Showing posts from August, 2013

Rhetorical Economist, Economics Rhetorician

English: Image of Deirdre McCloskey "for Public Use" as stated on her website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Deirdre McCloskey might be the "rhetorician" I've most enjoyed reading. She's decidedly libertarian, often addressing the supposed "moral failings" of the philosophy. Though her degrees are in economics (Harvard grad, but we forgive her), she understands rhetoric better than many elite professors in that discipline. Her dry wit alone makes her books worth the time to read.

If I could suggest some books, as I do for my students:
McCloskey, Deirdre N. If You're So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. (ISBN: 0226556719)McCloskey, Deirdre N. The Rhetoric of Economics (Rhetoric of the Human Sciences). Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998. (ISBN: 0299158144)and… McCloskey, Deirdre N. Economical Writing. Long Grove, Ill.: Waveland, 1999. (O…

Hating Capitalism… Because It's Easy to Hate?

The following was posted to the comments section of a very old blog post:
The Top Ten Reasons I Hate Capitalism:

10: Kim Kardashian
9: Vast economic inequality destroys democracy
8: Survival of the fittest (I'm definitely not among the fittest)
7: Donald Trump
6: The Attitude of the Fittest toward the Unfit
5: Reality TV
4: Walmart
3: Mark Zuckerberg
2: It appeals to the worst aspects of human nature
And the #1 reason I hate capitalism: I am not Bill Gates!


Perhaps that's what it comes down to. That's what the conservatives and defenders of Capitalism would have us believe.

Or perhaps there is just something inherently unfair and unjust about it. Yes, it is easy to dislike some of the wealthy in our supposedly capitalist nation. And the easy response is that the United States is not a purely capitalist nation, certainly not as Adam Smith envisioned capitalism and not in the sense that the Austrian economists believed in and promoted either a minimally-regulated free…

Econ Primer: Starting Soon with a Purpose

Late this spring, I mentioned that I was hoping to post articles on basic economic concepts. As it turns out, this idea will serve a purpose: I'll be teaching a writing course within the economics degree programs at a leading university business school. When invited to teach at a top university, one with a gallery dedicated to its Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences honorees, there's a fair amount of humility required. My doctoral research is in the field of how we communicate technical ideas, such as economic theories. Now, I have to demonstrate to some of the best students in the world that I know that on which I lecture.

Conveying economic ideas is fraught with challenges. Even when you present basic ideas as neutrally as possible, someone will find bias in your words. Of course there is "bias" involved even when deciding on which topics to write. Why is one topic, one issue, important within economics? Once you select a topic, choosing the experts to quote…