August 7, 2013

Translating "Fiat Citizenship" into economicsese

My Taki's Magazine article "Fiat Citizenship" points out that the Schumer-Rubio plan to print up millions of documents for "the undocumented" is similar in principle to the Weimar Republic's plan in 1923 to print up trillions of marks. A reader translates my point that politicians love nickel and diming the public for the sizable benefit of lobbies into proper economicsese:
Nice article. "This willful ignorance isn’t surprising because politicians love giving big handouts to small numbers of people by nicking a small amount from big numbers of people." In Economics terminology/buzz words: politicians love doling out 'concentrated benefits with diffuse costs.' The low cost incurred by any single individual creates a 'collective action problem.' The same predicament was addressed in tort law by allowing class action lawsuits.

So, you can use this jargon when addressing economists. Of course, these days they are more devoted to adding to the wealth of their paymasters than of understanding how things work, so don't expect to induce much comprehension in them.

3 comments:

A Working Class American said...

yup, gotta agree regarding economists--the whole religion of economics, er, I mean, the science of economics is oriented to the perspective of corporations.

As Chomsky has pointed out, economics is ideology. And when ideology becomes so pervasive and embedded into the fabric that it is unnoticeble, then it becomes religion.

Now we have this civic sacrament of The Most Sacred GDP. Everything must be seen through the filter of the GDP.

I suspect that immigration is the major factor behind any GDP growth for america. And that of growth is destructive of the nation. Which, come to think of it, wouldn't be a bad thing

Matthew said...

A major problem in dealing with rent seeking (concentrated benefits/diffuse costs) is that as the government gets larger and takes on more issues, the less likely it is that any single issue, aside from economic recession, will move enough people to swing an election. Congress wants it this way, of course - more power with less responsibility. What congressman would object?

If all that Congress did was regulate immigration we'd have much better immigration policies than at present, since most of the people who have strong feelings on the matter prefer less immigration and tougher enforcement, but, with so many other issues to distract people, immigration gets lost, and politicians in safe districts feel free to follow the bribes.

Ideally we'd have multiple legislatures each with very specific limits on their jurisdiction - one legislature for defense, one law enforcement, one for immigration, etc. - but that would come with its own set of problems.

Anonymous said...

So, you can use this jargon when addressing economists. Of course, these days they are more devoted to adding to the wealth of their paymasters than of understanding how things work, so don't expect to induce much comprehension in them.

WOW. Steve, your understanding of this is superior to some 99 per cent of even the so-called "sophisticated traders" that swallow all the bullshit that Krugman and Stiglitz regularly spout. This is all there is to know about modern economists (with some very rare exceptions).

What was that phrase by Bernard Baruch? "The markets were invented to separate the fools from their money". Quite.