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The hostile reaction isn't surprising. Suzuki has come under intense fire from climate change deniers and his supporters--who will shoot first, ask questions later if at all--have rallied around him. To them you're just another person trying to trash Suzuki's reputation.

As a solidly left-of-center Canadian, it's depressing that this whole exchange even needed to happen in the first place. Keep on fighting the good fight.

Hi Mike:
Two Points.1) I think the hate mail aspect you endured is really not that much different than cyber-bullying. It is despicable and a symbol of the coarseness of the new age we live in. Strong opinions are one thing, personal abuse is quite another. 2) It is not just economics departments that should recognize the value of out reach but universities in general. The primary beneficiary of faculty outreach in my opinion is actually the university as it gets their name and brand out there. Yet universities basically take the outreach for granted. Hang in there.

Hi Livio,

I think the central administration of the university *loves* outreach. They can use it to secure donors or to impress people in Ottawa about the relevance of the institution. 'Brand exposure' matters a lot to them.

On the other hand, tenure committees care nothing for it, except for some exceptions like maybe Biz-Schools. In Economics, outreach is often scored *negatively*--you are signalling that you enjoy wasting time instead of writing papers. I'm not stating this is as it should be. I'm stating that is what happens.

Although I am a Globe and Mail subscriber, I have to confess that I did not read the piece on Suzuki when published - because I thought it would be a waste of time. I don't wish to cause offense, but now that I have read it I find my initial reaction vindicated.

A milder, less controversial piece of writing can scarcely be envisaged. What is wrong with people?

"The idea that economists do not care about externalities is a strange one, given how prominently they are featured in economics textbooks."

I'd be shocked by Suzuki's strange ideas about externalities if I wasn't more familiar with the strange ideas that economists have about them. The operative term -- going back to Pigou -- is "incidental" denoting unintentional but often connoting (to economists) trivial or at best of secondary importance. Coase's and Pigou's versions of externalities ('social cost' and incidental uncompensated services or uncharged disservices) in fact diminish the long period importance, of external economies to in Alfred Marshall's analysis of industrial districts. Marshall's student, Sydney J. Chapman was much more alert to this. I've chronicled this trivialization of external economies in my paper, "The hours of labor and the problem of social cost," but of course economists who care so much about externalities that they feature them prominently in textbooks wouldn't be interested in the intellectual history of the concept.

http://www.dse.unifi.it/upload/sub/walker2011.pdf


Seems to me that credible publications such as the Globe and Mail will need to make people register to comment and part of that registration may need to be some sort of proof of identity. For example, I believe the Economist magazine only lets subscribers comment, which is a way of forcing people to reveal (at least to the Economist if not other commenters) their identity. People who repeatedly post abusive comments can have their commenting priviledges removed. Atlantic Cities has commenters link themselves to another online identity, such as Twitter.

It's also depressing that the Green Party--of all Party's--would not be in favour of improving knowledge of environmental economics (instead of shutting down anyone who disagrees with Suzuki's dogma).

Finally, as someone who studied a lot of intellectual history and history of science in grad school, the "Climate Science" paradigm is rather worrying in the determination to shut down any science that contradicts existing theories. This seems like another example of defending a false assumption within the paradigm rather than doing the work required to understand and incorporate the new ideas.

Corrected punctuation:

"The idea that economists do not care about externalities is a strange one, given how prominently they are featured in economics textbooks."

I'd be shocked by Suzuki's strange ideas about externalities if I wasn't more familiar with the strange ideas that economists have about them. The operative term -- going back to Pigou -- is "incidental" denoting unintentional but often connoting (to economists) trivial or at best of secondary importance. Coase's and Pigou's versions of externalities ('social cost' and 'incidental uncompensated services' or 'uncharged disservices') in fact diminish the long period importance of external economies in Alfred Marshall's analysis of industrial districts.

Marshall's student, Sydney J. Chapman was much more alert to this. I've chronicled this trivialization of external economies in my paper, "The hours of labor and the problem of social cost," but of course economists who care so much about externalities that they feature them prominently in textbooks wouldn't be interested in the intellectual history of the concept.

Kevin:
You are right. Most universities do "love" outreach by their faculty. However, there is not much they seem to be able to do to reward it - but then my views are probably colored by my own experiences rather than objective analysis.

I've just went to read Sandwichman's paper. The externality he identifies (credited to Chapman) is trivially internalized through employment contracts and no-compete term agreements, or alternatively suppressed through state funding of relevant training, both of which Westernized developed states perform to a degree.

I quit econ blogging at least in part due to the consistent verbal abuse I received. I just wanted to register my support for your continuing efforts (lots of which I probably miss since I moved to the US) and for your views. Stephen came to my defense once, which was sincerely appreciated. At least you seem to have generated quite a few page views, which will make you rather popular among Globe editors, I'd imagine!

Well, thanks for taking the hit Mike!

It does reflect badly on the community of economists that we tend not challenge economic nonsense in popular discourse. Climatologists and biologists know better.

Imagine a world in which Canada's "most respected scientist" regularly insisted that the biological jargon "fitness" means "proportion of Aryans." Imagine this scientist frequently publicly pointed to biology textbook discussions of "maximizing fitness" as evidence that biologists advocate the most vile forms of eugenics. And imagine that no biologist lifted a finger to correct these claims for 25 years.

We economists need to do better. There's even a positive externality from articles such as Mike's: the more such articles, the lower the cost to any given scholar of authoring one more, as there are only so many pitchfork-wielding crowds.


Hi Mike,

sorry you went through this and thank you for taking one for the econo team.

"economists... tend not challenge economic nonsense in popular discourse..."

Ha! That's the funniest line I've heard in a long, long time. I've published a couple of papers on the lengths economists have gone to over the past 200 years or so to disparage a piece of "nonsense in popular discourse" that curiously can't actually be found in popular discourse. One can sympathize with Suzuki's impatience towards economists after surveying the vast corpus of arrogant, dismissive pseudo-doctrine repeated rote by economists (and their textbooks).

For background on that 200-year circulation in economics of a bogus campaign to "challenge economic nonsense in popular discourse" see "Crisis, Credit and Credulity: the incredible circulation of a counterfeit idea"

http://weaethicsconference.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/walker-feb-12.pdf

(take note Kevin Milligan, it features a contribution to Gruber and Wise's book)

Chris: "We economists need to do better."

Maybe. But the main lesson I draw from this is that environmentalists have to do a helluva lot better. And I don't mean just correcting Suzuki's ignorant and false statements. I mean large numbers of them should not be sending hate mail to people who point out mistakes made by some of them.

"is "incidental" denoting unintentional but often connoting (to economists) trivial or at best of secondary importance"

Sandwichman, it's all a question of perspective. It's not that economists believe that externalities are incidental (much less trival or of secondary importance - if they were, who would study them?), it's that the people who engage in the market (and non-market) transactions that economists examine think that the externalities are trivial or of secondary importance - that's why they don't take them into consideration. If the costs of pollution were not incident The whole problem with CO2 emissions is that emitters think the costs of their emmissions are secondary and trivial to them, that's why they pollute. Of course, collectively, the costs may be huge, but each individual has no control over what other do.

David Suzuki is taking the description of how human beings actually treat externalities like pollution (which description is wholly accurate - that's why we have pollution problems) and assert that this is how economists think pollution should be priced (or, conversly, how non-pollution should be fact), when in fact, the whole point of the exercise is that they don't think that way. He's mistaking a descriptive statement with a normative one.

David wrote, "I've just went to read Sandwichman's paper. [The Hours of Labour and the Problem of Social Cost] The externality he identifies (credited to Chapman) is trivially internalized through employment contracts and no-compete term agreements, or alternatively suppressed through state funding of relevant training, both of which Westernized developed states perform to a degree."

Aside from the grammar, David, huh?

"We economists need to do better."

But that won't happen until economists understand what they're doing wrong.

Mike, it's too bad you deleted some of those emails. I'd have been tempted to publish them (or at least the ones that are really nasty), names, email addresses and all. I suspect people would think twice about acting like barbarians if they thought their mothers or bosses might read their emails.

It's often quite shocking to learn who some of the people making the nastiest comments/emails are. One of my colleagues told me a story recently about someone making particularly nasty and racist comments on the Globe and Mail comments section (In the words of Obi Wan Kenobi "you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy", except maybe the comments section of the National Post, the Star, the CBC, etc.). The Globe identified him as some graduate student and TA (I think) at a prominent Canadian university who was mortified beyond belief at the prospect of being outed (and, given the nature of his comments, likely disciplined by the unversity). Last I heard, he hadn't been making any more appearances. As Justice Brandeis put it sunshine is the best disinfectant

Bob Smith: exactly what I was thinking. Let some computer guy recover them from your computer, let someone else look through them, and pick out the dozen nastiest ones, and let's find out who some of these thugs are. And maybe persuade the environmentalists to do some housecleaning of their own, by admonishing that sort of behaviour.

It makes me wonder though: if they get this stuff wrong, and use these sort of tactics to silence people who point out their mistakes, what other stuff are they getting wrong, where nobody dares contradict them?

Bob Smith: "It's not that economists believe that externalities are incidental (much less trival or of secondary importance - if they were, who would study them?), it's that the people who engage in the market (and non-market) transactions that economists examine think that the externalities are trivial or of secondary importance - that's why they don't take them into consideration."

You have a point there and I agree to a certain extent. For example, Paul Romer couldn't have been thinking "trivial" when he placed positive external economies at the very core of his theory of endogenous growth in "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," an earlier version of which circulated as "Externalities and Increasing Returns in Dynamic Competitive Analysis."

Inexplicably, though, Romer and subsequent exponents of endogenous growth theory seem to overlook the possibility that negative externalities might be equally integral to economic growth (or more so). Nicholas Kaldor, however, didn't overlook that possibility and the implication that those negative effects would be likely to have their major impact in poor countries. That is to say, the rich get the positive externalities and the poor get the negatives. So how much of the Kaldor hypothesis are you likely to hear about in mainstream discussions of economic growth and externalities? I would guess a piddling amount restricted to history of economic thought, which economists generally ignore, sometimes defiantly ("I'm not particularly interested in the intellectual history..." as one director of a major economic policy shop confided to me.).

For more on the Romer/Kaldor contrast.

http://ecologicalheadstand.blogspot.ca/2012/10/endogenous-growth-theory-and.html

Nick Rowe wrote, "environmentalists have to do a helluva lot better. And I don't mean just correcting Suzuki's ignorant and false statements. I mean large numbers of them should not be sending hate mail..."

Whoa, there, Nick. aren't you tarring "environmentalists" with a broader and cruder brush -- and far less evidence -- than Suzuki is economists?

"It makes me wonder though: if they get this stuff wrong, and use these sort of tactics to silence people who point out their mistakes, what other stuff are they getting wrong, where nobody dares contradict them?"

Are they getting it wrong? Or are they consciously misrepresenting it? David Suzuki is too smart not to know that the nonsense he spouts about economics and economists is bunk, but I suspect he finds it's a nice cartoonish strawman that he can rail against and fire-up a crowd in pursuit of his political objectives. And it works, look at the response to Mike's article.

At the end of the day academics are at an inherent disadvantage vis-a-vis activists of any stripe in the marketplace of popular ideas (not just the Suzuki-ites, right, left, free-market, communist, you name it). They're inherently (or maybe ideally) interested in truth, while activists are interested in pursuing their agenda. An academic can produce 99 studies that say X, but if they produce one that says Y, they'll say, "hmm, maybe there's something to Y". The activist will find one study that says Y and say "hmm, Y it is", notwithstanding the 99 studies that say X. Academics handle subtle ideas ("one the one hand this, on the other hand that"). Activists, by their nature can't handle and aren't interested in subtlety, there's one answer, theirs.

In a marketplace of ideas dominated by sound-bites, slogans, and ideas expressed on buttons (I hate ideologies that can be expressed in button form. Any ideology that fits on a button isn't worth the time of day), academics can't win.

Sanwichman, let's be very clear, your original assertion that economics "trivializes" externalities was nonsense. Hard to think that whole herd of environmental economists, public economists or health economists (to name a few) would devote their careers to matters they considered to be "trivial". That your pet economic theory hasn't been picked up (and I'm not in a position to assess the truth of that statement) doesn't prove your point.

Having read through a number of the online comments on your piece and being a bit shocked at the nastiness of the tone I can well imagine the nature of the emails you received.

I think you're exactly right that the economics profession needs to be more front and center in providing analysis and opinion to the public rather than just to each other, though I despair a bit at the rather sad hope that will happen.

I remember a few years back at a CEA meetings reception which featured a bit of a talk by Richard Lipsey, related to a book he'd just done, but which also had him delivered what I thought was a compelling call to play more of a role in public discourse. Most of which talk was largely drowned out by the conversations of those who turned away to drink and talk to each other.

Thank you.

Bob Smith, your comment demonstrates why someone like Suzuki would lose patience with "economists." Instead of replying respectfully to the substance of my reply to you -- which was cordial -- you lash out with "your assertion was nonsense" and "your pet economic theory..." It's called arrogance.

"In a marketplace of ideas dominated by sound-bites, slogans, and ideas expressed on buttons (I hate ideologies that can be expressed in button form. Any ideology that fits on a button isn't worth the time of day), academics can't win."

That's not at all true. Academics just need to avoid falling into the trap of acting like everyone else.

Its quite easy to understand. Environmentalism embraces generalizations, its all about the telling of a grand sweeping narrative. We all love great stories, and these stories are about trees and animals (who doesn't love trees and animals?). Economists is all about detail and abstraction, stuff we find hard. There is no grand narrative with sweeping generalizations in economics.

BTW when people start sending hate mail its because you threatened their world view. Its kind of sad that we are still at this point, back in the early 90's I took a geography course at Carleton, I learned about the Club of Rome and the "Limits to Growth" and read "Our Common Future" from the Brundtland commission. I guess crying wolf doesn't apply to human generated environmental calamity industry. But there were some pretty hard core true believers in that class.

"There is no grand narrative with sweeping generalizations in economics."

And no invisible hands, either? "Move along, folks, nothing to see here (just an invisible hand)."

Economics has a long and cherished rhetorical tradition of disabusing "popular misconceptions" with smugly counter-intuitive thought experiments. John Kenneth Galbraith was an economist, if I recall correctly, and Suzuki couldn't hold a candle to him in terms of contempt for the economic conventional wisdom. Club of Rome? Brundtland Commission? Here's what JKG said in 1958:

"If we are concerned about our great appetite for materials, it is plausible to seek to increase the supply, to decrease the waste, to make better use of the stocks that are available, and to develop substitutes. But what of the appetite itself? Surely this is the ultimate source of the problem. If it continues its geometric course, will it not one day have to be restrained? Yet in the literature of the resource problem this is the forbidden question. Over it hangs a nearly total silence. It is as though, in the discussion of the chance for avoiding automobile accidents, we agree not to make any mention of speed!"

And it's such a relief to hear from Mike Marrs that concerns about things like climate change or ecological destruction are just a bunch of "crying wolf" from the hard core true believers!

A Doctoral dissertation (2012) that takes Galbraith's "forbidden question" as its title, "The forbidden question: A history of the limits to growth debate"

http://eprints.utas.edu.au/14777/

"This thesis investigates the history of the debate about the limits to economic growth. It asks how it came about that the emerging concerns of natural scientists and physical modellers were scorned by economists and, at least after 1980, largely ignored by governments and policy-makers world-wide. The unprecedented character of economic growth in the twentieth century is examined and its roots, scale and relationship to cheap energy is analysed, as well as the conflict between the pre-analytic assumptions of the two disciplines most concerned with the debate—economics and the natural sciences. The increasingly self-conscious pursuit of economic growth is explored as is the process by which growth was adopted as the self-evident solution to all social problems, displacing ideas about equity and fairness. It is argued that the newly consolidated corporations that emerged in the US at the turn of the twentieth century progressively banded together to sell not just their products but ‘free enterprise’ itself, a system tied to ever-continuing growth. That investigation gives rise to a history of corporate ideological campaigns against organised labour, democratic oversight and government ‘interference’, especially regulation and taxation—campaigns readily adapted to resisting environmental priorities. The thesis examines how these established techniques—propaganda and the straightforward buying of influence—were augmented after 1970 by the construction of a vast research apparatus dedicated to business interests and values, and designed to exert determinate influence over government policy. Its sources of funding and expertise are explored. It is argued that this institutional expansion has been instrumental in naturalising and strengthening the economic paradigm, ‘mysteriously’ detached from the physical world on which it relies, giving economists pre-eminent influence within governments and bureaucracies and turning the pursuit of economic growth into everyday common sense."

@Sandwichman

If there is an underprovided positive externality because companies do not invest human capital in their workers because workers will move to higher-paying employers elsewhere (qua Chapman), and workers (for whatever reason) cannot borrow to pay for this training themselves, the positive externality can be internalized by allowing workers to contract with employers to stay for some reasonable period of time, or via the state subsidizing such provision. That's all.

Also, to my knowledge, I made no grammatical errors.

david, "I've just went..." No problem. I make cut and paste grammar errors regularly.

But what's this "positive externality can be internalized by allowing workers to contract, etc., etc." jazz? Are you saying that the externality is not really an externality because it could possibly be resolved by negotiations between the parties involved? Are you even familiar with the game-theoretic critiques of Coase? Obviously not or else you wouldn't have assumed that the mere possibility of a solution (assuming not only "perfect" information but "complete" information ["Every player knows the payoffs and strategies available to other players."]) is as good as solving the problem.

Sorry, but I do think your critique of the good Dr. is unfair. As a good economist you shouldn't confuse a flow (externalities) with stock - resources. The distinction is as clear as between income and wealth. Your essay ignores the second, whilst uninterested in pricing the first. If you disagree with Dr. Suzuki's price, tell us why!

I'm not an economist so cannot say that I'm part of the "team". But I will admit that what so enrages me about parts of the environmentalist movement is their pure ignorance (whether deliberate or not) of what economics does indeed try to say about matters environmental.

On the subject of commons that you raise. Half the greens (and Greens) in hte UK demand that we return to common ownership of natural resources. When Hardin through Ostrom and Coase are all pointing out that such common ownership causes exactly the depletion problems the enviros are complaining about.

Grr!

Mike, good for you for being willing to speak in an unpopular way. Also no need to apologize for economists for being better at what they do, rather than better at marketing, brainwashing and fundraising.

I came to this story a little late. I scanned your Globe article comments, sorted in descending rating order, and thought I noted a fair bit of support for you and disdain for Suzuki. So, negative greenies might have been mobilized (after all, Suzuki IS POPULAR) but that wasn't necessarily a measure of the overall mood.

The "either you're with us or against us" bullying is unacceptable no matter who you are. It is hard to stand up in public and try to make your point, even when correct.

One of the reasons I read this blog is the opportunity to read smart economists who write stuff they think is true so I can learn something. A pat on the back to Mike from this reader. Have a pint and watch some baseball* and then back at it please.

*You are all ball fans, right?


Nick, Mike, on the subject of "outing" online bullies there was an interesting story in today's Star about a fellow who posted some nasty comments on an Amanda Todd memorial page and lost his job for his troubles when the post was brought to the attention of his employer (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/1272587--ontario-man-fired-from-job-over-comment-posted-on-memorial-page-to-amanda-todd). It's remarkable who people will say things online or by email that they would never think of saying in person (and how they try to rationalize the indefensible after the fact).

@Sandwichman

I am aware of contract theory under asymmetric information, yes. But if you want to play that card, I have my own deck full of game-theoretic arguments of close-to-efficient incentive-compatible individually-rational contracting under asymmetric information.

The Chapman critique takes place under perfect information, and Coase holds under those conditions. I am making no assumptions than what your own paper is willing to accept.

The only thing more shocking that this "response" (i.e. incoherent bullying outrage) from fans of Suzuki is your article itself: an accurate, reasonable and neutrally-written piece of intellectual criticism. In other words, you didn't start the fire.

Ronald Calitri,

In what sense are you using the word 'resources'? I ask this, because I wouldn't have thought of resources as a stock under the normal sense i.e. "Stuff that can be practically be used for the purposes of achieving objectives". I suspect that there's a semantic difference here...

@W. Peden

I suspect Calitri is thinking of stocks vs. flows assuming the absence of intertemporal decisionmaking and forward-looking assessment of the sustainability of stock being supplied by a resource flow.

Tim Worstall wrote: "Hardin through Ostrom and Coase are all pointing out that such common ownership causes exactly the depletion problems the enviros are complaining about"

And you're accusing 'the enviros' of ignorance? Read Ostrom. She studied and wrote about managing common pool resources, arguing that for some kinds of resources management of commons by users was best.

david, "I have my own deck full of game-theoretic arguments of close-to-efficient incentive-compatible individually-rational contracting under asymmetric information..."

I'm sure you do indeed have a deck of 'em and can shuffle, flash and bluff with 'em impressively. What would persuade me, though, is a substantive critique of Chapman. Somehow I suspect you're not going to write that.

As for Coase holding under the same assumptions as Chapman, obviously you need a refresher course in Coase: no transaction costs, well-defined property rights and two parties. And that's even leaving aside any incentives for bluffing, which was the point of my "complete information" comment.

Labour is about the last place in the world you're going to find "well-defined property rights" unless you go all the way to slavery or indentured servitude.

Here's a trivial asymmetric info hypothetical which short-circuits Chapman: the employee cannot prove that they have been trained by an employer to another employer, and obviously the former has no incentive to reveal it, and all employees have the incentive to lie. QED: one market imperfection undoes the other, and employers fully fund training and no externality exists.

Asymmetric information is not a magic wand that you wave to make annoying counter-examples go away; its sword cuts both ways, sadly.

david: "Here's a trivial asymmetric info hypothetical..."

Thanks for confirming my hypothesis that you weren't going to engage in a substantive critique, david. And, incidentally, for confirming yet again my original point which was that economists shouldn't claim to "care deeply" about what once was a mainline concept that they shunted off to a side track (with goofy stunts like "trivial asymmetric info hypotheticals").

The old term for making the worse seem the better argument was sophism. Does "QED: one market imperfection undoes the other..." even qualify as sophism? That's just some kind of Gish Gallop where you throw up inane "counter-examples" and then defy your debating opponent to make them go away.

Bullshit, david. Your trivial hypothetical has nothing to do with Alfred Marshall's concept of external economies, Sydney Chapman's development of that concept in his history of the Lancashire cotton industry and his theory of the hours of labour, Cecil Pigou's appropriation of Chapman's insights about market failures in the determination of the hours of work or Ronald Coase's critique of one side of Pigou's analysis of externalities.

You, along with most economists who allegedly care so deeply about externalities, are probably also not familiar with Piero Sraffa's 1926 critique of Marshall's concept of external economies, the subsequent debate that raged in the pages of the Economic Journal for five years or Allyn Young's contribution to that debate upon which Paul M. Romer staked his endogenous growth theory.

All's I'm saying is don't go criticizing David Suzuki for saying economists don't give a shit about externalities at the same time as you're saying you don't give a shit about what the concept, "externalities", actually means. And why should you give a shit when you can magically make one market imperfection undo the other with the smug wave of an "annoying" counter-example.

I've played this game before; it always ends in "that's not what that author really meant" scholasticism.

I would be interested to see you describe the argument you assert exists, in the terminology of modern post-Samuelson economics, on what is wrong with the microeconomic characterization of externalities. All that you have contributed thus far is a paper on Chapman that can be summarized in the one line "under particular circumstances, a positive externality to human capital investment exists".

Unfortunately, this isn't consistent with the Sraffian general-equilibrium-type attack. Once one permits pathological income effects, any damn thing can happen in the labour market, too.

You don't seem to be consistent about what, exactly, is wrong with the Coasean analysis. I don't even hold that Coase is generally meaningful myself, but you are not reproducing the standard neoclassical critiques of it, or you would understand that all I have pointed out is standard economics-of-the-second-best fare. I won't press you on this point, but I would appreciate if you outlined what you believe is wrong instead of invoking someone else's paper: I have my doubts that you have ever actually understood those arguments, instead of attempting purely literary authority-quoting, honestly.

david, "I've played this game before..."

Solitaire?

It's the only game in town!

My condolences.

A note: Ostrom advocated that the community of local users enforce their own titles to common-pool resources, thereby making it no longer common. It's just privatization, conducted locally rather than by the state.

The obvious problem to this is what happened when the US put Laotian refugee fisherman near lakes de facto managed by local white communities with their inherited cultural local norms: racism and violent exclusion, because the state could not redistribute title claims that only exist as local cultural artefacts, and the local white communities could not afford overfishing: therefore driving the yellow families out was the only solution. Nobody said that local norms are necessarily liberal ones.

"the Sraffian general-equilibrium-type attack"

Arguably, no such thing exists in the literature.

Naturally not. Sraffa was writing before GE as a modern concept.

Today one can recognize the debates of the day as the result of confusions over separable problems in industrial organization, general equilibration, and externalities, happily.

That's a very whiggish remark.

Sraffa (1926) explicitly dismisses general equilibrium theory as unpromising. Sraffa (1960) is arguably not a general equilibrium argument either.

And results that showed the generality of aggregation problems were only rigorously proven in the 1970s. Of course GE would be unpromising circa 1920: it never did circumvent aggregation critiques, even five decades later, rather it eventually showed that aggregation attacks were so strong they demolished everything and left no survivors in their wake, not even a post-Keynesian macro. Arguments that invoke aggregation failures without an empirical reason to suspect the relevant perverse interaction and no perverse interactions elsewhere are necessarily arbitrary in what they permit to aggregate at all.

Tim Worstall wrote: "Hardin through Ostrom and Coase are all pointing out that such common ownership causes exactly the depletion problems the enviros are complaining about"

And you're accusing 'the enviros' of ignorance? Read Ostrom. She studied and wrote about managing common pool resources, arguing that for some kinds of resources management of commons by users was best.

As David points out. Ostrom detailed he ways in which local communities can indeed manage resources. But local resources for local people is not any longer a common resource, is it? Everyone who is not a local is now excluded.

As Hardin pointed out initially: there has to be some exclusion method.

Mike, though I applaud Suzuki's goals, I believe he deserved your attack. Bravo! I wish more economists would use their skills as you have. Please keep up the good work.

Naturally not. Sraffa was writing before General electric like a modern concept.

Today it's possible to recognize the debates during the day because of confusions over separable problems in industrial organization, general equilibration, and externalities, happily.

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