David Thompson
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February 25, 2013

Comments

Simen Thoresen

WTP,

On another note, this positive/negative rights thing...I was hoping that wouldn't catch on. It's so counterintuitive, like the red/blue state thing over here.

...or leftist.

But I agree - it's counter-intuitive and horribly abstract. You can talk about negative and positive freedoms as well, where the difference is between the freedom from, and the freedom to. Still, it's not obvious why a freedom from persecution would be a negative freedom...

At the core is the point that different groups want different rights and freedoms. Those that often are seen as progressive want positive rights, and the freedoms to do things, while those who identify with conservative or individualistic ideals, want the negative rights, and the freedoms from being subjected to the acts of others.

-S

Steve

Rob,

"Do they simply think everyone else is stupid and gullible?"

Actually it's even worse than that. The people that tell us that we cannot be trusted and must be bullied and forced into making all the right health & lifestyle decisions are exactly the same people the spend the other half of their time telling us that we are all equal. How they fail to see the contradiction is one of life's more irritating mysteries.

Rich Rostrom

David: Bugger the pilgrimage, and the burger, just crack open the wine.

If you're ever in Chicago, or the MidWest, you must visit Steak'n'Shake. The burgers are OK, but the fries are excellent, the shakes are glorious, the restaurants are immaculate, and the service is superb.

It's almost a Platonic ideal of capitalism at its best.

Jess1

"Do they simply think everyone else is stupid and gullible?"
I'd have to say "yes, they do", generally speaking...

David

The people that tell us that we cannot be trusted and must be bullied and forced into making all the right health & lifestyle decisions are exactly the same people that spend the other half of their time telling us that we are all equal.

Presumably, such people imagine themselves as the nomenklatura, guiding us to fairness from above.

Somewhat relevant.

ErisGuy

Once I wondered what kind of mentality lay behind the medieval inquisitions. Wonder no more.

Lori

What could possibly go wrong?

The bigger we make the state the more efficient it will be!

/sarcasm.

David

The bigger we make the state the more efficient it will be! /sarcasm.

It’s easy to find people whose experience of state bureaucracy is pretty awful – it seems almost everyone has a story of inefficiency or disappointment – yet some of the same people want the state to do more, much more, as if somehow they expect an entirely different level of service and an entirely different culture.

Simen Thoresen

David,
it seems almost everyone has a story of inefficiency or disappointment – yet some of the same people want the state to do more

Here I've found that most people have something to say against the inefficiencies and the misdirected policies of the state, yet they all point at different policies or domains. For instance, a teacher would blame general bureaucracy and show how much could be saved by cutting unnecessary paperwork in the health service, while a nurse could point out that the education system is horribly bad.

I think the general observation is that most I talk to see lots of waste that could easily be dealt with, except in the fields they themselves belong to. There, great gains could be had if only a little more resources were made available.

Of course, those I point this out to tend to claim that their own position obviously is the more correct one. I find that a bit interesting.

-S

David

Simen,

Yes, more money – making the thing bigger – is often the proposed solution. But there’s also a mindset to address, a kind of demoralised complacency, in which the customer has little, if any, of the usual leverage. To pick some mundane examples, my old mobile phone service provider was inadequate so I switched to another, much better service. The new provider was happy to take my custom and made the changeover all but effortless. But when the City Council miscalculated my council tax, wildly, there was nowhere else to go. Incompetence and indifference were pretty much default settings and correcting their error was like trying to clean the Augean stables. It took forever, at my expense, and elicited no apology or admission of fault. And this kind of experience is by no means uncommon.

To have my bill corrected I had to use the Council’s automated phone menu, which, naturally didn’t work properly. There was no way to get to the relevant department. Instead I got stranded in telephonic limbo. After several attempts and half an hour or so, I finally managed to get through to one of the Council’s switchboards. I explained that the automated phone service had a fault, described it briefly and suggested someone take a look at it. This was, after all, the Council’s preferred interface with the public. A bored-sounding woman made some vague and noncommittal noise and, after being transferred to the wrong extension, and then being transferred again and cut off, I eventually spoke to someone about my incorrect bill. The experience took up the entire afternoon. By the end of it, the words competence and friendliness were not foremost in my mind.

Okay, you say, but private companies have dodgy IT systems too. Indeed. I had a problem with the John Lewis mail-order website a few months ago. Their address database was incomplete and a package went astray. However, when I reported the mistake to the John Lewis store, a very helpful member of staff apologised profusely and promptly sent a replacement to the correct address. More to the point, the bug in their website had been fixed within a week. Out of morbid curiosity I checked the Council’s phone menu recently and the same glitch is still there, still leaving callers in limbo, almost two years later.

Steve

David,

"fairness from above"

Fantastic stuff. When's that book of yours going to be available?

David

Steve,

Later this year, all being well.

WTP

I think the general observation is that most I talk to see lots of waste that could easily be dealt with, except in the fields they themselves belong to. There, great gains could be had if only a little more resources were made available.

FWIS, that was NASA in a nutshell. A project with a considerable number of conservative Republicans sitting on their buts all night doing nothing productive but complaining about the welfare state.

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