In April last year I wrote this:
The thing that always enrages me about governments is they are doubly shit at performing vital state functions: murdering scumbags go free and innocent people get banged up; police harass citizens over trivial matters while serious crime remains a problem; jihadists are let into the country to carry out terrorist attacks but Canadian right-wing journalists are turned back at the airport and banned for life.
I may have said this before, but the reason nobody minds draconian laws and policing in Singapore is because it works: the city is clean, safe, and orderly. What Britain (and a lot of other places) has managed is to have all the drawbacks of an overbearing state but none of the advantages. What appalls people so much about the latest case of people who’ve lived peacefully in the UK for decades being deported is not simply the injustice, which is bad enough. It’s that at the same time we cannot deport lunatic hate preachers from the Middle East with a hook in place of a right hand because it’s against their human rights. Oh, and we need to pay for his four wives and eighteen children, too. I exaggerate, but not by much. If the state is not going to do any good, they at least ought not to do harm.
When you live in the developing world you learn not to expect much from the state institutions. After all, they are often hopelessly corrupt and the people working in them unmotivated, untrained, and poorly paid. But a feature of the decline of western civilisation is government institutions (and companies: see my posts on Boeing, for example) losing their core competence while remaining ruthlessly effective when it comes to irrelevant nonsense. Here’s a great example:
The @WHO has confirmed the UK has lost its ‘measles free’ status. Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to man and lots of work is underway to combat the rise in cases. Our blog explains the current situation: https://t.co/99jBUnfJiz #ValueofVaccines @DHSCgovuk pic.twitter.com/7P1MANrle7
— Public Health England (@PHE_uk) August 19, 2019
As the name suggests, Public Health England is the government body charged with overseeing public health in England and Wales. As Chris Snowdon has documented, they have been instrumental in lobbying for legislation as to how much sugar, salt, and fat should be in every item of food, how large restaurant portions should be, and how supermarkets should arrange their shelves. Yet they’ve presided over a situation where people’s distrust of vaccines and government authorities has led to an increase in measles outbreaks. As Snowdon says, you had one job.