The cost of emission control

by Chris Bertram on July 10, 2003

I’m normally quite a fan of Tory blogger Iain Murray, but I couldn’t believe his most recent TechCentralStation column. Iain is attacking some proposal for restricting carbon emissions that is currently before the US Senate and is full of doom and gloom about the economic implications. He cites a report on the impact of the proposed legislation – the McCain-Lieberman “Climate Stewardship Act” – from the Energy Information Administration (a government agency of which he clearly approves). Here’s Iain’s take on their report:

When the system comes into operation, the economy would be severely affected resulting in job and output losses in the short-run. Because of this shock, real disposable income would drop by almost 1 percent per person by 2011, and would take fifteen years to return to 2000 levels. By 2025, the average person will have lost almost $2,500 as a result of McCain-Lieberman. The effect on GDP is even more startling, with the nation losing $507 billion in real terms over the next twenty-two years. By 2025, the country’s GDP will be $106 billion lower in real terms than it is today.

Whoah! That looks pretty bad. So bad, in fact that I just couldn’t believe it. So I went to the EIA’s website and looked at the report for myself (available via the following, wonderful, URL ) It turns out that far from the US economy being worse $106 billion worse off than it is today (what! you mean the US economy which grew by 60% over the past two decades wouldn’t grow for 22 years because of one piece of legislation!!), it would be $106 billion worse off in 2025 than they are currently projecting it to be (peanuts for a 10 trillion dollar economy). What we’re looking at here is the compound interest effect of a very slightly reduced growth rate over a very long period (the expected difference in GDP between the two cases is simply the difference between a 3.02% and a 3.04% average annual growth rate over 22 years).

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Suggest a Caption

by Kieran Healy on July 10, 2003

For this.

Knowing when to hold ’em

by Henry Farrell on July 10, 2003

The NYT has a very interesting “article”: today on AI and poker. A group of researchers in Alberta are using game theory to create automated ‘bots that can take on and beat most players. Now this was a little worrying for me; two months ago, I wrote a “couple”: of rather confident “posts”: suggesting that game theory wasn’t very helpful in solving complex and open-ended games like poker. Indeed, as Chad Orzel “notes”:, human beings sometimes have difficulty in dealing with this sort of stuff too.

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The French political class

by Chris Bertram on July 10, 2003

I was daydreaming earlier today about a moment in my adolescence. It is 1974 and I’m with my French exchange partner playing a pinball machine in a cafe on the banks of the Dordogne. The radio is on, and the news comes that President Giscard has just sacked his Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac.

Fast forward to 2003 (29 years later) and Giscard is presiding over the European constitutional convention and Chirac is President of the Republic. Chirac had first entered the cabinet in 1968. Not that it is just the right. Michel Rocard, whose party, the PSU, had some prominence in 1968 cropped up in the news the other day. And Mitterrand (b. 1916) held his first ministerial post in 1947 and finished up being President from 1981 to 1995 before popping his clogs the following year.

Look at the British political class and the picture is completely different. There’s no-one left from 1974, let alone 1968. A few politicians have a good run: Major Healey, Quintin Hogg – but it is nothing compared to the dominance of the French political scene by a few dinosaurs. In fact I can’t think of any democracy with where politicians last as long as in France. A few in the US, perhaps (Thurmond, Mayor Daley) but not ones who ever formed the core of a national administration. Explanations? Counterexamples?

Galloway versus Telegraph: Runners & Riders

by Daniel on July 10, 2003

I’m surprised this one didn’t get all that much play in the weblog world; Gorgeous George finally filed suit the week before last against the Telegraph. There was a lot of suspicion going round earlier that he wasn’t going to; Telegraph editor Charles Moore has certainly been talking a bit of smack to this effect. My guess is that what has happened is that Galloway has reached a point where he is reasonably confident that he will be able to finance the Telegraph suit out of the proceeds of a settlement with the Christian Science Monitor. I’m pretty sure that the CSM will settle; they’ve been caught bang to rights, and their apology won’t count all that much since they made it after Galloway sued them. Soon we’ll find out what kind of barrister GG’s retained, and shortly after that we’ll find out if the Telegraph is really as confident as they appear, or whether they’ve been bluffing a pair of deuces, hoping that with his charity under investigation and the Arabic contributors who’ve supported his lifestyle over the last few years perhaps backing off a little, he wouldn’t be able to afford the price of a ticket. If the Telegraph ends up settling, though, we will have been deprived of what could potentially have been a wonderfully entertaining trial.

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War on Terror – the ripple effect

by Maria on July 10, 2003

Much is made of the damage to US civil liberties of Ashcroft, Poindexter et al’s new crusade against the enemy within. But, as Henry and I discovered at CFP 2003, few people Stateside have really grasped the deep and permanent damage the war on terror is doing to European human rights and civil liberties. This isn’t simply a case of the US pushing unpalatable policies on its hapless allies (though there’s plenty of that going about), but is a more complicated situation in which the law enforcement / Justice and home affairs crowd have used the US war on terror to ram through retrograde measures that no civilised democracy should tolerate.

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Berlinophiles, Molesworthophiles

by Kieran Healy on July 10, 2003

A couple of people have wondered whether all the contributors to this blog are big fans of Isaiah Berlin, given that we’ve used one of his favorite quotes from Kant as our title. Not necessarily, I’d say. On the topic of even having a favorite quote from Kant, I’m sorry that I’ve packed away my copy of Alan Bennett’s Writing Home. Somewhere in his diary he has an entry that goes like this (I’m paraphrasing from memory here):

In today’s Times:

“Although Ken Dodd has read Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Malcolm Muggeridge, Spinoza, Wilde and Wittgenstein on the subject of comedy, he is always careful not to appear a clever-clogs.”

I see he’s taking the Isaiah Berlin approach, then.

Conspicuously wearing your learning lightly is a venial rather than a mortal offence, but I think Berlin was guilty of it.

Incidentally, the singular of weetabix is of course “weetabic.” And while we’re making intra-blog comments, like Henry I am a fan of Nigel Molesworth, although — or because — like Henry (and probably also Patrick Neilsen Hayden) I’ve never been near an English Public School. You can’t fully understand Molesworth until you figure out the real name of his “grate friend Peason.”

Working to a plan …

by Henry Farrell on July 10, 2003

Spooky. In an effort to explain to my wife precisely who Daniel Davies is, and why we’re now co-bloggers, I fired up my browser, and hopped to a “random spot”: in the D^2 Digest archives. It turns out that the prophetic Mr. Davies did a long post on December 31, 2002 on a list of topics, starting with (a) a discussion of fridge magnets and, (b) thoughts on how digital video recorders allow you to skip ads. Which subjects have been dealt with by Kieran and me in loving detail in the first 24 hours of this blog, as you’ll see if you bother to read down a bit further. Your guess as to how Mr. Davies has done this is as good as mine. I’m leaning towards a Manchurian Candidate type scenario myself – quite possibly Kieran and I have been pre-programmed without our knowledge to blog on certain topics. Assuming that Mr. Davies’ prophetic powers/subliminal commands hold good, expect this blog to cover the following subjects in order over the next several days.

* Shania Twain
* Robert Mugabe
* The politics of Malawi and Brazil
* Corrupt Irish-American pols
* Ann Coulter
* Defining the left v. right dichotomy
* JK Galbraith’s maxim that “the project of the conservative throughout the ages is the search for a higher moral justification for selfishness”
* The singular of Weetabix
* More meat in pies
* File-sharing confessionalism

A diverse agenda, you’ll agree.