NickM, Samizdata comment thread regular who gigs over at CountingCats, pretty much sums up my own views about the Tories and David Cameron at the moment. Which got me thinking: what would happen if, heaven forbid, we got another few years of Gordon Brown in Number 10?
This is all getting very ugly indeed. For a start, sterling is falling fast in the exchanges. There is, I think, more than an outside chance that if long-term government bond yields start to rise faster to attract lenders to lend, it will push the UK back into the recession from which it only recently – if you believe the data – recovered. I also think this government is quite capable of reiimposing exchange controls, which means that tourists, for example, would not be allowed to take more than a piddling amount of cash out of the UK. Of course, such a policy would not be announced in advance but imposed as an immediate measure. But it is a prospect to bear in mind. It is a bit academic in my case, but it is worth moving any spare cash you might have offshore, assuming you can do this without incurring a heavy charge. With what investments I do have, I tend to make sure that a fairly high proportion are in economies that are not heavily exposed to sterling. I am also a bit of a long-term dollar bear, given that the US also suffers from massive debt problems and that the dollar is also losing its reserve currency status, albeit slowly. I also favour commodity-backed currencies (the Australian dollar, for instance.)
Next year, I can qualify to get a Maltese passport, which, among other things, makes it easier for me to live in places such as Canada, apparently. I am going to look into this seriously. In the current environment, it pays to have a Plan B. I am lucky: as we don’t – yet – have kids, me and the missus will not have too great a trouble getting out, although I would contemplate it perhaps even more so if I did have children. I have worked abroad from time to time, so some of the logistics would not be a mystery to me. My only major reservation at the moment is that if I did move, I would not want to be too far from my parents, who haven’t been in the best of health lately and are not getting any younger.
UPDATE: Thanks for the feedback (well, most of it, anyway). First of all, my support for the freedom to migrate – as in the above instance – does not mean that I can expect to go where I like, or change the culture of the country to which I choose to live, or impose my values on such places. Which means that I do not dismiss the worries of those who have been concerned about, say, the influx of folk from very different cultures into the UK (ie, from the Muslim world). There is also the injustice, of course, of migrants taking up welfare benefits in the countries to which they enter – that clearly should stop. But such important caveats aside, as I have said, the freedom of exit is, if you think about it, the ultimate freedom as it protects other freedoms. If the situation becomes intolerable, it is glib for someone to argue that I am somehow “harming” my fellows who stay behind by leaving. If a state can ban or seriously hamper any individual from leaving a country of his birth, tht person is a serf.
One commenter by the name of Tim thinks my argument for leaving is somehow unprincipled as I will be causing, albeit in a tiny way, the very sort of problems (a falling pound, etc) that is bothering me in the first place. That argument does not convince. One might as well object to my refusing to use the services of a firm any longer because the firm will lose sales. Yet the firm, if it is run by intelligent people (big if) will react to the loss by trying to make itself more attractive. If a country is losing people and their departure is a “harm”, then surely that very fact is an incentive for countries to change course, to encourage people to enter that country rather than leave. Or take another analogy: socialists get upset by the idea of school choice because a school will be “harmed” if dissatisfied parents pull their kids out and send them somewhere else.