Saturday Thoughts – 19th May

1. Outsourcing and the British royal family
The British government is an excellent example of the pioneering of outsourcing. The Royal Family hived off the messy business of governing to the current government hundreds of years ago in exchange for annual payments. With the current Brexit mess, they are probably sitting in the palaces sipping tea thinking “Thank God this mess is their mess to solve”…

2. Brexit shenanigans – packing the House Of Lords
Over the decades, many governments have been thwarted by the ability of the House Of Lords to delay or modify legislation passed in the House of Commons. This is actually a deliberate feature of the UK political system. The idea was that the Lords would operate as a check and balance on the government of the day.
The current government, not liking that the Lords has been steadily and persistently voting down government legislation related to Brexit, is now doing something that previous governments often threatened to do, in shows of public bluster, but never actually did. They are asking the Queen to create a number of new Life Peers who will be able to outvote opposition on the Brexit legislation package.
Leaving aside that there may be one or more total scumbags in the list of peers (which is full of DUP leaders, because of the Conservative Party alliance with the DUP), this sets a dangerous precedent. In an ideal world, the Queen would send the list back to 10 Downing Street with “nice try – NO” scrawled across it. Since the Queen is not supposed to get involved in politics, this is unlikely to happen, but it should.
Once the Conservative Party is replaced by a different party in government, we can expect to see this “packing” tactic used by the next government. This is, at its heart, banana republic politics coming to the UK.

3. The phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs
David Graeber first wrote about this concept in 2013. He has now expanded it into a book.
We all know that such jobs exist. What Graeber asserts is that a very significant percentage of the world’s jobs, especially in highly evolved Western countries, are bullshit jobs. As he points out in this interview, the idea that humans, devoid of an 8-to-5 job, would end up as directionless depressed drones is just not true. This is his answer to one of the obvious questions.

Q. What do you think people would do all day?
DG: Well, first of all, we’d go back to having a local hang out. Most societies have that — a place where people go during the day to be sociable beings. Maybe in the Middle East it’s a tea house, if you’re in France or Spain maybe it’s the cafe. The point isn’t what you do there, it’s the sociability. I made a joke about what people would be doing if they had basic income, they’d be at the cafe arguing about their politics and their much more complex polyamorous love affairs. Because they have more time to make for more interesting gossip.

4. Ask Feynman
As was quite often the case, Richard Feynman said it all:

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