Friday, January 25, 2008

Slouching Towards Brussels & Economic Oppression

And what rough beast,
its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Brussels
to be born?''

My apologies to Yeats, from whom I request some indulgence for the minor rewording of the final stanza of his poem, The Second Coming.

The rough beast to which I refer is the European Union, now about to emerge from the treaty of Lisbon as a super-state and the central government for all its subordinate members. And from the vantage point of the average middle class person in Britain, the EU can only be seen as a rough beast indeed. The economic costs of this beast are only beginning to be felt. They portend to get much worse.

The average per capita GDP in the UK is estimated at £23,500 and is rising at about 2.9% annually. Enter the EU.

Food Costs –

The most basic expense for all people is food. And here, the EU is doing no one any favors. Their insane insistence on biofuel production is taking arable land and world wide agriculture out of the food business and into the energy business. Supplies of food are decreasing while demand is rising world wide. The outcome does not require a degree in economics to figure out. According to a recent Telegraph article, "food prices are accelerating at their fastest rate since records began, fuelling a rise in the average family's shopping bill of £750 a year." And to add insult to injury, we now know that biofuels are far less environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. The global warming enthusiasts at the EU who have politicized the science of climate change for their own ends still have not yet come to grips with that last bit.

Energy Costs –

Get ready for energy costs to make a real rise in the coming decade, compliments of the EU. The estimate right now from Open Europe is that households will have to pay up to £730 a year to fund plans to tackle climate change." That is assuming all goes as planned. The fact is that the numbers might only rise more as the brilliant plans hatched to meet EU targets for renewable energy appear to be boondoggles waiting to happen.

The cleanest source of renewable energy is atomic power which, right now, provides almost 20% of Britain’s energy needs. But aging plants will almost all be decommissioned before 2023, and while plans exist to build some replacement plants, the projection today is that atomic energy will be providing only 7% of Britain’s energy by 2020.

What is planned instead are a series of two very ambitious – and highly questionable – projects to meet the EU targets. The first is Severn Barrage Tidal project which is hoped to provide 5% Britain’s energy needs when built prior to 2020.

The cost of the 10 mile barrage is estimated at a minimum of 15 billion and would be the largest world wide. . . [T]he barrage could . . . provide up to 5% of UK electricity . . . The Renewable Energy Centre released a cautionary statement highlighting its concern that the Government, in its urgency to meet its carbon targets has "plumped for a project which will cost billions of pounds, take over ten years to construct and which may prove in the long term, not to be a cost effective or sustainable solution."

. . . The Barrage relies on the ebb tide and so produces energy only at these times in the tide cycle. Bearing in mind the fundamental principle that electricity can not be stored, this in effect creates supply spikes to the National Grid. In order to keep the power supply constant, the barrage will need to be supported by several gas fired power stations which in turn will produce carbon emissions. This will not only affect the cost effectiveness of the barrage but contradict the aim of finding other energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

Read the entire article. Other problems involve the impact on wildlife and sustainability of the barrage in light of silt build-up.

But then there is the real boondoggle - the insane plan hatched by Labour to turn Britain and its coastline into a giant wind turbine farm. Current plans are to generate 30% of Britain’s energy by wind turbines by the Year 2020.

The problem is that wind turbines are far from effective – and indeed, indications are that relying on wind power for anything over 10% of electricity needs destabilizes the power grid. That said, the one place that wind turbines have been tried in serious numbers – Denmark, which built enough wind turbines to generate 19% of their power needs- there have been all sorts of problems associated with them to the point where all further wind turbine construction has been halted. There is a good essay of the massive negatives associated with wind turbines here, and an excellent essay by Christopher Booker in the Telegraph not long ago. The bottom line is, between the insanity of the Labour government and the hubris of the EU, the middle class Brit is going to be taking it in the shorts on energy costs in the coming decade.

Immigration related costs -

The first thing to understand about immigration is that, for all practical purposes, it is the EU and not Britain which controls Britain’s borders. EU Treaties dating back to the 1957 Treaty of Rome require that Britain open its borders to all people from EU countries. Further, EU law plays the majority role in requiring Britain to allow in people from outside the EU – and than prevents Britain from getting rid of the worst of them.

And immigration into Britain is now at record levels, exceeding half a million foreign nationals each year – with corresponding record levels of British nationals emigrating. Beyond that, "a migrant baby boom is fuelling the fastest growth in the UK's population since the 1960s - with one in every five children now born to foreign mothers." The rate of immigration into the UK and the immigrant baby boom pose to add 50 per cent to today's population" in four decades. Indeed, the number of immigrants is so significant as to threaten the Central Banks controls on inflation. With that in mind, do recall that in 2004, the Home Office was telling Britain that immigration from the new EU states "would be no more than 13,000 a year."

One ramification of this is that now, "in a total of 1,338 primary and secondary schools - more than one in 20 of all schools in England - children with English as their first language are in the minority." This is putting a severe strain on school funding. And not surprisingly, it is putting a severe strain on all aspects of Britain’s infrastructure. Another aspect is the loss of jobs for Brits in their own country. "More than half a million British-born employees have vanished from the UK workforce since the influx of Eastern European immigrants." Gordon Brown made a pledge in September to "create British jobs for British workers" – but has since had to quietly bury the plan because it would be an illegal practice under EU law. One would think the Prime Minister might know how EU law effects his country and his ability to govern – particularly before signing away Britain’s sovereignty to the EU.

The increase in immigration is also driving a corresponding above inflation increase in local council taxes to meet the increasing demands on local infrastructure. The average local council tax is now up to £1,145. The average rise in council taxes is 4%. As an aside, the problems here are being compounded as Labour is redistributing council tax revenues from the strapped south to Labour electoral strongholds in the north.

And lastly, there has been an explosion – in some areas by more than nine-fold - in crime associated with the vast increase in immigrants, particularly those from Romania. They are lured by Britain’s "generous benefits system" and do appear to be making the most of it.

Dane geld to the EU -

Parliament which just approved a massive transfer of wealth to the EU after only a bit more than 3 hours of debate. As the EU Referendum calculates, that works out to a transfer of British tax dollars at a rate of "£481 million a minute." As it stands now, the UK’s "net contributions to the EU will increase from an already horrendously large £4.7 billion" to £10 to £11 billion in 2011. A warning to the UK citizenry – gird your loins and keep your hands on your wallets. The tax man cometh.

EU Regulation of the Economy -

The EU is still in its nascent stages – with its full powers far from reaching their zenith. Yet even now it is apparent that the EU is making "a tireless effort to regulate everything." And of course, all new regulations inevitably impose some financial cost to implement and enforce – and in the EU’s case, to decipher. In addition, many regulations impose additional burdens by raising the price of existing goods and services or making less costly options unavailable. For example, see here, here, here and here.

Then there is the other not quite salutary effects of regulation – making it difficult for new businesses to enter into and compete in highly regulated markets. It would seem the EU excels at that.

Update: See this humorous application of EU regulation. It falls into the category of "you just can't make this stuff up."


So how much, in toto, is all of this going to cost the average Brit, today and a decade from now? If I had a supercomputer and a year to analyze direct and indirect costs, perhaps I might be able to find an answer. In any event, it is fair to say that the costs are already significant and will only rise based on all of the above. Given all the above, the cost of the EU for the average Brit portends to become oppressive over the next decade. The EU is seen by those on its gravy train as a socialist utopia. I doubt that vision will be shared by anyone not on that train, even today. Which is why Europe is in the midst of a coup, with the EU slouching towards Brussels to be born while the people of the UK and Europe are denied any say in its birth.

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