Marchessini Blog & Forum

Prison Revolution

In a letter to the Times today, Lord Woolf brings up once again his old “donkey” that there are too many prisoners in the UK. It has repeatedly been proved that this is not so. The reason that the UK has more prisoners than any other country in Europe is because the UK has more crime than any other country in Europe. In other words, if you commit crime, you will have to go to jail. It has also been proved that the thing that professional criminals are afraid of is long jail sentences; therefore, the way to stop crime is to send habitual prisoners to jail for long periods.

Of course, this is not possible because governments do not want to build jails; they want to be given jails for free. In other words, what we require for prison stability in this country is exactly the opposite of what Lord Woolf suggests.



With reference to a column in today’s Times by Mr David Aaronovitch about Senator McCarthy, it is extraordinary how this myth has gone on for so long. The United States has the same law as France, in that all government documents more than thirty years old must be open to the public. Twenty years ago, Senator Daniel Moynihan bravely asked for the McCarthy documents to be made public, and, of course, what they found was that not only was everything that McCarthy said true, but there were many Communists in the government that McCarthy did not know about.

Instead of being a hero to the country, McCarthy continues to be vilified, despite the above facts.


What Legitimacy?

One of the financial columns in the Financial Times today ends with the phrase “So should those of us who want free markets to retain their legitimacy”. Now who would you say would write a sentence like that? A firebrand Marxist? Mr Corbyn, perhaps? Not at all. The writer is the Chairman of a hedge fund, who is meant to be in favour of free markets. But free markets are nothing more or less than the freedom of the individual. Free markets cannot exist unless there is individual freedom, and to suggest that free markets must “retain their legitimacy”, is like saying freedom must “retain its legitimacy”, or breathing should “retain its legitimacy.


Women’s Rules

An interesting item has recently come up in the sporting pages, which has to do with the Solheim Cup, an international golf match between the United States and Europe’s lady professional golfers.  At the match in question (a foursome match) one of the American players had a 10 ft putt to win the hole, but she missed it, and ran past the cup a distance that was estimated to be 16” (of course, nobody actually measured it).  The Europeans had already made par, and as the other American player started walking off the green, the lady who had missed the birdie putt, Miss Alison Lee, picked up her ball, and also started walking off the green.  The European Captain insisted that the putt had not been conceded and it was Europe’s hole.  Nobody suggested that Europe’s Captain, Suzann Pettersen had infringed the rules in any way, yet the two American players started sobbing, and the matter became a controversial talking point.  Yet, Miss Pettersen was severely criticised, and after a talk with the American Captain, Juli Inkster, she produced a long and convoluted apology.

Yet, no one seemed to support Miss Pettersen, although she behaved in accordance with the rules.  Would Ben Hogan ever have picked up his ball if it had not been conceded?  Would Jack Nicklaus?  The point is that women do not seem to know the rules, and behave in accordance with what the rules should be in their opinion.  Men do know the rules, not only men professionals, but even the players in a men’s Saturday 4-ball.  For example, it is well known that if you tee off ahead of the markers, your opponents have the right to recall your tee shot.  Everybody knows that, and if it happens, nobody is going to start blubbing.  These are the rules.

An interesting event took place some years ago, in an experienced ladies’ match, at a prestigious golf course.  Three of the ladies had trolleys, but one had a caddie.  Now, caddies have been part of golf since time immemorial, and cannot be objected to, and yet the three ladies with trolleys resented the fact that one lady had a caddie.  Unfortunately, during the course of the round, it came out that the caddie had played previously on the South African golf tour, whereupon the opposing ladies said they might have to call the match.  But they did not call the match, because they were not sure about the rules, but they retained the option of calling the match later.  The interesting thing was that none of the four ladies knew what the rules were.  The truth is that anybody can caddie for anybody else – Jack Nicklaus can caddie for me if he wants to, and vice versa.  Needless to say, the match finished in a shambles.

The point is that if ladies pretend to be equal to men (not in playing abilities, of course) but as golfers, the first thing they must do is to learn the rules, and follow them automatically.

There was a similar incident in the Solheim Cup some years ago, when Juli Inkster chipped in when it was not her turn to play.  Her shot, therefore, had to be recalled, but the reaction of the American team was that the Europeans were somehow cheating by playing according to the rules.

I would like to add a new rule to the R&A Rules.  That rule would be that anyone who starts crying on any hole, automatically loses that hole.  What do you say?


Mr Munger

Mr Charles Munger, Vice Chairman, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Dear Mr Munger,

You were quoted in the Lex Column of the Financial Times in London last Saturday on the subject of gold. Supposedly, you said that there are no rational reasons for hoarding gold, and that “Even if it works, you’re a jerk.” You are obviously a brilliant businessman, but you do not seem to be very interested in financial history. May I bring to your attention three well known facts?

  1. Since Nixon closed the gold window in 1971, there is no currency in the world that is convertible to gold or silver. This is the first time in the history of the world that such a situation exists.
  1. In the history of the world, there has never been a paper currency which has survived for any length of time.
  1. Since the Federal Reserve was established in 1913, the dollar has lost 99% of its value. One dollar in 1913 is the equivalent to only one cent today. Anyone who had bought gold in 1913 at $20 would have seen it go to $1,400 this year. That is only 70 times. Compared to the dollar, gold is still undervalued. It would have to go to at least $2,000 to match the fall in the dollar. Is one “a jerk” for trying to protect oneself?

The confusion that arises in gold is due to the fact that many people have been persuaded to think that gold is just a commodity. In fact, gold is, and always has been, money. If one changes dollars for gold, it is just like changing dollars for yen. It is just a different currency. And, of course, one cannot print gold.


Feminist Censorship

Reactions to Miss Proudman’s recent outburst about being complimented by a man, seem to be in two categories – those who agree with her (minority) and those who say she has made a fuss about nothing (majority). I suggest that neither of those views really gets to the heart of the issue. In my view, the point is that if we live in a free country, with free speech, everyone is free to say whatever they want, as long as it is not a lie. If, in the unlikely event I fall in love with Miss Gladys Bloggs tomorrow, I am perfectly free to say so, and to compliment her – whether she likes it or not. Similarly, if I think Miss Bloggs is an old slag, I am free to say that – whether she likes it or not. What Miss Proudman is saying, is that she has the right to censor what other people say to her. This, I would suggest, is opposed to both freedom and to good sense. Indeed, such views exist only in totalitarian countries. Yet, many Feminists seem to think that they have such a right.

There is a further aspect – women now pretend that they are the same as men, and can do anything that men can do. Would a man be offended if he was called “stunning” or “hot”? Of course not. They are compliments. If men do not object to compliments, what right do women have to object? In fact, it has been revealed in the press that Miss Proudman has referred to sundry men on a social networking site as “hot stuff”, and “oooh la la la”, so she is a hypocrite as well as an idiot.

We have somehow reached a point in the world where women think they have the right to censor what men say. How have we reached such an point? Why have men allowed this to happen?


Better than the Finns

There was an article about English cuisine by Ben Macintyre in the Times recently, and I fear that he has somewhat gone off the rails on this subject. There are many good things about England, but the food is not one of them. Every country in Europe complains about English food. At a Summit Meeting some years ago, Jacques Chirac, who was President of France at that time, said (not realising he was being recorded) “The English have the worst food in Europe – except for the Finns”. This statement found considerable agreement throughout Europe.

Furthermore, the level of cooking in any country is not decided by a small group of highly publicised chefs, but by the food that people eat at home. If one runs into a friend in Europe, and he invites you home to dinner, you know the food will be delicious in any country. If you run into an Englishman on the street, and he invites you to dinner at his home, one quickly makes an excuse. At the last dinner party I gave, I had invited eighteen reasonably sophisticated people, and gave them a French dinner. There were three courses. Every person at the dinner had second helpings of every course. Have you ever seen that in an English house?

When Katherine of Aragon came to England in the early 16th Century, to marry the son of Henry VII, she wrote home to her mother, Isabella of Aragon: “The weather is terrible, it rains all the time, and the food is disgusting”. Nothing much has changed in 500 years.



Prison and Politics


The Times

Dear Sir,

With reference to Miss Juliet Lyon’s letter today on the subject of the prison population, there is one basic principle which must always be kept in mind when discussing this subject. That principle is that the more crimes that are committed, the more people will be in jail. I am afraid that Miss Lyon has ignored this fact.

If one refers to international crime statistics, one will see that the UK has the second most number of crimes in Europe, with only Germany having more, and this has been the case for many years. If, however, one allows for the difference in population between Germany, with 82 million people, and the U.K., with 62 million people, we arrive at the fact that the U.K. (apart from two small and insignificant countries), has the highest crime rate per population in Europe. In other words, the U.K. has more criminals than any other country in Europe. Miss Lyon, and anybody else who is interested in this subject, must grasp that fact.

The second fact of which Miss Lyons seems to be unaware, is that in 2002 the Blair Government stopped taking crime figures from the police and the Home Office, and instead started taking them from an organisation called the British Crime Survey (BCS). This is a survey organisation which polls 40,000 households annually. On the basis of these results, it then “estimates” the total number of crimes in the U.K. This would be laughable, if it were not for the fact that the Blair Government actually did it (and the present government has not stopped it), and that most people accept these absurd figures. According to the BCS, during its first five years of operation, crime had fallen by 44%, but according to the figures from the police, crime had increased by 21%. That is the reason why the prison population is increasing all the time, because crime is increasing all the time, regardless of what the government says. The ‘Thin Blue Line’, the police publication, stated in a recent report that “The BCS is an obviously poor measure of violent crime”. Further on it states “We know that police recorded violent crime has nearly doubled since 1997.” Who would you rather believe – the police or the Blair Government? According to the prison population statistics, which calculate prison rate compared to population, of the 27 countries in Europe the U.K. ranks only 12th, i.e. in the middle. Even more to the point would be a table of European countries calculating the prison rate per crime. In such a table, the U.K. would be far down the list.

Miss Lyon’s last misconception is that prison is meant to reduce reoffending. That is not at all what it is meant to do. It is meant to punish criminals, and to incarcerate them in order to protect society while they are behind bars. The idea of being able to persuade people not to reoffend is a fantasy, based on the Left’s reluctance to accept the concept of evil. Nor can any statistics about reoffending be reliable. Released prisoners can only be watched for a short period of time, certainly not for their whole lives. Furthermore, and as most crimes are never detected, who is to know whether they have reoffended or not. What we do know is that hardened criminals have admitted that the only thing that frightens then are long prison sentences. If crime keeps increasing in the U.K., it is not due to the fact that people are sent to jail – it is due to the fact that they are not. Countless criminals are given community sentences, which cannot be enforced, or just released without punishment. Many of the people that the police arrest have numerous convictions, without even having been to jail. I fear Miss Lyon has things upside down.


Student Problems

Mr Moore

Daily Telegraph

Dear Mr Moore,

With reference to your recent article on the subject of student riots, may I suggest that the real problem is that the British Government never looks to see how other countries solve the same problems. University education has always been considered “higher education”. It is not the education necessary for life, which is meant to be obtained in school. In short, university education is a luxury, and it is expensive. The question is who should pay.

In the United States, every student has to pay their own tuition fees, but a substantial number of places are held for clever students, who cannot afford to pay, and who receive scholarships. In other words, to receive a university education in America, you have to be either rich or clever. On the Continent, there is a completely different solution. Anyone who has a School Certificate is free to apply to university, if they wish. They may not be accepted for the university of their choice, but they will be accepted by some university. The tuition fees are modest, and most of the costs are paid by the government. But there is a big difference, which is that students are rigorously tested all the way through their time in university (four years, not three). The result is that of those who commence university, only one-third receive degrees. In other words, on the Continent, in order to receive a university education, you must be clever.

Turning to Britain, we see the worst of all possible worlds. The Labour Government wanted as many state school students as possible to receive university education. They did not look at it as education, they looked at it as a passport to jobs, or in other words, as money. They, therefore, forced universities to accept more than 50% state school students, who were completely unqualified for university. I recently attended a lunch in Cambridge, where there were several distinguished dons present. One of them said to me “Half of my students do not know what they are doing. They have no business being here.” I, therefore, asked the other dons their opinion, and they said three-quarters of their students had no business being there. Somewhat surprised, I asked how many of the students would receive degrees. “Oh”, they said, “We do not fail anyone at Cambridge anymore.” In other words, the government has forced universities to hide the fact that the state school students are not qualified, by giving them all degrees. Otherwise it would be obvious how bad the state schools are. In short, the Labour Government (and the Conservatives are doing nothing about it) wanted the poor and stupid to receive degrees, and to receive them free.

The obvious answer is for the government to adopt either the American solution, or the Continental solution. The Labour Government would never do anything as sensible as that, but why do not the Conservatives do it? Or are they really Conservatives?



Migrant Truth

Like everything else in the world at the moment, the migration question is full of hypocrisy. For example, all the migrants who have been leaving Turkey for Greece and Northern Europe were perfectly safe in Turkey, which provided food and shelter for 2 million refugees. Lebanon and Jordan both have close to a million refugees apiece, while Egypt and Iraq have far fewer. However, the rich Middle Eastern countries have failed to take in any, yet you never hear this mentioned by the TV news reporters who attack Europe for its “indifference to suffering”.
Furthermore, these people are neither homeless nor destitute. The trip to Northern Europe costs €2,500 each. Where do they get the money?
Another hypocrisy is that Germany has the lowest birth rate among the countries and desperately needs refugees, while Britain is a quarter of the size of France with the same population.
Finally, the famous photograph of a drowned boy galvanised Europe, but nobody mentioned the fact that dozens of children and many more adults had already been drowned. It is not “compassion” that this crisis needs – it is honesty.

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