The Real Problem With Economics
The last few years have seen a substantial increase in public interest about economics- from honest attempts to understand and compare various belief systems which underlie different schools of economics to attempts at justifying pre-existing biases and prejudices through name dropping and sophistic arguments. However all attempts to understand and use economic theories or ideas suffer from a number of fundamental problems (rational actor, utility maximization etc), but none is as serious as the one fundamental assumption which every brand, version and school of economics makes.
Economics is based on the very peculiar idea that a shared illusion of money is more important than human life itself.
Did you catch that? Economics assumes that abstract numbers in a spreadsheet are worth more than the lives, happiness and continued survival of billions of human beings- who incidentally are the only reason economics exist in the first place. Apparently, economics is more concerned about whether a complex system functions in a particular manner than it exists in the first place. Let me illustrate the bizarreness of this worldview by applying it other complex systems.
Would you believe an ideology that told you that having some form of cancer was a sign of health and youth? While there is no doubt that the rate of new cell formation in an adult with cancer is equal to or greater than a rapidly growing child, most people would not see the growth of cancerous cells as physiological. However an eCONomist on the payroll of the rich (cancerous growths) would gladly invent arguments to justify the accumulation of wealth by his masters even if that process was starving and destroying the rest of society (body). Such an eCONomist might even recommend austerity (starvation and bloodletting) to treat the disease (cancer) rather than exterminate the cause of the disease (the cancerous cells) because his lifestyle and short-term survival is dependent on the continued existence of those cancerous growths. The same eCONomist might also recommend sacrificing functional organs and tissues to feed the cancerous tumors by labeling it “creative destruction” and “signs of a healthy market eCONomy”. He would then justify the suffering of the excruciating pain, intense suffering and slow death caused by the disease and his intentionally misleading advice as an inevitability.
You might wonder- How can anybody get away with such atrociously dishonest behavior? Surely people are not that stupid and gullible? or are they? Well.. I prefer to see people falling for such crap as another example of the harm caused by religious-type beliefs. Human history is full of conflicts, wars and genocides perpetrated by people fighting over whose “god” was the one “true” god. They did so inspite of the fact that their “gods” were incapable of mundane things such as providing them enough food, protecting their kids from infectious diseases or even upgrading their horrendous living conditions.
Economics is like a religion obsessed with getting the approval of an invisible and impotent entity. You cannot rationalize with people who see and hear things (or pretend to do so) to justify their stupidity, cruelty and callousness. The best way to “reform” any religion is to eliminate its true believers and priests down to their last offspring. You might see such actions as inhumane, but can those who fail to see and treat other people as human beings be still classified as human?
What do you think? Comments?