Thursday, 31 December 2015

Free speech, fussbucketry and other things I won't shut up about in 2016 (sorry but a happy new year)


The ineffective puritanism of modern public health

Perhaps, we will shift back to a more balanced approach to these issues. Less judging, less hectoring. Or maybe we'll sleepwalk into a ghastly, oppressive world where the New Puritans police our behaviour for its adherence to the received orthodoxy of believe about pleasures. I am not all that hopeful right now.

How lies - by pharma companies and tobacco businesses - are used to try and kill vaping

Biebert has identified Big Pharma, anti-smoking groups and government as the real forces at work to discourage electronic cigarettes and vaping. Biebert, who neither vapes nor smokes, was first drawn to the topic after reading about the famous ‘formaldehyde in ecigs’ claim. Beibert had friends that had switched from smoking to vaping and when he looked into the formaldehyde in ecigs study, the lie was obvious. That got him wondering.

Why free speech is really really important and the only winners in its removal are those with power

"In simple terms: one, I don't think we should be spending public money on finding out whether we can ban the EDL.

"Secondly, free speech and free assembly matters and if we can't have these things our society is worse for it."

How the lack of real accountability in the NHS kills any attempt to make it more efficient or more effective

The idea that the NHS is run by ‘the people’, as a joint endeavour, is a romantic fantasy. The NHS is an elite project, and this could not be otherwise. Collective choice is not a substitute for individual choice and ‘voice’ is not a substitute for ‘exit’. The illusory ‘accountability’ mediated through the political process cannot come anywhere near the accountability of a marketplace, or of a properly designed quasi-market setting, in which providers stand and fall with the choices consumers make, and depend on them for their very economic survival.

How free markets, free trade and capitalism are making the world - day after day - a healthier, wealthier, happier and more equal place

It was Schumpeter who pointed out that capitalism and the free market revolution didn’t mean all that much to Elizabeth I. She already had knitted stockings (in fact, we know the day she got her first pair). The great genius of capitalism is that it ended up with every factory girl possessing knitted stockings. That’s actually the defining feature of the system, that it ends up making everything just extraordinarily cheap–exactly the thing we want in order to be able to improve the lives of the poor. Just as it did our own forefathers of course. Because our forefathers were, almost all of them for almost all of history in exactly that $2 a day poverty that we now define as absolute poverty.

In between this stuff there'll be the usual bits about urbanism, the stupidity of planning, daft environmentalism, a bit of Bradford and - of course, of course - some mushrooms. I might even find a little time to say something about why we should leave the EU. Hopefully some of you will stay the course. Whatever you do, have a good 2016 if you possibly can.

It goes without saying that I'm grateful so many of you kept coming back here - prompted by a few great blogs including that commie fellow Chris Dillow's 'Stumbling & Mumbling', Dick Puddlecote and Chris Snowdon as well as the legion of folk who arrive from Twitter and Facebook.

So whatever you're doing this evening, do it in style and I pray it includes some binge drinking, over-eating, staying up too late, making a noise and enjoying the fabulous munificence of this great world we've got to live on. And I hope you don't let the nannies, the fussbuckets, the puritans, the health fascists and the greeny-greeny, back-to-the-mud huts brigade ruin your year. Above all please try to be polite while saying the things you want to say about the things that matter to you. Don't let the tyranny of those - like the Labour's leader on Bradford Council - who want to stifle your right to speak freely.

Happy New Year. And have a good one.



Will Robinson said...

Good luck in the new year. Agree with most of this other than the NHS. While there are many problems with the NHS I can't see any working examples of a fair capitalism driven health system - health care tends to be packaged in insurance / employment so real choice of provider doesn't exist with those conditions.

It always confuses me to see well reasoned people look at the shortfalls of our national health, the shortfalls of overseas health care implementations and say they'd prefer the latter. From what I can see, I'd rather fix the inefficiency, bureaucracy and self-righteous attitude of some (and it really is just some) of the NHS staff than throw the whole thing away and adopt a free market approach

Also, if I hear any other NHS workers refer to the NHS as free health care again I might not be so polite in correcting them next time.

Dermot said...

What with 'je suits Charlie' last year there was some discussion on free speech in 2015, but not enough in my opinion. I certainly don't think we got to a point where there was enough public awareness of the importance of free speech (rights and responsibilities) as a core part of democracy. With calls for restrictions on criticism of religion (blasphemy) around the world and increased state surveillance in the name of anti-terrorism, free speech has seldom been under such threat as it is today. Of course idiot trolls on Twitter with their rape threats and misogyny don't help. I'd like a politics in the pub debate on this. It's not a left vs right thing, rather it's liberalism vs authoritarianism. Where do you sit on this Simon, and why do you think Dave Green wants to restrict free speech? (Pls no mention of bloody toasters! :-). )

Simon Cooke said...

Thanks for the comment Dermot. I am (if it's the right word) a fundamentalist on free speech and believe that our laws now go too far. It's true that the rape threats on Twitter don't help but it's pretty bonkers when two folk get six month prison sentences for painting a poppy on a mosque wall on the basis that this is 'hate crime'. As to Dave, I'm sure he can defend his position, but on two occasions he's said publicly that absolute free speech isn't allowed (or similar). And they are setting about trying to ban the EDL.