DIARY: Sherpa Brown, Annoyment, Conrad Black, NHS fat, Ted and the IMF, Bloggers’ earnings
Gordon Brown appeared on Andrew Marr’s programme this morning in a slightly new mode. He spoke in a slangy lowland Scots accent, replete with glottal stops and chummy vernacular. If this is his core-vote strategy, things must be much worse than we thought.
It may also serve the purpose of creating yet another dividing line between ordinary Gordon and the well-spoken Conservatives.
One aspect of his usual performance remained: his speak-by-numbers approach to answering questions. He often sounds as if he’s using a foreign-language phrase book, every clause and sentence lifted wholesale from the manual and awkwardly bolted together.
As a rough guess, I’d say there were at least a couple of dozen downright lies in the half-hour interview. Claim after questionable claim spewed out of his mocking, pudding-like face. He no longer cares that everyone believes he’s a liar — he’s known it for years.
Overall, he confirmed his place in the political ecosystem: as a lowly technical details man.
In the run-up to last year’s London G20 summit, he slipped into tech-mode during Prime Minister’s Questions, no doubt to confuse David Cameron. He listed various protocols and formulations of the kind used by the army of international “sherpas” to prepare the ground for their masters. It was a “neo-classical endogenous growth theory” moment.
Sherpas are second-tier civil servants specializing in some branch of governmental procedure. They are confined to the back-rooms so as not to steal the thunder of the bigwig politicians who arrive at summits just to wrap up the package for public consumption.
Gordon Brown is a sherpa and nothing more. He has been promoted several notches above his level of competence. It shows. It always has.
As so often happens in British politics now, few spoke up until he had blunderingly wrecked the country.
And the agony goes on until late spring.
Annoyment of the Week
A Gordon Brown Free Zone
After our glorious “barbecue summer”, we are now one-third of the way through our “mild winter”, and entering “one of the warmest years on record”. At least according to the once-admired UK Met Office.
Are there no fine British institutions left that the Labour government has not destroyed? By forcing every decision into an ideological straitjacket, they have perverted the functioning of whole tiers of our national life.
Politics exists for “the resolution of conflict”, not for micromanaging voters’ behaviour. “Progressive” means dumbed-down Marxist equality by stealth or decree. Harriet Harman is its poster image.
When David Cameron says the Conservatives are a progressive party he should be aware he’s leading it down the road to perdition.
Another marketing ploy? Well, those who will not vote Tory don’t know what it means, while those that will are thoroughly sick of the word and its malign effect on their lives.
Do drop it, Dave.
Conrad Black, writing in The Spectator from a prison cell in Coleman, Florida, has this commentary on the financial and economic crises:
“The Americans borrowed trillions of dollars from China and Japan, to buy trillions of dollars of non-essential goods from China and Japan while officially requiring trillions more to be squandered in worthless mortgages. With the exception of a couple of obscure contrarian economists, no one saw it coming.”
Quite! Give that man a key.
The NHS has had its budget trebled in 10 years. As a result, more people have declared themselves sick, with no discernible increase in outcomes.
In fact, the NHS is a very sick institution itself. Anyone passing through its portals is in real danger of picking up a virulent disease, or dying of neglect or avoidable error.
Money has not cured the NHS of its death spiral for the simple reason that the elements at fault within it have multiplied several-fold thanks to the massive input of extra funding. The people running it believe in the very things that are killing it. They are blind to its potential strengths. More money is choking and squeezing its effectiveness.
On the fringes, government agencies run expensive ads telling people to go to their GP for minor complaints — just in case. Aren’t GP’s surgeries crowded enough with coughers and snifflers? As a means of spreading disease, they are ideal incubators.
Other “public-service” ads spread fear and trembling about a raft of serious conditions. The current one showing a woman having a stroke, with a burning hole in her head, is offensive and beyond negativity. My mother died of a series of strokes, as have many others, so this intrusion into our consciousness is cruel and unnecessary.
We know these ads are there just to burnish the reputation of ministers: “Look what we are doing for you!”. However, they almost certainly have the opposite effect. It’s known that folk who concentrate on an illness out of fear or expectation of getting it, are more likely to succumb than others who believe they are healthy.
The NHS is now in the business of creating illness, not ameliorating it. It’s become a fat, dirty, disease factory.
With spending cuts the order of the day, the NHS has more fat on its bones than is good for it. It should not be “protected” but slimmed down into a much more effective organization. Split up and offering a basic, no-frills service, it would have a chance of being really useful rather than a pain in the nation’s neck and a burden on its pocket.
The genuine cuttable fat in government lies in schools and hospitals and the quangos that circle them like vultures. If we spare them the knife, they will never regain health and competence.
And another government will have failed the country, the genuinely sick, and under-educated.
Edward Heath, it’s reported, almost went to the IMF for a loan in 1974, beating Labour’s Denis Healey to the thought by two years. The socialists have borne the approbrium of that humiliating act ever since.
Not surprisingly, Healey is crowing and telling the Tories to shut up about his involvement. While he’s at it, he could call on Brown and Balls to button it over a wide range of issues dishonestly megaphoned.
Heath ran a bizarre economic policy that swung from prudent to reckless in a couple of years — ring any bells? The result over the 1970s is what you get when the two main parties have the same economic policies.
If you can’t tell the difference between them, they’ll wreck the country in precisely the same way.
A bit more from Jason Calacanis, writing in Syntagma during 2006. This is mainly about bloggers’ pay:
Bloggers can do 2-4 posts an hour from what I’ve learned. If someone is an expert on the subject they can do more in fact.
So, if the number is $4/5 a post and folks do three posts an hour on average, you’re looking at $12-15 an hour. That’s $480 to $600 a week for a 40 hour week which is $25/30k a year. For part time work from home $12-15 an hour isn’t so bad, especially if you’re writing about something you love (most of our bloggers were writing their blogs for free before they joined WIN [Weblogs Inc]).
Now, our bloggers are making much more money than this right now, but we started in that same range.
The problem is that the journalists writing about blogging are established and living in NYC/SF/LA and making $50-80k a year. For them the idea of starting over again at $30k a year is horrible and bloggers are being taken advantage of. However, when I was running Silicon Alley Reporter people started at Conde Nast at $25-30k!
You don’t hear the bloggers complaining because for them they are getting paid to write about their hobby–their passion.
Getting paid to write about the movies if you’re a movie fan with a day job is amazing… getting paid to write about movies if you’re A.O. Scott at the NYT is what you expect.
I wonder how many bloggers are making even that kind of money at the start of 2010.
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