Lifeguard sacked for saving life in wrong place…

obvious case of insane authoritarianism coupled with a massive failure to understand risk; not to mention a fundamental absence of “common sense”.

The company owner has wisely responded to the media storm and reversed the ruling of the ignorant “jobsworth” who made the ludicrous decision to fire the lifeguard. He has offered reinstatement to the hero and to the other 9 lifeguards who quit in sympathy/protest.

But, so far as I can tell, the irresponsible apparatchik who caused the furore and who obviously should, herself, be dismissed – and probably also needs psychiatric assessment – is still in post. Why? Oh, her name is “Susan Ellis”. The company name is “Geoff Ellis Management”. I think I understand…

Be that as it may, I came across this story in the context of a whinge by a Trade Union activist – taking the opportunity of the G4S Olympic debacle – to argue against subcontracting certain Police services to the same company. He argued that this Lifeguard story is kind of nonsense you can expect when you privatise public services. Boy oh boy is that wide of the mark!

This particularly form of psychosis is certainly not limited to the private sector. I collect such stories and three public sector examples which leap to mind are the mother who died after falling down a mine shaft because (public sector) firemen weren’t allowed to use the rescue gear: the teenager who died after a seizure on the athletics track when (public sector) paramedics refused to carry her across boggy ground; and the man left to die in 3 feet of water by (public sector) rescue workers concerned at their own safety.

The problem, pillock, is not private versus public. The problem is the authoritarian mindset which believes that “rules” or “laws” automatically acquire and deserve the kind of respect biblically attributed to certain tablets of stone…

Standardised Authoritarian Arguments

this nice little image got me thinking: Is there a standard structure to Authoritarian argument? I believe this piece illustrates the genre perfectly. The standardised versions I drew from it are listed below the image…

1 The proposed change is unnatural

2 The status quo is both necessary and sufficient because it produces the socially desirable result

3 Permitting the proposed behaviour will create undesirable role models for children;
3a Children need role models consistent with the status quo

4 Accepting the change would reduce the value of the status quo

5 The status has been quo for a long time

6 The issue should be decided by (whoever is most likely to decide it in favour of the status quo)

7 The proposed change is forbidden or not approved by religion

8 Permitting the proposed behaviour will encourage more of it

9 Permitting the proposed behaviour now will be a gateway to even worse behaviour later

10 The proposed change would change something so fundamental it should never be changed

11 There are alternatives which are acceptable to us and which you should accept.

Now try applying that to the authoritarian argument of your choice.

I’ll have a go at a few myself. Later…

Did you notice GlaxoSmithKline’s $3 Billion Fraud Penalty?

Actually a MUCH bigger story than Barclay’s LIBOR fixing scam, yet I haven’t heard a single discussion of it on the beeb and have only spotted a couple of mainstream media covering it.

This New York Times story will fill you in.

In short, I believe it’s the biggest criminal fraud settlement in US (and, I think, global) history. Ten times bigger than the Barclay’s fine and publicly described as criminal (whereas there is an ongoing debate about whether what the banks got up to was also criminal)

In the past 24 hours, we’ve seen the 3 top executives of Barclays walking the plank. Not a peep from GSK or its shareholders. Obviously they consider such fines merely the cost of doing business. It hardly affects the bottom line, so the dividends will be safe.

You’d think, given the hours and acres of coverage being heaped on the banks’ story, we might here a minute or two about the British arm of Big Pharma, the biggest organised crime syndicate the world has ever known.

Don’t hold your breath…