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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

Climate change is not a 'holocaust'

Written by Philip Salter | Sunday 06 January 2008

gore.jpgIn the New York Times, John Tierney's first column of the year gets off on the right foot, rebuffing some of the abject lunacy surrounding the subject of climate change. Hopefully this is the first sign of a changing of the tide, with the celebrity of the moment, Al Gore, cast adrift in his ship of fools, preaching his ego-driven environmental evangelicalism into the gentle breeze.

Last year, it was distressing to read and listen to the constant rhetorical allusions by Gore and others of their climate agenda to the horrors of the Holocaust. This blinkered dogmatism of the environmentalist herd can be charted back to 1989, and yes, to Al Gore when he wrote an article for the New York Times entitled "An Ecological Kristallnacht", in which he used Holocaust tragedy to defend his contentious scaremongering.

Last year's award to Gore of the Nobel Peace Prize was especially grating because one of the many deserving candidates was Irena Sendler, a 97-year-old Polish woman who personally saved around 2500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw concentration camps. Having stood up against the fascist state, she continued to suffer suspicion under the communist one, devoting herself to looking after children, a life truly deserving of the Prize.

To put Gore's position in context one only needs to look at his argument. The 1989 article mentioned above rests upon his assurance to us that temperatures would rise by five degrees within our lifetimes. This doomsday prediction was as preposterous then as the current apocalyptic revelations are now. To compare such unsubstantiated nonsense with the devastating events of the holocaust is nothing short of inhumane.

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President Obama?

Written by Tom Clougherty | Sunday 06 January 2008

With Barack Obama's resounding victory in the Iowa Democratic caucus, Hillary Clinton's presidential nomination no longer looks so inevitable. Indeed, if Obama can follow through with a victory in the New Hampshire primary next week, he will replace Clinton as clear favourite for the Democratic nomination. Watching Obama's victory speech, it is hard not to be impressed, even inspired:

He is a remarkable speaker – more reminiscent of the presidents of Hollywood blockbusters than of the incumbent – and his appeals to hope, change and unity are what have brought so many young people, independents, and even disillusioned Republicans to the polls in his favour.

But being a good president requires more than just rhetoric, and now that Obama is no longer an underdog, he will need to firm up his policy positions if he wants to make it all the way to the White House. That said, he would be a very tough candidate for the Republicans to beat. A Hillary nomination would give them a much better chance of hanging on to the White House.

US politics is going to be fascinating to watch in 2008.

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Blog Review 468

Written by Netsmith | Saturday 05 January 2008

We'd just like to point out that you are currently reading Britain's number 1 economics blog. (Yes yes yes, it's a tendentious measurement method, not very accurate and we don't always talk about economics. But we're still number 1! Hurrah!)

On a much sadder note, Andrew Olmstead, an American blogger and US Army Major, was killed in Iraq. He left a blog to be posted read it.

Greenpeace were for biofuels before they were against them . Indeed, we could say that we're spending fortunes on biofuels because Greenpeace were for them before the scientists started pointing out they should be against them.

Shades of the European Union here, who famously pay Friends of the Earth to lobby the European Union. The expansion of big government is driven at least in part by the government funding of lobbyists whose job is to campaign for more government spending.  

And Dizzy has another update on where all that money being spent goes: try not to wince as you read it. 

Some seem to think that Adam Smith and John Nash were on opposite sides of the question. Not so.

And finally , the loneliest Lenin in the world. 

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Common Error No. 1

Written by Dr Madsen Pirie | Saturday 05 January 2008

[This is the first in a new series of blogs to be published over the coming months. Each piece will look at a common error people make about free markets and the free societiy, and explain why they are mistaken. We hope readers of this blog will be able to make use of these arguments themselves, and in doing so convince others of the overwhleming case for liberty - Ed.]

1. "Only the guilty have anything to fear from surveillance or police searches."

The cry of oppressive and intrusive authority has always been that "only the guilty have anything to fear." It isn't true. Even the innocent have to fear an over-mighty and intrusive state. It has always been the case in free societies that each individual has a private domain which he or she is allowed to keep private. It's not that it holds guilty secrets, but that it holds private things that are no-one else's business.

Why should the state be allowed to open our mail, to snoop on our electronic communications, to tap our phones and to spy on us with its cameras? We are right to wonder why an innocent state would want such information about us. The mere possession of such information poses, in itself, the risk of abuse. Those with access to it are put in positions of power over others; the information could be used to blackmail or intimidate. It need not be about illegal activity, merely that which would cause embarrassment if it were known.

In free societies we put limits on the law. We deny it the right to snoop on the off-chance of finding guilt, but require it to show good cause for its investigation. We demand that it states what crime is suspected, rather than allowing it general warrants to see what it might find. We are not servants and underlings to be ordered about and kept in place by a mighty state: rather are we free citizens who sustain that state to serve us. It has no right to powers beyond those we accord it, and we do not choose to give it the right to know more about us than it needs to know in order to serve and protect us. 


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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Saturday 05 January 2008

Joe the lawyer died suddenly, at the age of 45. He got to the gates of Heaven, and the angel standing there said, "We've been waiting a long time for you."
"What do you mean?" he replied. "I'm only 45, in the prime of my life. Why did I have to die now?"
"45? You're not 45, you're 82," replied the angel.
"Wait a minute. If you think I'm 82, then you have the wrong guy. I'm only 45. I can show you my birth certificate."
"Hold on. Let me go check," said the angel, and disappeared inside. After a few minutes the angel returned. "Sorry, but by our records you are 82. I checked all the hours you have billed your clients, and you have to be 82..."

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That Fair Tax thing

Written by Tim Worstall | Saturday 05 January 2008

Now that Mike Huckabee has actually won something in his quest to be the next President of the United States it's time to have a look at one or two of his economic and taxation ideas. As the basic one is the "Fair Tax", why not that? This is the idea that all other Federal taxes will be swept away and replaced by a 23% sales tax.

This is, to put it kindly, insane. Don't just take my word for it though, for detailed reasons as to why it is try Bruce Bartlett

The idea's been around for a few years now and from writings elsewhere I've had my share of ALL CAPS emails berating me when I've tried to point out the obvious errors in the idea. 

Even if the rate proposed is correct (it isn't, it'll be much higher) the idea of collecting the entire tax take at the point of the retail transaction simply won't work. We're all well aware of small traders offering two rates for the job, cash and on the books. We've now extended that to the entire economy, as we don't have the chain of people adding VAT on each part of the value they add: only on that final sale to the consumer.

Not that there's any chance of Congress enacting such a tax system, whoever becomes President, but it is slightly alarming that the Republican front-runner at this point is advocating such a system. Which of the two alternative explanations for the advocacy of the idea you find more alarming is up to you: that Huckabee doesn't know the problems with the scheme or does and is still proposing it. 

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On the twelfth day of Christmas...

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler | Saturday 05 January 2008

My true love sent to me: twelve drummers drumming. It probably means the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed. The number of Gordon Brown's apostles is subsiding daily, after the sound of the election drums back in October proved a false alarm. Had he called an election then, he could have won it, though it might have been close. Now, I agree with Trevor Kavenagh of The Sun - he can never win an election again.

That's a good reason to suppose that the next UK general election will be as late as it possibly can be - in the first half of 2010. But I met Sir Robert Worcester the other day and he's still staking money on June 4, 2009, arguing that what goes down must come up, a year's a long time in politics, etc. Anyway, the prospect of overweening politicians losing their seats is always something to look forward to, whenever it comes.

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Blog Review 467

Written by Netsmith | Friday 04 January 2008

Iain Dale gets a most disturbing email from Kenya . Yes it is as bad, if not worse, than you are already imagining.

Pity poor Jeremy Leggett. The man arguing for greater subsidy of renewable energy technologies manages to prove that subsidies are not needed.

Interested in winning $100? Know anything about anthropology? Willing to learn something about it to win $100? Try this essay competition

To prove that Netsmith is not a train spotting policy wonk type, we bring you station blogging

The true problem with weather alarmism (which is the practice of using any weather anomaly to prove the existence of climate change). 

Germany isn't racing towards the smoking ban quite like other European countries. Wonder why

And finally , if only all politicial commentary were this cogent and well argued. 

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More money does make you happier!

Written by Tim Worstall | Friday 04 January 2008

A really rather interesting result here. Various of the Great and Good are asked what they changed their minds upon over the couse of 2007. Daniel Kahneman says:

most dramatic result is that when the entire range of human
living standards is considered, the effects of income on
a measure of life satisfaction (the "ladder of life") are
not small at all.  We had thought income effects are
small because we were looking within countries.  The
GDP differences between countries are enormous, and highly
predictive of differences in life satisfaction.  In
a sample of over 130,000 people from 126 countries, the correlation
between the life satisfaction of individuals and the GDP
of the country in which they live was over .40 – an
exceptionally high value in social science.

As we know, we're endlessly told that more money doesn't make us happier and thus that we should get off the hedonic treadmil, stop working so hard and smell the flowers a little more. Indeed, we're told that our positional struggle for more outrageous goods with which to keep passing the Jones' makes us unhappy. But as Megan McArdle says , this new position rather changes that:

The positional competition may not be doing you any good directly, but
if it raises national GDP, it will indirectly help you, and everyone
else in the country.

Another way of putting it. As so often in economic (or social) questions there are two opposing forces at work. It might even be true that our looking around at the baubles that other have makes us unhappy. But the result of that is that we do indeed strive and work more, creating greater wealth in toto, and living in a society which is richer in that manner makes us happier. And when a Nobel Laureate in Economics tells me that the latter effect outweighs the former then I'm inclined! just look at that Lamborghini over there....


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Joke of the Day

Written by Jokesmith | Friday 04 January 2008

A man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Just before his execution, the man who flips the switch asked the murderer if he had any last requests. The murderer replied with tears in his eyes.

"Yes. There is one last thing that I want. When the switch is flipped, can I hold my defence lawyer's hand?" 

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