Thailand’s Tourist Boom

Thailand is legalising the growing and sale of full medical grade Cannabis from next month. I anticipate a tourist boom.

Some quotes from various sources in Thailand.

Authorities are also exploring the idea of a “cannabis sandbox” that would allow tourists to visit the country while recreationally using cannabis in select areas, to help create destinations synonymous with the drug.

Linn is optimistic that the bill will help Thailand rebuild its economy post-Covid. “Nothing as small as marijuana use can save [an economy], but I think it could provide a spark,” he said.

Kitty Chopaka, an independent cannabis advocate based in Bangkok, says “industry people” from places including Australia, the UK and Canada are already contacting her about plans to visit Thailand following the announcement. “People are going to come to Thailand trying to find cannabis,” she says.

Cannabis is Thailand’s ‘secret weapon’ to lure back tourists after Covid, public health official says.

Amsterdam had better watch out. There’s a new kid on the block.

Monetizing Citizens In America

Ed Westen has asked me to pass this on to all my American friends. (And to your friends and families too) It is not politically partisan, so no matter if you are Republican, Democrat, or any other political affiliation. Even if you are not interested in politics, it is still relevant to the American economy, perhaps now more than ever, given the current pandemic, and the financial crisis forecast to follow any recovery.

If you agree with what he says, and I feel sure you will, please use the letter template (in bold type) and send it to those officials mentioned in his text.

Since the relief package Congress passed before they recessed provided payments of $1200/citizen (with some upper-income limits) Congress seems to have wandered into the philosophical area of responsibility for its citizens. Unfortunately, the money in the coronavirus relief package will come from the Treasury which means it will be financed (part of the national debt and current year deficit) or be taken out of tax dollars we paid in (or both, but probably financed by Treasuries). There is a better way.

There is a cheaper way. Citizens need to be monetized (My 2017 Kindle book). So I have penned the attached letter that I am going to send to everyone I can think of. The thing is it needs to get into the hands of enough people who then ask their Representatives and Senators to look into giving them a monthly income—a basic income if you will that costs the Treasury, and ultimately the taxpayers nothing. People need to send it to their Congressional Representatives as only emails and snail-mail letters from their district (State in the case of the Senate) have any chance of getting read.

The plan has the added benefit of putting money directly into the National and State treasuries, still without increasing the deficit or depleting the Treasury. Policymakers who understand how money is created will understand how this is done.

The thing is I need to get the attached one-page letter/statement into the hands of as many people as possible and into the hands of their Members of Congress (House and Senate). People need to send it to their Congressional Representatives as only emails and snail-mail letters from their district (State in the case of the Senate) have any chance of getting read. The faster lawmakers understand this option is available to them (it is a new idea, at least as of 2017 when I wrote the book) the sooner we can get lawmakers’ attention all Americans be put on a financially sound footing, job or no job. So I ask you to pass the attached on to everyone you know.

Stay safe and healthy. Warmest regards, Ed

Please forward the following to everyone on your email contact list, your Congressman/Congresswoman and Senator and anyone with a voice.

There is a way to put money into the hands of American Citizens without driving up the national debt and without resorting to taxes. Essentially all we have to do is add an additional way for the Federal Reserve System to create money. We should monetize citizens. That would entail the Federal Reserve Banks depositing money into financial institutions for each citizen on a regular basis thus creating new money. At the same time, the Federal Reserve should deposit money into the states’ treasuries proportionate to the number of citizens living in the state. And the Federal Reserve should deposit money into the US Treasury based on the total number of US citizens.

None of the other ways money is created by the Federal Reserve Banks and financial institutions need be modified. Since the Federal Reserve Banks can effectuate this with little effort Money can flow into the hands of citizens very quickly and on a regular basis. I estimate that the Federal Reserve Banks hold sufficient debt instruments (bonds and the like) so they can manage inflation, if it occurs, with open market operations quite easily.

I wrote about this and self-published it in Democratize Money: Monetize Citizens some time back. There are a few more details that one might want to put into place that are in the book. Here is a link for your reference.

Yes, I understand this mechanism is as far from trickle-down economics as one can get. However, this will provide a way to reopen the economy where it counts, in the pocketbooks of US Citizens. Citizens, consumers, account for 70% of our economic activity,


T. Edward Westen,

Professor emeritus, Political Science, Central Michigan University

Market Forces

I recently had occasion to buy a bedside lamp. I am not a fan of the harsh overhead lighting style known as the ‘main light’. I prefer side-lamps in the living room, and as little intrusive light as possible. I thought it might be nice for me to have one by the side of my bed. If I wake up early, it is very dark in Beetley, and a small lamp means that I don’t have to use the big light in the bedroom.

I didn’t need anything fancy. Just one of those small pottery round bases, with a shade about six inches across. As our local branch of Tesco is a ‘superstore’, selling almost anything you might need, I thought I would try there first. I quickly found exactly what I needed, in a neutral colour, complete with fabric shade. Fully wired, and complete with a sealed plug. The plug is fused, but has no real third pin for the earth, just a stub. So if the bulb blows, it will trip the electrics in the fuse box. But they are all much the same, so I bought it.

How much would you expect to pay, for a complete lamp like that? I thought I would go to £20, and happily pay that for something I not only wanted, but actually needed. I knew that I would have to pay extra for the screw-in bulb to go with it, but that’s life. But I looked at the price tag, and was surprised to find that the lamp and shade cost just £5. This big chain store can buy this product in, allow for shelf space to display it, and expect a decent profit from selling it to customers. And all for £5?

The clue to this was in the country of origin. ‘Made in China’. I cannot imagine how low production costs must be in that country, to supply a pottery base with approved EU wiring, and a sturdy fabric shade too. Then they have to promote it to foreign buyers, pack it into a carton, and send it by ship or aircraft all the way around the world, to end up in a shop in central Norfolk. Trying to break down the overall costs; salaries, shipping, raw materials, marketing, all just made my head ache. How can they possibly sell this for the relatively paltry sum of £5? People pay more than that for a ‘designer coffee’, in some trendy establishments.

I should be a happy customer. I got my lamp, and it works well. But I couldn’t help wonder how all this had destroyed similar industries in Britain. Paying Chinese people a pittance to work in factories making those lamps does not sit well with me. It doesn’t just spell the end of manufacturing in this country, but also does nothing for the individuals in China.

I had to buy a bulb of course. That was made in Britain, and cost me £2.50, half the price of the complete lamp. Is this what they mean by ‘Market Forces’, I wonder?

Saturday thoughts, for a change

This week, part of our electric oven stopped working. The fuse blew, and had to be reset on the board. When the cooker came back on, the hob was working, and the small top oven and grill seemed to be OK too. But the main oven, the ‘big one’ with fan-assisted cooking, was as dead as a dodo.

What to do? We can still cook of course, and there is always the microwave too. Modern convenience, and if all else failed, a small gas-bottle camping stove for emergencies. As well as that, it is still unbearably hot in the house as the heatwave continues, so no need to worry about cooking casseroles, or roasting meat.

I could get someone out to see if they can fix it. There will be a call-out charge, naturally. Then there is the potential cost of replacement parts. What if the fan has shorted out? Perhaps the heating element has failed completely too? It all starts to become one of those times when you have to think about whether or not it’s worth replacing something, even though it is only six years old. Some investigation revealed that it might cost as much as close to half the price of a new replacement cooker to fix the old one.

So we bought a new one, and it is arriving late next week.

This made me remember the ‘old days’, as such things do. When something broke when I was a child, replacement was rarely an option. The outlay on a new item was beyond the financial reach of most working-class families. I recall a hair-dryer used by my Mum. Not unlike the modern equivalent, it was much larger, as well as being heavier and noisier too. In use, the motor at the side would glow red, and one day it just went ‘bang’. There was no thought of buying a new one. It was a luxury, not an essential. My Dad had a go at fixing it. After what amounted to a full disassembly and rebuild, it reappeared covered in sticky black insulation tape, and it was working again, albeit with a strange whirring sound added.

Not long after, it went ‘bang’ again. This time, it was taken to a small shop located in a nearby shopping street. I went with my Mum, and was fascinated by the miles of jumbled wires, and the stacks of non-working valve radios, primitive toasters, and the rows of dead electric fires. The man gave my Mum a small ticket, and told her to come back in a couple of day’s time. When she collected it, the handle was a different colour to the rest, as the man had cleverly cannibalised parts from a similar model. The cost of the repair was less than 5% of buying a new one, and it worked well for another ten years, until I was in my late teens.

Much later, and I was married, living in a house in Wimbledon. We had a washing machine, something of a considerable expense in those days, at close to £400. That was almost a month’s salary then. One day, it started to leak as it was operating, and that leak turned into a veritable flood of soapy water all over the floor of the small kitchen. After managing to stop the machine working, I contacted a local company advertising repairs, and they came out. Something metal in the washing (later discovered to be the underwire of a bra) had damaged the main rubber seal, allowing the water to escape. The man replaced the seal, found and removed the wire, and charged us £15, including the cost of the seal. He had only been there for fifteen minutes or so, and was very efficient.

But now, we just throw everything away. If a hair-drier costs less than £20 to replace, who would consider paying that much to get it repaired? A washing machine is now less than one week’s pay in most jobs, and a similar repair close to £100 or more, including the dreaded ‘call out’ fees. And those shops with clever ‘little men’ surrounded by dead electrical items are all long gone, as business rates force everyone like them off the High Streets of England. These days, we have to make online appointments with ‘authorised repairers’, from companies who act as if they are doing you a favour by actually turning up at all.

We live in a disposable society, to the detriment of the environment.
‘Repair’ has become ‘Replace’.

Too much News: Pistorius and the BBC

To readers outside the UK, I apologize in advance. This may be of little or no interest to you.

I am an avid watcher of TV News. Ever since dedicated news channels arrived in the UK, I have been a fan. I like to be aware of what is going on, and to keep up with world events, and home news. This is even more important since I retired, as I do not have the benefit of chatting with work colleagues, and the usual discussions and opinions that are the result of general conversation. I can think of many occasions when constant news updates are important, and even some where it is acceptable for the coverage to be uninterrupted, as happened with the events of 9/11 in New York.

At the moment, there are many things going on around the world, and here in the UK, that are of interest or concern to me. The ongoing war in Syria, which could destabilise the whole region. The situation in Ukraine, that could lead to a limited war in Europe. At home, we have the forthcoming EU Parliament elections, the economic problems, and issues over benefits, and the NHS. So, what do the BBC News broadcasts offer us? Unlimited coverage of the trial of a South African man, accused of killing his girlfriend. This trial, and the murder that preceded it, may have been of more than usual interest, as the accused is a well-known athelete, who has appeared in the Paralympic Games. Perhaps a short overview, followed by news of the eventual verdict, would have been in order. However, the court ruled that parts of the trial could be televised, and the BBC jumped on the bandwagon, becoming part of the media circus that wanted to show us these proceedings.

For those of you that know nothing of the Pistorius trial, here is a brief outline of the events. On Valentine’s Day, 2013, Pistorius and his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, were together in his house in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa. He shot her dead, as she hid in the shower, firing many times through the glass door. From the beginning, he admitted the shooting, but claimed that he believed that she was an intruder. Despite the fact that he realised she was not in bed, that an argument preceding the shooting was heard by witnesses, and that she could be heard screaming behind the shower, it never occurred to him to ask if it was her. He just shot through the glass. Surely one of the worst defences ever presented in a murder charge? It is so obvious that he killed her following some sort of jealous argument. Given that he had to put on prosthetic legs, get his pistol from the bedroom (all in the dark) and then shoot through the door of the shower cubicle, who could possibly believe that this was an accidental shooting, in fear of an intruder? If he was not a well-known athelete, and backed by substantial funds, this laughable case would have never been presented.

Trials in the UK are not allowed to be shown on television. Even photographs are not allowed, so we have long tolerated sketches of accused persons, and notable Judges, in our media here. From TV and Cinema, we are all well-aware how these trials proceed, and the technicalities that surround them. We are conversant with the system of defence following prosecution, how witnesses give evidence, and how juries make their deliberations. We do not need to see it played out in its entirety on TV news. It is just pointless. What makes the Pistorius trial even more ludicrous to show on news programmes, is the fact that he is not allowed to be shown. There is a delay in transmission as well, presumably to allow for ‘editing’. What we are left with, are views of the judge, the barristers, and an occasional witness who does not object to being televised. We hear the answers from the accused, as well as his crying and whining, but do not see him in the court. We are deprived of seeing for ourselves, being able to judge his sincerity, or otherwise.

Instead, we have a succession of journalists paraded before the camera, offering their interpretation of his behaviour, and their version of those parts of the trial we are unable to see. Pundits are wheeled on, to offer speculation, background detail, and such minutiae as how long a tea break will be, or what the accused had for lunch. I can see no justification for the tedious and blanket coverage  of this trial, other than the ‘excitement’ of being able to show events ‘live’ from a court. The BBC is a public service, funded by a licence fee which we all have to pay if we own a TV set, whether we want to or not. It should be more responsible with how it spends that money, and not waste it with this interminable coverage of a foreign trial, in a country thousands of miles away. For balance, I should add that Sky News also broadcasts exactly the same output, at the same time. But this is a satellite channel, and we do not have to pay for it.

Many of us, myself included, have written in to the BBC to complain. They defend their actions by stating that there is huge public interest in the case, borne out by visits to their website, and audience figures for the trial reports. What they conveniently forget to mention, is that if you turn on the news, or visit the website, this is the lead story at all times, so we have no other option but to unwittingly become part of those audience statistics.

The BBC was once an institution to be proud of. Compared to some other countries television, it still is, in some respects. Sadly, in seeking to be more populist, less intellectual, and to gather audience figures, it is now just playing the game of telling us what we need to see, instead of allowing us to make up our own minds. It needs to get back to reporting the news that is happening, instead of becoming part of the institution that creates news that they want us to watch.

I suspect that the film and TV rights have already been sold, and the book launch will quickly follow the verdict.