Sunday, 3 December 2006

Whinging (With Reason)

James Higham's new blogfocus has reminded me that I, and, I suspect, some other bloggers too, spend a lot of time whinging. James, incidentally, along with Tim Worstall, and Tom Paine, is among the best of those who don't. But I think, given that the blogosphere has emerged as a critical discussion, it's kind of inevitable that this is the course it's taken. The UK and the US are also in the last throes of governments which have run out of moral authority, political authority, and imagination. In the UK, though the economy remains reasonably bouyant, we have a government actively pursuing its citizens for information, and promoting ever harsher punishments for offences of thought or speech. Much as I abhor the BNP the recent political prosecution of Nick Griffin was a disgrace, as was Gordon Brown's response. The treatment of some imams for things they have said rather than done has also been (to me) a bit worrying.

So, as a politically engaged person who finds the politicians of his day corrupt, self serving, and incompetent, whinging in the blogosphere is an excellent way of promoting my views, joining a conversation of views, and building a genuine bottom up mass of critical opinion and occasionally thought against what I regard as a rubbish government (as opposed to the MSM, many of whom have lobby positions, comfortable jobs, and publicly funded biases to protect).

So: another whinge then. Mr Eugenides reports on the latest attempt by MPs to raise their own salaries. Whenever a politician says they went into politics to do good, this is evidence that they are lying. People who want to do good become charity workers, teachers, nurses, doctors and street cleaners. People who want to reshape your life after their views become politicians. This latest moan about their frankly fantastic remuneration only backs up my view.

There is a reason, perhaps, that their salaries (but not their perks) have not risen inline with other top public sector figures. That is that MPs are specifically, and only, servants of the people, there to do their bidding. They are not CEOs or Headteachers, they are given power by the people and in return they are able to exercise it. Fiscal bounty ought not to be an automatic part of that bargain.

Next. I would very much like a guardianista to come and tell me that this story is just the evil Daily Mail making things up. In Saturday's edition, it reports:

Britain's top doctor [Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer]has told GPs to reveal the names of patients who want to stop their medical records being put into a central NHS computer.

A spokesarse for the Dept of Health is quoted thusly:

The CMOs advice to GPs is to forward the letters to the Secretary of State - and these are letters that have probably already been sent to the Secretary of State for Health from patients.

My emphasis. Now the whole defence of this is predicated on that "probably". On the basis that the Secretary of State "probably" has the letters, they are to be given to him anyway, giving the government direct knowledge of who has refused the movement of their data. Well - what if they aren't already there? The spokesprat goes on to say: "The content is in the public domain already". I wasn't aware that people's written decisions about their information were in the public domain, and I wasn't aware that requesting it to be left off a database constituted putting it there.

I would really like someone to come along and tell me a) that the Daily HateMail has deliberately concoted this story or b) that it is true, but I have utterly misread it. This does happen sometimes.

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