Thursday, January 05, 2006

Political 'tests' and online surveys

Right, it's all Chris's fault, he started it. Then another Chris decided to join in, and Gav joined the bandwagon. Thing is guys? It's, um, a little old hat. Did it back in October. As always, I put it on the Journal, but in this case I think I'll repeat a bit of my comment on it here:
Essentially, I'm strong on social freedoms, but strong on social protection. The problem with these things is it judges a desire to give a safety net and an equal start to everyone as being economically controlling, and makes me non economically permissive.

Wrong! I'm a strong believer in the principles of a market economy, the Market is undoubtedly the most efficient means of distribution and exchange yet discovered, and it's pretty good with assessing the value of an individual product, as long as it is a functioning market.

The thing is, I don't believe in corporate ownership, and would rather shop in small, local businesses than chain stores whenever possible. But every tick in favour of controls on corporations makes me "less" in favour of economic freedoms. This isn't tied to online tests, it's endemic within commentary on economics. It's assumed you're either 'Left' or 'Right' economically, there doesn't seem to be any understanding of the difference between social justice, fair trade and a functioning market analysis.
It is the natural order of a capitalist market to merge and acquire, potentially leading to oligopolies, cartels and anti-competetive practices. In order for a market to continue to function, you need a system of preventing cartels. The best way to do this is to decentralise, and rely on small to medium sized businesses for your economic backbone.

These simplistic online tests assume that because I believe in a strong safety net and because I'm not a fan of massive conglomerates that I'm economically controlling. I'm not, I ideally want to take economic power away from the centre and the state as much as possible. I'll stop repeating myself now.

Instead, I'll point out that Paul and I also did Chris Lightfoot's Political Survey thing during the election campaign, and I didn't note at the time but will now; Chris? You've got socialist and free market as being polar opposites. They're not, socialism is a system of ownership, a market is a system of distribution and exchange, you mean socialist vs capitalist; not all capitalist economies are market driven, and socialism (note the small 's') doesn't preclude a market as a system of setting value; Socialism and Marxism do, but they're not the only systems you can have.

Oh, on the grounds that Livejournal allows a much better category system than Blogger, if anyone wants to read my more light hearted and/or older pre-blog observations, they're here:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/matgb/tag/politics

7 comments:

chris said...

I had a similar problem with the Political Survey 2005, being both Eurosceptic and rehabilitationist, considering hanging and flogging to be something purely for consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes.

When I write socialist I generally do mean Socalist (with a big S) but am rather lazy with the shift key. I think that you will agree that I'm not the only one to do this since centralised, big state, big S Socialist is generally what is ment by this. This is just as in the US when people say liberal they will not think of big L Liberalism but rather big S Socialism.

chris said...

that should be 'but with the Political Survey 2005'

gavin ayling said...

I did the test once before but I think it's important to remind people that there is a difference between being a Liberal and a libertarian.

I have to take issue, though, with your claim of being economically non-controlling while simultaneously wanting to restrict the success of a business that isn't a monopoly.

Supermarkets are the perfect example. People complain about the way they treat their suppliers, they complain that they're funding school construction and that they use loss-leaders... But at the same time everyone uses them.

Democracy should also extend to the market - if you are buying goods for your own consumption you have a choice not only about where you shop due to price but where you shop based on your moral principles. That people are overwhelmingly happy to shop at Tesco and Sainsbury instead of visiting several small shops (butcher, green grocer etc) is due to the convenience, cost and convenience of locale...

If people don't like supermarket power then they shouldn't spend their money there.

Of course, at the same time, there is the occasional business that overextends itself and acquires dangerous amounts of power but there are no private enterprises in England that come to mind and suit that description right now... (though the monopolies set up by rail privatisation and referred to in this week's Spectator should have been corrected by now).

So, if you believe in controlling how non-monopolistic / aggressive-oligopolistic companies can expand and market themselves then you are in favour of economic controls and not economic freedom. Ergo, you are not a free market advocate...

MatGB said...

Well, technically, I'm a fair market advocate, which is slightly different but very similar.

However...
So, if you believe in controlling how non-monopolistic / aggressive-oligopolistic companies can expand and market themselves then you are in favour of economic controls and not economic freedom. Ergo, you are not a free market advocate...
If they're genuinely non-monopolistic, no problem. I shop in Tesco normally because the Metro 5 minutes walk away contains most of the products I like.

But the Somerfield ten minutes walk away stocks Quorn ham, which Tesco only stocks in larger stores. It also stocks a better variety of Green and Blacks chocolate. Competition is good. Boycotting Sainsbury's is also good.

Of course, at the same time, there is the occasional business that overextends itself and acquires dangerous amounts of power but there are no private enterprises in England that come to mind and suit that description right now.

Currently, I agree. But I've no doubt that's partially due to regulation and monopolies and mergers commission stuff. Specifically, the potential merge between Ottaker's and Waterstones really bothers me, Ottaker's is successful, the owners seek to cash in and sell up, but not for business lead reasons. Yes, another business could set up to compete, but in the meantime I'm stuck with just Waterstones in the 4 local towns. If it happens.

In a slightly different example, look at the difficulty other OS and browsers are having breaking into the market; M$ is so dominant some people don't know about other options at all.

Besides, to me, it's all about ownership; I'm a strong advocate of market led socialism on the John Lewis/co-op models.

I take it you got my belated ping? I must remember to send them more...

Chris Lightfoot said...

You've got socialist and free market as being polar opposites. They're not[.]

You've made a fairly common error here. I didn't choose the axes -- they're derived from the data. In the British electorate, socialism and the free market really are polar opposites (if that's how you characterise y>0 and y<0).

MatGB said...

Ah, so it's perception and survey data only.

Hmm, people perceptions need changing then, last I looked, John Lewis was still owned by its workers and operating in the market.

Still, good to see you checking your linkage again ;-)

Anonymous said...

Learn how to use adsense code on your site to make money online. 5 Star Ideas has lots of resources and articles for online marketers. Check out this month's featured tools on how to make money with adsense.