There is a lot of talk today about the report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that suggests that the budget of George “the progressively” Osbourne is much more on the regressive side than we might have been led to believe.

From Channel 4 news

The poor are not only paying more than the rich in proportion to their income – the standard statistical definition of being “regressive”. But the poorest groups are paying more from their vastly smaller incomes than almost all the richest groups in cash terms.


The IFS says its study found that the poorest six tenths of households lost more in cash terms as a result of the Budget measures than wealthier households in all but the richest 10 per cent.

All I am asking here is the same question that I asked here, and that is simply this – why are people so shocked and/or surprised?

You shouldn’t be suprised because this is what the tories ARE. This is what they do and what they have almost always done.

Don’t get me wrong, Labour, particularly New Labour have very often behaved the same way.

The point is that there has been no significant change in the direction of UK economic policy since Thatcher. The devastating reforms she introduced have only been deepened by successive governments and only the presentation and the faces have changed.


The benefit fraud stuff has been quickly brought out by condem government. Not a surprise but a quick look at some government statistics (admittedly a few years old but I see no reason why the ratios will have changed substantially) should help to put it in context.

Firstly, they are estimating that there is about £5 billion in benefit fraud every year. However, in years gone past there has been an estimated £7 billion in benefits that were due but went unclaimed. Are they going to hunt these people down to give them their money? Doubt it.

Secondly, from various sources here is a list I compiled a couple of years ago when Neo-Labour were doing the same thing: the list is about where most fraud goes on.

  • Corporate tax avoidance: 85
  • Business fraud: 14
  • Government fraud in Whitehall: 5
  • Tobacco smuggling: 3.5
  • VAT fraud on mobile phones: 2.5
  • Total welfare fraud: 0.7bn (this was the governments figure for 2005/6. It is possible that there is another billion or so in overpayments)
  • Jobseekers Allowance fraud: 0.19
  • Bulldozer smuggling: 0.15 (just left in here because it is a rather unexpected one.)
  • Insurance fraud – Association of British Insurers  claimed in 2006 that insurance fraud comes to about £1.5 billion a year.

I am not suggesting two wrongs make a right but I want to ask a few follow-up questions based on this info….

1. Do you think that the government will pursue corporate fraudsters as vigilantly as it will benefit fraudsters?(please consult evidence regarding whether they do or not)

2. If not, why not?

3. Is that now three wrongs?

4. Which of the two things (corporate or benefit fraud) is the bigger example of naked greed?

5. If they are equivalent examples of greed should the criminals then be treated equally?

6. Does this happen?

Cartoon by the pleb


This week we have Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight which, amongst other things, examines the lies that are used to manipulate the public into supporting wars…


Just a couple of things this morning.

Firstly, there is a great article by Chris Hedges over a truthdig called “Wall Street will be back for more”.

A lot of what he talks about in the article is explained wonderfully in a film from a couple of years ago called The Corporation which you can now watch online. If you haven’t seen it I urge you to watch it…it just may be one of the most important films you will ever see. If you have already seen it then it is absolutely worth another look.


Nicely and succinctly put by Ralph Nader…and it is pretty much exactly the same process as in most allegedly democratic countries…

“You have a tug of war with one side pulling. The corporate interests pull on the Democratic Party the way they pull on the Republican Party. If you are a ‘least-worst’ voter you don’t want to disturb John Kerry on the war, so you call off the anti-war demonstrations in 2004. You don’t want to disturb Obama because McCain is worse. And every four years both parties get worse. There is no pull. That is the dilemma of The Nation and The Progressive and other similar publications. There is no breaking point. What is the breaking point? The criminal war of aggression in Iraq? The escalation of the war in Afghanistan? Forty-five thousand people dying a year because they can’t afford health insurance? The hollowing out of communities and sending the jobs to fascist and communist regimes overseas that know how to put the workers in their place? There is no breaking point. And when there is no breaking point you do not have a moral compass.”


Worth reprising this from Andy Best I think…

barack_obama_120x120So, Obama’s in and all us ‘liberals’ are happy.

Just imagine if McCain had won and we saw the following aspects of his campaign carried through:

– Continuation of the ‘war on terror’ including more troops into Afghanistan (back to the stone age not enough) and promises to cross borders (invade) others if they ‘don’t comply’ – ie invade Iran and Pakistan.

– a promise to take intervention in latin America “further south” ie ‘deal with’ Venezuela and Bolivia

– national/single payer healthcare completely off the table.

– full support of the Cuba embargo

– refusing to be photographed with the mayor of SF so not to appear as supporting same sex unions.

– commitment to draconian immigration policies such as the mexico border wall.

– penal system and capital punishment off the table as is gun control

– 700 billion handout to companies who preach no nationalization and private competition

… hey ..oh ..wait a minute … my bad! That’s a list of Obama’s campaign – I got confused.


In a shock move it was today announced that there will be another referendum in Ireland over the Lisbon treaty. Surprised ‘No’ voters expressed delight that they will get the chance to overturn the overturning of their no vote.

Leader of the ‘Yes’ campaign Shadie O’Character has decided that they were possibly being unfair when they pumped lots of money into the ‘Yes’ campaign and so warped the democratic process.

Yesterday, O’Connor spoke at length about the process…

“Yes, we admit it. We didn’t get the answer we wanted the first time so we made them vote again and paid journalists and politicians to say what we wanted them to. It is the same basic system that is used all over the world. We call it ‘coincidental democracy’ in that when they vote for we want then that is fine but when they don’t we have to do it all over again until we get the right answer.

To be honest, we were prepared if the great unwashed had voted no again to make them vote again anyway so the organisation has already been done. “

He later explained the reason for his chage of heart.

“Well, we considered that it has just been too easy for us for a while and we were getting a bit bored of it. Therefore we have decided to give each campaign an equal amount of airtime and money this time and allow journalists to say what they want. It should be more exciting that way.

Also, in the interests of fairness, we got to try again after we got a result we didn’t like so why shouldn’t they get the opportunity this time? It is only fair.”

Here was the scene in Hell yesterday…


This of course has sent the politicians of almost all the other countries of Europe, who hadn’t even bothered to give their respective electorates a chance to vote into a major strop.

Gordon Brown criticised the Irish decision to expand democracy when all the other nations in Europe are downsizing it.

“The Irish are pissing into the wind” said Brown, “and being just over the sea if it is a windy day then we get the democratic splashback. That is unacceptable in this modern age.”

He continued…

“We are in a situation where many countries in Europe have systematically cancelled proposed referendums on the Lisbon treaty on the basis that the people would probably have said ‘no’. Ireland can’t be the only one to ask people what they think…it is selfish”