They’ll be weeping in Twickenham

by Henry on March 6, 2004

“Ireland 19, England 13”:http://www.rte.ie/sport/2004/0306/ireland.html

Revealed preferences redux

by Henry on March 6, 2004

Another, quite spectacular example of “revealed”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001446.html “preference”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001447.html theory in action. This time, it’s “David Brooks”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/06/opinion/06BROO.html?hp, who uses Bush and Kerry’s privileged backgrounds to prove that Americans prefer to be ruled by blue-bloods.

bq. we don’t actually want to be governed by people like ourselves. We want the bloodlines.

It all goes back to primate social structures, you see.

This is almost so asinine an argument as not to be worth the refutation. Brooks doesn’t admit the possibility that ‘blue bloods’ might have structural advantages that go beyond commoners’ genetically hardwired instinct to yank forelocks in the presence of their superiors – money, connections anyone? Nor does he bother trying to explain how his thesis can be reconciled with viable Democratic candidates (Edwards) from humble backgrounds, or, indeed, Presidents like Clinton. Like Dan Drezner, I was quite pleased when the NYT gave Brooks a slot; some of his longer stuff is well argued and interesting. However, his op-eds have been a huge disappointment; sugary candy-fluff for the most part, but with a hard, bitter little center. The Times could and should do better.

…and a pony too

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2004

Belle Waring has “a brilliant lampoon of utopian libertarian discourse”:http://examinedlife.typepad.com/johnbelle/2004/03/if_wishes_were_.html .

The miners and democracy

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2004

Seumas Milne has “an article in today’s Guardian”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1163360,00.html plugging a book of his and remembering the British miners’ strike of 1984–5. Like Milne I was an active supporter of that strike, collecting for striking miners and offering as much propaganda and political support as I could. I worked for Verso, the publisher of Milne’s book, at the time and we produced a special on the strike called _Digging Deeper_ in record time: going from copy to bound volume in about two weeks.

So my memories are still pretty vivid and I think I’m in a position to assess the claims Milne makes. With his general characterization of the strike as being self-defence against a class war fought by a vengeful Tory government, I have no quarrel. Likewise with what he says of the police at the time. Since the strike we’ve had to listen to no end of sermons about “insurrection” and the assertion of the “rule of law”. There was no rule of law. The police and the government and the courts acted violently and cynically against the miners and their communities: men were attacked and beaten, their freedom of movement was restricted, they were not given fair hearings by magistrates and courts. I could go on, but those who know know and those who don’t want to will not be persuaded by further extending the list of arbitrary and violent state actions. The government had decided to break the NUM, was going to apply all necessary resources to doing so and could do so untrammeled by worries about legality.

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The equity premium and the mixed economy

by John Quiggin on March 6, 2004

Brad de Long correctly summarises the argument of my papers with Simon Grant. If you accept that the equity premium (the large and unexplained difference between the rate of return expected by holders of private equity and the rate of interest on low-risk bonds) is explained in large measure by the fact that capital markets do not do a good job in allocating and spreading risk, the the natural solution to all this is the S-World: Socialism: public ownership of the means of production This is because risk can be more effectively through the tax system, and through governments’ capacity to run deficits during economic downturns than through private capital markets. A very robust implication of the observed equity premium is that a dollar of investment returns received during a recession is worth two dollars during a boom – this provides governments with a huge arbitrage opportunity.

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Binding Gulliver

by Henry on March 6, 2004

The Economist has an “article”:http://www.economist.com/World/europe/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2478574 this week on John Kerry’s popularity with Europeans. The argument is twofold – Europeans are rooting for Kerry to win, but they’re likely to end up disappointed if he does.

bq. whoever is in the White House, tensions between European and American approaches to the world seem sure to persist. The heyday of Atlanticism came to a close with the end of the cold war. … Indeed, in some areas, such as trade, the quarrels between the sides could get worse … Mr Kerry might explain American views more tactfully than Mr Bush. He might even do it in French. But transatlantic tensions would endure.

As a piece of international relations analysis, it’s an odd mixture of the obvious and the wrongheaded. Of course, transatlantic disputes aren’t going to go away if Kerry becomes President. But they’re likely to be transformed – much of the sting will go out of them.

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