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Showing posts from July, 2013

Property Madness in UK

London Prime Property has become an international asset in the same way as any other tradeable asset from gold to bonds. It may be that the majority of properties in Zone 1 are now owned by foreign non residents. Syrians and other Arabs, Russians, Chinese: the London Property market has attracted speculators from around the globe. Increasingly, however, these new owners do not let these properties, they simply leave them empty. Walking in some central London neighbourhoods at night is a sobering experience- there are few lights on, and the economic impact is growing ever more severe.

The reasons why London Prime property became so attractive are many and varied, but the primary reason is that the UK does not tax these empty properties. Council tax is not levied when no one lives at the property, and Capital gains and VAT can be avoided very simply.

This gross distortion of London Prime property prices is destroying the city and the country. As George Osborne seeks to reflate the propert…

The Son of Our Future ex-King?

It is customary for the UK to get a bit Maiden Aunt at the news of a royal birth, and sure enough the pages of saccharin nonsense that cover the front pages, and indeed most of the middle pages, of the London press today completely conforms to type. Steely-eyed literary bitches with the morality of Caligula and a usual turn of phrase as uncompromising as nitric acid have suddenly turned into cooing imbeciles around the Royal pram. At least you know that these journalists are being moved to such soppy heights by something they hold most sacred of all: money.

So the endless articles about "Our Future King" whose star sign (Leo, apparently) will apparently guarantee him to be a good King and whose ineffable good breeding will make him endowed with the best blessings of existence, but still some how, you know, normal, will doubtless continue for a few days. The fact is that covering the Royal birth is so cheap, and thus TV, print media, Twitter and the rest of it will cover the s…

The Political-Journalistic Complex

The Ipsos Mori poll published last week showed a perhaps surprising amount of simple ignorance amongst the British Public. In major areas of public policy, it seems that large numbers of people do not have even a most basic understanding of the data behind the issues of the day. Alex Massie in the Spectator put forward the idea that this ignorance is why some kind of political class is necessary. Robert Sharp at Liberal Conspiracy rebutted this, making the fairly valid point that the ignorance on display can in fact be blamed on media failures as much as educational or political ones. The Liberator Blog, rightly points out that the ignorance of the Public does not let politicians off the hook.

So where does this shocking display of political ignorance leave us?

Aside from the structural failures of education, I think it clearly does underline the spectacular failure of the British media to either inform or educate- and the failure of the British public to ask the right questions, but it…

What is to be done?

In nineteenth century Russia a perennial theme of commentators was "What is to be done?". 

In pamphlets, articles and even novels, the question "What is to be done?" is endlessly repeated- notably by Lenin. The crisis of Czarism was obvious, and yet the solutions were not so clear, and in the end the breakdown of Czarist autocracy led to the totalitarianism of Stalin and the murder of millions on a scale that would have been beyond the comprehension of even the most absolute of the Czars.

Now in Russia the question "What is to be done?" is being asked again.

The kleptocratic system that has replaced the faded brutality of the Soviet Union is no more responsive to the winds of freedom than its predecessor. All of the KGB instincts of Vladimir Putin, honed under the stagnant tyranny of Brezhnev, rebel against even the most basic of Western Democratic freedoms. On almost every issue, the gangsters and spooks who have shared the spoils of Post Soviet Russia now …

People Power

The advent of still further protest in Cairo, which has now sparked a military coup, might be seen as just another of the convulsions shaking the Islamic world. The Islamist government in Ankara continues to face public outcry and even in Iran, the election of a relative moderate is seen as a significant defeat for the ultra-conservative "supreme leader" of the Islamic Republic. It is easy to dismiss these convulsions as just another example of the instability of the Islamic world in general and the Near and Middle East in particular.

Some wiseacres now suggest that the revolutions in North Africa have been a wrong turn, and that the dictatorships that preceded them were somehow better, since they provided stability and order as opposed to chaos and violence. Personally I find it quite hard to share this opinion. The fact is that the largely military regimes provided the stability of the grave and were long past their sell-by date. The fact that such violence has exploded aft…