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!

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