Even more even better Ritchie

And that’s embracing the lesson of Keynes. As Keynes knew we do not live in the probabilistic world that neoliberals thinks exists where all outcomes are known and can be predicted: we live in a world of unknowns. And many of those unknowns are unknown (Rumsfeld’s one true insight). In which case if we are to have a policy for sustainable, fair growth, for employment and for fair distribution of reward the government has no choice but intervene, with courage, in the economy. And that, of course, was what I called for in The Courageous State.

The government\’s no fucking clue about what\’s going to happen therefore we should give all of our money to the government for them to decide what to do about the future.

It\’s not the most convincing piece of economic logic now, is it?

19 thoughts on “Even more even better Ritchie”

  1. “we do not live in the probabilistic world that neoliberals thinks exists where all outcomes are known and can be predicted: we live in a world of unknowns.”

    Neoliberals think all outcomes are known and can be predicted ?

    Seriously ?

  2. “..where all outcomes are known and can be predicted ..”
    That sounds deterministic to me. Neoliberal determinists? Unh?

  3. You know, it was courageous of Ritchie to say that.

    What with him only having seven working brain cells and all.

  4. We-e-e-e-l. it does make a sort of sense. If you’re venturing into the unknown & decisions have to be made, who better to make them than government? If the decisions turn out to be the wrong ones, nobody gets fired.

  5. He didn’t say that we should give all our money to the government. He said that the government should intervene in the economy.

    The fact is that all governments intervene in the economy. As soon as you create a framework of law, or taxation, or regulation, you’re intervening in the economy. And of course this intervention should be done in a way that tends to produce the best economic outcomes.

  6. How do you know what the best economic outcomes are, if you are fundamentally ignorant of the outcomes? Rather more zeal than judgement there, PaulB.

  7. CS: my contention is that governments can’t help intervening as an inherent part of governing. Are you saying that it’s better for them to try to do it badly than well?

  8. Paul B

    Certainly government action impacts on the economy. As famously cited, taxation is like plucking geese. Trying to obtain the maximum number of feathers for the minimum amount of hiss. But that is nothing to do with picking winners, which successive governments have proved spectactularly bad at doing….

  9. He’s up against some pretty stiff opposition, but that is the stupidest thing I’ve yet heard him say.

    To say that Neoliberals believe in a world of predictable outcomes is akin to saying the Pope is a Satanist. It is diametrically opposed to what they believe.

    New depths of stupidity.

  10. I agree with PaulB. Governments have to intervene in the economy. The political debate is over what the desired outcomes of intervention should be, and therefore how much intervention is necessary, and what form that intervention should take.

  11. Francis. That’s not fundamentally true, is it? It’s entirely possible to envisage a government that responded to its people’s wishes & was financed by voluntary contributions. Not even sure there haven’t been one or two of those in history, albeit on a small scale. Past that, governments intervene where they choose. Neither flat taxes nor the much reviled Poll Tax directly interfere with economic choices, apart from at the level that the revenue produced needs raising.
    The rest, really is optional.

  12. BIS, “It’s entirely possible to envisage a government that responded to its people’s wishes & was financed by voluntary contributions.”

    I agree it’s possible to “envisage” such a government. I’m not so sure it’s possible to have one. What you have described is what is generally called “a club.”

  13. This Ritchie card is surely using the qualifier ‘Courageous’ in the Yes Prime Minister sense of ‘suicidal and ineffective’. Which, of course, all government meddling with our money always is.

  14. BIS. “And a country is its people, not its government.”

    That rather proves my (and others’) point. Who are “its people”? You and Tim who loved it so much that you left it? Someone has to decide, and I’m afraid it’s government. It might decide by holding a referendum, but it still decides (and it decides who votes in the referendum).

    By all means go for smaller government, just don’t pretend that a state can be run as a voluntary association.

  15. Even if taxation were zero, government would still be intervening in the economy, particularly by means of the enforcement of various property rights.

  16. Screw what neoliberals believe for a moment, whether government is good, bad or ugly and all the rest of it: if you think all outcomes can be known and predicted, this is deterministic (as VftS says) and is the diametric opposite of probabilistic (which is at best that even if you can predict the chance you can’t predict the outcome; a Bayesian would go even further). The man is so thick he can’t even keep a single sentence coherent in meaning.

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