In the post Are you experienced? Dare to use what you know, Liberal Street Fighter’s shirah writes about the gap between right-wing economic theory, and what people actually do.
The econ-talk reigns supreme despite the fact that we now have an abundance of evidence that fundamental parts of the theory do not work out in reality. The laboratory that has tested some economic experiments has been whole countries. Others are being tested at the most minute levels. Al Roth at Harvard has been a leader in testing economic theory.
Many of these experiments show that a basic tenet of economics – selfishness – does not explain behavior and choices, even economic ones. They find that humans – and some primates (our relatives) – act based on kindness, fairness, reciprocity, and community needs.
Finding that people are motivated by fairness, reciprocity, and communal needs is not surprising. We see people behave altruistically all the time – the fire fighers who rushed into the Twin Towers on 9-11 are not an aberration. So in this case our experience should at least push us to challenge what econ-talk tells us.
(Those paragraphs were full of links and you have to go to shirah’s post to click them.)
I like to say that science is supposed to DEscribe what happens, while ideology says, “if only people would do so-and-so, such-and-such would happen.” Some of my favorite examples are the idea that lowering taxes causes the economy to grow. But history shows the opposite! Clinton, for example, raised taxes and the economy soared. Reagan cut taxes and the economy plunged into recession. Then, when taxes were increased because of the increasing deficits, the economy picked back up.
Which reminds me. Did you see what Doonesury had to say about bloggers today? Apparently “If the market really valued what you have to say, wouldn’t someone pay you for it?” Well, I hope “the market” doesn’t like what I have to say, because I don’t have good things to say about reducing humanity, personality, intellect, spirituality, culture and values to “markets” — one-dollar-one-vote systems that reduce people to economic cogs and values them according to what goods they produce or consume, and how much they can do to make a few rich fucks richer.