"The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this." -John Stuart Mill

Friday, May 28, 2010

"The Right Answer Forever"

I was pleased to discover that someone videotaped and posted online a talk that I attended at Haverford in early April by Nobel Prize-winning economist A. Michael Spence. His presentation provided an impressively thorough overview of the factors driving the rapid economic growth currently taking place in China, as well as the motivation behind (and possible consequences of) Chinese currency policy. I was particularly satisfied with Spence’s reply to a question that I posed about the impact of social safety nets on growth; though he remarked that he might have been “overstating” the issue, he used my question as a jumping-off point for a refreshing criticism of our political system’s obsession with making grand ideological debates out of even the most straightforward questions of short-term policy. According to Spence, it ought to be clear that any given piece of policy must necessarily change over time, and that “debating it on… first principles… to get the sort of right answer forever ain’t gonna solve the problem.”

My question and Spence’s reply can be found here (beginning at 25:45 in the section titled "Q & A").

No comments:

Post a Comment