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Correspondence

The Efficient Destruction of Flyover Country

Ideologues tend to place a great value on economic laws.  I started out my undergraduate career hoping for a double major in political science and economics.  My goal was to administer a breadline and to understand why it was necessary.  I was doing very well in political philosophy and public administration, but lagging a bit in economics.  One day, in a microeconomics course, after seeing lots of really nifty charts and graphs, I innocently inquired of my professor where the data were for the axes of those charts and graphs.  He replied that there weren’t any; these charts and graphs were conceptual in nature.  I responded that it seemed strange to base a true science on pure conjecture, without resort to experimental evidence.  He looked at me as if I were speaking Martian.  When he recovered, he suggested that I seek another major.

I learned from Murray Rothbard that it was crucial in economics to see what people actually did.  (I have found Rothbard’s advice to be of very good use in political science, too.)  The first known book on economics, Xenophon’s Oeconomicus, is based on anecdotal evidence and does not include a single chart or graph.  But since it is hard to apply calculus to real evidence, that is a minority view in the field.

Realizing right at the beginning of my Ph.D. program that there was no way for a Vietnam combat infantry...

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