Dutch Elections: First Results and Open Thread

by Ingrid Robeyns on June 9, 2010

There are two national elections in the Low Countries this week — today in the Netherlands and Sunday in Belgium. The Belgian elections are actually hugely important for the future (or absense of such a future) of the country, since there hasn’t been any real functioning government in the last three years, and the Flemish voters are probably going to vote en masse for NVA, the flemish democratic nationalist party. More on this on Sunday.
In the meantime the Dutch voters had their chance to vote for a new government today, and “the first prognosis”:http://www.nrc.nl/binnenland/verkiezingen2010/article2560933.ece/Exitpoll_PvdA_en_VVD_even_groot, based on exit poll results, is that the VVD (mainstream ‘liberal’ (in the European sense) right wing party) and the PVDA (the social-democrats/labour party) would both be leading, but only with 31 out of 150 seats. The Christian-democratic party, who were the biggest in the last couple of elections, would fall back to 21 seats. PVV, the right wing anti-immigrant party of Geert Wilders would have 22 seats, and other parties 16 (populist socialist party), 11 (Greens), 10 (Left-Liberals), and 7 seats for the orthodox Christian parties. So this is extremely scattered. All this needs to be taken with a serious pinch of salt of course – it’s merely exit polls, but nevertheless still interesting, since it shows how difficult it will be to form a coalition. It’s not unlikely that a four-party coalition will be needed.
For more background information, read “this post”:http://www.themonkeycage.org/2010/06/dutch_elections.html by Erik Voeten. The comments section is open for anything related to the Dutch elections, including predictions on what kind of coalition would be plausible, and actual results as they become available. I’ll add my bit as long as I am awake.

Whitewashing Rosh

by Henry on June 9, 2010

In my inbox from the “Cato Institute”:http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=7235 this morning.

_More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws_
(University of Chicago Press, 2010)

BOOK FORUM
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Noon (Luncheon to Follow)

Featuring the author John R. Lott, Jr.; with comments from Paul Helmke, President, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; and Jeff Snyder, Attorney and Author, Nation of Cowards: Essays on the Ethics of Gun Control (Accurate Press, 2001). Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.

On its initial publication in 1998, John R. Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime drew both lavish praise and heated criticism. More than a decade later, it continues to play a key role in ongoing arguments over gun-control laws. Relying on a comprehensive data analysis of crime statistics and right-to-carry laws, the book challenges common perceptions about the relationship of guns, crime, and violence. Now in this third edition, Lott draws on an additional 10 years of data — including provocative analysis of the effects of gun bans in Chicago and Washington, DC — that he claims lends even more support to his central contention that more guns mean less crime. Join us for a wide-ranging discussion of guns, self-defense, and public safety.

Why yes indeed. You could say that _More Guns, Less Crime_ “drew”:http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=john_donohue “heated”:http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/322833?journalCode=jpe “criticism”:http://www.jstor.org/stable/3216880. But then, you might prefer to ask why John Lott became a public laughing stock before you got into detailed back-and-forths about the econometrics. “Mysteriously”:http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/lott.php “disappearing”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2003/01/23/a-lott-of-old-rosh/ “surveys”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2078084/. The wonderful “Mary Rosh”:http://reason.com/archives/2003/05/01/the-mystery-of-mary-rosh, a former ‘student’ of John Lott’s who went after Lott’s critics on the Internet, and gushed about how “Lott was the best professor that I ever had….Lott finally had to tell us that it was best for us to try and take classes from other professors more to be exposed to other ways of teaching graduate material,” before she was revealed as a sockpuppet for John R. Lott himself. And finally, the famous “lawsuit against Steven Levitt”:http://chronicle.com/article/Dueling-Economists-Reach/6720/.

The people at Cato can hardly be unaware of this peculiar history. After all, one of their own research fellows, “Julian Sanchez”:http://www.cato.org/people/julian-sanchez, did as much as anyone to uncover Dr. Lott’s various misdeeds. But they’ve chosen nonetheless to associate themselves with the notorious Dr. Lott, and to promote his work. If Michael Bellesiles was still working on gun issues, and the Center for American Progress was holding events to promote his work, it would be a problem. But Bellesiles’ hackwork is still treated as “toxic”:http://www.insidehighered.com/views/mclemee/mclemee290 by the left. Cato is an odd mix of genuinely smart and honest people (e.g. Sanchez, Brink Lindsey) and organized hackery. It’s not doing its reputation any favors by hosting this event.