July 2010

31 July 2010
If there's one issue with which I disagree with the great Leslie Charteris (creator of the Saint and thus inspiration behind the great TV series of the same name that starred Roger Moore) it is his loathing of blackmail. Here is Walter Block, in an extract from his wonderful Defending the Undefendable, explaining why Charteris was wrong.

When BP turned over $20bn to the US government some (including me) thought it was an appalling example of extortion. Randall Holcombe thinks it might have been a rather good piece of business

After the Sherrod and New Black Panther affairs, one question: when was the last time the US federal government was this racist? I'm thinking Woodrow Wilson here but anyone got any better ideas?

28 July 2010
I've noticed recently that when I surf over to the Telegraph comment page the first thing I do is have a look at the blogs. I hardly ever bother with the op-ed pieces. Why is this? Well, of course, it is because I find the blogs interesting and the traditional op-ed pieces boring. But why is that?

22 July 2010
Crash-avoiding car crashes

Regular viewers of Top Gear will already have seen this but it’s still hilarious.

19 July 2010
Unemployment then and now

In the early 1980s unemployment was concentrated in formerly industrial areas - former steel towns, former mining villages, those sort of places.  Although governments were careful to get rid of actual dole queues any television crew worth its salt could easily find a scene of decay to illustrate the problem.  Such scenes were endlessly repeated on the television with the result that unemployment became a huge political issue.

In the current depression it seems to me that unemployment is much more dispersed.  It is therefore harder to visualise and less likely to be such a huge political issue.

This is probably a good thing as it means that governments will be less scared of the inevitable increases in unemployment that will come when they start to introduce the right sorts of policies.

09 July 2010
What’s wrong with this graph?

This came to me in an email from the Tax Payers’ Alliance referencing this report (the graphic is on page 11).

I do hate it when ideological friends make such elementary errors.

Mind you, it does beg the question: what would I do?  Of course, in Patrick Crozier’s nirvana all roads would be privately owned and whatever rules there were would be up to the owners of those roads.  But what would those rules be likely to be?  I have this awful feeling that they wouldn’t be all that different.  If I owned a road I would like it to be fast - happier customers - but what I would really like it to be is safe - more crashes, less use, lower revenue.

I see there's going to be a spy swap.

It's that word "swap" I find interesting. It implies that what we're giving is broadly equivalent to what we're getting. In other words, those ever so paranoid Russian authorities and their kangaroo courts were right all along: those people they banged up were indeed spies and that the West is indeed spying on them.

08 July 2010
In defence of appeasement

Interesting article in (partial) support of appeasement by Paul Kennedy.  I have long thought that appeasement has had a bad press.  The point about 1930s appeasement is that it clarified the issue.  Had Britain fought in 1938 it would have done so divided.  When it did finally fight it did so united.

Kennedy, however, says something completely different.