The fact that many people refuse to do what works is a flimsy reason to humor them. And it is a terrible reason to endorse clear-cut errors like, “They just can’t do it.”
As far as I know, intolerant, thin-skinned, anti-intellectual educators have been around for… well, forever. What has changed is the Orwellian nature of their reaction to dissent.
A few months ago, Mike Huemer published a pithy defense of business in general, and big corporations in particular. Since I’ve made similar arguments in the past, my admiration for Mike’s essay is no surprise. Yet as I read, counter-examples and complexities sprang to mind. When is business unresponsive? When is government responsive? And why?
“Western civilization is being forced step by step into a state of civil war by the rising assaults of a revolutionary movement known as [redacted].”
Most research on the economics of discrimination focuses on race and gender, but Becker’s framework works equally well for political bigotry.
The economic analysis of politics goes by many names: political economy, rational choice theory, formal political theory, social choice, economics of governance, endogenous policy theory, and public choice. Each of these labels picks out a subtly different intellectual tradition. Each tradition expands our understanding of the world. My favorite, though, remains public choice.
What’s afoot? Orwellian doublethink of the highest order. Sure, the hated 1950 Loyalty Oath seems far less onerous than the new Diversity and Inclusion Vow. But the people who refused to sign the 1950 Oath were heroes standing up for freedom of conscience. The people who question today’s orthodoxy, in contrast, are hate-mongers who need to be excluded from high-skilled employment.
What are you supposed to do if you want to continue the good fight against social ills you’ve already practically driven to extinction? Move the goalposts all the way to Mars. These days, the world’s best detectives would struggle to find outright racists and sexists. Yet implicit racism, structural racism, implicit sexism, and structural sexism will always be in plain sight, because the definition expands as the phenomenon contracts.
During the last twenty years, I’ve lived through a series of public crises. 9/11. The Iraq War. The Great Recession. The Syrian Refugee Crisis. ISIS. Systemic sexism (“MeToo”). Systemic racism. And of course COVID-19. In each case, society’s demands have been the same.
Krugman‘s apparent embrace of this growth agnosticism is doubly puzzling. After a lifetime of study, a brilliant Nobel laureate still lacks anything useful to say about fostering growth? How is that even possible?