Friday, May 10, 2013

Free lunch tomorrow!

A long tome ago (I meant to wrote time but tome works also), RtO set out to learn how economics works. In terms of insihs gained vs. time invested, it was one of the most unprofitable investments ever, ad RtO never found an equation that was not, like the famous Drake equation in exobiology, all unknowns. But one line stuck, and it is as relevant today as in 1933. Objecting to the fantasies of the invisible handers, who promised we would all be better off in the long run if we would just take a dose of their snake oil today, Harry Hopkins said, "People don't eat in the long run They eat every day." The preposterous public statement of the star long-ender Niall Furguson (see previous comment) has produced a lot of comment, including this very good one from Lord Skidelsky, biographer of J.M. Keynes:
The principle of not sacrificing the present for the future can be seen in Keynes’s intolerance of persistent mass unemployment — sacrificing the current generation of workers to secure long-term improvements in the labor market. It emerges in his rejection of “debt bondage” — the imposition of crushing long-term obligations on borrowers, undermining their prosperity. “The absolutists of contract,” he wrote, “are the real parents of revolution.”
But please read the whole thing. That pretty much sums up where Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz have adopted their critique of the beggar-they-neighbor policies of Teconomics. (Stiglitz got his education in how tha works while watching the destruction wrought by the World Band and IMF and is, to my mind, more persuasive for that reason than the academically-oriented Krugman.

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