Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Chairman Xi

October 19, 2017

The recent state-of-the-nation address by the Chinese leader Xi Jinping has officially confirmed what most people already expected. China is planning to replace the US as the most powerful nation in the World – economically, politically and militarily. Something that even 20 years ago would have been viewed as a fanciful dream is becoming a reality. This post will look at how and why the West is about to get knocked off its perch.

The most telling part of Xi’s statement is that China does not intend to emulate the West’s political system. This makes perfect sense – to get where the West is now China needs to adopt the solutions the West had used to achieve its current dominance, not the policies it is employing at the moment. What made the West incredibly successful and allowed it to project both hard and soft power to all corners of the World was free-market economy. We need to realise that at present China, although nominally communist, is in fact much more capitalist than any country in the West. This is precisely why it has enjoyed phenomenal rate of unbroken economic growth in the last few decades and is now positioning itself to overtake the Old World. It is the capitalism, stupid!

For the readers of the blog who are too young to know what I am talking about, pure capitalism is a system based on free exchange of goods and services, which limits the government intervention to the matters of public safety and national defence. The closest the West got to it was the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the 19th century US. The problem with capitalism is that the smart and resourceful will get very wealthy while others will not, leading to social tensions fuelled by jealousy. Socialism successfully explored the fractures created by unequal distribution of wealth. Where socialism sparked revolutions (like in Russia, China, Cuba or Cambodia) the citizens quickly became equal but only in their shared misery. All other developed countries suffered a creeping influence of socialist ideas which, eventually, put the West in its current position. So what exactly killed the economic vitality of the Old World?

As individuals, families, social groups or whole countries get comfortable in their success they also become keen to legislate security. But any policy aimed at forcing a particular social outcome goes against the spirit of capitalism and blunts its entrepreneurial thrust. While it may sound morally comforting to fight racism, sexism, discrimination or take from the rich to support the poor all these interventions will hit the growth rate and, eventually, lead to stagnation. If the equality of access to all opportunities on offer were conducive to maximum growth it would have naturally emerged in a capitalist economy, without the need for government intervention. But if we have to legislate to make employers pay taxes for those who do not work, offer child-rearing leaves to both men and women and print fat content on bottled water it is precisely because all those actions kill economic growth. And when tax intake dwindles, to keep funding the bloated social programs, welfare states have to borrow. This is where the West is at present – visionless, overregulated and burdened by debt.

China’s rise to prominence is remarkable because it used the very handicap that had held it back – state authoritarianism – to suppress the social dissent created by wealth inequality. While a socialist revolution in a communist country is unthinkable the Chinese leadership made sure that the rich were allowed to get richer unmolested, making the poor less poor in the process. The stats of China having lifted 500 million of its citizens out of poverty are staggering. This is as perfect an example of benign dictatorship as we will ever see. Compared to China’s effort at eradicating poverty the pathetic, ideologically-driven and ultimately counter-productive actions of the likes of UN are a disgrace.

I wish the communist-capitalist China all success on its path. I also wish the West courage to analyse its failures with a view to reign in the unaffordable welfare programs and re-create conditions for growth.

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Confession time

November 12, 2016

This post may lose da-boss a few followers from the conservative camp but I feel I have to come clean on one important issue in connection with the recent US presidential elections. Despite posting a number of comments on Trump which did not include the obligatory invectives like ‘bigot’, ‘racist’ and ‘dumb’ I actually did not like the guy much.

Apart from his willingness to talk about the issues no one else wanted to touch there was little in his message that impressed me. The throw-away lines about women put him in a bad light. Some of his comments about Muslims were unnecessarily polarising. His rhetoric was hyperbolic and many of the solutions he proposed outright populist. Watching the progressive journos squirm when presented with someone simply calling a spade a spade was priceless but the rest of the spectacle I found quite uninspiring.

At some point however  I started feeling admiration for Trump who singlehandedly took on the whole political establishment of the US. Facing pathetically biased coverage in the media, condemned to defeat by the pundits, dumped on by feminists, Marxists, LGBT crowd and activists of all sorts he just carried on. His persistence was so impressive he earned my genuine respect.

Then, towards the end of the campaign, he moderated his message somewhat proving that rather than a loose cannon he is actually a shrude PR operator. His post-election speech was magnanimous and everything he has done since quite presidential. He was very dignified during his meeting with Obama and even Melania had a cuppa with Michelle as pleasantries were exchanged. This bodes well for a smooth transition of power.

But the main issue with Trump was always going to be his advisers and this is where he impressed me most. Short on political experience, he is looking at hiring some grey heads with many decades at positions of influence between them. Being Washington outsiders they should not be hamstrung by the ideological straight-jacket of political correctness so we can expect some radical changes in the style of governance. After eight years of the Obama nightmare this is an encouraging prospect.

All-in-all I am feeling more positive about the future of the US than I have for a while. They have a president-elect who is visionary and decisive yet seems to understand his limitations when it comes to running the country and is willing to draw on the experience of others. In House and Congress Trump has the support he needs to make his vision into realty.

Good luck to Donald Trump and God bless America.

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Obama’s kiss of death

November 10, 2016

As the dust is settling after the US elections we are beginning to appreciate the circumstances which lead Donald Trump to his stunning victory. One such factor which went unnoticed by most commentators will now be brought to your attention by da-boss. It was the kiss of death delivered on Hillary’s cheek by Barack Obama.

To regular readers of the blog it will come as no surprise I am not an admirer of Mr Obama. In fact I think his political legacy is nothing short of disastrous. Here is the summary of his failings which are well documented by public record:

  • He was repeatedly snubbed by North Korea which carried out a number of nuclear tests on his watch. Obama’s legacy does not include a coherent policy for dealing with Kim Jong-un
  • He was repeatedly snubbed by Iran which carries on its uranium enriching operations. The agreement Obama managed to negotiate is a poor face-saving measure of little substance.
  • He masterminded and carried out military destruction of the political regime in Libya which handed the country to Islamist militias and made it into a staging post for millions of African refugees invading Europe. No policy exists for dealing with the problem.
  • He made absolutely no progress in sorting out the Israel-Palestinian conflict and there is no solution on the horizon.
  • He completely mishandled the Syrian crisis and as a result millions are suffering way more than they did under the despotic rule of Assad. Syria is a mess no one knows how to fix.
  • Through inaction, he has allowed for the formation of the Islamic State – a creation of barbaric religious fanatics hell bent on imposing their ideology on others. Some gains are made in the fight against IS, partly due to the Russian involvement which was a slap on the face for Obama.
  • He fell out with Putin, leading to the new low in the relationships between two nuclear super-powers. On the positive side Trump appears able and willing to repair the damage.
  • He failed to prevent the military expansion of China into the South China Sea.
  • Guantanamo Bay, which he repeatedly vowed to close is still open, after 8 years of his presidency.
  • Domestically, he spent most of his political capital ramming through the ObamaCare plan which in all likelihood will now be dismantled by his successor in the Oval Office.

Given Obama’s disastrous track record of (non) achievement it is no wonder that his unprecedented in the political history of the US public endorsement of Hillary Clinton  turned out to be a kiss of death. As Trump aptly put it nobody wanted another four years of Obama.

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America divided

November 10, 2016

So the US voters have elected Donald Trump as their next president. Most political commentators stress that the bruising election campaign has left the country deeply divided and da-boss agrees. In fact the most precipitous chasm I can see is between the mainstream Americans and the media. The raison d’être of the public media in a democracy is to air and discuss the views of the common people. The media completely missed the depth of the anti-establishment sentiment of the US voters because they had given themselves a different task altogether – to educate the Americans how they should vote.

One comment by a TV reporter last night points directly to the heart of the problem. When referring to the shock result in Florida he said that the pre-election commentaries had focused on the way ethnic – Black, Hispanic – minorities would vote but they missed one minority which ultimately made the difference on the election night. White males without college degree. One obvious question is why the views of this segment of the society had not been given the media attention they deserve? Is it embarrassing for the media elites to present what white, uneducated American males think? And, most importantly – what do they think?

The matters which bug the mainstream Americans are actually quite similar to what worries normal people everywhere. Jobs. Immigration. Bureaucracy. Some ethnic minorities not pulling their weight. Islamic terrorism. They happen to be the issues the mainstream media will not touch with a barge pole because they do not conform to the politically correct view of the World. Opening a serious public discussion on any of these matters would reveal that ordinary people do not care about ideological agendas and simply want the problems sorted out. But the left leaning media will not tolerate airing non-PC views so as a result popular dissatisfaction does not vent which inevitably leads to the emergence of populism. It is the likes of CNN and BBC with their weak, irrelevant coverage of the contentious social issues that created Donald Trump.

One other aspect of the recent events which is quite revealing is that the pundits of the Left are not celebrating the democratic election process. Had Hillary won we would all now be hearing that the people made the “right” choice by shunning a populist and – democratically – electing a progressive candidate. But the left leaning lot has gone silent on the wonders of democracy because it did not deliver the results they were hoping for. This shows that they see democracy not as a goal but rather a vehicle to keep them in positions of influence. Nothing that da-boss did not know but perhaps a sobering thought for some on the Left who still harbour illusion of being in the democratic camp.

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To Trump or not to Trump

September 8, 2016

In my previous posts (for example here and here) I commented on the hatchet job on Donald Trump carried out by the mainstream media. For someone who does not have vested interest in the US election it is mind boggling how the supposedly neutral media outlets chose to relentlessly bag only one of the prospective presidential candidates.

At the risk of stating the obvious I will reiterate that the role of the media is primarily to provide the facts so the public can form their own views. Any opinion pieces or editorials should be balanced in a sense of presenting all sides of the argument and affording the same level of scrutiny to all adversaries. The reason for this is that political propaganda can shape the opinions of a democratic electorate and those who control the media control the collective mind of the nation. Goebbels knew it when he said:

“It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be moulded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

The effect of bringing down a presidential hopeful by a concerted effort of the media would extend well beyond the results of the current election cycle in the US. If successful, it would pave the way for a social manipulation of Orwellian proportions carried out on our free, modern societies. It is primarily on these ground I am finding myself in Trump’s camp. And it seems I am not the only person feeling this way:

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton start the race to November 8 on essentially even ground, with Trump edging Clinton by a scant two points among likely voters

Yes, you read it right – despite the barrage of negativity poured on Trump by the media he is now ahead of Clinton in the polls! I guess it goes to show that political propaganda can sometimes backfire.

The other reason I am increasingly warming up to Donald Trump is that desperate times call for desperate measures and the times are desperate indeed. We all know what a Hillary Clinton reign in the White House would look like. Four more dreary years of rehearsed, meaningless speeches and sucking up to the rogue states like North Korea, Iran and ISIS, while the US are sinking under the burden of debt. Trump at least offers a chance to shake up the fundamentals and set the US on a new path. Being unpredictable, he also comes with a huge risk profile but increasingly it looks like the US voters are prepared to take the gamble.

Faced with a prospect of living in a country run by Hillary Clinton I would be too.

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What did Trump actually say?

July 28, 2016

There is a new trend in the use of English language by the journalists. A text given in quotation marks used to represent the exact words of the person involved. Now take a look at the attached screenshots. BBC are claiming (twice) that Trump encouraged Russia to “hack” Clinton’s emails. “Hack” is given in quotation marks so one would assume that this is the term Trump has used – right? Wrong. He has not. What he said was:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,”

The same thing? Not necessarily. It is normal for spy agencies to snoop on email traffic. This in fact is exactly why Clinton’s use of private email account to conduct federal business is problematic! So what Trump said can be viewed as asking Russians to release the hacked emails already in their possession, if indeed they have them. Not encouraging them to hack but only to publicise what they have already hacked. The exact meaning of what he said can be argued both ways but what one cannot do is give one particular interpretation of what Trump said as a direct quote.

So what do the BBC title lines actually refer to? Was it one editor who told his colleague that Trump (in this editor’s opinion) “encourages Russia to hack Clinton emails” and the other guy dutifully put it in as a quote because he heard it from someone? Should the BBC not make it clearer that the person quoted is not Trump but rather someone presenting they personal view on what Trump meant? But let us check how the title lines would read with the actual words Trump used:

Trump to Russia: ‘find the 30,000 emails that are missing’

and:

US election: Trump encourages Russia to ‘find’ Clinton emails

They do not have the same sensational ring to them as the “hack” versions, do they? Maybe this is why BBC decided to embellish them.

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Brexit

June 29, 2016

Much as I predicted, less than a week after the referendum the financial markets are already recovering the modest losses resulting from the initial political uncertainty:

Pressure has eased on UK financial markets after two days of turmoil in the wake of the Brexit vote, with the FTSE 100 share index closing higher.

In a month or so it will be business as usual, with both the UK and the EU countries repositioning themselves to face the new economic reality. But how different will it really be? The UK products which are competitive will still find buyers on the continent and elsewhere and the ones which only survived on EU subsidies will disappear. Good riddance! As long as all players allow the market forces to take the lead the whole Brexit affair will turn out to be an economic non-event. If (or rather: when) that happens will the “experts” prophesising economic melt-down and recession in the UK:

Leaving the European Union would tip the UK into a year-long recession, with up to 820,000 jobs lost within two years, Chancellor George Osborne says. Publishing Treasury analysis he said a Leave vote would cause an “immediate and profound” economic shock, with growth between 3% and 6% lower.

lose their cushy jobs? Time will tell but I suspect they will just move on to comment on the economic impact of global warming by 2100, the costs of “inequality” and “gender gap” or some other imponderable nonsense.

So we know that the UK will be leaving the EU but will the Euro-apparatchiks take this blow to their beloved Marxist creation on the chin and just quietly move on? It does not appear so:

A central figure in the Leave campaign, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, was booed, called a liar and accused of using “Nazi propaganda”.

The EU-philes are now resorting to personal attacks against those who channelled and facilitated the collective will of the Brits. It is ironic that the worshippers of democracy gathered in the European Parliament scoff at the democratic decision made by the citizens of one of its member states. So is democracy only good when it promotes Marxist collectivism? In any case the UK PM David Cameron is keen to make the transition smooth and painless:

“I’ll be explaining that Britain will be leaving the European Union but I want that process to be as constructive as possible,” he told reporters before the summit’s working dinner in Brussels.

This presumably means initiating informal negotiations, in preparation for the official withdrawal from the EU. But Angela Merkel will have none of that:

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said there can be no talks on Brexit before the UK formally begins the process of leaving the EU.

Her confrontational stance is aimed at discouraging other states from leaving the EU by making the transition costly for the UK. This belligerent tactic is very short-sighted and will backfire against Ms Merkel who is now styling herself as a head bully of the EU.

The way the Brexit drama plays out will provide us with both entertainment and reflection for months to come.

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Democracy under attack

May 23, 2016

You may have heard that with the resurgence of the right-wing politics in Europe the democracy is being threatened. Sadly, this observation is correct. One recent example of the anti-democratic tendencies in the political life of Europe comes from the birth place of one Adolf Hitler – Austria.

You see, Austria held democratic presidential elections in which the leader of the right-wing Freedom Party appears to have won the mandate. The Austrians expressed their democratic right, enshrined in the Austrian laws and (one would have thought) supported by the EU. However, in an act of unprecedented anti-democratic interference:

The presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz, have both expressed concern over a Hofer victory.

It is crucial to understand that Messrs Juncker and Schulz were not concerned that the Austrian elections have been rigged – they were concerned that the democratic choice of the Austrian people did not align with their preferences! The events in Austria come on top of the disgraceful attack by a mob of left-wing thugs on a conference organised by Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD):

About 1,000 police were deployed to keep supporters apart from left-wing protesters, who blocked roads, burned tyres and threw firecrackers. (…) A police spokesman said protesters threw stones at officers and let off fireworks in their direction. 

AfD are a perfectly legal political party which exercised their democratic right to congregate, when attacked. This time, unlike during the New Years events in Hamburg, the police were out in force and managed to control the rioting mob allowing the conference to continue.

You may also be aware of the violent attacks against the Donald Trump supporters in the USA (for example here and here).

I have no doubt that all the progressive lefties who have been going on and on about the need to protect democracy in the West – you know, the Assange and Snowden admirers – will now come out swinging against the anti-democratic actions of their mates.

Or will they?

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What was Donald’s trump card? (2)

May 5, 2016

To understand why Donald Trump is so popular among the American electorate – and also why the mainstream media completely misjudged the level of public support for him – let us take a look at an article published in Huffington Post after the Indiana primaries:

Happy first day of a half year of living with the possibility (however remote we have to believe it to be in order to stay sane) that Donald Trump — this crass and crude boor, this bloodthirsty psychopath, this Brobdingnagian narcissist, this proudly misogynistic ignoramus, this pus-filled boil of hate, this odious short-fingered vulgarian — could be the 45th President of the United States.

Now, I do not know Mr Slansky for a bar of soap but this is a vile, deranged, vulgar verbal assault. That a foul, abusive outburst like this even got published is a testament to the general attitude of the people controlling the contents of the media. It does not however reflect the mood of the American public at large. Wherein lies the problem.

As I wrote in March 2016:

I do not have a horse in the US presidential race but Trump’s willingness to openly talk about things other politicians consider off-limits is refreshing

Trump’s meteoric rise to prominence shows that I am not the only person sick to the back teeth of the politically correct garbage coming from the politicians. But this rift between the political elites and grass-root US was only allowed to develop because the media cozied up with Washington and became a de facto part of the official establishment. The American public is disillusioned not only with the tedious, visionless politics of their elected representatives but also with the media blind to the frustrations of the electorate. You would think that the editors have learned from the recent events but obviously they have not because all we are getting from them is more patronising. The way things are going it is not Trump but the likes of Huffington Post becoming irrelevant.

The most succinct and insightful analysis of the current situation I have come across was recently published in the UK’s tabloid, Mirror. It summarises the reasons why Trump is so popular in five bullet points:

He’s a TV star

He’s straight-talking

He’s a Washington outsider

He’s funding his own campaign

He dislikes immigrants

Like it or lump it, the American public is fed up with professional politicians eloquently spouting sleek phrases which sound comforting but carry no meaning. They are also over the self-important media telling them what to think and say. No prizes for guessing that da-boss has a degree of sympathy for both these sentiments.

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What was Donald’s trump card? (1)

May 5, 2016

First, congratulations to Donald Trump for winning the Republican nomination. He did it against heavy odds – in a truly American style dare I say! In this post I will look at the reasons behind his popular appeal and also at the way the media covered his remarkable rise to prominence.

Over the last 11 months we have been treated to a campaign of attacks against Donald Trump orchestrated by the left-leaning media (which these days includes pretty much all media, bar some independent internet based news services). Trump was demonised as racist, bigot, liar, misogynist, sexist, ignoramus, Islamophobe – you name it and the epithet was probably used against him by someone somewhere. To make absolutely sure no sane American would ever considered voting for him a series of articles prophesising his imminent demise was published in print and online. A handy reference of these embarrassingly biased predictions is reproduced here for your enjoyment:

“Our emphatic prediction is simply that Trump will not win the nomination. It’s not even clear that he’s trying to do so.” (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, Aug. 11)

“Historians looking back will peg the beginning of the end of the Trump show to his New Hampshire moment last week.” (Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post, Sept. 22)

“Trump has every right to run. This is a democracy after all. But what he should not get is covered as though this is an even-close-to-serious attempt to either win the Republican nomination or influence the conversation in GOP circles in any significant way. It’s not.” (Chris Cillizza, The Fix, June 17)

“The chance of his winning [the] nomination and election is exactly zero.” (James Fallows, the Atlantic magazine, July 13)

“Trump is no more going to actually win the nomination than Sanders is.” (Matthew Yglesias, Vox, Aug. 5)

“Trump is toast after insult: ‘McCain not a war hero.'” (New York Post cover, July 19)

“Donald Trump is going to lose because he is crazy.” (Jonathan Chait, New York magazine, Aug. 26)

“When the primaries arrive early next year, the Trump vote will subdivide further among the other Republican tortoises. If he stays in, Donald Trump becomes another presidential also-ran. With ostentation suitable to his stature, Mr. Trump should retire to a skybox, and enjoy what he has wrought.” (Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30)

“Donald Trump is not going to be the next president of the United States. This reporter is already on record pledging to eat a bag of rusty nails if the real estate tycoon with the high hair manages to snag the GOP nomination, much less takes down likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton next fall.” (Ben White, CNBC, July 17)

“Now, seriously, does anyone other than The Donald truly believe his fame and fortune are going to get him anywhere in a Republican presidential primary, let alone a general election? His candidacy has been a joke from the start. He makes for great copy, but so did Jack the Ripper.” (Peter Fenn, U.S. News & World Report, July 20)

“We’re told from (pretty much) every analyst out there — liberal, conservative, doesn’t matter — to not take Trump seriously, and they’re right.” (Joe Concha, Mediaite, July 9)

“It’s going to be Rubio. I’m telling you: It’s going to be Rubio.” (David Brooks, New York Times columnist on NBC, Jan. 24)

Topping it all off is the delightfully idiotic statement by Dana Milbank who is now preparing to eat the paper it was printed on:

Trump will lose, or I will eat this column

I realise that opinion pieces in the media are there to stir up interests and generate discussion but how could so many leading journalists and commentators get their predictions so consistently wrong over such a long period of time? How come they could not see what was coming?

What was Donald’s trump card? (2)

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Is the West busy living or busy dying?

March 24, 2016

In the aftermath of the Brussels bombings the Western media pore over trivialities like the timeframe of the attacks, hash tags supporting Belgium, share market reactions etc. Missing from the public debate is a discussion of the reasons why a political bloc of 500 million well-educated Europeans ended up fighting what amounts to a civil war with the cultural invaders embedded deep in its body. As usual, da-boss is only too happy to fill this information gap for you!

As mentioned in another post“A culture amounts to a set of values complete with the population willing to uphold them”. Absent one of these a culture disintegrates. The West is in a doubly precarious situation because its shrinking population seems unwilling to uphold any values apart from the selfish, hedonistic brand of freedom. Tragically, the understanding that civilisations fall when cultures underpinning them rot has also been lost as the corpse of once-great Europe is inching its way towards oblivion.

The most fundamental reason Europe is on its knees is that it lost the confidence in being the most advanced and humanistic culture on offer. It lost pride in its historic achievements and any vision for the future. It lost the competitiveness in manufacture and commerce. It lost the edge created by the urge of its inhabitants to achieve greatness in their lives. It lost the willingness to defend what it stands for – partly because it does not stand for much these days. In short, the West has lost the will to live. Distracted by secondary issues like gender equality, cultural sensitivity or apologising for the historic wrongs it is blind to the processes which will soon make worrying about such subtleties an unaffordable luxury. What is on display is a suicidal example of muddled, leftist thinking ushered in by decades of prosperity.

Inside the straight jacket of political correctness and multi-culturalism there is no way for Europe as we know it to defend its identity. Anyone warning that the Muslim immigrants aspire to values incompatible with the Western ways will be branded a racist. Those advocating taking action to fight the threat will be viewed as fascists. Europe, out of misconceived charity, has created a set of advanced social rules which will not protect it from a cultural and demographic assault by the adherents of less humanistic but more robust values. In Brussels and elsewhere the police wear body armour and the Islamists don explosive vests showing the difference in the value systems they adopt – one protecting life and the other destroying it.

I am afraid that the gloomy scenarios I have been describing on this blog for the last four years are now becoming a reality.

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To TPPA or not to TPPA?

March 14, 2016

Assessing an agreement like TPPA is an exercise in the economy of thinking. It is next to impossible for someone without background in economy (and a lot of time on their hands!) to fully analyse such a complex multi-layered document and understand all its implications. When facing challenges like this I personally use intellectual shortcuts which provide a reasonable idea where things are at without me having to spend an inordinate amount of time on studying the issue.

I first look at the big picture – by that I mean mainly where the proposal is placed in the spectrum spanning between individual freedom and government control. Since I naturally support “freedom friendly” solutions this in itself is a good indication what a more detailed study of the issue would reveal. An alternative expression of the above polarity is defined by how a proposal relates to the concept of income redistribution, where I tend to favour “you own your income” side of the argument. It is very clear that TPPA, being a free-trade agreement, eliminates government regulation which is a tick in my book.

Then I try to analyse the overall, aggregated impact of a proposal on all sides involved – a size-of-pie type assessment. It is tempting to think that life is a zero-sums game but quite often the decisions we make have either overwhelmingly positive or largely negative consequences. Restrictions to free trade have a detrimental impact on the global economy because the goods end up produced not where it is economically justified but rather where consumers manage to protect their national industries with tariffs. I guess the Icelanders could grow grapes but they would be more expensive than the ones imported from Greece. Icelandic grape-growers would benefit from tariffs but their compatriots would all be out of pocket (along with the Greeks) which means more losers than winners in this particular scenario. Applying similar logic, TPPA gets a second tick.

But it would be arrogant for me to rely solely on my own judgement, particularly when analysing processes I do not fully comprehend. Since every man and his dog have a view on TPPA which ones can one trust? Well, I have identified one particular source of opinions which has historically been in polar opposition to my own convictions – it is the official stance of the NZ Greens Party. On issues ranging from minimum wage and oil exploration to whaling the Greens pronouncements have always gone against what I consider common sense so it stands to reason that their view on TPPA should also be the opposite of mine. This is a third tick.

It would be great to have time and intellectual capacity to get to the bottom of every issue before forming an opinion on it but this is simply not realistic. Life throws up challenges every day and one needs to respond to them with limited information at one’s disposal. I, for one, like TPPA.

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