The so-called economy

If you are the occasional viewer of "Breaking Points" on YouTube you may have caught this video:

It's pretty amusing that claims of a "Biden boom" are allowed to persist. Oooh more jobs! Here are questions we ought to ask EVERY TIME a "jobs figure" is cited:

1. What are these jobs in? Skilled trades? Sales? Fast-food restaurants?

2. How much do these jobs pay? And what can one buy with one's job proceeds? (See e.g. inflation statistics.)

3. Do these jobs have benefits like, say, access to health care?

4. What was the context for these new jobs? Did they restore jobs lost during a prior deep recession in which the new jobs count as a drop-in-the-bucket "recovery"?

Here is must be said that the title labels Paul Krugman as a "liberal," but more accurately Krugman might be called a representative of "mainstream economics." The standard debunking of the field of "mainstream economics," and thus economic claims in general (and not just "jobs figures"), is to be found in Kees van der Pijl's Survey of Global Political Economy. The important chapter is Chapter 2, Micro-Economics and Rational Choice. It begins on page 30. The chapter begins with an involved history of "the marginal revolution in economics," in which economics is detached from political economy through the idea that it is based on the "marginal propensity to consume." With this revolution, economics thus becomes a field in which people are imagined to be "rational decisionmakers"" who are "perfectly informed." Human motivation in mainstream economics is reduced to the notion of the "maximization of utility," so as to make the individual human being equivalent to the business firm, concerned with profit above all else. As van der Pijl says:

True, ‘the predictive power of the model was weak’ (that is, things usually don’t happen this way). But since the prescriptive power of neoclassical economics is momentous— market freedom must not be interfered with and its scope must be widened wherever possible—no one can afford to ignore it. (30-31)

Toward the end of the chapter van der Pijl suggests that mainstream economics is an "axiomatic" discipline (meaning that its internal logic rests upon taken-for-granted presuppositions). In short, mainstream economics is a species of propaganda dolled up (with generous helpings of mathematics) to look like an academic field. You may learn something from it, but only incidentally -- what's important for the field's internal workings is its institutional outcome, which is to say more capitalism.

As for Paul Krugman and his dissection at the hands of Krystal Ball, the matter-at-hand is that the pointlessness of mainstream economics as voiced by Krugman and others is becoming rather transparent. You have all of these miserable folks out there, and Paul Krugman telling them they're not miserable. A real point, which would be to help the miserable folks not be miserable, would be outside of the orbit of the discipline which governs Krugman's brain.

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QMS's picture

street level practicality is encouraged by the money gods.
Getting rich swapping derivatives and sweating to stave off
creditors is a vast chasm of indifference. Money matters more
when there is none to be spent. The abstractions of this science
called economics are designed to lose the working class.

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Ohio Barbarian's picture

And for Wall Street, of course. Richard Wolff has targeted him a few times, and does a beautiful demolition job on him.

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Never let your morals prevent you from doing the right thing.--Salvor Hardin, Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

And it aint Oprah

The economy only works for them.
The Enemy.

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