27 April 2011

Olive leaves and the British Heart Foundation

A pill made from the leaves of the olive tree could be a powerful weapon in the fight against heart disease, scientists say. According to research, the olive pill is as effective as some prescription medicines at reducing high blood pressure...

The British Heart Foundation urged those on blood pressure medication not to stop taking their drugs without first consulting their GP. (
Daily Mail, 15 April 2011)

Now, why ever should the British Heart Foundation think that advice from a doctor is likely to help a person come to the best decision about what will be good for him? At least, that is the implication of the urging uttered by the British Heart Foundation. What is their motivation for wishing you to think that a doctor is likely to know what is good for you, or likely not to advise you to do the opposite, if he does know? Presumably a lot of the people in the BHF are themselves socially authorised sadists (medical doctors).

The question of motivation and incentive in relation to medicine and medical charities is one of the issues on which critical analyses could be being published by Oxford Forum if it were provided with adequate funding to do so. Meanwhile, spurious papers on medicine and medical ethics, containing numerous unanalysed and tendentious assumptions and making policy suggestions which are likely to be damaging to the real interests of patients, will continue to flood out from socially recognised sources.

25 April 2011

Notes on property taxes

It appears that they have it in mind to tax property, which is bad for us as we still have no income from society for anything we do (or could do), and we still need to build up capital towards the institutional environment to which, once we get it, extra research departments can be added and the university press made increasingly productive.

The ‘mansion tax’ would only be the beginning of a tax on ever smaller properties, no doubt.

* * *

All you can say for the means-tested state pension is that it may just about cover the taxes we pay to the state. I.e. instead of paying all the taxes and making voluntary contributions to the state pension each year, we now make no contributions because everyone is fully paid up, and the reduced means-tested pensions received by me and Charles McCreery may just about cover, for the four of us, council tax, car tax, television licences, cost of garden refuse collections, cost of getting large rubbish taken away by the council, and cost of dumping unacceptable items of rubbish in the local rubbish dump (which is not very near). And perhaps there is a small net gain to us, so that we can say that, at long last, we are receiving a bit more each year from the state than we have to pay back to it.

If they had not introduced means-testing on the state pension some years after I had started to receive it, it might be adequate to cover capital gains tax (CGT) and ‘mansion tax’ on any houses we may own in the future. But probably not for long, as the taxes would keep increasing more than in line with (realistic) inflation, whereas the pension would not, even if not means-tested.

* * *

So those who are trying to remedy the bad position (non-position) in society imposed on them by their ruined ‘education’ have to be taxed (at any rate, they are taxed) to reduce their rate of progress towards an adequate life, and they have to transfer a part of the progress they have made to provide supposed ‘advantages’ to those who are not yet disadvantaged, many of whom will never be able to make any use of the sort of opportunities which we need and from which we have been excluded by the hostility to ability of modern society, as was expressed in our ‘educations’.

‘Education’ means, unfortunately, a very vulnerable period of one’s life when one needs to be acquiring qualifications which will establish one’s claim on the sort of position in society which one needs to have, but in which one has no control over the arrangements which are being imposed on one.

* * *

David Willetts said of the Baby Boomers that they had had such a good life that they should wish their pensions to be reduced so that coming generations could be provided with ‘educations’ as lavish as their own. I was a pre-Baby Boomer so this did not obviously apply to me, but I feel sure that plenty of them, including some with the highest IQs, and some whom I have known, were thrown out at the end of their ‘educations’ with no access to any career to which they could feel suited, and with only the sense that their relationship to their own internal sense of direction had been broken.

So, like me, it is likely that they would be more interested in using their pensions to work towards improving their own lives, rather than in sacrificing their pensions so as to make it possible for yet more people to be subjected to the ‘educational’ process.

We invite such people, whether or not they are prepared to complain of the bad effects of their ‘education’ on their prospects in life, to come and live near us in Cuddesdon, which is commutable from both London and Oxford, and cooperate in our plans to remedy the situation of individuals in an anti-individualistic society.

* * *

Building up capital may be the only method a person has of being able to be productive in a way to which they are suited, as it was with me. Not having any way of getting a salary, and being unable to draw the so-called social security, I put getting a roof over my head first, and at least the increases in value of the house which I bought in the Banbury Road were not taxed. This house had enough space for laboratories and offices, at least on a minimal scale, if I had been able to get funding to do research with which to assert my claim on a normal high-flying academic career. The salary which I could not get would have been taxed, and I would have been getting my pension contributions paid, but as it was I had to pay voluntary contributions myself out of non-existent income.

Eventually the house was worth much more than at the outset, although still not enough to set up even a minimal institutional environment within which academic work could be done.

So now people such as Philip Collins seem to think my accumulated capital should be taxed, i.e. I should have to find money to pay as tax out of my still non-existent salary, while I continue to try to expand my institutional environment to a point at which I can start on my adult academic career, already fifty-five years delayed.

I shall never stop trying to get all the things I should have had as part of a forty-year academic career in a professorial position as the Head of a department. That is, the salary, status, contacts, laboratory facilities, personal secretaries and other staff, and the dining hall facilities, etc.

I still need these things in order to have a productive and satisfactory life, and I see plenty of things in which to do progressive research for forty years.

11 April 2011

The mansion tax

One of the principles of a fair and sensible tax system, says Philip Collins [in The Times], should be to avoid taxing effort and work, and to target "idle wealth", notably property, instead. Yet currently 44% of tax receipts comes from income tax, while a "meagre" 5% is from land and buildings. This is why the Lib Dems' proposed mansion tax is such a good idea. Council tax in its current form is crazily outdated: tax bands are still based on 1991 house prices, and all properties valued above £320,000 in that year now fall in the highest tax band. So in some areas, a £10m mansion will pay the same tax as a one-bed council flat. A graded levy, proportional to the value of the property, would redress that absurd imbalance. It would be easier to collect ("unlike income, property is visible and that makes the tax harder to evade"). It would flatten out the volatility of the housing market. It might even help narrow the gaping north-south divide: 60% of the entire property tax bill would be paid by just four London boroughs. A graded tax on property would make far more economic sense than our present system, and would be much "fairer than taxing hard work". (The Week, 9 April 2011)

There is little ‘work’ done within the present artificial economy. Little is done that an individual would be prepared to pay for with his own money; it is extremely difficult to get anyone to do anything useful for one in a useful way, i.e. so that one’s freedom to do other things is increased, and not decreased by supervising unreliable people and dealing with the problems they create.

‘Work’ which is paid for, directly or indirectly, by taxation (freedom of action which has been confiscated from individuals) is a different matter altogether and should be given another name, such as oppression. Teachers, doctors and social workers do not work, they impose on people what other people wish to impose upon them, and should be recognised as oppressors.

In Philip Collins’s preferred world, oppression, i.e. reducing the freedom of others, is to be recognised as virtuous, so that its perpetrators should retain untaxed any rewards in the way of freedom for themselves which they derive from it.

On the other hand, those who have accumulated freedom in the form of capital assets which might facilitate their being able to ‘work’ meaningfully (i.e. independently of the collective), should have their freedom constantly eroded in order to increase the resources available to reward agents of the collective, who devote their lives to the reduction of freedom.

The ‘fair’ economy should be devoted to the continuous reduction of freedom; this is its only raison d’ĂȘtre, and ‘effort’ which is applied to oppression is ‘virtuous’.

08 April 2011

The disappointing ‘genius factory’

In the Sunday Telegraph magazine, Seven, there is a review of a book called The Genius Factory by David Plotz.

Scouting around for a hero to save the human race, few of us would immediately target the world of optometry. But, in 1980, Robert Graham, a millionaire who’d made a fortune from shatterproof spectacle lenses, announced a new project doing just that. His Repository for Germinal Choice would produce a master race of inspirational leaders by matching up high-IQ women with the sperm of Nobel Prize winners and other “geniuses”. (Seven magazine, 3 April 2011, article ‘Whatever happened to the babies bred to be geniuses’ by Lucinda Everett.)

I would not have thought that Nobel Prize winners would provide a particularly suitable population from which to produce either inspirational leaders or exceptionally high IQs. They have above-average IQs to be sure, but also personalities that lead to socially recognised success in their lifetime, which requires an ability to work within the career frameworks and socially acceptable ways of thinking of their time.

“If you compare them [the people born as a result of these matches] with a random sample of Americans of the same age, they’re slightly better, but nothing astounding,” says David Plotz, author of The Genius Factory, a book about Graham’s experiment. (Ibid.)

‘Some haven’t made anything of themselves’, says David Plotz. That is scarcely surprising. Personally, I have encountered every opposition throughout my life so as to make it as difficult as possible for me to do anything that might appear out of the ordinary.

Nevertheless, I have given quite enough evidence of ability in at least some areas to justify support to do more, but I have not received it.

We invite Doron Blake (named in this article), and any other product of this scheme, or anyone who thinks they may have a higher IQ than they might appear to have, to consider coming to join us, the high-IQ ghetto of Great Britain, and join in our cooperative efforts to build up our independent university, with several departments supported by a business empire, until such time as it is able to get sufficiently substantial support to dispense with supporting business activities.

Perhaps Robert Graham would like to come himself, or at least contribute support from a distance.

06 April 2011

How not to improve prospects for the able

Ministers want to end the head-start given to rich children, whose parents land them great internships and jobs ‘by having a word down the tennis club with people that matter’, a coalition source said. ... [Mr Clegg said] ‘A country that is socially mobile bases opportunity on your ability and drive, not on who your father’s friends are.’ (Daily Mail 5 April 2011.)

This is certainly not a socially mobile country. Opportunity is not based on ‘ability and drive’ except inversely. In my experience, opportunity is rigorously denied to ability and drive.

One rationalisation that is made use of, in the process of blocking the really able, is blaming parents for pushing the person of ability in some way, as happened to me.

Although my parents were in no position to provide me with contacts, it was the ‘Old Boys’ Network’ that gave me any chances I have ever had in attempting to recover from my ruined ‘education’. The ‘family connections’ involved were not my own, but those of other people, and so they were not very stable or wholehearted, but I would have been even worse off without them.

The Old Boys’ Network might have been more useful to me if not so intimately intertwined with the Old Girls’ Network, which was extremely active in opposing me. In this sense feminism has been a bad thing, and has made it harder for people like me to rise from humble backgrounds - and probably even from wealthy backgrounds. There are now many more statusful and influential women who, in my experience, energetically oppose the rise of a woman with drive and ability.

I have clawed my way up painfully with all gratitude to capitalism (starting with no money) and to the Old Boys’ Network, although it largely turned against me - on account of my drive and ability, perhaps; I might have done better if I had had less of both, to judge from the academically statusful people who blocked my path. The school and university system provided me with nothing but opposition.

[Mr Clegg and Mr Duncan Smith] insisted the strategy is not ‘social engineering’ but about ‘creating a level playing field’. ‘We want a society in which success is based on what you know, not who you know or which family you were born into,’ they said. (Ibid.)

If you want a level playing field, eliminate state education and state-funded universities which stack the odds too heavily against drive and ability.

Your ability to rise should depend on what you know? But one is only supposed to ‘know’ things in which one has a socially recognised ‘qualification’, and it is easy to prevent a person from getting those. And even if what one knows is recognised, what actually matters (or what ought to matter from the point of view of making useful contributions) is whether one is able, or motivated, to do anything with it.

01 April 2011

More rewards for the unforethoughtful

A new non-means-tested pension scheme, to start about 2015, is supposed to provide support greater than the current basic state pension and the current means-tested supplement combined, but it will not be available to existing pensioners.

A new flat-rate pension is expected to be worth at least £155 a week, it emerged last night. Ministers will next week press ahead with proposals for the most radical reform of the state pension system since its inception. The new system ... will provide a guaranteed level of support greater than the amount people currently get through the basic state pension and means-tested pension credit. Women, who often do not receive a full state pension as a result of taking time out of work to look after children, will be the biggest winners as a result of the flat-rate payment. But it will only be available to people reaching the state pension age from now, rather than existing pensioners. (Daily Mail, 1 April 2011.)

All existing pensioners must have fulfilled the requirement of making qualifying contributions every year without fail for a large number of years. They have demonstrated conscientiousness and forethought, which are correlated with high IQ. So they are certainly not the sort of people who should be rewarded (according to the modern ideology). This would be against the rule of modern society, which is that resources are to be taken away from sections of the population with above average IQs and bestowed upon a population with a lower average IQ.

The population which is to benefit from a non-means-tested flat-rate pension will, apparently, include many who fail to make the presently-required number of payments, including women who take time off work to have children and do not make voluntary payments to fill the gap. This seems to be a less highly selected population than those who have demonstrated conscientiousness, and could include individuals with a wide range of IQs.

All current pensioners receiving the full basic pension were so conscientious that they never missed out on a qualifying year. They will continue to receive only the basic pension, thus staying well below the poverty line, unless they are eligible for the means-tested supplement, and are prepared to submit themselves to the process of applying for it.

‘The question of ethics with regard to pension policy is one of the issues on which Oxford Forum could be producing fundamental critical analyses if it were provided with adequate funding. We appeal for such funding to enable us to write and publish on this and similar issues, which are currently only discussed in the context of pro-collectivist arguments.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil