Laying the Groundwork for Thinking about Liberty
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Laying the Groundwork for Thinking about Liberty. As we know, there are known knowns . There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns:

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Laying the Groundwork for Thinking about Liberty

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Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Laying the Groundwork for Thinking about Liberty


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns:

the ones we don't know we don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Laying the Groundwork for Thinking about Liberty

~ or ~

One misguided zealot can wreak more havoc than a roomful of idiots.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Things that are true.

Things students believe are true.

Misconception

The Unknown

Knowledge

33% of UK adults believe that Mount Everest is in Europe.

– National Geographic, 2007

61% of American adults either do not believe in evolution or have no opinion.

– Gallup, February 2009


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

What We Think We Do

Misconception

The Unknown

Knowledge


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

What We Really Do

Misconception

The Unknown

Knowledge


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Misconceptions Are the Enemy

(a real conversation)

As wages rise, more people enter the labor market.

Cool.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Misconceptions Are the Enemy

As wages rise, firms cut back on hiring.

Got it.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Misconceptions Are the Enemy

Therefore, price floors create surpluses.

No problem.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Misconceptions Are the Enemy

So, a minimum wage causes unemployment.

But we need a minimum wage because companies would pay zero if we let them.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Misconceptions Are the Enemy


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

What We Need To Do

Misconception

The Unknown

Knowledge


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

How Do We Dispel Misconceptions?

Data

Demonstrations


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

www.antonydavies.org

Shameless plug


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Data source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Data source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Data source: Statistical Abstract of the United States, and Bureau of Labor Statistics


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

How Do We Dispel Misconceptions?

Data

Demonstrations


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Workers

Firms

Find a firm willing to hire you at whatever price you can negotiate.

Goal: Get the highest wage you can.

Hire workers at whatever price you can negotiate.

Goal: Maximize profit.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Firms

Each firm gets a chart like this. The chart is the firm’s factory.

Each unit the firm produces is automatically sold for $4.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Suppose you can negotiate a price of $10 per worker.

All the workers will be hired  0% unemployment.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Now, impose a minimum wage of $15 per worker.

Only half of the workers will be hired  50% unemployment.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • This demonstration can be done in 20 minutes and students immediately “get” two important lessons:

    • Minimum wage causes unemployment.

    • Left alone, firms will not pay zero.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Demonstration and data remove misconceptions, opening the mind to more knowledge.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

Inoculate Against Misconceptions

Economic misconceptions are usually the result of pride and prejudice.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Prejudice

  • Humans who work in the private sector are greedy.

  • Humans who work in the public sector are altruistic.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Truth

  • The same humans with the same strengths, failings, and desires occupy both sectors.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Schizophrenic Voters

  • The same people you claim are selfish in the marketplace you also claim are selfless in the voting booth.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Addict Voters

  • People want to be forced to do the right thing!

Save us!


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Pride

  • Economic truths are opinion.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Truth

  • The whole point of economic theory is to describe the real world.

  • Disconnects arise not from a failure of economics but from a lack of understanding of what economics is telling us.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Pride

  • Unwillingness to admit limitations.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

  • Truth

  • It is impossible for an economy to provide everything that everyone wants.

  • Corollary:A majority vote does not bestow magical powers to circumvent limitations.


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

What is the point?


Laying the groundwork for thinking about liberty

What We Need To Do

Dispel misconceptions with data and demonstration.

Inoculate by warning against pride and prejudice.


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