Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
The upside of the internet is that everyone can communicate with one another. The downside of the internet is that everyone can communicate with one another. My article – Government Spending, Taxation and Deficits under Labour, 1997-2010 – was quoted on the ‘Footy Mad’ forum, ostensibly in a discussion about RMT union leader Bob Crow. The article itself was dry as a desert, focussing on facts and offering only a quantum of analysis. As a source, I used three reports by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). Astoundingly, one forum poster replied:
Sorry Dr. Dave, but I honestly expected that you would know better than to post a link to so obviously a misleading article as that by “In Defence of Liberty: A Libertarian Conservative’s Perspective”.
The best they can come up with in that article is that after financial crash of 2008, public % of GDP rose to nearly 50%. Obviously if the private sector loses it’s [sic] value then that will be reflected automatically without a single person being hired.
When it was pointed out that my article’s source was the IFS, the same poster responded:
No, the first article comes from a wordpress Libertarian blog, a school of thought not taken much seriously outside of the US. The second article comes from the IFS, which is not a wholly reputable organization. It was founded by financiers and has been charged with having a neo-liberal agenda that favors capital by multiple sources. Here is one of them: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/aug/19/tax.taxandspending
This is a laughably pure form of the genetic fallacy: the claim that a proposition must be false because of its source. The poster says the “best [I] can come up with” is to state the trend that actually occurred:
From [1999-2000], the state slowly grew, before accelerating forward after the financial crisis to 47.9% in 2009-10.
This poster ignores two sentences later, where I highlight – with a graph – that:
Under Labour, spending on public services increased in real terms an average 4.4% per year, compared to the Conservative’s constrained 0.7%.
The article conjured nothing. The forum poster gives no indication as to what is “obviously…misleading” about my article. I utilised data provided by the IFS, which in turn drew from the Office for National Statistics, and for prospective budgets, HM Treasury. The IFS gains its influence and reputation through its rigour and fierce political independence. If it were discovered that the IFS had miscalculated the levels of government spending and taxation, let alone did so deliberately for some devious purpose, it would be a major scandal.
The term ‘libertarian’ may not gain wide usage outside of the United States, but that is not equivalent to the “school of thought” being “not taken much seriously”. The libertarian ideals of free markets, free trade and free people have a proud tradition in British classical liberalism, and there are major parties inclined towards these causes all around the world.
My blog seeks to maintain its high standards of research and integrity for the future.