Economic Theory Is Dead. Here’s What Will Replace It.

From Einstein to Darwin

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By David Sloan Wilson

Everyone seems to agree that the economics profession had a near death experience in 2008 and either needs to be or has been reborn in a different incarnation. The most optimistic assessments claim that a revolution is already underway based on two developments: 1) A greater emphasis on empirical research; and 2) a different conception of theory.

A thoughtful essay by the economic blogger Noah Smith titled “The Death of Theory” covers the first development. According to his numbers, the proportion of theory papers in the economics literature peaked between 1973 and 1993 and has been declining ever since. He describes the behavioral economics movement as a meteor that hit “the economic dinosaurs”, by which he means the neoclassical paradigm. He concludes by speculating that humanity is reaching “the end of a big Theory Wave” for all topics. Whatever can be gained by big theory has already been realized, so it only remains to dive into the data.

Other commentators argue for the continuing importance of theory, but a different kind of theory. It is only the self-contained system of mathematical equations inspired by Newtonian physics that is dead. In its place is a toolkit of modeling methods that address particular topics and must always be checked against empirical data to remain grounded in reality. Champions of this view include Dani Rodrik, whose book Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science is comprehensively reviewed by N. Emrah Aydinonat, and Angus Deaton, the newest Nobel laureate in economics (see this perceptive commentary by Justin Wolfers).

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All good, but there is something missing from the internet links that I just provided—any discussion of evolutionary theory. The only uses of the word “evolution” are colloquial and the only reference is to Thorstein Veblen’s classic article, written in 1898, titled “Why is Economics not an Evolutionary Science?”

That’s also my question. For an evolutionist such as myself, the idea that big theory is dead or that big data can be analyzed without a big theory is wacky. Way back in 1973, the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky declared that “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution.” Since then, evolutionary theory has not experienced a crisis in the same way as economic theory and nobody is saying that it has run out of insights. Instead, it is needed more than ever to understand the tsunami of empirical information that has become available in genetics and molecular biology.

Einstein observed that “It is the theory that decides what we can observe”. The world is so complex that we cannot possibly attend to everything, so a theory—broadly defined as a way of interpreting the world around us—is required to tell us what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Without a theory, we are literally blind. If we up the amount of information that must be processed, then the need for theory to cure blindness becomes even greater.

Models designed to understand particular topics are good as far as they go, but collectively they are like a jigsaw puzzle with a million pieces still in its box. An overarching theory is required to assemble the puzzle. That’s how evolutionary theory functions in the biological sciences. The economics profession doesn’t need something like that. It needs that. The same theory that unifies the study of all living processes can unify the study of our own species, including our economic systems.

Thorstein Veblen got it right in 1898, but the lack of awareness among most of the New Economists is stunning. Here is what Dani Rodrik has to say about evolutionary theory in Chapter 4 of his book:

You may have noticed that thus far I have generally stayed away from the word “theory”. Even though “model” and “theory” are sometimes used interchangeably, not least by economists, it is best to keep them apart. The word “theory” has a ring of ambition to it…Darwin’s theory of evolution based on natural selection is impossible to verify directly and experimentally, in view of how long it takes for species to evolve, though there is plenty of suggestive evidence in its favor.

This places Rodrik’s understanding of evolution just a shade above creationists. He goes on to say that economic models do not have the ambitious pretentions of a theory. Instead, “they are contextual and come in almost infinite variety”. In other words, they are an unassembled jigsaw puzzle and my estimate of million pieces was too low.

Most behavioral economists are nowhere when it comes to evolutionary theory. I got excited when Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein called for an economics based on Homo sapiens, not Homo economicus, in their book Nudge. Then I searched my kindle edition for the word “evolution” and came up empty. How can economics be based on Homo sapiens without any discussion whatsoever of Homo sapiens as a product of genetic and cultural evolution? Ditto for Dan Ariely’s Predictability Irrational and Animal Spirits, by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, used the word only twice. In Akerlof and Shiller’s newest book, Phishing for Phools, all seven uses of the word “evolution” are colloquial. They say that their perspective is inspired by psychology but that’s a subject, not a theory. So far, the list of “anomalies” and “paradoxes” compiled by behavioral economists is just another unassembled jigsaw puzzle.

Now for some good news. Starting in the late 20th century, economics started to become evolutionized along with all other branches of the human social sciences. By now there is a sizable number of people from a melting pot of academic disciplines who use evolutionary theory to assemble the jigsaw puzzle for economics in the same way that it is used in biology. For a sample, check out a 2013 special issue of the Journal of Economic and Behavior and Organization (JEBO) titled “Evolution as a General Theoretical Framework for Economics and Public Policy”, which I edited with economists John M. Gowdy and J. Barkley Rosser. Or read Robert H. Frank’s The Darwin Economy, where he predicts that Darwin, not Smith, will be regarded as the father of economics 100 years from now. But why wait 100 years? The New Economics can enter the post-Darwinian age right now.

The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (JEBO) has generously provided free online access to the lead article of the special issue for a six month period, starting January 18. Sign up for our newsletter now and we’ll send you the link when it is available!

12 January 2016

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  • Larry Chang

    For an evolutionary approach to economics

  • X-7

    First, Big Props to you good Dr. Wilson; love your work.

    Think EVOnomics needs to add physics to generate a new theory.
    Thinking primarily of David Deutsch and Chiara Marletto’s Constructor Theory of Information:
    And likely some symbotype speciation from Dr. Robert Doyle? (Harvard; Astrophysics) (Just discovered Dr. Doyle.)

    Below are some components that I think are fundamental to a new economic theory.
    From an older talk by Deutsch:
    “Any final state contains information about the system’s initial state and about what has happened to it since. So, the motion of any physical system, because it obeys definite laws, can be regarded as information processing.”
    Motion is: information processing. Profound.

    Add this: In “Too Much of a Good Thing”, Dr. Lee Goldman (Columbia) argues that the modern world has rendered portions of our genetic code dysfunctional.
    Agree with his premise, and argue: exponentially accelerating complexity has also rendered significant portions of our cultural genome obsolete, and in some cases, dangerous.
    Cultural genome: the coding structures humans-as-cells in the cultural organism use for reality / relationship interface.

    “The most fundamental phenomenon of the universe is relationship.” Jonas Salk – “Anatomy of Reality”
    If your culture has increasingly deadly relationships with the sky, ocean, numerous species, etc., then youz gots to realize: your cultural genome sucks.
    If your culture is converting the sky into a lethal gas chamber, largely a gas chamber of commerce, your econ theories suck.

    “The story of human intelligence starts with a universe that is capable of encoding
    information.” Ray Kurzweil – “How to Create a Mind”

    In a world comprised of information-in-relationship, code is fundamental. Code is physics generated (sometimes by human “constructors” — Deutsch) and physics efficacious Relationship Infrastructure in bio, cultural & tech networks: genetic, language (spoken, alphabet coded) moral, religious, legal, monetary, software . . .
    Code is a constructor. Code is an information processing technology.
    Survival & well-being: Largely a function of processing complex network relationship information with sufficient reach, speed, accuracy & power.
    So, given that, what’s dominant relationship information processing mechanism for world culture’s interface with reality? Human beings using monetary code.
    Add this: Mathematical Code Evolution: geometry to equations to algorithms.
    As I learned in a talk by economist / complexity scientist Brian Arthur, algorithmic code has significantly more applications than equation code. That is, algorithmic code has greater reach.

    Add: “A technology can only be pressed so far before it runs into some limitation.” Brian
    Arthur – “The Nature of Technology”
    I think exponentially accelerating complexity has destroyed the efficacy of the archaic equation code, monetary code. Think $ has reached its limits as culture tech / culture-code infrastructure for the computation of relationship-value information in and across geo eco bio cultural & tech networks, and across time. Humans using monetary code can’t match the New Reach of our species, per our numbers & tech.
    While not a precise analogy, think the following provides some distilled context regarding the information processing reach, speed, accuracy and power of monetary code:
    Software code is to monetary code as alphabet code was to pictograph code.

    Btw, in the transition from simple hunter-gatherer social structures to the exponentially more complex information-in-relationship architecture of city-states, creative information processors constructed new coding structures for the cultural genome: alphabet, legal, etiquette & monetary. These coding structures were added to the primitive (less complex) cultural genome of hunter-gatherers.
    We need to add a neocortex to the cultural organism; some integration, amalgamation of software code, quantum computers, ubiquitous network sensors and bots collecting big data, an internet of things, etc. Not only will this move us further along the eusocial spectrum, it’s a heroic attempt to better align the vast and accelerating diversity of anthropic selection with natural selection. (Yes, that may be pathetic human hubris. Frank Vertosick argues the concept of humans as planetary stewards: more human arrogance; too complex for us. And yes, the methane be bubbling . . . so it may already be too late, i.e., Dr. Vertosick is right.)

    To close, I think a new economics theory needs to incorporate physics and evolution, which I think are disciplines that work to generate explanations about what information-in-relationship has been doing over time.

  • Pedro Romero

    This is a biased criticism of the current state of the Economics profession and also of the role of evolutionary theory in Economics. There is a recent report that actually shows that the profession is doing better, more jobs for Econ PhDs
    indeed, there has been a net increment in demand.
    On the other hand, David as many other have forgotten about the contributions by F. Hayek, K. Boulding and J. Hirshleiffer to the evolutionary approach in Economics. There is not any mention of the works written by these economists in any of your pieces in the issue of JEBO that you point out.

    • Unlearning Economics

      I don’t think the criticism has anything to do with how many jobs there are for econ phds…

  • Glauco AS Oliveira

    I believe there is evolutionary thinking in the work of Schumpeter when discussing that capitalism could lead to creative destruction. In this “survival of the fittest” model, firms have to innovate in a competitive market, at the same time, destroy competitors. However, this could lead to monopoly power. Can we see such a pattern in the biological world? Do we see models of imperfect competition in nature? I think Economics as a science have created complex models, which are able to translate the complexities of societies and markets. However, I do agree these models may not be initially accepted by mainstream – Neoclassical – Economics . However, neoclassical economics has been adapting itself and validating experiments. Excellent article in a promising field. Looking forward to read the paper.

  • Derryl Hermanutz

    A theory can aspire to describing the units and explaining the causal mechanisms by which a complex system works. When the system in question is a system of human social relationships that satisfy human needs and desires — a system that is to a significant extent under human control — you need a moral philosophy to describe how the system “should” work.

    Adam Smith was a moral philosopher who proposed his “free market” as a moral improvement over the actual political economy of 1776 Britain, which was state-corporate mercantilism. Ever since Smith, mainstream economics (what Friedrich List called “the popular school”) has been modeling a free market economy populated by individualistic entrepreneurs, while the real world remained dominated by states and giant corporations in collusion and competition with each other. This is a competition among corporate powers, not among individual human beings.

    Smith imagined a free market Utopia, which the economics profession adopted as “reality”. Economics models a utopian free market system, with power rejected out of Utopia as a “market externality”. True enough — there is a normative aspect to authoritative social theories: telling people they live in a democratic free market induces people to act as if they really do live in that kind of world, which may make people act “better”.

    But as an empirical science that observes and explains actual reality, economics has been an utter failure. Economic history displays the evolution of financial, military, economic, and ideological power. The history of free market economic theory displays the evolution of utopian modeling that removes itself ever-farther from empirical testing and correction by actual reality. Econometrics plays with captivating mathematical market toys while the real world of power turns and churns.

    Today nation-size transnational financial, commercial, industrial and agricultural corporations dominate the global economy. These are globe-spanning corporate “collectives” exercising vast concentrations of market “power”. But economics continues to model a competitive individualist free market, and only acknowledges “reality” as a “market externality”.

    An evolutionary focus will not save an economics that insists on modeling a vision of utopia and calling it reality.

    • Hannes Radke

      What’s interesting about this is that empirical science actually can come to define, or at least update, what is morally acceptable and what is not.

      Think of an ancient witchdoctor, who accumulates wealth through utilization of the fear from being haunted. “Give me a goat and 5 sacks of grain, to be safe from the angry ghosts of your ancestors” It’s basically spiritual blackmail. Much like the church does to this day. Science comes in and this illusion is destroyed, with it the power structure of the tribe.

      In capitalism it’s blackmail through who is “deserving” and who is “a lazy scrounger”. Science can improve the moral relationship among people by destroying this insane illusion. When you are confronted with the output of behavioral economics, it becomes impossible for you to judge people that way. Prejudice is reduced, you are a morally superior agent and improved your moral judgements in the end.

      I think utopia may arrive bit by bit, just following rigorous scientific process.

  • Eli Rabett

    To have a theory you have to have a consensus as Kuhn pointed out. Else all you have is noise.

    • Arriving at a new consensus is a process that always starts as someone being the lone voice insistent upon change.
      Consensus is nice when one can achieve it, and rarely exists in real science communities (or any community for that matter).

      Far too many people prefer agreement over their own integrity.
      I’d rather be a lone voice than deny what seems obvious to me (with all due respect to Kuhn), he was wrong on this particular topic.
      And I am usually willing to consider the ideas of others, at least up until the point of the first falsified premise (and it only takes one reliable result to falsify any premise).

      • Eli Rabett

        Wrong, within science consensus is much more common than not. Or are you a flat earther (past), or a Klein bottle earther (future).

        Moreover it is much more common that so called falsified premises are the result of poor experimental design (neutrinos faster than light), malicious statistics (p<0.5 means you have a 1 in 20 chance of being wrong by chance, and of course an increased chance of being published in Science) or just a theoretical mistakes (

        Tossing out a model that has considerable consensus, coherence and consilience for the first guy waving a tattered notebook full of scribble is madness, no wait, it is the internet.

        • Having been in science for 50 years – we may have to agree to disagree.
          Most conferences have contending hypotheses on offer.

          Sure there are degrees of consensus, on some topics.

          And it seems to be much more of a complex, multi-dimensional, probabilistic set of topologies than anything so simplistic as a consensus.

          I’m not saying follow the first guy with some crazy idea.
          I am suggesting it is powerful to listen to anyone who can state assumption sets, answer questions coherently, and is using concept sets that pass the test of not yet falsified (with sufficiently reliable datasets), and is offering something novel – particularly if there is high payoff in it if correct.

          And sure – the vast bulk of what is on the internet is very poorly constructed and based upon invalid assumption sets. Actually same goes for most of what has passed for knowledge throughout human history, and the history of “natural philosophy” and science.

          Reality seems to be sufficiently complex that we have to use simplifying heuristics to be able to make any sense of it at all.
          Which is why I prefer using the term “useful approximations” for most of what I consider working “knowledge”.

          • Eli Rabett

            If you want an analogy, science is a jigsaw puzzle being worked from the center. The pieces there are totally locked in. Around the edges not so much.

            The problem with economics and social science is that there is no consensus about the center pieces. Kuhn saw that.

          • Hi Eli,

            It depends totally on the specifics of your analogy.

            If the center pieces of your puzzle are an appreciation of the profound and infinitely recursive nature of the many levels of uncertainty we currently have some beginnings of an awareness of; an awareness of what seems to be the stochastic nature of foundations of reality, a profound awareness of our ignorance of the detail and simultaneously an awareness of the utility of many of the simplifying heuristics we use to make the models we currently find fit for our current purposes, then yes – I would agree with you.

            If you mean anything more certain than that, then I suspect we may be in profoundly different consensuses.

            When one looks closely at Heisenberg uncertainty, Goedel incompleteness, Quantum uncertainty, non-binary truth values, complexity theory, chaos theory, evolutionary theory in its many guises, behaviour, cybernetics, neural networks and leading on from there into general computational theory, and the sorts of heuristics necessary to avoid halting problems, one is left with a rather profound appreciation for uncertainty, and the need for minds to find certainty and stop looking for it where it doesn’t exist (which seems to be the best available explanation for most certainty in existence).

          • SLDI

            “The problem with economics and social science is that there is no consensus about the center pieces.”

            Sustainable Land Development International answers –

  • Sam Penrose

    Brilliant, thanks much. I believe you could also point fruitfully to the relationship between biology and physics: well-established findings in physics constrain biology. Notably, energy flow is crucial to understand how organisms and ecosystems work. The refusal of economics to incorporate energy into its work despite the coincidence of modern economies with the exploitation of fossil fuels seems to me a fundamental problem.

    • Here’s a comment on this post written by a physicist (w/ his own economic theoretical framework)

    • John Foster

      Hi Sam

      I agree.

      You may be interested in my article on this:

      Foster, John (2011) “Energy, aesthetics and knowledge in complex economic systems.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 80, Issue 1, Pages 88-100.

      • Sam Penrose

        Great paper! The blockquote you excerpted from Ayres is gold. Back to reading your work and thanks v. much.

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  • John Foster

    David, you are re-writing what many of us evolutionary economists wrote in the 1980s. The striking thing to me that the community of evolutionary economists in, for example, the International Schumpeter Society, is very healthy but hardly ever cited by mainstream economists. It seems to me that this omission of citations has been deliberate. So I don’t think any plea by you is going to change minds in the mainstream. The ‘behavioral’ economists are the most annoying because they pick up ideas that have been around for decades in evolutionary and (old) institutionalist economics without adequate citation (if any). I think you could have done better that just citing an issue of JEBO that you edited. There is a vast literature out there doing exactly what you suggest and people such as Richard Nelson who, in any other qualifying discipline would have an Nobel prize by now (for those of you who don’t know him, take a look at his citations on Google Scholar – of course very few of these are in mainstream economics outlets).

  • You may even have said a thing or two worthwhile in that rant, but you ruined it by ranting.

  • “Einstein observed that “It is the theory that decides what we can observe”.”

    Ah, but he *observed* that, didn’t he? Where did he get the theory required before he was able to make this observation? ;D

  • Thank you David – that little piece by Thorstein Veblen is an absolute gem!!!

    It’s about 50 years since I read Darwin’s Origin, and it had a profound impact on how I saw the world. The in 1978 I read Dawkin’s 76 Classic the Selfish Gene – which far from selfishness provided the first clear exposition I had seen for the evolution of cooperation. JMS’s work with Multiple Stable State Equilibria, and Axelrod’s work with games theory and strategic environments provided another step change in my understanding.

    Then came my introduction to Goedel’s incompleteness theorem, then followed several years of immersion in designing and coding computer systems, and working with politicians on legislative design and implementation.

    Then I finally got into relativity and from there into Quantum Mechanics.

    More recently I have spent quite a bit of time with Chaos and complexity theory.

    Now it seems quite clear to me that economics as a science is trapped between several incompatible requirements.

    Markets measure exchange values, and exchange values are fundamentally based in scarcity. Money is a market measure of value.
    Technology gives us the ability to produce a large and growing set of goods and services in universal abundance.
    Anything universally abundant has zero market value.
    That means that market incentives actively work against the delivery of any universal abundance.
    Human beings require a universal abundance of a basic range of goods and services to deliver the security and freedom to actually be able to self actualise as they choose. Market based thinking and incentives actively work against universal access to self actualisation, forcing many people into a situation where survival needs dominate, and self actualisation becomes a distant dream.

    The exponential increase in the rate of technological change is creating social chaos, as most people now face profound insecurity, as systems developed when individuals could expect to have jobs for life now find that the length of job security is shrinking exponentially as technological capacity increases.

    Valuing things based upon their degree of scarcity made sense when most things were genuinely scarce. It makes less and less sense as automation of all phases of manufacture makes things potentially universally abundant.
    Money and markets are rapidly coming to the end of their social utility.

    We need to develop other metrics of value that are not scarcity based.

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  • Sarah

    When you put evolutionary psychology and behavioral economics together you will get your ‘theroy’. Unfortunately both fields are so new and evolutionary psychology has too few researchers. I work in education and even there the collaboration between the fields is still very much in its infancy. However, the field of evolutionary psychology is very powerful and as yet untapped as it applies to all human endevours.

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  • Brian J. Gladish

    From the paper: “A sophisticated knowledge of biocultural coevolution is required… to manage cultural change to achieve positive outcomes.”

    Who determines what are “positive outcomes?” And what happens to the dissenters? Sounds like a top-down, anti-evolution (anti trial-and-error/evolutionary epistemology) approach.

  • Bob Wootton

    My perspective on economics and the prevailing neoliberal economic system propagated by the Centre for Policy Studies is that it is an Operating System. The political policies that that are produced are “bug fixes” and “patches” to try and put right the faults, shortcomings and loopholes produced by this dysfunctional operating system. It is up to governments to introduce a better Economic Operating System and “dual-boot” the economic operating system. People in business, employers, employees, shareholders and trade unionists can then voluntarily choose to use the new system. I have made a start in this project by publishing an e-book, “Creating Responsible Capitalism”. I invite other readers and the publishers of this article to design their own “bug free” economic system.

    Regarding theory, to quote Robert Pirsig in his book subtitled “An Inquiry Into Value”, “the supply of hypotheses to explain any given event is infinite”. Theories are developed from hypotheses and “stick” if they are useful.

  • A model is an hypothesis, a theory is verified fact.

    • Jorge Icabalceta

      a law is a verified fact…. a theory is a set of constructive hypothesis, laws or facts related with each other whose propositions are formed in a logic-deductive way. A theory serves as basis to generate scientific models, to explain the relationship between variables of interest. The purpose is to explain or predict a phenomenon or to make inference about a system to which the theory is applied…
      So, your definition is way too short and imprecise

  • I wonder when any of the writers here at Evonomics will take evolution seriously, as in a system that emerges with large numbers of participants, unguided, unplanned, while generating more and more complex, interactive processes over time? This is the kind of system studied by Adam Smith and other 18th century economists. It is also a system that numerous of their colleagues in biology studied. The two groups learned a lot from one another, two generations before Charles Darwin figured out how such processes could generate novelty and complexity through unplanned natural selective pressures. Hayek would be a good place to start.

    • robertmkadar

      Hi Sally,

      I believe you misunderstand the modern view of evolutionary processes and social evolution. Simply, natural selection often selects for traits that undermine the cooperation at higher levels of organization. Hayek was not around for today’s advancements in the field. A lot of his thought requires updating as we are doing on Evonomics.

  • The Association for Evolutionary Economics (AFEE) was established in 1965. Based in the United States, it has become a leading international association of its kind, similar in many respects to the more recently formed European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE). AFEE’s periodical, the Journal of Economic Issues, has established itself as the primary source of scholarship in the tradition of institutional and evolutionary economics in the varied traditions of Veblen, Wesley C.Mitchell and John R.Commons. The association’s eclectic approach to the furtherance of heterodox alternatives has brought with it certain problems in the past, as those identifying most closely with theVeblenian tradition have clashed with others who do not accept much, if any, of Veblen’s contribution. To its credit it has retained a pluralistic ethos, allowing many different approaches room to nourish under its umbrella. The association confers annually its prestigious Veblen-Commons Award to the economist regarded as significantly advancing the cause of evolutionary economics. Adolph Lowe, himself a recipient, referred to it as the ‘bad boy’ award because of its recognition of those otherwise disregarded by a snooty profession (Carroll, 1998:11). Galbraith received this award in 1976. Those working in the tradition of institutionalism continue to claim Galbraith as one of their own: Ron Stanfield describes him as ‘a leading scholar of the American institutionalist school’ (Stanfield, 1996:1), while Marc Tool sees Galbraith as a leading contributor to an institutionalist theory of discretionary pricing together with Veblen, Walton H.Hamilton and Gardiner C.Means (Tool, 1995:54).
    From ‘Economist with a Purpose – Essays in Honor of Kenneth Galbraith,’ 2001

  • wszykitka

    Given your sincere search for a pathway to an evolutionary advance in economics, I’m compeled to suggest that the first step to understanding the process is to admit that economists are not economists at all, but are better described as financialists. The economic system, that is, the production and distribution of goods and services, is one thing; the financial system that controls it is something else altogether, and it is the conflation of the two by the economics profession that has contributed to the widespread belief that we can’t have one without the other. In the 60s, R. Buckminster Fuller had that dichotomy in mind when he estimated that in the United States, the most advanced economic system in the world, 60 percent of the jobs produced nothing of life-sustaining value. Compare the number of farmers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, truck drivers, doctors, factory workers, etc. with the number of bankers accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, stock brokers, cashiers, bill collectors, and other bean (money) counters. Today, the figure is likely closer to 80 percent. When so-called economists pontificate and theorize, they don’t discuss the production of goods and services except when economics happens to impinge upon the financial system. Do you really think the economic system is incapable of providing every individual in the country with all of life’s essentials? We have the human and natural resources required and an understanding of the physical, chemical, biological, and electromagnetic forces that operate on this planet to provide for everyone. But we don’t. why? The financial system. It’s not the facilitator of economic activity; it’s the inhibitor. So If you’re looking for a way forward, begin by recognizing that the financial system, that is, capitalism, or money-ism, is the cancer that is eating away at the economic system, facilitated by the concept of money, the most lethal concept every coughed up by the human imagination. Really, do you believe the financial system is evolving in a positive direction? This global mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into, with the ingenuity of bankers, lawyers, edge fund gamblers, free-market fixers, and their ilk? Priority One should be to prepare for the time when the entire financial structure collapses, the consequence of a system that encourages greed and corruption. Somebody better start thinking outside the box. Where are all the so-called heterodoxian economists when we need them?

  • Productivity rate is to economic evolution what fitness is to biological evolution?