Not quite the last and there are more every day

This was the original post from Thomas Humphrey:

I would like to nominate Professor James Ahiakpor for the position of “Last of the Classical Economists.” This honorific title recognizes James’s stalwart and unceasing insistence that all monetary theorizing since the classical era of Hume, Smith, Thornton, Ricardo, and others has been a snare and a delusion, a retrogression not an advance. It honors James for never saying die, for never admitting defeat, for always pressing on, and for keeping alive the flame of classical monetary theory in this age of heretics, doubters, and dissenters.

I know James and think of him as one of the very few on my classical side of the fence. We have disagreed on things as friends might often do. But we are on the same side. Nonetheless, he is not the only classical economist, so I put up a follow up post to say so:

I think there are more classical economists around than Thomas Humphrey might have taken into account. I always call myself a classical economist to differentiate my views from those who have come later. And given my partiality to John Stuart Mill and Say’s Law, I don’t think there should really be any doubt where my views might be placed.

But let me also say there are more of us classical economists around than you might think. Not a lot but definitely more than just one. Can I therefore recommend to you David Simpson’s extraordinary and excellent, The Rediscovery of Classical Economics: Adaptation, Complexity and Growth (Elgar 2013). This is exactly what the title discusses, the importance of thinking about economic issues with the concepts that had existed amongst the genuinely classical economists at a time before the emergence of marginal analysis and our modern focus on equilibrium. If you read it, you will find modern economic theory not only a pallid imitation of what a true economic theory ought to be but also understand why our textbook version of economics has become near useless in either comprehending or managing our economies.

Following which James himself added this:

Delighted to see Steve’s post regarding the “Last Classical Economist.” I wonder why Tom thinks he has seen the last of the classical economists? Sure, J.M. Keynes used that term almost as a slur. That is why several upholders of the classical tradition, including Dennis Robertson and Ralph Hawtrey, shied away from it. But I embrace that label with pride, just as Steve and some others do.

In fact, after I’ve introduced my students to the evolution of modern macroeconomics that includes the seven schools of thought that I identify, they often ask to know to which I belong. Some express surprise when I tell them, “None!” The schools are (1) Neoclassical Keynesianism, (2) Post Keynesians, (3) New Keynesians, (4) Monetarism, (5) New Classicals, (6) Real Business Cycle Theorists, and (7) Austrians. (I leave out the Marxists.) I also mention that all but the post Keynesians have Nobel Prize winners among them. Several students also tend to ask me why not many economists, including our textbook authors, appear to be aware of the classical macroeconomic principles, including definitions of such terms as saving, capital, investment, and money, that I explain to them and they can clearly understand. My response tends to vary from “I don’t know” to “I’m still trying to find out myself.” You should the surprise look on their faces.

So, I believe there are more classical economists yet to emerge on the debating scene, Tommy!

And now Thomas Humphrey has re-entered, who is himself in many ways one of us:


My sincerest apologies for the oversight. I agree that there exist today more than one, and perhaps a sizable number of, classical economists, you being prominent among them.

And it was not the classical theory of distribution and growth, which, as you say, still has much going for it, that I was referring to. On the contrary, I’m a fan of Smithian and Ricardian distribution and growth theory. Rather I was referring to classical monetary theory, some of whose doctrines (but certainly not all, quantity theory and price-specie-flow ideas especially) have, it seems to me, been rendered obsolete, marginalized, and superseded by Chester Phillips-James Mead demand-deposit expansion analysis as well as by Keynesian, New Keynesian, and Post Keynesian doctrines.

I realize that you, as a major critic of Keynes and Keynesianism, will dispute all this. And you may be right in doing so. I’m just enunciating one view, namely my own and others like mine. In the spirit of letting a thousand flowers bloom, I hope you will indulge us even as you disapprove. That’s the beauty of doctrinal-historical conversations. They are willing to tolerate different views.

I might well dispute what Thomas wrote but it is a major advance even to see “Smithian and Ricardian distribution and growth theory” mentioned in a positive light. And to find Wicksell discussed, whichever side one might be on, is a return to some of the important debates of the past that have major implications today. And I do think James is right that it has taken three generations for economists to become brave enough to identify with pre-Keynesian economics which up until recently has been a no-go area for anyone interested in a career in economics, specially an academic career. But things are changing and it is very pleasing to see these shoots beginning to come up.

The Radosh-Horowitz riddle

Suppose Diana West had written the worst book ever on Roosevelt, Stalin and the Cold War. She hasn’t – she’s crafted one of the best books on this issue ever written – but suppose she had written one of the worst. Suppose the facts didn’t stack up. Suppose there were large gaps in her logic and in the analysis. Suppose it was a pot boiler badly crafted and convincing to no one. Suppose she had done that.

Well so what if she had. Throw it out there for others to deal with. Let it be refuted by those on the left if they have the nerve and the knowledge to do it. Let them unpick her errors and mistakes. Let them take the time and the trouble. If she can establish a case, even on really flimsy grounds, that Roosevelt’s White House was riddled with Soviet agents and that America’s strategy during World War II was shaped in major ways to suit the Soviet Union and Stalin, well, where’s the problem with that? It is an idea worth pursuing and even if the evidence had been thin, it’s not for people on our side to knock it over. There is nothing to be gained by doing the left’s work for them. Put it out and let it be debated.

And the fact is that there is no value whatsoever on the conservative side of politics for anyone on the right to attack West’s book, whether it is good, bad or mediocre. This is politics at its most dangerous, not some useless academic tearoom debate. This really matters if we are to understand the world we live in. Who cares whether there are some obscure errors in what she wrote that no one can see unless they have spent thirty years in an archive. How moronic and politically stupid do you have to be to challenge such a book, even if it is badly done. Whose interests are being served, and exactly why are they being served by seeking some pristine purity and perfection that no one else has ever achieved or could be expected to.

If people are such idiots that they actually think that the interests of the conservative side of politics are served by ridiculously high standards of scholarship that no one can meet, then they should get out of the political arena and sit in their archive and stay in the tearoom because they are useless to any kind of political debate.

The only interests that are served in attacking Diana West’s book are the interests of the left. No other. If that is not 100% obvious then these people are political fools of the highest order. And if they do understand that, who are they really and where are we then?

Occasionally you win one but the trends are still bad

This is from Andrew Bolt, under the heading, No discount for the Jew from Israel:

It is increasingly hard to tell the difference between the Greens-backed Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement and old-fashioned anti-Semitism.

Australian company Cinematic Strings advertises a product:

Cinematic Strings 2 is a completely redesigned and updated version of the original orchestral strings sample library. Whilst retaining the warm luscious tones produced in the world class Verbrugghen Hall of the Sydney Conservatorium, the new version features a sleek new interface and even smoother legato.

It offers a discount to students:

Supporting Students and Institutions Worldwide

We believe that the latest technology should be readily available to the education sector to facilitate learning and to keep training up-to-date and relevant to industry requirements. For this reason we offer a range of individual educational discounts to both teachers and students; we also have tailored packages available for universities and colleges that seek to incorporate a professional-level string library into their program.

And then it sends this reply to a Jewish student placing an order:

Hi Yossela,

I am very, very sorry but I will not be able to provide you with a student discount. We support the BDS movement worldwide and the cultural boycott against Israel until Israel ceases its illegal settlement activities in the West Bank and ceases its discrimination against the Palestinian people. Please see this website for further information

Please understand that this is not in any way directed at you personally and we have heard from many Israeli students who have been very sympathetic towards the Palestinian people. However we are fairly powerless here in Australia to act on behalf of the victims of oppression and so the BDS is the only way we can have a voice.

We wish you all the best in your future musical endeavours.

Kindest regards,

Alex and the CS team.

For the company to say this decision “is not in any way directed at you personally” is to actually explain one of the offensive things about it. Yossela is not being judged as an individual but as an Israeli, and specifically a Jewish Israeli. (Would the ban apply to him were he an Israeli Arab?) This is the tribalism of the Left – a tribalism that strips us all of our individuality and our individual worth.

Moreover, when that tribalism is then put into the service of a movement aimed at only one side in a conflict involving at least two parties, the other of which uses terrorism and preaches a religious hatred of its enemy, we must ask what truly lies behind this BDS movement. It smells like something very old and putrid.

But good news: it didn’t take long after this issue hit the Internet for Cinematic Strings to think again:

While we stand by our reasons, we can see now that this action itself may be construed as discriminatory, and therefore we will make discounts available to all students regardless of location. If Yossela would like to contact us again we will make the discount available to him


And here is the full story of why they thought again:

For any who think we can’t fight BDS: here’s a result. Within hours of the original blog post kicking off a Facebook viral avalanche from our readers, the company behind Cinematic Strings has, at least technically, backed down.

As I was writing a follow up post, the owners of Cinematic Strings posted the following in various places on Facebook and in emails (my emphasis). They appear to have backed down on refusing a discount to an Israeli.

We have seen it reported in the past few hours that we do not sell our product in Israel or to Jewish people and it is simply not true. We have always allowed anyone anywhere in the world to purchase CS2; we have sold many copies to Jewish composers both within and outside Israel.

However we have historically allotted discounts case by case, at our discretion. We did withhold a discount in support of an academic and cultural boycott; we did this in order to promote dialogue aimed at ending state-sanctioned discrimination against the Palestinian people. While we stand by our reasons, we can see now that this action itself may be construed as discriminatory, and therefore we will make discounts available to all students regardless of location. If Yossela would like to contact us again we will make the discount available to him.

Thank you to those who have contacted us personally and with whom we have had polite and constructive discussions. I hope this outcome will be satisfactory to all concerned.

Kind regards,

Alex Wallbank

Answering the first paragraph: we certainly never claimed they wouldn’t sell to Jews or Israelis: only that they wouldn’t give a discount that was available to any other nationality.

After posting earlier about the company in Australia that makes the software “Cinematic Strings 2” and who wouldn’t give an educational discount to an Israel, I fired off an email to a friend of mine. He just happens to be a top Hollywood music producer. I specifically asked him for alternatives. This is the answer I received (reproduced with permission):

I am horrified.

I am about to start a new movie and have been sourcing new library.

Cinematic Brass was on my shopping list. It is now OFF.

I will do everything in my power to alert other composers to this abomination. Divestment cuts both ways and Hollywood is a place where many well known Jewish composers reside.

Your email and its unlikely subject matter arrive on the cusp of my purchase decision, and was beshert.

As far as strings are concerned, I have invested in the product of a German company – Orchestral Tools – who make a brilliant library named Berlin Strings. They also have a woodwind library called, not too surprisingly, Berlin Winds. Now, I have no way of knowing whether OT are involved in BDS or not, but would suggest applying the same approach as was used with the Ozzie mumsers.

If anything of a similar nature occurs, let me know.

With fond regards,

So there you have it. One sharp email back to an Israeli asking for a perfectly reasonable student discount which would be offered to any other nationality in the world and repercussions can start.

I just want to say this to the owners of Cinematic Strings. This is not personal, it’s business. I have a theory, expanded here, that boycotting Israel (in this case unfairly refusing an academic discount purely on national origin) will harm the boycotter more than Israel. In his speech the other night Netanyahu very clearly laid out why boycotting Israel and Israelis is so evil:

“In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state. And by the way, only the Jewish state. Now, don’t take my word for it. The founders of the BDS movement make their goals perfectly clear. They want to see the end of the Jewish state. They’re quite explicit about it. And I think it’s important that the boycotters must be exposed for what they are. They’re classical anti-Semites in modern garb. And I think we have to fight them. It’s time to delegitimize the delegitimises.”

I’m very pleased Cinematic Strings have understood how their actions looked discriminatory but concerned about “we stand by our reasons”. I still feel slightly sorry for “Alex and the CS team”. They’ve been deceived into hating Israel by many years of brilliantly executed propaganda financed by an enormous amount of money. You’ve bought into lies that say we oppress people for fun, steal their land and build big walls to ensnare them. I’m sorry about those lies and that so many believe them, and I’m sorry the far less exciting truth hasn’t been explained properly.

As a business owner myself, I’d be upset if my Arab customers chose to boycott me. Fortunately the Arabs (including many in the disputed territories) have no trouble trading with my Israeli company to our mutual benefit.

Perhaps, through this process of us highlighting their BDS against Israelis (and only Israelis) they’ll come to see that we’re not evil, we don’t kill or steal for sport and we dearly would like to lay down our arms and tear down our walls. We’d do all that in an instant providing we can remain a Jewish nation and sanctuary for Jewish people while accepting any willing to live peacefully alongside us. Just like the Israeli Arabs I ate my lunch with today. We’d love to pull out our troops (they’re our children!) as soon as we know we won’t be blown up on buses and in pizza parlours. But right now, they’re trying to do this almost every day and they’re trying to fire rockets almost every day.

So the walls and the security devices stay in place and, at least on our side, we still yearn for a realistic peace and security.

And I’d like to see BDS against Israelis become just as unacceptable in polite society as antisemitism, which really should be called Jew hatred, used to be.

Opinions on the cheap

Left and right is more than just opinion about what ought to be done. There is something else about being on the left, which is the emotional rush it seems to give. In an article at Quadrant Online I list the odd reality that, so far as I can tell, even though the temperatures have not risen for fifteen years, there are no warmists who have become sceptics, and even with the disastrous outcomes of the Keynesian stimulus, there have been no economists I know of who have given up their Keynesian faith.

But that was the lead into what I thought was an interesting post from a Canadian blogger about the nature of those on the left, the kinds of people they are and the way they wish to experience the world through their emotions in ways that reason cannot touch.

The majority of people are weak-minded. They are also lazy. However, they are also egotistical . . . and so their mind reaches for something that will not only allow them to claim some kind of intellectual “superiority” or “achievement,” but also allow them to do so with no work.

Going green. Protesting. Claiming they’re a caring liberal. Joining a religion. Going vegan. Becoming a professor, etc.

This not only results in them living in a delusional, non-real world, but also makes them emotionally and egotistically invested in keeping up their ideological facade. Thus, when you make passionate, logical, stoic arguments of fact, math, and statistics you (consciously or not) pierce their ego, expose their charade, and therefore trigger a visceral, emotional, and often hate-laden response.

It’s the notion of having an opinion on the cheap that must be so pleasant, specially when you can use that opinion to go around blaming others for the woes of the world without actually having to do any work in finding out what’s going on. Left wing ranting is a species unto itself. His entire post was I thought quite insightful look at the nature of political argument.

A reminder to lovers of reason

I don’t know why this is news to anyone – Bolt Report back – and bigger – but it has not gone unremarked amongst those who somehow find this displeasing. From Andrew Bolt:

The Twitterverse has exploded in rage, but I trust lovers of reason won’t be displeased:

NEWS Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt is being given more airtime with his Network Ten show to double in length to one hour when it returns on March 2.

The new-look The Bolt Report will include a new segment, called News Watch, which promises “to put the media under genuine scrutiny”.

The fun starts at 10am and 4pm on Sunday, March 2.

I believe this is meant to be a complaint, but I shall treat it as a request:

gerard mcdermott on bolt

Among the guests for the first show: Peter Costello, Michael Costa and Gerard Henderson. We have invited Bill Shorten to come on the show on the very near future, of course, and hope the old Labor ban is lifted. I did think it counter-productive.

Not unrelated

obama sub par

Two stories on Drudge this morning about the way of world at the moment. I don’t have to tell you who “his” is:

SHOCK POLL: 71% of supporters ‘regret’ voting for his reelection…

And then this:

Soros bets big on market crash…

We are, as always, in uncharted waters but somehow this feels different, with the captain on the bridge a full fledged incompetent who not only does not know how to avoid the rocks, but actually continuously seems to be guiding the US, and therefore all of us in the West, towards them.

You have to be strong while there is still a chance to do something

Do we really need Mark Steyn to point out the obvious about anti-semitism. Can’t Jews see things for themselves? We live in terrifying times. Mark’s article is titled, Hath Not a Jew Eyes?.

Is it really possible in 2014 even for the capo di tutti capi of official Jews to be so blind? Foxman is either the most wicked dissembler or, to be more charitable, he reflects merely the blinkered parochialism of America’s liberal Jewish elites. Unlike the head of the ADL, I have no special interest in or responsibility for the welfare of the Jewish people, but I have been to Toulouse, Antwerp, Malmö and the old Jewish East End of London, and I know what I have seen there.

I would like Foxman to go to Toulouse, a city the size of Jacksonville, Florida, where in recent years one synagogue has been firebombed, another set alight when two burning cars were driven into it, a third burgled and “Dirty Jews” scrawled on the ark housing the Torah, where a kosher butcher’s was strafed with gunfire, and a Jewish sports association attacked with Molotov cocktails, and three Jewish children murdered outside their grade school, I would like Foxman to go to Toulouse and tell any Jew he finds there (they are advised by their rabbis not to wear identifying marks of their faith) that it’s all the work of “anti-government people”.

I would like him to go to Malmö – once the first Christian city in Norway and soon to be the first Muslim city in Sweden – and tell such Jews as he can find (they are abandoning the city) that the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the ugly reinforced steel doors at the Jewish kindergarten and the rocket-proof glass in the windows of the synagogue are all the fault of “neo-Nazis”. Sweden is renowned for its neo-Nazis, isn’t it? Doubtless they were the reason why a year or two back at the Davis Cup the Israeli tennis players had to play their match behind closed doors, in a Baltiska Hallen stadium without a single spectator. For had they opened the doors, the seats would have filled up with Swedish “nationalists” and Swedish “neo-fascists” and all hell would have broken loose.

I would like Abe Foxman to go to Tower Hamlets in London’s East End, where on Holocaust Memorial Day a couple of years ago a visiting New Yorker had to be taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel after a Jewish tour group was pelted with stones by a group jeering “If you go any further, you’ll die.” I would like Foxman to tell those Jews that their attackers were an “anti-immigration” group.

I would like him to go to Villiers-le-Bel, where a Jewish girl was brutally attacked by a gang shouting “Jews must die!”, or to Odense, where the headmaster says his school can no longer take Jewish pupils for security reasons, and tell them it’s the fault of Danish “nationalists” and French “neo-Nazis”.

As good an explanation as any and better than most

From Breitbart News. Definitely plausible since it fits the facts and nothing else seems to:

Democratic pollster Pat Caddell thinks so, and radio host Rush Limbaugh said it’s plausible. One historian even told Breitbart News the modern GOP resembles a “crime family.”

“The establishment Republicans want the IRS to go after the Tea Parties,” Caddell told Fox News on Sunday.

“When you have 71 percent who want an investigation, 64 percent who believe that it is a sign of corruption including nearly a majority of Democrats,” Caddell said, “the reason is the establishment Republicans want the IRS to go after the Tea Parties. Got it?”

Caddell said the GOP establishment is happy to have the IRS take the Tea Party down a notch.

“Because the Tea Parties are an outside threat to their power hold and I’m telling you the lobbying consulting class of the Republican party and Republican leadership who have been attacking the Tea Parties, and alienating them, they want the IRS to do this,” he said.

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh addressed Caddell’s charges against establishment Republicans in his nationally syndicated program.

“That is a serious charge,” Limbaugh said. “That is a very, very serious charge, that the Republican establishment is aligned with Obama and is okay with Obama using the IRS to investigate the Tea Party. But it’s believable, because we know the Republican establishment, the political class in Washington, is spreading the word that they are not gonna criticize Hillary, it isn’t gonna happen, and we shouldn’t, either. It shouldn’t happen.”

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley told Breitbart News on Monday that he agrees with Limbaugh that Caddell’s charges are credible.”The Washington Republican party is no longer a political party in the way we understand political parties,” Shirley said. “It more resembles a crime family than a movement of ideas.”