2 comments on “Paul Samuleson dies

  1. The first commenter on the equivalent post on Miss McArdle’s blog writes:-
    “..Samuelson, a Nobel laureate, wrote in the tenth edition of his textbook Economics: “It is a vulgar mistake to think that most people in Eastern Europe are miserable.” This, mind you, in the aftermath of the 1953 East German uprising, the 1956 Hungarian uprising and the Poznan protests in Poland, the 1968 revolution in Czechoslovakia— all suppressed with bloodshed by Soviet tanks. In the eleventh edition, he took out the word “vulgar.” In the 1985 twelfth edition, that entire passage had disappeared. Instead, he and his coauthor, William Nordhaus, substituted a sentence asking whether Soviet political repression was “worth the economic gains.” This non-question was identified as “one of the most profound dilemmas of human society.” After 70 years of Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism that took at least 100 million lives, this was still a dilemma?

    … the 1985 Samuelson text offered this paragraph about the Soviet economy:

    But it would be misleading to dwell on the shortcomings. Every economy has its contradictions and difficulties with incentives—witness the paradoxes raised by the separation of ownership and control in America. . . . What counts is results, and there can be no doubt that the Soviet planning system has been a powerful engine for economic growth….”

    If one were to take the Economists’ creed literally, one would assume that he must have been paid to say such things.

    Tim adds: Yes, I’m well aware of all that. But nil nisi and all that. The time between death and grave is not the time to make such points.

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