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Economics should not be taken seriously

R0b1Billion
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1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Like meteorology, economics is far too complex for us to do much with. Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness. There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline? The problems with economics are too numerous for me to even list... Starting with the fact that the most basic premises we use to measure what is "good" and "bad" in the economic sense don't work at all.

What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off? Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

What else is "good" in economics? Increasing the GDP? We are using more resources and depleting as well as polluting the environment. But that's OK because technology will save us, right? Actually, it isn't right now and it won't in the future. Technological innovations to save the environment are not only ALWAYS inferior to simply reducing consumption, but they always have side-effects and other logistical problems that make them impractical. Just listen to a right-wing talkshow to here some of that reasoning.

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology. They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture. Partisan politics produces no answers, no synthesis. It is the very opposite of synthesis. We continue to disagree with each other because both sides are wrong. Every negative thing Dems and Reps say about each other is true.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Logic_on_rails
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1/3/2014 6:13:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
It is true that many economists are ignorant of externalities when they attempt to quantify things. It is true that the inability to measure utility has led to a false assumption that consumption will lead to an increase in happiness. Adaptation to new goods - a hedonistic treadmill - is precisely the sort of thing that feels empty, feels meaningless.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take economics seriously, or lay the blame at its feet.

Many economists have made wonderful insights. Yes, a great many might ignore many other disciplines, but many do listen to other disciplines. I'd recommend Ross Gittins for some good common sense. Also, empirical evidence has shown that money does assist with happiness. Now, it is true that the gradient is remarkably flat, but there is a small increase as money goes up. That the gradient should be different if we were to spend money wisely and save more is not to deny the gradual gradient that does exist. For instance, studies show that the time spent cleaning the household is the same as in the 1970s... despite better technology and such. The promise then was that we'd reduce the time we spent and get the same result. That didn't happen. We spend the same amount of time now cleaning, yet get better cleanliness. Now, the gains in happiness from a higher standard do not compare to what they would have been had we retained the same quality of cleanliness and spent the new-found time with friends. But, they are gains. Small ones, and perhaps larger if they extend our life-span.

I also think that you're ignoring personal autonomy here. It's true that using cars to get to work faster so that you can earn more only to then convince oneself to 'go to the gym' to lose weight is a cycle that shows how many 'gains' are a false economy - like hot desking; ignorance of externalities. But, at the end of the day, that's a choice people make. Economics driven media might facilitate such a mindset, yet people still have a choice. If you realise such cycles you'll be able to better 'actualise' the benefits that economics does provide.

You're absolutely right that we need a synthesis of knowledge and insights... so why ignore any discipline, especially one like economics? Economics ought to be taken seriously.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
R0b1Billion
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1/3/2014 11:06:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 6:13:10 PM, Logic_on_rails wrote:
It is true that many economists are ignorant of externalities when they attempt to quantify things. It is true that the inability to measure utility has led to a false assumption that consumption will lead to an increase in happiness. Adaptation to new goods - a hedonistic treadmill - is precisely the sort of thing that feels empty, feels meaningless.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take economics seriously, or lay the blame at its feet.

Many economists have made wonderful insights. Yes, a great many might ignore many other disciplines, but many do listen to other disciplines. I'd recommend Ross Gittins for some good common sense. Also, empirical evidence has shown that money does assist with happiness. Now, it is true that the gradient is remarkably flat, but there is a small increase as money goes up. That the gradient should be different if we were to spend money wisely and save more is not to deny the gradual gradient that does exist.

Studies have also shown that money makes us more selfish and mean - http://www.ted.com...

Even if the gradient were J-curved, what difference would it make anyway? If we gave everybody on Earth ten million US dollars, that would simply devalue the dollar instantly - you can't have any more wealth than we already have now anyway. This is because wealth is not an absolute, it is a ratio. Even if you turned God almighty into an economist and gave this entity complete control over the entirety of the world's economy, God couldn't hope to make everybody rich. For starters, all is vanity, and even if God was able to give everybody the physical resources we're asking for it wouldn't make us psychologically "rich." And these physical resources just don't exist and never will. And that's not a function of population growth, either - if we shrunk the population in half, then we wouldn't have the proletariat laborers to keep the wealthy farting through silk.

For instance, studies show that the time spent cleaning the household is the same as in the 1970s... despite better technology and such. The promise then was that we'd reduce the time we spent and get the same result. That didn't happen. We spend the same amount of time now cleaning, yet get better cleanliness. Now, the gains in happiness from a higher standard do not compare to what they would have been had we retained the same quality of cleanliness and spent the new-found time with friends. But, they are gains. Small ones, and perhaps larger if they extend our life-span.

OK let's take your assumption at face-value (I do not want to argue about house cleanliness here). We are looking towards technology for FREEDOM. That's what we want. A life of liesure, free from the burdens of working. But making all these new devices requires more work. The very things we look for to lessen the burden create it in the worst way. Those people in the 1970s didn't have as many jobs to perform, because there were less goods and services to produce. If our homes are cleaner now, it is because we are spending untold amounts of man-hours MORE to produce more in the economy to achieve this end.

I also think that you're ignoring personal autonomy here. It's true that using cars to get to work faster so that you can earn more only to then convince oneself to 'go to the gym' to lose weight is a cycle that shows how many 'gains' are a false economy - like hot desking; ignorance of externalities. But, at the end of the day, that's a choice people make. Economics driven media might facilitate such a mindset, yet people still have a choice. If you realise such cycles you'll be able to better 'actualise' the benefits that economics does provide.

People want freedom. They want to spend less time tied down to their jobs. They'd also like luxuries and tools that will make their lives easier and funner. We can talk about autonomy all you want, but these basic traits don't change from person to person - only the particular flavors (i.e., which luxuries, which tools) change.

Humanity has watched technology progress for thousands of years. As it progressed, we got more civilized, our lives became easier, and our abilities increased. However we are now at a threshold, where the returns provided by technology are diminishing rapidly. But more importantly, the efforts needed to maintain these new technologies are crippling us. Complexity is requiring more specialized labor to maintain it. After all, we didn't need tech support lines to maintain rotary phones. We need to use new substances which are poisoning us and the land, and more energy to maintain them. There are exotic new ways which we are damaging ourselves with these technologies, both directly and indirectly. The cellphone in your pocket is producing microwaves and irradiating your skin while you sit there. The mercury in your energy-saving bulbs above your head is highly toxic. Within a few feet of where you are sitting, there are dozens of harmful chemicals/elements which weren't necessary in times past because of simpler technologies. We are also devouring energy at a much greater rate, shipping these products across the globe and producing externalities of so many different sorts I cannot hope to allude to them all here.

But there's a psychological and social element as well. As we become more highly "skilled," we're becoming less generally useful. Our jobs are requiring more peculiar skill-sets which don't have broad-application. I've spent 15+ years in the workforce and I have taken almost nothing of use that helps me out as soon as I clock out from these jobs. We're becoming less physically social as we mingle more online, and our sense of community is all but nonexistent nowadays.

You're absolutely right that we need a synthesis of knowledge and insights... so why ignore any discipline, especially one like economics? Economics ought to be taken seriously.

Your position is the status quo. 2,000 years ago, a rebel like myself might have made the same arguments against Ptolemaic science, and would have received a similar response. And the dynamic is the same here - there is some use in the general discipline of knowing how to manage resources, but the principles of modern economics are so distorted, so erroneous that we would have to start from scratch again... much as Ptolemy would want to remain interested in the heavens, but throw away his geocentric model of the universe.

Your response was good though, much better than I would have expected from this site.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Logic_on_rails
Posts: 2,445
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1/4/2014 5:12:02 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
For character space I'm just replying in general, not quoting everything. Also, this is late at night, so...

There are 2 ways to view wealth - comparative and absolute wealth. Comparative wealth - how wealthy we are in comparison to others - is necessarily a zero sum game. One of the tragedies you rightly point to is people's focus on 'status goods' ; ie. conspicuous consumption of things designed to make us seem better. You're right about that. But, absolute wealth can be increased. Now, since an increase in absolute wealth correlates - albeit weakly - with happiness, it's possible for our total happiness to increase. Now, I have my doubts about some of this, but let me tell you something that all our trading and development - results of an economic thinking mindset has achieved between 1990 and 2013:

1. Halving of people in extreme poverty
2. One billion people brought out of extreme poverty

That's from a World Bank report conducted recently. One billion people brought out of poverty by new advances. Tell me that that isn't meaningful progress. In another report by World Bank economists David Dollar and Aart Kraay they found globalisers - those who had increased trade as a % of GDP - as seeing the income of the poor rise. Also, more controversially, TNCs offer better working conditions for people. Now, in foreign countries TNCs offer bad working conditions... but they're better than the other conditions on offer. I could go on.

Now, you could argue that that's not 'economics' at work. It's not directly, I agree... like with your other points. Lack of social interaction, needless specialisation - many things are a modern malaise, yes. I lament these things greatly, more than most. Where is the traditional honour system of times past? In a way, you could look at culture from before the 50s as being meaningful... but you're committing the 'golden age' fallacy. Nobody is ever satisfied with their present time... because life is at times unsatisfying. I am the first person to advocate looking to the past - I'm called old-fashioned by many - yet I'm also the first person to advocate the virtues of our age. We have the capacity - thanks to advances in technology and productivity - to do so much more than we could 50 years ago. Now, that we don't do those things is a good question. But as I said before, we have autonomy. We choose to live our lives. That many wallow in decadence and lack prudence is something partially of their own making.

Now, enough monologues; to specifics:

At 1/3/2014 11:06:02 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:

OK let's take your assumption at face-value (I do not want to argue about house cleanliness here). We are looking towards technology for FREEDOM. That's what we want. A life of liesure, free from the burdens of working. But making all these new devices requires more work. The very things we look for to lessen the burden create it in the worst way. Those people in the 1970s didn't have as many jobs to perform, because there were less goods and services to produce. If our homes are cleaner now, it is because we are spending untold amounts of man-hours MORE to produce more in the economy to achieve this end.

I fear you misinterpret me.

I agree - the intention to reduce time spent cleaning is a far nobler one than continually tidier homes. That's not the point. The point is that all else being equal - that horridly questionable caveat - both are beneficial. So, is all else equal? I can't point to many studies, but from what I know, fairly equal. Why? Better technology enables greater productivity. Heavens, I know just how much that sounds like some businessman parroting away, but it's true here. We haven't realised the dream, but we've made some small improvement.

People want freedom. They want to spend less time tied down to their jobs. They'd also like luxuries and tools that will make their lives easier and funner. We can talk about autonomy all you want, but these basic traits don't change from person to person - only the particular flavors (i.e., which luxuries, which tools) change.

Of course they want freedom. The problem is hedonistic adaptation - rising standards, and conspicuous consumption. Gittins once cited show study that showed that if the average household pared back their expenses to near the poverty line they'd have
something like 70 hours free time per adult each week. I can't remember the exact figure, nor whether it accounted for housework or not. That's not the point. The point is that your Medieval peasant could never have imagined that much free time.

On the environment quickly, it's slightly more double-sided than you might at first imagine in terms of globalisation's effect. Perhaps I'll comment some more when I'm not so tired.


Your response was good though, much better than I would have expected from this site.

Thankyou. I hope the 2nd is also up to scratch. The fact is, I'm completely with you on many things. You're right to point out many problems, right to heckle ludicrous 'applications' of economics, especially many 'pro-business' policies. You're right in more ways than many. But I will correct both the shameful and dubious use of 'economics' and those who belittle economics - likely because of the numerous dubious applications. Economics - in it's best form - is something to be taken seriously.
"Tis not in mortals to command success
But we"ll do more, Sempronius, we"ll deserve it
DanT
Posts: 5,693
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1/4/2014 5:58:16 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 11:06:02 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/3/2014 6:13:10 PM, Logic_on_rails wrote:
It is true that many economists are ignorant of externalities when they attempt to quantify things. It is true that the inability to measure utility has led to a false assumption that consumption will lead to an increase in happiness. Adaptation to new goods - a hedonistic treadmill - is precisely the sort of thing that feels empty, feels meaningless.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take economics seriously, or lay the blame at its feet.

Many economists have made wonderful insights. Yes, a great many might ignore many other disciplines, but many do listen to other disciplines. I'd recommend Ross Gittins for some good common sense. Also, empirical evidence has shown that money does assist with happiness. Now, it is true that the gradient is remarkably flat, but there is a small increase as money goes up. That the gradient should be different if we were to spend money wisely and save more is not to deny the gradual gradient that does exist.

Studies have also shown that money makes us more selfish and mean - http://www.ted.com...

TED is not a study, it is an entertainment website.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
DanT
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1/4/2014 6:41:21 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Like meteorology, economics is far too complex for us to do much with.
That entire sentence is inherently false. First off, Meteorologists can use their models to forecast the weather, but the models become inaccurate the further ahead they try to forecast. The more meteorologists learn the more accurate their forecasts get. Just because meteorology is relatively new does not make it a useless field. Without meteorologists we would have no warning of impending hurricanes and tornadoes, and thus would have no time to prepare.

Furthermore, economics is nowhere near as inaccurate as meteorology. Economics is important for many fields. You seem to misunderstand what economics is, as does most of the people I've seen posting in the economics section.

"Economists study the ways a society uses scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They analyze the costs and benefits of distributing and consuming these goods and services. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. Their research might focus on topics such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment.

Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policy in a particular area, such as finance, labor, agriculture, transportation, real estate, environment, natural resources, energy, or health. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise business firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, government agencies, and others. "
http://www2.yk.psu.edu...

Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness.
Economics is nothing like astrology. Astrology is pseudoscientific divination, whereas economics is a social science that studies human behavior in regards to the allocation of resources.
There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline?
Because economists are not controlling the economy. They simply advise firms and policy makers. Furthermore, like many other scientific fields, economists don't always agree; that is why there are many different schools of economic thought. Orthodox schools include; Freshwater schools like the Chicago school that favor a neoclassical approach to economics, and Saltwater schools that favor a Keynesian approach.

Heterodox schools include those with an unorthodox approach to economics, such as the Austrian school, Socialist economics, and so on.

The problems with economics are too numerous for me to even list... Starting with the fact that the most basic premises we use to measure what is "good" and "bad" in the economic sense don't work at all.

Way to keep your points vague.
What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off?
The natural rate of unemployment is 0%, and when the labor market is out of equilibrium it causes labor surpluses (i.e. unemployment), or labor deficits (not enough workers).

What you just described is the broken window fallacy, which ignores opportunity cost. You might create jobs, but they would be unsustainable, and you would be destroying capital in the process.

Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

You really need to take a course in economics. People choose to work more when they gain more utility from working as opposed to the alternative (such as leisure). The utility of working is gaining a wage to pay for things the laborer needs or wants. The wages employers are willing to pay depends on the marginal revenue product of the employee, which depends on the employee's relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities. The marginal revenue product of the capital, such as technological advancements, would go to the owner of the capital not the laborer using it. Increasing technology would not increase wages, because it would not increase the laborer's knowledge, skills, or abilities, instead it would increase the profits of the employer who owns the technology.
What else is "good" in economics? Increasing the GDP? We are using more resources and depleting as well as polluting the environment. But that's OK because technology will save us, right? Actually, it isn't right now and it won't in the future. Technological innovations to save the environment are not only ALWAYS inferior to simply reducing consumption, but they always have side-effects and other logistical problems that make them impractical. Just listen to a right-wing talkshow to here some of that reasoning.

GDP has nothing to do with using up limited resources. GDP is simply the overall consumption of a region; GDP = Consumption + Investments + Government Spending + Exports - Imports. If the short term GDP is higher or lower than the long term GDP, it is considered a bad thing.

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology.
Actually sociology and psychology are social sciences like economics, and there is allot of overlap in these 3 fields.
They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture. Partisan politics produces no answers, no synthesis. It is the very opposite of synthesis. We continue to disagree with each other because both sides are wrong. Every negative thing Dems and Reps say about each other is true.
Just allot of rhetoric, with no actual point. I advise you learn more about a subject before you start ranting about it.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
InVinoVeritas
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1/4/2014 7:02:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off? Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

There are two types of claims that economists make: descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive claims describe the structures and functions of economic systems, empirically or theoretically. Prescriptive claims act as calls for policy-related actions--and this seems to be the sort of claim that you're discussing here. First of all, any prescriptive claim about what the economic system ought to be are ultimately grounded in descriptive claims about what the economic system is. What you are talking about is the economist as a policy-maker, as one who prescribes--but the foundation of economics is centered on descriptions of the workings of the system. Surely, prescriptive claims require philosophical/ideological stances (e.g., "More jobs is good") that go beyond baseline descriptive claims... But in order for any economic policy to take shape, whether it is one we morally oppose or favor, we must have some descriptive, scientific conclusions to build on.

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology. They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture.

No economic model starts off in a "vacuum." Assumptions always have to be made to form the foundation of a functioning model, and new variables are added to more accurately represent reality. If you asked a physicist to measure the velocity of a small marble falling from a tall building, he would likely not consider air resistance; he would say that the resistance is too insignificant to make a big difference in the answer. If he were asked to measure the velocity of a huge beach ball, however, air resistance may come into play! In economics, different situations require different assumptions in order to provide meaningful, accurate results. Behavioral economists often include assumptions in their models that are based on psychology, social economists include assumptions based on sociology, and environmental economists include assumptions based on environmental science and geology. Do not assume that economic models are "ignorant" just because they take on an exclusive set of assumptions!
R0b1Billion
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1/6/2014 1:46:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/4/2014 5:12:02 AM, Logic_on_rails wrote:
For character space I'm just replying in general, not quoting everything. Also, this is late at night, so...

There are 2 ways to view wealth - comparative and absolute wealth. Comparative wealth - how wealthy we are in comparison to others - is necessarily a zero sum game. One of the tragedies you rightly point to is people's focus on 'status goods' ; ie. conspicuous consumption of things designed to make us seem better. You're right about that. But, absolute wealth can be increased. Now, since an increase in absolute wealth correlates - albeit weakly - with happiness, it's possible for our total happiness to increase. Now, I have my doubts about some of this, but let me tell you something that all our trading and development - results of an economic thinking mindset has achieved between 1990 and 2013:

1. Halving of people in extreme poverty
2. One billion people brought out of extreme poverty

That's from a World Bank report conducted recently. One billion people brought out of poverty by new advances. Tell me that that isn't meaningful progress. In another report by World Bank economists David Dollar and Aart Kraay they found globalisers - those who had increased trade as a % of GDP - as seeing the income of the poor rise. Also, more controversially, TNCs offer better working conditions for people. Now, in foreign countries TNCs offer bad working conditions... but they're better than the other conditions on offer. I could go on.

Now, you could argue that that's not 'economics' at work. It's not directly, I agree... like with your other points. Lack of social interaction, needless specialisation - many things are a modern malaise, yes. I lament these things greatly, more than most. Where is the traditional honour system of times past? In a way, you could look at culture from before the 50s as being meaningful... but you're committing the 'golden age' fallacy. Nobody is ever satisfied with their present time... because life is at times unsatisfying. I am the first person to advocate looking to the past - I'm called old-fashioned by many - yet I'm also the first person to advocate the virtues of our age. We have the capacity - thanks to advances in technology and productivity - to do so much more than we could 50 years ago. Now, that we don't do those things is a good question. But as I said before, we have autonomy. We choose to live our lives. That many wallow in decadence and lack prudence is something partially of their own making.

Now, enough monologues; to specifics:

Assuming that our "progress" with the poor is due to economics, we still have lots of economic problems that seem to persist no matter what. Do you honestly see a time in the future where economists are going to "solve" the problems we are currently facing? Economists have had their way for a long time now, yet the debt is spiraling out of control, the rich-poor gap is wider than ever, and individuals are in debt as a way of life more than as the exception. Shouldn't "check into cash" stores be a sign of incredible inequity? When somebody has to take out a loan just to pay small bills like groceries and rent?

At 1/3/2014 11:06:02 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:

OK let's take your assumption at face-value (I do not want to argue about house cleanliness here). We are looking towards technology for FREEDOM. That's what we want. A life of liesure, free from the burdens of working. But making all these new devices requires more work. The very things we look for to lessen the burden create it in the worst way. Those people in the 1970s didn't have as many jobs to perform, because there were less goods and services to produce. If our homes are cleaner now, it is because we are spending untold amounts of man-hours MORE to produce more in the economy to achieve this end.

I fear you misinterpret me.

I agree - the intention to reduce time spent cleaning is a far nobler one than continually tidier homes. That's not the point. The point is that all else being equal - that horridly questionable caveat - both are beneficial. So, is all else equal? I can't point to many studies, but from what I know, fairly equal. Why? Better technology enables greater productivity. Heavens, I know just how much that sounds like some businessman parroting away, but it's true here. We haven't realised the dream, but we've made some small improvement.

People want freedom. They want to spend less time tied down to their jobs. They'd also like luxuries and tools that will make their lives easier and funner. We can talk about autonomy all you want, but these basic traits don't change from person to person - only the particular flavors (i.e., which luxuries, which tools) change.

Of course they want freedom. The problem is hedonistic adaptation - rising standards, and conspicuous consumption. Gittins once cited show study that showed that if the average household pared back their expenses to near the poverty line they'd have
something like 70 hours free time per adult each week. I can't remember the exact figure, nor whether it accounted for housework or not. That's not the point. The point is that your Medieval peasant could never have imagined that much free time.

I agree with that, but working 16 hour days on your land is arguably more free than working 8 hours a day in a sweatshop. In fact one could say it is precisely what our bodies, minds and indeed souls are designed to do.

On the environment quickly, it's slightly more double-sided than you might at first imagine in terms of globalisation's effect. Perhaps I'll comment some more when I'm not so tired.


Your response was good though, much better than I would have expected from this site.

Thankyou. I hope the 2nd is also up to scratch. The fact is, I'm completely with you on many things. You're right to point out many problems, right to heckle ludicrous 'applications' of economics, especially many 'pro-business' policies. You're right in more ways than many. But I will correct both the shameful and dubious use of 'economics' and those who belittle economics - likely because of the numerous dubious applications. Economics - in it's best form - is something to be taken seriously.

I will acquiesce that there is a certain minimum level of, simply the art of managing resources, that must be respected. I guess my beef is just with the way we are using the discipline at the moment, which I dub "Ptolemaic Economics." I am disturbed with the need to always grow businesses/the economy to prosper (even Wal-Mart needs to grow, after all), the notion of increasing jobs (just about all of which nobody really can enjoy doing) and the, yes, hedonistic incentives that keep the whole system going. Work more, buy more. It's easy to just look at each person individually, but at some point we need to make some point at the macro scale, if even just to make the attempt to help reverse the conditioning we are all undergoing to stay on the hampster-wheel. The greatest people who ever lived (Jesus, Ghandi, Muhammad, Plato, etc.) all had one thing in common - rejection of wealth. Are we forever condemned to the prison that wealth builds for us, with only the exceptional 0.000001% of humanity that achieves a Nirvana-like state being able to resist it and "see the light?"
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/6/2014 1:48:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/4/2014 5:58:16 PM, DanT wrote:

TED is not a study, it is an entertainment website.

I think that the particular point I made was made sufficiently well through the site. I wouldn't use it to source a paper in a college course (I would have to cite the study they used directly) but it was quite appropriate for our discussion!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
DanT
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1/6/2014 2:07:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/6/2014 1:48:46 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/4/2014 5:58:16 PM, DanT wrote:

TED is not a study, it is an entertainment website.

I think that the particular point I made was made sufficiently well through the site. I wouldn't use it to source a paper in a college course (I would have to cite the study they used directly) but it was quite appropriate for our discussion!

Other than being unreliable.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
R0b1Billion
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1/6/2014 2:12:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/4/2014 6:41:21 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Like meteorology, economics is far too complex for us to do much with.
That entire sentence is inherently false. First off, Meteorologists can use their models to forecast the weather, but the models become inaccurate the further ahead they try to forecast. The more meteorologists learn the more accurate their forecasts get. Just because meteorology is relatively new does not make it a useless field. Without meteorologists we would have no warning of impending hurricanes and tornadoes, and thus would have no time to prepare.

OK you've got me on the "hurricanes and tornadoes" part. But do tell me, how many hours of people's lives are spent watching meteorological reports, and how much of this time has been used in the way you are describing (to avoid life-threatening storms)? Meteorology is 99.99% entertainment.

Furthermore, economics is nowhere near as inaccurate as meteorology. Economics is important for many fields. You seem to misunderstand what economics is, as does most of the people I've seen posting in the economics section.

"Economists study the ways a society uses scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They analyze the costs and benefits of distributing and consuming these goods and services. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. Their research might focus on topics such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment.

Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policy in a particular area, such as finance, labor, agriculture, transportation, real estate, environment, natural resources, energy, or health. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise business firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, government agencies, and others. "
http://www2.yk.psu.edu...

You'll get no contest from most people with that argument, simply because most people are primarily concerned with procuring the goods and services from the economy. They want to compete in order to get that new car, that big home on the lake, and fill up their homes with as much stuff as possible. Interestingly enough, it's physically impossible to both care about the economy and participate in it the way we do - which is that of extreme waste and inefficiency. Shipping televisions from China, for instance. Sure, they accomplish making them cheaper than we do in the states so we declare that economics has found the most efficient way to produce them. But physics doesn't seem to agree. The amount of energy wasted by burning fossil fuels to transport TVs from China far outweighs the efficiency they achieve in making them cheaper (not to mention the lower wages they pay their workers to achieve it). You see, my physics-challenged friend, fossil fuels are made up of hundreds of millions of years worth of energy that have been saved up like a bank account that we just inherited recently. It's sort of like inheriting a trillion dollars and burning hundred-dollar bills for heat because you find it's more efficient to drive to the bank and withdraw hundos to incinerate instead of chopping down firewood. It isn't until the bank account runs out that you realize how much you are really spending to do it! This is what I mean when I say that economics tramples other disciplines.

Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness.
Economics is nothing like astrology. Astrology is pseudoscientific divination, whereas economics is a social science that studies human behavior in regards to the allocation of resources.

Any analogy, a is like b, can be refuted by saying a is not b. It's not a logical triumph.

There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline?
Because economists are not controlling the economy. They simply advise firms and policy makers. Furthermore, like many other scientific fields, economists don't always agree; that is why there are many different schools of economic thought. Orthodox schools include; Freshwater schools like the Chicago school that favor a neoclassical approach to economics, and Saltwater schools that favor a Keynesian approach.

I disagree on your point that other scientific disciplines lack consistency as does economics. Economics can be contradicted at just about every level, while physics, for instance, is only arguable in its most abstract points. Perhaps it is more fair to compare it to other social sciences, but it is still much more dissonant than, say, psychology or sociology (with the sole exception of Mr. Freud of course lol).

Heterodox schools include those with an unorthodox approach to economics, such as the Austrian school, Socialist economics, and so on.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/6/2014 2:34:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The problems with economics are too numerous for me to even list... Starting with the fact that the most basic premises we use to measure what is "good" and "bad" in the economic sense don't work at all.

Way to keep your points vague.
What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off?
The natural rate of unemployment is 0%, and when the labor market is out of equilibrium it causes labor surpluses (i.e. unemployment), or labor deficits (not enough workers).

What you just described is the broken window fallacy, which ignores opportunity cost. You might create jobs, but they would be unsustainable, and you would be destroying capital in the process.

By consuming more goods and services, we create the jobs we are "enjoying" and because of the zero-sum nature of it we are not creating wealth, we are just dividing the wealth out amongst these positions of employment (inflation). So in essence we are working more for less, which explains why it is so much more common to work multiple jobs now than it was in years past. Sure, we have more things in our house as a result, but a lot of the goods and services we are producing are not actually beneficial. When you add in the complexities created by a higher technical state, we end up working a whole lot more for just a bit more things (I won't even go into the argument about whether these things actually result in real utility). For instance, technical support for newer electronics. Or the vast logistical and administrative arrays we have set up to handle all these products and services. These jobs aren't adding utility, they are simply required to consume the inefficiency that is consuming our economy because of all the stuff we are using! Show me an economist who recognizes that we shouldn't be buying as much stuff! Even if you do, it just proves my point that economics is whacko beyond belief, because of how unorthodox that viewpoint would be. Most politicians and economists are concerned only with growth. Growth needs to be checked, and to an economist, that is the equivalent of saying the world is flat.

Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

You really need to take a course in economics. People choose to work more when they gain more utility from working as opposed to the alternative (such as leisure). The utility of working is gaining a wage to pay for things the laborer needs or wants. The wages employers are willing to pay depends on the marginal revenue product of the employee, which depends on the employee's relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities. The marginal revenue product of the capital, such as technological advancements, would go to the owner of the capital not the laborer using it. Increasing technology would not increase wages, because it would not increase the laborer's knowledge, skills, or abilities, instead it would increase the profits of the employer who owns the technology.

Yes I've taken several college-level courses in Econ, and I understand what the general theories are. These principles work great at maximizing profit for interested parties, but don't work to actually improve the economy as a whole (yes I know they are in theory, but not in practice). They don't take into account externalities like pollution, resource degradation, the psychology of consuming goods and working crap jobs to sustain them, the sociological effects of the economy, or the moral consequences thereof. Economics is an intellectual black hole.

What else is "good" in economics? Increasing the GDP? We are using more resources and depleting as well as polluting the environment. But that's OK because technology will save us, right? Actually, it isn't right now and it won't in the future. Technological innovations to save the environment are not only ALWAYS inferior to simply reducing consumption, but they always have side-effects and other logistical problems that make them impractical. Just listen to a right-wing talkshow to here some of that reasoning.

GDP has nothing to do with using up limited resources. GDP is simply the overall consumption of a region; GDP = Consumption + Investments + Government Spending + Exports - Imports. If the short term GDP is higher or lower than the long term GDP, it is considered a bad thing.

Growth is good! That's all any politician, businessperson, or economist cares about.

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology.
Actually sociology and psychology are social sciences like economics, and there is allot of overlap in these 3 fields.

LOL yes you can manipulate people using psychology to gain a profit!

They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture. Partisan politics produces no answers, no synthesis. It is the very opposite of synthesis. We continue to disagree with each other because both sides are wrong. Every negative thing Dems and Reps say about each other is true.
Just allot of rhetoric, with no actual point. I advise you learn more about a subject before you start ranting about it.

OK I have no problem with ad homs but don't get carried away with them ;)
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/6/2014 2:35:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/6/2014 2:07:19 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/6/2014 1:48:46 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/4/2014 5:58:16 PM, DanT wrote:

TED is not a study, it is an entertainment website.

I think that the particular point I made was made sufficiently well through the site. I wouldn't use it to source a paper in a college course (I would have to cite the study they used directly) but it was quite appropriate for our discussion!

Other than being unreliable.

Do you have a specific concern with the lecture? The study seemed legitimate enough to me...
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
DanT
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1/6/2014 11:08:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/6/2014 2:12:04 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/4/2014 6:41:21 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Like meteorology, economics is far too complex for us to do much with.
That entire sentence is inherently false. First off, Meteorologists can use their models to forecast the weather, but the models become inaccurate the further ahead they try to forecast. The more meteorologists learn the more accurate their forecasts get. Just because meteorology is relatively new does not make it a useless field. Without meteorologists we would have no warning of impending hurricanes and tornadoes, and thus would have no time to prepare.

OK you've got me on the "hurricanes and tornadoes" part. But do tell me, how many hours of people's lives are spent watching meteorological reports, and how much of this time has been used in the way you are describing (to avoid life-threatening storms)? Meteorology is 99.99% entertainment.

News is 99.99% entertainment, because it is based on ratings. That is why you get increasingly violent stories in the news. The weatherman may be a meteorologist, but he is just reporting what a team of meteorologists had concluded to the masses. Actual meteorology is never seen by the masses, because it goes on behind the scenes. A more accurate statement would be that 99.99% of the meteorology we see is entertainment.
Furthermore, economics is nowhere near as inaccurate as meteorology. Economics is important for many fields. You seem to misunderstand what economics is, as does most of the people I've seen posting in the economics section.

"Economists study the ways a society uses scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They analyze the costs and benefits of distributing and consuming these goods and services. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. Their research might focus on topics such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment.

Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policy in a particular area, such as finance, labor, agriculture, transportation, real estate, environment, natural resources, energy, or health. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise business firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, government agencies, and others. "
http://www2.yk.psu.edu...

You'll get no contest from most people with that argument, simply because most people are primarily concerned with procuring the goods and services from the economy. They want to compete in order to get that new car, that big home on the lake, and fill up their homes with as much stuff as possible. Interestingly enough, it's physically impossible to both care about the economy and participate in it the way we do - which is that of extreme waste and inefficiency.
"We" who is "we"? You may be wasteful, but I am not. The point of economics is to eliminate wasteful activities aka deadweight losses.
Shipping televisions from China, for instance. Sure, they accomplish making them cheaper than we do in the states so we declare that economics has found the most efficient way to produce them.
Cost per quality determines the quantity of imported TVs demanded, not simply the cost of producing them.
Economists would argue in favor of free trade due to the benefits of comparative advantage.

But physics doesn't seem to agree. The amount of energy wasted by burning fossil fuels to transport TVs from China far outweighs the efficiency they achieve in making them cheaper (not to mention the lower wages they pay their workers to achieve it).
That is a completely subjective argument, with no solid basis for evaluation; in short, that is an opinion not a fact.

You see, my physics-challenged friend, fossil fuels are made up of hundreds of millions of years worth of energy that have been saved up like a bank account that we just inherited recently. It's sort of like inheriting a trillion dollars and burning hundred-dollar bills for heat because you find it's more efficient to drive to the bank and withdraw hundos to incinerate instead of chopping down firewood. It isn't until the bank account runs out that you realize how much you are really spending to do it! This is what I mean when I say that economics tramples other disciplines.

Economists due take into consideration opportunity cost, and they due evaluate the long term as well as the short term. In fact economists make a clear distinction between long term and short term supply. Fossil fuels are resources, and economics is a social science dealing with the allocation of resources. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, thus economics places a higher value on them.

Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness.
Economics is nothing like astrology. Astrology is pseudoscientific divination, whereas economics is a social science that studies human behavior in regards to the allocation of resources.

Any analogy, a is like b, can be refuted by saying a is not b. It's not a logical triumph.

Economics being a, and Astrology being b, Economics is not like Astrology. I just refuted your argument, again.
There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline?
Because economists are not controlling the economy. They simply advise firms and policy makers. Furthermore, like many other scientific fields, economists don't always agree; that is why there are many different schools of economic thought. Orthodox schools include; Freshwater schools like the Chicago school that favor a neoclassical approach to economics, and Saltwater schools that favor a Keynesian approach.

I disagree on your point that other scientific disciplines lack consistency as does economics. Economics can be contradicted at just about every level, while physics, for instance, is only arguable in its most abstract points. Perhaps it is more fair to compare it to other social sciences, but it is still much more dissonant than, say, psychology or sociology (with the sole exception of Mr. Freud of course lol).

Again, your arguments consist of nothing more than opinions.
Heterodox schools include those with an unorthodox approach to economics, such as the Austrian school, Socialist economics, and so on.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
dtaylor971
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1/7/2014 1:31:31 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Are you serious? I could debate you on this
"I don't know why gays want to marry, I have spent the last 25 years wishing I wasn't allowed to." -Sadolite
R0b1Billion
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1/7/2014 1:04:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/7/2014 1:31:31 AM, dtaylor971 wrote:
Are you serious? I could debate you on this

I'm not big into debating, I would consider it if time limits were relaxed but since DDO isn't willing to do that then screw it. I am an adult with a family, not a teenager who can stay up all night writing arguments. Even with 72 hour rounds I am usually going to end up forfeiting a round somewhere along the way. In the past I've had some very disappointing debates in which we were having a really great debate and then I couldn't fit an argument into the time limit and the whole thing was a waste. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm not going to waste my time risking that again. It's not only very frustrating for me, but also for the people reading the debate who are suddenly stripped of the opportunity to see where it would have ended.

If you have a point to make then make it.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/7/2014 1:33:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/4/2014 7:02:12 PM, InVinoVeritas wrote:
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off? Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

There are two types of claims that economists make: descriptive and prescriptive. Descriptive claims describe the structures and functions of economic systems, empirically or theoretically. Prescriptive claims act as calls for policy-related actions--and this seems to be the sort of claim that you're discussing here. First of all, any prescriptive claim about what the economic system ought to be are ultimately grounded in descriptive claims about what the economic system is. What you are talking about is the economist as a policy-maker, as one who prescribes--but the foundation of economics is centered on descriptions of the workings of the system. Surely, prescriptive claims require philosophical/ideological stances (e.g., "More jobs is good") that go beyond baseline descriptive claims... But in order for any economic policy to take shape, whether it is one we morally oppose or favor, we must have some descriptive, scientific conclusions to build on.

Do we have adequate conclusions to build on? Just because we use the scientific method in economics, doesn't mean we are getting any truth out of it. Garbage in, Garbage out... There is the matter of whether the methods we are using achieve the ends we are seeking, and then there is the matter of whether the ends we are seeking are even desirable in the first place, which sort of ties back into the first problem (i.e., maybe creating more jobs is achieved, but then that causes more strife and hurts the economy even though what we wanted to achieve was a success).

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology. They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture.

No economic model starts off in a "vacuum." Assumptions always have to be made to form the foundation of a functioning model, and new variables are added to more accurately represent reality. If you asked a physicist to measure the velocity of a small marble falling from a tall building, he would likely not consider air resistance; he would say that the resistance is too insignificant to make a big difference in the answer. If he were asked to measure the velocity of a huge beach ball, however, air resistance may come into play! In economics, different situations require different assumptions in order to provide meaningful, accurate results. Behavioral economists often include assumptions in their models that are based on psychology, social economists include assumptions based on sociology, and environmental economists include assumptions based on environmental science and geology. Do not assume that economic models are "ignorant" just because they take on an exclusive set of assumptions!

I don't see how one can meaningfully isolate the different sets of assumptions. An economy cannot be sliced into the parts you are describing. It always contains all the parts, working together intricately. How can an environmental economist neglect sociological effects? In the natural sciences it is quite easy to control the factors that must remain fixed so that you can focus on the variables you are experimenting with. In the other social sciences it is more difficult but at least they can be studied in small sections. Economics encompasses, inherently, literally everything!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,716
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1/7/2014 2:00:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/6/2014 11:08:20 PM, DanT wrote:

News is 99.99% entertainment, because it is based on ratings. That is why you get increasingly violent stories in the news. The weatherman may be a meteorologist, but he is just reporting what a team of meteorologists had concluded to the masses. Actual meteorology is never seen by the masses, because it goes on behind the scenes. A more accurate statement would be that 99.99% of the meteorology we see is entertainment.

Fair enough, I can concede that meteorology has some merit in a short-term sense, in very specific circumstances. Keeping an eye on severe storms certainly has utility... The point remains, however, that forecasts are often wrong - just like economists :)

Furthermore, economics is nowhere near as inaccurate as meteorology. Economics is important for many fields. You seem to misunderstand what economics is, as does most of the people I've seen posting in the economics section.

"Economists study the ways a society uses scarce resources such as land, labor, raw materials, and machinery to produce goods and services. They analyze the costs and benefits of distributing and consuming these goods and services. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends, and develop forecasts. Their research might focus on topics such as energy costs, inflation, interest rates, farm prices, rents, imports, or employment.

Most economists are concerned with practical applications of economic policy in a particular area, such as finance, labor, agriculture, transportation, real estate, environment, natural resources, energy, or health. They use their understanding of economic relationships to advise business firms, insurance companies, banks, securities firms, industry and trade associations, labor unions, government agencies, and others. "
http://www2.yk.psu.edu...

You'll get no contest from most people with that argument, simply because most people are primarily concerned with procuring the goods and services from the economy. They want to compete in order to get that new car, that big home on the lake, and fill up their homes with as much stuff as possible. Interestingly enough, it's physically impossible to both care about the economy and participate in it the way we do - which is that of extreme waste and inefficiency.
"We" who is "we"? You may be wasteful, but I am not. The point of economics is to eliminate wasteful activities aka deadweight losses.

Do you drive a car?

Shipping televisions from China, for instance. Sure, they accomplish making them cheaper than we do in the states so we declare that economics has found the most efficient way to produce them.
Cost per quality determines the quantity of imported TVs demanded, not simply the cost of producing them.
Economists would argue in favor of free trade due to the benefits of comparative advantage.


And comparative advantage ignores many of the most important variables... Like, for instance, sociological and environmental effects.

But physics doesn't seem to agree. The amount of energy wasted by burning fossil fuels to transport TVs from China far outweighs the efficiency they achieve in making them cheaper (not to mention the lower wages they pay their workers to achieve it).
That is a completely subjective argument, with no solid basis for evaluation; in short, that is an opinion not a fact.

You see, my physics-challenged friend, fossil fuels are made up of hundreds of millions of years worth of energy that have been saved up like a bank account that we just inherited recently. It's sort of like inheriting a trillion dollars and burning hundred-dollar bills for heat because you find it's more efficient to drive to the bank and withdraw hundos to incinerate instead of chopping down firewood. It isn't until the bank account runs out that you realize how much you are really spending to do it! This is what I mean when I say that economics tramples other disciplines.

Economists due take into consideration opportunity cost, and they due evaluate the long term as well as the short term. In fact economists make a clear distinction between long term and short term supply. Fossil fuels are resources, and economics is a social science dealing with the allocation of resources. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, thus economics places a higher value on them.

No, it doesn't. The economic estimate of the price of gas is $3-4/gal. In the past it was FAR less, undervaluing it heavily. Some environmental scientists have put the actual price of gas at $20/gal or perhaps far more ($100/gal?), due to the externalities to the environment and yes, the limited nature of the resource. Countries in the Middle East still have under-priced oil because it is more plentiful. Now we can argue about Climate Change and all that, but the point is that economists CANNOT determine what the true cost of oil actually is. It is simply controlled by the public and private sectors based on PROFIT, and profit=/=utility.

Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness.
Economics is nothing like astrology. Astrology is pseudoscientific divination, whereas economics is a social science that studies human behavior in regards to the allocation of resources.

Any analogy, a is like b, can be refuted by saying a is not b. It's not a logical triumph.

Economics being a, and Astrology being b, Economics is not like Astrology. I just refuted your argument, again.

True. You've just annihilated every analogy in the universe. Reducing every discussion down to it's Descartian ends leaves us with our consciousness and the existence of God, and nothing else to talk about lol.

There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline?
Because economists are not controlling the economy. They simply advise firms and policy makers. Furthermore, like many other scientific fields, economists don't always agree; that is why there are many different schools of economic thought. Orthodox schools include; Freshwater schools like the Chicago school that favor a neoclassical approach to economics, and Saltwater schools that favor a Keynesian approach.

I disagree on your point that other scientific disciplines lack consistency as does economics. Economics can be contradicted at just about every level, while physics, for instance, is only arguable in its most abstract points. Perhaps it is more fair to compare it to other social sciences, but it is still much more dissonant than, say, psychology or sociology (with the sole exception of Mr. Freud of course lol).

Again, your arguments consist of nothing more than opinions.

It's an opinion that economists argue with one another?
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
FREEDO
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1/7/2014 11:22:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
+1,000,000 FREEDO points

This is what I keep saying. I've made a few threads exactly like this.
GRAND POOBAH OF DDO

fnord
R0b1Billion
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1/10/2014 4:10:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/7/2014 11:22:31 PM, FREEDO wrote:
+1,000,000 FREEDO points

This is what I keep saying. I've made a few threads exactly like this.

Fight the good fight, sir!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Leanin_on_Slick
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1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/3/2014 1:14:36 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Like meteorology, economics is far too complex for us to do much with. Like astrology, the conclusions we draw from economics are wholly useless to increasing our happiness. There is no progress within the discipline, as noted by the economic problems we continue to face - why wouldn't our economy continue to get better as economists develop the discipline? The problems with economics are too numerous for me to even list... Starting with the fact that the most basic premises we use to measure what is "good" and "bad" in the economic sense don't work at all.

What is "good," economically-speaking? More jobs? Well that's counter-intuitive... does that mean that if I come to your house and mess it up, thereby creating jobs for you to do, that you are better off? Fight Club's phrase "we work jobs that we hate to buy isht we don't need" should be analyzed here. Do we actually WANT more jobs to do? I'd rather have less jobs. If that means less iPads, cars, and other cheap plastic crap then sobeit! 50 years ago we envisioned a society with more technology but LESS WORK TO DO. That has not materialized. Wouldn't it be nice for working-class people to be able to let one spouse stay home to raise the kids instead of using day-care? Why go work a job just to pay somebody else to raise your kids? All these useless gadgets in our home not only make us weaker and less skilled, but also condemn us to more hours of the worst thing in ANY of our lives - work.

What else is "good" in economics? Increasing the GDP? We are using more resources and depleting as well as polluting the environment. But that's OK because technology will save us, right? Actually, it isn't right now and it won't in the future. Technological innovations to save the environment are not only ALWAYS inferior to simply reducing consumption, but they always have side-effects and other logistical problems that make them impractical. Just listen to a right-wing talkshow to here some of that reasoning.

Even if you take such assumptions as true (more jobs, more GDP = good), economics still doesn't really work because of all the externalities that we are impotent to identify. Economists are some of the most ignorant people in the world. They don't understand natural science. They don't understand sociology and psychology. They use formulas in a vacuum and trample other disciplines while they make bone-headed decisions that ruin the environment as well as our culture. Partisan politics produces no answers, no synthesis. It is the very opposite of synthesis. We continue to disagree with each other because both sides are wrong. Every negative thing Dems and Reps say about each other is true.

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do, and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions. There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists? Are economist from out of this world? In fact economists collaborate with the likes of psychologists and sociologists; look into behavioral economics (Incidentally the psychologist Daniel Kahneman added insight to microeconomics) Regardless of who you like best, economists from various stripes from Keynesians to Neo-classics have slowly aided to grow our understanding. Economics is no-where near where chemistry is, but has progressed our knowledge and is far too important for us not to notice.
R0b1Billion
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1/14/2014 3:05:34 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do,: and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions.

Sure there is... turn off the TV (i.e., news, CNN, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) and read a book instead :P

There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all; "the process has been described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall" - Wikipedia. So am I to understand that economics is so fundamental to our lives that it controls our culture as well? Surely this can't be reconciled as a positive influence! As far as Etonia goes, I'm going to need a more specific answer then that before I think about conceding!

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

That doesn't sound very scientific...

What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists?

No. They understand the intricacies of their areas far better than economists do, however. I am denying any merit to the entire field of economics, so I do not have to show that economists do not understand economics. I am only interested in showing that economists, by exercising their discipline, effectively overrule other disciplines by ignoring the principles contained within them.

Are economist from out of this world? In fact economists collaborate with the likes of psychologists and sociologists; look into behavioral economics (Incidentally the psychologist Daniel Kahneman added insight to microeconomics) Regardless of who you like best, economists from various stripes from Keynesians to Neo-classics have slowly aided to grow our understanding. Economics is no-where near where chemistry is, but has progressed our knowledge and is far too important for us not to notice.

It's a good start that they are collaborating with other disciplines, but it is a case of too little, too late. Also, simply choosing one discipline at a time is illogical. I also find the idea of progress questionable, as our economy, at least in this country, is viewed by many to be going down the tubes. Why are our economists so impotent to control the national debt, for instance? In practical terms, we could be considered in a state of retrogression. The most likely answer I will get to explain these problems is economic incompetence by our leaders, but that fact only underscores the overall ambiguity of the field itself. Economics is a social science and a philosophy. However instead of getting the best of both of these worlds, it appears to only exhibit the limitations of both of these categories!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
DanT
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1/15/2014 12:01:06 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/14/2014 3:05:34 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do,: and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions.

Sure there is... turn off the TV (i.e., news, CNN, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) and read a book instead :P

That is not economics, that is TV.
There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all;
Seeing as Rome no longer exists as a sovereign nation, let alone a empire, Rome fell.
"the process has been described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall" - Wikipedia.
Wiki is not a reliable source.
So am I to understand that economics is so fundamental to our lives that it controls our culture as well?
Culture and economics are intertwined.
Surely this can't be reconciled as a positive influence! As far as Etonia goes, I'm going to need a more specific answer then that before I think about conceding!

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

That doesn't sound very scientific...

Correction: it doesn't sound very philosophical... Big difference.
What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists?

No. They understand the intricacies of their areas far better than economists do, however. I am denying any merit to the entire field of economics, so I do not have to show that economists do not understand economics. I am only interested in showing that economists, by exercising their discipline, effectively overrule other disciplines by ignoring the principles contained within them.

Like?
Are economist from out of this world? In fact economists collaborate with the likes of psychologists and sociologists; look into behavioral economics (Incidentally the psychologist Daniel Kahneman added insight to microeconomics) Regardless of who you like best, economists from various stripes from Keynesians to Neo-classics have slowly aided to grow our understanding. Economics is no-where near where chemistry is, but has progressed our knowledge and is far too important for us not to notice.

It's a good start that they are collaborating with other disciplines, but it is a case of too little, too late.
A.) they are not just starting
B.) how would it be too late for an ongoing scientific field to hone their models? Not only are you ignorant to the definition of economics, but you are also ignorant to the definition of science in general.
Also, simply choosing one discipline at a time is illogical. I also find the idea of progress questionable, as our economy, at least in this country, is viewed by many to be going down the tubes. Why are our economists so impotent to control the national debt, for instance?
Economists don't manage the national debt, congress does.
Government spending - taxes = the change in government borrowing + the change in the monetary base.

In practical terms, we could be considered in a state of retrogression. The most likely answer I will get to explain these problems is economic incompetence by our leaders, but that fact only underscores the overall ambiguity of the field itself. Economics is a social science and a philosophy.
However instead of getting the best of both of these worlds, it appears to only exhibit the limitations of both of these categories!
Wrong, it is a social science, not a philosophy.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
Leanin_on_Slick
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1/15/2014 1:53:24 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/14/2014 3:05:34 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do,: and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions.

Sure there is... turn off the TV (i.e., news, CNN, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) and read a book instead :P

Lol however, the very fact that you have a roof over your head, a tv to turn off in the first place, and a book to read is all depended on economics.

There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all; "the process has been described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall" - Wikipedia. So am I to understand that economics is so fundamental to our lives that it controls our culture as well? Surely this can't be reconciled as a positive influence! As far as Etonia goes, I'm going to need a more specific answer then that before I think about conceding!

Whether or not inflation was the main reason Rome fell, or whether Rome fell at all, is really irrelevant to whether or not it was economically healthy for Rome's currency to be rendered virtually useless. You can also look to Venezuela and it's hyperinflation, or inflation's plague to the British Empire.

Estonia, through pro-market policies such as free trade went from a country of 35% unemployment, food shortages, and soaring inflation into an investment hub and a respectable economy.

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

That doesn't sound very scientific...

On the contrary it's quite scientific. The number crunching, models, and theories look to explain economic phenomena, while people put the value judgments on what the conclusions mean and what goals we ought to pursue.

What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists?

No. They understand the intricacies of their areas far better than economists do, however. I am denying any merit to the entire field of economics, so I do not have to show that economists do not understand economics. I am only interested in showing that economists, by exercising their discipline, effectively overrule other disciplines by ignoring the principles contained within them.l

And what principles might those be?

Are economist from out of this world? In fact economists collaborate with the likes of psychologists and sociologists; look into behavioral economics (Incidentally the psychologist Daniel Kahneman added insight to microeconomics) Regardless of who you like best, economists from various stripes from Keynesians to Neo-classics have slowly aided to grow our understanding. Economics is no-where near where chemistry is, but has progressed our knowledge and is far too important for us not to notice.

It's a good start that they are collaborating with other disciplines, but it is a case of too little, too late. Also, simply choosing one discipline at a time is illogical.:

If you are interested there is also the growing field of Neuroeconomics. Otherwise, I'm not quite sure what kind of integration you are looking for, would the addition of physics at this point really be all that helpful in understanding economic phenomena?

I also find the idea of progress questionable, as our economy, at least in this country, is viewed by many to be going down the tubes. Why are our economists so impotent to control the national debt, for instance? In practical terms, we could be considered in a state of retrogression. The most likely answer I will get to explain these problems is economic incompetence by our leaders, but that fact only underscores the overall ambiguity of the field itself. Economics is a social science and a philosophy. However instead of getting the best of both of these worlds, it appears to only exhibit the limitations of both of these categories!

While our leaders certainly can be economically incompetent at times, it's also a case of politics. The economic advisement may not always be the politically favourable thing to do. For instance, to allow some potential unemployment in the short-run in order to move the economy to a more sustainable long-run may be politically unfeasible. Again I also wouldn't argue that economists have it all figured, nor that of any particular economic stripe.

When you talk about the economy going down the tubes, going down the tubes compared to what? Would you truly perfer to live in the societies of pre-modern economics? The standard of living in western societies (where market economist's ideas largely started) have on average been on the up. While you can certainly point to technology, the debacle of the oil rich Venezuela and it's "21st century socialism" can really only be explained through market principles: http://www.cnbc.com... (read this)
R0b1Billion
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1/15/2014 3:00:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 12:01:06 AM, DanT wrote:
At 1/14/2014 3:05:34 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do,: and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions.

Sure there is... turn off the TV (i.e., news, CNN, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) and read a book instead :P

That is not economics, that is TV.

Very few Americans have any access to economics other than the TV. TV is the proving grounds for left and right-wingers to play out their arguments. And it's all a hot load of BS.

There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all;
Seeing as Rome no longer exists as a sovereign nation, let alone a empire, Rome fell.

Is that a negative thing?

"the process has been described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall" - Wikipedia.
Wiki is not a reliable source.

By that logic, I can't believe anything you say because you are even less reliable (being a random internet user) than Wikipedia. Why don't you leave the ethos alone for a moment and give me your reasoning as to why the statement is wrong. Mmkay? If this was a discussion led by a PhD then that would be one thing, but Wiki is more respectable then forum-chat on a website.

So am I to understand that economics is so fundamental to our lives that it controls our culture as well?
Culture and economics are intertwined.

All the more reason we should not let economists ignore the arts and sciences in their endeavors.

Surely this can't be reconciled as a positive influence! As far as Estonia goes, I'm going to need a more specific answer then that before I think about conceding!

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

That doesn't sound very scientific...

Correction: it doesn't sound very philosophical... Big difference.

Either way, if we cannot even decide what our goals should be in economics, then why listen to anything economists have to say? They can't tell which direction is up or down!

What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists?

No. They understand the intricacies of their areas far better than economists do, however. I am denying any merit to the entire field of economics, so I do not have to show that economists do not understand economics. I am only interested in showing that economists, by exercising their discipline, effectively overrule other disciplines by ignoring the principles contained within them.

Like?

Economic thinkers want us to grow our economy. This is the goal of just about every municipality and state in our nation. Growth, job-creation, and wealth. By growing our economy, we require more land, more natural resources (e.g., water), and we create more pollution. Ecology (which necessarily includes biology and chemistry) teaches us that the pollution caused by our economic activities is unhealthy for humans, and the damage we are doing to our natural areas has effects that come back and hurt us even if we don't value animals' rights for their own sake.

From a physics perspective, our energy usage is very problematic. Physics teaches that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form. When we use energy, we are using the helpful forms of energy and converting them into heat and other non-useful forms. Economists don't care how much energy we use or the long-term side-effects thereof, and our tight economic competition keeps us locked into practices that use lots of energy without any ability to consider more overly efficient methods that might save resources in the long-term, far beyond what our current short-sighted economic calculations can capture.

From a social-scientific perspective, we can see that more wealth does not create more happiness, yet all economics cares about is increasing wealth and production. Does a house full of store-bought items make us happier? Do all the extra man-hours we have to log in order to sustain this level of production make us happier? Who makes the assumption that more production is what we need?

Philosophy is another perspective, although I'm sure it will be overly dismissed as subjective. Ethically, economics is about as cruel as can be. People in foreign countries, who will never own the things we do, construct our goods for extremely low wages. No thought is ever given to the quality of life people sacrifice to provide the goods and services we consume to maintain our lifestyles. And it's not just people overseas, it's us as well. A factory job was enough for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle 50 years ago. Now we're so bogged down with debt and extra jobs to perform, everyone in a household must be working in order to maintain a perpetual slide further into debt.

Aesthetically, our cities are disgusting. Gray concrete slabs, straight lines everywhere... artists are not economically viable so they are rarely involved in construction of our cities. It is illogical that every piece of land in the United States isn't overflowing with artistic expression. No wonder people vandalize everything - it looks better that way!

It's a good start that they are collaborating with other disciplines, but it is a case of too little, too late.
A.) they are not just starting

Correct, they have yet to really begin other than a passing attempt to slightly alter the status quo. To really get going, they have to bring in ALL other disciplines and reconcile them all. Why leave any out?

B.) how would it be too late for an ongoing scientific field to hone their models? Not only are you ignorant to the definition of economics, but you are also ignorant to the definition of science in general.

How would it be too late... hmm... Why don't you read through this list and then ask me that again: http://en.wikipedia.org...

Also, simply choosing one discipline at a time is illogical. I also find the idea of progress questionable, as our economy, at least in this country, is viewed by many to be going down the tubes. Why are our economists so impotent to control the national debt, for instance?
Economists don't manage the national debt, congress does.

Congress' main currency in policy-making is economics. Don't play the fool...

Government spending - taxes = the change in government borrowing + the change in the monetary base.

In practical terms, we could be considered in a state of retrogression. The most likely answer I will get to explain these problems is economic incompetence by our leaders, but that fact only underscores the overall ambiguity of the field itself. Economics is a social science and a philosophy.
However instead of getting the best of both of these worlds, it appears to only exhibit the limitations of both of these categories!
Wrong, it is a social science, not a philosophy.

That's like saying Ptolemy's conception of the geocentric universe had no philosophical elements, and was strict science. Please.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
R0b1Billion
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1/15/2014 3:35:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 1:53:24 AM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:
At 1/14/2014 3:05:34 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/12/2014 7:23:18 PM, Leanin_on_Slick wrote:

It is often said that with economics we ought to just throw up our hands and say F*ck it! The problem is economics surrounds everything we do,: and there is no easy way of avoiding economic questions.

Sure there is... turn off the TV (i.e., news, CNN, Bill O'Reilly, etc.) and read a book instead :P

Lol however, the very fact that you have a roof over your head, a tv to turn off in the first place, and a book to read is all depended on economics.

So if all the good in my life is a result of economics, does that mean all the bad is as well? The lack of good jobs for us to choose, the lack of a decent wage, our environmental woes, our ethical woes, the non-sustainability of our nation's practices...

There is much we don't know about economics sure, but there is in fact much we have learned. The fact that we even worry about things like inflation (A major factor in the fall of Rome), consumer confidence, and the general lending environment speaks to how economics has changed are language and informed us. There is also success stories of nations making their way out of poverty because of economic fundamentals such as Estonia.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all; "the process has been described as a complex cultural transformation, rather than a fall" - Wikipedia. So am I to understand that economics is so fundamental to our lives that it controls our culture as well? Surely this can't be reconciled as a positive influence! As far as Etonia goes, I'm going to need a more specific answer then that before I think about conceding!

Whether or not inflation was the main reason Rome fell, or whether Rome fell at all, is really irrelevant to whether or not it was economically healthy for Rome's currency to be rendered virtually useless. You can also look to Venezuela and it's hyperinflation, or inflation's plague to the British Empire.

Estonia, through pro-market policies such as free trade went from a country of 35% unemployment, food shortages, and soaring inflation into an investment hub and a respectable economy.

And are they headed into debt like the U.S. is? Are they contributing to our environmental, energy, and ethical woes? What would you say about the overall sustainability of their practices?

There isn't really a 'good' and 'bad' in most economic terms, in mainstream economics it is largely an attempt to explain the phenomena involved; people then make the judgments about what is good and bad.

That doesn't sound very scientific...

On the contrary it's quite scientific. The number crunching, models, and theories look to explain economic phenomena, while people put the value judgments on what the conclusions mean and what goals we ought to pursue.

All this science, yet no clear signs of progress like every other science.

What makes you think economists are the most ignorant people in the world? Do natural scientists, psychologists, and sociologists generally understand economics better than do economists?

No. They understand the intricacies of their areas far better than economists do, however. I am denying any merit to the entire field of economics, so I do not have to show that economists do not understand economics. I am only interested in showing that economists, by exercising their discipline, effectively overrule other disciplines by ignoring the principles contained within them.l

And what principles might those be?

Please see my reply to DanT, I just answered that.

Are economist from out of this world? In fact economists collaborate with the likes of psychologists and sociologists; look into behavioral economics (Incidentally the psychologist Daniel Kahneman added insight to microeconomics) Regardless of who you like best, economists from various stripes from Keynesians to Neo-classics have slowly aided to grow our understanding. Economics is no-where near where chemistry is, but has progressed our knowledge and is far too important for us not to notice.

It's a good start that they are collaborating with other disciplines, but it is a case of too little, too late. Also, simply choosing one discipline at a time is illogical.:

If you are interested there is also the growing field of Neuroeconomics. Otherwise, I'm not quite sure what kind of integration you are looking for, would the addition of physics at this point really be all that helpful in understanding economic phenomena?

If it helped us with the energy crisis, yes.

I also find the idea of progress questionable, as our economy, at least in this country, is viewed by many to be going down the tubes. Why are our economists so impotent to control the national debt, for instance? In practical terms, we could be considered in a state of retrogression. The most likely answer I will get to explain these problems is economic incompetence by our leaders, but that fact only underscores the overall ambiguity of the field itself. Economics is a social science and a philosophy. However instead of getting the best of both of these worlds, it appears to only exhibit the limitations of both of these categories!

While our leaders certainly can be economically incompetent at times, it's also a case of politics. The economic advisement may not always be the politically favourable thing to do. For instance, to allow some potential unemployment in the short-run in order to move the economy to a more sustainable long-run may be politically unfeasible. Again I also wouldn't argue that economists have it all figured, nor that of any particular economic stripe.

When you talk about the economy going down the tubes, going down the tubes compared to what?

I know of no other nation that has both the debt and negative environmental impact of that of the United States.

Would you truly perfer to live in the societies of pre-modern economics?

No, I'd like to synthesize the good things about economics with the principles in other fields without simply ignoring them.

The standard of living in western societies (where market economist's ideas largely started) have on average been on the up. While you can certainly point to technology, the debacle of the oil rich Venezuela and it's "21st century socialism" can really only be explained through market principles: http://www.cnbc.com... (read this)

While the "fix" is attributed to economics, the debacle is as well. "Mis-management" is simply "the other guy's" economic plan :P
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
DanT
Posts: 5,693
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1/15/2014 3:58:20 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 3:00:26 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/15/2014 12:01:06 AM, DanT wrote:
That is not economics, that is TV.

Very few Americans have any access to economics other than the TV. TV is the proving grounds for left and right-wingers to play out their arguments. And it's all a hot load of BS.

Please define economics, so I can understand how you are using the term. From what you have been saying, it sounds like you are confusing news and/or commentaries with economics. One is a media, the other is a science.

The subject of Rome could keep us arguing for eons. We can't even agree that Rome "fell" at all;
Seeing as Rome no longer exists as a sovereign nation, let alone a empire, Rome fell.

Is that a negative thing?

You said it is up for debate whether or not Rome fell... It is not; Rome declined than fell. It's fall was due to the over centralization of government in a heterogeneous empire.
Wiki is not a reliable source.

By that logic, I can't believe anything you say because you are even less reliable (being a random internet user) than Wikipedia.
Being a random internet user makes me just as reliable as wiki, not less reliable.
Why don't you leave the ethos alone for a moment and give me your reasoning as to why the statement is wrong. Mmkay?
Several things led to the decline and fall of Rome.
When Rome adopted Christianity, they abandoned their policy of allowing multiple religions within the empire, thus forcing the entire empire to adopt a uniform philosophy. This led to the Pegan uprisings later down the road.
As the empire grew, the centralized military became less organized, and less professional. Due to long standing peace, their military equipment and training declined as well.
In order to create a more efficient rule, the empire was split between east and west; a move that prolonged the fate of the empire.
Eventually the western empire fell to the pagans, while the eastern empire gradually declined in power.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
DanT
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1/15/2014 4:59:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 3:00:26 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 1/15/2014 12:01:06 AM, DanT wrote:
Culture and economics are intertwined.

All the more reason we should not let economists ignore the arts and sciences in their endeavors.

You are the only one who seems to think they are.

Correction: it doesn't sound very philosophical... Big difference.

Either way, if we cannot even decide what our goals should be in economics, then why listen to anything economists have to say? They can't tell which direction is up or down!

Yes they can. If everyone agrees that evolution exists, but no-one agrees whether or not it is good or bad that we can, have, and will evolve; does that make the study of evolution pointless or nonsensical?

Like?

Economic thinkers want us to grow our economy. This is the goal of just about every municipality and state in our nation. Growth, job-creation, and wealth.
Economic growth is the result of labor and capital. Increasing knowledge skills and abilities increases the output of labor, and increasing technology and excess to better equipment and material will also lead to an increase in output. Capital facilitates labor. A single laborer can do more with a excavator than a shovel.
By growing our economy, we require more land, more natural resources (e.g., water), and we create more pollution.
That does not necessarily mean we create more pollution. If it did, the progress of human society would be inversely related to the health of the environment.
Ecology (which necessarily includes biology and chemistry) teaches us that the pollution caused by our economic activities is unhealthy for humans, and the damage we are doing to our natural areas has effects that come back and hurt us even if we don't value animals' rights for their own sake.

Ecology does not teach us that economics is responsible for pollution. That is a jump you made, and have yet to justify. Seeing as you have a hard time comprehending what economics is, I don't expect to receive a comprehensive answer; never the less without such an answer, your logic falls apart.

From a physics perspective, our energy usage is very problematic.
Thus there is an economic drive to produce a solution to the energy crisis. It generates a demand for alternative fuels, and it drives up the prices of limited resources.
Physics teaches that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.
Is there a point? The earth is not isolated from the rest of the universe, thus the quantity of energy on earth is not fixed.
When we use energy, we are using the helpful forms of energy and converting them into heat and other non-useful forms. Economists don't care how much energy we use or the long-term side-effects thereof,
Wrong again. Economics does care how much energy is consumed. In fact, the economics of energy is the study of that consumption. Furthermore, economics makes a clear distinction between long term and short term supplies.

and our tight economic competition keeps us locked into practices that use lots of energy without any ability to consider more overly efficient methods that might save resources in the long-term, far beyond what our current short-sighted economic calculations can capture.

That is assertion is purely false. In actuality the reverse is true; by studying economics, we know to reserve limited resources, and to invest in new forms of fuel. If we did not study economics, which is what you are proposing, we would blindly assume that what is profitable today will continue to be profitable tomorrow. Because we study economics, we can determine the best way to allocate resources, so that we don't find ourselves up a creek with without a paddle(fuel).

From a social-scientific perspective, we can see that more wealth does not create more happiness, yet all economics cares about is increasing wealth and production.
Not true. First off, economics don't set out to acquire wealth, they set out to increase the overall satisfaction from wealth. Economists try to eliminate market surpluses and deficits, in order to maximize the satisfaction gained from goods and services; they don't try to generate surpluses.
Furthermore; while more wealth does not necessarily mean more happiness, it does equate to more security.

Does a house full of store-bought items make us happier?
Depends on the marginal utility of each item. Buying things just to buy them, is not the goal of economists; economists only promote buying things when it increases satisfaction.
Do all the extra man-hours we have to log in order to sustain this level of production make us happier?
Actually if we worked 75% of the time as opposed to 25%, it would hurt the aggregate output of the economy, because people would misallocate their leisure time towards labor, and employers would over-staff.
Who makes the assumption that more production is what we need?

you apparently
Philosophy is another perspective, although I'm sure it will be overly dismissed as subjective. Ethically, economics is about as cruel as can be. People in foreign countries, who will never own the things we do, construct our goods for extremely low wages. No thought is ever given to the quality of life people sacrifice to provide the goods and services we consume to maintain our lifestyles.
Quality of life sacrificed? You mean quality of life achieved? When we outsource we boost the economies we outsource to, and increase the quality of life of the workers. As bad as it may be for them with out business, it would be even worse without it.

And it's not just people overseas, it's us as well. A factory job was enough for a comfortable middle-class lifestyle 50 years ago. Now we're so bogged down with debt and extra jobs to perform, everyone in a household must be working in order to maintain a perpetual slide further into debt.

That is due to policies made by people ignorant of economics, not by people who are knowledgeable of economics. Economists try to prevent such scenarios, not create them.
Aesthetically, our cities are disgusting. Gray concrete slabs, straight lines everywhere... artists are not economically viable so they are rarely involved in construction of our cities.
Wrong again. There is a market for art, because art can generate satisfaction, thus a demand.
It is illogical that every piece of land in the United States isn't overflowing with artistic expression. No wonder people vandalize everything - it looks better that way!
If you think graffiti is better, you are nuts. If you like graffiti, hire some hoodrat you paint your wall. When some punk paints someone else's property they are being destructive, because they are reducing the satisfaction the property owner gains from their property, and makes it harder to liquidate the property after it has been vandalized.
A.) they are not just starting

Correct, they have yet to really begin other than a passing attempt to slightly alter the status quo. To really get going, they have to bring in ALL other disciplines and reconcile them all. Why leave any out?

Dude, your ignorance is starting to get on my nerves. You keep making assertions that are so wildly false, that one can only question whether or not you know what economics is.
B.) how would it be too late for an ongoing scientific field to hone their models? Not only are you ignorant to the definition of economics, but you are also ignorant to the definition of science in general.

How would it be too late... hmm... Why don't you read through this list and then ask me that again: http://en.wikipedia.org...

Again, pollution =/= economics
Economists don't manage the national debt, congress does.

Congress' main currency in policy-making is economics. Don't play the fool...
Mind rephrasing that sentence so it makes some a
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
DanT
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1/15/2014 5:01:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 4:59:38 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/15/2014 3:00:26 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Congress' main currency in policy-making is economics. Don't play the fool...
Mind rephrasing that sentence so it makes some actual sense?
Sorry I rant out of character space.
"Chemical weapons are no different than any other types of weapons."~Lordknukle
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,716
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1/15/2014 7:10:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/15/2014 5:01:10 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/15/2014 4:59:38 PM, DanT wrote:
At 1/15/2014 3:00:26 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Congress' main currency in policy-making is economics. Don't play the fool...
Mind rephrasing that sentence so it makes some actual sense?
Sorry I rant out of character space.

Lol... not sure if serious or misspelled it... Anyway I need a break, I've been on DDO all day.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.