an asshole economist chimes in on how to fix the economy
Source Michael Yates
Date 10/12/01/20:59

In today's New York Times there is an article discussing the suggestions of various thinkers on what might
sustain a growing economy in the future. (David Segal, "Some Very Creative Economic Fix-Its") Here is what one New York University economist had to say:
Perhaps we are entering the era of the self-starter. Prof. Andrew Caplin of New York University thinks so. He begins with the premise that in the coming global economy some people will succeed and others will not, and income inequality will grow. While it’s noble to focus on how to spread wealth around, he says that it might be wiser to think of ways the poor and middle class could cater to the economy’s biggest winners.

“Unfortunately, there will be income inequality,” he says, “but enough people will make money that those who don’t would do well, in as much as they understand the needs of that group.”

He says he expects a rise in what he call “artisanal services,” like cooks, nutritionists, small-scale farmers. He sees services emerging that aid the wealthy at the intersection of health and genetic science. He imagines a rise in technology services, too — experts who keep clients current about technology which can advance their interests in business, in the media, on search engines and so on.

Professor Caplin worries that this concept might be caricatured as “cater to the rich.” But he suggested that this country could use a lot more non-judgmental thinking about the future of the United States economy. Any argument on that subject that starts with the word “should,” he said, is not nearly as useful as one that starts with “could” and has a firm grasp on “is.”

“If you start with ‘should’ you get arguments where nobody makes any sense and where you can claim that some people are good and other people are bad,” he said, referring to recent skirmishes over Fed policy, deficits and other contentious topics. “With that sleight of hand you’ve ensured that you will not discuss anything of substance. You’ve just lined up two camps to fire at one another.”

Is it time to take all neoclassical economists into the woods and shoot them?

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