Optimality—the Mainstream Economist’s Holy Grail

In discussing the economy and especially economic policy, mainstream economists have been in love with optimality for a century or so. They have built many mathematical models from which they have derived conditions related to optimal tariffs, optimal population, optimal money supply, optimal taxation, optimal subsidies, and so forth. Indeed, for talking about the overall economy, their criterion of efficiency is something called Pareto optimality.
By now, probably thousands of articles have been published in economics journals in which the author constructs an economic model, derives from it the optimality conditions, and concludes by making policy recommendations that prescribe how governmental

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