Tim Worstall

Richard Murphy Explained!

Look, I think the man has had the odd thing sensible to say, Well, I had:

But the reality is that those who want radical social change that will destroy the concept of walfare(welfare, sic) want to exploit this as an opprtunity to destroy society as we know it.

And I oppose the far Right perception of society. There’s a simple reason. It’s evil. And these comments seem to promote that evil.

"It\’s evil"

So I won\’t talk about it.

Still think of yourself as a liberal?


Richie Babbie!

And for all the newspaper furore about the possible loss of some basic pretty data on 25 million people by HM Revenue & Customs I note that,,,

Not many phone about this,

So therefore, it isn\’t important. Yes?

So, how many phone in to R. Murphy\’s line about tax evasion?

Goose and gander.

Those Missing Records

Richard Murphy says there\’s nothing to worry about:

All that’s happened is some fairly low grade data has been mislaid.

Given the man\’s ability to be entirely and completely wrong on all issues, major and minor, from whether the sun rises in the east to whether kittens are cute, this is the moment when I start panicking.

The disaster is that we are not spending enough on good public services.

At £500 billion and rising? See what I mean?

Panic! Panic!

Update. Richard Murphy\’s comment upon myself:

Rim Worstall fell off the edge of reason long ago, so I’ll ignore him.

He also calls me a Tory which is a damn libel!


Stephen Fry on Climate Change

Via, I see this. Stephen Fry. I agree with his basic argument actually, the Type A, B and C, also the similarity with Pascal\’s Wager in part. However, there\’s one part left out, quite an important part.

But if A is wrong and actually there is no threat, then acting as if there was will have what consequences? It will have saved fuel bills all over the world, reduced noxious emissions which, even if one doesn’t believe in global warming, are unpleasant pollutants in anyone’s reckoning, and slowed down the day when we find that the fossil fuels have run out. Action would have given us more time to find alternatives. To be fair, it will also have slowed down world growth and inconvenienced all of us in our personal lives and if A Types do turn to have been wrong they may well owe the world an apology and it’ll be red faces (and a brake in the inexorable rise in world economic growth and fuel mineral use) all round.

But surely that’s a small price to pay for backing a losing horse when the stakes are the planet itself?

The thing is, what\’s at stake if climate change is not in fact true (not actually my own belief) and we go ahead and slow down world growth is not a certain amount of personal inconvenience.

It\’s the continued absolute poverty of billions upon billions of human beings. It\’s the continuation of parents seeing a quarter or a fifth of their children dying before their 5 th birthday, the continuation of under-, mal- and insufficient nutrition, something that blights the lives of and stunts the mental and physical development of hundreds of millions. It\’s the continuation of the peasant lifestyle for for some 2 billion across the world.

We don\’t know any way for these people to either be lifted or lift themselves up out of poverty other than economic growth (the option of sharing what we already have, even if possible, which it isn\’t, would leave us each with £4,000 a year. That\’s the NHS, the education system and perhaps £10 a week, maybe £20, to pay for food, clothes, housing and everything else).

So it isn\’t in fact Pascal\’s Wager at all.

If climate change is true (my belief) we do not have a simple solution. We are still balancing the (I would hope shared) aim of aiding those impoverished billions up out of absolute poverty (depending upon how you define it, less than $1 or $2 a day) with reducing the emissions effects of doing so.

If climate change is not true (not my belief) then we will, by slowing the growth of the world economy, condemn said poor to a perpetuation, perhaps an elongation is better, of that poverty.

So, depending upon the moral value you put on Gaia or poor human beings, we could in fact turn the entire Pascal\’s Wager thing around. If you are worried about absolute poverty and convinced of the moral righteousness of trying to end it, then the thing is to do nothing about climate change, whether it is true or not.

That, of couse, is something of a debating trick. My own view is grow the economy as fast as we can and also mitigate as much as we can without damaging that first order priority.

Worth noting that in the SRES, the economic models that underly the IPCC and thus the entirety of climate change science, the most desirable one of the potential outcomes is in fact the one with the maximal economic growth over the next century. For a given value of "desirable" of course.


What\’s the problem here?

China’s surplus with the US has grown by just 18pc. The high-level EU team — the first currency mission of its kind — will include Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank. The implicit threat is that China could face protectionist measures if it persists with a mercantilist policy of holding down the currency to gain export share.

Mercantilism harms those stupid enough to practice it. We, the consumers (for of course the economy should be run for the benefit of us, the consumers) here in Europe benefit from the Chinese error. So why are our rulers flying off to try and make us poorer?

Another way of putting it. A high euro to yuan exchange rate means that we get more Chinese goods for each unit of European goods that we export. That is, we have to expend less effort to make the exports with which we buy our imports. This makes us richer.

Why would we want to stop that happening?

Helena Wolinska

Interesting don\’t you think?

Helena Wolinska, 88, a former Polish prosecutor who has lived in England since 1972, is accused of fabricating evidence against Gen Emil Fieldorf, a member of the Polish resistance during the Second World War.

Mrs Wolinska, well known in the cosy academic circles of north Oxford, is said in her former guise as a Soviet magistrate to have masterminded his wrongful arrest and execution in 1953.

Since the overthrow of the communist regime, Gen Fieldorf has been posthumously pardoned and the authorities are chasing those responsible for the alleged miscarriage of justice.

Do we hound those who supported the leftist or Stalinist dictatorships to their graves as we do the fascist ones? Or don\’t we?

Fisheries Again

These people are insane.

"Why did we introduce discards in the first place? The reason that we did that is that we knew that stocks were going down.

"We have seen a recovery in cod in the North Sea in particular. That is good news and that\’s why we will pushing the commissioner in December for an increase."

He added: "We are confident we have a position that is backed up by science – that\’s the crucial thing."

But environmentalists say increasing the quotas is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Oliver Knowles, a Greenpeace campaigner, said: "We think it would be madness to increase the cod quotas to try to remedy this problem.

"The solution to over-fishing lies in a much more wholesale review of the fishing industry.

"If stocks of cod in the North Sea are returning then it is at its very earliest stage and one way to destroy that recovery is to send the fishing fleet back."

UK vessels landed 614,000 tonnes of sea fish, including shellfish, in 2006, worth £610m, a 13 per cent reduction in quantity on 2005 but seven per cent up in value.

The number of young cod in the North Sea has risen for a second year in a row, but the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas has called for a 50-per-cent cut on 2006 catch levels to sustain it.

Euan Dunn, fisheries expert with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "The idea of calling for an increase in catches to reduce discards is so counter-productive.

"Massive efforts now have to be made to help the fragile 2005 year class survive to breed and fuel real recovery in the cod stock.

"The EU ministers\’ focus now needs to be totally on how to prevent these discardable fish being caught in the first place, rather than giving the industry a licence to catch more. Responsible fishermen know this, but you can\’t wake a man who\’s pretending to be asleep."

All of them, entirely crazed.

Fisheries are not the most complex of problems. They\’re a simple application of the Commons Problem. One which is, as we know, solved by apportioning property rights. Are they, in the face of this problem, suggesting the apportioning of property rights? No, they\’re not, ergo they are crazed loons, all of them, the Commissioner, the Government, Greenpeace and the fishermen themselves.

Timmy Elsewhere

At the ASI.

When evaluating green schemes, "creating jobs" is a cost, not a benefit.

For of course if all those busy little workers were not installing tofu machines to light the yurt growing communes, they\’d be off doing something else, curing AIDS, planting turnips or hanging politicians, all things which would arguably increase human happiness more. We are therefore poorer by those things which they will not be doing.



Every parent in the country has been put at risk of fraud and identity theft after the Government lost 25 million personal records in Britain’s worst ever data protection breach.

Two compact discs containing bank details and addresses of 9.5 million parents and the names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of all 15.5 million children in the country went missing after a junior employee of HM Revenue and Customs put them in the post, unrecorded and unregistered.

And these are the people bringing us ID cards?

Ahaha, ahaha, ahaHAHAHAHA.

Splurt, snort.

That\’s that idea fucked then, eh?

Bookish Things.

I\’m reading, inter alia, Things Unborn.

Highly recommended. Sort of a mix between alternative history, sci-fi and a damn good detective story.

Hmmm. That might not get the punters rolling in but still.

(And please note, no, no payment for this, not even a free copy, this is from me buying and reading.)

Well worth it.

One of the back bits is that the son of a character is a jazz musician. They\’re out in Bristol, on the Severn Estuary actually, looking at said father\’s grave (complicated, I know, read the book for the set up to this) and son says to father:

"But they\’re African Americans….(…) I want to make African British music.

As did, say, Portishead.

Polly on the Planet

Oh dear:

The Stern report warned the economic impact of climate change would be like world war and the Depression rolled into one.

Err, no it didn\’t. What it actually said was that if we followed the worst development path (A2), and everything went wrong (really, everything, he threw the kitchen sink at it) then GDP would be 20% below where it would have been absent the effects of climate change. GDP fell more than that in the Great Depression, let alone the effect of world war (in fact, UK GDP fell 25% between 1918 and 1921).

So we could, if we stretched matters, say, 20%, 25%, no difference really. But that\’s ignoring the most important point. Even using the A2 projections, we\’re not saying that it will be 20% lower than it is now. We\’ll still be vastly richer than we are now: just not as rich as we could be.

Of course, if that\’s what you actually worry about, the future wealth of our descendents, then you should be agitating that we follow the A1 pathway: that makes people in 2100 4 times richer than the A2.

Others, too, ask if he understands that a new dirigiste industrial strategy needs to match his high rhetoric about a "fourth technological revolution".

Mhhm, hmmm. A dirigiste industrial strategy? You mean picking winners? Like, say, increasing emissions by insisting upon recycling instead of landfill (as they are)? Like insisting upon biofuels, which increase emissions (as they are)? Like, say, refusing a tax variance on a carbon capture scheme (as they did, with BP)?

The thought that "a plan" might help is terribly attractive but out here in the real world we need to ask whose plan and what plan? Given that the muppets who rule us have made the wrong decision on those three (just about the only three they have actually made a decision on) what on earth makes you think that they\’ll get any of the others right?

Britain\’s share in all this, weaselling on the statistics. Why would they do that? Because, they say, the 20% renewable target was plucked out of the air by Angela Merkel, due to internal angst over nuclear power. Blair signed up to it in demob mode. Whitehall officials were bound to send up alarm signals: there had been no feasibility study, no cost benefit analysis, no one knows if it can be done. In January, each country will be told what their share of the target is – Britain must produce between 10% and 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020. If it doesn\’t sound much, that\’s up to a 7.5-fold increase in a short time. "Superhuman" effort will be required, said one adviser: it means 40% of our electricity must come from renewables.

That\’s all quite correct. What boggles is that having listed how he policy has been made (ie, made up, not actually the result of any policy at all) she then says we must go ahead with it!

These climate-change deniers and rightwing anarchists who resist even modest recyling plans will decry anything they see as "nanny state".

In Polly World I guess I qualify as one of those right wing anarchists. Thing is, m\’dear, at least some of my opposition to "modest recycling targets" is that they increase, not reduce, emissions. That is, that they\’re counter-productive.

Quite Glorious!

That NHS Spine thing. £20 billion an counting, isn\’t it? The largest IT project in the world in fact?

Nearly two-thirds of family doctors are poised to boycott the government\’s scheme to put the medical records of 50 million NHS patients on a national electronic database, a Guardian poll reveals today.

With suspicion rife across the profession that sensitive personal data could be stolen by hackers and blackmailers, the poll found 59% of GPs in England are unwilling to upload any record without the patient\’s specific consent.

Ooops! They forgot to ask whether anyone would use it, didn\’t they?

Solar Power Stocks

Yes, I\’d say that\’s a little dodgy:

Eco-investors have made plenty of hay while the sun has shone but, with markets looking peaky, I can think of safer havens than a group of government-policy dependent stocks trading at 30 or 40 times earnings.

What I think is interesting about that analysis is that the constraint on the supply of solar grade silicon seems to have gone. That could lead to an interesting drop in the cost of an installed system. Further:

Matthias Fawer, the author of Solar Energy 2007 – The Industry Continues to Boom, which is published today, believes growth in the industry might be close to a tipping point. Dramatic reductions in costs, he says, will make solar power competitive with conventional forms of electricity or heat within 10 years.

If that\’s actually true then all we have to do is wait and then install the most cost effective systems then. All that post-Kyoto nonsense goes away. Which was really rather the point of Lomborg\’s first book, wasn\’t it? That solar, by 2030, 2040, would be cheaper than fossil fuels and thus that technology would save us. I still find it really rather remarkable that he\’s been so vilified for the crime of being too pessimistic.