29.11.16

TEACH THE CONTROVERSIES.

D. N. McCloskey's Economic Liberty as Anti-Flourishing: Marx and Especially His Followers really ought to be read in full, dear reader.

Let me direct your attention to this passage.
Some years ago I mildly remarked to a gathering of my beloved Department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago that the speaker who had just concluded his presentation, a fashionable Marxian imported from New York, just might not have got the economic history exactly right. The speaker responded in a sentence, "Oh, I see that you are a neoliberal"and sat down. That was it, and none of my colleagues, mostly themselves Marxians or Marxoids or cautious fellow travelers, would speak up to insist that he respond more fully to someone who after all had some claim to knowing a little about economics and history. I was startled by his exhibition of proud ignorance and saddened by the implicit agreement in the room that one is not to "listen, really listen, to one's friends' questions and objections"and certainly not to those of one's party enemies. The result of a century of name-calling-as-argument, from "Bernsteinian revisionism"and "economism"to "bourgeois"and "neoliberal,"and not listening, really listening, has had the scientific result one might expect.
Oh, plus she gets price theory, as a careful reading will reveal.  A sample:
In truth, after all, "surplus value"is "extracted"every time you exchange anything for something else—or else you wouldn't do it, would you, now? You are a "capitalist"when you buy a cup of coffee served by an "exploited"owner of a coffee shop. She gets the profit of a price higher than the lowest she would accept, and you get a cup of coffee for lower than the highest price you would accept—which is why exchange happens, earning a profit for both sides.
Strictly speaking, "profit" refers here to "consumer and producer surplus," but that's rivet-counting.

Plus a term of art, trade-tested betterment, that ought to enjoy wider circulation.  Hat tip to Cafe Hayek.

1 comment:

Dave Tufte said...

I am proud to say that I spend time in micro classes pointing out that buyers profit all the time.

I also point out that (supplier's) profits are what they get after they subtract fixed costs from producer surplus.

I also point out that it's possible to have fixed benefits, and these should be added to surplus generated with each marginal transaction. This goes a long way towards helping to explain how "feel good" markets work.