28 comments on “Tough Job

  1. Which countries would you consider delivered capitalism without sacrificing peace, stability or democracy?

    Tim adds: I think the UK has done pretty well over the past couple of centuries, don’t you Bob? We’ve had wars, certainly, but hey weren’t about imposing capitalism now, were they?

  2. I suppose it depends whether you call O.I.L. (Operation Iraqi Liberation) a capitalist war for control of resources or whether you are daft enough to believe it was all about some form of liberation exercise.

  3. Mr. Piper, thanks for posting. I had no idea the evil Americans and Brits were just taking that Iraqui oil at gunpoint.

    I always thought we capitalist bastards bought stuff, not that we started wars for it. I thought it was the (national..or otherwise) Socialists who started wars for control of resources and uh, for fear of Godwin I hate actually to go there, but what hell, for Lebensraum.

  4. I read stuff like from the Piper person and I get to brooding. I’m from Calgary Alberta, and we have more oil than Iraq. More expensive to extract, but more of it.

    We also have lots of American and Brits here. Whenever ther’s a big charity event or drive there is ineviably a dumb, fat, ignorant, greedy American oilman writing a damn big personal cheque for the charity.

    What we don’t have is the US army invading us in ‘a capitalist war for control of resources’. The Yanks buy stuff and work like hell 6 or 7 days a week. This Piper person knows nothing at all about economics or Americans.

    He thinks its daft to suggest that Americans would fight a war for liberation of others with no thought of reward. Piper cannot remember that the Americans rescued his people? Once from socialists.

    From the photo at his web site he’s old enough to know this. But he’s also a socialist so perhaps he truly does not know.

  5. “Mr. Piper, thanks for posting. I had no idea the evil Americans and Brits were just taking that Iraqui oil at gunpoint.”

    If they were, wouldn’t it cost less than it does here in the UK?

    Not that Bob Piper would know, as he no doubt claims travel expenses on the taxpayer…

  6. Never so much as a penny actually Julia, and I am more than willing for you to check.

    I’m so grateful to the Americans for rescuing me… together with the populations of the other 34 countries your peaceful nation has ‘liberated’ by bombing them since the end of the second world war.

    I’m sure the fact that your oil reserves are more expensive to extract has absolutely no bearing on matters at all.

    I’m sorry to be pedantic, but I was simply pointing out that Timmy’s peaceful countries are not actually all that peaceful, particularly if their economic interests are threatened…. rather than getting tangled up in a discussion about the generous nature of our US benefactors.

  7. “I’m sorry to be pedantic, but I was simply pointing out that Timmy’s peaceful countries are not actually all that peaceful, particularly if their economic interests are threatened”

    Can’t think of many countries we’ve gone to war with that were free and democratic themselves. Umm.. err… umm.. Finland in WW2? Any others?

  8. Is that a criteria for going to war with someone? If so we’ve got plenty of scope for going to war with one hell of a lot of nations. Should keep those arms manufacturers happy for years to come.

    By the way… how many of those wars were voted on in Parliament? Or isn’t that a measure of democracy?

  9. For the benefit of American readers, it should perhaps be pointed out that while it is representative of an unfortunately large proportion of the population, I think most of us would hold in contempt Mr Piper’s ungracious refusal to give credit to the USA for the extraordinary sacrifice of the two world wars.

  10. Moving on, Piper’s ahistorical version of the recent past, which takes no account of the decade of continuing, though muted, war with Iraq, the no-fly zones, skirmishes and sanctions that led to Bush’s post-9/11 decision to enforce UN doctrines under the authority of existing UN resolutions is unfortunately as commonplace in the USA, and elsewhere, as it is in Britain.

  11. I cannot arrive at “..34 countries…” since 1945 per Mr. Piper. Can anyone provide a list?

  12. Mr. Piper:

    Others here ridicule your viewpoint–I don’t. I have the healthy respect for it that’s due the opinion of any sane person, though I certainly disagree with it. At least part of that respect is due to my recognition that your viewpoint–shared by very many, indeed–is actually the source of most of what are usually called “the problems of the world.”

    For that reason, I’d like to submit, for your careful consideration, a pair of analyses–competing analyses, that is–of the basic relationships upon which human cooperation, civilization, and (especially) material welfare are constructed (and depend). BOTH include the fundamental economic recognition that very much of that of which such welfare is composed and on which it depends consists in resources; further, that the very term (resources) implies scarcity: inability of supply at any given time to satisfy all wants for their disposition. I think that is a fair description of the factual situation faced–and giving rise to the two viewpoints mentioned. Nor, in choosing which view to adopt, would I suggest that any particular (from among various competing) dogma need be adopted with regard to mens’ origins or destiny.
    Your own mind will serve nicely to sift the available evidence and render a choice, whether that be to hew to your present inclination or to change your mind.

    One view, likely the older and still widely prevalent, is that the scarcity of that on which life and prosperity depend enjoins on men a division of such resources according to some plan for their utilization originating with those comprising political authority–and ultimately enforceable by them. Socialism is the modern variant (but not the only) of this view. All such forms had various rationales for the allocation of access to resources; modern socialism (and its more ancient predecessors) promote equality in this regard, seeing in such relationship also another benefit commonly sought in human society–that of “justice.” If we are to consider the period of mens’ existence on the planet and the numbers populating the earth since “the dawn of time,” one would be safe in calling this described view “dominant,” “prevailing,” and, certainly “majoritarian,” even, with but slight qualification, “democratic.”

    To the above, I oppose a more modern view–one that could, actually, be described as “revolutionary.” Some of its aspects could, indeed, be perceived by men at their very earliest stage, even of the existence of the individual, though it could not be fully understood until fairly recently, as history is measured.

    This modern view, to which Tim and many other readers subscribe (with relatively slight differences) might well be called the “economic” view and could be dated to Ricardo and some predecessors who observed, in speaking of pieces of land, that their best use was that in which such use yielded the highest net return
    (in money) “on the market.” This was termed the “Law of Comparative Advantage” and is taught in every class in Economics. But Ricardo never made the extension of the principle observed by later economists: that the same law (whose biological origin is in increasing specialization of function of cells, tissues, organs, etc.) fully explains the rationale of human society at every level, from the family unit right up through the international: that there exists harmony, rather than conflict, in a grand scheme of cooperation comprehending virtually every individual. What is called (and frequently derided as) “the market” and the prices expressed thereon, integrate every individual into a cooperative scheme in which his own greatest satisfactions are achieved by (and in strict accordance with) his own contributions to the same sort of satisfactions of everybody else.

    The market is not perfect; nobody is obliged to obey it. Anyone can work at something he likes better than that at which his earning capacity is maximized. He can work less, if should prefer. In those cases, he will not do his best for the market–but the market punishes him to the degree that he must forego what those higher earnings would mean for his life. On the market, the incentives and punishments are the same, impersonal drivers of all economic behavior. The market favors private property and stability in property relationships, not from a sense of justice (though that may certainly be developed) but from experience of its superiority in performance–that which we call “efficiency.” This was observable even in more primitive times and was widely (though not exclusively) practiced even before the reasons could be understood.

    Observation of the working of markets leads to another, more startling discovery: nearly every interference with its workings leads to impairment of those workings–and an attendant diminution in the satisfaction-state of all participants. That is true even of most (though not all) regulation intended for improvement or for amelioration of some perceived “inequity.”

    Under market freedom (called laissez-faire, especially by detractors), the slightest of commodities and the grandest industrial complexities are offered for dollars and cents to the highest bidder. Neither the size nor the richness of a nation’s territory makes any difference to its inhabitants nor have they any interest whatsoever as to the nationality of the individual owners of those pieces of property. The borders merely mark the extent where the police authorities are responsible for jurisdiction.

    Under the older view (including its modern expression–socialism) everyone is locked in a mortal struggle with all others except within the socialist commonwealth, whose member-citizens are agreed (by order of the authority) to “cooperate” by doing what the authority deems best for them in return for a share of the total output, also to be determined by the authority. Without going into lengthy explanation, I’ll merely point out that the system
    has been an abject failure in every instance.

    Socialism is often referred to as “the politics of envy.” It is that–but that doesn’t explain why those who are envious believe (in the face of evidence to the contrary) that they would be better off–happier–under such a system. The actual reason is that the socialist believes–must believe–that all men are each other’s implacable enemies and despoilers in the absence of superior strength acting to restrain “natural” impulses. Some are even so frank as to state that men require such organization whether or not it “delivers the goods” (thought they do not usually state this for the public consumption of their populace). For the envious, every feature in which another is better off is prima facie evidence of a past theft, fraud, or conspiracy to commit either or both; it is explanatory not only of the personal politics of individuals in democracies but no less of the continuous dissatisfaction of socialist commonwealths, particularly with the behavior of their immediate neighbors whose own resources
    are not “shared” at appropriate prices (because they’re bringing better prices on the free market).

    It’s impossible to believe (or behave) both ways.
    You’re headed in one direction or the other at every step. But you do have a choice.

  13. Mr Risdon, I have every reason to be grateful of the US citizens who gave their lives in the fight against fascism. However, one suspects that while the delight at US invasion of Iraq may be representative of an unfortunately large proportion of the population, I think most Iraqis have shown they are not grateful for the US liberation of their country.

    The United States is a wonderful country which I have visited and enjoyed the company of its people on many occasions. I just don’t share your knee-bending appreciation of its government. That’s all!

  14. A year after the invasion, polling suggested that by a small majority Iraqis supported it. Since then, in the post war era, things have got worse, much worse, before starting more recently to improve. But if we are talking about the coalition war against Saddam, rather than the Iranian and Saudi backed wars against the elected Iraqi government, it is reasonable to say this found approval, though small, amongst Iraqis.

    The fact that you are unable simply to acknowledge the contributions made by the USA, and even make a point of excluding their help in WWI, reveals a great deal about yourself and nothing whatever about the subject under discussion. And the fact that you refer to my comment pointing out something you, at least partially, agree with as “knee-bending” does precisely the same.

    You are plainly unable to mention the USA without gratuitous disparagement, in any context. That’s a widespread disease, but a disease for all that.

  15. And you plainly do not understand basic English. I made two mentions in my last point which were positive about the people of the United states of America. I just cannot bear those of you who either think it is Nirvana, or kow-tow to the United States Government at every opportunity. Get up off your knees man and show some pride! It is not obligatory, even for those of you who dream of a capitalist heaven, to bend over and offer your nether reasons to another country in this way. It is just shameful.

    At least in that respect the citizens of the United States can teach you a lesson.

  16. Your stance has nothing to do with pride; it is reflexive leftist anti-Americanism, and no amount of bogus “some of my best friends are American” dissembling can disguise that.

    I will take your resort to the last refuge of the scoundrel as a (justified) concession of defeat.

  17. Gallimaufry, is that some attempt to copy Risdon because it’s straight out of the na,na, ne na, na school of playground comments.

    What kind of fool comment is that? Would I say “Grow up, why don’t you” to someone who has become Prime Minister? Of course I bloody wouldn’t, you cretin. I might ask him why he continues with Blair’s stupid adventure in Iraq, why he wastes money on PFI, and why they continue pursuing Thatcherite economic policies, but unless he tried to stick his tongue out and run away like Risdon, no, I probably wouldn’t ask him that.

  18. I will take no lectures from Cllr Bob Piper on making foolish comments as our “elected” * Prime Minister might say.
    But Charles Clarke made broadly similar points in his Daily Mail interview.
    * copyright Enver Hoxha, President of Albania.

  19. Sorry to butt in such a maelstrom of emotional positions, but …
    “We’ve had wars, certainly, but they weren’t about imposing capitalism now, were they?”
    Tim, as an analysis that seems very wobbly unless you specify home-turf only, and ignore empire in most of its forms.
    Not every war, for sure, and capitalism tends to have various definitions depending on who is pushing it, but can you point out a ‘capitalist’ country that hasn’t had wars in the last 200 years that didn’t involve imposing their version of capitalism?

    Tim adds: In my original thinking (in so far as I do think before I post of course) I was indeed thinking home turf only. As the original writer at The G was thinking about Bolivia too, I’m sure.

  20. “It is not obligatory, even for those of you who dream of a capitalist heaven, to bend over and offer your nether reasons to another country in this way.”

    But having politicians decide for us that we should bend over & offer our nether regions to unelected EU officials is A.O.K in Piper’s book, of course…

    Got to know who your real masters are before you can lick their bum appeasingly. And it isn’t Bottler Broon (much though he may appreciate the gesture…).

  21. How sweet of JuliaM to define my position on Europe for me. Actually, I opposed our entry into the Common Market, (by Heath) and our signing of the Single European Act (By Thatcher) and the Maastricht Treaty (by Major), as well as the minor revisions in the Lisbon Treaty/constitution, so you couldn’t be more wrong missus.

    However… Brown’s role, as I say, is minor compared with the capitulations to Brussels and Bonn by the Tories. Thank heavens he became Chancellor before the Tories could sell us in to the Euro.

  22. ” I was indeed thinking home turf only”
    Still think you are on a sticky wicket there, mate – though maybe not as sticky. Indian wars, Highland clearances, Irish famine were to a great extent connected to the ideas of capitalism then extant.
    Then could be argued that in order to keep whatever passed for internal stability and peace they had to export their wars…??
    Maybe a bit like the Soviet Union had to do.

  23. “I’m so grateful to the Americans for rescuing me… together with the populations of the other 34 countries your peaceful nation has ‘liberated’ by bombing them since the end of the second world war.”

    What 34 countries are those, Bob?

    I’ve done a little rooting around my memory and the internet, and come up with the following post-war military actions that may have involved bombing (there are lots of actions involving US troops that certainly did not):-

    Korea
    Vietnam
    Laos
    Cambodia
    Libya
    Iraq
    Kuwait
    Bosnia
    Afghanistan
    Sudan
    Serbia
    Yemen (1 missile at 1 car killing an Al-Qaeda terrorist)
    Pakistan (1 gunship)
    Somalia (1 gunship).

    I make that 14. What are the other 20?

  24. Tim Almond-Thanks for that list, Piper doesn’t seem to want to provide his. BTW-there was one bomb used in Panama, but are you sure that Yemen and the gunships count? Either way, it could be 15 or 12?

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