Provocation 257 June 15 The top is not integrated with society.
Blacks, poor whites, policemen, are all part of the underclass in contemporary society. We probably need elites (for experts, continuity of relationships, continuity of memory on how the system functions). But then how are the educated, who gets educated, how are they moved up, how are they rewarded? The problem for society is that elites are somewhat removed from the real situation, the real trends, in society, and their children, who seem to have enhanced access to elite careers, are often spoiled and smug and not experiencing the real society. The elite group and their networks are like a cloud cover interested in its own cloud dynamics and only interested in what is on the ground to the extent it is accessing resources, stuff in the ground or skills in people, or the wealth of relatively poorer people (via mortgages, credit cards, foreclosures).
Economics and its constituents are mostly people with careers in the cloud dynamics. The cloud of course casts its shadow on the ground. Even progressive economists use the technical vocabulary of classical economics and what they publish seems to be written for those in the cloud, not those real people leading painful drained lives.
This makes it hard to do new economic thinking, because the real factors of economic life (quality of life, poverty, red lining, changing desires) are mostly on the ground and not in the cloud.
The INET seminar with Anwar Shaikh at
is good. The question is how then to apply this critique and make new demands on economics?
Economics mostly works for the elites because what it publishes either directly supports the elite need for growth, is of interest and written for elites, or supports the publications that put a good face on economics as it works for elites.
One result is the lack of direct focus on meeting serious problems. For example:
The role of cancerous growth: population and fossil fuels use have grown together, and now that growth, always to be self limiting, is at an end: either we manage that end, or ir is done to us, by rising temperatures that make an increasing share of the earth uninhabitable (some of it already has) and incapable of growing crops, either because seeds fail at higher temperatures already reached in some places, or there are no people to tend them because the temperatures make living impossible.
If anyone doubts this picture, send me an email
If anyone does not think this is a disaster send me an email