Politics, Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico- Economic Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes

Politics, Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico- Economic Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes

Politics, Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico- Economic Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes

Politics, Economics, and Welfare: Planning and Politico- Economic Systems Resolved into Basic Social Processes

Excerpt

It is a pity that the term "political economy" can hardly be used today without conjuring up the ghosts of Smith, Ricardo, and the Mills--not to say Thomas Gradgrind and Josiah Bounderby. For the first set of names suggests something respectable but oldfashioned; the second set, something not only old-fashioned but detestable.

Even though modern economies are quite different from the economy so flatteringly depicted by the classical economists and so bitterly by Dickens and Marx, it is a fact as plain as Gradgrind's naïveté or Bounderby's humbug that economic life in the real world today constitutes a political economy. The buzzing confusion around us is unmistakably the household noise of a society in which economics is married, if only at common law, to politics. Yet in formal theory today, politics and economics are frequently regarded as distant cousins not quite on speaking terms.

In this book the authors have sought to incorporate certain aspects of politics and economics into a single consistent body of theory. Behind much political and economic theory lies the implicit, sometimes explicit, question: What are the conditions under which numerous individuals can maximize the attainment of their goals through the use of social mechanisms? That question, specifically directed to politico-economic processes, is the focus of this study.

If at first blush it appears that the question turns the inquiry into ethics rather than science, such is nevertheless not the case; what we have done is simply to postulate the goals to be maximized. Hence this is not a treatise on ethics, but, in intention at least, a scientific work in the sense that most of our propositions are meant to be testable by a logical use of empirical evidence. The task of casting politico-economic theory into genuinely testable propositions is, however, a formidable one; and we have no illusions that this volume represents more than a beginning.

The attempt to collaborate on a book of this kind grew out of . . .

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