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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


Written by Tom Clougherty | Thursday 08 May 2008

From an usually funny email I received this week:

Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science.

The new element, Governmentium  (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- to 6 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

 In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

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Remnants of culture

Written by Steve Bettison | Thursday 08 May 2008

Speaking to an audience at the Palace of Westminster on policing in the 21st Century, Baroness James of Holland Park (better known as the crime novelist P D James) said that Britons are increasingly living in segregated ghettoes and bedevilled by political correctness. Society, as she sees it, has become fractured beyond belief with a strong commitment to the immanent community yet with little for those beyond it. She also adds that, "mutual respect and understanding and recognition of our common humanity cannot be nurtured in isolation."

The UK’s 21st Century society is one that has been largely moulded by government, all the more so in urban areas. The idea of community has been taken from us by successive governments who, convinced that they "know best", have transferred power from the proverbial coalface to their own towers in the sky. Government weapons such as political correctness and multiculturalism have reduced 'communities' to small pockets of familiarity. Man has a predilection to comfort and trust though immediate relationships, which cannot be replaced by central government and the dictats of multiculturalism. It has to evolve through the interactions of those on the ground. Once this ever-changing and adapting civil society has been supplanted by the state, people retreat into atomised safety. We are now seeing across Britain with the breakdown of society.

The ties that once bound are now in Whitehall, as the government is attempting, through language and education, to take control of every aspect of our lives. As Baroness James stated, political correctness is "a pernicious if risible authoritarian attempt at linguistic and social control". The government backs this further with legislation that criminalises us all and silently celebrates the death of community and the atomisation of society. They seek for us all to be reliant upon them.

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Quote of the day

Written by Wordsmith | Thursday 08 May 2008

What the government gives, it must first take away

John S. Coleman

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Blog Review 590

Written by Netsmith | Wednesday 07 May 2008

Another in the long running series of dead economists explain the modern world. No, legislating maximum interest rates is a very silly idea.

This might provide us with a clue or two about the current state of government. There appears to be a link between the clarity of prose and effective management.

All that talk of resourcing and plan rollouts leads to this.

Of course, even clarity doesn't stop some politicians from having very dumb ideas.

Slippery slope arguments are bad logic: they can still be true though.

It's amazing what can be found out when a reporter picks up the telephone to ask a question or two.

And finally, the answer we've all been waiting for: why so few reporters do pick up the phone to ask a question or two.

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Why Irish eyes are smiling

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler | Wednesday 07 May 2008

Once again, Ireland seems to be the destination of choice for companies driven out of the UK by high taxes. Last week, reports Dominic White, WPP, Glaxo, International Power and AstraZeneca all hinted that they could follow Shire and United Business Media's plans to switch domicile to Ireland.

Why the rush? Well, Corporation tax is 30 percent in the UK, compared to just 12.5 percent in Ireland. After Alastair Darling's not-a-word-of-consultation attack on non-doms, many companies feel they just can't plan ahead under such a capricious regime. The Irish Development Agency has seized its chance and is actively courting UK decision-makers.

White might also have mentioned that Ireland is near. It's in the Euro area and part of the EU. There is no language barrier. Ireland has a well-educated, cultured population. It's green and pleasant (if a bit rainy in parts). The peace process has eroded the old national resentments and made the life and cultures of Ireland and the UK much more integrated.

With such stiff competition on its doorstep, why can't the UK government see what it must do?

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Protectionist rhetoric debunked

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Wednesday 07 May 2008

Progressives all over the West – and most fiercely the two Democratic presidential candidates – tend to blame globalization for everything because it's an easy escape from political accountability. Protectionist posturing and scrapping free trade agreements is suddenly all the rage. But research shows it’s not primarily globalization but the worldwide skills revolution that is driving change in the world's most important economies.

  • Capital is crossing borders worldwide but 90 percent of fixed investment worldwide is domestic and is always attracted by local markets.
  • It's wrong to blame globalisation for the decline in manufacturing jobs in developed countries, since the global US share of manufacturing output has indeed slightly increased since 1980, because productivity doubled.
  • Developing countries experience the same change. China lost 25 million manufacturing jobs between 1994 and 2004, which is ten times the US loss.
  • Information is travelling 15,000 miles in a moment, but what is decisive is whether the person on the receiving end has the capacity to understand it.
  • Human capital has become the main source of wealth creation, as addressed in our 2003 report The People Economy.

As David Brooks wrote in The New York Times:

The central process driving this is not globalisation. It's the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalised sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.

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Is New Labour breathing its last?

Written by Simon Maynard | Wednesday 07 May 2008

Over at the Spectator Coffee House blog Fraser Nelson has some typically cogent observations on Brown’s likely future course.  Perhaps most interesting, however, are his thoughts on the Parliamentary Labour Party.  He argues that ‘the Blairites have lost the argument with the party’, with the result that ‘we can now see orphaned Blairites and a resurgent Old Labour arguing over future direction.’

If the old Labour guard truly is in the ascendancy, then the key question surely is whether Brown has the ability – or indeed the inclination – to re-assert the importance of Blairite market reforms?  Given his own proclivity for centralizing, as well as his embattled position this seems highly doubtful: but does this represent the death-knell of the New Labour project?  Or merely a dormant phase prior to a re-awakening under a ‘post-Blairite’ (read Miliband) leadership?

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Jason Jones joins the ASI

Written by Tom Clougherty | Wednesday 07 May 2008

Jason is a fourth year political science student at Brigham Young University, focusing on international relations. He will start law school after completing his undergraduate studies next April.

Throughout the last few years, Jason has worked in various jobs relating to politics and economics. During the last year, he worked as an international relations teaching assistant, as the legislative intern with the Governor of Utah, and as a research aide. He also spent two years in Brazil from 2004-2006.

His interests include travelling and sports, mainly basketball and American football, although he developed a love for the beautiful game while living in Brazil.

He looks forward to promoting the free-market principles of the ASI.

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Blog Review 589

Written by Netsmith | Tuesday 06 May 2008

Looking at the glorious attention to detail of the UK press. Dizzy and Croydonian note that Johann Hari seems not to know much about London. Tim Worstall (of this ilk) gets sweary about a diffferent mistake.

So, just what is your view of government then? Knowing that will lead you to a decision about its correct size.

Introducing a new word: ecophobia. More on those new light bulbs too.

Why we really don't want regulation of the airwaves, well, other than regulation of the property rights to them.

Extraordinarily bad policy responses department. This'll help the food shortages, won't it, removing the ability of farmers to insure the prices they will receive for their crops?

Translating the things said in financial markets.

And finally, at last! A Labour Minister with the right idea about the unemployed.

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A small idea for the Prime Minister

Written by Tim Worstall | Tuesday 06 May 2008

Dear Prime Minister,

Might I suggest a little something on a subject dear to your heart? We are all waiting for your expected announcement this week on the likely classification of cannabis, should it be upgraded to a Class B drug from the current Class C? We're waiting breathlessly, of course (those of us who indulge perhaps more breathlessly than others) to see whether you're going to ignore the advice of your own hand picked advisors, whether you have bought the entirely spurious arguments about increased drug-induced psychosis and indeed whether you think the higher THC contents in modern 'erb make it more dangerous than previously. That last really confuses me I'm afraid: we've long had alcohol that comes in varying strengths, from beer to wine to whiskey, and consumers seem not to unintentionally down pints of whisky nor purchase beer by the 25ml shot, so I'm not sure what anyone thinks the problem is here.

But anyway, on to my suggestion. Might we try the Dutch solution?

"Coffee shops", where small amounts of cannabis have been legally bought and smoked since 1972, have become a major industry and a popular tourist attraction in cities such as Amsterdam.

Tax on the 265,000kg of soft drugs sold last year in the 730 cafés netted the government £315 million.

Rounding out our numbers, and ignoring the point that we have many more people than Holland, currently that £300 million in tax revenue would keep the governmental machine running for an entire five hours! A small enough contribution you might think, but every little counts, does it not? We might also think of the spending savings: the upgrade will raise the possible sentence from 2.5 years to five in jail for simple possession. Given the 3 million regular tokers we are thought to have, do your finances actually contain enough money to cover that potential 7.5 million man years of jail space you might need?

I mention it only as an option, of course: I do understand that you "wish to send a message". It's just that, well, to send a message, umm, don't you know anyone in the advertising industry? I'm sure they'd be delighted to help at considerably lower cost.

yours etc.

Tim Worstall

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