Case, James (2007). Competition: The Birth of a New Science. New York: Hill and Wang. 2008.

Due libri in uno, piuttosto diversi tra loro. Per la verità, l’autore ne è consapevole: la prima parte è una trattazione teorica della concorrenza, nel suo progresso (così si esprime Case) da arte a scienza, soprattutto attraverso la teoria dei giochi. La seconda, tratta della concorrenza in ambito economico, ed è sostanzialmente un pamphlet contro la sintesi neoclassica e le teorie mainstream.

Niente di male, ma mi aspettavo altro e sono rimasto un po’ deluso. E di confutazioni delle teorie economiche mainstream ne ho lette molte, per lo più migliori di questa.

Ci sono comunque un paio di citazioni da salvare, perle in un mare piuttosto sciatto.

Economics at its best can function as a science of scarcity. But such a science has little to offer a policy process incapable of distinguishing between that which is truly scarce and that which is only rumored to be. Essentials like food, clothing, and shelter are by no means scarce in today’s developed nations. Equally plentiful are luxury items like skis, diamonds, Hummers, and trips to Las Vegas. Cuban cigars and estate-bottled Burgundies are scarce, to be sure. But few other things are.
Jobs, in contrast, are scarce wherever you go. In Mexico – and in the lands further south – people are willing to pay thousands of dollars, and then endure weeks of hardship leavened by mortal risk, to be smuggled across the Sonoran Desert into the United States, knowing as they go that only the most menial tasks await them. Desperate natives of other continents risk long sea voyages – often concealed in the sweltering holds of cargo ships – with equally unenviable prospects. [pp. 305-306]

Secondo Case, si tratta delle avanguardie di un processo di massiccia automazione, in cui i posti di lavoro qualificato saranno (come ora) pochi e quelli di lavoro dequalificato saranno (diversamente da ora) scarsi. Molto discutibili le soluzioni proposte.

L’altra citazione, in realtà, è ripresa da Feynman:

Seldom has anyone explained what science is – and is not – as simply and well as Richard Feynman did in his 1974 commencement address to the students of Caltech. science, he said on that occasion, is nothing more than a method developed over the years for separating ideas that work from ideas that don’t. Anyone who observes the same natural phenomena day after day, such as the ebb and flow of the tides or the barking of dogs in a village street, will begin to develop ideas about them. Try and see. There’s nothing scientific about having ideas. Everyone does that. Science, said Feynman, begins when somebody figures out a way to test an idea to see if it works or not. [p. 317]