In which we answer Ilkka\’s question

(why the hell is it that we conservatives can usually see the unintended consequences of policies at a glance before we even finish reading their explanations, but the same feat just seems so very, very hard for the soap avoiders?)

Because that\’s why we\’re conservatives, because we can see the unintended consequences…..

Thus the disdain for the grand new plans and the desire to stick with, roughly speaking, the devils we know.

20 comments on “In which we answer Ilkka\’s question

  1. Just like you foresaw the financial crisis? I’m sorry to bring it up, but you can’t make a stupid assertion 0f godliness like this any more.

  2. @Edward, the claim is not that conservatives are omniscient, just that they are a lot better at seeing the unintended consequences of policies than soap dodgers.

  3. In my experience conservatives are indeed very good at seeing the damaging consequences of policies, but often overestimate how quickly the damage will be done – or at least how quickly it will become apparent.

  4. Oh, I remember many opinion columns and commenters to same warning about the pensions crisis looming, the folly of selling off gold reserves, the looming NHS paybill.

    And they were all pooh-poohed by the usual suspects…

  5. “. . . that’s why we’re conservatives, because we can see. . . ”

    It’s probably not so much that we can see them–I think it’s more that we choose to see them.

    And this may be close to the explanation of why “hope and change” is so seductive to the liberal-minded, who choose to seek the grail of dream fulfillment over reality that is often too harsh for them to accept.

  6. Hmm. While I’m aware that some lefties, especially of the Harry’s Place tendency, have been cheerleading for the disastrous mistake in Libya, it’s definitely been *more* of a right-wing pursuit.

    A better answer to Ilkka’s question would be “we’re all better at seeing the flaws in plans when the plans are opposed to our instincts and prejudices. This is why left-leaning people are better at seeing the flaws in Bloody Stupid Wars, and why right-leaning people are better at seeing the flaws in Bloody Stupid Government Spending plans (wars excepted).

    This would seem to be borne out by the experience of George W Bush’s Bloody Stupid Tax Cuts (which created a massive deficit at the height of an economic boom, while also disproportionately benefiting the wealthiest rather than increasing the poor’s incentives to work), which were largely opposed by lefties and not opposed by righties, and of Gordon Brown’s Bloody Stupid Spending Rises (which created a less massive, but still sizeable, deficit at the height of an economic boom, disproportionately benefiting civil servants and government-crony business rather than increasing the poor’s incentives to work), which were largely opposed by righties and not opposed by lefties…

  7. I’ m surprised conservatives warned about the folly of selling of the gold reserves – I wasn’t aware they thought assets were more productive in the State’s hands than those of private individuals.

  8. Mr b,

    Have you been following the comments in the Telegraph with regard to Cameron’s Libyan adventure.

    Almost to a man/woman/loon the respondents are negative towards the whole thing and that’s hardly a crowd I’d call leftist, whether from Harry’s Place or any other locale.

  9. Right and Left are statements of the loyalty experienced by a person – very similar to saying “Johnnybonk is a West Brom fan” – it tells you something about the loyalty that JB experiences inside his head, but nothing about anything that JB believes.

    Loyalty is the defining characteristic of left/right. Typical of the left is also great hostility and often out and out hatred of the right.

    Lefties don’t actually believe much of what they believe, the purpose is to be offensive to Tories, that’s why they cannot be reasoned with. Indeed the more you try to reason the more it convinces the leftie that you are indeed the enemy and that they are sticking it to you and good.

    Its not about truth and facts and reason, it more like the football terrace, its about who’s side are you on.

  10. Matthew,

    Concervatives can be either in favour or against selling stuff, it depends on the circumstances. With regard to Brown’s effort however, they were against selling a large chunk of Britain’s bullion reserves when the prices were low. They were also well aware of the disasterous effect pre-announcing the sales would have on a market highly sensitive to supply and demand.

  11. Remittance Man:

    You are exactly right but have (in my opinion) neglected a vital aspect of the bullion sales: they were intended (primarily, in my own view) to serve as a caution to all but the most determined
    safety-seekers: “We’ve got a whole lot of this stuff and any time we feel like it, we can dash all hope you might have of making a short-term profit, even one in your own lifetime. Serves ye right, ye of little faith (in us)!”

    Since 1971, there’s been no legal connection between national currencies and any real thing or “reserve,” presumptive ratios between various currencies theoretically determined by markets
    subject to interference through central banks’ interference by means of trade as well as monetary policy. The U.S. has a somewhat more clever method (called gold “leasing”) restraining price rise through increased availability, though it lacks the cautionary clout of the British dumping of tons. It’s all for the temporary respite, because, as everyone knows, “in the long run, we’re all dead.” It’s just the same juvenile game– “kicking the can down the road”– played by political authority nearly everywhere.

    When it will end, no one knows. How it will end
    is far worse, by magnitudes, than anyone can even possibly imagine.

  12. Matthew:

    See above. The low price was the object and the advance notice part of the project, that of cooling demand, suppressing price for quite some time.

  13. Mr Berman,

    If the chancellor responsible at the time were a genius I might agree with you. Sadly I don’t think he is (despite the hype) and thus the gold sale was simply a disaster created by a dolt.

  14. Guys, the government pre-announces everything it sells – bonds, shares, etc. It reports monthly reserve figures, so an attempt to keep it secret [well, just announce it to a few people, you can’t by definition sell something in total secrecy] wouldn’t have worked past the first few sales anyway.

    Also, conservatives seem to be saying that markets aren’t efficient. Were they so blessed with this foresight in 1980 when gold prices were higher than they would be for decades? If so why didn’t they tell Geoffrey Howe?

  15. Remittance Man:

    I’m ahead of you! Maybe not “way ahead,” but, most certainly, ahead.

    You think in “D’s”: “disaster created by a dolt.” And to which, we could add “dunce,” “dumbass,” “dimbulb,” (maybe even “deranged”).

    But, as I’ve already said, I’m ahead of you. I think in “C’s”: charlatans, crooks, con-men, and, of course conspirators (not to mention chancellors).

  16. JB: Loyalty is the defining characteristic of left/right. Typical of the left is also great hostility and often out and out hatred of the right.. As long as you add the logical corollary, “typical of the right… etc”, then yes, agree, which I think was my point.

    Matthew: well, yes, quite. I’m not sure how you can simultaneously think that Mrs Thatcher’s government asset sales at vastly below market price *as measured by markets at the time* were OK whilst hating Gordon’s that were at the prevailing market price – but as I’ve suggested above, we’re tribally much better at spotting when right-wingers hold really stupid and incompatible beliefs for ideological reasons than spotting it in ourselves, and vice versa.

    The “but he announced it in advance” point raises extra-special levels of stupid, even given cognitive dissonance, though. a) governments have to do that; b) it’s obviously right that governments have to do that, otherwise the few in the know could tell their mates and make a killing, as happens in various geographies which, not least as a result, have rather lower standards of living than the UK.

  17. “it’s obviously right that governments have to do that, otherwise the few in the know could tell their mates and make a killing, as happens in various geographies which, not least as a result, have rather lower standards of living than the UK.”

    So to avoid the possibility of somebody trading illegally and making a profit, the Government deliberately places itself at a disadvantage allowing everyone who buys from it to make a profit.

  18. No, no-one who bought from it made a profit – the sales were all at the market price (or within say 50c/oz ).

    Funny thing those market prices.

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