Provocation #95. Nudging economics toward real wealth
It us getting harder to write on Sunday in a new way something that has not been written about by someone else in the last week. . We have a flood of very good efforts to try to nudge economics towards dealing with the wealth of society for real blood and guts humans rather than as cash management for those who are already rich.
Where is economics in this?
Simply legitimizing the redistribution of wealth from the top, even by a tax policy that would slowly reverse the curve of concentration, would boost morale for the majority – though the elite seem already scared and bunker-minded.
We seem to be stuck on a little boat called economics in the midst of devastating sea change. Its not that we lack a map, its that we lack a destination on it. This makes us more vulnerable if we are treading water in our little boat.
When we talk of “jobs” we are assuming the split between capital and labor, owners and employees. this might make improving the productive human action very difficult.
To show how deep this is, the purpose of economic activity is to meet needs and distribute income. but we think of profit as on the positive side of the ledger but wages we treat as a cost. the implication is it is management’s task to move profit up but to cut costs. Until we break down the capital/labor caste system we might be stuck on efforts to make better work.
“The distance race of learning” is for the swift, brags a silicon valley exec. . the rest are left out, marginalized.
So we are recycling old ideas that, however excellent, failed to divert the tide of commerce, industry, information, energy…
Take for example Ron Stanfield’s Economic Thought and Social Change of 1978
Several recent commentators of the state of the art in contemporary Keynesian economics have referred to the methodological problem of ahistoricity. In a recent examination of the limitations of Keynesian economics, Alan Gruchy places much stress on the failure of Orthodox economists to recognize and integrate into their political economy the changes in the economic system since World War II, Gruchy sites with much approval the Review of Gunner Myerdal that economics is nearsighted and lacks the requisite historical experience and revision to guide the economy beyond the immediate upturn or recession, shortage or surplus, etc. On the other hand, this means that the economics tends to be out of date, fighting the last economic war. On the other hand , it means that economics lacks the long– term perspective necessary and economic planning. Economics is useful in reactive intervention to the immediate problems, to crises already wreaking havoc, but it is weak in forseeing long-term difficulties and trends that are working from historical tendencies. To be of use for long term planning, economics would have to view economic processes from an evolutionary and developmental perspective.
Chuck Schumer’s “Better Deal”. NYT this Monday morning is an attempt to beak out but it still seems narrowly constrained in a way that lags public opinion. No mention of jobs, only of training for jobs. Exception is the infrastructure Trillion . Lets build roads and bridges made unnecessary by self driving cars. Auto autos.
But can we pay for Schumer’s future? It looks ok now, but what about a year or so from now? My view is that ordinary people are concerned about climate and automation and war but Schumer stays in the virtual reality of policy without engaging enough in the reality of plight.