The election results

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altSo Labour have been decimated and quite right too. Although I am no fan of Cameron’s incoherent stance on Europe, it is certainly preferable to Labour’s machinations since Blair came to power.

UKIP have done well despite the shoddy folding of many ballot papers, while the Liberal Democrats have not benefited from Labour's collapse. These moves are clearly a direct call for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and Europe.

Those across the political spectrum calling for further integration will argue that voters are in fact not voting on Europe but on National issues. Certainly given the drubbing that the Labour Party has received suggests that this is the case. Yet surely this is an even further rejection of the European project as it stands: even the elected face of this Behemoth is not a primary factor in the legitimacy for the voters of this country. This is reflected in the consistent low turnouts at European elections.

As an aside, during the BBC’s coverage the question was asked: "Why would voters choose the fascist BNP rather than the left wing Communists given the recession?" This is wrongheaded as the BNP is closer to what many in the left wing of the Labour Party would vote for. It is the failure of the Labour Party that accounts for the BNP gaining two seats.

The result is clear: it is a vote against Brown and a vote against closer ties with the European Union.

Women in politics

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altAs Gordon Brown has lost most of the women from his cabinet by one means or another there has been much talk of the male cabal of Brown’s inner circle control. Most prominently former Europe minister Caroline Flint has stepped down accusing Brown of treating her as window dressing, while others have been pressured to leave for a mixture incompetence and corruption. The Blair babes are no more.

Flint is sticking the knife into the Prime Minister pretty deep, with many political commentators suggesting that the anti-female nature of politics is indicative of the necessary overhaul required of the political system. This though could be a distraction from the issue at hand. Perhaps Brown was and is anti-woman, but the real issue is not to open up the cabal but to shut it down.

The size and scope of government needs severely restricting to the point where it matters little whether the Prime Minister is a man or a woman, a time when national politics is restricted by the defense of the rights of man and woman; where the people can do anything except when it inhibits the freedom of others, while the government can only do that which ensures this freedom is upheld.

Such a state of affairs is possible. The Magna Carta was signed in this country. Perhaps it was never realized, but logic demands people to recognize that the problem is not restricted to Gordon Brown, but permeates the institution of Parliament. Rich and poor alike need protecting from the politicians and the people that believe in them.

With the fundamentals of freedom enshrined in law and protected by a watchful citizenry, we will all be free to compete and cooperate without the strictures of government intervention. This is the only freedom that women should really aspire to; outside of this we are all still stuck in the Panopticon.

Blog Review 785

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An amusing point about the professional political classes.

Some journalists also seem to have an odd idea of what is normal.

Yes, they really do want to attack home schooling.

Are we all becoming more socialist? Or simply more cooperative?

A guide to doing business in Russia. No wonder it's a poor country.

Might there be a better way of choosing the chief executive of our largest company?

And finally, why alcohol is like petrol.

 

The Mancession

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There's evidence that, entirely contrary to what people like Harriet Harman have been trying to tell us, it is men who are bearing the brunt of this recession in terms of job losses.

The jobless figures for May showed unemployment at 9.4%, a 25-year high. But while rates for men and women were roughly equal in 2007, 10.5% of men are now unemployed, compared with 8% of women. Four of every five jobs lost in the past two years had been held by men. The gender gap is the largest ever seen in US labour statistics, which go back to 1948.

“What’s happening in this recession is unprecedented," said Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan. “It’s structurally different because the job losses are so concentrated among men."

Blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and construction are haemorrhaging while white-collar work in increasingly female-dominated, often publicly funded fields, such as education and health, are holding steady or growing.

As you can see a large part of this is down to occupational segregation. Further, it's not just the types of jobs, services against manufacturing, but it's also the sector, public or private. Public sector jobs are more secure, less likely to disappear in a recession.

Which leads us to a further conclusion, similarly entirely at odds with what Harriet Harman and her ilk try to tell us. That the gender pay gap (at least, not all of it) is not due to discrimination. It's due to entirely rational sorting and the choices made by individuals.

Just as more dangerous jobs pay a wage premium to compensate for the risks of injury so do or should those more insecure jobs pay a premium. Or if you prefer, workers will, if they are risk averse, choose a lower paid but more secure job. Which means that if women are preferentially employed in the lower risk public sector then womens' wages will be lower than mens'.

No discrimination required, just individuals deciding what they prefer by their own lights.

Regulating e-cigarettes

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altRegulation has an odd impact on industries; take the cigarette industry for example. In a quest to stop people from smoking governments have legislated and regulated to point where the purchase of e-cigarettes are both socially and financially preferable to traditional cigarettes.

You would think this would make them happy. After all e-cigarettes do not produce second-hand smoke and aren’t carcinogenic. These are after all the ‘evils’ for which tobacco industries and smokers have been persecuted. But true to form, there are moves afoot to regulate e-cigarettes out of the market in the US, backed by The American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

If they do ban e-cigarettes then we will be on a slippery slope to the dangers of prohibition. As things stand, the wonders of human ingenuity, has thrown up a solution to the heavy hand of government, allowing those who can stand the indignity of having to smoke fake cigarettes, to do so without the some of the negative externalities as have existed in the past.

The logic of many involved in the anti-smoking movement leads us to prohibition, the reality of which will involve the balance of power shifting from consumers (who are increasingly becoming criminals) to the vagaries of the black market and the increased dangers and deaths that result.

The Investing Revolutionaries

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This week booksmith recommends The Investing Revolutionaries. Marvin Zonis, professor emeritus,  at the University of Chicago has desribed it as: “The money managers that tell you they can ‘beat the market’ are the tyrants of Wall Street. Here’s a straight-talking yet powerful guide to growing your wealth through passive stock market investing." Click here to find out more.

Blog Review 784

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Why the European Parliament election doesn't actually mean all that much.

Are publicly funded bodies actually allowed to do this in an election?

Perhaps we should just have fewer politicians if this is the sort of language they inflict upon us?

This is simply absurd, even though it is in fact true.

Complex and confusing but debunking the latest rubbish report on how many hundreds of thousands are already being killed by climate change.

If your basic contention in a report is that medical costs drive ever more people into bankruptcy then you really should mention that your own research shows that fewer people are going bankrupt because of medical expenses in your report. No?

And finally, Gordon Brown becomes a video star in Germany.