The demonic exorcise of democracy


“The Power of Brown compels you!" A seemingly common call, in this age, against the possessed masses as they wilfully follow their chosen course in life. Having successfully strapped teenagers to their desks in schools until the age of 18, after 2013 their spirits will be furthered crushed by announcements that they will have to undertake 50 hours of community service by the age of 19. This is to be done alongside the compulsory indoctrination ‘citizenship’ classes that they will be taking between 14-16 years old.

There is an evil spirit in us all, and the government has identified the surest way to eradicate it. This government is quite brazenly plotting the seizure of the teenagers’ young and fertile minds, brainwashing them into accepting every poisoned pill they put forth in the future. Young people are supposed to question authority so as to broaden their learning, yet what we are seeing with the compulsory education and youth services, is their enslavement to the ideological and moral virtues of New Labour. This would see the final nail in the Enlightenment and a retreat back to the Dark Ages when we have a politically driven morality foisted upon us. This has been evident over the past 12 years, with the continued attacks on hunting, smoking, drinking, obesity and liberty.

What a wonderful, green and unpleasant land this is creating. We will have to become rational actors of state doctrine, informing on those who do not conform. The pronouncements of the government will be taken as read and their actions will continually identify areas of life that need further shaping until we fully reflect their craven image of an ideal human. Only a clunking iron fist can rule over a society created in such a way, unless of course we are pliable after our ‘education’.

Genetically modified markets


The German’s have become the sixth member of the EU to introduce a ban on Genetically Modified maize crops. This may please the environmental lobby groups who can afford to influence the government, but is it really the best decision for Europe in the current climate?

Food prices have risen so rapidly recently that the annual expenditure of a family has grown by hundreds of Euros, having a dramatic impact on the quality of living for those on lower incomes. GM crops would have pushed food prices down and made life for many families more comfortable during the tough times.

One of the previous reasons that food prices were artificially high was due to pressure from environmental groups to convert vast amounts of crops into biofuel – much of which has now fortunately been reversed. The environmental lobby may wish to make a more sustainable use of natural resources but they neglect the main resource society has to offer. The people.

Our main priority should be ensuring that food prices are low enough to allow families to live comfortably within their means, and GM crops are the best way to achieve this. In turn, these families may then have enough disposable income to ensure their decisions are environmentally beneficial. For example, they could afford to insulate their homes or convert to a low emissions car.

Blog Review 932


Once again, how to encourage development? Hayek was right it seems (quelle surprise!)

The exciting shenanigans haven´t stopped yet in the financial markets. Goldman´s made a nice profit in the first quarter you will have seen in the newspaper. But where did December go?

Nice to see that some politicians don´t even pretend to understand economics.

Ouch this hurts. Something of a blow to climate science. The models are about as accurate as economic models.

My word, the things that surprise! Taxpayer funded organisation insists more taxpayer funding is necessary.

A glimpse at the intricacies of modern art.

And finally, an installment of not the Business Secretary´s diary.

Mobile phone-tapping


When our faux-fascist Home Secretary Jacqui Smith proposed that the UK authorities should keep a log of our phone calls, email and internet traffic, just in case we happened to be terrorists (or maybe drug pushers, or speeders, or litter bugs or something), there was a wave of public outrage that forced her to backtrack. Her argument was that the authorities wouldn't actually be recording our calls or snooping into the content of our emails. She and her bumblers in blue just wanted to know who we were corresponding with. They might be terrorists (or maybe drug pushers, or...), after all.

Of course, Jacqui's email and web visit demand has all been overtaken by EU legislation demanding that internet providers keep exactly that information for the authorities to fish through as and when they please. But what about phone calls?

Well, it's remarkably easy to snoop on people's mobile phone conversations. And to monitor, in real time, exactly where they are. You can even programme someone's mobile to record what they are saying. This video shows how bad guys can do this to you.

And what about the good guys? Well, there are all sorts of 'legal safeguards' when the security authorities try such things. But I wonder how many judges actually rule against such phonetaps when the police demand them? And is the division between good and bad guys even clear any more (I cite the recent G20 police-v-protesters footage in evidence).

Eamonn Butler's latest book, The Rotten State of Britain, is available to buy here.

Wanted: Teachers who understand economics


If there was not already enough reason to worry about the quality of economics teaching in our schools, last week’s call by the National Union of Teachers for a 10% pay rise has provided ample evidence.

At a time when prices are flat, the UK economy is shrinking rapidly and the Bank of England is warning the Government to keep a lid on public sector spending, it might seem to the casual observer – or the student of economics – that this was no time to be increasing the wages of public sector workers at all, let alone by a tenth.

Yet the Times Educational Supplement reports that: "The nut is calling for a pay rise of at least 10 per cent plus a bonus of almost £1,400 for the average teacher, despite the worsening economic conditions. Christine Blower, the union’s acting general secretary, has warned the Government not to use the recession as an “excuse" to offer a low pay package. While the demands of other teaching unions are not quite as exaggerated as those of the NUT, “They are all lobbying for an increase of more than 2.3 per cent this year".

It seems that Ms. Blower and her union friends could use an economics lesson.

In a free society, wages – like any other price - would be determined by supply and demand. Parents (who are ultimately the paying customers) would bid up wages until a sufficient quality and quantity of teachers were available to teach their children, while would-be teachers would bid each other down until there were no more would-be teachers of sufficient quality than there was parental demand. Thus, one would know whether wages were at the right level by examining whether supply and demand were in equilibrium: if the number of would-be teachers was falling it would suggest that prices were too low; if applications for teacher training courses in England have risen by 10% this year (as reported by the Training and Development Agency) then it would suggest that wages were (more than) sufficient.

Unfortunately, neither parents nor teachers are given such freedom. But in the absence of market mechanisms, the government can use overall rates of wage and price changes as a proxy. Thus, government should freeze public sector pay if money and prices are stable, and reduce wages if money and prices fall.

Indeed, falling wages are essential if unemployment is to be kept down. It stands to reason that if there is less money in the economy and if there is less money for government to spend, then there must be either lower wages or fewer waged. What is more, if prices are falling, wages can fall without undermining workers’ standards of living.

Sadly, the NUT and the other teaching unions still believe that they can apply political pressure to squeeze extra money out of government at the expense of other workers all across the UK, whose own wages are falling and whose jobs are in peril.

Even more sadly, there is a reason for this. All too often, they have been proved right.

Expenses give MPs multi-millionaire lifestyle


MPs’ generous expenses, index-linked pensions and second-home allowances give them a multi-millionaire lifestyle that their constituents could scarcely dream of, shock figures reveal today.

The effective income of the average MP is £319,165 – nearly 18 times the pay of the average voter, according to Bournemouth University tax expert Richard Teather, who has also produced a ‘fat-cat ranking’ for each of our Westminster representatives.

In his report, fTeather takes MPs’ basic salaries – ranging from £64,766 for backbenchers to £194,000 for the Prime Minister – and adds in their pension rights, another £17,357 for backbenchers, up to £52,059 for Gordon Brown.

But what is the value of all those expenses claims – from barbecues to bathplugs – that the rest of us would never have a hope of getting through our employers, never mind Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs? Teather says that to pocket what the average MP claims in expenses, free of tax and National Insurance, the rest of us would have to earn £228,215.

It all amounts to a total pay package worth £319,165 – and that is just the average. Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy tops the league table with a package of pay, pensions, and expenses worth £423,932 a year. That is more than 28 times the average income of his Torfaen constituents.

On the best interest rate currently available – 1.83% from Birmingham Midshires, you would need over £23 million (£23,165,683) to get an income matching Paul Murphy’s annual £423,932. You would need over £17 million (£17,440,710) to earn in interest what the average MP earns from Westminster.

To read the highlights of Richard Teather's research, click here

To read the coverage in the Mail, click here



While browsing the excellent free-market website Division of Labour, I stumbled upon an interesting page called From ABBA to Zeppelin: Using Music to Teach Economics. In order to teach fundamental aspects of economics, lyrics from selected popular tunes are examined with an economic assignment for the listener. The lessons range from using Oasis’ “Cigarettes and Alcohol" as an example of the discouraged unemployed to rebutting Alvin Lee’s cries for income distribution in Ten Years After’s “I’d Love to Change the World." Although slightly gimmicky in nature, the lessons are well thought out and range various topics in economics while the lyrics cover enough genres to hold a sixth-form or college student’s interest. One of my favourite lessons uses “Thousands are Sailing" by The Pogues to tackle the topic of immigration:

The island it is silent now
But the ghosts still haunt the waves
And the torch lights up a famished man
Who fortune could not save

Did you work upon the railroad
Did you rid the streets of crime
Were your dollars from the white house
Were they from the five and dime

Did the old songs taunt or cheer you
And did they still make you cry
Did you count the months and years
Or did your teardrops quickly dry

Assignment: What is the effect of emigration on the country of origin? What is the effect of immigration on the host country? Do you think most immigrants work (for example on the railroad, or as police officers) or do you think they take government assistance (dollars from the White House)? How quickly do immigrants assimilate into a new country: is it “months and years" or do their teardrops quickly dry?

Who said economics has to be the “dull science?" I’ll be waiting for the lesson where they explore fluctuations in commodity prices using The Rolling Stones’ 1971 hit “Brown Sugar." Or wait, maybe that song is about something else…