Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Intergenerational Economics
I suspect that this concept will come into political prominence in the next decade – and the Letwin Trial balloon may be one sign of this. LibDems should be preparing our ground on this theme..
It does link in with our concern for ‘Sustainable’ environmental and industrial policies – the concept that we do not pass on to future generations extra burdens by, in effect, borrowing from the future to pay today’s bills. I can see Conservative economists making good use of the sustainable economy concept here.
If we pass on costs to the future our current spending is not sustainable.
Do we have a Libdem economics forum to take this up?
For basic discussion of Intergenerational Economics see Niall Ferguson ‘The Cash Nexus’ pp 215-221 Ferguson maintains that most developed countries fiscal policies are indeed allowing current generations to die insolvent leaving debts to their descendents. Correcting this requires either steep cuts in government transfers or substantial increases in taxation.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

What HAS he been saying?
The weblog of Peter Black AM has been flagged as being 'in the pornography category', by the Open University Library webserver. Has the discussion of T****s *p for L****t got into details?

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'How spooks and Politicians get It wrong' is the them of a book by Richard Heuer profiled in the Observer on Sunday 8th. The entire text of The Psychology of Intelligence Analysis seems to be online.. Themes are:
Our Mental Mental Machinery
Tools For Thinking
Cognitive Biases
Conclusions: Improving Intelligence Analysis

It all looks very like what I spent over a decade doing as an OU Associate Lecturer. Trying to get Open University students to write real essays. Basic intellectual frameworks of setting real questions, marshalling evidence for and against, distinguishing between arguments (evaluating and comparing evidence) from catalogues of supposed facts, and re-evaluating the original question in the light of the evidence and argument. The disciplines that move people to honours degree level work.

One quote from the book:
>>>New information is assimilated to existing images.
This principle explains why gradual, evolutionary change often goes unnoticed. It also explains the phenomenon that an intelligence analyst assigned to work on a topic or country for the first time may generate accurate insights that have been overlooked by experienced analysts who have worked on the same problem for 10 years. A fresh perspective is sometimes useful; past experience can handicap as well as aid analysis. This tendency to assimilate new data into pre-existing images is greater "the more ambiguous the information, the more confident the actor is of the validity of his image, and the greater his commitment to the established view."(Jervis 1976)<<<
Citation is to Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976).

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Best British comedy competition highlights Yes Minister this Saturday (7th Feb 2004). The episode we should see of course is 'The Greasy Pole' about how to get the answer you want from a Public Enquiry. Get the video from the Liberal Democrat bookshop. As Jim Hacker discovers "even science can be open to manipulation – when the PM takes an interest. " But whatever, I've already voted.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Reflecting back on Jenny Tonge's troubles, some comments by Juan Cole may be relevant... he says (amongst other points) that the Israel/Palestine situation is
>>a Black Hole that sucks up time and energy with no obvious positive result, ever. I (Juan Cole) once compared having anything to do with it to "tangling with the Church of Scientology while living through someone else's nasty divorce." The problem is that everything one says about it is dissected to death until it doesn't mean anything anymore. And, most people in public life have frankly been intimidated into just being quiet about it... <<<
A posting with a viewpoint. It is in reponse to this posting by Matthew Yglesias...

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