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« Bandit accounting | Main | Fake charities »
Wednesday
Jan212009

Guardian fantasy land

Iain Dale points out that the US state now employs more people than manufacturing.

Meanwhile, over at the Graun, Jonathan Freedland gushes in the general direction of Barack Obama and welcomes the end of what he calls the 30-year grip of the notion of limited government.

It seems clear then that Freedland is living in la-la land, like so many of his colleagues. Is there actually anyone at the Guardian with even the slightest idea of what happens in the real world?

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Reader Comments (13)

On that jobs graph - I don't see why its worrying in itself. Manufacturing has long been an area of falling employment with increases in productivity.
THe interesting (and probably far more worrying) graph would be state dependents and those whose income is independent of the state (roughtly - the income of many in non-state associated industries is probably dependent upon regulation, but that's difficult to calculate - if not impossible).

In the UK I believe we are heading towards a majority being dependent upon the state (if we havn't already got there).

As for Guardian la-la land - its their narrative, they're not going to let piddling reality get in on the act, oh no.
Jan 21, 2009 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTristan
The manufacturing curve is fine, I agree. The government one is the concern - you don't say so, but I'm guessing you agree with me here.
Jan 21, 2009 at 9:58 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
The answer to your question is clearly no. The Guardian is effectively a supplicant of the state - much of its advertising income is derived from those notorious jobs pages for public sector positions. If any government were to severely cut such jobs, the Guardian's income would fall off a cliff. It is part of the NuLab establishment both in political and monetary terms.
Jan 21, 2009 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnathan Pearce
As someone who worked in government, I can warn folks, it will only get worse. Here is how it works...an unsuspecting competent person applies for a government job and is hired. Their first realization after a short period is they are surrounded by idiots and totally incompetent people whose sole purpose is to collect a check. They can not be fired. They produce almost nothing of value and consume mass quantities of money.

After a short period the newly hired competent person has had enough dealing with people who look at the job as a cover for a nice big welfare check. They resign to go to work in the private sector.

Now think about this process working this way since the 1960s...in simple terms the government acts as a competency filter. Competent people are filtered out, and only the incompetent say employed by the government.

The same is true for higher education in America...the really smart students planning on obtaining higher degrees are usually "recruited" to leave at the Masters level by high paying private sector companies. The lowest performing students stay in college eventually obtaining a PhD (all it takes is time and money grants). Since they are generally not very bright they can't get a job even with the PhD, so they stay and become professors. So you must understand, the majority PhDs in higher education are poorest performers in their given fiield.

That explains to some degree why their are so many Liberals in higher education and why so many believe in Global Warming.

No disrespect for the very few great PhDs in education that intended to teach from day one.
Jan 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterVinnster
Whilst I have a lot of sympathy with your thesis I think you make a fundamental error. It is false to assume that all the best are filtered out to the private sector. Or that the private sector is intrinsically anti-statist.

Hayek discusses the role of the intellectual
http://mises.org/story/2984
http://mises.org/etexts/hayekintellectuals.pdf
He claimed that clever people with a bias to the market would leave the academy. Other clever people would stay.

I'm more inclined to the view that intellectuals has a class suffer from a fatal conceit. They assume that clever people should run society on behalf of the less clever. They further assume based upon their peers that all people think like themselves. Thus it is natural that they believe in central planning for society.

Another essay, and I can't for the life of me remember who wrote it had the following idea. When we are children at school the clever children are celebrated. They win adult approval. However in later life this attribute becomes only one of several in determining how people will value them. This is particularly true in terms of monetary rewards. Thus the intellectual discovers that as an adult they are suddenly overtaken by people who as a child were no threat.
Jan 21, 2009 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK
TDK

That last bit is spot on. My brother dropped out of school at 16 and now earns far more than me. I stayed in education until I was 21.
Jan 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
TDK : Whilst I have a lot of sympathy with your thesis I think you make a fundamental error. It is false to assume that all the best are filtered out to the private sector."

My statements are based on real experience, and granted one can say mine was the exception to the rule. I worked for government for three years in my early twenties and in the following thirty years (visiting government laboratories) I never ran across a group of more incompetent or just plain stupid people.

As for my experience with higher education, I spent thirteen years training customers on the operation and installation of analytical instruments. That put me in a university/government lab dealing with their PhDs about one day a week. The other four days of the week I was in the private sector ( pharmaceutical, chemical and manufacturing). The contrast between the competency, intelligence and overall understand of hard science by the University/Government PhD and the private sector PhD was dramatic.

The private sector PhD were brilliant compared to the university/governemnt variety. In addition, the private sector PhDs worked long hours developing products to better mankind. The university PhD started his day around 10AM and left by 2PM all the while their Masters students did their work for them.

So I will grant you my experience may be anecdotal and exceptional, but understand for thirteen years I visited almost every major university./governemnt laboratory in the southeast United States, which represents a pretty large sample over and extend period of time.
Jan 21, 2009 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterVinnster
I think it depends on the type of civil servant. For example... GCHQ employs some of the finest radio/telecomm/IT specialists in the world. Generally they are attracted by the work environment & the chance to work on & with some of the best kit there is - and, indeed, to develop it. You could say the same of the RAF Signals Eng Establishment.

The rot is really in the administrative civil service. They are completely dominated by essay writers rather than do-ers, who kill all initiative with their dead hands of inanition. Risk taking is discouraged - it is better, in their world, to follow the rules & fail rather than take a risk & succeed. And of course being the admin branch they do not sack themselves. Culturally they look do on the greasy artisans who do the work. In my experience this is sadly very common with Oxbridge liberal arts types.
Jan 21, 2009 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix
Itchy typing finger there.... I should have written they look down on, etc.
Jan 21, 2009 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix
First things first. The author I forgot was Nozick: http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n1-1.html

Vinnster

Reading your comment and then mine, I detect that I am perhaps too strong.

I am an IT Consultant and I work in both sectors. In the public sector I worked for several local authorities, two police forces, Defence, DWP and some health authorities. I would agree that the experience differs greatly from public to private. In general the average appears a lot lower in the former. However part of that is cultural in that people seem to do bugger all.

In a previous era the finest minds broke Enigma and built the Colossus. All on the government payroll as was the post war development of the bomb. I've no doubt that some incredibly clever people work for GCHQ today.

So I'm not claiming the public sector matches man for man. Only that some clever people do remain.

As for academia, I would expect that the Phd candidates come from upper 2nds and 1sts and the academics from a subset of that pool. Certainly all the academics I know fall into that group. Well qualified but often hopelessly impractical.

Another group of highly qualified left leaning people are consultants. I spent 6 months working alongside a group from PWC. This is a class that believes in expert planning and to pick your issue, buys into global warming. Of course they want to make their money from it.
Jan 21, 2009 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTDK
Since I thought I was checking Vinnster's hyperbole rather than disagreeing with his fundamental point, here's a Thomas Sewell article that I think he will agree with
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell061903.asp

In particular

"Among Hoffer's insights about mass movements was that they are an outlet for people whose individual significance is meager in the eyes of the world and - more important - in their own eyes. He pointed out that the leaders of the Nazi movement were men whose artistic and intellectual aspirations were wholly frustrated.

Hoffer said: "The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause."

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: "A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding," Hoffer said. "When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business." "
Jan 22, 2009 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterTDK
TDK: In a previous era the finest minds broke Enigma and built the Colossus. All on the government payroll as was the post war development of the bomb. I've no doubt that some incredibly clever people work for GCHQ today."

No argument from me on this one...I have learned and admired in wonder at the abilities of the British government employees of WW2, they were nothing short of genius. The same can be said for the government employees of the Manhattan Project, but that was a time when truly great people (male and female) rose to the occasion to defend their homelands.

The phenomenon I refer to really started in the US in the 1960s when the government rapidly expanded with LBJs "Great Society" programs and the "selling" of the idea, the government was here to provide a persons every need.

As you point out, I think I need to qualify my statement to say, the vast majority of folks in government/academia are the low performers, but there are pockets of very qualified people.
Jan 22, 2009 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterVinnster
TDK:I'm more inclined to the view that intellectuals has a class suffer from a fatal conceit. They assume that clever people should run society on behalf of the less clever. They further assume based upon their peers that all people think like themselves. Thus it is natural that they believe in central planning for society."

This one is dead on accurate. I have wondered how people with obviously high IQs could buy into Liberalism. It took a while of listening to them to hear between the lines. To restate your premise, Liberals think their success is due to their superior abilities they were born with and anyone not so well gifted must be taken care of by the smart people.

They fail recognize, to steal a phrase from Edison, "What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration...it is this very real fact that separates Liberals from Non-Liberals.

Liberal education destroys an individuals belief in themselves that they can be almost anything and achieve amazing success simply by setting a goal and working very hard to achieve it. They often decry rich as folks who got that way by stepping on the little people. They fail to recognize the fact (many books written on it), here in the US most millionaires are normal people who got rich by working very hard for decades and they lived within their means.

In a nutshell, a Liberals success is usually based on a gift they were born with, while Non-Liberals success is based on their efforts over a long period of time.

Liberalism teaches dependency. It turns young children that could have been independent successful people into wards-of-the-state. The perfect example is the African American. Just after the Equal Right Amendment the social statistics (two parent families, strong work ethic, low unwed birth rate) for AA were about equal to whites. After 40 years of complete Liberal control, their families have been destroyed and their culture is self-destructive.
Jan 22, 2009 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterVinnster

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