I too have acquaintances who, whilst aware of and loudly bewailing the many many failings of the NHS, and the unnecessary deaths – sometimes thousands of deaths – that it causes, will in the very next sentence say something like “but aren’t we lucky to have it, if it wasn’t for the NHS I’d be bankrupt and dead” or some such piffle. They are so brainwashed that they cannot even conceive that there might be any other way of organizing things – even though alternatives are all around us, and all of them without exception produce better outcomes. Astonishing.
- Andrew Duffin
Whereas a conservative writer might warn that humans are just as likely, if not more likely, to bungle things when applying past experience to new plans for society as when trying to fix their own private lives – and an optimistic libertarian writer might note that people are far more rational in planning their own lives than in planning others’ – left-liberals have a tendency to think that humans’ ability to plan collectively is inversely proportional to their ability to plan their lives as individuals.
- Todd Seavey
There are some libertarians who believe there may be something to AGW, and see using markets the way to mitigate the consequences. There are also libertarians (and conservatives and lefties) who think AGW is a preposterous fraud, and who naturally have no interest in finding solutions to a non-existent problem. But AGW per se is not a ‘libertarians vs. non-libertarians’ issue. You can still be a libertarian and think there is something to AGW, you are just going to see the ways of dealing with it very differently to command-and-control statists.
- Perry de Havilland
Bonus SQOTD, also from the same raucous beer and grappa fuelled discussion the other night…
Let me answer by rephrasing your question: “Do I trust a bunch of lay observers more than I trust a bunch of academics… academics whose professional acceptance and funding will be put at risk if they commit heresy against the True Faith and suggest AGW might not in fact be the indisputable truth?”
No legal document can save a society from appointing its own slave masters if enough people are determined to do so. Laws alone are not enough.
- Perry de Havilland, discussing constitutions.
Democracy is a great brake, but it is a terrible steering wheel.
- Guy Herbert
Why then are tens of thousands of Latin Americans willingly flooding into a supposedly racist country where cutthroat capitalism ignores the poor and the oppressed such as themselves? In most past polls of Mexican citizens, two general themes often show up: the majority of Mexican nationals believe that the American Southwest still should belong to Mexico, and a sizable minority would like to leave Mexico for the U.S. You figure out the mentality.
- Victor Davis Hanson (H/T, Instapundit.)
Travelling to a country, then despising it, does not strike me as a way to win friends and influence people. I don’t know how widespread this issue is in the US – I’d be interested in comments from US-based readers about the situation on the southern border of the US.
To people clucking that the First Black President deserves more respect, may I suggest that you should have done a better job of picking the First Black President?
“So why is it, then, that when it seems obvious that to understand finance you need to understand human behaviour, Finance World continues to insist that finance is `all about numbers’ and can be fully understood using mathematics? Partly, perhaps, because so many of them are mathematicians to start with and they find it difficult to see things other than within a numerical framework. Partly, perhaps also, because many have Type-A personalities and they find it difficult to deal with uncertainty. Yet surely also because so many are reluctant to admit that they may have been wasting their time all these years basing their work on the Markowitz worldview, just as so many unrepentant socialists found it difficult to admit they had been used as Stalin’s `useful idiots’ when the Soviet Union’ collapsed.”
- Guy Fraser-Sampson, The Pillars of Finance: The Misalignment Theory and Investment Practice, page 187. The book is about how, under the influence of mathematics specialists such as Markowitz, a lot of investment decisions got dangerously out of whack with reality, as we saw in 2008. Despite some pushback, a lot of the investment industry on which our pensions and savings depend are in thrall to risk and market ideas that are seriously mistaken. Throw in the joys of central bank fiat money and the rest, you have a problem. I should add that Fraser-Sampson, who is a professional investment figure as well as academic, is a big fan of the Austrian school (von Mises, etc). Even better, Douglas Adams, the 30 Year’s War and The Goon Show make an appearance. What more can one ask for in a book about finance?
In politics, many debates are polarised for a reason. There are usually profound differences in the ideological priors underlying viewpoints and the interpretation of evidence. We should therefore be suspicious of the arrogance of those who feel they don’t have to formulate arguments from first principles, and instead unilaterally announce themselves and their ideas as above debate.
How often do we hear, for example, “it’s time to take the ideology out of this debate”, or, worse, “I’m only interested in what works”? Often these are rhetorical devices which simply mean “shut up, and accept I’m right”. But in other instances, users of these banal phrases seem genuinely unaware that what they are saying has any sort of ideological assumptions underpinning it.
- Ryan Bourne
The purpose of the NHS is political, not medical. In the UK, in our Coronation of the State as our Bountiful Lord, it is the Crown, the dole is the Orb and State Education is the sceptic sceptre.
Those who question the State threaten to leave you without medical treatment, leading to a horrible death, or starve or be illiterate. Yet a Slaughterhouse like the Mid-Staffs can kill on a scale that an early 1940s German bureaucrat might admire, and nothing happens until hospital the pile of corpses becomes too obvious for excuses not to be shuffled out.
- Samizdata commenter Mr. Ed
The only serious black mark against the NHS was its poor record on keeping people alive
- This was written in all seriousness in a Guardian (No! Really?) article praising the NHS. Seriously. Not joking.
Is it too much to hope that one day these uneducated and bigoted Yorkshire folk will understand that claiming benefits, fly-tipping, littering the streets, threatening people and playing loud music all night – these were the things of which they complained – are simply expressions of cultural diversity, to be warmly embraced? Why don’t they understand that we all have to get along?
- Rod Liddle