Andy Janes has just bought one of these:
He paid £1.70. Not bad. But how many pounds will such a thing cost in a few years time?
Have a nice weekend.
Andy Janes has just bought one of these:
He paid £1.70. Not bad. But how many pounds will such a thing cost in a few years time?
Have a nice weekend.
Following on from Perry’s post immediately below this one, I see that Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines), has, by his standards, a pretty long, and more significantly, very strongly worded item pointing to all the various links between the late, unlamented Labour government, and the equally unlamented Libyan dictator. I wonder how Tony Blair regrets that photo of him shaking hands with Gaddaffi?
Maybe not. Maybe, Blair might argue, that yes, the guy was and is a bastard, but he came clean about his own WMD programmes in 2003 after Saddam was toppled and to that limited extent, it was right for the West to “reward” those countries run by people who had shown some signs of seeing sense. But the trouble with this sort of realpolitik is that it requires a country like Britain to turn a sort of Nelsonian blind eye to the manifest wickedness of a regime and its past. And let’s not be partisan here: the same calculations have been taken by rightwing administrations as well. Such statecraft is an ugly business, and not a place for high-falutin sanctimony. That said, the deal to release the guy blamed for the Lockerbie massacre, only to see how this release was treated by the Libyan authorities, stank to high heaven. It also unnecessarily has damaged relations between the UK and US.
As for what happens next, I haven’t the foggiest idea.
Praveen Swami, diplomatic editor of the Daily Telegraph, has a good piece – although I might quibble on one or two points – concerning the problem of Somali piracy, about which I have written several times here at Samizdata. I am not going to add further comment to what I have already said, but I was impressed by this article and a longish comment attached to it by a person with the signature of “IgonikonJack”. It is pretty good. And another, by “itzman”, refers to the issue of “letters of marque”.
A related point is that I have been reading Wired for War, by PW Singer, and it has fascinating things to say about some remarkable new technologies as apply not just in areas such as robotics and pilotless aircraft – those “drones” – also in the innovations now under way in the nautical world. They will surely play a part in any move to suppress piracy, but as Singer points out, the bad guys can increasingly get their hands on technology as well, and often by entirely legitimate means. This is all the more reason why libertarians, who are sometimes at the cutting edge of thinking about alternatives to government-imposed laws, as in the case of legal writer Bruce Benson, should get involved in how to address issues such as piracy.
In the Daily Telegraph article I link to, is the fact that, at the time of writing, more than 1,000 people are being held hostage by Somali pirates. If the same amount of people had been taken hostage on civil airliners, say, I think the major powers of the world might have adopted a more robust view by now.
Others have been complaining about how long it has taken, but I have been surprised at the speed with which the West has responded to events in Libya, and have been unable to shake the feeling, until today actually, that the reports I was reading were send-ups for comic purposes of some kind.
I am an agnostic about Western intervention in foreign parts rather than an outright atheist, but I respect the atheist position and deeply fear the true believer, “nation building” idea. Governments are good at destroying stuff, but tend to be shambolic at any kind of creativity. The more creative they try to be, the more destructive they typically end up being. People do creative, not governments.
This operation seems to be mostly destructive, which is all to the good. I think it reasonable to hope that it accomplishes some good, rather than only fearful that it will all go horribly wrong.
The West’s leaders are telling Gadaffi that maybe he can rule his country, but not the way he has been for the last fortnight or so. Bombing it and shelling it into submission is not allowed. Do that and we’ll do the same to you. Govern your country with riot police. Maybe arrange some elections, and then fix them. Bribe people into supporting you, rather than just killing them like they are armed soldiers. Above all, and now I’m going by what David Cameron said this afternoon, don’t announce ceasefires and promise them to your fellow members of the Head of Government Club, but then not deliver them.
This was one of the big things that Saddam Hussein did wrong, as I understand that earlier story. He didn’t just invade Kuwait. He told other members of the Head of Government Club that he wouldn’t. Lying to your people is okay. They all do that. That’s business as usual. But lying to fellow members of the Head of Government Club is not the done thing. Do it and you get blackballed, by which is meant that your armed underlings, the basis of your power, get slaughtered. Provided, that is, you are not bossing a serious power, and Westerners slaughtering your underlings would start a serious war, as opposed to an “asymmetric” war (i.e. a slaughter of your slaughterers).
LOL!!!: Just watched a British military talking-head-in-a-suit on the BBC, when asked to say what success for this operation would mean, say: “removing Saddam”, and then hurriedly correct himself.
Some people may remember Natalie Solent writing a post on Samizdata about statist developments in Kenya (a post inspired by a BBC report – of all things).
Predictably a from-central-casting leftist commenter turned up – accusing Natalie Solent (and even nice, gentle, fluffy me) of lies, ignorance…
Well Glenn Beck has actually read the new Kenyan Constitution, passed last week (even I could think of better things to do than read the small print of the new Kenyan Constitution – for example pluck out some of my nose hairs, so if Glenn wants to use his failing eyes to read the thing for the rest us…) and he read out sections of it on Monday, live on his show.
There is a list of “positive” rights (i.e. nice things the government must do for you) – wild promises of health, education, and so on. The idea that these can be afforded even in a developed economy (in the long term) is problematic – as for in an economy like Kenya, the idea is absurd.
Also (as even the Economist magazine admitted – although, of course, it supported the new Constitution) large areas of what are presently privately owned land can now be taken by the government.
Lastly – we have an interesting definition of “freedom of speech” (the very thing that Natalie was pointing to) . “Hate speech” is excluded from “free speech” protection – and hate speech is defined as an attack on a group, or an individual (which just about covers everything one might use a right to free speech to do). I am sure that Frank Lloyd (President Barack Obama’s “Diversity” Commissar at the Federal Communications Commission) would love to introduce such a Constitution in the United States (no naughty Fox News, or talk radio or internet to upset him any more), Kenya may even replace the Venezuela of President Chevez as his favourite country.
Although there are no explicit use of words like “Marxism”, the style in which the Kenyan Constitution is written (and a lot of the content – see above) is very much like the old Soviet Constitution – not a nasty, negative, set of limitations on government power like the United States Constitution.
Almost needless to say Comrade Barack Obama spent a lot of money making sure the new Kenyan Constitution was passed – although Glenn Beck did not mention that point. Although Glenn did mention that this sort of Constitution was the “Dream” of Barack Obama’s Marxist pro Soviet father (not to be confused with his Marxist mother or socialist maternal grandparents, or his Marxist childhood mentor Frank Marshall Davis, or his fellow Marxists in New York whilst a post grad, or the Marxists he worked with for his whole adult life in Chicago, or his Marxist Liberation Theology Minister for twenty years Rev. J. Wright or…), as made clear (if one reads carefully) in Barack Obama’s own first book “Dreams…”
A friend of mine has looked into the Kenyan constitution – I hope I do not have to read it (i.e. I am forced to when some moron, or paid hack, comes along and say it is a wonderful example of truly limited government), from the sound of even this bit it seems like the Constitutional document equivalent of a snuff film.
His initial comments were:
No wonder the Economist magazine supported it (no I am not saying they are Marxists – they are just whores who always try and get into bed with the powerful) and Comrade Barack spent American tax money to make sure it passed.
The BBC reports, utterly uncritically, “Kenya launches text service to stop hate speech”
Respond how, exactly? Do they mean issue a statement rebutting the hateful arguments, or do they mean arrest someone?
Because of a commendable reluctance to criminalise speech? Apparently not:
I would be interested to know who these foreign donors were, and whether they were individuals or organisations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the EU helping Africa to try out systems to control free speech that it would like to introduce in Europe – but this is pure speculation on my part.
It could be that this initiative is being misreported, and that a fashionable concern with “hate speech” has been semi-randomly stuck on the label of what is actually a police hotline for people to report mobs gathering or incitement to specific criminal acts.
I hope so. Yes, I do know that Kenya has suffered severe violence after past elections. No, I do not want a repeat of this. But telling informers that their denunciations will be acted upon within twelve hours is not the way to promote civil society. It does not even succeed in reducing violence. The delator and the mob thrived together in ancient Rome.
Some days ago I went via Instapundit to an article about how the surge of Pentecostalism in Africa may help America in the War on Terror, and from there to this Pew Forum article on the global rise of Christianity, especially in Africa. Very much especially in Africa.
It may even be beating Islam.
I would guess I am a lot happier about Africa’s emerging Age of Faith (in its Christian variety at least; I fear Islam) than most of you reading this post. Yet I cannot repress a sense of disquiet when I remember that there are more people in Africa who think the freeing of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga a bad thing than think it a good thing. If there is a similar case next year the margin will probably be larger; and eventually that will change what happens. Western pressure will no longer work. Indeed, the boot may be on the other foot: the Pew article also says that there are already something like 2,000 Christian missionaries from Asia and Africa at work in Great Britain. Hard work at the moment, but that could change. Most people in the West assume that religion must inevitably decline as the world becomes richer and better educated. I tend to assume, gloomily, that its decline proceeds as the world embraces state welfare. But even the tide on Dover beach turns some day.
I do rejoice for my African brothers and sisters and my political fears may not come to pass. A fervent Christianity can be and has been a force for political freedom. Vile, cruel and hypocritical as the history of the United States is, it is slightly less vile, cruel and hypocritical than that of most nations – they never quite forgot that the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower were Puritans fleeing persecution rather than instituting it.
Even the teetering balance between Christianity and Islam might do for Africa what the teetering balance between Protestantism and Catholicism did for Europe: let secularism sneak in as the second best option for all sides.
Or we might do a great deal worse. The other rising tide in the world is that of the global progressive elite, the Tranzis. For the first time in human history there is no technological obstacle to a world government. That I have long feared but now a new fear joins it. Barefoot religion meets the bureaucratic, unitary state, how does that work?
Perhaps, led by Africa, we are moving towards something like the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace.
I confess I have done no more than skim this paper by Maxim Pinkovskiy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Xavier Sala”i”Martin of Columbia University and NBER. I will have a go at reading it properly later. I got the link from Tim Worstall, who gets distracted from “ragging on Ritchie” into a rather moving defence of his belief that capitalism is the system that actually works when it comes to lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
I liked the title. I liked it so much I think I will type it out again.
African Poverty is Falling… Much Faster than You Think!
While reading this article, I could not shake the feeling that I was really reading a piece of libertarian science fiction. Could they really have done anything so very sensible, and could things really be improving so definitely? The piece does appear to be genuine, so far as I can tell, but if it turns out to be fantasy-fiction, this paragraph will get me off the credulity hook. File under maybe true but maybe too good to be true.
Meanwhile, if the piece really is true, the best bit of all in it is that there is now no “lender of last resort” in Zimbabwe. Could it be that libertarian economic policy – in particular libertarian banking policy – is about to get a serious test, which it will pass, and hence another serious showcase, highly pertinent given the world’s current banking woes, to educate the world with? How will socialism and state-centralism get the credit for that I wonder?
If genuine, this piece reminds me of a vivid British recollection from way back. Someone on the telly asked a City commentator, just after Black Wednesday (the day in 1992 when John Major’s economic policies collapsed in ruins), what the prospects were now for the British economy. Well, he said, now that the government has not got a policy, rather good.
The late Peter (Lord) Bauer, a Hungarian-born economist who lived for much of his life in the UK, did outstanding work in demonstrating why markets and trade are superior to overseas aid, and pointed out how aid, and the organisations that often get involved in delivering it, frequently make problems of poverty worse, not better. Even aid advocates like Sir Bob Geldof will readily concede, meanwhile, that aid delivery becomes next to impossible during conditions of war, and when countries are under the rule of armed thugs. So last night’s Channel 4 programme on Somalia will have surprised few regulars at this blog.
What was interesting was how local traders were allegedly bribing some aid officials to take sacks of food and then sell it into the market. We were meant to be appalled by this, and part of me was. But also I also could not ignore the fact that this part of Africa seems to be buzzing with a sort of entrepreneurial class of men – one did not see many women – who trade in, and take great efforts to obtain, food and other stuff. That surely suggests that a market, of sorts, works in this part of the world. But what clearly does not work is the rule of law, or the enforcement of property rights. Without due protection for the latter, in particular, then the indestructible desire to “truck and barter” can all too easily degrade into a form of banditry. But let’s be clear here: while one can be nauseated at foreign aid being filched by some of the locals, that desire to trade is not, in itself, the problem. It is, in fact, part of the solution to the poverty of Africa.
Meanwhile, I strongly recommend William Easterly’s book on foreign aid and the mistakes that well-intentioned folk make about aid.
General Edmond Rasolomahandry . . . President Marc Ravalomanana . . . opposition leader Andry Rajoelina . . . Colonel Noel Ndriarijoana: newsreaders everywhere are praying for a swift resolution to the crisis.
- Mick Hartley notes the possibility of civil war in Madagascar
While I salute the captain and crew of the Zhenua 4, I cannot help thinking that guns might have been more convenient. What, exactly, is the difficulty over providing them?
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