28 November 2009

Richard Murphy Doesn't Like It When You Agree With Him

Something which has amused me when I've posted on Richard Murphy's blog recently is that he seems to get more ill-tempered when I agree with him than when I disagree with him. I think it's an indication of the narrow world view he has, where you're either pro-big state, in which case you are good and you will invariably agree with everything he says, or you're a market fundamentalist, in which case you are bad and will invariably disagree with everything he says. He seems to have put me firmly in the second pigeon-hole, so when I disagree with him, it gives him an opportunity to throw his typical insults my way, but when I take a position which is comparable to his, it seems to really infuriate him because it challenges his simplistic assumptions and usually results in him blocking my comments.

The latest incident occurred during comments following a post about the theology of taxation. Another commenter questioned the ability of businesses in common ownership to deliver, to which Murphy replied:

"Try John Lewis

Try the Cooperative Bank - which has not needed bailing out

Try Coop farms - the biggest and some of the best in the UK

Try any coop

Try the building society movement - which showed better robustness than the banks except when subverted by management"

A debate developed from that point when I highlighted that John Lewis is in effect a workers co-operative and the others are consumer co-operatives and any in-depth analysis should treat them separately. Another commenter, a self-confessed Marxist, took a general position that worker ownership was the only broadly acceptable business structure and ended up suggesting a regulation which would require all businesses with 30 or more employees to be worker owned. My response was:

"So, at a stroke, you would outlaw:

-The Co-operative Bank

-Building Societies

-Larger Credit Unions

-Co-operative Insurance

-Co-op Supermarkets

-Co-op Travel

-Mutual Insurance

Essentially, the whole of the co-operative movement would be declared illegal. I think the co-operative movement is one of the nations great success stories and something to be proud of. I’d need a very, very good reason to even begin to consider its prohibition."

At this point, Murphy reared his head and posted:


I guess I could leave you and Carol to slug this out forever

But candidly you are proving yourself to be a boring pedant with no contribution of worth to add to debate - like Worstall et al

So I am drawing his debate to a close


He had a similar temper tantrum when I took a position which didn't fit into his stereotype on the subject of empty houses. In the original post he suggested levying a tax on empty houses in order to bring them back into use. I commented that I though that approach would be unworkable, but something similar could be achieved fairly easily by adjusting the Council Tax system, such that, among other things, the owner pays, there are no exceptions for unoccupied property and the tax is used to collect a greater proportion of local government revenue. A fairly typical straw man argument came my way from Murphy, along with some reasonable comment from other posters. The exchange was going fairly predictably, until I responded to a comment from other poster who had said that he didn't believe any political party would be brave enough to introduce laws with the intention of causing a drop in property prices. My response, which was blocked, was:

"Unfortunately, I think that's true. At the moment, on one hand, we have the Tories committing to freeze Council Tax and portraying it as the worst tax we currently have according to their ideology, on the other we have people like Richard, who usually claims to oppose everything the Tories stand for, accusing me of trying to hit the worst off when I suggest increasing Council Tax, which he portrays as the worst tax we currently have according to his ideology.

It's an unholy alliance which, unfortunately, is not uncommon."

I think this must have infuriated him even more because his instinctive rush to argue against my position left him in the "increasing tax is bad" position which he tends to vilify others for and finding himself arguing in favour of the Tory party line most definitely wouldn't have been to his liking.

I find it astonishing that somebody can be so dogmatic that they would rather you disagree with them than agree with them.


marksany said...

He's a typical socialist. Knows he's right, everyone else is wrong, can't have a debate because he is blinded by his own certainty. I gave up commenting and reading there a while ago as completely pointess.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Best of luck with that.

People like you or me get an easier ride over at Samizdata, with whom we sometimes agree and sometimes don't, but who are just as set in their ways.

Apart from that, what Marksany says.

Paul Lockett said...

The crucial difference I find at Samizdata is that, when you find yourself disagreeing with someone, you're usually disagreeing with someone who has some capacity for reason and is prepared to subject their opinions to the test of facts and logic.

Murphy, on the hand, as marksany said, is blinded by his own certainty and only seems able to respond to disagreement by offering insults and preventing debate occuring.

Physiocrat said...

I saw Murphy for the first time last may, I thought he looked a bit red in the face. This could account for his apparent chronic bad temper.

Not being a medic I would not like to make a diagnosis except to suggest he should go for a check-up and follow the advice given.

Robin Smith said...

I think the reason he does not like your agreeing with him is because as a socialist he is a victim of a false dichotomy. That of Labour versus Capital. The fallacy is that he has not considered Land as a factor because Land is Capital to him.

Problems start with this error in thought because you might both agree that something misrepresented but related to land should be taxed (rent of any kind)

So he becomes genuinely confused and frustrated that he cannot respond with any confidence because it means NOT taxing production. And he fears this because he knows deep down his ideas must therefore be deeply flawed. People only attack you because you scare them do they not ?

Besides I have a bet on with Physiocrat that he is a big land owner. How could he possibly agree with anything that exposed him in that respect. His entire life work would be immediately condemned. I'm confident about this because I asked him so, directly, to which he banned me and filtered any future mail to spam. That was a a nice result. I dont understand why we all give him so much time. Are we not confident with our ideas. I am.

Physiocrat said...

I would say, by the look of him, that he would be better off if he took off at least 5 kilo. Being overweight makes one tired. Also I would say, going by appearances, that he needs to steer clear of salt and possibly stong liquor too. And get more exercise, which would mean he would stop spending such an unhealthy amount of time in front of his computer. To judge by the frequency of his postings he is an addict.

Meantime we should do ourselves and him the favour of keeping clear of his website as he thrives on hits. If it is bookmarked, delete it.

Robin Smith said...

Agreed. He is a menace. And a menace commanding the minds of the dumb and powerful. Avoid like the plague. Use your good natured search for the truth to convince the masses.

Its a shame because he does have a heart. The problem is that he believes what he says is true, denying logical analysis and reason as Paul L states so clearly above.

Physiocrat has the much more admirable quality of demanding to be proven wrong. The exact opposite approach.

Th greater problem too, is that due tot he confusing mentioned, he has no real idea of what wealth really is nor property.