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My New Heterodox Economic School: “Progressives es non Bardus”

February 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Economics

Can anyone help me? I have been feeling bad about how people who defined themselves as “Progressive” and how they did so poorly on this test of “economic enlightenment.” Questions and results from the related survey are presented below.

I would assert that the survey was unfair as it tested what most would call “mainstream” economic thought. Should one who is on the vanguard of the latest in modern redistributive thinking really be compared to anything “mainstream”? I think not.

This problem is easily solved by the creation of a custom, formal, “Heterodox” school of economic thought. To the uninitiated, “Heterodox economics refers to approaches or to schools of economic thought that are considered outside of mainstream economics.” The cool thing is that you can adhere to just about any belief you want. For example, remember how during the first lecture of Econ 101 they punctuated how scarcity is a fundamental concept of economic thinking? Forget it! You can just adhere to the “Post scarcity” school and just wish it all away. Even Marxism is considered Heterodox! Imagine the legislation that could result if (even more of) our politicians saw our new school as accepted doctrine.

OK, so to change the “incorrect” answers listed below to “correct” ones we simply need to promote the following beliefs as being core to our “Progressives es non Bardus” School:

  1. Restrictions on housing development make housing more affordable.
  2. Mandatory licensing of professional services decreases the prices of those services.
  3. Overall, the standard of living is lower today than it was 30 years ago.
  4. Rent control leads to housing surpluses.
  5. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
  6. Free trade leads to unemployment.
  7. Minimum wage laws decrease unemployment.

To make it stick, we should find at least one study (preferably academic) that reinforces these positions. Frankly only one for each point is really needed. If we get into a “preponderance of evidence” trap, we’re hosed. I’ll get the ball rolling by solving number 7 for us.

Please get Googling and submit your solutions to 1-6 in the comments below. FYI, Krugman won’t be much help on #4, but he has a lot on #3 as I recall. 5 should be super-simple, just head over to

Suggestion: in cases of price ceilings and floors, proof that supply and/or demand curves have zero or infinite elasticity can be really helpful.

The survey and results.



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