More on the emotional difference between Leftists and Rightists
What Thanksgiving has in common with Eton College!
A few days ago, I put up a post which characterized Leftism as the politics of rage. But all I said about conservatives was that they are cautious. But caution is not really an emotion. It is a disposition and some emotions have to go with that but I think I should say a little more about what those emotions are.
What I did mention is that conservatives are always shown in research as being happier than Leftists and that leads into what I think is important. Because conservatives are NOT full of rage, they feel free to enjoy whatever is around them. And one of the great satisfactions in human life is fellowship: Feeling part of a group of people whom you like or respect. So instead of screaming "racism" at every sign of group loyalty, conservatives can simply enjoy their group loyalties. They are untroubled patriots, for instance.
So American conservatives can feel warm inside to be Americans and they can greatly value the fellowship they find in their church. And where conservatives diverge most strongly from Leftists is that they can also feel a sense of fellowship and belonging with their ancestors and forebears. We often see this very strongly expressed among American conservatives when they talk about the "Founders" of the nation and the wisdom the founders bequeathed in the Constitution etc. And such thoughts are of course often to the fore on Thanksgiving day.
And another common expression of solidarity with the past is of course the great respect that conservatives pay to those who have died in war in the service of their nation. In my country, Australia, that day of remembrance (which we call Anzac day) is our only really solemn national occasion. Leftists have tried to laugh at it from time to time but it goes from strength to strength, with young people as well as old participating in the services of remembrance.
And there is no doubt that the army is always one of the most solidly conservative bodies of people that exists in any community. And the degree of fellowship in the army must be very close to maximal. If you pass a member of your old army unit in the street, you always stop to say a few words at least. There is a lasting bond between men who have fought together that outsiders can only dimly understand. My time in the Australian army was most undistinguished (though very fondly remembered) but I was an army psychologist so perhaps I have a little more awareness of what the army is about than most. I am certainly pleased to say that I have worn my country's uniform.
All these sorts of fellowship that conservatives feel are generally felt pretty strongly. There is often a swelling of pride and gratitude associated with such feelings. And the poor sad old Leftist is basically left out of all that. Their hate and rage bars them from feeling some of the most basic human emotions.
And I now want to give a vivid example of that: Something that Leftists will hate viscerally but which most conservatives should understand and enjoy. I reproduce below the Eton Boat Song. Eton is of course Britain's most elite school and British private schools are famous for fostering a sense of fellowship among their pupils. And you will see that vividly below. Listen to the music as you read the words and I will add a few comments afterwards. The song refers of course to competitive rowing regattas:
Jolly boating weather,
And a hay harvest breeze,
Blade on the feather,
Shade off the trees;
Swing, swing together,
With your bodies between your knees.
Rugby may be more clever,
Harrow may make more row:
But we'll row forever,
Steady from stroke to bow,
And nothing in life shall sever
The chain that is round us now.
Others will fill our places,
Dressed in the old light blue;
We'll recollect our races,
We'll to the flag be true;
And youth will be still in our faces
When we cheer for an Eton crew.
Twenty years hence this weather
May tempt us from office stools:
We may be slow on the feather,
And seem to the boys old fools:
But we'll still swing together,
And swear by the best of schools.
I went to a totally undistinguished school in a small Australian country town but that song does tend to bring a tear to my eyes. It is a powerful expression of being part of something bigger and better, and something that transcends time. I hope some of my readers get that powerful feeling too.
And note that is also a humble song. It talks of pride in a great identity but without any thought of dominating others -- which is the Leftist preoccupation. It talks of the singers as being "old fools" sitting on "office stools". There is no Fascist aggression there at all. In characteristically English style, it actually spends quite a lot of time talking about the weather! No egotistical "Tomorrow belongs to me", "We are the people we have been waiting for" or "Yes we can" there. fools" sitting on "office stools". There is no Fascist aggression there at all.
Yet it is a song that expressed a powerful feeling. British officers in World War I were known to go "over the top" in the dreadful charges of that war singing the Eton Boat song. That to me is a sort of nobility which I know that no Leftist egotist will ever understand.
Leftists do of course still have the normal human need for fellowship so when they do at last find an outlet for it that passes muster with them we get the completely over the top hysteria of Fascism, Nazism or Obama-worship. (Anybody who has been conned into believing that the National Socialist Hitler and the Marxist Mussolini were Rightists should read here and here)
Note: The above is a slightly expanded version of the original post
NHS lost patient details 135 times in two years
Losing government files on people is one way in which British bureaucrats are world leaders. It makes the news about once a month and all departments seem to be affected. The article below shows, however, that the news reports are just the tip of the iceberg
The NHS has lost the confidential medical records and personal details of thousands of patients in a "catalogue of errors" uncovered by an investigation into how the health service handles data. A "fundamental re-examination" of how the NHS deals with personal data was demanded last night after research showed that a series of losses and thefts had potentially exposed the private details of 10,000 patients around the country. A total of 135 cases were reported, including the loss or theft of diaries, briefcases, CDs, laptops, memory sticks and, in one case, a vehicle containing patient records.
A back-up tape of an entire system was stolen from a general practice in the East of England this year. In another case, a laptop containing the records of 5,123 patients was stolen from the outpatients' department of a hospital in the West Midlands.
The revelations will cast renewed doubt over the Government's ability to handle personal data after a series of high-profile losses by Revenue & Customs and the ministries of Justice and Defence in the past year, and will raise further questions about the scheme to create a computerised national patient database to allow easier communication between GPs and hospitals.
The Liberal Democrats, who carried out the series of Freedom of Information requests, called for the Government to scrap its plans for a national computerised database. Norman Lamb, the party's health spokesman, has also written to Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, with four other recommendations, including prohibiting the use of mobile devices to store patient records and publishing a set of minimum data protection standards.
Mr Lamb said: "These reports show utterly shocking lapses in security. Patients have a right to expect their personal information to be treated with the utmost care. "The degree of negligence in some cases is breathtaking, given the absolute sensitivity of patient data. There must be a fundamental re-examination of how the NHS deals with personal data. The NHS should regard lapses of standards of care as potential serious misconduct."
The details, obtained through requests made to strategic health authorities, revealed incidents of data loss dating back as far as 2006. In some cases, private patient notes were found in public places or deserted buildings, or had been dumped in bins and skips. One loss of records was so serious that police and an NHS manager became involved. The incident occurred in January, when a district nurse took home activity sheets with patients' names and addresses, which were stolen during a burglary.
Do British women fear fat more than drunkenness?
Could be these days
Bottles of wine and beer could soon carry labels warning of their calorie content. Experts believe binge drinkers, not deterred by information about how much alcohol a drink contains, might think again if they knew how fattening it was. The message would be most likely to hit home with image-conscious young drinkers and women.
One option would see the calorie content equated to a fattening food - such as comparing the calories in a pint of lager to a sausage roll. The proposals, from the Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, was last night condemned by the drinks industry. It claimed it could simply push drinkers into deciding they may have to 'skip a meal' in order to drink.
The advisory council, an influential body usually listened to by Ministers, said all alcohol bottles should carry labels warning of the 'harm caused', similar to those on cigarette packets. In a paper sent to Ministers, it added: 'Labelling could include calorie content and possibly specific warnings e.g increased risk of accidents.' One example given in the document is: 'A pint of lager = 2.3 units = 170 calories = a sausage roll'. It adds: 'Other types of comparison could be worth exploring.'
The council's views were sent to the Department for Health as part of the 'Safe Sensible Social' drinking laws review. The results of the review, including a crackdown on happy hours and other promotions, will be published once they have been approved by Gordon Brown.
Other advisory council suggestions include increasing taxes on strong drinks. The stronger a drink, the more it would cost. At present, some of the most potent brands of lager and cider are also the cheapest. The ACMD said: 'One major reason for the increase in binge intoxication in the UK is the gradual increase in the alcohol content of alcohol in wines, beers and especially lagers. 'Reducing alcohol content would be a simple approach to reducing intoxication. `Differential taxing - according to alcohol content per unit - could be one such method employed to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.'
Other controversial proposals include so-called town centre 'wet' or 'damp houses' where drunks could go to sleep off a night's heavy drinking in safety. The ACMD launched a blistering attack on supermarkets, which often sell alcohol as a loss leader to entice more customers. It said: 'Such cheap availability encourages bulk purchase and consumption. Of specific concern is that the pricing puts alcohol more within the budgets of young people.'
A spokesman for the Wine and Spirit Trade Association warned against the calorie labelling plan. 'It's good in principle for consumers to have the information to make an informed choice but you wouldn't want people choosing alcohol by calories or thinking they could have a drink and skip a meal. 'Alcohol with food is better and adults should decide based on alcohol content, not calories.'
Drivers under the age of 21 should have a zero-alcohol limit, the advisory council said. Just one small glass of wine raises the odds of a young driver crashing six-fold, it warned. Drivers under 21 are already banned from drinking in Europe, as well as in parts of the U.S., Canada and Australia.
British pupils are 'too spoon-fed to cope with tough degrees'
Students are being sold short by a culture of 'spoon-feeding' at school which leaves them ill-equipped for traditional degrees, a report has warned. The UK produces a bigger percentage of graduates in 'soft' subjects than any other developed nation, according to a study by the Reform think-tank. It also generates the lowest percentage of graduates in engineering, manufacturing, construction, medicine and law - and the second lowest in science and maths. British students are losing out because these courses offer the best salary prospects and are highly valued by employers, Reform said.
The think-tank claims that a culture of 'teaching to the test' has left pupils incapable of thinking independently. 'One result is the growth of a spoon-fed generation that wants to receive education passively and without effort,' the report said. 'This generation prefers the X Factor to A grades.'
The report cited figures showing that only 6.2 per cent of UK graduates have studied engineering - against 15 per cent in continental Europe and 12.9 per cent in Eastern Europe. In contrast, 12.1 per cent of British students graduated in social and behavioural sciences, which include subjects such as media studies. In Asia and continental Europe, the figure is just 6.7 per cent.
The report concluded that UK students are 'poor at following high-value degree options' such as medicine, mathematics, computer sciences and engineering. The think-tank also said that further education colleges had 'lost their sense of purpose' and some had a drop-out rate of 71 per cent.
The report came on the day Ofsted warned that some business qualifications are treated as equivalent to A-levels despite being tested almost entirely through coursework. It said students needed only a 'weak grasp of key concepts' to pass the course.
Reform advocates giving each student an 'education account' worth 13,000 pounds to spend as they wish. It also believes that university tuition fees should not be limited. Elizabeth Truss, deputy director of Reform, said: 'We're already in recession. We urgently need to replace a bureaucratic skills maze with a system that puts individuals in charge of their own learning.'
BRITISH CLIMATE CHANGE BILL TO COST $20,000 PER FAMILY
The UK's Climate Change Bill, which commits future governments to cut CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, is about to receive Royal Assent but at what cost? Peter Lilley MP asks why ministers failed to mention that the legislation could cost each family in the UK up to 10,000 pounds
Can you spare 10,000 pounds for a good cause? The government thinks you can - despite the recession. Parliament passed the Climate Change Bill, which is set to receive Royal Assent in the coming days, which will force you to cough up.
This legislation binds future British governments to introduce unilaterally, even if other countries do not follow suit, massive spending programmes which could cost up to 200bn pounds; that's 10,000 from every family in the country.
I'm not talking about rescuing the banks. That involved loans which we should eventually get back. This is real money in taxes and lost incomes - money you will never see again.
Hold on! I hear you exclaim. No-one asked us if we could afford 10,000. We haven't heard anything about a 200 billion package. That's enormous. That's right; it is enormous and you didn't hear anything about it. That is the scandal. Neither Parliament nor most of the media bothered to discuss the cost of one of the most immense projects ever adopted in this country. Indeed, Parliament wafted it through without even discussing its cost and with only five votes against.
In my experience, our biggest mistakes are made when Parliament and the media are virtually unanimous and MPs switch off their critical faculties in a spasm of moral self-congratulation. That is what happened with this Bill.
We all want to save the planet from overheating, just as we all want to save the financial system from meltdown. We accept that both rescues may cost us a lot. But a healthy democracy should at least debate the cost, compare it with the likely benefits (or costs of doing nothing) and consider whether we can achieve the same ends at less cost.
Had MPs or commentators bothered to read the government's own estimates of the potential costs and benefits of the Climate Change Bill - the Impact Assessment - they would have found some extraordinary things. Admittedly, on this occasion government failed to publish copies of the assessment in the normal way so it took a little effort to obtain. Apparently, I was the only MP to obtain a copy.
The contents of the Impact Assessment are astounding. Whereas it puts the Bill's potential cost as up to 205bn, it says the maximum benefits of this massive expenditure is 110bn pounds.
I am all in favour of taking out an insurance policy, as the government describes it, against the threat of global warming. But would you insure your home with a company if they charged premiums which could be double the value of your house? There must be a better insurance policy than this.
Moreover, the government admits that their estimate of the "maximum" cost is far from being the real maximum since it omits three huge items. First, the Impact Assessment admits that it is "unable to capture transition costs which could be 1.3% to 2% of GDP in 2020". Second, they make the fantastically optimistic assumption that all businesses will know and instantly adopt the most cost efficient technologies to achieve carbon savings. Third, the assessment "cannot capture trade and competitiveness impacts"; in particular, the "relatively high risks of the transfer of productive capital to countries without carbon policies".
In other words, if we pursue the policies in the Climate Change Bill unilaterally, without others doing the same, we could end up driving UK business abroad without reducing carbon emissions because they will still be spewing forth carbon.
Yet this bill legally binds future British governments unilaterally to spend billions of pounds on trying to prevent climate change even if other countries do not follow our lead. There is a case for Britain taking the lead, but the bill should surely only become binding if a critical mass of other countries follow our lead; we cannot save the planet single-handed....
The oddest thing about the government's cost/benefit analysis is that it contradicts the Stern Review. Sir Nicholas Stern concluded that the cost of preventing climate change would be small relative to the benefits. Yet the Impact Assessment reveals that the costs could dwarf the potential benefits. The Stern Review was much criticised for resorting to unprecedented means to inflate the benefits artificially. In particular, he used an astonishingly low discount rate thereby giving a huge weight to benefits that will not accrue until centuries ahead. In fact, half the benefits he expects will not occur until after the year 2800!
Ministers have admitted to me that their Impact Assessment rejected Stern's dubious figures and used conventional discount rates. Yet they still quote Stern's conclusions to justify their Bill and never mention their own more recent calculations.
The Times pleads with Australians to stay in the United Kingdom
A LEADING British newspaper has pleaded with Australians living in the UK not to head home amid concerns a looming recession and plummeting pound are fueling an exodus. The Times praised the cultural contribution of famous Australians who have made Britain home, including Barry Humphries, Clive James and Germaine Greer as well as the generations of Antipodeans who have flocked to the "old country''. But in its editorial yesterday, the Rupert Murdoch-owned daily voiced alarm at new figures showing record numbers of Antipodeans are leaving Britain and its economic gloom for better job opportunities back home.
"This is largely a vote of no confidence in the old country,'' The Times said. "As the recession bites, the lure of home, with unemployment at a 33-year low and the Australian dollar at an 11-year high against sterling, is very tempting.''
According to the paper, Australian Immigration Department figures show an average of 2700 Australians are leaving the UK each month, up from 1750 a month in 2005. In the 12 months to June, 13,062 Australians applied for working holiday visas compared with more than 27,000 two years ago. Online readers blamed more than the economy. "The weather, bad schools and healthcare and poor infrastructure will not keep highly educated and mobile workers. not to mention the rising tax on 'the rich' ," wrote j of London in the paper's online comments. "Ever get the feeling the whole place is going to pot?" asked Jez W, of Leeds.
But not everyone was sure about the weather in Australia. "The sun doesn't always shine. My colleague has just come back from Brisbane where there was TEN INCHES of rain overnight!", wrote Ben Foster of Wokingham.
A strong pound, the chance to travel widely and superior job opportunities - particularly in London's financial sector - had enticed thousands of professional Australians to the UK in recent years. But with mass redundancies, a falling currency and the poor economic outlook, there is an exodus from the City of London.