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« FSSO Award to Israel M. Kirzner | Main | Virgil Storr's Understanding the Culture of Markets (2013) »


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Great letter. It took me 2000 words to say what you fit into a single, short letter. Bravo. John Stuart Mill would be proud.

Sorry, butI prefer Boudreaux's impression of Bastiat mimicking Say

I'd like to see a graph juxtaposing consumer spending trends and private investment trends over the last 10 years or so. People love graphs!

Maybe I'll make that my own personal project.


Well done! I say it's time we all became a bit more rhetorically pugilistic. I've become decidedly more challenging to people when they say silly economic things anymore, or talk about "banksters", having sold to many banks and other capital markets players and never seeing any horns coming out of their heads.

We have to be very tough minded though. There is a tendency among academics to play the 'false balance' game in terms of being clear about what the arguments against a position one holds are, and how those arguments fare. The tone can become decidedly uninterested in a weird way, and while I admire objectivity, to me we are dealing with propaganda. We are dealing with nothing short of Orwellian efforts to contort knowledge towards politically desired ends via the use of language by the left.

Just listen to Obama. He's constantly quoting a 'broad range of experts' or a 'vast majority' or a 'consensus', and using other academic sounding formulations to gussy up his policy recommendations. His standard of truth seems to be rhetorical plausibility versus any connection to an occurring reality. He also has lots of pseudo-science to back him up, and he uses it with abandon, engaging in an orgiastic frenzy of his brand of "scientism", as Hayek called it. We need to show up those arguments.

We have to punch through the noise. I was hanging out with a retired principal from an Atlanta high school recently. She's black and female (our families are intermarried) and we were talking about Obama. I told her that my objections were purely about economics. When I explained, she simply didn't understand.

I asked her if she minded playing along with me, answering a couple of questions. The first one was: 1. What is money? She couldn't answer completely, but did better than most saying "you use it to buy things" - means of exchange, but missed store of value and unit of account. I then asked her: 2. How is wealth created? She could not answer at all. She knew nothing theoretically about he superiority of free exchanges and specialization etc.

I do this rather frequently now with my smart, and open Progressive friends. I find it really slows their roll a bit. When confronted with the fact that can't even explain the basics of our economy, a bit of humility usually arises quite naturally, at least for the moment. I'm not saying it's always appropriate, but from time to time it's a nice trick.

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