Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 5/24/2011

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Brad DeLong contrasts "MIT Keynesians" with what he calls "East Anglian Keynesians" (Post Keynesians, basically). He considers himself an MIT Keynesian, and that's where I generally feel like I lie too. One of the points of the post, of course, is that East Anglian Keynesians have important things to say as well.

- The Social Democracy for the 21st Century blog discusses Herbert Hoover's deficits. My synopsis: just because you guys don't agree with him doesn't mean he's even remotely close to what we think. I agree. People get so weird about Hoover on both sides. Why is it so hard to say "Hoover was a conservative, reformist, associationalist - there are a lot of people like him today too, and he doesn't make any of us happy although he seems like he was a nice guy."

- Bob Murphy provides a great history of the cost theory of value and the introduction of subjectivism in the 1870s. He credits all the marginalists (which is good), but then goes over Menger's contribution specifically. What's amazing to me is how many Austrians think that subjectivism only made an impact on the Austrians. I've had conversations with Austrian PhD students recently who actually think that modern mainstream economists commonly hold objective or cost theories of value. How did that misunderstanding ever catch on?

- This is Keynes's Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren, because that is really what I'm talking about in the temporal autarky posts. The critiques have taken an odd turn. Bob Murphy, for one, has taken the whole point of my argument (that compensation can't occur) and understood it to be a counter-argument! The point is that autarky is unfortunate but inevitable in this case, but we still need to understand the implications. We don't need to sign over our life savings to future generations. But we do need to think about these sorts of things. In real terms I'm going to be wealthier than my grandparents. That's just the nature of economic progress. I'm on the right track, but not particularly wealthy yet, but by the time I get there I might not be able to pay my grandparents back. And yet when I was younger they still helped my parents pay for my college (and I understand my great-grandparents helped my grandparents pay for my parents' college). If you follow Bob Murphy's logic this is incomprehensible. Why would they do that? It can't have been a problem in the first place if the only solution was for my relatively poorer grandparents in the past to make an investment in my future so I could retire in 2050 much wealthier than they were when they retired. He's clinging to welfare criteria and market transactions when my whole point was that there's no transactional solution to this problem. He essentially reiterates the whole argument and calls that a disproof. But of course it's not a disproof at all. We care about the economic possibilities for our grandchildren, and I'm simply saying that's a good impulse and should be cultivated. Nobody is arguing that we shouldn't attend to our needs in making provisions for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Herbert Hoover was an opportunistic politician. He may have turned towards any kind of policy if it became politically profitable to do so.

    What is interesting, however, is Hoover's crude style of politics. In his speech at the 1952 Republican National Convention, he said that the current American political direction was a combination of Marx, Mussolini, and Keynes. He called them the Three Spooks. Lumping the three together was bizzare enough.

    United States in 1952 would not have been radically different from United States in 1930, outside of two major New Deal reforms, and he had a double standard of criticizing others for doing that which he himself was once doing, but on a larger scale.

    It's strange, because Hoover was supposed to be intelligent, and not such a...politician. The man spoke Chinese, was well read, along with being an engineer who assisted in projects abroad,.etc. Not very polite or refined, though.


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