A libertarian returns to Scotland
"Freedom and Whisky gang thegither"
- Robert Burns
"Freedom and Whisky gang thegither"
Saturday, 27 August 2011
Around 85 per cent of the Authorised Version comes from Tyndale, whose muscular poetry he describes as “bitten into our tongue”. Tyndale gave us so many enduring phrases: “let there be light”, “a man after his own heart”, “rise and shine”, “filthy lucre”. But even by the KJB’s time some of this language had what Bragg acknowledges to be “a halo of antiquity”. The verilys were already quaint.Orwell too was a great fan of using short and simple words whenever possible. And as for elitism, I for one think that we have far too little of it!
Many Christians today use more modern translations: surely as democratising in their clarity as Tyndale was in his. I poll my friends and find that the practising Christians use modern translations – arguing that the King James Bible is “elitist and exclusive” – while defence of the KJB comes from my secular, literary friends.
This event was marred by a continuous noise of background music from somewhere in Charlotte Square behind the tent. Bragg himself mentioned it during his talk. Someone from the Festival should have gone outside and sorted it immediately. Perhaps such an action would be seen as elitist! Well, that's what we were paying for.
Friday, 26 August 2011
Dull but worthy would sum up this event.
Angiolini probably isn't going to be a media star like Ferguson, but then again Ferguson isn't ever going to be Lord Advocate...
You may think that Mr Macwhirter is a traditional old-time socialist, but some of us have been working on him! A few months ago I attended a dinner that featured Macwhirter as guest speaker. After his speech I chatted about the banking crisis, insisting that it was caused by government, not the free market. I explained that (unlike conservatives) libertarians had fully expected such a crisis, understood its cause, and had opposed the bailouts. And so it was with great pleasure that I heard Macwhirter introduce Ferguson just as would a hardcore libertarian, including a reference to "communist banking". The invisible hand in action!
From a presentational point of view Ferguson was easily the best speaker I've heard so far at the Festival. More importantly, his talk was a direct attack on the soft collectivism that so threatens Britain and especially Scotland. Mention was made of the Austrian School and why people were turning to gold. We heard about the six "killer apps" that had enabled to West to beat the Rest:
1. CompetitionThese apps are all in the process of being "deleted" here while being "downloaded" elsewhere, particularly in Asia. I for one see no sign of this process being reversed.
3. Property rights
5. The consumer society
6. The work ethic.
Later on I had a nice chat with Macwhirter after getting Ferguson to sign a couple of books.
RBS misleads children
When the price of goods goes up over a period of time it's known as inflation.That's true. Increasing prices are now known as inflation. However, I prefer the original definition: inflation is an increase in the money supply, which (other things being equal) leads to price rises.
Perhaps RBS does employ at least one person who gets this simple point.
More worrying were the next two sentences:
When goods go up in price, it also gets more expensive to borrow money. A good time to save!Well, perhaps in the good old days that would have been a good time to save. Not now! The political class is bailing out its banker friends by keeping interest rates below the rate of inflation and savers are being ripped off. Royally ripped off perhaps...
Thursday, 25 August 2011
This was a very professional presentation that was followed by lots of questions. Sadly, the hardcover version costs £30. I'll wait for the paperback.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Down Mexico Way
But the talk (and the book) was mainly about the huge drug industry on the Mexican side of the border:
This absorbing odyssey along the Mexican-American border gives pause for thought to anyone who ignores the side-effects of cocaine. Not those on the users, but the calamitous impact on Mexico and its people.At one point Vulliamy praised the work of the US police and said that was perhaps an unusual position for a Guardian writer to take. Back in standard Guardian mode he complained about widespread gun ownership in US Border states but then said the El Paso had one of the lowest murder rates in the country!
We had an interesting chat with Mr Vulliamy after his presentation. We discussed Ron Paul and the other Republican candidates. Vulliamy thought that Rick Perry would get the nomination and would win the presidency.
He said that a big problem in Mexico was what he described as the "privatisation" of previously communally owned land in the border villages. This was apparently a consequence of the introduction of NAFTA. I countered by saying that, on the contrary, such a transfer was the opposite of privatisation, and represented theft by the state of existing privately owned property to be given to the friends of the state. Land owned by the villagers since time immemorial is just as much private property as when it is owned by corporations. Vulliamy accepted my point and I extended this line of argument to cover the banking crisis in which we also saw the state bail out its friends - the exact opposite of the free market.
Vulliamy said that there is a body of opinion that holds that the financial crisis of 2008 would have happened earlier were the big banks not stuffed full with drug money.
I vividly recall my own one-day visit to Mexico that ended up with a scary drive through an unlit Tijuana trying to find the US border. After this talk that's not something I'd wish to risk again.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
I'd guess that most of the Book Festival regulars are more Guardian than Telegraph types, to put in English terms, and I wasn't too sure what folk would make of a Thatcher-era adman. Nae problem: John had them eating out of his hands. Looking every inch the creative director in his brown shoes, stripey socks and powder blue suit with a garish lining John won lots of laughs and applause, especially when he explained just why he personally was responsible for the introduction of boxer shorts into the UK. Buy the book if you want to know...
Sadly, I wasn't called in the questioning session - there were so many raised hands. I was going to ask about the relationship between the creatives and the finance folk in agencies. And if any of you ask about "creative accounting" I'd say that my former boss and I spent ten years of drinking time wondering where the 20p difference was in our ancient hand-written ledger!
Monday, 22 August 2011
But when O'Hagan came onto the stage he seemed too short. And the accent was wrong. I spoke to this O'Hagan afterwards and he was rather amazed to discover that he had a doppelganger.
O'Hagan's hour-long talk was an impressive performance, even if I disagreed with quite a bit. He spoke widely about the Scottish condition and the full talk is here. I liked this recollection:
I tried to tell a story my auntie had told at the counter of a chip shop in Shettleston. It was about the war, about an old couple in the Gallowgate who suffered a bomb blast that blew both of them out of their living room into the street below. They survived. ‘It was awright,’ said the man to a reporter later, ‘it’s the first time we’ve been oot thegither for 40 year.’Unfortunately there was far too much of that mawkish collectivism that so mars Scottish life. It really will have to go if we ever become independent.
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Map of a Nation
The Ordnance Survey organisation was formally started in 1791 and a comprehensive programme of mapping the UK was undertaken. The south coast of England was a priority during the Napoleonic period.
Interestingly, Hewitt stated a preference for real, paper maps over GPS systems and the like. I agree. In fact I sometimes think it a bit wimpish of me if I have to consult any map when I'm in the car.
Friday, 19 August 2011
Homage to Catalonia and Caledonia
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Born in the USSR
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
What a difference a day makes
And what a difference.
Bishop Hill puts it this way:
This was one very passionate lady - there was an intensity to her that at times verged on the frightening.Well, I wasn't frightened: I was delighted with this performance.
Birbalsingh told us that the reason that the country is run by Old Etonians isn't so much to do with an old boys network but because they receive an excellent education. And how she wanted the same for "her kids". It was clear that Katharine didn't especially enjoy being a media star - it doesn't pay very much for a start! - but just wanted to get back into teaching.
Let's hope that her planned "free school" is one of those few that get the go ahead.
Needless-to-say, the real solution is to privatise all schools.
Apart from one useful idiot questioner the audience seemed to be entirely on Birbalsingh's side.
Sunday, 14 August 2011
The highlight of the evening was seeing Sarah and Gordon Brown in the book signing tent. Keeping a wary eye on the at least one and possibly three bodyguards I approached the great man and told him that "My gold shares are doing very well." Without batting an eyelid Gordon smiled and replied "As they should be"! Does he own the odd sovereign?
It's that time again
Monday, 1 August 2011
We haven't gone away, you know...
It's at times like this that one should read some history, and that's just what I've been doing.
I'm now about one third of the way through Austerity Britain by the excellent David Kynaston. I heard him at last year's Book Festival.
Here's a quote:
The Willesdenites were asked what form their new ideal housing would take; as usual, only a small minority (15 per cent) opted for the self-contained flat. But by this time the government had already introduced new subsidy scales for local authorities that in effect gave them a significant financial incentive to build blocks of flats of four storeys or more, as long as they had lifts.What's fascinating is that the professionals - the architects and the planners - were convinced that people should prefer flats because they represented a more communal, or socialist, way of living, which would involve all kinds of state-provided leisure pursuits in each building.
The people, the mainly Labour voting people, didn't want to know.
And here's what happened in Dundee only yesterday:
And here's some more socialist projects biting the dust :