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March 02, 2016



At the same time, there's a lot of false dichotomising goes on as well.

Matt Moore

"There’s one view on the Brexit row that seems to me to be under-heard. It’s that whilst Brexit might be (slightly) economically damaging, this is a price worth paying for increased national sovereignty and a closing of the democratic deficit**."

This is my view (with the slight wrinkle that I see future UK growth as being more uncertain after Brexit - i.e. an increase in both upside and downside risk - but not lower in expectation).

But more generally on the point of trade-offs. *Given* particular institutional settings, it is reasonable for the economist to insist that there are trade-offs, with the TNSTAAFL principle and opportunity cost more generally being good guides to reality.

But when it comes to choosing those institutional settings, it's not obvious to me that trade-offs are necessary. I can easily imagine policies that are harmful on every dimension, so there must be policies that are the opposite, albeit they are harder to find clear cut examples of.


It is best not to worry about the EU farce. It has very little to do with anything important.

The Referendum is part of the war inside the Tory party between two groups of nasty shits. Cameron and the bulk of the Cabinet who have no real problem with the EU as is; and romantic fools who do. The vote is only a cause of destabilisation for the economy in that if there were a rejection of the Cameron deal it is unclear what would happen. We really have no idea. If the vote was to reject the deal would Boris be made PM without an election? What would he actually do if he was?
It is all uncharted territory and would be a mess. Would the Tory party split? This is what happens when people vote for far right lunatics.

The only rational choice is to abstain. If you vote for the Cameron deal you are voting to introduce irrational discrimination against workers from other EU Nations which has no moral justification or economic one either. If employers pay poverty pay and workers need a top up from the state there is no reason to deny it to Polish workers. And I will not be voting to cut child benefit payments to polish children as I do not see what moral right I have to impoverish them. As they may be future workers in the UK it is irrational to reduce the well being of our future employees! What we have is a meaningless choice between mean cuts and chaotic uncertainty. I am not going to waste my time on this manipulation of the ruling class, and neither should any of you.


I think the entire purpose of democratic politics is to manage Berlin's claim, to offer a vision of perfection and harmony whilst over-promising all the Great Goods. The reality is that the policy conflicts and inevitable economic ups and downs require regular twists and turns while the technique of robbing Peter to pay Paul attempts to smooth things out.

But suppose we replaced Westminster and political parties with an honest and open computer system 'Democracy' and that voting consisted of all the various 'sliders' and 'options' being adjusted in real-time by the populace - with the predicted and real results being made visible in real time. All the policy conflicts made immediately visible, the politicians (they never disappear) rousing the masses to vote this way or that to preserve their particular interests. Too depressing, bring back the political party and Westminster - and the Magadon.

Phil H

I'm with Metatone on this. The invention of silver linings and inevitable downsides is at least as common and as much of an intellectual sin.

In general, it seems to me that the people who are active in the out campaign are likely to be those people who think that Britain's economy won't be overly threatened. i.e. Those people who are interviewed probably do have the rather unlikely combination of views they profess, simply by selection.

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