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December 13, 2016


Miguel Madeira

"There was a time when Tories were, rightly, distrustful of the state."

There was? As a Portuguese born in 1973, I don't have a direct experience, but my impression is that, even when they were defending vast privatizations, they were also for laws restricting the activity of trade unions.

Dave Timoney

The implication of the apocryphal Soviet tale is that what matters is managing upwards, i.e. satisfying someone at Gosplan or getting on the right side of the Politburo. So who are the Tories trying to impress?

Most foreign students spend their time here in large cities, such as London or Manchester, where the locals tend to be less fussed by immigration and may even be worried by a reduction in student spending. Conversely, small towns that have seen increased immigration from Eastern Europe in recent decades (and voted heavily for Brexit) won't see any change on the ground because of this measure.

The obvious conclusion is that the policy is aimed at satisfying the rightwing press through a "headline reduction". In other words, this is not just about the tyranny of targets but about the manufacture of reality. In this sense, cutting foreign student is fit for purpose in a way that the Soviet nails were not. It also shows that the role of bully is not limited to the official state.


I don't know if the story is true but there was certainly a cartoon in Krokodil showing an enormous nail hanging from the jib of a crane. And one worker is shouting to his mate "that's our output target for the year comrade"


I think this is it, though I don't speak russian



So Tories led by Cameron increased university fees to £9,000 for British students. Now Tories led by May plan to cut foreign student visas to meet an immigration target.

I suppose we can hope for tourists to come to the UK and visit the derelict and empty classrooms of many British universities. What's the name for a decorative fake building or mock ruin that is meant to look aged? Ah, yes, folly. A very apt name.


«told by the Tories that central planning was a stupid idea. And yet here we have a Tory government considering the same mistake that central planners made, of thinking that it was sufficient to hit targets.»

There are whig Conservatives and tory Conservatives. They have work at cross purposes, as they are sponsored by different wing of the business and property rentiers.


The far right Tory Government are indeed very stupid. They aim to destroy all export markets together, banking and education and everything else with Brexit and xenophobic measures.

Who needs a working economy?


"There was a time when Tories were, rightly, distrustful of the state. That time has passed."

That has never been the case -- they were "distrustful" of the state when it was not acting as the agent of the property-owning class. They were very much in favour of state action, regulation, etc. -- when it is against workers.

To suggest otherwise is nonsense.


mikep -- I think that's it. It originally appeared in the old Soviet satirical magazine "Krokodil".


Statistician turned management guru, W. Edwards Deming, recorded many anecdotes of perverse outcomes of arbitrary targets in 'Out of the Crisis' and other writings.
He even invented a simple game to demonstrate his ideas.

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