Children's Books: Key Economics Messages
22nd December 2010
Inspired by the fine Five Books series partnered by the Browser, I have turned my own hand over at Business & Politics to analysing five classic children's books which teach vital messages of economics.
Such as Billy Bunter:
It all ends badly for Bunter, of course, with a drastic caning which leaves the dolorous Fat Owl reluctant to use his ventriloquist powers ever again. Yarooh!
Key economics messages? Don’t over-consume: use resources sparingly. Look out for negative externalities, ie inadvertently creating costs for other people through your own actions. Be honest — do not steal others’ tuck. If you’re selling things by telephone or Internet ordering, have in place robust precautions to be sure that the person making the purchase is duly authorised to do so.
And Little Hippo:
In this story in our version from 20 years ago Little Hippo keeps asking Daddy to play with him, only to be fobbed off with various highly realistic Daddy-like excuses (ie Daddy is reading the newspaper, polishing the car or ‘ working’). In the end they sit down together to snuggle up and read a book.
Key economics messages? Take good care of expensive capital assets such as vehicles. Balance your time sensibly between work and family. Look out for the opportunity cost of being too focused on what you are doing. Don’t take no for an answer.
Ignore the revolting picture which heads the essay. Nothing to do with me.
Tony Blair: Emotion In Politics
5th September 2010
Here is my latest piece at Business and Politics about Tony Blair's visit to Bosnia in 1997.
Scoop! Some never-before revealed detail!
Oh, and some thoughts on Emotion in Politics...
BBC: Through The Microscope, Darkly
31st August 2010
Over at Business and Politics I peer at the BBC through a powerful microscope.
Droll opening paragraph, or at least I thought so.
3rd August 2010
Over at Business and Politics is my latest piece, on the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
It looks in a roundabout way at issues of information flow, risk management and 'corporate culture':
Perhaps our hard-pressed rig operator makes the mistake of fact, misinterpreting the information being pushed to him by all the safety systems. Maybe he makes a mistake of judgement: he reads and analyses all information intelligently, but decides to take a decision which makes everything far worse.
In either case it is possible that the decision taken would not lead to disaster, had it not been for an underground factor previously undiscovered or not identified as likely to cause extra risk. In other words, the operator was doing his best at the very frontier of scientific knowledge, but that frontier itself was just not good enough.
Of such tiny subtleties are vast calamities made. Lawyers can not wait to get their hands on these problems in any subsequent enquiry or lawsuit. Anyone facing extended cross-examination by a wily barrister over split-second judgement calls is likely to end up sounding, looking and feeling confused or foolish...
WORLD SCOOP! That BP/HMG Libya Transcript - In Full
23rd July 2010
Be shocked, as the Truth is revealed.
Rowan Williams: Propheteering At Everyone Else's Expense?
21st July 2010
Christian faith centres on giving up the claim to be yourself at everyone else’s expense...
What a tendentious and generally problematic pronouncement.
“Love your neighbour as yourself"
Yes. But what does it mean to love yourself?
As Ayn Rand famously put it, "To say 'I love you,' one must know first how to say the 'I.'"
Hence this about love:
It is the view that you ought to be given love unconditionally -- the view that you do not deserve it any more than some random bum, the view that it is not a response to anything particular in you, the view that it is causeless -- which exemplifies the most ignoble conception of this sublime experience.
Such fascinating thoughts about the most basic spiritual and existential human principles arise because our old friend the Archbishop of Canterbury is back in the media:
He is a wily if not profound thinker, so his errors are no less profound and instructive...
Honey - I Shrunk Free Speech!
17th July 2010
I bewail the creepy drift in our political culture from Reason to Emotion, from Objective to Subjective - over at Business and Politics
The Diplomacy Of Business
13th July 2010
Over at Business and Politics I brood on the dismal sniggering by UK business people when the Prime Minister informed them that he had summoned the UK's Ambassadors back to London - and made them all fly economy class.
Inappropriate. If you publicly sneer at your own team, won't everyone else do the same?
More important, it's counter-productive in the Prime Minister's own terms. He says wants the UK's Ambassadors to support British business. How does he think that in fact they can do just that?
Why does this sort of thing make me, a libertarian-minded conservative, feel queasy?
Partly it’s the hint of the faux-egalitarian blokeiness which characterises our tragic age, a sense that high-end behaviour and practices are less worthy than the lowest common denominator ‘solidarity’ of everyone having a pint in the pub.
That, you recall, was something New Labour cultivated ad and indeed ultra nauseam. In January this year it got David Miliband into trouble in India, when he annoyed the Indian Foreign Minister by calling him by his first name, a move at once naively patronising and culturally insensitive. So much for all those FCO diversity targets.
Whereas the media have focused yet again on the lame issue of Ambassadorial residences overseas, no-one has mentioned the sniggering feebleness of the business people whom the PM addressed.
According to the Indy they laughed when Mr Cameron said that all the Ambassadors had been ‘made to travel economy class’ to join the London meeting. Huh?
Why did no-one have the guts to call out something like this:
“Excuse me, Prime Minister, but we are hoping to win a huge contract in Nigeria. You got it 100% wrong.
Having our Ambassador in Tokyo sweating in economy class rather than talking for hours to the Nigerian Finance Minister who was in Club on the same flight sends the Nigerians all the wrong signals as to how his views are valued in London.
And, much worse, it misses a terrific chance to lobby quietly for this deal and many others on that long and boring flight!”
Shame on you, business-people. You deserve what you'll get.
New Mortgage Haggles
2nd July 2010
I hope to be back to normal again soon, as I have been preoccupied this week trying (a) to earn money, and (b) to sort out our proposed house sale as we move from lofty palatial Ambassadorial Crawford Towers to something more, hem affordable and compatible with our post-Ambassadorial much reduced lifestyle.
And it's quite hard work.
Business v Politics: What President Obama Could Have Said On That Oil Leak
31st May 2010
And another Business and Politics piece, suggesting that in the face of a serious problem with no ready solution, the right tone is always to be measured and constructive.
And not to seek to find Someone to Blame.
Hence some handy tips for President Obama's speechwriters.
Greece's Health Funding Angst
31st May 2010
Some thoughts from me over at Business and Politics on the new health problems in Greece as the government there cuts prices for essential medical supplies - quickly condemned by a Greek reader as a patronising diatribe on free market economics.
To which I have politely replied. With added panties.
Taxing The Rich = Taking Money From The Not-rich?
15th May 2010
At what point does 'anecdotal' evidence of the results of any given policy start to look like reality?
He had made the point that if he was some £800 per month worse off because of Labour’s 50% tax band, he would have to cut some current personal ‘discretionary’ expenditure to make up the difference. School fees and household bills were non-discretionary.
So his cuts would fall in part on other people (home help, gardeners, craftsmen) whose work for him could be scaled back or even got rid of altogether.
In short, the government would be taking much of that extra tax not from the upper-class rich but from the lower-class working not-rich.
The Conservative (who should have known better but seemed not to) blandly had said that that sort of argument was ‘anecdotal’.
“Yes, but thousands of people out there will give you similar anecdotes.”
Inconceivable - Labour Loots The Unconceived
14th May 2010
Over at Business and Politics:
Driving back home yesterday I almost crashed the car, so overwhelmed I was by a blast of noxious fumes verily of Icelandic proportions erupting from the radio.
A senior TUC person was intoning that it would be wrong for the new government to make deep cuts in public spending, as that would “take money out of the economy” and make things worse.
Which was worse? The epistemological confusion behind this pronouncement? Or the fact that the BBC interviewer let this sentence pass away into the mournful ether, unchallenged and unhumiliated?
Folks, it’s like this.
Any sort of government action – because it is uniquely based on the threat of force, not reasoned persuasion – diminishes society’s total available quantity of energy, creativity and risk-assessment. Take it to an extreme and you get Cuba and North Korea, places impoverished because private initiative has been reduced to pitiful levels.
Labour has propelled us in that direction, massively diverting money from private initiative into public non-initiative.
Labour knew that the public would not foot the bill. So it looted the most vulnerable people in any society – people not yet born...
Europe's Dissolving 'Solidarity'
5th May 2010
My thoughts on that subject are over at Business and Politics:
As we can see in the current case, Angela Merkel is grappling with the primitive logic of phony EU solidarity. She is trying to establish the proposition that in return for enjoying the benefits of German discipline in the Eurozone, other EU countries too must show something like that discipline.
If they can’t, well, they’ll just have to get poorer. A point she is communicating in plain language. And getting a disagreeable if not rude message back from central Europe – “Don’t try to stop our subsidies, or we’ll flood you with migrants!”
What we are seeing is a sandcastle dissolving as waves of reality splash up against it.
The European project and above all its Social Model – the idea that states can draw down Europe’s historic capital and simultaneously write blank cheques on the future to subsidise mass fecklessness today – is running out of road.
[Ooops - some mixed metaphors in there. Can a sandcastle run out of road?]
Which is going to be painful but on the whole healthier. If all goes well, we’ll get a new, simpler form of European integration based on honest mutual national interest.
A Conservative government should have no problem playing a full and creative part in that.
Business And Politics (And Government)
1st May 2010
Another sober, measured, fair-minded analysis by me of the way Government has tried to emulate Business for two decades. And failed:
It all started back with Mrs Thatcher, who took the view that the Civil Service was full of stuffy, stodgy wets who needed to be a lot more businesslike. So, more businesslike we were supposed to become.
This created modish ideas for bringing in ‘targets’ and ‘objectives’. “If you don’t know why you have this procedure or what it is meant to achieve, why are you doing it?”
Slowly but surely in the ensuing 20 years that more or less sensible proposition mutated like a horrible growing slimy blob, until it engulfed and suffocated Ministries, then Whitehall, then finally the whole of the UK...
Over at Business and Politics.
Those of you who are paying attention will notice that B&P is getting a cleaner and meaner look, and steadily increasing substance.
More to come...
Labour's Football Fascism
30th March 2010
Here is a brisk piece I wrote over at Business and Politics, denouncing Labour schemes to loot football clubs to promote the 'mutualisation' of public services and the 'democratisation' of football club ownership.
This is so repulsive and insane an idea that one scarcely knows where to start.
OK, I'll start here.
A football club in the UK is private property.
It may prosper. It may go bust. That is the business of the people who own the club. No-one else.
Anything else is lumpen communism.
I'll end there.
Ayn Rand Visits Greek Islands
5th March 2010
Over at the latest Crawford Diplomatic Despatch:
It all boils down to a profound infantilisation of public life. Government has turned into feckless dim-witted parents who treat their children like spoiled brats. The children themselves duly morph into something neurotic, angry and sly.
To win the public’s loathsome brattish affections and get re-elected, the parents offer endless sweeties, only to be aghast when the brats start to think that this is how things must be – even when there is no more money for sweets, and their own teeth start to rot from all that sugar.
The door-bell rings. It’s the bailiff:
Nice islands you have over there. Pity you can’t afford them any more…
Politicians v Blokes In Pubs
16th February 2010
What's the difference between the way top leaders deal with other and the beery ruminations of blokes in pubs, banging on about the about the mischief and duplicity of foreigners?
Less than you might think!
Business And Politics: Crawford's Diplomatic Despatches
4th February 2010
Time to branch out.
Not least on the dynamic Business and Politics Blog, where my first (albeit somewhat laconic) Diplomatic Despatch has just been posted.
More to come...
Engage Charles Crawford as