Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Charles Moore is half right

Margaret Thatcher's biographer Charles Moore seems to have got himself in quite a muddle:
It has taken me more than 30 years as a journalist to ask myself this question, but this week I find that I must: is the Left right after all? You see, one of the great arguments of the Left is that what the Right calls “the free market” is actually a set-up.

The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons and other moguls who run and own everything.
And when the banks that look after our money take it away, lose it and then, because of government guarantee, are not punished themselves, something much worse happens. It turns out – as the Left always claims – that a system purporting to advance the many has been perverted in order to enrich the few. The global banking system is an adventure playground for the participants, complete with spongy, health-and-safety approved flooring so that they bounce when they fall off. The role of the rest of us is simply to pay.

This column’s mantra about the credit crunch is that Everything Is Different Now. One thing that is different is that people in general have lost faith in the free-market, Western, democratic order. They have not yet, thank God, transferred their faith, as they did in the 1930s, to totalitarianism. They merely feel gloomy and suspicious. But they ask the simple question, “What's in it for me?”, and they do not hear a good answer.
I replied:
You're half way there, Mr Moore, but you seem to have been confused by the same false assumptions as the Left.

Big Business thrives on Big Government.

If it is true that "people in general have lost faith in the free-market, Western, democratic order", then it is up to people like you to point out that both our democracy and our economic freedom are severely limited.

We have not lived in a golden age of capitalism, which has shown up its inherent faults. We've never had a properly free market.

A truly capitalist society would not have interest rates set by a bunch of central planners, and it certainly wouldn't bail out banks.

What we've seen is a failure of corporatism, not capitalism. It's time we gave true capitalism a try.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Is it wrong to be right?

The BBC's coverage of the recent tragedy in Norway sent me into a bit of a Twitter frenzy.

First on Saturday's BBC Breakfast, and then on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show, they took obvious delight in the opportunity to denounce 'right wing terrorism'.

As I asked in one of my early tweets,
What do Anders Behring Breivik, Margaret Thatcher, and have in common?
Answer: according to the BBC, all are 'right wing'.

I've written about this before, but it seems like one of those points I'll have to return to again and again. Thankfully, bloggers with a much bigger readership than mine are on the case ...

Echoing one of my Sunday morning tweets, Tom Paine noted
It's Christmas for the left-liberal consensus. They are still in their glee from the undoubted success of their suspiciously Campbell-esque campaign against News International. They are still earnestly blabbering over state-dominated airwaves, without a hint of irony, about the supposed 'dominance' of a private company struggling to compete with the funded-by-force BBC. A Norwegian nutjob has now made them an even greater gift. Watching the Andrew Marr and Murnaghan shows this morning (and wondering as usual why the Conservatives are as little in evidence as they were in opposition) their delight was manifest.
The BBC held out for mere seconds before dropping the 'extreme' from 'extreme right wing.' Compare and contrast with the way they never describe socialist violence as any kind of left wing but wrap it in the false black flag of 'anarchism'.
Today Norman Tebbit wrote an excellent article condemning the coverage by our tax-funded broadcaster:

As for the BBC, I am not in the least surprised that it has denounced Anders Behring Breivik as – yes, you’ve guessed it – an extreme Right-winger. After all, Left-wingers like the Baader Meinhof gang don’t kill people, do they? There was time, too, for a bit of Christian-bashing and not too much thought about the doctrines of Christianity. Then Breivik’s views on Islam (similar to Prime Minister Putin’s views on Chechnya) and those on immigration (shared by Pol Pot and Mao) were used to fit him up as a Nazi and therefore an extreme Right-winger. The only bit missing from the charge sheet is that we do not know if he was a climate change denier and, like Tony Benn, a critic of the European Union.

On Sunday evening the BBC even dug up a psychiatrist to say that Breivik was perfectly aware of what he was doing and it was all about leading a Right-wing, conservative revolution. It makes one wonder what the Corporation might have made of it all but for its statutory duty of impartiality.

Cranmer, too, offered a useful perspective:
Just a few months ago the right-wing Freedom Association and Norris McWhirter were caricatured by the BBC as fascists and neo-Nazis, and even Margaret Thatcher’s official biographer Charles Moore now asserts that Right is wrong. International Development Minister Alan Duncan equates socially-conservative, right-wing Tories with the Taliban; the co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi has had a swipe at the Right; and David Cameron isn’t averse to talking about ‘right-wing extremists’; a ‘right-wing fascist party’; ‘far right groups’ and ‘the hard right’.

The subliminal message is inescapable: ‘Left is good; Right is bad’, because right-wing beliefs breed right-wing philosophy which spawns right-wing extremism which is malignant. Ergo, those who tend towards the political Right must be subject to state surveillance.

And so we arrive at the unquestionable BBC state orthodoxy and narrative of enlightenment. It is ‘spin’, but of such an Orwellian subliminal manipulation of the vernacular that any contrary utterance strikes a chord of jarring dissonance, and the speaker or writer is cast into political, social or spiritual oblivion. Norman Tebbit, Simon Heffer, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Daniel Hannan, Peter Hitchens, John Redwood, Melanie Phillips, The Freedom Association... These are the new ‘fascists’ of the Right; they exist at the periphery of social acceptability, while the fascistic tendencies of those left-wing groups which seek to intimidate and silence any reasoned protest against socially-liberal, ecumenical, europhiliac multiculturalism are completely ignored.
All are well worth reading in full.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Superstate ahoy

Phillip Bagus, author of The Tragedy of the Euro, has written a couple of great articles recently on the European government debt crisis.

On the 28th of June, in an article for the IEA, he asked:
Why doesn’t Greece simply default and leave the euro as so many Greek protestors demand on the streets of Athens?
His answer:
The monetary setup of the Euro leads to redistribution in favour of more profligate governments residing mainly in the south of Europe.
The Greek economy with wage rates that are too high is no competition to innovative German industry enjoying moderate wage increases.

The result of these artificially high Greek wages would be poverty and unemployment. These effects, however, are partly counteracted by the profligate spending of the Greek government. To finance the spending, the Greek government simply prints bonds. Transferring new funds to the Greek government, the banking system buys these bonds and uses them as collateral for new loans from the European Central Bank (ECB), which thereby monetises the government deficit. The Greek government uses the new money to pay for early retirement schemes, an army of public servants and generous social benefits. The Greek economy’s lack of competitiveness is thereby sustained and increased.

For instance, the Greek government could issue a bond, receive new money and pay a minister. The minister buys a BMW with the new money. As a result prices in the eurozone rise and Greece enjoys a trade deficit with Germany. Greeks live beyond their means financed by the issuing of government bonds and the production of new money. Cars flow into Greece in exchange for new euros and debt promises. Europeans from fiscally more responsible states pay the bill in form of higher price inflation and since 2010 in form of direct guarantees for subsidised loans to the over-indebted Greek government. As the Greek government benefits from the euro, it does not want to default and leave the eurozone despite the riots in the streets.
I recommend the whole article.

In an article this morning for The Cobden Centre, Bagus considers the latest bailout package agreed by the Eurocrats:
The transfer union implies a transfer of power to the European Commission. We get ever closer to a European superstate. Incentives to reduce deficits will be reduced both in the periphery and in the core. Germans will start to resist cuts in public spending. Why save if the savings flow to the periphery? Instead of reducing German pensions to guarantee Greek pensions, German voters will push for more public spending. To pay for welfare states and transfers, more taxes (maybe a European tax) and money production will become necessary. The centralization of power allows for harmonization of regulations and taxes. Once tax competition ends, there will be a tendency towards ever higher taxes. With the transfers, the power of Brussels will continue to rise. There seems to be only one bold, albeit costly way, to stop the process towards a EUSSR: withdrawal from the transfer union. With an exit from the Euro, Germany could bring down the whole Euro project and save Europe.
Again, the whole article is well worth reading.

OSX 10.7 Lion

Yesterday I installed OSX 10.7 "Lion" on my new MacBook Pro.

The 3.5GB download went quickly enough for me on our office network, and the installation process itself was completely pain free. I'm not sure I was asked a single question. Such a change from Microsoft Windows installs of yesteryear, which would chug along for hours before requesting user input, then chug along some more!

First impressions:
  • Inverted scroll takes some getting used to, but it's intuitive enough if you have an iPhone. The correct scroll direction would be more obvious if the mouse cursor turned into a 'grab' icon when you place two fingers on the trackpad (I remember this scrolling mode from old versions of Adobe Acrobat), but they probably decided this would be too ugly.
  • I'm delighted that you can finally resize windows from any corner or side. In typical Jobsian style, there's no clumsy border to suggest that this may be possible, but the mouse cursor changes appropriately on hover. Users have had plenty of time to get used to window-based UIs, so a border really would have been superfluous.
  • Scroll bars are similarly unobtrusive, appearing only when you start to scroll.
  • Mission Control is quite cool, and the three-finger swipe gestures work well (Ctrl+arrow keys achieve the same effect, though annoyingly you have to release and reapply the Ctrl key between going left/right and going up).
  • When you log out, Lion offers to remember your windows. Combined with fast SSD start-up times, this means I might actually shut my laptop down from time to time, rather than leaving it sleeping or hibernating.
  • The iOS-style Launch Pad may be useful for some people, but I don't think it's a vast improvement over having the Applications folder in Grid mode in the Dock. If you have lots of applications, the quickest way to launch them is still to hit Cmd-Space and type the app name in Spotlight.
  • In Safari, a two-finger double tap gives iPhone style smart zoom; probably not enough to get me to move away from Firefox, but I might give Safari another try.
  • Apple Mail is greatly improved. The new layout makes good use of wide screens, and "full screen mode" means you don't need to waste a single pixel. Full screen apps act as their own workspaces, so you can flick between them and the Desktop and Dashboard using the handy three-finger horizontal swipes.
  • Most exciting, though, is Apple Mail's new search mode. As you type arbitrary text in the search box, Mail offers to restrict results according to person, subject, or date ranges. You can specify multiple constraints, and (as with the previous version) you can save these as Smart Mailboxes. Very well thought out.
  • Finder has similar features, so I might finally start using it rather than dipping down to Terminal.app whenever I need to find anything (for the times when the CLI really is the right answer, the 'open' command remains very useful for jumping back to GUI land).

At £20 quid, this upgrade is a bargain. If you have reasonably new hardware, and you aren't reliant on broken Adobe apps, I'd definitely recommend it.


When I wrote
"for the times when the CLI really is the right answer, the 'open' command remains very useful for jumping back to GUI land"
I hadn't actually noticed the folder bar at the top of the new Terminal. Right-clicking on this will let you jump back to Finder quite easily (though I expect I'll continue to use "open ." or "open ..").

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Miss Snuffy on the anti-Tory rich

A good article from Katharine Birbalsingh:

The ongoing battle to set up our free school in Lambeth continues. One of our volunteers goes out into the parks, the market, the sports grounds, telling the locals about our school. The other day, he plopped in front of me. “The thing is, Katharine”, he said, sighing, “You cannot tell with the middle class families. You never know whether they’ll be hostile or supportive. Some take the flyer and smile. High standards of discipline? An ethos built around knowledge-acquisition? Competition? An extended day? They love it and rush home, flyer in hand, to register on the website. But others are aggressive. Even when one explains that free schools are not selective (they are required to follow the admissions code) and they don’t take money away from local schools (they can’t, as schools are funded on a per pupil basis), they growl bitterly: “But free schools are Michael Gove’s idea and he’s a Tory!” To be a Tory is to be evil by definition, and therefore free schools must be wrong.”

My helper winces. “You just can’t tell! Those who read the Telegraph are OK. Those who read the Guardian…” He rolls his eyes. The problem is they all look the same. I laugh. “What about working class families? Do they object?” He shakes his head. “No.” I frown. “Never? Not even once?” He shakes his head vigorously. “NO. Working class families are desperate for another school in Lambeth. They don’t have the luxury of political ideology!”

It sounds entirely plausible to me.

It's as if these people have forgotten that the purpose of schools is to teach.

it is the rich who live in the area who are campaigning to prevent the poor from having a new school. Some actually deliberately obstruct, by taking lots of our flyers and binning them, shouting at us, being verbally abusive, and so on. Things are so upside down that the NUT and SWP would actually prefer that an old school building be sold to a developer to be turned into flats, rather than have it for a free school.

Birbalsingh concludes on a humorous note:

Yesterday, as our volunteer was handing out leaflets to parents outside a primary school, in frustration, he sent me a text. “That’s it! I’m no longer approaching white women on bicycles!” I smiled. A minute later he sent another.

“And the ones wearing helmets! They’re the worst!”

It made me laugh out loud.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Britain's economic suicide

A superb article from The Rational Optimist:
British Gas is putting up the cost of heating and lighting the average home by up to 18 per cent, or about £200 a year. Indignation at its profiteering is understandable. But that can only be a part of the story: the combined profits of the big six energy supply companies amount to less than 1.5 per cent of your energy bill, according to the regulator, Ofgem.

Gas prices have gone up this year mainly because of demand from post-Fukushima Japan and booming China. With energy now a big part of household bills, genuine fuel poverty threatens many Britons next winter.

So what does the Government plan to do? This week it publishes a white paper on electricity market reform that will be predicated upon, indeed proud of, pushing up prices even faster. To meet its self-imposed green targets, the Government’s policy is to tax carbon, fix high prices for renewable electricity and load extra costs on to people’s electricity bills — but without showing them as separate items.
Cheap energy is the elixir of economic growth. It was Newcastle’s cheap coal that gave the industrial revolution its second wind — substituting energy for labour drove up productivity, creating jobs and enriching both producers and consumers. Conversely, a dear-energy policy destroys jobs. Not only does it drive energy-intensive business overseas; according to Charles Hendry, the Energy Minister, the average British medium-sized business will face an annual energy bill £247,000 higher by 2020 thanks to the carbon policy. That’s equivalent to almost ten jobs it must lose, or cannot create.
Raising the costs of electricity to subsidise irrelevant wind farms will fail to make the slightest dent in British carbon emissions, let alone global ones. In any case, natural gas is going to do far more than renewables ever could to accelerate the decarbonisation of the world economy, as it replaces high- carbon coal and oil in coming decades.

So the hijacking of energy policy by carbon targets is mad. Far more urgent questions face us than that. How do we replace the one-third of coal-fired stations that will close by 2015? Not by renewables, that’s for sure. How do we replace the capacity of our nuclear power stations, all but one of which will close by 2023? How do we compete with China, where it takes five years, not 15, to build a nuclear power station? How do we compete with America, where companies are now swimming in cheap domestic natural gas, half the price it is over here, thanks to shale gas exploration?
The only thing that the government's carbon taxes will achieve is the continued destruction of British industry. The demand for these products won't go away, it will simply be met by foreign producers rather than domestic ones. Those who care about carbon emissions should not rejoice: instead of British gas and nuclear power, goods will be produced using Chinese coal, then shipped half way around the world.

I can't begin to describe the lunacy of our government's environmental policy, but Matt Ridley does a pretty good job. I thoroughly recommend the whole article.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

EU fish fiasco

Norman Tebbit writes:
Perhaps following the example set by Rupert Murdoch, Maria Damanaki apologised last week for the damage done by the EU fishing policy, declaring that if it was not radically changed “our children will see fish, not on their plates, but only in pictures”.
another EU disaster rolls on. There will be fewer British fishermen, fewer fish in British waters, higher prices for fish and nothing to stop the Spanish and others from ignoring the rules.

Fish, interference in our system of justice, ever-higher demands for money, a smouldering economic crisis – surely it is time for the political establishment to give up its infatuation with the would-be European Empire.

He concludes:

It is no good William Hague trumpeting that the EU will not in future be allowed to acquire new powers without the consent of the British people given in a referendum. It already has the powers it needs to over ride our Parliament and impose its will on us across a huge swathe of our national life. Why are we still unable to make our own fisheries policies in our own waters?

There is now a need not just to prevent the EU from taking new powers over us, but to take back powers from the EU. That cannot be done by fiddling about with the Treaty of Rome. That needs to be torn up and replaced by a new European Treaty of Co-operation. If Our Masters In Brussels are unwilling to do that, we must exercise our sovereign right to leave the organisation which is dragging down even Germany, let alone the weaker economies, and regain the right to govern ourselves.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Effects and Origins of the Great War

Some time ago I read a brilliant quote that I failed to record, which I've been searching for ever since.

I am very grateful to Philip Johnston, who included it in a recent article:
Before the First World War, as A J P Taylor observed, “a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the State, beyond the post office and the policeman”.
The full passage, from Taylor's The Effects and Origins of the Great War, is as follows:
Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit. He could buy goods from any country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police. Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore, if he chose, the demands of national defence. Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so. The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale: nearly £200 million in 1913-14, or rather less than 8 per cent. of the national income. The state intervened to prevent the citizen from eating adulterated food or contracting certain infectious diseases. It imposed safety rules in factories, and prevented women, and adult males in some industries, from working excessive hours. The state saw to it that children received education up to the age of 13. Since 1 January 1909, it provided a meagre pension for the needy over the age of 70. Since 1911, it helped to insure certain classes of workers against sickness and unemployment. This tendency towards more state action was increasing. Expenditure on the social services had roughly doubled since the Liberals took office in 1905. Still, broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone.

All this was changed by the impact of the Great War. The mass of the people became, for the first time, active citizens. Their lives were shaped by orders from above; they were required to serve the state instead of pursuing exclusively their own affairs. Five million men entered the armed forces, many of them (though a minority) under compulsion. The Englishman's food was limited, and its quality changed, by government order. His freedom of movement was restricted; his conditions of work prescribed. Some industries were reduced or closed, others artificially fostered. The publication of news was fettered. Street lights were dimmed. The sacred freedom of drinking was tampered with: licensed hours were cut down, and the beer watered by order. The very time on the clocks was changed. From 1916 onwards, every Englishman got up an hour earlier in summer than he would otherwise have done, thanks to an act of parliament. The state established a hold over its citizens which, though relaxed in peacetime, was never to be removed and which the second World war was again to increase. The history of the English state and of the English people merged for the first time.
Absolutely superb!

Philip Johnston's article is also well worth reading in its entirety.

Could we win an EU referendum?

From EUReferendum:
A poll released by the Daily Mail shows the public would vote by 50 to 33 percent to leave the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow, "a huge lead of 17 points" says the paper.
This follows an Angus Reid poll that found that 57% of Britons "believe that EU membership has been negative for the United Kingdom".

EUReferendum urge caution:
And so what? In August 1974, a private poll conducted for the Labour Party showed that, should there be a referendum on membership of the Common Market, 50 percent would vote to leave, against 32 percent who would vote to stay in, a "huge" lead of 18 points.

At around the same time, Gallup confirmed these proportions, with a poll coming out at 47-30 percent in favour of leaving, exactly the "huge lead" about which the Mail is crowing. Then, as history will recall, when there was a referendum nearly a year later, 67.2 percent voted to stay in, while those voting to leave had fallen to 32.8 percent – a "huge lead" of over 34 percent.

And therein lies the most important issue in relation to those who call for, or argue for an in/out referendum on the EU. Those who advocate such a course of action must be able to show that a slender majority in favour of withdrawal prior to the event would be able to survive a prolonged sustained attack from the Europhiles, once a campaign had started.
They conclude:
To believe that a referendum is winnable on the basis of a helpful poll showing is self-delusion of the worst kind. And without the evidence and arguments to demonstrate how the UK could benefit from withdrawal from the EU, we would stand to lose any referendum.

Assuming the EU lasts as long, that could set the cause of euroscepticism back a generation. And, with that much at risk, with very little assurance that we could win, one really does wonder about the motivations of some of those who support the idea of a referendum.
As DK puts it *
Back in 2009, I said that we needed at least another five years in the EU—ensuring that the pain is hammered home to the British people—before we might have a chance of winning such a vote.
I have wondered the same, and in my more fanciful moments I have even allowed myself to believe that senior members of the Conservative Party have made this calculation.

But when you see the Coalition running down our armed forces, so that we have to rely on France for aircraft carriers, you have to wonder. It is crucial that we get our referendum at a time that we can win it, but also while we're strong enough to defend ourselves. It is not inconceivable that the European Union will one day show as little respect for our secession as the American Union showed for the self-determination of the Confederate states.

Also, recall that the Angus Reid poll found
Respondents aged 18-to-34 are more likely to express positive feelings about the EU (45%) than those aged 35-to-54 (31%) and those over the age of 55 (22%).
Much may rest on whether people continue to grow Eurosceptic as they grow up. If the indoctrination of our youth has been too successful, time for an exit referendum may be running out.

Our best hope is probably that the EU will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. If it's still going in 2014, it will be very interesting to see what happens in the elections to the European Parliament. If UKIP win a decisive victory, the time may then be right for a referendum (and with just enough time for the Coalition to grant it).

* gratuitous swearing this time confined to a footnote

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trinity Mirror vs News International

Via Tom Paine, I discovered this useful bit of context from Archbishop Cranmer:
His Grace was interested to learn that the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and (Sunday) People are all stabled together under the Trinity Mirror Group, and that the 2006 table of crimes and misdemeanours establishes beyond doubt that Trinity Mirror are actually more corrupt than either News International or the Mail Group. Adding up the total number of incidents of illegally-acquired data by journalists, we arrive at:
Trinity Mirror: 1663 incidents by 139 journalists
Mail Group: 1248 incidents by 95 journalists
News International: 182 incidents by 19 journalists
So, while not excusing the illicit activities of a few News International journalists and possibly their editors, it is important to reflect calmly on the facts and introduce a little sense of proportion into the furore. If Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are not considered by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to be a ‘fit and proper’ people to own and run BSkyB, why is Viscount Rothermere fit to own the Mail Group? Why is Paul Dacre fit to edit the Daily Mail? Why is Ian Gibson fit to be Chairman of Trinity Mirror? And why is the ‘violent and dishonest’ pornographer Richard Desmond deemed sufficiently ‘fit and proper’ to own the Express Group and Channel 5?
Quite (though unlike Cranmer, I don't think there's anything wrong with pornography per se).

As I write, taxpayer-funded Newsnight merrily continues its 'fit and proper' witch hunt.

A taste of EuroNanny

I decided to follow some of the links in the europa.eu article featured in my previous post.

It didn't take long to find something truly astounding ...

Need advice on how to stop yourself from being tempted?

EuroNanny to the rescue:

These ones were pretty special:
Tobacco is expensive!
Whether bought in packs or hand-rolled, cigarettes are expensive and can quickly put young people or even whole families into debt.
Tobacco is a drug!
Tobacco rapidly generates a form of addiction that is very hard to escape. Even the first cigarette, often lit to be part of a group, can be dangerous.
But they save the best for last:
Tobacco is out of fashion!
Young people often associate tobacco with an adolescent form of rebellion against authority. Smoking is also forbidden in many public places and has become an act that now needs to be carried out secretly, in isolation, while clearly knowing the dangers one is exposing oneself to. Smokers can also appear irresponsible, individualistic, and uncaring for those around them.

Individualistic! We certainly can't be having any of that!

A nanny superstate

In my previous post, I noted that our government is unnecessarily illiberal even by EU standards.

Though there are good reasons to resent the restrictions the EU imposes on us today, we should be even more concerned about their plans for the future.

The Eurocrats are in the process of harvesting bad laws from across the continent, and elevating them to the European level.

The smoking ban is a case in point. Here it is, straight from the Eurocrats themselves:

EU countries urged to pass tougher anti-smoking laws.

The commission is calling for an EU-wide ban on smoking in public places by 2012.

Currently all EU countries have regulations of some kind designed to protect people from second-hand smoke and its harmful effects. But the rules vary widely from country to country.

The UK and Ireland have the strictest laws - a complete ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public places, including public restaurants and bars. Bulgaria is due to follow suit in 2010.

Greece, Italy, Malta, Sweden, Latvia, Finland, Slovenia, France and Holland have introduced smoke-free legislation that still allows special enclosed smoking rooms.

The EU is now proposing that uniform laws be drafted for all 27 countries to regulate smoking more strictly in public areas and workplaces.

Second-hand, or passive, smoke has been linked to heart disease and lung cancer. Back in 2002, some 19 000 non-smokers are thought to have died in the EU due to second-hand smoke at home or at work.

Tobacco is the leading avoidable cause of death in the EU, claiming some 650 000 lives a year. One in three Europeans - about 170 million - uses tobacco.

As part of a new anti-smoking campaign, the EU is inviting people to upload videos showing how they kicked the habit. Hundreds have responded and their work can be seen on the campaign website.

For a life without tobacco

Bad laws entrenched at the European level are much harder to repeal. If 51% of MPs wanted to reverse the UK smoking ban, they could do it tomorrow. But if 100% of British MEPs wanted to reverse an EU smoking ban, they wouldn't be anywhere close to a majority in the European Parliament.

British MEPs control just 72 seats out of 736 (9.8%). Even if they were united on an issue, they would need to convince 297 of their European colleagues. For 60 million Britons to re-allow smoking in British pubs, we would need to consult the representatives of 440 million foreign residents, many of whom will never even visit Britain, much less live and work here.

Having sacrificed millions of lives in defence of our centuries-old freedoms, it is astounding that we have surrendered so much sovereignty without a shot being fired.

Not even as free as the EU would allow us to be

Daniel Hannan writes:
If Britain were already outside the EU – if we had had the sense to negotiate a Swiss-style free trade deal – it is hard to imagine many mainstream politicians campaigning to join it. But four decades of membership have created a large corpus of individuals with a stake in the current policy.
For a government to take on all these interests at the same time would, as Anthony Brown argues at ConservativeHome, consume its energies for at least a year. Anthony says he voted Conservative because he wanted tax cuts, deregulation and welfare reform: he could do without the distraction.

The flaw in his argument, of course, is that EU membership stands in the way of domestic reform. The reason that a number of Cabinet ministers are reported to have changed their minds on secession is not that they are obsessed by Europe, but that they have noticed that much of what they do at home is constrained by EU regulation.
I replied:
I'm as Eurosceptic as anyone, but we shouldn't let our government off the hook.

Significant domestic reform is possible despite our EU shackles. A freedom-loving British parliament could:

- abolish most taxes
- simplify those that remain, and minimise the rates
- stop debasing our currency
- relegalise cannabis and magic mushrooms
- restrict non-EU immigration
- stop bailing out banks
- refuse to contribute to the IMF
- stop subsidising wind and solar power
- resist meddling in mergers of private media companies
- stop advertising jobs in The Guardian
- leave the BBC to fend for itself (without compulsory funding)
- end our wars in Afghanistan and Libya
- build up our armed forces for when we really need them
- set "free schools" free (as they did in New Zealand)
- abandon our Soviet-style approach to healthcare
- repeal the smoking ban, and generally stop nannying
- cut the propaganda budget
- balance the budget
- repudiate our national debt
- restore trial by jury
- repeal the vast majority of laws passed since WWII
- focus the police on real crime rather than thought crime

If you're aware of EU directives that prevent any of these reforms, please point me to them.

It could be that once we've radically reduced the size and scope of the British state, and repealed countless unnecessary laws, the EU would ask us to add some things back, but at that point we would have the option of :

a) ignoring them (as the French seem perfectly happy to do)

b) legislating the bare minimum, and enforcing even less

c) making a principled case for withdrawal from the EU

If government ministers are feeling constrained by the EU, they should say this loudly and clearly, rather than quietly surrendering to Sir Humphrey, and they should look for creative solutions to work around the problems in the meantime.

The fact is that our government restricts our freedom far more than the EU requires. Until we see evidence that our government is pushing up against the limits imposed by the EU, there's no reason to believe that an independent Britain would be a free Britain.

If I get a response from Daniel, I'll post an update.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Borrowing to spend on present consumption

Scanning the news this morning, I read that pension funds and insurance companies are to be encouraged to hold more “safe” government bonds. I’m fairly sure this is a dreadful idea.

Government bonds amount to a promise to tax productive activity later. Unlike corporate bonds, they do not represent investment in productive assets but, overwhelmingly, spending on present consumption. Borrowing to fund present consumption is a route to poverty, not prosperity.

If major investors switch from supporting productive investment to present government consumption, we will all become poorer: where will future production come from without investment in it?

Without adding reflections on the present huge size of the state, I think I can safely say that investors should be encouraged to invest in capital goods, the means of production, not present consumption backed by the power to tax.

Which should be the bigger story?

What's worse, hacking somebody's phone, or allowing 25,000 people to die each year from hospital-acquired DVT?

English hospitals face being "named and shamed" for not screening patients for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has said.

NHS trusts are required to screen 90% of hospital patients for the condition.

But fewer than half are managing this, according to the NHS, which estimates 25,000 people die each year from hospital-acquired DVT.

One assessed just one in four patients and another barely one in 10. Sir Bruce said this was "absolutely disgraceful".

"In the sort of NHS that I want to work in and be treated in, I don't think that level of practice is acceptable."

DVT involves blood clotting in the legs and can be fatal if a clot breaks off and travels in the blood up to the lungs and causes a blockage, known as a pulmonary embolism.
"Preventative treatment does reduce almost to zero the incidence of DVT," said John Black, the outgoing president of the Royal College of Surgeons.

"This is the number one clinical priority for me and my colleagues," said Sir Bruce.

"Some 25,000 people die a year from something that is preventable. The same sort of number which die from stroke and other major conditions which are far less preventable."

Mergers and moral high ground

The Register reports:
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is writing to Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading today to seek advice from the regulators over the proposed merger of television broadcaster BSkyB with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire.

The move, reported by the BBC, follows the sudden shuttering of Sunday tabloid the News of the World.

I'm sorry, but WTF? FFS!

Let's get a sense of perspective here ...

From Mark Steyn:
The New York Times has shown an inordinate interest in the demise of Britain’s News Of The World, a newspaper 99.99 percent of Times readers have never read and I’d wager a majority had never heard of until a week ago
One understands, of course, that the Times is rattled by Rupert Murdoch’s revitalization of the Wall Street Journal as a broadsheet with appeal to more than merely the financial world, and so it is in the paper’s interest to pile on Mr. Murdoch. But, even so, this is ridiculous:

In truth, a kind of British Spring is under way, now that the News Corporation’s tidy system of punishment and reward has crumbled. Members of Parliament, no longer fearful of retribution in Mr. Murdoch’s tabloids, are speaking their minds and giving voice to the anger of their constituents. Meanwhile, social media has roamed wild and free across the story, punching a hole in the tiny clubhouse that had been running the country. Democracy, aided by sunlight, has broken out in Britain.

“British Spring” as in Arab Spring? Ruthless tyrant Rupsi Murdaroch forced into exile at Sharm al-Sheila back in Oz? British MPs, no longer “fearful of retribution,” are transformed overnight: Yesterday, they were Claude Rains in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, corrupt toadies doing the bidding of Boss Murdoch. Today, they’re getting in touch with their inner Jimmy Stewart.

As with the Arab Spring, the British Spring can more or less be guaranteed to turn out the opposite of the Times’s sunny predictions. On the whole, I prefer an unrespectable reptilian press sticking its foot in the grieving widow’s doorway to, say, a media of portentous over-credentialed unreadable drones with no greater ambition than to serve as court eunuchs to the Obama administration.
From Tom Paine:

The posh left is triumphant. The people are bamboozled once more by their own sentimentality. A co-ordinated and well-timed plan of attack (judging by the steadiness of the daily leaks) is succeeding.

No-one sees the elephant in the room (the bloated, biased and soon-to-be-even-less-challenged state broadcaster). When people talk of Murdoch owning 40% of the British press, no-one takes any account of Auntie's dominance in forming British opinion.

Once again, the knee-jerk reaction to wrong-doing was not to leave it to the prosecutors. Instead - stupidly - it was to call for even more law. Law that will raise barriers to entry in the media, therefore reducing diversity of ownership and accelerating the decline of the dead tree press. Law that will put a chill on free speech and reduce the newspapers to the same subservience to the liberal elite as the BBC.

From Toby Young:
Now, you might disapprove of some of the ‘dark arts’ that tabloid journalists use — phone hacking, for instance — but if they always played by the rules they’d rarely get the scoop. Some of these stories are trivial and hardly of vital national importance, but others are not. Without the unscrupulous, appalling, ‘shocking’ behaviour of red-top reporters, we probably wouldn’t know about Cecil Parkinson’s infidelity or John Prescott’s affair with his secretary. We wouldn’t know about the match-fixing antics of Pakistani cricketers or the corruption at the heart of Fifa. Yes, the ink-stained wretches regularly desecrate the graves of dead girls, but they also speak truth to power and they do it more often — and with more impact — than the broadsheets.

So by all means condemn the News of the World for its newsroom culture, a culture that encouraged reporters to think it was acceptable to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of an ‘exclusive’. But before you get up on your high horse, remember that without these Fleet Street foot soldiers Britain would be a more corrupt country in which the ruling class could engage in all sorts of nefarious practices with no fear of being caught. Without its tabloid newspapers, Britain would be France.
From James Delingpole:

So, for example, in the case of l’affaire NoW, we have the liberal-left glibly circumventing the need to argue over subtle nuances like whether or not we might benefit from a broadcast media alternative to the pathologically leftist BBC and Channel 4 by tarring anyone who tries to raise these points as the kind of kitten-strangling devil Nazi who thinks tabloids have a God-given right to bug the phone of murdered children and fallen heroes.


No one has a less deserving claim to the moral high ground than the liberal-left, for in the name of making our “society” kinder and fairer it is actually eroding our freedoms, stealing our livelihoods, stoking resentment and social division, destroying our economic future. Yet daily we go on letting these disingenuous bleeding heart scuzzballs get away with it. Why?
So should our government stop the BSkyB takeover, and does this have anything to do with The News of the World?

Tom Paine concludes:

It's no-one's damn business who owns a newspaper. No more than it's anyone's business (but mine) who owns this blog. There is no need to regulate the press at all, beyond the ordinary obligations of all citizens (many of which the British tabloids have clearly broken). There is now no hope however - with cross-party agreement on Labour's impudent motion on Thursday - of avoiding even more regulation. Soon, there will be a frenzied settling of the elite's scores, and we will become less free.

Like him, I despair.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

57% of Britons recognise EU has been bad for UK

From Angus Reid:
The level of animosity towards the European Union (EU) in Britain remains high, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 2,003 British adults, a majority of respondents (57%) believe that EU membership has been negative for the United Kingdom, while only one third (32%) think it has had a positive effect.

Respondents aged 18-to-34 are more likely to express positive feelings about the EU (45%) than those aged 35-to-54 (31%) and those over the age of 55 (22%).

Half of Britons (49%) say they would vote against the United Kingdom remaining a member of the EU if a referendum took place, while only one-in-four (25%) would vote to stay. Older respondents favour the idea of abandoning the EU by a 3-to-1 margin (68% to 19%).

Finally, Britons oppose the notion of the UK adopting the euro as its national currency by a 10-to-1 margin, with 81 per cent of respondents saying they would reject this course of action in a referendum.
Some good news at last!

Nevertheless, we must worry about the responses of 18-to-34 year olds, and fear even more about the indoctrination of those who have yet to reach voting age.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Appley goodness

A very exciting delivery:

First impressions:
  • Unibody aluminium enclosure is as beautiful up close as from afar
  • 1680 x 1050 display is gorgeous
  • SSD makes a noticeable difference to application load times, especially Eclipse
  • 8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 RAM will probably be sufficient
  • 2.2 GHz Quad Core i7 likewise
  • Multi-touch trackpad with inertial scroll and Exposé gestures is very cool
  • It's very annoying that there are no USB ports on the right hand side (my mouse cable only just reaches around)
  • Keyboard looks great, but the spacing means that fn-F1 takes more effort for my stubby little fingers
  • Battery seems quite good (let's hope so, as it can no longer be swapped)
My old MacBook pro has served me well for the last 4 years, but for some reason I never loved it quite as much as the PowerBook that it replaced. Although its Core2 Duo was an order of magnitude faster than the old G4, the build quality wasn't quite the same. The trim around the edges and the cover latch felt cheap, and the aluminium seemed sprayed on rather than real.

Previous MacBook Pro: 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

My first Mac: 1.67 GHz PowerBook G4, 2 GB DDR SDRAM

The new MacBook Pro seems like the perfect blend of power and beauty. I hope it proves as good in day-to-day use as first impressions suggest.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Free press and free markets

Tom Paine is back to blogging with a vengeance, and continues to write great stuff on the News of the World saga.

Earlier this morning, he noted:
News International's share price is falling. But so is that of BSkyB, its acquisition target. The market says - in effect - that the takeover adds value; that BSkyB is better fully owned by Murdoch. That the politicians are about to exact vengeance for years of having to crawl to a man who could only be ethically superior to the likes of them is destroying economic value. That, gentle reader, is what governments do. What the "eevil" Murdoch does is create it. Neither can be trusted, of course, because they are human. But a society that trusts those who destroy more than those who create deserves its fate.
In his latest post, he writes:

I am concerned by the current threat to our free press and glad that the question is being raised in the mainstream media. I am not surprised Andrew Gilligan is prominent among the warning voices. As he points out in the Daily Telegraph;

In my career as a journalist I have lied, I have received stolen goods and for these things I have won two of the top awards in the profession.

Quite. And the Daily Telegraph committed at least one crime to expose the rampant expenses fraud in Westminster. When the hysteria dies down, let it please be remembered that no-one cared about the News of the World hacks hacking phones until they crossed not a legal but a moral boundary. The real danger now is that "the great and the good" (not to mention the self-serving slebs) will screen their wrongdoings for ever from the people's gaze, using the weapon of a sentimental indignation that cannot safely or properly be translated into law.

I recommend the whole article.

Friday, 8 July 2011

How to promote saving

In a written question earlier this week, Westminster's most promising MP asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "what steps he is taking to support existing savers; and what steps he is taking to encourage people to save".

Mr Osborne doesn't tend to reply to these sorts of questions himself, so it fell to an underling, Mark Hoban (Financial Secretary, HM Treasury; Fareham, Conservative) to offer a stock response:

The Government's savings strategy is based on the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility and aims to work with the grain of saving habits. In particular, the Government aim to encourage more lower and middle income households to start to save and save more, especially for the long-term and retirement.

The Government have taken steps to support existing savers and encourage new savers, including:

1. Promoting choice, by providing flexibility to consumers in a competitive market including introducing a Junior ISA, removing the effective requirement to annuitise at age 75 and ensuring transfer on cash ISAs is no more than 15 working days.

2. Promoting fairness by ensuring that saving is appropriately incentivised and rewarded, including introducing automatic enrolment of employees into a pension scheme from next year, reforming the way pensions tax relief is restricted and indexing ISA contribution limits.

3. Promoting personal responsibility within the saving, debt and protection system; so individuals are equipped to exercise effective choice and plan for expected and unexpected events, industry introducing a free and impartial national financial advice service, which includes a Financial Healthcheck delivered by the Money Advice Service, the development of simple financial products, and ensuring reforms to the state pension system provide clear incentives for people to save for their retirement.

Financial Healthcheck? Money Advice Service? ISAs?

Instead of Cash ISAs, Stocks & Shares ISAs, Junior ISAs, and whatever other sort of ISAs the government may dream up, each with their own arbitrary caps, contribution rules, and accompanying bureaucracy, why not simply abolish all tax on savings interest?

Would that put us on a slippery slope to abolishing Capital Gains Tax or perhaps even Income Tax? I obviously think that wouldn't be such a bad thing, but I can see why the government wouldn't want to set off down that path.

Some simple things the government could do to support savers:

  1. Stop debasing the currency
  2. Allow interest rates to rise to their natural level
  3. Only tax the real return on investment income (after inflation has been taken into account)
Okay, so there's no chance they'll do either of the first two, but on what grounds can they refuse to do the third?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

No more News of the World

Yesterday I tweeted about a disturbing interview on the morning news programme I love to hate:
media commenter says "*if* you have a free (unregulated) press, that comes with responsibility". Only to obey the law, surely!
I didn't have time to follow it up with a blog post, and there was precious little room to express my surprise and horror in 140 characters, so I was glad to see the story picked up by Tom Paine over at The Last Ditch:
Crimes have been committed here, as have civil wrongs. There must be prosecutions and I am sure there will be civil suits. Those who are liable (whether personally or vicariously) should be held to criminal and financial account. But I sincerely hope there will be no new laws to limit the freedom of the press and no wasteful public enquiries. What was done was already illegal. The "something" that everyone is baying "must be done" is already provided by law. A public enquiry (which the PM sadly seemed to concede today) will be yet another waste of public funds. Now is one of those recurring times to remember that laws are evils in themselves. New ones should only be made when they are lesser evils.
As to the ethical question, of course journalists should have standards. Of course they should be prepared to stand by them, even at the risk of not being able to pay their mortgages. I make no excuses for the conduct of the News of the World's journalists and editors in this case. I merely observe (as is equally true of The Guardian's readers who are defending a self-confessed liar because he lied to make their heroes look good) that the morals of a newspaper are those of its readers. You simply don't sell newspapers by telling your readers what they don't want to hear. Of the professional media outlets, only the BBC, compulsorily funded even by those who despise it, has the privilege to set its own line.
Lord Tebbit had similarly sensible things to say in his post yesterday evening:

There can be no excuses for what was done by investigators or journalists in the pay of editorial executives at The News Of The World. However, it would take a strong stomach not to be revolted at the smug, self satisfied journalists of the Left, who were ready with excuses for one of their kind recently uncovered as having regularly stolen the work of other writers and made a living by passing it off as his own, but are writhing with delight at the exposure, humiliation and possible downfall of their enemies in the far more popular and successful Murdoch press.

Even if there were to be no more revelations, enough is now known to be pretty sure that criminal offences have been committed. Those responsible should be prosecuted wherever there is sufficient evidence to do so. That includes those who procured the offences as well as they who actually committed them. And it might include police officers who assisted in the commission of offences.

It was great to see both Tebbit and Paine make the connection with Johann Hari, whose shamelessness beggars belief.

Tom Paine returned to the News of the World story in a subsequent post
A 'public inquiry' or even (God help us) 'inquiries', as mooted by the Prime Minister, will just provide opportunities for politicians to score points off each other. It will further infantalise a debate that is already being conducted, not least by Milliband Minor at PMQs today, at the level of an afternoon TV chat show.

Worst of all, the distinguished member of 'the Great and the Good" who chairs the inquiry will feel the need to immortalise him/herself by coming up with "deliverables" to be implemented by government. The most likely deliverables are bad laws that will interfere with press freedom.
But it was his original post that proved prescient:
Tony Blair's best mate Rupert Murdoch has it in his own hands to cleanse his tabloid stables and he is well hard enough to do it quickly and well. Having followed his career for many years, I imagine he is waiting only to be sure that when he strikes, he does not need to strike again, thus dragging the story out.
Sure enough, I heard on the radio after work that Murdoch has pulled the plug on The News of the World.

The good chaps at The Register win the prize for best headline:


Daniel Hannan sums things up nicely:
In the end, the News of the World was brought down by consumer pressure: a combination of the withdrawal of advertising and the likelihood of a popular boycott. Where lawsuits, libel actions, PCC rulings, government regulations and commercial rivals had failed, Adam Smith’s invisible hand succeeded.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Fined £500k for not flying EU flag

More mind-boggling news:
Fines for failing to display the EU flag and logos should be scrapped, a government minister said yesterday.

Brussels has imposed financial penalties of almost £500,000 on councils, museums, universities, travel firms and business groups.
The fines relate to money given to the UK by the European Regional Development Fund since 2000. The fund has contributed to dozens of schemes including the Eden Project, in Cornwall, the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead and the redevelopment of Liverpool’s King’s Dock.
Nasty Brits not showing their gratitude for all that 'EU money'?
Typically, funding is matched pound for pound by the UK. But Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget and critics have long complained that ERDF cash is essentially recycled taxpayers’ money.

Sunspot decline and sulphur shrouds

Not so long ago I wrote about global cooling. The story continues to unfold ...

Here's the latest from Lewis Page:

British scientists have produced a new study suggesting that the Sun is coming to the end of a "grand solar maximum" – a long period of intense activity in the Sun – meaning that we in Blighty could be set for a long period of much colder winters, similar to those seen during the "little ice age" of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The new research from boffins led by Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading uni says that "solar activity during the current sunspot minimum has fallen to levels unknown since the start of the 20th century" and that there is a serious chance that the Sun may be headed into another so-called "Maunder Minimum", a long period with almost no sunspots like that which was recorded by astronomers from 1645 to 1715.

What might be the impact for the UK?

According to the new study, chances that the average winter temperature will fall below 2.5°C will be around 1 in 7, assuming that all other factors, including man-made effects and El Niño, remain constant.

Put in context, the average UK winter temperature for the last 20 years has been 5.04°C. The last three winters have averaged 3.50°C, 2.53°C and 3.13°C, with 2009-10 being the 14th coldest in the last 160 years.

Meanwhile, Pages's colleague Andrew Orlowski writes

The refusal of the global temperatures to rise as predicted has caused much angst among academics. "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't," wrote one in 2009. Either the instruments were wrong, or the heat energy had gone missing somewhere.

Now a team of academics, after tweaking a statistical model to include sulphur emissions, suggest that coal power stations may be to blame for a lack of global warming since 1998.


Kaufmann et al declare that aerosol cooling is "consistent with" warming from manmade greenhouse gases. Recent studies suggest greenhouse gas emissions may be masking a long-term cooling trend as solar activity declines.

Apparently it's those nasty Chinese ...

"The political consequence of this article seems to be that the simplest solution to global warming is for the Chinese to burn more coal, which they intend to do anyway," writes Curry.

Doubtless they will. First we blame them for warming the planet, but now we blame them for cooling the planet.
Who can say? What's clear to me is that our climate isn't nearly as well understood as our masters in Westminster, and their masters in Brussels, would have you believe.

Their Gaia worship isn't a cost-free exercise; it will cost us dearly.

Abiding by bad decisions

The Register reports:

The UK Government is to abide by a European ruling on the use of gender in insurance, although it says the judgment goes against common sense.

In March 2011, the European Court of Justice ruled in a test case known as the Test-Achats case that from 21 December 2012 insurers will no longer be able to use gender as a factor in the calculation of premiums and benefits.


"The government were very disappointed with this result, which it expects to have a negative impact on consumers," Hoban said. "The judgment goes against the grain of the common sense approach to equality which the UK government wants to see."

"The government believes that nobody should be treated unfairly because of their gender, but that financial services providers should be allowed to make sensible decisions based on sound analysis of relevant risk factors."

Bearing in mind the UK's obligation to implement the decision, however, Hoban said that it would apply the ruling, though only to policies added after the 21 December 2012 date.

So our government thinks this is a stupid idea (and for once I agree with them), but they're going to go ahead with it (after slight delay) because they are obliged to under EU law.

It's sovereignty, but not as we know it.

The alarm bells are ringing louder than ever. When will the British people wake up?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Tram trouble

Another day, another government project late and over budget:
Councillors in Edinburgh have decided to carry on with the city's troubled trams project - but will have to find another £200m to fund it.
A majority backed a Liberal Democrat motion to fund the line as far as St Andrew Square at a cost of £770m.

The original estimated cost of the line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven was put at £545m.
An alternative to scrap the project completely was considered but this would have cost up to £750m.
It would seem that they are stepped in so far that should they wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.