1898. the reduction to pleasure and pain

It is important to bear in mind that Adam Smith was at a cross roads in thinking, between a literary and a newtonian approach to understanding society. The imperative in economics. and much of intellectual life in current times, is toward calculability, which requires assumptions of stability, which is politically conservative. The needs of “big... Continue Reading →

1892. Economics doesn’t know what people want.

The provocation is simple: economics doesn’t know what people want. Some related thoughts. (probabaly too long, the smokey hot weekend made thinking go lazy) Adam Smith was a little like Einstein: a personality and perspective so powerful that we don’t see much else, before or after. Though in Smith’s case, the immediate next generations of people... Continue Reading →

1886. Growth drives inequality

Provocation # 99.Growth increases inequality.Growth is considered essential by most economists. Why? Growth tends to create more climate warming. Growth is necessary to pay the interest on debt. Many people earn their income through growth (brokers of all kinds, banks, etc).Growth also incentivizes investment in automation (robots, algorithms).But there is a deeper problem: growth, while... Continue Reading →

1865. The deeper cultures of “economy”.

Provocation # 90 Aristotle, as most economists know, used an existing greek word economy from oiko=house = nomos=rules… By it he and other Greeks meant estate management which we know both by the way the word was used and by the surrounding society which was organized in what we today would see as cattle ranches.... Continue Reading →

1833. Should economics discuss politics?

Provocation #79. When Clinton said "aren't you all better off than eight years ago?", she was ignoring the data that says 85% of the population are worse off. She and her supporters were blinded by The economic analysis which ignored those on the margin or outside the benefits of the economy . Too many of... Continue Reading →


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