Monday, 29 March 2021

Sir Humphrey Appleby loves Mariana Mazzucato.


Mariana Mazzucato is a big cheeze at the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. The latter organisation spews out a never ending torrent of waffle aimed of course at keeping people at the UCL IIPP employed at the taxpayers’ expense.

Their latest bit of waffle is an article published by Project Syndicate entitled “Building Back Worse” (authored by Mariana Mazzucato and others). It’s difficult to know which sentence or paragraph is the most meaningless, but I particularly like this one: “And no government can achieve a goal as complex as carbon-neutrality without mechanisms for eliciting and coordinating the participation of business, academia, and civil society.”

So business and academia have to be “coordinated”, presumably by some sort of Whitehall based coordination committee (which would be music to the ears of Sir Humphrey Appleby)? Personally I can’t see what would be wrong with business getting on with installing wind turbines, with “academia” doing whatever research it thinks best, even if totally unrelated to, i.e. not coordinated with the current generation of wind turbines.

In other words “academia” MIGHT think that research money is best spent improving existing wind turbines. But they might think research money would be better spent on wind powered merchant ships or generating power from the tidal flows.  

And why do the efforts of “civil society” need to the “coordinated” with what academia or business is doing? Darned if I know. I mean if civil society in the form of think tanks or other pressure groups want to promote Bill Gates’s idea of spreading chalk dust into the upper atmosphere so as to cut global warming, presumably Mazzucato & Co would want to see some sort of Whitehall committee telling think tanks etc to stop because that activity is not “coordinated” with existing renewable energy projects.

My reaction to the latter prohibition, if I was working for a think tank, would be to tell the relevant Whitehall committee and Mariana Mazzucato to get lost.

And why does the “participation of civil society” need to be “elicited” by some sort of “mechanism” (i.e. Whitehall committee consisting of Humphrey Appleby and friends)? Civil society actually has a nasty habit of deciding for itself what it wants to promote, often to the annoyance of politicians and senior civil servants, like Sir Humphrey Appleby.

But at least Mariana Mazzucato’s ideas would involve the creation of numerous Whitehall committees: music to the ears of Sir Humphrey Appleby.


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