November 2006

28 November 2006
What if tyranny worked?

I was having a chat with some of my libertarian friends at the LA conference over the weekend.  We were talking about Hayek and he said something along the lines of: “There’s always the suspicion with him that if socialism was any good at producing fridges and washing machines he would be a socialist.” The implication being that Hayek was wrong.  (And, indeed, that that was what he believed).

I didn’t say so at the time (because my brain works far too slowly) but it occurs to me now that if tyranny was capable of producing the good things in life wouldn’t you have to support it?  Because, even if you wanted to live in your wonderfully-free-but-poor part of the world you wouldn’t get the chance.  If a tyranny is capable of churning out the fridges and washing machines you can sure as hell bet that it can churn out the tanks and fighter jets.

And it would just invade you.  Bye, bye freedom.

Luckily this is not a conclusion I often have to draw.  Usually, or so it seems to me, freedom and prosperity (in all its forms) go together.  Indeed, almost every argument I make on InstaPatrick includes both a moral case and a practical case.

But what if the practical case is far from clear cut? - intellectual property and compulsory purchase - are a couple of examples that spring to mind.  What if in these cases freedom was objectively worse than compulsion?  I think even then I would support freedom partly because it works in so many other areas of life that we can afford to induldge it once in a while and partly because once you’ve started to let a little bit of coercion into the world you find that more follows.

But it’s worth bearing in mind.

22 November 2006
Lewis Page’s “Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs”

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While travelling by train yesterday, I looked up from the book I was reading: Lewis Page’s Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs to look at the new Wembley Stadium.

Or to put it another way: while passing one gargantuan waste of money I was sitting on an even bigger one while reading about another one even bigger than that.

Incidentally, I am not quite sure what to make of Page’s book.  His central claim is that the MoD keeps on spending money on systems that are late, over-budget, and either don’t work or, if they do work, don’t work as well as existing systems, or are irrelevant on the modern battlefield.  Which, if true, is fairly damning stuff.  And I would like it to be true - it fits in pretty well with my Government is incompetent line.

But I am dubious.  It’s all a bit too neat and tidy.  His prescriptions could be summed up as: abolish the RAF, buy more planes, buy a lot more helicopters, buy some proper aircraft carriers and buy American.  Oh and abolish the five most senior ranks in the two remaining services.

If the history of warfare tells us anything it is that strategy, tactics and procurement are messy affairs.  There’s never a silver bullet.

19 November 2006
The camera does lie

We now regularly spend time after video shoots checking studio’s lavatories (with very thick gardening gloves!) for discarded needles, wrappers and makeshift crack cocaine pipes, not mentioning how much time we spend cleaning up same lavatories with disinfectant and bleach.

Julian Taylor, on what it’s like dealing with stick-thin models while they’re still alive. 

But I wonder if there’s more to it than that.  I have run into a couple of TV presenters in real life and they were much thinner than they appeared on screen.  The camera really does add a few pounds.  There’s a definite incentive there to be thinner than is healthy.

08 November 2006
James Bartholomew tells us why he doesn't trust school league tables for the "value-added": schools make sure the initial scores are as low as possible. Another reason not to trust statistics.

05 November 2006
Croziervision Quote of the Day
"War does not reward temporizing and half-measures -- or, rather, it rewards them, but with more war."
Instapundit.

Instapundit doesn't really need much of a boost, least of all from me, but it's a sentiment I've felt so deeply for so long that it's nice to hear from someone else.

03 November 2006
PFI hospitals cost £45bn more, says Wat Tyler quoting the Guardian. OK, so it's from the Guardian, which is hardly the best source in the world but I am inclined to believe it. Yet more evidence that contracting out doesn't work.

02 November 2006
Croziervision quote of the day

This is a beautifully produced book - including some beautiful photographs of very well looked after pigs which unsentimental animal lovers will both appreciate and look forward to eating.

Harry Phibbs reviews the Duchy Originals Cookbook.

Safety is dangerous

Doctor Crippen describes the latest safety-inspired madness.  Junior doctors have been banned from prescribing.  But because learning how to prescribe has always been an on-the-job business it means that in future none of them will be able to prescribe.  And so, in the name of safety, the world is about to become a more dangerous place. Again.

Possibly.  It’s by no means certain.  Of course, they might realise their folly, introduce a training scheme and the nurse practioners that the good Doctor so fears might well do a perfectly good job.  Might.  But, then again, this is the government so the likelihood is that they’ll just screw it up as usual.

Incidentally, while I have a great deal of time for Doctor Crippen when it comes to his hatred of nurse practioners I think he’s barking up the wrong tree.  It all smacks rather too much of wanting to preserve a closed shop.  Which I am against.  That’s not to say that I support the government here.  While it might be perfectly sensible to have nurses (and others) doing work normally performed by doctors this is a government scheme and it’s bound to screwed up.  See above.