The national attempts to source PPE have not been so successful, with the reliance upon central bureaucracy probably being the reason. As Friedrich Hayek pointed out, all knowledge is local. Things are best done by people who know what they’re doing.

When considering medical equipment we can even identify who those people are. We have a number of purchasing managers employed, and a number of sales managers. They are the experts in what is needed and what it is possible to supply. If they talk to each other then knowledge meets knowledge, and that’s the best chance of producing a solution. As opposed to the idea of everything being filtered through a bureaucracy that lacks
the essential information.

Given official intransigence, it is Edmund Burke’s little platoons who save the day. The website PPE Exchange has been cobbled together by the publicly minded, as distinct from the publicly employed, and does just what it says on the tin: it is an exchange for these necessaries, and one that claims to have two billion pieces of equipment available at time of writing.

The correct governmental solution to many problems is less of it, not more. Who knows, trusting the people might even catch on as an idea.

19 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. The Ppeexchange website seems to have been completely ignored by the bbc led media as it goes against their narrative of plucky health workers clad in bin bags and wearing re-used masks.

    Presumably these are not the health workers dancing in a never-ending stream of Tik Tok and similar videos as their scrubs always appear immaculate.

  2. Bloke near Worcester

    Any chance we might be able to read the linked article at some point without having to cross the Times’ palm with silver?

  3. I’m not really sure what the rules here are. It’s definitely Times copyright. And they do allow the writer to reproduce on a blog. But probably best to give them a day or two of really, really, owning it given they’ve just paid for it…..

  4. Can’t access the whole article, so I may miss these points is they’re made there:

    1) It’s commonplace for British surljaz to dip into their pay to furnish kit the gubmint is either too miserly to provide or which, being provided, is rubbish.

    2) Can we say whether the kit provided by this little platoon will not be rejected for elfnsafedee reasons?

  5. I’ve set up a volunteer-staffed cottage industry to make visors. We’ve given some of the first ones to a care home, a prison, and our local hospital. One of our hospital contacts described them as ‘perfect’.

    We donate our time, and we financed a pump-priming first batch, but we can’t afford to keep on shelling out from our own pockets for materials. So we applied to our town’s council-run coronavirus emergency fund.

    They turned us down, on the grounds that schools and hospitals will decline our visors because they’re not CE marked, and staff have a ‘right’ to insist on CE marking.

  6. They turned us down, on the grounds that schools and hospitals will decline our visors because they’re not CE marked, and staff have a ‘right’ to insist on CE marking.

    Well then, fuck’em and let’s not hear any further complaints from the usual suspects about shortages.

  7. “Well then, fuck’em and let’s not hear any further complaints from the usual suspects about shortages.”

    I heard that posties were worried about having to stand near each other in sorting offices for several hours each day, and the management had refused to provide PPE.

    So I emailed the Communication Workers’ Union. Three times.

    They didn’t reply.

  8. Surreptitious Evil

    It’s commonplace for British surljaz to dip into their pay to furnish kit the gubmint is either too miserly to provide or which, being provided, is rubbish.

    That quote is at least a decade away from the last time it was true. The endless trips out to rat (and bomb) infested deserts changed things quite drastically.

    Anything I’ve bought for myself recently has been either pongo-bling or stuff, as a Reservist, I would be issued if they thought I needed it (or if I mobilised) but it’s just more convenient to have my own for MATTS (military skills training and testing) than relying on the small heap of loan kit that is usually sized for six footers.

  9. ‘The correct governmental solution to many problems is less of it, not more.’

    “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” – Ronaldus Magnus, 1981

  10. Thanks for the update, Mr Evil.

    I am indeed well over a decade out of touch. Pleased to hear things have improved.

  11. Dear Mr Worstall

    “The correct governmental solution to many problems is less of it, not more.”

    The whole point of government is to be the problem, for which of course the only solution is more government.

    DP

  12. @CJ Nerd

    See youtube for turning empty clear plastic bottles into visors

    Anyway, there’s no shortage. Nissan oop North repurposed and churned them out, like F1 Project Pitlane found: waste of time & money

  13. “See youtube for turning empty clear plastic bottles into visors”

    One of our first prototypes used that. We’re very focused on production without the scarce materials being used by the glamorous 3D printer brigade.

    The problem with plastic bottles is the optical quality- seeing through them is really rubbish.

    “Anyway, there’s no shortage. Nissan oop North repurposed and churned them out”

    Some companies and lots of volunteers. And a lot of effort was misdirected by the media narrative that there was a massive shortage. Now it seems that there may be oversupply. I’m now hesitating over whether or not to place an order for materials to make 200 more.

    “like F1 Project Pitlane found: waste of time & money”

    In hindsight, yes. But people do what they do at the time, with what’s known at the time. I’ve never had a house fire, but the people who made my fire extinguishers did not labour in vain.

  14. I read your article in The Times on May 11 and I had held back on issuing my comments on the Newman cartoon of 10 May to give Boris the benefit of the doubt. However, it is now totally appropriate and it exemplifies my military service experience in April 1982 at Naval HQ Northwood, as one of many Admiral Brown’s Lt Cdr’s, and especially when my civil service logistics colleague alongside me, received phone calls from the MOD/No.10 at 0400, and having established that it had to be referred to me in military logistics, would hand the phone over to me with his hand firmly over the mouth piece, saying ‘sotto voce’: “be careful what you say – it’s the ‘w**k tank’ for you!!”……..He was right then and 38 years later in the current situation our current leader(s) are drowning in it!! How we ordered 400 AIM9L sidewinders is another story.

  15. Further to my last I am contemplating writing a book regarding the FIW in 1982 and specifically the logistics stories that ring true in our current situation. I was also involved as a Spanish interpreter with the Argentine POWs which was more of a ‘lost in translation’ event but nonetheless amusing and lesson teaching. Would welcome some information about Adm Brown’s involvement, which you quote, but I had not been fully aware of.

  16. @CJ Nerd

    I’m now hesitating over whether or not to place an order for materials to make 200 more

    Good move. Visors are low-tech and relatively easy to re-purpose and mass produce – are they acrylic, polycarb?

    FFP3/N95 Face masks not so easy, sourcing the material alone probably difficult

    @John Hart
    Good place to ask about Adm Brown’s involvement: Arrse
    https://www.arrse.co.uk/community/forums/

  17. Hart, hard to believe it’s been 38 years.

    For some reason, I think back to Stephen Ambrose saying that American troops guarding German POWs realized they had more in common with them than with the British (!).

    Were the Argentine POWs just people?

  18. @Gamecock

    Argentinian troops were mostly conscripts and iirc thankful they were PoWs and out of fight

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