Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Am Not Rational

At least by this assessment:

If the theories of economists are harmful to the general welfare, why doesn’t someone try to persuade the public that these theories are mistaken? 

Collective action in this sense is infeasible. If we instead consider the efforts of a single individual, the cost in terms of time and effort of discrediting an economic theory is substantial, while the benefits are dispersed over many people and so are comparatively small. In any case, the efforts of one person are unlikely to be decisive in swinging the consensus of economists away from a given erroneous theory. It follows logically that the rational decision for an intellectual consumer is to be inactive on this front, and even to be ignorant of the flaws in economic theory.


The Arthurian said...

Oh I know! I spend my whole life trying to convince a few friends to stop rejecting one idea long enough to actually consider it. But there's just no way to get through to these people!


Jazzbumpa said...

Art, Art, Art -

I always consider your ideas before I reject them.

On a slightly more serious note, I think you realize that 1) my differences with you are frequently at a nuance level, and 2) I'm trying to get you to look at your ideas a) in a broader context, or b) from a different PoV.

On an extremely more serious note, Keen is still right.


(O)ct(o)pus said...

… theories of economists are harmful to the general welfare ...

It can also be argued that proper nutrition and clean drinking water are long-term causes of mortality in 100% of the population. Therefore, it is better to confront the inevitable, sooner rather than later, with austerity, budget cuts, and mass starvation.

Jazzbumpa said...

Octo -

That's cold.


(O)ct(o)pus said...

I have often wondered where John F. Kennedy cribbed the phrase, “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

Researching the Internet yesterday for a clue, I finally located a source: Huitzilopochtli (plus a curious codicil from the Republican Party).

If you want to serve your country and heed the call of the GOP – which means pull the plug on FEMA, emancipate seniors from Social Security slavery, cast out MediScare, and gut food safety regulations - please note: Human sacrifice is pleasing to Huitzilopochtli.

No money for disaster relief? No problem! Let hurricanes drown all deadbeats on the Federal dole. Distribute emergency food to the hungry? Let them eat brioche! Only 28,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths from tainted food each year? Save money with salmonella!

With fewer folks making demands on the gubbermint, more supplies will surely trickle down to the rest of us. After all, human sacrifice is pleasing to Huitzilopochtli.

How many sacrificial human beings will it take to balance the budget? Start with the middle class but leave out billionaires, because everyone knows billionaires have no hearts worthy of sacrifice, which is not pleasing to Huitzilopochtli.

Huitzilopochtli will be counting on us to do our civic duty. So ask not what Republicans can do for you – ask what you can do for Republicans.

BadTux said...

Of course, the assumption above is that there is such a thing as rational decisions in a marketplace. I have thus far seen little or no evidence that such a thing exists, just presumptions by "economists" who have no understanding of how businesses actually work and no notion of the realities of how people actually decide to buy the things they buy.

Think about it: we have an ENTIRE INDUSTRY predicated upon the assumption that the consumer IS NOT rational. How does any economist who believes in the notion of rational markets justify that belief given the existence of Madison Avenue and associated advertising industry, which is 100% devoted to tricking people into making *irrational* decisions about what goods to purchase? Do they completely ignore the evidence of their own eyes while proposing ridiculous things like "rational markets" when, if there was such a thing as rational markets, an entire *industry* devoted to the fact that "the market is irrational" would be vaporized into dust?!

Delusional. That's all I have to say. Some people are delusional, completely out of touch with objective reality, so caught up in their models and fictions that they have no clue as to what happens in real life. Gah, the crazy, it burns, it burns!

- Badtux the Reality-based Penguin