Friday, May 30, 2003

I agree with so much of this, from Colby Cosh from May 27:
How are markets like science? Science existed for a good long while before, at some point, science became an object of study in itself, resulting in a "revolution" within Western civilization. People became aware of the power and methodology of science more or less simultaneously. Markets, similarly, have always existed, but only recently became an object of study. Adam Smith was the Francis Bacon of markets. The Market-istic Revolution is still ongoing, and it is as important as the Scientific Revolution. There are a lot of people who still don't, and won't, get that. I believe that, at some future time, the authority or credibility of the market as a means of organizing a certain kind of social activity will be taken for granted, much as science's authority or credibility is now taken for granted by those hostile to it. Science is bogusly criticized for not being able to arrive at all possible truths--deemed useless or inferior (or challenged as a quasi-religion) because it is, at any given stage of history, incomplete or imperfect. Similarly, because there are some kinds of social ordering which the market cannot handle, it is sometimes written off (and very often as a quasi-religion) on similar grounds. We will one day--I am certain of this--feel the need to teach economics as a basic subject in schools, as we now teach science.
Colby thinks that's obvious, but I'd have to say only to people who think similarly. There exist a number of people who refuse to treat economics with anything like the seriousness they afford to science (and you rarely find the other way around).

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