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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some Comments By Me on Other Blogs

    Some comments from me on other sites which I think even more profound than usual*

   On John Redwood's thread about the proposed new £33 billion (£45 bn says TPA) high speed railway.

In Norway over the last 2 decades they have cut 700 km of tunnels at a cost of about £4 million/km> Denmark has done something similar in the Faroe Islands, at a slightly higher cost but it is remote.
If we could match that price and if it has been done engineers can do it, then that would be about £5.5 billion for 2 track tunnels all the way to Scotland. In fact since we have economies of scale and no problems with undersea tunnels it should be much less than that.
What this proves is how enormously parasitic our public projects system is.
In FoIs I have been told that government projects have an inflation rate consistently 4% above everybody else’s and that this has been the case for over 50 years. This explains why British public projects cost around 8 times their engineering cost.
A further FoI elucidated the fact that the civil service’s only possible explanation for this was that in the early 2000s oil prices went up!!!
Clearly the real reason is some mixture of bureaucratic parasitism (like the £200 million mentioned without a spade being turned) and “preferred bidders” getting to charge whatever they want.
I don’t think the business case for this would be good anyway but certainly the best use of government time would be cutting costs to what real costs are rather than preparing to spend £10s of billions wastefully.
Perhaps a Parliamentary question or committee enquiry into why our public projects cost so many multiples of their actual cost might be worthwhile.
Redwood's on an independence referendum

My opinion (I should acknowledge I don’t want separation, at least so long as Scotland’s MSPs are running the country even worse than the UK’s MPs) is that we should have 2 referendums.
Firstly one held by Holyrood, which would be consultative, to authorise them beginning to negotiate the division of assets and liabilities. The UK Parliament should obviously decide that no Scottish MP could serve on their side of the negotiation. Then a binding referendum run, as the Scotland Act requires, by the British state.
Independence is a very serious and irreversible decision which should not be taken lightly and 2 referenda, at different times, one after the technical issues were thrashed out, would ensure that a decision for separation was our settled will. A single referendum with a 51% decision, held on the anniversary date of the Battle of Bannockburn and possibly a lower turnout than for a general election would not demonstrate “settled will” and be as much a fix as the original referendum by which we joined the EEC.
Pointlessness - somebody who has listed my "how to get out of recession" e-petition as unworkable without, as my reply and his answer makes clear, actually reading it. He censored my follow ups.
Censored by John Redwood from a thread of his Following Remembrance Day. The quote is from his article. -

“I still cannot accept the way the politicians and generals accepted death on such a huge scale. ”
Not that rare. After all throughout the cold war the politicians and generals accepted Mutual Assured destruction (MAD) which assumed deaths on a scale at least 10 times that of WW1. That was horrible and I think it was wrong because I do not believe the USSR ever wished to start and “win” a war – they just wanted to be left alone too. But if you accept that both the Soviets and the Kaiser were bent on world conquest, as were were told at the times, it is difficult to say we should not have accepted such casualties.

I used to be proud about how we stood against the horrors of Nazism but when we, merely to get German permission to opt out of the Euro, supported criminal regimes run by “ex-”Nazis in former Yugoslavia openly committed to the racial genocide of the Serbs I came to feel that our opposition to Hitler was more accidental and less principled than we are told. Certainly if our schools had taught the history of Nazi genocide against Soviets, Serbs and Gypsies instead of pretending the only victims were our Jewish allies I very much doubt if the British people would have supported our government’s promotion of atrocities against the Serbs more than matching Hitler’s in individual evil if not in pure numbers.
Al Fin on "peer review" being used to discipline "science"

There is an OECD report that found a negative correlation between government funding of science and achievement. Clearly peer review and established bureaucracies are a way by which those at the top can divert government money towards what we might consider the established ideas and thus reduce original research. Or sometimes, as with CAGW, government eliminates the middle man and decides what may be "discovered" by funding only the amenable.
However I do not conclude from that, as some do, that government should not fund any research - technological progress is so important to society that almost nothing else is more deserving of funding - but that such funding should, almost entirely, go through X-Prizes rather than through grants. Thus rewarding & encouraging achievement rather than box ticking.
I suspect the reason the state much prefers grants is that it gives them the power of patronage. The state's interests are not ours & vice versa.
John Redwood on whether the bureaucrats are trying over the euro

The underlying problem is that when the country runs with people losing jobs for not towing the line but do not for getting it wrong, the country is being wrongly run.

Douglas Carswell on the Bank of England control of credit.

Bubbles are created by investment money looking for something to invest in with maximum returns artificially pushing up the value of the property being invested in and creating a circle of growth, up until it bursts.
The best way of preventing bubbles is having something with real value to invest in. For over a decade Britain's governments have been preventing industries with genuine growth potential because they are genuinely capable of producing new wealth (nuclear power, GM foods, modular housing, space industrialisation) for purely Luddite reasons. The BofE went along with that that the real culprits are the politicians.
John Redwood censors a reply to a reply to a comment of mine on a thread of his on the historic British policy in Europe being to oppose the strongest power

The Slovenians probably, by a somewhat greater margin than the Scots do but a smaller one that the Basques and Kurds do. The Croatians wanted a lot more than their own country – they wanted another people’s country – large areas of “Croatia” contained a Serb majority whose populations NATO carefully helped them to “purify” and exterminate. The majority of “Bosnians” never wanted and do not now want a Moslem dictatorship, since they are not Moslems – again the problem was not the separation which every NATO country which was not being racist was equally keen to go to war with Spain and Turkey over, but that they wanted to grab other people’s lands and get rid of the people.
The Albanians already have their own country. It is called Albanian and the current Albanian majority in Kosovo was created by Albanians deciding they did not want to live in Albania but some more prosperous country. I assume you would like to see NATO go to war to ensure the Mexicans get their own country too, in southern Texas and California?
Douglas Carswell on the failure of the EU. The quoted bit is from him.

"the trade block we joined in the early 1970s which then accounted for 36 percent of world GDP, will account for less than 15 percent in 2020."
The current EU is much larger (Spain, Portugal, Sweden, East Germany, Eastern Europe, Malta, Cyprus, Finland, Baltic states) than the one we joined, which makes its economic failure the more egregious.
That alone is more than good enough reason to leave.
*As said by Dr Doom in the Superman/Spider-Man 2 comic by Jim Shooter

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