Freedom, system thinking, politics, science, education, economics, pirates

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Matt Wardman - What can Portugal’s decriminalisation experience teach us?

Mark Thompson of MArk Reckons has a good post at Matt Wardmans blog about Portugal's decriminalistaion of drug possession and use. The comments are a good read too.

I have tried to reply to a comment by Matt without success. Matt's blog, contact form and email all bounce from me, while others are posting comments successfully, IT glitch I suppose. So I'm posting my comment here instead.

Here's the text I was trying to respond with:


Perhaps I should be clearer: I agree there should be debate about the rule of law and I think a rule of law is important, to protect my life & property from others and to protect others' life and property from me and from each other.

However I think a basic principal is: it's my body and life and I can do with them as I wish.

Of course I can't go raping anyone - that would deny them the right to have the control over their body that I wish to have over my own.

A debate about drugs policy in the sense of "what drugs should we let people take" is what I inferred from your comment. I don't think that debate should happen - We should all be allowed to make our choices in life and live with the consequences, unless those choices impact on others, which is where the rule of law comes in (e.g. we allow alcohol consumption, but we don't allow drink driving).

Let's have medical warnings, drugs workers and education programs, but if after that people choose drugs, so be it. I'm happy to have a drugs policy debate about how to get to Portugal's point and also how to legalise so that we take criminals out of the drugs industry altogether, including the mafia and the taliban. Drugs could be supplied by licensed shops and drugs could carry tax sufficient to cover the cost of education and treatment. Purity and strength could be controlled and clean needles etc., readily available, greatly improving the safety of those who choose to take drugs.

The ideology I was complaining about is the idea you seem to have that some other people, maybe unknown to me, should have the right to restrict my choices, because they are concerned about my dribbling for 30 years.

The other aspect of your ideology I was complaining about is that you seem to believe that restricitions should be used even when it is proven that these restrictions do more harm than good or the restrictions cannot practically be implemented.

If you still think I am extrapolating too much from what you said, let's have more discussion. I certainly don't want to go round upsetting or misrepresenting people. I accept that "ideology" is not the best choice of words, maybe belief or idea is better.

I do think that what I said springs as a conclusion from what you said: "it is reasonable to restrict that course of action" opens a Pandora's box of state control.

My views on the state control you suggest:
1) It is wrong for one person to control the actions of another.
2) It doesn't work, in fact it makes things a whole lot worse."


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Audit commission attacks!

Over at an argument has broken out between John Seddon and David Walker. John has called for the scrapping of the Audit Commission because the model of work it enforces wastes money and makes services worse. Walkers' response it to call John names. The comments are very interesting and encouraging.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, 20 July 2009

Doing the right thing wrong

How Hounslow ditched targets to improve services, at thesystemsthinkingreview :

Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Helicopters to do for Gordon

Does anybody in the country believe Clarkson's idiot when he says no lives have been lost because of too few helicopters? Blogs like EU referendum have been going on about this for years. As more stories come out about deaths by IED, Gordon & Mandlesnake will sound more and more ridiculous as they argue something that is obviously untrue- and it's not about banks; it's about soldiers' lives.

Police state? Can't use facebook to organise a barbeque

Daily Mail says:

"Riot police raided a 30th birthday barbecue because they thought the organiser, who had invited his friends via Facebook, was staging a rave.

Four police cars, a riot van and a helicopter moved in on Andrew Poole's gathering which was taking place in a field owned by a friend.

The coach driver had invited 17 guests to an 'event' on his social networking page by private invitation and was about to light the barbecue when the gazebo suddenly started flapping wildly and the sound of chopper blades filled the air..."

Two things strike me about this story:

Police spending time monitoring Facebook for "raves" when they should be out catching burglars, rapists and murders.

The inability of police, once they have had a chance to assess the real situation to admit that they might have been wrong about.

I hope he sues their arses and gets a fat payout - sadly it won't come from the police officers' salaries.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Keeping the poor; poor.

Ian Cowie in today's Telegraph, Fraser at the Speccie, Douglas at TalkCarswell, all post today about the treatment of the poor, how high marginal withdrawl and tax rates trap the porest in unemployemnt & poverty by the design of the system.

Hopefully people are waking up.

Here's a reminder of my contribution, when I started this blog last March.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Ed goes for sympathy

Ed Balls is busy using Twitter to garner some sympathy for the long hours the poor dears put in and how they don't get to see their children. Diddums.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

me, chez Richie

  1. My comment to a mind-boggling post from Richard Murphy today.
    click here for his post.

    July 8th, 2009 at 00:30 | #15

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    You are Ricky Gervais and I claim my £10. Or do you really believe this stuff?

    The public sector does not create wealth. You create wealth by selling something for more than it cost you to supply it - that is the only way; no other method has been found. The Public sector pisses 50% of the wealth up the wall, having taken it from the public by force.

    Businesses selling food do not only not poison people because of regulations, they do it because poisoning customers is bad for business. Frozen food was not invented by state scientists, but by private enterprise looking for new ways to satisfy customers so that they could create more wealth,

tip o' the hat to Timmy, of course, Richie's nemesis.


I have to uncitizen myself:

You have failed the practice citizenship test.

Questions answered correctly: 14 out of 24 (58%)

Time taken: 05 minutes 03 seconds

What a ridiculous test - what cretin thinks a citizen needs to know what year divorce became legal?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Rethinking lean service

Here is an article/pamphlet by John Seddon laying out the principles that are explained in more detail in "Systems thinking in the public sector"

Here there are ideas that have been proven to reduce costs and improve service - something an incoming Tory administration should be interested in.

Please poke it under the noses of any influential Tories you come across.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Spanner in the streamlined works

In today's Guardian, Janee Dudman looks at back-office standardisation plans.

Her point is that maybe govt's plans to save billions through IT and back offices won't deliver.

Quote of the day

"The minister for Digital Engagement (sic), Tom Watson, was there; but readers may be aware he has since resigned. I imagine he is sitting at home, digit engaged."

John Seddon, of Tower 09

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Lord Mick of Gorbals

Troughing ex-speaker Michael Martin resigned following the expenses scandal. Don't fret though, he has been promoted to the Lords, so his sources of pension and cash are secure. And he gets given a new set of fancy dress.

A vetting panel thought it could damage the Lord's reputation (d'ya think?) but they did it anyway.

Politicians looking after their own, in defiance of the wishes of the people? - surely not.

Seddon for Tsar!

From John Seddon's monthly mailout:

"On being a Tsar

Thanks to all who have signed the Number 10 petition for me to be appointed public-sector ‘Tsar’. A small minority wrote to tell me that ‘Tsar’ was very ‘command and control’. One even described the number 10 petitions as Blair's cynical attempt to siphon off public energy; a fig-leaf of 'democracy' that enables the government's mopping up of dissent.

Well, for those who feel that way, take it easy! Do you think they’ll offer me the job? If they did, would I take it? Only on my terms.

Let me say this for the sake of clarity: ‘Command and control’ is the prevailing logic for organisation design (top-down, functional design etc). It is not about being bossy. In fact many of the best systems thinkers I know are bossy; they are just bossy about the right things. So, if they offered and I accepted, what would I be bossy about?

My manifesto

The first thing this Tsar would do is close down the specifications industry, the armies of people who spend their time creating specifications for public-sector managers’ compliance. This would create two savings: The money it costs to have these people (significant) and the waste caused by complying with their ideas (much larger).

The second would be to rein back the Audit Commission to following the money. No longer would the Audit Commission be able to coerce public-sector managers to comply with their and other specifiers’ dumb, ill-founded and without-evidence requirements. When auditing performance, the inspector will ask only one question: ‘What measures are you using to understand and improve performance’?

The choice of measures and method will be with the local service managers. It will foster innovation rather than compliance. And for the first time we will actually know who is responsible.

So there it is: from compliance to innovation and with more reliable audit to boot! If you want to vote for that (and have not done so already), please vote at: "

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