Tuesday, September 03, 2013

From not bad to quite good, how trait of being polite stops Britons from saying what they really mean

Ever been told by a new neighbour ‘You must come for dinner’ then spent weeks waiting for a follow-up invitation that never arrives?

Or been thrilled when the boss said he’d bear your ‘very interesting’ idea in mind and been surprised when it was never mentioned again.

Then you’ve been victim of the uniquely British trait of being too prim and polite to say what we really mean. And if it can be baffling for us, imagine what it must be like for foreigners who take our every word at face value.

Now there’s help in the form of a translation table which has become a huge hit on the internet.

It reveals that when a British person begins a sentence ‘With the greatest respect...’, they’re really saying ‘I think you are an idiot.’

‘I hear what you say’ means ‘I disagree and do not want to discuss it further’ while ‘That is a very brave proposal’ translates as ‘You are insane’.

The table, which has been posted on numerous internet blogs, has received thousands of comments acknowledging that it’s spot on – from foreigners and Britons alike.

New York-based Joanne Goddard who writes a blog called A Cup of Jo, says her English father often left her baffled.

‘When we were in high school, my sister asked him if she could drive to Detroit with her boyfriend to see a band. He said, “I’d rather you not.” She went anyway. When he got mad later, she was confused: “But you never said I couldn’t go”.’

The author of the table is a mystery, although some say it was drawn up a few years ago by a Dutch firm as a light-hearted help for executives working in the UK. It has since been added to.

One of the first people to post it was Duncan Green, a strategic adviser for Oxfam, who described it as ‘a handy guide for our fellow Europeans and others trying to fathom weaselly Brit-speak’.

Mr Green said: ‘Sadly, I didn’t write it. It’s just one of those great things that is being passed around on the internet.’

Internet posters have been busy coming up with their own translations. Pam Burton wrote that ‘Leave it with me’ means ‘Hell will freeze over before you see a solution to this problem’.

Another said ‘When you get a minute’ means ‘Do this immediately’ while a third says ‘Let’s keep in touch’ tends to mean ‘I never want to see or hear from you again’.

And Peter Atkin wrote: ‘I came across this article while trying to find a way of explaining to a French company why their letter of recommendation, which seemed excellent on the face of it, would basically have damned me to the deepest pit of hell to any English company.’


Number of foreign criminals using 'human rights' law to stay in Britain almost doubles

The number of foreign criminals who have avoided deportation because it would 'breach their human rights' has almost doubled in a year, it has today been revealed.

Almost 300 offenders used Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to argue their right to stay in the country last year.

The increase comes despite calls for judges to be tougher on those using the loophole to avoid deportation.

Statistics from the Home Office show that 299 'foreign national offenders won appeals' last year - up from 177 the year before, the Sun reports.

Article 8 protects the right to private and family life.

Last week MailOnline revealed Sanel Sahbaz, a foreign criminal jailed for a series of violent attacks, had successfully argued against deportation because it would violate his human rights.

Sahbaz, a Bosnian who now lives in Hertford, came to Britain as a child in 1993. Since 2005 he has committed a string of offences including common assault, handling stolen goods, theft, public order offences and assaulting police.

In one incident he attacked his landlord, pushing him to the floor, repeatedly kicking him and stamping on his head until the man fell unconscious.

Sahbaz, 30, qualified for automatic deportation after he was jailed for four years, and the Home Office told him he would be sent home.

But he has now been told he can stay indefinitely after he brought a legal challenge under Article 8.

His lawyers argued that if he was sent back to Bosnia it would separate him from his parents, brother and cousin, who are also in Britain, which would breach his rights.

In February Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to pass a new law demanding that Article 8 of the Act should no longer be a bar to deportation.

At the time sahe said: 'Once this primary legislation has been enacted, it is surely inconceivable that judges in this country will maintain that it is they, rather than Parliament, who are entitled to decide how to balance the foreigner’s right to family life against our nation’s right to protect itself.'

A Home Office spokesman said that it had deported 4,600 foreign criminals in 2011-2012.

They added: 'Those who come to the UK must abide by our laws. 'We will take all necessary steps to deport foreign criminals and have introduced tough new rules to protect the public from those who try to stay here through abuse of the Human Rights Act.  'In 2012 we removed 4,500 foreign national offenders.

'Our new Immigration Bill will contain provisions to ensure courts properly reflect Parliament's view that serious criminals should be deported unless there are very exceptional circumstances.'


Even Scandinavian Welfare States Realize Too Much Dependency and Too Many Handouts Are Destructive

We’re making a tiny bit of progress in the battle against the welfare state. No, policy hasn’t changed yet, but at least there’s growing recognition that maybe, just maybe, it’s not a good idea to pay people not to work. Particularly when you trap them in lives of dependency and despair and undermine progress in the fight against poverty.

This chart shows that various handouts discourage low-income people from earning more money, and a recent blockbuster study from a couple of my colleagues at the Cato Institute revealed that welfare pays more than entry-level employment in dozens of states.

And a growing number of people are now aware that there’s been an explosion of food stamp dependency, so one hopes that all this knowledge eventually will translate into a new round of welfare reform.

Why am I optimistic? Well, because awareness already is leading to change in some very unexpected places. Even Scandinavian nations are realizing that there has to be a limit to incentive-killing and taxpayer-sapping redistribution.

Here are some excerpts from a remarkable Bloomberg report about developments in Denmark.

“We live in a world of global competition for jobs,” the 40-year-old minister said in an interview in Copenhagen. “For any finance minister wanting to be taken seriously, it’s something to deal with. That requires a modernization of the welfare state.” The AAA rated nation, whose economy contracted 0.2 percent in the first half, needs to contain welfare spending or risk losing the respect of investors, Corydon said. Danes, who like Swedes and Norwegians, are used to generous jobless pay as well as state-financed education and health care, need to learn that those privileges come at a cost, he said. …Denmark’s challenge now is to ensure its welfare habits don’t leave it unable to compete with populations that work harder at a lower cost, he said."

That’s a noteworthy passage, both because the Danish Finance Minister recognizes jurisdictional competition as a check on the welfare state (something confirmed by a study from German economists) and because Denmark is ruled by Social Democrats.

Yet even these leftists are grasping that it makes no sense to have a system that generates perverse incentives.

"…out-of-work Danes in some cases earn even more than those in low-skilled jobs. An Aug. 27 report by the Economy Ministry showed that about 250,000 Danes have no economic incentive to give up their unemployment benefits and take a job. That compares with 2.64 million people in full- and part-time jobs, according to Statistics Danmark. …The Social Democrat-led coalition of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, in office since 2011, has pushed through cuts including limiting unemployment benefits to two years from four years."

It’s hardly radical libertarianism to reduce unemployment benefits from four years to two years, but it is rather significant when even politicians realize that it’s not good – as illustrated by these powerful cartoons – to lure people into the wagon when nations need more people pulling the wagon.

The article even mentions “Lazy Robert,” a famous deadbeat who became the first Danish member of the Moocher Hall of Fame last April. No wonder Danes may be saying that enough is enough.

There’s even a bit of good news on the tax side of the fiscal ledger.  "The government has responded to the economic slump by cutting the corporate tax rate, as well as some other taxes."

Sounds like Danish policy makers could give some lessons to their self-destructive American counterparts.

But you won’t be surprised to learn that  there’s still plenty of bad policy in Denmark. The politicians can’t resist, for instance, the siren song of Keynesian economics.

It plans to spend 44 billion kroner ($7.8 billion) next year on building railroads, highways and hospitals. …Corydon,…said he wants to keep public investments close to a 30-year high to create jobs.

By the way, it’s a bit depressing that Denmark actually ranks higher than the United States in the most recent Economic Freedom of the World rankings.

Yes, their welfare state is too big, their tax system is a nightmare, and they are saddled with one of the world’s most expensive bureaucracies, but Denmark has ultra-free market policies in other areas.

But even those laissez-faire policies no longer are apparently enough to compensate for bad fiscal policy.


Market Forces Lead to Better Treatment for Farm Animals On the farm, making room for humanely-raised pigs

DEKALB, Illinois -- The placid cornfields of the upper Midwest have the look of a place where nothing important ever changes. But here, at a large pig farm five miles south of town, the beginnings of a small revolution are unmistakable.

My host today is Bob Johnson, a sturdy 6-footer who gives the impression he would not be rushed if he were running with the bulls in Pamplona. As president of Johnson-Pate Pork Inc., which he co-owns with two sisters and a brother-in-law, he has taken a big role in changing the way hogs are handled.

In recent years, one major food corporation after another, from McDonald's to Safeway, has announced plans to stop buying pork from suppliers that confine pregnant sows in gestation stalls -- individual enclosures so tiny the pig can't turn around. Target has set a deadline of 2022, voicing an increasingly common sentiment: "We're committed to the humane treatment of animals, and believe they should be raised in clean, safe environments free from cruelty, abuse or neglect."

Johnson, who has lived on this farm since he was a teenager, saw a business opportunity in getting rid of the cramped crates, as well as eliminating the routine use of antibiotics. So in 2010, his company switched -- a big undertaking for a farm that sells 20,000 pigs per year.

Traditionalists say that gestation stalls are indispensable because when pigs are housed in groups, they fight -- with bigger and fiercer animals injuring smaller ones and getting more than their share of the feed.

But that's not what is on display in the gestation building, a structure about 60 feet wide and 250 feet long occupied by some 625 pregnant sows. They are walking around and lounging quietly in large group pens. Some cool off under sprinklers that go off intermittently, as a few take their turn to eat. When the weather is good, they can go into an outdoor enclosure.

Johnson says when the pigs are moved into the pens after being inseminated, there is "some fighting, as they establish their social order." Before long, each pig knows when it's her turn to eat and, equally important, when it's someone else's.

Each pig has a radio transmitter attached to her ear, which carries a ticket for one free daily meal at the electronic sow feeder -- a narrow chute that dispenses an enriched mixture of corn and soy meal. Once the pigs have eaten, they understand they won't get fed again till the next day. Well, most do: As we're watching, one sow decides it's worth trying to get seconds. No luck.

Peggy Pate, Johnson's sister, has two animal science degrees from the University of Illinois and takes a hands-on role with the pigs, checking to see that they're healthy and well fed. "I'm in the pens at least twice a day," she says.

A slim woman wearing a T-shirt commemorating the 1994 Cornfest 10K, she's dwarfed by the hogs, which weigh in around 450 pounds. But she says the animals are calmer than they were in gestation stalls. Back then, she says, "I always wore earplugs to block the noise."

It's helpful to Pate when the radio transmitter indicates a pig hasn't eaten, which is sometimes a sign of illness and sometimes a sign that an ear tag has fallen off. She uses a computer to adjust the feed for specific hogs that she sees losing weight or gaining too much.

Does raising pigs more humanely cost more? Johnson reports that expenses are a little higher with the new methods, but his customers, which include Whole Foods and Fork in the Road Foods, are willing to pay a premium for his pork.

The effect is small compared to changes in the cost of feed, which adds up to 70 percent of his expenses and has doubled over the past decade. The returns are enough to make it worthwhile. "We'd do it over again," he says.

Others may want to learn from his example. Nine states have passed measures to outlaw gestation stalls. In conservative, Republican Arizona, 61 percent of voters voted for the ban.

A lot of Americans are not entirely comfortable with how farm animals are treated to maximize output and minimize costs in food production, and they are hopeful there is a better way. As it happens, there is. At the Johnson-Pate farm, there is something new in the air, and it's not the smell of pigs.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.



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