- Cafe Hayek - https://cafehayek.com -

The Stupidest Eight Words That I’ve Ever Read

Tweet [1]

I recently re-read my dear friend George Selgin’s thorough smackdown [2] of Stephanie Kelton and so-called “modern monetary theory.” In doing so I was struck even more by how completely whackadoodle is this statement from a November 2018 op-ed by Prof. Kelton and her co-authors [3]:

Anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable.

This statement is as anti-economics as any statement can possibly be. Over the years I have read and heard countless moronic statements, some of them offered by credentialed economists. But never have I encountered any statement more stupid, mistaken, and indefensible than this one – and it is one found in an op-ed co-authored by a credentialed economist.

I do not support licensing requirements for economists, but were such requirements in place, any economist who wrote such a thing as this specimen would not only be stripped of his or her license but would also be sued for gross professional incompetence.

George exposed the KY Cygni [4]-sized idiocy of this statement in this way:

Nor does Professor Kelton’s observation that “Anything that is technically feasible is financially affordable” — with its suggestion that we might fund any “feasible” project without running into resource constraints — hold water. That something is technologically feasible means, not that it’s “affordable,” but only that it might be done at some finite cost. Perhaps Professor Kelton does not recognize, or does not want her readers to recognize, the difference. But a difference exists nonetheless, and it’s a lu-lu. For all I know, we might populate the moon, equip every U.S. citizen with a Ferrari, or fill Lake Meade with champagne, technically speaking. But I’m quite certain we can’t afford to.

Alas, I suspect that it’s not even technically feasible to arrange for Prof. Kelton actually to learn anything about economics.

The fact that modern monetary theory (I’ll not glorify it with capitalization) has as one of its chief advocates this Prof. Kelton is much more than sufficient to discredit this ‘theory.’

It literally hurts my brain and deeply distresses my soul to know that someone credentialed as an economist could write such a thing as Prof. Kelton has written above. Truly, it’s… well, I have no further words.