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Friday, January 14, 2011

Could I have changed Krugman's mind?

by John MacBeath Watkins

Paul Krugman has consistently argued for years that morality and economics are not the same.  Today, he argued that morality is dictating the economic stands of many of those discussing the matter.  I can't help wondering whether this has anything to do with the comment I made on his post on Jan. 10, "Economics and Morality: Not the Same."  Krugman has in the past said he moderates the comments on his blog, though I'm sure at times this task falls to others, so I'm not at all sure he read the comment, but his turnaround is quite a coincidence.

Here's the comment I put on his "Monetary Morality" post today:

On Jan. 10, comment number 60, I posted the following in response to your blog post Economics and Morality: Not the same:

It is often obscured by the math and the charts, but economics is a science values. Adam Smith was by profession a moral philosopher, and Hobbes laid out the value system we still use; that the worth of a man is that which would be given for the use of his power, or his price.

The economic theory you embrace is tied to your view of morality. If you think merit is hereditary, no death dues, if you think the individual owes much of their success to the society that nurtured them, you'll approve of progressive taxation. We may as well deal with the moral content of the field.

More here: http://www.scribd.com...


Prior to that you had consistently argued that economics is not morality. Now you are arguing much as I have. If this is coincidence, that's fine, but if I influenced you in any way, it would be nice to be acknowledged. I doubt you went to the essay I linked to, but I put it up July 10, 2010, and it's based on a post on my own blog here: http://booksellersvsbestsellers.blogspot.com...

This is part of a longer work that I hope someday to profit from, so although it's flattering that I may have influenced one of my intellectual heroes, it's also potentially a problem for me.

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