Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Clarification on Transcending Medieval Economics

have never put anything on the blog that must have been as unclear as the post on transcending medieval economics.  The point of what I was trying to make is relatively simple — although, in reality, nothing in such matters is really simple.  During the Enlightenment, people were discovering new things, especially because traders were bringing reports and material goods, from parts of the world that had previously been unknown.  Before that time, true knowledge was presumed to already be in existence, found in ancient texts, such as Aristotle’s.  During the Enlightenment, people were energetically looking around them for new information as well, especially because novel technologies were being developed faster than had been the case previously.  The quotation from Cook was intended to show the similarity between dogmatic nature of education prior to the Enlightenment and what passes as economic education today.


Support the Troops, sort of

I was asked to supply more information regarding my assertion that the military is worried about medical costs causing undue pressure on its budget and the need to cut back on what it offers to the troops:

Shanker, Thom and Christopher Drew. 2011. “Gates Sees Crisis in Current Spending.” New York Times (14 February). Continue reading

No more promises to break

Dear President Obama,


The election is nearing.  You have already broken most of your promises.  What are you going to do when you run out of new promises?  May I take the liberty that you hurry up and make some new promises so that people do not lose faith in your capacity to fearlessly break promises, which has been the hallmark of your presidency?

Transcending Medieval Economics

In my new book, Sex, Lies and Economics, about early economics of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, one of the constant themes is the struggle against the medieval thinking.  Beginning with William Petty, the early economists I am analyzing were following the new science, which emphasized close observation to replace received dogma.  Here is a nice description of how the dogma was presented at the time.  Notice how closely the medieval method resembles the scholastic method that the early economists opposed.  In this sense, we are losing ground.


Matters of exchange: commerce, medicine, and science in the Dutch Golden Age by Harold John Cook:

Continue reading

Have you seen any reporting about Chevron’s email?

Baskin, Brian and Ben Lefebvre. 2011. “Chevron’s Email ‘Oops’ Reveals Energy Giant’s Sway Over Markets.” Wall Street Journal (16 July): p. B 1.

Baskin, Brian and Ben Lefebvre. 2011. “Chevron’s Email ‘Oops’ Reveals Energy Giant’s Sway Over Markets.” Wall Street Journal (16 July): p. B 1.

A Chevron Corp. employee’s email blunder gave a rare—and unintended—glimpse into the inner workings and rich profits of its energy trading operations. The midday email, inadvertently sent Friday to media organizations, contained spreadsheets, tables and charts that gave a breakdown of Chevron’s profits, losses and exposures trading crude and refined products such as gasoline.

Priorities in a declining empire

Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1954. “The Economic Crisis of the Tax State.” International Economic Papers, 4; reprinted in Schumpeter, Joseph A. 1991. The Economics and Sociology of Capitalism, ed. Richard Swedberg (Princeton: Princeton University Press): pp. 99-140.

“… public finances are one of the best starting points for an investigation of society. The spirit of a people, its cultural level, its social structure, the deeds its policy may prepare — and this and more is written in its fiscal history.” He cites Goldscheid. 1917. Staatsozialismus order Staatskapitalismus. “the budget is the skeleton of the state stripped of all misleading ideologies.”

Following Schumpeter, the budget debates illustrate the kind of life that the rich and powerful wish on the rest of society.  Get rid of the social safety net, destroy unions, turn the clock back to the nineteenth century.  And yes, a bloated military to fight in every corner of the world.

The one area that the Obama is willing to rein in military spending is on medical care for the troops — at least Robert Gates emphasized that approach.

What is weird is that virtually nobody with access to the public media is talking sense.  Even the unions seem to be swallowing the Kool Aid.

campaign finance reform

We would be better off if we were to be open about one dollar one vote — what H. L. Hunt proposed back in the 50s.  Let the candidates collect their funds, turn the money over to the government, the one with the biggest package wins.  No need for recounts, election frauds, etc.

Sex, Lies, and Economics: please help

I have just finished my introduction to the book, which is shaping up.  I would very much appreciate any comments.


Obama, Social Security, My Totalled Car

I young student side-swiped our car a few days ago totaling it.  We need a new one.  I can do everything on a bike, but Blanche cannot.

I had read that Hyundai was making good low cost cars.  We went to see them yesterday.  I was appalled how much of the car was made of cheap plastic that was very vulnerable and sure not to last.  It seemed like a disposable vehicle.

The article about the quality of the GM cheap car struck home.

The car made me think about the CPI.  I am sure that such quality deterioration will not show up in the cost of living, speeding up Obama’s plan for undermining Social Security via the Consumer Price Index.

Sex, Lies, and Economics Video

I was invited to give a lecture to the Annual Summer Institute of the History of Economic Thought.  The people there mostly tend to be followers of Hayek or James Buchanan, who was the keynote speaker.  Although the people there are very conservative, every one of them was open to constructive dialogue, making the eperience very constructive and very enjoyable.

Here is the video of my lecture.