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My former Mercatus Center colleague Bob Graboyes expresses his justified skepticism of the “centralized empathy” and fatal conceit that marches under the banner “effective altruism.”

GMU Econ PhD candidate Patrick Horan remembers the late Nobel-laureate economist Robert Lucas. A slice:

As National Review’s Dominic Pino points out, if you have to read one piece by Lucas, read his short six-page lecture “What Economists Do,” where he remarked that economists are storytellers. Lucas then compared an amusement park to the U.S. economy, where amusement park tickets are money, and rides and concessions are goods and services. By manipulating the exchange rate for dollars to park tickets, he could cause the park’s economy to boom or bust. For example, suppose that 10 tickets initially cost $1.00. Then one morning, without warning, the price of tickets rises, so $1.00 buys only 8 tickets. Customers will likely be disappointed if not angry at the news. Some customers may turn around and go home. Others will buy fewer tickets. With fewer tickets purchased, the park’s money supply shrinks, and fewer people will spend money on rides and concessions. Thus, the park’s economy shrinks, too.

Lucas concludes that economists spend much of their time “in worlds of make believe.” However, this is not because they are trying to escape reality. Rather, the realm of imagination and ideas “is the only way … to think seriously about reality.”

Robert Lucas was someone whose imagination and ideas caused a sea change in understanding macroeconomics and public policy. Not all macroeconomists agree with Lucas’ theories and normative conclusions for public policy today, but they all must grapple with his insights and what they mean for their own models of the real world.

Eric Boehm has some sound advice for FTC bureaucrats who are now ‘investigating’ allegedly ‘anticompetitive’ baby-formula contracts.

Fiona Harrigan rightly criticizes “Arizona’s war on tamales.”

Amicus Brief of Zycher, Manne, Epstein, & Boudreaux in NTE Carolinas v Duke Energy. (DBx: Although I’m very happy to have my name on this amicus, I can take no credit for its contents, for my only contribution is to have signed it. It’s largely the product of the pen – or the keyboard – of Ben Zycher.)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, John Sununu remembers the late C. Boyden Gray.

GMU Econ alums Jon Murphy and Andrew Humphries write that “Parmenides addresses Plato, as Adam Smith addresses us.” A slice:

Finally, Smith has Plato judge Parmenides, although they could not have been contemporaries. By imagining that such thinkers meet out of time, Smith may have been signaling that it is not the actual approval of any living man that he most deeply desired. The wise man seeks to be thought worthy by the best judges, those who would or ought to approve of our work, conduct, and character, no matter when that person is to be found. In other words, proper approval comes not simply from living spectators, but higher spectators who may be across time or even outside of time.

My colleague Pete Boettke, GMU PhD econ candidate Konstantin Zhukov, and the Fraser Institute’s (and GMU Econ alum) Matt Mitchell have a new book out on Poland’s economic history from 1939 through 2019.

Barry Brownstein explains how freedom is threatened by arrogance. A slice:

Humility brings us closer in touch with reality. We see more clearly just how dependent we are on the cooperation of others for our existence. We see how ignorant we are, how limited is our useful knowledge. We see how much we have been given compared to how much we have contributed; we are all users of what has been built by others living before us. We are in awe of the majesty of what spontaneous order has created. When we are in touch with reality, we can’t help but feel grateful. Misery follows when we live at odds with reality. When we turn our back on reality, humility helps reset our orientation.

Read David Henderson’s EconLog post titled “The Cost of Child Care Regulation.” Read also the comments (including David’s).

The proportion of charlatans relative to serious scholars and teachers seems to be increasing in the academy. (HT Phil Magness)

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