On the return of policy based evidence making


Or, lying lies and the liars that tell them.

There are theoretical advantages to rule by the technocracy. Those who actually know what they're talking about should, in theory, be less likely to propose something completely insane as a policy, to give just one example. Gospodin Lysenko showed that this doesn't always work out in practice it must be said though.

But there is another problem as well: political interference in the evidence that said technocracy uses to reach its policy conclusions. For example, much is being made of the way in which speculation increases food prices: thus we must have less speculation in food in order to reduce prices. Leave aside, if you can, the idiocy of the basic contention (for as Adam Smith pointed out in Book IV, Chapter V, starting at para 40, of Wealth of Nations, that's what we actually want speculators to do, move prices around in time) and consider just the postulate presented. What we want to know is, has the greater volume (an agreed fact) in food speculation at present increased the price of food (again, agreed that food has increased in price) over and above what it would have been with lower levels of such speculation?

The general economic answer is that speculation moves prices in time, moving high prices in the future to the present, and by so doing reduces the eventual price increase. This is similarly what the EU technocrats themselves found: speculation, in and of itself, doesn't raise food prices:

So it is quite a surprise to find the European Commission has censored its own research into food prices under pressure from President Nicolas Sarkozy. As Andrew Peaple discussed in a Heard column last week, there is no evidence speculation is responsible for the current high food prices. A new EU study came to exactly the same conclusion, finding no evidence of “a correlation between the substantial increase in index fund positions and commodity futures prices.” But curiously, the draft report containing this conclusion was first delayed and then finally published today with the offending sentence removed............In the end, Mr. Sarkozy didn’t need to delay publication because he had an ally in Michael Barnier, the French European Commissioner in charge of markets regulation who saw to it the report contained no mention of speculators either good or bad, thereby ensuring Mr. Sarkozy wasn’t embarassed. Mr. Barnier bizarrely then went on to tell the post-publication press conference that: “Agricultural products are turning into financial assets, which is why we want to share with you our concern about this,” ignoring the fact his own directorate’s report expressed no such concern.

But as you can see, the evidence which the politicians use to create policy is itself being compromised by their already having decided what they would like the policy to be before the evidence is collated. We are thus, despite the pretentions of the EU to being just that, a technocracy, being ruled not by such but by the presumptions and pretentions of a pair of French polticians. Worse, French politicians ignorant of the basics of economics which they presume to rule upon.

I know that my antipathy to the EU grates with some but given that we have enough home grown fools, political manipulators and those entirely unschooled in matters economic, just why is it that we're contracting this out to people we cannot even vote out of office?