Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top posts (or at least the top ones I wrote) of 2017

Another year splutters and coughs as it nears its end. And an unusual year following on from the earthquake year of 2016 - Brexit, snap election, minority government, Corbyn, Trump and a new French president. I wrote some blog posts and these are the one's you liked most:

Build more suburbs
Right across England we need a more mature debate about housing development. Not the polemical ASI "scrap the green belt" debate but rather one with local communities about how much extra housing they'd be happy with and where it might go. After all most of those people have families, they know how expensive housing is these days and they want their children and grandchildren to have the joys of home ownership.
Be pragmatic about Brexit
The process between now and the point when the UK leaves the European Union is about these arrangements, about balancing between maintaining access to the EU and openness elsewhere, and about the UK deciding upon and implementing a trade strategy. It's not and never has been about there being some 'plan', a sort of ideological blueprint for leaving the EU. Such planning's main function is in allowing the testing of different scenarios and in exploring how UK domestic decisions play out internationally:
It's not OK to punch political opponents
The only winners from punching Nazis and Fascists are the Nazis and Fascists. And if you think punching people who you disagree with is just fine and dandy then you're part of the problem not part of the solution. If your mythology tells you - and left wing mythology does just this - that violence is central to Fascism and Nazi-ism then your punching that Nazi makes you one and the same as him.
Yes, Trump does want to ban Muslims
So those folk complaining about the description of this action as a 'Muslim ban' - 'it's not a ban and it doesn't mention Muslims' they shout - are wrong. Trump's intention is absolutely that of banning Muslims. We know this because he said so. And all that's happened is the US law and constitution are making it hard for Trump to do what he said he wanted to do - ban Muslims. It may not be a ban but that is its intention. It may not mention Muslims but they are its target. It is, de facto, a Muslim Ban or at least an attempt at one.
The left aren't interested in liberalism
We do not live in a liberal society. The left do not and never have believed in a liberal society. Why the hell should I believe that their marching to defend that liberal society against Trump, Brexit and other demons is anything other than a big, fat stinking lie?
Owning robots...
Partly this distribution of the robot benefits comes through goods and services being cheaper (lots cheaper in some cases) thereby allowing our money to go further. But there is also the consideration that the benefits cannot simply go to a few entrepreneurs if the advantages of robots are to be realised. This is where some advocates of minimum basic income get their shtick - government taxes the robots' added value and shares it with the humans who don't have jobs any more thereby allowing those humans space to go off and do exciting, creative stuff. This does presuppose that government will not crash the robot economy so as to pay the higher basic income they promised in order to get elected. Not a presupposition I'd care to put money on.
Evil marketers and Big Data
The truth is a deal more prosaic. Marketers ask customers about their lives, social media use and so forth then profile this against aggregate data from various sources to produce targeting information - where geographically or behaviourally we can go looking for folk like those customers we've surveyed. I so want us marketers and ad men to be master manipulators, able to switch your mind at the push of an analytical button or the twitch of an algorithm. But we're not like that at all, we're not even that good at using big data.
London habits
None of us provincials and suburbanites think everything is perfect or even that leaving the EU is some sort of panacea to society's ills. Rather, we would like to be seen as people rather than something to be either sneered at or patronised. Above all, as English men and women, we think our country is great, has done great things, and is worth preserving as a place rather than a mere brand in a nebulous, purposeless 'Anywhere'.
Time to close down public health
Imagine Glastonbury, Reading or Leeds Festival without smoking (of any kind). Consider what will happen to your local when smokers have to move half a street away to enjoy a fag. Those smokers - getting on for a fifth of the population - won't be there. And what happens when a fifth or more of your business goes away? No more local pub. Half the nations festivals and concerts unviable. Empty bars. Closed restaurants. Hundreds of thousands more jobs destroyed by public health.
It's a small thing...
It's a small thing. Since the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday night, my in boxes have been free of emails from the Conservative Party and its leaders - not one. And you know something, Theresa, this is a problem. While you've been coming over all strong and stable, you and your team have forgotten to do something really simple.
Your caring, sharing NHS at its most cruel
We're told almost daily how NHS staff are wonderful and caring yet somehow we've reached a point where "as there wasn't evidence to prove that e-cigs were safe or unsafe, they were banned on health grounds" - for people in a hospice receiving palliative care for a terminal illness. Not only is this stupid but it is really cruel. So much for the caring, sharing NHS.
Ten common lies about free markets...

Every day - in the papers, on the telly and all over social media - a bunch of people tell a pack of lies about free markets, capitalism and the liberal enlightenment that made us all rich, is still helping make the poor less poor and the rich happier. The Clerisy, as Deirdre McCloskey calls them, having got themselves secure, often tax-funded positions spend their time sneering at the things that made their comfortable lives possible. Hipsterish, right-on web-design consultants and the like go on about the evils of capitalism while plying their lucrative businesses in that capitalist world.

This makes me angry.


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