A lot of good stuff around the web this week...
Tobacco Harm Reduction finds an explanation for social engineering from Terry Pratchett:
Paraphrasing, the observation was that the problem faced by self-declared revolutionaries of the people is not that we have the wrong government — that goes without saying — but that we have the wrong people. In other words, the self-styled revolutionary has talked himself into believing that he is devoting his life to save the people from their oppressors. But he usually discovers, much to his frustration, the people do not really mind how things are — at least not enough to join him on the barricades.
So eventually, after breaking the power of the old guard, the Peoples’ Revolutionaries (c.f. Stalin, Mao, Castro, et al.) they have to start devoting their energies to controlling the behavior of the people who they were supposedly try to help because those damn people just do not understand what is good for them.
At the Sunday Times, Minette Marrin is bang on the money, echoing the idea set out by Peter Obourne in The Triumph of the Political Class:
What’s really going on, I think, is that the nature of class war has changed. The old virus has mutated. The old social and political divisions have given way to two new classes — rather as on the trains. Those in economy are most of us, paying for the comforts of those in first class. And those in first class are the new political class — all those who owe their advancement and their security and their pensions and their privileges not to their backgrounds or their talents, or even necessarily their political parties, but to the state and our taxes.
At Spiked, Patrick Hayes has a great article about the British government's massive expenditure on public service advertising:
Nothing better reveals the contempt in which the New Labour government holds the British public than its advertising campaigns. Millions of pounds are being spent to ensure that wherever there is a potential captive audience there will be a government advert telling you how disgusting you are.
I would only add that one effect of having the government as the country's biggest advertiser is that it acts as a disincentive for commercial organisations to criticise its schemes. When the news comes from an independent source like ITN this isn't too much of problem, but I know from working in the local press that if one of your major sources of revenue is the council or health authority, this cannot help but influence editorial decisions.
As reported by Pub Curmudgeon, the UK's public health minister is mad, stupid or a liar. Whichever it is, she's not fit to hold office.
“The pub trade does have challenges and I am aware of that but it isn’t the case that the ban had led to pub closures.”
Taking Liberties has more on this jaw-dropping comment.
Tobacco Truth has more on thirdhand smoke hysteria:
The anti-tobacco extremists’ motto: if you can measure it, it must be deadly.
And finally, Stanton "trust me, I'm a doctor of mechanical engineering" Glantz gives a lesson in how to lose friends and alienate people from his San Francisco bunker. Still banging on about smoking in the movies, he takes pride in Julia Roberts' assistant sending his junk mail back unread and threatening to sue him. After calling actors 'self-absorbed jerks', the great scientist recalls how one of the major studios also threatened to sue him.
This is followed up in the New York Times, with Glantz admitting that the Smokefree Movies ruse is designed to lose studios money:
Dr. Glantz led the way to hold tobacco companies accountable for profiting from smoking, and did the same with Hollywood, helping expose and end product-placement deals that promoted cigarette brands in movies. His current Smoke Free Movies campaign wants films that include smoking to receive R ratings, which might substantially hurt their box office receipts.
“That’s the whole idea,” Dr. Glantz said.
Way to wins hearts and minds, Stan!