So Bosworth elected an idiot then?

A Conservative member of the Commons health select committee has said he is “absolutely convinced” of the benefits of astrology and called for it to be incorporated into medicine.

David Tredinnick said he had spent 20 years studying astrology and healthcare and said it had a “proven track record” guiding people through their lives.

The MP, a member of both the Commons health select committee and the science and technology committee, is a keen advocate of complementary therapies, and chairman of a Government working group on herbal medicine.

On Friday he said more should be done to raise awareness among patients and healthcare professionals of the benefits of astrology.

Oh dear.

50 comments on “So Bosworth elected an idiot then?

  1. It just goes to show that in some UK constituencies you could put up a baboon and it would win as long as it wore the right colour rosette

  2. “Bosworth” didn’t really have a choice did it–unless to let the other shower of shite in by default.

    Freedom beats democracy every time.

  3. I was born in Bosworth. Left it over half a century ago but on any return trip the only conclusion one can draw is that it’s populated by idiots. So, quite naturally, it elects one to represent them.

  4. I know that we laugh at people who believe in astrology and homeopathy because they’re clearly bollocks, but why do we treat things like Keynesian economics and Marx as wrong, but respectfully so? We really need a laughter track for when a politician or commentator suggests that government is going to create jobs.

  5. Astrology, Climatology… one uses the movement of the stars the other computer modelling of a chaotic, dynamic system.

    Neither have ever had predictions confirmed by observation.

    Government around the World use Climatology to predict the future and spend hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money because of it.

    So why not Astrology?

  6. Se TS: above we now live in an intellectually ruthless right-wing State where only Steampunk laissez faire is on the political agenda.No wonder we have a revival of fifties favourite : the Cold War.
    Keynesianism should be part of a diverse mix of economic remedies pragmatically justifiable because they work.
    Had not George W Bush and Gordon Brown artificially kept up the money supply at the start of the Crash we would have had 20% unemployment as in the 30’s . Marx’s observation on surplus value that workers need to be paid enough to consume the goods they produce still holds. Solar energy would not now be vying on price with fossil fuels if it had not been for huge subsidies.
    People talk about Diversity but what we need is a diversity of ideas not of the identities of people peddling the same idea.
    TS is a land taxer ,so is TW , so am I. It is a nonsense that Brit Politics has no space on its narrow band width for LVT or anything else but laissez faire ideas that died with Joe Chamberlain’s reconfiguration of Liberalism in the 1870’s.(LVT was originally a laissez faire idea but is now verboten.Adam Smith’s advocacy of it is stricken from the narrow record.)

  7. @DBC
    But subsidy of solar has had absolutely nothing to do with solar vying with fossil on price. All the subsidy has done is encouraged a whole lot of solar installation, doesn’t vie with fossil on price, if you take the subsidies out. So now there’s all that sunk cost sitting out there, could have been used for viable solar.
    It’s actually hindered the process because manufacturers have been churning out he useless stuff rather than developing better.
    The only place subsidy could be said to have helped is in research costs on development.

  8. DBC,

    “Solar energy would not now be vying on price with fossil fuels if it had not been for huge subsidies.”

    I doubt it made much difference to the price at all. OK, you can say that giving money to householders to stick panels on their roof then put money into the solar companies doing research, but if so that’s a really expensive way of doing it. After the salesman, marketing person, householder and manufacturer have had their cut, how much is going to end up going to research? Wouldn’t it be better to just give money in research grants or tax exemptions to companies in that market?

    And that’s my problem with Keynesianism. If we just want redistribution of money, cut taxes for the poor, or even just give people cash benefits. Why spend people’s time and labour building a worthless Olympic stadium instead of just paying people half the money and letting them stay home and paint their sheds or play Call of Duty?

  9. The problem with Keynesianism is that nobody screaming “Keynes” in a recession is ever caught doing so during a boom…. thus they don’t even believe in it themselves – revealed preferences and all that.

  10. “Could DBC Reed explain what is laissez faire about the government spending 45% of GDP?”

    Thats easy, like the good authoritarian little shit that he is, he wants the State to control 100% of everything. Thus it merely controlling 45% of the economy is extremely laissez faire.

  11. I await DBC’s explanation for the link between astrology and the economic nostrums of Henry George.

    He’s quite mad, isn’t he?

  12. “And that’s my problem with Keynesianism.”

    It depends if you mean actual Keynsianism or the nonsense we get from the politicians and most pundits.

    We can debate methods, but personally I don’t find the idea of the government acting as an economic stabiliser through taxation in boom times and spending in bad times to be anything other than a fairly obviously good one. I’m sure there are economic costs, but I’m also sure they are much less than the costs of a) asset misallocation during booms and b) decreased economic activity whent imes aren’t so good. If I can borrow a line from Adam Smith, this is so self-evident that to attempt to justify it would be absurd.

  13. The problem with Keynes is that he didn’t understand why booms and busts occur, which is due to inflationary monetary policy causing oscillations. The addition of more feedback just causes more unpredictable oscillation because, unlike in a precisely known simple electrical oscillator, you have no idea what the time constant of the circuit is.

    The problem with DBC Reed is that he really believes that money simply vanishes out of the system, causing a bizarre situation in which the economy cannot afford to buy the goods it produces, which is barmy.

  14. It’s worth mentioning that many of his fellows believe they have an invisible imaginary friend who will take them to a magic land in the sky after they die. Incredible in this day and age, but they really do.

  15. If you think that MPs should represent a wide range of public opinion, then you have to accept the election of the occasional fruitloop.
    So maybe the good people of Bosworth reckoned it was just their turn, and went to the polls with a sigh.
    What’s more disturbing is that this guy has managed to get himself onto two quite influential committees. HTF?

  16. Dave,

    “We can debate methods, but personally I don’t find the idea of the government acting as an economic stabiliser through taxation in boom times and spending in bad times to be anything other than a fairly obviously good one.”

    OK, what are you going to spend money on?

  17. Stig>

    I can think of all kinds of ways to arrange spending to suit such a cycle. One of the obvious ones is to arrange necessary infrastructure projects during booms, and then actually carry them out during busts. Not where it’s essential they come in sooner, of course, and just an example. One might also try to arrange ongoing maintenance to peak at that point, and so-on. Other options are to hand cash to everyone, or to cut taxes, or all kinds of similar.

    I’m not sure it really matters that much, though.

    I strongly suspect that the excessive part of booms happen because people like to jump on rolling wagons, and then the busts, while necessary for correction, are also pushed too far by the same thing. The effects of government action ought to be multiplied by the herds, because overoptimism or overpessimism will be to some degree tempered by the knowledge that government action will lower the peak of the boom and raise the nadir of the bust – if such knowledge exists, of course.

    Can you imagine the effect of announcing the start of the taxation phase if the government was actually thought to get it right every time? Could there be a clearer sign that the party’s winding down? Presumably the tax would start low, and rise over time, so it’s not like everyone would rush out and sell, sell, sell right away, but people would start thinking seriously about the future.

  18. DBC reed: If they filled a Dyson with liquid ordure and set it to maximum blow it would spew less shite than you. Laissez-Faire?–this socialist and corporate socialist shithole we live in?. Gordon Brown saved us?–bollocks.

    IanB–“The problem with DBC Reed is that he really believes that money simply vanishes out of the system, causing a bizarre situation in which the economy cannot afford to buy the goods it produces, which is barmy.
    It’s worth mentioning that many of his fellows believe they have an invisible imaginary friend who will take them to a magic land in the sky after they die. Incredible in this day and age, but they really do.”

    Are you referring to Karl Marx ?–as an extreme socialist poisoner Reed is most likely an atheist.

  19. Ecks, the “his” in “his friends” in my second post refers to the MP, not DBC Reed. I’m not sure why I posted the comments in that order.

  20. I have a cunning plan to poison Tredinnick homeopathically by procuring a quantity of arsenic and then not putting any in his tea whatsoever.

  21. If, according to homeopaths, water retains a ‘memory’ of what it used to hold, then how do they get over the fact that by now almost all water has been piss at one time or another?

  22. I always enjoy pointing out that the real problem for homeopathy would not be if it was proven not to work, but if it was actually proven to be efficacious. At that point we’d have an effect for which we have no possible explanation whatsoever, and therefore no idea what side-effects to expect.

  23. Dave,

    “Other options are to hand cash to everyone, or to cut taxes, or all kinds of similar.”

    That’s not Keynes. Keynes specifically says infrastructure, and I’d like to know what infrastructure people think would get delayed. Also, how good are government at predicting when a bust occurs so that they could plan for whether infrastructure can be done now rather than later?

  24. Keynes actually only recommends infrastructure. If there’s nothing to be built, you can simply give people makework to do, as with his somewhat infamous example of burying bottles of money for other people to dig up. The point of it is his absurd “multiplier” effect, so what matters is that people are hired by other people (thus enabling the multiplier) regardless of whether they are actually doing anything useful or not.

    It doesn’t seem to have quite occurred to him that therefore the best thing to do would be to get say a hundred people in a room, passing a ten pound note to each other until several billion pounds have been generated by the said multiplier, but that’s where the logic leads.

  25. That’s not the way I read it.

    “If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.”

    “Also, how good are government at predicting when a bust occurs so that they could plan for whether infrastructure can be done now rather than later?”

    Good question. In practical terms, I think we’re a fair way from that yet. But it’s fairly easy to identify a boom. If we started implementing the policy, we ought to be able to get it spot on within a century or two. For now, though, we’d have to deal with less certainty.

  26. Ian>

    You seem to have it the wrong way up.

    “It doesn’t seem to have quite occurred to him that therefore the best thing to do would be to get say a hundred people in a room, passing a ten pound note to each other until several billion pounds have been generated by the said multiplier, but that’s where the logic leads.”

    That would be making people work without paying them. Keynes proposed paying them without (necessarily) getting them to do any (useful) work. (Well, work is by definition useful, but let’s not quibble about semantics.)

  27. The problem with asking for a policy of “identifying booms” is that, every time, during the boom stage everyone thinks it is real economic growth; that is booms are always identified post hoc. The few people who do identify a boom at the time (as with the recent catastrophic great housing boom) will be derided. Bear in mind that the “solution” to that has been for government to pump the boom back up again, by deliberately handing out more cheap money to buy houses with.

  28. Ian>

    Is there, somewhere in your last comment, anything of relevance to the subject at hand?

  29. Dave,

    “But it’s fairly easy to identify a boom”

    Actually, I don’t think it is. We generally spot that we’ve got a boom on just before it’s about to go titsup. And as Ian B says, there’s always the “different this time” analysts.

  30. Stig (and Ian, too)>

    Boom is not synonymous with bubble. A boom is easy to spot: the economy grows fairly fast for a while. The idea is to slow the boom a little and prevent a bubble developing.

    Bubbles are a subtly different subject, although clearly related. We could argue semantics over whether it’s possible to have a boom followed by a recession without any bubble involved – would you define overinvestment requiring a correction as a bubble by definition? – but I don’t think it’s pertinent since the action taken in a boom ought to have a similar effect on preventing bubbles inflating (as much).

  31. Dave, if there’s a bust, there must have been a bubble before it, or there’d be nothing to bust.

    A boom/bubble is not caused by overinvestment, but incorrect investment (“malinvestment”). The bust is the point when people realise they wrongly priced the investment, and the economy needs to liquidate the malinvested investment goods. Which is why Keynesianism doesn’t work, because it does not identify the malinvested parts of the economy, instead treating the economy as an aggregate.

    To use an agriculture analogy, it is not that too much food has been grown. It is that too many beans have been planted, when it turned out the consumers wanted less beans and more cabbages.

  32. What? He’s a member of the Commons’ Select Committee on Science and Technology?

    We really are doomed, aren’t we.

  33. “if there’s a bust, there must have been a bubble before it, or there’d be nothing to bust.”

    It’s so trivial to imagine hypothetical counter-examples that I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader and save myself some typing.

    Then again, I’m not sure those kinds of busts are relevant to Keynesianism.

    As I said, though, discussing the exact point at which over-investment (or mal-investment, if you prefer that near-synonym) becomes a bubble doesn’t really get us anywhere.

    “Keynesianism doesn’t work, because it does not identify the malinvested parts of the economy”

    Why should it need to?

  34. Sigh. Because as a theory, it is wrong. It thinks there is “too much” investment rather than “the wrong” investment. Which means it gets the wrong solution (try to pump up the economy, when the answer is to liquidate the malinvestment, which is what the market would do).

  35. It’s so trivial to imagine hypothetical counter-examples that I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader and save myself some typing.

    Translation: “I can’t think of a counter-example”.

  36. “It thinks there is “too much” investment rather than “the wrong” investment.”

    You haven’t explained how those differ, or how on earth Keynesianism does not, as you say, use the market to reallocate assets.

    “Translation: “I can’t think of a counter-example”.”

    Good lord, really? Have you thought about it for a second? If you could think of one, presumably you wouldn’t have written that, which suggests you actually can’t think of any yourself. Astonishing.

    Are you suggesting the economy of, say, London in 1665, collapsed because of over/mal-investment? Or how about those of Pompeii, two thousand years ago, or New Orleans within the last decade?

  37. You’re seriously proposing that we use a similar theoretical framework to explain catastrophic natural disasters? I mean, SRSLY?

    Here’s a clue: in the one case, we have a whole bunch of factories that are working fine one day, then suddenly there is economic collapse even though all that plant is still functioning perfectly well, and in the other they’re like buried under fifty feet of fresh lava.

    Can you spot the difference Dave?

    As to-

    “It thinks there is “too much” investment rather than “the wrong” investment.”

    You haven’t explained how those differ,

    The answer is

    ” ‘too much’ investment rather than ‘the wrong’ investment.”

    If you put too much flour in your cake, and not enough butter in your cake, that isn’t the same as “too much aggregate cake stuff”.

  38. “You’re seriously proposing that we use a similar theoretical framework to explain catastrophic natural disasters? I mean, SRSLY?”

    Are you even reading my posts, Ian? I certainly didn’t suggest that.

    “Here’s a clue: in the one case, we have a whole bunch of factories that are working fine one day, then suddenly there is economic collapse even though all that plant is still functioning perfectly well, and in the other they’re like buried under fifty feet of fresh lava.”

    Well, at least you sometimes manage to state the obvious correctly.

    “The answer is ‘too much’ investment rather than ‘the wrong’ investment.””

    That doesn’t explain anything, though. It’s just assigning two terms as synonyms for the two terms we already had.

    “If you put too much flour in your cake, and not enough butter in your cake, that isn’t the same as “too much aggregate cake stuff”.”

    OK, which of those do you think is analogous to which?

    And can you remind me why we’re arguing semantics which I specifically said don’t affect the question at hand?

  39. Dave, I don’t know if we’re at crossed purposes or whether you are being deliberately obtuse. I don’t know what is difficult to understand about the difference between “spending too much money” and “spending money on the wrong things”.

    So we might say, as an example of the first, a man who only has £50 to spend, but orders £200 of goods, then ends up in trouble. An example of the second is someone who has £50 but instead of spending it on the food he needs, spends it on a painting, and then finds he has no food to eat. That is (crudely, but I hope clearly) the difference between excess investment and the wrong investment.

    An economy “busts” at the moment the man realises he can’t eat a painting, and can’t resell it to anyone else either.

  40. One of the obvious ones is to arrange necessary infrastructure projects during booms, and then actually carry them out during busts.

    That would never happen, simply because the steps needed to get the projects kicked off – tendering, contract award, then hiring and material purchase – takes so long on large (and particularly government) projects that the bust would likely be over by the time the work starts.

    The best the government could do would be to define the scope, secure the permitting, and pre-qualifiy the tenderers in the boom period. Although given how governments like to meddle with the scope throughout a project, even this is likely beyond them. You’d not be able to launch a call for tender during the boom because then you’d get commercial proposals reflecting boom rates and material and labour availability, which would be a lot higher cost than in the slump (when you want the work done).

    The accurate timing of major projects is extremely difficult, and anyone in the oil and gas business who has been involved in the same knows that even privately-run projects (albeit with mountains of government interference, mainly to do with permitting, local content requirements, and funding) are subject to huge delays – normally due to people being utterly unable to make up their mind on certain issues.

  41. The German mathematician Gauss made some particularly impressive advances and discoveries, almost all of which stemmed from his sincere belief in astrology and his quest, therefore, to find the optimum methods of getting the most precise astonomical observations possible.

    I offer this as an interesting historical obersavtion, not as a defence of the right honourable fuckwit for Bosworth. Although, to be fair, MPs are supposed to be our representatives, yet I’m sure we have a smaller proportion of MPs who believe astrology is a useful medical tool than we do of the population at large. So that’s something to be optimistic about. The real fault lies not with him but with whichever far bigger fuckwit let him onto a science committee.

  42. Keynes never advocated burying money: he was making an analogy with gold mining – he said so explicitly in the very next sentence.

    But this is the internet, you don’t have to read, still less understand, a major work before you claim to know better than it.

  43. Ian>

    “I don’t know what is difficult to understand about the difference between “spending too much money” and “spending money on the wrong things”.”

    Well, the difficulty is that there really isn’t much difference. Anyway, you keep blathering about ‘examples’ and ‘analogies’ rather than just defining your terms.

    “Dave, I don’t know if we’re at crossed purposes or whether you are being deliberately obtuse.”

    False dichotomy. It’s quite possible you’re being non-deliberately obtuse.

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