A Whisper In The Ear

Loyalties divided

OK, so now the people of the Hellenic Republic won’t have a referendum on the Big Fat Greek Bailout. PM George Papandreou has done a remarkable backflip in the last couple of days. Reading his rhetoric of four days ago, at which most of us cheered (but not the Guardian),

Citizens are the source of our strength and citizens will be called on to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the agreement. It is not for others to decide but the Greek people to decide … we have faith in the people. We believe in democratic participation. We are not afraid of it.

It sounds inconceivable that it came from the same man who last night meekly demurred,

The referendum was never an end in itself.

Or for that matter, from the leader of the nation that gave democracy to the world in the first place.

So: who has dialled his mobile phone in the last couple of days? The transcript from his phone company would make mighty interesting reading. As a possible clue, the American-raised Papandreou is the current president of Socialist International, so at a very minimum, his commitment to liberal democracy must be highly suspect.

The 2011 Socialist's Ball (better known as the G20 summit), where birds of a feather flock together: "After Europe collapses, there's just you and me, kid" - "Ooohh, Barry...."

I’m currently working on a couple of new articles (and we will get back to organic farming), but in the meantime, I’d be interested in your speculation. Is the Greek government about to fall? And could we see the return of a military junta in Athens? Or will Bruxelles swallow its Greek poison pill, with all that portends?

UPDATE 04 NOV 2011 10:01 AEDST: Papandreou’s government survives no-confidence vote in the Greek parliament

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64 Responses to A Whisper In The Ear

  1. Kitler says:

    Before the change was announced they moved around the leaders of the Greek armed forces that speaks volumes how close to a coup they are.

  2. meltemian says:

    I have absolutely no idea how all this is going to pan out. Here on Corfu people resent the Athens politicians and many wish to have a self-governing Ionian Islands state back again. After all they only became part of Greece in 1864 when Britain stopped governing them, and the Greeks here have long memories!
    I’m not even going to guess the result of tonight’s vote. Papandreou will stand or fall ( or knowing politicians something in-between) but the fact remains that there is no way Greece can get out of this mess and there isn’t enough money anywhere to bail out all the failing countries. Default, stay in the Euro, leave the Euro but stay in the EU, whatever happens we’re in for a bumpy ride, and Papandreou’s “hokey-cokey” with the referendum seems to have made things much worse. Greek government is now a laughing stock and the people are angry.
    I’ll know more in the morning.

    Stay in touch Mel; you’re on the ground there and certainly have a much better sense of this than any of us here – Oz

  3. farmerbraun says:

    Mel, I’m getting the impression that the G20 have decided that Greece is a side-show, and basically who cares; they have much bigger fish to fry, if it is not too late. The smell is getting quite strong.

  4. izen says:

    In financial terms Greece IS a sideshow.
    The total Greek economy is about the size Apple of mac and iphone fame.
    Of course comparing a state economy with a corporate enterprise is not really valid, it’s Apples and oranges…

    I suspect it would be hurtful to any Greek patriot to suggest that Apple going bust would have a bigger effect than Greece…

    I have seen estimates that put the total cost of a Eurozone bailout for ALL the ‘at risk’ economies at about the same as the cost of the Iraq war + occupation. Of course such a bailout would not deal with the underlying structural problems in the financial sector or the deficit budgeting of the nation-states.

    But then the Iraq war didn’t do much to improve the underlying problems in the M.E. either.

    I’m a bit rushed right now so couldn’t make my post any longer; but while sure, the Greek economy itself isn’t large enough to bankrupt Europe (quite – the bailout is in the order of € 100+ billion – some sideshow!) as you say, the “at-risk” economies of Europe combine to a total of more €£$¥ than Europe actually has (unless you feel Europe could have matched America’s activities in Iraq had it so desired). I’ve yet to read a credible economist who thinks Europe isn’t screwed; the only remaining question is the time scale.

    As I’ve said, here and elsewhere, Britain has handcuffed itself to a drowning man – Oz

  5. Luton Ian says:

    There was a short piece on the radio yesterday, about one of the nationalized British banks.

    It values it’s Greek bonds at around 35 cents in the yoyo, rather than the 50 cents in the euro zone bailout plan.

    I think they’ll be lucky to see anything.

    The future does look interesting. The dangers of letting too many suckle stolen money from the state titty* are all too clear.

    They become a voting block, democracy is down graded to a mechanism for them to continue their flow of stolen goods, supplemented with counterfeit too. No party promising reform will ever get elected.

    What of the military?

    where does their money come from?
    silly question, I know.

    Fascism (call it what you will; Third Way, social democracy etc – would that a turd could smell so bad by any other name) is nothing if not populist. The military (can only and) will only continue the plunder and the printing, just as it did for all those years in Argentina, perhaps the recipients of the largess might be slightly different, but they will be no fewer, as the spiral towards the plughole gets faster and faster.
    *perhaps the analogy with a witch’s familiar is a good one for each of the various special interest groups, suckling from the devil’s tits, wherever on the host’s body they might be found.

  6. Dr. Dave says:

    A couple months ago I came across a most enlightening article in the American Spectator regarding Greece. It actually echos some of what Mel wrote here many months ago. Greece, in my opinion, has absolutely no good options left. All they can do now is choose the least bad option. The trouble is…it won’t fix anything except in the very short term. Their core pathology is described in this article:


    @izen – I get the distinct impression you have a low opinion of the Iraq war. Oddly, so do I, but I’m quite sure for very different reasons. Not all Libertarians are peace-nik isolationists. This was made abundantly obvious during an interview with two editors of Reason magazine on John Stossel’s show a few months back. But it seems you have misconceptions about the total cost to the US for the Iraq conflict. The total costs for 10 years of involvement are actually LESS than Obama’s 2009 Stimulus package (which was pissed away with reckless socialist abandon with nothing to show for it). But Iraq will turn into a true tragedy thanks to our jug-eared idiot. Just for you, I’ve provided a link to this excellent piece by columnist Charles Krauthammer:


  7. Luton Ian says:

    I was listening to a recording of Murray Rothbard’s “The Meaning of Ludwig von Mises” lecture.

    Rothbard briefly discusses Mises analysis of interventionism.

    Any intervention, even assuming that it achieves its aim (which is pretty unlikely), creates other problems.

    Does the state admit its error, and reverse the first intervention?
    does it intervene further to address the problems which it caused, and thus cause further problems?

    The choice is therefore between turning towards laissez faire and a free market, or getting on the fabian bus, for a slow ride to the cliff edge of socialism.

    Without a free market, socialism cannot determine what should be done, or how much of it should be done. So although it took the Soviet Union around 70 years to eventually collapse, socialism must, after famines and terror aimed at perpetuating it, eventually collapse.

    The interest or client groups which stateism establishes and nurtures, whether they are the little bureaucratic fiefdoms, like education departments, social work departments, faux economic development agencies, or, the recipients of subsidies and handouts, provide a ratchet, favouring movement toward the socialist plug hole.

    Just think how quickly civilization would collapse if the committees who decide on the logos for state school stationary were disbanded… 🙂

  8. Luton Ian says:

    Continuing with the farming tangent from the last thread, here’s an amusing little piece about pedigree hill breed rams going for £50k sterling.

    It is almost certainly not what it first appears to be.

    There is a tradition of the seller making the animal “lucky”, by giving the buyer a few pounds back to help cover transport home etc.

    What I suspect here, is that the “luck” was perhaps of the order of £47k, although I’m not sure what the tax man will make of that.

    What is achieved, is a big headline, drawing attention to the breed, and the buyer’s and seller’s stock.

    It is about 20 years since a bigshot in the Swaledale breed society got £20k for a tup. The game has been played for quite some time.

    I also suspect that a very few suckers will be led to believe that these critters are actually that valuable…

    – In my experience, on heather, they barely break even, the wool has covered the cost of shearing this year, for the first time in about 20 years (it’s actually a good carpet wool – just there aren’t many people wanting wool carpets!), and with the pound sterling being low against the Yoyo, the male lambs have sold ok straight from their mothers in August for both Ramadan and the southern European light lamb trade.

    Mel, you might be getting British hill lambs in the Greek supermarkets.

    Without this last year’s favourable exchange rates and dates for Ramadan allowing a good proportion of the male lambs to be taken straight from their mothers to slaughter, the male lambs are good at dying, and those which do finish take a long time and tend to have more fat than muscle.

    The females can be crossed with a blue faced leicester ram to breed the “mule”, which is light, – therefore doesn’t eat much, prolific -lots of lambs, will breed in its first year, makes a good mother and crossed with a muscly downs breed like a suffolk, produces decent lambs for fattening. Male mule lambs are also slow finishers, and again, have poor carcase conformation.

    At best, the Swaledale tup is a long way up the chain of production which puts roast lamb on the customer’s dinner table.

    – a “higher order good” in other words.

    Given the publicity stunt which I’ve outlined, the headline price is probably a fiction. I wasn’t at the sale, so I don’t know if the normal stock tups were selling for inflated prices as well.

    I did get up to Carlisle for a sale of Galloway cattle (small hairy hill cows – Canadian blood is an absolute taboo – apparently the Canuckistanis bred theirs too big and too soft), and the Galloway and white bred shorthorn bulls all passed out of the ring un sold, the prices of heifer calves and bulling heifers were well up.

    Britain is having something of a bureaucratic fad for native breeds. The bureaucrats seem to think that a native breed can go graze a conservation area, while a continental breed shouldn’t. I don’t see how the grass tells the difference, but the bureaucrats seem to think it does…

    The galloways and white short horns are used to breed the “blue grey” which is a traditional suckler cow with small size and good mothering abilities. I’ve never checked out the lifespan of a blue grey, but I do know of galloway cows still having a calf every year well into their thirties. The normal commercial life of a suckler cow would be around 10 years, black and white dairy cows and sheep have commercial live spans of about 5 years.

  9. braunson says:

    What? Farming a tangent?
    Not while there are folks on this planet who produce not one bean of the food that they eat.

  10. meltemian says:

    Ian, British hill lambs in Greek supermarkets – oh yes please. Unfortunately lamb is so expensive here that I very rarely buy it. Actually all meat is expensive compared to Britain, although my Swiss neighbours find it relatively cheap so that might say something about the return UK farmers get for their animals.

  11. Dr. Dave says:


    Is Lucas Papademos gonna be your new PM?

  12. Ozboy says:

    Even if governments refuse to face the truth, private industry will do so, and render irrelevant the opinion of governments. This announcement from a major German travel agency could be the pebble that precipitates the avalanche.

  13. meltemian says:

    Dr Dave, No news about the appointment yet but Papademos is still favourite although he’s saying that he would need at least 6 months with an interim government before he will agree. The election is proposed for February so that could be a stumbling block.
    Two other names are also being put forward, Panagiotis Roumeliotis and Nikiforos Diamandouros. Roumeliotis is Greece’s IMF representative and Diamandouros is European Ombudsman. Not sure whether there are vested interests there.

  14. meltemian says:

    At least there is some good news on the pursuit of tax evaders here, looks as though Greece might have a bit more income soon. Might be in for some hefty sentences ‘pour encourage les autres’!


  15. Amanda says:

    This is off-topic and maybe out of bounds, but I think worth bringing up. On James’s blog, my good friend Farmerbrown posted the following:

    So who has got the plan to fix this?
    “We are slowly — and painfully — being forced to realize that we are no longer the America of our imaginations. Our greatness was not enshrined. Being a world leader is less about destiny than focused determination, and it is there that we have faltered.

    We sold ourselves a pipe dream that everyone could get rich and no one would get hurt — a pipe dream that exploded like a pipe bomb when the already-rich grabbed for all the gold; when they used their fortunes to influence government and gain favors and protection; when everyone else was left to scrounge around their ankles in hopes that a few coins would fall.
    We have not taken care of the least among us. We have allowed a revolting level of income inequality to develop. We have watched as millions of our fellow countrymen have fallen into poverty.
    And we have done a poor job of educating our children and now threaten to leave them a country that is a shell of its former self. We should be ashamed.
    Poor policies and poor choices have led to exceedingly poor outcomes. Our societal chickens have come home to roost.”

    America’s Exploding Pipe Dream

    Charles Blow

    As you all know, I am a patriot. So it will not surprise you that my response was this:

    Nonsense, FB. The black-tinted glasses, the factual inaccuracy, the desperate slur on America that this article represents would take me a week to explain, so bad, so outrageous is it. Shame on Charles Blow, whoever he is. And shame on the New York Times, not that anyone much reads it these days, except old Dems doing the crossword puzzle and looking at the travel section.

    I do not recognize my country in Mr Blow’s description.

    It’s worse than Lefty handwringing — it’s subversion — and completely ignores the amazing opportunities, freedoms, and benefits that America provides (at great cost to the working people, that latter).

    I shall state here that a) many Democrats are immensely rich (far richer than *I’ll* ever be); b) when the rich get richer the middling and poor people get richer, too — a demonstrable fact; c) no one sold anyone a ‘pipe dream’ — America has always been a place where you make money by dint of effort and ingenuity, not by simply expecting wealth; d) it’s not all about money, and we are still the freest people on earth; e) the ‘revolting poverty’ this Mr Blow speaks of is hardly credible, given our lavish safefy net, and the fact that ‘the poor’ on welfare go shopping (I’ve seen ’em) for fancy footwear and technological gadgetry. Tell someone in India or China or Cuba that these Americans are ‘poor’: they’d laugh in your face. Our poor (or ‘poor’) also have access to the best medicine in the world — on the taxpayers’ dime.

    I love living in America. And so would most human beings, in their suffering, oppression, and lack of opportunity, if they could be here, too.

  16. Amanda says:

    Typo: safety, obviously.

    Update: FB responded with this:
    ‘Do you really think that the level of income equality in US today is a good thing?
    If you do , do you think it is sustainable?
    If it is a bad thing, and is not sustainable, how did it happen?’

    My reply:

    Are you a Communist?

    Let me ask you three questions, really serious ones, OK?

    1. Is there some Platonic ideal of the perfect level of income disparity for a people to have? Does it matter if Socrates has 1000 drachmas but Xenophon has 10,000?

    2. What happens when society gets so much richer than ever before that even the poorest member has the equivalent of Xenophon’s 10,000 drachmas?

    3. Are you aware that some people don’t deserve to have more than they have, since they engage in criminality, don’t work, are lazy, don’t wish to be wealthy, or don’t have anything to contribute to a modern society? Is it my obligation to give my hard-earned wealth (what there is of it) to them (I don’t like day jobs either), just because they have less than I do?

  17. Kitler says:

    Amanda it depends how wealth is accumulated if it has been honestly earned through hard work and the application of ones own ideas then more power to your elbow. Unfortunately life does not work like that and one of the worlds richest men got there through the theft of intellectual property. Others through currency manipulation or gaming the system in their favour through bribery and corruption of political leaders.

  18. Kitler says:

    Amanda you do realize we live in a world of corporate welfare were profits are privatized and losses socialized onto the poor and if you really think the rich pay taxes you can think again the IRS code is written just to provide them with tax avoidance schemes.

  19. Ozboy says:

    Jeez, I walked in the door of JD’s place and before I’d taken two steps inside I was ducking flying bottles and chairs. Drinks at the Bar and Grill are on the house till further notice folks, if you’ll all be civil with it.

  20. Amanda says:

    Oz: It was not a serene night at James’s. But most of us made up in the end :^)

  21. izen says:

    Wealth inequality increases the level of disease, crime and social conflict in any society.
    The greater income/asset inequality the harder it is for people to enjoy social mobility. Inequality is self-perpetuating and becomes entrenched without radical political intervention.

    The GINI index for any society is a pretty good indicator of its property crime and homicide levels, its infant and toital mortality rates and the levels of stress/conflict people report.
    The more egalitarian any society is the happier its populations are.

    Click to access Module5_Economic_Inequality_thornbecke.pdf



    G’day Izen,

    We’ve touched on this issue in several threads before. The relevance of the Gini Index is related closely to the absolute (as opposed to relative) wealth of the bottom 10% or so in a society. In many Latin American and African nations, the poorest citizens live in truly abject poverty – that is, they lack basic food, clothing, shelter, clean water and access to health care and education – while the richest citizens live in opulence equal to the richest Westerners. In these cases, the disparity in wealth as borne out by the Gini Index, is a pointer to a far more serious disparity – in opportunity.

    The poorest 10% in most Western nations never go hungry, live in circumstances many even the top quarter of developing nations could only dream about, and are not lacking in opportunities to better their lives – if only they would avail themselves of them. Increasing “equality” by Robin Hood economics will not only fail to increase the happiness of the poorest people in the longer term, but introduces a new and far more pernicious inequality – that of punishment. Punishment for succeeding, rewards for failing, will make happy only those who truly view the Gini Index as a universal barometer of societal well-being. Be careful what you wish for.

    Small wonder then, that so many of the “middle class” in developing nations are willing to risk their lives for a shot at becoming even the poorest Westerner. To speak of the Gini Index in reference to countries like Britain or Australia, is to frame the debate within the politics of envy. Even putting the most generous construction on it, this is exactly what we are witnessing in these silly “Occupy” protests in New York City and elsewhere. Where’s “Occupy Lagos”, or “Occupy São Paulo”? That’s what I’d like to know – Oz

  22. izen says:

    The Eurozone, and many world governments are desperately appointing ‘experts’ to solve the economic crisis.
    Greece is looking to a banker, Italy will probably replace bunga-man with a financier, the European central bank is run by an ex Goldman-Sachs partener when it was bundling Greek credit default swaps as ‘assets’… the boss of the European financial stability fund was at the Moore Capital hedge fund.
    In the UK the business minister was the man at the HSBC bank responible for packaging dodgy US mortages for re-sale….

    Its an example of extreme romanticism on the part of civic governance – the compulsion to repeat a liasion with people that have proved unreliable, if not toxic in the past! -grin-

  23. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    I take you point that relative and absolute inequality is very different in the ‘third world’ nations and in such underdeveloped (is that a verb?!) nations the barriers to opportunity are significantly greater. Direct comparison with wealthier nations are inapposite.

    But the findings on health, crime, social unrest and individual satisfaction/happyness are robust if you confine the anaysis to the major first world, developed ‘rich’ nations. Nations with similar GDP/capita but different GINI values show the same corralation. The GINI value can be a rather coarse measure of societal distribution of wealth, measurement methods may vary and it can obscure structural factors that exacerbate or ameleorate the impact of wealth differentials.
    But despite all that I am not aware of any credible research that claims societies are significantly IMPROVED by increasing inequality.

    OK then – suppose Britain’s wealthiest 10% packed up tomorrow and moved to Switzerland, taking their wealth with them (you know where this is leading). The Gini Index in Britain would decrease, and that of Switzerland would increase. So do you think this would lead to a decrease in crime in Britain? Or for that matter, an increase in crime in Switzerland?

    Think about it – Oz

  24. izen says:

    @- Ozboy
    “OK then – suppose Britain’s wealthiest 10% packed up tomorrow and moved to Switzerland, taking their wealth with them (you know where this is leading). The Gini Index in Britain would increase, and that of Switzerland would decrease. So do you think this would lead to a decrease in crime in Britain? Or for that matter, an increase in crime in Switzerland?”

    10% seems rather excessive. Given the near exponential asymmetry in wealth distribution 2% would be sufficient to have some effect…

    Well it would certainly decrease one of the major financial crimes of tax avoidance. A somewhat larger scale of individual gain from criminal action than most other financial illegality.
    Of course that presupposes that tax is a legitimate imposition on the citizen and that avoidance IS illegal rather than a ‘morally’ justifiable act! -grin-

    The opposite of your suggestion would be to remove a percentage of the BOTTOM of the wealth range. The very poor and feral underclass who beg, borrow and steal and have an effective negative wealth. Of course this was tried around 200 years ago… with little impact, except in the destination! -grin- And here I am today, talking with you about the Gini Index. Life’s funny like that, innit? – Oz

    But any such ‘block transfer’ of a percentage of the population within a wealth band would have little effect on the measures of societal wellbeing.
    I think the mistake is to see the GINI value as a primary cause rather than a secondary effect. It is a measure that indicates deeper more complex aspects of the way a society is structured and organised which have the measurable influences on health, crime etc.

    BTW Gini isn’t an acronym (hence no need for capitalization); Wiki says it’s named after the Italian mathematician who invented it.

    On second thought, I take it back. Yes, I can see now how the sudden arrival on the doorstep of seven million aristocratic Poms, whinging that the whole place is “full of snow, and full of foreigners”, demanding pheasant under glass one night and chip butties the next, and clamouring for the reinstatement of “the hunt”, would tend to make your average Swiss guy pretty miserable. And how the average pom left behind would be glad to be shot of them. Yep, maybe old Gini was onto something after all – Oz 😈

  25. meltemian says:

    Looks like it’s Papademos.
    Not before time – only 3 days late for the announcement!
    I was beginning to think they were never going to decide.
    Now the fun begins………

  26. Luton Ian says:

    been out of action with a bug as well as off grid for a few days.

    Things seem to have developed apace while I’ve been away.

    Silvio may have lost an overall majority, but I don’t think this is anything like the last we’ll see of the man.

    I listened to a report on the BBC about how Argentina has recovered from the crash of almost a decade ago. They said that the economy is now growing at 9% a year and that the inflation rate is 25% – somehow this is supposed to be good!

    Big hint for anyone who’s new around here – expect another Argentine collapse, and expect is to be both soon and nasty

    I’m seriously doubting that the the pig keynesianism and pig marxism which the BBC spews out is done from ignorance. I’ve just finished reading von Mises’ memoirs and recollections (written in 1940 and intended for publication only after his death, absolutely fascinating, although it tells you virtually nothing of the man’s personal life).

    Mises, like other Austrian’s maintains that the purpose of the University of Berlin was to provide the intellectual bodyguard to the Prussian royal house.

    are our state funded broadcasters, our state funded education systems and everything else state funded, expected to be anything different?

    The interim logical conclusions of the Prussian warfare and welfare society were the first and second world wars, the collapse and Bolshevik takeover of Russia and then eastern Europe and much of Asia (200 plus million in mass graves at the hands of government)

    I can’t remember whether it was Carl Menger or Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk, whom Mises quoted as saying: “Bad ideas must be allowed to run their course to their logical conclusions”

    I wonder where the poison spread from the thinkers in our warfare and welfare society will lead us?

    your point about the cronie-ism between the europhiles and their bankers is a good one. I wonder which ones played the dog and which the tail (or which end of Fen’s panto ass) when the rules were written about accepting each euro zone government’s bonds as equally valid collateral for new credit with the ECB?

    There is also the the question of following the logic of a European single currency through to its logical conclusion, and that is a European single government (which, like the common agricultural policy – the French bantam cock will expect to take the lion’s share 😉 )

    Mel’s observation about the price of meat in Greece reflects one of the many problems and distortions of the CAP’s interventionism, The sheep regime favours the Mediterranean sheep milk and light suckling lamb producers.

  27. Luton Ian says:

    I must address the wealth inequality question.

    Marx’s socialism was supposedly “Scientific” because he claimed to have identified the mechanism which made it “inevitable”.

    Worker’s wages and conditions were supposed to decrease over time, to and below the Malthusian level of subsistence, and this was supposed to trigger the revolution.

    Like the rest of Marx’ prophecies, historical forces haven’t been very kind to it, however Marxist’s are never ones to let what Marx clearly wrote, get in the way of what they want you to think that Marx meant.

    We are therefore told, that Marx did not actually mean absolute poverty, but relative poverty.

    Reductio ad absurdum:

    Is owning only five villas on the island of Corfu, instead of owning seventeen villas, going to cause crime and disease?

  28. braunson says:

    re reductio ad absurdum. Quite correct.
    However the original discussion was actually about disparity(rather than poverty or equality), and the possible consequences of that disparity becoming so large as to cause “instability”.
    In Crown’s example of Bill Gates, who was clearly found by European authorities to have acted in a criminal manner, the manner of his obtaining his vast personal wealth, many billions of times greater than the fortune of the lowliest in US society, seems to have been met largely with approval.
    How does that work?

  29. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Braunson,

    The Marxist’s had history eff them over pretty badly, even allowing for their prophet’s writings being so confused that it was difficult to tell what he was ranting about, let alone whether he was correct or not.

    Having had industrialization and division of labour in what remains of the “free market” raise the standards of living and the absolute income and wealth of people, everywhere that “capitalism” has been able to operate,


    Having lost the labour theory of value (even if did have a troll calling itself “gnarl marx” leave a labour theory of value comment on the mat over at Mises daily a week or two back. Is a turd, polished for 40 hours more valuable than one which has only been polished for one hour?),


    clearly messing up in the first couple of pages of “Kapital” with the idea that both sides of an exchange were equal in value (-in that case why exchange – it is like finding someone for you to swap your 5 cents coin for theirs, you exchange your money for the shop keeper’s goods, because you subjectively value the goods more highly than the money, and he, because he subjectively values the money more highly than the goods).

    The Marxoids have had to try to fall back by re-framing their argument. Despite the words which Marx clearly used claiming that wages would decline to starvation level, the Marxoids say that it is the in-equality which is the problem.

    In that way, they hope to gain some traction, as even in my absurd example, inequality/ disparity, still exist, though thee “poverty” is hardly equivalent to one of Marx’ buddy and benefactor Engels’ factory workers in nineteenth century Manchester.

    Gates is a favourite hate figure (as Jobs was for a time in the early 90’s with Apple nerds – I remember, I was exactly that kind of nerd back then). Let’s examine a few scenarios.

    Gates (allegedly) steals the guts of the source code for an operating system, adds a line or two of his own teaks and wins a contract on the back of it.

    Even if the guy had only the luck to do this, and get into the trial for the operating system and win it, what is he going to do?

    Unless he has some serious business ability, he’s going to come unstuck very quickly. Gates didn’t.

    He still had the ability to build, with hired brains where necessary, a massive company, producing software which people bought – even getting your stuff bundled with a new computer took some business savvy.

    I think I got my first pirate copy of Word in 1987 or 88.

    I’m not a great fan of MicroSoft, I began on macs in the mid 80s and now I tend to use open office, I use opera, and one of these days I’ll get round to using linux, but I’ve got to admire Gates’ creation’s ability at getting software that works out there and onto machines. I’ve got a few windows machines which I’ve bought over the years, and I’ve bought Word a few times as well.

    Now, had Gates bribed, say a British health minister with a directorship and gotten a massive contract to produce a computer system for the British NHS, as I gather one company did, then I would have a whole lot less respect for him.

    I would have had even less impressed if he’d got a law passed saying that only his code was suitable for a country’s market.

    Imagine being stuck with dos, or windows 1 for all of eternity.

    Do I think that Gates should feel guilty about his fortune?


    Let’s also look at an imaginary heir to a British noble title, and many thousand acre estate dating back to the Norman Conquest in 1066.

    Though his wealth may have been gained as a result of a massive act of armed robbery, unless he wants to live at a pre industrial revolution level on the produce of his estate (pretty grim!) he’ll have to spend some money to buy goods like a car, petrol, gas, electric, a tv, a fridge, food that doesn’t grow on his estate, cotton clothes and so on.

    Unless he is content to live by selling off the capital assets of the estate one by one, a farm here, a wood there, some shooting rights and some fishing rights (some do that, and the next generation and all after that have to work for a living), he’s going to have to find ways to make himself useful to others, – ways they’ll pay him for.

    Let’s say he goes for organic sheep farming, and as luck wood have it, his late mother left him a flock of prize pedigree brokkengobs, and another flock of pedigree lumpybags.

    The noble youngster is of course far too good to get his hands dirty with sheep, so he employs a farm manager, who comes with the best possible references and recommendations from his uncle, the Earl of Chinlessness (that’s somewhere in Scotland).

    How long before his new farm manager has got him entirely cleaned out to fund his one true love (his seat by the fire in the snug at “The cow and Veterinarian” – and a pint glass of “Olde Hotwetfarttes” on the table beside him)?

    Unless he can perhaps pull some strings and get a law passed, forcing let’s say, all the schools in the county to buy only his sheep meat and for a high fixed price, he’s going to be very quickly looking for assets to sell off, and there will be eager people, like yourself, wanting to buy them and make far better use of them.

    Even if wealth is massive, and ill gotten, it has to be invested productively or, it is not long in being redistributed to those who will use it productively.

    Who decides what is productive

    Thee and me, voting with every cent we spend.

    As the Rev Jesse Jackson says:
    “economic democracy”
    Though I doubt he means it in the way I do


  30. Ozboy says:

    Totally OT but I thought I’d mention it…


    Fascinating idea… I’ve never used Twitter, but this may give me an excuse to start.

  31. Dr. Dave says:

    In the United States today is Veterans’ Day. I don’t know…perhaps to the rest of the world today is simply November 11th (12th in Australia). On Memorial Day we remember our war dead, celebrate the start of Summer and stuff our faces with BBQ. Memorial Day is a national holiday…Veterans’ Day…not so much. Veterans Day is what is known as a “bank and post office” holiday. Most folks don’t have Veterans’ Day off as a holiday (except for state and federal bureaucrats, courts, banks and the post office). On Veterans’ Day (formally known as Armistice Day – circa WWI), we honor all those who served in our armed forces. Sadly, scant attention is paid to Veterans’ Day.. I never served in the military (they yell at you a lot and insist you get out of bed real early…not my style), but my father, almost all my uncles, many friends of mine and many older kids in the neighborhood (who came home in a box during Vietnam) served. I thank all of these for their service. We owe our veterans a great debt of gratitude.

    At the risk of being maudlin and redundant I provide this link:


    November 11 is known down here as Remembrance Day; at 11 am the whole country (plus broadcast radio, TV etc.) stops for two minutes’ silence – Oz

  32. Dr. Dave says:

    Just to be clear…you’re not supposed to read the insipid comments. My intention is for you to scroll up and watch the video.

  33. Luton Ian says:

    In Britain it is “remembrance day” with an silence at 11am, for which observance is increasing.

    In the Irish Republic, there is starting to be official acknowledgement of the Irish who fought in the two World Wars, and other conflicts, though it is still highly controversial. I’ll try to give an indication of why.

    An Irish home rule bill was dropped in the London parliament when WWi broke out. A concession was granted that Irish were not conscripted, although many did volunteer.

    During the 14 – 18 war, Irish unions, for example the rail workers, refused to move military equipment and the kaiser’s covert operations armed Irish nationalist groups (and protestant paramilitaries too) and did their best to inspire revolts, the largest of which was the 1916 easter rising in Dublin, arguably the point at which many claim Ireland’s independence.

    Following WWi, many British troops took pay effectively as mercenaries to fight the uprisings of the Irish war of independence – the “Black and Tans”.

    Commie that he is, I think Ken Loach’s film “The wind that shakes the barley” gives a flavour of the times, and of the Irish tearing themselves apart in the more deadly civil war which followed partition.

    Ireland remained “neutral” during WWii. DeValera’s role in that war is still highly controversial and to many, he is a hate figure – between 1933 and 1945, Ireland admitted less than 100 Jews (I’m not sure how many Jewish people actually wanted to go there – but I suspect far more than were admitted), and British planes wandering into Irish air space were shot at – some were brought down.

    I gather that Ireland was secretly afraid of being used as a bridgehead for invasion of Britain, and knew that it could only resist for, at best, 24 hours, so had some secret plans made with Britain, whether they also had similar plans made with Germany, who knows?

    Sinn Fein, actively worked for Hitler, and until a year or two ago, lead annual processions to a monument to a Nazi agent. While they would probably resent being referred to as national socialists, I think that social nationalists is as good a description of them as you’ll get.

    The Germans dropped a few bombs on Dublin, whether by accident or to remind Dev that they could, I don’t know. They also bombed a creamery in the small county Wexford village of Campile (about 5 miles from where the Kennedy dynasty came from), reputedly after finding butter from it in captured British supplies.

    Dev was the only national leader I’m aware of to send a message of condolence to the German people following Hitler’s death.

    Would that Hitler’s older brother had managed to persuade young Adolph to stick with a proper job years before, and chances are Adolf would have peacefully lived out his years in Ireland… Perhaps it is better he didn’t – we were going to have a dictator in Germany and a war anyway – perhaps ‘Dolph was the dictator to have – true he was one of the worst mass murderers of all time, but in many ways his own worst enemy?

  34. Dr. Dave says:


    Rather it’s history, economics or ovine husbandry I always seem to learn something from your comments. In fact, I can say without pause that most of what I know about sheep I learned from you.

    My Dad was a WWII vet but like most guys from his generation he rarely spoke about it. To his peer group being a vet was damn near universal. Almost all of them served during WWII and it was no big deal. Vietnam made a much greater impression on me because I quite literally grew up during that damn senseless war. It dominated the news while I was in grade school. I had to register for the draft before I was even out of high school but by that time they had quit drafting conscripts. A few months later they abolished the draft. And then it was over. I remember all the older kids from the neighborhood who never came home. It all seemed so pointless.

    This is one of my favorite Vietnam songs by Dave Alvin:

  35. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Dave,

    I’ve very mixed feelings on a day like today.

    My Family is not at all military, though I had friends who were in the Gulf wars and Kosovo – one died later, others have moved on, new postings and such. The guys my age whom I worked with and shared accommodation with in South Africa had all seen active service. I respect what they did, even though they didn’t talk about it and have no respect now for the system which sent them to do it. I guess I’m too much of an anarchist to have ever got close to things military.

    All of my direct ancestors were in exempt employment; farming, iron and steel making, railways, ship yards and mines. One of my Grandfathers tried to volunteer for WWi, but was considered medically unfit – my grandmother considered herself luck to find a good husband, as many women in her generation couldn’t find a man of any description.

    My other Grandfather was conscripted for WWii, and did his three months basic training before the cockup was realized and he was sent home to farm. In his home guard duties, he played havoc on training exercises with regular troops, usually slipping through their lines and one time taking the whole regular contingent prisoner – he had arrived early than expected, found them sitting in a building playing cards and locked them all in.

    I was sorting through some of my Grandmother’s stuff earlier this year and found a bronze memorial disk commemorating the death in WWi of the husband of one of her aunties. I don’t think he was ever confirmed dead, one of the hundreds of thousands blown to bits in the mud or pecked at by the crows.

    It reads:
    “He died for freedom and liberty”

    Given the restrictions which were brought in in 1914 and never removed, only built upon and multiplied, I display it in my book case with very mixed feelings, perhaps those words are what he thought when he went to serve, actual events are very different.

    On a lighter note, one bunch of guys who I shared accomodation with, I found out later were former SADF special forces.

    I find the hollywood portrayal of ex special forces guys as some sort of eternal warriors very amusing now, these guys didn’t spend their evenings throwing knives at each other, they were huge fans of cuddly animations like shrek, wallace and Grommit, and ice age 🙂

  36. Dr. Dave says:

    Hi Ian,

    I’m not from a particularly military family, either. Neither of my grandfathers served in WWI. The Army got my Dad only because he was drafted (he wasn’t about to volunteer for anything as stupid as being a soldier). Until he was drafted I doubt my father had ever been out of the state of Michigan and probably only rarely as far from home as Detroit. I’m always a little amazed at how fast he had to grow up. In a pretty short period of time he went from being a young man in Grand Rapids, Michigan to a Sgt. in the US Army Artillery in Europe. I suppose that happens to every generation that is forced to go to war.

    Had he not been drafted I’m quite certain my Dad would have been perfectly content to sit out WWII as a civilian. On the other hand Dad accepted his conscription with the same resignation we all have towards taxes these days. My Dad didn’t want either of his two baby boomer sons in the military. My ex-wife’s family was bit different. Cindy’s (my ex) paternal grandfather immigrated to the US from what was then Czechoslovakia. He eagerly joined the Army during WWI and served in the cavalry. Cindy has a great photo of him in uniform on a horse. Cindy’s Dad was champing at the bit to get into the action during WWII. Unfortunately he was a toolmaker and was deemed too valuable to waste as canon fodder. He finally got into the Navy at the tail end of the war and served as a signalman on an aircraft carrier. None of Cindy’s four brothers ever joined the military. Still, I’m quite proud to have known both her father and grandfather.

    When I was a kid it was abundantly obvious why we got into WWII. Korea wasn’t quite so clear and Vietnam made no damn sense at all. We had devolved from a country that declared war on other countries and fought them to their conclusion to a nation that declared “police action” and never fought to win. In my view, the Vietnam war was one of the most tragic and senseless wastes of life I’ve encountered in my time on Earth.

    I come from a small town. Both my home town and the slightly larger city across the river plus all the townships and outlying small towns probably had a total population of maybe 30,000 back in the Vietnam era. I went in back for a visit in 2005. I strolled down the bluff park overlooking Lake Michigan and came upon the Vietnam memorial. On this memorial were the names of literally HUNDREDS of Vietnam dead…out of a population of maybe 30,000!

    I love and support our military. I just can’t stand the miserable sons or bitches who direct their actions.

  37. Ozboy says:

    G’day folks,

    Next post may be a few days yet, as I can’t seem to condense it under 3000 words. If this one gets much longer I’ll put up something brief for discussion.

    Oz 😀

  38. Kitler says:

    Luton Ian if memory serves me right DeValera was put on a short leash by Churchill when it was quite clearly stressed that he would have no compunction about sending in the troops and tanks if Ireland declared for Hitler.
    Dr Dave you can thank JFK for causing the Vietnam debacle by toppling the only man capable of directing the war against the North President Diem and killing him and a lot of his family, Diem may not have been a nice man but he had the will power to keep on making the war a purely Vietnamese affair albeit with indirect American support with arms and military advisers training his troops. My wife is here thanks to his bad decision flown to safety thanks to American military personnel secretly getting the kids out unknown I’m sure to JFK.

  39. Luton Ian says:

    I think Dev was naturally inclined to central planning, and he certainly saw himself as a man of destiny, who only had to look into his own heart to know what his People were thinking…

    Trouble is, that equally describes both Hitler and Churchill!

    I’m pretty sure both sides put severe pressure on Dev, to sway him their direction, but he was at best a side show. Sweden, Switzerland and Spain were the neutrals much closer to the heart of the action, all with important functions, Sweden with Iron and steel and ball bearings, Spain with tin and copper, an arms industry and the gateway to the Med, and Switzerland with banks, precision engineering and controlling the key road and rail links bang in the centre of western Europe. Ireland had some potentially useful naval bases, about 3 million population, and that was it, no coal, no oil, no industry to speak of, and less than no money.

    There are several documents (including IIRC the Irish constitution) which mention “Valliant allies”, and that means Germany, It is an interesting way of getting an animated discussion going in a pub, just ask a bunch of Irish pals which direction the majority of the Irish would have swung if Ireland had been forced into the war, and why…

    800 years of English colonization, a bitter war of independence and a partition which sparked a more deadly civil war half a generation earlier was the negative, most of the population speaking English, and with a more English than Prussian culture was the positive.

  40. Dr. Dave says:

    Hi guys!

    I stumbled on to this 25 minute video presentation Daniel Hannan gave to the Cato Institute. I’m unsure of the date. What I am sure of is that this guy is brilliant and a superb orator. It’s well worth your time if you have 25 minutes to spare. It’s VERY good.

  41. Dr. Dave says:


    I agree with you that JFK got us into Vietnam. He sent over advisers and materiel. Why he thought this was a good idea is anybody’s guess. It was a damn Vietnamese civil war! There were absolutely no national interests for the USA. On the other hand (echoing the idiot Oliver Stone) why go into Vietnam which is thousands of miles away to “fight communism” and not invade Cuba which is 90 miles off our coast? Perhaps JFK feared the USSR more than China. Yet in Vietnam we still ended up fighting the USSR. Please forgive me for being a bit ignorant of the details from the early 60s. I was two months shy of turning 7 when Kennedy got it through his head they didn’t like him in Dallas. Mostly I remember what happened afterwards.

    LBJ was the SOB who really got us into a shootin’ war in that shithole country. Those “body count” years on TV are the ones seared into my memory. As the years wore on I actually KNEW a lot of these “older kids” from the neighborhood who were coming home in a box. The fact of the matter is that in 1968 the US damn near had the whole thing won (former NVA Generals even admit it today). Then Walter Cronkite went on TV and changed modern journalism forever. Good ol’ avuncular altered Walter told the US public the war could not be won. Within 24 hours support for the war evaporated. So it dragged on through the Nixon administration. We pulled out (much like Iraq today) and the Democrat Congress essentially defunded support for South Vietnam. The USA lost a war basically because Democrats would not allow us to win it with a Republican president. Cynical perhaps, but politicians really don’t give a shit about other people’s money or the lives of their children.

    WWII was justified and the US declared war. Oddly this is the LAST time we declared war with another country and the LAST time we ever won a war (no matter what you want to call it). I’m sick to death of the half-measures that politicians euphemistically label as a “police action” or “nation building”. If a nation devotes its resources to military action you go in and fight like hell, utterly destroy the enemy and come back home. These decades long incursions are bullshit.

    So we lost over 50,000 American lives for no good reason. Today I can go to my local grocery store and buy a bottle of hot red chili and garlic sauce made in Vietnam. I was looking for the original song as performed by Bruce Robison (who wrote it) but it was not available on YouTube. This is the Dixie Chicks version and the video really sucks. It conflates WWII and Vietnam. Even still, they were at least true to the original lyrics. Close your eyes and listen. This was very real when I was a kid.

  42. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave 1968 was the Tet offensive and that nearly broke the back of the NVA and the guerrillas they gambled and lost the military action however asshole democrats like Kronkite as you say gave them a propaganda coup as well as Hanoi Jane who should have been sent to jail forever.
    Not once did the allied troops in Vietnam lose a major engagement as you have to remember the south Vietnamese provided a lot of troops, and you had the South Koreans and the Australians.
    We did not participate as we had already been in Vietnam in 1946 and had already told the french that retaking the colony would not be worth it as the Vietnamese were now armed to the teeth.
    We also won our SE Asian wars ie Malaysia and Borneo in the 50’s and 60’s quite simply because our soldiers were allowed to get on with the job and were not dogged by the media even our Labour party did what needed to be done. Borneo was interesting against the Indonesians as we employed Dyak tribesmen to go head hunting, a pastime among the locals. In Malaysia we just rounded up all the locals in a communist area and sent them to protected villages thus removing the support base the communists needed to provide them with food.

  43. fenbeagleblog says:

    hi Dr Dave
    Yes, Daniel Hannan. A politician to watch….(Wasted as an MEP)

  44. meltemian says:

    Pythagorean Theorem – 24 words.

    The Lord’s Prayer – 68 words.

    Archimedes’ Principle – 67 words.

    The Ten Commandments – 179 words.

    Gettysburg Address – 286 words.

    The US Declaration of Independence – 1,300 words.

    US Constitution with all 27 amendments – 7,818 words.

    EU regulation on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words.

    Looks as though Daniel Hannan has a point!

  45. fenbeagleblog says:

    I think you have established an alarming runaway globull wording effect, that can be plotted on a graph. If we do not reduce wording soon there will be extreme ‘c’ level rise, and we will have to flee to the high ground.

    A verbiage “tipping point”? – Oz

  46. Dr. Dave says:


    I agree. I think Mel is definitely on to something huge. Obviously more research is needed (along with federal research grants). Mel, let me know if you need a research assistant. I can only imagine the number of words for the new EU regulations regarding the sale of organic bean sprouts.

    I don’t know if y’all have access to the John Stossel show on the FOX Business network. If not, you can go to the FOX website and download his programs. Stossel is an uber-Libertarian. He also must engage in clean living because he’s 63 and looks like he’s in his 40s. Anyway…Stossel often uses the same schtick Hannan employed. He compares the same pocket sized copy of the US Declaration, Constitution and Amendments to a pallet of printed US regulations he has wheeled out.. I love it when he targets economy-killing regulations and lawyers (especially lawyers). Check him out sometime.

    Daniel Hannan is a frequent guest on FOX News programs and talk radio programs. He is VERY popular among American conservatives and libertarians. As a write this the “vast right-wing conspiracy” is working on a plot to kidnap Hannan and force him to participate in a criminal enterprise (i.e. the US Congress). The big holdup is due to the infighting over which POS politician we want to offer up in trade.

  47. Amanda says:

    Meltemian: That last: insane.

    But that’s why our Constitution (Constitution proper and the Declaration together) works. Ordinary people of reasonable education can read and understand it and still get on with their lives.

  48. Amanda says:

    ‘I’m too much of an anarchist’ : Words I can never imagine myself uttering. Too much of nothing is as bad as too much of something, and often gives you the same results.

  49. Kitler says:

    I wonder how many words Hammurabi’s law code had?

  50. Kitler says:

    New post a trip down Western films memory lane…
    Your own favourites would be appreciated.

  51. Ozboy says:

    I’m on the road BTW so I’ve not had much time for blogging this past week – back home Friday.

  52. Dr. Dave says:


    Am I to assume that you don’t mind if we bump around and discuss things like the Australian Carbon Tax (I believe pronounced “KA buhn Taax”) in your absence? How about sheep, horses, American politicians or “medical machismo”? Just checkin’….

    The only off-limits topics are the ones that could get the Bar and Grill taken off air – Oz

  53. Kitler says:

    I assume lesbian neo nazi native Australian’s are off limits?

  54. braunson says:

    Ozboy, WTF is going on down under? Obama is NOT coming to N.Z., right?

    Is this a “Save Julia” lefty conspiracy? 🙂

  55. Dr. Dave says:

    Here’s a dandy article about Australia’s carbon tax that should spark some discussion:


    Here’s a delightful and insightful response from our jug-eared idiot:


  56. G’Day Oz,

    You’ve probably already read this article. My sympathies to folks in Australia in terms of the tyranny being suffered (the level of censorship is approaching totalitarian levels). Stay strong folks, you will win out in the end.

  57. Dr. Dave says:

    There’s a lot of noise on the internet about the Telegraph story referenced above. Not only will OZ impose a carbon tax, but businesses are forbidden from blaming it for price increases. This seems absurd but we’ve already had a little taste of this in the US. Once ObamaCare was passed a number of health insurers wrote letters to their clients informing them that as a result they should expect rate increases. The Secretary of HHS was on it like a chicken on a June bug! She had letters sent to these companies warning them that if they did not cease and desist they would be prevented in participating in any government-run health plans (I might point out that their ultimate goal is to make all healthcare part of a gigantic government bureaucracy). In many respects it’s not that much different, but the move by the ACCC in OZ are certainly more blatant.

    The carbon tax in OZ makes absolutely no sense. If I understand the scheme correctly, the Australian government will levy taxes on the “biggest polluters”. This will, in turn, make everything (and not just energy) more expensive as corporations necessarily pass along the tax burden to their consumers. So EVERYTHING becomes more expensive. In turn, Julia’s government will turn around and pay “lower income” families a government stipend to compensate for the increase in the costs of energy and everything else. This is basic redistribution of wealth via socialism (i.e. big, centralized government). Of course, government will take (and keep) their cut. Wouldn’t it be far more efficient to let the people keep their own money and NOT impose inevitable cost increases? The bigger question is what is all this supposed to accomplish? Australia doesn’t produce enough CO2 to stick in your eye. You could shut the entire country down and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference in terms of global climate even if the IPCC is right (and of course they’re not). How could this nonsense happen?

  58. Amanda says:

    18 November 2011
    This day in history:
    On November 18, 1978 912 followers of American cult leader Jim Jones (`Peoples Temple`) died in a remote South American jungle compound called `Jonestown` in British Guyana. Some members were shot, others were forced to drink poison [famously a drug cocktail mixed in red Kool-Aid], but most willingly participated in what Jones said was an act of `revolutionary suicide.`

  59. Amanda says:

    Oh, and since we’re talking about days in history: in America it’s still 17 November. That means I’ve known my husband for exactly 19 years. It was 19 years ago (just before 5 o’clock p.m.) when he appeared at the foot of some stone stairs (I was on the balcony at the top) and asked me ‘Is it five o’clock yet?’ I love him still, dearly. And yet: beware a handsome man asking you the time.

  60. farmerbraun says:

    China doesnt like Obama whispering to Julia:

  61. Ozboy says:

    Just arrived home folks – new thread out tomorrow.

  62. Ozboy says:

    Well there you go – everyone on James’ blog is all of a sudden going on about Atlas Shrugged.



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