Euro destruction: perhaps, in 1998 I merely spoke too soon.


David Davis

About eleven years ago, I was in a newsgroup called “eurofaq”: I believe it still to be in operation somewhere (probably on yahoogroups now if you want to go searching.) To enliven our internal exchanges with intelligence from elsewhere, I had various run-ins with some starry-eyed young people from something called “YEM”.

To do this, I used to go and lurk on their groups under the name of Jacques Bommaerts, a Belgian “student”, occsionally surfacing to ask seemingly naive questions about the forthcoming Euro, such as how one currency could be imposed on 15 nations – remember! We in the UK were to be for it too! – without either elections or referenda, and under what economic parameters it was to operate.

The responses of enraged and indignant uproar were fun to behold.

Eventually I was rumbled. Years before most of us knew about internetty-stuff, a clever-clogs on the Enemy Staff worked out that my IP address was the same as an identifiable member of eurofaq, and I was expelled from the YEM crowd amid showers of rotting cyber-cabbages and virtual-tomatoes. But the fun lasted about a year.

At the end, on my exit, I bet one of them £25 that the Euro, starting about 70p, would be under 50p by Christmas. unfortunately it wasn’t and I had to pony up, which I did.

And now, today, we have this Simon Heffer analysis – of where the Euro, and indeed the entire fascist EU project, stands.

Years pass, and I might even have been dead by now, but I’m not, which is fortunate. I have lived to see the day when the Euro might actually come undone, be toast, totalled. Another Rouble-type experiment to actually bite the dust…and in my lifetime too. 

Actually, it’s very sad: I have lived to see that modern people  _still_  let their governments get away with not learning the lessons of History. This is the main problem that I think should concern libertarians, if we are at some distant time to form the very kind of administration which sets out to cull most of the State.

A major philosophical battle will need to take place about de-sovietisation of money, so that no further disastrous monetary union experiments are tried.

Sir Fred Goodwin, pensions, property rights, Law, Legislation and Liberty: an open letter.


We have an update via the Army, here. And the MSM thinks this will not happen, here.

David Davis

Sir Frederick Goodwin

Late of…..

…..c/o The Royal Bank of Scotland plc

42 St Andrew’s Square

Edinburgh, Scotland

Dear Sir Fred

I do not know where you are at present and I presume it’s not at the above offices, but never mind. I am sure the good ladies at the Southport Branch will have this sent to you, after I have presented hard copy to them tomorrow morning. The purpose of this private letter is to advise you that I, and perhaps many thousands of other ordinary folks, are appalled at the way Mr Harriet Harman (we call her on the blog “Horrid Hardbint”) is getting at you publicly, and threatening to invoke what we also call, on here, “State Directed Property-Confiscation”.

It is really of no interest to me at all, nor is it to others I know, what your agreed pension is to be. It is the least of our worries at this time. I, as a customer of your Bank (it is actually quite a good Bank, and has not been more than usually unreasonable over the 20-odd years of my association with it – from Holt’s days – remember that one?) would say that if it and you  – and even the ghastly/oily Sir Paul Myners – had agreed a sum for you to b***** off with, than that should be it.

If the Law says a contract is admissible at Law, and therefore can be defended in a Court, then what business is it of Hardbint and her nasty fascist friends in the government to pretend they can overturn it, using what they have the brass neck, the immortal rind and thickskin, to call “public opinion”?

Are laws to be changed by merely what the sitting government says is “public opinion”? What, then, is Parliament for? A very dangerous precedent for the prospects for individual liberty – and in particular property rights – would be set by Harbint’s words, if she were able to translate them into actions.

You  __must__  certainly defend yourself, and vigorously, and by whatever means are at your disposal, to keep a contractual arrangement which has been legally agreed with you. For you to not do this will be an abrogation of YOUR own responsibility as a Subject of the Queen to defend the Rule of Law. If you do not, then a bad precedent will have been set, and everyone’s legally-agreed property will be under an existential threat.

The duty to do this falls to you more than to others (a) because you have just been publicly attacked and threatened by an Officer of the State, and (b) because you probably have more resources to do this than the rest of us.

I remain

Yours sincerely

David Davis

Blogmaster, The Libertarian Alliance

http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com

Sean Gabb – Latest Director’s Bulletin, November 2008


Sean Gabb

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/about/bulletin-2008-11-08.htm

Director’s Bulletin
9th November 2008

Introduction
Libertarian Alliance Conference
Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2008 – £1,000 Won!
Helen Evans
Norman Barry RIP
Sean Gabb in The Times
Other Media Appearances
Barack Obama
Books Received
Attendance at UKIP Function
Speaking Engagements
Negative Scanner Wanted

Introduction

I have done rather less during the past few months than usual for the Libertarian Alliance. My time has been taken up instead with finishing one novel and working on another, and with playing nursery rhymes to my daughter in many different keys.

But the Libertarian Alliance as a whole has remained very active. We have just held our most successful conference ever, and we continue to put our case in the media and wherever else we are invited.

Libertarian Alliance Conference

Our conference of two weekends ago, at the National Liberal Club in London, was our most successful ever. It is unfair to single out any particular speakers at the expense of the others. However, our three most prominent speakers were Aubrey de Gray, David Friedman and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. These all gave excellent speeches.

When advertising our conferences, I have always urged people to book early to ensure a place. Usually, we get between 80 and 90 people, and there is always room to let people come along on the day – even if dinners are less easy to arrange at short notice. This year, however, we reached the Monday before the beginning of the conference, and had 112 people on our list. The Liberal Club’s fire regulations limit for our usual room was 120. Over the next few days, another 20 people tried to book with us. When I removed the PayPal buttons from the brochure page on our website, people began to telephone us and tried begging for places. In the event, we had 120 people at the conference, and 113 booked in for dinner.

One of these, I am pleased to say, was Teresa Gorman, who was one of our most consistent friends in the Parliamentary Conservative Party during the 1980s and 1990s. Though now in semi-retirement, Teresa looks good and remains on good form.

It is not certain we shall be so crowded next year. Even so, I do recommend early booking.

As ever, we made a full video record of the speeches. Because I am busy doing other things, because it takes time to process video, and because my desktop computer is unaccountably very slow, it took me a fortnight to get the video files uploaded to the Internet. But they are now available. You can see our video record at

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/conferences/conf08record.htm

These files have been radically downsampled for Google. However, if you want better quality copies on DVD, you can use the PayPal buttons at the bottom of the record page. This year, we are happy to take payment in pounds, in dollars and in euros.

Chris R. Tame Memorial Prize 2008 – £1,000 Won!

The subject for this year’s essay as “Can a Libertarian Society be Described as ‘Tesco minus the State’?” I am disappointed that no one came forward to give a robust defence of corporations on libertarian grounds. I did promise impartial judging. However, I received a number of very fine entries, all of which will be published by the Libertarian Alliance. After much deliberation, I decided that the best entry was from Keith Preston in America. His was a very impressive entry, and we shall be delighted to publish this as a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet. For the moment, it can be seen on our blog:

<http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/chris-r-tame-memorial-prize-winning-essay/>

Next year, I am hoping for several thousand pounds of sponsorship, so that we can offer a first prize of £1000, but also several dozen second and third prizes for lesser amounts.

Helen Evans

We were all naturally concerned when Helen Evans, our Events Coordinator, fell dangerously ill just before the conference. However, she is now out of danger and well on the road to recovery. Our thoughts are with her, with her husband Tim and with their daughter Petica.

Norman Barry RIP

For those who have not heard already, I must announce the death, on the 21st October 2008, of Norman Barry. I first met him in 1986, and he was one of my external examiners some years afterward. A most distinguished scholar, he was victim in his final years to multiple sclerosis.

According to the announcement on the University of Buckingham website,

“It is with great sadness that the University has learned of the death this morning of Professor Norman Barry. As one of the foremost exponents of classical liberal theory in the United Kingdom, Norman established the foundation around which the study of politics developed at the University. His work as a scholar of Friedrich von Hayek, as a social and political theorist and as a writer in business ethics contributed greatly to the academic reputation of the University after his arrival in 1982. He received the ‘Liberty in Theory’ Lifetime Award from the Libertarian Alliance (LA) in 2005. Our condolences go to his colleagues, friends and family.

“A graduate of the University of Exeter, Professor Barry lectured in Politics at Queen’s University of Belfast and at Birmingham Polytechnic (now the University of Central England) before being appointed as a Reader in Politics at the University of Buckingham in 1982. His books include Hayek’s Social and Economic Philosophy (1979), An Introduction to Modern Political Theory (1981), The Morality of Business Enterprise (1991), Classical Liberalism in an Age of Post-Communism (1996) and Business Ethics (1998). He was awarded a Chair in Social and Political Theory at Buckingham in 1984. He was also a visiting scholar at the Centre for Social Philosophy and Policy, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and at the Liberty Fund, Indianapolis. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Institute of Economic Affairs, London; the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, London; and the David Hume Institute, Edinburgh.”

The full announcement is here:
http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/news/newsarchive2008/norman-barry.html

You can also see an interview with Professor Barry from 1991. This is in our Botsford Archive at:
http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=5778658966132637817

Sean Gabb in The Times

I think I did send this out. If not, I should have done. On Friday the 24th October 2008, The Times carried an article by me in favour of disestablishing the Church of England. Here is the article:
<http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/public_sector/article5003179.ece>

Here is a longer article I wrote a few years back, in which I argue against disestablishment:
http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc082.htm

I have changed my mind about the Church and about several other issues on which I was once a strong conservative.

Other Media Appearances

I have been much in demand by the BBC these past few months. I regret, however, that I have been far too disorganised to record any of these. My most recent was the night before the American election on Radio 5, where I denounced most politicians as motivated by money, kinky sex, or the sheer joy of messing up the lives of others. I scandalised some Labour politicians and politics lecturer, who had come on in the belief that he would be worshiping at the shrine of St Barack the Redeemer. His embittered annoyance, and his attempt to turn the listeners against me with his revelation that the Libertarian Alliance believes in legalising all drugs and even incest between consenting adults, made for an entertaining broadcast. Sadly, I failed to record any of this. I will try to do better in future.

Barack Obama

I did think of betting money on the election of Mr McCain as American President. However, the more I looked at him on the television, the more I realised he was one of those figures, half comic, half sinister, who are thrown up at the end of every ancien regime. I guessed that millions of Americans would vote for him through clenched teeth, bearing in mind it was him or a black man. But I decided in the end he was not worth the risk of losing £20.

So Mr Obama it is. He will contrive, if very differently, to be even worse for America than Mr Bush has been. On the other hand, he will probably be less inclined than Mr McCain would have been to blow the world up. And if he is a closet Moslem, that is certainly less alarming than the acknowledged Christianity of Mrs Palin.

Oh – and, since he is half-Kenyan and was born before 1963, he will be the first American President in many years whose father was a British citizen. I am sure this fact will not be overlooked by Lyndon Larouche and his many followers in America. Perhaps the Empire is striking back!

My comments on his election can be read here:
http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc176.htm

Those who want to understand the true nature of the evil he means to America, should read my book Cultural Revolution, Culture War. You can get copies here:
<http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cultural-Revolution-Culture-War-Conservatives/dp/095410322X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226250079&sr=8-2 >

I am running out of copies, but want to sell all of these before I set to work on another edition. If you buy now, you may be able to give copies to your loved ones for Christmas/Hannukah/Diwali/Kwanzaa. You are too late for Eid.

Books Received

At the Libertarian Alliance conference, David Friedman gave me a copy of his novel Harald. This is a fantasy set in world loosely based on the early middle ages, and is a very good read. I wish he had brought more copies so he could have sold and signed them. I think it is important for libertarians to write about more than how to privatise the Bulgarian motorways. David has always been a diverse writer, and his novel is a significant move into fiction.

You can buy your copies of this at:
http://www.amazon.com/Harald-David-D-Friedman/dp/1416520562

I have also been sent a copy of The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain by Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan. This is a remarkable attempt by two Conservative politicians to give their party some actual policies. Of their two main prescriptions, one is excellent, the other on the verge of terrifying. The first is to devolve to every county and city in England all the powers of the Scottish Assembly. This would at once undo the massive centralisation of power England has suffered during the past hundred years. The second is to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and to subject the judiciary to the restored legislative sovereignty of Parliament. Giving power with no hope of appeal to 625 of the most ignorant and corrupt people in the United Kingdom is not the way to make the country a better place.

I will review this book at some length in the next few weeks. you can buy copies here:
<http://www.amazon.co.uk/Books/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3ADan%20Hannan&field-author=Dan%20Hannan&page=1>

Attendance at UKIP Function

On the 17th October 2008, I was invited to a closed meeting of the UK Independence Party on HMS Belfast. This was addressed very ably by Nigel Farage, who spoke about his party’s strategy for doing well at the next elections to the European Parliament. Though I do not feel able to say more about what was a closed meeting, I was very impressed by all I saw and heard. Regardless of the strained relations for much of this year between UKIP and the Libertarian Alliance, it has been my settled intention to continue voting for UKIP. I am now glad to report that relations are no longer strained.

Speaking Engagements

I have accepted an engagement to speak to the Shelley Society at Eton College. This will be around the middle of the present month. I may record the event, but will only make my own speech available on the Internet.

Negative Scanner Wanted

I have several thousand negatives from the Chris R. Tame collection of photographs. I want to have these scanned in for upload to the Internet. Is there anyone out there able and willing to lend me a good negative scanner?


Sean Gabb
Director, The Libertarian Alliance
sean@libertarian.co.uk
Tel: 07956 472 199

http://www.libertarian.co.uk
http://www.seangabb.co.uk
http://www.hampdenpress.co.uk
http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com

FREE download of my book – Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back
Wikipedia Entry

Libertarian Alliance home

Sean Gabb on the Financial Crisis (Yawn!)


Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the
Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 175
19th September 2008

Free Markets and the Financial Collapse
by Sean Gabb

I was called earlier today by someone at the BBC to comment on the collapse of the financial system. I have no particular qualifications for commenting on this. I do not know how long it will last, or how the recovery will begin. I certainly have no detailed advice on what should be done by anyone during the next few days.

The reason I was thought worth contacting, though, was obvious. The narrative in the establishment media is that markets were too lightly regulated after about 1980, and that the consequences were a ruthless and short term greed that has now reached its natural conclusion. This being so, the answer is how much regulation should now be introduced to prevent all this from happening again. I am a libertarian. I believe in markets. If markets are now being denounced, I am the right sort of person to approach for a defence.

The problem, the researcher discovered, is that I was not the right sort of person to approach. I think, for most people, it is a matter more of ignorance than of intellectual dishonesty. But there is a general tendency to identify free markets with any set of institutional arrangements that allow things to be bought and sold.

When it comes to the Private Finance Initiative, or the privatised utilities, or the internal market in the National Health Service, I do grow impatient. These are not examples of free markets, but of corporatism: they have been called into being by the State, and are at every step regulated and privileged by the State. Where the financial markets are concerned, the identification is more reasonable. After all, these are dynamic and highly efficient markets. Perhaps more so than any others, they conform to the neoclassical concept of perfect competition. Many people who work in finance are sympathetic to libertarianism. The markets are often discussed and defended in libertarian terminology.

What I tried to explain to the researcher was that, for me and for many other libertarians, markets are to be defended not according to how efficient they may be, but according to whether they are or would be part of a voluntary order.

What libertarians want is a society in which people come together only in uncoerced relationships. Some of these � marriage and partnership agreements, for example � might be hard or even impossible to dissolve. Some others � the main example being parents and their children � might involve some coercion for a limited period. But we do require, so far as reality permits, that no one should be compelled into any relationship.

When we defend markets, we mean those relationships, outside the circle of our friends and loved ones, than involve exchanges of legally binding promises, usually with a price attached. We do not defend priced relationships that are based on any degree of coercion. Therefore, we denounce slavery and trading in slaves. We denounce the collection of taxes to pay for services provided by the government. We denounce regulations that limit the range and nature of relationships that people can choose.

And we denounce patterns of indirect coercion that herd people into relationships they might not otherwise have chosen.

The financial system, as it currently exists, is based on this last type of coercion. Consider:

First, we have taxes and a monetary framework that make prudence, as traditionally known, unwise. It used to be that people would save for emergencies by putting money into savings accounts or contributing to mutual insurance schemes. For their old age, they would save money for purchase of annuities on retirement. But we have long had levels of inflation that eroded capital values, and taxes that depressed real returns. We can respond to this by playing the markets. But this requires more time and understanding than most people are willing to give; and there is the problem � at least in Britain � of capital gains tax when securities are sold at a profit.

The answer has been to put our savings with groups of professional speculators. These claim to understand the markets better than ordinary people. Undoubtedly, they have more time to follow the markets. And there are tax laws that privilege such companies.

The result has been to concentrate most savings into the hands of people whose job is look out for short term profit, and who are inclined to welcome exotic new products that no ordinary investor would ever dare touch.

Second, there are the company laws that allow easy incorporation and limited liability for debt. These have allowed giant business organisations to rise up and flourish. The result here has been to increase the number of securities that can be bought and sold, and to call into being whole armies of professional speculators, employed by multi-national banks and other organisations.

Third, there is fractional reserve banking and fiat money. Ever since the development of modern finance, bankers have been tempted circulate more notes than they could honour. What kept this in bounds was knowledge that the monetary base was a certain amount of gold that would not quickly be changed in size. Nowadays, if bankers cannot finance all the lending they would like to make at prevailing interest rates from the stock of savings, they can simply create more money. They still have an obligation to redeem their promises. But they operate in circumstances where the monetary base can be increased at will.

I do not say that there would be no financial markets in a voluntary order. There would be intermediation between lenders and borrowers. There would be trade in bonds. There would be securitisation of debt. There would be speculation on future values of commodities and securities.

I do not even say that the financial system we have is wholly useless or malign, given the highly corporatized nature of business. Fears of shortselling or takeovers provide a check on corporate sloth or greed. The endless speculation enables those of us who have some money not to have it all stolen by our government through taxes or inflation.

But the financial system, as it does now exist, would not exist as part of a voluntary order. It would not be the huge global casino that it is. It may be efficient. It may be plausibly claimed as an instance of the free market in action. But it is not part of a voluntary order, and therefore has at best only partial legitimacy to libertarians.

Moreover, if the financial system is a creature, directly or indirectly, of government, its current problems have been wholly caused by government. I do not know when the inflation started. It may have been to float us out of the last recession, back in the early 1990s. It may have been to avoid the expected panic of the Millennium Bug. It may have been to pay for the War on Terror. It may have been the product of all of these and others. But for many years, money has been lent that was not first saved. The gap between savings and loans was bridged by money creation. It is testimony to the skill of regulators and the sophistication of the markets that the speculative bubble was able to grow so large. But, however long delayed, its bursting was inevitable. The media can blame crooked mortgage sellers in the American ghettoes, or coke-fuelled graduates in the London dealing rooms. But financial collapse was always a matter of when and not if.

When I gave a potted version of this to the BBC researcher, I could almost hear her eyes glazing over. For the second time this year, I was not called into the studio to defend the City. I understand why I was not called in. What I am saying does not fit into the establishment narrative of what has happened.

And though I never got to tell the researcher, I also have no idea of what should now be done. Perhaps the bank of England should raise interest rates sharply and stand back while much of the financial system goes insolvent. This would get things over and done with, and move us reasonably fast into the recovery stage of the next bubble. Or perhaps it should flood the City with fresh money, in an effort to bring about a soft landing. I really do not know.

Something I do know reasonably well, however, is how to stop these bubbles from starting. If I ever came to power as the front man for a military coup � somewhat unlikely for several reasons, but still worth hoping for � I would do the following:

First, I would cut taxes and government spending by at least two thirds. The remainder should pay the interest on the national debt and honour the pension commitments made to those over about the age of fifty. I would then end the tax privileges of the investment funds. This would, among much else, allow people to plan for their future without having to sit behind the institutional equivalent of a compulsive gambler.

Second, I would repeal the Companies Acts and make the declare the directors of existing corporations the true owners with joint and several liability for their debts. This would put an end to the impersonal, bureaucratic nature of modern business. It would also reduce the number of securities to be bought and sold and reduce the number of people employed to buy and sell them.

Third, I would move to a fully-convertible gold standard, with the heads of every bank made jointly and severally liable for redemption in gold of all obligations, unless contracted otherwise

As said, even a stateless voluntary order would still have financial markets. And the semi-statist system I am recommending would have not only financial markets, but also some room for speculative bubbles. But neither would be anything like the world in which we actually live.

The shame is that what we have is largely what we shall have. Sooner or later, the present collapse will be over. Then, whatever �tough regulation� the politicians may have brought in will be circumvented by a new generation of clever speculators, and the next bubble will begin to inflate.

It could be worse, however. We are not talking about Soviet Communism here, but a corporatism that, if neither stable nor just, does enable the creation of vast amounts of real wealth. And, I might say, I have done rather well personally out of the late bubble. I am assured I shall not lose disastrously now it has burst. This means I am well placed to benefit from the next bubble.

As the Good Book says: �Unto every one which hath shall be given �.�

NB—Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded for free from http://tinyurl.com/34e2o3