I’m not. I’m not vague that is. I also avoid being fixed in my view. I had an interesting chat with a friend doing an MA thesis on ambiguity and it moved around to thinking about the difference between vagueness and ambiguity. To me, and in fairness I’m no one in particular, vagueness refers to when information could and should be known but is withheld or not known. So, for example, if I ask a bartender when they start serving evening meals the answer should be known and specific. A vague “5ish I think” isn’t helpful. However if I ask the same individual what time they stop and they reply “around 10ish depending on how busy” then I see that as a little ambiguous but perfectly acceptable, after all it may be the nature of that type of establishment.
Taking this a bit further we can look at economics. In economics we ‘know’ very little. The nature of economics and its component parts means it is hard to be certain. I don’t know what the value of the pound will be tomorrow and nor does anyone else. I can make a prediction but it will have a margin of error. That’s the nature of markets. But it also applies to policy. There are no simple answers in economics; there are plenty of understandable ones but no yes or no answers. For example the answer to unemployment is not simply to cut welfare benefits. There is certainly a link between welfare and work motivation but if I cut welfare by 10% then employment won’t go up by a similar amount, in fact it may actually go down. This almost presents as if I am suggesting somewhat liberally that we should continue to pay welfare at the same rate. Actually
I am not. What I am suggesting is that it is not a simple link. If we rephrase the question to one on moral lines the answer will be quite different. Do I think people should be incentivised to work then that is a clearer yes, on moral grounds I feel that is right. Annoyingly if you say to me “I know what they should do about unemployment, cut bloody benefits that will sort them out” I will argue that it won’t. I will suggest it is more complex than that and this comes across as ambiguous.
So asking me my view on the link between benefits and unemployment allows you to mistakenly interpret my response as liberal, equally if the discussion goes further, with the questions phrased around moral and motivational links, I am capable of further surprises. I can clearly state I see a link between incentivisation and work. So if you ask me what I think a hard working family deserve I will say the minimum that society can provide based on their level of skills and work. Why the minimum? If every hard working family gets a plasma TV, a holiday abroad and an en suite where is there motivation to work more hours and, more importantly, improve their productivity through training and education? We should not be rewarded just for turning up. Work isn’t welfare.
What I try to work with is basic underlying values that then allows for an acceptance of the more ambiguous world around me.
I try to avoid harm, I try to be honest and I try to deliver. How those are achieved varies by context but I don’t need rules.