There’s a bit of this world I still don’t get

I think of myself as someone just deploying their comparative advantage. I’m less bad at scribbling on matters economic than I am at most other things. I also think I’m about 20 – a child in these things.

So, anyway, I’m doing a bit of paid scribbling which requires checking the details of the Simon Ehrlich bet. OK, wikipedia – and I’m listed as one of the sources of the truth about the Simon Ehrlich bet.


Yes, yes, obviously, just false modesty, Har Har! Everybody says but no, Tim, you’re really……and it’s not that. The internal conversation in my head really is either well, what the buggery is this complicated world about and aren’t I a minnow? The only time it’s different is when I’m considering something so damned obvious that children still giggling at helium balloons can see this, can’t they?

And then I get really worried. The people actually running the world are in the same position, aren’t they? Either that or there’s a hell of a lot of Dunning Kruger going on. Either rather neatly explaining the state of it…..

14 thoughts on “There’s a bit of this world I still don’t get”

  1. Forgot to mention: ““When I’m considering something so damned obvious that children still giggling at helium balloons can see this…”


    Boris Trial thrown out be court at 1PM yesterday; Magistrate criticised


    Also Mr Ball paid himself £50,000 from crowdfunded donations

  2. “When I’m considering something so damned obvious that children still giggling at helium balloons can see this…”

    The Groan, Peterborough and numbers

    Labour’s Lisa Forbes has won the Peterborough by-election – albeit by a narrow majority of 683. She polled 10,484 votes, beating the Brexit Party’s Mike Greene, who took 9,801. The Conservatives were beaten into third place with 7,243 votes.

    One of the seven reasons the Guardian gives for Ms Forbes’s win is the large number of postal votes, known to have been encouraged by Labour. An astonishing 69.4 per cent of postal voters cast their ballots in an otherwise low turnout which came out at 48 per cent overall. This is a matter of concern. The emergence of electoral fraud as an issue in UK politics this century cannot be divorced from postal voting. Poll fraud, furthermore, is known to be high in ethnic minority areas, as was dramatically underlined by Sir Eric Pickles three years ago. Peterborough’s vote should raise questions, not least that the Labour Party hired a campaigner who has been jailed for vote-rigging. None of this was in the Guardian report. Nor was Ms Forbes’s past penchant for spreading anti-Semitic tropes…

    My bold. Anyone translate into legible English?

    It was obvious to all that could see why Blair changed UK Law on postal votes, although it bit them sometimes – Tower Hamlets – overall it benefited Labour hugely.

    Why have Conservatives not reversed law: The Fraudulent Vote Repeal Bill (2010)? (2015)? (2017)?

    Mike Greene was Brexit Party candidate in Peterborough.

    Decent bloke, unlike the anti-Semite sour faced Labour harridan who won on postal votes. Any 5+ all from same 1 bedroom flat?

    Did I mention Postal Votes?

  3. “I think of myself as someone just deploying their comparative advantage.”

    This might be a problem. /snark

    But, hell, yes. That last para; it’s not just getting old; there’s something peculiar going on with the world, somehow, and not quite being able to figure out which way to jump. Tabarrok stuck a post up wrt to Baumol this week, and something clicked. But it wasn’t my knees.

  4. My bold. Anyone translate into legible English?

    I think they mean 69.4 % of postal votes went to labour. To be expected as probably about 50% of them came from the same two houses or something.

  5. 69% is typical for postal turnout, I’ve been doing elections since about 1995 and it is typical for postal turnout to be twice in-person turnout. The sort of person likely to apply for a postal vote is more likely to be somebody who is going to vote – that desire to vote creates the higher propensity to get a postal vote.

    What has changed is the proportion of the electorate that has a postal vote. In the 1990s I could buy a couple of books of stamps to write to all postal voters in a ward of 13,500 electors. Nowadays about 15%-20% of the electorate have a postal vote, posting a letter to all of them would smash through the spending limit.

  6. Although I now live in New Zealand, I still have a postal vote in my old constituency. I am glad that I did not hold my breath waiting for my ballot paper for the Euro elections as it did not arrive until the 30th May,a full week after the poll. On asking for the reason for the delay, it was blamed on the printers although it was claimed that they were sent out on May 2nd. Apparently some voters from my constituency living in France experienced the same problem.Just as well the right person was elected.

  7. I used to have a postal vote because I was in the Merchant Navy, but it usually turned up on board too late as I had to have it sent via Head Office where they would put it in an envelope to be sent to the ship through a Port Agent. I did request that the Returning Officer send it as early as possible because of the delays involved, but had little luck.

    I think the system should be reviewed and requests for postal votes vetted to ensure that the person requesting it has a valid reason for doing so.

  8. The people running the country are generally people who are far more mindful towards conformism than curiosity. Nearly all of them come from conformist backgrounds where jumping the right hoops are more important than breaking rules (like getting a PPE, working as a lawyer) and being a member of a political party is part of that. You don’t even get to be a councillor if you’re a bit leftfield in your opinions.

    There’s some things that are debatable, but you get things like HS2 where supporting it makes you as bad as the shape-shifting lizard conspiracists and homeopathy fruitcakes. Seriously, the original benefits estimates are now outweighed by the remaining costs. If you support that, you’re a total moron who should be a trolley boy, not anywhere near the levers of power.

  9. From the EC web-site
    Peterborough Postal Votes as a % of valid votes
    2010: 20.5%
    2015: 21.6%
    2017: 24.1%
    Not seen the 2019 numbers go up yet for this constituency. Just under 15k postal ballots were issued so high 60s% of that is going to make a bigger difference to the outcome of a by-election depending on the composition.

  10. @DJ
    I think they mean 69.4 % of postal votes went to labour.

    No, I think they mean 69.4% of people who had a postal vote exercised it (compared to 48% of personal voters). Probably >90% of postal votes went to Labour (though the numbers will never be published).

    Postal votes suffer from the same problem as other votes not cast in a polling booth (including Internet votes, though they haven’t properly reached the UK yet). No-one can bribe or coerce a vote in a polling booth, because they have no way of knowing how it was cast. You can offer me a million quid or threaten the life of my first born to vote Labour, but I can simply put my cross where I like and lie to you about it afterwards.

    For this reason, absentee voting must be tightly controlled and restricted to those with a demonstrable need for it.

  11. I continue to be amazed at the lack of attention paid by the Conservatives (who are clearly the main losers) to the Postal Vote issue. Similarly the issue of students voting in their university towns where they conceivably leave a month later having stuffed the locals with a labor MP (Canterbury). Calling a snap election in the last few weeks of term was only one of a host of naive and stupid things TMs ship of fools did. Anecdotally I know of ‘lots’ who voted twice while others picked whichever constituency (home or ‘uni’) was more likely to return a labour candidate with their vote for Corbyn to end their student debt.
    Meanwhile I found that I didn’t get a voting card for the European Elections. Perhaps I missed a form I was supposed to fill in? Suspicious that requiring people to ‘opt in’ is a device to skew the electorate to the committed left and those who have people to organise their votes for them?
    Assuming he gets in, Boris should immediately put someone like Peter Lilley in to head up the Electoral Commission and sort this sh*t out.

  12. @Mark T June 10, 2019 at 3:11 am


    Conservatives are useless on electoral issues; 9 years on and the boundary reviews and/or cutting MP numbers has still not been done.

    Re Peterbourgh

    Convicted Vote-Rigger Out Campaigning Today For Labour In Peterborough

    A key Labour campaign team organiser previously sent to prison for helping to rig an election in Peterborough, has been hired again by the Labour party and today is out ‘influencing’ votes in the Peterborough by-election.

    In 2018, Tariq Mahmood, now 51, was convicted alongside fellow Labour members Maqbool Hussein and former Peterborough Mayor Mohammed Choudhary for forgery over a devious scheme to fabricate votes for the Peterborough City Council election of June 2004.

    The four-month case that saw Mahmood (a Labour Party Secretary) sentenced to a 15-month porridge stint cost the taxpayer a whopping £850,000.

    “They were able to get hold of postal votes and proxy votes which belonged to voters in the Central Ward,” Prosecuting QC Anthony Leonard said. “They arranged for postal votes and ballot papers to be sent not to the voter but to addresses which each defendant was connected”…

    Hmm, do those names indicate a certain electorate demographic/multiculture?

    Labour copying Dems and Sin Full motto – “vote early, vote often”?

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