Hot take on economics 

I have heard people talking about "economics" and "economic systems" as if they're this unnatural thing imposed on innocent humans. But the fact that we use the same word for both the thing being studied and the science of studying it is just an unfortunate word choice.

"Economics" is really just the study of a particular class of human activity that pre-dates agriculture. An "economic system" is what you have any time you have a complex society.

...

Hot take on economics 

So "not having economics" just means ceasing to care about a particular class of human activity. It doesn't make that activity stop. And having an "economic system" isn't optional; it's just a question of whether you pay any attention to what that system actually is and how it behaves.

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Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid i agree, but i don't quite understand. who is for "not having economics"?

Hot take on economics 

@o I don't remember who it was specifically and don't want to point fingers at people anyway. It's even possible I misunderstood them. My point is a general one.

Hot take on economics 

@o I suspect it's a similar issue to the widely varied definitions of "markets" and "capitalism" that people use. They might have been talking about the combination of macroeconomics and finance, in which case there's a reasonable chance I at least partially agree with them.

Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid So ...

Back on Google+, there were a set of self-described Libertarians (and @woozle will remember some of these conversations -- they're not one, but were a fellow participant) who I'd occasionally engage with mostly to try to understand what the hell they were on about.

This included a few rounds trying to suss out just what they meant by terms such as "markets" and "capitalism", in particular.

It's one thing to disagree with someone.

It's quite...

@o

1/

Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid ... tend to go quite poorly.

This includes reading and referencing their generally prefered sources (if you can even wrest these from them at all). Stuff like Hazlitt, Rothbard, and von Mises, if you're lucky.

There was one YT vid in particular @woozle had turned up at one point, I _think_ it was "Objectivist Girl", discussing something. Which we realised was basically word salad. Oh, on von Mises and "praxeology". Let me see if I can find that...

@o

/5

Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid OK, it's "praxgirl", not "objectivist girl", though I had the gist of it.

Warning: this *WILL* rot your brain:

invidio.us/watch?v=MoNU_-__LlQ

@woozle @o

6/end/

Hot take on economics 

@dredmorbius @o @woozle I've read Economics in One Lesson. I've also read Economics for Real People (Gene Callahan's intro to Austrian economics), Free to Choose, and Machinery of Freedom. I think a big issue with libertarians is that they don't realize just how much the framework in which markets exist matters. There's no such thing as a "free market".

Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid For a long time my trite dismissal of Libertarianism was: "It's a fundamental inability to understand or acknowledge that wealth is in fact power."

When I finally started reading Adam Smith and found his "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power", I was gobstopped. That had been a principle gripe about economics (Libertarian or otherwise), and Smith directly confronted and acknowledged it.

There's another error I see now that is deeper: Weber & NAP.

@woozle @o

Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid #GreshamsLaw is ultimaely information-theoretical, and concerns *at a population level* (or market level) an inability to distinguish between fundamental or long-term value or costs, and short-term or immediately perciptible value.

And this strikes at the heart of market function *especially* for complex goods, services, or choices.

H.L. Menckin's "Bayard vs. Lionheart" is the best generalised case I've seen.

amomai.blogspot.com/2008/10/hl

@woozle @o

Hot take on economics 

@dredmorbius @o @woozle The market is not supposed to have individuals making choices based on thinking about particularly complex or distant things, though. Those things are supposed to be accounted for in the prices. But the market is amoral and contains biases and externalities. Ideally, the government should act to internalize those externalities, offset those biases, and introduce morality, but it often doesn't.

Hot take on economics 

@woozle @o @dredmorbius I am assuming you were using that as an example of problems with markets even though Mencken was talking about democracy, but we're expecting the government elected in that same way to somehow correct the failings of the market.

That said, the advantage of democracy in concert with a market system is that it's somewhat closer to one person one vote.

Hot take on economics 

@dredmorbius @o @woozle Frédéric Bastiat's The Law is a similar condemnation of democracy particularly when it comes to intervening in markets. Particularly he talks about the issue of focused interests winning out over dispersed ones. I'm guessing you've read it already, but in case you haven't it's pretty short, though longer than Bayard vs Lionheart. bastiat.org/en/the_law.html

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re: Hot take on economics 

@freakazoid @o @dredmorbius

"the issue of focused interests winning out over dispersed ones"

Is there a name for that?

(me in 2007: issuepedia.org/Preference_for_)

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