Tuesday, 7 June 2011

More logically challenged economists.

Hard on the heels of the 150 US right wing economists who can’t distinguish between their own personal political views and economics, a group of 52 UK left wing economists and academics have chirped up. The confusion of issues by these 52 individuals is just as bad as in the case of the above 150.

The “52” claim to be concerned about “sustainable growth” and deficit reduction. They don’t say which of the policies they advocate address which of the above two objectives. Anyway they advocate a “green new deal”. Presumably the “green new deal” helps bring about “sustainable growth” – that’s assuming the word “sustainable” is being used in the environmental sense.

Well now, the statement that a “green new deal” will help address problems “sustainable” in the environmental sense is true by definition, isn’t it? It’s a non-statement.

Moreover, why address matters “environmental” and “deficit” in the same letter or article? The two are entirely separate subjects. I.e. had the recession never happened, and we were currently enjoying full employment and no deficit, environmental issues would be just as important. In fact they’d be slightly MORE important because we’d be burning up more of the world’s scarce resources.

As to “targeted industrial policy” (more or less central economic planning), it may well be that the free market’s performance can be improved by having bureaucrats and politicians take major economic decisions (though I doubt it). But this has nothing specifically to do with deficit reduction or the recession. That is, if a bit of “targeted industrial policy” improves things, it will have this beneficial effect recession or no recession – and deficit or no deficit.

Next the 52 want a clamp down on tax avoidance. Same again: nothing specifically do with the recession or the deficit. That is, if it is relatively easy to catch tax avoiders, then fine – let’s go for it. But this will apply, presumably, at full employment.

And finally, the 52 want “real financial reform, job creatiohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifn, "unsqueezing" the incomes of the majority, the empowerment of workers and a better work-life balance.”

That’s so vague it’s hardly worth commenting on. As to “job creation”, who can argue with that? What are the 52 going to advocate next: apple pie and mother’s milk? The $64k question is EXACTLY HOW TO CREATE JOBS!!!! DOH!

The moral is: if you want to learn to think, don’t go to university :)

Afterthought, 21st June 2011. When I wrote the sentence just above about universities failing to teach students to think, I thought that was a joke. But it seems there is evidence to back this point.


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