You’d think that in the sciences, paradigm change would be quick and painless. But Thomas Kuhn shows that it isn’t so in The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. Most significant changes in physics, chemistry and astronomy, the examples Kuhn discusses, happen over a significant period of time. Kuhn discusses the problem at length. One factor is […]
Author Archive for: masaccio
About Ed Walker
Notre Dame undergrad (math); JD, Indiana University at Bloomington; 1st Lieutenant, US Army.; private practice in corporate and securities law; Assistant AG in Tennessee for consumer protection and securities; Blue Sky Securities Commissioner, Tennessee; private practice, bankruptcy and corporate law.
I have had a lifelong interest in economics. For most of my career, that interest was practical, focused on the problems in front of me. Lately I have been more interested in economics as a theory, especially its impact on the lives of people like those I met in my bankruptcy practice, and on the politics of money in the US. I also enjoy reading philosophers, starting in college and steadily expanding my reading ever since. I wrote at FireDogLake for a number of years.
Generally, I think the problem facing the US is the dominance of neoliberal discourse. I think it clouds the vision, and limits the kinds of problems that can be identified and solved. For example, the existence and danger of climate change can easily be identified in a scientific discussion. However, the problem does not fit the neoliberal discourse because science insists that the pursuit of individual and corporate self-interest will lead to devastation. In neoliberal discourse, the pursuit of self-interest always leads to Eden.
The neoliberal project has two prongs. One is the police function of crushing dissent and alternative views. The police function is provided by government agencies and private and institutional actors. The counterpart is the economic system , which is operated by government and by private and institutional actors. Some of these actors operate in both spheres. I focus on the second prong.
In this post I ask what the paradigm of economics might be, and if there is one. I did not address the question of the exact nature of the paradigm as discussed by Kuhn, leaving it at the broadest possible level: the theories, instruments, methods, prejudices and so on common to a community of scholars […]
In this post, I discussed normal science, a term used by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to describe the day to day work of scientists, focusing on the example of my brother’s work on transmission of pain in the body. In normal science, Kuhn explains, people expect the puzzles they choose to […]
I am fascinated by the fact that economists do not seem fazed by the failure of their almost unanimous policy recommendations of deregulation and tax cuts, as I discuss here and here. Almost in unison, they chanted for decades that reducing taxes and regulation would spur growth for the benefit of all of us. The […]
It may seem odd that a site focused on national security, domestic spying, and US foreign policy should have a secondary focus on the economy and on neoliberal economic theory. As I see it, these are the two prongs of the overall neoliberal project. That project is to free up the entire globe for the […]
The ruling of Judge Denise Cotes in Federal Housing Finance Administration v. Nomura Holding America, Inc., is a 361 page description of the fraud and corruption that went into just one group of real estate mortgage-backed securities. FHFA was formed after the Great Crash to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two entities were […]
The field [economics] is filled with anxious introspection, prompted by economists’ feeling that they are powerful but unloved, and by robust empirical evidence that they are different. The Superiority of Economists, by Marion Fourcade, Etienne Ollion and Yan Algan. In this post at Naked Capitalism, I explain that one big reason normal people don’t love […]
This is a cross-post with some modifications from Naked Capitalism. It is a truth universally acknowledged by all good citizens that markets are the only way to organize a society. The implication is that the role of government is to support and protect the operations of markets, and little else. I’ve been looking at this […]
The neoliberal project offers a vision of two classes, the rich, and homo economicus, the consuming human. Homo economicus is a new creature in the world, one of a long string of visions offered to the great mass of humans by the elites. It has sunk in so quickly that we are often unable to […]
Several commenters have pointed out definitional problems with the term “utility” as used in neoclassical economics, including Tarheel Dem, rg and Alan. As I noted in the linked post, Samuelson and Nordhaus are careful to call utility a “ scientific construct”, and not a measurable thing. Philip Mirowski is very helpful in clarifying what this […]