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Harry goes to a demo

Wandering down Swanston St this morning I got caught up in a demonstration against the ‘army invasion of the aboriginal concentration camps’ that the ‘greatest racist in the country, John Howard’ is ‘underfunding’. I got there just as a speaker from the ‘Wellington Anarchist Collective’ (!) had taken the stage from the ‘Melbourne Gay and […]

Catch-up politics

In light of the government’s broadband reaction this week as well as to climate changes over the last six months, ‘Is there merit in catch-up politics’? (Blogocracy-organised group blog (Joshua Gans, Tim Dunlop, Ken Parish, Kim, Robert Merkel, Andrew Bartlett and Tigtog, question 3).

My answer to this is a ‘two-handed’ economist response – on […]

Motives and public policy views

The question I posed to this week’s Blogocracy-organised group blog (Joshua Gans, Tim Dunlop, Ken Parish, Kim, Robert Merkel Andrew Bartlett and Tigtog) was:

How relevant are motives in assessing the public policy stance of a politician or commentator?

I had early posted on this topic here. To summarize my tentative conclusions I argued […]

Political motive fallacies

An introductory book on logic I keep returning to is Jamie White’s, Crimes Against Logic. I have already discussed its demolition of the ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinion’ fallacy. Another fallacy he disposes of is the ‘Motives Fallacy’. This is a special case of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy – it resonates with […]

Defending paternalism

I have been rereading Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom – one of the books that have most influenced me. I am particularly interested in Friedman’s views on paternalism which probably determine my own and which torpedo some of the extreme claims of libertarians and those who see any attempt to limit self-destructive or irrational behavior […]

The US engagement in Iraq as a behavioural quirk

I have no dispute with the idea that agents have optimism biases and an aversion to cutting one’s losses and that these insights may have application to military conflicts and the proclivity to be a hawk as Daniel Kahneman and Daniel Renshon have recently argued.

Optimism biases make sense in optimistic positive-thinking societies where […]

Libertarian paternalism & drug policy issues

I got a buzz from reading the Becker-Posner blog on libertarian-paternalism. Their argument is in part a criticism of C. Sunstein & R. Thaler’s ‘Libertarian Paternalism is Not an Oxymoron’ .Sunstein & Thaler claim it is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behaviour while respecting freedom of choice because people’s […]

The death of quality public libraries?

You hear the story from university executives and VCs all the time. Science, mathematics and economics are out – sports management, media studies and marketing are in. The reason, they say, is demand. Students, as consumers, prefer the latter to the former.

I have never accepted this view for an instant since the two […]