In the garden, this evening.
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Quote of the Day
You may have lost interest in the pandemic. It has not lost interest in you.
- The Economist
Boris Johnson’s ‘new deal’ is Roosevelt lite
This morning’s Observercolumn:
It’s back to the future time again. Boris Johnson is trying to wrap himself in the cape of Franklin Roosevelt and his famous New Deal, while his consigliere, Cummings, wants to go back to the 1950s and reboot Britain by building an imitation of the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa – later Darpa, with the D standing for defence).
Both projects have touching aspects of romanticism, ignorance and absurdity. In relation to Johnson’s FDR tribute band, his proposed £5bn splash on infrastructure comes to about 0.2% of GDP, whereas Roosevelt’s New Deal was estimated to be worth 40% of US national income in 1929. Roosevelt built dams, housing, roads and bridges across America. He restored the banking system, set up the Securities and Exchange Commission, encouraged trade unions. From 1933, his public works administration built the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, the Grand Coulee Dam and completed the Hoover Dam. Roosevelt instituted a minimum wage and maximum hours in certain businesses and asserted the right of workers to organise. For his part, Johnson will be refurbishing schools and repairing bridges – both good in their way, but on a minuscule scale. And he doesn’t seem to have any plans for reining in the City or for encouraging workers’ rights. So his Roosevelt rhetoric is basically back-of-the-envelope hogwash.
What, then, of Cummings, back from his victory tour of the north-east?
Here’s a salutary suggestion
Watch Trump’s Inaugural Address with the benefit of hindsight. Sensitive souls may need to keep a sickbag handy. But in the light of what we now know, it’s a really instructive way of spending 16 minutes. Interestingly, the speech is well delivered; Trump’s speaking style has noticeably deteriorated since then, so the comparison is striking. My hunch is that the speech was written by Steve Bannon, who at that stage was playing the role for Trump that Dominic Cummings now plays for Boris Johnson.
A rare bird: a tech CEO with moral courage
Patrick Collison, the co-founder of the online-payments company Stripe, is one of the most interesting people in the tech world. Also, he appears to have a functioning conscience.
Covid simulations by Japanese supercomputer have bad news for open-plan offices
Simulation video available here.
The bottom line: plexiglass screens don’t guarantee your safety.
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