Nation of Beancounters

Economics is having a crisis of vision, thank God

Posted in Uncategorized by Navin Kumar on November 7, 2011

People have been complaining that economics has a been having a crisis of vision for over half a century now and they’re still at it:

It took extensive government action to prevent another Great Depression, while the enormous rewards received by bankers at the heart of the meltdown have led many to ask whether unfettered capitalism produced an equitable distribution of wealth. We clearly need a new, alternative vision of capitalism. But thanks to decades of academic training in the “dentistry” approach to economics, today’s Keynes or Friedman is nowhere to be found.

Another downside to the “dentistry” approach to economics is that important pieces of human experience can easily fall from sight. The government does not cut an abstract entity called “government spending” but numerous spending programs, from veterans’ benefits and homeland security to Medicare and Medicaid. To refuse to discuss ideas such as types of capitalism deprives us of language with which to think about these problems. It makes it easier to stop thinking about what the economic system is for and in whose interests it is working.

And a good thing, in my opinion. Visions become all-encompassing. It has to be, in order to drive people into adopting it. People don’t want politicians or experts who aren’t sure about how the world works. But we’ve seen too many “big ideas”  crash and fail, hurting millions. I’m hoping the new technocracy will prevent something like that from happening to us.

We’re going to lift people from poverty, cure disease, educate everyone and make the world a better place in a million different ways with thousands of experiments, many of which we expect will fail.

If that’s a crisis of vision, you really need to broaden your idea of vision beyond “what kind of idealized economic system to live under”.


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