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Saturday, December 15, 2007


There is also a thoughtful & disturbing speech from Newt Gingrich on the problem of Islamism.

Then you look at Afghanistan. Here's a country that's small, poor, isolated, and in six years we have not been able to build roads, create economic opportunity, wean people off of growing drugs. A third of the GDP is from drugs. We haven't been able to end the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan. And I know of no case historically where you defeat a guerrilla movement if it has a sanctuary. So the people who rely on the West are out-bribed by the criminals, outgunned by the criminals, and faced with a militant force across the border which practiced earlier defeating the Soviet empire and which has a time horizon of three or four generations. NATO has a time horizon of each quarter or at best a year, facing an opponent whose time horizon is literally three or four generations. It's a total mismatch....

And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

He makes the comparison with 1930s appeasement. Now I don't think these people are a real threat to the west, I think China is the one likely to displace us (& to deserve to if we give way to Ludditism & they don't). However my position bears a comparison here with the 1930s appeasement too. A major reason Britain & France were unwilling to oppose Hitler was that they saw Soviet economic progress & thought that if we wasted our economic resources on Hitler the Soviets would be the wave of the future.

While I don't think al Quaida are a threat to equal Hitler he makes a good point

We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can.
As a bit of a non-sequiter he says something I didn't know about the Cold War which I didn't know.
Part of the war we waged on the Soviet Union involved their natural gas supply because we wanted to cut off their hard currency. The Soviets were desperate to get better equipment for their pipeline. We managed to sell them through third parties very, very sophisticated American pipeline equipment, which they were thrilled to buy and thought they had pulled off a huge coup. Now we weren't playing fair. We did not tell them that the equipment was designed to blow up. One day in 1982, there was an explosion in Siberia so large that the initial reflection on the satellites looked like there was a tactical nuclear weapon. One part of the White House was genuinely worried, and the other part of the White House had to calm them down. They said, "No, no, that's our equipment blowing up."
I like to think we won that war because free enterprise works better & indeed the fact that the Russians needed to buy US equipment tends to confirm that. Still I would have preferred them not to have played dirty. I have also heard that British intelligence got the opportunity to sell similarly dangerous detonaters to the IRA & decided the risk of collateral innocnet damage would be to much. I have less sympathy for al Quaeda or even the IRA than for the Soviets who tried to build something constructive.


Part of a discussion on government regulatory controls & how they affect economic competitivity opn Jerry Pournelle's site;

The problem with regulation is that the cost of producing & enforcing regulations seems to be about 1/20th of what they cost those regulated. If disability rules, or many others, were funded by government payments then they would be genuine charity (ignoring that taxes are not paid proportionately to voting strength). Enforcing such costs on business is not sharing the pain it is merely moving it to somebody else. If the government had to bear the costs it creates it wouldn't do so.

the 20% figure comes from
HabitsofHighlyEffectiveCountries.pdf I recommend this though you really have to be an economics anorak like me to read it all The precis is that economic freedom is a "necessary & sufficient condition" for success, that most government spending is counterproductive, though expenditure on fixed infrastructure like roads is usually worth it & to my surprise, that education spending does not generally have a positive effect.

Neil Craig

The problem is this:

economic freedom is a "necessary & sufficient condition" for success

requires some explanation as to what is "success." Complete unregulated economic freedom will certainly produce a maximum return on investment to the investor. It can also product social instabilities. William Lloyd Garrison railed against slavery while dismissing injured workers without compensation, and dismissed all his factory workers when they reached the age of 35. This certainly made for productive mills, and demonstrated the economic superiority of free enterprise over slavery. Under slavery the social custom (and in some states legal requirement) was that aged slaves had the right to live in peace on the land they had worked; when I was a child in the segregated South, it was still the custom that a sharecropper had the right to live out his life in the house and on the land he had worked for much of his life. This was expensive and certainly didn't aid production; turning them out would have raised production.

I have said this many times: economic freedom, unregulated, is the sufficient condition for slavery to reappear. The free market will eventually sell everything for which there is a demand, including child prostitutes and human flesh.

On the other hand, a command and regulated economy is massively unproductive, as witness the Soviet system of Agriculture, NASA, and the American education system.
Actually neither of us believe in ending the welfare state, merely in ensuring that there is a proper cost/benefit relationship & that the major beneficiries are the official beneficiries not the administrators.

Friday, December 14, 2007


LudDim Leader Nicol Stephen, speaking at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament accused the SNP of "contradiction, concealment and cleverness" over Alex Salmond's de facto support (while wearing his local MSP hat) of Donald Trump investing £1 billion in his constituency while being required (while wearing his First Minister hat) to be neutral. I think he did pretty well in an impossible situation.

It seems that, with the rest of the LudDims sitting on their hands as Councillor Ford was fired (his committee rejected the investment on a mixture of Luddism & hatred of anybody from west of Edinburgh) Trump will keep his project on the table. The ridiculous decision to reject Trump's investment has caused much real anger among locals & I doubt they will hold many council seats come the next election.

In any case Nicol once again looks like an idiot for accusing his opponents of "cleverness". The party chose him for his photogenic blondness not for his intellectual capacity & it shows. If I were Salmond I would be keeping that accusation to hand.


That translation will be required by almost 60% of the Western Isles councillors because only 18 of the 31 are fluent Gaelic speakers.

At the moment only some committee meetings are conducted in Gaelic but the council, which was set up in 1976, has now decided that all committee meetings and the full council will be held in the native tongue.

A full simultaneous English translation service will be available for all non-Gaelic speakers.

There will no additional costs involved because there is already a translator in the council's Sgioba na Gaidhlig (Gaelic team).

The translator sits in a booth at the rear of the council and translates the proceedings. Councillors can listen through headphones. There are also headphones available for members of the public.

What stupidity. The important point is that all the councillors are fluent in English & I suspect even the Gaelic speakers will be better English speakers. Obviously no real organisation wold do this.

I doubt the bit about "no additional costs". certainly all this translation nonsense will make meetings considerably longer & less coherent. If they are not, in due course, going to have to hire another translator then the present one(s) are woefully underemployed. Of course if, after introducing this, they find they do need an extra translator they have the option of deciding they were wrong & going back to speaking to each other in English or hiring another translator. Any bets?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


My leading Herald letter today on the maintenance of Hunterston. It has been slightly edited <> which possibly makes it slightly less hard hitting but does tighten it up.

"The SNP's approval of the extension of Hunterston's lifetime beyond 2011 is a welcome, if belated and partial, recognition of reality. With Hunterston due to close in 2011 <& 50% of all Scotland's electricity to be shut down in 2023> and wind struggling to produce more than 3% (unreliably), despite Scottish Government subsidises of around £1bn annually, we were facing massive blackouts.

We still are. They have merely been put back a few years and will be all the worse when they happen. Meanwhile, should we expect an apology from all those politicians who have insisted that nuclear is dangerous and waste is a problem? If it is safe to run Hunterston so far beyond its design life (rarely a good idea in any engineering project and using a reactor that produces considerably more waste per KWh than more modern ones) then they cannot have been telling the truth

However, this has merely put off a decision. < Scotland has 2,500 pensioner deaths every year due to fuel poverty & electricity costs.> Hunterston is already working at only 50% capacity owing to age. This is like running a 40-year-old car with only one cylinder rather than buying a new one because you believe bicycles are the future. For the £1bn subsidy going to wind we could, if our government were acting responsibly, have two new reactors the size of Hunterston annually, with our electricity at well under half the current price. A few weeks ago Alex Salmond promised us a "Celtic Lion" economy with a growth rate to match Ireland. We could certainly have that if the political will were there, but not with an expensive and collapsing electricity system."."

I have also commented on the forum. Alex has an interesting comment. Though he is specifically not a warming sceptic he has an accurate opinion of the "environmental" movement.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


It seems the Herald will not be publishing my 3rd letter on alleged global warming despite having given Paul 3 letters to my 2 so here it is. Ah well.

"First let me acknowledge that in his letter about alleged warming, Paul Shaw (letter Weds) confirms the need for new nuclear power. Certainly nuclear is the only practical method of producing electricity with minimum CO2 (less than windmills) & is therefore a touchstone between those self styled "environmentalists" who secretly don't believe in their catastrophic warming claims & those who honestly do. It is obviously impossible to truly be both against warming & against the only practical alternative. The fact that we are shortly going to lose 50% of our generating capacity & new nuclear could replace it at half the price of conventional power need not, from the Green point of view, be a consideration.

Once again Mr Shaw has put forcefully his case that catastrophic warming is currently happening declaring that "their is no doubt" & that it is "indisputable", but also once again failing to produce any actual evidence except for about 27 glaciers worldwide expanding. Mr Starbuck, in similar vein says to doubt it is "absurd" & that I am "in denial" but again can produce no actual evidence of warming matching even the medieval warming. Well, I am afraid I can doubt it & I do dispute it & statements from the "great & good" firmly ensconced in government are not convincing. Actual evidence of serious warming would be. The fact remains that temperature has fallen since 1998, which itself was a high point cooler than the previous high point of 1934.

The only evidence Mr Shaw produced is of 27 shrinking glaciers worldwide. If he cares to check ( he will find a more substantial list of growing ones.

Mr Starbuck reels off a long list of catastrophes to be expected real soon now (melting sea ice, though it floats; tipping points, which by definition must, if they existed, be beyond the temperature we have historically experienced; methane from permafrost, which as Chris Parton has already pointed out survived the previous Holocene warming & 7 million years before that; as did Greenland's ice sheet) while Mr Shaw lists "peak oil" though he should be aware that improved technology has made the Canadian tar sands, equivalent to a whole new Saudi Arabia, accessible at $20 a barrel. It is exactly this sort of technological progress which is the real hope of the human race not ending growth & retreating into medievalism as Greens (of all parties) wish. As Frank Notestein (1902-1983) once pointed out "we've been running out of oil since I was a boy" & indeed the earliest warnings of peak oil were in the 1850s. I'm afraid I must regard all these prophecies as being among the "hobgoblins" the Luddites wish to frighten us with."

Monday, December 10, 2007


I have discussed before how our freedom is being threatened by government financing of eco, health & other scares. Here is a comment I have put on a Guardian article but which I think deserves permanent consideration. Obviously it would require some individual or organisation with considerable financial resources , or a lawyer such as Cherie Blair who has no difficulty getting legal aid, to test this. Certainly cases where the Convention have been more ambiguous (eg right to family life used to justify free fertility treatment) have been made & won. Legal action might be a worthwile investment for an organisation, for example a pro-nuclear one, which would be in line for substantial compensation if the government were forced to disburss a similar amount to the amount handed out for anti-nuclear propaganda.


"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."Henry Louis Mencken..

This is how liberty is eroded & it is currently being done by government subsidising eco-fascist & health fascist groups (eg 90% of Friends of the Earth Europe's funds coming from government sources or the £3 million our government gave to ASH to promote the smoking ban).

This is contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. this right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises."

since government subsidy of eco or health fascist scares is clearly "interference by public authority".

To be fair the next section does allow government propaganda "for the protection of health" but for that to apply the government would have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that passive smoking really kills the thousands that have been claimed &, since it doesn't, that cannot be proved. Even that permission does not apply to "global warming" propaganda.

It might be arguable that if government gave equal subsidies to those organisation opposed to such scares the "interference" would be negated & that such organisations therefore have a legal right to match all the government subsidies handed out over the years to them. I suspect our masters would resist paying as much money for Martin Durkin to do another Global Warming Swindle programme as they gave to Al Gore to show his Convenient Lie film to schoolchildren.

Since the BBC is a state funded broadcasting organisation it has the same legal duty.

UPDATE The Guardian have now twice decided not to allow this post to stand. Since it wasn't offensiv, racist, anti-femisist, mention Yugoslavia or any of the other things this paper justifies censoring it seems they think this would be a serious threat to enforcing political correctness.

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