Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Join the Arizona Society of Economics Teachers Book Club to discuss current popular economics books.
Thursday, September 20, 2012: Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson
Wednesday, October 24, 2012: The Next Convergence by Michael Spence
Thursday, December 6, 2012: The Race Between Education & Technology by Goldin and Katz
5:45 - 7:45 p.m.
Arizona Council on Economic Education office
3260 North Hayden Road, Suite 207
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
Monday, August 27, 2012
For anyone interested in the academic proofs behind certain historical events, I recommend their earlier work in which the analytical framework can be thoroughly analyzed. This book had different goals. Its emphasis on historical case studies to make it more interesting to the general reader succeeds in transferring the idea to all those outside the economic and political science profession. They have managed to summarize their theory and make the case for institutional change, while presenting it in an understandable, yet brilliant way for all those who are not economists. That alone marks the book as a success.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
August 26, 2012
Weekend Edition Sunday guest host Linda Wertheimer talks with Russell Roberts of George Mason University and the Hoover Institution for the final installment of her series of interviews with top economists.
1. Role of government
Ask of the right, you say that government should be smaller, what functions of the government do you argue could be "better" conducted by the private sector.
Ask of the left, you say government should be larger, what functions of the private sector do you argue could be better conducted by the public sector.
2. Deal with demographic challenge.
How do we deal with the challenge of entitlement spending.
3. Fiscal cliff - deal with the ongoing budget deficit.
How would your economic plan close the ongoing 1 trillion dollar budget deficit?
If you click below you can both listen to the 5 minute interview as well as scroll down to read comments by listeners, very revealing about the perspective of NPR listeners.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
I’M reading a fascinating new book called “Why Nations Fail.” The more you read it, the more you appreciate what a fool’s errand we’re on in Afghanistan and how much we need to totally revamp our whole foreign aid strategy. But most intriguing are the warning flares the authors put up about both America and China.
. . .
Acemoglu worries that our huge growth in economic inequality is undermining the inclusiveness of America’s institutions, too. “The real problem is that economic inequality, when it becomes this large, translates into political inequality.” When one person can write a check to finance your whole campaign, how inclusive will you be as an elected official to listen to competing voices?
Friday, August 24, 2012
Do read the whole review (that is not just the usual cliched command to do so), and I will gladly link to any response by Acemoglu and Robinson. Here is Diamond’s bottom line:
My overall assessment of the authors’ argument is that inclusive institutions, while not the overwhelming determinant of prosperity that they claim, are an important factor. Perhaps they provide 50 percent of the explanation for national differences in prosperity. That’s enough to establish such institutions as one of the major forces in the modern world. Why Nations Fail offers an excellent way for any interested reader to learn about them and their consequences. Whereas most writing by academic economists is incomprehensible to the lay public, Acemoglu and Robinson have written this book so that it can be understood and enjoyed by all of us who aren’t economists.
Review from Marginal Revolution
Thursday, August 23, 2012
It would take several battalions of regional specialists to double-check their history and analysis, and while the overall picture is detailed and convincing, the authors would have to have a truly superhuman batting average to get every nuance right. Their treatment of the Middle East, for instance, is largely persuasive, but they are a little harsh on the Ottoman Empire, which they basically write off as “highly absolutist” without noting its striking diversity and relatively inclusive sociopolitical arrangements, which often gave minority communities considerably more running room (and space for entrepreneurship) than their European co-religionists.
Acemoglu and Robinson have run the risks of ambition, and cheerfully so. For a book about the dismal science and some dismal plights, “Why Nations Fail” is a surprisingly captivating read. This is, in every sense, a big book. Readers will hope that it makes a big difference.
Warren Bass is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and a former adviser to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Distinction between extractive and inclusive institutions - the institutional component of their theory and --
Mechanism for the emergence of inclusion in a world historically characterized by extraction.
I wonder if any of my fellow clubbers are struggling to articulate the second part of the theory?
The theory seems to rest on the idea of circles - vicious ones that support extractive institutions (which tend to persist and can generate short term growth) and virtuous ones that support inclusive institutions.
Again, how convincing is this analysis?
One of my persisting questions is the role of the "degree of state centralization" (441) as it seems that centralization at the supranational level and at the subnational levels (to use the terminology employed by North in Violence and the Social Order) plays a part in both circles and both types of institutional evolution.
I found the empowerment discussion as a transitional mechanism disappointing and not as clear as I would have liked.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I wonder how convincing the examples in chapter 14 - Botswana, China, and the US South are as support for the mechanism of transition, which I continue to find murky and hard to articulate from my reading.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Collier, in a 2009 paper on failed nations writes of the mechanism of circles or self reinforcing processes:
Besley and Persson (2008a) propose an economic formalization of Tilly. Their analysis has three layers: public policies, which can in principle be changed rapidly; institutions which take longer to build and so are in the nature of investments in capacity; and the initial structure of political power, describing the interests which the government represents. Different power structures and interests determine how much the government investments in institutional capacity for taxation and justice. They show that a political system which is not inclusive, and which has a high degree of likely to build the capacity needed for an effective state. In turn, if these institutions are not built, subsequent policy choices on tax rates and the regulation of private economic activity are constrained.
ChAtper 10 points to the rule of law as a key emergent institution that once in place can lead to virtuous circles.
"Once in place, the notion of the rule of law not only kept absolutism at bay but also created a virtuous circle: . . ." (308)
The previous discussion in the book outlines why this key institution is a fragile one that can easily be overcome by special interests seeking extractive rather than inclusive institutions. And, importantly, Acemoglu and Robinson point out:
"While the virtuous circle creates a tendency for inclusive institutions to persiste, it is neither inevitable nor irreversible." (309)
When reading this chapter I recalled William Easterly's work and his disagreement with Collier on this point of virtuous circles, if memory serves me correctly. I wonder if we will engage this idea during book discussion.
The authors conclude this chapter and introduce the next on vicious circles by asserting that while there is a strong tendency for both types of circles to be self reinforcing, the tension between the two is strong and if there is a tipping action it may well be in the direction of vicious circles.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Interestingly, in a recent blog post, Dani Rodik ( http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/no-more-growth-miracles-by-dani-rodrik ) argues that the process of diffusion identified in Why Nations Fail is decelerating -
"Successful long-term development therefore requires a two-pronged push. It requires an industrialization drive, accompanied by the steady accumulation of human capital and institutional capabilities to sustain services-driven growth once industrialization reaches its limits. Without the industrialization drive, economic takeoff becomes quite difficult. Without sustained investments in human capital and institution-building, growth is condemned to peter out.
But this time-tested recipe has become a lot less effective these days, owing to changes in manufacturing technologies and the global context. First, technological advances have rendered manufacturing much more skill- and capital-intensive than it was in the past, even at the low-quality end of the spectrum. As a result, the capacity of manufacturing to absorb labor has become much more limited. It will be impossible for the next generation of industrializing countries to move 25% or more of their workforce into manufacturing, as East Asian economies did.
Second, globalization in general, and the rise of China in particular, has greatly increased competition on world markets, making it difficult for newcomers to make space for themselves. Although Chinese labor is becoming more expensive, China remains a formidable competitor for any country contemplating entry into manufactures.
Moreover, rich countries are unlikely to be as permissive towards industrialization policies as they were in the past. Policymakers in the industrial core looked the other way as rapidly growing East Asian countries acquired Western technologies and industrial capabilities through unorthodox policies such as subsidies, local content requirements, reverse engineering, and currency undervaluation. Core countries also kept their domestic markets open, allowing East Asian countries to export freely the manufactured products that resulted."
I found chapter 10 to be a key one in book as the identification of diffusion as a key process in development is supported by comparison and contrast (Japan v China). I do wonder, however, at the significance attributed to colonization and the nature of the society colonized (see pages 299-300) by the authors and look forward to our discussion of this chapter and examination of diffusion.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
A thesis can be summarised, albeit crudely, in a short review. Yet the main strength of this book is beyond the power of summary: it is packed, from beginning to end, with historical vignettes that are both erudite and fascinating. As Jared Diamond says on the cover: "It will make you a spellbinder at parties." But it will also make you think.
"World inequality today exists because during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries some countries were able to take advantage of the Industrial Revolution and the technologies and methods of organizations that it brought while others were unable to do so." (271)
The authors argue that the "underdeveloped" societies were "unable" to participate in rising income and wealth due to growth as a result of extractive institutions (slavery is the example explored in this chapter) imposed by European colonization.
I wonder to what extent this argument is a complete explanation of the rising world inequality.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
I look forward to our discussion of a comment at the end of this chapter:
"Inclusive political and economic institutions necessitate some degree of political centralization . . . ." (243)
I wonder if this assertion penetrates fully to the mechanism that is a necessary condition for inclusiveness. As I recall from North's book Violence and the Social Order the institution of the state was examined at its various levels or manifestations - (subnational)local, state or province and national. Perhaps it is, as North seems to argue, the depth and breadth of this federalism that is key to inclusiveness.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The authors go on to examine England, the Glorious Revolution and the Industrial Revolution as an illustration of a "turning point" from extractive to inclusive institutions. I think of Joel Moykr's work on technology and the industrial evolution and wonder to what extent the analysis in this chapter holds up. That is, the answer to Why England? sees to remain an open question and the institutional response presented in this chapter is one of a number of alternatives rather than the conclusion.
In any event, the overview in this chapter does connect political change and technological change in an interesting manner.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Most societies have historically been and continue to be extractive in nature
Inclusiveness is fragile and easily can be reversed
Small institutional differences and critical junctures are ephemeral (157)
The use of example in this chapter (Venice, Rome and England) illustrate these three points and, I found provocative the use of Virtues and Vices as an organizing paradigm when examining the evolution of Rome. This terminology echoed Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and the development in this book of the complex nature of human character and behavior. The role of the "moral sense" and the dimly understood manner in which this sense develops seems to be a key variable in the movement toward inclusiveness.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I look forward to our discussion of an assertion made by the authors early in the chapter:
". . .sustained growth requires technological change,"(124)
While this is an intutively attractive cause/effect relation, I wonder to what extent has it been reflected in the literature and in empirical work. That is, the Solow model of growth, Romer's growth model and other models assign differing weights to the role of technology in the complex process of change. So, I wonder to what extent this assertion is useful.
That said, the discussion of growth under extractive institutions is very helpful for understanding the hurdles faced when a society facing transition. There are a number of players in extractive societies that do in fact earn rents and, in the short run, provide some level of growth to the entire society. "Extractive institutions are so common in history because they have a powerful logic: they can generate some limited prosperity while at the same time distributing it into the hands of a small elite. For this growth to happen, there must be political centralization."(149)
So, here is a dilemna, previous the authors argue that some degree of political centralization is necessary for the development of inclusive institutions. But here, in chapter 5, they recognize that political centralization is necessary for extractive institutions to emerge and persist. Is it a matter of degree? That is, how does the "proper" level of centralization emerge and persist?
On page 131 the authors further assert: "It [growth] had been done by government command, which could solve some basic economic problems."
I have an issue with the idea that any systme can "solve" problems. Economic systems set up incentives that motivate activity that can address problems, create problems and provide alternatives to existing responses to problems.
That said, I would have liked to know which economic problems are solved by command economic systems.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
However, the argument seems to be that, however small the distinctions may be between societies, there are moments in history - critical junctures - that offer the opportunity for a change in the path of development. That is, if I am reading the argument correctly.
The analysis in this chapter is provocative and I found myself reflecting upon contemporary debates about the direction of institutional change. After comparing and contrasting various European approaches to colonization, we read:
"These distinctions, which initially appeared small, started to matter a great deal . . ." (page 105)
This is, I think, an important point, if one not fully supported by evidence. That is, the junctures that offer what appear to be 2 small or insignificant differences in institutional development, way well have very large consequences. Today, the debate over regulation of sugar, fat or other food properties may seem small to some (ok, this may not be the best example) may end up with critical impact on development in the foreseeable future. Perhaps a better example is the current debate over women's rights.
The authors introduce the idea of institutional drift(108-9) as mechanism that leads to differences in institutional evolution and thus outcome. I am anxious to hear how my colleagues react to the analysis and argument for this mechanism.
"The richly divergent patterns of economic development around the world hinge on the interplay of critical junctures and institutional drift. Existing political and economic institutions - sometimes shaped by a long process of institutional drift and sometimes resulting from divergent responses to prior critical junctures-create the anvil upon which future change will be forged."(109-110)
This mechanism seems to me to be Hayekian and thus attractive to my understanding of the process of change. But it is a nagging concern that the parallel between genetic drift (which I believe is a generally accepted process in evolutionary biology) and institutional drift which is asserted by the authors is not . . . fully developed and perhaps not valid? That is, I also recall that Hayek warned about attempting to make parallels from natural world process (which he called simple?) to social processes (which he called complex?)
In simple terms, is institutional drift a valid/useful mechanism to apply to understanding the process of economic change?
Friday, August 10, 2012
The distinction between extractive and inclusive economic institutions is presented in this chapter. Inclusive institutions are: "To be inclusive, economic institutions must feature secure private property, an unbiased system of law, and a provision of public services that provides a level playing field in which people can exchange and contract; it must permit the entry of new businesses and allow people to choose their careers." (74-5)
This is an interesting list - beginning with the universal of private property rights as an institutional foundation for an inclusive or, to use North's terminology, open access society, the authors insert the notion that some public provision of services is necessary for societies to grow and develop. I anticipate a heated discussion on this point. As I recall, Hayek would have agreed with this point, in the second half of The Fatal Conceit he listed and analyzed a set of public services that he felt were necessary for a free and responsible society.
The authors go on to argue that the list above: " . . . all reply upon the state, the institution with the coercive capacity to impost order, prevent theft and fraud, and enforce contracts between private property."(75-6)
I think the authors might well have spent some time here discussing and distinquishing between formal institutions (state police power) and informal institutions (trust, adherence to the state, etc) to extend this point. The US experience, as that of other countries [advanced (open access or inclusive) and natural (extractive)] have indicated that the state is challenged in its effort to prevent theft and fraud, particularly in the face of informal institutional norms and conventions that encourage fraud.
But the authors go farther and, I think reach back to Adam Smith, when they extend their argument.
Smith advocates for public services and infrastructure in:
Of the Expence of public Works and public Institutions
The third and last duty of the sovereign or commonwealth is that of erecting and maintaining those public institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a nature that the profit could never repay the expence to any individual or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be expected that any individual or small number of individuals should erect or maintain. The performance of this duty requires, too, very different degrees of expence in the different periods of society.
After the public institutions and public works necessary for the defence of the society, and for the administration of justice, both of which have already been mentioned, the other works and institutions of this kind are chiefly those for facilitating the commerce of the society, and those for promoting the instruction of the people. The institutions for instruction are of two kinds: those for the education of youth, and those for the instruction of people of all ages. The consideration of the manner in which the expence of those different sorts of public, works and institutions may be most properly defrayed will divide this third part of the present chapter into three different articles.
The authors channel this Enlightenment view in the top paragraph of page 76 and conclude in this paragraph convincingly:
"The state is thus inxorably intertwined with economic institutions . . . Inclusive economic institutions need and use the state." (76)
Acemoglu and Robinson recognize the danger of state involvement as they go on to show convincingly the negative or wealth destroying potential of this sympiotic relation between the state and economic institutions. I think of the over simplified NRA contention that guns do not kill, people kill. I wonder what are the weaknesses of applying that metaphor - the institutional relation between the state and economic systems does not creat poverty (or prosperity) the path depend development (people) lead to the outcome?
Page 77 first full paragraph describes the process of education and technology as engines of economic growth. I hope our book club selects the Goldin/Katz book The Race Between Education and Technology so we can more deeply consider this relationship and its impact on progress, development and prosperity as well as examine the role played by political institutions in faciliating an open access or inclusive system of political and economic decision making.
Pages 79 - 94 in chapter 3 consider political institutions and the third paragraph under the section heading begins with a statement worth examining - "All economic institutions are created by society." (79)
While this is true I see economic institutions from a Hayekian perspective - they emerge and evolve as a result of exchange between individuals. It is undeniable that individual interaction comprise society, but I would emphasize the role of the individual in formation of economic institutions - as well as the path dependence of institutional development and change.
I found a recent posting over on Think Markets on point here - "But real social orders are rarely (ever?) of either extreme. The extremes are ideal types, and real orders more or less instantiate the types. Take musical groups, a social structure with which I have fair familiarity. Even in an orchestra, which is well towards the planned end of the range, the individual musicians still have room for individual creativity and expression. (Otherwise it is hard to imagine anyone spending their life playing in orchestras.) And even the most free-form, improvisational jazz group needs some planning: “OK, we’ll start at eight, and end at about eleven.”
I think most social groups are in the “somewhere in the middle” category: we each make our own decisions driving down the road, for instance, but within a planned framework of designated lanes, stop signs, traffic lights, and so on. A basketball team may run set plays, but the players must be ready to respond creatively to unexpected situations that arise as the play develops. Our discussions of these types of orders will benefit, I think, from seeing reality presents us with a gradient of mixtures of the two ideal types, and few, if any, pure examples of either."
The first sentence of the last paragraph on page 79 might well be controversial in our group, although I find it sound analysis. Perhaps we will have an animated text based debate over this assertion.
What I do find provocative is the first full paragraph on page 81 - which served to help clarify my reading of North et al Violence and the Social Order.. Prior to my thinking on this topic the assertion that "centralized" political institutions were "inclusive" would have resulted in either a blank stare or knee jerk opposition. As developed by the authors here and in their previous work, a degree of centralizatiion is necessary to safeguard opportunity to participate - both in the political process and the economic system. I think of fully decentralized areas (failed nation states) of the globe - Somalia, the Gaza Strip, Chad, Sudan etc . . . .
The remainder of this chapter provides a useful analysis of the costs and benefits of creative destruction to society and the rent seeking behavior as agents in both inclusive and extractive societies acting to prevent private losses that inevitably result from this process. The last sentence on page 84 rings true and is, very, very important to understanding the process of economic change. As individuals we can fall into the opposition or luddite camp. As my institution I recall the reaction of admissions employees when the movement began to online adminssion, enrollment and registration. They feared for their jobs and thus found reasons that this new process - making use of technology - would "hurt" the institution. The last 4 pages of chapter 3 are inportant as they clarify the potential for short run grow under extractive institutions. The authors have spoken on the potentail for teh BRIC block and, China in particular, we can apply the framework in the book to understand how the Dutch disease may well lead to some short term, though in the eyes of the authors, unsustainable growth.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The first considers differing climate and factor endowments with particular attention to the view of Jared Diamond regarding initial plant and animal endowments.
The second is one that considers culture as a set of social norms and conventions and as such would seem to be a part of institutional analysis of change. Culture as manifest in religion and nationalism are rejected as useful explanations for change.
The final theory is considered and presented as the most dangerous of explanations. If only the "right" leader or elites can control society, then the ignorance of proper development policy can be overcome.
After reviewing these theories the chapter concludes with a call for economics to "understand how different types of policies and social arrangements affect economic incentives and behavior." (69)
"The United States today is also far richer than . . . [third world countries] . . . because of the way its institutions, both economic and political, shape the incentives of businesses, individuals and politicians."
So far, so good. This institutional analysis is one that I suspect we might all agree on. But the authors go farther and, I would expect that the following argumentation will generate some discussion and disagreement. I hope that this discussion is analytic and based upon our previous text discussions rather than opinionated and based upon a lack of any evidence. The Liberty Fund discussion model would be very helpful here.
"Each society functions with a set of economic and political rules created and enforced by the state and the citizens collectively. Economic institutions shape economic incentives; the incentives to become educated, to save and invest, to innovate and adopt new technologies and so on. It is the political process that determines what economic institutions people live under, and it is the political institutions that determine how this process works."
I wonder to what extent the authors of confused correlation with causality here. That is, because a set of economic and political institutions appear together does not in any way establish causality. In a previous book, Acemoglu and Robinson try to make that argument ( Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy )
So, over on page 43 we read: ". . . it is politics and political institutions that determine what economic institutions a country has."
I look forward to the assessment of my fellow book clubbers on how well this assertion is supported in the book.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
This is an important overview of the meaning of equality v inequality in the context of the argument of Why Nations Fail. This very short video by the author is very important as he incorporates examples from the US today and places these in historical context. Click below for the entire (excellent) lecture. http://forum-network.org/lecture/why-nations-fail-origins-power-prosperity-and-poverty
Monday, August 6, 2012
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
Spence writes: "This book is about the 100-plus years that began in 1945 and will run to the middle of the twenty-first century."(4). He goes on to call the book a midterm report card (interesting) and when reading the introduction I was struck by the quotes that begin the book.
The first, Hayekean in nature, resonates with me and I think reflects an essential humility that the social scientist and is audience should consider when considering these topics of critical importance.
I am torn in my reaction to the second quote. On one hand, the ability to reflect and revise based upon new information, data, values and evolving belief seems also a commendable perspective. Emergent orders, it seems, do reflect the characteristic of adaptation which is at the heart of change. So I wonder, why am I disquieted by this notion?
The Samuelson quote is provocative and I hope our reading and discussion of Spence will give me a depth of critical analysis to consider what reaction is appropriate.
Back to the introduction and a set of really profound questions on page 5
Can we learn over time to manage something as complex as the emerging and evolving global economy, with its rising interdependencies and complexities?
Is the management and governance of the global economy that was in place for the last quarter century going to work in the future, or is it going to need fundamental change?
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
This does not establish causality - which way does the influence flow - from economic institutionalized freedom to political or vice versa?
But, in a very important assertion in the same chapter:
The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the "rules of the game" and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.
So, regardless of the causality, Acemoglu and Robinson may well be on to something in their exploration of the relationship between economic and political institutions.
Friedman's well founded advocacy of free markets supported by a political framework designed to support individualism and liberty follows the above support of limited government:
What the market does is to reduce greatly the range of issues that must be decided through political means, and thereby to minimize the extent to which government need participate directly in the game. The characteristic feature of action through political channels is that it tends to require or enforce substantial conformity. The great advantage of the market, on the other hand, is that it permits wide diversity. It is, in political terms, a system of proportional representation. Each man can vote, as it were, for the color of tie he wants and get it; he does not have to see what color-the majority wants and then, if he is in the minority, submit.
At our July bookclub a member of our group expressed both admiration and appreciation for the manner in which Friedman articulates and advocates for individualism, liberty and free market structures.
In the video below, Friedman clarifies the relationship between economic and political freedom.
He makes the important observation that the relationship is a complex one and that there are any number of possible outcomes from the interaction between economic and political institutions.
A younger Friedman discusses the nature of economic systems and this video references Leonard Reed's famous I, Pencil essay.
My views on state control of most institutions are well known, so I was surprised by this invitation. I have high regard and a great deal of respect for the parent who invited me, so I have attended.
What as most impressed me as been the effort and civility of the parents to digest my point of view. The group is uniformily in support of public education and on Dan Klein's survey of views toward state involvement would be score close to my colleagues in higher education - particularly those in sociology, the humanities, history or political science.
That said, they repectfully allow me to present my point of view and question my point of view civilly and, in a manner that seems to me to be one of honestly trying to understand my analysis and rationale.
This model reinforces to me the importance of engaged and civil discussion and, more importantly, the need to engage with ideas that confront or challenge those that we hold closely. It is through this engagement with opposing ideas that beneficial exchange can potentially take place. This exchange of intellectual capital is a challenge as ideas and the resulting ideology take on the elements of belief. As belief hards into faith there seems to be a tendency to develop "grid lock" as opposing beliefs battle rather than engage.
Opportunities to develop a higher order level of engagement have been present in the past and, I believe continue to exist. As a recent book club our group recalled Milton Friedman and his participation in the last century on the Phil Donahue program and how this civil engagement can take place.
I am struck by the willingness of Donahue, an acknowledged modern liberal and interventionist, was willing to provide a stage for an alternative and opposing point of view. Friedman used that stage with respect and, while he did personalize his analysis, he did so with grace and a sense of humor. Most importantly, his analysis engaged with Donahue's question and point of view in a meaningful way, rather than merely judging and dismissing this view. For this, and many other reasons, I consider Friedman and exemplar of a public intellectual and educator working to constructively move an important debate forward. Both he and Hayek argued in a manner that was open, accessible and positive and, consistently avoided the negative, pejorative that all too often characterizes public discourse. The ASET book club is an excellent forum for exploring a wide variety of views and ideas and I hope continues to do so in a positive manner. It is difficulty to restrain from ad hominium and other types of negative reactions when dealing with opposing views, as educators this skill is one we hope to develop in ourselves and our students.