Perhaps Demsetz’s most enduring contribution to social science came in 1969, when he coined what is now known as the “nirvana fallacy ” in a critique of fellow economist Kenneth J. Arrow’s assumption that government could make markets more efficient. Demsetz conceded that perfect government intervention might improve things, but noted that Arrow, like many economists, had failed to show that actual government intervention would: “Those who adopt the nirvana viewpoint seek to discover discrepancies between the ideal and the real and if discrepancies are found, they deduce that the real is inefficient.”
List posited a conflict between the interests of commercial society and the interests of the nation as a whole. In that sense, his thinking is squarely in line with the Right Hegelianism popular during his educational formation. It’s a devastating concession to turn over trade policy to the state. In the worst possible rendering, he subjected trade policy to the Fuhrerprinzip .
Also writing wisely and well – and contra Paul Krugman – on this government ‘shutdown’ is Ryan Bourne . Here’s Ryan’s conclusion:
Krugman knows it is disingenuous to suggest that the current chaos is some libertarian policy experiment. But as some Republicans do make the case that the programs above are vital for the health of the economy, and libertarians continue to make the case for their abolition, perhaps he will finally cease lumping Republicans and libertarians together in his columns.