Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bummed Out

I've been in a melancholic mood the entire day. I woke up and, like I do every day, flipped on the television. I had apparently left the channel on MSNBC when I last turned the tv off, so I awoke to the speech this morning by Barack Obama on the current issues pertaining to our economy. Unfortunately Obama, like his Democrat counterpart Hillary Clinton, only argued for increasing what he termed "government oversight" to counteract "greed" along with various other populist talking points. Not only does he feel the need to disparage free trade (see the debate between he and Clinton at Cleveland State), a concept that no modern economist would dare argue to be an overall losing proposition and also a concept that was first popularized by David Ricardo nearly 200 years ago! Obama also feels that our economy would function more effectively with various government interventions, which would only be those which Obama and his cadre of policy makers deem appropriate. Ha! Surely it's not unreasonable to expect that, under the conditions without government distortion, people would be most capable of deciding what is best for them in their own respective transactions within the market. Surely one would not doubt the lessons of history, lessons that were cemented fairly recently with the falling of the Berlin wall and the unraveling of communism, which illustrate quite convincingly the failures of central planning and government micromanagement of an economy.

I'm sick of those who do not know of, nor have studied, the lessons of economics arguing against the free-market and all that the free-market system entails.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dec 30 1948

The American Economic Association hosted their yearly conference in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio in 1948. December 30th was the final day of the conference (a friday) that featured the organizer of that years agenda, Joseph Schumpeter, giving his closing speech on the state of, and overall role played by economics within the society at large. By all accounts this was a wonderful speech that left no economist--no matter the personal persuasion be they an adherent of Keynes or some other school--untouched, and all that witnessed this event firsthand attest that the lively Schumpeter was in top form.

Being from Cleveland and knowing of the diligence that is so typically characteristic of the Plain Dealer, I set out to dig up their coverage of this speech in our library's stash of microfilm. In the paper published on Dec 30th they do have a few paragraphs featuring comments from Schumpeter's colleague at Harvard Seymour Harris on inflation, and they also highlight Fritz Machlup's warning to economists not to grow disheartened at the slow transmission of intellectual ideas to the voting public at large that is so characteristic of the democratic political system. Machlup was speaking from experience as he witnessed firsthand the experiences of Europe in the early 20th century. But this days paper covered the events of the previous day. So I scoured the December 31st and January 1st editions of the paper while finding nothing on Schumpeter or his rousing speech. How can this be? How can there be not even a tiny article detailing the events when one of the most eminent economists of the day happen to be in your town? And at this time his eminence was surely recognized, many contemporary accounts indicate Schumpeter was regarded as perhaps the most famous economist in the world at the time. Though I may have missed a snippet on Dr. Schumpeter, he may have been mentioned inconspicuously, it remains a disappointment that a larger article could not have been devoted to a subject as pertinent and influential as that which Schumpeter spoke about.

It is disappointing that in a paper that dedicated large amounts of space to the business and politics of the day (perhaps more so than today even) there was no space provided for commentary on Schumpeter the man, what he meant to the study of society and economics, and the overall lessons of his speech.


The reason why I created this blog was for me to have a place to refine and improve upon my own personal writing skills while addressing topics that I feel are important or interesting. Nothing more, nothing less.