As I\’ve been known to say

It\’s something that really bugs me about the British left:

So there is a value to industrial action that is innate to the process, regardless of the outcome: it keeps the vocabulary, the mechanics and the muscle of conflict alive. These are things we\’re going to have more and more use for.

They can be so concerned about the process that little is left to consider the outcome. Here it\’s that strikes never seem to achieve very much but as long as they keep alive the the process of conflict they\’re great.

In other areas it\’s that markets create winners and losers….ignoring the way in which they make everyone better off over time. Or that capitalism is exploitation, which we shouldn\’t have, again ignoring what happens over time.

And it gets more important than that as well. The claim is that we should be am modern social democracy, more like the Nordics. But no one seems willing to go and look at what the Nordics are, extremely, classically, liberal economies with lots of redistribution on top. But no one on the left here argues for that classical liberalism for that\’s not the desired process…failing to see that you can only actually have the huge redistribution and continued economic growth if you have the classical liberalism underneath to provide the wealth to be redistributed.

I could go on with examples (workers should have greater employment rights to reduce the ability of companies to make them unemployed….yet in aggregate we see that strong employment rights increase unemployment….) but you get the point.

You probably got it first time I whined about it. The British left does much too much whining about the process of doing things and pays far too little attention to the actual methods of reaching the goals they claim to desire.

5 thoughts on “As I\’ve been known to say”

  1. From “The economics of strikes”:

    There is no commonly accepted economic theory of strikes. The main obstacle is
    that if one has a theory which predicts when a strike will occur and what the outcome will be, the parties can agree to this outcome in advance, and so avoid the costs of a strike. If they do this, the theory ceases to hold. This might be called the “Hicks Paradox”, since it is implicit in Hicks’s (1963) theoretical
    discussion of strikes.

    Hicks suggested two possible explanations for strikes: either the union is trying to maintain a “reputation for toughness”, or there is private information on at least one side of the bargaining table:

    Weapons grow rusty if unused, and a Union which never strikes may lose the ability to organise a formidable strike, so that its threats become less effective, The most able Trade Union leadership will embark on strikes occasionally,… in order to keep their weapon burnished for future use ….

  2. “yet in aggregate we see that strong employment rights increase unemployment….”

    Prime example France.

  3. “The most able Trade Union leadership will embark on strikes occasionally,… in order to keep their weapon burnished for future use ….”

    Which is why we see unionised industries being the sclerotic ones (indeed, largely the public sector).

  4. This language is all too commonplace.

    The Left seems to have an addiction to strife, agitation, victimhood. Strikes are great to keep up divisions. You can’t have Teh Werkuz becoming middle class and aspirational, now, can we?

    Social mobility for some means one thing – “me and mine to replace the current elite”.

  5. In economic matters, yes, agreed, process is placed above outcomes.

    But in other matters, notably: legal due process; the language of political debate where ‘fairness’ has become an outcome rather than a process; or regulated, state-mandated equality and diversity, the means are sacrificed to the ends. That the ends often backfire on their leftist advocates is certainly true, but the social democratic corporatism is nothing if not adept at demolishing procedures and institutions standing it is way.

    As Blair put it, ‘what matters is what works’.

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