Paul Krugman At The Guardian: ‘Asimov’s Foundation Novels Grounded My Economics’

Full piece here.

‘My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behaviour to save civilisation.’

If you just do the math, the rest will fall into place, including all of those people, and their behavior.

Perhaps Jerry Pournelle’s chart could be useful, as Pournelle was a sci-fi writer who ended up closer to Burkean conservativsm.  Statism is on the -x-axis, and rationalism on the -y-.  You’ll have to follow the link.  The world could always use a few smart people much less sure of their plans for everyone else.

Check out Pournelle’s Iron Law Of Bureaucracy.  What could go wrong?


It’s not like Steven Chu, Secretary Of Energy, doesn’t know a lot about physics, but what will be the consequences of the outcomes he wants for Americans and why?


Related On This Site:  Tuesday Quotation: Jerry PournelleRepost-Youtube Via Libertarianism.Org-David Friedman: ‘The Machinery Of Freedom’ …not everybody has gotten the master-plan…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…I’m much more inclined to believe it is if there’s a defense of Jeffersonian liberty and Adam Smith’s invisible hand: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion? Rationalism and Utilitarianism On The Rise?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Liberalism should move towards the Austrians, or at least away from rationalist structures?:  Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

Repost-‘Fareed Zakaria At Time: ‘Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?’

Full piece here.

Zakaria, of course, notes the current high level of partisanship.  I’ll add that I think it will stay highly divided for at least the next presidential cycle if the past is any indication.  Some libertarians I know believe this current partisanship is due to a failure of liberalism to be classically liberal, and instead has slipped into a more Continental Leftist pattern of excess since the 60’s of protest and identity politics.  To them, the Right’s response (the rise of overtly partisan news agencies, demagoguery) and redefining the founders intent to combat such excess started out on a good foot, but has merely led to a populist resurgence and unthinking political loyalty which furthers the growth of the State.  Perhaps libertarianism rises in opposition to liberal administrations.

Zakaria doesn’t seem to think such a partisan fight is good in the long run.  As he’s noted elsewhere, perhaps America’s staying the same, a victim of our successes and stability of our political structures that now serve the past and keep us from the future, while other countries rise and move ahead:

‘It’s not that our democracy doesn’t work; it’s that it works only too well. American politics is now hyperresponsive to constituents’ interests.’

and, like the British after WWII:

“British society grew comfortable, complacent and rigid, and its economic and political arrangements became ever more elaborate and costly, focused on distribution rather than growth. Labor unions, the welfare state, protectionist policies and massive borrowing all shielded Britain from the new international competition.

In order to break from this potential sclerosis, we have to get away from a kind of insularity, Zakaria suggests, and perhaps looks to copy and innovate (anything, really) from other countries, economies and the strategic necessities (Europe, trade).  These tools that have led others to success can allow us to duck our heads for a while and make some changes..

This is not a question of too much or too little government, too much or too little spending. We need more government and more spending in some places and less in others.’

Point taken.  He finishes with:

“In the past, worrying about decline has helped us avert that very condition. Let’s hope it does so today.”

Addition:  As a reader points out, perhaps just splitting the difference is not enough in the face of the Affordable Care Act, the current administration’s green ambitions, and a fairly left of center immigration policy.  The non-partisan talk is wearing thin.

Also On This Site:  Richard Feynman also made a point about bureaucracies after investigating the Challenger disaster: Repost: Richard Feynman at NASA…Henry Kissinger has a few quotations about the necessity and dangers of bureaucracy:  .Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger

How do you save egalitarianism from the egalitarians and their own intentions? (the touch math crowd, the-everyone-learns-in-their-own-way pedagogy) if you need a new round of educational excellence and investment in the future?  A Shortage Of Skilled American Workers At Microsoft?

America in Decline?: Fukuyama seems to think so, but maybe he’s still reeling from the Iraq war…From The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?…Richard Lieber’s not necessarily convinced:  Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set..Add to Technorati Favorites