Cost of Crime (1)

In most of my life, economics has been the main reason for not being able to do what I wanted to – from lounging on Caribbean beaches during an England Test tour to getting a European project to help some local kids off the ground.  In the smaller sense of business costing, costs have generally stopped me in my tracks.   Given money is really just plucked from thin air this seems odd.  When it finally dawned on me mos of this plucked cash goes into a bookmaking scam I gave up on economics.

It is estimated that a male high-rate chronic offender on average would impose an annual cost of £18 ($29) per U.K. citizen or a lifetime cost of £742 ($1,185) per U.K. citizen.  This from:

http://jrc.sagepub.com/content/50/1/53

Money expressed like this makes no sense.  It costs each UK citizen £74/year to be in the EU – so four bastard chronic offenders cost each of us as much as EU membership.  Nigel Farrage probably thinks the EU does us more damage, but much as I want the smoking ban lifted, I don’t.  If we could cull only 100 of these shits we could pay our way in 24 varieties of EU – not everyone’s choice in using the money!  I bet it might be enough to get a university of the air off the ground.  I could write the business plan that killed this lot off in return for bounty equivalent to their known cost and build this modern university.  Fees would be about £2K a year for non-science graduate programmes offered to all on an international basis.  I like enterprise solutions to crime, and not much is more criminal than than sticking kids with $100K debts for the opportunity to regurgitate some limited textbook material into a degree certificate.  I’d offer local businesses the chance to host social, sports, art, theatre and discussion events for our students – based on student social networking and organisation.  Electronic library and resource board – all that’s missing is the overhead (60% of charges for a bit of toss-art in the vice chancellor’s lodging).  The International University of Killakrook?

I hope, in rough approximation, this gives you a real idea of the costs of crime.  No one in their right mind would want 24 EU memberships, but would anyone in their right mind really want 100,000 recidivist scrote preventing 1000 innovative start-up businesses every year?  For this is the status quo of our madness.

I see crime and its costs as much wider than this.  Just now I need to find someone with a subscription to the journal with the £18/year per person in the UK figure.  There are 65 million of us.  65,000,000 times £18 is more beer than I could drink in a lifetime.  The research is from Cambridge – maybe they can’t count?    I rarely see social research that can be taken at face value.  £1300 million a year to keep a scrote criminal?  I suspect it’s nearer £1 million – but in principle my figures above work – we just need to kill the crooks 130 times faster.

From the actual paper:

This crime cost is calculated using the following formula with the high-rate
chronic offender group as an example: [2.5 percent (prevalence of male highrate
chronic offenders)  31,118,895 (2011 U.K. male population) ¼
777,972 (total population of male high-rate chronic offenders)  £59,760 (average
cost of a male high-rate chronic offender) ¼ £46,491,606,720/62,698,362
(2011 U.K. total population) ¼ £742 per U.K. citizen]. The annual crime cost
is calculated by dividing the lifetime crime cost by the number of years of
offending data available in the study (41 years).

Sorry abut the loss in electronic translation.  You should be able to tell how easily I’m lead up the garden path reading academic stuff.  It rarely makes itself clear.  I thought these people (before I got the full paper) were saying each of us Brits were coughing up 18 quid for each of these high rate chronic scrotes a year.  In fact each of us is paying 18 quid for all three-quarters of a million of them.  So we pay 4 times more to be in the EU.

This is still a huge amount of money – roughly £1300 million.  Remember this is nowhere near the annual cost of crime in the UK.  The paper is quite interesting and has a lot of further references.

online 16 December 2011
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 2013 50: 53 originally published
Alex R. Piquero, Wesley G. Jennings and David Farrington
“The Monetary Costs of Crime to Middle Adulthood : Findings from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development”.

Aggregate total costs of crime (in the United States) have been estimated to be between $1 and $2 trillion (O’Brien 2010), which is likely an underestimate of the total costs because this includes only known crimes and excludes many whitecollar/corporate crimes whose costs are in the mid-billions to low trillions.

The language that had me confused was this:

It is estimated that a male high-rate chronic offender on average would impose an annual cost of £18 ($29) per U.K. citizen or a lifetime cost of £742 ($1,185) per U.K. citizen.

However, pushing on, it seems there are nearly 778 thousand (2.5% of the male population) of these high-rate chronic offenders amongst us at any time.  On self-reported crime they claim nearly 40 offences for one recorded.  I could not establish how many of them are in jail at any given time – but the proportion must be low when we only have 87,000 banged up from our total population.

Back of a fag packet style let’s say just short of 40,000 of them are banged up – that’s about a 20th of them or 5%.  If we really are cutting crime in this group and all the others, it seems we lack information on why.

 

 

 

Social Change Through New Technology

I have long thought the Internet should be changing the way we live more.  In fact, all the technology seems to be making us globally parochial.  We buy a lot of stuff though Ebay, Ebuyer and Amazon (etc.) – but substantial change would come by breaking the consumerist mode.  If I needed smalltalk, baby pictures and so on I guess the Net has them in plenty.  I suspect such need, even in my form, is more biological.

I’m not much impressed by human emotion – machines can more or less provide art, literature and so on.  The Greeks had rules for tragedy and comedy and such rules on human emotional engagement do transfer to machines that can replicate the colours, shapes and patterns that ‘turn us on’.  The soap opera and art system is such a machine and the knowledge can be embodied as surely in a computer and robot arm as a welder’s skill.  We can even sweep Twatter, Faceflop and the rest to find out what’s in fashion and churn out the next action movie tragedy with human avatars like Stalone to fit.

You can check out the rules of Greek tragedy here if you don’t know them –  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/humor/ – under 6. comedy

The embodiment of knowledge is an old theme.  The Luddites had some clue about it.  Much artisan skill has been embodied in machines – we’ve had less apparent success with professional skills and I suspect this is because professional people are smart enough to protect their competitive advantage better.

We can already buy programmes that will turn a photograph into a Caravaggio – with a 3-d printer we might even make replicas as good as the originals.  It’s not hard to think of putting the brains of a few soap opera constructors in non-human substrate and letting that churn out the dross.

At the non-numpty end of telepresence 90% of US prostrate operations are now done by a remote surgeon.  The change is with us.  Some of us now teach without ever seeing a student.  This is particularly good for my health – I haven’t been plagued with cold and flu-like agonies since leaving the face-to-face disease ridden job.

Deep questions on what originality is are arising and business models are collapsing.  The £50K debts of non-science higher education students are now indefensible – all this work could be done Open University style on something like day-release and networked tutoring – classrooms would be about action and thinking.  Pretty much any supply chain could have the bloat of retailing, finance, marketing and the rest of the ‘middle men taken out.  This has long been the manufacturing model.

The ideology of work for wages (vast bonuses and the rest) is under challenge.  The Internet is mostly global-parochial gossip at the moment.  More people would tune in to watch my dog chase pigeons or the hoover than read this.  In principle it crashes the old rules – but at the moment is merely extending the non-modern simulacrum.  In principle it brings public scrutiny that should change politics – but really we can’t do Panorama ourselves as yet and most postings are gossip not evidence (as in the UK’s paedophile scandal).

I’m struck that the possibilities (and occasional real effect) of the Net already expose the non-modern ideologies we live by.  Our societies are full of gatekeepers (television channels, financiers, corporations, religions) – all could be replaced by nodes.  Currently I might watch ‘The Pope’s Toilet‘ (Uruguay) and mention it in a group or blog – a few friends might thus watch and laugh because I was up late watching BBC4.  Enough of us interested in foreign films could form a node to get them instead of Sky Movies – a new form of marker segmentation.  I could have a cricket and rugby league feed without paying for Premier League soccer.  Trivia in comparison, say, with a history channel that built an analysis of the world wars around the British invasion of Iraq (with mostly Indian troops) and Eurasian adventure, the use of international finance to promote the Nazis and the exploitation of middle eastern oil to command against worker democracy in coal and the oil industry elsewhere.  Bits of this last are about the Net and literature (Timothy Mitchell‘s ‘Carbon Democracy’ is a start if interested).

The practicalities of getting anything going probably  re-write managerial dross on resistance to change and what the barriers to genuine innovation are. What’s being challenged is control of production.  I feel powerless enough to think all I can do at the moment (after day-job commitments) is write a book about what happens after the changes take place.  To corrupt what my mate Lee from Mind’s Eye says – ‘good idea, but well need some suckers brighter than us to handle the transition’.

Don’t Believe an ACPO Word On Modernisation

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/04/chance-to-modernise-police-force – a link to the Lesser Odious Blair – this one the dork who ran the Met.

I spent some time doing organisational restructuring.  It isn’t pleasant and the major “tool” is sacking people.  People are usually the major business cost.  If you can get rid of them you can buy more advanced machines and this usually lets you get – er – rid of more people.  Terms like rationalisation, modernisation, squeezing costs and all kinds of kwality initiatives cover the basic function.

The idea is supposed to be about producing an overall economy that is high productivity, low unit cost.  We all benefit because we end up in smarter jobs, earning more as UK plc vanquishes external competition.  Obvious bolloxs – but most people seem suckered by this drivel – it has a compelling logic but more or less no corroborating data.

Various countries have been stacked up as being better than this than the UK.  The USA, Germany, Japan have all been the lands of milk and honey in the myth.  They never were.  In other countries Thatcher is lauded for curing the British disease, but in fact “Thatcherism” pre-dates the Iron Lady by a couple of decades.

What smashed our working-class economy was international competition – largely a combination of cheap labour putting up with poor working conditions, huge improvements in logistics (particularly shipping), new production engineering requiring greenfield sites, the ability to embody skills in machines and greedy top managers and utterly hapless politicians.

Many sectors of our current economy are uncompetitive, but find ways to look as though they aren’t.  We seem OK with notions like textile workers having to compete with  South Asian sweat shops and child labour, but somehow OK with our cops being paid vast differentials over such distant counterparts – and judges, lawyers, professionals and managers.  There is no evidence they are more productive than their distant counterparts.

So now the cops are putting some of their work out to tender.  In any company doctoring I did, ‘modernisation’ largely involved finding out who was getting paid a lot and could be delayered.  This means cuts to the overall budget – and it does not mean, as Blair glibly states, that this saving will be spent on more vital activities.  It might mean this in a private company where redeploying the savings could increase productivity and sales; but it just will not mean this in the public sector where the spend is being cut.  It means jobs will go through ‘natural wastage’, redundancies and potentially a big axe on promoted jobs through promotion freezes, new forms of ‘area management’ (with fewer managers) and getting management done at lower levels without extra pay.  These are the rules of the game – Blair and other ACPOs hope to manage the process and keep their own fat pay.  If I was doing the job the outcome would be similar, except I’d delayer the lot of them too.

The obvious and rarely addressed problem with all this efficiency is that it only makes sense in an economy with employers hungry for labour and capital hungry to invest in productive economy.  In previous times it has taken the Black Death and world wars to bring this about.  Sent to Japan to see their miracle first-hand, I found low unemployment but also people doing all kinds of non-jobs in banks and government that made our Post Office look like it was running on a skeleton staff (1980s).  There were great conditions in key factories, but also many employed part-time (48 hours a week) on low pay.  It was clear even then they had no answer to maintaining full employment other than government spending.  Though their executives take more responsible pay, my liver is still recovering from expense account spending!

The essential analysis is called business process analysis.  In policing this reveals that much work done is clerical and can thus be done at a cheaper rate.  I would expect much of the management could also be driven down the ranks and senior jobs eliminated under a form of area management,  You don’t hire extra staff, but cheaper new  staff and although you want the management done, you want this to be part of the lower order jobs, not a LOMBARD class (lots of money but are right dicks).

I could knock out a spreadsheet on what changes produce what savings.  As a clue, you cost the average PC with her on costs (pension, redundancy entitlements etc.), get rid of 100 and cost the new staff (say 50 clerks) and their on costs.  You then cash-flow the savings to show break even points.  You bring in a new rank of ‘supervising constable’ (some are currently called area beat managers) and see how many sergeants and inspectors can go.  Keep doing this until you have rid the world of half of ACPO.

The upfront redundancy costs are laid off against future savings and reduced cash-flow.  You might create a new management level with all current ranks from chief inspector of chief super rolled into one and put out to interview.

Alongside this you would look to reduce the number of steps and any duplication in identified business processes – say getting some bastard to court.  Summons, for instance, beats arrest, custody and charge hands down in business terms.

I admit it is complex, but it always means fewer and less well paid jobs with lower pensions.  No one has ever worked out how to do any of this and produce new job opportunities with comparable pay and conditions.  Why would the private sector produce such when it can invest elsewhere at cheaper rates that bring it more profit?  The private sector cavalry is as mythical as Custer  is as a hero (basically he was a money-grubber who led his men on a cavalry charge into a volcano after an act of genocide).

Not only will the jobs that go never return, the ‘savings’ won’t help the economy either.  Wages have flat-lined since 1980 and cash in the hands of our bottom 50% (most cops) has shrunk from 14% to 1 %.  This is why our pubs, shops and so on have disappeared and why much small business can’t make its way – no one can spend unless they borrow and that bubble has burst,  The redundant cop with any sense will pay down her mortgage debt, not go on a spending rampage.  Most won’t get a sinecure in Bahrain to make sure nothing changes there!

I think most would agree our legal system needs modernisation and to be much cheaper.  We would like to see our economy more productive.  The way to do this is through full employment as a right and democratic-approved earnings caps in all sectors and a more equal society which retains (or improves) innovation motivation and getting the work we need done done.  I’ve always wondered why we are so scared of this and why, with chronic examples like the Soviet Union, we are so tamely on the road to serfdom under banking tyranny’s unseen politburo.

Any money saved in police modernisation (I think ACPO so dire it will end up as a cost) will just be sucked into the swamp of money making money a long way from our shores. And our cops will end up demoralised, just as the communities based around mines still are.  The shining economic miracle of the Rising Sun is now the dead donkey of leading government debt.  If they couldn’t do the jobs business why should we think we can using the ideology that failed them?  Sound, capitalist Japanese will tell you cutting government spending actually made their earlier collapse much worse.

UK Financial Sector Debt and Assets May Be A Good Thing

National Statistics (ONS) say our external liabilities were £6.7 trillion in Q2 – 461% of our annualized GDP.  The UK is presented in a number of horror headlines as ‘the world’s biggest debtor.  Given most of us see debt as owing someone else and as a bad thing, all the financial services debt tends to be seen as a very bad thing.  This neglects that there are two columns to consider – debt and assets.  UK overseas assets are also big. They‘re £6.4 trillion. So our net overseas liabilities are just £309.4bn, 21.2% of annualized GDP. This itself largely a reflection of the fact that we’ve been running  small current account deficits for ever and a day.
Our huge gross assets and liabilities, to a large extent, reflect the UK’s position as a financial centre and much of the debt-asset combination is actually held by foreign banks operating in the UK.

If a UK bank  swaps a loan with a French one, UK assets and liabilities vis-à-vis France both rise by the same amount. The UK does more of this sort of thing than other countries, so our overseas assets and liabilities are disproportionately big relative to other countries.  We may have some severe problems if we’ve been doing dodgy swaps with Greeks, but if due diligence has been observed this won’t be the case.

In Q2 we actually had a small surplus (£3.4bn) on net investment income, as our assets yielded more than our liabilities.  This excludes capital gains or losses, but is what you’d expect from prudent investment.  After all, a business borrows money and incurs debt in order to make a profit – the idea is to make profit faster than you spend on costs.

Our big overseas assets and liabilities are just what we need if we haven’t just been buying pigs in pokes.  As sterling falls it’s a good idea to have foreign assets, though I guess our foreign currency assets are largely matched by foreign currency borrowing.

There are many questions on whether our financial wizards are keeping honest books and any of the assets are worth more than a ton of Max Keiser‘s goat poo, but in principle this aspect of UK debt does not turn us into the world’s largest debtor and could actually be healthy unless the assets it bought turn out to be high yield, delta-hedged Greek honesty bonds or securitisation of sub-prime mortgages in Gary Indiana. The question is whether the money was borrowed and pissed up the wall (in bankster bonuses), or used to buy investments that will pay an income or appreciate.  You’d think some overpaid BBC BimboJourno would be able to tell us.

The UK has been buying a lot of US paper of late (along with the other major international debtor Japan).  It may be that all this debt is part of a giant Ponzi scheme and that all will go tits up if some parties stop doing the trades (China and Russia are pulling the plug on US paper).  I can’t tell and the standard analysis, still absent from BBC Bimbo levels of reporting, is as above.  Nothing to worry about if the money has been used to buy real stuff or in honest trades.  After all, if you owe a few million, invested in houses and the rents pay the mortgages and give you a net income, life is sweet.  If you pissed it away on tonsil lubricant down the local or bet on a donkey in The Derby, it ain’t.  The latter would be the case if this UK financial sector overseas debt is floating on Greek credit derivative swaps.  Some hedge fund may well be betting this is the case.  If banks weren’t allowed so much secrecy I could tell you.  If I was a BBC journalist, I’d be making enquiries – but then who’d want to be that git Robert Peston?  I’d place a bet on him being next in line for Royal toadying.  Given our useless media, we’ll have to wait for the umpteenth Greek bailout to fail to know just what UK and foreign banks here have been buying.  I already have a bet on that failure!

In the meantime, we need to remember that debt is an investment and working out what to invest in instead of the doomed austerity project.  Crap like Facebook and business models based on advertising revenue won’t do and nor will financial services that need bubbles and asset inflation.  I’d go for an investment in our young and unemployed people giving them all three years international service administered by our universities and hopefully partnered across the EU and USA.  I’d put this on a war footing without a war.  And I’d make the rich pay by investing in the project.  The real problem with debt is we’ve been investing in the wrong things.  Money shouldn’t be allowed to make money and income should either be earned through work or invested in developing people rather than riches for a few.  Debt should be a matter of honour and gratitude for that investment, not debt peonage to the rich.  And what would be better than the entrepreneurial, creative private sector doing this public good instead of flooding us with plastic crap from China and horning in on those parts of the public sector already run better by the State?

We Need New thinking On High Earnings And Wealth

In 1989, the CEOs of the seven largest banks in the US earned an average of $2.8 million, almost a hundred times the annual income of the average US household. In the same year, the CEOs of the largest four UK banks earned £453,000, fifty times average UK household income. These are striking inequalities. Yet by 2007, at the height of the financial sector boom, CEO pay at the largest US banks had risen nearly tenfold to $26 million, more than five hundred times US household income, while among the UK’s largest banks it had risen by an almost identical factor to reach £4.3 million, 230 times UK household income in that year.

People who have benefited from such obscene ‘pay’ often get any debate on it steered towards the idea they earned the money and the chance to do this was central to their ‘motivation’.  Yet the evidence may be that they were making negative contribution to our economies all the time, fuelling bubbles that would inevitably burst.  And the creation of this super-rich class has also confounded what we thought were our democracies.  I doubt it’s now possible to vote anywhere for candidates not sullied by the money-grubbing.  Blair is a classic example, but across the pond politicians can legally trade on insider information and beat the markets in their personal dealings by 12%, way in excess of traders like Soros.  The classic study on this is –  “Abnormal Returns from the Common Stock Investments of the U.S. Senate, Alan J. Ziobrowski, Ping Cheng, James W, Boyd, and Brigitte J. Ziobrowski, was published in the Journal of Financial and
Quantitative Analysis (Dec. 2004).

Many questions need to be asked before we are suckered into asking whether the right question is whether huge salaries are desirable or even necessary.  The first is what these payments actually are and how we pay for them.  Banking is not self-sustaining, and any moves have effects on the rest of us – what would be the point of the vast riches is they didn’t buy something off the rest of us?  My argument is we become indentured to them.

Many of us have not yet noticed the effects of quantitative easing and the rest of the bailout.  Some have seen their monthly pensions drop from (say) £1200 to £580 and no doubt some have lost jobs and the rest.  Greece is falling apart and Ireland is suffering.  Worse is coming.

Your standard BBC Bimbonews allows various propagandists to present the business-as-usual drivel.  We need to find ways to subvert this dross and get to the real arguments that aren’t hopelessly confined to academic journals.  We are committing our children and their children to debt peonage because we are dumbly satisfied that these mega-payments can be earned, and it really beggars belief we are better off by paying the piper.  If we had Daleks exterminate them all overnight, the system would be running again in days if not hours – sadly much as it always has.  Munich did not finish off Manchester United.

One would expect, had these bwankers been creating real wealth, that there would be plenty of it around for public services and pensions.  Instead we face austerity whilst the rich grow richer.  I conclude they were never producing real wealth and merely stealing in a complex fraud.  There have been massive rises in productivity and we should be living easier.  We’re being stiffed and can’t even talk about it, rather like abuse victims.  One can hardly imagine Albert Einstein saying, ‘I smarter than you bastards, give me all your money’!

Is this coming for us?

This is coming to our streets.  I hate the idea.  We may as well have a one-party state.  I know former students with no job who have more debt than my mortgage thanks to useless degrees and a non-existent job market.  I’m moving into apprentice assessment so I can look at myself in the mirror.  I don’t mean the video as anti-cop.  Until we can vote law, what can they do?  The same cops who will be doing this are the ones between us and the looters.

The worst is yet to come – and bring it on

Most of us looking on at the ‘Euro-antics’ and OccupyX probably have some disdain for the lot if it.  How long before a police officer is badly hurt trying to do his or her best over protests that are probably necessary because our democratic centre is collapsing?  Most of us are getting round to knowing the ‘bimbo BBC‘ type of coverage offers no real analysis.  Over the last few months they have been catching on very slowly but are still trapped in the idea that this is some kind of liquidity crisis in banking.

I’m reminded of my old work in chemistry – banking looking like endothermic reactions that suck energy in, a control system that uses up all the resources with only tiny returns.  It’s as though we are watching a game of Monopoly expecting this to produce a real economy. BBC Bimboistas tell us money is being pumped into the economy, but QE and such are no such thing and build no factories and provide no cash (wages, partial debt jubilee) that might keep restaurants and pubs open.

No jobs are being created (beyond churning) and the old attitudes pervade – we talk of education and training – but seriously go to your local job centre and look what turns up on their machines – take a serious look at how limited many jobs are, requiring few skills and a decent attitude to hygiene and punctuality.  There is no structural analysis and yet there is scary talk about making sackings easier – scary not because some shirkers might get the push but because it reeks of indenture to ‘work correctness’.  Most of us know to say we are hard workers, relish challenge and so on – but the reality is something else entirely – we’re waiting to win the lottery and escape.

The further up the greasy pole I slid, the less work I found being done, and less talent.  Essentially, I hate politics and want as little of it and government as possible.  I’d say the same of economics.  I want enough of both for street protests to be marginal, not mainstream.  Our problems are that we have too much of the damned stuff and what there is works only in the interests of a tiny minority.  It’s enough to turn a non-believer like me onto the street – and this is what I think the problem will become, writ large. Newsnight’s solution tonight is eating insects.  This is the only part of the programme with any intellectual validity.  It’s about farting, with insects 8 times less flatulent than pigs.

My guess is our problems are to do with work-shyness.  We have created non-job after non-job whilst degrading the rewards of real hard graft, instead of organising worthwhile work around vast improvements in technology and productivity.  And we are about to ‘discover’ this as surely as any of the ‘economic bubbles’ that have been pricked from dotcon to ghost city building.  This is being left out of ‘analysis’ and is what will eventually spill onto our streets.  Our problem is efficiency in production and waste in neurosis all around it.  My students are always visibly shocked by real work seen and heard in factory and mine visits – and look at what happens when the BBC takes our callow youth to do work in the far east.  I feel I teach little more than how to idle in bureaucracies in my classrooms..  They are content there, knowing I have to set them something easy enough to pass.  They study so little, most don’t even realise inflation will ensure their loan repayments kick in at half the real pay they think it will.  A vague memory of phrases such as debt peonage may ring in the future we are killing off for them, keeping quiet to ensure mortgage payments.  A few – those who grasp that the single Gaussian copula isn’t a cooking implement – might get in on the right bets in what follows the shock to come.

We are close now to the shock promised in the last days of my youth – that of computerised expert knowledge catching up with other embodied knowledge in production that has robots doing what was once skilled work.  My lectures have long been obsolete, but ‘death by Powerpoint’ continues for now.  Accountants continue even though software does a better job – the ‘reason’ in both cases is fraud and being able to sign off (pass) what our VCs or CEOs want.  This is OK as long as ‘good times’ eventually roll but they look to have stopped.  There is no real market for university graduates and the times in which the off-balance-sheet could be lost in a good year are catching up on us as the ‘holes’ brim over.

The answer is to slay the Jabberwock.  Instead, politicians who would be mediocre students pretend they know what they are doing and feed our virgin daughters to it.

Hindsight Bias

Hindsight is the retrospective view of events and how they unfolded; hindsight 
bias describes overestimation of how easy it should have been to be successful 
and oversimplification of what should have been done (Fischoff 1975; Hawkins 
& Hastie 1990). This has been a particularly prominent issue in counterterrorism 
operations which often result in post-operational reviews, frequently with some 
degree of political motivation. Such reviews are likely to be affected by hindsight 
bias, in which it is difficult, and arguably impossible, to ignore the effect of later 
information on a decision made in the absence of that information. Hindsight 
bias has been a significant public issue in cases such as the London bombings 
and the Haneef case, where—with the benefit of hindsight—commentators 
have been extremely critical of the police response. This has impacted on the 
procedures, policies and practices of future operations and thus is of critical 
importance.
Hawkins, SA & Hastie, R 1990, ‘Hindsight: biased judgments of past events 
after the outcomes are known’, Psychological Bulletin, vol. 107, no. 5, pp. 
311–327.

This is pretty standard academic consideration of hindsight.  Cops often have to make decisions without full evidence and I’m sympathetic to claims that their actions are often viewed by hindsight clowns.  The presence of this bias does not mean mistakes don’t happen and hindsight bias can be overcome.  Generally we would look at the ‘protocols’ of how bias in decision making was ruled out as far as possible.  The following is an example:

Eight systematic steps that can be applied to an analytical problem to encourage good 
decision-making: 
1. identifying different hypotheses about what is happening in the domain 
of interest. Heuer suggests that the more uncertain a situation is, and the 
greater the impact of a decision, the more alternative scenarios should be 
hypothesised 
2. making a list of the significant evidence and arguments for each hypothesis 
3. refining the hypotheses into a matrix with evidence that is assessed for the 
degree to which it supports the arguments 
4. deleting the evidence that has no diagnostic value 
5. developing tentative conclusions about the relative likelihood of each 
hypothesis and trying to find evidence to disprove hypotheses rather than 
proving them 
6. assessing the sensitivity of the conclusions to a few sources of evidence, 
with the implication being that if those sources of evidence are incorrect 
or subject to a different interpretation then the conclusions may be wrong 
7. reporting conclusions that will include not only the most likely conclusion 
but also alternatives 
8. articulating what evidence should be collected in the future to ensure that 
their assessments are not being deviated from.

We now know from Operation Crevice (the dorks with the huge bag of fertiliser) that two of the London bombers were followed from London to Leeds before dropping off the radar (one was cropped out of a photograph sent to the Americans and might have been recognised there).  The hindsight excuse has been used on this, but this covers another failing – that of lack of resources.  The terrorist threat is supposedly still with us, we know this mistake was made because of resource prioritising, yet we can ‘afford’ to slash police numbers?  One might think a case could be made for redirected our ‘slashed coppers’.  One can already sense in ‘pre-hindsight’ the excuses politicians will make if there is another outrage.

Is This The Weekend Calm Before “Black Monday”?

Standard and Poor have dropped the US credit rating a point.  Most stock markets are down a lot.  We might get the idea that the world economy is a busted flush.  This is not true – we can organise growing, building and manufacturing better than ever before.  The problems lie in what is essentially criminal activity in which the rich have rigged markets so that they can take a disproportionate share.  We are suffering from financial terrorism and rackets that have devalued real work and ordinary investment.  There are no super skills in trading and banking, just dirty deals, money laundering, tax evasion and insider trading.

Those claiming we need to make government small, reduce public spending and the rest do so from positions of extreme privilege.  They have broken the social contract in much more serious ways than chief constables who have ‘influenced’ job application processes.  I personally despised the kind of big government dictatorships of the Sino-Soviet or National Socialist kind.  At least we could see them and organise against them.  The current oligarchs are almost invisible, yet form ‘big government’ in the worst possible sense that we can’t vote them out.  It is these interests that are telling us we can’t afford to spend on health, education and most of what we actually want.

There is false accounting all over the world, from Chinese local government through performance management techniques like police statistics and on to corporate scams where they always know how to pay out bonuses but always can’t work out responsibilities when things go belly up.  Losses are hidden through devices as disparate as the Chinese ghost cities, the Irish ghost towns, losses claimed as assets across local government in southern Europe and piles of derivative trades that were always insurance scams with no intent to pay should an accident happen.  This latter lot is being paid for through quantitative easing and the bank bail outs.

There’s an interesting policing point in all this (admittedly philosophical) – and it’s almost the same as that before the troops in the French Revolution – should they keep defending the old order or join the people?  I’m not encouraging sedition, but am saying it is time for some serious consideration of whether police or armed services are really working for the Crown or something sinister (I don’t mean intentionally).  In some parts of the world, ‘police’ are backing actions not unlike the Scottish Enclosures and the money involved can be tracked back to prestigious alumni funds.

Productivity has changed by factors of ten since I was dragged up in times of full employment, reasonably strong unions and we could expect pensions to be paid.  We should be in a position of strength and peace now, not waiting for depression.  The rich have stolen this chance from us.  Those claiming now that we must take austerity are no different from Mao and his cronies stealing wheat from their own people, starving, beating and bullying 45 million to their deaths.  When we can do everything quicker and better, how can we be in dire straights unless the system is fundamentally flawed and corrupt?

Black Monday may pass as a damp squib – but we are already long past the time where political action should have been able to avert the pain that is about to hit us.  £3 trillion has been wiped off share prices across the markets in the last week.  Banks aren’t lending money, even though they have been given huge amounts.  They need to borrow money to lend and trust has evaporated.  We might think of shutting them down and returning to sensible expectations of company performance and growth – instead we are told we need to work for less, take high levels of unemployment, slash benefits, health care …

We’re being had.

Microsoft Games For Windows Live Hacked

I don’t usually leave my bank details anywhere on line, but Microsoft make it very difficult to remove them when you set up an X-Box of live account.  Mine has just been hacked – my grandson’s really.  What gets me is Microsoft have known about this for several months and done nothing – other than deny a problem.  My bank are treating it as theft-fraud and \I’ll get the money back.  I wish there was an alternative trustworthy in the games market – I’ve found them all dire over the years.  In the current scam the hackers have been taking Microsoft points for months now.  Given the thieves are buying Microsoft Points you have to wonder how the manage to use them and divert whatever they get from the owner’s account.  I’d go for an inside job.

The general level of customer service in this area is sub-zero.  EA Games – now Origin are dire too.  They can’t get much right, taking ages to have anything in place and broadly not giving a damn about ripped-off customers.  I suspect this area may be the next in line from booze and cigarettes as a health hazard.