State planning works: the Olympics prove it

POSTED ON AUGUST 22 2016

The Rio Olymoucs have finished. Team GB came second. At a cost reported to have exceeded £270 million the country’s athletes won 67 medals; a record.

But stunning though these personal achievements were they did not, as is widely recognised, happen by chance. The money bought the back and facilities that clearly made a massive difference.

State planning works!

Rick says:
August 22 2016 at 10:13 am
Can’t remember where but I read a better comparison of the Olympic success with grammar schools. Identify the gifted and talented, throw disproportionate resources at them, cheer their triumph whilst ignoring those left behind.

We think we are a nation of sporting excellence because a tiny number of the elite excel but the vast majority do little or no sport and have little or no access to it. It really is ironic that we are dominating in cycling yet compared with our northern European neighbours cycling rates of the general population are pitiful. Or that we have world record holders in the swimming pool whilst swimming for the general population becomes increasingly expensive and rare.

Reply
Richard Murphy says:
August 22 2016 at 10:19 am
I buy that

But we musn’t have state planning like grammar schools, must we? Investing in excellence would be terrible.

64 thoughts on “Blimey”

  1. My daughter benefited from the government’s Music and Dance Scholarship Scheme to attend specialist schools with similarly gifted elite musicians, now achieving in the larger music world. I cannot understand why intellectual abilities should not be similarly nurtured and challenged to the greater good.

  2. “the vast majority do little or no sport and have little or no access to it”: reminds me of the Labour local authorities that sold off so many sports fields, and the lefty teachers’ unions that boycotted after-hours sports at school. Eh? Eh?

  3. Few would disagree that state planning works when the thing being planned have a clear, unambiguous measure of success. In practise, however, most of the things we have the state (try to) plan are a cesspit of competing interests and tradeoffs and “success” looks a lot more like survival than winning a gold medal.

  4. Comecon countries used to be good at getting Olympic medals but at not much else so, yes, state planning works at a certain level.

  5. Of course, this only works if you accept that some people are just better than others at doing certain things and need to be encouraged and rewarded for these special skills.

    If everyone had the skill set to run 100m under 10 seconds or everyone had the skill set to run a multi-national business then you wouldn’t need to reward them so highly.

  6. @TMB
    The Comecons were certainly great at state-sponsored chemical enhancement programs.

    ” At a cost reported to have exceeded £270 million the country’s athletes won 67 medals”.

    So, just over 4 million quid spent per medal so that a handful of physically gifted people have the limelight for a short period of time – paid for by single working mothers.

    “State planning works!”

  7. Whet do you fuckng start with this shit?

    Ooh state planning and success! Well, the USA won with no state planning. Ah, but their population is bigger! But China finished behind us, with state planning and a gargantuan population. Um…

    There has been a constant stream of this progressive diorrhea on Twitter over the past few days. A child can refute it. And of course no one mentions the absolutely ruthless pruning which goes with it. Your sport didn’t win any medals? Oh dear, no more funding. It’s hilarious to see Leftists advocating a system based on ruthless purging of failure.

    “The vast majority do little or no sport and have little or no access to it”

    What the fuck? Every town on the country has a wide range of sports clubs, none of which to my knowledge have “no blacks no dogs no Irish” signs up. In fact, many clubs are dying on their arse and are desperate for members. Football clubs, cricket, running, cycling. Fucking LOADS. And if you don’t want to join a club, fine. Buy a cheap pair of trainers and run on the many pavements kindly provided by your local council.

    The simple fact is that the vast majority of those who don’t take part in sport do so because they don’t want to. But this involves free choice, and the Richies of this world simply don’t understand that individuals have free agency, so invent absurd theories of deliberate exclusion.

  8. The simple fact is that the vast majority of those who don’t take part in sport do so because they don’t want to.

    This. We also have more free time and disposable income than at any other time in history, and the barriers to entry are getting lower and lower.

  9. FREE choice? No, we can’t have that.

    Your money, your lives, your very souls are property of the Corajus State.

    Heil!

  10. @Rob

    ‘The simple fact is that the vast majority of those who don’t take part in sport do so because they don’t want to.’

    My entire childhood was spent running around with a cricket bat/football/gun or climbing trees and cliffs or swimming or cycling. Mostly I am sure I did this because teenage girls didn’t dish out blowjobs quite so readily back then, drugs were not so easy to come by and there was no such thing as computers. As it happens, I’m glad I was born when I was but I do not consider it my business to force other people of a different generation to live as I did, any more than my parents and grandparents tried to enforce rationing and air raids on us, and once again I am at a fucking utter loss to see why other people think it’s any of their business to do this either.

  11. This has been a beauty of a post from Ritchie. He starts by saluting the success and of course the state planning g that caused it. Then, prompted of course, he moves on the decry the regressive nature of the funding g from the lottery(!!). Then he denounces it all as it is only funding for the elites etc etc.

    I’ve said it before but he can’t even hold a consistent position within a single post.

  12. But of course the real testament to Central Planning is the the 2012 legacy. Oh yes! Because only central planners such as Tessa Jowell l, Ken Livingstone and Seb Coe could insist, INSIST, on the legacy being an olympic stadium that must be ready to host athletics events that will never need the stadium’s capacity, refusing to accept that only football could provide the commercial weight to deliver a genuine secure legacy. Thus they rejected the viable bid from Tottenham Hotspur (and I am most definitely not a Spurs fan) that would have been paid for by the club. Instead they have paid all of West Ham’s costs, given it a stadium effectively free of charge provided they leave it not fit for purpose as a football stadium. And then there is the EU Commission, which is more than happy not to notice blatant State Aid if it’s a Courageous State style project for the self-glory of the state.

  13. @Ironman
    Yup, he can’t hold a consistent position even within the same post, and he also let drop a classic ‘tell’ for cognitive dissonance on his reply to Julian Jessop in the comments.

    When a pundit or stranger on the Internet starts a comment with “Wow,” as if shocked by an opinion, that is a tell for cognitive dissonance. That is anger disconnected from reason. People who have reasons for disagreeing offer them right away, because doing so is the strongest counter-argument. “Wow” usually indicates you are feeling persuasion that violates your self-image as a person with smart opinions.

  14. In sports it is relatively simple to work out who to fund.

    Criteria:

    1) People who do well at cadet level (U17)
    2) People who do well at Junior level (U18)
    3) People who do well at youth level (U21)
    4) People who do well at the Student Olympiads
    5) People doing well at senior international level (World Cups, Grand Prix, European Championships)
    6) Sports bodies that have created a pipeline so that they consistently do well at the above.

    Cycling has become a major sport in the UK thanks to the dictators who run it and have achieved 6).

    In most things, it is pretty difficult to work out whether you have a real prospect, but in sport if you have a load of world cadet champions in a row, who go onto success at junior and youth level, you are probably on a winner.

  15. “the vast majority do little or no sport and have little or no access to it”

    Bollocks, on the ‘no access’ bit. Sports clubs the country over are crying out for people to get involved. Local cricket clubs I have contacts with are struggling to put teams out because the youth aren’t interested. Rugby is the same, and even the mighty god of football has less local interest than it used to. There are more opportunities to get involved with sports than there have ever been, but people (particularly the young) just aren’t interested. We are moving to the American sport model – the young play sport at school, the uber-talented get cherry picked into a professional setup at early ages, if you don’t make it as a pro then you become armchair viewer fodder for the professional game. No one slogs their guts out in amateur sport on wet and windy Saturday afternoons for the love of the game any more, they sit on the sofa and watch the pros while eating fast food, drinking beer and having adverts beamed at them. Thats the economic model sport works to nowadays.

  16. PeteC

    Wow! Raw abuse dressed up a philosophical observation; Ritchie’s narcissism is completely unchecked these days isn’t it.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    “So, just over 4 million quid spent per medal so that a handful of physically gifted people have the limelight for a short period of time – paid for by single working mothers.”
    As most of the funding came from lottery grants if it was paid by single working mothers they did so voluntarily.

  18. “As most of the funding came from lottery grants if it was paid by single working mothers they did so voluntarily.”
    In which case, fair enough 🙂

  19. Bloke in North Dorset

    There is no way that we would have got so many medals if the State had been involved, other than channelling Lottery funds to UK Sport who are brutal in demanding success if funding is to continue.

    The State may or may not be on a part with the private sector when it comes to picking winners, but the problem isn’t with winners its with those who don’t win.

    I’m pretty sure that anyone who doesn’t meet the exacting standards of the Olympic cycling coaches, for example, would be off the team like a shot, but if the State were involved there would be a need to find them a place, especially if they were from an ethnic minority. Then there would be a need to make sure that marginal constituencies benefited and that there were plenty of sinecures for failed politicians and senior civil servants, which would have drained most of the money anyway.

    Imagine the fuss if we’d spent £270m and not won 60-odd medals?

  20. @Interested
    “(When I was young, I played sports because) teenage girls didn’t dish out blowjobs quite so readily back then”

    I never got into sports, as times had changed between your teenage years and mine.
    Je ne regret rein.

  21. ken, I’ve got an even simpler method to work out who to fund:

    None.

    BiND, sure buying a lottery ticket’s voluntary; so’s buying beer* – if the duty from that had been directed at a circus, would you still say you were funding iit voluntarily?

    *insert voluntary purchase of choice.

  22. Ljh
    August 22, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    . I cannot understand why intellectual abilities should not be similarly nurtured and challenged to the greater good.

    Who’s determining the greater good? Because there are a lot of people out there who would tell you that deliberately holding back the talented and pushing forth the mediocre is in the interests of the ‘greater good’.

    In the end, only by watching the people in aggregate – by putting their own resources on the line – can you see what the greater good *was*. You can never predict it beforehand.

    If you could, socialism would work.

  23. No it isn’t; it is because I have serious delusions of being a super hero. So you will understand name-calling based upon this (Rusty etc) and suggestions of all-round campness really hurt my feelings.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    “BiND, sure buying a lottery ticket’s voluntary; so’s buying beer* – if the duty from that had been directed at a circus, would you still say you were funding iit voluntarily?”

    Fair point, but the National Lottery is a hypothecated tax so I can withdraw. Beer tax isn’t hypothocated but if it was going to a circus I’d be on to my MP pdq.

  25. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Who cares? What did we win in? Women’s rowing? Velodrome cycling? Who cares? Answer: not many people, or they’d be driving hideous Bentleys like premier league footballers, or at least doing ads for veggie food like Mo Farah.

    When are people going to wake up to the fact that winning a gold outside athletics is about as competitive as winning Minor League cricket. Of course you win these golds if you throw a few million at them. How many Nigerians and Jamaicans, or even kids from Greece are doing dressage? Not many because it’s very expensive and the prizes are almost non-existent.

    You want to find the best sports people in the world? Follow the money. It’s why the long jump distances are so poor now. Kids who can run fast become running backs for an NFL team.

  26. BF

    You need a side-kick like any self-respecting superhero and I believe Limpboy is looking for a gig.

    (Personally I blame excessive use of red kryptonite in his case.)

  27. ironman

    Instead they have paid all of West Ham’s costs, given it a stadium effectively free of charge provided they leave it not fit for purpose as a football stadium.

    Worse than that they paid for the conversion to a football stadium, then West Ham who only lease the stadium for certain days started to lay down the law as to who else could use it and refused to groundshare with Leyton Orient who being nearer to the ground had a better claim.
    All of which was trumped by Bojo claiming the deal was a “good one” for London, a classic case of ‘other peoples money’.

    And Bloke in Wiltshire has missed the point, athletics should beand is the hub of the Olympics, but athletics fails to draw the crowds, see above with stadium, and nobody gives a toss about triple jumpers, when did you last bump into one or numerous other strange field sports that are the preserve of the obese and the seven foot tall brigade, plus athletics currently couldn’t run a whelk stall re drugs control or management as the IOC or IAAF Lord I see nothing wrong Coe has shown.

  28. BiND, the National Lottery is the most regressive tax that doesn’t involve ‘climate’; if they hypothecated beer duty for the Olympic games – which would at least hint at a sense of humour – you could indeed forego, but I still doubt you’d be so sanguine as you are about the lottery.

    I just find it very, very strange that government involved itself in this. That it was John ‘Cones Hotline’ Major makes sense, but why? What’s it got to do with them?

  29. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Wiggiatlarge,

    Athletics is in decline, but it still draws the crowds more than anything else at the Olympics. 25000 people don’t turn out for the world rowing championships.

  30. The points about the West Ham rip off are

    i) it was done with our money.
    Ii) the otger London clubs and indeed my own club Liverpool have been fucked good n hard. They are businesses competing in the market pkace; it does matter.
    iii) public money gets shoved where private capital would never have been allocated.

  31. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Nemo,

    I’ve no idea. I’ve been mostly watching Netflix, and don’t watch the news. If I see even a moment of Clare Balding hyping up this nonsense, I flick over.

  32. As most of the funding came from lottery grants if it was paid by STUPID PEOPLE. Or, at least, them’s the odds.

  33. £270 million? I’ll give you 67 bits of metal for half the price, and I’ll throw in 2 weeks TV footage of sporting events.

  34. @ BiW
    “When are people going to wake up to the fact that winning a gold outside athletics is about as competitive as winning Minor League cricket.”
    There is NOTHING as competitive as boxing just nothing. Well, nothing honest. Ask any boxer./
    I gave up my dreams of the Olympics 50 years ago (our club heavyweight could outpoint me without ever letting fly with a full-powered punch) but every bout was at the limit of honest competition [OK: nearly every: in one bout I stepped back (twice) expecting to referee to stop it because I didn’t want to unnecessarily hurt the lad]

  35. The people who computed £4m per medal have only gone and got their arithmetic wrong and ignored the counterfactual. God I like that word. The way you calculate it is amount spent divided by ( medals actually won – medals that would have been won ).

    So £270million / ( 67 Rio – 15 Atlanta ) = £5.2 million per medal.

  36. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Yes, we can be sure that our lords and masters have determined that this funding must come from somewhere, so better it come from people unable to calculate an expected value.

  37. Bloke in Wiltshire

    John77,

    Do boxers of good quality still bother with the Olympics? If so, yes. I’ll give you boxing. Good money if you’re excellent at it.

  38. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Andrew Carey,

    Even that’s not quite right. You have to remember that at the time of Atlanta you still had leftover effects of communism. And since then, they’ve added more events for rich countries to win.

  39. Buying a lottery ticket is rational if you get £1.11 of pleasure thinking about the possibility of winning on a £2 ticket to go with the 90p of expected return.

    And buying Olympic medals at 10p per medal per head is rational if the average person gets more than 10p worth of patriotic satisfaction out of it.

  40. @:BiW
    Ever heard of Cassius Clay?
    ASnthony Jopshua, the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight Champion is now recognised as world professional heavyweight champion by the IBF (but not by Tyson Fury)

  41. @:SJW
    Well, I can afford to pay more than one part in 65 million of the cost of supporting our olympic contenders. The only guy I know didn’t get a medal and I didn’t expect him to do so (I hoped that he would but GB just isn’t good enough).
    Do I care about the cost? No
    Should I? That is a very different question. I think that you are right, most citizens are happy to pay a few £ or pence to witness “success” in the Olympics

  42. SJW, those two ifs are doing a lot of work there, but not enough to roll that log: even if you’ve got some average person for whom the return’s rational, unless everyone’s average then there are people who are not getting patriotic satisfaction out of it, and the worth to the average person must increase commensurately to balance your sums. The moral equation will never balance.

  43. @ Nemo
    Your assumption that SJW is fallacious is itself a fallacy. Some of us are quite happy to fund potential Olympians, As long as guys like me cheerfully pay enough tax to fund the Olympic training programm the moral erquation balances.

  44. Nemo,

    What irritates me is the bullshit support. ‘Oh, did you see we won in the hockey’. Now, if that person loves hockey, fair enough, but most of it is just feigning interest. They’d be just as happy if you canned it so that they could post on Facebook how upset they are, linking to a petition to show how virtuous they are.

  45. John77,

    Well yes, but I don’t follow boxing now. It’s mostly pay-per-view, isn’t it? I have no idea. But as they go pro, it seems like it’s competitive.

  46. I see he is completely dismissing Sky’s role in British Cycling’s success.

    Let’s see how well we do once all our best riders have to get contracts with French pro teams who won’t be at all interested in letting them train for the Olympics.

    However you look at it Sky bankrolled British cycling.

    Without a major sponsor willing to take on the same role as Sky the next Olympics team will be made up of pro riders too knackered to race and kids using it as an advert to get a pro ride.

  47. john77, I think you have a category error talking of my “assumptions”: my analysis requires no extraneous data; the maths speaks for itself – though I may be guilty of the high-end Dunning Kruger corollary by phrasing it so simply – and your willingness to see your tax used so wouldn’t balance the moral equation; you’re taxed at the same rates as someone less willing than yourself. Now if you were to express your commitment via a bonus payment to HMRC you might have a point. If it were tax-funded at all, of course.

  48. BiWilts, I’ve just read that ‘Mo’ Farah’s a shoo-in for a knighthood – for running! It makes me even more determined to refuse a knighthood, after I’ve turned down a supermodel.

  49. Bloke inside the M25

    To get to Tokyo UK Sports will now spend way more £270M as they did so well this time. Sadly unless Russia is banned again I am afraid that we will get no where near the same number of medal so BiND shall we start making a fuss now. The money could be spent on something useful such as HS2 or a peerage for Murphy.

  50. @ Nemo,
    A few years ago a former Commonwealth Gold Medallist organised an interesting race so I donated a useful multiple of the entry fee – I found his gratitude mildly embarassing.
    That race and (as far as I know) the sport as a whole got nothing from HMRC. I limit my donations, and make them irregular. so that there is no chance that anyone will think that they depend upon me.
    Try reading my previous post without your blinkers.I am quite willing to fund my sport without HMRC as well as the virtually invisile cost of the Olympics through my taxes.

  51. Ironman,
    The superhero bit I can understand, after all I style myself after Mr Hyde, but Tony Stark is a dick.

  52. ASnthony Jopshua, the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight Champion is now recognised as world professional heavyweight champion by the IBF (but not by Tyson Fury)

    And Roy Jones junior. Quite a few champion pro boxers won medals at the olympics (or, in Jones’ case, were robbed by bent judges).

  53. john77, first it was “assumptions”, now it’s “blinkers”? For a person who seems unable to grasp the most simple point you sure are quick to denigrate. I’m not sure it can be made simple enough for one such as yourself, but here goes: the “moral equation” to which I refer is the taking of a person’s money so that they are made to unwillingly fund this circus. Your original words:

    As long as guys like me cheerfully pay enough tax to fund the Olympic training programm the moral erquation balances.

    You introduced tax to the conversation. Your bunging a few quid here and there is utterly irrelevant. Your willingness to see your tax money used for such purposes would only be relevant if you were to find some way of relieving the tax burden of those unwilling to see their tax used for such purposes; making a voluntary contribution to the taxman is the only way to do so. It would have to be millions, if TeamGB was tax-funded.

    As I believe TeamGB is lottery-funded I can’t see any mechanism by which you could theoretically balance this moral equation.

    Has any of this has seeped in?

  54. Hollywood could use that money to produce real humdinger stuff with good looking actors and the liker.
    And make money from it all.
    Why leave the Olympics to amateurs.

  55. Bloke in North Dorset

    Bloke inside the M25
    August 22, 2016 at 11:33 pm
    To get to Tokyo UK Sports will now spend way more £270M as they did so well this time. Sadly unless Russia is banned again I am afraid that we will get no where near the same number of medal so BiND shall we start making a fuss now. The money could be spent on something useful such as HS2 or a peerage for Murphy.

    As the £270m is a hypothecated voluntary tax I don’t see the problem. If it had come out of general taxation I’d be marching with pitchforks.

    As for HS2, if that money has to be spent I’d rather it when on sport than HS2, but that’s a separate discussion.

    As for any of the medallists getting gongs, that’s just wrong on so many levels. I’m happy that the likes of Ian Botham got a K, but that was for using his fame to raise awareness of, and money for, childhood leukaemia and he did that in his own time.

    Now that we have professionalised Olympic sports giving them gongs is on a par with civil servants getting one for doing their job.

  56. BiND,

    As the £270m is a hypothecated voluntary tax on something that doesn’t interest me I don’t see the problem.

    FTFY

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