Why Aren't Economists as Important as Garbagemen? Essays on the State of Economics

By David Colander | Go to book overview

this policy." "Here is what society will be like without this policy." Their arguments will include all aspects of a policy, including income distribution effects, administrative costs, and political feasibility.


Conclusion

Learning how to play this inside role would change the nature of economic education. Students would learn how to argue, how to write, and how to make contextual, as well as noncontextual, arguments. They would learn how to explain their ideas, how to modify theoretical notions, and how to make them fit into the political and social realities. Similarly, the research economists do would change, and the pure research about the "important" questions would be supplemented by the research about the "unimportant" questions, such as what policy real-world firms or governments should undertake.

Changing the perspective will not make economists more important than garbagemen. Garbagemen are naturally more important than most other groups in society. The change will, however, play a role in increasing economists' direct impact on society, not to the level of lawyers (God help us [society] that should happen), but perhaps to the level of doctors or dentists. Keynes once said, "If some day we could manage to get ourselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid." Changing to an inside perspective would be one small step for humility and competence. Whether that step will make society better off is debatable, but it will make economics a more meaningful profession.


Notes
1.
No value judgments are being made here about what type of role a group should play. Shakespeare may have been right: Society might be better off if lawyers played no role. My point is simply that if lawyers were eliminated, it would have an immediate effect on the economy; if economists were eliminated, it would not.

-28-

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Why Aren't Economists as Important as Garbagemen? Essays on the State of Economics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1- Economists And Policy 17
  • 1- Why Aren't Economists As Important as Garbagemen? 19
  • Notes 28
  • 2- Economics, Institutions, And Methodology 39
  • 3- The Making Of An Economist 41
  • 4: Workmanship, Incentives, And Cynicism 63
  • 5- The Invisible Hand of Truth 81
  • 3- Applications To Macroeconomics 89
  • 6- The Evolution Of Keynesian Economics: From Keynesian to New Classical To New Keynesian 91
  • Notes 100
  • 4- Critics of Economics 113
  • 8- Galbraith and the Theory Of Price Control 115
  • 10- Form and Content In Appraising Recent Economic Developments 139
  • Notes 152
  • Works Cited And Related References 165
  • Index 169
  • About the Author *
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