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Economic Philosophy

July 8, 2009

Our assumptions underlying our indicia of economic health could use some thorough philosophic examination.  Reminds me of this joke:

A priest, a politician, and an economist are stuck in the bottom of a well.  The priest says, “I know how to get us out of here!  We’ll pray to God, and he’ll send some kind of help.”  So they all try praying, and nothing happens.  Next, the politician says, “I have an idea.  Why don’t you two kneel down, one on top of the other, and I’ll climb on top of you to get out and call for help.  Don’t worry, I’ll come back for you, I promise.”  The priest and the economist look at each other and shake their heads, so the economist says, “I’ve got it!  Let’s assume a ladder.”

The fact that we don’t question our assumptions is more troubling than the point we’ve ended up at.  To wit, why aren’t we asking serious questions now that we have the internet and all these open fora of communication?  E.g., Why are we always so concerned about limitless, mindelss growth?  Aren’t we, as Americans, spending ourselves into debt?  And yet we won’t be (economically) happy unless we have more consumption?  What about some indicia of sustainable or productivity-financed growth, rather than the continued and irresponsible rise of consumerism as the gold standard of the 21st Century?

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