Saturday, January 17, 2009
I said a couple of days ago that I would write again about the comparison between Gaza where 200,000 refugees arrived in 1948 & Hong Kong where 600,000 refugees arrived ob the same period & the obvious disparity now between the 2. Also how to make Gaza rather closer to the success Hong Kong obviously is.
In the interim I learned of this article from Israeli libertarians which covers much of the same ground:
The reason for Gaza’s endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA,
UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) — only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West’s largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom.
Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza’s population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.
The West pays for food, schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the military hardware....
As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza’s extreme demographic armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their brothers or neighbors.....
Even creating Palestine is not an answer. It would serve to relocate a million “refugees” to Palestine thereby increasing the problem. The problem being that the policies of the West are instrumental in supporting a population explosion which vastly exceeds the creation of jobs. Is the world that stupid or do they have a different agenda.
And yet, despite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA’s budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza’s untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.
I am not so naive. UNRWA and Palestine, are intended as a war against Israel.
David Gelernter suggests in The answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.and I agree with him
“The problem will be solved as soon as the world stops trying to solve it. When the international community moves on to fresh causes, so will the Palestinians.”
The problem can only be solved by the U.N. replacing UNRWA and with UNHCR whose mandate it is to resettle refugees. This of course means that the Arabs and the West have to take such refugees in.
it (the West) may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West’s well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.
I think there is no chance that the US (31%), EU (nearly 50%) are going to take 1 1/2 million Gazans any more than Israel would (or indeed any more than the other Arab states will).
However the basic point of the article seems irrefutable - that "aid" to refugees has not worked to stop them being refugees but to keep them, in ever growing numbers, in that status & to deprive them of hope of getting out. We may wonder whether Arab pressure to keep a vast number of refugees on Israel's border was purely altruism. We might also wonder whether the German led EU's decision to keep a vast number of refugees as a threat to the Jewish state was entirely altruistic either. On the other hand debating the blame doesn't solve anything. We may also ask why the EU & US have not been willing to give the same generations of aid to Serbia to resettle the 2 million Serbian refugees our policy deliberately produced. To be fair we would then have to wonder whether Serbia & Republica Srpska would be better off it they had received such help, or whether they would be closer to the corrupt Kosovo & Sarajevo regimes which have had such help. Benefiting only the corrupt thugs we selected to commit genocide & form governments there.
I propose instead that those who have given billions in aid to maintain the problem do considerably less to make Gaza (& the West Bank though the problems are different) not merely self sufficient but prosperous.
The absolute requirement is an uncorrupt administration (not government) willing to uphold free contract. That means policing carried out by honest people not the kleptocrats who have got so wealthy (the widow Arafat for example is living in great luxury in Paris). I suggest that after Hamas have been disarmed, or killed if they insist, a new police force very well funded by the west, acting in concert with the Israelis but commanded by clearly independent uncorrupt officers not appointed on western political whims. I suggest that Singapore, one of the world's least corrupt countries (with a Moslem minority & good relations with Israel), be approached & asked to appoint one or more of their senior Moslem officers, given full leeway to enforce the pre-existing laws.
There need & should be no more government. No taxes to collect. If outsiders want to pay for hospitals etc as they are already doing then fair enough, though if it goes to funding street gangs, as in practice, most of it does now, then that would be as much of a criminal offence as it is here.
Beyond that the aid givers should build sufficient port facilities to ensure there are no barriers to foreign trade. The EU & USA should also give a 10 year freedom from all tariffs for manufactures or services from Gaza. This would cost far less than any traditional aid, indeed free trade doesn't actually cost anything. If they have more money to spare & the record of the last 60 years says they have, then they could do something like guaranteeing 20% of any loan by any bank to individuals in Gaza - not enough to make unrepayable loans sensible but enough to make money available.
That would do it. Gaza's economy would take off in a way that makes China look staid. People would have something to do other than making babies & something to lose by starting another war.
The losers would the international bureaucracies which need people to "help" & who, together with politicians whose "achievements" have been promoting peace in the Middle East, would be entirely discredited by such a libertarian solution after decades of statism making it worse. This is why it will be opposed even though another group who would be discredited by a successful modern Arabic state would be our al Quaeda ex-friends.
The most important part of this is a very strong uncorrupt police force firmly enforcing the rule of law & allowing people to do business without thugs/community leaders turning up & stopping them & no western politicos jogging their elbows. This is why I suggested Singapore which has maintained such law & is in 4th place as the world's least corrupt. Fortunately this would be easier in a small community - it would mean about 3,500 officers if at the same population ratio as Britain, many of whom could be recruited from or allowed to live in Israel - an easy commute - though I am assuming less lawyer serving delays, more serious punishments & initial policing done with IDF help.
As regards the West Bank the economic position is less desperate but the logistical & policing problems more difficult. I have been told that before the Intifada the WB had an average income about 60% of Israel's because (1) so many people worked in Israel & (2) many local manufacturers were subcontractors for Israeli firms. That made them the richest non-oil Arab nation. Obviously such contacts & prosperity could not survive suicide bombers but if the will were there to stop the bombers it could be rebuilt.
I should point out that in proposing a society with no legislative or administrative government I am not proposing my personal ideal. I think a society with welfare is a better one & that there are functions that government carries out better than the market (eg fire brigades & sanitation). The thing is that "government" in the Palestinian areas has been so corrupted by western aid & local tribalism (or possibly vice versa) that it has to be deconstructed & only once they have rebuilt a society working on personal responsibility can it be rebuilt.
Lord Digby Jones a former junior minister in Brown's cabinet (inducted as part of his "government of all the talents") told Parliament public administration committee about our civil service:
"Frankly the job could be done with half as many, it could be more productive, more efficient, it could deliver a lot more value for money for the taxpayer.
"I was amazed, quite frankly, at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat that they never ever worked under, because it doesn't exist."
Since government employment has increased by 2 million people & an after inflation increase of £200 billion over the last 11 years this is a pretty thorough damnation of the government by a junior minister of that government.
It also means that, so long as the Tories make use of it, it will be impossible for Labour to trot out the old line that if the Conservatives want to cut spending that must mean firing nurses, doctors & photogenic people because no efficiency savings are possible.
Whether the Tories make use of it is a different question - they should quote it in every leaflet, press release & relevant interview. Good advertising takes on what everybody really knows to be true (like this) & repeats it even after it gets boring. Advertisers know that when people are bored by an advert it has hit home.
It also makes the 9% Growth Party's policy of 2% efficiency savings & 2% annual personnel cuts by natural wastage, while more radical than most of the other parties, look pretty anaemic. John Redwood who has called for a 20% cut over a Parliament also agrees that "Digby Jones makes me look quite moderate or feeble." Of course both of us said this before the present crunch & I for one would now call for the at least 90% abolition of some parts of government, particularly the regulatory ones.
Since Digby Jones was appointed by Labour they cannot now claim that he is immoderate & since everybody really knows he is telling the truth it will make it particularly difficult to rubbish him. The Tories should make it particularly difficult to ignore him & I hope they have the cojones to do so.
I also think that, as an experienced manager, what he said about the inability to fire people for being incompetent was important. If you can't fire a servant they aren't a servant. An example of what you get is the relationship between Hacker & Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister. You don't have to fire many people to get the point across. On the other hand an organisation doesn't have to feed many lazy incompetents before everybody realises they can safely be lazy & incompetent too.
The civil service get massive index linked pensions & early retiral which are hardly popular with the rest of us. It is obvious that we serfs do not get the guaranteed jobs for life. They are, in practice, the idle rich & privileged of today.
Any party going into the election on the basis that they would cut such privilege drastically would not only be acting in the best interests of the country but would chime with popular sentiment too.
The good news for the economy is that if we can survive with such a bloated "service" we could certainly have a successful growing economy with 2 million more productive workers & £200 million more to invest each year (I mean really invest not simply spend which is what most politicians mean by the word).
Friday, January 16, 2009
Hamish MacDonell's article [(Tuesday) on the history of Forth crossings] is quite right to point out that the cost of the previous bridge, in today's inflated money, would be about £300 million - one fourteenth of the estimate for an equivalent bridge today & one seventh of the mini version now proposed. For some time I have been trying to get anybody in power to explain why this is, without success. [ My suspicion is that it is entirely because of the morass of government bureaucracy which has built up in recent years. If so the answer is obvious.]
Richard Rogers recently said that of the £670 million spent building the Millenium Dome only £46 million was actually spent on building it so we clearly have a problem.
Technology has progressed since the previous bridge & the Norwegians have cut over 700 km of tunnels at £3.5 to £10 million per km. The tunnels for the Glendoe power station were also of this order. Government's reaction to automatically reject it on NIH grounds (Not Invented Here) but a Forth Tunnel could be cut for about £40 million.
One suggestion from the paper's online comments is that a tunnel, being less visible, does not have the iconic spin off value for politicians. That suggests a poor view of the vanity of politicians but may have some truth.
There was also a very good letter yesterday comparing the cost with the Severn bridge:
Hamish Macdonell (Debate & Opinion, 13 January) was spot-on: the Forth Road Bridge cost £20 million in 1964 and is worth £280 million in 2009. However, he did not question why the new bridge is to cost more than eight times the cost of the original. It is ironic that, due to the financial situation, the price of steel has plummeted close to 1964 prices, and it is amazing how everyone has accepted the extortionate cost of £2.34 billion without question.
That the Welsh got a six-lane, motorway-standard bridge, at twice the length of the Forth's proposed four-lane one, for a mere £300 million under a PFI scheme with Laings seems not to have registered at Holyrood or Westminster. Holyrood has even more reason to question the cost when the Scottish Government's own renowned financial adviser, Professor John Kay, has already "expressed astonishment" at the proposed cost. As a cable-stayed structure, even after the price was virtually halved from £4.2 billion, it remains by far the world's most expensive – before the finance is sorted.
Here is one of my previous articles with a link to the Norwegian tunnel prices.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
uk_news/england/manchester/7828121.stm Have been listening to a long sympathetic BBC radio interview with an educator saying he is talking rubbish and that the only reason there is no dyslexia in Nicaragua & Korea is because they speak Spanish & Korean
True neurological dyslexia exists, but it is extremely rare, closer to 1% than 5%. Alas, up to 20% of pupils have been diagnosed as dyslexic. One problem is that "dyslexic" and "dyslexia" have no actual medical meaning: it just means that the subject can't read, and says nothing about why; but the implication is that the dyslexic have some form of neurological disorder, and therefore can't be taught to read by ordinary teachers and parents, and thus teachers and schools must not be blamed when the kids don't learn to read.
And that is dangerous hogwash. When I asked my mother, who taught first grade in rural Florida schools (and who was always a bit ashamed that she had only a 2 year Associate degree from the Florida Teachers College in Orlando, not a full college degree from a university) if any of the hundreds of pupils she had in first grade left unable to read, she said that a very few didn't learn to read -- "But they didn't learn anything else, either." The notion that a child of reasonable intelligence would not learn to read English in first grade was alien. She expected all the children to learn, and they did. She had never heard of dyslexia.
In these days of children who don't speak English there are complications that weren't usual in rural Florida in the 1920's, but the number of children with real dyslexia hasn't changed.
For those who know people of any age from 5 to adult who cannot read English and need to learn it, see my wife's web page http://www.readingtlc.com and pay attention. Roberta's reading program works, and it will teach anyone of reasonable intelligence (that is, not pretty obviously retarded) to read English in about 75 lessons of half an hour each. It is based on her experience as a reading specialist' she has taught in private and public schools including the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system, and the program is based on her experience. It works. Understand that by "able to read" we don't mean "read at grade level" or read books with limited vocabulary. We mean read any book in the English language. Clearly we don't mean that 2nd graders will understand a Dickens novel, but there is no reason that child cannot read the book. We don't mean anyone will understand polymorphicaldiethyltoluene because there isn't any such thing, but if you can read English you can read that word, and there's no reason a first grader cannot -- painstakingly -- read it.
This is lifted from Jerry Pournelle's site - I sent him the link after hearing the BBC Radio reporting of this which included no words from Graham Stringer the Labour MP who was sufficiently honest & politically incorrect to say this & a long sympathetic interview with an "educator" in which she made the astonishing claim that the reason there is no dyslexia in Nicaragua & Korea is because those languages are structured in such a way that dyslexia is impossible, unlike English. While this is the only possible answer other than to say that our "educators" are incompetent it is quite obviously complete rubbish & yet the BBC interviewer said not a word to question it.
Even the Scotsman's report on this is loaded
DYSLEXIA experts and charities have refuted controversial claims that the condition is a "fictional malady" created by the education profession to cover up bad teaching of reading and writing.
Graham Stringer, the MP for Manchester Blackley, said the dyslexia "industry" should be killed off through the "magic bullet" of teaching children to read and write using a phonetic system.
"The sooner (dyslexia] is consigned to the same dustbin of history the better," wrote the Labour back-bencher in his online column for the Manchester Confidential website.
He also suggested there was a link between illiteracy and crime, claiming that Strangeways Prison in his constituency was 80 per cent full of people unable to read and write.
However, Dr Robin Pauc, who runs the Tilsley House clinic for children with learning problems in Hampshire, said: "I think he is barking up the wrong tree. There is no doubt that dyslexia exists. You can't blame educationists. Dyslexia is global."
Dr Pauc also rejected Mr Stringer's claims that if dyslexia really existed, countries as diverse as Nicaragua and South Korea would not have been able to achieve literacy rates of nearly 100 per cent. He said: "My first book was reprinted in South Korea, so why would they want a translation of a book on it if the condition does not exist there?" since any article which starts saying the argument has been "refuted" rather than "disputed" is neither impartial nor accurate.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
ISRAEL - UNPUBLISHED LETTERS
I have sent several more letters to the Herald, Scotsman & other Scottish papers over the Gaza war without them being published. It may be that my mention of the killings & enslavement in Kosovo, a subject which our media censors, rather than pure anti-Semitism is the reason though I note that the Herald has run no letters criticising former Labour Councillor's disgraceful letter inciting pogroms against Jews, while publishing another from him. There is certainly considerable media bias in the reporting.
Letter to the Scotsman 7th Jan
Among the various solutions to the Gaza problem presented in your columns that of John Douglas (letter Monday) is perhaps the most ethical. He proposes we resettle them in the Highlands. All others rely on the Israelis sacrificing themselves for our peace of mind (or perhaps oil security). Personally i think there is not the slightest chance that any party proposing this could be elected here, any more than any Israeli one which proposed opening their borders to 1.5 million Hamas voters could.I'm sorry they chose not to use this since it links to my freemarketism. It also puts me in a minority of 1 of those proposing an actual solution to the Gaza problem. Albeit it doesn't give the Gazans their ancestral land back it would give them a prosperous future. Of course it would only appeal to those who want to end what is probably the biggest national dependency culture in the world & the problem is that those world organisations running the "aid" system are more dependent on it than anybody. I may write in some more detail on this in future.
Nor is there any need to. In 1948, as Gaza was being created, 2 million Chinese refugees fleeing from Mao arrived in Hong Kong - a territory equally lacking in resources & even more densely populated. Gazans received lavish "aid" to remain as refugees, distributed by an ever expanding UN bureaucracy, which gave the greatest rewards to the most well armed, whinging & kleptocratic. Hong Kong got a rough rule of law, minimal taxation, less regulation & full economic freedom.
It was enough. It is not resources that create wealth but individual ingenuity set free. Hong Kong came to be one of the richest countries in the world, not only exceeding Gaza but exceeding Britain & matching the US & Ireland. With a free non-parasitic government Gaza could do the same. So could we.
To the Herald 6th Jan
I note the Herald has yet another letter from Bashir Maan today (Tues) following his previous one on Friday inciting "reviving & spreading anti-Semitism in the world". This indeed, as he said "bodes ill for Jews all over the world". Even more ill is that the Herald, having decided to publish this disgraceful threat, decided not to publish any letter disagreeing that pogroms in Britain were the way to go.To the Scotsman 8th Jan & subsequently the rest of the Scottish papers
We are seeing numerous politicians, members of the political establishment and a vast amount of media coverage attacking Israel for killing civilians in bombing primarily aimed at a Hamas which has been firing rockets at civilians for 8 years.
On the other hand may I point to the remarkable failure of the British media to report on the massacres in Kosovo, such as Dragodan where at least 210 unarmed civilians were murdered in cold blood a few hundred yards from the British HQ; the bombing campaign in which 80% of those we killed were civilians; the ethnic cleansing of 350,000 people: the kidnapping of thousands, probably 10s of thousands of schoolgirls to sell to western brothels; and the kidnapping of thousands of Serbs to dissect, while alive, so that their body organs be sold to our hospitals. All of these are a matter of public record, carried out by "our" police (formerly the NATO armed KLA), an organisation whose connections to the Skanderbeg division of the SS is also a matter of record. They were carried out with the enthusiastic support of most of the self same politicians who now condemn Jews for far lesser actions in self defence.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
P*k* is simply a diminutive of P*kist*n*. It is not inherently racist any more than Sc*t is racist & N*rth Br*t*n isn't (don't try this in Glasgow folks).(post 5.09pm)
It is a geographical term which has been declared racist by the PC brigade & they have thus decreed that Asian is the "correct" term. Thus the BBC can, with a straight face report that "Asian & Chinese youths clashed today in ...." which I would consider insulting if I was Chinese.
This & a few other remarks inspired Iain to another item saying
It's a term I would never use and one which nowadays causes most people to squirm whenever they hear it. Indeed, just typing the word 'paki' in this blogpost makes me somehow feel uneasy. Yet, if I were in Pakistan, I would have no such worries. A commenter (Curbishlyauto) points out the website Paki.com, which claims itself to be Pakistan's biggest online portal.
Perhaps British Pakistanis should reclaim the word 'Paki', just as gay people have done with the word 'queer' and African Americans have done with the word 'nigger'. The trouble is, it's only acceptable for members of those groups to use the words to each other. The next stage will be when everyone, no matter what their colour or background feels able to use any of those three words without the group they refer to being in any way offended. I suspect we are a long way from that happening.
This is perfectly reasonable & it seems from the evidence given that, like the banning of the word "Christmas" allegedly in case it upset Moslem sensibilities, the campaign to demonise this word came not from people whose ethnic origins are from Pakistan or places nearby (PWEOPPNs) but from the PC industry (particularly members of the National Union of Teachers (NUTters). I responded:
Iain's is a balanced response. The problem is that the media's isn't. They have acted as judge, jury & executioner in this & are now willing to semi-forgive him because he has engaged in a very Maoist self criticism session.Anybody who has read 1984 will know how Orwell went on at some length about how Newspeak was created as an abbreviated version of English from which subversive words were removed making subversive thoughts impossible. I have doubts if that is entirely possible since what actually happens is that such words become "swear words". Nonetheless we can see in Iain's "just typing the word 'paki' in this blogpost makes me somehow feel uneasy" how successful this campaign is.
This is the same media which deliberately censor any mention of our government's role in the kidnapping & dissection of 1,300 Serb teenagers to provide organs for our hospitals. You can carry out the most disgusting atrocities as long as you use only approved language to discuss it. Orwell wrote a book on the subject.
As an example of how such things change see how Brand & Ross were able to discuss f*ck*ng (ok so I'm old fashioned) but the very funny episode of Fawlty Towers in which the major reveals about girls that he "once knew one". She kept referring to Indian cricketers as "niggers" seems unlikely to be broadcast again. The major explained to her that you couldn't call them that because "niggers are from Africa, Indians are wogs" & the relationship ended.
Monday, January 12, 2009
An interesting article from Spiked entitled Why Rate Cuts Stir So Little Interest. The quote comes from about half way through. The first half is given ober to how ineffective all Gordo's "initiatives" have been & is thus retreading old ground. As reformed Marxists they may not be high on some radars but should. While they don't go on to say exactly what this new something to invest in is it does chime with what I have been saying about cutting government restrictions, building nuclear power stations & X-Prizes being what is needed.
If government would stop preventing people having investment opportunities I am sure there would be no shortage of money to do so & thus no recession.
If investors knew we were building new power plants to deliver as much inexpensive power as we could use (ie nuclear) no investor would be worried about the lights going out. If they knew they would be allowed to build houses or produce GM crops or even golf courses they would be building doing so. If they knew that the few hundred millions of pump priming to get commercial orbital flight was available all industries which would benefit from space development (ie almost all of them) would shift into high gear.
Instead they know there are billions of government hand out to be made from windmills, though even there the fact that the builders know that their "industry" will never survive on anything but endless government subsidy means that they don't invest unless they know they will be in the black in a couple of years because they fear government might come to its senses.