Monday, November 28, 2011

Economia e politica externa

Why Most Economists Are Hawks and Why They Might Be Wrong, por Brian Caplan:

I've never seen a survey, but casual empiricism makes me think that economists are hawks. Arnold Kling calls himself a Jacksonian - "the patriotic fighters for whom the worst sin is not going to war, it's losing one." But even liberal Democratic economists strike me as pretty eager to settle international disputes by bombing enemies back into the Stone Age.

The use of force is easy to rationalize in terms of basic economics. "We should make them PAY for what they've done!" It's just the law of demand: raise the price of crossing us, and fewer people will cross us. Make the price another Hiroshima, and perhaps the quantity demanded will fall to zero.

There is something to this line of argument, but it is too simple by far. Consider the following example. Suppose you go up to everyone you work with and tell them: "If you even think about getting in my way, you will be in a world of pain!" (...) You're raising the price of getting in your way, right? So the predicted effect of this threat should be to make people treat you better.

That's a crazy prediction. Making dire threats might scare some enemies off, but its primary effect would be to create new enemies. People who didn't care for you before will now be out to getcha.

So why doesn't the law of demand work in this situation? Threats and bullying don't just move along the "demand for crossing you" curve. If your targets perceive your behavior as inappropriate, mean, or downright evil, it shifts their "demand for crossing you" out. Call it psychology, or just common sense: People who previously bore you no ill will now start looking for a chance to give you a taste of your own medicine.

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