Economics 101

I’m taking this “macro economics” online course at JD this semester. I was kind of excited about being compelled to take it. I’d never taken an economics class before. I’ve been sometimes keenly and sometimes not so keenly interested in the financial news ever since I became a grown-up, and I’ve heard and read all the buzzwords of economics and money for a long time now. I was looking forward to finding out what it is the economists are really talking about when they talk.

I was sort of depressed when I realized that I actually had had a pretty good understanding of what was going on before I took the course. That means that economists really are just guessing when they tell us why things happen.

It’s weird; I majored in psych, which has been until very recently a backward, clannish science, operated by squatters. I never knew that economics–also a social science–is even more backward and clannish. The main difference is that psychologists want to find out what makes people tick, and the economists couldn’t care less.

Anyway, despite everything, I’ll start bringing this around to my actual point, which concerns “efficiency.”

If you don’t believe that efficiency is always a good thing, then you cannot belong to the economists’ club. Efficiency is their God; all the charts and graphs assume that you want to maximize it. You can’t have enough.

Economists forget that people are human. They forget that stuff. If they could chart and graph a company that’s allowed to work its employees twenty four hours per day, they’d be in heaven. Fortunately, though, they can’t, because we the people have a government.

Part of a government’s job is to create inefficiencies. That’s just true. Without a government, corporations would force their workers to work longer—to be more efficient. The government keeps them from doing that.

An over-awe or over-adulation of “efficiency” is dangerous and de-humanizing, but that’s where the economists are coming from.

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