Friday, 31 July 2009

Mass Extinction and the Guidestoners

In Georgia, USA, there is a stone monument, upon which is inscribed the manifesto of an anonymous group, rumoured to be the Lucis Trust. In recent years, extremists have developed and spread this manifesto to the point where the UK's anti-extremist intelligence agency "NECTU" has been obliged to classify movements with this or any equivalent agenda as amongst the most serious future threats to what's now called "national security". (But which used to be known as "the Queen's Peace". It is hard to see recent abuses in the name of "national security" being performable in the name of "the Queen's Peace" so perhaps that's why our language has been changed.)

To cut a very long story short, and to step carefully around the plethora of associated conspiracy theories, the Guidestones set up a vision for world government that just happens to necessitate the extermination of ninety percent of the human race, not to mention the end of any kind of national self-determination. In one form or another, "human population control" is becoming very fashionable in "green" circles, although it's usually expressed in a more moderate form, even if the logical implications are extreme. In other words, the difference between Sir David Attenborough's views on the subject and those of someone much more extreme, such as Jonathan Porrit, really boil down to the percentage of the population that needs to go, rather than the principle. It is taken for granted by all those involved in this kind of debate, that "the sacredness of human life" is at best an obsolete religious concept, and at worst a form of arrogance that values human lives above those of animals, or even biospheres. Medawar seeks, therefore, to tackle this one on its own terms and not with moral or theological arguments that might be better made by others.

Population Control, in the minds, and the hands, of those using the term today, means or implies genocide. They are not talking about limiting population growth or movement, they are talking about either massive, or in some cases, nearly total, elimination of populations. The "rational" justification for this is to claim that humanity is causing mass extinction events, and therefore the whole race is "guilty" or at least a deadly threat to the global biosphere, and this requires its removal or neutralization.

Obviously, the removal of 90% of the human race is an extinction event in itself. Probably, however, it wouldn't be possible to neatly remove 90% and leave 10% intact, viable and thriving, so the likelihood is that any attempt to realize the 90% cut in our numbers demanded by the stones, would take the human race perilously close to complete extinction. Currently, and this is the nub of the pro-genocide argument, the human race dominates every single habit in the world. Well, that makes us the dominant species throughout the biosphere.

If one looks at actual mass extinction events throughout the world, and throughout time, there are two mechanisms which recur time and time again. One is the sudden and massive proliferation of a pest species, which is what the Guidestoners believe humans are. "A cancer on the Earth". The other is the precipitate removal of a dominant species, which is not only a huge ecological wrench in itself, but also generally allows the sudden proliferation of another species that proceeds to wipe out all kinds of others. In effect, knocking out one thing makes space for another and ecological balance may not be restored for eons.

So, those looking for the cause of all the dinosaurs dying out, keep looking for huge events that would wipe the Earth clean of all life; except for some plants, insects and a few, Temrec-like, mammals. But all that's required for a mass extinction event is something that kills a few dominant or core species, or groups of species, and creates a vacuum into which something else multiplies, probably to its own ultimate destruction. If one or two types of creature, that were very dominant, were obliterated over a comparatively short period, there would follow a very long period of ecological instability and constant change and interaction, during which practically everything else either adapts, not once, but constantly as everything else changes, or dies out. Removing a dominant species spells long-term doom for thousands of others.

Humans are now THE dominant species, core to every eco-system, whether the Guidestoners like it or not. Our wholesale removal will destroy, not just many species, but probably whole categories of life. A "New World Order" might in the end prove not to be a profound political or humanitarian change, but a taxonomic one, in which the whole basis and pattern of life on Earth became unrecognizable. "New World Phyla" might be more apposite.

There are problems and dangers with the scale and nature of human activity as it is now. But it is wiser, indeed imperative, to address this by the gentle, and consensual, adaptation of human activity, rather than by the ruthless removal of human population.

Political, rather than truly scientific, "ecologists" tell us that we live in a small world of finite and dwindling resources. But cosmologists tell us that we live in an expanding universe. It is physically impossible for the human race, or any other species, to expand so fast that it outruns the space available to it in cosmological terms.

Intellectually, too, we have at least the potential to live in an expanding universe, where our knowledge of what the possibilities and solutions are, grows faster than the problems we make for ourselves, or for others. But that requires us to see knowledge and wisdom as living things, ever changing, ever growing, never needing to mean exactly the same thing to every beholder, not suffering from different usage and interpretations. If we carve our "wisdom" on granite monuments, we create an idol that can only bring death. That may sound "religious" but it's also scientific: how could we ever hear and understand Einstein, or Feyneman, if Newton's words had been written in stone and made unchallengeable by law?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Why The Whistle Did Not Blow!

The most learned economists in the Kingdom have written to Her Majesty, in belated answer to her question, more pertinent than any raised by her ministers "why did nobody see this (the credit crunch) coming?"

Actually, people did see it coming, years and years ago, but editors wouldn't publish anything that didn't agree with a consensus led by economists who were part of the sub-culture making all the mistakes. See Medawar's previous post.

The sub-culture believed that it had managed to spread the risk throughout the financial system, apparently. Yes, they certainly managed that, alright!

(The photograph shows Bedford's original commercial transport system in tranquil mood.)

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Democracy Versus Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau supplied the political dogma, effectively the theology, of the French Revolution and every secular humanist movement since, such as the European Union. This is just a quick post of thoughts on why this kind of movement will end up doing evil, such as organised stalking, harassment, arbitrary public executions, just about every time, no matter how firmly any of these things are opposed in its founding set of principles.

The published thoughts of Rousseau are very many and very long, but the one that does practically all the damage goes something like this:

"If any two men honestly and reasonably contemplate the same issue, they will reach the same conclusion."

Ie: disagree with a follower of Rousseau and he will be serenely confident that you are either a perverse and dishonest person, who secretly knows that you are wrong and he is right, or you are completely irrational and quite incapable of telling right from wrong. That's how they deal with us, how they deal with each other is more interesting still:

They have to agree, and be seen to agree. But they do not know what is in each other's minds, so they can't be totally certain what conclusion they should agree with, until it is voiced. So they are uncertain, but because that uncertainty itself is a sign of dishonesty or unreason, they are frightened to let it show. Fear becomes a sign of dishonesty and unreason: they become afraid of their own fear.

But there's another complication: they think it is cruel and wrong to act other than with the will of the people: acting in the name of the people, or the king, is not enough. The will of the people may be unknown, it is rarely unaminous -and Roussea's theories imply that it has to be unaminous to be the will of the people- and in most cases, even if the will of the people were known, it wouldn't be what Rousseau's disciples believe, from their own inclinations as well as his teachings, should be done.

The whole belief system is under enormous internal tension and will destroy itself as soon as the leadership, in whatever cloying form it is disguised, finds itself publicly at odds with the people, or with itself.

So, if you are Richard the Lionheart, you can effectively say "think what you like, this is what I am going to do." Which may always force your hand, but it doesn't force your frontal lobes. If you are Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher you can say "this is what I'm going to do, if you don't like it, you can vote me out in five years time."

If you are a follower of Rousseau, such as Maximilien Robespierre or Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, you end up saying "The people's will is this" or "The vast majority of the British people want...." Blair never claimed adequate or tolerable support, it always had to be the vast majority, even when he scrapped back into power with the votes of about one third of the electorate! And because there were so obviously many people who opposed him, or contradicted him about the facts, such as Dr David Kelly, they needed to be, not just silenced, but utterly invalidated. They had to be racists, or mad, or dishonest.

This is why those who say that David Kelly was murdered are probably right about the murder, but also perhaps wrong when they seek to identify and expose the great global biowar conspiracy that would perhaps "justify" or at least explain the murder. If the good doctor was murdered by some other great power, particularly Russia, there may well be a need for an overpowering, high-stakes, motive.
(Unless he contradicted some claim or assurance made to the United Nations of the President of the USA by Mr Putin in person, in which case different rules apply.)

But if he was murdered on the orders of Mr Blair or someone close to him, or someone of like mind, there is absolutely no need for there to be any secret at all to be covered up by his killing.

Kelly not only dissented, but dissented in a way which invalidated Blair's claims to virtue, reason and honesty. These claims would be convenient to any politician, and they would all resent their loss, but to a Rousseau groupie like Blair, those claims, however shakey they seem to any third party, are utterly core to his self-identity. Medawar isn't merely claiming that this would have been enough to get Kelly murdered, he makes the unfashionable and unsettling assertion that to the Blair-mind, this would be more important than a global conspiracy or cover-up.

What many theorists do not appear to know, especially the American ones, is that there was a little old lady who knew no secrets at all, let alone those of any global conspiracy, who was treated just as viciously and crushingly as David Kelly by the Blair machine. Not because she even opposed him, but simply because she had been forced to wait for hours in a hospital casualty department without treatment, just as Blair claimed that this sort of thing didn't happen. Her experience contradicted Blair's assertion of virtue, the press were swiftly told that she was a racist who'd stubbornly lain on a hospital trolley untreated because of her vicious unreasoning hatred of ethnic minority hospital staff who tried to help her. The reality: she had been taken to hospital, had been too weak to raise a fuss, had been ignored and then forgotten, would have embarrassed but not harmed a genuinely democratic politician, who could have simply said: "it happened, it shouldn't have done, I will personally kick the arse of any hospital manager who lets it happen again."

Blair, being a secret disciple of a creed that believes it brings perfection to the affairs of man, simply could not make any such statement. Everything he does has to be right, everything he does is supported by the vast majority of the people (even when they are hurling bricks at him) every opponent and critic is perverse and probably deeply evil. And everything done by anyone he has hired or appointed, is similarly perfect, which is why the sort of hospital manager who lets little old ladies lie in misery within yards of people capable of treating them, never gets brought to book or sacked under Blair-style regimes.

Rousseau is poison to democracy, and to any practical system of governance, as well as any religion that admits the test of reason to belief. Rousseau forces the state, not just to control people's actions, nor even what they say, but as soon and as far as it becomes practicable to do so, Rousseau forces the state to control thoughts. It is worse than tyranny.

Democracy allows us to adopt a conclusion or follow a course of action without it becoming an article of faith. This means that we only adopt it for as long as it continues to be needed or it continues to make sense. The real strength of democracy is not that it always hits the ideal solution, let alone first go, but that it allows non-working or time-expired solutions a decent burial. Rousseau's people give every one of their solutions a gilt covering and a marble plinth. Believers in Rousseau are mostly lawyers and almost never engineers!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Finance and Perveristy in the UK.

Is there anything that can be done about it?

(Public Finances, that is.)

During her sermon at the millenium new year's day service (January the first, 2000, if you need a date for that) Lucy Winket, one of four Canons at St Paul's Cathedral, London, talked about "all our golden tomorrows." Today, as we face a black hole in public finances and the Liberal Democrats gleefully demanding that New Labour and the Tories "come clean" about the massive cuts they will make to vital services, it doesn't look as if we've even got a tomorrow of tarnished bronze ahead of us. But Medawar can see something gleaming -and although it's hidden and hard to spot, it isn't at the far end of the rainbow.

Firstly, there is no way that the public finances can be put right by defence cuts, no matter how bold, visionary and massive these might be in the eye of the proposer, because the entire defence budget is £39bn and the public finances have gone south to the tune of hundreds of billions. Almost entirely because the New Labour government handed responsibility for bank regulation, from the Bank of England, to the Financial Services Authority, which basically noted all the signs of impending disaster in the banking sector and did precisely nothing about it. Medawar can't say precisely what the Bank of England would have done, but even fierce words of warning, even as late as 2004, could have restricted the damage to something that the financial sector might have sorted out for itself, without the government having to mortgage itself for the foreseeable future. They might also have insisted that major banks were run by chief executives who knew about banking, because much of the damage was done by retail experts, bought in to "grow the business" which they did, without any concept of how to keep that business solvent as it grew. Almost any regulatory action would have been more efficacious than the nothing which the FSA did.

There is also the problem that cuts in services during a recession can make unemployment worse, and cuts in services during an economic recovery, which is what both New Labour and the Conservatives are banking on, to balance the books, will strangle the recovery at birth and create a very long-term depression. It's an impasse: cut now, make it worse. Cut later, make sure it never gets better!

However, it's only an impasse because there's a kind of public spending, and a kind of tax concession, which all the main political parties are blind to, because it is part of their reason for being. That is, spending and subsidies which actually make the country's overall problems worse, but which serve the interests of some group or another, which one party or the other has needed in order to gain and keep support at some stage. These are "perverse subsidies" and they are the real reason why we, as a country, cannot pay our way. Other forms of spending may appear to serve the interests of particular groups, but are not perverse if they at least do no harm, or actually do some general good.

That is, some pressure group that doesn't like policemen might regard their local police authority budget as a perverse subsidy for "fascist pigs", but there's no actual evidence that policemen are inherently damaging to the economy or society. (Corrupt policemen are quite another matter.) But if a small minority of people were getting taxpayer's money to make the rural housing shortage worse, that would be the very definition of perverse subsidy.

It might seem that a right wing government would cut away all the perverse subsidies which a left-wing government used to gain and maintain power, and the left wing government would take a scythe to all the right-winger's public subsidies, leading to there only be so much perverse subsidy at any one time. There are two reasons why this does not happen perverse subsidy has become an ever-growing cancer:

Both parties are usually winning or losing power on the turn of supporters who have no ideological committment either way. In the UK, these would be floating voters, in Israel, for example, these would be small parties that always get a particular vote, and then barter their way into a coalition government.

And it is very important that readers understand that dictatorships do not solve this problem, either, because when you rule by force, the people who apply that force on your behalf require several gravy trains, each.

The second reason is this: those minorities who benefit from perverse subsidies are neither ignorant of their position, nor mere passive recipients of passing fortune. They usually campaigned to get the perverse subsidy in the first place, and without exception they campaign to keep it, often with great ruthlessness and a great deal of "art and craft". The recipients of perverse subsidy are constantly playing the established major parties off against each other. During the Thatcher boom years, for which we are now paying, property developers and speculators were all firmly Tory. When John Major's government started to look wobbly, they began to cultivate their contacts in New Labour, and when it looked as if Tony Blair was playing the Dunblane Massacre card successfully, they defected en-mass. They are now shamelessly lining up for readmission to the Tory fold, and fully expect to pick up control of Tory housing and planning policy even as their control of New Labour's housing and planning policy passes from relevance.

So, no matter which perverse subsidy we are talking about, the only chance of getting rid of it, is by way of a thunderbolt that short-circuits the usual "democratic" process of all the vested interests alternately tilting the raft of state to one side or the other. But it has to be a democratic thunderbolt, because dictatorships are slaves to both the coercive social model and the corrupt economic model that goes with it.

To get rid of perverse subsidy, you need an elected party, new to power or comparatively new to power, which draws support from across the whole electorate rather than from a "core vote" of ideological supporters and whatever vested interest groups can be won at auction from the other parties trying the same thing. This doesn't describe the United Kingdom Independence Party as it now is, but it is a description of what it could become (and it needs to be done in less than four months) if it is to really serve this country rather than just make a point or two, however valid those points might be. Medawar doesn't insult UKIP when he wishes there was more choice than this: for most of the past seventy years we haven't had any choice at all!

So, rather than wanting to support UKIP, Medawar thinks that someone will have to take UKIP by the balls and force it to be the non-racist, consensual reformist party that the country needs, rather than the single-issue campaign which it started as and to some extent still wants to remain.

But the chance is there, not just for a way out of the Labour/Tory impasse of when to cut something vital, like Defence or Education, but for a way to a golden future where we finance those vital things by cutting all the perverse subsidies and tax-breaks that actually create and exacerbate the country's deepest problems.

We can have Lucy Winket's golden tomorrows.

A few examples of perverse subsidy:

Council Tax concessions make it artificially cheap for rich people and speculators to buy second, or even sixth, homes. This makes it artificially expensive for those who can only afford, and only aspire to, buying or renting one home. Then we're told that even more money must be spent redressing the shortage of affordable housing that this feeds -and planning controls on greenfield developments must be heavily compromised into the bargain. It goes further than that, second homes may be in "holiday homes" areas of the country, but most of them are speculative investments, and all manner of trickery is engaged in, so that the speculator can claim a capital gains tax exemption on more than one house. There has been a scandal about Members of Parliament "flipping" which of their homes is defined as their main residence for tax purposes, but they were only copying what they saw a particular vested interest group doing. This also makes it hard to say how much public revenue is being wasted and denied this way, but it's hundreds of millions of pounds at the least, and probably several billions.

We pay people to scrap old cars in return for buying a new "greener" car, even though more pollution is released making a car than in running it for five years, or more in some cases.

We pay billions to create showcase high-speed rail-links, which benefit only a few travellers, a little, and which carry no freight whatsoever, when the most pressing transport need in the United Kingdom is for the railways to take more freight off the roads and deliver it to more of the country, faster. The second most pressing need is to carry commuters relatively short distances to work, reliably and on time and in as much confort as we can, so that they can do their jobs. Instead they are packed into sardine cans as gleaming Eurostars whizz past on prestige routes so expensive that it would probably be both cheaper and less polluting to fly the passengers there instead. In general, both freight and commuter services could be transformed by re-instating third and fourth tracks on routes where these were removed in the sixties and seventies, as part of a perverse subsidy for the road-building and road-haulage lobbies. This isn't glamorous, but it can be immediately and spectacularly effective at making things work better.

(There are currently demands for a high speed rail link to Scotland, which would be the third major railway line to Scotland. Today, the government arranged to take one of the existing two back into public ownership because there weren't enough long-distance passengers to make the service viable. Yes, people have to go to Scotland sometimes, but hardly anyone needs to go there on a daily basis, from London.)

The government has a huge advertising budget, which serves the advertising industry rather than the general good. In effect, New Labour has exchanged the support of the nation's "professional communicators" for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of adverts that largely just confuse and annoy the public and make advertising for normal businesses, more expensive.

Most of the other perverse subsidies are much smaller, or much better hidden, than this. But there are many hundreds of them and it's probably worth the bother of hunting them down and finishing them off. Because they don't just cost money, they harm the general good.

And New Labour's twenty-four hour licensing hours (for sale and consumption of alcoholic liquor on the premises) may not look like a perverse subsidy, because what the government does is give a favoured sector of the alcohol trade a licence to make money at everyone else's expense. But since this loads completely open-ended extra costs on:
The police, the national health service, local councils and any other business within a few hundred yards of a 24-hour drinking den (insurance costs, customers being too frightened to approach, etc.) And it's wiping small alcohol retailers and brewers out at the rate of several a day-

-it's forcing society as a whole to pay billions of pounds, one way or another, for a sub-section of one industry to make huge profits, in a way which makes it very hard for the police and the health service to do their normal jobs. The licensing arrangements were a direct sacrifice of the public good, for the support (and especially advertising muscle) of the biggest players in the booze trade.

Medawar knows that this needs to be dealt with, but for the Tory party to do it, would require them to turn away and reject, vested interests which many Tories see as a natural part of their constituency. UKIP may be our only choice, simply because it has yet to acquire the support of any particular clique and its support is pretty well distributed across every race, region and demographic. This may equip it to tackle vested interests that threaten to turn a future Tory government into a continuation of the New Labour disaster. Since the Liberal Democrats are the only "main" party to have run an openly racist election campaign in recent years (Cheltenham, 1992) Medawar simply isn't prepared to contemplate supporting them, no matter how much the Editor of the Daily Mail says the pavements brighten as Vince Cable scampers past.