Print Story May you live in interesting times
Politics
By DullTrev (Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:32:31 PM EST) credit crunch, bailout, astronomy, fun loving cowwqas. (all tags)
We are living through momentous times.  In the US, $700bn of taxpayer's money has been made available to buy bank assets no-one wants.  In the UK, £500bn is being made available to provide short term loans to banks, to guarantee loans between banks, and even to buy into banks.  The ideas of Thatcherism and Reaganomics that arose on either side of the Atlantic in the 1980s have reached their inevitable conclusion, with the era of individual greed collapsing into the era of shared debts.  The profits were privatised, and the debts are being nationalised.


And yet despite this spectacular collapse of the economic system that we have been stuck with for the past 30 years or so, we are being told that now is not the time for recriminations, now is not the time for an investigation.  The usual suspects, those who made the most, or those who represent them, are appearing on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, to tell us not to forget how wonderful the last few decades have been for them, that we mustn't over-react and risk their future profits.

We've just had our pockets picked, and the thief is trying to tell us not to call the police.

Don't forget the good years, we're told.  Don't forget how good you've had it.  They must think we're stupid.  If you're on a roller-coaster, having a great time as it soars and dips, you're going to be hurt when it suddenly runs out of track.  It doesn't make sense to pick yourself up, wait for your bones to heal, and then go and get on the ride again because it was fun at the beginning.  If you get pushed off a cliff, you may be fine all the way down, but it's the landing which is important.  You don't go back to the top to be shoved off again.

Besides, was it really that good?  In the UK, the percentage of people in poverty (getting under 60% of the median income) was 13.7% in 1979, when Thatcher came to power.  By the end of the Conservative government in 1996/97, it was up to 25.3%.  A quarter of our population was living in poverty.  By 2006/07, the Labour government had managed to bring that down from its high – to 22.2%.

Let's put that in context – the change from 1979 levels of poverty has put about 5.1 million more people into poverty.  That is the same as the population of Scotland.  We've increased the number of our fellow citizens in poverty by the size of a country.  This is the result of the 'good' years.

Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate.

Now is the time to do this, because this appalling behaviour will effect not only us, but our children.  The money being used for bailouts on both sides of the Atlantic is new debt for the governments.  New debt that will have to be paid off at some point, by us, by our children, by our grandchildren. 

Next time you are out at night, look up at the stars.  Look at the glittering magnitude of the sky.  See the sweep of the Milky Way, our galaxy.  In our galaxy, there are between 200 and 400 billion stars (it's hard to get an exact figure, as we're in the middle of it). 

If each star was worth one pound, you couldn't cover the UK bailout.

Now look for that little smudge that is the Andromeda Galaxy, the largest galaxy in our local group, and the closest spiral galaxy to our own.  If you look at it through a telescope, you get some idea of its size.  Unfortunately, it's tilted such that you can't really see its spiral nature clearly, but it is still an amazing sight.  In that galaxy, 220,000 light-years across, there are 1 trillion stars. 

If each were worth a dollar (less than in our own galaxy, because there's bound to be a transport costs...) you would need 10 Andromeda Galaxies to pay off the US national debt.

The figures involved here truly are astronomical.

Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate.

We are shoring up our banking system because banks provide a vital function in our economy.  They hold the money we have, they move it around between us, they make payments possible, they loan our money out, to businesses, to home-buyers.  This, if you like, is the banking system as a utility that we all need, like electricity, or water.  Then we have the other side, which is involved in the trading of complex financial instruments, passing debt around in parcels, and other games on the financial markets.  This part is, frankly, more akin to a casino.  And the casino is where the banks have been making their massive losses.

So there we are, with a utility, and a casino.  And we're having to make good their losses in the casino, because otherwise they'll shut the utility.  This isn't right.  We shouldn't be held to ransom over their failures.

Here's a little comparison for you: once upon a time, there was a utility company, providing electricity, natural gas, water and the like.  Then they decided what they really wanted to do was start trading these items as commodities and related derivatives.  And, amazingly enough, they started making massive losses, while paying their executives handsomely.  Eventually, the losses couldn't be hidden, and the company collapsed.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Enron.

Our banks have behaved just like Enron.  There are some differences, of course, not least that Enron had to hide losses to give executives massive payouts.  This is mainly because they were trading in something much more tangible than our banks have been, and it had to be delivered.  Our banks, however, all had the same collective delusion that what they were doing made sense, and kept trading ever higher – right up until it became clear that the things they were trading, the money they expected to get from mortgage payments, wasn't actually going to arrive.

It is now clear that Enron was a case of deliberate criminal acts by executives.  Our bank executives, however, are claiming that in their case it is all due to stupidity, not criminality.  And we're being told now is not the time for recriminations, now is not the time to investigate.

Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate.

But most importantly, now is the time to make sure this can't happen again.

Here in the UK, we may soon end up with substantial government investments in most, if not all, of our high street banks.  Now, these high street banks (usually) perform the functions of the utility side of banking.  Why, then, if we are putting such large amounts of money into these banks, can we not impose stringent new conditions on them, or even (whisper it) take them over completely?  We have been bombarded from all sides recently with how important this utility function is, how it cannot be allowed to stop without bringing the whole economy down.  OK.  Then make sure they can never again take our money to the casino.  Limit them only to the activities of the utility.  Prevent them, by law, or by ownership, from gambling not only with our deposits, but with the whole economy.

There will be those who say that this is crazy, that if we stop banks raising money in the casino we will prevent credit being available so easily.  And yes, it would stop credit being so easily available.  But one of the causes of this present chaos was the eagerness of banks to provide credit too easily, because they could parcel it up and pass it on, hoping they wouldn't be left holding it when the music stopped.  It is time for all of us to take a bit of pain, to gain a bit of responsibility.  Credit has to be harder to get hold of, because we, and the banks, have been too irresponsible with it.  The banks were the ones pushing this particular drug, but we were happy to take it.  The only difference is that the financial experts should have known better.

We managed to get along for years without these bizarre financial products that have led to disaster.  We can get by without them again.  We must get by without them again.  And we should look at the pushers, and find out how much they knew, if they knew the chaos they were brewing up for the future.

Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate.

In the past few decades, our actions seem to have guaranteed we will saddle our children, our grandchildren, and beyond, not only with massive debt, but with an unhealthy, heating, damaged world to live in.  Our greed has effected their balance sheets, and their world.

It's about time we grew up.  Because our kids are sure as hell going to have to grow up fast.

But the first step to growing up is admitting what we have done.  It's looking at how we have behaved, and how we were wrong.  It's facing up to the greed endemic throughout our system, self-destructive greed that is going to make us all poorer for years, if not generations, to come.  And part of showing we have grown up is making sure that those who have behaved badly, those who have behaved stupidly, or criminally, or negligently, are held to account for what they have done.  We need to take a good long look at our banks.

Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate.

< Rough Evening Update... | Playing at being a pseudostudent >
May you live in interesting times | 104 comments (104 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Your mate Gordon went along with this by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #1 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:44:35 PM EST
He set up the supine FSA plus he was using all the dodgy financial engineering city banker tricks in the form of PFIs to pay for hospitals etc. If there's going to be charges against the bankers then the politicians and regulators also need to be in the dock with them.

Damn by Phage (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:49:18 PM EST
I can't believe that I left the whole PPP debacle off my reply. -1 for me, too Aus-centric.

[ Parent ]
My mate? by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #13 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:01:31 AM EST

Have you been paying attention to my diaries... ;)

There is, however, a difference. Politicians already are held accountable, every time they come up for election. Of course, if it could be shown they deliberately with-held information from parliament, for example, or otherwise behaved improperly, there should be action taken.

With regards to PFI specifically, I and many others have said for years, quite loudly, that it is a bloody stupid way for governments to raise finance. The information was out in the public domain, and multiple elections have passed with it out there. Ultimately, the electorate didn't want something different. It sucks, but that's democracy - the politicians gave us what we wanted, not what we needed.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
Which is why the bankers will get off scot free by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #36 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:37:04 AM EST
The politicians are balls deep in the root causes of this.  If they start witch hunting the bankers, they know that eventually one of the bankers in the dock will point to a government figure or two and the whole mess gets dragged out.

So, there will be no recriminations.  There will be no investigations.  There might be a little token show of it, but it'll be a slap on the wrist and nothing more.

As far as I know, most banks that are going tits up did not break any law.  They had poor judgement, but I don't think any of them did anything illegal.  And I'd not be comfortable if the government passed new laws to confiscate a person's property and assets "because they've been a bit naughty".

There was systematic and catastrophic failure of the governmental regulators, as JtL says, caused by El Gordo.  There was systematic failure of the ratings agencies; too much of a political hot potato to bring them to account as that would have precipitated the crash even sooner.

I don't blame the bankers so much.  It's the fucknut politicians in every country that are at the root cause of this, and the worst thing is voting the current lot out means we're likely to get another bunch of incompetant identikit fucknuts in instead.

Vote Breaker in 2010!


[ Parent ]
Bankers by gpig (2.00 / 0) #37 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:47:23 AM EST
Actually, there is a law that applies here.

Directors of a plc have a legal duty to behave in the best interests of the business on behalf of their shareholders. None of them have.

All the big banks are plcs.
---
(,   ,') -- eep

[ Parent ]
This is another problem by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #40 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:58:05 AM EST
As part of the systematic failure of the banks, again caused by insufficient government oversight.

Proving negligence/malfeasance of the board here is going to be difficult; for the last 10 years banks have bought in on toxic debt instruments.  None of the shareholders protested this, nor did they move to reduce the director's compensation (broad brush here; doubtless there are one or two incidents).

So it can be argued that the shareholders action was a tacit approval of the board of directors' actions.

And why are the shareholders quiet?  Because they have delegated voting rights to their fund managers.  Which should not have been allowed by any government.


[ Parent ]
Oh and by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #49 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:20:52 AM EST
I may be wrong but I think this is civil law not criminal law, so as such the government has no responsibility to act.  So it's down to the shareholders, see parent post.


[ Parent ]
and one would think by gzt (4.00 / 2) #66 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:15:49 AM EST
one would think that in many cases, the directors would be thrown out onto the street if they said, "Wait, we can't take these, they aren't safe despite their AAA rating." The investors would say, "Shove it, all these other companies are taking them and raking in the dough, you're clearly incompetent and leading us to destruction. We have to take these to compete." Most people are only calling these things toxic in hindsight. Precious few called them that in advance and nobody listened to them.

[ Parent ]
Bang on the money. by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #71 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:52:18 AM EST
NT


[ Parent ]
Deep in annother comment by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #96 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:25:38 PM EST
I replied to a comment stating that there exists no effective (market) risk-assessment software. I claimed that if such a thing existed, it couldn't compete with risk-assessment software that ignored risks that lead to higher profits.

<pout>it was a good comment</pout>

Wumpus

My interface is back! Hurrah! Hurray!

[ Parent ]
Deepererrrrrrr in another commmmmmmment by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #97 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:24:34 PM EST
I have stated that risk management s/w is SHITE.

And the governments let them get away with it.






[ Parent ]
Do you honestly think the government by wumpus (4.00 / 3) #101 Fri Oct 10, 2008 at 12:50:22 PM EST
can tell good risk management from bad? These are orginizations that regularly engage in war after all.



[ Parent ]
They *thought* they were.. by Phage (4.00 / 2) #41 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:59:09 AM EST
And in fact, for the last 10 years they have delivered huge gains. It's only when the mis-rating of the CD's came to light did it suddenly come clear that what appeared to be diamonds, wasn't even coal. Huge sums have evaporated.

Where too ? My guess is into business expansions and high dividends. The expansions put money in the hands of other shareholders as part of the M&A process, as well as accountants, consultants, Techs etc. In short the whole city from Sandwich makers to CEO's has trousered some of these funds. We all took it in salary, house prices, pension funds, consumer goods and holidays.

[ Parent ]
We are all to blame by Phage (4.00 / 3) #2 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:48:13 PM EST
That greed wasn't limited to a few traders in the Wharf. Everyone wants to own their home, do the best for the kids. You could say that greed for money/resources is a Darwinian instinct to compete.

I agree that we totally need to revise the basis of society, I just don't know that is possible. Certainly not by a lynch mob.

Nit. Derivatives have been around for over 50 years. Especially in commodities, where they allowed primary producers to sell their crop/metal before they had grown/mined it. This allowed the capital to flow in order for them to buy ewes or JCB's. Aust. Greasy Wool Exchange

You cannot just ban markets per se. Who actually has the expertise to tell the difference bteween one AAA rated contract and another ? The Government ? Pffft.
Replacing the rating agencies ? Possibly, <shrug> I don't know enough.


Actually by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:51:15 PM EST
I never wanted to own my own home. Just with an absolutely rotten and unregulated rental market, it was the sensible thing to do.


[ Parent ]
In a broad brush by Phage (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:56:21 PM EST
Mostly, people did buy their houses and flats. Partly to share in the glorious capital gains.

[ Parent ]
Uh huh by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #10 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:59:36 PM EST
My point was, even those who did not want to play that game got sucked in.
Though I remain pleased we made and kept some of our own rules, like borrowing much much less than they were trying to have us do.


[ Parent ]
I agree. by Phage (4.00 / 2) #12 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:00:59 AM EST
Buy a house or....you LOSE ! Was the very strong message.

[ Parent ]
It wasn't just a message by codemonkey uk (2.00 / 0) #58 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:55:10 AM EST
When I bought my house in Harlow it was simply much cheaper than renting.  I got a bigger place in a better location for less money.  I broke even on the overheads of moving in less than a year, the fact that paying the mortgage was putting money away in "savings" vs giving it away to a landlord was a nice bonus as well, but not the incentive.  I was only 20 when I bought into the housing market and got my mortgage.

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.
[ Parent ]
Greed not limited by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #7 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:56:18 PM EST

Absolutely - and I even say that. We all got addicted to easy credit. But I think it is fair to say those in The City demonstrated considerably more of it than most.

And I'm not saying we should ban markets, or derivatives, or commodities. I am specifically talking about the utility side of banking, the retail banks. They should not be able to use the deposits in them to play the casino. There is nothing to stop other organisations or individuals from using investment banks to continue to play in financial markets. It is just about decoupling the utility from the casino, not about shutting the casino down.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't go as harsh as that by Phage (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:58:28 PM EST
You may be artificially limiting the ability of a retail bank to compete. A simple limit on how much they can gamble, and where the funds come from would do the trick.

i.e. the old rule of don't punt what you can't afford to lose.

[ Parent ]
Yes but all those subprimes by jump the ladder (4.00 / 2) #15 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:03:33 AM EST
Were rated as AAA, ie: very unlikely to default,  by reputable rating agencies  the same as US Treaury Bonds. So they were being prudent with the information they had. Trading in derivatives and the like the so-called casino culture is not the root cause of the current crisis.

[ Parent ]
Yes - Exactly my point by Phage (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:05:21 AM EST
AS we now know - those CD's should never have been rated that high. The root cause seems to be the mis-rating of the value of these assets.

[ Parent ]
They got that extra push by garlic (2.00 / 0) #92 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 09:13:07 AM EST
from the insurance companies bought against them. But now those insurance companies don't want to pay not that the CDO isn't the value they insured it at.


[ Parent ]
Limiting competition? by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:04:45 AM EST

It would be changing the playing field, certainly, but all retail banks in the UK would have to play by the same rules. They could still have competition between themselves.

And I guess it would be a case of don't punt what you can't afford to lose - but the loans would be to the 'real economy', home-buyers and small businesses and the like, rather than off into the aether.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
Loans, yes by Phage (4.00 / 2) #18 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:08:36 AM EST
But if the bank made good profits, and used some to pay a dividend, and some (per an AGM) to engage in more risky deals, where's the harm ?

People do have some appetitie for risk. Properly managed, with correct assesment, it could form a part of even the most Socialist of soceities.

[ Parent ]
The harm by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #19 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:13:39 AM EST

is that we know where, ultimately, such a path leads. If there are profits, pay it out through dividends. The shareholders' appetite for risk can be fed by taking what is now their money, and putting it in an investment bank. It's about regulating what areas a bank can and cannot get involved in, in much the same way as building societies are. It's about saying that because these organisations are so vital to the economy, so vital that the economy simply cannot function without them, so vital that if they fell we'd be back to bartering, that we have a duty to make sure there is no chance they will be brought down by gambling.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
OK by Phage (4.00 / 2) #22 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:24:40 AM EST
I can see we're stating the same thing in different degrees.
You're going for a full separation, I'm going for the ring fence and an out-of-profits rule. Both would work.

[ Parent ]
Yeah by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #23 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:29:45 AM EST

I just think that once you allow a bank to use profits to play the markets, they will start to look at that nice big wodge of deposits lying around, and start to push to be allowed to use (some or all of) that as well. Politicians being politicians, they will probably eventually cave.

Of course, the same could be true for a rule absolutely forbidding it for a bank, but I think it would at least take longer this way...

God, I have a low opinion of politicians these days.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
These days ? by Phage (4.00 / 2) #25 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:36:02 AM EST
And I would include senior management of most banks in that.

[ Parent ]
Gambling! The problem is that it's worse. by gzt (4.00 / 1) #84 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:41:04 AM EST
With gambling, gaming, etc, the math is easy. Using expected value is a great way of measuring risk. Nassim Taleb (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/taleb08/taleb08_index.html) points out the risks involved are NOT AT ALL like gambling, which is why they are so dangerous, especially if you treat the risks like gambling. Gambling, that's easy, you know how much you should eventually win or lose. Statistics are not misleading, they're a pretty good guide. With the types of markets we're dealing with, statistics are misleading.

[ Parent ]
Also by Phage (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM EST
Love the use of the galaxy image.
Saw another one in the paper yesterday talking about one large number as being the size of Ireland covered in every inch by £5 notes.

[ Parent ]
Thanks by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #20 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:14:48 AM EST

I knew my astronomy degree would come in useful one day.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
Brian May - Is that you ? nt by Phage (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:22:46 AM EST


[ Parent ]
And there's more... by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #31 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:08:54 AM EST
Farmers can also trade options against fuel, and the future price of their crop.  So they take the risk from something they can't control (fuel price) out of their farming operation by insulating themselves against rises.  And also insure themselves against a bad crop year.  I think one of the directors of one of the coach firms over here saved his company scads by buying cheap oil options...

The ratings firms are villainous here.  Because the governments are not regulating them hard enough so they have other interests beyond only providing credit ratings.


[ Parent ]
NO. I am not to blame. by greyrat (4.00 / 1) #95 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 11:53:46 AM EST
I saved and bought a house carefully, when I could put good money down and afford my fixed percentage rate payments. I can still afford my mortgage as long as I have a reasonable job. That mortgage and my car loan (a car being pretty much a necessity in the US) are my only two revolving debts. I saved for my children's educations also, in a combined plan with my parents. And if I had  been a bit wiser (I suppose you could say less greedy) I would have moved that money into safer, lossless instruments as soon as I started spending it -- despite the severe tax disadvantages of doing so. My parents trust money was not and still is not in my control, so I can't say what would have been done with it given more and better foresight.

So, no. I don't think I was to blame. I did as well as I could and now I have to reward the greedy fucks who made more money than me by being reckless. That is just plain stupid.

[ Parent ]
You poor bastard by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #98 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:25:22 PM EST
For your restraint and financial acumen....

YOU GET FUCKED!


[ Parent ]
Clearly I am unAmerican. by greyrat (4.00 / 2) #99 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:25:01 PM EST
And probably a terrorist to boot.

[ Parent ]
Now, now by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #100 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 10:44:23 PM EST
Settle down, pay your taxes and hush.  There is no man behind the curtain.

NO, don't LOOK!


[ Parent ]
Derivatives are not new. by dmg (2.00 / 0) #103 Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 09:16:01 AM EST
They can be traced back to at least ancient Greece


--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Something I'm never sure about by Merekat (4.00 / 3) #4 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:49:41 PM EST
Why, in politics, is stupidity considered a credible defence?


Because with politicians by DullTrev (4.00 / 3) #6 Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 11:52:14 PM EST

it's believable.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
But but but by Phage (4.00 / 2) #14 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:01:49 AM EST
They are all Oxford graduates ! Tell me it's not so.

[ Parent ]
snappy answer by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #26 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:40:24 AM EST
But even if it is true, why is it acceptable?


[ Parent ]
To be honest by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #28 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:01:08 AM EST

I don't think it is true. I can't, off the top of my head, think of an occassion when a UK politician has got away with claiming they were too dim to understand. It also seems to get pretty short shrift as an excuse when people are up in front of select committees. I don't know if this is different to Ireland.

I think there is, however, an excuse that is more generally accepted of the topic being too complex. If I had to guess, I imagine it comes from the culture of the civil service, in which the gentleman amateur was lionised. These gentlemen would call on the assistance of an expert for information, but not be bound by their advice - "the expert on tap, not on top". Because of this, the concept of a decision being made based on all the information provided, but not all the information an expert would really have, is one they are familiar with.

Maybe.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
Of course it isn't true by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #30 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:05:23 AM EST
Many of these people are clever well above average levels. But people have died in Ireland before they have been held accountable, tribunals take so much time.

The one that really annoys me is Bertie Ahern expected the electorate to believe he is smart enough to run the country, but not so smart he can tell the difference between corruption and incompetence with respect to his own behaviour. And the electorate bought it.


[ Parent ]
Two words: by MartiniPhilosopher (2.00 / 0) #60 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:05:14 AM EST
Plausible deniability.

The dumber they look the more likely they will not have anyone come for them when something fails.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
Deceptive by R Mutt (4.00 / 3) #24 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:29:55 AM EST
You're talking about relative poverty. Absolute poverty is a different story:
Total number of people in absolute poverty cut by 7.1 million to 3.1 million
Pensioners in absolute poverty down by 2.1 million to 700,000
Children in absolute poverty down by 2.4 million to 1.9 million
Why has absolute poverty declined while relative poverty has risen? Because of the credit boom/bubble. It's enriched everyone, but the rich more than the poor.

Now the bubble is burst, the rich will be hurt more than the poor: their million-pound houses and fat portfolios will be hurt much more than the worker who rents and lives on a salary or state pension.

This always tends to happen over a boom/bust cycle: it's just that this boom has been particularly long.

So, in order to create a fairer society, what has to happen is that the asset and credit bubble is allowed to deflate, not be artificially propped up by state intervention.

Deceptive? by DullTrev (4.00 / 2) #27 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 12:51:33 AM EST

I don't think so - I state quite clearly the poverty measure I am using.

To all intents and purposes, true absolute poverty, the inability to provide for the most basic material needs of food and shelter, simply doesn't exist in the UK. The term 'absolute poverty' as used by the UK government is households with an income below 60% of the median income in 1997, adjusted for inflation - essentially it is a relative measure, but relative to a fixed point in time.

Given true absolute poverty doesn't exist in the UK, then relative poverty becomes the only sensible measure of poverty. It is put better than I can by the New Policy Institute:

The reason that we believe that relative poverty is important is because we believe that no one should live with "resources that are so seriously below those commanded by the average individual or family that they are, in effect, excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities." In other words, we believe that, in a rich country such as the UK, there should be certain minimum standards below which no one should fall. And, as society becomes richer, so norms change and the levels of income and resources that are considered to be adequate rises. Unless the poorest can keep up with growth in average incomes, they will progressively become more excluded from the opportunities that the rest of society enjoys. If substantial numbers of people do fall below such minimum standards then, not only are they excluded from ordinary living patterns, but it demeans the rest of us and reduces overall social cohesion in our society. It is also needless.


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DFJ?
[ Parent ]
The events are basically this by R Mutt (4.00 / 3) #29 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:03:50 AM EST
1. Rich people were given a lot of money
2. It's now being taken away again.

Now you're arguing that 1 is a Bad Thing, because it increases relative poverty.

Which is fine. But if true, then 2 is a Good Thing because it decreases relative poverty.

You seem to be arguing that both are bad, which doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

[ Parent ]
The events are basically this by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #32 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:14:11 AM EST

  1. Rich people were given a lot of money
  2. It's now being taken away again.
  3. So we're giving them lots of money from taxes.

You seem to be only picking up on a small part of this diary, which is fine. Relative poverty increased greatly from 1979 to 2007. I believe this is a bad thing. But I don't think the answer is to have those with the most lose everything in an economic crash - they may hurt 'more' in terms of losing more money, but the change in their living circumstances is likely to be, on the whole, very small. Those at the bottom, however, need to lose only very slightly from an economic crash for it to cause them real hardship.

No, what I think is that the increase in relative poverty should never have been allowed to happen. Progressive taxation and, yes, that ugly phrase, redistribution of wealth should have taken place to ensure we were not leaving steadily more and more people behind.

This isn't some mathematical game where you look at how to move the line of relative poverty up and down by getting rid of the very rich or the very poor. It is about making sure people are able to live their lives, as full members of society, able to participate fully. You don't do that by letting an economic crisis hit.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
I've consistently opposed by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #38 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:50:40 AM EST
The bailout (3).

But I think you're downplaying on what's really happening. A normal boom-fueled surge in inequality is being made permanent by massive taxpayer bailouts.

So, I think you're focussed on the wrong thing. You seem to be arguing that we can somehow change the economy so that we have steady growth without boom and bust cycles. Well, we've been trying that for centuries, have managed to moderate them somewhat, but nobody's found a way to do it completely, and you seem to be pretty short on specific proposals.

Which are the "bizarre financial products" that we need to live without?

Everybody's pretty much agreed that CDOs and SIVs have to be changed or abolished, so that's just conventional wisdom.

Derivatives and short-selling have been around much longer, and overall are supposed to have the effect of dampening cycles, which is what you want.

The modern trend towards credit ratings rather than relationship banking is the big one. But the implications of that are not necessarily great for a socialist. Suppose we go back to the system where to get a mortgage you have to trot along to an interview with your local bank manager and he decides if he likes the cut of your jib? Guess what's going to happen if you're black, tattooed, pierced, or have the wrong accent...

What exactly counts as a "bizarre financial product" that we must get by without?

[ Parent ]
Focus by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #70 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:52:02 AM EST

I'm not sure where you're getting your ideas of what I am focusing on. I'm not claiming in this diary we can change the economy, but I am suggesting we change the way we share the benefits. I know that it is now conventional wisdom that various financial products need to be changed or abolished, all I'm doing is repeating and agreeing with that point. I haven't suggested we stop derivatives and short-selling, I've suggested we take the utility aspect of banking out of the companies that indulge in that.

This diary essentially calls for two things: separation of the utility aspect of banking from other aspects; and a thorough and transparent investigation of how we got to this position. That's it. It's not a treatise on economics, it's not a manifesto for how to re-order society. It's just two suggestions for how we move on from here, with a couple of tangential remarks on what excuses may be made to try and prevent them.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
That seems pretty vague by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #80 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:24:14 AM EST
This diary essentially calls for two things: separation of the utility aspect of banking from other aspects; and a thorough and transparent investigation of how we got to this position.
What do those statements actually mean though?

The first bit "separation of the utility aspect of banking from other aspects" doesn't seem to make any sense. The basic principle of banking is "I give you some money, you give me a larger amount back to compensate for my trouble and the risk". While you have banking, you have a mixture of utility, risk and profit. How do you separate those out?

As for an investigation. Well, when an airliner crashes by accident, the investigation generally finds several different failures. Modern airliners have a load of safety features and procedures: usually several different things have to combine to crash.

The same thing goes for the credit crisis. Several things went wrong at the same time.

  • Central banks kept interest rates too low trying to stave off recessions
  • China kept pumping investment money abroad to keep its currency low-valued
  • Banks put too much money in complex, opaque instruments
  • Easy money and personal greed created a property bubble
  • Rating agencies misrepresented high risks as low risks
An investigation isn't going to find a cackling guy in a top hat whose Fault It Was. It's going to find a complicated mix of factors. Some of those will be fixed. But that's not going to stop airliners crashing: the next one will just crash for a different combination of reasons.

[ Parent ]
Missing point 4 by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #39 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:51:45 AM EST
4) So that everyone else doesn't get screwed even further as capital movement stagnates

Redistribution of wealth is one of those smug phrases so beloved of the Righteous that makes no sense to me.  If there is a safety net so no-one goes hungry or unhoused, why do these people deserve to be given someone else's money?  Should beautiful people be deliberately marred so that they are reduced to average attractiveness?


[ Parent ]
Redistrubtion of wealth by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #44 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:09:19 AM EST
It is (should be) a little more complex than basic needs. Once no-one goes hungry and unhoused, you want to make sure that there are no unnecessary barriers for those at the bottom to move to the top, thus resulting in more people being better off and overall increasing tax revenue to the country. So, yes, that involves things like rich people's money going to fund education for all etc., making sure people have enough cash that they can meet their needs and then work to improve their lot (tools like books, internet access, yes, even TV).

Now, maybe you don't want them to have Sky funded by you so they can watch X-Factor all the time, but do you also want the govt. telling people what they are and are not allowed to think and do in that way? Or is that okay for poor people where it isn't for the rich?


[ Parent ]
Well... by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #46 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:15:49 AM EST
Or is that okay for poor people where it isn't for the rich?

If the poor are doing it on my pennies, then I should bloody well get a say what they are spending my money on.  If it's their money, then they can do what the hell they like with it.

If you're buying a stranger dinner, do you let them choose the restaurant you go to?


[ Parent ]
I might well by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #48 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:18:46 AM EST
If I outlined general parameters. So the analogy holds, as it is a finite amount that goes to the poor.


[ Parent ]
These parameters... by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #51 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:29:27 AM EST
Would likely include cost, would it not?  Seeing as it's not my money, let's go to The Ritz!

I'd still be as full as if you took me to Subway.


[ Parent ]
Redistribution of wealth by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #72 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:56:55 AM EST

It's already been mentioned elsewhere on the broader idea of redistribution, beyond the handing of money directly from person A to person B, so i won't go back over that.

All I will say is that I don't think the analogy of marring a beautiful person fits, because that simply takes away the good, or benefit, or whatever you want to call it. To me, redistribution of wealth, or, more simply, taxes, are the price we pay for living in a society that has enabled us to make the money in the first place. I happen to believe that by spreading money around more, by giving more opportunities, by making the playing field more level, we actually improve that society, increasing cohesion and reducing strife. So while something is taken away (your pay packet is marred, so to speak) I believe everyone, including the person who has paid the taxes, benefits from it, by being part of a better society.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
To continue stretching the analogy by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #77 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:09:20 AM EST
You can give some tubby munters all the plastic surgery and liposuction they can handle but they'll still stuff their faces into obesity every opportunity.


[ Parent ]
Tubby Munters by Phage (4.00 / 1) #79 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:12:48 AM EST
You called ?

[ Parent ]
That is an insidious quote by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #33 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:19:33 AM EST
excluded from ordinary living patterns, customs and activities.
So you have a right to a plasma TV and a Sky subscription?

It is also needless.
I fundamentally disagree with that.  If people are aspiring to something then they have an incentive to better themselves.


[ Parent ]
Which is why I'm always confused by Phage (4.00 / 2) #34 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:31:55 AM EST
I have quite left wing politics, but also spent 10 years in night school in order to get to the middle-management position I now enjoy.

I have sympathy for the genuinely needy, but much more could be done to encourage self-reliance. Bring back far more apprenticeships, tech colleges, regional investment, the grant system for vocational degrees and raise the jolly roger !

Oops - did I say that out loud ?

[ Parent ]
Apprenticeships, oh yes by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #42 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:59:48 AM EST
Want a government contract?  Then show me your apprenticeship numbers and training resources.  This is another thing that is winding me up about the Olympics.

And yeah, vocational degrees should be funded.


[ Parent ]
I'm up for by Phage (4.00 / 2) #43 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:01:57 AM EST
Minister of Education in the Rational Party.
Teachers want to be free !

[ Parent ]
caveat by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #50 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:24:32 AM EST
Make sure the tech/engineering vocational degrees are actually useful and challenging.


[ Parent ]
And medical, too by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #52 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:34:36 AM EST
Doubtless the media luvvies would be up in arms if the government started selectively offering funds to those studying something of immediate and practical value to society though.

We will always need more civil engineers.  Do we need more film critics?


[ Parent ]
Film critics by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #53 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:37:23 AM EST
Transferable skill for handling disaster PR when the civil engineers fuck up.


[ Parent ]
But but but! by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #54 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:41:52 AM EST
Engineers, like bankers, never make mistakes though!


[ Parent ]
Ordinary living patterns, customs and activities by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #35 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 01:36:20 AM EST
so you have a right to a plasma TV and a Sky subscription?

I have no idea. And neither does this measure of relative poverty. It is based on income, namely 60% or less of median. How that income is used is up to the individual.

But on a broader picture, I'd say that at least the option of a TV was required to take part in our society, if nothing else as a source of news. (For the record, I have neither a plasma TV or a Sky subscription. I have yet to feel I am living in poverty.)

Making sure people can participate in a basic level does not mean they don't have an incentive to better themselves. Assuming you are not in relative poverty, do you sit around thinking "Nah, I'm not going to bother going for a pay rise, or a better job. This will do me just fine, forever more."? I'd be very surprised if you or anyone did, at least anyone below retirement, anyone that actually is able to participate fully in society - which includes the job market.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
But giving them these things for free by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #45 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:12:58 AM EST
Then they get to like the taste of other peoples money and expect to be given the right to claim more.  Which does reduce the aspiration of many.

I suppose we are talking about two groups of people here - the working poor and the unemployed poor.

For my part, I'd like to see a better taxation regime.  Like, raise the barrier of taxation to 16K, or whatever is required to live on.  Raise it further if people have children under 18 living with them.  In short, if people aren't earning much money, then let them keep all of it.  If that means putting in 45% tax rate for over 70K income, then so be it.  I could accept that.[1]

The reading I have been doing of late has been shocking.  I am utterly dismayed at how Labour have created a bastard of a benefits trap whilst maintaining the line that they are looking out for the working man.

[1] Yes you did just read me saying I'd volunteer for higher taxation. 


[ Parent ]
Great giveaways by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #68 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:36:26 AM EST

Yes, giving people money or goods for nothing would indeed be a bad idea. But that's not what I would call a fair redistribution of wealth, and I don't think you'd find many people who did. Generally, I'd say revenue from taxes should be used to level the playing field for everyone, providing support for education, training, access to work, transport, decent housing at affordable levels, that kind of thing.

Now, naturally sometimes you do have to just give people money. But generally this is to support people who have hit some misfortune, through losing a job or being too ill to work. And in those cases, I roll out a hoary old socialist phrase: too each according to their need, from each according to their ability.

If you need money to help you through unemployment, fine. But what society demands from you, in that case, is that you actually go out and find work. That you don't turn down a reasonable offer of a job. If you are taking the support of society, that means you have an obligation to get back to contributing as quickly as you can.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
The key there is by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #74 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:02:55 AM EST
Fair redistribution of wealth.  Which for many socialists is to tax the rich and industrious savagely and upping dole payments to the feckless.  Which is where I find objection in the phrase "redistribution of wealth".  It smacks of envy and class war, neither of which are particularly useful.

Some better phrase needs to be coined that isn't so loaded with confiscatory overtones.  Using tax from the working to contribute to healthcare, education, infrastructure - that is not "redistributing" it is investing in the nation.  And yes, those unfortunate to lose their job or be genuinely invalided out of work should very much be supported.

If you are taking the support of society, that means you have an obligation to get back to contributing as quickly as you can.
This is where the socialist argument falls down - how do you enforce that?  And when mendacious governments such as our present lot twist the system to push people onto medical benefit payments to massage the unemployment figures, how do you stop them?

Our benefits culture has become too entrenched.  Round my way (and I quote the bloke on the bus I overheard this morning -  "a council house is my right") the generosity of our state is being taken for granted.  It is a privilege to be cushioned by our social safety net, not a right. 


[ Parent ]
Enforcing it by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #78 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:09:27 AM EST

Two ways: stop payments, prosecute them.

Broad terms explanation for prosecution: Let's look at property theft. We prosecute people for stealing goods, because (among other reasons...) it attacks a fundamental rule of our society - that you go out and work to earn money to buy things. You don't just go out and nab it. To me, if you are taking money from society without trying to get back to contributing, then you are also attacking a fundamental rule of our society - that we are all in this together, and have to contribute what we can. If you refuse to do that, then you have attacked society, and society can protect itself by prosecution.

You may have noticed, I'm secretly a bit of a bastard.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
After how long? by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #89 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 07:22:50 AM EST
Note we're talking about people who are long term dolies, not fraudsters, which is another argument.  And you're saying prosecute them?  I'm not sure that'd be cheaper, given the cost of a prison cell for a year.

Let's not also forget that Labour have made a very, very efficient poverty trap that is hard to escape from - the minute you start earning money your benefits are withdrawn and you are often worse off.  Which is why I want income tax to kick in at the highest possible level of earnings so that if you're not earning very much, the state takes nothing from you.

And what would your socialist friends say about cutting off the unemployed?  What would you expect them to do when the benefits stop?  What if they have children?  Would you remove their right to housing benefit as well?

This is one strange conversation where you're the hardliner and I'm the bleeding heart softie!

But what about governments massaging unemployment figures though?


[ Parent ]
You are making an assumption by Herring (2.00 / 0) #93 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 09:39:44 AM EST
about where these people (if they have big TVs and Sky - which I accept that many of them do) got the money from. Was it:
a) Benefits
b) Working/theiving on the sly
c) Dumb finance companies willing to give credit to anyone including the unemployed
As far as I can tell, it's not proven that living on benefits alone gives people the funds to afford Sky and a big TV.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
hurt more? by ucblockhead (4.00 / 3) #94 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 10:40:47 AM EST
Does it hurt more to trade the Bently in for a BMW or to trade in chicken for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

Economists are often blinded by mathematics and fail to understand that the value of money is not linear.  Someone making $100k per year has a lot easier time dealing with a 10% loss of income than someone making $30k per year.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Should be logrithmic. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #104 Mon Oct 13, 2008 at 05:40:17 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Good work DullTrev by Breaker (4.00 / 5) #47 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 02:16:22 AM EST
VS2FP.


This was well said, except for by Clipper Ship (2.00 / 2) #55 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 03:59:12 AM EST
this sophmoric bit: " Now is the time for recriminations.  Now is the time to investigate."

Why go and ruin a perfectly good article with melodrama?

---------------

Destroy All Planets

I agree actually by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #56 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:49:39 AM EST
It grates a bit

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
It's designed to by Phage (4.00 / 1) #57 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:53:31 AM EST
A metaphorical hammer

[ Parent ]
I can see the point of it by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #64 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:11:30 AM EST
It's a matter of taste I suppose. I prefer a little more restraint.

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Indeed by Phage (4.00 / 2) #67 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:16:53 AM EST
It's the speechifying method.
Or a great clunking fist...<ducks>

you tell 'em, you tell 'em again and then you tell 'em again and then you tell 'em what you've told'em.

[ Parent ]
I didn't mind it by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #61 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:07:43 AM EST
Sort of gave the impression how pissed off DullTrev is, a constant refrain throughout.


[ Parent ]
OTOH by ad hoc (4.00 / 2) #69 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:49:42 AM EST
It's a great device for a speech.

--
The three things that make a diamond also make a waffle.
[ Parent ]
Good point by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #75 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:03:49 AM EST
It'd definitely work better read aloud. DullTrev - I think we've found your calling!

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
It's a failing of mine by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #62 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:07:56 AM EST

I tend to write everything as a speech, when you often have to use such techniques.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
Get rid of that speech element and have an article by Clipper Ship (4.00 / 2) #73 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:00:47 AM EST
worth showing to others. I liked it except for that, personally.

---------------

Destroy All Planets

[ Parent ]
How do you write? by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #76 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:08:15 AM EST
Do you knock it all out in one sitting, or go back over and over? I've gradually moved from the former to the latter over the years.

I don't mean to be harsh by the way, just constructive. You write really well. I wouldn't have brought it up otherwise because there'd be no point.

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
How do I write? by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #81 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:27:22 AM EST

Rarely...

Generally, I knock it out in one go. I'll probably re-read it again, but that's about it. (For this diary, I moved one of the sections from the end to the middle, which is about the biggest change I've made to one of these rants recently.) I tend to work up a head of steam over a few days, turning the odd phrase or two over in my head, and then I just want to get it down and out of the way. Not ideal, but by the time I have it down on paper, I've had it playing around in my mind for so long I am loathe to revisit it again at great length.

And thanks.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
If you're blood's not already boiling... by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #59 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 04:56:40 AM EST
Read this and then this.


I knew it ! by Phage (4.00 / 1) #65 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:14:17 AM EST
The critical failure was S&P and Moody's making money from their own ratings - Madness !

[ Parent ]
Cracking stuff as always by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #63 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 05:09:53 AM EST
+1FP

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

Put the motherfuckers against the wall by theboz (4.00 / 2) #82 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:30:29 AM EST
I say we solve this problem the old fashioned way.

- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
Which ones ? by Phage (4.00 / 1) #83 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:31:43 AM EST
There's a few to chose from.

[ Parent ]
I won't say by theboz (4.00 / 1) #85 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:47:32 AM EST
I probably shouldn't have expressed my opinion publicly at all.  I'll go back to being a good, complacent little taxpayer now.  I don't need to end up like Lee or have my wife deported or anything.

- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
Heh by Phage (4.00 / 1) #87 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:49:54 AM EST
People ask me what they should do with their money. I tell them Whiskey and guns.
Possibly a bunker.

[ Parent ]
Or you could throw it a going away party by theboz (4.00 / 1) #91 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 09:06:08 AM EST
You know, it could be a cool idea to have an international going away party night for all of our money.  Think of it as a fun form of protest that doesn't make you look like a douche.

- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n
[ Parent ]
Which ones? by codemonkey uk (4.00 / 2) #86 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 06:49:49 AM EST
It was pretty clear to me which ones he meant.

The ones who have sexual relations with their mother.

--- Thad ---
Almost as Smart As you.

[ Parent ]
There's Welsh people in USia? by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #88 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 07:07:51 AM EST
Who'd have thought!


[ Parent ]
-1 why all the words by The Plonker Diaries (4.00 / 1) #90 Thu Oct 09, 2008 at 07:54:31 AM EST
when a simple DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED would do? ;)

Good write up!


"They must think we're stupid" by dmg (2.00 / 0) #102 Sat Oct 11, 2008 at 08:44:20 AM EST
Indeed they must!
--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
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