Thursday, January 30, 2014


Matt Yglesias has a great reframing of a key political issue in modern America.  Zachery Goldfarb pointed out:

As they cast about for ideas, Republicans are struggling to find policies that match the simplicity and gut appeal of such Democratic proposals as raising the minimum wage without violating core conservative principles by increasing spending or interfering with market forces. Many lawmakers are turning to conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute.

Matt then applied this thinking to another area of modern life:

Many of us in America are struggling to find weight loss strategies that don't require us to spend more time at the gym or eat less food. It turns out to be challenging.

I think this analogy is even more penetrating than pithy.  For example, I personally have never lost a lot of weight without exercise.  But exercise is unpleasant.  Still, it would be a mistake to have a personal policy that I will never, ever increase my amount of exercise.  That would be foolish.

It makes a lot more sense when you realize that an economy is a constructed object.  The rules seem so fundamental that we forget that there is a lot of social consensus that goes into it.  Other cultures have organized economic activity differently.  So it is an odd thinking that we just happened to get it all correct around the end of the twentieth century and there is no optimization left . . .


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