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June 14, 2010

Comments

ejh

I cried in pain

Did you Harold. Did you indeed.

cian

I've never really got the patriotism of sports. So England win a game of football. And this affects me how? I'd get more excited about living in a country where the train service worked, or you didn't constantly stumble over people living in cardboard boxes. I do not care, will not care and am probably incapable of caring. Though I suppose, given the above, you could say that we currently have the football team that we deserve as a nation.

ajay

Quite. It's like the Olympics. If we invest about $10 million, we may end up with a situation where an extremely odd-looking man from Britain will be able to run a set distance a few tenths of a second faster than a lot of other odd-looking men from the rest of the world. If we don't spend this money, he will take up to another 0.5 seconds to run the set distance, and some other odd-looking man might get to the end of it before he did.

Why this would be a national calamity is left unspecified.

Richard J

If we invest about $10 million

Or the capital cost of 4 MBTs. It's probably a better way of waving around the national pride and self-confidence cock.

ajay

Well, at least we know we're going to get the MBTs. We could (and have) put millions into high-end athletics training and got nothing at all out of it in terms of medals.

ejh

a few tenths of a second faster

Do you mean hundredths? If he can beat the rest by tenths, it might be worth the ten million bucks.

Re: Cian's point - I've not supported the national side for about a quarter of a century. This is not only unusual but interesting: I say so because whenever I mention the fact on the internet, it leads to a discussion that's often relatively thoughtful. However, when I was a part-time football writer, I sent a proposal to a publisher (who had previously published me) for a book on the subject, which proposal they rejected. And, given that over the past fifteen years practically anything on football, no matter how unoriginal or stupid, has been able to find a publisher, that's probably why I stopped being a football writer.

ejh

a few tenths of a second faster

Do you mean hundredths? If he can beat the rest by tenths, it might be worth the ten million bucks.

Re: Cian's point - I've not supported the national side for about a quarter of a century. This is not only unusual but interesting: I say so because whenever I mention the fact on the internet, it leads to a discussion that's often relatively thoughtful. However, when I was a part-time football writer, I sent a proposal to a publisher (who had previously published me) for a book on the subject, which proposal they rejected. And, given that over the past fifteen years practically anything on football, no matter how unoriginal or stupid, has been able to find a publisher, that's probably why I stopped being a football writer.

dsquared

you're not exactly guaranteed a successful national pride-boosting outcome with the tanks either though.

(I had to reread that - first time round I thought that Richard was suggesting spending $10m on those funny-looking shoes women buy that are meant to tone your calves as you walk).

Richard J

spending $10m on those funny-looking shoes women buy that are meant to tone your calves as you walk).

Which, by my count, would improve the net happiness of at least 130,000-odd people, more than either tanks or a few ounces of gold.

Chris Williams

OK D2 - you win today's "free from unhealthy fascination with military technology" prize. It's an 'Ivor the Engine' DVD.

ajay

Which, by my count, would improve the net happiness of at least 130,000-odd people

Not to mention the second-order effects of there being 260,000 better-toned female legs in the UK.

Cian

Justin: who are you supporting in the World Cup?

Cian

You'd probably create more jobs with the athletics training, though.

Incidentally, has anyone anywhere in the world ever given a justification for why its apparently okay to subsidise very expensive jobs in military technology, but nothing else. Obviously the argument is bollocks, but it never seems to be challenged.

Richard J

Cian> I suspect PJ O'Rourke's riff on the topic in Parliament of Whores gets rather closer to the truth than anybody would like to admit.

Cian

Well I know why they do it, its more the way that the argument never seems to be challenged. Thatcher used to make the argument in the 80s. How did anyone find it remotely credible coming from them?

Chris Williams

Because war is the state's killer app.

NB - is the above (c) Ken Macleod, or did anyone else beat him to it?

ajay

has anyone anywhere in the world ever given a justification for why its apparently okay to subsidise very expensive jobs in military technology, but nothing else.

"Because we can"; there aren't other areas of industry which are supported almost entirely by government contracts. The government couldn't keep British stationery suppliers afloat by pledging to buy only British stationery.

Igor Belanov

@ejh:

I think they turned you down because not supporting England is the ultimate taboo for the football media, and increasingly in society as a whole. When I say that I'm not bothered how England get on I'm looked at as though I've said I holiday in Middlesbrough or something similar. I've often expected a hostile response to my lack of patriotism, but it's considered so deviant that people are too puzzled to cause trouble. If your book had been published, it would probably have been in the 'True Crime' section.

Cian

Ajay: if by government contracts you mean soft loans and export guarantees... When I briefly worked for the MoD back in the 90s, the mantra was that the only way that the UK could afford its weapon systems was if other countries also bought them. But given that the only way that other countries would buy them was if we essentially subsidised them...

Chris Williams

I find that wrapping up my failure to work up much of a toss about an England team that I don't really know much about (this one) in concern for my club ("I'm happier that Spurs are in Europe than England qualified") is one way of squaring that circle and avoiding the bemused glares of the footy-struck. Perhaps I should just go the whole hog, support St Pauli and have done with it. But I understand that they have just sold out. FC United, perhaps?

Richard J

But given that the only way that other countries would buy them was if we essentially subsidised them...

Or occasionally dropped the fig-leaf and just plain bribed them, of course.

Richard J

Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, I'm sure the British government was shocked - shocked to find out about the Saudi Arabian/BAE case.

ajay

I started to type an answer to this but I think I'd better stop because thinking about procurement just makes me furious.

Richard J

thinking about procurement just makes me furious.

If we compare it to, say, the USSR's MI complex[1], I don't think there's much difference between the end products; both seem to have turned out good designs and complete dogs at roughly the same rate.

[1] Which never really was that influenced by export market requirements in its design processe, as far as I can tell.

ejh

who are you supporting in the World Cup?

I'm not-supporting. Just as I not-support Real and Barca, I am not-supporting England, Spain and Brazil. Other games - as with games not involving Real and Barca - I shall make my mind up on the day, or even change it during the game. I may find myself supporting equalisers, or late winning goals. And if the satellite gets installed next week, I may even get to do some of this while watching the games live.

john b

Not-supporting England and Spain kinda makes post-colonial, post-fascist sense. I'm struggling to see why you'd deliberately not-support Brazil, though.

Isn't that a bit like deliberately not-believing Santa Claus, right down to hiring the suit, heading down to infant school, and saying "ho ho ho, I'm a silly made up thing!"?

ejh

It's because being permanently told that they're everybody's second team fair gets on my wick.

Charlie

"Because we can"; there aren't other areas of industry which are supported almost entirely by government contracts. The government couldn't keep British stationery suppliers afloat by pledging to buy only British stationery.

They could make a decent go of construction. Especially houses and suspension bridges.

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