Herewith economist Dr. Ronald Coase, interviewed in 2002 by Richard Epstein for the Liberty Fund’s “Intellectual Portrait” series. Dr. Coase sketches his background, and then discusses such topics as public utilities, in particular the water supply and the Post Office, how these came to be state-owned in Britain, and the reasoning that led to the state-owned BBC. Notes that the Educated Classes approved: for it was necessary to raise the tone of the culture of the lower classes. He explains that having started as a socialist, sheer observation persuaded him that free enterprise works better. He discusses the famous Lighthouse Example, and states that in the end, governments are necessary to determine (i.e. define) what will be the property rights, and to enforce them.
That sounds utterly filthy. Except, whilst not having one myself I do have a sweetie jar. Yes, I do. I keep sweeties in it and the gods help me! Some of those involve liquorice. I love the stuff. Saeed down the road is my dealer. My Gran got me onto the black stuff. I do appreciate that studies (yeah, I know) have shown that pregnancy cravings can pass down the maternal line. My Mum craved the black gold when pregnant with me. And that was in Zambia. I have no idea if that has any relevance to whatever vague point I am trying to make.
I would love a rummage in Nigella’s liquorice box. Possibly next Wednesday though I am flexible. Unlike that ineffably hard, utterly black Spanish liquorice that Saaed doesn’t usually stock. He normally has liquorice pipes (with the twinkles on the end) which are probs illegal because they encourage smoking. Seeing as I generally buy fags at that shop – and a Coke as well, whatever…
But who wouldn’t want a liquorice box. I would. Wouldn’t you?
Last night, the BBC (yes, them) showed a fascinating documentary (iPlayer link; it’ll only work for people it thinks are in the UK, and even then it’ll time out after a week or so… so much for the WWW) about Gordon Welchman, one of Alan Turing’s colleages at Bletchley Park, who many consider at least Turing’s equal in the development of computerized cryptanalysis.
One of his greatest insights was to realise that traffic analysis – figuring out who’s talking to whom, and how often – is just as useful as decrypting what they’re actually saying. In WWII, this led, very early on, before the “Ultra” decrypts were readily available, to Bletchley having a complete picture of the German chain of command and the positioning of its units around Europe. Similarly, they were able to deduce, without actually reading the messages, if, for example, a major offensive was in the offing just by the volume of radio traffic and where it was going.
It’s not hard to see the effects of this work today. The metadata analysis conducted by the NSA and GCHQ (and, no doubt, other agencies around the world that we don’t know about) is basically the same thing: before you even begin trying to read what people are saying, you can prioritize by noting who’s talking to whom. The Beeb was not slow to make the connection.
But it cuts both ways. It’s not just governments who can play that game.
Dick Puddlecote notes that an FOI request asking for email correspondence between the government’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies and anti-tobacconicotine extremist Martin McKee has been denied. However, the grounds for the denial are… interesting. It turns out that there has been so much correspondence between the two – 3000 “records” over a period of 19 months – that the process of clearing them for release would run afoul of the cost limits set out in the Act. Which somebody, somewhere (hello, Sir Humphrey), no doubt thinks is terribly clever. That’ll teach us to stick our noses in where they’re not wanted.
But, per Welchman, the volume of traffic tells us something in itself. It is, in fact, all we need to know. McKee and the supposedly impartial technocrat Davies might as well get a room. It’s rather fun to see a government functionary hoist on her employer’s current favourite pétard.
Welchman went further. Working for the Americans after the War, he realised that if individual units could update their position and status constantly to a central “pool” which could be dipped into at any time by anyone who needed to see it – a method made possible by the computers he and Turing pioneered – and commands from the top were circulated in a similar fashion, the direct link would be broken and traffic analysis rendered useless. Interestingly, one of the responses to the NSA revelations has been to build a messaging system around the blockchain method developed for Bitcoin. It works in much the same way: everyone gets the same blockchain but only the intended recipient can decrypt his part of it, so the direct link between him and the sender is severed.
Some will find Lord Hall’s admission that there is no long-term future for the UK’s antiquated “Telly Tax” a refreshing volte-face from the BBC Chief, but the reality is that he needs to protect BBC revenues as well as addressing growing criticism of how TV Licensing operates, specifically:
The regressive nature of the TV License which, at an annual cost of £145.50 ($230 USD, $300 AUD) disproportionately affects the poor as it relates to households rather than income.
For non-compliant households (both scoff-laws and “TV Refuseniks” who genuinely don’t require a license), sending out threatening letters and visits by Capita goons generates endless bad PR.
Those jailed for non-payment of court imposed fines for TV License evasion are primarily poor women (a staggering 73% of all TV License related convictions)
So it is for these reasons, as well as a desire to silence those proposing a mixed public-service/subscription only model, that Lord Hall is suddenly open and honest about the need for change. In fact I suspect that “revenue neutrality” will be the foundation stone, but that will be revenue neutral from the BBC’s perspective – not the “hard-working families” who have to pay for the BBC’s largess.
The model that Lord Hall is proposing is a “Household Tax” and he is suggesting that it be simply added as a line item on Council Tax bills across the nation. Councils would then remit the money to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – which then sends the bulk of that money directly to the BBC (less some smaller scale payments to other media companies for their public service commitments)
On the face of it, since the “Telly Tax” is essentially a household tax anyway (save for those ½ million-or-so “TV Refuseniks”), so bundling it as a £145.50 line item within the Council Tax would mean:
All costs associated with TV License collection would be eliminated (about £100 million per annum) along with the bad PR associated with threatening letters, visiting Capita goons and those poor women jailed for non-payment of court imposed fines for TV License evasion.
Collection would revert to local councils, so any refusal to pay would be classified as Council Tax rather than TV License related evasion.
The ½ million or so “TV Refuseniks” would be forced to pay regardless as I suspect ”not watching TV as it is broadcast” would cease to be a valid reason to refuse payment. This is a growing problem for the BBC and would “Send the right message” (as in “Fuck you – pay me.”)
However, the one thing which this approach would not deal with (or at least not on the surface), is the accusation that “a fixed fee of £145.50 disproportionately affects the poor”. Here I expect that the provisions covering Council Tax Reduction (previously known as Council Tax Benefit), will be extended to include the TV License component.
So if those in receipt of a Council Tax Reduction are no longer actually paying the cost of their TV License then who will? If your answer to that particular rhetorical question was “Muggins ‘ere”, then I suspect you are correct.
Given a “Revenue Neutral” approach (from the BBC’s perspective), any shortfall would have to be made up from an increase in either general taxation (income tax, etc.) or Council Tax.
Given that the OECD classifies the TV License as “a hypothecated tax for the purpose of funding public broadcasting“, neither approach would increase the overall tax versus GDP (one of Chancellor George “Gideon” Osborne favourite metrics), but I expect the new legislation preventing increases in general taxation to be used to add it onto the Council Tax bill.
Thus those eponymous “hard working families” who actually pay their Council Tax bills in full will be paying a hidden and unknown element to cover those who can’t pay / won’t pay.
Now you can see why Lord “Marxist” Hall is in favour of a “Household Tax” as it has the potential to solve all his current problems…Except BBC profligacy and left-wing bias obviously.
“For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.”
However, he added: “This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear.”
As I may have mentioned previously, while I find some BBC content to be very good (mainly history and science not contaminated with Warble Gloaming), I find the vast majority of BBC output tainted by left-wing bias and in some areas propaganda. This is the consequences of having 1930′s style state broadcasting in the 21st century.
That having been said, the BBC’s Director General Tony Hall was quite right to sack an employee when said employee has been given numerous warnings about unacceptable behaviour and then launches a drunken, verbal and physical assault on another employee.
If you take their money, you also take their rules – don’t like it? you’re always free to quit.
Many have argued that Jeremy Clarkson is the core talent of Top Gear and brings in millions in global revenues to the BBC and all of that is true, but notwithstanding. If he had been a Sky presenter, Rupert Murdoch would have fired him too.
But this is where the public and private sector diverge, because Rupert Murdoch would have sacked Clarkson, using pretty much the same rationale as Hall or any decent CEO, but then licensed Top Gear to an independent production company while retaining editorial control. Net result, Top Gear would still be on TV, millions would still be happy and revenues would still be earned.
However, the BBC can’t easily do that and as a consequence the Top Gear brand and the massive global revenue that it brings in is threatened.
Time for the BBC to be broken down into its constituent components and the vast majority (probably news, politics and children programming excepted) privatized.
Sometimes I think that the world has gone completely insane, but when I read stories such as this, I know it has.
Some po faced leftie feminist harridan has written to the BBC to complain about one of its longest running and most popular radio comedy shows. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue has been running for over 40 years now, but this sad bitch has decided that the imaginary scorer Samantha, who has been a running joke throughout those 40 years is being treated as a sex object.
‘She considered that Samantha was only referred to as a sexual object and believed the male panellists used ‘schoolboy sexist so-called humour’, that was ‘both puerile and unfunny’.’
But what I find insane is that the BBC took any time whatsoever in investigating this miserablist drivel. Surely this should have been passed straight to the BBC’s Department of Sarcastic Replies….
Dear Ms Redacted,
Thank you for your letter of the 14th Inst. I have passed your letter on to our Head of Comedy and he has had a damn good laugh. He is sorry if you find I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue full of “schoolboy sexist so called humour” but we feel we must appeal to all demographics without bias or favour, and we find that sexist schoolboy humour has a very large following.
May I suggest some remedies that could alleviate your disgust and distress? Try tuning in to another station that may chime better with your sense of gravitas, or perhaps using our iPlayer facility to find comedy more suited to your taste, something featuring Alexi Sayle perhaps? Or ultimately you could use the off button on your radio.
I am refunding you your Licence Fee, in the hope that you may put it towards what I am sure will be a futile attempt to purchase a sense of humour.
But you just know that the sad Harpie will be back next week complaining that Mornington Crescent doesn’t make sense…
Rolf Harris was a massive part of my youth. It would appear now that he was a massive part of other kids youth too – and not in a good way. I mean I always thought Saville was a sleazy sod but Rolf! Rolf was Aussie gold.
I use to watch his show “Cartoon Club” as a kid and as 19 year-old he headlined the end of year party at Nottingham University. He was great. He got bigger cheers than Dannii Minogue who was the second on the list. I was right at the front and she certainly was “well fit” in the live. I guess she was maybe (even then) too old for Rolf’s tastes and Kylie would have clobbered him with a knotty prop – always struck even from her days in Neighbours as a feisty one our Kylie.
So I saw Rolf with his wobble board and doing Jake The Peg, painted an Outback scene and did a few songs and told a few jokes. The consummate light entertainer – especially after a few tinnies of Fosters – yes there was a reason the evening had an Australian theme.
I just don’t get it. If you are a successful, wealthy, entertainer you can actually get a consensual sexual relationship with an attractive adult. So why all this nasty, grubby stuff? Is it to quote Wilde, “Dining with Panthers” or is it just egomania or what?
Rolf, you let a generation down. You let me down. Now you are going down.
Jeremy Clarkson, the celebrated oaf, is in a bit of bother with those guardians of moral rectitude, the Daily Mirror:
The Mirror claims that the Top Gear presenter was reciting a rhyme while in front of cameras, during which he allegedly said, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…” before mumbling: “Catch a n****r by his toe”.
The bastard. Reciting childrens’ rhymes without the currently approved Bowdlerizations is it, now? The man’s a menace to society.
We used that rhyme all the time as kids, and didn’t even know what the word meant. It was just the thing you caught by the toe, and let go in the event of squealing. (I had a vague idea that it was a small furry animal something like like a badger, myself. Do badgers squeal? Never mind.) Guess I’ll never work for the BBC, then (yeah, that’ll keep me awake at night):
Lawyer Lawrence Davies told reporters: “Clarkson has to be sacked, no matter how much money he makes for the BBC. Use of that word is not acceptable.”
Oh, obviously. Totally proportionate response. I mean, he might say “fuck” or “cunt” next. Or is that allowed now? Anyway, he’s clearly an irredeemable hatey xenophobe racist hatemonger. If he isn’t stopped now, before you know it he’ll be mowing down crowds of black people in a McLaren P1 with the Confederate flag painted on its roof on live TV, while laughing maniacally. Stands to reason.
The Mirror says that it hired a firm of audio forensic experts to analyse the clip. They confirmed that the n-word was indeed used by Clarkson.
An investigator working for CY4OR…
…blah, blah, blah. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to pay your TV licence or the BBC will send the lads round.
I don’t know. Clarkson may be the BBC’s token “right-winger”, but he’s still an arse; the Mirror’s just the Sun without the tits (and it wasn’t Murdoch who nicked his employees’ pensions then took a header of his yacht when the net began to close in), and the BBC’s a protection racket disguised as a TV company. Sometimes I wish they’d just all go away and leave us in peace.
There has been some crazy news out of everyone’s favourite totalitarian heckhole recently.
First I heard this nugget…
Doctor Who, Top Gear and Teletubbies have apparently passed the suitability test to be shown on North Korea’s tightly-controlled state TV.
After months of negotiation with the BBC, the three shows have been deemed worthy of consideration for broadcasting in the totalitarian state.
The country’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television, is only on air for six-and-a-half hours every day.
Odd choices. Skipping over the tubbies the sight of that Bellendius Maximus Clarkson whizzing around in a Bugatti is almost torture to the poor buggers up there who feel lucky to get a puncture repair kit for their bike. And the Doctor is a rather anti-authority figure which probably wouldn’t fit with the rest of KCT’s output… Although I guesss the Cybermen might go down well with the Kimocracy.
At least a third of the output is spent praising the government of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, while another third extols workers to toil harder for the good of the country.
And I thought endless repeats of “Last of the Summer Wine” was soul-crushing.
The weekly television highlight is ‘It’s So Funny’, a long-running comedy show in which two uniformed soldiers perform slapstick sketches in between propaganda lectures about the greatness of North Korea.
Now that’s what I call entertainment! That’s better than Cannon & Ball that is and they were fucking terrible beyond my comprehension. Here’s a modest proposal. We parachute Piers Morgan into the Pyongyang. He’s without a berth and it is a win-win if you ask me. I feel so sorry for the North Koreans.
Likewise, there is no fundamental difference between the way in which North and South Koreans look [The entire peninsula is very ethnically homogeneous in the World and this is an ancient civilization - Nick]. Having said that, however, 60-plus years is not a short amount of time, and the two Koreas did live through two very different worlds. South Koreans now live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries, North Koreans one of the poorest. In particular, the crushing famine that North Korea suffered in the mid-1990s has left a visible impact on North Korean people’s physique. While the average height of adult South Korean men is 171.5 cm (~5′ 7.5″), the average height of adult North Korean men is 165.4 cm (~5′ 5″). Because North Korean youths have become so malnourished, North Korea had to lower the minimum height requirement for its soldiers from 140 cm (~4′ 7″) to 137 cm (~4′ 6″) in 2010. (In contrast, South Korea recently had to extend the maximum height requirement from 196 cm (~6′ 5″) to 204 cm (~6′ 8″) for its conscripts.)
And that is not unrelated to the TV on my wall (Samsung) and the fact I have never bought a single item from North of the DMZ. I mean if they can’t get enough food they ain’t going to break the mould in tech are they? (More on that later). But this isn’t even the end-point of socialism as we understand it and as the socialist Eric Blair understood it. This is not Sweden with toothsome murder mysteries and beer you need a mortgage for. This is Hell run by an insane Satan. This is the prison state as envisaged by Vasily Grossman as the end of Stalinism.
But they have drones you know. Things that sound like they were built in a shed. I have spoken to hobbyists who can do better. At least it ain’t the grotesquely over-budget, under-performing and over-time F-35. I mean that camera… I have a better camera and I’m not on a defence budget here.
But before we simply regard the Kimocracy as risible buffoons it would be be wise to consider this. And also to consider that it is entirely possible to laugh and be revolted at the same time. They are profoundly risible but also profoundly evil. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I was saddened to hear that the actor Roger Lloyd-Pack died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.
Probably one of my favourite TV shows whilst growing up was “Only Fools and Horses” and Lloyd-Pack’s “Trigger” was an absolutely vital part of the ensemble that made that show so brilliant – and it was epically good at times rising to heights of utter genius. Of course he was in loads of other stuff like “Harry Potter” and “Dr Who” but for me he shall always be the bumbling Peckham street-cleaner. I think we forget too easily that whilst the show was centred on the antics of Del and Rodney the rest of them from Mike at the bar of the Nag’s Head to Denzil the scouse trucker, Grandad, Uncle Albert, Boycie, Marlene and all the rest of them really made the show and gave the central cast folks to spark off.
As I said, I grew up watching that and I still watch it. Trig is no longer in my memory but in the Sky (in every sense). He is the overhead one Dave or Watch or whatever. Perhaps the nearest to immortality we can get. His peerless deadpan shall not be forgotten as long as electromagnetism exists.
I don’t think I can embed this (it’s BBC) but just click…
I’ve just overheard a BBC trailer announcing an hour-long Reporting Scotland special on today’s publication of the “independence” manifesto white paper, which, they say, “covers everything from the economy to sports teams and TV programmes”. Reason enough to vote against the thing, I’d say.
And yeah, I’m posting this rather than watching it.
It is today. It is a fixed point in time and space and I shall be there – or at least in Stockport (the Manchester tickets had gone) – to see the 50th anniversary show live in 3D in the cinema. Cool. I shall not be alone. This is being shown live in 94 countries in 1500 cinemas live. This has never been done before. My wife recently bought the 50th anniversary edition of Dr Who Magazine. It has a copy of the 1964 first anniversary edition of the mag which includes a letter from a reader saying that the Who was the best programme (don’t we call ‘em “shows” now) on either channel. How times change!
I should have bought a fez for the night. Fez’s are cool. There is nothing more but this…
“You asked a question two days ago that I will now answer for you. You are quite right, Mademoiselle. You cannot libel the dead.” - Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile
Since ancient times, it has been seen as a symbolic but rather futile gesture to seek final retribution upon your enemies by digging up their rotten corpse and undertaking the ritual steps of execution albeit with rather less effect than usual as the offending enemy has already escaped and is now thumbing his nose from the safety of the Halls of Mandos or your own particular incarnation of Mozart’s “Confutatis maledictis, flammis acribus addictis…” (“When the accused are confounded, and doomed to flames of woe…”) (more…)
Counting Cats (CC) was taken to task by several other commenters for being too squeamish and perhaps even morally neutral about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys here. While I don't share CC's reaction to the video, I rejoice in his (her?) existence. What kind of a world would it be if people like CC didn't exist or if they had to hide their views? Who knows, we might all be living in something akin to Somalia.
CC's civilized response is precisely why our military is a force for good in the world.