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Sunday, June 28, 2009


This comes from an episode of Yes Minister, called The Challenge first broadcast in 1982:

"No, I'm just Undersecretary rank. I fear that I will rise no higher"

I asked why not.

He smiled. "Alas I am an expert"

"An expert on what?"

"The whole thing." he said modestly. Then he handed me a file.

I'm sitting here reading the file right now. Its dynamite. Its a scheme for controlling local authority expenditure. He proposes that every council official responsible for a new project would have to list the criteria for failure before he's given the go ahead.

I didn't grasp the implications of this at first. But I've discussed it with Annie & she tells me it's what's called the "scientific method. (the series regularly shows his wife is smarter than Hacker but here we see she is also better educated) I've never really come across that before since my early training was in sociology & economics. But "the scientific method" apparently means that you first establish a method of measuring the success or failure of an experiment. A proposal would have to say: "The scheme will be a failure if it takes longer than this" or "costs more than that" or "employs more staff than these" or "fails to meet those pre-set performance standards!.

Fantastic. We'll get going on this right away. he only thing is, I can't understand why this hasn't been done before."

In the comedy the civil service are absolutely opposed to letting it in, even in among despised local authorities, because once it is seen to work in one place....

Funnily enough I haven't seen anything of this proposal since.

So I propose this right
Any government proposal shall have to contain failure standards including time to achieve, cost, employees required & pre-set performance standards. The right of citizens to see these standards in civil programmes shall not be infringed.

In the event of failing to achieve such standards a petition of not less than 10% of Senators shall be able to propose a vote by the whole House for repeal which shall pass unless defeated by 60% of votes in both Houses. For laws passed before this amendment came into force 20% of Senators may propose such a repeal which will require a normal majority.

The repeal, bit is a nod to the Heinlein speech, where he calls for 2 Houses, one with the right to repeal, though I have been less radical than he proposed.


1. I think that one of the big restrictions on local government behavior locally is that they are prohibited from having debt that exceeds some percentage of the value of the assessed property in their jurisdiction.

2. On a related note, states are usually prohibited from owning securities in their constitutions.

3. Neil wrote...

The right of...shall not be infringed.

That's pretty ambiguous, a liberal could misinterpret it.
3 - How do you mean? It is intended to enshrine the FoI while using language used in the other amendments & thus both tested in court & feeling right.
I was joking. The second amendment says:

...the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Despite that only two states, Vermont and Alaska do not require handgun licenses.

Liberal gun-grabbers can come up with a million reasons not to obey that.
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