Greece became what it is today through the tireless efforts of Andreas Papandreou, the anti-Pinochet, who helped create a second Greek lost decade, ran up the national debt, raised the natural rate of unemployment, and kept inflation sky-high. Today, Greece, relative to the E.U. 15, is in the same place in RGDP per capita terms as it was in the early 1960s, before the economic boom under the Junta. Greek convergence with the rest of Europe ended in the late 1970s, and it actively fell behind in the 1980s. Clearly, as Andreas was the anti-Pinochet, blaming neoliberalism for the post-1980 economic stagnation in various countries (including Communist ones!) is simply being unconscionable.
– E. Harding, commenting here. The main article itself by Scott Sumner is also well worth reading.
William Hague got a terrible press at the time of his leadership of the Tory Party (no hair, Northern accent, etc etc). So he can be forgiven for a tinge of bitterness as he looks back and recalls his laser-accurate predictions in the 1990s over the follies of single, monopoly currencies such as the euro:
In future decades, in the very business school where I spoke in 1998, I believe students will sit down to study the folly of extending a single currency too far. Sad though it will be to see it, their textbook is likely to say that the Greek debacle of 2015 was not the end of the euro crisis, but its real beginning.
Meanwhile, China’s A-shares (mainland) equity market is tanking. It is arguably far more of a serious issue for the global economy than Greece, but you would not believe that judging by the brokerage notes I get at the moment.
There are many reasons for my diminished Samizdata productivity. For my friend Johnathan Pearce, it is pressure of work. With me, it has been more like laziness and cowardice. As I get older, I find that my desire to tell others what to think, although still vestigially strong, is now in decline. I find myself more and more interested simply in noticing or learning about how things are, and (increasingly) how they once were. If I tell others what they should think, they sometimes hit back with great vehemence about how I should dump what I think and think something different, and us oldies don’t enjoy even virtual fighting as much as we used to. I think what I think, you think what you think, and let’s just leave it at that, is my attitude, more and more. This doesn’t quite chime in with banging away here, day after day, about all the various and numerous people who are wrong on the internet. Faced with the choice between (a) getting back into the swing of posting stuff here, or (b) wandering about in London taking photographs of how things in London merely are (or are in the process of becoming), and writing about such things at my personal blog, I more and more choose the photoing and the personal blogging option.
I’m talking about photos like this one, which I took recently, of the Shard:
I posted this photo at my personal blog a week or more ago, and ruminated upon why I particularly liked the way the Shard had been looking that day.
But then came this comment, from a blogger in South Africa whose blog I like and who likes my blog, an expat from Sheffield who calls himself 6k:
I hope you have permission to take that wonderful photograph. Or rather, I hope you won’t need to have permission to take such wonderful photographs in future.
My first reaction was: Hey, 6k liked my photo! But I did also notice the next bit. What?!? Need permission?!? What is he talking about?!? What 6k was talking about can be found here, that being a link he helpfully supplied in his comment, immediately after the words quoted above.
→ Continue reading: On the future of photography in public (and on what I think of the EU)
1) Which side will win?
2) Which side should win?
…an uneasy alliance of former enemies, having marshalled massive forces and waged a skilful campaign involving unprecedented levels of deception, was victorious in its battle to keep Britain in the Common Market.
In a direct response to the mass murder of people at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last January, Norway has abolished its blasphemy laws. This is a development of sheer magnificence!
A couple of nights ago I went along to a local election hustings. This was a mistake.
The candidates from the mainstream parties seemed to be straight out of tranzi central casting – one of them, Vince Cable, is even a Cabinet Minister. To a man, woman, being of indeterminate sex they thought the EU and the UN were a good thing, that climate change was real and that Israel was to blame for the conflict in the Middle East. That last one brought the loudest cheer of the evening. One even claimed that Israel wasn’t a democracy. Two of them still managed to find merit in the Greenham Common protests.
I had been hoping for better from the UKIP guy. But no. Other than getting the UK out of the EU he was just the same even accepting climate change which he thought was due to overpopulation. This was especially disappointing given that his predecessor once stood on a manifesto calling for Britain to leave the EU and UN, and abolish the NHS and state education.
Just in case you were wondering, this nonsensical consensus (Mark Steyn uses the wonderful term “lunatic mainstream”) was not on display in a down-trodden, poverty-stricken part of the world where you might expect idiotic ideas to reign. It was in a prosperous, peaceful London suburb with a highly-educated population. Hey, it even has a phantom framer.
The economic collapse that at some point will engulf us all scares the living daylights out of me. But at the same time it seems to be the only way these delusional ideas are ever going to get swept away.
Another Angry Voice seems to be a bog-standard lefty-green blog bashing out mostly boring and predictable articles about how all the political parties are too right wing and if only proper lefties could get in power we could have an even bigger state and poor people would stop being wage slaves and… yawn. What bores me most is the obsession with rich vs. poor, when the real battle is state vs. individual, so it all misses the point and does not seem worth engaging with.
But some of his UKIP-bashing is doing the rounds on Facebook. And it is making me want to vote for UKIP even more.
According to AAV, UKIP are Thatcherite ex-tories, which just makes them sound like the proper Tories that the current lot are not, which is, if not ideal, an improvement.
In another article in which AAV is confused about the meaning of “tax avoidance” and “tax evasion”, he points out that “Farage declared that ‘straightforward’ tax avoidance isn’t ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ and that most tax-dodgers are only good-hearted people trying to rip off the rest of the taxpaying public for the good of their children!” Translation: Farage understands that of course people should not voluntarily hand over more tax than they are required to pay. I like Farage even more.
We also learn that UKIP MEP members do not bother to turn up to the European Parliament (why encourage them?), that Farage did not bother to engage with the EU on fish policies (let’s just ignore them and leave the EU), that they voted against clamping down on ivory trade (it makes more sense to legalise it) and that they have not voted in favour of taxing foreigners for some imagined benefits to the UK.
Finally, we learn that the Green Party is the only other route out of the EU, but unlike UKIP, they will not give us any “neoliberal orthodoxy of privatisation, deregulation, tax cuts”.
That seals the deal, then.
Addendum: In unrelated news, my current favourite computer game has been labelled Thatcherite by an idiot. I should read these kinds of bloggers more to discover more good things that they hate.
UKIP have just issued 100 days till the election, 100 reasons to vote UKIP. Some of it is good:
1. Get Britain out of the European Union
6. Cutting £9bn from our foreign aid budget
20. Scrapping the poorly planned HS2 project, saving up to £50bn
31. Withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights
34. No votes for prisoners
42. Opposing plain packs for cigarettes, which has had no impact where trialled
55. Scrapping the arbitrary 50% target for university attendance
68. Stopping the sale of patient data to big business
78. Repealing the Climate Change Act 2008 which costs the economy £18n per year
82. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy
Some of it is bad:
2. Get control of immigration with an Australian-style, points-based immigration system
3. £3bn more, annually, into our NHS which desperately needs it
4. Scrap tuition fees for students studying Science, Tech, Engineering, Maths, or Medical degrees
21. Opposing tolls on public roads – we’ve already paid for them
25. Protecting our green belt
87. Scrapping the Bedroom Tax
Some of it is “meh”:
11. Ending PFI privatisation of the NHS, proliferated by Labour and the Tories
13. Establishing a Veteran’s Administration to look after those who looked after us
49. Reoccupying our seat at the World Trade Organisation
58. Guaranteeing a job in the police, prison, or border forces for anyone who has served 12 years in the Armed Forces
95. Emphasising the immediate need to utilise forgotten British infrastructure like Manston Airport
And some it I shouldn’t like but do:
7. Give the people the ability to “recall” their MPs, without parliamentary or MP approval
10. Allowing existing schools to become grammar schools
15. Overcoming the unfairness of MPs from devolved nations voting on English laws
Disturbingly there is nothing on the debt, deficit, money or gold. But at least some of it is good. Can you say the same for any of the other parties? Come to think of it, I think the Greens would still re-legalise cannabis.
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?