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Thursday, August 27, 2009


I wrote before about the poetry of Lily Allen's lyrics. This is from her new hit 22
She's got an alright job but it's not a career
whenever she thinks about it it brings her to tears
It strikes me that as individuals it is impossible for the majority of people to have above average jobs. However if a career is a job with prospects of doing better in future &/or being able to achieve something then it is possible for an entire nation to go for a career. The alienation of most people is because we are cogs in a spinning directionless machine rather than part of a society that is going somewhere or even knows where it wants to go.

To have a career you have to map out where you want to go. The same applies for a country. We should map out what career objectives Britain wants to achieve over the next 50 years. I would suggest either Parliament or any single party approving it proclaim objectives & report annually on whether they are being achieved.

These are what I support. If anybody has alternatives....

1 - 9% annual growth

2 - Be at or near the top of international tables of human freedom

3 - Be at the forefront of space development, mainly by using X-Prizes. Ultimately investing as much as we do in the military.

4 - Be at the forefront of scientific discovery & technology use, by using X-Prizes &/or other working methods. Ultimately investing as much as we do in the military.

5 - Support peace through adherence to equality for all nations under international law.

6 - Be at or near the top of tables of corruption free countries.

7 - Be in the top quartile of low crime countries

8 - To maintain our culture keep 1st, 2nd & 3rd generation immigrant citizens in the British Isles to not more than 1/6th of the population

9 - Support the development of other nations by supporting free trade, assisting in the dissemination of technology & giving 0.7% of GNP through both private & public sources, as aid. Long term government aid to be limited to countries whose governments to maximise their own economic progress.

10 - Bring British citizens guilty of war crimes & genocide to trial.

A few explanations - (1) is my long term hobbyhorse, but none the worse for that. Apart from a few eco-nuts who ignorantly believe economic growth depends entirely on using more oil etc, rather than on using resources with improved technology, nobody has seriously disputed that it can be achieved. Parts (2)(3)(4)(6) & (7) would all improve growth & would in turn be more affordable with growth. High growth produces a virtuous circle which makes almost all other goals more easily achievable. For example 20m years of 9% growth would bring the UK economy up to matching the US economy of today (thus if the US economy grew at 4.5% we would match them in 40 years).

(3) & (4) Currently Britain spends 2.4% of GNP on the military which is £34 billion ($54 bn) which is far & away more than any other country spends on space. Moreover spending it on X-Prizes would be about 20 times more effective than NASA is so the speed with which we switch to fast track space development can hardly be overestimated. I certainly would not propose putting that much money into X-Prizes from day 1 but to increase it as the economy grows. Also, if we go for a peaceful policy of not invading other countries our actual military spending could decrease & as the economy grows fast the proportion decreases quites fast so by the time our economy has tripled (13 years) we could be spending 0.8% of GNP each on military, space development & science, with zero added burden, if we wished.

(5) is about never again participating in criminal wars such as Yugoslavia & Iraq & probably never again trying to occupy other nations. Not only have these been immoral & therefore not something that Britain should do if we want to be proud of ourselves but they have an immense cost to us. I am not calling for pacifism - we should fight to defend allies being attacked, maintaining freedom of the seas (& ultimately space) & even sometimes preemptive strikes against military targets but occupation is neither moral nor useful & wars consisting of civilian bombing, as in Yugoslavia, are immoral. Maintianing a blockade of Iraq & air control cost about $10 million a year whereas occupation has cost trillions. (10) is linked to this & I can think of no way of convincing the world's peoples that we arev worthy of trust & respect, or to convince bombastic politicians to seek another career, than hanging Blair.

(7) note that I am aiming for a lower standard in solving crime than in corruption & freedom. This is not because I am being less ambitious but because we are currently further down the tables. In all these cases I would suggest hiring somebody in whatever countries are at the top of the table, usually Singapore, to write & publish a report saying what we need to do.

(8) we have a long term immigration problem & we had better face it because it isn't going to go away. I would be happy to have as many foreign born scientists as we can cope with but that is not where the problem lies. Note that I have specifically limited this to the British Isles - if we are going to build a spacegoing civilisation (& on floating & non-floating islands) that will involve mass immigration. Even there I would not hand out citizenship lightly to people who have no reason to be consider themselves British though I would auction off a few hundred thousand citizenships annually.

(9) currently aid has little, if any, benefit. This programme is pretty close to what we already spend (most government figures only include government aid) but designed to actually achieve something.

In all of these I have tried to put numbers on these ambitions - if you don't do that we are merely talking about an aspiration not a promise & there is no way of measuring whether it has succeeded - this may be why political promises often don't contain firm numbers.

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A. giving 0.7% of GNP through both private & public sources, as aid.

I have to vehemently disagree with this.

B. I remember reading a simple equation put together by an anthropologist that went like this:

Civilization = Energy*Population or


C. The US spends more than almost all other countries on space. You need to remember that we have multiple space programs - plural. Go back and look at Brian Wang's report on how much the world spends on space, the US is represented multiple times.

The US has a military space program, NASA, LANDSAT and numerous weather satellites. The military program may or may not include satellites put up by the NSA. The US probably spends on space what Albion spends on her military.
Once we have an economy growing at 10% (first priority) I think we should seek to help other nations. Not to do all their heavy lifting but help. That is why I have mentioned 0.7% in both public & private donations with the trend towards private.

I believe our military takes about £33bn ($50 bn)(2.5% GNP). Since I don't think we are facing any real military threat I would prefer more of that money to go into space/technology development & ultimately aid. If there were a conventional threat it would be different.
At this stage in history any country that doesn't have adequate irrigation projects, a functioning electric grid or paved roads lacks such because of internal flaws and outside aid isn't going to change that.

Unless you are willing to rule over other peoples there isn't much you can do for them until they are willing to admit to themselves that they have a problem.

Scotland is a perfect example of this. If Scotland was ruled by England as a colony it might have a smaller government. But as long as Scotland can receive transfers from London (essentially foreign aid) Hollyrood and the voters that elect the MSPs can avoid dealing with reality. Scotland will have honest, effective and small government either when it is ruled by an outside power against its will or when the average Scot realizes his worldview is wrong.

Egypt is another example of foreign aid retarding recognition of reality. Egypt receives quite a bit of aid from the US, supposedly in the name of the peace process, but I suspect that it is really bribe money to keep the Suez canal open. In addition to this Egypt gets to collect canal tolls far in excess of the cost of operation, which forms another form of foreign aid. Despite this river of gold pouring into Egypt, Egypt is using the same irrigation techniques that were in use there three thousand years ago, and thus must import food. See this post by J. Egypt has a national IQ of 82, but since it also has 100m people there is still a small cadre of people capable of importing foreign water technology and implementing it in Egypt. Alas, Egypt pisses away this mental talent in state-owned weapons plants that construct weapons using foreign technology to fight Israel. Here is are two pages to prove my point:

wiki link

Any country that has its act together can hire the technicians needed to build infrastructure or to teach new agricultural methods. To view the futility of foreign aid you have to look no further than your native Scotland. Any foreign aid at all is a waste at best.
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