Monday, January 28, 2013

"It's not in their DNA - it's a footnote"

Wow. There's some surprising stuff in this Peter Boettke interview. This one is speaking of questions of rent-seeking and the economic analysis of policy for Stiglitz and Krugman. I'm shocked he could say that.

If he actually thinks this of people it's no wonder he's frustrated. It's entirely baseless, IMO - but it explains a lot about where he's coming from.

Earlier he said that "we" - mainline economists - think about economics 24/7 and that "mainstream" economists think about it 9-5 - they don't have it in their blood, and that's an important difference. This was a point he said David Friedman made once and that Pete and Russ both agreed with strongly*.

I had always thought the big problem with Boettke's definition and criticism of the "mainstream" was an analytical problem. But it seems to be a lot more tribal/us-vs.-them/identifying "the other" than I had ever thought before.

The funny thing is, I nod my head at almost all of what Peter says constitutes "good economics" (less of what he says constitutes "bad economics", but still a great deal). But the way he sees other economists is very surprising to me listening to this.

* - Ironically this came up in a converation with Kate this weekend - that I think about economics all the time - 24/7. She said that's why she wanted to make sure I followed through and got a PhD and didn't just make do without going through that.


  1. My suggestion is that you start up your own podcast where interview economists, etc. and that you make your own rap videos.

  2. Anyway, let's just get this out there; everyone makes silly claims about groups that they aren't a part of. I see dumb statements about libertarians all the time; equally so I see libertarians make dumb statements about liberals and conservatives (since I used to be a liberal I am more attuned to the former than the latter though).

    With that in mind this is a very good reason not be anti this or that, but pro whatever you believe in. In other words, discuss what you think is right in the context of why you think it is right not in the context why you think other people are wrong. While that may not be always possible (sometimes you've got to politely say x policy is wrong for y reason), it can be the way my which most arguments can be made.

    And yes, the whole 24/7 thing struck me as super strange when I heard it while making breakfast this morning.

    1. Yep!

      You have been saying far too many sensible things I can agree with today. What gives?

      I think people have a natural tendency to want to disagree with people. (God knows I do!). That dynamic can lead to fruitful back-and-forths. What I find more frustrating is when it leads to people not taking "yes" for an answer - when they generate imaginary disagreements or differences. That does not seem constructive to me.

    2. Well, I run into the same problems with a certain class of atheists; they tend to be more anti-theist than anything and that sort of negativity is kind of ugly after a while and I think is counter-productive ultimately (and is the source of the "angry atheist" idea that turns so many people off atheism generally). If mostly what you're into is talking about how bad "those people" are then I think there is a problem with how you're going about what you're doing.

      I am generally quite sensible.

  3. Stiglitz blames the circulation of "right-wing" ideas, including economic theory, almost entirely on rent-seeking and political bias in The Price of Inequality.

    1. You've blogged on this, right?

      I've got a backlog of your posts I wanted to share no here including I think some things you've said on Stiglitz. The problem is they're always so meaty I put them on my "to do" list. I tackle my own meaty thoughts and then feel like I only have time to snipe at everyone else :)

      I'll try to go back and look and share. Thanks for bringing The Price of Inequality into this.

    2. Here is my review of the book. The last part of it deals with how he treats rival ideas, although I had to cut it short because the review was already becoming too long. But, that kind of language is sprinkled throughout the book, and it was one my main turn offs. He was essentially telling his readers to discredit "right wing" ideas and consider his as the only correct ones, which I think is a disservice to the reader and contradictory to what a science attempts to provide.

      And yea, I have that same problem too. I spend a lot of time on my thoughts, and then I find myself strapped for time when I want to read other people's stuff. I can't get to as many blogs as I'd like to, and it's hard to read the news if it involves something more than reading the first few paragraphs and then skimming the rest. At one point I wanted to post shorter posts that are more to the point, but then it happened that it made me sound more unsophisticated. It's not the shortness of the posts per sé, but probably that I don't understand the material well enough to communicate it clearly and concisely.

  4. Again, as stated in previous comments of mine, I would like to refer people to reading this paper that was published in the International Journal of Applied Economics and Econometrics, regarding Smithian economics and Keynesianism...


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