Sunday, March 8, 2015

A 'Make-Work Bias' By Any Other Name...

What is it with all the aliases, anyway? The lump-of-labor fallacy, the lump-of-work fallacy, fixed Work-fund fallacy, Luddite fallacy, make-work fallacy, make-work bias...

MaxSpeak calls attention to a lecture by a George Mason University professor, Garrett Jones, which advocates less democracy. Ten percent less democracy, to be precise.

The cornerstone of Jones's argument is Bryan Caplan's "four democratic biases" outlined in his 2006 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter. One of those supposed democratic biases is our old friend. the lump-of-labor fallacy make-work bias. Bryan Caplan is clearly a suppository of received wisdom.

So here is the basic idea: "Nineteenth-century economists believed they had diagnosed enduring economic confusions, not intellectual fads, and they were right." So, according to Caplan and Jones we should disenfranchise voters because of what "nineteenth-century economists" thought and hand over policy-making power to folks who think those nineteenth century economists were right. Sounds logical.

I have a better suggestion. In an earlier post I cited George Bernard Shaw's "strong opinion that every University on the face of the earth should be levelled to the ground and its foundations sowed with salt."

Let's start with George Mason University.