Neodymium: The truth


The political and international divide over green energy politics is growing. Not only are the prospects of over ambitious plans such as Koyoto II getting gloomier in the ongoing financial crisis, it is becoming increasingly clear that the green renewable energy issues could create problems of the same magnitude as our present oil-dependency. As the Atlantic reports in its May issue, the exploding demand for hybrid cars and windmills is likely to create a bottle neck in the supply of a commodity with the exotic name of neodymium.

Neodymium is a crucial material for build lightweight permanent magnets “that make the Prius motors zoom" and are needed for the generators of wind mills as well. In fact, the present production of neodymium would have to be doubled in order to make just a few million electric cars. The main pit for neodymium in the US, California’s Mountain Pass, has recently been closed after a series of leaks released hundreds of thousands of gallons of radioactive waste into the environment. The dirty little secret of green cars and windmills is that the neodymium has to be yielded from rare-earth ore, which are regularly contaminated with radioactive thorium.

So much for the green ideologues and main stream media hypocrites who don’t accept nuclear energy with zero CO2 emission as clean energy.

Young Writer on Liberty: Incentives matter


As the Telegraph picks over the bones of MPs already stained reputations, perhaps only one thing can be learned: financial incentives matter. As such, in order to ensure we get the very best entrants to the Young Writer on Liberty competition we have decided to increase the prize money. As such, as well as the winner getting £500, the second and third prize entrants will receive £250 and £100 respectively.

Remember, this is not one of those prizes that go to your school; instead the money will be given to you in brown envelope to spend on whatever you want, whether that be bathplugs, moats and tennis courts etc.

For more information click here

All entries should be sent to:

Competittion closes: 15th June 2009

Blog Review 959


The reason that capitalist do so much better than politicians do in matters economic is that capitalists have long term incentives and politicians short. Incentives do matter, after all.

Explaining Joanna Lumley's attatchment to the Gurkhas.

If we just get the prices right then we don't have to worry about doing the near impossible, proper life cycle analyses.

No, prohibition really doesn't work.

However, freeing schools from the dead hands of the unions and the State really does seem to work.

It's been a recession with a nasty banking crash thrown in, not a prelude to a second Depression.

And finally, a book recommendation.

The exodus begins


altLondon's Evening Standard reports that the flight of financiers from the new 50 percent tax rate is gathering pace. The Chairman of Terra Firma Capital Partners is said to have moved to Guernsey, and the head of Odey Asset Management hedge fund has threatened to move his firm offshore. He is quoted as saying, "Everyone is thinking of leaving."

While the ones who can go probably will go, the majority will not enjoy this mobility. What they will do, however, is to make every possible use of shelters to lower their exposure to the tax. Many people who paid it at 40 percent will move heaven and earth to avoid paying it at 50 percent. This is one reason why I publicly predicted on CNBC as the tax was announced that it will raise less money than was yielded by 40 percent. The other reason, apart from avoidance, is that the reduced incentive the new tax offers will shrink the tax base. If people have to give nearly two-thirds of any extra income to be squandered by the government, they will simply not make great efforts to earn any. Any adding in National Insurance and pension allowance changes mean that many people will be keeping only just over a third of any extra they earn.

The upshot is that Britain has moved into the unenviable league of top tax nations, and probably without gaining any extra revenue by doing so. This was the most dreadful feature of a truly contemptible budget.

Equality and the free market

It's official: Britain is now a more unequal country than any time since modern records began in the early 1960s. The incomes of the poorest people have not just failed to keep pace with economic growth, or even inflation. They have actually fallen. Since the last election, the poorest 10% of households have suffered a £9 cut in their average income of £147. The second-bottom 10% have seen their income fall by about £4 a week. 
This is why all those folk who talk about Mrs Thatcher or 'free markets' making Britain more unequal make me puke. The fact is that market economies are more equal than any. Not just in terms of incomes, but in terms of power. In centrally controlled economies, if you are not one of the ruling clique – and that can mean not a member of the right race or the right family – you've had it. And there's nothing you can do about it. In market economies, you rise on the back of your talent and hard work. Not everyone has talent, but application will take you places. That's why market economies are more socially mobile than others.
A socialist government can make early 'equality' gains by redistributing income and using the wealth created by a market economy. But it all takes money, and the more you confiscate in taxation, the less incentive is there for anyone to take risks and succeed. When your taxes reach the threatened UK levels of 50%+, there's less incentive even for people of skill or application to stay in the country. So the redistributive policy poisons itself, like yeast creating alcohol in the wine vat.

Standards of probity


The disclosures about expenses claims made by MPs have been met by the insistence that what they did was "within the rules" and that all the items were scrutinized and approved. This may be true, but it fails to answer the public concern at what has been going on. The nub of it is that MPs have deceived the public for many years by awarding themselves much higher salaries than they have admitted to. They did this by keeping the headline figure down, and awarding themselves a "stealth salary" of padded expenses to augment it.

MPs of all parties have connived in a system which reimburses them for items like bathplugs and barbecues which other people have to buy from taxed income. As the 'expenses' are tax-free, the effective salaries received by MPs are even higher. The public wants to know how MPs, who make laws telling other people how to behave, could behave so deceptively and dishonourably themselves. The answer seems to be that, like the bankers who give themselves multi-million bonuses to reward their failure, they do it because they can. They have the power to do it, and they regard that as a right.

There is a general feeling among the populace that people who occupy positions of authority should possess sufficient probity to restrain them from misusing their powers. They should have a sense of right and wrong sufficiently well-developed to keep them from tawdry and discreditable self-seeking. "With great power comes great responsibility," as Spiderman's uncle cautioned. The fact that MPs and bankers can award themselves unmerited sums of other people's money does not mean that they should. On the contrary, their occupation of those high seats of authority means that they should not. And the higher the office, the greater is the standard of moral correctness required.

The problem for both MPs and bankers is that they have not shown the moral stature required to accompany those positions.

Liberty vs. the State


In the United Kingdom, of our national Gross Domestic Product, which is to say, of all wealth created by all people through the course of the year, we finally find now that the part confiscated and consumed by the State exceeds 50%.

Rarely invoked is a phrase so loaded with import yet so perfectly tuned to pass unnoticed upon the mind.

Of our lives, the first twenty or so years passes in growth and education. There then follows about fourty-five years of work, as we accumulate sufficient wealth that we can finally retire and live free.

Well, now, consider; for of those fourty-five years of work, half, that is to say, twenty-two and a half years of our lives, have the wealth we produce fully taken from us by the State.

That is what 50% of GDP means. It means 50% of your working life.

The State requires us by threat of judicial penalty to accept its provision of services; and by forcing us to accept, the State forces us to pay its price; and that price is twenty years of our lives.

Was this ever the deal? Was this ever what we signed up for?

The fact is, we all past and present were never asked and we never agreed to any of this. We all, past and present, were merely born; into a world where the unchosen State already exists.

The State is an inherited historical accident; it was never chosen, ever, by anyone.

The fact that our current arrangement of State permits us every four years to vote for one of a few parties and so potentially change the Government of the State does not mean we agreed to this arrangement of affairs. Being granted a vote by a State we never chose is not legitimization; that we are not permitted to opt out of the services the State so expensively compels us to accept reveals our subservience.

We owe the State nothing for we never chose it; and we work our lives till but ten years from death, because of the State.

Blog Review 958


One of the oddities of those oh so socially democratic Nordic countries is that in many ways they're not what would be called social democratic in UK terms. School vouchers, no inheritance tax, postcode lotteries for medical care....

Speaking of school vouchers, Obama's children don't attend the public school system but they're shutting down the voucher scheme that would enable others to make that same choice. Obama signed off on that restriction of other peoples' choices too.

Paul Krugman is indeed Paul Krugman, but he's still right on trade.

The libel law just got a whole lot more difficult for journalists and bloggers.

The ID cards mess just had yet another twist of spin added to it.

Why the American banking system won't go the way of the Japanese one.

And finally, physicists prove that vampires cannot exist.