Monday 28 May 2018

Scapegoated Capitalism – Ben Irvine

I brought this, interesting and easy to read, book on the recommendation of James Delingpole in his weekly article in the Spectator.

The basic preface of the book is that throughout history, from witches to capitalism, people have needed scapegoats that become a focus of attention on which to blame the problems they face.

The current anti-capitalist movement blames capitalism for all life’s ills and as with all scapegoating their criticisms of capitalism actually make things far worse. Capitalists are not perfect but largely left to their own devices they do more good in the world than bad and are certainly preferable to government initiatives and intervention that so often make matters worse. Furthermore the more the government restricts and penalises capitalists, to pander to the anti-capitalists, the worse things become.

On page 117 there was a pertinent paragraph that was applicable to THA:-

“Every anti-capitalist knows that no colonial government has ever achieved anything more than questionable results in the course of intervening in its conquered nations economic affairs, Yet, strangely, anti-capitalists fail to draw the correct general conclusions , i.e. that the economic planning of rulers tends to be woefully inadequate when it comes to fulfilling the needs of millions of citizens. The best decisions come from free people, who are more motivated to improve their lives than a government supposedly acting on their behalf. And whereas free people can adjust quickly when things go wrong – leading to innovation and progress - government planners adjust slowly, if at all. The government workers who have the largest incentive to respond to feedback are (elected) politicians, but the temporally distant threat of being unelected hardly compares to the real-time incentives faced by free people trying to succeed for themselves. Meanwhile government bureaucrats have a large incentive to lie to their bosses about the results of the politicians’ policies; no one gets promoted for reporting failure to a senior bureaucrat. When you add in the fact that all government workers are tempted to keep public money for themselves rather than spend it on the public, or at the very least to spend it profligately so as to demonstrate to the budget holders that the money was ‘needed’ and will be needed again, the prospect of enlightened government planning recedes into negligibility.”

This paragraph confirms for me the advantages of a smaller localised government and a free people directly able to influence their rulers when needed.

THA’s six demands will improve our system of governance for the better which is why they are so needed.


Tuesday 22 May 2018

Can new parties change the system of governance?

An early dissident to our strategy, of applying pressure on existing politicians to accept our demands, cited the Italian Five Star party as evidence of a new party making rapid progress.

This returned to my mind due to the main Spectator article this week which covers the potential coalition between the ‘alt-left’ Five Star and the ‘hard-right’ Lega. The trouble, which both parties will face, is that their coalition still has to operate within the existing dysfunctional political system that since the 1990’s has been dominated by the corrupt and obscenely overpaid political class. As a result, if the coalition comes off and lasts, one cannot help wonder how much they will both actually achieve within the existing system before they themselves are corrupted by it.

It is for the above reason, that to get the political changes we seek, we are determined to stick to our six demands for a more ‘people responsive’ political system which we believe can best be achieved when enough pressure is applied to our existing MPs.

Our six demands come as a package and our task is to educate the public of their worth and need and explain how they must bring pressure on existing MPs to adopt and support them or lose support at elections.

Another interesting aspect of the Spectator article shows how under-reported these political developments in Italy are in our media. One obvious reason could well be that both Five Star and Lega are both united in their hostility to the Euro and want to see the EU radically reformed especially the Stability and Growth Pact which compels member states to keep budget deficits below 3% of GDP. It would simply never do for the likes of the ‘Europhile’ BBC to report too many anti EU stories.

Monday 14 May 2018

Democracy for Realists - by Achen & Bartels

If I laboured reading the book on Epistocracy I positively had to drag myself through this one which I only achieved with huge chunks of skim reading and bye-passing the 44 incomprehensible figures and tables.

The author’s basic theme is that the romantic folk theory of democracy, with thoughtful citizens voting in competent governments, is not supported by analysis. What they reveal , which was no surprise to me, is that people’s votes are largely directed  towards parties and other key factors like the economy or even good or bad weather, at the time of the election, and have little to do with the actual competence of the next government.

The authors base their analysis on the USA, where they are from, and believe democracy needs a rethink but do not offer any alternatives. What they do say is that realising and accepting that the current system is broken is “ a prerequisite to both greater intellectual clarity and real political change.” Amen tho that.

As I said last week, while I accept that western democracy is not perfect it is better than any of the alternatives that have been tried. THA is very clear that the election of representatives who carry out the often boring task of governing us on a day to day basis should remain. However there should be new powers given to the people which allows them to properly monitor and if necessary challenge the government of the day between elections. It matters not why the people elect one party over another or whether they always censor their government well. The point is that it is for the people to decide their own fate and the more practice they get, at checking thier government, the better they will get.

The only alternative to the increasing involvement of the people before, during and after elections is to be increasingly governed by an elite who would gradually become further removed from the desires and wishes of the people they govern.

Achen and Bartels are yet another two who point out reforms are needed but come up with no real alternatives. On the other hand THA’s demands, to reform and improve our system of democracy, and make any government more accountable to the people, has six specific proposals and has yet to be bettered.