The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Informed Opinion on Ethical Questions

Art Carden over at the Mises Institute complains that with many issues that many people are simply ignorant of the facts behind many of the opinions they take. As an economist, he highlights economics issues:

As an economist, I think the fundamental rhetorical issue is as basic as it gets: most critics of free-market capitalism simply don’t understand how competitive markets work. And, as far as I can tell, many have never bothered to try. It is not that the average commentator or critic arguing passionately in favor of minimum wages or price controls thinks that disemployment effects and shortages are sacrifices worth making in the pursuit of a larger social goal. Again as far as I can tell, the average commentator or critic denies that such a trade-off exists.

Just to take the issue of minimum wage, it's one of these issues that most everyone simply supports without realizing that among economists minimum way is quite controversial, with probably a majority of economists supporting its abolition. The point Carden is making is not that if people knew what he knew, they'd all agree with him (there are well-informed economists who do support minimum wage), but that it's irresponsible to be ignorant of these issues that are raised. If more people were aware that minimum wage raises unemployment for low wage workers, especially poor minorities, I think we'd actually see some serious debate on the question.

Or as he quotes Rothbard as saying:

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

Many people support things, sometimes even passionately because it, well, just seems like common sense that it's a good idea.

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