Events, dear boy, events!

Events are happening. It was the UK prime minister Harold McMillan who reportedly replied to the journalist’s question about what he feared for the times “Events, dear boy, events.” The modern day political leaders with a tendency to fear events have had plenty of material to work with in the last month. Let’s name a few, in no particular order or importance: the south-east Australian bushfires; the assassination of Iranian Republican Guard major-general Soleimani; Brexit; coronavirus; Tesla’s stock price. I will add one more: the impeachment of President DJ Trump, although this is less of an event and more of a political process.

The Australian bushfires were severe. Lives lost, properties destroyed, agricultural infrastructure destroyed, animals lost in their thousands. The damage is both economic and aesthetic. Predictably, green/left activists weaponized the event to further their anti-western, anti-capitalism agenda by blaming climate change and hence demanding the dismantling of the free (relatively) market economies operating as democratic nation states. (Clive Hamilton, sometimes described as one of Australia’s great thinkers, called for suspension of democracy to allow sensible people, like him, to control the world and combat climate change.) The problem for this argument is that the fires were not unusual, not even particularly damaging by historical standards and actually caused primarily by arsonists lighting fires in dry overgrown forested areas. The excessive undergrowth and forest litter had been allowed to build up, rather than be cleared by controlled burning in the manner it used to be, thanks to protesting green influence on state and local government and their agencies.

The assassination of the Iranian major-general was a so-called surgical strike. As a demonstration of extraordinary military capability, it was impressive. Judging by the reaction of Iranian and Iraqi people, the major-general had it coming and all things considered his exit, stage left, stage right, up, down and simultaneouly in all other directions, was a good thing. Still, US democrats and most of the mainstream media were agog with apoplexy at the looming world war 3 being started by the bad orange man in the White House. What Trump authorised in that strike has actually resulted in a change in political balance in the middle east. There is now much greater chance that the Iranian civilians will eventually overcome the theocratic dictatorship that has existed there since 1979. Rather than cause a world war, this event is perhaps an important catalyst for individual freedoms in that austere and dusty part of the world.

Brexit occurred on January 31, 2020. Readers will know that this pleased me as well as the majority of voters who approved it in 2016. What Britain joined in 1973 was the EEC – the European Economic Community. It was a trading bloc, designed to avoid damaging trade wars within the area. Had it remained so, then the whole issue of Brexit would never have emerged. But the ambitions of the political insiders grew over time – don’t they always? The EEC grew into a quasi-state. I suspect few voters in 1975 in Britain would have approved joining the EEC had they known it was to develop its own Parliament, judiciary, central bank and currency, take control over social policy and prepare to form its own army. That’s why Brexit emerged and the British are well to be out of the political project. Others may follow.

Speaking of following others, has anyone seen the Tesla share price recently? Tesla is a company that has never made an annual profit. Ever. Yet its share price is currently US$646.US$887 (updated Feb 5, 2020). I can’t give you a price/earnings ratio for Tesla, because there are no earnings. But I can confirm, if you want to buy a share in losses, they are very expensive at Tesla. Lots of people want a share of the action.

The coronavirus needs to be monitored and reasonable precautions taken. At this stage, the number of deaths is not cause for panic and we ought to know in another month or so if it likely to be a serious pandemic. I am more wary of bacterial resistance than virus pandemics as a threat to world health.

In case you missed it, the US House of Reps passed the articles of impeachment of President Trump to the Senate for trial. The Senate decided to follow the same rules for the trial that were established, with bipartisan support, of President Clinton. Reasonably so. Yet that didn’t stop the Democrats, and mainstream media, collectively making fools of themselves. Outside these two groups, not many people care about the impeachment – it isn’t really an event, as I said. So perhaps it shouldn’t be in this list. Although, it has enough event-like characteristics to make Pelosi, Nagel, Schiff and Schumer feel worried – they have trashed their political reputations at the end of decades of service. They will feature in historical analysis of this era for all the wrong reasons.