Econ-Gate!

A large group of academic economists has publicly given its endorsement to the Occupy Movement under the banner of “occupy economics” or “Econ4”– a “new” economics “4 the people, 4 the planet, 4 the future.” What does this mean?In typical Occupier fashion, the Econ4 Mission Statement is incredibly vague about its intentions. Fortunately, Eric Dennis and I have “discovered” an earlier draft that makes their intentions very clear.

Pillar 1: A level Playing Field

Official Version

Every child ought to have equivalent opportunities for economic advancement. A child’s life chances should not depend upon accidents of birth such as race, gender, or parental income. Access to food, health care, education, and a clean and safe environment are basic human rights. These are not commodities that ought to be allocated on the basis of purchasing power, nor privileges to be bestowed on the basis of political power. A level playing field requires fairness in the distribution of these elements of private and social wealth.

“Leaked” Version

Every child ought to have equivalent opportunities for economic advancement. A child’s life chances should not depend upon accidents of birth such as parental income. Thus, no matter how hard a parent works, he should not be permitted to give his children better food, clothing, shelter, nurturing, or education than any other parent does. Access to health care, education, and a clean and safe environment are basic human rights. We do not know where these things come from–certainly not from those with too much “purchasing power”–but we know we must forcibly redistribute them.

Pillar 2: Resilience

Official Version

A healthy economy is a resilient economy able to withstand unanticipated shocks. To borrow a metaphor from the physical sciences, resilience is the ability to bounce without breaking. We can build resilience into our economy and its infrastructure by following the design principles of diversity and dispersion. The aim is not to maximize “efficiency” at a single point in time, but rather to minimize economic vulnerability over time.

“Leaked” Version

A healthy economy is a resilient economy. We deny that resilience comes from the economic freedom to produce, trade, and adapt as circumstances change. That is so Founding Fathers. Instead, resilience will come from further increasing government control over people’s economic lives. Who should wield the control? Well, obviously, those wise economic planners who have demonstrated their market-savvy and detailed knowledge of industry by having obtained prestigious tenure-track appointments at the finest academic institutions.

Pillar 3: True-Cost Pricing

Official Version

The prices that guide economic decisions in markets and government policies must be based on a full accounting of costs and benefits. When costs such as pollution – or benefits such as care for children and the elderly – are hidden from view, the result is implicit subsidies and taxes that deflect incentives away from the goal of long-run well-being. Costs that are hidden from view can grow over time, as in the case of global warming pollution; and benefits that are hidden from view can erode over time, as in the provision of unpaid labor for care of dependents. A full accounting of costs and benefits does not mean that non-monetary aspects of well-being such as liberty, community, and life expectancy must be translated into dollars and cents. It means that non-market values should not be ignored and thereby effectively valued at zero.

“Leaked” Version

The prices that guide economic decisions in markets and government policies must be based on a full accounting of costs and benefits. When costs such as pollution are hidden from view, the result is evils such as CO2–invisible, odorless, non-reactive pollution. We know CO2 constitutes pollution because we are told so by various academic authors who refuse to release their data and algorithms for independent verification. We know “verification” is only an industry-shill codeword for “planet-rape.” Non-market values should not be ignored and thereby effectively valued at zero. Except non-market values that reflect positively on industry, such as the doubling of human life expectancy that fossil fuels made possible. Then value them at zero.

Pillar 4: Real Democracy

Official Version

An effective economy requires transparency, accountability, and democratic governance. Institutions in the private, non-profit and public sectors alike will serve long-run well-being only if safeguarded from capture by powerful players pursuing their own myopic self-interest. This can be secured only by a democratic distribution of power. A central goal of education, including economics education, must be to equip students for a life of active citizenship.

“Leaked” Version

An effective economy requires transparency, accountability, and democratic governance. Self-interest is bad. And no, we are not pursuing it, because we are not after something evil like money. We only seek (selfless) power over all of human production and trade. Do not suspect us of envying the productive geniuses we week to harness. Our purpose is merely to educate. And a central goal of education, including economics education, must be to equip students for a life of active control over the individuals who are far more productive than they are.

 

(Okay, so maybe this wasn’t their original document–but it is certainly their original intent.)

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6 responses to “Econ-Gate!”

  1. Bonnie Bertrand says:

    The only level playing field is a cemetery.

    Alex, thank you for your analysis; once I recover from the shock of Econ4’s website I know I’ll enjoy re-reading “Econ-Gate!”. All I can see right now is a crazed monster looming up with a giant claw raised, ready to wipe out everything of value. Maybe their site is especially vicious because it’s a final, last-ditch attempt by prehistorics who know they’re loosing. By “prehistorics” I mean BC: Before Conceptualization. Rational man will win………..ahhh, now I can go back and enjoy your article. Rational man WILL win!

  2. John Shepard says:

    Thank you, Alex. Always good!

  3. David says:

    Wow. What an interesting read.
    This should be out there for people to see.

  4. John says:

    At least now we have a list of the most clueless “economists” on the planet.

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  6. Whispering Misty…

    So sorry you will skip the workshop!…