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Reviews Written by
Thomas B. Kilcourse "Tom Kilcourse" (France)
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ScanCom Chichester FSC Eucalyptus Wood Outdoor 2 Seater Bench
ScanCom Chichester FSC Eucalyptus Wood Outdoor 2 Seater Bench
Price: 78.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory, 30 April 2014
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We wanted a second bench for a corner of the garden. This met our needs, and was easy to assemble.


Mr Site Website in a Box Starter (PC/Mac)
Mr Site Website in a Box Starter (PC/Mac)
Price: 21.56

1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading, 30 April 2014
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I bought this, and returned it the day I received it. I have created two websites in the past, one of them commercial, using Fusion 8 in which the CD provides numerous functions. The CD with Mr Site provided three apps that I did not need, and a copy of the small instruction manual that was also in the box. The box also contained a card bearing a password, and that was it. I know the price is low, but the box offered no more than access to a service that is available free elsewhere.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD + Digital Copy)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Judi Dench
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: 14.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Marigold Hotel, 24 Oct 2012
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This is a well acted and well directed film with great characterisation. We enjoyed some great shots of Indian locations, but what held our attention was the development of the very different characters and the interplay between them. The psychology was subtle and realistic. Very enjoyable.


How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead
How The West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly - And the Stark Choices Ahead
by Dambisa Moyo
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful contribution, 16 Sep 2012
How The West Was Lost
By
Dambisa Moyo

I recall reading somewhere that after the end of WWII the Japanese were advised by Americans to focus on rebuilding their economy by producing rice and other food products so that they would be able to afford to buy American cars. The Japanese rejected the advice, set up MITI and today most cars produced in America and the UK are Japanese. Judging by the message in this book the West learned nothing from that lesson.

Dambisa Moyo demonstrates that the lesson is being repeated, but this time by Chinese teachers. The lesson is that the western model of capitalism is being displaced by state driven capitalism. While the West clings to an economic model based on the fallacy of Ricardian comparative advantage, and profit maximisation with the market as the guide, state capitalism operates on principles of absolute advantage and volume maximisation under state guidance. Consequently, whereas China has clear long-term economic strategies the West follows the vagaries of short-term market indicators.

The author makes her case effectively using statistical illustrations to compare America and China, with America presented as an exporter of capital, living on credit supported consumerism and neglecting its crumbling infrastructure. China, on the other hand, is an exporter of consumer goods with low levels of consumption and credit at home, and is investing enormous amounts in infrastructure. Moyo mentions in passing that the UK operates on the American model.

`How The West Was Lost' is one of several recent books presenting a similar warning message to which western politicians appear deaf. Although Ms. Moyo suggests some remedies that America could turn to I do not believe her advice will be followed, not least because the USA has traitors within the gates: those nominally American international corporations that benefit from the existing situation and are the paymasters behind western politics. Nevertheless, this book is a cogent and powerful contribution to the debate and should be read by anyone interested in the future facing them and their children. I recommend it strongly.


Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014
Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014
by Larry Elliott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.49

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 6 Sep 2012
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`Going South' by Larry Elliot & Dan Atkinson

This bleak analysis of the century long decline in the British political economy is one of several recent books that take a pessimistic view of our future, but it differs from some in giving bankers relatively bit parts in the drama while reserving leading roles for the truly deserving: our professional politicians. I was unconvinced by the sub-title `Why Britain Will Have a Third World Economy by 1914', and despite a catalogue of problems and policy mistakes that the authors draw attention to I remain so. In chapter 3 they list a number of features that Britain shares with underdeveloped countries: but each feature is matched with carefully selected countries. The list illustrates weaknesses, but does not describe a country that is a mere two years away from third-world status. One could just as easily identify features that Britain shares with selected developed countries.

However, I persisted with my reading and found that more convincing historical evidence with statistics is used to support the thesis: evidence that many with knowledge of economic history will be aware of. This is not a book for those who believe that Britain's problems became serious only with the election of the Blair government. The reader's attention is drawn to the policy errors of various leaders including Wilson, Heath and Thatcher. The main causes of decline are identified as complacency, misdirected investment, and the determination of politicians to maintain Britain's position as a major power in the world, largely through military spending. "Britain devoted a larger share of its R&D expenditure to military and space expenditure than did any other country except the USA, and the result was a crowding out of investment in other parts of the economy..." Chapter 4 presents a good historical summary, but does not raise the issue of globalisation.

We progress through the book to discover a list of promises and aims that various politicians have offered without fulfilling them. Anyone reading this list will find their faith in Britain's political elite sorely challenged. For example, we are reminded of the Saatchi poster `Britain isn't working' that helped to bring Thatcher to power in 1979: "After the 1979 election unemployment continued to rise, hitting 2 million in 1980 and 3 million in 1982." This example is but one of many.

The book predicts a second economic downturn in 2013, a contention with which I find it difficult to disagree. I remain sceptical of the sub-titles prediction of third-world status by 2014, but have to agree that if the authors have got the date wrong, they are correct about the direction in which Britain is moving. This book is well worth reading by anyone interested in Britain's political economy, despite it being somewhat over long, and poorly edited.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 7, 2012 9:09 AM BST


The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy
The New Few: Or a Very British Oligarchy
by Ferdinand Mount
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.19

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British Oligarchy, 29 Aug 2012
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The New Few

Ferdinand Mount's latest book, sub-titled `A Very British Oligarchy', explores and explains the increasing concentration of economic and political power into fewer and fewer hands over several decades.

Part one is entitled `The Corrosion of Capitalism'. Mount favours a free market economy, but he qualifies support with the remark that "...the Invisible Hand of free enterprise can operate to the public benefit only within a robust framework of law and practice." Given what happened to the economy after deregulation of the financial sector, who would argue? Those who believe that Britain's banking crisis has its roots the Blair years will be disappointed to see that Mount, who worked for Thatcher, points the finger at the `Big Bang' of 1986 in which the Thatcher government tore down the walls defining discrete functions in financial services. Remember the building societies bribing members to vote for demutualisation?

Mounts analysis of economic concentration is not limited to banking, but covers industry generally as he points out how shareholders have lost influence in the companies they nominally own. Many have lost contact entirely with those companies, investing their saving through funds rather than directly in industry. Thus, they are separated from businesses in which their money is invested, and the link now is between the company board and fund managers, not between the board and individual shareholders. His analysis is highly detailed and enlightening, with matters being explained in plain language, as one expects from this author.

Having dealt with the growth of oligarchy in the economic sphere, in part two `The Erosion of Democracy' he turns his attention to politics. Again his argument is plainly put as he shows how power has moved away from regions and local councils, with the purse strings now being held in Whitehall, while local authorities are seen as no more than a sub-office of central government. He draws our attention also to the concentration of power in the hands of the Prime Minister and the virtual neutering of the House of Commons. He points out that political power in Britain is more centralised than in France, where there have been considerable efforts made to empower the regions.

In part three, `Waking Up', the author makes a number of suggestions as to what might be done to rescue both democracy and a genuinely capitalist economy. In this section he is scathing about the Brussels Oligarchy and its culture of indifference. I confess to finding some of his suggested solutions unconvincing and unduly optimistic, with the exception of his ideas for the financial sector. However, this is an excellent book and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the political economy of modern Britain.


Infidel
Infidel
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 24 Nov 2008
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This review is from: Infidel (Paperback)
I bought this book as an extra when buying something else. I planned to read it on holiday, but it arrived three days before I left and I made the mistake of dipping into it beforehand. It was a mistake because my total absorbtion in this autobiography left me with no more than a few pages to read on my trip. It is a long time since I learned so much from a book. Ayaan writes simply, and without rancour about a life that appears beyond belief to a western male. It is a wonderful, literary achievement that deserves our attention.


Affluenza
Affluenza
by Oliver James
Edition: Hardcover

90 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A book to be sneezed at, 13 Feb 2007
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This review is from: Affluenza (Hardcover)
In the first chapter it becomes clear that the author set out with an answer, and didn't need to ask the questions. For me he lost credibility by using a conversation with a Nigerian driving a Taxi in New York to 'demonstrate' that Nigeria is a happier place than NY. So what was 'Chet' doing in Big Apple? Having been to Nigeria I know the answer. The author asked 'Chet', this very nice,decent man, if he had ever cheated on his wife. Did he really expect a truthful answer?

I found the writing lightweight, and the 'research' banal. Sorry, but I prefer Fromm undiluted.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2009 5:36 PM BST


The Great Cholesterol Con ~ The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It
The Great Cholesterol Con ~ The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid It
by Malcolm Kendrick
Edition: Paperback

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening and Funny, 12 Feb 2007
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Dr. Kendrick has produced a well written, well researched case against the cholesterol myth that is comprehensible to the layman. It is wonderfully disrespectful of those who base career progression on bullshit and, incidentally, highlights the financial links between drug companies and doctors. I once knew someone who worked as a rep for a drug maker. Her main occupation seemed to be providing tickets to the opera, and handing out other goodies. Strange that we rarely hear about these things, in a country that gets upset when a politician visits someone's ranch.


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