2.2.1 Economics. Just opinons?


Public opinion about economists is not favourable. No scientific proof is needed to show that, although it exists, see Economics for the masses.

Everybody would spontaneously say that this is due to the fact, that their predictions are almost always wrong, their theories contradicting, that they were abused and let themselves abuse by politicians, that they only serve to confirm a certain ideology and so on. That sounds very logical, but the situation of religion is the same, but there are always many people who are absolutely sure that their religion is the right one.

We can, therefore, draw a positive conclusion. People expect that economy should be understood, that it is nothing one just have to believe in, as people believe in some God or another, without any reason. Most of the people expect that economics should be logical.

If economists succeeded in the last 200 years to destroy every belief in eternal truths, they did a good job. That was of course not their intention, but sometimes a goal is obtained without being sought.

Nevertheless, the destruction of any kind of truth is not already accomplished; there is still a lot of work to be done. If we read a bit of the comment spread all over the internet, we can see that there are a lot of people who already believe something, and that is dangerous. Never in history people had been killed because something was questioned, but hundred of millions of people have been killed and murdered by the possessors of the truth.

The situation is somehow strange, because for both, the public and economists, physics is the methodological paradigm. The first one deny that economics is a science because the methods of physics can't be applied and the outcome of economic thinking is not as stable as natural laws. Also, the economists want to present themselves as a "true" law, although it is obvious that the economists put the standard that they cannot meet.

If economics, by the way, were a "true science", a democratic decision making process could be reduced to something very simple. Most of the controversial topics could be resolved without a democratic decision making process.

There are of course thousand of surveys about the economic knowledge of people, see one example here, What American Teens & Adults Know About Economics. There is actually no need for this kind of studies. Everybody knows, that worldwide the knowledge about economics is near to zero.

The opinion of the people depend much more on their personal interests or what they believe to be their personal interests, their general ethical-social value system, religious beliefs or life experience, but has little to do with rational thinking.

That's why a discussion about people dominates political debates. An obvious example for that is the monthly ranking of the best politicians in Germany. It is completely unclear how people make their choice. Logical would be that people select the politicians who have a clear strategy for resolving certain problems. In this case, it would be much more significant if people were asked directly which means they believe to be best suited for resolving a certain problem.

A good question would be for instance this one.

Due to the changes in the age structure of the population, the pension system won't work in the future. How do you think that this problem could be resolved best?

1) By promoting private saving in general so that people can live from their capital stock in the future?
2) By promoting home ownership so that people in the future don't have to pay rent?

Alternatively, another good question would be this one.

After Fukushima, the atomic energy is not considered secure anymore, and alternatives are needed.

1) Do you think that Germany should rely more on coal-fired plants and give up the aim to reduce the CO2 emission? The next generation has to resolve the problems.

2) Do you think that the government should take more debts and construct more wind turbine? The future generations would inherit more debts, but more assets as well.

However, actually in ratings like the mentioned above people are asked if they think that the Minister of Economics is a nice person. That's not the point. The question is whether the means taken make sense or not.

It is to suppose that the personalisation of politics is due to the fact, that people feel completely overstrained and they are not able to evaluate the politics. They look for someone they can "trust", for any reason and who will resolve the problems.

This can lead to a situation where "charismatic" figures get a lot of power, with the well known fatal consequences.

The situation is really strange. Economics is the last subjects which moved away from philosophy and became a subject of study only 250 years ago and only since 100 years it is an academic subject. Until nowadays economics is not taught in school. We can read everywhere that history is relevant because people have to know "where they come from" and things like that.

The author would say, that it is much more important that people know how the economy they depend on works. It is unclear, whether we can learn something through the study of history and how it should be taught in order to be meaningful. However, it is very clear that we should understand why there are bubbles on the stock markets and what happens if they crash.

We have therefore an indifference on the part of the public educational system towards economic issues, a personalisation of the public debate by the mass media and a public which is overtaxed. Not really a good constellation for a democratic decision making.

What can be done and should be done to change the situation has been described in the previous chapters.

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Tendencies like the ordoliberalism, neoliberalism or the autrian school have been eliminated from the academic curricula, something that it not really a big problem, because the basic assumptions are already included in the works of Adam Smith.

A little problem could be the fact that all relationships between the world of politics and economics have been eliminated as well. Politics doesn't play any role in economic thinking.

What remained and what we see in modern textbooks is the idea that the economy is kind of a machine that works following certain economic laws and that can be controlled by adjusting certain parameters if needed.

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