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August 07, 2008


Luis Enrique

I could quibble that a handful of anecdotal bad hires is compatible with a 95% good hire rate .... but never mind.

I'd love to see a test of whether, as in your example, getting onto a graduate training programme if you're dim gives you a better path than that of a bright person who misses out. It's about how many chances there are for the dim & bright to be found out and rewarded accordingly, subsequently. Strong path dependency is intuitively appealing, but you can also tell the opposite story, wherein there are many opportunities to changes paths - although that story is much easier to tell for a bright, hard working middle class person than for somebody stuck in a sink estates. It might be asymmetric too - investments banks are probably better at weeding out incompetents than they are at hiring bright outsiders.

I wonder if it would be meaningful to try to quantify the strength of path dependency (a sort of more fine grained measure of mobility) and see how it varies with, say, initial income.

Ideas of Civilisation

I think you make a fair point - there are so many things in life that are random and luck.

Of course there is the old adage that people can 'make' their luck, perhaps by being more confident, taking more risks, etc.

Sport is a good example in many ways. It's hard to argue that Pele or Maradona (or nowadays players like Ronaldo) were anything other than great players. If their life was played over again they would certainly still be famous footballers.

But the games that defined their career could so easily have gone the other way. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't recognise and appreciate talent, simply that we recognise success is at least part chance/luck.

And as for the tax system there was an American philosopher called John Rawls who proposed a theory called 'the veil of ignorance'. In essence this hypothesises what would happen if we had to design a tax system BEFORE we knew how are lives would turn out.

In other words people would have to do it knowing that they could be poor and in need of help. And if that was the case do we think we'd have the same tax system as we do now?


Ideas of Civilisation...
not to mention injury.


Luis Enrique...
The is something else missing from this story - co-dependency. Maybe there is such a thing as a power behind the throne - the good front man welded to the good ideas man, both being useless without the other.


I filled a temporary job once by giving it to a cousin; he proved to be excellent. The other obvious possibility was to have appointed Brown, G. It's a pretty meagre boast, but I have more sense than the Labour Party.

John M Ward

Interesting that Gordon Brown is (rightly) included in the list...

For all that Oakley has done (and it is indeed bad) at least only one person was targeted. With Brown, tens of millions have been negatively impacted.


And of course, there's nothing to actually demonstrate that Oakley would not have turned out to be a fine MP.

His actions made him a lousy candidate.

There's a difference.

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