I will start by saying that I am no economist.
However, it is clear to me that economics has a irrefutable tie to government policies, behaviors of large corporations, and the freedom they have to manipulate government policies. Consumer behavior can be measured and in some cases manipulated by both. Consumers are free to choose only what they are offered. Competition exists only when government policy and/or the Corporatists will allow it, and then only within the laws and constraints they enforce, by law or threat of lawsuit.
An economy is not something we merely observe like the weather, it is something that is routinely manipulated by politicians, corporate behaviors and of course resources. From my perspective as one who has been uncorrupted by the halls of academia, I have observed some interesting trends.
1) An ever increasing concern for the welfare of investors/shareholders.
2) A increased, glaring (elephant in the room), lack of concern, for the cost of corporate liabilities that are passed along to the public.
3) More cheap, poor quality goods, that no one really needs, with hard core marketing behind them.
To the extent that economists, withany kind of science to back them up, saw this coming, they are deafening in their silence. For example, warnings of recession have begun to emerge from the pundits, but seemingly after the fact.
Near as I can tell, generally, science gives us some reasonable means to predict the outcome of various experiments. To the extent that economics might qualify as a science, regardless of how complex they claim it to be, I have heard little, that is any more credible, than I would hear from an astrologer or a psychic.
The trends I pointed out earlier are desirable for those who value the welfare of investors over laborers. And since, they also happen to control most of the wealth it should be no surprise that these trends are prevailing over other possibilities.
I have also noted some contrasting trends. Bill Gates, one of the richest dudes on the planet, recently has discussed what he calls “Creative Capitalism”.
“The least needy see the most improvement, and the most needy see the least improvement, especially those that live on less than $1 a day,” Mr Gates warned.
Climate change, meanwhile, had “the biggest impact on those people who have contributed least to its causes”.
Mr Gates, who by some calculations is still the richest man in the world, said the genius of capitalism was that it made self-interest serve the broader interest of society.
However, there was one drawback. “As wealth rises, the financial incentives to help people rises, as they get poorer, it falls,” and the world’s poorest were losing out.
The Red Campaign seeks to work against this trend by taking profits from various product lines and distributing them to the needy. But this is just a token gesture, not an economic trend.
Using intuition alone, I feel a great affinity for the type of Free Market described by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The definition of Free-Markets as envisioned by so-called conservatives has also ignored the liabilities. The Free-Market, described by Robert F Kennedy Jr. in his speech, attacks this misconception directly. If the commons (a wide variety of resources), that are owned by all of us, are to be exploited in any way, then those who benefit, must share the burden of the liabilities in equal measure. In addition, the profits they enjoy, should be fairly distributed to those who are impacted by their efforts to extract and process the resources as a means of compensation.
I don’t see this discussed by any of the candidates. (Maybe with the exception of Edwards, now out of the campaign).
I realize that I am running outside the boundaries of this topic, but it seems as good a time to bring it up as any. And this is a great audience for it as well.
I think we can all see that there are some issues with the way the economy is operating right now. We have politicians who are making all kinds of promises as to how their policies will provide some kind of stimulation to the economy that will result in a more positive outcome for more of us. And yet, we have little to base our opinions on other than what we hear from pundits and the politicians themselves.
So, as skeptics, and people who prefer a scientific approach to one based on tea leaves, how are we to judge what we are told by these people?
I think in the end, it is less an issue with economic science, and more to do with political idealism and it’s influence on economics.