Saturday, December 3, 2016

Are Economists to Blame for Economic Stagnation?

A definite "yes" or "no", is not so simple. And any answer, depends on where one's point of reference actually lies. Economists can hardly bear the entire burden of responsibility, given the societal shifts which now affect economic access. One problem in this regard, however, is little societal agreement as to the "legitimacy" of average (non credentialed) individuals who attempt to solve problems in their stead. Meanwhile, regarding the travails of the working class, Dr. David Ruccio recently wrote, in "Why Mainstream Economists are Responsible for Electing Donald Trump":
...mainstream economists, in their zeal to push globalization forward, ignored those problems and concerns. They thus paved the way and deserve a large share of the blame for Trump.
Granted, I've expressed concerns about mainstream economic thought and how it could contribute to populism, in previous posts. Nonetheless, there are dangers in carrying this rationale too far, since it encourages voters all along the political spectrum, to reject more mainstream agendas than actually warrant abandonment. Only stop to consider where broad attacks on neoliberalism can gradually lead, for instance. Hence it's discouraging to find more rational, balanced arguments about globalization such as Dani Rodrik has presented, used as attacks against capitalism and the like. No one gains if useful economic concepts are destroyed, just because it becomes politically possible to do so. Why not look closer instead, to discover where common ground exists between the old and the new.

It may be that little structural progress was made during the Great Recession, because the economist role in developed nations is mostly that of a passive observer. Thankfully, economists are not free to impose top down blanket "solutions" on populations. But that doesn't mean they couldn't begin the process of lending support to populations at a grassroots level. After all, there's a world of difference between decentralized and exploratory local economies, and the kinds of economic planning which caused such widespread harm in the twentieth century.

One public conversation which has yet to even occur at a political level, is of a high tech future which leaves too little room for people to participate. The fact that everyone needs to have a valid role in this economic vision of the future, has been difficult for economists and policy makers alike. No one is prepared, for the fact it's past time to address the reality of our own destinies. When will populations finally get a go ahead from their governments, to begin the discussion? According to Stephen Hawking:
If communities and economies cannot cope with current levels of migration, we must do more to encourage global development, as that is the only way that the migratory millions will be persuaded to seek their future at home.
While some think of migration problems as other's problems, local migration is now increasingly limited in developed nations, due to structural problems with similar causes. The same evolution in economic development, deserves a chance to proceed at home in our own developed nations as well. Interestingly enough, prior to the Great Recession, private industry was already trying to get the message out, that "business as usual" would no longer be able to fulfill the employment roles which many would be workers still hoped for. If it seemed difficult back then to make such an important message heard, even those who speak of structural unemployment today, note how few are willing to approach the subject on these terms.

Economists aren't to blame for the massive structural shifts of our times. And fortunately, they still have a chance to regain their respect in the eyes of the public. After all, there should still be time for everyone to take part in a grassroots effort, to rebuild a better economic future. What sort of work do people wish to participate in? How do those of limited means, wish to build better, more respectful lives among one another? These questions might not be as difficult to answer, as many presently imagine.

No comments:

Post a Comment