Bryan Caplan has been most appropriately and eloquently singing the praises of Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented immigrant to America. (And I love Bryan’s apt term “meritocracy without borders.”) (I add also that Bryan and I are both undocumented immigrants; neither Bryan nor I personally received prior official approval from the government of the state of Virginia to move here – me from Louisiana via New York, Bryan from California via New Jersey.)
The point is that both mathematical economics and the verbal kind have their place; neither is intrinsically better than the other; and each can serve as a useful test of the other. A formal model can reveal deficiencies or omissions in a verbal argument; but a few well-chosen words are just as capable of exposing an absurd argument or false assumption lurking in some seemingly innocent equation. The claim that “it takes a model to beat a model” would be just plain goofy were it not so effectively employed by mathematical economists anxious to insulate their work from criticisms by persons who know less math—but perhaps more economics—than they do.
Lots of excellent stuff in the Summer 2011 issue of PERC Reports.
Papering over what Arnold Kling might call patterns of unsustainable specialization and trade is not good policy – a truth that Robert Lenzner reminds us that Hayek pointed out. (HT Matt Cheney)
My Canadian friend Gerry Nicholls has a great new website: FreedomForum.
My GMU colleague (over in the School of Public Policy) Jack High reflects on the role that the rise of big business in late 19th- and early 20th-century America played in the development of economic theory.