Back to List

Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Summary

#economics #morality

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century

George Gilder

2012

2019-05-04

It's apparently "one of the most famous economic books of all time," almost a Wealth of Nations.

The greatest contribution is to revise Adam Smith's invisible hand, which moves to meet demand when free to do so, saying we should think instead of enterprising folks creating supply in hopes of meeting a demand, or in hopes of creating a demand with attractive new products. Whether people do this depends in part on their spirit of generosity and hope for receiving in return. Gilder's vision is called "supply-side economics" to contrast various other systems and perspectives that focus on serving pre-specified desires.

Now, I want to criticize the use of statistical evidence in the book, or more the lack of it, and on top of that the derision of social scientists. But you have to step back: is this a science book or a moral text? If it's a moral text, there's no need for some particular kind of statistical analysis.

(Although it is also permissible for a moral text to align with science, and such is a requirement for my objective acceptance. Being kind, of course, I can accept pretty much anything as moral for the humans.)