Too Important to be Left to Economists (or politicians)

Better understanding of and then the rethinking of growth is thus no academic exercise. It is necessary if our country and the values we most admire are to endure and prosper. And it is necessary if we are to do well in our own personal “pursuit of happiness.”

We cannot afford to leave rethinking growth to either economists or politicians.

Economists are unsure of themselves. Some people call their profession  a “science” (a Nobel Prize, for example, is given in “Economic Sciences”), yet economists offer, with great certainty, contradictory explanations about how and why growth occurs; they even call each other’s firmly held beliefs “fairy tales.” Many of these “experts” have carried the discussion about as far as they can; they now are often talking (and not always listening) to each other in a cycle that gets repeatedly repetitious.

And politicians (and public officials) across the entire spectrum have abused “growth,” claiming that whatever policy or ideology they advocate is the best way to achieve it.

Virtually all types of  authority figures, moreover, have been transforming–perhaps without realizing it–growth into a cliché, claiming it is necessary for virtually every public policy goal; while textbooks now teach that “growthmanship”–ability to promote “growth”–is among  skills most needed by our leaders.

We can’t rely on experts, which means we must take ownership of “economic growth.”



Mayu says:

It turns out that experts are unreliable, not because they have their own agenda (although they often do), but because of their sheer inability to predict things.
In his widely-cited book Expert political judgment: how good is it? How can we know? Philip E. Tetlock conducted a study on the reliability of expert predictions and found that they were about as good at guessing outcomes as dart-throwing chimps, if not worse.
This might mean that pinpointing our economic wellbeing and future might be impossible, but it’s definitely worth a try. After all, Tetlock also concludes that experts are no better at predicting the future than the rest of us. Put it another way, our educated predictions are just as credible as expert predictions.
In another book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell, case after case demonstrates the superiority of our intuitive thinking over a pile of information that not only overwhelms us but traps us into tunnel vision.
While many of us are no experts on the economy, there is an undeniable need to balance the tunnel vision towards economic growth based on gross national product with other scales of growth and progress.


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