Second, I think what we are looking for an adequate explanation of ‘what is’ and not ‘what should be’ because that is what economics should do.

Ritchie insisting that economics should be positive, not normative? He gets something right?

And ain’t this great?

And there is good reason for that. Take a discussion I had in the last week on an academic paper I am writing on tax gap theory. In the course of that work I have changed a definition in national income accounting because what I can see in reality is not explained by available theory. So I am suggesting alternative theory. But as one academic put it to me ‘Can you do that?’. And ‘Is that allowed?’

Sure, you can do that, as long as you explain it, as long as others have a look and think it’s useful and reasonable.

What’s the betting there?

16 comments on “Blimey

  1. The people he consorts with are not likely to be the most respected in the field, are they? Who would actually ask whether they were allowed to come up with new hypotheses? That is unless Murphy was actually suggesting something unthinkable and the other guy was asking whether a government could actually do what he was suggesting. That is a more likely situation – Murphy thinks that he is a genius but his colleagues think he is Muffin the mule (probably a criminal offence)

  2. But what you can’t do is then use that revised definition as if it means the same as the previous definition of the term. Once you change the definition, all conclusions about how the term applies have to be re-calculated.

    That’s the problem with Murphy (well, one of them); he uses terms in his own way but claims the same implications apply to his new definition as they did to the old.

  3. No need to overthink here.

    This is Richard J Murphy, ergo whatever he writes will be a load of old wank.

  4. “Sure, you can do that, as long as you explain it, as long as others have a look and think it’s useful and reasonable.”

    As long as you call it something different to avoid confusion with the normal definition.

    As Richard says, what you can’t do is re-define it and then discuss it as if it means what it normally does, since then you’re talking apples and oranges. Want to bet that’s exactly what Richie does though?

  5. If he changes one definition in national income accounting he will need to change (an)other(s) in order not to double-count (or omit) the bits he has transferred into (or out of) that line item.
    He does not, from what Tim says, seem to have thought about that.

  6. @Diogenes – bet there’s something that can be summarised as “Corporation tax that would be paid if corporation tax was levied on turnover rather than net profit”, or “…if levied before costs such as salaries are deducted”.

  7. When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

  8. But as one academic put it to me ‘Can you do that?’. And ‘Is that allowed?’
    To which I replied “Candidly, you are a neo-liberal troll & you are wasting my time. Your time here is done.”

    Come on, people! Do you really think he stops expounding his Great Thoughts long enough to listen to questions?

  9. @BiS

    “But as one academic put it to me ‘Can you do that?’. And ‘Is that allowed?’”

    1) I am so important that ‘academics’ talk to me.

    2) These academics hang on my every word, like children listening to their wise teacher.

    The things is with Murphy, he name drops every single chance he gets so it’s pretty certain that these nameless academics, journalists, Big 4 partners or whoever else he mentions are just figments of his inadequate imagination.

  10. One can even redefine the methodology of car-mileage figures. But even an explanation should not dismiss the fact that the person doing the redefining is a car salesman – as Murphy remains a con artist.

    Regarding “what I can see in reality is not explained by available theory” – In fact nearly everything is. It is just that available theory is not useful to some in the field, who did not arrive to measure anything in the first place.

  11. When people say “can you do that?” and “is that allowed?” in reference to a bit of jiggery-pokery in a piece of research they mean “does that still comport with the laws of the universe?” I mean, you can say, “In what follows, I’m going to alter the fine structure constant to be 0.01 instead of 0.00729735257” but it is not required that anyone subsequently take seriously anything that arises as a result of this change unless you have a bloody good reason for it.

  12. Tax gap theory. There’s always a tax gap – no system of taxation can be 100% effective, even when considering only legal activities. The question is: how large is it; and is there a cost-effective method of reducing it?

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