The many lives of an idea(list)

In the spring of 2008, I raised the following question/topic on LinkedIn:

...too much money got into the hands of too many people too fast?

Considering all current and near-future dramatic developments (e.g. environment, prices, trust in financial markets, etc.) could one argue that the world is trying to heal a disease whose symptoms include "too much money got into the hands of too many people too fast?"
People kind of got the idea, but not exactly--follow the above link to see for yourself.  Had I raised the same question today, probably the answers would be different.  But this is not the main point, for I've gotten used to waiting until people pass corners so they see what I sometimes talk about.  The main point is how this little episode illustrates again what Keynes said:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood...
Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
Case in point, I've just discovered this:
In a 1930 essay titled “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” John Maynard Keynes ridiculed economists for having a high opinion of themselves and their work. As the Great Depression engulfed the world, Keynes looked back at historic rates of economic growth, arguing that the real problem people would face in the future was not poverty but the moral quandary of how to live in a society of such abundance and wealth that work would cease to be necessary. The “economic problem,” as he put it, was technical, unimportant in the larger scheme of things. “If economists,” he wrote, “could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!” (source: The Nation)
I could have described the problem I saw also in moral terms, yet I must have chosen to operate with the discursive tools of the time and place;  LinkedIn being a professional network, moral argument does not weigh as much as money--I wonder if anything changed  In essence, I stumbled upon the footprints of a defunct economist.


No comments:

Popular Posts