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Dave Timoney
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"Perhaps Putin won't react as we would wish him to in the case we continue as we are..." One of the aims of military strategy is to limit your opponent's room for manoeuvre, which serves both to make his actions more predictable and reduces to risks to yourself. We obviously can't know what mad shit Putin will pull next (few predicted the full invasion of Ukraine), but creating a no-fly zone would expand his room for manoeuvre (giving him more targets) and increase NATO's risks hugely (a full-scale conflict) without necessarily bringing significant benefits (Russia's current advance is not dependent on air cover). It therefore make sense to continue as we are, at least for now.
Toggle Commented Mar 2, 2022 on The same old mistakes at Stumbling and Mumbling
@ltr, Re "“anything we can actually do, we can afford” ... but the entire Conservative project is based on denying this and the current Labour leadership has been unable to respond." I think you'll find that the Labour leadership's problem is not that it is unable to respond but that it chooses not to because it shares the same limiting belief. In other words, strategic impotence.
Toggle Commented Feb 6, 2022 on Strategic impotence at Stumbling and Mumbling
As Hemmingway noted, "How did you go bankrupt? Two ways: Gradually, then suddenly."
@Blissex, re: «In one sense, house prices are like share prices. Both are claims upon future incomes». This is correct. House prices ultimately reflect the ability to service a mortgage, which means they must reflect future incomes. Two reasons why house prices have risen are: a) the relative fall in the cost of other necessities since the 1960s (food, clothing); and b) mortgage terms (i.e. durations) have gradually grown. In the 60s, you'd get a mortgage at 25/30 (& start a family), pay it off at 50/55 (& fund your kids' weddings/deposits), retire at 65 & then die. Today, if you can afford to get on the property ladder in your 20s, you'll be willing to commit to a 40 year term. If you get on later, say in your 30s, you'll be able to afford higher repayments for 25 years because your starting income will likely be higher. The relative drift of spending from consumables, like food and clothing, to fixed assets is arguably the great secular shift of the last century. Despite the prominence of consumerism, and even the contemporary vogue for intangibles like "experiences", the reality is that we're locking our wealth into tangibles that reflect frozen future (as much as dead past) labour.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2021 on The house price puzzle at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Njamescouk, re: "if the price of your home goes up, you will not be able to spend more on other things if you wish to carry on living in your home." What this means is that a nominal rise in your property's value doesn't give you any more disposable income unless you decide to sell the property.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2021 on The house price puzzle at Stumbling and Mumbling
My one quibble with this is that it assumes that in "adapting to new times" Blair & Brown were addressing the world as it was in the mid-90s, but in reality they were in thrall to a vision rooted in the mid-80s. Many of their achievements were in reality the continuation of Tory policy (e.g. the Good Friday Agreement). The expansion of universities was less about addressing wage inequality than an acknowledgment of the shift from manufacturing to services; tax credits were simply a rebranding of the welfare subsidies that had ballooned under Thatcher; and BoE independence & fiscal rules were the culmination of a policy debate launched in the late-70s. What was new about New Labour was largely to do with its internal party management and external media presentation (marginalising the left, weakening the union link, cultivating rich donors), much of which was a performative repeat of battles already fought and won under Kinnock. Had New Labour really been addressing the new times of the mid-to-late 90s then it might not have had such a blindspot for housing, for financial regulation (it learnt little from Black Wednesday & was mugged over PFI), and might have moved on from the naive end-of-history delusions that informed its foreign policy.
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2021 on Embracing Blair's legacy at Stumbling and Mumbling
Cummings seems not to appreciate that there is a structural bias against rapid error-correction in a democracy (it took 41 years to reverse the decision to join the EEC). Or maybe he does but is trying to suppress his epistocratic & authoritarian instincts for public consumption.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2021 on Cummings on complexity at Stumbling and Mumbling
One question this raises is whether professions have become more deforming over time. As they become more specialised and exclusive, under the structural imperatives of capitalism, is cognitive diversity inevitably narrowed? Is this then an argument for generalists in politics?
@dilbert/Jim, The trick of the question is to get you to imagine a 3-dimesional, not quite perfect sphere. The trick of the answer is to reduce it to a 2-dimensional circle whose radius is irrelevant. So, using the well-known formula for calculating a circumference ... (2π(r+1)) - (2πr) This reduces to: 2π1, or 2 x 3.1415 = 6.283 metres. It's always best with such puzzles to start by asking: what is misleading or irrelevant in the question? That's the same principle that can be applied to issues such as immigration and fiscal management.
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2021 on On economic intuitions at Stumbling and Mumbling
The one element you don't directly mention is property, specifically domestic housing, but surely this has the greatest potential to undermine Biden's initiative by diverting increased wages into non-productive assets?
I'd add that the CPS is an institution that is particularly unsuited to developing the skills necessary for a politician - far more so than a typical commercial organisation - having a relatively small, secretive core that relies on highly prescriptive operating procedures to corral sub-contractors (lawyers). Starmer's performance has reflected this, with poor planning and communications, and a knee-jerk authoritarianism, particularly in his dealings with constituency parties.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2021 on Starmer, skill and luck at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Blissex, I think Chris already addressed your point. People aren't necessarily one or the other: they can own capital (i.e. property) as well as earn income through labour, and this is increasingly the norm at high levels of wealth (see Branko Milanovic on homoploutia).
Toggle Commented May 11, 2021 on Class at Stumbling and Mumbling
I have a problem with: "One reason for the generational divide over Brexit is that older folk who came to maturity before we joined the EU have the impression that we can do well outside the EU". The overriding "impression" of the era before 1973 was that we weren't doing very well at all & consequently needed the benefit of the the Common Market. In terms of votes in the 1975 referendum, the young (today's old) were more pro-EEC than the (then) old. I think the Brexit vote in 2016 is better explained by changes in sentiment after 1979 than by the persistence of opinions formed before that date.
Toggle Commented Apr 16, 2021 on On generational difference at Stumbling and Mumbling
"Many on the left have been perplexed by the fact that whilst most Labour economic policies in 2019 were popular on their own, in totality they were not." I don't think this is correct. Most voters were unaware of the totality of Labour's offer (only a tiny minority will have read the manifesto and they will have been predisposed to like it). What mattered were a few emblematic proposals that the media chose to misrepresent and amplify: "broadband communism", "nationalised sausages" etc. In other words, this was more an example of negativity bias, i.e. "give a dog a bad name and hang him". You're quite right to note that a structural factor in the media's bias is the lack of a sociological imagination, which causes editors to underplay the impact of individual incidents of prejudice, but as well as that absence there is also a presence: a parisan desire to embellish or inflate specific incidents as part of a deliberate campaign of misinformation.
Toggle Commented Mar 11, 2021 on On Hans in Luck effects at Stumbling and Mumbling
Starmer's speech didn't merely omit to mention productivity, it focused on solutions that would likely further depress it. Governments have consistently encouraged SME growth since the 1980s but this has not helped. The obvious reason is that SMEs in aggregate tend to have below average productivity. Ceteris paribus, expanding the small business sector depresses total productivity and thus wages. What we need are more large businesses that, through higher wages and subcontracting, create the demand for an expansion of SMEs. The proposed bond also has the potential to further entrench rentierism at the ideological level. If the state wishes to mop up domestic savings to fund infrastructure investment then it can either borrow or tax. It's high-time we redressed the under-taxation of capital in the form of property, gains and dividends.
@Tim, it's quite possible that the aggregate value of "digital free goods" isn't being properly accounted for in GDP figures, but it doesn't follow that this means productivity is higher than reported. What social media in the workplace (like email before it) allows is the offsetting of improved comms by time-wasting. A task that would once take half a day can be done in minutes, but you then use the gained time to chat with your mates. The point of desktop IT, compared to the power loom, is that the rhythm of work is really set by the worker, & only loosely by the employer. Why do the latter allow this? Because they couldn't attract staff otherwise & they would rather provide free time than better wages. As for WhatsApp, the slow integration of it with Facebook, which does carry ads, indicates that it was originally bought as an address book: it's the contacts & networks that matter, & they will be monetised.
Toggle Commented Jan 9, 2021 on On fantasy politics at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Ralph, if you Google the word "ghost" you'll find a large variety of people and organisations that claim ghosts exist.
Toggle Commented Jan 9, 2021 on On fantasy politics at Stumbling and Mumbling
"What all this amounts to is a different way of doing politics. It sets the agenda. It says: our focus is upon real, material living standards, and we must resist distractions from this." "NZ is an island far away from anywhere, and they've turned it into a penal colony." Lol.
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2020 on Our priorities at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Jim, the "culture war" is not being fought on campuses or in schools. It is being fought in the pages of rightwing newspapers and on compliant TV programmes that take their lead from the press. You might also have noticed that the media disproportionately feature rightwing academics, such as Nigel Biggar or Matthew Goodwin, in support of their belief that universities are intolerant or the working class socially conservative. It's a scam.
One of the features of the last 40 years has been the way that progressive causes were advanced by adopting contemporary conservative arguments about personal freedom & market choice, notably in respect of feminism (the right to a career & "having it all") & gay liberation (same-sex marriage & the pink pound). In other words, the culture war has largely been fought by the well-to-do rightist middle class in opposition to the well-to-do rightist middle class. The idea that the culture war centrally involves either the working class or the left as a protagonist is a myth.
I wonder him much of this is folk-memory (i.e. exaggerated in the retelling) of the financial repression (due to high inflation) of the 1970s? Obviously, this would be ironic, given the current circumstances.
The hysteria displayed by the press towards new media is all the evidence you need that it has significantly expanded "freedom of expression". However, while the press in its traditional form may well wither away, there will clearly be an attempt to constrain new media & recreate those structural conditions congenial to the rich. Ultimately, the solution has to address ownership - i.e. prevent other right-wing billionaires from buying up Murdoch's papers but also prevent them dominating new media, as Zuckerberg has. There was a recent article in the Guardian written by software (it wasn't that impressive), in which the twist in the tale was that it was only presentable due to the work of editors. Rather than replacing journalists with AI, what we might benefit from is replacing editors with citizens juries (yes, there are practical difficulties, but bear with me), thereby breaking the influence of owners.
Toggle Commented Sep 10, 2020 on On press freedom at Stumbling and Mumbling
Perhaps all this reveals is that the Tories are fundamentally more conservative than capitalist.
Toggle Commented Sep 2, 2020 on On Marxist Tories at Stumbling and Mumbling
Ironically, given all the guff talked more generally about inscrutable AI, the problem with this particular algorithm is that it was utterly transparent, making the reality of the social relations clear to even a child.
Toggle Commented Aug 18, 2020 on Algorithms & reification at Stumbling and Mumbling
@Blissex, My point is not that the right reject the material altogether but that they approach it in an unempirical way (and this, as I read it, is also Chris's central point). For example, BtL landlords should be in favour of immigration as that increases demand, but many right-leaning ones are not. Wanting to have your cake and eat it is evidence of an unempirical approach to politics (and it's no coincidence that this is the very metaphor employed by Johnson re Brexit). One way this cognitive dissonance at the level of the material is resolved is through metaphysical concepts, such as sovereignty, that are held to be supra-political. I was using "fictitious capital" in the sense defined by Marx: paper claims to wealth that aren't grounded in productive capacity. A materialist would view them as highly speculative and therefore risky (as time has proved). A BtL materialist would recognise that their rent was ultimately determined by the productive economy, and so would be as interested in infrastructure investment as tax cuts.