hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2002
an excerpt from "The Complete Yes Prime Minister", by Jonathan Lynn and Antony Jay

"Our new Prime Minister wishes to either cut either taxes or public expenditure. This should be resisted. Politicians are like children - you can't just give them what they want, it only encourages them. Nonetheless, Appleby should not even have allowed it to get as far as being a Formal Proposal. It should not have been allowed to get past Informal Discussions.

[Sir Frank Gordon could not have been seriously worried. There are nine further preliminary stages after Informal Discussions and Formal Proposals. All eleven stages are as follows:
1. Informal discussions
2. Formal proposals
3. Preliminary study
4. Discussion document
5. In-depth study
6. Revised proposal
7. Policy
8. Strategy
9. Implementation plan circulated
10. Revised implementation plan
11. Cabinet authorization

Any competent Civil Servant should be able to ensure that if a policy is unwelcome, stage 11 will not be reached until the run-up to the next General Election]"

"I have ensured that the Treasury Secretary opposes any tax cuts. I used the usual bait - told him we needed the money for hospitals, schools and the old people, [ This argument was known in the Treasury as the Kidney Machine Gambit. It hardly ever failed. It was followed up with the suggestion that the incumbent would be known to history as The Caring Chancellor. This never failed - Ed.]

Frank was worried about Hacker's proposed tax cuts. They are serious, I know, but if I were in his shoes I should be much more worried about the state of the economy and low productivity. Of course, there's not much Frank can do about that. The British worker is fundamentally lazy and wants something for nothing. Nobody wants to do an honest day's work anymore.

This afternoon I went to Lords. When I got there England were seventy for four. Another collapse by England. What with the state of the pound and the state of our batting one sometimes wonders whether England has any future at all. Still, it was a delightful afternoon. Warm sunshine, cold champagne, and the characteristic smack of willow on leather - ocassionally, anyway."