Saturday, December 16, 2017

Spotlight On Max Sawicky

Most people love attention, me no less than anyone... - Max Sawicky

I just finished reading Henry Farrell's response to Sawicky's review of Brink Lindsey's and Steven M. Teles' new book The Captured Economy.  Since Sawicky loves attention, I figured that I'd give him some of mine.  Will he love it?


Dear Sawicky,

If you look above this blog entry you'll see a tab that says "Resources".  That page has a list of over 50 links to some of the most important articles, blog entries, scholarly papers and books about economics.  So far there is only one link to the website... Can We Criticize Foucault?

Have you read that article?  It's pretty great.  To be honest, I value it more than your own article...

Foucault article > your article

Which article do you value more?  Which jacobinmag article do you value most?  Does it matter? 

Personally, I think that people's valuations really matter.  So it's very troubling to me how many places there are where people aren't given the opportunity to share their valuations.  In other words, I'm troubled by all the places that aren't markets. 

Netflix, for example, is not a market.  Each month Netflix decides how to divide my $10 dollars among all its products.  This wouldn't be so problematic if Netflix was a mind-reader.  Or my best friend forever.  Or my lover.  Or my brother.  Or my mother.  But Netflix is none of these things.  It's just some company. 

Vons is also just some company.  But, unlike Netflix, Vons does give me the opportunity to decide for myself how I divide my money among all its products. 

What difference would it make if Netflix subscribers could decide for themselves how to divide their dollars?  I've already asked a few economists but they really didn't know.  How could they not know what difference the Invisible Hand would make? 

Do you know what difference the Invisible Hand would make?

The stage, and spotlight, they are all yours.  Please make good use of them. 



  1. Hi Mr. P. Sorry, I have no valuations to offer. Other priorities. I can say I don't like individuals voting on public spending directly. Too many uninformed voters. Elected representatives have their own problems, but are in general a better source of decisions. Cheers.

  2. X = taxpayers dividing their dollars
    Y = subscribers dividing their dollars

    The reason why I asked you about Y rather than X is because if you disproved Y then X would be a moot point.

    With Netflix, information isn't an issue. Neither is inequality. All subscribers pay the same amount of money so they would all have the same exact influence over the supply.

    If you can disprove applying the Invisible Hand to Netflix, then there's no need to disprove applying the Invisible Hand to the government.

    Did you disprove Y? Nope. You didn't even say, "It's a terrible idea, but I don't have time to explain why." I would have simply replied, "Thanks, when you do have the time I'd be very interested in your explanation."

    Right now the Invisible Hand divides society's limited resources between food and computers. If you truly don't know how effective the Invisible Hand is, shouldn't finding out be your top priority?

    If your theory is that the Invisible Hand is less effective than the Visible Hand, then test your theory on Netflix. If Netflix is unwilling to be your guinea pig then test it on the NY Times. If the NY Times is unwilling then try the LA Times. If it's also unwilling then search until you do find a subscription based website that is willing to be your guinea pig. No matter what the results of the test are, you would be the very first economist in the world to have tested the Invisible Hand. Publish your results and enjoy your Nobel prize and all the attention that it comes with.