To Enrich the Few

The lobby groups are marshaling the great and the good to speak up against a financial transaction tax in the European Union. Eleven of the twenty seven member states think a financial transaction tax is a good thing, but the rest are either undecided or are opposed to it. Britain is opposed, fearing the tax, which would be levied on trades in bonds, currencies and shares, will damage its “banking” and financial markets. Continue reading

One Last Binge

According to the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat, the carbon dioxide emissions of the United Kingdom have increased from 2011 to 2012 by 3.9%. This increase has occurred despite all the wind turbines that have been installed, despite all the new cars that burn petrol and diesel more efficiently, despite all the PV panels installed and all the other froth and bubble that the UK government uses to try and stem the tide of greenhouse gases that its nation produces. Continue reading

Locked on the Horns of a Dilemma

Involving ourselves in the affairs of Afghanistan produces many dilemma and it is unsurprising when we found ourselves, like Phædrus locked on the horns of a dilemma. Continue reading

Environmental Trade Wars

The European Union and China are in dispute about photo-voltaic panels made in China and sold in the EU. The EU complains that the panels, which produce electricity during daylight, are being dumped ion the European market, being sold at prices that are significantly below cost and proposes to impose a duty of 47% on imported panels from China. China protests its innocence to the dumping charge and claims that any duty would hurt consumers. Continue reading

We deserve a break from his work

Mr Cameron has been criticised for going on holiday with his family at a time of great public emergency. We all need holidays but are not always in a position to take them.

I have no problem with Cameron taking a holiday. It probably signals that the terrorist threat to Britain is nowhere near as big as the media and politicians make out; if the Prime Minster can go to Ibiza on his holidays then the so called crisis can hardly justify calling up COBRA  and a red alert through these islands. The police handled the Woolwich incident well; let them stay in control and keep the security services out of it.

In fact, I would be very pleased if we had no security services. Better to let police work protect us than nameless secret agents. These real life James Bonds serve no useful purpose, as far as I can see, although they do consume huge amounts of public money. I would also stop spying on other nations and stop trying to infiltrate terrorist cells. The principles are simple; if someone breaks the law they should be prosecuted; if they do not break the law we should leave them alone. We best protect ourselves by enforcing the values of our society that we hold precious, not by deviating from what we hold dear in order to continue to enjoy what we hold dear.

Today is a public holiday in Britain, sometimes called Whitsun although it does not always fall on Whit Monday. I remember a bank holiday nearly fifty years ago. I spent it with a friend whose parents lived in Dagenham. On Whit Sunday we went on a twenty eight mile walk for charity, which was tiring but not such hard work. On Whit Monday my friend and I both pushed ice cream carts around Dagenham selling ice cream door to door. It was very hot. We sold out. Between the walk and the ice cream selling I read James Bond books in my friend’s house while the house slept. Even in those days I preferred reading to sleeping.

I never forgot where I first read James Bond, but forgot the twenty eight mile walk and the ice cream selling until for some reason Mr Cameron’s Whit break triggered the memories. Let him enjoy is coffee in the Mediterranean sunshine; I do not know if he deserves his break from work but certainly the nation deserves a break from his work.

Don’t Panic…

…and keep your mind at peace. The terrible events in Woolwich do not require the convening of special committees of the government to plot a counter strategy to terrorism. We do not have to be suspicious of every idea that “deviates” from the norm, nor do we have to be frightened of every brow face or assault those whose only connection with the murderers of a young soldier is the colour of their skin or the single name they attribute t their separate religions.

The Communications Data Bill

In small communities people know what is going on. In a small village you rapidly learn who is good and who is bad, who is trustworthy and who is not; you also know, by gossip and observation who is unfaithful and who is unreliable. In a small very town nation you also know most of these things, but as the geographical circle widens so you are exposed to more people and know less about them. We now live in very complex societies where even if you live in a small village you are bound to come into contact with multinational companies in one way or another, and you need to know, not just your local mayor or chief of the village, but also the thousands of politicians that crave your votes, telling you that they want to improve your life.

We handle our knowledge, or lack of it, through the use of the internet and through the use of sophisticated news reporting and information sharing. However there is so much to know that you cannot get all the knowledge and asking someone on the internet is not as reliable as asking someone in a village, because usually you know how far to trust a fellow villager, and that village has to come into frequent contact with you. You mostly have no idea about whether the information you can get on the internet, including information on this blog, is reliable and true.

That problem faces every organisation as well as every person. The usual official answer to this problem by the government is to set up a system under which its forces of law and order can intercept communications to gain information and to rely on spies and informers. Hitler did this, having a network of people who reported any malfeasance, and Lenin and Stalin did this too, sending millions to prison without trial in the most cruel conditions imaginable.

If any of these undesirable politicians were running a nation today he would doubtless obtain powers to monitor the use of citizens of the internet, to see what they are looking at, and to read emails that people send to each other. The would probably come up with a piece of legislation as the Communications Data Bill, which would provide the government with all the powers it needs, were the bill to be enacted. After the dreadful slaying of a soldier in Woolwich there are calls to bring the bill into law. Somehow, the authorities seem to think, that such a law would help them in their desire to protect us from terrorism.

In truth we are in very little danger from terrorist attacks today in the developed world. The forces of law and order have reasonable control and in events of last Thursday are fortunately very rare. We are in danger of sacrificing our freedom. Each year more laws are enacted which curtail our freedom; each year the judicial system becomes less tolerant of acquitting those you may possibly be innocent and more tolerant of convicting those who may possibly be guilty.

Perhaps as a society we have passed the high water mark of freedom and now have to watch the tide roll out taking many of our precious liberties with it.