New issue of Econ Journal Watch

Volume 14, Issue 1, January 2017

In Memoriam (.pdf)

Government Propaganda Watch: Three investigations of economic discourse and research issued by governments and government agencies:

Classical liberal economic thought in Italy, since 1860: Alberto Mingardi contributes the 13th article of the “Classical Liberalism in Econ, by Country” series.

Econ 101 Morality: J. R. Clark and Dwight Lee tell teachers to embrace a moral purpose and to teach students where their instincts came from and why instincts often mislead.

Must moral judgment involve sympathy? Thomas Brown’s 1820 critique of Adam Smith.

Mitchell Langbert and coauthors rectify a coverage error in their study of faculty voter registration.

EJW Audio

Alberto Mingardi on Liberalism in Italy

Benny Carlson on Swedish Economists

EJW News

Professor Sir Angus Deaton joins EJW Advisory Council.


[study of faculty voter registration]

".... the overall ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans remains what it had been, 11.5 : 1 "

... " In the September 2016 issue of this journal we published “Faculty Voter Registration in Economics, History, Journalism, Law, and Psychology,” which focuses on the ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans among faculty at 40 top universities...
In the present correction .... The two {previously omitted} Florida universities are very much like the average of the 40 universities we had reported on, so the overall results remain basically the same... "


Diversity & GroupThink-caution is so highly valued and promoted at American universities .....

"Propagandistic Research" contains some truth, but runs a bit like a high speed fisking of government interest in energy efficiency.

I think two things can be true at the same time:

1. Consumers can make sub-optimal choices.

2. Regulators can make sub-optimal responses.

Example: I think we do need some encouragement to higher mpg because 1, and must accept silly fleet and vehicle class rules because 2.

A relatively modest national gasoline tax would have achieved the same thing with higher economic efficiency, but that was off the table for 1 as much as 2. Consumers who don't want a tax kind of liked mandated efficiency as a "free lunch" (which it is not, of course).

The 'two things can be true at the same time' mantra is a good one for defusing blind partisanship.

(I would have greatly preferred a carbon/fuel tax to byzantine regulation, but I'm just one voter. Regs are stickier and less visible than taxes)

Not sure what distinction they're going for with commutive vs amiable morality, but then I'm an absolutist, believing in just plain morality.

Still, with the ever increasing reliance on feelz AND with the rise of moral judgment, it sounds like a good Socratic exercise. You think that, say, Welfare is good, you must square that with wasting tax dollars on NASA.

I loved "101." It is right up my alley. I think too much philosophy, politics, and economics is rooted in a never-happened tale of "imagine a man alone in the wilderness, voluntarily forming associations of society."

Before we were human tribes we were pre-human tribes. Amiable morality runs deep (though it is easily understood by our dogs).

Could you explain, then, the distinction? I agree partly the absurdity of 'imagine a man, or two, rationally forming society in the wild'. An absurd but nonetheless useful mental exercise for determining fairness, but it is not where fairness originated. Lobsters exhibit a dominance hierarchy without much nervous system-lots of traits and ideas pre date enlightenment style rationalism. Morality did not begin with men saying I will not hit you if you do not hit me, it began with we must not hit each other in this holy place. Early man did not cultivate hygeine, they first purified themselves for the altar, then found themselves clean. We did not get holidays for men until we first had Holy days for God.

Anyway, getting carried away. What's the difference? I don't understand their terminology.

I only read half, but what I got, as you say, is that amiable morality is more felt than calculated, more the water through which we swim.

When does mundane morality come in? I am not sure, but it strikes me that it could be an attempt to rationalize, formalize the other kind. If no one should beat up our sister, maybe we should formalize to no one beating up anyone's sister.

I think their argument is that humans are prone to morality of egalitarianism, fairness and sacrifice that is based towards face-to-face or targeted beneficiaries. They want students to better appreciate the moral sentiments of the non-benevolent butcher.

I agree with the sentiment of the authors but I think there's a strong ideological prior in that article, which is consistent with the journal. The way they describe hostiltiy to free markets seems to imply "why aren't everyone strong economic libertarians after taking econ 101".

I think its quite easy to think that markets and liberalism (of both kinds) have led to increased happiness and prosperity, as well as not being totally opposed to government policies. Most people are implicitly this.

Ok, I can appreciate the difference then. Not moral but epistomological differences- a properly functioning human should be able to detect morality Intuitively (the same way we sense 2+2=4), and methodologically (do as you would be done by, also envision yourself as a Lockean Brain In A Jar). We have problems when the two approaches disagree, which can be seen in our modern political economics.

Propaganda Research:

Daniel Sutter is a member of the Heartland Institute, which as Nature states "Despite criticizing climate scientists for being overconfident about their data, models and theories, the Heartland Institute proclaims a conspicuous confidence in single studies and grand interpretations....makes many bold assertions that are often questionable or misleading.... Many climate sceptics seem to review scientific data and studies not as scientists but as attorneys, magnifying doubts and treating incomplete explanations as falsehoods rather than signs of progress towards the truth. ... The Heartland Institute and its ilk are not trying to build a theory of anything. They have set the bar much lower, and are happy muddying the waters."

Just to provide some information on the potential bias of the article.

Slip & Drift -- perhaps addressed in the paper but seems like a potential chicken-egg type problem. If minorities have been underpaid then they might realize that only doing what they need not to be fired is the actually agreement -- less pay, and less productivity but still have the requirement to be on the job. Would need to adjust the value of the time on the job not working as compared to time off the job. So seem it may well be a simple, sure it's the efficiency criteria but not necessarily still not the exact problem people seem to see.

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