Economics - General

The Dismal Science

Alex Tabarrok of the Marginal Revolution blog, has an interesting post regarding economics, long known as the dismal science.  First off, he has an entertaining excerpt from the Jon Stewart show:

Jon Stewart: Uh, the way you’ve explained the tax cuts doesn’t really seem fair.

John Hodgman: Fairness isn’t really the point.  They don’t call economics the dismal science because it’s fair.

JS:  Well, I suppose not.

JH: No, no, they call it that after Sir Eustice Dismal.  The 18th century English economist who proposed making smokestacks out of children.

JS: I uh, I actually never knew that.

JH: Yes, it was a very interesting proposal but ultimately flawed.  I mean if you make the smokestacks out of children who will you force to clean them?…

JH: Yes, it’s referred to as Dismal’s paradox.

In actuality, economics is known as the dismal science because of Thomas Malthus.  Tabarrok also cites the EconLog website which has a nice summary of “The secret history of the dismal science.”