Left Outside

Heaven is Whenever

Crosspost from Neil Robertson of the Bleeding Heart Show

There’s a new song I’ve been obsessing over recently. It’s going to be on the new Hold Steady album, ‘Heaven is Whenever’, and includes a quite brilliant line:

Utopia’s a band - they sang that ‘Love is the Answer’,

And I think they’re probably right.

Whilst it first seems like singer Craig Finn is dismissing the idea of Utopia by referring only to a defunct & obscure band, what he really means is that we can briefly reach that longed-for state of happiness through the music in our lives. As he concludes in the chorus:

“Heaven is whenever we can get together,

Sit down on your floor and listen to your records”.

Its a line which should also have relevance for political bloggers. We are in the midst of an election campaign which would try the patience of a saint. Though blogging is necessarily combative, we would do well to remember that one of its joys is the space it creates to interact with opposing points of view. In the ongoing campaign for our own utopias – our own visions how Britain can be made better – we should not lose sight of this, nor forget that behind the psedonyms & avatars are real people.

So how do we preserve, and even build upon, the fledgling community that this election campaign threatens to coarsen? I have one idea.

heaven co1py

(Both the name and the website can change if anyone has a better idea.)

We create a space where everyone – regardless of party or ideology – can write about the music they enjoy; our favourite albums, overlooked artists, most memorable gigs or cherished social experiences. We write not as esteemed political bloggers with our gripes and demands and agendas, but as music fans.

For this to work, there should be but three rules:

  • You should be a political blogger.
  • You should write about any aspect or genre of music.
  • Your writing should not be party-political.

Here’s the catch: I can’t do this on my own. As you might’ve noticed, work constraints mean that I’m not currently able to keep my own blog ticking over as much as I’d like, so running two is an impossibility. I’ve already had some kind offers of contribution and admin, and I would be happy to receive more. I would also be delighted if those of you who believe in the concept could promote it within your own blogging communities – the experience will only be richer for having a multitude of voices. Naturally, all contributors would have a link back to their own political blogs, and a spot on the blogroll.

If you would like to contribute, or have any ideas/suggestions, do feel free to leave a comment either here or with LeftOutside, or leave an email at bleedingheartblog at gmail dot com.

In closing, I’d say that one of the joys of music for me is the social experiences it can provide. If we could replicate some of those opportunities for interaction in the British blogosphere – even if only for a short period of time – I think we’d all benefit.

*********

I would like to add that Heaven is Whenever is an excellent name for this project and that I am available to contact at leftoutsideblog[@]googlemail[.]com if you have any queries or would like to contribute.

Please do post about it on your blog and get people involved, the more the merrier and the large the likelihood of all of us discovery new and great music.

Filed under: Blogging

New Musical Blogging Express

Everybody knows that the blogosphere can be a little cruel. Everybody also knows that the NME is rubbish, even if you still read it occasionally and aren’t proud of it.

Want to kill two birds with one stone?

Neil Robertson had the idea that we set up a website for political bloggers from all different parties to write about the music they like.

The result of this is that we all find fantastic new music, all get to know each other a little better and we smooth the edges of what can be needlessly partisan and sniping blogosphere.

A more full outlining from Neil’s pen will be cross posted here soon and we can get underway.

Pretty much any one in politics right of Pol Pot and left of Nick Griffin are welcome to join as we really want this to be none partisan.

Consider yourself tagged. Interested in doing a little moonlighting as a music journalist?

Obviously this list isn’t non-partisan because it is made up of people I’d be interested in reading who I read, so its got a slight red tinge to it.

Leave a message in the comments if you’re interested in contributing once we get something up and running. The more contributors we have the better this will be.

Oh and we need a good name, any suggestions?

Filed under: Blogging

Sentences which make no sense

The [Conservative] modernisers’ link to Middle Britain is Mr Coulson, the party’s £270,000-a-year media chief.

If the Tories are wondering why their lead has slipped to 2 points then it might be because they think someone on £270,000 a year can help them understand that mythical Middle Britain.

I’m not sure if this makes the Tories or FT more out of touch. Probably a no score draw.

Filed under: Politics

10,000 times as bad?

@AlexMassie has written a short and what should be not particularly provocative most entitled Huge Earthquake in Chile, Not Many Dead.

Perhaps it is because the carnage that is Haiti is so fresh in my mind but I guess it cannot just be him and I who will feel a little underwhelmed. Actually that is perhaps the wrong word, relieved is probably more apt.

Angry is another word which I could use.

The quake which hit Haiti had a magnitude of 7. Chile has just been hit with a quake with a magnitude of 8.8. Given that this is a logarithmic scale this means that Chile was hit with a quake nearly 100 times more powerful than that which struck Haiti.

The initial death toll for Haiti hovered around 50,000 but has leapt as bodies and destruction has been uncovered The New York Times reports that the cost could be between $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion, based on a death toll from 200,000 to 250,000.

MapThe initial reporting from Chile states that 82 people have died. This number is bound to increase but is far lower than even the preliminary outlines that we heard from Haiti on the 12th January.

Geography has certainly played an important role  in why Chile has suffered less than Haiti.

Haiti was struck by an earthquake 25 km from its vast and sprawling capital whereas Chile’s quake has struck further away from major population centres.

But poverty and corruption meant that any disaster which struck Haiti would have an impact out of proportion to what we would expect anywhere else.

“Earthquakes don’t kill people,” says John Mutter, a seismologist and disaster expert at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Bad buildings kill them.”

So because of these factors an earthquake 100 times more powerful  will only kill a 100th as many people.

Filed under: Economics, Foreign Affairs

Another good post on migration

From the Socialist Worker, who are largely on the money with things people from across the political divide I can agree with. Read it here. Excerpt here:

Working people need unity to fight the attacks now, the avalanche of cuts after the election, and hundreds of thousands more job losses.

If our rulers can get us to think that immigrants are the problem, then they will escape with their wealth and power intact.

It is true that there is a lack of affordable housing in Britain. Young people do have far too few opportunities. But it’s not the fault of immigrants.

The NHS is always stretched and sometimes grossly inadequate. And working people are insecure about their jobs, get too little money and have to work far too hard for the pittance they get.

But it’s not the fault of immigrants.

A united working class has the power to save jobs, win decent pay and conditions, and defend public services.

That means rejecting the lies about immigration and the racism and hatred of Muslims which so many politicians and newspapers are now peddling. We shouldn’t let them divide and rule us. We should hit back together.

This is the first in a series of Socialist Worker articles that will look at the arguments around immigration in the run-up to the general election

Filed under: Migration

Apparently anecdote is the singular of bullshit

Homeopathy cured my cancer (Via Bad Science)

Filed under: Science

A post about Liberals inevitably titled “The strange death of Liberal [insert topic here]“

Picture of Tim LuckhurstTim Luckhurst is upset that Rod Liddle is not going to be be editor of the Independent.

Although I can understand why he is annoyed that something he wants to happen is not going to happen, his ire against the “Liberals” who foiled Liddle seems somewhat bizarre.

In today’s Guardian he writes:

Rod Liddle will not be editor of the Independent. The screechingly intolerant campaign of hostility directed against him by metropolitan critics has done its job. They call themselves liberals. If they are right then the word has come to have as little meaning as its common counterpart “progressive”. Sincere liberals do not censor opinion, still less should they caricature it in order to intensify hostility. True liberals oppose arguments they despise by demonstrating the greater value of better ones.

Picture of Sunny HundalIn his people’s red tunic Sunny Hundal has mounted horseback and set loose the dogs of Facebook to trash Liddle’s chances of editing the Independent.

Tim argues that having an opinion, registering that opinion publicly and taking action to see it realised is illiberal.

This is an opinion you see bandied about quite often: Liberals must be acquiescent, weak and silent. When liberals are not they are quickly denounced as fascists, or for those less inclined to go Godwin, as huge hypocrites.

But this is nonsense.

The facebook group is called If Rod Liddle becomes editor of The Independent, I will not buy it again.

I struggle to think of things more liberal than a boycott. They aren’t threatening violence or trying to co-opt the power of the state to stop him and are not calling in any favours from Russian Oligarchs to knobble him.

They are not coercing anyone or threatening to do so and are not calling for Liddle to be silenced. They are just asking for the paper they buy to not become his soapbox. Because of this Tim’s accusations fall short of anything approaching coherence.

Perhaps Tim is destined to get thing wrong when his main concern is a “tyranny of the liberal metropolitan elite.” It seems he, like many others totally misunderstands what a liberal is.

The idea of “daft liberals” ruining everything suits the simplistic narratives that journalists of Liddle’s meagre stature rely on to fill column inches.

But contrary to lazy journalist’s claims most of Britain is not Broken, even if parts are, and immigrants are not taking over, even if it is simpler to say so, and Labour are not accusing us all of being racists, even if some anti-immigrant rhetoric is racist.

How the ruling classes have had their way in the last few decades is not really debatable but to categorise it as “a tyranny of a liberal metropolitan elite” is blindingly foolish.

The tyranny of the liberal establishment were content to have Liddle edit the Independent, [1] but perhaps Tim can present evidence to the contrary?

Being a liberal does not demand acquiescence as the world around you changes, nor does it mean deferential treatment of those with which you fundamentally disagree. A liberal can fight for what they believe in, where do these people think our hard won and fast eroding liberties came from?

[1] After all they have far smaller fish to fry and lives to ruin.

Filed under: The Media

Good article on immigration and the media

Sunny Hundal has written an excellent article on How the Media Help the BNP. Read it here. Excerpt here:

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that the election of two MEPs would bring the BNP under closer scrutiny since last year. Surely the media glare would expose its nasty underbelly? The party’s deputy leader, Simon Darby, doesn’t seem to think so:

“Dealing with the press on a daily basis it is hard not to develop a healthy disrespect for the people who quite rightly can be blamed for the state this country is in today. However, certainly over the last year I am not the only one here at BNP Towers that has noticed a distinct thaw in the attitude towards us from some aspects of the media.”

The problem here is that while newspaper columnists and reporters keep stating they hate the BNP and all it stands for, they nevertheless keep promoting narratives that harden BNP support. Here is a short list I prepared earlier.

Filed under: Migration, The Media

CAMERON EXPOSED [/tabloidese]

(Via tomcallow who RT’d alexsmith1982 who RT’d tchee who RT’d gedrobinson but ultimately via aiannucci. Phew, but then citing your sources is important.)

What’s happening?

140

Latest: Well I just found out Patrick Swayze’s dead. How did I miss that? #BAFTALatest: Well I just found out Patrick Swayze’s dead. How did I miss that? #BAFTA

Send a direct message.

140

Trend Info
  1. Jodie Kearns jodiekearns

    Peter Sarsgaard’s English accent in An Education is flawless.

  2. Lisa slummymummy1

    Clive Owen, I woudl have more babies if you asked me. In fact, thats not all I would do. Just saying. Is he on twitter?

  3. Leah Borromeo monstris

    Been reading @zoegriffin‘s BAFTA tweets. She writes like a brain-damaged goldfish. There are better uses for the oxygen she consumes.

  4. Thomas Byrne ByrneTofferings

    Back home now, anyone fancy a book on free market schools I just dug out for @carlraincoat ?

  5. Fabienne gift_of_the_fab

    @HouseofTwits I did say previously that the votes didn’t allow space for debate/commentary ;P (@simon1982 )

  6. Tom Callow tomcallow

    RT @AIannucci We didn’t win. The world will not hear my Nicholas Winterton joke. < damn!

  7. Greg Stekelman themanwhofell

    The little speeches prefacing the awards are so fucking shit: “Foreign films show us that money is the same in any language”.

  8. Gurpreet ggupta

    Cliven Owen – someone who belongs in Eastenders but accidentally made it to Hollywood #baftas

  9. Lisa slummymummy1

    Going to watch an Education. Someone remind me.

  10. HarpyMarx HarpyMarx

    A Prophet has just won best foreign film Bafta! Hurrah!!

  11. Owain Gardner Odbe34

    Hmm. methinks Clive Owen may have read this autocue too much! #baftas

  12. Alexander Walsh alexanderpwalsh

    @hannahnicklin I’m coming over, and I have a spoon. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But spoon.

  13. Kira kiramadeira

    oh shit, I’ve missed #pineappledancestudio AGAIN!

  14. Fabienne gift_of_the_fab

    It’s no more acceptable for a helpline to break confidentiality than it is to casually sweep aside serious allegations of workplace bullying

  15. Manda Scott/MC Scott hare_wood

    .@GregWHoward Just pointing out that benign socialism exists – and that the US isn’t close and never will be. #tcot #p2 #ocra #sgp #tlot

  16. Jon Macqueen mrjonmacqueen

    The Baftas is helping me add lots of titles to my HateFilm list.

  17. Lisa slummymummy1

    Last DM I sent was about an hour ago.

  18. Tom Callow tomcallow

    RT @alexsmith1982: RT @tchee: RT @gedrobinson I ruddy love @aiannucci David Cameron exposed http://bit.ly/bLYZVC <Top drawer! < ROTFLMAO!

  19. Lisa slummymummy1

    I have sent NO DM’s out. Don’t check DM’s from me, don’t click links.

  20. Greg Stekelman themanwhofell

    Precious is probably my favoute Jewish film of the year.

  21. Olathe Litonya Palestinebat

    Am convinced Jonathon Ross is wearing a corset.

  22. Andrew Gwynne Andrew_GwynneMP

    My latest blog posts: 1) End the Vulture Culture: http://j.mp/9HfXZe / 2) How hung? Poll analysis (of course!): http://tinyurl.com/y8cvfuk

  23. Pitsnpots Pitsnpots

    Pits n Pots Latest: A tale of two towns- Stoke and Leek http://ow.ly/16D8YI

  24. Safe World Campaign safeworld4women

    RT @LilyMazahery: RT @AustinHeap: Re: Twitter attack: “Affected users are advised to change their passwords immediately” http://is.gd/8T56G

  25. Lisa slummymummy1

    Luckily, whenyou have been a social worker, you don’t need to look for films that are gritty and realistic. Silly to.

  26. politicshomeuk politicshomeuk

    Front pages: Monday 22nd February 2010 http://tinyurl.com/ygujf6u

  27. House Of Twits HouseofTwits

    RT @M_J_Murphy My MP Has A Mind Of His Own #parliamentarypop

  28. Lisa slummymummy1

    HAven’t seen Precious either. A bit depressing really. Mariah without make up worth a look.

  29. alexsmith1982 alexsmith1982

    @BevaniteEllie Not mine — I RT’d it! I’d say something a bit more North London. It IS pretty nang, see.

  30. Safe World Campaign safeworld4women

    .@Facebook – Please remove this page ‘Hitting Women’ http://ow.ly/19Gjn from your site (Plz RT)

  31. Kira kiramadeira

    Precious was just so good #baftas

  32. Jonathan Taylor Jon2aylor

    I tell you what, I wish the FT would email me whole articles instead of just links. Is that possible? Do any papers email whole articles?

  33. Lucia vivatinsurgo

    Tonight’s Being Human was bloody (literally) good!!

Filed under: Politics, Society, The Media

162 years of the Communist Manifesto

On this day in 1848 The Communist Manifesto was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

I wonder what Marx would think of the world a century and a half later?

Filed under: History, Politics

Coco Pop damage you can see

Courtesy of Deptford Draylon from Flickr

As I travel home from work I am exposed to a great deal of  advertising. It has got almost to the point that I don’t notice most of it.

Advert on side of van, billboard on roundabout, sign on side of road by junction, overhead on train just above the luggage rack, sign reinforcing my work’s “brand identity” just outside the door.

I don’t notice it, it doesn’t really bother me until I see something that reminds me advertisement is largely manipulation. Adults are grown up enough to be left to it themselves (Yes Compass, you, shut up) but when adverts are aimed at kids it does a little stick in my throat.

So I was quite happy to see the advert opposite advertising “Coco Pops after school” disappear this week.

It was a pretty straightforward example of Capital seeking a new market – a forth meal in the day no less! – and sinking to new lows in doing so.

But I get no respite.

Rather than a nice normal advert with something I’m desensitised to like tits or Alan Titchmarsh I get egregious propaganda from the Government telling women “Drinking does more damage than you see.”

Apparently that second glass of Pinot Noir is going to kill me. Fuck Off and bring back that greedy monkey. See their video below.                                                                                                      Invisible Damage

Filed under: Society

Brown’s Gold

In 1999 Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer sold 400 tons of gold at the bottom of a 20 year slump in the gold market. He sold at $275 an ounce and could get closer to $700 now.

Conservative Home’s Left Watch argue that, by being patient and waiting for the price of gold to more or less triple, the French have made 50% more than Gordon Brown on gold sales having only to sell half as much.

Tim Montgomerie asks “Is there a more powerful example of Brown’s incompetence?”

When it comes to the matter of how the Gold was sold I think that is fair comment, it really does seem that Brown didn’t know how to best sell gold – and more damningly – didn’t try to find out the best way either.

By announcing the sale in advance it is reckoned that he depressed the market by around 10%. Record numbers of investors took up “short” positions on Gold in anticipation of the sale.

By way of illustration, whereas he sold gold through auctions Australia and Switzerland sold through the normal and more profitable channels and then announced the sales after they had taken place.

But the decision to sell the gold in 1999 seems far more difficult to judge than is often presented.

When it comes to partisan point scoring it seems Tim leaves his pro-market credentials at the door. Even Guido Fawkes cannot help himself lamenting the “billions lost” by Brown.

There are a number of caveats on Brown’ bungling so rarely mentioned some would think that they didn’t exist. Robert Peston points out that we didn’t just ditch gold, we purchased interest-bearing assets instead.

The $3.5bn of revenue raised in the sales was invested in interest-bearing assets denominated in dollars, euros and yen to the extent of 40%, 40% and 20% respectively.

So to calculate the true net loss to the taxpayer, I would have to adjust for the yield on these assets and movements in the value of those currencies. And I don’t have enough information on precisely what was bought and when to make that calculation.

It is probable, however, that the effective net loss on Gordon Brown’s great gold sale would be a bit less than $9bn – but it would still be a very significant loss.

So a poor defence for Brown, but a defence nonetheless. Brown’s logic was that Gold would not recover in value to the extent that it would out earn these assets.

He was wrong, but if Tim Montgomerie and Guido Fawkes knew Gold was to triple in value in a decade why do they not live in houses made out of it?

Its very difficult to beat the market and utterly impossible to assimilate all the information needed to do so on a consistent and intentional basis.

Brown did a marvellous job of making as little money in a weak market as he could, but its a little disingenuous to suggest Brown has lost us billions of pounds.

This behaviour seems to have little to do with an interest in the best practice of Government or deeply held beliefs but a great deal to do with political gesturing.

AMMENDUM: This is quite interesting on Gold as an investment.

Filed under: Economics, Politics

I’ve never voted Tory before, it was much easier just to buy them

More at mydavidcameron.com.

Filed under: Politics, Society

The latest in internet fashion…

Well well well, it appears that I have no attracted that most sought after internet accessory: The weird paedophile obsessed stalker.

Daniel Hoffman-Gill and Douglas Clark have long suffered with an odd chap that follows them around making slanderous comments, and it appear that he/she disliked me pointing out that it was rather bad form. So…

First here he/she said:

I am another big mouthed cunt who like to gob off on the interent but cries like a little girl when I get the attention I asked for.

Then here he/she said:

I am a convicted paedophile along with my rape loving buddies ******** and ********.

Bottom line is I have a big fucking mouth just like my rape buddies ******** and ******** and I reap what I sow.

I cry like a little bitch now, and it’s quite strange because I gobbed off like a tough guy before to get this attention.

I need help not only to get over my disgraceful sexual attraction to children, but to learn that I am not a hard man and the internet is not the best place to put my name to abuse and especially abuse that I dole out when it is none of my goddamn fucking business in the first fucking place.

In short I am a gobshite cunt.

Oooooh scary. But then I am blogging anonymously so I can afford so say that.

This is what I’ve found out from their IP address. Which makes me think they are rerouteing their real location through a proxy.

“Gobshite” sounds very British, but “bitch” and “buddy” seems a bit American, hmmm…

IP Address Location
IP Address 67.159.44.42
City Woodstock
State or Region Illinois
Country United States
ISP Fdcservers.Net.

Filed under: Blogging

A request

A Dutch auction is an auction where a high price is selected and the price is slowly reduced until a buyer is found.

At a regular auction a price is quoted low and increases bid by bid until no one else wants to better the last.

What produces the better outcome for buyers and sellers – which tends to produce the highest price and which the lowest, or do they reach an equilibrium at the same level? And why?

Any links or a description in the comments would be welcome to scratch my itch.

Filed under: Economics

Happy Birthday to The Third Estate

Since starting on the 12th February 2009 The Third Estate has quickly become essential, and highly entertaining reading.

They set out to offer progressive, irreverent and atypical commentary and have done exactly that, and done it well.

So, Happy Birthday guys and gals, this is the year of the left blogosphere so lets try to make an impact.

Filed under: Blogging

A little sporting food for thought

A Guest post by The Pied Typer.

After Chelsea’s two-nil defeat of Arsenal on Sunday, Andy Gray on Sky Sports went into great detail to analyse how Chelsea scored their goals – particularly the first one. I cannot fault Mr Gray’s observations (or perhaps those of the broadcast’s production team) and I appreciated and was engaged by the level of detail to which such an incident was analysed. Without the visual aids available to Mr Gray, I will remind you quickly of how the pundit saw the events:

  • Ricardo Carvalho was free in the Arsenal penalty area as Frank Lampard went to take the Chelsea corner,
  • Arsenal’s captain Cesc Fabregas and defender Gael Clichy were two of the Arsenal players concerned by Carvalho’s “freedom”
  • Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin who was closest to Carvalho and without another player to mark appeared slow to recognise that Carvaho was in a concerning amount of space
  • Fabregas left his defensive position to go to Carvalho
  • Clichy left his position of being on the back post to assume Fabregas’ previous position
  • The corner came in, Terry headed it on, and Drogba on his own at the back post deserted by Clichy, had a simple finish.
  • Additionally, we were also shown how John Terry had the space to connect with his header by losing his marker

As I have said, I do not disagree with these observations, and appreciated seeing this level of analysis rather than the contrived cliché of BBC’s Match of the Day, but I was frustrated by the conclusions he subsequently drew, or didn’t in fact.

Gray blamed the Arsenal players for not being alert to Carvallho’s freedom quickly enough – particularly Arshavin, and praised Terry for cleverly moving in such a way to lose his marker.

He appropriated blame and praise to individual players, not the coaches, and not the fact that Arsenal were man-to-man marking.

At no point in this detailed discussion did Gray comment on the method of defending a set piece by man-to-man marking, even though he astutely recognised that Chelsea’s goal came from Arsenal’s defenders reacting to seeing one Chelsea player unmarked.

At no point did Gray comment that this goal might not have been conceded had Arsenal been marking zonally, or was he asked whether this might be true.

Yet whenever a team concedes a goal from a set piece having marked zonally, the system and the coach are at fault, they players are exempt from criticism and the point is raised that man-to-man marking would have prevented the goal occurring.

I am not suggesting that Arsenal should have been marking zonally on Sunday, but if any pundits are going to discuss the defending of set pieces in such detail, I would like them to do so equally and fairly.

A view I am sure Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez would agree with me on, as he himself has often felt an unfair victim of this journalistic bias – just see the link below

I would like all pundits to recognise where players deserve praise and blame, where work on the training pitch has paid off or is further required and I would like them to do this free from bias and prejudice.

Filed under: Society

Swedish Schools: Show me the market!

Its nice to see the Tories screw up (again), but it is distressing to see fail what may have been a promising avenue for reforming schools.

The Swedish System of free schools, which is a key part of the Tories education draft manifesto, allows concerned parents or organisations acting as  charitable bodies to run schools.

Funded centrally, but with far greater autonomy than ordinary state schools, they were intended to introduce greater competition into the school sector and drive up quality as schools competed for pupils.

Unfortunately, it seems the Swedes are not as happy with their system as the Tory party are.

The schools are not driving up standards, or rather they are, but only by a self selection of the best pupils by the most opportunistic schools.

In general the school sector has not improved as predicted by the Swedes or as described by the Tories.

In fact, in some ways it has noticeably worsened. Segregation has said to increased in Sweden, a country where 18% of the population have foreign origins which had an otherwise excellent reputation for the way it greeted immigrants.

So why have the schools failed when the logic of competitive markets suggests they should thrive.

For a market to operate you don’t need too much, supply and demand, buyers and sellers. For a market to be efficient requires a great deal more.

It helps to have an infinite number of buyers and sellers. And of course it should be free for people to enter or exit business.

While some parents are content to move, most are not able to or do not want to, so the numbers of schools competing for each child is going to be relatively small. The costs of opening a school will be high and winding down a failing one will present an array of problems.

One particular failing would be badly exacerbated in the UK, where home ownership is one of the few fetishes positively encouraged. Owning our homes makes us far less mobile than our Teutonic brothers in Germany and would decrease the competition this system badly needs to work.

As Jospeh Stiglitz showed us one of the conditions for a perfect market is always lacking, perfect information. This would hold for the Swedish case as it is difficult to judge between independent schools effectively.

The above makes markets sound like an awful idea always. They are not. They are a great idea usually, I just want them introduced where they’ll do a good job, subverted where necessary and in certain cases superseded.

Just because it appears the Swedish schools have failed in achieving what they set out to do it does not follow that the current top down system we have leads to less severe failings by the state in providing education. Frinstance, Finland sounds interesting.

Much of my speculation on Sweden’s failings is just that; speculation. But the fact remains  that announcing a markets by diktat does not make it so.

So Gove, show me the market, show me the conditions for the market – don’t show me how you think it will create a market and don’t show me what you think will happen because the evidence doesn’t appear to back up your bravado.

More at Left Foot Forward (Hat Tip Paul Sagar)

Filed under: Economics, Foreign Affairs, Politics, Society

Welcome to the Cynical World of Market Research

Guest post by The Pied Typer.

Working in market research can be described as being many positive things; intriguing, interesting, insightful and last but not least; a job which pays (not to be scoffed at, the way things are).

However, it can also be frustratingly cynical and it is this aspect of the industry which I wanted to relate to you, readers of Left Outside. When I began my employment, I optimistically thought I would become a part of an important business process; finding out what consumers want, and how best to serve them (admittedly to increase sales and boost profits).

This sadly, is rarely how I spend my day. Instead I often find my clients are PR companies looking for a stat or two which they can throw at whoever they need to, to convince them that their client’s service or product is exactly what they want or need.

For the purposes of an example; imagine that a car manufacturer has designed an engine which is impressively economical in its petrol consumption but the rest of the car, is well, unimpressive.

That manufacturer may become the client of a PR company to help them sell it, who will commission market researchers to survey consumers and produce results which will enhance the marketing of the car.

The survey will not be genuinely concerned by the preferences of car consumers, but instead it will be concerned only by how their purchasing decisions are influenced by a car’s fuel economy, so that the PR company can say how “xx% of consumers want a car which is …..”

Specifically, how do I do this? And how do I get frustrated by the cynicism of it?

Let’s explore my hypothetical client of a car manufacturer a little closer.

The PR company may want to ask the question:

Which of these factors influence your car purchasing decisions? (Please select all answers which you feel apply to you)

  • Cost
  • Reliability
  • Speed
  • Appearance
  • Comfort
  • Size
  • Fuel economy

A cursory glance of this question may leave you thinking that there isn’t much to be cynical about. However, take a closer look at this question, try to answer it yourself and you’ll find that you would probably select every one of these answers (or at least I would).

Put it this way, I wouldn’t buy a car that:

  • I couldn’t afford,
  • I knew to break down often,
  • Couldn’t go above 30mph,
  • Looked like it had been made by a five year old with a new found love for pentagons
  • Had cactus leaves for seats
  • Was so small that only a contortionist could get into it
  • Could only travel 5 miles on a £50 tank of petrol

Ok, perhaps a slightly extreme look at that question, but I feel my point is made – ask that question and it is likely that almost everyone answering the survey would select fuel economy.

Instead, in an attempt to ask the questions we are supposed to, but do so with intentions bordering on honest well meaning research, I would like for people to only be allowed to pick three answers or even one answer and pick the one which is most influential.

But that would make less people pick the answer our client wants, and reduce that almighty percentage they want to shove down your throats in their marketing.

Who cares about good intentions, honesty or integrity? They’re paying us aren’t they.

After all, if surveys tell us 99% of Market Research companies do it, it must be okay! I think that’s enough of an introduction to the world of market research for now, more on the cynicism (and maybe occasional insight or intrigue) I encounter for another time.

Filed under: Economics, Science, Society

Orwell Prize

I’m in the elite super exclusive top 164 bloggers who have put themselves forward for it.

As I’m going to be away a while, why not peruse my wares and see for yourself if you think I’m worth a cheeky wager.

  1. The Limits of Democracy
  2. The Logic and Lunacy of Kim Jong-il
  3. High Heels, Low Politics
  4. One World Con: The Conservatives’ ideas on Development are Dangerous
  5. Migration is not a crime, but the way it’s discussed is criminal
  6. One of the most wrongheaded posts I have ever read
  7. Jan Moir first draft: The truth about my views on the tragic death of Stephen Gately
  8. Why Thomas Byrne is wrong on Fairtrade
  9. Slavery and the Periphery
  10. Does Socialism cause Racism?

Yeah, be intimidated 54th most influential blogger Paul Cotterill!

In all seriousness, if I were to put together a Longlist from those who’ve put themselves forward it’d look like this.

  1. Anton Vowl Enemies of Reason; Mailwatch; Farewell Prozac http://enemiesofreason.blogspot.com; www.mailwatch.co.uk; http://farewellprozac.blogspot.com
  2. Heresiarch Heresy Corner http://heresycorner.blogspot.com
  3. Hopi Sen Hopi Sen http://hopisen.wordpress.com
  4. Jack of Kent Jack of Kent http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/
  5. Jim Jepps The Daily (Maybe) http://jimjay.blogspot.com
  6. lenin Lenin’s Tomb http://leninology.blogspot.com
  7. L Outside (Obviously)
  8. Neil Robertson The Bleeding Heart Show http://bleedingheartshow.wordpress.com/
  9. Paul Cotterill Though Cowards Flinch; Bickerstaffe Record; Liberal Conspiracy http://thoughcowardsflinch.com; http://www.bickerstafferecord.org.uk; http://liberalconspiracy.org/author/paulc/
  10. Phil BC A Very Public Sociologist http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.com
  11. Sunder Katwala Next Left; Liberal Conspiracy http://www.nextleft.org/; http://liberalconspiracy.org/author/sunderk/
  12. Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy; Pickled Politics; Guardian Comment is Free http://liberalconspiracy.org/author/admin/; http://www.pickledpolitics.com; http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/sunnyhundal

Filed under: Blogging

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 8,367 other followers

RSS Though Cowards Flinch

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 Blood and Treasure

RSS Britmouse

RSS IOZ

RSS Phil Dickens

RSS Paul Sagar

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

RSS Owen

RSS Norm Geras

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 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 Kantoos Economics

RSS Duncan Black

RSS Noahpinion

RSS Knowing and Making

RSS Ta-Nehisi Coates

RSS Marginal Revolution

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

RSS Will Wilkinson

  • Free Will Is Back
  • Are Conditional Transfers Paternalistic?

RSS Unlearning Econ

RSS Acemoglu and Robinson

RSS Overcoming Bias

RSS Econbrowser

RSS Macroeconomic Advisors

Increase NGDP, Put These People Back to Work

Follow me on twitter

February 2010
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728

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 8,367 other followers