4 thoughts on “Cameron’s red tape challenge to ministers – produce as much red tape as possible”

  1. Posted 12/01/2012 at 17:42 | Permalink

    The philosophical implications of Dr Booth’s essay reminded me of a critical policy implication arising from the Enlightenment — the hubris of politicians, another characteristic of that time, has become an unfortunate given.

    Who can now begrudge when the rule of man was superseded by the rule of law? Yet, pushed to extremes, this impersonal reliance on a written code crowds out all competing — and arguably more nuanced — manner of inter-personal relationships. Think of the rise of legislative statute law over the common law tradition (not unconnected is the subsequent growth of government), and the contemporary reliance, in Oliver Letwin’s terminology, of rule-based regulation over judgement-based regulation.

    It seems that Clegg remains consistent with his Europhile sympathies in preferring the dogmatism of Continental rationalism to the pragmatism of British empiricism — that is, of privileging ideology over what works. His prescriptions for Lords reform are a case in point.

    Edmund Burke wrote of the French rationalists who ‘despise experience as the wisdom of unlettered men’, though there were exceptions:

    Many of our men of speculation, instead of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discern the latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, and they seldom fail, they think it more wise to continue the prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection which will give it permanence.

    Burkean prejudice, it should be remembered, was simply a preference for the tried and true over the untested and therefore unknown. Is there any question where the deputy premier’s sympathies lie?

  2. Posted 13/01/2012 at 11:31 | Permalink

    Although I heard of the intern programme I wasn’t aware that the firms had to suppress information on their application forms. I blogged about this issue some time ago and pointed out some of the unintended consequences.
    In some ways voluntary codes backed up by naming and shaming – an unpleasant form of “nudge” – are worse than laws, which at least get discussed by Parliament.

  3. Posted 13/01/2012 at 14:30 | Permalink

    It has always struck me that luck plays a bigger part in life than most economics textbooks recognise. It seems self-evident that there’s no merit about being lucky. Yet taking advantage of good luck, or finding ways to mitigate bad luck, is probably rather important. My philosophy is that good and bad luck even themselves out over a lifetime. Of course one can’t prove that; but it just seems quite a sensible basis on which to proceed. At any rate, that’s how I persuade myself that being lucky isn’t ‘unfair’. Not that I would mind too much if it were. As Oscar Wilde said: ‘Life isn’t fair; and perhaps it’s a good thing for most of us that it isn’t.’ Exploiting good luck then becomes an important way for some people to better themselves. What is the alternative? Sir Michael Edwardes’s famous preference for leaving North Sea Oil unexploited.

  4. Posted 13/01/2012 at 15:53 | Permalink

    It is interesting that “Britain’s top 100 firms have agreed a code on recruitment and work experience schemes”

    I think it’s fair to say that big firms will find it much easier to manage the convoluted process of recruitment and ensure compliance with a code of conduct than will a small firm. Now, so far this is a voluntary code, but if it becomes less voluntary, it will put smaller firms at a competitive disadvantage, which I’m sure will be a great disappointment to their larger rivals.

    On a general note, it is interesting how much big business has embraced much of the government’s interventionist agenda. One might almost think that government intervention was playing right into their hands!

    “If somebody is not very clever but good at building networks, why should they be looked down upon more than somebody who is clever but not good at building networks?”

    It depends very much on the job, I imagine. I would hope that an academic was recruited based on intelligence rather than whom they know. OTOH, if one is recruiting a salesperson, or a public affairs professional, the ability to network is far more important than raw intelligence.

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