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Inhumane Brexit January 11, 2017

Posted by larry in Brexit, democracy, social justice, social policy.
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“One German citizen, who has been in the UK for 10 years, didn’t take out English residency status, is now worried they will have to leave. She apparently loves England but “if the government starts throwing out EU citizens, I don’t want to live in this country any more”.

“Which is a cuious sort of reasoning. If the UK does act like that then what was there to love in the first place? But that is not the point anyway.” [From Bill Mitchell’s blog, billy blog.]

No, it isn’t the point. Yet it is. Her reasoning may be considered to be unusual, but her situation is not. There are many people in exactly her situation or more complex ones and have complicated reasons for wishing to continue to live in a country where they have lived for perhaps 30 or 40 years, which is true of many “deportables”. Many of those considered to be deportable have children and spouses who have a right to reside in the UK. To deport such a parent, and thereby potentially break up such a family, violates the UN convention on the rights of the child to which the UK is a signatory. The Home Office is either not aware of this, which is scandalous in itself, or doesn’t care, which may be more scandalous. And that spouse or child may not have an automatic right of residence in the country to which the parent in question is being deported.

My problems with Brexit have nothing to do with economics and everything to do with humanitarian issues, social justice, workers’ rights, the environment, the NHS, social care, security, and the like. Of course, any properly constituted government, whether in or out of the EU (but not in the Eurozone), could deal with these matters properly. But the UK does not have such a government, nor has it had one for some years. The UK currently has a government comprised of xenophobes, buffoons, and economic fanatics. To take one example, this government has already said that as soon as the UK is out of the EU, it will “address” workers’ rights, which effectively means to remove as many of them as it can get away with.

To take another, the NHS is currently facing a crisis, which the International Red Cross deems to be a humanitarian crisis. Whether one considers the language to be OTT or not, what the UK has is a health secretary who is going around and effectively saying, Crisis? What crisis?, and blaming A&E problems on the public. The former is despicable and the latter disgusting. But these are the sort of government ministers the public is faced with. The previous NHS crisis with which the current one is being compared took place during the nineties. Both have occurred after considerable periods of Tory rule. It appears as though Tory rule is bad for your health, physical or mental.

Is there any reason to think, given who is in charge, that these situations will be improved after Brexit? I don’t see why. There is every reason to think that they will worsen. As for whether the referendum vote is legitimate, I think the Guardian article over-eggs the pudding.

It can be argued and has been that a population deserves what government it happens to elect. I don’t think this is as simple as it looks. It is all too possible to believe you are voting for A but get B instead. Or get C in addition to A, which you didn’t vote for and didn’t know was part of the package. Because such scenarios take place all too often, and many times involve a tyranny of the majority, I consider the argument to be specious. Locke’s arguments are not always logically sound. A people do not always deserve what they get nor get what they deserve.

Getting back to the deportables, I know of families who are frightened for the reasons mentioned. And they don’t know what to do. The government could easily provide an amnesty to all those who are currently resident in the UK. But this is not on the table even though it would be the most humane action to take. There is every reason to think that the other 27 countries faced with citizens returning from the UK because they have been deported will do exactly the same thing to UK citizens, possibly violating the same UN convention. Some of these countries have already said that they will do exactly this.

Because of this situation, among others, a number of anti-Brexit groups have been popping up around the country. Membership of these groups is usually comprised of younger people. These groups are not anti-Brexit per se, but anti an awful Brexit, like the kind in question. Some of these groups present alternative Brexits that are worthy of consideration.

Is Brexit responsible for any of this? Of course not. What concerns me is that the Tories will attempt to get away with more inhumane policies than they have been able to heretofore. While the Eurozone features of the EU have been an unmitigated disaster, not everything EU has been disastrous. Maybe it CAN change.

It is true that the EU as presently constituted is ridiculous, but there are politicians in Europe, like Emmanuel Macron, who see what the problem is and see a need to address it. At present, there are not many Macrons, but I see no reason why they can’t proliferate and begin to alter the narrative. There is time. Not a lot, but there is some. Of course, nothing may happen. Then it will be bye-bye Eurozone, missing you already, Not, and perhaps the EU with it.

Varoufakis on game theoretic analysis of asymmetric expectations among the powerful & the powerless March 22, 2014

Posted by larry in economics, Game Theory, Psychology, social justice.
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This is for those who have some experience, knowledge or interest in game theoretic analyses of social interaction. Varoufakis is a political economist who is intimately familiar with game theory, having written a book about it with Hargreaves Heap some years ago. Nevertheless, economically, this research falls within the domain of what has become known as microeconomics, as distinct from macroeconomics. But this research focuses on social group expectations, not the processes of the economic system as a whole.

There are links in the paper to more detailed and mathematical discussions of the issues. I don’t think that the PowerPoint slides are self-explanatory, as they assume more understanding of the mathematics underlying game theory than is perhaps possessed by the general population. But the conclusions Varoufakis reaches require no math to understand. They are:


There are a number of books and articles dealing with applications of game theory to biological situations, one famous one by the late John Maynard Smith, Evolution and the Theory of Games, mentioned by Varoufakis. I think I should point out that Richard Lewontin, the population geneticist, has written that he thought that the appropriation of game theory to evolutionary contexts altered the character of the theory to such an extent that it ought to be called something other than “evolutionary game theory”. History and social convention have made the decision for him. The appellation has stuck.

To be fair to Varoufakis, he doesn’t think that these results are extraordinarily original, though they would seem to be unknown to mainstream economists, whose theoretical paradigm Varoufakis is concerned to attack. And he feels that one of the best ways of doing this is from within, as it were, a tactic utilized successfully by logicians for centuries to attack positions they don’t (didn’t) like. (Have a look at the way Socrates, as set out by Plato, operates.)

Here is the link to a non-technical discussion of this topic, including links mentioned.



Getting back to my simple example of being able to breathe, we know that the presence of oxygen is a necessary though not sufficient for breathing. We also know that the presence of CO2 is a necessary but not sufficient condition for breathing.

So, here we have two necessary conditions for breathing. For B for breathing, O for oxygen, and C for CO2, we have (if B, then O) and (if B, then C). Since we know that they must occur together for a person being able to breathe, we have (if B, then C & O).

Realizing that the system under discussion is more complex than this discussion, can we nevertheless go on to contend that the presence of oxygen and CO2 are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for breathing? That is, that B iff C & O? How should we then interpret this equivalence? As a kind of “law of breathing”, a kind of scientific regularity, or as a definition of the conditions of being able to breathe?

This question may seem to be a triviality, but it arises in the discipline of macroeconomics all the time. When is a statement to be interpreted as a substantive assertion that has a truth-value or as a definition of terms, which has no truth-value but is only useful or not? Too many economic discussions are not at all clear about this issue. And it can make a difference to how you treat what they are saying.

What do the elites think they are doing? Or are they thinking at all? February 13, 2014

Posted by larry in Abuse of power, economics, Justice, social justice.
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If aggression and nastiness have been the drivers of natural selection that put humans at the top of the food chain, then maybe it is time we became extinct. Keanu Reeves made a great mistake in the film The Day the Earth Stood Still. He probably should have allowed the machine to do what it was brought here to do, exterminate the earth’s primary predator in order to save the planet itself.

When people look around and think about what is happening, some of them no doubt wonder what is wrong with the picture they see. There is something deeply awry. But only a perfect cataclysm will alter how the system currently works. That it used to work a little better was probably just an accident. The past thirty years was spent, more or less, working up to now, only of course it wasn’t supposed to go to shit. Which just shows you how stupid many members of  the élite (I’m lumping them all together.) actually are. And the funny thing is, if there is anything funny in this madness,  is that small government means that there won’t be the resources to bail out some of the asses the next time. And by next time, I don’t mean the housing bubble that will burst one of these days. I mean that they’ll do something so monumentally stupid that this past crash will look like a bit of a blip.

So far, the assholes are winning. And those who see that the economic system is in bad shape, fails to reflect actual economic reality, and needs to be reformed hardly get any air time on the mainstream media. Last week’s Question Time had George Galloway, MP for Bradford, a notoriously poor city, on the program. Galloway is a “deserter” from the Labour Party, which for the past 20 years hasn’t done much for its constituency, the average person including the working person. Galloway is someone the main parties love to hate. But last week, he uttered something quite profound and I doubt most people realized how profound it was. In response to some Tory on the panel saying that there weren’t funds for something involving poor people, Galloway pointed out that the government has found money for Trident, high-speed rail, the banks, and their friends in general. In other words, it is complete bullshit that the government is spending constrained.

In the US, it is almost the same. The governments of the US and the UK, which are quite large, can fund whatever they need to fund in their own currency. A related issue was being discussed on the program when Galloway’s comment was made. Neither of these governments can go broke. Of course, if they are much smaller than they are now, they won’t be able to go broke either, but they won’t have the internal resources, which the UK government is slowly dismantling, to be able to do much for anyone, even the rich. The ONS now admits that there are statistical data that it no longer has the resources to collect and analyze. And this is only one example. So, the élite is now cutting off its nose to spite its face, as it were. Except for the .1% and a few others who think they don’t need government anyway. They think they can buy whatever they need. And under the present regime, they can. But are they going to fund the education system or the various research systems that allow them to be able to do this when government becomes too small to support these activities? No matter how rich they are, they won’t have the resources to do it. They are marching spiritedly, and ignorantly, into the past.

The current elites are parasites destroying their own host.

Zoellick’s imbecilic recommendations August 15, 2011

Posted by larry in economics, social justice, social policy.
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Zoellick might as well be singing if lovin’ you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right with respect to his neoclassically motivated advocacy of cutting welfare and social security as part of a solution to the economic crisis.  Not only is this recommendation not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.  Cutting government spending in a recession can only make the situation worse.  The danger zone as Zoellick refers to it has been largely brought about by government ineptitude following upon bank ineptitude.  In a sovereign country with sovereign control over its own currency, there is no way, short of political ineptitude, that such a country could never meet its welfare and social security obligations. To suggest otherwise is to engage in bullshit* (not know what you are talking about) or  lie.

* See Harry Frankfurt’s brilliant essay, On Bullshit either here or here.

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