Thursday, July 31, 2008

Economics 101

From Megan McArdle, via Instapundit:

"Why aren't there hordes of economists studying meaningful alternatives to market capitalism? Because we've been experimenting with various other systems--both localism and extreme centralization--for over a century, and the experiment produces the same damn result every single time: human lives that are nasty, brutish, and short. . . . The idea that Chicago should scuttle the Milton Friedman Institute because it makes other professors unpopular with economic illiterates is shameful, and moreover, something that I presume few of these 'scholars' would tolerate if the ignorant were targeting their own fields. That this should be coming out of a university with Chicago's reputation for intellectual rigor is mortifying."

Socialism was tried at the Jamestown colony and it failed miserably. When the rules changed and the settlers worked for themselves, though, hunger ended almost immediately.


allen (in Michigan) said...

I understand that the Pilgrims also started out with socialism - they had communal agriculture. But the same thing that always happens with socialist agriculture happened and everyone started getting pretty hungry. Next growing season they had private plots and this worked out much better.

Melissa B. said...

Socialism--after a fashion--was even tried in the suburban high school in which I teach, and it was an abysmal failure. Anyone who thinks we're all equal and will all pull the load equally is whacko! BTW, Tara. R. is "guesting" for Take Another Look Thursday--please come on by and check it out!

Darren said...

Perhaps I confused Jamestown with the Pilgrims.

Melissa, I'm curious how socialism was tried at your school. Did the school take points from the A and B students and give them to the D and F students?

Fritz J. said...

Any economic theory is going to produce failure unless it takes human nature into account, and that is why socialism is an abject failure everywhere it has been tried. At the core humans are all selfish and lazy--even though we do not like to admit that fact--which socialism ignores. Then the proponents of socialism cannot understand why their marvelous sounding theories fail when the simple fact is that under socialism the lazy person receives as much as industrious one, which means that the lazy person has no reason to labor. Add in that no matter how hard the industrious person labors, under socialism he will not be rewarded more than the person who did nothing and you are trying to violate two basic characteristics of human nature which assures the failure of socialism.

Of course that failure to understand human nature also explains why the many social programs of the Democrats fail. What incentive is there for the poor to strive when the Democrats will support them through various welfare programs? Now this may sound cruel, but we can pour money down the rat hole of helping the poor from now until the end of eternity and all that will happen is we will keep those people poor and dependent upon our continued willingness to give them money. Only when we cease giving them money will the poor strive to support themselves and have a chance of raising themselves out of poverty. To be politically incorrect and blunt, hunger is a great motivator.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Jamestown could have enjoyed the dubious benefits of socialism, I don't know. But I do remember reading that the unmentioned reason for the hunger of the Pilgrims wasn't due to their ineptitude as farmers or the poor food-producing qualities of the region - after all, the natives didn't have all that much trouble getting by - but due to their communal agriculture practices.

After their first disastrous winter the Pilgrims discarded communal farming and all that's left of the first European experiment with socialism in the Americas is Thanksgiving.