Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Monday March 03 2008

imageI have been reading Theodore Dalrymple’s Our Culture, What’s Left Of It.

I particularly liked the essay called “The Uses of Corruption”, which can, I am glad to report, be read online, here.

This is about the contrasting fortunes of Britain and Italy since the war.  Italy has corruption, and the consequent ingrained knowledge amongst all of its people that if they want something, they’d better arrange it for themselves.  Britain has uncorrupt public officials promising, persuasively, to look after everything for anyone who is in any sort of trouble, and the consequent infantilisation and demoralisation of that vast lower tranche of the population supposedly in need of such help.  They don’t arrange anything for themselves, but just sit about waiting for the government to sort everything out for them.  Italy has gone from ruin to riches, Britain from one kind of ruin to another.

I also found this very interesting.

And I’ve just begun reading this.  I haven’t yet read this, but I will read it very soon.

Hmmm....  Fifth largest economy in the world…

Per Capita income $45,000.00 ....

No Berlusconi (a member of the P2 Masonic Lodge which organized the “Reds and Blacks” terrorism campaign aimed at destroying Italian constitutional governance); no Mafia; yeah, some ‘ruin’…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy

Compare and contrast…

It must be strange, living in a country you know little or nothing about… >:-}

Regards,

Tony Hollick

Posted by Tony Hollick on 04 March 2008

One thing is that Italy’s economy has done very badly in the last decade, and (in terms of growth at least) Britain has done quite well. This might be about to change, but recent history would suggest that having become a rich country, Italy hit a wall or a limit as to how far it could grow, and that it is having an immensely hard time getting past this. The relative position of Italy and Britain has changed since Dalrymple wrote the article. And in truth I think it was written on the basis of past perceptions rather than what was really accurate when he wrote it.

The other side of corruption is that in Italy people will be nice to you on a personal basis, but fundamentally you cannot trust anyone. Last time I was there a toll collecctor shortchanged me at a toll booth. You cannot buy a summer home in much of Italy without paying protection money to prevent it from burning down when you are not there. And you cannot function in such a society without becoming morally compromised by doing so. This is a big price to pay.

I think Dalrymple is very clear eyed when diagnosing what ails Britain, but he is rather blind to what is good, and has a tendency to sometimes see other places through rose coloured glasses. Unfortunately, also, he is not very economically literate.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 04 March 2008

Last time I was there a toll collecctor shortchanged me at a toll booth.

All the Italian toll booths I’ve experienced have been automated. They even bit one a hearty if somewhat electronic “arrivederci” as you go.

Posted by Blognor Regis on 04 March 2008

Michael Jennings:

Sure, I think that Dalrymple is viewing life in Italy through rose-coloured glasses.  But The ‘take’ on life in Britain is wildly skewed.  Brian over-eggs the pudding, but to say that:

“ Britain has uncorrupt public officials promising, persuasively, to look after everything for anyone who is in any sort of trouble, and the consequent infantilisation and demoralisation of that vast lower tranche of the population supposedly in need of such help.  They don’t arrange anything for themselves, but just sit about waiting for the government to sort everything out for them.”

is exactly the sort of sentiment that wiser minds in the carriage-owning classes used to have in mind when they welcomed the jostling 0f carriages by passers-by registering protests at the foolish and dangerous ostentation of the rich.

Just about everyone in “that vast lower tranche” (shades of Untermenschen!) understands that waiting for the State to provide it is hardly the fastest way to get something.

The simple fact is that Thatcher and her crew set out as a matter of policy to sharpen the social pyramid, immiserating those at the base as part of the price for elevating the “upper echelons.”

When Blair took over, I asked Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute if “New Labour” was “Thatcherism with a human face.”

He replied: “No—just plain Thatcherism: our job is to liberalize it.”

Brian’s (and Dalrymple’s) snobby-sounding Social Darwinism is no way to achieve that objective.

Regards,

Tony Hollick

Posted by Tony Hollick on 05 March 2008

Michael Jennings is correct that forcing citizens to act illegally if they are to live like human beings inevitably corrupts them and makes them more tolerant of crime.  In italy, for example, you are committing a crime, i.e., abetting tax evasion, if you buy an article for cash at a shop and leave without a receipt because you are enabling the shopkeeper to evade taxes on the profit from the sale.  It is such an ordeal to do things legally in Italy that practically the entire population does some business on the black market, up to and including buying a house.  You can buy a house which was built without a building permit, pay half the cost secretly to the seller, pay the real estate agent in cash and save half his fee, thus saving yourself a large amount of taxes in the process. 

Once the corruption of the people takes hold, it is more difficult for the government to reverse it than to accede to it.  From 2000-05, Italians built 163,000 houses illegally, and why wouldn’t they?  Between 1997-2004, 207,000 illegally built houses had been given amnesty in return for a small fine because the government which had failed to collect the heavy legal taxes was strapped for cash.  The builders of new illegal houses confidently expect another amnesty as soon as the government needs more money, which a government incapable of preventing tax evasion will inevitably need.

Posted by Jack Olson on 16 March 2008

The other side of corruption is that in Italy people will be nice to you on a personal basis, but fundamentally you cannot trust anyone. Last time I was there a toll collecctor shortchanged me at a toll booth. You cannot buy a summer home in much of Italy without paying protection money to prevent it from burning down when you are not there. And you cannot function in such a society without becoming morally compromised by doing so. This is a big price to pay.

Posted by Downtown Toronto Condos on 30 April 2008

The simple fact is that Thatcher and her crew set out as a matter of policy to sharpen the social pyramid, immiserating those at the base as part of the price for elevating the “upper echelons.”

Posted by Toronto Condos on 01 May 2008

Dalrymple’s basic idea is the changes to society brought about by progressive intellectuals has devastated the working classes leading to the social problems we have today - social dislocation, drug use, single mothers, social welfare dependency, etc, etc.

Posted by for sale nova scotia on 08 May 2008

If there has been a decline in social standards in recent years, it is far more likely to have its roots in the eighties than the sixties. It was that decade that saw a blowtorch being taken to the industries providing the jobs that stabilised many working class communities.

Posted by architectural shade on 16 May 2008

What is EITG? (something tells me it’s a dumb question:D)

Posted by Randall V Carnes on 02 June 2008

Very nice comments...thanks for sending such nice thoughts

Posted by Tax Liens on 01 July 2008
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.