May

22

Economics is in a far earlier stage of evolution than physics. Unfortunately, it is often poisoned by political wishful thinking, just as medieval science was poisoned by religious doctrine. Taxation is an important example. The interactions among the myriad participants in a tax system are as impossible to unravel as are those of the molecules in a gas. D. Ranson in WSJ.

 "Medieval science" (sic) was not "poisoned by church doctrine". It existed because of church doctrine and because of church money. Galileo got in trouble not for his science but for deciding that he should tell the Pope what Catholic theology should be.

It is true that the "interactions among the myriad participants in a tax system are … impossible to unravel", but it has nothing to do with physics. Physicists have reached the point where they have sufficient understanding of "the molecules in a gas" that they can model the origins of the universe itself from the cosmic egg that awful Papist Georges LeMaitre hypothesized in the 1930s. It is, to me, one of the delicious ironies of the history of science and religion that Einstein found LeMaitre idea so deeply offensive to his theology of physics that he refused to even consider the idea of the Big Bang. It is a measure of LeMaitre's greatness that when Pius XII decided to do a Galileo and use LeMaitre's science as justification for the Pope's theology, LeMaitre wrote to him and told him ever so politely to cut it out, that physics could not and should not be used to address our questions for God.

Neither should physics (or biology, for that matter) be used to address the questions of economics. As a study of people and what they do with their money and things, economics can only hope to match history as a discipline; it can never "evolve" into a predictive science because human beings are, as Mises reminds us, far more fickle than any of the wave/particle uncertainty. Molecules are easy; the human comedy is hard.


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