The visible hand in economics

Posting trouble

Posted on: August 25, 2008

Hi all, For some reason I can’t post anything particularly long at the moment – as the site doesn’t like me.

As a result, none of the ideas I have for posts can be satisfactorily placed on the site. I can still comment though – its just taking a while.

If you want you can comment on this in the comments section of the post (ht Marginal Revolution, Econlog). I will try to get some posts up tonight.


20 Responses to "Posting trouble"

I have two quick issues with these guys. 1) what does neoclassical mean to them, other than “things we don’t like”, and can they all argue on what it means. 2) may be they should consider that the reason they are ignored is that they just haven’t come up with the goods.

But then I’m just one of those horrible mainstream types.

“But then I’m just one of those horrible mainstream types.”

Same 😛

They seem to criticise what they think economists believe – rather then trying to actually discuss the discipline. They put up a straw man and beat it up – its just trash.

The first part of the article “if I persisted in this line of research my academic career at UBC would be ‘nasty, brutish and short,’” reminded me that I read the same sort of thing in Shovelling Fuel for a Runaway Train

I studied ecology and biology a long time ago and markets work by the same process. It seems conceivable that one day economics will be a branch of ecology.

“Listening to Lee was making me realize that there is a time-honored tradition in economics of avoiding questions about who gets the wealth, who benefits and who loses with different economic policies”

Eg the population growth of the last two decades. My guess is that the benefits are hour glassed (but I could be wrong). Years ago poorer NZ’rs (retirees) could move to a bach by the sea (anywhere). This is the mouse in the room.

I wonder if economists only recognise one type of person: the consumer. In reality we are a species of animal. I remember years ago traveling off road in Baha; I felt that I had stepped out of the world and that a great weight had lifted off my shoulders. I wanted to get out of the 4×4 and run in the desert heat.

“It seems conceivable that one day economics will be a branch of ecology”

Interesting. I find that most disciplines believe that other disciplines are a subset of their own discipline – we say the same thing in economics. I think there is a lot more in common between the different natural and social sciences then many realise.

“I wonder if economists only recognise one type of person: the consumer”

Like I have said before, the job of the economist is to say what happens to wealth etc – it is not to make value judgments on where the wealth should go, or what outcome is best.

The blog I linked to consistently misses that point – and confuses the value judgments of a few economists over the 70s and 80s with what the discipline is about.

When I tutor I tell my 1st year students in the first tutorial – economics is descriptive, not prescriptive. It gives us a lens with which to view and try to understand the world – but it does not tell us how the world SHOULD work. That question can only be answered when we place values on different things ourselves.

[…] an article we have linked to here, there are people that feel economists ignore the concept that our natural resources are limited […]


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Good post. Thank you!

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