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Saturday, February 13, 2010


China's economy has been growing at 10% annually. The UK at 2.5% if you don't count the last few years, about 1.5% if you do (Scotland about 1% below that but lets just put that down to bad management). The excuse normally given for this is of "convergence" - that poor countries naturally "play catch up" with rich ones. This is handy for the rulers of poorly performing rich countries but is it true.

Buried in the Wikipedia article on this theory is this mention of actual empirical evidence
A key prediction of neoclassical growth models is that the income levels of poor countries will tend to catch up with or converge towards the income levels of rich countries as long as they have similar characteristics – like for instance saving rates. Since the 1950s, the opposite empirical result has been observed on average. If the average growth rate of countries since, say, 1960 is plotted against initial GDP per capita (i.e. GDP per capita in 1960), one observes a positive relationship. In other words, the developed world appears to have grown at a faster rate than the developing world, the opposite of what is expected according to a prediction of convergence
This was apparently proven by Robert Barro some years ago though his article doesn't appear to be available. That rich countries inherently grow faster is inherently unfair & deeply unpopular. Most of the Google entries on the subject are intent on disproving it & are more sound & fury than scholarship e.g.
The observation by Barro that cross-country evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis that poor countries tend to grow faster than rich countries is examined. The overall sample of countries employed in the Barro studies is adjusted by excluding those with small sample sizes (less than 15 observations) and/or those with not statistically significant trend growth rates. It is found that, in general, poor countries tend to grow faster than rich countries. However, this observation holds especially strongly for 17 countries with real per capita product above $1000.
Obviously if you eliminate the data that doesn't fit your theory then the ones left will. If you then cherry pick further for a particular 17 countries that will improve it even more. By definition the ones excluded, taken alone, would equally show the opposite trend.

Further the really long term evidence tends to show success improves success. The rate of growth throughout human history has been accelerating. The disparity between the richest & poorest several centuries ago has expanded form starvation being a common cause of death in poor countries & rare in rich to 250 fold (Singapore/Zimbabwe). Note, however, that Singapore is not a traditional wealthy country but one which has grown wealthy. This means being already wealthy is not the prime determinant of success or failure. That the fault lies not in our initial wealth but in our governments' competence.

The main likely reason that rich countries can grow a little faster is the same as why the growth rate has accelerated through history - that scientific & technology growth is even faster & the more technological your civilisation the easier it is to upgrade. Moore's Law, that computer capacity is doubling every 2 years or now even 18 months has been an extreme end of this though we are seeing similar rates now in bio & nano tech & possibly in space, though that is a particularly government controlled area.

Whatever the reasons the evidence is that if China & India can grow at 10%, despite being heavily bureaucratic & in China's case a dictatorship with still a considerable state sector, then we, as nominally economically free countries could be doing nearer 15%. The problem is that the "nominally" part of economically free is the important bit. Our government's regulations destroy 50% of our potential economy & government parasitism spends half of what is left so it is hardly surprising that an economy working on 25% isn't achieving world beating growth.

But we could be.

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Friday, February 12, 2010


Migrationwatch has done a Freedom of Information Act enquiry on Labour apparatchik Andrew Neather's remarks about the party having deliberately encouraged mass immigration to change Britain's population & presumably their own electoral chances. This was kept secret because apart from the social damage it does to the country its most severe effects are on the poorer among Britain's indigenous population, who are Labour's current core vote and were expected not to appreciate it.

The FoI was on the original draft of the Labour document which Neather said had been substantially altered prior to publication to conceal the intent. The Daily Mail says
Labour threw open the doors to mass migration in a deliberate policy to change the social make-up of the UK, secret papers suggest.
A draft report from the Cabinet Office shows that ministers wanted to ‘maximise the contribution’ of migrants to their ‘social objectives’.
The number of foreigners allowed in the UK increased by as much as 50 per cent in the wake of the report, written in 2000...

A draft of the original Cabinet Office report has now been published following a freedom of information request by Migrationwatch.
It contains six references to social policy, all of which were removed from the later, published version.
One deleted paragraph said a framework was needed to ‘maximise the contribution of migration to the Government’s social and economic objectives’.
Another says that migration pressures will intensify because of demographic changes across Europe but that this ‘should not be viewed as a negative’.
It states: ‘The entry control system is not closely related to the stated policy objectives.
'This is particularly true in the social area, where in the past the implicit assumption has largely been that keeping people out promotes stability.’
Also cut out was a statement that ‘in practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion’.
The Telegraph & the Sun have reported it & that is about it so far.

The BBC. as the voice of the nation, or at least the censor of first choice of its government have nothing to say on the subject except a report from last October saying move along nothing to see here.

Extraordinarily 24 hours later the Conservative to whom this should be a godsend enabling them to disenchant much of Labour's core vote, are effectively silent.

While Migrationwatch's article is more restrained than the Mail but has done other articles showing that at present rates we are bound to hit a population of 70 million within 25 years, that the alleged short term economic benefits of mass immigration may raise GNP marginally but not proportionately more than they raise population so we aren't better off (this excludes the long term cost should immigrants either choose to have families or to grow old) but that they are heavily likely to vote Labour. Presumably this is what Labour means by "social objectives". I welcome immigration by scientists & the truly skilled who would clearly enrich us but when Labour say mass immigration is necessary to prevent the "socially excluded" not getting in they clearly mean Afghan & Somali peasants not Iraqi nuclear scientists.

By comparison with the Conservatives silence on this my recent poll shows that of all the threats to Western civilisation demographic change, largely by mas population movements is considered most damaging though followed closely by big government, political correctness & Ludditry with radical Islam coming behind. Virtually nobody is worried about competition from China, racism or catastrophic warming. I was gratified to see other's opinions pretty close to mine particularly if you conclude that with big government then nannystatism & government enforced Luddism & it seems also mass immigration are all aspects of the main problem. It isn't foreigners we are worried about, even aggressive Islamic ones so much as our own parasitic government. I think that is a correct assessment.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


This is a reply I have put to David Brin, eminent physicist & SF writer who has said the climate sceptics are attacking science. I do not oppose such as him lightly

I respect Mr Brin but his core statement that "99% of atmospheric scientists support warming" simply isn't so. Atmospheric scientists would include Professor Fred Singer, doyen of sceptics. The true believers are a smaller & much newer "discipline" calling themselves climate scientists but actually just climate computer modellers, a predictive process whose predictions have, for example in the unpredicted cooling of the last few years, failed to match reality. If this small group saying this means, as the media so often say, that "The Science says.." then the case is equally strong for the science of astrology. 99% of those making a living at it say it works too.

It is worse than that - I have asked many thousands of journalist, politicians & alarmists to name 2 scientists who say catastrophic warming is correct & aren't government funded & only 1 name worldwide has emerged. It is a statistical impossibility that this correlation between government control & alarmism is a coincidence. If belief is not more widely spread it, by definition, isn't a consensus.

In philosophical terms the risk to science comes from those who misuse its name to promote its opposite & here scientists who, for the sake of a quiet life kept silent should take a little blame. However the main blame goes to those who actually pushed the lie. By comparison virtually no MSM journalist has even mentioned that the largest single expression of scientific opinion, the 31,000 who signed the Oregon Petition, believe catastrophic warming is nonsense & CO2 rise is actually probably beneficial.

I have listened patiently & at length to alarmists even though almost none of them have said they support substantial new nuclear reactors despite the fact that this is the only practical way to produce enough power without CO2. I regard this as a touchstone as to whether alarmists believe their own tale since if they genuinely believed they faced catastrophe they would not let ideology prevent them preventing it.

There are an increasing number of scare stories being used by politicians & their media handmaidens that falsely claim the mantle of science. The original & one of the least questioned & which has cost humanity 10s of trillions over the decades is the linear no threshold (LNT) radiation damage claim. Though this is adopted in the name of "science" there is not & never has been any experimental support for it, indeed there is massive support, from many directions, for the opposite, known as hormesis, that low level radiation is beneficial.

Science needs a Reformation in which experimental principles are what matters & what the government paymaster wishes were so isn't.

UPDATE 2 days later the self styled "Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technologies" have decided their conception of ethics does not involve free debate & have decided to censor it. I blogged earlier about the way political activists attempt to aquire credentials, particularly scientific ones, to which thay are not entitled to make themselves seem more credible. I know nothing more of the "Institute for Ethics" than its title, that it promotes climate alarmism & how it has dealt with dissenting views. I have emailed David Brin directly.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


A farmer who built a castle behind hay bales to hide it from planners has lost his attempt to prevent it being knocked down.

Robert Fidler, 60, spent two years secretly building the fortress, which he concealed behind a wall of straw. But the High Court today confirmed the borough council’s order that it must be knocked down.

Mr Fiddler, of Redhill, Surrey, moved into the building in 2002 with his wife Linda, 40, and their son Harry, 8, and managed to live there for four years.

The four-bedroom property had many of the features of a modern suburban home, including gravelled forecourt, patio and conservatory. Two grain silos formed castellations on the corners and a stained-glass lantern hung over a central hall.

In May 2006, Mr Fidler removed the straw-bale fortifications, thinking that a four-year period granting him immunity from planning enforcement had elapsed.

But, in 2007, Reigate Council issued him with an enforcement notice demanding that the building be knocked down.

The claim to immunity was invalid, it said, because the building and removal of the bales constituted a part of the construction process.

In 2008, a government planning inspector rejected Mr Fidler’s argument that the bales had not been part of the building work
from The Times

I wrote once before, indeed had a newspaper letter published, on a similar case when Marshall Farms built 2 extra houses & hid them behind a pile of potato boxes.

I said then:

"Note that this is being enforced neither on grounds of building standards (they were admitted to be of a particularly high standard) nor aesthetic standards (unless piles of tattie boxes are considered high art). In this country a sizable part of most people's income goes on housing. This proves that the cost of housing depends not on the cost of building houses but on government regulations."

& have since calculated the proportion of house costs that is regulatory as at least 75% based on the fact that that is how much they have increased, beyond the retail price index, over a century. I doubt if hay bales are much prettier than tattie boxes so again it nothing to do with aesthetics & everything to do with government parasitism.

However this case shows the court's deliberate corruption. Mr Fiddler is clearly right & the council wrong in saying that the hay was part of the building. It was not connected to the building or required for the physical construction. It is a loophole certainly, but that is what lawyering is for. Laws should be interpreted for what they say not for what the people who wrote them would like them to have said if they had thought of it. I very much hope this is appealed all the way & that he finds a judge who doesn't make up the law on the way.

Incidentally Mr Fidler apparently built the house almost alone. While this proves him to be a man of considerable ability it also shows how backward our housing "industry" is. If one built one's a car, aircraft or computer from a kit it would be largely because one liked doing that sort of thing rather than because it would be a better product than commercially available. One would certainly not build one from scratch. Adam Smith pointed out the efficiency gains in teams working to create a product. If one individual can do this competitive with, or considerably better, than the professionals it shows how much the housebuilding industry is being kept in the dark ages by government Luddism & parasitism.

We can have inexpensive modern houses any time we are allowed to.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Hunterson nuclear power station & windmills producing 0.00233 as much

Browsing I came across this in an otherwise unremarkable article about China & renewables.
China's biggest advantage might be its domestic demand for electricity, which is rising 15 percent a year... (by demand they clearly mean supply, since demand, at the right price, is infinite)
To meet demand in the coming decade, according to statistics from the International Energy Agency, China will need to add nearly nine times as much electricity generation capacity as the United States will. As a result, Chinese producers of generating equipment enjoy enormous efficiencies from large-scale production.

In the United States, power companies often face the choice of buying renewable energy equipment or continuing to operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants that have already been built and paid for.

In the US & indeed UK the real problem is being allowed to build power plants, particularly if you note that the most inexpensive & reliable power source is nuclear.

The link between availability of electricity & economic growth is clearly established. China produces $2.45 of GNP per kWh used, the developed world averages $3.90 & the UK stretches our power most in the developed world (excluding Ireland, Hong Kong & Singapore which are obvious special cases) by getting $6.14 GNP out of each kWh. Currently we are not increasing our electricity at all, indeed it is set to reduce sharply with ending our last nukes & new emission standards. Indeed the Scottish Parliament has unanimously voted, in a manner which proves them all clinically insane or lying to make themselves look better by appearing clinically insane, to destroy half our electricity over the next 10 years.
Since China is increasing its capacity by 15% a year & getting 10-11% growth most years it seems likely that if we did the same we would do at least equally well. Currently Scotland's power use comes to about 5 GW (8% of the UK). One new 1 GW reactor (there is no real limit to the number of reactors you can have on 1 site) would not exceed that 15% increase since it takes 3 years to build one & in 3 years growth compounded would mean 15% was 1,1Gw. This could be started instantly, it would only take somebody actually interested in improving things to be "Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to ... build more nuclear plants". It is only government paper parasitism that makes it take 10 years to build a nuke - the actual building takes 3 years.

China's economy is not doing well it is merely doing adequately. Ours could do well if the lunatics weren't running the government.

Or can anybody deny that Brown, Obama, Cameron, Clegg, Pelosi et al are indeed either insane or pretending to be to look good?

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Monday, February 08, 2010


The polls are showing an increasing likelihood of a hung Parliament. Iain Dale forecast very close to a hung Parliament when the polls were showing a comfortable Tory lead, with probably about 100 independents, simply because national swings no longer reflect local conditions. William Hill are making this 2:1.

So if the Conservatives are the largest single party what should they & David Cameron do?

We are in uncharted water. Normally a party leader who fails to win gets the chop & the Conservatives have been particularly keen to cull losers. Both Thatcher & Iain Duncan Smith were removed even without losing simply because they were expected to. If the Conservatives are the largest party they haven't totally lost but they certainly haven't come close to winning. If you can't win when the government has brought to country to, at least, the edge of national bankruptcy & kept us in recession from longer than our competitors then it is unlikely there are any circumstances under which a Cameron Conservative party could win.

It seems to me Cameron has made 3 very major mistakes -
1 - Pulling the Tories onto the global warming/Green bandwagon, just as the wheels were going shoogly.
2 - Ignoring the economy, the biggest single issue in almost any election
3 - Making & breaking a "cast iron" referendum promise.

All of them are major failures of electoral tactics. Unlike many electoral questions they are even more important in government.

#1 & 3 are ones on which the large majority, of his party are against him. Conservative Home recently estimated that for catastrophic warming.

The only thing that could keep him as leader would be if the LibDems offered the poisoned chalice of minority government which could only be giving the Conservatives enough rope to hang themselves. It would be impossible for the LDs to support the sort of tough cuts needed, to avoid trying to take credit for every cut staved off or to support them through the length of a Parliament. The best that could happen would be that they get the opprobrium for recession & cuts & then get dropped in it when it was deepest.

The better alternative would be that Cameron would go, or be pushed if he refused but I doubt he would be so foolish. I assume replaced by David Davis who ran him a close 2nd in the leadership contest & has the sort of toughness people want in a recession & has shown integrity, whether you agree or otherwise, in resigning over ID cards. I previously suggested Cameron could regain momentum by bringing Davis & Redwood into the team but, astonishingly enough, it seems my advice isn't being taken yet again. In this case, after a year of Conservative reappraisal & of grossly incompetent Labour government (one reason they don't have their hearts in this election must be fear of winning) propped up by LDs he would be able to force a new election & walk it.

This tactic is a combination of the Emperor Claudius promoting Nero to "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out" & Mencken's "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard" but on the other hand we common people right don't have any major party offering us anything we want so a real choice would be pretty good.


Sunday, February 07, 2010


Norman Tebbit has started a blog & it is one of the interesting politician ones. He is a fearsome political operator & the Conservatives lost a generation of office when he didn't become leader. Googling for a quote I found this comment from a knowledgeably political commentator who unfortunately can't spell psephology - "Norman Tebbit was an annoyingly competent pepsologist when in power & still clearly knows many things that the current high flyers have yet to learn." I am certain that he would have detached the working class, as opposed to the on the dole or government employee class permanently from the New Labour party.

This rather touching thread takes Blair to task over Iraq, not so much from a classic "leftist" point but for the sheer stupidity, pointlessness, callousness of it & its being managed with more concern for spinning it than for casualties. On this he is right but what I had not known previously is something he says inter alia about the effect of the removal of the death penalty:
the actual number of people who have been murdered by killers who have been let out from jail to kill again since the suspension, then abolition, of capital punishment. Up to April 2008 it was 131. That is an average of all but three a year. All these people were innocent. Each one a miscarriage or failure of the justice system. Quite remarkably, three convicted killers even killed again while in prison
I support the death penalty because I believe it acts as a deterrent. Anybody who doesn't must explain why they either (A) believe murderers are more afraid of prison than hanging or (B) say that they believe murderers shouldn't be imprisoned either but presumably let off with a warning/probation/community service.. Nothing else is intellectually honest & I have never seen any opponent manage either. Nonetheless I have always also accepted that miscarriages are possible, indeed over the long term certain, & have had to accept that as the cost of not being perfect. I am thus glad to have these figures since clearly any worthwhile judicial system is not going to execute even within an order of magnitude of that many innocent people & the figure given takes no account of first time murderers who would be dissuaded which is equally clearly likely to be at least an order of magnitude greater again.

A common point on both issues is that the people politicians kill by their deliberate action & those they kill by refusing to take responsibility for the duties they have sought are equally dead & the politicians responsible similarly heinous.

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