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February 20, 2007



[Is all this just vindication of the tendency of economics to use maths you don't know to explain facts you do know?]

no, it's the tendency of economics to use maths you don't understand to explain facts that ain't so. I don't see the evidence that politicians are systematically low-quality people by any reasonably metric.

Marcin Tustin

Even if we accept that politicians are low-quality people, then what makes you conclude that this isn't just using maths you don't know to explain facts you do? Do the papers relate their models to known facts about how political institutions operate?

In any case, I have to agree with dsquared: As you so often point out, many members of the cabinet are very bright indeed, but nonetheless act as duffers once in office.


Since I can't tell whether y'all are using "mediocre" in the style of a sports commentator, implying "rubbish", or with the meaning once ascribed to it by educated folk (middling, near the median), it seems otiose to comment.


I notice interestingly that out of the Top 10 list you link to, 6 are women. Given that this is a disproportionate amount in relation to the number of female MPs compared to male MPs, could this say anything about the earnings of women and women in field of politics? Err... that's it.

Mark Wadsworth

Katherine, that is brilliant.


Isn't the whole point of this blog that it's not about the individuals, but about their incentives, interests, organisational environment, and cognitive framework?


Well thanks. Erm, why?


Apologies in advancce for filling your comments box up with links to my own blog (though one is a link to a post that you had a passing involvement in).

I think that, in your interview on Direct Democracy - here....


... you are hugely overstating a fairly crude Public Choice Theory interpretation of why people go into politics. I don't think that Political Parties recruit 'mediocre people' because they can't get high-flyers to run for them. I think that people with certain attitudes and certain talents are able to survive in political parties, are able to get selected, and able to get themselves elected.

In the Labour Party, the 'roundhead' mentality that I've covered here...


... is very well represented. These people are not flocking to work for lobbyists, and often will move from high-paid lobbying jobs to lower-paid jobs as MPs.

I may be being a bit presumptive here, but I can think of one prominent Labour blogger who is currently a lobbyist, who would - I suspect - be prepared to amputate at least one of his gonads for a Westminster seat. And both gonads for a safe one.


He may correct me on this though?

Also, as an admirer of Charles Clarke - one who wishes that he'd put the wind up Irn Broon by standing against him for the Labour leadership, I'm very upset at your continued linking of physical beauty and career success.


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