EconTalk — Arnold Kling

On: Morality, Culture and Tribalism.

Episode: N/A

Date: July 2018

Background: Economist.

Key Subjects:

  • Limitations of economics by assuming that human actors are rational, utility maximizing agents.
    • Economics: the science of maximizing wellbeing in a world of self-interests and scarce resources.
    • Problems in economics:
      • Aggregating individual preferences.
        • Something is lost.
      • Using “ceteris paribus” .
        • Making the assumption that everything else is constant.
        • Becomes an issue when one of the factors held constant is culture.
        • Holding human nature (or the sum of it) constant is troublesome.
        • Also, very few data points across time are constant – this muddles the discussion.
      • Compounding versus aggregation.
        • Compounding works out for everyone in the long run.
        • Necessitates aggregation which is sub-optimal in the short run.

Key Takeaways:

  • The tension between long-term compounding (ultimately, the boat rises for everyone) and short-term aggregation (in the short run, some are better off than others).

Worth Listening:


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