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Who benefits from Mayism?

Chris Dillow / May 21, 2017 at 9:07 AM 158 views

Theresa May claims there’s no such thing as Mayism. I don’t know about that. What puzzles me, though, is that there don’t seem to be any obvious Mayites. To see what I mean, contrast May and Thatcher. Thatcher had two…

The fairness error

Chris Dillow / May 19, 2017 at 12:35 PM 186 views

In the Wheatsheaf last night, I was struck by an obvious injustice. The pub was charging everybody the same price for beer, regardless of their income. This is obviously unfair: why should the millionaire picking up his children from the…

The end of competition?

Chris Dillow / May 18, 2017 at 12:59 PM 58 views

For years, economists have believed that competition tends to equalize profits across firms, as inefficient firms either learn from better ones or go out of business, and as new firms enter markets and so compete away high profits. Several things,…

When bad arguments work

Chris Dillow / May 17, 2017 at 12:25 PM 154 views

Many of the most common arguments against Labour’s policies are laughably bad – such as the claim that people earning a little over £80,000 a year will have to pay very much more tax; or the idea that higher top…

Top taxes & growth

Chris Dillow / May 16, 2017 at 12:47 PM 199 views

Rich people don’t like paying taxes. This is pretty much the only thing we’ve learned from some of the hysterical reaction in the papers to Labour’s plan to raise taxes on the rich. Let’s remember the historical facts here. Low…

Counterproductive austerity

Chris Dillow / May 13, 2017 at 11:58 AM 246 views

Is austerity counter-productive even in microeconomic terms? I ask because the ransomware attack on the NHS seems to have been dues at least in part to a lack of spending on IT. The Register says: The NHS is thought to…

The bias against emergence

Chris Dillow / May 12, 2017 at 1:01 PM 160 views

John Humphrys gave us a good example of the BBC’s bias this morning – and it’s not the sort you might think. In discussing the Bank of England’s forecast that real wages will continue to fall this year, he asked…

The problem of ignorant voters

Chris Dillow / May 11, 2017 at 12:37 PM 69 views

The Times recently reported on a discussion with a voter in Hull: “I’m not really into any of that stuff” said Cody, 22, our waitress at the Goldenfry chip shop. “I think I voted Labour at the referendum thing but…

The "fully costed" fallacy

Chris Dillow / May 10, 2017 at 12:57 PM 207 views

One of the many irritants of this election campaign is the demand by the media that the parties’ spending plans be “fully costed”, and the parties’ kow-towing to this demand: listen, for example, to this exchange between Sara Montague and…

The need for an immigration target

Chris Dillow / May 9, 2017 at 12:20 PM 277 views

Good judges are sceptical of Theresa May’s repetition of her failed promise to reduce migration. The Migration Observatory says the target is “not feasible in the short term and difficult to achieve in the long-term.“ And Stephen Bush says that…

"Strong and stable"

Chris Dillow / May 8, 2017 at 12:40 PM 183 views

Whenever I’m faced with a particular claim, I like to ask: what would count as empirical evidence here? So let’s apply this test to Ms May’s claim that she offers “strong and stable” leadership. What evidence could there be here?…

It’s not the economy, stupid

Chris Dillow / May 7, 2017 at 12:09 PM 200 views

It looks as if the conventional wisdom is wrong. For years, this has been that elections are determined by the economy – as embodied in the slogan, “it’s the economy, stupid.” This election, however, looks like being an exception. Ms…

On extra-parliamentary action

Chris Dillow / May 4, 2017 at 3:05 PM 217 views

What can parliamentary politics achieve? Not much, says Paul Mason: Elected politicians have little power; Wall Street and a network of hedge funds, billionaires and media owners have the real power, and the art of being in politics is to…

Scale neglect, and bad interviews

Chris Dillow / May 3, 2017 at 8:44 AM 247 views

The general election campaign begins officially today, so let’s think about colonoscopies. In the winter of 1994-95 doctors in Toronto performed colonoscopies on patients and later asked them to recall how uncomfortable the experience was (pdf). They found that those…

Costs of overconfidence

Chris Dillow / May 2, 2017 at 12:17 PM 230 views

Ben Chu is absolutely right to bemoan the damaging effects of overconfidence. I’d just add a few things. One is that overconfidence can be a form of strategic self-deception. A new paper by Peter Schwardmann and Joel van der Weele…

Brexit: the egocentric framing error

Chris Dillow / April 28, 2017 at 1:07 PM 208 views

Chris Grey decries the stupidity of Brexiters: So insular has the discussion in the UK been before and since the referendum that one might think that Brexit is simply a matter of the UK formulating its demands. What’s going on…

The non-cost of the triple lock

Chris Dillow / April 27, 2017 at 12:13 PM 273 views

Brad DeLong used to run a series of posts asking “why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?” Coverage of the pensions triple lock reminds me of his lament, because in one respect it is flat wrong. The…

The demand for bastards

Chris Dillow / April 26, 2017 at 1:23 PM 311 views

Earlier this week Michael Fallon warned that the Tories could use nuclear weapons as a pre-emptive measure. This is seen as evidence of “strong leadership” rather than the threat of a psychopathic war crime. At the same time, Labour’s promise…

Beyond redistributive tax

Chris Dillow / April 25, 2017 at 12:42 PM 246 views

Is there an egalitarian argument against sharply progressive income tax? I’m prompted to ask by John McDonnell’s plan to raise tax those earning more than £70,000. From the point of view of raising revenue, he’s bang right to target these…

The populist paradox

Chris Dillow / December 7, 2016 at 1:59 PM 288 views

Danny Finkelstein in the Times is good on the need to resist attempts to bully the Supreme Court. He says: Our institutions – parliament, government, the courts – must serve a plural society, they must balance interests and protect rights.…