Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Oh, America

You know there's a 'but' on the way when someone starts with a list of credentials ...

I'm a big fan of the USA and these are my credentials.  I have family there (US citizens).  I have three times been employed by American companies, and thrice thrived.  I have done a lot of business there, and made most of my money there.  I have travelled frequently, not only to New York (which is easy for Yurpeans) but to other, less atypical US cities if you'll pardon the double negative like Chicago, Houston and Dallas.  I am a big believer in American positivism (political as well as business), even if it has often been my role as token Yurpean to inject a note of realism from time to time.  I am even more a believer in the American attitude that runs: if the deal you're proposing works for us, we'll do it! (as compared to the wretched traditional Yurpean response: since you're the one proposing the deal, we'll only do it if we get 95% of the benefit ... actually on second thoughts we won't do it at all).  After the financial crisis I staked quite a lot of my money on the proposition the USA would recover faster than Yurp.  And in my soldiering days I have worked alongside fine, professional American military types as an ally.


Recent developments in American universities really make me wonder whether the great nation is slowly committing suicide, in some sort of decline-and-fall melt-down of decadence that would gratify a chinese marxist theoretician (not to mention an islamist).  Item 1:  'generation wuss' - we've looked at this a couple of times - which as well as whimpering in its 'safe spaces' is now throwing a massive chain-reaction tantrum, seemingly to prove there is no future for rational discourse there.  Given the massive proportion of Americans who attend university (as least, to 'study' for one of their very dubious first degrees) this could be a bit of a problem unless decisively countered by the grown-ups in a confident assertion of rational values.

Item 2:  'generation meds'.   At face value it seems that not only can these coddled, contemptible narcissists not survive outside a 'safe space', they even need to be doped up to the eyeballs with prescription drugs for their precarious collective mental health.  

This can't possible be a generation fit to carry forward the flame.

Or am I just showing my age?  There must have been similar reactions to the Class of '68 and their LSD-addled anti-war protests.   American first degrees are rubbish, but their doctorates are not, so clearly they sort things out in the long run - or used to.

Still - doesn't appear to bode well, does it ?  Someone tell me please I'm wrong.


Monday, 23 November 2015

The CBI View- women don't to eat or enjoy sports

This story, typical of the BBC, really is identity politics run wild.

The new head of the CBI, Carolyn Fairburn, a lady who has known few boundaries in her own life, has decided the world is not enough to her liking.

"Business Dinners" are apparently now not suitable events to organise for woman. I can see her point, clearly women don't eat and so would not want a free dinner and a chance to network with like-minded people....oh wait.

Of course, the baby issue is raised, poor Caroyln had 3 children and a busy husband so it was very hard for her to manage being at the BBC or McKinsey's and have a perfect time with the kids too. So of course, what needs to change is everyone else. There need to be events that are appropriate for women and at family friendly times too so as it works for her.

Then she extends the whinge to sports events too, clearly these cannot be appropriate for women either, as women don't like sport etc etc. The fabulos irony of labelling women like this when taking such a position is clearly lost of dead Caroyln.

Jesus wept, where do they find these people? I can only imagine how total her euro-enthusiasm must be to add rules and regulations to everything as it is needed to make her life easier.

Heavens forbid that people hold networking events early in the morning or into the evening because, you know, there is work to do all day and this is extra's - stuff which you don't actually have to do either.

Personal identity politics is one of the most annoying scourges of our age. Everything has to be about me and what I want, if it isn't then it must be discriminatory because I am a woman/man/mum/single/gay..blah blah blah.

If you are wondering why I have taken such offence to it, another little gem from last week. At the two minutes silence for Paris last Monday across the city there were plenty of people refusing to join in and making a scene because other people had died, in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq etc, who had not had a minutes silence for them. It is really sad that people so readily use and abuse such atrocities as excuses to virtue signal.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Rudd's 'Energy Policy Reset' - Oh Ye of Little Faith!

Well here's something to brighten a stormy November weekend: Amber Rudd's speech!  Yes, after 'taking the summer off to review energy policy' she has at last got around to announcing what George Osborne's she's decided - and in some respects it's as good as I was hoping all those months ago. As part of our usual service to readers, I've read the whole thing (eight pages of 12-point*) - and here's what you might like to know.

The good bits (all verbatim quotes, in sequence as they appear in the speech) - and some of them are really good:
  • energy security has to be the number one priority (usually the last refuge of a scoundrel but in the current political context - i.e. displacing 'decarbonisation' as top priority - it's important)
  • in the next 10 years, it’s imperative that we get new gas-fired power stations built
  • we need to get the right signals in the electricity market to achieve that
  • subsidy should be temporary, not part of a permanent business model
  • we need to work towards a market where success is driven by your ability to compete in a market. Not by your ability to lobby Government
  • intermittent generators to be responsible for the pressures they add to the system when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine. Only when different technologies face their full costs can we achieve a more competitive market
The potentially good bits (many require qualification, see below; direct quotes again, except the last bullet):
  • we now have an electricity system where no form of power generation, not even gas-fired power stations, can be built without government intervention (important she recognises this, and for what it is - a Bad Thing)
  • we are already consulting on how to improve the Capacity Market. And after this year’s auction we will take stock and ensure it delivers the gas we need
  • we will not support offshore wind at any cost (unfortunately this doesn't mean 'not at all', it means 'no blank cheques')
  • our most important task is providing a compelling example to the rest of the world of how to cut carbon while controlling costs
  • Ofgem ... will remove the barriers to suppliers choosing half-hourly settlement for household customers
  • National Grid as system operator has played a pivotal role in keeping the energy market working. But as our system changes we need to make sure it is as productive, secure and cost-effective as possible. There is a strong case for greater independence for the system operator (this needs careful interpretation, see below)
  • heat accounts for around 45% of our energy consumption and a third of all carbon emissions. Progress to date has been slower here than in other parts of our economy (another important thing to recognise)
  • we cannot support every technology (hopefully calling an end to the inane policy of 'the more stupid the idea, the bigger the subsidy')
  •  ... and she makes scant reference to CCS, which is highly appropriate since it doesn't exist
The residual depressing stuff  (my summary):
  • the ongoing fantasy-obsession with nukes
  • dangerous insouciance on the soi-dissant 'European Energy Union'
  • willingness to continue some subsidies and some 'support', even if on a reduced scale
With a list like that it's hard to go through all the necessary qualifying remarks, even for weekend reading, I could be here all day.  But here are a few:

-  'improving the Capacity Market' could be a recipe for even worse dirigisme, if Sir Humphrey is given the task
-  notwithstanding the amusing self-appointed task of telling the rest of the world how to control costs (a classic Osborne provocation!), we wait to see how much backbone the government has for the baleful Paris COP21 negotiations later this month and beyond
-  'half-hourly settlement for household customers' is a two-edged sword, dangerous in the wrong hands
-  the opaque reference to the National Grid is getting at a very important issue: in brief, they have every incentive to give misleading advice on 'what is to be done', because they get a guaranteed rate of return on their capital investment ... a pretty shocking instance of moral hazard
-  defining 'progress' on 'heat' could be a tricky business: it's a huge issue with equally huge potential for massive policy errors (and as Rudd has recently pointed out, DECC doesn't wholly own this one)
-  the European Energy Union might just work in our favour, but on balance I'm thinking the risks outweigh the opportunity: another post on this in due course

By the way, the "government declares an end to coal" is just a smokescreen (haha) for the headlines, duly swallowed by the MSM.  It's a heavily qualified 'policy' with minimal content and, notwithstanding its emptiness, acres of wriggle-room besides.

Anyhow let's put the caveats to one side, at least for this weekend, and give credit where it's due.  Well Done, George Amber!  

Next week you can crack on with the rest of my checklist:  scrapping the Hinkley deal;  toughing up the 'Energy Union', the Paris conference, little Gummer the Bummer + his useless Climate Change Committee, and the SNP's 'Scottish Energy Policy';  fixing the biomass regulations ...


* and that's before the redacted 'political' passages