The Mafia has gone Green too

This from the Financial Times:

“Anti-Mafia magistrates in Sicily have opened a sweeping investigation into the wind power sector where local officials, entrepreneurs and crime gangs are suspected of collusion in the construction of lucrative wind farms before their eventual sale to multinational companies.

Italian and EU subsidies for the building of wind farms and the world’s highest guaranteed rates, €180 ($240, £160) per kwh, for the electricity they produce have turned southern Italy into a highly attractive market exploited by organised crime.

An earlier investigation into a case near Trapani in western Sicily resulted in eight arrests in February, leading to accusations of a suspected nexus between a leading Mafia family that offered money and votes in exchange for permits to construct wind farms.”

I am not sure what is illegal here but the Mafiais going to be in trouble for this. It seems that they are just trying to get on the good side of local officials and get these windmills put in place. Now of course if they are using force to get people to give their property or whatever over to them then that would be bad. All I see is that they gave money and votes in exchange for the permits. In the United States, we call this rent-seeking.

My favorite sentence of all:” Sicily’s Cosa Nostrais evolving and finding new business opportunities, including the renewable energy sector…”

The rest is here.


Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Marxist of the Week: Green Advisor Johathon Porritt

This from TimesOnline:

“JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.

Porritt’s call will come at this week’s annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron.

The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably.

Porritt said: “Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure.

“Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.”

Population growth is one of the most politically sensitive environmental problems. The issues it raises, including religion, culture and immigration policy, have proved too toxic for most green groups.”

How exactly does he plan on reducing the population? The easier way would be to nuke or install the economic plan of collectivization and let them starve. Since he is so into efficiency, is this going to be how he wants to do it.

This is just flat out wrong. It is true that the more people we have the worse the environment is? Some people may think so but what they are not thinking about is how many new minds and new geniuses are being born. These people could very much be the person who invents something that solves this problem. The impact of the marginal person is very small on the environment but big on innovation, which doesn’t even include the fact that nobody knows the optimal amount of population. Thomas Malthus believed what this guy believes but we seem to be doing find three hundred years later!



The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

This Video of the Day is from Daniel Hanna MEP:


Don’t endanger free markets, Czech president warns

The Article of the Day from Reuters:

NEW YORK, March 9 (Reuters) – Massive government spending and tighter regulation would prolong recession, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday, as he urged U.S. President Barack Obama not to endanger the free market economy in his response to the financial crisis.

In a speech at Columbia University in New York, Klaus, a former Czech prime minister who championed the free market after the fall of Communism 20 years ago, said he never expected to see such extensive government intervention again in his lifetime as he now sees around the world. “I am therefore convinced that fighting for freedom and free markets, something we always appreciated here in this country (the United States), remains the task of the day,” Klaus said. One of the world’s most vocal climate change skeptics, Klaus said he looked forward to working with Obama, who will attend an EU-U.S. summit in the Czech Republic in April on his first trip to Europe as U.S. president. The Czech Republic holds the EU presidency for the first half of 2009.

Klaus, whose position is largely ceremonial in the Czech political system, said he hoped Obama would show “an optimum mix of continuity and discontinuity” with the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush. “I hope it will include not endangering the basic institutions of the market economy,” Klaus said, adding that his own country was resisting a trend towards massive government spending to stimulate growth. He said Czech banks were so far relatively unscathed by the financial crisis because they followed very cautious policies in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.

He cautioned against trying to solve economic problems by more government intervention. “The best thing to do right now would be to temporarily weaken, if not repeal,” business regulations on labor, the environment, social issues and health, he said. Klaus, who has written a book expressing doubts that climate change is man-made, was in New York to attend a conference of climate-change skeptics and he reiterated his view that “global warming alarmism” is a major problem. About 190 nations have agreed to work out a new U.N. climate treaty in December in Copenhagen to step up a fight against warming that the U.N. Climate Panel says will bring more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising seas.


Smithian Market: Pay A Website to do your Kids Math!

Smithian Market means that this is a time when the invisible hand guides market behavior in unexpected ways.

This story comes from France via Reuters:

“You can’t do it? We’re here to help,” says the homepage of a new French website where children can pay for older students to do homework for them.

On (, children will be able to buy answers to simple maths problems for 5 euros ($6), while a full end-of-year presentation complete with slides and speaking notes will cost 80 euros ($100).

“I realized there was a gap in the market. Add to that a dose of insolence, a zest of arrogance and the internet, and you have,” he said.”

Of course, the French teachers are outraged because it defeats the purpose of education. Now do not get me wrong, I completely agree that it is useless. At the same time, it is the kid that truly loses  here, so it should not be banned. Parents should just make wise decisions for their kids.

The rest is here.


Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Can A Town Be Too Green?

solarpanelroofAccording to the International Herald Tribune citizens in the German town of Marburg are beginning to wonder “can a town be too green” as legislation was passed forcing them to install solar panels on any new home or existing home that is receiving renovations. Many citizens believe this to be an infringement on personal property rights saying that the government has no right to force them to purchase solar panels.

This response raises the question of how truly efficient are these panels if the public is being forced to adopt them into their daily lives. Basic economics states that anytime the benefits out weigh the cost of a particular good then that good will be willingly attained by the general public.  Now going back to the solar panels, if the panels are so great at saving people money on their utility bills then why have they not already been brought into wide spread use? This could be for a number of reasons. One reason could be that consumers believe that the current solar panel is not worth is price and that it must become more efficient to meet public standards.  But if governments are forcing their citizens to adopt the current technology the solar panel companies will have no incentive to innovate and develop newer technologies because they are not at the hands of the free market which forces companies to be innovative.

Along with putting solar panels on every new house the Marburg government also decided that any old house receiving renovations would also have to install these new panels. This in turn has caused many citizens to halt their plans of renovation because of the extra cost of installing a solar panel system. So instead of receiving the must need renovations many old houses sit wasting  heat and energy through their uninsulated roofs and walls making this law entirely counter productive. Instead of cutting the amount of energy needed to heat older homes the amount has now increased because home owners can no longer afford to fix these problems.

This helps show that even on the topic of saving the environment and going green the government is able to turn the project entirely counter productive and make its citizens worse off then before. For a society to become productive the government must allow the free market to act as a quality control and direct goods to where they are most valued instead of creating laws trying to do just that.


Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Goodbye Unions, Hello Socialism?

As with every market swing, everyone turns their back on Capitalism without ever believing that it was the government that messed up the market. This is somewhat like an Atheist blaming god for his misfortunes. The reason why I use the title Atheist because there are very few people who believe in Capitalism and even fewer who understand it. Anyone who blames Capitalism, calls on things like greed for the reason for this downturn. The problem with that line of thinking is that there is no greed button and someone didn’t just turn it on. So even though people will continue to turn their backs upon Capitalism there are some positives to a downturn for us Capitalists. This one in particular is coming from France via  International Herald Tribune:

“Today, with the global economy once again in a tailspin, European workers have remained conspicuously quiet. Germany’s most powerful union, IG Metall, reached a modest wage deal with employers in record time last month, avoiding crippling strikes and reflecting, perhaps, a national predilection for caution. Yet even in France, where there have been scattered protests over factory closings and job cuts, there is little evidence of a unified labor reaction. Tellingly, efforts by the CGT to organize a nationwide protest before Christmas have fizzled, prompting union leaders to postpone the initiative until next year.”

This is likely because they are learning from their Detroit counterparts. It makes no different how much you demand and how much you strike, if there is no company able to afford you. You end up being much worse off than you were. There is more and more global competition which makes it easier for a factory in France to move somewhere else. So raise hell unions because your days are numbered.

Socialism cannot live without Capitalism and the richer people get the more Socialist they become. But Socialism is not cheap and as social programs grow so do taxes and inflation. We can only hope our new President Barack Obama will refrain from all of his Socialism rhetoric and shrink the size of government. If he chooses the opposite our days as a wealthy nation are numbered.


Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Strategic Embargo in Perspective

Once and a while I like to take a journal article that I came across and analyze it and discuss it for everyone to be able to read about. Lately, I have done research on embargoes and the current journal article that I am going over is “Strategic Embargo in Perspective” by J. Wilczynski published in the Soviet Studies Vol. 19, No. 1.

To begin, this paper focuses on the Soviet Bloc and the use of embargoes. Now this paper was written in 1967 so it is trying to evaluate the current situation. As we know the U.S. embargoed Berlin in 1948 and we are still embargoing Cuba to this day. It was believed that the embargoes were going to hurt their economies more than the U.S.’s because our economy was far superior. They believed the Soviet Bloc needed western goods in order to better there living standards and keep their control.

The U.S. tried to look at the Soviet Bloc vulnerability in trying to decide if this would work. Some of these were looking at natural resources, economic structure, and patterns of trade. So the true question is what was the effect of this embargo?

It was found that between 1947 and 1953 the Soviet Bloc imports from capitalist countries fell from $900m to $450m. Capitalist countries went from importing 25% from these Soviet countries to 7%. The author then makes the claim that the imports are more important to the Soviet Bloc than to Capitalistic nations. The problem with measuring this, he claims, is that the east and west did not trade that much before this. Before the Cold War it was about 4.5% of the world’s trade.

He also goes on to explain that a large bloc of countries can be less vulnerable than a single country. As I believe this to be more true than false it depends upon the bloc of countries. It would be different if Mexico, USA, and Canada was a bloc then say France, Belgium and Spain. He then brings up an important point in which an embargo will cause the main country like China or the USSR to gain more power as the surrounding countries would become more dependent on them. He also explains that a problem is to get all the capitalist countries to stick to the same principles. They often try to deal with different priorities or abandon the embargo all together.

So after reading this summary of this journal article, you might be asking why did I write about this at all? This is because we constantly put economic sanctions on countries when they do not do what we want. We tried that in the Soviet Union but after a while we started to trade with them. It was partly due to trade that began to open up to the Soviet Union.

I believe that countries trading with each other is good for peace. It is very hard for someone to want to shoot their customers. At the same time, people who trade will trade ideas. It is most important to remember that this is usually private companies trading with private companies. In some cases they are state owned but you are still dealing with an individual. If we choose to embargo a country, you only hurt yourself the same if not more than the other country. You and that country will then scramble to substitute resources.

Should we remove the embargo with Cuba? I think it is time. We thought that after the USSR failed and was no longer the support system for Cuba, that it too would fail. We were wrong so we should try to spread peace through trade.


Published in: on December 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Separation of Church and State: France

This is from my dear friend who is spending some time in France studying the language:

“This came up in class the other day and it stirred up a lot of different thoughts, so here goes—-

“La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale.”
TRANSLATION: France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic.
Article 1 of the French constitution, and the French pride themselves on guarding those traits.
Secularism?  The concept of laïcité was OFFICIALLY instated in 1905 when separation of church and state became viable by law.  Since then, the French have been doing their part on “strictly” upholding this secularism.  But, I think they’re just kidding themselves.
Per Constantine I, the French have adopted the Roman doctrine of refraining from work on Sundays.  But, they’ve taken it one step further than Ole’ Const’ by making it AGAINST THE LAW for businesses to open on Sundays.  The law.  Why?  Why because Sunday is the “Lord’s Day.”  It is holy and it must be respected (you are evil and you must be destroyed).  Apart from markets, Sunday is best identified in my mind by the constant chiming of the church and cathedral bells.  Everything is closed, grocery stores, government buildings, public libraries…school libraries…
Museums stay open, as do SOME cafés around touristic hubs… which is interesting, but it’s probably because they would face so many losses if they shut down.  What would the tourists do?
Case numero dos: Same sex couples do not have the right to get married.  Wait…it’s not that they don’t have the right… it’s that there’s a LAW stating that it is illegal for them to get married.  There is no such thing as domestic partnership either (ie, civil unions).  The reasoning:  the church does not support same-sex unions; ergo, no ceremony for two people of the same sex.  ergo.  OK.  Then go through this “secular” state.  No can do.  The state will not perform unions for homosexual couples.  Why?  Although secular, France still has Christian roots and healthy ties with its religious commissaries.  They don’t want no trouble with the big guy upstairs… (more…)

Published in: on November 30, 2008 at 7:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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British Nanny State: Happy Hour Ban

This from USA Today:

“LONDON (AP) — Britain is considering a ban on “happy hour” discounts at bars and restaurants to curb drinking, a spokesman said Saturday, as health advocates warned that a rise in liver-related deaths among young people may signal a future epidemic.

Health officials will decide on whether to ban the happy hours — designated times for discount drinks — once an independent policy review is published in coming weeks, a health department spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.

The proposal was one of several aimed at stemming a trend in binge drinking in recent years, particularly among teenagers and young adults. The government also plans to spend $15 million on a new public awareness campaign, and wants to improve enforcement of laws against underage drinking.”

It is obvious that the government of Britain believes people are unable to take care of themselves. They are going to choose to infringe upon businesses and competition because they claim it will save lives. What will more than likely happen is people will just choose to drink at home. Not to mention, that this will be very hard to enforce. If a waitress forgets to charge you for a drink, will the British police bust in and arrest her?

Who else benefits? The government through tax revenue. Higher prices means higher taxes which means higher revenues. They are probably doing this to offset drinking costs to their health care system. Maybe if they have private health care, people would be more cautious of the amount they drink.

The rest is here.


Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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