Thursday, 9 August 2018

I'll Say One Thing For Corbyn: Thanks To Him I'm Never Short Of Blog Material

Global trade is the biggest cause of material progression the world has ever seen. When we Brits buy goods produced on foreign soils, we gain hugely, as do the foreigners that produce these goods. These are what we call ‘mutually beneficial transactions’. No surprise then that the perennially misinformed Jeremy Corbyn wants to upset this with his own hair-brained idea:

“A Labour government would seek to ensure we build things here that for too long have been built abroad", says Corbyn.

We’ve repeatedly talked about why this idea is both fatuously short-sighted, and damaging to the people he’s trying to help (most notably low income Brits) - but in case there are any readers who still haven’t grasped this, let me offer an analogy to higlight the utter buffoonery on display here. Just so we are clear what we are saying: Asserting that we Brits should buy home grown to make ourselves better off is logically equivalent to the reverse statement, that we must be worse off if we buy more from abroad than buying it domestically. If we are on the same page, now the analogy:

Suppose you get a job at Sainsbury’s, and you get paid 80% of your wages in cash and the other 20% in Sainsbury’s vouchers. Then imagine there’s a minister in charge of supermarkets who introduces a law prohibiting every Sainsbury’s worker from spending more than 25% of their vouchers. At the end of the year you’ve spent all the cash you want, you’ve spent your 25% voucher allocation, but you have in your drawer a stash of Sainsbury’s vouchers that the minister has made it illegal to spend. Has the minister done you a favour or not - ensuring you have a stash of vouchers you cannot spend? Almost everyone can see why the answer is ‘no’.

Let’s even assume he makes an attempt to rectify the situation by offering you a cash refund of 50% of the value of the vouchers. Has this helped? A little, but you are still in a much worse situation than if he let you spend all the vouchers you earn - or even better, if Sainsbury’s paid you your entire wages in cash and enabled you to spend it wherever you wanted. Making Brits buy home grown goods by restricting their ability to buy from abroad is equivalent to insisting that they are paid a proportion of their wages in vouchers that it is either illegal to spend, or less valuable than spending what they earn on the transactions that would confer the most benefits for them.

On the off chance that there's someone still following me who doesn't understand why socialists like Corbyn - and communists, young earth creationists, ethno-nationalists, for that matter - are missing the boat, let me articulate it in the following way. All subjects have experts: these experts have put in the hours over many years to master their subject. They know a lot more than the layperson - and therefore, when laypeople get into arguments with experts they invariably come off worse in the exchange.

Sometimes, especially in the social sciences, humanities, and philosophically intractable subjects, there are experts that disagree with other experts. That's why two experts that differ on, say, the extent to which we have free will, the nature of consciousness, or the nature of quantum theory can have very engaging discussions and still end up disagreeing. But it's relatively rare for a debate between an expert and a layperson to be engaging. This is because, by and large, the average layperson does not have the knowledge to match an expert on his or her subject of expertise. People who disagree with experts are usually far less informed, stubborn and so agenda-driven that they lack the basic ingress for rational persuasion.

So the people we mentioned - the socialists, communists, young earth creationists, ethno-nationalists, etc - are guilty of major solecisms against robust intellectual enquiry. Because, you see, you can guarantee that the experts with whom they disagree know a lot more about the subject than they do, have studied it for a lot longer, have lots more supporting information, have better access to facts, are more apprised of counterarguments, and are probably more intelligent and conscientious too. And yet despite all this, the average person, who knows comparatively little on the subject, thinks they are right and experts are wrong.

Now don't misunderstand, it always good to avoid complacency - and no one likes confounding so-called expert opinion and turning it on its head more than I do. But the vast majority of the departures from expert opinion from laypeople are hopelessly inadequate, and are simply based on lies and distortions of the truth. When you get people like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell happy to promulgate ideas that history has consistently (by which I mean always) shown to be rationally, empirically and logically discredited - and which depart from the long-standing and robust body of expert opinion, we have to ask some serious questions about how we've created a society that lets them get away with it so easily.