Wednesday, 30 December 2009

On market failure

From The Christian Science Monitor - Markets fail. That's why we need markets.

Some new technologies and innovations are genuine improvements and are long-lasting welfare enhancers. But others are the basketball equivalent of pump fakes – they look like the real deal and prompt market actors to leap hastily into action, only to realize later that their bets were wrong.

Given this dynamic, markets are unpredictable, prone to booms and busts, characterized by bouts of exuberance that are rational or irrational only in hindsight.

But markets are also the only reliable mechanism for sorting out this messy process quickly. In spite of the booms and busts, markets drive genuine long-run innovation and wealth creation.

It goes on to mention rent-seeking in government, and so on.

I think I've been guilty of, in the past, seeing markets as perfect, when in fact, since humans aren't perfect (or more of, they don't have perfect information) so markets cannot be perfect, and from time to time something goes wrong.

But as humans learn from experience, the market improves with experience (recessions). That's why it's so important to let the market reallocate in recession (since government will do an even worse job - they don't know the minds of so many economic agents) and not to help create bubbles in the boom.

The article in the CSM is a good read. It sums up my view of it all quite well.

(hat-tip: Anti-Dismal)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Inheritance tax

Good to see George Osborne sticking to principle on inheritance tax.

Did we not have such a big budget deficit, I'd suggest scrapping it (a death tax, to me, is unfair anyway) but having just the super-rich pay is certainly keeping it in line with its original aims.

For all that Labour go on about "tax cuts for millionaires", yes perhaps they'll pay less inheritance tax, but a) they already pay a lot more tax at higher rates already, and b) this tax cut means that only millionaires with pay IHT. Not only that, but with real wage inflation, it takes some of the hard working middle classes out of the death tax band altogether.

About time, I say.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

This is how it should be done

From the New Zealand Parliament.



Dave, Gordon, take note.

Hat-tip: Iain Dale

Being asked for ID

I can see the point in IDing people for alcohol and cigarettes. Well, they could harm your health (and depending on your perspective, others' too).

However, when I walk into a shop, and try to buy some car shampoo (the stuff you mix with water to wash your car), I don't expect the woman behind the counter to say "I can't sell you this. Have you got any ID?"

For the first time in a while, I was actually gobsmacked. You see these things in the Daily Mail, but actually getting asked for ID for something as pathetic as car shampoo is just shocking. What on earth am I going to do with it other than wash my car?

I have a full driving licence, it's quite clear I can drive and chances are I'm going to use it to wash my car.

Is this jobsworthiness, or is it actually getting scared that the police might sue you because I drunk a bottle of car shampoo, and you just happened to sell it to me?

Yes, this actually happened to me. I got IDed for car shampoo.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Credit ratings, interest rates and the price signal

The BBC's economics correspondent, Stephanie Flanders, has noticed that the bond market is treating UK gilts as if they were AA-rated rather than AAA-rated. Which begs the question, if they were officially AA rather than AAA, how would the markets treat them?

I suppose the whole question is about the effect of credit ratings on the bond market. Quite clearly here, the credit rating is wrong, or the agencies know more than the market (which probably isn't true). And once again, the many individual agents have done a better job than an agency.

Which brings me to interest rates. Just like a credit rating, the interest rate acts as a price signal (though more so in the latter case) - and if it's wrong, naturally, a bubble is created. 2002-2007? Possibly, since it's widely believed that interest rates were too low and therefore money was underpriced - excess demand to delve into economic theory. I digress.

So it's a distortion of the market. At least with credit ratings, bond markets can act pretty much independently; there's no agency with a central price like the Bank of England with its interest rates. But this is quite interesting.
Additionally, there was upward pressure from housing, mainly from mortgage interest payments which rose this year but fell a year ago.
I'm probably jumping to conclusions, but the market sees a rise in the demand for credit, and so is pushing up the cost of lending? So it does have some influence after all?

So I tend to agree with this piece I saw in the Times back in July. Prices should be set by demand and supply, demand and supply are best set by the voluntary actions of individuals, the money market has demand and supply (even if it is a means of exchange, rather than a good/service), so interest rates should also be set by the voluntary actions of individuals - no central agency or committee can ever know the details of every single transaction.

Maybe there's still hope...

Just after posting the last one, this story popped up on my RSS feed.

Also using a cricket bat, but no hitting the robber involved.

Hmm.

Defending the home

Three masked men break into your home. You return, and they take you hostage with knives. One escapes, and you throw a coffee table at them, then chase them down the street, catch them and hit them with a cricket bat.

They violated your home, and various rights. They tried to take you hostage. You fought back. Praise and a police commendation, yes?

No.

The government can tell us to stop making scare stories about the justice system all they like, but just like the Tony Martin case, it is very clear that it is positioned in the favour of criminals. That's not the Daily Mail's line, that's an altogether reasoned line.

But had he spared Mr Hussain jail, the judge said, the 'rule of law' would collapse.

He said: 'If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting the criminal justice system take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.'


At this point I have to avoid going on an all-out swear blog. No, you idiot, the rule of law is collapsing when politically correct prats like you make stupid decisions like this, and let criminals go free to commit their next crime (yes, he committed crimes before). You say this, then don't punish someone for actually committing a crime. Is that justice? Quite clearly not. Mr Reddihough, you are a fool. Just go. Go now. You quite clearly can't uphold the law properly.

This wasn't just a random burglar who had broken in, where the force may have been excessive (though if you shoot a burglar dead in the USA, they'll just come to pick up the body, and good for them), this was a group of yobs who had inflicted psychological suffering on an innocent family. The fact that these yobs haven't been given a prison sentence is beyond a joke.

Hussain then stopped the one criminal with a cricket bat, and beat him up. Seems fair compared to the suffering that the criminals inflicted on the family. In America, shoot the criminal dead, no one would bat an eyelid. It's completely fair, considering (a) what the criminal did and (b) what a joke the British justice system is. If the criminal doesn't want to suffer justice, he shouldn't have committed the crime.

British justice system, once the envy of the world, so much that the USA used common law, has now been reduced to an utter joke. It's about time that it started being a justice system, and not something I'm reduced to swearing at because of its stupidity.

Monday, 14 December 2009

On maternity pay

Thought I'd end my hiatus with some economics that went through my head earlier.

Maternity leave can be defined as a payment for extra economic agents in the long term. As age increases, the utility of humans with regard to work decreases, so obviously childbirth is "replacement" of some sort.

So where does that leave us?

The question is 'should maternity leave be paid?', and I'll ignore the usual arguments, but instead ask, what benefit does it give in the long run? Does maternity leave encourage childbirth, of a child that may contribute more back to the economy in the future? Is there a net gain from paying maternity leave, childcare etc in the long run?

All very interesting stuff, but relies on some basic assumptions I suppose. Assuming that maternity pay is paid to mothers who were working, there should be some sort of culture of work in the family (or there is more likely to be), which (and I hate bringing up stereotypes, but) should count out the stereotypical 'council estate benefits sponger', so there's less likelihood of the child draining society (or the government coffers rather).

So, if n is the number of children, I could assume
monetary benefit n = n . average earnings - n . maternity pay
would be positive, and maternity pay would be a good thing, yes?

Then again, does maternity pay really benefit the child? And back to an early point, does it actually persuade mothers to have children?

Is this an argument for paying more benefits for those who work giving children? I'd disagree with anything like that since I don't think the state should behave in such a way, and I'm more convinced by the benefits of work than maternity pay in itself, which means an absence from work (and long term absence caused by it for the mother even?). But then again these crazy economic thoughts go through my head from time to time.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Corporation tax

According to Michael Spencer (the Tory treasurer) corporation tax could be cut towards 20%. Go further I say, 10% will make the UK a business haven once more.

It's all welcome (as is the hope that the 50% rate will go) - in the long run these cuts will only increase revenue. I know unfunded tax cuts don't go down well at the moment, but it should aid recovery and help us in the medium to long term.

Next, follow Boris' lead, stand up for the City, oppose the EU hedge funds directive and whatever else they want to damage the City with.

Reflections on Lisbon

Lisbon enters into force tomorrow. Will it render the UK to the history books?

We already know quite plainly that the method of this treaty's passing was disgraceful; no referendum, even if it was exactly the same as the constitution they promised a referendum on. And if it's a constitution, since states have constitutions does this not now make the EU a sovereign state?

Brussels Journal has the statehood line

With the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty on Tuesday 1 December, members of the European Parliament, who up to now have been “representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community” (Art.189 TEC), become “representatives of the Union’s citizens” (Art.14 TEU).
I am a British citizen. I do not recognise myself as a citizen of the "Union". "European citizenship" is an alien concept to me, as I'm sure it is to many other "Europeans". Surely if I and others consider ourselves UK citizens, the country is the UK? The purpose of referendums is often to define nationality. Take Montenegro. They voted to become Montenegrons, rather than Yugoslavians or whatever it was that week. So if I do not consider myself one of the "Union's citizens", am I no longer represented by the European Parliament? Who are "the Union's citizens"? Who do the MEPs represent? Quite clearly they are becoming more and more detached, since they represent people that don't exist! I'm a subject of the British crown, not a citizen of the European Union!

I suppose I have to avoid being too cynical and Daily Mail-esque sometimes. Will this create an EU superstate? I'd say that a state cannot exist without the consent of its citizens, but then again, what about South Ossetia, or the Serbs in Kosovo? I have a distinct identity, a British identity, not some European identity.

But then again, do the political class listen? Versailles, 1919 - for all the talk of self-determination, the politicians set most of the borders (though yes there were plebiscites). Is this really the first time we've been invaded, since 1066, but without any armed force at all?

The Brussels Journal piece I linked to earlier notes the clause "The Union shall be founded on the present Treaty". Does this clause not create a new European Union, a new state?

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, not even a political scientist, but to me this is the foundation of a new state. A state needs citizens, and Lisbon provides for them, even when the citizens don't want to be citizens. Honestly, the transfer of powers is disgusting. But only time will tell.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

What policy?

From the government of policy conflicts comes yet another one.

I know it's meaningless, but having put a bill in the Queen's Speech forcing the next government to cut the deficit, they have been spending willy-nilly and getting us into more debt.

One rule for them, another for the unfortunate government (probably Conservative) who has to sort it out.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

What if we left the EU?

Interesting question. Interesting video from the Taxpayers Alliance.



Got my copy of "Ten Years On" yesterday, and will get around to reading it at some point.
As I've always said, a free trade agreement is the British way.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Nationalising the labour market

First nurses and degrees, now bankers' contracts are being controlled by the state. In a piece of short-termist populism, Labour have potentially sounded death knells for the City.

London needs the City. Britain needs the City. Without the City, who are we? It all goes back to the comparative advantage we have in finance, a theory that Adam Smith talked about a couple of hundred years back. I complain that the minimum wage is an undue interference on the freedom of contract between employer and employee, so this potential maximum wage is horrendous. What right does the state have to stop a bank using its profits to pay its bankers? Perhaps instead the state should stop supporting irresponsible practices, by bailing out and guaranteeing everything, and by making credit far too easy for far too long. If the shareholders don't like the bonuses, shares will drop. That is deterrence in itself.

Gordon Brown keeps saying he wants to "change the banking sector" and suchlike. The market will reallocate and change the banking sector, not the government, who don't have a clue what's needed. In the meantime, sort out the regulation as to minimise the size of credit bubbles.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Brown - wrong!

Gordon Brown often claims that the Conservatives are "wrong on recession".

Wait a minute.

We are still in recession. The government's policies are clearly not working well, stopping the market reallocating resources.

And Brown claims that the Conservative position is 'wrong', that Conservative policies would stop recovery.

Brown's policy isn't working. Conservative policy isn't in place. Therefore, how can Brown say that Conservative policy is wrong? Can he somehow see the future?

Logical fail.

11th November

May they rest in peace.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Lisbon Treaty Referendum Bill

Guido's found the draft referendum bill.



Obviously I don't have legal expertise, but to me I agree with Guido that there would be nothing wrong with that Bill. That is, as long as Britain is seen as a separate nation state, making its own laws. If the European Union gains statehood (and it better not) there could be a problem from how I see it.

If Lisbon is ratified, de-ratifying it......is it a treaty, or is it a constitutional document?

The Economist and Royal Mail

Last week I criticised the Economist's lack of coverage of postal strikes, the Royal Mail, etc. I take that back.

This week they have a leader calling for privatisation as the best way to take it forward. To respond to falling demand, private companies like TNT are better placed. I agree.

Saw this in my Economist which came on Tuesday, rather than Saturday. The Royal Mail - a right mess.

Privatisation is the best way to ensure that the public does not, instead, end up serving the post office.

Bang on.

Mandates

Over Europe I've heard two things over the last couple of days, that of general election mandates and referendum mandates.

Which one is stronger? General elections tend to be more general, and if Cameron wants to focus on the economy not Europe, it will be no means be as strong as an explicit mandate to renegotiate via a referendum. The referendum shows that the majority of British people want to change their nation's relationship with the EU - to make it a more British relationship, rather than subscribing to continental ideology.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

On Lisbon, referendums and UKIP

I think we should have a referendum on the EU - in fact an in/out one. I'd rather see us in a trading agreement, since that's a more suitable way of doing things for Britain; the British political and economic model is not the same as the EU/continental one. Can we hold a referendum on Lisbon? Not really - it's been ratified by all member states. I suppose we could hold one before it comes into practice on the 1st December, but that's not going to happen.

I think the current situation is disappointing, and I'm not completely thrilled with Cameron's speech, but it'll do. Having reflected on it a bit, I think it sets the right tone - power from the EU to Britain. But will that happen? It'll take strength on Cameron's part. The best he can do is argue that Britain will be a 'better' member of the EU if it has an arrangement with it that suits Britain, i.e. the free trade agreement as I said earlier - that's just the way Britain is, a freedom-loving country. The possible second term referendum if negotiation doesn't go the right way will hopefully scare Brussels, but I still think Cameron needs to be stronger on that one. Some bits are meaningless, like the legal guarantee to future referendums (Lisbon is self-amending). But I think it's generally the right direction to be going.

On the referendum - Cameron has not reneged on anything. He made the commitment (cast-iron guarantee) in 2007, on the eve of a potential snap election. That didn't happen, and the Conservatives supported a Lisbon referendum when it came to Parliament. Promise kept. Labour and the Lib Dems reneged on a manifesto pledge (as opposed to something in the Sun) when it was possible to hold the referendum. Now it isn't possible, this is a new position - Lisbon is in place, and a referendum would be meaningless. I understand the view that it would be a strong mandate on renegotiation, but a Lisbon referendum? No - a referendum on renegotiation specifically - I like what David Davis said about a double-referendum to give the mandate, and approve the plan. As well as this, how hypocritical for Labour to claim that the Conservatives are reneging on their promises? They reneged on the referendum when it was actually possible.

People might tell me to go off and vote UKIP; after all I disagree with party policy on Europe. In fact I disagree with party policy on many things, but I will not join a single-issue party that will not gain power and in fact may stop a party that holds similar principles to it gaining power. They say they want to stop 50 or 60 Conservative MPs winning seats - so they want a Europhilic Labour government instead of a not-quite-as-Eurosceptic-as-them Conservative government? The Conservative Party shares my conservative principles, and since it's the best way to get the principles into government, I'll support the Party. Voting UKIP will do nothing except let a Labour government in that will sell us out to the EU even more. Conservative MPs are generally Eurosceptic, Labour MPs aren't.

You go and support UKIP if you want, but they won't gain MPs, you'll just let Europhile Labour back in.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Artificial sperm and eggs

Had to laugh at Mac's interpretation of it.

The minimum wage should not rise

The TUC is calling for the minimum wage to rise by 20p, to £6. Quite clearly they don't realise that we are in recession (or are ignorant).

Wage rigidity is a major cause of unemployment and indeed depressions - they hold back job creation and therefore the utility of unused capacity to increase growth.

But that isn't the point - why is government intervening in the labour market? All the minimum wage does is stops people willingly working for lower than the minimum wage getting jobs. Does anyone fill up your car with petrol now? No. In fact, despite what they say about it "not causing any unemployment in the previous 12 years", it actually priced a certain band of people out of the labour market altogether and pushed them on to state benefits - those who can only work for lower wages. They need the experience of a lower paid job first perhaps, then can move upwards and into higher paid work. (Obviously Labour just wants to throw them all straight towards university to read Media Studies).

It's one thing having a minimum wage in the good years, but in a recession it's economic suicide. It shouldn't be increased, it should be scrapped, or at least suspended until employment levels have recovered. Wage fluidity is a must in hard times - distorting markets makes them reallocate resources a lot less quickly.

I also can't understand why David Cameron calls it a "good thing" (why do no MPs stand up against it?) - I think it's a good thing having a job and a bad thing being on benefits because you're priced out of the labour market!

Once again trade unions push for economic suicide - and clearly don't recognise that better living conditions is long run - you may start on a lower wage, but you'll get to a higher wage and better living standards in a matter of years. It's better than not having a job and relying on the state.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

So what are they for then?

ISA checks for those who don't work with children.

I realise it's not compulsory, just people looking for a competitive advantage in the market, but it's sad that anyone would care about the relevance of the ISA.

The problem is that this mass movement towards people getting ISAs will get everyone swept into it, meaning everyone is submitting themselves to a government database. I suppose the same argument is made against capitalism regularly. But that's private firms and not all-knowing government.

I don't know whether to play devil's advocate or not with this one.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

EU President

I don't think there should be an EU President, at any point. I don't think Lisbon has democratic legitimacy - British voters had legitimate expectations of a referendum (2005 manifesto - all parties) and didn't get one - and Ireland had to vote twice.

But if we are resigned, the last person it should go to is Blair. He jumped before the electorate got rid of him here (the Commission is the place for failed politicians, so it's a surprise he isn't there yet), and practically sold us out to the EU - rebate gone, opt-outs gone, British interests not defended. Would he defend British interests as EU President? Or more to the point, would he be allowed to defend British interests as EU President? Would his oath forbid it? Would, by having a British EU President (who none of us want in the first place) we be forced into "full" membership - the Euro, Schengen, etc?

And to get rid of a discredited Labour government, only for the new supreme president to be the former leader of this discredited government, would just irritate the voters.

Let him speak to the few who want to hear him - and leave him well away from a post no one wants him in (and no one wants the post!)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

BBC: biased and lacking logic

What?
This may be a surprise, given Germany's history of maintaining a highly regulated "social market economy," and the fact that its export-focused industry is suffering badly because of the market failure that has devastated industrialised economies the world over.
So the market failure mantra appears again, and surprisingly enough trying to say that freer markets as the result of the crash is a surprising response.

But wait a minute. They can't even get their logic right. A "highly regulated social market economy". That's not a free market. Market failure? Clearly the market isn't causing the failure. Perhaps the regulation is causing the failure? Perhaps tax cuts are the right idea, so Germans have more disposable income to spend on goods. Might reduce their export dependency too.

But yet again the BBC doesn't have a clue. The markets failed because they were distorted by governments. Blaming "the market", which is just a means of exchange, misses the point.

What Nick Griffin really thought

Very funny video, and probably has a sense of truth through all of Griffin's I don't have a clue what they'll accept me saying mentality on Thursday night.


Postal Strikes

My copy of the Economist hasn't come today. Not that I particularly like reading the Keynesian "consensus" and other rubbish (see climate change), but I suppose as far as economics journals go there's not much better. Shame that something that was founded in opposition to the Corn Laws doesn't seem to support free markets as much as it should.

It makes me wonder - a lot of my post has been sent via TNT (the logos on the envelopes and such) - so why doesn't the Economist do the same? I suppose it might still be praising the fiscal stimulus (that clearly hasn't worked anyway) to think about practical issues, like losing subscribers. In fact, looking online (since it's probably the best way to beat the strike), they haven't even got an article about the postal strikes. Will there be one next week, after the strike has taken hold a little?

What does the Economist really stand for at all?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Six quarters of negative growth

Labour's recovery policies are really working, aren't they?

This is the longest and worst recession since records began in the 1950s - and the reasons we aren't coming out of it are quite simple.

1. No business confidence. The growing budget deficit is seen as deferred taxation. They also don't like the look of the 50% rate, or the possible EU hedge funds directive. Therefore, businesses don't want to expand supply again.

2. Banks cannot lend. The interest rates are low yes, and the money supply has been expanded through QE, but that extra money is just being stored up in banks' reserves. The problem here is that the regulator is trying to look like it's doing something, and has implemented a measure that should have come at the top of the boom, not in the recession - higher capital ratios. Banks don't actually have enough money to lend (and no one wants to save because of the ultra-low interest rates), so regulation is one reason that we aren't getting out of the slump. Then we have crazy suggestions like the windfall tax on banks' profits, which would surely stop the financial sector's recovery for a bit longer.

Keynesianism has been tried again. Just like in the 1930s, it's failed again. Regulation has been tried again. Just as its hopelessness helped the crash occur, its hopelessness will prevent recovery.

Nick Griffin on Question Time

He was absolutely hopeless. He seemed to regard the whole thing as some sort of joke from what I could see, grinning at the most inappropriate of times. He was very shifty and couldn't give a straight answer (funny that he criticises the mainstream parties for similar things).

It's quite obvious why he couldn't give a straight answer - he doesn't want to air his openly racist views on national television. He even tried to say that European law prohibited him from being openly racist, denying the Holocaust, etc.

Either way, I think it would have made those considering the BNP realise that they are an odious bunch, not to be taken seriously.

I also wasn't happy how it became all about the BNP - we have a postal strike going on, we are in a recession, and as the old saying goes, a week is a long time in politics. This is Question Time - why not ask the other questions? How about Nick Griffin's view on the postal strike - surely that would expose his left-wing economic policy, something that reads somewhere in between Labour's 1983 manifesto and Hitler's programme for government. In fact, I wasn't happy that Jack Straw said that "groups on the right [stir up racial hatred]". Are the BNP right-wing? Their economic policy certainly isn't, and I don't know what is socially "right-wing" these days. Why not expose the BNP's generally authoritarian views, rather than just concentrate on race?

Missed opportunity in some ways, I feel.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Shortlists

I'm aware I'm a bit late on this, but Cameron is looking at all-woman shortlists, imposed from the centre. This is not a conservative response to a problem!

Yes, there aren't that many women in Parliament. There are some very good women (Ann Widdecomme comes to mind) who got there by merit. The only female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, got there by merit. That is the conservative way - the best person for the job gets it - an extension of Smith's division of labour surely.

That principle should be applied here. We want the best MPs, not the best female MPs, because they won't necessarily be the best MPs (they might, but it's not as likely). As well as this, isn't it quite insulting to women that they have to be given favours to gain seats over men?

ConservativeHome sums it up very well for me. It also mentions the central imposition of shortlists - it is up for the local association to choose a shortlist, and the candidate should be chosen in an open primary.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Depressionomics

Ministers are planning a windfall tax raid on banks. What?!

Let's put this in context. Banks are expected to have much higher capital ratios (knee-jerk reaction from the regulator) so are trying to build them up, with low interest rates (so no-one wants to save money to build them up) yet are still expected to lend out money.

So acting in a government-like way, you could say, they also plan a huge tax on profits. This will only have the effect of delaying any recovery. The financial services sector is the bedrock of our economy; if we hold it down, we won't recover. Additionally this tax will hit the banks that made profit and generally weren't bailed out - Lloyds et al made losses and won't suffer. Rewarding failure anyone?

It doesn't inspire anyone with any confidence, in two ways - will banks be able to hold up their capital ratios in the future to be able to lend? How? And as well as this, another policy clash shows no sign of direction from the government. It's just a populist, knee-jerk measure. They are trying to win an election (or minimise their losses), not create growth in the economy.

Not only is this a stupid proposal, but it also extends the idea that bankers are totally to blame for this - ignoring the real problems - too low interest rates and too loose credit suddenly tightened to very high interest rates and tight credit, coupled with the hopeless FSA who didn't enforce capital ratios during the boom and pushed them up far too high in the bust. Government was the primary cause of this crash, not the bankers - they were just doing their job in the conditions available.

And wouldn't a windfall tax on profits make bankers pay themselves higher bonuses, in order to reduce the overall profit level? I'm sure this government could come up with another stealth tax though.

John Redwood called it putting one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake; now the government is planning to pull up the handbrake too.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Indoctrination

No, no, no. Wrong on all levels.

The EU should not be mandating lessons about itself. It will turn into propaganda (as if the current content of the curriculum isn't).

MEPs complain about the "no" side campaigning about abortion and conscription into a European Army, both of those are legitimate concerns (it's a self-amending treaty after all). It's the hypocrisy that bothers me - they made it a treaty about the economy, about jobs - which were a load of rubbish.

If that's the level they put a referendum campaign on, I doubt their lessons will be much better.

I oppose the National Curriculum - schools should teach what they want to, and parents choose. Compulsory "EU" lessons....well I suppose they have to know who supports this "global warming" nonsense, and the hypocrisy of the Strasbourg-Brussels travel.

Already everything has to have a focus on this "global citizenship and sustainable development" rubbish, at least in Wales (left-lib AGW-hysteria indoctrination in other words) now. Bring the EU into it too? Please, just no.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

On the TV debates

I've seen various comments about them - "they'll only be watched by political anoraks" and the like.

Wrong.

The number of people who I know, who are certainly not political anoraks, many of them not even that interested in politics at all, who have said they will be watching them and that they will be good is huge.

If they are a representative sample of the general population (and my sample is sixth formers who will most likely be 18 by the general election) then they will be popular to all, not just the anoraks.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Asset sales

Gordon Brown is going to sell off £16bn worth of assets to fund borrowing.

I agree with privatisation - but only when done properly. In the 1980s Thatcher's government sold off state companies so workers could own parts; a real expansion of property rights. Now, Brown would be likely to sell them off to big business. Thatcher sold them off for ideological reasons. Brown is selling them off to fund his spending spree (no sign of it slowing down).

As well as that, would we get £32bn if we sold them off in, say, 5 years? We are at the bottom of the market (remember the gold?) and they wouldn't go for much. This also isn't a cut to plug the deficit, just to fund more spending.

I don't oppose the privatisations in principle. We don't need a state bookmaker, the state doesn't need to administer student loans, and it doesn't need to own the Channel Tunnel rail link. It also doesn't need to own the Dartford Crossing, and while they are at it, why don't they sell off the motorway network to several operators (not just the one, keep it competitive)? Will traffic use local roads? Maybe, but if they can't cope, motorways will happily take the extra traffic, and drivers will demand them if the alternatives are clogged up. Might get government to invest in roads a bit too.

Just sell them off in a few years when we're in better times, and sell them off properly, the way Thatcher did it.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Klaus' new delaying tactic

This gives me more confidence of a referendum.

Adding a footnote. Would that not change the treaty, therefore require re-ratification across all states? After renegotiation?

Cameron's speech to the conference

It was by no means his best speech, but was definitely a good one.

His attack on big government was welcome; he has shown that he believes in conservative (small-c) values of trusting people to help themselves, rather than government doing it for them. He seems to have some sort of vision, some sort of way forward. He recognises the tough choices he's going to make.

Obviously we don't have plans at this stage, because we don't know what state we'll be in next May, but they would be a welcome addition when the election comes around. Cameron will need to show that he recognises that the fundamental issue is the relationship between the individual and the state, and indeed the size of the state; it must be tackled straight away. The state plays too big a part in everyday life, and Labour have made it the solution to everything, even when it really shouldn't be.

The economy will grow on enterpreneurs' and the private sector's backs, not off the government. Government just recycles money taken from productive sectors, wasting bits of it in the process.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Ready to govern

Michael Gove's speech today showed the real talent of the Conservative Party. It was a forward-looking speech, that showed the Conservatives as ready to govern. It was a real blessing to read.

Education failure is very true in Britain, however much the government tries to inflate grades. The curriculum is dumbed down, I experience it now, I notice how past paper questions get easier the more recent they are. I noticed how much of a joke the new Science GCSE was. Will it help me at all in later life? Probably not. Across the curriculum, there's too much emphasis on the environment, and "global citizenship", whatever that's meant to mean. I notice how none of these subjects, even Economics at A Level, try to get you to develop your own opinions.

I've heard teachers say that even if we fail, they still get paid. Is that right? Clearly not. Either way, to pass, all you have to do is memorise how to answer questions, and whatever rubbish is on the syllabus (sorry, specification) this week.

I think Michael Gove hit the right notes in his speech. He has a real agenda, a real way forward; he sees the problem and is setting out how to change it. He wants to set schools free from bureaucrats - which is the right way to go about radical education reform. Teachers, and the teaching profession, know what's right, they know what works - they've been there before. Bureaucrats haven't, and neither have most government ministers.

I think there's one more thing that Gove needs to do to complete this - and that's allow new "Swedish-style" schools to make profits. That way they have a capital base to expand, to build more schools, to make them demand-responsive - that's the way it works in Sweden. If he doesn't, I don't see the take-up being as great, which will turn public opinion against it wrongly. Thatcher started the revolution in the attitude to wealth, reversing the post-war collectivist consensus; now we need to continue this - there's nothing wrong with allowing the education and health sectors to make profits, since it will allow innovation and indeed demand response - if they try to make profit rather than educate properly, parents will take their children elsewhere, simple.

But generally it's a real shining light. Gove or Balls as Education Secretary? It's not hard to decide.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Cameron and the EU, part 2

At some point, he'll have to say what he's going to do.

Avoiding the question on the basis of "the Poles and the Czechs haven't ratified yet" is missing the point, since they are going to ratify it soon, let's be totally honest. Eventually the public will get tired of hearing it, and want some principle.

However, if he doesn't want Lisbon, something to do now, as I suggested several days back, is to say he will hold an in/out referendum on EU membership if Lisbon is ratified.

Not only will that get the Eurocrats worrying (and possibly trying to stop ratification, who knows?), but it would probably be the only referendum he could hold post-Lisbon - Lisbon is self-amending so no more referendums on transfer of powers, it's not like the EU will allow a referendum on new opt-outs/transfers of power back to Westminister (or would self-amend them away anyway), and would probably give him an awful lot more support.

Free trade with Europe is the British way, political union is not. We've been independent since 1066 for a good reason - we like to be ruled by ourselves.

The SNP are deluded

The SNP might take legal action if Alex Salmond isn't allowed in the leaders' debate.

Quite clearly they do not recognise that this is a debate before a general election, between potential prime ministers (ok, perhaps Clegg won't be, but there's a technical possibility). The SNP will not be returned to power; they aren't standing in enough seats. Therefore, why would they take part in a debate? Alex Salmond won't be our next Prime Minister, he actually can't be.

Threatening to block the screening of it in Scotland if they can't take part is big government blackmail, plain and simple. We know exactly where they stand.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lisbon Treaty and slavery?

Pathetic piece by Lib Dem Voice today, asking if those calling for a third "decider" referendum (generally as a joke) would have ever allowed slavery to be abolished, and asks if it should take 4 election wins for Cameron to gain power.

It's generally illogical - Farage (who the article attacks) was against a second referendum. Surely those of us who opposed a second referendum are the ones who would have abolished slavery, as this article goes? What was the Lib Dem's position on the second referendum?

This sort of rubbish brings the blogosphere down.

Blue Newport West?

According to PoliticsHome, it's certainly a possibility.

Having gained the city council in 2008, an MP in 2010 would be a vindication.

That said, although I disagree with Flynn on many issues, he's a good constituency MP.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

To the people of Ireland

For the sake of democracy, and for the sake of all people of Europe, please vote no tomorrow, and tell the Eurocrats no means no.

Summing up 12 years of Labour

Illiberal.

The plan is to bar suspected wife-beaters from their homes for 2 weeks while the wife decides the next step. Note suspected. There is no proof of this, no evidence to be presented, there just has to be an accusation, and property rights are overridden.

The move is intended to close a loophole in the current law under which police can only offer immediate protection to a victim if a suspect is charged.

Also know as the presumption of innocence. That's no loophole, that's the entire basis of our judicial system.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Blackmail

The Czech Republic will lose its commissioner if it does not ratify the treaty, Barroso has said. The Commission must be smaller than the number of member states, so apparently the Parliament will reject the Czech commissioner - no basis on merit at all.

This act is sickening. It is trying to force a nation into signing an undemocratic treaty by threatening it with loss of power - so ensuring they will be punished for not losing power through Lisbon.

The Commission wants this Constitution, Lisbon Treaty, call it what you want, so much that they will stop at nothing. This deliberate act of aggression should be challenged. The Czechs know better I hope than to give in to this - it worked in 1938 and is potentially the reason to hold up the treaty.

The European Union democratic? Let's be realistic here.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

What does it have to do with the state?

Ofsted has ruled that looking after your friend's children for a "reward" is illegal.

I realise that there is a big media scare, all of the time, about paedophiles and the like, but is it really any business of the government to tell parents whether they can pay for their friends to babysit their children?

It's all built on trust - as is the market - that one person's friend will not harm their child, and that both sides will fulfill their sides of the deal (A babysits B's child, so B babysits A's child later in the week) otherwise they'd lose the benefit of a friend babysitting their child (or even lose a friend). It's about what's best for both sides - and indeed what's best for the child.

Mothers could work part-time without this Ofsted judgement to cater for their child better, their child could socialise (in a way) with the friend's child, and not to mention the increased income tax (and VAT) returns for the government.

Not to mention, what problem is this solution a response to? Has someone's friend abused another child? Not that I've heard of. And also a decision made by an unelected quango, not Parliament or even the courts.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The BBC is factually wrong

This in a report about the English Democrats:

The party wants to end subsidies from Westminster to Scotland and Wales and abolish the regional assemblies supported by the three main parties.
No, the Conservatives don't support regional assemblies, in fact Cameron has said he'll scrap them if he wins the election.

The BBC should sort out its sources, and stop presenting the Balkanisation of Britain as some sort of "common direction".

Friday, 25 September 2009

Giving it away?

He was told that the MP for Newport West after May 7th next year was almost certainly at the meeting.


Is Paul Flynn giving the next general election date away? Since the 7th is a Friday, May 6th general election?

Read also James Delingpole in the Telegraph a couple of days ago.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Quote of the Day

Hoard of Anglo Saxon gold found ...... reports the BBC.

Don't tell Gordon Brown. He'll nick it, before swapping it for foreign pieces of paper.

Like he did last time.

Douglas Carswell says it how it is.

Why markets cannot be perfect, but government is worse still

It's ever so simple - humans aren't perfect. Since markets involve human transactions, they cannot be perfect.

However, that's no reason for government to intervene, for us to cry "market failure" etc etc. It is not a failure of the market, it is a failure of humans to transmit information properly. Government is even worse at transmitting information, since it doesn't rely on its own money (though yes there is the issue of democratic accountability) and tends to go with what looks nice rather than what's right.

Financial crashes, housing bubbles, etc are caused by either government and central banks having too loose monetary policy (then tightening them too quickly, circa 2007) or simply by human expectations being wrong (dotcom). And generally humans realise and adjust quicker, resulting in the market adjusting quickly.

Markets adjust. They supply more of a product when it's needed (although yes, they may misinterpret information beforehand, but that's just humans). Governments don't do it as well. They might, but they don't always notice.

Markets aren't perfect. We should accept that, but realise that government cannot do a better job, since it's a human creation rather than human consequence.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Eurofederalists support a Lisbon referendum?

Really? I doubt it.

Cameron, as far as I can see, is no EU sell-out. Obviously when and if he gains power, it'll be something to watch, but I don't think the party will let him - it's generally too Eurosceptic.

"Hand the decision to the BBC"? Sounds far too conspiracy theory-type for me. British people are generally fiercely independent, we know about BBC bias.

And it is a necessary referendum, as I explained in my last post - it involves transfer of political power. Not only that, but 70% of the population want it. As well as this, the general call for a referendum was because that was what the three main parties promised (and only one kept to) - there was no "wrecking amendment" in the manifesto.

I think the important thing will be to withdraw ratification, then hold the referendum, then re-ratify or withdraw altogether depending on the vote. Otherwise some funny things could be done in other countries to make the referendum practically invalid.

Cameron and the EU

Ireland could still vote either way (despite the propaganda the EU has flooded them with) but there could be another way that Lisbon is taken down: with the help of Vaclav Klaus. David Cameron has written a letter to him in support of Klaus' position of not signing the treaty, promising to hold a referendum if it has not been ratified.

If Klaus and Cameron pull this off, could it be a modern day Thatcher-Reagan pact? In fact I'm quite interested in Ashley Fox MEP's comment on ConservativeHome that the Czech MEPs in the ECR are saying that Klaus is simply going to refuse to sign it. For the UK to withdraw ratification of the treaty would surely be its death knells, due to the UK's sheer economic weight. It should have been put to the people in a referendum across Europe anyway; it is about the transfer of political power (and we had referendums for elected mayors).

But what if it is ratified when Cameron comes to power? I will ignore UKIP and co's arguments that Cameron doesn't want a referendum as scaremongering, but would it actually be possible for revision after ratification? This being the EU, probably not, but it would take a strong man to stand up and withdraw ratification unilaterally (and potentially be acting illegally). A more sensible promise would be to promise a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if it has not been ratified, and a referendum on EU membership (since they have ignored the will of the people) if it has been ratified. Not only would that get the Eurocrats worried, but it might stop Lisbon too.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Lib Dems: personal attacks and empty promises

The Lib Dems are just proving themselves, time and time again, to be a complete joke of a party. They know they aren't going to get elected, so they come up with stupid policies and personal attacks.

I won't waste time talking about personal attacks, which are generally a sign of losing the argument, but the 'mansion tax' proposal is so poorly thought out that it would be completely unworkable. The main problem is based on ability to pay, what brought down the poll tax. People can (generally) afford to pay income tax, since obviously they are getting an income. Corporation tax is a tax on profits, and companies will move around if need be. Sales taxes are based on being able to afford a product. Obviously if any are too high, there may not be an ability to pay, but that's another issue.

A tax based on the value of a house ignores who lives there, and their income. Can a pensioner pay £2,000 a year just for living in a nice house? With their income already low (and reduced potentially further due to Brown's raid on private pension funds), probably not. It just becomes a jealousy tax, saying that success in life is some sort of bad thing. Perhaps it isn't even due to that; they've just been caught up in the housing bubble.

How do you measure the value of a property? How often? Assuming a tax is collected annually, that involves independent valuations of many houses, including some that will be below the £1m threshold. Would the threshold be raised with inflation? Would the valuations be made by the private sector, or would government officials do it? Would the council give the valuer a bonus for saying it is valued at over £1m? Hayek's Road to Serfdom comes to mind once more.

When you sell a house, you have to be optimistic at first, then pull your price down until you find a buyer. That's the nature of the housing market; in no market is information perfect. If I was to sell a house, would I have to get a state valuation, or even possibly an overpriced valuation due to the huge increase in demand? As usual government intervention distorts the market.

I'm sure there are many other ways that this proposal could be ripped apart. But it's simply an unworkable proposal that brings back the pre-Thatcher view that generating wealth is bad, and should make people question whether Vince Cable is that economic guru they thought he was.

None of this actually matters though, because the Lib Dems will never gain power to implement this crazy idea.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Ireland to vote no again?

According to England Expects, this is a definite possibility with this new opinion poll. The methodology is being brought into question, so the poll may be flawed, but it could be good news for all those who believe in stopping the rise of the EU's power.

From reports I've heard Ireland has been flooded with Europhile propaganda, all paid with by our money, and the No side has had very little coverage. This Europhile nonsense includes "the economy will suffer if you vote no" - the economy will suffer if you vote yes because Ireland will have to increase its corporation tax rate in the name of harmonisation. Seems they've thrown the equal coverage rule out of the window then.

With this, and Poland and the Czech Republic (where it has been referred to the Constitutional Court again - 6 month delay), it looks like it may be the British public, courtesy of David Cameron, who destroy the consti-treaty once and for all. Let's just hope he keeps his promise.

If, however, the Irish happen to vote yes, that conference will be quite tense.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Just completely wrong

The government is introducing proposals to blame all crashes on the larger vehicle. So it's the car's fault not the cyclist's, the cyclist's not the pedestrians.

All this goes against the whole idea of a fair hearing, if we assume the car must be at fault. What about the cyclists that pull out, the ones that pay no attention to red lights, that don't use junctions properly - is it really the driver's fault if they are breaking the rules of the road? It's all peculiar, and really should be left to courtrooms not politicians.

I also see a proposal on the report to introduce a blanket 20mph limit on residential streets. First of all what is a residential street (there are many that could be considered for this category, but could easily be 40mph streets) and why introduce a speed limit that will just be broken and is often unnecessary? It's for local councils to decide, not central government.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Currency should be chosen by the market, not the UN

The UN's plans to create a new global supercurrency to replace the dollar are back in the news, this time with the reason given being anti-Americanism. From Fox:
According to Flassbeck demand for the US dollar is “irrational.”
Is it really? Are humans not naturally irrational? Isn't it more likely that one human (Flassbeck) is likely to be irrational than many who demand the dollar?

If I'm willing to pay you in dollars, and you're willing to sell me something in exchange for dollars, so be it. If we are both willing to use pounds, euros, yen, blue tack or livestock in exchange for a product, why should government, or indeed a supranational body like the UN tell us we cannot use it? It's a means of exchange, not something that government needs to get involved in.

And perhaps if there was a bit of competition in currency, they wouldn't swing about so much, or lose their value so quickly. Hayek was probably right.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Postal workers on strike again

It seems that, at least in Newport, they are, and I haven't received any post this morning.

It's about time that the CWU was taught that they cannot hold the country to ransom. Mail levels are falling, therefore jobs will fall, simple. The Royal Mail is already incapable of handling demand - last week I had to wait 20 minutes to pick up a parcel, and there were 7 counters closed. I'm sure they have too many counters open when demand is low too.

All of this stems from poor management, which is what happens when you put government in charge of absolutely anything. Royal Mail does not respond to demand, customer needs, or lack of government money. It's about time it was privatised to provide it with better management and demand responsiveness.

The argument that it is somehow necessary to have a government-run postal service is diminished by the advent of internet communications (note: provided by the market). The market would provide postal and courier services much more efficiently due to competition, with customers able to take their money and post elsewhere if, for example, something was lost in the post. It should also keep prices low.

So what if none of the private couriers will deliver government postage, the left cries? Is buying a few vans and using them too simple a solution for bureaucrats? Same response for the national security argument. Then of course the jobs argument, the main reason the CWU are striking, and it's one word - efficiency - the preserve of the free market.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

How does she get away with this?

Harriet Harman is back on her feminazi soapbox today.

She does "not agree with all-male leaderships" because men "cannot be left to run things on their own" she told the Sunday Times.

She'd have a go at me if I said "women cannot be left to run things on their own". It seems this "equality" drive is now a drive for domination and blatant sexism left unchecked. If men are better for the job, so be it. If women are better, they get the job. Simple as that - merit. Trying to put women into roles just for the sake of balancing the sexes is pretty much saying that since women aren't good enough to take the job against men, they have to be given special treatment, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few women found that quite insulting.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Placing lives at risk

Once again the EU tries to impose their continental employment model on us by further breaching freedom of contract - a 48 hour week for junior doctors.

This is a vital stage in their careers, and at this rate training will have to be prolonged, hence increases in debt and so on. It also means that potentially there will be less doctors to treat patients, as my title says placing lives at risk and further increasing waiting lists. You then get the BNP etc complaining at the increase in foreign doctors in our hospitals.

But nothing more than this is the breach of the freedom of contract; the dynamic labour market based on supply and demand - doctors generally accept they'll have to work antisocial hours, and by devoting their lives to this career they accept that. So why stop them earning all the money they are willing to earn? This sort of regulation distorts the labour market.

I also thought we'd saved our opt-out from the 48-hour week. It's about time we left the EU and left continental Europe to rue becoming uncompetitive while Britain controls its own affairs and does well based on old Anglo-Saxon free market principles. It's ever so simple.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

(By) election day

So all eyes on Norwich North later today as they decide who will replace Ian Gibson who resigned after he was deselected. The polls are suggesting a good win for the Conservative candidate Chloe Smith, but I think it'll be close and interesting - a good marker will be the turnout.

I'm not expecting minority parties to do too well, but I'm interested to see how well they do.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The House of Lords and constitutional reform

So while we are in the worst recession in living memory, the government attempts to create a distraction by going for some populist and traditional-voter-appeasing policies - Lords reform - removing the remaining hereditary peers.

The hereditary peers should never have been removed in the first place - they provided a good check on illiberal policies and the executive, something seriously lacking since Blair's gerrymandering of the late 90s. Now they have been shown to be the least sleazy - the bad Lords are generally appointed Labour lords.

The problem here is that the Lords has become a glorified quango - a means of elected dictatorship, a bit of window dressing. There's no accountability when the people you are meant to hold to account appoint you!

However I don't see the hereditary peers returning, so we have to look one way - to democracy. I don't want to see a carbon copy of the Commons. The Lords has to be a chamber of experts and local politicians - I'd like to see elected mayors sitting in the Lords, as well as other elected "experts" - although how an "expert" is determined for election is difficult, since you have the regulating the regulator problem.

It really is an open-ended question, but whatever happens, it must be more accountable. At least there's one good speck in this bill - the ban on protests outside Parliament that have been affront to British liberty for too long would be ended. However it's just a small part of the bill, and not one everything else should rest on.

Britain constitutionally needs a renegotiation of the EU arrangement and a localist agenda to devolve power as locally as possible, with each budget-setting authority raising its own funds. This is more important than the issue of the Lords.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Blocking Andreason is a disgrace

Marta Andreason, the former EU chief accountant (and whistleblower) turned UKIP MEP has been blocked from becoming the Vice President of the Budgetary Committee by EPP and PES MEPs who fear "scandal". Or more to the point, they fear the horrific budget being exposed by Andreason (again) and have taken to political, unaccountable means (secret ballot) to do so.

Andreason, regardless of political affiliation, is the perfect candidate for the role - she has experience and knows about, well, accounting and budgetary. She would also take the role of a committee vice president properly, holding the executive to account, the whole point of a committee. The EPP and PES, being Europhile nonsensists, want to further the EU integration and federalisation, so naturally oppose the Commission being shown up for what it is - an utterly hopeless organisation. They are also enemies of accountability - they blocked her on political lines, not meritocratic lines - a real disgrace to democracy, which again is seriously lacking in the EU, even its supposedly democratic chamber.

Banking regulation

First of all, I apologise for not posting in a while - although exams are over, life has been hectic.

David Cameron hits the right notes with the briefing for his speech on regulatory reform. Having already been told by Osborne that the FSA would be scrapped, we have an idea of how banks would be regulated.

It makes sense for the central bank to regulate - it knows how much banks are borrowing, knows what the economy is doing, and so on - after all it has to set interest rates every month. Not only this, but we are told that the Bank of England warned the FSA about the risks taken, but the FSA took no action - incompetence.

Breaking up RBS/HBOS is a welcome step too - no bank should become too big to fail, and no bank should be bailed out by the government - the economy is better off without bad banks.

However the MPC especially has to look at the prime cause of the financial crash - keeping interest rates too low for too long and encouraging over-borrowing. The only viable solution would be to allow the market to set interest rates, since it is more efficient than nine central bankers. That way, as demand for borrowing increases, interest rates are raised by banks to get a greater return and to encourage saving to build up a capital base; in the same way interest rates will fall if banks want to encourage borrowing. I know it isn't a perfect theory, but should be more efficient than the current macroeconomic consensus we have today.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Greed Tube

It appears that Bob Crow and the RMT are holding London at ransom again. They earn more than nurses, paramedics, teachers and dentists to sit on their backside and drive a train, but want 5% more (well above inflation) and a guarantee against redundancies.

Number one, if you take a pay rise there's less chance there won't be redundancies for obvious reasons. As well as that, we're in a recession and if demand falls, there will be redundancies, simple as.

£37k to drive a train around? They should be taking a pay cut. Privatise the Tube, see what they feel about things then. We need some Thatcherite power and conviction to beat the remaining militant unionism.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Conservatives win in Wales!

By 145,193 votes to 138,852, the Tories have indeed topped the poll in Wales for the first time since 1918; even better, they'd take my constituency of Newport West.

This is a huge surprise, and is quicker than the other results that are taking ages to arrive. The whole political landscape of Wales is changing.

Even more surprising was the UKIP MEP in Wales - Wales has been generally less Eurosceptic than the rest of Britain. I remember the UKIP Wales office down the road from me, and the election poster on Chepstow Road, but otherwise I haven't noticed them that much.

Either way, the future looks different, and I look forward to it.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Gordon's fired



Lord Alan Sugar, the way it should be.

Friday, 5 June 2009

And breathe


Today has been thoroughly enthralling in fact. So much has happened - we now have Lord Sugar, Deputy PM Mandelson and another Kinnock back on the Labour frontbench, but obviously sitting in the Lords (well, she couldn't win the Norwich North by-election, let's be honest). Otherwise not much to say about the reshuffle, which is practically moving the deckchairs on the Titanic - nothing will get much better.

And the county council map looks incredibly blue. It's blue, I accept, because people are unhappy with Gordon Brown. The local elections would, however, have been about local issues if the centralisation and constitutional vandalism (these unitary authorities irritate me - power to the lowest level? No, they certainly aren't), and the small matter of a general election. Might have increased turnout from 18% too.

Lord Sugar

Alan Sugar is the sort of person we need in the Lords - real world, business experience. However I can't understand why any right-minded person would take up a position in Gordon Brown's government.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

MAXIMUM wage?

Via Dizzy, apparently an MP has called for a maximum wage.

Higher incomes means more income tax, yes?

Offshore banking never looked so good.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

National Democratic Renewal Council

Gordon Brown's new MP regulatory quango. It sounds more like what you get when a military junta takes over in a banana republic for the transition to democracy than in a supposedly democratic nation.

Democratic renewal? It's ever so simple - call an election! You cannot reform politics without giving the people power.

How ironic that his solution to a problem of democracy is an UNDEMOCRATIC body chaired by an UNELECTED prime minister? The voters are the regulation; they just haven't been given the chance to regulate.

Gordon Brown has lost all authority

His cabinet is falling apart, it looks like we may have a Chancellor named Balls (and I joked about him when he was a possible in 2007) and he's leading the country into our largest budget deficit ever. He doesn't seem to like elections, or any types of vote (EU referendums?) - so since the EU Parliament is a bit of a joke, those of you who can vote (since I'm not quite yet of voting age) need to send out a message - he has no mandate.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Dang.

"Gordon Brown is also backing United and will watch the game on television, his Downing Street spokesman confirmed."

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The next Speaker?

I haven't posted on here for a while due to exams, but I think this is a decent issue to post about.

It was right for Michael Martin to resign; he clearly saw he had lost support and jumped before he was pushed.

I'm going to support Sir Alan Haselhurst. He's had his own expenses scandal, yes, but he's strong enough to stand up for Parliament (which we've lacked with Michael Martin) and deal with those MPs who put Parliament in a bad light. He's a strong character, and that's why he should be the next Speaker.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Speaker must go

For too long he's been the defender of the Labour regime, ticking off MPs who ask fully legitimate questions but doesn't expect ministers to give an honest answer, or a relevant answer. He did not defend Parliament in the Damian Green case, and his behaviour towards MPs such as Kate Hoey yesterday was, to be honest, shocking.

He fails to represent or respect Parliament, and Douglas Carswell has tabled a motion of no confidence in him. I hope, for the country's sake, that it succeeds. I also like his idea of a secret ballot - this motion may end up in the hands of whips, but the election of a Speaker certainly shouldn't.

And read The Plan if you haven't already.

Cameron is showing some leadership

We'll have to see the result of this, but it's good to see David Cameron showing some leadership in the expenses row. Gordon's ducking it, the Speaker's pathetic, and before we get the Lib Dem revelations tomorrow to know that MPs are paying their expenses back is a good sign.

I'll be the first to check that they will be paying them back.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The "market failure" mantra

The WJEC seems to like this "market failure" stuff. In fact, I had to do a whole question on their specimen paper about carbon emissions and relate it back to economics. And I resisted the urge to spell it out, simple as simple does, that market failure was utter garbage.

Why are airline passengers not paying the "full cost of their flight" at present, one of the questions asks. They obviously want a generic "it's market failure because it doesn't take into account the external cost of pollution" answer. But that's just the start. To what extent might increasing taxes on air travel reduce carbon emissions from air travel asks the next - that's hardly economics for starters, and my answer if given free rein would be that individuals should not be forced to cough up to pay some fake scientists for dodgy theory.

In fact, on the final question asking if pollution permits were the best way to reduce CO2, I wrote, within the answer, "Since it the theory is questionable the government should not get involved", obviously in a more Orwellian-taught-to-the-test way.

I had an hour's worth of questions on that.

But the point is that we get all this "market failure" stuff, generally from lefties, who say that the market has failed to allocate resources efficiently. Says who? Those who use the market, who are willing to choose the intersection of supply and demand, certainly find it efficient - that's equilibrium for you. But who says that pollution is a failure of the market? Who says that we should distort markets to implement some crazy theory? Generally those on the authoritarian left who want the government to gain more power, to implement more legislation, etc.

Why should I be forced, by a government, to pay more because they think that we're making the world warm up? The answer's simple - I shouldn't.

What is market failure? There's no such thing. It assumes markets are perfect, and they aren't. The only way a market can "fail" is when government makes it.

MP Expenses - Musical Guide



Brilliant.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Ban paintball? Seriously?

Germany is moving to outlaw paintball and laser-quest following the recent school shootings, saying they glamourise violence.

That is incorrect. Combat games are not about the violence, they are about the skill and teamwork (and having played laserquest yesterday, I can tell you it is certainly the case) - and have no relation to a psycho shooting 15 people dead. In fact combat games might even keep potential killers away from using real guns if there is an alternative they won't get locked up for.

I also see the BBC reports the average knee-jerk reaction of banning guns/certain types of guns/etc. Guns don't kill people, people kill people - you have to get to the root cause with gun laws, and that is the people who might kill, and the reasons why, e.g. gangland USA.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

John Major says it how it is

In an article for the Telegraph, John Major sets out the differences between his government and Brown's government.

It's striking because of the utter truth - in the 80s and 90s the Tories built up a strong economy, especially on the supply-side, and got inflation under control; they did put unpopular policies in place and lost the election in 1997 because of it.

Both are/were weak leaders not totally in control of their party, and that's probably the only similarity (and both were Europhiles, which brought down Major's government).

No soundbites, just real politics.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Cameron electoral broadcast

The electoral broadcast did impress me, straight to the point.



"Bust open the monopoly" - nice! Along with many others, but that one does stick in my head. As long as this is substance and not just words, he's impressing me more and more.

What I need to see to fully convince me is Cameron in power; the policy is going the right way, but I need action to back up the words - and it's pretty simple, if he doesn't live up to it, I won't vote for him again in 2014 (ish).

ID Cards

Manchester residents can voluntarily sign up for ID cards, according to the BBC.

I've seen "queue up" used on various blogs. Let's be honest, there won't be any queues, there will just be a few nutters, people trying to look cool, and Labour MPs signing up. £60 to hand over my details for them to lose? Give it a break. I'll be renewing my passport asap at the end of the year when my current one expires.

The BBC is obsessed with the cost issue, which is a problem, but far more important is the civil liberties issue. Pilots have been forced to have an ID card for an airside pass - how long until I have to have an ID card for a driving licence, or a gym card, or to buy a chocolate bar in the shop? They aren't voluntary at all. I'd also rather not having a government following me around, a government that inherently gives itself more and more power.

ID cards should be scrapped now, or at least postponed until after the next election (if the Tories win they'll be scrapped, and Labour will have a mandate if they somehow manage to win).

Sunday, 3 May 2009

30 years

I don't remember Margaret Thatcher, and neither did I see before her, but I certainly see her legacy and how it's been destroyed.

The socialist myths that she brought this country to its knees - it's hard to bring a country at its knees to its knees! By defeating the trade unions that had made the nationalised companies so inefficient (not that they aren't inherently inefficient) she made this country great once again.

Disposable income has doubled since 1979, far more people own cars, living standards are up, etc etc.

And now we have to do it all over again. Now Brown's hopeless borrowing has put this country in a poor state, and it's about time we trusted the market and capitalism to raise us back up to the respected position we should have in the world.

Thatcher wasn't perfect by any means; she centralised far too much and snooped too much, as well as the social decline; but her economic policies had us in good stead.

RIP Jack Kemp

I share many views with Jack Kemp - low taxation is the basic one, but I do also like supply-side reform, and also disagree with abortion.

Although I could say many bad things about American Football, he was certainly a man who restored America in the Reagan years and will certainly be missed in the current circumstances.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Counting out public support

I signed the petition for Gordon to resign the other day, which is nearly on 25,000 signatures as I speak. Contrast that to the one asking him to stay, of which I counted 4 or 5 real signatures and 40 joke ones.

As far as polls go, this is pretty damning. Forget 19% leads, this is in 99.9% territory.

Dave at a rave?


Is it him? Is it not? Does it really matter?

Chances are Labour will try to discredit him, but if it's him it shows he's more "normal" than people think and he's certainly got more respect in my eyes.

Also funny that someone who "admires" Thatcher went with what she tried to stamp out, but it was before his political days, so as with the weed-smoking is irrelevant.

Thanks Iain!

Seems I have a mention on Ten New Blogs on Iain Dale's blog. A mention up there is brilliant, and I'll wait and see what happens.

More posts coming your way soon.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Hannan is still a brilliant orator


Watch Daniel Hannan Speech in News | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com


Straight in there with the Eurosceptic sentiment. I like it.

h/t: Tory Bear

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Budget: death throes of this government

The Budget this afternoon is an utter mess. The government think that they are helping, but they aren't. It shows so many reasons why governments, especially when left-wing, should not get involved.

The message of the tax rises is that if you are a wealth creator, stay well away. The 50% rate is just going to send our top businessmen, etc, to Switzerland, Monaco, Andorra..... In short-termist electioneering, the government has put short-term gain over long-term growth. They borrowed to the extremes, and now they want to please their core voters.

The real change should be a tax CUT, and a corporation tax cut to make our economy competitive and to give entrepreneurs an incentive. I certainly hope that Cameron and Osborne oppose this political rent-seeking.

As for the car scrappage scheme, it will help foreign economies not our own (BMW, Mercedes, Audi et al) and will cost a huge amount to the taxpayer.

Then the news that they are putting half a billion towards those noisy monstrosities that tend to end up where local people don't want them. Let private companies supply the demand (which is very low) and don't waste taxpayers' money on them.

He's also optimistic in his predictions. They are confident, but we aren't. Do you know what will make me confident? A change of government, with policies that give me confidence in the future. Cameron, sort it out.

EU and mobile phone charges

The EU is forcing mobile phone companies to cut their roaming charges abroad. Sounds nice, yes, but I can't imagine the burden on mobile phone companies, and indeed on domestic consumers - after the last roaming charge legislation my minimum call charge rose from 10p to 15p - will it go up again? Probably.

It also tends to ignore supply and demand, which is the best legislation - they charge too much and I won't make calls abroad - and indeed that's the case.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Budget and fuel prices

Since fuel prices have started going up (and have gone up at least 10p from where they were lowest), are the government going to abandon the 2p fuel tax rise?

Obviously not since the government just wants more of our money, but it would be the sensible thing to do, unless they want more hauliers going out of business, and higher supermarket prices, etc etc.

I suppose their excuse will be it will pull us out of deflation. But weren't they printing money for that?

New Labour are probably as confused as I am.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Another reason to disregard the Lib Dems

What an utter joke. And no, I'm not talking about Nick Clegg.



Cringeworthy.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

What I blog about

I've been away and missed the whole Smeargate affair, and will have some proper posts up later next week.

In the meantime, thank Wordle for this. It's not perfect but will do the job for a basic freebie.