Bryan Caplan  

Many a Slip

National Origin as Nurture Eff... Hooper and Henderson on Patric...
Another reason why I think I win my bets so consistently: I take seriously the old proverb, "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip."  When I bet that "X won't officially happen by date Y," I'm not merely thinking, "X is far-fetched."  I'm also thinking:

1. "Even if X looks like it's going to happen, it's going to hit a bunch stumbling blocks - any one of which could derail X."


2. "Even if X does happen, it will probably be delayed, and delayed again."

I could still lose my EU bet with Mark Steyn and David Henderson, but it ain't over 'til it's over.

Case in point: See how the Swiss immigration referendum is working out.  If this is the inexorable backlash against immigration, I'm not sweating it:

Back in February 2014 the Swiss people narrowly voted in favour of bringing in some form of limits on immigration from EU countries, a move that would have countered the EU's free movement principle and jeopardised Switzerland's many other bilaterals with the bloc.

The new rules agreed on Monday diverge hugely from the constitutionally-binding referendum, after the Swiss parliament decided - to outcry from some - that it was not willing to sacrifice its relationship with the EU.

Rather than imposing strict limits on EU immigration, parliament has agreed new rules on unemployment which should limit the impact of foreign workers on the domestic job market.

Employers will be obliged to advertise vacant positions to job centres and invite selected Swiss job seekers for interview. If they don't, they will risk a 40,000 franc fine.

This obligation will only apply in professions, job sectors or regions where unemployment is above average.

However employers will not - as was suggested by the Council of States during the development of this new law - be obliged to justify why they refuse a Swiss candidate.

You've heard the saying, "That's a loophole you could drive a truck through."  One reason I win my bets is that there's enough debris on the road to stop a truck.

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Sergey Kurdakov writes:

how about a bet, that warming trend won't start soon? This year was most warm in history of observations. So that bet worth to mention too.

RSF writes:

You have a forum here and a large circle of acquaintances / friends who are fairly ideological where you can solicit bets. I would take your side of the action on just about every bet you make. Additionally, betting is more meaningful when the stakes matter but most of the bets are multi year and relatively inexpensive.

Tiago writes:

It seems the odds are not in your favor, though:

Does that affect your assessment?

Khodge writes:

You have convinced me. I questioned your bet on Gary Johnson but your rule effectively said that regardless of how strong the possibilities look on paper, reality usually looks very different.

Khodge writes:

As an aside (or maybe not), I play the markets and the more strictly I follow the rules, the better my returns.

Weir writes:

I don't think "working out" is the right way to phrase it. The Swiss referendum isn't on-going. It's over. There was a result.

Same with the voters in Britain. They already voted one way, and if a majority of judges on a court votes the opposite way, that doesn't restrospectively change the result of the vote.

Same with your vote in America. A faithless elector could ignore your election, but the election had a result already.

Or suppose there's a military coup somewhere. A bunch of colonels could install one of their own. We wouldn't talk about the election "working out" with the winner of the election getting pushed out of a helicopter. The election went one way, and the coup was separate to the election. The assassination of the new president was not the election result. It was the overturning of the election result.

So when Tyler talks about a backlash against immigration, he's not talking about the colonels' or the judges' backlash to a backlash, he's talking about the first backlash. Tyler's talking about one thing, and not about something completely different. The military junta taking over is not the same thing as holding the election.

Tyler's making an argument about what voters are doing, not what their rulers are doing. So in order to engage with Tyler's argument, it would be necessary to talk about the same thing that Tyler's talking about, and not something completely different.

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