John Stuart Mill and the logic of economics

I have just been confronted by two articles I have refereed, both on the economics of John Stuart Mill, that I rejected because they have no idea what Mill is trying to explain or the logic of what he is getting at. Both, however, are likely to be published no matter what I might think. Here was Mill, the man with the nineteenth century’s highest IQ, the author of the book on logic that was used for two generations across the English speaking world, a book still eminenty worth reading to this day, yet both of these papers criticise Mill for contradicting himself and faulty logic.

Mill’s Principles of Political Economy is far and away the best book on economic theory ever written. My own book on Free Market Economics (now in its second edition) is Mill brought up to date with a few modern gadgets. Also brought into the text and heavily criticised are the various additions to economic theory that have made economics far worse as a tool of analysis and a basis for policy, most notably MC=MR and Keynes.

All I can say is how exasperating it is to read these critics of Mill who cannot even begin to understand the problems with their interpretations. But what is the peculiar bit is that in being possibly the only economist in the world who thinks of Mill as the best economist who has ever lived, there is not a soul alive who I can turn to for support. I am not the smartest person on the world today, but I do come closer to understanding Mill than anyone else writing on economics. The massacre of our economies by the modern doctors of economic theory is as obvious to me as it is invisible to them. So on it will go but the certainty is that if we keep up in the way we have, we will never ever generate a recovery worth having and living standards will continue to fall.

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