Left Outside

Linky Love for the weekend

  • Dr Petra Boynton has the A-Z of sex in the noughties. A-G is here, H-O is here and P-Z is here. Highly recommended (H/T Jack of Kent)
  • Ewan Hoyle calls for drugs to be decriminalised, and one day legalised. (H/T Mark Reckons)
  • Political Scrapbook show us what a no-frills council looks like.
  • Next Left wonders if big government looks so clever in the winter.
  • Tim Worstall tries to workout how much booze is worth.
  • Paul Krugman explains either, why Governments sometimes need to be invasive, or why sometimes it is preferable for Governments to be invasive.
  • SWP Notes is just starting out and will host content about the latest developments inside the SWP, as well as discussion of its history and its international links.
  • Beau Bo D’Or treats us to one final Cameron poster, and in my view its the best. Visit his blog for an explanation if you are young, or deeply deeply uncultured in the ways of The Two Ronnies (click to enlarge).

…and now so something completely different.

Filed under: Blogging

The Miserablism of Dan Hannan: Updated

I’m sure I’ve caught Sunny Hundal’s allergy to Dan Hannan, but his post on our snowy situation has really got my back up.

When the snow came to our part of the world yesterday, Mrs H sent me out with a shovel and brush to clear the pavement outside our house. Feeling public-spirited, I extended the strip of bare concrete slabs to the neighbours on either side.

While I was sweating over the broom, a thought occurred: if everyone were responsible for his own patch of pavement, the disruption caused by snow would be much diminished. Is our reliance on state intervention symptomatic of the sapping effects of big government?

Perhaps it because I’ve also always shared Giles Wilkes distaste for Miserabilists (Those crotchety old bastards, who assume everything used to be better in their day, well thank you very much but my day has lolcats, so there).

Anyway, it seems that Dan Hannan is seeking to promote the view that our “reliance” on the state – exemplified by our disinclination to clean our front gardens and our roads of snow – illustrates the “sapping effects of big government.”

Without getting into debates on how the Government actually affects our lives and how big it is, I think this entire article is built on a misrepresentation of what is going on.

First of all the idea that our behaviour would be radically different if we were not reliant on the sapping effect of big government overlooks many far more simple arguments. Why would people not clean up the front of their houses or their roads?

  • There is a general lack of snow shovels and grit.
  • There is an impending dusting of snow that night and probably more snow due Sunday.
  • Its was a snow day, this generally means a day of leisure. People value that.

But ultimately something else riles me about his picture of the “sapping effects of big government.”

People aren’t dependent kidults, if the snow has brought out one side of human nature above any other it is the sharing side. The side that approaches hitherto unspoken to neighbours to offer a garden spade or to push a snow ensconced car.

As occasionally misanthrope Anton Vowl tweeted earlier “Got stuck in snow earlier in my rubbish car. Man came out of his house with shovel, dug car out, gave me a push. People are nice really.”

Of course another way to look at this is as a demand to privatise not just the roads, but the footpaths too. As Sunder Katawala aptly put it, to draw attention to this post:

Rather confusingly, Hannan seems to want a centralised Big Government edict to enforce the social responsibility he wants to see

Indeed, as far as I can see such a process couldn’t work with some rather illiberal enforement. So often, it comes down to how someone wants the state to intervene, not whether they value large scale interventions or not.

What is important is that when the state intervenes it does so with a fair and just mandate, maintaining our roads seems to fit the bill pretty well.

+++

Dan Hannan thinks I’ve taken on a somewhat vituperative tone. For those who are undecided if my displeasure is justified I would like to recommend Neil Robertson‘s post on the lovely British people in the snow.

The news that Dan reports that it’s against Health and Safety rules for some people to clear their snow is obviously disheartening. And does somewhat pooh pooh my previous derision.

But I wouldn’t call this a victory for Dan Hannan just yet, as I’ve said in the comments below, people have been clearing their own space regardless. And as Neil reports people have been acting as though this poorly drafted legislation doesn’t exist.

The existence of these Health and Safety guidelines doesn’t necessitate them having a large effect, as although the paths haven’t been cleared there appears little other evidence that the big state is the reason for this.

+++

I apologise for referring to legislation in the above, Tim Worstall, more adept in legalese than myself, informs us that this is not “Health and Safety” gone mad, but part of our Common Law heritage.

Simply put, snow and ice are natural things, no one’s fault. But if you attempt to clear and don’t get it right then people might assume that it’s clear and then if and when they injure themselves you’re responsible. ‘Coz you didn’t clear it properly.

Yes, sure, you could pass a law changing this. But the Common Law is built on interlocking reasoning: who in hell knows what else you would change by changing just this little bit? As with Tony Blair doing away with the office of Lord Chancellor, it’s not as simple as just changing one little bit of the system.

Intriguing, and something which I hope Dan Hannan ruminates on as I will.

+++

Rumination over, here’s something from Guardian article which mentions ice clearing (H/T Anton Vowl):

4. I’ve cleared the snow from our driveway. Am I opening myself up to a claim if someone slips?

This is an urban myth. If you do the reasonable thing and clear your drive, you are not opening yourself up to a possible claim, except in very exceptional circumstances.

“This is a common misconception,” McQuater says. “By clearing the snow from your paths, you do not invite any extra liability that wouldn’t have existed had you done nothing and left the snow on the ground. The only circumstance in which you might invite a claim was if you acted completely unreasonably, and somehow created a new latent hazard that had not existed before your actions.”

It seems that quite reasonably if you do a shitty job clearing up snow then you are liable for your shitty job. Eminently sensible in my view.

Filed under: Politics, Society

When NGDP is Depressed, Employment is Depressed

Subscribe to Left Outside

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 8,368 other followers

RSS Lenin’s Tomb

RSS D Squared Digest

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Stumbling and Mumbling

RSS Britmouse

RSS IOZ

RSS Phil Dickens

RSS Paul Sagar

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Hopi Sen

RSS Owen

RSS Norm Geras

RSS Flying Rodent

RSS Steven Baxter

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Jack of Kent

RSS Suggy’s Blog

RSS Adam Smith Institute

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Alex Massie

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS A Very British Dude

RSS Thomas Byrne

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Heresiarch’s Dungeon

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Paul Krugman

RSS David Beckworth

RSS Lars Christiensen

RSS Kantoos Economics

RSS Duncan Black

RSS Modeled Behavior

RSS Noahpinion

RSS Knowing and Making

RSS Ta-Nehisi Coates

RSS Will Wilkinson

  • Free Will Is Back
  • Are Conditional Transfers Paternalistic?

RSS Warren Mosler

RSS Acemoglu and Robinson

RSS Andy Harless

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Mark Thoma

RSS Overcoming Bias

RSS Macroeconomic Advisors

Increase NGDP, Put These People Back to Work

Follow me on twitter

Archives

Politics Blogs

Testimonials

Paul Sagar

Left Outside is always worth a read for passionate, and frequently irreverent, analysis and comment.

Sunny Hundal

Oi! Enough of the cheek!

Chris Dillow

Left Outside is, I think, entirely wrong

John Band

This might be the least well informed piece I’ve read on LC, which is quite an accolade.

DEC Appeal

License

Creative Commons License
Left Outside by Left Outside is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at leftoutside.wordpress.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://wp.me/PvyGQ-gt.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,368 other followers