Lee Rotherham on the Common Agricultural Policy, Food, and Trade

Lee Rotherham says that the Common Agricultural Policy is a major disaster. And he blames the French, their working population was dropping relative to other countries and they desired a subsidy to maintain the French countyside.

The costing he did demonstrated that the policy costs each family £398 anually (3.1% of a living wage) and an additional cost of £2.81 per week (1% of a living wage) stems from the Common Fisheries Policy. Dr Rotherham pointed out that other EU policies add additional costs on top of those two.

The mechanisms at work are the direct draw by the EU on UK tax payers and the indirect effect of higher (not lower, higher) prices for food products.

Ian Dunt complimented the French lobbying that lead to the CAP but pointed out that the upward trend in food prices is a more recent phenomenon. Combined with the fact that other countries have similar policies he contended that this policy does not fully explain the problems since 2008.

Kristian agreed after a fashion, and added that there was a historic downward trend in food prices. However although the problems of the crisis post-date it, he argued it is no longer reasonable to endulge French farmers. Times are tough and we would prefer food prices were lower than they are now. Kristian refered to global market forces to explain the more recent rises.

Yaron agreed that it is not proper to endulge French or any other farmers. This is form of central planning and Yaron believes that plannning creates unwelcome distortions in every area that it is attempted. Recalling his knowledge of US food markets he mentioned subsidies to leave land uncultivated (not unheard of here) and bio-fuels subsidies that raise the price of corn globally. He went on to repeat his observation that there are so many state interventions in various markets that it is difficult to clearly observe the effects, but he said that if you look at the areas where the state has kept largely out of the way you see prices come down and quality go up.

Yaron throws in an interesting extra point here, not specifically related to food but related to the price of every good, and that is the effect of regulating banks. Banks, he says, are the engine of the economy (I assume he refers to their heterarchical, and therefore free, role in allocating capital to where it is most productive – something Yaron has spoken about before). This drop in productivity is a cost that is passed on to all of us.

Kristian picks up on a passing remark Yaron made about the lack of a parrallel universe to demonstrate what he is arguing. Kristian refers to the recent deregualtion of agriculture in Australia and New Zealand as an example of market mechanisms restoring the productivity of the economy in a previously regulated sector. The panel appreciated that this was largely reponsible for the flood of good wine from those countries.

Returning to Dr Rotherham, I ask him what can be done to solve the problems that have been talked about. Lee was skeptical that this would be possible without a fundamental change to the nature of the EU treaties. Returning to the “Hobbits” he mentions that farmers in New Zealand are now so persuaded that the market-liberal approach is the right one that they are advocating in favour of the policy, having seen only small numbers of farms getting into difficulty at the end of their subsidy system.

Lee concluding by describing some of the flaws of the CAP, with subsidies flowing to golf clubs and airports and inner London councils rather than to farmers. He said that despite those flaws, if you kept the same system but ran it nationally you would still be £5 billion better off – that’s becuase the CAP is costing UK tax payers money and is sending that money abroad. For him this highlights the ethics of the situation which is that there are much better cases of marginal businesses offering social value in the UK and we ought to focus, if we are to have a CAP, on helping them.

That would certainly be a step in the right direction.

The spoilt ballot strategy in practice

So I decided to vote None of The Above in the European Elections today — but I included a little note.

None-Of-The-Above-May2014For those of you who struggled like me with what was the best move to promote individual freedom I hope you think this was a reasonable approach. It was the best I could come up with that balanced democratic participation, the values of freedom and opposition to the EU.

The note read…

“To whom it may concern,

In today’s European elections I have decided to spoil my ballot paper and vote None of The Above. I think it both appropriate and in the democratic spirit that I explain my action in a few short sentences.

To be clear I thoroughly oppose the EU. I believe it to be a despicable institution that is anti-democratic, corporatist in outlook and has totalitarian tendencies. I truly hope that one day the buildings it inhabits across the globe stand as empty monuments to mankind’s arrogance and folly.

As a man who holds these views it may seem natural for me to vote for a party such as UKIP. While I have considered this option and believe that Nigel Farage is a decent, honourable and freedom loving man I cannot bring myself to do this. UKIP are a party with very misguided views on immigration. And as someone with many friends and loved ones of foreign birth I believe it would be a great injustice on my part to vote for such a party.

These are the reasons I spoil my ballot paper.

Yours faithfully,

A freedom loving individual

There’s no need to separate our rubbish by hand

© Intel Free Press

© Intel Free Press

Turning the whole of Europe into a recycling society is a bit like building the Pyramids. It’s a worthy and ambitious aim, but very expensive unless you use slave labour along the way.

In May I will be voting for the candidate that ends this nonsense, or spoiling my ballot by scribbling a rude note across it’s face. Given the level of slave labour required of my household, it is the only issue on which I will vote in the locals.

Blocking EU cookie popups

I really hate the new wave of web annoyances – EU cookie popups – those little “warnings” that tell you that the server you clicked to look at is looking back at you. Hot headed privacy campaigners have had limited success  but have succeeded in turning a non-issue into a mandatory campaigning platform for propagandising their pet-peeve in a very in-your-face way. Fortunately, an open source developer named Ravi Kotecha, whose face seems very familiar, and blogger David Thorp have given me exactly what I wanted, and  conspired to stick two fingers up at the EU and hot headed campaigners by blocking the the pop-ups using Ad Block Plus, like any other common web-pest.

Well done to both of them. Now time to give it a try!


The stupid cookie law is dead at last

The ICO has announced that their own use of cookies is reverting to 2009, with a bigger warning. Thank god the holier than thou Information Commissioner has realised that reality it what it is, unless you can invent something better, and accepted common sense.

Silk Tide write:

The Information Commissioner’s Office – who for brevity I’ll call Fickle the Clown – says they’re doing this “so that we can get reliable information to make our website better”. They’ve changed their mind because “many more people are [now] aware of cookies”.

In future Fickle will use a banner to tell their visitors that by visiting their website they consent to the use of cookies, and they’ll link to a page explaining what cookies are and how to disable them in your browser. So exactly what websites were doing in 2009, except in a bigger font.

Click through for more info graphics. Worth every moment.


Tech: EU Holding Disabled Rights Hostage For New ACTA

Despite it having been a slow news day, the European Union can always be counted on as a beacon of hope to bureaucrats and dictators everywhere on how to destroy civil liberties.

EU Holding Disabled Rights Hostage For New ACTA

Proving that there are no depths to which the European Union won’t happily sink, passage of the ‘Treaty for the Visually Impaired’ has been blocked by EU negotiators in Geneva this week. The treaty would have led to copyright exceptions allowing the non profit development of tools necessary for the disabled, including both the blind and deaf to consume content that they are currently unable to do so. Instead, the EU is now holding the exceptions hostage and is attempting to demand what look to be copies of sections of ACTA be included in the treaty. According to the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue blog,

…members of the European Blind Union will attend the [next] meeting with black pirate flags and one pirate patch over each eye.

Nintendo Investigation Reveals Child Labour Used At Foxconn

After unconfirmed reports of children present at factories owned by the now infamous Foxconn, Nintendo launched an investigation into it’s manufacturers operations. Whiles interns were known and publicly working at Foxconn, the report found them also working on factory floors, against the corporations own policies.

1. EU Holding Disabled Rights Hostage For New ACTA: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121020/23344420778/eu-us-negotiators-looking-to-hold-blind-deaf-access-rights-hostage-to-get-new-actasopa.shtml
2. Nintendo Investigation Reveals Child Labour Used At Foxconn: http://kotaku.com/5954397/the-result-of-nintendos-investigation-into-underage-foxconn-workers