Wednesday, 29 July 2009

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Paula, Laura and the Greenwashed explorer

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath takes his regularly irreverent look at some of the past week’s headlines.

richardmcgrath 1. Ice caps melting – astronaut – “A Canadian astronaut aboard the International Space Station says it looks like the Earth’s ice caps have melted since he was last in orbit twelve years ago,” says the article. Later in the news article, he admits: “This is probably just a perception, but I just have the feeling the glaciers are melting…” No measurement, no science, just “a feeling.” No wonder his comment has been so widely reported.  
    The report doesn’t say whether the astronaut’s previous voyage was at the same time of the year -- and I could be mistaken here -- but I imagine the ice caps recede and then build up again depending on the season. Two snapshots twelve years apart are hardly the basis for such a pronouncement.
    My suspicion when reading this article that it was probably written by some equally Greenwashed media puppet was confirmed when it went on to talk about an air-scrubber stripping “deadly” carbon dioxide from the space station’s air. What utter bullshit. Carbon dioxide is not “deadly.” In fact, a buildup of CO2 in the blood of a living human provides stimulation to breathe more deeply and quickly, which sounds fairly life-enhancing to me. Down here on earth it is the fourth most abundant gas in the air we breathe, at a concentration of 0.04% or 1 in 2600 by unit volume. In higher concentrations carbon dioxide is irritant and harmful, but then again so is oxygen. Of course, in a space station the levels do need to be diminished, but the word “deadly” is being used in a space-station context to allow readers to draw conclusions about earth that they shouldn’t.

2. ‘I Can’t Afford To Eat Healthily’ – From the pages of the Daily Mail, but I just had to share this article with readers: a 25 year old British woman who has never worked, who weighed 38 stone, who was given a gastric bypass costing £8,000 under the NHS system, and dropped to 22 stone. But now she’s unhappy because her “disability allowance” of £340 pounds a month has been cut.
    Her response: to sit on her backside watching TV for seven hours a day eating chocolate bars and packets of crisps. When asked why she didn’t eat an apple, she said: “They’re cheap, but emotionally, I don’t always feel like eating an apple.”
    Does this entity ever consider the productive people who are taxed to support her indolent lifestyle? Does anyone ever give any thought to those they’re living off? I find it extremely difficult to feel any compassion for this entity who appears to have very few, if any, redeeming features. Never fear, the NHS has offered to bleed more taxpayers to the tune of another £12,000  to pay for an operation to remove the saggy bits of skin left behind after the initial weight loss. Only in Britain!

3. Minister Accused Of Breaking Privacy Law – Paula Bennett is in the firing line for revealing how much the taxpayer is forced to pay two beneficiaries who were complaining about a reduction in handouts to solo parents. There is a simple answer to this: privatise welfare, so that politicians and bureaucrats are no longer privy to this sort of personal information. Thousands of public servants could have access to details of your personal benefit history – why on earth should sensitive information on personal finances be available to state employees? There is ample evidence that private welfare does a much more efficient job at targeting money and resources to those who need it. Most importantly, a private system would not be allowed to extort money from working people as the public welfare system does currently via Inland Revenue. 

See y’all next week!
Doc McGrath


  1. In a recent talk to a local rotary club I suggested, not entirely tongue in cheek, that an organisation such as theirs might be well placed to run the welfare system. Eyebrows were raised.

  2. Bravo, Shane! If welfare was devolved to the regions, towns, even suburbs, it wouldn't seems such a daunting job - and charities and private welfare organisations could handle the workload I'm sure. The key I believe is getting families and friends involved, including with funding those in need.

    People such as Laura (in the second news article) would have to get off their ample bottoms and justify their place on the queue!

  3. Also those organisations are intimately connected with industries able to employ...

  4. A Boot Camp for unemployable porkers like your example- an idea who's time has come!

    [Visions of the jelly donut scene from 'Full Metal Jacket']

  5. ..."to remove the saggy bits of skin left behind after the initial weight loss".

    Wouldn't that leave an empty table after the operation?

  6. IMO we have the right to expect elected officials to keep our personal details private...the Bennett issue is a good example of why we need politicians out of our lives.

    And churches/the clergy should go back to providing welfare - given their enormous wealth and tax free status it shouldn't be too much of a strain.

  7. Richard can you please supply more information about 'privatising welfare'?

    Is there a relevant link on the Lib's site - most particularly, how do the mechanics of this work, by which I mean, where does the funding come from please?

  8. "Does anyone ever give any thought to those they’re living off?"

    No. Because we're all conditioned to thinking of it as govt, rather than taxpayers' largesse.

  9. The Astronauts 'feeling' is a bit dodgy but quoting from the Daily Mail is OK ? Please !

  10. I quoted from 'The Guardian' the other day. Does that balance things out for you?

  11. Oh you caught me out - I'm a whining lefty because I suggest the Daily Mail is hardly a journal of record. Quote from the WSJ, the FT, the National Review but let's not try and pretend the Daily Mail is anything other than what it is.

  12. Richard McGrath29 Jul 2009, 18:03:00

    Mark - I will hunt down our welfare deregulation spokesman and see if there is a transitional welfare policy somewhere - I agree it's important to nut this one out carefully.

    In general, and off the top of my head, our policy would probably have an end date for those receiving sickness and invalid benefits and the dole - perhaps three to six months notice. After that, these beneficiaries would be expected to find a private charity or welfare agency and enrol with them. Any new beneficiaries would be given, say, 3 months of payments and told in that time to find a private funder after that.

    Superannuitants would be funded through annuities paid for from the interest earned on money obtained from the sale of state assets.

    Minimum wage would be abolished so the dole should evaporate overnight.

    Until their abolition, sickness, invalid and unemployment payments would be equalised to save much of the current bureaucratic and medical time-wasting.

    Does that leave any beneficiaries I haven't scared the bejesus out of?


  13. Richard McGrath29 Jul 2009, 18:11:00

    Richard - Yes, I know using the Daily Mail is lowering the standards a bit, but the woman featured was such a prime example of everything that is wrong with socialism and the welfare state, and the perverse incentives produuced by coercive wealth redistribution.


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