Pluperfect Economic Idiocy

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It’s amazing that people publish this sort of stuff. Not the writers for of course there are innumerable people who can type and also know nothing. But something like MIT Technology Review will at least claim to have layers of editors and fact checkers who ensure that dribbling idiocy doesn’t get into the magazine.

So much for the economic education of the people at MIT Technology Review therefore:

In a famous essay from the early 1930s called ā€œEconomic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,ā€ Keynes imagined the world 100 years in the future. He spotted phenomena like job automation (which he called ā€œtechnological unemploymentā€) coming, but those changes, he believed, augured progress: progress toward a better society, progress toward collective liberation from work. He was worried that the transition to this world without toil might be psychologically difficult, and so he suggested that three-hour workdays could serve as a transitional program, allowing us to put off the profound question of what to do when thereā€™s nothing left to do.

Keynes thought that the capitalist and free market application of technological advance would largely solve the problem of economic scarcity. In the terms of what he was talking about – clothing, shelter, food, energy and so on – he was largely right.

Keynes and his policy vision fell out of fashion when the laissez-faire fundamentalism championed by Milton Friedman carried Reagan and Thatcher into global power. The old view of the future yielded to an era of deregulation and privatization. This was the ā€œEnd of History,ā€ with the free market as the properā€”perhaps even inevitableā€”vehicle for human nature.

Friedman thought that the capitalist and free market application of technological advance would largely solve the problem of economic scarcity. In the terms of what he was talking about – clothing, shelter, food, energy and so on – he was largely right.

The most famous and influential critic of economics remains Marx. Keynes didnā€™t think highly of the man; in the British economistā€™s reflections on visiting Soviet Russia in 1925 he declined to name him, instead making pointed references to ā€œavariciousā€ Jews. But the commie who is not to be named had a different vision for the future of economic development.

Marx thought that the capitalist and free market application of technological advance would largely solve the problem of economic scarcity. In the terms of what he was talking about – clothing, shelter, food, energy and so on – he was largely right.

The thesis of the article being that Marx was right, Keynes was wrong and Friedman was really, really, wrong.

Seriously, how does such idiocy get through the publishing process?

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Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I can’t even be bothered with the ‘technology’ part of this publication (which I used to read regularly when I worked in tech). It’s all become predictable lefty hand-wringing – see also Scientific American (the ‘Scientific’ part probably needs to be in sneer quotes, these days).

Spike
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Spike

Likewise, I was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, my first year out of university, because, “civil liberties.”

Spike
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Spike

No matter which side the authors take, your framing of their quotes suggests that Marx, Keynes, and Friedman were essentially similar. No, they were essentially different, even if they agreed on one thing if that thing is sufficiently constrained.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I’m sure Tim wasn’t suggesting that the areas where those three disagreed weren’t much greater (and more significant) than those where they agreed. Actually, if we ever reach the point of “fully automated luxury communismĀ®” (many decades, if not centuries, hence), economics – which is essentially the science of the optimal allocation of scarce resources.

Spike
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Spike

Do you want to finish that thought? “Will be obsolete” is what I’m guessing.

If so, I disagree. While not so many lived comfortably at Y2K, allocation was pretty much worked out. Then new scarce resources emerged, such as gigahertz bandwidth and treatments for AIDS. Economics, also the study of what works and what doesn’t, will continue to be relevant.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Thanks for correctly interpreting my intention, Spike. I could also have made it clearer that I don’t think this ‘socialist’ utopia is ever likely to occur, but it’s fun to read about it in (e.g.) Iain M Banks novels.

Gavin Longmuir
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Gavin Longmuir

“Economic possibilities for our grandchildren” ?

This from Keynes who famously said “In the long run, we are all dead” — which has often been interpreted to mean “Party On, Dudes! Forget about those grand-kids”.

Pcar
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Pcar

@QV

+1

Why would anyone look to MIT for economics, SS etc insight?

As you say, march through education etc now complete, march through media almost complete

Go back in time on youtube and you’ll see clear evidence of Left, Green, SJW promotion on BBC/ITV children, docu and drama

eg Cats Eyes series 1 episode 8 (1985)
Left SJW immigration and anti-British promoted – little wonder it’s now accepted by many given decades of subliminal promotion
eg @ 49m and earlier entitled Guardianista Registrar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aU77e3hg1w