Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Government Spending and Economic Growth

Interesting article at Cato ( looking at the relationship between state spending (in the US) as a percentage of GDP and annual economic growth and employment. Looking at the data provided you can see which way the relationship goes - more state spending leads to lower growth and lower employment. Just  how big is the relationship?

So, increased state spending is strongly correlated with decreased annual growth, and with decreased employment. And of course employment is even more strongly correlated to economic growth.

Forget stimulus, forget the idea that the state will fix everything through the magic in spending and just look at that little table of numbers....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New Energy Bill Is A Disaster - GWPF

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has issued a press release describing the UK government's new energy as a disastrous move to a centrally planned energy system. I've never felt the need to reproduce a press release before, but this really does deserve as wide an audience as possible. For those who have felt that the UK government was edging towards common sense, this is a reaffirmation of the fact that in the UK our political masters remained wedded to environmentalist dogma above all else.

Here's the press release:

With the publication of its draft Energy Bill, the government has announced its intention to reverse the course of energy deregulation.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation warns that any attempt to turn back the clock to the dark period of centralised energy planning will not only damage Britain’s economy, but will almost certainly end in failure, just like other attempts to impose a centralised system of energy controls have failed in the past.
Nigel Lawson, the GWPF's Chairman, who as Energy Secretary was the architect of Britain's energy market deregulation in the 1980s, warned:
"The Energy Bill constitutes a disastrous move towards a centrally planned energy economy with a high level of control over which forms of energy generation will be favoured and which will be stifled. The government even seeks to regulate the prices and profits of energy generation."
The government bases the case for green - and more expensive - energy in large part on the assumption that gas prices will significantly rise in the future. This argument is no longer credible in the light of the growing international abundance of shale gas, not to mention the likely shale gas potential in Britain itself.
North American gas prices have dropped from $15 per million British thermal units to below $2 in just 7 years. This price collapse is an indication of things to come in Europe, once its own vast shale deposits are allowed to be extracted.
"At a time when most major economies are gradually returning to cheap and abundant fossil fuels, mainly in form of coal and natural gas, Britain alone seems prepared to sacrifice its economic competitiveness and recovery by opting for the most expensive forms of energy," said Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF's director.
In any case, the complex and inconsistent measures of the draft Energy Bill are unlikely to provide investors with the certainty they require to make substantial investments.
The proposed contracts for difference (CfDs) are extremely complex and convoluted. Neither the profit guarantees offered for different technologies nor the duration of CfDs is known. The government has not provided any numbers and price guarantees for its favoured green technologies. Investors are therefore thrown into limbo since they cannot calculate whether expensive renewables or nuclear reactors are viable and can compete with less expensive conventional power plants.
This lack of clarity will inevitably lead to constant government amendments and continual intervention, which will act as additional barriers to new entrants in the UK electricity market.
In light of government indecision and investors’ uncertainty, the Energy Bill proposes to give the Secretary of State the exclusive authority to offer green energy companies 'letters of comfort,' promising them that they will be guaranteed profits once the specifics of CfDs are finalised and introduced. This is both arbitrary and unconstitutional.
Moreover, it is doubtful that what is proposed is actually workable, let alone economically viable. After all, similar interventions in the past have proved inept and uneconomic. They will almost certainly prove to be highly unpopular when the costs of these measures are reflected in energy bills.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

State Education As Crap As The Education Secretary

Education Secretary Michael Gove has made something of a splash by bemoaning the dominance of the public school educated in Britain. He quotes the facts and figures and call it morally indefensible. But like all good members of our political elite - wether educated privately or not - he doesn't actually come up with any radical proposals or solutions.

The fact is that successive governments have thrown more and more money at education, increased teacher numbers, standardised and changed and brought in policy after policy all to no avail. Rather than improve things, they've made things worse. And it's not just a UK thing, it's the same in the US. And in case you think it's an Anglo thing, it's the same in France.

If state schooling is such a wash out, and no amount of extra money changes it, then surely the thing to do is look at whether the state is the problem and not the solution. Perhaps state control of education, which has increased enormously over the same period that more money has been pumped in, is the cause of the problem.

I write this as someone who went to a crap boys comprehensive in south London (the school that Oliver Letwin famously said he'd rather lose his right arm then send his kids to). My kids went to/attend local comprehensives. I've got no hidden agenda here. Politically I would always have defended state schooling - but now that I see what my kids come home with, and when I think back to what I endured...

Private schools are not run by the state. They do better than state schools. Therefore lets give the money to parents and let them send their kids to the schools they chose. Can we expect any mainstream politician in this country to make that very obvious connection? Nope, not any more than we can expect a politician to say look, the NHS isn't the best health system in the world...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

London Mayoral Election Result 2012

The most depressing thing about the results of the London Mayoral election is not that turn-out was so low, nor that the result was fairly predictable nor even the fact that it proved yet again that UKIP is not going to break into national politics any time soon. The most depressing thing about the result was what the political class will take home from it. It's generally agreed that Ken won it for Boris, if Labour had chosen someone less obnoxious it could have been theirs, as it was lots of people (myself included), would have voted for anyone but Ken, which meant a vote for Boris in the event.

No, the most interesting thing was just how well the Greens did. And this is the result that the political class will be focused on. Even in the midst of austerity, the slow-motion collapse of the Euro and the effective disappearance of global warming as an issue, the Green vote went up, beating the Lib Dems into third place. How is that they managed this? Green policies are at the heart of coalition policies - witness the continued debates about wind and solar subsidies, the pussy-footing about fracking and so on. No matter what label the big three parties attach to themselves, Green policies are central to the message they deliver to voters and to the policies they actively pursue. Yet for all the disasters that these policies bring, the Green vote itself went up.

In part this is because the Greens can still market themselves as being anti-establishment and therefore the recipients of plenty of protest votes. They are not in government, therefore they can criticise and be seen as radical, despite the fact that their policies are being enacted by the present and previous administrations. Green is the establishment colour for all the major parties, and green thinking is at the forefront of the mainstream media. Yet despite this, the green propaganda machine (including the BBC and the mainstream media), continue to pump out the message that green is somehow anti-establishment and radical. And so we see a rise in the green vote and in London they came in ahead of the Lib Dems and way ahead of UKIP, the BNP, the Trades Union candidates etc.

Friday, May 04, 2012

London Mayoral Election 2012

I always said I'd vote for Coco The Clown to stop Ken Livingstone - a poisonous turd of a politician. I never imagined actually having to do it, but last night I did. It was decidedly not a vote for Boris, but a vote against Ken.

For the other two ballot papers it was a vote for UKIP as two-fingers to the main parties. Again, a vote against rather than a vote for.

I know that lots of people think indifference is what sends the message - but indifference is mistaken for apathy. And it'll be the alleged apathy that will be used to state fund political parties in the end. If the people can't support the parties, thte argument will go, and parties are what democracy is all about then it becomes imperative to write the people out of the script and just give the money to the entrenched political elties that are there already.

It is for this reason that voting for the minority parties, or voting for the candidates that will inflict the most damage to the established parties (as they did in Bradford), is not wasting votes. It's making votes count. High turnouts but low scores for the established parties is precisely what they least expect - and will not welcome one little bit.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Climate scientists death threat scam

As we know, many climate alarmists are creatures with enormously thin skins and a massive tendency to be profligate with tax payers money. Back in June 2011 the Guardian and other media outlets headlined a story that 'climate scientists' at the Australian National University had received death threats and that the university had to tighten security and move the scientists to a new location. While it was big news for climate alarmists, several sceptics were, frankly, sceptical... And, as you'd expect, this scepticism was greeted by further howls of outrage from the warmists and their media supporters.

However, an Aussie blogger, Simon Turnill of Australian Climate Madness, did the honourable thing and filed an FOI request to see the death threats. This was refused by the university (no surpised) and went to appeal. The adjudication is now in and it turns out that there were no death threats. Or as the headline in the Australian put it: Climate scientists' claims of email death threats go up in smoke.

Read the whole story here:

The best follow up to this would be to file an FOI request for the university to reveal how much money was spent on tighter security and office relocation. How much did this little scam cost? And are they going to refund the money? It's only right that they do...

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Well Said

Sometimes the Daily Mash hits the nail on the head - how can you improve on this?

My thoughts on Murdoch, Leveson and the rest of the circus... A pox on the bloody lot of you.

And will the bastard BBC just STFU about it? The way they're devoting so much time to the story and attacking their key commercial rival is sick-making.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Another Met Office Fail?

Keeping up a grand tradition of forecasting fails, the UK Met Office forecast for April (now officially the wettest UK April on record), stated:

The forecast for average UK rainfall slightly favours drier than average conditions for Apri lMay June as a whole, and also slightly favours April being the driest of the 3 months.

Outstanding. But don't worry, they can't get the weather right a few weeks in advance, but they can't get it right decades in advance in climate modelling...