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Posts Tagged ‘stupidity’

  1. Can you fix stupidity with regulation?

    March 11, 2010 by superlative

    No, you can’t.

    I don’t know why, but people think that you can. Or probably more accurately, they are afraid that they’ll get sued if they don’t mitigate every possible act of stupidity that the public’s infinite diswisdom can think of.
    Someone was killed last year in Brighton after getting into a wheelie bin drunk and then falling asleep. A refuse lorry came along, emptied the bin, and he was promptly crushed to death, his body later found at a waste transfer site.
    While this is tragic for the individual and his family, the ‘revised guidelines’ that have been issued for waste collectors are just absurd. Commercial wheelie bins will now have to have locks on them, and where possible they will have to be kept away from public areas. This won’t stop people climbing into public (i.e. not commercial) wheelie bins of course, or the large and very comfy looking communal bins that feature on hundreds of streets in Brighton.
    Why must we do this in response to every random act of stupidity? Yes, the guy made a mistake, he was drunk and it was raining, and it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s tragic that the bin happened to get emptied the following morning before he woke up. But it was a one off, stupid mistake.
    If people are stupid enough to sleep in wheelie bins, then the responsibility for what happens to them lies with them. You can’t devise regulations to cover every possible eventuality, and nor should you have to. Just the reporting in the media of what happened to this particular man should be enough for people to think twice before setting up home in a bin.
    What will be next? You can’t put broken glass in your bin, someone might climb in it and cut themselves. You can’t throw rotten chicken in the bin, someone might come along and eat it; you must write “Warning, this chicken is not for eating” on it in biro, and THEN you can throw it away*.
    Honestly, the complete lack of personal responsibility that we have today frightens me. Someone wrote on Twitter yesterday “Had an accident that wasn’t your fault? Well suck it up and put it down to experience”. I couldn’t agree more.
    * UPDATE Following publication of this post, I have been informed by someone who works at a well-known chain of shops that they are indeed told to pour blue dye over any waste meat before they throw it away. We’re doomed, we are ALL DOOMED.

  2. More silly protests

    September 28, 2009 by superlative

    There was another anti-government protest in Brighton at the weekend, apparently attended by Sloth from The Goonies (see picture – courtesy of the Argus).

    As if the Labour Party Conference weren’t disruptive enough for the citizens of Brighton, we also have to put up with vague and pointless protests cluttering up our streets.
    Fortunately, this one seemed rather smaller than the Smash EDO idiocy, and by the time I ventured down to the seafront to take a look it appeared to consist of a man standing on a plinth and some bored-looking policemen. I was pleased to see that there were also stacks and stacks of unused placards on Madeira Drive, where they’d clearly not had as many people turn up as they’d been hoping for.
    As with the previous protest, it was the diffuse and varied aims of this one that really made it pointless for me. Some people seemed upset about bankers’ bonuses; some didn’t want cuts in public services; some thought Vestas should be nationalised (er, bit late); some were anti-war; and some were just generally anti-anything because they think protesting is cool. The problem with that, I feel though, is that the protest doesn’t end up achieving anything, because no one is really sure why they’re there.
    This one was particularly pointless because I’m sure it caused no disruption at all to the Labour Party delegates, who were safely tucked up inside the windowless Brighton Centre and probably couldn’t hear or see any of what was going on.
    I also don’t really get some of the arguments that the protesters make. Some of their placards said “Fight for the right to work”, which I found odd. There isn’t an unlimited supply of jobs out there, and I don’t think the Human Rights Convention says we all have a right to a job which the government must provide and pay for.
    The ‘no cuts in public services’ ones also seemed misguided. There is a huge deficit in the public finances which has to be repaired. Regardless of how it got there (I’ll come to that in a minute), it has to be remedied. The country doesn’t have secret stacks of cash it’s keeping squirrelled away – the only way to cut the deficit is to make cuts in spending, or raise taxes. They seem to think that just ‘taxing the rich’ more is going to sort it out, but it’s not realistic. Why do they think that all the major parties have acknowledged the need for cuts? Even Labour says so now, after trying to dodge the word cuts for ages. Efficiency savings won’t be enough, there need to be actual cuts, and we will all feel the effects. But the alternative is a much longer and more painful recession or depression – you can’t just ignore the problem and expect the economy to sort itself out.
    There was quite a bit of talk about bankers’ bonuses too, and apportioning of blame on the banking sector for our financial woes. While I agree it was the bursting of the credit bubble and overly-risky investing by the banks that dragged the economy down, outlawing bankers bonuses is a purely populist measure that won’t actually fix the state we’re in. Yes the banks behaved badly – but the problem was that they were allowed to do so. We should be talking now about much tighter financial regulation and imposed margins on the banks’ balance sheets, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Complaining about bonuses doesn’t address the real issue at all.
    And yes it’s annoying that some of the people who caused this are still getting big bonuses. Fine. The banks shouldn’t be giving those people financial rewards, if they’ve even still got their jobs. But the issue isn’t an across-the-board one for all banks, and the backlash against the financial world will only discourage the bright and talented people we need to repair the damage from joining the sector. The same as with the social workers/Baby P thing: now no one wants to be a social worker, so there are no good social workers out there fixing a flawed system.
    Anyway, I’ve digressed a little. The protest was pointless, and to me it achieved nothing except some venting of anger and to confirm for me that lots of people really don’t understand economics, politics, or how the country works in general.

  3. Stupid MP’s expenses drivel

    May 13, 2009 by superlative

    Oh my god, I can’t believe how much they’re going on about the MP’s expenses ‘scandal’ and how every party leader is bandwagonning and ordering people to repay the money.

    Why are people surprised that in a system with very loose rules, people took advantage and claimed as much as they thought they could get away with? They didn’t break the rules, and everyone around them was doing the same thing, so of course they did it too. I think everyone would! And yes it wasn’t a very good use of tax payers money, but the system was flawed in the first place and was obviously set up as a convenient way of bumping up MP’s salaries without changing the headline figure.

    And what annoys me is that there is actually much more important work that politicians need to be doing at the moment, like oh I don’t know fixing the economy maybe? Repairing the housing market? Improving healthcare? No, not interested in any of those? No, because those are much more difficult than making a stupid speech condemning a practice that they all knew was going on but which now has become public knowledge.

    A few weeks ago bankers’ bonuses was the flavour of the month, so they all pledged to re-regulate and take bonuses back and anything else that they thought would sound good in the Daily Mail. But now the public have lost interest in that, so they’ve found another topic of fairly modest import that will allow them to avoid tackling the real issues.

    It’s rubbish, politicians are rubbish. And they wonder why people are disillusioned and can’t be bothered to vote. Yeah fine, fix the expenses system, it clearly needs fixing. But then stop going on about it and do some actual work.