The General Elections of 1950 and 1951: part one

RGS History

These elections mattered, overturning Labour’s landslide victory of 1945 and ushering in 13 years of Conservative government. To understand why this happened, we first need to understand exactly what happened. The devil is very much in the detail. Let’s begin with the 1945 landslide (click on the link to view the result in full).


And with the electoral map of the same result.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 10.34.37

There are perhaps two points to note about the 1945 result. The first is that the Conservative vote was not wiped out: the gap between Labour and the Conservatives was enough to give Labour a landslide, but the Tories still polled just shy of 40% of the popular vote. The second is the fact that Liberals polled 9%.

The 1950 result saw Labour’s landslide majority all but wiped out (again, click on the link).


In the first place, on a record 84% turnout, we can see both Labour…

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Media outlets by the ideological composition of their audiences

Are government regulators more virtuous than everyone else?

Mostly Economics

I just posted on how BCCI despite being an independent body became badly mismanaged to become this hotbed of corruption. One suggestion to fix BCCI which keeps doing rounds is to make it a government body. The govt appoint the Board, Top Management and so on and let its functioning be broadly independent. But looking at how  messed up other Indian government appointed sports bodies are, one knows this cannot be the solution really.  We have not really given a lot of thought to the organisation of institutions.

This article also relooks at this idea of whether government regulators in the economic space. It ctiticises the recent book of Shiller and Akerlof:

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@NZGreens gain the most from an independent costings unit @JulieAnneGenter

I am sure there will be lots of squabbling over parameters and assumptions of any tax, spending or regulation proposal submitted to the independent costings unit proposed recently by the New Zealand Greens.

The bigger problem is static and dynamic scoring. There is some history of doing this for taxes but little for spending and that is before you consider externalities. Imagine the squabbling over roading proposals and their externalities. The practical hurdles to dynamic scoring are:

  • Economists do not know how to accurately measure the growth effects of most policies
  • Dynamic scoring relies on less-than-accurate, theory-based macro models
  • The macro models undergirding dynamic scoring have numerous controversial and unproven built-in assumptions
  • The assumptions embedded in the macro models are not always carefully empirically based
  • Macro models exclude theoretically and empirically supported evidence of supply-side effects of public investment
  • Macro models exclude evidence-based effects of economic inequality
  • Macro models exclude evidence-based effects of numerous policies
  • Macro models provide different estimates of growth impacts of policy depending on guesses of how the policy may be finance

Against that is dynamic scoring removes the bias against pro-growth policies in current budgetary scoring:

[A] theoretical advantage of accurate dynamic scoring is that it is not biased against pro-growth policies compared to the current conventional scoring method. By ignoring macroeconomic effects, the conventional method overstates the true budgetary cost of pro-growth policies, such as infrastructure investments, and understates the cost of anti-growth policies.

The bigger problem is something I learnt when costing a tax proposal for an election campaign. There was an error because I did the costing on a spreadsheet while I had a bad head cold.

The advantage of the error was the policy, as a result of this minor error in the tabulations attracted considerable attention from the major parties.

I was advised by a very wise head that this tabulation error in the dynamic scoring was not so bad a problem. This was because the tabulation error gave our side a chance to have a go at them again in the media. The policy announcement stayed in the new cycles for longer than otherwise and attracted attention from the big parties.

If a policy is too good, too perfect, the other parties will kill it with silence. You get only one bite in the news cycle and that is it.

If your policy announcement is killed by silence, at least you are guaranteed a chance to go at it again when the proposed independent costings unit a week or so later in the election campaign. You might disagree of those costings just to attract attention in the next new cycle.

Given the size, ambition and nebulous externality content of Green party proposals, they will benefit considerably from getting another go by questioning the Parliamentary budget office costings. That guarantees at least two new cycles to every one of their budgetary and regulatory announcements. No wonder they have proposed this independent costings unit.

If the New Zealand Greens do not like the costing from their proposed independent costings unit, they can just rage against neoliberalism and the conservative bias of economists. They cannot lose in terms of another bite of the 24-hour news cycle.

As a starter to feigning disagreement with any independent costings of their tax, spending and regulation proposals, Milton Friedman argued that people agree on most social objectives, but they differ often on the predicted outcomes of different policies and institutions. This leads us to Robert and Zeckhauser’s taxonomy of disagreement:

Positive disagreements can be over questions of:
1. Scope: what elements of the world one is trying to understand?
2. Model: what mechanisms explain the behaviour of the world?
3. Estimate: what estimates of the model’s parameters are thought to obtain in particular contexts?

Values disagreements can be over questions of:
1. Standing: who counts?
2. Criteria: what counts?
3. Weights: how much different individuals and criteria count?

Any positive analysis tends to include elements of scope, model, and estimation, though often these elements intertwine; they frequently feature in debates in an implicit or undifferentiated manner. Likewise, normative analysis will also include elements of standing, criteria, and weights, whether or not these distinctions are recognised. There is a rich harvest for nit-picking to keep the story going.

Welfare state targeting across the OECD

January ’16 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking

I have dropped down to 13 in the New Zealand rankings

Open Parachute

Blog-Post-Checklist (1)

Image credit: 29-Point Blog Post Checklist: How to Seduce Your Readers to Buy

There are about 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake or get your stats wrong).

Every month I get queries from people wanting their own blog included. I encourage and am happy to respond to queries but have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) people can check out. Have a look at NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This is particularly helpful to those wondering how to set up sitemeters. Please note, the system is automatic and relies on blogs having sitemeters which allow public access to the stats.

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for January 2016. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have listed the…

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But who would be elected president of Australia?

The principal argument against the republic is it results in a president as the head of state.

In the last Republican debate in 1999, the Republican movement split between those who wanted an appointed president and an elected president.

An elected president would quickly get ideas above his station because of the popular mandate. Imagine Dick Smith as president.

It would be a good pub quiz game to list the people would be wholly unsuited as president but would be likely to be elected. Boring people such as those who currently occupy the position such as judges and retired military would not have much of a chance of being elected.

The Irish president, for example, is elected but is completely circumscribed in powers. The only power they have to exercise independently is whether to dissolve parliament after a motion of no confidence.

Violating the norms and ethos of science

Climate Etc.

by Judith Curry

Don’t let transparency damage science.  – Stephan Lewandowsky & Dorothy Bishop

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Why @NZLabour @Maori_Party should be tough on crime

A good mate at University was a democratic socialist. After graduating in law, he joined the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is still there as a senior counsel. That is the new name for a Queens Counsel in Tasmania.

The reason he gave for his career choice, he was a top-notch graduate with a great career ahead of him, was the poor were mostly the victims of crime. The best he could do for them was to put those that victimised them in prison by being a public prosecutor. As William Julius Wilson explains:

As Leon Neyfakh points out, some people are reluctant to talk about the high murder rate in cities like Milwaukee because
(1) it might distract attention from the vital discussions about police violence against blacks, and
(2) it runs the risk of providing ammunition to those who resist criminal justice reform efforts regarding policing and sentencing policy.

These are legitimate concerns, of course. On the other hand, it is vital to draw more attention to the low priority placed on solving the high murder rates in poor inner-city neighbourhoods, reflected in the woefully inadequate resources provided to homicide detectives struggling to solve killings in those areas. As Jill Leovy, a writer at Los Angeles Times asserts in her 2014 book Ghettosidethis represents one of the great moral failings of our criminal justice system and indeed of our whole society. The thousands of poor grieving African American families whose loved ones have been killed tend to be disregarded or ignored, including by the media.

The nation’s consciousness has been raised by the repeated acts of police brutality against blacks. But the problem of public space violence—seen in the extraordinary distress, trauma and pain many poor inner-city families experience following the killing of a family member or close relative—also deserves our special attention. These losses represent another social and political imperative, described to me by sociologist Loïc Wacquant in the following terms: “The Other Side of Black Lives Matter.” They do indeed.

More kittens

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