Provocation 164. Beyond economics.
Economics fails to look at key social phenomena: capitalism, ownership, quality of life, preferences, political power. In the few cases that reach outside to social consequences, the symptoms are discussed by not core consequences.
A few examples: Steve Keen’s revising economic models feels bloodless, absent people, or Stiglitz/ Ocasio-Cortez who raise key issues but do not discus core causes. As if we can fix inequality or climate within the framework of normal econ speak.
Core causes not discussed: capitalism, class structure: A few own the leading edge of society’s innovation, and they hold on to ownership for their own benefit. Society can create innovation and create new wealth but society is organized so only a few really benefit. The rest are asked to put in labor in order o survive , and are now being replaced by automation and algorithms, and are expected to spend their dwindling income on things sold by the few.
Economics does not look at the most important phenomena. There are things we need to be thinking about, does economics encourage, or at least support such thinking, or does it dull us? Is economics so ideologically model bound , sealed away from social phenomena, that it can’t discuss them? Because of this avoidance it also acts as a barrier to inquiry. And society, absent serious economic inquiry. A simple example.a carpenter working on a house here gets a ticket for sliding ing through a stop sign, not having come to a “complete stop.”. The cost is $350. He doesn’t have it. It is almost a week’s pay. Rob the poor to keep taxes low. He loses his license fr failure to pay, can’t show up on the job and immediately is given eviction on his house. The policeman giving the ticket is on a quota incentive system, his salary needs to be paid. Income to the county means keeping taxes on property lower. Isn’t this an aspect of economy we need to understand ?
Highly recommend Roberto Unger’s last lecture of the spring quarter at Harvard Law. He opens to a discussion with the class, gets off to a slow start but very worth the time.
His view includes that we are in a counterrevolutionary period and progressives have no program, having dropped the ball after the New Deal.