There's nobody here but us chickens.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Overhead online

On whether university economics skews you politically rightwards:

I never was taught basic economics (Latin and Greek were thought to be much more useful), but the logic of a rightward shift seems pretty straightforward to me.

First, you are taught how to conjugate a verb. That would be Latin 101.

Metella est mater. Quintis est filius et ambulat in hortum. Hic, haec, hoc. (This is all I can remember)

Then you spend the next 5 years learning all the 20,000 exceptions to the rule. That would be real Latin.

Similarly, Econ 101 is for libertarians, while economy is for, huh, real economists. The libertarians never get past the Esperanto-like first grade version of Latin.

They only learn the first bit: how markets work. They never get round to the second, far more frustrating bit: markets don’t work all the time, and can indeed fail disastrously. The invisible hand often needs guidance.

Jasper Emmering at Crooked Timber.