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The Tom Sawyer Principle (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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In: London
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So, Mexico has a new left-wing government. Assuming this is a reality and not the old gang with a PR makeover, permit me to chart its future course:

1. Great success. Popular reforms are enacted. Increased economic activity as wealth is redistributed from the rich (who hold on to their money) to the poor (who have to spend it).
2. Increased economic activity slows as investment starts to decline (the rich invest their money, the poor have to spend it).
3. Government reacts by enacting more radical reforms.
4. Investment declines further as the rich start taking their money out of Mexico and foreign investment starts drying up.
5. Economic activity goes into reverse due to lack of investment.
6. Government enacts even more radical measures to prevent the rich taking their money out of Mexico (i.e. they take their money) and nationalises foreign companies (i.e. they take their money).
7. There are now no new sources of investment so economy goes into free fall.
8. Government (quite truthfully) blames the decline on ‘counter-revolutionaries’ both domestic and foreign.
9. With everything on the skids, the increasingly unpopular Government has no choice but to rule by force.
10. Everybody waits to see how, when (and occasionally) whether the status quo ante will be restored.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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They need to get on with their expropriation before new digital currencies stop all this bollox.
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Mick Harper
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I fear you are mistaking form for function. None of this is affected by whatever currency is being used -- except that the peso will decline in value, at first gently, then rapidly and finally (vide Venezuela) vertiginously. Rich Mexicans can shift their cash peso holdings into dollars and into foreign bank accounts immediately. They probably already have. What they won't do, and what foreign investors won't do, is invest in the Mexican economy.
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Mick Harper
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The Left always make this mistake. They work out what is desirable (which it almost always is) and assume it is possible (which it almost always isn't). When it turns out not to be possible they do not say, “Aw shucks, that one didn’t work, we must try something else.” They say, “It didn’t work because we were insufficiently radical. We won’t be making that mistake again.”

We shall see this syndrome when Jeremy takes over. Remember, the Left's current programme consists entirely of polices from the quite distant past viz. socialism (1850's), unionism (1890's), municipal ownership (1900's), welfarism (1910's), public ownership (1940's), free health provision (1940's), unlitateralsim (1960's). Now I do not say these are 'the failed policies of the past' -- AEists hold to the dictum that everything is up for grabs all the time -- only that
a) our own dear Leftists are incurably reactionary and
b) the hard Left will make the changes stick. For a time.
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Mick Harper
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Since radical policies almost always never work, the Left has to have an all-purpose explanation for why they don't work. Leftists tend to live in countries where radical policies are seldom tried so this generally consists of having to explain why one or other foreign country's radical policies haven't worked. It is a bonus if you can show that the failure was due to policies followed by the country you do live in as this, as it were, kills two birds with one stone.

The classic example is Cuba. As I've pointed out before Cuba went from being among the wealthiest of countries (equal in GNP per head to Ireland) when Castro took power to being among the poorest (second only to Haiti among Latin American countries) now. This vertiginous decline was due to the actions of the USA of course. Though ludicrous this explanation could at least be made to 'fit the facts'.

But the Americans learned from this and took some care not to interfere with the Venezuelan Revolution so while the Left (especially the Venezuelan Left) talked darkly of 'foreign forces' they have been forced to utilise other explanations. The fall in the price of oil being the main one though this is not emphasised so much now that most of the fall has been clawed back, but the vertiginous decline continues apace. Now they have to talk darkly of 'internal forces' and this is inconvenient because a) their foreign radical allies tend to lose interest and b) it gives heart to the internal forces.

The Daniel Ortega story is particularly instructive.
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Mick Harper
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The Sandinistas of Nicaragua were originally a standard radical insurgency. As in Cuba, its success was largely dependent on a) its glamour appeal to foreign and domestic audiences and b) the appallingness of the governing regime. But again the USA had learned a trick or two so, unlike Cuba, it helped put down the Leftists before they could come to power.

But the Leftists in America had learned a trick or two as well and the whole arms-for-hostages Iran/Contra scandal blew up in the Americans’ face and they were forced to change tack. Free and fair elections were ordained for Nicaragua. The Sandinistas losing the elections was a bitter blow for Leftists worldwide but then the perils of democracy were exposed because of course Nicaragua continued to be poor whether its government was appalling or not. Eventually the Sandinistas won power democratically via the ordinary course of people being fed up with no jam today and not much in prospect tomorrow. Daniel Ortega, the charismatic leader of the Sandinistas, had rebranded himself as your ordinary left wing alternative so came to power in the ordinary way via the democratic seesaw.

Naturally the Sandinistas ran into the same problem so now Daniel Ortega has rebranded himself once more and is introducing death squads and all the other attributes of appalling regimes whose time is up but don’t want to go. It will be interesting to see how the Left worldwide handles this situation. Liquidating kulaks is generally OK but there is a decided lack of kulaks in Nicaragua. My prediction is 'careful ignoral' on the grand scale.
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Mick Harper
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An interesting programme last night on 'wrecking'. There is always ambivalence towards 'getting something for nothing' situations -- a shrug if you're getting, tut-tutting if you're not. And so it is with coastal communities and their attitudes to shipwrecks. However none of us are interested in such niceties. All we want to hear about is those people who shine lights in order to cause shipwrecks. Two things are rarely mentioned:

1. There is not a single known example of such a thing happening, which given the number of individuals required to carry out the crime -- and the number of individuals who might survive the crime -- is more than puzzling.
2. One thing a ship in peril on the sea is unlikely to do is head for 'lights'. Don't sailors know that lights betoken a coastline and approaching a coastline at night in rough weather is the very last thing you would do? You go the exact other way. That's why we have light houses.

Still, it confirms the AE dictum that exciting but false history is generally preferred to dull but truthful history.
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Mick Harper
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Spot the AE error

I've spent much of this year submerged in verse as chair of judges for the 2018 Forward prizes for poetry, alongside fellow judges (and poets) Mimi Khalvati, Niall Campbell, Chris McCabe and Jen Campbell. Guardian Review
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Hatty
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Never heard of the four poet-judges though doubtless they're top in their field.

When it comes to writing prizes, say the Man Booker, the names of the judges are well known even if the contenders aren't. Says a lot, or rather not very much, about poetry.
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Mick Harper
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Nope, try again.
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