Beyond the Margins
When this pathology is manifest in an individual it produces unpleasant consequences that might eventually prompt some reflection and personal growth. Not so with the collective delusion of mainstream economists.
Evidence of our ongoing ecological catastrophe falls far from their purview—not just disciplinarily but geographically, as the wealthier nations wherein the vast majority of economists reside export their ecological footprint to the impoverished nations of the world. Undergraduates with any kind of deep personal connection to natural systems tend to find the study of standard economics unattractive, displeasing, even soul-deadening.
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Even so, you might expect that a discipline with such a demonstrably deficient view of its subject matter would fail of its object—would fail to offer wise counsel about the collective project of augmenting the stock of wealth that humans can enjoy. But economics has had much apparent success. Despite regular downturns and financial crises, the wealth produced by our economies has grown and grown and grown.
When your economy operates on an energy source that cranks out wealth-making value in a ratio of to 1 or better—the estimated Energy Return on Energy Invested that petroleum offered us in the early 20 th Century—you can believe any damn thing you want about how economies operate and your economy will still generate a great deal of wealth. Which is to say, high-EROI oil granted the new science of economics immunity from being proven false by events. But falsifiability of principles and propositions is one solid measure of a science.
Non-falsifiable beliefs are called faiths. You could also call it a Midas Problem , after the legendary king whose touch turned everything he touched into gold, including his dinner and his daughter. The power of wealth-generation that oil granted to our economy made it impossible for the discipline of economics to connect in any fundamental way with otherness, including the otherness of the planet and its role in the very processes that economics presumes to model.
All the chief points of the theory were sketched out ten years ago; but they were then published only in the form of a brief paper communicated to the Statistical or Economic Section of the British Association at the Cambridge Meeting, which took place in the year A still briefer abstract of that paper was inserted in the Report of the Meeting, and the paper itself was not printed until June Since writing that paper, I have, over and over again, questioned the truth of my own notions, but without ever finding any reason to doubt their substantial correctness.
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Essay V. On the Definition of Political Economy. - Econlib
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