Monday 30 January 2012

Toe in the water

Catatonia - Road Rage

Another gorgeous Welsh bird with a great pair of lungs.


Regulars will have noticed a distinct lack of activity on the blog for a couple of weeks. Various matters are taking up my time. I expect my mojo will return presently.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Fair and balanced

This is quite funny, although I fear there are a fair few who might not grasp the joke.

Hat tip: The Daily Paul

Friday 20 January 2012

Forget Cameron, here's someone who understands the free market

The venerable Tom Woods, speaking on 'The Free Market: Fallacies and Facts' at the Mises Circle in Houston, 14th January, 2012.

Khan Academy breaks down tyrannical SOPA

Thursday 19 January 2012

Cameron on capitalism: a curate's egg

In commenting on Cameron's speech regarding capitalism, I guess I could go either way, in other words, I could take some solace that he seems at least half right half of the time (presumably to the extent that he is influenced by Steve Hilton), which, in terms of British politicians is about as good as it gets, or I could denounce him for his adherence to interventionist myths about how free markets don't work, unless there's a bunch of cretinous politicians fiddling around with the mechanisms.

Few politicians are able to embrace free market capitalism in its true sense, because to do so would involve accepting that not only should they not interfere, but that their interference is positively malign in effect.

What they never seem to do is hold up the government and the state to the standards they espouse for others. If this government was a business, it would have been declared bankrupt decades, if not centuries ago.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

As recommended by Mises

I'm reading Benjamin M. Anderson's 'Economics and the Public Welfare' at the moment, recounting the economic history of the period 1914 to 1946, mainly of the United States, but also, and necessarily so, covering events in Europe and the rest of the world. The following observation (at the end) struck me as particularly well said.
France entered the war with bad government finance. She had a national debt of 30 billion gold francs as against an estimated national wealth of 300 billion gold francs at the beginning of the war. France had had chronic deficits for many years before the war. There was governmental extravagance, and there was a great reluctance on the part of the people to submit to direct taxes. They did tolerate very heavy indirect taxes. When Caillaux undertook early in 1914 to introduce an income tax of 2 percent in the effort to balance the French budget, the outcry in France was so extreme that one would have supposed that the end of the world had come. During the war France did relatively little with taxation, and the public debt ran up from 30 billion to 147 billion francs before the war was over.

Then France began to have some real deficits. Adherents of the school of Keynes and Hansen would do well to study the history of French finance from 1918 to 1926. The one difference between the policies followed in France in this period and the polices advocated by the New Deal spenders for the United States is to be found in the fact that the French were ashamed of it and tried to conceal it and to find excusees for it, whereas the New Deal spenders would glorify it and call it "investment".
From chapter 14 - France 1918-24

Joe Lieberman: scumbag maggot who loves tyranny and hates America

Listen to the end. The last line gives it away. I ask you America, is this what you want your country to become?

Hat tip: Infowars

Doctors call for MANDATORY participation in clinical trials

With every day we seem to descend further into a fabian hell. Via Infowars I read an article from the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics (!?) calling for mandatory participation in drug and vaccine trials.

The argument goes something like; 'well, the state can conscript people and send them off to war, so why the hell not conscript people for medical experiments?'

Read it yourself if you don't believe me.

Sunday 15 January 2012

A republic, if you can keep it

I have been reading Garet Garrett's 'People's Pottage' (published under the title 'Ex-America' by Caxton Press), three essays grimly dissecting America's descent from republic to empire. Sadly Garett's lament for lost liberty did not stop the slide, but it is valuable to know better the steps that were taken, most notably by Roosevelt and Truman, to destroy that city on the hill. Here's an extract from the last one, 'Rise of Empire':

If you may have Empire with or without a constitution, even within the form of a republican constitution, and if also you may have Empire with or without an emperor, then how may the true marks of Empire be distinguished with certainty? What are they?

War and conquest? No. Republics may make war and pursue the aims of conquest. Continental conquest did not give the United States the character of Empire. Continental conquest was but the growth of a lively political organism, acting from its own center. Thenatural limits of it were geographic. Notions of Empire did at the same time arise—notions of external conquest — but they were sternly put down by the republican spirit.

Colonies, then? No, not colonies. At least, you have to say what you mean by colonies. They are of many kinds and represent diverse intentions in time and circumstance. An over-populated republic may swarm, as bees do. Colonies did not make Greece an Empire. The Greek colonists were emigrants. As they moved across the Aegean Sea to the shores of Asia Minor they took with them fire from the sacred hearth, and were sometimes subsidized out of the public treasury as if they were children entitled to a farewell portion of the family wealth; but beyond that they were on their own, and when a colony was founded it was a sovereign state, not politically bound to the mother-state.

War, conquest, colonization, expansion—these are political exertions that occur in the history of any kind of state that was ever known, tyrannies, oligarchies, republics or democracies. But let us regard the things that belong only to empire, and set them down. Then we shall see.

The first requisite of Empire is:
The executive power of government shall be dominant.

Read on...

Breaking Cover

Goldbug - Whole Lotta Love

I've been away for a few days. I trust y'all have coped.

Stereophonics - Handbags and Gladrags

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Come on New Hampshire - be true to your motto ...

The one man in this race who understands what freedom means in all its perplexity.

Not that I'm interferring of course...

Hat tip: Lew Rockwell's Political Theater

Monday 9 January 2012

Everybody Hurts

I'm usually a brunette man, but I'm prepared to make exceptions (cor!).

A great song from Duffy - Warwick Avenue

Samizdata attacking Ron Paul again

Yeah, that Dr Paul and his apparently ridiculous preference for peace, or failing that, a constitutionally-declared, limited bellum iustum, instead of the present practice of undeclared, endless, bankruptcy-inducing military adventurism in faraway countries, riles up the neo-cons amongst them.

As usual, there's the grudging acknowledgement that some of what he says may be okay, but any bonus points he wins for wanting to cut government expenditure massively, return to constitutional government, institute a sound monetary policy, re-establish the Bill of Rights, end the war on drugs etc., count as nothing, due to his disinclination to bomb the fuck out of the islamofascist ragheads, who are, even now, girding themselves to sweep down from the Hindu Kush into the heartlands of America.

(Brian's alright though, and some of the commenters too, to be fair).

Correcting CBS

From Digital Journal:

"Does the mainstream media hate Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul? That's what many of his supporters are asking themselves now. After Jan Crawford of CBS News omitted Dr. Paul from her report and from a polling graphic, many have complained to CBS.

According to the latest Suffolk University poll in the New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney sits in first place with 33 percent, while Dr. Paul polled second with 20 percent. Meanwhile, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who has bet his own campaign on the Granite State, is third with 13 percent. One day before the primary, 12 percent remain undecided."

See the clip below:

Hat tip: Infowars

Jesse Defamed

For the second time in barely a fortnight the establishment media is spreading false stories about Jesse Ventura.

First it was about him being in a road-rage incident in California when he was in fact hundreds of miles away in Minnesota, and now, far more maliciously, that he was punched out in a Navy Seals bar for saying that American troops deserved to die, and interestingly the story hit when he had just left the country and would be incommunicado for a couple of days.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with the guy knows this story is a stinking lie. Jesse is proud to the core of his service in the Seals and that of his parents and other members of his family, and although he has been scathing in attacking the wars of recent years, he has never attacked the troops who have been serving.

This is clearly an attempt to blacken his name, and try to silence him. He has spoken in the past of maybe running for the Presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket, and unless Ron Paul is chosen by the GOP, I certainly hope he gives it some serious thought. This kind of dirty, back-stabbing attack is most likely to encourage him to do just that.

Tom Woods in NH

Tom Woods, reporting from New Hampshire:
I asked the youngsters in what was predominantly a young crowd how many of them had held different views before encountering Ron Paul, and then after learning about him began to look at the world altogether differently. Huge cheer.

Then I asked, “Now how many people do you think have ever said, ‘My life was changed forever when I first discovered the philosophy of Mitt Romney’?”

Saturday 7 January 2012

Two Definitions of Liberty

The above is of course the one I subscribe to. Ron Paul stands up for individual liberty in its true sense, both in the personal and the economic sphere, and he speaks out against the Patriot Act and the recent NDAA, both of which are egregious violations of the principles in the Bill of Rights.

Below we find a different view from Rick Santorum. Part of what he says is reasonable. Few people deny that we have responsibilities to others, especially our nearest and dearest. However, Santorum rejects in principle the notion that we should be free to do as we please, provided we don't harm others. This is one thing to say on a moral level, it is quite another when you are seeking political office in which you will have the power to impose your will on everyone else.

Furthermore, he speaks of devotion to the 'the common good', which the interviewer rightly suggests makes Santorum sound like some kind of crazy collectivist (I paraphrase). According to Santorum, it seems, you are free to do as you're told.

Hat tip: Samizdata (although they block my comments for some reason)

UPDATE: The latest Lew Rockwell podcast talks about Santorum, with a different quote from him in a similar vein, having a pop at libertarians (@ 3:40), which is worth a listen (if only for the quote from one of Santorum's ex-colleagues on his IQ).

Sheffield Connection

Following on from the Tony Christie number below, I come to this by the Arctic Monkeys, with whom he collaborated on the album 'Made in Sheffield'.

An Obsession With Language

In political discourse, as in communication in general, the choice of words is paramount. In addition to the simple meaning of words there are anciliary associations and implications which the wordsmith uses to reinforce the desired message.

The above is intended to be a statement of the obvious, as a prologue to noting the use of the word 'obsession' with regard to the beliefs and opinions of one's political adversaries. This particular one is often leveled at people like myself, who hold views which are not endorsed by the so-called mainstream. The aim is to convey the idea that the object is something unwholesome, or that the belief or interest in the thing stems not from a rational decision of the intellect, but from an impulse originating in the basal ganglia or some other primitive part of the brain.

Here is exhibit A:
What Is “Austrian Economics”? And why is Ron Paul obsessed with it?
The meaning of obsession from the Free Dictionary is thus:
1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
So, is Ron Paul obsessed with Austrian Economics? If, when you asked him if he wanted a cup of tea, he grabbed your lapels and, with a faraway look in his eyes, uttered:
There are certain unsettled questions in economic theory that have been handed down as a sort of legacy from one generation to another. The discussion of these questions is revived twenty or it may be a hundred times in the course of a decade, and each time the disputants exhaust their intellectual resources in the endeavor to impress their views upon their contemporaries. Not infrequently the discussion is carried far beyond the limits of weariness and satiety, so that it may well be regarded as an offence against good taste to again recur to so well-worn a theme. And yet these questions return again and again, like troubled spirits doomed restlessly to wander until the hour of their deliverance shall appear. It may be that since the last discussion of the question we have made some real or fancied discoveries in the science, and some may think that these throw new light upon the old question. Instantly the old strife breaks forth anew, with the same liveliness as if it possessed the charm of entire novelty, and so it continues year after year, and will continue, until the troubled spirit is at last set free. In this class we find the question -- What is the "ultimate standard of value"?
... then you may have reason to suggest that the Good Doctor is obsessed. As this is certainly not the case, and that, going by the thousands of Ron Paul clips on the internet, he is quite capable of confining his discussion of Austrian Economics to occasions when it is indeed relevant, we can safely surmise that the writer's use of the word 'obsessed' is rhetorical sleight-of-hand.

So, in order to encourage the correct use of the word 'obsession' I offer the following examples to Matthew Yglesias of poor and misleading usage:

If I like a book that you don't like, it does not follow that I am obsessed with the book.

If I like 'The Godfather' and you don't, it does not follow that I am obsessed with gangster movies.

If I come home and find you robbing my television, and I object, it does not follow that I am obsessed with private property or material possessions.

If a woman discovers you have stolen a pair of her high-heeled slippers and you are currently masturbating furiously to the point of ejaculation all over them, and she objects, it does not follow that she's obsessed with hygiene, or indeed preventing the perfidious sin of Onan.

I hope this helps.

Hat tip: Lew Rockwell's Political Theater.

Brand New Retro ...

... at least to me. I heard this on the radio yesterday; Tony Christie - 'Avenues and Alleyways'. I don't know where it's been hiding all these years. The video's cool, mining the same seam as the Beastie Boys 'Sabotage', which I'm just about old enough to remember in its original format.

How to misunderstand Lockean property rights

As noted below, George Monbiot's most recent feeble attack on libertarianism and property rights built its rickety frame upon something written by one Matt Bruenig, so let us turn to Matt Bruenig and see if he has anything that may disturb our settled views on the subject of property. Here are some 'pearls of wisdom' from Bruenig:
"Unfortunately, many — even on the left — will concede that property rights exist, and that the institution of property makes sense... I think this is the wrong move: the issue of property should be attacked head on for the incoherent mess that it is... You cannot justify ownership based on free exchange because ownership necessarily does not originate from free exchange: at some initial point, someone had to just grab some piece of land without exchanging with anybody. This is logically unavoidable."
What Bruenig is pointing out here is hardly revelatory. He seems to think that he's spotted a flaw, but in reality he is merely working his way back to the starting point of Locke's principle of ownership. He is correct that it is logically unavoidable, which may explain why neither Locke nor any other thinker of note avoided it.
"Now, there are all sorts of efforts to explain how that initial appropriation can occur. Philosophers like John Locke, Murray Rothbard, and Robert Nozick give famous accounts, and there is significant amounts of literature explaining just how spectacularly they all fail."
So Bruenig drops the names of Locke, Rothbard and Nozick, but where I might find the 'significant amounts of literature' which disprove such thinkers remains a mystery. I shall charitably presume for the moment that Bruenig has sated himself on such wisdom. Perhaps he will provide the knowledge for his readers?
"But the easiest way to understand how original appropriation cannot be justified within a conservative/libertarian framework is by focusing on the idea of opportunity loss. When an individual declares perpetual ownership of some piece of unowned land, every other human being on earth suffers an opportunity loss: their opportunity to use that land has now disappeared. Opportunity losses are real economic harms.

To be concrete about this, consider an example. The piece of land down by the river is owned by no one; so everyone can use it. Sarah declares — on whatever property theory she prefers — that the piece of land by the river now belongs to her exclusively. But, wait a minute. The previous ability of others to use the land by the river has now vanished! They have been hit with opportunity losses. If one of the dispossessed were to say “this is silly, I do not consent to giving up my pre-existing opportunity to use the land down by the river,” Sarah uses violence (typically state violence) to keep the dispossessed out.

Unless unanimous consent exists, the original grabbing up of property results in violent, non-consensual theft from others. It is really just that simple. What follows from that conclusion is that the conservative/libertarian positions that depend on the sanctity of property rights are totally bogus."

Okay, so now we have Bruenig's argument. Let's start with his conception of 'opportunity loss'.
"When an individual declares perpetual ownership of some piece of unowned land, every other human being on earth suffers an opportunity loss: their opportunity to use that land has now disappeared. Opportunity losses are real economic harms. "
On the face of it, this is a ridiculous statement, which declares that it is wrong for anyone to do anything, because this will harm everyone else. Bruenig is talking about land, but the same principle could be applied to any other property. If I eat an apple, in doing so I deprive everyone else of eating that apple. If we accept this notion, let us not forget that I at least have benefited from eating the apple. Therefore, let Bruenig's cosmic ledger record on one side the benefit I received balanced against the sum of loss to the rest of mankind thus deprived, and suppose that these sums are equal.

Bruenig must realise that one apple cannot be divided between 7 billion people, and that any particular 'opportunity loss' which such an individual action imposes is infinitesimally small to any other individual. He must also accept that if such an action is forbidden due to the 'real economic harm' that it imposes on others, then we must all starve to death. I would suggest that any philosophical principle which leads to the annihilation of humanity should be rejected for that reason alone! Moving on...
"To be concrete about this, consider an example. The piece of land down by the river is owned by no one; so everyone can use it. Sarah declares — on whatever property theory she prefers — that the piece of land by the river now belongs to her exclusively. But, wait a minute. The previous ability of others to use the land by the river has now vanished! "
Here we find how Bruenig has completely misunderstood the Lockean principle. His example does not address the principle at all. He states: "The piece of land down by the river is owned by no one; so everyone can use it." However the Lockean principle deals with land which neither owned nor used by anyone. Indeed it is the use of the land which confers ownership. If the land is already in use, say as common land, then its ownership has been thus established.

What Bruenig is failing to distinguish between is actual use and potential use. Indeed he is dishonestly, it seems, switching between these different states. He then hammers home his crooked nail with this statement:
"If one of the dispossessed were to say “this is silly, I do not consent to giving up my pre-existing opportunity to use the land down by the river,” Sarah uses violence (typically state violence) to keep the dispossessed out."
If he is now describing someone who was a prior actual user, this is a fine example of self-refutation. He uses the term 'dispossessed' - dispossessed of what? A prior property right! In other words, the dispossessed person needs to assert the very principle Bruenig wishes to deny. If however Bruenig is describing not a prior actual user, but merely a potential user now excluded, we are back to the starvation scenario above. Therefore, if only on pragmatic grounds, property rights must be defended if we are to avoid extinction.

Having failed to refute Locke's argument, Bruenig's further deductions are hardly worthy of consideration, and it will be no surprise to learn what he prefers to put in its place, nor the language he uses to obscure the harsh reality of his position. He talks of a "democratic decision-making process about resource use ", which sounds so much nicer than collectivist tyranny.

If I wasn't losing interest at this point, I would start applying Bruenig's fallacious reasoning and dubious word definitions to his own position. If all property resolves to the collective, what about the 'opportunity cost' to the individual? Furthermore, how are we to ensure that the democratic decision-making process will represent everyone? If, in his example, the collective swings into action to prevent Sarah's land enclosure and reasserts the common ownership of that parcel of land, how can we be sure that those acting in the collective interest are properly consulting the 7 billion humans who have, apparently, just as much ownership in the piece of land as anyone else?

In closing I will mention 'the tragedy of the commons'. If Bruenig and his fan George Monbiot are truly concerned with the environment, they would park their ideological inanities for a moment and consider the pragmatic benefits of property rights. They should also bear in mind that if the totalitarian system they espouse were ever put in place, there is no guarantee that the dictators whose boots they dream of licking will share their particular vision of utopia.

Cross-posted at Libertarian Home

Monbiot swings fist at libertarianism, misses, ends in crumpled heap on floor in puddle of own urine

George Monbiot obviously hasn't learnt from his mistakes. He has again launched a feeble attack on libertarianism, using as a jumping-off point a piece by someone called Matt Bruenig, who is some kind of communist as far as I can tell. I may write something separate on him later, if I feel like playing whack-a-mole on his sixth-form level sophisms.

The attack from these two is based on the following:

A complete rejection of property rights.

A claim that property rights are untenable when faced by issues of environmental pollution.

A claim that because they are untenable, libertarians are forced to reject environmentalism.

On the first point; readers, please feel free to occupy and make use of George's palatial residence, seeing that, according to him, property rights are laughable. I suspect, if anyone of us were to move in, start watching his telly, eating the food out of his fridge, sleeping in his beds etc he would very swiftly rediscover his understanding of property rights, which, when he's sitting in his intellectual ivory tower, strangely deserts him.

On the second point, libertarian property rights with regard to environmental issues are not at all untenable, and actually provide the means to address such matters and bring redress where justice dictates. As I noted last time George decided to parade his hostile ignorance, it was the refusal of 19th century courts, i.e., the organs of the state, to uphold property rights with regard to industrial pollution on the spurious grounds of a collectivist 'greater good' which prevented the law from dealing with the issue, and, anecdotally, I pointed out to George how, in the socialist countries of the Soviet bloc, environmental degradation was often worse, due to them sharing George's collectivism and hatred for property rights.

On the third point, it is not the case that libertarians are constrained to reject environmentalism, only that we are constrained to address such matters from what we consider the correct and just starting point, that being individual liberty, property rights and the non-aggression principle.

Leaving aside the science for a moment, George Monbiot and those of the environmental movement who mill around his tattered standard, are so inherently hostile to libertarian ideas and so slavishly in thrall to an ideological mish-mash of collectivism, state-worship and neo-pastoral utopianism, that we are duty-bound to fight back against his poisonous views.

This would be the case, even if every doomsday prediction he trots out was 100% veritas, because the solutions he proposes are monstrously illiberal. What we would support are solutions that adhere to the principles I note above; individual liberty, property rights and non-aggression.

Yet again, Monbiot refuses to engage with actual libertarian philosophy and prefers to duff up a strawman version, which may satisfy his unthinking followers. It is, I suppose, somewhat gratifying that he has identified libertarianism as the main enemy, in other words, the most consistent and rational antidote to his sub-marxoid, misanthropic madness.

Hat tip: An Englishman's Castle

Cross-posted at Libertarian Home

Friday 6 January 2012

Ashdown: dirty statist

Avuncular 'liberalism'; that's what you get with Paddy Ashdown. Boiling it down, the message is; the nation state is finished, thus we should commit ourselves to a centuries-long struggle to democratising the power structures that will prevail.

Ashdown may strike some as a visionary thinker. To me, he's an old hack. Interspersed with the nonsense is the occasional home truth about interdependence etc., but what is his essential message, if not to worship the state? His whole philosophy drips with the treacle of trusting our wise governors - not one word for individual liberty.

I'd call him a commie bastard, but people would misunderstand.

Thursday 5 January 2012

Sequoyah: the state that never was

Listening to Lew Rockwell's latest podcast, an interview with historian Charles Burris discussing, amongst other things, the history of third parties in American politics, I learnt of the following:
The State of Sequoyah was a proposed state to be established in the eastern part of present-day Oklahoma. In 1905, faced by proposals to end their tribal governments, Native Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory proposed such a state as a means to retain some control of their land. Their intention was to have a state under Native American constitution and rule.[1] The proposed state was named in honor of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who created a writing system in 1825 for the Cherokee language.
So much history, so little time. From the blurb at LRC:
Lew Rockwell talks to Charles Burris about political revisionism (and a little Kennedy assassination revisionism, too).

Charles A. Burris: Archives

The CIA and The Media Article by Carl Bernstein

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Il a raison, ce monsieur Bastiat

Justice and fraternity, in Journal des Économistes, 15 June 1848, page 313

"[The socialists declare] that the State owes subsistence, well-being, and education to all its citizens; that it should be generous, charitable, involved in everything, devoted to everybody; ...that it should intervene directly to relieve all suffering, satisfy and anticipate all wants, furnish capital to all enterprises, enlightenment to all minds, balm for all wounds, asylums for all the unfortunate, and even aid to the point of shedding French blood, for all oppressed people on the face of the earth.

Who would not like to see all these benefits flow forth upon the world from the law, as from an inexhaustible source? ... But is it possible? ... Whence does [the State] draw those resources that it is urged to dispense by way of benefits to individuals? Is it not from the individuals themselves? How, then, can these resources be increased by passing through the hands of a parasitic and voracious intermediary?

...Finally...we shall see the entire people transformed into petitioners. Landed property, agriculture, industry, commerce, shipping, industrial companies, all will bestir themselves to claim favors from the State. The public treasury will be literally pillaged. Everyone will have good reasons to prove that legal fraternity should be interpreted in this sense: "Let me have the benefits, and let others pay the costs." Everyone's effort will be directed toward snatching a scrap of fraternal privilege from the legislature. The suffering classes, although having the greatest claim, will not always have the greatest success."

Found at Wikiquote Frédéric Bastiat

Mises for the lazy

I was reading the excellent Mises collection of essays and addresses "Planning For Freedom", and it occurred to me that I could kick back and let someone else take the trouble, in this case Gennady Stolyarov II. Thw lecture was originally presented to the University Club of New York, April 18, 1950, and bears the title 'Middle-of-the-road leads to socialism' - also found in the Mises Institute publication "Two Essays".

Monday 2 January 2012

History, but not for the faint-hearted

Mature readers click through to see this grisly image in better detail. It is of the execution of François Ravaillac, the assassin of Henri IV of France, in the manner reserved for regicides. You will see there are various stages of the execution played out in the picture, so you get to see before and after the horses tear him limb from limb.

Interesting, huh?

Joanna who?

Joanna of Naples - I like her already! Here's Nany Goldstone discussing "The Lady Queen: the notorious reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem & Sicily". I have not read this book, but it certainly strikes me as an interesting piece of the historical jigsaw that has hereto for been lurking down the back of the scholarly sofa.

The last word on the newsletters

Happy New Year

Sir Walter Raleigh and his son

Happy New Year, dear readers.