Why I’m voting Civilian

I don’t like to talk politics, and I don’t like to “pick” parties.  I don’t like the arguments that cause more heat than light, and I genuinely think that the vast majority of the people in parliament are good people – so the attacks on these people that occur just upset me.

Last Friday when I wrote this I was on the fence between National or Labour – and after I’d picked one I was going to decide whether I’d vote for the party, or a support party (the Greens or the Maori party were my picks).  I had found this election hard to make a pick on, but I’d generally preferred the policy costings and transparency compared to other times, so I was feeling good.

What was missing from the post I wrote last Friday was a section I deleted at the end (a point 11).  This point said that any information about the undermining of New Zealand institutions, such as through TPPA agreement details being made public, dwarves the issues I have discussed in terms of voting importance for me.  In this section I had written that I only left this to the end, as I had sufficient trust in New Zealand political institutions that I don’t expect this to turn into an important issue.

Now we have the recent discussion of Project Speargun, adding to the long process of New Zealand integrating itself into a global data connection network – a process that has been going strong as part of a war on terror that has included both Labour and National governments.  With obfuscation always part of the discussion around these types of issues, it has also become more likely we’ll see the same sort of lack of clarity around the TPPA in NZ – irrespective of the party that is in power.

It is with this sort of disenfranchisement that I initially recommended having a protest vote party – such as the Civilian Party – exist for.  As a result, for consistency sake I will likely vote for them on Saturday (the first time I haven’t voted early in my life as I wait for information).  Let me discuss.

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Discussion Tuesday

Today just a quote from someone I was talking to:

I used to think I hated just economists due to their arrogance, the arrogance of knowing about the social and economic world.  It turns out I hate everyone as, as everyone seems to believe they know how the world works and how to fix it.

It is a general sentiment (around knowledge) that I agree with – although the hatred is unnecessary.  In truth, my view is that it is undue confidence about our own folk model of the economy/society is part of human nature – accepting we know a lot less, and trying to make our statements around policy transparent and testable, would be neat things.  In my view this is what good “economics” involves.

Discussion Tuesday

Let us fully outsource this one to twitter!

Given my Garmin watch which syncs to Strava and Runtastic, and my Fitbit pedometer that sits on the other arm – and the fact that I connect these to MyFitnessPal where I log my food via my cellphone, I sort of see where he is coming from.  I love my shiny online badges.  Furthermore, I believe there is a term for this type of behavioural effect (which acts both as incentive and a form of precommitment depending on its design) – gamification.

What econs do

Recently on twitter I decided to write a bunch of acronyms.  In my defence I noted:

Now a couple of points were left unsaid here.  What is the other 65% and how did I get my data.

The other 65% falls into three categories.  15% is made up of using esoteric terms to describe often obvious social phenomenon.  Another 10% is made up of using metaphors as a way of communicating these esoteric terms.  And the final 40% is mentioning data points.

The data set used to decompose what economists do into these categories is an unbalanced panel from the last 7 years.  Given selection bias in my sample and the fuzziness of quantifying what fits into certain categories I used a bit of calibration (to fit the data to known population parameters), smoothing, hedonic adjustment, and judgement to adjust the data.

In other terms I made it up.

Proper posts will be back soon – I have been working on posts about NZ election policies.  They won’t be that detailed, but hopefully they will be of interest.


I have just accidentally purchased 6 books on methodology, mostly economics but one from sociology and one general philosophy of science book.  As I’m supposed to be estimating a whole lot of things at the moment, this combined with these new books may leave me a little quiet …

Hopefully I can get up from my slumber to write about the election during the weekend (and have the posts go up over the week).  But if it doesn’t happen, here is the excuse.  I’m time inconsistent and my best precommitment mechanism was to not buy the books – and it failed me.

Note:  One of the books appears to be premised on the idea that economics is returning to sociology, and that eventually they’ll combined into the same discipline (called sociology).  This isn’t the sociology book – this is one of the philosophy of economics books which I purchased under a bundle of “economic methodology books”.  I will report back once I’ve read it – there is a different one I want to read first, to see if it is a better introductory book than a few others I already own (specifically this fellow I learnt from – with a pdf version appearing here it seems).

I love introductory books, even in areas where I have read a bit of the literature, as the people who can communicate the ideas most clearly are often those that understand it most deeply.  Not always, but often.