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Friday, October 05, 2012

So, You've Read The Euro Crisis for Dummies...

and a couple of similar books, and now you declare yourself an expert in economic methodology?

Well, that would be no sillier than reading a few pop history books and declaring yourself well-informed about the historical method. I'm not thinking of anyone in particular, but if, for instance, you read this blog, and your name ends in 'n,' and begins with 'r,' and there are maybe a 'y' and an 'a' in between, you might want to take special note here.

For example, I just picked up The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt. In the first two pages, I find:

"What was it that enabled a small Italian market town by a ford on the river Tiber to conquer the known world?"

Well, nothing, because it didn't. Look, Alexander had conquered all the way to India, so the Romans certainly knew about all the lands out there, but their empire ended roughly 2500 kilometers to the west of Alexander's. They also certainly knew of Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Ethiopia, and other lands on their borders.

"Although Latin died out as a living language after the Western Roman Empire came to an end in the fifth century A.D..."

Latin certainly changed. But if it "died out" we would not have Italian, Catalan, French, Spanish, Provencal, Sardinian, Romanian, Portuguese, and so forth.

"The [founding fathers of the United States] liked [the roman republican government's] balance between three sources of power: kingship (all-powerful Roman consuls)..."

In order to have a balance of power and "all powerful" consuls, I guess the Senate and assemblies must have been all powerful as well!

And this is just two pages in!

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