Monday, November 27, 2006

Blair's deep sorrow over slavery

LONDON (Reuters) - A black rights organisation said on Monday Prime Minister Tony Blair's declaration of "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade did not go far enough and failed to address the issue of compensation.

Blair said the bicentenary of the trade's abolition next year offered the opportunity to condemn Britain's past involvement in slavery.

But his statement in black community newspaper New Nation, stopped short of a full apology, in what activists said was an attempt to stave off demands for reparations.

"Blair's article is taking a backward step from Britain's official position in 1807 when it abolished the trade and expressed regret for what had happened," said Kofi Mawuli Klu of rights group Rendezvous of Victory.

"This has heightened feelings among people in the African community. We want an apology of substance that addresses the demands for African reparations," he added.


So I take it the African communities are blameless and without historical blemish. If they feel able to demand an apology from us for our "crimes" against humanity, one must assume they are guiltless and have no blood on their hands.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Did not some of them actively particiapte in slavery? Are not some of them still selling children into slavery today? How many genocides have they committed in their history? How many wars and atrocities have they perpetrated against their neighbours? The answer is of course that they are as guilty as anyone else of crimes against humanity. No one is blameless, including them and it is time they faced facts and took off their blinkers.

This nonsense has got stop. Tony Blair should have had the guts to front up on this matter. He should now address the issue in an intelligent but forthright manner and put the issue to bed for good. Of course he will not and I don't suppose anyone else will either. It really is pathetic. History is history. It cannot be rewritten so lets just put it behind us and move forward for heaven's sake.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dirty Words

We now live in a society where mutual respect, good manners and good practice are practically dirty words. We live in a destructive society and we are slowly but surely destroying everything including our own humanity.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Problem with Mr. Miliband’s green taxes

The idea that taxes can be or should be used to control or manipulate the behaviour of society is a frankly medieval concept. It is a throwback to the notion of centralised control much beloved by communists, socialists, religious sects and feudal lords. It lacks vision, trust and imagination. It is negative in its nature and penalising and restrictive in practice. The idea that people must pay more tax in order to change habits is like saying people must eat bad meat, to become vegetarians. It’s ridiculous.

In a modern, educated well informed society, people do not respond well to the stick because it’s simply unnecessary. They respond better to the carrots of reason, logic and intelligent debate. They react better to tax cuts for behaving well rather than tax increases for behaving badly, which only make life harder in countless ways for ordinary people.

The raising of taxes is not a solution for reducing anything other than individual wealth. Raising taxes will not convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. It will not prevent the continuing destruction of primeval rain forests. It will not plant a single new tree or convert combustion engines into electric hybrids. These things can only be done through multi-lateral government agreements and the ingenuity of scientists and engineers. These are the people that have to be motivated.

The less money people have in their pockets, the more difficult it is for them to insulate their homes or install solar heating panels or wind driven turbines on their roofs. Instead of taxing people, the government should be giving homeowners incentives to exploit new technologies. In so doing they will catalyse those industries to increase R&D and invest in newer more efficient and cheaper technologies to combat global warming. How is raising the taxes of ordinary people going to achieve any of these things? People do not have to be forced into green technologies. They all understand the need. They want only to be able to afford them. Taxation does the opposite and makes affordability more difficult.

Those that can afford higher taxes at least have a choice. They can either pay the taxes, move somewhere else where taxes are lower or give up their gas guzzlers because it makes simple sense to do so. Those that cannot afford the taxes, have fewer options. Increasing their tax burden in any way shape or form, will only make it harder than ever for them to afford greener technologies. That is why using increased taxes to change habits is such an appallingly sterile and stale approach to global warming.

How will we pay for it? On the face of it there are massive savings to be made in oil and gas imports. Paradoxically however, this will lower the price of oil and gas and rejuvenate demand for fossil fuels. This is a problem that economists and governments need to deliberate in depth. What will oil producers do initially as demand falls? What incentive will they have to switch to greener energy themselves when oil is plentiful and cheap and in their own backyard? These are matters that require a global approach that simple local taxation cannot begin to address.

We also need to recognise that for the time being at least, war is no longer an option we want or can afford. The only war left is the one to save our planet. World leaders should be sitting round a table as I write, agreeing to reduce military spending by at least 50% in order to transfer funds to the war on global warming. Failure to do so will render the word “superpower” meaningless, taxes irrelevant and life or much of it, extinct.

The Earth we are told is in mortal peril. So what are we doing spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan when there is a much more serious threat to our survival than a few mad mullahs. If they must kill each other, we should not spend one penny to help them do it. These people need to start worrying about their future and that of their children, just like us. They need to be planting trees, building reservoirs and constructing wind farms to save their own hides from nature’s wrath. We are all in the same boat here and its sinking. Until governments start taking dramatic and meaningful action along these lines, how can any of us take anything they say seriously? Unless they do act and quickly, there is not a snowflake’s chance in hell of saving the planet simply by taxing 4x4s in Richmond or tripling congestion charges on gas guzzlers in London!

Here’s another conundrum. How will the Chancellor cope with all that lost VAT revenue he collects on oil and petrol as consumption falls? I suppose he will in time honoured fashion, start taxing all the green technologies, thus making them even more unobtainable for ordinary people. One thing is certain, Mr. Brown and all the other overpaid bureaucrats who live off our taxes will not suffer and nor will their pensions; at least not until they, like us are extinguished by our common Mother Earth, who is rapidly losing patience with her wayward children!