One Theory to Fool Them All

I’m glad for a post I can follow over on Unlearning Economics. I’m not formally trained in economics by any means, but I’m passionate about the subject in general. I have spent many, many hours listening to talks, reading books (Moshe Adler for one) and spend many hours in thought, deducing what I can. I understand the basic subject matter. It’s just the academic jargon that trips me up once in a while, but it is an excellent blog. (Another is IDOA)

Given the fact that I am a self-proclaimed layperson on the subject, it’s very disturbing to me to see the kind of cognitive short-cuts and presumptions that are being made by people who are supposed to be much smarter than I am. It seems very obvious to me that some have become too immersed in the rhetoric of our economic systems to see that they’ve made very specious and dangerous assumptions. This post seems to highlight one of many; Basically that economists presume and are largely focused on one, unifying theory of markets to the exclusion of considering that it may not be possible. Several sensible objections are given.

As for my own thoughts on it, I think there is a disconnect. When I try to call it out the problems with economic thought myself, it seems like it triggers a strawmen misrepresentation in their minds of an overly emotional simpleton who is just grossly naive, but I won’t let it stop me here.

What I would say is that they have lost track of what money and economies are supposed to represent, and what they are supposed to do for us. In fact the thought of them even doing something for us (99%) has become an absurd and blasphemous notion. They are supposed to be secondary concepts; proxies for more practical mechanics and material ends for the good of all, but now we have displaces them with their proxies. This ideas have apparently become worthy of ridicule. It’s obvious to me, that we are now serving markets and wealth for the sake of markets and wealth. This has twisted the discourse on the subject. In fact, the service of markets and wealth has itself become a proxy for “serving the good of all”. How many times have we heard talking heads with anxiously or commandingly barking about “what’s good for the economy”, as justification of harming the public?

They want  there to be a unified theory, because it serves market and monetary ends. It seems to me that the objections mentioned in this article are all centered around the human elements of the story, and that is why they miss it.

It seems to be one of the greatest cognitive weaknesses of the human mind to desire simple prescriptions for complex problems. This is true of his over-arching point. It’s also true in terms of why they made that mistake in the first place. There is, at first, a good point to be made about not clouding logical decision making with emotional biases. However, when you take that notion too far in lusting for that perfect, simple answer, you end up with an anti-sentimental bias and miss the boat altogether the other way.


Posted on January 28, 2013, in Economy and Labour. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow, thanks for the shout-out. FWIW, I get most of my ideas from Jack Saturday.

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