In the past, I used to try and respond to all comments. Time constraints do not allow me that luxury any more. I sincerely appreciate the comments, however, and my thanks for those thoughtful comments. Some comments which call for a clarification or further elaboration of the subject, I will respond in subsequent posts.
I generally don’t censor comments and I don’t remove comments, however irrelevant to the post, unless it is pure spam. Some comments test my resolve about not removing comments. Those are the type which clearly indicate that the commenter has not bothered to read my post carefully, or has read it with sufficient prejudice that my point has been utterly misunderstood. Those comments are pure bullshit and against pure bullshit, even the gods struggle in vain, leave alone a mere mortal.
Usual rules of courtesy apply. Consider reading someone’s blog akin to visiting them at home. You are a guest and generally welcome. If one wishes to abuse the host, one should have the decency to leave the place, and do the abusing from a different place.
My distaste for poverty is only exceeded by my utter contempt for those who nurture that awful monster of poverty that chews up living human beings and spits them out like so much garbage. True evil to me is that impulse that disregards human suffering, and more often than not, that evil force emanates from ideology and dogma. Communism is one such evil; the other horror is organized religious dogma mostly represented by the monotheistic religions. The richer the organized religion, the more powerful it is, and has the will and the means to wreak havoc and cause misery. The Catholic Church is exhibit A. It has a shining history of centuries of wholesale murder and it has not deviated one bit from that unholy crusade to this day. Its most celebrated foot-soldier — nay, general — in its war against decency and humanity was Mother Teresa. Christopher Hitchens called her (among other things) the Ghoul of Calcutta. I call her Teresa, the Merciless.
A brief reminder is in order here because from time to time, I do resort to very simple economic models. The utility of simple models in assisting thinking about complex matters is under-appreciated by most of us whose professional interests do not require model-based thinking. In the hard sciences, physicists and cosmologists commonly use models to clarify their thinking and illuminate the essential features of the complex theoretical subjects they study. Where the search space of a solution is unmanageable large, simulations based on simple models come in handy, such as in meteorology.
Elegant models are amazing things. That is why economists do it with models. The study of the real world would be too confusing if it were not stripped of all inessential details. The hard part lies in figuring out which bits to retain and which to discard while creating the model. Model building is an art and the product is often a thing of spectacular beauty and elegance. They illuminate and enlighten; they capture the imagination and make accessible features of the real world that would otherwise be lost in a haze of misapprehension. It seems to me that learning simple models has to be part of a well-rounded education. Children should be exposed to simple models and then taken through the logical deductions that the assumptions imply. But I will not digress into models and our education system for now. What I want to do is quote a passage from Paul Krugman, an economist whom I especially admire for his clarity of thinking and exposition, about how serious economics is done. Continue reading “Model Based Thinking”