Brexit and deliberative democracy: SPECIAL ‘I TOLD YOU SO’ FRONT PAGE REPOSTING

I fantasise about the day when the people who fancy themselves the champions of liberal capitalist democracy – you know the Business Class set – will realise that they are munching through the landscape and, as Schumpeter argued – following Marx – that they were undermining the very foundations of their good fortune. Looking at Inter State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) as enshrined in various (don’t make me laugh) ‘free trade agreements’ in which those in Business Class get to make judgements on how domestic law applies to foreign investors – rather than the institutions we evolved since Magna Carta to deliver the rule of law – they’ll say to themselves “Is it really a good idea to tear all that up to make sure we can keep tobacco brands safe from democracy?”

Likewise they might be wondering, in the light of the rise of people like Donald Trump, if the increasingly toxic brew of vox pop democracy to which the relentless drive for eyeballs in media has done so much to contribute, is such a great deal. Sure enough the befuddlement and endlessly wound up state of the electorate provides a way for vested interests to survive and prosper despite periodic elections to elicit the consent of the governed. But things are getting scary, and they’re getting scary quite fast.

There are plenty of occasions in which people warn that ‘the market’ won’t be pleased with one thing or another – one ‘signal’ or another that the electorate might send. Mostly it’s hooey. But the worrier in me senses more than a grain of truth in Anatole Kaletsky’s concerns about Brexit:

If Brexit wins in a country as stable and politically phlegmatic as Britain, financial markets and businesses around the world will be shaken out of their complacency about populist insurgencies in the rest of Europe and the US. These heightened market concerns will, in turn, change economic reality. As in 2008, financial markets will amplify economic anxiety, breeding more anti-establishment anger and fueling still-higher expectations of political revolt.

The threat of such contagion means a Brexit vote could be the catalyst for another global crisis. This time, however, the workers who lose their jobs, the pensioners who lose their savings, and the homeowners who are trapped in negative equity will not be able to blame “the bankers.” Those who vote for populist upheavals will have no one but themselves to blame when their revolutions go wrong.

Of course they may have no-one to blame but themselves, but something tells me they won’t be blaming themselves.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Self-interest, altruism and shared intentionality: a quick note and stake in the ground

To a substantial extent the ‘left/right’ divide is characterised by a common way of seeing the world in which there’s self-interest and its opposite – altruism. But I think that impoverishes the debate. I think there’s a third category far more important than ‘altruism’.

To generalise or propose ‘ideal types’ I think it’s fair to say that while both right and left think both categories exist and are important, the right think that self-interest is the real engine room of life, and that altruism is a much weaker force, and not something one would want to rely on. In the words of right wing Labor man, Jack Lang and his one time acolyte Paul Keating “Always back a horse called ‘self interest’. At least you know it’s trying.”

Or as Adam Smith put it, beneficence is an ornament. As he wrote regarding justice:

It is the ornament which embellishes, not the foundation which supports the building, and which it was, therefore, sufficient to recommend, but by no means necessary to impose.

The left think that the world is unfair – which it pretty obviously is against any reasonable abstract definition of fairness – and that therefore a core role of collective institutions is to use coercion to realise at least some of our altruistic intuitions – to make the world fairer.

To reduce the thing to its irreducible essence, I think it might be better to say that both the left and right share that last proposition – that collective institutions realise various altruistic intuitions but that the right are more likely to regard such things as artificial and/or fragile, and this limits their enthusiasm for collective action, and their suspicion that it’s likely always being eaten away at by people ‘gaming’ the system in their own self-interest.

Where the left might pursue more redistribution via the state, the right might question the justice of this, but their strongest case is surely regarding the wisdom of it. As our institutions must impose things against self-interest – as they go against our selfish grain – they’re pitting an ornament (altruism or beneficence) against more visceral and perseverant forces – of self-interest. And as the effort mounts, more and more people will seek to evade and undermine the collective institutions. Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Political theory, Public and Private Goods | 7 Comments

Incentives for creativity

Sanjiv Erat1, Uri Gneezy1

We investigate whether piece-rate and competitive incentives affect creativity, and if so, how the incentive effect depends on the form of the incentives. We find that while both piece-rate and competitive incentives lead to greater effort relative to a base-line with no incentives, neither type of incentives improve creativity relative to the base-line. More interestingly, we find that competitive incentives are in fact counter-productive in that they reduce creativity relative to baseline condition. In line with previous literature, we find that competitive conditions affect men and women differently: whereas women perform worse under competition than the base-line condition, men do not.

Exp Econ (2016) 19:269–280

Posted in Economics and public policy, Innovation | 1 Comment

Adverse Action Lawyer wanted in Frijters versus UQ case

I am seeking a lawyer to run an Adverse Action case connected to the recent Fair Work Commission verdict that found systematic breaches of procedures and procedural fairness in the University of Queensland’s actions against me following my research on racial attitudes in Brisbane. I first raised these breaches late 2013, but they were never addressed, with lots of new ones added to them as the case dragged on. The VC of the university was also personally informed of these breaches in April 2014, publicly denying there was anything wrong about UQ’s action in February 2015. He was again informed in March 2015, consistently failing to rectify breaches of procedure brought to his attention. I wish to bring an Adverse Action case to claim back my considerable costs.

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I expect the case to be worth at least a few hundred thousand dollars in terms of damages (legal cost, value of my time, etc.), and for it to be potentially one of many others because the FW case uncovered widespread breaches of procedures in UQ’s handling of misconduct cases. So there might well be many others who are now looking to bring Adverse Action cases against UQ.

I offer a pay-for-success contract wherein the first part of any awarded damages would go to the lawyer, but after a threshold payment I want 50% to go to the successful lawyer and 50% towards Vanavil, which is a school for orphaned victims of the 2004 Tsunami flood in India. I feel that helping the poorest Indians will go some way to nullify the damage that the managers of UQ did when they suppressed evidence of adverse treatments of Indians (and Indigenous peoples) in Brisbane and made it harder to research these things in general. And I want to feel that I haven’t wasted my time these last three years on fighting mindless bureaucracies, but that my efforts ended up helping people in need.

Negotiations on the offered contract are possible. Please contact me on email if you are interested or have a good suggestion for a good adverse action lawyer ( p dot frijters AT uq dot edu dot au).

[Ps. The VC of UQ was still making inappropriate claims last week on the UQ media about his lack of involvement and has refused to retract his claims this last week when I pointed his errors out to him.]

Posted in Blegs, Competitions, Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Ethics, Inequality, Journalism, Law, Life, Media, Personal, Race and indigenous, Science, Social Policy | 9 Comments

Brexit and deliberative democracy

I fantasise about the day when the people who fancy themselves the champions of liberal capitalist democracy – you know the Business Class set – will realise that they are munching through the landscape and, as Schumpeter argued – following Marx – that they were undermining the very foundations of their good fortune. Looking at Inter State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) as enshrined in various (don’t make me laugh) ‘free trade agreements’ in which those in Business Class get to make judgements on how domestic law applies to foreign investors – rather than the institutions we evolved since Magna Carta to deliver the rule of law – they’ll say to themselves “Is it really a good idea to tear all that up to make sure we can keep tobacco brands safe from democracy?”

Likewise they might be wondering, in the light of the rise of people like Donald Trump, if the increasingly toxic brew of vox pop democracy to which the relentless drive for eyeballs in media has done so much to contribute, is such a great deal. Sure enough the befuddlement and endlessly wound up state of the electorate provides a way for vested interests to survive and prosper despite periodic elections to elicit the consent of the governed. But things are getting scary, and they’re getting scary quite fast.

There are plenty of occasions in which people warn that ‘the market’ won’t be pleased with one thing or another – one ‘signal’ or another that the electorate might send. Mostly it’s hooey. But the worrier in me senses more than a grain of truth in Anatole Kaletsky’s concerns about Brexit:

If Brexit wins in a country as stable and politically phlegmatic as Britain, financial markets and businesses around the world will be shaken out of their complacency about populist insurgencies in the rest of Europe and the US. These heightened market concerns will, in turn, change economic reality. As in 2008, financial markets will amplify economic anxiety, breeding more anti-establishment anger and fueling still-higher expectations of political revolt.

The threat of such contagion means a Brexit vote could be the catalyst for another global crisis. This time, however, the workers who lose their jobs, the pensioners who lose their savings, and the homeowners who are trapped in negative equity will not be able to blame “the bankers.” Those who vote for populist upheavals will have no one but themselves to blame when their revolutions go wrong.

Of course they may have no-one to blame but themselves, but something tells me they won’t be blaming themselves.  Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Philosophy, Political theory, Politics - international, Politics - national | 17 Comments

The academy: Abstract of the month

I just came across this abstract. I have no idea what it means. It’s not a ‘post-modernist’ journal from what I can see, but I still don’t know what it means. I’d like to write more about this, but don’t have the time right now, and am still pondering it all, but the abstractions deployed seem so general and broad that it’s not only hard to understand what it’s talking about, it’s also hard to believe it can lead to any beneficial insights, as opposed to generating citations for academics. But then I might be wrong.

Anyone wanting to do further research to discover the content in the article and whether it has any value can follow it up (for a limited time) here. It’s at the Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 71, No. 3, 2015, pp. 633--645

Broadening Perspectives on Achieving Social Change

Katherine Stroebe, University of Groningen, Katie Wang, Yale University, Stephen C. Wright, Simon Fraser University

The articles in this special issue challenge readers to reconsider the relationships among individual mobility, collective action, and social change. Taken together, they reveal an increasing and broadening interest in the concept of social change and raise important questions about its societal applications. In this commentary,we expand on this rich body of research by considering how surface indicators of(lack of) social change such as individual versus collective action may be related to a wider range of motives than has been assumed. Moreover, we consider more carefully what constitutes social change, and discuss different forms of equality asa means to conceptualizing social change. In doing so, we attempt to move beyond implied dichotomies between individual and collective strategies and actions to consider alternative perspectives on classifying and studying social change.

Posted in Cultural Critique | 12 Comments

What does it all mean?

election

Posted in Politics - national | 15 Comments