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Monday, 4 June 2007

My political compass!

Some fun test. I got this political test from one of my favorite economics blogs. The test measures your views on the right/left and authoritarian/libertarian axes. The results section plots where you stand and you can see where you stand relative to contemporary and historical figures.

It turns out I am an authoritarian lefty - but still a good distance away from Bob and Stalin! Prior to the test, I would have thought I was slightly centre right. Oh well...I would be interested to know yours (only takes 5 minutes to do).

15 comments:

  1. Cho,
    Interesting survey, I may have to pass the questions over to some psychologists to assess if there is a detectable underlying "framing effect" in the phrasing of the questions. I personally tend to balk at survey formats which do not allow for a neutral stance on a particular question, and prefer ones which include both a "don't care" and "don't know" option.

    My results put me at about the same degree left of centre as you, and below the line toward libertarianism to about the same degree as you are above it. Thanks for linking to the test, it was fun.

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  2. Yakima,

    you are a libertarian lefty!
    very interesting! I did suspect that!

    I agree, these sorts of surveys tend to be imprecise..i think you are absolute right about "neutral" answers. Often as I went through them I had to debate a lot with myself.

    In general, though I agree with it that i am slightly authoritarian - as I think the preservation of society is more paramount than the preservation of individual freedoms. Fundamentally I don't believe that society is necessarily the aggregate of individual preferences. Its much more than that.

    I am slightly unsure about the "lefty" score. I would say I have just a slight preference for individual actions than collectivism. Government certainly has a role to play to make markets work better, but I do believe that the greatest failures in the economic system emerge from Government actions (Government failure) as opposed to inaction (market failure).

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  3. I just did the test...I must say I'm rather disappointed! I was hoping to be right in the middle, but it turns out I'm a Libertarian Left...!

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  4. I was -1, -3.

    The definition of middle is really fluid, of course.

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  5. "I was hoping to be right in the middle, but it turns out I'm a Libertarian Left...!" - Manena

    I am surprised that you are surprised! lol!! As a regular reader of your blog...I can say with some confidence that you are certainly a "lefty" :)
    Also you are definitely a libertarian. I know Obama is slightly to the right of the Democratic party (he has the Romers as his economic advisers), but still pretty left overall and very libertarian - and I know you a disciple :)

    "I was -1, -3.

    The definition of middle is really fluid, of course".
    - Error

    I think we can assume you are a libertarian centralist...with Yakima's caveats of course.

    09 June 2007 08:35

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  6. My score was:

    Economic Left/Right: -5.88
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.46

    Or 'Beyond Gandhi', as I like to see it. :)

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  7. "Beyond Gandhi" -Mrk

    Sounds like the title of an action flick!
    "He's back, he's bad, and he's NOT turning the other cheek, MrK IS, Beyond Gandhi!" :)

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  8. MrK,

    Very revealing.

    I always thought you were very left of the centre...you have always prefered collectivism over individual actions.

    I am suprised though that you are an extreme libertarian...
    In a way it is good because it shows that you oppose foreign ownership not for being foreign per se but because you don't see how it helps advance the freedoms of individual Zambians....

    As for me I am a centralist authoritarian. So if anything to me Zambia is more than the summation of individual parts. I am quiet happy to sacrifice your liberty for the national cause :)
    But when it comes to delivering the correct solution, I do not have faith that the Government can deliver better than market solutions. I think there about equal and it is the case of getting the right model.

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  9. Cho,

    Thanks. :)

    " I always thought you were very left of the centre...you have always prefered collectivism over individual actions. "

    I don't see that. I am interested in creating a huge middle class of small and medium sized companies.

    What the test may have picked up is that I am more than willing to see the state kick this new environment off, through mine ownership, legislation, works projects to develop the infrastructure, etc. Just because you want to create a true free market full of competition, does not mean you have to be laissez faire about the creation of that market. :)

    So in government involvement, I lean far less toward Stalin and far more toward FDR.

    I am suprised though that you are an extreme libertarian...

    I am a social libertarian - I think most things (1) consenting (2) adults get up to is no business of the government. I think most intoxicating substances should be legal for adults and the process of hunting them down causes society a lot of harm.

    I am not an economic libertarian. I don't believe in the goodness of corporations, even in the long run. The government is most definitely needed to keep free markets free by preventing monopolies, which usually means breaking up corporations into smaller companies.

    Also, free markets do not exist without the majority of the population having the opportunity to join or leave any (literal or figurative) market place any time they choose. A 'free market' of corportations and social elites is no free market at all. And pre-existing economic barriers (like skewed land ownership patterns) don't dissolve themselves without government help, unlike what the neoliberals think.

    And you are right, I don't think badly of foreign companies because they are foreign, but because under this government's IMF driven policies, they are given huge advantages over domestic businesses, which makes absolutely no sense. Especially the foreign corporations are a net drain on the economy and compete against local producers by not buying their products.

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  10. MrK

    "What the test may have picked up is that I am more than willing to see the state kick this new environment off, through mine ownership, legislation, works projects to develop the infrastructure, etc. Just because you want to create a true free market full of competition, does not mean you have to be laissez faire about the creation of that market."

    Very good point.

    It actually illustrates what many people miss in analysis (and certainly difficult to pick up in surveys of this kind). It’s a form of what Dani Rodrik calls "procedural fairness". As individuals we are concerned not just about the outcome but how that outcome is reached.

    I am a social libertarian - I think most things (1) consenting (2) adults get up to is no business of the government. I think most intoxicating substances should be legal for adults and the process of hunting them down causes society a lot of harm.

    Like my friend Osama

    http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2007/06/positive-step-for-our-children.html

    I sense that you too prefer positive incentives over negative ones. So for example if you found smoking was bad, you would not like a ban, but you would like incentives for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle e.g. low subscriptions for gym membership and other health clubs etc.

    "I am not an economic libertarian. I don't believe in the goodness of corporations, even in the long run. The government is most definitely needed to keep free markets free by preventing monopolies, which usually means breaking up corporations into smaller companies."

    Yes you are less trusting of the world around us! The invisible hand for you comes alive and terrorises the villages!! :)


    "And you are right, I don't think badly of foreign companies because they are foreign, but because under this government's IMF driven policies, they are given huge advantages over domestic businesses, which makes absolutely no sense."

    I felt this was an important point to make because in your exchanges with Anonymous and my friend, I felt there was some misunderstanding on where you were coming from. I guess tests of these kinds do serve some limited usefulness after all :)

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  11. Yes you are less trusting of the world around us! The invisible hand for you comes alive and terrorises the villages!! :)

    Or pollute them (Kabwe). Or drive out all the mom 'n' pop stores without the corporation needing to make a profit, just to get a bigger market share (Walmart).

    Or destroy competing operating systems without their operating system being the best operating system, by just having a better marketing policy (Microsoft - although I'm a little ambivalent about Microsoft; there is a huge advantage to the compatability that Windows brings, but it always amazes me, as a monopoly, how bad an operating system they can get away with bringing to market; I started out computing on the Commodore 64 and then the Amiga 600, which did incredible things with a 7 mhz processor and no harddrive; it's total operating system fitted on an 880 kilobyte floppy disk; it did this by a complete synergy between the sound chip, the video chip, the cpu and the operating system, Kickstart; with Microsoft, you need to buy a new computer every other time you upgrade your operating system; every time you buy a new computer you think it is 10 times faster than the one you own looking at the specifications, only to find that the new OS makes it slower than your previous computer).

    Or turn their security force into an army of mercenaries (Haliburton).

    And generally become a nation within the nation, with huge power over politicians and huge legal resources to exhaust their competition in court.

    The supremacy of the corporation rings in the end of free competition.
    Their ultimate goal is to establish a monopoly. No company or investor wants to see competition to their company. It costs them a lot of money, while their mandate is to maximize profits. Plus, while they are in a state of free competition, their objective is always to beat the competition.

    The way I see it and as a rough guideline, left to it's own devices, an economy or market goes through three stages

    1) an undeveloped market
    2) free competition
    3) monopolisation

    Without intervention free markets are not a permanent state, but a snapshot of a market or product's development.

    In other words, ironically, free markets need government intervention to exist and remain free. Or even to come into existance (through educating potential entrepreneurs and employees, for instance).

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  12. "In other words, ironically, free markets need government intervention to exist and remain free. Or even to come into existance (through educating potential entrepreneurs and employees, for instance)."

    I agree with you to a certain extent that the market has its own limitations from large monopolies that abuse its dominance to "missing markets" that should exist but can't and there need a Government push.

    However, it remains my central belief that Government like any instution is more or less a product of the market, as opposed to the market being a product of Government. The Government comes into existence only in as far as society needs it to solve those things that enables the market to operate.

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  13. Just speaking for Europe. But there was government in and before the middle ages. There used to be a kings, who through an aristocracy and functionaries would collect taxation from their lands, so they could finance their own existence and expansion of their kingdoms through war.

    So even before there were markets, there was government. Government can exist completely through taxation. Markets on the other need rules, legislation, protections and security, insurance.

    But if simple barter back in the day would count as a market, then I'd be wrong about that. :)

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  14. What I was attempting to say (rather clumsily) in my last post, was that there are examples of societies that have governments and no markets.

    Communist countries, and feudalism before the ascent of mercantilism in Italy after the middle ages would be examples of that, I think.

    So I think government is not necessarily a product of the market.

    But I'm on shaky ground here, because who knows when markets truly begin. But certainly there were governments before mercantilism. :)

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  15. MrK,

    "But if simple barter back in the day would count as a market, then I'd be wrong about that."

    Yes! The Barter system is market.
    Market by definition is a form of "exchange". How you exchange varies. Money was simply invented to ease the process of exchange.

    "But I'm on shaky ground here, because who knows when markets truly begin. But certainly there were governments before mercantilism"

    Yes very much :)
    Mercantilism and pure exchange are different of course.

    Only in the Garden of Eden was there no exchange.

    After that people engaged in exchange. The degree of exchange of course varies, but it emerges out of the scarcity of the resources around them and the diversity of human preferences.

    Joseph in Egypt was of course our first economist :)

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