The Dim-Post

December 20, 2011

It is not, actually, better to burn out than to fade away

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:40 am

There’s a nice example of the Pundit’s Fallacy over on Kiwiblog. DPF argues that for National to be re-elected in 2014 they need to be an activist, ‘reforming’ government ‘making tough decisions’, by which DPF means a far-right government:

National will need to confront some of the harder issues such as housing affordability, and will have to make calls on do we leave mineral wealth in the ground or not.

Basically, DPF feels that to get elected the government should adopt the values and policies of the ACT Party, which, not coincidentally, are David’s own values.

All the historical evidence suggests that following DFP’s advice would plunge the economy back into deep recession and make National unelectable for many, many years, so I doubt they will actually do this. But the immediate political environment makes it impossible. Currently the far-right vote is split, much of it is wasted. In much the same way the Tsarist secret police once set up dummy revolutionary parties to attract dissidents, National are rebuilding ACT to try and capture all those votes into a far-right party they exercise total control over.  They’re not going to want to compete with that party by implementing its policy agenda.

National needs to compete with Labour. Labour doesn’t have a problem with wasted votes in the left. They go to the Greens, who don’t scare the shit out of mainstream voters the way ACT does. Labour needs to (a) get out the vote amongst Maori and low income earners, which is about party organization and candidate selection, not political positioning, and (b) win votes off the Nats. So they’re free to occupy the centre. If the Nats lurch to the far right then they’re doomed.

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141 Comments »

  1. The far right? DPF is nowhere near there. National might dabble a bit off centre, hardly any more than that.

    The far right think Act are socialists. They keep despairing that no party comes close to their ideals. Forever fomenting forlorn.

    Comment by Pete George — December 20, 2011 @ 7:52 am

  2. Given that the first headline on your blog is “McCarten attempts yet another socialist revolution,” Pete George, I think you’re in no position to cry hyperbole.

    Comment by rj — December 20, 2011 @ 8:12 am

  3. The far right think Act are socialists.

    Only if you define the far right as ‘Redbaiter and his collection of cats’. The ACT party is as right as you can go in NZ politics and not get perceived as a lunatic.

    Counter-examples would be welcomed.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 20, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  4. Sigh only in NZ can a call for reform be seen as advocating hard right policies. Paul Keating and Bob Hawke were good reformers. Gordon brown did some good reforms also, as did Blair before him. Cullen even did some.

    You’ve totally missed the point of what I said. Tacking housing affordability is not a far right policy. I advocate a land tax as part of that policy reform – and most would call that left-leaning.

    Comment by David Farrar — December 20, 2011 @ 8:36 am

  5. Peter George – if you bothered reading some of the stuff on ACT’s website before they recently gave it a make over, especially around economic policy you would see that ACT are firmly ‘far right’ in the New Zealand context, they want personal taxes at 16% and health and welfare spending cut by 1/3.

    As for DPF having ‘ACT values’ I think that is fairly clear from this blog, he does like to present himself as just right of centre but when push comes to shove and we are in the middle of an election campaign he turns into a slightly demented partisan hack.

    Comment by ieuan — December 20, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  6. “…Tacking housing affordability is not a far right policy…”

    It is when the policy “solution” is some lunatic fee market idea of abolishing the RMA, subordinating local authorities to rich developers who contribute to the National party and insisting only the private sector can build houses.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  7. Sigh only in NZ can a call for reform be seen as advocating hard right policies. Paul Keating and Bob Hawke were good reformers. Gordon brown did some good reforms also, as did Blair before him. Cullen even did some.

    Lots of people ‘call for reform’. But you’re on the record as having really radical right wing economic views – didn’t you cause a fuss when you called for the privitisation of the entire education system? – so it’s reasonable to infer that your idea of reform and addressing housing affordability will be very different from most peoples. (I’m guessing you don’t think that raising median incomes is a good way to tackle housing affordability.)

    Comment by danylmc — December 20, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  8. Jeez, Danyl, you may find yourself being headhunted by one of the teachers’ unions. You have their tone of barely suppressed hysteria just right.

    Comment by Tinakori — December 20, 2011 @ 8:51 am

  9. Surprised that DPF doesn’t talk about growth — it’s hard to see a National victory unless there’s enough of it by 2014 to get people’s paychecks growing at the rate they did pre-crisis (even if the lost growth post-crisis isn’t made up by then). Instead he says the term will be about science and innovation, which is well and good, but unlikely to make a difference within three years.

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  10. Oh come on Danyl, you know that DPF just reflects the orthodox thinking of all the Bowen Triangle lobbyists and courtiers. The politicians come and go, restrained by the wearisome fetters of the democratic will of the people, but the attack dogs of the bankers and rentiers and corporates like DPF stay around forever, waiting for the day that a government comes along that will slip their chains.

    Political influence without political accountability, public money for private firms. Power without responsibility. It is the lust for these things that gets people like David Farrar out of bed every morning.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  11. What a curious dog whistle my theory is that it is part of a Shearer PR strategy.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  12. Amusingly, DPF is simultaneously arguing, as all of the cheering pundits of the right are who are so stoked that Labour chose their guy, that Labour should become more centrist to win the election. In other words, the two parties that hold around 70-80% of the power in NZ should move more to the right. Funny that. I wonder why the guy who has said time and time again for as long as I can remember reading him that his own opinions align most closely with ACT, would say that?

    It might actually happen. Labour has never shaken neoliberalism. I don’t honestly think they want to – it did all right by them.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 20, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  13. It might actually happen. Labour has never shaken neoliberalism. I don’t honestly think they want to – it did all right by them.

    Well Ben, there’s no money in the poor (unless of course the cash can be siphoned off to market driven initiatives).

    Labour moving to the right would be ideal, thereby giving oxygen to genuine left(ish) alternatives.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 20, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  14. Please please please can we stop already with the bandying of the ‘neoliberalism’ tag.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  15. you can’t have a comments forum without bandying tags about. that is the core kernel of all internet commentary and only a socio-fascist pseudo-neo-liberal eco-marxist feminazi would say otherwise!

    Comment by nommopilot — December 20, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  16. Though my heart be left of centre, I have always known that the only economic system that works is a market economy, in which everything belongs to someone–which means that someone is responsible for everything. It is a system in which complete independence and plurality of economic entities exist within a legal framework, and its workings are guided chiefly by the laws of the marketplace. This is the only natural economy, the only kind that makes sense, the only one that can lead to prosperity, because it is the only one that reflects the nature of life itself.

    That was the recently deceased Vaclav Havel. To a radical statist like Danyl, of the kind Vaclav spent his life fighting, issuing such a sentiment even if he considered himself centre-left would, as Danyl slavishly adheres to the nonsensical one-dimensional left-right spectrum, brand him “far-right”.

    Incidentally would one expect such a sentiment as Havel’s issued by an MP for today’s Labour party? Or would one expect something closer to Musolini’s maxim Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato (“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”)?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  17. Q, you might reconsider your use of “radical” to describe …. well, practically everyone, really.

    And, um, the assertion that Havel spent his life fighting against liberal civil-society pluralists rather than authoritarian communists might come as a surprise to … again, pretty much anyone who knew anything about him.

    I love this bit of a great person’s life: when everyone tries to “claim” them for their ideological tribe by cherry-picking bits and pieces from speeches or novels they haven’t actually read.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  18. And the most recent phenomena of the Kiwi internet has now put in it’s appearance. I trace blame to the Green Party with their constant parading of the intellectual piss-water of their ludicrous syncretic mish-mash of self-help bullshit and compliance policing that they pass off as a political philosophy. This new phenomena is a breezily arrogant assertion without any actual proof whatsoever that a left-right class analysis is now irrelevant or an obstacle to whatever system of analysis we should be using. I say whatever, because – as Quoth the Raven above does – there is actually nothing with any sort of intellectual rigour offered up to replace a left/right analysis, just an assertion that it all stinks and everyone is a statist sell out. Great if you are channeling Holden Caulfield I suppose, but most of us are well past the intellectual and hormonal boundaries of a teenage boy.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  19. Lew – My tongue and cheek assertion was that Danyl is an authoritarian communist.I’m just needling him (not seriously). I would expect I’d get a rise out of the very serious you. Perhaps you are sad that barely anyone belongs to your “democratic fundamentalist” ideological tribe.

    Danyl have you lit a candle at your Dear Leader shrine today?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  20. Holy crap Sanctuary, that is too many adjectives.

    Comment by David C — December 20, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  21. Oh and BTW – when it comes to the Green Party philosophy, I am yet to be persuaded that when push comes to shove you don’t nine times out of ten discover that most Greens are either embittered ex-Alliance voters who think because their vision of class war was rejected we sould go to hell or they are middle-class Green fascists who always imagine themselves as the elves in a timeless, sustainable, green and pleasant deep New Zealand.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  22. QtR, oh, the “kidding on the square” gambit. So classy.

    No, I’m not too worried about tribes; civil society works pretty well at mediating them.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  23. @David C = alas, my greatest failing laid bare.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  24. Yeah Lew like I really believe Danyl mourns the fall of the Soviet Union as I always say here because I’m super serial.

    In seriousness let me ask you, as a self-confessed “democratic fundamentalist” if the majority wanted all homosexuals murdered would you abide it? I’m talking about the principle of the matter not the likelihood.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  25. I award the angry gnome hat to Sanctuary.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  26. Q, I answered this fucking stupid question in the post on my own blog, which you also evidently haven’t read.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  27. Oh come now merv, I have seen your tirades over at Mr. Edwards site. I’ll give you the “passive-aggressive bewildered old man who has been left behind” hat in exchange.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

  28. “most Greens are either embittered ex-Alliance voters who think because their vision of class war was rejected we sould go to hell or they are middle-class Green fascists who always imagine themselves as the elves in a timeless, sustainable, green and pleasant deep New Zealand.”

    Ha, that’s actually quite excellent

    Comment by garethw — December 20, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  29. Um OK, if you so Sanctuary but I assure you I’d rather boil my ‘nads than spend time at Mr Edwards site.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  30. Lew – Read it now. Quote “I am essentially a democratic fundamentalist” – “So in this way what I’m talking about it isn’t really democratic fundamentalism at all”. Up to your usual intellectual rigor.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  31. Q, see above re picking bits of things you haven’t bothered to read. Anyway, if you want to gibber and squabble, you can do so over there. No need to show all the good people of Dimpostistan how red your arse is.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

  32. The evidence actually shows that what DPF proposes would bring major prosperity and wealth expansion to the NZ economy. The right have the economic high ground…the left have nothing. Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

  33. Lew – Alright old man. I’ve commented on your site. I’ll try not to be as condescending as you are. I after all have respect for the elderly.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  34. Calling ACT “far right” is to admit that the one saying so is a economic and political illiterate. Winston’s NZF and Craig’s conservatives are the closest to “far right” as we have….allowing for Chapman’s crew of Nazi nong’s. If one is referring to Libertarianz then its completely wrong as Libertarians are politically neither right nor left wing….hence those pesky socially liberal polices re drugs, euthanasia,abortion and prostitution they have aligned next to their economically liberal ones re free markets and de-regulation.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

  35. Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.

    schools

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  36. @QtR: “Yeah Lew like I really believe Danyl mourns the fall of the Soviet Union as I always say here because I’m super serial.”

    But the REALLY funny thing is that people could justifiably believe your comments to be serious as you genuinely seem unable to distinguish between authoritarian state capitalist regimes and social democracies, seeing them both as versions of “The State” … which is (apparently) the most evil thing ever to exist. So your attempts at fey whimsy and then insulting other commentators for calling you out on being a bit of a dick strike something of a bum note.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 20, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  37. “Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.”

    Universal healthcare.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 20, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  38. what DPF proposes would bring major prosperity and wealth expansion to the NZ economy. The right have the economic high ground…

    OECD secretary-general Angel Gurria (well known radical leftie) :

    “The social compact is starting to unravel in many countries. The benefits of economic growth DO NOT trickle down automatically, this study dispels that assumption. Greater inequality DOES NOT foster social mobility” (OECD’s emphasis).”

    Comment by Neil — December 20, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  39. James: you’re right! Thank god we’ve abandoned the economic system that led to absolutely no growth of net worth between 1840 and 1984. Economic liberalism is the way, the truth and the light. All praise be Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson – the true disciples that presided over the only economic growth this sad nation has ever seen.

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  40. Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.

    roads

    (this is fun)

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  41. “Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.”

    Free, universal, secular education.

    Comment by Neil — December 20, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  42. Neil…when I say “right” I mean economically market liberals….not conservatives. Trickle down is a lefty created fallacy straw-man and is not part of the classical economic school.

    GU ….Universal heath care has done no such thing…its been a failure everywhere its tried and has NOT made any society net wealthier and certainly hasn’t enhanced individual rights and freedom.

    Same goes for schools…which were actually started under the private sector yet when taken over by the state caused literacy rates to actually decline. .

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  43. Schools, universal healthcare, what else has the bloody state done for us then?

    Comment by Brian — December 20, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  44. Alright, schools, universal healthcare, roads, what else – No bastard mentioned the aquaducts yet?

    Comment by Brian — December 20, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  45. James, at 2:10pm, sez: “If one is referring to Libertarianz [as right-wing] then its completely wrong as Libertarians are politically neither right nor left wing….hence those pesky socially liberal polices re drugs, euthanasia,abortion and prostitution they have aligned next to their economically liberal ones re free markets and de-regulation.”

    James, at 2:24pm sez: “when I say “right” I mean economically market liberals….not conservatives.”

    My, what a difference 14 nek minnits makes.

    Oh, and also: paid parental leave.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

  46. I see the qualification of “bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.” has not been comprehended by some people. Its a trick question really as these examples have necessitated by default an expansion of the state and its taxation activities causing a reduction in freedom and rights.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  47. I should have maintained the distinction between rightists and market liberals…true…the my point is unchanged,

    Paid parental leave”?…now you are just taking the piss Lew.

    Can none of you offer and example that answers my question?

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  48. Really? People have less freedom and less rights now than they did in, say, 1880? Bollocks.

    And it’s actually a two-part question. Your conjecture is that the proposals put forward by DPF will lead to a great increase in personal wealth creation. At no point do you state that they will lead to an increase in personal freedoms. So why should we entertain an entirely arbitrary measure you tack on when your own championed model shows little to no benefit when measured against it?

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  49. Indeed, James, in spite of the fact that you said the opposite of what you meant to say, the universe makes it obvious that your point has exactly as much validity as it would have, had you actually said what you meant. A = A, or in this case, 0 = 0.

    Oh, and: free child vaccination.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  50. Same goes for schools…which were actually started under the private sector yet when taken over by the state caused literacy rates to actually decline. .

    yeah the last 150 years of world history are kind of against you on that one

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  51. Simon….personal freedom is enhanced by default by the removal of State impositions and redtape from the path of people seekuing to create new waelth.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  52. Grassed Up mentioned universal healthcare. Through this, we have widespread vaccination which ensures that many of your working class slaves do not die of typhoid or smallpox. Thank god our Randian overlords have the benefit of a healthy, educated populace from which to draw their workforce.

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  53. Bradluen…How so? Would you really claim that our kids today are anywhere near as literate and skilled in subjects such as English, maths than their Grandparents were? The decline in standards is marked

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  54. So what, apart from universal healthcare, free secular education, vaccination and roads have governments ever done for us?

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

  55. Simon…why do you assume only the state can provide vaccinations etc or children…? Healthcare long preceded the state you know.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  56. “hahaha nobody can give a counterexample to the statement I redefined after the fact to be tautological”

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  57. Lew…too damn much that we would have got better and cheaper if we had retained the choice of how we spent our own money.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  58. I didn’t say that only the state could provide them, but only the state HAS provided them. It was not a private initiative that eradicated smallpox.

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  59. Bradluen…the question was quite clear…that you can’t offer an answer that matches the criteria isn’t my fault.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

  60. Don’t argue with me, James — argue with the historical record.

    Oh, and: dog-catchers.

    L.

    Comment by Lew — December 20, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  61. Sanctuary – It is not that the left-right spectrum is now irrelevant. It is that it has always been nonsensical. That trying to represent all the differences between human positions on the sociopolitical world into a one-dimensional left-right spectrum is inane. Trying to replace it with some new one-dimensional or two-dimensional spectrum would also be inane.

    Look at the above thread to see the inanity of it. We’ve simply got a signalling battle of tribal loyalties (schools are “left wing”).

    Why don’t those like Danyl and Bradluen who are bandying these terms about provide us with a clear definition of what is “left” and what is “right” that involves a substantive matching of means to ends and would also clearly define the extremes like Danyl’s “far-right”?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  62. I’ll never understand why DPF isn’t an ACT supporter. I’ve never actually seen him disagree with any of their policies. I guess he just wants the bully pulpit that comes with being in a party that is capable of providing a Prime Minister.

    Comment by Hugh — December 20, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  63. The two poles are now…and have pretty much always been….Authoritarian vs Libertarian. Everyone and every position falls between these two.

    Smon….the private sector has created a million and one more health benefit’s than the state has managed. Smallpox was no eradicated by the state…it was a human being pursuing his own self interested ambition that did that.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  64. “Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.”

    The Internet – all boxes ticked.

    Comment by ieuan — December 20, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

  65. Here was me thinking the interweb evolved from the US DoD and it’s ARPANET initiative.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  66. All government funded agencies & universities Merv

    Comment by ieuan — December 20, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  67. Personally I wouldn’t lump the US DoD in the camp of the liberal left but hey what do I know.

    Comment by merv — December 20, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  68. So the US DoD is “left wing”. The first internet model that was to become ARPAnet was designed privately by BBN Technologies prior to it gaining a government grant (from DARPA). A lot of different protocols were developed and used by private companies. It seems to have been a natural progression. If the argument is that the internet wouldn’t have been possible without the state that would be a fairly indefensible argument. I don’t know that anyone who actually tries to make such an argument.

    Is the argument not that anything the state does is “left wing”?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  69. (since it’s been a feed-the-trolls kind of day for me)

    QtR, I agree with Popper that definitions get in the way of more substantive issues in argument, and besides, I agree with you that a one-dimensional spectrum is a simplification (though not necessarily worthless). Since the only times I’ve used “left” in this thread have been quotes of James, you might like to redirect your question to him.

    James, I admit I’m making an assumption. The current NZ adult literacy rate is 99%. Wellington took control of education in 1877. Now, I don’t know that the NZ literacy rate was below 99% in 1877 — I looked for the number for about two minutes and didn’t find it. So to prove your point, all you have to do is show the NZ adult literacy rate in 1877 was above 99%. To make it fair, I’ll let you use any NZ literacy rate from the 19th century.

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  70. Also I thought the WHO played at least a small role in smallpox eradication, but no, apparently it was the achievement of Edward Jenner alone, who tirelessly and self-interestedly went door to door to several billion households.

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

  71. bradluen – New Zealand was considerably poorer and less developed nation in 1877 than it is today. It would be a poor comparison to make. This whole issue is one of comparitive institutions, public vs private, top-down mass coercion vs bottom-up emergent order. A better comparison would be that between private and public education in poor developing nations today. Some work has been done in that area:

    James Tooley began researching the reach and performance of private schools for the extremely poor in India and elsewhere. What he found was startling, and it bears directly and profoundly on the relief of extreme poverty all over the world.

    In Hyderabad, a city of more than 6 million people, Tooley and his team—confining their search to poor areas lacking amenities such as running water, electricity, and paved roads—counted 918 schools. Only about 40 percent were run or financed by the government; 60 percent were private. Remarkably, some of the slots in these private slum schools were offered free or at reduced rates: The parents of full-fee students, desperately poor themselves, willingly subsidized those in direst need.

    What Tooley stumbled onto in Hyderabad turns out to be typical not just of India but of all the other places he subsequently researched—including parts of China, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. In every case, private education is a principal lifeline for the abjectly poor. In the areas of Ghana and Nigeria that Tooley’s team has canvassed, an outright majority of poor children are attending private schools run without support from the government.

    On the whole, dime-a-day for-profit schools are doing a better job of teaching the poorest children than the far more expensive state schools. In many localities, private schools operate alongside a free, government-run alternative. Many parents, poor as they may be, have chosen to reject it and to pay perhaps a tenth of their meager incomes to educate their children privately. They would hardly do that unless they expected better results.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

  72. ….and aqueducts!….remember the aqueducts….
    see your 8 dots and raise you 4

    Comment by Leopold — December 20, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

  73. Bradluen wrote: “Wellington took control of education in 1877. Now, I don’t know that the NZ literacy rate was below 99% in 1877″

    In the 1870s, Nelson Province had significantly better literacy and numeracy rates than any other New Zealand province, even though it was one of the poorer provinces. It was deduced that this was because it was the only province with publicly funded universal secular education. It was in response to this that the New Zealand government introduced free secular education nationwide

    This may well be impossible by definition in James’s world, but it is also the generally-accepted historical record of how public education came to be introduced in New Zealand.

    Comment by Kahikatea — December 20, 2011 @ 4:22 pm

  74. There is a lot of academic work on public versus private debate. That is where the real arguments are taking place (and where the evidence is more piling up on one side) not between pseudo-intellectuals and dilettantes, like us.

    See for instance: Public Choice and the Economic Analysis of Anarchy: A Survey

    Specifically on public education see McNally, Kate, State Education in the Nineteenth Century: Demanded or Imposed?. Economic Affairs, Vol. 30, Issue 1, pp. 43-47, March 2010.

    On science as a public good see the work of biochemist Terence Kealey: The Myth of Science as a Public Good.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  75. Leftists proposed the internet…?

    Sigh….

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 4:49 pm

  76. This whole issue is one of comparitive institutions, public vs private, top-down mass coercion vs bottom-up emergent order.

    See, to me the issue is that James is a perfectly rational individual who thinks literacy was higher before universal public education. Any actually substantive arguments I may have made are purely coincidental.

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  77. Literacy rates were raising faster before the state got involved in education…in Britain mainly. Since the state got involved they have tailed off. Yes more people are educated now…but the rate of increase has declined…and indeed stalled in some places. My Father was educated in England in the late 20′s,early 30′s…..and his maths and English level as a comparative Standard 2 was equivalent to today’s 4 former.

    Comment by James — December 20, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  78. QtR: The issue, as raised by James: “Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.”

    James’ has also put forward that anything undertaken by a Government is, by nature, inferior to that undertaken by private individual. It does not matter whether free secular education was demanded by a populace or imposed by a Government because it is, in its nature, a “leftist” proposal. If an individual could have provided a better outcome, cheaper, then surely they would have by now?

    Ergo, a free education, as provided by the state, has brought about significant gains in net worth and economic growth whilst enhancing individual rights and freedom. Also, James, if you think widespread education has harmed individual rights and freedom, I’d love to hear why.

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  79. James: Of course the rate of increase has fallen. There isn’t a lot of scope for increasing rates of literacy when it is at 99%, you .

    Comment by Simon Poole — December 20, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  80. >QtR, I agree with Popper that definitions get in the way of more substantive issues in argument

    He did say that bad definitions did that, by which he meant ones that were “overloaded with meaning”. He was no enemy of definitions generally, you can’t possibly do science without knowing, for instance, how long a meter is, which is purely a matter of definition. You can’t do philosophy or logic, either, both of which were his own specialties.

    I expect he’d find “Left” too vague to use. But he used “Marxist” thousands of times, indeed he blamed WW2 on Marxists (and ultimately Plato), rather than Nazis. So not everything he said should be considered gold.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 20, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

  81. If literacy rates had increased constantly, we would have 122% literacy by now. But this thread is conclusive evidence that literacy is less than 100%, so congratulations, you win!

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  82. If an individual could have provided a better outcome, cheaper, then surely they would have by now?

    No because the state crowds out alternatives. With an increase in state power comes a decrease in social power. See for instance this account of mutual aid societies which provided cheap healthcare to working class people before the state destroyed them by the anarchist philosophy professor Roderick Long.

    It used to be that many of those who self-identified themselves as “left” strongly criticized the public education system. The bureaucracy, the regimentation, the institutionalization, the hierarchic nature offended their sensibilities. You can see this in the work by people like Ivan Illich in Deschooling Society. In fact it was progressives in the US who originally pushed charter schools. Now all we get is a reflexive defense of state education. Just as we get a reflexive defense of the state in most other areas. There’s no imagination or vision anymore there is just a deathly dull, insipid, reactionary statism.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  83. How about the abolition of slavery, James? Putting a (market) price on labour must have increased the wealth in the economy, and I would hope that the freedom-enhancing aspect is clear.

    Comment by Nick — December 20, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  84. Very entertaining read.

    Comment by nw — December 20, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  85. That “account of of mutual aid societies which provided cheap healthcare to working class people before the state destroyed them” is pretty silly. Apparently, a doctors’ cartel was behind the establishment of the British NHS in an effort to destroy the threat posed to their incomes by these various mutual aid societies serving the working class. However, I guess they carefully hid their true aims by first getting a Labour Government elected by that same working class to carry through their aims, and then pretending to vociferously oppose the policy (see here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/nhs_at_50/special_report/119803.stm). They are so very, very clever, these doctors.

    So, yeah … once the NHS was in place there was no incentive to join a mutual aid society anymore. But to somehow pretend this destroyed a viable, incipient alternative to universal healthcare strikes me as a case of wishful thinking (i.e. “social power” must be able to do everything the state can (it just must!), this is an example of “social power”, therefore this could have provided all the same benefits as does presently state-run medical services).

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 20, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

  86. Ben: Yeah, I didn’t mean to assert that democratic fundamentalist Popper never used definitions*, just that for some words (e.g. “philosophy”), definitions are necessarily arbitrary and thus counterproductive in that they close off interesting directions for thought. Mainly I wanted to avoid a Kiwipolitico-style “true meaning of revolution” argument.

    Of course the main application of Popper to the thread is the way some people, their propositions having been falsified, make ad hoc adjustments to make them unfalsifiable.

    *or that Popper was infallible, e.g. his probability sucked

    Comment by bradluen — December 20, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  87. ‘Leftists proposed the internet…? Sigh….’

    That’s all your’ve got, ‘sigh’? The fact is state funded institutions including schools, hospitals, universities etc funded by the tax payer provide a very viable and productive way to run many aspects of society. But unlike you I wouldn’t argue that, that is the only way. Of course private enterprise, the free market and the contribution made by individuals are an extremely important part of our society and economy.

    It’s about having a mixture of ownership and funding models not blindly dictated by dogma.

    Comment by ieuan — December 20, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  88. Grassed Up – You realise Doctors could both oppose the establishment of the NHS and the pricing policies of fraternal societies. They’re not mutually exclusive feelings. In the US the antipathy towards lodge pratice from many medical establishment was clear. From David T Beito’s book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State

    Reflecting the intensity of feeling the Pennsylvania Medical Journal bluntly demanded that “the club doctor must be shut out of the profession”…. Another opponent predicted that lodge practice, if not stopped, would depress fees to levels “comparable to those of the bootblack and peanut vendor”.

    The AMA responded to the threat of cheap medical care for working class people by having strict state licensing laws put in place and reducing the number of medical schools (by more than half between 1904 and 1922). The relative number of doctors actually shrank.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

  89. “My Father was educated in England in the late 20′s,early 30′s…..and his maths and English level as a comparative Standard 2 was equivalent to today’s 4 former.”

    And I bet in his day kids gave you a bit of respect, too.

    Comment by Hugh — December 20, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  90. Probably walked up hill both ways in snow all year round #misquote

    Comment by nw — December 20, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

  91. But, Raven, the article you linked to explicitly asserts that the establishment of the NHS was a response to doctors’ demands that the threat of “fraternal societies” be rubbed out. Here’s the relevant section:

    “The response of the medical establishment, both in America and in Britain, was one of outrage; the institution of lodge practice was denounced in harsh language and apocalyptic tones. … The government, they demanded, must do something.
    And so it did. In Britain, the state put an end to the “evil” of lodge practice by bringing health care under political control. Physicians’ fees would now be determined by panels of trained professionals (i.e., the physicians themselves) rather than by ignorant patients. State-financed medical care edged out lodge practice; those who were being forced to pay taxes for “free” health care whether they wanted it or not had little incentive to pay extra for health care through the fraternal societies, rather than using the government care they had already paid for.”

    Now, it may be true that the NHS led to such fraternal societies disappearing, but to somehow claim this was the aim of those behind the NHS is plain nuts … and equally I’d like to see an awful lot more evidence for the claim that this development was widely regretted by those who previously used their services (i.e. the working classes who voted Labour into office).

    Of course, the deeper point is that you deployed this link as evidence for the proposition that without the State’s intervention, there will be available “social power” solutions to problems of accessing otherwise prohibitively expensive services. So given the link’s clearly false historical claims about the NHS’s establishment, let me ask you this … why did all those working class folks so well served by these societies vote for a Government that was determined to destroy them? Are poor people really that stupid?

    As for the potential use of licensing requirements to restrict demand and thus create a shortage that can be exploited … true. But, so what? Are you going to take the field and argue for a “buyer beware” approach to medical care, in which anyone may offer medical services and the consumer may choose the level of expertise or prior training she/he wishes to pay for? ‘Cause that would be fun.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 20, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

  92. “As for the potential use of licensing requirements to restrict demand …”

    Exchange “supply” for “demand”, and curse this blog’s cheapskate attitude towards edit functions.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 20, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

  93. Grassed Up – The response of the British Medical Association and the insurance industry’s trade association Combine began with the amendments they pushed for on the National Insurance Act of 1911. That was the first nail in the coffin for lodge practice in Britain. See: David Green, Working-Class Patients and the Medical Establishment: Self-Help in Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to 1948.

    Of course, the deeper point is that you deployed this link as evidence for the proposition that without the State’s intervention, there will be available “social power” solutions to problems of accessing otherwise prohibitively expensive services.

    And the actual historical experience of the fraternal societies, lodges, labour unions and other mutual aid organizations in providing cheap healthcare for millions of working class people bears that out.

    Do we really need a six year degreed Doctor to remove an ingrown tonenail or set a broken ankle? Are you going to refuse to admit there maybe cheaper alternatives and the only way is the current way of doing things?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 20, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  94. ““Show me a leftist proposal that has ever bought about a net worth growing and wealthier economy while enhancing individual rights and freedom.”

    Sanitation – e.g. public sewers and sewerage treatment plants.

    Comment by PGM — December 20, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

  95. @Nick 81

    Have you seen the ‘Yes Men’?

    Surely you have heard their compelling thesis that state intervention by the leftist North led to an unnecessary war, as market principles would have ensured the abolition of slavery.

    The prohibitive costs and expenses associated with slavery mean that it would have fallen to the model of outsourced labour, which due to the different cost structures of states in international economies allows companies to avoid most of the financial risks of slavery, doesn’t deny the individual their freedom and yet still maintains competitive advantages such as were attained under slavery.

    Comment by sheesh — December 20, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

  96. “The response of the British Medical Association and the insurance industry’s trade association Combine began with the amendments they pushed for on the National Insurance Act of 1911.”

    And so …?

    “And the actual historical experience of the fraternal societies, lodges, labour unions and other mutual aid organizations in providing cheap healthcare for millions of working class people bears that out.”

    No doubt. But how many millions of working class people didn’t receive such healthcare? And, if “social power” was doing such a great job meeting their needs, why did they enthusiastically vote in a Labour Government on the explicit promise of nationalising health care? Again, is your thesis that poor people are just stupid?

    “Do we really need a six year degreed Doctor to remove an ingrown tonenail or set a broken ankle? Are you going to refuse to admit there maybe cheaper alternatives and the only way is the current way of doing things?”

    Absolutely not. But who is going to tell you that the infected sore on the end of your foot is only an ingrown toenail and not something nastier, or that the ankle you can’t walk on is a simple break rather than a complex one requiring orthopedic surgery (or, indeed, simply a sprain that will heal with rest)?

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 21, 2011 @ 7:45 am

  97. @bradluen

    >just that for some words (e.g. “philosophy”), definitions are necessarily arbitrary and thus counterproductive in that they close off interesting directions for thought. Mainly I wanted to avoid a Kiwipolitico-style “true meaning of revolution” argument.

    Popper did have a solution, though, and it wasn’t to just not talk about the subject. He said that when words overloaded with meaning were being used, one should either fix a meaning of them for the purposes of the discussion, or that you should use a new word that can be fixed, and avoid the term whose definition can’t be agreed on. So “Left” might be OK, if a clear designation could be found. But yes, he had no time for “the true meaning of Left”.

    It’s strange that he’s so often favored by the lovers of the free market. I read a shitload of him when studying philosophy, epistemology was my favourite subject, with massive crossover to my other major, computer science. I never saw any evidence that he would have been a market purist. It just wouldn’t be pragmatic enough for him, flying in the face of massive failures that have repeated over and over again, and are being repeated right now. I think he’d say it’s been disproved, long ago, probably before he even wrote “The Open Society and it’s Enemies”, by the Great Depression, whose tail end he was himself fleeing the effects of in his long sequestration in Christchurch, fearing for his family (he had Jewish ancestry), and his own life and liberty.

    Of NZ, which he lived in entirely under the First Labour Government, he said that it was the best governed country in the whole world, but he had no time for the academic life here, even though he himself had the liberty and prosperity to write his most famous political work. I very much doubt that he would have said that if he had any real beef with our first welfare state. He would probably have called it “Piecemeal Social Engineering”, his own prescription for political, economic and social change – to iteratively remove such injustices as could easily be bitten off, without allowing grand, sweeping ideologies to cast aside pragmatics and harm people on a grand scale in the dream that “false historicism” would bring Utopia for all.

    Interesting guy. He may have disparaged the academic culture of NZ, but it’s hard not to think that being forced to pretty much be the entire philosophy department in Christchurch, that his own talents mightn’t have grown tremendously from the experience, learning how to orate to all levels of student, and polishing and honing wide knowledge of all the major philosophical branches. And since he was not authorized to spend his working hours researching, he did that entirely in his spare time (so he claims, I wouldn’t blame him if that wasn’t entirely true), so it was a true labour of love. Perhaps being shielded from peer review by the tyranny of distance meant his ideas got developed in a way they might never have if the logical positivists of his home town had had a chance to tear the shit out of his ideas when they were fledglings.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  98. >Absolutely not. But who is going to tell you that the infected sore on the end of your foot is only an ingrown toenail and not something nastier, or that the ankle you can’t walk on is a simple break rather than a complex one requiring orthopedic surgery (or, indeed, simply a sprain that will heal with rest)?

    Yes, I’d rather have any anesthetic required administered by a true professional, since it does, occasionally, kill people.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  99. I never saw any evidence that he would have been a market purist.

    No he definitely wasn’t a purist, but he was a supporter of free market capitalism at least to some extent. He was a founding member of the Mont Pelerin Society with his friend Friedrich Hayek and others such as Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises. The society is very important in the history of neo-liberalism and had a not inconsiderable impact on the world. So many important names in neo-liberalism were founding members alongside Popper, Hayek, Friedman, Polanyi, Ropke, Frank Knight and George Stigler.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  100. >The prohibitive costs and expenses associated with slavery mean that it would have fallen to the model of outsourced labour, which due to the different cost structures of states in international economies allows companies to avoid most of the financial risks of slavery, doesn’t deny the individual their freedom and yet still maintains competitive advantages such as were attained under slavery.

    Perhaps. Or they might have just thought “Fuck it, we may not be the richest farmers, but at least we got our slaves, providing for us a lifestyle totally impossible in the North, in which every disgusting injustice that we ever care to do is not only our right, but also our property”. You can’t rape outsourced labour and get away with it. You can’t arbitrarily thrash it to death (or thrash it at all, for that matter).. You can’t cut it’s feet off for trying to escape. You don’t get to rename it, and choose whom it can or can’t breed with. You can’t come into its house and take everything it’s got, if you so desired.

    Some people, primarily the slave owners who had not changed their farming ways despite evidence of that they were less competitive (the Romans had pretty much shown this to be over a thousand years earlier), just *liked* slavery, for reasons that are very human, have been around since the dawn of time, and have never gone away – some people like hurting other people. A slave culture encourages that mindset. The power to order the affairs of others to your every whim is something some humans like, and it’s disgusting, and it had to end, and it’s just as well it did. The “free market” had every chance to end it for that entire revolting period of American history and it did nothing. Nada. All it did was provide markets in which human misery could be purchased for the right price.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  101. Mainly I wanted to avoid a Kiwipolitico-style “true meaning of revolution” argument.

    I wish I could avoid those, too.

    L

    Comment by Lew — December 21, 2011 @ 11:35 am

  102. Ahh loving it….

    Ben dude, if you examine the tabled documents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo-1W_8otS4

    Comment by sheesh — December 21, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  103. >The society is very important in the history of neo-liberalism and had a not inconsiderable impact on the world.

    Yes, and Nietzsche was famously used by the Nazis, despite even the most casual reading of Nietzsche showing that he thought Germans were pretty much idiots.

    Popper would have thought neoliberalism in it’s modern form to be the worst kind of pseudoscientific tosh, refuted wherever it had made an actual bold claim, and otherwise tightly irrefutable by the logic of its own internal principles, and thus unscientific and most likely an enemy of open societies. It’s single-minded attempts to dismantle every kind of piecemeal social engineering are in direct conflict to his only prescription for social change.

    He may even think his own theories to have been refuted. He always said that was a possibility, that falsificationism was a scientific theory, and as such, it could be refuted. But I don’t recall any bold predictive claims or critical tests that he proposed for it, which makes me think he could never really make this side of it work.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  104. Ben: Lots of stuff in post 95 I hadn’t thought about properly, so thanks.

    Lew: Ha.

    Comment by bradluen — December 21, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  105. >Ben dude, if you examine the tabled documents

    I did presume you were taking the piss, but this is the internet, people could have misread your comment entirely – I didn’t really want it to stand without challenge.

    Funny stuff. Sort of. The idea that the American South could have prospered in cotton and textiles without even growing any cotton in their own country, simply by outsourcing to darkest Africa, where slavery is a very real thing even today, is unfortunately just the kind of thing that market purists really do believe.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  106. But who is going to tell you that the infected sore on the end of your foot is only an ingrown toenail and not something nastier, or that the ankle you can’t walk on is a simple break rather than a complex one requiring orthopedic surgery

    I’m still not seeing the need for a an emxpensive six-year degreed doctor to tell the difference between an infected wound and an ingrown toenail or to order an x-ray.

    Ben – The Mont Pelerin is perhaps the most important organization in the history of neo-liberalism. It would be fairly strange for someone to be a founding member of an organization if he thought that organization and the movement it represented to be pseduoscientific tosh. However, I think you give popper too much credit in discerning what is scientific and unscientific. For Popper no inductive method of science is possible; “induction, i.e. inference based on many observations, is a myth”. Which is clearly at variance with the actual practice of science. Popper’s refusal of induction makes it impossible for him to say, why we should choose one un-falsified theory over another. It led him to say that “I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory but a metaphysical research programme.” Popper’s rejection of induction in science is untenable, in the real world. I would have thought anyone who would have studied him would have known this. I learnt it as an undergraduate.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  107. >However, I think you give popper too much credit in discerning what is scientific and unscientific.

    Considering that it is the main subject that he wrote on, I disagree. It’s credit exactly where it is due. Most of his writing is on the subject of “what is science?”, on which he had a very, very strong opinion.

    >Popper’s rejection of induction in science is untenable, in the real world. I would have thought anyone who would have studied him would have known this. I learnt it as an undergraduate.

    Yes, and you’d have probably learned that he thought Falsificationism was the answer to Hume’s famous “problem of induction”, and “naive inductionism”? If you didn’t get that, you didn’t get Popper at all. That theory was his life’s work, and what made him (justifiably) famous. His work on politics is a footnote, by comparison.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  108. Ben – . Popper erroneously believed he had solved the “problem of induction”. How do we come up with hypotheses if not by induction? Popper wrongly believed that falsification allowed him to do away with induction and produce a deductive method for science. “Only the falsity of the theory can be inferred from empirical evidence, and this inference is purely a deductive one.” Its Popper’s contention that you cannot increase your confidence in a theory no matter how many tests it passes, that provides the most problems.

    Why should we go to a doctor instead of a soothsayer? This is a question that Popper would have trouble answering. Why choose a theory that’s passed lots of tests over a theory that hasn’t; Popper would say that we should seek theories “with a high degree of corroboration.” What is corroboration? Popper used this term for something that a scientific theory acquires when it survives attempts to refute it. For Popper corroboration is only “a report on past performance… it says nothing whatever about future performance or about the ‘reliability’ of a theory.” So why should we choose a corroborated theory over a non-corroborated theory, if we can have no more confidence in the corroborated theory; Popper can’t answer this without inductive inferences. If we have two theories, one a long established theory, the other a new untested theory, we wouldn’t be able to decide which theory to use in any instance. Because both theories have yet to be falsified and we cannot allow for confirmation, it means that both theories are of equal value.

    Popper’s theory has long been debunked.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  109. I’m still not seeing the need for a an emxpensive six-year degreed doctor to tell the difference between an infected wound and an ingrown toenail or to order an x-ray.

    Have you been to India? You can go and buy yourself heavy duty antibiotics over the counter at the local pharmacy and bypass all those expensive degreed doctors. Mind you, India is also the suspected source of the so-called antibiotic resistant “superbugs”, so your ingrown toenail could actually kill you.

    But you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you died free, in a pretty much unregulated market.

    Comment by Neil — December 21, 2011 @ 1:05 pm

  110. Neil – India is a poor developing nation. Imagine if they regulated their healthcare like us and what expense and hence what suffering that would inflict upon poor people who wouldn’t be able to afford healthcare. Here’s an example: How I got well in India for $50.

    Even emergency care in India seems to work along the same lines. The same friend who first called a doctor for me had been in a horrific car accident about eight months before I arrived. He was taking a right turn at 2 in the morning when a truck came from the opposite side, ran into his car and just kept going. His femur was broken like a twig, as were his collarbone and wrist. His lip was split and his nose was hanging off his face. Two months and a few surgeries later, he walked out of the hospital. He walks now without any aid and has had no major complications. The total bill, paid by his Indian insurance company, was less than $10,000. A similar accident in the U.S. would run up a $200,000 bill and bankrupt almost anyone who didn’t have health insurance.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  111. >How do we come up with hypotheses if not by induction?

    Popper never, ever, claimed that the process of coming up with hypotheses was scientific. He would not have disparaged any method whatsoever, so far as I could tell, be it monkeys banging away on a keyboard, or astrologers looking at the stars. That was a rather unexplored area of his theory – he only had so much time and probably hoped that his theory would be built upon, which it was. His theory was about appraising theories *after* they had been produced.

    >Why should we go to a doctor instead of a soothsayer? This is a question that Popper would have trouble answering.

    If you wanted medical help, he’d have said a doctor, because they base their methods on science.

    >Why choose a theory that’s passed lots of tests over a theory that hasn’t

    Because the one that hasn’t passed is false, the other may still be true. He was clear about this.

    >Popper would say that we should seek theories “with a high degree of corroboration.” What is corroboration?

    That’s theories whose survival of critical tests has been multiply confirmed by independent agents.

    >For Popper corroboration is only “a report on past performance… it says nothing whatever about future performance or about the ‘reliability’ of a theory.”

    Taking you in the best of faith I can, you’re saying his claim to have solved the problem of induction is false. I’d agree, it’s an insoluble problem. But that wasn’t all there was to his theory. He made quite a lot of claims about the best practices by which to compare the value of different theories.

    >If we have two theories, one a long established theory, the other a new untested theory, we wouldn’t be able to decide which theory to use in any instance. Because both theories have yet to be falsified and we cannot allow for confirmation, it means that both theories are of equal value.

    Not at all. He had a strongly expressed preference for the theory with the most predictive power, which had survived the most critical tests. He said repeatedly that the most powerful revolutions in science came not from inductively showing that they fitted with observed phenomenon, but from the times that they broke with observed phenomenon completely, by making bold predictions of the unknown, which could be disproved by looking for the new phenomenon predicted and showing it was bullshit. Anything so bold had reached far beyond induction.

    His favorite examples were the discoveries of the planet Neptune (which came about entirely by backing Newtonian physics and explaining the deviations from it by the planet Uranus with a “saving hypothesis”), and the discovery that gravity bends light, which followed from Einstein’s theory, but was never observed prior to the theory, and would probably have killed the theory if the critical test had shown it to be false.

    Inductionism is certainly not at all good at explaining these crucial moments in the history of physics.

    >Popper’s theory has long been debunked.

    That’s an opinion, and you’re allowed to hold it. I think it’s simplistic, that he made a profound contribution, and that his theory has been built upon and is still very influential to actual scientists. Hypothesis takes a very high position in the process, as does testing. Merely collecting data and making inductive observations about it is not the only thing scientists do.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  112. Taking you in the best of faith I can, you’re saying his claim to have solved the problem of induction is false. I’d agree, it’s an insoluble problem.

    Yes it is false and that’s whole point. You don’t have to take me on faith Conjectures and Refutations p.55 quote “…the problem of induction is solved.” I thought you’ve read a “shitload” of him?

    Because the one that hasn’t passed is false, the other may still be true. He was clear about this.

    No. If we have a new theory that has yet to pass lots of tests and an old one that has than how can we decide without inductive reasoning to choose the latter? This is whole the point.

    Not at all. He had a strongly expressed preference for the theory with the most predictive power, which had survived the most critical tests.

    Because he relies on inductive reasoning despite his claim to have solved the problem of induction and despite his ardent anti-inductivism.

    For Popper science seeks only to refute conjectures; a deductive process. So, any knowledge of whether a theory is true or not is impossible. Even if we had a theory that was true, we wouldn’t know it. Where does this leave science; does it make science a pointless exercise? For Popper it doesn’t. Popper’s rejection of induction as a valid route to knowledge leads him to some difficult conclusions; e.g. his assertion that “All knowledge remains… conjectural.” A conjecture is not knowledge, it is merely a guess, and therefore Popper’s assertion is a contradiction in terms. Popper’s assertion seems to conflict with his being a realist. “Denying realism amounts to megalomania.” If you uphold Popper’s assertion can there be any scientific knowledge? It would be hard to defend the claim that all knowledge is conjectural because knowledge is not something that is generally thought to be tentative and unjustifiable.

    Popper simply couldn’t do away with induction; he tried to rid science of induction more by arbitrary fiat than by some methodology. When Popper said ‘the problem of induction is solved’ (if there was a problem in the first place), it simply hadn’t been. When Popper used his ideas of corroboration and verisimilitude to choose one theory over another, he was in fact just using induction. In his woks we see many contradictions of his anti-inductivist stand point because Popper is not truly able to adhere to his anti-inductivism; he is in spite of himself a closet inductivist.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  113. “I’m still not seeing the need for a an emxpensive six-year degreed doctor to tell the difference between an infected wound and an ingrown toenail or to order an x-ray.”

    But perhaps the difference between a Mucoid cyst and an ingrown toenail might be harder to spot? And wouldn’t it be useful to have someone to decide if an x-ray of a patient presenting with a generic sore ankle is even needed … and if it is, what it shows? That would seem a reasonable resource-allocation process to me.

    “India is a poor developing nation. Imagine if they regulated their healthcare like us and what expense and hence what suffering that would inflict upon poor people who wouldn’t be able to afford healthcare. ”

    The quoted cost of getting fixed up in India was US$10,000, in the context of India’s average per capita income of US$879.96, By comparison, getting fixed up in the USA allegedly would have cost $200,000, in the context of an average per capita income of $39,945. So I’m not entirely convinced India’s far-less regulated healthcare system is alleviating all that much suffering for “poor people”. And yes, I know the point is that a US-style system of healthcare (which isn’t just about regulatory requirements, of course) would be even more ruinous for most Indians. But no-one thinks the US model is any good at all (outside of hard-core Republicans who can’t believe the US isn’t always the best at everything). So it’s a bit of a false dichotomy … which can be demonstrated by asking where would you rather be sick/injured and uninsured – India, the USA, or New Zealand?

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 21, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  114. You realise that fully trained Doctor’s do not learn every possible medical condition that could ever arise in school and still must face novel situations when they are working?

    which can be demonstrated by asking where would you rather be sick/injured and uninsured – India, the USA, or New Zealand?

    Which, because New Zealand and the USA are wealthy developed nations and India is a developing one is a poor comparison to make.

    I think the per capita income of both the US and India are higher than the numbers you quoted. See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  115. >Yes it is false and that’s whole point.

    It’s a rather minor point that I never disputed, that you raised for reasons that are beyond me. If you can clarify why you think this is so important, please do.

    >Even if we had a theory that was true, we wouldn’t know it. Where does this leave science; does it make science a pointless exercise?

    Nope, it gets closer to the truth, without ever being truly sure that it has reached it. It’s a hill-climbing algorithm, suffering from the old problem of local optima. It’s by far the best thing we’ve come up with for this problem that is enormous (the problem of “what are all the laws of the universe”).

    >A conjecture is not knowledge, it is merely a guess, and therefore Popper’s assertion is a contradiction in terms.

    Conjectures can contain a great deal of knowledge. If x is a number I’m looking for, and I’ve proved it can’t be more than 5 or less than 1, then I know something about it, without knowing exactly what it is.

    >Popper’s assertion seems to conflict with his being a realist.

    No, it doesn’t. You can believe that there is a truth to a matter without knowing what it is, and even without ever being able to know. Someone (or more than one), for instance, killed JFK. I don’t know who they are, and I don’t think I ever will. But if I’m a realist, then I believe they are real, nonetheless.

    >It would be hard to defend the claim that all knowledge is conjectural because knowledge is not something that is generally thought to be tentative and unjustifiable.

    OK, for starters, Popper was talking about scientific knowledge, not “all knowledge”. He thought that 1+1=2 is knowledge purely from the logic. Secondly, you’re claiming his beliefs about knowledge are wrong because it is “not generally thought”. That’s less than convincing. Maybe what is generally thought is wrong, particularly on the matter of scientific knowledge. That’s no yardstick.

    >Popper simply couldn’t do away with induction

    Yes, you win that completely undisputed point, hands down. Not because you are right, but because I don’t care, it’s not relevant to anything I’ve said about Popper, particularly not in respect to his supposed support of neoliberalism.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  116. OK, for starters, Popper was talking about scientific knowledge, not “all knowledge”…….

    My mistake for not being clear enough in saying scientific knowledge and scientific conjecture.

    Yes, you win that completely undisputed point, hands down. Not because you are right, but because I don’t care, it’s not relevant to anything I’ve said about Popper

    It is relevant to his philosophy of science. It is important in the problem of demarcation that is of separating scientific from unscientific theories. It shows where Popper’s wholly deductive scientific method fails and conflicts with the real world practice of science.

    No, it doesn’t. You can believe that there is a truth to a matter without knowing what it is, and even without ever being able to know. Someone (or more than one), for instance, killed JFK.

    You can believe that there is a truth out there, but you still have to face the question of how to determine what that truth is.

    Nope, it gets closer to the truth, without ever being truly sure that it has reached it.

    Then the question becomes how we get closer to that truth and that is where Popper’s conception of verisimilitude or truthlikeness comes in which was shown to be deficient in his lifetime.

    Yes, we are off-topic.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  117. >It is important in the problem of demarcation that is of separating scientific from unscientific theories.

    Not as far as I can see – that comes down to falsifiability. If it can’t possibly be falsified by observation, then it’s not scientific, according to Popper. Doesn’t really matter what is thought about induction. His most important criterion is about whether a test can conceivably be set up to disprove the theory. If this is inconceivable (carefully distinguished from impractical), then it’s not science, according to Popper. This rules out all self-supporting theories.

    >You can believe that there is a truth out there, but you still have to face the question of how to determine what that truth is.

    That’s not a requirement of scientific realism. Scientific realism is simply about whether or not science does actually seek the truth, rather than something else, eg “the most convenient explanation”. To show the difference, if Ptolemaic and Copernican theory had equal explanatory power over the known facts, a scientific realist would say that it’s one or the other, that it can’t be both, that the Sun can’t be revolving around the Earth AND the Planets (including Earth) revolving around the Sun. Non-realists (there are more than one variety) COULD say that because neither actually refers to the truth, only a convenient theory, both are satisfactory.

    The realist does NOT have to commit to knowing the truth either way, however. They could say that it’s not truly known which one is true about the solar system. They don’t even have to commit to knowing how to find out. They might, for instance, be a botanist, and have no frikken idea. But they can still consistently be a realist.

    >Then the question becomes how we get closer to that truth and that is where Popper’s conception of verisimilitude or truthlikeness comes in which was shown to be deficient in his lifetime.

    I’m not so sure. Drawing a picture by slowly blacking out the bits that aren’t in it does get the job done, and the “picture” does resemble the picture. I’d say most practicing scientists feel this way, that they’re homing in on the truth, that the grand outline is known for the well-fleshed out theories.

    The hard bit to get your head around with this view, is explaining scientific revolutions, that fundamentally change the picture (as in the Copernican revolution example). That looks more like total change of the picture. Can we really rule out this ever happening again, even in the most developed of sciences? What if the Higgs Boson suddenly gives us an entirely different picture of the shape of the universe, after all measurements are done and told, and some bright spark goes “Hey, that’s not experimental error, that’s a pattern! Look!”.

    >Yes, we are off-topic.

    Totally. Popper came up because of his opinion on useful definitions, which is a useful opinion. It was my fault I wanted to point out that I doubt he was a neoliberal.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 21, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  118. I’m not so sure. Drawing a picture by slowly blacking out the bits that aren’t in it does get the job done, and the “picture” does resemble the picture.

    Well, yes, but Popper’s particular conception of verisimilitude was debunked by Miller and Tichý decades ago see here.

    That’s not a requirement of scientific realism. Scientific realism is simply about whether or not science does actually seek the truth,

    Let me quote this piece on Debunking Popper: A Critique of Karl Popper’s Critical Rationalism: if CR does deny us any knowledge of real facts, the theory not only contradicts realism, it leaves one with no good reason to be a realist. Secondly, if the reasoning in other sections of this essay is correct, then CR conflicts with the fact that, having discovered such real facts as the existence of the works of Karl Popper, say, we can and do have true knowledge of reality. No matter which way one looks at it, CR seems out of place in the mind of anyone who aspires to be a realist.

    The realist does NOT have to commit to knowing the truth either way, however. They could say that it’s not truly known which one is true about the solar system.

    Which goes to the above point that this would leave us with no good reason to be a realist.

    Not as far as I can see – that comes down to falsifiability….

    Quoting from the above piece again: There are other, more serious, criticisms of Popper’s theory of demarcation. Grover Maxwell pointed out that ‘All men are mortal’ is a perfectly sound scientific statement which is not falsifiable [PKP1 292]. Popper defended himself robustly [PKP2 1037ff], but Maxwell seemed to have the stronger case. Maxwell might also have taxed Popper about mathematics. The axioms of mathematics cannot be refuted. According to the demarcation theory, therefore, mathematics is not a science. But physics is inseparable from mathematics. Quantum mechanics, for example, could hardly be expressed without it. So physics cannot be a science either. Much the same could be said about logic. The Law of Contradiction, etc, cannot be refuted, so logic is not a science.

    Further than that he still faces the, as I mentioned above, problem as to why should we choose a corroborated theory over a non-corroborated theory, if we can have no more confidence in the corroborated theory; Popper can’t answer this without inductive inferences. If we have two theories, one a long established theory, the other a new untested theory, we wouldn’t be able to decide which theory to use in any instance. Because both theories have yet to be falsified and we cannot allow for confirmation, it means that both theories are of equal value. Furthermore, making an inference from a high level of corroboration to a high level of verisimilitude is an inductive inference. An anti-inductivist such as Popper would still have no reason to choose one theory over another.

    At the end of the day I think Popper was trying to solve a problem which doesn’t need solving and he was a philosopher too far removed from the real world work of scientific inquiry.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 21, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  119. The prohibitive costs and expenses associated with slavery

    American slavery was on a bit of a decline until the cotton gin was invented. Then it experienced a massive boom, because it was incredibly profitable.

    Comment by derp de derp — December 21, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  120. I have always known that the only economic system that works is a market economy, in which everything belongs to someone–which means that someone is responsible for everything.

    So, how does that work anyway? If I own a land that a river runs through, can I take 100% of the water that enters my property if I feel like it? Who owns the fish, as they swim about the ocean? Who owns the air?

    Comment by repton — December 21, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

  121. Raven: “I think the per capita income of both the US and India are higher than the numbers you quoted.”

    You’ve mixed up GDP per capita with income per capita. Not the same thing at all.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 22, 2011 @ 8:17 am

  122. @QTR, You won’t get much quarrel from me on many of the finer points of analysis of Popper. On scientific realism, I’m agnostic. On induction, I think the problem is insoluble, that deductive grounds for inductive reasoning can’t be found, and we like both kinds of reasoning for reasons that are most likely inbuilt as basic survival mechanisms. Induction more than deduction, for that. On demarcation, Popper is too harsh. On method, his description is simplistic.

    It was, however, a new way of looking at things, which has been very influential in thought on the topic.

    >According to the demarcation theory, therefore, mathematics is not a science. But physics is inseparable from mathematics. Quantum mechanics, for example, could hardly be expressed without it. So physics cannot be a science either. Much the same could be said about logic. The Law of Contradiction, etc, cannot be refuted, so logic is not a science.

    Nah, that’s just not understanding Popper. Yes, he would have said maths and logic are not sciences. That does not make their presence in other fields suddenly cause those to be unscientific any more than the English language being unscientific does that. Physics is still a science, despite being deeply mathematical, because theories in it can be refuted by observation of the physical world, in experiments. In maths, this is not so – maths is self-consistent whether or not there is gravity. It could be used to model gravity, but finding the model to fail tests does not invalidate mathematics, it just invalidates that model (which Popper would call a hypothesis). 1+1=2 is true in all possible worlds.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 22, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  123. You’ve mixed up GDP per capita with income per capita. Not the same thing at all.

    GDP is the income of a country

    Comment by Phil — December 22, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  124. But the income of a country divided by the number of people in the country is not the same as the average per capita income of the people in that country. For instance, in 2010 NZ’s GDP per capita was $42,438 … while the median income was $27,508. The latter figure is, I would suggest, more relevant in terms of how much individual people can pay for healthcare … which was the point under discussion.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 22, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  125. On rare occasions comments will confirm the veracity of a post title.

    Comment by ak — December 22, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  126. Anyone want to explain why sorting out housing affordability is far right? And before anyone mentions increasing incomes, well, housing affordability didn’t worsen due to decreasing incomes did it?

    I think the point DPF was making was that the govt needs to actually do something, instead of just holding the line for a few years

    Comment by Swan — December 23, 2011 @ 6:33 am

  127. I guess our host has faded away on holiday?

    Housing affordability can be improved by lowering standards/introducing classes (like, how about having a bronze standard that doesn’t specify doubl-glazing, for e.g.), increasing the amount of land on which to build, increasing the number of dwelling that can be squeezed onto one plot, etc.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 23, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  128. But the income of a country divided by the number of people in the country is not the same as the average per capita income

    Yes it is. See What Is the Meaning of Per Capita Income?

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — December 23, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

  129. Depends if you take average to mean mean or median. A country of 100 people where 10 have an income of $1 million and 90 earn $10,000 would have a mean average per capita income of $109,000 … even though no-one actually earns that amount, and it grossly overstates the real-world incomes of the vast majority of the population. Which is why GDP/head of population isn’t a very good way of looking at what people could afford by way of healthcare (if they had to pay for it themselves). Which was the point at issue.

    Comment by Grassed Up — December 23, 2011 @ 4:44 pm

  130. I am surprised to learn that the only abolition of slavery to ever take place involved cotton production in the American South and followed a civil war.

    Comment by Jake — December 24, 2011 @ 2:42 am

  131. Governments lack the incentives of market providers to control costs, meet the needs of clients, and keep track of what the competition is doing in order to maintain profitability. Failure to manage these matters in the private sector leads to losses and, ultimately, insolvency.

    Governmental bureaucracies, on the other hand, are prone to waste and graft and only have political edicts as incentive to be efficient. The operators of socialized agencies only have their superiors’ requirements to meet, not the consumers’, and never have to be concerned with competition, making a profit, or performing under budget, all in the face of insolvency.

    In short, because the revenue of bureaucracy is a matter of political allocation rather than customer allocation the incentives simply do not exist for government providers to perform nearly as efficiently and successfully as market providers…

    Comment by James — December 24, 2011 @ 3:22 am

  132. “Governments lack the incentives of market providers to control costs, meet the needs of clients, and keep track of what the competition is doing…”

    That’s simply a false statement. You see, in NZ we have these things every three years called elections. What happens is…, oh never mind, hail the mighty Cougar and compliments of the season!

    Comment by Guy Smiley — December 24, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  133. Guy, you’re a tool.

    Comment by will — December 24, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  134. That’s way better than your usual efforts, will. Good for you.

    Comment by Guy Smiley — December 24, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  135. “You see, in NZ we have these things every three years called elections. ”
    And net outward migration.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 28, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  136. CF: “And net outward migration.”

    True that. See http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/Migration/IntTravelAndMigration_HOTPNov11/Commentary.aspx

    “New Zealand’s net loss of migrants in the November 2011 year was due to a net loss of 35,800 people to Australia. This is the highest-ever recorded net loss to Australia, surpassing the previous high of 35,400 people in the December 2008 year. The November 2011 year figure resulted from 50,100 departures to Australia, offset by 14,400 arrivals from Australia. In both directions, most migrants were New Zealand citizens.”

    Of course, two questions then arise.

    (1) what happened to this: http://www.nbr.co.nz/comment/hazel-phillips/national-fires-first-ad-missile

    (2) Why are so many New Zealanders fleeing to a country that has considerably more state intervention in the economy than New Zealand does: http://gcr.weforum.org/gcr2011/

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — December 28, 2011 @ 10:11 am

  137. Good question (2), AG. After spending some time looking at the pillars that make up the Global Competitive Report, I see all the following, where NZ does AOK in most pillars. But without finding the weightings given to the groups… (I see market size counts, what a surprise that we score poorly)

    The numbers are “scores” which are then aggregated. I haven’t quite found how yet. For example we are told that the:
    Basic Requirements index pillars 1 to 4 “forms 65% of final score for stage 1 countries like Burundi, 20% for a stage 3 country like Norway” (and presumably Aus, NZ, UK & US?) but nothing more for the other indices.
    1st pillar – institutions 25%
    NZ 5.98
    Aus 5.39
    UK 5.34
    US 4.64

    2nd pillar – Infrastructure 25%
    UK 6.09
    US 5.68
    Aus 5.43
    NZ 4.97 (marked down on roads & rail, quality of electrical supply, ports meh, but air transport good)

    3rd Macroeconomic environment 25%
    Aus 5.62
    NZ 5.07 (we are actually scored shitty, but just not as shitty as some…)
    UK 4.54
    US 4.49

    4th Health & Primary Education 25%
    NZ 6.61
    Aus 6.51
    UK 6.42
    US 6.05

    Efficiency Enhancers pillars 5 to 10 weight ????
    5th Higher Ed & Training 17%
    Aus 5.62
    US 5.57
    NZ 5.53
    UK 5.47

    6th Goods Market efficiency 17%
    NZ 5.18
    UK 4.97
    Aus 4.84
    US 4.80

    7th Labour market efficiency 17%
    US 5.57
    UK 5.36
    NZ 5.11
    Aus 5.04

    8th Financial Market development 17%
    Aus 5.38
    NZ 5.21
    UK 4.94
    US 4.87

    9th Technological Readiness 17%
    UK 6.08
    US 5.23
    Aus 5.11
    NZ 5.10

    10th Market Size 17%
    US 6.92
    UK 5.77
    Aus 5.10
    NZ 3.80

    INNOVATION AND SOPHISTICATION FACTORS pillar 11 & 12 weight ??????
    11th Business sophistication 50%
    UK 5.41
    US 5.35
    Aus 4.67
    NZ 4.62

    12th Innovation 50%
    US 5.57
    UK 4.94
    Aus 4.48
    NZ 4.05

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 28, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  138. @CF: The discussion was sparked by James’ claim that markets always work better than Government run institutions, responded to by Guy pointing out that elections impose discipline on political actors, to which you added that outward migration also represents an implicit judgment on Government performance. I then pointed out that the outward migration from New Zealand primarily is to a place that has MORE government intervention in the market than does NZ.

    As such, the relevant scores from the report I linked to are under the “Government inefficiency” heading – where Australia ranks 26th, and NZ ranks 7th … with respective rankings for Wastefulness of Government Spending of 31 and 24, and for Burden of Government Regulation of 75 and 20.

    So – whatever else can be mined from the reports, and whatever other reasons people have for leaving NZ for Oz, I think any claim that net outward migration from this country represents a negative judgment on the extent of the government’s role in the marketplace is poorly supported by the evidence.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — December 29, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  139. Hi AG, thanks for clarifying that.
    “I think any claim that net outward migration from this country represents a negative judgment on the extent of the government’s role in the marketplace is poorly supported by the evidence.”
    Agree… kinda. I think people DO think teh gummint has something to do with our lagging Australia, after all, the current lot says they are going to close the gap.
    My point, which I’ve argued with people in the past (mostly face to face) was that we don’t do so bad in most areas, but we are “hamstrung” by one of the things that we actually value: domestic market size. This is obvious, and is supported by our ‘score”. I guess the current crowd could open the flood gates on immegration and “fix” the problem. Mind you, listening to every second Joe Blogs interviewed in the street on radio and television about issue dejour and hearing a british accent of some sort, I’m not sure it hasn’t already happened.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 31, 2011 @ 1:28 pm

  140. “after all, the current lot says they are going to close the gap.”
    Clarification needed: after many years of all sorts of govts saying they can fix things, people now believe them. Just look at National and closing-the-gap and Obama (and Bush, Brown etal) with his stimulus spending. The gardener can tidy the garden and keep parasites at bay, but the plants grow themselves.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 31, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  141. Which is why GDP/head of population isn’t a very good way of looking at what people could afford by way of healthcare (if they had to pay for it themselves). Which was the point at issue.

    Grassed Up – It maybe more relevant, but what you originally cited was per capita income and per capita is per capita not median. The numbers you gave for per capita income were incorrect. They may or may not be correct for median income I don’t because you haven’t provided any sources.

    Ben Wilson, Sheesh – Slavery was directly perpetuated and enforced by states. See for instance fugitive slave laws. In Brazil, for example slavery was effectively ended when the state stopped enforcing runaway slave laws.

    From http://www.capsprings.com/History/History2.aspx

    A short time before being granted their freedom by the government, slaves literally began walking off plantations in mass numbers. Recognizing the threat to their livelihood owners began granting slaves their freedom and offering wages, though meager, if they agreed to return to work. In many ways, this was really the end of slavery in Brazil. The system just stopped working.

    Comment by Quoth the Raven — January 1, 2012 @ 5:35 pm


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