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1 Bob Levin  Sun, Feb 5, 2012 2:49:34am
The mistake, popularized largely by economists, was to believe that regulation of the economy could be derived from theory and converted into practical precepts for policy. The reality is that economic life is not solely described or dictated by rhythms suggested by economic models. It moves in response to institutions, technologies, beliefs, and cultures that follow their own logic, sometimes with completely unexpected, mystifying, and terrifying consequences.

Well, he gets there eventually. However his history of the 20th century is a version that would be taught in classes about economic theory. Left out were two World Wars, at least 3 social revolutions, 3 worldwide political revolutions….

2 Romantic Heretic  Sun, Feb 5, 2012 4:02:42am

As near as I can figure (not enough sleep or coffee at this time) the article boils down to, “Time to stick the elderly and disabled on an ice floe. They’re a drag on the economy.”

One of these days we’re going to realize that there’s nothing ‘natural’ about economics and we’re going to stop pretending it’s like gravity.

3 freetoken  Sun, Feb 5, 2012 4:11:52am

re: #2 Romantic Heretic

As near as I can figure (not enough sleep or coffee at this time) the article boils down to, “Time to stick the elderly and disabled on an ice floe. They’re a drag on the economy.”

Yeah, I got that feeling too.

What the article doesn’t tackle is what really is “the economy”, and whether societies can be changed or not. It’s all a bit fatalistic.

Human interactions are full of chaos (mathematically speaking.) Difficult to predict with much confidence.

4 Decatur Deb  Sun, Feb 5, 2012 4:29:01am

Stopped reading in detail after the second sentence. Hitler had his cadre and was well on his way five years before the Great Depression.

5 Bob Levin  Sun, Feb 5, 2012 3:40:35pm

It was written by Samuelson, so basically he spent a lot of time discrediting economic explanations of history and current events. Unfortunately, there are a lot of economic explanations of history and current events.

I didn’t get the impression he was saying something other than—gee, we need to think about this differently.

I was a bit puzzled by his thoughts on gold, since the Nazis looted the gold from every place and people they conquered. And this gold didn’t hurt their ability to get financing for their killing machine. The US didn’t officially abandon the gold standard until Nixon. I’m not saying he’s wrong, just that I would ask that question.


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