Monday, July 18, 2011

Worrisome glimmers.

It's not, given that it was a post on the CGT tax, the tax that worries me. I tend to trust Keith Ng on matters economic, given my limited knowledge of the field, he sounds very much like he knows what he's talking about. And he tends to focus on the numbers and whether they make sense, it doesn't appear to matter if they're coming from the left or the right. Which I like, to the point of almost wishing he would right more often.

No, the worries come about because they are silly. Keith was looking at some numbers that some commentators and politicians on the National party side of things were using or rather completely misrepresenting some numbers to argue against the CGT. It's the use of the straw man argument in politics. It happens on the left of the political spectrum, though not as much, as best I can tell. Or at least not quite so blatantly. In this case we have Steven Joyce (Minister for transport, IT and commuications, what? why is he stepping to the fore on finance? more to say on his various brands of idiocy later) getting a bunch of dubious numbers, running them through some inappropriate models and coming up with staggeringly large sums of debt that the CGT will result in. It's facile, it's creating a fictional boogie man and capering about proclaiming that the end is nigh! Bollocks. There's enough in Labours CGT policy that the right can attack without introducing a scooby doo ghost.

It happens a lot in American politics, the straw man argument. Not so much, but also in English politics. And now it's happening here. This isn't btw, the first time I've worried about this sort of thing. As best I can see, overseas, it's resulted in a massively indebted country that just doesn't function at the highest levels. Combine that with the National government's abuse of process (Internet copyright bill, Christchurch recovery emergency powers) and it all becomes very worrisome indeed. I've argued with friends before that what happens overseas is similar in kind but significantly smaller in degree compared to what happens overseas. Sadly that smallness in degree appears to be a result of our comparative smallness in size rather than any special competence on out part.

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