Owen Jones wants us all to know that we’re being very mean in talking about the sexual escapades of Professor Ferguson. Our minds should be on weightier matters. But the point here is that it’s not about the shagging at all. It’s about the code:
When deciding today’s front pages, newspapers had a choice: do they hold the government to account over Britain facing the highest death toll in Europe, or do they take aim at a government scientist, who ignored his own advice to the public, and invited a partner to his home? As you might have seen, the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Metro and the Sun opted for the latter. In a healthy, functioning democracy, a genuinely free press would not have considered this a dilemma. Bad news, everyone, because that’s not the country we live in.
This story could be seen as a run-of-the-mill scoop, a classic tale of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy, a staple of the British press.
There is that part of the code to consider, yes. Consenting adults shagging is not a matter of public policy whether that be BoJo, Jezza and Diane or Prof F. John Major telling us all to be moral then finding his Cabinet is stuffed with adulterers is. Because it’s the hypocrisy that matters, see?
Those who insist the proles should fly less from the steps of their transatlantic flight to tell the proles that they should fly less. Those who insist that all should go to comprehensive schools while their own children do not (Diane again? Polly?). Those who rail against inherited wealth and yet have all their very considerable family money in trusts (at least one of the Benns).
Hypocrisy is important Owen as you yourself have found out:
As the person who first started making this point, to make it again:
Economists have a handy term called “revealed preferences”. In colloquial English it means “look at what people do, not what they say, and certainly never take notice of what they say others should do”.
Now, you can’t help but notice that there is a disparity between those who say that taxes should be higher and those who act as if they should be. Clearly, an individual who really believes that the Government is more effective at spending his money would voluntarily offer up more than the legal minimum of taxation. That we have fewer people acting in this manner than are to be found writing columns and making speeches calling for higher taxation shows a certain gap, does it not, between public utterances and private actions? Why, we could make such donations a litmus test for those believers in higher taxation and state spending who want to compel all of us to pay more. Only those who show their commitment by sending a cheque to the Treasury should be treated seriously.
Cheques, by the way, should be made out to “The Accountant, HM Treasury”, and sent to 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ. A 2nd-class stamp is sufficient and you are encouraged to add a covering note so that your donation is spent in the way you like.
It is important for us to call out hypocrisy in public life for this is how we prevent the installation of Zil lanes. And it is important that we prevent that.
But OK, let us move on from the insistence that they’ve got to live by the same rules they impose upon us. It’s still about the code. Ferguson’s code that is, his computer code. It’s trash, terrible, no good, disgustingly bad. A takedown of it hereit here. According to that it doesn’t even produce the same result twice even with the same inputs. Which isn’t the way that you do even a Monte Carlo simulation.
Which does bring us to one of the interesting reasons why Owen Jones’s beloved society run by the state doesn’t work. The inputs into the state decision making process are so lousy, no good, terrible. That is, it’s not just the hypocrisy of the would be rulers, it’s their incompetence.