These classical liberals just get everywhere, don\’t they?

Berkeley isn\’t really known as a wildly libertarian or classically liberal sort of place. The general reputation is more of an American style liberal place really.

Brad DeLong isn\’t, similarly, thought of as an economist who is going to sign up to Cato, or Adam Smith Inst, style libertarianism or classical liberalism.

However, take a look at this, his reading list for those just taking their first peek at the joys of economics:

A Message for Students in the Fall 2010 Instantiation of Econ 1 at U.C. Berkeley

Before you show up here in the fall for Econ 1, please read:

1. The whole book of Partha Dasgupta, Economics: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN #: 0192853457 Publisher: Oxford)
2. The \”Introduction\” and chapters 1 through 5 of Book I (i.e., I:1-5) of Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (available for free on the web or free for Amazon Kindle or Apple iBooks; you can also buy a copy)
3. Pp. 1-31 of Paul Seabright, In the The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life (ISBN #: 978-0691146461 Publisher: Princeton)
4. Pp. ix-69 of Milton Friedman and Rose Director Friedman, Free to Choose (ISBN #: 978-0156334600 Publisher: Mariner)

Yes, there will be a quiz. 🙂

Now yes, this is of course Econ 101. Econ 201 and beyond (and I\’m sure parts of Econ 101) will go on to point out that it isn\’t all quite as simple as it\’s portrayed here, that there are exceptions to the simplicities laid out here (BTW, was sent a review copy of the paperback of Paul Seabright\’s book a couple of weeks back. Very good indeed, very much worth reading. I assume everyone here has already read the others….).

But this is the beginning of it all and those modifications are indeed exceptions. If you don\’t get these basics and understand that they are the basics then you\’ll never understand the rest of the structure that sits on top of them.

As I never tire of pointing out, the reason the successful social democracies are successful (the Nordics for example) is that they have grasped that you can build interesting and different structures and societies by building upon these classically liberal verities….but if you try and refute or ignore them then you\’re almost certainly doomed to a less than wondrous experience.

You can redistribute what is generated by the sort of economy described in these books: but it\’s not possible to generate what you\’d like to redistribute by ignoring them.

4 thoughts on “These classical liberals just get everywhere, don\’t they?”

  1. “You can redistribute what is generated by the sort of economy described in these books: but it’s not possible to generate what you’d like to redistribute by ignoring them.”

    Spot on.

  2. The Pedant-General

    And just as importantly, trying to redistribute too much very specifically counts as ignoring them too.

  3. Tim – O/T and you may have already seen this but it’s another interesting take on the trope of British jobs for British workers etc – “Mexicans and Machines” from reason:

    Perhaps an Amish government could return us to full employment!

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