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Economics

Venezuela institutes forced labour

Venezuela Forced Labour in Agriculture

A new decree by Venezuela’s government could make its citizens work on farms to tackle the country’s severe food shortages. That “effectively amounts to forced labour,” according to Amnesty International, which derided the decree as “unlawful.”

In a vaguely-worded decree, Venezuelan officials indicated that public and private sector employees could be forced to work in the country’s fields for at least 60-day periods, which may be extended “if circumstances merit.”

“Trying to tackle Venezuela’s severe food shortages by forcing people to work the fields is like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid,” Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas’ Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

President Nicolas Maduro is using his executive powers to declare a state of economic emergency. By using a decree, he can legally circumvent Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly — the Congress — which is staunchly against all of Maduro’s actions.

According to the decree from July 22, workers would still be paid their normal salary by the government and they can’t be fired from their actual job.

CNN Money – Venezuela’s new decree on forced labour

This is what happens when the blood-sucking ticks of the Maxist-Leninist-Maoist spectrum get hold of the economy, you rapidly go from subsidised foodstuffs and the promise of cradle-to-grave protection by the state to starvation and forced labour.

The only thing new in all of this is the date; socialist induced famines being a well documented feature, albeit seldom advertised. Certainly Venezuela’s policies from nationalisation of the petrochemical industry to price fixing and currency manipulation have a familiar feel to any student of post-WW2 Eastern Europe. Thus we prepare to entire the next stage of the consequences of economic denial, the Road to Hyperinflation.

Venezuela’s inflation for 2016 is estimated at 481.5% this year and by a staggering 1,642.8% next year, according to the latest International Monetary Fund World Outlook. Given that smuggling food is now a crime in the country as is taking photographs of the queues outside supermarkets, these figures are probably understated.

The supermarket shelves are empty, not because of a US government plot to bring down Maduro (as the Chavistas claim), but because simple economics says that goods cannot be sold at below the cost of production, which is what Chavista policies require at this time given the massive budget deficit.

Maduro continues to occupy the presidential palace, with attempts to remove him taking a glacial pace. One would perhaps wish for a coup to end the deadlock quickly, but that was the route by which Hugo Chavez began his populist climb into power, so possibly not.

I think Venezuelans will have to get a little thinner before the Presidential cockroach is forced to finally “check out”.

Britain will now go bust – official

Well de facto official anyway. You may have noticed Osborne (who seems to go down in my estimation daily) sneaking out a statement that he will not now balance the budget in 2020. Now in one sense this is like me confirming I won’t be fly-half on the next Lions tour, but the significance of it is gigantic.

He of course hid behind Brexit which is laughable. He doesn’t have the data to support that claim and wouldn’t have real world data for at least 12 months, government statisticians being what they are. But it’s a fig leaf; he was never going to get close thanks to the absurd electoral auction we now play. Tell the truth (I.e. funds to the NHS are obviously limited by realty) lose the election. The ongoing circus about leadership of the parties was also the proverbial “good day” to bury catastrophic, terminal news.

So the Tories said lots of things that people wanted to hear which weren’t true (in fairness so did everyone else). However, they were at least pretending to try to balance the budget. McDonnell and Corby actually welcomed this news (sic).

So we now have a structural deficit which one party can’t address and the other thinks is a good idea. So the interest payment on a debt which can only rise, must go up annually until it reaches the point where it can no longer be supported. And contrary to the absurd, anti-mathematical, anti-historical, anti-sanity opinions, deficits do matter.

So it is now clear the UK (and most other Western nations) will default. Just think about that for a moment, no politician can balance the books and none are trying any more. So the question becomes one of how, not if.

The two basic options are hard default or soft default. Hard default a la Greece is unlikely as we can still counterfeit our own money, or QE as its known. This is the crack cocaine of economics. One time it feels painless and it’s ‘free’ money, so you knew the politicians would be back to it.

But we all know what happens when you print your way to wealth as countless countries have found out. This is in our future.

We can expect more financial repression and I’ll bet on capital controls again in the later stages. I wouldn’t exclude Greek style cash withdrawal limits from banks and possibly negative interest rates. This is the ultimate failure. It is the road to ruin and some very nasty populism. And it now seems inevitable.

Shoddy Absurdia considers issuing I.O.U.’s

I'm sure we're never going to see 100 dollar oil barrel again

Saudi Arabia is considering using IOUs to pay outstanding bills with contractors and conserve cash, according to people briefed on the discussions.

As payment from the state, contractors would receive bond-like instruments which they could hold until maturity or sell on to banks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Companies have received some payments in cash and the rest could come in the “I-owe-you” notes, the people said, adding that no decisions have been made on the measures.

Saudi Arabia has slowed payments to contractors and suppliers, tapped foreign reserves and borrowed from local and international banks in response to the decline in crude oil, which accounts for the bulk of its revenue. The country will probably post a budget deficit of about 13.5 percent of economic output this year, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, pushing the government to borrow an estimated 120 billion riyals ($32 billion).

Bloomberg - Saudi Arabia Considers Paying Contractors With IOUs

In the overall scheme of things this probably doesn’t amount to much, but it just goes to show how even a little disturbance in the oil price can cause economic turmoil when all you have is oil.

I don’t expect Venezuelan-type queuing for bog roll in Riyadh any time soon, but it just goes to show that when we eventually transition to a post-oil global economy these bastards will be back to buggering goats in their desert tents, which is exactly where they belong.

If only there was some way of making it happen sooner…

Microsoft OneDrive – Bait and Switch

Important Changes to OneDrive

So ponder this, you are one of the worlds largest suppliers of computer software, competing in a highly competitive market which is already saturated. Which of the following sounds like a market winning strategy?:

  • Increase the value-add to your existing data mining customers by providing ever more dimensions on which to analyse customer information (Facebook, Google)
  • Look around at the offerings from your competitors and cut your offering (which is currently the same) to 1/3rd of that and tell customers that all that stuff they were getting for free, they are now going to pay for (Microsoft)

Maybe I’m missing the point here and Microsoft thinks that, despite their many and obvious failures from Bob to Bing, they are somehow beloved by their customers, who will not simply dump them in favour of Google?

Anyone? *crickets*

For myself, I’ll copy everything over to Google and just leave my 10.6 GB of data on the OneDrive. What are they going to do? Charge me?

In fact I’m severely tempted to fill it up to the maximum 15GB 30GB with any old crap and let them sort the wheat from the chaff.

As the Americans say “Good luck with that

[UPDATE - I forgot that as I have both OneDrive and the Camera Roll Bonus I have twice the storage space to screw over - Whooopee!]

Taxman begs “Please don’t pay tax early”

Negative Interest Rates

Zug, the small but affluent canton outside Zürich, has announced it is ending discounts for early payment of tax bills. The reason? The longer it has cash on its books, the more likely it will incur costs as a result of negative interest rates charged by Swiss banks. The canton calculates that the move will save SFr 2.5m ($2.5m) a year.

Swiss canton tells taxpayers to delay settling bills

As discussed with Paul Marks here the consequences of negative interest rates are only really hitting us at the margins at the moment, but these rates are indicative of the sorts of problems that we can expect to encounter in mainstream Western countries as the monetarist plate spinning finally begins to spin out of control.

Unless you are in the commodities trading business (as I am in between sojourning in sunny Penang here), you’ll probably have never heard of Zug, which is a tiny Swiss canton just outside Zürich alongside the beautiful lake Zug, but also home to 30 of the worlds top commodities trading houses, primarily because of the advantageous taxes that may be negotiated with the Zug tax authorities.

However, I would argue that what happens in Zug is an important bellwether for what will happen in other Western countries as negative interest rates become more widespread and if the Swiss can’t get their financial shit together, what hope is their for anybody else?

Why else do you think your governments are trying to make holding large amounts of cash illegal? Because if enough people withdraw from the banking system then it will collapse as Northern Rock showed at the beginning of the current crisis.

Next stop – cars being weighed between journeys in and out of Switzerland to pick up those using the strong Swiss Franc against the weak Euro to avoid paying Swiss prices on their shopping.

Interview: Ronald Coase

Herewith economist Dr. Ronald Coase, interviewed in 2002 by Richard Epstein for the Liberty Fund’s “Intellectual Portrait” series. Dr. Coase sketches his background, and then discusses such topics as public utilities, in particular the water supply and the Post Office, how these came to be state-owned in Britain, and the reasoning that led to the state-owned BBC. Notes that the Educated Classes approved: for it was necessary to raise the tone of the culture of the lower classes. He explains that having started as a socialist, sheer observation persuaded him that free enterprise works better. He discusses the famous Lighthouse Example, and states that in the end, governments are necessary to determine (i.e. define) what will be the property rights, and to enforce them.

About an hour.

Screwing the Copperopoly

I Hate BT

I hate British Telecom aka BT, the UK’s national telecoms provider with a visceral hatred that is usually reserved for mother-in-laws and cheating ex’s.

Back in 2002 I bought a new house in Stevenage, all well and good, but needed a phone installed, fair enough, only problem was only BT installed lines to new homes and required a fairly sizeable fee and minimum 12 month phone contract.

So much for deregulation and the end of BT’s Telecom monopoly.

Anyway, a couple of years later deregulation did indeed come knocking on our door in the form of a deregulated service from Tiscali, which was much cheaper as we didn’t use the phone much for anything except the internet. I signed up for 12-months with a price promise – so for 12-months it was at a guaranteed price and lower than BT. So far, so good.

I was somewhat chagrined then when I received a letter from BT to say “New BT Together Option 1 price reduced by £1.00 per month” so the service I’d just dumped was now slightly cheaper, but the corker was they we’re raising their line rental price by £1.00 per month.

Net effect BT customers no change, deregulated customers who didn’t want BT or directly use their services get stiffed for an extra quid a month.

Now don’t get me wrong, I could easily afford the rise, but it was the sheer deceitful effrontery of the thing. My anger knew no bounds and included letters to the CEO’s of both BT and Tiscali as well as an official complaint to the regulator who dismissed the connection between BT customer pricing and line-rental pricing, pleading ignorance being preferable to the hard work of monopoly investigation.

Ever since I have been on a mission to avoid or evade the egregious line rental. Which brings me to my current predicament. How to get some element of Internet into my new flat in Perth, Scotland without paying line rental. As a laugh I checked the broadband comparison sites

Excellent Deal

£48 ($75 USD, $102 AUD) as an introductory price for the first year seemed a pretty good deal, but somehow I am dubious, lets click on the “Show Details” box for lurking heffalumps…

Not Quite So Excellent Deal

Not quite so good when you add in the £16.99 ($27 USD, $36 AUD) per month subsidy to BT’s copperopoly is it? £48 per year suddenly becomes a whopping £251 ($392 USD, $534 AUD) per year. It is this back-door mugging that I find most offensive and this is but one example.

Over the years I have developed a variety of solutions towards this such as wireless extenders capable of accessing a free wifi signal from up to 1 kilometre away, to using a mobile dongle from 3-mobile (£10 for 1GB of data within 30-days)

The solution for the new flat is a bit simpler, it is 30-yards from a pub with a strong wifi signal from “The Cloud” pub wifi service (a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky empire), will give me unlimited access for £6.95 ($11 USD, $15 AUD) a month.

Sure, it’s not dedicated and it depends how much it’s being used by pub users, but its a lot cheaper than BT line rental on its own, never mind the internet element.

So fuck you BT.

* The guy from the official regulator OFCOM told me a genuine consumer complaint on the grounds of “anti-competitive exclusionary behaviour” was virtually unheard of, which was why he contacted me directly to verify the complaint.

Original text of my complaint

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Treason doth never prosper

Varoufakis Treason

Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

John Harington – Epigrams

In the latest round of the sorry saga that is modern Greece we have a further example of how the corrupting and totalitarian influence of the European Union has now spread in that it would appear that attempting to replace the Euro with a restored national currency is now treason.

“The context of all this is that they want to present me as a rogue finance minister, and have me indicted for treason. It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history,” he said.

“It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe,” he said.

The goal of the computer hacking was to enable the finance ministry to make digital transfers at “the touch of a button”. The payments would be ‘IOUs’ based on an experiment by California after the Lehman banking crisis.

A parallel banking system of this kind would allow the government to create euro liquidity and circumvent what Syriza called “financial strangulation” by the ECB.

Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger ‘Plan B’ for Greece, awaits treason charges

I am no fan of Yanis Varoufakis who is just another dreadful little Marxist troll, but any decent economist will acknowledge that given the prospect of the ECB funding being stopped for any period of time then parallel currency measures such as IOU’s are a rational response to the problem.

Only in the cloud-cuckoo land of Eurozone politics could this be a justification for treason, at most Varoufakis exceeded his authority, but then surely Greek PM Alexis Tsipras did as well, in which case he should be impeached?

The “why” they attempted to do it is a different matter.

Dark green jackets and black buttons – liberty and voluntary service can defeat Collectivist tyranny.

This day of evil is finally drawing to a close. The leftists in Paris may well have (as they do every year) slaughtered a pig – as part of their celebration of the treacherous betrayal (“come out – we promise you and your men safe conduct”) and savage murder of the Governor of an old fortress in Paris – a fortress in which there were seven (7) prisoners, none of whom were there for their political opinions.

Thus the left celebrate the principles of the left. Treachery, robbery (for the real goal of the operation was to steal weapons and other goods) and murder.

Soon all of France was to be convulsed in mass robbery (of the Church – and of many ordinary people who were far from “aristocratic”) and the murder of hundreds of thousands of people (see the works of William Doyle and others). And Europe was to be convulsed by the designs of the French Revolutionaries to bring the collectivist doctrines of Rousseau to power everywhere. His idea that the Law Giver knows the “General Will”, better than the individual persons themselves, so (in Marxist fashion) people have to be “forced to be free” against their false consciousness. If need be robbed and slaughtered – for their own good. And with their own consent – as their cries of protest (and screams of pain) are but mental confusion, not what they “really” believe.

The French Revolution does not show the danger of taking liberty too far – because it was not about liberty, it was about power. The Revolutionaries talked of liberty – but they lied, as followers of Rousseau tend to do (using their words as a mist to blind the unwary).

Paper money (forced on people on the pain of death), theft of property, the murder of the innocent (of all levels of society) – these were and are the principles of the French Revolution. Its criminal lust for unlimited power (not just in France – but over the world) under the mask of “liberty”, which destroyed the rule-of-law and the security of persons and possessions.

People who cried for religious tolerance (in fact granted by Louis XVI years before), and practiced religious persecution – of the most savage kind.

People who cried for the end of serfdom (largely unknown in France for centuries), and an end to torture (“putting the question” had actually already been abolished in French Roman Law), but actually introduced serfdom to the state, and reintroduced torture (in all its forms).

These were the French Revolutionaries – if one judges them by their deeds, or even looks carefully at the meaning of their words (rather than the nice sound the words make).

But let us leave the Rousseau evil of the Revolutionaries aside – and turn to more hopeful things, dark green jackets and black buttons…….

Sir William Stewart (Colonel Stewart) in 1799 (some ten years after the Revolution started – and after its forces had overwhelmed most of Europe with vast slaughter) published his thoughts on “light infantry”.

People who fought as individuals and in small groups – but could (if worked with correctly) help defeat vast enemy forces.

Colonel Stewart studied the Croats who had resisted (for the Hapsburgs) the invasions of the Ottomans – for centuries. Helping hold back the forces of despotism (that recognised no rule-of-law, no protection of property rights from the state) that might otherwise have destroyed Europe.

He also studied the mountain people of the Tyrol – famous for both their individualism and their loyal service (there is no contradiction – the people of Eastern Tennessee are much the same in these aspects, Southerners who supported human freedom over tribalism in the 1860s and have supported the elephant over the donkey ever since ).

The great revolt of Andreas Hofer – the innkeeper turned leader of the “Reactionary” forces of the Tyrol was yet to come (but the spirit had been known for centuries).

Hofer opposed the takeover of the Tyrol by Bavaria – not the relatively conservative place we know today, but then an ally of Revolutionary France and ruled by the bureaucrat (and rumoured ally of the illuminated ones) M. Von Montegelas – a man who made a great show of “abolishing serfdom” (actually just a few old rituals by this time in Bavaria) whilst actually introducing serfdom – both for children (via his system of compulsory state brainwashing of the young) and adults (via mass conscription). Nothing (not Church property, or even other countries, if they were small and weak – he was not a man of great courage ) was safe from Montegelas, a sort of “mini me” Napoleon. And Bavaria was backed by the vast forces of France.

Andreas Hofer eventually lost and was killed – famously giving the order to fire at his own execution. But the idea of light infantry is sound – it just can not win major wars on its own.

Nor should the experience of the North American wars, against the French and some Indian tribes, and against the American colonists, be forgotten. The “King’s Rifles” had already been born – although still in red jackets….

Sir William Stewart was supported by Colonel Manningham (Equerry to the King) and in 1800 the Rifle Corps (the 95 regiment of foot) was born.

It was the first British infantry regiment since the Civil War to have green uniforms – I recently went to a Civil War re enactment, and whilst everybody raves over the red uniforms of the New Model Army (red because the dye was cheap), but there is something about dark green uniforms against the green fields and woods (and not just of England). Yes it is camouflage – but it is more than that, but I lack the gift of words to explain what I mean.

People will be familiar with the exploits of “the Rifles” from such things as the “Sharpe” novels – but the basic message is historically accurate and simple to state.

By out fighting French skirmishers (not so well trained, or so well TRUSTED, and armed with muskets not Baker rifles) British skirmishers – fighting as individuals and in small groups, were able to help change battles (and thereby help change wars). Negate some of the advantage of the enemy in numbers – and cause confusion and chaos among French (and other) armies that were organised as vast masses of conscripts.

The forces “equality and fraternity” could be defeated by the forces of liberty. Skill, creative thought, and voluntary service.

Those men in dark green jackets with black buttons have (under various names of regiment) fought in many wars since then – surprising people who assume that the British army is a force of robots who do not fight as individuals and in small groups, and who can not think without detailed orders.

Their story is little known – and the reader should look it up for themselves.

Nightmare on Threadneedle street…

Cop a load of this my fellow Kitty Counters…

I have known in my water that the “Powers that be” have been itching to put this into practice for ages. Well they think they can control the weather with micro management don’t they? So why not Macro and Micro Economics, which after all, really is a man made science, albeit a dismal one. And boy is the future dismal if this marxist fuckwit gets his wish.

A proposed new law in Denmark could be the first step towards an economic revolution that sees physical currencies and normal bank accounts abolished and gives governments futuristic new tools to fight the cycle of “boom and bust”.

The Danish proposal sounds innocuous enough on the surface – it would simply allow shops to refuse payments in cash and insist that customers use contactless debit cards or some other means of electronic payment.

No they don’t sound innocuous at all, they stink of socio/fascist Totalitarianism

But the move could be a key moment in the advent of “cashless societies”. And once all money exists only in bank accounts – monitored, or even directly controlled by the government – the authorities will be able to encourage us to spend more when the economy slows, or spend less when it is overheating.

What this means is that your hard earned money is no longer your own, the Government can confiscate chunks of it at their leisure and whim. What of aspiration and striving for a better future? What of individual choice? What will be the point of trying to get ahead if the “Ahead” you had in mind is going to be confiscated?

It will get worse than that though. All your purchases will be computerised, and if you stray from the 5 fruits a day, no more than 24 units of alcohol a week, 6 cheeseburgers? (are you insane??) Smoker??? then you will find that the bansturbators in power will refuse  your purchase, and there will be nothing you can do about it. Then you  truly will be a drone.

This is one of the most evil articles I have read for a long time, and make no mistake, they are serious about this. Go read the article… the blandishments try to ameliorate the deadening impact of what is being proposed with positives like…

Apart from the control over the economy, there would be many other advantages of a cashless society. Such a system is much cheaper to run than one based on banknotes and coins. Forgery is impossible, as are robberies.

Electronic money is an inclusive and convenient system, giving poor and rural sectors of an economy – where cash machines and bank branches may be few and far between and not all people have accounts – a tool for easy participation in the economy.

But there is one hope… Even if they get their way, human ingenuity will find a way round it. But why the fuck should we have to?

Entomophagy.

I saw something on the TV about eating insects with Giles Coren.

Gods help me! I shall be cold under the ground before I eat buggetarian. I shall be eaten by bugs before I eat them. Apparently they do it in lots of countries apart from the developed world. The clue there is in the use of the word “developed”. I don’t eat any invertebrate because I am English and Civilised. I can tie a tie for example. Rarely need to but I still can. Eating creepy crawlies is for the birds – literally.

Apparently this shall come to us all as population pressure rears it’s ugly head because people is evil, right? Take of that what you wish. The best estimates tend towards a global population peaking mid-century at around 10 billion. Utterly sustainable by any means without eating babies or bugs. I live in England and approximately 12% of these “Green and Pleasant Lands” is built upon and when I say “built upon” I mean everything: roads, rail, houses, factories, shops – the whole nine yards. We are a dense nation (especially dense if we believe in the people-apocalypse) but there is much more space elsewise including, well, space. But 10 billion down here is OK and anybody who says other is a twat.

This is related to immigration. Would I care if the UK went to 70m inside ten years? Why not! It is the fixed wealth fallacy. Only so many jobs and all that. Every Polish builder who builds a shop doesn’t take net jobs from the Brits. Who will staff the shop? And let’s say it’s a good shop so who is going to work in it? I hate this drivel. How the fuck do we call immigration a strain when lots of these folks are doctors and nurses yet people still think this is a strain on the NHS?

There are two reasons for this (neither I believe in). The first is folk who are so Tory they don’t vote Tory anymore and just hate the nig-nogs (of whatever colour). The second are arguably worse (the first are largely coffin-dodgers – so are on the delete list already) who believe in a variant of the fixed wealth fallacy. That would be the fixed jobs fallacy. “British jobs for British workers” and all that. Utter shite. What world do these idiots live in? My first port of call for computer stuff is Aria Tech in South Manchester. I almost got a job there. I don’t want to say how much I have spent there over the years. It was set-up by an Iranian immigrant. Most of the employees are British. As are most of the customers and I have dropped over a grand there on occasions (don’t tell the missus). All good kit.

We get wealthier with more people. This is true for the UK and true for the Planet. It is simples as the meerkat said. There is no fixed wealth. There just ain’t. I like people. I am a horrible person for this. Obviously.

Written whilst listening to Bon Jovi. God, I miss the ’80s which was (as I recall) a time of things getting better.

PS. Can we stop pissing around with HS2 already and fund Skylon and build a fucking Space El! For the bastarding cunting sake of fuck! We could do both for less than the cost of a a Stephenson Gauge railway from London to Brum. HS2 is a railway. It is also a profound lack of the imag. We could have had Skylon in service 10 years ago from Bristol International Spaceport. How Thunderbirds is that? Just look at it. “If it looks right it will fly right” – Kelly Johnson. His boss said of him, “That damned Swede can actually see air.” We need folks like that and not the mere twats we put-up with.

God alive

Guido featured this one. It’s quite amazing. I don’t expect much from thoughtless modern politicos, but this maybe a new low. No it’s not child rape, or expenses fiddling, or perverting the course of justice, or starting pointless wars, or taking bribes, or lying (so far as I can tell), this one seems to actually believe this.

I refer of course to that paragon of intellectual rigor, Rachel Reeves. You may recall Labour’s work and pension spokesman couldn’t actually say what the pension level was and she seemed unclear on how it was actually made up. In any other walk of life, not having the most basic command of your brief gets you fired. Not so modern politics.

But today she seemed to surpass even that low point. Rachel it seems, wants to abolish the so-called bedroom tax. What this actually means is that if you live in a house where the government (i.e. the rest of us) pay your rent and you under occupy it, you have a choice. Move to a smaller house appropriate to your needs (and keep getting it free) or pay the extra costs for the extra space. For some reason which escapes me, Labour seems to regard this as the moral equivalent of jailing Nelson Mandela.

Anyway, Rachel wants to abolish this and “with the money saved” spend £175M on Scottish poverty (You will recall how the Scots are diabolically underpaid by the Barnett formula and this is in no way a bribe to the possible SNP voters). Only there’s a tiny problem.

By not asking people to pay extra for houses that are too big for them, government revenue drops. (you see how that works, government gets less money, so it has…less money, not more).

I’m almost embarrassed for the woman. This is presumably Labour policy. Is there any kind of audit going on at all? Do the shadow cabinet just say stuff and it is sacrosanct and unchallengeable? Do doubters of the final victory face a Utah firing squad? No. It’s simply group think and a refusal to think counter-revolutionary thoughts. And she is allegedly some kid of economist.

She could very soon end up around the cabinet table in number 10. Incitatus would do less damage.

Moscow on the Orinoco

Venezuela Oil Takeover

As countries around the world have demonstrated, those with little in terms of mineral resources, like postwar Japan until the stagnation, can operate vibrant economies, but equally, those with significant mineral resources can be destroyed by bad economic policies. This seems to be the fate of most of South America except Chile and to a lesser extent Brazil.

The government of Venezuela may be blaming “The American capitalists and their Saudi running dogs” for the fall in the oil price, but even at the peak of the oil price they were spending the economic bounty of their oil as if there was no tomorrow – well, it looks like tomorrow has arrived.

Now the average Venezuelan can’t even afford to screw in safety, regardless of the thoughts of Pope Francis on the matter.

In Venezuela, a 36-pack of Trojan condoms now costs $755 at the official exchange rate. That’s the price being asked on the MercadoLibre website, where Venezuelans go to buy goods in short supply.

A 36-pack of condoms in Venezuela now costs $755 at official rates

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Sir William Blackstone – the beginning of the intellectual collapse of liberty?

However, good an 18th century university administrator and judge Sir William Blackstone may have been, and however personally well disposed he may have been to liberty and property, the rights of the latter being the essential foundation for the former, his doctrine of the Sovereignty of Parliament was radically subversive of the principles of liberty – leading, in the short term, to war with the American colonies, and, in the longer term, the undermining of liberty in Britain and elsewhere.

The central “Whig” principle is that there are some things that the ruler or rulers, Kings or Parliaments, may not do – that natural law – natural justice to-each-their-own-liberty, expressed in the Common Law and other traditions, forbids fundamental attacks on liberty and property, either by private criminals or by the government.

This was the position of Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke in “Dr Bonham’s case”, it was the position of Ralph Cudworth and others against the unlimited government doctrine of Thomas Hobbes (whose mentor was that servant of unlimited government “The New Atlantis” Francis Bacon – the great enemy of Sir Edward Coke) who held that humans were not moral agents, and it was the position of Chief Justice Sir John Holt and the other “Old Whigs” of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Sir William Blackstone’s doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty destroys this Whig foundation stone of liberty – destroys it utterly. Blackstone might pay lip service to the principles of natural law, the legal principles of Cicero and the view of humans as moral agents of Aristotle, but his doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty negates them. If the “legislature” can do anything it likes – then liberty is naught, and natural law is just an empty term. Things are reduced to the level of the Roman Empire – where no legal thinker denied, in theory, that liberty and natural law, natural justice – to each his own liberty, existed, but held that positive law, the will of the Emperor, trumped them – which was the same, in practice, as denying that the rights of liberty and property existed at all.

Blackstone may be held up as one of the great Common Law thinkers – but his fundamental conception of law was essentially Roman, and that of the Roman Empire, just with a Parliament in place of an Emperor.

Many Americans, holding to old Whig principles, were profoundly shocked and rejected the principle of Blackstone, and those who held the same view, – but in Britain it carried all before it.

The principle of Blackstone simplified law by holding that, at a fundamental level, law is whatever Parliament and Francis Bacon “lions UNDER the throne” style judges say it is – with no appeal to natural law, natural justice (to each his own – liberty) principles against them.

It also flattered Parliament (Thomas Hobbes had always said that the supreme unlimited ruler could be one person or a group of people – thus hedging his bets in terms of the Civil War by trying to flatter both sides, like Francis Bacon before him, he would be a lickspittle apologist for whoever was in power) – it gave them delusions of grandeur, indeed of infallibility, and made them unwilling to compromise with the American colonists. After all the law was whatever they, Parliament, said it was – they were Gods upon this Earth who could do no wrong. At least that is how his doctrine was, inevitably, interpreted. So war was made inevitable – and with war the division of the English speaking peoples, a division that continues to this day.

The tradition of the Bill of Rights, American or British, runs directly counter to this doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty – which is why the British Bill of Rights, oh yes it once existed, is not much talked about any more. What is the point of talking about the right to keep and bear arms – if Parliament can take away this right with a statute? It means that the right, for all practical purposes, is negated. Ditto freedom of speech or anything else. If Parliament wishes to, for example, “redistribute” the property of the Duke of Portland this may be sad – but he has no rights against the “legislature”. As Mark Twain was later to say, but not as PRAISE, that “no man’s life or property is safe when the legislature is in secession” the legislature being the only true “criminal class” in United States – the fact that British opinion would have been shocked by a statement like this in the 19th century shows how much damage the doctrine of Sir William Blackstone and others had done – spread by Victorian legal writers such as Maitland, who pretended (with breath taking dishonesty) that not a single Act of Parliament in history had ever been fundamentally unjust or irrational.

By the 19th century more and more people were starting to use the words “the State” in the same awe struck way that German philosophers had in the time of Frederick the Great and before. The State seen as some sort of God on Earth, with, in this case Parliament, being seen as at least semi divine – infallible.

Sir William Blackstone may not have shared some of the “new”, there are actually ancient precedents for its errors, philosophy that was bubbling up like a witch’s brew in his time – but he opened the door for it. David Hume had made his name by being “sceptical” about everything (whether he really was, or whether it was a performance, to wake people from their dogmatic slumbers, is something I will not try to answer here), even the most obvious self evident things such as the existence of the self (the “I”) as a moral agent. If nothing was secure, if there were no principles that one could “prove”, if even the existence of oneself, as a moral agent free to choose to do otherwise than we do was in doubt, what would step into the chaos? Why the state of course – “the euthanasia of the Constitution” the end of “Whig”, Old Whig, principles. This philosophy horrified some Tories – such as Dr Johnson, who expressed his horror when someone said to him that both he and David Hume were Tories. Dr Johnson believed in the principles of Church and King because he believed they were true, objectively true, not because he believed that nothing was objectively true – that is why the Tory Dr Johnson was more of a friend of the Old Whig Edmund Burke than he was of political “allies” such as David Hume.

Jeremy Bentham, and the rest of the “Bowood Circle” of Lord Shelborne (Lord Shelborne, Sir William Petty kinsman of that other Sir William Petty – the friend of Thomas Hobbes, who wanted to mathematically “plan” Ireland in totalitarian fashion) had nothing but contempt for the principles of the Old Whigs – which were “nonsense on stilts”.

13 departments of State should control most aspects of life, according to Bentham – in this way the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” would be achieved, and pleasure and pain (not traditional right and wrong) should be the only guides to policy. If wickedness produced more “pleasure” than “pain” then it was not evil it was good – so if, according to Bentham, control of most aspects of life via 13 departments of State produced more pleasure than pain then it was to be done – and no silly “old rights” allowed to stand against it. The interests of “the people” trumped the silly (indeed “nonsense on stilts”) old rights of individual persons. The fact that this is a “category mistake” that, for example, one does not work out whether rape or gang rape is morally wrong by sitting down with a “calculator of pleasure and pain” to try and work out if the pleasure of the rapist or rapists was greater or lesser than the pain of the victim, escaped Jeremy Bentham. He made the elementary mistake, which would be shameful even in a young child, of mistaking “good” as in pleasure, with “good” as in moral (as they are the same word they must mean the same thing – NO THEY DO NOT). Just because it may be pleasant to torture someone to death it does not mean that it is morally good to torture someone to death – and this has nothing to do with the pain of the victim being greater than the pleasure of the murderer.

This is the principle of the French Revolution, of Rousseau – not of the Old Whig American Revolution. It is why the French Revolutionaries did not believe that their murdering, plundering, rape and other crimes were crimes at all – as the “welfare of the people” trumped, negated, everything else.

And the belief of Bentham and others in intellectual government administrators taking control of various aspects of Civil Society harks back to Sir William Petty and Francis “The New Atlantis” Bacon, and may even have been foreshadowed by Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII – although his schemes, on education and so on, came to naught.

The “liberals” who followed Bentham, there were other factions of liberals of course, included people such as James and John Stuart Mill who endorsed the views on land of David Ricardo, which led to people attacking the rights of property – down with the Duke of Portland and other “Old Whigs” I bet he did not “justly acquire” his property, and he expects rent and rent is evil. This view was refuted by Frank Fetter a century ago, but one still hears it – just as one still hears demands that the state expand the money supply to maintain a “stable price level” as if Frank Fetter had never refuted Irving Fisher (let alone the absurd Lord Keynes).

And there was the Labour Theory of Value, also an interpretation of Ricardo, that holds that factory workers and so on are “exploited” – if private landed estates are, somehow, wrong and large scale non-landed property (factories and so on) are also, somehow, wrong – then the old Whig principles have been utterly destroyed there is nothing left, apart from empty chanting of the words “freedom” and “liberty” (as “liberals” still do today) based on no foundations, philosophical or other.

Of course there is a good side to both James Mill and to John Stewart Mill – but there is also a bad side, a very bad side. And it must not be hidden away – because it did great damage.

A liberal of the 19th century “Westminster Review” type (not other types) may have hoped if nothing is objectively true then there is no justification for state attacks on liberty, and may have held that denying everything, including selfhood, is the ultimate freedom – but, in reality, someone who believes that nothing is objectively true is likely to seek the STATE to fill the void (the “myth” of William James, Sorel or Mussolini). Besides the state NATURALLY expands (those who have power seek to use it – the “Dark Side” tempts them) – and if there are no principles to oppose them with……….

And Sir William Blackstone, whatever his intentions were, has in practice helped get rid of the principles limiting the state – by getting rid of all principles limiting Parliament.

“Ah but Paul – Blackstone trusted Parliament to limit the state” – then he was profoundly foolish and also ignorant, not understanding the typical nature of such statutes as the one that Sir Edward Coke struck down in “Dr Bonham’s Case” – where it was held that someone practicing a trade without a piece of paper called a “license” could not be a crime, because it was not aggression against anyone. The fact that the “Royal College” had both King and Parliament backing it, being irrelevant. If this is a crime whose person or possessions has Mr Bonham attacked? He has attacked no one – so him not buying a “license” CAN NOT be a crime.

Ditto the “Stature of Labourers”, seeking to enforce serfdom, and a thousand other wicked, and unlawful, statutes of Parliament.

But it is more than this – the decline of the respect for Parliament, and there has been such a decline, has not led to the restoration of the principles of the Old Whigs – far from it.

The worship, and “worship” is the right word, has been transferred from Parliament and Congress, Prime Ministers and Presidents – to an ideal state, the public power, “the people” which will impose “Social Justice” (the opposite of real justice – to each their own). Modern “political philosophers” say that they DO believe in liberty, in freedom against elected politicians – but, it turns out, that their “rights” are like the “rights” of the French Revolution, under the mask of “freedom” terrible tyranny, plundering and murder. The words “freedom” and “liberty” chanted endlessly – but divorced from their foundations.

When American judges, and the university class generally- the Harvard Law School, the Imperial German loving Johns Hopkins, the Frankfurt School of Marxism Columbia and on and on, first started to turn against the Old Whig principles of the Founding Fathers they first held that rights and natural law were nonsense (perhaps nonsense “on stilts”) – beasts such as “Justice” O.W. Holmes jr were open friends of Harold Laski and other totalitarians, they held (Buck V Bell) that a screaming woman, who had committed no crime, could be held down and cut up by the servants of the state – because they judged her to be “inferior”. But at least such beasts did not pretend to serve “freedom” “liberty” – they were open followers of Thomas Hobbes and other such creatures.

This sort of “judge” did not, for example, in the gold confiscation and voiding of contracts cases of 1935, hold that they were serving “liberty” and “freedom” when they tore up the Constitution of the United States.

Today Blackstone may be discredited – few would pretend that Parliament, or any other institution of government can do anything it likes. But the Old Whig principles that he helped to undermine have not returned – instead the forces of evil (for that is what they are) have taken the words “freedom” and “liberty” for themselves, and use them to force politicians to expand statism (tyranny) even when they do not wish to do so.

The book shelves groan with books on legal thought that seek to twist the concept of liberty 180 degrees – using it as a justification to destroy liberty, to expand the size and scope of government. The “intellectuals” can get away with this because the old principles have been forgotten – even the very word “right” is no longer understood to be a limitation on government power (under the natural law principle of to each their own – as the late Ayn Rand put it “hands off”), rather a “right” is now seen as an invitation for government to intervene – to enforce “anti discrimination” doctrine (that to “discriminate” is another way of describing freedom of choice, the right to associate or refuse association, is forgotten) and to give people their “rights” to goods and services at the FORCED expense of others.

This is because the old principles are out of sight and forgotten – and, however good his intentions may have been, Sir William Blackstone was one of the people who started to bury them.

The West, not just the United States, faces an Obama crises in 2015 and 2016 – what can be done?

The years 2015 and 2016 , and onward, will see something of a perfect storm – a perfect Barack Obama storm, not just for the United States but for the whole Western World.

“Oh Paul is going to go on one of his Chicken Little “the sky is falling” credit-bubble-is-about-bust things”.

O.K. let us ignore the credit bubble – although it must burst one day, and when it does burst the world economy will come crashing down. Hint – do not be near any city dependent on banking and so on, such as New York, when this happens.

There are many other things that are going to happen, on clear dates.

For example more and more of “Obamacare” is coming into effect, based on the lies of Johnathan Gruber and other Obama employees. These costs will massively undermine American industry in 2015 and 2016 and when the United States catches a cold the rest of the West comes down with influenza.

Also Mr Obama, and co, is pushing increased State and Federal minimum wage edicts. Which, whatever phony “empirical studies” say, greatly increase unemployment – even if it is hidden by people no longer looking for work. The work participation rate is already at a low level in the United States, but this does show up in the official unemployment rate, in fact it masks it.

Mr Obama is also going to, illegally and unconstitutionally, “legalise” millions of illegal SOCIAL JUSTICE immigrants to act as part of his private army to “fundamentally transform” America. Sorry “free migration” fans – but it is not an automatically good thing to let people into the gates or stay within the gates, not if they want to help “transform” the city by burning it to the ground in the name of “Social Justice”.

Mr Obama is also going to use the unconstitutional powers of the EPA to continue to attack American industry – he has agreed with the Chinese regime to cut American C02 production by 28%. Not by deregulating nuclear power, which is massively overregulated by endless red tape that does NOT improve safety, but by crucifying American industry with high energy costs, destroying the relatively low energy costs that have maintained some American industries thus far.

And China has agreed to? China has agreed to NOTHING – this deal with China is nothing to do with reducing world C02 emissions. It is an illegal and unconstitutional agreement motivated by a deep hatred of the United States and the West generally – not just a hatred from the People’s Republic of China regime, but a hatred from Mr Barack Obama himself.

President Barack Obama is also continuing to destroy the United States armed forces – basically doing to the American military what Wilson and Healey did to the British armed forces in the 1960s. Soon the U.S. Navy, and so on, will be at 1930s levels.

This is at a time when the Chinese armed forces are vastly improving and the PRC regime is making endless new claims on lands and seas in Asia and the Pacific – places that have nothing to do with China are being declared “always part of China”.

The nations of Asia and the Pacific can not stand against the increasing military might of the PRC regime – especially as it is allied to Mr Putin’s Russia and the soon to be nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran regime.

And neither can anywhere else stand up to the alliance of China and Russia – with the Iranian regime tagging along behind, in its own vicious way.

The only force on the planet that might have deterred the alliance between Putin’s Russia and the PRC is the United States Armed Forces – the very force that is being undermined by President Barack Obama.

The same President Barack Obama who is going to destroy the American economy in 2015 and 2016 – for example in the ways described above, but, no doubt, in other ways also.

What can be done?

Do not talk to me about “impeachment” – it is impossible to get two thirds of the U.S. Senate to vote guilty in relation to Mr Obama – regardless of how obvious his treason is. At least a third of the Senate will support Barack Obama – regardless.

So what can be done?

I DO NOT KNOW – that is why I am asking you.

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