Saturday, March 29, 2014
The Venitian Independence Vote Is A Big Thing - Bigger Than We Can Yet Know
Over 89 percent of residents in Italy's Veneto region have voted in an unofficial referendum in favor of independence from the rest of the country as Venetians seek to restore the glory of the old days by creating a state of their own.
Over two million residents of Veneto – the region of Italy surrounding Venice – took part in the so-called 'Veneto independence referendum' that lasted from Sunday to Friday. The survey, conducted online and backed by the region’s independence parties, has no legal power but aims to gather support for a bill calling for a referendum.
The poll also asked residents if they want the region to keep the euro and remain part of the European Union and NATO if it declares its independence. More than 55 percent of voters said they would prefer an independent Veneto to remain part of the EU, and over 51 percent said they want to remain in the eurozone. Over 64.5 percent said they want Veneto to be part of NATO.
The results of the vote were announced Friday in the city of Treviso, where hundreds of pro-independence activists gathered for a demonstration, waving the flags of the old Venetian Republic.
I suspect they don't know what to make of it. Catalonia is nation sized; it has been a "leftist" cause since the Spanish Civil War and people know where it is. Veneto on the other hand is a new story; it looks like it would be energetically free market; and somewhat more difficult to define on a map.
I assume the province of Friulia, along the Slovenian border, would go with Veneto, since it would no longer have any link to Italy. Trentino is a more nationalistically dodgy problem since it is largely Austrian, having been given to Italy, against the rule of nationality, because it was the price of Italian entry to WW1. Perhaps it would become a separate country or be linked with predominantly German speaking Switzerland.
If the comparison between Scotland and Catalonia is well established the obvious one with Veneto is Slovenia, with which it shares a border. Both are areas feeling held back by being the northern and richest tip of a comparatively poor southern state. Of the 2 Veneto is wealthier, has the larger population and has, by a very long way, the greater history as an independent state.
I have no doubt an independent Veneto, particularly as a culturally entrepreneurial society, would be a success. Considering they are surrounded by the EU, with whom they would trade, and that the issue has not come up strongly yet, I am quite surprised that only 55% want to stay in the EU for now. They would be very good Europeans but I suspect uncomfortable EUropeans.
The really important thing about this is that it confirms the direction of travel of statehood in the world. For centuries countries grew larger - the union of Italy in 1866 was part of that trend. Now, a century and a half later the Venetians want to reinvent themselves as an independent state. In all previous such break ups it was a rickety colonial structure (Singapore, South Sudan, east Timor), or a failed state falling apart (USSR, Czechoslovakia) or active foreign intervention (Yugoslavia, Crimea). This is a successful western European economy and indeed probably the most successful part, feeling, not that Italy is failing but just that they can do better on their own. it is a complete repudiation of what appeared to be the march of history, such as few have envisaged (ie Heinlein) and whatever sort of world society it develops into, it will be something different from anything previously known.
The lessons for Scotland are equivocal. Of course we can have separation if we wish, but it will also enhance the feeling that what would happen would us be giving England their independence from us. I would have no worries about Scottish independence if I thought our government was going to be a competent, rational, market orientated one but that is obviously not on offer.
The other message is that separation doesn't stop at the divisions everybody expects. Scotland has only been a fully unified country since 1746 (crushing of the Jacobites). Orkney and Shetland ("its our oil"), the Western Isles, the Highlands as a whole or indeed the Borders are likely, even if 51% of Scots vote for separation, to have a majority for union (or possibly separate separation). If that was all that was left a lot of Edinburghers would look askance at being in a union that consisted mainly of Greater Glasgow.
A matter of some importance to the US as well. They fought a bloody war against secession but having accepted the principle over Yugoslavia, Ukraine, South Sudan etc it would now be hard to deny it to Americans.
Friday, March 28, 2014
More Statistical Proof - Recession Is Caused By State Parasitism & Ecofascism - We Should & Could Be 4 To 16 Times Better Off
This graph was put up by Tim Worstall from an article in the New Yorker.
Ignore the original article - it is about some economist complaining about rising inequality. Inequality is less important than overall growth unless you are one of those people who would rather have us all poorer than all of us better off, but some betterer off than others in which case you are motivated by hate and jealousy rather caring about society.
Also ignore the purple line. It is about long term interest rates which is simply about how the wealth is divided up. The rate of interest is probably more a function of the reliability of the banking system before and after 1820. Also ignore the extension of the line beyond 2012 - that is just evidence free pushing of a political line.
The important bit is the yellow line, which shows the long term growth rate in what is described as the world but I suspect is just the developed western world.
This fits well with a previous graph on a previous post I presented. Indeed this post is pretty much a repetition of that one - but it is important enough to do so.
Both graphs show that western growth rates have been going up throughout recorded history up until 1958.
And have been falling since.
Now that just doesn't happen without very good reason.
It isn't inevitable because as the 2nd graph shows, growth outside the developed west has not been affected, indeed is faster than at any time.
It isn't because we have reached the end of technological progress because, measured by things like Moore's Law or increases in strength of materials, progress is far faster than at any time inn human history.
Rising graphs like that are indicative of being at the foot of an S curve - human wealth should be increasing not just at the 1913-1950 rate (which would mean 6% annual growth now - pretty much what the non-EU/US countries are doing) but well above it - a bit speculative but at least 12% seems likely looking at the increasing of the slope between 1820-1913 & 1913-1950. Had we had growth of 6% average over the last 62 years we would all be 4 times better off. If we had had growth starting at 3% and rising to 12% (ie averaging 4.5% ahead of reality) we would ALL average 16 times better off.
The only reason we know of to explain that is the growth in state regulatory parasitism. I have also noted the same tailing off of growth in nuclear power where, had the pre-1980 trend continued we would now all have at least 4 times as much power and be 4 times wealthier. Government parasitism has banned cheap power; it has banned cheap GM foods, it has destroyed at least 75% of the economy we could have had. And so on.
As I say a bit of a repetition of what I have said before but every bit of extra evidence supports the position.
We could get back on the natural growth rate at any time. Indeed I think that government parasitism must have repressed our growth and if released, like a spring, we would expect it to go well beyond the average 12% rate for some years. Which in turn supports my 24 point programme out of recession plan which suggested a maximum of 23%.
In a more modest vein John Redwood says that with cheaper power (the lack of which he wrongly blames on the EU) our industry would be 15% better off and creating half a million jobs. I have a comment.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Liberal Societies and Technocracies and Where We Stand
"The concept of a technocracy remains mostly hypothetical, though some nations have been considered as such in the sense of being governed primarily by technical experts in various fields of governmental decision making. A technocrat has come to mean either 'a member of a powerful technical elite', or 'someone who advocates the supremacy of technical experts'. Scientists, engineers, and technologists examples include these technologists who have knowledge, expertise, or skills, would compose the governing body, instead of politicians, businesspeople, and economists. In a technocracy, decision makers would be selected based upon how knowledgeable and skillful they are in their field." (definition from Wikipedia)
Now to call either Kinnock, Baroso, Mandelson, or any of the rest of them a "technologist" with "knowledge, expertise or skill" beyond the skills required of windbags and fraudsters is clearly nonsense. I doubt if any of them can handle machinery much more complicated than a knife and fork.
China and Singapore probably can be correctly classified as technocracies. China's leaders almost all have engineering &/or accountancy credentials. Singapore's ruling party goes to considerable lengths to ensure anybody carrying their rosette has technocratic ability & the results and people's votes suggest this works (China's is more debatable - the people are probably fairly happy with the government but we don't know because they aren't asked).
There is a good case for genuine technocratic government. Democracy does have the problem that those elected are fairly representative of the electorate, almost 50% of whom are of below average intelligence. On the other hand rule by elites has the problem that they have their own interests and beliefs rather than all of societies as their prime interest. Also that after a generation or 2 they may be much less elite.
But what we have running the EU (and to an ever increasing extent at home too) has none of the benefits of either democracy or technocracy while keeping the dis-benefits of both.
People of no exceptional intelligence running things without considering us, just as if they were an elite.
A few days ago I mentioned the SNP's childcare policy being an invented PR lie masquerading as a carefully costed policy. Well in a follow up to that the SNP have, typically, refused to answer an FoI on the matter for this amazing reason:
"Disclosing this advice and evidence while the childcare policy is still under discussion and development may undermine or constrain the Government's ability to develop that policy effectively."
Which is simply a boast that the SNP think that, under no circumstances, should the mere public have any knowledge of the formation of new polices, and thus by definition no influence. It should, ideally, emerge like Aphrodite, from the furrowed brow of Sturgeon, Salmond or the rest of these intellectual pigmies. It doesn't really matter whether this reason is the genuine one or just something thought up as an excuse to hide the lack of anything behind the curtain to support the policy. If they believe it or if they believe it is a sensible excuse, they must believe it.
It is not just the SNP, of course, who believe no idea should be considered ever, under any circumstances, be willing to look at any new ideas that don't come from party leaders, which obviously is a tight limit.
So here is the alternative - Dan Hannan on why a free society with the rule of law applied equally and lightly, to all, which often but not automatically means a democracy & definitely something that EU "technocrats" don't even understand.
"Most Brits do indeed believe in British exceptionalism. But here's the thing: They define it in almost exactly the same way that Americans do. British exceptionalism, like its American cousin, has traditionally been held to reside in a series of values and institutions: personal liberty, free contract, jury trials, uncensored newspapers, regular elections, habeas corpus, open competition, secure property, religious pluralism.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Public Online Debate, Starting Monday, With Scottish Lib Dem Leader On EU/Growth - If They Are Up To It
Dear Mr Rennie,
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Independence "Debate" - Not About Nationalism But About Unlimited Promises Of Toys
The only other one to say anything on my truthful charge that UKIP have the policies to end crerate wealth but none of them carewas Willy Rennie. He denounced me for saying I want growth when I want to quit the EU. I put my hand up, twice, and loudly asked the chair if I would be allowed to answer the point but naturally wasn't. A voice for the audience said “No you won’t” & I replied “That was rather my point”.
I was interested that 2 1/2 of the Yes speakers, and from the cheers almost all of this atypical audience, were resolutely opposed to nationalism (the 1/2 being the official SNP). This may not be entirely how the Yes campaign runs nationally but it is clear that the campaign has very little room for nationalists and patriots. It is entirely about various sorts of "socialist" promising each other that, come the revolution, there will be unlimited money to pay the unwaged, windmills, foreign aid, government employees, Gaelic programming, awareness raising activities, ensuring everybody working on Trident still gets paid etc.
Monday, March 24, 2014
How Science Fiction Introduced Me to Freedom
WHEN I AND THE WORLD were much younger than now and both of us thought we were more “leftist” than today I read a book, set on the Moon, about a revolution where the very lowest in society rise up and overthrow the corrupt imperialist running dogs of the ruling class. By throwing rocks at them.
With a fair bit of liberated sex thrown in, which played to one of my interests at the time, and an awful lot of slang dialogue, which was not such an interest, it definitely established itself as hip countercultural stuff.
The book is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (whose picture on the cover astonishingly showed him with a military style crew cut.) It took me some time to realise that the absolute free market regime this underclass live under was not “left wing”. It exists only because the oppressors, an EU style world state, are too lazy to run society and the lack of any popular democracy means people cannot oppress each other in the name of democracy as we do today.
As is normal with Heinlein the social engineering is as well thought out as the traditional sort of engineering. Only years later did I find out that the mentor character, Professor Bernardo de la Paz was closely based on the real life anarchist philosopher Robert LeFevre. There is no shortage of the action needed for an exciting story full of ideas from an intelligent computer to a remarkably simple and genuinely effective ultimate weapon - enough to satisfy anybody looking for such. Also, there are as many ideas per paragraph most writers give per book, but then that applies to most of the Heinlen’s books.
The philosophical heart of the book is this speech from the professor made to the Lunar Constitutional Convention:
“Like fire & fusion, government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master. You now have freedom - if you can keep it. But do remember that you can lose this freedom more quickly to yourselves than to any other tyrant. Move slowly, be hesitant, puzzle out the consequences of every word. I would not be unhappy if this convention sat for ten years before reporting - but I would be frightened if you took less than a year.
Distrust the obvious, suspect the traditional ...for in the past mankind has not done well when saddling itself with governments. For example, I note in one draft report a proposal for setting up a commission to divide Luna into congressional districts and to reapportion them from time to time according to population.
This is the traditional way; therefore it should be suspect, considered guilty until proven innocent. Perhaps you feel that this is the _only_ way. May I suggest others? Surely where a man lives is the least important thing about him. Constituencies might be formed by dividing people by occupation ... or by age ... or even alphabetically. Or they might not be divided, every member elected at large - and do not object that this would make it impossible for any man not widely known throughout Luna to be elected; that might be the best possible thing for Luna.
You might even consider installing the candidate who got the least number of votes; unpopular men may be just the sort to save you from a new tyranny. Don't reject the idea merely because it seems preposterous - think about it! In past history popularly elected governments have been no better and sometimes worse than overt tyrannies.
But if representative government turns out to be your intention there still may be ways to achieve it better than the territorial district. For example you each represent about 10,000 human beings, perhaps 7,000 of voting age - and some of you were elected by slim majorities Suppose instead of election a man were qualified for office by petition signed by 4,000 citizens. He would then represent these 4,000 affirmatively, with no disgruntled minority, for what would be a minority in a territorial constituency would all be free to start other petitions or join in them. All would then be represented by men of their choice. Or a man with 8,000 supporters might have 2 votes in this body. Difficulties, objections, practical points to be worked out - many of them! But you could work them out ... and thereby avoid the chronic sickness of representative government; the disgruntled minority which feels - correctly - that it has been disenfranchised.
But whatever you do not let the past be a straitjacket!
I note 1 proposal to make this Congress a two-house body. Excellent - the more impediment to legislation the better. But instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws. Let the legislators pass laws only with a 2/3rds majority ... while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere 1/3rd minority. Preposterous? think about it.
If a bill is so poor that it cannot command 2/3rds of your consents is it not likely to make a poor law? And if a law is disliked by as many as 1/3rd is it not likely that you would be better off without it?
But in writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative! Accentuate the negative. Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do. No conscript armies ... no interference, however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation ... no involuntary taxation. Comrades if you were to spend five years in a study of history while thinking of more and more things that your government should promise never to do and then let your constitution be nothing but those negatives, I would not fear the outcome.
What I fear most are affirmative actions of sober and well-intentioned men, granting to government power to do something that appears to need doing. Please remember always that the Lunar Authority was created for the noblest of purposes by just such sober and well-intentioned men, all popularly elected. And with that thought I leave you to your labours."
As a Scot, with our SNP government having made some comments about how, come the day, they will provide us with a constitution that will enshrine all sorts of rights (the second ‘draft’ is now available), not for us to restrain the state but giving the state a duty to restrain us in the name of the "environment", education or what have you, I wish any of them had as much understanding as the Professor's audience.
I don’t want to upset any fans of Ayn Rand, who is a libertarian icon (rather a contradiction in terms) but she isn’t a fraction as good as Heinlein. Possibly her leaden prose and hammering the ideas home makes her better guru material. More likely the fact that Heinlein plays with all sorts of social ideas in different books; bureaucracy Star Beast; military rule Starship Troopers; absolute monarchy Glory Road; constitutional monarchy Double Star; by secret conspiracy Friday; dictatorship Time Enough For Love; theocracy Stranger in a Strange Land and this made him too big and unpredictable to be buttonholed as anybody’s guru.
On the other hand his successful societies have at least as much freedom as we have seen in our lifetimes. What more should you ask for?
“Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbours than the other sort.”
Robert A. Heinlen 1907-1988
Neil Craig is proprietor of Scotland's largest independent science fiction bookshop http://futureshockbks.blogspot.co.uk/
Brian also found the "Lone Wolf" picture which is rather cool of him