Category Archives: Business

Fly Alitalia!

Note: The Italian State is providing Alitalia with a large subsidy. What the Italians do should normally be none of our business. However, the opaque nature of much spending by member states of the European Union allows me to suspect that this subsidy will come partly out of our pockets. It will also hurt British airlines.

I publish the following document to show what may be the general quality of service provided by Alitalia. It was sent at the time to the Chairman of Alitalia, and was taken up by Syed Kamall MEP. I was eventually made a piffling offer of compensation, which I decided to ignore. Towards the end of 2006, I had to choose between forgetting the matter and spending much of the next year pestering an Italian corporate bureaucracy. I think I was wise to choose the former. I have now remembered my complaint and decided to publish it for informational purposes. I believe that my experience is typical, though do please bear in mind that my identification of the officials concerned may not be accurate. SIG Continue reading

Customer Service

My wife and I bought this kettle from the Aga Shop in Tunbridge Wells on the 2nd October 2004. Yesterday, the handle sheared away. I wrote to the Aga Shop at once, enclosing the photograph and a copy of the receipt. I got a reply this morning, promising a replacement within seven days.

Aga products are expensive. The original kettle cost £64 in 2004. A new one now costs £100. But you can’t fault the company’s attention to customer service. British often is best.

104 Years Ago – G.K. Chesterton on Ideas and Ideals

Christopher Houseman

A wonderful answer to all the proud pragmatists who dismiss the power of ideas – including libertarianism.

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller. It is a common error, I think, among the Radical idealists of my own party and period to suggest that financiers and business men are a danger to the empire because they are so sordid or so materialistic. The truth is that financiers and business men are a danger to the empire because they can be sentimental about any sentiment, and idealistic about any ideal, any ideal that they find lying about. Just as a boy who has not known much of women is apt too easily to take a woman for the woman, so these practical men, unaccustomed to causes, are always inclined to think that if a thing is proved to be an ideal it is proved to be the ideal. Many, for example, avowedly followed Cecil Rhodes because he had a vision. They might as well have followed him because he had a nose; a man without some kind of dream of perfection is quite as much of a monstrosity as a noseless man.

Chesterton, G. K. (2010). Heretics (297–298). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

7 Reasons HMV Closed

by Carps

HMV was part of the fabric of the British high street but – like Woolworths, Jessops, Currys, C&A, Ethel Austin, Borders, Virgin Music and a slew of lesser known names – at some point in the last decade time caught up with its business model. A lot of people speculate as to why it failed.

Here are my thoughts. Continue reading

Why is the State Involved in Childcare?

by D.J. Webb

Women are forced out to work by house prices. This is the real subtext to absurd plans for the state to pay £2,000 to each working woman for childminding. With high taxes and council tax, high transport fees and high childminding bills, it is hard for women to make work pay — and the only result of their trying to do so is to push up the income on which mortgage loans are calculated, thus supporting the property Ponzi scheme. Continue reading


by D.J. Webb

Libertarians support low taxation on principle, in order to free people and the economy from the burden of the state. If the writings of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill are anything to go by, however, there is an important exception: land taxation. Land taxation is not just a necessary evil that affords the state some revenues with which to perform the very few necessary functions of government; it is a positive good, in that it tackles monopoly and speculation, and should ensure efficient use of land. If land taxation had remained the key source of government revenue in the UK, the current economic crisis would not have taken place. Continue reading

Dark Satanic Cubicles – It’s time to smash the job culture!

Note: O Loompanics! When will we see thy like again? SIG

Dark Satanic Cubicles was originally published in 2005 on Loompanics Unlimited, written by Claire Wolfe.

You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go.
I owe my soul to the company store.
Merle Travis, chorus of the song Sixteen Tons

Back in 1955, thunder-voiced Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded that song as the B-side of a single. Soon, nobody could even remember what the A-side was. DJ’s all over the country began flipping the disc – and within two months of its release Sixteen Tons had become the biggest single ever sold in America.

Sixteen Tons is a John Henry style fable about a coal miner who’s tough as nails – one fist of iron, the other of steel.

He’s able to do the most back-breaking job and slaughter any opponent. But even though he’s been working in the mines since the day he was born, he can’t get ahead. Merle Travis wrote and recorded the song in 1946. But until Ford covered it, Sixteen Tons hadn’t done Travis a bit of good.

Far from it. Although Travis was a patriotic Kentucky boy, the U.S. government thought any song complaining about hard work and hopeless debt was subversive. The song got Travis branded a communist sympathizer (a dangerous label in those days). A Capitol record exec who was a Chicago DJ in the late 40s remembers an FBI agent coming to the station and advising him not to play Sixteen Tons.

Pretty big fuss over one little song. Continue reading