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That is why it is difficult for well-meaning outsiders to change things for better or worse.

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In the future, you too will respond to incentives. No one will believe those promises because they know that later it will not be in your interest to deliver. The lesson here is this: before you make a promise, think about whether you will want to keep it if and when your circumstances change. This is how you earn a reputation. Governments and voters respond to incentives too. That is why governments sometimes default on loans and other promises that they have made. It is feasible for one generation to shift costs to subsequent ones. That is what national government debts and the U.

When a government spends, its citizens eventually pay, either today or tomorrow, either through explicit taxes or implicit ones like inflation. Most people want other people to pay for public goods and government transfers especially transfers to themselves. Wikipedia has an article about: Economics. Look up economics in Wiktionary , the free dictionary. As is typical with his school of thought, Kahneman draws heavily on the social sciences to understand game theory and decision making. His work establishes a cognitive basis for poor human choices based on heuristics and biases through a series of groundbreaking articles on judgement and decision making.

This work eventually came together in a full-blown model called Prospect Theory. Kahneman's work was given the Nobel Prize in He was included in a list of leading international thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine in He has worked at Princeton since , and is now professor emeritus of psychology and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy.


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He was one of the founders of TGG, a respected business and charity consulting firm. In a bygone era the ideal scholar was a generalist renaissance man who knew much about a lot, while in the present era specialist scholars strive to know everything about a little. Vilfredo Pareto was one of the last polyglots who, among his contributions to economics, also worked in philosophy, sociology, and engineering.

This pattern is common in nature but Pareto found it prevalent in various forms of wealth distribution. He believed that every major civilization's wealth distribution looked more like an arrow head than a pyramid. This was true of all peoples across all of history. He was also the first person to popularize the term, "elite," when referring to a class of people. Pareto was instrumental in transforming economics from a subcategory of moral philosophy as it was practiced during the enlightenment into a mathematically-driven social science.

William A. Jackson: Economics, culture and social theory

His views were also popular among Darwinists and Mussolini's fascists supporters, and thus had tremendous historical as well as economic impact, although Pareto's personal views of fascism are a matter of more nuanced debate. Very rarely do scholars reverse an opinion that they have directed considerable energy towards defending, but John Bates Clark did exactly that with respect to his views about just wages. Earlier in his career he wrote Philosophy of Wealth, Economic Principles Newly Formulated , which attacked competition as a viable form of just wage discovery.

Although simultaneously being critical of the communists, Clark nevertheless felt that intervention was required to prevent unfair underpayment of workers, and even compared such practices to indirect cannibalism. However, shortly after publishing this work he began reversing his opinion, and eventually published The Distribution of Wealth , which defended a neo-classical view of economics. Clark used Darwinism to justify a competition-based economics model that allowed the better equipped to advance.

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Although elements of this process may have appeared savage, the final outcome was superior. Clark also had a unique understanding of capital. For Clark, capital was not the means of production, but rather it was more of a productive tool. This alternative view led to the Cambridge capital controversy between Cambridge University and MIT between and He is particularly known for two influential essays he wrote: the article titled, "The Nature of the Firm," and the article titled, "The Problem of Social Cost.

After all, one can imagine an economy where everyone acts as an independent contractor and hires out their respective services on a case by case basis, but instead people organize into larger firms with steady employees. Coase noted numerous advantages that the firm model possessed, from protecting trade secrets to greater efficiency when minimizing overhead costs.

This essay was initially criticized by professors from the University of Chicago, but his successful defense of the paper won over his critics and eventually won him a teaching position at Chicago, which in many ways cemented that school's paradigm shift towards a more free market stance. In "The Problem of Social Cost," Coase argued that property rights should be distributed in such a way so as to encourage the owner of the property to take economically efficient actions.

Coase was trained as an economist, but spent most of his career working in a law school. He was a pioneering figure in the field of law and economics. The New York Times considered Paul Samuelson to be the foremost academic economist of the 20th century. He was the first American to win the Noble Prize in economics in He served as an advisor to both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and acted as a consultant to the United States Treasury. But perhaps his greatest impact came by writing Economics: An Introductory Analysis.

This textbook has sold over 4 million copies and become the all-time best selling economics textbook. It is in its 19th printing.

Samuelson achieved these numerous accolades by developing the mathematical methodology now considered foundational to all economics. Before Samuelson several revolutionary thinkers had explored detailed modeling techniques in their effort to advance their science. However, Samuelson gave such a systematic treatment of the material that his approach soon became the yardstick by which all other economists measured.

But despite his great technical accomplishments, Samuelson also popularized his ideas. He brought Keynesianism from esoteric to common sense through his textbook writing and his weekly Newsweek column in which he and Milton Friedman represented opposing views. Because of Samuelson, Neo-Keynesianism became the established academic norm, and continues to exert considerable influence to this day.


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  • When most people think of anarchists they think of muscle-bound Rambo-like men with a spear in one hand, an assault rifle in the other, and a massive, freshly slain game animal slung over the warrior's broad shoulders. How ironic that the most important figure in the anarcho-capitalist movement was really a short, jolly, intellectual?

    But that is exactly who Murray Rothbard was. Rothbard's thinking stands in total contrast to just about everything that modern economics teaches. He argued that government itself was totally unnecessary, and that the free market could do a better job of providing everything that government provides, whether that be roads, healthcare, security forces, or a public justice system.

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    To put things mildly, Chicago School thinkers like Milton Friedman look like socialists by comparison. Even his way of writing is drastically different from the majority of economists. Most modern economists make ample use of math-based models in an effort to model physics. Their texts are drenched in complex, statistically sophisticated analysis. But Rothbard proceeds from very basic propositions and builds axiom upon axiom until 1, pages later, a full blown alternative worldview majestically unfolds.

    His material, being both exhaustive and accessible to the average person, has procured a cult following amongst heterodox thinkers and continues to grow in prominence through the Mises Institute, which he helped found. He was one of the last polyglots who could readily excel in multiple academic disciplines. He practiced law, taught literature and logic in addition to political economy, and did pioneering work in mathematical statistics. Edgeworth developed several novel arguments in economics that proved to be fruitful for generations.

    He produced unique mathematical models that mapped both utilitarian and economic principles. He also was the first person to use indifference curves. These ideas advanced modern general equilibrium theory.

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    Contemporary students of microeconomics will also recognize his Edgeworth Box, which represents various distributions of resources. There are some scholars who are known for a famous article they wrote, or a magisterial dissertation that changed the way experts understand their field and has since been read by every graduate student.


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    Then there are finance experts who work in banking and Wall Street and get a big break with the government. But Jeffery Sachs became one of the leading scholars on economic development, poverty, and globalism by spearheading a long list of important research initiatives. He is well known amongst numerous influential organizations that make the political world go round. Sachs was a co-recipient of the Blue Planet Prize.

    His fight for the environment has led Time Magazine to twice list him among the world's most influential leaders.

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    Public Policy after Utopia - Niskanen

    He was the head of the Earth Institute from to , and he became a professor at Columbia University in He is also the Special Advisor to the U. In the past he served as a U. Secretary advisor on Millennium Development Goals. Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Carl Menger was born and raised in Poland, where he eventually received a law degree from the University of Krakow in His love of economics developed while working for Vienna's Prime Minister.