Or, that at least is what Geoffrey over at friendly rivals the Social Liberal Forum seems to think*.  This is what Clive Crook refers to (see last post) when he talks of debates deteriorating:

‘Opponents’ views are not worth examining; bad faith goes without saying’,

though I am not going to accuse Geoff of being ‘blinded by rage’.  But accusations that effectively rule your antagonist out of the debate, i.e. ‘Well, your opinions sound correct, but only because YOU DON”T THINK PEOPLE MATTER NAH NAH’ is an example of this problem.

So I could reply: ‘NEF: economics as if money grows on trees’.  But I won’t, and instead look forward to seeing more events of theirs at future conferences.  ( The ‘boring’ point is of course far more wounding.  But if ‘boring’ means ‘might be practical enough to be implemented outside a student commune” then maybe I’ll plead guilty) .

Incidentally, CentreForum does care about people (well, duh. Several people, in fact. Lots of them).  We don’t call for a delay on fiscal restraint just because the Conservatives are economically incorrect, but because their solutions would crater the living standards of millions of people. For further elucidation, read Aditya here:

What is the year haunting economists; the one they fear politicians are about to repeat? Not 1929 – we’ve already had our great crash. Nor 1933 – all those bank rescues, interest-rate cuts and emergency spending have staved off a depression. No, the year economic historians are talking about is 1937, when Washington declared the crisis over, began cutting spending and raising interest rates – and pushed the still- fragile US economy into a severe relapse.

Unlikely?  Not if you look at today’s figures (David Smith):

Just when the recovery story was going smoothly, along comes the Office for National Statistics to throw a huge spanner in the works. Manufacturing output slumped by 1.9% in August, it said, to the lowest point in the recession. Industrial production as a whole dropped by 2.5%

I’d report back on a fascinating discussion about public spending cuts with John Redwood, but am not sure yet how Chatham house it was.

*OK, the actual charge was ‘Centre Forum are preoccupied with “free markets”’.   Well, I’ve helped co-author 4 pieces so far, and none of them were really about free markets – more the institutions that constrain and shape markets, monetary, fiscal, international and Keynesian.  And markets are actually made up of people  . . .


2 thoughts on “CentreForum: economics as if people don’t really matter

  1. Just to let you know Giles that I am not “blinded by rage”, nor did I have you in particular in mind when I wrote the piece. However it is worth considering why Centre Forum and NEF are so different in style. Let me be more specific; one of the premises of CF is that economic growth is simply a good thing, and from that premise I do see little concern of the social and environmental impact of the growth, as though it really doesn’t matter.

    I was attempting to be balanced in my critique of CF and I did point out the good things CF do as well. I am in fact a member of CF and the subscription is quite a lot of money, so you are doing some things right (from my point of view) and there is no need to be quite so defensive.

  2. Hi Geoffrey

    First, I should have made clear that we’re very grateful for your support – it makes a big difference.

    On GDP we have to disagree – I was at a poverty event on Monday, & I can’t conceive of how we will end squalor deprivation w/o growth. It has to be more environmentally sustainable – but these do not have to be opposed (e.g. Thames, 1866 – Thames 2008)

    I guess Cf are premised on the notion that freedom inc economic is conducive to, not opposed to, progressive ends. I look forward to the debate


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