There is a tendency to consider reactions to the recent riots in London and elsewhere as being either one thing or the other. They are either about condemning and punishing the perpetrators, or as “excusing them” by seeking to explain the reasons for the disturbances in terms of economic and social causes. This is a mistake – it is often appropriate to consider problems at different levels. The atomic structure of a metal is analysed using different techniques than an analysis of its properties in construction. Individuals involved in violence, property destruction and looting must be brought to justice and punished appropriately. Anything else would undermine a crucial plank in our society – our system of individual justice for individual actions. Continue reading Riots: Looking Deeper
Sharon Shoesmith is accountable for the cruel and tragic death of Peter Connelly. Government ministers are accountable for serious events that occur in their area of responsibility. But what do we mean by accountability? Does it mean that we expect those in ultimate charge to immediately take poison or be summarily executed when things go wrong, whatever they might or might not have done personally to prevent them? As far as Shoesmith is concerned that is exactly what many, including Ed Balls and Kevin Brennan MP writing on LabourList, appear to think. Continue reading Sharon Shoesmith and ‘Accountability’
The Institute that takes the name of Adam Smith (wholly in vain in my view) has been in the forefront of the expenditure cut propagandists. They have produced, in the guise of impartial analysis, two documents that start with their desired conclusions and proceed by the use of pseudo-logic and misdirection. The great Kirkcaldy moral philosopher and economist will be spinning in his grave if he has had the misfortune of posthumously reading these travesties.
Firstly, the Institute’s co-director, Dr Eamonn Butler has produced a document apparently rather cleverly called ‘Re-booting Government’. In fact, the correct computer analogy would be ‘Re-installing a cheap and cut-down operating system sold to you by a dodgy guy in the local computer repair shop’! It starts with an economic premise that is simply wrong: Continue reading Adam Smith and the Cuts