Friday, January 28, 2005
BMA DO NOT SUPPORT McCONNELL'S LIE ABOUT SCOTS SMOKING DEATHS
Dear Mr Darvell,
Thank you for your reply. The claim about passive smoking killing 1,000 people annually in Scotland was made by the Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell, to the Scottish Parliament at the time he declared his intention to criminalise public smoking here. I was, at the time, of the opinion that while any such claim was untrue I had assumed that he would not be so constitutionally unwise as to lie to Parliament without some support from the medical profession.
It now seems I had overestimated both his intelligence & his integrity & that the claim used to justify this extension of state power is a lie for which he must take full responsibility.
In a message dated 1/28/05 9:26:13 AM GMT Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
Dear Mr Craig
Thank you for your query to the BMA website. I have checked with our Tobacco Resource Control Unit and they are not aware of any BMA statement that passive smoking kills 1000 people in Scotland. It is possible that your source may mixing this up with our 2002 statement (based on the 1997 SCOTH report) that passive smoking is responsible for at least 1000 deaths in the Uk annually.
I hope that this information is useful,
Public Information Manager
This was in reply to this query:
Do the BMA stand behind the claim that passive smoking in Scotland kills 1,000 people in Scotland per year? If so what is the basis for such a claim?
Inspired by a discussion with a smoking ban supporting friend.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
The 12 to 2 phone in did a piece about a Dr Finkelstein whose opinion about the Holocaust is that a lot of Zionists are doing very well out of it & that they deliberately played it up as the worst thing in history. He is so clearly politically incorrect & factually correct that I felt a need to partially agree with him - the correspondence, including the quite remarkable response by the MC is given here:
"I think that Dr Finkelstein is correct about the Jewish Holocaust having been deliberately overemphasized but that it is not primarily the Jews who were responsible. I think the blame lies with western political leaders. What happened is that after the war it was necessary for us to prove that the war was justified because Hitler was such a monster. Hitler's most serious crime was the genocide of 24 million Russians, 1.5 million Serbs & other Slavic peoples & his intention to eventually wipe out all the Slavs in Europe. This is the absolutely unparalleled crime of Hitler. The problem is that shortly after WW2 we were involved in the Cold War with the Russians & were pointing atomic bombs at their cities & threatening to kill hundreds of millions. It thus became politically impossible to treat Hitler's killing of about 30 million as his worst crime. For this reason it was necessary to make the Jews to take on the onus of the victims justifying the war."
"And on the next line we have Brian. Brian what do you want to say"
I think that the decision to cut me off was probably wise. Had I been asked to amplify I would undoubtedly have mentioned that had the Serbian Holocaust been taught in schools a the Jewish one is it would have been impossible for the BBC to use the term "another Hitler" of Milosevic (a man whom nobody who is not ignorant or dishonest has ever accused of racism) while supporting people like Tudjman & Izetbegovic whom they knew to be Nazis formerly in Hitler's forces. The BBC will undoubtedly find the discussion of their deliberate role in genocide unsettling.
While writing this News at 10ish came on with a lot of melodramatic twaddle about how the "world stopped 60 years ago when Auschwitz was liberated" - in fact the world did it's best to ignore it. I don't remember the 50th being a lead "news" item. For the purpose of inducing projectile vomiting we got that obscene genocidal Nazi murdering child rapist Blair's sermon on how dreadful it all was & worse - when I switched channels the slimy war criminal was making exactly the same remarks on Newsnight.
At least he proved my point.
RPSoG - NEW WEALTH FOR AN OLD NATION
The lecture was basically a precis of the series - which made it a pretty concentrated piece of information. Particular points brought out:
Ireland improved their growth because a crisis forced them to reform but we have no actual crisis on hand.
Scottish growth from 1964 to devolution came up from a low point because of regional subsidies, oil & financial services.
Scotland used to be 12% of the UK (Victorian era) & is now 8% - we also have the low fertility rate of southern Europe.
The main drivers of productivity are skills, innovation, reduced regulation, entrepreneurship, & money.
Innovation means 96% using foreign ideas & only 4% coming up with your own - its OK the same applies to other countries indeed Japan managed very well on near 100% import.
Government targets are likely to distort behaviour. (This, as well as being true, is a very strong argument for free marketism.)
Increasing productivity is most important in large states, increasing competitiveness is most important in small regions. (I'm not exactly sure what the difference is except that it means reducing business tax definitely works for small units like us)
Getting well off people in your country (either immigration or encouraging punters to get rich) works. (Amazing how much of economics consists of the bleeding obvious - when politicians would rather believe the opposite).
"Sun Skills & Sprawl" - to make cities in particular work you should encourage these. We don't have sun (tho' I think our countryside is a fair substitute, we arn'tto bad on skills, we have a definite downer on allowing anybody to live anywhere that is currently occupied by farms). It was suggested that Glasgow & Edinburgh should try to be treated & grow into one city (Personally I would prefer GlasPrestHunterBarton).
Public services are 28% of employment & 50% (I thought 52%) of economy - if they aren't considerably more efficient the economy as a whole cannot be efficient.
Incentives work to improve efficiency - even incentives in the public sector. (There was a politically correct genuflection to the point that incentives don't have to be money - this is true but money is easiest & most reliable).
In the Q & A section I impertinently asked why not just take the Irish reforms of 1989 (pretty much my Enterprise motion) as a template since Ireland has grown nearly 4 times faster than us since then. The answer was that while Ireland has done spectacularly well we should remember that since they started poorer than us it was easier for them to play catch up - I said that this doesn't explain it now as they are now 1/3rd better off than us & still growing - I was told that the figures are misleading because so much Irish productivity goes to owners overseas that the people are on average still poorer than us (which I am afraid I would have to see proved).
Another question came from somebody who said that we shouldn't be concerned about growth but only about the environment & should not seek to emulate the Irish who have achieved growth only at the cost of environmental misery (since Ireland recently placed first among the world's happiest nations I don't think we need be to solitious of there misery)(I had best mention that this gentleman was one of the Maryhill Lib Dems who squashed putting my enterprise motion forward to conference - his political principles do not impress me).
In general there was nothing I in the lecture I would disagree with in terms of direction tho' on many points I would go further & more importantly would ask Allander to be clearer & more confrontational in saying what needs to be done. On the other hand I can see that it is easier for somone with no background to be confrontational than members of a respected academic body. I believe that most politicians would do better by the country if they did nothing but veto but I can see that this is a painful thing to say to colleagues.
I didn't quite agree with it but thought that by treating cash as goods it works very well. I am rather pleased with this so I am putting it here.
The common argument against this is that people may refuse to spend their money & that an increased savings rate is a sign of underconsumption.
However if we treat money, gold, government bonds, share certificates, bank books, sacks of paper under the bed etc as goods then it is impossible for there to be underconsumption because you have to spend your earnings on money.
Treating cash as goods may seem strange but take it one further point up the chain & it works. The profits from "manufacturing" cash goes to the government & we know they will consume it. Gold goes to the expense in getting it out of the ground - which would look to a Martian like waste. Share certificates' receipts go to companies which either use by investing it profitably or the shares lose value. Theoretically if everybody consumed to a significant extent by increasing their hoard of "money" the value of it would increasebut in practice I think you could rely on government to print more to maintain a balance - this deflation is effectively what happens when people invest in old masters, of which the supply cannot easily increase.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
HERALD LETTER - PREDICTING LABOUR WIN
The opinion of Peter Russell (letter 18/1) that Labour are heading for a majority beyond their wildest dreams may, unfortunately, be true. However it is equally true that when they do so it will be with roughly 2/3rds of voters voting against them.It has been calculated that if Labour get 31% of the vote at the coming election & nobody doubts that they will, then they will get an overall majority < http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/index.html >. This applies even if the Tories get 32%.
This is what is known as the First Past the Post electoral system. It is not under any circumstances what is known as democracy. If events run true to form 1 5th of the electorate will vote in Blair, 2 5ths will try to vote him out & the other 2 5ths will decide the game is fixed & refuse to play - they can hardly be blamed. The blame for the public contempt for the electoral process must lie with those politicians who knowingly support such a corrupt system.
(Copy of prediction from web site quoted;
The predicted results in the country, given the national levels of support which you entered, are as follows. National Prediction: LAB majority 6
Party2001 Votes2001 Seats Pred Votes Pred Seats
CON 32.71% 165 32.00% 231
LAB 42.05% 403 31.00% 326
LIB 18.84% 51 18.84% 58