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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

Blog Review 464

Written by Netsmith | Tuesday 01 January 2008

We're often told that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear: an untruth that this little survey of the American legal system might help to dispel.

On leaving America

But above all I'll miss the Idea of America: an idea that, however
scuffed, endures and retains it's extraordinary power: an idea that
every man is endowed with the right to pursue his own idea of happiness
(every woman too, of course) provided that quest does not impinge upon
the rights of others. That remains a revolutionary concept worth
defending against enemies domestic and foreign.

A damn fine idea it is too. 

Gordon Brown's latest ideas about the NHS mean that it should be privatised. 

Yet more proof that Hayek was right about spontaneous order. 

As part of a book review : WWII was in part because of an ignorance of this liberal economics thing. 

Is it really necessary to overturn the most basic laws of property simply for an art exhibition

And finally, from the Department of Surprising Research Results. 

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Happy New Year!

Written by Anonymous | Tuesday 01 January 2008


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Joke of the day

Written by Jokesmith | Tuesday 01 January 2008

A young lady came home from a date, rather sad. She told her mother, "Jeff proposed to me an hour ago."
"Then why are you so sad?" her mother asked.
"Because he also told me he was an atheist. Mom, he doesn't even believe there's a hell."
Her mother replied, "Marry him anyway. Between the two of us, we'll show him how wrong he is."

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Biting the Archbishop

Written by Dr Madsen Pirie | Tuesday 01 January 2008

Not everyone agrees with Jeremy Clarkson, but the man does have a way with words. He doesn't seem to have thought much of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Christmas Day sermon.

Hmm. I'm not sure that I can take a lecture on greed from a man who heads one of the western world's richest institutions. As we huddle under a patio heater to stay warm while having a cigarette in the rain, his bishops are living in palatial splendour with banqueting halls, wondering where to invest the next billion.

He disputes the Archbishop's exhortation to shun patio heaters and Range Rovers "to protect the planet," pointing out that millions more have died in religious wars than were ever killed by global warming. The full article is worth reading, if only for the new year entertainment value of its pithy prose. It's a pity that it won't get the same widespread and reverent coverage as the pious woffle the Archbishop came out with.

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On the eighth day of Christmas...

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler | Tuesday 01 January 2008

My true love sent to me: eight maids a-milking. In the Christmas song, A Partridge in a Pear Tree, these may signify the eight beatitudes or blessings in the Sermon on the mount: blessings to the poor, the meek, those who mourn, the just, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers, and those who suffer persecution.

But what of the milkmaids? Well, they and the cheesemakers are hardly blessed, thanks to a Catch-22 conspiracy of politics and interest groups. Britain's Office of Fair Trading has claimed that the big four supermarkets colluded to keep the prices of milk and dairy products artificially high, pocketing an estimated £270m in the process.

The supermarkets look like being forced to stump up huge fines, though they regard it all as a bit rich. After years of everyone complaining that they screwed down farm gate prices from their suppliers so low that it was threatening the future of the dairy industry, the supermarkets decided it was time to get together and be a bit more generous to the farmers. Prices were duly put up and...then the whistles started blowing. In business, you just can't win.

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Blog Review 463

Written by Netsmith | Monday 31 December 2007

That whirring sound you can hear is JS Mill spinning in his grave after a spectacularly stupid piece at Comment in Free today. Mild insults here, an entirely appropriate response here. The piece itself is here. Worth noting a comment by "olching" which mentions a meta-study done a few years back. The only effect found upon children of their parents' smoking at home was a reduction in lung cancer in later years. So even the "for the children" trope doesn't work here. "Health facism" was a phrase coined for a reason. And things were very different a century ago.

More stupidity , this time from the private sector, the RIAA. They're suing a man for copying his own, legally purchased, CDs onto his computer. They might indeed win "Dumbass of the Year 2007" with this late entry. More here .

This time it's government stupidity. Netsmith isn't really certain that this is true: no one, surely, can be, even if in receipt of tax money, quite this insane can they? Sex education in Scotland is not allowed to discuss contraception. (Sweary but righteously so) discussion here and more here

As if this wasn't enough, Australia has decided to start censoring the internet. 

It's true that John Edwards is indeed reporting jobs gained and lost in the normal political manner. However, it's that normal political manner which is wrong, not just John Edwards (we should, of course, be using net figures).

Some good news though: $30 oil should be just around the corner. 

And finally , a look at the year ahead. 

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On the seventh day of Christmas...

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler | Monday 31 December 2007

My true love sent to me: seven swans a-swimming. In the song, this could refer to the seven sacraments, or the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which include things like teaching, service, and leadership.

Teaching, of course, is another of those things where there is far too much government, and far too little service and leadership. As in health, it is not that the staff are bad - but they are just badly managed, and the sector is too centrally run. The top-down Stalinist way of running things didn't deliver in the Soviet Union, and it doesn't deliver in health, education, and other public services. So we end up with sink schools from which parents and kids - usually those in the most deprived areas - have no escape.

Now, though, the world is building up experience that decentralization actually works. Instead of the state running every school, give parents and teachers money to run their own. That has led to a flowering of new schools in poor, often black areas of America where the state schools had been overwhelmed with drugs and violence and underwhelmed with learning and achievement. Now Sweden has a similar system - the money follows the choices of parents, not bureaucrats, so it tends to be spent better: and all sorts of new education providers are springing up as a result. A model for the UK? Well, we certainly think so.

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Joke of the day

Written by Jokesmith | Monday 31 December 2007

A new teacher was trying to make use of her psychology courses. She
started her class by saying, "Everyone who thinks you are stupid, stand
After a few seconds, little Johnny stood up. The teacher was surprised,
but realized this was an opportune moment to help a child. "Do you
think you're stupid, Johnny?" she asked.
"No, ma'am," Johnny replied, "but I hated to see you standing there all by yourself!"

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A role model for energy independence

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Monday 31 December 2007

nuclear.jpgSome pundits guess America, long known for her unique exceptionalism, is roughly 50 years behind the French in realizing that Western security is jeopardized by the reliance on imported energy. Abandoned by her last ally in resistance to Kyoto carbon emission cuts - with Australia signing probably the most overrated and greatly dysfunctional treaty in human history - the US is expected to revive its nuclear industry after 30 years of stagnation.

Now, given that most of the Anglosphere looks set to be dominated by the secular left in years to come there is no guarantee that the nuclear renaissance will succeed. So let’s look at France, which as a country with no own energy resources to speak of, can serve as a role model for achieving energy independence.

It is the only country where the political left has not opposed civil nuclear energy. Over the last fifty years, that has enabled France to excel as a beacon of nuclear electricity generation worldwide – producing 80 percent of its electricity supply that way. Secondly, France has an exceptionally strong cultural appreciation of scientific progress - expressed in popular high-speed trains and the supersonic Concorde. Thirdly, the trust in French public service officials, who tend to be trained engineers - rather than lawyers as typical in the US – helped to maintain public confidence in the nuclear program. And finally, the excellent security record of the French nuclear industry - usually attributed to synergies from central management, reactor standardization, a better learning curve and better homogenous training facilities for personnel.

These are the lessons to learn for the US, which will need 35 new reactors to meet surging energy demand by 2050. It’s time to forget about Freedom Fries and just say ‘oui’.

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Power and Plenty III

Written by Tim Worstall | Monday 31 December 2007

Another snippet from this fascinating upcoming book, Power and Plenty:

Buringh and van Zabden show that European book production rose at roughly 1% per annum between the sixth and eighteenth centuries, from an annual production of roughly 120 manuscripts over the course of the sixth century to the 20 million books printed in 1790. 

The thing that leaps out at me is the incredible power of compounding: we often hear that we should give up this or that little bit of economic growth on this or that grounds, but in the long term that slowing of growth is extremely expensive, look what just 1% leads to.

Another illuminating little exercise is to look at, say, the effects of the Greenland ice cap melting. According to the IPCC this is booked in for sometime after 2500 AD if we don't change our ways. If we assume current trend growth rate (2.75% say...and always asuming that I've used this calculator correctly, no certain thing) then people in 493 years time will be 643,342 (and a bit) times richer than we are. If it is true that the rich should pay for global warming then shouldn't it be those in the future, those more than half a million times richer than we are?


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