Friday, April 18, 2008

Economics Prof. Meir Kohn Lectures about the Nuances between Libertarianism and Progressivism

Professor Meir Kohn spoke Thursday night at a College Libertarians meeting in a lecture titled “From Middle Ages to Modern Times: Why Markets Work and Governments Do Not.”

Reported by Eli B. Mitchell

Starting with a short bio, Kohn shared his transition from socialism to believing in the power of free markets. He defined two types of governments: predatory – historically arising from growth in agriculture and being a government to benefit the king – and associational – a government in which people collaborate for mutual benefit or self-defense. Associational governments, he said, turn into predatory governments as they increase in size.

Kohn also shared his doubts in mathematical modeling. Economic models tend to assume perfect competition and perfect governments. He believes it is more effective to learn from history so that imperfect competition and government failure can be accounted for. Emphasizing historical evidence over economic models shows the inefficiencies caused by the government: how can government reliably intervene in the case of market failure when the government itself can fail? Or possibly caused the market failure in the first place?

The question and answer portion covered the role of the Fed, health care, the great depression, and charitable giving. All questions were answered with various facts showing how government intervention actually had a detrimental effect or, if it was beneficial, how previous government intervention had caused the current situation.

A more detailed explanation can be found in The Dartmouth’s article or feel free to post questions that I will do my best to answer.

--Eli B. Mitchell

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