SUNDAY SERMON: time to pass a motion of no competence

mesnip19916 The average western citizen maintains a frightening level of deference towards professionals who are amateurs, and amateurs who pretend they’re professional. Given the near universality of incompetence, it’s hard to see why.

I bought a new chainsaw the other day, because my right bicep is no so knackered from a lifetime of onanism, I can’t pull the cord on the old petroil engines any more. I traded the old one in for a new mains electronic version (the chargeable battery versions take ages to charge and are ridiculously expensive) and so, all in  all, it was a good deal.

I read the instructions, and discovered that ‘on this model, the tension of the chain is very important during the wearing in period’. My own experience these days suggests that most things wear out before they wear in, but anyway I read on to be told ‘See Section 8’.

Points 1 to 7 and 9 to 16 were laid out in full, with pointy arrows relating to the number in a diagram. (So for example, Point 1, ‘Do not use this tool as a shaver’, and arrow 1 pointing at severed head on ground). But section 8 contained no writing at all. Just a drawing of an arrow marked ‘8’ pointing at a pair of hands holding an oily chain.

I wasted two hours looking for English instructions, during which my hands did indeed become very oily, because the chain kept flying off the guide. But be it Number Eight, Nummer Acht, Numero Huit or Nosbri Dosforatisk, the words were absent. In the end, I went back to the shop (a friendly family business) and they took me through it.

This morning I woke up to find the Meteo had changed their minds, and it wasn’t going to rain today. So I gathered up hedge trimmer, chainsaw, lawnmower, protective gloves and toolkit to start work on the west end felled trees, the east end long grass, and the south end Ash hedge. I sawed through a trunk in no time, chopped a few offcuts and then – somewhat drained – climbed aboard Husky the mower. I’d done about five square metres when it began to spit. It’s been pissing down ever since.

In these times of serial government lies and twenty five ways a week to justify cover-ups of cock-ups, you have to be a special  kind of plonker to tell a whopper about there being “no money left” in your budget….and then get caught out by official statistics. But last week, the DWP managed it. How hard would it have been to siphon off the £24bn State Pension surplus, and then call it something very accountancyish, like ‘miscellaneous administration’, ‘reserves held against litigation’ or ‘unexpected Brussels grab-bag’?

The answer is it would’ve been a cinch. But the overseers had an attack of oversight. And so now, chaps like John Ralfe, Frances Crapola, ‘Jewels’ Altmann and Damian Green have gone very quiet. This was an especially hard thing for Mr Green to do, because so far – to my knowledge at least – he hasn’t said a bloody word about SPA reform beyond bromides about how much he’s looking forward to the task ahead.

As I predicted and most people expected (it wasn’t hard to see it coming) Jeremy Corbyn retained his position as Labour leader, showing remarkable restraint in his acceptance soundbites….having confirmed his overwhelming victory with consummate ease.

What is it with the Blairite barons and their allies in the Labour Party? They set out like so many goose-stepping Nazis to ban anyone who might vote Corbyn…but still get humiliated. I’m reminded of the late Peter Cook’s wonderful sketch from the Amnesty International stage show taking place at the time of the bent verdict in the Jeremy Thorpe attempted murder case. Cook lampooned the hopelessly biased Judge, and had him sum up on one Thorpe Crony as follows: “He could not even organise the simplest murder conspiracy without cocking it up”.

Janet Yellen predicted 3-5  rate hikes by the US Fed in 2016. She’s been out by 250%. Christine Lagarde at the IMF has been wrong about Greek economic performance 21 times out of 21, and has had to backtrack on all her doomtalk about Brexit. Abenomics in Japan has been an abject failure. The World Bank, the BIS and Goldman Sachs have all been forced to cut their global growth projections for this year. George Osborne has gone to the Tory back benches vowing “to fight for the reinstigation” of his fiscal policy…a strategy that saw his deficit reduction prediction fail by 50%….and added 50% to Britain’s National Debt.


What, I wonder, will it take for Western electorates to kick the habit of deference they retain towards almost all professions? The question isn’t rhetorical: I genuinely don’t know the answer. All I can observe is that anyone in public life (or online broadcasting) who ridicules the views of ‘experts’ must expect a tirade from the trusting majority – those people who regard any dismissal of an ‘expert’ opinion as evidence of one being some kind of Hitlerian throwback.

During the Brexit “debate” – in inverted commas because in reality it was far more about hate than debate – each side found roughly 23 esteemed economic experts saying that the other 23 were wrong. I’d be willing to bet that all 46 were wrong to one extent or another.

Police incompetence alone destroys 20% of CPS prosecutions a year. When charged with crimes and given bail, 50% of accused abscond. As for those who skip bail, the police trace 7% of them.

Between 1990 and 2005, 50% of all bank-brokered mergers destroyed shareholder value.

In my own case of searching in vain for skilled and/or honest implantology, I have now established that one dentist used the wrong implant form for my case, another removed three teeth for no good reason, and one dental prosthetic supplier got his calculations wrong, thus disturbing two of my implants and rendering them useless. The prosthetic itself split in two within four months.

In every single legal high-profile case I have looked into since 2012, either the jury had been misdirected by the Judge, or the defence counsel had been grossly incompetent, or the prosecution had kept crucially relevant evidence out of Court.

We live in an age where trained professionals behave like unethical amateurs….with but one exception: politicians. For they are amoral amateurs with the audacity to call themselves professional. We must stop looking up to those who look down on us: they are not worthy.

Recently at The Slog: Home cooking with Janet Yellen