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November 23, 2007



Then the logic is that as little as possible should be entrusted to monopoly operations, especially any that can put themselves above the law. Shrink the State. Tories, even Cameron's sort, can easily make the case that they are more likely to shrink the state than Labour - or, perhaps more plausibly, are less likely to expand it.

Mike Smith

The HMRC method for data transfer which is the source of all these problems wasn't suddenly implemented in the last year. It's been that way since 1988. It just happens that the Tories were lucky enough that this didn't happen in their time in office. Them not stopping it during their 9 years shows equal incompetence.


You don't think that maybe the story is becoming as much the being 'economical with the truth' over the whole thing as much as anything else?

Trooper Thompson

Mike Smith,

"Them not stopping it during their 9 years shows equal incompetence"

No, the buck stops with the pricks that have been in power ten years, not the pricks that haven't.


PJ O'Rourke would agree with you Chris,

"Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it."

However, you're wrong about Anthony Bolton. Every so often, a few traders come along that do beat the market in the long run (anyone can be right over a few years, but very few are consistently right.)

For information - the other guy who beats the market year in, year out is a brilliant trader called Alan Howard. He runs a hedge fund called Brevan Howard. If you can get into his fund, you can pretty much sit back and retire.

Tom P

Interesting post. On the issue of misattributing competence (rather than luck) there are quite a few books that have come out on this subject.

The Halo Effect has a look at how management consultants and the business press misread data, and create narratives around business successes rather than really understanding them. The title is about how when we see something/someone that is successful in one aspect (ie financial performance of a company) we also think that we 'see' that they are great at other things too (customer relations, strong internal culture, good management etc).

Looking at markets, and specifically financial markets, Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests we are similarly gullible in respect of the performance of traders. Randomness will throw up extreme cases. But because we expect a random distribution to look like a text book bell curve distribution when we are face with real messy randomness we think we can see patterns.

On the flipside Why Most Things Fail by Paul Ormerod has a go at explaining why we should expect a lot of things done by companies, governments etc to go wrong.

Tom P

reall should have read this blog properly before I commented. I am sure you are familiar with those books by the look of it.


Many politicians of both parties were journalists, lecturers, or lawyers prior to their election. These are people who have spent their careeers on the outside looking in, and criticising. They have no experience of what its like to be inside trying to make it work, and in particular no idea how an organisation will screw you over in a hundred different ways if you ask it to do what they consider the impossible.


Is the NHS inefficient? Yes

Is this a political issue? Yes. The government runs it.

Are pharmeceutical companies inefficient? Yes

Is this a political issue? No. There's a large industry responsible for analysing, reporting, and managing this.

Conclusion. Ship out as much as possible to a competitive environment.

Bob B

"Cameron has no track record of competence."

Ah! but "David Cameron has branded the Labour Government 'enemies of freedom.'"

From that, I can only assume he is launching a timely criticism of the government over the startling fact that England and Wales not only have a near record prison population but have more in prison per head of population than other countries in western Europe.

What is David Cameron proposing to do about this ghastly statistic?

Devil's Kitchen

It is also worth noting that many of us who have been critical -- including Tim W, myself, chris at Strange Stuff, etc. -- are most definitely not Tories.

As such, whilst it is a valid argument to make in terms of "the right", your juxtaposition of Tim's query with a question on whether the Tories should make so much of it is something of a straw man.



Bob B: prison stats should be compared to the crime rate, not the size of the population (though it's presumably off-topic for this thread).


If politicians are seen as responsible for X, have the power to influence X, or depend for their jobs on X, then they will certainly attempt to manage X, or give the appearance of the attempt, even if X is impossible even in principle.

We need 'political climate change', perhaps by controlling 'leftist platitude emissions' in the media ;)

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