Thursday, February 17, 2011

Matt Yglesias Makes a Stupid Point

He postulates a scenario where a pill is invented that enables us to live till our 100th birthday without any illness and then suddenly die. In such a world there would be no health care sector and thus those incomes go away and his view would cause "a catastrophic economic collapse". I guess I think of it differently, I would have $15k of discretionary income that I don't currently have and that money I could spend on my child's education and development, my wife and my leisure, or towards investments. I think there is a mindset that looks at technology as displacing labor, which it often does, and draws the conclusion that it is bad. Such would be the case if human wants were finite, but they are in fact infinite.


Anonymous said...

Did you actually read the Yglesias post? Let me shorten if for you:

1) Technology improvements that replace labor or make it more productive are great things that should be encouraged.

2) Such advances are economically disruptive in the short term, particularly for particular subsets of the workforce. Although the advance is a net good, some existing workers will necessarily get shafted.

Anonymous said...

Man, this is embarrassing, shut down your blog

Shane Phillips said...

Amateurish indeed.

Chris Dominguez said...

I think you need to re-read the post, and then put up a new post defending yourself, if you can.

Chris Dominguez said...

You know, I was feeling a bit sorry for you until I re-read your post and realized that you had titled your post "Matt Yglesias makes a stupid point."

If you're going to call someone stupid, you'd better know what you're talking about.

M said...

Perhaps you could give that newfound $15k to the millions of newly unemployed health care professionals that Matt's hypothetical was about.

xtra said...

Anonymous: "Although the advance is a net good, some existing workers will necessarily get shafted." Except it is sort of difficult to square that with "catastrophic economic collapse". I get your point, but that is not really what Matt Yglesias said. In he had said that as opposed to catastrophic economic collapse I would not actually view his post as stupid but obvious.

Shane- Yes, we believe in truth in advertising here.

Chris~You should read the post, I didn't call Matt Yglesias stupid but rather noted that he made a stupid point. It is actually in the title so you don't even need to read the post.

He is one of the best bloggers out there but does occasionally make a stupid point. The output gap that arises from an entire industry disappearing overnight would be substantially mitigated by the rest of the country having 20% more disposable income and automatic stabilizers (UI but i guess not medicaid) thus staving off a "catastrophic economic collapse". This doesn't seem controversial.

M~yes, I mentioned that in the post.

Anonymous said...

"He is one of the best bloggers out there but does occasionally make a stupid point."

Quite true. More than occasionally, actually. However, this time his point was perfectly clear and it sailed right over your head. It's clear to everyone, so pretending otherwise isn't a viable strategy.

Anonymous said...

Uh, note that health care is 17.3 percent of the US GDP:

So I take it that in your update comment you're saying loosing 17% of the economy would not constitute a catastrophic economic collapse? What would, exactly?