Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Monday, 16 January 2017
Over the weekend, the consistently clueless Nicola Sturgeon bemoaned the possibility of a post-Brexit UK being a 'low tax, de-regulated' economy; and then on Sunday's Andrew Marr Show, Jeremy Corbyn lambasted the Chancellor's consideration of making post-Brexit Britain a tax-friendly nation in competition with the EU if we don't get a good deal (most prominently by drastically cutting corporation tax).
When are people like Corbyn and Sturgeon going to learn some of the basics - that low tax, lightly regulated economies are exactly the kind of economies that see prodigious economic growth by encouraging more outside investment, and by making it worthwhile for entrepreneurs to work hard in our nation?
The reality is, they are getting their reasoning backwards: what they think would be doom and gloom for Britain would actually be a liberatingly positive thing. Take corporation tax. While it would be better if it was removed altogether (as I explain in this blog post), cutting it would be a significant step in the right direction because it would make the vast majority of the population better off (including the working poor).
The reason why is easy to understand for anyone who understands economics, because the issue is all about who picks up the cost of corporation tax. Quite simply, the burden of corporation taxes falls either on the employees of the company, or on the customers, as shareholders will see to it that the cost is not borne by them. Company profits are revenue minus expenses, and there's no way the shareholders are picking up expenses they can pass on to others.
Alas, due to the fact that much of the electorate believes the same thing about tax and regulation as Corbyn and Sturgeon, there is almost no selection pressure on these politicians to grasp the fact that a tax-friendly, more lightly-regulated economy will not only help Britain thrive, it will help the economy grow to pay for the services they are saying are 'in crisis'. Corbyn and Sturgeon, by contrast, want to preside over an economy in which neither of those things happen.
Sunday, 15 January 2017
When a man desires a woman, the desire becomes a reified desire; he can see what he wants and he can see how he can get what he wants. But the desire to preserve our species doesn't occur that way - in fact, it occurs in just the opposite kinds of situation. When one thinks about posterity, one is not in a raw animalistic mood; one is usually in a reflective mood, pondering the future generations and what might become of them. And the later feeling seems to me to be quite a departure from the former instinct. The best we can say is that we are impelled to think mindfully of future generations, for their well being, and for their future.
And if I still haven't managed to convince you, I think I can now do so by putting forward the following question. If this generation were told that they had to go without earthly pleasure - that is, they had to make sacrifices that would render their lives deeply boring and uneventful, but in return, all future generations would prosper profusely; how many men and women of this present age would undertake such a position with unadulterated pleasure? I think the answer is very few. Some good natured and kind hearted souls might think the sacrifice worth making, but it seems clear that if this feeling was part of their natural instinct, they would meet the prospective sacrifice with a rawer sense of enthusiasm from the start. Any so-called ‘natural instinct’ towards the preservation of the species is preservation with regard to family, not the human species as a whole.
Our desire to preserve the species is really more like a desire for better coastal barriers during the aftermath of the tsunami, or the desire for better policing after a spate of street crimes, or a desire for better transparency when politicians lie and misbehave. The desire for the preservation of the species is more like those desires; it exists because the need to think of future generations is a constituent part of the wider social contract to which our conscience enjoins us.
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
How can it be, Toynbee and Corbyn groaned, that those that save lives and educate our children earn just a fraction of those that kick a football around a field or whack a tennis ball over a net (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist)? Ignoring the fact that even if footballers earned less it doesn't mean soldiers would earn more, I will now make a quick comment on this matter.
Monday, 9 January 2017
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Zooming in gives you a better perspective of local, select details, but on its own its focus is often too narrow to see the wider picture. Zooming out gives you a comprehensive look at the wider picture, but on its own it lacks the finer details of the perspective of the local picture.
Not all analyses benefit from further zooming out. Some do, but others require further zooming in. You’re not going to understand more about the mating habits of crows by zooming out to study the weight ranges of African elephants. A few practical real life examples will help, so here are three.
Some hard leftists believe that the free market causes poverty, so they look for all the places where poverty is rife and assume it must be because of things like the multi-national companies making profits from local resources. A much better method would be to analyse all the 'real' causes of poverty and find out why the free market actually helps people out of poverty, not causes it. An even more useful thing to realise is that poverty has been the natural state of human beings for the majority of our 200,000 year history, and that it is primarily trade and competition that have lifted so many out of it.
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
One final point about
greatness is that it so often requires the lens of retrospection to reveal its
quintessenve. For example, if you asked 1000 keen music fans at random in the
UK which 3 albums from the 14 years of 1966 to 1979 they considered to be the
best and most innovative, I think the range of different albums chosen would be
narrower than if you asked 1000 keen music fans at random in the UK which 3
albums from the past 14 years (the noughties - the years 2003 to 2016) they
considered to be the best and most innovative.
I think that's probably because while there are more albums being produced in the modern era, there are fewer great ones - but also because people need a considerable passage of time to assess what makes an album really great, and today probably is too soon to assess the past 14 years with a proper consideration.
Friday, 23 December 2016
But really, the primary criticism of Collinson's lament about how things were better in the 1960s because people earned less but could afford more is that it inanely overlooks all the absolute gains in terms of quality of life, quality and quantity of goods and services, increased leisure time, and the numerous other ways that it's better to be alive today. To illustrate this, I would ask Mr Collinson questions I first raised in this Blog post - questions I think we know perfectly well how he would answer them:
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Option B) £250,000 and worldwide critical acclaim
Option B) £350,000 and critical acclaim
Option B) £25,000 and critical acclaim
Option B) You increase your earnings by £11,000 per year, and all your same-sex friends increase theirs by £8,000 per year
Sunday, 18 December 2016
By mimicking the way biological organisms have already conducted themselves in a long history of natural selection, human beings have been able to innovate and solve many of the technological and sustainability problems confronting our species.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
A carbon tax is not a means of reducing emissions down to a nominal figure; it is supposed to be a tool for maximising utility. That is, carbon taxes help us incorporate negative externalities into the price system of a free market whereby polluters carry the costs of their negative externalities, but also whereby the price reaches equilibrium as the costs of pollution are measured accurately against the benefits.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Sunday, 11 December 2016
What’s the difference between the two evaluations? The answer is that one is a subjective personal argument and the other is an objective economic argument. As a credible music lover, Tom possibly sees the likes of Westlife and Boyzone (or whoever the modern day equivalents are) as lacking musical credibility, complicit in cultural degradation and producing faux-icons that are unworthy of adulation.
As a credible economist, he understands that lots of people are willing to spend money listening to manufactured pop. The economist is generally less bothered about whether someone is right or wrong, wise or unwise to like something – he or she is primarily concerned about market signals that convey information about people’s wants, needs and preferences.
The same is true of celebrities paid handsomely to endorse products – it’s a marketing trick to convey the following message: look, we’re sure you’re not convinced that this celebrity really loves the product, but if we’re willing to pay him or her all the money to say they do we must have confidence many of you will like it. On balance, the benefits of cheap fame probably outweigh the costs.