Lessons from FEE

June 23, 2008

I am learning a lot from the seminars at FEE that I have been attending. I plan to overview some of the lessons from the seminars on here this week. They will be in no particular order.

 

Aggregates

We should all do our best not to speak in aggregate terms when we actually mean some individuals that make up that group. That is, saying the name of the group (such as “the government”) when we mean a few select senators or other elected individuals. Using aggregate terms when talking about where a decision came from or who enacted a regulation only muddles the picture and makes it difficult to get a clear answer to a problem that deals with that. Why? Because only individuals purposefully act. Groups cannot act. There are hundreds of situations where this can come into play. Think about it for a while. 

Of course, the broader lesson of this is that we should be as precise as possible with our terms when speaking and writing. Without clear terms, it becomes very difficult to solve problems and nearly impossible to build a stable foundation for any system (in FEE’s case, economics).

Use clear terms. I am going to try my best to do this, too. If I start getting sloppy, call me out on it.