BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
« Previous | Main | Next »

£81bn austerity: What's the narrative?

Post categories:

Paul Mason | 09:24 UK time, Thursday, 21 October 2010

It's been a while since I've seen so many journalists stumped by a major event. So many newspaper front pages with differing lines, interpretations and concerns. Politicians too: stumped, lost for words, having to " wait and see" and read a bit more. And so many faces composed into rictus non-betrayal of their real feelings.

For the problem with the Spending Review was that there was no clear narrative. Both sides struggled to express one - and some struggled to suppress one.

If these were "The Biggest Cuts Since World War II" (and the Institute of Fiscal Studies managed to brief that they both were and weren't) then the plotline of that movie was hard to follow.

On the Coalition side the action was clear. No flinching from the £83bn cuts outlined in June. £81bn delivered (with two shaved off by previous action). £11bn of pain switched from Departmental Spending to Annual Managed Expenditure (AME), mainly through welfare and pension cuts. And the theory re-iterated that the shrinkage of the state will lead to a rapid rebalancing of the UK economy into an industrial export dynamo.

But there were problems with the story. Since they had flinched from further eroding universal benefits, the graph showing the impact of yesterday's measures on different social groups showed clearly: the poorest tenth get hammered and the richest tenth get hammered even more. Strip away Labour's redistributive tax increases and the Coalition contribution to that graph falls hardest on the poorest.

There was some attempt to explain that these poorest may include the "temporarily poor" - perhaps like the person who lost their £113m lottery ticket - but this narrative fizzled out mid-afternoon. As a result you had the Guardian going on "Axe falls on the poor" and the Telegraph going on "Cuts leave middle class £10,000 worse off".

Here's the explanation. After being shaken by the response of middle Britain to the removal of Child Benefit for those in the 40% tax bracket, the Coalition backed off from its planned extension of that cut to 16-19 year olds. In fact it backed off any attempt to erode universal benefits further - or "middle class benefits" as they were called throughout the Conservative conference.

They could have, quite logically, come out with the narrative "we have listened, we know the middle class values universality as a principle, and the cash in practice". But it would have been hard to do since the conference fringes of the Tory, Liberal and Labour conferences were one big revving up session for an attack on middle class benefits. (The Institute for Public Policy Research was outraged yesterday by the non-attack on universality).

As a result I think the combined spin machines of the Coalition were not really firing yesterday.

Likewise with Labour. Today's Spectator asserts: "In his response to the spending review statement, Alan Johnson unwittingly demonstrated that Labour no longer has a message on the economy". On the Labour backbenches there has been some out-loud wondering what Ed Balls might have made of that prime-time opportunity. Since Labour cannot do a shadow CSR, and supports about 5/8ths of the cuts in principle (having proposed them) it is hard for them to decide which of the specifics to oppose.

Labour-aligned economists are batting hard against rapid deficit reduction, on the grounds that it could cause a double-dip recession, but the view of people like Joe Stiglitz, Ha-Joon Chang and David Blanchflower are actually aligned with the Ed Balls position, not that of the current Labour leader.

So we move on today to the dissection phase, in which the IFS discovers various slights of hand, the spinmeisters get to dissing individual cuts etc.

What I take away from yesterday is that it is a giant experiment. Or as HSBC's Stuart Green puts it in a note this morning:

"Real-terms annual declines in current expenditure are pencilled in for 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15, despite only four such declines having been registered since the data were first collated in 1967, emphasising both the unprecedented nature of the upcoming fiscal consolidation and the hugely uncertain implications for growth."

Basically there is no proof that slashing back the state will promote private sector growth in a country like Britain amid an economic crisis like this. The FT's Martin Wolf, no friend of hand-wringing state-ism, mobilised the evidence of the IMF to argue this earlier this week. That does not mean deficit reduction is wrong, nor does it dictate which of the two deficit reduction paths (Labour's "halve it" and the Coalition's "eradicate the structural part") is better. It just means we are engaged in an experiment.

If it goes right then, as the Spectator cannily predicts today, then in 2015 "the Tory election campaign will write itself. It will be morning in Britain - and why would we want to go back..."

If it goes wrong, then, conversely you would expect Labour to benefit. For the Libdems either scenario will be tricky (their manifesto, all those months ago in April 2010, actually proposed a "one year stimulus" which, had they won, we would have been in the middle of right now).

Because Conservative strategists cannot guarantee it will go right, nor that the essential benefit reforms will work, nor that the new private sector jobs created will go to UK citizens, nor that an army of volunteers will come forward to provide services in lieu of the state, they are wary of launching a metanarrative.

In fact what is striking is that the metanarrative that pervades every page of the Speccy cannot really be embraced by the Conservative front bench: chief whip Patrick McLoughlin has been enforcing the line that the Tories "don't want to do these cuts". However there is a perfectly good argument that they should want to do them: that if the British state is a millstone around our necks it should be lighter.

Labour meanwhile has two narratives. Nobody with any experience of the Balls/Cooper philosophy and modus operandi can be in any doubt that this part of the Labour clan would have handled yesterday very differently. Indeed, in the bowels of Parliament this week Labour's no-show leadership contender, Jon Cruddas, offered the opinion that the party was in an even deeper existential crisis than it was before the election:

"There is a pervasive sense of loss around our Party," Cruddas said, in the Nye Bevan memorial lecture. "It is a loss of identity. We do not possess some kind of historical right to exist."

So basically there's a struggle for narrative going on in British politics - and that's what explains the confused storylines of the British press this morning.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    TWO NARRATIVES - DE RIGUEUR

    See my post #1 on the Thursday general thread.

    SPOILPARTYGAMES

  • Comment number 2.

    Great post Paul.

    This does rather all support the addage:

    "Whoever you vote for, the Government gets in".

    I'd say Alan Johnson is moving towards a different agenda though - his remarks this morning about Eire are interesting - for me trade and industrial policy MUST be centre stage for Labour - growth is the key issue and if we can't reflate through government spending or expand our exports, then the only game in town is import substitution - and it seems Obama is also moving towards this with the proposed import taxes in the US.

    There seems to be a consensus around renewable energy, but there needs to be a road-to-Damascus realisation that we shouldn't go on allowing the Chinese etc to rig foreign exchange markets, chuck out vast amounts of CO2 and sweat their workers in the way they do, then expect us to accept their goods in huge quantities below what it would cost us to produce them.

    Clearly we'd have problems with the EU competition rules and GATT - but I'd suggest exploring this as a policy option for the developed economies to see how the politicians react to this idea - clearly the libertarians are going to howl as soon as trade restrictions are mooted - perhaps it's time to take a pop at them and see just how they justify the unsustainable trade imbalance and the unsustainable level of public and private debt in so many developed countries.

    My approach would be to warn the retail and manufacturing sectors that we can't go on importing goods at this rate, that import tarriffs will be phased in over three years - and the government incentive payments and tax breaks will be offered to businesses on-shoring their manufacturing in the UK. BTW - this would only mirror the situation in many overseas locations - e.g. Chinese "special economic zones" - so it could be argued we are only responding to this and the rigged currency situation.

    So where does GO's plan leave us? Well, if growth in the private sector doesn't materialise, there is going to be a hell of a backlash - the issue is what alternative LAbour is prepared to offer, other than "a bit less - and a bit slower" - Ed Milliband needs to break with the concensus that the economic crisis is caused by government spending rather than laissez faire economic policies and lay out a new agenda based on sustainable trade, sustainable employment, sustainable energy and sustainable food production - to do this he needs to end the anarchy of globalisation and set the UK on the path of paying our way, creating real jobs and building a sustainable society where everyone contributes and everyone benefits.

  • Comment number 3.

    Struggle for narrative?

    While some might think the budget was 'as clear as the summer sun' as shakespeare said of Salic law [Henry V] to anyone who studies the parentage of ideas the Govt hayekism really is like a sun in the sky .

    However those who believe in it don't want to come out openly with it so hide behind terms like 'big society' and deficit reduction. Its a sort of maoism with a dwarfed state as an 'impartial referee' who only keeps sufficient peace for the darwinism to work.

    Actually its not a new idea.Apparently Alexander Great when asked who the empire should go to he said the strongest. Trial by ordeal, trial by combat, all those norman monarchy model ideas.

    So Quo Vadis Chancellor?

    one perhaps authoritative view of where next is by Philip Booth, editorial and programme director, Institute of Economic Affairs [or the 'Hayekist bunker']

    ...the debate must now move on to the supply side of the economy as the private sector must be able to grow to take the space which the government now occupies. The signals there are not good. The government wants to take the "maximum sustainable revenue from the financial services sector", the minimum wage is rising and the full rate being extended down the age range, and we have new maternity leave provisions from the EU which will cost businesses £2.5bn. We now need a supply side revolution!...

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/20/spending-review-2010-economists-view

    the tories are the real shinning eyed revolutionaries while labour only seek to maximise their earnings?

    ..

  • Comment number 4.

    What should unite the Labour Party is sincere outrage at the effects of the CSR on the traditional sources of its support. There will be no shortage of opportunity. Of course the main political casualty of the CSR is green policies - a rapidly waning public interest.

  • Comment number 5.

    A heads-up Paul (or is it too late?): "A narrative is a story that is created in a constructive format (as a work of speech, literature, pictures, song, motion pictures, television, video games, theatre, musical theatre, or dance) that describes a sequence of fictional or non-fictional events.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative

    Once they've got one speaking the lingo, one's lost in their game.
    Narrative, remember, is not truth-functional, if that were not so, it would not be narrative, it would be science.

    To see this starkly, just listen carefully to politicians and journalists as they freely use intensional idioms (verbs) of propositional attitude and other rhetoric, it's how they've been trained.

    Then study how estate agents and predatory lenders operate. Most of it is unwitting crowd psychology, they do what everyone else around them in the profession does, it's de rigueur, it's normal even.

  • Comment number 6.

    I thought Alan Johnson summed up the dilemma for both parties in his response at the despatch box : 1) The Conservatives had supported Labour's spending commitments in the last CSR, so the narrative that Osborne is picking up Labour's disaster is neutered-Cameron became a big-government guy ( read his leadership speeches) 2) The Conservatives promoted banking self-regulation ( they share some responsibility for the crash, much like they do for the Iraq war). In a way, their shared philosophies have been completely trashed, and they are trying to slowly reconstruct an alternative starting point. All that's left between them at the moment is : the one in power get's the blame if things get worse ; timing......what was Ed Balls going to say, Paul?

  • Comment number 7.

    ..Narrative, remember, is not truth-functional, if that were not so, it would not be narrative, it would be science...

    would a description/story of why you went to the shops be a narrative or science?

    narrative explains why you do things.

    science has a narrative otherwise why would people do it?

    so narrative is meta anything else.

    osbourne is not doing what he is doing because of science but because of a narrative.

    so narrative is part of political science. it tells you where the 'power is'. At the moment the uk political class is in the thrall to hayekism again.

    some scientists try to create a unifying narrative out of their work of isolated unconnected facts when they come out with stuff like there is no god and what not.

    so talking about narrative is a legitimate exercise in identifying motives otherwise it wouldn't be used as 'proof' in courts.

  • Comment number 8.

    2. At 1:38pm on 21 Oct 2010, richard bunning wrote:
    ....My approach would be to warn the retail and manufacturing sectors that we can't go on importing goods at this rate, that import tarriffs will be phased in over three years...
    -----------------------------------------------

    I have self imposed my own protectionism. I started of thinking that I could boycott all retailers with a high percentage of non European goods (a bit of realism that it cannot all be from UK, slightly less stringent for food).
    I very soon had to change my policy as I could not shop anywhere! This left two choices, firstly just to avoid specific items (which does not punish the retailer enough) or secondly to stop consuming.
    I went for the first but will probably end up doing the second once depression strikes. I hope it will not be my depression!

    In this approaching era of higher unemployment I am also redoubling my efforts to say no to self checkouts.

  • Comment number 9.

    to identify a narrative one only has to ask what has someone taken as the highest idea of the mind.

    one might think osbourne took 'fairness' given the number of times he said it. But what kind of 'fairness'? The fairness where the many pay for the bonuses of a few? Where child benefit is taken from mothers but not the subsidy to millionaire land owners? where the debt isn't labelled accurately as 'the banker's debt'?

    why should the country be 'punished' for the sins of the city? Is that fairness?

    of course fairness demand human sacrifice and now the country must be sacrificed for the fairness of multinational bankers?

    no one can see this as fairness which means something else is going on. Of course the real highest idea they have taken on hayekism and everything they have done is consistent with that view.

    The soviet gulags called hot water 'soup' and then anyone who asked for food would be told to stop complaining when they had 'soup' today and were just being greedy. So when the tories say they are giving us fairness [soup] they mean we are getting hayekism [water].

  • Comment number 10.

    Paul - this is so much more balanced than the hysteria which we are hearing from most of your colleagues. To listen to Radios 4 & FiveLive at the moment you would think that the world was about to end or that we had returned to the time of poor houses and kids up chimneys. All that's happening is that we are going to return to what the government was spending 4 years ago. Yes I will lose out on CB and not many people won't notice the loss of £85pm so I'm not complacent, but please..........tell your colleagues to get some perspective!

  • Comment number 11.

    Here's a little story for everyone:

    Once upon a time mankind lived off the fruits of nature and the land either directly (food, water & wind power) or indirectly through draft animals.

    Then a few bright sparks discovered a bounty from millions of years of decomposed organic matter, heated up & compressed under the ground. The Industrial Revolution was born and the wealth, prosperity & standards of living improved dramatically for those lucky enough to benefit from it.

    Around about the 1970s the growth of industrialism faltered. Mainly due to declining Energy Return on Energy Invested (to extract). The productivity of industrialism started to decline even though in absolute terms we continued extracting and consuming more energy to create our global wealth. But the signs of decline in rate of growth was apparent.

    A few bright sparks of a different persuasion foresaw this growing limit to perpetual growth, but rather than prepare the world for adapting to the future circumstances the shrewd few chose to profit from it.

    Free Market fundamentalism provided the means and motive for a heist of the most audacious proportions.

    Now we are hitting the buffers with peak oil. There is no credible alternative energy source that is as dense and abundant.

    The Senate is fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Comment number 12.

    "7. At 2:58pm on 21 Oct 2010, jauntycyclist wrote:

    "would a description/story of why you went to the shops be a narrative or science?"

    No, it's just a story which one gives oneself as to why one does what one does. Google "Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes" and read it carefully. History is full of people giving themselves stories as to why they do what they do, which turn out to be false (although very persuasive at the time). For example, there's evidence that many of our actions have occurred before we give ourselves stories as to what we are about to do. The reality is that much of our behaviour is under the control of contingencies that we are unaware of, just as the workings of our internals organs are.

    "narrative explains why you do things."

    No, it provides stories. That's the point of quoting the correct usage of the term above. It's not testable. It's a story. It's fiction.

    "science has a narrative otherwise why would people do it?"

    No science is evidence based, not narrative based. The explanations are based on a network of measurable relations which make predictions and which therefore provide accountability based on observable evdience.
    This is how engineers work. If you look back through the blog history, dig out Stephanie Flanders' article on Economics A Busted Flush in July 2009. This is because there's a major problem with classical economics, and it's known as The Rationality Assumption (see Debtjuggler quoting form a key paper on this from a major Behavioural Economist in 1990).. This is something which I have been telling you for some time.

    "so narrative is meta anything else."

    No, that's just story telling without reliable evidence. It's make-believe in a manner which is not acceptable to science because the terms used are not predicates. Predicates have to be true OF something.

    The language of narrative is intensional not extensional. This is why Paul and other journalists are confused, because the things which they read flip about in chaotic, non truth-functional ways like a broken flip-flop (the basic unit which determines logic (truth) states in solid state physics)

    "osbourne is not doing what he is doing because of science but because of a narrative."

    Yes, Osborne is spinning yarns. he's a politician not a scientist/engineer. He doesn't tell the truth. He probably doesn't even know the truth.

    "so narrative is part of political science. it tells you where the 'power is'. At the moment the uk political class is in the thrall to hayekism again."

    There is no science in political science. It's an oxymoron. They append science to make it look credible. It's like those hair adverts talking of active polyceramides.

    Hayek was a pseudo-scientist. If you look into it, you will see that he was not an empiricist! The Austrian School is proud of this. They are warlocks.

    "some scientists try to create a unifying narrative out of their work of isolated unconnected facts when they come out with stuff like there is no god and what not."

    Not, it's not a narrative. It's a theory. See Quine on "Web of Belief".
    It's subtle, but scientists see theory as just a mass of evidence written in short hand. Theories are testable. There are logical and empirical rules to that or else it is called pseudoscience. Unless you know that body of evidence all you see are words, but that is not what it's about. Theories are descriptions of how the world works in predictable ways in a language of measurable relations.

    "so talking about narrative is a legitimate exercise in identifying motives otherwise it wouldn't be used as 'proof' in courts."

    Motive are not truth functional. Courts have nothing to do with this either. Courts to not determine truth. Remember Galileo and the Inquisition? If you want to predict what's going to happen (which one does in order to manage what is going on), one has to be able to do so within a truth-functional system (that means computational with bound variables which refer to things in the real world). Otherwise it's not manageable. Can you grasp that? In a simple system we are talking about a machine, e.g. a cooker, fridge or TV.

    Don't get lost in the world of words and meanings as that's metaphysics.
    Science is about the world. Reality. Try to learn from what you are being told here. It's clear you don't have a formal background in any of this, but what I am referring to is not my ideas or just a load of words as you will find out if you do as I suggest. It is not that difficult to grasp with a bit of work. The details are demanding just because each area of science takes time to master, but the principles are invariant from Astronomy to Zoology.

    Please stop arguing, that's for politicians (warlocks) actors and ......well, you can guess who else. What I am telling you draws on empirical Behavioural Economics not metaphysics.

    It was much the same in the USSR when Gosplan etc worked. Now, it may be changing in China, but why one might ask? I should think if it changes at the top, that will not be in China's interests as to govern anything one has to know how things work. If the objective is to not govern, but to allow the markets to run their free course, then let the humanities run wild as they have in the USA and UK but be prepared for the long-term consequences. China is where it is today because it is run by bright engineers who know what they are doing. It's why the USSR did so well relative to the USA in the 50s.

    "In the beginning there were firebrand revolutionaries like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Then came the engineers. China's post-Mao leadership has been dominated by engineers of varying stripes. Party chief (and President) Hu Jintao trained in hydraulic engineering, and Premier Wen Jiabao studied geomechanics, for example. Apparatchiks like them account for eight of the nine members of the Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, a trend replicated throughout the lower ranks, too. But times are changing. An analysis of younger rising stars in the party's leadership firmament reveals that cadres trained in the "soft sciences"—especially law—are quickly catching up as leaders realize they need a broad range of skills to govern. Is it the kind of change that could finally render the kinder, gentler face the government has been seeking for so many years?

    Of the eight fastest-rising young Politburo stars, none got their highest degree in engineering. Instead, their educational backgrounds—defined by the highest degree attained—include economics, history, management, journalism, business, and law (three have legal training). "This is a substantial change," says Brookings scholar Cheng Li, an expert on the Chinese leadership. He sees a marked "soft science" academic trend among younger leaders, compared with the older generation of top officials."


    Newsweek (a US liberal magazine) Sept 2009 http://www.newsweek.com/2009/0907/right-brain.html#

  • Comment number 13.

    Paul,

    This is the only narrative I could find which even remotely gets close to this whole dynamic.

    Courtesy of Monty Python.

    Just exchange the '4 yorkshiremen' in the sketch for our politicians and there you have it.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo

  • Comment number 14.

    JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU ARE STUCK WITH 'REALITY' (#13)

    A wonderfully cathartic post Jericoa!

  • Comment number 15.

    The opposition could, if they wanted to, focus on things like ESA. Who is going to take on a person with an intermittent chronic health problem if that person is going to take a day off work a week, or a week off a month due to their ill health when they can take on a perfectly fit person instead? Whatever the law says, these people are going to be more or less unemployable, and the politicians are well aware of that.
    Before yesterday the fact that those people were willing to actively look for work was enough, but after the chancellor's speech the same people are going to lose their ESA after 12 months.
    Most people want the cuts to be 'fair', but in a couple of years there is going to be tens of thousands of these, lets face it, vulnerable people, falling into debt and losing their homes. Real hardship to real people, what chance do they have? All so that Osborne could have a few seconds of smug triumph because the departmental cuts will be 19% instead of 20%. Any opposition should be able to make something of that.
    Not to mention the changes to housing benefit, how many people will be forced from their homes? There won't be many 'spongers' living in 5 bed mansions among them, just ordinary low income working people.
    Likewise when the changes to social housing rents take effect, in some areas that will see the rent on a 3 bed house rise from £85 per week to £250 per week. Are the Tories really saying that social housing should be priced out of the reach of the lowest paid workers? What is the point of affordable housing if the low paid can't afford the rents? How fair is that?
    At the moment the general public is broadly in favour of welfare reform, the tabloids have convinced many that all people on benefits are living in the type of comfort that others could only dream of. The reality as it unfolds over the next few years, if it is reported will open many eyes to how things really are, and give the opposition a narrative.
    I think that by the time of the next election we will have a new underclass of people living in the kind of poverty not seen in this country for decades, the social upheaval and turmoil at the bottom of society will be profound and shocking to those watching on.
    Quite frankly if the opposition can't oppose that they might as well give up.

  • Comment number 16.

    #25 tn01

    Re the sell-off of the states assets

    'He won, Russia lost' Roman Abramovich, Britain's richest man - how he made his billions.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/may/08/russia.football

    'In fact, little of substance is known about Abramovich's wealth other than that he is one of 23 Russian entrepreneurs who took advantage of the privatisation of Russia's state assets in the mid-1990s. This exclusive group now controls 60% of the Russian economy, and their combined wealth amounts to £44.6bn.'

    The rest of the story/piece is just mind boggling!

  • Comment number 17.

    LET THEM EAT CAKE (#16)

    Nick and Dave and IDS and Frank Field etc, no doubt think they have the intelligence and empathy to grasp the sludge-folk ethos. They can't. But neither can they be told. Nor will they take anything on trust from those who do - it is not their way. Although a grammar school boy, my negativity took me down, but I took my perceptiveness with me. I had enough advantage to climb back up, and now have a fund of knowledge that would be useful, but Frank, though polite, doesn't want to know (me).

  • Comment number 18.

    #14

    Glad you enjoyed it so Barrie.

    No doubt tabble02 will be able to describe the Monty Python sketch in the link in mathematical terms, even if he can, nobody will be laughing at the end of it and no greater wisdom or understanding or joy would created or shared as a result.

    So why bother...lol... the intellectual equivalent of a cosmological singularity

    I seem to be laughing a lot recently, either I am going mad or the truth is lifting the hem of its dress above the knee for me... or maybe they are one and the same thing in the context of General Insainity.

    IDS today ' the unemployed should catch a bus to find a job'.... priceless..absolutely priceless. The rhetoric of the asylum indeed, no means of transport can take you to somewhere that does not exist.

  • Comment number 19.

    12

    ..Science is about the world. Reality..

    that's just naive. science is about power, money, ego. the situation you describe only exists in the purity of the mind not on earth among the men of mud. you can buy a 'scientist' [who take no oath to do no harm] to say whatever [narrative] about the world you want.e.g smoking, climate change, gm etc.

    i understand that some may take the term 'science' as the highest idea of the mind and scientists as the only priesthood but that is just another false god that has the usual consequences. the good is the highest idea of the mind.

    i understand some do not want argument they want submission which is why philosophers and writers end up in the gulags because they shed light on narrative. he who controls the narrative controls power. tyrants like to remove any 'competing' or counter revolutionary narrative usually by force. was Kelly a victim?

    facts can only support a narrative. in themselves they are meaningless. people unskilled in narrative are often misled by false narratives [wmd in iraq, banks need no regulation, carbon trading is the solution to climate change etc]

    Tony Blair did not employ a scientist as his political advisor but a writer of narratives.






  • Comment number 20.

    A problem that Labour has is that to many people they seem like Tories. I dug this piece up by Michael Young in the Guardian in 2001. He puts it very well to my mind:gu.com/p/x2j3z/tw

    There is also an extent to which people want their leaders to be Tories or Tory like: we're seeing it now with the Shadow Chancellor being referred to (disparagingly) as "The Postman".

  • Comment number 21.

    THE HUMAN MIND IS ETERNALLY FASCINATING. (#18 #19)

    Hi gang. It's been a funny day.

    I have two deep-seated suspicions. 1) The sense of 'knowing God' in all his common aspects, is a reprise of the newborn infant's take on its situation. 2)The cosmologists besottedness with the Big Bang (everything out of nothing) is a reprise of emergence of consciousness in the developing human organism. I have not formulated any other such constructs, yet, but would imagine there are a lot more, all adding up to The Ape Confused by Language.

    Being a trainee Taoist (is there any other sort?) I espouse the tenet that certainty is proof of error. I am in no doubt of that.

  • Comment number 22.

    #11 Hawkeye_Pierce

    In a world where productivity is declining (this is what peak-oil will mean) a system based upon profit will be in constant crisis - barbarism.

    Humanity collectively managing energy resources to meet needs is socialism.

  • Comment number 23.


    There's something really odd about all the stories (narratives or whatever) being told about these cuts. none of them are true. First off, these are not cuts as such. The government will be spending more in the future than it is now. These are only "cuts" from what we would otherwise have spent if we had been spending more.

    It is therefore surprising that these non-cuts will lead to a loss of half a million jobs - which must be due to the redistribution of spending inside the Government.

    The Coalition doesn't like this narrative becuase it is not heroic. They want to be the people sorting out Labours mess and/or turning the tide of history.

    Labour doesn't like it either - because they want the Coalition to be the baddies. Each is writing a stroy from their own perspective for their own supporters.

    The real story, is that on any reasonable assumption for future growth in Government revenues (and even 2.5% looks ambitious) these cuts are not going to reduce the deficit by much, if at all. Not much of a story is it!

    The discussion of "cuts in real terms" reveals a strange thing about Government Spending, in that there is an automatic assumption that it will increase in line with inflation/GDP: such that any fall below this is a cut! But if it does increase automatically then taxes or borrowing must also increase to pay for it. It would be interesting to learn (from the wiser posters) how much this automatic inflator has contributed to the debt/house price driven growth of the recent past.

  • Comment number 24.

    Definitely getting strong whiff of Hayek, but finding it hard to reconcile with incantations of " The Big Society ".

    Hayek proposed his thesis in response to totalitarian dogma, and asserted the impossibility of taking into account the "big other". He wasn't proposing his thought as a remedy for bumps in the 'road to globalisation' . So what's new in this political thinking ? Maybe they've taken on board Mary Midgley and reread their Darwin :

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/06/what-darwin-got-wrong

    But I doubt it.

  • Comment number 25.

    #22 DV

    Shhhhh... just don't call it "socialism". That word carries too much baggage. How about something like:

    - The Re-enlightenment
    - Post-Industrial collectivism
    - Equitable societies
    - Enlightenment 2.0
    - EcoTechnic societies (from John Michael Greer)

  • Comment number 26.

    Paul,

    what sort of mad bureaucracy have we created where 'free' tv licences and 'free' bus passes cost an absolute fortune to deliver ?

    TV Licences - government hand to TV Licensing each year a dataset containing the addresses where an exempt person is living, TV Licensing ignore those addresses when collecting licence fee.

    Bus Passes - Any person should be able to travel freely on public transport if when challenged they can prove that they are old enough to do so. (normal rules apply to fare-dodgers)

    Interacting with government departments (local/national, any of them) is a nightmare

    Anyone who has tried to claim [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]Housing Benefit,Child & Working Tax Credits* knows how difficult they make it, if they just simplified the system it would save a fortune

    *none of these agencies allow you to complete one secure on-line form that makes all the claims you are entitled to automatically, in fact in the current system you can't claim any one of these benefits on-line, the HMRC site takes some details (DOB,status,earnings, childrens DOBs etc.) over an unsecure connection before telling you that you may be entitled to £xxx and to ring a call centre .

    (this layout is a phishers dream site, spoof the HMRC website, get the users to give some details and then unknowingly call a premium rate number and give the rest of their personal details - HMRC you have to do better than this, this is worse and more dangerous than not doing anything)

    [you can tell what I've been doing all morning :(]

  • Comment number 27.

    Have to say that, from here, 'narratives' - seeking them, spinning them, etc - seem a pretty hefty part of many problems. Not that will stop some especially around these parts, seeing no problem in going one better to 'enhance' them... all the time.

    While there maybe be nuances, and interpretations, there is, fundamentally, what 'is'.

    Hence when I see such as 'Labour-aligned economists are batting hard against..' I quickly get my fears on the value of most economists confirmed.

  • Comment number 28.

    #26

    sorry, my broken link was to Council Tax Benefit information on DirectGov

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/On_a_low_income/DG_10018923

  • Comment number 29.

    This talk of narrative is essentially women's work. Females do much better at narrative than men, and that shows up in all the exam results and subjects selection even at GCSE level (see English KS1-4). By university there is a clear divide (moderated by slippages in brain gender). Look across the world. Where you find governance by narrative you see more women in government. Where you see this you will see libertarianism. You see free-market anarchism. You make your 'choice' but you live with the consequences. Don't expect a great industrial nation to be run by women as it's a physical thing (see female muscle mass and height, not to mention intelligence). The thing to grasp is that they don't see it. They literally can't see it as it's essentially a physical thing. There are a few exceptions, but then genetics is a funny and highly complex science which requires a lot of understanding of chemistry and Probability Theory.

    We all (males and females) have one active X chromosome (the female's second is largely inactivated well before birth), but men have some additional genes on the Y chromosome which females do not have at all!. Some of those Y genes may contribute to making some men lower in ability than most females (some SEN classes are much more common in males), but some of those genes probably also account for a shift in behaviours which account for men building and leading (and not only in sports).

    Lose that edge (statistically) and you lose all I am suggesting. That is partly why we are now losing Britain (and the USA) I am boldly suggesting. We are losing them to females and to feminized brained males who can't build, but slowly destroy, without ever fully seeing how they subvert their own system. It even happens in family life. They mean well, but don't see as well.

  • Comment number 30.

    Large numbers of Public Sector workers used to function as clerical officers. Since the 70s this function has been largely made superfluous through automation, mainly cheap computing and networking. But that just means that the tax revenues could have been freed up from salaries there to be spent on more useful public services, often by retraining and redeploying the same people. What we should have seen since the 70s is a phenomenal growth in public infrastructure as was seen in the USSR in the 30s through 50s, and as seen in China today. Instead what we've seen is wastage of public money as it's gone into private pockets, and often offshore.

    Automation should have made Britain great. Why hasn't it? Answer, anarchistic governance - libertarianism. It does not work.

  • Comment number 31.

    24. At 08:39am on 22 Oct 2010, supersnapshot wrote:

    "Hayek proposed his thesis in response to totalitarian dogma, and asserted the impossibility of taking into account the "big other"."

    The 'totalitarianism' which Hayek had in mind in post war book 'The Road To Serfdom' was in fact that in Britain in 1945 after the Beveridge Report launched Labour's Welfare State (an implementation of Fabian/Soviet socialism like that of our ally the USSR which the Webbs described as "Soviet Communism: A New Civilization"). Just remember, 1) the essentially Jewish Austrian School of libertarians/economists are not empiricists, and they abuse/spin the language of science in order to try to persuade and that 2) Hayek was as popular as Trotsky after the war! Hayekian economics only works for a whilst it can prey upon the tax assets (rather like fossil fuels) which have been laid down by hard working previous generations. Once exploited (asset-stripped) these anarchists move on (see USSR in the 90s). This is why the Austrian School, like the Frankfurt School, fled Germany (for reasons such as this, which, believe it or not, many in Germany thought to be true at the time). It was Bismark, after all, who created the first Welfare State and it was Germany which was wrecked for its assets by these anarchists in the 20s. Hayekian ibertarians are wreckers, even Lenin warned of the danger of wreckers like these. It was Stalin which rescued Russia.

    Cameron's 'Big Society' is just a Big Con, as Steve Smith so ably illustrates in his roundabout skits. But if the British public can't see through this, or care enough one way or the other, I guess they deserve what they get? We are truly becoming a Third World country (through a combination of importing the Third World, see London's demographics and projections, and through breeding more like them amongst the indigenous). This was seen long ago by the Fabians, but Thatcher etc finally ruined the country with her friends from the LSE and University of Chicago.

    Without an 'an evil totalitarian' government like that over in China, i.e one which is dictated to by its proletariat:

    What Is To Be Done?.

  • Comment number 32.

    Awful lot of text for someone who doesn't believe in narrative ? There must be some kind of way outa here said the joker to the thief !

  • Comment number 33.

    "We are truly becoming a Third World country (through a combination of importing the Third World, see London's demographics and projections, and through breeding *more like them* amongst the indigenous)."

    I'm starting to feel like i'm in a Derren Brown experiment ..... does no one else have a problem with that statement being accepted without comment on this site?

  • Comment number 34.

    Clegg on the IFS stating that the cuts will affect the poor with children most:

    "In an interview with The Guardian, the Deputy Prime Minister
    said: "We just fundamentally disagree with the IFS.

    "It goes back to a culture of how you measure fairness that took root under Gordon Brown's time, where fairness was seen through one prism and one prism only which was the tax and benefits system.

    "It is a complete nonsense to apply that measure, which is a slightly desiccated Treasury measure. People do not live only on the basis of the benefits they receive.

    "They also depend on public services, such as childcare and social care.
    All of those things have been airbrushed out of the picture by the IFS."


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/spending-review/8079480/Spending-review-2010-Nick-Clegg-says-IFS-claims-poor-will-be-hardest-hit-are-nonsense.html

    Here's my point. If you don't accept the Rawlsian Social Justice Difference Principle that fairness should, if inequality is to advantage anyone, it should advantage the worst off or underprivileged, this is a pseudo-argument.

    Here's why. When the benefit system was introduced after WWII, many had argued that it was needed to raise the falling population. That's what it was about! But there were two sides to that concern back in the 1930s and 40s. One was about the below replacement level birth rate (a TFR of 2.1 or above is required to replace the parents) meaning the population would age in 30-60 years with an impact on pension and much more, and the other was differential fertility, i.e that those who were more able or better off were having far less kids than those who were less bright and, thus, usually, poorer off. That spells dumbing down.

    Since the 1930s, equal opportunity and comprehensive education has pretty much removed the barriers to higher education which once limited those with ability amongst the poor to get a place in higher education, so now the problem is that of dysgenic fertility i.e too many kids being born in the less able/poor part of the population distribution (Gaussian in IQ)s and not enough being born in the more able part. This skews the population towards being less skilled over time, which has a negative effect on economic productivity, whilst also burdening the dwindling numbers with productive ability with higher costs of supporting the swelling numbers of the less productive. Left to continue, the whole culture economically and socially implodes like a star does into a black hole, gravitationally sucking everything around into oblivion. That's what's unfair about the Rawlsian model of Social Justice, and that's why the Conservatives should have cut child benefit at the low end of the distribution. They didn't. The reason that's bad is because it doesn't address the critical problems. Cutting the number of studentships for university will help increase the birth-rate amongst the average and above, albeit the effect taking at least a generation or so to have any effect, but that's far longer than any government is usually in power in the UK. This is why the only way to solve these problems is the way the Chinese did, i..e via Democratic Centralism, which is essentially Fabian Socialism (Old Labour) on steroids..

    The rest is idle 'narrative', except, where does the revenue go, it goes to make the gap between the self satisfied able wealthier and the less able, poorer. See Michael Young here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/jun/29/comment

    It's rather subtle - it's about Communitarianism vs Libertarianism - see Herrnstein and Murray 2004, and Herrnstein 1971, but stear clear of Murray's politics as its neocon whose been 'captured' by the likes of Irwwin Stelzer, Rupert Murdoch's Grey Cardinal.

  • Comment number 35.

    #33 mafftucks

    What's the best way to deal with racism?
    Yes, somethings you have to point it out & confront it.
    Sometimes it's best ignored.

  • Comment number 36.

    "32. At 2:26pm on 22 Oct 2010, supersnapshot wrote:
    Awful lot of text for someone who doesn't believe in narrative ? There must be some kind of way outa here said the joker to the thief !"

    That's only funny if you can't tell the difference between narrative and science.

    Be careful what you eat, it has chemicals in it.

    "33. At 2:31pm on 22 Oct 2010, mafftucks wrote:

    I'm starting to feel like i'm in a Derren Brown experiment ..... does no one else have a problem with that statement being accepted without comment on this site?"

    What problem do you have with it? It's the truth. If we make London like, say, Lagos (mean IQ around 70), London will become more like Lagos. If we breed more people here who behave like people who behave as they do in (again, say Lagos), they will behave here as they do in Lagos. That is the way the world is.

    Think a nuclear reactor and critical mass.

    What's your problem given that we know that most behaviour is just genetic expression?

    I could choose cities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but that would not be much better (mean IQ maybe 15 points higher, national populations each now 150 million + having tripled in 50 years whilst ours is effectively declining bar immigration), it would just delay the problem a bit.
    That's dysgenesis at work. The scientists know this.

  • Comment number 37.

    It is the banality of The Cuts which seems to have astonished the commentators. Did they really expect blood on the streets? I have not seen a frightened horse anywhere.

    Cuts of some size have been on the cards since before the banks crashed as Brown was already running a deficit in the region of GBP 48 billion a year. This is not including the GBP 38 billion deficit the Ministry of Defence had run up all of its own without telling anyone. This makes the term `state control' into an oxymoron.

    The reality is that now taxpayer funding for the state apparatus is being switched from the apparat to paying the interest on the debt run up by the apparat. To the apparatchiks this is just a disaster, to the taxpayer it is a catastrophe as we are paying out good money for what we are never going to get. The domestic risk is that there is no validity to such a contract.

    The principle element of this circumstance is that the UK state is prone to spend money neither it nor its taxpayers possess. It must have thoroughly enjoyed partying with the bankers between 2001 and 2008 around the ever-expanding debt-vortex unaware that it was a celebration of moral and intellectual incompetence on a humungous scale. The idea of a crock of gold positioned at the end of a rainbow does not constitute an economic policy for a sophisticated ruling elite of a developed country in the modern western world. It is the stuff of faerie stories, but then so is hubris.

    The real question is what are we going to do about it?

    Not only do we need to restructure the state so that it adds to social value rather than being a programme of poor relief for the indigent middle classes. We also have to restructure our economy so that it is no longer the one-trick pony called Financial Services which betimes performs quite well so long as the fences are not set too high and the trainer remembers to bring the horse along.

    The watch-words have to be `productivity' and `value'.

    In other words we need to have to grow up, go out and earn a living.

    We have to accept that an economic model based on borrowing money from China so that we can purchase consumer goods made in China has no future. However, if we could produce those consumer goods domestically, as we once did, then there is some prospect of a future. It all comes down to costing and I don't believe there is that much difference once finance costs, freight costs, storage costs and import duties are included.

    Surely, the role of the state is to test to see if that is a viable proposition, establish the strengths and weaknesses of the case and facilitate the execution of such a policy. There are barriers to be overcome in this; the biggest is that most of the population of the UK has got used to the idea that work is for someone else to do.

    I think we have a lot more pain to endure before the reality of our situation sinks in.

  • Comment number 38.

    Science ? Spare me ,I haven't finished laughing at this one yet:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 5:18pm on 22 Oct 2010, stanilic wrote:

    "The principle element of this circumstance is that the UK state is prone to spend money neither it nor its taxpayers possess."

    When you bought your home, did you pay cash for the entire asking price, or did you take out a 25 years+ mortgage. If you run a business, do you run it entirely on your income or on a loan from a bank like most other businesses? Most people and businesses live beyond their immediate means. My suggestion is that all that has happened is that you now know that local and central government has borrowed on the international money markets just as you have locally. The difference is that our libertarian politicians, whose masters are largely in the Private Sector these days, are now abusing debt fear in order to justify further selling off public assets, shrinking staffing budgets and rolling back (withering away) the state so that when future taxes are received those can be more easily abused by those who will be 'helping to run' trusts/SPVs overseeing the schools, hospitals etc etc. Libertarians being a new word for anarchists wanting to make the state wither away as it gets in the way of their predation.

  • Comment number 40.

    stan @37

    It is the banality of The Cuts which seems to have astonished the commentators. Did they really expect blood on the streets? I have not seen a frightened horse anywhere

    The party that has the real hold in society is the Apathy Party. It is helped by weak politicians who rather listen to the needs and wants of a rich small minority instead of those of who they are meant to serve - the people. It is also easy to join: just do nothing!

    Unfortunately, not only do these people get walked over by the politicans, it also condemns others who are not apathetic to get trampled over too. Sadly, people are giving they support to the Party by staying at home talking about Wayne Rooney. We get everything we deserve.

  • Comment number 41.

    38. At 6:20pm on 22 Oct 2010, supersnapshot wrote:
    "Science ? Spare me ,I haven't finished laughing at this one yet:"

    You appreciate that it's usually the ignorant and bigoted who laugh at what they don't understand? Dimensions in science are just technical terms for variables and how they're related in mathematical 'space'. The positions or variables in those spaces are often given arbitrary, if not silly, names to make it clear that the names of variables don't matter, it's the relations and how good the set is at helping one predict and manage which matters. Rival theories try to account for more of the data and to make better predictions, as simply, parsimoniously as possible.

    For a popular treatment try "The Web of Belief" by Quine and Ullian.

  • Comment number 42.

    40. At 6:40pm on 22 Oct 2010, dceilar wrote:

    "Unfortunately, not only do these people get walked over by the politicans, it also condemns others who are not apathetic to get trampled over too. Sadly, people are giving they support to the Party by staying at home talking about Wayne Rooney. We get everything we deserve."

    Don't forget Cheryl Cole.

    This is the very essence of political liberalism. The thing to do is look into who cooked this up and which group does best by it. It's in the numbers, it shows that it isn't equalitarian, but dare you look? See 33 and 35 for those who dare not. That highlights the 'Veil of Ignorance' at its Faustian best.

    It's engineered masochistic denial, not apathy.

  • Comment number 43.

    excellent - belief in the web of belief is belief in the web of belief is belief in the...........................who'd ave believed it ! Thanks

  • Comment number 44.

    39 tabblenabble02

    It is easy to confuse investment and income.

    Investment is employing money to achieve a more efficient outcome in either qualitative and quantitative terms that produce a better life.

    Income is the flow of cash that provides the means to live.

    To borrow to invest should mean that the circumstantial improvement more than often will pay for itself.

    The problem the British state has is that periodically it forgets that investment needs to provide a return. Also it fails to realise that to borrow to provide income is chucking good money after bad.

    In order to get a return on an investment there needs to be productive gains. The British forget this far too easily as they are by and large lousy managers but great poseurs.

    This perpetual line as to the so-called `Libertarians' has a tedious quality. Such is the anxiety to keep making this ideological point that it sounds like a tenth-rate marketing assistant trying to talk up the prospects of a proposal long binned by its prospects. Anyone who does not fit the approval matrix is labelled `Libertarian' and consigned to the memory-hole.

  • Comment number 45.

    40 dceilar

    People don't understand so they retreat into the normality of everyday life. Everyday life provides a reassuring degree of predictability.

    It is when that safe predictability disappears that you get fear and communal action.

    Such communal action need not be pleasant. On the one hand it will reflect the dominant pressures being imposed on the community but the political expression will be within the context of how that community sees itself. In other words if you want successful mass action then get a political narrative that is generally agreed upon before the trigger.

    I think tabblenabble02 understands the latter, it is just that the message being marketed is so abstruse it will be passed over.

  • Comment number 46.

    As usual on Thursdays, I went to choir rehearsal last night: hoping, temporarily, to forget the troubles of the world. However, we started to rehearse a "new" piece for a massed male voice concert we shall be participating in next year: "By Babylon's Wave" (psalm 137) by Gounod:

    Woe unto thee Babylon mighty city,
    for the day of thy fall is nigh.
    For thee no hope, for thee no pity,
    thou loud thy wails rise upon high.

    Then shalt thou, desolate, forasken,
    be shorn of thy fains and thy thrones.
    In that day shall thy babes be taken,
    taken and dashed against the stones.
    Then unto thee oh Babylon the mighty,
    be woe, Be Woe, BE WOE!


    I might as well have stayed in and watched the economic news!

  • Comment number 47.

    Are we supposed to believe it is a coincidence that the UK gov decided to release the post mortem report for Dr david Kelly on the same day as the astonishing Wikileaks publication.. ''to maintain confidence''

    Are they serious?

    If anything it puts even more credibility behind David Kellys actions whether his last act be suicide or not. has anyone ever considered that his 'suicide' was a final calculated political statement from a 'spook' with principles rather than the act of an individual in turmoil.

    As for the leaks.

    This looks very very bad for the States from early reports, but i wonder what light it will also shed on the UK in all of this with our covert Catholic prime minister overseeing that period in our history.

    This all looks extremely ugly to me and could blow the USA's moral Authority (such as it is ) on the world stage into smitherines once and for all.

    How will they react?

    How will attitudes to the USA, its currency and its bonds change in the world through this.


    This looks serious to me, perhaps not immediately, but the reprocussions of the removal of 'the benefit of the doubt' concerning some western powers conduct in the world coupled with a time when they are weak economically could be enough to tip the balance into some form of economic collapse.

    The few friends they have will be running for the exits now to appease their population (especially in the middle east) as oppose to a phased withdrawal from over reliance on USA consumption,technology and reserve currency status.


    Hilary Clinton was right to be concerned about the 'risk to life' this leak poses in the world, what she failed to mention is that her nation created that risk in the first instance, wiki-leaks only exposed it.

    The dye is cast.




  • Comment number 48.

    The narrative is confused because few politicians on either side really understand what they are doing. They haven't the time to inform themselves, and there's always a "Sir Humphrey" to make sure they don't. Also, they are usually committed to defend their previous errors.

    This New Economics Forum article, "The Dialogue of the Blind" describes the situation very well:

    http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2010/10/22/the-dialogue-of-the-blind

  • Comment number 49.

    "48. At 11:46pm on 22 Oct 2010, Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    The narrative is confused because few politicians on either side really understand what they are doing."

    No, the 'narrative' is confused because narrative is expressed in non truth-functional terms. This is the vernacular of the intensional idioms of propositional attitudes (and their derivatives like possibility).

    Instead of 'thinking' in those terms yourself, do some research into what I have explained above. Listen to how politicians and journalists verbally behave. Look at their language as looking a a maths equation or computer program,.

  • Comment number 50.

    interesting quote from Ajai Chopra, Acting Director of the IMF’s European Department

    'As credit boom-bust cycles can be very costly, it is important to prevent excessive credit growth during the next boom.'

    The next boom has already started, apparently.


    IMF Sees Continued Recovery in Europe, Risks Remaining
    Press Release No. 10/391
    October 20, 2010

  • Comment number 51.

    MORE ON THE PUBLIC PRIVATE SHELL GAME

    This is why journalists are 'confused' - This from the ONS highlights exposure of just some of the intensional opacity to which I have been referring to, and which is endemic, and has been cleverly contrived.

    "On 19 February 2009, ONS announced the classification of Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Lloyds Banking Group as public corporations from 13 October 2008. To facilitate analyses of public sector employment estimates by users, the following time-series has been created to demonstrate the full impact of recent financial corporations’ classifications to the public sector (based on Standard Industrial Classification 64 (Financial Intermediation)).

    SIC 64;
    United Kingdom (Thousands) Headcount
    (abbreviated, see report for full data)

    2008 Q1 9,300
    2008 Q2 9,400
    2008 Q3 10,700
    2008 Q4 238,800
    2009 Q1 241,500
    2009 Q2 235,500
    2009 Q3 230,800
    2009 Q4 220,100
    2010 Q1 218,400
    "


    From ONS Report "Public sector employment
    Q1 2010 Date: 16 June 2010" linked in above link.


    Having studio audiences on NN, or asking people in the street what they think, is an affront to your viewers BBC. What do they know?

    On the flip side, once budgets are devolved to 'front line' trusts/trustees (with preening head-teachers and doctors as their poodles), who will be able to audit their paymasters? These may no longer be Public Sector bodies, so will the FOIA apply? If they are classed as private companies..........you will have ENRON in their thousands and no regulators.

  • Comment number 52.

    @49 JadedJean/Statist/L Ron TabbleNabble_n: n ∊ ℕ

    You have had more comebacks than Nellie Melba.

    Expressing something simple in obscure technical jargon is an old trick to try to suggest to people that you are a superior person, that you know what you are talking about and have something to say worth listening to. The fact that this trick is resorted to implies the opposite (the null hypothesis in this case). I normally rather despise such games, but, if I wanted to play, I would express the above argument in symolic logic:

    In truth functional terms:

    S ↔ Y∧Z
    τ → ¬S
    τ
    ¬Y∧Z ⊣

    Fill in the variable values and construct the truth tabble(sic) yourself. In future I shall refer all your comments to the moderators unless they are written in English.

  • Comment number 53.

    "I SHALL BE FOUND DEAD IN THE WOODS" (#47)

    Dr Kelly - of all people - knew just how nasty things could get; he was always at risk of upsetting nasty people.

    To use your phrase Jericoa: 'has anyone ever considered' his act might have been dictated as the least unpleasant option? He had family, and England is a place where people die odd deaths. . .

    That being said, if this was the best way he could come up with, I don't give much for his scientific credentials! HAS ANYONE EVER CONSIDERED THAT?

  • Comment number 54.

    52. At 2:49pm on 23 Oct 2010, Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    "Expressing something simple in obscure technical jargon is an old trick to try to suggest to people that you are a superior person, that you know what you are talking about and have something to say worth listening to. "

    Do you not like being taught anything? Perhaps an occupational hazard?
    Some professions attract those with a need to perform. I appear to have elicited a rage response. Do you know why?

    Did you ever do any philosophy of logic or language as an undergraduate?
    If you had, you'd have learned that what I've have been posting, is quite basic to C20th philosophy of language and mind. I suggest you look this up when you have a few moments, as the intensional idioms of propositional attitude aren't truth functional because they fail the basic tests of extensionality (i.e. logical quantification in, and substitutivity of identicals salva veritate). It gives those who traffic in them licence to befuddle, which is why those who do are interested in pursuit of truth, (science) avoid them.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sasha @48

    Read your link. Very good and confirms what many have suspected. Capitalism needs debt like a drunk needs alcohol - it is a path destined for self destruction. What we need is a post-Capitalist system that is sustainable - in a monetary, social, and ecological sense. I still believe the Buddhist Economics put forward by Dr Schumacher in his Small Is Beautiful is the way to go. 'Right Livelihood' is one of the requirements of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path.

    Moreover, Peace and Permanence should be the two words for humanity's future. Build peace on economic foundations where luxuries do not become needs; permanence on conservation and organic agriculture.

 

More from this blog...

Latest contributors

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.