I studied econ at university. Not that I learnt much from it – most of my understanding of economics comes from reading way outside of the curriculum. I’ll put any articles related to economics below.
My take on economics
Economics is such a politicized subject, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what’s what.
For someone who’s never seriously investigated economics, it can seem overwhelming, or simply boring. But this is because economics is largely taught to us by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. I know I’m basically saying that an entire group of so-called experts are somewhat clueless, but it’s true.
Most economists didn’t see the 2007/8 crisis until we were right in the middle of it. Most economists didn’t see the dot-com bubble either. For that matter, most economists still can’t explain why the housing crisis happened. (Hint, it’s got nothing to do with too little regulation.)
There are two basic reasons that mainstream economists shouldn’t be listened to:
- They think they’re natural scientists. They treat people as though we’re atoms that move in mechanistic ways. They’ve basically taken equations from physics and try to apply them to human action. It’s insulting, and also utterly pointless – since their models are flawed in almost every way imaginable.
- The success or failure of an academic economist depends largely on their political viewpoint. Since the State sponsors a lot of research, funds universities, and directly employs thousands of economists, most of them are more than willing to secure their livelihood by providing ideological cover.
What is ideological cover?
Ideological cover is when a politician wants to do something evil, but needs some kind of a justification. Say he wants to nationalize a company (i.e. steal someone else’s property). These things just seem to go down a lot better if a few economists come out and talk about how great this and that is for the economy.
Like government spending. Didn’t you hear? When the government spends money, it’s good for the economy (shh, don’t ask where it comes from in the first place). And every dollar the government spends is magically multiplied! (Shh, don’t talk about the negative multiplier effect of every taxed dollar.)
Some economists know perfectly well what they’re doing. Most are probably clueless. When in an establishment of “higher” education only one point of view is taught, or a false dichotomy of views, then it’s not difficult to ensure people don’t think outside the box. Don’t believe me? Sit through a macroeconomics lecture.
But real economics is still worth investigating. Not only is understanding the economy vital to making sensible decisions in today’s world (for example, should you treat a house as an investment?), but it is also paramount to any understanding of politics. Politicians love using economic pretexts for every expansion of power imaginable.
Whether it’s the myth of public goods, or the alleged market failure, court economists provide ideological cover for pretty much any government action. Knowing that they’re wrong, and why, is vital if you’re in the least bit interested in understanding the political situation, how we got where we are now, and what the real solutions to the crises are (you won’t hear them on the mainstream media).
As far as I’m concerned, the Austrian School of Economics is by far the most cogent and consistent. It also explains and predicts pretty much every significant bubble in history. Austrian economists warned about the housing bubble years before it popped.
They’re also part of a very small group of people who don’t jump on every crisis bandwagon as an excuse to justify more government power.