Monday, 31 January 2011

From the dungeons of the Medical Inquisition

Natural News report:

"In light of new evidence that has emerged clearing Dr Wakefield of the allegations that he fabricated study data involving MMR vaccines and symptoms of autism, Dr Wakefield is now publicly demanding a retraction from the British Medical Journal and author Brian Deer. Documents just made public reveal that another medical research team which included a senior pathologist independently documented evidence of a possible MMR vaccine - autism link 14 months before Dr Wakefield's paper first appears in The Lancet -- based on several of the same children appearing in Dr Wakefield's study."

Read the article

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Are you serious?

Bean-counter-cum-grumpy-old-man Richard Murphy is a curious cove. He has a blog, but he hasn't quite entered into the spirit of the medium with regard to interacting with his audience. Unless would-be interlocutors are prepared to do the necessary obeisance, they will either never pass the moderation stage or be smothered in a wet blanket of sneering patronisation. Imagine a sadistic child removing the wings from a butterfly and you won't be far off. If you then come back to take further issue, you will likely be blocked. Ritchie must have the last word.

Such inadvertent humour has brought the guy a kind of cult anti-following, and a recent spike in interest occurred when Ritchie seemed to throw down the gauntlet of debate over his 'Economic Plan B' - which one commenter identified as being lifted wholesale from Mitterrand's disastrous first two years in power. However, and here we come to the inspiration for the hilarious image above, what he wrote was:

"Now would anyone (serious) like to debate it?"

The key to understanding the meaning of this sentence is the word in parentheses. It is Ritchie's moderation filter, designed to prevent any such debate taking place. Serious in this twisted context means either holding an opinion that differs from Ritchie by no more than the thickness of a silver Rizla, or, possibly, disagreeing but possessing an intellect of a sufficiently dull nature to be easily dispatched by Ritchie's rhetorical pugilism, such as it is. This being the case, no one's holding their breath for what would most likely be an interesting debate.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Fighting old battles

Following on from the clip of Janis Joplin performing on the Dick Cavett show, I came across an interview by the same gentleman with John Cleese from around the time of 'The Life of Brian', which caused a fair measure of outrage amongst certain people.

In the excerpt below at the 5:30 mark the conversation turns to the issue of people taking offence and censorship, and it's a reminder how the argument continues, but the competing sides have changed somewhat. Back then, and it is not that long ago historically, there was still a remnant of the old guard, decrying smut and blasphemy, who have now very largely died off, and their depleted ranks have been filled by many who at this earlier stage would have been resolutely on the other side of the struggle.



The argument, here expressed by John Cleese, has not, in contrast changed over the passing years. It is the libertarian position of live and let live, that says; 'by all means, be offended if you choose, but do not stop me exercising my freedom of expression'. The non-aggression axiom sets the sure boundary, not one's subjective measure of good taste.

However, there has always been and no doubt will there always be those for whom this limitation is not stringent enough. They may not reject openly the axiom I mention. More likely they will seek to evade it by a subtle re-working of its meaning. The concept of harm is where their syntactical alchemy will be applied. The example from the so-called Supreme Court (see below) shows this very well. An act of violence against someone by definition causes harm. If violence can be re-defined to include speech, then the justification for censorship is thereby made.

We must struggle against such verbal mission creep, and do so with blunted weapons, for we have the disadvantage of having to make our case in defence of unpopular causes.

UPDATE: Hat tip: UKK41 (who got it from Muffled Vociferation). This speech from Pat Condell is particularly relevant to the issue of free speech.


Showing off



Pearl Jam playing 'Alive' on the Jools Holland show.

A defining moment

"The essence of inflation is not a general rise in prices but an increase in the supply of money, which in turns sets in motion a general increase in the prices of goods and services."
Frank Shostak

Communication requires words to have agreed definitions. Certainly the meaning of words changes over time, but an evolutionary drift is one thing, a purposeful and deceitful manipulation is another. Rhetoric and political discourse being what they are, we must take careful note of any such movements in meaning - if we wish to express ourselves clearly, communicate with and learn from one another. If these latter are not important, if we are just playing rhetorical games, or using language to deceive, then I guess it doesn't matter, we can just sink back into ignorance and let those that aspire to rule us carry on.

One such word that has had its meaning scooped out and replaced by something else is: INFLATION. Now, there will be those that disagree, and may claim common usage validates the new meaning and may even dispute that the new meaning is new and that it ever meant what I uphold it to mean. Whatever the case may be, and you can pick the rhetorical bones out of my proudly partisan position, surely it is still necessary that different concepts have different nomenclature. The meaning of inflation is as stated above. If someone means 'price rises', why the hell can't they say 'price rises'? The problem that arises from this sloppy use of language, which takes an effect and calls it a cause, is that the underlying mechanisms are ignored and whatever calculations are being made are bound to miscarry. Not only that, strange cognitative dissonances arise, seen clearly in those who celebrated the meteoric rise in house prices, all the while taking a sober line on price fluctuations elsewhere in the economy.

To further stress the correct definition, here is Ludwig von Mises in 'Planning for Freedom':
"What people today call inflation is not inflation, i.e., the increase in the quantity of money and money substitutes, but the general rise in commodity prices and wage rates which is the inevitable consequence of inflation."
And this from the glossary found in volume 4 of Human Action:

"Inflation. In popular nonscientific usage, a large increase in the quantity of money in the broader sense (q.v.) which results in a drop in the purchasing power of the monetary unit, falsifies economic calculation and impairs the value of accounting as a means of appraising profits and losses. Inflation affects the various prices, wage rates and interest rates at different times and to different degrees. It thus disarranges consumption, investment, the course of production and the structure of business and industry while increasing the wealth and income of some and decreasing that of others. Inflation does not increase the available consumable wealth. It merely rearranges purchasing power by granting some to those who first receive some of the new quantities of money.

This popular definition, a large increase in the quantity of money, is satisfactory for history and politics but it lacks the precision of a scientific term since the distinction between a small increase and a large increase in quantity of money is indefinite and the differences in their effects are merely a matter of degree.

A more precise concept for use in theoretical analysis is any increase in the quantity of money in the broader sense which is not offset by a corresponding increase in the need for money in the broader sense, so that a fall in the objective exchange-value (purchasing power) of money must ensue.

Note: The currently popular fashion of defining inflation by one of its effects, higher prices, tends to conceal from the public the other effects of an increase in the quantity of money whenever the resulting rise in prices is offset by a corresponding drop in prices due to an increase in production. The use of this definition thus weakens the opposition to further increases in the quantity of money by political fiat or manipulation and permits a still greater distortion of the economic structure before the inevitable readjustment period, popularly known as a recession or depression."
Whether or not its a losing battle to fight over this definition (and many others worn smooth from over- and misuse), we are still constrained to make ourselves understood, but it is indeed tiresome to have to preface every speech with clarifications of meaning of words we wish to use, due to their dishonest and lazy deployment by the leading (and misleading) sophists of the hour.

A rose by any name



I guess it follows on from Nina below, and it's been a while since I last posted a number from Janis, and it's my blog and she's great.


Friday, 28 January 2011

Humpty Dumpty sat on a tribunal

Listed by Leg-Iron amongst a litany of similarly worrisome straws in the wind, comes this latest example of judicial activism from the so-called Supreme Court, set up in London, although, as I understand it, it's not quite as supreme as the title may lead you to believe, now that we're a province of the European Empire.

Lady Hale, leading a bench of five justices, said the definition of violence must change so that a range of abusive behaviour now counts in law.

The decision will affect domestic violence and family law which has given the courts powers to throw someone out of their home if their partner accuses them of violent behaviour. Until now violence has always had to mean physical assault...

Lady Hale said the meaning of the word ‘violence’ had moved on since Parliament passed the Housing Act. The word ‘is capable of bearing several meanings and applying to many different types of behaviour. These can change and develop over time’. The judge added that ‘it is not for Government and official bodies to interpret the meaning of the words which Parliament has used. That role lies with the courts.’

Violence has always meant physical assault in law, and it has always been understood that there is a very significant line drawn between violence and speech. Lady Hale is now rubbing out that line, and using the most spurious of reasoning to justify it, namely that the word's meaning has shifted.

Firstly, the word's meaning has not shifted. Language develops through metaphor, and over time the fact that metaphor is being employed is lost, the metaphorical use becomes concretised in the new, slightly different meaning. No such process has occurred with the word violent. If I say 'he was a violent man', it is understood that the man did more than shout and stamp his feet. If I describe 'Glengarry Glen Ross' as a violent movie, people will be misled. As the clip below indicates, it is a very intense movie, gruelling, filled with verbal conflict, but it is not (unless my memory is letting me down) violent. Nobody gets beaten, no heads explode, no ears cut off. (For contrast, see Al Pacino in Scarface, which certainly could be called violent).



Secondly, even if the word's meaning had shifted, the original meaning of the law is not obscured. She has made a leap from judges interpreting the law, which I would say is little more than applying the law to real situations, to redefining the meaning of the words used, based on what she thinks the law should say, or would say if she was writing it. Thus I agree with Jill Kirby:
Family law expert Jill Kirby yesterday drew a comparison between the ruling and the Humpty Dumpty character in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking-Glass, who said words meant whatever he wanted them to mean.

Cato the Even Younger

A quotation in the second volume of Rothbard's "Conceived in Liberty" sent me digging for the source, which comes from a rich vein indeed: Cato's Letters, by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. Yet again, I must express my gratitude to Liberty Fund for making these works available online and in print. Below are only two extracts from the essay (by Gordon). The whole thing can be found via the link.

NO. 62. SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 1722.

An Enquiry into the Nature and Extent of Liberty; with its Loveliness and Advantages, and the vile Effects of Slavery.

"Let people alone, and they will take care of themselves, and do it best; and if they do not, a sufficient punishment will follow their neglect, without the magistrate's interposition and penalties. It is plain, that such busy care and officious intrusion into the personal affairs, or private actions, thoughts, and imaginations of men, has in it more craft than kindness; and is only a device to mislead people, and pick their pockets, under the false pretence of the publick and their private good. To quarrel with any man for his opinions, humours, or the fashion of his clothes, is an offence taken without being given. What is it to a magistrate how I wash my hands, or cut my corns; what fashion or colours I wear, or what notions I entertain, or what gestures I use, or what words I pronounce, when they please me, and do him and my neighbour no hurt? As well may he determine the colour of my hair, and control my shape and features.

True and impartial liberty is therefore the right of every man to pursue the natural, reasonable, and religious dictates of his own mind; to think what he will, and act as he thinks, provided he acts not to the prejudice of another; to spend his own money himself, and lay out the produce of his labour his own way; and to labour for his own pleasure and profit, and not for others who are idle, and would live and riot by pillaging and oppressing him, and those that are like him."

There's dumb, there's dumber and then there's Gatwick Airport Security

It is easy to dismiss the story of a woman prevented from taking a three-inch plastic gun attached to a model soldier onto a plane as an indication of the rampant stupidity of airport security goons, but it's more distasteful than that. It certainly shows a complete lack of common sense, but also an authoritarian mentality and a worship of rules which is sadly very prevalent in this country.

Hat tip: Infowars

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Wills shills for labour's human rights legacy: effective, if your memory is defective

Lord Wills, a Labour peer, claims: "the Human Rights Act is profoundly important in protecting the rights of every British citizen and their liberties." It's possible he means it. As a Labour ex-minister, he's unlikely to know what the word 'liberties' signifies.

Playing the standard party card of the hour, he attacks the Tories and exhorts the Lib Dems to stick up for this putrid piece of cack-handed legislation. He threatens (ooh, feel the fear!) that if we dump the HRA, we might have to leave the EU. Really? Tell me more.
"The European Convention, largely drafted by British lawyers, came about because of the terrible history of 20th century Europe when states abused their power to murder, torture, and deprived individuals of the dignity and rights and liberties to which every human being should expect.

The Human Rights Act brought those principles home to Britain so they could be enforced in British courts."

I'm confused. If the Convention was largely drafted by British lawyers, where, pray tell, did they get such ideas from? Obviously not our law, because if so, there would surely be no need to bring 'those principles home'. He continues:

"... in all my years as the human rights minister, by the fact that never once did any lawyer, no matter what their party political allegiances, ever criticise the Human Rights Act from a legal perspective as flawed legislation."

Why would they? They only need to take one look at it and they start drooling at all the work it was bound to create. But let a layman try to read it, and it's virtually impenetrable.

We never needed the Human Rights Act, nor no doubt 99% of the rest of Labour's legislative avalanche, but Lord so-and-so can rest assured, I'm sure the Tories won't dare touch it.

BTW - I notice he takes no notice that England and Scotland have different legal systems. Such blythe ignorance.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Morning has broken



This has been rattling around my head for a couple of days.

Women and the offside rule...

... they can't read maps, either.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

PFI: Labour's gift to future generations

The Telegraph reports:

"Official figures show that, under Private Finance Initiative [PFI] schemes, British taxpayers are committed to pay £229 billion for new hospitals, schools and other projects with a capital value of just £56 billion. Several contracts are due to run for 60 years, documents released under freedom of information requests show, meaning taxpayers will be paying for the projects for generations to come. "

Thanks Labour. What was that Mises said about socialism and economic calculation?

Hat tip: The Angry Exile

Ghengis Khan: eco warrior

Ghengis Khan is the new poster boy for the eco-lunatics, it seems.
"Genghis Khan's Mongol invasion in the 13th and 14th centuries was so vast that it may have been the first instance in history of a single culture causing man-made climate change, according to new research out of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, reports Mongabay.com.

Unlike modern day climate change, however, the Mongol invasion cooled the planet, effectively scrubbing around 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
So how did Genghis Khan, one of history's cruelest conquerors, earn such a glowing environmental report card? The reality may be a bit difficult for today's environmentalists to stomach, but Khan did it the same way he built his empire — with a high body count."
Hat tip: Infowars

Good taste



Taking my lead from a smitten James at Nourishing Obscurity, who posted a clip of Janet Tavakoli with the irrepressible Max Keiser, laying out the massive fraud of the Wall Street banksters, spoiled only by a lip-synch problem. Nevertheless it's worth watching - people should know these things!

Anyway here's a longer interview with Janet, for my fellow blogger to swoon over.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Samson Anachronistes



Good title, huh? Here's an interesting lecture from Roderick T. Long of the Molinari Institute (inter alia); 'A 19th Century Libertarian Critique of Fascism', given at the Mises Institute in 2005.

The nature of tax discovered

I saw this James Gillray cartoon on the Online Library of Liberty website (an excellent resource with hundreds of books available for free download), together with some others which are just as great. The resolution here doesn't do it justice, so please go and take a look at a bigger version and the rest.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

All my trials

Anne Hutchinson against the theocrats

I'm reading Murray Rothbard's wonderful history of pre-revolutionary America, 'Conceived in Liberty'. Harsh times. It takes a while before you come to someone you'd want to hold up as a paragon of virtue, but Anne Hutchinson fits the bill, standing up to those puritan bastards in Massachusetts, and helping to found Rhode Island as a haven for liberty. I'm sure she would have related to this song by Anita Carter.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A case for equity, surely?

Do judges ever get it right? This is a sad case. There is no doubt that the mother and the ex-boyfriend committed a crime in violently detaining the daughter, but the rest of us gain nothing in paying for their incarceration. The mother was motivated by love. She wanted to stop her daughter doing something which could have killed her. The judge's comments are crass:

'It was said you, Julia Saker were at your wits' end because of her drug-taking but you could have sought professional help instead of imprisoning her in this way,' she added.

'It is said'. A very stupid thing to say. 'you could have sought professional help'. In general, true, but in the specific case, bullshit.

Unless I'm missing something, the sentences are far too harsh. I guess it's another example of how judge's favour smack heads and hate people who 'take the law into their own hands'.

Cold sweat



Fugitive from justice Tony Blair appearing at the Chilcot Committee, unrepentant though his words remain, sounds ever more shrill in his protestations of self-justification.

He may yet escape the legal consequences of his terrible crimes, but there's a price he must pay, and seeing him today, I reckon he knows it.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Welcome to the reservation



"The United States is one big reservation, and we are all in it. So says Russell Means, legendary actor, political activist and leader for the American Indian Movement."

Hat tip: Infowars

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The fair and balanced BBC

From today's Telegraph we learn that:

Anti-fluoride campaigners take to High Court

Campaigners have mounted a High Court bid to prevent fluoride being added to their water without their consent because they are concerned over its health consequences

They say they will have "no choice" but to drink fluoridated water if South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA) is allowed to add it.

The potential side-effects, they argue, range from bone cancer to thyroid problems and dental fluorosis, brown spots on the teeth.

SCSHA wants to add the chemical to supplies in Southampton and parts of south west Hampshire, arguing it is the best way to cut tooth decay, particularly in poorer children.

The story was also covered on BBC Radio 4's Today Show, known for its forthright, combative style, right? Not in this case. Rather than follow the usual procedure of inviting two guests on to represent both sides of a controversy, they just got one guest from the pro-sodium fluoride in the water side and asked him a few softball questions.

Yet again, I feel proud that I don't have a television and pay their stinking licence.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How quickly they forget

Ben Summerskill, crowing over the court decision against the Christian couple, goes too far. He points to Christians in the Middle East who are the targets of sectarian killings, to make the point that those in this country have it easy. Well, indeed. And the same argument rebounds on him. Does he think getting turned away from a hotel can be compared to what happens to gay people in the same countries?

The ruling is disturbing for a number of reasons, such as:

Firstly, the judge indicates that the concept of the law being discovered, a fundamental principle of common law, is alien to our current regime. Now the law is whatever the latest legislation says it is. This should make people like Summerskill pause for thought. Do they not recall the past, when this very same argument could have been used to throw them in jail? Would they humbly accept condemnation if the dial swung back? Or would they, then and only then, rediscover the concept of the law being subject to justice and not the whim of the current ruling class? Let Ben Summerskill follow his own argument to another country where homosexuality is still a crime. Are we to assume that Ben will lionise the law in that circumstance too?

Secondly, it shows, yet again, that the concept of private property has been virtually destroyed. The idea that it is their hotel, and they can let whoever they want stay, and turn away whoever they want, has gone.

UPDATE: Sean Gabb says it better than me, in this press release from the Libertarian Alliance

Something rotten in the heart of capitalism

Reuters reports:

Paul Tucker, the [Bank of England's] executive director for markets, said banks had to incur the losses when things went wrong and that changes to the banking sector had not gone far enough yet to allow for that.

"If we have a system where banks take the upside, but the taxpayer takes the downside, something has gone wrong with capitalism, with the very heart of capitalism, and we need to repair this," he told BBC television.

"We want the upside to go to the shareholders and to some extent the managers, but the downside must go with that too. This is going to require big changes internationally."

Who could disagree? But Tucker doesn't go far enough with his analysis, neither does he heed the words of Jesus to take the beam out of his own eye, before removing the speck in someone else's.

The central bank itself is the biggest and most dangerous interloper in the capitalist system. It is no quirk of ideology that it is a central plank of Marx and Engels' Communist Manifesto, thus:
"These measures will, of course, be different in different countries. Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable...

5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly."
Tucker may well mean well, but he needs to understand that government monopolies and central planning committees have nothing to do with capitalism.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Why I hate the criminal state

As I grow older, my loathing of the state grows ever greater, for the state is and always was nothing but the organised principle of violence predating upon society. Everything that is deemed a crime by the common law is embraced as a holy sacrament by the state scum.

Here's an example.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Women's lib

Stuxnet: anatomy of a false flag attack

Remember this?:
“The very fact that Stuxnet exists shows that we can no longer pretend that a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure is hypothetical and hyperbolic,” declared Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Joe Lieberman in November. “You’re talking about a very well-resourced and structured adversary.”
Right Joe, I reckon we need to shut down the internet, it's scary all that freedom. I might learn something I shouldn't know. I might get something from a non-approved source, that would confuse me and lead me into thoughtcrime. But who, I wonder, is this 'very well-resourced and structured adversary' behind Stuxnet?

Yes, that's right: The US and Israeli military. Everyone with a functioning brain knew that, so I guess it's safe for the New York Times to report it, but to use it as the justification for clamping down on our freedom - you've gotta marvel at their wicked genius.

Hat tip: Infowars (who reported it at the time)

Her Majesty's Opposition

It's good to see a little press attention to the infiltration of activist groups by police and intelligence services. It's clearly the case that such people are playing the role of agents provocateurs, and anyone getting involved with politics needs to be aware that if someone within your group or circle is calling for radical action, it could easily be a secret policeman.

The extent to which the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland were riddled with agents is something the state would rather keep veiled. There are accusations that the Omagh bombing was allowed to go ahead, to protect an agent. The state always acts for the 'greater good', and the 'greater good' is always that which serves to protect and augment the state's illegitimate power.

As a member of a minor party (the Libertarian Party) it is something I keep in mind.

Sound money advocates versus the lying scoundrels



I can't involve myself in the mainstream left versus right arguments about the economy. I read Ned Miliband's speech to the Eugenics Society, and can only groan at his howling misunderstanding of simple economic terms and his unshakable belief in all the fallacies of big government interventionism, which he calls "progressive". Politically speaking, I guess he has a point - "progressive" being about 100 years past its sell-by date.

Instead, I will retreat amongst my own kind.

Above: "Recorded at the Mises Institute Supporters Summit, 31 October 2008; Auburn, Alabama. Introduction by Mark Thornton. Thomas DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College, Maryland, and a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute."



"Presented by Ron Paul at "Our Enemy, Inflation," the Mises Circle in Houston, sponsored by Jeremy S. Davis. Recorded Saturday, 24 January 2009."

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Latest from Max



From MaxKeiser.com

Bankzilla versus The Smug Monster



For some reason the tradition has developed that MPs can be rude to those they invite to their select committees, but it only makes the MP look a twit. Diamond had just said he's against "too big to fail", so I don't see that he should be grateful for ham-fisted government intervention.

Friday, 14 January 2011

More from Herbert

Following the lengthy quote below, here is the concluding argument from Herbert Spencer's 'The Man versus the State'.

"The foregoing discussions have, I think, shown that the dictates of utility, and, consequently, the proper actions of governments, are not to be settled by inspection of facts on the surface, and acceptance of their prima facie meanings; but are to be settled by reference to, and deductions from, fundamental facts. The fundamental facts to which all rational judgements of utility must go back, are the facts that life consists in, and is maintained by, certain activities; and that among men in a society, these activities, necessarily becoming mutually limited, are to be carried on by each within the limits thence arising, and not carried on beyond those limits: the maintenance of the limits becoming, by consequence, the function of the agency which regulates society. If each, having freedom to use his powers up to the bounds fixed by the like freedom of others, obtains from his fellow-men as much for his services as they find them worth in comparison with the services of others—if contracts uniformly fulfilled bring to each the share thus determined, and he is left secure in person and possessions to satisfy his wants with the proceeds; then there is maintained the vital principle alike of individual life and of social life. Further, there is maintained the vital principle of social progress; inasmuch as, under such conditions, the individuals of most worth will prosper and multiply more than those of less worth. So that utility, not as empirically estimated but as rationally determined, enjoins this maintenance of individual rights; and, by implication, negatives any course which traverses them.

Here, then, we reach the ultimate interdict against meddling legislation. Reduced to its lowest terms, every proposal to interfere with citizens’ activities further than by enforcing their mutual limitations, is a proposal to improve life by breaking through the fundamental conditions to life. When some are prevented from buying beer that others may be prevented from getting drunk, those who make the law assume that more good than evil will result from interference with the normal relation between conduct and consequences, alike in the few ill-regulated and the many well-regulated. A government which takes fractions of the incomes of multitudinous people, for the purpose of sending to the colonies some who have not prospered here, or for building better industrial dwellings, or for making public libraries and public museums, etc., takes for granted that, not only proximately but ultimately, increased general happiness will result from transgressing the essential requirement to general happiness—the requirement that each shall enjoy all those means to happiness which his actions, carried on without aggression, have brought him. In other cases we do not thus let the immediate blind us to the remote. When asserting the sacredness of property against private transgressors, we do not ask whether the benefit to a hungry man who takes bread from a baker’s shop, is or is not greater than the injury inflicted on the baker: we consider, not the special effects, but the general effects which arise if property is insecure. But when the State exacts further amounts from citizens, or further restrains their liberties, we consider only the direct and proximate effects, and ignore the direct and distant effects. We do not see that by accumulated small infractions of them, the vital conditions to life, individual and social, come to be so imperfectly fulfilled that the life decays.

Yet the decay thus caused becomes manifest where the policy is pushed to an extreme. Any one who studies, in the writings of MM. Taine and de Tocqueville, the state of things which preceded the French Revolution, will see that that tremendous catastrophe came about from so excessive a regulation of men’s actions in all their details, and such an enormous drafting away of the products of their actions to maintain the regulating organization, that life was fast becoming impracticable. The empirical utilitarianism of that day, like the empirical utilitarianism of our day, differed from rational utilitarianism in this, that in each successive case it contemplated only the effects of particular interferences on the actions of particular classes of men, and ignored the effects produced by a multiplicity of such interferences on the lives of men at large. And if we ask what then made, and what now makes, this error possible, we find it to be the political superstition that governmental power is subject to no restraints.

When that “divinity” which “doth hedge a king,” and which has left a glamour around the body inheriting his power, has quite died away—when it begins to be seen clearly that, in a popularly governed nation, the government is simply a committee of management; it will also be seen that this committee of management has no intrinsic authority. The inevitable conclusion will be that its authority is given by those appointing it; and has just such bounds as they choose to impose. Along with this will go the further conclusion that the laws it passes are not in themselves sacred; but that whatever sacredness they have, it is entirely due to the ethical sanction—an ethical sanction which, as we find, is derivable from the laws of human life as carried on under social conditions. And there will come the corollary that when they have not this ethical sanction they have no sacredness, and may rightly be challenged.

The function of Liberalism in the past was that of putting a limit to the powers of kings. The function of true Liberalism in the future will be that of putting a limit to the powers of Parliaments."

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Lazy blogging

I'm still lacking motivation to write anything significant, but I will point my dear readers to this Lew Rockwell interview with Karen Kwiatkowski on 'The Menace of Neoconservatism':



The text reads:

"Neoconservatives speak of democracy and freedom. They deliver wars and bigger government. They itch to build permanent bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, to attack Iran, to stir up hatred of the Muslim Other, to topple a government they don’t like, and to use WMD. But they may finally be stymied by the economic collapse of the empire."

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Staggering onward



I thought I would try to raise the standard from the immediate post below, but this is as far as I got.

Monday, 10 January 2011

The limits of government ... and utilitarianism

Here's a quotation from Herbert Spencer's 'The Man versus the State', from 1884, discussing the limitations on government. I would have made it shorter but it all seemed relevant, nevertheless you can find it in its context via the link, and read what happened next, as Spencer takes Bentham to task for his circular logic.

"Were all Englishmen now asked if they would agree to cooperate for the teaching of religion, and would give the majority power to fix the creed and the forms of worship, there would come a very emphatic “No” from a large part of them. If, in pursuance of a proposal to revive sumptuary laws, the inquiry were made whether they would bind themselves to abide by the will of the majority in respect of the fashions and qualities of their clothes, nearly all of them would refuse. In like manner if (to take an actual question of the day) people were polled to ascertain whether, in respect of the beverages they drank, they would accept the decision of the greater number, certainly half, and probably more than half, would be unwilling. Similarly with respect to many other actions which most men now-a-days regard as of purely private concern. Whatever desire there might be to cooperate for carrying on, or regulating, such actions, would be far from a unanimous desire. Manifestly, then, had social cooperation to be commenced by ourselves, and had its purposes to be specified before consent to cooperate could be obtained, there would be large parts of human conduct in respect of which cooperation would be declined; and in respect of which, consequently, no authority by the majority over the minority could be rightly exercised.

Turn now to the converse question—For what ends would all men agree to cooperate? None will deny that for resisting invasion the agreement would be practically unanimous. Excepting only the Quakers, who, having done highly useful work in their time, are now dying out, all would unite for defensive war (not, however, for offensive war); and they would, by so doing, tacitly bind themselves to conform to the will of the majority in respect of measures directed to that end. There would be practical unanimity, also, in the agreement to cooperate for defence against internal enemies as against external enemies. Omitting criminals, all must wish to have person and property adequately protected. Each citizen desires to preserve his life, to preserve things which conduce to maintenance and enjoyment of his life, and to preserve intact his liberties both of using these things and getting further such. It is obvious to him that he cannot do all this if he acts alone. Against foreign invaders he is powerless unless he combines with his fellows; and the business of protecting himself against domestic invaders, if he did not similarly combine, would be alike onerous, dangerous, and inefficient. In one other cooperation all are interested—use of the territory they inhabit. Did the primitive communal ownership survive, there would survive the primitive communal control of the uses to be made of land by individuals or by groups of them; and decisions of the majority would rightly prevail repecting the terms on which portions of it might be employed for raising food, making means of communication, and for other purposes. Even at present, though the matter has been complicated by the growth of private landownership, yet, since the State is still supreme owner (every landlord being in law a tenant of the Crown) able to resume possession, or authorize compulsory purchase, at a fair price; the implication is that the will of the majority is valid respecting the modes in which, and conditions under which, parts of the surface or subsurface, may be utilized: involving certain agreements made on behalf of the public with private persons and companies.

Details are not needful here; nor is it needful to discuss that border region lying between these two classes of cases, and to say how much is included in the last and how much is excluded with the first. For present purposes, it is sufficient to recognize the undeniable truth that there are numerous kinds of actions in respect of which men would not, if they were asked, agree with anything like unanimity to be bound by the will of the majority; while there are some kinds of actions in respect of which they would almost unanimously agree to be thus bound. Here, then, we find a definite warrant for enforcing the will of the majority within certain limits, and a definite warrant for denying the authority of its will beyond those limits.

But evidently, when analysed, the question resolves itself into the further question—What are the relative claims of the aggregate and of its units? Are the rights of the community universally valid against the individual? or has the individual some rights which are valid against the community? The judgement given on this point underlies the entire fabric of political convictions formed, and more especially those convictions which concern the proper sphere of government. Here, then, I propose to revive a dormant controversy, with the expectation of reaching a different conclusion from that which is fashionable.

Says Professor Jevons, in his work, The State in Relation to Labour,—” The first step must be to rid our minds of the idea that there are any such things in social matters as abstract rights.” Of like character is the belief expressed by Mr. Matthew Arnold in his article on Copyright: “An author has no natural right to a property in his production. But then neither has he a natural right to anything whatever which he may produce or acquire.” So, too, I recently read in a weekly journal of high repute, that “to explain once more that there is no such thing as “natural right” would be a waste of philosophy.” And the view expressed in these extracts is commonly uttered by statesmen and lawyers in a way implying that only the unthinking masses hold any other.

One might have expected that utterances to this effect would have been rendered less dogmatic by the knowledge that a whole school of legists on the Continent, maintains a belief diametrically opposed to that maintained by the English school. The idea of Natur-recht is the root-idea of German jurisprudence. Now whatever may be the opinion held respecting German philosophy at large, it cannot be characterized as shallow. A doctrine current among a people distinguished above all others as laborious inquiries, and certainly not to be classed with superficial thinkers, should not be dismissed as though it were nothing more than a popular delusion. This, however, by the way. Along with the proposition denied in the above quotations, there goes a counter-proposition affirmed. Let us see what it is; and what results when we go behind it and seek its warrant.

On reverting to Bentham, we find this counter-proposition openly expressed. He tells us that government fulfils its office “by creating rights which it confers upon individuals: rights of personal security; rights of protection for honour; rights of property” ; etc. Were this doctrine asserted as following from the divine right of kings, there would be nothing in it manifestly incongruous, did it come to us from ancient Peru, where the Ynca “was the source from which everything flowed” ; or from Shoa (Abyssinia), where “of their persons and worldly substance he [the King] is absolute master” ; or from Dahome, where “all men are slaves to the king”; it would be consistent enough. But Bentham, far from being an absolutist like Hobbes, wrote in the interests of popular rule. In his Constitutional Code he fixes the sovereignty in the whole people; arguing that it is best “to give the sovereign power to the largest possible portion of those whose greatest happiness is the proper and chosen object,” because “this proportion is more apt than any other that can be proposed” for achievement of that object.

Mark, now, what happens when we put these two doctrines together. The sovereign people jointly appoint representatives, and so create a government; the government thus created, creates rights; and then, having created rights, it confers them on the separate members of the sovereign people by which it was itself created. Here is a marvellous piece of political legerdemain! Mr. Matthew Arnold, contending, in the article above quoted, that “property is the creation of law,” tells us to beware of the “metaphysical phantom of property in itself.” Surely, among metaphysical phantoms the most shadowy is this which supposes a thing to be obtained by creating an agent, which creates the thing, and then confers the thing on its own creator!"

Taken from the chapter 'The great political superstition'.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Collective guilt

An individual is now in custody for the Arizona shootings. The facts are not clear yet, but it's certain that he has certain opinions that are shared with other people. By the principle of 'collective guilt', we can associate these other people with the killer. Right?

To begin with, I hear he's an atheist. Do the atheists want to own up? Are you prepared to accept your culpability in this crime? I doubt it. Why would you? You would probably retort:
A) who says he's an atheist?
B) Even if he is, so what? That's nothing to do with me. Just because he came to a similar conclusion on a particular question, does not implicate me in his crime.
Quite so. However, in this case the killer is being associated with people with whom he has no more connection than in the example above. The case is being used to feed the rhetoric about 'domestic extremists', and attack the First and Second Amendments.

On both of these latter, there can be no compromise. Freedom of speech stays. Liberty to keep and bear arms stays. Not everyone will see it that way, and I doubt if I can convince them out of their position.

I blame The Beatles

When the Manson Family went on their murderous spree, they were influenced by The Beatles' track 'Helter Skelter' which had been used by the supposedly lovable moptops to pass on information of the coming race war to Charlie and co. and calling on them to get the whole thing started. Clearly The Beatles should have been in the dock alongside Family members.

There's no justice.

Meanwhile, over in America a Senator has been shot by a crazy leftist. It's obviously those Tea Party people who are to blame.

Child flu shot contains mercury

As reported in The Daily Express:

"UP to a million under-fives have been inoculated against the flu virus with a controversial vaccine containing poisonous mercury.

Pandemrix has been given to almost a quarter of all healthy babies and young children as well as thousands of older children with health problems.

Inquiries by the Sunday Express reveal it contains a preservative made with a form of mercury that was phased out of childhood vaccines in 2004 after fears about its safety.

The preservative, called thimerosal, has been linked with autism and developmental disorders in children and was withdrawn from childhood vaccines in the United States and parts of Europe 10 years ago."

Go to article

David Morgan talks silver trading with Max Keiser



Here's the first part of Max Keiser's show 'On The Edge' featuring David Morgan of Silver Investor. The rest can be seen on this post at Max Keiser's site. No doubt Max is gathering information in his plans to bring down JPMorgan with a silver bullet.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tasmania: number one in the world



I thought I'd seen a typo in Fraser's post on Opium and Afghanistan, over at An Individual Voice:
It seems that poppy and opium production is big business for some countries, especially Tasmania. Other countries include India, France, Turkey and Spain, why can you not add Afghanistan to that list ?

Did he really mean Tasmania? Indeed he did. The answer to the question is; of course it should be added to the list, but I doubt that the farmers of Tasmania would welcome it. It's ridiculous when you think about it: making a flower illegal.

The Titanic Debating Society

Tim Congdon is all wrong, and when it comes to 'quantitive easing' Liam Halligan, writing in the Telegraph, is right to bring him to book for supporting the policy. However, he also chooses to distance himself from anyone who seeks what he terms "a return to crude metallic-backed monetary regimes", finding common ground, concurring with Congdon that "the best arrangement is for the state to manage the quantity of money".
"But that management process, under QE, has spiralled completely out of control. The Bank of England's balance sheet has tripled, from around 6pc to 18pc of GDP, in only 18 months. That's unprecedented. The last time such expansion took place it was over 40 years – from Edwardian times to the end of the Second World War. "
He ends with this flourish:
Modern capitalism, at its core, relies on the public's trust of fiat money and the sanctity of contract. QE is seriously undermining both those cardinal concepts. We're not supposed to call QE "money printing" because money printing is the last refuge of declining economic empires and banana republics. It also amounts to state-sponsored theft. And against that, yes Professor Congdon, I declare an "implicit prejudice".
My question is to Halligan is; why should the public trust fiat money, when the management of its issuance has, in his words, "spiralled completely out of control"? The disagreement between him and Congdon is only one of degree rather than principle. Of the two Halligan would be less dangerous in charge of the levers on the money machine, but in monetary theory he still wanders aimlessly in the interventionist desert far from the narrow but sure path of sound, free market money.

Hat tip: Andy Duncan at the Cobden Centre

Fausty covers it for me: water fluoridation news

Fausty's blog flags up a CNN report:

"The federal government is recommending changing the amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in 50 years."

The report naturally spins away at the mythical benefits, and nary a mention of increases to bone cancer and other ailments linked to the extreme toxicity of the chemical additives used under the banner of 'fluoridation', and the impossibility of regulating the doses people receive when drinking and washing themselves in such water. Notwithstanding such seemingly positive news, the struggle against the insane policy of mass medication through the water supply must continue until victory.

Slow train comin'

Joni Mitchell on the Johnny Cash Show.



Gun liberty: Changing the odds

This is from a while back I think, but it's a debate that continues. John Stossel over the course of the show is very even-handed, although his position is, of course, pro-liberty, and there are a number of Bradyists being given a chance to spout.



Part 4 is above:

The whole of the show:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7;

Thanks to The Channel of Liberty on YouTube.

'Debased'? Shurely 'Epitomised'?

Labour crook David Chaytor has been sent down for getting caught on the fiddle. Peter Oborne covers this in an article entitled 'David Chaytor debased British democracy'. He goes on to say Chaytor symbolises the New Labour government, which is closer to the mark than the title.

I have the misfortune of living in a part of London that the Labour mafia have controlled for decades. Chaytor is only exceptional in that he got punished.

Baggy trousers



Happy Mondays - Loose Fit

The Met Office, the email, the moral hazard, le monstre de l'etat etc

In private business, if you're shit at what you do, you go bust. In the government business, if you're shit at what you do, they give you more money. This is what the (ill) Met (by moonlight) Office is saying with its risible demand for a better computer, and it is an example of the inverso-world of state finance. Another is the leaked email (H/T Calling England) showing quangocrats looking for ways to blow £1 million of our money, confiscated by the predatory state.

It may be the case that even within large bureaucracies of a private nature there is found the tendency to max out a particular departmental budget, for fear of seeing that budget reduced in the next tax year, but this tendency is very much stronger and almost ubiquitous within state organs.

This is unavoidable. The problem was diagnosed by Mises. In socialism there can be no economic calculation. Hence they need to find some substitute from the market data of profit and loss. They use targets, but these cannot counterract the gravity drag towards ever bigger budgets. This latter is the measure of success.

In the market the idea is to make profits, which can only be done by keeping costs down and providing goods and services that people want to buy. Economising is imperative in a world of scarce resources. As the individual must manage his home economy, if you'll forgive the tautology, so the businessman with his business.

The pressures within a state organ are wholly different. In order to continue gaining funding, hopefully in ever larger amounts, one must spend. One may try to spend wisely, but one must spend come what may. An efficiently run state organ will always spend their alloted loot down to the last penny, and be ready to use all additional cash which may become available often at short notice.

Amongst other adjuvants, is something of a moral hazard. If, saith the statocrat, we don't spend this cash, if we are efficient in the market sense, the money we save through thrift and hard work will most likely be handed over to others within the spralling Gormenghast of government, who through profligacy and mismanagement have overspent. It will not be saved in any real sense. Knowing this, the conscience of the diligent, albeit misallocated, public-sectorer, feels morally obliged to spend every penny, rather than allow it to be wasted - and every penny you don't spend is a penny wasted, in the context of state departmental bureaucracy.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Eco-Fascists call for prison cities

Holy shit! The headline is no exaggeration. Just watch this and start stock-piling ammo. This is even worse than 10:10's murder-fest.



Hat tip to Paul Joseph Watson at Prison Planet, who writes:

"The threat posed by the kind of scenario being promoted by Forum for the Future, the group responsible for the chilling video below, cannot be emphasized enough. The dictatorial hellhole of 2040, where cars will be banned, meat rationed, farming completely abolished and overtaken by the state, behavior catalogued on “calorie cards,” and careers ordained by the government, is the ultimate goal of the control freaks who have seized the reigns of the environmental movement."

Waiting for the great leap forward

"Now, however, socialism is the victor. The day of fulfillment has dawned. Millions stand around impetuously demanding the salvation that is supposed to await them; they demand riches, they demand happiness. And now shall the leaders come and console the multitude by saying that diligent labor, perhaps after decades or centuries, will become their reward and that inner happiness can never be attained with outward means? Yet how have they reproached liberalism because it recommended diligence and thrift to the poor! Yet how have they derided the doctrines that would not ascribe all earthly hardship to the deficiency of social arrangements!

Socialism has only one way out of this position. Regardless of the fact that it holds power, it must still keep trying to appear as an oppressed and persecuted sect, impeded by hostile powers from pushing through the essential parts of its program, and so shift onto others the responsibility for the nonappearance of the prophesied state of happiness."

Ludwig von Mises - Nation, State and Economy (written in 1919)

Mike Sergeant:- BBC numpty

"Rupert Murdoch is a libertarian - against too much state control, and in favour of individuals taking responsibility."
Mike Sergeant, BBC 'political correspondent'
Fuck me. There are a number of explanations for the above:

A) Mike Sergeant, notwithstanding his well-salaried position at one of the foremost media corporations in the world, is an ignorant cunt, who really doesn't know what the L word means.

or

B) Mike Sergeant, working for the foremost state propaganda outfit in the world, is using the L word in order to tarnish it by association with an unpopular rightwing oligarch. It is imperative for the statists to make sure that the people do not see the present economic hardships as the inevitable and foreseen results of massive state intervention, but rather something to do with evil capitalists and too much economic freedom.

or

C) A combination of the two.

There is scant evidence that Murdoch is a libertarian, and much to the contrary, if his media outlets are anything to go by. Even in the speech that is the subject of the BBC's propaganda bulletin, he blots his credentials thus:
Mr Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns the Times, the Sun and Sky News, among other media outlets, also said a free society needed an independent press, adding it would "serve the interests of the powerful if professional journalists were muted, or replaced as navigators in our society by bloggers and bloviators"
I've no idea what a 'bloviator' is, but the message underlying this is not one of freedom, I smell a protectionist! It has been well-noted that some of the foremost enemies of capitalism are plutocrats such as Murdoch. The last thing they really want is free competition. Hence the key role of the big corporations in lobbying for regulations.

Hat tip: The Appalling Strangeness & DK.

Yeah, we've just got one case left

Not this old chestnut again! Apparently we're running out of swine flu vaccine, so you best run out and get it while you can.

Hey guys, don't save any for me. I didn't want it first time round, and it's no more appetizing for being left out the back of a Rumanian clinic for a year, or wherever you manage to dig up some supplies.

By the way, how's that investigation into collusion between WHO and the pharma corporations going? No news, huh?

Punch replaces Judy

If there's change coming in the Congress, I doubt it'll be from 'Stiffy' Boehner (cheap shot, I know) and the 'mainstream' Republicans, but 100% increase in members of the Ron Paul family has got to be good.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Does the state do anything right?

From Natural News:

A Colorado beekeeper recently obtained a leaked document revealing that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows a popular crop pesticide is killing off honey bees, but has allowed its continued approval anyway. Despite opposition from its own scientists, EPA officials first gave the a-okay to Bayer CropScience's toxic pesticide clothianidin in 1993 based on the company's own flawed safety studies. But now it has been revealed that the EPA knew all along about the dangers of clothianidin and decided to just ignore them.

Read article

The disutility of listening to Radio 4

I was listening to the 10 o'clock news last night on Radio 4, and encountered a debate on that old economic canard about sharing out the work, i.e. reducing the working week in order to create jobs, and allowing us all to spend more time painting, composing operas etc.

If I could remember the woman's name, and had her contact details, I would refer her to Henry Hazlitt's 'Economics In One Lesson' - chapter 8; share the wealth schemes, but the thing that struck me at the time was that, rather than bringing in coercive legislation to reduce the working week, how about reducing the tax burden? We're working half the week simply to pay off the state's protection racket. Maybe I'll be in a position to take the cut in hours, if the state pulls its claws out of my pay packet.

I have no love of work - but that's pretty much the nature of the beast. I admit that my plan won't achieve what the woman wants, as it falls at the same fence. It's still a good idea.

Paul Flynn MP: I think I touched a raw nerve

Paul Flynn: "obsessed and irrational" Moi?

I expect it was the bit about the Iraq war that got under the skin of Paul Flynn, professional politician, in my response to this extract from one of his posts:

They are a strange obsessed group.

My blog of the 28th December provoked 208 comments mainly from opponents of the smoking ban. I printed a typical exchange below in response to my observation that smoking is less prevalent now in the UK. Like the global warming deniers the anti-ban brigade regularly quote reports that they have not read or do not understand. I have taken only a small role in the discussion. Regular commenters have squashed those who are anti-ban.

I would say that was provocative. The long comment thread was mainly the work of various anti-banners arguing with a few pro-banners, led by Kay Tie, rather than Paul Flynn. (as he notes). The post in question was about the government's petition thing, and my first entry into the fray was broadly agreeing with Paul's point, that it's a gimmick.

As is usually the case, a string of such length contains comments spanning the quality spectrum; from intelligent to stupid, from pointing to dull, from polite to belligerent. No doubt, such debates take place between opinionated people, and probably no participant changed his or her views more than a fraction. Flynn's description above is characteristic of this. Nevertheless, calling those who disagree with his opinion 'strange' and 'obsessed' is provocative. So I responded thus:

"They are a strange obsessed group."

No, we just hate control-freaks telling us what to do. I was brought up in the 80s, and thought the tories were authoritarian. Little did I know at the time just how bad labour would be, and if you think that the smoking issue is not important, I see that same self-satisfied, sanctimonious, righteous self-assurance in your war in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis is your party's most telling legacy, Mr Flynn.

The smoking ban was only a symptom of your fanatical zeal for a police state, with your ID cards, and your 'anti-terror' laws, 90 day detention plans and all the rest.

You and your party are a danger to freedom, because you have no concept of any limitation on the power of the state.

Besides all that, there are molluscs with a better grasp of economics.

Now, I don't have any particular animus against the man. I tried to make the argument against his party, rather than him personally, but I didn't expect him to appreciate my analysis. Indeed he didn't:
Trooper Thompson is obsessed and irrational. the smoking ban has the approval of all main parties. Anti ban candidates have had derisory votes when they stood for elections. The Iraq War was backed by all Tory MPs except six and opposed by 139 Labour MPs. You live in a fantasy world of your own creation. Get real.
Followed five minutes later with:

Some of the anti smoking ban zealots are trying to abuse the hospitality of this site by making untrue allegations. They have had a fair run but their tedious repetitive irrationality is no longer welcome. They have their own unread sites to play on. This site is for an exchange of views between intelligent people.
Hence my final comment:

If you don't want to argue, then don't start the argument. Don't give it out if you can't take it.

The death of England: part 94

Here's a picture of the contemptible state of our police, courts and so-called justice system:

A man flashes his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap, and is convicted by magistrates of 'obstructing the police'. Saith the beak:
’We found that your flashing of your headlights was an obstruction, we found that you knew this action would cause vehicles to slow down and cause other motorists to avoid the speed trap and avoid prosecution.’
His action would 'cause vehicles to slow down'. This is the supposed point of all those cuntish speed cameras, isn't it? To make us slow down? Therefore, painting them yellow is obstructing the police in the same way, because it warns oncoming drivers.

Fuck it. I'm going to bed.


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

1000 years ago...

Here's another treat from the archives; possibly the only recorded interview with H.L.Mencken.



The above is Part 1. Here's the whole thing:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8.

Meanwhile in that island of freedom within the sea of EU tyranny..

The Brussels Borg is upping the pressure on Switzerland:
"European Union foreign ministers have issued a tough-worded warning to Switzerland that its relationship with the bloc is dysfunctional and must be radically changed....
...Stressing that they still respected Switzerland's sovereignty, the ministers nevertheless said that they have "come to the conclusion that while the present system of bilateral agreements has worked well in the past, the challenge of the coming years will be to go beyond this complex system, which is creating legal uncertainty and has become unwieldy to manage and has clearly reached its limits."...
...The European Commission on behalf of the bloc is currently engaged in talks with Bern over many of these concerns, but it is understood they are not proceeding well.
Oh, you mean they're not rolling over and letting you destroy their country, and steal all their wealth? Makes a change. Big shame we haven't got a similar government in our country, but our government are traitors.

Hey Switzerland, don't take any shit from those arrogant cunts. Keep up the good work, and hopefully we'll see you in EFTA in a short while, if you'll have us back.

Hat tip: UKK41 & Ironies Too

Monday, 3 January 2011

Gangster economics, Hungarian style

Governments throughout history and across the world entertain and foster the illusion that they are somehow above the law. Whereas when an ordinary person commits robbery or murder, they should expect retribution and punishment, the government sees it differently.

Thus in Hungary, it announces it is 'nationalising' the private pensions, in other words robbing the private pensions to pay its short-term debts. Ah, these Hungarians, they haven't quite shaken off the years they toiled under the socialist system, one might say. The only real difference, though, is they lack subtlety. Our government does just the same every day of the year, as do all governments. The state is an organised system of parasitic coercion.

Hat tip: LPUK blog

NUT interpret poll results: could do better

The teachers' union NUT are renewing their attack on the government's free schools policy, but they seem to be overdoing it. Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said:
"This survey clearly shows that parents are not clamouring to set up free schools, have no issue with schools being accountable to the community through democratically elected local authorities, and absolutely reject the premise of their children's education being handed over to private companies. Free schools are not wanted or needed. They are divisive and unaccountable. It is time the government stopped playing with the educational future of this country based on nothing more than the fact they can."

The poll, which they commissioned, says nothing of the kind. It shows that most people have no strong opinion about the policy, some are against and some are in favour - "A quarter of 1,000 parents said they would support a free school in their area, with 31% against and 43% unsure." In which case, those who are in favour can pursue the policy, those who are against, or have no interest, can avoid them. The government was not expecting, I am sure, the free schools to quickly take over the national school system.

The NUT is not directly concerned with the wellbeing of school children, but rather the pay and conditions of its members. It sees a threat from schools that are more independent, because they may not be so vulnerable to union coercion, and these schools may draw away children from the more talented end of the spectrum, hence reducing the average at the local authority schools. To the coercive collectivists, found in great abundance in the NUT, the duty of a smart kid is to go and stay in a shit school, to raise the average.

Whatever the fruits of the government's policy (and I should say, as a libertarian my choice would be to smash the state-run system into a thousand pieces, and then to take those pieces and grind them into dust), the NUT's critique must be taken with a generous pinch of salt. Just because it pisses off that bunch of recalcitrant syndicalists, doesn't make it bad, more likely the opposite.

Update: You can hear the NUT making a fool of herself on the Radio 4 news here.