Seduktivnost ekonomističnega simplicizma oziroma Kako postati ekonomistični junkie po prvem letniku ekonomije

Spodaj je teaser, da se odločite, da preberete knjigo Jamesa Kwaka “Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality“, o kateri sem pisal v soboto v Ekonomizem in napačno poučevanje ekonomije.

(Mimogrede, James Kwak je skupaj s Simonom Johnsonom soavtor knjige “13 Bankers“, ene prvih knjig o tem, kako je finančna industrija ugrabila Clintonovo administracijo v svojem pohodu k deregulaciji in kasnejšemu bankrotu).

As Paul Samuelson wrote in his influential textbook, “John D. Rockefeller’s dog may receive the milk that a poor child needs to avoid rickets. Why? Because supply and demand are working badly? No. Because they are doing what they are designed to do, putting goods in the hands of those who can pay the most.” This is true all the time; price gouging during a hurricane only makes it more evident.

The lesson of John D. Rockefeller’s dog is that the competitive market model is blissfully unconcerned with inequality. Or, more to the point, if inequality results from the workings of competitive markets, then it must be for the best. The magic of the model is that it takes a phenomenon that most people accept but have misgivings about—rich people get more and better stuff than poor people—and transforms it into a crucial driving factor behind overall prosperity. Inequality is not merely something we have to live with; it is a central reason why we live in the best of all possible worlds. This is why Economics 101 has become the preferred conceptual vocabulary for people who defend and even celebrate the high levels of inequality in the rich world today.

If introductory economics were merely propaganda for the economic elite, its influence would be limited. The key insights of the competitive market model, however, are deeply seductive to many people who become privy to its secrets. This elegant framework promises to explain virtually all social phenomena with a handful of diagrams; in addition, it appeals to the know-it-all contrarian in many of us, eager to explain why she is right and everyone else is wrong. Learn how to manipulate the concepts of supply and demand, and you can master a long list of provocative cocktail party arguments: CEOs of large companies are underpaid, rich people should pay even lower taxes on their investments, Americans don’t pay enough for their health care, and so on.

It’s not hard to win debates by making these simple arguments. It’s a lot easier to make a case in the abstract world of supply and demand curves than it is in the real world of people and institutions. That’s a major reason why economism is so widespread and powerful.

But it’s the real world that we live in, not a textbook. The rest of this book looks at the influence that economism has had on major policy debates that matter to hundreds of millions of people—and the tremendous damage that it has done in the process.

Vir: James Kwak, Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality, 2017

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