Thursday, 25 August 2016
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
But leaving that aside, I want to focus here on a bigger part of the Corbyn picture, because long before Train-Gate, I've been told several times that whatever faults Jeremy Corbyn has (for Americans, read Bernie Sanders) he is a man of strong, principled integrity, and that such a thing is a rare quality in politics. I would say such people are half right: yes, integrity is too rare in politics, but no, Jeremy Corbyn doesn't have it - not in my eyes. Here's why.
For I see no principled integrity in knowing the full extent of one's folly yet not bothering to live with values consistent with the correction of that folly, and I see very little integrity in not properly researching the economic arguments, logic and reasoning that so easily expose his ideas as being harmful to the economy, to growth and to the increased prosperity of others in poorer nations too. The fixed pie fallacy, the free lunch fallacy, the 'seen and unseen' fallacies, the failure to understand the damage of price fixing, excessive taxation - you name it, Corbyn falls for it.
It's not all that different to how a biologist might feel about a young earth creationist or an astronomer might feel about an astrologer - they may concede that such people believe they have good intentions, and are often quite likeable personality-wise, but there is very little integrity in being the kind of people forever trying to give credit to long-standing discredited views when it is so easy to pick up a few text books and see the folly for themselves.
Or to put it another way, a medicine is being offered to cure a disease that's been cured by another kind of medicine. And to rub salt into the wounds, the medicine being offered by Corbyn is actually a poison that inhibits the potency of the actual cure (the closest real life example of Corbynomics in action at the moment is not in Scandinavia, as some people think, it is in
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Monday, 22 August 2016
Earlier on I heard a green bloke on the radio say that the great thing about green innovation is that the more efficient we become at using a resource the less we'll use of that resource, and the better it'll be for the environment. It's a popular opinion, but like many popular opinions, it is often not in the least bit true.
In about 3 seconds I thought of an example of where it's false. We used to have to send letters by post. Now we can email them, which is cheaper and more efficient. But that doesn't mean we communicate less - we actually communicate more.
The same is true with the thing that generates the power to email - electricity. We've become more efficient at lighting our houses - not many people use candles and oil lamps these days. But generating light more cheaply does not necessarily incentivise us to use less of it - quite the contrary, it encourages us to use more of it, thereby increasing demand (this is what is technically known as the Jevons paradox).
Coupled with the fact that recycling paper means there are actually fewer trees in the world now, not more, and that cutting down and re-planting trees uses fewer resources than the whole process of recycling paper, it probably is the case that if we actually care about the planet's resources we might have to cut down on our recycling.
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Saturday, 20 August 2016
Once you understand the mathematics that underwrites all those societal choices and complex interactions, you have the tools for understanding pretty much anything in the triune relationship between economics, politics and human behaviour.
Friday, 19 August 2016
I think a good rule of thumb for being true to your own convictions is this; don't do or champion anything in the name of a group that you wouldn't do or champion as an individual - for if you do so, you become a chameleon that fades into the colours of group think, and you compromise the autonomy of individuation.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
It is, therefore literally impossible for the free market to make people poor, or cause poverty, as many confused people claim. It is the places in which the free market hasn't yet taken effect that poverty arises - it is the lack of the free market that causes poverty, just as it is the lack of food that causes hunger.
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Sunday, 14 August 2016
Saturday, 13 August 2016
In this morning's papers is the news that an extreme Icelandic party called the Pirate party looks set to form the next government. We Brits have had our own issues with democracy recently after the EU Referendum, as I'm sure will Americans if Donald Trump becomes President (unlikely as that is), and as have many other people in the Middle East and north Africa in the past few years.
There are lots of issues with democracy, but perhaps the main one is that predominant support means that undesirable things can come to pass if it is desired by enough people to make it democratically viable (stay tuned to the end and we'll ask one or two big philosophical questions about allowing the public to decide important things).
One thing democracy throws up is this. Suppose we have Tom, Dick and Harry and £100. A vote for Tom and Dick to have £50 each and Harry to have nothing could easily be favoured democratically on a 2 to 1 basis. Tom and Dick are happy, and Harry is not.
Now Dick is back up to £50, and Harry is now £10 up on the last proposal, which could mean a revised 2 to 1 vote, this time at the expense of Tom. As you can probably gather, this process could go on and on, as it follows the same rule: that predominant support makes situations come to pass democratically.
Should we always trust the public?
So, to finish - what's been evident is that the Brexit vote has regurgitated issues about democracy that the Greek philosophers used to debate, but which have now taken on a modern context. The following, perfectly reasonable questions now loom large:
2) When a national referendum is actioned, should democracy always be respected in terms of going with the majority opinion?
3) Under which conditions might we be able to justifiably argue to overturn a democratic decision made by the public?
Friday, 12 August 2016
While this post is about hyperbolsters in general, not Nigel Farage, I think history will show that Farage's legacy will go down as one of those rare cases when hyperbolstering survived the fringes and embedded itself into the mainstream. As for the majority of hyperbolsters out there, if you happen to be a fan, don't pin too much hope on them.
Thursday, 11 August 2016
What's The Biggest Factor In Your Success? I'll Give You A Clue: It's Not Your Sex, Age, Intelligence, Height, Good Looks, Family Background, Education, Skin Colour Or Even Your Hard Work!
Apart from as a token term, there isn't really any such thing as 'luck' in the world. Of course we ascribe fortune to events in retrospect: "It was fortunate that there was a parking space when Jack had only 5 minutes to spare before a job interview" or "Lucky there happened to be a doctor in the pub when Hilda became ill", but that's more aptly described as circumstances going our way. Luck and fortune are merely synonyms for a world in which chance occurs due to incomplete knowledge.
Monday, 8 August 2016
In effect it's a partial market solution to a problem of ownership of gas, ownership of land, and allocation of resources and funds - but it's not a solution that solves the problem that anti-frackers have, who won't settle for what they consider to be meagre gestures of financial recompense. It is that problem I will address here.
For me, with no group identity, when it comes to fracking I don’t actually have a dog in this fight – I think it’s a little too early to tell. As always I come to the proposition with an open enough mind to see how it plays out and whether the net benefits outweigh the net costs.
Because yes of course there are costs and downsides to fracking, but obviously there are potential benefits too - not least the fact that there is approximately 1300 trillion cubit feet of shale gas on our land - which is more than 500 years' worth of gas for the UK (not that we'll need that much).
Fracking may turn out to be unfriendly compared to solar energy, but quite friendly compared to coal or oil. Besides, whether it's environmentally 'friendly' or not is only a small part of the picture, because the bigger issue is to do with utility, practicality and saleability.