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The Courageous State in a nutshell

whilst another part lives in aw of choice and the market which people quite clearly do not want or need

That\’s right! The citizenry don\’t want any of the markets or choice stuff at all. They\’re just grateful for whatever it is that the State decides should be thrown their way.

An appealing vision, isn\’t it?

35 thoughts on “The Courageous State in a nutshell”

  1. Yes. This being famously reduced to “I’m too dim (in the morning) to chose between different coffee offerings therefore there must be no more than one sort of coffee offered,” by one of the more than normally publicly stupid of the commentariat?

    For once, not Ritchie. But one of his legion of fellow travellers.

  2. Surreptitious Evil

    But the most scary bit of that rant is that he might, just, possibly, believe that he is in any way a champion or even a mild proponent of:

    equality for all before the law.

    Unless, by “the law”, he really means “what ever I and my cronies decide on a minute by minute basis.”

  3. @ SE

    Those who believe in equality have nothing to fear, but those who don’t believe in equality (e.g. neoliberals) will, of course, not be entitled to benefit from it.

    And nor should they


  4. I suppose if every individual’s rights are subject to the “needs” of the Collective, so that they in fact have no rights, then yes, we are indeed all equal before the Law.

  5. Up to a point. I’d like my choice of hospital, school, nursing home, etc. What I don’t need is my choice of gas or electricity supplier, since they all supply the exact same product at the same time and location. The only variable is the length of time I spend waiting on the phone when I call them.

    If the pro-market reformers could sort out that particularly poor example of markets & choice, then people might be better prepared to believe in markets.

  6. And yes, the “morning coffee” essay was perhaps the bogosphere’s (unintentionally) finest moment.

  7. @ Andrew M

    Gas and electricity suppliers offer different prices, they offer dual tariffs, they have fuzzy green options for people interested in such things. They all do online billing and direct-debit discounts now, but that was a differentiator a while back.

    The railways are a far better example of non-choice. If I want to get a train from Nottingham to London then I have to get an East Midlands train.. and will do until and unless the government decides to award the tender to someone else.

  8. Wasn’t the coffee one Dr Eoin?

    And didn’t he manage to make it even better by complaining that he didn’t like the coffee he was given?

  9. “What I don’t need is my choice of gas or electricity supplier, since they all supply the exact same product at the same time and location.”

    Ah, the well known ‘I don’t want something, so it can safely be abolished’ argument.

    Has it ever occurred to you that you are not the centre of the universe, and that there exists this strange thing called ‘other people’ who (odd I know, but go with me) may want something different to what you want? And that while you may not see any advantage in there being 27000 different tariffs for gas and electricity some of those ‘other people’ out there just might? And that rather than abolishing choice for all those ‘other people’ you could just exercise your choice by the simple method of picking one supplier at random and sticking with them til the day you die? The effect being pretty much the same as having one State provided (or sanctioned) choice?

  10. It sounds like Murphy would be quite at home in Zimbabwe – a flagship ‘courageous state’ taken to its logical conclusion.

  11. Jim,
    “picking one supplier at random … the effect being pretty much the same as having one State provided”

    You’re missing the point. I’m quite happy for there to be a market, as long as the cost of the market (in time & effort) is less than the savings made by having such a market. The fact that 60% of consumers have never changed energy supplier is indicative of a broken market. Ofgem obviously agrees, since they’ve published a new set of regulations (to come into force in December 2013) which hopefully will go some way to addressing the problems.

    The energy market is a very simple market (especially compared with healthcare or education), and one of the most visible. If we’re to have any success in pushing for markets & choice in other areas, we have to at least get this one right.

  12. For once he didn’t seem inclined to answer back when I informed him I had first-hand experience of Zimbabwe.
    That’s my real objection to him: his shit actually happens in some places. It’s real and it’s Hell.

  13. News just in:

    Worstall is Mugabe

    If they cannot stomach it, they can go and hang,

    After their death, even dogs will not have their bodies for meat. They will sniff at their flesh, and pass on

    sirrsly [cock], get a grip

  14. “I’m quite happy for there to be a market, as long as the cost of the market (in time & effort) is less than the savings made by having such a market”

    And what if your assessment of the amount of time and effort required to access said market in gas & electric is greater than any savings you might gain by using it? Are the rest of us therefore to be denied the opportunity to make our own assessments of whether the benefits are worth the hassle involved, or not? Or is your assessment the only one that matters here? Andrew M has decreed that the market in gas & electric isn’t worth the hassle, henceforth everyone will have what he says they can have, and no more.

    Look I’m one of the 60% who hasn’t changed suppliers. Why? Because my assessment of the benefits of changing suppliers are outweighed by the hassle factor. I’m lucky enough to be wealthy enough not to have to worry about paying my bills. An extra £25 makes no difference to me. Time and ease of use are more valuable to me that a few quid. But millions aren’t in the same position, and need every penny they can muster. Your attitude condemns them to pay more for their gas and electric just because you can’t be bothered to change for £25 (or whatever). What a wonderful concept. The poor must pay more because all that choice is just too much bother for you to deal with.

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  16. Surreptitious Evil

    Seriously? Tim Worstall is, or is even vaguely comparable with Robert Mugabe?

    You can just imagine Arnald, high on bad weed, wading the shallows of the Channel, looking for sharks to bound over.

  17. Just saying that they say the same things about people they don’t like. Comparing Murphy to Mugabe is just as guileless.

  18. Surreptitious Evil

    I see. In Arnald-world, comparing “the Courageous State” to Zimbabwe is identical to comparing Murphy to Mugabe.

    This must be why I’m so confused by his pronouncements. My reality conflicts with his fantasy.

    Oh, and what’s guilelessness got to do with anything? It’s not a synonym for ludicrous.

  19. sam

    ne nourrisez pas le troll, mon vieux.

    I was hardly trolling, anyway. What you probably wanted to mean was to ask SE to stop being such a knob.

    does that count?

  20. Jim –

    I do wish you’d read what I wrote before hitting reply. I’m not advocating a single supplier: I’m pro-market.

    But it has to be a good market. Under the current system, the big six energy companies have the market sewn up. That’s Ofgem’s assessment, not mine. Even you agree that it’s too much hassle to shop around, so you agree that the market isn’t functioning. Yet bizarrely you’d like to continue to be shafted. Oh and it’s more like £200 a year you’d stand to save if you switched, not £25. That’ll buy some nice Christmas presents for the family. You’re welcome.

    We’re all in favour of markets (otherwise we wouldn’t be reading Tim’s website), but it’s an uphill struggle trying to convince the rest of the population when we can’t even design a decent energy market.

  21. So, Surreptitious Evil is a knob is he? Seriously, all joking apart, do you really expect people to take you seriously if you write things like that?

  22. I wonder how Arsenald sees his screen to type all his nonsense with Richard Murphy’s balls in the way.

  23. I’m not sure that we have a functioning gas and electric market – as has been noted, it’s somewhat of a stitch up between the big six, and I’m not sure offgen are making it any better either.

    I would suggest the main problem with these markets is barriers to entry – i.e. if I want to become an electric supplier, the hoops I have to jump through are such as to require me to have near unlimited capital – and that before I can supply a single customer.

    Offgen have made it all worse by insisting on each supplier only having a few packages – given any sane person just uses an online checker to find the best deal based on their usage, in practice, it’s just meant most people have ended up on less good deals.

    Incidentally, changing suppliers is dead easy and only takes about 20mins, all done online – people who can’t be bothered changing are often getting stiffed for several hundred quid for the sake of twenty mins worth of effort. Such people don’t have my sympathy – they only have themselves to blame.

  24. For myself, the major energy suppliers seem to be playing hop-skip-and-jump with energy prices to devalue the benefit of switching suppliers.

    Smells more like a cosy cartel to me.

    No evidence though.

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