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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 421

Written by Netsmith | Sunday 18 November 2007

The idea that you should have to label the ingredients of a product seems simple enough. But it takes a bureaucrat to insist that you cannot list what isn't in it .

Strange to think of a storm as being something that can tell you how much better things are getting but Cyclone Sidr seems to be exactly one of those storms

A new blog devoted solely to examples of how much better things are getting

A report from the development front lines. Netsmith rejects the idea that accountancy is interesting (he studied it, he knows) but agrees that it is vitally important .  

Peter Simple invented Rent-a-Mob as satire: how soon the real world catches up with such flights and fancies

Things really are changing at the BBC.  Apparently they're going to justify the licence fee by employing the Yazzmonster less often.

And finally , the Tube announcements you'd actually like to hear. 


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The Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize

Written by Blog Editor | Monday 19 November 2007

Neil Lock was the winner of the £1,000 prize with his essay on, “Does Britain need a Libertarian Party?" His prize winning essay is now available to read on the Libertarian Alliance website, here

I shan’t give away his answer to the question but I will say that it’s a very interesting essay worthy of the prize and raising many valid questions pertaining to libertarianism.

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Another attempt to stifle choice

Written by Steve Bettison | Monday 19 November 2007

Shelves"The Silent Invasion" is the latest offering from The Soil Association (SA) (the cover of which has a not to subtle jab at the US). In this latest report of an investigation they carried out they found that most of the “non-organic” food sold in the UK came from animals that has been fed on GM feed. The SA wants all food produced from these animals to be labelled as such, and advises the public the best way to avoid this is to (surprise, surprise) buy organic.

Plainly the SA is attempting to give its members another advantage over other producers by scaring the public into thinking that the “non-organic” GM fed food it is consuming is somehow not safe. Is it any wonder they are chasing after food produced using GM feed, could it be that this food is somehow cheaper than the organic alternative?

The European wide ban on GM food being available to the consumer has meant that there is a large stock of material that can’t be used to feed humans but is fit for animals to consume. Rather than allowing this to go to waste it is fed to animals; the consumer benefits from this with cheap food that is safe to consume and choice in the marketplace. How best does the SA seek to narrow this competition, by trying to whip up public fears and hope that there will be legislation passed based on their own recommendations.

The Soil Association probably wishes to see the remove of all competition to organic food in this country and desires that all food produced is done so to its own exacting and expensive standards. There is no thought to the consumer; the Soil Association shows nothing more than the selfish pursuit of profits for its members through protectionism and the heavy hand of legislated regulation.

Adam Smith was correct when he said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."

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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Monday 19 November 2007

A good friend will bail you out of jail.
A great friend will be in the cell next to you saying, “Damn, that was fun!”

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Testing, testing. A, B, C.

Written by Tom Bowman | Monday 19 November 2007

Mother & Child ReadingThe Conservative Party’s latest idea on ensuring that all children are able to read by the age of seven is noble. Yet they’ve once again slipped into the idea of measuring standards through centrally set testing. For the vast majority of children in Britain they face repeated testing throughout their days at school, and most of this is merely for the whim of the politicians.

As Michael Gove MP told the Andrew Marr Show on the BBC: "We want to introduce a simple test which means at the end of two years of primary school we know whether or not children have mastered the skills they need to read.” It is rather shocking to read that a Conservative MP wants to know whether a child can read or not. This type of nannying interference is typical of the politics of the moment, and as an opposition party the conservatives should be offering an alternative not aping it. The over emphasis on the state to monitor (by turning the exam and test results into statistics) the development of children has removed this role from the parents. The most important people in a child’s education are its parents and they need to become more involved and not further alienated.

The Conservatives should be focusing on removing the state from the lives of children and allowing the teachers the freedom to teach the children in their care how they best see fit. It is noticeable, after all, that children are not only different but they develop and learn at a range of speeds. A teacher should be endowed with a wide range of skills so that these disparities are equalised in the way the children are taught.

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Blog Review 422

Written by Netsmith | Monday 19 November 2007

It would appear that not a great deal has changed at The Guardian since Mencken visited some 60 years ago .

Yes, if true, this really would be the most insane 'elf'n'safety innovation yet. 

On security, this idea doesn't look all that bright either. Instead of the proposed new rules protecting us they would seem, rather, to create inviting targets. 

On climate change , perhaps the best thing to do is simply wait and see? 

Another somewhat sceptical reading of the IPCC's latest report. Perhaps the best point about adaptation is that it would be gradual.

We hear a lot about market failure: all too little about government failure , as some hundreds of the unjustly imprisoned would like us to know. 

And finally , it looks as if Al Gore will finally make it to the Oval Office.  


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A lot of hot air

Written by Tom Clougherty | Tuesday 20 November 2007

On the train this weekend, I was sitting accross the aisle from a lady reading George Monbiot's new book.

Every few minutes, she put the book down and loudly pontificated on global warming. We should all stop flying, of course, and carbon emissions should be set at a world level (!) with everyone given the same individual ration (never mind the economics or enforceability of that one...).

I was sorely tempted to point out the error of her ways, when her husband stepped in and did the job for me. Eager to get on with reading his own book, he said: "You know darling, there would be a lot less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if people would just shut up!"


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Free trade in healthcare

Written by Rachel Patterson | Tuesday 20 November 2007

One of the biggest problems facing the US health system is that care simply costs more in America that almost anywhere else in the world. The high costs have a number of factors, but one of the largest is the amount of regulation and intervention by American governments and insurance companies. The National Center for Policy Analysis has just issued a report highlighting a response to these extremely high prices and a new trend in globalization: medical tourism. For years wealthy individuals from all over the world have been travelling to America for high quality care. Now, many medical tourists from America are travelling to Latin America or Southern Asia to receive nearly the same quality care but at affordable prices.

Obvious concerns arise about this practice, mainly over the quality of care. However, many of these nations are not that far behind the western world and the numbers of patients seeking this care continues to rise, evidence of the care they received. In addition to this new kind of travel, other medical services, like the analysis of lab results, can be done outside of the country to further utilize non-American expertise. We shall have to wait and see what changes like these do to the health industry, but here a free trade in healthcare might be just what’s needed to end the 'crisis'. Individuals can travel to wherever they can afford the care, and the professional health industry will thrive in less advantaged nations, aiding growth. Now, please, just don’t regulate it.

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Convenience medicine triggers competition

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Tuesday 20 November 2007

walmart.jpgPeople working in the healthcare industry are beginning to understand that customer convenience, the top concern in other industries, should have its place in healthcare too. The reason for this is often overlooked. It’s driven by demographics. With ever-growing workforce participation in developed countries, time is becoming more precious – and so looking after your health is squeezed among other chores. That’s the principal reason why waiting lists for medical treatments are a medieval plague and absolutely counterproductive.

This is where Convenience Medicine kicks in. It’s also the story behind Wal-Mart's recent heavy engagement in healthcare. The world champion of retailers has prodded others to offer most common drugs so cheap that even the Medicare Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme – introduced at huge cost by George W. Bush – is already looking rather obsolete. But it’s not only cheap drugs. Convenience care also offers a different approach to patients. Surveys show an extremely high rate of patient satisfaction with convenient care clinics.

Convenience care clinics provide reliable, immediate, low-cost healthcare to the general public, many of whom do not have access to traditional healthcare. With over 500 active clinics in the United States (projected to grow to 700 by the end of 2007), these clinics complement traditional medical services providers.

With the healthcare industry employing the biggest workforce in many countries and eating up increasingly vast chunks of government budgets, it is unsurprising that market forces are finally getting loose. It always struck me as hypocritical that those who insisted that healthcare was "morally different" were often the same people who shrugged off the industry's deplorable record of customer relations.

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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Tuesday 20 November 2007

Three women are in a changing room when a man runs through wearing nothing but a bag on his head. The first woman looks and says, “Well, it’s not my husband.” The second says, “No, it isn’t.” The third woman says, “He’s not even a member of this club.”

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