first-past-the-post

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pages: 543 words: 147,357

Them And Us: Politics, Greed And Inequality - Why We Need A Fair Society by Will Hutton

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, centre right, choice architecture, cloud computing, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of DNA, discovery of the americas, discrete time, diversification, double helix, Edward Glaeser, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, money market fund, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Neil Kinnock, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Skype, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, unpaid internship, value at risk, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Proportional systems meet fairness criteria more completely, as every vote carries equal weight, but decision-making is slower and the building of parliamentary majorities inherently more difficult. In today’s Britain these questions have suddenly become very relevant. The first-past-the-post voting system is palpably unfair. Governments can have substantial parliamentary majorities that are vastly disproportionate to their vote – like the Labour government of 2005–10, which had a parliamentary majority of over sixty with only 36 per cent of the popular vote. The Conservatives won a quarter of a million more votes in England but had fewer seats, while the Liberal Democrats won 21 per cent of the vote but somewhat less than 10 per cent of the parliamentary seats. Now the battle is set to be joined over which voting system should replace first past the post. In effect, it will be a battle for the future of the state. Most Conservatives want to retain the old system, with fewer but equally sized constituencies, which will diminish Labour’s urban advantage in representing smaller city-centre seats where fewer votes are needed to elect an MP.

It most fairly enfranchises every citizen but also sets up a political dynamic that is based on argument, real interests and public negotiation. Every vote, not just those in marginal constituencies, is equally significant. So there are no constituencies where it is purposeless to vote because the result is a foregone conclusion. Consequently, no single party will be able to form a government, which will force bargaining between parties to form coalitions rather than the ‘strong government’ beloved of advocates of first past the post. We enter a world in which the government overtly reflects evolving and changing shades of opinion, and where argument and reason play a greater role than the whips’ office. It is fair politics for grown-ups. But democracy is still based on the national demos. International law is made by states; it is not yet legitimised by the involvement of an international citizenry. The march of globalisation requires an accompanying fairness process for its better governance if it is to be legitimate and well governed.

Shareholder value maximisation has endangered a great British corporate asset. There needs to be change. Unfortunately, British politics has never been good at squaring up to vested interest groups and challenging the sometimes absurd assumptions on which they build their arguments in the wider public interest. Nor is it good at long-term planning for the future. Most politicians in any democracy find it hard to think beyond the next election. But in Britain the first-past-the-post electoral system, winner-takes-all politics and the centralisation of the state make steady, proportional, long-term policy-making even less likely. The struggle to manage the present exhausts most British politicians, leaving no energy for them to worry about the future. One of the great advantages of the old paradigm ‘leave it to the markets’ was that politicians were not required to take a view of the future, nor try to build it.


pages: 309 words: 93,958

22 Days in May: The birth of the Lib Dem - Conservative coalition by Laws, David

first-past-the-post, income inequality, pension reform, smart grid, smart meter

But in return, we want your support for a referendum on a reformed first-past-the-post system.’ George Osborne frowned and looked interested. ‘What do you mean by a reformed first-past-the-post system?’ Chris Huhne explained. George thought for two seconds, smiled weakly, and then said: ‘Oh! You mean AV don’t you! No. That won’t work for us. Good try though!’ Danny said that this was key to securing the support of Lib Dem MPs, and that it could help usher in a new and more co-operative politics and a fairer voting system. William Hague frowned, looked rather serious and leaned back. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘you must accept that this is very difficult indeed for my party, as you already know. The Conservatives are opposed as a party to both the Alternative Vote and proportional representation. And calling AV “reformed first-past-the-post” won’t change our people’s minds!

George Osborne paused and then said: ‘Look, this is a subject of a lot of discussion in our party. Electoral reform is tough for us, but on the rest of the political reform agenda we are very open to your ideas. But I agree that this is the trickiest issue.’ William Hague now intervened: ‘We have to start by recognising a big difference between our parties on this. It is a very difficult issue for Conservatives, most of whom support first-past-the-post. There isn’t any support for proportional representation in the Conservative Party. You need to understand that.’ Chris Huhne responded robustly: ‘We understand how this is difficult for you. But our party has been strung along before on PR – not least by Tony Blair in 1997. We don’t want to repeat that experience. We don’t want to repeat the whole Jenkins experience, of a review which leads nowhere.

This is because we would be offering the Conservatives something which would be likely to offset any loss of seats that AV might deliver. In addition, from a Conservative perspective, a coalition with the Lib Dems might improve their chances of picking up Lib Dem second preference votes. I suggested before our meeting on 9 May that this proposal should now be seriously tabled. Danny Alexander had half-jokingly suggested that we should seek to ‘sell’ AV to the Conservative team as just an ‘enhanced’ first-past-the-post system. Chris Huhne added that the Conservatives used an AV type system to elect their own leaders. Now, in the actual talks, Danny set out just how important electoral reform is to the Lib Dems. He said: ‘The bottom line is that we need a bankable commitment to change. Our MPs will expect that, if we are going to have a coalition. And they are mighty suspicious of “reviews” – we’ve been there before.’


pages: 251 words: 88,754

The politics of London: governing an ungovernable city by Tony Travers

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active transport: walking or cycling, congestion charging, first-past-the-post, full employment, job satisfaction, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, new economy, urban sprawl

The creation of the GLA followed a year behind the Scottish and Welsh reforms: if Margaret Thatcher had not abolished the GLC, there would almost certainly have been no London reform as part of the devolution process. Yet commentators have generally included the creation of the GLA within the wider constitutional picture. The fact that the 2000 London election was fought on the basis of proportional representation (as opposed to the first-past-the-post system used for all other local government elections in Britain) further stressed a link to the PR-based Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies. Nevertheless the GLA is fully included within the scope of legislation passed by the Blair administration to ‘modernize’ local government. Thus, an executive/scrutiny split within councils, the ‘best value’ regime, the imposition of Standards Committees and a number of other reforms enacted during 1999 and 2000 apply to the GLA just as much as to other councils.

Fourteen members were to be elected for constituencies, plus another eleven who would be London-wide members. Electors would have two votes each. The first vote would be cast within a constituency using the firstpast-the-post system. The second vote would be for a political party or independent candidate. For the London-wide vote, parties (or independents) would list the names of candidates to be elected, in order, on the ballot paper. Constituency members would be elected in the usual first-past-the-post way (that is, the candidate with the largest number of votes, whether over 50 per cent or not, would win). All the second (that is, London-wide) votes cast would be counted, with winning candidates drawn from the list of parties (or independent groups) so that the overall number of assembly members would match the proportion cast for each party. Thus, a party that polled 40 per cent of the votes in the London-wide vote would be entitled to ten seats overall.

Susan Kramer also did well, though more for garnering second preference votes (which were of no use unless she had come first or second) than any other candidate. By contrast, Frank Dobson’s result was a huge embarrassment for him and, in particular, for the Prime Minister – a candidate manoeuvred into place by a carefullyconstructed electoral college came third (though only just), with less than half of the Conservative’s votes. Fourteen members of the Assembly were elected on a constituency basis, using the ‘first-past-the-post’ system. The remaining eleven were elected on a London-wide basis using the ‘de Hondt’ formula for allocating seats under proportional representation. Under this system, Labour and the Conservatives obtained nine seats each, the Liberal Democrats four and the Greens three, giving the London Assembly, like the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, a distinctly un-British, even ‘European’ multiparty look.


pages: 124 words: 30,520

Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics by Manuel Arriaga

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banking crisis, business climate, David Graeber, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, Gunnar Myrdal, Occupy movement, principal–agent problem, Slavoj Žižek

It is also possible for the more powerful parties to “break” proportional representation by splitting the territory into a larger number of constituencies, each of them electing just a handful of seats. As the number of seats in each constituency decreases, so do the smaller parties’ chances of securing any representation at all. This “trick” makes so-called “proportional representation” systems produce results that resemble those of first-past-the-post elections—thus cementing the power of the large, entrenched parties at the expense of non-establishment voices. Campaigning like the French Another issue central to electoral reform is that of campaign and party finance. The promiscuity between private funds and political parties is a well-known issue in almost every country. When discussing why vast sums of private money and electoral politics do not belong together, we can start by making two simple observations: 1.


pages: 160 words: 46,449

The Extreme Centre: A Warning by Tariq Ali

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, bonus culture, BRICs, British Empire, centre right, deindustrialization, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, full employment, labour market flexibility, land reform, light touch regulation, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage debt, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, North Sea oil, obamacare, offshore financial centre, popular capitalism, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system, Wolfgang Streeck

The defeat of the miners’ strike obliterated any possibility of resistance by the trade-union leaders and the rank and file. The triumph of finance capital was now complete. The decline of large parts of the country continued apace, and in turn, the country became increasingly restive. How would the people react? After eighteen years of Conservative rule, they voted Labour and Tony Blair into office with a huge parliamentary majority, achieved by virtue of an antiquated and blatantly unrepresentative first-past-the-post system: 13.5 million, against 9.6 million for the Conservatives and 5.2 million for the Liberal Democrats. Blair had fought a slick campaign that made few promises, but traditional Labour supporters nodded their heads in appreciation and thought him wise. The key was to return Labour to power after the locust years. Many assumed that once in office Labour would return to some form of moderate social democracy, a little bit of Roy Hattersley, perhaps.


pages: 177 words: 50,167

The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics by John B. Judis

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, capital controls, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, neoliberal agenda, obamacare, Occupy movement, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, post-materialism, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, white flight, Winter of Discontent

The role of underlying worldviews is characteristic of politics in the United States and Europe, and of all countries that are governed primarily by consent rather than by force and terror. In Great Britain, for instance, laissez-faire capitalism, associated with Adam Smith’s invisible hand, prevailed for much of the nineteenth century, but after World War II it was superseded by Keynesian economics. American politics is structured to sustain prevailing worldviews. Its characteristics of winner takes all, first past the post, single-member districts have encouraged a two-party system. Third-party candidates are often dismissed as “spoilers.” Moreover, in deciding on whom to nominate in party primaries, voters and party bigwigs have generally taken electability into account, and in the general election, candidates have generally tried to capture the center and to stay away from being branded as an “extremist.” American political history is littered with candidates who proved too extreme for the prevailing consensus of one or the other major parties—think of Fred Harris or Jesse Jackson among Democrats and Tom Tancredo or Pat Robertson among Republicans.


pages: 1,013 words: 302,015

A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s by Alwyn W. Turner

Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, British Empire, call centre, centre right, deindustrialization, demand response, Desert Island Discs, endogenous growth, Etonian, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, full employment, global village, greed is good, inflation targeting, means of production, millennium bug, minimum wage unemployment, moral panic, negative equity, Neil Kinnock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, period drama, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, South Sea Bubble, Stephen Hawking, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce

The same was true of all the piecemeal changes to the constitution introduced in Tony Blair’s first term. A bewildering array of voting arrangements were now in place. Elections to the House of Commons and local councils remained unchanged, operating under the first past the post system (the former in single-member constituencies, the latter in multi-member wards), but elsewhere various systems were in use: the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the London Assembly employed one system, the mayor of London (and mayors of any other cities who might follow) another, and the European Parliament yet another. There was little apparent logic in any of this jigsaw. In places it was progressive – the mix of first past the post and top-up lists in Scotland, Wales and London took a decisive step towards proportional representation – but elsewhere there were signs of Labour’s centralising tendency.

Whether someone like Critchley could be regarded as typical of the stay-at-home Tories was a matter of some dispute, though the anti-Europe parties’ comparatively poor showing suggested that he might well have been; it seemed unlikely that the absentees were distressed by the lack of right-wing policies. The debate over who those missing supporters were, and how to win them back, was to preoccupy the Conservative Party for the next decade. For now, Labour had the luxury of simply ignoring the details. Thanks to the vagaries of the first-past-the-post system, the party had a majority of 179 seats in the Commons, more than 63 per cent of the MPs, and – taking into account boundary changes – had gained 145 seats. In parliamentary terms, it dwarfed even the 1945 landslide of Clement Attlee (though he had won a shade under half the popular vote), a moment that had largely passed into the realm of fable. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats actually polled fewer votes than in 1992, but more than doubled their number of MPs, a fact which simply revealed the extent of the anti-Tory tactical voting at work.


pages: 828 words: 232,188

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy by Francis Fukuyama

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, Atahualpa, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, information asymmetry, invention of the printing press, iterative process, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, life extension, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, means of production, Menlo Park, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, new economy, open economy, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, Port of Oakland, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, price discrimination, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

As anyone who has chaired a meeting of a club or committee knows, decision costs rise exponentially if one needs consensus in large groups. Decisions taken under a majority voting rule (50 percent plus one) often used in democratic countries thus deviate very far from an ideal democratic procedure, since they can disenfranchise nearly half the population. Indeed, under plurality (or what is sometimes known as first-past-the-post) voting, decisions can be taken on behalf of the whole community by a minority of voters. (The United States and the United Kingdom, both of which have such voting systems, elected Bill Clinton in 1992 with 43 percent of the vote, and Tony Blair with 42 percent in 2001.)5 FIGURE 22. Political Participation vs. Cost of Decision Making SOURCE: James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent It is evident that rules like majority voting are not adopted on the basis of any deep principle of justice but rather as an expedient that reduces decision costs and allows large communities to make a decision of some sort.

(There is another important check, a free media, which is not part of the formal political system.) In all other respects, however, the system concentrates rather than diffuses power. A pure Westminster system has only a single all-powerful legislative chamber, no separate presidency, no written constitution and therefore no judicial review, and no federalism or constitutionally mandated devolution of powers to localities. It has a plurality, or first-past-the-post, voting system, which tends to produce a two-party system and strong parliamentary majorities even when the majority party wins only a plurality of the vote.8 Critical to the functioning of this system is party discipline; the leadership of the Conservative or Labour Party can force its members of Parliament to vote according to their wishes because they can deny recalcitrant MPs the ability to run for office in the next election.


pages: 471 words: 109,267

The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? by Polly Toynbee, David Walker

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banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Geldof, call centre, central bank independence, congestion charging, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, Etonian, failed state, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gender pay gap, Gini coefficient, high net worth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, market bubble, mass immigration, millennium bug, moral panic, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, Right to Buy, shareholder value, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, working-age population, Y2K

This is not a book about politicians, nor about what they thought they were doing – that book would contain some sorry chapters indeed. In May 2011 there was a sharp reminder of Labour’s reactionary tendency, when many frontbenchers of 1997–2010 showed their true colours. John Reid joined David Blunkett and others unashamedly on a Tory platform, to inveigh against the reform of voting to the House of Commons – although they had been members of the Cabinet when Labour, to its credit, abolished first-past-the-post elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and contests for the Greater London Authority. In spring 2010 we witnessed Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon touting their services as lobbyists and gobbling up corporate positions, former defence secretary Hoon joining AgustaWestland, the helicopter manufacturer, blatantly exposing the revolving door between the Ministry of Defence and the firms from which it procures equipment.


pages: 317 words: 101,475

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

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Asperger Syndrome, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, deindustrialization, Etonian, facts on the ground, falling living standards, first-past-the-post, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mass immigration, Neil Kinnock, Occupy movement, pension reform, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, race to the bottom, Right to Buy, rising living standards, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce, working-age population

'So,' says Taylor, I think Labour's strategy was; 'How do we appeal to the aspirational working classi" Does that mean that they took for granted whatever it is we mean by the 'non-aspirational working class'? Well, maybe partly took for granted, maybe partly those people are in constituencies that Labour are going to win anyway. So, whether you might consider that to be callous, but in a first-past-the-post [electoral] system you don't focus your energies on people who are in constituencies where they don't make a huge difference. And partly those people are also less likely, or least likely, to turn out. But what did New Labour mean by aspiration? 'If you look at the disCOursearound aspiration, it's a very restricted notion of what it is,' says influential Labour backbencher and former advisor to Tony Blair, Jon Cruddas.


pages: 339 words: 105,938

The Skeptical Economist: Revealing the Ethics Inside Economics by Jonathan Aldred

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airport security, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, clean water, cognitive dissonance, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Diane Coyle, endogenous growth, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, framing effect, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, libertarian paternalism, new economy, Pareto efficiency, pension reform, positional goods, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, school choice, spectrum auction, Thomas Bayes, trade liberalization, ultimatum game

For example, in discussing auctions of radio spectrum, which he helped design, Paul Klemperer warns that even sophisticated government and business decision makers struggle to understand some aspects of auction theory. Auction design that overemphasizes auction theory at the expense of messy political realities has gone badly wrong in practice. See Klemperer (2006). 4 Although some economists seem dismissive, I would propose social choice theory. This shows, among other things, the desirable ethical principles that different voting rules (first-past-the-post, proportional representation etc.) satisfy; and the combinations of desirable ethical principles that no voting rule satisfies (including rules we may not yet have invented). But again, social choice theory inhabits a kind of closed system. For a relatively accessible introduction to the beautiful world of social choice theory, see Sen (1999). 5 Mackenzie et al (2007). The idea of performativity originated in linguistic philosophy with Austin (1962). 6 Just one example of the weakness of a simplistic fact/value distinction; in this book I have used this distinction uncritically for no reason other than the need for brevity.


pages: 394 words: 85,734

The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis, Paul Mason

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active measures, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, business climate, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, endogenous growth, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, planetary scale, post-oil, price stability, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, structural adjustment programs, systematic trading, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Yom Kippur War

Naturally, the portion of national income that went to workers fell dramatically, and whole areas of Britain were taken over by Third World conditions. But the one thing that did not happen was that for which Mrs Thatcher was given credit: real wages per hour did not drop. In fact, and in sharp contrast to the US experience, they rose considerably.7 It is now clear that Mrs Thatcher’s impressive electoral successes in 1983 and 1987 (Britain’s ‘first past the post’ electoral system notwithstanding) was due to two factors. First, many of the 4.5 million jobless people were too glum and disgruntled to bother to vote. Secondly, the workers who did hang on to their jobs saw their real wages rise. In addition, Mrs Thatcher gave them bonuses that roped them into a speculative mood, in tune with the financial frenzy in Wall Street and the City of London. The bonuses came in two forms: selling the workers (at very low prices) the council houses in which they had been living, and offering them shares in newly privatized companies (like British Telecom, British Gas and the Trustee Savings Bank (TSB)) at far below the estimated market price.8 Both of these moves encouraged the still-working segments of the working class to consent to an economy that put all its eggs into the basket of speculation – either on house prices or on share prices.


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Many in the precariat do not expect, or even want, to spend years with one employer, and thus are unlikely to be keen on costly action to obtain minor improvements in working conditions in their current workplace. Be that as it may, it is the thinning of the democratic crust of society that should be of primary concern, epitomised above all by the commodification of party politics. THE GAME OF PLUTOCRATS Democracy is usually understood as a competition of political values and ideas, with informed debate preceding voting. Whatever the electoral system – ‘first-past-the-post’, as in Britain or the USA, or some form of proportional representation related to share of the vote – the health of democracy depends on the scope for debate based on truthful information. Yet political campaigns are increasingly narrowing that scope, using the power of modern communications technology to manipulate public opinion with simplistic, emotive and often untruthful messages and images.


pages: 497 words: 150,205

European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics Are in a Mess - and How to Put Them Right by Philippe Legrain

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3D printing, Airbnb, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, cleantech, collaborative consumption, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, Diane Coyle, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, eurozone crisis, fear of failure, financial deregulation, first-past-the-post, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, hiring and firing, hydraulic fracturing, Hyman Minsky, Hyperloop, immigration reform, income inequality, interest rate derivative, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Irish property bubble, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, liquidity trap, margin call, Martin Wolf, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, peer-to-peer rental, price stability, private sector deleveraging, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Richard Florida, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, savings glut, school vouchers, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, working-age population, Zipcar

This “deliberative polling” enhances understanding of the issues and encourages people to weigh the trade-offs that public policy involves.772 Similarly, AmericaSpeaks aims to “engage citizens in the public decisions that impact their lives” through methods such as 21st Century Town Hall Meetings. An elaboration of this approach is to set up citizens’ assemblies made up of a representative sample of the population that come together to deliberate on important issues. Canada is a pioneer. In 2004, the British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform convened a policy jury to look at alternatives to the first-past-the-post electoral system.773 In 2007, a similar grouping considered alternative electoral systems in Ontario. Three of that province’s Local Health Integration Networks have also referred their budget priorities to a policy jury for advice and refinement. At the very least, both European countries and the EU should explore greater use of deliberative democracy on a consultative basis. If it works well, citizens’ assemblies, chosen by lot, might ultimately replace the upper house of parliament.


pages: 934 words: 135,736

The Divided Nation: A History of Germany, 1918-1990 by Mary Fulbrook

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Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, centre right, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, joint-stock company, land reform, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, open borders, Peace of Westphalia, Sinatra Doctrine, union organizing, unorthodox policies

The traditional penumbra of SPD youth, sporting and special interest groups was forbidden, depriving the SPD of one of its main organizational means of gaining and sustaining support. 6 Other studies, such as that by Rainer Schulze of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have shown how British support of these employers' organizations allowed them to secure advantages in influencing the policies of, and placing individuals within, emerging right-wing political parties.7 Page 140 There were also more politically neutral difficulties: the British, for example, set great store by the attempt to separate 'politics' from 'administration', politicians from civil servants, which in German traditions of local government had been conflated (as in the office which combined the functions of chief executive and mayor). There were also attempts in the British zone to replace the proportional representation voting system with the British system of 'first past the post', resulting in the hybrid compromise found in the later voting system of the Federal Republic (which combines both, as discussed further in Chapter Seven). Unforeseen problems were encountered with some of the aspects of democracy in post-Nazi Germany in practice. The Americans were somewhat taken aback when in one town a former Nazi mayor was re-elected, by democratic majority vote, as the new mayor.

Falling Behind: Explaining the Development Gap Between Latin America and the United States by Francis Fukuyama

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Andrei Shleifer, Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, collective bargaining, colonial rule, conceptual framework, creative destruction, crony capitalism, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, New Urbanism, oil shock, open economy, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

See Javier Corrales, Presidents without Parties: The Politics of Economic Reform in Argentina and Venezuela in the 1990s (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002). 31. Seymour Martin Lipset, American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (New York: Norton, 1995). 32. New Zealand ceased to have a pure Westminster system when its electoral system was changed from single member first-past-the-post to mixed member proportional in 1994. 33. Though even in those instances, judiciaries that are too independent of public opinion have become highly controversial in the United States and other developed democracies that take basic judicial independence for granted. 34. Stein et al., The Politics of Policies. 220 Institutional Factors in Latin America’s Development 35. American presidents have taken on special powers during wartime, such as Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War and Franklin D.


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

What is more, it is beginning to make its leading representatives to leave behind institutionalism pure and simple and move forward (or in fact back?) to a political economy perspective on democracy that deserves its name. Democracy and capitalism is now the subject, if not of choice then of necessity. Gone are the good times, or so it seems, when Glasperlen issues as harmless and comfortable as first-past-the-post vs. proportional representation, Westminster vs. veto point, consociational vs. majoritarian democracy, parliamentary vs. presidential rule, unitary vs. federal government, mono-cameralism vs. bicameralism etc., etc. could rule supreme in the discipline’s official journals. Back to the basics! – so I read the message of Merkel’s remarkable essay2 in which he challenges nothing less than the foundational assumption of post-war political science that capitalism and democracy are birds of a feather: that just as capitalism needs as well as supports democracy, democracy needs as well as supports capitalism, the two flocking together in everlasting pre-established harmony.


India's Long Road by Vijay Joshi

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Basel III, basic income, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business climate, capital controls, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Doha Development Round, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, financial intermediation, financial repression, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Induced demand, inflation targeting, invisible hand, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, obamacare, Pareto efficiency, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, school choice, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, special drawing rights, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban sprawl, working-age population

This fragmentation of the party system has had major political consequences. From independence until 1989, the national government was formed by the Congress Party (with the exception of the Janata Coalition from 1977 to 1979). It regularly got around 40 per cent of the votes and 60 per cent or more of seats, giving it an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. (This discrepancy between votes and seats is made possible by India’s ‘first past the post’ electoral system.) Significantly, the Congress also controlled the Rajya Sabha. Moreover, from 1971 to 1989, and particularly for much of the time that Indira Gandhi was prime minister, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) acquired great power over other institutions. From 1989, these centralizing forces have been reversed. The trend has been for the Congress to lose its share of votes as well as seats, and for the BJP to gain at its expense.


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

The system used to elect members of the legislatures of most countries in the British political tradition is that each district (or ‘constituency’) in the country is entitled to one seat in the legislature, and that seat goes to the candidate with the largest number of votes in that district. This is called the plurality voting system (‘plurality’ meaning ‘largest number of votes’) – often called the ‘first-past-the-post’ system, because there is no prize for any runner-up, and no second round of voting (both of which feature in other electoral systems for the sake of increasing the proportionality of the outcomes). Plurality voting typically ‘over-represents’ the two largest parties, compared with the proportion of votes they receive. Moreover, it is not guaranteed to avoid the population paradox, and is even capable of bringing one party to power when another has received far more votes in total.

Bali & Lombok Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

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active transport: walking or cycling, Airbnb, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, first-past-the-post, global village, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Skype, spice trade, sustainable-tourism

BULL RACES The Negara region is famous for bull races, known as mekepung, which culminate in the Bupati Cup in Negara on the Sunday before 17 August, Indonesia's Independence Day. The racing animals are actually the normally docile water buffalo, which charge down a 2km stretch of road or beach pulling tiny chariots. Gaily clad riders stand or kneel on top of the chariots forcing the bullocks on. The winner is not necessarily first past the post – style also plays a part and points are awarded for the most elegant runner. There is much wagering on the results. Important races take place during the dry season on some Sundays from July to October. Races and practices are held at several sites around Perancak on the coast and elsewhere on Sunday mornings, including Delod Berawan and Mertasari. Actually finding these events can be somewhat like seeking the Holy Grail: if you're in Negara on a bull-race Sunday, people will gladly direct you, but trying to obtain info remotely is often frustrating.


pages: 932 words: 307,785

State of Emergency: The Way We Were by Dominic Sandbrook

anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, David Attenborough, Doomsday Book, edge city, estate planning, Etonian, falling living standards, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, financial thriller, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, German hyperinflation, mass immigration, moral panic, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, North Sea oil, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, sexual politics, traveling salesman, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban planning, Winter of Discontent, young professional

While the moderate parties – the Faulkner Unionists, the Alliance, the SDLP and Northern Ireland’s Labour Party – competed against one another for votes, the loyalist UUUC parties agreed to pool their resources and run one candidate in each constituency on the simple slogan ‘Dublin is Just a Sunningdale Away’. In some constituencies, the power-sharing candidates won more votes combined than their rejectionist opponent, but in a first-past-the-post system, that was no consolation. For when the votes were counted, the UUUC had swept the board, winning all but one of Northern Ireland’s twelve Westminster seats. Only in West Belfast, where the SDLP’s Gerry Fitt won a narow victory on the back of the heavy nationalist vote, was there a glimmer of light for the moderates. Everywhere else, the voices of consensus were blown away.46 The Assembly and the Executive soldiered bravely on, but as the Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office reported to London a few days later, ‘Mr Faulkner was somewhat shaken and somewhat fearful.’


pages: 1,351 words: 385,579

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, Cass Sunstein, citation needed, clean water, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Columbine, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, crack epidemic, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, demographic transition, desegregation, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, European colonialism, experimental subject, facts on the ground, failed state, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fudge factor, full employment, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, global village, Henri Poincaré, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, impulse control, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, long peace, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, McMansion, means of production, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Republic of Letters, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, security theater, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South China Sea, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Nations would be tempted to cheat by retaining a few nukes on the side just in case their adversaries did so. A rogue state might support nuclear terrorists once it was sure that it would never be a target of retaliation. And in a world that lacked nuclear weapons but retained the knowledge of how to build them—and that genie certainly can’t be put back in the bottle—a crisis could set off a scramble to rearm, in which the first past the post might be tempted to strike preemptively before its adversary got the upper hand. Some experts on nuclear strategy, including Schelling, John Deutch, and Harold Brown, are skeptical that a nuclear-free world is attainable or even desirable, though others are working out timetables and safeguards designed to answer their objections.217 With all these uncertainties, no one should predict that nuclear weapons will go the way of poison gas anytime soon.