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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...

11/23/09

What makes us work? We need to satisfy some basic needs in order to live. Let us call them x. We also want more than the basic survival needs in most cases. However at that point the variety of what we want is endless. Some people want more for their children, both materially and emotionally. Others want to explore their histories by delving into the past of their community, their race, and participating in activities that promote that. Still others look into the infinite future and seek comfort in faith, or relationships, social institutions that may extend further than individual human lives. A small portion of people simply want maximum profit. Whatever the desires may be beyond the basic level necessary for survival, they are many. We may call these y. So the basic motivation to work comes down to x + y.

Economics has traditionally defined y in terms of profit maximization. However there is no reason why that has to be so. There are really endless possibilities.

11/22/09

We must start with the individual. Not as consumer or producer, but as a complex whole. We are not people who act as producers for a while and then change hats and become consumers. We are human beings. What we do affects us to our very core. It changes us. In fact we are what we do.

Economics has traditionally broken the person up into his and her roles. We must start afresh putting the person at the center of our analysis. The whole person.

What matters is not what I consume but what I do. How do I live my life? What do I do all day. When I go to work do I do something fulfilling or do I simply move papers around for someone else? Working for institutions whether they are corporations, universities, or the government often feels like that. I work for a large corporation. I am 'compensated' for my work. Is that because my work is not really that meaningful to me? If it is not meaningful to me can it be meaningful to society? Can millions of meaningless actions taken by millions of workers in institutions end up creating meaning for society as a whole? I don't see how it could.

We must carefully build our new economics bit by bit first focusing on the individual, then the family, society, and the world.

11/20/09

A tractor will not feed a farmer's family. A tractor is only a tool. So are markets. Useful as they are waiting for the Market system to feed the hungry and clothe the needy will not work. We need to put markets, communities, and the government to work on small-scale, micro-development efforts to eradicate hunger.

A million children go to bed hungry each night in the United States of America.

It doesn't have to be this way. Kids can't vote and more importantly they can't cast 'dollar-votes.' It is up to each one of us to change the society we live in. Let us stop believing in Markets to solve our problems. Let us start by talking to each other.

11/18/09

These are dispatches from a former economist who is disgusted by his profession. The logical inconsistencies, the hidden agendas, the conservative bias in economics finally led to the financial crisis and a world-wide depression. Isn't it time to stop the madness? And take steps towards a new economics taking Gandhiji as our starting point. Not simply rehashing Gandhiji's ideas but developing new ideas in his spirit. This is not a Gandhist blog but a Gandhian one.

11/15/09

Economics is about relationships. These can never be reduced to supply and demand. When I go out to breakfast that is one kind of relationship. I am being fed, I am appreciative of that, I pay. When I teach that's a very different relationship. I am challenging, setting up puzzles, the student is perhaps confused even angry at first. A Market Driven university, a Market Driven health-care plan, a Market Driven work place all pretend that the various relationships involving work offered and accepted can be reduced to supply and demand. That is our number one error. There is no such thing as supply and demand.