“How do you reconcile polar opposites?”

Recently, a friend who disagrees with my politics felt the best course of action was to disconnect from me. For, he stated, the very pertinent question:
“How do you reconcile polar opposites?”

This appears to be a very common phenomenon. All too often, in today’s politically-charged world, we find ourselves in situations where we fundamentally oppose what someone whom we thought to be close friends believe. Is the friendship over? Is there nothing that can be done about it?

This was my answer to him…
It’s simple (though not always) easy to reconcile polar opposites, I do it fairly often. all it takes is a desire to understand the other person.

For example, you might ask me: “why do you hate Europe?” and I would answer, I don’t. I just think the European Union is damaging to Europe.

And then you could go “well, I think the European Union has been great for Europe”, and we could end it at there. Or you could take it further and find out in what ways you think it is great for Europe, and in what ways I think it is damaging Europe. And then we could drill down to identify both the common grounds as well as the irreconcilable differences. and then leave it at that. Friends can fundamentally disagree without becoming enemies.

The worst thing we can do is assume the worst of those who disagree with us. Because then we automatically make an enemy of them in our own perception, even if they are actually your friend who just has a different perspective.

What do you think?

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The reasons for my opposition to the EU

My opposition to the EU is essentially down to the fact that it works badly. Everything that the UK government does not do well at, the EU does even worse. Let me list some prominent examples…

Single currency (Eurozone):
Normally, an ailing economy’s currency depreciates, which encourages inward investment and domestic spending. The aggregate nature of the Eurozone means that it is difficult to appreciate or depreciate in value.
This makes it harder for ailing economies to recover from recessions.
It also prevents the citizens of more successful economies from enjoying the fruits of their prosperity by having a strong currency to spend on imports.

Common Fisheries Policy (CFP):
Supposed to encourage sustainable fishing, but fails badly: fishermen discarded catch that exceeded their quota. Then they banned discards, worsening the problem – fish that exceed quotas have to be landed and turned into fertiliser/landfill.

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP):
Supposed to centralise farm subsidies to ensure food security, but the different output of different countries meant that it is unfairly distributed – productive economies with low proportion of agrarian land like the UK gets short-changed._49009301_cap_alloc_464[1]

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR):
Intended to protect individuals’ data, it is not only contradictory – individuals have a right to have their data removed, but businesses need to retain individuals’ data for compliance with regulatory authorities such as the FCA.
GDPR is not even enforceable – the EU does not have authority to compel compliance on businesses outside the EU. Furthermore, it has grown into such a cumbersome beast that you now require (very) expensive certified consultants to ensure you properly meet their criteria.

Copyright Directive:
Meant to protect the intellectual property of creators, but it is impractical and unenforceable. Technology does not exist for online platforms to monitor all copyright breaches, so enforcement has to be an expensive manual process, prone to error/abuse.
Furthermore, such strict controls impede freedom of speech and expression, one of the internet’s greatest strengths. It means that screenshots or video clips of copyrighted material cannot be reproduced, whether to promote or criticise its content.

Common external tariff:
High taxes are imposed on imports on imports from outside the EU in order to protect domestic industry. But the outcome is that consumers face higher costs of imports and developing countries with weak economies suffer lower demand from the EU.

VAT:
It is bad enough that the UK taxes its citizens for consumption – the EU forces ALL its member states to apply VAT – a tax for simply buying and selling. This kind of tax hits the poor the hardest, those who have to spend more of their income than they invest.

Approach to legislation:
The UK’s approach to legislation is reactive – laws are made only when the need arises. The EU’s approach to legislation is to make laws on everything that is not already legislated over – even if there is not a need; even if it creates cost without bringing about any benefit.

Democratic deficit:
In the EU, most laws are instigated and drafted by the Commission, who is appointed, not elected. In the EU, the only elected body is the European Parliament, whose legislative power amounts to little more than rubber-stamping.

The fundamental problem:
These problems fundamentally stem from the nature of the EU as a political project of uniting Europe into a single political entity, necessarily centralising power into the hands of the few.

The European super-state project is doomed to failure because:
1) Europeans do not have a cohesive demographic – it doesn’t even share the same language;
2) centralised governments are very poor at management.

In contrast to the EU, the USA only manages to be successful because of its 1) high level of governmental devolvement, 2) great emphasis on liberty, 3) shared history of European emancipation and abolishment of slavery, 4) shared language.

The EU shares none of these qualities. It has ambitions of rivalling the USA but its approach emulates the USSR and other failed political super-state projects.

State capitalism vs socialism vs communism

On an online exchange, a lefty illustrated the distinctions between those three concepts as such:
State capitalism – private ownership with significant govt intervention.
Socialism – democratic ownership of production.
Communism – stateless, moneyless, classless society.

Boiling it down to fundamentals, here are the distinctions according to their definitions:
State capitalism – state? yes; private ownership? yes
Socialism – state? yes; private ownership? no
Communism – state? no; private ownership? no

But those are just the theoretical differences. The question that I think is important to voters is… HOW does it work out in practice?

Because money always plays a role in politics, here’s how it works out…
State capitalism – the rich buys favour with politicians
Socialism – politicians’ cronies become rich and politicians receive kickbacks
Communism – politicians already control the wealth, so they don’t even need to become rich

All the above: control of wealth by the few.

NB: “State capitalism” is also known as “Crony capitalism”.


Compare the three above systems with free-market capitalism – private ownership without state intervention in the market.

State? no; Private ownership? yes

Result:

Politicians don’t get wealthy because the state does not control or influence the market.
The rich can only get wealthy by increasing the quality of life of consumers, or by improving the cost efficiency of businesses. That’s what wealth creation means.
If the rich do not produce a product which doesn’t improve anything for anyone, they don’t get customers.

In other words: control of the wealth by the many.


Which of the above systems are left-wing, and which are right-wing?

Of the four systems described above, which would you prefer?

Condemnation by medical experts

Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans were condemned by the both the medical experts and the UK courts. So their lives were taken away, by force of the court order.

In Australia, Noah Wall was similarly condemned by medical experts for not having a brain. But his parents went with their heart. And thankfully the courts did not condemn him, nor did the medical experts take their parents to court. This boy is now 6 years old with a brain that is 80% of normal human size.

The fundamental problem is that experts should not overreach. Experts are only experts in what they know, but there is plenty they do not know. This means that there is always a possibility that they are wrong, and so they should never force their choices onto others, especially if it involves the matter of life and death.

Except the UK has a culture that reveres the NHS and its high priests. The experts say it, so it must be so. In many ancient cultures, the “experts” commanded human sacrifice. By not valuing the principle of individual liberty, we are repeating the same morally vile mistake.

To the Left, everything disagreeable is far right

When are self-identifying lefties going to acknowledge the evils of far-left ideology?

They will not.

To the modern Left, every form of extremism is far right…

Authoritarianism (more rules)? Far right.
Anarchism (no rules)? Also far right.

Plutocracy (rule by the few)? Far right.
Populism (appealing to the masses)? Also far right.

Pro-religion? Religious far right.
Anti-religion? Islamophobic far right.

Pro-life? Regressive far right.
Anti-life? Inhumane far right.

Pro-freedom of choice? Individualistic far right.
Pro-compulsion by law? Authoritarian far-right.

Pro-police? Totalitarian far right.
Anti-police? Anti-society far right.

Not enough government spending? Selfish far right.
Too much government spending? Crony far right.

Socially conservative? Racist far right.
Socially progressive? Neo-liberal far right.

Economic nationalism? Reactionary far right.
Economic globalist? Neo-liberal far right.

Even though they are opposed to extremism, Lefties who hold to these positions cannot really be identified as “moderates” either, because there is no consistency on which the modern Left apply their principles: Anything that suits their preferences is “moderate left” or “left of centre”; and anything which they oppose is “right-wing”. Some more examples…

On liberty:
When people oppose criminalisation of psychoactive substance abuse? Left-wing.
When people oppose criminalisation of hate speech? Right-wing.

On government intervention:
When government intervenes and things go well? Left-wing.
When government intervenes and things go badly? Right-wing.

On philanthropy:
When rich people/organisations give to a cause that they support? Left-wing social responsibility.
When rich people/organisations give to a cause that they oppose? Right-wing subversion of democracy.

On wealth:
Rich philanderers who portray themselves as “hip”? Progressive man of the people. (think Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or just about any Hollywood heart-throb)
Rich philanderers who don’t pretend to be “hip”? Slimey old men embodying the patriarchy. (think Donald Trump, Bernie Ecclestone, or any ugly but successful businessman)

The Left imagine themselves as the “good guys”. Most of the Left consider themselves “compassionate liberals”, but they are far from compassionate, nor are they liberal toward those who disagree with them. They have plenty of compassion toward those they perceive to be victims, but they express very little compassion or empathy toward those who do not openly express their suffering, who instead choose to bear their burden in silence.

I cover in another article how the modern Left are far from liberal: If they could get their way, self-identifying Lefties would prevent those whom they disagree with from having their way. As a true liberal once expressed: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. The principle was expressed by Voltaire, a true progressive liberal. Unfortunately, modern lefties would rather promote anti-hate speech legislation, in order to protect sensitivities from being offended.

The Left is no longer guided by principles or by ideology. They are guided by impulsive feelings. Thus they are not even able to identify their own ideologies when they are taken to their logical extremes. To the modern emotionally driven Left, all perpetrators of evil deeds are far right by definition. They cannot conceive of the idea of a right-winger who means well.

To answer my opening question: The modern emotionally-driven left will never be able to condemn far-left extremism. This is because they believe such an idea to be logically impossible, an oxymoron.

This is what it means to the emotionally-driven modern Left:

Left-wing = GOOD
and
BAD = Right-wing

I deliberately expressed those definitions assymetrically. If a modern lefty thinks something is left-wing, they will think it is good. But if they see something is bad, they will automatically identify it as right-wing. And never the twain shall meet.

Modern lefties have, in their own heads and hearts, fundamentally redefined the left-right spectrum of political principles. If they see something good coming out of the right, it will be identified as right-wingers practicing left-wing ideas; If they see something bad coming out of the left, they will identify it as a lefty practicing right-wing ideas.

Many lefties who read this article would have already condemned me as a far right apologist. They will not realise that I am socially liberal and economically progressive, the principles of which are evidenced in what I write. Traditionally, that would have placed me on the Left of the political spectrum. Unfortunately, modern lefties are driven by emotion – they are not able to receive criticism of their own position without taking offense and retaliating in anger.

Let me be clear on one more issue. I am not defending the Right as beyond reproach. There are undoubtedly many right-wingers who are driven by self-interest, but all the activists who give up their time and money to promote right-wing causes by and large do it because they genuinely believe it will benefit society, whether or not you and I agree with them.

The EU, not Brexit, drove Nissan’s decision to produce its new car in Japan.

Predictably, Remainers blamed Brexit for Nissan’s decision not to produce its new X-Trail vehicle in its Sunderland plant: Nissan chooses Japan over UK to build new X-Trail car

But scrutinise this allegation just a little, and you’ll find that it doesn’t hold water.

Given that Japan and EU has just concluded a trade deal, Nissan does not need to produce its vehicles within the EU to avoid the EU’s protectionist external tariffs. Thus there is now no benefit for Nissan to manufacture the same vehicle in two different sites. This would save in enormous capital costs of investing in the duplicate machinery and personnel.

Europe’s biggest markets have just implemented policies to discourage the sale and ownership of diesel vehicles:

Commenting on its decision, Nissan also said that since 2016 “the environment for the car industry in Europe has changed dramatically”, including “changing emissions regulations”.

In the UK, diesel cars that fail to meet the latest emissions standards now face a levy and a number of European countries, including the UK, have announced bans on both new diesel and petrol vehicles in the future.

This means that it makes sense for Nissan to shift the focus of its new diesel vehicle away from the European market.

Strategically, Japan is also better-placed to reach both of the world’s largest economies: the USA and China. The EU’s trade agreement with Japan took away any reservations Nissan had to retain production in the EU. Brexit was just an offhand mention.

In all fairness, Nissan’s Europe chairman said only that Brexit was “not helping” them plan for the future.

In other words, even if the UK was to remain a member of the EU, there would be no advantage to Nissan producing its new X-trail in the UK.

What does this mean? Politicians are lying again, quelle surprise. And all those Remainers who back this argument are propagating a lie, whether or not they do so knowingly.

Why are the former Barclays executives being prosecuted?

So some former Barclays executives are being prosecuted for their actions during the financial crisis…
https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-01-23/barclays-s-secret-payments-to-qataris-were-dishonest-sfo-says

Why? They took money from Qatari investors to bail out Barclays during the financial crisis, but compensated the Qatari investors above standard rate for it. As a result of their actions, they protected their bonuses, and prevented Barclays from being bought out by the government.

I’m not sure why these former Barclays executives are being prosecuted.

Had these executives not acted as they did, one of two things would happen:
1) the government bails out Barclays at great cost to taxpayers.
2) Barclays goes bust.
Would the government and taxpaying public genuinely prefer either of these outcomes?

Instead of relying on the government to bail them out at a loss to the taxpayer, they sought funding from private equity, and compensated their funders generously for it. Too generous maybe? If so, who are the ones losing out? Barclays shareholders and investors. Not the taxpaying general public. So any problems of unfair compensation is a matter of internal governance. Why should the government get involved in an internal governance issue?

Yes, they managed to award themselves eye-wateringly hefty bonuses through their actions. And prevented the government from being involved in Barclays governance. But neither of those is a crime, nor are they immoral.

Of course, to those of us on mortal salaries and lifestyles, the outcome of such actions *feel* unsconscionable. Not because they saved Barclays from being taken into public ownership via foreign funding. But because it feels unfair that *anyone* should be awarded such ludicrous sums of money.

What are they actually being prosecuted for? Fraud. By the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The accusation is that the Qatari investors were being compensated for their investment illegally: “prosecutors from the Serious Fraud Office said top officials, including then Chief Executive Officer John Varley, went too far, agreeing to pay secret commissions that amounted to fraud.”

As Barclays executives, it is entirely in their right what they choose to pay their investors. Barclays was in a time of need. Other investors did not bail them out. The Qatari investors came to their rescue. Why are they being prosecuted for compensating these investors more than others, those who invested when Barclays was not in a time of need?

What does the government and the Serious Fraud Office hope to achieve here…
…are they being prosecuted because of public hostility to banking executives?
…or are they being prosecuted because they thwarted the government from taking control of private equity?
…or is the SFO trying to justify their existence?

Absent any other evidence or lines of reasoning, I don’t know what other inference we can draw.