Good tweet on narratives and morality

Make of this what you will.  I think reading it as Smith underplaying morality is unfair – but reading it as economic language/narratives being used to underplay important moral arguments that may be necessary for important coordination games is fair.

When I was recently asked who my favourite economist was I named my partner, but pointed out Tirole was a close second.  I also discovered my third fav, Dixon, is on twitter.  Both Tirole and Dixon use standard economics models to explain things we observe while focusing on the types of assumptions we make and their credibility – they use models for clarity of exposition, and I love it.

Incentives: parenting tweet edition

This from @JustinWolfers is in the running for tweet of the year:

QOTD: On politics and economics

I was chatting about some policy recently with another economist, when they came out with this great line about how some policy was being reported (overseas):

Every political editor loves it and all the economics editors are unimpressed.

What does this mean?  What does this imply about politics and economics?  I’ll leave it up to you to discuss that – I’ll just giggle 😉

Discussion Tuesday

From some lecture notes by David Autor:

It’s nearly impossible to overstate the value that economists ascribe to cleverness. (Like most obsessions, this one is not altogether healthy.)

QOTD: Andrew Dickson and Bill Kaye-Blake

While the blog was out of action I noticed a lot of people linking the following article by Andrew Dickson and Bill Kaye-Blake (from Groping to Bethlehem).

All the links focused on how the article made the case for a tax on sugar.  That is fine and all, it was an externality case that we can discuss, appeal to evidence and value judgments on, and then decide whether we agree or not.  In fact, I get the impression that is the exact point that the authors are raising after setting up the pro-argument.

However, I didn’t get the impression that many people made it to the second half of the article (given the way it was used) – and the second half was absolutely glorious.

The second half starts with this: Read more

QOTD: John Roemer on Equality of Opportunity

Unrelated note:  I am not around too much atm, so as you may have noticed I am not replying to comments at the moment.  I intend to catch up on the comments I missed later in the week, so please still comment.  Things are a tad busy is all 😉

From the start of his book “Equality of Opportunity” comes the following quote from John Roemer.  Note that the two poles, non-discrimination and leveling the playing field, are described earlier in the book.  Also, equality of opportunity isn’t necessarily the only principle of distributive justice.  However, taking these as given we have:

Among citizens of any advanced democracy, we find individuals who hold a spectrum of views with respect to what is required for equal opportunity, from the nondiscrimination view at one pole to pervasive social provision to correct for all manner of disadvantage at the other.

Common to all these views, however, is the precept that the equal-opportunity principle, at some point, holds the individual accountable for the achievement of the advantage in question, whether that advantage be a level of educational achievement, health, employment status, income, or the economist’s utility or welfare.

Thus there is, in the notion of equality of opportunity, a “before” and an “after”: before the competition starts opportunities must be equalized, by social intervention if need be, but after it begins, individuals are on their own.  The different views of equality of opportunity can be categorized according to where they place the starting gate which separates “before” from “after”.

Read more