Arnold Kling  

What I've Been Reading

Is Government a Menace?... The U.S. Welfare State...

1. Wilhelm Ropke's Political Economy, by Samuel Gregg. On p. 52, he describes three ways of allocating resources and assigns moral values to each method.

The first moral position was described by Ropke as 'the ethically negative' method: that is, solving the scarcity problem by employing force to take others' resources. The second was the 'ethically positive' method of altruism...The third was 'the business principle' --an ethically neutral method through which people increase their well-being by increasing the well-being of others.

I would say that the anti-market view confuses these three moral positions. This view treats government redistribution as if it were altruism, thereby confusing the ethically negative method with the ethically positive one. It also treats the business principle as if it were employing force, thereby confusing the ethically neutral method with the ethically negative method.

2. The Big Short, by Michael Lewis. Finally, some financial crisis porn that failed to grab me. I recommend the Charlie Rose interview with Lewis instead.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (5 to date)
david writes:

#2 has a broken link. Remove the "A".

[Thanks! Fixed.--Econlib Ed.]

Steve Roth writes:

>treats the business principle as if it were employing force,

Again, The Libertarian Fallacy: that coercion and constraint of freedom are only effected by government. The failure to acknowledge that any economic system -- even one with no rules and no government -- must always and everywhere coerce individuals.

The anthill does the coercing, not the (just) queen.

raja_r writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Lee Waaks writes:

To Steve Roth:

I don't think you are using the word force in the same manner as A. Kling/Ropke. I have, ex ante, been unhappy with market transactions (and may, unbeknownst to me, have been the victim of fraud), but I don't recall ever feeling genuinely forced in the manner Ropke/Kling mean. But there was a time when I behaved and thought as a leftist, and during this time period I felt resentment towards employers and big business in general. As a leftist, I would have happily signed onto the idea that I was the victim of force. But no longer. That's what learning economics does for you.

Prakhar Goel writes:


I am sure I have said this before but Mind and Society by Pareto (the same guy who came up with "Pareto optimal") is well worth the (long) read.

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