Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Intellectual honesty

I was once asked by a student: should we have ideological stand on economics and should we stick to it forever? I answered: yes and no. Yes, you should be unambiguous as to what perspective you are using in analyzing a problem. But it doesn't mean you are not allowed to refine your position. If you proclaim you are Keynesian and you think monetary policy is foolish even when it is needed, then you are dumb. I cited Keynes: "When the facts change, I change my mind -- what do you do, Sir?". It bothers me to see some people, without proper knowledge on history of economics thoughts, claim that they are Monetarists, or Keynesians, or Neoliberals -- you name it. But when you talk with them, they simply knew a three- or four-sentence definition from some textbook to describe their "ideology". I don't think it's honest.

In that light, this piece by Brad DeLong came to my attention. At least, this is what I refer to as "intellectual honesty". DeLong was an all-out Neoliberal -- as he confesses, believing that capital control is no-no-no. Read this and you'll see how DeLong admits that market can fail. There, we need government to help correct it. But be careful, government might as well fail.

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