Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Unreal Deal

Dean Baker: What Was Actually Happening While You Led a Life: "The United States Since 1980"

As much as I despise economics, I'm beginning to think it's the key to understanding what's happening these days. Understand, of course, that economics is not necessarily about money, at least not all of it.

This article is fascinating and/or boring, depending on how you view economics as something real or not. Regardless of your view, it has some important points to make.

Even though you and I know that economics is not real, that it ignores all the really important things in Life, economics is where the people live who "run" this world. When the Bushies talk about the "reality culture," they're talking about those of us who don't buy into economics as the prime mover of the world.

Be that as it may, economics is the prime mover of the part of the world that lies closest to the surface, the world that impacts people directly, like with bullets and bombs and famine and epidemics. These things don't just happen, war doesn't "break out," like rain falling from the sky. Wars and famines and epidemics, to a large part, are caused by human action, within social systems such as governments and religious organizations. They are created on purpose, for a reason, and that reason is most often economics.

This is not about greed, exclusively, although greed plays a part. This is about power (measured in money and influence). This is about status. This is about control. This is about ideology and which ideology wins out in the end (coming soon to an Apocalypse near you).

So economists are the gurus these days, manipulating vast universes of data chasing around the globe twenty-four hours a day, conjuring up money from coursing electrons and febrile tangles of wires and transistors.

Economists on the one hand, militarists on the other, feeding each other in a frenzy that leads, ultimately, to economic collapse, the premature deaths of millions of humans, the destruction of the natural world (if there's any left).

Bring 'em on, I say. Let's get it over and done with, so we can all settle back into a steady state society, live as the animals we all are, and forget about all this frenzied progress, if that's what it is.

Time to turn around and take a giant step forward.

1 comment:

  1. Jack Burns8:07 AM

    I began to sense back in the '70's a shift from liberal arts educations to more business, economics oriented educations. As the world became more enamored with globalization, growth and technology, it seemed to become less concerned with poetry, biology and history.

    And as we entered the year 2000, we found ourselves in a bizarre, Blackberried world completely obsessed with money and profit.

    Thirty-five years ago, business accounted for 13.6 percent of the nation's bachelor's degrees. By 2002, that number was just under 22 percent, and by now, I bet it's over 30%. So, more than a quarter of all American bachelor's degrees are in business.

    That doesn't include economics. I bet when you add that, it's well over 50%.

    In 2005, The Wall Street Journal published a story that basically stated the major du jour for undergrads was economics. Some schools are publishing statistics that show the numbers of economics majors doubling, even tripling.

    In the same period, students seeking liberal arts educations dropped dramatically. English accounted for almost 8% of degrees in 1971, but sunk to 4% by 2002; history had 5% "back in the day, "but now only represents 2%. Foreign language degrees have also shrunk considerably.

    So, this is the state of the state. Obsession with money. Poorly educated young people incapable of making changes and for two reasons. One, all of the things you've mentioned. The economists that rule the world, and two, poorly educated young people being able to grasp or comprehend what's happening. They don't care. They're trying to further the cause of the powers-that-be.

    ReplyDelete