There are 3 essays on this page, which were published earlier, including:
- Libertarian Essay Number 1
- Competition Essay
- Scottish Referendum
Libertarian Essay Number 1
Mercifully I am released from party politics no place for non conformists or those with serious conviction, I knew my days with UKIP were numbered when I heard the phrase 'we cannot sell that on the doorstep'. This from a party which came to prominence by being different, a cavaliers ' approach to political correctness,disdain for the metropolitan press elite. The party has now abandoned any pretence at libertarianism.Ask the leadership for a view on fractional reserve banking, hard currency, legal tender laws,regulation, central banks, QE,market interest rates etc. The response will be ' er kick out Johnny Foreigner Drinks all round!' James Delingpole correctly label UKIP as Liberal Democrats with a Eurosceptic bias. Last year I gave a lecture to the Institute of Economic Affairs predicting a lost opportunity in politics, I did not want to be proven right. Having said that they are streets ahead of the other lot who would like a political commissar in every parish. A wonderful opportunity has arisen though , freed from party political work to get on with more important matters.Not the least of which was completing Gibbon's Decline and Fall. This provoked some research outside my usual sphere of economics and military history. I also found time for a few holidays . On with the fell boots and away on creaky knees to the Welsh and Cumbrian mountains. From the peaks we could see that testimony to man's folly offshore wind turbines, too many to count.
This came as a shock as we live in rural East Yorkshire , the scale overwhelmed us. There is no serious economic or scientific assessment which has not condemned this crony capitalistic scam, exposed by no less than the retired chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder by this , whose country is so threatened by this 'green' absurdity. But I wanted to dig deeper, none of this is new.Any horny handed son of the soil at my local pub is on to the wind scam,yet now they see landowners add to their monstrous single farm payment rent for pipelines to carry CO2 out to sea whilst their neighbours growing tomatoes and cucumbers buy machines to manufacture it to assist production.The local power station,Drax, burn wood chippings from Canada and local grass which takes thousands of acres out of food production. Old age pensioners struggle by on a pittance in the local towns and the greenies claim the moral high ground! So where does Gibbon come into all this? Well I have been investigating the conversion of Constantine , the emergence of Jerome, St Augustine and Ambrose. These early Christians craved martyrdom, the equivalent of a second baptism ,fully atoning for past sins,a gateway to paradise if you will. Notwithstanding we now live , at least in the west, in a secular society martyrdom is obviously something some members of humankind need. The paradox is the modern greenie is always well heeled. Mummy and daddy are often loaded so offsprings Barnaby and Polly can sail around the world on the Greenpeace yacht with none of the angst they would feel on uncle Ted' s boat in the Med. Ironically this modern martyrdom is pain free to them,those who suffer are the poor who cannot afford electricity or food and have seen their jobs go to the Far East. If you doubt me check " athletes of god" . Particularly the Stylites who lived in the Eastern Empire in the Fifth century they lived on top of poles! There were Holy Fools who rejected normal social conventions and behaved as though they were insane. These ascetic ideals are difficult for most of us to understand as we live lives of quiet desperation under the iron heel of the state. But these people are today a strong political force albeit small in number. As ever their counter party the crony capitalist hovers like the Griffin Vulture ready to gorge on the carcass. Even the Holy Fool and his money are soon parted.
Let us assume for the purpose of argument we were hosting a competent, experienced management consultant from another galaxy with an in depth knowledge of planet earth’s economic history. He has, of course, no cronies, no axe to grind, he is dispassionate, he is most certainly not an intellectual or academic. He is not part of any political dogma or machine. He has no cronies and no personal financial interest. Indeed he returns to his own galaxy on completion of his report. What would this ice-cold individual recommend driven by pure common sense?
I believe he would summarise the industrial economies of planet earth very simply. ‘Government is your problem not your solution’. The United Kingdom is an ideal example but much the same could be deduced from any European or American economy to a greater or lesser extent.
What is the role of government? At the beginning of the second British industrial revolution, at the risk of being mildly over simplistic, one could argue it was defence of the realm and keeper of the Queen’s peace. There were many other secondary minor roles, the main understanding of the responsibility was generally accepted. Taxes were raised to maintain a navy to protect trade and an army to keep a European balance of power. Borders were open, passports were non existent, revenue was, by modern standards a very small percentage of GDP. (Incidentally GDP is a very poor reflection of an economy but here is not the place to expose its frailties).
The second industrial revolution, arguably the period between 1815 and 1913 was a direct result of the enormous strides made in technical innovation. The advances were not peculiar to the United Kingdom. France enjoyed its ‘Belle Epoch’ and the United States was emerging as a major industrial power as was the new united Germany. Although major advances in medical science came later and social deprivation was rife, life for the average British subject improved dramatically over that one hundred year period. There were social advances promulgated by the great philanthropists of the age, Titus Salt, Cadbury and Rowntree. Some of the great societies came of age The Royal Society, Geographical Society, various medical institutions, particularly the great teaching hospitals. There was the birth of a Police Authority whose mission statement was the prevention of crime. Indeed the Victorian age was a testament to man’s initiative, certainly not government’s.
What else facilitated this unprecedented advance by humankind on this small island? Perhaps the most important catalyst for this was sound money. The British formally adopted the gold standard post Napoleonic Wars. The gold standard simply prohibits governments from degrading the currency. Victorians understood, unlike their successors in the 20th Century that money is a medium of exchange. It is not wealth in its own right. Interest rates therefore reflect the true cost of money. Governments could not over borrow or ‘print’ money. The concept of ‘time preference’ was the cornerstone of the medium of exchange. This stability ofmoney meant that the staple diet of the common man remained constant for nearly ninety years. A phenomenon inconceivable to 21st Century man. This meant that the massive advances in science and technical methods of production were passed straight to the citizen. Thrift was rewarded, the individual could make provision for his family. The equation should be how far did man progress in relative terms from 1815 to 1915 to 1915 to 2015. Why in the last seventy years has the national debt exploded to totally un-repayable levels yet the nation has been at peace and significant scientific advances continue to be made. Why in the last ten years has the advance in living standards of the ordinary family stagnated?
Let us examine for a moment the extraordinary expansion of the role of government much of which is relatively recent. Perhaps one might pause here for reflection on political systems. Two main political systems of the twentieth century have been communism (the ownership of production) and Fascism (the control of production). Incidentally too many commentators on the political scene use the term fascist in a simply pejorative and abusive term not as an established system of government for better or worse. Such people usually expose their lack of a traditional education. Both systems failed abysmally and are no longer expounded by politicians seeking election. Yet, paradoxically these systems live on. They are alive today in Europe.
Today politicians advocate a ‘mixed economy’. What does that mean? Well, in the words of Lewis Carroll its whatever they want it to mean. To use an old fashioned term the United Kingdom today has a mercantile system, in modern parlance ‘crony capitalism’. It is desperately unfashionable in academic circles to point out that no European or North American economy has been run on laissez-faire capitalism for over 80 years. The only pocket of real capitalism was post war Hong Kong. Perhaps the most successful economy since the renaissance city states. Observe if you will the support of this view to our intergalactic consultant. In the UK the following dynamics are controlled by government, much but not all significantly from the European Union. Energy, agriculture, fishing, employment legislation, health and safety, food labeling, transport, national health, education, the list is endless. Indeed it is difficult to find any aspect of our lives not controlled by government through some form of enforcement agency. Often using regulation in direct contradiction of the principles of English law.
Reflected in this, no surprise, is that the level of government spending is completely out of control. 50% of GDP and rising.Tax is stifling the economy, borrowing is increasing at an alarming rate and the national debt has increased by 50% in the last five years. To fill the gap the government has printed £350 billion resulting in asset price inflation which amongst other things means our children and grandchildren cannot pursue a career in the nation’s capital. Paris and New York are equally unaffordable where the same systems of government apply.
Manic knee jerk government responses to every fiasco major or minor result in another crisis popping up the following year. Does anyone seriously think the banking crisis has gone away? So what practical things can be done to restore prosperity, advancement and happiness to deserving members of society?
Remove regulation on a gigantic scale. We have in the UK a world renowned and admired system of law, developed over hundreds of years. Let the law of contract reign without interference of political self seeking journeymen keen for short term popularity with their support base. Abandon social and corporate welfare, the source of the demise of industrial democracies in Western Europe and America. Facilitate the growth in businesses, especially small businesses, close down the town halls and their jobsworth bomb proof executives on salaries completely disproportionate to their abilities. Abandon the obscene amounts of money wasted daily. £1 billion per month on fake charities, £4 billion per month on quangoes, £1 billion on ‘foreign aid’. None of this has even been touched in the fake austerity ‘cuts’.
Return to hard money, outlaw fractional reserve banking, revoke the legal currency laws which line the pockets of politicians and their cronies. Introduce a limit on government spending to a percentage of GDP (or a better measure to be discussed).
This would slash what makes people unhappy i.e. unaffordable beer, petrol, cars or caravans, failed road systems, massive deductions from their wage packets. Make saving for the future worthwhile.
It is an interesting phenomenon that in most surveys people were happier in the 1950s than more recent years. Material wealth was significantly less, so we must look further than just money. Murder rates were much lower as were crimes of violence. The family was accepted as the foremost unit of society. People respond to responsibility. Beveridge was a safety net. Welfare was not nor would it allowed to have been a lifestyle choice. Alcohol for most was a social experience in pubs and clubs. Low strength drinks were relatively inexpensive.
Ridiculous government initiatives make binge drinking amongst the young more likely as the cost of visiting the pub increases yet alcohol in supermarkets is cheap. Remove the tax assault on public houses and reintroduce drinking as a social pastime. Why do young people turn to drugs? What educational and social abandonment turn them to such despair? What madness to give fit young people money to not work. Government enforced minimum wages fuel youth unemployment. Germany has the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe with no minimum wage.
Every economic or social mores is government inspired. Sadly as things get worse there is a call for more not less state interference. Let journalists and academics start learning a new question, “Is this the role of government?” The answer 99% of the time is a resounding no.
Let me flag up immediately I am one sixteenth Scottish, John Bruce came down in the ‘45 and presumably went on to London rather than face the wrath of the Duke of Cumberland in the Glens. An antecedent married a Mills who married a Bloom and bingo here I am.
I was also, to my knowledge, the only sitting British MP or MEP with Native American blood but that is another story. So I understand the deep feeling that the Scots have for independence. It is perfectly natural and I get increasingly annoyed when I hear placemen under instructions from No 10 Downing Street pretending it is somehow impossible.
Of course, Scotland could function perfectly well as an independent state, infinitely better suited, or could be, than Ireland. However there are many caveats, they need examining honestly without hysteria or emotion.
The referendum itself must be extended to all Scotsmen and women, and not just those with a Scottish postal code. Scots in the professions and industry are to be found in all corners of the globe, I would have thought it would be relatively easy to register those born in Scotland for a postal vote. I suspect this has not been done for political reasons, most of my Scottish friends are professional men and women who abhor the very idea of an ‘independent’ Scotland. It must surely be unjustifiable for a newcomer from Latvia or Poland voting and a Scottish doctor practicing in Newcastle disenfranchised.
My English friends in Scotland are voting nationalist as indeed would many other English in the United Kingdom if they were given a say. Incidentally there is a strong case for that option. There is a growing opinion south of the border the Scots are a financial liability and should go their own way.
One of the reasons the Scots as a nation have punched above their weight globally for hundreds of years has been the amicable and voluntary union with its more powerful southern neighbour. Soldiers, engineers and entrepreneurs of Scottish birth are world renowned. This is obvious today as the Scottish state education system has been dumbed down to English standards and most youngsters north of the border think Brave Heart is a documentary.
What of the practicalities? Because politicians do not understand currencies a totally spurious debate has been allowed to develop about Scotland keeping the pound or adopting the Euro. This is irrelevant. Currency is simply a medium of exchange. All a Scottish Parliament needs to do is revoke legal tender, a concept designed solely for the state to steal citizens’ money, and announce either shopkeeper, providers of services or goods or merchant may receive settlement in any currency agreed between the parties under liberty of contract under Scottish Law.
Better still they could adopt a commodity currency of their own, the Scottish pound which would soon become a respected safe haven currency as was the Swiss Franc before it was betrayed, or indeed the Singapore Dollar. Only better because it could be backed by gold or silver. They could outlaw fractional reserve banking, the culprit for the demise of Scottish retail banking, explain to the world that they at least have learned their lesson. Scottish financial services in Edinburgh have enough expertise still to make ‘Charlotte Square’ a world player.
For Scotland to survive as a free nation and not slip into third world status and endure an exodus of their brightest and best they need to bite the bullet on welfare, the greatest enemy of the Scottish people. The nation has prospered on a Presbyterian work ethic and a well educated middle class. Welfarism, social and corporate, is the death of any nation but it is Scotland’s greatest foe. The Scottish Parliament must, if necessary, visit the Iberian Peninsula en masse, or be hosted by Gerhard Schroder, Germany’s former chancellor and understand the appalling damage wind energy has done to their economies. Scots must understand that people come from all over the world to see the most glorious countryside. They do not expect it to be industrialized to no purpose.
The Scottish electorate need to be more discerning in whom they elect. The tram system in Edinburgh could have been designed by the Marx Brothers and costed by the Prince Regent. For those unfamiliar with this debacle any Ould Reekie cabbie will give you chapter and verse.
Lastly, let us have some intellectual honesty. It is simply absurd to want independence and remain part of the European Union as it is currently constructed. Independence means the laws are made in Edinburgh by elected parliamentarians. The final court of appeal is in Edinburgh not medieval cities on the Franco German border.
An independent Scotland could have a very bright future indeed, but not the way it is being put forward at this referendum.
Godfrey Bloom, former MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire