Friday, November 21, 2008

Setting the Tune

incentīvus "setting the tune" (in L.L. "inciting"), from stem of incinere "strike up," from in- "in, into" + canere "sing" (see chant). Sense infl. by association with incendere "to kindle." The adj. use, in ref. to a system of rewards meant to encourage harder work, first attested 1943 in jargon of the U.S. war economy; as a noun, in this sense, from 1948.
Online Etymology Dictionary
Perverted incentives are sprouting all around. Where unemployment rises, politicians are subsidizing it. Where companies waste resources, they are propped up. Where easy credit has caused catastrophe, it is cheapened. There are a few good men out there who warn us to heed the incentives, but many of the pundits seem to ignore them in the stampede to save the economy. I wonder how an economy can be saved by disregarding Economics.

Incentives will probably be a central theme in this blog, but the blog really has more to do with the Latin root of the word: canere, to sing. It's easy for me to admit I don't have all the answers to questions of economics and philosophy, since I have no training in either. This gives me a distinct advantage over the many excellent economic bloggers out there who are burdened with a vastly superior knowledge of the field. I'll try to use this asset to ask really basic questions that others might be embarrassed to.

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