Economics: Not quite value-free

My Economics professor:

Class 1: “Economics is a value-free science.”

Class 5: Explains why she doesn’t like progressive income taxes, tells a story about why Ronald Reagan stopped making movies (because he would’ve been in a higher bracket), complains about how Warren Buffet makes her annoyed. “It’s violating your property rights!”

Don’t misunderstand me, Katherine Floros is a great Economics instructor and generally lots of fun. I just found the fact that she went from “value-free science!” to “property rights are awesome! Progressive income taxes suck!” in less than a week amusing. It’s cool, though.

Really enjoying how my Political Economy/Power and Money class is tying all sorts of things together. Floros used both the John Locke “justice” argument and the Adam Smith “efficiency” argument to support her leaning toward Classic Liberalism, which in the US is represented by small government conservatives.

The issue with the Lockean argument about the justness of property rights is that not all property rights were acquired justly in the past. So the injustice is built into the current system already – one reason I find the “efficiency” arguments for free markets much more compelling than the “fair” or “just” argument. Robert Nozick talks about this in his 1974 Anarchy, State, and Utopia. He acknowledged that poverty may be the result of past injustice and therefore government redistribution might be legitimately used to assist the poor. Most current offshoots of Classic Liberalism ignore this conclusion.

Of course, with the efficiency arguments you get into the problems of asymmetric information, imperfect competition, negative externalities… And so on.

Seriously though: Power and Money (POL_SC 4750) is the bestest. To all the Mizzou folks: If you’re looking to fill a non-Journalism upper division requirement you should TAKE THIS CLASS.


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