Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fear Of The New

It can be bizarre to see how irrationally wedded to the status quo people are.

For example when US liberal blogger, Matthew Yglesias, draws attention to the insane use of occupational licencing in the USA- for things like cutting hair- hordes of commentators pour on arguing that it would be incredibly reckless to to allow people to become barbers and hairdressers without satisfying a regulatory board or otherwise they would be over run with " Lice, hepatitis, using hazardous substances".

I've never been given hepatitis by the people  who have cut my hair despite the lack of a similar regulatory regime in the UK. Whilst I wouldn't go as far as say Milton Friedman and end licensing for all professions including medicine, it is clearly a silly and wasteful practice in most cases.

Irrational fear mongering about the new brings me on to the impending referendum on the Alternative Vote. While there are legitimate causes for concern about AV*, the claims being made by the NO2AV campaign are scaremongering on a par with """"" unless you licence hairdressers you will get Aids".  The evidence that it provides a massive boost for extremists can easily be shown to be false simply by looking at Australia where it is already in place and fewer minor parties have representation than in the UK.

* It seems likely that it will produce even more disproportionate results than FPTP on occasion for example.


Mark Wadsworth said...

"the claims being made by the YES2AV campaign ..."

Don't you mean the Tory-funded "by the No2AV Campaign..."???

Scare stories are the last thing in which the Yes2AV-ers dabble.

Ross said...

You are of course correct. I'll do an edit.

TDK said...

All the claims concerning AV are overblown - both the risks and the benefits. That is politics.

The question concerning extremists that no one can really answer is how many votes would they really get.

Under FPTP you don't get a second chance, so you might want to vote Respect but vote Labour because there's a risk the Tories will get in. Fringe candidates are squeezed. In AV, there is no risk. You can vote for the fringe first knowing full well you will get a second or third go. So the vote of fringe candidates will increase.

That effect mainly concerns voters who would like to vote more extreme but "Chicken out". There is also the possibility that people who want to vote mainstream will use the opportunity to do a first protest vote before their serious one:

I want to vote Liberal; the Respect candidate will never win enough first preference votes but they oppose the war in Iraq, so I will vote for them first so that they get a high runner up score.

Think of this as similar to the effect of by-elections. Fringe candidates often do well because every voter knows the result is not national. This second order effect is impossible to quantify.

Also Weimar supported a PR system. Whilst this was the list system rather than AV, it does show that Extremists can do well in PR systems.

So I think there is some sense in which AV can help extremists. I note this isn't the argument of No2AV

James Higham said...

I've never been given hepatitis by the people who have cut my hair despite the lack of a similar regulatory regime in the UK.

And none of them have given me AIDS either. Then again, I have no hair.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Ta for edit.

As to the substantive point, these artificial barriers to entry, professional licensing etc, some of them are because bureaucrats love meddling but a lot of them have the full support of the big players because the burden of these reg's falls far more heavily over small players and those trying to break into the market, whichever market that is, be it hairdressing or banking.

banned said...

And what is wrong with minor partiesn having representatives in Parliament?

"silly and wasteful practice", wot, like paying a licence to watch the TV?

Ross said...

Banned- I have no problem with minor parties having representation but it is something that the "No" campaign are claiming is bad and more likely to happen under AV.