We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The statistical correlation between both age and relatively low levels of education, on the one hand, and a vote to leave on the other, was much remarked upon, not only in Britain but throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Age and lack of education were usually taken by commentators as a proxy for stupidity. The majority vote to leave was therefore a triumph of stupidity: for those who vote the right way in any election or referendum have opinions, while those who vote the wrong way have only prejudices. And only the young and educated know what the right way is.

While age is certainly not a guarantee of political wisdom, the ever-increasing experience of life might be expected to conduce to it. But in the wake of the vote, there were even suggestions that the old should have no vote because they wouldn’t have to live as long with the consequences of it. The reaction to the referendum exposed the fragility and shallowness of that each person’s vote should count for same.

The relation between political wisdom and levels of education is far from straightforward. It was educated people who initiated and carried out the Terror in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution, and all the great joy that it brought to the Russian people, was the denouement of decades of propaganda and agitation by the educated elite. There was no shortage of educated people among the Nazi leadership. And the leaders of the Khmer Rouge were also relatively highly-educated, as it happens in France. The founder of Sendero Luminoso, who might have been the Pol Pot of Peru, was a professor of philosophy who wrote his doctoral thesis on Kant.

Theodore Dalrymple

59 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    You could make a good case that education causes moral decay. Maybe Hollywood has got it right- Professors and mad scientists are a great danger to the world! They should be ghettoised! And only allowed half a vote!

  • Anonymous Coward

    How about “the people who voted to join the EU forty years ago voted overwhelmingly to leave it”?

  • Alsadius

    Amusingly, if you run the numbers, the 18-24 set was the *least* likely to vote Remain – as a percentage of actual voters they were the highest, but as a percentage of eligible voters, they were the lowest.

  • Thailover

    Pol Pot was French educated as well, and his insane brand of murderous fascism was wrapped in the trappings of both Catholicism and Buddhism.

    And it should be noted, that although the young (35 and below) were overwhelmingly for Stay, only 5/8 to 2/3 (63%-68%) of these ‘young’ voters actually bothered to go vote. So it wasn’t as much a triumph of the elderly Leavers as much as it was a self-defeating failure of the Stayers.

    You can imagine how UNsympathetic I am, that is, if one is too apethetic (read that as ‘pathetic’) to vote, then it’s time to stop feelig sorry for yourself when things don’t turn out as you would prefer.

  • bobby b

    Do they not consider that perhaps their model of government poorly serves older people and people with lower levels of education?

    And that those people are making a completely rational voting decision on that basis?

  • Eric Tavenner

    No Bobby, they do not. They KNOW beyond any doubt that they, the all wise elite, are unquestionably RIGHT and thus anyone who disagrees with them is stupid and/or evil.

  • Roue le Jour

    Many of the people voting “out” when they were old and wise voted “in” when they were young and gullible. The mouthy little shits could profitably meditate on that for a while.

  • Mr Ecks

    Classic socialist shite going back to the 1020s and beyond.

    If you don’t support whatever socialist bullshit is being mooted it is because you have been got at by the tabloids or whoever. Socialismo is the truth –you have to be mentally ill or a moron who has been got at by anti-socialist propaganda to not believe in it.

    They have been peddling that line forever. Brexit is just the latest example.

    The arrogant scum of socialism have got away with far too much for far too long.

  • Mr Ecks

    I meant 1920s but 1020s is probably near enough.

  • john malpas

    What passes for education these days would make many buy a perpetual motion machine. It would be modern and pretty. But little doing.
    Back when the British were British and adept at keeping people out as in WW1 , WW2 etc they didn’t feel the need for universal book learning. They were practical.

  • R. Dawes

    A belief in the moral superiority of a group over the individual always puts the intelligent on the path to holding some variant of the you-know-what, with the intelligent as the you-know-who, and the education system re-constructed with this in mind.

    It is never, ever ever ever, going to stop, until that idea of morality is dethroned.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ayn Rand would have remarked that anyone who wrote a doctoral thesis on Kant might well be potentially dodgy.

  • James C

    I’m not sure there isn’t a more dangerous class of people than those who are educated, mistake this for wisdom, and are convinced of their own righteousness.

  • Jacob

    Maybe it’s the (intended) result of modern (i.e. contemporary) education. The young got their brains washed in the state education system, some of the old attended other types of schools.

  • Jacob

    “education causes moral decay…” – only modern education – and that is it’s feature, not a bug.

  • Fred Karno

    Roue le Jour
    July 21, 2016 at 4:25 am
    Many of the people voting “out” when they were old and wise voted “in” when they were young and gullible. The mouthy little shits could profitably meditate on that for a while.

    Yes, that was indeed my position.

  • HarryStophanes

    As G K Chesterton used to observe many years ago, “The trouble with the intelligensia is they are not very intelligent.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    “[O]nly the young and educated know what the right way is.”

    ‘Twas ever thus.

  • John Galt III

    Intelligence + Education does not mean you have wisdom.

    Oxford Union Results from 2012

    1) Religion Remains the Opiate of the Masses – Carried
    2) The West has No Right to Impose Climate Change Standards on the 3rd world – Defeated (Jam it down their throats)
    3) Refugee Crisis – Bring them in
    4) Israel Two State Solution is Unattainable – Defeated (Jam it down Israel’s throat)
    5) The Manipulation of Human DNA is an ethical necessity – Defeated (Better that people die horrible deaths)

    My favorite from 2016 – Brexit

    Remain garnered 70.27% of the vote at the Union.

    …and on and on – I read through many more of them and the Elites would agree with the decision of The Union about 90% of the time. Gleichshaltung indeed.

  • Kevin

    Roue and Fred Karno are absolutely right about a lot of old folks’ views changing over time. I was 21 in 1975. The whole Establishment, business, trade unions, political parties and media lined up for Stay. They also tried to terrify us with warnings of doom and despair. We were a much more deferential society then and accepted their words. A different society in 2016 thought the Great and the Good’s scare stories were fantastical.
    Many of those who’d seen the EU evolve over the intervening 41 years probably thought a couple of thoughts too….
    (1) That we were sold the idea of a trading bloc when the EU was always a grandiose political project
    (2) The EU was incapable of reform from inside.

  • Trofim

    There’s a simple rationale for why older people are less likely to have a degree – because when they left school far fewer people went to university. I left secondary modern school in 1963, and I doubt whether more than a handful of pupils had ever heard the word “university”, let alone go to it. From reading Tom Brown’s School Days I had a vague idea that there was a place called university in Oxford where there were cloisters, in which very clever people walked about in gowns talking in Greek and Latin.
    Only in my mid- to late twenties did I discover that even people like me could go to university, and I did so aged 29, giving up a career to do so. This option was impossible for most of my contemporaries, who at that age already had families to think about.
    Young people, for whom “going to uni” is part of their entitlement, can’t comprehend that. They have a special term to refer to NOT having the expected uni experience. It’s called “having ones life ruined”.

  • pete

    The Guardian types who complain of the low level of education of Leave voters never seem to mind when Labour governments get in with the backing of many of the same people.

  • HarryStophanes

    My experience is similar to Trofim’s. But for some years now going to a university has been seen as a passport to social advancement, and the result is that many people have been educated way beyond their capacity to understand what it is they are supposed to be learning. They learn to opinionise, loudly and at length, mainly giving expression to their sense of entitlement. But my question is how does anyone know the educational and intelligence levels of the two voting camps. Both my wife and I are Cambridge graduates and we both voted ‘leave’. Most of the folk round here are intelligent and well educated and they all voted ‘leave’. So where is all this information coming from? It all sounds like Marxist fibbery to me. The remain lot remind me of all those Catholic recusants after the protestant settlement wandering around full of bile and bitterness, threatening all sorts of retribution.

  • Kevin

    Very insightful posts by Trofim and Harry.
    I was the first person in my family ever to go to Uni, in 1972. Back then, less than 10% of the population went to university. For a working class kid like me, it felt like winning the lottery. Lots of people, unfortunately, never had that chance.

  • Watchman


    Assumptions about voting practice are based upon data produced by pollsters in calls after the fact (clearly they can’t be based on actual votes cast since it is a secret ballot. So if a group of people, such as educated older people, tend not to be polled for some reason then they won’t show up and the analysis is skewed, although the pollsters should be trying to compensate for this. These figures are normally of interest only to pollsters and political strategists, and this time the focus on them reflects the despair of many Remain supporters who are looking for answers (apparently ‘you never made a positive case’ is not an answer they considered) and wanted to understand what ‘went wrong’.

  • Fraser Orr

    > But for some years now going to a university has been seen as a passport to social advancement, and the result is that many people have been educated way beyond their capacity to understand what it is they are supposed to be learning. They learn to opinionise, loudly and at length, mainly giving expression to their sense of entitlement.

    I think this confuses “going to university” with “learning”. They are most certainly not the same thing. There is for sure a lot of learning to be had at university, but our universities have spiraled into this kind of anti-learning philosophy most perfectly captured by the SJW, “safe space” “no platforming” ideas that are utterly repugnant to learning and the real benefits of a university education.

    Why is this so? One of the main reasons is because the government runs the universities (they are mostly effectively quangos in the UK, and captives of the state in the USA) and he who pays the piper calls the tune.

    MY idea to fix university funding is really simple, and I might add this has been experimented with at Purdue University in Indiana for one. Simply this: to enter University you sign a contract with the school which indicates that in exchange for your education, which they provide at no cost, you will pay them 15% of your income for the ten years following your graduation. The market can tweak the numbers, perhaps you pay something and reduce your post education payment, perhaps they even pay you in kind (board and lodging) in exchange for a higher payment, but a free market can surely optimize.

    This means that the college is motivated to give you an education that enhances your ability to create value, and, assuming they can enhance your value creating capacity more than 15% it is a win for everyone.

    Of course it is hard to imagine how, in such a scenario, courses like “medieval french poetry” or “gender studies” would be economically feasible for the college. But given that they are the matrix of much of the trouble in modern colleges that would hardly be a bad thing.

  • Watchman


    Any University subject done properly creates value, as to get good marks you need to be able to research, argue and communicate. The problem is that subjects such as gender studies (not so much medieval French poetry to be fair) sometimes tend to focus more on the political side and less on the actual skills required to learn. It is probably not a coincidence that UK universities often require PhDs in social sciences to undertake modules on research skills, whereas this is not a norm for sciences or the humanities.

    The way to look at whether a subject has value in encouraging the ability to think is whether someone can get good marks by arguing against the core beliefs of the marker. So could someone get good marks in gender studies arguing that a woman’s place is in the kitchen (admittedly this might require proving women can cook to be a good argument…)? Probably not. Could someone get good marks by arguing a Marxist or Randian interpretation of French Medieval poetry – yes, because the criteria for marking should not include any political requirements (and anyone who tried that now would be whisked up before their department head and told that it would loose them money…).

    Incidentally, this distinction works with science as well – it is possible to give a wrong answer in science (because it doesn’t work) but the point of science is not primarily communication and arguement development, but to teach knowledge in the field.

  • Mr Ed

    ‘to educate’ has the Latin ‘ducere’, to lead, at its root, so to be educated is to be lead.

    Hence ‘Il Duce‘,and the German cognate ‘Der Führer‘.

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, I can accept that “Duce” is somehow derived from “ducere“, but how does “Fuhrer” get there? (And don’t try to tell me that it’s the “der”; that’s merely the masculine article. Or are you going to argue every German word with a masculine gender is also so derived?)

  • Mr Ed


    Both words are the terms for ‘Leader’ as the term is used in say, North Korea or the British Labour Party.

  • Paul Marks

    As the opinion pollsters could not even predict the result of the referendum, why should anyone take any notice of who they claim voted what way.

    It is a secret ballot.

  • CaptDMO

    Nice three paragraph wandering quote.
    Maybe I can help? Formal “education” as a variable of “wisdom”.
    “Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.”-Ronald Reagan

  • MadRocketSci

    I always thought it was obvious that age correlates with education because “a Master’s degree is the new highschool diploma”: The credential treadmill has sped up since my parent’s time, and everyone needs to run faster and faster just to remain in their precarious lower-middle-class place.

    Frankly, I am sick of school. *Sick* of it: And that is coming from someone who always wanted to learn a very technically demanding field. I have been in school for what amounts to 40% of my likely lifespan. It isn’t sustainable, and, barring the need for ever higher credentials, it probably isn’t necessary.

    Anyway, they aren’t any “dumber” than the current generation, they just had to put up with less bullshit to eventually get a job.

  • Eric

    MY idea to fix university funding is really simple, and I might add this has been experimented with at Purdue University in Indiana for one. Simply this: to enter University you sign a contract with the school which indicates that in exchange for your education, which they provide at no cost, you will pay them 15% of your income for the ten years following your graduation.

    Universities could never adopt this system widely. Their budgets rely on large numbers of students paying for degrees (with debt) that will never “earn out”.

  • MadRocketSci

    Isn’t there something a little sinister and sadistic about the idea that you need to be relentlessly “educated”, not just in your formative years, but out past the point where ordinary unperturbed humans would have made (and been able to make) major life decisions (marriage, careers, life-experiences, philosophy), until you see the world the “right” way?

    I don’t really attribute it to malice, so much as to a runaway arms-race process between educators and employers (employers taken over by the “educated”). But on the other hand, think of all the cultish religions and mental malware in the world that propagate via “education”. It seems the world is filled with Dawkensian-memetic entities that are all competing to nest in your brain. They all want you to be “educated”.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    This could be the new class system! Those who come tops in their speciality would not be side-tracked into an imposing office, but would be the Members of the House of (educated) Lords! Dumbos could stick to the lower house. Class problem fixed!!!

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Here’s an interesting thought- if more of the young had bothered to vote, then BRemain would have won, so what would the UK be like now? PM Cameron lauding about the good sense of the British, whilst he finds a way to disenfranchise Boris. Economy still doing good, but remainers claiming they did it? People not joining parties, though UKIP still getting new members?

  • tomsmith

    “Of course it is hard to imagine how, in such a scenario, courses like “medieval french poetry” or “gender studies” would be economically feasible for the college. But given that they are the matrix of much of the trouble in modern colleges that would hardly be a bad thing”

    It depends how much government there is in the economy. Your idea could just as easily fix massive state intervention in everything, as fix the university system. It would depend on the amount of state intervention in existence when it started. Currently there are a lot of jobs where gender studies degrees enhance ‘value’. Most rely on public funding.

  • Over the years, I’ve reviewed many CVs for several software teams. Educational qualifications are of little real interest to end-users, if I may thus express it, i.e. to the people whose team the recruitee will join. Experience dwarfs education (and so does character, but a CV is a poor guide to that). But how do you get experience if no-one hires you because have no degree?

    Having created something – a website, for example, with some content, some evidence of coding – helps. Just as news on the web is a way to break out of the stranglehold of mainstream media, so this can be a way to discard the need for degrees on your CV.

    Networking (web, meetup, whatever) is very useful. (Web universities, web degrees, web qualifications may be growing and becoming part of this.)

    The social side of university can be had without the tedium of becoming harassable by the diversity department. In this anecdote about Natalie’s early years at Oxford, neither of the guys mentioned in the fourth paragraph were taking a degree. They frequented the comic shop and the games shop, so got talking about SF and D&D with other visitors, thus started attending extra-curricular D&D games, which led naturally to attending the regular D&D society and the SF society. Over time they acquired girlfriends who were doing Oxford degrees, and generally gained much experience of how students talk (albeit disproportionately weird ones like Natalie and me), and the ability to present in the style of a university attendee. Today, they both have jobs that are at least as good as they could have hoped for if they had attended Oxford.

    There is another hurdle; getting past the HR department, often staffed by people comically too terrified to refuse an offer to a man whose only noticeable ability was to attend the interview days with ostentatious make-up on his face (he was rather obviously having a little sadistic fun with them, with a dash of SJW-style “and you can’t complain about it”) but who rule that the guy who finds a numerical error in their training exercise is “not a team player”. (And, no, I am not inventing or exaggerating that. 🙂 The firm I knew that was run like that went into well-deserved receivership some years back. I can’t tell you how sorry and surprised I was to hear that. 🙂 )

    Despite this anecdote, a good rule is never to attribute to HR’s SJW-malice, or fear thereof, what can be blamed on its incompetence. Your requested-by-the-team CV can go silently into HR’s waste-paper basket because it does not mention some wanted-ten-years-ago attribute, long dropped by the end-user team, which the HR people have never noticed is out-of-date. Then you meet the team leader at a conference a year later and she asks “Why didn’t you submit your CV; we really hoped for it and last year it sounded like you were interested”. (And again, no, I am not inventing or exaggerating this incident.)

    Compared with these, merely being binned by HR because you lack a degree is minor – but quite possible. Networking with end-user insiders is the only work-around I know to circumvent these possibilities. And of course, despite these and other failings of the real world, one is often OK, or even lucky.

  • James Hargrave

    Niall, ‘human resources’ says it all. Sure to treat people worse than cattle, just as the ancestor of human resources management on a large scale was surely Fritz Sauckel (and that was about people in cattle trucks). All policies, no purpose – no moral compass, high opinion of themselves pompous pustules . The hired help that became the hired hindrance (one lot matched up the wrong people to the forms they had anonymised for short-listing [local govt]) – massively deluded, marginally literate and (I don’t make this up) incapable of understanding that a meeting abroad involving an ambassador, a deputy secretary, translators, etc., months in the arranging, could not be pulled at a few days’ notice to attend some unspecified meeting with an HR minion [university]. The ensuing dispute was settled over a year later after much expenditure on lawyers with a tax-free payment and a gagging clause – the party massively inconvenienced and pursued with vindictive zeal simply walked out (well flew out) on them and it took them a while to notice. End of rant.

  • nemesis

    I’ve come to the conclusion that wisdom isn’t about knowing all the right answers but knowing the right questions to ask.

  • James, your anecdote beats mine! I am awed – but alas, not very surprised. 🙂

    Long, long ago, when I was too young to understand what I was viewing, I chanced to turn on the TV in the afternoon and catch 30 minutes talk (with cartoons about “Mr Phoo”, a stereotypical bad company manager, which kept me watching) by a guy who had turned a loss-making company around. I vividly recall that he said, “Fire the HR department”. (Because … something about their getting between you and your employees; I don’t recall exactly – like I said, I was very young.)

    It is sad to think that one’s life consists of learning the truth of something one was told when very young.

  • RRS


    What y’all are getting onto is the degree of penetration of interpositions and intrusions
    in human interactions in what have been open societies.

    Both the U S and the UK have developed extensive Administrative States based on the thesis of government (management) by interpositions.
    We are less and less free to deal directly with one another.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Dr. Dalrymple’s comment immediately brings to mind this comment by George Orwell:

    “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

    Niall Kilmartin: this might be derived from Up The Organization by Robert Townsend, one-time CEO of Avis Rent-A-Car. He also recommended firing the purchasing, marketing, and public relations departments.

  • James Hargrave

    For Niall.

    Instance 1, was an old-fashioned place that had undergone Labour-style modernisation. Under the amateurs who had dealt with personnel matters before…, all well. And those interviewing you (councillors not personnel-types), after the formal bit, asked sensible questions to get to know you.

    Some years later, at a British university, I was told not to write a reference (it was a very good reference) because that offended against some damn stupid policy (i.e. it was informative, not bland). By then, ‘HR’ had started to take hold.

    The second example is from Oz, entirely in thrall to modish stupidities, esp. in the public sector. The ‘culprits’ are still in very gainful employ at what I often describe as Krapville TAFE(your Australian commenters will decipher that pretty easily) – an institution with its head so far up it fundament admiring the view that the only hope is redevelopment of its main campus to resemble Warsaw, Feb. 1945. Massively over-managed by massive incompetents, layer upon layer of them (the deputy chief assistant pro vice somethings). But, as one of my friends in Oz, not a local but a law prof. at another leading institution in those parts, is in print as saying: ‘I wouldn’t send my own children to an Australian university’ (he hasn’t).

  • Laird

    “Of course it is hard to imagine how, in such a scenario, courses like “medieval french poetry” or “gender studies” would be economically feasible for the college.”

    Actually, it’s not hard at all, and in fact I would want such courses to be part of the curriculum of any good college. Part of the benefit of going to college is exposure to all sorts of different things; in fact, that’s the basis of what we used to call a “liberal arts” degree. (Note that this uses “liberal” in the old-fashioned sense we talk about so much here.) If I’m hiring an accountant or an engineer, the fact that he’s taken a course in medieval French poetry or Chinese history indicates an inquisitive mind and broad intellectual interests, which I would want in any hire above a menial minimum-wage job. Even a course in gender studies is OK, as long as it’s not an entire degree (anyone who spent money to major in such a foolish field wouldn’t even get an interview from me, let alone a job offer).

  • Eric

    Currently there are a lot of jobs where gender studies degrees enhance ‘value’. Most rely on public funding.

    That may depend on where you are. In the US the way it used to work is you got your degree in sociology or angry studies, and then you either got a PhD, hoping for an academic position, or you went to law school. Nobody cares what lawyers did before law school.

    But between legal “expert systems” and an oversupply in new lawyers, you’re pretty much wasting your time and money getting a JD these days. I think a great many of those gender studies people are going to be working retail for much longer than they anticipated.

  • Indeed, I think the value of university to most people is much oversold. I enjoyed my time because of the endless parties and obliging babes but then had to send the next 10 years unlearning the Keynesian economics I was taught. Indeed notion there was such a thing as non-Keynesian economics caused blank stares amongst the faculty. Waste of time, other than the sex, drugs, rock & roll that is. And now that the fun bits are depreciated and often actively suppressed, the notion of subjecting a young adult to the generative environment of Generation Snowflake, only to be taught crap ideas, seems perverse.

  • Perry de Havilland (London), July 23, 2016 at 10:00 am: ” … university … Waste of time, other than the sex, drugs, rock & roll ”

    That is why I wrote above about how “The social side of university can be had without the tedium of becoming harassable by the diversity department. …”

    It is of course possible to eshew the drugs, listen to more than rock & roll, and couple the word ‘sex’ with the word ‘relationship’. Amazingly, it is also possible to unlearn Keynesian economics while at university, not a decade later. Whether these two are related, of course, I leave to the reader. 🙂

  • William H. Stoddard

    You know, the irony of that bias against the old and ignorant is that a huge part of the voters now so regarded are Baby Boomers who in their day helped popularize that belief. The revolution devouring its children again, I guess.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Mr. Ed: A cognate is usually a word with the same etymological origin, like the Latin fungus and the Greek sphongos. It need not have the same meaning, as “fungus” and “sponge” illustrate. Words with the same meaning are not necessarily cognates, depending how closely the languages are related.

  • Mr Ed

    WHS, this is a blog not a flippin’ essay, and whilst your point is taken, cognate is derived from cognoscere and, if you ken, as some might say, Führer and Duce are essentially the same concept was my point.

  • Laird

    “Führer and Duce are essentially the same concept was my point.”

    But they are not derived from the same source, which was my point. So why you used the term “cognate”, or even injected the comment into this thread, remains unclear.

  • Mr Ed


    It’s easy if you are doctus, the terms are, in Italian and German, expressions of the same concept, hence ‘cognate’.

  • Laird

    As I understand it, “cognate” means “words that have a common etymological origin.” Führer and Duce do not. So I remain confused. I guess I’m not as doctus as you are.

  • Mr Ed


    You are partly right.

  • Mr Ed is being somewhat disingenuous.

    The term “cognate” does indeed mean “related conceptually” and “having the same origin”. It’s just that when used as a noun, as he did, it only means the latter.

    It’s possible for a pair of words that are cognates not to have cognate meanings, indeed the French cognate of a word in English might have exactly the opposite meaning.

  • Robert Townsend it was (in his book “Up The Organization!”) who made the suggestion: Fire the entire HR department. His (sound) reasoning was that the managers responsible for hiring would have a better idea of the person they would prefer to see doing the job, and would be able to weed out the chancers and such with greater ease than someone (i.e. HR) who would not know how the job actually functioned and therefore could easily be bullshitted.

    It was certainly true when Townsend wrote it (1969, as I recall), but sadly it’s no longer true. Now there are so many government regulations and “guidelines” when it comes to hiring new staff that it would be counterproductive for each line manager to have to learn them all — hence, a “specialist” who can ensure corporate conformity. [500 lines of anti-HR rant deleted]

    Incidentally, Townsend was famous for two things: he agreed to the “We’re Number 2, so we try harder” ad line when it was presented to him by his ad agency (even though he hated the line — which reveals his strength of character and his commitment to delegating work to the pros); and under Townsend’s management, Avis went from Number 2 to Number 1 or 1a in many markets worldwide.

    The book is long out of print, sadly, but if you can find an old one, snap it up. And no, I won’t lend you my copy.