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Saturday, September 05, 2009


Douglas Carswell the libertarian Tory MP, of whom I have written favourably previously has been interviewed, in favourable terms, on Mark Reckons, one of the relatively few LibDem blogs that don't censor to promote racial genocide.

The full interview is here & worth it.

I put up this comment starting with a quote of his. I think this worth recording because it shows why I am sympathetic to the real "left" but why the term is damaging when facing the real enemy which is the overbearing & parasitic state.
"the Left ... has captured key institutions. The Left’s long march through our institutions explains the leftist disposition of so much of the quango state"

You can reverse that interpretation. Perhaps the greatest problem of government is its tendency to grow as it comes to be dominated by empire builders (Pournelle's Iron law).

It is at least as much the case that big government has been in a long march through the left than vice versa.
Thus, for example, we find donors to, at least, the LibDems, increasingly consisting of quangos, civil service unions, government departments & government funded fakecharities. That is why Labour is no longer in any way a working class institution. The Greens are considered part of the "left" because they support every sort of regulation & subsidy & despite being committed not to progress but a return to medievalism. The same has happened to the LibDems, as I have said elsewhere, in that in its subservience to big statism (support of the EU & of fascist wars) it has driven out the traditional liberals.

The terms left & right do enormous harm because they interfere with any assessment of real positions - in what way, for example is opposition to the EU or support of inexpensive electricity "right wing"? The term originally came about because the aristocracy entered the French chamber first, through a door on the left hand side & thus ended up on the right. Today support of government over ordinary people is considered left wing - the precise opposite of what they wanted then.
I note also that in the interview Douglas says that he now supports proportional electoral systems, so long as it doesn't involve a simple party list with apparatchiks at the front. This is a change from when He & Daniel Hannan wrote The Plan. It is also something I have mentioned in comments on his blog. I'm sure he would not change his opinion purely because I said so but would check out with sources & people he knows but it is a definite move in the right direction.

I am looking forward to seeing what the new intake of Conservative MPs will be like. There are certainly going to be a lot of them & my hope is that they will be, like Carswell & Hannan, more liberal, in the true meaning of the word, & less Conservative than the average of the current lot.

As an example of how the "left" has not occupied the judiciary but vice versa one can see that High Court Judges, however "leftist" their rulings are said to be, & lawyer serving they actually are, are still upper class public school types as they were a century ago while Labour leaders, who a century ago were working class, usually former trades union leaders, are now (eg Bliar, Harmen) upper class ex-public school lawyers.


Friday, September 04, 2009


Yesterday I blogged on Corporation tax rates worldwide & the relationship to growth. Something I had not realised before is that Serbia's CT is 10% (the only lower one in the world being Montenegro at 9% which I assume is to prove they are different). Regular readers here will know my interest in Serbia.

So I checked out the progress of their economy since we stopped bombing & ethnically cleansing them. This is from the Wiki article:

"the country went through the economic liberalization, and experienced fast economic growth (GDP per capita went from $1,160 in 2000 to $6,782 in 2008[3]). Furthermore, it has been preparing for the membership in the European Union, its most important trading partner. Estimated GDP (by purchasing power parity) of Serbia for 2008 is $78.83 billion which is $10 679 per capita. At present, main economic problems are high unemployment rate (14%) and large trade deficit ($11 billion). Being the only European country with free trades agreements with both the EU and Russia, Serbia expects more economic impulses and high growth rates in the coming years.

In recent years, Serbia has seen an increasingly swift foreign direct investment trend, including many blue-chip companies"

Tables are even more impressive:

Year GDP/growth/Per Capita
2000 8.7 _4.5% 1,160
2001 11.5 4.8% 1,536 [+32%]
2002 15.3 4.2% 2,036 [+33%]
2003 19.8 2.5% 2,640 [+29%}
2004 23.8 8.2% 3,186 [+20%]
2005 25.3 6.0% 3,408 [+6.3%]
2006 29.7 5.6% 4,009 [+17%]
2007 39.9 7.1% 5,387 [+34%]
2008 50.0 5.6% 7,054 [+25%]

That is pretty creditable. I am assuming that the disparity between the official GDP growth rate, averaging 5.4% (6.5% from 2004) & the increase in per capita income is because of the ending of distortions caused by official & semi-official sanctions.

Compared to the German per capita GDP of $31,800 they clearly have some way to go (4.5 times more)(3 by PPP) on the other hand they have gone up 6 times between 2000 & 2008. If my assessment is right future growth will be more like the 6.5% recently in which case average Serb GDP will be passing Germany's today in 2026 by PPP (2030 by exchange rates)

Living well is the best revenge.
George Herbert

Of course it is likely Germany will be a bit better off by then too but not that much. An obvious reason the other EU powers supported Germany's "recognition" of the statelets of openly genocidal (ex-)Nazi German satellites was because, with the reunion of Germany it would become easily the dominant economic & therefore every other sort of, power in Europe. Instead their economy has pretty well sat there & at present growth rates the dominant power by 2030 will easily be Russia, with Turkey possibly in 2nd place.

Which brings up the question of what Serbia should do regarding EU membership. I am writing only in economic not cultural terms. On the one hand membership, if offered on proper terms, would mean a considerable amount of money flowing their way. On the other it would mean all the EU bureaucracy flowing their way too. The EU has been the slowest growing part of the world economy & their regulations, even according to their own commissioners cost £405 bn in 2006, probably £500bn now. Britain could easily ignore the EU because we are an offshore island with easy access to the world while Serbia has merely the same luck as Switzerland. Nonetheless I think they would, except for a short term bonus, prosper more by staying out of the EU & trading freely with everybody, like Switzerland, than by joining the EU's regulatory morass. Unlike Switzerland they do actually have access to the world's oceans via the Danube.

To get most of my hobbyhorses into 1 thread I would also suggest they start building nuclear reactors. I have previously pointed out how available off the shelf reactors can, in a sensible regulatory regime, provide the cheapest & most reliable electricity & probably the best value is from the Russian VVER 1200. Though the Non-Proliferation Treaty prevents countries getting nuclear weapons it specifically assures all countries of the right to commercial nuclear. Now that Russia is stronger & Germany weaker even the EU Nazis are likely to respect international law now. A Serbia, outside the EU, could build nukes & become the France of eastern Europe doing very nicely by keeping the lights on in neighbours hobbled by eco-fascist eurocrats. Serbia is capable of setting its own nuclear regulatory regime, unlike surrounding countries & I suspect in a free market foreign investors would be queuing up to build them knowing the likelihood of blackouts across the EU - so restricted is this industry. Along with economic freedom readily available inexpensive power are the reliable drivers of growth.

It has been pointed out that countries with a high degree of self respect (eg France) tend to be more successful than those who rely on international institutions. I think Serbia can & should set itself national goals, primarily to become as economically powerful, per capita, as Germany. The lesson is not only that free markets produce better growth than controlled ones but that countries which make growth their priority (Stalin's USSR) do better than those with a culture overly downgrades the importance of growth (late Victorian Britain, current USA & UK). I think a market orientated, pro-nuclear, Serbia outside the EU could achieve all that.

I have no idea what their housebuilding regulations are like but since we have forced refugees on them exceeding 10% of their population I assume they are pretty free. In Britain housing costs 4 times the construction costs because of regulation but I assume such silliness doesn't occur there.

They should also put some effort, very small in terms of national income, into suing every unfriendly foreign politician, involved in genocide, in their own countries - call it a contribution to peace.

OK to force the last hobbyhorse in they should negotiate a joint small X-Prize Foundation with Australia (it has possible equatorial launch sites & a sizable expatiate Yugoslav population.

Looking at the later statistics in the article is even better news. Government debt has halved in money terms & sixtht in GNP terms, while foreign exchange reserves are not merely healthy but larger than public debt. What that means is that the dinar is being artificially kept down to make industry more competitive. It is what China has also been doing by lending money to the USA. It sacrifices present wealth for growth & future wealth (we are doing the opposite) so the PPP figure for national wealth is certainly more accurate than the exchange rate version & even then probably understates intrinsic wealth. It is also an option that would not be available if Serbia joined the euro.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


The reason for Ireland's quite explicable economic "miracle" is known to be their cut of corporation tax & cutting of regulation, particularly building regulations. Here is Wikipedia's listing of corporation tax around the world:

Country/Corporate Rate
Algeria 30%+3%
Angola 35%
Argentina 35%
Australia 30%
Austria 25%
Azerbaijan 22%
Bangladesh 0-40%
Barbados 40%
Belarus 24%
Belgium 33.99%
Benin 35%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 10%
Botswana 15% (plus 10% surcharge)
Brazil 34%
Bulgaria 10%
Burkina Faso 10-45%
Burundi 35%
Cameroon 38.5%
Canada 29.5-35.5%
Chile 17%
China 25%
Colombia 35%
Croatia 20%
Cuba 30%
Cyprus 10%
Czech Republic 21%
Denmark 25%
Egypt 20%
El Salvador 25%
Estonia 21%
Finland 26%
France 33.33%
Gabon 35%
Germany 29.8%
Georgia 15%
Gibraltar 33%
Greece 22/25%
Guatemala 31%
Guyana 35%/45%
Hong Kong 16.5%
Hungary 16%
Iceland 18/26%
India 30-40%
Indonesia 28%
Iran 25%
Ireland 12.5%
Israel 27%
Italy 31.4%
Jamaica 33.3%
Japan 30%
Jordan 15/25/35%
Kazakhstan 20%
South Korea 13/25%
Latvia 15%
Lebanon 15/4-21%
Lithuania 20%
Luxembourg 29.63%
Malaysia 26%
Malta 35%
Mexico 28%
Monaco 33.33%
Montenegro 9%
Morocco 35%
Netherlands 20/25.5%
New Zealand 30%
Norway 28%
Pakistan 35%
Panama 30%
Peru 27%
Philippines 35%
Poland 19%
Portugal 12.5-27.5%
Romania 16%
Russia 20%
Saudi Arabia 20%-85%
Senegal 33%
Serbia 10%
Singapore 18%
Slovakia 19%
Slovenia 22%
South Africa 28%
Spain 25-30%
Sweden 26.3%
Switzerland[2] 13-25%
Syria 10-45%
Taiwan/Republic of China 25%
Tanzania 30%
Thailand 30%
Tunisia 30%
Turkey 20%
Ukraine 25%
United Kingdom 21-28%
United States 15-39%
US CT is slightly weirder than appears since the ultimate federal rate is 35%, the 39% & 38% rates being sandwiched between other lots but also there are state rates of 0-10.75%. That can add an average of 5% to the federal US rate making it 40%.
Uruguay 30%
Uzbekistan 12%
Venezuela 15/22/34%
Vietnam 28%
Zambia 35%

Now a lot of these are not closely comparable since the various bands will vary a lot. Nonetheless we have a clear trend. Average looks around the mid 20s slightly lower than Britain is. Countries under 20% are Bosnia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyrus, Georgia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Rumania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia & Uzbekistan. Most of these, at least the stable ones are growing well, even if often from a low base. Countries above 35% are Bangladesh, Barbados, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Guyana, India, Saudi Arabia & the USA of whom India is the spectacularly fast growing exception.

So not a simple & absolute rule that cutting CT solves all growth ills but a clear trend.

There is a relationship between tax rates generally & growth "one percentage point increase in tax burden is associated with ... future five-year growth rates are estimated to be lower by 1.56 percent" which is 0.31% less per year.

Since CT is the particular tax that most closely affects business investment it should have a disproportionate effect compared to cutting taxes on other areas, even though it is a small portion of total taxes (9% in the UK). The Irish cut of 20% (from 32% to 12.5%) has led to growth going from British rates to 7% on average which implies a 4% cut in CT would roughly relate to a 1% increase in growth. Ireland also cut building regulations & some other taxes but on the other hand at the time it was in zero growth rather than matching the UK's. I think we can be confident of at least a 5-1 relationship between CT & growth.

On that basis cutting Britain's 28% CT to Ireland's 12.5% would increase our growth rate by at least 3% a year. Cutting the USA's 40% to the same should produce an least an extra 5.5% annual growth. To draw out the example that means that that reform alone will double the expected wealth of everybody in Britain from what it would have been in 23 years & in the USA in 12.7.

I must admit before researching this I still held some belief in the USA being a beacon of free enterprise/run by bloated capitalists according to preference. Clearly with one of the highest Corporation Tax rates in the world that is not so, and they lose heavily because of it.

Assuming a relationship between CT & investment that (1) people invest in proportion to the returns they expect, (2) most dividends get reinvested & (3) most reinvested dividends get reinvested we should expect the long term investment rate to be the cube of the non-taxed portion of money theoretically available. In the UK (1-0.28^3) that is 37%, for Ireland it is 67% & in the USA investment is 22.7%. International investment, where investors have a wide choice of where to invest will probably have a considerably wider diveregence in where they choose to invest than that.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009


A follow up to my recent poll on space burial. While it wasn't exactly a massive selection of votes (7) the results are interesting. On a previous occasion a poll I did on how much of the economy should be government spending (average about 15%) I was willing to discount it till a newspaper poll came out with results that seemed to be in line. Thus I am going to treat this poll not only as the best to hand but also as reasonable:

Don't want space burial 14%
Willing to pay £10,000 14%
" " " £5,000 14%
" " " £2,000 14%
Wanting some but not all ashes scattered in space 43%

This gives the paradoxical answer that 7 average people between them would be willing to pay £11,000/£7,000 depending on whether the market can provide the more extensive service, for the lower price (have assumed £333 for the last option).

So lets see how that converts:

About 1.5 billion in the developed world or wealthy members of the undeveloped. Assume life expectancy of 80.

(1.5bn X 0.0125)/7 X £7,000 = £18.7 billion ($30 bn)

That looks to me like a serious space industry, comparable with space tourism, there for the taking. In particular I was surprised at the number choosing the last option. It looks to me like making that last option available for ordinary funerals would be a very feasible extra option for any business model.

Another thought is that such ashes need not be scattered immediately & that, if kept, they may be easier to scatter in a decade.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

NCIS Rules

From NCIS one of the best programmes on TV right now. Since it is a Navy CIS it can investigate any crime involving Navy personell fromnormal police work, to helping out veterans to stopping terrorist attacks on anybody up the the Commander in Chief. However it is not the open format that makes it more than the run of the mill police procedurals but the characters, particularly Gibbs (the boss), Ducky (David "what did he look like when he was young? Illya Kuryakin" MacCallum & Abby an improbably goth forensic scientist.

Anyway here are Gibbs rules, some of which show the signs of more than 1 writer being on the job. The most often repeated one is the last unnumbered one "never apologise" which actually I firm;y disagree with since if you never do so you never learn, but is taken from John Wayne.

Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together.
Rule #1: Never screw (over) your partner.
Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene.
Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check.
Rule #3: Never be unreachable.
Rule #4: If you have a secret, the best thing is to keep it to yourself. The second-best is to tell one other person if you must. There is no third-best.
Rule #7: Always be specific when you lie.
Rule #8: Never take anything for granted.
Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife. Rule #11: Leave when the job is done
Rule #12: Never date a co-worker.
Rule #13 Never, ever involve lawyers (first heard of in 6.07 Collatoral Damage)
Rule #15: Always work as a team.
Rule #18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.
Rule #22: Never, ever interrupt Gibbs in interrogation.
Rule #23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee.
Rule #38: Your case, your lead.
Rule #?: Never say you're sorry.

Monday, August 31, 2009

HIJACKED RUSSIAN SHIP - WHAT PROBABLY HAPPENED - why is our media so crap they don't report this?

There was a recent rather strange story in the British media about a ship, carrying timber, being hijacked. The Scotsman & British media generally aren't saying much.
RUSSIA last night said nothing suspicious was found on the ship Arctic Sea seized by suspected pirates in the North Sea this month.

Speculation was rife about a secret cargo of arms or nuclear materials, as a ship carrying timber would be an unlikely target for pirates.
Rather more informative speculation comes from Asia Times. I assume the country with the "distinct interest" in Israel not being attacked is Israel:

"On July 24, between the islands of Oland and Gotland, the vessel was attacked by a group of 10 to 12 people in black masks. They beat and bound the crew while searching for something on the vessel. According to some sources, the hijackers spent nearly 12 hours on the Arctic Sea before leaving empty-handed.

After the attack, the crew reported the incident solely to the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, which then relayed the information to Swedish authorities a couple of days later. Meanwhile, the Arctic Sea followed its course.

On July 28, the Arctic Sea had the last radio contact with the British Coast Guard as the ship entered the English Channel between Britain and France, at which time the crew reported everything was okay. However, according to other sources, the final transmission was on July 30, 80 kilometers south of Penzance in southwest Britain.

After that, the Arctic Sea sent no signals and the vessel disappeared from radar screens. It was allegedly hijacked again on August 3, at which point the hijackers demanded a $1.5 million ransom for the vessel's safe release.

... On August 14, the Russian navy rescued the vessel in international waters 480 kilometers off the West African island nation of Cape Verde.

... The Moscow version raises, among others, the following questions:

If, for the past 500 years, there have been no pirates in the Baltic Sea, why have they suddenly reappeared?

Given that a hijacking operation of this scale is financially costly, why would the pirates target an old rusty vessel with cargo of even lesser value?

Why did the pirates leave it? Did they really abandon the ship?

When and by whom was the ship hijacked again?

Why did the Russian navy and the FSB suddenly decide to act so decisively to rescue a Maltese-flagged cargo ship, while ignoring the plight of Russians captives overseas - for example, sailors hijacked by Somali pirates or arrested under false pretexts by Nigerian authorities?

Only one thing is clear: the Russian authorities have something to hide.

Julia Latynina, a Russian investigative journalist, noticed that, before the Arctic Sea received its cargo in Finland, it underwent two weeks of maintenance in the Russian port of Kaliningrad, a major Russian military base in the Baltic Sea.

This is where, Latynina presumes, the ship was loaded with a cargo attractive to the pirates. Could it be drugs? No, says Latynina. They wouldn't be worth a sophisticated operation of hijacking a ship in the highly policed waters of the Baltic Sea. She believes that the only plausible explanation must be an illegal shipment of weapons destined for, say, Iran or Syria. Moreover, there were no pirates, but rather a group of professionals sent by a state displeased with these activities.

This correspondent asked a former GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) officer, who many years ago escaped to the West, what he thought was on board the Arctic Sea. Instead of giving a direct answer, he suggested checking an obscure Russian-language website, where a former Russian military officer based in Ukraine, Vladimir Filin, posted an article entitled, "Biochemical weapon which [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin intends to drop on Jewish heads." Filin writes that the Arctic Sea, under the cover of a load of Finnish timber, was delivering a shipment of weapons to Iran via Algeria.

Filin said the crates (loaded on board in Kaliningrad) could have contained four X-55 strategic cruise missiles (without front sections) and devices to implement an air launch from military planes of the SU-24 type, provided that the aircraft were retrofitted as carriers of a single cruise missile.
He asserts, too, that this was not the first shipment. According to Filin:
Russia had previously delivered to Iran the front sections of X-55, which was retrofitted to carry Soviet-made chemical weapons.

The biochemical weapons were already delivered from Russia to Iran by air. It was expected that, in the near future, Russian specialists would arrive in Iran in order to bring the SU-24 and X-55 up to a state of readiness and to train Iranian military personnel.

It was also expected that, given the high probability of an Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, X-55 missiles loaded with biochemical warheads could be used in the Iranian counterstrike against Israeli cities.

[...] Given the scale of the potential international brouhaha, a country with a distinct interest in preventing this shipment chose to interdict it in an unofficial manner.

[...] So far, this is all what I have to say."

Now why is our media so useless that they have effectively nothing to say over this & we have to rely in the Hong Kong press to report what happens in the English Channel. It clearly isn't because it embarrasses our government this time. Why can't they report events that aren't pre-arranged or reporting that hasn't been predigested to remove anything complicated or unusual? Is it because our entire media lives on press releases & briefings from government & government approved sources & they have just got out of the habit of reporting things themselves?

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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Q1 What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?
Q2 What do you see as other important issues facing Britain today?

Ist number is those who think it is the single most important issue, 2nd think it is important
Economy/economic situation 34 54
Crime/law & order/violence/vandalism/ASB 11 32
Unemployment/Factory Closure/Lack of Industry 14 30
Race relations/immigration/immigrants 11 25
Defence/foreign affairs/international terrorism 5 17
National Health Service/Hospitals/Health care 2 16
Education/Schools 1 12
Morality/individual behaviour/lifestyle 2 10
Inflation/prices 3 9
Drug abuse 1 7
Poverty/inequality 2 6
Pollution/environment 1 5
Housing 1 5
Bird flu/Pandemic Flu/Swine Flu 1 4
Pensions/social security/benefits 1 3
Public services in general 1 3
Taxation * 2
Local government/council tax * 2
Common Market/EU/Europe/EURO * 2
Low pay/minimum wage/fair wages * 1
Petrol prices/fuel * 1
Nationalisation/Government control of institutions 0 1
Transport/public transport * 1
Pound/exchange rate/value of pound * 1
Countryside/rural life 0 1

As normal "its the economy stupid" with 51% choosing it, unemployment & inflation as the most important issue. Pollution/environment comes at 2% & that includes a lot of local things rather than just global warming so it seems this catastrophic warming doesn't upset many people. For most subjects the important listing is less than double the those listing it as primary. I am a little surprised since that means people on average, listed fewer secondary subjects than primary ones - it may be that it was the people asking the questions rather than those answering them who were so single minded. Ones which scored high on secondary - race, defence, NHS, education, morality, drugs, pollution, housing & swine flu look, with the exception of race which we don't like to admit being important, like things that people here more about from the media than experiencing directly.

It does suggest that the election, like most of them, will be won by whoever looks most competent to run the economy. All Cameron's cuddly greenery may have improved his position among 1% of the electors, & if it hurts perceived economic competence, as it certainly should, has weakened them among 51% of electors. Fortunately for them Brown & Clegg are even worse.

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