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October 29th, 2002

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02:33 pm - Quick thoughts on the news
If you're British, especially if you're British and you saw "Fame, Set and Match" on Saturday, do go and have a look at Iain's recent piece (dated Saturday) comparing errant Conservative politicians to rock stars. It's (+1, Inspired).

The EU-led changes on the amount of cigarettes which may be imported strike me as poor news, not least for tobacconists in the south-east of England (and possibly also those in Northern Ireland?) who probably have a reasonable call for compensation. This may be a situation where harmonised taxes and duties across the EU would be desirable, and authoritarian me would prefer that they would be at the sensibly punitive British levels rather than the Continental European ones.

A dissenting viewpoint on the firefighters; it should not necessarily be accepted without debate that firefighters should be regarded as professionals. Firefighting should be treated as any other job with similar entry and training requirements. Undeniably the workers involved show physical bravery that few other professions can match and so the workers should be rewarded appropriately, but not every profession deserves an above-average wage. (Why does no politician dare say this?)

As there are so many people who seek to enter the firefighting profession, I have considerable sympathy with the market-led viewpoint that it would be better for the country if the majority of increased funds for firefighting went on enhanced equipment and more workers rather than on workers' increased wages. Of course, I don't have all the answers to my own questions, so I probably am poorly-placed to have answers to other people's.

Can't find a link on BBC News or Google News, but the BBC News at 1 had an article about kids complaining about boredom and boredom being a major contributor towards criminal acts. Perhaps I really am getting old, but one would have hoped that the recent relatively dramatic increase in multi-channel TV and access to the Internet would help to captivate the uncaptivated. "Bored" is probably the wrong explanation - the question is, what is the right one?
Current Mood: about the same
Current Music: cheerful stuff, not really helping

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2002 07:28 am (UTC)
This morning on the way to work I saw three Green Goddesses queuing to fill up at a BP station. The funny part was, a fire engine came by with its siren on and was unable to get past because of the rearmost bigass army vehicle, which was sticking out of the forecourt.

Relevant? No. Amusing? Probably only to me.

My feeling is that firepersons should be paid a couple of thousand more, at least. But you don't go into the fire service because you want to make lots of money, and I'm shocked and disappointed that they think a strike is appropriate behaviour.
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2002 08:02 am (UTC)

Out Of Interest...

...given that you feel firefighters' wages should be influenced by market forces, how do you feel about the existence of a minimum wage ?
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2002 08:42 am (UTC)

Re: Out Of Interest...

It depends how serious I'm being.

If I'm in a "several trillion pounds to spend" mood, where I am effectively benign dictator of the state and can set different wages for different industries according to what I feel they add to the worth of the nation then I am against it and put several small industries out of work on the premise that the presence of that industry in the nation is more offensive to me than the unemployment that putting such an industry would cause out of work. (Examples: football agents, ambulance-chasing lawyers, the for-profit ring tone industry, the fox hunting industry.) I am not being particularly serious here.

As benign dictator, I would of course put a little more thought in here to ensure that the consequences of the absence of such an industry would not be more deleterious than the consequences of the presence of such an industry - but my gut suspicions are that only relatively little thought would be required in each case.

Being slightly more serious, I wholeheartedly approve of the reasons behind the minimum wage in princple but regret that I cannot remember as much about my A-level economics as I would like in order to consider my opinion sufficiently informed and therefore deliberately fail to try to give a convincing answer one way or the other in practice.
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2002 02:21 pm (UTC)

Re: Out Of Interest...

A good answer, but a worrying one. Why should A level economics have a bearing on such questions as this ? Clearly any economic theory will have a non-scarce profession being paid very little - this begs the question of whether this is something we wish to encourage. Higher up in your entry you describe yourself as authoritarian. I had always assumed that one of the great merits of being authoritarian was that you did not have to surrender to the inevitability of evolved[/evolvable] equilibria in your economic and political systems. Or, in simpler terms, you don't have to just accept the consequences of other people being sh*t !
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2002 05:54 pm (UTC)

Re: Out Of Interest...

A-Level economics is about the only formal economics I know. :-)

I see what you mean about authoritarianism and feel that I go along with what you say rather more than I don't go along with it, viz my posiitons on industries I dislike. However, I would hope that I would be a benign, fluffy autocrat and so accordingly distribute the economic surpluses which remain in the system more widely than just keeping the lot for myself.

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