This paper contrasts the static neoclassical and the evolutionary views of the economy and economic policy. It responds to Ng's comments on Lipsey's original criticism of third-best theory. Under a relevant definition of informational poverty and Ng's other assumptions, the expected value of any policy-created divergence from the status quo is negative: If there is not enough known to determine what to do, nothing should be done, rather than establishing first-best conditions as Ng's analysis has it. It is argued that Ng's analysis of his two other information states adds little to what common sense suggests. To address Ng's argument that policies using context-specific objective functions lack the required welfare basis, the paper studies how economic policy is actually pursued absent guides provided by welfare economics. Policies that follow from evolutionary economic theory imply that what are seen as 'distortions' in welfare economics are actually desirable forces that drive economic growth.
Forthcoming in Special Issue: Second and third Best theories:Criticisms and Applications, Pacific Economic Review, 22(2)
Pacific Economic Review
Economic Policy with and Without Maximizing Rules
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