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July 12, 2007


Seth Baum

Thanks for the link.

1 & 3 are fair points. GDP was never even supposed to measure welfare in the first place! Sawicky even supports the 'money is everything' frame himself by using the phrase 'economic welfare'. Why not just 'welfare'?

2 is basically a criticism of Pareto optimality. PO does have good qualities- it just doesn't have as many as we'd like it to.

10 - A rare use of power in econ theory:
Rubinstein deserves a lot of credit for his recent work questioning economics orthodoxy. See also


Thanks for this as well. I think what first opened my eyes to some of the things talked about in the article was an excellent political economy course I took last fall. It picked up where my Econ 101 didn't trend: asymmetric information, regulatory capture, etc.

Seth Baum

I too was rather surprised by the internal debate within economics when I first learned of it last summer. In electrical engineering, we just didn't have such fundamental debates about the validity of our work: Either our gadgets functioned or they didn't, or either our models matched our experiments or they didn't. And if they didn't, we knew something was wrong and we tried fixing it.

Economics is a *much* harder field in the sense that it studies such ridiculously complicated systems that making sense out of it becomes an unreasonable request. However, I wish it had more humility about this.

Another good read is "The Story of a Reluctant Economist" by Richard Easterlin, a pioneer of the happiness surveys

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