Archive for the ‘government’ Category

The book I read to research this post was Churchill by Ashley Jackson which is an excellent biography that I bought from kindle. This is a biography of Winston Churchill’s life that gives quite a balanced account and I think is well researched. Winston fought in the Boer War & World War 1 and had quite a distinguished military career. In the Boer War he was a news correspondent who also wrote books about his experiences and was taken prisoner but escaped. Much has been said about him being the only one to escape from the POW and how there should have been others also escape but didn’t. It looks like he seized the chance and the other prisoners were indecisive. He escaped in Portugese held Africa which was neutral. He became a bit of a celebrity as a result. He had a cabinet career which started around this time and would last on and off for over 50 years. In World War 1 he resigned from government and joined the army but soon afterwards rejoined the government as Minister of Munitions. He did such a good job he would later become prime minister during World War 2 with the hope he would bring some of the magic he had during World War 1 to the government and they wouldn’t be disappointed. He carried the same cigar around in a cigar case that would become an important symbol of his speaches. He believed passionately in free trade without tariffs which would lead to him changing party which did happen several times. He also very much believed in self government for Ireland but with in the Commonwealth and many people in Ireland were so fed up with British rule they did indeed leave the Commonwealth. He made many rousing and inspiring speaches during World War 2. After the war Labour under Atlee won the election by a huge majority but Winston remained leader of the Conservative Party despite that and by that time was an institution to many people in Britain. He won the election in 1951 and in his time in the cabinet served under 6 kings and queens. I really enjoyed this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it. It is quite a long book and does a lot to dispel the idea he was set in his ways and old fashioned. It’s interesting that one of his ancestors was the Duke of Wellington and both men saved their country in its hour of need.

 

The book I read to research this post was The Trouble With Markets by Roger Bootle which is an excellent book which I bought from kindle. This book won the 2012 Wolfsson Prize For Economics Books & I think quite rightly. Many people think the current free market economy and the search for wealth is as old as mankind. This book addresses this and apparently the Pilgrim Fathers for example would have thought it was the work of the devil. In times past there was very limited opportunities for people to amass wealth. Generally the wealthy stayed wealthy and the poor remained poor. Many people thought becoming a merchant was against their religion and this book argues that we still haven’t got our economic model quite right. People gave more to charity in times past and thought we have a less satisfying experience in this life as a means of getting eventually to heaven. There is apparently a 60-80 year cycle where the economy repeats itself and currently we are coming out of a great recession. Many banks have over extended themselves and the euro currency in particular is in a crisis. Some banks like Lehmans it has been uneconomical to bail out and others like Northern Rock have been nationalized and then subsequently sold at huge losses. In the 30’s our last great recession the gold standard ended and in those days in the vast majority of countries there was no subsistence of any kind. According to this book inflation in the West will stay relatively stable despite increases in recent years. Many banks gave loans linked to inflation to borrowers the Americans call ninjas which stands for no income, no job & no assets. A few years earlier this loans wouldn’t have been allowed. Funnily enough the financial press did little to warn people and businesses of the dangers. Many of the so called Asian Tiger economies have huge surpluses where as many countries in the West have deficits. Most of these Tiger countries spend little on infrastructure and have minimal restrictions on business so attract lots of investment. This is a very interesting book written in an understandable way & I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

 

The book I read to research this post was British Politics for Dummies by Julian Knight which is an excellent book which I borrowed from the library. In Britain there are 3 major political parties which are the conservative, the labour & the liberal. Scotland has its own parliament which currently is controlled by the scottish nationalists. Wales has an assembly which means the welsh minister can veto laws. Northern Ireland governs itself but is subject to a power sharing arrangement with Britain & Ireland. In Britain we are currently governed by a coalition between the Liberals & the Conservatives. The last time the Liberals governed the country outright was around the time of the 1st World War & the prime minister was David Lloyd George. interestingly his first language was welsh. The Queen is the head of state hence we don’t have a president but in practise the prime minister pulls the strings. There is a trend for more and more media attention centred on the prime minister & he is getting more and more powerful. This is perhaps because uses whips more effectively. Whips are MPs whose job is to make other members of the party toe the line. If an MP rebels the party can withdraw the whip which means at the next election he won’t be able to campaign as a member of that party. Britain is also partly governed by the European Parliament & there was talk of turning the member states into one super state. It has to be said there is considerable opposition to it with in Britain. Also a lot of Eastern European States who have joined the European Union recently are opposed to it because they feel it’s a return to being ruled by outside & it isn’t long ago they were ruled by Russia. The European Union has introduced Euro currency which has been adopted by quite a few members although there has been problems with various member countries getting into debt & having to borrow money. I for one think Britain is better off sticking with the pound. For one thing if we adopted the Euro a lot of companies would take advantage by hiking there prices because very few people would understand the value of the Euro in relation to the pound.