I would think that the biggest danger of going on strike (beyond the lost income) would be that no one notices you are not working.  This seems to be a real danger faced by the writers, and an important reason why you will never see Congress go on strike.

Tim Harford\’s New Book

Over at Slate we have this:

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, traveled Europe as tutor to the Duke of Buccleugh. But despite his travels, Adam Smith never actually visited a pin factory. While sitting at home in Kirkcaldy and penning the most famous passage in economics, he was inspired by an entry in an encyclopedia. The passage is no less important for that.

Over at Lost Legacy we have this:

My question to the Undercover Economist is simple. ‘On what do you base your assertion that Adam Smith never visited a pin factory?’

You must have some evidence. It is important that you because it will have to be reconciled with the following extract of Adam Smith from Wealth Of Nations:

I have seen a small manufactory of this kind [the famous pin factory of 18 labourers from Diderot’s Enclyclopaedia on the same page] where ten only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations.” (WN I.i.3: 15)

As Gavin asks, relying upon Rothbard there, were we?

Tsk, I mean, really, Tsk!


Seumas Milne\’s Solution

This is really rather good actually:

Perhaps the best that can be hoped for in current circumstances is that Northern Rock is restored as the successful mutually-owned building society it was before the carpetbaggers arrrived.

And I\’ll have a pony while I\’m about it.

Of course, mutually owned means that the depositors own the business. So that if as and when there\’s a run on it, said depositors lose both their capital and their deposits. An excellent solution Seumas, quite excellent.

Democracy in the EU

This story has been around and about for a couple of days amongst the UKIP bloggers (Elaib and Trixie for example). Now Dan Hannan lays it out in The Telegraph. Quite simply, the EU Parliament doesn\’t even bother to follow its own rules when there is any opposition to the programme.

Dan suggests that we all start to use, as he does, the following phrase:

Yesterday, I spoke on agriculture, consumer protection, adult learning and the rights of the child and, each time, I finished with the words Pactio Olisipio censenda est: the Lisbon Treaty must be put to the vote…

Yes, of course it\’s an echo of Cato. But I have a better one.

Ceterum Censeo Unionem Europaeam Esse Delendam.

And therefore the European Union must be destroyed.

Cato\’s fellow senators would mock him. Sometimes, they would mimic his voice, sometimes shout him down. But you know what? In the end, they sacked Carthage.

Katherine Whitehorn

I used to love reading Katherine Whitehorn\’s pieces in The Observer: they rather made the paper for me. She\’s back standing in for Boris and is typically on the target.

No quotations, it\’s a great piece: two major points, one that I\’ve been known to bang on about. Everyone knows about economies of scale, far too few think about diseconomies of scale. The other is something that Chris Dillow has been known to bang on about: institutional memory.


Dear European Union

Please fuck right off.

Proposals, to be agreed by Baroness Scotland QC, the Attorney-General, at a meeting of EU justice ministers next week, enshrine "procedural" guidelines setting out the circumstances for quick extradition of people convicted in their absence.

A draft text, seen by The Daily Telegraph, notes that existing rules do not "deal consistently with the issue of judgments rendered in absentia". "This diversity complicates the work of the practitioner and hampers judicial co-operation," it states.

Human rights and civil liberties campaigners fear the new EU rules breach a fundamental principle of British justice: that defendants must have their day in court to defend themselves.

Britain does not convict people or hold trials in their absence but many EU countries, including Belgium, France, Spain Greece and Italy, do so on a regular basis.

No, not having this. It may be true that our Continental cousins are quite happy to bang someone up without hearing their side of the story, without even informing them that a trial is taking place. We do not do this and there is no way we should start to do so…nor allow and facilitate the banging up of Britons by said Continental cousins.

One of the first duties of the State is to protect the rights of the citizenry, this is an obvious breach of said rights.

Bugger off.

Rising Population

The only major industrial country with a fertility rate that replaces its own population is the US. It\’s just hit 2.1 per woman again, why?

Also, American men are more likely to share childcare duties.

So, note to all of those who concern themselves with rising population numbers, those who think it\’s a bad idea. People do respond rationally to incentives, so you should be campaigning for less paternal leave, less involvement of fathers in their childrens\’ care and quite possibly, less State provided child care.

That\’ll be amusing to watch, as those who do obsess about population tend to be those who obsess about gender equality as well.

So, No Collusion Then

Energy watchdog Ofgem has dismissed suggestions that the UK\’s six largest energy companies colluded to increase gas and electricity bills. The regulator has also demanded that those alleging price-fixing should produce the evidence.

They see large changes in market share, record switching between suppliers: signs of a highly competitive market. Yes, it\’s true, that prices are also moving in lockstep….but that\’s also a sign of a highly competitive market (when it isn\’t a sign of collusion). But some people are never pleased:

The Scottish National Party\’s Mike Weir called for the Competition Commission to investigate the companies, saying: "This statement displays an incredible complacency by Ofgem. It doesn\’t take Inspector Rebus to see that this same process happens every time there is an increase."

No, but it might take someone economically literate to see that a rise in taxation, a rise in compliance with green costs and a rise in feedstock costs will lead to a rise in bills to consumers. But here we\’re taking about a politician of course.

Tell It Like It Is Willem!

Let Northern Rock go bust:

If by now the Treasury, the Bank of England and the FSA have not figured out a way of swiftly repaying Northern Rock’s depositors when the bank gets put into administration, all those involved should be taken out and shot after a fair trial.


Yes, I know, we have limited resources, we don\’t want to have health tourism, we can\’t have open immigration and the welfare state, yes, I know the arguments:

The deportation of a Ghanaian woman with terminal cancer was defended by the head of the immigration service yesterday, who disclosed that there were hundreds of similarly difficult cases each year.

Lin Homer said that the removal of Ama Sumani, who was in hospital in Cardiff, back to Accra was heart-rending but not exceptional.

She spoke as The Lancet described the removal of Ms Sumani as atrocious barbarism. “To stop treating patients in the knowledge that they are being sent home to die is an unacceptable breach of the duties of any health professional,” it said. “The UK has committed an atrocious barbarism. It is time for doctors’ leaders to say so, forcefully and uncompromisingly.”

Ms Sumani, 39, suffers from malignant myeloma and was receiving dialysis at a hospital in Cardiff when she was taken by immigration officers and flown back home last week because her visa had expired. She left the hospital in a wheelchair accompanied by five immigration officials before being driven to Heathrow to board a flight to Accra last Wednesday.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said that he had spoken by telephone to Ms Sumani in her Accra hospital shortly before a hearing of the committee — at which he told Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency: “Her health has deteriorated since she arrived in Ghana.”

A little bit more of the milk of human kindness (not that a bureaucracy can offer that of course) would have been appropriate. Sorry, for all my supposed economic rationality I would have said bugger it: treat her. While I\’m not a believer in the rationale for the New Testament certain of the lessons contained strike me as being true: our Samaritan didn\’t ask whether the near corpse at the roadside was a Jew or a Palestinian, did he?

Erm, Zoe?

This bit is really quite good:

Immediately, this riles. Yes, we all have to take responsibility for our consumer choices. But those choices are a lot more meaningful for some than for others. The difference between a three quid broiler and a £10 organic bird to someone with dependants, living on – let\’s not even be melodramatic and say benefits, let\’s say the median national income of £24k – is very great.

To Jamie Oliver, it is no difference at all, on account of how he is loaded. And why is he loaded? Because a) he makes quite a lot of money entertaining us by gassing boy chicks, and b) he hoovers up that much and more again by advertising for Sainsbury\’s, which has been one of the driving forces behind this cheap food since mass production began.

Or, at least, this is the kind of petty-minded line of argument a person might be driven to, standing accused of cruel consumer choices. It is, frankly, obnoxious to see a rich person demanding impoverishing consumer choices from a poorer person. These chef-polemicists consider themselves outside politics, because they\’re being straightforward – let\’s eat what came out of the ground naturally, what was raised in a happy way. Let\’s just do as nature intended, and by gum it will be tasty, and what could possibly be political about that?

They\’re right, it isn\’t political, in that it has no consistency of ideas, indeed, doesn\’t even comprehend its own implications, but it encapsulates rather well what happens when rhetoric becomes unmoored from structured ideology: you get all the worst bits of the left – the proselytising, the sanctimony – and all the worst bits of the right – the I\’m-all-right-Jack, the "if you worked a bit harder, you too could afford to be me".

Well, quite. Insisting that those poorer than yourself follow your expensive moral choices really is rather galling.

But then this is howlingly bad:

The fact is, ethics that come out of your wallet are not ethics. All these catchwords that supposedly convey sensitivity to the environment, to animals, to the developing world – fair trade, organic, free range, food miles etc – are just new ways to buy your way into heaven, the modern equivalent of the medieval pardon. Anyone with a serious interest in this would be lobbying the legislature; arguing to tighten laws on animal cruelty.

Instead of persuading people to our moral view, we should pass a law making it illegal for people to differ from our moral view! Result!