Heartbreak by Andrea Dworkin is a memoir of her youth and early career as a feminist. It's not sequential: dashes hither and thither through her life, without giving a full account of it.
In some ways I get the feeling she was the Richard Stallman of feminism. There's no denying her commitment or her significance; but her personal appearance, refusal to compromise and occasional divisiveness caused some embarrassment.
The book seems to have been written as a defence against her critics, but without having read the criticism that across as a bit self-aggrandising. Perhaps not wanting to seem a victim, Dworkin doesn't discuss the circumstances of her own prostitution or abuse much, apart from the odd detail.
What I'm Watching
Saw the 1936 Frank Capra movie Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, which somehow I've never seen before. Fun (if sentimental) comedy about a rural eccentric who comes to New York after inheriting a fortune. Well worth watching, fast and with enough funny lines that it's still enjoyable to watch.
Pre-Budget Report thoughts
Hopefully they'll abolish these after the election. One budget a year is quite bad enough. Having another just gives another excuse for daft populist measures. And the media frenzy is annoying too, especially the way all the news sites make a big deal out of LIVE REALTIME REPORTING, when no-one can really make sense of it till they've gone away and done the sums and thought through the implications.
At least this one doesn't seem to have amounted to much: just a minor tweaking of existing plans. Looks like Darling's mostly resisted any calls from Brown for huge spending giveaways. See David Smith; Stephanomics 1, 2, 3.
Bankers bonus windfall tax. I think that's morally justified and a reasonable thing to aim at. First there's the moral hazard of the bailout: if they do too well they have an incentive to recreate the crisis. Second there's the massive taxpayer bailout that's benefited the entire industry: not unreasonable to try to claim some of it back.
Whether it's actually workable: probably not, I expect they'll just loophole their way out of it. But as government policies go, it doesn't seem to be particularly harmful. If we're lucky they may even raise slightly more money than it costs to implement it.
One thing I don't like is the public sector pay cap. It seems like it'll be popular with many voters, but it's the kind of top-down micromanagement that's likely to be damaging.
First, managers should be able to set pay at a level that's attracts sufficient competent staff. To pick an example, suppose there's a shortage of, say, neonatal nurses. You should be able to then raise their pay and attract more of them. But with a pay cap you can't. You advertise, the vacancies aren't filled, there's a staff shortage, and premature babies die unnecessarily. Meanwhile there might be surplus of other kinds of nurses.
Second, if you want to cut wage costs, it might actually be better to fire the worst performing staff, and pay the remainder enough to attract good people. But that's not an option.
This is particularly important since as the supposed aim is to improve public sector efficiency, which should be possible. It's going to be pretty hard to improve efficiency when you can't reward good people, aren't given an incentive to fire bad people, and can't set wages at the right level.
However, it's likely to be a popular measure, except amongst public sector workers themselves. To the left it looks like you're cutting costs without mass firings, to the right it looks like you're punishing people they regard as lazy parasites.
Not sure whether to go to the Harrow mosque demo on Sunday. I think after last time's disturbances the police will have everybody kettled up, so there's not much to do except stand around desperately wanting to pee.
Sci/tech. Swine flu less deadly than expected "The rate in the 1918-19 H1N1 pandemic was 2%-3%. Rates in the subsequent pandemics (1957-58 and 1967-68) were in the order of 0.2%. The case fatality rate in the current pandemic is 0.026%."
Economics. Confederacy as Big Government as Union.
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