Thursday, 31 October 2013

A Very Simple Error By Researchers That Should Know Better


The LSE (the London School of Economics) recently published a drastically flawed report on Labour's spending from 1997 to 2010 entitled Did Labour's social policy programme work?.  Their conclusion is that it did work - and they proffer several examples of why this is the case (a conclusion supported by The Guardian's Polly Toynbee in this article). Now I fully expect Polly Toynbee to be getting things like this wrong - she is very prone to this - but the drastic flaw that underlies the report is not something one should expect from the researchers at the LSE.

Here’s what's wrong with it (and I had to read it twice to make sure I hadn't missed it somewhere in the text - but I hadn't) - in asking whether Labour's spending from 1997 to 2010 'worked' it fails to mention what should be the most important part of the inquiry - what it actually means to say spending 'worked'. Reading between the lines, all the report says is that Labour spent more on X, Y and Z, and as a consequence had more of X, Y and Z.  Well 'No kidding!' Sherlock! - but that doesn't tell us whether the spending worked, and it is certainly no justification for claiming that the period from 1997-2010 was successful spending by Labour.

The way to measure whether spending has brought about value for money is by what is called ‘consumer surplus’ - which is the amount spent against the perceived value of the thing purchased. Suppose that tomorrow Pete gives Ted £75 and tells him to buy something on which he thinks Pete would have willingly spent the money. With the £75 Ted spends all the money on a portable DVD player. If Pete would have paid £100 for the portable DVD player and he actually paid £75 (via Ted) then the consumer surplus is £25. When a consumer has £25 consumer surplus that means £25 of consumer surplus has been contributed to society, and the spending has therefore 'worked'. If Pete would only have paid £30 for the £75 portable DVD player then Ted's spending hasn't 'worked' for Pete.

To apply that to government spending and taxpayers' benefits; the more the societal consumer surplus the more the Labour government's increased spending has 'worked'. It's true the Labour government spent a lot on education, health, transport, home affairs, and so on, but the spending could only be deemed to be successful if what was spent on these things was less than, or at the very least equal to, what would have been spent by consumers.  In the same way that I asked whether Pete had consumer surplus on the portable DVD player transaction, the LSE reasearchers should not even begin to assess whether Labour's spending 'worked' without asking the most important question of whether the taxpayers had consumer surplus on the Labour spending.

In other words, it just won't do to ask whether Labour's spending provided increased education, health, transport and home affairs benefits - the only important thing is whether the spending provided a level of improvement that would have been optimally chosen by the taxpayers, or whether they'd have been better off with lower spending and more money in their pockets.

Let's return to Pete's situation to show how silly the inquiry is without considering consumer surplus; if I take £150 out of Pete's bank account, and buy him a portable DVD player on Amazon for which he would have only paid £100, then the spending hasn't worked for him. It would be ridiculous of me to then publish an article saying my spending had 'worked' for Pete because he increased his expenditure on Amazon and got a brand new portable DVD player in return. That's what the LSE have done - it's an error one wouldn't expect from them. Instead of asking whether the 'beneficiaries' would have willingly paid for the things on which Labour spent all that extra money the LSE asked what Labour wanted the taxpayers to get from government spending, and then concluded that because Labour wanted them to get the extra expenditure on education, health, transport, home affairs, then that spending must have worked. That is the kind of inquiry that is beyond ineffectual.

Two further things. In the first place, I actually think a lot of Labour's spending between 1997 and 2010 was wasteful - too much of it went to costly PFI groups, over-expensive consultants and general profligacy, and not enough of it went on the front line services.  And in the second place, it seems clear to me that the enquiry to work out whether the taxpayers attained an overall surplus on Labour's spending is an all-but-impossible pursuit - given the level of, and presumably largely differing, opinion needed to be solicited, and then measured up against actual costs and benefits of the spending in every area - no research group would ever get a handle on such a complex nexus.

So in all probability, even if the LSE had sought to include the very essential 'consumer surplus' factors on which the inquiry should have hinged, they would have found that such an enquiry was too complex to elicit even near-precise conclusions, which renders their research project "
Did Labour's social policy programme work?" ineffectual and inadequate to the task.

 * Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Cult Escapology

Here's a link to an interesting article on the science, research and technology news website phys.org.

 
Quote: "Sociologists have known for a long time that groups tend to come together when they face adversity," said social psychologist Stephen Benard, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at IU Bloomington. "What our research highlights is that there is a downside to our tendency to stick together when things are tough—powerful group members can exploit that tendency to distract us from competing with them."

Of course, one can't help but notice that a lot of this is going on in religious cults and creationist groups - the charisma and persuasiveness of the leaders (figures like Ken Ham who make accusations of heresy, and threaten Hell and Hamnation to defectors) engenders pliant, lionising and sycophantic behavioural tendencies in the flock, and in doing so it suffocates their enthusiasm to be critical or to put forward competing ideas. It is likely that the kind of phenomenon described in the article is the same kind of emotional mechanism that turns people into Hamnation-fearing chattel who've been divested of valuable intellectual, critical and emotional resources.

The kind of manipulation and misinformation of which the likes of Ken Ham are purveyors is incompatible with the intellectual, critical and emotional progression to which a great many humans are dedicated. The more that can be done to expose, counter and challenge these Ham-fisted dogmas, the more we will do to help those ensnared by that way of life to find a way out.

* Photo courtesy of www.patheos.com

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

100th Blog Post Special!


We’ve reached a milestone – this is my 100th Philosophical Muser Blog post  – so I thought I’d share a few statistics with my readers (all of whom I thank most sincerely for following me here in the backwaters of Blogosphere).

As many will know, we’ve covered a huge range of subjects and issues together in the first 100 Blog posts, and there’s plenty more to come. Here are some facts and stats for anyone who is interested: The Philosophical Muser Blog began on the 24th July last year, which means that in reaching 100 entries I’ve averaged one Blog post every 4.5 days for 15 months.

Three other stats:

1) The Blog with the most *likes* is The Potentially Unsolvable Enigma of Life & Love, which, at last count, generated 502 likes.

2) The most-viewed Blog posts are as follows:











And lastly....

3) The countries with the most viewers of the Blog are as follows:

1) United States
2) United Kingdom
3) Russia
4) Australia
5) Canada
6) Germany
7) France
8) Malaysia
9) South Africa
10) Indonesia

Other moderate size hitters include places as diverse as Israel, India, Jordan, UAE, Turkey, Austria, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, Honk Kong and Taiwan.

There have probably been a lot of new readers as the Blog has continued to run. To revisit some old posts or to look back to how it all began, this Philosophical Muser Magazine format is an excellent way to view the Blog in its entirety.

Thanks again for reading, and for all your continued support.

Best Wishes

James Knight (The Philosophical Muser)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Thanks Society - I Owe You One!



I’ve just seen this quote from Warren Buffett….

"I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned. When you're treated enormously well by this market system, society has a big claim on that."

My impression of Warren Buffett is that there is much to like about him. But his argument here, while containing a commendable ethos, isn't compelling. His argument amounts to this; "Without the existence of people in society I wouldn't be wealthy, therefore society has a big claim on my wealth". What he's perhaps overlooking (or underestimating) is that people in society have already gained from his wealth - so such a debt on those grounds is misjudged. When I buy my shopping at the supermarket, the store gains profit from the money I spend, but I gain the goods to consume. I get plenty for my money - in fact, if the gains were of lower value to me than the value of the money, I wouldn't have bought the goods. So it would be absurd if the Supermarket wrote to me the next day saying they owed me something because I'd helped contribute to their profits. Why don't I owe them something for their contributing to my consumption?

Generally speaking one doesn't automatically owe people something just because one benefits from an activity, even if the benefits wouldn't occur without the existence of the thing. I drive a Subaru - but one wouldn't say "Without the existence of Subaru I wouldn't drive a Subaru car therefore Subaru has a claim on my driving experience". If a neighbour plays an album loud that I happen to enjoy listening to, or cooks a BBQ that brings a pleasant smell wafting over the fence, I don't owe him anything. So generally speaking, I don't think a culture in which people are always talking about what they are owed is a healthy culture - it breeds not magnanimity, generosity and kindness, but awkwardness and resentful compulsion, which is never as good. I think a better way of saying what Warren Buffet said would be to say:

"I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned. When you're treated enormously well by this market system, it is good to give something back by way of generosity, magnanimity and kindness"

This transfers the emphasis away from thoughts of 'having' to pay back, into thoughts of 'wanting' to pay back. You can feel you have to pay something back without locating the benefits of wanting to pay something back, but you can't so easily feel you want to pay something back without that want being attached to the intrinsic benefits of good intentions. It's a positive circularity; to want to do good is to have noble intentions, and to have noble intentions is to want to do good.

* Photo courtesy of wiki.nus.edu.sg

Friday, 18 October 2013

Energy & Prices: Another Shambles From Ed Miliband's Labour


Regarding the 'energy price freeze' and 'energy price hike' issue - the Prime Minister is right on this one - Ed Miliband is behaving like an incompetent buffoon whenever he talks about the markets. Dozy Ed uses ill-informed terms like 'the right kind of market' and a 'broken market', which only serve to mislead people who can be convinced that politicians can have any genuinely positive control on prices (recall what happened when the old socialist Labour government tried to have prices set - it was a disastrous economy).

These are the three questions that should be asked;

Q1) Are energy prices really too high?

Q2) Are the energy companies making too much profit?

Q3) Should the market be interfered with by the government?

Whichever way you answer 1 and 2, the answer to 3 is a categorical no. If you answer no to Q1 then Q2 is also no, necessitating no market interference by the government (or shadow government) in the shape of a price freeze. If you answer yes to Q1 then it is likely that the answer to Q2 is also yes - the energy companies are making too much profit. Surely, then, the government should get together with Ofgem and regulate the prices to make energy more affordable, shouldn't they?

No, here's why. The primary purpose of a regulating body like Ofgem is not to get in bed with the government - it is to relinquish monopoly control (like that of British Gas in the 80's and 90's) and to protect the interests of consumers by ensuring a freely competitive market. And that is the prime argument against government interference - the free, largely unfettered market has an 'invisible hand' that guards against monopolies and excessive profits (provided there is just the right amount of light regulation*) - it doesn't need any other outside interference. In other words, if the principal goal really is to protect the interests of consumers by helping to bring about the best prices, then Ed Miliband should be after more competition not a price freeze.  In fact, I say this half-jokingly, but if politicians really do believe that energy profits are over-excessive, then why don't they strive to re-nationalise electricity and gas, and reduce the prices for consumers while at the same time generating a profit for the government?  More's the point, if that holds true for gas and electricity why doesn't the government nationalise everything - cars, clothes, beer, food - and make profits galore? I think we all know the reason why - and it is the same reason why, contrary to the photo below, they shouldn't get involved with the free market economy - supply and demand are what dictate prices.



If the energy companies do not have the government in their pockets, and if they really are earning excess profits, then provided there aren't too many regulatory barriers, this should create an opportunity for potential competitors to enter the market and charge less while still making a profit, because the very nature of a free market is that competition drives prices down to the level of the costs of the most efficient supplier. Ironically a price freeze would have two negative effects - it would cause a knee-jerk price rise prior to the freeze, but it would also deter those aforementioned more competitive businesses from entering the market, which then reduces supply, and harms consumers.


David Cameron is right on this issue - if any particular energy supplier seems too expensive, customers should look to switch to other suppliers who can offer a more reasonable tariff. If the government is to have any use in the free market, it is to ensure that Ofgem is doing all it can to protect the interests of consumers by ensuring a freely competitive market. If your own energy supplier seems excessive, then switch suppliers; if all energy suppliers seem excessive then there is either a cartel, or there is state collusion, or it just simply is the case that energy provision has an expense to justify such prices. The first two don't reflect well on the government or shadow government, and the third one does not justify any market interference. Whichever way we cut the cloth, Ed Miliband is talking rubbish here; what's needed is not a price freeze, it is a sensibly regulated but otherwise unconstrained market that generates competitive prices amongst suppliers and customer choice.  

With a freely competitive market economy it's a win-win. If prices remain high in a fiercely competitive market then you at least know that costs of providing energy are high, or demand is excessive, and excessive profits aren't being made; and if energy can be supplied at a more reasonable price by a competitor then you'll see prices go down.

* I say largely unfettered, because, of course, there will always be a small need for regulation in order to prevent cartels, monopolies, information concealment and fraud. Cartels fix prices, manipulate marketing, and set production, which is bad for consumers. Monopolies have too much market power in prices and services, and they prevent smaller firms from competing, particularly if the monopolising company has buying power that is attractive to the shareholders of smaller firms looking to compete, and is able to swallow up the competition.  Information concealment is detrimental to investors and consumers. And no one needs telling why fraud is bad. This is why some regulation is always needed; but make no mistake about it - too much regulation, which is what we mostly find from the left, is always bad for suppliers and consumers on the whole. What's offered from the left as economic medicine is actually in most cases poison.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Drug & Alcohol Addiction: Illness Or Life Choice?



Most academic papers I've read on alcoholism and drug addiction favour the view that they are more akin to an illness than a life choice.  The principal reason for this seems to be that such activity alters brain states in ways that are beyond the control of the users. This seems to me to be a flawed argument.  Just because an activity brings about physiological ramifications doesn’t mean that it should be seen as an illness.  Excessive sun-bathing alters the state of my skin beyond my control, and excessive junk food alters the state of my body weight beyond my control - but we'd be on dodgy ground if we tried to claim that sun-bathing and bad eating are illnesses rather than choices we undertake of our own volition.  If we are always cautious in exposing our skin to the sun, and always sensible in our choice of health foods, we can avoid the ill-effects that occur as a result of excessive sun-bathing and junk food.  Similarly, if we always drink sensibly and avoid drug taking we can avoid the ill-effects that occur as a result of indulging in excessive alcohol and drugs.

Given the foregoing, then, my feeling is that alcoholism and drug addiction constitute life choices, not illness or disease.  That said, I'm fully seized of the ways in which alcoholism and drugs upset the natural cognitive protocols, and disturb people's desires and needs. To that end there appears to be some kind of correlation between drug dependence and addiction, which may then be considered in accordance with psychological underpinnings (such as depression, absence of ambition, low self-esteem, myopia, and lack of confidence) of which these addictions are by-products.  I will even concur that addictive behaviour is a lot do to with genetic predisposition - as studies exhibit higher rates of addiction among monozygotic (identical) twins rather than dizygotic (fraternal) twins, which clearly suggests genetic factors. 

But the underlying truth seems to be that there is a lot of dogma circulated around the idea of alcoholism and drugs constituting illness or disease - and I don't think this is helpful because it leads many people astray by having them think that willingness to recover is powerless in the teeth of illness.  Hence, my position is that tough love is a very powerful tool of renewal so long as it is employed with kindness, love and grace. 

Individuals plagued by alcohol and drugs are often able to overcome their plight with sheer determination, persistence, and help and encouragment from others - I've seen it happen.  The key for them was that it was not seen as an illness for which they needed treatment, but as a life situation brought about by the willingness to participate in something physiologically, psychologically and socially destructive, and that the impact of this participation was sufficiently degenerative to elicit in the sufferer a diligent and galvanised approach to recovery.  Not everyone can manage this, but that doesn't mean what they have is an illness - it just means that the power of the will is hard to summon up.  I'm not that surprised; I think there is a lot of tragedy and pathos attached to being human - and we all struggle in so many ways. Drugs and alcohol taken in excess are two ways to anaesthetise people against the thrall of human pressure, hardship and tumult - and one can get so lost in them (as one can in religion or extreme politics or cupidity) as they can provide a numbing effect that partially negates the many psychological and emotional problems we face.  Realising these things amount to life choices helps us see that our destiny lies in our control – and this can only be a good thing in encouraging addicts to set themselves free and make a clean break, and in pre-empting potential addicts from ever going down such a destructive route in the first place. 

* Picture courtesy of care2.com

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Crime-Reduction/Abortion/Freakonomics: A Quick Rebuttal Of A Rebuttal



After my last Blog on the causal link between crime reduction and abortion posited in Freakonomics, someone sent me a link to an article by Steven Ertelt from LifeNews, in which he claims criminologist James Alan Fox has refuted the causal link (see here to read the attempted refutation in full).  There's so much wrong with the article that it's beyond ill-conceived. The attempted refutation can be boiled down to three principal statements, on which I'll comment below.

1) The study found homicides by blacks between the ages of 14 and 17 have jumped 34 percent from 2000 through 2007. If the unborn aborted babies would have been more likely to be future criminals then crime in the black community should have gone down not up.

MY COMMENT: Clearly this needn't be the case. I can conceive of a situation whereby abortions increase while at the same time an overall crime increase occurs in a certain sample space, where the abortion effect engenders a damage limitation effect with its reductions. If more black babies are being aborted yet twice as many more are being born or twice as many are getting involved in gangs then there is no inconsistency.

2) Nearly 60% of the decline in murder since 1990 involved perpetrators ages 25 and older-individuals who would have been born prior to the landmark abortion decision.

MY COMMENT: This statement literally doesn't make any sense. Declines in crime can't by definition 'involve perpetrators' - a crime declension simply refers to fewer recorded incidents. There are obviously no perpetrators in those crimes that weren't committed. The 60% reduction probably refers to the natural tailing off period, where people in older age groups (like late twenties and beyond) grow out of those bad habits, and after which obviously statistically commit fewer crimes. Here's what else is wrong with it - a growing up of a certain generation of people into the age at which they commit fewer crimes will be offset by a growing up of a certain generation of people into the age at which they commit more crimes, so one would cancel out the other, unless, as Freakonomics suggests, those would-be younger ones were no longer being born at such a rate. The above 60% argument doesn't refute the legalisation of abortion theory - it is perfectly consistent with it.

3) The abortion-crime link also cannot account for the transient surge in youth homicide during the late 1980s, if not for which the 1990s would not have witnessed such a sizable decline.

MY COMMENT: This is a spurious contention too - the abortion-crime link makes no claim to account for the transient surge in youth homicide during the late 1980s - it merely claims to have put a halt on continually increasing crime rates that seemingly would have escalated into the 90's, were it not for the sudden drop. Again, no inconsistency there.

Nothing we've seen in the article has gone any way to challenge the hypothesis put forward in Freakonomics - and one might be entitled to expect better from a criminologist.  The logic still stands; if a great many of the aborted youths would have been highly likely to commit crimes, and increased abortion in those communities did occur, then by definition there will be a reduction in crime in that area of study.

* Photo courtesy of diethylstilbestrol.co.uk 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Reduction In Crime: A Casual Link That No One Was Expecting


I was watching The Culture Show Malcolm Gladwell special on BBC2 the other day, and something struck me as strange. Jon Ronson and Malcolm Gladwell were discussing Gladwell's well known chapter in his best-selling book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, in which he had argued that the steep drop in the New York City crime rate after 1990 was primarily down to Mayor Giuliani's "zero-tolerance" policies. 

Ronson and Gladwell sat and deliberated over the strength of the causal link between Giuliani's "zero-tolerance" policies and the crime drop, with it being suggested by Ronson (and another contributor independently) that the causal link may not be as conclusive as Gladwell had propounded in his book. Gladwell responded with the admission that perhaps he might (stress 'might') have overestimated the causal link.

Here's what I found very strange about the whole encounter; it is very well known by readers of this particular type of modern social commentary literature that Mayor Giuliani's "zero-tolerance" policies were not the cause of the steep drop in the New York City crime rate after 1990. The cause was something quite startling - and I'm certain that Gladwell (and probably Ronson) would not have been unaware of what it is, as it was made known rather (in)famously in the excellent book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.

Can you guess what it was?
What Levitt and Dubner showed in Freakonomics is that it was legalisation of abortion in America that went on to have the biggest significance in reducing crime rates 15-20 years henceforward in the States in which it happened. Before 1973 abortion was illegal in all States in the America - but later in 1973 there was a court case (Roe vs. Wade), whereby (to cut a long story short) the consequent results of the judicial legal case yielded (soon after) the legalisation of abortion in about 5 states. This has fairly conclusively shown that there is cross-correlation, and that the legalisation of abortion was the single greatest cause of decrease in property crime, violent crime and murder.

In case you haven't worked out why - it's because the future criminals were no longer being born, they were being aborted.  Yes it's true, you did read me aright - legalising abortion meant that future criminals weren't being born, hence the drop in crime 18 to 24 years later. It was 18 to 24 because that is the peak of human crime life, so of course it followed that the cumulative age distribution curve for property crime, violent crime and murder matched the curves for the drops in rates of crime for these three offences in the five states, which is about as conclusive a pattern as you could wish to see.

I'm only telling you facts - of course, t
hat’s not an argument in favour of or against legalising abortion, nor does it involve any ethical judgements about abortion – it simply shows that good can come from bad, and why the moral worth of an action should not be determined by its resulting outcome, even though positive knock on effects occur where they are at the time unexpected. Furthermore, these weren't trivial drops in crime either; murder dropped by about 40%, and violent crime by about 35%.

It is not surprising that Malcolm Gladwell made the error of judgement in linking Giuliani's policies to the steep drop in crime - after all, two well known factors in crime reduction are an improved economic situation, and better policing coupled with more people in prisons (sometimes changes in law have an effect too, but most petty crime stats are fixed anyway, so one usually offsets the other). But once the rate of crime falling was known, it should have been more obvious that neither improved economic situation nor better policing were the catalysts for this reduction, because improved economic situations and better policing are highly unlikely to reduce crime by as much as 35-40% - it would take something much more significant.  Another compelling reason why decrease in crime cannot be explained by the improving economic situation of the time was that further studies showed that different economic progress in different areas did not cross-correlate with reduction in crime in those states. And better policing coupled with more people in prisons could not be the reason for the reduction in crime either, because, as before, not all places changed their policing or prison strategy, and changes were seen in many areas where there was no substantial reduction in crime.

What made the case all but conclusive was that the States of New York, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii all made abortion available three years earlier that the rest of the other States in the America. As a result, in ALL of these States, the downfall in crime rates started three years earlier than the other States. Additionally, the decrease in crime was most pronounced in the States that saw the greatest increase in the number of abortions.  All of these things lead to a pretty watertight case which shows the causal link to be very difficult to deny.

I've no idea why Ronson and Gladwell's conversation was devoid of the well known fact that legalising abortion was the primary cause in a future crime reduction (I say 'primary' because although legalising abortion wasn't the 'only' factor in the future crime reduction, it was the most significant factor). I know that Malcolm Gladwell questioned Levitt and Dubner's findings on the basis that the pill was introduced in the 1960s, and that that didn't seem to bring about future crime reduction, despite also being responsible for a lot of future people not being born. But it seems clear to me why this is likely to be the case, and why the pill did not have the same future effect as abortions. Quite simply, in all likelihood, the set that contained the kind of people who were taking the pill was a set that contained fewer people likely to produce future criminals than the set that contained people having abortions. This is backed up by numerous studies showing the link between family environment and criminality - that the demographic in which folk were more likely to have abortions (under-educated teenagers, those from broken homes, those from decadent provenances with poor social mobility, those in poverty, those dependent on welfare, those into petty crime, those that have drug or alcohol problems, and those that belong to gangs) - amounts to the same demographic in which there were folk from poor families, folk that are raised by single parents, teenage parents, uneducated parents and/or parents with drug/alcohol problems, and thus most likely to be future criminals.

Showing the causal link between legalisation of abortion and crime reduction stands as a good example of how one must never make precipitous assumptions about seemingly 'clear cut' causal links. Just about everyone thought that zero tolerance was responsible for the crime reduction - but as the studies documented in Freakonomics show - you just never know what's going to come out of the evidential woodwork.

* Photo courtesy of BBCiplayer

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

On The Myth That Thatcher Ruined British Industry

 
In a free market economy there is little place for national affiliation. If an employer has found 100 non-British workers who are willing to work for £3 per hour less than his 100 British workers, the nation is better off (as is the global economy), because before the non-British workers began to do the jobs, there were 100 potential workers each being overpaid by £3 per hour.  In a 40 hour week that amounts to a net overpayment of £12,000. In market economics, Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' states that competition brings about self-interest for the good of everyone, where prices near-perfectly match supply and demand.  Free market economy at a global level works well because hard workers, innovators, entrepreneurs and finance experts amount to different people, with a free market that enables them to coordinate their skills. It's no use being emotionally affiliated to an industrial factory that's costing us money just because it happens to be one’s own place of work, or because it happens to be based in one's own country. Thatcher's critics have got it backwards – she didn’t ruin the British economy - it is the efficiency of the relationship between prices, supply and demand that she used to help save the British economy. The northerners who are bemoaning post-Thatcherism fall largely into two camps; they are either people who really want to seize opportunities and as a result decided that after their industry has been outsourced they'll change vocations; or they are people who have decided that a life of paid leisure (albeit low income) is preferable to changing vocation or learning new skills.

Photo courtesy of lancha.deviantart.com
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