June 07, 2006

Food Aid

Glad to see a righteous and straightforward prescription for what ails some poor parts of the world:

The answers to Somali's - and much of Africa's - problems are not easy, but they are simple. They need to be weaned off overseas aid and helped to stand unaided. Two straightforward steps are required above all else.

First, as Mustafa Yusuf, pastoral development manager from Oxfam Jijiga, says: "The land tenure system prevents farmers from fully investing in the land, which is all state-owned. If the land was privatised … Ethiopia would have the potential to feed itself."

Somali certainly has the potential to produce more food: Ethiopia's second largest river, the Wabi Shebelle, weaves through it, and thousands of hectares of cultivable land await irrigation. But that will require investment, of the sort that the government cannot afford and no temporary tenant would be able to borrow the money for. Ethiopia needs clear property rights and a private banking system.

There is a place for food aid, in those rare conditions when famine is actually as a result of a shortage of food. Far more common is famine due to one sector of society losing its purchasing power, something  that is best solved by giving those poor money with which to stimulate imports and future production.

But this handing out of food aid all the time?

This volume has risen steadily since food aid began in the 1980s.

25 years worth and we still have aid dependency? Obviously something wrong with the current system don’t you think? One problem:

So-called emergency aid also induces corruption. The World Food Programme (WFP) donates the majority of food handed out in Somali. Donors, mainly from USAid and the EU, provide the money with which the food is bought. The WFP gives it to the federal Ethiopian government organisation, which distributes it through the misnamed Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA).

When food comes from above, through officials rather than from below through farmers, it is the officials who make the profits. Numerous sacks never arrive where they are meant to, having been taken by district officials and the Ethiopian army.

So that’s several institutions quite happy with the current system.

Substantial grain producers, such as America, subsidise their farmers to produce wheat, which is then bought and shipped to poor countries. This is a bonus, because surplus food costs huge amounts to store, and American shipping companies also benefit.

That’s another. This might surprise some but it has actually been the Bush Administration that has called for changes to this system. Instead of shipping US crops on US ships they asked to have some of the budget freed up so that local produce could be bought. Speeds up response times, stimulates rather than depresses local production and so on.

Killed by Congresscritters from the farm states. A nice (and depressing) example of public choice theory. Governmental decisions do not get taken on the basis of what is best for the people. Rather, on the basis of what is best for those taking the decisions.

June 7, 2006 in Justice Mussellbeet | Permalink | Comments (5)

June 06, 2006

Morgan Stanley Vs. Meow

There’s a gentleman out there, a certain Richrad Hill, who works as a Panellist for the National Arbitration Service. Working out who has a right to a domain name and who is simply copying or passing off, that sort of thing.

Flagged up in The Telegraph today and here’s the full judgement. Overlawyered rather likes it too.

Me? I think Mr. Hill fell, in his youth, under the pernicious influence of a shadowy, now dead, figure, known only to the world as "Beachcomber". I just bet he was searching for a way to get a red-bearded dwarf into that judgement somewhere.

Viva Justice Cocklecarrot!

June 6, 2006 in Justice Mussellbeet | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 18, 2004

Hunting Wild Mammals With Dogs.

You may or may not know this but one of the varied carnivals that roam around the blogosphere is the Storyblogging Carnival. I’ll post a link to the next edition when it comes out. What lies below the fold is my most recent entry. 5 geek points to the first person who guesses whose stories I am ripping off borrowing from.
It probably won’t make much sense to someone not au fait with British politics but there we go.
If anyone actually knows of any markets for stuff like this please do let me know.

Story Starts:

The following is the summing up in a case recently heard by Lord Justice Mussellbeet in London, a case which turned on a tricky part of law which is why it was heard by His Augustness.

" In the case of Rex v. Otis we originally faced a certain trepidation, for we know all of the participants in the case from that more minor world outside these august Halls of Justice. Ever mindful of how the crawling worms of the gutter press would represent the matter we did think, for moments, of recusing ourselves. Fortunately our normal sanity prevailed, for everyone knows that an English Judge would never allow such trivia as personal matters to interfere with the even-handed adminstration of justice, indeed, even to think such a thing is of a treasonable nature. When applied to a Lord Justice such as ourself it is of course blasphemous. Having set your minds at rest on this matter, as might be necessary for those of you unaware of the spirit with which the law is administered in this pleasant land, I shall now proceed to the matter and case at hand.
Put simply, the dogs of Otis killed the elderly pet of Miss Booth, Spinster of Islington.  He is therefore being prosecuted under the new Hunting Bill.
Fleshing out the personae dramatae as it were, we also have Chief Steward Prescott who has had the joy of serving me many a gin and tonic during our peregrinations on the Cunard Liners. Mr. Prescott lodges with the Good Spinster when ashore. The prosecution barrister, acting for the Crown in this case is that nice young Mr Blair, who for once appears to have laid aside his pamphleteering for the Fabian Society to actually practice some law. Scribble, scribble scribble,eh Mr Blair? That in a previous case we threatened to feed his wig to the bailiff if he flashed his toothy grin at the jury again is of no matter, you are confident enough of our impartiality. 
The defendant, Otis, has defended himself which is not a course we usually advise but in the matter of this young shaver we have no doubt it has been the correct decision. The expense of a lawyer would have been wasted.
We first met this young man after he had broken into Parliament with the intention of biffing a politician on the nose, indeed we were there when the Lord Mayor presented him with the handsome sum of 25 guineas from public funds for his actions. This capital, along with further smaller sums raised by public subscription is what enabled him, as he had to under that Hunting Bill, change his business from one of ridding the countryside of pests in the form of foxes, to ridding the city of them. Under the name of the Fleet Street Pack we have found him most useful in recent months.
We have been upbraided during the course of this trial for continually referring to Otis by that name, Mr. Blair arguing that it shows some measure of disrespect. So sad to see that this Scottish interloper misunderstands the English so badly, for it is one of the glories that binds us together as a nation, that the honest working classes and the aristocracy change their names through their life according to a well understood set of rules. Viscount at birth, Earl or Marquis in middle age, attaining the rank of Duke in the fullness of time when finally the patriarch of the family. Just as with those who have the honour to tug forelocks, at birth, young Otis, when his grandfather has passed on, Otis, and becoming Mr at the point that his father expires and he achieves his full patriarchal majority. That his father was seduced by the bright lights of boogie woogie and bobby soxers does not diminish the fact that Otis is from solid Lancashire mining stock and would both expect and glory in such nomenclature.
We don’t really understand why Mr Blair finds these things so difficult, for he is well aware of the progressions of the judiciary, Recorder, Justice, Lord Justice, Lord Chief Justice, and knows that the existence of four ranks makes us  quite obviously superior to the others. He is also aware of my progession through these ranks well within the course of recorded history. You really are going to have to learn these things if you want to get ahead in your political career you know Mr. Blair.
What, what’s that muttering in the court? Bailiff, I told you to keep the doors close...Oh, our word. It appears that we have something of a celebrity in the court. It is that star of the musical stage, Mr. Peter Mandy, famous family man, father of seven, scion of the Brazilian beef importing family and apparently taking a short break from his European Tour of the show "Rent" to support his friends, Miss Booth and the Chief Steward. You will know him best of course as the writer of that marvellous song, "How Much is that Housie in the Window".
Settled now? Good, we shall proceed, for you have arrived just in time for the denouement of the case.
This prosecution was brought under the new Hunting Bill which we perceive to be something of a mistake. For it is very clear that this Act refers to the hunting of wild mammals and it is difficult to stretch the meaning of that phrase to include an elderly, blind, house pet. We are aware  of the care and attention that was given to this animal , even to the extent that he was recently allowed to breed a new litter at his advanced age, not withstanding his physical infirmities.
So, we find that the killing by the Fleet Street Pack of Miss Booth’s pet, Blunkers, was not in fact a crime, merely a regrettable incident.
Otis, you leave this court without a stain on your character.

God Save the King."

December 18, 2004 in Justice Mussellbeet | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2004

Lloyd's and Slavery Part II

A little short story for a Friday afternoon.
The tip jar's over on the right .

Victims of Slavery v Lloyd's of London

Judgement by Lord Justice Mussellbeet.
Court of Appeal.
May 25 th 2006.

This is a transcription of the oral presentation of the judgement read out in court by the Lord Justice. There may be minor variations between this and the still to come printed version.

“In the matter of Victims of Slavery versus Lloyd's of London there are a number of issues which need to be discussed before announcing the verdict. We note that this is an appeal from the High Court and wish to point out that our years together at Eton with the distinguished judge who heard the original case in no manner influence our decision to oversee his verdict. That he was older than ourselves ( If there are those who object to the third person plural take note: if such things can be used by mere Royals it is only the deficiencies of the language that leave nothing more august for a Lord Justice to use. ) and partial to beating us is of no relevance, indeed such spankings have helped to make us the men, um, man, we are today. His numerous attempted buggeries have similarly no relevance to our opinion that he is....um where was I ....ah, yes, senile and should be removed from the Bench post haste. It is in this spirit of disinterested, even handed enquiry that we will now proceed to the basis of the case.
A number of what appear to be known as African Americans joined a class action suit against Lloyd's of London, their assertion being that Lloyd's, by insuring the vessels upon which their forefathers ( and as a trivial gesture to political correctness, something we always thought meant deciding whether to hang first flog later, or the other way around, foremothers ) were taken to the colonies that said Lloyd's is now responsible in a financial manner for their state and status.
We also note that this is a class action, something new to the English courts, and that the lawyers for the plaintiffs are working on a contingency fee arrangement, something also fairly new to these shores. We understand that this means that if the plaintiffs should win their case, and show that Lloyd's is indeed responsible for their current situation, that the lawyers will share in the award. It is a further tribute to the impartiality of ourselves that we have not allowed our opinions of blood sucking leeches...cough cough...upstart colonials...oh dear, some editing problems with our notes here...American trial lawyers to change this arrangement. We are delighted that these ambulance chasers will be able to share in the award, if such there be.
We note that Lloyd's was established as a formal organisation in 1771 nearly a century after its first stirrings, and that the slave trade was abolished in 1807. Therefore, only those who can show that their ancestors were transported in this time period have status in this case. We are satisfied that a number of the plaintiffs meet this standard.
There is also the matter of whether Lloyd's as an organisation actually exists in order to be sued. We agree with the defense that it is not Lloyd's which actually insures anything, it is in fact the Names who do so via syndicates. However, we are able to provide some relief to the plaintiffs on this matter. It is a fact that those who had the money and breeding to be Names in the late 18 th century are also those with the wealth and breeding to be so in the early 21 st century. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a just or even reasonable society in which such were not the case. So we find that the Lloyd's of today is indeed capable of being held responsible for the results of the actions of Lloyd's two centuries ago.

What was that ? A noise in the court ? Get to the point ? Madam, we would like to remind you that all of this is the point. Justice is not served by simply a verdict. It is the crowning glory of the Common Law system that justice in the future is best served by the ramblings, the obiter dicta, of such eminent beings as ourselves. Centuries hence judges and lesser mortals will be able to look back to the reasoning process behind today's judgement and will thus be able to find ineffable joy and certainty in the decisions of a dead white european male, if indeed Lord Justices are in fact mortal.

It has been brought to our attention that the average life span in West Africa is some 45 years, and the average annual income £ 500 a year. In the United States the similar figures are 75 years and £ 25,000.
Armed with the afore-noted facts we are now able to overturn the verdict of the flapheaded oppressor of our schooldays and find in favour of the plaintiffs.
Lloyd's of London is indeed responsible for the situation in which they find themselves.
Now, as to damages. As you may have noted, there is no jury here, simply ourselves, so calculation of the damages, the restitution to be paid, falls to us.
The basis of such a calculation is always that of sufficient to restore the situation to that of the status quo ante, or what it was before.
Each of the plaintiffs is to pay to Lloyd's the sum of £ 985,000 immediately. This is based on a working life in the US of 40 years at £ 25,000 per annum as opposed to a 30 year working life in West Africa at £ 500 per annum. It is with a little relish that we note that, under the normal contingency arrangements, the plaintiffs lawyers will be liable for 40 % of these sums.
We further order that Lloyd's make suitable arrangements, at Lloyd's expense, for the return of the plaintiffs to their respective tribal homelands in West Africa. If America has damaged you so much that you must come to England to sue those responsible for taking you there, the least that can be done is to provide you with transport home. It should be obvious that at the same time the transportees will be stripped of their US citizenship as it must be heinous to bear such a mark of the slaver's oppression of you.
There now remains the question of lifespans to consider. It is with considerable sadness that we note we cannot don the black cap now and order executions to bring the plaintiff's average lifespan as a class down to what it would have been if Lloyd's had not existed, but we think it right that they should discuss amongst themselves methods to correct this injustice, perhaps a lottery for assisted suicide or some such. As previously noted their lawyers should be liable for 40 % of this part of the settlement, and having done some back of the parchment calculations we would point out that the immediate slaying of all of their legal representation will fill these requirements.
That would be a suitable payment for encouraging the plaintiffs to persist in such a ludicrous and impertinent suit.

God Save the Queen. “

April 30, 2004 in Insurance, Justice Mussellbeet | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack