Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 5, 2012

Economist Bryan Caplan sets out to prove that basic economics is intuitive:

To make my prima facie case, I’m going to present a few allegedly counterintuitive economic propositions, then explain them at a 6th-grade level.

1. Counterintuitive claim: Free trade makes countries richer, even if the other countries have big advantages like cheaper labor or more advanced technology.

Intuitive version: We’d be better off if other countries gave us stuff for free. Isn’t “really cheap” the next-best thing?

2. Counterintuitive claim: Strict labor market regulation is bad for workers.

Intuitive version: Employers don’t like hiring people if it’s hard to get rid of them. Suppose you had to marry anyone you asked out on a date!

3. Counterintuitive claim: Egalitarian socialism creates poverty… even starvation.

Intuitive version: If everyone gets the same share whether or not they work, you’re asking people to work for free. People don’t like working for free, especially when the work isn’t very fun. (This is my response to Sumner’s Great Leap Forward Challenge: “But how do we explain to school children that millions had to starve because of a policy that encouraged people to share?”)

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