A libertarian returns to Scotland
"Freedom and Whisky gang thegither"
- Robert Burns
"Freedom and Whisky gang thegither"
Friday, 31 May 2002
From the West Wing of the Blog House
Directors of companies need to set the standards for others to follow by adopting a professional approach to obtaining recognised business qualifications.This line of thought immediately rang a bell in the Blog House. Consulting the administration's copy of Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, I found this quote:
It is not generally realised that education can never be more than indoctrination with theories and ideas already developed. Education, whatever benefits it may confer, is transmission of traditional doctrines and valuations; it is by necessity conservative. It produces imitation and routine, not improvement and progress. Innovators and creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely the men who defy what the school has taught them.
In order to succeed in business a man does not need a degree from a school of business administration. These schools train the subalterns for routine jobs. They certainly do not train entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur cannot be trained. A man becomes an entrepreneur in seizing an opportunity and filling the gap. No special education is required for such a display of keen judgment, foresight, and energy. The most successful businessmen were often uneducated when measured by the scholastic standards of the teaching profession. But they were equal to their social function of adjusting production to the most urgent demand. Because of these merits the consumers chose them for business leadership.
But as Mr. Sunter says, it is Scotland's new business start-up rate which is the problem. That will not be solved by producing more MBAs. What is needed is a huge cultural change and a slashing of red tape. Let's start by abolishing that pointless waste of taxpayers' money, the so-called Scottish Enterprise..
Thursday, 30 May 2002
Quote of the day
Travelling with Alistair Darling
The World Cup
More on religion in schools
Educating children against the wishes and demands of Muslim parents is a breach of their human rights and un-Islamic.He is quite right about the "mis-educating" and "de-educating" in state schools but that's caused by the schools being run by the state in the first place. In Scotland, we have state-funded Catholic schools and state-funded "secular" schools and now others, like the Muslims, understandably want a piece of the action. The only moral solution is to get the state out of education altogether. When parents purchase education in the marketplace there can be a whole variety of schools, religious and otherwise, without any group feeling hard done by.
The state schools have been mis-educating and de-educating Muslim children for the past 40 years.
Wednesday, 29 May 2002
Hoist by his own petard
Reality reasserts itself
Tuesday, 28 May 2002
Meeting the public
Monday, 27 May 2002
More on property rights
Is what's good for GM good for Scotland?
Capitalism and Welfare
Sunday, 26 May 2002
Saturday, 25 May 2002
It's Saturday evening......
A politician vandalised
I can’t help thinking, though, about just how much Mr. Dewar’s Scottish Labour Party has done to undermine property rights in this country. I wonder if Labour's hierarchy will draw any useful lessons from these incidents.
I remember it well....
Friday, 24 May 2002
At whose expense?
Who owns the borders?
Thursday, 23 May 2002
An attack from south of the border
Save the Gardens
The dinner opposite the Mound
Wednesday, 22 May 2002
The omnipotent state
Will the sun rise tomorrow?
A more moderate solution
Tuesday, 21 May 2002
An elegant solution
Another EU bust-up?
”Thinking about the unthinkable”
Self-belief not dependence
Why is that helping us to become an enterprising nation? Because the only way to shift from a dependency culture to a "can do" culture is by educating our next generations that enterprise is for all.
I favour privatisation of schools but this programme is a very welcome change in the state sector.
Monday, 20 May 2002
Less devolution please
Conversely, in Britain, power is vested in the Crown and leased downwards in ever more limited doses. Even the language of alleged decentralists — ‘devolution’, ‘subsidiarity’ — assumes that the natural place for power to concentrate is at the centre.
Unlike some libertarians, I am absolutely in favour of "full fiscal freedom" for Scotland - with all taxes being collected here and any mutually agreed sums being sent to London for common services. In the US, 18% of taxes are collected by the federal government. In Switzerland it's 27%, Spain 39%, Germany 44% and Italy 48%. Here, the central government in Westminster collects an amazing 87% of all taxation levied in Britain. No wonder the "devolved" assemblies are out of control. Who wouldn't be with their kind of pocket money? Let's make them responsible for collecting their own taxes.
Three putts and you're mugged?
Friday, 17 May 2002
Not yet in the net
Eight frustrating hours
Then, I got my regular e-mail from Gary North at The Daily Reckoning
You know when I knew the dot-com mania could not be sustained? In 1996. How did I know? Because I had read so many computer manuals. Only that tiny handful of companies in each field which sell utterly indispensable products could survive despite their manuals. The manuals were universally terrible, but we have to have a few programs, so we learn without the manuals. The manuals were the tip-off: "mania in progress; crash will follow." As a Texas A&M professor of computer science told me in 1996, "We cannot find any manual that does not have on average one instruction error per page, except for the NeXT manuals." NeXT was not a major player, despite its founder, Steve Jobs (the co-founder of Apple). How could anyone who ever tried to read a computer manual have expected the Nasdaq to overtake the Standard & Poor's 500? But they did.
So there we are. As we libertarians always knew, companies which make life easy for the customer have a future. The others will have to answer to the marketplace.
Middle East and dictatorship
Thursday, 16 May 2002
The absolute truth?
Holes in the road theory
Mr. Inglis then goes on to write about poor maintenance of our roads.
The lack of maintenance over the past decade has, because of the potholes, temporary road surfaces, soft verges, crumbling bridges and culverts, lack of white lines, missing road signs, choked gullies and drains, left the roads in such a state that they present a hazard to all road users.
All very true. But all the usual suspects are telling us that poor railway maintenance is the result of privatisation of the track. And the roads are owned by? …..oops, the state.
On BBC Radio Scotland at 5.40pm today, it was announced that a senior minister had said that the government would introduce a bill in the next parliamentary session to hold a referendum on joining the Euro. The 6pm News reported that the prime minister’s spokesman had announced that there were no such plans. So now we know.
Tuesday, 14 May 2002
Someday my bus will come
Fife man insults London tourist
Monday, 13 May 2002
New Boeing 747? - Only 300 Sixsmiths to you guv.
(Note for overseas readers: £200,000 was recently paid in compensation to Mr Sixsmith, a departing civil servant.)
Even more confusion
Diederik van Hoogstraten’s article celebrating the politics and personality of Pim Fortuyn (May 11) was a nasty racist rant which in an unintentional way illustrated one of the key causes of the present rise of explicit libertarian racism in a number of European countries. This is that many states have yet to recognise properly and publicly the implicit, indirect and institutional racism which disfigures their otherwise liberal societies. This in turn has created a political space for members of the libertarian right to mis-present themselves as liberals fighting to defend decent values under siege by alien incomers.Why is there such confusion about the term libertarianism? I have no doubt that some of Mr. Joyce’s own ideas could legitimately be described as libertarian but that most could not. The same applied to Pim Fortuyn. As I wrote on Friday in response to Melanie Phillips – not an ideological soul mate of Eric Joyce - there is a huge libertarian literature available for anyone wanting to understand its essentially straightforward message. I suspect that those on the left and on the right who misrepresent libertarianism know full well what it means and are rather afraid of its appeal.
Saturday, 11 May 2002
Up, up and away
Taxconsumers mug taxpayers
Friday, 10 May 2002
Liberalism has to be rescued from the clutches of the libertarians.
Bizarrely, Ms Phillips seems to think that we live in a libertarian society. None of the hundreds of books I have read about libertarianism use the term as a synonym for libertinism. If only the good old word liberal hadn't been stolen by the socialists there would be a lot less political confusion.
Thursday, 9 May 2002
The radical centre?
Bruce versus Bruce
Who was that lady?
She is a dynamo with "almost shockingly libertarian" views.Calm down, that bit was about Condi Rice.
Wednesday, 8 May 2002
All right for some?
No such thing as a free school
The most interesting and controversial questions related to the continuance of Roman Catholic schools and to sectarianism in Scotland…. But the schools question is important because it raises a real philosophical issue. It places two things, each of which is desirable, in opposition. Social harmony is desirable and it is at least arguable that the existence of separate schools makes this more difficult to achieve.
But if social harmony is desirable, and only a fool would think otherwise, freedom is also a good thing; and the entitlement of parents to choose faith-based schooling for their children is a freedom not lightly to be denied them.
He goes on to say:
There can be no question that the ending of religious separatism – which means the abolition of Catholic schools – would deprive parents of a freedom that they have good reason to value highly.
Massie seems to think that “social” harmony and freedom are in opposition. But there is no lack of harmony in a free society. The “problem” of religious schools is a consequence of state financing of education. We can hardly blame Moslem parents from wanting their own tax-funded schools, given the current situation. As always, it is the heavy-handed presence of government that is the cause of disharmony. There is no public debate about harmonisation of the provision of food, clothes or books – we all buy what we want in the marketplace. Once education has been privatised there will be harmony in our schools and far better education as well.
Ironically, in Massie’s second article on a quite separate subject he says:
Hayek wrote “Social is a weasel word which has acquired the power to empty the nouns it qualifies of their meaning.”Quite so.
Yesterday, I noted the Sick Fee - £25 sign which I had seen in a St Andrews taxi. Today’s Scotsman has an advertisement seeking a supplier to provide taxi services for the Scottish Parliament. I wonder what the sick fee will be.
Glasgow Herald columnist Iain MacWhirter writes today:
Fortunately, Mr. Sheridan (leader of the Scottish Socialist Party) is a red-blooded socialist who wants to unite the working classes of whatever colour in the cause of socialism. He may have some daft ideas about nationalising the oil industry, but at least you won’t hear him talking about repatriation of immigrants.
I suppose it’s some kind of breakthrough if nationalisation is now seen to be a “daft idea” even for red-blooded socialists.
Tuesday, 7 May 2002
Having sorted out Ireland.......
Rangers won 3-2.
A visit to Adam Smith's home county
The highlight of the evening for me was the chance to meet Sir John Cowperthwaite, formerly Financial Secretary in Hong Kong and now living in St Andrews. Sir John’s economic policies were largely responsible for Hong Kong’s stunning growth and prosperity.
Last week, Wendy Alexander, (INSEAD MBA) resigned as Scotland’s minister for enterprise (and transport and lifelong learning!) She has been succeeded by Iain Gray, (Oxfam), whose lack of business experience has been causing much concern up here. Would it not be wonderful if Sir John could somehow be appointed enterprise minister?
I took a taxi from St Andrews back to the nearest station at Leuchars. There was a large notice in the cab stating: Sick Fee £25. Apparently, new students from the US take about a year to get acclimatised to Scottish licensing laws and often have to pay up after throwing up. Arrash Zafari’s article in Katallaxia calls for further liberalisation of the licensing laws as a way of providing additional part time employment for St Andrews students. Perhaps there is a business opportunity here for impoverished local students to operate a taxi cleaning service thus providing a free market redistribution of wealth from the possibly more prosperous newcomers from abroad.
Monday, 6 May 2002
Whisky and Whiskey ?
A mixture of Scottish and American guests enjoyed a talk given by Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary. This was followed by an address from Jamie McGrigor MSP, Deputy Spokesman on Rural Development for the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament.
Congressman Sensenbrenner talked about terrorism and emphasised President Bush’s determination to deal with it vigorously.
There was an interesting split among the Scottish guests. Some thought that devolution was a disaster that would lead to more and more socialism while others sought full fiscal responsibility for the Scottish parliament as a way of making politicians face up to financial realities. Despite the domination of Labour in Scottish politics it should be noted that the Conservatives are the only party ever to have won more than 50% of the vote in a Scottish election since the war. A satisfactory settlement of the “national question” may well lead to a return of former Conservative voters from the SNP which is strong in many rural areas, small towns and suburbs.
Adam and Austria
Friday, 3 May 2002
Hey, Hey - we’re the Monkees!
Liberal Democrats: We demand that bars are immediately removed from all prisons. So-called criminals should not be locked away in “human zoos”.
SNP: We are urgently upgrading our plans to run a slate of West Highland Terriers in next year’s election. No, we are not barking mad.
Conservatives: All monkeys are obviously French spies and were properly hanged in Hartlepool in the good old days. Lesser primates should be flogged.
Labour: We reiterate our support for the EU banana policy – not straight, not curved, but the middle way.
You'll take the high road?
Thursday, 2 May 2002
Scottish news-UK World business & sport news from ScotlandOnline
The Scotsman - Opinion - Letters - Tyrannical states
Wednesday, 1 May 2002
Let’s look at this map, which was recently shown on Instapundit where our attention was drawn to the visual evidence of the difference between the North and South Korean economies. Now zoom westwards. What’s that large blob of light across central Scotland and continuing up to the northeast? Some of us eating our deep-fried Mars bars under the lamppost no doubt, but quite a few are out at work generating £857 per capita in exports compared with £639 down in England.
According to the Office of National Statistics, Scottish GDP per capita is 94.2% of that of England - not quite in the North Korean league. Indeed, of the twelve UK economic areas, Scotland’s GDP per head comes in at number four, beaten only by London, the east and the southeast of England. The real economic divide in the UK is not between England and Scotland (nor for that matter Wales and Northern Ireland) but between the southeastern corner and the rest. It’s up to us Scotbloggers to support the growing number of business leaders up here who are loudly calling for pro-capitalist policies and also to explain just why the UK economy is so skewed in favour of the southeast.