17 November 2007

Upping the stakes

Whether we should be worried about foreign governments having stakes in British industries, directly or through intermediary funds or companies, is an interesting question. Although clearly the Anarcho-Capitalist position is not to have state ownership of any companies (or indeed to have states), essentially if foreign states buy British companies then their tax payers are subsidising British industries, freeing up capital to be used elsewhere in the British economy. Thankfully the British state is relatively relaxed in this regard which benefits us all, unlike the French government in the case of Enel:

Enel's interest prompted outrage in France and the French government intervened to encourage a merger of GDF with Suez to create a national champion impenetrable to foreign bidders.

Which is rather hypocritical given that the French government supported √Člectricit√© de France owns 100% of EDF Energy - a merger of London Energy, SWEB Energy and Seeboard Energy. Although the British government seems to have some reservations about security with regard to energy provision:

[When] Gazprom showed interest in acquiring Centrica, ministers considered ways to block any bid, and may even have warned off the Russian state monopoly.

I would argue that this is ridiculous, as energy distribution is geographically tied. If another state tried some kind of blackmail using the energy companies they had acquired it would be a simple matter to commandeer said companies and it would be doubtful that British employees would be complicit in the foreign blackmail of their own country. In this scenario it would seem to me that Britain would be paid for the company, then British interests could regain it for free and, if wanted, sell it again!

14 November 2007

Moore shoots self in foot

Richard Garner has an interesting post on The really real Sicko, showing some of the realities of the 'great' Cuban medical system. I am amazed that anyone in Britain can possibly take this film seriously if it is trying to suggest that other countries would want to emulate our crippled (pun intended) system.

05 November 2007

Speculating on the Police State

The British state has seemed intent on the introduction of ID cards and the cataloging of us like so many lab rats and the British population on the whole seems to have remained pretty docile about the whole thing. However one wonders if they may be getting jitters given the following excerpt from The World this Weekend, a Radio Four show;

[24:45] R4 : Let me ask you if I may one very quick question about that. It's been suggested that one of those policies, the ID cards, may be dropped from the Queen's speech, that the idea that they should be compulsory for UK citizens is an idea that the government is retreating from. True or false?
[24:59] Harman: Well I think that that's false. We are absolutely clear
that we are going to have proper bio-metric-iden-ti-fication for people from
abroad who are in this country, that we are --
[25:10] R4: But for UK citizens, people who actually are citizens of this
[25:13] Harman: There's no change in our policy [that has] been announced,
and that's just speculation.

It would no doubt be too much to hope for that the past failures of similar schemes in other states, viz. The Australia Card, would give pause to our own ruthless authoritarians.

In evidence to the Joint Select Committee on an Australia Card, 1986, Justice Michael Kirby, President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal, observed "If there is an identity card, then people in authority will want to put it to use....What is at stake is nothing less than the nature of our society and the power and authority of the state over the individual".

03 November 2007

Democracy: The God that failed

New research has confirmed what Anarcho-Capitalists and other freethinkers have long suspected; 45 of public will vote for last person they saw on tv. This groundbreaking research is thoroughly backed up by rigorous statistics, at least on a par with a government press release.

15 October 2007

Where now for the Liberal Democrats?

So Menzies Campbell has resigned. It is somewhat surprising to me that it happened so soon, but it was obvious that Menzies didn't have the media savvy to stay as party leader. What will be interesting is which way the Liberal Democrat party goes. Will it become more economically liberal now that there is a (at least perceived) revival in Conservative economic liberalism? I think this is actually quite likely, although more as a matter of image than substance. For example, I would be amazed if the Liberal Democrats argued that the tax take was 10% too high.
I still wonder which is better for a free society; is it better that the parties differentiate and at least one supports more economically and socially liberal policies, or is it better that all three converge on the mythical 'centre ground' and show up politics to be the farce that it is?

10 October 2007

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

I do wonder if any of the people who continue to parrot the inanity in this post title watched the documentary on China's missing children. The relevant part was when one of the couples described how you were essentially a non-person without the requisite state approved identification. How could you get in this terrible situation? Purely by having a father under 22 or a mother under 20, who would be too young to be allowed by the state to marry, thus unable to get a marriage certificate, thus unable to get a birth certificate, thus unable to get their child a state ID, making the child a pariah from birth.
This all done in the name of population control. Whilst the British government has never been communist, the deep green watermelon types have similar thoughts on population growth and advocate the state dealing with it. Given this background and the State's never ending quest for more control over it's citizens a similar scenario in the UK is not quite as unlikely as it first appears. Anyway, regardless of its likelihood, it nevertheless shows up the old trope in the title as the drivel it is.

25 June 2007

Where to go for ideological debate?

To be a freethinker one has to be open to alternative viewpoints and give them serious consideration. As a blogger one tends to network with other like-minded individuals, which does not provoke as much introspection as might be necessary to hone a rigorous intellectual defence of one's position.
However, if one accepts the logical coherency of anarcho-capitalism, one must necessarily reject the coherency of alternative popular political stances, so where to turn for real thought provoking alternative views and criticism of one's position? I would be interesting to know if any ancaps or libertarians generally read particular blogs that come from a different philosophical or theoretical position. Certainly the blogroll of this blog is very ancap biased.

18 June 2007

Scottish Independence

A good bit of satire from Freedom and Whisky on the increased likelihood of an imminent referendum on Scottish Independence. Basically the Conservatives in Scotland think an early referendum would give them more chance of getting a no vote to Scottish independence and put the issue to rest. However, the polling seems indecisive and if the SNP get the timing right there is a chance, albeit slim, that the Scots will vote yes.

24 May 2007

The lack of Scotland Effect

I am intrigued that the formation of an SNP government in Holyrood (albeit a minority one) has had so little impact on the political landscape in England. I would have thought it was quite a kick in the teeth for Gordon Brown, but obviously not.

Since I was away Gordon Brown has also officially become the primeminister in waiting, that seemed to be a bit of a damp squib as well.

Perhaps both these events were so predictable that there was nothing left to say about them when they happened.

So this probably wins some kind of award for most un-interesting post ever...

25 April 2007

The real space race begins

If you're a regular reader (difficult due to my irregular posting habits, I know), you will probably have guessed what this post title refers to; yes, it is commercial space flight. Although I am as impressed as anyone with the fact that man has made it to the moon, the way we went about it was not so impressive, i.e. the reason for going was pure machismo and the cost was a stupendous burden for very little benefit. The converse is true of commercial spaceflight and what is much more interesting now is the following from Virgin Galactic:

"Scaled Composites is progressing well in producing what will be an exceptional spaceship and launch system. Test flying of the system will commence in 2008 and we expect to start commercial operations towards the end of 2009."

Fully operational commercial spaceflight could be one of the true breakthroughs in my life time, allowing an efficient sustainable exploration of the solar system and beyond. I won't try and predict how fast this will happen, but it seems likely that we are a stage similar to that of 17 December, 1903.

Also exciting is that not all the fun will be in America, as Spaceport Sweden intends to be Virgin Galactic's base of European operations.

26 March 2007

Cameron the weathervane

Tonight, Peter Hitchens presented a Channel 4 Dispatches programme on Cameron's rise to the top in the Conservative party and although I am always happy to bring down any politician, I find it odd the way in which Hitchens attacks Cameron. One of his main points was that Cameron has forgone principles in favour of a populist media driven bid for power. What surprises me is that Hitchens is surprised. Cameron is doing exactly the right thing to progress a career in politics; he is directing his party in the manner that will gain most support, principles are irrelevant.

Hitchens is disappointed that the Conservatives have abandoned principles for a naked grab for power, but this simply proves that in a democracy the kind of vague feel-good jargon that Cameron peddles is exactly the stance that wins elections. It is precisely those who do hold a set of logically consistent principles who fail to achieve power in a democratic system. This is because most people are not driven to vote by logically consistent principles, but by emotions.

This is what is meant by the 'centre ground', it is not really the centre of anything, more accurately it is the absence of any underlying philosophy. If it does have a guiding principle it is expediency. This is what all democratic systems become, an inconsistent assemblage of policies designed to appeal to the current emotional condition of the majority of the populace. Assuming the polls are accurate, in a very real sense we do still live in a democratic country, it is just that democracy is not what some people thought it was, i.e. about principles.

19 March 2007

I believe in TV

After watching The Great Global Warming Swindle I was tempted to write up my thoughts on the science behind this programme and whether or not it did debunk the widely held view that humans are directly causing the world to heat up to cataclysmic levels. However the debate at Samizdata probably illuminates the general thinking of those already unconvinced by Anthropogenic Global Warming.

I do think it odd that there has been no decent critique of the science in that programme (at least not that I have seen, let me know if you have seen different) and that the attacks are mostly ad hominems against the 'raving marxist' Martin Durkin who made it. Of course I do think it somewhat ironic that the followers of the Leftist cause par excellance are having a go at someone for being a Leftist.

"Durkin laughs about the fact that many environmentalists fancy themselves as leftists, yet ‘they are always exposing me…as a leftist!"

However, the thing that has caught my attention most since the programme aired was how easily former stalwarts of the Global Warming movement are swayed. I have heard a number of people, previously fully convinced of Global Warming and the need for much government intervention, suddenly pipe up and explain to all and sundry how anthropogenic CO2 has virtually no effect on global temperatures. Now, leaving aside the veracity of the programme, how fully can you have thought through and been convinced of your position to be swayed in the opposite direction by one prime time television programme?

I'm not suggesting that those who considered there to be some truth in Global Warming and were moved slightly away from that position are behaving at all strangely, but I do think it odd that those all for heavy taxation to prevent impending doom one minute, are suddenly doubting the whole thing the next! Whether the contents of this programme are acurate or not I will leave for you to decide, but before we rush headlong into more statism, it is worth pausing to consider just how certain Anthropogenic Global Warming advocates actually are.

24 February 2007

Web TV

I find it very exciting that TV is moving more towards the web rather than through the more usual analogue and digital channels. An example of this is the site 18 Doughty Street, although it is unabashedly conservative, it nevertheless shows off the potential of streaming media over the internet to supplant mainstream television. Not surprisingly attempts of the BBC, that bastion of socialist statism, at web based television are far inferior to privately funded attempts.

As this technology is becoming easier for the average person to use (surely aided by sites such as YouTube) it will become possible for a far more diverse set of broadcast media with much higher levels of interaction with the audience. This is obvious as the internet is the ultimate expression of complex multi-channel communication. Now who is going to set up Ancap TV?