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"Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice" - Adam Smith

Blog Review 419

Written by Netsmith | Friday 16 November 2007

Yes, this might indeed work. Put Netsmith down as a "Real Fascist B**tard" for the moment. At least until we can properly reclaim the word liberal.

Speaking of liberals, just what was it from the longest suicide note in history that Polly disagreed with

And could John Redwood be right in explaining why so many are now leaving our illiberal nation? 

A reminder of just what liberal capitalism has in fact done. In order to make child mortality statistics understandable in recent years we've had to change the denominator. From per 1,000 to per 100,000, otherwise the numbers would just be too small to note properly.

More illiberality: there are those who think that China and India cannot be allowed to grow: for the effect upon the climate, of course. 

Is this, possibly, the stupidest question ever asked? 

And finally, doing it for Walter.

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Quote of the Week

Written by Wordsmith | Saturday 17 November 2007

When neither their property nor their liberty is touched, the majority of men live content

Machiavelli, The Prince 

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Deregulate the Drinking Culture

Written by Rachel Patterson | Saturday 17 November 2007

Cheers DrinkIn the past decade, the UK has seen an increase in alcohol related deaths. This has been accompanied by an increase in government regulation to try and combat the problem. The Health Alcohol Alliance recently called for even more regulation specific to fighting alcohol abuse and disease among youths. As well as regulation on advertisements, they want taxes on alcohol increased. Britain already has the second highest alcohol tax in Europe and many government programmes and regulations, and yet the Alliance thinks more of the same will do the trick.

Increased control isn’t the way to solve the problem. Countries with a less restrictive attitude toward alcohol don’t have the same problems of youth abuse. In many European countries, children grow up with alcohol as an accepted part of daily life, rather than a forbidden novelty, so when they reach adulthood the desire to overindulge is much less. In more temperate cultures like Britain and America, when young people begin to drink they often do so to excess because alcohol is a new and exciting novelty. This problem is even worse in America, where the drinking age is 21, and high school and college students drink heavily as soon as they gain access to alcohol. In terms of safety this is even worse. The young are more likely to try and drive themselves home if they are drunk and their drinking is forbidden, rather than calling a parent or taking public transport.

Obviously, the regulation hasn’t been working and the Alliance must find new ways of combating the problem, not just increasing the old, ineffective ones. The answer to our alcohol problem is less regulation, not more, to create a climate and a culture that doesn’t need to abuse alcohol to the same degree.

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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Saturday 17 November 2007

The teacher asked the class to write about an unusual event that had happened during the past week.
Little Johnny got up and read his essay. It began, ‘Daddy fell into the well last week...’
“My Goodness!” the teacher exclaimed. “Is he alright?”
“He must be,” said little Johnny. “He stopped yelling for help yesterday.”

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Paul Krugman and Sub Prime

Written by Tim Worstall | Saturday 17 November 2007

Allow me, for a moment or two, to take Paul Krugman's argument at full and face value :

We’re told that we mustn’t regulate subprime lending, despite the vast wave of foreclosures it has produced, because to do so would prevent minorities and other disadvantaged Americans from achieving the dream of homeownership. Yet homeownership is already back down to about what it was before the big wave of subprime lending began. All that the wonders of the financial market achieved, it seemed, was to give a lot of people a brief taste of homeownership, followed by a nasty foreclosure.

If that is indeed what has happened, was that in fact all that has happened? And if it was, does that now bolster the argument for the regulation of sub prime lending? This is where I think I stray from Krugman's line, in that we didn't actually know that it was all a bad idea before we started out on this path. I'm just about old enough to remember redlining as a serious political issue and it's certainly true that we still have people insisting that the poor should be given access to easy credit (Polly, for example ). Now we're being told that actually allowing such people access to credit gave them a brief taste of home ownership and nothing more.

So while a great deal of effort and treasure was expended trying to get from a to b, we've ended back at a again with liittle show for that effort and treasure.  Except, of course, that we now know the move to b isn't in fact something that we should try again.  And that's the value of what has happened. It is, in fact, the way that we want markets to work, want the whole liberal capitalism shtick to do. People try things out, people experiment, and then when they start losing money they realise that this is the universe's way of telling them they're doing something stupid.

Now agreed, it's been an expensive lesson but then that in itself actually tells us why such sub prime lending doesn't need to be regulated. Who is actually going to do it again, given the 50 billion reasons why they shouldn't?

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Blog Review 420

Written by Netsmith | Saturday 17 November 2007

Fraser Nelson asks an interesting question : why do so many Britons seem to regard a degree as a ticket out of the country?

That your money can be taken from you after you've been found not guilty of a criminal offence can only affect a small number of such people, surely? 

That tens of millions are spent on minor changes to a vacillating bureaucracy couldn't be the cause now, could it? 

The idea that our laws are increasingly made by international bureaucracies couldn't be a reason to emigrate (for, of course, that would mean all the laws one is subject to would be so made). 

Surely no one is so enamoured any more of civil liberties that they would make such a fuss as to leave the country to secure them, would they? 

Or that people might object to the censorship of light hearted, if robustly phrased, vilifications of vegetarians ? (The writer's use of University computers was ended as a result of that essay.) 

No Fraser, sorry, Netsmith simply cannot understand why anyone would want to leave. 

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Dog Whistling Environmentalism

Written by Steve Bettison | Sunday 18 November 2007

The WorldDelegates to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) agreed to attempt to move the public onto a setting of Defcon–1 through the use of vague, but threatening language, in a thinly veiled push to change global human behaviour for the worse. Prior to the next round of negotiations on the UN climate convention and Kyoto Protocol in Bali on 3rd December they announced that climate change, “may bring abrupt and irreversible impacts.” (My emphasis added). They failed however to balance the argument by stating the obvious that it, “may not bring abrupt and irreversible impacts.” (Again my emphasis added).

The IPCC has concluded that climate change is “unequivocal”, and that we are almost 90% more than likely to be the main cause through our emissions of greenhouse gases. And now that they have a Nobel Prize (N.B. not in Science, but for Peace) everything they say is the gospel truth. This is nothing more than another step along the climate scaremongering ladder, and we can only hope that they become more shrill as a majority of the populace and the politicians grows to ignore them. They are simply trying to impose a socialized model of politics upon us through the use of data that suits their arguments. Science of this kind needs to be depoliticized, and the language associated with it (including those who question climate change) needs to be tempered.

The climate is evolving, but we have to realise that we are as hardy a species as the others of this planet and we can adapt, even more so if we are free to. Just as those insects that the Sami people haven't seen previously, (though no doubt there are probably records of them under their feet), adapt, so can we. We are fast becoming a world constrained by the shackling of ourselves with the green politics of environmentalism. The rejection of technology and the welcome of wasteful spending is irrational on our parts and we need to come to our senses.

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Faults of Milliband's Expanded EU

Written by Rachel Patterson | Sunday 18 November 2007

EU Global DominationOn Friday Foreign Secretary David Milliband called for a large expansion of the European Union, far enough to include nations not even considered European like those of the Middle East and North Africa. The Secretary hopes to use this space to promote free trade, environmentalism, and security.

The goals of increasing a free trade space are commendable, but of course that’s not all the EU does. EU legislation necessarily means more hierarchical and centralized control and the promotion of singular agendas. Milliband’s dream of the expansion of EU territory will conveniently increase the area over which the EU has power to regulate, especially in terms of green legislation and global security threats. This expansion would also see the means to a more powerful military to enforce international law and intervene in international conflicts. Milliband clearly wants an EU with the power to promote policies of the European politicized state. He claimed that the EU will not become an all encompassing ‘superstate’ but what else can it be when it aims to increase territory in order to implement policies favourable to it?

Is this government really ready to call for an expansion of Europe, after it has already denied its euro-sceptic nation a referendum? The government seems unable to accept the attributes of localism and remains bent on increasing hierarchical control both at home and in Europe. An expanded European Union will never offer the ideal of free trade. It will merely lead to a larger protectionist zone, and once again the people of Europe shall be the ones losing out.

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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Sunday 18 November 2007

Three engineering students are discussing what sort of God must have designed the human body. The first says, “God must be a mechanical engineer. Look at all the joints.” The second says, “I think God must be an electrical engineer. The nervous system has thousands of electrical connections.” The third says, “Actually, God is a civil engineer. Who else would run toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

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Politicians & Football Don't Mix (4)

Written by Steve Bettison | Sunday 18 November 2007

At some point someone has tell these politicians to stop. Yet another has been found to be have opened his mouth without thinking when pontificating on football. This time it was Richard Caborn MP, the former Sports Minister and now a possible Ambassador for the 2018 World Cup bid (please, no!) gave his views on wages in football:

I think there ought to be cost controls. Huge television revenues are now washing through into wages and that is something football ought to look at and some of that ought to be invested back into football.

There ought to be a discussion, not just at the English level but at the European level, and that's why the new European white paper and the new treaty changes on sport are important in this area and there ought to be some relationship between income and expenditure.

In simple terms for the former minister: Football clubs take the money coming in and then allocate it as they see fit based on how best to make a profit through the best use of their resources. Players wages are just one small part of it, but they are a reflection of how much the club value the talent at their disposal in the context of the competition around them. Not only do the revenues go on players wages but also on transfer fees, community outreach, fees to the Football Association and assorted other outgoings that are all part of the trickle down in wealth. Of course all this could be cut off at source by the government through taxation on TV revenues at a punitive rate, and thus destroy football as we know it.

A private industry is successful at entertaining people, and they are being rewarded for this and yet this is seen as wrong? When Mr Caborn speaks of, “cost controls” what he actually means is, “the government should legislate and impose a salary cap on the wages of individuals working in the private sector.” The clubs are better able to dispose of their income more wisely than a government minister ever could and they should be able to do so as they please without interference from economically illiterate ministers.

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