Monday, 21 February 2011

Giving prisoners the vote: Q. The European Court of Human Rights- to whom is it unaccountable for when it behaves illegally? Ans. Member States

Giving prisoners the vote: Q. The European Court of Human Rights- to whom is it unaccountable for when it behaves illegally? Ans. Member States
I have already warned about the European Convention on Human Rights this time last year. Then I said: 'The European Convention on Human Rights is a unique hypocrisy amongst instruments claiming to protect liberty. For all the supposed liberties it grants (which reflect select values of a few lawyers and civil servants and not the people of Europe that its title (Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) grandiosely seems to claim), it allows the state to define circumstances in which to take them away. But it is more than this, in classic ‘anti-liberal’ spirit, the Convention also defines the limits of the rights it espouses, through the existence of constrictive provisos upon which they can be relied upon.

An inherent feature of the concept of 'rights' is to have an unlimited number of claims against the state. That it is the duty of the state to provide for them, irrespective of the merit of the individual bringing forward the claim.'

This has now been show by the absurd issue of prisoner's votes. Bentham, one of the great 19th Century Liberals, reflected on the history of liberty in England and noted that abuse of power occurs when power is in a few hands. Though the tyranny of monarchy had gone, what he feared then was a tyranny of unelected judges. That it was vital that Parliament develop itself constitutionally to have clear supremacy, under positive law, to protect democracy from hyperactive judges. No one would have thought we would have signed up to a treaty that did exactly the opposite: to gave a clear licence to judges to be politicians. Alas, only if the Government in the 1950s had consulted that expert on treaties (the world expert), the British lawyer, Lord McNair. He would have pointed out how the text was open to abuse. This possible expansive approach to treaty interpretation is superbly expostulated in his masterly work on the law of treaties. (Oddly McNair was later the President of the Strasbourg court, though a very refrained and thoughtful judge).

This was not done. What we now have is foreign elected judges, from significantly diverse legal backgrounds (many from states that have no rule of law)making political decisions, for our country, through legal means. There is little to suggest that David Cameron will do anything but voice a meager, and quiet, personal opinion on this.

What then is to hold this unelected court to account? Or are we seeing a new era of divine law, as in medieval times, that we cannot question or subject to reason? And does anyone get the more damning point, that European Court of Human Rights is making sentencing and criminal justice policy by making such a decision- thus clearly violating the text of the treaty?

Wake up Mr. Cameron, and wake up Britain.

Abhijit P.G. Pandya Copyright 2011
Birkenhead Society Copyright 2011.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The danger of the EU hedge fund directive, is to enervate the hedge fund market itself.

The danger of regulation is that it can destroy the very market it is trying to regulate. Please indulge me in using a hypothetical. Imagine that you are a regulator who wishes to regulate haulage companies for the emissions of their vehicles. You use scientific data on pollution to construct an ideal quanta requirement. You then pass regulation to deal with this. You are not too bothered, sadly, that there will be some haulage companies that will go bust as they will not be able to afford the appropriate vehicles. What you are further, and in some ways more worryingly, blind to is that haulage companies have a specific range of vehicles for the needs of their customers. Further that maintenance of a specific range is directly related to their profitability, growth, and to meet rising costs such as fuel. This is only discovered years later, when it is only shown that unemployment (a more interesting thing for politicians to throw around) in the haulage industry is serious.

Now have a look at the arbitrary way the capital adequacy requirements in the hedge funds directive were formed. The very notion of regulation here is designed to militate against the products themselves. The difference between the hypothetical, above, and the hedge-fund market makes an even stronger case for non-regulation. This is that the hedge-fund market is itself a risk based market, thus profitability is entirely based on the allocation of risks itself. This must depend, as my hypothetical suggests, on the knowledge of the market agent, who is best able to assess it. Thus to regulate a base line of capital adequacy does not, in itself, obviate risk as the real risk is the choice of investment, not the absence of collateral. The regulation of the collateral may only slow down transactions, thus increasing their costs, but will not eviscerate risk itself. Further, these requirements may make transactions costs so high that viable investing may no longer be on the cards. This may harm certain sectors of the economy who depend on high risk investment, and play an important role in the economy such as the provision of infrastructure. Further this regulation may not be a solution. For some it was only the off-shore banks that were largely unregulated that kept better capital adequacy requirements. Perhaps it is time to reiterate that old adage that the market knows best.

Abhijit P.G. Pandya Copyright 2011

Abhijit P.G. Pandya Copyright Birkenhead Society

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Monnet, Schuman and the myth that it was the avoidance of war that motivated the founding fathers of Europe

A significant fallacy that surrounds theories as to the founding of Europe is that it was done by its chief architects to avoid war. Quite on the contrary, Monet (left) was an amateur economic theorist who, for most of his life, believed that co-operation led to a more effective production capacity at the time of war, not peace. He learned, during his time as a traveling salesman, of benefits of getting access to resources of other states for the benefit of France. Robert Schuman, the other key figure in the founding of the European project, was an analyst of corruption and efficiency in the French steel industry. Both men, particularly Schuman, would have been aware of the lagging of French industrial growth in comparison to both Britain and Germany by the start of the 20th C. Hence economic co-operation for the mutual benefit of both Germany and France, but particularly the latter, seemed like an interesting concept and one worth pursuing. The benefits of raw materials for the production of steel, and steel itself are useful in the stimulation of a manufacturing center to provide economic growth and employment. This was particularly so in an era where developed economies were not significantly service industry driven.

The Second World War gave the opportunity, and the catalyst, to realise these nascent ideas of economic co-operation to re-engage manufacture based industrial growth. The sentiment of avoiding war, was a useful political and rhetorical device for selling the project. Neither man would have been daft enough to believe that the mere signing of a treaty (of co-operation) would avoid war, in fact everything that had occurred during their lives would have lead to the opposite being true. Political support from other capitalist states was extant to avoid the spread of communism.

The reversal of purpose by pro-European integrationists, that political integration in Europe has been designed to avoid war, is one of the greatest lies both in our times and in the times of our recent forefathers. Those economic integrationists who also wish for a Federal system, must look at the U.S. Civil War for an example of conflict that can arise. The biggest admonition here comes from the fact that the U.S. Civil War occurred despite a common constitutional settlement existing, one that does not exist for Europe. Common consensus of political values is still a lie propagated at the start of each successive re-drafting of European Treaties.

So why do pro-integrationists and Federalists continue to propagate the lie of the avoidance of war? It is not immediately clear. There was no war in Europe from 1945 to set-up of the European Economic Community in 1957. Thus the existence of peace cannot be co-dependent on the existence of a political Union or a common market. Yet this simple fact is ignored on so many European politics courses at Universities, for the sake of furthering ideology based on personal sentiment of the course convener. Many of these are quasi-socialists, who understand that if the all the states of Europe were to shift to significantly to the left, the possibility of a quasi-socialist overlord based on redistributionist economics would be possible. The supposed virtue of this is based on an economically blind belief that the best way for a society or person to become wealthy is to be given the wealth of others rather than to create it for itself or himself. This is why there was the creation of the social chapter for the European Union, and the welfare competence granted to the EU under Lisbon. This is to pave the way for control of EU law-making by a redistributive consensus, being very feasible considering that this is the predominant political ideal in most European states.

The usefulness of this lie of avoidance of war is clear. It engages one of the worst parts of our psyche: fear. We have to stay in the project for the fear of our lives, and the numerous emotionally susceptible and politically misled fall for it. It is also a common currency for lazy thinking, amongst both undergraduates and post-graduates, at Universities I have taught in. A broader reading of history suggests that what really is to fear is continued integration without consent. To realise that the entering into of Lisbon with a false second referendum in Ireland, and the absence of one in the UK, is an affront to democratic decency. In 1648 a political device was created to free men from the tyranny of a supra-national overlord, constituted primarily by the diet regime of the Papacy. This device was the nation-state, a vehicle for expression of identity, which is not only linked to but as important as individual liberty. Three-hundred and fifty years later it is at threat from disingenuous machinations of those in search for power and control based on their personal ideology as much as that which dogged the Catholic church and the Hapsburgs in their lust for European power centuries earlier. Those political machinations, including lack of local representation and closed door decision-making, led to the bloodiest war in human history (the Thirty Years War) through which almost 70% of the population of Europe was wiped out.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2011
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2011.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Muslims who can’t take a joke are ‘cultural terrorists’ – Shame on those that have attacked Mr Donnelly

What are two of the finest things about British culture? Yes we have so many to choose from, but to sample a couple let me tell you about (i) our humour and (ii) freedom of speech. Yes, for several hundred years the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh and the English all got along, despite their differences, in small part due to their ability to poke fun, demonise and ridicule one another. And they did this without taking offence and realising, whatever one might say, that being insensitive to quips and insults is a sign of maturity. Then came Islam and we find that no small minority of it has a serious grudge to bear with these key two aspects of our culture, to the point of trying to destroy them.

Let me give you a ludicrous example. A few days ago AV voting campaigner Ben Donnelly was dismissed from his campaigning post for a statement on the internet site twitter that said: ‘Says in the Holy Qu’ran the Prophet used to get his neighbours to vote by AV which of his 4 wives he’d shag each night’. One may have to pause at this point to smirk (assuming one is not being watched). Now here is the interesting part: Labour MP Khalid Mahmood called for Donnelly to be referred to the police. Yes, the Labour MP has a job in the mother of all Parliaments in Britain. The Parliament that supposedly embodies the spirit of freedom through which it was formed in the 17th C, by Parliamentarians fighting against a tyrant King. Doesn’t this incident not just show what sort of imbeciles now line its green benches? Another Mr. Shafiq, the Chief Executive of the Ramadan foundation, described the joke as ‘disgusting’ . A spokesman for the Yes campaign joined in saying that these comments will not be accepted. So the ‘cultural terrorism’ begins. This term being used to signify an unjustifiable, arbitrary, interference and curbing of key aspects of our own culture, by these cultural terrorists who have no idea how important free-speech (and related humour and mockery) is to the functioning of a tolerant free society. The latter, with no irony, is so important for minority groups to live and contribute to life here. This, of course, is not the first of this sort of incident.

If there is any action to be taken it is to defend our culture against this small band of minority cultural terrorists who seek to use their own individual sensitivities to silence us all, that time is now. This is before this gets any worse and this non-physical violence against our values is permitted to continue to grow. As Karl Popper pointed out in one of his books (The Open Society and Its Enemies: The Spell of Plato):‘Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them’.

Within this statement of Popper’s is the rationale to fight anyone who behaves like a tyrant, curbing the freedoms of others for his own individual comfort. We must stop that most intolerant of beings who can’t stand others poking fun at him, his football club, his religion or the way he fries his eggs by telling him that we won’t put with his childish sensitivities. So many intolerant bullies get away with this, often playing the victim card for themselves. We must have the courage to say please, please grow up and join the 21st Century and be free. If our MP’s and Government won’t do this- we have little chance of preserving this salami slicing of our freedom and culture by these cultural terrorists.

Can the public please wake-up and stand-up for our freedom of speech and humour before accusations using that most broadest and Gestapoeque term ‘Islamophobia’ turn our country into a police-state from a free tolerant society? Wake-up and support us in UKIP, who will go where the other political idiots can’t due to their appeasement and myopia on this most pressing of issues.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2011 (3rd Feb 2011)
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2011.