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George Carty
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From Arse To Elbow: "Broadly, growth is driven by productivity (which in turn is largely driven by technology) and/or population increase. The latter can be organic (a high birth rate), but that tends to undermine productivity (women removed from the labour pool), so the most reliable method to maximise growth is immigration." Surely the standard of living is determined by GDP per capita, not total GDP? Immigration would only help here if it was done according to a points system to ensure that the immigrants were more productive on average than the native population. And even that wouldn't be a solution to anti-immigrant hostility -- disproportionately-successful minorities (such as Jews in old Europe, or Chinese in much of East Asia) are often specifically targeted for that very reason! Blissex: "So far no fuel cheaper and more energy dense than oil has been discovered" Actually we already have three fuels with an energy density _thousands_ of times greater than that of oil or any other puny chemical fuels: uranium-235, plutonium-239 and uranium-233. The first of these occurs naturally, while the others are manufactured from uranium-238 and thorium respectively. The problem is not that we lack a superior fuel, but that oil has fabulously enriched a rentier elite as coal never could, both because it is more plentiful and because of the labour required to mine it. This rentier elite has suppressed the use of nuclear energy by various means: funding scaremongering propaganda (look at where the money came from to found Friends of the Earth, or how the Sierra Club got so big in a pre-nuclear world), bribing politicians (including Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Bettino Craxi of Italy, and Gerhard Schröder of Germany) and promulgating a fantasy future where every household generates its own energy using solar and/or wind power. This latter point is especially effective because nuclear energy cannot be used in small, lightweight engines of the type that ordinary individuals might control (because its use emits deadly neutron radiation that requires many tons of shielding to stop).
Blissex: « Indeed: the great novelty of the June 2016 vote was that a large chunk of the left-behind working class voted for "Leave", mostly because of immigration and competition for jobs and housing in the south-east and London. » Doesn't ring true to me -- most Leave-voting types are very parochial and wouldn't want to move to another part of the country in search of work. In fact the older ones may well have been motivated by resentment that so many of their offspring were moving away! Blissex: « The flood that won "Leave" was that of very "biddable" low-wage workers form eastern Europe, because the "left behind" areas of the UK added their votes to the right-wing cranks who were aghast that bloody foreigners did not have to beg for a work permit because of the EU treaties, insolently behaving as if they really had a right to work and live in England. » My impression is that most of the really nasty xenophobia in the run-up to the referendum was directed not against EU27 nationals, but against Muslims in general and Syrian refugees in particular.
Blissex: "But sometimes I suspect that there is a much better/worse policy goal: oil supply seems to have reached a plateau worldwide, meaning that increased in demand would make prices rise a lot, and thus a permanent recession in the advanced economies is needed to moderate the pricing power of oil exporters." Surely this would only make sense if there was a very strong correlation between household income and household oil consumption? Given that oil (as opposed to coal and gas) is used overwhelmingly for transportation, I'd expect that providing more affordable housing in city centre locations (from where commuting to work by car is unnecessary) would be far more effective in reducing oil consumption that generally suppressing incomes would be. So why did New Labour (which at least initially was hostile to car culture – note the fuel duty protest movement of 2000) not reverse Thatcher's pro-landowner housing policies to make this possible? Or was the popular appeal of the ex-urban car-oriented way of life just too strong? Metatone suggests that envy of the USA and other sparsely-populated New World English-speaking countries may have been a key cultural root of Brexit: Or alternatively, was the "curb household incomes to reduce oil consumption" policy more about a belief that households would spend a large proportion of their discretionary income on foreign holidays (and therefore on flying)? That has my thinking of George Monbiot anti-aviation stance...
Toggle Commented May 28, 2018 on Does economics matter? at Stumbling and Mumbling
Could it be the very proliferation of channels made possible by satellite and later digital technology that cause the quality of TV to decline so much, because the limited amount of time available to TV viewers (even when assisted by VHS and later DVR recording) means that a similarly-sized pot of revenue (from the TV licence fee for BBC, or from advertising for commercial TV) was now split among a considerably larger number of channels? This probably also explains the increasing prominence of reality dross, as that comes with additional revenue stream (in the form of phone-in voting) which can be used to subsidize other programming...
Likud is certainly "right wing" (as opposed to merely "centre right") but is it really reasonable to call it "far-right"? Surely the true "far-right" in Israel are the factions who want the whole of Mandate Palestine cleansed of Arabs: the Kahanists et al?
Ralph, if immigration was the cause of high house prices then we would have seen collapses in house prices in the places where the immigrants came from that didn't happen.
Dipper, It is the Single Market that requires Freedom of Movement, not the Customs Union.
I'm sure that one reason why Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe is because rents are government-regulated there much as they were in pre-Thatcher Britain. This means that spare capital gets productively invested in industry rather than wasted in useless bidding wars over desirable locations. What the PIIGS countries ought to have done was to hike property taxes during the '00s, then German money wouldn't have flooded into their real estate and thus destroyed the competitiveness of those countries.
9/11 was key to the final downfall of Concorde, both because several of Concorde's most loyal customers died in the attacks, and also because the increased security measures which resulted eroded Concorde's time advantages over private jets. Private jets weren't affected by the new security measures, could be rented for a price comparable to that of a Concorde flight, and were (most importantly to wealthy people who place a high value on their time) were available on-demand rather than adhering to a fixed schedule. The first French nuclear power stations used UNGG reactors which (like the British Magnox reactors) were graphite-moderated, CO2-cooled reactors running on natural uranium. In both cases, the American monopoly then existing on uranium enrichment technology was a key driver in the choice of technology, plus perhaps also the hope that a single reactor design could be used to produce both electrical power and weapons-grade plutonium. However, the American PWR technology was inherently far simpler than graphite-moderated designs, and was able to achieve vast economies of scale due to the US Navy's use of nuclear power in submarines and aircraft carriers. The French saw the writing on the wall and decided (when planning their big nuclear build-out in the '70s) to dump their own reactor designs and used standardized versions of American technology, while Britain hoped it could make graphite-moderated technology competitive. The AGR operated at a higher temperature than PWRs (which not only improved its thermodynamic efficiency but also made it possible to use existing turbomachinery designed for coal-fired power stations), but its efficiency advantages couldn't overcome its far higher capital and decommissioning costs. Interestingly, the British and French policies with respect to nuclear energy were pretty much the opposite of their policies with respect to foreign and military policy: the French embraced America while the Brits kept their distance!
Toggle Commented Dec 14, 2017 on On technological regress at Stumbling and Mumbling
We'll never be like America, because America is America largely thanks to its vast open spaces and natural resources. However, the infatuation that many Brits (especially less-educated ones -- the highly educated look more to Europe) have with American culture may have gone some way to explaining the Brexit vote. Incidentally, what could be done to cultivate a more "yankee" attitude in Britain, given that I suspect that this is better for productivity and innovation than either the "cavalier" or "Nordic" models?
Toggle Commented Nov 27, 2017 on The rich as heroes at Stumbling and Mumbling
gastro george, actually it looks like Dipper's obsession is overpopulation rather than foreigners per se.
Toggle Commented Oct 25, 2017 on Brexit & risk attitudes at Stumbling and Mumbling
@From Arse To Elbow The fact that the population changed from Remain-majority to Leave-majority at approximately 45 would seem to be yet another piece of evidence consistent with your "Phone Home" hypothesis: that resentment over youth flight was a key driver of support for Brexit! Since it was mostly less-educated people (most of whom will have married and had children in their twenties people with university education marry later, but also tend to be mostly Remain voters anyway), the critical age of 45 more-or-less corresponds to the age when the children of such people are leaving school and possibly thinking that they'll have to move away to find decent employment. And perhaps the trauma of losing family members to migration (coupled with the fact that they live in economically decrepit small towns with few social activities available due to lack of local spending power) may even have screwed up their neurochemistry to the point that are more likely to make irrational decisions like voting for Brexit.
Toggle Commented Oct 25, 2017 on Brexit & risk attitudes at Stumbling and Mumbling
Daniel, do you think that perhaps the European refugee crisis helped foment a Malthusian atmosphere in the UK that helped bring about Brexit, just as the malnutrition suffered by the Germans during World War I (as a result of the British naval blockade) was key to the rise of Nazism?
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2017 on Brexit & risk attitudes at Stumbling and Mumbling
High housing costs also encourage asset stripping, by creating windfall profits for those who convert commercial or industrial land (quite heavily taxed via business rates) into residential land (much more lightly taxed). This is the probable culprit behind the destruction of so many manufacturing SMEs in Britain.
"Or perhaps I’ve missed something." One big one -- which countries are you envisaging accepting as immigrants the approximately 90% of the UK population which would be surplus to requirements under a New Zealand model? Oh well, at least it confirms my suspicion about why the Brexiteers are so obsessed with Australia, New Zealand and Canada! They're not seen as potential trading partners, but as Lebensraum where the excess population of the overpopulated UK can be resettled.
« What I mean is that many political issues are matters of degree: more or less government, more or less equality, more or less freedom and so on. Politics is then a matter of tweaking dials a little. Brexit, though, is different. It’s a binary issue: in or out. » Isn't there also a continuum of positions regarding Britain-Europe relations though: 0. Republic of Europe (unitary state) 1. United States of Europe (federal state) 2. Join Schengen and the euro 3. Join Schengen but keep the pound 4. Status quo ante referendum 5. Brexit in name only (stay in single market and customs union) 6. Stay in the single market and retain FoM, leave the customs union (Norway model) 7a. Leave the single market and end FoM, stay in the customs union (Turkey model) 7b. Leave the single market and customs union, retain FoM (Socialist Worker model) 8. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, free trade agreement with the EU 9. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, trade under WTO rules 10. Leave single market and customs union, end FoM, leave the WTO
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2017 on My Brexit dilemma at Stumbling and Mumbling
Scratch, IIRC pensioners only count as group E if they have no private pension arrangements and rely solely on the state pension.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2017 on The changing class divide at Stumbling and Mumbling
Hard Brexit will doom Britain, as most of our Mittelstand-equivalent firms were destroyed from 1980 onwards by asset strippers, who closed them down in order to sell off their sites for housing (in Germany this didn't happen as rent controls and mortgage lending restrictions weren't lifted there, meaning that residential land prices didn't rocket as they did in the UK). This made us heavily dependent on multinational corporations for employment, and why the hell would they continue to produce in a UK that is no longer part of the European Single Market? Most of them enjoy such economies of scale that they only need at most three factories in the entire world (one in the Americas, one in Europe and another in East Asia). I don't think any Leavers seriously expect to restore the Empire they just fail to realize that the UK market alone is way too small to support contemporary industrial enterprises If you want to know what an isolationist national economy looks like, look at North Korea!
So if the working-class Brexiters want to make us more like the old DDR (who cares about freedom to travel or the fact that all the stuff in the shops is crap, as long sas I've got a job for life and a good pension) the wealthy ones want to make us more like a 21st-century version of Tokugawa Japan?
Or to be even more accurate, most of what you are buying is *location*.
Keith, The problem is that we live in a gerontocracy where the pensioner vote typically decides elections (note how they have been protected by the "triple lock" while working-age benefit claimants have been hammered). And pensioners want to protect their streams of rentier income at the expense of the real economy.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2017 on The case for privatization at Stumbling and Mumbling
@aragon The real basis of social conservatism in the United States (and possibly also in the UK -- check out "Phone Home" on the From Arse to Elbow blog) is the notion of the "inherited obligation family" identified by Doug Muder: "If my daughter goes to college, and my son decides he's gay and moves to the city, who’s going to look after me when my job finally wrecks my back and I can't work any more? I raised those kids, and they owe me — but those liberals are telling them they're 'free' to 'choose.' Likewise, if my sister leaves her abusive husband, the family's going to have to look after her and their kids. It’s a burden we'll bear, but it's better for everyone in the long run if they can stick to their vows and work it out. If the county opens a shelter and gives her an out, she won’t have the incentive to suck it up and do the right thing by the rest of us."
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2017 on How lies work at Stumbling and Mumbling
What can be done about the electoral tyranny of the MEWing and BTLing minority that Blissex is always banging on about? Sounds like a good argument for PR.
@ Dipper "The EU exists to solve a particular problem, which is to prevent war between nations in Europe. The way they are doing this is by abolishing nations in Europe. This may be the right thing to do in Europe, but it isn't addressing a British need." Haven't European wars also been very costly to Britain though (from the War of the Spanish Succession through the Napoleonic Wars to World Wars I and II)? And since you (unlike a lot of Brexiters) don't seem to object to the EU's existence, couldn't it be argued that Brexit runs counter to the centuries-old British foreign policy dictum "don't let the Continent unite against us"? "Consequently British needs are not considered or catered for at all by the EU, and we had no effective influence on those institutions you name as they were collectively not concerned with our issues." Any good examples of this _not_ connected to migration? "The biggest example of this is the expected population growth which is equivalent to gaining two Londons in thirty five years (although only just over one is due to immigration). If we voted to remain there was absolutely nothing we could do about a massive increase in our population, and this increase is not to address any problem we have, but to enable the continent to solve its own inability to provide work for its young people." Since you yourself admit that almost half of our population increase is natural rather than due to immigration (from inside or outside the EU) do you believe that also needs to be limited somehow (and if so, then how)? Or do you desire (as some Brexiteers seem to) to replace free movement within the EU with free movement within the white Commonwealth, so that Australia, New Zealand and Canada can revert to their traditional role as the UK's overseas Lebensraum? "We have far more chance of influencing those institutions by being outside them than we have by being in them, as now they have to explicitly consider the fact that the UK has freedom of action when making decisions that affect us and there are consequences to their decisions." That may have been the case were it not for the facts that: a) many EU countries are already pissed off at the UK for demanding so many special privileges in the past (the Thatcher rebate, formal exemption from the Euro, exemption from Schengen), and b) many EU governments will want to make an example of the UK to deter their own electorates from electing far-right anti-EU parties (such as the Front National in France, the PVV in the Netherlands, or the AfD in Germany).
Toggle Commented Nov 30, 2016 on Criminally stupid at Stumbling and Mumbling
How many people on the Western political right genuinely admired right-wing tyrannies such as Pinochet's Chile or Apartheid South Africa, and how many supported them purely because they thought the alternative was Marxist (even pro-Soviet) rule? After all Pinochet overthrew an actual Marxist government (the first such government in the world to be democratically elected), and the ANC was also strongly Marxist in its politics (perhaps because of the Apartheid regime's unwillingness to compromise, and/or because South Africa's mining-dominated economy was very amenable to state control).
Toggle Commented Oct 21, 2016 on The freedom-hating right at Stumbling and Mumbling