Let’s apply the free markert to farming

I must stress that there was farming in the UK well before the creation of the EU.

There have been long-established trading relations all over the world particularly within the commonwealth . It sounds blistering obvious, but it is worth iterating this point as some articles published sound as though we would be left without food altogether.

Many companies here in the UK go to great lengths to state their food is made here in the UK , I can not imagine that this will go away anytime soon, perhaps some canny businesses will continue to leverage this one further.

The loss of farming subsidies and price controls understandably would be a worry to many farmers especially when their existence can be so precarious , but with ingenious thinking and  some changes in regulation these are problems that can be solved.

What would farmers do apart from farm….?

Some of the land could be moved over to housing as much as NIMBYs protest about excessive house building over the UK , such a small percentage of the country is built on “The urban landscape accounts for 10.6% of England, 1.9% of Scotland, 3.6% of Northern Ireland and 4.1% of Wales.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18623096) .First on the build list should be farms adjacent to existing housing projects, second on the build list would be the plots of land that were kept profitable due to subsidies or price controls these were most like to have been marginal in the first instance.

The government could also push to remove all the unnecessary administration and regulations that are currently coming from the EU. This would free up farmers to do what they do best which is farm and seeks new markets for goods or to use the land in a new and novel ways.

It is possible to remove all farming subsidies and produce more food at less expense to the taxpayer , who in fact get stung twice one through their taxes and the second through higher food prices. A real world example of this NZ where all farming subsides were removed 34 years year ago ,if anything it seems to have reinvigorated their farming industry (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/3747430.stm) , if an economy the size of New Zealand can perform such a change , there is no reason why the UK which is much larger economy could also not survive with out farming support

What about making all the food that we need here in the UK ? I don’t want to get into the meat (pun intended) of comparative advantage you can look that up yourself , but needless to say it makes no sense trying to make watermelon here in the UK considering our climate the amount of energy required would not be a good use of scarce resources. It makes much better sense for us to produce where we have an advantage such as making potatoes/financial services/design and engineering etc and trade them for watermelons from a countries where they make them with relative ease .

This sort of trade also allows developing nations to trade their way to prosperity as opposed to waiting for grants from first world nations . Which will come with inevitable strings attached. Trade is much simpler and bottom up way of helping individuals and nations out of poverty. As opposed to the top down method which is fought with money leaking a way to pay bureaucrats with very little making its way to the those most need it. We could do away with departments such DFID and have that money spent here at home or left with the taxpayer.

If we were to be true to our Cobden (google corn laws for more on this much forgotten British free marketeer) core ,then we would also not worry about who makes our food the UK would have the ability to trade outside of the customs union with everyone. The whole world would be able to trade food with us in return for all the goods and services where specialise . As many of the countries outside of the EU would be able to send us food more cheaply (not in all cases I conceded as they may not have scale but that could happen over time as the developing world would accumulate capital from the goods they have sold to us) .

A post Brexit Britain (or just Britain returning to nation-state which is self-governing like most other countries in the world) we need to this as an opportunity to allow all areas of the economy to flourish and experiment (one of the reasons not to integrate all EU law into UK law IMHO) with new ideas and solutions you never know what we may just come up with.

First published on stopflyingtheflag.com.

Fracking impossible in a libertarian system

The TV is full of pictures of people affected by Fracking, not just in the UK but from around the world. It occurred to me that a proper respect for property would stop Fracking in it’s tracks.

First this was bad TV because it invites people to compare costs and benefits based on all possible costs added together, like deciding not to buy milk because the price might be 50p or £1 and you can’t afford £1.50, but I digress.

The solution the UK government went for was effectively to licence the Fracking company to cause a certain amount of earthquake, effectively permitting the Fracking to go ahead on behalf of local people as long as those people can’t observe the earthquakes with their own senses. This smells a little like licensing fraud because it is not as if the earth is being interfered with any less, just less obviously.

© "Progress"Ohio

Contrast a rights based solution in which property is an absolute right and polution and disruption to the enjoyment of that property must be licensed by it’s owner. The role of Government is restricted to enforcing the licences, effectively the contracts governing pollution. If there is no contract in place, and pollution occurs improperly then the role of Government would be to end the Fracking immediately and imprison company executives. Land owners would be free to set their own particular limits on the amount of earthquake they want to occur under their land and decide if the instrument used was human senses or artificial monitoring equipment. Owners would also be free to bargain collectively via associations and form their own companies to install monitoring equipment. They would also set out the penalties that would apply if the standards were breached and the procedures for claiming damages. All the different kinds if problem could be included, earthquakes, methane pollution etc.

Since Fracking is big business and penalties might be large, it is likely that specialist firms would be formed to trade upon their expertise in the new industry of Fracking Monitoring and Enforcement. Commercialisation and a gobal market would drive down prices and ensure the complex details are made accessible to homemakers and land owners of all kinds. The fee payable for the licence itself would also be a matter for the market and up for negotiation by organised landowners.

How likely is all this? Well, anyone with a phone line knows about the modern parallel of enforcing rights to compensation after the PPI scandal. There are firms cold calling people over PPI constantly, all chasing ambulances long after the original fraud took place. A large enterprise like Cuadrilla would want certainty before starting to build infrastructure for the extraction process and, knowing that an absolute right could be enforced at any time, causing them to be thrown in gaol, and would actively encourage collective bargaining to begin. If agreement could not be reached under a licence then Cuadrilla would have been forced to buy out the land-owners or give up the project completely. However, if local land owners were respected, perhaps incentivised, and saw the benefits of Fracking outweighed the costs then Fracking might stand a chance.