Economic Update: Economics Taught Badly

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On this week's show, Prof. Wolff presents updates on United Airlines' profits from customer abuse; bankster blames government; China's rapid economic growth; and worker coop news from Greece, New York, and Massachusetts. On the second half of the show, Prof. Wolff is joined by Economics professor John Summa who talks about the big problems in economics teaching.

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Showing 2 comments

  • Paul Cohen
    commented 2017-08-02 22:03:10 -0400
    My background in economics is pretty limited, consisting of a couple courses that I took in college many years ago. But I do recall learning that a free market was one with freedom for anyone to participate as a buyer or seller and I do recall that the important conclusion about a free market was that the price of goods in that market would adjust to balance supply with demand. There is a quite reasonable argument to be made for that conclusion, but that is a very limited conclusion. In no way does it mean that only good can flow from a market that is a free market.

    Somehow, today a free market has been re-defined as a market where government takes a totally hands-off stance. Almost surely this will be a market dominated by one or just a few major sellers so that there certainly is not freedom for anyone to enter that market as a seller. So this is not remotely like a free market in the sense that I learned about in college.

    Perhaps there is some argument why a market that is free in this new (and nearly opposite) sense should imply the very different conclusion that only good can happen when the government plays no role in a market but I do not know what that argument might be. But I am tempted to think that this really is just wishful thinking and grossly fallacious reasoning. The chain of reasoning would be to first argue that a free market is a good thing (because supply equals demand) in general. Forget the details, just remember that a free market is good – in fact the essence of goodness. Second, forget the original definition of a free market and just redefine it in a convenient new way that mirrors what you might wish it to be.

    This is such sloppy reasoning that I hate to attribute it to anyone, but certainly not to trained academics. Could someone please explain how this is not really what happened.
  • Mark Bradford
    commented 2017-07-25 10:01:45 -0400
    Interesting interview with Dr. Summa. Wallace Sayre’s “law” comes to mind. Since Dean Falls acted in bad faith, and admits so, perhaps a VT Attorney General investigation should start or a Grand Jury empaneled. Best wishes for Dr. Summa.

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