Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What's new at the new site.

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm working on producing a new, wiki-based site that is easier to maintain and develop than my old site.  In the next year, I plan to update it with the resources from the old site, fixing the linkrot as I go.  Only 500+ links and a few hundred quotations and a hundred or so references.

The new site has a large number of improvements: not least, you will be able to search all the externally linked articles as well as those in the wiki itself.  It is re-indexed, with a nice top-level index that should make it easy to locate whatever you are looking for.  I plan to write a number of additional FAQs.  Lots of work to do!

Another nice feature is that I can cut and paste from the What's new page to here for discussions.  Take a look, and have at it!

NEW 12/27/2011: The Many Non-Governmental Limitations Of Liberty
Libertarians like to claim only government limits liberty. But that's not what people experience. [more...]
NEW 12/27/2011: The liberty of local bullies [More...]
Noah Smith points out how libertarians are oblivious to commonplace coercion that isn't from government. Which makes it a favorite of local bullies who wish blessings upon their bullying. [more...]
NEW 12/17/2011: Keynes v. Hayek: Enough Already [More...]
David Glasner points out that Keynes and Hayek are "two charismatic personalities who have become figureheads or totems for ideological movements that they might not have endorsed at all". Glasner identifies Ralph Hawtrey and Gustav Cassel as accurate predictors of the great depression. [more...]
NEW 12/17/2011: Uncertainty And The Welfare Economics Of Medical Care [More...]
Kenneth Arrow's classic 1963 article that details the differences between the medical care industry and competitive market models. This is why privatizing health care does not work well. [more...]
NEW 12/16/2011: Murray Rothbards many errors about Keynes and probability [More...]
An examination of Murray Rothbard's comments on Keynes's logical approach to probability reveals that Rothbard was either a master of deceit and deception or an ignorant fool.Either case is good grounds for eliminating M Rothbard from serious consideration as an economist or philospher. [more...]
NEW 12/16/2011: Daniel Kuehn: Maynard, Fred, Gus and Ralph on the History of Macroeconomics [More...]
Brad DeLong endorses Daniel Kuehn's criticism of the Keynes versus Hayek videos. [more...]
NEW 12/16/2011: G.O.P. Monetary Madness [More...]
Paul Krugman points out how incredibly wrong the predictions of Ron Paul and Austrian Economics have been about the tripling of the monetary base. [more...]
NEW 12/16/2011: Ron Paul
A libertarian congressman (and perennial long-shot presidential candidate) renowned for kooky racist, isolationist, goldbug and Austrian beliefs. Not to mention conservative civil and reproductive rights ideas 50 years out of date. Father of senator Rand Paul[more...]
NEW 12/15/2011: Inequality
Libertarians have three dismissals for inequality: it is market-based just dessert, it is the fault of government, and it is unimportant. All three are wrong. [more...]
NEW 12/15/2011: Lord Keynes (pseudonym)
Blogs "Social Democracy For The 21st Century: A Post Keynesian Perspective". Very well versed in Austrian Economics[more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: Austrians Predicted the Housing Bubble? – But so did Post Keynesians and Marxists [More...]
Austrians claims to "predict" the housing bubble are given a thorough examination and a sound drubbing. Their claims just aren't credible.[more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: Libertarianism and the Leap of Faith – The Origins of a Political Cult
Philip Pilkington traces the evolution of the libertarian cult belief in the entrepreneur-hero from obscure 19th century debates over the source of value: very similar to the contemporaneous Communist cult beliefs. [more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: The Austrian Disease – Poor Scholarship, a Priori Bias
Philip Pilkington says "Praxeology is to the libertarians as diamat was to the Marxist-Leninists; an a priori pseudo-philosophy that allows them to ignore unwelcome evidence and insulate themselves from criticism" [more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: Americans For Nonsmokers Rights -- The Cato Institute [More...]
The intertwining of the Cato Institute and Big Tobacco for the promotion of smoking and the discrediting of science about smoking. [more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition -- Partner Organizations [More...]
LEAP lists 40 partner organizations, most of them mainstream and not libertarian, that ally with it in the goal of legalization and regulation of drugs. [more...]
NEW 12/14/2011: Journey into a Libertarian Future: Response to Reader Comments [More...]
Wrapup and responses to commenters on Andrew Dittmer's 6 part interview series. [more...]

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Education as signalling

I've been reading a lot of conservative criticisms of the expense of college, including our libertarian friends at Koch George Mason University.  Often they complain that students don't actually learn anything useful in college and that degrees from universities are mostly about signaling who is preselected.

It is strange that conservatives and libertarians, fans of markets, would make such accusations.  Because they immediately fail the test of markets.  If it was true that no value was added by colleges and that employers think that selection process is valuable, then wouldn't employers be recruiting freshmen at colleges?  Why would employers wait and pay a premium for a degree from a university when they can snag those same students earlier?  And wouldn't students bite at the opportunity to avoid spending about $100,000 and earn perhaps $150,000 instead?  Coming out ahead by $250,000 is a good way to start a life.

It's in the interests of plutocracy to place as much of the burden of educational costs in the private sector: that will maximally burden the middle class.  Other wise the upper classes might have to pay taxes.  The middle class is there to be exploited, in their viewpoint.  They may attempt to hide their interests behind banners of "liberty, and hire GMU propagandists to wave them, but we don't have to sit still for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The demands of continuous existence.

Here's a question for economists out there.

Would economics examples be significantly different if we start off understanding that people have a continuous demand for consumables such as food with no elasticity as we approach starvation?  Do assumptions such as maximization and rationality still work the same way?  What else changes?  Does this cause discontinuities in models?  This is a very important question for the 99% in many countries, and for close to 40% in the USA.

I don't know: I'm not an economist.  If you don't have some sort of formal economics credentials, but insist on answering, please explain why you are qualified to answer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bully for the Baltics?

Paul Krugman slaps down Tyler Cowen hard for repeatedly claiming that Ireland's recent performance is evidence against Keynesianism.  This is a followup to Brad Delong's similar complaints.  I don't notice any response from Cowan yet; normally, he is very quick to respond.

Very gratifying.  Tyler is brilliant, smug, and a leading Koch tool.  His job as an economist seems to be more to maintain a drumbeat of propaganda than to do any research of significance.  If anybody has any evidence of the significance of his work (such as status by numbers of citations) I'd be interested to hear it.

Take for example his latest book, "The Great Stagnation".  It is a classic example of lying with statistics.  Cowen claims that our innovation is stagnating because median GDP/capita is not increasing the way it used to.  But mean GDP/capita has been increasing steadily.  The difference is because increases in GDP over the past 30 years have gone almost exclusively to the rich.  This is clearly spelled out in There Is No Great Stagnation, Only Great Redistribution by Kindred Winecoff.  It is disgusting that Tyler relies on a trick that we teach students about in grade school (the difference between mean, median, and mode), and even more disgusting that so many people have considered his claims seriously instead of denouncing the trick.  Why would he do this?  Simple class warfare tactics: if you convince people that wealth is not there, instead of being redistributed to the rich, they will not be able to fight back.

Cowen generally adopts denialist tactics for economic positions his masters oppose; if you cannot refute it legitimately then spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  (FUD)

I follow Cowen's (and Tabarrok's) high-volume blog "Marginal Revolution" daily.  It's full of disgusting shout-outs to the libertarian faithful (such as "Markets in Everything") and links to the latest libertarian propaganda.  But some leads from there are very useful or interesting: Cowen is well characterized as an infovore and popularizer.  That's his good side.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Upton Sinclair

Addendum: Tyler responds in The luck of the Irish.  In typical fashion, he moves the goalposts, and tries to make it a discussion of what Krugman predicted.  Instead of defending his own position about whether Ireland's recent performance is evidence against Keynesianism.  This may be good rhetorical strategy, but it is dishonest.  To distract from the dishonesty, Tyler makes a show of "honestly" admitting his own predictions were wrong too (after a whole post claiming Krugman's were wrong.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks.

That's how Ron Paul described his campaign manager's early, uninsured death.

However, "When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder's surviving mother (pictured, left), who was incapable of paying. "

This is a classic case of libertarians claiming that they are taking their own risks, but somebody else ends up having to pay.  There is a simple reason why libertarians routinely lie this way: their ideology claims they are independent, but the reality of human socialization is that we are interdependent in many ways.  Through families, churches, friendships, professional associations, employment, etc.  We routinely and informally assume responsibility for each other.

Recently, Brad DeLong wrote Economic Anthropology: David Graeber Meets the Noise Machine... where his comment was:  "Indeed. It really looks from the anthropologists that Adam Smith was wrong--that we are not animals that like to "truck, barter, and exchange" with strangers but rather gift-exchange pack animals--that we manufacture social solidarity by gift networks, and those who give the most valuable gifts acquire status hereby."

I think DeLong is in error because the barter and gift paradigms are often both used.  They are not exclusive.  The error is to claim only one applies or that they are exclusive, and I doubt Adam Smith makes either of those particular errors.

When we are involved in gift networks (such as families) we are not independent: others are relying on us for future gifts and we "owe" for past gifts.  This is one of the great blindnesses of libertarian ideology, and it explains why libertarians will not see as problems what normal people see as problems.  One of my favorite examples is drug usage.  That's why this Brain on Drugs public service announcement about heroin seems comical to libertarians, but makes sensible people cry.  Gift networks are very emotion-laden.  I haven't worked it out yet, but I think this ties in with the idea of  libertarianism as applied autism.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Libertarianism In One Lesson: the Belorussian translation!

Galina Miklosic has now translated Libertarianism In One Lesson into Belorussian. Do alert all your Belorussian-speaking friends.

Update 9/26: it's a scam, using Google Translate to fake human translation.  I've removed the links that were the apparent objective of the scam.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Simple critique of Bitcoin

For all its technotarian groovyness, Bitcoin suffers from classic private currency flaws that make it a scam.

Bitcoin MIGHT work if only it was able to be unique. But there is nothing to stop a proliferation of identical networked coinage systems. Even if it were patented, the patent would expire. With no intellectual property protection, we would see an unlimited set of identical citcoin, ditcoin, etceteracoin.

With no limit on the amount of identically created coinages, what could stop the precipitous decline in value? Trust in the original? What reason would anyone have to trust one more than another? The basic problem is that bitcoins are ENTIRELY speculative in value: there is no intrinsic value (such as a real-world use) to them at all except perhaps the value as a medium for exchange: but there is no scarcity of mediums for exchange, so no intrinsic value.

We've seen this in the past when private currencies were attempted. Without trust in the currency because of a backing in something with intrinsic value, it rapidly can become worthless. Bitcoin has no backing. Even if it had backing, insiders may remove the backing and leave the currency worthless.

Bitcoin relies on some computational artificial scarcity to claim that it won't explode in volume and thus inflate away to valueless. I'd have to see a clear explanation before I believed it, but even so the prospect of innumerable competing identical currencies would create the same problem.

Bitcoin looks like fool's gold to me. A classic scam of selling something that will eventually leave somebody holding a worthless currency.

[Added 6/3/11] Here is Adam Cohen's criticism of Bitcoin. The punchline:

"But Bitcoin is not designed to be a functioning currency, it's designed to enrich early adopters. Again, that is why it is a scam. Period."

[Added 6/19/11] There’s a Virus that Will Steal all Your Bitcoins The first of many, no doubt. The features of bitcoins that make them private will also make them difficult to recover when stolen. Who will be the first to cash in by offering bitcoin insurance against theft? One reason why public assets are valued is because their theft is obvious.

[Added 6/20/11] Bitcoin Prices Plummet on Hacked Exchange At the very least, there's a whole new world of flaws to shake out of the system. Note also that they have "rewound" the transactions to solve the problem: do you want your transactions subject to somebody else's "rewinding"? Note also that the user database was stolen and circulated publicly. So much for privacy.

[Added 12/6/13] So this is how fiat currency dies, with thunderous CPUs?
As predicted, Litecoin has arisen.  And it can make 4 times as many coins!  It is open source, and thus can be reimplemented over and over by anybody who wants to open yet another bubble.  But worse, "In fact, Cryptocoincharts shows something in the region of 164 different virtual currency-based cross rates in the market..."  which means a minimum of 13 competing currencies.

[Added 12/31/13] How and why Bitcoin will plummet in price
Tyler Cowen uses my "citcoin, ditcoin, etceteracoin" argument (though with much more economics sophistication) to make a strong marginalist argument for why values of crypto currencies will plummet. Prices of currencies will be limited by marketing costs of potential competitors. "In short, we are still in a situation where supply-side arbitrage has not worked its way through the value of Bitcoin. And that is one reason -- among others -- why I expect the value of Bitcoin to fall -- a lot."  

[Added 1/6/14] Coingen
"Think you can market an altcoin better than Dogecoin, Catcoin, or even Litecoin? Want to create your own coin and get in on this gravy train? Follow this simple form to get started with your very own alt coin!"  Can you say proliferation?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Robots Evolve Altruism, Just as Biology Predicts

Robots Evolve Altruism, Just as Biology Predicts

Ayn Rand denied altruism, and used examples of robots in her "philosophy". How fitting this is as another stake in the heart of that bizarre pseudophilosophy objectivism.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Open Thread.

The last open thread has worked out pretty well, with some interesting questions still popping up.

So here's a new one! It would be good to keep them fairly fresh.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Question about the Libertarian Party

The LP has always been a creation of the Koch's, and has periodically been purged when attempts have been made to stray from Koch-approved dogmas.

Since the success of the Kochs of swaying the Republican Party with their Tea Party insurrection, have they ignored the LP? Is it possible that the reform caucus has a chance of freeing the LP from the tyrannical hand of the Kochs?

See the Libertarian Reform Caucus for a colorful display of pseudoscientific diagrams illustrating their general approach.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Pencil: A product of the mixed economy

I Pencil: A product of the mixed economy

The excellent John Quiggan puts up a response to Leonard Read’s I, Pencil.

I, Pencil is an extensive piece of invisible hand propaganda that by directing you only to the vastly complex network of market resources mobilized in creating pencils, misdirects you away from the equally complex network of government resources that enable those market resources.

Rand Justice For All

Rand Justice For All

A Slowpoke cartoon lampooning the limited definition of freedom preferred by Rand Paul and other libertarians.

Beingism response to economic conservatisms such as libertarianism.

Myths about Economic Conservatism

Beingism is a new, liberalish philosophy that describes itself as wanting changes that would be "consistent with some form of Libertarian Socialism".

The title strikes me as misleading: it would be more accurate to describe it as "44 Myths Spread By Economic Conservatives". It's long, and many of the points are compatible with my own criticisms in Critiques Of Libertarianism and those of the late Steve Kangas in Liberalism Resurgent.

Most of the myths are also discussed as inline YouTube videos.

Rand Paul humor

Rand Paul to Demonstrate Commitment to Ayn Rand Philosophy By Removing Under-Performing Parts of His Own Body

The title says it all. Hat tip to an email contributor. (I have to be careful about naming some contributors because they are concerned about conservative bosses. If you would like to be creditied, please let me know: I want to err on the side of caution.)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Non-Libertarian FAQ: the Belorussian translation!

Every now and then I get a request if somebody may translate my FAQ into another language. There should be a Chinese version out there somewhere, though nobody has told me where.

Bohdan Zograf has now translated The Non-Libertarian FAQ into Belorussian. Do alert all your Belorussian-speaking friends.

According to wikipedia, the Belorussian language is spoken by 4 to 9 million people.

Update 9/26: it's a scam, using Google Translate to fake human translation.  I've removed the links that were the apparent objective of the scam.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Open thread.

A large number of other blogs use open threads, so perhaps I should try one.

Bring up your own points, ask questions, propose discussion threads, lurkers make yourselves known, etc.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Good economics from India

Good economics from India

From Angus Sibley at www.equilibrium-economicum.net.

Sibley provides a brief summation of why Amartya Sen rejects market fundamentalism in favor of his Capabilities Approach. Market fundamentalism might be good if all we wanted to do is maximize total wealth. Instead, he proposes maximizing human wellbeing, a radically different goal that takes into account positive freedoms.

The Capabilities Approach can in some ways be viewed a an extended reformulation of modern liberalism, and it is perhaps the most important political/philosophical development of the 20th century. Martha Nussbaum has a new book out describing it, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach. Capabilities is a good way to make sure that everybody benefits from society. The book is not the best read you'll encounter, but the ideas are great.

Encyclopedia Dramatica on libertarianism


A lengthy, humorous take on libertarianism from many angles, and well worth chortling over.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

FDR and unions.

Assorted right wingers and libertarians are claiming justification for Wisconsin union bashing in a quotation from FDR:

"... the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

Our course, this is a quotation out of context. Look in the original letter.

FDR affirms the place of unions in government as well as private industry. He is cautioning against strikes by government employee unions as a tool of collective bargaining the way they are used in bargaining with private industry. Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. He argues that the special purposes of government make them inappropriate. He points out: It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."

This is not in any way like stripping bargaining rights from unions in government. Indeed, many states have laws that forbid government employee unions from striking, yet still have strong unions that are able to negotiate. It would be more just for those laws to balance the loss of rights to strike with limitations of government abuses of that advantage, but that's not the case that I'm aware of.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Libertarians are notorious defenders of sweatshops. Kevin Wayne, in a comment, brought up this excellent resource:

A Consensus Statement on Sweatshop Abuse and MIT’s Prospective Actions in Pursuit of International Labor Justice

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Hungarian socialist political economist Karl Polanyi made the antitheical argument to Hayek in the book The Great Transformation. Polanyi wrote that an uncontrolled free market would lead to repressive economic concentration and then to a co-opting of democratic governance that degrades civil rights.

Three generations of human rights

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why does college cost so much?

At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen puts up a post titled Why does college cost so much?

This is a common right-wing meme, aimed at generating discontent with the intellectual class and used as an excuse to review all the normal libertarian ways of blaming any problem on government. And you can tell, because Tyler and his claque ignore the obvious facts about the market.

First, we know there is a huge market failure because statistics have always shown that the increases in lifetime earning AFTER a college education more than pays for the costs of the education. In an efficient market, the marginal cost of an extra degree should equal the marginal increase in lifetime earnings. That's why it is efficient for society to pay even for the education of the mentally challenged, if you view the expense of caring for them to be reduced by education. We probably should be spending significantly more on education because ignorance is the costly alternative.

Second, the assaults on the middle class and increased demand for highly educated workers have, if anything, made this market failure even larger by continuing to reward education with increased lifetime earnings.

Third, we expect the price to increase until it reaches what the market can bear. That's why private colleges charge such enormous and increasing tuitions.

Fourth, the education market suffers from other fundamental market failures which keep it dominated by non-profit institutions at almost all levels except nursery schools and trade schools worldwide. We've seen innumerable for-profit educational enterprises attempted and fail. It's not "barriers to entry" worldwide. And it's not "barriers to entry" in the USA: private non-profits are started successfully at all levels all the time. State universities, state colleges, and community colleges have enlarged tremendously.

While I often get something interesting out of Tyler's posts, I think of him as employed to keep feeding a steady stream of libertarian propaganda through his blog. Much of the time, all he has to do is point and his commenters complete the task for him. And that's what we see here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ron Paul Versus the Kochtopus.

Monetary Policy Hearing Today, or: Ron Paul Versus the Kochtopus.

From Rortybomb, a brief glimpse into the Rothbardian faction's (paleolibertarians such as Rothbard, Mises, Rockwell, Paul) view of the Kock brothers' faction.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Academic tendencies.

"Academic bias" is another right-wing "When did you stop beating your wife" term. Using the term, even in defense, just repeats and ingrains the accusation.

Is there an academic tendency towards liberalism? Very likely, and for the same reason there is a tendency towards liberalism amongst mothers. Both are charged with a non-profit-making task, the development of children into responsible, educated, more independent adults. Both understand that they need to get the resources for this task from others without shackling the children into servitude in exchange. That means redistribution, bane of conservatives.

Some people have noticed that economics has the most conservative academics of all. Small wonder: economics departments have been the special recipients of conservative-funded welfare for long periods of time. The U. of Chicago and George Mason University famously have capitalist-funded economics departments, and the financial industry is a notorious funder of economics research. There is nothing comparable on the liberal side. There is a huge feeder system for conservative economics, with vast amounts of public propaganda promoting "free markets", chambers of commerce, innumerable think-tanks, and outreach programs to exceptional students that is unparalleled by moderates or liberals.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The biggest pot of money in the world.

About thirty years ago, it occurred to me that the baby boomer's retirement savings would be the biggest pot of money that the world has ever seen. It would consist primarily of (a) savings and investment (b) home ownership and (c) social security: the "tripod" system (that we used for nuclear deterrence as well, with bombers, submarines, and ICBMs.)

Using this simplistic model, I predicted for myself that there would be bubbles in investments as demand for retirement investments grew bigger and bigger. I was right. I didn't forsee bubbles in housing: I'm not that economically astute. And we've all witnessed decades of conservative and libertarian attempts to plunder Social Security by reducing obligations or abolishing it.

The problem with a pot of money is that everybody else wants to take money out of it. This has been very successfully done with investments as 401K's became 201K's with stock market bubbles. Even with a conservative portfolio of money market funds and index funds, I have lost money over the past decade, and I am not unusual. The boomer's retirements are being systematically pilfered in the investment system; they are averaging below market growth, negative growth when inflation is taken into account. Likewise, the recent housing bubble has taken a huge hunk of boomer retirement assets.

Where is the anger? This is the greatest opportunity for rebuilding a liberal movement in opposition to conservatism that we've had in decades. Unlike tea party themes, this one is valid.

In addition, we're shorting the intergenerational compact by shorting funding for the needs and development of children. We are horribly and predictably underfunding investment in education by reducing public funding of higher education and public education. No other developed nations are so shortsighted. The beneficiaries of these awful policies are not other generations: this is class warfare by the super rich who have been promoting these policies for decades.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egyptian Internet

A favorite civil liberties quote by John Gilmore:

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

Libertarians have often paraded that hopeful message as gospel, but Egypt shows that it isn't true.

I've heard civil defense proposals that cell phones should act as text relay stations so that even if towers and satellites are down (say during a hurricane, other natural disaster, or human-made disaster) you can still communicate. I think it is a great idea for a standard, but there are two major reasons why it would be opposed strongly:

(1) First, the idea that people could communicate electronically at some base level without having to pay phone companies will be opposed by the entire communications industry.

(2) Governments will oppose uncensorable and unspyable communications. Including the US government, which has required all mass communications media to be legally spyable with a court order and routinely intercepts and processes all mass communications anyway.

The US internet and (cell) phone services could just as easily be shut down.

In actuality, civil defense phones could be shut down just as easily with denial of service attacks. It's hard to think of a two-way mass communications system that couldn't be shut down with denial of service attacks.

The solution is a citizenry that is attentive to good government, and seeks to change bad features. Libertarianism doesn't solve that problem, because it has no method for deciding what constitutes good government, good life, or anything else.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Austrian Economics: an example of greedy reductionism.

Greedy reductionism is a term coined by Daniel Dennett for pretense of explanation in simpler terms while ignoring or underestimating enormous complexities or layers of understanding.

Cosma Shalizi, in Must Macroeconomic Theories Have Microfoundations?, explains seven ways people insisting on microfoundations (which I think includes Austrians insisting on "action" or "rational man" explanations) are foolish or go wrong.

Brad DeLong (who does permit comments) notices and calls attention to a physics aspect of the article in The Microfoundations of Condensed Matter Physics Was a Doomed Research Program Until the 1920s. The comments are well worth reading.