The Welfare State We're In, The website of the book by James Bartholomew
December 09, 2010
Thursday
The welfare state versus happiness

What makes people happy more than any other phenomenon?

According to a poll commissioned by Radio 5 Live, the answer is 'family'.

What has happened to families in the past fifty years?

They are more dismembered than at any time in Britain's history. There is less marriage and more divorce. There are many more people living alone.

It follows that what appears to be the most profound source of happiness in people's lives has been seriously damaged.

I argue in The Welfare State We're In that the welfare state is a major cause of 'broken families'. And through this mechanism, the welfare state has indirectly undermined the greatest source of human happiness.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Parenting • Welfare benefits

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October 18, 2010
Monday
What the tea partyists want

Here is an article about what the tea partyists really want. It is useful because it is a coherent analysis of feelings that normally are not explained so articulately.

Basically, the author is saying that Tea Party people feel a sense of injustice (which the author - rather unsatisfactorily to my mind - refers to as offences against 'karma'). They feel it is unfair or unjust that some people get cash and other kinds of benefit or consideration for behaving badly or not working or not working hard. The feel it is unjust that many banks were bailed out.

The article is also interesting for dividing people into three political groups: liberals, libertarians and conservatives. This provides more precision than the usual divide in Britain between simply those who are right-wing and those who are left-wing.

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June 27, 2010
Sunday
"Something that does not work cannot be just"

"The decisive question is not 'What is socially just?'It is 'What works?' Because something that does not work cannot be just."

Robert Nef in The Welfare State Destroys Welfare and Destroys the State (p5)published by the Liberales Institut, Zurich.

Here is a link to the Liberales Institut website page on its publications.

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June 20, 2010
Sunday
'The welfare state is too serious a matter to be left to the socialists"

"The welfare state is too serious matter to be left to the socialists, but equally its radical critics should be taken seriously only if they succeed in pointing up alternatives."

Another quote from The Welfare State against welfare and the state by Robert Nef, published by the Liberales Institut in Zurich.

Here is a link to the Liberales Institut website page on its publications.

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June 14, 2010
Monday
Welfare states can damage behaviour

(Based on a talk at the Liberales Institut, Zurich 10/6/10)

The England team was preparing recently for the football World Cup championship and had a ‘friendly’ game. During the game, one of England’s outstanding players, Wayne Rooney, disagreed with the referee and told him so in foul language. The local referee was disgusted. He gave Rooney a yellow card and took the unusual step of revealing that Rooney had said to him ‘f--- you!’

The British press was appalled. But not appalled at the fact that Rooney was criticising and insulting the referee. No, that did not bother them at all. They were concerned, rather, that Rooney’s fits of temper made the England team vulnerable. Several former players and managers voiced their opinion that opposing teams would be well advised to ‘wind him up’ and thus get him to commit a foul or an assault which would cause him to be sent off.

Terry Butcher, a former played quoted in the Sun, suggested

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Behaviour & Crime • General • Parenting • Welfare benefits

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March 29, 2010
Monday
"from the possibly fatherless cradle...to an early grave"

Alongside the printed article in the previous posting is a box comparing British and French healthcare. It refers to the expression "from the cradle to the grave" - a term which I think was created by Winston Churchill and referred to the welfare state in general. These days the phrase might be adapted to read, "from the possibly fatherless cradle perhaps to a second-rate education, to a high risk of unemployment via an uncivil society to a miserable state pension with an increased risk of MRSA and thus an early grave".

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July 14, 2009
Tuesday
Ten welfare failures of the Labour administration

Here are ten pretty dramatic assertions about how Labour has affected the welfare of the poor during its twelve years in power. They are extracted from an article by Fraser Nelson in the The Spectator:

1. "Even by Labour’s favourite measure, the Gini index, which measures income gaps across various countries, inequality is at a record high — towering above the levels seen in the Thatcher years."

2. "Scandalously, the poorest 10 per cent now have a disposable income of £87 a week, down from £96 a week eight years ago."

3. "Foreign-born workers account for all net job creation in the private sector since 1997. That is to say, strip out the public sector and there are fewer British-born people in work now than in 1997."

4. "As for youth unemployment, that is now a third higher than when Labour took office."

5. "At no point since Labour came to power has the number on out- of-work benefits fallen below five million."

6. "Of these working-age people, 1.1 million — equivalent to the population of a city the size of Birmingham — have never worked a day in the Labour years."

7. "International surveys show school standards are declining, with the poorest hit worst."

8. "Studies set up in the early Labour years to track progress have in fact tracked decline."

9. "Infant mortality gaps between the rich and poor have — quite extraordinarily — widened under Labour."

10. "Ditto the gulf in life expectancy."

These points are mentioned almost casually in his article. But each is powerful. Assuming they are true, should be far better known. Television and radio interviewers should all be sent a copy to put the points to Labour ministers when they are crowing about their supposed successes. Tory shadows should repeat them frequently.

I would be glad if it were possible to have links to the sources of the data supporting these assertions. Fraser Nelson says in his article: "none of the above figures have [sic] been published by the government - this magazine lodged a request for their release".
It would be good if he would put the sources up online so the assertions could be repeated with confidence.

But the big point, which he makes well, is this: "The Prime Minister's greatest contribution to convervatism... has been to test to destruction the idea that money solves social problems."

And again, "Mr Brown's government spent like no other, and was socially regressive."

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Education • General • Parenting • Welfare benefits

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May 26, 2009
Tuesday
Talk at the Cato Institute

Last week I gave a talk about the book at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. It is available to view on the Cato website here.

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August 12, 2007
Sunday
"Abject poverty" to be wiped out in India

I have just been listening to a Radio 4 programme on India. One person, perhaps the finance minister, asserted that one in four primary school teachers in India does not turn up for work. This is an extreme measure of just how bad and corrupt the state can be in providing education. James Tooley, of course, has done much research in this area in developing countries before, but to hear the words said on Radio 4, which is traditionally so much in favour of state welfare provision, was interesting. The fact that this is evidence, to put it mildly, that the state has been incompetent in providing education in India was not, of course, drawn out or developed.

It was definitely the current Finance Minister who said on the programme that, on the basis of improvements over the past 10 to 15 years, it was likely that "abject poverty" in India would be "wiped out" by 2020 or 2025. In these past years, of course, India finally turned away from the socialism it had adopted since the Second World War and moved towards the market economy.

It seems likely that it will be capitalism that saves the abject poor in India, not socialism. It was good to hear a man in such a powerful position politely asserting this.

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July 29, 2007
Sunday
The worst social evils of the 21st century

Recently I took part in a debate at the Royal Society for Arts about what are the greatest social evils of our time. I was welcomed by Matthew Taylor as I went in and he called me a 'token right-winger' which gives an idea of the views of most of the other participants. The main speech was by Julia Unwin. There was, perhaps surprisingly, some agreement about the worst social evils such as cultural impoverishment. However, even here I am sure we had wholly different views about the causes of that impoverishment.

The RSA website has an audio recording of the debate. The actual recording is here: http://www.thersa.org/audio/lecture190707.mp3

My main contribution starts just after a third of the way through. I also commented on the notion that the market economy has increased avarice in modern society at the beginning of the last eighth of the recording.

In my comments I mistakenly referred to a market in Rome having been created by Tiberius. I think the one I was thinking of was actually created by Trajan. I should also have mentioned that in late Victorian times, when charitable giving was vastly higher than it is now and behaviour was better, there was lower tax and Britain had much more of a market economy.

The page leading to the recording is here: http://www.rsa.org.uk/index.asp

Incidentally, the idea of the Julia Unwin that climate change should be regarded as a major social evil seemed to me quite extraodinary. It may or may not be an evil, but it is surely not a social evil. I am dismayed by the way that she - and perhaps the Royal Society of Arts, too - have turned old charities to address their own interests instead of the views and intentions of those who founded them.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Behaviour & Crime • General

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May 06, 2007
Sunday
Out of the mouths of babes

My 10-year-old daughter explained something to me a few days ago. It went something like this:

"When I was on holiday with mummy in Spain, when mummy was paying I didn't mind what I bought! But then she gave me 50 euros of my own to spend and then I didn't buy things in case, later on, I found something I liked better."

This is the short course in why capitalism works and socialism doesn't. It is a short course in why public services tend to be wasteful (ministers and the rest are spending other people's money).

When it is your own money, you don't waste it.

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January 30, 2007
Tuesday
The "myth image".

Why did the 'magnificent five' (as the KGB called them) spy for the Soviet Union and betray their own country? Professor Christopher Andrew, the secret services historian, said last night that he used to think this was a very difficult question. Why should these people - generally of greatly superior intelligence, especially 'the fifth man', Cairncross - want to work for such an evil person as Stalin?

But he has changed his view and now thinks this is quite an easy question. He thinks they were idealists and that their intelligence did little or nothing to stop them being attracted to what he called the "myth image" of the Soviet Union. He told how Malcolm Muggeridge reported in the 1930s that visitors came from the capitalist West to the Soviet Union wanting to believe that it was wonderful. They were, of course, told by the Soviet officials that it was wonderful and they were doubtless shown the best of what was there. They wanted to fall for the "myth image" and they did.

I think Peregrine Worsthorne reported something similar when he was with other journalists on a guided visit to communist China. The lack of scepticism was remarkable.

I was struck by this phrase: "the myth image". It is precisely what the welfare state has. People want to believe in the myth that the welfare state is marvellous. So they do. High intelligence is no bar to self-deception.

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Lest we forget how bad European communism was

There is a danger that, as time passes, people will begin to think that the communist states were not so bad after all.

Gradually the generation that lived through the last few decades of European communism will become a minority. New generations will grow up who never heard the many anecdotes of deprivation, misery and political oppression that were widespread in those years. I have already heard one BBC radio programme in which Russian communists lamented the passing the 'good old days'.

It is, of course, a reflection of the political bias at the BBC that this programme idea was selected from the thousands that which are constantly being submitted. The way in which the programme was done - giving credence to the idea of 'good old days' - also reflected this bias. But this kind of thing is likely to become more common, not less.

Last night I heard another story of just how bad things were in the Soviet Union. Professor Christopher Andrew, the historian of secret services, gave a talk in which he mentioned in passing that mothers to be 'fled' from hospitals in Moscow and Leningrad. They went to the country to have their babies because they were terrified of having them in City state hospitals where the cross-infection rates were so dreadful.

Later, Mary Kenny, who was in the audience, told me that when she stayed with the Irish ambassador in Moscow in the 1980s, she learned that an American anti-abortion film sent to the Soviet Union had not had the effect intended. An American lobby group had wanted to shock Soviet women with pictures of how dreadful is the reality of abortion. Instead, Soviet women seeing the film were ecstatic by how wonderful - particularly how clean - were American hospitals.

I asked Professor Andrew if he knew of any book which documented the terrible state of the Soviet Union prior to its collapse. He did not. Surely someone has written about this. If not, someone should gather together and verify the stories and the data. The disaster that was communism should not be forgotten. Otherwise it could well be repeated.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Media, including BBC bias • NHS

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November 25, 2006
Saturday
In Italy

Visiting Siena I came to learn that opposite the wonderful cathedral is a charitable hospital called Santa Maria della Scala that was founded, if I remember rightly, some 800 years ago. It was a charitable venture like St Bart's in London. And like St Bart's, it has some wonderful art in it. It was, also like the British charitable hospitals, taken over by the government. The last ward was apparently only closed quite recently. The ill found themselves surrounded with early renaissance frescoes.

Wherever one goes, if one's eyes are open, one comes across welfare provision before welfare states took over.

This does not prove this kind of provision (alongside the family, mutual organisations, friendly societies and self-support) was better. But many people are not aware at all that, prior to government welfare, that there was any welfare provision at all.

Below is a little more about it:

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November 16, 2006
Thursday
The death of Milton Friedman

I am sad to learn of the death of the great Milton Friedman. I was very honoured that he endorsed my book. The idea of asking him only came late. Certain other, far less significant people had been asked but, for one reason or another, most had not been able to oblige. Then - I forget who or why - someone had the idea of asking Milton Friedman. The contact was through Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute.

We were short of time and so we asked if he could make his comment quite soon, so we could use it for the first edition. The reply came back that Mr Friedman would not have time to read the book in time for first publication and he never endorsed a book without reading it from cover to cover. A friend in San Francisco who met Mr Friedman socially at that time reported back that he did not seem particularly interested.

So, the book came out with no mention of Milton Friedman at all. I gave up hope that we would get any comment from him. Then, out of the blue, came an email from Eamonn Butler with comments from Milton Friedman that I would never have dared dream of. I was thrilled and luckily the hardback was selling well enough that there were several re-prints. So the dustjacket was re-designed to incorporate just a few of his kind remarks. And I had the pleasure of knowing that this remarkable and highly influential man had read The Welfare State We're In from cover to cover.

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August 11, 2006
Friday
The welfare state makes us less happy

I have recently been interviewed on behalf of a magazine called Human Givens. Ivan Tyrrell,who has also co-written a book by the same name, was very interested in The Welfare State We're In from a completely unexpected point of view.

The basis of the Human Givens approach is that all human beings have certain well-recognised needs. These include the need to socialise, to have some status and to be stretched. People cannot readily be content without these needs being met.

Ivan was interested in The Welfare State We're In because in it I argue that the welfare state has made people less happy. He fully agrees and sees this as being because it takes away from people - in many ways - the need to stretch themselves, the context in which to socialise and a sense of status.

It is easy to think of examples of this. People who are discouraged by benefits from seeking work get demoralised staying at home. They would be happier being stretched in a job. They would be happier having the sense of achievement in putting food on the table for their families. They would be happier having the status of a job and soicalising at work. Doctors and teachers would be more satisfied if they were more in control of their work instead of being dictated to so much by commandments from government or managers.

We live now in a society where the government controls more and more of our lives. It robs us of a sense that we are the ones who run our own lives. It takes away a certain dignity and, through that, it takes away some of our contentment.

The psychological impact (not to mention the cultural impact) of the welfare state has been enormous. It deserves far more study than the academic world has yet given it.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Welfare benefits

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May 24, 2006
Wednesday
A revision course in the virtues of capitalism


How did "capitalism" become a dirty word? Hostility has slipped by, unopposed, and become pervasive.

It has even reached sport. Yesterday, a correspondent on Radio 4's Today programme described a proposal coming from the European Union to put a cap on the salaries of footballers. He treated this as though it were probably a good thing. Not the merest hint was there that this was interference with a market and therefore likely - like most interferences in markets - to have unintended, damaging effects.

The Church of England on Monday joined in the anti-capitalist zeitgeist with particular enthusiasm. It issued a report called Faithful Cities in which it questioned "our reliance on market-driven capitalism". The report referred to how capitalism "promotes inequality".

The authors felt no need to provide evidence for it. They just took it as read. The report went on to say that the gap between the rich and those "in poverty" should be reduced. So in the Church's eyes, capitalism produces inequality and this inequality is bad. It is hard to conclude anything other than that the Church of England now regards capitalism generally as bad.

We need a culture check here. A society that widely regards capitalism as bad will, in due course, destroy it. Incredibly, it seems necessary to assert afresh that capitalism is the goose that lays the golden eggs - the foundation of the extraordinary wealth we now enjoy, compared with all previous eras of world history.

I was going to say, "Let's take a revision course in why capitalism is good." But few of us had an initial lesson. I don't suggest that every school should have been teaching the virtues of capitalism, but right now they do precisely the opposite.


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May 18, 2006
Thursday
I face some critics (of various different kinds)

I am appearing at an event next month which is open to the public. It is being hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs and is being advertised thus:

The launch of the revised and updated paperback edition of James Bartholomew's best-seller "The Welfare State We're In" at which the author confronts his critics:

Date: Tuesday 13 June 2006

Time: 6.40pm book signing; 7.00pm James confronts his critics; 8.00pm reception & book signing

Venue: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 12 Great George Street, Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD

The critics:

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive, King's Fund

Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden

Prof Patricia Thane, Leverhulme Professor of Contemporary British History, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Moderator: John Blundell, Director General, IEA

RSVP (Acceptances only) to IEA Reception either by email to: iea@iea.org.uk or by fax (020 7799 2137) or phone (020 7799 8900.


What the advertisement does not mention is that Peter Lilley was, of course, Secretary of State for Social Security when the Conservatives were in power. He was in that position for far longer than most and became very knowledgeable about the subject. He instituted some valuable research, did a great deal to reform welfare benefits and tried to get the public and, even more difficult, members of parliament to understand how the system was going wrong.

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May 17, 2006
Wednesday
Article for the Guardian

I am delighted that, finally, I have written a piece for the Guardian. Right from the outset, I have wanted to bring my arguments to those who are Left-wing. It is not good enough to persuade those who are already devotees of free market economics. If many on the Left accept that the welfare state has - at a minimum - caused all sorts of unintended and unwanted consequences, there is a far better chance of meaningful and lasting reform.

Here is the beginning of my article for the Guardian:

When I first proposed writing a critique of the welfare state, my publisher screamed at me: "You can't believe that!" It took 11 years to find a publisher willing to commission it, most of them being appalled by the ideas in it. When, finally, The Welfare State We're In came out, in 2004, I was slightly disappointed by how little attention it got. But since then interest in the book has grown: it seems to have progressed from being regarded as "mad and bad" to "controversial". This seems like progress of a sort. I could be wrong, but I sense that the welfare state is like a religion in which faith is no longer quite so firm as it once was. People generally still pay it respect and regard anything said against it as sacrilege. But genuine conviction that the welfare state has been a terrific success is getting to be rare.

The full article is here.

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May 16, 2006
Tuesday
Stangulation by regulation
Professor Len Shackleton, of Westminster University, shocked me with his disclosure that there are now 80 laws governing employment contracts. He adds that 100,000 employment tribunals are held each year. The increasingly complex web of obligations, all of blamelessly kindly intent, have created conditions that make it ever more difficult for buyers to bargain with sellers.

Shackleton detects another way to measure the excess volume of regulation. In 1979, when Callaghan’s Labour government lost out to Mrs Thatcher, there were 12,000 personnel managers. Now there are 120,000 such folk. I think this is a vivid piece of evidence that we are quietly strangulating employment, except for those in HR of course.

From an article in The Business by John Blundell, director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

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May 14, 2006
Sunday
The welfare state is not a uniquely British creation

During my appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live this evening, one of the panelists argued that we should be "incredibly proud" of the welfare state and referred to its creation after the war.

One misconception about the welfare state which I hope is corrected in The Welfare State We're In (as it is in any book that touches on the history of the welfare state), is it was created in one big revolution by the 1945-50 Labour Government. There was council housing, national unemployment insurance, free state education and national health insurance all before 1945. What is true is that the Labour government took it a big step further.

But what struck me more was the panellist saying we should be 'incredibly proud' of creating it. He was reflecting another misconception which appears less important but actually is more so: the idea that the welfare state is a uniquely British 'achievement'.

It is extraordinary that many British people believe this.

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May 12, 2006
Friday
The drawback to the collapse of communism

There has been one drawback to the collapse of communism at the end of the 20th century. It means that there are very few communist countries left to remind each successive generation just how disastrous, both economically and politically, the system is. Without reminders, there is the danger that future generations may come to think that perhaps it was not such a bad idea. That is why we should treasure and popularise those works which explain and dramatise just how horrible it was. They should be part of every child's education.

My own favorite is....

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May 10, 2006
Wednesday
Baroness Thatcher gives me my instructions

Much to my surprise, I found myself being introduced to Lady Thatcher this afternoon. I was the Institute of Economic Affairs for a lunchtime talk on productivity in the NHS. Afterwards there was a reception for Vaclav Klaus. Lady Thatcher arrived to see and talk to him. After that, she was introduced around the other guests, including myself.

John Blundell, the director of the IEA encouraged me to tell her about The Welfare State We're In, which I did. I told her that the book argues that we would be better off if the previous welfare systems had been allowed to develop instead of being replaced by the welfare state.

She announced, "You must suggest an alternative. If you say the welfare state is no good, you must suggest an alternative."

I have agonised about this before in a previous entry on this website. I said to her that it would be a big job, requiring a lot of research and I doubted people would want to read my particular blueprint. She was having none of that, saying words to the effect: "If you can't think of a good way of communicating it, then you must find a way of communicating it."

I felt like a junior minister being given his instructions. I could see the logic of what she said - all too clearly. Politically, it must be right.

But there are so many problems associated with doing it. The research would cost a great deal of time and money in order to arrive at conclusions worth hearing. Any ideal solution would probably be politically impossible. Any politically possible solution would probably be riddled with faults. I think. But perhaps the great Lady T is right, as so many time before. Of course there are problems, but perhaps I should go ahead anyway.

John Blundell got a copy of the book and I signed it and gave it to her. I said, "Shall I give it to your chauffeur to take?"

She replied, "I am a grocer's daughter." She somehow implied that she understood the importance of advertising and announced, "I will carry it." So I now am delighted to have a picture, not only of myself talking with Lady T but of her carrying The Welfare State We're In. What a woman!


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March 21, 2006
Tuesday
Interview with ABC

I was given a remarkably sympathetic interview by Michael Duffy on ABC Radio National in Australia on Sunday night. I cannot imagine any part of the BBC giving me such a friendly hearing. It might be possible to hear the broadcast here. The interview with me starts after 21 minutes of the programme.

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January 10, 2006
Tuesday
Downloading the BBC Radio 4 programme in which I presented my case

It is still possible to hear the BBC Radio 4 programme in which I argued that 'the welfare state was a mistake'. A visitor to this site kindly tells me one can, for the time being, download the programme here.

This brings up a website which offers three links to the recording. I have used the second one, starting 'megaupload' recently with success. You have to wait while the programme downloads. It seems as if nothing is happening but it is. See the top right hand corner of the website to see how many more seconds before the download is completed. When the download is completed, you can listen. Don't be put off by the fact that the broadcast starts with some brief news before the programme gets under way.

In the programme, I was 'heckled' by Niall Dickson, chief executive of the King's Fund, Professor Nicholas Barr, Professor Pat Thane and the Liberal Democrat MP and shadow spokesman on education, Edward Davey.


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January 09, 2006
Monday
The welfare state does not make us happy

A Dutch professor has recently published a paper indicating that people in Britain are 21st equal in their happiness ranking out of 90. Well above us are people in much less rich, less equal countries where there is less personal freedom.

I have written about this for The First Post website and I will put up a link to that article here when it is available. If that link becomes out of date, try here.

In researching the work of this professor, Ruut Veenhoven of Erasmus University in Rotterdam - the only Professor whose subject is happiness in the world it seems - I came across mention of a paper he wrote on how welfare states affect levels of happiness.

I don't think it is possible to access this paper in its entirety for free, but an abstract of it he states that there is no relationship between health and happiness and the existence of a large welfare state.

Of course I believe that he is wrong. I believe there is a negative correlation between a large welfare state and the health and happiness of a people. But it is perhaps doubly telling that a man who appears to have expected to show that a welfare state causes happiness has been obliged by the evidence not to make such a conclusion.

Here is the abstract:

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January 02, 2006
Monday
State complusion: Trabant (in short supply). Voluntarism: VW Golf.

Below is an outburst of feeling from a friend in the USA. I cite it because it reflects some of my own frustration about the way my opponents think it reasonable and fair to compare 21st century standards now we have the welfare state with circumstances in the 19th century. The implicit suggestion is that no improvement would have taken place without the welfare state.

Very well done. You scored a number of very good points and came across very well. Your opponents were the same old tired-and-familiar establishment.

These types of debates tend to degenerate into the comparisons of the shortcomings of voluntarism in 1906 with the shortcomings of state welfare in 2006. It is so important to emphasize how rapid and dynamic the rate of improvement would have been under voluntarism over the past century. For example, from the same starting point in Germany forty five years of progress produced in the west the Volkswagen Golf as well as a full range of Audis, BMWs and Mercedes, and in the East a state monopoly on automobile production produced ...the Trabant.

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December 28, 2005
Wednesday
The broadcast on Radio 4

I have just listened to the broadcast. For a week, at least, it will be possible to listen to it by clicking on 'Hecklers' in the 'Listen again' part of the BBC Radio 4 website. Click here to get to the right place. Then under 'Hecklers' click 'Listen'.

Quite a lot of the original was edited out. It had to be, to fit into the time allocated.

In general, I don't think I suffered too badly in the editing but there were certain things that I regret were not heard on radio. In particular I regretted the removal of my brief description of how benefit dependency can lead to moral and cultural degeneration. Also, since much of what I and the panellists said was cut, the words of Evan Davies assumed a bigger role than they did on the actual occasion at the LSE. This gave it a different atmosphere and it felt in the broadcast almost as if he were providing an overall judgement - a judgement which probably neither I nor the panellists would wholly agree with.

I should emphasise, though, that I thought he was an excellent chairman.

I noticed that one of Neil Dixon's challenges was removed. He asked me if I was using the Eurocare III figures or the Eurocare II figures. He was no doubt trying to suggest that I was out of date. I assured him that I was indeed using the Eurocare III figures.

Overall, I think the format served me well. If I had just given a lecture, it would have been boring. I listened on the internet in Malta and we gathered around the PC. My extended family here enjoyed the show even though I know they do not all agree with me. But they were happy to listen all the way through in a way which would not have applied if I had had the floor entirely to myself.

CORRECTION, 29/12/05: I have been told by the producer that my comments about benefit dependency leading to moral and cultural decline were not in fact removed. It seems I got that wrong and I apologise to him. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank him for creating the programme. People, including myself, often enjoy taking potshots at the BBC. However it does consist of individuals not robots. This individual, Michael Blastland, put the show on national radio. Thankyou.

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It's tonight

Tonight is the night when the programme is broadcast in which I put the argument 'The welfare state was a mistake' on Radio 4. The programme is called 'Hecklers' because four people, including two LSE professors, interrupt and object to my arguments. It goes out at 8pm.

Some supporters have been concerned that I have four 'lefties' against me and that the odds are stacked in their favour. But I have to say, in defence of the BBC, that this is the formula used for this series and was used in the programme the previous week in which someone argued that specific anti-terrorism laws were unnecessary and unhelpful.

Yes, it is possible to object that, in this format, my point of view is implicitly treated as 'way out' or, at the least, 'controversial'. But I think it is fair to suggest that the idea is, indeed, still controversial in British society. In fact it is a mark of a significant change in the thinking of the British governing class elite (in which I include the BBC) that the status of the idea has moved from being 'mad' a decade ago, to only 'controversial' today. That is progress. Slow progress, yes. But still progress.

It will - or would - be a further mammoth step if we get to the point that it becomes commonplace to think that the state is generally not good at running things.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Media, including BBC bias

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December 12, 2005
Monday
Do you trust the Government? Really?

On radio and television, there is an endless assumption that if there is a problem the state can and should sort it out. The state, implicitly, can be trusted to do the job once it decides to.

Meanwhile there is similarly a perennial drip, drip of adverse comment about pension mis-selling by commercial companies and how such companies are always out to rip you off and are surely in need of evermore regulation.

This assumption that the state is to be trusted and commerce is to be regarded with suspicion often seems normal and widespread in the population as well as in the broadcast media. Yet there is a double-think going on somewhere. For every now and again, there is a poll which reveals that confidence in the state is not so great after all when people are asked concrete questions.

A year or more ago, Ian Duncan Smith's organisation had a polling company ask people how they would use money to do good work. Only a tiny minority thought that handing the money to the government would mean the job was well done. Now there comes a poll by the Association of British Insurers. It asked people whether they trusted the Government to deliver on its pension promises. Only 23 per cent did.

When people were asked if they trusted their company pension schemes, the trust level soared to 74 per cent.

This is part of the ABI press release:

the ABI’s research shows that trust in the Government to deliver on their pensions promises is very low, with only 23% of working people saying that they trust the Government in relation to state pensions. Conversely, 74% of people in work-based pensions do trust their employer to deliver on their private pensions.

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December 08, 2005
Thursday
The day of broadcast

I am now told the talk will be broadcast on 28th December at 8pm (not the 21st December).

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Last night

Jonathan Pearce has written about the talk last night on the Samizdata blog.

See also a comment on my previous entry.

John Wilden, in the audience, made a good point at the end of the evening. He said that the government outlaws monopolies in commercial life. But at the same time, it operates one in healthcare [and education, too, one might add]. This is inconsistent. If monopolies damage the interests of consumers, then monopolies in healthcare and education must also, logically, damage consumers.

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December 07, 2005
Wednesday
Recording a talk for the BBC

I have just returned after giving a talk at the London School of Economics which will be broadcasting on BBC Radio 4 on 21st December at 8pm. I think it went all right. There were even a few laught. My voice held out, thank goodness - or rather thanks to a strong dose of a cough-suppressing drug. I started cautiously, in case my voice started to break, but then I became more confident as I realised it was not going to.

In each section of the three sections of my argument I was barely able to get past the first quarter or third of what I intended to say because the objections of the four 'hecklers' were so long and extended. So it was really half-way between a talk and a debate.

Whether or not my attempts briefly to fill in the argument will make it through the editing, I don't know. As ever, one is in the hands of the editor. The playing time will be about 45 minutes, I think, but at least an hour and 10 minutes was recorded, so there will be plenty of opportunity to shape the programme through the editing.

But I have no reason to think that I will be 'edited against'. I look forward to hearing it. I had a drink with the producer afterwards who told me the audience should be about half a million.

Also having a drink with us afterwards was a neuro-surgeon who told me that as young British doctors are to be limited to 48 hours on duty each week whereas young American doctors will be on duty for - if I heard him right - 80 hours, the difference in experience between the two will become very marked.

I asked where in the world he would want to be treated if he had a serious illness. He wanted to know which disease was involved. I said, 'let's pretend you don't know the disease'. He opted by the Massuchusetts General in Boston.

If it had to be in Britain, he said he would go for the London Clinic.

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It is tonight

Tonight is the night of my talk at the LSE which will be recorded by the BBC. It could be touch and go: after a long cold, I currently tend to start coughing after about 10 minutes. I am due to talk this evening for 33 minutes.

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December 05, 2005
Monday
Very soon now

On Wednesday, coughs and colds permitting, I will give a talk at the London School of Economics. Four well-qualified people will have licensed to interrupt. Entry is free.

At the end, members of the audience will be invited to make comments, some of which will be used when it is broadcast.

I would be delighted if those who visit this site and agree with some of the ideas come and give their support.

The link to the details of the event is here.

The programme will be broadcast on 21st December on Radio 4 at 8.00pm.

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November 02, 2005
Wednesday
The continuing reduction in British military power

Since 1997, the British armed forces have been 'slashed'.

Soon the Navy will have lost ten thousand men, the Army nine thousand an sixteen thousand from the RAF. A fifth of our tanks gone, 130 of our aircraft and a quarter of our surface ships too.

This is from Michal Ancram's speech at the Conservative Party Conference.

The reduction is British forces is despite being involved in wars in Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

All this is not directly relevant to the welfare state. However it is a reaction to the pressure on government funds which, in turn, is a symptom of this administration desperately trying to make the NHS and state education work better by devoting ever increasing amounts of money to them. The government has to cut everything else to try to raise the money without increasing taxes too much.

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November 01, 2005
Tuesday
The centralisation threat - but 'no two classes of men exist'

I have come across across a good little booklet about the tendency of governments to become more and more centralised. Despite occasional infelicities in the translation from the original, it is a concise description and analysis of this tendency. For example, I liked this part of the conclusion:

At the bottom-line of all centralist tendencies rests the paternalistic vision of society, which denies man's ability to organise his life according to his own plans. The observed tendency towards bureaucratic centralisation is a salient expression of the widespread belief in a bureaucratic version of the Platonian two-class society: at the top a small and enlightened bureacracy, at the bottom the dumb rest of society. In combination with a prevailing totalitarian notion of equality, centralisation is perceived as the hallmark of social progress. Any critique of the bureaucracy must therefore rest on the basic insight that no two classes of men exist and that hence everybody is responsive to incentives.

The authors go on to refer to the incentive for a bureaucracy towards centralisation.

So what controls can resist this tendency?

Many people are comforted by the idea that in any democracy, the voice of the people will limit and direct the centre. But

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October 08, 2005
Saturday
Charity did not always help even the 'deserving' poor.

The following was submitted as a comment on 'about James Bartholomew'. It was not really suitable for that spot but I think it is interesting and raises a point that is always likely to put up in objection to the arguments in the book, so here it is. The comment was submitted by J. Wallis Martin:

I agree with many of the points you raised in 'The Welfare State We're In', but cannot see an alternative to the Welfare State.

My great-grandmother appealed for help from a church based charity in Warrington. She had been widowed, and had two children, a disabled aunt, and her own mother to care for. They were starving. When she explained her circumstances to Mrs. Broadbent (whose family were prominent in Warrington at that time), she was provided with a recipe for making soup from potato peelings.

My great grandmother was regarded one of the 'deserving' poor. I cannot imagine how she would have been treated had she been regarded one of the 'criminally' poor.

It is a point with power than deserves an answer. I could write at length in reply but I will only mention one point:

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September 27, 2005
Tuesday
Conservative Party Conference

If any visitor to this site is going to the Conservative party Conference, please note that I will be talking there on Tuesday at 1pm (see the box on forthcoming engagements). I will also be signing copies of the book at the Politico's stand at 3pm. I would be glad to see any of you at either event.

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August 22, 2005
Monday
Why, comrade, is the factory less efficient than it was in pre-revolutionary days?

In Victor Kravchenko's book, I Chose Freedom, he becomes a keen member of the Communist Party and is outspoken in criticising inefficiency in production. His writing and reputation comes to interest people higher up the hierarchy to the point where Sergo Ordshonikidze, an intimate of Stalin, gets to hear of him and is introduced to him at the plant.

Ordshonikidze asks him how the work is going. Kravchenko replies, "Good, though it could be better."

Ordshonikidze asks what he means but Kravchenko says he can't express it in a few words. Ordshonikidze encourages him to talk on. This is what Kravchenko says:

"Well, it's like this, Comrade Commissar. There's too much apparatus, too many people checking on each other. I've looked into the record of pre-revolutionary years in this very plant and I find that our administrative staff have gone up almost 35 per cent. That seems to me wrong. People are in each other's way. Everybody is responsible for results which means that nobody is responsible. We work badly and spend too much. Why is that capitalists made profits in this plant, and we show only losses? After all, the workers work as well as in the past, so the trouble much be in ourselves."

His very reminiscent of what happens in state industries in the here and now. There is widescale administrative overmanning in the NHS and education. Kravchenko struggles to understand exactly how a state run system comes to be so much less efficient than a capitalist one. It is a very important subject. It should be studied in schools and universities.

(Incidentally, it emerges further on that some of the people 'checking on each other' are trade union and Communist Party officials.)

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May 24, 2005
Tuesday
Being a middle class Briton is not as good as it used to be

There used to be a time when being middle class meant you had worked hard and done well. You established your financial independence and achieved what Tony Blair would like more of : some respect.

But now it seems to be a different matter. The middle class seems more and more put upon.

The latest example comes from the government commission on pensions which has come up with the bright idea that people who go to university - typically from the middle class - should have a later retirement age than everyone else. They would be expected to work an extra five years before getting a state pension. Meanwhile the government has announced a new scheme to use taxpayers' money - raised largely from the middle class, of course - for the state to part-own properties alongside first-time buyers.

Being middle class is still preferable, of course, to being poor. But one has an increasing sense of life becoming more difficult for its members. It starts from early in life.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Tax and growth

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May 23, 2005
Monday
What about the oppressed working class at Radio 4 news

If course we already knew that Radio 4 has a profound Left-wing bias and tends to be sympathetic to trade unions rather than business. But further confirmation came today with the news that whereas most programming could go ahead with over 60 per cent of staff turning up for work, John Humphrys, the best-known presenter of the Today programme, was told not to bother coming in since so many of the staff on the Today programme were joining the strike.

John Humphrys anyway expressed sympathy with the strike, saying that he had been a father of an NUJ chapel. He talks as if strikes were tribal (or perhaps a kind of class warfare in which he, ludicrously, might like to associate himself with the oppressed working men and women of the BBC). Such tribalism is what he refers to, rather than the rights and wrongs of the strike.

This strike does appear to be just a matter of a union trying to prevent a management from reducing the workforce. It is a union merely pursuing its producer interest through blackmail and trying to prevent managers from managing.

As in all government-run businesses, there is undoubtedly vast amounts of waste in the BBC. Thank good for at least one member of the BBC, Declan Curry, who was quoted as saying,

"I don't support the strike at all. The management have made a very strong case in my view as to why these cuts are necessary. It's other people's money that we are spending and we have to use it as wisely as we can.

"Whatever differences we may have with management, it is up to us to resolve them in a way that does not leave the viewer or the listener suffering."


The Guardian online coverage is here.

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May 11, 2005
Wednesday
NHS beds halve and crimes against the person up 281 per cent
The NHS is the world's third-largest employer with a million people on its books, second only to the Chinese Army and Indian railways. We spend some £80 billion a year on the NHS, equating to £1,400 annually for every man, woman and child. Despite this the number of NHS beds in England has halved in the past 25 years.
The average British woman will have 2.2 healthy pregnancies in her lifetime - almost enough to keep the UK population stable - but will give birth to only 1.7 children. The difference is accounted for by the number of abortions.
The number of people working in the public sector has increased by 10 per cent since 1998, accounting for some half a million of the new jobs created since Labour came to power.
Total public sector employment in 5.29 million, up from 4.71 million in 1997.
In 1981, 600,000 people claimed incapacity benefit. Now it is 2.2 million.
The greatest increases in recorded crime since 1997 have been in drug offences (509 per cent) and violence against the person (281 per cent) and there has been a drop in burglaries by nearly a fifth.
More than half the households in Britain have less than £1,500 in savings, and a quarter have no savings at all.
Teenage birth rates in Britain are twice as high as in Germany, and five times as high as in Holland.
150,000 children are educated at home, and the figure is rising. Bullying, harrassment and religion are the reasons most cited by parents for taking their children out of school.

From Britain in Numbers published by Politico's and serialised in today's Daily Mail.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in Behaviour & Crime • Education • General • NHS • Parenting • Waste in public services • Welfare benefits

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May 02, 2005
Monday
Postcard from Miami

I am in Miami and about to go to see a private school which takes children with state education vouchers and then a Catholic hospital which takes the poor.

It has been stimulating here. I have been reminded how big is the cultural gap between Britain and America in the way people talk, dress and relate to each other as well as in the landscape.

The most interesting part of the Heritage Foundation 'Resource Bank' (which seems to mean 'conference') was the session in which Patricia Levesque, a very personable, friendly, intelligent, senior woman of a sort we don't see much in the Britain, from the office of the Governor, Jeb Bush, explained the Florida programme for offering choice for school children. It became clear that the choice programme so far is tiny and yet has encountered fierce opposition. A man called Jay Green, from the Manhattan Institute, went through the testing of the success or otherwise of this same choice programme. The data he supplied appeared to be overwhelming. Not only did the children benefit but the children in the schools that were 'left behind' benefitted too.

There are many different programmes, but the biggest one allows handicapped children to move from the local government schools to other local government schools or to private schools (with the benefit of local government funding). You could call this a voucher scheme.

It was fascinating that the Manhattan Institute had actually gone to the lengths of testing what was the effect on the local government schools of having some children leaving. The effect was actually positive. He reckoned this was because of the incentive to perform that was placed on the local government school.

More soon. I have to go.

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April 30, 2005
Saturday
The dilemma of charities
...belief in restoring people to 'self-respect and self-support' has led compassionate conservatives to reject the de-humanising 'feed-and-forget' philosophy that has come to characterises the welfare state's attitude to its dependent clients. Compassionate conservatives want to see 'help-to-change' charities becoming an increasing feature of society's response to poverty.

Compassionate conservatives are then faced with something of a dilemma.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • NHS • Welfare benefits

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April 29, 2005
Friday
'A life of service is a life of significance'

Who said this:

I leave you with this challenge: serve a neighbour in need, because a life of service is a life of significance. Because materialism ultimately is boring, and consumerism can build a prison of wants. Because a person who is not responsible for others is a person who is truly alone. Because there are few better ways to express our love for America than to care for other Americans. And because the same God who endows us with individual rights also calls us to social obligations.

Was it Martin Luther King? Or Lyndon Johnson? No, it was

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April 28, 2005
Thursday
Visit to Miami

I will be flying to Florida today to give a short talk at a conference in Miami organised by the Heritage Foundation. I will be on a panel alongside Jason Turner, a man who has been there and done it - he reformed welfare benefits in Wisconsin and then was hired by Rudolph Giuliani to do the same in New York.

On Monday, I will be visiting the Mercy Hospital in Miami - a 483 bed Catholic hospital which offers subsidised and sometimes free treatment to the poor. This is the section of the hospital's website dealing with this aspect of its activities.

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April 13, 2005
Wednesday
Do the railways prove that private provision does not work?

A visitor to this site, emailed me the following:

James,

I have been reading your book “The Welfare State We’re In” with much interest.

Whenever I present the ideas in your book (to friends and colleagues) almost inevitably the reply comes “It didn’t work with the railways,” how do you best counter this argument?

Many Thanks,
[J.G.]

This was my reply:

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April 12, 2005
Tuesday
Sweden - not so great and not so Socialist either it seems

Sweden is important because so many people believe it to be an example of how you can have everything: a huge state sector, high taxes, the ultimate in a welfare state and yet also prosperity and good, well-educated citizens.

Previously I have written about how women who work do relatively badly in Sweden because of the legal rights they have been given. In The Welfare State We're In, I looked at the modest rate of economic growth in Sweden. I have now come across a French website called Liberte (forgive me for not knowing how to put an acute accent on the final 'e') which has a long posting about Sweden.

If my limited French does not deceive me, the posting says that there was a crisis in Sweden in 1990-93 during which the state came to account for 67 per cent of GDP, the government budget deficit reached 12 per cent and unemployment reached 12 per cent, too. As a result of this crisis, Sweden reduced the scope of the state and it has now come down to a few points above 50 per cent of economic activity.

The site suggests that modern Sweden - partly because of the pullback in the state's role no doubt - is not quite as Socialist as is widely thought. The railways have been fully and successfully privatised.

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April 07, 2005
Thursday
The Government should do something about it

How demands for governments to 'do something about it' work:

With a few exceptions contemporary commentators on economic problems are advocating economic intervention. This unanimity does not necessarily mean that they approve of interventionistic measures by government or other coer­cive powers. Authors of economics books, essays, articles, and political platforms demand interventionistic measures before they are taken, but once they have been imposed no one likes them. Then everyone - usually even the authori­ties responsible for them — call them insufficient and unsat­isfactory. Generally the demand then arises for the replace­ment of unsatisfactory interventions by other, more suitable measures. And once the new demands have been met, the same scenario begins all over again. The universal desire for the interventionist system is matched by the rejection of all concrete measures of the interventionist policy.

This is from Kritik des Interventionismus, 1929, republished in 1976 as A Critique of Interventionism, Translation copyright 1977 by Margit von Mises. It appears in full on the Ludwig Von Mises website here.

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April 04, 2005
Monday
Are people able to look after themselves?

A key issue for those of us who believe the state is bad at looking after people, is whether or not individuals are any good at it either.

This is Tim Congdon in the Telegraph today on the competence or otherwise of people in saving:

Much of economic theory is concerned to establish that people are rational. But theoreticians and practitioners do not always see eye to eye. When confronted with real-world problems, economists are inclined to forget that they live in a world of rational agents.

Indeed, they are quite unembarrassed about offering recommendations to politicians which make sense only if people are rather silly. A good example is the recent report from the Pensions Commission, under the chairmanship of Adair Turner.

It says flatly: "Most people do not make rational decisions about long-term savings without encouragement and advice.'' The report proceeds from this patronising remark to recommend increased state involvement in pension provision, with a consequent enlargement of the government's role in the economy and a rise in taxation.

Professor Congdon goes on to look at the overall savings people make including saving that is not labelled "pension saving" but which nonetheless can be used for that purpose. He concludes that people are perfectly rational. His analysis may be open to challenge. But I want to mention another area in which the rationality of people in looking after themselves may be in doubt.

In America, people have to pay for their own healthcare. But in the same country, the incidence of obesity is very high. Why, when they must know that being fat increases their chances of premature death and early use of expensive healthcare, do so many Americans allow themselves to become fat? It does not seem sensible or rational.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • NHS • Pensions • Welfare benefits

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April 02, 2005
Saturday
Wouldn't that be good?

Admirable ideas from John Redwood:

The Conservatives have also thrown their weight behind a campaign to maintain the availability of hundreds of vitamins and food supplements that are threatened by an EU directive.

A Conservative government would opt out of the directive, which comes into force on Aug 1. In the health service, 686 performance targets, which had distorted clinical priorities, would go.

Britain's opt-out from the EU's social chapter would be revived and Labour's plans for people wanting to sell their homes to pay for "seller's packs" would be scrapped.

Current rules to prevent money laundering by terrorists and drug dealers were too onerous on law-abiding citizens. When he went into his bank to deposit money, even though the staff knew him as their MP he still had to produce evidence of his identity. He said the system could be streamlined for everyday banking without compromising national security.

The full story is in the Daily Telegraph today.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in European Union • General

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March 31, 2005
Thursday
On your bike

In today's Daily Mail, Quentin Letts describes one of the 'masochism sessions' which Tony Blair is going in for in the run-up to the coming election. He was on Sky News and was criticised by one voter after another regarding public services.

He waffled and made handsome noises of sympathy, with some Bill Clinton-style eye narrowing and shakes of the head.

The problem with these TV whip-fests he is suddenly doing is that no one ever says 'tax us less'.

The impetus, by the very nature of live TV, goes to the 'something must be done' brigade, with their lurid demands for more state spending. This suits Labour's philosophy but it underplays personal responsibility.

So when a whiny ex-con started bleating that the state was not doing enough to help him, no one told him to pull himself together. How one ached for a Norman Tebbit to tell the miserable little so-and-son to pull out his finger rather than making the rest of us pay.

Sadly it appears to be part of the nature of democratic government that appeals for the state to 'do something about it' get more of a hearing than objections that state interference in the past has done more harm than good.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Media, including BBC bias • Politics

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March 26, 2005
Saturday
How can you bring about reform when there is reporting like this?

One of the greatest problems in persuading people that the welfare state is damaging is the difference in reporting experienced by the private and public sectors. When something goes wrong in the private sector, the fact that it is the private sector is particularly drawn to the attention of the audience. But when something goes wrong in the public sector, the same does not apply. You would never have a story starting, "A prisoner found hanged in his cell at a state-run Warwickshire jail...". But you would get the following, as revealed on the Biased-BBC website:

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March 23, 2005
Wednesday
Words used by 'public servants' to obscure and self-aggrandise

From the latest Adam Smith Institute email newsletter:

My friend John Hughes, CE of Cygnet Health Care, has sent me a neat little squib mocking the tide of jargon in so many government services. It's basically just three columns, and you pick one word from each and string them together. He calculates it can generate up to 91,125 authoritative buzz phrases. Saves so much time writing reports to ministries. Here's a sample:

Proactive Performance Strategies
Collaborative Partnership Process
Developmental Community Potential
Resource-rich Governance Approaches
Interactive Organizational Pathways
Intensive Consumer-led Modifiers

So from that you can generate "proactive consumer-led approaches" or
"developmental community strategies" or pretty much anything you like. If only some of it actually delivered any service to the public!

The Adam Smith Institute website is here and the insitute's blog is here.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • General • Waste in public services

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Words used by 'public servants' to obscure and self-aggrandise

From the latest Adam Smith Institute email newsletter:

My friend John Hughes, CE of Cygnet Health Care, has sent me a neat little squib mocking the tide of jargon in so many government services. It's basically just three columns, and you pick one word from each and string them together. He calculates it can generate up to 91,125 authoritative buzz phrases. Saves so much time writing reports to ministries. Here's a sample:

Proactive Performance Strategies
Collaborative Partnership Process
Developmental Community Potential
Resource-rich Governance Approaches
Interactive Organizational Pathways
Intensive Consumer-led Modifiers

So from that you can generate "proactive consumer-led approaches" or
"developmental community strategies" or pretty much anything you like. If only some of it actually delivered any service to the public!

The Adam Smith Institute website is here and the insitute's blog is here.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • General • Waste in public services

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March 21, 2005
Monday
Women and work

Some commonly believed myths:

That the pay of women in Sweden is closer to that of men than in other societies.

In fact, their pay is lower compared to men than it is for women in other countries. The reason is that they have more rights to maternity leave and that commercial employers therefore avoid employing women, particularly in responsible positions. The pay of women in the USA, relative to that of men, is higher.

That women all wish to combine full-time careers with having children.

In fact, in the view of Catherine Hakim, the academic at the London Schools of Economics on whose research this posting is based, women can be more realistically divided into three sorts, with different attitudes: 1.Home-centred women, 2. Adaptive women (who want a mix of home life, part-time work and full-time work) and 3. Work-centred women. Women do not all want to have full-time careers. On the contrary, that sort of woman is in the minority. This is one of those 'The emperor has no clothes' observations. The moment the words are said, most of us recognise from our own experience that they are true.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • Parenting

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March 15, 2005
Tuesday
What is virtue?


"People now have a tendency...to feel that they are virtuous on the basis of what they believe rather than on the basis of what they do. They think that if they are outraged and if they think that the government ought to 'do something' about whatever outrages them, that they are one of the good people and that meanwhile others - perhaps greedy corporations or rich people - are the bad people. This is not really a system of morality. It is vanity, laziness and self-delusion."

Excerpt from an interview I gave to James Hamilton for his blog.

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General

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February 27, 2005
Sunday
Good privatisation good, bad privatisation potentially damaging

Some people treat the word 'privatisation' as if it was akin to fascism or racism. In healthcare, the Government has apparently promised that it will not use the private sector for more than 15 per cent of what it does. That reflects the horror that core Labour supporters would feel if any higher percentage were contemplated.

But those who are appalled by the word miss the difference between good privatisation and bad privatisation. They are poles apart and the argument is impoverished and confused by not recognising the fact.

Good privatisation has the following ingredients:
- Consumers, not governments, do the buying
- Choice for the consumer
- Competition between providers
- Little or no regulation
- Low costs of entry for new competitors

Privatisation becomes less advantageous according to the extent to which:

Posted by James Bartholomew • Indexed in General • NHS

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