In which Aditya Chakrabortty explains the left

The academic concluded that a significant proportion of even smart people neither understand nor remember numbers. Instead, they are guided by repetition and familiarity (Pepsi being a cornerstone of America\’s caffeine-industrial complex). And no matter how stark the numbers, how they are presented is far more important.

Yes, the left is that portion of the population that is innumerate.

For example, we keep being told of all these cuts acoming….yet in cash terms government spending will rise.

4 comments on “In which Aditya Chakrabortty explains the left

  1. Hang on – last week the WSJ were idiots for not taking inflation into account, and yet now we are not meant to take inflation into account? Govt spending in real terms net of interest payments is definitely going to fall.

  2. well I sympathize but this is a selection effect – you spend your time looking at innumerate lefties. You don’t spend your time looking at numerate lefties (i.e. over 50% of economists self-identify as left wing) or at innumerate righties. If you were of a different political persuasion you could spend every day spitting feathers about the innumeracy of the right.

    “For example, we keep being told of all these cuts acoming….yet in cash terms government spending will rise.”

    Um, isn’t that innumeracy of a sort? In a growing economy, that can translate into a big decrease of govt spending as % of GDP and isn’t that the “numerate” number to be looking at?

    Or don’t you think that universities are facing massive budget cuts, people getting laid off all over the public sector, social housing, defense budgets slashed etc. I could go on. What are these examples, somehow not really cuts because cash spending is flat? You think it’s more “numerate” to say that there aren’t lots of large magnitude real cuts happening across the public sector right now? You think the right way to think about cuts, all those projects getting canned, budgets slashed, redundancies etc. is that they are not really cuts?

    Tim adds: Universities aren’t facing huge budget cuts. They’re facing a change in the source of their funds. From the taxpayer directly to student fees backstopped by loans from the taxpayer. It’s not actually known yet whethyer this change will lead to more or less being spent, in total, on the universities.

    That would be a “numerate” response to that one.

  3. Luis – it’s just an error in not understanding the difference between nominal values and real values. This actually is fairly common on the British right-wing, think of all those surveys the Telegraph runs showing how tax bills have trebled or whatever.

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