A few stunts from Romania to help Brown hold on to Crewe and Nantwich.
"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
A few stunts from Romania to help Brown hold on to Crewe and Nantwich.
This doesn't just apply in Latin America of course. The background to the Chilean reform of their pension scheme.
On that embryology bill in Parliament. We've been creating chimeras a great deal longer than many seem to think.
Could there be anything worse than climate change? How about trying to solve climate change through the courts: after all, it worked so well for asbestosis, didn't it?
From the history books: the economic organisation of a POW camp.
Political advice: how to lose the next election.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the long serving Europhile Prime Minister of Luxembourg and chair of the regular euro-area meetings, has claimed that EU finance ministers are considering hiking taxes to limit what he has dubbed the scandal and social scourge of corporate bonuses.
With rising inflation, times are relatively hard for many people in the EU. However, it would be an unforgivable mistake to cap corporate bonuses. It would be sure to push even more business out of the continent.
If the EU want help the relatively poor in Europe by cutting inflation they should bin the complex and expensive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which keeps European food prices at artificially high levels, while forcing people into abject poverty in the developing world.
Although unlikely, it would be a revelation to see bold leadership from EU bureaucrats, biting the political hand that feeds them, scrapping the CAP and leaving alone the talented individuals whose business it is to make Europe wealthy.
Of course if they really want to cut excess waste, or link remuneration with productivity as Joaquín Almunia (EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner) has suggested, they could offer their resignations, shut down the behemoth and in so doing save the poor citizens of Europe billions of pounds each year.
There could hardly be a stronger contrast between the response of the Burmese government to the typhoon there, and that of the Chinese government to last week's earthquake. Terrible pictures have been shown of both disasters; the difference is that the pictures from Burma were taken without the consent of the ruling junta, who have down-played the tragedy to their own people and to the world beyond.
The Chinese, on the other hand, have invited the world to share their grief, and have not minimized the scale of the disaster to their own people or to the world. They have acted with commendable efficiency themselves, and have readily accepted offers of help. The pictures from China have been heart-rending, reminding us all of Adam Smith's observations that our very humanity leads us to empathize with the emotions of others, sharing their sorrows and their joys. The pictures remind us that the common humanity we all share is more important than the political differences which separate us.
Perhaps it is a sign of Chinese self-confidence that they can show us the catastrophe which befell them with an openness unthinkable even a decade ago. China has grown more self-assured as it has grown richer, and when it rebuilds it will probably do so with earthquake resistant buildings, as has been done in California and Japan. It is rich countries which can afford to do this, as Alex Singleton points out in the Telegraph. Those who decry economic growth might reflect on the fact that natural disasters fall hardest on poorer countries which lack the resources to plan against them or to cope with them when they strike.
Might someone provide the Prime Minister with a history lesson or two?
Or perhaps logic lessons would be more appropriate? If violent porn and violent crime are substitutes (as seems likely ) rather than complements, then its banning will lead to more abused and dead people.
After a year at the Taxpayers' Alliance, what's going on there and what's it all about?
Proof that America is a continent, not a country.
Public choice theory raises its ugly head again.
And finally, yes, we do hope this is fiercely deadpan.
It is of course foolhardiness to the point of madness to criticise the developmental views of an economist who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize but despite my reputation as a level and clear headed sorta guy I'm afraid that it has to be done with the recently announced ideas of Muhammd Yunus.
Yes, indeed, food prices have risen and yes indeed, there are things we can do about this. But the specific suggestions seem, well, odd would be a polite way of putting it.
Of the six points, getting the money together for any necessary emergency food aid is uncontroversial, aid for seed and fertiliser also seems sensible.
Crop subsidies and export controls in many important countries are distorting markets and raising prices; they should be eliminated. In particular, subsidies for ethanol that made sense when oil cost $20 a barrel cannot be justified at $120 a barrel - nor can subsidies for oil.
Indeed, quite so. Fourthly, of course we shouldn't stop the long-term search for solutions to poverty and matters environmental and fifthly, of course we want to continue and extend the green revolution: most especially to the standard crops of Africa. The sixth sounds good but of course has no chance whatsoever of becoming reality:
Sixth, to help fund these important initiatives, I propose that each oil-exporting country create a "poverty and agriculture fund", contributing a fixed amount - perhaps 10% - of the price of every barrel of oil exported. This would be a small fraction of the windfall they have been gaining from higher prices. The funds would be managed by the founding nations and devoted to overcoming poverty, improving agricultural yields, supporting research for new technology, and creating social businesses to help solve the problems of the poor, such as health care, education and women's empowerment.
A ratio of five decent if uncontroversial ideas to one that's very odd indeed is a clear (if not unprecedented actually) advance on most political interventions, so why am I saying that they're odd? Because of this part:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon deserves credit for convening the leaders of 27 UN agencies and programs to organize a coordinated response. They have agreed to establish a high-level task force under Ban's leadership, with sound immediate objectives. A comprehensive global plan should include the following six elements.
Yes, it's that global comprehensive plan part (leave aside the giggle induced by asking the UN General Assembly to solve problems). Yunus received his Nobel for both noting and then proving that top down development doesn't work: that bottom up development does. He started Grameen Bank, by far the most successful of the micro-lending institutions. Lending out $30 here and $100 there to people who wish to improve their own lives works: that's why he's lauded, for he proved this.
The oddity is that someone who has spent decades proving this to be true now turns around and says that the solution to such problems is in fact a top down one, detailed planning from the centre. As I say, most odd.
Says Barack Obama:
I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history. And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery.
Very well said. But if well done is better that well said, why did he:
If the free market is the engine of economic prosperity, why hit the brakes and turn off the vehicle? The enlarging free-trade block in Europe, British economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, economists across the world, and the end of the cold war, all show what Adam Smith said in the first place — that the invisible hand, not central government, should guide our economies.
Simon Heffer is usually a little bit too angry at the modern world for my tastes, but every once in a while his anger is justified. Last week the government was finally forced to do the sensible thing: make up for its abolition of the 10p tax rate by raising the personal allowance. Which is great, apart from the fact that even this minor tax cut will be financed by yet more borrowing (and will apparently only last for one year). In his column in Saturday's Telegraph, Heffer hit the nail on the head:
The £2.7 billion loan, at a time when we are grotesquely over-borrowed, is the final sign not merely that this man has no idea about sound economics, but that he [Gordon Brown] is unfit to see the country through hard times. Total public spending is around £617 billion a year. It would not even have constituted what accountants call a rounding error to make a saving of £2.7 billion in a total of that magnitude, yet Mr Brown could not bring himself to sack a few thousand from his overmanned client state, or trim spending elsewhere, like the private sector is being forced to do thanks to his mistakes.
Exactly. Any sensible organistion would seek to reduce costs and make efficiency savings in the midst of a downturn, but that never seems to occur to governments. A new report from the Taxpayers' Alliance has found that there are now 1,162 QUANGOs in the UK, running at an annual cost to the taxpayer of £64 billion. Couldn't Brown start by doing a little pruning there?
And everything old shall become new again: more echoes of history in the modern world.
There might be something worse than the operation of orthodox economic policies in Latin America: the operation of heterodox economic policies in Latin America.
Might it be that America's much vaunted higher education system is not quite as it seems? With certain effects for our own?
A report from the by-election frontlines. Just who is the toff in Crewe and Nantwich?
If this is correct, that car emissions targets are being set by manufacturers' fleet averages, then it looks like a direct attack on the small luxury car makers.
Praise from this particular source might not be worth having.
And finally, a very personal delivery service. (Netsmith wants to know though, how did they get Eliott Spitzer to star in the ad?)