Next scheduled for 1-11-2016
1] Recyclical 2] Quotas for all!
3] Faits divers
Recycling Please so far as possible recycle the words used in this posting, after extracting any which you think might be of archaeological interest and donating them to your nearest university philosophy department. The Government’s alert on dangerous words remains at level 3, and if you detect any socialist, anarchist, or nihilist verbiage in discourse in the coming month please hand it in to the police immediately. Do not on any account attempt to use it yourself.
Recycled Encouraging evidence that this journal’s talent for accurate observation is well based, and dismaying evidence that the human capacity to fail to deal with flaws in society is no less solidly rooted. This is the first paragraph of a piece that appeared six years ago from tomorrow the 16th of October:
About the time of the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehmann, we got a flurry of articles pondering with furrowed brows the question What have we learned? Now, about the time of the first anniversary of those articles appearing, some pieces have come out daringly suggesting the answer to the question could be Nothing. The speed with which some commentators flash around their learning curve would frighten a tortoise, and charm the hearts of bookmakers. The bankers, meanwhile, gave the best proof yet that they are men with intelligence, by never setting off at all, staying instead exactly where they were and laying plans for yet taller golden towers of bonuses in the years very shortly to come – with, perhaps, a sense of marginal urgency if the thought had by chance briefly flitted past the beam of their tightly focussed minds, that just possibly the reaction to their goings-on might included a backlash strong enough to put some limits on excessive greed in money-making. That is of course unlikely. The few hundred people around the world who could actually achieve that have too many pre-occupations and disagreements and inclinations to lethargy – and in some cases complicity? – to prevent this crisis, too, slipping down that very short chute into over-and-done-with history like any massacre of innocents, or war against unarmed populations, or famine.
As Acting Editor I should explain Mr Skew came over for a short break on the island, and brought a piece with him. I wasn’t told if it was supposed to be ready or just a first draft. But yesterday both he and our Editor got a call to go to London immediately. This morning there were two sheets with his name on the Editor’s desk. I thought the second might only be a draft, but Manos was very sure it was all for posting, and I must send it. I’d prefer to confirm with our Editor but haven’t been able to contact either of them since they got there, so here it is. (Karela)
Quotas. The idea that a 50% quota of places should be reserved for women in politics or in the mighty boardrooms which plot how to make entertaining tweaks to a nation’s Gini coefficient; or in the higher tiers of the judiciary, or in the ownership of great estates, or the more profitable sinecures in the municipal circuses; all on the simple-minded basis that women count around 50% of the population of most states, has broken out again from its padded cell in the human psyche. As the heavy doors slide shut in certain minds they, fortunately, muffle an angry chorus (‘Sexist pig!’ was the lyric if I heard correctly.) This is a monstrous slander. I am all in favour of women getting the fair deal they deserve. This year already I have had dealings with half a dozen thoroughly competent women who skilfully and honourably negotiated with me on some business, which they then, I know, had to summarise and explain to a P.A. (with four times their salary) who himself would be granted an audience with a fat and lazy (nb quoting here from a well-known Minister of International Trade) member of the board, on not less than ten times that salary, and who would be incapable of handling the guidelines and trade-offs and side-issues himself even if he was paying attention instead of thinking in Trump mode about options for his upcoming conference on an agreeable island in the Med. Sociopolitical systems in big countries don’t do slow methodical reform. The alternatives in any given era are groundshaking change or fossilisation (though if lucky you may get a new coat of paint slapped on the fossil). So if you’re thinking of setting off on a long march towards sociopolitical fair play there are two things to say. The first is that you are going to fail (but don’t take that as a reason for giving up). The second is that you don’t have just one small friendly mountain to climb, like 50% for women in your parliament. You are facing a whole range of rugged, viciously challenging peaks, and that’s not counting the primitive barbarian tribes that will attack you on the way. But there’s also an awkward fact: big nations are complex. What helps one group may be bad for others. Few even among the fair-minded grasp the sheer number of interlocking choices needed to get anywhere near fair quotas for sociopolitical groups in a state. Herewith a bijou selection of a few of…..Okay, polish smoothingly tomorrow as per earlier notes
Preliminary issue : are we seeking enhanced enfranchisement or compensation for inadequacy of enfranchisement? Great heavens! Have I written that? Alcoholic eloquence. Change forthwith. ‘Upward quotas’? Not ideal, but vaguely humanoid. Compensation? Forget that! First half impossible already.
Warning: Try this – ‘Some of the earlier questions below cannot be settled sensibly until some of the later ones have been resolved, but some of those cannot be dealt with until the first ones are settled.’ Impressive, well done Monty!
1] What justification for having any reforming ‘upward quotas’ at all? Obviously one is to scare the pants off idle buggers already ‘up’ and doing nothing to justify themselves. Obviously too, pseudo-return for favours received (as not unknown in H.o.C.) Or to avoid the need to hand out genuine rewards for services rendered. And so on. Not sure if any of those count as ‘justification’. Does that matter? Course not.
2] Upward quotas for both groups and individuals? Latter means networking; consult Linked-In.
3] What reasons for upward quotas? To reflect proportion in population? Breath-taking illogicality. Pedestrians to have equal rights with cars? Be serious. And apart from the women there are at least three other 50 vs 50 groups, age, height, and weight. Anyway once you start giving people quotas just because they are a group, they’ll all be at it. In six months all committees and organised bodies will be crazy jigsaws of groups all shouting they should have more places. And every individual in them will belong to a dozen different groups. What about ‘because said group has different viewpoint from the usual, which might be useful’? Sloppy thinking again, Monty! How many groups have specialist views which are useful to anybody except themselves? ‘Because they could make amusing contributions to the life of the nation’? Now that should be a winner but we’d never get it past the Grundies and apparatchiks. How about ‘because their views currently have no representation’? Losing my grip again! The fewer the bunches of recognised and authorised maniacs we have, the better. Give up.
4] How can one ‘up’ a group anyway? Easy! Add as new members in the ranks of privilege, for instance friends of former PM into House of Lords. Or throw out or murder the currently privileged (Specialist Comintern practice but popular worldwide and epoch-wide anyway). Or write new constitution abolishing privilege? Alleged policy of Froggie Republic (as alleged by those capable of willing suspension of disbelief). Etc. No problem there.
5] Who gets an upward quota? Women? But what about LGBT? All those for ‘up’? Or some? Together or how? Or four separate groups? (And those who want to be in more than one of those at the same time?) Hell’s teeth. Better drop this heading somehow even if it started it all. Oh, my head! Next please.
6] Which groups get promised a quota ‘sometime’? This one easy. Quick scan through this office’s archive, mail from readers, rival editors, boards of censors, libel lawyers, bailiffs, confidence tricksters, indignant jobsworths… to see who causes most trouble. Which groups get a promise? All of them of course, plus the corrupt (if you want democracy with a voice for all, can’t leave them out), the Welsh, the Goths, the insane, footballers, left-handers, residents of Liverpool, the poor, everyone who doesn’t live in London, smokers, gardeners, weed farmers, municipal employees, Poles, ‘greatgrandfather killed in World War I’ types, tightrope walkers…
7] Groups based on personal characteristics? The ugly, the goofy, height (too much or too little), the old (over 36), the young (under 36), the obese, the bald, those with athlete’s foot… All going to have their ‘own distinctive views and experience’, aren’t they? Shit, I wish I hadn’t started this. Brunettes? Agoraphobics? Drummers? Rembettika singers? But I wish Manos would turn that bloody bouzouki music off.
8] Within which sphere are they to be elevated? How about cyclists onto committees drafting traffic regulations? Yes, indeed, why not? Prisoners on penal reform? Hey, I’m being serious now. Shut that bloody row, Monas!
9] To what proportion of the sphere E.g. 50%, 75%, 1 in 3? Let’s put it like this: every femen committee should have a token man on it, right?
10] How should elevation be arranged? By force, whether beneficiaries want it or not? Whether beneficiaries apply or not? Points system, like Boris… Oh, forgot, one would not be amused by points systems. By lottery? Being one of Monty’s friends? Has Karela still got a stash of slivovitz?
Final meta-question: Who takes the decisions on all the above questions? Oh sod! Need a brain-transplant to get this sorted. But have some of that slivovitz first.
Answer to all above: Don’t bugger about with groups. Take every human as an individual. Can’t do it? Five more years high-tech, and everyone will have their own perfectly adjusted individual cell in the universal prison
Apps Aye-aye Cap’n. Great new app from the Redethel store for real emergencies! Stuck with friends in a small boat mid-ocean or in a sledge with a pack of wolves closing on you? This app lets you save almost everyone! Just click on the parameters – age, job, number of children, club memberships, salary and three more factors, and this app will calculate who should be thrown overboard to save the rest. No need for hard words or nasty bickering. Absolute fairness guaranteed.
Jokes of the Week (or were they meant seriously?!) (both from the Economist , a mag with a lot of statistics and a curiously imaginative view of the world; issue 420/9008):  (on the need to avoid public wealth being squandered on useless infrastructure): ‘To manage the risk of white-elephant projects, private sector partners should be involved from the start’.  (on the UK political scene in 2014]: ‘The Conservatives under David Cameron had turned all modern and reasonable.’