"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK
- We've had an anonymous commenter post several times recently, and I'd like to remind commenters that Evan and I prefer you at least use a consistent pseudonym. It's hard to attribute ideas if you stay anonymous. Plus anonymity doesn't make for a very friendly community atmosphere. Anyway, this anonymous commenter recently tried to take me to task for calling the repeal of the 17th amendment "out there". I'd like to remind him that I am in support of repealing the 17th amendment and have said as much on this blog. It's still a very radical idea. That seems to qualify it for calling it "out there". Has our anonymous commenter ever publicly proclaimed and provided a reasoned defense for repealing the 17th amendment? There are a lot of "decline narratives" paraded around about what is wrong with America. I think most are overwrought, but one area where we have clearly gone downhill, in my mind, is the way in which we've weakened federalism. And again - if the commenter was a regular member of this community rather than an anonymous heckler he would know about this view of mine. Repealing the 17th amendment is not at the top of my list of things to advocate, but if it were ever seriously entertained I think it would be very good for righting the balance of federal and state power, and I'd probably get a lot more active in supporting it.
- Robert's Stochastic Thoughts reviews what Keynes wrote about Pigou and the classics in response to a post that Scott Sumner had up recently. Robert is a little sharp in his response, but I think he ultimately makes a good point. Keynes didn't gush about Pigou in The General Theory, but he didn't really insult him either. What he pointed out was that Pigou represented the clearest attempt to lay out a theory of unemployment consistent with what Keynes thought were the most important undercurrents of the classical theory. People often reply "well the classics didn't really believe that version of Say's Law". If you actually take the time to read Keynes, he never says they do. Indeed if you read the whole chapter and not the hand full of sentences people always cite, Keynes actually says that it would be hard to catch any of the classics writing anything as blatantly as Keynes just expressed - but they theorize as if they did. They pay lip service to the nuance, and then they build their models as if they believed in a strong version of Say's Law. That was Keynes's argument.
- Troy Camplin, a regular blogger at Coordination Problem, has a new blog up on Austrian economics and literature (HT Rafe Champion). I have not really enjoyed interacting with Troy in the past, so I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to like this. He's very much of the "Mises is amazing and he will change your life, and Keynesians are cultists" variety, at least in my experience. Still, I'm going to follow the first couple posts and see how this goes. I've recently become interested in the relationship between economics and literature, which is extremely unusual for anyone that knows me. Before I started reading more Lovecraft stories it had been years since I read any fiction at all. I just don't read the stuff. I'm not so much drawn to what Camplin seems to be doing here - literary analysis and commentary guided by economic principles. What I've become interested in is the economic thought of intelligent non-economists, particularly writers: what they get right, what they get wrong, etc.. Because ultimately non-economist cultural figures probably play a major role in shaping how societies think about the economy. Anyway - I am going to keep tabs on the blog and post anything interesting if it comes up.
The impossibility of true utilitarianism
3 hours ago