The Skeptical Liberal: Heading Off to Edmonton

The Skeptical Liberal

How can we live together in peace, prosperity, and harmony, while retaining our liberties as autonomous individuals who can, and must, create our own values? -- J.M. Buchanan


Heading Off to Edmonton

Wednesday morning I depart for Edmonton to attend Thomas’ graduation from Victoria School. I’m very proud of him, of course, and looking forward to seeing what he does over the next couple of years. I’ll also get to see Lydia and my grandson, Sebastian. Should be a lot of fun together, since I haven’t seen them for six months.

Monday and Tuesday were spent working on Malthus and Simon. Took out lots of books from the MSU Library and read. The modern Malthusian message (check out the Ehrlich’s new book One with Nineveh) is that we are on a collision course with nature. Malthus explicitly rejects this argument, saying that he disagrees with those who think there is a upper limit to the productive capacity of the earth: his point is that we constantly live at the margin of the resource available to us now. In fact, Malthus’ social policy calls for an institutional framework (stable property rights to facilitate market exchange, delayed marriage, and non-interventionist government) that will support moderate population growth with increasing wages (the same institutional framework that would support technological innovation, by the way). Most Malthusians would be surprised to hear this! But so would Simon! Simon’s crusade against modern Malthusians required him to attack Malthus. But in the end, Malthus and Simon are closer than we may think. That is not to say, of course, that people have entirely mis-read Malthus. Simon’s basic criticism of Malthus’ economics of population is still valid. My job this summer is to sort all this out in a way that will communicate with a general audience, rather than in a 1000+ page tome (see Hollander’s The Economis of T. Robert Malthus). (And by the way, Malthus went by Robert, not Thomas, as most people think).

I also worked some on Monday on the syllabus for my Constitutional Political Economy senior seminar in the fall: the book list should be available soon from my website. And I went bike riding on Sunset Hill (wow! Beautiful view of the Galletin valley) and swimming. Bozeman’s a great place to spend a summer working!


Post a Comment

<< Home