we are very overpopulated."

"I live near a chippy and seeing their grotesque customers everyday actually put me off chips to the extent that I don't really like them anymore. The worst bit is seeing them poisoning their children too"

"We need a campaign to bring back shame for avoidable moral hazards."

"I get offended everyday by the unhealthy FAT people sucking up NHS resources with lifestyle imposed issues but no one worries about that."

"Cant the government give these people ration cards?!"

"Most fatties DESERVE to be mocked."

"I look down on fat people because they're abusing the system: they overeat and expect others to foot the bill. If the obese won't change themselves then a little health fascism is fully justified."

"there is a simple solution. FAT TAX "THE MORE YOU WEIGH, THE MORE YOU PAY" if a 18st fatty had to pay £20 for a big mac and £5 for a bus ride the weight would just drop off."

"Obesity problem and renewable energy...hmmm. How about we round up all the overweight people get them on treadmills and use them to power the country. Two birds, one stone."

"Right on! And if they refuse, melt them down for fuel oil."

"Fat people should be killed at birth!"
All, without a shadow of a doubt, brainwashed into being state-sanctioned pecksniffs after binge-consumption of health obsessed propaganda from government convinced them that 'other people' are costing them money. Cost to the NHS being a constant theme pumped out by ministerial press release, is it any wonder the less bright in society swallow it whole?

Only one person seems to get what is actually going on here.
492. mwng "There really is no arguing with people who are of the "it's costing the NHS money" mentality despite simple logic telling them how wrong they are. I'll just say this instead - Care for the elderly costs comparatively FAR more than treatment of smoking related illness and obesity - who's really costing the NHS the most money? Stop using NHS costs as an excuse for your hatred and bullying."
And that really is all there is to it. While most of us matured and realised that bullying is a pathetic trait to still carry in adulthood, dipshit politicians have allowed these disgusting individuals to believe that being abusively holier-than-thou is not only perfectly acceptable, but also a public duty which one can be proud of exhibiting to the world.

Myself, I am more of the opinion of this guy.
379. Ian "I have just returned to England after 10 years living in another country.

In that time the country has gone completely MAD."
And we know who to blame, don't we?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beyond Plain Packaging

Regular readers may recognise this, as it has cropped up before. You see, crusty Aussie crackpot Simon Chapman has been mulling over the idea of smoker licensing for quite a while now that he has nothing to do since plain packaging was approved.

After a few months of deep academic thinking (stop sniggering at the back), he released a paper on the 21st of the month, but has now perfected it after contributions from fellow stark staringly insane fucktards tobacco control professionals.

You can read the whole thing here [pdf], and I heartily recommend you do so as it's a work of majestic delusion.

Beginning by comparing 'unique' tobacco with any number of other products which fit his pre-conceived idea, he finally settles on equating it with drugs requiring a "temporary licence" (a prescription, to you and me).
I will now describe an alternative form of access regulation – the smoker’s license
Drum roll, maestro, please.
Smart card technology All licensed smokers would be required to have a smart swipecard. This would be required to transact any purchase from a licensed tobacco retailer. No stock could be sold that was not linked via the in-store scanner to a tobacco user’s license.
Hmmm. That's very familiar.

It's quite a crystal ball Imperial Tobacco have there.
Penalties for unreconciled sales would be severe, with threat of loss of retail license
So, on top of the scanning equipment retailers would be forced to install, there would also be the threat of 'severe' fines. Playing with other peoples' businesses again, plus ça change. Chapman again arrogantly assumes that the entire world must bow down to his personal bug bear, regardless of cost. Like a child who doesn't understand why his Mum can't buy that Xbox right now, money is no object ... as long as it's someone else's.
Application for a license could be made on-line or at authorized tobacconists, with supported data-linkable, proof-of-age cross-referencing (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate) required to validate identity. The licensing authority would be able to validate these identities via data linkage.
Not content with imposing huge burdens on businesses, Chapman also sees no issue with a massively expensive database and hardware - paid out of taxation, natch - to administer the scheme. Of course, this will require lots of operatives on large salaries too.
Pre-commitment to a maximum daily consumption The smartcard license would be encoded with a maximum purchase limit selected by the licensee at the time license application. There could be three grades of license: 1-10 cigarettes per day (max.70 per week), 11-20 (max. 140 per week), and 21-50 (max. 350 per week).
There you were, one minute, allowed to buy a legal product on your own terms. Next, it is perfectly acceptable for government to dictate to you. Only the most extreme of those inconvenient libertarians would possibly object, eh?
Maximum daily limit There would be an upper limit of 50 cigarettes per day
Because, you see, Chapman has decided that you must only buy as many as he decrees.
Cost of license fee The license fee would neither be trivial nor astronomical. It would be set at a sufficient level to give smokers some pause in deciding whether to obtain or renew their license. Market research could be used to determine the appropriate level. For the sake of illustration, assume that the lowest level (up to 10 cigarettes per day) would be $100 a year (just 27c a day) and the highest $200 (54c a day). This could be paid in quarterly installments or in full.
And, as we have seen with the Scottish 40p minimum alcohol price - which is now 50p - this would not be ramped up from the moment it was set. Oh no, not in Chapman's world of unicorns and moons made of cheese.

He's only warming up though, because this is when it really goes doolally.
Newly licensed smokers would have to pass a knowledge of risk test ... Applicants would be given on-line educational material of direct relevance to the test, and a large, growing question bank would be developed based on this material, with random on-screen questions being given to each applicant.
Ooh, another new government department. I'm sure the Treasury will be loving this more and more.

Then onto the cast-iron belief, in Chapman's mind, that humans only associate with people of their own age.
Gradual increase in the minimum age for purchase [...] from a given year, the legal age for smoking would be raised each year by one year. As very few smokers commence experimenting with smoking after 23 years, the expectation is that the incremental, progressive rise in the legal smoking commencement age would effectively see very few people take up smoking when the minimum legal age reached around 23 years.
For someone who continually bangs on about kids (who are under the legal age, remember) getting hold of tobacco, this is something the clown must surely only have thought up while under the influence of some pretty strong drugs.

He is the architect of a policy - plain packaging - which has been brought in partly because kids still get hold of tobacco despite it being illegal for them to do so. Yet here he is somehow simultaneously believing that a raise in the age restriction would be impenetrable. I do wish he'd make his mind up.

Of course, those who aren't brainwashed in the tobacco control bubble will quickly recognise many flaws to his Baldrick-like plan. He has set forth a future strategy which could have been written by counterfeiters and smugglers, and they've not had to expend a moment of their time or energy concocting it. It comes fully paid for by the taxes of others and ready made to send their profits skywards. Not only that, but even everyday man or woman in the street will see profit opportunities in owning one of these licences. It's a slow drip steady income scheme just waiting to be exploited.

Non-smokers who currently indulge in the odd benefit cheat by massaging their income will quickly see the potential of owning one of these licences to buy fags for others at a premium, just as they currently bring baccy back from their hols to give to friends for a few bob more than they bought it. This is what happens when the public views laws as unfair or unduly harsh, and that's exactly how smoker licence dottiness would be received.

For Chapman, though, there is no risk from illicit supply at all. Because he's soft in the head. After arguing that poor smokers not being able to afford the licences is a good thing as they would have to quit, he comes out with this hilarious contradictory nonsense.
Would a licensing scheme increase illicit trade? Obtaining a license would not be onerous nor very expensive (relative to the cost of smoking itself), so there would be few reasons why most current smokers would not obtain one.
Because everyone has $100 to $200 just lying around in their account at any one time, especially the less well off.
A license would enable easy access to tobacco purchasing, whereas those without a license would need to take trouble to find illicit sources of supply.
"Trouble to find illicit sources of supply"? With Chapman's plan, it would be difficult to avoid them. They would be in your face like a motherfucker!

For someone of his age group, how can he forget when gambling was banned and there was a friendly neighbourhood bookie on every street corner? Senile dementia, perhaps?
Some argue that the illicit drug trade flourishes in spite of such drugs needing to be sourced illegally from criminals. The implication here is that many smokers are similarly willing to transact with criminals. However, this analogy is badly flawed because while illicit drugs can only be sourced illegally, tobacco would still be readily obtainable openly and legally.
Apart from those who can't afford the licence, are too young to get one, or haven't been able to pass his test, of course. Not to mention areas where legitimate sources might be non-existent after retailers weigh up the massive costs, coupled with punitive penalties, and simply decide not to sell tobacco.
The main explanations for high availability demand for illicit tobacco are the cheaper price at which illicit tobacco sells, the ease of cross border traffic in some nations, and the general level of corruption in which much illicit trade can flourish. None of these factors would in any way be influenced by a user licensing system.
Considering the cost of the licence, just High Street priced tobacco would be cheaper from a reseller than buying your own licence. Borders wouldn't be an issue with sympathetic (perhaps even non-smoking) licence holders in abundance on every street to earn a bit of pin money, and there isn't any industry more corrupt to allow illicit trade to flourish than the tobacco controllers who created it in the first place.

A licensing system would rapidly take control of tobacco sales away from government and into the hands of anyone who fancied dabbling in reselling. It would be contraband by government incentive.

To enforce it, then, a third new taxpayer-funded department would be required for Chapman's barking plan to succeed. It'll have to be serious cash too, seeing as the world and his wife will be in the tobacco business.

That anyone could dream up something so disastrously stupid is funny, but that his colleagues didn't beat him over the head with a heavy glass-encrusted club for being so idiotic - instead of encouraging the geriatric prick - is simply hilarious. Sadly, I don't think even dull-minded politicians are stupid enough to go for it, and that's saying something.

If we really must have plain packaging - which seems likely judging by the disgusting corruption going on - I pray to every God available that smoker licences be proposed here next. It could usher in some of the most delightful times of our lives as the public finally twigs - while respect for the law crumbles and violent criminal gangs receive a massive boost to their coffers - that tobacco control is comprehensively, irretrievably, way-out-there-with-the-fairies, pathologically, dangerously crackers.

Just imagine, also, the day when we see Arnott and Sandford being forced by big pharma to promote this utter garbage with a straight face. It could be the stuff of legend.

Monday, 28 May 2012

When Quit Kits Trump Emergency Healthcare

An unnecessary luxury in action, recently

You'd think, wouldn't you, that with all the bullshit the Department of Health does shovel money at, that air ambulance services might get some cash.

Not so, as this BBC report points out. Seven years after the London bombings where the LAA proved vital, the DH still haven't stumped up a penny.
As noted in the Government’s response, the Department of Health recognises that air ambulances play an important role in delivering emergency care, and provide an effective means of ensuring better and faster access to hospitals, supporting transfers between hospitals, and help to bring resources to the scene. The Department continues to support charities and ambulance trusts working together to agree how these services can maximise their contribution to high quality patient care in their areas. The Department also continues discussion with London Air Ambulance on the emergency medical care provided, including capability and funding.
Ask any person in the street which service the Department of Health should be paying for - air ambulances or smoking clinics - and I think you'd receive an overwhelming majority for the former.

Yet they are forced to act as a true charity, surviving solely on donations, while the likes of ASH wallow in skiploads of taxpayer and lottery cash, and regional smokefree services are financed by Westminster for putting up advertising hoardings to lobby Andrew Lansley.

From freedom of information requests, I found out recently that Smokefree South West, for example, trousered over £2.5 million from the NHS this year. If that is replicated across the regions, we're talking over £10 million for England alone.

Over the seven years since 7/7, that's £70 million plus tipped down the drain to people who swan around thinking up daft schemes to justify their salary, when it could have been far far better spent on air ambulances which really do save lives.

In the modern world, the vast majority of the public would consider air ambulances a front line core NHS service, hence why they give money willingly to keep the helicopters in the air. Contrast that with fake charities and NHS finger-waggers - for whom the public care so little that they'd die on their arses if public funding was withdrawn - and it's clear that politicians are so far out of touch with their electorate that they might as well be governing from Venus.

If we really must have a socialised health system, a service which offers swift transit to and from hospital surely must be one of the first on the list for finance. However, as usual, we see real front line care being starved of cash so rubber band flickers, who merely drain the country's resources, can live high on the hog promoting pharmaceutical products.

Perhaps we need an MP dying in a field due to the lack of an available air ambulance to focus their tiny minds somewhat.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

How Uncanny!

The Big Lottery Fund recently announced that its latest grants had pushed awards through the £100 million mark in Wales, you may have read about it. To great fanfare, they gushed about some of the worthy schemes which benefited from the latest funding.

Strangely, the largest award of all in the country, £864,881 to ASH Wales [doc], wasn't mentioned.

It might interest you to know that one of the Big Lottery Fund's board members is a lady named Maureen McGinn. There is also a Maureen McGinn who is chair of the board of ASH Scotland, and the pictures provided on both sites strongly suggest that they are one and the same person.

Board member being from ASH and the biggest award going to its sister organisation in Wales?

Isn't that an amazing coincidence, eh?

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Eurovision Live Blog 2012

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Puddlecote jury will be compiling our scores and attempting to get within a light year of the actual result, although I can't see past Sweden's Euro-wide hit or the Russian grannies as winners on the night. That won't affect our voting though, it never does, we're proud to have never picked a top three finisher in the past decade (last attempt here).

Here's how it goes here, or will do from 8pm tonight. I'll be giving my wine-enhanced thoughts on the songs, please feel free to chip in. There will be mention of silly costumes, odd performers, the occasional reference to female leg quotient and - at some point - probably a poetic comment asking what the hell this has to do with the smoking ban (you know who you are).

Just a tip. The voting is the tedious bit so order your takeaway delivery for around 9:40ish. Oh, and those from the US and farther afield without TV access, you can see all the Grand Final songs at this link if you really fancy bashing your head against a brick wall of European cheese.

First up will be the Hump. Oh Lord!

United Kingdom: Nope. Still can't see a song with no catchy chorus doing well. Did they lose it in his ego?

Hungary: Who knew Aha had produced kids with George Michael? Bonus points for the electric guitar, taken off again cos it was cranked up to 1!

Albania: Keeping her knitting on her head must have seemed a great idea till the snake nested in it. Powerful lungs. The little Ps are scared, Mrs P claims her ears are bleeding.

Lithuania: Would have been so much better if he'd found himself facing the wrong way once the blindfold was taken off. Heard the song before at a shady club in Ranst ... but without the absurd body-popping.

Bosnia/Herzegovina: More serious, but God so dreary. Is this the austerity Eurovision? The Europe-wide recession is deeper than we thought. Bring on the {gulp} grannies.

Russia: Singing and cooking pizza? Is there nothing grannies can't do? The kids are dancing! It's a winner, isn't it? *Sob*

Iceland: Iceland doesn't disappoint with their usual blonde offering. Yet more funereal stuff though. Come on, Eurovision, when do we get the coneheads and batty colours?

Cyprus: Yess! Here we go. Plastic pop and five more pairs of legs than the rest so far combined. Ooh, and a wind machine! Top marks from Dick, Mrs P shakes her head in mock disdain (well, maybe not 'mock').

France: Gymnasts? The buggers are rubbing it in that we're lumped with the Olympics. Sounds like Cher's grand-daughter. And a crunching Mark Wadsworth gear change. Instantly forgettable.

Italy: Did they ... did they ... clone Amy Winehouse? Shame the song was thrown together like a municipal landfill. The rest of the Puddlecotes voted that best so far, see what I have to live with?

Estonia: The boy P: "I don't understand how some of these acts got through". 'Nuff said.

Norway: Equally bereft of merit, but Mrs P gave it a sneakily high score. I suspect his Peter Andre-like looks may have brought back memories of a young Mr P (Yes, you will buy that).

Azerbaijan: Pitching for a Disney Princess role one day, it seems. Another taking itself too seriously though. Stoppit! This is Eurovision, for crying out loud.

Romania: "I love her dress", say the girls ... so do I. Oh yes. Upbeat too, finally! Silly walks too, thumbs up all round in Puddlecoteville.

Denmark: Actually sounds like something you might hear on Virgin FM, what's it doing here? Very good stuff, hence why you can still get 50/1 on it for Eurovision's alternate reality.

Greece: I know the country's broke, but they could have stretched to a skirt for these girls, couldn't they? Catchy with a bit of eastern background melody to suck in the former soviets. Could be a player.

Sweden: Evanesse goes clubbing. Not that impressed here, and Kate Bush she certainly ain't Graham. But then we're not noted as the best judges.

Turkey: A song whose appeal no-one west of the Aegean Sea will ever be able to understand. Classic lost in translation. Classic Eurovision. If it wins it's another from left field a la 1978.

Spain: A power ballad, eh? You really surprise us every year, don't you, Spain? Look, if you don't want to win year on year just stop entering. Sencillo.

PS: Oops, outvoted big time there in Puddlecote Towers.

Germany: Badly drawn Badly Drawn Boy. Mrs P just melted - so shallow. Decent song though, can we claim a success if it wins for the English songwriter?

Malta: If they're Maltese, I'm a Dutchman (Oh I wish). What the fuck is the DJ for, and was the singer's hair sculpted from plasticine? Marks lost for synchronised foot shuffling from the guitarists, hardly rock 'n' roll, is it?

Macedonia: Clever trick of hiring a singer who looks like someone in just about everyone's office. Cute violinist and real energy, I like it. I'm out of kilter again, it seems, downvoted ruthlessly by my yawning house-sharers.

Ireland: Isn't it very scary that two extremely suspect characters can be building a Europe-wide presence? Nice one, X Factor. I can't hear the song over the uncanny resemblance these guys have with Gerry Anderson puppets. It's like talent afternoon at Salford Primary school, and that was written before the George Sampson rip-off climax. Please God, what did Ireland do to believe that's acceptable as their global image?

Serbia: Heading to a finish as we began. I can't see too many downloads or repeat fees for this lot, perhaps this is the end of disco chill out slowie ... just without the bum-clutching.

Ukraine: After recent news, I was expecting their entry to feature a witch doctor and snakeskin drums, but this ain't bad. Strong voice with echoes of Black Box but better melody. Clubbing anthem stuff former Soviet-stylee.

Moldova: The boy pissed himself at the entrance dancing, and leg quotient suffered interference from gold something or other. Pure Eurovision, though, could have appeared any year from 1960 onwards. The singer looks as chipper as my next door neighbour on a Sunday morning, the bastard.

And that's it. The girl is just totting up the scores. For me, it's 1) Denmark, 2) Cyprus, 3) Romania, 4) Greece.

Puddlecote jury says {drum roll} 1) Romania, 2) Germany, (?!?) 3) Russia, 4) Denmark. At, currently, 25/1, 28/1, 4/1 and 33/1 respectively. More fail is surely certain.

Link Tank 26/05

Barbecue soon, Eurovision later. Do days get any better?

Take it from an ex-addict, outlawing drugs does not work

More statistical lies chicanery from the anti-alcohol lobby

"A major embarrassment for the anti-smoking movement"

Why 1.2 million Quebec citizens may soon be married by the state against their will

29 exotic McDonald's dishes around the world

Anonymous online speech to be banned in New York

Plain packaging? Plain nonsense

The ketchup bottle problem is solved

Let's have less meddlesome politicians

How the chicken conquered the world

Friday, 25 May 2012

Monty Python Policy-Making In Action

Back in January - with regard the hoops cash and carry outlets were being forced to jump through - I wrote about the hilarious consequences of idiot MPs deeming tobacco packs too dangerous to be seen.
There's your local Makro, or other such entity, building isolation units for boxes of tabs, cigars and tobacco for fear of a food retailer catching a glimpse of an outer of Marlboro. There'll need to be an announcement to 'look away now' when the door opens, of course, to protect anyone tempted to peer inside.

Meanwhile, in the loading bay fork lift drivers - presumably wearing a blindfold - are clambering on the back of artics, draping tarps or blankets over pallets of Hamlet, to ensure someone walking past isn't subject to the life-threatening prospect of seeing the packaging.

On the sales floor, customers are walking around with trolleys groaning under the weight of shrink-wrapped wine gum boxes and baked bean trays, but with the radioactive cig boxes concealed by black bags in case someone who doesn't sell tobacco is infected by baccy-package-itis.

God help the tobacconist who removes his supplies from their church of public health burqa to have a little look! Sirens will sound; rotating red lights will flash; and store staff will come running as if he'd begun letting off acid-laced fireworks.
Well, the regulations have bedded in for a month or so now ... and it doesn't appear to be making our politicians any friends.
Wholesalers have branded the tobacco display ban at their depots “a right pain in the a***”.

The ban, which came into force just over a month ago, means wholesalers have to ensure all tobacco products they sell at their depots are covered on their way from tobacco rooms to checkout areas.

All tobacco products have to be hidden from view in transit to prevent them from being seen by non-tobacco retailers. This means that all products leaving tobacco rooms must be concealed by either a cover, a box or a bag. This must be sealed when a customer leaves the tobacco room and then reopened to be processed at the checkout. Products must then be resealed and covered before leaving the depot. Tobacco room windows also have to be covered to hide products from view.
Not much help for such businesses from this coalition, eh? Both parties in government pledged to can this stupid law when they were in opposition, remember. Then just waved it through like morphine-addled clowns once in office.
The source added that he knew of wholesalers that “were putting two fingers up to it all and not doing it”, claiming that Trading Standards had not “got to grips with it yet”.
It's what all businesses should have done in April, to be frank. It would have sent a strong message to our deluded Westminster chimps, and no mistake.
The ban was implemented to discourage children from smoking, but the vast majority of wholesalers do not allow children into their depots.
There's a reason they weren't exempted - as tobacco retailers and suppliers were for the advertising ban under Blair - and that's because it isn't about children at all. Never has been.

Just like a smoking ban (supposedly to protect bar staff from a negligible risk) which won't countenance separate smoking rooms as the rest of Europe have been clever enough to permit, the display ban not allowing exemptions for places where kids are never likely to be is proof that children were never the driving force. Denormalisation of adults was.

MPs can play with their coloured duplo bricks, suck their thumbs, and pretend their law was about protecting teenagers - their intellectual superiors - but in the real world no-one with any sense is fooled by it. They've simply been (very easily) conned by a tobacco control industry desperate to keep the taxpayer-funded gravy train rolling for as long as possible.

The legislation is extremely funny for those of us who don't have to live with its consequences, but yet another idiotic burden for businesses struggling to cope after decades of piss poor state management from elected numbnuts.

And what faces wholesalers next? Well, that would be covering up products to protect non-existent children, when the branding they're to be shielded from isn't even on the packaging anymore.

At which point, Leg Iron's black hole of stupid may well swallow the entire universe.

H/T Harley at VGIF

Thursday, 24 May 2012

E-Cigs: Cottage Industry To Big Business

Snowdon reported the Lorillard purchase of US e-cig company Blu Ecigs last month, noting quite rightly that this could be a boon for the industry.
The Lorillard buy-out is good news, especially if they pump serious money into developing better products. I've said before that e-cigarettes can replicate the sensation of smoking very well but there's room for improvement when it comes to taste (at least to these lips, many thousands of people disagree). I fully expect e-cigarettes to come on leaps and bounds in the next few years unless they are suppressed by the prohibitionists.
There have, however, been fears expressed by some vapers that there is something sinister going on.

I own a fairly successful business myself, and have always thought these fears not only far-fetched, but also rather naïve, considering some of those expressing them have been loudly trumpeting e-cigs as 'the future' for quite a while now.

As Lorillard CEO Murray Kessler expresses in this fascinating and highly recommended Ecig Advanced video, why would a major listed company not want to be on board with such a hugely promising product? Or indeed, 'the future'?

His promise of placing Blu Ecigs in every retailer in the US is not so bold when coupled with the fact that, as highlighted by the ever-vigilant SteveVape, their potential has been noted by investment heavyweights UBS and Wells Fargo.

In their investor report [pdf], UBS are particularly upbeat about the massive continuing increase in sales.
(1) Since being introduced to the US from China in 2007, the e-cig category has been growing in triple-digit territory, reaching an estimated $250 mm during 2011 and is expected to double to $500 mm by the end of 2012. Looking ahead the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association expects the category to quadruple by mid 2014.
Or, if you'd prefer something more readily digestable ...

So mahoosive are the amounts of cash being discussed that it eclipses even tobacco industry sales of alternatives such as chew, snus and dissolvables. And growing at an alarming (for grinchy smoke-haters) or exciting (for vapers) rate, depending on your point of view. The sales growth is certainly not restricted to the US either, it's a western phenomenon which has even reached Peterborough!

Now, if anyone truly believes that Lorillard would buyout a fraction of that market for $135m in a futile attempt to close the industry down, David Icke probably has a spare turquoise shell suit they could borrow.

No. As I've said many times before, the popularity of e-cigs, and the loyal support they engender, has attracted extremely big players to the market. So much so that e-cigs are becoming a nicotine juggernaut which it would be irresponsible to halt, if not impossible.

Of course, even in a scenario where harm is reduced and happiness is distributed more widely, there will still be losers.

Fortunately, they will mostly come from the ranks of hysterical tobacco industry-hating dinosaurs who still live their lives in the 60s and 70s. The types who produce desperate press releases in a pathetic bid to stay in control of a world which has moved on from their obsessive prejudice; the types who would rather see hundreds of thousands die rather than allow tobacco companies to profit from harm reduction and also insist on e-cig bans; and the plainly mad.

There's also this guy.

In the current climate of inexorable e-cig growth, that tweet - which I'll admit to taking great delight in publishing on a regular basis - could become legendary.

Additionally, now that tobacco companies are increasingly moving into the business - which can arguably only enhance its profile and appeal - one wonders where that leaves passionate e-cig afficionados like the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA). In March, their representative thought it a clever move to pitch e-cigs to EU Commissioner John Dalli - who is already more than sceptical about recreational nicotine - by describing the tobacco industry as "Big Death", with some of those very same companies soon to be big hitters for e-cig promotion in attendance.

Perhaps the biggest argument yet for involvement from more professional advocates, I'd say.

All things considered, it's an interesting time for vapers. Big business weighing in with hefty financial investment looks set to transform a little-known niche product into something far more visible and part of everyday life than it is now. From cottage industry status, the electronic cigarette could be on the verge of breaking into the big time.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Miserablist School Produces Results

In February last year, I reported on a summit organised by ASH Scotland to teach anti-alcohol campaigners how to be as successful as the tobacco control industry. The original link has now been removed, but it was announced with much fanfare at the time.
Alcohol Focus Scotland, ASH Scotland and Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems are pleased to announce a joint conference which will consider what progress has been made in alcohol control and tobacco control and explore what each sector might learn from the other.
Of course, there isn't much anti-smokers need to be taught about creating mythical hazards backed by statistical chicanery, so the flow of information was almost certainly one way. As a result, the temperance movement appear to have learned quite a lot if Alcohol Focus Scotland's latest newsletter [pdf] is anything to go by.

Do tactics like this seem recognisable to you?
A new report from Alcohol Concern, Making an Impression, shows that children as young as 10 are more familiar with some leading alcohol brands and adverts than those for popular foods and snacks.

The number of children able to identify alcohol branding and advertising was comparable to, and in some cases, greater than those who recognised brands and advertising for products known to appeal to children, such as ice cream and cake.
Hmmm. Do you think this might be a heavy hint towards advertising bans, restrictions on display and even one day in the future - because those brands, you see, they're so very dangerous - plain packaging of alcohol?

Well, there wouldn't be much point to their 'research' if not, would there?
Alcohol Concern’s Mark Leyshon said: “The drinks industry asserts very strongly that it doesn’t aim its advertising at children. However, this new study provides more evidence that alcohol marketing messages are getting through to young people well before they are legally able to buy alcohol. Research shows that children who are exposed to alcohol advertising and promotion are more likely to start to use alcohol, have positive expectations about alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.
Ah, the old 'industry is knowingly corrupting children' angle. We know a current campaign exploiting the same mendacious ploy, don't we, lads and lasses?

Perhaps alcohol puritans are salivating at the prospect of being bunged their own £2.5m from the taxpayer to hoist billboards all over the country lobbying for something which only a negligible minority of intolerant, anti-social prodnoses would consider remotely worthwhile.

The drinks industry will have valid reasons for resisting such pathetic self-enriching, duplicitous nonsense from these tax spongers but, you guessed it, the tobacco control template is there before them.
[Dr Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive Alcohol Focus Scotland said], ... despite minimum pricing being the will of the governments both north and south of the border and enjoying the support of doctors, nurses, the police, children’s charities and others, sections of the alcohol industry continue to threaten legal action. The lobbying power of global corporations is well documented and unfortunately all too often results in decisions being taken which favour business interests over the public interest. If the global alcohol producers and retailers persist in seeking to thwart laws which are likely to confer significant health benefits on the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK, they risk going down the same path as the tobacco industry.
The language is so uncannily familiar, it's almost déjà vu, eh? .

"All your business is belong to us" is about the gist of it. If the alcohol industry rightly claims that their detractors are absurd - and that it is long past time someone in government put them firmly back in their box - these rancid people-hating whingers will re-categorise respected businessmen as child-killers. No bag of jelly babies for spotting where this method has been employed before, I'm afraid.

Naturally, politicians will see straight past such hideous and miserable sophistry, yes?
During the Stage 1 debate in Parliament, Willie Rennie made a direct plea to the alcohol industry to stop lobbying against the measure: “I would appeal to the industry - do not go down the route of the tobacco industry and fight this tooth and nail, because there is a will in this parliament to deliver it. I appeal to them: Let’s get on with it.”
Well, no. Of course not. Because politicians are idiots.

It's clear that there's only one way this is all going. There will be a minimum price for alcohol; there will be a ban on advertising all alcohol products at some point; there will be a display ban for alcohol too; and there will be gruesome warnings on bottles of wine because alcohol prohibitionists have a precedent to help push for all of them. Swiftly followed by plain packaging unless politicians stop being dickheads long enough to realise it's a pointless and wholly miserable idea.

What's more, it doesn't matter if the alcohol industry lays down and lets it all wash over them quickly - as alcohol campaigners would wish - or fights it every step of the way. They will still be portrayed as evil big business preying on the misery and suffering of little children. It's a vital component of the whole process.

If the industry is seen as responsible, alcohol control salaries don't get paid and conservatories, loft conversions, circular drives don't get built. The new top-of-the-range car is put on hold and the dining out at Michelin restaurants at the taxpayers' expense becomes more rare. The creation of an opponent allied with Beelzebub to entrap kids is indispensable to prohibitionist wealth creation. Appeasement is entirely futile.

It's what was taught at the tobacco/alcohol summit. It's all part of the plan.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Politicians: The Real Stranger Danger For Kids

There are some things we subversively discuss here which are very irritating, but still others which are so obscene that it makes me weep for the future those younger than us will be forced to live in.

It's taken me a while to properly catch up on Lenore Skenazy's recent articles, but this kind of perverted attitude really grips my shit, so it's worth reproducing it in full.
I was accused of abusing a child when I rescued him from drowning. I was swimming on beach and I noticed a 8 or 9 year old kid come off his little surf board and he sunk straight to the bottom, about 10 feet deep. I swam down and rescued the kid and swam him back to the beach.

As soon as I got the child to the beach he was crying and coughing up water, his mother ran down screaming to leave her boy alone. She was screaming at me so loudly that people were crowding around to see what had happened. At this time the life guards turned up and I advised them what happened as I could not talk any sense to the mother. The life guards took the boy and mother to the life guard hut and I went back to my towel on the beach.

One of the life guards came back to me 10 minutes later and ask me to stay where I am because the police have been called and the mother wants to press charges. The cops turned up 20 minutes later and interviewed me and at that time another lady came up to the police and corroborated my story. The cops let me go, no apology from mother who was marching off the beach arguing with the cops after they told her what happened.

If it was not for the other lady I believe I would be sitting in a police cell for rescuing a kid.
"Leave her boy alone", she said. Great, so there'd be a possibility of his being a dead boy.

This is a story from America, but you just know that the scenario is equally likely to have happened here. The first I noticed this pathetic parental attitude was back in around 1990 when - with my partner of the time - I attempted to soothe a child who had lost her Mummy in Sainsbury's. When the daft cow turned up, she yanked the kid away and gave us the filthiest look I've ever seen.

This, of course, two decades before the hysterical paedohysteria we see now with the entire population being condemned as kiddie-fiddlers until they are proven otherwise. In fact, nowadays, just a wild accusation can land you with a record which makes you unemployable.

It's part of a vile underbelly of filthy distrust which I have touched upon regularly on this blog, and which leads inevitably to childhood self-reliance being curtailed thanks to the selfishness of idiot elders.

All encouraged by politicians who are blindly ignorant to the nasty society they are creating with kneejerk policies which create child harm from an almost non-existent threat.
In 2008, a report for Civitas, a think tank, said the increasing use of such checks had created an atmosphere of suspicion among parents, many of whom were volunteers at sports and social clubs, and who found themselves regarded as "potential child abusers".
I don't use the term 'child harm' lightly, either. There is ample evidence that such hysteria leads to everyday situations where kids suffer real harm over fears of a risk so vanishingly small that it is literally one in a million.
On average 11 children are killed by a stranger each year in the UK (and there are more than 11 million children in the UK), a figure that has not increased since the 1970s. Statistically children are more at risk of abuse from someone they know. Of course the murder or abuse of any child is a tragedy but the actual statistics do imply that our parental anxieties about stranger danger are misplaced.
Conversely, a population scared to step in for fear of being branded a sex pest contributes to tragedies like this, not to mention the numerous lives destroyed as a result of a society obsessed with dirty-minded suspicion.

As a nation, we have shifted from a position where it is a moral imperative to look after kids where one sees them to be in trouble, to one where it is far wiser to look the other way.

Spineless politicians did that. Hurried into it by pathetic idiots who see non-existent paedos behind every hedge and - indeed, on every public beach - thereby contributing to a culture of irrational fear which destroys us all, along with communities which for centuries have been naturally disposed to looking after them.

Would you, for example, come to the aid of a kid in the current atmosphere of stranger terror?

I know I'd think long and hard before doing so.

'Non-Existent' Slippery Slope Spotted in South Africa

Someone in South Africa isn't following the tobacco control script.
The planned use of graphic images on cigarette packs to show the effects of tobacco should be extended to alcohol products as it is more cancerous than tobacco, says the SA Dental Association (Sada).

It said that while smoking increased the risk of people developing cancer up to five times the norm, alcohol usage elevated the risk of contracting mouth cancer ninefold, making alcohol more dangerous.

Professor André van Zyl, Sada’s spokesman, who is also an associate at the School of Dentistry at Pretoria University, said that given the impact of alcohol on health, particularly that of young people who were smoking dagga, there was now an urgency to also put graphic images of cancer on alcoholic beverages similar to those proposed for tobacco products.
No, no no, Professor. Didn't you know that "tobacco is not like any other product" and that no precedent arises out of regulations towards it? Smokefree experts have said so.

As such, no-one will be looking at tobacco legislation and demanding the same for any other product, what a silly notion! Oh, hang on.

See, despite reality continually proving them wrong, the slippery slope is a fiction according to smokefree fantasists. Especially in a laid-back, liberty-loving Britain known worldwide for its complete lack of dictatorial, state-funded health bastards, eh? I mean, I can't remember the last time I read or heard some miserable cock droning on about restricting alcohol, sugar, salt or fast food. Can you?

H/T @Dr_Knows_Best

Monday, 21 May 2012

How To Rig The Evidence For A Consultation


We now know the public consultation on plain packaging has been fixed to deliver the result Lansley's crowd are expecting, thereby confirming that Sir Humphreys exist in abundance even in this era of faux transparent government.
"A basic rule of government is ... never set up an inquiry unless you know in advance what its findings will be."
The findings of people paid to find exactly what they have been paid to find is one thing. It can be challenged if the bias of those doing the 'finding' is obvious ... which it will be.

However, they would still point to the 'evidence' as being a cast-iron back up for their 'expert' opinion. The problem is that the (pfft) expert evidence is cut of the same cloth.

Here is the document (pdf).

The first thing you might notice if you do a word search on it is that the lead author, Crawford Moodie, is referenced 80 times in all in the review. This is because it is mostly a collection of studies conducted by the people who wrote the bloody thing. Studies either authored or co-authored by fellow lead names Linda Bauld, Ann McNeil, Kathryn Angus and Gerard Hastings, are also quoted as sources of *cough* independent research.

As far as I can see, out of the 37 studies cherry-picked selected by the report's authors, 16 were written or co-written by those who compiled the evidence review on which Lansley's department is relying for information.

If such woeful bias is allowable for something as important as a systematic evidence review, I think I'll have to pitch for my own slice of the easy money. I can find 37 articles saying the whole idea is crap. OK, so 16 were written by me and my mates, but what the hell? It's 'science', innit.

Look a bit deeper and you'll notice even more cliquey manipulation.
The authors would like to thank ... Dave Hammond for his contribution to the development of the protocol.
Yeah, I haven't a scooby what 'development of the protocol' means either, except that it sounds like someone casting their eye over the methodology.

Perhaps that's why Hammond - who is almost certainly going to be one of the aforementioned expert subjective assessors - is mentioned 83 times in the review, with no less than 12 studies by him being cited. What a big head, eh?

Other names you might recognise as source material are renowned impartial 'scientists' Deborah Arnott, Martin Dockrell and Simon Chapman.

The review states that they filtered the studies from a starting list of 4,518 citations. How bad the others must have been to leave just 37 which were predominantly authored by the same people conducting the review can only be guessed at. Scribblings on the back of a fag packet, presumably. Is tobacco control really that bad, or are these people just advancing their one-sided agenda under a cloak of impartiality?

I have my own opinion, but will leave you to decide.

What makes it even worse is that four of the names at the top of the review are quoted as being from the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI). These are meant to be independent reviewers of accuracy and rigour. EPPI is referenced throughout to give a cosy, scrupulous sheen to the pack of lies 'evidence'.

Except that - considering the high level of self-referencing going on - the EPPI's own guidelines have not so much been broken as shattered.
A protocol is one component of an open, consultative approach to undertaking reviews. It is also argued that if the review's methods are defined explicitly at the start of the review, reviewers are less likely to be influenced by, for example, their knowledge of study authors or by study findings.
Knowledge of study authors and findings doesn't get more acute than being the people who wrote them, surely. And I don't believe there is much in the text to say something like "this is a review which we wrote about some of our own work" by way of defining 'explicitly' what is going on here.

Perhaps the EPPI lot were just eating doughnuts and chatting about what they watched at the cinema last weekend while tobacco control's prime tax spongers were concocting over a hundred pages of steaming horse shit. It certainly doesn't appear that they did much examination, but then perhaps that wasn't demanded by gimp Lansley's whip-handlers at the Department of Health.

So, thus far, we have a proposal which wasn't in any manifesto; government shovelling artic-loads of money towards lobbying itself; an evidence review which includes tobacco control referencing their own (already paid for) fantasies; and a set of expert opinions to be taken from the same people who imagined, demanded, got paid for advancing, and submitted biased 'evidence' for, plain packaging of tobacco.

Now, if you can see any involvement of just one member of the public in that democratic process, you're a better man than me, Gunga Din.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

How To Rig A Public Consultation?

If you were a responsible politician keen on delivering fair and transparent government, who would you appoint to impartially evaluate evidence pertaining to a public consultation? A crossbench Lord? An impartial judge? A retired police commissioner or business leader?

Well, looking at the impact assessment for the ongoing consultation on plain packaging, Andrew Lansley's Department of Health seem to have plumped for none of the above (from page 28).
Annex 2: Elicitation of Subjective Judgments of the Impact on Smoking of Plain Packaging Policies for Tobacco Products

The sample will consist of three groups of internationally-renowned experts on tobacco control policies, one group recruited from each of Australasia, the UK and North America. We will aim to recruit about 10 participants per group, numbers found to be sufficient in previous studies. Experts will meet Hora and van Winterfeldt’s first four requirements for participation, that is: (a) tangible evidence of expertise (as evidenced by publications), (b) reputation (as indicated by peer-nomination), and (c) availability and willingness to participate, (d) understanding of the general problem area (in addition to being a requirement for recruitment, participants will be provided with papers on the topic area to ensure sufficient knowledge). The latter two requirements suggested by Hora and van Winterfeldt (impartiality and lack of an economic or personal stake in potential findings) are considered impractical in this area, and so instead we will include a description of the participants’ employment and expertise for transparency.
Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but this would seem to suggest that the 'experts' to be appointed for this purpose will all be people paid to come up with tobacco control policies ... like plain packaging.

The tract admits that there's no way they will be impartial, and that many will have a personal stake in seeing one side of the argument prevail over the other. However, the civil service doesn't seem to envisage any problem with this.

It's like handing control of the Leveson Inquiry to an associate of Rebekah Brooks, or even Rebekah Brooks herself with James Murdoch as a fellow panel member. Or Alex Ferguson appointing four members of the Manchester United Supporters Club to be officials for an important Champions League fixture.

In the scenario above, it's not inconceivable that the 'experts' recruited to offer 'subjective' judgements on plain packaging could include Simon Chapman, Linda Bauld and Stanton Glantz!

This is what passes for democratic process in this wonderful free country of ours.

Since we're well into the consultation period, one wonders if these panel members have been appointed yet or, if not, if the DoH has an idea of who they will be contacting for the roles. I can feel another FOI request coming on.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A Rummage In The Postbag

Now we know that the tobacco control industry gets a bit upset about being questioned, it's added some 'glitzy' attraction to the approach, don't you think?

ASH reasons that tobacco companies are only upset about plain packaging because they know it will work (pfft). So by the same token, if tobacco controllers are squealing at having to justify themselves, they must be worried about being exposed. QED.

As such, the most effective way of irritating them as they bully you is to send letters and queries to find out what they are hiding away so assiduously. Since mentioning that readers here had been doing exactly that and sharing their e-mails with me, unsolicited, I'm happy to report that others have also stepped forward to raise other grievances.

Without wishing to sound like a modern day Barry Took, here's an interesting such missive from Mr R of somewhere or other (I don't pry).
Dear Cancer Research UK
A bit of licence there, I presume that would have been the introductory address.
I have given money to Cancer research uk in the past, thinking that it would be spent on cancer research and treatment. However I have since found out that a portion of the money is spent on stop smoking campaigns. I want 100% of my money to be spent on cancer research, not prevention of people smoking. Please stop your anti-smoking campaigns or I will stop giving money to you.
They did, at least, reply (not that it would harm their £482m annual income if they didn't) but contrite it ain't.
Thank you for your e-mail.

Cancer Research UK is dedicated to preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. The link between smoking and cancer is irrefutable, which is one reason why we are currently campaigning for the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.
Err, smoking causes cancer ... so we're hoping to ban colour schemes? That's one hell of a leap. There's still no whiff of evidence any kid has started because of the pack, let alone suffered years down the line as a result. In fact, CRUK's own report said they don't even notice them. But hey, salary-chasing anti-smokers have never been known for their integrity.
We fully appreciate that some of our supporters would like their donations to solely go toward our research. We therefore have the ability to ring-fence cheque donations received, so that this may be achieved. All that we ask is for the supporter to make it clear to us in a covering note that this is their stipulation and it will be processed accordingly.
Weasel words, if ever they have been seen.

All that people who donate to CRUK ask is that their money is used for what it says on their highly-advertised tin.

Nothing there about "together we'll beat anyone who enjoys tobacco", or "together we'll stop you drinking alcohol". Oh, you didn't know that as well as a Tobacco Advisory Group, CRUK also have an alcohol equivalent? Well, they do. They're not too keen on the food you choose to eat, either, and throw cash at demonising fast food produced by popular companies.

Somehow, "together, we'll stop people enjoying themselves, by lobbying government, because we haven't the first clue how to cure cancer after over 100 years pretending" isn't as snappy, and certainly won't help those 164 employees of theirs to continue earning over £60k per annum, eh?

So perhaps, if they were being transparent and scrupulous they might - instead of only revealing the 'ring-fencing' option when challenged by e-mail - let every potential donor know this before they put their hand in their pocket, or run round a field wearing pink, to help pay for the CRUK CEO's £210k+ salary plus pension. See, that might actually mean something rather than soft soap from an administrator who knows full well that whatever the odd disgruntled correspondent says won't make a blind bit of difference to how their ocean of cash is distributed.

But more than that, they are weasel words since the employee who replied is one of a minority within the organisation who are aware that their company is involved in political lobbying. I've had cold callers begging for money who have laughed at me for suggesting that their charity is involved in politics. If their own fundraisers aren't aware of it, how do they expect anyone else to know, or - more to the point - be able to find some obscure part of their website (if it exists) which details any 'ring-fencing'?

No. Best course of action is to give your charitable donations to local efforts which deserve them and, sadly, are often starved of cash because of the well-funded predatory nature of CRUK Mega Inc.. Or there's always less bigoted deserving causes who don't turn down donations due to being wedded to the goals of the pharmaceutical industry like, err, Cancer Research UK.

Anyway, I digress. Keep pumping out those badgering e-mails and letters, won't you? And do share the results, the more they squirm the more cathartic the experience, I find.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Big Tobacco Control: A Global Epidemic Of Tax Sponging

This is an issue that should be investigated by the Government or the Auditor-General. Yet again we have evidence of taxpayer-funded groups using their funding to lobby the Government for specific law and policy changes.

This is an extremely bad thing. The Government should not be effectively paying people to lobby Parliament and the Government a specific way.
Sounds familiar.
A quick look at the ASH website makes it clear it is a lobby group, but a lobby group that gets 89% of its funding from the taxpayer. I am all in favour of taxpayer funding quit smoking initiatives, but not funding a lobby group. One of its values is “A dedication to influencing public policy and social norms to tobacco related harm.” It has a page on its current campaigns, of which seven are about law changes, only one is actually about quitting smoking.
Very familiar.

This isn't the UK version though, instead it is their New Zealand counterparts.

Using the parlance we see regularly from groups like these, we seem to be in the grip of a global epidemic of organised tax-sponging. Throughout the western world there are unproductive wasters begging for a government handout provided by funds extorted from 'hard-working families' (© Gordon Brown 1997-2010).

They claim to be grass roots organisations or - hah! - charities, but are really just front groups for Big Government and Big Pharma. In New Zealand, even the 11% of funding that wasn't extorted from government is from people who have seen a government minister on the telly once, so they are as tainted as the rest.

In the UK, ASH was formed as an astroturf organisation in 1972 due to the non-existence of anyone remotely giving a tuppenny toss about an activity enjoyed by millions. They have a history of disrupting society by way of underhand tactics, propaganda, and secretly colluding in the recruitment of compliant 'scientists' to produce results for payment.

The tobacco control industry costs the world economy millions of pounds per day, and one in every two people who enters the profession will shrivel up like a curtain-twitching prune as a result of their addiction to other people's money.

The tobacco control industry knows that it needs to recruit 5,000 schoolchildren every year to maintain their future salaries, Koi carp, and skinny lattes from government grants, and they do so by targeting schools with myths and 'glitzy' online marketing campaigns.

Anti-smoking cockwaffle is the only advocacy product which kills democracy, social harmony, and community when adhered to as intended.

H/T Crampton & Andrews

Where Is YOUR Contribution, Hague?

"Nothing is fucked up, just give us your money"

You know when you read something and think you must have got all the letters mixed up? Then you rub your eyes and re-read it but it's still as shite as you first thought?

Well, this.
He says of complaining business leaders: “I think they should be getting on with the task of creating more of those jobs and more of those exports, rather than complaining about it.”

Mr Hague warns that Britain has suffered from decades of declining work ethic, when people were persuaded they could “live on expanded debt forever, rather than having to earn what we spend”. The country’s work ethic needs to be rescued “in the nick of time”, he says.

The “work harder” message is understood to be a key plan of the Government’s political fightback, which is aimed at appealing to “strivers” and hard-pressed families.
Listen Hague, you weapons-grade cock, we are working harder and harder every advancing year. The fact you have any growth whatsoever even possible is nothing to do with government and all to do with Adam Smith's principle of self-interest.

Of course, anyone who tries to start up a business; grow a business; employ more people; or innovate to create jobs and produce something good for the country, is faced with one great big fucking obstacle.

The government and the EU. And guess what, munchkin, you're instrumental in both.

The Queen's speech offers us the delights of transferring maternity pay to the father, swiftly following on from your waving through EU regulations on re-instating holiday entitlement when staff get sick on their own time. You do realise, don't you, that that's someone else's money you're spending?

Crikey, these are just two off the top of my head to add to the hundreds of other obligations your political class have laid - like jagged rocks - in front of businesses trying to grow.

In my own industry of transport, you also felt it fine to let even small businesses feel the full force of EU fuckwittery, despite it being perfectly within your powers to claim an exemption. You know, for the British people, remember us?

We thought Labour were bad, but your lot are passing legislation at a more rapid rate than even them! Hugely so (bottom left of this page).

Where the fuck is your contribution to business, Hague? Where is this assault on red tape because I sure as shit haven't seen it. Where is the commitment from government to help out businesses in delivering growth? A minor tax cut coupled with burdens elsewhere which negate it? Are you serious?

Your government is not only imposing more laws than any before it, you're also spending more money than any previously. If you want growth, how about stopping the river of cash from private industry into many many pointless overheads. Ooh, I can think of £468k just for starters.

How extremely arrogant is it of this man to demand more effort from private business when his own administration is doing jack to reduce the pressure imposed from Westminster and Brussels.

Stop moaning? You should feel lucky that so few of those who can do so have migrated abroad so far. Sit back in your chair and continue to feed the insatiable tax-funded, debt-increasing monkey if you like, but don't you fucking dare say that mild complaints about your administration aren't valid.

I think it's well beyond time we reported the parliamentary Conservative Party as missing persons, don't you?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Anarchy In Manchester

Joyous scenes in Manchester as the blue part claimed a dramatic last gasp Champions League Title. I do like a good, old-fashioned pitch invasion, me.

10,000 criminals, pictured this afternoon

Of course, every person represented in tiny pixels on that pitch were breaking the law under the Football Offences Act 1991.
It is an offence for a person at a designated football match to go onto the playing area, or any area adjacent to the playing area to which spectators are not generally admitted, without lawful authority or lawful excuse (which shall be for him to prove).
I'm not sure "being mad fer it chuffed" would count as a lawful excuse, more's the pity.

Now, I've been to that stadium once and witnessed first hand how the obsession with crowd control under the 1991 Act results in attendees being unable to see the pitch celebrations behind a wall of six foot coppers and charmless stewards. The suppression of natural exuberance by the stroke of a risk-petrified statist pen leads to the detriment of just about everybody.

Even the act of standing the kids on concrete blocks at the front of the stand was denied because of 'health and safety', so their view of some historic scenes was relegated to gazing at the hi-viz jackets and flared nostrils of jobsworths and government-empowered enforcers.

Obedience, it seems, trumps the entire point of going to live - and expensive - sporting events, that being the utter, liberating, unrestrained and cathartic joy of success. Government says so, see?

Previously, on the pitch, the same pointless unthinking 'authority' had showed itself.
Manchester City had just come back from behind, scoring two goals in extra time to win a Championship - something never seen before in football history, and probably never likely to be seen again - and the goal-scorer was penalised for over-exuberant celebration!

Can there possibly be such a thing?

I'm sure there are occasions where all-encompassing powers might be required, but today proves that those with authority over our lives are too ignorant of the human condition to wield them.

Like a diver rising to the surface slower than the slowest bubble to avoid the bends, modern authority condemns us all to be considered as the worst possible miscreants to avoid the inconvenient need to apply judgement. We must all suffer a less joyful life in order for a pitifully few in charge to feel like they are doing something useful.

As someone who is more of a cricket and rugby fan, I can't quite place when the casual pitch strolls onto the playing area at the end of test matches and five nations battles were stopped, but it's probably around the same time football soiled its trousers enough for some MP to massage his ego with overweening legislation.

Granted, Manchester police will be unlikely to prosecute those on the pitch today, but probably only because there are too bloody many of them to justify spending the money. The fact that the law is there at all just shows that we could do with a lot less government than we have now. After all, encroaching on the pitch as a crime is just one of thousands of pathetic over-reactions they have come out with in the past few decades.

One day, we might see some balance in law-making from our unanimously authoritarian parliamentary parties, but that day is nowhere on the horizon as far as I can see. If they would just sit down and throw out the odd bit of daft stuff every now and then, it would be encouraging.

Repealing laws which dictate what behaviour a business owner can allow on his own property - like the Etihad - would be a start. Just saying.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Jewel Robbing Spotted On The BBC

Simon Clark today reports that those tax spongers in the South West are getting all upset about Freedom of Information requests.
Smokefree South West claim that they have been "inundated by pro-smoking/choice organisations such as Forest, backed by the tobacco industry with FOI requests in relation to their campaign.

The BBC has interviewed Professor Gabriel Scally, recently retired head of public health for the South West, and they also want to interview someone from Forest.

Dr Scally, I am told, is critical of the tobacco industry, and campaigners like Forest, for their FOIs about plain packaging not only in the UK but in Australia, "in particular the expense and time it is causing them in having to respond to some 35 requests FOI requests including very detailed ones for emails".
Oh dear. That'll be partly our fault, then.

And here they are bleating about it in a video broadcast on the BBC.

These people really do have no other line of attack than to try making out that everyone who disagrees with them are funded by tobacco companies. It's really quite pathetic.

Ever since I posted a photograph of one of Smokefree South West's advertising hoardings, I've received e-mails letting me know of FOI requests readers have submitted - probably because it was unclear at the time how much they cost.
On top of the design fees, as far as I can ascertain, this space would cost around £200 per week and, of course, we don't know how many of them there are dotted around, or for how long. Add on printing costs and beer money for the bill posters and we're talking a pretty penny being spent from your taxes, I reckon.
I submitted some myself but it was a fellow jewel robber who e-mailed me this response which was the first we knew they were pissing half a mill down the drain.

Others who e-mailed me their FOI responses include a teacher from the Midlands, an IT professional, and a guy from Manchester involved in Intellectual Property, hence his interest. As for myself, regular readers will know I run a transport company which has grown from couple of borrowed vehicles in the 90s, so I'm just a glorified white van man. Remember too, that these are just those who copied me in on their responses and takes no account of any others who may have sent a request for personal curiosity without letting on. After all, it's a very simple process.

See any tobacco industry involvement there? No, it's utter arse-biscuits, of course. But they really don't like any kind of debate or questioning, do they?

You'll notice in the BBC report that they mention the half a million pounds figure that I revealed here in April. That was the first time it had been mentioned, and it's a fair bet that without the FOI requests Smokefree South West would never have revealed it. This is the entire point of the Freedom of Information Act. To force those who spend our taxes into letting us know what they are doing with them.

Far from being 'sabotage' of their lobbying plans, those requests made these people notify the public what is being done with the cash they have stolen from us by force.

Isn't it incredible that these grasping bastards are happily trousering cash by the many millions from the public trough but - once asked what they are doing with it - squeal like stuck pigs and default to spreading lies and insults.

If they don't want to be accountable to the public - which it is clear they don't - then here's an idea, STOP TAKING TAXPAYERS' MONEY!

This contemptuous deceit goes right to the top, too.

BBC South West, or whatever it's called, was happy to confirm today that the plain packs campign was "NHS-funded", yet Anne Milton denied this in March.
The Department of Health has not spent any money on advertising or marketing the forthcoming consultation on tobacco packaging, neither through the NHS Smokefree marketing campaign, nor through any other organisation.
Thanks to our FOI requests, we now know this was a duplicitous dodge at best, a lie at worst. Again, it is perfect validation of how the Freedom of Information Act enables ordinary people to cut through bullshit from politicians and discover at least some small parts of the truth.

I say small parts as - in the sphere of public health anyway - even the government has no clue how much they are spending on this kind of stuff. They don't even know how many people they have working on it, there are too many snouts in that particular trough for them to keep track of.

The chief complainant, Gabriel Scally, is apparently debating plain packaging with Snowdon and Clark in Bristol tonight. Considering he's part of a bullshit spreading campaign on the BBC today, the chances of his being truthful there are obviously very slim.

Still, to all of you fellow jewel robbers who have managed to get right up the noses of these greedy, arrogant, public-funded arseholes. Very well done!

Beginning Of The End For Duty Free?

Just the other day, Nanny Beeb were asking if the airport experience has "become horrible". The answer is obviously yes, but it's not like tax-funded lobbyists couldn't make it worse with a bit of effort.

As hinted at here in February, I see from the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance that their government are well on their way to wiping out duty free tobacco for travellers in the latest budget.
As part of its reforms, the Government increased the excise on tobacco products by 25 per cent, and will reduce the duty free allowance on tobacco to 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of other tobacco product.
A couple of packs or a large pouch of baccy. That's it.

Doubtless the tobacco control industry will once again say this doesn't represent any kind of precedent, but commenters to this article in April didn't seem to think so. The very whisper of a rule no-one had even considered in their everyday lives before instantly brings the spiteful out of the woodwork to apply it elsewhere. Alcohol featured prominently.

There really is nothing that those paid to impose their personal preferences on others will view as not being a target for making grey and mundane.

And in politicians worldwide devoted to ripping every penny the public earns in feeding the bloated monkey of profligate government, they have perfect allies. Yours is not to enjoy life or find joy in the odd perk, it is only to serve the state machine and live as long as possible to pay even more taxes.

You didn't really want that Toblerone anyway, did you?