New Rule

New Rule: No arguing about communism, socialism, capitalism, taxation, subsidies, nationalized healthcare, foreign aid, deficits, etc. without at least a modicum of economic education.

No, Che doesn’t count as a source of solid economic background.

Sorry, Chomsky doesn’t either.

Nor are you qualified by the fact that you care about the children.

Or by the fact that your girlfriend’s sister’s cousin got screwed by The Man.

Seriously, read up on this shit. It’s surprisingly easy. Economists can actually be pretty interesting writers, especially when they are writing for a lay audience. Which a surprising number of them have done.

Look, I’m no expert either. But at least I’m making an effort. I know how little I know, and I’m working on filling in the gaps. It doesn’t take going back to school; just a little application and a library card.

That is all.

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12 Comments

  1. This is the exact reason I keep my mouth tightly shut with most economics discussions. I simply don’t know jack squat (besides what micro & macro classes at CCC taught me, or what little I remember from them) and am currently too lazy to rectify that situation. 🙂

  2. Do Marx and Adam Smith count?

    1. Yes.

      Although I’d be curious how many modern economists think of Marx as an actual economist, as opposed to a philosopher with some strong ideas on how economies ought to be run. For that matter, I wonder what they think of Smith’s methods, whether he’s considered a theorist who just happened to be right on many counts.

      The more recent economists get, the more empirical they are (generally speaking), and the more of a hard science it becomes.

      1. Marx’s “The Capital” is a (mostly) economic work… which is why I found it so boring. ;p Marx’s general premise that economics and politics can’t be separated I ascribe to, however.

  3. Do I count?

    I’ve read Marx and Smith and done a whole bunch of work on the history of technology/capitalism/innovation/and R&D…

    I’ve read some general economics stuff.. but have often found that a lot of “current economic theory” often doesn’t hold up when it is compared to historical data…

    Which is fine.. of course, when people aren’t trying to claim that their particular theory holds for all of time in every instance–but rather conforms to the relevant context and initial conditions… I only get ticked when small limited examples that are used to make grand absolutist claims that don’t really conform with reality..

    of course.. this isn’t news to you.. 😉

    1. Re: Do I count?

      I have long made the assumption, given your background and the informed nature of your comments, that you are economically literate. This post was not aimed at you.

      1. Cool..

        I didn’t actually figure that it did… just checking…

        But I would be curious who it might be aimed at.. did some stupid ideological liberal start spewing out crap and besmirching my beloved economic viewpoints???

        I’ll go kick their ass for you, if you would like.. 🙂

        1. Re: Cool..

          It was a conversations on someone else’s journal that put me over the edge.

          I think it’s the argument-from-need that annoys me the most: E.g. “my sister needed a brain transplant once and didn’t have insurance and therefore we must have Canadian style nationalized healthcare”. It’s the assumption that because the need is obviously there, the proposed solution must work through sheer moral necessity. Typically paired with the accusation that if you disagree, you must hate the poor.

          That, and the assertion that if you’ve never been poor, your opinion has no value. Because economic principles only operate when they are stated by people who are, or have been, poor.

          1. dumb…

            It’s not an argument–it’s merely an emotional appeal…

            Although I do support some form of nationalized healthcare (don’t know if I agree with the Canadian model per se).. that is not the kind of argument that I would ever find convincing…

            So I can sympathize with your annoyance..

            As a rule, I generally feel that most people who accuse you of being morally inferior because you disagree with them on policy issues have already completely failed in argumentaiton–Ad hominem attacks are the sign of substantive failings.

          2. Re: Cool..

            That pisses me off to. More because it’s a healthcare issue than an economics issue. But for both reasons really. Candians do not get better health care then we do. In fact the mojority of them get worse. if you actually research it what their health care system does is bring everyone down to the same level as poor people. Except for the very rich who come here and pay out of pocket for good quality up to date medical care, and the very poor who still don’t get health care.

  4. You know, I really keep meaning to get a more well rounded economic education. I have an economics reading list I’m simply never in the mood for.

    I cover for it by being well versed in history, public policy, and the prevailing political situation. Thus, I may argue from precedent rather than theory. This does have it’s flaws.

  5. –quote– Look, I’m no expert either. But at least I’m making an effort. –quote–

    That is the one attitude that we need a lot more of. I would like to see many people make the effort to improve their knowledge rather than convince others of their position.

    Kudos!

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