TNG with Brooks Newmark MP

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alt Brooks Newmark MP, marked Obama's first 100 days in office with a speech as guest speaker at this months TNG meeting. In his description of the new President of the United States, he evaluated that a lot of his policies were, “Bush-like”, pointing out that his policy of ‘Big Government’ and the immense fiscal stimulus were not dissimilar to that of his predecessor.

Nevertheless, the main scope of his speech embarked on what Obama has and will achieve in his Foreign Policy. The pull out of Iraq followed by the increased number of troops in Afghanistan is very much heading in the same direction a Bush. Newmark stated that Obama has put significant emphasis on his dealings with Israel, pin pointing that he will continue to promote a two state solution.

As well as this, he highlighted the importance of Iran and how Obama has attempted to improve relations with the country. For now this has wrong-footed Ahmadinejad, though he insisted that the President might be disappointed when his outstretched arm is not taken by Iran. If and when this occurs, it will be in interesting to see how comparable his reaction will be with that of President Bush.

Blog Review 956

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Explaining what Brown's really been doing to the poverty figures.

Of course there's a waiting list for subsidised housing. It's subsidised!

No, we really don't like asset forfeiture laws. They inevitably lead to situations like this.

Is the Chrysler bailout all about the unions? Of course it is.

What happens when you vote against an autocrat and the autocrat finds out you've voted against him. Actually, that this happens shows that he's an autocrat.

The real problem with the MPs' expenses system is that it moves them out of the tax system that the rest of us have to endure.

And finally, not an advertisement by the US Tourist Board.

Why are we ruled by the ignorant?

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It's a very cuddly idea, isn't it? That if only women had been running the banks then we wouldn't have had the crash.

Some women MPs have claimed that the 'testosterone-fuelled' financial meltdown could have been avoided if there had been more women in decision-making positions.

As we all know instinctively, there are no power crazed Gorgons and it was entirely the testosterone pumped out by all those unutterably horrid men that led to the banks falling over.  Unfortunately, as so often happens,  instinct isn't all that good a guide to complex matters.  Before we go off and do the feminine thing of what feels right, perhaps we should go and look for some empirical evidence to support our prejudices? You know, be horribly male about it all?

Hmm.

This paper investigates whether exposure to the opposite sex induces greater risk-taking in both males and females.....Both males and females viewing opposite sex photos displayed a significant increase in risk tolerance, whereas the control subjects exhibited no significant change.

Yet another beautiful theory destroyed by an inconvenient fact. The truth is that if we want to reduce risk tolerance in the banking system we have to entirely purge women from it. Or men of course.

To be honest, I don't mind all that much about being ruled by those with prejudices. I've a few of those myself. But I do mind being ruled by those that are ignorant. After all, they've got £660 billion a year of our money to educate themselves with, don't they? Couldn't they use it on something a little more productive, perhaps measuring their knee jerk reactions against reality, rather than the dross they currently splurge it all on?

Is this a free market?

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I noticed a piece in the Times last week which has stuck in my mind since then. The paper reported that government advisers had recommended that the number of skilled jobs open to immigrants from outside the EU should be cut by 270,000 because of the recession and rising unemployment.

On inspection, I find that the posts of 'quantity surveyor' and 'construction manager' are to be taken off the list of occupations with a recruitment problem. And the Migration Advisory Committee said the posts of all social workers, apart from those working with children and families, should also be removed.

I'm still troubled by this information. I really can't see why employers shouldn't be able to recruit skilled workers from anywhere in the world. After all, they may have better skills than local people, or be more motivated to work hard, or whatever – shouldn't it be up to employers to decide who they want, not Home Office bureaucrats?

It indicates too just how far the quangocracy intrudes into our lives. Yes, we have a Migration Advisory Committee – all on some vast salaries, no doubt. And yes, we tell employers who they can hire and who they can't. And then we blame our ills on the 'free market'. Sadly, our "free market economy" is free only in name.

Dr Eamonn Butler's new book, The Rotten State of Britain, is now available to buy now. Click here to find out how.

Europe Day

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altToday is Europe Day don’t you know? A day to celebrate the wonder that is the victory of social(ism) democracy and bureaucratization through the back door of a proto-federalist union of what were once nation states.

Despite the disastrous tumour of political institutions that permeate the political landscape of Europe, a short read of the original Declaration – the anniversary of which you are probably not celebrating today – did not necessarily set European relations on the path it sadly followed.

The Declaration calls for the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in order to promote peace in Europe. In other words it was an acceptance of the classical liberal belief that “If goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will" (Bastiat); even though it was framed in socialistic rhetoric and regulated by a “Higher Authority".

We all now know what this led to and there were clues in this original Declaration. For example this sentence is simply beyond parody:

Conditions will gradually be created which will spontaneously provide for the more rational distribution of production at the highest level of productivity.

So happy Europe Day! No need to raise a toast to the bureaucrats of Europe, these nameless parasites will be toasting your good health. After all it is you who picks up the bill.

An unappreciated generation

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altIt was brought up in PMQs this week that British youths are the unhappiest in Europe. 1 in 3 eleven year olds are illiterate and record numbers are turning to drink and anti-depressants. Also, it is this generation who are now going to be forced to pay off the colossal government debt. The story is very negative, but politicians are making it worse, intent on blaming the youth for the state’s failings. Instead, the youth need to be encouraged and made productive rather than demonized and disincentivized.

The welfare state is failing the youth as this story shows. It focuses on a seventeen year old who drinks a litre of vodka a day, spending her £47 per week benefits on alcohol (that must be cheap and nasty vodka!). This is clear evidence that a benefit culture has reached an excessive level in the UK. The 17 year old in the article does not work or attend school – but then why bother when the state will give you free money to spend on whatever you like, illegal or not.

It is immoral that the government can tax hard working individuals in order to encourage the illegal drinking of others. This sends out signals to younger citizens that it is acceptable to expect the right to be bailed out by the state if they don’t fancy working. This is clearly counterproductive towards society; if there is no incentive for young people to work or go into further education, that demographic of the economy will stagnate – making the process of paying off Gordon Browns debt gloomier than ever.

Younger generations are the lifeline of our future economy. Currently the government seems to underestimate their importance, seeing them as scapegoats for their failings in education and burdens on the labour market; set them free and see the benefits they can bring to society.

Blog Review 955

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Yet anopther reminder that it doesn't matter so much what resources you pour into the public education system. Much more important is what you do with the resources you have.

Free markets aren't without regulation. The major differrence in regulation between free and unfree markets is that in free markets the regulating is done by people who actually know what they're doing.

Today's installment of "incentives matter", the game every economic actor plays: "Interestingly Dick Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth, was born 9 months and 2 days after the Selective Service System announced that childless married men were to be drafted."

Those who have done nothing wrong do have a great deal to fear.

How to decode bureaucratese.

Finally, someone standing up to state sponsored theft.

And finally, how to decode politicianspeak.

A crisis of capitalism?

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Flicking through a copy of Dr Madsen Pirie's Freedom 101, I found a prescient paragraph [p.66] on capitalism and the business cycle:

In recent years independent central banks have tried to smooth the business cycle's severities by combining the pursuit of sound money with making credit easier when economic downturn loomed. It has been a precarious act which cannot necessarily be sustained, but this is not a crisis of capitalism either. It may just be problems arising from one type of financial management.

This was written well before most commentators even realised there was a financial crisis.