Sunday, 12 September 2010

Why I turned against economics

Throughout the 2000s, until some weeks after the 'credit crunch' crisis around September 2007, I was *extremely* interested in economics.

In fact, for several years I was reading a lot of economics blogs every day without fail (about ten of them?), plus their links.

I had also purchased or borrowed and read several dozen books on economics subjects, including basic textbooks.

In fact, five years ago, if you were to interrupt me at any hour of the day, there would be a reasonable chance that I would be reading economics.

So for a 'layman' I was pretty well-informed on economic matters, and felt positively about the subject.

But after observing the response of the economics profession to the current economic crisis - the mortgage meltdown, the credit crunch - I very quickly turned against economics and almost all economists and now very seldom touch economics; indeed I regard economics as a dangerously dishonest and bogus subject.

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Why did this happen? What made me - quite suddenly - turn-against economics and economists?

Probably the main fact was that I observed that economists were dishonest careerists. Not in any special or distinctive way, but just the normal politically correct way.

I had assumed that economics was a 'tough-minded' subject; that economists would believe their own assumptions and follow where their logic led - but I was wrong about that.

I saw that economists almost instantly trimmed their economic opinions to the prevailing political trends - no, that is too weak: they would reverse their opinions for advantage.

And economists were apparently unaware they were doing all this; because their thinking was so shallow, so un-rooted, so detached from principles and integrity that they had no gut-feelings or instincts to warn them. No basic morality.

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A key event that finished-off economics for me was when Paul Krugman - the most egregious exemplar of all that is rotten about economics, was awarded a solo economics Nobel Prize at the exact moment of this crisis and in a blatant attempt to influence US politics; and when this decision was treated with respect, was defended and supported.

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As a young man I tended to believe that economics was a bogus psuedoscience used rhetorically as an indirect justificiation for prior beliefs.

Through my middle age, I was gradually convinced that this was wrong, and that modern economics was a genuine body of useful scientific knowledge - so I set about learning it.

But now I believe that I was hoodwinked during my middle years, and that (for once!) my youthful instincts were correct.

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If not, then what?

Since I have lost all trust in economists, and since I believe it is hazardous to base policy on a mixture of lots of nonsense and a few platitudes, my feeling is that the discipline of economics should be be broken-up and destroyed.

Economics should be taken from the realms of science and returned to the realms of common sense; because actually economics is not an autonomous science like physics or biology (I mean real physics, and real biology); economics is - properly - subsumed within human activity in general.