Tag Archives: uk

Gloom

To put things in perspective, a couple of paragraphs from 18th century French economist Turgot. From the Mises blog

The general freedom of buying and selling is therefore the only means of assuring, on the one hand, the seller of a price sufficient to encourage production, and on the other hand, the consumer, of the best merchandise at the lowest price. This is not to say that in particular instances we may not find a cheating merchant and a duped consumer; but the cheated consumer will learn by experience and will cease to frequent the cheating merchant, who will fall into discredit and thus will be punished for his fraudulence; and this will never happen very often, because generally men will be enlightened upon their evident self-interest.

To expect the government to prevent such fraud from ever occurring would be like wanting it to provide cushions for all the children who might fall. To assume it to be possible to prevent successfully, by regulation, all possible malpractices of this kind, is to sacrifice to a chimerical perfection the whole progress of industry; it is to restrict the imagination of artificers to the narrow limits of the familiar; it is to forbid them all new experiments; it is to renounce even the hope of competing with the foreigners in the making of the new products which they invent daily, since, as they do not conform to our regulations, our workmen cannot imitate these articles without first having obtained permission from the government, that is to say, often after the foreign factories, having profited by the first eagerness of the consumer for this novelty, have already replaced it with something else. It means forgetting that the execution of these regulations is always entrusted to men who may have all the more interest in fraud or in conniving at fraud since the fraud which they might commit would be covered in some way by the seal of public authority and by the confidence which this seal inspires, in the consumers. It is also to forget that these regulations, these inspectors, these offices for inspection and marking, always involve expenses, and that these expenses are always a tax on the merchandise, and as a result overcharge the domestic consumer and discourage the foreign buyer. Thus, with obvious injustice, commerce, and consequently the nation, are charged with a heavy burden to save a few idle people the trouble of instructing themselves or of making enquiries to avoid being cheated. To suppose all consumers to be dupes, and all merchants and manufacturers to be cheats, has the effect of authorizing them to be so, and of degrading all the working members of the community. [emphasis mine]

From an ET interview of former RBI governor YV Reddy-

I think we can see some contrasting situations. While the UK is more transparent on public ownership, the US is somewhat reluctant. There is an increasing reference to the Swedish experience. When Sweden had a banking crisis, its government took over the banks temporarily, cleaned them up and handed them back to the private sector.

But, I think, globally there is no consensus on how these things should be treated. My understanding is that there is a consensus that banks need to be treated as public utilities. Once you term something as a public utility it has to be owned and managed by the government. Otherwise, it has to be intensely regulated. I think the banking industry is likely to be treated as a public utility.

My monopolistic “public utility” managed fourteen power cuts in a single day. The situation is only going to get worse.

I didn’t know Swapan Dasgupta could write like this. He sounds like an out-of-power US Republican discovering the virtues of free markets, and predicts an economic collapse of the UK, and India-

Since they discovered the welfare state as an alternative to Soviet-style Communism, socialists have successfully spread the message that a “caring state” is more important than either families or social communities. In Britain, the state intrudes into every sphere of life from healthcare and education to providing unemployment benefits and pensions. It even tries to prescribe social attitudes. The result is a gargantuan bureaucracy and government spending that equals half the GDP of an economy that shrunk 3.5 per cent last year.

Britain is approaching an economic nightmare. But it is curious that its tax-and-spend profligacy is the ideal of those who tom-tom “inclusive growth” in India. Last week, Rahul Gandhi admitted that 90 per cent of welfare spending is frittered away in waste and corruption. However, rather than balk at this outrage, both he and his economist Prime Minister have preferred a bigger role for government over more incentives to individuals and families. The PM doesn’t believe that a low tax regime is a moral imperative of good governance; to him good economics is mega spending.

In comparative terms, India is still a notch below Britain in both prosperity and economic promiscuity. But if a fragile and self-serving coalition assumes power after May 16, increases budgetary expenditure dramatically – which it surely will do-and adds to the already unsustainable fiscal deficit, Indians may once again experience that sinking feeling of the 1970s. The entrepreneur-driven national exuberance of a year ago may well be subsumed by a sense of helpless decline.

Actually, it will be worse than Blighty. The British state is well-meaning but bloated, plodding and intrusive; India’s will be uncaring, inefficient, corrupt and increasingly criminal.

Cynicus Economicus is angry

Most alarming of all, the greatest and most listened to cynicism is coming out of China – who see the QE policies of Western governments for what they are – harbingers of inflation. How desparate is it when it takes a totalitarian state to ram the truth home?

This is why I am writing an unusually angry post. I am sick of the lies that issuing forth, and I am sick and tired of the way in which the insiders appear to win, regardless of the cost to the rest of the economy. I have watched in horror as these bailouts have chewed up the wealth of the Western economies, both present and future wealth. I have watched in horror as governments have issued ever more debt to support their profligacy and support insolvent banks. I have watched in horror as central banks have commenced monetising government debts, and likely engineering inflationary defaults whilst risking eventual hyper-inflation.

Above all, it really does appear that governments and central banks are willing to sacrifice ever greater swathes of the economy to rescue incompetent and insolvent financial institutions. The only explanation that fits the facts is the grubby clubbiness of the system. It is not the great New World Order conspiracy, but rather the conjunction of interests between well placed individuals. Each, in their own way, moving forwards for their own personal gain. It is not the activity of great conspirators, but rather the collective movement of little men, of people who can think only of their personal gains. Money, vanity, power.

Turgot is right about the government, isn’t he.

Britain

omnologos writes about an AGW protest group called Plane Stupid that barged into a British airport and disrupted flight schedules. All the protesters have been arrested, and this is what one of them has to say on their actions-

“We’re here because our parents’ generation has failed us and it’s now down to young people to stop climate change by whatever peaceful means we have left.

We’re afraid of what the police might do to us, we’re afraid of going to jail but nothing scares us as much as the threat of runaway climate change.”

About the whole affair, omnologos says-

The strange bit is that even such an authoritative AGW group like the IPCC, and avowed catastrophiliacs such as Lord Stern, do not believe overdramatic actions are needed today, or tomorrow. Rather, they all advocate something to be done in the scale of decades.

And that is even more worrying: because in spite of what is actually meant by Stern, or by Al Gore, or by James Hansen or the UK Government, at the end of the day their choice of words will always inspire simpletons to do something very very silly at airports and elsewhere; and Governments to curtail civil liberties in the name of the Greater Good That Could Not Have Been Portrayed Greater.

Perhaps more people will wake up one day to the fact that he transformation of society into a “Moral Police State” is the only way AGW can be stopped, or so it is implied by those that portray it as the biggest challenge to humanity, a threat bigger than the terrorism, the source of everything wrong with the world today, the thing that will burn up the world to cinder, etc etc.

Read his post,

– – – –

Paternalistic solutions to “global warming” will necessarily involve the law, and therefore the use of the coercive power of the State against defenseless citizens and their enterprises, just as the so-called “war on terrorism” has become a war on citizens more than one on terrorists.

About Britain. The sad part is this – AGW or no AGW, Britain is already on its way to perdition – the “Moral Police State”. The idiots who govern the country are doing everything they can to see that the goal is accomplished. I wrote about one of their crackpot ideas a couple of months back, and this ars technica report paints a scary picture of a future dystopian Britain.

All we can do is wait and watch as the US and UK self destruct through sheer over reaction. Perhaps its a good thing – civilizations that are afraid of their own shadow probably don’t deserve to survive.

The (d)evil within

Who needs the Devil,
a manifestation of pure evil,
when men who “mean well”,
can build a better hell,
than he ever will.

Chilling effect

An editorial in the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, is where I first read that cops in the UK had pressed charges against a fifteen year old boy for carrying around a placard in front of a London center of the Church of Scientology which said – Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult. He was targeted (the Crown Prosecution Service has now dropped the case) using section five of the Public Order Act which criminalizes the display of any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. Interestingly, a controversy erupted a couple of years ago when it was found that the Church had been sending thousands of pounds worth of gifts to some members of the London police force. Maybe that had something to do with the quick action against the threat to public order.

The Church is notorious the world over for the way it intimidates and threatens dissenters and people writing unfavorable stuff about it. Time magazine did a groundbreaking expose of the cult in a 1991 article – The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power, and the journalist who was responsible for the story, Richard Behar, wrote about his harrowing experiences while doing the story in another article – The Scientologists and Me. The Church sued the magazine in return. You can read more about it in this wikipedia article.

While I am not a fan of religion, organized or otherwise, I don’t mind people doing whatever they want (want to start a new religion around a donkey? you are welcome!) as long as it does not include coercion or any kind of intimidation. If some one assaults someone else, or issues an obvious threat of bodily harm, governments can surely use regular laws to tackle this – don’t tell me there is no law to prosecute someone who assaults me with a stick! The main danger with laws like the one used above or laws related to hate crimes is that they can be used to suppress freedom of speech and expression. The same applies to laws like the US DMCA which has been used by many companies and organizations (including the Church) to suppress information that belongs in the public domain. One significant example is that involving electronic voting machine maker Diebold.

What governments, as also many organizations, have been doing over the years is use law for perverse purposes, thereby indulging in what I term legal terrorism – make people so afraid of being targeted legally that they won’t cross your path again. Given the way the justice system works in most countries, the sheer stupidity and malice that most laws display and the prohibitive cost – financial and mental – of legal defense, people are bound to take the safer route, thereby accepting a severe curtailment of their rights. Ironically, laws that are meant to keep citizens free from predators become predators themselves.

Consider what this Guardian article has to say on the case –

Wiser counsel has since prevailed and the young man concerned learnt today that he is not to be prosecuted after all. But to an extent the damage had already been done. As a lawyer working for Liberty, who is frequently asked for advice by people who have had dealings with the police in the course of a demonstration, I know how easily even minor actions by the police – photographing, asking someone’s name, searches – can have a chilling effect on the right to protest. While the anti-Scientologists may now feel secure in using the word “cult” in their protests, won’t they be worried that they, too, could be prosecuted for some other forceful expression of their views?

Given this state of affairs, it is not surprising then that no newspaper in the bastion of free speech – the US – has covered this story (for proof, try Google News) – it has been totally blacked out.