Author Archives: Without Prejudice

Refreshing, realistic, and uncompromisingly radical

by Swithun Dobson

I believe my first memory of Sean was him defending the introduction of the R18 certification by the BBFC in 2000 on a 5 Live phone-in – even though this maybe a phantom, it is certainly an apt one given Sean’s unwavering belief that consenting adults should legally be able to do as they please. In the year 2000, I had very little idea who he actually was. In sixth form, a few years later,  I began to really discover classical liberalism, reading many of the works of the Institute for Economic Affairs. In my early years at university I devoured more hardcore libertarian texts and then stumbled across the Libertarian Alliance blog. What was refreshing about it was that it was an uncompromisingly radical organisation from England. Sean linked his appearances on BBC radio in which he called for the entire abolition of alcohol licensing laws and the rolling back of the police state. This was a far cry from some of the dull, wonkish publications from the IEA, in particular the egregiously dull title, The Dangers of Bus Re-Regulation. There was simply no-one else who was vaguely in the public eye who would defend some of the more radical libertarian positions. Read more

Sean Gabb on the New Ruling Class and “Grown-Up” Libertarianism

by Christian Robitaille

It is difficult for any writer to be both prolific and insightful. It is even more difficult to be so while defending opinions that are deemed to be dangerous by the State’s ruling class. Such writers are indeed often ridiculed or ignored. It thus requires courage as well as many other uncommon qualities to dedicate an important part of one’s life to effectively defend libertarianism. It first requires a profound knowledge of social theory and history. It then requires the ability to make sense, in light of this profound knowledge, of what the current state of the world is and to understand how it can be changed. Finally, it requires the skill to coherently articulate an opinion or a program which can be understood by as many intelligent readers as possible. Read more

Always travel with Sean

by Robert Grözinger

Apart from us both being staunch libertarians, Sean and I share a few things more in common. For example, we both were enthusiastic amateur astronomers in our youth. And we both love Richard Wagner. Especially the latter’s music came in handy once when Sean helped me collect some personal effects from my deceased father’s house in Braunschweig, Germany. It was early January 2012. I had to hire a van, driving from my home in the south-west of England. Sean and his lovely wife Andrea kindly allowed me to stay the night in their home in Deal, near Dover. Not only that: Sean had even agreed to accompany me to my old home country and share some of the driving. (When I first put my plan to him some weeks before and asked him to help me, he immediately said he would be “delighted”.) Having gone all the way to Braunschweig, we used the free day we had before returning to pass through the now defunct (indeed, virtually invisible) Iron Curtain nearby and visit the east German medieval town of Halberstadt. Here we soaked in the old history on display in a local museum. I think something he saw there inspired Sean to include it in one of his rip-roaring Alaric-novels. A wax tablet with a richly adorned silver frame it was, if I remember correctly, part of the spoils brought back from Constantinople by a Bishop of Halberstadt during the Crusades. Anyway, on the way out from, and back to, England, we listened to almost the whole of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle (Sean provided the CDs), all the while debating how best to fix the world. Conclusion: If you have to cross half a continent in a van both ways, there is no better way of doing this than by being accompanied by one of the most learned and formidable thinkers of our time, with whom you can conduct a formidable intellectual tour d’horizon, while both of you enjoy music from the most formidable opus by the most formidable composer who ever lived. Thank you, Sean. That trip was a great experience and honour. Read more

Online Harms – A Bill of Rights for the Censor

Online Harms – A Bill of Rights for the Censor
Alan Bickley
8th April 2019

Perhaps the most overlooked effect of the Brexit Crisis is that new legislation of any kind in Britain has dwindled from a flood to a trickle. Since new laws and bad laws amount to much the same, this is to be celebrated. For this reason alone, I might hope for the crisis to continue at full tilt until at least 2022. It will not, but the respite has been welcome.

Something particularly nasty that will now have to wait its turn in a long queue is any Bill inspired by the Online Harms White Paper published on the 8th April 2019. This proposes that Internet sites should be fined or blocked if they fail to tackle “online harms,” such as terrorist propaganda and child abuse. To achieve this end, here are the suggested means: Read more

Diabetes: Facts About This Modern Epidemic

Dr Mercola
Diabetes: Facts About This Modern Epidemic

According to research conducted in late 2016, life expectancy in the United States has declined for the first time in two decades, leaving the researchers baffled as to what the exact cause is.1

One of the primary perpetrators of this decline is believed to be drug overdose. But there is another major factor that has been pinpointed by a supporting study: diabetes, specifically Type 2 diabetes.2

There’s no doubt that diabetes is steadily growing to be an epidemic, particularly among Americans. According to data from the American Diabetes Association, at least half of all adults in the U.S. are either in a state of prediabetes or already have diabetes.3

Researchers also noted that it is actually “an underreported cause of death on death certificates” and should be considered the third leading cause of mortality in America, right after cancer and heart disease.4

Unfortunately, there is a growing amount of misinformation surrounding this common health condition. And, in some cases, it is the physicians themselves who are perpetuating this misinformation. But what exactly is diabetes? Why does it manifest, and more importantly, how can you protect yourself from falling victim to this growing epidemic?

Diabetes: An Illness Rooted in Insulin Resistance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines diabetes as “the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy.”5 When you eat, the food you consume is transformed by your body into sugar to be used as energy. For glucose to enter the cells of your body, it needs a hormone called insulin.

The pancreas, an organ found near the stomach, is responsible for releasing this hormone into your bloodstream. However, if you have diabetes, either your body fails to produce enough insulin or it does not use insulin as well as it needs to. This causes glucose levels to build up in your blood.6

There are three well-known types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. However, there are other lesser known types or classifications of this illness.

Many people think that diabetes is a disease of blood sugar – but it is not. Rather, it is a disorder of insulin and leptin signaling. Insulin acts as a source of energy for your cells. In other words, you NEED insulin to live. In healthy people, the pancreas does a wonderful job of providing your body with just the right amount.

But in some, risk factors and certain circumstances put the pancreas at risk of not functioning properly. This causes insulin and leptin resistance, which then evolves over a long period of time. It starts as prediabetes and if left untreated, goes on to become full-blown diabetes.

The Good News: Diabetes Is Preventable AND Reversible

The reason why conventional medicine fails to treat diabetes is because the solutions they put in place address the insulin deficiency through insulin shots or pills. In short, they are addressing the symptom and NOT the root cause, which is insulin sensitivity.

What many fail to realize is that diabetes, particularly Type 2 diabetes, is preventable and reversible. All it takes is proper attention to your lifestyle, especially your diet. In fact, in the majority of cases, diabetes does not need any type of medication.

Learn More About Diabetes

Many diabetics usually find themselves falling down a black hole of helplessness, as they’re clueless on how to reverse their illness. But there is a way out, and the first step is to be informed.

Visit these pages and learn everything you need to know about diabetes: common risk factors, its hallmark symptoms, the different types, and how to effectively reverse this condition. Find out how your diet and lifestyle play a role in the occurrence of this illness.

Diabetes now affects people of all ages and from all walks of life, so this is crucial, must-know information. Share these pages with someone you know who’s struggling with this illness. Who knows, you just might save them from the perils of this disease.

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What Is Diabetes?

What Is Diabetes?

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The Japanification of the World

Charles Hugh Smith
The Japanification of the World

Zombification / Japanification is not success; it is only the last desperate defense of a failing, brittle status quo by doing more of what’s failed.

A recent theme in the financial media is the Japanification of Europe. Japanification refers to a set of economic and financial conditions that have come to characterize Japan’s economy over the past 28 years: persistent stagnation and deflation, a low-growth and low-inflation economy, very loose monetary policy, a central bank that is actively monetizing debt, i.e. creating currency out of thin air to buy government debt and a government which funds “bridges to nowhere” and other stimulus spending to keep the economy from crashing into outright contraction.

The parallels with Europe are obvious, but they don’t stop there: the entire world is veering into a zombified financial, economic, social and political status quo that is the core of Japanification.

While most commentators focus on the economic characteristics of Japanification, social and political stagnation are equally consequential. If we only measure economic/financial stagnation, it appears as if Japan and Europe are holding their own, i.e.maintaining the status quo via near-zero growth and near-zero interest rates.

But if we measure social and political decay, the erosion is undeniable. Here’s one example. Few Americans have access to or watch Japanese TV, so they are unaware of the emergence of the homeless as a permanent feature of urban Japan. The central state propaganda media is focused on encouraging tourism, a rare bright spot in Japan’s moribund economy, and so you won’t find much media coverage of homelessness or other systemic signs of social breakdown.

If you watch Japanese detective/police procedural dramas, however, you’ll find constant references to homeless people and homeless encampments: detectives seek witnesses to a crime in the nearby homeless encampment; a homeless man living in an abandoned warehouse is found murdered, etc.

Here’s the core dynamic of zombification / Japanification: the top 25% are doing whatever is necessary to maintain the status quo because it works well for them, but the system is failing the bottom 75%, who must be politically, socially and economically neutered so they can’t upset the apple cart.

Depending on the economy/society in question, one could argue that it’s the top 40% defending the status quo and disenfranchising the bottom 60%, or it’s the top 20% disenfranchising the bottom 80%. The exact ratio doesn’t matter; what matters is the status quo no longer works for the majority, but they are powerless to change the system because it’s controlled by the minority who benefit so greatly from it being locked in its present setting.

The other dynamic of zombification / Japanification is: past success shackles the power elites to a failed model. The greater the past glory, the stronger its hold on the national identity and the power elites.

And so the power elites do more of what’s failed in increasingly extreme doses. If lowering interest rates sparked secular growth, then the power elites will lower interest rates to zero. When that fails to move the needle, they lower rates below zero, i.e. negative interest rates.

When this too fails to move the needle, they rig statistics to make it appear that all is well. In the immortal words of Mr. Junker, when it becomes serious you have to lie, and it’s now serious all the time.

The necessity of neutering the majority politically, socially and economically manifests in two destructive ways: young people who opt out (or are frozen out) of the failed status quo do not mate and have children, do not buy houses, new cars, etc. This sets off a demographic time bomb that guarantees the implosion of the financial promises made by the self-serving status quo.

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The post The Japanification of the World appeared first on LewRockwell.

Brexit: confusion and muddle

Richard North

There is currently very little sign that May will travel to next week’s emergency European Council with the coherent plan the EU says will be necessary to grant the UK a further delay to Brexit, which is currently scheduled to happen on Friday. So says the Guardian, telling us nothing we didn’t know already.

As to the May/Corbyn talks, shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, who has been part of the Labour delegation, says the mood of the talks had been “quite a positive and hopeful one”, but little has been achieved.

But then, this is Rebecca Long-Bailey, who confided in Andrew Marr about his party’s ambitions for a customs union. It’s important, she said, “to state that the reason we’re calling for a customs union is to protect vital supply chains. Manufacturing particularly. So we can have that frictionless trade”.

That, three years into the Brexit process, is the best a senior Labour MP can manage, one who is a key member of the party’s team – someone who believes that a customs union can deliver “frictionless trade”.

But, on the other side of the divide, there is Andrea Leadsom, and things there are not much better. Asked by Andrew Marr what her reaction would be to the prime minister agreeing a customs union deal with the Labour Party, she said:

I think the Prime Minister’s proposal is an excellent proposal and it has a customs arrangement within it to ensure completely tariff-free and non-tariff barrier free customs arrangements for agrifoods and industrialised goods. So that is a type of customs arrangement.

Both sides are talking gibberish. The idea that “frictionless trade” is a consequence of a customs union is absurd, yet Leadsom’s assertion that a “customs arrangement” – whatever that actually means – can ensure “completely tariff-free and non-tariff barrier free customs arrangements for agrifoods and industrialised goods” is just not in the real world.

The elimination of the non-tariff barriers comes with a regulatory union, otherwise known as the Single Market – something entirely distinct from anything directly to do with customs, and something which, under normal circumstances, brings with it freedom of movement.

But if that is confusing enough, Leadsom goes on to say that, “Jeremy Corbyn originally said he wanted a customs union with no free movement and with the ability to negotiate our own free trade deals”. Now that, she adds, is “what the Prime Minister’s own customs arrangement offers”.

There is no linear relationship between the claims, and now way of tying together the terms being used. They are jumbled together in a way that defies coherences and speaks of nothing but the most profound intellectual confusion.

To this, there is no remedy – not the slightest chance of any improvement. In August 2015, I wrote a blogpost entitled “the naming of parts”, alluding to the poem by Henry Reed on the ritual of learning the parts of a rifle, one of the first steps in marking the transition from callow civilian to soldier.

But, I wrote, this is a ritual that applies to every trade and profession – one of learning its special vocabulary, knowledge of which distinguishes the practitioner from the outsider. Clarity and precision in the use of words, I asserted, was vital. Sloppy use of vocabulary leads to confusion and muddle.

At the time, I was writing about migration but the sentiment is every bit as appropriate to Brexit. And here we are in the depths of a political crisis where the principal actors don’t even understand the basic vocabulary, or mean the same things when they use the same words. This can do nothing but spread confusion and muddle.

One would not have thought that the politicians – to say nothing of the hacks – could make such a mess of this, but it seems that their capacity to get it wrong is endless.

Yet, for a thing such as a customs union, the concept is remarkably simple. As defined, it is a trade agreement where the parties agree to remove tariffs and quantitative restrictions between themselves, and apply a common external tariff, so that all members apply to same tariffs to third countries.

The customs union, therefore, deals exclusively with tariffs and quantitative restrictions (quotas). It has no impact on regulatory standards and does not in any way relate to customs procedures, of define parameters for customs cooperation, which is an altogether different thing.

That anyone should even have to think of clarifying such issues at this late stage of the Brexit process illustrates just what a dire position we are in. I was writing about this on the blog in October 2016, and even by then the issues should have been settled.

It gets even worse when the customs union is elided with trade policy and the ability to conclude free trade agreements. For instance, it is widely held – for instance, by issue-illiterates such as Liam Halligan that membership of the EU’s customs union is what prevents us from making separate trade deals with third countries.

This, of course, is not the case. The provisions which prevent this relate to Articles 206-207 TFEU, which define the Common Commercial Policy (CCP), and Article 3 which makes it an exclusive EU competence. These Articles, and not the customs union, gives the EU exclusive powers to make trade deals on behalf of members.

In theory, and indeed practice, there is nothing to stop members of a customs union making their trade deals with non-members, where agreements relate to non-tariff matters, and flanking policies – as is the case with Merosur.

There can even be allowances made for separate tariff deals. When a member imports goods at a rate lower than the external tariff, on re-export to a member, the difference between the two is added by the destination country. For made-up goods, rules of origin may apply.

But there are further complications in considering the difference between membership of the EU’s customs union, and a customs union with the EU. Outside the EU, the UK cannot be a member of the customs union, which amongst other things requires 80 percent of tariff income collected by members to be remitted to the EU budget.

We can only become members of a separately negotiated customs union, which would be a distinct agreement between the EU and the UK. How this would be financed would be a matter to be negotiated between the parties. Most likely, each party would bear its own costs.

For the UK, the downside of customs union membership is that it would tie us into the common external tariff, which would restrict our flexibility to make tariff deals with other third countries – depending on the nature of the agreement we had with the EU. This might also have a long-term impact on our foreign policy.

For the most part, though, customs union are an antiquated form of agreement that long-predate the WTO and were primarily used as a precursor to political integration. That was the great attraction for the EEC, which saw it as the first step in the creation of a United States of Europe.

There is, therefore, enormous political symbolism in being members of a customs union with the EU. Turkey and the EU negotiated a customs union which came into force in in 1995, essentially as a pre-accession measure to signal its determination to join the EU.

For the UK, it is an entirely unnecessary measure. By agreeing even a conventional free trade agreement, we can eliminate tariffs, and unilaterally adopting the EU’s WTO schedules – which we have done – has the effect of a customs union without the formality of a treaty.

In all senses, the customs union is a complete red herring, which is what I was writing in The Times in December 2016. Yet, one way or another, the political classes seem obsessed with the concept – even if most don’t know what it means or entails – and have wasted a colossal amount of time and energy in pursuing it.

If we want frictionless trade, of course, we have to look to the Single Market, which is an entirely separate legal entity. And yet, not only do so many politicians fail to understand the concept of the customs union, they readily confuse it with the Single Market – as seems to be the case with Rebecca Long-Bailey.

There is no excuse for this, and the inability of politicians (and, indeed, the media) to master the basics is contemptible. Their failures represent a colossal dereliction of duty and are responsible for much of the situation in which we find ourselves. And yet, to this day, is there any one of them who shows the slightest bit of shame?

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