The language of economics often treats people as commodities: the phrases “representative agent” and “human capital” are examples of this. Sometimes these phrases are useful abstractions, but they also contribute to the sometimes pernicious indifference of mainstream economics to issues of justice. Piketty’s take on human capital might make us a little less indifferent.
I was chatting about some policy recently with another economist, when they came out with this great line about how some policy was being reported (overseas):
Every political editor loves it and all the economics editors are unimpressed.
What does this mean? What does this imply about politics and economics? I’ll leave it up to you to discuss that – I’ll just giggle
One thing I keep hearing, repeatedly, about a centre-Green party is that it doesn’t make sense because it involves hating people. I hear the same thing about anything people don’t agree with, repeatedly. Emails, phone calls, on twitter – for some reason people want to tell me how much other people hate people, and so they hate people or me or something. I don’t know, whenever I hear blind hate it never makes much sense to me – but certain comments have pushed me into a rant. It is a blog, these things happen sometimes, sorry.
The short version of my post is that the people saying this are disrespectful individuals who have no respect for other people and the difficulty of issues of social justice. But if you want the full rant click below (and it is a furious rant with more colourful language). For those who dislike rants (as do I), you could read this old post where I lay out a neat discussion of why social justice issues are core to all parts of the political spectrum, the focuses on “types” of injustice is what differs.
Hey all. Instead of writing about anything you might be interested in, I’m going to use this forum to ask for donations for the living below the line challenge next week – with the funds going to Aoteraroa Development Cooperative. The justification I’ve been using when asking people is below.
I just received an email reminding me I’m doing the Living Below the Line thing this week, where I just have to spend less than $2.25 per day on food next week – and so I need to fund-raise.
The charity my funds are being donated too is Aotearoa Development Cooperative, which is a small microfinance bank that has been set up in Myanmar. If you want to support them by giving me money here, that would be pretty cool.
If anyone is up to giving a couple of dollars to a good cause that would be choice.
Via our friend @robbidigi we were pointed to this article by Justin Wolfers in the NY Times, which has this fantastic graph. More generally, this graph is from the IGM Economic Experts panel, which carries out surveys like this all the time. Worth checking out if are you interested in what economists think on topical issues, which is probably nobody except other economists:)
Duncan Garner is a bit of a stirrer, but he pulled out some interesting numbers in his article yesterday arguing the Greens should move to the centre:
The Greens talk poverty and social justice, but the poor aren’t listening – and they’re certainly not voting for them. Look at these telling statistics from the poorest electorates in the country:
In Manurewa, in the crucial party vote, just 868 people voted for the Greens; in Manukau, East it was just 744; in Mangere, it was just 865.
Now look at the two most wealthy suburbs in NZ:
In Epsom, the Greens got 3415 votes; in Wellington Central, they got 8627 party votes, more than Labour’s 7351; in Auckland Central the Greens got 4584 votes, compared to Labour’s 4758.
I would really want to see some more numbers around this, but if this is a general trend, then it would suggest either:
- The Greens’ support is from the relatively well-off who care about the poor, rather than the poor themselves; or
- People who care about the environment tend to be relatively well-off.
Now I’m sure the make up of the Green support base isn’t that stark. But in the context of our discussion (e.g here, & here) about a centrist Green party, if the Greens moved to the centre they would likely lose group 1 but keep group 2.
The interesting question therefore is what proportion of their support base falls into both camps (i.e. care about social justice and the environment) and what weighting they place on both issues. This then follows on to the question of what is the untapped support base of people who care about the environment but generally vote National?