Friday, August 10, 2012

A Beltarian on Government Funding of Science

Tyler Cowen,  a professor at Koch-funded George Mason University and  general director of the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at GMU,  writes:
 In general I am sympathetic to government funding for science...
Then he suggests some type of utilitarian ranking of various fundings:
I find it easy to believe the subsidies for economists would bring higher returns than the worst uses of federal funds.  But surely larger subsidies for economists are not the highest return projects before us.  Isn’t it worth listing which projects would be even better than subsidies for economists (or at least acknowledging that they exist)?  How about reporting “Subsidies for economists are better than farm subsidies, but not as good as medical R&D subsidies or 347 other uses of the funds”?  Presumably the goal is to bring about the best outcome possible, not just to advocate further subsidies for economists, right?  Right?  Right?  After all, that is what the economic method is all about.
How is this not central planning? Further, does Cowen not understand the problems of aggregate value rankings  across groups of individuals, which wipes out the type of rankings Cowen is suggesting?


  1. If only Cowen would stick to writing about food and not reading books, he'd be a great asset to society.

  2. Since I started reading this blog 18 months ago (Thanks Tom Woods!), my ability to perceive central planning and the idiocy that is required for its justification has increased tremendously.

    What makes this comment worthy is, if I'm only an 'economics hobbyist' and recognize the fatal fallacies performed all around us everyday, how do so called professionals continue to make those very mistakes.

    Evil cannot explain it all, nor do I believe can stupidity.

  3. With friends like this....

  4. Cowen's partner in crime Alex Tabborock wrote a piece recently saying the welfare warfare state is preventing, get this, government funding of science and technology. How does this allegedly "free market" economists know that "we" need more science funding?!

    1. Because you silly monkey, value is objective, not subjective, and by objective I mean "The state's values ought to be imposed on everyone else by force."

    2. Since when did leaving the house of economic science and going to statist land imply that you can take economic logic with you?

      Ex-Austrians are just those who tried reason, but found they couldn't compete, so they moved on to power and force.

  5. The "monkey" in the wrench and the reason the entire argument is specious is simply that government can't be trusted. New discoveries that are deemed "disruptive" or matters of "national security" or not in the best interest of a major contributor quickly disappear down the black rat hole. Which is exactly were we find ourselves now. This dog won't and never will hunt...