lördag 18 januari 2020

UK to abandon EU standards shock horror

I got this from a former neighbour who for ten years has worked for the European Food Safety Authority – a tax-free appointment 
In the news: “Today’s Politico Morning Agri & Food covers the post-Brexit farming plan that the UK government presented yesterday. According to plans, UK will no longer be part of the European Food Safety Authority, which regulates the active substances that make pesticides work using the so-called precautionary principle, which obliges policymakers to err on the side of caution when the potential hazards are serious, even if the supporting evidence is incomplete or speculative. Pesticides regulation will be taken over by the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also trumpeted a ‘liberation’ from EU rules holding back the use of genetically modified crops.”
It seems that some people are blinded by the EU faith. My reply was “Job opportunities for you. Keep an eye on the appointments adverts. Where will they be based?”

The EFSA still has not banned glyphosate, and are unlikely to, seeing that Monsanto has been taken over by Bayer, the German company which was part of the giant IG Farben industrial and pharmaceutical chemicals group. It employed slave labour at Auschwitz during the war, conducted horrible and often fatal medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, and has always refused to pay compensation to its victims. The EFSA still permits a load of E-number substances which are known to be harmful. They are so widespread that it is hard to avoid some of them, including sodium and potassium nitrate and nitrite, and some colouring – which are banned in the USA. The EU's blanket ban against GM is ludicrous. People have been eating GM crops for 8,000 years. Whether a GM is good or bad depends on the GM. If it enables farmers to drench their crops in poisonous chemicals, then of course it is bad. If it results in improved flavours, or removes a natural poison from a plant, then GM is an excellent thing.

An interesting thing about the EFSA is that it employs only EU citizens. If the leading expert in the field is an American, or Chinese, or Japanese or Russian or Israeli, they will not be engaged. Whose interest are they working for?

tisdag 7 januari 2020

Mercantilist futility

The European currency board is currently squabbling. It has a set inflation rate target, the idea being that inflation will help to reinvigorate the sluggish economy of the Eurozone. With a rise in inflation due to higher energy prices, the target is on the way to being reached, though it is not clear how higher energy prices will stimulate the economy.

Underneath all this is a set of trade and economic policies which should, in the twentieth century, never have seen the light of day. German banks have had to lend to other Eurozone countries in order to maintain demand for German products, but they now hold vast amounts of urepayable debt.

Germany has the supposed advantage of a currency that is undervalued (for them) by at least 10%, possibly more. In reality, of course, it is a disadvantage. It means that Germans are working at least half a day a week for nothing. German workers are, literally, being short changed. What will happen when they notice?

How has this situation arisen? EU and Chinese economic policy is based on the conception of trade and economics known as “mercantilism”, which held sway in the seventeenth century. The underlying principle is that the aim of economic policy should be to bring money into the country, for example, by importing gold and silver, as the Spanish and Portuguese did. It was ultimately their downfall. They had devoted vast resources to shipping precious metals across the Atlantic. But this proved to be a futile effort; gold cannot be eaten, or used to for shelter, or fuel, or worn to keep out the cold. All that happened was that prices rose. Nowadays, mercantilist policy concentrates on exporting as much as possible and thereby maintaining a persistent balance of payments surplus.  In its modern incarnation, it has left the German banks full of worthless paper.

Mercantilist theory had been refuted several times over before the eighteenth century was over but it survives in a zombie-like after-life in the minds of those responsible for making economic decisions at the highest levels.

onsdag 18 december 2019

The horror of it #3

“Yeah, sure. Let’s open all our borders and compete with Indian sweatshops instead.” Another comment in the Guardian.

Has this commentator looked at the labels in his clothes lately to see where they are made? Does he apply his noble principles and choose a £100 shirt rather than a £30 one of equivalent fit and quality?

Boycotting Indian clothes is the most effective way of perpetuating sweatshop conditions in India. If there is a buoyant demand for Indian clothes, Indian workers acquire the industrial muscle needed to enable them to demand better pay and conditions. Can’t he see this?

The other side of the picture is that a supply of low cost clothes means that consumers have money over to spend into the rest of the economy of their own country. Why is this so difficult to understand?

The horror of it #2

“There is no such thing as ‛wisdom of economists’”.
 
Comment in the Guardian. But why is this prolific commentator bothering to comment at all?

The horror of it #1

“The UK may end up having to accept a large tonnage of tariff-free lamb and beef etc.”

Comment in the Guardian

lördag 14 december 2019

Liberal inversion of political principles

I was not sorry to see that the LibDems received so little support at the election. It is sad that the party has taken up a set of policies that were diametrically opposed to those the Liberal Party had stood for from the 1830s until the late 1970s, when they seem to have forgotten what Liberalism was all about.

The same can be said of the Labour Party, which was founded as a popular movement on much the same set of policies as the contemporary Liberals. Labour held firmly to them until it was taken over by intellectuals in the Fabian mode and Keynesians in the late 1930s, and gave the country Fabian and Keynesian policies when it came to power in 1945.

Then came the disastrous influx of Marxists in the late 1970s, followed by New Labour opportunism, which was based on next to no coherent principles at all. It is a tragic story, because it leaves Britain with no effective alternative to Conservative politics, although it is not a problem confined to Britain. Radical politics needs to be reconstructed from the ground up. Can it happen?

Marxist despondency at election result

My Marxist friend was despondent at the election result. She put it down to the dominance of what Marx himself called the ‘lumpen proletariat’. In other words, democracy is a good thing for Marxists as long as the people vote the way they agree with.

UK to abandon EU standards shock horror

I got this from a former neighbour who for ten years has worked for the European Food Safety Authority – a tax-free appointment  In the...