Fareed Zakaria in an article from Foreign Policy on “The End of Economics":
Let me be clear: Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world. Economics remains a vital discipline, one of the most powerful ways we have to understand the world.But in the heady days of post-Cold War globalization, when the world seemed to be dominated by markets and trade and wealth creation, it became the dominant discipline, the key to understanding modern life. That economics has since slipped from that pedestal is simply a testament to the fact that the world is messy. The social sciences differ from the hard sciences because “the subjects of our study think,” said Herbert Simon, one of the few scholars who excelled in both. As we try to understand the world of the next three decades, we will desperately need economics but also political science, sociology, psychology, and perhaps even literature and philosophy. Students of each should retain some element of humility. As Immanuel Kant said, “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”
As an author from Wired tried to sell his personal data and found out it isn’t worth much, some economists made the following valid remark.
Yet data can be worth a good deal in the aggregate — just ask some of the major tech companies. The economics here are a bit like the economics of voting. If it were legal, and you tried to sell your vote and your vote alone, you might not get much more than 0.3 cents. That vote is unlikely to prove decisive. Yet average and marginal value do not coincide. If someone could buy a whole block of votes, which in turn could swing an election, the price could be much higher.
An interesting interview with Professor Mark Blyth on the “crisis of globalisation”. His view on commodification of our personal data seems a bit unsophisticated though: how would we actually be able to put a price on the use of our data, and wouldn’t this still leave all the power with the big companies to buy them off from us? But I agree that there is a general problem in governance.
[…] get people to individually license the use of their data to these firms. We auction off the digital spectrum to telephone companies. Why don’t we auction off our personal data? Basically give the data on a ten-year lease that’s revocable.
Another interesting point he made is about global international labour and its effect on wage inequality:
[…] labour’s ability to command its share of the surplus declines to zero. The strike becomes a meaningless weapon. Strikes decline to function—like to zero—in the western world. And you get prolonged wage stagnation, because essentially all the surplus goes to capital. There’s no reason for it not to. So labour’s ability to push up wages goes to zero.
Universal basic income would just do more harm I think and I also think this alternative of Universal Basic Services is what we really need:"Access to sufficient services to enable universal safety, opportunity and participation". Learn more about it here.
The New York Times blog Upshot asks: What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?.
If you read the news, the economy seems to be the most important way to estimate how healthy a country/society is. And a growing influence of economists on policy makers has made this possible by steering what governments look at:
”Once economists have the ears of people in Washington, they convince them that the only questions worth asking are the questions that economists are equipped to answer,” said Michèle Lamont, a Harvard sociologist and president of the American Sociological Association.
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