Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Error of Pessimism

John O'Byrne wrote the following letter into The Irish Times on Saturday, May 15th, on the gloomy article written by Morgan Kelly on Ireland's economic future (see here):
Madam, – The Cambridge economist AC Pigou, writing in 1920, is worth quoting in the context of Morgan Kelly’s doom-laden economic prognosis and solutions. “The error of optimism dies in the crisis but in dying it gives birth to an error of pessimism. This new error is born, not an infant, but a giant.” Our leading economists appear to be afflicted with giant doses of this condition.
It's a shame he didn't think about the absurdity of quoting a comment on the error of pessimism from 1920, seeing as the following thirty years brought the Great Depression; the rise of fascism and Uncle Joe Stalin in Russia; the Second World War; the Holocaust; the invention of the atomic bomb and its use of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the Cold War. Sometimes pessimism is just another word for realism.
(This is not a return from hibernation, by the way; I read the letter this morning and became so incensed that I felt the need to respond.)


jams o donnell said...

Well put. Shame this does not mark the end of your hibernation. Comeback soon!

A Doubtful Egg said...

Thanks, Jams.

Sean Jeating said...

Sometimes certain Johns – or whatever their names may be – should consider to burn their letters before publishing, and write new ones.

My good thoughts are with you, friend.

Word verification: Hesse [Hermann, probably ...]

A Doubtful Egg said...

Thanks, Sean.