Are you allowed to kiss a nun?
Yes, but don't get into the habit.
"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
Are you allowed to kiss a nun?
Yes, but don't get into the habit.
Well, they are both on the minds of certain human rights activists and they are both sentinels of soviet-style denunciation because of anonymous bias-reporting systems in academia. These systems sprang from US universities (e.g. Virginia, Oregon State and Ohio State) and are spreading elsewhere. They are supposed to expose and punish people who make use of their free speech in a way the PC crowd regards as offensive and wants to be verboten. Their latest target is the well-known conservative publicist Mark Steyn.
The Canadian Islamic Congress has filed a "human rights complaint” against the prominent Canadian news magazine MacLean’s, because it published an excerpt of Steyn's book America Alone, considered by the plaintiff as "flagrantly Islamophobic". And at least two Human Rights Commissions are willing to hear those complaints. This is despite the fact that the book, which is published in the US, has already been best selling in Canada. Another way of looking at this attack on free speech is the worldwide rapidly growing list of Muslim Libel Cases.
In the meantime, many regard it as unfortunate that the erstwhile home country of individual liberty has become the "libel capital of the West" because in today's England the defendant in a libel case bears the burden of proof. The most notorious beneficiary of this is the Saudi Sheik K. S. bin Mahfouz, who has already filed 30 libel cases in the UK alone that usually result in banning books critical of Islam.
Steyn responds in the Weekly Standard:
The "progressive" left has grown accustomed to the regulation of speech, thinking it just a useful way of sticking it to Christian fundamentalist, rightwing columnists, and other despised groups. They don't know they're riding a tiger that in the end will devour them, too.
Dr Harry Bush CB, head of economic regulation for the UK aviation industry, was our guest at a Power Lunch in Westminster this week. He spoke to the theme of the impact of the EU on regulatory policy in the UK.
Less than benign, I would say. If we're going to have regulation, then I can see that there are some things done better internationally. It might be better to have a common system of airspace regulation, for example, rather than lots of different countries doing their own, unrelated things. That being said, the 'Single European Sky' policy that has emerged is an over-regulated mess.
The airlines of most European countries started as national 'flag carriers' and public ownership of them is still rife. The whole sector, airports and all, has long been regarded as something that governments should own and run, or at least take charge of. The idea that airlines and airports can run in competition – or even that air traffic control might be contracted-out to competitive providers – or that regulation should be independent of government – ruffles no feathers in the UK any more, but is still thought to be pretty nutty in the corridors of the Berlaymont.
The Treaty of Rome is a surprisingly pro-competitive document, though its execution has largely been the opposite. For some years, with the Irish commissioner Charlie McCreevy in charge of competition, though, even the UK government has been forced to bring competition into its public industries, like mail delivery, so let's be thankful to that. But in sectors like aviation, where governments have been deeply involved for years – and, with terrorism, the climate change agenda and immigration, there are more calls for them to get even more deeply involved – I think the UK could end up with less competition, rather than more.
We come again to that old and most important question. Are violent video games (and thus such things as pornography) complements or substitutes? Increasingly it is becoming clear that they are substitutes. So far from banning such things through the legal system we should be subsidizing them through the tax one: to reduce the incidence of real world violence and sexual attacks.
Guido's right , we'd hope this would get a little more attention: the Labour Party guilty of racial discrimination?
Tim Worstall 's still banging on about Greg Clark's book, "A Farewell to Alms". Lamarck rather than Darwin he says.
Even left-wing MPs get the right idea sometimes. Harry Cohen has realised that some form of legalisation of drugs is better than the current unholy mess of the war upon them. It's Ian Duncan Smith we have to convince now....
There's rather more convincing necessary with The Observer and water: markets solve the allocation problems of scarce resources but they prefer to ignore that.
A parlour game for all the family: which dictators could actually win a free and fair election?
And finally , Ronald Reagan and Soviet jokes: he actually had State Department officials feeding real ones from the streets of Moscow back to him.
Earlier in the year a prominent leftie journalist told me that something like this would happen. I'm afraid I rather choked on my pint and jeered at him at the time, for I didn't believe that something quite so simple and obvious would ever gain traction in Governmental circles.
Elderly people are to be given money to pay for their own care in a move being hailed as one of the most radical welfare reforms in a generation. They will have the right to decide how and where they spend the cash, instead of social workers dictating what help they need to live in their own homes. Personal budgets will also be set up for younger disabled people frustrated by their lack of choice.
We move, at a stroke, from the bad end of Milton Friedman's four ways of spending money to the good side: from spending other people's money on other people, to spending other people's money on yourself (with restricted budgets we get close to the very good end, spending your money on yourself).
Now I know, there are those who think there shouldn't be any form of Welfare State at all but let's look at political reality here shall we? Clearly, people shopping for the help that they need (yes! we've introduced markets to the monolith!) are going to get more of what they want than if they are the passive recipients of whatever the bureaucracy would like to offer them.
'When I was able to control their budget, I shopped around for their care, and interviewed different carers until I found the right person. Her carer now comes at 9am on the dot, but is also happy to take her to the GP, take them shopping and do other jobs that the previous person wasn't allowed to do.'
Hurrah! Trebles all round don't you think? We're finally getting people to see the basic problem with the construction of public sector services in this country. We don't actually have to provide the services from the public sector at all. In fact, we'll get much better services if we don't, if we simply finance them and leave provision to people buying what they desire on open markets.
Now that we've got our foot in that door, when do we start seeing the same happening with the NHS, with education...
An old man was bragging to his neighbor, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect."
"Really," answered the neighbor "What kind is it?"
A free society and a free economy rely on trust between individuals to function effectively. As trust breaks down, the clamour for a more invasive state grows.
One of the main reasons for the breakdown of that trust within our society was highlighted by Jane Shilling in The Times last week. A woman claiming to be a new neighbour asked for £7 so that she could charge her electricity key and rescue her children from the darkness of their new home. Ms Shilling gladly handed over £10 with the hope of helping a neighbour in need, based on the promise that the money would be repaid. Upon finding out that this woman and her friend had canvassed the whole street in this manner she is now faced with the dilemma of what to do next time.
Ms Shillings honourable actions reflect how she hopes others would act if she were a similar predicament. The fundamental difference though, between her actions and those of the professional thief she encountered, is that she would return the money. The honest amongst us who unfortunately might find ourselves in a situation where we are at the mercy of the kindness of strangers will now have to accept that a majority of the time we will find that no help is forthcoming.
The selfish actions of a minority have repercussions on the wider community since they destroy the trust that has been built up over time. We are no longer able to act out our natural instinctive behaviour of caring for others in need based on a reflective rationality. We now become cynical of everyone and are deterred from acting for fear of being lied to. The moral compass of our society has been shifted, much for the worse, by those who believe that they have a right to steal whilst praying on our best intentions. Thus society becomes more atomised and moves further from being free.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential hopeful, has enjoyed buoyant support in the key early states in the primary calendar – due in large part to his social conservatism. However, the boost in support for the blues-guitar playing Baptist minister Mike Huckabee has seen some of his popularity ebb away. The main problem seems to be Romney's Mormonism, which troubles many American voters. Last week he sought to put this behind him, with a speech only a few miles from where JFK allayed concerns about his membership of the Catholic Church in 1960.
The thought of a candidate giving a major campaign speech about their religious faith is troubling to many Europeans. However, the word ‘Mormon’ was used only once in the 20-minute speech, in which Romney focused more on the relationship between faith and public life than on his own religious convictions. As Joe Loconte wrote in response to Romney's speech, the purpose of American secularism "is not to quarantine religion from public life, but to protect the religious liberty of people of all faiths, or none." So just as Romney promised not to serve any one religious or interest group while in office, and demonstrated clear enthusiasm for the institutional separation of church and state, he simultaneously promised not to separate America from "The god who gave us our liberty".
Romney went on to tell of the strong admiration he had for every faith he had encountered, and how he wished that aspects of them were present in his own. In his most confrontational moment, he warned of the perils of an established state religion, pointing to Europe where he claimed that magnificent cathedrals had become little more than a "postcard backdrop" thanks to government dominance.
Clearly, the primary goal of this speech was to diffuse Christian concerns about Romney's Mormonism just a month before the primary selection process begins, but it also offered a brave and refreshing explanation of the place for religion in a structurally secular country in which faith remains an important part of many people’s lives. It remains to be seen whether Romney has overcome his doubters, but if he has, the Republican race could be blown wide open.
As ever, the problem with making sophisticated economic arguments. Do politicians agree with your subtlety, understand the nuances, or are they simply appropriating your logic to do the wrong thing?
So what do actual climate scientists think of the Bali Declaration? Something of a curate's egg it appears.
Who actually is it that homeschools their children ?
Guido seems to have all of the important news today about Mr. Abrahams .
This idea of paying councillors when they're voted out of office . Wouldn't this simply be rewarding failure, something so decried when it happens in business?
A nice three word movie review: although one which, to be honest, could be written without actually having seen the movie in question.
And finally , aren't MPs supposed to drool over present constituents, rather than potential future ones? Or is this legitimate development of the papparazzi industry?
Various people are being uncomplimentary about the latest ideas for the
abolition of freedom detention without trial as announced: constitutionally illiterate for example :
Proposals to extend the limit for pre-charge detention to 42 days are "constitutionally illiterate" as well as dangerous, critics warned yesterday, because proper parliamentary scrutiny would confuse the roles of MPs and judges.
The former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, warned that such examination by MPs would be difficult, adding: "I think parliamentary scrutiny is hugely important and one of the great things we have in this country. But it isn't necessarily the right way to deal with individual cases, while they are going on."
At heart the idea is that, in order to make sure that someone isn't either released or charged (that is, they can continue to be kept in jail despite being, legally, entirely innocent), the Home Secretary should ask MPs for permission to keep an individual in custody for further questioning.
I'm sorry? Politicians hold a vote as to whether a specific individual should be denied his freedom? That's dangerously close to a Bill of Attainder: further, it betrays a gobsmackingly awful understanding of what the "rule of law" actually means. Certainly, politicians get to decide what the law is but it then applies, evenhandedly, to all of us. For politicians to vote on whether that evenhandedness exists or not in individual cases replaces the rule of law with the rule of the mob, not, perhaps, a path we want to go any further down.
I'm reminded of Larry Flynt's words (and I paraphrase) after winning a First Amendment case in the US. If the law protects bastards like me you can be sure that it will protect you too.
Imagine, for a moment, a purely hypothetical: we have a one eyed, hook handed, benefits gobbling, bigamously married preacher, one who incites violence and is of dubious status as a British citizen (yes, this is a hypothetical). The Home Secretary asks for an extension of his detention. Does anyone really think that MPs will vote their consciences? On either the balance of probabilities or beyond reasonable doubt? Or will it be the Whips, or, worse, The Sun leader column that decides whether he continues to be denied his freedom?
And if the law will not protect him from politicians seeking votes, will it protect you?
I'm entirely flabberghasted that (even) the current Home Secretary could think this an advance in freedom, liberty or security.