Articles Archive

Brexit and the Last Great Injustice

When the IMF and the OECD concede that the global economy is out of control, we know our world is in serious trouble. The economic crisis is compounded by political paralysis. A new paradigm, or world-view, is needed. Britain now has the historic opportunity to take the lead in charting a new pathway into the future as it negotiates its exit from the European Union.

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France and the failure of Statecraft

The terrible atrocities being inflicted on the citizens of France are said to stem, in part, from the failure to integrate Muslim migrants into society. There is a more general explanation, however. At its heart, France is an intrinsically unstable state. Understanding the cause of the instability could lead to the improvement of governance in […]

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Do we need a Clean Slate Proclamation?

Some questions ought to be admissible at all times in an open society. Humans are an inquisitive animal: in evolutionary terms, it is what got us from there to here. But there are two categories of questions. The awkward questions point us in the direction of qualitative change, of evolutionary progress. And then there are the pointless questions, the ones we ask when we do not really want to know the answers. Those questions are camouflage, to deceive ourselves while pretending that we really do want to act constructively, when that is the last thing we actually want to do.

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Scotland’s Bank-backed Land Grab

There is an almost universal belief by farmers that high land prices are beneficial to farming. I contend that high land prices are a curse on farming. I do not deny that some landowning farmers become very rich from high prices, but only when they sell. Most of them make more money from selling their farms than they did throughout the time they were farming. There is a clear distinction between what is beneficial to a few farmers and what might be beneficial to farming in general and especially to those who want to farm but have no land.

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Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

Civil wars sometimes fade away from exhaustion and sometimes they end through a peace agreement. The bloodletting in Bosnia in the early 1990s ended with the Dayton Accords of 1995. Nobody heard much about Bosnia thereafter until February of 2014 when widespread protests erupted across the country. It quickly became clear to outside observers that the armed conflict of twenty years ago had continued in the form of economic warfare against the citizens of Bosnia.

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Secret of the Economic Sponge

Politicians cannot be trusted: they do not keep their promises. That mantra is deployed to justify the apathy displayed at times of general elections. But the corrosive effect of that popular assessment is once again driving the rise of extremist political parties in Europe. The deep-seated cynicism is understandable, but it is corroding the foundations of the democratic process. What makes this crisis tragic is that both the voting public and the politicians seeking a mandate to govern are victims of a willful blindness in the theory of economics.

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A Kingdom fit for Charles III?

Prince Charles believes that he has a clear vision for his future kingdom. He has certainly mastered the pop mantras, such as: sustainability, human scale communities, respect for people of all faiths. But there is a flaw in his thinking: he wants to tag his vision onto the culture of greed. The physical embodiment of his hybrid community is annexed to Dumfries House in Scotland.

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Naming the Value of our Civilisation

Ideas are windows through which a mind sees. But an idea can be obscured. We easily confuse the finger marks on the misted pane with the reality beyond. So it is with the idea of “the value of land”. Clearly understood, it reveals a remarkable world. While there are those who would like us not to see that world, it is mostly lost because of a habit of thinking and speaking that has been insufficiently challenged. There is also a horror that for thousands of years has run around the world causing mayhem and suffering. It began with the first pre-neolithic claims by the powerful to personal dominion over the greatest resource, primary for all living things – land. It has run through the endless violent conquests every people experienced, through to the modern Enclosures, the planting of the American flag on the moon, and on to the present time, of miners, loggers, and landless poor driving to death the last tribes in the Amazon rain forest.

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Taxation: it’s not Conspiracy. It’s Cowardice

Conspiracy theory is the lazy way to explain political puzzles. And it lets the villains off the hook. That’s the case with the failure of politicians to reform the public’s finances. The explanation is simple: politicians won’t make the changes that would make everyone better off because they are cowards. How else can we explain what happened when an eminent economist wrote three reports for the British government? Two of them were published with official fanfare. His report on taxation was buried.

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Principles for a New Social Contract

The manifestation of evil in Europe in the 20th century began and ended with events in Bosnia. An assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War 1. And after the fall of the Soviet empire, the people of Bosnia endured genocide. Today, Bosnia-Herzegovina (B-H) is a fractured territory whose peoples need policies that integrate them into a stable social system. This essay describes the financial principles that would deliver economic prosperity and social harmony. New policies must deliver on two needs:

-acceptance that the political system treats every citizen equally and fairly, and respects ethnic and cultural diversity; and

-economic growth that is not disrupted by the systemic failures which continue to create mass unemployment in market economies.

The cornerstone of the new financial model is technically called “economic rent”. Because of intense opposition to reform by the privileged elites, adoption of the necessary tax reforms is not the easy option. Could the People’s Plenums that have emerged in towns throughout B-H override the opposition of the political elites?

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