It’s a slow day in a little east Texas town. The sun is beating down, and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.  

On this particular day a rich tourist from back east is driving through town. He stops at the motel and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. 

As soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. 

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his debt to the pig farmer. 

The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. 

The guy at the Farmer’s Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her “services” on credit. 

The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the hotel owner. 

The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. 

At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the $100 bill, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. 

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. 

However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the future with a lot more optimism. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government is conducting business today. 

It isn’t difficult to make a mountain out of a molehill, just add a little dirt.


Alerts To Threats In 2012 Europe


The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.”

Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.”  

The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. 

Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels.  

This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.”  

The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” 

The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout loudly and excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” 

Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.”  

They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbor” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy.  

These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be all right, Mate.”  

Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the Barbie this weekend!” and “The Barbie is cancelled”  

So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level

John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person.

A final thought – “Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray.”

Welcome back to 430 BC.”


Tax his land,

Tax his bed,

Tax the table

At which he’s fed.


Tax his work,

Tax his pay,

He works for peanuts



Tax his cow,

Tax his goat,

Tax his pants,

Tax his coat.


 Tax his tobacco,

Tax his drink,

Tax him if he

Tries to think.


Tax his car,

Tax his gas,

Find other ways

To tax his ass.


Tax all he has

Then let him know

That you won’t be done

Till he has no dough.


When he screams and hollers;

Then tax him some more,

Tax him till

He’s good and sore.


Then tax his coffin,

Tax his grave,

Tax the sod in

Which he’s laid.


When he’s gone,

Do not relax,

It’s time to apply

The inheritance tax.


Accounts Receivable Tax

Airline surcharge tax

Airline Fuel Tax

Airport Maintenance Tax

Building Permit Tax

Cigarette Tax

Corporate Income Tax

Goods and Services Tax (VAT)

Death Tax

Driving licence Tax

Environmental Taxes

Excise Taxes

Income Tax

Fishing License Tax

Food License Tax

Petrol Tax

Profit Tax

Health Tax

Inheritance Tax

Interest Tax

Heating Tax

Lighting Tax

Cooking Tax

Alcohol Tax

Luxury Taxes

Marriage License Tax

Private Medical Insurance Tax

Mortgage Tax and his pension

Personal Income Tax

Property/Council Tax

Prescription Tax

Land Stamp Duty Tax

Road Vehicle Tax

Retail Sales Tax (VAT)

Service Charge Tax

Telephone Tax

Vehicle License Registration Tax

Vehicle Sales Tax

Water Tax

Workers Compensation Tax

Tax (VAT) on Tax.

Carbon Tax? 



Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago…

when our nation was one of the most prosperous in the world.

We had little national debt, a large middle class, a huge manufacturing base, and Mum stayed home to raise the kids.


What in the Hell happened?

RoboEd Miliband hits the mean streets to attack the Coalition from the Right

Yesterday a small but significant thing happened. Ed Miliband attacked the Coalition from the Right.

To be fair he attacked them from the Left, and from the centre, and came diving out of the noonday sun as well: “Ed Miliband targets health reforms in local election campaign” – The Guardian; “Ed Miliband targets David Cameron in local election’s campaign launch” – Metro; “Ed Miliband: The Government has betrayed middle Britain” – Telegraph.

But for a moment let’s set aside the Labour leader’s continuing inability to deploy a single, sustained narrative. Miliband has finally broken his self-denying ordinance, and actually started piling in from the Right. The first assault appeared in the Daily Mirror: “Anti-social yobs should be frogmarched back to their victims to make amends, says Ed Miliband.” According to RoboEd, police should “be able to press thugs to clean up their mess by scrubbing off graffiti or rebuilding community projects.” And all without the usual mindless bureaucracy associated with things like fair representation or due legal process.

Read more….

The West should fan Burma’s flames of freedom

No one has yet coined a snappy title for what is happening here in Burma, but the sequence of events is quite as remarkable as with any of the revolutions that shook the Arab world last year, or broke down the Iron Curtain two decades ago. One of the world’s most inspirational icons of non-violent resistance has returned from 18 years of house arrest to win a landslide election victory. On Sunday, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won the overwhelming majority of by-election seats it contested, defeating the generals’ party so comprehensively that she appears likely to take control of the whole country at the next election in 2015.

The fairy tale began when Thein Sein, a former general, won the presidency last year, after four years as prime minister. He apparently decided that the only way to heal his country (and escape from the orbit of China) was not only to free the leader of the democracy movement, but to embark on reform at breakneck speed.

Since he met Aung San Suu Kyi in August last year, he has suspended work on an unpopular Chinese hydro-electric dam, freed hundreds of political prisoners, lifted curbs on the freedom of expression and the press, and persuaded the NLD to stand in elections for the first time since the military overturned its landslide victory in 1990.

Read more….

Voters want a story, Ed Miliband, not a hologram of your hopes

Be careful what you wish for. Had the Delphic Oracle told Ed Miliband two weeks ago that Labour would soon be 10 points ahead of the Tories and as few as four points adrift on economic credibility, the Labour leader would not have believed his ears. That breakthrough moment, so long awaited, has vanished faster than Ed Balls could swallow a Greggs sausage roll.

When Mr Miliband launched Labour’s local election campaign yesterday, he should have looked dominant. The Tories are discredited by a party funding scandal, coupled with taxes on old age and pasties. Ministerial guidance on petrol-buying has been so haughty and ill-conceived that motorists might no longer be surprised if told to fill up their cars with five-star cognac.

Yet Mr Miliband, who should be capitalising on this disarray, is hamstrung by problems that did not begin or end in Bradford West. Liam Byrne wants to stand down from the shadow cabinet to run for mayor of Birmingham, leaving a half-hatched policy review behind him. Ken Livingstone is scarcely a shoo-in for the London mayoralty, which will inevitably be branded as the next big test for Mr Miliband.

Read more….

Council tenants to get up to £75,000 to buy their own homes, David Cameron to say

The Prime Minister will formally unveil a “reinvigorated” version of the ‘right to buy’ policy pioneered by Margaret Thatcher’s Government during the 1980s. If sucessful if could see another two million council homes sold off.

Mr Cameron will say he wants to quadruple the number of tenants who can buy back their own homes and help more “achieve their aspiration of owning their own homes”.

The intervention comes amid a difficult time for Mr Cameron, when he has been accused of being out of touch and too distant from the concerns of ordinary people.

In comments released by Downing Street, Mr Cameron – who is visiting council tenants in London today – will say that he wants to help more people “do up their home, change their front door, improve their garden”.

Mr Cameron will say: “I want many more people to achieve the dream of home ownership. In the 1980s, ‘Right to Buy’ helped millions of people living in council housing achieve their aspiration of owning their own home.

Read more….

Theresa May: data snooping helped jail Ian Huntley

Theresa May argued that the new powers were required to “help police stay one step ahead of the criminals” and vowed “ordinary people” would not be targeted.

Writing in the Sun, Mrs May insisted Britain could not afford to lose existing law enforcement tools such as the monitoring of phone records.

But she claimed security services needed to be better equipped to keep track of criminals and terror networks through their online communications.

Mrs May said: “Looking at who a suspect talks to can lead police to other criminals. Whole paedophile rings, criminal conspiracies and terrorist plots can then be smashed.

“Data like this has already helped lock away murderer Ian Huntley. Such data has been used in every security service terrorism investigation and 95 per cent of serious organised crime investigations over the last 10 years.

Read more….

Oakland school shooting: seven dead after gunman opens fire

The khaki-clad man, described as a heavy-set Asian in his forties, remained on the loose for nearly two hours before allegedly walking into a Safeway supermarket and announcing to staff at the customer service desk: “I just shot some people.”

He was arrested by armed police soon afterwards in the parking lot of a mall in the town of Alameda, five miles from the scene of the killings.

The attack took place in a lecture room where a nursing class was being held at the $25,000 a-year (£16,000)-Oikos University, in East Oakland, California, at 10.33am local time.

The college is popular with students from the Roman Catholic Korean community, and the gunman was said to have been enrolled on a nursing course at one point but had stopped attending classes.

Read more….

Snooping Plans Under Fire

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

HEADS UPComing up on LBC Radio at 9.00am; Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones make their cases ahead of the London mayoral election next month – watch it live online here.


David Davis scored quite a hit on the Government with his Today Programme appearance yesterday it seems: the ‘securocrats’ proposals he objects to have made the splash of the Daily Mail and The Times (£) today while the Guardian and Independent have also found space on the front page. Theresa May also pops up in the Sun to defend the proposals, after security minister James Brokenshire failed to defuse the row yesterday.

The Mail has chosen to focus on the cost, which is about £200m a year – or £2 billion over ten years, as they put it; a pricey sum for measures they describe as “truly chilling” in their leader column.

The Times (£) meanwhile looks at the Tory backlash – Dominic Raab and Jacob Rees Mogg are opposed it seems. Meanwhile the Guardian considers the position of Lib Dem backbenchers, including Lib Dem president Tim Farron, who are in revolt, and are “in talks” with Nick Clegg to clarify the proposals. Clegg’s position is interesting – he says that he is “totally opposed” to email snooping, but these proposals don’t amount to that.

That’s quite different in emphasis to what Theresa May says; in the Sun, the Home Secretary says that the internet can “ be abused by criminals, paedophiles and terrorists who want to cover their tracks and keep their communication secret” and it is her “responsibility to keep the British public safe”. Opposite her, David Davis says that the Government can do all that already.


Most of the newspapers are with Davis, however. The Guardian says that for all the talk of freedom by the Coalition, “the Empire is striking back”, while the Mail reckons that “the Coalition is going even further and faster than Labour” in “sweeping away” civil liberties.

According to The Times (£) , the new proposals would “fundamentally shift public expectations of internet privacy” – taking us a tiny step towards Iran or China. The Independent meanwhile says that Theresa May “must think again”, as the price in liberty is too high.

In The Telegraph, Philip Johnston has denounced the proposals in his column. He says that what we know of the new proposals is that they would allow “instant data-mining on a vast scale” and we must resist the state’s “irresistible compulsion to keep tabs on us all.”

No 10 will sigh to find the Mail and the Guardian united against the idea, though they shouldn’t be surprised. David Cameron can either decide to tough it out by convincing himself that the public, in particular voters who are not part of the metropolitan chattering elite, often favour blunt tactics to catch bad guys – hence Theresa May’s piece about paedos in today’s Sun.

That was the line Tony Blair adopted when he tried to push 90 day detention through anyway. But the PM has to explain why he favours measures now that he campaigned against in opposition. Has he been seduced by what David Davis yesterday called the ‘securocrats’? At an estimated cost of £200m a year, it’s an expensive one. Will it make it as far as the Queen’s speech?


The other big story of the morning is from Michael Gove, on A-levels, which we’ve splashed on. As we report, the Education Secretary proposes to hand over the setting of exams to universities for the first time in 30 years in an attempt to make them more rigorous.

The idea is that universities will need tests that genuinely show the ability of students, and so putting them in charge will cut the incentive that exam boards have to inflate grades. In a letter to the Ofqual, the examinations regulator, Michael Gove says that he is “increasingly concerned” about the dumbing down of A-levels, and the Department for Education “must take a step back in order to allow universities to take a leading role”.

“It is more important that universities are satisfied that A-levels enable young people to start their undergraduate degrees having gained the right knowledge and skills, than that Ministers are able to influence content or methods of assessment,” he says. Quite right too – but are universities ready to start setting A level exams?


No 10’s big announcement today is an expansion of the right-to-buy scheme, which David Cameron is apparently dead keen on reviving; the PM is to unveil a “reinvigorated” version today, with discounts for homebuyers extended to £75,000, which should quadruple the number of council tenants able to buy their own homes.

As Chris Hope reports, Dave is visiting council tenants in London today, where he will say that Thatcher’s original scheme “gave something back to families who worked hard, paid their rent and played by the rules” and “gave people a sense of pride and ownership not just in their home, but in their street and neighbourhood, helping to build strong families and stable mixed communities.”

It’s all very Big Society, not least in that Grant Shapps, the housing minister behind the idea, wants to bring in a new mobile app and Facebook page to encourage people to take up the right to buy. But given the social housing shortage in this country, will the proceeds be used to build more homes?


Nick Clegg will not be joining David Cameron on his trip to a council estate this afternoon – the Lib Dem leader is in Stockport to visit an apprenticeship scheme and to launch the Lib Dem’s local election campaign, as yesterday’s launch by Ed Miliband has started a briefing war over how many seats each party can expect to win.

Sky’s Sophy Ridge reports on what Clegg will say here: “The Liberal Democrats are delivering for ordinary people in government” is just about the gist of it. But the real question is whether his party will suffer as big a loss in seats at it did this time last year.

Certainly, Labour hopes to win big, but they won’t admit it. As Tim Ross reports, the party is briefing that they only expect to win around 300 seats of the 5,000 contested, while they don’t expect Ken Livingstone to win. As the FT (£) reports, the party is divided between targeting the “squeezed middle” and the “battered base” after the shock of Friday’s loss to George Galloway.

But as Nick Watt reports in the Guardian , the Tories are saying that Labour should win as many as 700 seats based on their polling – and will presumably crow at anything less. Last year, the Tories held onto far more seats than expected; can they repeat the feat this year?

Indeed, the Guardian has published a double-page spread on the local elections on pages 30 and 31, with map, and analysis from the LSE’s Tony Travers , who says that 2012 will be a “bumper year” for lovers of elections.


And the debate over granny taxes is reheated this morning. According to the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), Osborne hasn’t just hurt grannies – he’s also broken a promise while doing it. The 2011 Budget “Red Book” promises that the age-related personal allowances would be increased in line with the retail price index. Instead, they’re being abolished completely.

Dot Gibson, the general secretary of the NPC, told us he’s “guilty of double-dealing”, while Ros Altmann of Saga says that it is “astonishing” to see the Chancellor break a “categorical promise”, which seems just a little hyperbolic. But even so, it’s clear that the Treasury isn’t going to get away with this one that easily…


One pensioner who is particularly displeased with the Chancellor is Lord Tebbit. The Mail today has rehashed Tebbit’s article from yesterday’s Times, about this being a “government of chums”, in which he argues that the PM and the Chancellor rely too much on people who lack “experience or much understanding of the party or politics”

But Tebbit also has a serious allegation – as we report on p2, Tebbit alleges that Lord Feldman, the Conservative Party co-chairman, has held meetings with Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, something that No 10 says is “100 per cent untrue”.

Tory sources say that they think that Tebbit is confusing the Conservative Party strategy meetings which George Osborne holds in the afternoons with meetings of the quad, but he tells us this morning that he’s sticking with his story. It’d be quite something if he’s right.

Speaking of the quad, Steve Richards’ column in the Independent is on the topic – he reckons there needs to be more scrutiny. What recent events confirm is that there is not enough internal scrutiny at the top of the Coalition”


And the MoJ. A great little story in The Times (£): Ken Clarke has spent £14,000 on flowers for the Ministry of Justice, arguing that this is “very minimal” spending, even though it’s more than any other department has spent.

The Department of Health has also spent £12,383 on flowers while the Culture Department spent £3,527. How’s that austerity going then, chaps?


Latest YouGov/The Sun: Conservatives 33%, Labour 43%, Liberal Democrats 8%. Net Government approval: -43%.


Labour’s Stella Creasy, amusing as ever: “am watching made in chelsea for 1st time. Does everyone have to pause & stare into the distance after EVERY sentence in south west london?”.

Ask Greg Hands – the Chelsea and Fulham MP once live tweeted an entire episode, and I’m sure he knows his constituents well.


In The Telegraph

Mary Riddell: Voters want a story, Ed Miliband, not a hologram of your hopes

Philip Johnston: We don’t need any more state snooping

Dean Nelson: The West should fan Burma’s flames of freedom

Leader: An excellent exam answer from Michael Gove

Best of the rest

Gideon Rachman in the FT (£): Greece is a time bomb that no one can defuse

Len McCluskey in The Times (£): Tanker drivers are acting to prevent a road disaster

James Ball in the Guardian: The surveillance state: growing under a coalition that pledged to reverse it

Steve Richards in the Independent: There’s too little scrutiny of the four top men


9.00am: London Mayoral Candidates Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones appear on Nick Ferrari’s LBC Radio show

11.00am: Schools minister Nick Gibb speaks at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference

2.45pm: Nick Clegg launches the Lib Dems’ local election campaign in Stockport, Cheshire

3.30pm: Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg speaks at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference