Mass Murder LOLs

One striking aspect of the Star Wars behemoth is how the bad guys have become hip1.  The triangles and chevrons of the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper mask have become iconic in their way, and adorn T-shirts, rucksacks, pin-badges, and even baby clothes.

It therefore seems natural that one can buy Darth Vader and Stormtrooper outfits for your kids. Continue reading “Mass Murder LOLs”

Veblen Royals

The Sun argues that it is in the public interest to publish naked pictures of Prince Harry. I say it is in the public interest to keep them out of the papers. It reinforces the notion that celebrities (and for better or for worse, Royals are a form of ‘celeb’) can operate by different standards of behaviour to the rest of us.

We’ve been here before. Remember when upstanding moral beacon Prince William groped a Brazillian teenager, Ana Ferreira? Antics that would and should get you thrown out of the nightclub, and maybe even a visit from the police in other circumstances, are waved away as ‘just a bit of fun’ or ‘spreading wild oats’ if you are a Royal. People were less understanding when (Mike Tindall was caught on camera in a lap-dancing club, but he is only married to a Royal).

The double-standards we grant to some people was amusingly highlighted by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian yesterday:

He is the Boris Johnson of the royal family, a buffoon whose every antic only improves his public standing.

In economics, a Veblen Good is a status symbol that defies the usual assumptions about price and demand. Such goods becomes more sought after when the price increases (for example, Rolls Royce cars). In such a way, Prince Harry is the Veblen Royal, where the things that would sink a less likeable member of the Royal Family (Prince Edward, say?) only increase his stock. Boris Johnson is a Veblen Politician.

Should public figures aspire to Veblen status? No. The problem with the concept is that it is arises due to arrogance and unnatural wealth. We deplore Veblen goods when we encounter them in economics, and we should not encourage the Royal or Political variations either. The excessive attention only encourages the behaviour… and the behaviour usually involves demeaning other people.

Extending Harry's Tour

Its great that Prince Harry has had a chance to serve in Afghanistan. As this blog has argued previously, to keep him at home would have made a mockery of the armed forces.

Instead, they showed some chutzpah and a little bit of cunning, by sending him off to Helmand and not telling anyone.

Indeed, to be foiled by a measly blog post in America or Australia or wherever it was is disappointing. They need to continue thinking along the same tactical lines. After all, withdrawing Leiutenant Wales early is a significant personell issue, just like a battlefield casualty.

Update

Here’s Leo Docherty, veteran of the Afghanistan campaign, on attitudes to war amongst the officer class:

Put simply, this is a disastrous military adventure and not a just war. Perhaps Prince Harry knows this. More likely, however, is that he’s not too bothered about it because, for him, as for every other young officer, seeing active service is more important than any other consideration. This attitude is perhaps unavoidable in a highly trained professional army in which “cracking on” and doing what you’re told is an institutional requirement.

But the Army has over the past few years of the “war on terror” exceeded itself when it comes to blind obedience. Take the Iraq war. In 2003 my fellow officers and I knew the WMD issue was a blatant ruse, but we cared little. Scenting action we ignored the fact that we’d been told a pack of lies, and satisfied ourselves with the vague notion that it was all for the good. We simply craved active service.