Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Good topic.

I think it's foolish for a newspaper like the IHT to try to make a case about economic thought in France by using high-school and introductory textbooks, just as it would be foolish to do so in America, or in Britain, or in Germany, or in Japan, or in any other country.  There's a reason those books are used in high school and college-freshman classes: They're simple.  Introductory courses are there to give students basic ideas about economics -- not to tell them, "This is exactly how the world works."  They learn Classicalist, Keynesian and (sometimes) Monetarist views in introuctory macro.  They learn, in a Classicalist framework, the definitions and graphs of basic cost and revenue curves in micro.

Economics has a great deal to say about racism, sexism, slavery, and these sorts of problems, and that is that they're stupid and (warning: buzzword) inefficient.  If, for example, a small-business owner in America doesn't want to hire blacks, and if this is the norm among all other businesses, then they're going to end up artificially boosting wages for whites (and artificially lowering them for blacks), because everyone is going to be competing for white workers -- thus making racism inefficient (and, therefore, stupid).  If a new small-business owner says, "Hey, I don't care about the color of your skin," and hires blacks who are unemployed, his costs are going to be artificially low, thanks to the racists, because an enormous pool of black workers has been created by the ignorant business owners.

Does it still happen?  I'm sure it does.  But it's a mistake to assume that the field has nothing to say about this and other issues.  It doesn't deny the existence of racism, or deny that racism affects people.  It just says that racism is irrational, economically, as is sexism.

I have to disagree with you on the first quote.  Disagreeing with capitalism and market economics shouldn't imply students turning off at the mention of the word "capitalism".  That, to me, -- and I should preface this by saying that I have no idea if this is a norm or if the teacher (or reporter) is telling the truth -- is a sign of shallow students who are too wrapped up in their own ideologies to think about different perspectives.  (I dealt with classmates like this all the time in sociology.)  It's one thing to disagree.  That's perfectly respectable, and it should be encouraged from students whenever possible, because it makes them think.  But for a teacher to actually avoid using a word, simply because the students don't like it, is ridiculous.

The quotes from Nobel Laureates on the Post-Autistic Economics site tell us a lot about the problem economics is facing: Too much mathematics, and not enough serious discussion and (non-mathematical) theory dealing with real-world problems.  None of the famous books from the big names dealt heavily with mathematics beyond basic concepts that could relatively easily be put into mathematical form.  But if the model is not a mathematical one, these days, it doesn't seem likely to be published in the big journals.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 02:03:41 PM EST

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