Oh my…

There’s sabre-rattling, bitching and moaning – and then there’s this:

The vast majority of European countries – all those that lose out because of the existence of these tax havens – should unite in a determined effort to end these countries’ ability to offer safety to tax evaders by granting anonymity, confidentiality and secrecy. The exact modalities may differ from case to case. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man should simply be absorbed lock, stock and barrel into the UK, with English laws, rules and regulations applying across the board. The special status of these strange entities is not cute; it’s an enabler and facilitator of unethical and illegal behaviour. The EU should adopt a directive on bank secrecy that would end the nefarious practices of Luxembourg and Austria. Belgian dentists will just have to get used to paying taxes. Andorra, Monaco and Liechtenstein should be given the choice of ending bank secrecy or facing annexation (by France and (once it abandons its bank secrecy laws) Austria respectively).

Right. Let’s start killing people over taxes. Great idea, Mr Buiter.

As Mr Mitchell notes, he’s not quite as aggressive when talking about Switzerland:

But he is much less bellicose in the case of Switzerland, perhaps because every able-bodied male is a member of the militia and possesses a fully-automatic machine gun.

Good thing they decided to keep their air force, eh?

In another vote on Sunday, the Swiss overwhelmingly rejected a ban on training flights by the Swiss Air Force over tourist areas.
The people’s initiative, launched by an environmental group, was aimed at silencing the noise of fighter jets in these areas.
Nearly seven out of ten voters and all 26 cantons rejected the proposal.

Mitchell’s at it again

I just love this guy. 😉

Here’s part one on the Laffer Curve:

You might also want to check out Mitchell on tax competition and cutting the US corporate tax rate.

Al-Sadr extends truce

As The Economist reported last week:

Iraqis must hope that his boss keeps things that way, said the sheikh, whose tribe includes both Sunnis and Shias. If Mr Sadr’s men return to their “old ways”, he said, Baghdad and Iraq could be divided for ever.

and:

As the six-month truce nears its end and speculation rises as to whether Mr Sadr will renew it, other leading figures in his movement note a bellicose impatience among the rank and file.

Well, turns out Mr Sadr himself isn’t feeling all that bellicose. As CNN reports:

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has extended the cease-fire he imposed last summer on his Mehdi Army militia for another six months, al-Sadr’s office in Baghdad said on Friday.

I guess that’s generally good news and certainly a whole lot better than the alternative. Still, it’s doubtful whether Mr Sadr is really all that interested in working together with the United States. So the general message stays the same: fix the place up just enough to keep it from exploding and then get the hell out of there. For the strategy, this seems a good development. As for Mr McCain’s ‘Let’s stay in Iraq for a hundred years’ – not so much. It remains to be seen whether Iraq can turn into a real democracy – something like Pakistan seems to have achieved with its current election. But then, that one’s probably too early to be called a success.

Talks

I’ve talked about it in my introduction: Talks.

In the future there will be some Talks about a given topic. Either midmull or I will start a post as draft with Title “[Talk] Topic”, and write a little something (hopefully controversial) about it. Then the other will respond until either a conclusion is reached or we’re tired of discussing that particular topic.

Here’s how a Talk could look like:

[Talk] Is abortion bad?

d: Yes, definitely. (I have to say that, since midmull will say, it’s not.)

m: Oho, I disagree. Every pregnant woman has the right to choose.

d: And hasn’t the unborn child a right to live?

m: No.

d: Let’s agree to disagree, then.

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Open Source & Liberalism

Since I am quite fond of the idea of open source, I wanted to know how it would be compatible with the idea of liberalism.

Let’s start with a small introduction to open source. I’ll just copy the open source definition:

  1. Free Redistribution: the software can be freely given away or sold. (This was intended to encourage sharing and use of the software on a legal basis.)
  2. Source Code: the source code must either be included or freely obtainable. (Without source code, making changes or modifications can be impossible.)
  3. Derived Works: redistribution of modifications must be allowed. (To allow legal sharing and to permit new features or repairs.)
  4. Integrity of The Author’s Source Code: licenses may require that modifications are redistributed only as patches.
  5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups: no one can be locked out.
  6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor: commercial users cannot be excluded.
  7. Distribution of License: The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
  8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product: the program cannot be licensed only as part of a larger distribution.
  9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software: the license cannot insist that any other software it is distributed with must also be open source.
  10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral: no click-wrap licenses or other medium-specific ways of accepting the license must be required.

This example shows that the idea of open source does not necessarily have to be applied to software only.

Of course, in a liberal state open source would not be banned, because it is my own decision whether I want to distribute software that I wrote as open source or not. But why would anyone want to write a piece of software (or invent something, since open source isn’t just for software, as noted above) and not profit from it (in a financial way)? From what I’ve gathered, liberalism is all about proper payment. If I work for someone, I get what my employer is willing to pay for my work, and if that isn’t enough I just don’t work for him. If someone damages my property, he will have to pay something to compensate me for my loss. You see where I’m getting at?

So where does open source fit in? It’s the payment, that differs. Who said, that payment has always to be money? You can be paid recognition, knowledge, an inner sense of having done something good, a.s.o. and that’s what open source is founding on.

Now lets finish by learning something about the efficiency of open source, or in other words: How can open software be any good, if you don’t have to pay money for it? Well lets compare open source software to proprietary software:

  • Open source software generally has a much faster release cycle. The linux distribution ubuntu for example has a new version release about every 4-6 months, where windows vista came 6-7 years after windows xp. This means, that in open source projects almost constantly new features are introduced and improvements made.
  • In open source software, bugs are much faster discovered and solved than in proprietary software. (proof) Proprietary developers need about 7-8 days, where open source developers need 8 hours at average. This has to to with, the free availability of the code (so anyone can take a look at it) and the vast base of contributors to open source projects.
  • Open source software integrates better into other applications. That is because of the fact, that open source has to work well with other applications because the developer can’t anticipate where and in what context his piece of software will be used. (Documentation is also very important)

But which brings us further the most? Does open source or proprietary software contribute more to our collective progress? The advantage with open source is, that you can build upon every open source program that has ever been written, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and you therefore can focus on just creating something new, rather than creating something new and therefore creating the whole underlying base first. This means, if used, faster development. Which, in the end, means faster progress, and how can you seriously be against progress?

Scott Garrett on Government Bailout of the Banking Industry

Well, apart from the fact that I’m not exactly a huge fan of Glenn Beck…interesting clip. Don’t really think there was any great alternative in the Northern Rock quagmire – well, there obviously was: the one that should have happened (i.e. ‘not the government’s problem’). But then again, this really is one of those issues where you have to take a hard look at the facts and ask yourself whether you’re really willing to accept the dire consequences that would undoubtedly have happened if the government’s around the world had done ‘the right thing’ – recession, and a pretty bad one at that (in the Northern Rock case there would have been a bit of a bigger bank run, too – and it might have happened to other banks).

So yeah, in the short run – swallow the additional inflation and accept what has to be done. Doesn’t mean I like it one bit and it certainly does not make that whole fiscal stimulus idea any better – that’s still a crappy idea and won’t do any good. In the long run – it’s probably just about time for some pretty big reforms.

danielquenton

Hi, there

I guess this is going to be the introduction of myself, so lets get over it (more quickly, than midmull, I hope…).

I’m a university student in a reasonably big european City (I study engineering there), I’m twenty and a half years old and I just decided to start a blog.

Firstly something of what I think this blog is going to be about. As I suspect I am not only going to be midmulls adversary in (hopefully) many, very controversial “Talks” (Lets call them talks, since there will hardly be any monologues here – or so I hope, because I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing (or for the audience – nothing against you, dear reader), but also for my own sake, to broaden my horizon and to test and improve my views) but also will I try to be the word of reason, when midas (did I just write that? – I mean midmull, of course), is once again stuck in his views.

As of my views, I won’t give you a list (as midmull did) of what my main topics are, since I don’t know myself, just as of yet. I have found in the last couple of years, that I didn’t have the fixed, well tested views, as I suspected. When I read Atlas Shrugged, I began to recognize the very simple logic behind it, which I found quite compelling. I was very fond of social security and such, back then, but this was set to change. I realized that liberalism was the way to go, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. But as compelling and simple liberalism may sound, in practice there are still many issues that aren’t as black an white as some libertarians want us think they are. So lets call me a skepticist, since that’s what I’ve been since I can think.

Well, that’s it. Approximately 300 words, just half of what midmull wrote, so it’s ok I guess.

Ah, the raw numbers, I forgot.

  • Economic Left/Right: 5.38
  • Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.15