When Nobel laureate physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871 - 1937) claimed that "Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting" he was perhaps displaying the arrogance that comes with the territory of knowing certain fundamental truths that are denied to non-physicists. Economists too can be arrogant for similar reasons. They know something … Continue reading McCloskey on Economics, Economists and Physicists
Robert Heilbroner (1919 - 2005) defined socialism as "a centrally planned economy in which the government controls all means of production." Why is Heilbroner worth quoting on this matter? Because he knew what he was talking about. He was a committed socialist all his life. He was a best-selling author. His book The Worldly Philosophers: The … Continue reading What is Socialism?
“At the heart of economics is a scientific mystery: How is it that the pricing system accomplishes the world's work without anyone being in charge? Like language, no one invented it. None of us could have invented it, and its operation depends in no way on anyone's comprehension or understanding of it. ... The pricing … Continue reading AMA – Order Out of Freedom of Choice is a Scientific Mystery
There are fundamental facts about the nature of the world we live in which are unalterable by human desire or action. Conservation laws are an example of this. You cannot get something for nothing, on the aggregate. Certainly, A can get something for nothing but only if someone else, B, gets nothing for something. When … Continue reading On Taxes and the Nature of the Government of a Society of Morons — Part 2
Death and Taxes In 1789 Benjamin Franklin wrote that "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." I beg to differ. Unlike the certainty of death which is imposed by nature, taxes are entirely man-made and therefore avoidable. But most people accept taxes with the same resignation as they do … Continue reading On Taxes and the Nature of the Government of a Society of Morons — Part 1
A reasonable way to think about any subject -- science, engineering, technology, economics, etc etc -- is to base the analysis on fundamental principles. It's like using maths, starting with axioms and logically deriving theorems that can then be said to be true within that axiomatic system. If you know the underlying bits, you can … Continue reading Economic Principles and Immunity from Silly Ideas
In the previous post "Economics and Physics" I briefly explored why the basic explanations of physics are hard to understand and why the basic explanations of economics are easy to understand. Physics is called a "hard science". I believe it is hard in the sense that advances in physics are made by supremely intelligent people and … Continue reading Understanding Economics is Easy