Provocation 147 Economics gives no guidance.
Surprisingly economics, the thinking about the use of resources to meet needs, fails to tell us anything about what resources to which needs. Under climate change pressures we should be shifting our consumption and our production to things that are helpful under new conditions. But economics has no guidance on what we should have been spending for what nor guidance on what to produce now that is truly useful (and attractive).
Why do we use a word like utility for meeting needs and desires? It is so ugly, resonating with basic usefulness such as electricity and water (utilities), but not with delight and taste. “What is the utility of the flowers on the breakfast table?” What conspiracy holds us in thrall to this terrible vocabulary?
Bentham, “Utility is the sum of all pleasures.” Marmalade on my toast? Utility? In whose language?
What economics would be helpful in a time of collapse and what economics would be helpful in a time of rebuilding?