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Samizdata quote of the day

Perhaps it is as hard for those who are part of the Gaelic nomenklatura to imagine a world without subsidy as it would be for an Ancient Pict to imagine a discussion about aerodynamics. But BBC staff have the same problem in imaging life without the TV licence fee.

Mr. Ed, who may or may not identify as a horse of course.

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16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • pete

    Removing the funding from minority language pushers wouldn’t solve anything.

    They’d just pop up somewhere else in the subsidised world.

    That’s how these people work. Any cause will do as long as it allows them access to other people’s money so they can live a comfortable life.

  • R. Dawes

    Idle question: why do the powers-that-be persist in antagonising people with that fee as a separate charge-item rather than say having it tacked on to income taxes as a “Public Communications Levy” or somesuch, or even just increase one tax bracket by a percent or two, and then funding things straight out of Consolidated Revenue?

    Not that I am defending any of this, mind, just puzzled by the poor PR skills on display from organisations dedicated to statist propaganda, and am too removed from it all for speculation to be anything other than dark fantasising on darker motive.

  • RAB

    Well R Dawes, the BBC has to pretend that it is in independent broadcaster, hence the licence fee, a time immemorial track of registry and usage since its birth in the 1920’s. It can’t be seen to be the lickspittle bootboy propagandist for the Government now can it? And not just any government, but only left of centre ones, which means basically the Labour party be it New/ Old/Loony left or centrist.

    Besides it’s a National institution. You can’t argue with a National treasure, just like the NHS, now can you?

  • JohnK

    I imagine that if the language of the USA and world business were Irish, there would be no problem in encouraging Irish children to learn the Irish language.

    The problem with Irish (and Welsh and Scots Gaelic) is that they are of very little use. They are spoken by very few people in a very geographically restricted area. And they are also very difficult to learn.

    The main advantage of these minority languages is to give language obsessives access to government money and kudos, and to give pretendy wee parliaments something to do to show how different they are. Thus, the Scots parliament is busy pissing money up the wall by erecting bilingual road signs where they are not wanted, which is everywhere.

    Minority languages are essentially a boondoggle. They are like ethanol in fuel, only with a fiendishly complicated grammar.

  • Besides it’s a National institution. You can’t argue with a National treasure, just like the NHS, now can you?

    Presumably the NHS is described as a National Treasure because foreigners ask where on earth we dug this shit up from?

    Having said that, although the NHS has never been replicated by any other country, quite a few of them have TV License regimes, such as Germany’s “Rundfunkbeitrag”, which is in essence a monthly €17.50 tax to pay for the usual Liberal propaganda. The fee is not dependent on actual TV or radio usage. Rather, every household must pay one flat fee, even if they don’t own a TV or radio.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Well, why not tell the Irish that the words are American imports, not English? If they buy that, I’ve got a bridge and an Opera House to sell them!

  • Deep Lurker

    R. Dawes,

    Making it a separate charge takes advantage of a quirk in human perception: Things look “bigger” when they’re heaped up into one big pile, and “smaller” when they’re divided into a number of smaller piles. This has to be balanced against the costs (“hassle factor”) of dealing with multiple payments, so it can’t be carried too far. But it’s a useful trick, both for honest merchants and for extortionists, governmental and otherwise.

  • James Hargrave

    “The main advantage of these minority languages is to give language obsessives access to government money and kudos, and to give pretendy wee parliaments something to do to show how different they are. Thus, the Scots parliament is busy pissing money up the wall by erecting bilingual road signs where they are not wanted, which is everywhere.”

    The devil makes work for idle brains, and the idle-brained predominate in the wee pretendy parliaments (those in North Britain have been described by my Glasgow correspondent as over-promoted town councillors – the latter words given in caricature pronunciation). Lots of Gaelic spoken in Glasgow… And how many people are monolingual in it even in the Western Isles.

    How much money were the privately owned railways of the Irish Free State obliged to waste on bilingual signage, ticketing, etc. at a time when they could barely afford new locomotives and carriages?

    And in Wales, just like the R of Ireland, the language gives access to all sorts of public sector actual jobs as well as ones newly minted to absorb such people.

  • Presumably the NHS is described as a National Treasure because foreigners ask where on earth we dug this shit up from?

    Bwahahahahaha!

  • […] From commenter John Galt at Samizdata: […]

  • APL

    John Galt: “Presumably the NHS is described as a National Treasure because foreigners ask where on earth we dug this shit up from?”

    Actually, a frequently question foreigners seem to ask is, ‘where can I get my free procedure that I’d have to pay an arm and a leg for at home’?

  • RAB

    Pandering to minority or dying languages can save lives. No really, let me explain…

    My grandfather was a Welsh speaker. He didn’t learn English until he was sent to the “Big City” (snigger!) to be an apprenticed ironmonger when he was 14. He did well in life though and ended up manager of Bedwas Colliery. He used to take me, as a small child, shopping in Caerphilly, and he would bump into his cronies and start chatting in Welsh. I am not a Welsh speaker, but I could understand at least 50% of their conversation. Why? well Welsh is the oldest written language in Europe, and consequently is pretty much medieval, so that it has never developed words to describe the modern world, so radio, tv, car bus etc etc is borrowed from English. It is also a fiendishly difficult language with weird mutations for no apparent reason that I could fathom while learning it.

    But the thing is, is that it is widely spoken in the rural areas of Wales as an everyday language, far far more than Irish and Scots ever has been. Well back in the sixties when the IRA and the Provos were getting restless, we had nutters who called themselves the Free Wales Army and they would run around blowing up TV Broadcast masts and stuff. Now it could all have gotten even nastier like it did in Ireland, but some clever clogs said well seeing as you hate English culture so much, have your own TV station, S4C and bilingual roadsigns. And it worked! No terrorist bombings and murders. Course the first thing that all of South Wales did was to go out and buy a new aerial so they could tune into the “Proper” Channel 4, because hardly anyone watches S4C, Welsh speaking or not, I mean you know rubbish whatever language it’s in, don’t you? But that one sop, that little cultural appeasement, may have saved many innocent lives.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “…the Scots parliament is busy pissing money up the wall by erecting bilingual road signs…”

    On the railways too, even in the South West of Scotland where nobody speaks Gaelic, nobody ever will, and nobody ever did. (Burns wrote in Old Scots, which is a dialect of English, in case anyone is wondering.)

    And there are advertisements all over the place saying how wonderful it is for a child to have a second language (ie Gaelic). Of course it IS wonderful, but why not teach them a useful second language like French or Spanish or even Mandarin?

    Truly there is nothing so wasteful as Hayek “type 4” spending.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed is quite correct.

    And it goes beyond the BBC Tax.

    The “independent” Sky News is required to have the same leftist politics as the BBC. Freedom (having different television news companies offering different points of view) is incomprehensible to the minds of the establishment – or they believe that freedom is evil.

  • Bod

    I remember (many) years ago, dating a girl from the outskirts of Caernarfon. I knew the area slightly, as a tourist, but this was an opportunity to have a ‘native guide’ as it were. My first trip with her to the village store was fun, because the locals all switched to North Walean as soon as the bell on the door jingled. They didn’t recognize Ivor’s daughter (the girlfriend) who had naturally grown up as a native Welsh Speaker. Needless to say their conversation followed the “bloody tourists invading our land” pattern, and there were two or three women in there and 2 men.

    Once we left the store, I got a rather salty translation of the conversation, and I asked whether they were all villagers. Turned out the two guys were (probably) the ‘Active Cell’ of the Free Welsh Army. A kind of Celtic Judean People’s Front.

    I was told (somewhat tongue in cheek) that they kept the name in English because while the Welsh obviously have a word for ‘Wales’, the language was functionally extinct before the concepts of ‘Army’ and ‘Free’ were invented, and “Free Cymraeg Army” would have sounded idiotic.

  • Bod (November 18, 2016 at 5:19 pm), since Wales had slavery in the old days, a word for free must have existed. And the Welsh certainly had the notion of armed groups and battles and leaders. Welsh absorbed loan words from Latin (e.g. scuit, from scutum, for a Roman-style shield as against a Celtic targe), and some of these died out in the centuries after the fall of the Roman empire, but they must have had a word for army.

    When de Valera visited Westminster to demand a free Irish republic, it was not the word ‘free’ but the word ‘republic’ that tripped him. He gave his spiel in Irish and then in English, after which Lloyd George remarked pointedly, “I did not hear the word for republic in your gaelic speech.” After de Valera had fluffed a bit, Lloyd George had a long conversation in Welsh with his secretary and then said, “There is no Celtic word for republic because we Celts have never had such a thing.” A furious de Valera had to accept dominion status. (He later slowly voided the governor-general’s powers by gross cheating, in time to enable himself to behave despicably in WWII.)

    This is the only thing Lloyd George ever did for which I admire him.