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PowerPoint Presentations, Politicians, and Peter Pan

"Fear of public speaking ranks slightly below night-landing a plane on an aircraft carrier during a storm," says John Falck, a partner at a trading firm, in the Wall Street Journal's print edition today. This fear, Falck, suggests, is why PowerPoint is so popular. "When they freeze and forget their own name, they can just read it off the first slide."

It occurred to me that many politicians might be no different from most of us. Fearful of speaking, doubly fearful of looking idiotic, they carry PowerPoint presentations inside their heads. This might explain why they find it so hard to change, why, for instance, they look at a great British medical system brought low by the NHS, and repeatedly decide not that the system needs changing but that more money needs to be thrown at its head. Your money if you pay taxes in Britain. The PowerPoint Point most firmly embedded in every politician's head, no matter his or her party, is that government is the answer to every problem.

But clearly, if we could only remember the best of the Brits, it's not.

We mentioned Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in an earlier post. The hospital was started by Brits banding together and starting a hospital for children. This was done all over the country, as we describe here, and James Bartholomew describes in riveting detail in Welfare State.

David reminded me that J M Barrie gave the copyright of Peter Pan to the children's hospital in April 1929, and sales of the magical story have helped countless children. This is the kind of generosity and imagination that a PowerPoint politician with a few fixed ideas cannot see. He or she appears to want the citizen to remain a child beholden to and unable to live without government.

Meanwhile we forget how exhilarating it is to fly, really fly, helping each other.


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