Why people steal from their employers

Under capitalism, your personal prosperity is directly dependent on the prosperity of the business you work for. Under socialism, the prosperity of the business you work for is theft of your labour.

However, in a mixed economy and a society that hasn’t fully grasped the benefits of capitalism we must also factor-in moral equivocation and laziness. Therefore some employees like to redress the balance of poor pay and conditions by finding non-monetary compensation, for example stealing office supplies if they’re lazy. Others might be more greedy and actively swindle the company to “earn” more cash, for example if you see the till drawer left open and the barman appears to be flustered while trying to serve a lot of people quickly you know he’s thieving.

This problem affects all companies and at every level. Top directors being paid bonuses they haven’t earned or don’t deserve, still less bonuses which they are not contractually entitled to, are thieving from the company. Just like the dishonest barman only the scale is different. Under capitalism all this behaviour is corrupt but under socialism it’s honest because you’re just taking back what wasn’t the company’s in the first place. In so many ways socialism is a thieves’ charter.

Here is a fascinating insight into the process. Researchers at some top universities in America conducted a study of 392 restaurants in 39 states, before and after surveillance cameras were installed. You can read an article about it from the New York Times here: How Surveillance Changes Behavior: A Restaurant Workers Case Study

This is what I found the most interesting observation:

The impact, the researchers say, came not from firing workers engaged in theft, but mostly from their changed behavior. Knowing they were being monitored, the servers not only pulled back on any unethical practices, but also channeled their efforts into, say, prompting customers to have that dessert or a second beer, raising revenue for the restaurant and tips for themselves.

Remove the ability to steal, or increase the fear of being caught, and you don’t just reduce or eliminate theft, you actually give employees an incentive to play along with the system and boost their own earnings within it. They are focused on doing what’s good for the business. This would work equally well with top peoples’ salaries. Remove the ability to set their own pay and bonuses, or increase the fear of being caught cheating, and those running a business would focus on doing what’s good for the investors.

The moral of the story is, capitalism works when you give it a chance.

A Tale Of Two Autos


Reading Werner Lang’s obituary in the Telegraph provides an interesting insight into socialism. He was the designer of the Trabant 601 (the one on the right, above, if you’re not sure), in production from 1963 until the fall of the Berlin Wall and an enduring emblem of communist East Germany. The story of its production reveals much about the effects of a totalitarian state (and is a credit to the ingenuity of Werner Lang and his fellow engineers). It was powered by a two-stroke engine because that was all that was available in the workers’ paradise that was East Germany, with a body made from a plastic material comprising compressed cotton and a resin derived from brown coal. In the course of nearly thirty years in production it was never improved because East Germany’s rulers saw no need for the people to have anything better. As the Telegraph describes it: “The engines were two-cylinder models because all that was available were motorcycle motors. There were no disc brakes, no radiator, no oil filter or oil pump and no fuel gauge; the flow of petrol was powered by gravity (the tank was above the engine), so there was no fuel pump.” It was a noisy, rattling, smoke-belching indictment of state control and how governments can suck the life out of the people.

Meanwhile, what other car first hit the roads of the Western world in 1963? The Aston Martin DB5. James Bond’s car, no less. Top left of the two shown above. What a contrast between two opposing systems. It’s easy to mock the Trabbie, as it is affectionately known to its fans, but it’s not the car that should be mocked but socialism. I wonder what Lang could have done with the same opportunities? Which is the point of it all, really, isn’t it? Give opportunities for talented people to excel. It doesn’t matter what at because it’s not the role of government to decide what the priorities are. That’s for the people to decide.

Werner Lang’s obituary on the Telegraph

“Daytime Discounts” For Cheaper Electricity

British Gas has announced a new scheme where customers pays more, or less, for their electricity depending on the time of day.

This is what Privatization does. When liberated from the dead-hand of state control, privately run businesses can innovate more because more ideas can be dreamed-up and market tested. The concept of market testing is alien to state-controlled businesses because they don’t operate in a market, they have captive users who must accept whatever is offered at whatever price is charged. So there is no incentive to innovate in the first place.

I like this idea. I think it is imaginative and I think it would work. The next step though would probably be dynamic pricing, where the price fluctuates not only with the time of day but with how much load there is, that is how many other people are competing with you to use electricity. In that case electricity will go to the highest bidders, those prepared to pay the most. I’m not sure I’d welcome that personally, but if a Ryanair-style energy provider does enter the market, who knows how they would structure the tariff.

Read the full Daily Telegraph article

It Didn’t Work For The Soviets, It Won’t Work For Us

The way to get ourselves out of our present economic difficulties is not to emulate the Soviet Union. That bloated, inefficient command economy rightly collapsed and died more than two decades ago and is only missed by the likes of Vladimir Putin and hard-line Stalinists. Oh, and Keynesians apparently. They want us to adopt the very same policies of state intervention.

The problem with Keynsians and communists alike is they don’t trust the people. We can’t be trusted to spend our own money on things we regard as a priority. No, they have to take our money from us in higher taxation and spend it on what they think are higher priorities. That way the economy will generate more revenue and they’ll be able to tax that too and spend still more money on things they think are important. On our behalf. In our name. Without our consent.

We were pretty much a command economy not so long ago. The government owned companies that made cars, trucks and ships, that ran the telephone service, ran the trains, ran the buses, ran the economy into the ground. Talking of ground, the government even dug for coal. The government built the roads, built the railway lines, built airports. The government owned the houses that ordinary working people lived in. The government ran the hospitals when they were ill, ran the schools their children went to. The government even ran radio and television stations. The list goes on.

Thank God for Thatcher.

Some things should be run by the government for and on behalf of all the people. But generating the country’s wealth is best left to us. The government simply has to get out of the way and Margaret Thatcher did us an enormous service by privatizing whatever was not the government’s business.

“Austerity” is a misnomer. It should be called “Liberation”. It is the process of the government getting out of our way and liberating us from state control. However it is under threat at the moment from those who believe it is not working and cannot work. They want to increase taxes, to take more out of our pockets and reduce the amount of money we have to spend, which means, of course, we will spend less. Only they’re not so daft as to announce they want to increase taxes, no, they simply say they want to increase government spending. As if we don’t know where the money is coming from. Increasing taxes and taking money away from us will increase austerity, not reduce it.

How can we possibly be better off with less money coming in?

If you want us to be better off, reduce the taxes we have to pay. Cut VAT or increase the tax threshold. Leave more money in our pockets.

It won’t feel so austere then.

Adam Smith’s Pin Factory, updated

Adam Smith would be horrified with what passes for an economy today. I have this image in my mind of his fellow Scotsman Billy Connolly indignantly bellowing “What the fuh?” as he regales an audience with some tale of outrageous observational humour. Adam Smith used real-life observations as well to illustrate his economic theories, a notch or two down from The Big Yin admittedly. But try it for yourself, look up at that statue of him peering down from his high plinth on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and ask yourself if you can’t hear him shouting “Are you kidding me?” Because, really, it is unbelievable.

Here’s an example. To illustrate the benefits of cooperation and specialisation Adam Smith explained in “The Wealth of Nations” how pin manufacturing could be made more efficient. He noted that a factory employing ten men might produce upwards of 48,000 pins a day when one man working on his own would struggle to make twenty pins a day. He showed how self-interest was served by combining talents with those who might otherwise be thought of as competitors.

So let’s imagine a group of pin-makers were inspired by his insight. Let’s imagine they formed themselves into a company, bought machinery and set up a production line with each worker doing what he was best at, and as a result they multiplied their individual output many times over, just as Adam Smith had predicted. Then over the years as the company prospered they were able to buy a plot of land and build their own purpose-built factory on it.

Fast-forward to today. The Edinburgh Pin Company has provided a steady living for generations of pin-makers. The business couldn’t be in better shape: they have a strong market presence for a wide range of high quality products at reasonable prices, straight pins, map pins, drawing pins, safety pins; the company owns the factory and thus pays no rent; the partners all work in the company and draw wages that are fair but not exorbitant; there is cash in the bank and the company has no overdraft or mortgage and no investors to pay.

But as with so many businesses, the global financial meltdown has had its effects. Turnover is down as customers cut back on buying and so the company seeks out new markets and new products. They find a big new customer who wants to place a massive order which with their present equipment they can’t deliver on for price and quantity. Time for a major investment. For the first time ever they go to the bank for a loan. The bank says no. The fact the company can show a contract for sufficient sales to completely cover the sum to be borrowed matters not a jot. Despite the government having bailed-out the bank which is now majority-owned by the taxpayer, and the Bank of England issuing fresh reserves to facilitate additional lending by the banks for exactly this sort of need, this bank won’t play ball. There’s not enough money in it for them.

There is a way out though, the bank tells them: get listed on the stock market. And as luck would have it, the bank could help them with that. For a fee. Well, for a lot of “fee” actually. There is a lot more money in it for the bank than merely lending the company the money they need. In fact, by the time they’ve paid for endless lawyers, accountants and other special advisors, drawn up a prospectus and made relevant filings, signed-up with a team of brokers and been well and truly taken to the cleaners by the bank, they’ve used up all their cash reserves and the partners have all had to inject cash from their own private funds. “Don’t worry,” says the bank, “you’ll all be millionaires soon.” Ha.

Unfortunately, by all the measures the stock market uses to assess the value of a stock, the Edinburgh Pin Company comes out rather poorly. It’s capital is seriously under-utilised because while it owns extremely valuable land it earns no money from it because the company doesn’t bother paying rent to itself. Why would it? That’s silly. Nor is the return on investment good enough because the partners run the company to generate only a modest profit, enough to pay the bills and stay in business. And the biggest sin in the eyes of the market? They’re not deep enough in debt. Most normal people would think that not being up to your eyes in debt is a good thing, but investment bankers are not normal people. Looking at the assets and the level of turnover, the company ought to be able to borrow a substantial sum of money but it doesn’t owe a penny. All things considered, the stock market valuation is less than the partners might have hoped. It would still raise the cash needed to fund the expansion which is what they wanted to do in the first place and which is supposedly the point for a stock market anyway, so they go ahead.

The company is launched on the stock market, the partners get their money back and a bit more besides, and there is still plenty of cash left over to pay for the modernisation. For a while it all goes well and the new contract is being serviced and the new client couldn’t be happier. Everyone is upbeat. As a publicly listed company they now have some obligations to investors in a way they never had before when they were privately owned. They have to appoint a CEO and in the way of things, they have to pay top price to attract the best candidate. In order to ensure everything is done properly, they appoint a remunerations board and the bank helps them find suitable candidates for that too. As a larger company with more employees now, they are also subject to a whole raft of legislation they weren’t subject to before, employment, health & safety, that sort of thing. They also have to join a Pin Manufacturers trade association which replaced the Pin Marketing Board which Thatcher abolished years ago.

After their first year of trading as a publicly listed company, they issue their first annual report and hold their first annual general meeting. This is all a bit of a novelty for them, the report took a lot of time and effort to put together – and cost a lot of money – but holding the AGM in a posh hotel in London was a fun weekend away for them since they always used to have their annual meetings in Edinburgh. What they don’t know is that their company has come to the attention of a particularly savvy venture capitalist. He pores over the accounts with a shrewd investor’s eye. All those factors that keep the share price down are the same factors that could be leveraged to borrow a lot of money. Enough money in fact to buy the company. He approaches his favourite investment bank, they are a different creature to the retail bank that wouldn’t lend the company the money in the first place. They lend the venture capitalist as much as he needs on the basis that when he has taken charge of the company, he can sell off enough assets to repay the loan. And he only needs a 51% stake to control 100% of the company. The CEO can see his big pay-day coming too. He has packed the remuneration board with cronies and put in place a very nice incentive scheme should there ever be a takeover bid.

The stage is set. It’s fill-your-boots-time. After a brief and very one-sided take-over campaign the CEO recommends acceptance of the venture capitalist’s offer, not difficult to understand since the CEO stands to gain enormously if it goes through and nothing if it doesn’t. The take over goes through. The first CEO cashes-out a happy man, and the venture capitalist installs himself as the new CEO. He starts to make major changes to the way the company operates, not all of them work, some are disastrous in fact, but that’s no problem for him, he still gets his bonuses. He sells the land the factory is on to a subsidiary company for enough money to repay the loan he took out to buy the company with and Edinburgh Pin PLC now has to pay “fair market rate” for the premises. The situation is not helped when the health & safety consultant orders them to paint the walls pale green to reduce eye-strain on the workers but the union sues them for exposing the workers to paint fumes. Costs are escalating out of control, the final straw comes when an entire batch of thumb tacks is lost because the curvature of the dome was not in accordance with EU specifications.

The CEO seizes his opportunity. He closes the factory and sources everything he needs from the Far East. The company’s bottom line is now looking spectacular; operating costs are a fraction of what they had been and turnover is still the same. The share price sky-rocketed, his bonus that year was astronomical. On top of that, he sells the land for a fraction of its true worth to a company he secretly owned through an off-shore trust, demolishes the factory and builds an up-market gated housing estate. The company he outsourced production to has snapped up production capacity at other manufacturers as well and has now become a monopoly supplier. Prices go up and quality goes down. The customer loses out. It’s worse for the former partners. They are out of work and just have their very modest share of the proceeds to live on, with nothing to pass on to the next generation. The next generation is everything, they are all our futures, but they have been robbed of their inheritance. The banks, the CEO and all those involved in stripping this company of everything, whether entirely legally or at times breaking the law, all get away with it and live happily and richly ever after.

What would Adam Smith have made of all this? There used to be a pin manufacturing company that produced good quality products at affordable prices and which was able to compete in the marketplace. Now it no longer exists. Where did it all go wrong? How can we put it right again?

They aren’t “think tanks”, they’re cartels

Keynesianism is the heroin of economic policies. Those who are hooked rave about the highs it brings and will do anything for their next fix. It sounds simple enough to hear their explanation: inject some taxpayers money into the economy and watch it soar. The trick apparently is in finding the right “vein” to inject it into. So addicts might call for a massive public sector house-building programme, or a new high-speed rail line, or upgrades to the motorway network, or a new airport. There are a host of possibilities and they all have the same appeal: create work and stimulate the economy. It’s taxpayers money, they acknowledge, but it’s going straight back to the taxpayer and it’s making the money supply go round faster thus stimulating the economy.

Does anyone remember the Soviet Union? How short memories are. The state making investment decisions is never a good idea, and under the present climate of incompetence and lack of control it is potentially a disastrous one. To raise the money they want to spend, Keynesians would have to raise taxes by at least as much and in reality substantially more because collecting taxes is an inefficient process. If they wanted to spend say £10 billion on house building, they’d probably have to raise £20 billion to make up for the tax dodging that would be triggered. That £20 billion would be money taken out of taxpayers’ pockets which would result in less spending on other parts of the economy. The money supply would not in fact go round faster, it would slow down.

The truth is, Keynesians are not injecting money into an economy, they’re diverting it away from things the taxpayer was already spending it on: food, clothing, consumer goods, running a car and all the other everyday expenditures they’re already struggling to meet. And it’s not going straight back into taxpayers’ pockets, they’re tying it up in long-term capital projects. Central planning of an economy is always a bad idea. Always. If they really want to stimulate the economy they should leave as much as possible in the pockets of the taxpayer.

Here are some of their proposals examined:

Build more houses

Why won’t that work? Nobody could afford to buy them despite record low interest rates because banks are not making mortgage loans. If they were lending more money, there would be more houses bought and sold. Thousands of perfectly good houses were demolished under Labour’s disastrous Pathfinder scheme, but there are plenty more that could be renovated and returned to use which would happen if people were able to get mortgages to buy them with in the first place.

Build more railways

Why won’t that work? There is a massive amount of investment going on already, with new stations and upgraded lines which is part of the justification for increased fares. But turning stations into improved shopping centres isn’t really addressing the problem: people don’t make decisions on whether to travel by train on the basis of whether the station has a Costa cafe, they decide on the basis of the train fare. Right now fares are rising above the rate of inflation and the plain fact is, people can’t afford them.

Build a new airport

Why won’t that work? Heathrow airport in particular is seriously damaging Britain’s reputation as a place to travel to and to do business with. So Keynesians want to build a new runway, or better yet, an entirely new airport. The problem is, the nightmare that is travelling through Heathrow isn’t because of delays in the air, it’s the hours on the ground spent checking-in and going through security and especially getting through immigration on the inward journey. Spend the money on more immigration officers instead.

Build more roads

Why won’t that work? Everyone gets stuck in traffic, right? And where does that happen? In city centres, at junctions, places like that where traffic merges. And where do they want to build new roads? Out in the open country where there are no traffic jams. So how does that help? It doesn’t, you’re still going to be stuck in traffic jams, you’ll just get to the next one faster. But so will everyone else which means you’ll all sit in it longer. The other problem with the build-more-roads solution is that people can’t afford to drive, it is increasingly expensive to run a car.

To sum it up.

The bottom line is, you can’t buck the markets. Every individual in the market is making their own buying decisions on the basis of what they know they want, not on the basis of some state-mandated five year plan. All the Keynesians end up doing is interfering in the smooth operation of the market and as can easily be demonstrated the real solution to any problem they highlight is often simpler and cheaper – government should get out of the way.

Carbon Lifeform Offset

In order to counter the effects of politicians on the environment I am proposing that we introduce a “carbon lifeform offset” by creating a market to trade in carbon lifeforms. The more harmful the lifeform the greater the offset to be earned by “trapping” it.

This would be accomplished by building stockades in remote places where the highest-polluting carbon lifeforms could be rounded up and sent. This will neutralise their harmful effects on the world and generate millions of dollars in offset revenue for companies that trap them. A good place to build these stockades would be in the deserts of Arizona, but we could get off to a good start by locking the gates at Westminster Palace and not letting them out. We would have to be vigilant against attempts to tunnel out, but the chances of them getting themselves organised enough to manage that are frankly slim.

However, where there is a market there will be those who seek to exploit it and so we will need to consider measures to prevent the creation of additional unwanted politicians. This might be accomplished by psychometric profiling to look for anyone with a high self-importance factor combined with a low threshold for humiliation, or by organising “sting” elections where those who enter as candidates self-identify themselves as politicians and can safely be trapped and traded.

This would leave the rest of us free to deal with the real problems facing the world.

To read a little about the inanity of carbon trading, please see this article in the New York Times: Profits on Carbon Credit Drive Output of a Harmful Gas

Next proposal: Bankers’ bonuses to be paid with jars of Marmite

Stuck in the Keynesian cycle lane

Consider the newspaper industry. An essential source of in-depth news and reportage. Essential because a well-informed populace is the prerequisite for a healthy democracy. In their day, newspapers would sell in vast numbers, most homes would have a daily paper delivered, sometimes two, and many cities had evening newspapers. But now newspapers are struggling to survive and there is much anguish over new business models such as charging for online access, or using celebrity bloggers to pull in the readers while at the same time slashing costs and sacking trained, experienced journalists. The industry is in turmoil and sales of printed papers are a fraction of what they used to be.

How would Keynesians deal with this problem?

Well, first of all, I’m not a Keynesian, and secondly, it’s not a problem. It is simply progress and the natural effect of supply and demand in a free market economy. People aren’t buying newspapers in such great numbers any more because they don’t want to; they have found other sources of news and information. As someone who believes in democracy I am worried about where they are getting that news and information from now, but that’s a different problem. Instead, I want to explore the Keynesian approach because a market fluctuation of this magnitude is something they consider to be a problem and I’d like to examine their solutions because there is a pattern to them.

Keynesians would want to see newspaper production raised to its previous high, to safeguard jobs and to preserve a part of the economy intact in what is, to them, a cyclical event. We would once more see vendors on every street corner shouting “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”, we would once more have newspapers delivered to every home. They just wouldn’t be bought at the same volumes as before because the consumer has already made his choice. However, since they’re being printed at excessively high volumes there is an unsustainable shortfall in revenue, to pay for which the Keynesians would give the newspaper barons huge subsidies until the market stabilises again.

Is that the problem solved then? Not really. We need to ask, “Where does the money come from?” It’s not free money. It’s not even the government’s money. It’s taxpayers’ money and in the past that fact was obscured by sleight-of-hand, by pretending the government had ‘reserves’ or could reallocated expenditure from one area to another. Taxpayers are getting wise to those old tricks and they are increasingly asking the same question. They know that extra government spending means higher taxes and that means less money in their own pockets. So what do they do to compensate? They cut back on spending, not buying things they would have preferred to spend money on.

Let’s imagine for the sake of argument that everyone cuts back their spending on the same thing. Let’s imagine that up and down the country people stop going to football matches. Every Saturday teams run out onto the pitch and play their games in front of empty stadia, while at home millions of former football fans spurn the subscription fees on television and watch soap operas on freeview instead. The government of the day becomes very unhappy because now instead of talking about football with their friends, everyone is talking about how useless the government is. The government are reminded of bread and circuses, something Roman emperors would only forget at their peril.

So they turn to their Keynesian advisors again, the ones who fixed the newspaper problem, and ask them to fix this problem too. Well, as they say, if all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. So the Keynesians look at this problem and see another business cycle that needs to be hammered flat. So they pummel it with taxpayer subsidies to keep the star players and their WAGS in champagne and tasteless mansions and all is well with the world again. Except for the taxpayer. He now has this subsidy to pay for as well and his taxes go up again and the cycle repeats itself: The taxpayer must make economies in some other area of expenditure. Perhaps bread?

Of course it doesn’t work like that in the real world. In the real world people make individual choices and cut out expenditure that is less important to them. This aggregates across all market sectors and results in a general decline in economic activity proportionate to the money being squandered. It also results in a loss of crowd wisdom in ferreting out obsolete goods or inefficient services because the free market is now being manipulated and distorted for political purposes. We can be sure that whatever part of the economy is impacted by consumers making free market choices, Keynesians will step in with taxpayers’ money to smooth out that particular business cycle.

You can read all about it in the newspapers.

The Jungle Book

Many years ago, I designed a new web site for the Adam Smith Institute and they were slightly bemused by my choice of the jungle theme: “It’s a jungle out there,” I explained. And indeed it is, but that’s lucky for us because a jungle with one species of plant and one species of animal would soon become a very unhealthy place to be. Plus boring. A diversity of species and, crucially, the opportunity for new species to emerge and either thrive or fail is healthy for the jungle and everything in it. Everything in it improves over time.

A case in point would be the Royal Mail. A once state-owned inefficient monopoly it is still state-owned but now struggling against a field of private competitors. But it’s an uneven competition, it’s like you’ve taken the king of the beasts and wired his jaws shut. It is burdened with obligations which its private competitors are not and I think that’s unfair, the law of the jungle should apply to everyone equally otherwise it’s not the fittest that survive. However I think one of their newer competitors is worth a closer look. I’ve used Home Delivery Network several times recently and I have to say I’m impressed with what they do. They took a lot of stick in their early days, poor levels of service and lost or damaged parcels, but they’ve really got to grips with that. And that’s what the jungle does. You improve or you die. Any new organisation has teething troubles and they’ve dealt with those, one of which I’m sure was allegations that Royal Mail staff were kicking and damaging HDNL parcels whenever Royal Mail got to handle them. My latest accomplishment was to buy a new book on Amazon one Sunday and have it delivered the next day for a total cost of £4. Including the book.

Adam Smith might have recognised the jungle analogy. He might have called his book “The Jungle Book”. He warned against monopolies and how bad they were and we know all too well today how a monopoly will abuse its market position to stifle competition with predatory pricing or putting pressure on suppliers. We read about these tricks all the time. Adam Smith offered an alternative which was an “invisible hand” guiding the free market through the self-interest of all those active in it. The difference is that a monopoly has all the power, the consumers have none – it can pursue its self-interest while the consumer is powerless.

I would recommend Adam Smith’s book “The Wealth of Nations” except it is heavy going with a lot of examples couched in 18th century trade terms. Far better, I suggest, is Eamonn Butler’s “Adam Smith: A Primer“, and this is the blurb for it:

Despite his fame, there is still widespread ignorance about the breadth of Adam Smith’s contributions to economics, politics and philosophy. In “Adam Smith: A Primer”, Eamonn Butler provides an authoritative introduction to the life and work of this ‘founder of economics’. The author examines not only “The Wealth of Nations”, with its insights on trade and the division of labour, but also Smith’s less well-known works, such as “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, his lectures, and his writings on the history of science. Butler therefore provides a comprehensive, but concise, overview of Adam Smith’s intellectual achievements. Whilst earlier writers may have studied economic matters, it is clear that the scope of Smith’s enquiries was remarkable. In relating economic progress to human nature and institutional evolution he provided a completely new understanding of how human society works, and was very much a precursor of later writers such as Hayek and Popper. Indeed, with poor governance, protectionism and social engineering still commonplace, Smith’s arguments are still highly relevant to policymakers today. “Adam Smith: A Primer” includes a foreword by Sir Alan Peacock, an introduction by Gavin Kennedy and a commentary by Craig Smith.

It’s a free-market trifecta – Eamonn’s book; from Amazon; delivered by HDNL – you can’t lose.

So that’s what they mean by counter-intelligence

Winston Churchill: “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

I wonder what he might have said about the government’s wish to have more police on the streets coupled with their determination to press ahead with sacking thousands of them.

I’m sure George Osborne can do the maths, he’s an excellent Chancellor of the Exchequer, but are David Cameron and Theresa May really that innumerate? Some things are counter-intuitive, like taxes. Cutting the top rate of income tax results in more tax being paid. Raising the top rate of income tax results in less tax being paid. This was the message Churchill was trying to get across: that trying to boost the economy by taking more out of it is self-defeating.

As is trying to boost the number of policemen by sacking them.

Is it possible that the party of hunting, shooting and fishing applies the same philosophy to all walks of life? Understanding the need to cull deer to ensure a thriving herd, or the need to hunt foxes for their own good, perhaps they see a need to cull some police for the good of the herd? Except of course the police aren’t a herd and aren’t breeding more police to the point where they’re in danger of overwhelming their natural environment. In reality they are highly trained and motivated people and indeed we do want enough of them to overwhelm crime and lawlessness.

Here’s a thought: Cut the amount of government there is running our lives and see how much better it gets.