Free Markets, Free People

Britain


Will we learn from Britain and France?

One of the more frustrating things I observe is our apparent unwillingness, as a country, to learn from the mistakes of other countries.  For instance, we’ve watched the effects of the welfare state in Europe and its fiscal impact, yet we continue down the same road toward the same cliff they’re now getting ready to go over.

More specifically, we’ve watched other countries raise taxes higher and higher and subsequently watched them lose their native talent.  France is in the process of doing that now.  And Britain?  Well, they’ve been suffering from it for a while:

Nick de Bois, secretary of the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs, said that Britain needs a “culture change” to stem the flow of talented emigrants by encouraging success.

“Our most economically active are leaving to apply their talents elsewhere,” the MP said, warning that talented Britons are being lured away to “growth economies” elsewhere in the world.

Office for National Statistics figures obtained by Mr de Bois show that in the ten years to 2011, a total of 3,599,000 people permanently left the UK.

Contrary to the perception of the typical emigrants being older people retiring to a life in the sun, the figures show that 1,963,000 of those who left were aged between 25 and 44.

By contrast, only 125,000 people of retirement age emigrated.

Note what is “luring” them away?  “Growth economies“.  And what does one usually find is anything labeled a “growth economy”?  Economic opportunity.  A chance to better your own situation without being punished and vilified for doing so.  You’d think that might be something our “leaders” would understand and appreciate.

But it’s about culture, isn’t it?  About the culture our leadership fosters.  And that culture in this country is “class warfare”:

“Government must help lead a culture change in this country that competes with the new economies, one where competitiveness and success are valued and personal achievement and personal wealth are respected, not pilloried,” he said.

That’s not at all where this particular government is headed, is it?
And the result?  Human Nature 101.  See Britain.

~McQ


A vertical invasion of barbarians

Children are widely believed to be a blessing, and I suppose, in many ways, they are. But children are also a problem, in that each new generation of kids is a vertical invasion of barbarians. They have to be taught the details of how to behave in civilized society, to be instructed in its standards and norms. Moreover, those norms must be enforced, and violators must face the appropriate penalties for violating those norms.  Doing all of this is an important charge, and you fail in it at your peril. Because, as the London riots show, the result of that failure is this:

The first line of defence against crime, the justice system, is not seen as sufficiently threatening to deter the youths. One of the group says this would be my first offence, "the prisons are over-crowded. What are they going to do? Give me an ASBO? I’ll live with that."

The government has failed to keep order, according to the group. They agree that their motivation is partially that "the government aren’t in control – because if they was we wouldn’t be able to do it could we?".

The low rate of arrest of looters is then also brought up as an incentive to loot, with one youth saying "they failed, innit? How many people have they arrested really, though? Ten." He then says "I’m not really bothered. I’ll keep doing this every day until I get caught."

The incentive to make money from their crime spree is clear: one of the youths says he has been looting because he didn’t want to "miss the opportunity to get free stuff that’s worth, like, loads of money". 

Powerless families are also shown to be a major factor in allowing the looting to take place. One youth admits to warning his family he was going to be present at the riots, and then describes a subsequent telephone conversation with a family member: "He said ‘get home, you’re in trouble’ I said ‘no’ and just put the phone down. They can’t get into town, they can’t get me, and when I get home, nothing’s going to happen to me, I’m not going to get grounded or shouted at. I might get shouted at but that’s it, I’ll live with it and keep doing it."

These youths are not being irrational.  Quite the opposite. They’ve quite fully absorbed the reality of modern life in the UK, a society that has largely abandoned the fundamental norms of civilization, giving them lip service, but without enforcing them.

Think of the very real shortcomings the attitudes above inculcate.

  • The justice system is a farce, and no severe penalties need be feared.
  • The government cannot effectively control lawlessness or protect property.
  • The property of others can be taken without real fear of reprisal.
  • Family discipline is toothless.

The larger society aids and abets these attitudes by defining self-defense as criminal vigilantism, and punishing the victims of crime for having the temerity to defend themselves, and perhaps injuring their assailants if attacked.

These youths in London and Manchester have learned their lessons well. Property owners cannot resist them, the police can’t control them, and if they are unlucky enough to get caught, sanctions will be minimal.  These are not cultural attitudes that promote civilization. Quite the reverse, in fact. They are the attitudes of barbarism, in that they reduce all of society to victims—except for those that choose to be predators. The cultural message these youths have received is that predation pays and is relatively risk free.

They’re acting on that cultural message, in a perfectly understandable and rational manner, while authorities dither for days about whether the use of water cannons or rubber bullets are an appropriate response.

What these rioters need is the type of lesson that armed property owners convey with an immediacy that the police are unable or unwilling to provide. But, of course, in modern "civilized" Britain, that’s literally the last thing they have to fear.

~
Dale Franks
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Volcanic Dust Cloud All An Illusion?

This will go down in history as an epic FAIL:

Britain’s airspace was closed under false pretences, with satellite images revealing there was no doomsday volcanic ash cloud over the entire country.

Skies fell quiet for six days, leaving as many as 500,000 Britons stranded overseas and costing airlines hundreds of millions of pounds.

[...]

However, new evidence shows there was no all-encompassing cloud and, where dust was present, it was often so thin that it posed no risk.

The satellite images demonstrate that the skies were largely clear, which will not surprise the millions who enjoyed the fine, hot weather during the flight ban.

Jim McKenna, the Civil Aviation Authority’s head of airworthiness, strategy and policy, admitted: ‘It’s obvious that at the start of this crisis there was a lack of definitive data.

‘It’s also true that for some of the time, the density of ash above the UK was close to undetectable.’

Is there any surprise as to exactly who was responsible for this little mistake?

The National Air Traffic Control Service decision to ban flights was based on Met Office computer models which painted a picture of a cloud of ash being blown south from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

These models should have been tested by the Met Office’s main research plane, a BAE 146 jet, but it was in a hangar to be repainted and could not be sent up until last Tuesday – the last day of the ban.

Just think, but for a coat of paint, thousands of Britons could have been home with their families, commerce could have gone on largely as usual, and airlines (which operate on paper-thin margins as it is) would not be out tens of millions of dollars. Given the notorious precision of the models employed by the Met Office to predict weather, perhaps it would have been wise to send that plane up sans its shiny new paint job? Just a thought.

I guess we should just all be thankful that we’re not relying on the expertise of the Met Office to push broad new government powers. Based on this incident, one could imagine how the world economies might come to a grinding halt, and all based on nothing but an illusion coughed up by a computer model. Well, thank goodness, that could never happen.

[HT: HotAir HL]


Diplomacy for Dummies (Update)

Surely there’s one of the famous self-help series by that name.  If so, could someone do us all a favor and send copies to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton?

Argentina was celebrating a diplomatic coup yesterday in its attempt to force Britain to accept talks on the future of the Falkland Islands, after a two-hour meeting in Buenos Aires between Hillary Clinton and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Responding to a request from Mrs Kirchner for “friendly mediation” between Britain and Argentina, Mrs Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said she agreed that talks were a sensible way forward and offered “to encourage both countries to sit down”.

Uh, sit down for what? Britain claimed the Falklands in 1833 after British settlers settled there during the decade. The islands lay 300 miles off the Argentine coast. In 1982, it had to fend off an attack by Argentina in a bid to take them over. Now 3 British oil companies plan to put an offshore oil rig 100 miles north of the islands.

Somehow Argentina, who should have gotten the message in 1982, is still under the mistaken impression it has some say over what goes on there:

“What they are doing is illegitimate,” said Jorge Taiana, the foreign minister. “It’s a violation of our sovereignty. We will do everything possible to defend and preserve our rights.”

Riiiight. Like they did in ’82. Look, internationally, this is pretty much settled business. Other than Argentina, no one questions which country has sovereign control in the Falklands. And certainly not those who lives there. The 3,000 island dwellers all consider themselves, and have always considered themselves, a part of the British Commonwealth.

Territorial waters, as defined by 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea extend 12 miles. Then there is a 12 mile “contiguous zone” in which a state has limited powers. A state also enjoys a 200 mile “exclusive economic zone” which includes “control of all economic resources within its exclusive economic zone, including fishing, mining, oil exploration, and any pollution of those resources.” That zone includes the territorial and contiguous zone as well.

As the cite points out:

Before 1982, coastal nations arbitrarily extended their territorial waters in an effort to control activities which are now regulated by the exclusive economic zone, such as offshore oil exploration or fishing rights (see Cod Wars). Indeed, the exclusive economic zone is still popularly, though erroneously, called a coastal nation’s territorial waters.

With the Falklands being 300 miles off the coast and the rig a 100 miles north of the islands, there is obviously nothing to the dubious claim of Argentine sovereignty (again remember, other than claim the islands, Argentina never settled them or has occupied them).

Enter Hillary Clinton – someone whose job it is to know all of this.

Her intervention defied Britain’s longstanding position that there should be no negotiations unless the islands’ 3,000 inhabitants asked for them. It was hailed in Buenos Aires as a major diplomatic victory, but condemned in the Falklands.

Britain insisted there was no need for mediation as long as the islanders wanted to remain British. “We don’t think that’s necessary,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

[...]

She gave no sign of backing the British position on negotiations, saying instead: “We would like to see Argentina and the UK sit down and resolve the issues between them in a peaceful and productive way. We want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. We cannot make either one do so. We think it is the right way to proceed, so we will be saying this publicly.”

Simply amazing. Our longest standing ally thrown under the bus to solicit warm fuzzies in South America that, as have been proven with others like Hugo Chavez, have the half-life of a Mayfly.

There will be a price to pay in the future for this as anyone who has watched international relations for any time knows.  Britain will extract a pound of flesh.  In the meantime, other than empty words meant to please those who will remain deeply skeptical of the US, all that’s been accomplished is the abandonment of an ally.  Essentially all Clinton has done is give false hope to Argentina and royally pissed off a solid ally.

Too bad the book in question isn’t available for Ms. Clinton.  And apparently she’s also forgotten the old saying about “remaining silent and being thought a fool rather than speaking out and removing all doubt.”

UPDATE:  Ralph Peters provides the back story.

~McQ


Saturday open thread

Talk about whatever strikes your fancy.

Some things that have caught my eye:

Is the Obama administration trying to unionize the government procurement process?

Speaking of unions, what is SEIU’s president, Andy Stern, doing on a Obama’s “deficit reduction” panel.  Does that say “I’m serious about this” to you?

Anyone else see the irony in the Hillary Clinton claim that domestic political infighting is hurting America’s image abroad?

Brits aren’t buying the “January was the warmest month ever” nonsense.

Speaking of the Brits, is there a reason we won’t back their claim to the Falklands in a drilling-rights dispute?

Apparently some Dems are calling for Charles Rangel to step down from his House committee chairmanship because of ethics violations. Why isn’t Nancy “the most ethical Congress in history” Pelosi doing the same?

Paul Ryan was the rock star in the health care summit. To date no one has refuted his fiscal points.

The Obama administration has consistently talked about the Bush administration not counting the cost of war in its deficits. Well, it isn’t a war, but the Obama administration continues to nrefuse to cout the hundreds of billions going to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – primarily because it would bump this year’s 1.4 trillion deficit by another 300 billion.

And finally there’s some relatively good news.  Jeremy Lott says there have been quite a few “quiet libertarian victories” here lately.

~McQ


“Give ‘Em An Inch …”

To me the UK has become the example of what can happen when you allow the state to begin to usurp liberties in the name of “safety” or “security”. What may first be given over to the state usually becomes an ever expanding list of things the state then feels enabled to intrude upon. The old “camel’s nose under the tent”. The latest example from Britain:

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”.

Ya think? Two things at work here – one of which we’re all familiar, even in the US. This is what? It is “for the children”. All manner of state intrusion is prefaced by claiming it is “for the children”. Which brings us to the second thing – the assumption by the state that parents are too dumb and inept to properly care for their children. While this is true of some, certainly, the standard is applied to all. And we’ve certainly seen evidence that the state is so much better, haven’t we?

So why does the state not only feel the necessity but right to intrude at such a level?

About 100,000 children are admitted to hospital each year for home injuries at a cost of £146m.

Oh, health care costs. And who controls the health care in the UK.

Why the state, of course. So of course it feels it has the right to intrude. When the state pays for health care, it assumes the “right” to tell you how to live your life and it also feels empowered to do what is necessary to make you do so in order to drive down costs, doesn’t it?

Well, it does in the UK. And we’re about to hand a similar power over to the state with this health care bill being considered. Our camel’s nose under the tent moment, if you will.  In terms of intrusion, it may not be quite as bad as the UK’s – yet. But then they’ve had 60 years to get to this point.

~McQ