Ideology Uber Alles

The transport regulatory body for London, TfL, announced yesterday that it was revoking the operating licence for Uber due to safety concerns and governance issues.

The Socialist Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, publicly supports this decision.

Uber will appeal this decision, resulting in a stay of execution for about a year while the legal process is underway.

Some pertinent numbers might be useful. London has;

44,000 Uber drivers

3.5m customers

Around 50 sexual assaults a year by Uber drivers

Around 125 sexual assaults by other taxi drivers per year

Any number higher than zero is too high for sexual assaults but the relativity of the figures above make sense; a would-be attacker is less likely to do so if you’ve been able to identify him from a picture of his face and have a record of his car registration on your phone.

Indeed, even the Financial Times gets it right in an opinion piece yesterday, proving the old saying about stopped clocks being accurate twice a day;

Bill’s Opinion

This is an ideological decision made for reasons of Socialist dogma. The disruption that Uber has brought to London has had two main effects;

1. Shaking up a previously fat and happy taxi industry.

2. Excellent price and service outcomes for the consumer.

Sadiq Khan and the UK extreme left wing cannot reconcile 1) with 2). They are wracked with anger and jealously that an innovative idea has resulted in a heavily-unionised industry experiencing change and the parent company owners becoming rich.

The outcomes for the consumer are a very distant 2nd place to this envy in their list of priorities.

How this plays out will be highly-interesting; a popular mayor may find himself badly-damaged by this knee-jerk decision.

Have we reached “Peak Elon Musk” yet?

Perhaps it’s a function of the modern news cycle, driven by clicks and speed to publish rather than the traditional print media that produces these archetypes such as Steve Jobs and, recently, Elon Musk.

One can’t log on to social media or news sites without being presented with a quotation meme, spurious story about their management style or genius of innovation.

These must surely be taken with a large pinch of salt; nobody is perfect and, sure these people have been very successful, but not all of it was due to their intellect or perspiration.

Take Musk, for example; his high profile spacecraft business, SpaceX, is partially-funded by Venture capital, but the majority owner is Musk.

Where did Musk make his fortune? His other company, Telsa Motors Inc., which has been the beneficiary of nearly $5bn in government subsidies. He may be good at manufacturing solar panels and lithium batteries but he’s no John Galt. Many of us would probably indulge ourselves in a spacecraft hobby if we’d been given billions of dollars of government welfare.

There are also suspiciously few voices questioning how Musk reconciles the green credentials of Telsa with the massive amount of traditional fossil fuel burned with each SpaceX flight.

The government handouts continue in Australia, a country which loves to fawn over famous Americans as if Übermensch. The state government of South Australia made some pretty poor decisions for ideological reasons over the last few years with regards to their energy supply,  resulting in several disastrous state-wide blackouts last year.

Like a knight in shining armour, Musk made a now famous boast that he could solve their problems with his batteries and, if he’d not completed this solution within 100 days, South Australians wouldn’t need to pay a penny. Again, after being the recipients of $5bn from taxpayers purses, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at most people’s generosity.

There is also the question of how much of the problem the 100MW battery will actually solve? Various reports suggest that it will have an hour’s capacity. What happens in the 2nd hour of an outage?

Also, given that the installation will have a price tag over over $150m, South Australians could be forgiven for asking about the probity of the government procurement process that selected a supplier on the basis of a Tweet?

Bill’s Opinion

Musk is likely a very talented engineer with some excellent innovative ideas. He is, however, even more talented at self-promotion and convincing starstruck government officials into handing over other people’s money.

Nice trick, if one can pull it off.

Simple solutions to complex situations

We should have equal opportunities.

We should have equal outcomes.

One of these two statements represents a desire to help others, the other is fascism.

An Australian university study has found what everyone who has ever met and interacted with other humans already knew; personality, cognitive skills and conscientiousness are more of a factor in career success than gender.

Their conclusion; invest in training to improve women’s skills and personalities, for example in being extroverted.

Facetiously, are they suggesting we try to make women more like men?

Perhaps the differences between male and female characters have served us well as a species?

The Chesterton quote seems relevant here, often summarised as; ” Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up”. The original quotation is as follows;

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

Obviously, gender-wide generalisations are just that; generalised. A man can be a natural carer just as a woman can be an extroverted powerful leader. It’s just that statistics show trends.

Should we accept those trends and legislate against or even knowingly inhibit the outliers following their chosen career path? Of course not, that would be fascism.

Should we inhibit people who fall into the trend to enable more outliers to be successful? Again, fascism.

There is an Australian government website here which hectors us to consider the inequality across the not so lucky country.

This infographic is quite amusing;

Western Australia has a shocking statistic there, doesn’t it?

Well, it does if you fail to consider the high wages paid to mine workers. It turns out that when it comes to equality, many women vote with their feet and actively choose not to work in dangerous environments, 45 degree heat and spending weeks away from home in the remote north of the state.

95% of Australian workplace fatalities are male. See if you can find that data point in the official statistics here.

The Finance and Insurance Services gap does look somewhat damning, however. It would be interesting to see a more detailed view of the data; is it skewed by 10 incredibly-well paid men at the top of the main institutions, perhaps?

Bill’s Opinion

There’s probably thousands of reasons why there’s a pay gap between men and women.

In order of materiality though, “sexism” is likely to be far lower down the list than;

– freely-made life choices

– suitability of personality type

– attitudes to physical danger

Question the data, question the agenda behind the data.

“Significant drain”

The postal vote survey on same sex marriage is causing a significant drain on the LGBTIQ community, apparently.

Let’s just unpack that statement, shall we?

Firstly, definitions.

LBGTIQ apparently stands for;

L = Lesbian

B = Bisexual

G = Gay

T = Transgender

I = Intersex

Q = Questioning

So, the vote survey is only directly relevant to 2 of those groups then; lesbians and gays. As an aside, one wonders whether it might save significant ink and keyboard wear and tear for intersectionalists if they were to refer to lesbians and gays as homosexuals and use an H instead. But we digress.

Transgender people will be unlikely to be bothered about same sex marriage until they’ve completed the medical procedures and then, presumably, decided they are attracted to members of the gender they’ve transitioned to.

Similarly, intersex people will have fewer concerns too.

“Questioning” people are presumably still on a journey of discovery so may or may not arrive at the conclusion that they wish to marry someone of the same sex. Hopefully, this questioning is using a robust methodology such as Socrates’.

So, just the lesbians and gays then.

Why does the journalist write about the LBGTIQ “group” as if they were an amorphous lumpen mass with exactly the same desires, concerns and needs?

Lastly, what is a “significant spike”? The only numbers we’re offered are from the Reachout website service; they claim 1.5 million unique visitors a year and a 20% increase since August. So about 800 more a day then, (presumably not independently verified).

Given that Reachout are currently running an advertising campaign in favour of same sex marriage and this is their website’s landing page, perhaps there’s an alternative explanation behind the increase in traffic?

Bill’s Opinion

To suggest that there is a single common opinion held by people falling into the manufactured categories of LBGTIQ is a red herring (“furphy” in Australian vernacular).

There is an agenda behind the users of theses acronyms; to shut down debate on the issues by suggesting that there is a much large demographic with a single common opinion than there actually is.

The author of the article could have spent his/her/zhe’s 400 words arguing the pros and cons of same sex marriage instead. It speaks volumes that Adam Gartrell chose not to.

G’day sport

We’ve previously explored the issue of transgenderism and whether it is cruel or kind to agree with a mental delusion that one is “born in the wrong body” absent any compelling physical or scientific evidence.

Consider then, the case of Hannah Mouncey, who is hoping to be the first transgender player in the Women’s Australian Rules Football League (AFLW).

For readers not familiar with Australian Rules Football, it needs to be explained that it’s a contact sport with similarities to Rugby and Gaelic Football. The tackles are big hits; height and physical strength are a significant contributing factor to success. One cannot play this game without being able to deliver, and also tolerate taking, a solid bodyslam.

So, if your daughter played this sport, how keen would you be for her to be lining up in a match against Hannah next weekend?

No, that’s not a picture of a young Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metal-licker, that’s the potentially latest AFLW player, “Hannah”.

To prove the point that she’s a lady, here she is in in a classic little black dress channeling her inner Holly Golightly.

The AFLW rules require that, to be qualified as female, Hannah needs to prove that she has less than 10 nanomoles of testosterone per litre in her bloodstream. Hannah is confident that she can pass this test.

Bill’s Opinion

This will be a fascinating case to follow especially as the AFLW has recently had significant commercial success, attracting large crowds of up to 51,000.

Whether or not the spectators continue to follow the women’s version of the sport if a bricklayer in drag is allowed to beat up women will be an excellent bellwether of the success or failure of the intersectionality narrative of the Cultural Marxists.

Shame doesn’t scale

There are many reasons to celebrate the internet, not least the availability of the vast majority of written human knowledge at the fingertips of anyone with a browser and a connection. We are only scratching the surface of the possibilities of this incredible increase in the “velocity” of ideas and the interconnections between previously-disparate areas of study. The marketplace of information and thought has become exponentially more free in this generation. Who knows what marvelous inventions and discoveries might result?

There are many well-documented negative consequences of the internet too; groups of people with destructive or malicious intent can more easily find each other and work together.

There seems to be a growing trend, uniquely facilitated by the internet which, on the face of it, has the appearance of being positive and for the good of society but perhaps has regrettable long term consequences.

The concept of “shame” is a highly-efficient mechanism developed though evolution  to ensure socially-compliant behaviour by people in small groups. A tribe will ostracise and shun a member who acts against the common good, not using the designated latrine area, for example. This shaming has served us well as a species over thousands of generations, enabling us to live and work together far more effectively with surprisingly few conflicts. If you think that last sentence sounds incorrect, consider how many more fights and blood feuds we’d have in society if we did whatever we wanted without considering what the neighbours might think.

Perhaps shame loses its utility with scale, that is, the damage done by shaming a behaviour becomes too extreme compared to the benefit it may bring?

The most recent example that springs to mind is that of James Damore and his now infamous dossier as a response to a request for feedback following his attendance at several internal Google diversity seminars.

Despite the fact that the original document (here, complete with the charts and citations most media reports edited out) reads as a well-argued counter argument as requested, the internet outcry was intense enough to result in Google firing him.

The vast majority of criticism (maybe use alternate search engines to look for it) was ad hominen rather than explaining where Damore’s arguments were flawed.

Similarly, Justine Sacco was subject to an internet campaign of shame following an ill-advised poor taste joke on Twitter. She too lost her job as a consequence.

Regardless of whether or not the content of Damore’s dossier was accurate or had worth or whether Sacco’s joke was in poor taste, in an earlier age the consequences of both would have been unlikely to be so extreme.

There is a tendency to “pile on” on social media to shame individuals with whom we disagree. The left-leaning are particularly adept and enthusiastic in this but it is not exclusive behaviour by any end of the political spectrum.

Shame does not scale up well.

What might be the consequences of this increased consequence to shame at scale?

Bill’s Opinion

This blog itself is a great indication as to the consequences; anonymous and hosted in a country with some of the better internet privacy laws. I’d prefer to write this under my own name but the risk to my livelihood and privacy is too great.

But more broadly, how many of us have witnessed situations on social media where you would have wished to make a contrary statement or at least debate the point but were conscious of the risk of being subject to being labeled with one of the words with the ‘-ist’ suffix. My personal LinkedIn timeline is a classic for this; I see so much that I take issue with and would want to call out as incorrect or at least logically-flawed but the risk of collateral damage is too great.

So, the consequence is silence.

Note, the consequence isn’t that the contrary opinions go away, just that they are not aired in the company of those who will disagree with them.

So the ultimate consequence is increased polarisation of opinions where opposing views are rarer exposed to each other in the marketplace of ideas to compete to discover which is contains more truth.

It’s fashionable these days to suggest reasons for Brexit and Trump winning and often these might be only tangentially-related , but this silence of the shamed might have a very strong correlation.

Believe the action not its promise

China joined the club of countries vowing to ban diesel and petrol vehicles. France and Britain have made similar assertions.

In typically hubristic European style, the French and Brits even put a date by which it would happen… in both cases, at least 5 general elections’ time. To quote the pederast Keynes again, “in the long run, we’re all dead”.

China have been a little more circumspect; “in the near future“, was the inscrutable statement. By an amazing coincidence, this is precisely the timetable parents the world over offer in response to the question, “when can I have a pony?“.

Let’s assume the Chinese are going to follow the Anglo-Franco timetable and bring the ban in for 2040. What are the possible outcomes?

1. Automobile manufacturers will fast-track any existing R&D projects that will result in hydrogen/electric/cow manure cars in time to sell in 2040 at the same price or cheaper than the equivalent petrol/diesel vehicle… and they are successful.

2. Ditto (1) but they are unsuccessful; the cars don’t go as fast, far or cost more.

3. The current R&D projects are already due to complete well before 2040.

Looking at these in a not so random order;

Option (1) is all good, win/win for everyone and even the planet, with the not minor assumption that the Chinese can produce electricity without recourse to those pesky fossil fuels by then, otherwise we’ve just centralised the pollution.

Option (3) is pretty good for everyone too, but would suggest that government mandates don’t drive innovation, markets do.

Option (2) is a bit of a problem though, depending on the type of commitment made. In a country with a properly-functioning rule of law, there might be some delicate unwinding of legislation made by politicians who may be long departed to the retirement home or their final destination (presumably carried by eco-friendly hearses) .

If there’s a compelling feet to the fire type of commitment in place or an ideological bent to the governing party when the 2040 New Year’s Eve light show (the emissions from fireworks will surely be banned by then) happens, we might see some subsidies/tariffs/taxes given or imposed to get to that stated goal. i.e. more government intervention due to a “market failure“.

Bill’s Opinion

Originally, this part of today’s post was going to quote the story of the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894. The trouble is, upon further research, it looks like that might have been horseshit and was most likely to be an urban myth.

But perhaps there is still a lesson to be learned from the invention of the car?

Consider the major steps in the development of human transport:

  1. Human power – we could only move as fast and as efficiently as our own bodies.
  2. Horse power – we could only move as fast and as efficiently as horses or other beasts of burden.
  3. Steam power – we could only move as fast as a steam engine powered by coal could drive us.
  4. Refined fuel power – we could only move as fast as a petrol engine could drive us.

Those last 3 steps weren’t invented as a response to a crisis but as an innovation to realise an opportunity.

The hope that innovation will be sparked as a result of creating a purely false crisis (i.e. a new law) is not supported by strong historical evidence. Perhaps opportunity drives innovation more often than crisis?

 

 

One does not like green eggs and ham

Our recent investigation into the accidental UK Conservative Party leadership contender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led us to discover the perfectly rational, balanced and sober Guardian columnist, Suzanne Moore.

One of her recent offerings was on the subject of “hate crimes” and “online hate”.

Something must be done, she opines, there must be consequences.

Definitions are always a handy starting point when searching for the truth of a statement.

Firstly, what is “hate“?

In the English language it can have several related but different meanings; the opposite of love, for example. An extreme dislike of something or someone, perhaps. Without wishing to put words into Ms. Moore’s mouth, she seems to be defining it moore (see what I did there?) as an action than a feeling. Online hate, is the term she uses to describe this version of the word, suggesting the use of the verb rather than the noun version of hate.

Presumably she isn’t suggesting all hate must be banned? Hatred of olives, for example, would be a frivolous and difficult thing to legislate against. It might be straightforward to enshrine in law a ban on publicly-expressing one’s hatred for little green and black fruits however. Would that make the olive-haters suddenly, or even gradually, become lovers of olives? Of course not.

Defining the standard for what is hateful is equally tricky. Are you calling me rude names on the internet because you disagree with my point of view (here’s a few hundred words from Ms. Moore doing exactly that to JRM, without ever once critiquing his arguments)? At what point does that name-calling become online hate or even a hate crime? On Planet Guardian, it seems to be once we invoke certain physical, religious, racial, gender or sexual attributes.

At risk of invoking the slippery slope fallacy, who gets to define the limits of this definition and where does one apply for the job?

We might speculate that the flip side of online hate is offence. If the recipient of online hate takes offence, the hurt is amplified, which is perhaps the original motivation of the online hater?

Maybe there’s a clue in the way we phrase offence as a verb in the English language; we say that people take offence, suggesting that it’s a choice made by the recipient, not the hater offering it. The power is actually with the recipient.

Bill’s Opinion

Although we all know that we should strive for civility in our online discussions, we don’t always hold ourselves to that standard. However, to legislate to shut down those who are abusive risks collecting those with dissenting opinions or those with arguments we simply find uncomfortable in the same net.

Those of us who attract the attention of insulting or abusive online hate have several options available;

  1. Report threats of violence or incitement to violence to the police; this is an actual crime and has been for generations.
  2. Use the block button on whichever social media platform the abuse is arriving from.
  3. Log off, make a cup of tea and get on with real, not virtual, life like a grown adult.

When the rights of one group impact the rights of another

Australia is about to undertake a national vote survey on same sex marriage.

Luckily for the “Lucky Country”, because they are such laggards in this regard, there are plenty of current experiments underway around the world for them to observe and ensure they get it right.

Helpfully for our Australian friends, “g’day mates, chuck another baby in the dingo and chunder me up a fair dinkum blue“, we’ve produced the following cut out and keep handy reckoner to ensure that even the drunkest of them can get it right when the voting survey form arrives;