Brad DeLong (2011): Economic Downturns, the Social-Darwinist Waltz, and the Navigation of the Starship Asgard: "Tyler Cowen writes: 'More rooftop-ready results on reservation wages:...
I conclude that some people aren’t very good at looking for jobs and further some people are not very good at accepting job offers….
It seems to me that this is one of the steps in what I have sometimes called the Social-Darwinist Waltz. It goes like this.... 5. You say government has not intervened?... 6. Well, it must be because some people are not skilled decision-makers and are not rational judges of their own interests. 7. But their lack of skill and foresight is non-adaptive. 8. Their lack of skill and foresight is blameworthy. 9. And they should be punished. 10. And in punishing them, the market outcome is good after all.... It is, I think, very important for rational policy to halt the Social-Darwinist Waltz where Tyler is, at step 7, and not go on to step 8.... A system that for good outcomes requires that people act in ways people do not do is not a good system--and to blame the people rather than the system is to commit a major intellectual error.
Consider the... Starship Asgard.... When one person transposes an 8 and a 3 in the fifth and sixth decimal places of a hand calculation, the result should not be to send the starship hundreds of light years off course into uncharted space. Similarly, in a well-functioning economy the failure of a critical mass of unemployed workers to realize that they really should drop their reservation wage because the economy is suffering from a nominal shock should not send the unemployment rate on a multiyear journey upward during which it kisses 10%.