Please enjoy these thoughts.
One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile. Think of the complete panic China’s rulers feel about any breaks in their Internet firewall: The more successfully external sources of information have been excluded to date, the more unpredictable the effects of a breach become. Internal criticism is then especially problematic, because it threatens the hermetic seal. It’s not just that any particular criticism might have to be taken seriously coming from a fellow conservative. Rather, it’s that anything that breaks down the tacit equivalence between “critic of conservatives and “wicked liberal smear artist” undermines the effectiveness of the entire information filter…
…A more intellectually secure conservatism would welcome this, because it wouldn’t need to define itself primarily in terms of its rejection of an alien enemy.
Julian Sanchez, 2010.
Exchange with Friend
Friend: Sometimes I fell like I am going to end up sharing the same fate as Willy Wonka
Me: Lol. Like owning a ridiculous candy factory? Or owning a glass elevator in the sky?
Friend: I was going towards living alone in a factory full of inventions and gadgets, but I could see it going any of those ways
Friend: Two different men sharing the same fate. The irony
“What your economics teacher doesn’t understand”
A lot of people glance at the word “economics” and are immediately turned off by the subject. Granted, labeling the field a “dismal science” doesn’t do much in way of marketing the discipline positively.
Ironically, the study of economics, as well as its near-scientific application to the management of nations and their resources — the United States paving the way in this respect — is the very reason we enjoy our lavish standards of living.
Widespread adoption of automobiles, mass-production of high-quality clothing and the saturation of “smart” phones are incredible feats of human endeavor. While technological ability make these products possible on a relatively marginal level, the extent of their creation and distribution would not be fundamentally possible without the implementation of modern economics and its ability to efficiently allocate resources throughout a system of production.
Modern economics is precisely the reason we’ve seen exponential growth in human advancements in the last 250 years, as opposed to preceding millennia of relative mediocrity. It has brought billions of people out of poverty and given humans things we had only dreamt of, and even many we couldn’t.
It’s also the reason that, while finance will be my degree that pays the bills, economics was chosen as my secondary major, as opposed to the fine score-keeping ability of accounting.
That being said, the vast majority of teachers, practitioners and observers miss the forest for the trees when it comes to economics. That is, economics is only a means to an end, not an end in itself.
The use of economics is meant for exactly what I’ve previously described: to illustrate efficient ways to organize resources in order to make lives better. The key phrase in that sentence being, “in order to make lives better.”
This whole notion of sanctifying “free markets” as if their mere existence was the purpose of their creation (as if truly “free markets” even existed) is completely absurd. It’s absolutely ridiculous this ideology is bought into and perpetuated by the populace.
Economics exists to serve the people, not to serve itself. Further, it exists to serve the broadest reach of people it possibly can, not the relatively few who comprise ownership of “capital,” roughly 30 percent of the production function.
You should view people who promote the end-goal sanctity of “free markets” as either poor chaps who don’t see the bigger picture, or people simply trying to keep the tables of production tilted in their favor. Please try not to stoop to viewing these statements through political lenses, as these are simply realities of the situation.
The dehumanizing of economics is one of the prime reasons we’re experiencing so many of the problems of late. When you misalign your system of production and wealth creation away from the bulk of society, you get lopsided, unsustainable largess and pissed-off masses.
In terms of economics of financial markets, this is very visible in Greece. While it’s probably true Greece should never have entered the EU and its government spent beyond its means, the people who made loans to this country were making investments. Investments only pay rewards because risk is involved, and just to clear up any confusion, risk means there is a possibility that you will lose your money.
Currently, the EU, Germany in particular, is imperiling the generational livelihood of an entire country of people so that investors may receive 45 cents on the dollar for their poorly chosen gambles. Greece is now embarking on its fourth year of economic contraction due to restrictions placed on its economy. Thousands of people are being laid off and rioting in the streets as “bailouts” are passed to pay off bondholders at the expense of further indebting the country.
One would think after Germany’s experience with draconian World War I reparations, and the subsequent economic travails of the Weimar Republic and the ultimate rise of Hitler, that Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel would be more reticent towards imposing similar financial evils on Greece.
While throwing Hitler’s name into a conversation is typically unwarranted extremism, it would only take one Greek politician to rise up and gain the popularity of the people by promising freedom from these injustices.
In short, we need to put the well-being of humans back into economics. Economics exists to make us better off as a whole, not to enjoy some theoretically “pure” existence.
I never understand why Austrian, Hayekian, “free-market” laissez faire economists exist. If your solution is to always do nothing and let markets work it out, then why does your profession even exist?
It’s about the people, stupid.