Political persuasion, personality and society: its all in the mix


The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben

We are all a curious mixture of personality traits, beliefs and values. When it comes to politics, one of those difficult dinner-party conversation topics that is often best avoided unless we are among those we know share our affiliations, we all tend to likewise hold such a mixture of viewpoints. While in the UK of today, some of us are lifelong voters for one particular political party, many are floating voters, with no strong affiliation, and targets for those who would weald power in government come an election.

In terms of personality and political views the floating voter may hold a range of opinions on politics, supporting policies coming from a range of parties. Continue reading

George gets his excuses in early


George Osborne

The UK finance minister, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, warned in a speech this week that the UK economy faced a ‘cocktail’ of risks this year from developments abroad. Weak commodity prices, sluggish or slowing growth, particularly in emerging economies, mediocre performance in the Eurozone, turbulence in financial markets and interest rate rise in the US could all have an impact.

Talk about getting your excuses in early! Once again, Osborne has proved that he is a canny and cunning political operator. Growth in the UK is forecast to slow slightly this year, and he is already trying to set the agenda by blaming this on events beyond his control. Continue reading

The public and the private in a flourishing economy and society

599px-The_Blue_MarblePublic broadcasting. The education system. Roads and railways. Research and Development. Law and order. National Security. These and other institutions fall under the definition of public goods in economics. They are non-excludable and non-rivalrous, in the lexicon. In other words, individuals cannot be excluded from their use, and use by one individual does not reduce use by others.

All of the above could also be called institutions. In any modern capitalist economy, these can be private, such as firms of various kinds, or public. Different nations strike different balances between the public and the private. In the UK, healthcare is mainly public, funded through general taxation. In the US, private healthcare dominates. The balance can be seen to be shaped by an interaction between various forces, such as the social, the historical or the economic. Continue reading