Friday, 31 August 2007


Basra is terrifying. Informed Comment cannot be bettered. Read there and then think of the 500 British soldiers in Basra palace.

Measles and Authoritarianism's Expression

It is a marked characteristic of the current Labour Junta that despite maundering on about choice there is very little choice indeed for families constrained to use state provision of social welfare services. And much of this constraint for many families is delivered via punitive levels of taxation. So much is taken from earnings by the state that there is no hope of opting out.

Measles is a frightening illness; one small H.Girl caught it because the gap between the first jab and a temporary shift to another country became too long and unawareness of a missed vaccination intervened; like most small children she made a full recovery, but don't get measles, not even when you are grown up.

Any reasonable and reasonably aware parent must have been following the controversies over the combined MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccinations. So why, when the separate administration of vaccinations againt these three such dangerous illnesses is easily provided, was so much good will (and it is good will and the highest form of social cooperation, there are always a few who seek to swim in a sea made safe by the risk taken by others, and there is always some miniscule risk) deliberately undermined by the insistence from the state-provided health services backed to the hilt by a political, government directive, that separate vaccinations would not be provided throughout the country. It is on offer throughout Europe for those who want separate vaccinations but not all can afford to set off for France.

The impression that we must take not just what is offered but be forced to take it, even when crucially important and acceptable alternatives can be made available readily, - that we will do as we are told, when we are told or face the consequences (in the case of measles a steady rise in its incidence and the fear of an epidemic on return to school), is overpowering.

Wasting Children's Time

The reports that children's reading and writing skills, and their mathematical skills are lower now at age 8 than they were in 2000 raises more than the question of what is to be done for such a large tranche of the school population not meeting even the most basic levels after 3 years in school.

Never mind the waste for those who don't make it, what about the children who are meeting and over-meeting the required standards? Classes are still much larger than in comparable European schools, so there are whole groups of children in any class who are being undertaught or failing to thrive , or just not doing a lot.

There are myriad reasons why a class group should include every child, and it is in managing such complexly diverse sets of skills and aptitudes and nourishing every child's abilities that the worth of a teacher is displayed. But that is only possible when classes are smaller than the low 20s that have been reached in too few schools; more than 30 is not uncommon.

The solution to low achievement in schools was staring the state sector in the face: small classes, really small. The money that could have provided this has been spent otherwise; and the years, all 10 of them, have been long enough to waste the prospects of not one but two generations of primary school children.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The Lion Sun

In the days of the sol leone my red burmese, who could have made claim to being the Sol Leone himself, has rested on the hot bricks of the terrace, shaded by catnip and sage, taking his leave.
Now he is in his garden, under the magnolia stellata, and padding through the building at night with the ghosts.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Can You Forgive Them?

The Department for Children, Schools and Families denied that there was a target for taking children from their birth parents to meet overall adoption targets.

I cannot believe them and I cannot forgive them.

Without Arms

“No fool-proof means exist to prevent the misidentification of units in a highly complex and stressful battle environment and every system must rely on human judgment, training and procedures.” Statement from the ministry of Defence.

Well, that would be the case, wouldn't it? Always has been since time immemorial. Banners, uniforms, pennants, insignia, signals in all forms and colours - very beautiful they all look too on the battle sets of the past; and efficient.

But not in modern warfare; in modern warfare soldiers are dependent as always on their own courage, their companions' loyalty, their officers' command, their allies meeting the plan, but they are at the mercy of their political leaders' provision of longterm funding and its proper investment and administration.

Identification in battle takes consistent research and expenditure regardless of peacetime or wartime, and a level of technological production skills available in a limited number of economies; it requires long term co-operation with allies in stable alliances if air cover is to be provided by another force.

If aircover cannot be self provided, (and to rely on an ally for such crucial warfare inputs already puts into question any army's fighting capacities), if identification technology has not been even agreed, developed, produced, let alone provided, then an army is not under-equipped - it is not fit for battle as our military commanders have been saying, at first privately and , increasingly, publicly.

Courage is not enough and its squander is unbearable.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Can't Bear to Watch

It had to come, and with Bearwatch here we are; Sackerson is a team of like-minded, imaginative and informed people with a brilliant editor imposing constancy of level, style, and drive in complex argument so that post after post makes the drums roll louder.

And jealous is an inadequate word.

Result !

The arrival at the main door of the officer of the Forestale (green fatigues, black gun) and his sidekick (fewer epaulettes, bigger gun) was like the arrival of Little and Large. The napoleonic, charismatic, glittering teeth, eyes, curls, smile of my pocket-sized hero was backed up by the biggest armed man I have ever seen (he was oafish too! just like he should be, just like in all the books).

400 euros. And three Hail Mary's. And the assent of the Comune.

Now there's a bureaucracy to cherish. They were full of advice on avoiding such unfortunate consequences in future, they hoped the farm would flourish, they quite understood my need for a place to keep the agricultural machinery, they appreciated the care that had been taken to adapt and remodel unobtrusively what was there, and not disturb the landscape.

We were caught up in someone else's row; all understood this; efforts were made.

I am applying for a gun licence, nothing fancy, Mr HG has put his foot down over an Uzi. A light, sporting sort of gun . The Forestale officer and his staff will help me choose I'm sure.

First, obtain the application form from the local Questura.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Market Faking

Over 400 billion US dollars - 211 and 77 billion euros - were used respectively by the European Central Bank and the Fed in the last week to support and stabilise stock exchange market prices - not to mention the additional massive injection of funds by the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan; the Fed lowered its discount rate by as much as half a point at a stroke, thus lowering the cost of finance by about ten per cent. A good thing not just for financial institutions that had taken on, incompetently or imprudently or both, deliberate additional risk to which they were not exposed in the first place; but a good thing too for individual investors and house-owners (especially those with mortgages), and for pension funds (and, therefore, future old-age pensioners ) so to some degree worthy recipients; but there are losers just as worthy.

So what kind of market is it where prices are determined not by the invisible hand of demand and supply but by the visible clenched fist and muscle of the state, for central banks, independent of the government or not, are indisputably part of the state? In what way is the efficiency of financial markets enhanced by blunting the market discipline of rewards and penalties based on performance? Why is this massive intervention good when it comes to capital markets but bad when it comes, say, to a fund for stabilising the price of copper?

What is to be done to compensate the losers from this operation, those exposed to the resulting higher inflation and who see their standard of living falling to an extent higher than their gains as investors and houseowners and pensioners? These redistributive effects will never be looked into or taken into account by any authority .

The ultimate administered price, i.e. the discount rate, the last form of central planning, is acceptable while other administered prices are spurned even for basic goods such as bread. Should capital assets owners be subsidised by public resources whereas total unrestricted flexibility is demanded of the labour market? Or are the same kind of subsidies slyly being provided for sustaining labour demand and wage levels in the high unemployment economy we are really living in ?

The intervention of Central Banks to subsidise capital values is in truth matched in the United Kingdom by what is effectively a state Labour Agency acting as Employer of Last Resourt, providing 'jobs' for any unemployed willing to work. But the Labour regime, under Brown's old-style planned economy structures hides these central activities so important to retaining power, while their economic gurus are silent on these issues as Labour boasts of 'transparency' , the freeing of the labour market from 'restraints' , and thinks to tell the other member states of the European Union that there is need for these UK innovations of the last ten glorious Labour years under our 'outstanding' former Chancellor, to be emulated.

Just as those who lose from the rescue of capital should have some means of redress, and compensation so, too, there must be a return to the political will and policies to control trades union instigated use of the state in distorting and rendering inefficient the working of the labour market.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


The group of large and small islands off the western coast of Europe have no name that is agreed among them all. Each island and each nation state has reasons from the history that binds them, despite their geo-political commonality, to reject any name - not the British Isles (the most beautiful ), because the Republic of Ireland, which calls itself Ireland, objects; not Great Britain, because it excludes the Union with six of the counties of ancient Ulster; not the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland because it excludes the the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey (including Alderney, Herm, and Sark), and the Isle of Man.

What should we call ourselves? We belong together, we need to recognize our alliance just as much as we need to recognize our sovereignties. And the sovereignty that Westminster has exercised over Scotland is ending, just as it did in the Republic of Ireland (but please God without the violence), just as Scottish interference in Westminster , and essentially English concerns, must end too. Westminster's role in Archipelago politics has ended as surely as did Westminster's role in Asia, in Africa and in the old Commonwealth countries.

'Ever since the break up of the Roman empire one of the constant facts of political life in Europe has been the emergence of independent nations. They have come into existence over the centuries in different forms, different kinds of government, but all have been inspired by a deep, keen feeling of nationalism, which has grown as the nations have grown.
In the twentieth century, and especially since the end of the war, the processes which gave birth to the nation states of Europe have been repeated all over the world. We have seen the awakening of national consciousness in peoples who have for centuries lived in dependence upon some other power. ' As ever, Harold Macmillan speaks as he eats: 'The wind of change is blowing through this continent [or Archipelago], and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it.'

The European Union has not ended national, and more local, conciousness, despite the bitter complaints of those who regret that the second War did not yield to the victor the spoils. Within its federalist co-operation, smaller nations and smaller regional and princely states, subsumed in the late nineteenth century into greater powers, are thriving again without destroying geo-political links with their own interests to pursue.

We must achieve the same, become not the 'Penisola' that calls itself Italy but is Tuscany, Lombardy, the Veneto...but become the Archipelago of the Western European Isles, with each nation ruling itself, and each and every interest at the federated Archipelago level - towards the Atlantic alliance, towards the Commonwealth, and towards the benefits of co-operation with Europe - more acceptably balanced.

To do that the 'constitutional conversation' that has been set off in Scotland (as have so many other great movements within our Archipelago) must be extended to each and every one of our islands, the largest and the smallest, and a truly new politics must be forged.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

How To Cut Taxes

Every person should expect to support themselves until they are 70 years old.

Now. Not 'phased in' over the entire youth of the next generation; I'd like to benefit too from the boost in my income, never mind my children's.

All the pensioner parasites who think they've made it into Shangri-La - 70.

Or pay for yourself to stop working with private arrangements; (it's our own business what we do with our own money, if we want to do nothing whose to mind?).


Chris Goodman on Dale: You would think that Brown was a noble reformer taking Britain into the Twenty-First Century, not a duplicitous, tax raising, incompetent, in the dog end years of a failed government, whose charmless rise to power has been driven by nothing more than his conviction that he knows best how everybody should live - a belief (if the history of the Left is anything to go by) motivated by little more than boundless vanity and poisonous resentments.

How contemptible it is that the British people so passively acquiesce in funding such a morally corrupt, intellectually bankrupt, bloated leftist parasite.

I wish I had written that; thank you CG.

Friday, 10 August 2007

These Are Some We Printed Earlier

The Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan have injected all that money into their national, and into their international systems; buying assets in the financial markets releases their Blue Peter vault contents.

Every central banker , every academic financial expert, any propagandist - ,journalist or guru - always stands to benefit by talking up assets.

But I should have panicked sooner rather than merely gossiping about pre-announced catastrophes. Fortunately Mr HG was getting us out of fixed interest, though the stock exchange hurts him a bit.

The Last of England

My English passport has run out.

When a woman marries here she never loses her own name; on all documents I am always Hatfield Girl married into ....and then the name of our family. When I am laid to rest the writing will say just the same; so laying my English passport to rest is not laying down my name or provenance, but I would rather do a Muzio Scevola and at least earn the esteem of Porsenna, than give my fingerprints to the Labour authoritarian state.

'Signora, your new passport!' proffered the Carabiniere, when I called in to collect it; clerical assistants in the Passport Office can't hold a candle.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Let Them Drink Milk (except that's infected too)

Without clean water for 17 days, people in South West England have been told they will receive no compensation whatsoever. This decision by Severn Trent Water (who were contracted to supply under diverse penalty clauses) is almost impossible to challenge. Under European Union legal rules it is necessary to exhaust all domestic remedies first.

Unfortunately domestic remedies to this self-apportioned lack of blame are rendered virtually non-existent by their nebulousness and their cost. It is characteristic of much of the remedial measures that are available within England; hard to find out who is responsible, harder to find out how they can be held to account, immensely risky and expensive a course to set.

And without braving this course, there is no redress under EU rules that apply so plainly and accessibly to the rest of the Union, even if we haven't been opted-out, which in the main, we have.

Lots of research in current economics on obfuscation, cost, exclusion from effective remedy and the effective denial of redress as a business and governance practice is appearing currently.

Primary Purposes

Essentially keeping up with the authoritarian Labour regime requires knowledge of other authoritarian states, and imagination fired by the literary presentation of dystopias.

Che Guevara remarked that you cannot build socialist man without building socialist consciousness. Old minds honed by experience and learning, whether formally academic or from living along, are rarely susceptible to consciousness-raising by means available to a newly installed bunch of neo-fascist power stealers. In the memorable words of Hillary Clinton, it takes a village - ask My Lai, Civitella in Val di Chiana, consider the zbrodnia katyƄska, to name part of the sad role-call, before our generation will learn its lesson.

Lessons are offered to our children though; and we send them into the primary schools still thinking of such institutions as one of the greatest achievements of the post enlightenment world. After all, how many of us were propelled by education's jet engines, like Comets, into the bourgeoisie? Whole decades of academic study considered the rise and rise of the clever children of the formerly denied.

We are encultured to believe in education as our assault course on the Glittering Prizes. And upon this false conciousness within our generation is built the Project's programme to undo the acculturation and goals we lovingly nuture and sustain within our families both for public and financial success and, just as much, for personal fulfilment and enjoyment of the extravagant riches of our cultural inheritance.

You can fake everything but the closing prices, and the closing prices on the formal purposes of English primary schools are that 40% of the pupils cannot read or use simple calculation.
The true purposes of English primary schools and their success in target achievement is unpublished in the public domain.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Lidl for Onions

The kitchen garden is now overtaking life, diet, inner peace; cornucopias of vegetables and salads haunt my sleep - cookery books litter the house.

Help arrived yesterday as a family of badgers and an unknown number of porcupines tackled the green beans and the bottling tomatoes. If they eat all night and I cook all day it may be possible to keep Nature's largesse welcome.

In the shops green beans are 7 euros a kilo, tomatoes slightly cheaper - but I'm feeding the badgers - because they're worth it.

The Sovrintendenza alle Belle Arti has come through with agreement to allow some fencing close to the buildings. So next year there will have to be an arrangement for limited access to the fruits of summer for the animals.

Recipes for:bell peppers, courgettes, aubergines, green beans, giant tomatoes, teeny tomatoes like grapes, cucumbers, and lettuce (frilly, dark, light, plain..) are most welcome. The onions are not doing well.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

No Such Thing As a Free Lunch

Here is what was thought could well appear in the:

Economics Tripos 2008: Economic principles and problems.

1. Should pensions be regarded as a civil right (perhaps subject to employment record) or be determined by the return on a pensioner's past contributions to the pension system?

2. 'Globalisation destroys the very possibility of a domestic economic policy.' Discuss.

3. 'All that counts is the level and growth of national income; distribution can take care of itself '.
What is your response to this statement?

4. 'The market for financial derivatives has no beneficial role in the allocation of resources; it is a pre-announced catastrophe.' Discuss.

5. Consider the case for the repatriation of immigrants with reference to:
i Scottish politicians
ii Polish plumbers
iii those fleeing from hunger and torture.

6. Discuss the proposition that public private partnerships combine the worst possible features of both public and private enterprise and ownership.

7. 'The principle of central bank independence has neither theoretical nor empirical support.' Discuss

8. 'Corporate ethics is an oxymoron, as is market socialism.' Discuss.

9. 'Immigrants' benefits should be regulated by the principle of reciprocity. Migrants should enjoy benefits no higher than those enjoyed by receiving -state nationals migrating to their country of origin.' Discuss with reference to immigration into the United Kingdom from one developed and one emerging economy.

10. You have been appointed Chief Economic Advisor to the Hungarian government. What year, if ever, would you recommend the country should join the Euro, and why?

11. Why was the transition from central planning to the market economy marred - in central eastern Europe - by devastating recession, while China and Vietnam thrived throughout the same process?

12. The welfare state was killed by moral hazard. Illustrate this proposition either - by use of a mathematical model, or - with reference to a west European economy.

Livingstone's Insults

Livingstone's anti-semitic insults, the barely credible act of jew-baiting in a London street by the Mayor of London, were mentioned in a post on 16 July in the context of querying what decent members of the London Labour party were thinking of in accepting Livingstone's renomination.

Livingstone's election mill is grinding very small indeed as yesterday a comment was submitted to that thread defending him and denying that there is a growing antisemitism experienced and feared by London's Jewish communities.

When Livingstone insulted the Evening Standard reporter selecting those terrible images, after being plainly told that his victim is Jewish, and with all the force of loathing for the reporter he could put out, he involved every Londoner in his abuse.

Livingstone should never have been nominated and it is the London Labour party's shame that he was. Clearly Labour activists are equally shameless, uncaring of what they associate with both in the past and today. Many of London's voters will be more fastidious in their choice.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Apocalypse Now

Flood we have .

Plague was discovered to have set in this morning.

Ruin has been with us for some time for the UK government indulges in enron economics - off -balance liabilities, intertemporal transfers hiding true liabilities, understating contingent liabilities etc., and the wise check the accounts for sustainability, and watch United Kingdom credit rating by credit rating agencies, for an early warning - though probably too late to put things right. A decade of what Brown's been doing has Ruin staring the middle classes in the face.

Death has yet to put in an appearance, but give the Labour Leader time, at the current disaster-induction rate about another three weeks should bring Death.

Were it to rain frogs who could be surprised?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Cold Cuts

Denounced for an underground tractor shelter ( putting agricultural machinery close to the house is very noisy very early), it is not permitted to know by whom. Three Forestale in green fatigues and heavily armed, at least by any reasonable standard of what arms might be worn on a farm visit, photographed a dry stone wall supporting a raised field of olives with a pair of dark wooden doors let into it; nothing else can be seen.

The whole village is dying to tell who did it, a full scale game of fire,fire, ice,ice has been going on for days every time we speak to anyone. The reason no-one will say the name (because that in itself would be enough to generate a mini affront) is because of Revenge.

Revenge in Italy is an art form. It is extensive (hitting any known relative and sometimes relatives who are officially unknown, just for the added pleasure of Embarassment), it is inventive, (unforgettable the man who presented his wife with a dish of figs tastefully arranged around her lover's severed head), it is reverberating (there are repeated reassurances that the denunciation is part of a generalised denunciation to irritate other landowners altogether ), it is required.

The first and immediate action was to deal with the authorities. Italian authorities are slow to anger but once roused ... so the architect has been disturbed from the seaside, the lawyer is sweltering in Florence instead of sitting with his feet up in the hills, appropriate delicate discussions have taken place with a charming (armed) chief forester, the town hall has given an entirely off the record view of its view, and the tractor shed remains, tucked away displaying only its discreet wooden doors while the agricultural plan gains a clause or two and we pay 500 euros for il processo.

Required, though, really means what is to be done in revenge. The getting of things by 'raccomandazione' - jobs, contracts, permissions, connexion, standing, opens a broad field of fire. Allies are coming forward, kinship links reviewed, discreet gestures of support made, distaste at this treatment of the family (ours, not the institution) is being intimated by those families with ours for generations (in this kind of matter) as kindnesses and courtesies from decades back are acknowledged. There's no hurry - we'll get him.

Perhaps He's Keeping His Armies up His Sleevies?

Wrestling Labour's Leader back into a straitjacket is becoming a priority.

After the Leader's speech to the United Nations on invading Darfur, here (courtesy of the Napoleon in Egypt blog), is:

Napoleon's Proclamation to his Troops - who did not yet know where they were going - on the nature of their mission :
TOULON, 10th May 1798

"Soldiers, you are one of the wings of the army of England.* You have fought on mountain and plain, and besieged forts; it remained for you to wage a maritime war.

"The Roman legions, which you have sometimes imitated but not yet equalled, fought against Carthage both by sea and on the plains of Zama. Victory never abandoned them because they were constantly brave, patient in the support of fatigue, well disciplined, and united.

"Soldiers, Europe has its eyes upon you.

"You have great destinies to fulfil, battles to fight, dangers to overcome. You will do more than you have yet accomplished for the prosperity of your country, for the happiness of mankind, and for your own glory.

"Sailors, infantry, cavalry, artillery, be united, and remember that on the day of battle you will stand in need of each other, &c. "

* The Revolutionary French named their armies for the intended object of conquest. The Army of England had been intended for a Channel crossing. Diverted to Egypt, it became the Army of the Orient.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


"The formal transfer [of Denmark's responsibilities to the Iraqis and the British], takes place today (Tuesday) in Iraq," said Army Operational Command ."A small ceremony will be held with a parade in Basra ."

Defence Command Denmark stated two thirds of the battalion have already left the base and military equipment has been taken to Kuwait.

The Danish army is not revealing all troops' final departure date for security reasons "but everybody will have left Iraq and Kuwait within the next two to three weeks and will be back in Denmark again".

British troops are now in tented , surrounded enclaves, in temperatures at inferno levels, without competent air cover, and without allies in the whole of southern Iraq, except for guerilla-infiltrated Iraqui 'security' forces. They haven't even the luxury of 'a final departure date', that is too dangerous to those left temporarily behind to cover the retreat, to be announced; they haven't even been left the Danish military equipment.

Whose army is Labour's leader sending to Darfur?