Of all the legion of bad outcomes that result from political ambition, the most striking of our times is surely the euro, an unashamedly political project bolted on to sovereign European nations of long and proud competing traditions in the hope of making them more like the United States, at least in terms of economic prowess.
– Jeremy Warner.
“Greece versus Europe: who will blink first?” asks the Telegraph. I care not who blinks, or who wins this contest of braggarts. All that matters is that for Greece to be ejected from the Euro would be good for Greece, good for Germany, and a good example for all the peoples of Europe yoked together in this vainglorious folly. Go on Germany, give that Marxist fool Alexis Tsipras a demonstration that your gullibility is not endless. Go on Greece, plough your own furrow and while you are at it give the Eurocrats a demonstration that their most public and cherished commitments can fail. Remember “Black Wednesday”? Far from being a disaster for Britain, that was the day its fortunes began to recover.
In a Reuters article titled British EU exit debate scaring off investment – Hermes funds I hit a line that made me go: say what?
Political rhetoric raising the possibility that Britain may leave the European Union could already be deterring foreign investment and harming London’s financial services industry, a top UK investor said (…) Another effect could be to weaken the allure of the City of London as a base for international financial systems with rival banking and investment hubs New York, Singapore and Zurich likely to benefit.
I was particularly struck by “and Zurich”. So Zurich, also in Europe but not in the EU, will benefit if London is not in the EU? Really?
The EU sticks us with a bill. Ministers double it, apply the rebate, return to the original figure and claim victory. We’re meant to cheer?
– Daniel Hannan MEP
Found on and duly pilfered from Raedwald
“Google obviously has a monopoly in search. There are all sorts of questions about whether it is abusing that monopoly or not. But I distrust the power of the EU regulators to make things better. I think the technology industry is dynamic enough that the Google monopoly will not last for ever. In practice, anything [the EU does] to micromanage the Google product will produce a cure that’s worse than the disease.”
– Peter Thiel (quote is taken from the Financial Times, which is behind a registration wall).
Vladimir Putin has warned the Ukrainian government against getting closer to the EU, threatening their access to Russian markets.
So the Ukraine has to decide between losing their access to 142 million Russians with a total GDP of $2.1 trillion (official), or improving their access to 511 million people with a total GDP of $16.95 trillion (official).
Hmm, yes I can see how that might be a difficult decision
“Consumer will get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”
As regards power, the maximum allowed input power will be reduced: from 1600 Watt in 1 September 2014, to 900 Watt in September 2017. The current average on the market is about 1800 Watt.
One additional measure helping to tackle climate change
The new rules will save 19 terawatt-hour per year by 2020, which is the electricity produced by more than 4 power plants or consumed by 5.5 million households.
Of course, measures on vacuum cleaners alone will not tackle climate change. However, if we consider all products together for which minimum efficiency requirements exist in the EU, the overall savings achieve up to a third of the EU’s energy saving target for 2020.
ADDED LATER: Commenter “Vinegar Joe” has pointed out that this is a perfect example of producer capture. “This policy was lobbied for by Dyson, who will be less adversely affected by it than their competition.” In this document Dyson appears to boast that the new EU law was a result of their lobbying. Under the heading “Legislation”, it reads:
“Dyson has always shown that through efficient engineering, high performance can be achieved with low power – and we’re trying to encourage others to do the same. We have successfully lobbied the European Union to introduce a cap on the size of vacuum motors from 2014. The estimated energy savings from the EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling measures for vacuum cleaners amount to 19 Terawatt hours of electricity per year by estimated 8 million tons of CO2e.”
I love that jolly “we’re trying to encourage others to do the same”. For “encourage”, read “force”.
Dyson appears to be attempting to play both sides. In this Guardian article it says that despite supporting the rule in principle, Dyson is seeking a judicial review of some aspects at the ECJ. While I’d like to think that was them being hoist by their own petard, I suspect that the real result will be some more fine-tuning of the regulations to more perfectly fit Dyson’s own requirements. The only thing that will stop me starting a lifetime boycott of Dyson products now is evidence that rival manufacturers were at it too.
By the way, does anyone remember this extremely unpopular policy being in the manifesto of any political party for which one could vote at either national or EU elections?
Perhaps I would not go quite so far as the Russian revolutionary Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky in regarding with delight any failure to reform the old regime on the grounds that more misery for the poor brings forward the day of revolution.
But I am rather pleased that “arch federalist” Jean-Claude Juncker is to be the next president of the European Commission. Though it is not his fault, even the man’s name rankles.
This is now several weeks’ old and I fear that coverage of this issue could fade in the usual 24/7 news cycle, but it deserves to be kept in public view, hopefully continuing to raise a stink. I am talking about a recent European Court of Justice ruling regarding whether a person/institution can demand that an online outfit such as Google can be made to remove material about said person/institution that is damaging, sensitive or highly personal. People are talking about the “right to be forgotten”. Note that the information doesn’t need to be libellous. Even if it is embarrassing but clearly true, a website can be required to remove it. This means that certain organisations and people – and you can think of the sort I mean – have an open opportunity to remove items about themselves that they dislike. It is a monstrous interference with freedom of speech and demonstrates just how badly Europe misses any sort of First Amendment protection of free speech (although as I pointed out the other day, even the US these days has defaulted).
There doesn’t appear to be a lot of anger about this from the media as a whole – there hasn’t been the kind of reaction that attended the Leveson Report, for example. It is easy for some faux civil libertarians to say, perhaps, that the ruling affects nasty, big – usually American – firms such as Google, but that supposition is foolish. Anyone with a website carrying information that someone might object to might face this problem. As for journalists trying to track down information about people and using online channels, this is a very damaging step. It stinks.
There are lots of reasons for objecting to how Europe is currently run and I want out of the EU, although unlike some of those who want to quit, want to do so for pro-freedom reasons, not due to nationalism or terror about immigrants. I have no illusions, of course, about national courts and parliaments in that they can be just as moronic in trying to oppress freedom of speech as a supranational one. We tend to forget that point. But national stupidity can be easier to circumvent than transnational stupidity. Anyone who takes civil liberties and freedom of speech issues seriously ought, in my judgement, to want to see the entire European superstate edifice crumble into dust. It won’t end assaults on freedom, but it will make such assaults less difficult to escape.
I thought Nigel Farage trounced Nick Clegg in the second of the two televised debates about Europe a few weeks ago. When he sticks to that subject, he’s an excellent proponent of the argument. But when he brings Romanians into it, when he smears an entire nation to make the case against immigration, he’s clearly doing the cause more harm than good. You can sense more moderate voters recoiling every time he strays into this territory. It’s as if the Ukip leader is confirming the caricature of Euroscepticism that the BBC, the FT, the Independent and the Guardian have been trying to paint for the past 30 years – the Eurosceptic as swivel-eyed loon, as Little Englander, as closet racist. People like me have always claimed that’s a straw man. But Nigel Farage is that straw man.
– Toby Young
There are other examples I can think of where a good argument – such as leaving a bureaucratic superstate – can be spoiled if those who argue for it seem to be, well, just not very pleasant people. Yes I know, one should not be distracted by that sort of shallow thing, etc, etc. The last few weeks I have heard a lot of stuff from UKIP fans about how, no matter how bloody ghastly many UKIP people are, and how crummy some of its views are, that it is still a force for good, pushing debate, etc. The trouble is that I think it does matter, a lot, if people form associations in their minds about a group and if that group helps to reinforce that association. In my view, Farage’s focus on what he claims are the negative effects of immigration, and his invocation of the idea that foreigners are taking “our” jobs etc (the lump of labour fallacy) has done damage. He should have been far more optimistic and positive about why leaving the EU is a good thing, rather than confirm the biases of those who all too easily dismiss the anti-EU case as being narrow and stupid. A shame.
“A candidate in the European elections was arrested on suspicion of racial harrassment after quoting a passage about Islam, written by Winston Churchill, during a campaign speech,” reports the Daily Mail. “Paul Weston, chairman of the party Liberty GB, made the address on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, in Hampshire on Saturday. A member of the public took offence at the quote, taken from Churchill’s The River War and called police.”
Here is a link to the Mail‘s story: Arrested for quoting Winston Churchill: European election candidate accused of religious and racial harassment after he repeats wartime prime minister’s words on Islam during campaign speech.
I note that the Daily Mail had the guts to quote the Churchill passage in full but not to enable comments, whereas (opposing candidate) Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph has the guts to enable comments but not to quote the passage.
Comments to my post are enabled and the passage is below:
‘How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries,’ wrote Churchill.
‘Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.
‘The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.
‘A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.
‘The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.
‘Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.
‘No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.’
I wish I could claim that by both quoting the passage and enabling comments I have demonstrated political courage. I haven’t. Might I too not be arrested? I won’t be. At the moment that is not the way the process works. Mr Weston has been arrested but I doubt very much that he will ever brought to trial. Trials can so easily go wrong. In fact I suspect that he will – eventually – be in receipt of an apology and compensation for wrongful imprisonment, as was the Christian street preacher John Craven after his arrest under the Public Order Act 1986.
Mr Craven got £13,000 compensation. According to the Huffington Post article about him linked to above, “The total cost for Greater Manchester Police, including both parties’ legal bills, will be over £50,000.”. It is not clear to me whether the latter sum includes the former, but we can safely say that the total cost of arresting a man in violation of his right to free speech seems to be around £50k – £65k.
That’s peanuts for a government – and yet, the whip broke skin. The point was made. All saw, this is what happens. Cheap at the price.