Cronyism and capitalism

Cronyism is when politicians in government endow business favours to corporate interests, such as awarding government contracts to one’s donors.

Which lends itself to cronyism: a bigger or smaller government?

Cronyism is when politicians in government endow business favours to corporate interests, such as awarding government contracts to one’s donors.

Left-wingers will say cronyism is capitalist.

Right-wingers will say cronyism is anti-capitalist.

This is because left-wingers associate capitalism with greed via whatever means, whilst right-wingers associate capitalism with freedom of choice.

Cronyism is greedy. Cronyism is not freedom of choice. So both sides decry cronyism.

So the question should be, which lends itself to cronyism: a bigger or smaller government?

To help answer this question, consider the context of the UK: How much are NHS contracts worth?

The bigger the government, the bigger the contracts tend to be.

A big contract more likely or less likely to attract the attention of corporate interests with deep pockets – the bigger the contract, the more worth there is in “investing” in political donations with the aim of securing “favours”.

Idealistically, we would all wish that all forms of corruption were eliminated.

Left-wingers often argue that nationalising industries will industries, by removing the profit motive, would eliminate greed and thus corruption from the system. But does nationalisation actually eliminate greed and corruption?

Even nationalised industries need to be operated, and managed. That means power. The bigger the industry, the greater the power wielded by its managers. Even if an industry is nationalised, managers can award the best jobs to their favourite people, in return for other favours. The scope of possible favours are far too diverse to be described, so use your imagination. Even if you give everyone the same amount of pay, some people will get better jobs than others – some jobs are less demanding and other jobs are more rewarding. This gives us the exact same result as cronyism.

Others argue, better to let democracy control who’s in power than to have greed drive those in power. But that’s not how democracy works. You don’t vote every single manager into power. When did you last vote in the head of the NHS? Who voted in the head of Network Rail? And in what way does this eliminate greed – doesn’t everyone want to be better paid?

In contrast, in free market capitalism, if you don’t support a particular manager, you don’t have to buy their products. If you hate Elon Musk, you can stop using Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter products. Nobody is forcing you to use Bill Gates’ products – you choose to because they offer the best level of access that you need. Every day, every transaction you make, is a direct vote as to how successful and powerful these people become. No level of democratic voting can match such granularity of choice.

So which is a better representation of “power to the people” – letting people get rich and powerful because of popular choice, or letting people get rich and powerful because of other powerful people?

Left-wingers like to accuse right-wingers of entrenching the rich and the establishment, but with both nationalised industries and big government cronyism, it is those already in power who decide which other people get put into other positions of power.

In a free-market, the only reason CEOs are powerful is because people choose to buy and use their products.


Profit: the dirty secret of politics

“Profit” is the dirty secret invoked by politicians and activists to mislead you, to gain power.

 What does “Profit” mean?

Traditionally, “profitable” means “beneficial”, so “profit” means something good. These days, financial profit just means “making money”.

Politicians and left-wing ideologues love to invoke the word “profit” – always as a weapon to clobber private companies, libertarian economics, and entrepreneurship. 

In political rhetoric, the word “profit” is used to imply abusive exploitation, whilst “salary” or “wage” is used to suggest deservedness. But why is that?

Profit is always used to suggest that profit-making is unfair behaviour by companies, either by paying their employees an unfair wage, or by overcharging their customers. However, who is forcing employees to work for that employer? Who is forcing customers to buy a product at a certain price? If you think a product is too expensive, you can choose to not buy it. If you’re unhappy with what your employer is paying you, you can quit, or even retrain. I hear the building trades such as carpentry pays quite well for comparatively little training (certainly no university degree required).

Employees who are getting paid means employment is profitable to the employee. Entrepreneurs making a profit means their hard work and investment paid off. Companies making a profit means they have managed to balance the cost of their operational expenses against sales to customers. The only difference between corporate profits and wage is that profiteers have to take the risk that customers do not want to buy their product, whilst a wage is paid regardless of whether the company makes no profit or a large profit.

“Excess profits”

Certain politicians and ideological activists have resorted to use the slippery term “excess profits” to indicate undeserved windfall or bumper profit. A windfall simply means “unexpected”. It does not mean “unfair” or “undeserved”.

We have seen this recently, when the sudden reduction in supply of gas from Russia caused the global price of energy to skyrocket. The costs of energy production hadn’t changed, but the sudden reduction in supply meant that demand far exceeded supply – prices had to go up to reduce consumption against available supply, otherwise we’d have to enter a period of rationing or even blackouts. This increase in global energy prices resulted in most energy companies receiving a bumper profit this year.

There were calls for government to tax this unexpected windfall, or even confiscate. But why is that fair? If you have been working hard on a project, and eventually a turn of events meant that the project suddenly bore fruit, why should the fruit of your labour be confiscated? Bear in mind that even windfall profits are taxed already, so if a windfall quadruples the companies’ usual income, the tax take is also quadrupled.

Even if you could justify it, how would you determine what level of profits are in “excess”? You cannot use a company’s past performance, because past performance will vary all the time. Additionally, most business are investing all the time. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. Nobody can know for sure, they can only make forecasts. Meaning, you cannot assess the non-excess profits coming from a company’s investment in productivity initiatives, such as developing technologies, building factories, etc.

Some businesses, such as in the retail sector, make a vast profit in the months leading up to Christmas, but struggle to break even the rest of the year. Others, such as technology or manufacturing, may be operating at a loss and not see a return on their investment until many years later, when profits will jump possibly to unexpected heights. Amazon spent almost two decades making a loss before it became the vast profit-making machine it is today.

Any attempt by the government to determine the level of profit a business deserves to receive means that the government is dictating how much a business can earn. It is a condition worse than employment, because the government takes the profit whilst business owners take the risk. Business owners will be disincentivised from starting businesses, ownership of businesses will fall, and the economy will decline.

When interest rates fall on my mortgage, the jump in my disposable income can be considered a bumper profit on my income. Or maybe I received a salary raise from a promotion after years of hard work. It would be unthinkable for the politicians to consider taxing the profits we reap from such events, because we understand that it is unfair and abusive. Yet the average voter does not consider it unfair for the government to treat businesses so abusively. This is because the propaganda from the media, from activists, from politicians, have persuaded us that businesses are not human, and that business owners are greedy inhumane people.

“Not for profit”

The NHS is often used as a paragon of “not for profit”. We are told that we shouldn’t be profiteering from human lives. But “profiteering” in what sense? Medical doctors and surgeons are usually paid handsomely in the healthcare sector. Privately-owned General Practices also reap generous operational profits from the healthcare funding they receive. So why shouldn’t businesses be paid for providing facilities and healthcare services?

it has puzzled me for a long time why businesses are discouraged from investing in facilities and staff in order to provide a better patient service. Modern healthcare isn’t a charity. Doctors and surgeons invest many years to qualify. Facility providers, equipment manufacturers, pharmaceutical developers, invest many millions and billions to develop, produce, and maintain the supplies, facilities, and staff that drive the healthcare sector. Most will not do it without the profit motive.

Many argue that it is immoral to profit from people’s poor health. If it is not immoral for doctors and surgeons to get paid, why is it immoral for facility providers to be paid for providing their services? If the healthcare sector were to be truly not for profit, then healthcare providers will be run only by charities. We would go back to the early days of the hospitals where only churches and similar organisations operated hospices out of genuine altruism.

The introduction of capitalism and the profit motive vastly amplified the provision of healthcare to masses far beyond the original charity-based provision. It spurred the development of drugs and equipment far beyond what was imaginable a mere 100 years ago.

Underneath all this anti-profit rhetoric lies two assumptions:

  1. People are unwilling to pay to have good health.
  2. Businesses contribute nothing but abusive exploitation.

Neither are true. People pay to go to the gym, to be taught how to exercise, to have better diet, to be taught how maintain a good mental state. There’s a vast health industry out there which is not actually essential for good health, but people do pay for it. How much more then, will they pay for services which are actually essential for to your health and life?

Businesses are operated by people. Businesses do not get funds from nowhere, and they want to make money from the work they do. If you disincentivise profit in healthcare, you’re just discouraging people from investing in healthcare.

Profit vs waste

Profit is just the difference between what you are paid and what you pay out. A profit margin does not necessarily mean you are being exploited. In a competitive market, businesses want to reduce the price of their services to be attractive to customers – the lower the price, the more customers who are willing to pay for their services. This means profit margins are usually very slim. They can further afford to reduce prices only if they reduce their operational costs. Employees need to be paid, and employees with skills and qualities they need will also have other employers willing to pay for their services. That means competitive businesses will need to learn to minimise operational waste.

On the other hand, what happens when profit is not a motive? Operational waste is a non-issue. If somebody else is paying for it, it doesn’t matter to the managers how cost-effectively the organisation is run. In the NHS, I have literally seen:

  1. 12 absorbing bed pads (costing £4) used to soak up a water spill on the floor instead of simply using a mop.
  2. 2 tubs of emollient cream (£8 each) provided by a prescription when I needed less than half a tub.
  3. 3 tubs of non-dairy formula (£18 each) provided by a prescription that my infant son never consumed because he didn’t like the taste of the first mouthful. They cannot be returned because they have been prescribed, and they have now expired.
  4. New uniforms for non-clinical administrative staff for no other reason than because the manager didn’t like the old ones.

This is just a small sample of the waste I have witnessed in the NHS in just the last 3 years. The stories I hear from every family and friend who work in the NHS are many times greater than what I’ve described here.

Using real world examples, it is very easy to understand how operational costs can run away when cost is not on everybody’s mind. The assumption is that is that profit drives up costs, when the reality is that non-profit drives up waste, which ends up multiplying costs far beyond what a small profit margin would ever add to the consumer price.

Unfortunately, the NHS is a government monopoly. Due to a combination of zero price effect and the heavy regulation of the healthcare sector, we have very little choice when it comes to alternative healthcare providers. Thus we are all subject to the poor standard of service provided by this “Not for profit” but hugely wasteful public service.


Is it not possible for unscrupulous traders and businesses to rip-off unknowing customers? Yes, absolutely possible. Then surely this is why we need to regulate the prices and profits? To every solution, you need to answer two questions:

  1. How successfully does it solve the problem?
  2. And what will the side effects of doing it be?

Say we have a builder who is charging rip-off prices for substandard work. Indeed the UK does seem to be plagued by a phenomenon called “cowboy builders”. How will the government actually prevent this? Will they even be able to limit profits? In order to do this effectively, the government might have to set up a registrar of builders who all have to pay a licence in order to be a registered builder – where your licence to operate can be revoked if you were found to be abusive. Then to prevent overcharging the government will have to put in place pricing guidelines. Which would be next to impossible given how customised the nature of the building trade is. Even if they managed to set a pricing standard, what will happen? Builders regardless of quality and experience will all have to charge the same price. A reputable builder with too many customers cannot raise his prices to reduce the demand for his services. An inexperienced builder will not see any worth in undercutting the expensive competitors because that will undermine his reputation for choosing to price below what has been standardised by a regulatory body. All this will come at great cost to both builder and customer.

Instead, all we need to do is advise customers to get several quotes for the same work. A builder who’s already got too many customers can choose to quote high. An inexperienced builder with not many customers might choose to undercut by quoting low, for low-paid work is better than no work. And the customer can then take the risk between waiting and paying high prices for a reputable builder, or takling the risk and paying low prices for a less established builder. Either way, both customer and builder can choose the level of risk they will accept. This solution still costs time and effort, but significantly less than the cost of regulation, and vastly more effective at moderating the market.

Likewise, for every industry, the cost of regulating profits is rarely ever considered, whilst large profits are assumed to be undeserved and should therefore be confiscated for the greater good. Therein lies the path to totalitarian communism. It is exactly why the following economies fell apart despite their starting size: the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Cambodia under Khmer Rouge, and more recently Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro. Time will tell if other countries fall prey  to the trap of victimising corporate “profit”. Keep an eye on Brazil under Lula.

The environmental costs of economic growth

The lie is often spread by “green” activists that economic growth is intrinsically harmful to the environment. They have embraced the idea that the CO2 is the greatest evil in the world, and want to punish every form of consumption, never mind how many human lives that will kill.

The lie is often spread, by “green” activists, that economic growth is intrinsically harmful to the environment. This conclusion is drawn by observing the environmental impact of our economic activities. But no attempt is then made to compare it with the alternative.

Let’s take motor transport, for example. Cars emit exhaust and pollution. We agree there’s environmental impact to those emissions. But what if we don’t have cars, what would we have instead? Cars consume hydrocarbon fuel and emit gas and some smoke and soot. Horses, camels, donkeys, and mules consume feed and emit urine and manure. Urine and manure are in and of themselves far more environmentally polluting than CO2, water vapour, and the comparatively trace amounts of smoke and soot. This is especially true when amplified by the distance you can travel using each form of transport. The emissions per 100 mile for a motor vehicle pales in comparison to the consumption excretions of an animal per 100 miles.

What about bicycles, aren’t they emission-free and better for your health? Yes, the exercise is generally good for you, but regular cyclists will know that their calorie consumption increases when they are cycling regularly compared to when they are not. I used to cycle 45 minutes to work and back. Each way consumed roughly 300 calories, so for my daily commute I had to increase my consumption by 600 calories a day. This would be relatively cheap if I were to consume pure starch, but that would also be unhealthy. A balanced diet would also include proteins, fats, and fibre. This increased my daily food costs by about £3 if I were cooking the food fresh. After the long cycling each way, I did not have the time and energy to prepare my meals myself from scratch, so I often ended up buying bigger lunches and pre-made dinners, so the costs of food were actually many times higher. In comparison, the cost of fuel for the same journey in a car was less than £1 a day. Although a bicycle is not an animal the excretes urine and faeces, I am as the cyclist the one who consumes and excretes more (sorry for the mental image). This cost to the environment is often uncounted because it is properly processed by modern facilities.

We can consider many other modern productivity improvements as well…

  • Light bulbs are far less polluting than candles and oil burners of the past. Oil burners themselves were less polluting than wood burning.
  • Tractors are less polluting and far more productive than cows. Cows themselves were far more productive and less polluting than human beings toiling the land by hand.
  • Personal computers are far more productive and less polluting than physical paperwork. Paper is far less polluting and cheaper than parchment.
  • Delivering emails are far less polluting and cheaper than sending letters by paper mail. Paper mail is far less polluting and more cost-effective than sending messengers.

Sure, you can suggest that we abandon all use of any convenience that increases our productivity. Where does that leave us? Unfortunately, not very much at all.

However, if you look at the realistic track record of history, you find that as society progresses, and technology improves, human impact on the environment is on a generally reducing trend, and one that’s far greater than any of us generally recognise.

I do recognise that consumption, at any level, has an impact on the environment. For the sake of the environment (and our personal financial health), I do agree that we should all minimise our consumption. So if you are environmentally conscious and want to reduce your consumption, you are welcome to. And you are also welcome to persuade others to reduce their consumption as well. That would be what a free society looks like.

However, every individual’s tolerance of low consumption is different. I have a tolerance of low temperatures, so my household will have its heating set to a much lower level than the average household. I buy clothes less often than once a year, meaning I am still wearing clothes that are over 20 years old. But because I am physically active with quite a naturally high metabolism, I need to consume more food than other people. As everybody is different, it is not for anybody to dictate to me or other people what level of consumption is excessive.

“Green” activists want to punish every form of consumption. They want to penalise and even eliminate the consumption of fuel, without regard for the cost that will have on human lives. They have embraced the idea that the CO2 is the greatest evil in the world, and the elimination of fossil fuel consumption is the greatest goal on the earth, never mind how many human lives that will kill.

This lie is not just immoral – it is deadly to humanity and to society. Unfortunately, emotional soundbites seem to travel further than evidence and reason.

About the ‘privatisation’ of Channel 4

So I hear the Conservative Party (aka ‘Tories’) want to privatise Channel 4.

Ostensibly it’s about future investment and economic sustainability… sounds very woolly to me.

More realistically it’s probably a politically-motivated ‘punishment’ for C4 in how aggressively it has been in its opposition to the government. Basically, it’s saying “cross us, and we will cut off your support”.

I’m not in favour of it. Why? There’s not sufficient justification for it. But, I’m also not overly against it. For the same reason: there’s not sufficient reason to oppose it. My main reason for opposing it is that I prefer publicly owned assets stay public, unless there was significant reason to change it, for example if it’s haemorrhaging public funds. So mainly my position is ideological, albeit rather weakly.

 I find it odd why a ‘conservative’ government would want to do this…  Though the Tories have a track record of privatisation (so did Labour when they were in government, but that’s another story), there’s nothing intrinsically conservative about privatising public assets. A truly conservative position would be to just maintain the status quo.

An ideology of liberalism, on the other hand, would favour liberalising companies from government control. So privatising Channel 4 would actually be a ‘liberal’ move.

The curious thing I find, is that the self-identified ‘liberals’ are the ones who are most outspoken against this move. The reasons I’ve seen revolve around editorial neutrality and the support of independent content producers that Channel 4 currently engages in. Here are a few more things that are odd…

  1. It is not a given that either editorial neutrality or support of independent content will disappear. A privatised C4 may still be bound by a charter to maintain its current public remit, and OfCom will also have the regulatory powers to enforce such a remit (regardless of whether or not such a  remit is in the charter).
  2. It is also surely more liberal for a broadcaster to not be bound by a government-created public remit? In a liberal market, independent content producers will attract broadcaster funding if they produce quality content that attracts viewers.

What does this all mean? Nothing good:

  1. Self-identified ‘liberals’ don’t know what liberalism is.
  2. The ‘Conservative’ party is not ideologically bound to conservatism.
  3. Political positions are not being taken on the basis of ideas, but about sectarian tribalism. Ie “as a leftie, I will oppose everything the Tories say or do”
  4. As these politics encroaches into more and more of society, people are becoming more partisan and hateful to those who disagree with them.

It’s a sorry sight to behold. I hope anyone reading this will take a look at themselves and the direction of society.

The golden rule is oft-said “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. But Christ taught us: “Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Fire and rehire

What is fire and rehire? And why does it happen?

What is the effect of banning fire and rehire? Bad policies can make a bad situation much worse – we have to be careful to not let good intentions cloud our judgement.

Driven by Labour MPs (of course), Parliament is now talking about banning the employment practice known as “fire and rehire” – a method for employers to reduce the wages they pay their employees, by releasing them from their current employment contract (fire), and then re-employing them under a new contract with lower wages (rehire). Sounds like a reprehensible tactic, doesn’t it? It’s unfair that employers can do this to their employees, right?

Why would an employer fire and rehire?

Sometimes businesses do need to reduce costs. Not just for the sake of profit, but it could be the difference between breaking even or unsustainable losses. Many big businesses will have bigger financial reserves, or are able to borrow money easier. But smaller businesses don’t have enough flexibility in their operational margins to weather losses for long periods.

Why would an employee accept fire and rehire?

If the employee can command a better wage elsewhere, why haven’t they gone to work for another employer, instead of coming back to their existing employer for a lower wage? Employees aren’t forced to stay with any employer. In a worst-case situation, the employee has to stay on the new lower wage only until they can find better employment elsewhere.

In most cases, unhappy employees facing an unfair reduction in wages should be able find another employer who pays them better. The only situations in which this is not true is if 1) there is a general economic downturn so wages are falling everywhere, or 2) the employee was being paid above market rate to begin with.

In both cases, why is it fair for any employee to get paid more for their work than everyone else on the market who does the same work?

What is the effect of banning fire and rehire?

Nevermind the issue of fairness. What’s more significant is the effect of banning fire and rehire on both employers and employees alike.

Without the ability to reduce employee wages, employers will not be able to reduce their operating costs as easily. More businesses facing financial difficulty will go out of business if they cannot lower operational costs whilst retaining the staff they need.

Alternatively, businesses can terminate existing staff, and hire new staff at lower salaries instead. This means existing staff are forced to become unemployed instead of simply having a lower wage.

It might feel unfair for an employee to be moved to a lower wage, but which is better, for employees to remain employed at a lower wage, or for the business to close down, rendering all staff and business owners without an income?

Bad policies can make a bad situation much worse – we have to be careful to not let good intentions cloud this reality from our judgement and decision-making.

What’s the harm in feeding the poor?

What’s the harm in feeding the poor? Why can’t we just print more money and make everyone a little bit richer?

What’s the harm in feeding the poor?

What’s the harm in regularly giving people money, with no strings attached?

Taking resources for granted

Was oxygen ever so scarce for you that you’ve had to conserve it, else you suffocate? Even though oxygen is a limited resource, our ready access to it means we don’t treat oxygen as if it is a limited resource. We not only consume as much of it as we want, we even indulge in escalating our consumption of it, such as when we participate in any form of physical exercise.

If a man had free access to money or food on a regular basis, it will no longer be a blessing, but an expectation. That means he becomes dependent on it, and perceives it to be a resource that he does not consider to be scarce. Have you ever had to work hard to receive your regular exposure to sunlight? Much as we take for granted that the sun will rise everyday to give us our daily dose of sunlight, if we get used to ‘free’ anything, be it food or money, we will start to take it for granted. Which means we will treasure ‘free’ resources less and not spend it as frugally.

The resources which supply welfare isn’t unlimited. Someone had to grow the food, and people have to work to produce and distribute goods and services.

Printing money does not create wealth

But what about money? Why can’t we just print more money and make everyone a little bit richer?

The problem is, money is just a medium of exchange. It is not a resource in itself, so producing more money does not produce more food or goods.

Let’s illustrate what this means: say you have a tiny economy that produces 100 bushels of food a year. In circulation in this tiny economy is exactly 100 silver coins. The people in this economy use these 100 coins to trade for the food each person produces, such that each coin buys exactly one bushel. So you can see that increasing the number of coins in circulation does not increase the number of bushels available to buy.

What happens if someone decides to create 100 additional coins for himself? With a total of 200 coins in circulation, this person will initially own 50% of all the coins, which makes this person able to buy 50% of all the goods available. But the number of bushels available to buy hasn’t changed, it is still 100 bushels. Now that 200 coins correspond to 100 bushels of food, someone who was once able to buy 10 bushels of food for his family with 10 coins, is now only able to buy 5 bushels of food, thanks to the money creation.

This person doesn’t create more wealth for himself, but by devaluing the coins that the others have, he actually steals the resources that other people have produced. This is the effect of printing money, a practice that many modern governments engage in, under the guise of “quantitative easing”. Sure, those who had more will have more taken away, but those who have little will have even less remaining.

Where does free food and money come from?

Coming back to giving people food and money for free. Since food and goods have to be produced through effort, the only way you can receive them for free is if somebody else sacrifices their payment for it. This is easy to accommodate if we are producing in surplus, but it is not safe to assume that production will always be in surplus. If a government creates more money than what is already in circulation, all it is doing is robbing from those who have, hitting the poor the hardest, adding to the numbers of those in poverty. To feed the new ones in poverty, the government can create more money, but the cycle then repeats, eventually creating a whole nation of poverty. This was the phenomenon of runaway inflation that plagued Zimbabwe and the Soviet nations.

But surely just as there will always be poor people, there will always be rich people? Not necessarily. The rich and poor aren’t two homogenous groups. People exist on a continuous spectrum of wealth, and individuals travel up and down it throughout their life. When government prints money to spend, all they achieve is to pull EVERYONE down. If they keep printing money, eventually even the wealthiest will be pulled down. By that point, everyone will be so poor that the resentment toward the few remaining wealthy will be overwhelming. It won’t take much for the remaining wealthy to be brought down by the force of mob rule – where will all the wealth come from then?

Modern methods of taxation are designed to ameliorate this. By taxing a proportion of people’s income and consumption, we mitigate the effect of reducing everyone’s wealth. But taxation has its limits: taxation will reduce a person’s income. So if a person’s income potential is so low they earn less than welfare payments, it makes little sense for them to be in paid work. The higher the levels of tax, the worse the problem gets. Likewise with the levels of welfare payments. This means that increasing tax beyond a certain level will actually reduce the overall tax take for the government.

Government does not have unlimited resources

All this is to say that government spending is not without limits – government can neither increase tax nor print money indefinitely. Which means the government has to choose to prioritise how it spends its budget.

In the UK, the two biggest spends for the government is 1) its national healthcare service, and 2) social welfare provision. With limited resources, increasing spending on one of these necessarily means reducing spending on the other. Yet socialists are perpetually calling for ever higher increases for spending on both the NHS and on social welfare benefits.

Sure, doing this bit by bit won’t immediately destroy your country – you’ll get away with raising tax a little bit, or printing a little bit of money every now and then. But every little bit adds up – when the movement is gradual, you don’t notice it happening.

Printing a little bit of money will not immediately cause massive inflation, but over time the cumulative effects of printing money means everybody’s spending power is gradually eroded: savings lose their value, those on low incomes will have even lower incomes.

In the same way raising tax a little bit might temporarily increase the tax take, until those who are just about managing to balance their bills find themselves with even less spending money, putting them below the breadline. This also applies to corporation tax: corporation tax is identical to income tax, except the income is a business’ profits. Businesses already struggling to break even will be driven to shut down.

As a socialist, you may think that your demand for increased spending won’t be enough to tip the whole edifice over, but how will you recognise the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

The push to spend more, to print more money, is precisely what leads to mass poverty. This has been the experience of every nation in human history which chose to indulge in socialist ideals.

Why shouldn’t we feed the poor?

Shouldn’t we feed the poor and hungry? But of course we should!

Unfortunately, any welfare system will create dependents, meaning it becomes unethical to reduce spending on welfare. Which means that the social welfare bill will only keep going up. At some point, somebody will need to say “no more”. Unfortunately, socialist ideologues will jump at this opportunity to condemn the ones who are brave enough to call for a stop to overspending.

The only way out of this trap is to not rely on government spending to feed the poor. Feed the poor yourself, out of your own surplus. Contribute to food banks, give the homeless a meal and a sheltered place to rest, and do your own part. Don’t rely on government spending to do it.

Have you heard of the saying “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for life”?

In conclusion: If you want to feed the poor, do it yourself. And if you can’t keep it up indefinitely, then we should teach a man to fish, thus feeding him for life.

Opposition to the EU is not the rejection of Europeans.

When a country which evidently rejects racism has democratically elected to oppose a political institution, please accept the simple evidence – it is NOT because of racism or hatred of Europeans.

I have many friends who are European. I have even more friends who are pro-Europe. I too, am pro-Europe. I want the best for Europe, its people, and all its constituent economies.

Yet, as most of my European and pro-European friends know, I am vociferously anti-EU.

This might seem to be a contradiction to many people. But that’s only if you think that the European Union is the same thing as Europe. It shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t. Here’s the difference between Europe and the European Union:

Europe is a continent. Europe contains 48-51 countries (depending on how you count them), not all of them entirely in Europe.

The European Union (EU) is a bureaucratic supra-national institution. It is a political union of 27 countries, where laws, regulations, and treaties are created by bureaucrats and diplomats who are not politically accountable to a democratic process. In effect, it provides an avenue for the rich, powerful, and/or connected to exert their influence.

Opposition to the European Union is opposition to this lack of democratic accountability. And yes, it is also a rejection of the policy of open door immigration. But rejection of open door immigration is not the rejection of immigrants. Wanting a fair immigration policy is wanting to treat all immigrants fairly, rather than favouring immigrants depending on their country of origin.

Unfortunately, when one opposes the European Union, many immediately assume that it is because we reject Europeans.

Sure, I don’t deny that there are some who oppose to the EU and the policy of open door immigration on the basis of nationalism, jingoism or even outright racism. But it is extremely unfair to characterise everyone who opposes the EU this way. The evidence indicates that the vast majority of British people are accepting of immigrants and Europeans – racism is a relatively fringe phenomenon. Indeed, the popular opposition to racism is a powerful testimony to how opposed to racism the country is.

When a country which evidently rejects racism has democratically elected to oppose a political institution, please accept the simple evidence – it is NOT because of racism or hatred of Europeans.

I wonder how many of my European and pro-EU friends would even read this far…

There are of course other arguments for being a part of the European Union, namely economic and political reasons. I have of course considered these arguments already, but those are altogether separate subjects. Please do let me know if there’s any specific subject or argument you think I should explore.

Morality vs law/culture/individual preferences

What differentiates morality from law, culture, or even preference?

All of the above tend to overlap a lot, but not always. I think we can all identify laws, cultures, and personal desires which are immoral. Which means morality must be separate from law and personal preferences.

We know that laws are made by man collectively, imposed by the majority/powerful. Whilst preferences are personal to each individual. Culture values bridges these two, in the sense that it is not constructed, but evolved through the collective preferences of individuals.

Values which are individual = preferences

Values which are collectively constructed = law

Values which are collectively evolved = culture

If morality had the capacity to judge all of these, moral values must be separate from all of them. If moral values are man-made, then they lack the capacity to judge either one or more of the above (because they would equate to one of the above concepts).

To put that into a working example, let’s take racism. Some individuals are racist. I think we can judge that individual’s values regarding race to be immoral. Some laws are racist. We can also judge laws which discriminate based on race to be immoral. Some cultures are racist. I think we can judge cultural values which denigrate people based on race are immoral.

But if morality is man-made, it must be relative. If morality is relative, by what standard do you judge a culture to be immoral? With relative morality, if you are able judge the racism as immoral, racists have just as much right to judge your anti-racism as immoral. Which is how morality which is man-made is self-defeating (paradoxical).

Fun facts about Climate change

Over the years, I’ve learnt some interesting facts about the atmosphere and climate change…

Cloud cover

  1. Water vapour is evaporated from the seas , which covers 70% of the global surface area.
  2. The warmer air is, the more water vapour it can hold. [1,2]
  3. The more water vapour there is in the atmosphere, the more cloud cover exists.
  4. Cloud cover blocks sunlight, reducing global warming.

Conclusion 1: atmospheric temperature is naturally regulated by water vapour.

Plant growth

  1. Increased atmospheric water vapour increases precipitation (rainfall).
  2. Increased rainfall increases plant growth.
  3. Increased carbon dioxide concentration increases plant growth. [3]
  4. Increased atmospheric temperature ALSO increases plant growth.

Conclusion 2: “global warming” creates a greener planet. This is a good thing.

Arctic sea ice

  1. Arctic ice is floating sea ice
  2. Floating ice displaces the same volume as melted ice. [4]

Conclusion 3: melted Arctic ice will not contribute to rising sea levels.

Inland glacial ice

  1. The worst case scenario projections of global warming/climate change estimate that the atmospheric temperature will increase by 5C over the next 100 years. Most estimates indicate a 2C rise over the next 100 years. [5]
  2. Average coastal temperature of Antarctica is -10C. The majority of Antarctic ice is much further inland, where temperatures are much much colder (in excess of -50C). [6]
  3. Greenland’s ice sheet has an average temperature of -12C in summer. [7]

Conclusion 4: “Climate Change” will not melt either Greenland or Antarctic land ice.

Sea levels

  1. Increased atmospheric water vapour increases precipitation.
  2. Increased precipitation increases polar ice.
  3. Vast majority of precipitation water is evaporated sea water.

Conclusion 5: as “global warming” increases polar ice, it may even lead to sea levels falling.

Greenhouse effect of CO2

  1. The greenhouse effect of CO2 is logarithmic [8]: the atmospheric concentration of CO2 needs to DOUBLE for warming to increase by 1.5%.
  2. Global atmospheric temperature has risen by about 1C over the last 150 years.
  3. Over this time, atmospheric CO2 concentration has risen from 280ppm to 415ppm.
  4. If we consider the worst case scenario, by assuming that all of global warming is caused by the rise in CO2: then a rise of 3C over current temperatures would require adding another 800ppm to atmospheric CO2.
  5. But, we have only increased atmospheric CO2 by 135ppm since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
  6. At the current rate, it would take over 400 years for atmospheric temperatures to increase 3C.

Conclusion 6:  We are nowhere near to increasing the atmospheric temperature by 3C.

Human emissions of greenhouse gases

  • CO2 contributes 26% to the overall greenhouse effect.
  • Human activity contributes only about 4% of global CO2 emissions (29 gigatons per year compared to 750 gigatons of natural CO2 emissions). [9]

Conclusion 7: Eliminating human CO2 emissions will reduce the greenhouse effect by only 1%.

The biggest greenhouse gas

  1. Water vapour is by far the most significant greenhouse gas, contributing an estimated 60% of the overall greenhouse effect. [10]
  2. There is no way to control the amount of water in the atmosphere.

Conclusion 8: Humans have very little control over global warming.

When did climate change start?

  1. Long before human activity, global temperatures have always been changing, millions of years before humans started burning fossil fuels. [11]
  2. In the prehistoric past, the world was a lot warmer but also a lot greener.
  3. In the relatively recent past (1600s), the world was a lot colder, where the River Thames in London would freeze over, an event almost unimaginable today. [12]

Conclusion 9: Climate change will occur even if all human activity never existed.

“Global Warming” vs “Climate Change”

  1. Global warming does not result in a uniform rise in temperatures – some places get hotter than others, and many places even get cooler.
  2. Climate change is often beneficial: Increased precipitation cools desert environments and warms arctic environments, greening both types of environments.
  3. Humans have always adapted to their environment: the desert nomads, the Inuits of Alaska, and the stormiest known place on earth – Kampala, Uganda… mankind have thrived and lived happy lives in these extreme climates.
  4. There is no optimum level of either CO2 concentration, or temperature for the global climate.

Conclusion 10: We shouldn’t fear changes in the climate unless it can be shown that we cannot cope with the adverse effects of change.

In summary

  1. Atmospheric temperature is naturally regulated by water vapour.
  2. “Global warming” creates a greener planet. This is a good thing.
  3. Melted Arctic sea ice will not contribute to rising sea levels.
  4. “Climate Change” will not melt land ice on either Greenland or Antarctica.
  5. As “global warming” increases polar ice, it may even lead to sea levels falling.
  6. We are nowhere near to increasing the atmospheric temperature by 3C.
  7. Eliminating human CO2 emissions will reduce the greenhouse effect by only 1%.
  8. Humans have very little control over global warming.
  9. Climate change will occur even if all human activity never existed.
  10. We shouldn’t fear changes in the climate unless it can be shown that we cannot cope with the adverse effects of change.

So what do you think? Does this make you feel less alarmed about climate change?

Feedback welcome.


[1] A closer look at evaporation and condensation

[2] Saturated Vapor Pressure, Density for Water

[3] Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth

[4] Why does ice melting not change the water level in a container?

[5] 2014 Energy and Climate Outlook

[6] Climate of Antarctica

[7] Climate – Greenland

[8] The Logarithmic Effect of Carbon Dioxide

[9] How do human CO2 emissions compare to natural CO2 emissions?

[10] Climate Data Information – Gases

[11] Earth’s average surface temperature over the past 500 million years

[12] River Thames Frost Fairs in London

Wealth and Inequality

Equality – or the lack of it – should be judged over a lifetime. Young people on low incomes with low levels of wealth may think now that anyone richer should be taxed more. But they should be careful what they wish for. Age is a huge driver of wealth and income. And it comes to us all.

No one is born earning £80,000, earns it for 40 years and then dies. Our income starts low, rises with experience and seniority and often falls again toward retirement.

The other reason why those on high-ish incomes may not feel rich is lack of wealth. There has been much talk of rising wealth inequality in the US and Europe. But there has been very little discussion about the fact that some of it is the inevitable result of two modern demographic trends: rising education and older people living longer. The later you start work, the later you amass wealth; the longer your parents live, the later their wealth trickles down.

Although today’s older generations benefited from favourable conditions, notably the run-up in housing prices, we must be very careful about introducing policies that treat income and wealth as static. In fact, the picture is constantly shifting. But it is worth remembering that most people who end up rich start out asset poor. As they earn and save, that changes.

One of the very few careers, by the way, in which you do earn pretty much the same amount every year regardless of your experience or your success, is politics. All UK MPs earn £79,468 a year regardless of skill or time served.

This could go some way to explaining why it is that ideologically driven politicians with little experience of working in the private sector are so often surprised by the failure of the “poor” to vote for more taxes on the “rich”.

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