David Harsanyi is unimpressed with Paul Krugman’s fanciful interpretation of the recent finding, by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, that the death rates of white Americans aged 45-54 have risen since 1999 . (Krugman probably doesn’t read Cafe Hayek . 😉 )
In the Wall Street Journal, NYU economist William Easterly looks, with lenses polished by Jane Jacobs, at the 400-year-history of one city block in Manhattan . (gated) Here’s Bill’s closing paragraph:
Here’s the lesson: Development comes spontaneously, and often by luck. It takes restraint for planners—and we economists who advise them—to simply stand back and let things unfold naturally over years and decades. But studying the unpredictable 400-year history of one city block has a way of instilling a sense of humility.
The modern world similarly cannot be explained by routine brick-piling, such as the Indian Ocean trade, English banking, canals, the British savings rate, the Atlantic slave trade, coal, natural resources, the enclosure movement, the exploitation of workers in Satanic mills, or the accumulation in European cities of capital, whether physical or human. Such materialist ways and means are too common in world history and, as explanation, too feeble in quantitative oomph.