onsdag 16 maj 2018

UK productivity questions

The latest UK productivity figures for the first three months of 2018 are not good, prompting the usual recriminatory comments. However, there are basic questions which rarely seem to get asked.
  • Transport costs.
  • High reject rates. 
  • Remedial work having to be done on finished products.
  • Inefficient layout of factory premises.
  • Inefficient delivery of components and sub-assemblies to workbenches.
  • Works kept waiting for components to arrive.
  • Products not designed for efficient production.
  • Excessive down-time of plant and machinery. 
  • Poor communications between management and shop-floor workers. 

It is a subject that needs to be put under the microscope if remedies are to be found. Hand-wringing achieves nothing.

torsdag 10 maj 2018

The Journey East #10



Three of us were received into the Orthodox Church today. One of us was baptised in the lake and then Chrismated - anointed with Holy Oil, on the forehead, eyelids, ears, nose, mouth, hands and feet. The others two, being Roman Catholics, were only Chrismated, having been baptised already.

Many thanks to all involved, including those who acted as Godparents and Fr Mikael Fälthammar, who has given us the course of instruction and received us into the Church.

It is one of the most important event that anyone could have in their life. The journey is of course not over. This is a staging post on the journey.

lördag 5 maj 2018

Spare us the Marxfest

There is a flurry of articles about Marx today, it being the 200th anniversary of his birth on 5th May 1818. If only the Soviets/Red Guards/Khmer Rouge... had really understood, Marxism would have led to a paradise on earth.

fredag 4 maj 2018

Why do people still praise Marx?

Every so often someone comes up with an article in praise of Karl Marx and suggesting that we should take another look at what he wrote. If you have a subscription you can read the latest offering, in the FT of all places.

What Engels observed in England in 1840s Manchester was not capitalism. It was the consequence of the large scale land enclosures which had taken place between 1760 and 1840, which had transformed a self-sufficient peasantry into a class of wage slaves with no land rights. The bit about wage slaves was correct; the process by which this happened on the ground was described in detailed by the Hammonds in The Village Labourer.

The periodic economic crises which characterised the US economy, and indeed, the general development of the US, were analysed by Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty, published in 1879, which promptly became a bestseller, remained so for half a century and is still in print and available on-line.

George contradicts Marx, obliquely, by defining his initial concepts rigorously and noting that there are THREE factors of production, Land, Capital and Labour, as opposed to the TWO factors postulated by the Marx and his followers - Capital and Labour; Marxist theory buries the concept of Land by rolling it into the category of Capital (and sometimes wealth. Any possibility of analysing the particular and specific characteristics of Land economics, and its role in the economy, is thereby stymied.

Unsurprisingly, this suited the landowning interests, since the role of land was effectively airbrushed out of economics theory, with whole textbooks devoting just a paragraph to the the topic. Even Catholic Social Teaching did the same thing, with the original encyclical Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII, published in 1891 burying land under the category of Property. Keynesians did the same thing. So does Pickety, as does everyone who regards land as wealth, or refers to a housing crisis without making it clear that it is underpinned by a failure in the land market.

If there is one nineteenth century writer on political economy who needs to be re-evaluated, it is not Karl Marx but Henry George.

onsdag 2 maj 2018

Sickening article in the Guardian

This article paints a glowing picture of multi-cultural Malmö. I mentioned in comments that the recent immigration had had a disastrous effect on the Jewish community in the city. My comments have disappeared without trace.

So much for freedom of discussion. Left-liberalism, Guardian-style, is taking society down a road as dark as any the right could contrive.

måndag 30 april 2018

The Journey East #9

To leave the Catholic church one has to send a completed form to the local parish. I did not want to send it without an explanation. Here is the main part of what I wrote.

Since the arguments on both sides have been rehearsed endlessly and inconclusively for 1000 years, this is not something that can be resolved by recourse either to debate or history. There is nothing I could add; more erudite people than me have tried. If the Orthodox Church is heretical, then so must be all the saints in the pre-schism Church.

The issues come down to theology, ecclesiology, and their manifestation in liturgy, devotional practice, church architecture, art and music; it seems to me that the problems which have afflicted the Catholic church over the past forty years have their roots far back in Catholic ecclesiology.

One attends liturgy to come into the presence of almighty God. Since the Orthodox liturgy, and its setting, creates the most favourable possible circumstances for that encounter, my conclusion is that I should accept the providential grace which has made this opportunity available.

onsdag 11 april 2018

The death of civilised debate

The Guardian has been steadily reducing the number of articles on which comments are allowed. On the newspaper’s web site, which used to appear under the slogan “Comment is Free”,  attributed to its famous editor C P Scott, comment is now restricted to the most trivial of topics. As for the commenting opportunities that still remain; where, formerly, comment was normally open for three days, it is usually closed after a few hundred responses.

There are many reasons why this has happened. The newspaper has been a staunch defender of immigration, looks down on criticism of Islam and regards Islamic immigration as unproblematic. This was a widely held view, before Isis and the series of sexual abuse cases came to public attention. These called forth responses ranging from reasonable criticism to xenophobia and outright racism. On the other side, the reasonable criticism was attacked as racist or Islamophobic.

Then came Brexit, an issue which has divided the British bitterly. This is reflected in press attitudes. Both The Guardian and the Financial Times took a line strongly defensive of the EU, to the point that criticism was almost off-limits. The Mail, predictably, took a populist and jingoistic stance, whilst the Telegraph adopted a similar position, though tailored to its better educated and older readers.

There is a reasonable case for Brexit which has rarely been presented, not least because, on the whole, Brexit supporters themselves do not understand the potential benefits; this extends even to academic supporters such as Minford. Although the “remain” case is largely based on mercantilist thinking which was refuted by the classical economists, remainers took the stance that the Brexiters were all old, stupid, xenophobic, and malevolent. Thus, public debate has largely been reduced to assertion and name-calling.

On top of that there is a decline in manners, possibly aggravated by the anonymity of the internet. Disagreement is widely expressed by starting a response with “rubbish”, “nonsense”, “piffle”, or obscenities.

On top of that again is the alleged use of spamming factories, with the Russians and Chinese being blamed. They might well be responsible, but if they are, they are not responsible for creating the fertile ground in which they can gain influence and credibility. The guilty ones are the politicians and media people who want to project a particular view of the world whilst pretending that issues which affect the public at a daily level simply do not exist.

And so the forum for public debate is shrinking and coming under increasing pressure. It does not augur well.

UK productivity questions

The latest UK productivity figures for the first three months of 2018 are not good, prompting the usual recriminatory comments. However, the...