This is a lovely couple of paragraphs by Tim Worstall at the expense of that hardline opponent of global free capital movements, and socialist, Richard Murphy:
The major driver in growth is that two thirds of humanity are moving from 16th century peasant destitution to the 20th century petit bourgeois pleasures of three meals a day. As long as no one fucks that up with a Courageous State we can expect the global economy to expand 8 to 10 times in the 21st century just as it did in the 20th.
We do, after all, have a very large intergovernmental commission looking at these sorts of things for us. The IPCC it’s called. And such economic growth is actually one of their starting assumptions. No, really. so who are you going to believe? A retired accountant from Wandsworth or the scientific consensus?
When a blogger refers to a pit of bias and political intrigue like the IPCC to make a point against an attacker of low taxes and tax havens such as Murphy, it is really the end of the road.
“As we mourn the passing of a remarkable Prime Minister, we should reflect on the lessons we can learn from Lady Thatcher. She showed courage, conviction, determination and placed great faith in the wisdom of ordinary men and women. We should celebrate her legacy, but also consider how to emulate her today.”
- Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. That think tank has played a legendary role in developing some of the ideas that influenced Margaret Thatcher, whose funeral was held today. RIP, Maggie.
I wonder how many of those on what is broadly “the left”, who are crying crocodile tears over the fate of coalminers who lost their jobs from unprofitable, subsidised mines in the 1980s, are the same people who want, in the name of global warming alarmism, to shut down profitable mines today? It would be good to ask the current crop of Labour MPs, LibDems and Cameroonian Tories as to whether they think it right to repeal the UK’s various climate change measures that have, among other things, led to the recent closure of UK coal-fired power stations.
Of course, such a question reminds me, when thinking of the nonsense about that has been spouted since the death of Margaret Thatcher, of how illogical and hypocritical people, both politicians, and voters, are on such matters. Not a comforting thought. But I guess it is hardly something that is confined to the UK.
As the editor of CityAM points out, getting the narrative right is essential. The Left is great at understanding this, whereas classical liberals/libertarians have tended not to be, although part of it comes down to numbers of people. That is why it is essential, in my view, for people who want to push the tide of affairs in a better direction to break into the MSM, as well as keep pushing new channels of media in the internet age.
With that thought of narratives in mind, it seems to me vital to keep pushing back at the idea that 2008 was caused by “unregulated capitalism”. It is utter nonsense. And the “Austrian” school is the best place to go in figuring this out:
Austrian economists were among the main critics of the pre-2007 economy and financial system – there, were, of course, critics from other backgrounds too – warning of the absurd monetary policies being pursued by central banks, of the moral hazard from the authorities’ interventions, and of the hubris inherent in many mathematical financial models. Neo-Hayekians criticised Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke long before it became fashionable to do so, blaming them for the dot.com and housing bubbles. Austrians were aghast at the bailouts.
Hayekian ideas form the basis for an alternative intellectual framework being developed by a record number of scholars, especially in eastern Europe, the US, Latin America and even China. They are looking at ways in which market institutions can be harnessed to prevent another crisis, tackle the environment and find better ways of providing welfare, education and health. Politics is in a deeply statist phase. Eventually, however, the tide will turn, and Thatcher’s guru will be celebrated once again.
Heath is right – we are in a statist phase right now, not just in the UK. Perhaps the turning point may come from a country that hasn’t been considered. Maybe, for example, one of the continental European nations takes a dramatic turn towards sanity, although at present the odds look low on that. I still think Asia is going to be where the impetus will come from. Consider what might happen if China, India or, say, Indonesia adopts a gold-backed currency and other radical reforms. If Asian policymakers quote Hayek and Mises more than, say, Keynes or Krugman.
Hong Kong’s example of vibrant, laissez faire success eventually changed the mainland of China. Could Asia eventually force the old West to change course and come to its senses?
Theodore Dalrymple, the doctor and essayist, is always well worth reading and this item about Mrs Thatcher (oh no not again! ed) is particularly insightful, and fair, if a touch arch in tone. He points out her flaws on domestic policy, such as an obsession with certain targets as well as the strengths. But his essay is not without its own flaws. Here is a key paragraph, which starts well, but ends with a bum note:
“Her error in part was to have failed to recognize the change in the character of the British people. She imagined them as they were in pre-war Grantham, the small Lincolnshire town where she was born: honest, prudent, modest, striving, thrifty, virtuous, duty-bound and patriotic. The intervening years, however, had changed their character; they, or many of them, had become very nearly the opposite of all those things. And she increased their dishonesty further by a small reform that corrupted the legal profession and the population alike: she permitted lawyers to advertise, which they had never been permitted to do before. The law now stifles everything from thought and speech to law enforcement and economic enterprise.”
It seems nanny-statist to imagine that solicitors should not be allowed to advertise their services to the public. To be blunt, he’s arguing for censorship of a profession in terms of its ability to put forward its services. An absurdity. It is not much of a stretch to imagine that any supposedly important profession/trade should also be banned from the grubby business of making itself known to the public, lest the weak-minded public be led astray into bad habits. This is the sort of paternalistic approach that Mrs T. rightly pushed back against. If it encourages the odd frivolous lawsuit, well, freedom has its costs.
Solicitors soliciting for business. Fancy that.
Philip Booth, of the Institute of Economic Affairs (peace be upon him), has this excellent article about the mix of reforms enacted in the 1980s, which have come in for some criticism from those who claim it contributed to the late unpleasantness in 2008. He refers, in particular, to the “Big Bang” reform changes to the City of London.
So, two things are clear when it comes to Thatcher’s legacy. In many respects she increased regulation of the financial sector in ways previous governments had not considered. Secondly, the most important feature of the Big Bang was that it took regulatory responsibility away from the markets and gave it to the state. In this area Thatcher was a pragmatist, not an unalloyed free market supporter. If these policies led to the crisis, those on the left have some thinking to do.
As always, whether looking at the Cold War, or financial crisis of 2008, or other issues, it is crucial to see how certain groups are trying to “shape the narrative”. The reactions to the death of Mrs T. are a textbook example of how these sort of things play out. Someone should make a film about it.
From the Daily Mail website:
Unemployed Julian Styles, 58, who was made redundant from his factory job in 1984, said: ‘I’ve been waiting for that witch to die for 30 years. `Tonight is party time. I’m drinking one drink for every year I’ve been out of work.’”
The article, which chronicles the outbreaks of violence and antics of – mostly – young people following the death of Margaret Thatcher, does not inform us as to whether Mr Styles has been permanently out of work since 1984, a period of 29 years. It may be that he has worked for periods, no doubt adding his magnificent skills, charm and knowledge to the global economy. On the other hand, I suppose it is possible that this individual has spent the last, entire 29-year period living off the benefits provided by fellow taxpayers. I hope he has managed to cope. He sounds as if he certainly will be able to drown his sorrows with plenty of drink.
Forgive my sarcastic tone, but while I certainly do sympathise with anyone made redundant – I have been through that experience and I know what it feels like – it seems to be stretching one’s natural compassion to the limit to feel much sympathy for a person who might have been out of work, or at least some form of productive activity, for almost three decades, even while remaining an able-bodied citizen. (The article does not say if he is disabled.)
Among the many things that the late Margaret Thatcher strived against was what she thought of as an “entitlement mentality”: the idea that we are, simply by virtue of being alive, entitled to coerce our fellow man into providing us with things or services. The assertion of such “rights” is impossible without stipulating that others have some duty to provide these things. But how much of a right does one have? To one job? To a permanent job? A highly paid one? A moderately paid one? In your home town? Globally?
To pose such questions is to cut to the heart of the incoherence and contradictory nature of such bogus “rights”. A right is, by definition, an assertion that one has a personal space that cannot be invaded, which is why property rights are an essential component of the idea, and why socialist “rights” are a hopeless muddle. I suppose all this philosophy might be a bit of a stretch for this ex-coal miner and his fellows, but it might be nice to think that in contemplating some of the sentiments of recent days, one might also reflect on the principles that are highlighted by Margaret Thatcher’s 11 momentous years in power.
“In 1978, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt declared: “England is no longer a developed country.” Just as Spain had, in its decline from Empire, ceased to be part of the developed world, and Argentina followed in the mid-twentieth century, many expected that Britain would go the same way.”
- Andrew Lilico.
Of course, in 1979, when I was a mere 13-year-old Suffolk farmer’s son, some blonde lady by the name of Maggie changed Herr Schmidt’s assessment rather drastically. And by the way, since one of the urban myths is how Mrs Thatcher destroyed our manufacturing while Germany encouraged its own, ponder the fact that the value of manufacturing output in this country has scarcely been higher. I just thought I should mention that as part of a daily service.
The basic moral issue, however, is that no one has a right to other people’s wealth. Need – even the genuine need of someone suffering through no fault of his own – is not a license to steal. In Ayn Rand’s words `misfortune is not a claim to slave labor; there is no such thing as the right to consume, control, and destroy those without whom one would be unable to survive.’ Does that sound harsh? Consider your own case: Would you regard your hardships as a claim on your neighbor’s paycheck? would you march into his house waving your need around like a gun and helping yourself to his food or his medicine cabinet? Would you think very much of a neighbor who did that to you?
- Free Market Revolution, by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins, page 188-189.
There has been a lot of commentary in the general news recently about Bitcoin, the digital currency that its creators and users hope will have the same, inelastic qualities ascribed to such things as gold. At a time when mainstream, fiat money has seen its value trashed in certain cases by central banks’ money-printing policies, it is easy to see the attractions.
But what the hell is Bitcoin? How does it work? And what do free marketeers of an “Austrian” bent make of it? Well, here is an essay by Jeffrey A Tucker, which I think is well worth reading.
Bitcoin is certainly making the news at the moment, judging by some very sharp market movements over the past day or so. Even if it turns out not to be quite as successful as hoped, if it sparks off more thinking about alternatives to government funny-money, that has to be a good thing.
A Bitcoin hedge fund has been set up in Malta. I am actually going down to Malta in May for a few days – perhaps I’ll look up the managers there to find out more.
“Money, when paid into a bank, ceases altogether to be the money of the principal; it is then the money of the banker, who is bound to an equivalent by paying a similar sum to that deposited with him when he is asked for it…The money placed in the custody of a banker is, to all intents and purposes, the money of the banker, to do with it as he pleases; he is guilty of no breach of trust in employing it; he is not answerable to the principal if he puts it into jeopardy, if he engages in hazardous speculation; he is not bound to keep it or deal with it as the property of his principal; but he is, of course, answerable for the amount, because he has contracted.”
Detlev Schlichter, quoting a 19th Century ruling about the status of bank deposits in the UK. It is, in fact, a sobering thought that many members of the general public might not be fully aware of what actually happens to their deposits, and be aware that to all intents and purposes, they do not “own” their deposits.
Let’s just say that for a lot of people, the Cyprus episode has been a learning experience about the fundamental nature of what banks, today, actually are and do.
“I want a “leave me alone” society — one where Christian schools can turn people away for rejecting their doctrine, just as gay rights groups can reject those who don’t share their beliefs. I don’t want us all to get along — not because I’m misanthropic (well, not just because I’m misanthropic), but because I know that “consensus” is usually a fancy word for muting minority viewpoints. I want us all to be free to be annoyed with each other from our separate corners. Is that too much to ask?”
- Troy Senik
He’s writing about Michael Bloomberg, who is up there with Hugh Grant and George Galloway in my current “rogues’ gallery”. Competition for membership of the gallery is proving quite competitive at the moment.