Monday, February 20, 2012

In Some Circles, Economics Is Anathema

A pattern I find disturbing is that much of the left, at least in the English-speaking world, regards economics simply as a source of intellectual and moral corruption. Those who take this view make sweeping pronouncements on economic topics, but they pride themselves in not polluting their understanding by consulting economists or reading what economists have written.

Want an example? Check out the Uneconomics initiative and its “exposé” of how banks create money. Who could have imagined: private banks actually create money out of thin air when they make loans, and this creates the potential for economic volatility due to over- and undersupply. These secrets, supposedly covered up by sneaky economists and other elitists, are revealed by radical social critics, and we should be shocked, shocked.

Banking is a system that runs on make-believe and survives on ignorance.

Does it matter that a significant swath of the left thinks that standard stuff in a money and banking course is a great discovery that will shake capitalism to its foundations? And if I complain, am I just defending my own privileges as a so-called expert? Funny, I thought the reason to spend years of my life learning an intellectual speciality was to be able to make a contribution. Sorry about that.


john c. halasz said...

Ah! But if you seize hold of the commanding heights of the credit system, you already a giant step in the movement towards...

Brenda Rosser said...

Who else, could have persuaded a billion people or so to swallow economic rationalism? Certainly not a biologist, nor a mere armchair researcher.

"economic rationalism basically means no more than mainstream economics."
Ian MacFarlane

redscott said...

Based on only one stray comment, I'm not sure you've demonstrated some widespread phenomenon of "the left," so I sense a certain amount of defensiveness. I also think there is a certain value in people outside your field taking a critical look at its foundations and assumptions to see how they actually work. Probably a lot of it is naive and not as informed as it could be, which you rightly call to task. But I appreciate the impulse of generalists to take a look at experts in the silos of their intellectual specialties in order to see how well or badly they connect to the world we live in. Personally I feel we could use more of that, not less.

Barry said...

seconding redscott here, and adding that for every whackadoodle site on the left, there's at least one on the right.

And far more 'serious' politicians on the right are economic fruitcakes.