1 Jun 2007

The Economist: the good, the bad and the ugly

I am an avid reader of the Economist. It is nice to read intelligent stuff from people you disagree with.

A mixed bag, they are rabidly anti-Chavez, I guess this is Phil Gunson stuff but they don't have by lines, so who knows. I can't imagine that if GMTV were calling for a coup against Gordon Brown the Economist would defend them. I suspect that Chavez must be doing something right if they are putting the boot in with such force.

Nonetheless a lot of stimulating stuff from the neo-liberals, in their carbon special, they even inform me that Fidel Castro is head of the pack when it comes to low energy bulbs

There are lots of energy-efficiency regulations in place already, and they are being tightened. Incandescent light bulbs are the top target at the moment. Both the European Union and Australia said earlier this year that they are planning to ban them. But the man in the vanguard of this green revolution is Fidel Castro, who started phasing them out two years ago.

This article 'An Index of pacifism' is fun in a mad sort of way, some one has constructed an index to measure how peaceful countries are, Norway is the most peaceful and Nigeria the most war like. They will be indexing personal happiness next.

There is a deep core of irrationality at the bottom of economic rationality.

The index takes note of internal factors—crime rates, prison population, trust between citizens—and external ones, like relations with neighbours, arms sales, foreign troop deployments. Norway's top place reflects its calm domestic atmosphere and good relations with nearby states. In the case of Israel (119th), high military spending, a huge army and unresolved local conflicts are deemed to outweigh its low level of ordinary crime. Canada comes eighth; its American neighbour a dismal 96th, strangely just above Iran.

I enjoy, like good old Charlie Marx, the odd dose of conventional market based economics, the sophisticated stuff from neo-Austrians like Schumpeter is very interesting. However much of the time you just see stupid knock about stuff which assumes that markets are close to perfect competition. The Economist is some improvement, no point in burning straw 'men'. You have to know the real enemy not the card board cut outs with web space.

The politics is confusing for those on the right and I guess the Economist team themselves, market liberals here are also social liberals...so privatise all things and legalise all drugs, to simplify.

But to be market liberals involves a lot of repressive state intervention, arms spending and general right wing misery. Thus they hate Chavez, support Bush on the whole and were gung ho about the killing fields of Iraq. War what's it good for, profit....no change from Bliar here, who incidentally has a very tedious article in this weeks economist where he pretends to be Anthony Giddens.

The Economist are into both mega death and gay marriage.

Surprisingly they do have the beautiful as well as the ugly, for example, they have produced some sublime articles on islam.

There is a great story on the islamic libraries of Mali, preserved for 100s of years from various vandals in this issue.

Libraries in the desert
Preserving ancient literature in the desert'

In the end though you have to get a subscription, I think we who advocate open source ecosocialism will eventually out compete them, because more of our stuff is for free on the web, for example, here and here. Incidentally don't buy my book, read it here for free here.

What I like best about the Economist is that they know their enemy...green socialists like me!

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