Reply To: Steven Kates on Say's Law



You have been extremely courteous and so I want to reciprocate by saying I appreciate your comments, and I realize you are just trying to avoid repetition of what you take to be a common misconception among economists, even free-market ones.

However, having said all that, I think you came into this lecture “looking for a fight” and found what you wanted. 🙂

After reading your complaints about my treatment, I went back and listened to most of my lecture. Here’s what I found:

5:30 I say that the modern economist gets it wrong when he says what “Say’s Law” is.

6:25 I tell the listener we are going to let Say make his case in his own words, without putting a modern spin on it through the prism of other economists.

7:05 I show how Say is responding to the common misconceptions among merchants about the cause of recessions. This includes the worry that there is a scarcity of money.

9:00 I literally quote Say when he writes “You say you only want money; I say you want other commodities…”

16:00 – 18:00 I summarize Say’s overall point as being that *general* overproduction is impossible; no, that is what prosperity is.

** Thus far, I can’t see how you could possibly complain that I’m misinterpreting what Say’s point was. This is especially so, since I literally quote extensively from him and just paraphrase his words. I repeated many of the points you yourself made above, when you were trying to show what Say was saying, in contrast to (what you took to be) my erroneous interpretation. **

21:25 Now, at this point, I proceed to talk about how subsequent economists have interpreted Say.

By now, I think the only possible point of disagreement between us, is that you think I incorrectly said that John Stuart Mill said that Say would be unequivocally right in a barter economy, but not “mathematically foolproof” right in a monetary economy, at which point we would need more than accounting to show him right.

However, you also conceded that maybe I could find JS Mill saying exactly this point, and you weren’t going to make it count because Mill wrote all sorts of stuff.

I hope you can see why I don’t think it’s worth proceeding at this point, if you are admitting that even if I find JS Mill literally writing what I said his position was, that you aren’t going to accept that as valid.

(Again, I know tone of voice is hard to convey in print, so I’m saying the above in a perfectly pleasant tone. 🙂 )