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November 03, 2013



9. is thought-provoking. The idea that "more markets!" might mean something other than "let's replace a state monopoly with a profiteering oligopoly" is genuinely novel to me, although now it's been pointed out I have to admit it as a possibility. In my defence, it so rarely does.


"lessons must be learnt. (Of course, they never are.)"

This is an exaggeration. Football grounds are now safer, work environments are safer and less sexist and racist, police are less corrupt and your children are less likely to be abused at school or church. Lessons have been learnt and legislation has improved society.


You might even say that those assumptions are dictated by the media.
Then, it is not clear whether what the media think is shaped by public opinion, or if it is the other way around.
But what's clear is that the media have a political responsibility, and they're not ready to admit it. It is a far bigger responsibility than politicians, because politicians merely think what the media say.


pablopatito I think you are mistaking a change as necessarily being because of legislation. Change does not always eual progress and the examples yougive can easily be be put down to social trends rather than any legislation.


"cost over-runs in government IT projects" - There are almost no major government IT projects. There are many business transformational projects that use a lot of IT. Branding such a project an IT project is the first mistake.

I find No.6 particularly interesting at present, as we can make everything we desire as a planet with less than 40 hours work per person. The immense emphasis on working long hours and working being a requirement for everyone is therefore guaranteeing high unemployment, high inflation and exhaustion.

Phil Beesley

11. The BBC is biased against "us", whoever we might be. Reality is that the BBC is a managerialist organisation, subject to pressure from managerialist politicians; and that perceived organisational bias has complex origins.

12a. The Guardian is a left wing rag. When The Guardian works, it is a paper of news written by contrary people who are prepared to upset those in power; a Private Eye journal with hard facts and lots of eyeballs.

If you judged The Guardian based on comment pieces from Polly and Seamus, you would determine that it is lefty nonsense. Had you based your appraisal of leftiness on the newspaper's record of news reporting (eg Operation Ore), you might think differently.

12b. The Telegraph is a right wing rag. Etcetera.


Zorblog raise an interesting point. I don't agree that these assumptions are simply "dictated" by the media, but there is clearly an institutional bias that reinforces some of them (the lauding of public opinion is obviously self-interested). Perhaps as the media evolve these assumptions will too.

Their fundamental belief is that shouting can effect real change, which is a species of perfectibility. This also influences their support for managerialism - e.g. their promotion of heroic business leaders, which reaches parody by the back pages; their faith in hydraulic policy (Steve Bell's Dacre Downfall skit was both funny and true); and ignorance of deadweight costs (a fear of complexity and thus the absence of easy answers). But they would exhibit these characteristics even if they were editorially leftwing.

Where the media are more ideologically determined (i.e. advancing the agenda of the powerful rather than themselves) is in the dissing of the state and public sector professionals. I know a few journalists and they are acutely conflicted by this, given their own experiences of creeping deprofessionalisation (some just want to take other professionals down with them).

There has been a clear change in tenor over the last 50 years, from representing the common man against thoughtless power (a church broad enough to encompass GK Chesterton and Paul Foot), to a psychotic antipathy towards the state and pro-social organisation, which is hardly compensated for by a festishisation of the monarchy and armed forces. They are a morbid symptom.


@Phil Beesley, if you think Polly Toynbee is a "lefty", then I'm afraid their cunning plan has worked.

The Guardian's commitment to "balance" means that for every Toynbee or Seamus Milne article, you get a piece from a romantic Tory like Simon Jenkins or a free market ideologue like Melissa Kite. A quantitative assessment would place the paper on the centre-right. They only look "progressive" because the middle of the media spectrum is way to the right of the population at large.

By the way, there is no dispute over the BBC's bias among those who actually study the subject (as opposed to politicians). It is biased towards the establishment, which means slightly right of centre, hence it often finds common cause with the Guardian.

Phil Beesley

@Another Chris: "There are almost no major government IT projects. There are many business transformational projects that use a lot of IT. Branding such a project an IT project is the first mistake."

I dunno whether I contradict you by saying that IT is at the heart of service provision. IT is like the water supply or electricity. A service fails without vital inputs.

If a "business transformational project" can efficiently be conducted via pen on paper, it might be done. IT is a recording and communication tool; it is not the only one.

But @Another Chris propounds that "many business transformational projects" "use a lot of IT".

Good IT ideas do not require much IT. The concept is called efficiency.

However we are talking about "business transformation". It's about changing an existing operational model.

So I am being convinced by @Another Chris? Naaa. I do not trust anyone's revolution.

Phil Beesley

@FromArseToElbow: I tried to define The Guardian outside its comments columns. As a teenager, I read the broadsheets (I'd like to know what the unpublished London Times might have reported).

As a news paper, The Guardian delivers news.

Denis Drew

I have been reading Richard Reeves President Kennedy this week. JFK had not much faith in the progress of the civil rights movement because he was afraid opposition attitudes were too deep and too long ingrained.

He did not seem to grasp that things never would change if somebody did not finally dig in hard and fight. I've read elsewhere that he said supporting civil rights would gain him 5% and lose him 10% of the vote. To his credit he voiced willingness to take on civil rights after his reelection.

In comparison to Kennedy's dog pile of disincentives to take on civil rights, what in the world is holding back Obama on the $15 an hour minimum wage (and re-unionizing America -- legally mandated, sector wide labor agreements the only way to go as far as I can see)?

The great majority of the public supports a raise in the minimum wage – even if the question is not presented to them in terms $15 an hour. Even if he could not sell $15 an hour (having said that, the arguments on the simple logical and eighth grade math level seem quite compelling), he would not burn up any political capital trying.

Some of the minority who pose minimum wage increases could actually be swung over to a lesser increase – no votes lost there. A minority of the great majority who might not want to go all the way to $15 would not by any stretch of the imagination become disenchanted Obama voters and switch to the Republicans.

All noble (desperate!) cause and all political plums; whoever peoples the planet that Obama is living on?


Thanks for responding to my suggestion. I wish I had time to respond!

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