Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"No Policies"

They just don't get it, it is such an alien concept to Labour that, when one tries to explain to them that the State cannot regulate every single aspect of people's lives, their first reaction is "yes, but you are not proposing any policy!"

Well, that was the whole point, wasn't it?

The latest example was David Cameron's assertion that thousand of ASBOs, countless police targets; an avalanche of new laws; and, generally, a legislative hyperactivity; were doing nothing to make our society more secure - in fact, by clogging the system and drowning the police and the judiciary in mountains of paperwork, they were causing more harm than good.

So he suggested removing all the bureacracy and meaningless ministerial targets, setting clear guidelines, streamlining the criminal code, and then expecting people to follow those guidelines by acting responsibly. Or else.

To me, that sounds sensible stuff - if you want someone to act responsibly, you must give that someone some responsibility; or they'll never ever learn how to.

Take ASBOs, for example (those are "Anti-Social Behaviour Orders:" essentially, restraining orders placed mostly on mis-behaving youths and banning them from being out after a certain time or being in certain areas or associating with certain people).

They are hailed by the Labour Government as a big success and one of the main means they have reduced local crime and vandalism.


However, it recently emerged that, far from being scared by them and cowed into leading a quiet and tranquil life as moody teenagers, actually many of these "looting youths" see ASBOs as a badge of honour and they actually seek to get them and then brag about it (whilst at the same time, happily breaking them all the time, because there are obviously not enough police resources to keep tabs on them all).

And similarly for police targets: excellent idea, in theory; in practice, they require such huge effort and time wasted in paperwork that, effectively, the very existence of targets causes a drop in police productivity.

And I could carry on, talking for example about the literally thousand of new laws introduced by Labour over the past 10 years: each one of them perhaps excellent and laudable, yet their collective effect causing such confusion, so as to reduce the effectiveness of the judiciary system overall.
And that not according to some opposition MPs or libertarian activist, but to some very senior judges.

I believe the time is now right to reverse this lamentable state of affairs and recognise that the State cannot regulate and oversee over all of society's activities: people don't always eat as healthily as we would want them to, they don't seem able to quit smoking, they are not always as good parents as we would wish them to be, and they not always seem to want to work as hard as we'd expect them to.

Well, maybe that's life and one should accept it.
Or maybe they would behave more responsibly, if, instead of treating them as toddlers throwing tantrums, we were to give them the opportunity to learn and accept their individual's responsibilities.

So, yes, less policies. Or no policies at all.

And that's exactly my point.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Blowing it

Apparently, the self-styled "prudent" and "knowledgeable" Chancellor of the Ex-chequer, Gordon Brown, blew £2bn (that's 2,000 million British pounds - no less!) by selling off UK gold reserves at the bottom of the gold market.

And it's not like we can blame bureacrats or grubby, greedy investment bankers: pretty much everyone (from Bank of England officials, to City traders, to consultants) tried to talk him out of his idea of selling off the family gold.

Alas, Mr Brown being a true Scotsman firm in his beliefs and values (or a stubborn, "stalinist," pig-headed and arrogant autocrat - depending on who you listen to) would not be so easily diverted from his chosen path.

That resulted in a net loss, for the taxpayer, of around £2bn - a loss, no doubt, that our taxes have been funding since.

This coming just shortly after the revelation that that one other of Mr Brown's most famed acts (the so-called "pension raid") was taken against the advice of experts and industry bodies (most notably, the CBI) would dent, one might think, Mr Brown's own assertiveness in depicting himself as a "competent" Chancellor.

He doesn't seem to think so, though.
Nor apparently, do share this view his supporters - who (rather amusingly, I must confess) keep stating that "experts were consulted," forgetting however to add, yes, they were indeed consulted and they all told Mr Brown that what he planned doing was complete nonsense.

I also find rather amusing that the ONE choice he is quite rightly praised for (giving indipendence to the Bank of England to set interest rates) is also used by Mr Brown to assert his own "competence."

In reality, what he did was to essentially say: "politicians cannot be trusted with such choices as setting interest rates and, generally, making sound economic decisions. I am thus excusing myself from this responsibility, and am asking someone who seems to have a certain grasp on the matter to do it on my behalf."

Fine, right. No quibbles with it.
What I do quibble with, though, is the fact that one then, 10 years on, goes on to say: "Hey, look at the folks at the BoE - how well they've done to steer the economy clear of recession. I asked them to do it for me, and look how good the economy is (despite all my tax & spending, by the way). Surely, that is because I am a competent fellow."

That, I was once taught at school, would be called a "non sequitur," marked with a red pen in any essay.

It would be a bit like I'd claim myself a genius of the DIY because I hired a good builder and the extension's roof, 10 years on, hasn't yet collapsed on our heads.

And that against all evidence to the contrary, proved by countless (albeit non-fatal) DIY disasters I committed because of my not listening to others' suggestions to leave it to the professionals.

Prime Minister Brown - can't wait for it: what a wonderful material for this blog he promises to be!