Thursday, July 22, 2004

35-Hour Stone Agers

Social engineering is very hard work.  This is why it never works.  Anyone with a whit of economic sense cringed when France went for the thirty-five hour workweek -- to increase (!) employment. 

It worked out as predicted and now the social engineers are backing off.

Many French workers and others could have been spared plenty of pain and misery if elites had spent just a little time entertaining a little economic common sense.

Paul H. Rubin looks to evolution to explain why economic common sense is so uncommon.  zero-sum thinking, so it seems, worked pretty well all through Pleistocene millenia and is, therefore, still deeply embedded within most of us.   Living in relatively small groups, Stone Agers had less reason to specialize and experience the joys of non-zero sum outcomes.

Brink Lindsey chronicles some of the pain that this history causes to this day -- in France as well as here, there, and everywhere.