Unite on this and swivel

by Daniel on August 2, 2005

It appears that John was entirely right to be suspicious of the “Unite Against Terror” campaign. Just a few weeks after collecting signatures, signatories might be interested to know that your name is apparently to be used for a campaign against the BBC for apparently not “framing” the debate in a suitably congenial way.

The question of whether the BBC was right or wrong on this issue is irrelevant here. I didn’t watch the BBC tonight so I can’t say whether they were or they weren’t. The facts are though, that this was ostensibly the “Unite Against Terror” petition, not “Unite Against People Who We Consider To Be Insufficiently Cooperative In The War On Terror”. Anyone who has no particular views about BBC bias, but who out of goodwill and solidarity signed up to a nonspecific statement of opposition to terrorism in the belief that the people behind UAT[1] had too many scruples to start using them for an entirely unrelated political agenda, has the right to be bloody angry at this little shenanigan. I for one am glad I didn’t. My own reasons for not signing UAT were rather more visceral than John’s and are summarised below the fold, in literary form

Update: Alan Johnson has now removed the “News and Forums” section from the UAT website. I have to say that in general he has behaved really rather well about the whole thing.

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A nice round figure

by John Q on August 2, 2005

According the Bureau of Economic Analysis, US household saving was 0.0 per cent of income in June. I was going to boast that we in Australia were going one better, having had negative savings for several years now, but a check over at General Glut’s Globblog informs me that the ABS figure deducts depreciation of privately owned housing (correctly in my view) while the US does not. Both measures omit capital gains, and the validity or otherwise of doing so is central to any assessment of the sustainability of the present economic trajectory.

Regardless of this, the collapse of household saving in the English countries suggests to me that, with deregulated capital markets, the low real interest rates that have prevailed recently, particularly in the US, are not consistent with any significantly positive savings rate. It follows that such low interest rates can be sustained only so long as someone else is saving: either households without easy access to credit or foreign governments. Business may save some of the time, but low interest rates make borrowing for speculative investment quite attractive I can’t see this lasting too long, and therefore conclude that real interest rates have to rise.

Rememberance of Things Past…ish

by Harry on August 2, 2005

I had a fleeting moment of deep joy the other day. Dsquared had mentioned the RCP (this being the British RCP, not the butt of Scott McLemee’s jokes) in some comments thread, and, via the Virtual Stoa, I saw that spiked-online are described as British Conservatives at What is Liberalism?

The RCP was, for a while, the coolest group on the left. They were so cool that people like me couldn’t even speak to them. They wore clothes that even I could see were hip as hip could be. They were all tall, and dark, and good-looking. They were also articulate (all, I gather now, having been to the University of Kent — scroll down), and there was a rumour that the SWP had banned its members from attending RCP events, for fear of losing grips on them. The group is now defunct not, as with so many others, because it collapsed, but because it members became converted to the joys of capitalism en masse, and created a journal called Living Marxism (devoted to promoting libertarian capitalism and downplaying the atrocities of the Milosevic regime), the descendent of which is spiked-online.

Anyway, I digress. Why the deep joy?

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New Rousseau Association website

by Chris Bertram on August 2, 2005

The “Rousseau Association/Association Rousseau”:http://www.rousseauassociation.org/default.htm , which is a very fine bunch of scholars and a nice crowd of human beings, has “a new website”:http://www.rousseauassociation.org/default.htm thanks to Zev Trachtenberg at the University of Oklahoma. It is still in development but when finished it should be an important resource and marks a distinct improvement on the last version. Visitors can dowload works by Rousseau, follow links to other sites of interest, browse a selection of images and even “listen to some of the music”:http://www.rousseauassociation.org/aboutRousseau/musicalWorks.htm Jean-Jacques composed. (Full disclosure, I’m currently VP of the Association.)