Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Maude Barlow:
"Won't Somebody Think of the Children?"

Three down. Seven graduation ceremonies to go this week at UWO.

This morning's guest speaker was Maude Barlow, a conflicted yet sincere person who has no realistic idea about the concept of scarcity but knows it shouldn't exist:
  • She is reputedly an expert on international trade, but when she listed the benefits of trade, she didn't even hint at understanding the ideas of comparative advantage, specialization, division of labour, and gains from trade. But by golly she knows the rich countries, driven by transnational capitalism, are making poor countries worse off.
  • She is a champion of social justice, which means redivide a pie [and who cares if doing so makes it whole lot smaller]. She didn't mention Robert Mugabe for some reason.
  • She is allegedly an expert on water, but she claims we'll run out of water by the year 2025 if we don't do something about it. She didn't mention the obvious solution -- raise prices, and she explicitly denied the value of property rights and free market solutions in allocating water.
  • And, she says we need to spend more money on public education and not let rich folks get more than poor folks do. Just like our wonderful health care system in Canada!

She was addressing a convocation for the Faculty of Education. In Canada, these folks have all earned degrees in some other discipline and must compete to gain entry into this post-degree programme. But I really worry when the professors teaching there would invite someone like her as their honourary degree recipient. Interventionist elitism motivated by moral superiority is anti-intellectual. As one person wrote to me after yesterday's rant,

She's not very bright (that's my third iteration on that description, and by far the kindest). She reminds me of that character on The Simpsons who pops up at absurd moments saying "won't somebody think of the children?"

I also received some other, even less-flattering descriptions that I won't put on the blog.
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