The Town Clerk of Britain

Should Britain decide to remain in the European Union on 23rd June, 2016, that clicking sound you hear behind you will be the door shutting on sovereignty.

The changes in voting mechanisms, the removal of the veto in so many areas, the primacy of the European Court has gradually emasculated the UK Parliament.

Yet more transfers of power will occur.

The EU would continue to draw power to itself and away from the nation states and your elected representatives. This makes the imperfect more so. The EU Parliament is a rubber stamp or, at best, an amending chamber not capable of rejecting, introducing nor repealing legislation.

The oft-denied plan to fold the British Armed Forces into a European military exists and will result in loss of independence in this area, partially, if not totally.
There are moves to unify taxation and expand into other competencies.

Welfare and health systems are due to be normalized.

The EU already has a de facto Foreign Office and Ambassador, even if ineffectual at this time.

In a short time, taxation, welfare, military, foreign relations will be out of the hands of the Prime Minister, Cabinet and UK Parliament.

Without control and a final say over such things, the definition of nationhood is stretched beyond absurdity as sovereignty is lost. Lost from the citizens via the Members of Parliament. That sovereignty is held in trust, and not to be handed over, but handed back. But if the nation votes Remain, it will most certainly be handed over. Maybe not right away, but gradually, carelessly or sometimes intentionally slipping between those representatives’ fingers. With that sovereignty goes the authority of the MPs and thus the authority of the person that is the Prime Minister.

If the nation votes Remain, one thing is certain, it will not remain a sovereign nation, but more a municipality. It will not have a use for a Prime Minister. The top job will have to change to match the remaining levels of authority and power.

Should the nation vote to Remain, I propose the top job title is changed to something more fitting: The Town Clerk of Britain.

Migration exposes systemic flaws: Will this be an opportunity?

If I were Syrian, I would almost certainly be trying to get to Europe by any means at my disposal. I would want my family safe, and to provide for them.

If Britain imploded, I would almost certainly be trying to get to another safe haven.

This is the motivation for many who try to enter Europe now, there can be no doubt.

Some say let them all come, others say keep them all out. Others sit somewhere in between.

Do I have the right answer? No I do not. But I do want to mention some things that I feel are important in regard to this matter.

Successive governments have built an apparatus that is not only incapable of adapting to rapid changes in demand, but, as it is constructed and implemented, has significant potential to cause shortages and resentment amongst those who feel they have a prior claim. This has already been the case, let alone if larger numbers of migrants arrive. This resentment could be leveraged by those who seek to divide, cause violence and reduce the freedoms and liberties of the population.

Defined benefit welfarism, housing, education and healthcare exist in the State dimension. Taxation, wage distortions and planning regulations are notable issues from a legal/regulatory one. These form an overall apparatus, now the nation functions, for good or ill.

It is my view that the current defined benefit welfare and associated apparatus and regulatory frameworks are incompatible with the free movement of people. If you asked me to choose between the two, I would choose the latter, not the former.

I do wonder if the time is getting close where people may wake up to the problems of a defined-benefit welfare system and the associated apparatus. It is rapidly becoming obsolete in a dynamic, fluid world. If we are honest, only with limited or no migration can it work harmoniously. We don’t, so it doesn’t. The honest and hard working arrivals, even after generations, are tarred with the same brush as moochers, which is an appalling situation.Worse that some moochers are as indigenous as they come.

Can we fix (or should I say un-screw-up) the system to allow for a changing world, to remove the seeds of resentment and to make it clear all those who arrive are doing so to truly escape chaos, not to get a free ride?

Will the removal or dismantling of the defined benefit concept mean people will not be as hostile to new arrivals?

I do think so.

A defined contribution system would, to me, be the logical evolution from where we are now to a place closer to where we might want to be. It would have more of a chance if pluralistic, to foster a market that will expand health and education, as well as housing, to meet demand.

Phasing in defined contribution could be just for new arrivals initially. This could be taken as being discriminatory, but one could logically extend “new arrivals” to be any newborns or those soon to join the workforce. The segue for the remaining population would need to be done by sector – housing, health, education, unemployment benefits, though not necessarily in that order. Items like healthcare can be evolved using a form of provision used elsewhere in Europe, such as Switzerland, though insurance for inability to pay might need further thought.Education needs plurality and funding to open up and gain efficiencies, via vouchers first, then direct funding. Pensions will almost certainly need a longer term plan.

There is also the option of voluntary contributions to support new arrivals. Such organisations could provide transitional services, but without the compulsion of a statutory “duty of care”, which can be exploited, claimed against, legally enforced and voted up by those who “care”, yet do not fund. Voluntary funding would remove much of the stigma and resentment, and can chose not to support those who are disruptive. The state is the obstacle in this case – blocking, monopolizing and distorting.

In all of this, the need to uphold property rights, the rule of law and prevent vocal totalitarian or bigoted groups from hijacking the situation is essential.

Apart from improving the mechanisms in the country at large, I am somewhat biased towards the formation of entrepreneurial city states, like Hong Kong or Singapore. A form of this is called a Charter City.

The key would be to have a plurality of costal areas, up to 1000sqkm, accessible to trade routes without hindrance, and free from the legal system of the erstewhile ruler of the land. Each area would set up their own system. This gives competition. No one system would want to be too rapacious or restrictive, as the other areas could poach the more valuable parts of a mobile workforce. It would need nation states to relinquish control of land, and for wealthy individuals or groups to build. I do not think a government could build it, as they would find it hard to resist interfering or leaking authoritarian laws into the domain.Letting go and not grabbing back would be a monumental challenge, too.

While one such Charter City on 1000sqkm of land could house the entire population of Syria, I would much prefer a plurality of Charter Cities, each open to all, so there is no concept of a dumping ground.

As to the Elephant in the room, war and ISIS, that is even trickier. Intervention is not an easy answer, or should I say an easy solution.

If all powers ganged up to take ISIS on, i.e.US and others fell in alongside the Russians and Iranians, then it could be done. The problem of who runs the place afterwards will then occur. Assad has rather torn up his own legitimacy to rule a people. There is no reason to doubt that similar groups will not arise elsewhere, or that the conflict then moves on to the issue of Kurdistan, in which sides are not so clear cut, and multiple existing nation states would see loss of chattel, I mean territory. An answer, as I said, but not a solution.

So, I have no single answer, no silver bullet, but I believe the UK is not in a position to be able to respond appropriately to migration, let alone mass migration, while it still has systemic dysfunction in its welfare and legal frameworks, a systemic dysfunction that needs fixing regardless of the migrant crisis.

Better to not have anyone want to leave their home in the first place. Unfortunately, we are beyond that already, but it does not mean we cannot get to that situaiton, if only by building new oasis of freedom.

An option for Greece

There is a succinct piece on explaining that Greece has 5, not 2 options before it. I want to put forward a sixth.

Before I do that, a summary of the other 5:

1. Greece stays in the Eurozone

2. Greece keeps the euro, but stays outside the eurozone – “The Montenegro Option”

3. A Currency Board – a new currency, but locked to the Euro.

4. A Dual system – a Drachma and the Euro circulates side by side

5. The New Drachma – possibly growing out of option 4, above, due to Gresham’s Law.

Option 6 – Currency Freedom

This is to end currency monopoly formally, not just to a dual currency arrangement, but a true acknowledgement of plurality, as decided upon by each member of the Greek citizenry.

US dollars, euros, RMB, gold, Bitcoin, anything, if agreed by both parties in the transaction.

It would be likely, IMHO, for the Greek govt to have its own currency again, free from external control by states or private sector banks, but this time it would be without a monopoly. The government can, of course, require payment of taxes in its own currency, and decide to pay suppliers and employees in it, too. This would add some heft to it.

What this will do, however, is not grant it as much power to print at the expense of savers, creditors and wage earners. It will impose much needed discipline and awareness of consequences. The government would need to become more like a going concern, able to raise funds for investment purposes that yield return, but the Government would find it hard to borrow on the never-never for ongoing overheads and obligations. A Drachma will be, more than most currencies, a share certificate in The Greek State Inc. And for those who think one cannot borrow/lend shares, well, one can, and many do already.

The role of the central bank would not go away, but be limited to institutions handling Drachma, as mentioned. Most banking organisations are operating under global agreements such as Basel3, anyway, and if taxes are paid in Drachma,

most banks will need to handle it one way or another and thus have a state license and deposits lodged at the Central Bank.

The freedom in currency will mean an organisation that has costs in us dollars can bill in us dollars. It means routinely,

savers need not keep their wealth hostage to one currency or politicians. Banking solutions can and would be found to handle the exchanges efficiently. It is not beyond the wit of banks to perform immediate, low margin, zero commission foreign exchange via multiple accounts in different currencies. In Hong Kong, my moderate transfers had a 0.3% spread 15 years ago. Multi currency credit or debit cards, or other payment solutions such as gold linked or bitcoin based, that detect the destination currency, would deduct the appropriate account or perform the necessary conversions.

With the 6th Option, people will be free of currency slavery. Even if they did continue to use the domestic State currency, it would be more exposed to reality, and thus give the State a moment of pause before they acted. Life could continue if a person chose to back out of its use partly or completely.

The state is, however, faced with a society that has, for all intents and purposes, pulled out on the implicit, if grudging, compact that sustains taxation. Taxation has to be seen to be fair not just by the majority, but also by those shouldering the burden. Flat? Land ? Consumption? A mix of all three? It is a problem that faces the nation, no matter what option was chosen.

 

 

Image © Alehins

For those thinking that a Cyprus-style outrage might happen here, I have bad news

The truth is that, worse has been happening in the UK for years beneath your very noses.

According to the first EU offer, those with EUR100k or more in deposits will have 9.9% of their balance converted into bank shares. Those with below EUR100k will have 6.75% converted. As time progresses, the wolf is tempting the sheep a little by suggesting 3% on amounts between EUR20k and EUR100k, with those under EUR20k escaping and those above getting punished with 15% – transforming a bad scheme into one even more unfair.

This is not straight theft, mind, but more of a unilateral renegotiation of a loan agreement. It is no less of an outrage for that.

What most people do not realise is, a bank deposit is not cash held at a bank, but a loan to it. Putting your money in a bank is to no longer have it. One’s bank statement does not represent the cash one has, more what the bank owes. The Cypriots have found that their loans have become 90.1% on-call loan and 9.9% bank shares of dubious value and liquidity. Given the capital controls, the 90.1% loan is rapidly losing its on-call status, too.

pick-pocket-from-short-film-thin-strip

This is bare-faced and in the open. If you want to see insidious, stealthy theft, look no further than the Bank of England, with its artificially low interest rates coupled with increasing Govt debt and money-printing, now called “Quantitative Easing” to spare their blushes. Those with holdings in Sterling, savers, in other words, have had the value of their wealth transferred away from them by these effects. Debtors gain that wealth. The State is a massive debtor, so it has a significant vested interest in such policies. It all happens gradually and under the surface so people hardly notice.

All across the world, people are shocked at the events in Cyprus, but, oddly, the very predicament Cyprus is in has forced the State to crawl out into the daylight and reveal its vile actions for all to see. Normally, it invisibly taxes by devaluing and diluting the currency, and everyone chews the cud as before. As one cannot hit the monetary base of Cyprus alone due to it being in the Euro, it is savers that are hit.

The cattle are all chained together in the Euro. The butcher had to do its slaughtering and skinning in plain sight of the other cattle, and the herd is now restless. We look on with concern, not knowing the slaughtering and skinning is being performed in the night, as Morlocks will stalk the Eloi.

Will there be widespread runs on the banks? If I were in Spain or Italy or Portugal, I would not have my money let out to an organisation that has the State’s chain running through its nose.

How long before people wake up one day to find their “savings” partly transferred into worthless UK Gilts or unwelcome RBS shares?

Desperate times require desperate measures. Desperate debtors, even more so.