21 June 2007

Economics and politics

I don't like to criticise an economist who appears to be relatively sympathetic to the idea of free markets — they're (we're) a relatively rare species. But I am not sure about this.

Among the fifteen commandments of economics composed by YouNotSneaky and Professor Dani Rodrik, most are unobjectionable expressions of the fact that contemporary economics can really say very little with any great certainty. But this one, contributed by Rodrik and endorsed by YNS, seems a bit odd.

People everywhere are pretty much the same. It is the incentives and constraints they face that differ.
"Pretty much the same", if it's to be taken as informational at all, and coming from an economist, sounds like an assertion about comparing individual utility functions. Implying that everyone's needs and preferences are pretty identical. If that is what it means, then it's an opinion, and one with which I beg to differ.

(h/t Tim Worstall)