I believe that government can do things.

So the 0.2 Professor at City University tells us. And I don’t think anyone would disagree. I’ve seen government blow, what was it, £10 billion? on a medical records system that has never worked in any manner at all. We’ve also historical examples of governments herding 10 million or so people into death camps, 20 million odd into the Gulag. I don’t think that any of us doubt that government can do things.

Our questions are rather, firstly, can government do the things that we actually want to get done and secondly, is government an efficient manner of getting those things done?

The answer to both questions being “Yes, sometimes”. Perfectly happy with the idea that government runs the criminal legal system (it’s incorrect in a common law jurisdiction to insist that it really defines it), sets out a patent system to deal with the public goods nature of intellectual property and so on. Might argue with the specific methods or things they’re doing in those fields but the basic concept seems just fine.

It may not be a popular position but all the evidence I can see suggests it is true.

It’s actually the position of absolutely everybody except the anarcho-capitalists.

Break down what government actually does and you find high popularity ratings for quite a lot of it.

And then politicians spoil the show, deliberately.

There’s an answer to that of course. Get rid of the politicians.

Government can, and should, work. I explain how in my book The Courageous State.

Which is pretty much the conclusion of that book.

15 thoughts on “I believe that government can do things.”

  1. “I’ve seen government blow, what was it, £10 billion? on a medical records system that has never worked in any manner at all.”

    Whilst your general point is true, the above is not true. The original “vision” for the NHS programme changed rapidly [for government] once it was clear that it was unworkable and localised tactical solutions were implemented whilst the programme was re-aligned. Some/most of these systems are still running. The whole “single central DB” was a massive simplification of what the programme was actually about.

    Also, the burden of risk for these programmes were placed on the prime contractors, who burned through hundreds of millions as they tried to build the systems. BT had ~600 people working on the London part of the programme alone, with no revenue stream until they were up and running.

  2. Worth quoting this post at length – so Tim, in line with your policy on adding fuel to Murphy’s fatuous claim that he is ‘The leading economics blogger in the Uk’ based on volume of traffic.

    ‘First there was the issue of 424 announcements on the last day parliament was sitting this year. That was deliberate news overload in the hope that the government could be unaccountable for its action. To describe such behaviour as contemptuous of parliament, of democracy and so of us all is to be kind to it.’

    This is the same Murphy who is a passionate defender of the EU – an organisation whose primary legislative body consists of 28 unelected bureacrats? Whose issued directives run into the hundreds of thousands since the early 90s – almost none of which get any scrutiny and are pushed through with a wink and a nudge and even if subject to pushback get greeted with the response that we have to accept them anyway? Hypocritical doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    ‘Then I note the story in the Mail that notes research by Which? This suggests that, on average, callers to HMRC waited 38 minutes to be answered – double the wait found in a similar survey a year ago. Many waited more than an hour.’

    Murphy quoting the Mail? Whatever next? – this is a man who took delight in telling the Sun ‘he won’t write for the Murdoch press’. This is the man who advocates taxing private sector advertising out of existence in the UK yet sees no such limitation on the activites of ‘The Courageous State’ as either practical or desirable?

    ‘Some might say that this proves the need for a digital HMRC, but no it does not. It proves the need for more and better trained staff at HMRC. It is contemptuous not to provide people with the service they require when asking them to pay tax.’

    Renationalise the economy! Back to a six month wait for the phone line! Get in line with your ration books! To call this regressive is being generous – Other countries have simplifed their tax systems to facilitate easier collection of tax with reduced manpower – in the UK the Tolleys tax bible is entering its third volume. What is the ‘Great man’s’ response to points raised on this by innumerable well-informed commentators resident on this blog?

    ‘Your time here is over’

    ‘Candidly you are a troll’

    ‘I don’t permit time wasting – that’s your last contribution’

    I could go on but it’s arguably shooting fish in a barrel – nothing more than a monumental ego in search of a brain………

  3. Ritchie and his cohorts are all fucking communists.

    Ritchie:
    “In the meantime any professional adviser who in any way assists a person to avoid tax by exploiting the remaining states who have not cooperated with us will under new arrangements become personally liable for all tax not paid as a consequence, without limit.”

    Carol Wilcox
    “I would like to see a tax on living space over a certain threshold (say, 100 sq m)”

  4. Noel, I don’t see anything particularly objectionable in what Carol Wilcox said. If she’d phrased it differently as “I think there should be a zero rate of Council Tax for small homes,” would you still find it objectionable?

  5. So basically he wants tax advisors to be fined for being cleverer than him in figuring out how to help their clients comply with the law while arranging their business etc . in the most efficient manner tax minimising way to do so

  6. Ohh an can you please refer to him as a practicing professor which is his title and which is not the same as a ‘full’ professor

  7. @ Paul
    There is already a tax on living space above x sq ft because council tax is related to the notional value of your home.
    So Carol Wilcox is just ignorant.
    Where Noel finds it objectionable (or should do) is that it would impact large houses inhabited by poor people and not up-market flats occupied by the rich.
    When I was a kid, our window-cleaner lived in a five-bedroom council house (his wife was a Catholic) so Carol Wilcox would have required him to pay an extra tax. He once told me (I was a precocious child and seemed intelligent ‘cos I was good at maths) that he would have been better off on benefits than working (he had self-respect so he worked). I really hope that she is just ignorant.

  8. Bloke in CR

    You are not wrong – and yet according to our old friend ‘DBC Reed’ she’s ‘a very nice lady’ – speaks volumes…..

  9. Paul

    I think Noel Scope offered up two distinct examples of Ritchie’s totalitarianism, only one of which is from Carol Wilcox

    You haven’t expressed any opinion on the first of those; do you have one?

  10. Ironman, yes, I think it’s typical Ritchie nonsense. I didn’t express an opinion on it because I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to proactively express an opinion on every single thing which is posted on the internet.

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