We have not mentioned the highly publicized rape trial that has been going recently in Belfast. However it was predictable when all four defendants in it were acquitted by the unanimous decision of the jury that our feminist friends should have claimed that an injustice was been done. The notion being of course that the whole male dominated system was rigged against the woman who asserted that she had been raped. In this instance there was probably no truth to this suggestion. Three of the jurors were women, as was the judge, and there was an important female witness whose testimony told in favour of the defendants. Much of the Ibelieveher rhetoric has been exaggerated. The protesters in Dublin seem to have been the usual rentamob. Nevertheless, perhaps the feminists have a point. The system DOES look rather male, and it clearly does not enjoy the confidence of many women. In order then to ensure not just that justice be done, but that it also be seen to be done, might there not be an argument for insisting that half the jurors should be women in trials such as this?
FROM HANSARD 11/11/1947
Mr. Lambert ( Torrington, National Liberal- in practice Conservative )- asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is aware that one thousand farmers and farm workers in Devonshire require [ i.e lack ] Thermos flasks; and that what steps he has taken to remedy the shortage, and when such flasks in sufficient quantities will be available.
Mr. T . Williams, ( Labour, Don Valley, Minister of Agriculture 1945-1951 ) The distribution of permits to buy Thermos flasks is undertaken by farmers’ and farm workers’ organisations, which consider the needs of each county, but as my Department’s allocation is only 14,000 permits a month for the whole of England and Wales, applicants have to wait their turn for flasks as for other scarce goods. I understand that it is not likely that the total allocation [of Thermos flasks] can be increased immediately, but I would point out that farmers and farm workers receive nearly fifty percent of the production under the present scheme.
1] In the absence of a free market in Thermos flasks how was the correct number of flasks to be produced in each month arrived at?
2] Further, what rational basis was there for assuming that half this number should be allocated the farmers and farm workers? Was this proportion too high, or too few, or just right?
3] How were “needs” each county for Thermos flasks to be assessed? What criteria were to be used?
4] In the event of a county being allocated fewer flasks than the number that were requested, who was to be given the right to buy a Thermos and who denied it? And on what basis were such decisions to be made?
5] And so on, and so on…
ADDITIONAL NOTE: This was not an exceptional situation in Mr. Attlee’s utopia. And nor did such episodes only arise in respect of trivial goods. There was a similar exchange between the same two men about tractor tyres just over a month later.
Two weeks ago we said that President Trump’s decisions were unpredictable. The appointment of John Bolton to be National Security Advisor is an example.of this. This though is not a choice that would have been made by a prudent man. Mr. Bolton’s record reveals a troubling mixture of crazy ambition, cowardice, and aggression. As a young man he avoided service in Vietnam, but he now believes that The United States should follow a highly interventionist foreign policy. More recently he has even entertained Presidential hopes for himself. Like his friends in The American Enterprise Institute ( where they give the best cheap lunch in Washington, but talk the worst nonsense!) he believes that The United States has the right, the duty, the need, and the power to refashion the world and especially the Near East in its own image. No gulf of folly can be deeper than this. The best we can hope for is that like so many others Mr. Bolton will soon be sacked. The danger is though that the deluded advice that he will offer the President will appeal to the darker and less balanced parts of Mr. Trump’s disordered personality. Let us pray that between them they will not lead to their country into disaster and humiliation! R.M.
By Michael Dwyer
“The moral consequences of totalitarian propaganda…are of a profound kind. The are destructive of all morals because they undermine one of the foundations of all morals, the sense of and respect for truth.” F. A. Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom.” (London, 1944 ) p.115
Hitler had a four year plan. Stalin had several five year plans. Khrushchev had his seven year plan. Leo Varadkar has his twenty two year plan.
In it we find spending plans for all kinds of everything. It covers school building, the health service, trains both over and underground. It has a spatial strategy, planned regional development and an industrial blue print for the nation for the next twenty one years. With costings.
This is a state which cannot get within say seventy per cent accuracy when guesstimating the first day population of a new built secondary school. Yet now it would construct a plan for technology and markets that do not yet exist. It would plan for housing without knowing where people will want to live. It has details of production in an economy which might have a different currency in a continent which may have seen the collapse of the EU.
Of course the plan is absurd and vainglorious and pointless and just plain stupid. It will not be followed and will be a like a shredded paper serviette in at the end of Chinese banquet within a few of years. Anyone with a passing knowledge of history the market or the problem of calculation knows this.
Of course massive inefficiencies will be created, resources diverted, poverty created, wealth destroyed and innovation postponed but that is the normal function of modern governance.
The meta story is to my mind both more depressing and more worrying for the future health of this republic and her democracy.
The days following the grand unveiling the airwaves were filled with discussion, debate, analysis; ministers being interviewed by journalists who were then interviewed by other journalists. Yet no one laughed.
Not one politician, commentator, pundit, expert academic, or journo laughed at this most ridiculous and if pursued (highly unlikely) most potentially disastrous proposal that this nation has seen since The Economic War. This is the most risible piece of political flummery of my lifetime and I believe in the history of the State but it seems that I am the only one laughing. That is scary.
Donald Trump’s decision to meet with the leader of North Korea shows something that we always suspected, namely that he is prepared to act in unpredictable ways. The foreign policy establishment in Washington, and even his own State Department may be shocked, but it is possible, although perhaps not likely, that he will break the deadlock that has existed on the Korean peninsular since the the early fifties. No one can can know what will happen in this case. His initiative may well fail, but the fact that he has made it shows that he is prepared, even eager, to surprise. And this has implications for all those who deal with him both in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. Trade negotiations with The United States have just got a lot more interesting; and Mr. Varadkar and his team must be on top form when they visit Mr. Trump later this month for the St. Patrick’s day celebrations. None of us know what Mr. Trump is thinking about the Irish border- perhaps he doesn’t either- yet!